Doing battle with daily dragons

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Proportionally Scary

Here’s a quick pop-quiz:


Hint: It ain't Subject A.

As is becoming habit, The Rock Star and I spent a lot of time this weekend in noisy and smoky pubs. Friday, Saturday and Sunday it was the Rock Star making the majority of the noise, but yesterday evening, we ventured into London to take in some aural trauma at the Oh! Bar in Camden where The Little Monkeys were making their London debut along with some local groups with notorious monikers such as Skintight Jaguars, Filthy Love and King Lizard.

Sitting in the middle of a sea of hair, chains and purple leopard-print spandex (that was obviously a way of life rather than a moment of madness) I had some time to think about books and covers and so forth. I don’t know about everyone else, but I’ve noticed a distinct lack of metal-heads in town centres where violence seems to be the norm on Saturday nights or indeed, in any pub over the past year and a half where I felt that my person was in danger of being groped or mistakenly knuckled in a brawl. The conclusion…the world probably could use a few more hairy rockers. Leather pants and eyeliner for everyone!

The Rock Star and I felt vaguely out of place. I think we may be two people who might have to learn to appreciate the fact that we will never be dark, mysterious or in any way frightening, not matter how many tattoos we jointly own, but it was fun to be in the midst of so many people who were. Both of us also suffered from major hair envy; amongst the throng were many barnets that we jointly coveted.

The Little Monkeys and their hairy brethren did indeed perpetrate mighty acts of head-melting rawk upon the dark masses that gathered and lo, it was good.

And not at all scary.

Except maybe for this guy.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Week End Nonsense

I’ve not exactly been chatty kathy this week, but I suppose that’s just the way it goes in the blogsphere. It’s been more of a “Went to dinner. It was fun.” kind of 7 days rather than a “From the moment I woke up, I knew it was going to be an interesting 24 hours. Mostly due to the 6 foot clown standing over me.” sort of caper. Some weeks, you become the happen-er rather than the happen-ee.

Everybody have a good Bank Holiday/Labor Day weekend. If you’re travelling, go safely. If you’re not, don’t spend too much time in front of the TV, it’ll rot your brain.

Meet me back here on Tuesday for more happenings.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Weighty Issues

Put this in the Death of Common Sense file.

So this grossly obese woman goes to her doctors complaining of medical problems related to her obesity. Unsurprisingly, the doctor INFORMS her that her problems are related to the fact that she weighs roughly the same as a Ford Explorer and that maybe, if she’d like these problems to cease and desist, she might just want to lay off the peanut butter and Mars bar sandwiches or she was headed for a premature dirt nap.

Does this woman take his advice, which makes sense, as her general practitioner has just told her to lose weight or DIE?

You wish. Instead, she lodges a formal complaint about him to the New Hampshire Medical Board saying that he “hurt her feelings.” Not only that, but the doctor had to apologise to Flabzilla in writing. FOR TELLING HER THAT HER LIFE WAS IN DANGER.

What do you do when the lunatics begin running the asylum?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Writing The Middle

I’ve been having a data clearout today. I’ve moved computers at least twice since I last did so and have obviously been transporting the silliest rubbish to each new, electronic home. So today, I’m doing the equivalent of throwing out the broken blender, the chintz arm chair and those yellowing stacks of newspapers that you convinced yourself were going to be worth something someday.

Along the way, I’ve encountered some of my old creative writing and have discovered something; it’s deeply embarrassing. Like porn written by your mother based on her own personal experiences. Some passages make you want to turn your face from the monitor in shame at their clichés, poor phraseology or naiveté. I feel obligated to make myself look, however, for we never learn but from our own gut-burning embarrassment.

I have found some pieces, however that don’t fill me with the urge to set light to myself. 4 years ago, I started writing a story about a midlife crisis, a few ghosts, a little bit of romance and a small village in Ireland, which, by the way, I have never visited, so I’m not entirely sure how I believed I was going to tackle that one. My worst problem is a writer is not being able to see a story through to the finish. This morning, on Radio 4, John Irving (author of one of my favourite books of all time, “A Prayer For Owen Meaney” as well as about 16 other books with roughly the same plotline) was talking about how he always wrote backwards, working out the endings first. Endings, however, are NOT my problem. Nor are beginnings. It’s all the crap in the middle that I seem to be incapable of sorting out.

So I’m looking at this story and the background that I’ve constructed for it, which, I might add, it far better thought out than the story itself. I’ve actually got almost 9 sections finished without making any of the inhabitants of the village into the protagonist from the Lucky Charms commercial. But literally, right in the middle of a sentence, the story ends abruptly and I found myself terrifically frustrated because I WANTED TO KNOW HOW IT ENDS. Too bad for me.

The problem with writing a story that includes romance is that it inevitably leads to having to write about sex, which might just lead to my death due to extreme mortification. Even if no one else ever saw my attempts at mildly erotic fiction, it might just be enough to kill me that it existed. I have a certain friend who is extremely adept at this sort of writing (as well as all other sorts) and I have attempted to take a page out of her notebook, but I have discovered that a) she probably has a better imagination than me and b) a much higher tolerance for embarrassment, although there is little to be embarrassed about in her writings, which are both eloquent AND erotic. I even checked out (while The Rock Star was away one evening) an erotic fiction site in hope of finding some examples, but found the place almost entirely devoted to incest fiction, so I beat a hasty retreat.

So I need to work out what happens between my beginning and my happy ending.

A little metaphor, anyone?

