... but I stopped. Now I'm a dad, and may blog again...

Monday, January 31, 2011

193: O-M-G, sex and the city 2 is like the best film ever, carrie is so cool .................. ...........

Killing a boring Sunday afternoon by watching back-to-back Die Hard with a Vengeance and Die Hard 4.0 (also known by the stupid American title of Live Free or Die Hard), the two Die Hard films I have watched the least.  It’s the tunnel scene in 4.0 with the cars flying everywhere, and the improbably beautiful militant computer hackers controlling everything electrical from the hi-tech real-life God-simulation.  John McClane has just basically thrown a car into a helicopter.  I have nothing specifically sarcastic to say about this film (beyond my usual tone), as it is a more than competent late addition to the franchise.  With its fight scenes in apartments leading to adventures down the American-style fire escapes, and interactions with futuristic security systems, it makes me yearn to play Splinter Cell and Max Payne etc.  Lacking any gaming system though, I had no respite from the horrors I was about to face, he said changing tense.

My fiancée arrives home, and it’s her turn to choose the film.  Oh hell, I can barely bring myself to write the name... OK, here goes nothing... we watched Sex and the City 2.  As bad as my closed manly-mind could ever have imagined it to be in Fulfilled Stereotype World, its worse, so much worse.  Yes, of course it has the occasional bit of pretty good dialogue, but most of it is just shit, unashamedly so.  My namesake, Ms Bradshaw, wanders around the palatial Abu Dhabi hotel gawping her mouth wow, oh wow, wow, before exclaiming I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto.  The entire film just seems to be a conveyor belt of lazy clichés designed to please gay stereotypes.  Plus that Carrie Bradshaw is just a dick; selfish, spoiled, overly-privileged, dick.  Thank god I won’t have to watch that again.

This was never meant to be a film review day; I actually had a proper article idea this morning, but can’t for the life of me remember what it was.  It must such a hot idea that it burnt my brain and fell.  Anyway as it turns out, I don’t think those two paragraphs of film related bleating could be considered ‘film reviews’ by any standards.  My comments on Sex in the City 2 wouldn’t even make a poorly written anonymous Amazon review, let alone something I will electronically publish in my own name, preserving online for the rest of time.

I was sure I had a Splinter Cell PC game somewhere about the flat, in a drawer or a box or something, but no amount of aimless rooting has unearthed it.  Perhaps I only imagined I had it. Ho-hum, finger twiddling is not so much fun without a control pad in my hands.  Let’s compose an ode to boredom.  No, let’s not.  I'll just add some pictures to make today's post seem more interesting than it really isn't.  Another lazy short cut: I'll just recycle some from elsewhere in the blog.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

191: it's a funny joke

I’ve written a joke:

What’s the difference between nerds and geeks?

“I don’t know, what is the difference between nerds and geeks?”

Before I address the question of the differences, please allow me to first address the similarities.  The two terms are commonly used interchangeably to describe a physically-unimposing person with specialist knowledge or shameless enthusiasm for specific intellectual pursuits; for instance, technical or scientific subjects often coupled with deep knowledge about a hobby.  Hobbies popular amongst geeks and nerds include but are not limited to science fiction/fantasy, comics, superheroes, manga/anime, puzzle solving, history, and even sports statistics.

A geek or nerd is typically more concerned with cerebral matters; placing their own interests above more conventional pursuits such as socialising.  Obviously these descriptions are stereotypical and should the statistics be collected, they may show that many nerds or geeks do not conform.

For instance many geeks/nerds have gone on to significant achievement, both intellectually and socially.  Some examples follow:  Richard Dawkins, Jonathan Ross, Spiderman, and Barack Obama.  Further analysis would undoubtedly provide more examples.  I have not done the research, and at this point must defer to those who have to provide deeper understanding, and to correct me on any errors I have made.  As a minor comic aside please allow me to quote a scene of dialogue from popular American animated situation comedy, The Simpsons:

Lisa: Nerds are nothing to fear, Dad. In fact, some nerds of note include popcorn magnate Orville Redenbacher, rock star David Byrne, and Supreme Court Justice David Souter.
Homer: Oh no! Not Souter! (buries face in hands) Oh nooo! 

Joking aside I will now proceed with regard to the original question highlighting the differences over the similarities for comic effect.  N.E.R.D. are a hip hop group featuring Neptunes members Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, plus drummer Shay Haley, whereas ‘geeks’ are touring carnival side-show attractions whose act consists usually of some form of wilful bodily degradation, the term originally deriving from an old German word loosely meaning fool.  There may be other subtle differences between the two words, however these are undefined and open to dispute.

Thank you for listening to my joke; I hope it has provided the requisite satisfaction.  Please consider this an experiment during which I have been collecting data.  With that data I will draw conclusions and plan further experiments.  I will eventually publish my original hypothesis, experiments, and data, along with my conclusions so that others may verify or discredit my work.

Friday, January 28, 2011

190: the weather, the football, some films

I’ve only just finished writing yesterday’s blog and now I’m writing today’s, and yesterday the fact that I had missed another day of blogging barely even warranted a mention, let alone a torturous numerical analogy.  Gone are the days of torturous numerical analogies.  I just pick myself off, brush dirt off my shoulder, and step back into the road without looking.

Today the house is freezing, and outside has been icy, yet the sky is blue and the light through the window has pleasant warmth.  Yesterday, as I painted the Blank Space logo onto the side of the building, my fingers and thumbs felt like they were being crushed slowly by glacial movement, and I had to boil the kettle and hold my hands in the steam.  And that is all for today’s weather report.  I watched Emma Thompson/Ang Lee’s 1995 adaption of Sense and Sensibility a couple of days ago and Mrs Dashwood chastises the little girl Margaret by saying “If you cannot think of anything appropriate to say will you please restrict your remarks to the weather”.  A good enough rule on occasion I suspect, but I would say that there are many occasions in life when saying the inappropriate must be the best thing.  Especially if it shuts someone up or gets a laugh.  But right now I don’t have anything appropriate to say, so... there isn’t a cloud in the sky.

