Tuesday, April 30, 2024

I find you very puerile...

Sympathy for the Beige

Spare a thought for dull celebrities. I know I know, they make a lot of money. 

'He's a great bloke. He's got loads of money.' 

Yes, unlike that lovely old pensioner down the road living on government handouts. Evil witch.

Anyway, I digress...

These people are efficient yet dull: human Mars bars.

Ronan Keating of Boyzone fame


One such person is Ronan from Boyzone. They sang banal covers of sugary, forgotten 70s popsongs. They resurrected these hideous things like the terpsichorean necromancers they were.

Then they got old and wretched and Ronan found himself on daytime TV. 

He has no sense of humour and nothing interesting to say. Just wallpaper. Suits the medium I guess.

But when he sang in the group he affected this weird speech impediment. His handlers must have advised him to. 

"Ronan" they said, "you're almost see-through. Lose a leg or something. The viewers barely notice you!"

So rather than becoming the world's first quadriplegic pin-up he bottled it and instead developed this weird speech impediment.

'Say' became 'Shay' or even '├čay'.

That's the lengths beige people have to go to to be interesting. 

So sad.

Another is Dermot O'Leary, or rather, Dermot O'Dreary. The girls loved him. But if you just listen to him without looking at his front-head you'll see what I mean. 

Years ago I was driving on the M4 and turned the FM radio on. All I could get was Radio 2 and inbetween the dull music - where even Elbow are considered too out-there to be on the playlist - he was bloody presenting this radio show.

 Just muttering endlessly about absolutely fuck-all. I felt myself nodding off - it was more effective than sleep songs or ambient music on The Calm App or chloroform.

It was actually dangerous - no one should have let him on there because it was hazardous to motorists.

And then he presents X-Factor or Britain's got no talent whatsoever, with the Great Satan and Death Becomes Her. More banality for the masses.

I mean how bloody beige can you get?

He's professional and efficient and dull. The Chartered Accountant of television presenting. 

Actually that would be Sophie Raworth. 

I feel bad for them all. I really do.

Poor bastards.

Talking of accents...

I was assisting a photographer friend of mine once upon a time. I set up the lights, and tried to make the subjects feel at ease. 

One lad  - posh Edinburgh - had just joined the particular accountancy firm we were doing the shoot at, and was nervous. He had a big round head and a chubby body, bursting out of a fashionably tight suit. It wasn't the greatest styling.

Anyway, I asked him what he'd done recently, just to take his mind off things.

"I went to the cinemahh with some friends."

Oh, what did you see?

"Ted."

Did you like it?

"I found it very puerile."

I had to stop myself laughing - there's something about that accent that's so snooty and dismissive and of course so funny. 

Of course Ted is puerile - that's the whole point. 

I'd seen it too and thought it was hilarious. But then, I am its target audience.

It's a Miss Jean Brodie accent. In my mind somewhere between Denis Law and Fyfe Robertson with an altogether disdainful tone, and best spoken with nostrils flared.

Ayn Rand down the pub (who's been banned for 2 weeks - ha ha) speaks like that too. Can't wait to see him again when he's taking court with his bitches, spewing his plutocratic nonsense for the whole pub to hear, and talking of 'silly, opinionated women.'

Yes, how dare they...

I shall challenge the fucka. And then write about it HERE! John Otway will guide my debating style:




Lots of dot dot dots...

Yes. Punctuation. There's a thing. 

For or against?

The apostrophe was always a problem. Brought in to the English language by the Georgians, apparently most people have a problem with it.

Well, I say most people are DUMB!

Get over it and LEARN THE RULES!

That's why I'm the world's worst teacher. Doing it for them or hitting them over the head with a travel-anvil because they don't get it.

What are you up to these days, Geraint?

I'm glad you asked me that, Clarence. 

I'm writing in a posh Edinburgh accent as you can tell. 

My days are spent reading and weaning myself off of 'what's Trump said now?' videos on YouTube.

I walk Tomos every day. I speak to the dog-walkers who don't mind my presence - getting fewer by the day, restraining-orders being what they are.

I shop at Waitrose and Tescos. I sometimes meet up with people one-on-one. I see my sister. 

I need to get away at weekends more and see friends out and about.

I sometimes wash.

(Only joking.)

I cleaned the bathroom the other day - I had to be asked even though I knew it needed to be done.

I should mow the grass but I like seeing the dandelions and daisies. I remember buttercups too - don't see those anymore.

Everyone has to have a uniform lawn here. But no one ever wrote a poem about a lawn. But meadows seemed to inspire lots of people.

Oh lawny lawn,

Oh lawny lawny.

Come to me,

I'm really horny

Doesn't work.

End. 

(E.E.Cummings, aged 12 and a half.)

