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Saturday, December 31, 2016


May the joys of the New Year bring about peace and love in the world for 2017. I wish all of my loyal 'OZ' readers a truly Happy New Year! It seems like just yesterday we had New Year 2016. Well, I wish the best for all of you for the brand new year!

Yours in 'OZ',

The Wizard.
(psst: My name is Brian...)

Happy 150th CANADA!!!!

New Year’s Eve - A short story by Sally Cronin

From Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

New Year’s Eve by Sally Cronin

Kenneth Fitzgerald looked across the crowded ballroom at the woman that he had loved for a lifetime. Georgina was surrounded by attentive male admirers, and was holding court as she always did, with elegance and grace. He watched as she tilted her head to one side to listen to the young man sitting next to her, cupping her hand delicately behind her ear, to better hear his comments over the sound of the band.

The handsome companion was her grandson Timothy, and even at first glance you could see the resemblance; the same blue eyes, golden hair colour and a long refined nose. Georgie was 90 years old and yet her beauty was undiminished. Kenneth knew he was biased. He remembered his stunned reaction to meeting her for the first time over 70 years ago, in this same ballroom on New Year’s Eve 1935.

Georgina Crowley was the daughter of a millionaire financier who had managed to survive the Wall Street crash in 1929, by converting his wealth in previous years, into a renowned art collection. Malcolm Crowley was an astute businessman and had never squandered his money on the trappings of wealth. He had also salted away cash and jewellery on his various international travels, providing a comfortable buffer for the family, and those that had worked for him loyally over the last thirty years.

He was as canny with his three children as he was with his wealth. His two sons had followed him into the firm after studying for business degrees , and Georgina had also been encouraged to go to college, where she was now training to be a teacher. Malcolm firmly believed that all his children should have skills that could support them, should the financial climate not improve significantly in his lifetime. That is not to say that his youngest child did not also enjoy the benefits of being part of a wealthy family. Georgina was known to have exquisite taste, and her slim figure was the perfect shape to model the latest fashions. To be fair, many of the designs were copied from the leading fashion magazines, and recreated on her treasured Singer sewing machine

Kenneth brought himself back to the present and felt his heart pounding in his chest. It was the same every year, when he remembered that first New Year’s Eve, when he had fallen madly in love at first sight with Georgina Crowley. It had not been a one-sided infatuation, and at that first touch of her delicate hand in his own, he had felt a tremor that caused him to look up into her face. Her pink lips had parted in surprise and her smile dazzled him.

They had danced all night circling the floor; perfectly matched in their love of the foxtrot and quickstep. The other partygoers had moved to one side to watch this golden couple as they seamlessly moved from one dance to another. Even Malcolm Crowley paused in his discussions with a group of men, to watch his daughter’s delight in this young man’s embrace.

Kenneth had wanted to kiss those pink lips at midnight but was aware of the scrutiny from those around them. He had whispered in Georgina’s ear as they waltzed to the final tune of the old year.

‘Shall we slip away at midnight and find some moon and starlight?’

She had looked into his eyes and smiled, nodding her head in agreement.

As the clock struck midnight, Georgina rushed to her parents at their table and kissed and hugged them both. In the ensuing rush as the other guests did likewise, the two of them had slipped out of the large double doors at the end of the ballroom. Kenneth had guided her to his car parked along the drive. He grabbed a blanket from the back seat of the roadster and placed it around Georgina’s shoulders before helping her into the front seat. He raced around to the other side of the car and within minutes they were roaring down the hill from the house into the dark night.

Kenneth drove carefully as the road was slick with ice and he was aware that he was responsible for a very precious cargo. Although it was a cold night he knew just the place to take Georgina on this magical occasion. A spot high above the city, where the lights and sounds of New Year’s Eve would provide a backdrop for their first kiss.

He looked across at Georgina as she clasped the plaid blanket around her bare shoulders, and smiled at her obvious delight at this adventure. His eyes were only off the road for seconds, but it was still long enough for him to miss the broken down car around a curve in the road.

He regained consciousness and raised his hand to his forehead; it came away wet and sticky. He wiped blood from his eyes and tried to move his body. Finally he was able to push himself into a sitting position against the upturned roadster and he desperately looked for Georgina. The moon came out from behind a cloud and he took a sharp intake of breath as he saw her crumpled form by the rear bumper of the car. He crawled across and managed to pull her crushed and lifeless body into his arms… his heart was pounding in his chest and he tried to wake her by touching her face and calling her name. After several minutes he rested his head back against the car and he knew that she was gone.

‘Please, please do not take her … it is my fault and it should be me… take me… please take me and save her.’

On New Year’s Day, Georgie asked her youngest grandson to drive her to the cemetery. She came here often to visit her husband’s grave. Phillip had been a wonderful man and she had grown to love him during the long summer of 1942. They had twin sons born in 1944 but tragically Phillip had been killed in the last weeks of the war. He had been brought home and buried in the Crowley family plot close by her house and their sons. She still missed his loving kindness. However, she admitted to herself that it was a different kind of love to the one that has swept her off her feet that magical New Year’s Eve in 1935.

Whilst her grandson watched from the car, Georgina spent some minutes at Phillip’s monument. Then walking carefully, leaning on her stick, she moved down the icy path until she stopped before another gravestone. Tears gathered in her pale blue eyes as she read the inscription.

Kenneth Fitzgerald
Beloved son and brother.
1910 – 1935
Killed in an automobile accident.

It was 70 years ago, and yet every New Year’s Day, Georgie relived those dreadful first moments when she had woken in the hospital. She had a dreadful headache but thankfully didn’t seem to have any other major injuries. Her mother and father were sitting by her bedside and Malcolm gently took her hand in his. Her first words were asking for Kenneth, and she still remembered the look of anguish on her father’s face as he braced himself to tell her the news.

She touched the top of the headstone and smiled to herself. He had been there again last night at the family ball, watching from the shadows as he had done every year, and she had felt that same giddy feeling as that first New Year’s Eve. She suspected that this time however it was more likely that her medication was no longer effective in keeping her failing heart beating.

She felt a touch on her shoulder and looked up into the smiling face of her grandson.

‘Time to go Gran.. It is getting cold and I need to get you back home.’

Georgie took his arm and they moved carefully up the path. She turned for one last look at Kenneth’s grave.

She whispered to herself. ‘Next year my love, next year we will dance again together on New Year’s Eve.’

©sallycronin 2016
Please visit Sally Cronin's website for wonderful and great shoet stories!

Happy New Year's Eve

I have just one wish for everyone this New Year's Eve


Let's all be here for 2017

How to Secure Your Webcam in One Minute or Less

By Andy O'Donnell, From LifeWire.com

#1 - Cover it up
"Webcam Cover-Ups - pack of 10" (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) by adafruit
From smartphones and tablets to notebook PCs, webcams seem to be standard equipment these days. Just about every device we use has a camera on it. Did you ever stop to think that while you're staring at your screen, someone on the Internet might be staring back at you?

The national news is awash in stories about hackers tricking users into installing webcam spyware.

How can you be sure that no one is watching you without your permission?

Many webcams on notebook computers have indicator lights on them that let you know when your camera is actively capturing video. It may be possible (on some cameras) to disable the activity light through software hacks or modifying configuration settings. So, just because you don't see an activity light on doesn't mean that your webcam isn't still capturing video.

What can you do to secure your webcam?

The Simple Solution: Cover It Up

Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best ones. If you want to be absolutely sure that no one is watching you through your webcam, get some electrical tape and cover it. If you don't want any tape residue on your camera then you can use a longer strip of tape and fold it back on itself. Not even the best hacker in the world can defeat electrical tape.

