Archive for April 2010

Remorseless Agony

April 29, 2010

This was to be one of those operations that are done without anaesthetic. For that reason the patient was strapped to the bed in the operating room. For reasons known only to the male patient he signed away his right to bite and refused to chew down on a rectangular tube of rubber.

Preparations were under way by the underlings in this surgical procedure. The man in charge of the vital signs monitor was finding it difficult to receive a good transmission so he thumped the top of the screen and righted the picture. The “Keep clear” man had his two hot irons ready and sizzling to uncrease the patient back to life if required and a porter was holding a bucket.

High drama ensued in the theatre as the doctor made his entrance. The bondaged patient sucked in a sharp outtake of breath that, in the natural law of respiration was then blown out. Even though you could cut the tension with a Stanley knife the patient reflected on the difference between sucking and blowing and vowed to experiment on instead of sucking Candy, blowing Candy.

The doctor said. “Magic Sponge.” (more…)


Saturday Night at the Trailers

April 24, 2010

The media group STV is to sell its cinema advertising business Pearl & Dean for £1. There must be a catch in the small print somewhere. Surely you can’t go to Poundland and purchase Pearl & Dean?

The P&D contracted adverts are a prequel before the film. Lively and increasingly entertaining as they are, when all’s said and done they are just adverts. Consider this, nobody sits around watching the ad’s on TV, there’s other things to do during the break. Water the plants, take the rubbish out, read the My Telegraph home page, pick your ears and inspect the results. You know what I mean, make your own lists up.

As an infrequent moviegoer when I plunge into the theatre I pay no attention to Pearly Deans. However, one of the delights in a trip to the pictures is the trailers for upcoming films. These tasters for future attractions are getting longer and the editors seem to have bulleted in all the major lines and scenes in the films. On account of this you drool that you will definitely want to see this. Sometimes the best bits are in the trailer and the film fails to live up to the hype.

It is annoying the people who see a film as soon as it is released and give away all the twists and conclusions. Websites have a name for this sort of thing: spoilers. I’d love to put all these air deflector individuals on a trailer and send them Barefoot to Timbuktu. A law should be passed that films should only be discussed in certain places. A suitable arena could be the foyer after you have watched the film…making sure that the next lot of patrons overhear your conversation.

Another regular complaint about going to the flicks is the noise. Some members of the public ignore the mobile phone warning and then there’s the loud eating of hungry film buffs. These criticisms can not be thrown at me. My phone always needs charged up and I’ve consumed all my Coca-Cola and crisps during the trailers. However, in the past I have been guilty of uh…having my feet on the seat in front of me. Normally it isn’t a problem but if somebody is sitting there…

Science fiction blockbusters work the best on the big screen in my opinion, you might prefer romantic comedies, and I look forward to Iron Man II.

The Thing about Stan

April 23, 2010

Stan’s Soapbox was the original blog. Forty years later we’ve all jumped on his bandwagon. The multi-talented writer of this good natured little monthly column was Stan (the Man) Lee. Stan was a jack of all trades with more strings to his bow than the non-harp playing Leonardo Da Vinci. Writer, editor, producer, publisher, chairman, soapbox philosopher, probable tea or more probably, coffee maker at Marvel Comics Group –and now moonlighting as an actor in costumed caper films- Stan was behind some of the greatest heroes and villains ever created.

One of his favourite ploys was the use of alliteration in naming his bombastic, balloon speaking band of bright coloured baddies and baddie bashers. Stan said the similar sounding consonants embellished his characters and made them easier to remember. Who can forget: Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, Otto Octavius, Matt Murdoch, Reed Richards, Stephen Strange or Taneleer Tivan? The last one is for anoraks only. As a collector of Marvels in my youth my appetite for the world saving exploits of theses iconic figures has waned…slightly. Nonetheless the charm and humour of Stan Lee left a huge impression on me.

Compared to the realistic scribbling of the literati luminaries of late like Alan Moore or Neil Gaiman to name two, Stan’s stories sound stilted. (more…)

The Only Way is Up

April 17, 2010

A bonding trip of mountain climbing was just what the doctor ordered: Fresh air, camaraderie and a unique sense of fulfilment. After much debate the company drew up an itinerary to climb three peaks. First on the list were the Annapurna peaks in the Himalayas. As we ascended, abreast of me a colleague remarked. “I wouldn’t mind climbing the Anna Kournikova Mountains.” This guy’s well on the road to blindness and we haven’t seen any snow yet.

Gaining height the valley narrows and our party was surrounded by glaciers, great rock buttresses and magical visions of the sun. Extraordinarily we were cold and sunburnt at the same time. The scintillating panoramic view made this long trek worthwhile. It was a bit of a downer thinking about the long journey down until I espied a lake many miles below the mountain.
“We’ll jump.” I said.
“Like hell we will.” said one of the sunstroke kids.
“If the waters deep enough and we don’t get squished to death we’ll be OK.”
My sound reasoning prevailed and we jumped off the mountain to climb another day.

