Questions questions questions! Which 90s movie provides the title for this week's post? What would a good last meal be? What's so interesting about a mug? Remember Sammy Jankis? What does a bookcase say about someone? Is Autumn as great a month as I think it is? And is this, the 16th Rob's Random 5, the last? All these questions and more will be answered!
1. Dinner at Eight: One of my favourite chefs, Keith Floyd, died last week. His were the first cooking shows I saw and remember watching. He had a great talent for cooking really good, hearty grub - especially big, 'one-pot' stews and casseroles - and doing it in an accessible fashion. The main reason I liked him though is because he was passionate about food without being pretentious about it (which is somewhat of a rarity on cooking shows these days), and he didn't care if things went wrong in the cooking process. And of course he was most famous for using wine, and sometimes cooking with it to. His old adage 'one glass for you and one for the pot' is one I stand by every time I cook using wine, although maybe not in such volumnous quantities (check out his interpretation of 'a dash of white wine' in the video below).
Apparently he died a happy man, after enjoying a delicious three course meal with his wife. There were oysters, pheasant (or partridge, I can't remember), and a cider jelly, all washed down with lashings of expensive, fine wines. A delicious sounding last meal, and it got me wondering what - if I could choose - my last meal would consist of. Would it include my mum's pea soup? A nice piece of sea bass? My own cheesecake? A bag of chip shop chips? They all sound good, but this is a last meal we're talking about here. The last thing you'll ingest and digest in this Universe. There are no rules: you can have anything and as much of it as you want. So what's it gonna be?
Eventually I brewed it down to the following: pizza (although I'm not sure what kind yet), two double cheeseburgers, a Melton Mowbray pork pie, some Heinz baked beans, my mum's sweetcorn pancakes, my own vanilla cheesecake, a tub of Ben & Jerry's chocolate brownie ice cream, all washed down with a bottle of '82 Margaux and a bottle of 35 year old Glenlivet. Yeah, I realise there's little that's good for you on this, but this is a LAST MEAL - there are no consequences.
So that would be my last meal. But what about yours? As I said before, what's it gonna be? Perhaps it'll be a chicken cooked by none other than Christopher Walken?
Yes, that's really him! It's not the only time he's been seen cooking chicken...
2. Book Look: The BBC ran this article about bookcases (and did you know 15 Ikea 'Billy' bookcases are made every minute?) and in it asked the intriguing question of why we display our books rather than store them away in a box or out of sight. I'd never thought about this before; that there really is no reason to put your books in a place you can't see them. I've always subscribed to the mantra that books decorate a room. If I didn't have my books on display there would be a big space on my wall. Granted, I could fill it with a cool suit of stormtrooper armour (WANT!), but it wouldn't be the same. There's something so aesthetically pleasing about a space crammed with such a variety of books; it's like a supremely personal piece of art because it looks good and is constructed from your life and tastes. What you have on display says a lot about who you are. A bookcase bursting with several editions of Proust and Mollieux probably means you're either brainy, boring or a lying show-off, a bookcase filled with a wide variety of genres and authors shows you're an well-read and well-rounded individual, whereas shelves with graphic novels squeezed on them probably means you're my kinda person! Looking at my bookcase it's easy to tell what kind of person I am: Jasper Fforde and Philip Pullman nut, lover of the Classics, and a two shelf-long fan of Batman comics. That makes me... well, I'll let you decide. What does your bookcase say about you? Are you a show-off? According to the BBC's article there's an element of this at play in all bookcases, shelves and biblio-oriented displays. Books have a "hallowed air" about them; a sense of prestige that comes from a time when books and manuscripts were for the very rich and privileged (see: every mansion/haunted house/period Regency home) and symbols of status and erudition: that you were not just rich in pocket but also rich in mind. Over time, as books have become cheaper, this notion of monetary status has waned but we still take pride in displaying our books, either because it may be a rare and sought-after first edition, a book lovingly kept since childhood or a gift from a friend. And like anything that is treasured, you want others to see it and share in your passion. This sense, not of 'showing-off' - because that words sounds too pejorative in this context - but of putting books on display to be admired by yourself and others, runs through every bookcase. For the collector there's the 'hoarder's thrill' of seeing an ever-expanding collection, and for the viewer the chance to nosey around, play detective, and learn a little about a person from what they do (and don't) read. It's like exploring the museum of an individual's life - their tastes and passions expressed through the texts they've accumulated.
Really it would be a shame to store books away in a box or out of sight. Everything about a book is designed to be looked at and touched and pored over. Putting them on display not only looks and feels great but means they're always there for you or a friend to pick up, flick through casually, and enjoy. But the best reason of all is that you spent your hard-earned cash on them, so why not enjoy them? Otherwise you may as well just bury your money in the ground and never buy another book again. I love my books, I know you love yours, and I'm always going to have mine on display. Plus, it's gonna be a while anyway before I save up for that stormtrooper armour...
