Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Site Of The Month - Part 3

Dear Readers,

Another month rolls into it's fat middle and suddenly I remember I have promised to something every month for your amusement. Yep, that's right another site for the month.

This time I have elected a site that is big on animation, music and crazy songs. There are also some highly amusing but distinctly low-tech gadgets to play with as well.

The creators (or at least some of them) of this site are clearly not merely English, they are Northern (with a capital N). My dear wife, Smiffy, is also of Northern origin and I assure you that they are pretty much as evolved as Southerners, just a bit different (see Coronation Street for evidence). They also have a bit of an obsession with kittens, (never a bad thing) and many other nonsenses.

Some highlights for me:

We Like Tha moon
Independent Woman (with a Northern Kitten twist)
Bill Oddie

Have some fun in a Rather Good world!

More soon dear readers.


Monday, 6 December 2010

Speed, and Dying Like a Doofus.

Dear Readers,

I was watching Speed the other night, (guilty pleasure) and something occurred to me that I hadn't noticed before. This sort of thing happens when you watch a movie too often and over-analyze. Before you get too carried away with your speculation I am not a big movie geek. I have watched Speed, (for example) maybe ten times in the fifteen or so years since it's been out. I have watched Star Wars no more than twenty times. Debbie Does Dallas (the directors cut) however...

Sorry, I was talking about movies, specifically Speed. For some reason I was drawn to the expression on the face of Keanu's partner when he realised he had blundered into a house rigged with explosives. The camera lingered on the look, but it wasn't the (acted) look of someone who was about to die. It was the acted look of someone who was a bit of a doofus. I was confused as to how this particular moment of the film made the final cut, as the look didn't really gel with mood of the film. It bugged me for a good ten minutes, I missed half of the final subway sequence as a result.

I do have an explanation however, with pictures and words...

So, the actor in question was Jeff Daniels, and for those of you who have a foggy memory of the movie and the era he looked like this:

At this point he has about a minute left before being exploded, a crazed and steely eyed expression was in place. The smirk/smile will shortly evolve into the look of a doofus.

Jeff was also working on another movie that was released in same year, (1994), so it is possible that he was working on both projects at the same time. Perhaps this was too much for him to cope with, as I think an acting expression from the other project found it's way into Speed. At this point it would be helpful to illustrate Jeff in his other major role released in 1994:

That will be Dumb and Dumber; not an action movie! By an amusing coincidence the character played by Jeff in both movies was called Harry. It would be fair to say that the Harry character in Dumb and Dumber was a doofus of the highest order.

What I like to think happened is that Jeff may have got a little confused on the set of Speed when the director asked "What would Harry do?" and got in the wrong character.

Jeff (I believe) was suffering from auditorysplitharry disorder, a disorder so rare I had to make it up.

Hence slap bang in the middle of one of the best action movies of the 90's is one of the best comedy movies of the 90's trying to come out.

Hope this all makes sense to the lovers of these two very fine, albeit, sixteen year old films.

PS: I wanted to write a smart PS that tied into the Speed theme of things needing to go at 50MPH, and I did. However it was pointed out to me by the thought police (wife) that you have to very careful about the use of certain words in airports and also in blogs. As a consequence a certain word beginning with b has had to be replaced with the word bubble. I hope that this does not in anyway reduce the your enjoyment of the next statement.

PPS: There is a bubble on this blog, if you read this blog at a rate of 50 characters a second the blog is armed, if you then read the blog below 50 characters a second the blog will explode. What 'cha gonna do hotshot?

PPPS: For legal reasons I have to point out that all of the above is nonsense just in case I end up being hounded like the Wikileaks man.

End. Lots of love! x

Friday, 19 November 2010

OMFG, it's a Royal Wedding!

Dear Followers and Others Who Have Been Attracted by the word Royal Wedding...

Firstly, this not a desperate attempt to increase traffic to my site by cashing in on Royal Wedding fever, oh no, you wouldn't catch me doing that...

Royal Wedding Kate William Royal Wedding Kate William Royal Wedding Kate William Royal Kate William Wedding Kate William Royal Wedding Kate William Royal Wedding Kate William Royal Wedding Kate William Royal Wedding.

... because that would be desperate. Glad we got that sorted out.

