In for a penny, out from the pound

31 01 2012

My wife hates dogs.

I hate cats.

So we had hamsters for many years.

Actually I had hamsters even before I met my wife. (It’s OK, it’s not at all like having crabs.) I liked the idea of caring for some living thing as a recent ex-student. A bit like a dry run for parenthood. But cheaper. I used to feed my first hamster (nominally vegetarian, naturally seed-eating, you understand) on salami. It had a lovely shiny coat. Against my fervent protestations, a friend once tried to stroke it through the bars of the cage. He was fine after the stitches healed. Some people just don’t listen. I think that one was called Smudge. “Fang” was just a pet name, really.

Anyway, content that (teenagers aside), the house would never have anything furry in it larger than the aforementioned hamsters, I was a little perturbed when my wife suddenly declared we now owned a dog. Turns out she’d been swayed from her anti-canine position by the “ahhh” factor of miniature dachshunds (which, incidentally are statistically the most aggressive dog there is… even worse than rottweilers!), examples of which she’d seen when collecting the offspring from school.

Wikipedia: Regular & Miniature Dachshund

Wikipedia: Regular & Miniature Dachshund

Having seen that the West Vancouver SPCA had dachshunds in need of adoption, she’d gone there to offer succour. Naturally, by the time the advert had hit the Internet, the dogs were long gone, but this fluff-ball was still in need of a loving home:

Spike

Spike

Sadly she ended up with us instead, but a couple of years on she seems happy enough. She’s half terrier (hunter – ear down) and half corgi (herder – ear up), so she’s as psychotic as the rest of the family, and fits pretty well. They say dogs look like their owners, but it’s been a long time since I had that much hair. The eyebrows though… maybe (though I can’t yet comb mine back over my ears!)

She’s very cock-sure of herself, likes you to know who’s boss and claims her eyes are green, but if you tickle her under the chin, she rolls over like a woman of negotiable affection (to quote Terry Pratchett) and delights in exposing her belly to be rubbed. Wouldn’t we all…?





Say what?

31 01 2012

Quieter Elephant: “So, first-born, what did you do today?” (at her University co-op placement job).

First-born: “I tested the moisture content of the various components of the cheese tortellini”.

Quieter Elephant: “—————-!” (Really, what could I say to that?!)





German wit

29 01 2012

I like Germans. I do! I’ve been out and about in my time, and been there a few times. I spent a good week there in Rhens (near Koblenz) for a wine festival once. It’s where I learned there are 140+ different kinds of sausage in Germany. Definitely not a good place to be born a pig.

I’ve been to the massive Drupa trade shows in Düsseldorf more times than any human being should have to. I even slept in the airport. A bit bright… and not very comfy!

Wikipedia: Düsseldorf International Airport

Wikipedia: Düsseldorf International Airport

But I have to admit that being British born, we’re not very good at letting bygones be bygones. English football (soccer) supporters still celebrate their World Cup win over Germany in 1966 like it was an annual recurrence. It’s almost half a century ago, for goodness sake!! There’s generally good-humoured fun made at the German predilection for getting up early and reserving all the poolside loungers with towels at the more popular southern holiday destinations. This was combined with a nationalistic reference to the Dam Busters film in a Carling Black Label advert, back in 1993.

But my point, believe it or not, is that the German wit is much maligned and underappreciated. English speakers forget that our language itself is derived from German roots, and that despite the Germanic world’s insistence on smoking more cigarettes than is good for them (i.e. greater than ZERO!), they do tend to brew pretty good beer and make fantastic sausage. So here in conclusion is one of the funniest adverts I’ve ever seen. It’s German. It’s for opticians. On the face of it, it’s not got a lot going for it, you might think. It’s a bit rude though, so maybe not TOTALLY safe for the office. Watch it and tell me you didn’t laugh…





Gesundheit!

29 01 2012

… Which at least one reader will know literally means something close to “have healthiness” in German, and is offered in North America (potentially accompanied by a tissue) to someone who has just sneezed, as an alternative to the more common elsewhere “bless you”. Probably something to do with the separating of church and state. ;)

And if you can tell our next stop is Tacoma, near Seattle, “You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!”