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Homward Bound

The M4 stretches out before us like the long slog through the week ahead. The Rock Star is listening to Poison's Native Tongue to maintain enough of a grip on consciousness to keep this vehicle on the road. According to our tom tom, we're still 75 miles from the M25 and all I really want is a cup of tea. It's been a long two days.

The Rock Star has the constitution of a rhinoceros; lurgy and other things that are "just going around" tend to bounce off of his toughened hide like so many pestilential ping pong balls. But when one does get through, he goes down harder than King Kong from the top of the Empire State Building. Friday was one of those occasions. He woke up feeling fine and by early afternoon he was doing his best shivering-puddle-in-the-middle-of-the-bed impression causing him to miss a Mis-spelled Band gig. He instead stayed home, being plied with tea and we watched “House of Flying Daggers” in which there is much gorgeous cinematography and people sitting on horseback being indecisive, but not much else. We also discovered the daddy of all ice-cream flavours; Ben and Jerry’s Oatmeal Cookie. The memory of it still makes me quite emotional.

Saturday morning dawned like the proverbial new day. The Rock Star seemed to be feeling better, which was just as well as we had a rather long drive down to Somerset where The Mis-spelled Band was playing a wedding. The Cheerful Idiot, in a stunning display of loyalty, had pledged the band’s services, at a discount, to an old mate from school but rather forgot to ask where the event was being held. Henceforth, the long drive.

Unfortunately, half way to our destination, aforementioned lurgy awoke with a vengeance, having forgotten to set it’s alarm clock and got to work with a vengeance, rendering the Rock Star very unhappy. Upon our arrival at the picturesque Shapwick House, he collapsed upon a bench under a shady tree and tried to forget that he was alive for a few minutes until the van containing all of the equipment showed up 20 minutes later.

The reception itself was nice. I inevitably attempt to make myself invisible, which is probably unnecessary, but conspicuousness is not in my nature. (which is probably why I failed at the whole performance thing) Where better to blend in than in a room full of people who don’t know eachother? No one, including the bride or groom, even thinks to ask who you are as it’s assumed that you’re the partner of one of the guests. Crashing weddings (although I was actually invited to this one) would be a piece of piss.

These particular nuptials shared very little of the chaos of the ones of the previous weekends. No standing on tables, no vodka loge, and in general, an older crowd full of dotty relatives rather than drinking buddies. The only amusement of the evening came from the fact that the groom had elected to wear an entirely white morning suit and due to his extreme lack of hair, drew some comparisons to Dr. Evil. I also encountered the mandatory mad auntie that told me that I looked like the bride. I could see her point. We looked remarkably similar except for the bride’s dark complexion, heavy build and at least a foot and a half in height difference.

Thankfully, we had booked a room at a nearby Holiday Inn so after the festivities; we were pleased to have a nearby bed to crash into. £90 was rather a lot to fork out, but with the way The Rock Star was feeling by the end of the gig, I think he would have paid twice that just to be able to curl up and sleep in the wedding marquee undisturbed. Plus, we got a shower that could output roughly the entire annual rainfall of the Amazon and that, in itself was worth paying for. We also got a really decent spread at breakfast and discovered Tetley’s amazing new self squeezing tea-bag, The Drawstring, which really made our morning. Any technological developments in the field of expedited tea-delivery are alright with me.

Being in Somerset, it would have been rude not to pop in to see The Rock Star’s nan, who lives in a little cottage in a lovely village called Roadwater. (Very Little Red Riding Hood. Although, if a Big Bad Wolf showed up at The Rock Star’s nan’s house, she’d probably tell him to piss off. She’s a tough old broad) Nan was well, having a fish supper and watching telly, so we had a nice chat, lots of tea, some ginger cake and a generally nan-ish kind of time before we headed out to see if we couldn’t find something pretty to sit in front of for a few hours.

The sea (or The Bristol Channel, anyhow) wasn’t too far away, so we went to look at that, which was very brown and very far away, as it turned out (low tide) and yet, somehow all of the merry makers on the beach were still behaving as if they were at The Med. The British are born to make the best of a windy mudflat. Although the crash of the surf was not to be heard, we did enjoy the nice air and some amusement at the expense of those who were attempting to fly trick kites only to have them spiral out of the sky and hit the ground with a rustly crunch.

The Rock Star particularly enjoyed the old stream railroad with the beautiful old locomotive that chuff-chuffed gently through the countryside; a bit of a boy-thing, but nice nonetheless. A much more civilized mode of transportation than the diesel juggernauts that shake our boat at all hours of the day and night.

After a cup of tea and Cornish ice cream, we decided we could no longer put off the inevitable; we had to brave the roads and get home. Holiday traffic in South is legendary and we could only imagine what horrors awaited us around Bristol, where traffic often comes to a complete stand still. But, touch dashboard, we’re moving along at a good pace and hope to be home in a few hours.

A weary Potamus, over and out.

Friday, August 19, 2005


Hey it's official; I'm a t-shirt.

V. excited to receive my Blogapotamus shirts in the post this morning. Nice quality and everything, so if anyone's thinking about doing the Spreadshirt thing, it comes highly recommended!

The Staggering Cost of Nothing

Alkelda brought this piece to my attention.

First, I want to say that I’m down with internet gaming, but I don’t do it myself. I have a vaguely addictive, creative personality and I know better than to get involved, especially if I get to design my own purple, flying, mechanical unicorn.

