Multiple Milestones

James Proclaims (4)

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This post, the one you’re currently reading (if indeed you are reading this) is the 524th post to appear on James Proclaims. Which is not hugely significant in and of itself, but back on October 30th 2017, I had only written a measly 324 posts. On October 31st, I wrote a post about Halloween. Little did I know it at the time, but with that post I was embarking on a blogging odyssey. But I was, and I did and this, my 524th post of all time, is also my 200th post in 200 consecutive days.

It’s a journey which, as the mathematically more astute of you will realise, took me past the milestones of my 400th post and my 500th post, as well as my three year blogiversary. The end of April also saw me complete six months of consecutive blogging, which seems noteworthy for some reason, but probably isn’t.

It started out as me just trying to achieve the feat of writing 30 posts in 30 days throughout November, in an attempt to complete National Blog Posting Month (or NaBloPoMo). At the time I thought I’d struggle to even accomplish that, but now that looks like a miniscule achievement. As well as NaBloPoMo, I also wrote 24 Christmas(ish) themed film reviews in a sort of Advent Calendar  throughout December, and in April I partook in the A-Z blogging challenge, writing mostly about the cartoons of my youth. The other 120 posts have consisted of slightly rubbish poems, even more rubbish doodles, some lamentably pointless reviews of 90s era movies and a few short stories, which aren’t nearly as clever as I thought they were when I wrote them. I’ve also introduced two never-seen-before features to my blog – the utterly inexplicable ‘James Explains’ and the entirely self-indulgent Magic Penguin stories, which are just a bit weird.

And I will continue to post many more unfathomable utterings to these pages for the foreseeable future. This is not the end of James Proclaims. I will proclaim again and I will proclaim soon.

But not tomorrow.

Because while I’ve enjoyed the last 200 days, I really do need to stop posting everyday. I have other things I need to do. They aren’t really things I want to do. A lot of them are beyond dull. But I’ve been putting them off for far too long. About 200 days if I’m honest.

For this has been the ultimate exercise in procrastination.

In the event that anyone is disheartened by the news that I will no longer be blogging on a daily basis then I would like to point out that no-one in their right mind should be at all bothered that a mediocre blogger decides to blog a bit less. But if that news still fails to console you, then rest assured, I’ll still be pedalling my prosaic prose in the blogosphere, just on a slightly less regular basis.

But probably still multiple times a week.

If, by contrast, the news that I’m not giving up blogging is the thing that disheartens you, then I would also point out that you really don’t have to read this stuff. No-one is making you. Unless you’re Mrs Proclaims, in which case I admit that I do make you read it, but you knew what you were getting into when you married me.

Anyway, the point of all this really is that in order to produce my 200th post in 200 days I had to write something.

So I wrote this.

Which is probably something of an anticlimax all things considered.

 

 

James Explains Toppling Penguins Amongst Other Things

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Welcome back to another James Explains, the place where I answer the questions that no-one else can.

Mostly because they weren’t asked those questions.

I was.

So I will answer them.

Because it would be rude not to.

Tragically Uncool has noticed the fairly regular posting of stuff on this blog of late and asks the following:

I got bored and abandoned my blog months ago. Where do you get the energy and inspiration to keep this up?

The truthful answer to this is that I blog more often when I’ve got other stuff I should be doing. The more I post on here, the more real-life work I’m avoiding. On the occasions I disappear from the blogoshpere, it’s never because I’m too busy, but more that I haven’t got anything I’m desperately trying to avoid doing. In recent months I’ve been alarmingly busy at work, and so the blog has blossomed…

Giggling Fattie didn’t think she was asking a question when she wrote the following (but she totally was so I shall answer it):

Every time I see one of these post I always want to comment but I never have any questions to ask! Why don’t I ever have any questions?!

Essentially you don’t have any questions because you already know everything you need to know. The only thing you apparently don’t know is that you know everything. Which is ironic. But thanks to me, you now know that too.

Suze asks this brainteaser of a question:


The six year old next door, we shall call him Sam…of course we will as that is his name…anywho, Sam asks: “how comes you write silly stuff?” good luck with that.

Is Sam talking about your blog or mine Suze? Because I know why I write silly stuff, but I have no idea why you write silly stuff. Unless it’s for the same reason I write silly stuff. Which it might be. In which case, I write silly stuff because I think it’s better for my general sanity if this stuff is written down rather than in my head.

