Wednesday, August 27, 2008

h$*&$*&$JHhF*&&&&

Dear Work Colleague,

Please, please, please SHUT THE FUCK UP or I will use my special stapler to crack your stupidly shaped head open like the egg it motherfucking is.

From me.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Scenes from a workplace #64

Me: Answering the phone at 10pmish at the pub: Hello?
Boss: Hi it's (Boss' name) look I'm just wondering if you know what time (important conference) is on tomorrow?
(Long silence in which I wonder if it's possible to guess)
Me: Maybe um... 10am? No wait 9am? Wait... (spotting passing waiter) I think that wine is mine... um I mean yeah sometime tomorrow... maybe.
(Another long silence in which only scorn is audible)
Boss: Right. So... no idea then?
(Brief pause)
Me: No, not technically.
Boss: Right.
Me: Sorry I'm qui- (luckily by this time said boss has hung up - thank fuck).

Sunday, August 24, 2008

In other news


HoYay: Noun, abbreviated from 'Homoeroticism, Yay!' The phrase originated from the television programme Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and is used most commonly in various internet fandoms. It can also be an exclamation of glee.

(Today's hoyay was brought to you by the bloggers Thom and Dans. Thanks you two, it certainly improved the look of my Sunday at work.)

On balance...

There are plenty of things I don't particularly like about my job.

There are long hours - for a start - which mean I frequently start and end the day feeling absolutely buggered and become a hideous snapping shrew to anyone foolish enough to ask me how I'm going. They mean I am constantly late to anything that happens on a weeknight and frequently too buggered to do much on a weekend anyway.

It is also high-stress, and while I guess everyone feels that way about what they do, there is something about working to a daily deadline that precludes much in the way of down time. Ever*.

Then there is the slightly embarassing fact that I'm not actually that frightfully good at it, meaning I frequently find myself lurching from one embarassment to another as gaps (more like chasms) in my knowledge are displayed for all to see, constantly hoping I might get away with it for Just One More Day.

And between you and me the pay's not too crash hot, either.

But the thrill of a day like today when you have a breaking news story that genuinely makes you excited to cover it and - more than anything else - to feel that you've got your part, however small, in what people will read about over their breakfast tomorrow (only the certain types of people who read certain parts of the paper, in my case, obviously) cancels a lot of that out. Exactly what proportion of the crap is cancelled out by the good, precisely, is a calculation to be done by someone with a better grasp of maths than me but it's up there.

Then again, ask me as I drag my corpse-like body out of bed at some ungodly hour tomorrow and I may have rejigged the sums just a little.

(*Also, in hindsight, this comment does seem slightly at odds with the fact that I inevitably DO find time for directionless blogging during work hours and excessive internet perusal for non-work purposes. So, you know, I might be full of crap.)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Speaking of rambling...

Late last year, as some of you may recall, I sort of Dropped My Shit for awhile and went a bit loopy. Thanks to some severe sleep deprivation and some ill adviced vices I basically turned into a sleepless, weeping, regularly quite, quite drunk zombie prone to bursting into tears at shampoo commercials and ill-advised phonecalls/emails at three in the morning.

And it was around that lovely time that I became quite a fan of walking. Or, should I say, of rambling. Because there’s no lycra, sneakers or hand weights in what I do: it’s more about going for what my Grandma would probably call A wee stroll. At least maybe she would if she were scottish.

I started rambling partly in an attempt to tire my body sufficiently that It would motherfucking let me get some goddamn sleep (mixed results on that front) but I kept doing it because it’s surprisingly enjoyable. But you have to do it right.

The Ramble is different to The Walk in many respects. For a start you need a destination, even if that destination is as dull as the library, the shops or, if you’re lucky, the pub. Admit that you’re heading out just for the hell of it and you break the first rule of rambling: go somewhere, just go slow. The art of the ramble exists in taking your sweet arse time to get somewhere else where you’re going to do absolutely nothing of much consequence. One doesn’t ramble to a job interview or en route to the weekly Big Shop – you can walk, sure, but it’s simply not the same.

