Saturday, 31 March 2012

Oh, you're going straight to Heck for that one, kid...

Whoo!So, today is March 31st and the end of Julie's Gems' a-post-a-day marathon. I only dropped one day (due to ill health), for which I apologised profusely on Facebook. And for THAT, everyone chose to drop into sarcasm mode, saying how dare I be ill and/or miss a post?
I hope it was that, at least. While it's nice to have as many followers as we do, this site is a little young yet to be attracting the obsessive sort, surely?
In any event, today marks the final day of the March Marathon* and I thought it nice to end on a gently humorous note, and to give Julie a little break for the day. There isn't even any mention of Scrabble.**


Long-term readers of Julies Gems will know that I (not Julie, not by a long shot) am a fan of comics, specifically webcomics. I have posted some examples in the past - only those, of course, that fit the admittedly broad definition of being a Gem. Have a look at these examples, and you'll see what I mean.

Here's another one, one I have been waiting for just the right strip to post on here. Odori Park is a hemi-demi-semi-autobiographical strip*** about a small family (two parents, one young boy) who also happen to own a book shop. The twist is that Colin is US American and Arisa is Japanese. Normally, the comic is just cutesy and the humour is smile-inducing, but relatively slight. The art is nice and clean though.
This time, I was leafing through my bookmarks and reached Odori Park and immediately laughed out loud, whilst simultaneously wincing, and wincing hard. Put it this way, you know how Julie can be sometimes child-like in the way she phrases things? And that even then, children are the real deal and can offer up a full meal of non-sequiturs and still have energy left over for a large helping of bafflement. AmIright? You know it's true. See? There's a whole load of kiddie-related gaffes right here!
Anyhow, back to Odori Park and a prime example of how to bite the hand that feeds you. Almost literally.

WHOAH, kid! You are going to go hungry for weeks for that comment!
Just a little note; normally, Odori Park is presented horizontally, but if I presented it in that format here, then it would be far too squeezed and you'd end up not being able to read it. Fancy more? Trot along to Odori Park, then.

*Uh-oh. Now I have named it, that's it. It's formalised and set in stone. I'm going to have to do this next year, too.
** Whoops.
***Read the "about" section on the site. It makes more sense there.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Bad, bad Julie & Dad.

As threat... umm.. promised, there was indeed at least one more family Scrabble Gem to relate. As anyone who has played Scrabble knows, to be faced with a rack full of vowels or consonants and/or the damnedest, tightest board layout ever is one of the worst things you could face. Apparently, during the course of this particular game, my father was faced with a nasty rack. The abysmal state of the board I can personally attest to. I have never seen so many two and three-letter words played in one game.

As the turns progressed around the board, there was much head-scratching and tutting and a plethora of single-figure scores. Yes, it was that bad.
Some time into the game, it was once more my father's turn and he spent an especially long time huffing and puffing, shuffling his letters and moaning about the state of the board. As we know full well though, that can mean either of two things; yes, his lot is pretty naff or that he has a brilliant word and is having trouble finding a place to put it down. When he finally began stringing together full sentences, we realised that - gamewise - he was in deep doo-doo.
Unfortunately for everyone else, Dad and Julie have long since forged an unholy alliance of sorts. There is plenty of evidence in the Julie's Gems archives to prove they are perfectly willing to collaborate, and it seems that they are so confident in themselves that they are now quite willing to blatantly flaunt their ways right under our noses. Witness this little exchange where Dad is (still) moaning about his letters...

See what I mean? What chance did any other player stand against these two?


Right. I want to give some credit here. The image that I have used above comes courtesy of sfantoo on deviantArt. I have told them of this usage, so that's all good, I hope. If you want to check out the original image (and please do), along with more of his material, why not click here?

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Your mother was a hamster and your father...

...may smell of elderberries, but that's besides the point, you English dog.