Pete, takes advantage of the discount I gave him last week (see last week’s post if that makes no sense) to ask this:

Here’s my first discounted question – hang on, that means you will ignore it doesn’t it?

No Pete, no question is ignored on James Explains and I will answer this one too. By writing this.

But fine though all those other questions were, it’s Glen who has given us the conundrum of the day by asking this:

Do penguins topple over when they look up in fascination at a plane going overhead?

Of course they do Glen. And if they’re standing in a line (as I understand that all penguins do) then there’s a spectacular domino effect. It’s one of nature’s true wonders.

 

And that’s it for another James Explains. If you have a question that only I can answer then why not post it in the comments below?

 

All That Twitters Is Not Trolled

James Proclaims (4)

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As part of my never ending quest to be able to have my cake and eat it, and then have another slice of cake and eat that too, I have recently taken up swimming.

I mean I had swum before, I used to do it quite a lot as a child, and then for a brief period during my early twenties, but in recent years I have done very little pool-based exercise.

This is mostly because of a lack of pool in which to do that exercise.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of them about, but swimming pools often have erratic opening hours, which don’t fit in with my requirements.

Also other people tend to use them.

Which is a problem.

I love swimming. It’s probably my favourite way to burn calories. It doesn’t even feel like proper exercise  – I find it quite relaxing, almost therapeutic, as I glide through the water, thinking about all the guilt-free cake I’ll be able to consume once I’ve finished.

But ideally I would always have the entire pool to myself.

I really don’t like sharing with others.

It’s a problem that I have in many areas of my life, but it’s particularly problematic with swimming pools.

I think it’s because, during the aforementioned period in my early twenties when I did quite a bit of swimming, I often had the entire pool to myself. It was a serendipitous combination of that particular pool having quite generous opening times and me having a low-paid job with antisocial working hours. I might have been stuck at work while others were in bed, but it did mean I had a lot of free time when others were working their more sociable 9-5s.

And the pool was often quiet when I was free.

And I got used to that state of affairs.

But these days I work the same hours as the vast majority of the rat race and so  when I want to swim, others also want to swim.

And this means I have to share the pool with them.

If I could guarantee I would at least get a lane to myself, I could probably tolerate others in the pool, but even this modest luxury is rarely available.

So for most of my adult life I’ve exercised in other ways, even though I’d prefer to be swimming.

It’s my own fault, a character flaw I need to address, but one I struggle to overcome.

However I have recently discovered a not-too-expensive facility which doesn’t require a huge deviation on my journey to work, and at this facility, if I get the timing right, I rarely I have to share the swimming pool with more than one other person.

Unfortunately to get the timing ‘right’ I have to get there quite early.

As in 6am early.

Although this is clearly madness, in most respects there has been little in the way of significant change to my daily routine, but I have been starting my daily commute  with a slightly different radio show playing in my car.

For the last few years my radio station of choice has been Radio 4, and I mostly listen to the Today programme on my way to work. This is a predominantly news-based show – Radio 4 does not play music. I don’t listen to Radio 4 because I particularly want to keep up-to-date with current affairs, it’s just the latest stop on a nomadic radio journey I’ve been taking since I decided I was too old to listen to Radio 1 anymore. I did continue listening to Radio 1 for a few years after I outgrew their target demographic (which is 15-29 I believe) but there came a point in my early thirties when I knew I had finally become too old  – and that’s because it started to really get on my nerves. I tried Radio 2 for a bit, but while I find some shows on Radio 2 tolerable, it does try and be all things to all people which means it’s only occasionally in line with my particular tastes. As with all people who think they’re cooler than they really are, Radio 6 is probably my natural home, but that’s an exclusively digital station which can’t be picked up on my exclusively analogue car radio.

So Radio 4 it is for now. The Today show is perfectly tolerable, it never hurts to know what’s going on in the world, and, depending on what time I get out of work, the drive home usually offers up something interesting too.

But the show that’s caught my attention on my recent early morning drives to the swimming pool, is charmingly anachronistic.

It’s a short emission called Tweet of the Day. The first time I heard it, I presumed it was referencing the giant social media behemoth that so dominates the news these days.

But rather than offering up the latest moronities from the POTUS, or the pithy views of other social commentators, Tweet of the Day is a show about birds. Actual birds. And the sounds they make.

Which is really quite a nice way to start the day.

A Triennium Of Proclamations

James Proclaims (4)

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Today is my third blogiversary. That’s right, I’ve been doing this blogging malarkey for three whole years now.

