Don’t Call It A Comeback

James Proclaims (4)

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It is the 18th November, which quite possibly means that Christmas is nearly upon us. It also means that I haven’t troubled the blogosphere for a good four months. At least I imagine it’s been a good four months if you really don’t like my writing. But then I would hypothesise that you wouldn’t be reading this. And you wouldn’t have noticed my lack of blogging in the last four months. So, whether the last four months were good or not would have had absolutely nothing to do with my latest hiatus from this blog. On the other hand if you do like my cyber compositions then you might have been a little miffed that I haven’t produced anything for a while. Indeed 2019 has been rather sparse in terms of content for this plugged-in periodical.

I should probably begin this post with an ablogogy.

Ablogogy is a term I’ve just coined. It can be defined as follows:

ablogogy

[ uh-blog-uh-jee ]

noun, plural a·blog·o·gies.

An insincere written or spoken expression of one’s regret, remorse, or sorrow for having failed to write anything on one’s blog for a considerable period of time. Ablogogies are issued in the vain hope that anyone gives a crap, but with the knowledge that, in fact, no-one has either noticed or particularly cared that one hasn’t written an anodyne post about cabbages for a while.

 

Now that we’ve got that over with, I can perhaps try and write something of substance.

Although that would be quite a departure from my usual utterings, and I haven’t changed that much in the last few months.

As it is currently November, I’m suffering with my annual state of Novemberitis. Which is absolutely a real condition and not something I’ve just made up.

Many people choose to survive November by writing novels, others grow moustaches in an apparent attempt to raise awareness of something. I have considered, but ultimately abandoned, both of these ideas in the past. Occasionally I try to overcome the melancholies of November by producing more content for this blog, but aside from five posts in January, one in April and two in July I have written nothing in 2019, so producing any content this November would be an upturn in fortunes.

Although if this is the best I can do, then perhaps my extended absence was no great loss.

I expect much has changed in the world since my last attempt to kick-start this increasingly dormant blog into existence.

Although Brexit appears to still be a thing.

And there’s another election on the horizon and they’re always fun.

My own existence has largely been dominated by my increasingly mobile and intrepid daughter.

I am very much enjoying being a father but I’m also tired all of the time. Even as I write this my beloved offspring is tearing around the room, occasionally popping over to my workspace (which takes up a corner in what is apparently now her room, although it was very much my office until she arrived on the scene. I suppose it was always theoretically an office/guestroom but given that Mrs Proclaims and I have always discouraged guests it was pretty much my space. Now it’s very much hers and I am permitted the use of a corner on the basis that there is nowhere else in our tiny abode for my computer to live) to tamper with my keyboard and insert random symbols into my prose. I imagine I will have deleted her efforts by the time I publish this, but I suppose she makes a convenient scapegoat for any typos that may appear.

Anyway, I return to the blogosphere this day in order to proclaim my intention to return to blogging more frequently from now on.

But I’ve made such promises before and utterly failed to live up to them.

And really, whether I blog or not is of no great consequence.

So, this entire post is completely pointless.

Which, in fairness, is pretty much in line with everything else I’ve ever written.

It’s All Kicking Off

James Proclaims (4)

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It’s been a while since I last blogged. Possibly that is due to a certain amount of blogging fatigue accrued during the ‘200 posts in 200 days’ marathon of blogging that preceded this latest hiatus.

Or possibly I had nothing to say.

Then again, having nothing to say has never been a particular barrier before.

So maybe it was blogging fatigue after all.

Anyway, I appear to have been inspired to post something today.

I’m not sure why.

Perhaps it’s the fact that the World Cup started today.

I always enjoy the World Cup, although I’m not entirely sure why. I wouldn’t class myself as an aficionado of football, or sport in general for that matter. I’m definitely something of an armchair fan though.

I’ve always been a big fan of armchairs.

But I do like watching sport a bit, even though I play very little sport.

The World Cup has attracted some controversy this year, what with it being hosted in Russia, a country with a questionable human rights record.

I’m currently watching the opening game. Russia are playing Saudi Arabia, a country with a questionable human rights record.

It’s hard to know who to support really.

Then again, that sentiment could be applied to the whole tournament.

My own beloved Wales will not be there, having failed to qualify, which is not an unusual state of affairs.

I usually default to supporting England, but they never do that well either.

To be honest though, I generally enjoy watching all the matches, regardless of who is playing.

Mrs Proclaims does not share my enthusiasm.

In that regard we very much conform to stereotype.

I’d like to think that in other ways we don’t, but I’m struggling to come up with any good examples of us defying stereotypes.

It’s probably because I’m watching the football.

 

 

Unleash Your Lethargy

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Sorry that I didn’t
Do that thing I said I’d do
I didn’t get around to it
Because I didn’t want to

It’s not that I am lazy
(Though you could say that of me)
But I really see no purpose
In being as busy as a bee

It’s hard to really care about
A task that’s wearisome
When there are so many vices
To which I could succumb

So spare me all your judgments
About my attitude
And let me get straight back
To a state of hebetude

 

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.

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

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

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.

 

Good Intentions, Bad Results

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This morning I didn’t shower
Because I wanted to exercise
And it seemed pointless to shower
Before I exercised

But the day went on
And I didn’t exercise
Because the requisite motivation
Escaped me

And everytime I found motivation
Something else came up
Like meals
Meals got in the way
Because you can’t exercise
Immediately after eating
But you’ve got to eat right?

