Archive for September 2013

Nothing but the tooth

September 26, 2013

“You don’t have to brush your teeth – just the ones you want to keep.”Author Unknown

One of the wonders of the modern age is your friendly, neighbourhood dentist. Hygiene is of paramount importance in any medical field and the dentistry profession prides itself in its cleanliness. It doesn’t boast to others by saying “eat your heart out” it prefers to say “clean your mouth out”. And who can resist a minty, fresh breath? I am surprised there isn’t an addiction clinic for Mouthwash Substance Abusers, though maybe it’s only me. I repeat, who can resist a minty, fresh breath?

It’s good to have teeth to go with the salubrious air that expels from my mouth and handily, dentists will only extract a tooth as a last resort. The man with the slaughterhouse overalls will perform miracles to save the enamel from being lost. They’ll scrape it, drill it, polish it, fill it, bridge it, paint it, patch it, glue it, stitch it, bandage it, physiotherapy it, walking stick it, they’ll go the full mile to get that tooth back on its feet again. I cannot speak highly enough of these warriors of the gums. I toast them every night with a litre of cola.

One of the horrors of the modern age or any age for that matter is the pain of toothache. Before the tooth healers were born there were only tooth fairies and extreme measures for combating the pain. A much derided technique though very popular involved tying a piece of string to the aching tooth and the other end to the door handle of an ajar door. Bang! On slamming the door there will be blood and hopefully, the offending gnasher will be left hanging from the neck of the string. This capital punishment served the tooth right though it seems to be outlawed in most civilised countries.

Going further back the ancient Egyptians might have been ahead of the times with the pyramids and the Rosetta Stone and stuff like that, their toothache cures were a dog’s, no make that, cat’s dinner. They advised that a mouse should be killed and applied immediately to the offending tooth. Apparently, there were healing properties in the dead mouse. I’m not buying that. Shut your trap. Shut your mouse trap.

Pliny the Elder, whose 37-volume Natural History served as the basis for scientific knowledge for centuries, believed curing toothache was a simple process as easy as making potato scones. First off, you need a full moon and a frog. Full moon, frog, frog, full moon- to paraphrase Tommy Cooper’s spoon/jar routine. Next up open the frog’s mouth, spit into it and say “Frog, do me a giant favour, and take my toothache with thee!”. Make sure to say thee! Pliny’s cure promises that the pain will put its hat and boots on, jump on the nearest horse and leave town, riding into the sunset. Pliny was just an old gunslinger at heart.

Animals seem to figure in most of the ancient remedies: worms, rabbits, spider’s eggs. The toad, in particular, was favoured in many cultures. It was believed that by licking a toad’s belly the pain would disappear. This instant release would be commendable if they weren’t so many ugly toads hopping about. Being quite fussy I’d insist on licking a good-looking toad. This lick could cure the pain and have a secondary result. I might free the toad from the wicked spell it is under and it could turn into a beautiful Princess.

Radio Blah

September 17, 2013

The explosion of digital radio stations means there is a vast choice of listening material on the menu. One station that I particularly enjoy is Radio Blah. They deal exclusively with everyday gothic soap operas. There are some compelling episodes.

    The laptop with the faulty battery

Nancy Wheeler was going to be thirty. The day before her birthday a surprise party had been arranged by her husband using all his surreptitious guile to leave Nancy ignorant of the celebration in her honour. Nancy’s close friend, Jessie Bird was excited for Nancy and she was making last minute adjustments to her make-up before she and her husband would leave to be at the party before Nancy as is the convention at surprise parties.

“Are you ready, James? What are you doing?” Jessie asked.

James Bird had just finished making the last of his chess moves against an online opponent using his laptop that had a faulty battery. The mains plug had to be on continuously to keep the console powered. With their children shepherded away at relatives James could concentrate on his game and just given his foe a discovered check. Get out of that one Karpov. Kasparov. Korchnoi. Kramnik. Kalashnikov. Karravagio, whoever you are?. The list of chess masters with their surname beginning with the letter K amazed James. No famous Birds in the chess world only the basketball world. And he played with the team that was pronounced with a hard K.

“Krisssakes.” James had switched the laptop off and was confronted with the legend.

