Friday, 29 July 2011

Stumble/don't stumble.

It would seem from all the evidence, that I'm picking on Julie, that I don't report the good Gems as well as the silly ones. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are many times when Julie has managed to silence me (stop sniggering!) with a well-timed rejoinder; it's just that general consensus is that they're not nearly as entertaining as the mistakes and rambles.

This one is different. And yet.. it's very familiar, just one step away from rambling away with the logic of Wonderland
The scene: a car park. We're walking across it when Julie stumbles momentarily over nothing, scraping her shoe.

Now, if I had been quick enough to recover, I could have replied that Julie could have always got home using her flights of fancy.
Nah. That was crap and I know it. You win, Julie.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Ambrose Bierce vs. Julie's Gems - the result

It's a few days late (for which I apologise fulsomely), but here we go.

A couple of weeks ago, we opened a little free prize draw in which the gift in question was a brand-new copy of  The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce. Today, after headaches, dead camera batteries and sheer fatigue, we can now reveal the three lucky winners of the books. Of course, this means you are going to be treated to another shambolic, utterly unscripted video clip from the two if us.
Here you go!

So there you have it - congratulations and hats off to the winners. Or is it hats on?

Once again, congratulations to Roy, Pierre and especially Nial - sorry - Iain... I suppose it wouldn't be right if we didn't manage to fit at least one Gem in there, would it?

Geography versus Geometry

I was thinking the other day that it had been quite some time since Julie had graced us with a geographically-themed Gem, so I had a little root through the mess of bits of paper accumulating on my desk. It wasn't too long before I happened upon a good one. Unfortunately, it wasn't good enough to stand on its own, so I had to keep on searching...
...aahhh, yes. That will do very nicely.

The problem with trying to get Julie's Gems down is establishing context. Seriously, simply trying to write things down as quickly as they're said is hard enough, let alone attempting to add illustrative detail.
I have absolutely no idea what we were doing or talking about, but I can hazard a strong guess that this beauty earned Julie The Look.
Now, where wa... oh yes - the partial Gem. This one I do remember. It was following one of Julie's little slips such as the one above that I was trying to sketch out the relative positions of various countries of the world.
It wasn't going well. Even with the help of an atlas.
Eventually, we gave it up as a bad job and Julie really hammered home the final nail with this comment.

Thank you and good night...


Next up - the result of the free book draw!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Waterfools, numbers and nuts - oh my!

I't double-dose Monday! However, a word of caution; NSFW if your boss is a humourless, puritanical dick.

A good friend of mine was out and about the other day, enjoying the sun and sea air. Out on the sea was a tug performing a display of its high pressure water jets. Now, there's a very obvious reason for these water jets, but one that seems to have completely passed by one observer...

Apparently, this woman was being entirely serious and seemed to be about to go and suggest to the owner of the tug a function he already performed.
Shortly after this, a young lady decided she wanted an ice-cream and approached a van for such a purpose. Now, I don't know about other countries, but here in Britain, ice cream vans sell a certain popular item; soft ice-cream from a machine doled out onto a bland wafer-type cone and then a Flake is rather unceremoniously  prodded into the top of it all.

This combo is known for some bizarre reason as a '99' (don't ask me why, I have no idea - even the Wiki page isn't too clear on the whole thing). It's a singularly unappetising thing, but immensely popular - and I'll admit to not being immune to its charms on occasion. As was this next lady, who, it would appear, would not be able to list number skills on her CV...

My friend had to walk away at this point. It was either that or laugh in the woman's face...


Ok, so the free draw is now closed and the names have been gathered. I'm too tired and headachey to do the draw and video for it tonight, so expect it in the next couple of days (if you want to make a late entry to win a copy of the book, then nip in while you can!).

Friday, 22 July 2011

Well, what a get-up!

Julie was talking to one of her colleagues the other day. It was a pretty muggy and nothing was going right. This colleague said to Julie the following classic line; "My get up and go has got up and gone." My wife was duly sympathetic, but of course had to go that extra yard or three...

Obviously, the various parts of Julie's psyche have rather full lives themselves. Oh, and talking of which, this reminds me of something Julie has a little trouble with. It's just a little verbal slip, that's all, but she does find it hard to get the correct pronunciation for some words, despite many attempts to correct it. One good example is 'gesundheit'. For some reason, this keeps coming out as 'Good and tight', which is incongruous for the circumstances, to say the least.
However, it's when referring to her own... unique psyche that we have most fun. Especially when she refers to an alternative personality as an 'alto ego'. Not bad; if she lines her personalities up just right, she could sing Bohemian Rhapsody, complete with harmonies, all by herself.

Ah well, that's us for this week - see you next week and don't forget to put your name in for the free prize draw! After all - the closing date is tomorrow evening!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

You don't say?

