Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down

I've had the theme tune to Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends (a brilliant cartoon series) stuck in my head all day. It doesn't have any lyrics or a title, as far as I know, which is why the subject header is a different tune entirely that happened to be on the telly at the time I was trying to think of a title. But the Foster's theme is quite catchy, and surprisingly non-distracting - I've been memorising cards and numbers with it playing in my brain but not getting in the way at all. I'm going to go off and do a bit more in a minute, while I'm in the mood. Who knows, I might keep this up all year, think up a better system for numbers, and win the WMC by a mile next time round!

I've also sent my CV to one agency, Michael Page, who got me my job at Parkhouse. I know I said I'd send it to agencies, plural, today, but it's such rubbish that I don't think I could face multiple agencies telling me so. I'll just let MP criticise and ridicule it, then let them make improvements and then I'll send it to other people. There's plenty of time yet.

I'm now watching The Life And Times Of Juniper Lee, to see if it's any good. It's created and written by Judd Winick, who's done some great comics in the past, so it might be, but the opening couple of minutes of this episode aren't looking all that great. Rather than jump to hasty conclusions, I'll give it a bit more of a chance, though...

I should talk a bit more about Foster's - it's very original and witty and clever. But I can't be bothered. Just go and watch it, it's on Cartoon Network.

A more important subject is what I'm going to do next week. I've got the week off, it seems I'm not going to the MSO, and I haven't really got anything that urgently needs doing. 'Looking for a job' is not going to take up all my time. Memory things, maybe. Perhaps I could swot up on pi and see about maybe breaking that record later this year. Not really in such an othelloey mood right now, so I'm not feeling like memorising classic games like I was talking about doing.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Chinese whispers

Actually, I think that title is politically incorrect nowadays, so I apologise. Also, sorry that the content of this entry is once again themed around the subject of me appearing in newspapers. But don't worry, I'm pretty sure that's all over and done with now, so this'll be the last one.

But the Derbyshire Evening Telegraph have a big long story about me again this year. It's mostly a reworking of the story they did last year, with added new details borrowed from the BBC News website, which had published a somewhat garbled brief story based on the official press release before the competition. To top it off, the reporter phoned me at work and asked a couple of questions, then quoted me as saying something else entirely. I'm intrigued by some of the things attributed to me - none of the things in quotation marks are actually what I said, although they're mostly vaguely similar paraphrases. I never said anything like "I had to book an extra day's holiday off work just to recover," though.

Even more fun, they repeat the BBC story's claim that "As well as making sure their brains are finely tuned, competitors have to ensure they are at maximum fitness levels." Which I really don't.

But the best of all is the fantastic photo (reused from last year) of me looking particularly scary. Check it out. Maybe I could make a new career in horror movies?

And no, I haven't done my CV or anything. Tomorrow. And then next week everyone reading this can thrill to my adventures in job-seeking.

Squashed Frogs

Apologies for not posting anything last night - I realise there's a devoted audience out there hanging on my every word, but I was out with the people from work. Actually, I sneaked off at around 10pm, but not before I'd introduced everyone to the delights of squashed frogs, the world's best shot. Always good for a couple of cool points in any social gathering.

So I thought I'd do a bit of blogging from the office, rather than, say, working. I feel justified in this since a) my immediate boss didn't make it in until ten o'clock this morning after last night's shenanigans; b) I would have done it at lunchtime if I hadn't been down the pub celebrating Phil's last day, and it's the thought that counts; c) nobody here is doing any work anyway. The drawback to this is that the IT guys can (and probably will) spy on what I'm doing and so will be reading this, but I don't mind. I'm leaving soon, anyway...

I realised this morning that I still haven't made a decision on whether or not to go to the MSO. But since I would be travelling down there tonight if I was going, I suppose the decision's sort of been made by default. Which means that the thing will be starting some time around now, not graced with my presence for the first time. Very sad. But I really don't want to spend £470 (including the late-entry charge) on a week of games with a handful of other people. I might still go to Paris next weekend for the othello, but I haven't quite made up my mind yet.

What I'm definitely going to do, hopefully, is get my CV polished up and submitted to a few agencies tonight. Then I can spend next week going round and talking to them and see if there are any jobs going. I'm resigned to the fact that I'm hopeless with interviews, so I think my best bet is still to hang around here till we finish, find a temp job and hope they take me on permanently again. But it's still worth looking around now, just in case my dream job is out there.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Speedy Gonzales, why dontcha come home?

