There Is No ‘I’ In T-E-A-M

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There are things that I am bad at
Which are a strength of yours
So if we work together
We might accomplish more

It seems to make more sense
For our skills to be combined
If we share our talents
We can leave our woes behind

It won’t be a partnership
Built on equality
My abilities are few
And my work lacks quality

No, I don’t bring that much
In terms of aptitude
And some might call me lazy
Though I think that’s rather rude

But though, throughout the years,
I’ve been more inclined to fail
I’m happy to succeed this time
By riding your coattails

James Explains The Fundamental Disappointment Of Existence Amongst Other Things

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Welcome to another James Explains, the bit of my blog where I answer questions that other people have asked. I don’t necessarily answer them correctly but an inability to respond to enquiries accurately doesn’t seem to be the barrier to success that it once was.

Indeed professing to be an expert in things that one knows nothing about seems to be almost a prerequisite for career advancement these days.

And so let the alternative facts begin…

Glen poses the following brainteaser:

“Do our idyllic childhood memories set us up for a life of disappointment when inevitably many aspects of adult life do not measure up to how we first conceived of them from our cocooned viewpoint as ‘babes in the woods’ or… are we all really on our own Wizard of Oz ‘Peak behind the Curtain’ journeys where the ultimate goal is acquiring wisdom and understanding without being brought undone by the occupational hazards of accompanying bitterness and disillusionment?”

To be honsest Glen, by the time I got to the end of that question, I had pretty much forgotten how it all began. I find that my attention span isn’t what it once was. Or is it? I don’t know. I can’t remember if I ever had much of an attention span. Probably not. More to the point, am I actually answering your question at all? Let me revisit the question again…

(Musical interlude while James goes back to read the question)

Right, I think I’ve got this. Adult life is inherently disappointing, and we are definitely prone to reminiscing about better times. But they never happened. Life was always rubbish, and the only reason we might not have thought that when we were kids is because we were stupid. Although, even as an infant I was a little world weary in truth.

Pete has more of a gripe than a question this week:

I wish to complain that you failed to answer my last question! I am incensed, and I feel that you have abused my human rights.

I cannot remember what I asked, but I’m sure that it was really important.

What compensation am I entitled to?

Well, Pete, we at James Explains endeavour to provide the very best in question-answering services and we are sorry that we have not met your expectations on this occasion. We will be taking a good long look at ourselves after this. As to compensation, you will of course be entitled to a full refund, and a substantial discount on any future questions you may choose to ask.

Suze, who seems to have no genuine grievances but can’t resist a bandwagon when she sees one, has this to say:

I’m with Peter…how much money are you going to pay me to go away and/or start asking additional questions?

Suze, I feel you are being a tad opportunistic here, but I can’t fault you for that. I’m prepared to offer you an additional 30% on top of your usual fee.

These Were Humans has this divine enquiry:

Can you explain why my favourite deity is the ancient Babylonian god Nergal?

In truth I’m not overly familiar with Nergal’s work, but having quickly looked him up via the magic of the internet, it seems to me he was quite a cheeky chappy. So that’s probably why you like him.

Haylee is konfused and asks the following:

Kan you please explain Kanye?

In truth Haylee I kan’t explain Kanye. I’m not even really sure what a Kanye is. From my research, I understand that he might be a person if that helps. There might also be a link with something called a Kardashian? Which, as I recall were the bad guys on one of the Star Treks. To be honest I’m way out of my depth here.

Right, that’s enough explaining for this week. If you ask a question below I might explain it next week.

Admittedly I might not.

Only time will tell.

 

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…

Lofty Ambitions

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Today I have a goal
A target I must hit
It really won’t be easy
But I’m not going to quit

I will persevere all day
Until I achieve my aim
I’ve failed at this before
But today I’ll up my game

It might be a touch ambitious
A bit beyond my scope
But if I try my best
Then there will always be hope

I feel that I am ready
I’m prepared to dig quite deep
I’ve done all the groundwork
Though the learning curve was steep

So today I shall prevail
I’ll not falter, I’ll not fall
Yes today will be the day
That I’ll do nothing much at all

Life Style

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With a mug of supposedly ‘artisan’ coffee (at least according to the packaging from which he had extracted the pod) in one hand and his brand new, state of the art, smartphone in the other, Ronald opened up the supermarket app and attempted to complete his weekly grocery shop from the comfort of his cream leather sofa. In the background, a digital ‘box set’ was playing on his 4K Ultra HD TV. He couldn’t really give the show his full attention, but he rarely gave any one thing his full attention these days and he needed groceries fairly urgently. Well, perhaps ‘urgently’ was overstating the case. He had a fridge full of perfectly edible food, but none of it much complied with the new diet regime that he was fully committed to starting immediately.  He’d read about it online while he had been working out on his, recently acquired, top of the line elliptical crosstrainer, (with integrated table holder) that morning and it seemed like just the thing he needed to kickstart his new lifestyle change.