We have friends in Tacoma, Washington. On our first trip to visit them, they were kind enough to take us to the old union railway station, which is an impressive public space. It has its own web site too.

unionstationrotunda.org: Tacoma Union Station

unionstationrotunda.org: Tacoma Union Station

According to the usually reliable Wikipedia, it opened for business in 1911. Now then, if you look closely at the photo above, you’ll notice some organic looking colourful shapes and forms. Hard to tell at this resolution, but they’re actually glass. Some of the other features can be seen in this shot.

unionstationrotunda.org: Tacoma Union Station

unionstationrotunda.org: Tacoma Union Station

Needless to say, they catch the eye. There are several other items too, on the outside of the building in glass cases. Some half-hearted research (it’s on placards everywhere!) educated me as to the creator of such surreal, organic, mesmerising beauty. It’s one Dale Chihuly. <Gesundheit!>

A local boy, born right there in Tacoma, he studied glass art in Venice, which James Bond fans will know has a bit of a reputation for such things. Probably why most consider him “quite good really”, or at the very least “not half bad”. A bit accident prone, losing his eye in a car accident and later dislocating a shoulder, he now has others implement his designs, which are all hand-blown in glass. With a bit of a thing for rotundas it seems, the Vic’n’Bert rotunda in London (still not in Ontario) also has one of his pieces:

Wikipedia: Victoria & Albert museum

Wikipedia: Victoria & Albert museum

There has been one of his installations right here in Vancouver since 1998, at 1200 Georgia. Actually on Bute. It’s visible from the road, and worth a better photo than the only one I could find.

virtualtourist.com: "Dale Chihuly Art"

virtualtourist.com: "Dale Chihuly Art"

He also does smaller pieces which are more readily accessible for the general populace.

Dale Chihuly: Cadmium Yellow Seaform set with Red Lip Wraps

Dale Chihuly: Cadmium Yellow Seaform set with Red Lip Wraps

Quite distinctive, and so rich and vibrant. More than once I would have sworn they moved.

Cornets, 2007 Missouri Botanical Garden

Cornets, 2007 Missouri Botanical Garden





What’s behind the door?

29 01 2012

Glenn Owen Dodds – best film ev-ah! (And I include The Good, The Bad and the Aesthetically Challenged in that.)

Saw it on the back of an aeroplane seat on the way to Sydney, Australia. Glenn is not quite what he seems. Take a close look at his initials…

A most unlikely deity. He’s Australian for a start. I won’t spoil things by giving away more than is in the trailer. It’s only 16 minutes long, and it doesn’t yet seem to be available for purchase unfortunately. If anyone knows where I can get a copy please, please, please let me know!!

Glenn is all-knowing though, and that means knowing you’ve only had 12 shags in your 28 years on the Earth! A bit embarrassing for poor old Michael Radcliffe, our lovable hero. Filmed in Brisbane. All-round brilliant. If you get the chance, or see it advertised at a local film festival, go see it!

Full details on IMDB of course. Has its own web site too.





Don’t stand on ceremony

29 01 2012

So, Florence + the Machine have a newish album out: Ceremonials. My daughter loves it, but I’m still in the “meh” stage. It’s yet to grow on me. But, like fungus, and if I’m lucky enough a mixed coloured, quite uncategorisable hydrangea - I’m sure it eventually will.

Wikipedia: Ceremonials

Wikipedia: Ceremonials

Dougal and the Blue Cat (Buxton, the more learned amongst you will already know) is on my list for future potential postings, but let me just say that this is not the same Florence. No, that Florence is the one much maligned by Jasper Carrot’s parody of Magic Roundabout.

Florence + the Crew

Florence + the Crew

And I have to say I think that Noddy has much to regret in that whole sorry affair.

Now hang on while I have a sip of tea. I need a second to just try and remember where the hell I was going with all this….

(slurp)

… ah yes! Got it. Nearly there. Keep your legs crossed, the bus will stop soon enough.

So this Florence, one Ms Welch, is from London (not Ontario), and fronts the band. “The Machine” is a group of musicians who back her. The appeal her music has to me is that it’s very hard to categorise. All the best things are, in my view (the only one, let’s face it, that I actually care about). One of the hardest things I’ve ever tried to do was to describe a peacock’s tail feather to a blind lady. She eventually took pity on me, and we got drunk instead. It was a simpler concept. So anyway, earlier on in her career, Florence wrote a boppy little number called Kiss with a fist. She rerecorded it with The Machine and put it on their first album Lungs.

Despite the apparently violent lyrics, Florence (according to Wikipedia at least) claims it is metaphorical, and actually about a couple who express their love through tension and violent fantasy, a “destructive force”.

I quote:

Florence explained the song’s meaning on her MySpace:

“Kiss with a Fist” is NOT a song about domestic violence. It is about two people pushing each other to psychological extremes because they are fighting but they still love each other. The song is not about one person being attacked, or any actual physical violence, there are no victims in this song. Sometimes the love two people have for each other is a destructive force. But they can’t have it any other way, because it’s what holds them together, they enjoy the drama and pushing each other’s buttons. The only way to express these extreme emotions is with extreme imagery, all of which is fantasism and nothing in the song is based on reality. 

