Monday, 27 May 2013

Musical Monday #10

Today is The Last Day of Tortoise-Sitting.

Oh we’ve had some times.

They’ve eaten.

They’ve walked.

(There were going to be more videos here, but blogger won't upload films I took on The Camera, thanks blogger.)

TIMES, I tell you.

They’ve also played The Exciting Game of 'hide in The Bush at the end of The Garden and go to sleep, so when The Human comes to put us to bed for The Night it has to crawl into The Bush after us, which a) slowly destroys The Hell out of The Bush and b) scratches The Human all over'.

Thanks guys.

So it is goodbye from Harry,

And goodbye from Teefa.


And now for Musical Monday, this is from a film I haven’t seen (although I intend to) but it is a perfect example…

of how NOT to woo a woman.

EDIT: Unfortunately the clip containing the witty scene has been taken down, so all that remains is the song itself which isn't funny when taken out of context (the joke being that he just changes the name in his love song depending on who he is trying to woo).  

Rose Marie from, uh, Rose Marie

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Pet Hate

You know what really bugs me?

When people say this:

Because that means that they KNOW I have a blog and yet they haven’t BOTHERED to look at it even remotely recently.

They THINK they’re being polite and showing an interest when they’re actually doing THE EXACT OPPOSITE.

That is all.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Musical Monday #9

Last week I wrote a list of Feel Good Things I had done.

I completely forgot to mention I saw a squirrel.

Plus this:

As I peered closer at The Tissue, I saw this:

Someone had gone to The Trouble of designing a tissue with a sun coming out from behind clouds motif.

I don’t think I have ever seen a more comforting sign.  It was so unexpected to see some art on The Rag on which I was going to wipe The Nose.  There it was on this fairly cheap tissue that I was trying to peel in half because it was too thick, a message that The Universe is full of delightful surprises.

Or I’m nuts.  When I pointed it out to The Housemate, he certainly looked at me like I was nuts.

This week has been even more amazing.  Because I bought BAGELS.


I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned that I quite like bagels before.

And if you don’t get that joke, then you don’t read The Blog obsessively enough (see here).

Also this week, I went to a bar to watch some live music and discovered that when you don’t like apple juice, limes or mint leaves having them mixed together into a mocktail doesn’t change that fact.

I took some pictures and stuff, but The Phone was pretending to be broken at the time and apparently choosing which of The Commands to obey on a whim.

This is all I’ve managed to salvage of The Night:

It sounded MUCH better live.  It was really good.

But one of The Songs performed (not the above) gave me an idea for what to use for today’s Musical Monday.

So watch, listen, enjoy and cheer The Hell up.

Think from The Blues Brothers

And remember, if you enjoyed this post: React, Comment, Share!

Monday, 13 May 2013

Musical Monday #8

It’s that time again.

The Point of Musical Monday is to cheer me (and you) up because I’ve been really down lately.  However, I’m not actually down today.

Here are just some of The Feel Good Things I’ve been doing this week:

Exercising.  I’ve become bored of being Mr-Burns-weak and have decided to become FIT.  I know I tried that once before, and it only lasted three days, but I’m going to stick at it this time.

Eating.  I discovered a whole vegan chilled section at Tesco that I didn’t know existed.

Looking after a pet.  The Tortoises are here and caring for another living being does make life a lot more fulfilling.

Watching TV.  I’m watching the final season of Frasier which is probably the most deliciously over the top and therefore energetically hilarious.

Messing about on Twitter.  A while back I discovered a whole bunch of fellow Philip Quast fans on Twitter and this week I asked them to cheer me up.  As well as sending me some wonderful Quast-stuff, we started telling terrible jokes and one of them led into a stream of awful punning.

Valerie @phantom0794
Q: How much do pirates pay for corn? A: A buccaneer...

Mia @PhilipQuastFan  
That's so corny! Arghhhh... ;)

 Mia @PhilipQuastFan  
Or maybe it's too a-maize-ing! Gah, someone stop me, please! ;)

 The Hill @RLJHill  
I can barley take any more of this.

 Valerie @phantom0794
Getting lots of mileage out of this kernel, aren't ya?? ;p

 Mia @PhilipQuastFan  
There's a grain of truth in that. :p

 Mia @PhilipQuastFan  
Same here. I canola take so much. ;p

 The Hill @RLJHill  
You are cereal killers of jokes.

 Mia @PhilipQuastFan  
We're a bit flaky, yes.

 Valerie @phantom0794
But I still want you all to have a rice day

 The Hill @RLJHill  
With a bran like yours, I'd expect you to come up with better jokes.

