The Special Category

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An optional explanation about the anagram in green, the subject is in black, the anagram is in red.

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901

(If you manage to read this story without laughing then there's absolutely no hope for you.)

For any of you who have lived in Natal, you'll know how typical this is. They actually have a Curry Cook-off around June/July. It takes up a large portion of a parking lot at the Royal Show in Pietermaritzburg.

Judge #3 was an inexperienced food critic named Frank, who was visiting from America.

Frank: "Recently, I was honored to be selected as a judge at the Curry Cook-off. The original person called in sick at the last moment and I happened to be standing there at the judge's table asking them for directions to the beer garden when the call came in. I was assured by the other two judges (Natal Indians) that the curry wouldn't be all that spicy and, besides, they told me I could have free beer during the tasting, so I duly decided I would accept."

Here are the scorecard notes from the event:

MADHU'S MANIAC MONSTER TOMATO CURRY....
Judge # 1 -- A little heavy on tomato, yet amusingly tangy.
Judge # 2 -- Nice smooth tomato flavour. Very mild.
Judge # 3 (Frank) Holy shit, what the hell is this stuff? You could remove dried paint from your driveway with it. Took me two beers to put the flames out. I hope that's the worst one. Dammit, these people are crazy.

DIPALI'S PHOENIX BBQ CHICKEN CURRY...
Judge # 1 -- Smoky, with a hint of chicken. Slight chilli tang.
Judge # 2 -- Exciting flavour, needs more peppers added to be taken seriously.
Judge # 3 -- My God! Keep this out of the reach of children! I'm not sure what I'm supposed to taste besides pain. I had to wave off two people who wanted to give me the Heimlich manoeuvre! They had to rush in more beer on seeing the distress on my face.

PADMA'S FAMOUS "BURN DOWN THE GARAGE" CURRY...
Judge # 1 -- Excellent, peppery, firehouse curry. Great kick.
Judge # 2 -- A bit salty, with good use of chilli peppers.
Judge # 3 -- Call security. I've located a uranium spill. My nose feels like I've been snorting Drain Cleaner. Everyone knows the routine by now. Get me more beer before I ignite. Barmaid pounded me on the back to stop me gagging; now my spine is in the front part of my chest. I'm getting decidedly pissed from all the beer.

GANDHI'S BLACK MAGIC BEAN CURRY...
Judge # 1 -- Black bean curry with almost no spice. Disappointing.
Judge # 2 -- Hint of lime in the beans. Good side dish for fish or other mild foods, not much of a curry.
Judge # 3 -- I felt something scraping across my tongue, but was unable to taste it. Is it possible to burn out taste buds? Sachika, the beer maid, was standing behind me with fresh refills. That 34-stone woman is starting to look HOT... just like this nuclear waste I'm eating! Is chilli an aphrodisiac?

BABOO'S LEGAL LIP REMOVER...
Judge # 1 -- A meaty, strong curry. Freshly ground Cayenne peppers do bestow a considerable kick. Very impressive.
Judge # 2 -- Good-to-average beef curry, could use more tomato. I must admit, the kick of the chilli makes quite a strong statement.
Judge # 3 -- My ears are buzzing, sweat is pouring off my forehead and I can no longer focus my eyes. I farted and four people behind me needed paramedics. The woman contestant seemed offended when I told her that her chilli had given me brain damage. Sachika saved my tongue from bleeding by pouring beer directly onto it from the pitcher. I wonder if I have burnt my lips off. It hacks me off that the other judges asked me to stop screaming. Screw them, the jackasses.

VERISHNA'S VEGETARIAN VARIETY...
Judge # 1 -- Thin yet bold vegetarian curry. A good balance of spices.
Judge # 2 -- Hoorah! The best yet! Aggressive use of peppers, onions, and garlic. Just superb.
Judge # 3 -- My intestines are now a straight pipe filled with gaseous, sulphuric flames. I am without doubt going to shit myself if I fart and I am worried it will eat through the chair. No one seems keen to stand behind me except that Sachika. Can't feel my lips anymore. I need to wipe my arse with a snow cone ice-cream.