If you want to get a little more sophisticated, you can roll up a coin in the electrical tape so that the weight of the coin helps the tape stay positioned over the camera.

When you want to use the camera, just lift the coin up and fold it back over the top of your computer screen.

There are many other creative solutions that our readers have come up with and posted to our blog site. Maybe someone out there will start a Kickstarter project and come up with a solution that can be sold to the masses.

That is one tip - see the rest at Lifewire.com

Still my dream car

Ever since I was a teen (ok, 18) readin' Car & Driver, I had a dream. I dreamed that one day I would own the car of my dreams. This car would be red, it would be Teutonic (German), it would be lightning fast, it would attract the girls (ok, the guys....;-), and I would have it by the time I was 40.
Well I am now 54. Do I now have the car? No way - No-how and unfortunately, not in the near future. It is selling for €140,000.00 ( approx. £123,309 or $184,841) for a 1980. Yes, that is the current price - !! New it cost about $60K...shoulda bought one then...

The BMW M1 is a sports car that was produced by German automaker BMW from 1978 to 1981. It was the only mid-engined BMW to be mass produced. It employed a twin-cam M88/1 3.5 L 6-cylinder gasoline engine with Kugelfischer mechanical fuel injection. A version of this motor was later used in the South African version of the BMW 745i, of which 209 examples were built between 1984 and 1986, as well as the E24 BMW M6/M635CSi and E28 BMW M5. The engine had six separate throttle butterflies, four valves per cylinder and produced 277 PS (273 hp/204 kW) in the street version, giving a top speed of 260 km/h!

Milestones BMW M1

Specifications :

Type : BMW M1 Project E26

Years built : 1978 - 1981
Production : 457 (400 road versions, the other are race cars)
Chassisnr : n.a.
Presentation : October 1978 Paris Auto Show
Type of car : Two door, two seater fastback coupe
Designed by : Giorgio Giugiaro for Ital Design
Built by : Multi tube chassis by Marchesi, bodywork by Trasformazione Italiana Resina
Final assembly by Baur, Stuttgart Germany

Dimensions :

Wheelbase : 2560 mm
Overall length : 4346 mm
Overall width : 1823 mm
Overall height : 1140 mm
Track front : 1549 mm Rear : 1578 mm
Ground clear. : 124 mm
Overhang,Front : n.a. Rear : n.a.
Weight : 1361 Kg

Chassis :

Structure : Multi tube spaceframe
Body : Fiberglass bodywork
Suspension : Independent front & rear, upper and lower unequal length control-arm with Bilstein shock absorbers and co-axial coil springs and anti-roll bars
Brakes : All-wheel ventilated discs, dual hydraulic circuits, booster and pressure limiter on rear axle.
Front : 11.8 Inch Rear : 11.7 Inch
Steering type : Unassisted rack and pinion
Turning circle : n.a.
Tyres front : 205/55 VR 16 Rear : 225/50 VR 16
Rims front : 7x16 inch Rear : 8x16 inch
Cast light-alloy

Engine :

Type : Inline 6 cylinder (type M-89), cast iron block, mid mounted longitudal), rear wheel drive
Distribution : Dual overhead camshafts, chain drive, four valves/cylinder
Main bearings : n.a.
Cyl. Capacity : 3453 cc
Bore & stroke : 93.4 x 84 mm
Compr. ratio : 9.0:1
Max. power : 277 bhp at 6500 rpm (Group 4 specs : 477 Bhp)
Max. torque : 243 lbs.ft. at 5000 rpm (Group 5 specs : 850 Bhp from 3.2 Litre turbo-charged engine)
Cooling system : Water cooled
Emission contr.: n.a.
Ignition : n.a.
Plugs : n.a.
Electr. system : 12 V
Alternator : n.a.
Fuel system : Kugelfisher Bosch mechanical port fuel injection
Fuel type : n.a.
Fuel cons. : n.a.
Lubrication : dry sump

Drive train :

Type : ZF five speed close ratio
Clutch : n.a.
Gear ratio's 1st : 2.42:1 2nd : 1.61:1 3rd : 1.14:1
4th : 0.846:1 5th : 0.704:1 Rev.: 2.86:1
Final drive : 4.22:1

Capacities :

Fuel : n.a. Engine oil : n.a.
Luggage : n.a. Cooling system : n.a.

Performance :

Top speed : 262 Km.h
0 - 100 Km/h : 5.6 sec Standing Km. : n.a.

Price : $ 53.000 (1978)

Current value : $ 190.000 to $ 300.000

BMW M1 - click here for a larger picture

I still lose my breath when I see these in pictures! Can't wait to have one in my parking spot - oh yeah, that's right. Ain't gonna happen! -- hey Dad, my birthday is coming up! :-)

*--Post is dedicated to my best friend Randall - may you rest in peace--

Friday, December 30, 2016

The top 10 deadliest animals

Pythons 0.5 deaths per year

Hogs 0.6 deaths per year

Tigers 0.6 deaths per year

Elephants 1.0 death per year

Birds 5.2 deaths per year

Insects 8.4 deaths per year

Dogs 16 deaths per year

Cattle 28.4 deaths per year

Deer 130 deaths per year

Horses, 219 annual deaths to humans in accidents and other incidents

--Note that the most scary animals count for the LEAST number of deaths... and it's funny that "Alabamius Redneckus " does not hit the list... (Use Google to look that one up! ;-)

Your Friday Afternoon Diversion - A Little Cloud - Story hand picked by The Wizard of 'OZ'

by James Joyce
A Little Cloud  by James Joyce
Eight years before he had seen his friend off at the North Wall and wished him God-speed. Gallaher had got on. You could tell that at once by his travelled air, his well-cut tweed suit, and fearless accent. Few fellows had talents like his, and fewer still could remain unspoiled by such success. Gallaher's heart was in the right place and he had deserved to win. It was something to have a friend like that.

Little Chandler's thoughts ever since lunch-time had been of his meeting with Gallaher, of Gallaher's invitation, and of the great city London where Gallaher lived. He was called Little Chandler because, though he was but slightly under the average stature, he gave one the idea of being a little man. His hands were white and small, his frame was fragile, his voice was quiet and his manners were refined. He took the greatest care of his fair silken hair and moustache, and used perfume discreetly on his handkerchief. The half-moons of his nails were perfect, and when he smiled you caught a glimpse of a row of childish white teeth.

As he sat at his desk in the King's Inns he thought what changes those eight years had brought. The friend whom he had known under a shabby and necessitous guise had become a brilliant figure on the London Press. He turned often from his tiresome writing to gaze out of the office window. The glow of a late autumn sunset covered the grass plots and walks. It cast a shower of kindly golden dust on the untidy nurses and decrepit old men who drowsed on the benches; it flickered upon all the moving figures - on the children who ran screaming along the gravel paths and on everyone who passed through the gardens. He watched the scene and thought of life; and (as always happened when he thought of life) he became sad. A gentle melancholy took possession of him. He felt how useless it was to struggle against fortune, this being the burden of wisdom which the ages had bequeathed to him.

He remembered the books of poetry upon his shelves at home. He had bought them in his bachelor days and many an evening, as he sat in the little room off the hall, he had been tempted to take one down from the bookshelf and read out something to his wife. But shyness had always held him back; and so the books had remained on their shelves. At times he repeated lines to himself and this consoled him.