A lot of Julie's Gems have an internal logic. Many of them have a very simple logic indeed. The main problem is trying to follow what Julie says all the way to the end, and then keeping track of everything that was said, in the order that she said it, just so you can unravel what you just heard.
And if you thought that was confusing, read this one.

See what I mean? It's like verbal spaghetti, isn't it?
By the way - do you like my little icon? It's one of the two faces I usually make when Julie starts heading deep into Gem country. The other one is the heavy-lidded, peering glare that asks, "you're kidding, right?" and looks a bit like this: -.- You'll probably see a lot of both in future, as it's a good way of indicating my non-verbal responses.

Well, that's all for today - glad you made it through Halfway Day; we'll see you all on Friday.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Failbook: Vocabulary/pattern recognition

You may have gathered that I am a man of words. This is true. Despite the fact I had to take my English 'O' level twice (youngsters would know it as a GCSE these days), I take great pride in having a better-than-average grasp of my mother tongue. Mind you, as with most people with a little pride and not much talent... don't I just know it?*
The other day, one of my friends posted a link to something via Facebook, a survey called Test your Vocab. Before you get all sniffy, let me assure you that it's not a Facebook app, so you don't have to allow it access to your sex life, bank details and your genetic code. In fact, you don't even have to go to Facebook at all, so all you trendy Twitter-philes and hipsters on Google+ can enjoy it with impunity and dignity intact.
</facetious mode>

I'm getting off-topic, aren't I? Sorry about that.
Anyway, I naturally thought to have a go and see if I really was as good as I thought I was. The result? Pretty much so. Me being me, I thought to brag about it and so posted about it on Facebook.
Julie saw this and decided that she, too, would chance her arm. There were two problems with this idea. The first was that Julie has a habit - an entertaining one, to be sure - of making up her own words when the real one finds it can't make its way any further than the tip of her tongue. The other... well, just see for yourself in this screencap from the actual conversation thread on Facebook.

(Don't you just love the thinly-veiled threat at the end?)
So - How did you fare on the survey?

*For a top-notch explanation of this turn of phrase, please enjoy this short film by The Streets.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Saturday bonus - Baffling Biff

I was just catching up with some webcomics and reached The Book of Biff.For some reason, I thought the cartoon and this one in particular fit in nicely with the feel of Julie's Gems. What do you think?

Friday, 15 July 2011

Trivial Pursuit Week II: Anachronistic cheats in ancient Greece

Every now and then, Julie will come out with a Gem that goes that extra mile. You'll be there thinking that's it - she can't get any worse now... when all of a sudden, BAM! It does. Usually, when she does this, it's the beginning of a ramble, one I have no way of writing down (I must look into shorthand), unless I'm very lucky.
On rare occasions, Julie will stop after the second blow - sorry, Gem - but that may have something to do with the fact she's seen my reaction and she's forced to mentally review what she's just come out with.
It's normally a few minutes before my wife can stop giggling.

For the final one of this week's Trivial Pursuit-themed Gems, we head back to ancient Greece. Be warned - there is a double whammy ahead, so please do not be drinking or eating when you read it.
I'm serious. That stuff's murder to get out from between the cracks in your keyboard...

Oh. My. Gods.
I warned you, didn't I? Now look at the state of that monitor...
(by the way, just in case you don't know what space hoppers were/are....)


OK folks, another reminder for the free book draw - you still have just over a week to get your name in the hat.
Also, I'm always happy to publish Gems by other people. Come on, I know there have been times when we've all slipped up, or you've been privy to some baffling incident involving a drunken party. Why not drop us a line and tell us all about it - or them.
The email address for both the free draw and Gem submissions is

OK then - tata, have a good weekend and see you all next week!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Trivial Pursuit Week II: Bro-king thinking

OK, a little history today - British history, us being Brits and all, don't you know. Specifically, we're going to be looking at the British royal family.
Now, I fully realise that the British aristocracy is a particularly inbred part of society. Not only that, but thanks to Queen Victoria needing to marry off her many children, this also extends to much of the European royal families too. Come to think of it, I could probably just use the singular there; since they're all cousins or aunts/uncles by x degrees of removal, they're all one big dysfunctional family.
That said, I'm pretty sure that Julie's not completely on the money with her explanation here...

Unless Doctor Who was muddying the royal genetic pool, I'm pretty sure this was impossible...

Coming up on Friday: Doctor Who visits the ancient Olympics. And if you don't find this one funny, then there is seriously something wrong - even Julie was helpless with hysterics after I read it back to her...


Don't forget to enter our little free draw to win a copy of The Devil's Dictionary.

I promise you that I will only be sending out the brand new, non-fondled copies to the three winners (read the comments for an explanation).
There's no tricky question or restriction on entry; all you have to do is send us an email to with your name (real or assumed). We will only ask for any addresses should you win.
Good luck and don't forget you only have until Saturday July 23rd to enter!