And other tasks needed doing
And you can’t neglect your life
While you’re waiting to find motivation
To do something you don’t want to do
But once you’ve started a task
You can’t just stop
Because you want or need to do something else
Otherwise nothing would get finished

So the day went on
And jobs got done
And food was eaten
And it wasn’t a bad day per se
But I didn’t exercise
And so I didn’t shower either
Which seems a gross oversight
With the benefit of hindsight

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 21: Uni

James Proclaims (4)

Today I’m looking at ‘U’. Because that it the letter we’re up to in my A-Z of cartoon characters of my childhood. But, and I know this seems grammatically incorrect (even though it isn’t) – who is ‘U’?

U

‘U’ is for Uni (the Unicorn)

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Dungeons and Dragons was a pretty dark show as kids cartoons went. It was also brilliant. And slightly horrifying.

The premise is that some kids go on a ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ ride (whatever that was supposed to be – I’m not sure a fantasy role-playing game really lends itself to a roller-coaster but who am I to judge?) at a theme park, and rather than the thrill of a quick adrenaline rush, they get transported into an alternative reality called ‘The Realm of Dungeons and Dragons’. And it’s a pretty scary place, with a five-headed dragon and an evil wizard called Venger who wants to do them harm. Fortunately they meet someone called the Dungeon Master, who gives them magical weapons and they also meet a unicorn called Uni (brilliant name for a Unicorn no?) who seems to be more of a liability than anything. With these new weapons they set about trying to find a way out of the realm, and back home to their lives.  After many adventures, and one false dawn after another, they finally do get home.

Except, they don’t.

There was never a concluding episode to Dungeon and Dragons, so as far as we can tell those poor kids are still trapped there. Although it’s been, what, over thirty years, so they won’t be kids anymore. That’s if they survived.

Allegedly there was going to be a final episode, where the kids did all have the opportunity to leave, but it never got made.

Which is a bit rubbish really.

But it was a still an amazing cartoon.

 

On a completely separate note, it turns out that this is my 500th post on James Proclaims. That seems like quite a lot, so I should probably be congratulated for achieving this. Feel free to praise me to excess in the comments section below!

Forlornly Fatigued

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Sometimes when I feel tired
I’m not really that nice
And it’s better to avoid me
Or make interactions more concise

I don’t mean to be so grumpy
Like a bear with a sore head
But I’m not very good at coping
When I spend too little time in bed

I’ll be much better tomorrow
When I’ve had a chance to rest
But today will be a challenge
And I won’t be at my best

So I wouldn’t bother trying
To engage with me today
I’ll be morose and sulky
If I cannot get my way

Better just to ignore me
And pretend that I’m not here
I might be a little joyless
But there’s nothing much to fear

Although it might help a little
If you want to cheer me up
To give me lots of chocolate
And pour some coffee in my cup

Domestic Drudgery

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Oh carpet on the floor
What’s with all the crumbs?
I vacuumed only last week
From where did they all come?

I’m sure that I just ironed
All those crumpled shirts
That they need another pressing
Rather disconcerts

Those dirty plates and cups
Are back sitting in the sink
But I only washed them yesterday
I don’t know what to think

Those walls now look quite shabby
But they were fine not long ago
Is there any point in painting them?
Would it all just be for show?

There really is too much to do
And none of it is fun
And as soon as I have finished
It all needs to be redone

Better not to start at all
And leave things in a mess
I’d rather live in squalor
It brings so much less stress

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 13: Montgomery Moose

James Proclaims (4)

It’s day 13 of the A-Z challenge, which means, if my maths is correct, we’re halfway through the alphabet. Which probably means I should write about a cartoon character that begins with ‘M’, given that ‘M’ is very much the 13th letter in the aforementioned alphabet.

M

M is for Montgomery Moose

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This is probably the most disappointing entry on the list because I remembered The Getalong Gang as being really good. And having recently watched a few episodes on You Tube, I can see that it really wasn’t any good at all. They only made 13 episodes of it and it was a saccharine-fuelled bore-fest that occupied the moral high-ground at every available opportunity. It was commissioned by a greetings cards company to sell…er…. greetings cards. I suppose the clue was in the title – a cartoon called The Getalong Gang was hardly going to be edgy was it?

Still, I did love it at the time.

Montgomery was the leader and according to the show’s theme tune ‘he’s such a good sport’. But from the few episodes I’ve re-watched he was easily the most boring of all the really boring characters. Bingo ‘Bet-it-All’ Beaver had something about him, but his independent spirit was regularly crushed by the other gang members so in the end he conformed just like everyone else. I think I liked the show because the gang’ (or possibly cult) had a cool clubhouse in an abandoned caboose. I didn’t actually know what a caboose was, but it was on rails so I assume it was something to do with trains. I can’t imagine anyone would just abandon one so the gang must actually have been trespassing. Maybe they had a bit of edge about them after all.

To be fair, the theme tune was pretty catchy too.

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 10: Joker

James Proclaims (4)

It’s day 10 of the A-Z challenge, which brings us up to the letter ‘J’, I had to resist my natural urges to go with a cartoon character called James. There is no shortage of them either, and I kind of did like a lot of them. Indeed, it would be remiss of me not to at least give some of them a nostalgic nod, so before we move on to the main focus of today’s post, let’s hear it for all of the cartoon Jameses out there. In no particular order, here are a few of the best:

James the Cat

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James the Red Engine off of Thomas the Tank Engine (I’m not sure if stop-motion animation counts as a cartoon but it’s close enough for my purposes)

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Jimbo  off of Jimbo and the Jet Set

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Jimbo off of The Simpsons

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Jamie off of Jamie and the Magic Torch

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And, lest we forget, the inimitable James T Kirk off of Star Trek: the Animated Series.

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The cartoon, which is the focus of today’s entry, also had a character called James, who was reasonably important – Commissioner James Gordon.