When his hour had struck he stood up and took leave of his desk and of his fellow-clerks punctiliously. He emerged from under the feudal arch of the King's Inns, a neat modest figure, and walked swiftly down Henrietta Street. The golden sunset was waning and the air had grown sharp. A horde of grimy children populated the street. They stood or ran in the roadway, or crawled up the steps before the gaping doors, or squatted like mice upon the thresholds. Little Chandler gave them no thought. He picked his way deftly through all that minute vermin-like life and under the shadow of the gaunt spectral mansions in which the old nobility of Dublin had roistered. No memory of the past touched him, for his mind was full of a present joy.

He had never been in Corless's, but he knew the value of the name. He knew that people went there after the theatre to eat oysters and drink liqueurs; and he had heard that the waiters there spoke French and German. Walking swiftly by at night he had seen cabs drawn up before the door and richly-dressed ladies, escorted by cavaliers, alight and enter quickly. They wore noisy dresses and many wraps. Their faces were powdered and they caught up their dresses, when they touched earth, like alarmed Atalantas. He had always passed without turning his head to look. It was his habit to walk swiftly in the street even by day, and whenever he found himself in the city late at night he hurried on his way apprehensively and excitedly. Sometimes, however, he courted the causes of his fear. He chose the darkest and narrowest streets and, as he walked boldly forward, the silence that was spread about his footsteps troubled him; the wandering, silent figures troubled him; and at times a sound of low fugitive laughter made him tremble like a leaf.

He turned to the right towards Capel Street. Ignatius Gallaher on the London Press! Who would have thought it possible eight years before? Still, now that he reviewed the past, Little Chandler could remember many signs of future greatness in his friend. People used to say that Ignatius Gallaher was wild. Of course, he did mix with a rakish set of fellows at that time; drank freely and borrowed money on all sides. In the end he had got mixed up in some shady affair, some money transaction: at least, that was one version of his flight. But nobody denied him talent. There was always a certain... something in Ignatius Gallaher that impressed you in spite of yourself. Even when he was out at elbows and at his wits' end for money he kept up a bold face. Little Chandler remembered (and the remembrance brought a slight flush of pride to his cheek) one of Ignatius Gallaher's sayings when he was in a tight corner:

'Half-time now, boys,' he used to say light-heartedly. 'Where's my considering cap?'

That was Ignatius Gallaher all out; and, damn it, you couldn't but admire him for it.

Little Chandler quickened his pace. For the first time in his life he felt himself superior to the people he passed. For the first time his soul revolted against the dull inelegance of Capel Street. There was no doubt about it: if you wanted to succeed you had to go away. You could do nothing in Dublin. As he crossed Grattan Bridge he looked down the river towards the lower quays and pitied the poor stunted houses. They seemed to him a band of tramps, huddled together along the river-banks, their old coats covered with dust and soot, stupefied by the panorama of sunset and waiting for the first chill of night to bid them arise, shake themselves and begone. He wondered whether he could write a poem to express his idea. Perhaps Gallaher might be able to get it into some London paper for him. Could he write something original? He was not sure what idea he wished to express, but the thought that a poetic moment had touched him took life within him like an infant hope. He stepped onward bravely.

Every step brought him nearer to London, farther from his own sober inartistic life. A light began to tremble on the horizon of his mind. He was not so old - thirty-two. His temperament might be said to be just at the point of maturity. There were so many different moods and impressions that he wished to express in verse. He felt them within him. He tried to weigh his soul to see if it was a poet's soul. Melancholy was the dominant note of his temperament, he thought, but it was a melancholy tempered by recurrences of faith and resignation and simple joy. If he could give expression to it in a book of poems perhaps men would listen. He would never be popular: he saw that. He could not sway the crowd, but he might appeal to a little circle of kindred minds. The English critics, perhaps, would recognize him as one of the Celtic school by reason of the melancholy tone of his poems; besides that, he would put in allusions. He began to invent sentences and phrases from the notice which his book would get. 'Mr Chandler has the gift of easy and graceful verse'... 'A wistful sadness pervades these poems'... 'The Celtic note'. It was a pity his name was not more Irish-looking. Perhaps it would be better to insert his mother's name before the surname: Thomas Malone Chandler; or better still: T. Malone Chandler. He would speak to Gallaher about it.

He pursued his reverie so ardently that he passed his street and had to turn back. As he came near Corless's his former agitation began to overmaster him and he halted before the door in indecision. Finally he opened the door and entered.

The light and noise of the bar held him at the doorway for a few moments. He looked about him, but his sight was confused by the shining of many red and green wine-glasses. The bar seemed to him to be full of people and he felt that the people were observing him curiously. He glanced quickly to right and left (frowning slightly to make his errand appear serious), but when his sight cleared a little he saw that nobody had turned to look at him: and there, Sure enough, was Ignatius Gallaher leaning with his back against the counter and his feet planted far apart.

'Hallo, Tommy, old hero, here you are! What is it to be? What will you have? I'm taking whisky: better stuff than we get across the water. Soda? Lithia? No mineral? I'm the same. Spoils the flavour... Here, garon, bring us two halves of malt whisky, like a good fellow... Well, and how have you been pulling along since I saw you last? Dear God, how old we're getting! Do you see any signs of ageing in me - eh, what? A little grey and thin on the top - what?'

Ignatius Gallaher took off his hat and displayed a large closely-cropped head. His face was heavy, pale, and clean-shaven. His eyes, which were of bluish slate-colour, relieved his unhealthy pallor and shone out plainly above the vivid orange tie he wore. Between these rival features the lips appeared very long and shapeless and colourless. He bent his head and felt with two sympathetic fingers the thin hair at the crown. Little Chandler shook his head as a denial. Ignatius Gallaher put on his hat again.

'It pulls you down,' he said. 'Press life. Always hurry and scurry, looking for copy and sometimes not finding it: and then, always to have something new in your stuff. Damn proofs and printers, I say, for a few days. I'm deuced glad, I can tell you, to get back to the old country. Does a fellow good, a bit of a holiday. I feel a ton better since I landed again in dear, dirty Dublin... Here you are, Tommy. Water? Say when.'

Little Chandler allowed his whisky to be very much diluted.

'You don't know what's good for you, my boy,' said Ignatius Gallaher. 'I drink mine neat.'

'I drink very little as a rule,' said Little Chandler modestly. 'An odd half-one or so when I meet any of the old crowd: that's all.'

'Ah well,' said Ignatius Gallaher cheerfully, 'here's to us and to old times and old acquaintance.'

They clinked glasses and drank the toast.

'I met some of the old gang today,' said Ignatius Gallaher. 'O'Hara seems to be in a bad way. What's he doing?'

'Nothing,' said Little Chandler. 'He's gone to the dogs.'

'But Hogan has a good sit, hasn't he?'

'Yes, be's in the Land Commission.'

'I met him one night in London and he seemed to be very flush... Poor O'Hara! Booze, I suppose?'

'Other things, too,' said Little Chandler shortly.

Ignatius Gallaher laughed.

'Tommy,' he said, 'I see you haven't changed an atom. You're the very same serious person that used to lecture me on Sunday mornings when I had a sore head and a fur on my tongue. You'd want to knock about a bit in the world. Have you never been anywhere even for a trip?'

'I've been to the Isle of Man,' said Little Chandler.

Ignatius Gallaher laughed.

'The Isle of Man!' he said. 'Go to London or Paris: Paris, for choice. That'd do you good.'

'Have you seen Paris?'

'I should think I have! I've knocked about there a little.'

'And is it really so beautiful as they say?' asked Little Chandler.

He sipped a little of his drink while Ignatius Gallaher finished his boldly.

'Beautiful?' said Ignatius Gallaher, pausing on the word and on the flavour of his drink. 'It's not so beautiful, you know. Of course it is beautiful... But it's the life of Paris; that's the thing. Ah, there's no city like Paris for gaiety, movement, excitement... '

Little Chandler finished his whisky and, after some trouble, succeeded in catching the barman's eye. He ordered the same again.

