The Greys Anatomy

September 1, 2014

So, I’ve been struck down with some sort of man flu or other. Having had a nice pleasant couple of weeks of work, in both the bracing environs of Edinburgh and the sanctity of my own house, it would appear that three days of travelling to and from work and mingling with colleagues has seen me catch some sort of lurgy which has left me feeling like shit for most of the day. You know that kind of shit where even your hair is sensitive to anything? That. My eyes are so sore at the moment that were I to open them in surprise at anything the pain alone could render me inert. I’m trying this through squinty, watery eyes. And that, my little friends, is dedication.

So, struck down in my prime as I am, I did what any sane person in my position would do. I’ve spent my time watching Ancient Aliens on the History channel.

I think I’ve mentioned Ancient Aliens on this blog before. It’s a show that I find infinitely fascinating because a series of people with bizarre hair – be it beard or barnet – will say that an ancient thing is clearly – CLEARLY – proof of man’s interaction with alien civilisations.

Today, for example, I was watching an episode which told me, in no uncertain terms, that a series of ancient drawings showed futuristic surgical techiniques, the like of which people way back whenever it was customary to scratch things onto rocks should not have been privy to.

Talking about a picture of a person holding a human heart – quite a detailed scratched picture, if the truth be told – they said that it was clearly – CLEARLY – documented evidence of a heart transplant. In fact, they went to one of their experts, the one with wild, wild hair that looks like an out-of-control Jedward brother and he talked about it for a bit. He likes to ask questions to which his answer is always yes. So he asked if this picture showed that aliens had taught ancient civilisations advanced surgical techniques and the answer was, oddly, yes.

I mean, I just looked at the picture and interpreted it as a depiction of some sort of human sacrifice in which the heart was removed.

But hey, what do I know?

I mean, they didn’t mention anything about tissue-typing and things of that nature. But I’m sure the aliens had it covered.

The also talked about the son of the Greek God Apollo, Asclepius, who was quite big into the healing, and had a staff with a snake wrapped round it, which aside from becoming a well-known symbol for health care is just a sign of, if anything, over-indulgent parenting. Where a normal parent would have said, “Look, Ascelpius, you can have a stick or you can have a snake…” and there would have been a tantrum, but then eventually he’d have settled on the stick because sticks are good for poking things whereas snakes are not, Apollo clearly just wanted an easy out (and judging by the number of kids attributed to him on Wikipedia it’s no wonder) and let him have both the stick and the snake.

Now, aside from talking about him without ever mentioning the part where he was the son of a mythological Greek God, they actually had a long discussion about whether aliens had taught him how to raise the dead, because that’s what he was renowned for doing, by all accounts. You know what it’s like, you invite Asclepius over to your party and the next thing you know he’s in the garden trying to raise the body of your recently dead and buried family pet. 

In the end, enough was enough and Zeus zapped the crap out of him for bringing back all the dead. No-one mentioned whether Zeus was taught how to throw lightening bolts around like a beardy badass by an alien or not.

And then, to end the show, the biggest revelation of them all.

Acupuncture was invented by aliens.

Yeah, all that sticking needles in to align your chi and wotnot. Aliens did that. They came up with that. They taught us how to do it. The scientific reasoning behind this revelation seems to be based solely in the fact that many cultures used to practice it – seeming – and now it’s just mainly the Chinese in the back room of nail bars. Clearly what that means is that aliens taught everyone how to do it but the Chinese were the only ones properly paying attention or something. But then, you would pay attention if you were being taught acupuncture by someone with the body of a large magpie and the head of a man. That’s the kind of teacher you’d remember.

Take a moment to think about that, aliens few unimaginable distances across the Universe to teach people how to put needles into specific areas of the human body to stop them feeling a bit peaky. 

I wonder where they stand on homeopathy…


Food For Cats

August 31, 2014

It used to be that you almost had to open a can of tuna underwater, just so that Pumpkin didn’t get a whiff of the tasty, tasty fish and be hanging out behind you meowing her head off until you gave her some of the responsibly sourced fish. Or, if you cooked a chicken, she’d be there secretly hoping that you dropped it or turned your back for a second so she could snatch that succulent white meat in her cat jaws, make like a banana and split.

So, when it came to buying the hideously expensive special food for cats with chronic renal failure (hey, here’s an idea cat food people – as kidney failure is so prevalent in cats anyway, why not make all foods this way in the first place?) we naturally thought that fish and chicken would rock her world, float her boat and generally untwist her melons, man,

Instead, she sits by the bowl with a look on her face which basically says “I don’t care if my kidneys explode, I am not eating that.” At one point we had 48 sachets of salmon food, because when we initially got it she was all about the salmon. Then she pulled the same stunt again. “No, salmon is not for me. Screw you salmon.”

