King of Excellent (according to Scaryduck)

Wednesday, January 30

On one line movies

This is nice and simple. Take a 'classic' film, and turn it into one line. Let me give you some examples.
  • Titanic: It sinks.
  • Dirty Dancing: They dance, dirtily.
  • The Shining: He goes a bit "needing a check up from the neck up"
  • Poltergeist: Things move around a lot.
  • E.T. He goes home.
  • The Shawshank Redemption: He escapes.
  • The Great Escape: They all nearly escape.
  • Fight Club: I'm saying nothing.
  • Back to the Future: He goes to the past to get back to the future.
  • Jaws: The big fish gets it.
Your turn...

Monday, January 21

On cocaine filled cyclists.

I have to have a rant. As a hardened cycling fan (and past participant) I know how drug addled the sport of cycling can be. In 1967, one of the most prominent and promising cyclists (who'd worn yellow in the tour only 5 years earlier), Tommy Simpson died on Mont Ventoux, after taking a positively obscene amount of painkillers. He was so passionate about his sport, he took so many pills that he had a heart attack. It was about then that people started to note how much of a problem drugs (be it illegal or otherwise) could be.
My personal first witnessing of drugs was the great cyclist Pedro Delgado, who went on to win the 1988 Tour. He was proved to be taking a drug that was (amongst other things) found to hide steroids. It was outlawed after the fact. Horse, bolted, all that.
The whole thing at the moment is Lance Armstrong, in my eyes possibly the greatest cyclist the world has ever seen before or since, and his admission to taking illegal substances. Don't get me wrong, my admiration for cyclists goes a lot higher to Greg Lemond. He was shot in the back by his own brother, and 18 months later won the Tour with 9 seconds in hand. He went on to win it, 3 times. In 2001 LeMond gave a less than preferential interview on how the US press were victimizing Armstrong and his less than clear cycling pedigree.
Let's zoom forward 5 years from Greg's last win. Lance won his first stage on the tour, following a *really* bad day where Fabio Casartelli had a crash on a descent 3 days earlier. He made a big play of how he won it for Fabio, not himself or his team.

Lance won "Le Tour" 7 times.  He's yet to outline what the illegal substances were, how they were taken, why they beat the drug vetting procedure, how they beat the drug vetting procedure, why he did it and when he did it. But, what with that, and the other team mates (See: jealous other cyclists who'd do anything to make themselves better than him, aka competition) testifying against him in a judicial case run by Australian's favourite marsupials, better known as the world's press. He was examined and checked 11 times (note to self: if 2 is double, and 3 is treble, what is 11?) and proved to be clean by the press (not the World's Cycling Federation). He finally said "Do you know what? F**k it. Let them say I did it. Maybe they'll then leave me alone." And did they? No, the snowball was now rolling, and gathering speed. He is currently at the face of a large tear-infested, I-feel-sorry-for-my-son avalanche that is completely unproven. Don't get me wrong. If tomorrow he explains how he beat the half a dozen or so independent drug testing facilities who didn't know his sample from Adam (or any other cyclist), the strict control on each and every day he was in yellow, and not once did someone forget to replace the sample with another sample with his hormone levels based upon his exertion on that day and how the temperature/humidity/inclines would have affected his testosterone level. And this from a man who technically could only produce only half the level of testosterone. If he had appeared in court, one appearance would have been enough, but by law you can't be judged twice. The press says otherwise. Now tell me he's guilty.
And more importantly, tell me how.