Yes, thank-you, I'll take it from here, if you don't mind.
On a recent journey up to Scotland in the company van, I had managed to sneak Julie in under the radar and since the hotel room was double and paid for by the company, all we had to do was pay for breakfast. Sweet.
Even better was one of our stops along the way.
Eastbourne to Edinburgh is only a short distance if you're looking in the index of an atlas of the British Isles. Driving it is a rather different matter. To make things easier, we planned to break the journey into two days, stopping over at my parents' house for a night each time (so that's why there have been so many family Scrabble games, eh? Interesting...). While we were there for the Northbound night, my father, who is - to put it mildly - rather interested in Scotland, especially the northern parts and Isles. He's made many journeys there, thanks to an old friend who lives in Wick. Naturally, since he has had experience, he was happy to pass on a few hints, one of which was to stop over at the Westmorland services on the M6 motorway. It's greatly different to the normal, horrible, bland motorway service station, he told me.

Oh look, an 'exciting' addition to a bland service station.
Forton Services on the M6
On the other hand, there's this.

Isn't this much better?
If you travel along the M6, one of Britain's longest roads, then you could do yourself a big favour and stop at the Westmorland services at Tebay. For a start, you can see from the pictures above that they're far prettier than the normal crap. Not only that, but once you get inside, then you'll find that the ridiculous chain cafes, shops and restaurants are absent. Instead there are farm shops with local produce and a restaurant offering dishes that really are made freshly, with fresh ingredients.
Damn, I'm hungry now, and I'm not going to help myself with this next bit...

As I said, my father is rather hot for the Scot, especially Robert Burns, his poetry, and THE event of the Scottish year, Burns' Night. The main thing here is that Dad does like a bit of haggis. I'm partial to it as well, but Dad's just that bit happier for eating one. With that in mind, I had resolved to buy him one as we were going to be dropping in to Scotland for a flying visit.
As it turned out, buying a decent one-man haggis was a problem in Scotland, but not at the aforementioned services, so we browsed the shops and bought a few gifts. I'd already headed towards the chilled food section, and Julie was following. I announced my intention to her;

Not a lot I could say to that.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Flying in the face of logic & lyric

Going back to our travelling alphagames, once more, we had defaulted to our basic topic of songs and their singers/bands. In fact, we'd already had a few rounds on this one, so we'd got into the groove (Madonn... carried away there). Anyway, we were good to go for yet another round, so I started off with a nice easy one, 'Anywhere Is' by Enya and that was followed by a few good-to-average turns. ('Big Time', 'Crazy In Love', 'Deeply Dippy', 'Everything Counts')
And then Julie dropped the F-bomb. OK, not THE F-bomb. Ye gods, I was just using some hyperbole. You have to be so literalistic, don't you? All I meant was that it was on the ... you're just messing with me, aren't you?

One of these days I'll learn... Oh well.
Back to the Gem in progress, Julie decided to choose a song for the letter 'F' which rang a bell for me...

....OK, I take it all back. Carry on taking the piss out of me all you like. That'll teach ME to be picky...

(well, perhaps not.)

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Let me bring you words from the wood.. confuse you more than you could know...

A couple of weeks ago, Julie and myself were walking home and I commented on the state of the trees. Bearing in mind the winter hadn't been that cold (apart from our house. It's like a damn icebox, I swear...), the trees were oddly bare. On the other hand, there hadn't been much in the way of precipitation (rain, snow, whatever) for quite some months, so that may have played a part in the arboreal nudity.
Anyways, here's the conversation.

That's a brilliant word, isn't it?
On the other hand, my mind can't get past the fact it also looks a little like 'insidious'
Never mind that, let's end with some music, wot? Hopefully, some of you will have picked up on the homage to some Jethro Tull lyrics in the title and opening line of this post. Ladies, gentlemen and any others, let me bring you songs from the wood...

Monday, 26 March 2012

No pros, but plenty of cons

Back to my family and yet another game of Scrabble. Two games, actually. You'd think we have nothing better to do, wouldn't you? With five people around the table, one person had to sit on the sidelines, and I volunteered with alacrity. Also with appropriate alacrity, I dashed off for my notebook and pen.
Oh come on - you don't think I was giving up a four-way Scrabble game out of the goodness of my heart, do you? Especially considering when two of the four are Julie and my father. OK, so my (currently) reticent mother and my sister were there too, but we all know where the fun lies, don't we?
Actually, in this case, no. Dad and Julie were bucking the trends and setting standards by winning a game each, an unusual event in itself, as they are usually proud of their ability, if that's the right word, to come last in a game. So much so that Dad appears to have himself a catchphrase, which he gleefully calls out as we're setting up the game.
"Bagsy coming last!"*
In one sense, I suppose, it's almost a mantra, to ward off any bad luck (ok, sour grapes, possibly) in case he does lose. Admittedly, if it's just him vs Mum, then the odds are that he'll lose.
Like I said though, He shared wins with Julie over a pair of games, something Mum took badly, sulking over a spectacularly awful set of letters. My sister, on the other hand - despite a couple of brief snits here and there - took their wins with a certain awkward grace...