Similarly one can’t, for instance, ramble in the morning before work, or at night after work: you need time and no fixed deadline to be anywhere important for a couple of hours. An ipod is optional and sunglasses are a must so you can check out fellow ramblers without being spotted. Supplies are essential to enable you to do what you fancy: whether it’s reading your book in the sun for a bit or slipping in a cheeky shandy. You certainly need money because popping in and out of shops you never knew existed to buy things you almost certainly don’t need is another key plank in the rambling manifesto. Without money, again, I’m Sorry you may well be having a grand old time but you’re actually on a walk, not a ramble.

Circuitous routes are favoured, as there’s nothing more depressing and less in the spirit of rambling than slugging your way along a three lane road while car exhaust clogs your pores. You don’t need to be scaling fences or, heaven forfend, stick to designated walking tracks but a saunter via a parks or an interesting back street renders any outing at least 3.75 times more enjoyable as a straight trudge along bitumen. And that’s just science.

Finally, it was good ol’ Nietzsche who said all truly great thoughts are conceived while walking and while I apologise for quoting him because there are few things that come off quite as wanky as quoting Nietzsche on anything (I may as well just wear a black beret and smoke moodily right now) I think he had a fair point. But the very last thing you must do on a ramble is Try to Think. Rambling is an activity that requires little thought and should therefore be treated as such. Go rambling in an attempt to break writer’s block or Make a Big Decision and you will return weeping in either rage or frustration – neither of which could rightly be termed particularly ramblelike by any definition of this (partly-made-up) term you should choose to use.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Token Smokin' Hottie: Julian Rhind-Tutt*


I am in love. Madly, madly in loved with a scruffy laybout who wears his hair in his face, dresses like he’s just got out of bed and barely opens his mouth to talk. I speak, of course, of that delightful ragamuffin Julian Rhind-Tutt.

What is there to say about exactly how pathetic it is to fancy someone just because you’ve seen them on the telly? Worse – you don’t even fancy them, you fancy a fictional character they have portrayed. It’s about as lame as harbouring a crush on Jay Gatsby. Who is, in any case, kind of a douche.

And yet somehow this past weekend I’ve given Julian RT six hours of my life by way of a shameful Green Wing binge merely for the chance to see him wearing scrubs, making moved on drink chicks and going for a bit of a naked motorbike ride. Ahem, no, and I didn’t make that last bit up either.

I could tell you I like Julian RT because of his delightfully toffee double-barelled surname. Which I DO like rather a lot. Or I might suggest it’s because he comes off so charming yet amusingly self-deprecating in interviews. Which he does. But the truth is that my crush was borne before I knew so much as his name.

The sad, sad truth is that I fancy him because he’s aesthetically pleasing (cheekbones check, come hither eyes check, a-dorable smile double check - none of which, I concede, are incredibly visible in this photo) and because he plays A Cool Character on the telly. Which, luckily, is about as much as you need, if you’re a Token Smokin’ Hottie, in my book. Which is probably why a less classy girl than myself might rename this section "dudes on TV whom I would quite like to nail should the opportunity arise and my boyfriend allowed me a freebie". Luckily I still have my breeding.

* And by the way, is it just me or would "Rhind-Tutt" be a fairly cool bit of (semi) rhyming slang for "fuck"? I'm going to make this work...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Anatomy of the perfect music video clip

The perfect music video clip doesn’t just happen, you know – it takes work and there’s a formula involved. Certain boxes to be checked, if you will. As a long time watcher, first time commentator I should know. And I’m not talking about the shit you see these days featuring gyrating pre-pubescent lip-synchers, designed apparently purely to attract middle aged masturbators. Done right it’s a beautiful thing and there’s a delicate balance involved, damnit.

So for our case study today, let’s take a look at Michael Jackson’s Beat It – to my mind one of the greatest video clips ever.

But why?

