Sunday, April 29, 2007

Google is Like eBay - But it Starts With a 'G'!

Holly was five on Friday - her birthday has been going on for 3 days now. This afternoon we had friends over for a bit of a party; lots of silly games like 'Pinning The Tail On The Mermaid', 'Musical Angels', and 'Taking All Your Clothes Off And Sitting In Mud'. The sitting in mud game took less time to set up and explain than anything else - and lasted longer.

Life lesson of the week, learned today while tidying up after the partyish.

You cannot sweep custard
I tried, it can't be done.

Jelly, I discovered, you can sweep, just, if you are careful.

Mystery of the week is the birthday card that arrived on Saturday. Thank you Abi, Sam, Tom and Ben for the lovely card. We are totally baffled as to who Abi, Sam, Tom and Ben are and especially why they think it's Daisy's birthday. We don't know. We want to but we don't. Who are you? We have been racking our brains all day over this. Whoever Abi, Sam, Tom and Ben are they live in or around Bath or Bristol. This is so annoying. I have this horrible idea that I'm going to be waking up in the early hours of the morning having remembered - unless this another long lost family of Merriol's that we haven't heard about - yet.

Not, I suspect, that I will be waking up in the early hours of tomorrow morning having stupidly been up till 3 am last night doing this cartoon. I realised last night it had been a whole week since I had put the Tale of the Old West toon up and I needed to have something ready for today. The things I do to make Debs' Mondays brighter - though I found out today the ungrateful baggage hasn't even bothered to look at last week's yet...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Sunday: We've spent a lot of today talking Boingy-boingny language.
"Boingy-boingy boigny-boingy boingy boigny boing. Boingy-boigny boingy boingy boigny boingy shimpaty shim-paty shimpaty boingy boing! Shimpatty bing dong ding bang bing bonk king kong!"
I have no idea either but Holly and Daisy and I kept it up for ages - and, weirdly, after a while, it did somehow start to make some sort of sense. I need to get more sleep or to mix with more grown ups.

One of the reasons that Boingy Boingy started to make sense so quickly is the vast number of Children's books I read at the moment. Bed-time stories, stories during the day, stories whenever the kids want and whenever I can spare the time from my busy schedule of potato peeling and toilet cleaning. Some of the books are fine. Some I like and enjoy reading (anything Dr Suessy for example is a joy to read out loud). Other things make me scream. Daisy has a thing for the Miffy books at the moment.

I hate Miffy.

I am coming to loath the bland, two-dimensional, Ikea flatpack bunny with a vengeance usually reserved for Tory backbenchers playing to the Daily Mail readers in their constituency.

This is Miffy on her bicycle:

Miffy goes riding on her bike.

Like all Miffy books there is a picture on one page, faced by four lines of the most intensely painful, sometimes meaningless, bilge I have ever had to read on the other.

Then I'll bike through the forest
it's beautiful and green
because of all the trees there
you have to ride between.
Perhaps it will start raining
that's not so good for you
but biking when it's raining
can be exciting, too.
or (from a different book)
The teacher got up early too
she stood there at the door
and Miffy was so pleased to see
the pendant that she wore.
I have read these books so often that I'm not reading them any more. I'm chanting them. Part of my brain is involved in getting the words that are on the page to my mouth and the kids' ears but it is such a small part of my head now that the rest of gets a chance to actually look at this stuff. "and Miffy was so pleased to see the pendant that she wore." What? Miffy was pleased to see her pendant? Why? It's never mentioned again in the rest of the book. What is this? What is going on here? This is secret cult stuff I'm sure of it.
"So Miffy, you recognised my pendant - now give me the secret handshake and the Justified Mysteries of the Ancients of Mu Mu Land will be yours..."
It's not just the Miffy books. I've been convinced for years that aliens have already made contact and are softening the world up by infiltrating children's TV. The real aliens aren't grey like the UFO nuts have us believe they are just about every colour but grey. Red. Green. Blue. Orange. When the generation brought up on The Tweenies, Barney, The Teletubbies, BooBahs and all the other weirdnesses that fill the preschool schedules at the moment hold the reigns of power the aliens will step forward.