SHAKALAKA'S "MOTHER-IN-LAW'S-TONGUE" CURRY...
Judge # 1 -- A mediocre curry with too much reliance on canned peppers.
Judge # 2 -- Okay, but tastes as if the chef literally threw in a can of chilli peppers at the last moment. (I should take note at this stage that I am a bit worried about Judge #3. He appears to be in a bit of distress as he is cursing uncontrollably).
Judge # 3 -- You could put a grenade in my mouth, pull the pin, and I would not feel a thing. I have lost the sight in one eye, and the world sounds like it is filled with rushing water. My khaki shirt is covered with curry which dribbled unnoticed out of my mouth. My pants are full of lava which matches my shirt. At least, during the autopsy, they'll know what killed me. I have decided to stop breathing - it's too painful. Screw it; I'm not getting any oxygen anyway. If I need air I'll just suck it in through the 4-inch hole in my stomach.

BHAKTI'S TOENAIL-CURLING COOKBOOK CURRY...
Judge # 1 -- Ah, the perfect ending. This is a nice, enjoyable curry blend with bite. Not too bold but spicy enough to declare its existence.
Judge # 2 -- This final entry is a good, balanced textbook curry. Not too mild but not too hot. Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge #3 farted, passed out, fell over and pulled the curry pot down on top of himself. Not sure if he is going to make it. Poor man; I wonder how he would have reacted to a really hot curry?
Judge # 3 - No Report.


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902

[Margaret Avison's NEW YEAR'S POEM is anagrammed into four poems (2 are existing and 2 are original) with a hidden constraint -- The first letters in the titles of the four poems spell out "I'M ALSO DRUNK." This hidden constraint was inspired by the third line in the chorus of Robert Burns' AULD LANG SYNE, i.e., "We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet," wherein the word "take" is spelled WITHOUT THE LETTER 'E.' Note that the titles of four poems all start with the vowels 'I,' 'A,' 'O' and 'U' EXCEPT FOR 'E.' Likewise, the sentence "I'M ALSO DRUNK" is 'E'-less..]

NEW YEAR'S POEM
By Margaret Avison

The Christmas twigs crispen and needles rattle
Along the window-ledge.
A solitary pearl
Shed from the necklace spilled at last week's party
Lies in the suety, snow-luminous plainness
Of morning, on the window-ledge beside them.
And all the furniture that circled stately
And hospitable when these rooms were brimmed
With perfumes, furs, and black-and-silver
Crisscross of seasonal conversation, lapses
Into its previous largeness.
I remember
Anne's rose-sweet gravity, and the stiff grave
Where cold so little can contain;
I mark the queer delightful skull and crossbones
Starlings and sparrows left, taking the crust,
And the long loop of winter wind
Smoothing its arc from dark Arcturus down
To the bricked corner of the drifted courtyard,
And the still window-ledge.
Gentle and just pleasure
It is, being human, to have won from space
This unchill, habitable interior
Which mirrors quietly the light
Of the snow, and the new year.

IN MEMORIAM
[Lord Alfred Tennyson]

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

AULD LANG SYNE
[Robert Burns]

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

ONE DRINK, RIGHT?

Distilled refreshments, screwdrivers
Attract bombed people, juiced revelers.
Where's the cellar, or the corkscrew?
What's the spirit? Wow, how time flew!

Trick the tart, pop the champagne;
Distorted senselessness we entertain.
Lost on brands, I'm this dastard inebriate.
Tomorrow's fresh start can wait!

Warm sessions filled with happiness;
Crass commercialism nevertheless.
Transmitted discomforts that we revive.
Cheers! It's splendid I'm still alive!

USE NO KAHLUA

Keep the coffee cocktail;
Won't swallow white wine.
Wish for pot to inhale?
Absinthe's fine!


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903

A STRANGE WILD SONG
By
Lewis Carroll

He thought he saw an Elephant
That practised on a fife:
He looked again, and found it was
A letter from his wife.
"At length I realize," he said,
"The bitterness of life!"

He thought he saw a Buffalo
Upon the chimney-piece:
He looked again, and found it was
His Sister's Husband's Niece.
"Unless you leave this house," he said,
"I'll send for the police!"

He thought he saw a Rattlesnake
That questioned him in Greek:
He looked again, and found it was
The Middle of Next Week.
"The one thing I regret," he said,
"Is that it cannot speak!"

He thought he saw a Banker's Clerk
Descending from the bus:
He looked again, and found it was
A Hippopotamus.
"If this should stay to dine," he said,
"There won't be much for us!"

He thought he saw a Kangaroo
That worked a Coffee-mill:
He looked again, and found it was
A Vegetable-Pill.
"Were I to swallow this," he said,
"I should be very ill!"

He thought he saw a Coach-and-Four
That stood beside his bed:
He looked again, and found it was
A Bear without a Head.
"Poor thing," he said, "poor silly thing!
It's waiting to be fed!"