Second Life is an on-line virtual gaming community that seems to be part D&D, part Snowcrash and part Monty Python. For example, this was a screenshot taken several hours ago in one of the game’s 12,000 virtual acres. It seems to show one character taking a projectile dump on another, who seems more interested in reading a virtual magazine on the grass than worrying about how she’s going to get the stains out of her blouse. There also seems to be what looks like a mutant horse, partially buried in the sand. I don’t know if I could survive in an environment where things like this regularly occurred. Real life is totally weird enough for me.

The interesting thing about this game is the vast upsurge in in-game businesses; real companies that make real money selling real services to imaginary people. Like that guy a few years ago who paid 5 figures in cold hard cash for a virtual island within the game. He is now making twice that in rent from other virtual consumers. Let’s face it, our kids are never going to think that’s anything out of the ordinary, but to me, paying real money for virtual services makes me think that someone out there is laughing their ass off. I still have to grit my teeth when renewing my domain names.

The business described in the Times article is a virtual detective agency who investigate virtual adultery. Concerned that your other half is spending a lot of time in his or her Second Life? Worried that Princess Astral of the Kingdom of Feyador or Gladthar the Mighty might not be as concerned about their wedding vows as Susan and Harry? That’s where Mac’s Detective Agency comes in.

The part I found the most amusing is that when the “Honey Trap” is sprung, because of the virtual nature of the game, the aggrieved partner’s avatar can be transported directly to the scene of the virtual flangrante delicto. Talk about being virtually embarrassed. Couples within the game who are “married” have been flocking to this service to make sure that their virtual loved ones are not out contracting virtual diseases from virtually every other person in the city.

Does all of this strike anyone else as just a little bit strange or am I falling behind the times? Evelyn Rodriguez, a rather talented “generalist synthesist” blogger, quotes Steve Jobs from a commencement speech at Stanford this year. Jobs says:

For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

This is the crux of the argument for me, personally.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Hard Sell

Last night, due to the sweet psiren song of Orange Wednesdays, The Rock Star and I took in The Island; a film we wouldn’t normally have gone to see in the theatre were we not getting 2 for 1. In hindsight, it’s not a film we would have even RENTED.

My biggest pet peeve was not the botched script. Nor was it exceedingly bland performances from two actors I know to be capable of better. Nor was it the monstrous length. Nor was it even the reliance on huge explosions to make up for the aforementioned botched script. It was instead the hugely blatant use of advertising.

If I’m in the mood to watch a 90 minute long commercial, I’ll tune into the Home Shopping Network. If a filmmaker believes that I don’t know an ad for a Mercedes when I see one, they have another thing coming.

Some films have made the product placements work. I, Robot managed to sneak one in for Converse when Will Smith’s character picks up a “Vintage 2004” pair on-line. It blends into the script and gives it a little historical placement. Minority Report was blanketed in advertising but it all worked as it gave the impression of a society that was completely saturated with targeted marketing.

The Island employed Wayne’s World style piss-take product placement. To illustrate my point, I have put together a little visual aid.

If my blog had the same sort of corporate sponsorship as “The Island”, this is what it would look like.

And those are only the logos that showed up on the screen bigger than life. There might have been subliminal ones that managed to worm their way into my subconscious, but I’ve sent out my little Brain Manipulation Rangers™ who will be hunting them down without mercy.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Behind the Wheel

Procrastination is a terrible thing. I like to think that I don’t engage in it all that often, but I have a shameful secret. Something I’ve been trying to forget about for the last 6 years...taking my driving test.

I first came into possession of a driver’s license when I was 15; an age, some might say, that most teenagers are not capable of being responsible for a hamster, let alone a ton of steel that’ll do around about 120. The day previous to me receiving my learner’s permit, I rolled my parent’s brand new car down the driveway and crashed it into a fence so I was rather expecting to be locked in the basement rather than given an opportunity to get behind the wheel.

My father did most of the teaching, at my request. I love my mother, but she made me distinctly nervous. It’s a family trait: HER mother (the first woman with a driver’s license in the small town she lived in and the basis for just about every assumption that people make about women drivers) taught her how to drive and was responsible for many of her early accidents. (i.e. shouting at my mother not to run into a tree and startling her enough that she ran into a tree) My mom and I share nervousness as a trait, so the two of us in a car being controlled by me was a bad equation. My father is a calmer soul and took on the task instead.

At 16, I took my test. Those of you in the UK will be astonished to learn that I didn’t ONCE venture onto any public road during the examination; the Frederick, Maryland DMV constructed a special closed course on which nervous teenagers could have the fate of their social lives decided by an examiner, who, incidentally, was a Maryland State Trooper complete with uniform and gun. I passed. The gun helped.

When I moved to the UK in 1999 shortly before The Rock Star and I got married, I discovered, to my chagrin that US citizens arriving in the country are welcome to drive under the umbrella of their American licenses for a period of 1 year, but AFTER that, are required to secure a UK license.

Let me lay this out for you: I am allowed to drive for 1 year during which time I could be committing all kind of traffic related felonies, using children and senior citizens as speed bumps, etc, but after a YEAR of practice, during which time, my driving will have significantly IMPROVED, THEN I am no longer deemed capable of operating a car. To burn my biscuits further, I also discovered that CANADIANS are exempt from this bit of vehicular fuckwittery. JUST BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T CHAFE UNDER THE YOKE OF THEIR OPPRESSORS.