Once the app was open, he clicked on his ‘favourites’ tab, and scrolled down, sadly shaking his head. He couldn’t believe he had been filling his body with this filth for all these years. But not any more. Now he was going to do things the right way. Searching for the products he needed, as none of these were listed in amongst his usual purchases, he began to fill his virtual shopping basket. He selected a delivery time of first thing the following morning, and clicked through the screens to the payment page. The shopping basket came in at just under the minimum price required for ‘free delivery’ (it wasn’t actually free of course, he paid a monthly subscription for the privilege of being able to choose any delivery slot he wanted). The relatively small price of his grocery bill was, to Ronald, confirmation that he was doing the right thing, and he was certain that the financial savings was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of  the benefit he was going to feel one his new diet had become established. But he still needed to hit the minimum order value, so he added in some of his favourite biscuits to make up the amount, After all, he reasoned, even under his new healthy regime, he would still need the occasional treat.

He clicked through the remaining screen to confirm his order and turned his attention to the TV. It looked as though he might have missed a significant plot point so he ‘rewound’ the show a few minutes to enable him to make sense of what he was watching.

There was the sound of post hitting the mat. It amazed Ronald that he still received letters. He knew most of it would be junk-mail, but he couldn’t relax fully knowing that it was there, so he went to collect it from the front door. It was, as expect, mostly promotional literature from companies who either had not worked out how to use the internet for their marketing, or had but still wanted to cover all their bases. Ronald sifted through it to see if there was anything of interest. There was something from a wine shop he sometimes used, which he thought might be worth a look. There was also something from his bank. It was marked ‘URGENT’ in bold red on the envelope, but Ronald was less than convinced that this was the case. He was close to his overdraft limit, he knew, but his credit card was far from maxed out.

Availing himself of another coffee, he returned to his box-set and considered whether he needed to purchase a case of reasonably-priced Merlot.

I Am So Clever That Sometimes I Don’t Understand A Single Word Of What I Am Saying

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Welcome back to Artist’s Corner, the bit of my blog where I wow the world with my artistic talents. Of which I have few.

Prior to my April love letter to the cartoons of my youth, I was using this bit of my blog to pay homage to some of the great literary figures of days gone by. To be fair, they were mostly literary figures whose work I’d never read.

I don’t profess to be an educated man. I mean I am an educated man of sorts, just not a well-educated man. I can read. I just tend to read stuff that isn’t very challenging.

But happily, today’s literary great is someone I can get on board with, because I do enjoy a bit of Oscar Wilde. Indeed I’ve paid homage to the great man on this blog before – in this brilliant piece I wrote way back in the early days of my blogging adventure.

So, it only seems appropriate to pay homage to him again.

Mainly because I drew a picture of him.

Although, I do live Reading, which is of course where he spent some time. Granted, that time was spent in Reading Prison (then known as Reading Gaol) so I don’t suppose he was too fond of the place. I wouldn’t hold that against him. It’s not like he deserved to go to prison, he was just unfortunate to live in less enlightened times.

Indeed, as a town, we are rather fond of our Oscar Wilde connection. Reading Prison ceased actually being a prison back in 2013 and last year it opened its doors to the public for a brief period of time, when it was used to host an art exhibition. I went to it and it was pretty good. Some of the art went over my head a bit, but the history of the prison was a genuinely intriguing reflection of social evolution over the last hundred(ish) years.

Wilde’s cell was open to the public during the exhibition, but, as it had been a working prison up until it’s recent closure, his cell was pretty much the same as all the other cells. Which were all horrible and definitely served as a reminder to me not to commit any crimes.

Or at least not to get caught.

There are a lot of rumours about what is going to be done with the old prison now it’s no longer in use.

One rumour is that they’re going to turn it into a theatre.

I think Wilde would appreciate the irony in that.

 

Films I Watched When I Was Younger – Issue 12: Last Man Standing

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1996’s Last Man Standing is one of those movies that, on paper, looks like it should be an absolute winner. Bruce Willis plays the nameless hero/antihero who goes, for the sake of convenience, by the name of John Smith. Christopher Walken is suitably unsettling as Hickey, the only credible threat to Smith’s supremacy with a firearm. The rest of the cast is decent. The film looks stylish, shot in mood enhancing sepia tones and the film draws on strong source material – being a remake of the much-lauded Japanese movie Yojimbo, which also served as the inspiration for A Fistful of Dollars.

This particular take on the theme of the nameless stranger who takes on all comers, also takes an interesting deviation from the classic western it could have been, instead moving the action to the prohibition era. It’s still set in a ‘one-horse town’ but the bad-guys are booze running gangsters. It’s an interesting take on the theme, and again, on paper, a gangster/Western mash-up sounds quite promising in a leave-your-brain-at-the-door kind of way.

