Doing battle with daily dragons

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year!

As the New Year creeps around the globe and the Rock Star tunes up his multitude of guitars in preparation for their gig this evening, I thought that writing a blog about the holidays would be a safe and cathartic exercise.

However, I find that at this moment in time, I am just too lazy. My good intentions are buried under a heap of turkey, pies and chocolate. So I will just say that I shall return in the New Year (for me, only 10 hours away) full of wit and minus the pies.

When midnight finds you, greet it with enthusiasm.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas!

Anyone who has ever tried to do any kind of business around Christmas will know that it is the apex of foolishness to think that anyone is going to answer their phone past the 21st. (Unless you work retail, in which case you’re probably looking around for a power drill to engage in a primitive form of trephanning to let out the evil spirits right about now.) So, in the spirit of all of those who we’ve been trying to contact for the last few days, we’ve given up and are going to the pub.

I do hope that everyone has a suitably cheerful holiday full of good things to eat too much of, good drink to drink to much of and good friends, who you can never have too much of.

Merry Christmas to all who stop here for a spell, wherever you may be.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A Cry For Help

Today, my husband informs me that he would like to kill absolutely everything.

Following on from our general dissatisfaction with world events in general, The Rock Star is coping with work related traumas that, on their own, would not amount to much hassle, but when combined together, form a large ball of new media misery which he is trying desperately to roll off of his lower extremities.

Please send him chocolate in the post before he decides to put his head in the canal.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Mr. And Mrs. Potamus on Ice

The romance of ice skating is ingrained into every girlchild from the time they are old enough to watch the Olympics and deeply covet the grace, beauty and sparkly costumes of those fortunate enough to make balancing on a pair of razor blades look like jogging through the park.

The reality of ice skating is undignified, hard on the backside and avoiding gaggles of teenage girls who couldn't possibly remain upright without 16 of their closest friends to hang on to.

I'm actually not too bad at ice skating. Papapotamus took me occasionally when I was little and while I often caused pile-ups on the rink, I think I do it more naturally now than say, The Rock Star, who, being 6'2", has further to fall.

This is the picture he would want me to post. Out of love and respect, I shall NOT post the one with his arms flailing every which way. It just wouldn't be sporting.

Quote of the Week

The Rock Star insisted on this as Quote of the Week. Christmas is a time of joy and giving; for making peace with one's fellow men. Supposedly.


The Rock Star and I weren't having a particularly good Monday. We'd been discussing, on our way to Tesco, the lack of good news of late. The US House of Representitives has just approved oil drilling in the ANWR. Big business seems to be able to get away with anything. So does big government. No one seems to have any respect for anything anymore. We were both feeling distinctly unfluffy when we walked into the store to find a mass of carolers warbling "O Little Town of Bethlehem", each in their own personal key. They were raising money for some charity or another, but unfortunately chose two teenage girls as collectors who's strategy was to chase after shoppers and yell, "Give us money!"



Me: If you rattle that tin in my face again, you little slag, I swear to god I'll smack you.

The Rock Star: Erm, Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

The Rock Star and I hadn’t really intended to see The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Neither of us were fans of the book as children; in fact, I don’t think the Rock Star has ever picked it up. I was 8 or 9 or so when a girl whom I often played with loaned it to me, saying that it was “a book about Jesus.” I’ve never liked being told what a book was about before I read it and never really got into the series after reading the first one..

We ended up seeing it last night with The Girl, who’s back from drama school for holidays. We like seeing The Girl, because she’s the only person over here that we hang out with regularly that isn’t a complete headcase. She’s a refreshing presence in the EastEnder-character filled world of our acquaintances. At any rate, the three of us ended up sitting though Lewis’s best loved classic, now make flesh on celluloid. (Again.)

It’s been a VERY long time since I read the book. It’s also been a very long time since I was unfortunate enough to be the victim of the BBC mini-series, (Anyone who saw this, no matter how much they loved it, was ready to stab the girl playing Lucy in the head within the first 5 minutes of the first episode.) but the girl I used to play with was right. It is kind of about Jesus.