Installing updates.
Do not turn off or power off your computer.
Installing update 1 of 45.

“James we need to go.” Jessie’s voice was more strained, more worried, more animated, more concerned, more agitated.

“We-we can’t go yet.”

“We need to go now so we are there before Nancy. I want to shout, surprise, at her.”

“The laptop is installing updates. It’ll only be-be a minute.” James looked at the screen. It was still on number one.

“Listen. We have to go. Everything is timed to the last second.”

The machine now registered 2 of 45. James wanted to give it a thump. That type of retribution used to fix his dad’s TV aerial. Corporal punishment was frowned upon by today’s new technologies. Too fragile, by far. 3 of 45.

“James, you will have to switch that thing off. Pull the plug out.”

“I-I can’t do that. The updates will be corrupted.”

“What are you talking about? Corrupted.”

“If I turn the power off before the updates are installed the next time I put the laptop on there will be registry issues and all sorts of retrieval messages and windows warnings. It’s a lot of hassle that-”

James Bird’s lament was curtailed by the telephone ringing. Nancy picked up the receiver and was hollered at down the line by Drew Wheeler, husband of Nancy. Drew was angry at their non-appearance. They were cutting it fine if they were to beat Nancy to the party. Relaying this news to James, Jessie used words she had heard Vince Cable use to describe the jailing of Chris Huhne.

“This is a terrible tragedy”

“No it’s not. It’s not a tragedy. And what else could a tragedy be except terrible. You don’t get happy tragedies, funny tragedies, laugh out loud tragedies, smiley face tragedies. They’re all terrible and there’s not even any need for the terrible. This is being tautologous,” James went on in a right fandango, “And it can’t be a tragedy because it hasn’t happened yet.” he looked at the laptop. Installing update 6 of 45. Tragic.

“Will you just pull that plug out?” shouted Jessie, nearing the contraption that was causing all the consternation.

Will the laptop install the updates quicker or will it have its power source wrenched from the wall? Will the Birds make it to the party before Nancy? Will Drew draw a line at letting in late-comers? Will James’ chess foe expect the discovered check and have a Killer King-Krushing Komeback move? Why doesn’t someone buy a new battery for the laptop? You’ll have to tune in same time tomorrow to find out.
Fade-out with instrumental music.

    Footsteps above

The Wheelers had moved into a new home. Still at the embryonic decorating stage they had shepherded their children over to their close friends, the Birds, for a few days. Close friends being relative as Drew Wheeler was still angry at the housewarming gift presented by the Wheelers. Probably, James Bird’s idea.
The Faber book of Chess Openings.

Nancy Wheeler was still excited about their new home. “Isn’t this great, Drew? I love finding all the nooks and crannies we missed when the estate agent showed us around. There’s so much to discover. Go and have a quick peek in the loft, will you, darling?”

Drew pulled down the steps leading to the highest place in the house. I’ll get Bird back, he muttered under his breath. This Christmas I’ll give him a CD of Led Zeppelin IV. Drew had a few spare copies of this.

The loft was empty save for an old canvas painting of a seaman.
“It’s empty, save for an old canvas painting of a seaman.” uttered Drew.

“Well, bring it down and we’ll chuck it out in the morning.”

The rest of the day passed in matrimonial bliss as the Wheelers, without the children getting under their feet completed many of the chores needed to do in a new house. Bedtime arrived and they snuggled down for the night. Lights off.

Within a few minutes they heard noises coming from above them. It sounded like footsteps. Nancy felt a chill go through her bones. “What is that?” she cowered under the clothes.

Drew had also heard the footsteps. Feigning sleep he did not answer. An elbow in the ribs brought him back to life. “What is that?” asked his wife again.

“It’s nothing.” The nothing had suddenly become a bit louder. The footsteps were now sounding as if they were sloshing in water. Drew tried to play down the menace as his bravery had just put its shoes and coat on and left the building jumping on a bus to anywhere but here. “It’s just the radiators crackling.”

“It’s coming from the loft,” said Nancy “you better go up and see what it is.”

Drew did not fancy the idea. Although he had checked the loft and there was nothing in it, it was clear that there was something in it now. An unbeliever in the supernatural Drew was convinced the noises could only be from a ghostly source. He was a born again demonologist.

