Yes, it's the article that overturns the jeep of rationality and then knocks down the straw hut toilet of common sense. Rawr!
1. Spider Man: Spiders everywhere at Smedley Towers lately. So many that it's starting to look like Metebelis 3 round here. I'm fairly tolerant of spiders, up to the point where they become so big as to pose a threat to small furnishings and myself. The little ones, even the medium sized ones, I let roam free around my walls. It's the big fat ones or the quick ones with incredibly long legs that I have to take care of as they're noticeably large and tend to distract my line of vision with their size/rapidity when I'm trying to watch TV or work. Unfortunately it's only May and the worst is yet to come, as it's in August when the full grown B-Movie bastards literally open the door by themselves and scuttle in. Terrifying. I'm going to have to find some way of arming myself against them (shotgun and a Dyson?). If you know of any methods for spider repelling, do let me know. Time's running out.
2: The Loneliness of the Long Distance Traveller: Much as I'm scared of flying, there are still plenty of places I'd love to go visit, particularly in the US. I currently have a hankering to go to Boston. Don't ask why. I've heard good things about it from people and as a traveller I just like to just visit places I've never visited before and that aren't number 1 on peoples' 'Must See' lists. I've had more than enough holidays to Spain, thanks. The only problem for a young traveller such as myself is that I have no one to go with. And I've travelled solo before and it's rubbish. You just end up talking to yourself about what you plan to do tomorrow while trying to enjoy a drink on a lonely bar stool that feels conspicuously high. It also means you have no one to hold your camera for you or laugh at your passport photo, no one to have dinner with, no one to share the sights with, and, worst of all, no one to talk about your holiday experiences with once it's all done and the clothes are waiting to have the sand washed out of them. No, singular travel is like watching The Wizard of Oz entirely in black and white: you'll see the film, hear the dialogue, know the plot, but it'll just be lacking that one vital ingredient to make it truly special.
Of course, if you're lucky enough to have friends with the time-off and the money to travel with that's great - it's how I was able to enjoy Biarritz last year – likewise if you have a boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband/blob of sunburned sentient matter to accompany you. Unfortunately I have nothing of that sort (I mean, I do have friends of course, but, oh you get my point) and so I'm fated to drag the wheelie suitcase on my own. Is that such a bad thing as I've made out? Possibly not. You can go wherever you please whenever you fancy, and the actual act of travelling, the journey, is always easier when it's just one of you to worry about. But I'm sure you'll agree that the best things in life tend to happen with two.
So will I end up travelling to Boston or some other location? I don't know. Depends how conspicuously high the barstools are there.
3: Rawr!: A very huge thank you to all of you who are enjoying and spreading the 'Grandpa T-Rex' dailies. I have no idea how many people see them as Blogger doesn't have a site meter thingy, but that doesn't bother me as it's just genuinely lovely to know that even a few people like them, and it's nice for me to be able to put out a cartoon every day. This is a cartoon blog after all. But also doing Grandpa T-Rex cartoons satisfies my curiosity and love of dinosaurs. From the age of 5 to 16 I wanted to be a palaeontologist more than anything else in the whole world. Some kids just love dinosaurs. I loved to know more about them. In my spare time I read endlessly about dinosaurs and the men who dug them up. About the Bone Wars between Othniel Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope, about extinction theory and evolution, and even hadrosaur dental structure (I was a junior specialist on the teeth of the Anatotitan at age nine). I learned the anatomy of a diplodocus, how a baryonyx caught it's prey, how the seismosaur got its name, drew anatomical drawings of a Pachycephalosaur to get my GCSE in art, everything. I drank up the facts. And sadly it was only mediocre results in biology that stopped me, else I would be digging up bones and not writing stories. It's a life I sometimes still dream and sigh about, jealous of alternate universe Rob's job as a palaeontologist, digging up bones in Death Valley and drinking celebratory scotch over a newly unearthed Janinosaurus (I promised I'd name my first discovery after my mum). Anyway, enough of that. Here are a few facts about Grandpa T-Rex...