Now, I have been forced to write about this for two reasons, firstly because it is topical, but more importantly because my dear lady wife Smiffy cannot get the damned occasion out of her head. I, on the other hand am just a little less bothered.

I do appreciate that as a resident of the UK there will be some rather dull but fiscally attractive benefits to certain businesses. I also appreciate that the UK tourism industry will get a healthy shot in the arm as a result of the union. An early estimate puts this number to be around 620 million of your English pounds. Really? And how did this figure come to pass? One would assume that the meeting involved an extremely unhappy donkey with a very bloody tail, along with some over-enthusiastic young economists waving slide-rules around in gradually decreasing circles.

Anyway, this is truly wonderful, but largely boring. I have to deal with issues closer to home. Smiffy is over-enthused by the idea, reminiscing on previous royal weddings etc. I think a transcript is required...

Smiffy: William and Kate are getting married!
Me: Oh, that's nice, are they your side or my side because I don't recognise the name.
Smiffy: The Royal Wedding, idiot!
Me: Oh, that wedding... are we invited?
Smiffy: Only if we win a competition that I have not seen but dreamed about.
Me: So, minimal chance of me getting on the dance floor towards the end of the night, requesting (probably aggressively) Born Slippy by Underworld?
Smiffy: It's William and Kate!
Me: Is that good or bad? More importantly, (refer to previous question) is that Yes or No?
Smiffy: IT'S WILLIAM AND KATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Me: WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!! Your exaggerated use of CAPS must mean this is very important. Am I missing something?
Smiffy: Do not fuck with me, husband.
Me: Good point, well made. Please provide me with the facts required to share the love that you have regarding the union of William and Kate
Me: (Phew) Oh it is just that William and that Kate, I was starting to get a little worried.
Smiffy: Right, that's it you have forced me into measures I would not normally deploy.
Me: Such as what?
Smiffy: Really large fonts to make my point. Once more, with feeling, it's William and Kate!!
Me:, Ah, OK, I get the picture. You think this is important; so, sell it to me.
Smiffy: There will be an extra bank holiday because of the wedding.
Me: Really, oh that William and Kate! Glad we've cleared that up.

I now entirely buy into the idea and am enthused, as there is something in it for me.

Any chance we can roll-over the bank holiday to each Wedding anniversary?

Mr Cameron?

Mr Cameron?

Thursday, 18 November 2010

BP Spills Coffee

Dear Reader(s),

This comes a little late, as the 11M+ views will confirm, but if you haven't seen it this is possibly the funniest comment on the recent BP oil spill I have seen. Well worth a watch. Glad it's all sorted out though, for all concerned.

Enjoy! Oh, and BTW this is making look v.lazy, I will produce some actual written words soon.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Spiders, Drugs And Urban Myths

Hi All,

For your enjoyment, a public mis-information film from our friends on YouTube. 

This video may have been inspired by a NASA experiment (of all people) who became interested in the effect of psychoactive substances on arachnids. Would you believe that an artist has created bowls based on the results!!.  This does not necessarily make this story true, but if nothing else demonstrates the power of the urban myth.

Hope you enjoy the video dear watcher.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Site Of The Month - Part 2


As promised, new month, new site. Well actually not a new site at all, it's been around for about six years now, to be more concise.

It is unusual to combine flash animation, bunnies and classic movies in the same sentence, but this is what happens when someone thinks outside of the box. What I like about this site is it delivers exactly what it says on the tin: great movies, bunnies, 30 second capsules. Voiced in a highly amusing way this site has kept me amused for years. When I revisited the site for this article I saw a news item that implied that the author was hanging up his (fingers?) after six years of quality work. I panicked, this blog post was all prepared goddamnit. Good news is, someone has made him see sense and there will be more bunny flicks in the future.

Some of my personal favourites:

Smiffy, my dear wife, would not forgive me if I didn't at least nod at Harry Potter 1 and Harry Potter 2 (the bunny movies) which slightly confusingly covers the first five Harry Potter films but doesn't give anything away about the new ones for those of us who refuse to read the books.

There are oodles more just waiting to be enjoyed. Tell me your personal favourites and I may set up a league table (or something).

Anyhoo, hope it makes you happy.