Monday, 11 July 2011

Trivial Pursuit Week II: Spartahorse

Happy Monday, folks - how was your weekend? Do you remember much (or any) of it? Can you remember far more than you really want to?
Or was it a nice quiet time in, sat around the table and playing games?
We didn't get to play any games ourselves this weekend, but I found some excellent Trivial Pursuit Gems mixed up in the stack of papers that is my filing system.
The category is entertainment. Shall I ask the question?

Um... no. No, it wasn't actually, love. The answer was King Kong. Even if you try to justify dates by claiming you were talking about the films, it still doesn't wash. 1933 vs. 1960.
What am I talking about? I'm trying to use logic again, aren't I? Gah...

Anyway, see you Wednesday for some bro-king thinking - and don't forget to enter the free contest!

Friday, 8 July 2011

Ambrose Bierce vs. Julie's Gems

I'm not sure the world of words could withstand such a meeting, should time travel ever be invented to make such a meeting possible...
On the one hand, you have a nineteenth century American journalist, so disenchanted with the world that he was awarded the sobriquet of "Bitter Bierce". And then there's Julie, who has the same effect on conversations and lines of thought that a well-aimed kick between the legs has on walking.

Today, though, is the closest anyone ever thought they would come. Please watch the clip and allow me to explain (apologies for my lack of speaking skill. I know I'm boring, but Julie helps the situation quite nicely toward the end.

Obviously, that made everything clear as mud, I reckon.
Basically, I am offering up 3 copies of The Devil's Dictionary, a cynic's guide to the meaning of words. All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning one of these books is to send us an email at and leave your name and contact details (no phone numbers at all and addresses will only be asked for should you win one of the books.
The closing date is Saturday July 23 2011.

Here's a couple of pictures of the Dictionary for you.

Now, because we're friendly people and we both know I'm not going to win any awards for my presentational style, here's a clip of Julie with her take on the book and the free draw. By the way and in case you were wondering, yes, there were a couple of aborted attempts in the making of this clip.

Well, yes. Are you freaked out yet? To be honest, if that clip didn't scare you a little, then that scares me.
Gah... no way to type that without it coming out all Gem'd.
Never mind - have a good weekend and enter that free draw!

Paraprosdokians, part 3: Invulnerable to logic

I love comics. Always have. Single panels, strips Brit-style comics and US-style comic books. I love the art, I love the writing and, with panels and strips, I love the humour. My all-time favourite cartoonists is a single-panel merchant. Or, was, I should say. Giles died some years ago and the world is a poorer place for the lack of his cosy, biting wit. And his art. Seriously, the guy packed in so much stuff into his panels (they were editorials, so basically half a tabloid page), it was incredible. You could go back to most of his work and marvel at his textures, his ability to draw weather and yet another incidental gag you hadn't seen before.

These days, of course, you have webcomics. I have a great deal in my bookmarks list, but I still like to have a printed book, so I do like to get a compilation of some I can afford, as and when, but the truth is, I go back to them pretty much every day and check for updates.
One of my favourites is The Abominable Charles Christopher. This strip follows the adventures and journeys of self-discovery made by a naive sasquatch who lives in a forest. Generally, it's not played for laughs and there's a strong ecological and moral theme. Some strips also feature some his woodland companions, and these are where the humour comes in.
Take this one, for example:

I literally laughed out loud when I read the punchline, and my laugh brought Julie in to see what the fuss was about. I showed her the cartoon and waited.
And waited.
Julie, bless her, hadn't got the 'in' gag. However, it seems that there was a good reason for her not finding it funny...

That one got her the look. The blank-faced, are-you-kidding-me look. Surely logic could have helped her work thi... ah, yes... logic...


It's Devil's Dictionary time again! From the Ps, we have the following definition, one which conforms to the rules of a paraprosdokian (ie, everything goes normally, until the final part wrenches it aside). Of course, this being from the Devil's Dictionary, it's very, very cynical. And accurate.
Present, n: That part of eternity dividing the Domain of Disappointment from the Realm of Hope.
Oh, wow... what a downer...
I like it though... perversely, it cheers me up to know that others feel the same way about the world as I do...

BUT WAIT! I haven't forgotten the big news I've been promising - you'll just have to wait for another hour or so before I can set up another blog for you...

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Paraprosdokians, part 2: Working to ignore

Iiiit's Wicked Wednesday! And have I got a Gem for you!
Well, yes, otherwise there wouldn't be much point in you coming back here three times a week, would there?