Watching Sense and Sensibility just made me want to watch something funny; specifically either Blackadder the Third (episodes entitled Ink and Incapability, Nob and Nobility, etc), or The Importance of Being Earnest for its jolly-posho hilarity, and overly long-winded propriety.  “My dear Algy, you talk exactly as if you were a dentist.  It is very vulgar to talk like a dentist when one isn’t a dentist.  It produces a false impression.”  “I have always been of opinion that a man who desires to get married should know either everything or nothing”.  (I desire to get married, but what do I know?)  Or; “Whenever people talk to me about the weather, I always feel quite certain that they mean something else.  And that makes me so nervous.”

So when talking about the weather you and I mean something else, and are merely talking about the weather because we cannot think of anything proper to say.  Oh the trials and tribulations of society living (are something that this pauper doesn’t have to worry about).  Then there is football: the thing that men talk about when they mean something else.  Why else would anyone be so interested in football, if not to obscure their true meaning behind statto-nerdism and homoerotic fixations with the physical fitness of childish millionaires.  I wish I could talk about football.  The only problem is that it’s so fucking boring.  So boring in fact that even the weather is a more interesting subject.  I’d rather work at the Met Office than the Football Association.

If unlike me you love football (I actually think it’s OK, sometimes) and want to ‘unite against the ugly side of football’ go to Respect F.C. and show your support.  It’s some sort of FA thing saving the beautiful game from gobby morons (I know a few of them).  If you’re not bothered or are a gobby moron, then that’s fine too.  That’s enough football talk for now.  If I was to go on about it any longer I might have to start pretending to know which player is better than which other one, or screaming racist violent language at the telly, or any of the other pointless activities enjoyed by association football fanatics.

How did I end up here; deriding football and quoting from Sense and Sensibility?  To anyone questioning my manly credentials I just like to say in my defence that I have a tool box, there is a Black and Decker Workmate stowed away under my bed, I think Die Hard is the best Christmas film, and I’m getting married.  To a woman.  Proof if proof were needed, and all without any suspiciously vitriolic football-inspired homophobia.  That said, perhaps I should have just stuck to talking about the weather.

189: Blank Space launches, and Eight Ace sings.

It was the grand opening of Blank Space and our first in-house exhibition Blank Expression last night, and instead of writing yesterday’s blog I was serving wine, beer and vodka to hordes of thirsty art lovers.  After weeks of cleaning, painting, administrating and installing by Mark Devereux, John Leyland and the rest of the Blank Media Collective, we finally got to open to the public.  I was elated by the huge turnout, and extremely high quality and wide variety of the art on display.  In all ways it should be judged a success.  Now let’s keep our eyes open for press coverage.  Firstly there was Steph’s (Blank Media Communications Co-ordinator) appearance on BBC Manchester here (scroll to 2hr, 47min approx.), then on Sunday John and Steph will be appearing in the studio at some other radio station.  Keep your eye out, and get down to Blank Space as soon as you can.

Now that the gallery spaces and all the public bits are immaculate and serene, we can get down to business sorting out the store room and office space, both of which are currently piled to the rafters with paint pots, random wood, tool boxes, old furniture, severed heads, pickled hands, stolen car parts, second-hand coffins, tanks of industrial waste, missing children, flotsam, jetsam, lagan and derelict.  The office space I long for is unusable, but after a bit of intense reshuffling will be both habitable and functional.  Then we can all get down to the business of 2011; trying to take over the world.

After the launch we retired to Sand Bar to congratulate ourselves, discuss politics, religion, race relations, space stations, and whether or not England should return to the gold standard.  I was accused of being a loony Liberal, by a Labour-voting drone (you know who you are J), and best thing ever – I bought some pork scratching which I’ve just remembered I didn’t eat; they are in my jacket pocket waiting for me, horray!  Forget the huge success of the Blank Space launch; the highlight is definitely the pork scratching.

Then I got the bus back to Withington, down Oxford Road, got a delicious cheeseburger on the way home and... oh, another memory returns.  In the takeaway there was a weird dirty fellow.  He was standing in the door wearing a very colourful tracksuit top.  He looked rough and old and had no teeth; in fact he looked like the Viz character Eight Ace.  As I went in he asked me if I wanted to buy any DVDs.  A student-type lad came in just after me, and he also didn’t want to buy any DVDs from Eight Ace.  This guy was just sort of stumbling about in the takeaway (the guy behind the counter didn’t seem to care), then he started singing at the top of his voice.  The amazing thing was that he was a very good singer; he had a melodic tenor voice, but the volume and his repetition of the same meaningless passage removed any pleasure to be had from his singing.  The student looked at me and rolled his eyes.  Then Eight Ace pushed passed the student, ducked under the counter flap, and strolled into the kitchen, never to return.  What am I to make of all this?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

188: All perfectly true, no doubt.

While I am still reading Don Quixote it has become something to be dipped into occasionally.  Happily its chapters are the perfect length for a sit-down stop-off in the bathroom, but its archaic cock-and-bull/shaggy-dog style makes it tough bedtime reading.  A lighter alternative I have chosen for myself is P.G. Wodehouse’s The World of Jeeves.  I’ve read this before but it’s light, highly amusing and has nice easy to follow plots about posho-silliness.  It is has the kind of stories that deem it perfectly ok to end with an apropos of nothing line like ‘Well, I mean to say, what? Absolutely!’  Typical dialogue proceeds thusly:

‘This is a rotten country,’ said Cyril.
‘Oh, I don’t know, you know, don’t you know!’ I said.
‘We do our best,’ said George.
‘Old George is an American,’ I explained.  ‘Writes plays, don’t you know, and what not.’