Adieu To...
THE TITULAR IDIOTS OF MODERN TIMES

He thought he was the U.K's Choice
So suave, so debonair
He looked again to find he was
That puppet, Tony Blair.
"At least I've had last laugh," he said
"For I'm a millionaire!"

He thought he was Cock of the Walk
Then, turning with a 'swoosh'!
He looked again to see he was
Prize twit, George W. Bush.
"What dumb things did I spout?" he said,
"Hell... none! (one at a push!")

He thought he was Invincible,
For decades he could reign,
He looked again and saw he was
Despot Saddam Hussein
"At least I kept Iraq secure,"
He said, "Now it's insane."

He thought he was the God of Sex,
But it was baloney.
He looked to find he was, tut tut,
Deflated, Berlusconi
"Ok, I had affairs," he puffed,
"But, man I was not lonely!"

He thought he was top Desert King
Star of foreign affairs
He looked again to find he was
Gaddafi fleeing scared.
Though hated by his folk, he had
A lifelong friend in Blair.

He thought he was the President
Who had the keenest brain
He looked again to see he was
Bill Clinton, clear and plain.
"At least in my career," he said,
"I only left one stain."


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904

Happy birthday Kate! As the Duchess of Cambridge turns 30, FEMAIL brings you 30 facts about our future queen

1. Catherine Elizabeth Middleton was born to parents Michael and Carole Middleton at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading on January 9 1982.

2. Kate was christened at the parish church of St Andrew's Bradfield in Berkshire on June 20 1982.

3. Aged eight, she became a brownie with the 1st St Andrews pack in Pangbourne, Berkshire.

4. At the age of 13, she went to the 15,000-a-year Marlborough College in Wiltshire.

5. During her time there she represented the college at tennis, hockey and netball. She became captain of the college's hockey team and played in the first pair at tennis.

6. Kate is a keen photographer and took pictures for her parents' mail order business Party Pieces.

7. Amman, the capital of Jordan, was home to Kate and her family for a few years in the mid 1980s.

8. The Duchess has completed her Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award.

9. Hobbies she enjoys include walking, tennis, swimming, sailing, and painting.

10. It was rumoured that at Marlborough College Kate had a poster of her future husband William on her wall. But she has quashed speculation by revealing it was in fact the "Levi's guy" who adorned her bedroom.

11. Kate spent time studying at the British Institute in Florence during a gap year.

12. She also crewed on Round the World Challenge boats in the Solent while taking a break from studies.

13. In 2001, the Duchess enrolled at the University of St Andrews, Fife, from where she graduated in 2005 with a 2:1 in history of art.

14. When an undergraduate she continued playing sports and turned out for the university's hockey team.

15. Kate met her future husband at St Andrews - a university where graduates have around a one in 10 chance of meeting their perfect partner and getting married.

16. The Duchess worked in London as a part-time buyer for the clothing company Jigsaw Junior. When she left without finding a new job, she earned the nickname 'Waity Katie' - despite the fact she was known to help her parents with their party supplies business.

17. Kate and William's first official event together after they got engaged was at Anglesey last February - dedicating a new RNLI lifeboat.

18. Kate followed wedding tradition, and for 'something blue' had a blue ribbon sewn into the interior of her dress.

19. After the wedding ceremony, on April 29 last year, her bouquet was placed on the Grave of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey after the service, continuing a tradition started by the late Queen Mother.

20. The see-through dress which sparked William's interest in Kate when she wore it at a university fashion show in 2002 was auctioned in 2011 for 78,000.

21. The Duchess is descended from a family of solicitors and landed gentry on her father's side and butchers, plasterers, road sweepers and domestic servants on her mother's.

22. During her tour of California and Canada during the summer of 2011 she wore more than 25 outfits, winning her accolades from the world's fashion press.

23. Whenever she is photographed wearing high street fashion the garment quickly sells out - one Reiss dress, the Shola bandage dress, sold at a rate of one a minute after Kate was pictured wearing it. As such, Kate has widely been credited with reviving flagging interest in the British high street, transforming the fortunes of her favoured brands such as Zara and Reiss.

24. The Duchess is an official ambassador for Team GB and Paralympic GB.

25. With her husband William she will travel to Malaysia, Singapore, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee this year.

26. When in the capital Kate sometimes uses the London bike hire scheme - and London Mayor Boris Johnson gave Kate and William a tandem Boris bike as a wedding present.