'I've been to the Moulin Rouge,' Ignatius Gallaher continued when the barman had removed their glasses, 'and I've been to all the Bohemian cafŽs. Hot stuff! Not for a pious chap like you, Tommy.'

Little Chandler said nothing until the barman returned with two glasses: then he touched his friend's glass lightly and reciprocated the former toast. He was beginning to feel somewhat disillusioned. Gallaher's accent and way of expressing himself did not please him. There was something vulgar in his friend which lie had not observed before. But perhaps it was only the result of living in London amid the bustle and competition of the Press. The old personal charm was still there under this new gaudy manner. And, after all, Gallaher had lived, he had seen the world. Little Chandler looked at his friend enviously.

'Everything in Paris is gay,' said Ignatius Gallaher. 'They believe in enjoying life - and don't you think they're right? If you want to enjoy yourself properly you must go to Paris. And, mind you, they've a great feeling for the Irish there. When they heard I was from Ireland they were ready to eat me, man.'

Little Chandler took four or five sips from his glass.

'Tell me,' he said, 'is it true that Paris is so... immoral as they say?'

Ignatius Gallaher made a catholic gesture with his right arm.

'Every place is immoral,' he said. 'Of course you do find spicy bits in Paris. Go to one of the students' balls, for instance. That's lively, if you like, when the cocottes begin to let themselves loose. You know what they are, I suppose?'

'I've heard of them,' said Little Chandler.

Ignatius Gallaher drank off his whisky and shook his head.

'Ah,' he said, 'you may say what you like. There's no woman like the Parisienne - for style, for go.'

'Then it is an immoral city,' said Little Chandler, with timid insistence - 'I mean, compared with London or Dublin?'

'London!' said Ignatius Gallaher. 'It's six of one and half a dozen of the other. You ask Hogan, my boy. I showed him a bit about London when he was over there. He'd open your eye... I say, Tommy, don't make punch of that whisky: liquor up.'

'No, really.'

'O, come on, another one won't do you any harm. What is it? The same again, I suppose?'

'Well... all right.'

'Franois, the same again... Will you smoke, Tommy?'

Ignatius Gallaher produced his cigar-case. The two friends lit their cigars and puffed at them in silence until their drinks were served.

'I'll tell you my opinion,' said Ignatius Gallaher, emerging after some time from the clouds of smoke in which he had taken refuge, 'it's a rum world. Talk of immorality! I've heard of cases - what am I saying? - I've known them: cases of... immorality... '

Ignatius Gallaher puffed thoughtfully at his cigar and then, in a calm historian's tone, he proceeded to sketch for his friend some pictures of the corruption which was rife abroad. He summarized the vices of many capitals and seemed inclined to award the palm to Berlin. Some things he could not vouch for (his friends had told him), but of others he had had personal experience. He spared neither rank nor caste. He revealed many of the secrets of religious houses on the Continent and described some of the practices which were fashionable in high society, and ended by telling, with details, a story about an English duchess - a story which he knew to be true. Little chandler was astonished.

'Ah, well,' said Ignatius Gallaher, 'here we are in old jog-along Dublin where nothing is known of such things.'

'How dull you must find it,' said Little Chandler, 'after all the other places you've seen!'

'Well,' said Ignatius Gallaher, 'it's a relaxation to come over here, you know. And, after all, it's the old country, as they say, isn't it? You can't help having a certain feeling for it. That's human nature... But tell me something about yourself. Hogan told me you had... tasted the joys of connubial bliss. Two years ago, wasn't it?'

Little Chandler blushed and smiled.

'Yes,' he said. 'I was married last May twelve months.'

'I hope it's not too late in the day to offer my best wishes,' said Ignatius Gallaher. 'I didn't know your address or I'd have done so at the time.'

He extended his hand, which Little Chandler took.

'Well, Tommy,' he said, 'I wish you and yours every joy in life, old chap, and tons of money, and may you never die till I shoot you. And that's the wish of a sincere friend, an old friend. You know that?'

'I know that,' said Little Chandler.

'Any youngsters?' said Ignatius Gallaher.

Little Chandler blushed again.

'We have one child,' he said.

'Son or daughter?'

'A little boy.'

Ignatius Gallaher slapped his friend sonorously on the back.

'Bravo,' he said, 'I wouldn't doubt you, Tommy.'

Little Chandler smiled, looked confusedly at his glass and bit his lower lip with three childishly white front teeth.

'I hope you'll spend an evening with us,' he said, 'before you go back. My wife will be delighted to meet you. We can have a little music and--'

'Thanks awfully, old chap,' said Ignatius Gallaher, 'I'm sorry we didn't meet earlier. But I must leave tomorrow night.'

'Tonight, perhaps... ?'

'I'm awfully sorry, old man. You see I'm over here with another fellow, clever young chap he is too, and we arranged to go to a little card-party. Only for that... '

'O, in that case... '

'But who knows?' said Ignatius Gallaher considerately. 'Next year I may take a little skip over here now that I've broken the ice. It's only a pleasure deferred.'

'Very well,' said Little Chandler, 'the next time you come we must have an evening together. That's agreed now, isn't it?'

'Yes, that's agreed,' said Ignatius Gallaher. 'Next year if I come, parole d'honneur.'

'And to clinch the bargain,' said Little Chandler, 'we'll just have one more now.'

Ignatius Gallaher took out a large gold watch and looked at it.

'Is it to be the last?' he Said. 'Because, you know, I have an a.p.'

'O, yes, positively,' said Little Chandler.

'Very well, then,' said Ignatius Gallaher, 'let us have another one as a deoc an doirus - that's good vernacular for a small whisky, I believe.'

Little Chandler ordered the drinks. The blush which had risen to his face a few moments before was establishing itself. A trifle made him blush at any time: and now he felt warm and excited. Three small whiskies had gone to his head and Gallaher's strong cigar had confused his mind, for he was a delicate and abstinent person. The adventure of meeting Gallaher after eight years, of finding himself with Gallaher in Corless's surrounded by lights and noise, of listening to Gallaher's stories and of sharing for a brief space Gallaher's vagrant and triumphant life, upset the equipoise of his sensitive nature. He felt acutely the contrast between his own life and his friend's, and it seemed to him unjust. Gallaher was his inferior in birth and education. He was sure that he could do something better than his friend had ever done, or could ever do, something higher than mere tawdry journalism if he only got the chance. What was it that stood in his way? His unfortunate timidity! He wished to vindicate himself in some way, to assert his manhood. He saw behind Gallaher's refusal of his invitation. Gallaher was only patronizing him by his friendliness just as he was patronizing Ireland by his visit.

The barman brought their drinks. Little Chandler pushed one glass towards his friend and took up the other boldly.

'Who knows?' he said, as they lifted their glasses. 'When you come next year I may have the pleasure of wishing long life and happiness to Mr and Mrs Ignatius Gallaher.'

Ignatius Gallaher in the act of drinking closed one eye expressively over the rim of his glass. When he had drunk he smacked his lips decisively, set down his glass and said:

'No blooming fear of that, my boy. I'm going to have my fling first and see a bit of life and the world before I put my head in the sack - if I ever do.'

'Some day you will,' said Little Chandler calmly.

Ignatius Gallaher turned his orange tie and slate-blue eyes full upon his friend.

'You think so?' he said.

'You'll put your head in the sack,' repeated Little Chandler stoutly, 'like everyone else if you can find the girl.'