‘This is rummy, Jeeves!’
‘Yes, sir?’
‘Very rummy and dashed disturbing!’
‘Will there be anything further tonight, sir?’

Poor Bertie Wooster has a terrifically hard lot and in the short story Jeeves and the Chump Cyril he takes time to note that ’half the trouble in this bally world is caused by the light-hearted and thoughtless way in which chappies dash off letters of introduction and hand them to other chappies to deliver to chappies of the third part...’ and ‘the result is that some perfectly harmless cove like myself gets in the soup’.  Dear me, poor Mr. Wooster.  Oh, to be amongst the idle rich, living in country piles and town houses, darting from club to club for a quick bracer with the boys.  Oh no, my misadventures have got me into a slight pickle.  Fortunately I have a gentleman’s gentleman with a brain on him like a what-not that can create the best possible outcome from any rum do.

It’s impossible not to read without using the Fry and Laurie characterisation in your head, which is by far and away a good thing.  They may have made four series (23 episodes) but this isn’t nearly enough.  Most of the episodes were constructed using various elements for different stories, but even so there must have been loads more to dramatise.  Wikipedia tells me there were 35 short stories and 11 novels in the Jeeves canon, leaving me with waves of Wodehouse left to drown myself in.  Hugh Laurie, forget the $400,000+ per episode that America are paying you for House; come home and make more Jeeves and Wooster for Granada Television.

Everyone should love Jeeves and Wooster, from proud but gently self-mocking Englishmen to foreign fellows who think we all live in this timeless, pre-Great War fiction.  Some bright cove has even mocked up a cover for a Jeeves and Wooster DS game; jolly good wheeze, I should think, don’t you know!  Anyway, I was having much more fun reading the stories than I am writing about them, so off I pop; ‘it is my practise at this hour to read some improving book...’  Or maybe I’ll just put the DVD on...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

187: It's On (Mr. Postman) 187um junk-maila

The letterbox flapped and I glanced out of the window to see the postman wandering back down the path in his Royal Mail high-visibility jacket.  “Great, more bills,” I thought, and went to check for bad news.  Two items of post, I mean “post” said with fingers sarcastically indicating inverted commas, a Dominos menu and an advert for npower boiler insurance.  These weren’t even addressed to anyone, just pure unashamed junk.  I felt like storming out into the street, accosting the postman and saying “excuse me, Mr. Post Man, but I think you delivered these by mistake,” or some other blistering incitement.

What are Royal Mail doing acting as real-life walking spam bots, sucking the scaly pecker of Satan, as Bill Hicks might have put it; drink that black worm jism.  If Royal Mail concentrated more on delivering letters and parcels to normal customers instead of pushing shit through our letterboxes, we might not have late-afternoon post and parcel deliveries where they don’t bring the fucking parcel.  I’m sure everyone has experienced this; you’re sat at home waiting for a parcel, nobody knocks but you hear the letterbox flap.  You run over only to find a card saying “we tried to deliver your parcel but you were out, please leave 2 hours (or 24 hours, whim dependant) before collecting from your local depot”.  Sometimes you might run out to meet the postman saying “I’m in, why didn’t you knock,” to which you might be told “I haven’t got the parcel with me”.

Turns out the reason for Royal Mail’s increasingly poor service is they are now primarily dedicated to acting as a medium for corporate marketing, indiscriminately shovelling great swathes of glossy paper pap into your house.  I suggest that all the shit they put in through the door needs to go back into post box around the corner.  Join me in a mass protest; together we can get the message out, and claw back the efficient and early-morning service we can barely remember.

On a much less vitriolic note, let’s hear it for the increasingly brilliant Wikipedia.  It’s often criticised for its inaccuracies, but usually by lazy journalist scum peeved at having copied and pasted said inaccuracies into their own stream of shit.  However it is also the perfect place for eccentrics, with special subjects on ludicrously specific plant-pots of knowledge, to write and publish excellent articles.  Case in point is the Wikipedia article entitled Toilet Paper Orientation.  No joke, your life will be improved by reading this.  Just knowing that someone out there has taken the care, time and effort to put this together is a strangely comforting feeling.

The article features quotations from books, papers and articles by sociology professors and more, discussions of gender role and social class, masses of survey results, photos of toilet paper (including one of two cats tearing a roll to shreds), a discussion of the binary problem (over or under), solutions, and even celebrity preferences.  It is either a serious article about a silly subject, or a silly article about a serious subject.  Whichever it is, it is brilliant.  There has obviously been a huge amount of research collected, and the article ends with loads of notes, further reading suggestions, and more references than I thought possible.  A fine example of the craft of communal encyclopaedia composition, to be envied and adored the world over.

End of blog.  And all without any reference to 187 or 187um Killa (almost).

Monday, January 24, 2011

186: nothing to read here, move along

A series of increasingly mundane observations:

A made bed makes the room look tidy and the bed look inviting.  At 10am today I looked out of my window and saw an old lady in a black hood, drinking Strongbow and throwing stuff into a wheelie bin.  Crumpets are nice.  A cup of tea is nice too.  Crumpets are best with butter.  Tea is nice with milk, and occasionally, for a treat, with sugar.  Any thoughts as to the most interesting type of paint to watch dry?  Matt floor paint is quite good, but I like artist’s oil paint because it takes so long.

