Friday, December 15, 2006

Because tomorrow, maybe you'll be gone

I've been rereading Runaways today. If you haven't heard of it (and you should have done, because I only mentioned it here the other day), it's an absolutely fantastic sort-of-superhero comic about a gang of teenagers who discover that their parents are supervillains. It occurred to me the other day that of all the comics I read every month, Runaways is the only one that leaves me thinking 'oh, wow, what's going to happen next?' And that's something that all comics should do, in my opinion. It's quite deliriously well-written by Brian K Vaughan, with a wide range of compelling and likeable characters (even the bad guys) and storylines that are sheer genius. Everybody should read it, and you're welcome to borrow my copies any time you like.

I've also been rereading Commander Kitty, which hasn't been online for a long, long time now. I wouldn't particularly recommend it to people in this format, since (and this is fairly typically eccentric of Scotty Arsenault) it's been set up so you can only read random episodes rather than seeing them in order, but you've got to love anything that can come up with dialogue like:

"Don't you care that there's a ferret in the turret?"
"I was unaware that there was a ferret in the turret! Mouse, next time just say 'beware, there's a ferret in the turret!'"
"I swear, if you ensnare another ferret in the turret..."
"His name is Socks, okay?"

It also coined the phrase 'a metric buttload', which to this day I work into conversations wherever possible.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Perhaps they're made of magic

I've finally caved in to public demands and the difficulty of walking in my old boots, and bought some new shoes from the cheap shoe shop in Derby. What fascinated me the most about these £7 bargains was the sticker inside listing the parts of the shoe and the materials they're made of. It goes "Upper: other materials. Lining and sock: other materials. Outersole: other materials."

I've seen some pretty uninformative labels in my time, but this has to be high on the list. Admittedly I'm not an expert on shoe material labelling - the last pair I bought was in 2003, and I don't think they had any such information inside them. But a quick internet search (you can find anything on the internet nowadays) tells me that this kind of detail about a shoe is standard, and that the alternatives to 'other materials' are leather and textile. But am I alone in being tantalised by the 'other materials' label? What's the big secret? What, just what, are these shoes made of?

They smell of something that's very evocative, but I can't quite remember of what. A sort of plasticky smell, not leather or shoe polish, but exactly like something non-shoe-related I've smelt in the past. In fact, I've just taken a deep noseful (checking first to make sure no tabloid photographers are around to snap a pic of the former world memory champion's shoe-sniffing fetish) and I'm fairly sure that they smell of Hero Quest. The role-playing-game-cum-board-game for young people who were into board games but not RPGs and might be interested in something to bridge the gap. Do they still make Hero Quest? I haven't seen it around for ages and Games Workshops seem to have drifted even further off into their own world since I last paid any attention to them. I just checked that on the internet too, and they don't. Shame.

Anyway, why would my shoes smell like Hero Quest? The board and box always had exactly that funny kind of smell. I think, anyway. Unless I'm confusing it with something else. But assuming I'm not, maybe they used the same cheap glue or paint? Hmm, the more I sniff these shoes, the less certain I am about that Hero Quest identification. But something made me think of it, for the first time in years, and I'm sure I didn't use to sniff shoes while I was playing it.

Damn it, now I'm not going to be able to wear these shoes until I've worked out what they smell like. And it'll just turn out to be a previous pair of shoes, I'll bet you. Good grief, how much have I written tonight about sniffing shoes? Maybe it's some kind of mind-altering narcotic smell. That would explain the purple lizards climbing the walls and exploding into patterns of rainbow caterpillars...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

It CAN be done!

I'm a great pianist. Admittedly my repertoire is limited to 'On Top Of Old Smokey', but I can play it almost perfectly, doing arpeggios with my left hand and everything. And while I appreciate that some people might not see that as a great achievement, they just don't understand how fantastic it is to hear music and actually be the one producing it. I'm wildly excited, although I won't be booking the concert hall just yet.

What I will be booking a stage for (or at least James will be booking a stage for) is a memory performance in Stamford Arts Centre on January 20th, in association with James Kemp and Daren Denholm. With local people, newspapers and things in attendance to generally learn about memory and things. This will be the ideal opportunity to see if I'm capable of doing any kind of live show - I haven't quite worked out what to do yet, but it needn't be anything particularly amazing, so I can just play around with presentation and try to look cool. I think I'm going to go with something involving numbers I've memorised in advance, rather than memorising live, because that's never really worked for me. And maybe as an encore do calendar calculations. Those are always cool.

Who knows, a bit more practice and maybe I could amaze everyone there with my ivory-tinkling ability too!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

We are so young

That post of mine the other week asking whether having a hot water bottle made me an old man has proved to be very popular. It's got even more comments than the world-famous contents-of-my-pocket one! So I think it's official, I'm not old. And I can continue to warm my tootsies without a care in the world.

Of course, if I wanted a care in the world, I could fret about my book-writing, which is harder to get into than you might think. Certainly more than the NaNoWriMo thing, because this one is supposed to be readable, intelligent, educational and fun. Particularly the 'fun' part. But now I come to read the bits and pieces I've written over the past couple of years, I find that they need heavy rewriting to pass muster, and I hate rewriting. Ah, the tribulations of a writer. I'm sure I'll survive.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Oh God

Yes, a bonus extra post tonight because I've been self-googling again and found this on a white-supremacist forum:

"The people with the greatest Memory are white - the world record holders are all white, no blacks in this category, hehehe - surprise surprise!! You can tell this to some lefty or black person if they argue with you on the subject of intelligence, and definately memory.

WE CAN DEVELOP OUR MEMORIES, How can having a great memory usefull though? What would you do if you had a super memory, how would it benefit you?

The man with the greatest memory in the world is from the UK and the top few, I think 3 or so are from Great Britain whcih makes me proud, but prouder still all white. He can memorise 22, yes 22 packs of playing cards in 5 minutes and then recall all of them in order, WOW!!!! Unbeleivable!!!

He also has other feats under his belt, truly remarkable, anyway YOU too can have a super memory.

I will supply links on the above feats later on today but I leave with some questions, how can we use SUPER MEMORY POWER to our advantage? Please let me know your thoughts guys, thanks speak to you later."

Maybe I should post a reply and tell him I'm Jewish?

It can't be done

No human being can play the piano with both hands at once. It just isn't physically possible.

Anyway, on Saturday night there was a poster up on the bar from a group looking for a drummer. Kitty, who knows about musical matters, tells me that good drummers are in short supply these days, and lots of bands have to make do with drum machines just because they can't get one. So with that being the case, why am I wasting my time trying and failing to get harmonious noises out of my electric keyboard when I could be hitting things rhythmically with sticks, the big time and the jackpot?

Other things that I can't play, as revealed on Saturday, are pool relatively sober and darts extremely drunk. I really need to acquire some new abilities - there's a limit to how often I can memorise a pack of cards and make people go woo. Another thing I'm meaning to do is plan out a memory-based stage show I could do. There are plenty of ways to make memorising a few numbers seem like an impressive performance, I just need to work on my patter and stage presence.

Also in the news, either I had a dream last night about telling someone my internet banking ID number or it's something that really happened that I can only half remember due to a course of amnesia drugs or hypnosis.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


Just four of us at the get-together in the end - me, Ace, Jenny and Kitty - but we go for quality rather than quantity at these things. And I'm much too tired tonight to write anything lengthy, partly because we were in the pub till 2am playing a drunken game of darts in which hitting the board was considered a great shot and then wandering the streets for another hour or so looking for a taxi, and partly because the BBC Sports Review Of The Year is on telly and I'm too tired to turn the boring thing off. I'll write something properly tomorrow.