But back to our story in progress. The Rock Star has been teaching me to drive for the past 6 years. To be more accurate, The Rock Star has been trying to teach me how to pass the test for 6 years. Driving is not the problem. The difficulty seems to be a ludicrously easy-to-fail examination conducted by bitter sociopaths, but that’s just my experience. I am little comforted by the claims of all of the drivers around me that they’d never pass the test if asked to take it tomorrow. It is I who must face, once again, the cold reality of examination.

My first attempt was doomed to failure from the start. Not only did I forget the mandatory examiner’s mirror, but I also spectacularly failed to locate the hood release and the horn. In my own defence, the horn was in fact located on the end of the turn signal arm, which is not where I would normally look for it, but it made me look like a right prat from the get-go. I was so flustered, I ran into a curb which completely ended my chances of a “pass”.

My second attempt, however, still leaves me with the bitter taste of bile in my mouth. My examiner, a frumpy, unfriendly middle aged woman took it upon herself to fail me for signalling briefly to navigate around a line of parked cars, which I had always been taught to do.

“It no doubt confused motorists behind you,” she said nastily, “they probably thought you were turning right.”

“Um…but there was no road on the right to turn onto,” I replied, “Just a row of terraced cottages.”

“It was dangerous,” she reiterated.

In the burning black pit of my soul, I wished at that moment that she would be devoured alive by fire ants.

This was over a year ago, now. Since then, I’ve actually had to retake the theory test, which now includes a fun-filled “virtual reality” section. Mercifully, I DID pass that, but I have yet to book another test. My trusty Ford “Fiasco” is currently sucking down volts on a deep charge in my in-laws driveway after a spectacular failure to start yesterday evening.

Will our heroine ever get back on the road? Watch this space for the continuing adventures of DSA Girl…

Sunday, August 14, 2005

The Sarky Ghost In the Machine

The purple, All Knowing Ball arrived on our doorstep just as the Rock Star and I were heading out to this weekend’s wedding festivities, so naturally, I delayed us long enough to cut open the packaging that would survive a nuclear holocaust to get at the shiny toy inside. I also accidentally cut the instructions in half, but luckily, this little gadget seems pretty intuitive, being in possession of only 4 buttons that read, “Yes”, “No”, “Sometimes” and “Unknown”.

The first game we played, we decided to go easy on the ball. We chose to try to make it guess “elephant” which it did, leaving both of us rather speechless. Obviously, the questions the ball asks mean more to it that they did to us, because try as we might, we couldn’t see how it could have gotten “elephant” from the questions that it plied us with. Not only did it guess correctly, but every 5 questions or so it would issue sarcastic comments like, “This is too easy!” or “You think you’re being tricky?”

So, for the second game we decided to give the taunting ball a challenge and test its metal with specifics. The Rock Star suggested “Stonehenge”. To be fair to the ball, I can imagine there’s only so much room in its little database and it can’t really be having with proper nouns on top of everything else. It’s answer turned out to be “A mountain” which was kind of along the same lines, but not quite close enough, and we revelled in our cleverness at having outsmarted a small piece of plastic and electrical connections.

For your amusement, here is an example of a game that I played with it just now which the answer being, “A hippopotamus”

Is it…Animal? Vegetable? Mineral

Is it small?

Is it dangerous?
Sometimes (When the Rock Star went to South Africa as a teenager, he learned that hippos and crocodiles had a racket going on where the hippos would capsize a boat and then the crocs would come and clean up the mess.

Does it have short fur?

Is it smooth?

Does it live in groups?

Does it have legs?

Does it help accomplish a task?
No (Unless they are specially trained, hippos are usually complete rubbish at accomplishing tasks. Like doing your taxes and things. Best leave that to crocodiles.)

Does it have four legs?

Taunt: Hmmmm….Are you trying to confuse me?

Does it have a long tail?

Does it have fur?

Is it a mammal?

Does it come in many varieties?

Can it swim?

Is it an herbivore?

Taunt: I can’t believe you’re thinking of that!

Can it run fast?

Does it live in water?

Does it bring joy to people?
Sometimes (It all depends how excited you are about hippos, I guess.)

Is it soft?

Is it involved in movies?
No (Not any more, anyhow. They had terrible problems with drink and drugs and are now drying out at a rehab centre in Arizona.)

Taunt: I’m thinking. You can do better!

You’re thinking of…a hippopotamus?
Yes, you fucking smartypants ball, I am. And I’d lose the attitude unless you want your next challenge to be trying to guess which electronic graveyard you’ll be consigned to when I tire of your divinatory antics.

Wedding Crasher

I have become a wedding crasher. I have seen, before anyone asks, the eponymous cinematic canker of the same name, littered with dick jokes and the tiresome Owen Wilson. I, however, have not invaded a random nuptuals with the intent of seducing the available and apparently brain-dead. I'm here with the The Rock Star, who is here purely to entertain.

I like weddings. Despite being 30 years of age, I can count on one and a half hands the number of them I've been to. Since moving to the UK, I've missed most of my American friend's trips up the aisle and since folks over here don't seem to be the marrying sorts until much later in life, there have been remarkably few opportunities to buy a big hat, sink a few pints and get down on the dance floor. So, those of you I know out there who are living in sin and infamy, pull your thumb out and get hitched so I can shake my groove thang.

I've got a busy few weekends wedding wise. I feel almost as if I'm a student at the university of marital etiquette. I'm a fast learner, though; after just the first lesson I have already identified several key moments and figures required to make a reception a roaring success:

The Best Man Whose Speech Has Given Him The Confidence To Stay On Stage With The Band All Night Despite That He Is, In Fact, Tone Deaf.