Which seems like a respectable amount of time to have maintained a blog.

It’s probably worthy of some kind of recognition.

I should at least get a certificate.

Maybe even a laminated certificate.

I’d like to say I’ve learned a lot in the last three years.

But I haven’t learned a thing really.

Still, after three years, you might think that the novelty would be starting to wear off a little.

But I still enjoy the satisfaction of writing a good post.

Obviously this isn’t a good post.

But I have written some good posts in the last three years.

Or at the very least I’ve written some adequate posts.

I mean they’re not all bad surely?

Anyway, as is customary when celebrating a blogiversary, I will now eat some cake.

It was ‘cake day’ in work today. Every Thursday is cake day. But I was in a meeting when the cake was being served so I missed it. All I got in the meeting was some water. Which is not the same as cake.

So I will have some cake now instead and celebrate my blogiversary.

Feel free to join me.

Although don’t actually come to my house because that would be weird.

 

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Final Thoughts

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It’s been a week since I finished my A-Z of Cartoon Characters as part of my participation in the annual A-Z blogging challenge. As part of the challenge, I’m supposed to write a post reflecting on the whole experience, and never one to overlook my responsibilities, I am doing just that today.

So, what did I learn?

Well, I learned that some of the cartoons I watched when I was a kid were genuinely as good as I remember them being, while others were, perhaps not quite so good.

I enjoyed revisiting them all, but it was definitely a mixed bag in terms of quality. The most disappointing show in terms of really not being as good as I remembered was definitely The Getalong Gang. I can see why I enjoyed it as a kid, but it’s really best lost to the annals of history. If I had to pick a favourite (and I’m not sure that’s possible) then Danger Mouse might well be the one that tops the list, but ask me tomorrow and it’ll no doubt be a different one.

There were, of course, a lot classic cartoons that didn’t make the it into my A-Z and perhaps some of those deserve a brief acknowledgement now, as well as my reasons for overlooking them:

Battle of the Planets/ G-Force Guardians of Space

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I really wanted to include this one, but the problem was, although Battle of the Planets was essentially the same show as G-Force Guardians of Space, it also wasn’t. They were  both English-language adaptations of a Japanese cartoon called Science Ninja Team Gatchaman. So the animation was the same but the names of the characters, their voices and quite a lot of the plot was different. And I was a small child when I watched this show. I’m pretty sure the version I watched as a kid was G-Force Guardians of Space, but truthfully it was all just noise and moving pictures at the time so I might have watched both versions. I couldn’t tell you much about either without re-watching them, and with there being two identical-looking but essentially different cartoons doing the rounds on YouTube, I decided to leave well-enough alone.

Brave Starr

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Brave Starr was on at the same time as something I wanted to watch on a different channel, so I never really watched it much. I liked it when I did watch it, but I’d be hard-pushed to tell you much about it. Other than the fact that Brave Starr’s horse could walk and talk, which was pretty cool.

Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors

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Literally never heard of this one until it started coming up in a lot of the searches I was doing for other cartoons of the era. Seems it was really popular and looks like one I would really have enjoyed. Not quite sure how I missed it.

The Mysterious Cities of Gold

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I remember this was really popular, but like with Brave Starr, I’m sure I was watching something on a different channel when this was on. I think I would have liked it but fate would not allow our paths to cross, so it remains unwatched by me.

Droids/ Ewoks

 

That there were two Star Wars spin-off cartoons in the 80s and I didn’t see fit to include either of them, does seem an oversight. Because Star Wars is my favourite thing of all. But, while I didn’t hate these shows, neither captured my imagination as much as the 26 shows I did write about. Honestly, at the time, I preferred the Getalong Gang to either of these. I was wrong to feel that way obviously, but I was just a child. That neither the droids nor the Ewoks were ever my favourite thing about the movies possibly had something to do with my indifference. Had there been a Darth Vader cartoon, I’d have been an avid viewer, I’m sure.

Voltron

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I had a Voltron toy. I really liked it. But I never saw the cartoon. Was it even on in the UK? My toy came via my cousins from the US, so there’s every possibility that I genuinely never had the opportunity to watch this when I was a kid. There’s a reboot on Netflix at the moment though and I am tempted to give it a go. Because I did like that toy.

I’m certain that there are many more cartoons of my childhood I’ve forgotten – maybe some people can berate me in the comments below.