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But there was another ‘J’ character who was a touch more memorable:

J

‘J’ is for Joker

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I touched upon the high quality of superhero cartoons in the 1990s in yesterday’s post, but even by the high standards of the era, Batman: The Animated Series was particularly strong. Partially inspired by the Tim Burton movies that preceded it, Batman: The Animated Series was darker in tone that your average cartoon, and dealt with more complex themes and ideas. It was visually very stylish, noiresque and slightly offbeat – the animated Gotham City was a skewed, surreal reflection of reality, which served the narrative well. The stories, were for the most part, pretty well written, but it was the vocal talent that gave the show it’s edge over other animated shows. Listen to Kevin Conroy as Batman, and every other actor who has ever portrayed him just sounds wrong. However it’s the episodes which feature the Joker which really elevate the show above pretty much every other superhero cartoon, and the majority of live-action movies. Voiced by none-other than Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill, the Joker is beyond superlatives. Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the villain is often seen as the definitive version of Batman’s arch-nemesis, Jack Nicholson’s performance has its advocates, and I’ve always had a soft spot for Cesar Romero’s incarnation in the sixties TV show. But though he only lends his voice to the character, Hamill’s performance has to be considered among the best. He’s just so unhinged and manic, and it’s never really clear why he does any of the things he does, which is, I suppose, the essence of the character.

Without Hamill’s performance as the Joker, Batman: The Animated Series would probably still be virtually peerless as animated series go,  but with it, the bar is raised considerably higher.

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 9: Iceman

James Proclaims (4)

Day 9 of the A-Z Challenge, and this is where I come into my own. Sorry, this is where ‘I’ comes into its own. ‘I’ can be confusing at times. So can I, but for different reasons. ‘I’ is a first person nominative singular pronoun, whereas I am definitely not a first person nominative singular pronoun. I am just inclined to write confusing paragraphs like this one, whereas ‘I’, being a letter, is unable to write anything as all, though is frequently used in the written form by people like me to write confusing paragraphs like this one.

But enough of this letter-based fun and onto some other letter-based fun involving my love of cartoons.

I

I is for Iceman

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There have been many Spiderman cartoons over the years. I’ve enjoyed quite a few of them. Probably my favourite was the cartoon from the 1990s, which was a vintage period for superhero-based animation. Alongside Spiderman, there were other Marvel offerings such as The X-Men, The Incredible Hulk and The Fantastic Four, which were all pretty great. DC, meanwhile, gave us Batman: The Animated series, which spawned Superman: The Animated Series and subsequently The Justice League, and The Justice League Unlimited cartoons. There have been multiple animated offerings from both DC and Marvel over the years, but the 1990s was a particularly golden time, when the animation was of a high standard and was, crucially, matched by the narratives for the most part.

However, the cartoon I’m focusing on today is from the early 1980s. It was called Spiderman and his Amazing Friends. The ‘amazing friends’ were the aforementioned Iceman and another character called Firestar.

Iceman, AKA Bobby Drake, was originally an ‘X-man’, but there has always been plenty of crossover between Marvel’s various franchises and so it’s reasonable that he was requisitioned for this particular cartoon. Firestar was created specifically for Spiderman and his Amazing Friends, but has subsequently joined the X-Men in the world of comic books. If I speak as something of an authority on the subject of Marvel comics then don’t be fooled, I’ve never read a comic book in my life. I’m pretty handy with a Google search though. Having said I’ve never read a comic book is in no way meant to detract from the fact that I absolutely love superhero cartoons and movies. That I’ve never really explored the source material, doesn’t mean I’m not grateful that it exists – I just prefer my superheroes to be on screen rather than in print.

I loved Spiderman and his Amazing Friends when I was a child. Indeed, it’s something of a testament to how much I was enthused by it that, even though Spiderman was pretty much my favourite superhero growing up, I actually might’ve had a slight preference for Iceman in this particular series. He was both figuratively and, I suppose, literally cool. I loved the way he transformed by freezing himself in a block of ice and then breaking out of it. All Spiderman did, by comparison, was put on a costume. I also liked the way that Iceman travelled around, by creating his own ice-travelator. Firestar, who completed the trio, was also great. I re-watched a few episodes in preparation for writing this post and the show held up surprisingly well. It is a little dated and doesn’t really hit the standards set by the 1990s Spiderman series, but it was really quite watchable. Also there is a surprising amount of sexual tension between the characters for what was, essentially, a children’s cartoon.

Where Did All The Chocolate Go?

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Where did all the chocolate go?
I had so much last week
But now I cannot find it
No matter where I seek?

It seems strange that it is gone
There was a plentiful supply
But it’s nowhere to be seen
And I really don’t know why

Ok I did eat some of it
Back on Easter Sunday
And I consumed a little more
During Bank Holiday Monday

And yes I might have had some
On Tuesday after lunch
And a delightful bit of Easter Egg
On Wednesday I did munch

But on Thursday there was plenty left
I know because I had some
And though I tried hard to abstain
On Friday I did succumb

But I hadn’t finished all of it
As Saturday was dawning
So I might have had a smidgen
To see me through the morning

But now it seems to have all gone
What has become of it?
And here’s another mystery
My trousers don’t now fit!

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 7: Grumpy Bear

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Can it already be the 7th April? Why, that must mean that we’re up to ‘G’ in my mawkish retrospective of the cartoons of my youth. And today doubles as something of a confessional, as I reveal one of my guiltier pleasures from back in the day.

G

G is for Grumpy Bear

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The Care Bears were really aimed at girls and I was very much a boy. Add to this the fact that it was the 1980s, when it was generally considered ‘not ok’ for a boy to like stuff that was aimed at girls (I’d like to imagine that today we live in more enlightened times, but I expect I’m wrong about that) and I wasn’t really supposed to like the Care Bears. But I did quite like the Care Bears. Perhaps I’ve always been a sensitive soul and the notion that all the world’s problems could be solved by just ‘caring a bit more’ appealed to me on some level. Or maybe I just liked the bright colours. I was a small child back then – who knows what was going on in my head?