 The Hill @RLJHill  
Perhaps wheat better stop.

 Valerie @phantom0794
Giggling must stop.. Need to go oatside and get some fresh air...

 Mia @PhilipQuastFan  
I corncur. ;p

 The Hill @RLJHill  
This has brought such a rye smile to my face.

 Valerie @phantom0794
Good clean bulgur comments

 The Hill @RLJHill  
hay, this has been fun.

 The Hill @RLJHill  
Your punning is ex-straw-dinary.

 Mia @PhilipQuastFan  
It'll take me a while to millet over.

 Mia @PhilipQuastFan  
Even though I'm squirming with every fiber of my being.

 The Hill @RLJHill  
I can seed why it'd take a while.

 Valerie @phantom0794
Who planted this idea to begin with...

 Mia @PhilipQuastFan  
Oh, who planted the SEED, you mean! ;)

 The Hill @RLJHill  
Now, now, no blaming, be a good spore.

 Mia @PhilipQuastFan  
I think you may have spelt that wrong. ;))

 Mia @PhilipQuastFan  
As exciting as this has been, I must go. There's polenta for me to do.

 The Hill @RLJHill  

 The Hill @RLJHill  
I couldn't think of any more and I couldn't work out how to get that one in.

 Valerie @phantom0794
Thought you were just pollen my leg for a minute... Glad there wasn't a hidden meaning lost on me ;)

 The Hill @RLJHill  
No, I'm seriously (cerealsly?) stumped (does stump count?).

 Valerie @phantom0794
Sure! I certainly won't bark about it ..

 The Hill @RLJHill  
Thanks, then I won't grass you up either.

 Valerie @phantom0794
Thanks.. We don't want any deep rooted hostilities

 The Hill @RLJHill  
Shoot, I just can't think of any more.

 Valerie @phantom0794
and we've done rather well, for peat's sake...

 The Hill @RLJHill  
weed better not stop now!

 The Hill @RLJHill  
I'm having sow much fun.

 Valerie @phantom0794
Glad no one's told me to sod off yet

 The Hill @RLJHill  
If they did, it would soil our fun.

 Valerie @phantom0794
they can just leaf us alone then!

 The Hill @RLJHill  
Don't worry, it'll be vine.

 Valerie @phantom0794
just because we're willing to go out on a limb...

How could you not feel UP after that?

But there’s always room for a musical number.

And this week, while rooting out the films I took of The Tortoises two years ago, I came across this video from Christmas 2010:

That was like The Fifth Take or something, because Woody kept messing it up by speaking (he does in this one too, but at least he didn't cut me off for once).  (Woody ALWAYS cuts me off.)

So I know exactly what musical number to pick – although technically not a musical number, it is a song from the character’s perspective so I figure it counts.  Plus I LOVE it.

Strange Things from Toy Story

Sunday, 12 May 2013

The Bears

A while ago, I was going to write a post about the two teddy bears in The Living Room, Disgruntled Bear and Hide The Silverware Bear.

They add their own angle to every situation, because Disgruntled Bear is disgruntled by it and Hide The Silverware Bear has some sly take.  They make The Living Room a much more amusing place.

But these two bears no longer live in The Living Room because of The Lodger.  They have moved into my bedroom, along with about a thousand other things I own.

And it is here that I notice several other bears peering at me.  I am in a constant state of lessening items I own.  I have too much stuff and am always streamlining it.  So why is the teddy bear population actually increasing?  Where did they all come from?

My favourite toy when I was a kid was Bobby Badger.  I got him for my third birthday.
But who was my favourite toy before I was three?

Let’s look at that picture again.

This is Letterbox Bear, Bobby’s brother or whatever (they’re from the same series of toys).  I got him for Christmas the year before.  He was my go-to-guy before I turned three.
For nine months or so, he was king.  Then he was usurped.  This never bothered me because he was my second favourite toy, he still got to sit at the top of my bed and he and Bobby are bestest friends.  Then someone had to go and make Toy Story and give me guilt.

It’s a subtle guilt but a nagging guilt that didn’t surface until I grew up, which makes me susceptible to MUST-ADOPT-TEDDY-BEAR fever, even though I’m an adult so won’t play with them and there’s no room in the house.

The only teddy bear I have left from childhood (and I mean specifically bears) is
Letterbox Bear
and from my teenhood
Hedley (who actually looks more like a water vole or beaver)
I got Hedley at the Millennium Dome, so I have to keep him as he encapsulates a memory.  Mainly of my travelling companion saying she didn’t think I was the type of person who collected cuddly toys.  She also once said, after I simply reached the limit of ‘coping’ with bullying, that she didn’t think I was the type of person who cried.  So apparently she knew nothing about me.  He’s called Hedley after a character in a story I never finished writing.