The Point Of The Evening At Which One Or All Of The Groomsmen Remove Their Shirts Creating An Atmosphere Less Like A Wedding And More Like A Turkish Bath.

The Moment The Father Of The Bride Ends Up Wearing The Mother Of The Bride's Hat On The Dancefloor.

Any Number Of Guys Who Cannot Find Their Girlfriends Due To The Fact That They Are Currently Being Given One Behind The Rosebushes By Cousin James.

The Embarrassing "Dirty Dance" To Mustang Sally Between Aunt Millie And Uncle Albert.

And on and on, until the celebration begins to take on some of the more notorious excesses of Ancient Rome or a Parisian brothel circa 1903 and everyone not under the influence decides to bid a hasty good night and good luck to the bride and groom, who may or may not remember by tomorrow morning whether or not they actually got married at all.

More from the front line next weekend.

Friday, August 12, 2005

We Come from the Land of Ice and Snow...

Okay, I’ve regarded porn with a high degree of amusement as some of my previous posts can attest. I assume that I’m not alone in the female community in that respect. Most women’s complaint is that pornography lacks imagination; sexual tension is far more of a turn on. Watched objectively, I think most people can agree that the majority of porn films are fairly silly in nature. But I’d never come across one that was mind-bendingly hilarious until now.

Lasse Braun is called “The Godfather of Modern Pornography”. Born in 1936, this guy is pretty much single-handedly (ha ha ha) responsible for the legalization of porn across Europe. Not only that, but his films are often regarded as porn for the connoisseur; lengthy costume dramas/ gang bangs with hugely expensive production costs, etc.

However, his dress-up extravaganza, “The Vikings” is the film that the Monty Python team would have made if they had ever ventured into the hard-core arena. UK History was re-showing Channel 4’s titillation-masquerading-as-education epic, The History of Pornography yesterday evening and included a clip of this blue masterpiece.
This is the cast
, for starters.

If it is within your power to find a few snippets of this film and view them, please do. You will never look at spears or pointy hats the same way. Nor will you ever be able to listen to “The Immigrant Song” again without a whole new set of images popping into your head.

A Fan Letter to The Rock Star

“I can’t believe you called me a liar on the internet!” the Rock Star chastised me last night.

“Ah, but you ARE a liar.” I retorted. "You told me there was an ant in my nose."

“I like to think of myself as more of a fibber, actually.”

So, although he makes me believe just any old rubbish, I shall defend him nonetheless.

- He does the dishes, willingly, every night. I love to create things in the kitchen, but I hate dealing with the slimy bits afterward. He allows me to exercise creative freedom and doesn’t make me clean up the mess I make doing it.

- He waters our garden. Actually, up until a few days ago, I thought I was watering the garden and was wondering why the plants were STILL looking all aenemic. Apparently, we’ve been making a joint effort to drown them.

- He takes on the role of the royal “we”. As in, “We need to take out the garbage”, “We need to get more gas for the boiler”, “We need to pump out the boat” and “We need to clean the car.” For this, I am eternally grateful, cause I hate directly asking people to do things even more than I hate doing them myself.

- He still takes me on dates, even though we’ve been together for 10 years.

- He makes up little songs about me when he’s playing guitar, even if it’s just one in praise of my ass. And trust me, this is much appreciated.

These are just some of the things he does that I’m happy to share with everyone.When I was young and imagined married life, it was nothing like this. This is WAY better.

End of gooeyness.


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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Poker Face

My husband is a tremendous liar. He tells me things and I believe him because 6 years ago I told the vicar that I would. Not that "Will you love, honor and believe every damn thing that comes out of his mouth" was part of the vows or anything, but it was kind of implied with the whole "love and honor" bit.

I discovered this unorthodox talent for the first time early on when we were dating and he swore 6 times til Sunday that he didn’t know what a douche was for and made me sit there, with my ears turning red, trying to explain it to him. Of course, he exploded into fits of laughter when I’d finished received a sound beating for his trouble.* His bald, straight-faced deceptions have gotten the better of me more times since than I care to admit.

Today, while enjoying the sunshine out on the lawn, he jammed a blade of grass up my nose, as he is wont to do. When it emerged from my nostril, he looked at it in dismay and sheepishness.

“I think there was an ant on there,” he admitted.

This statement provoked the expected response; a football player-esque nose clearing attempt in the middle of the lawn, startling the cat and causing the dog to have one of his Mad Max moments.

The Rock Star, of course, was rolling on the grass laughing. “I can’t believe you believed me!” he howled, as I furiously rubbed my hands on the grass trying to ride them of the contents of my nasal passages.

Vengeance shall be mine. Oh yes. It shall be mine.

*Only two weeks earlier, a guy in our study group had HONESTLY asked what a speculum was for, (we told him and he wished that he hadn’t) so when The Rock Star put his own question to me, I assumed it was merely ignorance derived from a childhood without sisters instead of a diabolical scheme to make me squirm.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The Ball of All Knowledge

In yet another example of how technology is trying to drive a wedge between us and our fellow men, I found this little gadget advertised on Amazon this morning.

Everyone in the universe has played 20 Questions while sitting in the back of their parent's car on that unbearable journey to nan's house. Although these games usually ended in a fight or censured by one parent or the other when the object in question turns out to be "a dog's butt", it at least allowed us to interact with our fellow travellers in some kind of meaningful way. But hey, fuck all that, HERE'S A LITTLE PIECE OF PLASTIC TO PLAY WITH YOU INSTEAD! Now you an your family can pass the long hours in the car without the inconvienience of actually having to speak to one another except to request bathroom breaks or complain that so and so is hogging the know-it-all-ball.