Obviously the makers of Care Bears didn’t really care about making the world a better place, they really only cared about selling lots of overpriced stuffed toys to children.

The cartoon massively fails the test of time. It’s overly saccharine and hard to watch. But, for whatever reason, I did really like it at the time. Especially the 1985 movie, which might have been a tiny bit better than the TV series, (but probably not much better). I was far from the only kid (male or female) that liked Care Bears though – they were hugely popular.

My sister had a Care Bear.

I didn’t.

You can get them again now. If my mum is reading this, then I need to point out that she is in no way obliged to make up for me not having a Care Bear as a child by getting me one now…

I had loads of toys as a kid. Mostly He Man and Star Wars figures, but also some ThunderCats thrown in for good measure. I didn’t need a Care Bear. I’m not even sure that I especially wanted a Care Bear. I’m just saying that if I had wanted one, there would have been nothing wrong with me wanting one.

If, by chance, I had owned a Care Bear, it would definitely have been Grumpy Bear…

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 6: Ferocious Ness

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Well if it isn’t Friday and, moreover the 6th of April. But who really gives an ‘F’?

Well I do as a matter of fact, because ‘F’ is very much the letter I’m on in my quest to write about the beloved cartoons of my youth in this year’s A-Z blogging challenge.

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‘F’ is for Ferocious Ness

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The Family Ness was a cartoon all about a family of Loch Ness monsters. They all had names that made the most of the word ‘Ness’ by using is as a suffix to nominalise adjectives in order to create their names, although rather than creating an actual noun, the adjective was used as the character’s forename and ‘Ness’ became the surname. It was grammar lesson and a cartoon all in one.

Some examples of Nessie characters were:

Lovely Ness

Sporty Ness

Forgetful Ness

Clever Ness

Ferocious Ness was the main one and he appeared in the most episodes. He wasn’t particularly ferocious, although he was, perhaps, a little curmudgeonly at times.

 

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 5: Evil Edna

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It’s the fifth day of April and, if all is going according to plan, then I should be on to ‘E’ in my quest to come up with an alphabetic guide to the cartoon characters that made me the man I am today.

And, as luck would have it, I appear to be very much on schedule, which is fantastic news.

But before I get on with all that, I’d just like to say a huge thanks to everyone who sent me birthday wishes yesterday. I was genuinely touched to know that so many people care.

I assume I was anyway. I’m writing this a few days in advance so as I type these words, I have no idea if anyone did bother to wish me happy birthday. Frankly I’m going to look pretty stupid if nobody actually did.

But let’s set aside my troubles and the ignorance of all those people who failed to acknowledge my birthday and get on with the matter at hand.

Although would it have killed you to wish me happy birthday? Really. All it would have taken was a few seconds out of your day and you could have made a real difference…

No, it’s too late now…

No, it’s fine, let’s just get on with it…

No, I’m not crying, there’s something in my eye…

Look, I’ll be fine, it doesn’t matter. It wasn’t even a big birthday. It’s just I thought, y’know, what with everything we’ve been through…

Hmmm, I seem to have written myself into a cul de sac with my mock self-pity. How to move on? I could pretend that everything I’ve written above isn’t there and just get on with the A-Z Challenge malarkey. What letter was I on? Oh yes. Today’s letter du jour is ‘E’:

E

‘E’ is for Evil Edna

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I remember watching Willo the Wisp as a kid, but I couldn’t tell you what it was about. Indeed so vague was I about the whole thing that I was genuinely surprised to discover, a number of years ago, that Willo the Wisp and The Magic Roundabout were completely different things. Although, they both were utterly bonkers so maybe that’s why I got confused.

One thing I do recall about Willo the Wisp was that there an evil magic television set called Evil Edna. An evil television set? In the woods? I really must watch Willo the Wisp again soon.

In fact, lets watch an episode together now…

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 4: Danger Mouse

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It’s the fourth day of April and that can only mean that in my quest to alphabetise the cartoon characters of my youth, we must have arrived at the letter ‘D’.

What’s that you say?

Isn’t the fourth of April also my birthday?

Well I wasn’t going to bring it up but now that you mention it, it is indeed my birthday today.

There’s no need to make a fuss. It’s just a day like any other. No, there’s no need to give me lots of really expensive presents.

Well, ok if you insist.

But there’s plenty of time for all of that. For now let us return to the matter at hand. And that matter is ‘D’

D

‘D’ is for Danger Mouse.

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There were a lot of 1980s rodent heroes as I recall. The Rescue Rangers had a whole team of them, Basil was a Great Mouse Detective, Fievel had his fair share of adventures in An American Tail and if Speedy Gonzales and Mighty Mouse pre-date the 80s, then that’s the time period in which I discovered them so they absolutely still count.

The greatest of them all was, without a shadow of a doubt, Danger Mouse. Seriously, just listen to his theme tune – it literally opens with the line “He’s the greatest…”

I loved Danger Mouse as a kid. I love Danger Mouse now. I own a Danger Mouse t-shirt. I literally would be Danger Mouse if it were at all possible.

But, alas, when asked the question “are you a man or a mouse?” I reluctantly have to concede that I am a man.

And Danger Man just isn’t the same thing at all.