In 2065 a giant silvery flying saucer will land on the White House lawn. Troops will rush into place. Tanks trundle down Pennsylvania Avenue. A line appears in the side of the ominous silveryness. A crack. It widens! It's a door! A ramp starts to slide forward. Troops finger triggers in nervous anticipation. Around the world millions leanforward towards their TV screen. The ramp has touched the grass. There's movement inside the disc and a stange figure emerges. It stands for a moment at the top of the ramp and raises a hand in an unmistakable gesture of friendship. It speaks:
Eh-oh, La-la! Eh-oh, Tinky-Winky!
In my more horrible 4 am bouts of paranoia I'm convinced the world has been contacted by more than one alien race - and they don't like each other. For some reason they have chosen earth as their battleground and during my kids' lifetimes vast ranks of evil Tweenies and Teletubbies will fill the streets and blast away whole city blocks with powerful laser weapons as they attempt to exterminate each other.

Back to sanity...

Hello Miffy!

But, a few pages later.

Oh My God! Miffy's fucking face fell off!

In another book Miffy goes to school design barbed wire

...and see the local pervert exposing himself to the class.

Stuff the homoerotic subliminal messages that were supposed to be hidden in Batman and Robin's relationship:

It's what the hell is being done to our toddler's heads that scares me.

Our only hope lies in the massive brain power lurking inside this kid's skull.

And no I haven't Photoshopped this at all. This kid just has the weirdest biggest head ever put on a book cover. (I think she is painting a map of the only weakpoint in the Tubby DeathStar.)

Oh God I don't have the willpower to go on with this, boingy boingy boingy boing

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Daisy had an epiphany the other day:

After weeks of trying to play some of the little games on the CBeebies site and getting very frustrated just not understanding how and what she was doing - despite Merriol and I trying hard to explain and show her...

See the little arrow on the screen?
It moves when you move the mouse -
No don't click! Now what did you do?
Oh god how did you do that? How
did you close down the browser
from THERE? Ok, let's restart Firefox...

I want Cbeebies...

Yes, but we have to wait till Firefox starts...

I want Cbeebies...

Yes it's just loading...

I want Cbeebies...

OK, there it is... Right. Now Daisy,
hold the mouse and - Don't CLICK!....
OK... Let's restart Firefox!

I want Cbeebies...

That was the usual way it went. But, after playing for a while on the Jackson Pollock emulator site Merriol found here, she suddenly got it. Wham! Two year old baby brain put X and Y together (we'll get to the Z axis later) and suddenly no more random clicking, wondering where the cursor is, or closing browsers with the scrollbar (I have no idea how - but I swear she could do it.) About ten minutes after we realised she was in full control of the mouse we introduced her to clicking dragging and dropping. No sweat. She was moving cartoon characters around the screen like a professional.

Today was spent trying to find shoes for the kids at a price that wouldn't force us to sell one of them and doing shopping in the fleshpots of Oban (Tesco's). Merriol took the kids and I drove the car from where we had parked across town and in a moment of madness did a three point turn and ended up driving several yards down a one way road before I realised my blunder. It wasn't as bad as it could have been in that none of the many policemen in the town's police station - in front of which I committed this traffic violation - were looking out of the windows at the time.

Merriol and Daisy

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Be afraid people, well, be almost afraid. I have been sitting in the dark for most of tonight giggling my stupid head off while battering bits of the keyboard with most of my finger ends (and occasionally my nose). I have, in short, started writing my bits of this year's Panto.