Tuesday, January 15

On amalgords

I know texting's annoying when it's shortened. You know, the sort of "Hw R U?" diatribe that makes us ashamed to speak one of the most complex languages in the world (and I say that not in a complimentary way). But in recent years, we've invented something faaaaaaar worse. Amalgamating two fairly harmless words in such a way to make even the most hardened Californian surfer dude wince isn't a good thing. Let me show you what I mean.
  • Car-cation or stay-cation. Both words for types of holidays. One using how you get there, the other using where you go.
  • Glamping. Glamorous camping. Rly???
  • Pissarhea - The moment after too much drink where you have to take a leak every 5 minutes.
  • Shurious - When you have to ask if someone's sure and serious. I know. Shoot me now.
  • Amalgameaning - Making a new word from two other words. Not that we know what that is, right?
  • Chillax - Yes. Blood pressure, anyone?
Now, don't get me wrong. I have and do have some of my own mixtures.
  • Kinell - best from a distance, as in "Far kinell..."
  • Phonesex - The less said about this, the better.
  • Fugly - What I see in the mirror every morning. Don't plaumase (check with TDT for spelling or real worldly-ness) me.
So, what about some new ones?
  • Toriberal - See the current UK government.
  • Polirish - Someone from Shannon.
  • Fordvo - What Volvo became when Ford took them over.
  • Assject - What else, but half project, half assignment.

Thursday, January 10

On walking the bad line.

So, early yesterday morning, I trod (as you do) on the pooch's hair brush. It hurt, but not so much as to make me cry out. I actually heard myself say "coulda been worse. Coulda been a lego block." So, what about if you have a scale of 1 to 10 for severity of things to step on. Maybe you could elaborate on the list below...
  1. A plug. Not the sort you stop water with in the bath, but the one that makes your TV work. That goddamn earth pin hurts!
  2. Lego. Those little blocks of plastic with 90 degree corners can dig so deep they go to the core. And Lego Technics, don't get me started on Lego Technics!
  3. Glass shards. You know when you break a glass in the kitchen. No matter how scrupulous you are with dustpan and brush, hoover and wet cloth, you still find the glass with your bare foot, and no matter how good your eyesight is, you cannot find the offending article for an hour afterwards.
  4. Gripperrod. The stuff used to hold down carpets. The house in Wales had this on each and every step, and meant you strayed off the centre of each stair at your peril.
  5. Hot sand. There you are, on the beach in some heaven sent paradise found, and you want a paddle in the sea. Just make sure you have your flip flips (thongs, for Aussies) handy.
  6. A drawing pin. The favourite of Tom and Jerry cartoons isn't as highly ranked as you'd think. If you've ever been unfortunate to implant that stray tack after removing the Christmas decorations, you'll know what I mean.
  7. Nettles. They're related to mint, did you know that? All I know is they sting like hell and the white lumps caused by the rash get bigger if you scratch them.
  8. The dog's hairbrush. It was almost therapeutic, the way the metal teeth moved to one side and massaged the sole of your foot.
  9. A bank or credit card. I did this last year, and the pain of hearing the card snap in your post wake up, need-to-pee stagger to the loo in the morning, your heart just sinks.
  10. Poo. Be it cat, dog, human or monkey, you know that if you are either barefoot, socked or shoed, that smell that will be hitting your nostrils 10 seconds later will be more offensive than Jim Davidson's latest black joke and will have you yacking like Sid James with whooping cough.

Tuesday, January 8

On Gottles of Geer

Ventriloquism became a bit of a lost art. As chilren we were regularly entertained with the Muppets, and loosely entertained with Nookie the bear or Orville. But by the mid 80s it would appear to be incredibly unpopular, Keith Harris was about the only one still televised and by the 90s the act involving a hand stuck up a bottom was long gone (except in some seedier clubs in Soho). So, a couple of decades later, and one person returned from the Dummy wilderness and was received with open arms. If you ever get the chance to watch Jeff Dunham, do. His most famous incarnation is Achmed, the dead terrorist. He takes everything that is so wrong about fundamentalism and makes it not only funny, but highlights just how stupid their arguments are. In his words "I didn't get 72 virgins, I got one 72 year old virgin." His catch phrase of "Silence! I kill you" is widely available across t'internet and back on the days of buying your ringtones, his sound bite must have been as popular as Crazy Frog.
TDT's favourite is a new creation called Sweet Daddy D. He's supposed to be Jeff's new manager, and is a very 70s Huggy Bear style pimp. The highlight he does again parodies the bad attitude black guy, with the kissing of the teeth, something not only very funny, but technically difficult to mimic with a dummy.
He has other characters, including AJ (Achmed Junior, Achmed's gay and also unsuccessful son) and Peanut, a strange looking "failed muppet" with a disrespectful attitude not that dissimilar to a teenager. But by far and away the best one is Walter. Walter, as far as I can tell, was modelled on my father. He's a grumpy old man who is self obsessed with his own dislikes, and tries to force his beliefs on everybody else. He sits there with a down in the mouth facial expression and arms permanently crossed to show his disdain, bitching and moaning about everything.
Walter on youtube.
Now the thing about this is Jeff Dunham is a brilliant act. But, technically, he's not as good as Roger De Courcey or Keith Harris. You can clearly hear the "Gottle of Geer" type expressions with the speaking, and his throat and mouth both move. But, to be honest, the material more than makes up for it. If you get the chance to watch his stage acts, I'd highly recommend them. Some of his quotes are priceless, and for some reason because it's a dummy making the statements, he gets away with things no other person on earth could get away with without the politically correct police knocking at his doors. What next though for him? Half of me dreads to think what other characters he can come up with, the other half wrings my hands together in eager anticipation.

