Genius moments: October 2008
Tuesday 23 December 2008
Schlep of honour
Where did Al Gore snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the 2000 US presidential election? Florida. Fast forward to this year's presidential election, and "The Great Schlep", in which the comic Sarah Silverman and chums started an internet campaign (www.thegreatschlep.com) exhorting Barack Obama supporters to "schlep" down to Florida over one weekend to explain a few basic facts to the state's famously Jewish and elderly voters: that, despite his name, Barack Hussein Obama is not a Muslim, and how much the black and Jewish communities have in common in America. Except, this being Silverman, her video took a pretty good swipe at each demographic. Did it work? Well, Florida polled Democrat. Just.
Now you see him...
A studio interview with South African MP Nhlanhla Nene, a loud crack, the longest 12 seconds of Nene's life... before he disappears from sight behind his desk. Students of slapstick, all you need to know of your noble pursuit is here in this YouTube hit.
The history boy
Many writers understandably regard the ability to flog their archives as their last big pay day. But not Alan Bennett. In a characteristic gesture, our greatest living writer chose to donate his papers, books, scripts, drafts, scribbles and doodles to Oxford University's Bodleian Library for nothing. Bennett stated that the gift "is a kind of small recompense for what I was given. And not merely given by Oxford, I also feel I was given it by the state." "We keep pinching ourselves, we still can't really believe it," said Richard Ovenden, associate director of the library.
A bull in a bear market
Hundreds of hedge funds have gone out of business this year, but none of their managers signed off in quite the style of the American Andrew Lahde. He wagered that the sub-prime disaster would come to pass, and then cashed in his winnings and resigned from his $80m fund with a letter that tore apart the Harvard and Yale "idiots" who he said blight the worlds of Wall Street and government: "All of this behaviour supporting the aristocracy only ended up making it easier for me to find people stupid enough to take the other side of my trades. God bless America." The 37-year-old signed off his missive advocating the legalisation of marijuana and calling upon his former colleagues to "throw away the BlackBerry and enjoy life".
Peaches in the Big Apple
Peaches Geldof hits New York! And New York socks her right back... The 19-year-old announced her arrival in Gotham with a column in style magazine Nylon ("Bunny and I buy pizza from street vendors and run through Times Square marvelling at its energy"). A skinny-jeaned hipster cat-fight ensued – was young Peaches the reincarnation of Kerouac? Or a Brit brat cluttering up the sidewalks? You decide: www.nylonmag.com
Room to swing a cat
The Leopard Man of Skye has finally changed his spot. Tom Leppard famously spent £5,500 covering his body with tattoos and lived in a remote and derelict bothy. For decades he canoed to the nearest town once a week to do his shopping. Faced with one more winter, however, the 73-year-old decided to move into a one-bed house in Broadford, Skye: "It's certainly very strange being surrounded by four walls and a roof but I'll get used to it." Talk about selling out. Mr Leppard added: "I'm getting too old for that kind of life."
Pauline shows her class
Never mind John Prescott having a dig at Cherie Blair – the real star of Prescott: The Class System and Me was John's wife Pauline. While John picked at the class scab, the far more relaxed 68-year-old ex-hairdresser quietly stole the show. High point: "How do you tell a lord his zip is down?" she wondered, having spotted that the Earl of Onslow was flying low. "You can't, can you? Shall I curtsey first and then tell him?" Superstardom beckons.
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