I feel the need to defend Speedy Gonzales. He gets a lot of bad press, and a lot of people are very rude about him, saying either that he's an offensive ethnic stereotype or that his cartoons are dull and repetitive. Or both. He's the only A, B or C-list character who doesn't get so much as a cameo on Baby Looney Tunes, which I think is shockingly unfair. He'd look good babified, possibly with an oversized sombrero.

Also, the DePatie-Freleng era cartoons with Speedy and Daffy aren't nearly as bad as everyone says they are. Okay, the animation's not up to the high standards that had been set over the previous thirty years by the WB studio, and the jokes and set-pieces are mostly stolen from earlier cartoons, but funny is funny, however many times you see it. And 'A Taste of Catnip' is genuinely original and brilliant. And there's nothing wrong with Daffy's characterisation in those cartoons either - he's a complex guy and you can still sympathise with him.

In other news, I seem to have reached the point in time where I was supposed to get my CV together and start looking for jobs. Shudder. I'll do it tomorrow. No I won't, there's a work party thing. The day after. Probably.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Home again

I really don't want to go back to work tomorrow. I always get like this after a memory championship or MSO - the whole job just feels really frustrating and dull at the same time. I'll be okay after a couple of days back.

Plus I'm late in tomorrow, because I'm doing an interview on Radio Derby. I'm also having the Evening Telegraph phoning me up, and maybe coming round to photograph me again. But after that, hopefully, the whole thing should go away until next year. Freedom!

Also, this means I can talk about something else in this here blog. It's not been very balanced so far. But just one more memory-related ramble: I'm feeling much more motivated to win next year's championship now. I'm going to put a lot of work into preparing for Vienna in November, hopefully. If I can win that, it'll be a great boost.


"Hurrah for the holidays!" enthused Purvis, idly throwing a sharpened stick towards Dennis's eye.

"Bogging holidays," grumbled Figg, "getting in the bogging way of whatever it is we do when it isn't the bogging holidays..."

"Don't talk nonsense, Horace," said Beetroot, who was under the mistaken impression that she was talking to the film star Horace Goldenrod, "the holidays are the best time of the year! Why, just this afternoon we're going to Wigginsford-on-the-Sands, which while it isn't actually the seaside has the world's third-largest artificial pebble beach!"

"That's true," confirmed Greebo unnecessarily, "and I'm sure we'll have a marvellous time!"

"Look out, Dennis," said Tailor, much too late to be of any use as Dennis, blinded by the sharpened stick, blundered into a ditch and knocked half his head off on a jutting rock. Everyone chortled.

"Somebody pull him out, before he goes and drowns himself," laughed Purvis, kicking Dennis's elevated backside for good measure.

"Yes, and hurry up about it," added Greebo, realising that the people who gave the orders were less likely to have to do the actual work. She reinforced this reluctance to do any heavy lifting by wandering off down the road towards their home.

Since Tailor had no arms or legs, and Beetroot was busy asking a butterfly for its autograph, believing it to be the popular musician Greaves Poltergeist, it was Figg who had to haul Dennis from the muddy water in which he was buried up to his neck in the opposite of the usual way. Complaining all the while about the bogging effort and inconvenience he was being bogging put to, he dragged Dennis's insensible body after their siblings.

Back home at lunchtime, while Mother patched up Dennis's injuries, Father doled out generous helpings of roast beef and yorkshire pudding to the other children, and ordered them not to eat it. "You can't eat if you're going swimming this afternoon!" he barked, pouring gravy on his own plate of food before throwing it in the bin.

"But we're not going swimming this afternoon, Emily," protested Beetroot. "Wigginsford-on-the-Sands doesn't have actual water on its artificial beach. There are just men who throw buckets of blue paint over the holidaymakers every few hours to simulate tidal waves."

Father swore vigorously for the next fifteen minutes, without ever pausing for breath or repeating himself, while he retrieved his dinner from the bin and ate it. The others ate up too, discussing the relative merits of two modern composers among themselves while they did. Tailor considered that Ventura's use of deliberate atonality gave his pieces a predictability that Venezuela's more conventional work was spared, while Figg felt that the only bogging thing worse than bogging deliberate atonality was the bogging tuneful drivel that bogging Venezuela came out with. Greebo, having never heard of either composer, forcefully expressed the same opinion as the last speaker, and Beetroot, addressing everyone else at the table collectively as Ventura, speculated peaceably that perhaps everyone was free to hold their own opinion on the subject.