As you know, Mondays's post was the first in a week-long special on the linguistic device known as paraprosdokians. As you (should) know by now, these are phrases where the meaning suddenly goes off at a tangent for the final section - there are some more examples here, with an especially good one by the late, great comedian, Bill Hicks.
Julie, of course, has to go one level better. Or several, it's difficult to tell, sometimes. While most paraprosdokians go off at a tangent, Julie's will have tangents that go off at tangents and so forth, ad absurdum.
Don't believe me? Take a look at the following example, one in which I am subjected to several levels of burn...

Talk about 'ouch', although Julie did laugh after she said that, which showed she hadn't meant to say it (and thus qualified it as a Gem). However, there's a small part of me wondering whether some small part of her subconscious had actually thought it. Also sprach paranoia...


Now, back to the teasing. Mr Ambrose Bierce, AKA 'Bitter' Bierce for his fearsome abilities as a literary critic, disappeared in late 1913. Before 'setting off for parts unknown', as his last letter has it, Ambrose saw fit to publish a slim tome known to us as The Devil's Dictionary. 
For a cynic such as myself, this is obviously if great interest to me and I was rather pleased to see in a shop a brand-spanking new copy of this book. Quite by chance, many of the entries work well with this week's Gem theme of paraprosdokians. For example:
Happiness, n: An agreeable sensation arising from the misery of another
See? It's what you would expect, right up until the last three words.
Yes, I'm quite pleased with that find. 
Nope - you're going to have to wait until Friday now. Sorry!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Paraprosdokians, part 1: A guest makes her own logic

Yeah, I know. I too had to break it down into its component syllables before I could wrap my tongue around it. Apparently, a paraprosdokian is a phrase in two parts or more, where the final section takes the reader (or listener) in a new an unexpected direction. Obviously, this is used quite a lot in humorous situations.
Not quite so obviously, Julie is the person who brought this to my attention, in an email saying that this seemed like Gem country to her. I'll tell you what, she's not wrong. Here are some examples from the email Julie sent me.

  • The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on my list.
  • We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.
  • To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is
  • I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you (a very Gem-like example, to my mind).
  • You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute
    to skydive twice.
  • I always take life with a pinch of salt. Plus a slice of lemon,
    and a shot of tequila.
  • (this one is my personal favourite of the bunch) A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.

Coming back to True Gems, the phrases that are verbal slips more than witticisms, I am proud to introduce a new guest star to the site. Maddy is the daughter of a friend and a friend in her own right. Her grammar and spelling, like many of her generation, could be better, but she's eloquent and a budding poet.

This time, Maddy was talking to a young friend of hers, one who was feeling a little down about his own abilities. Maddy, being the compassionate young lady she is, decided to console him.

A little hint, Maddy - if you're trying to cheer up someone who feels like they're a little slow, try not employing Gem logic. Apparently, it took a few minutes of hurried explanation (and not a little laughter on both sides) to clear that one up. Fair play to Maddy, though - she did tell me all about it herself.

In the meantime, since I have posted a few non-Julie Gems now, I have had a few people ask me how Julie feels about sharing 'her' site with other folk.

Does that answer your question? I hope it does, because that's probably the best you're going to get...
Finally, I teased the people who have become Facebook fans of Julie's Gems yesterday. Today, I widen the net and pique the curiosity of others too.
On Friday, I will be giving you some small cause for moderate excitement, all thanks to a man named Ambrose Bierce, the author of The Devil's Dictionary.

Tata for now - see you Wednesday with another teaser!

Friday, 1 July 2011

Death, diva-style

You know that people sometimes refer to life as a play or a film? It sort of makes sense in a way, because we spend our whole lives trying to make it through to the end in one piece or, failing that, make our final scene as epic as we can. I have no idea what Julie's planning here, but I'm certainly nervous...

Come to that - what on Earth does Julie think I have planned? To be honest, I don't mind dying, but I'd just as soon not be around when it happens...

Have a nice weekend folks!

Money for nothing for money. Something like that, anyway.

Hey there! Still with us? It's been a busy week, all things considered. Even accounting for my unwelcome headache on Wednesday (and I still made good on my promise to you), you were treated to - or baffled by - a double dose of Gems every day this week. So glad I don't 'work' on the weekends, apart from harvesting the Gems in the first place. It's back to normal next week, however, with single posts on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Anyway, to the first of today's offerings from Julie and I have a confession to make. You see, I've jotted this down and set it up in its nice little frame, but I'm sitting here now and I can't shake this nagging feeling that this isn't really a Gem. Not in the true sense anyway.

In fact, Julie's 'Gem' may even be grammatically correct. The only thing wrong with it, if I look at it good and hard is I would have said " not..." as opposed to "...not to...". It's just that this one sailed out of the air and  hit me between the eyes. It just... feels wrong - does that make sense?
I mean, we all know what Julie's saying, it's just the delivery is not what it could be.
Or am I completely wrong here? Let me know in the comments....