Carole had to swap the unopened pouches of salmon for other flavours, like a small child trying to complete a Panini sticker album without having to resort to sending off a request for the last few and a postal order for £1.29 to cover the cost of postage. 

And then the vets said, “Oh yes, they can go off a particular flavour…” To which my instant reaction would have been, well why didn’t you mention that when we bought 48 packets of the bastard stuff? Instead of letting us ponder on how the hell we were ever going to get her to eat them, we could have been providing her with a range of other flavours (well, just beef really, as she seems to have turned her nose up at all the others for now) to hide her medicine in and not make her kidneys explode.

So at the minute she’s going wild for beef. Which is understandable because it’s also the best flavour, by far, for Monster Munch and Hula Hoops. But you have to wonder how long that’s going to last and, for that matter, what option we’re left with then. We might have start mixing the pouches togther to try and create new taste sensations. “Oh yes, Pumpkin, tonight we’ve got some nice Tuncken, and tomorrow it’s a bit of Saleef. Look, please, just eat your medicine and don’t die yet, we’ve still got 36 more pouches to get through…”

 

 

 

 


It’s Only A Game So…

August 30, 2014

… I lost another bloody games night.

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory once more… I had two games of Settlers of Catan in the palm of my hand and while I was staring at them adoringly and imagining how the victory would feel and whether I could kiss it or not, it was cruelly snatched away from my by Carole or Daniel. And I was left with the empty and hollow feeling of defeat. And misery.

And then, of course, things inevitably turn to Ticket To Ride. Which is a game I like. But also a game I hate. And I particularly hated it yesterday. 

Ticket To Ride is not a game I win very often. I’ve won by a fluke once and any time I won before that was before Carole sussed out the rules or that she could be a shitbag and block where I’m heading. Since then, it’s just been one train disaster after another.

As last night proved, it is not my game.

To summarise the rules as quickly as possible – you collect cards with trains on them. You can then use trains of matching colours to claim routes on the board. Each route gives you points and you should be playing to work towards the destinations on the tickets you were dealt at the start of the game. If you complete these ticketed routes you get bonus points – a few scratty points for a short trip and mega points for a long cross-country haul.

I struggled to complete one of my tickets yesterday. Let alone get all three done. I was cut off from everywhere I needed to go by crafty people who seeming have some sort of thing in their family that means that they unwittingly gang up on people who aren’t related and beat them mercilessly until they want to cry and/or play a game that they known they could win. Probably. If the wind was blowing in the right direction.

Meanwhile, as I struggle with one ticket, Daniel is completing his eighth or ninth ticket of the game like a smug smuggo from Smugsville. 

I tell you, I’m sure that these games are fixed in some way. 

I don’t understand how I can lose every time.

As it stands at the moment, for the year, Carole has won 6 months, I have won 2. I have to win every month for the rest of the year to even end in a tie which will allow us to have some sort of climactic New Year’s Day sudden death scenario. If I lose one more month then that’s it, it’s all over. My chances of getting a golden trophy evaporate faster than some water on a hot pavement. 

Although if I do lose another month and anyone wants to buy any boardgames, used, with slight tear stains, then you know where to come.

 


I’m Not Sure He Ever Went To Hogwarts

August 29, 2014

Dynamo, Magician Impossible, has caused a bit of a hoohah this week.

He’s done a trick at the top of the shard in which he levitates high above the top of the tower, between the two sharp point bits. And apparently there were some pictures taken which show wires and things which has led to Dynamo being branded a cheat and a fraud.

Now, I don’t even know where to start with this one because, well, he’s not actually a chuffing wizard is he?

Every magician, whether it’s someone with a Children’s 100-tricks-in-one-box set or Dynamo walking down the wall of a building in America is, to some extent, a cheat and a fraud. They’re a fraud because they’re not chuffing wizards and their cheats because they’re using some level of misdirection to fool you, in much the same way as a shyster with a Find The Lady game on the streets would do. The hand is quicker than the eye and all that.

What worries me the most is that people have taken to Twitter to call him out on this. To accuse him of not being a real magician. Whereas the very act of being a proper magician is to engage in the very things he’s been accused of. 

And that worries me, because the people who have complained are, presumably, old enough to do things for themselves. They’ve certainly been granted access to the internet, some of them may even have jobs, drive cars, and the like. I’m not sure that we should go through the rest of our lives without having these people identified, maybe by being made to wear a hat at all time – maybe a pointy one with stars on or something equally mystical because these people believe in magic. Actual iPhones in a bottle, walking down a building, paper butterflies into real ones magic.