“It’s the painting. It must be haunted.” He said

“What are we going to do?” asked Nancy.

“We’ll put it back up in the loft in the morning. That might calm the spirit down.”

The splashing footsteps were now accompanied by a throaty laugh. Nancy and Drew did what any one would do in such a situation. They assumed the foetal position. This curling up into a ball defensive mechanism stops the villains in their tracks. No one in the history of horror films has ever seen a man with an axe attacking a rolled up person in bed. One with their feet out the covers, yes. One in the foetal position, never. Never?

Will the foetal position save the Wheelers lives? Is the painting haunted? How many spare copies of Led Zeppelin IV does Drew possess? Are there more nooks and crannies to be discovered? Tune in tomorrow to hear another thrilling instalment.
Fade-out with instrumental music.

    The sword’s mighty, the pen’s mightier

James Bird shepherded the children into the living room. With Jesse making cookies James was told to hold the fort for awhile. He looked forlornly at his broken laptop as it sat in the corner of the wing. The laptop was a casualty in the circus this place had become. A consequence of its demise would be the games of chess he would have timed out on. His rating would fall farther than the House of Usher.

“What are we going to do, Uncle James?” said one of the Wheeler children, James didn’t know which one. Stella and Steve both looked the same. It also troubled him that they had got into the habit of calling him uncle. He was far, far removed from that Record shop owner’s son, Drew Wheeler.

James had recently watched Washington Journal and he liked to watch the presenters highlight with markers selected snippets from the day’s newspapers.

“Let’s get our magic markers out.” said James and the kindergarten audience emitted a collective groan.

James produced from a little-used shelf old markers that were still in their wrappers. He tore them open and handed out the pens and scrap paper to the four children, two of them were his own flesh and blood, and told them to draw something they liked. A short time later the children had got used to writing and drawing and settled down, seeming to enjoy themselves.

The TV was showing King Kong and the ape had Naomi Watts in its big fist. King Kang was the alias of James’ current opponent in the online chess world. Double K would have discovered his check and replied in kind. James said to himself that he would never again use the en passant move, fall for a gambit or use a discovered check. He was annotating a previous game in his mind when Jesse let out a shriek.

“Cookies are ready.”

This shriek was followed by a louder one. “AAAHHHH”. The four children had passed out on the floor. The carpet was a spaghetti mixture of limbs and torsos.

“What’s happened?” shrieked the shrieking Jesse.

James investigated the scene. His nostrils quivered and it was as plain as Jesse’s cookies that the children had been intoxicated by the fumes in the marker pens. The smell of some kind of glue was strong.

“They’ve been sniffing the ink.” proclaimed James.

“This is a terrible tragedy.”

Jesse pleaded with James to do something. “Give them the kiss of life or something.”

“I can’t do that, they’re still breathing.” he looked more closely at the prostrate children seeking proof. Sure enough, there was movement in the chests. James, his chess brain with all its variations multiplying possible solutions decided to try another avenue of escape. “Open all the windows and let some fresh air in.”

Running around like a couple possessed, Jesse and James opened their windows and this rush of pure air awakened the children from their stupor. As they groggily came around the front door opened and there stood The Wheelers, wondering what was going on. Drew Wheeler had a present for James for watching his children. He carried under his arm the canvas of a painting.

Will the Birds ever baby sit Stella and Steve again? Is the painting the one of the sailor? Did the cookies get eaten? Will James never accept the Keres King’s gambit (C33) in future? All will be revealed tomorrow. Remember to tune in at the same time.
Fade-out and instrumental music.

Songs that make you cry

September 13, 2013


Ballads don’t count. Ballads are cheating. There’s a thousand and one silly love songs that have been written in the slow form of a ballad and all these cheese sandwiches are designed to make you mourn or cry. And while I have a few favourites of the cheesers, we all do, I’m looking for a more filling piece of music to move my hard heart.

Heavy metal and hard rock songs are my most listened to type of music. Nothing is as thrilling as the power of a rock song in full flow. Thrill after thrill is experienced when the rock band have got it just right. Limited as this genre is, you can’t have enough thrills in your life if you ask me. Listen to the opening riff of AC/DC’s Thunderstruck and the anticipation makes the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. Likewise, the simplicity of those big guitar chords in Megadeth’s Symphony of Destruction make you want to bang your head -Again and again and again to quote Status Quo. However, there’s not been one rock song that made me cry. Sore head afterwards, notwithstanding.