This isn’t really a problem unless you’re bothered by a pedantical fantasy romp, which I wasn’t. Lewis obviously meant the story and all of those that followed to be one long allegory, which undoubtedly must have chapped the ass of his humanist friend, Professor Tolkein. The film definitely didn’t skimp on the symbolism, although it can be congratulated for being a fairly faithful interpretation of the work. (What chaps my own PERSONAL ass is the fact that the upcoming film interpretation of His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman has been stripped of ALL of its religious symbolism simply because it is anti-church. It’s all about the Christian Dollar.) Although I did find it strange of Lewis to introduce Santa Claus into the middle of the affair; not only that, but Santa brings the children things with which to stab the hell out of other living creatures with. When was the last time you found a 9 foot sword under YOUR tree?

The movie’s main selling point is its rather spectacular effects that integrated VERY seamlessly into the action of the film. Like the latest Harry Potter offering, you didn’t spend time going, “Oh nice effect,” but rather, “COOL! She’s got POLAR BEARS pulling her chariot!” Making a film in which 80% of the characters didn’t exist in real time must have taken some getting used to for the actual, living 20% of those involved in the film, but I have to admit, it was impressive. The acting itself was pretty much what you could expect from 4 child actors of various ages. The oldest, who played Peter, is obviously destined for many roles in his future as hustlers with faces like a Caravaggio painting. The adults also acquitted themselves fairly admirably; Tilda Swinton’s Witch was gloriously evil. James McAvoy didn’t quite get the fussbudget nature of Mr. Tumnus right, but spends the film shirtless, so can be forgiven for most things.

“Why did you tell me that thing about Jesus?” said the Girl, as we walked out, “that’s all I could think about.”

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Poison Pen

I try not to read politically oriented blogs on a regular basis. Mainly because most of them piss me off. I’m a common sense kind of girl, myself, raised on a diet of shades of grey; black and white rants tend to put me right off.

That’s why I felt obliged to write to this particular syndicated individual about his views on the reason Harold Pinter won the Nobel Prize. (Scroll to the bottom of the page for the "article". )

Joe Scarborough is a former congressman, which surprised me, because his writing style definitely said 12- year- old- son- of- local- businessman- who- has- "opinions" to me. That someone who was so inept at expressing themselves was allowed to make decisions for an entire section of a STATE is reason enough to make you lose faith in American Democracy altogether.

His entire argument was based on the following 3 precepts and should have been titled,

Why I Hate Harold Pinter by Joseph Scarborough, Age 12”

1) Because he said mean things about America.
2) Because he’s not an American.
3) Because America Rulz. So there. Plus, Jimmy Carter loves Communists so much he should marry them. Especially North Koreans.


I’m not a big fan of figures in the entertainment industry using their moment in the spotlight to further political agendas, whether they be Republican, Democrat OR Communist. A headline appeared on MSNBC today saying, “Viggo Mortenson blasts President Bush” which I’m sure was of HUGE concern to the administration. Sean Penn goes on a field trip. Bono sez, “Can’t we all just get along?” Not that I in any way want to take away from the good work that some fortunate people have done thanks to their wealth and status. Sometimes I just wish they'd stop running for President.

This is neither here nor there, though. Even if I believed that Harold Pinter was completely and totally wrong (I don't) and had his head jammed up his pretentious backside (I do) there is something to be said for the art of debate. The art of debate does not include name-calling. The art of debate is NOT laden with toxic sarcasm. The way Scarborough chooses to express his malcontent is disturbingly juvenile.

The United States of America is the root of all that is evil in this world, according to Pinter. Never mind the fact that my country has spent the last century liberating the world from Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Soviet Union, Milosevic's Serbia and Hussein's Iraq.

Ah, the old, “We saved your asses back in the war” argument.

The fallback of a true statesman.

The Speed of Technology: 6mph

"WHERE ARE MY HOVERBOOTS AND JET CAR??" cried the Rock Star plaintively.

"Don't get greedy," I said, "you've only just got a running robot."

Someday, when they're growing us in pink, goo filled pods, I expect we'll look back on this day quite differently.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Pie: 4, Blogapotamus: 0

For those of you who kindly asked after my pie, here is your answer.