If the pattern of previous years is true to form what will happen between here and the start of Decemberish (the hall is already booked) is this:
  1. I will hammer out a vast stream of conciousness nonsense which will have me in paroxysms of self-congratulatory giggles - I am a terrible one for laughing at my own jokes.
  2. I will show this stream of conciousness weirdness to Merriol who will smile and pat me on the head with a pitying smile. (As it is at the moment, one of my characters is explaining Brechtian Alienation to a cow on page three).
  3. I will show it to Ilona who will scribble things like: 'NO!' and 'What???' and "This is supposed to be a family show! - WE CAN'T SAY THIS!" all over it after crossing out all the obvious knob jokes.
  4. She will then demand that there is some sort of plot.
  5. (I will then sulk for about twenty minutes).
  6. Mike and I will sit around and discuss everything but the panto, smoke stupid amounts of cigarettes, and drink stupid amounts of coffee. We will then be forcibly reminded by our best beloved that we are supposed to be writing not just skiving off the childcare and have a panic attack, do our surreal Woodward and Bernstein on acid impression, and shove in as many slightly less obvious knob jokes as we can - offering up, every few pages, a sacrificial goat of a line for Ilona to delete.
  7. Two days before rehearsals are supposed to start in earnest (about a week before the show - though that week gets very busy. During last show of this kind we did two years ago, we actors were warned on the first night not to lean on the scenery - the paint was still wet. In all we did four performances over three days for that show and each time I went on I found a new piece of scenery that hadn't been there the last time. It was bit disconcerting to say the least.)
  8. Anyway, two days before this intensive mayhem Ilona will notice that Mike and I never actually got round to putting the plot in, and we will have to cobble one together from somewhere. Knowing Mike and I's taste in all things rubbish, what will eventually be inserted will be somesort of bastard offspring of Dallas and I Married The Monster from The Black Lagoon.
  9. Somewhere after that Ilona will make it funny.

So it goes.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Rag Bag

Out in the garden the other day...


I accidentally threw a pair of
white underwear over there.

I looked and sure enough there was a pair of her knickers half-way up a rose bush. I couldn't work out how they had got there till I realised the bush was under her bedroom window.


Holly, how did you manage
throw a pair of knickers out
of the window?


It was open.

I just fucking LOVE the web. Love it love love it (and having a machine that can cope with it). At the moment I'm blogging, while listening to a hilariously weird collection of music on a five year old radio show from the archives at (please go and listen to them, they are wonderful.) In the background an episode of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (Zaat, aka Blood Waters of Dr. Z) is being sucked down the wire from in handy bite size pieces (via the pure dead brilliant Videodownloader plugin for Firefox). I hope to be able to glue them all together at a later date and enjoy it in full. And doing the final fiddling with this new cartoon...

But you are going to have to wait for that, Merriol is kicking me off the machine - RIGHT NOW! Apparently she has something important to do - though what can be more important than listening to cheesy music and downloading 1970's monster movies I can't imagine...

Friday, April 13, 2007

I have finally finished a cartoon I have been fiddling with for ages. Finally Finally Finally. The bugger was driving me mad. I hate to think how long I have wasted putting this one together. I am resolved to spend less time doing them from now on - thus leaving me more time to read The World's Great Books and watch The World's Great Movies - stop laughing!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

In lieu of anything fantastically interesting happening over the last few days (apart from long lost lover Mel and her husband turning up on Saturday and having a cuppa and a wee chat while their car tyre deflated in our driveway, and M's sister Gaynor, husband and two boys arriving later the same day to stay for a week, and me starting work in the evenings helping do up Mags and Simon's renter-outer cottage before they go mad with the workload and me suffering my usual Concrete Paranoia (I'm never convinced it will set) and Daisy just noticing she is two and has become a hellion at bed times - they are SO not fun at all at the moment. Screaming, shouting, crying, hitting, etc. etc. What happened to my darling wee daughter?).

In lieu of anything else fantastically interesting happening over the last few days here's a quick rundown on what I've been reading listening too watching etc. this weekish. (Exciting stuff eh?)

I spent some time the other night watching the the Free-To-Air Playboy channel (that's 912 on Sky to save you looking it up) which is full of infeasibly smooth, shiny women taking their clothes off in slow motion, having showers without getting their hair wet, and occasionally licking each other. I'm sure these aren't real women. They are far too smooth and symmetrical and the whole thing looked like a car commercial. It was like watching Ferraris washing themselves. Dove cosmetics adverts are sexier, honest!