Having said that. I'd like one, please. It's on my wish list.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Sunday Soul Salve

There’s something to be said for taking one day out of the week to do something to soothe over those little bruises left on your soul when people steal your parking space, spill a pint in your lap or just generally exercise callous disregard for your status of fellow human being. When I was little, Sundays meant spending an hour sitting on a hard bench listening to sermons. Now that I’m an adult, I find that sitting in a quiet pub garden or going on a walk along the canal have similar, if mot much more pleasant results.

This last Sunday, in recompense for a weekend spent in gigland, the Rock Star treated me to an afternoon far away from his hairy compatriots at the Royal Albert Hall. It was my first trip to the Hall, which was exciting in its own right, but I was truly chuffed to be going to see Bobby McFerrin.

The Rock Star and I opted for Second Tier seating, which was extraordinarily civilised; boxes consisting of 6 seats each. We were lucky enough to get the two directly in front so that our view of both the stage and the magnificent hall were completely unimpeded. Still more civilised was the bucket of champagne we purchased moments after sitting down.

I think I said this before, but anyone out there who’s only experience with McFerrin is the mostly awful “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” which has spawned a legion of annoying bumper stickers, t-shirts and stoner paraphernalia, for heaven’s sake, go to iTunes and find out what he’s REALLY capable of. The talent he’s got is so unbelievably unique; it actually leads you to wonder how he discovered that he could do it. Most of his solo performance Sunday evening consisted of what can only be described as vocal gymnastics; at one point growling deep in his throat while sustaining another, much higher note. You could literally see jaws dropping all the way around the Hall. He had a brilliant rapport with the audience, often exhorting us to provide harmonies to his sonant fireworks.

Starting and stealing the show, however, was The African Children’s Choir, which I would have been expecting had I bothered to read the description of the concert on-line. I’m very easily emotionally broadsided by music and was caught completely unawares by the honest, orange-colored harmonies. (I find music easier to describe in colors; I don’t think I’m alone in that.) The children were hugely enthusiastic, very talented and deserved the thunderous applause they received from both the galleries and the ground floor, which was mostly populated by “serial” Promers.

Serial Promers seem to be like a very well educated and slightly more civilized version of a Rocky Horror Picture Show crowd. (i.e. without the fishnets.) Instead of everyone knowing the words to “Sweet Transvestite”, there’s not a soul in the house who doesn’t know the Bach “Ave Maria”. I thought McFerrin was taking an awful risk when he launched into a stunning vocal rendition of the organ accompaniment of the piece and expected the audience to provide the rest, but there was an extraordinary swell of voices from the ground floor, note perfect and beautiful.

Feeling hugely uplifted by both music and champagne, The Rock Star and I staggered through Hyde Park with the intention of yumming up a bit of dinner at the Hard Rock Café. However, upon our arrival, there seemed to be a private event taking place, so we headed back to our car and drove until we found a not quite suitable, but filling Pizza Hut in Watford before returning home to our cosy, floating abode, soul bruises well and truly salved.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Monday Meme

Here’s a little meme I blagged from Tony Dowler, who, in turn blagged it from Castironskillet. I think a lot of people occasionally wonder where they rank in the internet hierarchy, but for some vicarious fun, Google “(your name) is…” and pick the first 15 results that please you.

-Mel (B) is the only person stopping the Spice Girls reforming, claims Sir Bob Geldof.

-Judge panel gets the word: Mel is the man. is your reference guide to Alice episode Mel is Hogg-Tied.

-Mel is such a handsome guy!

-Mel Is Swell.

-Mel is to blame.

-St. Mel is a great school that allows me so many opportunities tosucceed.

-Why Mel is not a smurf

-Mel's personality is one that cannot be met by many breeds of dogs.

-Mel is a noted expert in data systems and network security

-Mel is back. Riazat Butt.

-Mel is a nick-name, short for Melanie, Melvin or Melville. (or perhaps even Melinda. But maybe that’s just me.)

-Des giggles inanely as Des does, and Mel is embarrassed

-Mel is my hero.

-A romance ensues as Mel is working on her home, her neighborhood, and herself.

Drawing a Blank

Right. Someone needs to help me.

While driving into London yesterday, The Rock Star and I were listening to Classical FM, which was playing Camille Saint-Saëns Carnival of the Animals. The "Aquarium" movement, which, if you follow the link, you can hear a snippet of, is driving me around the bend.

I know that this has been used time and time again in movies, but one in particular had it in the opening credits. I think it's quite a well known film and possibly meant for children. The Rock Star and I were tearing our hair out all the way into the city trying to recall the film, only to keep coming back to the Harry Potter franchise which has a theme tune much LIKE "The Aquarium" but not the tune itself.

For the love of all that is holy, someone please put me out of my misery.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Musings of a Rock Widow

I’ve sought refuge in the family house this evening as The Rock Star is at one of the few gigs that I can’t attend. I’m sitting here in my pyjamas, procrastinating in the going to bed stakes. I know if I don’t find my way there soon, BoyRacer is liable to walk in suffering from excessive alcohol intake and I’d just assume be on the other side of a sturdy door when he does. He’s not a mean drunk or anything; just incredibly loquacious. Plus, he’s going to make toast on the Aga and someone’s got to be up in order to put out the fire.