He had slightly emphasized his tone, and he was aware that he had betrayed himself; but, though the colour had heightened in his cheek, he did not flinch from his friends' gaze. Ignatius Gallaher watched him for a few moments and then said:

'If ever it occurs, you may bet your bottom dollar there'll be no mooning and spooning about it. I mean to marry money. She'll have a good fat account at the bank or she won't do for me.'

Little Chandler shook his head.

'Why, man alive,' said Ignatius Gallaher, vehemently, 'do you know what it is? I've only to say the word and tomorrow I can have the woman and the cash. You don't believe it? Well, I know it. There are hundreds - what am I saying? - thousands of rich Germans and Jews, rotten with money, that'd only be too glad... You wait a while, my boy. See if I don't play my cards properly. When I go about a thing I mean business, I tell you. You just wait.'

He tossed his glass to his mouth, finished his drink and laughed loudly. Then he looked thoughtfully before him and said in a calmer tone:

'But I'm in no hurry. They can wait. I don't fancy tying myself up to one woman, you know.'

He imitated with his mouth the act of tasting and made a wry face.

'Must get a bit stale, I should think,' he said.


Little Chandler sat in the room off the hall, holding a child in his arms. To save money they kept no servant, but Annie's young sister Monica came for an hour or so in the morning and an hour or So in the evening to help. But Monica had gone home long ago. It was a quarter to nine. Little Chandler had come home late for tea and, moreover, he had forgotten to bring Annie home the parcel of coffee from Bewley's. Of course she was in a bad humour and gave him short answers. She said she would do without any tea, but when it came near he time at which the shop at the corner closed she decided to go out herself for a quarter of a pound of tea and two pounds of sugar. She put the sleeping child deftly in his arms and said:

'Here. Don't waken him.'

A little lamp with a white china shade stood upon the table and its light fell over a photograph which was enclosed in a frame of crumpled horn. It was Annie's photograph. Little Chandler looked at it, pausing at the thin tight lips. She wore the pale blue summer blouse which he had brought her home as a present one Saturday. It had cost him ten and elevenpence; but what an agony of nervousness it had cost him! How he had suffered that day, waiting at the shop door until the shop was empty, standing at the counter and trying to appear at his ease while the girl piled ladies' blouses before him, paying at the desk and forgetting to take up the odd penny of his change, being called back by the cashier, and finally, striving to hide his blushes as he left the shop by examining the parcel to see if it was Securely tied. When he brought the blouse home Annie kissed him and said it was very pretty and stylish; but when she heard the price she threw the blouse on the table and said it was a regular swindle to charge ten and elevenpence for it. At first she wanted to take it back, but when she tried it on she was delighted with it, especially with the make of the sleeves, and kissed him and said he was very good to think of her.


He looked coldly into the eyes of the photograph and they answered coldly. Certainly they were pretty and the face itself was pretty. But he found something mean in it. Why was it so unconscious and ladylike? The composure of the eyes irritated him. They repelled him and defied him: there was no passion in them, no rapture. He thought of what Gallaher had said about rich Jewesses. Those dark Oriental eyes, he thought, how full they are of passion, of voluptuous longing!... Why had he married the eyes in the photograph?

He caught himself up at the question and glanced nervously round the room. He found something mean in the pretty furniture which he had bought for his house on the hire system. Annie had chosen it herself and it reminded him of her. It too was prim and pretty. A dull resentment against his life awoke within him. Could he not escape from his little house? Was it too late for him to try to live bravely like Gallaher? Could he go to London? There was the furniture still to be paid for. If he could only write a book and get it published, that might open the way for him.

A volume of Byron's poems lay before him on the table. He opened it cautiously with his left hand lest he should waken the child and began to read the first poem in the book:

Hushed are the winds and still the evening gloom, Not e'en a Zephyr wanders through the grove, Whilst I return to view my Margaret's tomb And scatter flowers on the dust I love.

He paused. He felt the rhythm of the verse about him in the room. How melancholy it was! Could he, too, write like that, express the melancholy of his soul in verse? There were so many things he wanted to describe: his sensation of a few hours before on Grattan Bridge, for example. If he could get back again into that mood...

The child awoke and began to cry. He turned from the page and tried to hush it: but it would not be hushed. He began to rock it to and fro in his arms, but its wailing cry grew keener. He rocked it faster while his eyes began to read the second stanza:

Within this narrow cell reclines her clay, That clay where once...

It was useless. He couldn't read. He couldn't do anything. The wailing of the child pierced the drum of his ear. It was useless, useless! He was a prisoner for life. His arms trembled with anger and suddenly bending to the child's face he shouted:


The child stopped for an instant, had a spasm of fright and began to scream. He jumped up from his chair and walked hastily up and down the room with the child in his arms. it began to sob piteously, losing its breath for four or five seconds, and then bursting out anew. The thin walls of the room echoed the sound. He tried to soothe it, but it sobbed more convulsively. He looked at the contracted and quivering face of the child and began to be alarmed. He counted seven sobs without a break between them and caught the child to his breast in fright. If it died!...

The door was burst open and a young woman ran in, panting.

'What is it? What is it?' she cried.

The child, hearing its mother's voice, broke out into a paroxysm of sobbing.

'It's nothing, Annie... it's nothing... He began to cry... '

She flung her parcels on the floor and snatched the child from him.

'What have you done to him?' she cried, glaring into his face.

Little Chandler sustained for one moment the gaze of her eyes and his heart closed together as he met the hatred in them. He began to stammer:

'It's nothing... He... he... began to cry... I couldn't... I didn't do anything... What?'

Giving no heed to him she began to walk up and down the room, clasping the child tightly in her arms and murmuring:

'My little man! My little mannie! Was 'ou frightened, love?'... There now, love! There now!... Lambabaun! Mamma's little lamb of the world!... There now!'

Little Chandler felt his cheeks suffused with shame and he stood back out of the lamplight. He listened while the paroxysm of the child's sobbing grew less and less; and tears of remorse started to his eyes.

Bell Let's Talk 2017 - Clara Hughes Testimonoial

One of my few heroes

I went to a party

I went to a party,
And remembered what you said.
You told me not to drink, Mom
So I had a sprite instead.

I felt proud of myself,
The way you said I would,
That I didn't drink and drive,
Though some friends said I should.

I made a healthy choice,
And your advice to me was right,
The party finally ended,
And the kids drove out of sight.

I got into my car,
Sure to get home in one piece,
I never knew what was coming,
Mom Something I expected least.

Now I'm lying on the pavement,
And I hear the policeman say,
The kid that caused this wreck was drunk,
Mom, his voice seems far away.

My own blood's all around me,
As I try hard not to cry.
I can hear the paramedic say,
This girl is going to die.

I'm sure the guy had no idea,
While he was flying high,
Because he chose to drink and drive,
Now I would have to die.

So why do people do it, Mom
Knowing that it ruins lives?
And now the pain is cutting me,
Like a hundred stabbing knives.

Tell sister not to be afraid, Mom
Tell daddy to be brave,
And when I go to heaven,
Put "Mommy 's Girl" on my grave.

Someone should have taught him,
That it's wrong to drink and drive.
Maybe if his parents had, I'd still be alive.
My breath is getting shorter, Mom

I'm getting really scared.
These are my final moments,
And I'm so unprepared.

I wish that you could hold me Mom,
As I lie here and die.
I wish that I could say, "I love you, Mom!"

So I love you and good-bye.

Click here to go to the MADD homepage

Thursday, December 29, 2016


1. If you are choking on an ice cube, don't panic. Simply pour a cup of boiling water down your throat and presto. The blockage will be almost instantly removed.

