Monday, May 28, 2012

Nothing  interesting happened today so I have nothing interesting to write about tonight.  It didn't rain and I did some laundry.  That's as exciting as it got.  So, in lieu of telling you precisely how hot I did get and how many pairs of socks I washed, here are a couple of bits of scribbles I found in my notebooks:


Clara Schumann had a tragic life.  When things got really rough she went round to her friend Beethoven's for a bit of tea and symphony.

So I thought, 'why don't I put my money where my mouth is?'.  Why?  Because money tastes awful, that's why. If you don't believe me, take a well-worn and well-crumpled fiver out of your pocket, hold it up to your nose, and have a good sniff.  One of the most revolting smells you'll ever come across.  Imagine what it tastes like.


I'm going to bed now, 'night. 

(Actually this is a fib.  I'm going to be sitting here for a bit trying to write a story while trying  not to drink something called 'Hung Fook Tong Canton Love-pes Vine Drink'.  We're out of faux beer and this bottle was the only cool thing in the fridge.  It's been there since the last time we were in a Chinese supermarket buying things at random.  Hung Fook Tong Canton Love-pes Vine Drink's contents include 'Liquorice Root' and 'Grosvenor Mormodica Fruit' - and it tastes like it.  It's probably the most revolting thing I have tasted since Holly bought a packet of ready to eat, snack-sized, dried cuttlefish.  I may have to suck my loose change to get the taste out of my mouth.)

Solar Powered BBQ

It's been hot and sweaty and very very sunny around here for the past week or so.   We're not used to this sort of weather in Scotland.  BUT!  It did give me a chance to try out  something I have wondered about for a while now.  

The combination of clear cloudless sky, the satellite dish we took off the side of the building a couple of weeks ago and few other bits and bobs: some tinfoil, a squirt of spray mount, the legs off the concrete mixer, a piece of pipe, two pieces of wood, one woodscrew, two drawing pins and the aluminium tray from a meat pie I had for my lunch last week (washed) - and I was ready:

To cook sausages! 



Getting the sausages in just the right place was a little bit  tricky to start with but it didn't take long for us to get the hang of it.  the only real problem we had was that the focus of the dish was so small that we were only cooking one part of the sausage at a time we had to keep panning the dish from time to time to make sure the ends were done.

I had fun anyway.

More pictures on Merriol's Facebook.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Unwarranted and Unjustified Rant Against Twats on Bikes.

It's that time of year again - and before you run away; no, I'm not about to list every film I have watched, every book I have read, and every tinned food item I have purchased in the last six months. (You have to wait till next week for that particular treat.) 

The particular 'this time of year' I'm referring to is the annual start of the Twats Cycling from Land's End to John O'Groats season.   Some people do it for 'fun' ("It's a challenge innit?") but mostly, it seems, people do it for 'charity'.  Pedalling loons doing it to raise money for 'good causes': The Cycle Injury Support Association, The Bishop's Stortford Weasel and Stoats Lumbago Clinic, shit like that.  People get 'sponsored' to spend two weeks cycling from one end of the country to another. (Actually I suspect most people who do the 'sponsoring' are just paying people to 'go away'.  "All right! All right! Here's a fiver, just fuck off and play in the traffic for a fortnight!")

Today I (and about a mile's worth of other traffic) got stuck behind a bunch of these idiots.  For about seven miles on some of the twistiest, narrowest, least driver-friendly roads in the British Isles, a whole column of traffic was slowed to a crawl by about a dozen of these well-intentioned, over-energetic fuckwits on push bikes.  The frustration in the air was palpable. The traffic (people who had to get to work, people with appointments to keep, people with kids to deliver to clubs - you know; real people, with real lives. We're not tourists, we LIVE here!) managed to get past the lycra-clad clowns - mostly by crossing double white lines, overtaking on blind bends, and committing a variety of other traffic violations punishable by up to six months in prison and/or instant, painful death (depending on the traffic coming in the opposite direction).

During the agonizing long wait for my chance to dice with death and get points put on my licence I formulated a plan which I fully intend to put to the next politician I meet (odds are it will be Charles Kennedy who I occasionally see in the Fort).  The proposal runs something like this.  The newly independent Scotland - coming soon to a country near me - will raise, by taxation, a walloping great sum (several million pounds) which will, at the end of every year, be paid out to all sorts of charities, from the Upper Nidsdale Cheese Museum, to the National Society for the Prevention of Muscle Strain in Hamsters - on the condition that NO ONE cycles from Land's End to John O'Groats.  NO ONE! If only ONE person crosses the border wanting to cycle  to the top 'for charity' - the money gets spent (in Scotland) on beer, fags, and cakes.

For those people who want to do it for 'the challenge', a roundabout in Gretna will be carefully measured. And once the calculation has been done (ie distance from Gretna to John O'Groats divided by circumference of roundabout) a sign will be erected saying something along the lines of, 'Going Round This Roundabout 3467 Times is the Same distance to John O'Groats'.