But then came Free Meeeee Bear.
This was a free gift with some bulk package The Mother had bought, and every day for months I walked past this open box with this tiny bear stuck in a plastic bag, staring at me with its bulbous black eyes like a baby seal.
Finally, The Mother freed the bear and gave him to me.

O’Bialystock Bear
At university we took a magical trip to the Bear Factory.  The idea of making a bear from scratch sounded unbelievably exciting.  It really wasn’t.  First off, it’s creepy, second off (?) it was incredibly expensive and third off, it was too limited — I was obsessed with the idea of making a bear in a suit so he could be my CID Bear because I was currently obsessed with The Bill.  They didn’t have any outfits that fitted my purpose, so I gave up on making a bear.  However, as I left, I saw this little bridegroom bear, meant for wedding gifts.  And it struck me that if only he was wearing a Homburg rather than a top hat, he’d look an awful lot like Max Bialystock (I was also freshly obsessed with The Producers).

I Don’t Have A Boyfriend Bear (aka ‘Romeo’ according to his label)
After one Valentine’s Day was long over, I came across a whole basket of these bears reduced to £1 each.  The idea that a bear designed to be given as a token of love had completely failed to catch anyone’s attention was sad, particularly to someone as painfully single as me.  I picked it up and its seductive powers started to work because it was so soft that my hand didn’t want to put it back.  How could I after showing it attention?
Look, he wears his heart on his sleeve!  Ahhahahahahahaha

Disgruntled Bear.
I met Disgruntled Bear when, presumably due to his expression, he was donated (abandoned) by his owners and put in a jumble sale.  He failed to catch anyone’s eye and was chucked at the end as one of those toys that will never get rehomed to continue his journey of no one wanting him.  And no one ever would with a face like that.  Because no matter what angle you look at him, no matter what he is doing, he always has the most off-puttingly disgruntled expression.

Knowing no one would ever love this bear, I rescued him and I can never give him up, because no one ever will want that angry, dissatisfied little bear.  And now he is free to be disgruntled by absolutely everything as much as he wants.  He has pride of place in The Living Room (or did, before The Lodger moved in).

Edmond The Explorer and Peter The Pilot
I went to a car boot sale with The Slayer and The Housemate one time.  It was a lot of fun and I’d like to do it again.  Hint hint.  The only thing I saw that piqued my interest was a whole table of the coolest teddy bears I had ever seen at only £2 each.

But I knew I already owned a lot of rubbish, so I left them.  However, at the end, I skirted back over just to see and the two that caught my eye were still there.  How could I not adopt these two?

Hide The Silverware Bear
So named because his expression is scheming, slightly sinister, with larcenous intent. 

 The Housemate bought it because the bear reminded him of me.

Take Me With You Bear

While on holiday, The Housemate was attempting to win a Dick Dastardly from a grabber machine.  He eventually ensnared the tricksy toy, and as Dastardly rose, clinging desperately to his feet was Take Me With You Bear.  So despite being a fairly cheap, bland toy, for his impressive dedication to escaping the machine, he has a home with us.

Oh, and there’s also Trapped In A Basket Bear

Letterbox and Bobby BFFs


Tortoise Sitting: Day 1

So far today, Teefa got stuck on a tiny wall and Harry rolled himself on to his back, so I had to rescue them.  Both incidents were caused by the same garden feature.  Hoping they have learnt their lesson to avoid it.  If it happens again, I’ll have to think of someway to block their access to it.

Teefa, shortly before getting stuck.

Also Harry went exploring under the bushes (looking for an escape?).  The holes in the fences are blocked up, but I lost sight of him in the undergrowth and had to poke around for ages until I located him wedged under a root.  Wasn’t sure if he was stuck.  The Housemate removed him from it just in case.  He went straight back in.  Guess he wasn’t stuck.

Harry basking.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

The Mii Contest

The Mii Addiction ended with a mii contest.

The challenge was to create a mii who looked like ‘a shady salesman’.

Inspiration struck at once (due to my penchant* for Home Front history) and I set about crafting a mii based on Walker from Dad’s Army.  This wasn’t quite achievable and what I came up with didn’t do justice to the shady salesman aim.  

So I worked on The Mii for a bit and made him creepier and shadier and christened him ‘Mr Spiv’. 

I was quite proud of Mr Spiv. 

I entered him into The Competition.

Eventually The Submissions were passed on to judging.