The classical movement has never caught my coat and tails. While I could name most of the popular classics thanks to the glory of adverts and stuff like that, I would find it hard to name the composer if a less well-known tune came on; they all sound the same, don’t they? One composer, two composers , three composers, four. Yet there are aficionados of radio 3 that are moved emotionally by pieces of this music. Though again, it’s slow movements which are comparable to a ballad so it doesn’t count.

Jazz music has many styles and I’m sure many star performers that can bring the audience to tears. Unfortunately, I know nothing about jazz and can’t provide further comment.

The least respected of all the musical arts is the humble pop music. Three minute records, instantly unforgettable with all the properties of an unfulfilling snack. And yet. Now and again a gem can appear from the most unlikely source. A friend showed me this video which encapsulated the poignancy of the lyrics. A simple little love song with a medium beat that hit me in the heart.

 

Boo, Hoo, Hoo, (come on now, calm down, pull yourself together- sub-editor comment)

 
Songs that make you smile

This simple little song from David Bowie always cheers me up. Have a nice night, ladies and gentlemen. Let’s dance.

2.4 The jam finger bun

September 12, 2013

“Do you think policemen really like doughnuts?” Ralph asked while biting into another slice of his jam finger bun.

“To be honest, I think it’s a myth.” his friend Jeff answered. Jeff was approaching the end zone of his jam finger bun.

“I hate to sound defeatist like C3PO but I’ve got a bad feeling about this, Jeff.”

“What, the police and doughnuts?”

“No, it’s this bun. I’m halfway through it and I’ve not came across any jam yet. You’ve plenty of jam on yours.” Ralph took another bite. “Still nothing.” He ate the last piece. “what a con. Nothing.”

“Here, have a bit of mine.” offered the philanthropic Jeff. Ralph, never one to turn his nose up at a friend’s generosity, wolfed down the remaining jam-filled slice of Jeff’s jam finger bun, consequently causing an explosion of dough and jam.

“I’ve a good mind to go back to the take away and complain that my finger bun had no jam in it.”

“Trouble is, Ralph, you’ve ate the whole thing. It’s only your word against the bakeries. I don’t know if you’ve got a good case or not.”

“I’ve got statutory rights.”

Marching with indignant steps of the longest stride, the righteous pair found themselves back at the take away that had not injected jam into the finger bun. There was a queue, there’s always a queue, yet Ralph had mitigating circumstances to skip the hungry queue. Coming face to face with the seller Ralph launched into a rant.

“What racquet are you lot dealing in here? That jam finger bun you sold me had no jam in it. It was a plain finger bun and I demand another bun. One with jam in it.”

“Certainly, sir.” the sales girl was a model of restraint, used to dealing with the unruly elements of the public. “give me back the bun you bought and I’ll replace it.”

“I’ve ate it.”

“You’ve ate it.”

“umm.. Yeah”

From out of the queue sprang an angry voice. “Not content with being a queue jumping bun-hopper, you’re now trying to wheel another bun for yourself. At the end of the day that extra bun could have went to someone else. When they’re gone, they’re gone. Go home, loser”

Ralph, who was right, was not leaving before he was satisfied. “My bun had no jam in it. Somebody’s fault, not mine. For me to know there was no jam in it I had to eat it. You can’t look at a bun and say to yourself “there’s no jam in this bun”, you have to get to the inside of it. Tell them Jeff.”

Jeff had joined the back of the queue, hungry again after giving away the last piece of his bun to his friend, the last piece is always the best, he was going to buy another bun. “His bun did have no jam in it.”

“See. See.” Jeff’s corroboration should have ended the stand-off but he had reckoned without the angry voice in the queue.

“Well, how come you’ve got a jam stain on your collar?”

Everyone in the queue titled their heads askance as did the sales girl and they examined Ralph’s collar. Sure as pillar boxes are red there was an incriminating newly-formed jam stain on the white collar. The result of the uncontrolled bite of Jeff’s bun with the inevitable spillage, which unfortunately landed on his collar. Ralph scrambled for his excuse.