For the butterflies at least, you can actually see how that trick is done if you watch Dynamo’s show. The moment they show the sequence in slow motion, don’t watch Natalie Imbruglia’s stunned (and beautiful) face, watch the butterflies.All will be revealed. I’m not going to explain it now because it spoils it for people who don’t want to know. But even though I saw that and worked out how it was done, I haven’t decided to head to the internet and brand Dynamo – who is, after all, a non-wizard from Bradford – some kind of charlatan because I could see something I probably wasn’t supposed to. I’m just happy to let him carry on, because it’s the spectacle of the thing. It’s only a poorly edited slow-mo shot that gives the game away.

Likewise, if I happen to see footage of him floating above the shard like the Eye of Sauron, I’m not going to immediately think that he’s an actual wizard. I’m going to want to work out how he’s done it. And I’d be a complete idiot if I didn’t think at least one wire was involved. But I’m not going to call him out on it. Magic is about the entertainment, it’s about the wonder of how it is done. It’s about suspension of disbelief, it’s about someone knowing the right way to fool a watcher into believing that the laws of the known universe are a little bit out of kilter.

When I’ve seen the guy who played Chris Tate on Emmerdale at Ripon Racecourse, I’ve not run up to him and accused him of being a fraud because Chris Tate was in a wheelchair and he was able-bodied. I haven’t called the police because I think he’s claiming incapacity benefit or whatever and then gambling it away on the favourite in the 2.30. Because I can distinguish reality from fiction. 

For the same reason I don’t actually think Dynamo is a real wizard.

He is a fraud and cheat. But that’s all part of the game. That’s the entertainment. That’s the full package. For the same reason I don’t believe that David Copperfield walked through the Great Wall of China, I don’t believe that Dynamo can actually twist your iPhone in half. But I’ve seen him do it. And it blows your mind. Even though you know that somewhere along the line, he’s tricked you. He’s conned you and he’s cheated.

And that’s the part that actually is magic.


The Ice Bucket Blog

August 28, 2014

I did the ice bucket challenge yesterday.

I donated my money.

But, if i look at all the stories about the ice bucket challenge I get the distinct impression that I shouldn’t have bothered.

For example, I’ve seen one article which says that donating to ALS (it’s a Canadian website, so MND over here) isn’t worth it because it’s not even in the top twenty most fatal diseases. Now, aside from that sounding like the sort of countdown show they’d have on Channel 4 on a Bank Holiday with various stars, faded or otherwise, telling humorous anecdotes about fatal diseases they’ve had, I have to think that judging whether an organisation should or shouldn’t receive donations based on the fatality level of the disease to be a bit, well, less than charitable.

Cancer and heart disease, probably predictably, sit at the top of the table. But, by that very fact alone they’re already very well known causes. Up until quite recently I didn’t know that there were organisations you could donate to for things like Motor Neurone Disease, so people pouring cold buckets of water on their heads has – if nothing else – raised awareness of that in the same way that, say, the Race For Life or Macmillan coffee mornings fly the flag for cancer. 

The other less than charitable side to it all are the people who have come out in criticism of the fact that the people doing the challenge aren’t proper charitable people because they’re only making a donation because of the popularity of the ice bucket challenge, branding them (us… me) slacktivists.

Surely, in the first instance, ANY money to ANY charitable organisation is a good thing.

Just because we may not have copious standing orders leaving our account every month to numerous different causes doesn’t make our donations any less special than anyone elses. I don’t think that MND, ALS, Macmillan, Oxfam, the British Heart Foundation, Alzheimer’s Society, Comic Relief, Children In Need or whoever would turn round and say, “Sorry, I don’t want you’re money if you’re only donating it as a one-off because of a passing social media fad.” But, for some reason, the slacktivists seem to offend those who donate more regularly.

Then there’s the people who complain that it’s incredibly narcissistic because everyone’s posting a video of themselves getting wet for charity (and having fun doing it). It’s the whole fifteen minutes of fame thing. Everyone’s doing it for Facebook likes or to be held in some sort of high regard by their peers. They’re not. Sure, some probably are. Some are making more of big deal out of it, coming up with elaborate dunking methods or whatever – I just did mine as quickly as possible because I had a gammon joint cooking in the oven. I didn’t do it for the Facebook likes.  I did it for the same reason as the people who have all the charitable standing orders set up – so that I could feel smug and self-righteous and write a blog about it to whinge.

But if you want to look at it like that, then how is taking a video of yourself tipping a bucket over your head and putting it online somewhere for your friends to see any different than sharing a picture of you with the medal you receive for completing the Race For Life. Or a picture of you after you shaved your head for the Shave or Style campaign on behalf of Macmillan. Or at various stages of ugly facial hair growth during Movember. Or the sister campaign, Vajanuary. 

It’s not, is it? It’s no different. It’s no different to point out that you, yourself, tirelessly give to charity while we fly-by-nighters have just come along and stolen some of your glory by just doing something because we saw a video of David Beckham do it.

For charitable people, people who donate to charities are properly bitchy.