Who knows, with a bit of research I might find enough for another 26 cartoon-themed posts for next year’s A-Z challenge…

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 26: Zummi Gummi

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And so we come to the end of our journey. And what a journey it’s been. But, as part of this whole A-Z journey, I’m supposed to publish a post in a week, to reflect on all of this, so today I won’t dwell on the previous entries in this collection of cartoon characters, conveniently alphabetised for ease of consumption. But just who is our final entry? The letter today is ‘Z’, but I can assure you that this is no ‘Z-list’ cartoon character.

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Z is for Zummi Gummi

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For how could any compendium of cartoons be complete without including the fantastic Gummi Bears?

One of Disney’s earliest 80s TV show offerings, with a theme song that matches the best of them, Gummi Bears was precursor in many ways for the some of the other Disney greats of the 80s and 90s, such as DuckTales and Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers. But it wasn’t really the same as those shows. It wasn’t really like anything else.

Set in a fairy-tale land, it was evocative of Arthurian legend, and other such tales of yore. It was also charming and funny and full of energy. And bouncing bears of course.

I first saw Gummi Bears in the cinema, the first episode was shown as a featurette before the main film. I can’t even remember what the main movie was that day, but the Gummi Bears cartoon made quite an impression.

I can’t think of a better cartoon to finish my A-Z of cartoon characters that I liked as a child.

 

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 25: Yumi

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Sometimes you just have to ask ‘Y’. But ‘Y’ rarely offers an answer. ‘Y’ is just a letter. But it is a letter that can, and today will, represent a cartoon character in my nostalgic, alphabetical trip down memory lane.

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Y is for Yumi

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Yumi is from the cartoon Ulysses 31. She is blue. Because she is an alien. She’s from the planet Zotra.

Which is all well and good, and you might think Ulysses 31 was just a cartoon show set in space with aliens and stuff, and to me, as a child, that’s exactly what it was. But it turns out it was so much more than that.

Ulysses, is, of course, the name of a book that is notoriously hard to read, by James Joyce. And it turns out that Ulysses 31 took the plot of that novel, but set in the 31st century and, y’know, in space.

And if that sounds improbable, it’s because, well it’s not true at all. But Ulysees 31 was a re-imagining of Homer’s Odyssey. Although, in its own way, so was Joyce’s novel, so actually maybe you could argue the parallels of an 80s space-based cartoon and one of the most lauded works of twentieth-century literature. But you probably shouldn’t

Actually the idea of Homer’s Odyssey being set in space is a bit mad too. And quite a hard concept for a small child to understand.

So I didn’t understand it at all.

But I did really enjoy it.

Because it was set in space, with aliens and stuff.

Also, it was really good.

And the theme tune, when it got going, was pretty catchy too.

 

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 24: X

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X was always going to be the toughest letter in my A-Z of cartoon characters. It’s generally the toughest letter in an A-Z of any subject. Fortunately, the world of cartoons offered me a solution from a time when I thought I’d grown out of cartoons.

X

X is for X

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Professor X that is, otherwise known as Charles Xavier, and founder and leader of the X-Men. When X-Men, the Animated Series first hit our screens in the early nineties, I was already a teenager, and to be fair, not really a big viewer of animation. Some of my friends were into the Japanese Manga cartoons that were doing the rounds back then, but, while I acknowledge there are some excellent Japanese animations out there, it wasn’t really my kind of thing at the time.

No, I’d long sinced moved on from watching cartoons. I was vaguely aware of Batman the Animated Series (a show I would later come to love) but I hadn’t really given it much consideration. Then, one Saturday morning, quite by chance, I caught a few seconds of the new X-Men cartoon. Then I caught a few seconds more. Then I was hooked. Everyone was talking about it in school the following Monday. At first it was brought up surreptitiously, one of my mates dropped it into conversation. Did anyone happen to catch the X-Men on Saturday morning? Turns out we had. Everyone had. And slowly it became apparent that we’d all really got into it.

It was official – cartoons were back on the table.

X-Men: The Animated Series, along with Batman: The Animated Series, paved the way for lots more in the way of superhero offerings, the excellent 90s Spiderman cartoon, The Incredible Hulk, Superman, the list goes on. Obviously there were superhero movies before these cartoons became popular, but I’m pretty sure the current plethora of movies owes a lot to the cartoons of the early nineties recruiting a load of new fanboys who had never even considered picking up a comic book before.

