Monthly Archives: September 2013

Surviving black and white and subtitled

What a killer smile.

What a killer smile.

I want a film that delivers a punch. Being winded can be… good. But throwing up probably isn’t.

I’ve seen films that made me switch off, walk out, pass out (only to wake with a crowd around me, thankful the floor was sprung and I’d had the sense to bring a nurse. No didn’t go anywhere. Probably seemed too much like work for her) and weep. And then there’s the one to which I always return.

I let (well, ok, kinda tricked) my Top Boy into watching the other evening at home). You might be able to work out the film title from our conversation over the opening titles and scenes.

HIM: “Wait a minute, you never told me it was black and white.”

ME: “It’s still good though.”

a little later…

HIM: “Aw no. You didn’t tell me it was all in French.”

ME: “It’s not all in French.” (No, some of it is in Arabic. – I didn’t say that bit aloud.)

HIM: “Are we going to have to read subtitles in English all the way through?”

ME: “It’s not all English subtitles.” (Some of them are in Italian. Shhh.)

Can you tell what it is yet kids? (As a certain entertainer, whose reputation is currently on a knife edge, might ask.)

Here are two more clues. The cast includes only one professional actor. Got it? And it was recommended viewing in the Pentagon in recent years. Now you’ve got it Continue reading

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Should children be allowed to drive?

Who would you rather have driving? Little Maggie - or Homer?

Who would you rather have driving? Little Maggie – or Homer?

Why are children not allowed to drive cars?

“It’s very frustrating,” said Top Boy, age 13, “to be sitting in a moving car, but not driving it.”

Soon, I soothed him, soon…

But he was not deterred. And in fact went further. Says he: “Assuming they can pass the driving test, it’s actually more sensible for children to drive than adults.”

Because…

  1. Children are used to learning and learn more quickly and effectively than adults.
  2. Children are used to following the rules.
  3. Children would not have such bad driving habits.
  4. Children would not be in such a hurry.
  5. Children would be getting such a kick out of driving they would not be letting their minds wander.
  6. Children have better eyesight.
  7. Children have quicker reactions.
  8. Children would be less likely to be distracted by disruptive passengers. (As Top Boy pointed out, he can do 200 miles per hour on computer driving games and stay on the track even with his mates pestering him. And that’s far faster. Continue reading

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My boyfriend boils his balls for me

Consideration for others can be shown in various ways. Holding open a door for them. Giving them your seat on the bus. Boiling your balls for them.
Say what?! Wait a minute…My boyfriend boils his balls for me

It’s true. It may even be true love. Melody Datz is a lucky lucky girl, because her boyfriend boils his balls for her.

Not in a euphemistic – hey, don’t go boiling my balls – type of way. (Not even to the tune of that Kiki Dee & Elton John duet. Know the one I mean?) We’re talking high temperature testicular torture – literally.

True love is shown in many ways. Here’s an insight into one way to turn up the temperature.

For seven nights out of every month, my boyfriend soaks his balls in a bathtub of 118-degree water for 45 minutes. He crams his six-foot-four frame into our claw-foot bathtub and sweats profusely as a constant stream of hot water slowly kills off enough sperm to render him infertile for the next few weeks.

The ball-intensive approach to the war on sperm—the heat method my boyfriend and I use—is great if you can put in the time and energy, but not many people really want to do this. The water in a hot tub rarely exceeds 104 degrees (or shouldn’t). Sperm-killing water must stay above 116 degrees—FOR 45 MINUTES. This means sitting in a tub (or in a sitz bath or on something really hot) for a long time while continually monitoring the temperature to make sure it’s high enough to zap the little bastards. My boyfriend downs a couple of pitchers of ice water during every bath. And, again, it’s incredibly time-intensive—45 minutes out of every evening for a week out of every month, not to mention the time it takes to run the water and cool down afterward.

I’m really not recommending you copy this yourself, but I really AM recommending you read the full article in the Seattle newspaper The Stranger. It’s about men sharing responsibility. It’s gruesomely fascinating – and interesting about the politics, practicalities and future of conception and contraception. Though oddly, after all the scorching scrotum soaking, there’s not much about sex. (I guess one might not be in the mood.) So it’s a suitable read for everyone.

squeamishApart from squeamish men, of course.

Or to be more concise…

Apart from men.

(And Irish readers may be shocked. The very idea of leaving the immersion heater on so long. Good God. Angela Merkel would never stand for it.)

Amidst the comments left below the original article, was this epic piece of advice from someone calling themselves AlaskanbutnotSeanParnell, who said:

If you are trying to save time by microwaving your balls, remember to puncture them first with a fork. Continue reading

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Be pessimistic when you’re young, but optimistic when you’re old

The optimist is on the right hand side of the picture, with her arm round the pessimist.

The optimist is on the right hand side of the picture, with her arm round the pessimist.

Be pessimistic while you’re young, but optimistic when you get older. Do you agree?

I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the message from Diana Athill in her entertaining autobiographical installment  Somewhere Towards The End.

To boil it down further: Be thankful, be appreciative, be optimistic. (Don’t worry too much about being pessimistic at all.)

It’s not just Diana Athill’s credo – she was inspired by newspaper interview with 100+-year old Holocaust survivor Alice Herz-Sommer.

According to Alice, people are born either pessimistic or optimistic.

According to Diana, pessimism or “a painful sensitivity to evil” may be useful in providing a spur to struggle against wrong, but optimism enables one to endure.