Panda-moni-nom-nom-nom

August 27, 2014

There’s an absolutely awesome story on the news today that a panda might have faked being pregnant so that it could have some buns.

I think that’s amazing. When it comes to studying the behaviour of animals, and the displays of intelligence we never really mention the panda. It’s always apes and dolphins. Apes because they’re the closest to us and dolphins because they display amazing intelligence and a tolerance for swimming with idiots which is not displayed by anyone other species in the known universe.

But now this panda has put its paw into the arena and showed that animals can, in fact, be clever little buggers when they want to be. Especially faking a pregnancy, when pandas getting pregnant seems to happen less often than an ice age at the moment (incidentally, the whole issue of breeding pandas is one of my top five reasons why the events of Noah’s Ark can never have happened). But the idea that a panda has, somehow, got wind of the fact that if they are found to be pregnant they get special treatment which includes, but is not limited to, access to buns and then decided to pretend to be pregnant is just amazing.

I suppose, though, when you just eat bamboo all the time, the chance at sinking your teeth into a cinnamon roll or a jam doughnut is just one that you can’t pass up. You’d immediately start walking around, holding your belly or really putting a lot of effort in when you get out of a chair or make other pandas give up their seat for you on public transport. And, of course, when you stop being a panda on display because you’re on maternity leave and are just in the habitat bit at the back of your enclosure nomming your way through a pile of Mr Kipling’s exceeding good cakes.

But this is where you can give the game away – you have to remain vigilant and keep up the pretense at all times. For example, if you hear a keeper coming, you should probably be seen reading Mylene Klass’ baby book and not, say, diving into a mountain of buns like Scrooge McDuck into his money bin.

But, sadly, the panda was rumbled. Someone got a bit suspicious, possibly tipped off by the fact that the panda was just shouting out “Bring more buns!” all the time, and not attending any Lamaze classes, painting the nursery or saying things like “When you have a baby, you’ll understand…”. So they took the panda away and had a proper look at it – something which you would have thought they’d done when they thought it was pregnant in the first place, but apparently not – and it turns out it’s not pregant. It never had been pregnant. It wasn’t even a female panda… ok, it was a female panda, but that would have been the perfect icing on the cake which the panda very much wanted.

I have never wanted to adopt a panda more.


It’s Only Words

August 26, 2014

There’s a story on Sky News today which says that anyone who says that they will fetch their pussycat in a fortnight is behind the times.

Apparently the popularity of the words pussycat (despite the sterling work done by the Dolls), fortnight and fetch has fallen dramatically over the past few years, because of the rise in popularity of the internet. I would argue that that is probably not the case. In the past thirty-something years I have heard maybe one or two people say “pussycat” without referring to a musical group. I wouldn’t say it’s become any less popular, I would argue that it’s never ever been popular and would want to know where the person who collected the information in the first place was doing that, because I can only imagine it was a home for crazy-arsed cat ladies.

So these words are less popular and, according to Sky News, have been replaced by words like Google, internet, Facebook and iPhone.

Now, I’m not sure they’ve actually been replaced by those words. I don’t think you can you’ll Google your internet in a Facebook and people will mark down on your calendar that you’ll be collecting a feline in a couple of weeks.  I think the words pussycat, fetch and fortnight are still out there for human use. The way Sky News has reported this vital piece of news – considering there is child abuse in Rotherham, the Scottish Referendum, Ebola and countless other things of far more import – makes it sound as if the words have squared off against each other in a back street somewhere to decide who would come out on top.

We’ve also neglected Marvelous in favour of Awesome, according to the report. Which, if anything, is due solely to the work of the Lego Movie and the lack of any kind of publicity for Roald Dahl’s George’s Marvelous Medicine.

And Walkman.

Someone had to commission a study to find out that less of us are using the word “Walkman” in conversation now than were doing so in the 1990s. Someone got money to find that out. I would imagine less of us are talking about the Black Death as well, but I can’t prove that without a large grant to enable me to ask the proper questions. I mean, I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that Walkmans, which are basically dead technology nowadays, are not a hot topic on people’s lips. Even when they were in vogue, I don’t think I had many conversations in which I bandied about the word “Walkman” anyway. Possibly because I had a cheaper Boots-own version and had to hide the shame of not really having any music for it, apart from a tape I got from sending off some tokens on a packet of Weetabix and a collection of songs called “Hits For Kids”. 

You know what else isn’t said as much nowadays? Marmalade. Sky News have attributed this to the fact that “today’s young people” might not like it. Even if they didn’t like it, you’d still expect them to go around saying this like, “You get me, I don’t like none of this marmalade shiz, innit blud” and things of that nature. 

But it’s not that. It’s that no young person of a certain age has been exposed to Paddington Bear. 

Once the film comes out, marmalade is going to soar back up that word chart like a pussycat up a tree.

Marvelous.

 


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