Sunday, November 8, 2015

Freed Eye Mentions

I've went to the pictures recently to see an animated film about a young supergenius who builds astonishingly advanced robots after an hour or so doodling on some A4 despite not attending school. Everyone can relate to this person, who finds creating independent automatons easy, as we all have a similar talent that will enable us to shine and succeed without having to put much effort in, be it possessing superpowers, being a magical princess or developing handily useful mutations where you get super sharp claws but not a massive tumour. I am still waiting for my skill at making origami boxes out of Post-It notes to win me accolades and financial reward.

It being an animation, I located my young children in the woods where they were wasting their time building dens and using their imaginations and forced them to come with me so it didn't look weird. I also needed them to complete my "Wookie With Cubs" costume ensemble.

There was a choice of display for the film. Whether in 3D, for an agonisingly high price, or in conventional 2D, for just a shockingly high price. I chose the 2D version.

But NOT, I might point out, because of the financial implications. I was already vibrating with righteous indignation over the cost ("I could buy four DVDs for that!"), but because of my track history with three dimensional fillums.

Let me take you back.

It was a more innocent time, less cynical, and this was epitomised in the embryonic industry they called, charmingly, "The Movies".

Of course, back then it was all all stop motion, arty projects that relied on suspension of disbelief by the audience as much as special effects. Hooee yessir, you'd find it awfully quaint compared to modern blockbusters like Alvin and the Chipmunks, but we were still excited by the prospect because it was all so new, so shiny, so futuristic!

If I remember correctly, and you will forgive me because it was a time or two ago, but I dimly recall attending the cinema (or seizure palaces as we used to call them) to view an early foray into the primeval soup of three dimensional displays in an amateur production called 'Avatar'.

Avatar was a funny old film about race relations and plantation ownership, with a David versus Goliath theme in which a pitifully few hardy immigrants relying on clever defensive devices went up against an entire planetary ecosystem including well-armed giants, city-sized weeds and ferocious creatures determined to stop them making viable use of valuable minerals. I don't want to spoil it for you but there was a twist, in that the film ignored the standard feel good finale ‎and instead the plucky entrepreneurs ended up losing with most getting killed or deported. Until they presumably returned with a spaceship full of bombs anyway.

The hype over the film's three dimensionals were significant, and myself and a friend succumbed to the pressure and attended, excitedly making our way to the entrance, tickets clutched in donnies as if they were flimsy predictions of things to come.

Firstly, we were given glasses!

That felt a bit daft. I'd put contact lenses in, so the last thing I wanted when out and about was to revert to four-eyediness. I glanced around and saw everyone wearing them so I did as well, reasoning that if we didn't embrace new technology we'd never have experienced poptarts.

Then, we sat in the dark and suffered the half a god damn hour of utter advertising crap that all cinemas must throw at us before every film, making us promise to ourselves that we will come 25 minutes later next time. But, eventually, the movie itself began!

A logo appeared!

It was a bit of a ball, bulging slightly in the screen.

My mate Phil, turned to me, all agog, and nodded, smiling widely. "Whoa!" he said.

"Er?" I replied, succinctly.

We watched the film which, despite being obvious, clich├ęd, gung-ho, pseudo-religious bunkum, was really very enjoyable. I liked it. But . . .

Ah, but.

But indeed.

Throughout the film, Phil would occasionally nudge me, breathlessly muttering "Wow!" or "Look at that!" or "It's all around!"or "Crivens, lawks-a-mercy guvnor!" because he's from Canada.

I nodded and agreed that, yes the dialogue was indeed very good, that I did enjoy ten feet tall, blue mostly naked ladies with hairy tails, and that the scariest machine in the film was a giant lawn-mower, but I wasn't getting the special effects bit. It was essentially a normal film but the screen looked slightly lumpy.

"No way, brah!" exclaimed Phil in his classical questioning intonation. "The ashes from the fire were practically falling on our shoulders!"

"Um, no they weren't." I retaliated aggressively.