“No, no, Jeff gave me a bite of-”

“-Is there a problem here?” the long arm of the law had joined the queue in the form of two stormtrooper policemen. Whether or not they were going to have doughnuts was not revealed. Their cop intuition told them that Ralph was the cause of the commotion and one of them said to him. “Sir, I am going to ask you to accompany us outside.”

Ralph moved outside and the impatient queue breathed a sigh of relief.

Fourth Anniversary edition (re-mastered)

September 8, 2013
 

Just how many times can a recording be reissued before you say to yourself enough is enough with that already. The marketing disease that repackages musical gems in new improved formats should be curtailed. There are various reasons mooted for milking the product. It’s an anniversary edition, bonus tracks have been unearthed or the sound has been made clearer, digital didgeridoo and all that. Ostensibly, it’s to stimulate sales and make a lot of money from dupes like me and you.

Unless you’re the Lord of Latveria you have to budget your pennies. Is it worth it having four different copies of the same LP? I use LP to cover all the musical bases as the LP was the original format I bought my long players in. Still, collectors will be collectors and they will find the funds to purchase that new reissue purely because it has an alternative version of a well known song.

DVD’s are also released in reissue mode with directors cuts, bonus interviews and digital enhancement. This is the same con to give the customer, let’s use a long-winded cliché to hammer out the point and elongate this sentence, to all intents and purposes goods he already owns. The reissue industry with its repackaging and remoulding is reaping rewards. It’s a good job this infernal practise has not spread to other markets.

Suspend your belief for a moment and imagine a blog being reissued. No doubt, you would be disgusted as would I were this to be an unhappy usual occurrence. A regurgitated version of a post already released is selling your public short. I don’t think I can stress how strongly I feel on this matter. You’re halfway through the page when Déjà vu whizzes in, whizzes in, and you recall reading this item before. You empty your pockets and notice you’ve been short-changed.

“They’re all the rage these days,” said my sub-editor “it’s incredible the cash you can rake in from a re-mastered blog.”

Hmm, I didn’t know they were cash vehicles. I asked my secretary, Hilary, her thoughts on the issue.

“It’ll save me climbing the paper mountain to do some research.”

This is a bit of a selfish reason on her part but I was coming round to the idea of reblogging a past masterpiece. Trouble was we didn’t have any past masterpieces. We had to re-issue mediocrity from our vault. Sailor Boy was captured by Somali pirates so it wouldn’t be fair to re-examine a Pink blog. We were also having contractual disputes with Barry the Brontosaurus’ legal team. The sub-editor suggested we publish our first post again so the paying public would see how bad we were then and how much worse we’ve become.

To celebrate four happy years of blogging here is a re-print of my first blog. This re-mastered version includes bonus pictures so you are getting value for money.


Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Excelsior!

Disney’s takeover of Marvel Entertainment, Inc. promises exciting times ahead for lovers of the Mighty Marvel comic book super-heroes. Soon the famous costumed cavorters will have their day in the happy kingdom’s theme parks. What a thrill it will be to hurl through the skies on the Silver Surfer and speed into cosmic rays in the Fantasticar.

Disney’s heavy investment in Marvel should secure the future of the magazine titles; the life blood of the group. Action figures and film franchises are all good and well, traditionalists can’t do without their monthly world saving adventures. In some cases some of these characters are over fifty years old and maybe the injection of new funds will reenergise the Marvel universe.

In the pipeline the video games arcade punters will ooze puddles of drool over their controllers with a new line-up of beat-em-up games. Dr. Strange v Goofy. The Black Panther v Shere Khan. Aunt May v Uncle Scrooge. Disney will be looking to cash in real soon and if they are searching for a man to walk about Disneyland dressed as the mighty Thor, well, call me.

Most people are aware of the Marvel heroes mainly because of the films but you always need a good baddie (my first and probably only oxymoron) and the Marvel baddies are right up there with the baddest of the bad. For your pleasure, here’s a few of the super-villains.

Galactus-

The world devouring, planet eating, greedy gannet demi-God who wants to put Earth on a plate and consume it like a snack. All of a sudden a roll and sausage doesn’t seem satisfying.