So here’s the question I’ve been pondering this evening to keep my brain alive while watching Van Helsing on DVD (Yes, we own it, but it was only a fiver, so you can stop sniggering, thank you very much.): Does it go without saying that when you get a number of performance personalities in one space that there will be conflict?

I shan’t go into the specifics behind my thinking. That’s the problem with a supposedly “anonymous” blog. While I’m fairly sure that the techno-savvy to seek out this electronic missive is beyond the wit of many I know, I can’t be entirely sure, so I’ll keep this discussion in the abstract.

On second thought, screw it.

The Mis-spelled Band, since The Rock Star became entangled in their clutches, has spent 70% of it’s time making decent music and the other 30% bitching about one another. This is, I’m lead to believe, not an uncommon state for both professional and amateur groups; indeed, in many of them, the percentages are entirely reversed and the whole thing collapses in upon itself in a whoosh of bad feeling and stale whisky.

I’m not talking about the major, sleeping- with- the- drummer’s- wife kind of Motley Crue type transgressions. I’m talking about sniping, bitching, backbiting and general surliness. You’d be forgiven, at times, for believing them all to be a bunch of teenage girls, albeit with a lot more body hair.

The Rock Star likes to think of himself as the “Barbecue” guy. In Almost Famous (one of my Top 10 Films of All Time and almost as important for anyone in music to see as This is Spinal Tap) as the singer and lead guitarist of the band Stillwater have a blazing row over the group dynamic, their bass player, when asked his opinion replies, “I don’t know man, I just wanna go get some barbecue or something.” The Rock Star is totally that guy. It’s my belief he’s one of those people in performance without a natural “performance personality” and therefore, much more immune to some of the nonsense that goes with it.

This phenomenon doesn’t seem to be limited to music by any means. I spent a summer living in a house with 14 other actors and for the only time in my life, took up smoking just to calm the insane urge to murder most all of them in their beds. Why should it be that the very force that binds creative people together and produces exceptional art also turns them in upon eachother?

Anyone care to speculate?

Friday, August 05, 2005

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things…

If Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee had been a snowboarder, my guess is that the next line of his immortal poem, “High Flight” would have been:

And crashing down, I wonder in my heart
Should I have ripped such mighty wicked air
To risk the bruising of such tender parts
And in fright, to soil my underwear.

The Rock Star and I took to the slope at Milton Keynes last night along with The Fraggle and Boyracer, who is a skier, but we don’t hold it against him. The Fraggle was up visiting from London, and as well as being a good teacher on the slopes, he is also a troublemaker. “Come on,” he said, “You guys are doing great! Give that little jump a try!”

To back up a step or two, I’d like to talk about my boots.

They were originally sold to me by a freakishly pierced and be-dreaded snow harpy at the Ski and Boarding exhibition at Olympia. I’m not sure why I was under the impression that one of the most popular ski resorts in Canada, which I was travelling to, wouldn’t have an adequate selection of ski/boarding apparel, but for some reason I felt that I HAD to walk away from this fun fair of rampant consumerism with a pair of boots. Sadly, my choice was badly made and I and my feet have been regretting my decision every time I’ve strapped myself to my super slippery plank of wood and hurtled myself down a hill.

In my defence:

-I knew nothing when I bought them.

-It SAID “Women’s” on the box.

-I knew nothing when I bought them.

Knowing slightly more now, I purchased a new pair from the resident unkempt teenagers at Snowboard Asylum in Milton Keynes and felt as if I was learning to board all over again, the good way. They improved my balance and my confidence at speed. My confidence, however, was preyed upon by the agitator…

Back to The Fraggle. The Rock Star doesn’t really need much encouragement to do the new and challenging, so The Fraggle’s invitation to death or glory was quickly taken up.

I should mention at this point that the “jump” in question was more like a traffic calming measure than a true “kicker”. However, while Boyracer and the Fraggle managed it with little difficulty, The Rock Star and I managed some fairly spectacular wipe outs, occasionally met with scattered applause from the rest of the dome. I personally managed to get perhaps half a foot of space between my board and the snow, but the landing was more reminiscent of those nature films about penguins, who slide across the ice on their bellies before dropping gracefully into the sea. Sadly, there was no graceful drop at the end of my belly slide, but I did get 9 out of 10 for style and a lot of snow up my shirt.

High Flight is still elusive. But the next time I venture into the air, you better believe I’m going to be wearing a crash helmet.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Translation Difficulties

When I was in college, a girl on my floor got a present from a friend in Japan that we all coveted. It was a pink t-shirt with a cute bunny on the front with the words, “Heaven is Where The Police” written above it in a blue, sparkly font. Apparently the Japanese have just as much of a hard on for English words as we do for their script; it doesn’t necessarily matter what the finished product MEANS as long as it LOOKS cool. There are doubtless many Westerners walking around blissfully unaware that the symbol for “Peace” that they had tattooed on their left ankle is actually more along the lines of Heaven is Where the Police.

This link, which I nabbed from Taunting Happy Funball, is another example of something that gets lost in translation.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Dog Days

It’s the dog’s birthday today. In his honor, I list the top 5 moments of his life.

5. Getting to come and live with us instead of being shipped to South Africa in a crate- We weren’t the only people who wanted him. But luckily, his breeder didn’t like the idea of him living in Jo’burg any more than he would have. Not a good place to be wearing a fur coat year round.

4. Meeting the cat- Moggins made a mistake right off the bat; she ran. But it didn’t take long before she got tired of running and clouted him one, rendering him a huge chicken ever since. He could flatten her just by sitting on her, but instead gives her a respectfully wide berth and treats any actions that resemble friendship to be highly suspect.