"What!" Phil reciprolocutated in disbelief. "You could see the vegetation all around you! It was like being in the super space copter! You could practically motorboat the giant lady smurf!"

"Really?" I thought about the occasional bit of leaf that popped out of the screen by a few inches, or a big gilled lizardbirdhorse swooping forwards like a pike trying to breach the surface meniscus of a particularly calm pond, but not actually making it.

Turns out I'm in that small minority of folk who can't see films in 3D.

Twelve bloody quid well spent there then.

I have since revisited this scenario, wearing normal glasses and trying out 3D tellies, but all to no avail, and if you ask doctor Google, it informs you that the most likely cause is cancer or physical deformity.

I've checked and I've got the requisite number of eyes (between 1 and 7) pointing in roughly the right direction, and the bit of brain that processes imagery appears to be functioning because I can see both of my glass of scotch, so this rather confuses me.

Since that day, I have eschewed  3D fillums, and have occasionally wondered if I'm missing out. After cogitation, I have come to the conclusion that it is not, in fact, anything to do with me. It's a massive con! Admit it! You are all pretending to see amazing three dimensional pictures, but it's a big ruse isn't it? Like the Emperor's Nude Clothes, sudoku or pretending grapefruits are edible.

I know that may sound a tad paranoid, but I'm not crazy you know (I've got a special sane dance to prove it). It's got precedent, this sort of thing. I will never believe there are really pictures in those Magic Eye pages, no matter what anybody tells me.

So don't be surprised if you see me, forlonrly traipsing into the the lonely two dimensional screen at the back of the multiplex, the one next to cupboard where they store the floor sweepings before using them to top up the pales of popcorn, where they have mushrooms on the seats and straw on the floor, where smoking is still allowed as long as you share. Maybe you'll spare a thought for me, as I huddle down next to the other outcasts, watching tales of strange super beings who can actually see three dimensional films.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Sign Post


Useful information or society's crazy mumbling? They're called notices but we don't often notice them!

That's right, I used both meanings of the word 'notice' there for comedic effect. Let the hilarity ensue.

Two examples I came  across confused and annoyed me, and I'd like to share them with you because I feel you deserve it.

The first one informed me that the organisation putting it up doesn't understand the concept of tautology:

Do NOT smoke the petroleum spirit!
It's the blue one I'm interested in. I'm going to let the lower case 'e' and the capital 'F' go because I understand it's some sort of advert, and the rules of grammar don't really apply. Either that or it's a typo, and who do'e's'nt maik thoes occasionallly?

Energy Fuel though? Is that necessary, because what other type of fuels are there? 

"Careful sir, that's angry fuel for BMWs. You want energy fuel which is the next nozzle over. No, not that one, that's lethargic fuel and you look like you're in  a hurry."

Also, do you need to advertise energy fuel on a petrol station forecourt, where people have stopped primarily to pucrchase some sort of fuel, in order to provide energy for their vehicles (or maybe themselves, if it's a Ginsters brown paste container). Do people get out of their car, look at the sign, and then think "Ooh, fuel! energy Fuel as well. Might get me some of that. I'm glad I stopped to take photos of the car wash now."

Uneccesary advertising reminds me how, after you've bought something on the internet, your social media suddenly fills up with adverts for the thing you've just purchased, when you couldn't be less interested and all it's likely to do is piss you off if it's cheaper.

The second one I came across whilst out walking and simply indicates that the poster's a cockwomble:

He's collecting for charity

"Yeah, there's a bull in the field, on the public right of way, but I've warned them so it's their lookout if they get gored".

 Anyway, there are some good ones here.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Man Who Went Up A Hill But Came Down Heavily On A Jack Russell.

I walked up a nill last week.

It was very pleasant, and consisted of the standard things that hill walks should ideally be made up of. A (not too steep) hill, some scenery, some unseasonably mild weather and a hip flask.