Today I have been mostly listening to Takeshi Terauchi And The Bunnys (sic) - Twangy fuzzy-guitar Japanese surf music which I downloaded from somewhere in here onto my phone which I then plugged into the stereo in the kitchen. "Here" is New York radio station WFMU's blog which, over the last few weeks, has been the source of much of the weird and wonderfulness that has been filling my ears. I love music that is both at the same time familiar and new, MFMU is providing me with loads to choose from - last night for instance I discovered a Dub Reggae version of Dave Brubeck's Take Five, a native American chanted version of the Flintstones' theme song - and, well, so on, and so on. It's familiar music strained through some heavy duty wrongness filters. Takeshi Terauchi is just sublime - imagine Dick Dale playing the theme tune for The Water Margin, or Monkey. Or even better imagine the soundtrack for a 1960s Japanese cop show: Hokkaidō-Five-O - "Book 'em, Mariko!".*

I'm currently reading The Complete Stories of Franz Kafka 1904 1924 - but only when I am not reading trashy SF novels - OK, I'm not reading the Kafka at all. It's just sat by the side of the bed waiting for me to admit that I am not going to finish it. Every now and then i have this need to prove that I am not a total mushbrain and read something what has got a bit of litrichure an that. (A bit like my "I must watch fewer uttershite SF movies" resolution.) Kafka is not turning out to be a good read. Great opening sentences. Boy could he write a mean opening sentence. Like this one from The Metamorphisis:

One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in bed he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug.

Great opening! Unfortunately it's all downhill from there. Umptyump pages later Gregor gets bored with being a verminous bug and dies. Well fuck me sideways. Apparently the umptyump pages were full of "stunning psychological, sociological and existential angst" - all of which passed me right by. I just kept thinking "Will someone in this book please DO something recognisably interesting!" It's teenage wank. Kafka, like James Dean, Kurt Cobain and other iconic rebels without a clue, made the brilliant career move of dying youngish - or at least having spectacularly underachieved in their lifetimes.

Back to the Bug Eyed Monsters slavering over the perfectly rounded, Ferrari like breasts of an elderly scientists' beautiful daughter - but who's this racing to her rescue in his atomic powered underpants? It's ace newspaper reporter and interplanetary Polo Champion - Brick Chinstrong! Hurray! Something happened. It may be shit - but something happened!

I like things to happen - especially if they are fantastically interesting.

* I know Mariko is a girl's name but I love it. When I get reincarnated as a Geisha I want to be called Mariko. (You never know). If we have another child and it's a girl guess what she will be called if I had my way - or Siobhan, I like Siobhan too. Lousy name for a Geisha though. Or maybe both...

Friday, April 06, 2007

I find it rather alarming that my blog turns up on Google if you search for 'nude bingly'. Even more alarmingly it turns up on page two. This means there are twelve higher ranking (ie more nudely bingliful) pages than mine. What is actually terrifying is that someone today visited the blog after searching for 'nude bingly'. Presumably there wasn't the right kind of bingly or nudity on the other twelve - or maybe they are still looking.

Other recent searches that have landed people up here include:
Southern nudists
ripped sarking felt
and this week's favourite
Life cycle big nose monkey I'm number one on Google!


Wednesday, April 04, 2007


A while back I found a letter tucked into an old book. It was dated 1944. I love finding old papers used as bookmarks. I love having those strange little insights into other people's lives.

Unfortunately this one was written in some sort of Scandewegian.