To judge a mii contest, what happens is you are shown a small selection of The Entrants (ten, in fact).  You can pick up to three that you feel ‘best embody the theme of the contest’.  If you want to see more entrants, then you can swap these ten for another ten.

Now I must have looked at over two hundred miis and I am certain that was a tiny percentage of the actual amount of submissions.  And nearly all of them just appeared to be completely normal miis.  You know, people’s personal miis.  There was nothing interesting or remotely evocative of a shady salesman about them.  I saw maybe ten or so that were actually trying.

And I realised that it didn’t matter how hard I tried to make Mr Spiv look like a shady salesman or how accurate he was to The Theme.  Because the chances of him actually being seen by anyone was exactly that, chance.

I voted for The Three Miis I liked best, but I don’t know how many other hundreds of miis I never saw at all that fitted The Theme even better.  I got bored of swapping them after a few dozen times.

I realised that I no longer even cared if I won or lost.  So I don’t think I’ll be entering any more mii contests.  The chances of being seen, let alone voted for, are too small.

This is how well I did, although I have no idea what it actually means:

The top level is the 10th Level.  So being on the 9th Level is a lot better than I first thought when I saw it, but I’ve no idea how many other miis are on each level.  Is it 50 on each, or are we talking hundreds?

See what I mean?

* I know this word is pronounced in the French way, something akin to ‘po-sho’, but I really find that sounds silly and pretentious when said by English people.  So instead I’m going to say predilection from now on.

Friday, 10 May 2013


Tomorrow The Housemate and I will become the proud pet-sitters of a couple of tortoises.

Therefore, I thought I'd reminisce about the last time we looked after them.  Like how they'd stop doing whatever they were doing the second I turned on the camera.  Oh the times we had.

There was hiding...

And walking...

and eating...

and bathing...
and basking...
What exciting adventures will we get up to THIS time?

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Useless Things I Found In My Room

The Room is in a perpetual state of ‘being tidied’.  Or rather, every now and then I have an almighty room tidy except something interrupts before I have finished and so The Room is left in disarray, with piles of sorted out things all over the place that eventually collapse and mudslide into each other and then other stuff gets left on top until it’s all just one big mess and I have another almighty attempt at tidying it all away.

Here are some of The Useless Things I found in The Room during The Last Tidy:

A small wicker dish.

A large white ribbon.

A pretty cage.

A huge glass jar that I keep for The Sole Purpose of crunching The Bare Toes into in The Morning.

A very limp blue stress ball of gunge that seems to be melting.

A robot cat that makes annoying noises, gets depressed and then turns itself off, leaving me feeling sad and guilty.

Old prescription glasses.

And Trapped In A Basket Bear, who I have now pinned to The Ceiling, so that every time I walk past it, I duck, The Mind screaming WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?

Oh, and about a million notebooks containing partial story ideas that one day I will actually have to read.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Top Shelf Books #2 - The Princess Bride by William Goldman

The next book to make it on to The Top Shelf is

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Or rather
The Princess Bride
S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale Of True Love And High Adventure
The “Good Parts” Version Abridged By William Goldman

It is here that I would give a brief premise but I just spent five minutes trying and failed.  It’s a fairy tale (about true love, or rather the beautiful Buttercup being forced to marry a man she doesn’t love while there is a plot afoot to have her murdered), but it’s presented as a fake abridgement, so on the one hand it’s an adventure story and on the other it’s a literary satire, or a satire on literature.  Or something.

‘“I am your Prince and you will marry me,” Humperdinck said.
Buttercup whispered, “I am your servant and I refuse.”
“I am your Prince and you cannot refuse.”
“I am your loyal servant and I just did.”
“Refusal means death.”
“Kill me then.”
“I am your Prince and I’m not that bad—how could you rather be dead than married to me?”
“Because,” Buttercup said, “marriage involves love, and that is not a pastime at which I excel.  I tried once, and it went badly, and I am sworn never to love another.”
“Love?” said Prince Humperdinck.  “Who mentioned love?  Not me, I can tell you.  Look: there must always be a male heir to the throne of Florin.  That’s me.  Once my father dies, there won’t be an heir, just a king.  That’s me again.  When that happens, I’ll marry and have children until there is a son.  So you can either marry me and be the richest and most powerful woman in a thousand miles and give turkeys away at Christmas and provide me a son, or you can die in terrible pain in the very near future.  Make up your own mind.”
“I’ll never love you.”
“I wouldn’t want it if I had it.”
“Then by all means let us marry.”’
~ The Princess Bride by William Goldman (1973)

Ah, there’s nothing like a bad proposal.

