Inspired By Insomnia

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I find myself insomnolent
At three in the morning
Can’t get back to sleep
Though day is several hours from dawning

It’s a frustrating situation
Because I am truly tired
But I don’t think that I will get
The sleep that is required

I try to relax by breathing
I expand my diaphragm
But the more I try to doze
The more alert I find I am

It’s a vicious circle
It makes me want to weep
The longer that I’m conscious
The harder it is to sleep

So as long as I’m awake
I’ll use the extra time
I get up out of bed
And I pen this little rhyme

 

James Explains Giraffes Amongst Other Things

James Explains

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Welcome back to that bit of my blog where I pretend I’m going to explain stuff but then don’t explain anything much at all. This week, as ever, I’ll be answering the questions of other people.

People like Haylee who previously asked about lions and bears and hot dogs and jaffa cakes and is still from the UK but somewhere different in the UK to me. Haylee asks:

Do giraffes make a sound? And would they be the rudest animal if they could speak ‘human’?

Now this does seem like an obvious opportunity to promote the ‘Magic Penguin’ bit of my blog which features a character called Fat Giraffe, who speaks ‘human’ and has been known to be rude, but I’m really not into that kind of self-promotion.

Although you should totally check out the ‘Magic Penguin’ stories now.

But back to the question and whether giraffes make a sound. The answer is yes, yes they do. And I doubt they’re anything like as rude as a vole. I once met a vole who was just the rudest creature.

Ok that isn’t entirely true – I’ve never met a vole of any temperament but I can’t imagine a giraffe would be all that rude. They seem like they’d be quite polite as animals go.

Want to hear what a giraffe sounds like?

Then watch this video in which a giraffe makes a noise.

Jay from the USA asks:

Which is better, Godfather Part I or Godfather Part II? Follow up, why is there so much hatred for Godfather Part III?

Now it would genuinely help if I had seen any of the Godfather films and I haven’t. I should have done, I know I’d enjoy them, but I never seem to have got around to it.

Still, it does seem to be widely accepted that both of the first two Godfather films are pretty good – although according to Wikipedia (the place I go to learn everything), the first one was marginally more successful both critically and commercially. But in the end it’s all just a matter of opinion and as I’ve never seen either I’m not really entitled to have an opinion on this topic..

And why is there so much hatred for part III? Well I haven’t seen that either, but I’d imagine it’s because it isn’t a very good film, a fact which is made all the worse because the other two are supposedly very good.

But I haven’t seen any of them, so what do I know?

I was going to watch them in preparation for this, but frankly, they do seem to be a bit long.

gigglingfattie who previously asked about rubber duckies and is still from Canada asks:

Why, when challenging yourself to post 10 songs from your iTunes, will the most embarrassing ones always be played?!

I think anything that is likely to cause embarrassment is almost inevitable.

So the trick  is not to be embarrassed by anything.

I know that when I’m putting together playlists for my own amusement at home or in the car, they tend to be a mix of nineties and noughties indie classics.

But give me one too many tequilas on a night out and I’ll happily bounce around the dance floor to some ‘interesting’ choices.

Like the one below:

 

FInally, Pete, who previously asked about my name and ‘the point’ and is still from the UK but somewhere different in the UK to me and Haylee asks:

Will we all be rich after Brexit?

I think the answer to that is clearly no Pete. While I’m pretty sure that Brexit will neither be as bad as some of us fear nor anywhere near as good as some people would have us believe,  most of us will be as rich or as poor as we ever were.

But we will have our blue passports back so whatever the other consequences, it will all have been worth it.

And that’s it for another week of explaining stuff.

I expect I’ll do it all again next week if anyone posts a question or two in the comments section below.

Ninety-One

James Proclaims (4)

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Do bloggers blog about the very act of blogging when they can’t think what else to blog about?

Perhaps so.

I know I’ve been guilty of that before.

And perhaps I’m guilty of that today.

I’ve got loads of things I want to blog about though, so this post is not entirely about a lack of other topics.