Only after everyone had finished eating did Tailor notice that Purvis had turned into a goat. A ten-foot-long, stuffed toy goat with fluorescent green horns and seven eyes. Casting their minds back, the children realised that the transformation had happened gradually over the previous fifteen minutes, starting with the head and spreading gradually downwards. "That explains why he didn't say anything," observed Greebo, quite some time after the others had come to the same conclusion without feeling the need to voice it.

"It's still queer that he should change into a goat like that," mused Tailor. "Perhaps we should cancel our trip to the artificial beach and see if we can change him back?"

"We're not calling off the trip!" Father screamed from the bathroom where he was trying to wash the taste of potato peelings and old boots from his mouth (he had eaten the entire contents of the dustbin, not sure which bits were his lunch and which weren't). "I've already bought a car for us to drive there in!"

"We've already got a car, Father!" Tailor called back. Father resumed swearing, cursing and lamenting his needlessly dented bank balance.

"What ho," said Dennis, limping into Purvis's bedroom where his brothers and sisters were gathered. Mother had fixed his head as good as new, but had accidentally reduced the length of his right leg by three inches in the process. "It'll grow back," he added cheerfully. "What's been going on, then?"

Figg and Tailor gave surprisingly contradictory accounts of what had happened at lunchtime. Dennis was able to piece together the most important details by discarding the version of events which seemed less plausible - Tailor's otherwise reliable narrative featured several people whom Dennis knew had not actually been present, and Figg's digressions on the subject of Father's bogging waistcoat coming to life and eating all the bogging muesli, Dennis soon realised, were based on a television programme they had watched the night before. Interestingly, Figg and Tailor were both mistaken as to the identity of their sibling who had been transformed into a goat - they both assured Dennis that it had been Greebo, who was sitting cheerfully on Purvis's bed in plain sight, reading a religious text.

"You know, I remember Purvis saying something about goats last Christmas," recalled Dennis. "Didn't he say he wanted to be one?"

"No, he said he bogging hated goats," countered Figg rather more aggressively than the situation demanded, "and if he ever bogging turned into one, he'd kill him-bogging-self."

"Let's go and see," suggested Beetroot, restraining Figg from taking a meat cleaver to Dennis's groin. She took the cleaver, which she thought was the racing driver Gerhard Grantley, back to the toy cupboard it had come from, and then led the way to Greebo's bedroom, the window of which looked out on the garden of six months previously.

Monday, August 15, 2005


I notice, looking back, that the titles of my last four entries were "Sheesh", "Tired", "Bored now" and "Forget fame, fortune and things". This I think gives the entirely false impression that I haven't been having fun lately. I love the hectic buildup to a world memory championship, even if it involves people pointing cameras at me!

Anyway, I didn't win. Not enough training, plus Clemens and Gunther being better than me (always a problem) conspired to strip me of my title. Still, it's been fun being the World Memory Champion, and I'll have to do it again some time. Got a world record in the speed numbers, god knows how. If you asked me which event I was least likely to break a record in, names and faces aside, that would have been it. Just goes to show you never know what you can do until you've done it.

Lots and lots and lots of things to write about, but I'm in a net cafe in Oxford and I've got to go to the stupid prizegiving in a minute or two, followed by a non-stupid party at Ed's family mansion. So I'll just give the news in brief and say more when I get home tomorrow.

Hi Sam
! Thanks for being the first person to post a comment! Anyone else who actually reads this, feel free to do the same!

Good journalist of the year award: Josh Foer, the American guy who's writing a book. I mentioned a while ago that I'd already told him everything there is to tell, but he managed to keep me talking for three hours the next day, while I was hungover and sleep-deprived, without me once getting bored or wishing I was somewhere else. He asks intelligent questions, takes a genuine interest in the subject and doesn't mind at all if I digress and start explaining what's so great about Daffy Duck.

Bad journalist of the year: The BBC director mentioned earlier. I won't give her name in case she's one of those weirdos who type their own name into Google to see what people say about them, but the woman's terminally dense. She also says things like "You're doing really great, you must have done this before!" whenever I show signs of annoyance with being filmed doing the same thing more than once.

Great book recommendation: Anything involving Fidget and Quilly, by David Melling. Sheer genius. The Dinosaur Game might be the best.

Slightly worrying: Spending ten minutes chatting with someone I didn't think I'd ever met before, only to have him end the conversation by saying "Well, we'll talk on the internet again. See you!"

I'd skip the prizegiving and go home right now if it wasn't so rude. Andi, who doesn't care how rude he is, has already left. The pains of politeness. Anyway, got to run! As an extra bonus tomorrow, I'll post the first chapter of the thrilling book I wrote last night.