I first read The Princess Bride back in university, since then I’ve read it once again all the way through and many times just picked it up to read my favourite bits (that seems ironic somehow), I’ve written a recommendation for it in a bookshop and I even helped The Housemate choose a section to use for a reading at a wedding.  And I think I can say with ease that William Goldman is one of my favourite authors/writers.  So it’s easily made its way on to The Top Shelf.

But this is a tricky post to write, because I already wrote a post about William Goldman and The Princess Bride.  I could be sneaky and just repost it, or live up to my L-A-Z-Y self and just stick a link here.  (You should read that post; it had pictures.)

But that post wasn’t specifically about The Princess Bride, because I was also going on about Marathon Man, and that post was focused on The Quest to find a favourite author, whereas the Top Shelf Books series of posts is about great books, which isn’t quite the same thing although hugely connected.  So somehow I have to write a whole new post on why I like this book.

Well, that’s simple.  I like it because it is funny and it is smart.

I like Goldman’s style.  How did I put it last time?
'It's so blunt and fast and slick and clever and irreverent and witty and childish and facetious.  It's magnificent.'

On top of that, the characters are witty, so it’s a pleasure to read them.

And the narration (both ‘Morgenstern’ and ‘Goldman’) has a natural deadpan charm.  It’s amusing, often laugh-out-loud inducing, in moments that seem completely innocuous.  Goldman’s interruptions feel honest, which in a metafictional take on the fantasy genre is pretty amazing.

At the centre of it all is the fairy tale.  The metafictional elements of the story wouldn’t work if the tale at the heart wasn’t something worth reading.  The Princess Bride is presented as a story ‘Billy’ had read to him as a child, and having grown up he wants to share that magic with his own child and the rest of the world and it does retain the charm of a children’s fairy tale.  You have your beautiful princess, your characters who each have one brilliant skill, a quest with trials (of three) to face and even a couple of returns from the dead.

Except it’s better.  One thing I never liked about fairy tales was the lack of detail—characters would often pop in out of the blue to give the hero a vital piece of help or equipment and then vanish while the heroes were all terribly flat.  But the characters in The Princess Bride overflow in details.  We get flashbacks to explain their motivations, verbosely intelligent dialogue that gives away more than it needs to and descriptions and explanations behind all the minor characters.  It’s never clumsy or irrelevant; it’s funny and it’s involving, and you really do care about the characters.  Meanwhile the story is exciting, gripping and interesting too.  One of The Favourite bits is when Westley has to save Buttercup from the Snow Sand.  This is a dramatic, chilling, exciting scene with humour and warmth too that perfectly explores the characters and it is miles away from the wonderfully satirical framing device.  It’s a strong story even before you get to that other stuff, which is why it works so well.  (I’d love to quote the scene, but it’s three pages long.)

Now I come to that other stuff.  But I’m not a literary critic.  I know what I like and I know why I like it, but explaining that kind of analysis isn’t something I enjoy or articulate particularly well and in the case of The Princess Bride is sort of going against the point somewhat.  Isn’t it?

But I can’t not mention this stuff, because this is the stuff that blew The Mind on that first read and elevated The Princess Bride into The Favourites.  Goldman presents us with an abridged version of a fictional book by a fictional author from a fictional country and even the Bill Goldman who comments (interrupts) throughout the book is a fictionalised version of the author. 

Morgenstern’s original novel is supposed to be a historical satire, so Goldman’s abridgement, only keeping what he considers to be the ‘good parts’, means that he cuts all the scholarly literary bits because they are boring.  This is a hilarious idea, particularly if you’ve ever had to sit through a literature class where a book is analysed instead of enjoyed.

He also creates a kind of comradeship with the reader by pretending he isn’t the author, because that puts him on the same level as us and he can share what he thinks as if we’re discussing the book together.

The skill here is delicious but almost too much for me.  Take the ending.  Morgenstern leaves the ending open; our heroes are trying to escape but everything is going wrong.  Then, because Morgenstern’s ending isn’t satisfying enough, Goldman cuts in and gives us what he thinks happens at the end, which has a more finite quality to it.  And the initial reaction is that it doesn’t matter what he thinks because it isn’t his story, but of course it is his story.  So Morgenstern’s ending is overridden by Goldman’s ending.  But even Goldman puts in the ‘life isn’t fair’ angle.  He just gave us two ways to end the story and both of them have a dark, downbeat element, but he also says ‘you can answer it for yourself’ so even then you can take whatever the hell you want from the story. 

And in The End, I think that’s The Point.  If a story makes you happy, that’s what you should take away from it.