Tuesday, September 29, 2009

And that's Jonny Danger, for the win

Total Film have got a list on their website of the top 20 Star Wars t-shirts.

Guess who's number one! *Go on, guess baby!) Oh, yeah, that's right - Feel the Force from Fair and Bare. Can you feel it!

I guess this just goes to prove that "I raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawk!"

Monday, September 28, 2009

Palindrome of the week

Got this one from the Adopt-a-word email newsletter:

The longest palindrome in the world is Finnish. It's saippuakivikauppias and it means soap-stone vendor.

Strange, huh?

(And, yes I have an adopted word - actually adopted for me by Cathy. I wrote about it here.)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Yeah big whoop

John Lewis opens in Cardiff today and is being hailed as the saviour of the city centre by a toadying BBC and lickspittle politicians. (I suspect they've just cut and paste this news story from some John Lewis press release. It's hardly critical reportage.)

When IKEA opened we had a similar excitement. "Oooh, a new shop, we must go and wonder round like petit bourgois drones. Ooh, we can now buy stuff that other people in other parts of the country can buy and be as well-dressed/chic/styling as them." Or desperately unoriginal. It's the same thing.

Nobody has talked about whether the city can cope with an increase in shoppers (it can't) or what effect this will have on being able to park anywhere near the centre (good luck with that) or even the economic effects on smaller non-chain shops that actually have a soul (sod them, they're not multi-million pound companies).

Until those considerations start getting mentioned in the sycophantic press, excuse me for not getting excited about an overpriced pseudoposh unnecessary department store opening. I'm not a wannabe yuppie or social climber so I don't think I'll find much in there that interests me. Just a hunch.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Customer service

My mate Matt tipped me onto a hilarious blog containing real-life stories of the morons who are politely called customers. Check it out: Not Always Right

I've submitted my favourite ever story from when I worked at the cinema. I was on the concessions stand and a girl came up and said...

"I'd like a large cockporn please."

She then burst into embarrassed giggles. I looked down at my waist, shook my head sadly, and said...

"I think you're going to be disappointed..."

Monday, September 14, 2009

Word pair of the week: Betsu Bala

This word pair is actually anglicised Japanese, that can also be spelt/said Betsu Bara. Interestingly, Japanese doesn't have an 'R' or an 'L' so either can be used when it's anglicised, which is plobabry why steleotypes of Japanese people speaking Engrish mix them up.

Anyway Betsu Bala means 'additional stomach'. Apparently only women have them and it explains why women might not be able to finish their main course, but will have enough room for dessert. You'd use it as in the following:

"My friend Terri who has just come back from Japan couldn't finish her roast potatoes at the carvery the other night, but fortunately, while in Japan, she developed a Betsu Bala, which meant she had enough room to order the treacle sponge with the bottomless jug of custard. The pig."

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Er, I think you mean "generic"

So the other day we were out for dinner and for some reason my Dad was explaining how he had proper Peugeot branded car mats and mud flaps, "not like those unisex ones you buy in Halfords."

Me: "Unisex?"

Friday, September 11, 2009

It's all a conspiracy...except it's not

Eight years on from 9/11 and how time has flown. What’s interesting for me though is how many conspiracy theories have sprung up in quite a short time.

Just to set out where I’m coming from – I don’t believe any of the conspiracy theories for two reasons. 1) As I see it, a jet plane crashing into a skyscraper is likely to destroy it without the need for thermite charges or the CIA. 2) I don’t believe large groups of people can keep secrets very well.

A lot of people would have to be involved in a conspiracy to bring down the World Trade Center. And human beings are unreliable blabbermouths. Someone would have let slip that there was more to 9/11 than the official view, if there was more to it.

Plus there’s the reasoning (if you can call it that) of the conspiracy theorists. Basically their argument runs like this: If the Government conspired to destroy the WTC, then they would deny it. So the fact that they deny conspiring to destroy the WTC ‘proves’ they did actually conspire to destroy the WTC.

Just about every conspiracy theory I have ever seen has that circular reasoning at the heart of it.

Ultimately conspiracy theories are just people looking for a ‘supernatural’ explanation for something quite mundane. We don’t want to believe that a handful of people with only rudimentary flight experience could cause such carnage, so we invent a conspiracy to make us feel safer – this must have been a huge operation with government complicity and decades of planning and so on. That’s far better than the thought that this was a random act of terror caused by a few people, which could be easily replicated.

As a race we have often created ‘supernatural’ explanations for random, frightening events that we have no control over. Whether it’s sacrificing virgins to appease the volcano gods, or throwing gold coins into rivers to ask the river spirits for safe crossing, it comes down to the same thing. We want to ‘explain’ the randomness as somehow caused by something, because that makes it less scary. We can perhaps do something to propitiate the gods (or the government) so that the danger goes away.