We all looked at Dad at that point. It was so much like something he would have said it was uncanny. It was almost as if he'd scripted that line. Only the fact he was creasing up proved it was the first time he'd heard that line. Oh, well. At least I got one final Gem out of the game...

...or did I...?


*In the USA and other countries, this equates to calling 'dibs'.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Breaking [faith with] the legs

Julie recently began a part-time job at the hospital, after an extended period of waiting for a CRB check to clear. For those not in the know, all that means is that there's a check to see if you're nutter with a criminal past. (Useful, except that there are a lot of nutters that DON'T yet have a police record.*)

All Julie is required to do at the hospital, in case you're worried she'll be let loose with all that equipment and medication, is provide the patients with food and water. I say 'all', but it's a pretty big 'all', considering the amount of times she has to trek down to the kitchens, along various corridors, around wards, BACK along corridors upon realising she got lost and is in the wrong part of the hospital, along a different set of corridors, around the correct ward, all that several times in the course of a three-hour shift, as not everything fits on the trolley in one go.
No wonder she's bloody knackered when she gets home - especially when you bear in mind this is a second job to try and up our income. As Julie herself put it,

What Julie actually meant was that she wanted to trade them in for a different pair. Unfortunately, she got the 'tray' sound from 'trade' in her head and it went a little loopy, becoming 'betray' en route to the mouth. This is how a vast majority of her Gems are created.
Oh dear. I've just given away a trade secret, haven't I?
Never mind. There are plenty of others. If nothing else, even I haven't figured them out yet. Mind you, neither has Julie...
Tata for now!

*Not even 'Roxanne' or 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic'...

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Unuttering the utterable... What?

You know what the Kama Sutra is, right? Sure you do. Everyone does. They may not know much about it beyond giggling and 'oh, it's naughty, isn't it?'. Some may have even seen it, or - heaven forbid - looked inside it. These people will know that it's an ancient Indian book about sex and sexual behaviour.
I'll admit right away that, after a brief look, I closed the book and pronounced myself gladly vanilla. If nothing else, I am seriously, physically unable to even get MY body to do some things, let alone persuading someone else to...

Mind you, I know someone who has trouble of a different sort with even the words 'Kama Sutra'
Isn't that right, Julie?

Excuse me, I'm just going to go and hide while Julie's still blushing....

Friday, 23 March 2012

Laughing in Luxemburg

My apologies. There should have been a Gem for those of you that visited this site yesterday. However, due to a nasty headache, I didn't even switch the computer on, let alone do any blogging... Anyhow, onwards and upwards! Well, over to mainland Europe, that is.


You know, I have no idea why this Gem came about. I was sat at the computer, not doing much of anything, and Julie came in on her way to bed. As always, I had a pad just to the side of me, and this turned out to be a nice bit of foresight on my part. In the space of a few minutes, I had jotted down a brace and a half of Gems. In fact, looking at them now, only one makes any kind of connection in my memories. In fact, as I look around the room now, I can't see anything at all that may have triggered them. Nor - I hasten to add, was I looking on the internet at anything pertinent to these Gems.
Here's the first one.

See what I mean? I haven't heard of AOL in years, let alone used anything of theirs. I don't even know the last time I saw one of those damn discs that used to be everywhere you went. I suppose they're all pretty much landfill now.
Whatever - it's a good Gem, isn't it? Well - as long as you know of Luxemburg, that is. It's a tiny country, wedged in between France Belgium and Germany.

You see it? Right near the bottom? Yes, just where it says 'Luxemburg', well done, no need to be snide...
However small Luxemburg may be, it's a country that many Brits of a certain age will know well, mainly for the classic Radio Luxemburg. Ahh, the memories...

Tomorrow: the second reference-free Gem. You may want to drop by; it has to do with sex...

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Dazed about days; Too many hours in the day.