I must be philosophical. Into every life some rain must fall. And alternately onto every floor a pie must do the same. This accounts for most of the damage. I can just hear my grandmother in the great beyond shaking her head and saying, "Schushlich." (clumsy) You wouldn't think molasses would dry slippery, but it does. I am beginning to think that I have a Dutch spirit hanging around that might need to be threatened with a hex sign of some sort. (Totally unrealated PA Dutch trivia: It is believed that cows gain the power of speech on the night before Christmas Eve and that anyone born on Christmas Day will be able to understand them. I like the idea of talking to cows, although I'm not sure they'd have a whole lot to say.)

As for the rather more gooey nature of the experiment, I think perhaps our oven runs slightly hotter than it should, causeing the top of the pie to crisp too fast and the innards to remain liquid. I have just enough ingredients to make one more attempt at a lower temperature.

To be fair, this was the closest I've come to succeeding over here so far. It was actually very tasty, although not particularly pleasing to the eye.

The fight goes on.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Baking Disasters Explained

Those of you who know this book know that it is the basis for many love handles and heart attacks. You will ALSO know that it is NOT TO BE QUESTIONED UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. Many fist fights between old ladies have started when questions as to the quality of the recipes contained herein have arisen. I, however, to the disgrace of all of my Pennsylvania Dutch ancestors, HAVE A BLOODY QUESTION.

Not that I wish to impune the advice of Mrs. Ernest C Detwiler and her fellow culinary artists. It is, in fact, with the editors of the 1992 spiral edition of The Mennonite Cookbook that I would like to have a word with about ruining my good name in the Shoo Fly Pie Baking department.

Just FYI editors...THERE IS NO FLIPPING EGG. I DON'T KNOW WHO THREW IN THE EGG BETWEEN 1950-SOMETHING AND 1992, BUT THERE IS MOST DEFINITELY NO EGG IN SHOOFLY PIE. AND THERE IS 1/4 CUP OF SHORTENING, NOT TWO TABLESPOONS. WITHOUT THE SHORTENING, I'VE PRETTY MUCH BEEN BAKING A MIXTURE OF FLOUR + MOLASSES WHICH = GLUE. THIS RECIPE ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY DOES NOT WORK. YOU CRETINS.

This would certainly acount for the less than cake-like appearance of my last two attempts in this field of baking.

Think of me this evening as I bake my triumphal pie.

Coming Up Next...More of the Same

I love being able to get anything I want 24 hours a day. It’s slightly easier in the States where archaic retail practices have given way to all night shopping and a dramatic increase of “shufflers”. (If you’d ever ended up in a Super Wal-Mart at 3 am, you’ll know who I’m talking about) However, the rise of the 24 hour news phenomenon, is, I feel, a mixed blessing.

From the public perspective, it’s great. Want to know what’s going on? No problem, there’s ALWAYS someone there to give you the latest update, looking fresh as a daisy and no matter HOW long the story has been going on, they report it with that first-few-minutes sense of urgency so that you don’t have to feel guilty about not knowing that aliens landed on the roof of Yorkminster Cathedral almost 5 hours ago and the first you heard of it was a text from your mate going, “Dude, U R not going 2 BELIEVE this!”

The people who do NOT benefit from this continuous recitation of information are most certainly the people forced to report it.

Case in point: Something woke me up at 6am on Sunday morning. I heard it subconsciously and sat up instantly, banging my head on the bottom of the shelf above the bed. (Canal boats were not made with sudden catastrophic early morning events that might make you sit bolt upright in bed in mind.) I discovered several hours later (since I didn’t find the cause of alarm, I went back to sleep) that something very large about 10 miles away from us exploded fairly violently. Indeed, my in-laws garage door came off of its hinges. (We have a friend who lives right around the corner from the oil refinery in question who is now missing several windows and a couple of bedroom curtains.)

Needless to say, the press were on the scene fairly quickly, fairly widdling on themselves in a fit of journalistic excess. Something huge has blown up! Lookie, lookie, lookie! See the smoke? The flames? Blanket of toxic smoke! Spreading out over 3 counties! You can see it from space! (pant) Might be terrorists! (pant pant) They get everywhere these days! (pant pant pant) We sure hope it is, cause it’s a lot more interesting that the some- guy- lighting- a- cigarette theory!