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 3: Chip

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It’s the third day of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2018, and, having dispatched the letters ‘A’ and ‘B’ with ease, let us see what I can do with ‘C’

C

‘C’ is for Chip

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Chip ‘n’ Dale were cartoon chipmunks, but not the ones who sang with Alvin. They were the ones who annoyed Donald Duck in classic Disney cartoons.  They were revamped in 1989’s Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers. In this show they were given a team and an awesome theme tune and they tackled crime and helped people. I’m not sure why anyone thought this was a good idea. It doesn’t sound like a good idea. And it wasn’t a good idea.

It was an AWESOME idea!

Crime fighting chipmunks? How cool is that?

Unlike in their original incarnations as duck-botherers, during which time they were largely interchangeable, in this series Chip and Dale had distinct characteristics from each other. Chip was very much the adventurous Indiana-Jones-esque leader of the Rescue Rangers and Dale was more comic relief in the main. It was all entertaining, though ultimately forgettable stuff for the most part. I can’t ever forget that theme tune though…

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Cartoon Characters That He Liked As A Child – Part 2: Bananaman

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It’s Day 2 of the month of April and by sheer coincidence, it’s also Day 2 of the A-Z Blogging Challenge. If I’m not mistaken (and I rarely am) the second letter of the alphabet is ‘B’

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‘B’ is for Bananaman.

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I used to read the Beano as a kid. I did not read the Dandy. You couldn’t read both. It wasn’t allowed. You had to pick a side and I opted for Dennis the Menace, Minnie the Minx and The Bash Street Kids, over Desperate Dan, Korky the Cat and Winker Watson. Because they were much much better.

But the Dandy did have one character that might have persuaded me to change sides. And that was the incomparable Bananaman.

Fortunately there was a TV adaptation of Bananaman so I was able to have my banana cake and eat it, getting to enjoy the Beano in comic book form and Bananaman as a televised cartoon.

Without Bananaman it is distinctly possible that I would never have eaten fruit as a child. But to this day, whenever I eat a banana I retain the hope that it will give me superpowers.

It’s All In A Good Cause

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“It’s for charity though,” said Kevin.

“I couldn’t care less,” said Toby, “I’m not bloody doing it.”

“C’mon mate, don’t be such a curmudgeon.” said Dave.

“I don’t think I’m being the slightest bit curmudgeonly,” protested Toby, “I’m just exercising my free will. I don’t want to do it. So I’m not going to do it.”

“But we need you,” said Kevin, “We can’t do it without you!”

“I don’t care,” said Toby, “It’s stupid and pointless and I’m not doing it.”

“But it’s for charity mate,” said Dave, “It’s a really good cause.”

“Fine, I’ll make a donation,” said Toby, fishing a ten pound note out of his wallet, and then hastily returning it to his wallet when he realised he could ill-afford to part with that much money just to prove a point.

“Don’t be so boring!” said Kevin, “C’mon, it’ll be a laugh.”

“I fail to see how losing my dignity in front of other people is, in any way, ‘a laugh’” argued Toby. “Look, I’m not doing it and that’s final. Now if you don’t mind, I’ve actually got some work to do and I’d be very surprised if you two don’t also have things you need to get on with.”

He turned back to his monitor and continued the largely mundane task of entering information into a database.

Kevin and Dave, who both did indeed have plenty of their own application forms to enter onto the system, continued to ignore their work, but did at least move away from Toby, presumably to try and find some other poor sap to try and coerce into their ridiculous scheme.

As if those two idiots even remotely cared about raising money for charity, reflected Toby. This was all about wasting time at work, showing off to their colleagues and no doubt trying to hit on some of the more impressionable new-starters at the inevitable Friday night piss-up that would surely follow.

Not that they were the only two at it. For some reason the office had turned into a bizarre homage to the worst kind of TV talent show in the last week or so. It was nothing new, unfortunately. It seemed every well-publicised fundraising campaign caused this kind of lunacy, and if it was inspired by a viral YouTube video, then all the better. Apparently that was why someone had assaulted him with a bucket of freezing cold water eighteen months ago. In spite of his vociferous protests, no disciplinary action had been taken against the offender, indeed they had been congratulated for their actions and it was he – Toby – who had been told to stop being so tetchy.

When had work stopped being just about, you know, doing work? Why was there any need for all this stupidity? It wasn’t as if any charities even benefited. For all the supposed ‘fundraising’ that went on, there was no indication that any funds were actually raised. Perhaps he was being overly cynical, but to Toby’s mind it all seemed to be far more about ‘having a giggle’ than supporting any good causes.

Out of the corner of his eye, he became aware that Kevin and Dave had begun chatting to Samantha. This unsettled Toby greatly. There was no way they would be trying to convince Samantha to partake in their ill-advised scheme, which probably meant they were up to something far less palatable. The frequent glances in his direction more or less confirmed his worst fears, but it wasn’t until Samatha made her way over to his desk that his misgivings were confirmed.

“Hi Toby,” she said.

Toby managed an incoherent grunt in response. It was always this way with Samantha. He could never seem to manage to articulate any actual words.

“Kev and Dave have just been telling me what you guys are up to on Friday,” she said, “I must say I think you’re being very brave.”

Toby shot the two conspirators a look of sheer hatred, which merely served to cause them to collapse in silent laughter. He looked at Samantha, and tried to find the right words

What he wanted to say was, “I’m sorry Samantha, but you’re mistaken. There’s absolutely no way that I would ever participate in anything so insane as this. I’m really not that kind of person. I said as much to those two clowns a few moments ago, and now, in an act so unscrupulous and vile as to be beyond description, they are using the fact that I am clearly attracted to you, to manipulate me into going along with their stupid plan. But I’m not going to Samantha, I’m better than that. Instead, what I’m going to do, is take this opportunity to finally ask you to go out for a drink with me some time, which is something I really should have done a long time ago.”