People who know me are aware of a certain individual, a colleague of mine, one I shall refer to only as BD. My friends will know precisely who I'm talking about. He's not the sharpest knife in the drawer, it's true. In fact, to be perfectly honest, if we're using cutlery as a scale, he's somewhere around 'wooden spoon'. The only reason, sometimes, that I haven't clobbered him is that I'm too busy facepalming or beating my head against a brick wall.
Not long after he had started in the warehouse, the two of us were in the packing area together. I gave him a tape gun and got him to pad out and seal some boxes while I set our some address labels. Ten minutes later, the labels were done, but the boxes weren't. Why? Because the tape gun had run out of tape. And he didn't have the wit to say something about it, so he just stood there like the pillock that he is, waiting for the next thought to arrive.
Oh, and another thing; he's a moaner. About how many orders he has to pick, the size of a box, where something is, how scratchy his throat is (despite the fact it hasn't got better on its own, instead of, say, buying some lozenges)... You get the idea. Every day begins the same way; sat in the canteen before we start, listening to BD moan about how we may be busy or quiet and how he can't wait for the weekend. In fact, he decided to take it a little further and wish it was the weekend all the time. I know, I know - what's so odd about that? Most of us feel the same way too, right? Sure, but BD likes to be a little more... avant garde* in his approach. (caution - naughty word ahead, although it has been 'blanked')

Yes, I know what BD meant, but look again, and you'll see that the prat has included Friday in the weekend. Last I knew, he was working Fridays, just like the rest of us. Also, when I commented on his desire, he just sat there and grinned nervously; I'd confused him and he was waiting for either an explanation or some sort of permission to forget about it and move on. Like it was with the tape gun.

(* okay... maybe 'avant garde' isn't the right term. Try 'bloody stupid')


Talking of people who are somewhat slow at times, here's a clip of a couple in a car. The man is driving and trying to explain the concept of 'mph' and what it means. If you don't facepalm at least once when you watch this, that'll be because you're too busy doing the *head-desk*.

Me, I love the expressions on the guy's face. Seriously, I have had ALL of them when talking to Julie sometimes. Although I have to say (quite protectively) that Julie is in no way as dopey as the woman in that clip.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Keeping it in the family: You're doing it right - and legally!

Julie and me, like any other couple, have our differences in taste. While I'll read lots of stuff, across the board, including hard science, fantasy, travel writing etc, etc... Julie, on the other hand, will tend to stick to chick-lit, with the occasional celebrity bio thrown in for good measure. She listens to good ol' pop music, cheap, cheesy and cheerful and thinks that stuff like Radiohead is dreary, morose nonsense... er... actually, I pretty much agree with her about that last bit, but you get the idea.

Despite our views on each other's likes, there exists a certain amount of middle ground. Of course there is. There has to be for any relationship to survive, just as you also need the differences for that middle ground to exist. We both like musicals, Mock The Week, games of Scrabble and watching The Muppet Show. Whether or not you like them, you know the Muppets - if nothing else, the amount of publicity the recent film has been given means the only people unaware of it currently reside in the supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy. And even then, I'm not sure.

Returning to the point, we were sat together watching a classic episode (1976! And it still feels somewhat progressive!), one which had quite a few high spots. However, with the way Muppet humour goes, I found myself, on more than one occasion, turning my head to give my wife a steady look. It does have to be said that much of what they were coming out with could so very easily have been uttered by my darling, off-beat wife.
Things carried on in this vein for a while, until I was in danger of giving myself repetitive strain injury. The final straw came in the form of a Muppet musical number, courtesy of the stereotypical hillbilly Gogolala Jubilee Jugband.

Now, I hope this is internationally viewable, or this post is going to fall flatter than a pancake under an elephant's arse...

It's actually good for me to watch this again, as I spent most of the first time giving Julie The Look.
Tell you what, just in case you weren't able to watch The Muppets' version, here's Ray Stevens with his own version of the song - complete with an in-video graph that is either very helpful or just makes things worse.

Hopefully, you could watch one of those two clips. Now, you see why I had Julie in mind when this came on? Even she agrees that "I'm my own grandpa" is hilariously baffling.
One final stab at making sense of this, OK? Here's a nice, clear chart depicting all the relationships and familial ties referred to in the song.