They kept up this frantic pace for the first 3 hours or so. But suddenly, around the 4 hour mark, when it became apparent that nothing else was going to blow up, the round the clock news machine began to fall apart and realized, that, with the absence of anything more to say, they were going to have to start talking TO MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC. This is always a failing of news in general, but particularly of the 24 hour variety because they are so desperate for new angles they’ll put complete brain donors on the phone or in front of the camera, leaving anchors and viewers alike cringing in their seats.

“My girlfriend’s mum said her neighbour fought she saw a plane crash into it!”

“It was like, the biggest bang evah, innit? It knocked my Razzle magazine collection right offa the wall, yeah?”

“We saw some guys hangin’ around there last week and they looked like those muslims guys, so s’not really a surprise the whole thing gone up.”


IMHO, The Public should really only be consulted about a news event such as a large fire if The Public in question happens to actually BE on fire.

“So how does it feel to be on fire?”

“Well, you know, it’s hot.”

We must ask ourselves...how badly do we REALLY need to know?

Friday, December 09, 2005

Quote of the Week

This week, it goes to The Nudist.

It has recently become public knowledge that The Idiot and his ex, The Barmaid are having an unplanned baby, which, I'm sure will be welcomed warmly, nonetheless. Both The Nudist and The Cheerful Idiot were outside next to the band van in sub zero temperatures changing into suits for the infamous 6th Form Ball. While The Rock Star chatted to them, I averted my eyes.



The Idiot: You're wife's looking at my penis.

Me: I can't even tell you how much I'm not.

The Nudist: Careful love, women have become pregant just by talking about it.

Hangovers for Dummies

I decided something last night that I shall not be talked out of by anyone for any reason. Luckily, the only person who I would be likely to listen to agrees with me, so I can stand tall in my righteous decision making. My aforementioned decision is:

MY FUTURE CHILDREN, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES, WILL EVER REACH THE AGE OF 18 WHILE LIVING ON BRITISH SOIL.

This is not to say that I’m about to pull a Medea. I’m not talking about deleting my kids or anything, but they will, before reaching the age of “adulthood” be removed from the UK. My sole basis for this decision (which I would set it stone had I the skill with a hammer and chisel) is attending a 6th form Christmas Ball yesterday evening as a guest of The Mis-spelled Band.

Although The Rock Star has tried many times to explain the British educational system to me, I have to admit that I am still a little clueless when it comes to the 6th form. From what I understand, it consists of 16-18 year olds who are most likely there in preparation for A-levels which you need to get into university. Regardless of its purpose, the fact still remains that it is populated with people that have the collective common sense of mentally deficient protozoa. I can make no claims of having been much different except to say that things were different in my day and we never would have dreamed of pulling some of the stunts these little maggots dream up. Kids these days, eh?

What I observed yesterday evening: Parents happily dropping their children off at the Ball, saying “Have a good time” and so on with the absolute certainty that their offspring was going to come home and spend the night with their head in the toilet because their 18 year old friend bought them upwards of 7 blue alcoholic beverages otherwise known as “booze 4 kidz!”

It took less than 20 minutes into the event (a good 30 minutes before The Misspelled Band began playing) for the entire crowd to be completely legless. By the end of the evening, there were girls passed out in the toilet and guys losing their guts in empty trashcans. The same parents who happily dropped them off returned to pour them into their cars with looks of weary resignation.

I was not the only one to be aghast left open-mouthed by this display of sobriety impaired youth. The Rock Star remembers his own teenage years as being fairly beer fuelled, “but,” he says, “It wasn’t like this. I get the impression that these kids do this all the time. We spent a lot more time going bowling and hanging out at McDonalds blowing straw wrappers at eachother.”