Have fun dear reader. Goodnight, and don't let the bunnies bite.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Monday, 25 October 2010

Italy, Restaurant Fires and Health and Safety

Dear Reader,

I recently popped out to Italy for a few days for a little R&R. Whilst there I did a bunch of stuff in Rome and then travelled out a little to a wondrous town called Bracciano. A truly delightful village/town which nestles around a castle where some of the great and the good get married, (Tom Cruise and Katy Holmes being the most recent). Not that the locals get T&K up close, they just get irritated by paparazzi invading their town in the vain hope of getting a picture. Maybe the locals should amuse themselves papping the pap or whatever the appropriate phrase is for this.

So the scene is set, onto the story. Myself and dear lady wife were staying in Bracciano with a great friend of hers who took us to a lovely little restaurant (good seafood, nice ambience etc) and all was well. Food was great and wine was drunk and much chatting ensued.

Towards then end of the meal I was relating one of my better stories, (honestly I do have some) to the hostess of the evening. I became a little irritated when I realised she was no longer listening to me but merely nodding and looking over my shoulder. I ploughed on through my story, hoping to revive some attention from my listener, but no, all monosyballic answers and the over the shoulder gazes. So I looked over my shoulder in the direction that my host was staring; ah now I get it... there appears to be a large amount of smoke pouring from the kitchen area, and when I say large I mean a lot. This pleases me, in a selfish way, because at least I know my story wasn't the issue, (unless in desperation our host set fire to the kitchen to create a distraction so that she could escape my story). I don't believe this is the case as I don't think the story warranted that extreme a reaction, but, who knows.

The smoke billows and reaches our area, upon sniffing it is quite clear these are not just smells associated with over-zealous cooking because there is a whiff of plastic in the air, not good.

A waitress emerges from the dark cloud in the kitchen, eyes smudged with tears from the smoke and comes to our table. I have some expectations of what she may say, being a health and safety molly coddled Englishman, something along the lines of "the restaurant is now closed", or "please leave, there is an issue in the kitchen".

The waitress, through smoke reddened eyes came up with a much better riposte; "Would anyone like coffee?". No, actually, could we just have the bill I replied and exited before the place burned down.

What was notable about this worthy experience was the Italian approach to Health & Safety. At no point did a smoke alarm go off, nor did any sprinklers kick off when things were clearly going a little pear shaped. Having paid the bill it was noted that some guests were still eating their dinner as if this was some expected performance from the restaurant that they should just laugh off and continue with their order.

Having escaped this madness we adjourned to transport and passed a fire engine going in the opposite direction. I have yet to verify whether this engine was en route to the restaurant or rescuing a cat stuck in a tree.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Cats, Wheelie Bins and Hanging


A misguided soul walking down a road spies a cat. The cat is of an egregious nature and offers affection to this misguided soul. The misguided soul strokes the cat and this is where the story should end. Except it didn't, because the misguided soul in question took the cat by the scruff of the neck and unceremoniously dumped it in a conveniently placed wheelie bin and then walked off.

There was a time when this would have been an unfortunate end for the cat, and an unfortunate end to the story, but times change. The owner of the cat found the cat in said wheelie bin a day later, hungry, but apart from that unharmed.

What makes this happy ending interesting is the postscript that rocked the world. The owner of the cat had installed movement activated CCTV due to an ongoing issue with the neighbours/area, which was trained on the bin. The owner span back through the archive footage and published the offence on YouTube.
If you have been living under a rock for the last month watch it again here.

This story made the news in the UK and the video went viral across the world. It even spawned response videos on YouTube such as this, highly amusing.

The worldwide outcry to this video have been polarised to say the least, I reproduce some recent comments to the original video;

I hope that cat hunts that old bitch down and claws her death haha


I imagine caps was important to making the point. So why the post, this all happened a while ago, didn't it? I do have a habit of being a little behind the times with posts don't I? Well on this occasion no, because the said misguided soul has been sentenced this very day...

A £250 fine along with some associated court costs coming to about £1100. That must have felt like a let off, really. I thought hanging was going to be introduced for this particular crime, although I suspect it might have been deemed too expensive in the latest round of budgetary cuts, but I digress.

