Saturday, March 20, 2010

Buying things = happiness

I went into Nottingham today in the hopes of finding some cool recorder music in the music shop there (see my recent recorder-themed blog post), only to be remembered by the sales assistant who sold me my ukulele (she recognised me from the telly) and made to feel terribly guilty about not having played the thing for a long time. I considered buying another, more expensive, ukulele to compensate for these feelings of guilt, and because they had a really top-notch-looking one that cost hundreds of pounds, but I'm gradually coming to the realisation that buying ukuleles will never turn me into a real musician overnight. I bought some Beatles and Abba recorder sheet music and resolved to practice with my old ukulele some more. I'm really awesome with the recorder, though - some things you never forget. I may have to buy a new one, though, because my antiquated instrument (which I've had since I was about six) just can't manage the high notes as well as it once did. Maybe on my next trip to the music shop, by which time I will almost certainly be able to hold my head high when Rachel asks me how I'm getting on with the ukulele.

My day was then further enlivened by a trip to the comic shop, when I realised that a complete collection of Chris Giarrusso's indescribably brilliant "Mini Marvels" comics has been available since December, but nobody told me about it. I blame this shocking omission on everyone reading this blog, but I'm prepared to forgive you, because I've just had an afternoon's hilarious entertainment from the escapedes of Elephant Steve and his comrades. If you've been so inconsiderate as to not even read the comic yourself after deciding not to tell me about it, I heartily recommend it to everyone (although especially those with some knowledge about superhero comics in general and Marvel comics of the last ten years in particular, because otherwise most of the jokes will go right over your head). Also, please do check out everything else Chris Giarrusso has ever written. You won't regret it.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Times tables

I'm trying to decide whether or not to go to the Mental Calculation World Cup. It only happens every two years, and I couldn't go to the last one because I didn't have any money, so I haven't actually done any mental calculating since 2006. I'll be completely rubbish and come last, most likely.

On the other hand, it's rather groovy to be there anyway - it's much more elitist than the World Memory Championship, they only allow a maximum of 40 people to compete, and they reserve the right to choose which applications to accept ("they" is a guy called Ralf, by the way), and I'd get in by virtue of my amazing memory skills and my less amazing mental calculation skills, so I'd get to look down my nose at the people (if any) who wanted to compete but couldn't.

Still, I'm undecided. I'd have to do a whole lot of practice, and frankly I've still got that motivation problem with the memory stuff, so I don't need anything else to distract me. I've got another week-and-a-bit to make my mind up, I'll see how I feel...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What is the matter with Virgin TV?

"We're reorganising your channel line-up to make way for new exciting services."

So now E4 and E4+1, which used to be channels 143 and 144 (although a couple of years ago they were 144 and 145) have now moved to 144 and 146 respectively. I mean, what are they going to put on channel 145? E4+½? And ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4 have moved from 114, 116 and 117 to 115, 117 and 118. They're still leaving room for the inevitable ITV2.5.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A thought occurred to my conscious mind

About last night's blog. Every eighteen months, give or take, I feel inspired to write a story about three people called Cecil, Phillip and Samantha, who apparently all live together in some undefined relationship, in which Cecil attempts to assume a position of authority over the world's population, Phillip tries to stop him out of an apparent feeling that it just isn't right and Samantha half-heartedly assists Phillip, while constantly eating and caring for nothing but her own pleasure. I don't mind at all that nobody reads these things, but nonetheless I like to post them on my blog.

After writing yesterday's fourth episode of their interesting lives, I thought to myself that if anybody asked me what it was all about, I could maybe come up with some silly explanation that the three characters represent my ego, super-ego and id, and their adventures are metaphors for the darkest secrets of my own psyche. And then I thought about it some more and realised (based on my very limited knowledge of Freudian theory and skimming the article on wikipedia) that that interpretation completely and totally fits. Cecil's the ego, Phillip the super-ego and Samantha the id. I'm almost afraid to go back and read those blog posts again now, in case they really do shed light on the innermost workings of my mind. Maybe I'll just send them to a psychiatrist and see what they make of it.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The waters of life

“Phillip,” Cecil said, kicking Phillip in the small of the back to wake him up, “I need a favour.”

“Wha? Who? What? Who?” Phillip asked, sitting up and rubbing his eyes. “It’s three o’clock in the afternoon, why am I asleep in our treehouse?”

“It’s a long story,” Cecil answered. “But the only relevant bit of the story is that you couldn’t sleep last night because a bat was snoring in your bedroom, so you came up here this afternoon for a quick nap.”

“Oh yes, I remember,” Phillip sighed. “What’s the rest of the story?”

“The list of things medically wrong with the bat that caused it to be indoors, sleeping and snoring during the night,” said Cecil, taking a sheaf of handwritten papers from his pocket. “The vet was very thorough.”

“So you need a favour?” Phillip asked, tearing the papers to shreds and eating them, hoping to turn the conversation back to Cecil’s reasons for waking him up and maybe generating some kind of apology.

“Yes. I’m getting married in half an hour, and I need a witness. The men next door were going to do it, but then they remembered that they’re both the same person, and we need two different witnesses or it’s not a real wedding. I didn’t want to ask you, because you’d only say no, but I don’t know anyone else.”

“No,” said Phillip, lying back down and closing his eyes. However, at that exact moment, give or take half a second or so, Samantha had gone into Phillip’s bedroom, seen the bat eating her favourite expensive eyeliner and screamed “Yes!” in the way that her psychiatrist had advised her to do whenever she meant “No!”. The sound reverbrated around the house and echoed into the treehouse outside, where both Cecil and Phillip mistook it for Phillip agreeing to witness Cecil’s marriage.