2. Clumsy? Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

3. Avoid arguments with the Mrs. about lifting the toilet seat by simply using the sink.
sometimes you just have to pee in the sink
4. For high blood pressure sufferers: simply cut yourself and bleed for a few minutes, thus reducing the pressure in your veins. Remember to use a timer.

5. A mouse trap, placed on top of your alarm clock, will prevent you from rolling over and going back to sleep after you hit the snooze button.

6. If you have a bad cough, take a large dose of laxatives, then you will be afraid to cough.

7. Have a bad toothache? Smash your thumb with a hammer and you will forget about the toothache.

Sometimes, we just need to remember what the rules of life really are:

You only need two tools: WD-40 and Duct Tape.
If it doesn't move and should, use the WD-40. If it shouldn't move and does, use the duct tape.

and finally, remember:

Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

Never pass up a chance to pee, and never underestimate a fart.

If you woke up breathing, congratulations! You get another chance.

And finally, be really nice to your family and friends; you never know when you might need them to empty your bedpan.

Schroeder starts busking as income from Peanuts drops.

"I made a bad deal back in the 50's ... I signed a contract with residuals that were peanuts!"

What's-a matter you? Hey! Gotta no respect

"The Schoolmaster"

What-a you t'ink you do? Why you mek me so sad?
It's-a not so nice
it's-notso nice-a place

shaddap-a you face!
That's-a him. I will remember!
Big deal I say!
Ah ! Say dat again! Really nice
really nice!

Ah, Shaddap-a you face!

*Thanks, A.D., for your inspiration... Forgiven -- Not forgotten

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

RIP Debbie Reynolds

Caricature by Randy Ruppel

Debbie Reynold's dead at 84

One day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher died, Mom Debbie joins her, This is so sad.
Debbie Reynolds dead at 84
from TMZ.com

According to reports, Reynolds met with her son, Todd Fisher, in Beverly Hills on Wednesday to discuss the Star Wars actress’ funeral plans. She was rushed to the hospital from there after reportedly suffering a possible stroke. Todd told TMZ that Reynolds told him she wanted “to be with Carrie.”

The two were extremely close both geographically and emotionally; Carrie lived next door to Reynolds in Beverly Hills.

Shortly after news broke of the Singing in the Rain actress’ death, Ellen DeGeneres, Dane Cook, Al Roker and numerous other celebrities took to social media to mourn the loss of the Hollywood icon.

“I can't imagine what Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds' family are going through this week. I send all of my love,” DeGeneres tweeted, while Cook wrote: “Damn. RIP Debbie Reynolds. Legendary entertainer. I'm sure broken hearted by the loss of her daughter.”
Debbie Reynolds dead at 84

Two Minute Management Course

Lesson One:
An eagle was sitting on a tree resting, doing nothing. A small rabbit saw the eagle and asked him, "Can I also sit on my ass like you and do nothing?"

The eagle answered: "Sure, why not." So, the rabbit sat on the ground below the eagle, and rested. All of a sudden, a fox appeared, jumped on the rabbit and ate it.

Management Lesson:
To be sitting on your ass and doing nothing, you must be sitting very high up.

Lesson Two:
A turkey was chatting with a bull. "I would love to be able to get to the top of that tree," sighed the turkey, "but I haven't got the energy."

"Well, why don't you nibble on some of my manure droppings?" replied the bull. "They're packed with nutrients."

The turkey pecked at a lump of manure, found it actually gave him enough strength to reach the lowest branch of the tree. The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch. Finally after a fourth night, he was proudly perched at the top of the tree. Soon he was promptly spotted by a farmer, who shot the turkey out of the tree.

Management Lesson:
Bull Shit might get you to the top, but it won't keep you there.

Lesson Three:
A little bird was flying south for the winter. It was so cold the bird froze and fell to the ground in a large field. While it was lying there, a cow came by and dropped some dung on it. As the frozen bird lay there in the pile of cow dung, it began to realize how warm it was.

The dung was actually thawing him out. He lay there all warm and happy, and soon began to sing for joy. A passing cat heard the bird singing and came to investigate. Following the sound, the cat discovered the bird under the pile of cow dung, and promptly dug him out and ate him.

Management Lessons:
(1) Not everyone who shits on you is your enemy.
(2) Not everyone who gets you out of shit is your friend.
(3) And when you're in deep shit, it's best to keep your mouth shut!

Laws of the Universe,

These are the laws of the natural universe: (AND TRUE--bet you've experienced most, if not all of them)!!!!!!

Law of Mechanical Repair:
After your hands become coated with grease, your nose will begin to itch.

Law of the Workshop:
Any tool, when dropped, will roll to the least accessible corner.

Law of the Telephone:
When you dial a wrong number, you never get a busy signal.

Law of the Alibi:
If you tell the boss you were late for work because you had a flat tire, the very next morning you will have a flat tire.

Variation Law:
If you change lines or traffic lanes, the one you were in will start to move faster than the one you are in now.

Bath/shower Theorem:
When the body is fully immersed in water, the telephone rings.

Law of Lines:
When you walk in the grocery store, there's never anyone in the checkout line.

Inverse Hair Dryer Law:
You're sure you hear the phone ringing in the background, until you turn the hair dryer off.

Law of Close Encounters:
The probability of meeting someone you know increases when you are with someone you don't want to be seen with.

Law of the Result:
When you try to prove to someone that a machine won't work, it will.

Law of Bio mechanics:
The severity of the itch is inversely proportional to the reach.

Theater Law:
At any event, the people whose seats are farthest from the aisle arrive last.

Law of Coffee: As soon as you sit down to a cup of hot coffee, your boss will ask you to do something that will last until the coffee is cold.

Murphy's Law of Lockers:
If there are only two people in a locker room, they will have adjacent lockers.

Law of Natural Attraction:
If you and your date are the only two on a five-mile stretch of beach, the family of five will set up right next to you.

Law of Dirty Rugs/Carpets:
The chances of an open-faced jelly sandwich landing face down on a floor covering are directly correlated to the newness and cost of the carpet/rug.

Law of Location:
No matter where you go, there you are.

Law of Logical Argument:
Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.

The Wizard needs a Tylenol!

"How Could You?"

When I was a puppy I entertained you with my antics and made you laugh. You called me your child and despite a number of chewed shoes and a couple of murdered throw pillows, I became your best friend. Whenever I was "bad," you'd shake your finger at me and ask "How could you?" - but then you'd relent and roll me over for a bellyrub.

My housetraining took a little longer than expected, because you were terribly busy, but we worked on that together. I remember those nights of nuzzling you in bed, listening to your confidences and secret dreams, and I believed that life could not be any more perfect. We went for long walks and runs in the park, car rides, stops for ice cream (I only got the cone because "ice cream is bad for dogs," you said), and I took long naps in the sun waiting for you to come home at the end of the day.

Gradually, you began spending more time at work and on your career, and more time searching for a human mate. I waited for you patiently, comforted you through heartbreaks and disappointments, never chided you about bad decisions, and romped with glee at your homecomings, and when you fell in love.

She, now your wife, is not a "dog person" - still I welcomed her into our home, tried to show her affection, and obeyed her. I was happy because you were happy. Then the human babies came along and I shared your excitement. I was fascinated by their pinkness, how they smelled, and I wanted to mother them, too. Only she and you worried that I might hurt them, and I spent most of my time banished to another room, or to a dog crate. Oh, how I wanted to love them, but I became a "prisoner of love."

As they began to grow, I became their friend. They clung to my fur and pulled themselves up on wobbly legs, poked fingers in my eyes, investigated my ears and gave me kisses on my nose. I loved everything about them and their touch - because your touch was now so infrequent - and I would have defended them with my life if need be.