Monday, January 7

On pampered pets

I'm sure you all remember Shallot, the gayest of cats. Well Shallot is still with us, ageing gracefully, and still the queen of the house. But TDT wanted more cuddles, and has always wanted a playful pooch. So, it was last July found us heading an hour north to meet and greet with a new puppy. We met a couple, the first born, a little lard-arse who was fast asleep, and the runt, who was unsteady and tiny. After weighing up the pros and cons of each, we plumped for the plump one. He did nothing but sleep whilst we were with him, so when it came to names one of the bigger choices was "Chilli" because he might have been chilled all the time. I was tempted with "Syndrome" (and just hope he doesn't jump up on anyone) or "Minton" (who would have to be good all the time), but we were discussing musicians and suddenly it hit us. He's Brown. You can't call a dog "James" but "Jackson" definitely had a ring to it. So, if he was chilled out on the day we collect him, he'd be Chilli, otherwise Jackson. The journey home named him Jackson.
Jackson is the apple of my eye. He follows me everywhere, and sleeps at my feet. He also has taken a leaf out of a few thousand prisoners of war, and repeatedly makes escape attempts. These can be simple affairs, like dashing for the front door every single time it's opened, or complex plans involving half chewing tethers in the back garden and then yanking them to make them snap and disappearing for the bones of 3 hours. The funny thing is, each time he successfully escapes, he mills around outside for a second as if to say "ok, now what?"
One thing is bothering us. He's 8 months old, and still growing. He's a Shih tzu, and so should be a small bouncy pooch, but already he's a lot bigger then other dogs of the same breed, and from what we can tell of his feet, he hasn't finished growing yet. His hair is also a problem. I know the hair is to keep him warm, but as his hair grows, he turns into Rastadog, with huge mop not that different from the dog in the Jamie and the Magic Torch. This means he a) is very heavy when he jumps on you to tell you to wake up but also b) he adds to the weight just by growing his hair. If he doesn't calm down with the growth spurts soon, we'll be needing a winch to lift him.
His biggest problem is chewing things. He chews everything he can lay his paws on, and is particularly bad when we go out leaving him on guard. We return to find he's chewed glasses, cables, small cats, settees and the next door neighbour's favourite kitchen appliance. It's like he doesn't want us to go out. The alternative is to take him with us. He gets all excited about the prospect of a trip to anywhere, but then gets in the car and whines because he doesn't like the movement. He is good at getting in and out of the car however, and simply goes to sleep for journeys anywhere.
The best thing is the fact Shallot tolerates him. Only yesterday saw them both lying in front of the fire, in exactly the same positions, doing the pet equivalent of spooning (a foot apart). Shallot has a look of "Oh Gawd, not you again. Pester me to much, and you shall meet my claws of doom," and knows that he will get bored quickly and move on. Either that, or he'll keel over and conk out.

Chilli dog? Pffft.