What is pleasing about this whole affair is the power of the camera. A lot of people have been whingeing about the proliferation of CCTV in our country, and how damaging it is. Clearly this is only an issue if you are doing something wrong or something not neccesarily wrong, but a little embarrassing in public places. The technology in question was not government owned but in fact a piece of equipment inexpensively installed by an individual. Just goes to prove that if bad things are happening where you are then get it on tape, publish it and let the world decide. The court of YouTube is now in session.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Getting To America - Part 3

Oops, my general laziness means that chronological order of things has gone a little bit astray. If you are a new reader then you it would probably make sense to pick up the first two parts of this pulse-pounding monologue;


if you can stand it.

So to catch up I was attempting to get a visa to travel to the US for a stag do. This process had been somewhat complicated by two facts:
  1. I have to get a visa in the first place
  2. I have left this to the last minute
I have landed in Belfast to visit the US Embassy for my interview, I have surrendered my mobile phone to a taxi driver because you cannot take any electrical items into this Embassy. I was curious as to how pacemakers would be dealt with by this rule but did not want to push my luck. I imagine the taxi driver who kindly stored my phone until my return would have been less enamoured with the idea of open heart surgery. Or maybe he would, there would some dubious looking stains on the seat of the cab. Never mind, move on.

So I arrived at Embassy, and after being subjected to a security check more rigorous than the average airport was ushered into what can only be described as a doctor's waiting room. There were some cubicles, some windows and some people, who like me, had all broken the law at some point in their lives. I spent a good deal of time speculating as to the nature of their crimes, but thought it a little too rude to ask.

After a paperwork check to ensure all was present and correct I was eventually ushered to a booth for the interview. This was an experience not dissimilar to being ushered into a booth at a DHSS office when applying for some sort of benefit, the only difference being that the figure behind the glass presented a rather different demeanour. In the DHSS case you get a bored low level public service worker who has been abused and spat at at least four times today. In the US Embassy case you get a hulking ex-military looking type who has DEFINITELY not been spat at or abused during his shift. I assumed my most angelic face.

The conversation went as follows:

Hulking Ex-Military (HEM): Show me your paperwork.
Me: Shuffles paperwork under the counter.
HEM: Explain your offences.
Me: Well, (big pause), I distributed an extremely small quantity of not very potent drugs to a very small demographic. (So different from my sales pitch, but that was long in the past).
HEM: You appear to be convicted of quite a lot of offences at the same time?
Me: Well (big pause), I am a little confused by this. How many times can you be convicted of distributing a Class B drug on the same day (nervous laugh). All the counts were concurrent.
HEM: How long did you spend in prison?
Me: (Enjoying myself for a second) Sentenced to year and released after six months on good behaviour (beaming smile).
HEM: The second offence?
Me: Ahem, just a small thing, would have been a caution had it not been for my previous record.
HEM: How small?
Me: Really small.
HEM: Define...
Me: (Pinching motion with fingers)
HEM: OK, in light of the fact that your initial offence is serious, but also took place a long time ago...
Me: (Not interrupting but thinking this will be all over and a Visa will be attained), (beatific smile).
HEM: I am happy to refer this case to Washington, who will after due diligence, probably issue a visa.
Me: (WTF ?!?) OK, and, erm, how long will this process take?
HEM: This will take approximately two weeks.
Me: OK, thank you. ("Due diligence", "probably": WTF again???).

So I leave, pondering the process of access to America, if you have been a little naughty, and hoping the process will run smoothly. Will Mr B. Obama be too busy too sign? Arghh!

Some notes about criminal offences and their acceptability for disclosure:

In the UK if you are applying for a job you will be asked if you have any unspent convictions:

In short, a "spent" conviction is any conviction that attracted less than 2.5 years jail time. These will be spent in 10 years. Good news for me when I am applying for a job.

If you are applying for permission to visit the US and many other countries as well then a different and rather more draconian set of rules apply. Basically all offences are categorised as A, B, or C

A includes crimes such as: Attacking a human with a rocket propelled grenade launcher, messing around with small children, attempting a military coup, assassinating a president etc.
B includes crimes such as: Defrauding an individual, identity theft etc.
C includes speeding crimes, dancing on your next door neighbours daffodils.

Each offence buckets dictates how long your offences will have to last before they are spent. A: never, B: sometime soon, C: well that all depends if the daffodils are prize winning.

Mutiple choice question: guess which category I fell into...

If you guessed A you are correct, my small contribution to the chemical entertainments industry is classified at the same level as murders, rapists and people convicted of an attempted coup d'etat.

I would say funny old world, except it isn't. Never mind, dear reader I will get there in the end, or will I?