Ok, enough of that.  Hopefully that will have got rid of any non-committed stragglers.  The rules for writing for the internet clear state that people are impatient idiots, scream ‘entertain me’ at the screen and then immediately moving on to something else if they are not made to feel superior yet gently, mentally docile.  I can’t provide that (except for myself); I only have a commitment to fulfil.  I must write every day, even on those occasional boring days that even the most exciting lives sometimes includes.

Today has been a morning of ringing various council offices for various reasons and been booted from one hold queue to the next.  Now I must quickly ruffle my fingers through the cerebral cortex, give my face a refreshing slap, and set about on the rest of today’s business.  Blank Space is launching this Thursday 6-9pm, meaning there is a hell of a lot to be done.  Today’s unpleasant morning behind me, I can now finish this blog and get on the bus to chip in at the Space.

Not sure what needs doing, but I imagine there are endless final touches from painting walls and sweeping floors, to hanging art and stroking beards (that’s what artists do; it makes us look thoughtful).  Might take the new(ish) camera with me and take some pics (or ‘documents’ if you want an artier word).  I can’t wait to see how the office is set up, and to be able to do some actual editing work, instead of the desperate catch-up I’ve been playing for the last couple of months.

Anyway, I’ll write some proper stuff about Blank Media, Blank Space and blankpages over the next few days; you know actual informative and interesting articles, and not this disjointed mess.  Might even include some pictures for your gentle perusal.  Gosh, the wonders of modern technology.  Skip to the end.
Perhaps it’s the music that is distracting me.  I recently decided there are too many holes in my musical knowledge, and I have just started to explore Manchester & Madchester, Chicago house and Detroit Techno.  Seems to be a lot of good stuff I am completely oblivious to, even New Order’s Blue Monday sounds fresh and shiny new to me.  But they can make it hard to concentrate on the subtleties of writing prose, and forming thoughts that last longer than a few nanoseconds.

I tried to go to bed at midnight last night, and as soon as the audio and visual input was cut off to my brain my mind raced with storylines, word play and characterisation.  I couldn’t lay still and had to get up and write.  By 3.30am I showed no sign of tiring, but felt the imminent arrival of morning as a heavy weight, a guilty intrusion.  Even after all this writing and thinking, I continued to think but eventually got a bit of fitful and interrupted sleep.

Now I’m tired, but with some well formed and progressing story ideas, and a few good target markets to promote myself to.  I just want to earn a living!  Pay me, somebody, please!  Ahem, excuse my little outburst.  Right, I’m off.  Speak to you later.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

185: ancient pre-Christian druid-pants

The hand-soap currently doing duty and standing sentinel in our bathroom came to us affixed with a label reading “This soap was handmade in Tanzania by disabled artisans for the Wonder Workshop”.  A good cause surely, but a hilarious example of conspicuous PC right-on-ism that unintentionally creates comedy out of liberalism.  The extremes of either side of the political spectrum are, and should be, met with ridicule: Fascism and Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator, Communism and Monty Python’s Communist Quiz (or Kommunista kvíz as it’s called on this YouTube clip), and more recently Islamism and Chris Morris’ Four Lions These are all examples of political forms which at their heart are totalitarian; they wish to force a lifestyle upon you, and in return the best defence is to take the piss.  But the people at Wonder Workshop don’t want to control your thoughts and actions, they just want to give work to those who need it, and make my hands clean after I use the toilet.
“These lamb chops come from lambs which were read bedtime stories and given a kiss goodnight before being gently smothered in their sleep.”  “This toilet paper comes from trees which were asked nicely to come down, and paper mills operated by unionised self-sufficient Guardian columnists.”  “These fish and chips come from non-stereotypical Irish potato-growers, and Icelandic victims of the Cod Wars.”  “This mp3 comes from non-major label, anti-globalisation musicians, playing traditional African and South American wooden instruments, recorded using pre-digital methods, and distributed using non-destructive carbon-neutral channels.”  “This racehorse was bred using all-natural consensual relations from parents in a non-traditional loving relationship, and this betting slip is printed using renewable inks onto recycled feminine hygiene products.”  “These underpants are styled on ancient pre-Christian druid-pants, lovingly fashioned from tenderised hessian sackcloth, and are here modelled by a gay divorced black Catholic nun.”

All these products are real and can be ordered directly from the manufactures by sending postal orders or devalued Third World currency to the charitable beardy people at Empowering Peoples of Undervalued Communities (Corp. Inc.).  All orders will be hand-picked and hand-packed by Iranian victims of wrongful conviction for theft under the post-Colonial, pre-Islamic Revolution, empire of the Shahs.  All deliveries will be made, on bicycles forged from recycled McDonald’s straws, by couriers whose growth was stunted during Margaret Thatcher’s now-discredited withdrawal of free milk for primary school children.  Couriers will knock on your door gently and unobtrusively, after clearing their throat so as not to surprise or shock you, and speak to you in an inclusive, sympathetic and non-judgemental tone.  Your custom helps to keep the world afloat and every penny you spend with us is a defiant ‘No!’ spoken out against multinationalism and globalisation; together we can make a difference.

184: An account of the pleasant reading of Don Quixote, and the dangers wrought by too much read.

The time has come to read Don Quixote.  It has been sitting bed-side for nigh on one year or more, offering up its challenge, presenting its insurmountable volume, and archaically turning phrases; yet now, and only now, by which I mean today in hours passed, one has stood up to ones full height, not literally but literary-ally, and figuratively.  And now have strove and strided forward I am two chapters ahead; eighteen pages lie behind me and seven-hundred and forty-two lay out before me.  And so soon into my adventures, for adventures are what they are (and how I perceive them to be), and already my written language and internal monologue, that voice that speaks within me, has become churned and pestled into rhythms, cadences and vocabulary which in all my years have never passed ‘twixt my lips.