3. A Mug's Game: Chances are that, whether you've got the builders in or the relatives round, you'll have to make a fair few cups of tea/coffee for thirsty guests. But isn't it awkward trying to carry more than two at once, especially if youcan't find/don't have a tea tray to put them on? Designer Jonathan Aspinall certainly thought so, and then came up with an idea so genius that it akes you smile just thinking about the simplicity of it: interlocking mugs. Brilliant! They each have a sticky-out bit and a sticky-in bit so you can link them together and carry up to six at a time. Haha! As someone who loves a good mug I can't help but love it (it still doesn't beat this mug though - I got one of these for a birthday and now drink out of little else). And if you don't pay a lot of attention to your beverage bucket of choice, you should: the mug you chug from says a lot about you. For instance, if your mug has a football on it then chances are you like football, if it if it's one of those Penguin Classic Books ones you're probably an avid book reader (the exception to that rule being my brother, who could not dislike books more), and if your mug says 'World No.1 Sex Machine' you're probably a massive ass-hat, because everyone knows official confirmation of 'World No.1 Sex Machine' can only be displayed on soup bowls and gratin dishes. Plus, science has actually proved that drinking tea or coffee out of your favourite mug makes it taste better - it's all to do with psychology and nothing to do with the hallucinogenic effects of toxic mug paint. So with so many mugs around there really is no excuse for a boring old white mug, unless you're indulging in post-postmodern irony or you break a lot of mugs. Yes people, we really are in the Golden Age of mug technology: blackboard mugs, global warming mugs, mugs that tell you how hot your tea is, freaky teeth mugs, mugs for the blind... Drink it up folks, it doesn't get any better than this.
4. Autumn: You could practically hear Summer finally snap and give way to Autumn this week. All of a sudden the humid mess of rainclouds and sporadic sunshine we vainly class as 'Summer' vanished and made way for distinctly cooler weather. The nights are growing uncannily shorter, the sunlight is weaker, and the air is crisper. The trees are on the cusp of dropping leaves and soon that sickly-sweet rotting plantlife smell will fill the air. I never used to like Autumn - it was always associated with going back to school, and being forced to play rugby on swampy pitches, or having to do Thursday CCF practice and stripping/assembling a rifle in the mud as a Sergeant bellowed at you. But now I'm no longer at school it's a season with better connotations. Autumn is all about walking through the woods kicking through piles leaves, sitting in front of the fire with a book and a wee dram o' whisky, getting your scarf and mittens out of the cupboard for the first time since March, standing on the station platform waiting for your train and making condensation clouds with your breath, coming out of work or uni or a bar and going 'Wow it gets dark early now doesn't it?', and knowing that Christmas isn't all that far off. Of course it's not all great. There are trillions of sticky leaves to clear up, colds and flus slither through the population (and oh boy won't this year be fun, what with everyone thinking they'll have the Pig Pox), and the dark mornings make getting up early a foreboding chore, but these are the prices you pay for that cosy feeling you get when you're sat in a warm house on a chilly Autumn night. Heck, at least it isn't winter.
I'm not sure what the point of this bit of this post is - maybe it's just that I like Autumn and enjoy rambling on about things and this is a collision of the two. Anyway, Autumn is a pretty good season. It won't fill you up with false promises of sunshine, blue skies and beach weather like Summer does, or with the never-appear fairytale snow scenes of Winter. It's a reliable old period of time. Leaves fall, the weather gets colder, we all catch cold, and your bed becomes an attractive hibernation unit. You know what to expect and there are never any surprises. And after the unpredictability of the British summer I like that a lot.
5. Doggy Style: File this under 'O', for 'Oh So Very Very Wrong'. A French design firm has launched a sex doll for dogs. Yes you read that right: a sex doll. For dogs. Apparently it's meant as a replacement for the usual victims of canine carnality such as cushions and neighbour's legs. The dog romances this instead of your granny's ottoman. Terr-ific. And people wonder why I don't like animals. Apparently it's easy to teach your hound to hump it and, I quote, "To clean it you just have to pull the hole out and wash it with soap and water". Charming. I think they were talking about the doll there and not your dog.
I'm not a dog owner so I don't know what people who possess pooches think of this. To me it just sounds wrong. Maybe that's just me though. I always thought there was a 'snippier and snappier' solution to such a problem as an...'over-excited' dog. But what do you think? You can read the article and see a picture of the item here at Digital Spy. I think it looks like a balloon animal hound of the Baskervilles. Plus it costs £360. Couldn't you just nail some planks of wood together into a vaguely dog-shape for much less than that? Actually, best not; you don't want your dog getting splinters...or catching fire from the friction.
Anyway, I hereby submit this as evidence in the case that 'Life is Getting Weirder'. Good job I've got this blog to cope with it all...
Well m'dears, that's all for this week's Random 5, and for the next few months as my job as 'Robert Smedley: Action Accountant!' commences next week. There'll probably be one more cartoon up before next Friday but then that'll be it for a little while. Once I get into the routine of early mornings, accountancy homework, wearing shoes that aren't made by Converse, and audit stuff I'll be back posting the Random 5 and cartoons on a more regular basis and the oddness will continue. And don't worry, I won't be yakking on about the heady world of business. It will not be mentioned at all. This blog is a work free zone (plus I'd get fired for breaking ethics codes and client confidentiality and I don't want that) and it's just pure cartoons and craziness here. And many thanks as always to you fine people out there who regularly read my random rantings and put up with me. I do very much appreciate it.
So until next time, take care, and keep watching the skies... unless you're driving and then you should probably keep your eyes on the road.