The Sandman-

A shape shifting nasty who can transform his molecules from human form into sand quicker than quicksand. More often than not he slips through Spider-man’s fingers. I like Sandy, every day’s like a day at the seaside.

Absorbing man-

He can take on the properties of anything he touches. Therefore he could be gas, solid or liquid. With these powers you could never get drunk as the unique metabolism renders the alcohol useless. What a frightening thought; being sober.

The Tinkerer-

An engineering genius who can make an explosive weapon from a string of wool and three buttons! The ultimate jack and master of all trades but he’s never about when you need help to wire a three point plug.

And now duty calls. Flame On.

 
 

 

A Plague against Plagiarists

September 3, 2013

Plagiarism.

Noun.

The practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own.

 
The above was copied from the Oxford dictionary, in case they complain about not being credited.

If there’s one thing writers hate more than a block, it is having their work plagiarised. You go to all that trouble mixing up the 26 letters of the alphabet into some kind of a semblance of a story and then someone nicks your idea and runs away with the glory. If it were up to me I’d give plagiarists 2000 lines of “I must not copy because copying is bad” for punishment. That would teach them.

Once, in my fledgling years of blogging, it was hinted from A.N Other that I had copied a poem and claimed it was an original. I protested and said I always name checked sources of lyrics and sayings if I used them. This Mr Other trawled the known internetverse looking for proof of my crime. He could find none and eventually believed that I had written the ode. The scenes of jubilation outside the court room were startling. For he’s a jolly good fellow rang out around the world.

All the arts have had their share of plagiarism scandals. In the music world rip-offs of songs are as old as Haley’s comet. In one of the more recent episodes concerning two of the latest hottest acts (probably, dear readers, you won’t know these two singers from Eve). Leona Lewis accused Rihanna of stealing her song. Lewis says she recorded “We found Love” first. Her version wasn’t released and Rihanna’s went on to be a big smash. The funny thing about all this is that the song was written by Calvin Harris. Both Lewis and Rihanna can’t write songs.

One of my more literate friends told me that Tennessee Williams, if he were still alive, should sue Cheryl Cole for copying his bum of a play The Rose Tattoo on her behind.

He laughed at his own observation.

It was no laughing matter when I checked up on the latest Kenzo advertising campaign. Kenzo are a luxury fashion and perfume maker. While their rival fashion designers have opted for glamour and refinement in their marketing Kenzo have delivered a surreal fun catalogue of images.

All Mother and Well until I recalled a few years back, while writing about London fashion week, I revealed a brand new design on one of my blogs. I can see similarities with my copyrighted photograph and the Kenzo merchandise.

My lawyers have been informed.

Summer Caving

September 1, 2013

We are proud to announce that the following poem was voted the winner in this competition.http://charioteers.org/2013/08/31/and-the-winner-is/

There was some debate over whether the words scanned correctly. I put it to the judge that versatile singers would be able to cram the excess language into the line. It’s not hard. This thing about not being able to put square pegs in round holes is nonsense. Brute force wins the day every time.

Grease was the word then, and the Neutron Bomb, while being older than we imagined, did it for us.

Summer Caving

Summer caving, had us a whack
Summer caving, me, Debbie and Jack Black
We got fed up with the beach
So we went somewhere out of reach
Summer caving, in the depths
To, uh oh, those summer caves

Well-a, well-a, well-a, uh!
Tell me more, tell me more
Did you get very far?
Tell me more, tell me more
How good is the acoustics for a guitar?

Ship-a-ba, ship-a- ba, ship-a-ba-baaaaaa

We were in floods, we got crabs
We crawled through holes, hurting our a-a-abs
We battled through Guano and ducked stalactites
Debbie laddered her tights on the stalagmites
Summer cave, oh what a rave
But, uh oh, those summer caves

Well-a, well-a, well-a, uh!
Tell me more, tell me more
Was it exciting to explore
Tell me more, tell me more
Cause it sounds like a bore

doobie-doobie-do do,do do,do do,do
Scooby-doobie doooooooo

It got cold, it ends in dejection
Jack got a cave dust infection
We swore we’d never go back
He is now called One-eyed Jack Black
Summer caves seem like a dream
But, oh, those summer caves