For who am I to adopt such unnatural language as my own, and who am I, unrecognisable to myself; both who I see, and what I read, and both again who I hear and who I think?  I have travelled but a few steps with the great knight-errant Don Quixote de la Mancha and his great steed Rozinant, together with whom I ride side by side, trying not to laugh at his cardboard visor, or paying no due heed to those smirks and chuckles escaping from roadside true-unbelievers.  But in those few steps we have imagined the adventures of giants and princesses – but Lo! – the great Sir Knight draws my attention to a great castle rising high above us, and to two young virgins awaiting us at the gates.

The master of the castle feeds us and the two young virgins doth bring us wine and itty-bitty fishes, for alas it is Friday and no meat can be consumed, but fish is not meat, fish is a fruit, a fruit of the sea – and our bellies do become full, and our minds do flow freely as the wine, as our hearts and souls continue on this fine adventure.  The young virgins do laugh; at first they laugh amongst themselves, but presently they include us both with their laughter and we get along just fine.

The ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha, and of course myself (for I am not a fictional character, and the ingenious nobleman from the region of La Mancha, is not of this world as I am) do enjoy to read, and as we read we see truth, honour, justice and wisdom, we see knowledge, and we see what we must do, and the importance of the adventures we must have.  Don Quixote sees chivalry and a world’s worth of honourable and daring deeds to be done, and I see a big book to be read, and folders full of files to finish writing.  I see Chapter III awaiting me, and a bookmark waving for my attention; the corner of my eye doth stray from MS Word and over toward the Complete and Unabridged published by Wordsworth Classics.

And so at this point I must leave my hero, and your hero must leave you, and together yet separate, you and I return to what we were doing previously.  I return to drinking alternately from a glass of whiskey and a glass of lemonade, and splitting my time between reading and writing, and you return to your driving and working and cheerleading and deep-sea diving; Lo! Forward we go, and where we stop nobody knows.

Friday, January 21, 2011

183: Ceci n'est pas un cochon

Tomorrow will be the first Saturday in TIME, time, (time) that I will be afforded the wonderful luxury of being able to get up, put on my dressing gown, take a cup of tea to the sofa, and lie there for as long as I feel like it, watching Saturday Kitchen or whatever cookery magazine show is currently being shown.  This is how kings and conquerors must live, every day, not just on Saturday’s.  The only difference being that nobody comes running when I click my fingers.  Say I am watching a repeat of an old Keith Floyd show and he happens to be cooking a particularly delicious looking Andalucían peasant dish of tomatoes and sausages, or a Malay curry of noodles and prawns, and my salivary glands go into overdrive.  I need to eat all that I see on the television.  Were I truly living like a king, a click of the fingers would bring a servant or fag scampering over, begging ‘yes sir, yes sir, how may I serve you?’  I would say, ‘make me that there off the telly; make me it now’.  And it would be done.

Back in the real world and I’m watching cookery programmes and salivating over food I will never eat.  Man vs Food is travelling the USA eating barbeque and burgers like you wouldn’t believe.  Bizarre Foods is sampling all the strangest grubs and sea slugs capable of being digested.  Jamie Oliver is using ingredients from his heavenly kitchen garden, while Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is eating freshly collected molluscs on the beach, consuming them raw or cooking them on his extravagant outdoor stove.  Meanwhile Heston Blumenthall is inviting a random bunch of celebrities to eat experimental delights, the sort of which could not possibly be emulated by an enthusiastic amateur at home.  So what am I supposed to do with all this visual information?  It is not food, it is merely pictures of food. Ceci n'est pas une pipe.  I cannot eat it and yet it still makes me hungry.  I’m confused.  And hungry.  Woe.

Speaking of food: after my fiancée made a delicious ham roast the other day, we now have a wealth of delicious rich pig stock to cook with.  Yesterday I used some of it in a soup of onion, carrots, celery, ham, and lentils.  What else should I make?  Pig stock seems to be hugely uncommon in Western cooking.  A quick look online and in some books shows it to be very common in many kinds of Asian cooking, and somewhat common in Southern US cooking.  I’ve never seen pork stock cubes in a supermarket; this strikes me as odd.  Yes, to many people pork is haraam and non-kosher, but the majority of British people love to wallow with the great pork products: ham, gammon, sausages, hot dogs, Parma, pork pies, black pudding, spare ribs, pork chops, spit roast hog, hock, belly pork, scratchings & crackling, and especially BACON.  Even trotters, jowls, ears, tail and intestines are not unheard of.  So why is pig stock unheard of, when vegetable, chicken and beef is ubiquitous?

Amazon is selling a book called The Whole Hog, described as “A gourmet celebration of the pig and its parts...with 100 easy-to-follow recipes and innumerable pictures of delicious-looking crackling.. this book is a pork-eater's dream.”  How can it possibly go wrong?  To top it all off one of the co-authors is called Christopher Trotter.  They missed a trick in not using Francis Bacon to paint the cover art.  Erm... something about Osama bin Lardon...  no?  Lardon; it’s a piece of pork fat.  It’s a funny joke.  Never mind.

Ich unterstütze Tacheles...

A few days ago I wrote a little word or two about the Kunsthaus Tacheles.  If you recall Tacheles is the amazing art-house at the centre of Berlin’s alternative art culture: graffiti, film, painting, sculpture, all sorts.  The place is just brilliant, but unfortunately as is so often the case with these sorts of places, developers want the land and the council wants to gentrify the place.  Looks like the writing may be on the wall for Tacheles.  If you haven’t been there, I urge you to visit soon.  If that’s out of the question, here are some links to articles etc.  I’ve also made a little video of the graffitied stairwell set to the music of E.M.A.K..