Toby wanted to say all this to Samantha, but he couldn’t.

Instead all he could manage was to utter, in a barely audible mumble, “it’s all in a good cause.”


My Poem Is Better Than Yours

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It might seem disrespectful
To compare poems that we wrote
But in a poetry competition
Mine would get my vote

I’m not saying yours is bad,
I’m sure it is just fine
But alas it isn’t really
Quite as good as mine

No, I don’t think as a poet
You can compete with me
But I will try to teach you
To improve your poetry

No more soporific sonnets
Or repetitive refrains
Say goodbye to boring ballads
And quotidian quatrains

Metaphors are monsters
Holding back your verse
And as for snake-like similes
They are even worse

Alliterations are annoying
Personification looks askance
Bang goes onomatopoeia
Who can stand assonance?

You can enhance your work
By trying less hard to be smart
You don’t need all those tricks
Stop embellishing your art

Instead just keep things simple
And stick to this paradigm
It cannot be a poem
If it doesn’t even rhyme

James Explains The Art Of The Nap Amongst Other Things

James Explains

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Today represents a tragedy for fact-seekers everywhere, as this will be the last ‘James Explains’ for a while. I might bring it back in a few weeks or I might not. Only time will tell. There’s inevitably going to be something of a grieving process for some of you at this news. We’ll get through this together somehow. There are lots of other people who are still explaining stuff on the internet. You’ll be OK. But, just to tide you over, while you try to find another site that quenches your never ending thirst for knowledge as well as this one does, let’s enjoy one last Q&A together.

Pete, who has managed a question every week, is back again with this query:

Can I ask a question?

Now, it’s abundantly clear that you can ask a question Pete as you have asked many before. You are quite the accomplished questioner. But, alas, there will be no further opportunities for you to ask me questions that I will actually bother to answer. At least not for a few weeks. But you can still ask questions. You can always ask questions Pete.

Bear R Humphreys, who may or may not be the same person as regular contributor Bryntin asks:

Why can’t you stop once you’ve popped? I would have thought that was pretty much the end of your balloon trip myself.

Well Bear, that is a question, and you’re absolutely correct, the popping of a hot air balloon would indeed result in a fairly imminent ‘stop’. But there are other forms of popping. Most of them can also be stopped. For example, if I pop to the shop, I tend only to need to do it the once.

Even in the context of the savoury snack Pringles, which is where the claim about being unable to cease post-pop appears to originate, the claim is misleading. Presumably one will inevitably stop when one runs out of Pringles. Also, I once had the misfortune to try Mint-Choc flavour Pringles, which were a novelty flavour released for Christmas one year. I had no difficulty stopping on that occasion. No difficulty at all.

Meanwhile my friend Andrew, who doesn’t have a blog but occasionally likes to heckle me from other social media (I wrote about him before in this awesome post about Glastonbury and David Bowie, and he was also the ‘Second Bow Street Runner’ in this post I wrote on Friday), queries my assertion from last week that there are multiple ways to nap while at work. Less a question and more of a demand he says:

There are more ways to nap at work? I want to know what they are.

Obviously I don’t actually nap at work. That would be incredibly unprofessional, even for me. But if I were to nap at work I would do any one of the following, and fully expect to get away with it.

  1. As discussed last week, I might  pretend to have a meeting but, instead, not have a meeting and nap in the meeting room.
  2. I might sleep in a cleverly constructed den under my desk, like George Costanza does on that episode of Seinfeld
  3. I might well pretend to have a medical condition which necessitates the wearing of sunglasses at work, and then just sleep wherever and whenever I feel like it, while also looking cool.
  4. I could also make a mask of using a picture of my ‘awake face’, and then wear it over my actual sleeping face.
  5. I could design and make a robot that looks and sounds exactly like me, as per the trope of many a sci-fi film and TV show. Then I could have the robot live my life for me, while I stay in bed. Technically I wouldn’t even have to go into work for that one.
  6. Most likely though, I would just openly sleep at my desk without any form of pretence and see if anyone even notices or cares.

 

And that’s it for James Explains. Possibly forever. But maybe not. You can still ask questions in the comments section below. But those questions could be in vain,

The Horror Of Horology

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The clocks went forward yesterday. The downside of this is that we all have to get up an hour earlier. The upside is that it is now, horologically speaking, British Summer Time.

Actually, by anyone’s definition, British Summer Time is not really much of an upside. No-one comes to Britain for the weather.

Although the weather was quite nice today.

The snow and ice of recent weeks seems to have dissipated for the time being, although a third strike by the Beast from the East is apparently imminent and due to arrive in time for the Easter weekend.

Which will be nice. Who doesn’t dream of a White Easter?

Just like the ones I used to know.

It seems hard to believe that snow is on the way though, because today was positively balmy.

Not, really summer weather though. More like spring weather.

Because it is spring and not summer. British Summer Time doesn’t actually mean that it is summer. Much like when we go back to Greenwich Meantime, it doesn’t follow that we’ll all be mean to each other. Although we might be, because it’ll be colder and darker and generally a bit rubbish, all of which might engender a slightly meaner attitude towards the rest of humanity. Although GMT does bring a later start to the day, which mitigates the horror of winter a little.

But for now let us enjoy the fact that the days are getting a little longer and the weather is occasionally clement.

I’m still struggling with the getting up earlier though.

 

Magic Penguin And The Season Finale

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Magic Penguin, Fat Giraffe, Mystic Mouse, Stupid Donkey, Ed The Ostrich, Happy Rhino, Anxious Bull, Mardy Puffin, Fast Gibbon, Mistaken Moose, and Wise Owl were enjoying a drink in the Shoe and Phone one afternoon.

“Wow, there are a lot of us here today,” said Fat Giraffe.