For example I could blog about the time, recently, that I won a massive cake in a raffle. Or how Mrs Proclaims and I survived in near arctic conditions when we thought our boiler had broken, but in fact our boiler was fine and it was our gas meter that had broken (oh the hilarity of going for three days without heating only for the wrong kind of repairman to turn up!)

Or I could brag about how I totally won an argument conducted through the medium of email in work today.

Because I owned that email exchange.

But today I want to blog about this very blog.

Because I have been something of a blogging machine of late. Yesterday I posted my ninetieth post in ninety consecutive days. Today is my ninety-first post in ninety-one consecutive days.

That’s a pretty good record by anyone’s standards.

And I’ve brought some new stuff to the blog too. Like my slightly rubbish film reviews. Or the genuinely perplexing ‘Magic Penguin’ stories. Or the utterly unhelpful ‘James Explains’.

But some of the ninety-one posts have, I think, been quite good.

Not this one obviously.

But some of them have been.

And now I find myself a mere nine days and nine posts away from hitting a century. A hundred posts in a hundred days.

Will I make it?

Who knows?

Who really cares?

I mean I care a little bit. But it’s not really going to change my life. I won’t even get a celebratory t-shirt.

Maybe I should make a celebratory t-shirt.

That would be cool.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Because I’m not there yet.

Today I’m at ninety-one.

And ninety-one does not make for a cool t-shirt by anyone’s standards.

 

Magic Penguin And The Continuing Lack Of Action

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Magic Penguin, Fat Giraffe and Stupid Donkey were enjoying a few drinks in the Shoe and Phone one afternoon. Fat Giraffe was a little irritated by Stupid Donkey’s appearance in  a second successive story.

“So you’re going to be a regular fixture then?” he asked, failing to mask his animosity.

“Yeah, the writer felt that the series needed another regular character,” said Stupid Donkey.

“Well I thought the first two stories worked quite well as two-handers,” muttered Fat Giraffe.

“I don’t think it really matters,” said Magic Penguin, “as long as I’m in the stories. After all, I am the principal character.”

“Well I think I’m quite important too,” said Fat Giraffe, “what would the Magic Penguin stories be without Fat Giraffe eh?”

“I think we’d get by,” said Magic Penguin.

“Oh, I think you’ll find that the stories would lose something without me,” said Fat Giraffe, “to be honest I’d go as far as to say I’m the only thing holding them together at the moment.”

“I’m not sure that the stories are working though,” said Happy Rhino, “they’re a bit samey really. Nothing much seems to happen in them.”

“Who are you?” asked Magic Penguin.

“I’m Happy Rhino,” said Happy Rhino, “I’ve been brought in to reinvigorate the franchise.”

“But you  weren’t even in the opening paragraph to this story!” exclaimed Fat Giraffe, “where did you come from? This is preposterous.”

“Oh, I’ve been here all along,” said Happy Rhino, “I’ve been in the background of all the stories. You didn’t think it was just you two in the pub all this time did you?”

“I suppose that would be strange,” acknowledged Magic Penguin, “there were bound to be some other patrons.”

“Not to mention staff,” added Ed the Ostrich from behind the bar.

“Hey Ed,” said Fat Giraffe, “how come your name is slightly different to ours?”

“What do you mean?” asked Ed.

“Well, we all seem to have an implausible adjective as our forename and then the kind of animal we are as our surname. Whereas you have a normal name followed by the definite article and only then the kind of animal you are, which suggests that your species isn’t actually part of your name.”

“Oh yeah,” replied Ed, “I’d never noticed that before.”

“Well to be fair, you’ve only been in the story for a few lines,” said Magic Penguin, “maybe we’re asking too much of you.”

“Anyway,” said Stupid Donkey, slightly irritated that he hadn’t had anything to say for a while, “what happened about last week’s cliffhanger?”

“Oh yeah,” said Happy Rhino, “I forgot about that!”

“You didn’t forget,” said Fat Giraffe, “ you weren’t even in the story.”

“Yes I was,” explained Happy Rhino, patiently, “ but as I said before, I was just in the background.”