I would sneak into their beds and listen to their worries and secret dreams. Together we waited for the sound of your car in the driveway. There had been a time, when others asked you if you had a dog, that you produced a photo of me from your wallet and told them stories about me. These past few years, you just answered "yes" and changed the subject. I had gone from being "your dog" to "just a dog," and you resented every expenditure on my behalf.

Now you have a new career opportunity in another city, and you and they will be moving to an apartment that does not allow pets. You've made the right decision for your "family," but there was a time when I was your only family.

I was excited about the car ride until we arrived at the animal shelter. It smelled of dogs and cats, of fear, of hopelessness. You filled out the paperwork and said "I know you will find a good home for her." They shrugged and gave you a pained look. They understand the realities facing a middle-aged dog or cat, even one with "papers." You had to pry your son's fingers loose from my collar as he screamed "No, Daddy! Please don't let them take my dog!" And I worried for him, and what lessons you had just taught him about friendship and loyalty, about love and responsibility, and about respect for all life. You gave me a goodbye pat on the head, avoided my eyes, and politely refused to take my collar and leash with you. You had a deadline to meet and now I have one, too.

After you left, the two nice ladies said you probably knew about your upcoming move months ago and made no attempt to find me another good home. They shook their heads and asked "How could you?"

They are as attentive to us here in the shelter as their busy schedules allow. They feed us, of course, but I lost my appetite days ago. At first, whenever anyone passed my pen, I rushed to the front, hoping it was you - that you had changed your mind - that this was all a bad dream...or I hoped it would at least be someone who cared, anyone who might save me. When I realized I could not compete with the frolicking for attention of happy puppies, oblivious to their own fate, I retreated to a far corner and waited.

I heard her footsteps as she came for me at the end of the day and I padded along the aisle after her to a separate room. A blissfully quiet room. She placed me on the table, rubbed my ears and told me not to worry. My heart pounded in anticipation of what was to come, but there was also a sense of relief. The prisoner of love had run out of days. As is my nature, I was more concerned about her. The burden which she bears weighs heavily on her and I know that, the same way I knew your every mood.

She gently placed a tourniquet around my foreleg as a tear ran down her cheek. I licked her hand in the same way I used to comfort you so many years ago. She expertly slid the hypodermic needle into my vein. As I felt the sting and the cool liquid coursing through my body, I lay down sleepily, looked into her kind eyes and murmured "How could you?"

Perhaps because she understood my dogspeak, she said "I'm so sorry." She hugged me and hurriedly explained it was her job to make sure I went to a better place, where I wouldn't be ignored or abused or abandoned, or have to fend for myself - a place of love and light so very different from this earthly place. With my last bit of energy, I tried to convey to her with a thump of my tail that my "How could you?" was not meant for her. It was you, My Beloved Master, I was thinking of. I will think of you and wait for you forever.

May everyone in your life continue to show you so much loyalty.

The End

*© Jim Willis 2001

RIP Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A Cops worst nightmare

Two Minute Management Course

Lesson One:
An eagle was sitting on a tree resting, doing nothing. A small rabbit saw the eagle and asked him, "Can I also sit on my ass like you and do nothing?"

The eagle answered: "Sure, why not." So, the rabbit sat on the ground below the eagle, and rested. All of a sudden, a fox appeared, jumped on the rabbit and ate it.

Management Lesson:
To be sitting on your ass and doing nothing, you must be sitting very high up.

Lesson Two:
A turkey was chatting with a bull. "I would love to be able to get to the top of that tree," sighed the turkey, "but I haven't got the energy."

"Well, why don't you nibble on some of my manure droppings?" replied the bull. "They're packed with nutrients."

The turkey pecked at a lump of manure, found it actually gave him enough strength to reach the lowest branch of the tree. The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch. Finally after a fourth night, he was proudly perched at the top of the tree. Soon he was promptly spotted by a farmer, who shot the turkey out of the tree.

Management Lesson:
Bull Shit might get you to the top, but it won't keep you there.

Lesson Three:
A little bird was flying south for the winter. It was so cold the bird froze and fell to the ground in a large field. While it was lying there, a cow came by and dropped some dung on it. As the frozen bird lay there in the pile of cow dung, it began to realize how warm it was.

The dung was actually thawing him out. He lay there all warm and happy, and soon began to sing for joy. A passing cat heard the bird singing and came to investigate. Following the sound, the cat discovered the bird under the pile of cow dung, and promptly dug him out and ate him.

Management Lessons:
(1) Not everyone who shits on you is your enemy.
(2) Not everyone who gets you out of shit is your friend.
(3) And when you're in deep shit, it's best to keep your mouth shut!

Carrie Fisher, Star Wars actress, dies aged 60

US actress Carrie Fisher, best known for her role as Princess Leia in the Star Wars series, has died aged 60, days after suffering a cardiac arrest.

Fisher was taken ill on a flight from London to LA on Friday and was taken to hospital when the plane landed.

But a family statement said with "deep sadness" she died on Tuesday morning.

As well as starring in other films such as The Blues Brothers and When Harry Met Sally, Fisher also wrote four novels and three memoirs.

In a statement released on behalf of Fisher's daughter Billie Lourd, spokesman Simon Halls said: "It is with a very deep sadness that Billie Lourd confirms that her beloved mother Carrie Fisher passed away at 8.55 this morning.


"She was loved by the world and she will be missed profoundly. Our entire family thanks you for your thoughts and prayers."

The daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds, Carrie Fisher made her film debut opposite Warren Beatty in 1975's Shampoo.

But far greater fame was to follow when she played Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy, a role she reprised in last year's reboot The Force Awakens.

She endured a difficult private life, and has often discussed her years of mental illness and drug addiction.

More to come

"Maybe she's born with it. Maybe it's Maybelline."


Two South Texas farmers, Jim and Bob, are sitting at their favorite bar drinking beer. Jim turns to Bob and says, "You know, I'm tired of going through life without an education. Tomorrow I think I'll go to the community college and sign up for some classes." Bob thinks it's a good idea, and the two leave. The next day Jim goes down to the college and meets the dean of admissions, who signs him up for the four basic classes: Math, English, History, and Logic.

"Logic?" Jim says. "What's that?"

The dean says, "I'll show you. Do you own a weedeater?"


"Then logically because you own a weedeater, I think that you would have a yard."

"That's true, I do have a yard."

"I'm not done," the dean says. "Because you have a yard, I think logically that you would have a house."

"Yes, I do have a house."

"And because you have a house, I think that you might logically have a family."

"I have a family."

"I'm not done yet. Because you have a family, then logically you must have a wife."

"Yes, I do have a wife."

"And because you have a wife, then logically you must be a heterosexual."

"I am a heterosexual. That's amazing, you were able to find out all of That because I have a weedeater."

Excited to take the class now, Jim shakes the dean's hand and leaves to go meet Bob at the bar.

He tells Bob about his classes, how he is signed up for Math, English, History, and Logic.

"Logic?" Bob says, "What's that?"

Jim says, "I'll show you. Do you have a weedeater?"


"Then you're gay."

Monday, December 26, 2016

Happy Holidays from The Wizard and his partner

Season's Greetings from The Wizard and his partner Dwight. Click here for a short movie.

Boxing Day: a seasonal short story (was written exclusively for the Evening Standard)

by novelist Tom Rachman, for The Evening Standard

Inhabitants of High Barnet were searching online for 'nipple' and 'grandma' and 'guilt'

Sabre-tooth tigers had marauded through the sitting room, shredding wrapping paper, crumpling chocolate coin wrappers and ripping open gift envelopes, before slinking back upstairs, miffed not to have received the latest iPad.