...nope. I'm still baffled.
Mind you, it doesn't help that I spent much of the song thinking to myself, "why does this remind me of Bill Wyman?" Maybe, you pillock, it's because the ex-Rolling Stone did almost exactly this. You see, the dirty old man married an 18 year-old girl, but then his son married her mother... I did wonder whether it had been written with him in mind, but it turns out that the song was originally released in 1947. I know Bill's knocking on a bit, but I doubt he's that old...

Monday, 19 March 2012

Seedy CD I.Q.

OK, I wasn't going to post this. It was going to stay on my personal Facebook profile, but no, it's having an 'official' release.

A friend of mine has been feeling a bit down lately, partly due to this and that, but mostly to do with a nasty bug that's been hanging around for some time. To cheer her up, I sent her a Bread compilation. Please note that this is Bread, the musical act responsible for the excellent 'Guitar Man'. I didn't send her three slices of wholemeal.

Once I'd sorted that out, I popped the discs into an envelope and posted them. Astonishingly, Jules received them the next (posting) day, which impressed me.
Not so impressive, however, was her tech-savviness. It appeared to be rather low, until I realised it was just a memory lapse. I can understand that...

As you can see, it's not much of a Gem on its own. It was, on the other hand, well worth posting on FB, so I did. In the comments, Jules called me an arse (in pictorial form, and quite cleverly, I thought), and then julie came along and capped it nicely. yes, dear.
(Bread) Roll out the closing music!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Oh, no! Not ANOTHER Platy-post?!

Scott's clear on this one. So is Julie.
This one is ALL Sharron.

Having previously posted about my father's input to the Great Platypus Debate, one of our long-time followers (and, indeed, contributors) to Julie's Gems commented on the aforementioned post's link on the Gems Facebook Page* with a video reference to a popular Disney cartoon called Phineas and Ferb. Apparently, it's a multi-award winning show, but that's not important. What IS important is Perry the Platypus. Perry is a family pet, a rather dim-witted platypus. Amiable enough, but (apparently) dumber than a sack of spanners. Except that Perry also goes by the name of Agent P and is a secret agent for the wonderfully named O.W.C.A. (Organisation Without a Cool Acronym - how refreshingly honest, wot?)

Original source, Crystallinepeace on deviantArt.
Before we go any further, and to prevent any possible confusion, NO, platypuses are NOT turquoise. Nor are they anthropomorphic secret agents. It's not real.
Here, have a tissue.

Ok, then, getting back to it, it seems there was a specific episode that Sharron had in mind, one called 'Brain Drain'. In this, Agent P's nemesis, the nefarious Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz, was not only getting on the platypus's bad side, but also his teenage daughter's. Cutting a long story short, following a tussle between the two enemies, the bad doctor ends up crashing his daughter's party. If you check out the title of this clip, then you'll see just why Sharron chose this clip. And yes, she does have children, so she has an excuse for watching cartoons. Unlike you or me...

No, it's not a Gem, but I like it, and it was kinda cool to carry on the theme.
Will there be any more Platy-posts?
Only the gods know, and they ain't telling.

 *why aren't you a fan? Go and do it now!

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Causing The Count some confusion

So - back to our favourite board game, Scrabble. We were playing a game one day, when Julie decided that playing Scrabble wasn't enough - she also wanted to play silly buggers. Guess what? She's pretty good at it!
I was looking at a particularly awful set of letters on my rack - seeing something like this near the start of the game, never mind later on, is pretty awful.

Doesn't this seem slanted?
Superb optical illusion..

After a short while, I became aware of a persistent noise. I looked up, and watched Julie tapping her finger up and down her line of letters. I watched, bemused, for a while... Suddenly, Julie realised I was watching her, and pulled her hand away sharply, laughing in embarrassment, her face blooming like a field of poppies.* I laughed and asked what she was doing.
Silly me.

Yes, dear.

*Julie does this quite often. Sometimes, I'll be taking my turn at Scrabble and sometimes, I'll be reading. Whatever the situation, the result is usually the same; Julie suddenly becomes aware that I'm watching her and she pulls into herself and starts laughing in embarrassment. I think it's rather sweet, actually.