Let’s take the basics out first, with a view to getting them out of the way. The presence of A GOOD SONG, for instance, is, you know, moderately important. James Blunt may be pumping out some corkers on the music video front but there’s not enough time in the world for me to get around to watching them, if you see what I mean. And while I can’t say for sure whether Beat It is on my ipod or in my CD collection I doubt there’s a reader here who hasn’t enjoyed a bit of an (albeit shameful) dance to it in his or her life – whether it’s in a public setting or in the privacy of one’s own bedroom. Hey, I don’t judge.

EYE CANDY is… well it’s not necessary, arguably, but it is desirable for a number of obvious reasons. And call me crazy but Michael Jackson actually looks sort of, um… c’mon don’t make me say it. But he really totally does. Don’t give me the stink eye, readership – you would go there and so would I.

But, really, all that is window dressing. A mediocre song can be improved with a kick arse video clip, and I’m prepared to watch ugmos for four minutes, providing there’s some sort of extreme entertainment value involved. And entertainment in spades is what this little beauty delivers.

Starting with SUSPENSE.

The first time you see this video clip your first thought (if you’re me at least) is What The Fuck Is Going On. I mean, for a start who are these random dudes (who clearly AREN”T Michael Jackson) in a diner and why are they… wait, are they rounding up a posse? And why is that dude coming out of the sewer…?

Then Michael Jackson pops up (in, by the way, the most awesome t-shirt I’d ever seen until I got an eyeful of James Franco’s shark-eating-a-kitten triumph in Pineapple Express) but there’s no obvious connection between what he’s doing (poncing about) and what everyone else in the clip is doing (also poncing about but en masse).

So for about three quarters of the clip you can see these other dudes getting set for a rumble, while MJ fucks about in a jacket looking vaguely tortured (and, btw, sort of hot. And fuck you.) and it’s, frankly, entirely unclear how one storyline will meet up with the other. In short: you’re not quite sure what’s going to happen.

Which brings us to…

THE TWIST

So the whole video is building up to this kick arse rumble, right? And you know it’s going to be kick arse because the two guys leading the rival gangs both look like they just swallowed the 80s. If you can’t be arsed watching the video above allow me to paint you a word picture by saying simply this: one of them is wearing a white (denim?) jacket featuring a giant picture of a DRAGON on the back of it. And on we go.

So it’s rumble time – there’s some extremely unconvincing stab action going on and then MJ busts in, walks between the gang leaders and… starts… dancing. DANCING. And instead of getting a shiv to the side suddenly they’re all doing it – and I don’t mean finger clicking and toe-tapping: I’m talking COORDINATED HIP GYRATIONS. Phew, who saw that one coming?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Zzzzz

Some time ago now I woke up one morning to find Boyfriend Andy on his hands and knees beside the bed, desperately dragging everything out from under it while insisting a mutual friends of ours was stuck under there.

For most people, perhaps, this might have been disturbing.

For people like me, whose significant other is a chronic sleepwalker, it's pretty much par for the course.

Unlike ordinary people I have become accustomed to waking to find my partner tangled in the blinds, insisting he is ensnared in power cords or attempting to "hold up" the wardrobe while yelling at me to Get Off The Fucking Bed.

These unpredictable, but inevitable, episodes aren't nearly so frustrating or frightening as you might imagine. They're actually quite fun. Not only do you get the hi-larity factor of recounting them the next day ("and then you said the walls were moving closer... honestly you did") there is the simple but sweet joy of getting to bring your partner out of it.

"Now honey," you say in your firmest but kindest voice, "don't you think you could POSSIBLY be imagining some of this? Is it, you know, logical, that a flying monkey would really be in our bed right now?"

He denies it. Sometimes angrily. You insist, gently but - still - firmly. He wavers. You push. Eventually he agrees. He lies back in bed.

This is the first time he has ever let you win an argument in your life.

Of course there is a downside. There always is. So immune have I, and presumably hundreds like me, become to these fits of fancy in the middle of the night that it is virtually impossible to shake me from my sleepy calm or convince me to take allegations that the floor has turned into a whirpool seriously. I have seen it all and heard it all - sometimes twice in one night.

And so the ultimate, grissly, end to this sorry situation seems somehow inevitable.