Also, a healthy variety of domesticated and wild fauna. Sheep, with the occasional lamb, frolicked and gambolled in the fields. Ponies trotted hither and thither, birds flew with varying degrees of elegance and there were even some saddleback cows. And before any of you so called qualified farmers mention there's no such thing as saddleback cows, look:

"This grounds soft Gertie. I've sunk right up to me udders."

And some dogs.

I quite like dogs. This is a pity because for some reason, I make them nervous. I must exude some aura or scent which suggests I'm something either to be feared or instantly attacked. I've seen large rottweilers guarding farmyards slink behind barns rather than threaten me, and tiny wiener dogs renowned for friendly inquisitiveness  go for my knees like some sort of guided hot dog. It's very odd.

An acquaintance, who practices the occult art of amateur dogology suggested I change my behaviour to extract the optimum response from hounds, instructing me to establish some ground rules straight away. This would be useful in my line of work, I thought, as I often have to get past unrestrained mutts to get to patients. I was given instructions, which included using a confident voice, sticking a hand right in their faces, giving 'em a damn good no-nonsense fuss and then ignoring them.This lets them know exactly where we both stand apparently, and I'm pleased to say it works more often than not. Alternatively, when faced with an aggressive canine that presses an attack, consider staying very still and avoiding eye contact is the recommended advice.

The dogs of today, howsomever, were of a different ilk. Really, quite stupendously irritating.

As we plodded up the mountainette to get some good views of Wales and Gloucestershire, we walked past a smallholding, populated by abandoned tractors, quad bikes, rubble and a pack of half a dozen hounds. And no gate. We were on a public highway at this point, but the pack had obviously claimed it as their own, and now a couple of bipeds were having the audacity to encroach on their tarmac.

They. Went. Mental.

The cacophony of barks and howls was deafening, and got even louder as they streamed through the gateway into the road. There was a spectrum of sizes from a knee high terrier cross that ran at the head of the pack like it had had it's knees surgically removed, through medium mongrels to wiry waist-high varmints that looked a bit embarrassed to be there frankly, and would obviously prefer to be finding a sheep to chew on.

The leader, who obviously suffered from small dog syndrome, was the loudest and most unpleasant, determined to show he wasn't all bark and no bite. The other five mongrels stopped about ten feet away and simply practised growling, but he pressed his attack. His size and demeanour put me in mind of certain historical war-leaders, feisty generals and territory mad Emperors of diminutive stature and so, in deference to this, I duly named him Twatty.

Too small to be more than an irritant, or so I thought, I laughed it off and turned away to continue my journey uphill. I was subsequently a little surprised to find my progress impeded by the attachment of an angry half Jack Russel to the leg of my Berghauses.

I shook him off hard and he backed away. The other dogs joined him, growling and advancing towards us in a surprisingly menacing fashion. They stopped, stared at me, and then then moved forward as one. I remembered the instructions about standing stock still and hoping they lost interest.

Screw that, I thought, opening my arms and doing a passable impression of a constipated grizzly, confident that this display should scare off most feral mammals.

It did, for about five seconds, and I had to repeat the exercise three of four times with each re-enactment losing some of it's terrifying efficacy. Twatty was obviously smarter than your average hound and, I expect, he had a history of delighting in calling bluffs. I had a horrible feeling this was going to end up with me kicking the little bastard into a ditch, and you can absolutely guarantee there'd be someone with a GoPro filming me do it from a bush.

The pack advanced again, and I readied myself for some canine punting.

Mrs The Jules, who is known for ice cold pragmatism and a clinical detachment towards necessary suffering (she's a nurse) promptly stepped forth. She raised her hand which had a large, very visible stone in it. Her expression had a touch of the "make my day" about it, an attitude favoured by those with preventative justice on their minds and the means to carry it out.