“Including some characters who don’t usually come into the Shoe and Phone,” said Mistaken Moose.

“I think you’re mistaken there,” said Mardy Puffin.

“Well they don’t call me Mistaken Moose for nothing!” said Mistaken Moose.

“Actually, on this occasion I think it’s Mardy Puffin who is mistaken,” said Fast Gibbon, “given that Mardy Puffin, Mistaken Moose and myself were all part of an ill-conceived comic device used by the writer when we starred in a Magic Penguin story which didn’t feature any of the usual main characters and was set in a different – though equally badly named – pub to the Shoe and Phone.”

“Oh yes, that’s right,” said Mistaken Moose, “so I was mistaken about being mistaken. Well they don’t call me Mistaken Moose for nothing!”

“That doesn’t make any sense,” said Mardy Puffin, “but if the joke is that we don’t feature in the main Magic Penguin stories and never drink in the Shoe and Phone, then why are we currently in the Shoe and Phone?”

“That is a good question,” said Fast Gibbon.

“I’m not sure why I’m here either,” said Anxious Bull, “I’ve only briefly featured in one Magic Penguin story and that was as the punchline to a rather stupid joke about ‘grabbing the bull by the horns’….”

“I quite liked that joke,” said Happy Rhino, “but I too, as an entirely unmemorable and forgettable character, am wondering why we’re all here.”

“It’s political correctness gone mad if you ask me!” said Wise Owl.

“That doesn’t make even the tiniest bit of sense,” said Ed the Ostrich, “and no-one did ask you.”

“You don’t make any sense!” retorted Wise Owl.

“Why are there so many of us here though?” asked Stupid Donkey, “I mean there’s rarely ever more than two or three characters in any of the stories. I should know, I was on the cusp of becoming one of the regular characters until Mystic Mouse came along and ruined it for me.”

“What can I say? The writer needed a token female character,” said Mystic Mouse.

“You’re so much more than a token female character,” said Magic Penguin.

“Am I?” asked Mystic Mouse with scepticism, “Can you see any other female characters here?”

“Well no,” conceded Magic Penguin, “but the writer assures me that he intends to correct this oversight at the earliest opportunity.”

“A cynic might say that this is the earliest opportunity,” said a peeved Mystic Mouse, “ and yet he has singularly failed to correct anything.”

Just then, the door opened and another female character came in. She was called Friendly Goose.

“Hello everyone,” said Friendly Goose, “I’m here to correct an oversight.”

“Oh that’s much better,” said Mystic Mouse making no attempt to hide her sarcasm and thus wounding the feelings of the writer, who really was trying his best in spite of evidence to the contrary.

“Now that is political correctness gone mad!” said Wise Owl.

“I’m not sure that it is you know,” said Ed the Ostrich.

“So why are there so many of us here MP?” asked Fat Giraffe, who was trying out a new ‘thing’ of referring to other characters by their initials.

“Well, this is likely to be the last Magic Penguin story for a while,” said Magic Penguin, who assumed, correctly, that Fat Giraffe was talking to him, even though Mardy Puffin could also have legitimately been referred to as ‘MP’, “the writer has decided, against all reasonable judgement, to take part in that A-Z blog challenge thing in April, so this is sort of like the end of Season 1 of Magic Penguin, and as such I thought it might be appropriate to have a Season Finale.”

“Hold on,” said Fat Giraffe, “aren’t we British? Isn’t ‘season’ in this context more of an American term? Surely this is a Series Finale?”

“You say potato and I say potato,” said Magic Penguin.

“You do know that comparing that way two people say potato doesn’t really work in the written form?” said Fat Giraffe.

“I did know that, yes,” said Magic Penguin, “perhaps I should have used tomato/tomato instead.”

“Same problem,” said Fat Giraffe.

“Anyway, whether it’s a ‘season finale’ or a ‘series finale’, this is the last ‘episode’ of Magic Penguin for a while, so I thought it’d be good to go out on a high,” said Magic Penguin.

“I’m not sure this is a high, “ said Fat Giraffe, “It kind of feels like the opposite to a high if you ask me.”

“Perhaps we should just get Red Herring to show up with another of his misleading cliffhangers,” said Mystic Mouse, “they’ve always served us pretty well in the past.”

“Yeah, ok, let’s just do that,” said Magic Penguin.

There was a brief silence while the ensemble waited for Red Herring to come bursting through the door.

Friendly Goose broke the silence.

“Actually, I’ve just remembered, Red Herring can’t come and do a cliffhanger this week.” she said.

“Why not?” asked Magic Penguin.

“Well, it’s just that he’s disappeared without a trace,” said Friendly Goose, “no-one knows where he is. He just seems to have vanished.”

“But that means there’ll be no more cliffhangers for the Magic Penguin stories!” exclaimed Fat Giraffe.

“I dunno,” said Mystic Mouse, “that kind of sounds like a cliffhanger to me.”

“It does indeed,” said Magic Penguin, “and a pretty feeble one at that.”

“Oh, well that’s a relief, “ said Fat Giraffe, “I’d hate to think we were going to end our first series without a slightly rubbish cliffhanger.”

Will Red Herring be ok? Or will season 2 of Magic Penguin have to survive without cliffhangers? Will the writer even bother to write any more Magic Penguin stories?

Only time will tell.

But he probably will I expect.

And I should know, for I am he.

But maybe he won’t.

And maybe he isn’t me at all.

Who can tell anymore?

A Commuted Commute

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There was a narrow window between the earliest time that Stan could legitimately leave work and the point at which navigating the evening traffic became unfeasible. He had got it down to a fine art in recent weeks, but his decision to field an unexpectedly long call that afternoon had somewhat scuppered his plans to avoid the gruesome gridlock of rush hour.