Friday, 16 March 2012

A family feudin' over features

There's nothing like a family for being able to push all the right - or wrong - buttons, is there? They have known each other for long enough to know what pleases or annoys them. Technically, that should make it all that much easier to buy them a gift at the appropriate times, but it never turns out that way, does it? In the end, out of desperation, it's a trip to a shop and handing over some of your cash in exchange for a gift voucher. On the other hand, we all know what familiarity is apt to breed, don't we?
As we saw last time, my sister responded a little harshly to my father making a rather triumphant move in a board game (although, in fairness, he HAD just stuffed up her own potentially game blagging turn.) It was during the same game that I decided to try and take a sneaky photograph of my sister. The thing is, she's rather like our mother when it comes to this. If they catch you trying to take a photo, and it's not during a special occasion, then you had better hope your life insurance details are up to date. Fortunately for me, my sister was, this time, on the other side of a large oak table and the cutlery had long since been cleared away.


After the cursing had died down, we looked at the picture I had taken. I reckoned it wasn't all that bad - it certainly could have been a lot worse. My sister, on the other hand, demurred, which only gave our Dad a chance to take a quick dig;

There was so much flaming going on, I contemplated looking for a fire extinguisher...

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Definitely NOT a (blank) expression on her face.

We're a Scrabble-playing family. We're also fairly competitive, although I will qualify that comment; It's not so much we're playing against each other, but more that we're simply trying to do the best we can with our particular set of letters and however the board is looking at any one time. Quite often, though, especially when we have managed to wrangle our racks into a Bingo (a word using all seven letters), we will turn out to harbour a certain animosity towards our opponents. Especially if our Bingo can only be placed in one spot on the board, AND SOME BASTARD HAS JUST GONE IN MY PLACE... AAARRRRGGGHHHH!
I'm serious. We've all done it. Julie has done it. I've done it. My mother groans and huffs like a big bad wolf when it happens to her.*

My sister, however, is a little more demonstrative. Which is a little unfair on this occasion, as my Dad had excelled himself with a grade-A Bingo, leading over a double word spot and onto a triple letter square. (sorry about that - inherited detail-obsessive behaviour). Laying the letters down, he placed a blank tile onto one square and tapped it, commenting, "that's a 'D', that is." As I implied, my sister was entirely unappreciative, and not a little blunt about it...

Cue much biting of lips as we tried not to laugh. It HAD been a bit much, but - boy, it WAS funny...

By the way, in case you hadn't guessed the origin of this Gem's title, here you go. Something a bit Special.

* Yes, all of us, Mum. You may deny it all you want, but how many times have you called someone a 'ratbag' for going in your spot? Sure, you'll applaud them for having made a good play, if that is indeed the case. On the other hand, if someone has just blocked you with an insultingly low-scoring word, then I can personally attest that you will be having a major case of The Grumps.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Spike lacks focus

Yesterday, we presented a Platy-post courtesy of my father from the last time we visited my folks.
Still at my parents' place, we were having a great time. I was grudgingly abstemious, due to the various bits of medication I was taking, but Dad and Julie decided to share a bottle of wine.
Yes, me and Mum were thinking exactly the same.


Dad can hold his drink quite well, but Julie is another matter. We don't have occasion to drink much at home. I'm far more a tea person than anything alcoholic, and Julie seems to have headed that way too, in recent times.
So after a short while, Julie finished her first glass of wine, smacked her lips appreciatively and then after a few moments more, proceeded to look at me oddly. Oddly enough that I was a little discomfited by her suddenly keen, if wavering expression.

There wasn't a lot I could say to that. Dad, on the other hand, nearly fell off his chair he was laughing so hard.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

The Great Platypus Debate rambles on...

Oh deary me. First, Scott decides that being different equates to being a platypus. Then, Julie joins in and gets herself, me and pretty much the rest of the world confused about how a platypus may be different from, say, a tortoise. And now my father joins in. You may recall that, when the mood strikes him, he can be as whimsical and off-beat as my lovely wife. And that, when the two of them get together, all you can do is sit back and try to stay afloat. Because once they're off, you have no chance of keeping up with the glorious oddities the pair construct from thin air.
It's quite charming, actually, that my father gets on so well with Julie - almost better than he does with me, I sometimes wonder, but that's fine with me. In my opinion, Julie is one of the personable people I know. It's almost impossible to not like her, she's that scattily charming. And considering that I'd always said (before they met) that Dad would be the one Julie would have to be the one to win over; Mum being so staunchly liberal it's beautiful.