“So you say,” muttered Fat Giraffe.

“But seriously guys,” continued Stupid Donkey, “what did happen about the cliffhanger.”

“Well, you were definitely there, so I’m surprised that you’ve forgotten,” said Magic Penguin, “but allow me to jog your memory. If you recall, the mysterious stranger was just a red herring. Who went by the name of Red Herring.”

“Oh yeah,” said Fat Giraffe, “and if I remember correctly, Red Herring had a problem, that necessitated an investigation, which resulted in a compelling adventure, with lots of action and some thrilling twists in the tale, before it was all resolved in a satisfactory way”

“That’s right,” said Magic Penguin. “It was exciting stuff alright.”

“So why isn’t that adventure the basis for this week’s story” asked Happy Rhino, “that would seem a much better premise for a tale than whatever this is.”

“True,” said Magic Penguin, “it does seem strange that the writer has chosen to focus the narrative around a boring conversation rather than an exciting adventure story.”

“It’s almost as if he has no respect for the reader,” said Stupid Donkey.

“Yes,” laughed Magic Penguin, “it does seem if he has no respect for the reader at all.”

But Magic Penguin and Stupid Donkey were wrong. The writer did respect the readers.

He just wasn’t a very good writer.

An Early Start

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As he navigated the narrow streets of the old town, Martin noted that the weather was a touch colder than he’d anticipated, and he slightly regretted leaving the warmer of his jackets in his hotel room. The hoodie he had grabbed in his hasty exit was slightly inadequate. It was, however, still quite early and he was optimistic that conditions would improve as the day went on.

Otherwise it would, he felt, be a long day.

He pulled the hoodie tighter and increased his walking pace, hopeful that intensifying his cardiovascular output would counteract the effects of the cold.

As he neared the old docklands, the absence of any kind of sustenance in his morning thus far also began to play on his mind. He checked his watch. He had about ten minutes, time enough for a coffee at least. It was, however, so early, that although there was a plethora of eateries in sight, not one of them was yet open.

There was no time to look further afield so he resigned himself to his hunger and paced along the quay, trying to maintain something approximating a tolerable body temperature.

There was no denying that, at this time of day, the wharf was charming. As the day went on, and tourist numbers increased, some of that charm would inevitably disappear, but at that moment it was a serenely quiet and prepossessing location. Still, Martin would have preferred to be in the warmth of his hotel room, happily dreaming or tucking into room-service scrambled eggs.

Instead he was here, waiting.

The time dragged, and ten minutes turned into fifteen, which turned into twenty. A van pulled into sight, Martin recalled seeing it on previous visits and knew it would eventually add to the numerous waterfront food retailers. He hoped that it would begin trading soon, but the proprietor appeared to be in no rush, seemingly seeing to his own refreshment needs first by way of a small thermos.

Another five minutes went by and still no sign of anyone else.

He checked his phone, and only then did he realise it was on set on silent. He noted three missed calls, all received in the last few minutes and all from the same number. He returned the call. It rang only once and then he heard a familiar and slightly irritated voice.

“Where are you,” asked Martin, struggling to mask his own irritation.

He listened to the reply

“But we said we’d meet by the harbor,” Martin argued, “I’ve been here for ages.”

Had there been any passers-by at that moment they would have struggled to make out the muffled words coming out of Martin’s phone but the frustrated tone would have been all too clear.

“Ok, I’ll see you in a few minutes,” said Martin, “I’m sorry.”

Hanging up, he looked hopefully  at the van and saw with relief that it had now opened for business.

After purchasing a bacon sandwich and much-needed americano, Martin began trudging back to the hotel, to what he already knew would be a reception so frosty that it would make the current temperature seem positively balmy.

 

Better A Witty Fool Than A Foolish Wit

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Today begins a new theme on Artist’s Corner. For the next few weeks I’ll be producing portraits of some of history’s greatest literary and cultural figures. Because what better tribute to these great minds than a slightly rubbish doodle?

Is this a portrait of Shakespeare I see before me?

Er, yes it is.