Danny high-stepped over the Christmas wreckage, string lights blinking on the bedraggled tree, under whose fallen needles lay untouched objects last glimpsed on a shelf at Waterstones. His presents for the kids had flopped, it seemed. Then again, in his own childhood, Mum and Dad had given certain objects gifts he’d spurned but cherished later.

He consulted his watch — as per Boxing Day tradition, Phil was arriving soon. The two friends had met 18 years earlier, aspiring screenwriters in their twenties then, Danny Berger from north London, Phil Schachter from Minneapolis, both secular Jews who had bonded over a secret passion. At first, their predilection had leaked out sheepishly. Finally, they confessed: both were rather partial to Christmas.

Raised on separate continents, they had grown up resenting all the pushy holiday bonhomie, hiding out on December 25 at movie theatres, and not for a seasonal picture. But, just as one shudders at certain tastes when young, only to develop a perverse savour for them in maturity, they reached their mid-twenties with a hankering to stuff stockings, smell pine trees indoors and gnaw limbs off gingerbread men. (Both still shrank from the Christmas ham; there was a limit.)

After Danny married Sue, who was not Jewish, he was able to quench his closeted Yuletide yearnings — always with the excuse of the kids. To be clear, the religious aspects held no interest. It was the pagan indulgence, not least the grub. And Phil joined in, schlepping up to High Barnet annually to scoff their holiday leftovers, all with the pretext of watching Boxing Day football on telly.

As years passed, the two spoke less of their screenplay, placing it gently into that deep snow where hopes retire. Phil was still writing, mostly for small-time TV dramas, bad ones. Danny designed websites from home now, cooked for the family, drove the kids around when Sue was overseas for work.

Danny’s life kept expanding, adding kids and dogs and cat and gerbils and hamsters and mice (some uninvited). Meanwhile, Phil’s life became narrower, more ascetic and directed. When he’d first arrived in London, he had set his heart on some day living by the canals in Maida Vale and moved nearer every few years, obliged to take increasingly cramped flats, thereby reversing the path of his peers, who had started in tiny central digs and entered middle-age on the spacious periphery, besieged by torn wrapping paper. But Phil planned everything, which was why he’d had no kids — if you planned enough, you never ended up eating fajitas at Christmas, as the Bergers had the day before.

“Greetings,” Phil called out (the Bergers’ front door was always unlocked), sloughing off his natty Scandinavian overcoat, which smelled of a recent cigarette. “Your kids don’t rush down the stairs to greet me?”

“Why, did you buy them something?”

“Why, should I have?”

“Absolutely not. They’re over-indulged already,” Danny said, leading Phil upstairs. “We all agreed on non-electronic gifts this year. You’ll see how that went over.”

The first child they encountered was Lily, a pre-teen with flashes of how she used to be when still willing to watch old movies with her parents, though now she inhabited a chillier guise, in make-up and ill-fitting heels. She sat at the computer, engrossed in a shoot-em-up video game.

“Weren’t you and Sam playing Trivial Pursuit?” Danny asked.

“He’s looking at porn on his iPhone.”

“Am not, liar,” said her brother, who slouched from his bedroom, a shag of bouncy hair and a caterpillar moustache, his tight T-shirt emitting the fug of cannabis and sweat. Each time Sam appeared, so did the Seventies.

The adults congregated in the kitchen for cold leftovers, and Sue provided Phil with updates on her life. She worked on conflict resolution in South Sudan, where her local assistant had recently suffered a motorcycle accident, skinning his arm from wrist to shoulder. The only reachable medical facility was a US military outpost, at whose entrance Sue had demanded help. The soldiers obliged, free of charge.

“As an American,” Phil said, “I find it comforting that should I ever be without health insurance in the States and need urgent care, all I have to do is travel to South Sudan.”

“It’d probably be quicker than through the NHS,” Danny grumbled.

“Oh, come on,” Sue said. “The NHS may be rubbish for small things. But if it’s a major issue, the system does snap into action.”

“Yes, what you have to do is complain of shooting chest pains,” Danny said. “And when they’ve got you under the defibrillator, you shout, ‘Oh, and I’ve also got this rash!’ ”

Sue swatted her husband with a napkin; Phil laughed.

“And you?” she asked their guest. “What’s news?”

“Headline is I’m moving.”

“Two yards closer to the canal?”

“No, to California. In January.” Years of coping in London had been all right but he’d been offered work on a new HBO drama. It made sense to be home again.

“And it’s the golden age of television,” Danny remarked, sounding blithe but inwardly disconcerted. This must have been in the works for ages. Phil hadn’t mentioned it. “Golden age of television,” Danny repeated, addressing Sue.

Her eyes widened in nominal agreement, prompting a rush of irritation in Danny at being married to a scold, one who deemed every box-set series a waste of time, and ... Though, this wasn’t how he felt about Sue; he admired her. But aren’t you allowed to feel one way and its opposite about your spouse?

Sam swaggered in, chortling at his smartphone. “Just found literally the most hilarious app. Look, Dad, you can see what words people are looking up online.” The inhabitants of High Barnet, it transpired, were searching for “nipple” and “grandma” and “guilt”.

“Faintly disturbing,” Sue said.

Lily shouted from upstairs, “See what they’re looking up in Chelsea.”

Sam read aloud the answer: “cowering” and “sycophantic” and “griping”. He flashed them the screen. “I’m literally not making this up.”

“And my people?” Phil said.

“Yes, what says Maida Vale?” Danny asked.

“No, check LA,” Phil said.

“In Los Angeles,” the teenager replied momentarily, “it’s ‘peephole’ and ‘ephemeral’ and ‘prodigy’. What’s ‘prodigy’?”

“Not you, dear boy. Not you.”

They switched on the football but nobody really watched, given all the chatter. By the second half, Danny had drifted upstairs. He’d bought no Christmas present for his friend; they never exchanged them. But he wanted to give Phil something. Instead of seeking an impromptu gift, he stood at the edge of his bed, dreaming.

The same person may be switched from ally to enemy. Phil had never invited them to his latest place. Phil’s Leftie politics were such a put-on — was there an American who really hated Boris Johnson that much? And he made cringe-worthy misuses of slang, such as: “Hey, bloke, how’s it going?”

Absurd as Danny knew it to be, he’d still been harbouring expectations that they would make their film together. How long into improbability does one clutch at dry ambitions? Long as possible, he supposed.

“Game’s ending, Dad!”

He grabbed a DVD as a present — Escape to Victory — still with Sainsbury’s £3 price sticker on it.

Phil waited at the bottom of the stairs in his overcoat. “Time to mosey on, I think.”

Danny abandoned the DVD on the stair behind him and hastened down, hand extended, taking Phil’s in both of his, not embracing — they never did. He spoke softly in order that the kids not hear: “You’ve done so well, my friend.”

When alone, Danny lingered before the tinsel-strewn tree. There were places online that enumerate your life: how many more meals you’re likely to have, how many trips abroad, how many Christmases. How many more friends would he have? Friendships were so rare and so brittle. Women seemed to accrue friends with age; men seemed to shed them. He recalled Hanukkah presents as a child, and the competition with his brothers over who had received the bigger gifts.

If there’s a god, Danny thought, he has no idea what to get anyone.

“What are you doing over there?” Sue asked.

“Pondering a godless universe,” he replied cheerfully. “Any mince pies left?”

“I just finished them.”

“That’s proof then: there is no god.”

“But there are gingerbread men.”

“Yes,” he said, following her to the kitchen. “There are always gingerbread men.”