Recently, we visited my folks and we were playing Scrabble (yes, there WILL be a Scrabble-themed Gem along soon...), and talking about what had been featured on Julie's Gems. Naturally, The Great Platypus Debate reared its unique head. I didn't have a computer handy, so I referred to the original notes I had jotted down in my omnipresent pad.
"Are platypuses like giant tortoises?"
"Well, they're similar shapes, aren't they?"
"""They're both flat aren't they?"
At this point, amidst the general laughter around the table, Dad decided to side with Julie in his own little way

Although I wouldn't put it past someone to try. Before various animal welfare societies heard about it, obviously...

Monday, 12 March 2012

Rihanna goes upmarket for her next single...

Famous for being bashed about by her boyfriend and wearing very little in the way of clothing - oh, and for singing, apparently - Barbados-born Rihanna has had quite a few singles and a clutch of half-decent albums under her belt (or is that her skirt?). However, it seems she is contemplating a change of direction for her music. According to Julie, that is.

Changing the scene, Julie and myself were heading up to Birmingham and playing the Alpha(bet)game; it's an easy thing and has various names. Essentially, you pick a category and then you work through the alphabet, taking it in turns to come up with something that begins with the appropriate letter and belongs to the chosen topic. Our default subject is 'songs, but name the artist performing them". Instrumentals are allowed too. For example, the person going first could play "Apache" by The Shadows. The next person could then follow that up with "Brilliant Mind" by Furniture, and so on. Allowances are made for difficult letters, such as 'X'.
It's a fun little game and keeps me awake on long motorway journeys - especially when I'm fighting a headache.
On our most recent trip, we were playing the game and Julie reached the letter 'U'. She had one to mind rather quickly, but it wasn't one of her favourites.

Hah! Headache or not, I knew a Gem when I heard one, especially when it's such a zinger. Even though i was driving, that had to be jotted down - just as well Julie has her own pad and pen handy at most times!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Bonus post - wot WAS the wotnot?

You may recall a post from a couple of weeks ago...

As I said at the time, "Context is everything". I'd written the Gem down but completely forgotten what the hell we were doing at the time to warrant such a situation.
Since I obviously hadn't a clue, I asked you for some help. Some of you commented on the Gem itself, others on my Facebook page. Also, some of you are either on medication or are in desperate need of some. You see, while one or two of the comments were disappointingly close to the truth,* there were also several that were bordering on inspired lunacy - or even in danger of becoming Gems in their own right.
HolzOnkel, commenting on the Gem itself wins a no-prize and a pat on the back for coming up with the most self-referential possibility - all based upon the tags/labels you'll find on the right of the page.
"Hold on - i need to put my dodgy logic on, or my loopy language will get self-aware."
Also worthy of a no-prize is Scribe, who definitely was trying to create a Gem (and wasn't doing too bad a job of it, to be honest...).
"I need to put my glasses on or my eyes will get dislocated."
Meanwhile, over on Facebook,  Michelle wins a no-prize for persistence and determination to add to the wackiness by posting a number of possibilities. She started slowly...
"I need to put my tea cozy on or my tea will get cold?"
But soon warmed up...
"I need to put my velociraptor on or my egg will get eaten?"
And finally achieved greatness with the frankly suggestive
"I need to put my lingerie or my husband will get none?"
My response to THAT one was "I dunno about that - he might think he's in for some if you DON'T wear it..."

*As I said, the truth behind the wotnots was predictably mundane - "I need to put my shoes on or my feet will get wet." Sharron and Michelle both thought that (or a close variation thereof), while back on the Gem page, Pinkshrimp was of the opinion Julie had been referring to gloves on her hands.
I think I preferred hearing a series of 'wotnot's to the truth.
And you know what? I reckon you do too.

My - what clever feet you have!

Happy Sunday, folks - I hope it's a nice, quiet one, allowing you some peace before you get back to work tomorrow. We like a bit of peace too...