I Support Tacheles - http://isupporttacheles.blogspot.com/.  Blog depicting images of Tacheles supporters worldwide.
Tacheles official website - http://super.tacheles.de/cms/.
Wikipedia page - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kunsthaus_Tacheles.  History, images and more links.

Click on images to see larger.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

182: Structure. Timetables. Self-discipline. Ahh, Ma tidge.

Structure.  Timetables.  Self-discipline.  Often writers are portrayed as vicious self-destructive hell raisers, and many like to promote that idea, scribbling in barrooms on notebooks sodden with spilt whiskey, forgoing sleep, sanity and a stable life.  I think the reality is much different, and the hard-working prolific writers to be truly admired and emulated stick to tight regular routines.  Getting up at 8o’clock settling down to write by 9, and remaining concentrating and undisturbed until it’s time for a spot of lunch.  After lunch it’s back to the desk for more focussed and intelligent work.  This is something to strive for I think, because otherwise I may never achieve anything.  The effort and dedication to write a daily blog is only the first step in a long looooong process.  Just lean over there, into the future, and let me know what you see; is it worth it?

Blog complete by 9:30am covering any noteworthy events from the previous day, any thoughts worth discussing, or any short bits of creative writing I need to purge from my system.  Follow that up with a tightly choreographed day of brief intense work interspersed with breaks for tea and crumpets.  Perhaps a walk should be scheduled in.  Exercise keeps the mind alive, and helps prevent the body from blobbifying and the bum hole from haemorrhoiding.  Add to the schedule some paid work and a chance to socialise, and I think we could be onto a winner; a day well spent, ending in a satisfied feeling and a job well done.  Time for a cup of tea, and those sausages should be ready soon.  Better go and buy some lentils.

Any reference to lentils with regard to me is an in-joke so obscure and insular only a select group of my closest and oldest friends will understand or care.  And now I’ve mentioned lentils I can put them back in the box alongside Choco Flakes, Phil Ahh ma tidge!, Fiendish Feet, Foetus, and measuring the angles of this stupid shape.  Then it’s off to Morecambe to buy a teenth, then to Halton to smoke lungs out of the window and listen to Insane Clown Posse and N.W.A.  But that was then, this is now.  Now I’m all growed up and a big boy now.

Still the same easily distracted wastrel I always was though.  Even now I’m half writing a story, half cooking soup and half writing this blog.  How many halves is that?  I’m also half reading the day’s news on the BBC and half about to watch the lost Russell Brand episode of Never Mind the Buzzcocks which has just appeared on iPlayer.  Five halves?  Does that make a whole?  Sure, whatever.  I started the blog hours ago early this morning, yet because I’m not really saying anything interesting, I got bored of writing it probably even quicker than you got bored of reading it.

Today I pottered to the shops and back.  Yesterday I did the same thing.  What adventures will tomorrow hold?  I’d better consult the timetable.

181: finishing films and falling out with Word

For the last week or so I had expected, during blog post 180, to make some reference to a darts score of three treble 20s.  As it turns out I didn’t get around to it, and having zero knowledge of the grand ol’ game of darts, it’s probably for the best.  Besides I can’t make this entire blog about tenuous links between numbers, as seems to be a regularly emerging theme.  Beginning with post 48 and continuing with increasing frequency up to the most recent, 173.  But anyway, best not to progress; that way madness lies.

I keep trying to watch science documentaries on iPlayer, but after a few minutes my attention wanders and I am bored.  I keep trying to finish watching films I have started watching, but after a few minutes my attention wanders and I turn them off.  I might never finish watching FAQ about Time Travel or Tristram Shandy: A Cock & Bull Story, both British comedies that seem medium good to almost great if only I could properly attend to them.  I can read until I fall asleep and the book drops onto my face, or play Civilization IV until all the world cowers in comfort under my benevolent dictatorship, but I can’t sit through a film without fidgeting and ultimately giving up.  Cinemas are like prisons so I almost never go (except when a new Harry Potter comes out... yes I know...); the thought of having to stay there watching the same thing for one and a half to three hours is too much to bare.  What if there are some teenagers doing teenage things like talking, or using phones, or eating, or laughing loudly?  God no; it doesn’t bare thinking about.

MS Word wants to change ‘all the world’ to ‘the entire world’.  I think it seems to be getting a little too big for its boots.  Now instead of just correcting spelling and grammatical errors it is offering me editorial and creative advice.  I think this is a step too far.  This software needs shoving from its self-aggrandised loftiness, and stomping with size nines.  I object to being pushed around by pixels and binary switches; you ones and zeros have no power over me.  Oh no don’t go, I was only joking, please come back.  I apologise, I’m sorry, please forgive me.  If you say it’s ‘the entire world’ then ‘the entire world’ it is.  Just don’t take away my internet and my television and my other digital thingies.  Don’t leave me alone with those old analogue systems and magnetic tapes and physical media.

Now that is cleared up and Word and I are on speaking terms again, I’m sure it wouldn’t mind if I put it to bed and retired myself with a good book.  Or I could watch the Channel M testcard for a minute or two...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

180: my polymorphic proboscis

Say what you see.  Write about what you know about.  Return to first principles.  OK, well, my laptop is making a racket again.  A couple of months back I completed the laborious task of dismantling (and re-mantling) the whole thing just to clean out a few specks of dusty-fluff and fluffy-dust from the fan.  It instantly became quiet as a fluff-fall, but now I can hear it whirring aggressively from the other side of the flat even with the door shut.  Perhaps instead of gently unscrewing all the components and neatly laying them down on sheets of paper, I should just smash a hole in the back and suck the dust out with my polymorphic proboscis, or dash it to itty-bitty-smithers and hoick  it out the window.  If only the idiots at HP could have just designed a simple panel into the back none of this would be necessary.  I honestly thought design was supposed to make things better and things generally improved accumulatively over time.