27. She is patron of Action on Addiction and the National Portrait Gallery, and royal patron of East Anglia's Children's Hospices and The Art Room. She is also a volunteer with the Scout Association.

28. Although Kate could have a private chef at her disposal, she prefers to do the majority of the cooking for herself and William, and is often spotted shopping at Waitrose on Anglesey and, when she is at Kensington Palace, at the Waitrose on Kensington High Street. Kate even surprised shoppers at Tesco last month when she shopped at the supermarket, stocking up on essentials including Kellogg's Special K.

29. Kate is not allergic to horses, as has been widely reported. At last night's War Horse premiere she steered clear of the horse on the red carpet - but only to protect her Alice Temperley gown. 'The horse was leaving piles of manure everywhere,' an onlooker said.

30. Contrary to previous reports, Kate will not move in with Camilla and Charles when William is posted to the Falklands next month. Instead, Kate plans to use the time to embark upon her charity work.

Another 30 facts about the Duchess of Cambridge that you might not know:

1. Kate's favourite song is "William, It Was Really Nothing" by the miserable mancunians The Smiths. She would, however, have been wasting her time in her teenage years had she plastered her bedroom wall with posters of Morrissey.

2. Will and Kate's first date was to a karaoke night at The Tudor Inn, High Street, Sheerness in August 2001. They together sang a version of 'You're the One That I Want' from Grease, and were the runners-up.

3. Kate's favourite film is 'My Fair Lady', credited by some with improving her diction, which by her late teens was reportedly a cross between Lorraine Chase and Miss Brahms from 'Are You Being Served?'

4. She's planning to read all of Roger's Profanisaurus.

5. Kate is an eighth Jewish, thanks to her great-grandfather Chaim Nathanson, a school janitor of Stamford Hill, North London.

6. Buckingham Palace reputedly paid £125,000 to Faber & Faber to stop publication of Kate's mother's autobiography 'Doors to Manual', fearing that it might contain some mention of the dreadful and unpleasant first night that a bladdered William stayed at the Middleton's residence, whereupon he, shirtless, threw up all over the geraniums, undressed to his underpants at dinner, did 12 handstands, flatulently fell asleep while naked on the bathroom floor, and in the darkness, mistakenly crawled at 12.30am into Catherine's startled and disgusted parents' bed, and promptly threw up again. Not a good start.

7. Her godparents are former television presenters Maggie Philbin and Keith Chegwin.

8. Catherine engaged a French orthodontist to make her white teeth slightly crooked (a process that's known as microrotation) as she considered that otherwise she would have been physical perfection.

9. She's rather fond of scousers. (Even Wayne Rooney).

10. She watches every EastEnders episode religiously.

11. The Duchess is a skilful cellist with a flawless fingering technique, and since 2007 has been a patron of the Jacqueline du Pre Appreciation Society.

12. She's deaf in her left ear.

13. Her one alleged weakness is for plain chocolate digestives, of which she has been known to polish off a whole packet in one sitting.

14. She's a qualified jujitsu instructor.

15. Catherine's on Twitter, and her username is @waitykaty

16. Kate was chatted-up by the footballer Ryan Giggs backstage at the 2009 BBC Sports Personality of the Year, where Giggs gave her his phone number, and undaunted, she gave it to Jenson Button, and said that it was her phone number.

17. The Duchess is insanely jealous of her fit sister Pippa's pert and shapely posterior, and performs buttock- crunches at every opportunity.

18. Kate was offered a £13.5m deal to reveal all for Penthouse. William has offered her £12m not to. Her decision is unknown.

19. Her wedding present to her husband was a secondhand (but genuine 1959) Martin D28 dreadnought acoustic guitar, on which she'd had her tasteful portrait painted, and onto the case.

20. His generous wedding present to her was a red Lamborghini Aventador, which was keyed by a sniggering and somewhat inebriated Prince Harry (he of "wiggly worm" fame) three weeks later, after a night at Boujis, Kensington.

21. Catherine and William have decided that they'd like two daughters and two sons, reportedly already naming them Tegan, Chelsee, Jaden and Rooney.

22. Due to "an unfortunate and innocent administrative oversight", her Jobseeker's Allowance was not withdrawn until months after her 2011 wedding. With the agreement of the court she's clearing the fraud...I mean "overpayment" at a rate of £2.90 a week, cash.

23. It has been claimed that Kate wears unique, and specially-designed reflective knickers to stop paparazzi "upskirt" flash photos of her undercarriage being taken whilst getting in and out of limousines.