3. Being a Satellite Head- I wish The Rock Star and I could have witnessed this first hand, but to keep him from worrying at a scar from a minor procedure, he suffered the indignity of all dogs who have ever had a surgical procedure; he got the satellite head collar that not only robbed him of his dignity (what little dignity a Labrador can muster) and gave the rest of the family a very good laugh.

2. Learning to swim- Since we live on the canal, it was imperative that he learned to swim, but we discovered fairly quickly that he didn’t exactly have an inborn love of water. (Maybe throwing him in the canal at 6 months wasn’t the best way to teach him) However, after taking him to a dog show where over 20 labs were taking part in a spontaneous beach party and letting him loose (We almost didn’t find him again.) he seemed to get much more into the spirit of things. (While the other dogs were retrieving little sticks, Dougal tried to bring back the best part of a tree.)

1. Turning 3- Slightly calmer, although no more refined, he’s the most brilliant quadruped I know.

And to show his gratitude, he’s just sneezed on my jeans. A true class act.

Monday, August 01, 2005


just trying out a mobile blogging solution!

Into the Land of the Dead

I got The Rock Star to myself for most of this weekend for a change. The Cheerful Idiot was kind enough to book only one gig on Friday night, although whether it had more to do with kindness or the rest of the band threatening to throw him into the canal, I don’t know. They’re a pretty tired bunch of guys.

At any rate, we ended up in a small town called Whitney on the other side of Oxford. The whole place was made of Cotswold stone; very picturesque. Not what you’d expect the Village of the Damned to look like, on the whole.

It was the kind of evening that leaves you covered in what feels like an oily sheen. To begin with, I wasn’t feeling fantastic. Viruses tend to do laps around my body starting with the head and making stops in just about every major organ before finishing the Tour de Potamus. My kidneys seemed to be playing host on Friday night and I wanted very badly to be tucked up watched bad telly rather than sitting in a smoky bar.

Then the Cheerful Idiot and the Nudist, (who’s now a permanent member of the Mis-spelled Band) both of whom must have been aware of my miserable state, came over to the table where The Barmaid and I were sitting to have a revolting conversation. This is not an unusual occurrence in The Mis-spelled Band; I have received quite the education over the year and a half or so that The Rock Star has been hooked up with these miscreants. I’m not sure when it evolved into a game of who could cross the line with me, but The Idiot and the Nudist seemed determined to have a go.

The Idiot: Have you ever given a girl a (description of an unbelievably vile act that involves a rather notorious male bodily fluid)?

The Nudist: Yeah! But have you ever (description of IMPOSSIBLY vile act also involving a rather notorious male bodily fluid)?

The Idiot: I did it to the Barmaid last night!


They went away eventually, leaving me with images that I’d gladly scrub my brain with Clorox to rid myself of.

The pub itself was filled with an unusual mix of people. It was a small venue, although obviously set up for music. The punters seemed to fit into 4 categories:

-Lads night out

Usually in groups of 3 or four. The group that found themselves in the pub at Whitney looked like they might have been in the wrong place. They were outnumbered by Rockers 10 to 1 and their collared, checked shirts stood out in the crowd.


Either older couples who actually attended Cream gigs back in the 70’s or youngish, 30-somethings dressed in black who shout “Freebird” at every available opportunity. (May I just take this moment to state for the record that Freebird, does in fact suck. Lynyrd Skynyrd were right on the money with Sweet Home Alabama, but they cursed a generation of musicians when they wrote that tedious piece of crap.) Real Rockers are far hairier and would NEVER shout "Freebird". They would probably be more likely to throw beer bottles.


You never know with these guys. The most common specimen tends to hang out in the corner. Sometimes they try to dance. There are two distinct types of Loner Dance: the inhibited and rhythm-impaired and the drunk-freestyle. Both are equally painful to watch. One of these particular individuals squeezed himself into the booth that The Barmaid and I were occupying and continued to shuffle closer to us until both of us felt the extreme urge to use the restroom and beat a hasty retreat. “I can look after your bags for you if you need to use the toilet!” he called hopefully, at our rapidly disappearing backs.


It’s often difficult to classify lesbians. I lived with a pair of married lesbians when I was in college and they didn’t particularly fit into any stereotype. (Except that one was a midwife. And the other could speak and write in Elvish. And they were vegans and had cats and really liked the Indigo Girls, but other than that, not at all stereotypical. In a strange turn around of fate, both of them ended up marrying men and having babies, so it just goes to show…to show…erm, that people can always surprise you.) AT any rate, there seemed to be more easily identifiable lesbians in this particular rock club than in some of the others that we’ve visited.

It wasn’t until the band began packing down that the true nature of the town began to reveal itself. It was chocked full of completely rubber people, lurching around the streets, out of alleyways, into kebab shops. Astonishingly, none of them seemed very interested in getting into a fight but rather just staggering from place to place, happily munching on half-cooked chicken with grease dribbling down their blank faces. There must be something in the water.

One gentleman in particular proved incredibly elastic in nature and fell flat on his face in the street, striking his head on the Mis-spelled Band’s van on the way down. (“He couldn’t have fallen any harder if he’d jumped out of an airplane with badgers that had swallowed lead weights in his pockets” said The Rock Star.) An ambulance crew duly turned up to treat the egg that developed on his forehead, the likes of which I had only witnessed previously in Wile E. Coyote cartoons.

Just another Friday night in the Land of the Dead. And another Monday morning to sit here blogging about it.