So I was saying what I see, not what I hear and at the moment all I see is that last paragraph.  I decided to change the layout of the blog as it felt like I needed a change.  I can’t really tell if this is an improvement (‘shock of the new’ and all that), but I certainly find it preferable to the old look.  Change is good (I’ll keep telling myself), change is good.  But the doctor tells me I have to live as a woman before the ethics board will approve the op needed for the change.  Or whatever.  So I hear a fan, see words, a new layout and a bad sex-change joke.  I also feel tired, thirsty and sneeze, optimistic for the future, and yet worried about how to pay next month’s rent.

Here’s an original thought; wouldn’t it be good if work did itself.  Like if I was a writer I could just create a word document, give it a name, close the document and go to sleep.  When I woke up in the morning the file was mysterious full of original and sparkling story matching the title.  Or if I was a shoemaker I could just leave a load of leather lying around and when I woke after a restful night, hey presto, freshly baked shoes!  Almost as though elves or fairies had been in and worked their nimble little magicks all over the place.  What an original thought.  Maybe I’ll write a story about it.  Or failing that create a word document and hope it fills itself.  Although I have tried that a few times already, and so far it doesn’t seem to be working.  Perhaps if I keep repeating the same mistakes I’ll eventually get a different outcome.  Never mind.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

179: Channel M, Mr. Sidebottom, and the rest.

On a whim I scanned for new channels on the telly and out of nowhere, amongst all the adult channels and teasers for G.O.L.D. and Sky Sports, popped Channel M.  Channel M is the local station for Manchester which I had assumed to be defunct.  I talked about this last year in my obituary for Frank Sidebottom, and by now I would have though Channel M had slipped of the planet.  But here it is alive and well (but probably still working with skeleton staff and not producing any new content).  First thing I did was forwarded the listings to late night and joy of joys there it is: 01:00 – 02:00 Frank Sidebottom’s Testcard.  I don’t have any way of recording and preserving this, not even a video, but something has to be done. 

On a related Sidie note I’m considering writing a book about him.  He has such a huge wealth of art, illustration and other media that it needs to be compiled into and exhaustive glossy book Taschen-style (the best art books in the world bar none.  Forget about Phaidon; their pictures are too small and they just lack a certain sparkle).  There must also be an unlimited amount of anecdotes about his bizarre life, and some jokey pop-psychology about a mind that lives his public life as a cartoon character in a papier mache head.  It’d be a massive project collecting images, interviewing family, friends and fans, compiling it all together and trying to get the bloody thing published.  But someone has got to do it and I volunteer myself. 

I’ve already started a bit of casual compiling and collecting but it’s not yet snowballed into serious obsession.  Christmas treated me well with Frank Sidebottom prezzies: Frank’s Fantastic Shed Show DVD from my kindly in-laws and Frank’s Fantastic Show Biz Box Set CDs + DVD from my parents (thanks everyone!).  I don’t imagine my future Frank glossy hardback will be a massive seller, but if Taschen are involved it will do well and be an amazing lovingly produced work of art.  It’ll help me pay the rent, and ensure that the Frank Sidebottom statue in Timperley goes ahead without a hitch.

If you want a Frank statue in Timperley (and why wouldn’t you!?) please go to the Frank Sidebottom Statue appeal page (and maybe even donate some money) or the facebook group.  My contributions to the Frankophilia! exhibition of fan art will be auctioned off at a later date to help raise the £60,000(!) needed.  Not sure when this will be happening but I’ll keep you all posted about the details, etc.  And now it’s time for sleep, you know it is...

Monday, January 17, 2011

178: Currywurst, glühwein and riddled with bullet holes

Missed last night’s blog due to unforeseen (no doubt soon to be discussed) events forcing the necessity of an after work drink.  My mathematical prediction was that I would be missing my next post seven days after the last one.  In actual fact it was only five days, sad face.  This makes the decreasing spiral into a pattern of 16, 11, 5 which is a sequence which seems to have no meaning whatsoever.  That’s a little disappointing because I could really do with a little meaning right now.  Perhaps the relevance of the numbers 16, 11 and five can be found on a dartboard, but my mathematical brain is far to tiny, shrivelled and crushed under the weight of my daydreaming brain, to make anything out of the numbers in question.  So unless I have a sudden leap of inspiration or am enlightened in some other way, I’ll have to abandon my search for meaning.

In other news I’m sad to hear about the imminent closure of the Kunsthaus Tacheles in Berlin (“East Berlin fights back against the yuppie invaders”).  I visited Tacheles on a uni art trip in 2006, which happily coincided with my 24th birthday.  Berlin presented a picturesque blanket of ice and snow (which unfortunately rendered the perfectly named Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe inaccessible to the public) and a perfect condition for currywurst, glühwein and sightseeing.  Tacheles is amongst the greatest sights I have ever seen; a huge run-down former department store/Nazi prison, riddled with bullet holes on the exterior, haunted by terrible memories on the interior, re-appropriated into a haven for artists. 

Floor after floor of affordable studio space are connected by a densely graffitied stairwell.  It’s the kind of place the world needs more of, but that we are gradually getting less of as developers tear them down or remodel them into expensive designer apartments.  I was under the delusion that Tacheles was protected from this sort of culturally insensitive butchery, but evidently I was wrong.  Perhaps I will never visit it again.  I urge you to see it before it is gone.  P.S.  kebabs in Berlin are miles better than they are in England.