 

 

Films I Watched When I Was Younger – Issue 4: Gremlins 2 – The New Batch

James Proclaims (6)

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No-one could accuse the 1984 comedy horror movie Gremlins  of taking itself too seriously. But as tongue-in-cheek as the original Gremlins is, the 1990 sequel Gremlins 2: The New Batch is absolutely bonkers. Anarchic and completely irreverent, at the time of its release I was absolutely convinced it was superior to its predecessor.  I was, however, a stupid child and nearly always thought that sequels were better. These days I realise that is rarely the case and sequels that are superior to their forerunners are far from the norm.

Gremlins 2: The New Batch is not at all better than Gremlins, but in many ways a comparison is pointless because they are very different films. Admittedly they are different films that both have scary mischief-making monsters in them but the second Gremlins movie is madder than it’s eponymous antagonists.

The fourth wall takes such a battering throughout the shambles of a narrative that it’s often hard to work out what is actually happening within the story.

Not that it matters, because what Gremlins 2 might lack in terms of a coherent plot, it more than makes up for in its chaotic sense of fun. If the first film struck a balance between horror and comedy, then the emphasis of the sequel is entirely comedic.

Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates reprise their roles as Billy and Kate from the first movie and perform as admirably as ever, and the addition of John Glover as eccentric mogul Daniel Clamp is inspired. Christopher Lee is also a welcome addition as the unsettling Dr Catheter.

As with the first movie though, it’s still the Gremlins themselves that are the stars of the show – in particular the genetically altered ‘Brain Gremlin’, whose musical turn at the movie’s climax still makes me laugh.

However, whereas the original Gremlins has stood the test of time quite well, the satire of the sequel feels a little dated in 2018.

I loved Gremlins 2 so much when it came out that I can still find much to enjoy about it today, but I’m not sure I’d feel the same way if I didn’t have that nostalgic bias and was viewing it for the first time.

Stupidly Happy

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Oh to be an idiot
That would be rather good
I’d like to not know anything
And not know that I should

To be ignorant of my ignorance
To be unaware I’m thick
To have the intellectual capacity
Of a fairly stupid brick

I wish I was dim-witted
That I understood much less
Were I more simple-minded
It would cause me no distress

For knowledge isn’t power
Wisdom is not a helpful trait
And life is rather scary
When you understand your fate

So I would be much happier
Indeed I’d be delighted
If I could spend my whole life
Blissfully benighted

James Explains Jaffa Cakes Amongst Other Things

James Explains

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Welcome back to another ‘James Explains’ – the home of knowledge. But not the home of wisdom.

Or knowledge really.

This is a place where questions will be answered. Not always, admittedly, with the correct answers. But it’s the thought that counts.

And so on with the questions:

Glen who previously asked about combs and then asked about tools and who still resides in Australia asks:

While cookies are baking can it be said the cookies are loading?

I think you’ve mixed up your cookies there Glen, but that’s OK. You can say they’re loading if you like. I have no objections.

But I would ask in return, while cookies are loading can it be said the cookies are baking?

And of course the answer is definitely probably yes.

Haylee who previously asked about lions and bears and hot dogs and is still from the UK but somewhere different in the UK to me asks:

Jaffa, cake or biscuit? (Standard, centuries old dilemma!)

A dilemma indeed, although as they’re called Jaffa Cakes I think it’s obvious they are cakes. Cakes that seem to be quite a lot like biscuits admittedly.

I don’t think it matters. They are what they are and what they are is delicious. I had some cranberry and clementine Jaffa Cakes over the Christmas period and they were tremendous.

And definitely cakes.

That seem a bit like biscuits.

Bryntin, who is from the UK but somewhere different in the UK to either me or Haylee asks:

James, please explain Jacob Rees-Mogg and how he can possibly still not appear aged after leaving university in 1838.

Now this is a mystery and there really can be only one explanation. And that is Jacob Rees-Mogg is a vampire and therefore immortal.

But, I hear you cry, Jacob Rees-Mogg seems to be perfectly happy going out in daylight.