Extreme public drunkenness (to the point of stumbling around and vomiting) is something that I find barely tolerable in a crowd of adults. But in a crowd of children, it bordered on criminal. I’m not trying to preach against the evils of substance abuse; I would be a fiercesome hypocrite. Not only that, but adults have a perfect right to make whatever kind of hash of their brains and circulatory systems that they choose. BUT...it seems to me that there’s a prevalent attitude that says this kind of behaviour in very young people (i.e. binge drinking) is okay. Perhaps apathy on the part of parents to control what they see as anti-social behaviour due to the fact that “they’ll just do it anyway”? A lack of pride in anything other than reputation for hedonism? A distinct lack of anything else to do?

Can I say that I never touched a drop until my 21st birthday? Of course not. But US laws make it an awful lot harder for underage drinkers to get a hold of alcohol. But it doesn’t stop there; there are literally thousands of things other than drinking that teens are actively encouraged to do that cultivate pride and positive relationships. These sorts of incentives seem to be non-existant in the UK.

At any rate, though they’ll probably think themselves hard done by and curse The Rock Star and me (with words they undoubtedly have heard from us) we’ll be shipping them stateside before they get it into their heads that destroying their livers before they're old enough to rent a car is just fine and dandy.

Especially with things that are blue.

Gonna Find Out Who's Naughty and Nice. More Points For Being Naughty

Oh Great Cthulhu!

I have been an extremely industrious devotee this year.

In December, I recruited The Gigging Simpleton as a new cultist (30 points). In July, I fed Virginia to a Shoggoth (250 points). In September, I burnt my copy of the Necronomicon (-75 points). In November, I bombed a cultist gathering (-100 points). Yesterday, I visited my relatives in Innsmouth (100 points). April, I exposed Alkelda to soul-rending horrors (250 points) (200 points).

In short, I have been very good (405 points) and deserve the honour of having my body used as a host for one of your servitors.


Your humble and obedient servant,
Blogapotamus

Submit your own plea to Cthulhu!

Name some friends or leave them blank and let me look them up myself:

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Deck the Halls

Warning! More seasonal content ahead!

At the risk of looking like a johnny-come-lately I've followed Brad and Alkelda's example and created a printable Christmas ornament (front and back) that can be cut and pasted from this web page.

When I was small, my very favourite ornament was always the ugliest out of the whole lot and I was always encouraged to hang it toward the back of the tree. It’s the kind of ornament you’d imagine hanging on the Christmas tree of Louis the XIV; a sky blue velvet bauble with gold braid down the sides, a pearl tail, gold ribbon and clear, paste jewels on the sides. I don’t know how my parents came to be in possession of this affront to taste, but I know I loved it and looked forward to seeing it lovingly unwrapped, year after year.

Happy tree trimming!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

What the Internet is For

Forgive me if this is one of those things that everyone on the Internet has seen except for me!

Virginia posted this link to me today. She's an on-line gamer although she assures me she's never ventured into the slippery realm of exchanging real money for a virtual broadsword, so that's okay.

The game she frequents is World of Warcraft. Some of the players in this particular on-line game had a little too much time on their hands and rather cunningly pasted together video clips of their characters explaining...erm...the nature of the internet.

(this link loads immediately and isn't office friendly, so be warned!)

He's Making a List...

Continuing on the Christmas theme, the Rock Star and I were talking yesterday about when it was that we stopped believing in Santa.

Neither of us could remember a catastrophic moment of realization in which all childhood illusions are shattered. It’s something that occurred gradually; a tapering off of belief rather than suddenly catching your mom putting the presents under the tree or your dad eating the mince pies and drinking the sherry. (In America, we traditionally leave out milk and cookies. He must spend most of his time over Europe pissed out of his mind.) It doesn’t seem possible that belief can be something that’s possible to lose in increments, but that’s almost exactly how both of us remember it.

I recall being about 6 or so when I asked my mother the question point blank and even though I knew the answer, I remember still feeling a bit disappointed to hear the voice of authority confirm my suspicions that Santa Claus was merely an anthropomorphic personification of the spirit of the season. The Rock Star’s parents handled it differently; although belief in Santa was encouraged, it wasn’t taken particularly seriously. Notes from the jolly fat man were obviously written by his father (Whereas mine were always written by the uncle whose house we always spent Christmas at) and a certain amount of good humoured joshing always accompanied mention of Kris Cringle. At any rate, we both agreed that the knowledge didn’t dent our enthusiasm for the season, although I can’t help feeling like it must have secretly been a relief not to have been under the thumb of having to “be good” in order to get presents. Santa has millions of kids to deal with and my parents only had me. No way I was going to get denied loot.