24. Kate has a letter 'P' tattooed on her left buttock, and a letter 'W' tattooed on her right. It's unclear whether it stands for "Prince William" or whether it's a tribute, when she bends over, to Will's late mother Diana (Princess of Wales).

25. Kate likes to sing Sophie Ellis-Bextor's 'Murder on the Dancefloor' and Dido's 'Here With Me' using a hairbrush as a microphone in the bedroom when her husband is on Air-Sea rescue business.

26. When Prince William becomes King, Queen Catherine's parents (should they still be around, and their daughter still be married to William) are in line for £180,000 from William Hill bookmakers, from a £10 bet placed in October 1988.

27. Kate is booked up for "I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here" 2012.

28. Her sister, "Her Royal Hotness" Pippa is due to appear in "Strictly Come Dancing".

29. Kate is fluently quadrilingual, speaking (apart from English, of course), the French, Russian and Welsh languages.

30. This year, Kate received a birthday card from a Kim Kardashian, whoever she is. As a result, she now wants to be known instead as Cait.


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905

On My Thirty-Third Birthday,
January 22, 1821 - a poem by Lord Byron

Through life's dull road, so dim and dirty,
I have dragg'd to three-and-thirty.
What have these years left to me?
Nothing--except thirty-three.

My Mother's Seventy-Fourth Birthday Party,
January 22, 2012 - by Ted


Long ago you did transport me,
Older yet wiser; eight-and-forty.
Vexing hatched that blond haired third,
Earthily haled, hitherto mirth.


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906

"Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite 'em,
And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum.
And the great fleas themselves, in turn, have greater fleas to go on,
While these again have greater still, and greater still, and so on."

A Tale of Beasts and Tenants

See a neat fractal world involving parasites,
Loan a bit of Latin grammar; that heightens the delights.
A self-referential verse he likes, all the levels are foregone;
The devil's in the detail feels Augustus De Morgan.


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907

A Spring Sonnet
by Arthur Henry James

Last night beneath the mockery of the moon
I heard the sudden startled whisperings
Of wakened birds settling their restless wings;
The North-east brought his word of gladness, "Soon!"
And all the night with wonder was a-swoon.
A soul had breathed into long-dreaming things;
Some unseen hand hovered above the strings:
Some cosmic chord had set the earth in tune.
And when I rose I saw the Bay arrayed
In her grey robe against the coming heat.
A pulse awoke within the stirring street--
The wattle-gold upon the pavements thrown,
And through the quiet of the colonnade
The smoky perfume of boronia blown.

A Springtime Theme

Amidst winter's bleak and rough hold we fight,
To evoke a jaunty shade of pasture green.
Whistling on harsh winds, the reeds, serene
Enough to banish the madness of our plight,
And cast on weary minds fleeting delight;
Ere unto death our bodies slowly wean,
And go in search of what man hath never seen,
Yet, know that on her path spring sheds no light.
Walk not, therefore, in misery, as spring
Stretches her barren hands, but rather sing;
As the reed shoots, with devotion to the wind
Admire the green, to color thou ought to cling;
As the baby in the womb, whom the Lord may bring
To Earth's banquet, the colors and seasons entwined.


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908

[Inspired by the 2012 doomsday predictions, Longfellow's poem January from 'The Poet's Calendar' is anagrammed into an ominous poem with a bleak word for an acrostic.]

Janus am I; oldest of potentates;
Forward I look, and backward, and below
I count, as god of avenues and gates,
The years that through my portals come and go.
I block the roads, and drift the fields with snow;
I chase the wild-fowl from the frozen fen;
My frosts congeal the rivers in their flow,
My fires light up the hearths and hearts of men.

From My Vantage Point

Dark fears which fouled the new year from the start
Each shall engulf our flesh and swiftly thwart
Some efforts of mad folk with golden hearts;
Past blows have made our high-born star descend,
And any other fate is moot, good friend -
It's what the knowing Zodiac portends.
Rejoice, since this is all about to end.

[However, all is not lost - if the lines of this poem are shuffled, a more positive poem and acrostic emerge:]

From My Vantage Point

Past blows have made our high-born star descend...
Rejoice, since this is all about to end -
And any other fate is moot, good friend;
It's what the knowing Zodiac portends:
Some efforts of mad folk with golden hearts
Each shall engulf our flesh and swiftly thwart
Dark fears which fouled the new year from the start.