-Grandpa T-Rex ALWAYS faces the same direction in his cartoons. You might have noticed this, you might not. There's no specific reason for this; that it's how the first few were drawn and after that it caught on and has now become part of the style of the cartoon. Plus, and I can't fathom quite why, he just looks better then drawn from that side. Anyway, it's become sort of the one unbreakable rule of mine that he can never face the other way. It'd just be weird otherwise.
-His tail tells you his mood. If you check back through all the cartoons you'll see that when he's happy, his tail is up. When he's grumpy or angry or tired, his tail is down. You might say that this rule is broken when he's being racist to a triceratops, but I think that's because he enjoys being a racist old man and telling people what for.
-You might wonder what time period Grandpa T-Rex lives in. Well, it's on a Thursday somewhere between the late Cretaceous and Now.
-My grandma, Granny Smedley, is where I get a lot of inspiration for Grandpa T-Rex. The other stuff is old people cliches. My Great Uncle Bob is where I get some of the look for him. The rest is pure Tyrannosaur.
-Grandpa T-Rex's slanted half-shut eyes just sort of caught on. In the first two cartoons they were only drawn because he was squinting or sneezing, but they help him look like an old dinosaur and so they stuck.
-He ALWAYS wears a cardigan, but other items of clothing worn include a bow tie, flat cap, driving goggles, a trilby hat, night gown and night cap (his cardigan is under his night gown, honest).
-Old people always know another old person who really riles them up. Grandpa T-Rex's nemesis is Old Mister Spinosaur (who I always imagine to talk like 'Old Jewish Guy' on The Simpsons). Why a Spinosaurus? Because Spinosaurus Aegyptiacus is cool (told you I wanted to be a palaeontologist) and because it looks sufficiently different to a T-Rex. Also because that Spinosaur and a T-Rex fight in the atrocious Jurassic Park 3.
4: The Reader: I'm going through a big non-fiction period at the minute, reading books on science, history (weird history, like the history of Coca-Cola or the life of J. Kellogg), social interaction, psychology, economics and quantum mechanics. I've said it before; I have a super-massive soft spot for quantum mechanics. In fact I haven't read a piece of fiction (not counting graphic novels) since the first weeks of January. Nearly six months. Ooh! Shocking! The last fiction book I read was Jasper Fforde's ffrankly disappointing 'Shades of Grey' and since then I've had a hankering for learning stuff. I don't like it when I'm not being taught new things. Makes my brain feel stagnant. Not all the books I've read have been great, but there have been some un-put-downable ones. If you fancy a break from fiction, or just want something new to add to your reading pile, here are my recommendations for non-fiction books covering everything from sherry to spaghettifcation. They're all ones I've read or re-read in the past six months and are well worth a gander.
Flipnosis (Kevin Dutton): Great book this. Read it through from cover to cover and stopped only to make myself a cup of coffee. It's all about the art of split-second persuasion in our world; from how it works in the Animal Kingdom to its uses in our everyday life. It tells you what babies have in common with psychopaths, how sitting on your hands will help you avoid being punched, why sex sells, how a single word can change your entire perception of someone, how you can unrdetsnad tihs snetecne eevn touhgh it's sepllnig's all wonrg, and that in the wrong hands persuasion can be wielding almost like a weapon. It's jam-packed with case studies, stories and anecdotes that help you understand the subject matter without ever leaving you feeling overwhelmed, and author Kevin Dutton has a really relaxed and likeable style. A brilliant examination of a cutting-edge science that might even help you in your own life.
A History of the World in Six Glasses (Tom Standage): A really accessible history book that examines civilizations and progress through six individual drinks: tea, coffee, wine, beer, spirits, and coca-cola. It's full of interesting facts (like how Tab, the clear cola, was a product of the Cold War) and while not the most in-depth study it really gets across just how important drinks have been and how they've shaped our culture and progress through the years. The section on Coca-Cola is particularly entertaining, as it's a drink with a short but intriguing history.