But the thing is, just wishing the world was a safer place doesn’t make it so.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The parable of the 100 Euro Note

A Lesson in Economics, sent to me by a friend.

It is the month of August, on the shores of the Black Sea. It is raining, and the little town looks totally deserted. It is tough times, everybody is in debt, and everybody lives on credit.

Suddenly, a rich tourist comes to town. He enters the only hotel, lays a 100 Euro note on the reception counter, and goes to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to choose one.

The hotel proprietor takes the 100 Euro note and runs to pay his debt to the butcher.

The butcher takes the 100 Euro note, and runs to pay his debt to the pig farmer.

The pig farmer takes the 100 Euro note, and runs to pay his debt to the supplier of pig-feed and tractor fuel.

The supplier of feed and fuel takes the 100 Euro note and runs to pay his debt to the town prostitute who, in these hard times, gave her "services" on credit.

The prostitute runs to the hotel, and gives the 100 Euro note to the hotel proprietor to pay her debt for the rooms that she rented when she brought her clients there.

The hotel proprietor then lays the 100 Euro note back on the counter so that the rich tourist will not suspect anything.

At that moment, the tourist comes down after inspecting the rooms, and takes his 100 Euro note, after saying that he did not like any of the rooms, and leaves town.

No one earned anything. However, the whole town is now without debt, and looks to the future with a lot of optimism...

Monday, September 07, 2009

FREE Star Wars Lego!

The Daily Mirror are currently running a promotion giving away free Star Wars Lego. Saturday's model was a Stormtrooper on a speeder bike. I thought 'I want one of those.'

I went to the WH Smiths in town to buy a paper and pick up the model, but they had run out. Then I had a brainwave and went to the Smiths store in the Central Station. They had oodles of them. The girl on the till asked me if I had kids and if I wanted more then one. I couldn't lie and say I had kids, but I did say 'Well, if you're giving them away...' So she gave me three.

And here they are flying in formation with an Imperial dropship model I got given last Christmas. Oh, yeah, the Stormtroopers are gonna get you!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

5 things that are good about not getting a new job

Yesterday I had a job interview. Sadly I didn't get the job. But, as Cathy always says, I have to count my blessings. Here are five of them.

1) The experience. For me it was the first time I've ever been personally prayed for by a bishop - and the first time I'd ever been to a job interview that opened with a prayer. It was at Lambeth Palace in London, which I had never been too before and was simply something else. The room I did my prep exercise in felt like I was typing in a drawing room in a stately home. Not many people in the world have been able to ring the doorbell at Lambeth Palace and say 'Hi, I'm here for the interview'. Plus afterwards I walked over the Westminster Bridge and wandered round Parliament Square and Westminister Abbey, which I don't get to do every day.

2) The affirmation. Doing the prep, writing the CV, reading the references people wrote for me, just getting on the shortlist for a high profile job has encouraged me and affirmed me. When the day job feels like a grind and you keep having to sort out bitty, petty things you can believe that your skillz are petty too. I guess when someone sees potential in you, then you start to believe in yourself. My presentation was really well recieved and I held my own. It came down to secondary skills, and the Bishop's voice was full of real regret that they had had to make such a hard choice between "exceptional" candidates.

3) Feeling the love. I had a lot of people rooting for me. Some were praying, some were thinking positive thoughts, and some had their fingers crossed. But knowing so many people were on my side really gave me a confidence boost. And since I heard I didn't get it, two people have said that they are selfishly slightly glad I'm not going anywhere, which in some ways is really nice.

4) I don't have the upheaval, but I haven't settled either. I do enjoy my job (sometimes) , but there's always a danger you get in your comfort zone. At least I won't have the nagging fear that I'm settling for the easy option. I gave it a go.

5) I can finish the unfinished business. There are a few proper writing projects at work I would like to continue through to completion. Having to leave good projects mid-task would have been a bit annoying. So now I can get my head down and crack on with them.

So, yes, I'm still a little disappointed. But there are upsides to the downside.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Rare scoreline

I went with Matt to his first ice hockey match last Saturday, a pre-season friendly between the Devils and Coventry Blaze. As it was a warm-up game (no pun intended) they didn't go into overtime, so the game ended at 2-2 - an unusual scoreline for a hockey game.

Given that the Blaze were in the title hunt last year and are considered one of the 'big 4', Cardiff didn't do too badly. They more than held their own, scored while they had a man in the sin bin and rode their luck at times. Plus there was fighting, which Matt as pleased about.

I'm thinking of getting into hockey, and as Matt enjoyed it enough to come back too, we might make a habit of it. We both bought souvenir pucks anyway, because, you know, you can't have enough souvenir tat. And now we can make puck jokes like 'What the puck is that?'.