Do you agree with either of them? I think I do. Though I also think one can change or learn new behaviour – so the born pessimist may mellow Continue reading

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Filed under Music, What I'm Reading

The universal rules for guaranteed good cooking

guaranteed_stampBreath in, breathe out and relax. It’s all going to be fine. You’ve found the Universal Rules for Guaranteed Good Cooking.

Your culinary troubles are over. All you need for gustatory nirvana is to follow these few simple steps exactly.

No need to sweat through Jamie, cower before Delia or moan over Nigella. Cookbooks begone! All you need is here.

Padmini this is for you. Men wave goodbye to kitchen anxiety. Women flex your spatulas. And let’s go…

The 20 Universal Rules for Guaranteed Good Cooking

1. Choose a bottle of red wine.. Not a carton. Not a box. Not a plastic bottle from a plane. A proper long-necked bottle.

2. Open it. Sniff it. Pause in anticipation.

3. Slowly pour it – savouring that obble-gobble obble-gobble sound. That sound is the spiritual fanfare of the kitchen.

jaqee4. Choose your music and press play. [Inappropriate music: The Pogues*, anything about prisons*, anything rubbish.] [Appropriate music: When the night feels my song – Bedouin Soundclash, Moonshine – Jaqee (looking cool and sultry on the left there), Desaparacido – Manu Chao, upbeat reggae or ska.]

5. Adjust the setting on your music player to a higher temperature. That’s better. By now you should have tasted your wine. (NB: Be sure to pour the wine before turning on the music, otherwise you may miss the soul-lifting obble-gobble obble-gobble.)

6. Stir yourself and dance (or at least sashay) round the kitchen. This is to be repeated frequently during the cooking process.

7. Take your measuring jug, scales and specially designed half teaspoon/teaspoon/half table spoon/table spoon device. Carefully hide these and any other oppressively exact tools in a cupboard out of sight. (NB: A glass doored cupboard will NOT do – unless the glass is opaque.)

8. Prepare your mushrooms. Rinse them. Peel them if it makes you feel good. Peel them slowly. Drink some wine. Then chop them and gently fry in three sauces – dark soy, teryaki and mirin. And the greatest of these is mirin Continue reading

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Death is not “unfortunate”

Meet Siri - more on her below.

Meet Siri – more on her below.

Writing about something that’s both intensely personal and universally shared should be a gift, right?

So today’s topic is bereavement.

Not so simple, huh?

Phil Adams is worth reading. His wife Rachel died. There’s an excerpt below, but you should definitely click on the title and go to the full piece, which is called…

My wife’s death was not unfortunate.

Time hasn’t healed but it has enabled me to put a lid on things around other people.

The struggle, bizarrely, has been telling it straight to a bunch of complete strangers. Resisting the temptation to sugar the pill with vacuous, inappropriate platitudes.

Hello, my name is Philip Adams. My wife and I have a joint policy with you. Unfortunately she died at the end of March…

Unfortunately?

Where did that come from?

What possessed me to say that?

Unfortunately is what I say to a client when I can’t make a meeting.

It has no place in a conversation about the death of my wife. Continue reading

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Filed under blogs, Music

Wrong Fit

Postman Plod - from Viz

Postman Plod – from Viz

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches back into view? It’s me. I’m tentatively back.

Now wait a minute. Don’t go pointing the finger in this direction. You’re the ones to blame. For bringing me back, that is.

Despite me disappearing deeper than the caves of Tora Bora, keeping quieter than the Count of Montecristo and remaining as inactive as your local political representative – you kept dropping by this blog. And some of you have been sneakily getting in touch by other means. Thank you.

But why today? Why now?

It’s the postman who’s really to blame. He just fits this Friday’s topic set by the Loose Bloggers Consortium – Wrong Fit.

It was like this. I came home today, stood at the front door, feeling slightly off balance as I delved for my key.

(No – don’t go jumping to conclusions. No drink had been taken.)

I opened the door and stepped over the pile of letters inside. I carried them in to the kitchen. They were mostly for the previous occupants who seem determined not to redirect their mail. (Odd, considering some of the stuff they’re getting in the post and how poorly sealed the envelopes.  I’d definitely not want other people handling them if I were them.)

Oof - nasty kick to the head there!

Oof – a nasty Franz Ferdinand kick to the head there!

I was a bit disappointed because I’d been expecting two CDs – Franz Ferdinand: Right Thoughts Right Words Right Action – and Belle and Sebastian: The Third Eye Centre (you may remember them from that film I backed.) I ordered the CDs to celebrate finally getting paid for some of the work I’d been cramming in. But still no sign of them.

Then I spotted one of those familiar red “Something For You” notes left by the postman.* The message said the item could not be delivered because it was too large to go through the letter box. It was the wrong fit. The postman had written on the paper slip: “Package under mat.”

I paused. Can that mean what I think – no, what I fear it means?

Package under mat. Under the mat at the front door? The mat that everyone stands on when entering the house?

I went back outside. Lifted the mat – the mat I’d just been shuffling about on as I hoked around for my key.

Remember the bit about feeling a little off balance? That was because of the package hidden underneath my feet. (I’d clearly be an easy booby trap target with my powers of observation.)

So the question is this: Why on earth would any adult think it was a good idea to conceal a breakable parcel where people will stand on it Continue reading

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