So – take it how you will, but without further ado, I give you, ladies, gentlemen, and anyone else feeling left out by those labels, Florence, her Machine and Kiss with a Fist:





I love you man…

29 01 2012

So I am generally grateful to misfits’ miscellany for his wit and repartee. He takes the time to not only visit these questionable pages, but oft times leaves some witty remark, reference or occasionally a faint smell of urine in the corners. In a comment elsewhere, he led me (via the power invested in me by Google) to this image:

Worth1000: Big Step

Worth1000: Big Step

It may not actually have been the one he intended, but I’ve never let a little thing like a fact get in the way of a potentially entertaining yarn.

So a little more reading tells me that this was on a site with regular competitions for digital artists. A picture is indeed worth a 1000 words. And it can be manipulated so much more effecively than Telly Savalas can sing! This specific competition had the contestants begin with a standard stock photo of a bathroom, and pimp it up with Photoshop or whatever. A more recent one called for them to take a celebrity photo and “give them a new ‘do”. I encourage you to check out the whole site, it’s a scream, but here are a couple of my favourites from that particular contest:

Worth1000: Clint

Worth1000: Clint

 

Worth1000: Donald Trump

Worth1000: Donald Trump

Thanks MM – who loves ya baby?





The downside of living in White Rock…

29 01 2012

So I have to say that for me personally, living in White Rock/South Surrey is as near to perfection as I can dare to imagine.

I am not typical by any measure, so don’t therefore expect many of my reasons to dovetail with your own list of traits for your perfect place. And I know how you do so love lists. I’m OK with that difference. You should be too. Variety is the spice of life. As  Robert A. Heinlein in Time Enough for Love once posited, it might also be the logical plural of spouse (as mice is to mouse), and it’s definitely a Yorkshire term for sweets or “candy”, as it is hereabouts called.

Didn’t take me long to get off-topic there, did it?

It rains a lot in WR (I was born in Yorkshire, remember? It’s a good thing, rain. I like it!). But here, it means it. When it rains, ducks drown. We probably get a similar amount to Vancouver’s annual 44″ which is actually a couple of inches less than Yorkshire per annum, but not spread out over the year nearly as much. None of this messing about with days of non-committal drizzle like I grew up with.

But, alas, nothing is ever totally perfect. We are perilously close to the border with the US. This in itself isn’t an issue. Americans are, on the whole, quite decent folk. The ones in Washington State are particularly laid back, and make pretty good neighbours generally (plus or minus the airborne effluent from their power stations blowing up the Fraser Valley). But, their proximity has the unfortunate side effect that we in BC are subjected to their TV broadcasts. These unfortunately do not stop at the 49th parallel, but seep insidiously across and are picked up on the more impressionable TV screens here in the British Commonwealth. It is due to this phenomenon therefore that I happened to witness possibly the worse advert ever made, while walking past my teenage son watching TV (I think he’s actually taken root on the settee).

Not only is it poorly acted, but it epitomises pretty much everything that’s wrong in the world. First and foremost, it’s for a lawyer, so must inherently be demonic (sorry Kianys ;) ). Secondly, the TV ad within the TV ad has a slightly better actor (though with a face as hard as granite) depicting a woman who seems to delight in revenge on her husband who (understandably from what little I’ve seen of her!) wishes a divorce, and she is inherently encouraging the audience to reap similar retribution on their unsuspecting partners with a pre-emptive strike.

See what you think, but for me, it’s like politics… we get the advertising we deserve!





Really… what WOULD Gutenberg think?

29 01 2012

Well, I’m sure there are many things that Johannes Gutenberg would think bizarre today, since he invented the printing press in around 1440. Printing however has found more and more diverse ways to express itself. Recent browsing of YouTube ads led me to a still from an ad, of a bloke stood in his open garage looking to sell his car on some tacky online website. This reminded me of a web site that had been brought to my attention when I still worked for Kodak. (Does anyone still work for Kodak?)

This company specialises in poster-sized pictures with which to adorn your garage, or more recently, interior door, so that you get a trompe-l’œil effect. By the way, check this one out (I was on Wikipedia just to check my French spelling…) it’s Escaping Criticism by Pere Borrell del Caso, 1874.

Wikipedia: Trompe-l'oeil

Wikipedia: Trompe-l'oeil

So here’s a few samples from the web site of style-your-door.com

These are actually pasted onto the closed garage door…

Style-your-door.com: Boat

Style-your-door.com: Boat

Style-your-door.com: Wine cellar

Style-your-door.com: Wine cellar

And how about this one for your double garage?! Brilliant stuff…

Style-your-door.com: Truck

Style-your-door.com: Truck

Finally, a little something for inside…?

Style-your-door.com: Downing Street

Style-your-door.com: Downing Street





Er… will this affect my no claims discount?

28 01 2012
Daily Mail: Bridge collapses in Kentucky after being rammed by hulking freighter carrying space rocket parts

Daily Mail: Bridge collapses in Kentucky after being rammed by hulking freighter carrying space rocket parts

Read the story here: Bridge collapses in Kentucky after being rammed by hulking freighter carrying space rocket parts








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