Thursday, January 3

On expensive hotels

No, we haven't won the Euromillions. And no, we haven't been staying in expensive hotels. But, we have been watching a new fly on the wall documentary about Claridges (or as TDT called it, "The Claridge"). One single episode had us hooked, when we were informed about it's penthouse suite, with £6995 nightly (!) price tag. An unknown pop star (we're guessing Madonna) was due to stay in the suite for a month (with a bill of over £200k), but required a jacuzzi. So, they refitted the entire bathroom with a new jacuzzi, but also finished it off with granite and marble surrounds. One regular visitor has her pampered pooch with her on trips to London, and stays in the hotel. In fact, she stays so often, said mollycoddled mutt even has it's own bowls and towel (obviously a fan of Ford Prefect). The best thing about the whole programme however was one of the butlers. A delightfully softly spoken gentleman from Limerick, who's buttled for 34 years. When asked if he was jealous, he just said he enjoyed seeing how they lived, and not wanting it himself. He was humbling and a joy to behold. Something the residents weren't.

Wednesday, January 2

On Round Robins

The Merkins (and I presume Canadians) have a tradition of 'Round Robins' every Christmas. They are letters enclosed with Christmas cards, that summarize the last year in the sender's life. They normally contain complete drivel about the son who's started his own legal practice or the daughter's mysterious lump that smells of tuna. Well I happen to have laid my hands on a real round robin, and it had me and TDT in stitches, so I have to share it with you. It is real, but the names have been changed to protect the guilty. (Our comments are the ones in italics.)
Our bittersweet year is ending. In February we lost a good friend to Lou Gehrig's Disease (Google it. We did). His optimism and good humour was an inspiration to us. He carried his infirmity with grace and dignity. Another friend has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and may not live to see summer (I know, depressing, isn't it?). She too has been has been an inspiration to us for her acceptance and as she put it "I've had a good ride." (oooookay... too much information there.)
Some of our grandchildren are now young adults. Alice is a freshman at (insert obscure university here) studying nursing and dance (well that should brighten up the wards). A third generation of nurses in the family (but dancing ones are a first). Sharon, 16, will be headed to (insert major American city here) in 2014 to study theater. The youngest, Mary, is three and a delight. She now calls us on the phone to chat - a one way conversation. (shouldn't you let her talk then?)
Gary and I had two nice trips. Jamaica (no, she went of her own accord. B'dum-tish) in March and a river cruise through southern France in May. Marvellous. (For you maybe, but we're not bitter.) Maybe one of these days we will get back to Ireland. (Then again, maybe you won't)
Two years ago our 18 year old cat dies. We swore we would not get another one but guess what? (go on, surprise me...) Tigger is now part of our family. It's good to be a cat owner again (for who? You or the cat?)
Sandy (the Storm) (I didn't think you meant Olivia Newton John's character in Grease) was devastating to so many people. Winds were 80 miles an hour here plus we had high tides and a full moon. Houses were swept into the ocean most of which were summer cottages but folks in NJ and NY lost everything. (Isn't this a bundle of laughs?) The generosity of the Americans never fails to amaze me. I went to a tea (a tea? As in one leaf?) yesterday afternoon - yes, a real tea with china cups and saucers etc (why Mr. Ambassador, you spoil us) and we bought items for the people in NY and NJ. A friend of ours is going down with a truck Tuesday to deliver goods to a distribution center. People are either homeless or living with friends or family. A huge concert was was held in NYC to raise money. (Ah yes, but it was no Live Aid...)
Our President was re-elected. (oh gawd, time for politics.) With all his faults on leadership he is still the best person for the job. With so much going on in the world and right here at home we should not change captains. (it worked for the Germans.)
Sandy Hook School has us mesmerised. (You know how to cheer us up, don't you?) Everyone has been affected by it. 6 and 7 year olds had their lives violently taken away. It makes no sense and we grieve with the families of this senseless killing. (Just hand me that sharp knife will you)
Enjoy the holiday season (yeah, you really made me all warm and fuzzy inside). May peace and contentment be yours in the New Year.

Tuesday, January 1

Alive and well, and living in 2011...

So, the big man from England/Wales/Ireland (*delete as applicable) is back. A year of clearing mental and writer's block has meant that now I am positively brimming with tales of 2012. The visit to the US for Thanksgiving, the addition of a new family member, the woe of the Irish economy and how it's affected me and TDT. I'm sure most of you facebook readers who are unfortunate to have me as a friend know most of this and a lot of you won't, so in the words of Randy Quaid in Independence Day, "I'm baaaaack!"