This proposal will be environmentally friendly:  Cycling may be 'Green' but not when it's making dozens and dozens of vehicles crawl along at stupidly low speeds. Driving at 15 miles an hour is not fuel efficient.

It's that or we make the fuckers swim.

End Rant

Saturday, May 19, 2012

My Slippers are Keeping my Fingers Warm

Holly and Daisy, (currently aged 10 and 7), have their friends Naomi and Jas over for a sleepover tonight. Holly and Daisy have been looking forward to this all week since they cooked it up behind our backs with Naomi and Jas and then presented the collective parents with a fait accompli. Since presenting us with it, our two have both had fixed ideas about what DVDs they would watch.  Separately but at the same time.  What do prepubescent girls watch on sleepovers?  Do they settle down watch nice, animated Disney films?  Something Shreky or Madagascarish from Dreamworks maybe? or anything else ultra girly and cute fluffy bunnies and knee-deep in pretty pink merchandising??


Daisy elects to introduce her best friend to her current heroine Xena: Warrior Princess...

  Grrrr! Xena smash!

An introduction that was met with wide eyed adoration.  I think Daisy has found her Gabrielle.

While downstairs, Holly is yelling things like "You cut his brain out! You bloody baboon!" as she introduces Naomi to the original 1968 Planet of the Apes.

It's moments like this that I suspect that, as a parent, I'm doing something right.

And, apropos absolutely nothing... Apparently God not only knows when a sparrow falls, he has a housing plan for them too:

Friday, May 18, 2012

CSI: Area 51

The other day I posted this picture that I had found in my 'Stuff I Have Scanned for Some Really Good Reason I Just Can't Remember' folder.

This morning I woke up remembering the (or having thought up a new) reason why I scanned it in the first place.

I remembered The Voyager Plaque, Carl Sagan's 'Hello BEMs' message that was stuck to the side of a couple of spaceships in the early 70s and then lobbed at an unsuspecting, and probably totally unpopulated, universe.





Now, let's look at the label again. But just the bit at the bottom corner.  The bit that looks like a spaceship pointing down.... that looks like a spaceship RETURNING TO EARTH!

Spooky coincidence? or proof that the aliens are amongst us and disguised as dishwashers? Only you can decide.

If they let you...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Yet Another Brief Snippet From the Screenplay of my Life

Daisy? Why are you only wearing one sock?

I am wearing two socks! 
They're just both on the same foot.

And, because I don't post enough pics on this blog,  (boring blog.  It's all words...), here is a semi-randomly selected image from my 'Stuff I Have Scanned for Some Really Good Reason I Just Can't Remember' Folder.

 I think this was from the back of the packet of candles that went onto on Eben's last birthday cake.  I must have found something about it amusing but I've no idea what.  Though I suspect the fourth one means that these candles are really bad actors.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

No Shit, Sherlock!

Time, I think, for the annual weekly No Shit, Sherlock! Award.  A coveted award which I dole out for  brave and conspicuous stating of the obvious - in uncalled for situations (often above and beyond the call of duty).  Idiots of the world - we salute you!

Today's winner of the month is the nameless bozo responsible for writing the 'Problem Solving' section of the manual for my Pace Sky minibox satellite decoder.  It is a booklet I have never needed to look at until today when, after installing a new dish, we discovered the damn thing didn't work.  The 'signal test' showed a nice strong signal but no moving pictures....

The manual's 'Problem Solving' section is set out as a table with three columns: 'Message', 'Possible Reason', and 'What to do now'.... it was no help at all - but I did come across the following: 

On-screen messages: 


'This viewing card is not authorised.  Call your broadcaster for assistance.'

Possible Reason:
Your viewing card is not authorised.

What to do now:
Call the telephone number on your screen to get your viewing card authorised.


'This programme is not available.'

Possible Reason:
This programme is not available in your area.

What to do now:
You will not be able to watch this programme.


I really wish I was making these up, but I'm not.  The winner though is this one.  Remember, folks, this is a manual written for people who can: A. read. B. know how to open a folded booklet, hold it the right way up, and presumably have opposable thumbs.  The winner of this afternoon's No Shit, Sherlock! Award is...


'Insert your Sky Viewing Card.'

Possible Reason:
There is no viewing card in the Sky Viewing Card slot in your Sky minibox.

What to do now:
Insert your viewing card into the Sky Viewing Card slot.


How did we manage?

In the end I just unplugged the fucker and plugged it back in again.  That did the trick.

PS.  An honourable mention goes to the entries on the General problems pages where, after the problems 'You've forgotten your PIN.' and 'You can't find the remote control.' the Possible reason column has been left blank.  

Very tactful.


Friday, May 04, 2012

My latest pointless hatred of an eBay graphic...

What? What? WHAT?

I mean WHAT! the fuck is that supposed to say?  Is it really supposed to say, ' Look, I'm a gormless fucking git.  I have a face even more punchable than Elijah Wood's!?'  (One of the main reasons I have never managed to watch the Lord of the Rings films is my totally  irrational desire to punch or throw things at Frodo's face every time it appears on screen, and as he is the hero of the story, and I guess would therefore be on screen for a long time; watching them could get expensive in replacement televisions alone.)