Obviously I’ve chosen Professor X to represent the letter ‘X’ in my little series on cartoon characters, but the character that really resonated with all of us was, rather predictably, Wolverine, and this was when he was depicted wearing yellow spandex, which just goes to show what a cool character he was.

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 23: Willy Fogg

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Who, what, why, where and when? They are all words that being with ‘W’. So are ‘wonderful’, ‘witty’ and ‘wise’. I’m sure you knew that already though. I don’t know what point I’m trying to make really. Except that today’s letter in our A-Z compendium of cartoon characters, from a time period in which I was younger than I am now, has happened upon the letter ‘W’. So let’s see which whimsical creation we’re dealing with today.

W

W is for Willy Fogg

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Brought to you by the same people who brought you the amazing Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds, Around the World with Willy Fogg was another adaptation of a literary classic, with anthropomorphic animals as the protagonists. In this case, the novel in question was Around the World in Eighty Days, by Jules Verne. I haven’t read that book any more than I’d read The Thee Musketeers so I can’t comment on the fidelity of the animation to the original story. There were subtle changes that anyone could spot obviously. For example, the protagonist of the novel being called Phileas, whereas (fortuitously for this ‘W’ themed post) the protagonist of the cartoon was called Willy. Also the protagonist of the cartoon was an anthropomorphic lion, and I don’t believe that was the case in the novel. I could be wrong though, maybe he was a lion. Maybe I should read the book. Or a book at the very least. It might be a more suitable pastime for a man of my age than watching old cartoons.

Around the World with Willy Fogg was a fairly diverting cartoon. I remember watching it regularly and I remember enjoying it. It was very similar in tone and aesthetic to Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds, but it didn’t quite capture my imagination in the same way as that cartoon did. But, the theme-tune, if not quite as instantly catchy, certainly grows on you after a few listens.

 

 

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 22: Venkman

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It’s the 25th day of April and victory is in sight. Well that’s if you can count the the act of writing 26 cartoon-themed blog posts in alphabetical order, within a thirty day period as something it’s possible to be victorious in. Perhaps it is, or perhaps there are no winners in this race. Or more pertinently we’re all winners. Perhaps I should avoid talking about winners until tomorrow, as that is the ‘W’ post. Today I should stick to the term ‘victory’ as the designated letter is ‘V’. But, in the battle to represent ‘V’, just who was victorious?

V

V is for Venkman

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I love everything Ghostbusters. I loved the original 1984 movie, I loved the slightly inferior, but still great 1989 sequel and I liked the 2016 reboot, which was not as good as it could have been but much better than perhaps it should have been.

But more than all of those, I loved The Real Ghostbusters, the spin off cartoon that ran from 1986-1991.

Sorry, did I say I loved the cartoon more than the original movie. Obviously that’s not true at all. It was nowhere near as good as the first film. Let’s not lose our heads in all this nostalgia.

But it was a good cartoon, with some notable deviations from the movie. The most obvious of these was that the Harold Ramis character, Egon, had white hair in the cartoon. Also Slimer, the green ghost who was primarily a minor, though memorable, antagonist in the movie, was part of the team. Because a loveable ghost made it easier to sell merchandise probably. The show was called The Real Ghostbusters rather than just Ghostbusters, was because there was a different Ghostbusters cartoon around at the time, which had nothing to do with the movie. I didn’t watch the other Ghostbusters cartoon (I don’t know anyone who did) but The Real Ghostbusters was an after school favourite for many years.

Peter Venkman was my favourite character. He was obviously played by the brilliant Bill Murray in the movies but he was voiced by Lorenzo Music in the cartoon (who was also the voice of Garfield – so perhaps appropriate that Bill Murray would later go on to voice Garfield in the movie version of that particular franchise). Apparently Lorenzo Music was replaced after season 2, which I don’t recall, although that could be because I was just a kid and didn’t notice such things. Lorenzo Music did have a distinctive voice though, so more it’s likely that I didn’t watch too many episodes after season 2, which is entirely plausible given that together, seasons 1&2 totalled 78 episodes. I definitely don’t remember the show changing it’s name to Slimer and the Real Ghosbusters, but apparently this happened from season 4 onwards. I’m not sure how I feel about that; Slimer was a great image for lunchboxes, but I’m not sure the character contributed as much to the show as the actual Ghostbusters.

Having re-watched a few episodes of the first season in preparation for writing this, I can say they hold up pretty well after all this time. Definitely a fitting homage to one of the greatest movies of all time.