The Goldilocks Enigma (Paul Davies): Why is the Universe just right for Life? Is the Universe pointless? Is there a Multiverse? Is it just turtles all the way down? Paul Davies runs through everything from flavoursome quarks to dark matter with a lucidity and simplicity that will please even the most physics-phobic reader. It's one of those science books where you can tell the writer has a real passion for the subject, but who also knows not to get so carried away as to boggle the minds of his audience. At the end of each chapter there are delicious bite-size summaries of all the key points, so if you can't quite recall what spaghettification is, or you want to sum up M Theory then it's all in GCSE revision style bullet points. A great book that'll leave you questioning not just your existence, but the existence of everything.
Bad Science (Ben Goldacre): You'll have probably seen this one when you walk into Waterstones as it's won a lot of praise over the past few years. Rightly so, as it's a laser-sharp, sometimes uncomfortable examination of the scare-mongering medical journalism that has become so popular in the past decade, taking you through how shaky statistics, half-truths by pharmaceutical corporations, and the jabbering nonsense world of homeopathy have all turned us into a nation obsessed with an unhealthy obsession with health. If you hate The Daily Mail's (so called) 'Health' section then you're gonna love this book.
Made in America (Bill Bryson): I must have read this book about six times or more in the past three years. Bryson does history and science as well as he does travel (A Short History of Nearly Everything is a wonderful book and one I intend to re-read soon. Mother Tongue is also great), and Made in America is him at his best. It's packed with obscure, entertaining and amazing facts about everything that made America the nation that it is today. Language, food and drink, sex, advertising, sport, movies...everything is covered through the nation's history. Learn what cock ale was, how the railways basically commanded time, how a bet on a horse heralded the movie industry in California, where the first hamburger was invented, how a Presidential assassination led to air conditioning, and what the American national anthem originally sounded like. Funny, factual and fascinating.
If you've read a really good non-fiction novel then I'd love to hear about it as I'm always on the lookout for something new to read on the train!
5. Ore-Oh: I don't like Oreos. There, I said it. Feels good to get it out actually. I always thought I did like them, but then my consumption of them has largely been in an oblique manner; in milkshakes or ice creams. I actually had one in its standard form the other day and much to my surprise it wasn't a pleasant experience. I can't quite explain why, except to say that an Oreo feels very much to me like a chocolate Bourbon that didn't quite make the mark. The chocolate biscuit doesn't taste chocolatey and leaves a nasty taste in the mouth and the bit that is quite good, the filling, is nowhere near plentiful enough. I'm aware you can get ones with twice as much filling in, but frankly it still wouldn't be enough to overwhelm the chalky brown biscuit that's double-teaming it.
It doesn't help that it's a biscuit that thinks it's more than the sum of its parts (you ain't no custard cream, Oreo!) by building up its own set of 'instructions', displayed prominently on packaging and in remote-smashingly aggravating adverts with children so annoying that you could throw them into industrial biscuit-making equipment. 'Pull it, lick it, dunk it'? Don't tell me how to eat my fucking biscuit, I'm British! We put ours on the saucer in readiness for dunking! Honestly, it's the only biscuit I know of in the whole world that comes with unnecessary suggestions for consumption. Hob Nobs don't come with a 'Dunk me twice to soften me up, then eat me!' command and nor do Fox's Party Rings demand you put wear them on your fingers and nibble the icing off them before throwing the biscuity residue to a passing crow. No, they don't care how you eat them. They just want you to enjoy them. Yet somehow the Oreo has the balls-out audacity to tell you how it likes to be eaten because it thinks it knows how you'll enjoy it best. Split, licked, put back together and then dunked in milk? What a fucking liberty. I'm not five, I like to dip my biscuit in my tea or coffee and then eat it, not perform surgery on it. I will not have a sub-par biscuit ordering me about, no sir.
Mind you, despite its massive shortcomings and irrational serving suggestions, the Oreo's still not the worst biscuit on planet Earth. That award goes to those godawful pink wafers. You definitely don't want to get me started on them.
Right, sorry for taking up so much of your time. More cartoons to follow. Now go find something useful to do.
Tuesday, 18 May 2010
Yes, it's the article that overturns the jeep of rationality and then knocks down the straw hut toilet of common sense. Rawr!