"Darling," I say in my Firm Yet Calm Voice, my eyes still half closed in sleep as a masked intruder begins the process of stabbing both me and Boyfriend Andy to death with a sharp implement, "don't you think it's possible this is, you know, all in your head?"

Monday, August 11, 2008

Tastes like the opposite of victory

The taste of a Monday off on the tongue is so much sweeter than that of an ordinary weekend day off. Why is that?

Partly, perhaps, it's the slightly naughtiness of it - I quite legitimately have today off work but somehow I still feel like I'm pulling a sickie. Then there's the fact that on the weekend there's a certain requirement to catch up with people, go out and see friends. And it's not that I don't enjoy all of the above but a day off all to yourself, with nobody else in the house, and nobody suggesting you do something, is wonderfully relaxing: the lifestyle equivalent of a piping hot bath after a hard day's labour. If I knew what that felt like.

Even so, there is also something quite terrible about a day all to oneself that only occurred to me today as I lay, curled on the couch with a pair of new shoes at my elbow and a stack of fresh library books on my lap. And the terrible thing is this: that only on a day off when you have nothing to do, when you can, in theory, do exactly what you want, are you forced to realise exactly what sort of person you are.

Take me, for example, and the line I am very fond of trotting out when I simply can't be arsed doing what I supposedly love best - writing. There are plenty of excuses to go with: a full time job, friends, family and a borderline drinking problem (kidding, Mum). The shorthand for all of which is that I simply Don't Have Time.

And yet when I do have the time - ie; today - what do I do? Settle down for the day with my laptop and a head full of ideas? Er, not quite, but I did read a very good book and buy a truly awesome pair of shoes. Ahem. Now you start to see the problem.

This I can't brush away as not having enough time, being too tired from work or having Too Much To Do. I had nothing to do. And yet I did nothing.

Sometimes there's something to be said for a ten hour day.

Monday Musings

"One cannot lose what one has not possessed.
So much for that abrasive gem.
I can lose what I want. I want you."

(Geoffrey Hill, The Songbook of Sebastian Arrurruz)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Oh Captain my captain?

Apologies for being a slack blogger but I've been awfully busy, having been back at uni for the past two days. Or, to put it another way, I haven't been back at uni at all - it just feels that way.

I've spent the past two days on a work-related media law course and it's been flipping great. Not just because it means two days away from my desk and Proper Work but because it's been awhile since I've had a free two days to actually spend just, well, learning.

It has also however, reminded me exactly why I should Never Go Back to Uni. Ever.

Going back to uni has always had it's appeal. Indeed, the idea pops up every six months or so and I spend a few weeks dreaming of jackets with elbow patches, looking brainy in glasses and having a Gael Garcia Bernal look-alike (sometimes with, sometimes without glasses) help me pick up my giant stack of uber intellectual books when I drop them in the library. Of course in these day dreams I never have to really think about exactly what I'll be, you know, DOING, at uni, but the idea is an attractive one.

However, the past two days have reminded me just how flipping exhausting and humbling it can be to bloody learn things every freaking day.

For a start it makes you feel stupid. Most of the time I can get away with feeling reasonably non-stupid, given that all my intellectual jousting is more or less done either with the TV while I'm watching Make Me A Supermodel (read: I yell things at the TV sometimes, occassionally things I believe to be witty) or giving chat at parties (read: I drunkenly corner someone and talk to them about last night's episode of House until they drown themselves in the punch bowl or punch me in the face). Only when you have someone super brainy talking to you for seven hours a day over to days about a subject you know very little about do you realise how ignorant you are.

And for a few hours it's great because it makes you hungry for more and you find yourself fascinated by a world you'd never been exposed to before. Cut to a few extra hours later, however, and you're weeping softly in the corner, rocking gently back and forth and whispering 'make it stop, please make it stop'. Because it is exhausting. Just really tiring having to THINK constantly and ask questions endlessly. I admire people who go back to do PhD's or whatever because that's pretty much what they're letting themselves in for but me? I'm too lazy.