Twatty stopped dead. The rest of his gang, displaying admirable levels of self-preservation, suddenly lost interest and began examining some fox poo on a grassy knoll, looking as innocent as one of the many lambs they had almost certainly dismembered over the years. Definitely quite bright, I surmised, as Twatty's near future scrolled out in his minds eye, consisting quite prominently of a rock shaped bruise somewhere on his anatomy. Mrs The Jules looked like she was quite happy to make up for a lack in anatomical accuracy with sheer enthusiasm, and she cocked her arm back. There was a distinct lack of bluff in her demeanour, as both I and the dogs could tell. 

Twatty came to a decision. If a canine movement could be described as a handbrake turn he achieved one with remarkable efficiency. Mrs The Jules, her vim levels high, actually looked mildly disappointed at the peaceful resolution she had managed to create and, after reversing away in a tactical retreat that would have made any Italian proud, we carried on our journey.

"Nice." I told her, as I checked my troos for damage.
"We have to go back this way though." she said, and spent the next two hours of the walk choosing a more aerodynamic set of rocks to take back down the hill.

Sadly for her throwing arm though, the return journey was free of violence. Twatty and the pack saw Mrs The Jules, missile ready for launch, and decided they weren't that interested in the road anyway. I swear if dogs had the lips for it, they would've whistled nonchalantly.

So, a few lessons learned here, I reckon. Even though dogs are highly intelligent, social hunters, they are no match for constructed weapons, and even the most non-violent of humans has an intrinsic aptitude for that.The biggest stick usually wins.

Also, Twatty and The Pack would be a great band name.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Money laundering

Whisper it quietly. Don't let the white goods hear you. Speak softly or they will take action.

SCENE I:  At home, domestic bliss ensuing, children locked in attic. 

Wife (checking bank balance online): "That overtime paid off. Halfway through the month and we're not in overdraft!"

Washing machine: "Chugga."

Me: "What was that?"

Wife: "Nothing, just the washing machine. It makes that noise sometimes."

Me: "Ah, yeah. So finances looking okay then?"

Washing machine: "Chugga chugga chugga."

Wife: "Well, the mortgage has to come out yet and there's the car repair, but at the moment, could be worse . . ."

Me: "Creee?"

Wife: "That's not normal?"

Me: "Pardon?"

Wife: "Normal! That incessant loud screaming noise, the violent shaking and the way it's trying to break the hose off the back, that's not normal washing machine behaviour!"


Me: "What?"

Wife: "All that water spraying around the kitchen! Also not normal!"

Me (switching machine off at the mains and struggling to reach isolation valve): "You don't say!"

Wife: "No need to shout."

Washing machine (obeying comedy edict of all dramatically failing machinery everywhere): "Sproing."

Wife: Is that a spring?"

Spring sprungs.

Me: "I feel it is, yes."

SCENE II - Showroom featuring large three dimensional rectangles designed to fit in kitchen spaces.

Salesman: "And then it went 'sproing' you say?"

Me: "Sproing, yes."

Salesman: "Was that preceded by a CREEEEEEEE by any chance?"

Me: "It was, yes!"

Salesman: "Oh. I see."

Me: "Is that good then?"

Salesman: "A sproing after a CREEEEEEEE is not usually a good sign, no." Points at my forehead "And did that spring come out of it?"

Me: "Oh this? It did yes. Must pull it out soon."

Salesman: "I know it's probably expected of me, but can I suggest that you buy a new one."

Me: "I believe my wife has already chosen that one over there, with the little smiley face sticker surrounded by pound signs on it."

Salesman: "Selling that one does make us happy sir."


I presume that this sort of universal rule whereby any sort of disposable income that makes itself momentarily available will immediately become earmarked for an unavoidable repair has already been discovered? Saved a bit of money on the car insurance this year? Boom! - the heating packs in. Tax rebate? Whack! - the laptop takes  up smoking. Lottery win - Shabang! The helicopter crashes into the Bugatti. 

There's probably whole theses addressing this. Is it a separate event or part of Sod's Law? Is there a malicious entity at work, maybe karma, or is it Jesus punishing us for allowing Pekineses to marry? I might look it up on the google and see if it's a well documented phenomenon.

If not, I shall write it down and name it the There's Always Bloody Something Law.