Oh, I ended up watching - bingeing - Fallout on Prime. It was wonderful. 9/10.

Our hero.


Tuesday, April 23, 2024

D&D-skilling

Being Boring

So I had this whole blogpost. And it was so boring; I didn't want to inflict it on you.

So you'll be pleased to learn I haven't.

I'm so interesting I have a series of novelty t-shirts. This is the latest:
My Mother does not approve

I have had many compliments from people in the pub. Well, it is the height of wit and sophistication, after all. 

That settles it: I shall buy some more.

I've always wanted a t-shirt that says 'The band on your t-shirt is crap.' You could have a whole load:

'All your opinions are rubbish'
'Why do you work at that place?'
'You're the Dungeon Master...' (I hear that a lot.)
'Why that outfit?'

They could really have an impact. Thought-provoking and fight-inducing Tees.

I should also write my guide-book for elderly - 'Around London in 13 toilets.' 

That's a good dollar, the toilet market.

Hampshire

I spent the weekend with friends in Hampshire. I'm very lucky to have friends like these - proper friends. Always there for each other.

Their dog Douglas is a golden Labrador and he is lovely. He's very calm and loving. 

I do love dogs as you know.

It's lovely to have them in your life. I've come to believe animals are nicer than humans. Well, I don't personally know any Komodo Dragons or stonefish, but you get what I mean.

Rupert (human) is very nice too. I keep calling him Wilbur (dog). I have no idea why.

Typing and flab

My typing is getting worse. Much worse. I'm having to correct so much of it as I go. I do have bad days and good days with these things.

In fact I've just raised the chair and I've already improved my typing...

But with FTD while you have ups and downs, your head will never be clear of the fog again.

So while the panic is over, I do notice decline in certain areas.

I'm properly flabby now too. 

Again.

So I am improving my breakfasts with porridge with seeds , berries and real honey. I had it this morning and it took almost the same time to make as toast. Easy. And delicious too.

I also need to borrow my sister's bike and ride around as my legs are like Crazy Legs Crane's.

Exhibit A


TV and Shit

So, as new TV series drip-drip through after the actors' strike in the US, here are some what I watched recently.

For All Mankind on Apple TV. Started off interestingly with an alternate history where the USSR beat NASA to the moon. It then focuses on the families of the astronauts. I started to fast forward through those bits to the actiony bits. This is not what sci-fi really is. I'd say it became rather like Eldorado in space. 5/10.

3 Body Problem on Netflix. Based on a 4 part series of sci-fi novels by Liu Cixin. It features lots of improbable cigarette smoking in Western offices and the Wow signal from 1977, which a Chinese scientist decoded and replied to, which turns out not to have been the best idea. It's interesting. I binged it over a couple of days so it must be good. 8/10

Fallout on Prime. Interesting and beautifully styled. But like a book I didn't watch it the next night and then 2 weeks passed. DO I care about the people in it? Not really. 6.5/10

The gaming bit you always ignore

On my 2-part session of DMing for the kids over Easter, I asked them in preparation to specifically use the old analogue method of character creation with dice, pen and paper: creating the character from concept, through to rolling for their ability scores, selecting their skills, abilities and spells, then methodically working them up to level 4, which makes them more powerful and involves some thought and some arithmetic.

2 of them did, and 3 didn't. 

The three who didn't just pressed go on the computer charactermancer and ended up with characters whose ability scores were random, so you can get a super intelligent barbarian who has the physicality of a middle-aged librarian, and the kids get frustrated because their characters are useless.

It's not much fun when you can't even pick up your battleaxe.

The modern world is all about labour-saving, shortcuts, saving time. The offshoot is deskilling: being oblivious to processes and ultimately being unable to fix or improve things.

We are reduced to pressing a button on a computer which number-crunches in microseconds, making the decisions for you.

The next session I run we are going to roll characters in the old way, which is actually part of the fun, but it does involve some thought.

I know reading big books can be a bore, but you really could force yourself to just read the bit that's applicable to your character. 

I made a late start to photography after buying a terrible digital camera in 2003, and then I went to college and learned photography using a totally manual, large-format camera and made expensive mistakes using 5"x4" Polaroids and film. 

I learned to use my own judgement when using any camera after that. 

Similarly with masonry - some people calling themselves masons can't use the hand-tools, and some places on site you can't get to with an angle-grinder - mallet and chisel is the only way.

We have deskilled ourselves over generations. Understandable as many of the jobs were exhausting and let's face it, horrible. 

But the upshot of this is we are becoming Eloi and Morlocks. And fast.

Conclusion: you can never learn too many skills. 

Icewind Dale

I'm currently preparing the above title for our next 8 month long Dungeons and Dragons adventure. Like Tomb of Annihilation it takes place in an extreme environment, and is epic in scale.