It's experiences like this, too, that make me look back at my own uni experience a little more critically and wonder if perhaps I haven't rewritten history. I remember, yes, the intellectual curiosity and the excitement of being exposed to a genuinely new idea. But what about the horror tutorials when I was forced to give an hour long presentation on a subject I barely understood or a book I'd not technically got around to finishing? The painful monologues from the hair flicking English tutor capable of infusing a lecture on the greatest American novel ever written (The Great Gatsby, since you asked) with all the excitement of an episode of Deal or No Deal.

Really the way I romanticise the crap out of uni is exactly the way I romantacise the crap out of uni boys: in my mind the boys I knew back then were all delicious brainboxes who used words like "subjugate", got angry over Important Issues and wore black quite a lot. Somehow I've managed to block out the parts where they all turned out to be either pretentious posers who responded "not... physically" when asked if they were a bit cold, or lured me to their house only to wait until we were alone before revealing their life ambition was to engage in hand-to-paw combat with wolves. Armed with a KNIFE.

So I may keep the dreams, possibly even with a tweed jacket or two in my wardrobe just in case, but I won't delude myself into believing I should ever, ever go back there again. I'll save my little grey cells for solving Agatha Christie films before the end and, you know, drinking.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Ouch

A few years ago I woke up one morning to find that I couldn't move my right arm properly. Or, rather, I could move it but it hurt like a bitch when I did so. Not, I can tell you right now, the best surprise I've ever woken up to. The cause of the injury was a mystery but the problem, it later transpired, was a rotator cuff injury - exactly as much fun as it sounds.

Unfortunately this unwanted (and undeserved, damnit) malady has since returned with disturbing regularity - including a surprise visit this past week or so. This, naturally, is a pain in every sense of the word but the interesting part is not so much trying to figure out how to do up a bra one handed (tip: don't) but watching how my body copes with the injury.

Because the weird thing is, I could swear my body has a mind of its own. As strange as it sounds I can feel the rest of my body compensating for my pathetic excuse of a right arm constantly in order to minimise the pain: my left arm automatically reaching out to do tasks it has never dared to do before and my behaviour changing to allow it to do so. And this is with zero effort on my part.

So, naturally, it got me thinking about just how clever our bodies can be sometimes in helping us to avoid pain and - more importantly - how much better it would be if they could apply this kind of cunning to everything else.

Emotional pain, for a start. I mean, when you enter into a new relationship, for instance, it's pretty likely to end in heartbreak. This is not me being maudlin - this is merely statistics. The odds, I'm afraid, are not good.

So how much better if our bodies could sense such things and Throw Us a Flipping Bone. Have your legs rendered useless and yourself unable to leave the house, perhaps, if you start to fall in love with the wrong person. Only after several weeks of bed-bound reflection when you decide that, No, Billy Ray is actually bad news will your legs take pity on you and allow you to get up and get on with it. So much as think about going after your friend's ex-boyfriend and you'll find your hand writing 'Just Don't - thank me later' on the mirror in lipstick one morning.

Of course, as soon as you start to take this idea further things - as so-and-so-said - fall apart and the centre cannot hold. Childbirth, for instance, is supposedly not the dreamiest way to spend 12 hours. So why go through it at all? Why not have your womb rendered a cold inhospitable place where nothing can grab a toehold to circumvent the pain altogether? That may sound pretty good to me but not, surely, to everyone else.

Similarly, exercise can be the source of much pain - aching muscles, tired feet etc. So why should our bodies allow us to get on with it at all? Is it not much kinder to allow ourselves to recline on the couch, growing more and more voluminous with each passing day as Jean Paul wedges another cream bun into our collective gullet? Or is the pain of having our organs ultimately crushed by a thick layer of fat, our lungs struggling to breath and our jowls sagging southward greater than the initial pain of sore limbs?

Is emotional pain worse than physical pain or is it the way around? How does our body decide? Did the Divinyls have it right when they said it's a fine line between pleasure and pain? And, in a related question, have I maybe gone a bit gung ho on the pain killers this morning?