So it should be pretty good right? Bruce Willis in his heyday, taking on Christopher Walken in a shoot-em-up sounds like a lot of fun. Sure, it’s not going to win any awards, but for just over a hundred minutes it should be guaranteed entertainment.

And that’s the problem with Last Man Standing. It isn’t much fun. It’s a bit boring really. For a movie that comes in well under two hours, it feels a lot longer.

It’s not really a bad film, there’s nothing wrong with any of the performances, it looks pretty good and the movie pretty much delivers the story you’d be expecting from the outset. There are no surprises, no clever twists, and that’s all fine because surely no-one is watching this movie other than as pure mindless escapism. But, sadly, there really isn’t much of that on offer either.

 

Desperate Lover

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I know I said I’d write
A poem about you
But I can’t do it now
Cos I really need the loo

You know that I adore you
And I would try to write it first
But I just can’t hold it in
Cos I’m about to burst

My poem will be lovely
I’m sure you will agree
But it’s hard to be creative
When you badly need to pee

It might be disappointing
And you might feel aggrieved
But I can’t find the right words
Until I feel relieved

So please excuse me now
I’m afraid I must disperse
But I’ll soon be in a state
To woo you better with my verse

James Explains Some Stuff That No-one Asked Him To Explain

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Welcome back to another James Explains.

It’s been a while since I last donned my explaining socks (which are, essentially, just ordinary socks that I’ve chosen to call ‘explaining socks’), to answer the questions posed to me by other people. People like you. Assuming you are people. Which is the only assumption I can make, given my (probably limited) understanding of the way things  work. Maybe you’re an alien, or a robot, or a dog that can read. Or all of those things. Or none of those things. How can I possibly know? What kind of crazy world do we live in now, where alien-robot-dogs are able to read my blog? And why would such a being even want to read my blog?

To be fair, the answer to that is probably that, in anticipation of a world in which we are taken over by alien-robot-dogs, all of my content has been specially crafted to appeal to such beings. It’s why, if you’re a human reading this, you might sometimes feel slightly alienated, almost as if this stuff was never really meant for your consumption.

But enough of this nonsense. Just so long as everyone understands that come the day our supreme overlords decide to take control, I will be in a position of significant influence and power.

But until such a time, lets pretend that this blog is meant to be read by people and that those people have questions that they need me to answer.

The only problem is that it’s been over a month since I last wrote a James Explains, so I don’t have any questions that need answering.

I don’t think I do anyway. I could go back and look at the comments section of previous James Explains to see if there are any questions I didn’t get around to answering, but that seems like quite a lot of effort to go to. Instead I could just use this post as an opportunity to announce that James Explains is back and if you do have any questions that you need answering, then post them in the comments section below and I might, one day, get around to answering them. Possibly even as soon as next week.

Then again, it wouldn’t be a proper James Explains, if I didn’t at least answer some questions. I have been known, in the past, to answer questions that I’ve posed to myself, but even that seems like more effort than I’m really prepared to put into this today.

Instead I’m going to answer some Frequently Asked Questions that appear on some websites that I looked at. They’re all from different websites, because it turns out that people frequently ask different things of different businesses. In most cases the businesses have already answered these questions themselves, so all I’m offering here is a helpful second opinion.

Question 1, which may have something to do with air travel, is:

Can I bring infant equipment?

As opposed to fully grown equipment? If you think it’s up to the job then please do. I always say if it’s up to the task, it’s old enough, but you will be responsible for any equipment in your care, infant or otherwise.

Question 2, which might have something to do with TV licencing is:

How do I tell you about an unoccupied address or empty property?,

However you want to tell me. There’s no right or wrong way of doing this. It’s not especially bad news, so you don’t need to prepare the ground, particularly. If you’d like to compose a sonnet or a witty limerick to convey the information then that’s always appreciated, but a simple mundane email should suffice.

Question 3, which might have something to do with paying credit card bills, is:

What sort code and account number should I use for my payments?

It’s generally good form to use your own sort code and account number. I believe anything else might be construed as fraudulent. But I’ll leave it to your own discretion.

Question 4, which might be related to staying in a hotel, is:

Can I chat to someone in Customer Services?

I’d prefer you didn’t. They’re all busy people and they really don’t have time to chat. I’m not paying them to sit around chatting. Admittedly I’m not paying them at all. But I imagine the hotel chain feels the same as I do about this. Although you wouldn’t know that from their own answer, which provides a phone number and everything. That’s no way to run a business is it?

 

There we go, some FAQs answered, and answered well, if I do say so myself. If you have any LFAQs (or Less Frequently Asked Questions) for me, then do ask them in the comments below.

 

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.