And that is true, he doesn’t mind daylight. But that’s because he’s that rare thing in the world of vampires, the ’Daywalker’.

In fact 1998 movie Blade is actually based quite heavily on the life of Jacob Rees-Mogg. It’s a great film but it did raise some eyebrows at the time because some people thought the casting choice of Wesley Snipes was an interesting direction to go in. But I think Snipes captures the essence of Rees-Mogg fully in that movie and the, frankly brilliant sequel Blade II. I was less sure about his performance in the third Blade movie, but he did his best with a poor script, and it was still probably  better than the forthcoming ‘Blade Brexit’ is going to be. Not much is known about the script but the premise seems to be that the title character becomes the unlikely leader of the Conservative party and in doing so also becomes a Prime Minister without a mandate who leads Britain out of the clutches of the European Union and into economic uncertainty and isolationism. Many think that it’s too far-fetched.

And that’s it for another James Explains. Tune in next week to see if anyone has bothered to ask me any more questions.

If you’d like James to answer a question on James Explains, then why not ask it in the comments below?

 

Dinner, Dinner, Dinner, Dinner, Batman!

James Proclaims (4)

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At the moment I appear to be in quite a bizarre place health wise. The Christmas period certainly did very little to reduce my weight. And by weight I do, of course, mean mass. Weight, as anyone who studied science to a fairly basic level during their school days will know, is a force and is measured in newtons. We measure mass in kilograms, grams etc. (or stones, pounds, ounces etc. if you prefer the imperial system over the metric system. It’s your call, I make no judgements). But conventionally we refer to mass as weight.

And thus, talk about losing weight.

When we should be talking about losing mass.

Call me a pedant if you will, but I don’t want anyone thinking me to be an uneducated oaf because I refer to weight loss when I actually mean mass loss.

Nonetheless, for the sake of accepted convention, I’ll go back to calling it weight.

So long as we all recognise that that is technically incorrect.

Anyway, I clearly didn’t lose a lot of weight over Christmas. But I didn’t gain any either.

Because while I’ve been eating lots of bad stuff, I’ve also been exercising a bit.

And I seem to have struck a balance, whereby my Body Mass Index isn’t getting any better but isn’t really getting worse either.

And that’s fine, because even if I should probably try and lose some weight, I’m perfectly happy to just buy bigger clothes.

As far as I can see, my weight will only become an issue if that ceases to be an option.

And at the moment I’m happily able to buy clothes that fit me from most major retailers.

So, it’s all good.

But as I say, I have been doing quite a lot of exercise.

This is motivated partly through health reasons, because exercise is generally viewed as being a good thing, but it’s also motivated by a desire to be Batman.

Obviously, I’ll never be Batman, he’s a fictional character, and, even if we were to suspend our disbelief and imagine that Batman could actually exist, his alter ego, Bruce Wayne is super rich. So, while Batman’s crime fighting ability comes partly from his supreme fitness, agility and strength, it also comes from having expensive bits of kit, like the Batmobile.

Even if I can get as fit as Batman, I’m not currently rich enough to own a Batmobile. I do have nice little city car that gets me from A to B. It’s great around town, copes with motorways reasonably well, and is relatively economical to run.

But utterly useless for fighting crime with.

So mostly I exercise for health reasons.

But, given the recent world events it’s probably just as well to be in the right physical condition to survive in a post-apocalyptic world.

But I do sometimes wonder (not enough to really do anything about it) whether my policy of exercising a lot but then eating what I want is better or worse than if I had a more sensible diet but did less exercise.

In all likelihood it’s  a moot point because the leftover indulgences from Christmas are nearing their end. I’ll soon be forced to make the decision to eat more healthily or buy more bad stuff in my grocery shop.

And Christmas has wiped me out financially until …er…next Christmas.

So, a sensible diet is probably going to have to be my modus operandi for a while, albeit for reasons of cash flow.

But I presume that will make me healthier.

So ironically, poverty might help me in my quest to be Batman.

But I still think the car is a bit of a barrier to achieving that goal.