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Site Of The Month - Part 1


A new idea of mine is to share a site that makes me laugh or cry. I figure that if I like it and you like me then you might like it it too (usual caveats apply). I will tag the post accordingly depending on it's content... some will be funny, cat related or whatever else comes to mind. I will also create a links section so you can access these sites directly from one comfy area.

OK so here comes the first. I started to recieve some hilarious viral emails regarding a gentleman called David Thorne and his issues with the world, normally in the form of email trails.

Having looked into this it appears that Mr Thorne is well know Australian blogger whom I have much respect for. To get an idea of what the man is about and why this makes me laugh follow this.

I will publish the the site link in a new links section which I have added to the site labelled Stuff I Really Like.

Enjoy, dear reader.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Cambodia – The Killing Fields

I have recently been on holiday in Cambodia and Vietnam. Two countries whose recent history has been a little troubled to say the least. When I say recent history, I don’t mean that I read about it at school, I mean I saw some of this on the news (infer what you will into this regarding my age.)
So in short form this is what occurred:
  • In 1975 a Maoist regime led by Pol Pot took over the country of Cambodia, intending to “convert” the country to a self sufficient state.
  • This involved moving people out of the cities into the countryside, and torturing and murdering anyone (and anyone directly or indirectly related to anyone) who might think this might be a bad idea.
  • Although the exact figures are difficult to ascertain, it would fair to say that somewhere between 1.5 million and 3 million people were killed in the four year period that Pol Pot’s regime was in power.
  • In 1975 Cambodia had a population of 7 million, hopefully this fact will give a sense of scale as to what occurred.
Facts are what they are, but I think in this instance it is very easy to get overwhelmed by numbers if you are looking at this from a distance, as I was when I was a child.

The tourist experience of the Killing Fields is in fact just a field, snappily titled Cheoung Ek.

Make no mistake, this is not just any field. Not far from the centre of Phnom Penh, the field I visited was the final resting place of thousands who had previously been residing in the infamous Toul Sleng security prison (S21).

On arrival all seems peaceful, helped by Cambodia’s wild chickens clucking about the place without a care in the world. There are however, as you review the area, several deep hollows in the ground, mass graves, as the signs solemnly inform you.

Walking around, it is easy to see fragments of bones and teeth etc visible in the reddish dust underfoot. This is a deeply unsettling experience for myself and those around me. Many were moved to tears, myself included.

And then a tree, the Killing Tree, apparently where babies heads where smashed to silence their cries forever. Contrary to any Hollywood instilled drama, it just looks like any other tree that is growing in the area. Everything just looks so ordinary.

Finally the Stupa, which is a Buddhist word for kind resting place. In here the Stupa is an unforgettable monument to what has occurred in one Killing Field - the skulls and bones and other remnants that could be recovered. This is one Killing Field that has had the graves excavated. To date 369 similar sites have been unearthed, contributing the best part of 20,000 mass graves to the cause. I guess the final toll will never be truly told, but the scale of this tragedy is unimaginable.

We had a guide, who was somewhere between 35 and 40, a good Buddhist who had been affected by this personally as a child, but who had, as a child been one of the souls who escaped the Killing Tree but was definitely part of the terror.

The purpose of the museum, and also the Toul Sleng prison camp is not to attract tourists. It’s purpose, primarily is to inform the world of the horrors that occurred in a single man’s name.

This post is dedicated to that idea, in the hope that humanity can learn, not just about the numbers, because if you just listen on the news it could become meaningless, but about some people, real people.

This whole thing continues to concern me because it still happens, apparently Hitler and Pol Pot are not the end of this grisly story. Rwanda and the breakdown of Croatia and on and on and on.

The reason this is here is a reminder to my several readers is that this shit doesn’t appear to stop or go away.

Some pictures...

The Stupa

And inside...

This not meant in any way to freak out potential visitors to Cambodia; the people are beautiful, (and astonishingly well adjusted considering what they have been through) however it is worth doing this just to give a sense of reality to those of us who don't have he good fortune to to see this in person.

This is undoubtedly some small words in a big sea, but we should not forget and hopefully this little piece would make my guide happy.

You may like to read some more informed and less emotionally attached words on this subject; below are some good links.

And finally, comments and corrections are always welcome, my loyal reader.