But what is slightly off-putting is the size of these adventures: this book is 300 pages long, and details new monsters, characters who the players will meet, environmental hazards, small quests, side-quests, the main quest(s). 

Let's play humans!

I can imagine this being very off-putting for new players/Dungeon Masters.

When I started 40 years ago, an adventure was 12-30 pages long, written by computer programmers (without being computer programs) and you needed to almost decode the entire adventure in order for it to make sense and be playable. 

But they were concise, the information was all there, and once you got used to them they were easy to run.

Now they're 10 times the size. That's a big difference.

But we started last Thursday and had a good time. The session zero was great - we fleshed out the characters and they are already very distinctive. 

Let's go!





Friday, April 5, 2024

Optimum Girths

Comparing Nibs

I don't think many people hand-write much these days apart from shopping lists. I hand write lots - having written a diary since I was a teenager.

I mentioned this to Mark the other day on a video call and we got our nibs out and had a comparison.

He surprised me by getting out his vintage Parkers. Beautiful things, So elegant.

While some people love watches, I love stationery.

Here are 3 of my pens: 2 Rotring Art Pens and a Lamy Accent. I had a Cross which I wrote with for years but it recently bit the big one. So I took up with the Lamy Again.

Some pens


Post

I love getting things in the post and today was a very special day. 

In 1992 on the Tottenham Court Road I did a personality test. It said I was a very BAD person.

I didn't want to be a BAD person. Luckily they had a book which would make me into a GOOD person.

It was called Dianetics.

I bought it but didn't read it. 

32 years later they're still sending me these every few months.
Contains a lock of Tom Cruise's pubes, destined for Ebay

I love how desperate/persistent they are. They have less than 40,000 estimated people left in Scientology and as a result they are running out of money. 

One of the good things about the internet is now everyone can see how preposterous it is as nothing is hidden - they can't keep a lid on their secrets anymore.

We all know about hydrogen bombs and Thetans and volcanoes and Xenu. It's laughably-bad trash-sci-fi made into a religion. And we can all see it and make fun of it all, which of course they cannot bear.

Good.

And then my new pants came as well. 
State of the (f)art pant
What a day! Can't wait to wear these bad boys.

Think I'll get the letter framed.

Accents

I like accents

When I was at school kids were bussed in from surrounding villages I'd never heard of. Some of them had accents so thick I could barely understand them.

You never hear westcountry accents elsewhere - especially London. Everyone assumes you're dumb if you speak in the westcountry burr, so if you have one people tend to lose them.

People in London - especially public school types - also think that about the Welsh. Don't believe me? Having Welsh parents I'm particularly sensitive to these things, and people say the most extraordinary things they wouldn't dare say about West Indian or Pakistani people anymore, instead directing their bigotry against other minorities.

I realise the animosity works both ways.

But you get my point.

Now that I've returned to the town of my birth I seldom hear those very strong accents from 40 years ago. I think with decades of radio, television and now social media those accents have homogenised. 

The BBC has an archive of regional accents going back to the 1920s in remote parts of rural Britain, and most have disappeared.

Thanks to those awfully bright people who run the BBC, it's no longer available.

Anus is best said in a south African accent. The south African tongue around ‘anus’ is something to behold; something to savour.

“Yah. EYEnoose is my five-reet word.” (How to speak South African.)

“ ‘andy tups.” What you get from watching daytime TV.

The same person said:

"When I shout at someone, it's all over after that."

 Well, it may be all over for you, but it may not be for them.

Bloody cardigan-wearer.

The size of heads

I have a very large head. It is in disproportion to my puny frame. I take a XL in hats. 

Not a large - AN XL!!

Jacqui has a very small head. Think a lemon and a grapefruit.


As scientific as it gets

I wish I didn't have such a massive head. 

I wish I was a little bit taller...

Why I want to live in a Carry on world

I want Barbara Windsor to wiggle past to the music of Eric Rogers.



I want Charles Hawtrey to keep a hot water bottle under his kilt because it keeps his dangler warm.

I want Valerie Leon to work in a camping shop and show me how to get the [tent} pole up.

I want Terry Scott to be Tarzan.

I want Kenneth Williams to be Kenneth Williams over and over again.

I want Bernard Bresslaw to say 'I only arsked' in his high-pitched voice.

I want Sid James to be the lothario and do his laugh and go "Cor blimey!" when he sees a naked lady.

I want Joan Sims to be absolutely disgusted when the nude men turn around.

I want compulsory double entendres.

I want distinctive, infectious laughter.

I want silly to replace depression.

I want to be a highly repressed male surrounded by right dolly birds.

And what is wrong with that?



Oh. Okay.