Consequently he found himself sitting in a near-stationary queue, waiting to join the equally static dual carriageway, that would in turn lead to the Old Cross Roundabout, a veritable disc of despair that could render even the most cool-headed of motorists a seething sack of primordial rage.

The radio was playing an irreverent and satirical review of the week in politics. Stan found it vaguely entertaining, though its inevitable association with a gruelling commute, given that he only caught it on the occasions he found himself in this driver’s dystopia, muted the comedy value somewhat.

Still, the radio did provide some small relief as his little runabout crawled down the slip road towards the next stage of his purgatory. It was approaching the midway point of the show when he finally managed to navigate his way into the left-hand lane of the dual carriageway, though in some ways this did serve to slightly elevate his stress levels, as he now needed to achieve the more challenging feat of manoeuvring his car into the other lane, so that when he eventually did make it to the Old Cross Roundabout, he would be able to affect a right turn.

This was easier said than done, the traffic in the right-hand lane was moving a touch quicker than the lane he was currently sitting in, and he was rather dependent on the kindness of others in order to make his move. He flipped on his right indicator to alert other motorists to his desired outcome. It did not seem to serve as much of an incentive for the right lane motorists to let him in however, so he continued to crawl slowly forwards in the left lane, hoping in vain for a gap to open up.

The comedy show ended and another light-hearted, though less intrinsically funny, show started. It was tolerable as radio emissions went , but rather less entertaining that its predecessor. Stan also became acutely aware of his bladder being fuller than he was comfortable with. He had eschewed the chance of a quick trip to the gents on his way out of the office in his haste to fulfil his ultimately doomed desire of beating the traffic.

As the car crept slowly closer to the roundabout, a left turn was looking like it might become an unfortunate  necessity. He could still get home by taking this route, but it would likely add another fifteen minutes to his journey and he’d rather avoid that given the increasing urgency of his need to relieve himself.

Still, there was no give in the right hand lane, and Stan was loathe to try and force his way across, as some other motorists were attempting to do. The dual carriageway was a notorious accident hot spot and he didn’t want to risk a collision on this most anger-inducing of roads. Someone was bound to let him in soon, he reasoned.

As he edged ever closer to the roundabout and his optimism began to fade, he became aware of flashing lights in his rear-view mirror and the sound of sirens. There was an ambulance trying to force its way through the gridlock. It was  progressing at a speed that would utterly belie the sense of urgency that the sight and sound of an emergency medical vehicle ought to engender. Still, cars were attempting to move out of the way, albeit in an ultimately futile manner. It was, however, very much in the lane that Stan wanted to be in, and so a plan began to form. Eventually the ambulance was alongside Stan’s own little chariot and he gripped his steering wheel in anticipation. As the emergency vehicle moved slowly past, Stan swerved into its wake, before other motorists had had time to react.

Stan had no idea how serious the medical emergency was that had necessitated the arrival of the paramedics and he genuinely hoped all would end well for the afflicted parties. However, as he made his coveted right turn at the roundabout, he couldn’t help but reflect that their misfortune was rather a stroke of luck for him.

 

There Are Books Of Which The Backs And Covers Are By Far The Best Parts

Dickens

Today I’m taking the unusual step of honouring (through the medium of doodle) a literary figure whose works I am actually familiar with. Because even I have seen The Muppets’ Christmas Carol…

I jest of course, I’ve read actual books by Charles Dickens. And watched their on-screen adaptations. My favourite one to read was A Tale of Two Cities. My favourite one to watch was the aforementioned Muppet classic, but I generally enjoy a good Dickens tale, both to read and to watch.

And to star in of course, because I have appeared in two stage versions of Oliver! The first was for a primary school Christmas concert. My class did a rendition of ‘Food Glorious Food’. I played the pivotal role of ‘nondescript orphan’. My costume was a bin bag.

The second time was much later in my scholastic career, when I was in sixth form. I had a mate who was quite big on being in school productions and he got the plum role of none other than Bill Sykes. Me and my other friend auditioned to keep him company (and also cos we thought it would be a good way to meet girls – it was not). We were given the unforgettable roles of ‘First Bow Street Runner’ and ‘Second Bow Street Runner’.

A Bow Street Runner was a sort of policeman. We had a line each. We also got to do a comedy run, which wasn’t nearly as funny as we hoped it would be.

I was First Bow Street Runner. My line was “Stand Back! Stand Back!”

Surprisingly Second Bow Street Runner was a slightly meatier role. He got the line “This gentleman seems to know the lady.” He made the most of it and delivered it in a slightly different way for each of the performances.

Oh the fun we had.

Pedantically Proverbial

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Music has charms to soothe the savage beast
But it can annoy the neighbours at four in the morning
And even at other times of day
I’d imagine the savage beast
Is soothed by some genres more than others

The early bird catches the worm
Although in truth
So the late bird probably catches the worm too
There are plenty of worms to go around

He who laughs last, laughs longest
He’s really irritating in that regard
He takes ages to get the joke and then finds it disproportionately funny

Great minds think alike
Which is why everyone should agree
On everything
All of the time
Otherwise we might just keep on evolving
Like idiots

A bad penny always turns up
But as it’s still legal tender
That’s not necessarily a bad thing
Although these days, good or bad
You can’t buy much for a penny
Though a penny saved is a penny earned
Which, again, will have little impact on your finances in the short term

A watched pot never boils
Except for when it does
Eventually boil

Early to bed and early to rise
Makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise
Although there is no medical, economical or scholastic evidence
On which to base this assertion
And when that idiot next door
Keeps trying to soothe the savage beast
An early night does seem futile