Flutty over at offered to take a look. He lives in Switzerland and knows all sorts of clever people who speak lots of different languages (possibly all at the same time). He passed it onto a Danish friend called Lone, This is what she made of it:

Valdemar castle, Troense, Tåsinge [an island south of Funen]
27 July 1944
Dear Søren,

How are you? Many thanks for the letter you sent me, I was very pleased about that. I hope you are at "Sättra Hage" [in Sweden?] these days you must have a nice time. These days I am at "Valdemar castle" and have it really nice here. I am paddling a kayak and sailing a dinghy. The other day I stayed too long in the water and caught ear and stomach ache. It was kind that your father and mother wanted to have me over there some time [in the future]. We ride every day and it is very sporty. I fell off a few times when we had to do jumps. The horse I ride is called Tarzan and is a real fellow. Once when my father should [?...?] he fell off and got a concussion and now lies at the hospital in Svendborg [a town on Funen]. We were also at Brahkolleborg [?] and there drove four-in-hand and won a prize – wasn't that good?

Now I will not write any more but will you give my regards to your father and mother and Dida [not a typical Danish name – maybe Swedish?].

With love, your devoted Niels.

Now my father and mother have decided to send me to Stenhus [literally 'Stonehouse'] but will you not want to come during the Autumn holidays to H??? [Hvidovre – a town on Sealand?]

Valdemar Castle, Tåsinge, Funen

Tåsinge, south of Funen

(A few words in Lone's translation were changed by Flutty to a more correct English phrasing or meaning, and I tweaked a couple of bits of punctuation to make it read a little more betterly*. Lone was so kind as to attach a photo of the castle and a map.)

It is weird to think of this young boy staying in a castle having an idyllic summer holiday riding horses and canoeing while World War Two was raging on all fronts. On the day this letter was written: Anne Frank was still in hiding and keeping her diary in Holland, not that she was to write many more entries because she and her family were denounced and arrested by the Gestapo on August 4th, some eight days later. In the Pacific Ocean, The Battle of Guam, in which 20,000 troops were to ultimately die, was raging. In the Ukrane the Russians had liberated the first of many Nazi concentration camps, and in Poland, just across the Baltic Sea from Denmark, the start of The Warsaw Uprising was three days away; 250,000 civilians were to die before it was finally crushed in October.

It is such an incongruous letter. Not what I was expecting at all, not that I knew what I was expecting it to be about - but I am glad I got to read it. Thank you Flutty and Lone.

It also made me think that I don't write to people any more. I can't recall the last time I wrote an honest to goodness, pen on paper letter. It's all PMs, emails and texts with me these days. In 60 years time no one is going to find an out-of-context page of this blog tucked into the pages of a book. I should write to people more often. Apart from from anything else it might inspire someone to write back giving me something to use as a bookmark and loose in the pages of books because, other than around Christmas and birthdays, we never get any real letters from people any more. All our postman delivers these days is envelopes with windows - and whatever we have bought on-line recently. eBay invoices, house insurance quotations, and snotty letters from the bank may hold some interest to future generations but nothing like a genuine hand-written letter.

In July 1944 a boy rode a horse called Tarzan.

I should write more letters.

* misplaced joke.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

You De-neated It!

Len and Sue took the kids to Oban for the day and so, after I had basked long in the glorious silence that followed their departure, I've spent my time working on the kitchen, learning how much I had forgotten about woodworking, and being awed by the amazingness of wedges. Wedges are wonderful. The Get Out Jail Free Card of woodworking. The world would collapse without wedges - well anything I've ever built would. I think from now on the first thing I will do when starting a job is make myself a pile of the little buggers.

I have spent ALL NIGHT working on a cartoon. It is now two in the morning and I'm still only two thirds of the way through it. I know I'm only two thirds because what started out as a stupid one panel joke has turned into a stupid three panel joke - actually it really started out as the only salvageable bit of the script I am not writing for the thrilling Rocketman movie. I think I can honestly say that the movie just isn't going to be funny. I concede defeat. Still I learned something - not sure what but I learned something, and I did get one half decent joke out of it. Though the longer I work on it, it gets unfunnier and unfunnier - by the time it gets posted it will be a three act play that will make a Strindberg double bill look like a good fun night out. Don't get too excited.

Missing CD? Contact vendor

Free CD
Please take care
in removing from cover.

Copyright (c) 2004-2007 by me, Liam Baldwin. That's real copyright, not any 'creative commons' internet hippy type thing.

(this copyright notice stolen from

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