Next on the agenda was Everest. We aimed to join the five and a half mile club. Setting off on the usual route we came across vendors of many items along the trail. A coca-cola stand stood beside a stall with oxygen equipment. A furniture wholesaler traded next to a seller of heavy clothing. Spotting a bargain I couldn’t resist buying a blown up inflatable Yeti to take up the mountain with me. What fun I’d have scaring other parties.

Nearing the top the going got tough; indeed, Everest has many double glaciers. On reaching the pinnacle of the world we bumped and barged into fellow ascenders as the place was as busy as the subway. Agonisingly, we were presented with a common problem of mountaineering. Yes, you’re right, our old pal: the descent.

Nobody fancied jumping again so I asked if anybody wanted a winch. We’re not that way inclined, said the male chorus; the fools thought I meant kissing. Calling in one of my pilot friends a helicopter appeared and lifted us up, up and away, high over the peaks.

Finally we took a vacation to South Africa to scale the beautiful Table Mountain in Cape Town. Completely shattered by hammering with ice picks on the previous legs of our adventure, we took the cable car to the top. Now this was our kind of mountain. Totally flat with a true surface, we indulged in all the activities a giant table can muster. We played subbutteo, snooker and of course, table tennis. Retrieving the mishit balls was the only downer.

Chibber at the Court

April 16, 2010

(Taken from The Chibber Papers)

From the street anybody passing by the indoor tennis court would have heard the squeaking of rubber shoes and the curses of the players. Inside the heat was stifling as the battle raged on. On one side was the British challenger, Harry Chibberson, Chibber to his friends. He had crossed the channel to duel with the French Champion: Henri Thierry LeCount.

Le Count had miscounted the score a few times and Chibber was thinking of knocking Henri’s cheating head off. The two combatants were locked in a pulsating game of real tennis. Although as Chibber was wont to say, well it’s not going to be dummy tennis, now is it?

The scoring system in place was the same as for today’s more cultured lawn Tennis. Even though LeCount had stolen a few points, Chibber was serving for the match and the game was tied at 40-40, more commonly called deuce, but there was no time for drinks. (more…)

Financing News

April 8, 2010

It was too good to last. It was the world’s best drummer, Neil Peart of Rush who wrote “You don’t get something for nothing; you can’t have freedom for free.” The bombshell that from June viewers will have to pay a fee to visit The Times and Sunday Times website is alarming news. The hacks have it in for us.

The fear is that soon all the main news broadcasters will follow suit and the World Wide Web will not be a metro anymore. However, there are millions, nay googleions of news sites out there and they all can’t ask for a subscription. So you have a choice of reading an obscure journal or paying for a popular news organisation.

(Where’s my secretary gone? I never gave her the day off)

Personally, I much prefer a “paper” newspaper than the online version. Turning and folding the pages with big inky fingers, spilling tea on it, drawing moustaches on my least favourite politicians (the JW10 website likes to remain politically neutral because it will do its utmost to avoid confrontation on account of its cowardice) and finally re-enacting the Battle of Britain with my carefully constructed paper planes. Great fun these newspapers, one of these days I might get round to reading one.

Newspaper sales are in decline as everything is electronic today and maybe someday we will see the end of the printing industry, leaving us with e-news broadsheets full of annoying distractions at the side of the page. The only winners are the trees. Neil Peart (him again) wrote the lyrics to The Trees. There are even arguments in the forest.

The maples formed a union
And demanded equal rights
‘The oaks are just too greedy
We will make them give us light’
Now there’s no more oak oppression
For they passed a noble law
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet, axe and saw

P.S The management can state unequivocally that there are no plans in the pipeline to charge for its business news updates. We don’t want you switching to the Financial Times.

Tales of The Wire: 1. Ziggy

April 3, 2010

The words hero and Ziggy Sobotka just didn’t look right in the same sentence. The car thieving, drug selling, manhood flashing, duck loving longshoreman was bereft of redeeming characteristics. He is a daft boy, that’s true, he is also a cold blooded murderer convicted for twenty years.

While doing his stretch, Ziggy swore to change his outlook on life. His impeccable behaviour behind bars resulted in a reduced sentence for his crime; the aforementioned murder. He wracked his brains to find a meaning, an outlet for his brand new taste for redemption.

He sought solace in a six string acoustic guitar and twanged away with his tattooed knuckles at a melody. Alas! Ziggy couldn’t play guitar. Discarding the guitar Ziggy vowed, no more will I be the village idiot, a comic strip goofball, I am going to be a legend. (more…)