I have loads of photos of Tacheles and Berlin, as well as a little video footage of the graffitied stairwell.  I must dig them out from whichever hard drive they occupy and create a little blog- based memorial.

A snide and humorous David Mitchell rant against the silliness of Nick Clegg’s phrase “alarm clock Britain”, has set me off thinking about an almost entirely unrelated tangent.  How did people get to work on time before the invention of alarm clocks, before electricity, or even before normal people could afford a wind-up alarm clock?  Were they all just massively self-controlled Zen masters able to will themselves awake at the exact correct moment, or were they just turning up for work as and when they made it?  Either way they both sound like a huge improvement on the current state of affairs; being forced out of your slumber by an incessant beep, or even worse lying awake waiting for the beeping to start.  Occasionally someone will have the bright and wholly original idea of using a favourite song as an alarm call.  Unfortunately this has the predictable effect of rendering said musical masterpiece immediately annoying by its association with being rudely wrenched into the waking world.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

177: and it all really happened, it did, it did

Last night I had a dream I was at work behind the counter sitting on a toilet and chatting to my old primary school friends.  What does that mean?  Nothing of course; but it wasn’t an embarrassing dream.  In fact it was quite fun.  Perhaps I’ll try it for real.

So what happened today (during waking hours)?  Well it all started off with the ride in the hot air balloon.  That took me and my fiancée up to 13,000ft where we enjoyed beautiful views, freezing cold, and a picnic consisting of Melton Mowbray pork pies, sauerkraut, sea cucumber sandwiches, and champagne & strawberries.  After we had finished our picnic, we broke free of our moorings and piloted the balloon at breakneck speeds over treetops.  A squirrel jumped from the top of a majestic conifer into our basket, and managed to complete 40,000 revolutions before I was able to stun it with my peashooter and kick its little arse off my land.

Our little jaunt in the balloon was just for a treat and not a new mode of everyday transport.  Once we landed I wanted to take it easy so I headed down to Washington Square Park with a song in my heart and a pistol in my pocket.  I took my usual seat amongst my fellow chess grandmasters.  While playing I watched street performers juggling and frolicking, children flying kites, young women jogging and old drunkards hobbling and rolling around the floor.  I gave my shoes to a beggar, and bought myself a brand new pair of brogues.  They made me feel like tap dancing down the street, but after a few aborted attempts I gave up and went for a drink instead.

A couple of drinks and I was feeling fine so I dipped into my secret tunnel through the centre of the earth and popped out in Australia.  After sorting out the mess with all those little floods and stuff, I went to the beech to fill up on shrimp, and indulge my dangerous hobby of blue-ringed octopus harassing.  Anyway, as I was doing all of this malarkey a terminator materialised before me.  It was naked, like they are, and I gave it a chance to dress quickly before the chase was on.  It got its foot stuck in a drain, and it was an obsolete model so I had no real problem vanquishing it and before I knew it I was able to get on with my day as though nothing had happened.  Not much to write home about there.  Regardless to say, the future of mankind is safe.

I retreated back into my underground catacombs, where I can wander freely from continent to continent , popped my head above ground in Albuquerque, New Mexico, made a left turn and eventually ended up at my final destination for the day, the Nameless City beyond the mountains of madness central to the Antarctic continent.  Sadly I saw no Shoggoths, no Elder Things, and certainly no other Cthulhu mythological beasts, demons or gods.  The city was long abandoned, and I only explored a small portion of it.  I will return when I am properly equipped.  The most important thing now is sleep.

Friday, January 14, 2011

176: ..................................................

ARGGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!  To paraphrase George Orwell, imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever.  I’ll leave it at that, and get on with it; no specifics, but I’ve got the ARGH out so that should do for now.  I realise that last sentence has been both cryptic and illiterate and blah blah etc.  Right, where was I?

I was in the middle of trying to put off doing any writing today.  I could sleep for a week, and I could do with a bottle of whisky.  I walked into the kitchen before and felt a strange comforting feeling of being at home.  Of course I am at home, but I’d like to be spending more time here. Twelve hours a day behind a till, and no time to relax in the kitchen, or sit in front of the laptop in the office, or drinking in the pub with friends I never see anymore.  As it is I’m just going to finish watching Al Murray: The Pub Landlord.  This blog is like an annoying distracting chatterbox; I’m just trying to watch the telly and fall asleep, but this twittering little twat just keeps going on and on, clambering for my attention.  Well I can’t be doing with that.

Want to read something better that today’s half-arsed shit?
Only religious thugs love blasphemy laws – Blasphemy is not the protector of religious freedom, as the UN maintains, but its mortal enemy, by Nick Cohen
That’s my recommendation for the day.  I’m sure there must be other things to read on the internet, but I can’t point you to any; I’ve not read the whole thing yet.  There is a lot of internet out there.  Maybe even too much for one person to read, even if you don’t include all the comments left by racists, homophobes, and all the other idiots filling the internet with their unpleasant brain shit.  You wouldn’t catch me doing that.  All of my writings are well thought out, intelligent and serve a greater purpose.  You’ll need to follow the blog for the next 20 or 30 years in order to understand what that purpose is , and blah blah baa baa.

I’ve had all I can take and no doubt you have too.  It’s just one of those days where I am brain dead, depressed and tired, and unfortunately as a minimum wage scumbag I have no leeway to complain about anything; I am entirely disposable, and my boss wants me to know it.  Minimum wage and the legal minimum of breaks (20 minutes in 11 hours) says only one thing; I am not valued.  Oops, I’m talking about work...