And why, 'Sell your tablet now! Get ready for the new iPad'?  Wouldn't it make more sense to buy the new iPad and THEN sell your tablet - after you've transferred all your important stuff to it.  And made sure the bugger works?

And what are those things on the left?  The ones with 'sold' stickers on them?  Whatever they are, the one on the far left is in no way a rectangular object occupying the same physical space as the other two.  Its either some strange failed quadrangular make of tablet (The Sinclair XZTabloid? ) or it is falling into a different alien dimension with strangely altered rules of perspective.  (Possibly the same different* alien dimension where trout-faced Frodo-a-like has come from.)

Damn!  I have now run out of this month's ration of question marks.

The good news is that due to technical whatevers beyond my control and, to be honest, comprehension, this month's list of last month's films is shorter than usual.  Same number of films I've just been less verbose:


  1. Reign of Fire (2002) - which turned out to be a lot better than its reputation had lead me to expect. It's not art, it's not meaningful, it certainly doesn't make you want to think, it's Mad Max with dragons and it almost worked. Buggered if I can see where they spent 95 million dollars though.
  2. Alpha and Omega - a kids animated adventure about anthropomorphic wolves (that look like Sonic the Hedgehog), made by undercooking a collection of Disney clichés and hoping for the best.
  3. Red Rose (2005) - Many, many, many years ago I had the singular privilege of editing Red Rose director's first short. (A film he, wisely, does not list on his IMDb credits.) I thought at the time he was a over-confident, untalented, no-hoper (this was shortly before I realised I was an under-confident, talentless, no-hoper and got out of the business). He has gone on to finance produce and direct several feature films. If they are all as bad as as this one all I can say is he should have followed my lead.
  4. The Empire Strikes Back- I promised the kids I'd watch it with them.
  5. Profundo Rosso (aka Deep Red 1975) - At last! A Dario Argento film that lives up to its reputation.
  6. Videodrome (1983) - for the umpteenth time. I keep forgetting how funny it is.
  7. The Vindicator (1986) - even the presence of Foxy Brown herself, Pam Grier, can't save this Canadian evil corporation, creates cyborg killing machine with a soul, Robocopy.
  8. Mother of Invention (2009) Tiresomely over-long mockumentary with a very thin joke is stretched far beyond any hope of being funny. All credit though to the makers for getting a lot for their piddling budget of $60,000 and credit too for not going down the cheap horror schlock route.
  9. Dementia 13 (1963) early Francis Ford Coppola.
  10. Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969) - what a funny funny film. Loved it. I also loved it for the near total lack of music. I think I'm right in saying there were only two bits of non-diegetic music in the whole show and those were at the start and end. I love silence in films. It's rare these days.
  11. Rainbow (1995) - insipid, unmagical kids' tale directed by Bob Hoskins and notable only for being the first 35mm released theatrical feature to be shot on digital. And it shows.
  12. Lemming (2005) - A young couple find a lemming jammed in their waste pipe and then their boss' wife shoots herself in their spare bedroom. After that things start to get a bit strange. Initially interesting but soon turns very French (ie over-long and not as clever or unsettling as it thinks it is).
  13. Carnival of Souls (1962) - Creepy little film. Love it.
  14. Le beau mariage (1982) - I don't get Eric Rohmer or understand why anyone watches him. He made his made his first film in 1950 and by the time he made this one, 30 years later, you would have thought that would have learned something about film making. If he did it wasn't on show here. Not an interestingly framed shot in the whole show. 97 minutes of self-obsessed, endless, pointless repetitive wittering delivered in long static takes by characters slap in the centre of the frame. Occasionally the relentless whining is broken by dull transition sequences where someone walks or drives from somewhere to somewhere else for no real reason - and it starts all over again - in French. Le yadda yadda yadda. Pause. Le yadda yadda yadda. It's not even minimalism; it's just empty. Basically the whole plot is this: a silly and very annoying young woman decides she wants to marry. She is introduced to a man at a wedding reception. She decides he's the one. He tells her he's not interested. The end. Apparently it was a comedy. All I can say the 'comedy' must have lost a lot in translation - or the French are even weirder than I thought. It looked like the first run through of a dull play that the film crew just happened to stumble on.
    Another VHS yanked out of the machine as soon as the end titles started and on its way to the charity shop un-rewound. Not wasting any more electricity on that! thank you very much.

    The only real acting was done by André Dussollier who also appeared in Lemming which I watched a few days ago. He is rapidly turning into my favourite French Actor I Had Never Heard of Before Last Week. He's good, does very good listening which, given that his character hardly gets a word in edgeways for most of the time, is probably why he got the part.
  15. Starship Troopers (1997) - Space Ken and Space Barbie fight Evil Space Bugs for two hours.

*I know what I mean.

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