On the way to the church, Phillip asked Cecil a few pertinent questions about the upcoming wedding, while Samantha grumbled ceaselessly about being forced to wear her second-favourite eyeliner, which she despised (she wasn’t terribly keen on her favourite eyeliner either, but at least it wasn’t quite as revolting to her as her second-favourite). “Who are you marrying, why are you marrying them and what’s a church?” Phillip asked.

“I’m not marrying anyone, I’m just getting married,” answered Cecil. “And I’m doing it because I want to be emperor of the world, and the people just won’t accept an unmarried emperor. There are a lot of old-fashioned people out there, and I just can’t afford to upset them. And it’s a building like that one over there, only bigger and not a fire station.”

“Oh, I see,” Phillip said. He then frowned and sat in silence for two hours, apparently thinking about something, before getting up from the pavement again, walking the remaining five yards to the church door and going inside.

“Dearly beloved,” the vicar began. “We are gathered here today – my God that’s a terrible eyeliner – to join Cecil in holy matrimony. If anyone knows why I shouldn’t, speak now or forever hold your peace, do you, Cecil...”

“Hang on a sec!” Phillip whined. “You’re supposed to pause after the ‘speak now’ bit! I was going to say something!”

“Shut it, fat-face,” said the vicar. “... take Cecil as your lawful wedded self?”

“I d...” Cecil began, but Phillip grabbed him by the knee and prevented him from finishing the word, while Samantha opened a packet of salt-n-shake crisps and ate them noisily and the men next door discussed their pet dog’s obsession with tennis racquets.

“Cecil, I’ve realised why you want to be emperor,” Phillip said. “It’s about your third cousin Brenda, isn’t it?”

“Yes, that’s right,” Cecil admitted. “In another fortnight, give or take, it’ll be twenty years since she vowed to destroy me once and for all in twenty years’ time. Only by becoming emperor of the world can I stop her.”

“You could just kill her with a knife,” Samantha suggested, eating fish and chips that she’d had noisily delivered to the church during Cecil’s heartfelt confession. “Or a bigger knife.”

“Killing people is against the law,” Cecil said. “If I was emperor, I could just make it so that she never existed in the first place. But that’s all out the window now that Phillip’s figured it out.”

“I now pronounce you Cecil,” the vicar said, having taken the ‘o’ in ‘another’ to be the completion of Cecil’s ‘I do’, “and also the emperor of the world. You may kiss anyone you see fit.”

“No no, it’s okay, I don’t need to be married any more,” Cecil said. “We’ve sorted it all out. Brenda can’t destroy me now that Phillip’s worked out why I wanted to be married. It’s a shame, really, I would have quite liked to be emperor of the world anyway.”

“Well, you are the emperor of the world...” the vicar protested.

“Shut it, vicar,” chorused Phillip, Samantha, Cecil and the organist, and they all went home for tea.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Entertainer

It occurred to me today, after the grand prix (I really need to get into memory training again, if only to give me something to do on Sundays), that instead of learning to play some cool new instrument like I keep trying to do every now and then, I should just dig out my old recorder, which I can actually play quite well. I can still remember how to play a wide range of three or four tunes I used to play at school, and I could probably play a whole load of groovy modern tunes if I could dig up some sheet music for them.

I tried looking for free sheet music on the internet, but the only free stuff is the kind of boring old stuff I used to play at school and don't still remember because it's boring. Works by the likes of John Loeillet, whose name I will always remember because it inspired my recorder-playing schoolmate David Stevenson to giggle "It looks like 'toilet'!". He was about 15 at the time and that was by far the rudest thing he ever said.

Looking him up on the internet today (Loeillet, not David), incidentally, it turns out his name was actually Jean-Baptiste Loeillet, usually known as Jean-Baptiste Loeillet of London so as not to confuse him with his cousin, Jean-Baptiste of Ghent, who was also a composer. And Jean-Baptiste of London was also occasionally anglicised as John Lully, but shouldn't be confused with another composer called Jean-Baptiste Lully of France. And he in turn shouldn't be confused with his composer sons, Jean-Louis Lully and Louis Lully. It just seems to me that if these people really didn't want to be confused with each other, they should have just not all had the same name. Really, who calls their son "Louis Lully"? It's a tongue-twister. And who, having called their son "Louis Lully", calls another of their sons "Jean-Louis Lully"?

Which seems to have drifted away a little from my original point, which was that I wondered if anyone knew where I could find cool recorder music on the internet. Written by people without silly names.

The driver is essentially ballast

I haven't watched a grand prix for years, but I'm currently watching the "action" in Bahrain and it's nice to know that nothing has changed. The TV cameras still miss all the interesting bits, the commentators somehow fail to notice the things that they do see on screen ("Oh, Alonso's got ahead of Massa somewhere," two laps after the first corner where it happened) and don't know which car they're looking at, and it's still the car that starts first on the grid that wins, because it's still impossible for a faster car to overtake a much slower one.

I was inspired to watch it by an article saying that three of the four top teams this year have two good drivers racing for them, rather than the traditional one good driver and one less-good one under orders to finish behind his teammate, so we at least get to see which driver of the pair is able to get the faster time in qualifying and thus measure who's the best. And also to see how the Mercedes team sabotage Schumacher's teammate while conveying the impression that he didn't just let him win. But since it's still as boring as ever, I don't think I'll be watching the rest of the season.