I have no doubt that we will continue the tradition with our own children. The years of anticipation and joy far outweigh that one tiny moment of despair. Belief primes an open mind. Terry’s Pratchett’s take on modern Christmas, The Hogfather, sees his own anthropomorphic personification, Death, take the reins of the Hogfather’s sleigh (complete with cushion up his robe and stick on beard) when the Auditors (beings who want the universe to run smoothly and to whom life is considered “untidy) find a way to make it so that he never existed. It’s up to Death and his granddaughter, Susan to bring him back, which they succeed in doing. Taken from the end of the novel, one of my favourite bits.

I WILL GIVE YOU A LIFT BACK, said Death, after a while.

“Thank you. Now…tell me….”

WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IF YOU HADN’T SAVED HIM?

“Yes! The sun would have risen, just the same, yes?”

NO.

“Oh, come on. You can’t expect me to believe that. It’s an astronomical fact.”

THE SUN WOULD NOT HAVE RISEN.

She turned on him.

“It’s been a long night, Grandfather! I’m tired and I need a bath! I don’t need silliness!!

THE SUN WOULD NOT HAVE RISEN.

“Really? Then what would have happened, pray?”

A MERE BALL OF FLAMING GAS WOULD HAVE ILLUMINATED THE WORLD.

They walked in silence for a moment.

“Ah,” said Susan dully. “Trickery with words. I would have thought you’d have been more literally minded than that.”

I AM NOTHING IF NOT LITERAL MINDED. TRICKERY WITH WORDS IS WHERE HUMANS LIVE.

“Alright,” said Susan. “I’m not stupid. You’re saying humans need fantasies to make life bearable.”

REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE….YOU NEED TO BELIEVE IN THINGS THAT AREN’T TRUE. HOW ELSE CAN THEY BECOME?

Monday, December 05, 2005

Seasonal Permission

Note to retailers: I must say I admire your restraint since my last admonishment. You waited until a good 3 weeks into October until you actually began running Christmas ads on television and, bless your hearts, you actually waited until 2 weeks into November before giving into the temptation to play that fucking Slade Christmas song on continuous loop throughout the business day, making both full and part time staff beg for a quick and merciful death. But I have now, myownself, put up a Christmas tree, so, you know, go nuts.

You now have my permission to hit me right between the eyes with as much Christmas propaganda as your greedy little hearts desire.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Orange Wednesday: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

I’m not really seeking to add much to the plethora of reviews that have been written about the new Harry Potter film. I’m not a natural review writer; I often have a hard time putting my likes and dislikes into coherent sentences, so what I can say about this film is:

-It’s my favourite so far of the series. The kids are finding their feet, although their performances are still kind of erratic; one moment they’re really getting a nice handle on an emotional situation and the next, going on performance safari.

-The CGI is becoming less obvious and integrating more seamlessly with the film, making it less "here comes the effect" and more "holy crap, that is a big, f-off, spiky dragon".

-People complain about the book being condensed to unrecoginsability. I don’t think it’s a legitimate criticism as there it literally no way humanly possible to condense a piece of fiction as large as Goblet of Fire into 2 hours and 45 minutes. (Already very long for a supposed children’s film.) They hit the main points while cutting out some of the book’s less interesting plotlines (the house elves) and hinted at some deeper detail, giving those that HAVE read the book the nod and not short-changing those who haven’t.

-More of Alan Rickman please, cause he utterly rocks. That goes for all the bad guys, actually. Ralf Fiennes and Jason Issacs also were highly watchable.

-And finally, just a note to slightly creepy filmmakers: 15 year old boys should not be weight-trained to the point where 40 year old women go, “Oooo” when they take off their shirts. We are all aware that in 5 years or so, Daniel Radcliffe will be extremely hot, but please leave him just a few more years before you start putting thoughts like that in our heads. Right now, it’s just wrong.