Occasionally, Julie will just blurt something out. You know those quiet little moments when there's only the two of you in the room, it's a quiet Sunday afternoon and you're sat comfortably somewhere, having just demolished a large dinner. In the midst of that postprandial peace, someone says something. It's nothing ground-shaking, nor is it particularly banal. However, what it IS is utterly unexpected, and it wrong-foots you. You see, the other person has been thinking their thoughts and their unexpected speech is the result of it.
Unfortunately for you, you don't know everything that went before, so now you have to pick your way through what was going on in your companion's mind - and it's not going to be easy, because they don't think the same way as you do.

Well, that's life with Julie.
This time, however, we bucked the trend; everything was clearly understood and Julie made sense. Well, she did once I managed to hack a few of the ideas into little pieces for me to digest. She'd gone too fast, too far for me... Or as Julie put it,

...and down it crashed...

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Driving with a chocolate dog

Off on one of my journeys with the company van, we were discussing what I needed to take with me. This was me personally, that is... I'd long since given up trying to get my company to organise things and had instead begun issuing orders. That was kinda fun, actually... hehehe... No. I was rather more organised. I had a list of stuff I needed to take and a list for things I needed to do before going, en route and when I reached my destinations.
There was, however, one thing missing. If you are of a certain age and remember a certain chocolate bar...

...then you may also recall a certain advert on TV...

Since I was going to be doing the driving, Julie reckoned I should also be having the chocolate. Although none of the trucker-type leering at women... I was looking forward to getting out on the road for a change when Julie made this suggestion, and I was feeling somewhat whimsical. Which is why we ended up with this little exchange...

Actually, I was half-way serious. Like I said a couple of days ago, one thing I did miss on the road was company. Look at this li'l fella. Wouldn't you want him with you?

He's even as bad as me for getting up in the morning!
My parents have a Jack Russell terrier and he is so personable and well-behaved, it's almost unreal.
Sigh. What I ended up with was this. A limelight hogging hedgehog handpuppet.

Say 'hello' to Reynard Eladswort

Yeah. Great.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Doing the tea-thing

I like tea. I like it a lot, which is good, since I can't really get away with drinking coffee. That means I end up on the good side of this gentleman.

Go on - buy the album. you'll love it!

This is the gentleman responsible for the rise of steam-punk hip-hop, especially as seen in this clip

Unfortunately, I tend to fall foul of him in other ways... I also drink a fair amount of what are popularly known as 'herbal teas', although the term 'infusion' is more accurate as they don't derive from the tea bush. Chamomile, fruit infusions, that sort of thing. They're great for having a hot drink and it usually doesn't matter too much if you find some of it has gone cold. Unlike tea with milk, it's still somewhat drinkable.
Julie still finds the concept of a drink that is commonly called tea (but isn't really tea) somewhat baffling. Some proper teas too, as we found out when she discovered my favourite variety was lapsang suchong. On this occasion, I was trying out a white tea, a variety that is taken without milk, yet is still a 'real' tea. Naturally, this caused some confusion for Julie when I left it to steep (stew, for those not having the terminology) for a minute...

Don't worry; I didn't.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

A handy perspective

While I was away on business recently, I kept in contact with Julie on a regular basis. We had arranged to call in the evenings, but I often called if I had stopped for whatever reason, be it a service station on a motorway, at a destination where I was due to unload; any reason, really. Amazing how much you can miss someone, isn't it? When you're both at home, life just sort of settles into a routine. That's nice, but you can sort of start taking things for granted. While I was on the road, I missed the random hugs and the general knowledge that Julie was just there for me. OK, so we don't sleep in the same rooms (it's a snoring thing, mainly. That and my habit of talking in my sleep), but we know we're still very close.
I also miss talking with Julie. While we may differ in a lot of ways, we share likes and opinions on many, many other subjects.* On one occasion, Julie told me that she also found herself missing me in a curious aspect, that of scribe. Apparently, at work, Julie had said something odd and immediately found herself thinking, "oh! Spike should have been here to get this down!" I did suggest she jotted it down herself, but she said she couldn't do that.

This is true... Thing is, though, love, that sentence didn't quite end the way I thought it would...

*We both, for example, have a deep aversion to pretentious art; yes, Tracey Emin, I'm looking at you. And you, Damien Hirst. Do something yourself for a change, yes? Something not solely designed to shock.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Bonus post: Mitt Romney and the bland beliefs.

Don't ye just LOVE politics? Corruption and lies all the way.
The big thing, though is the speech. The speech that every politician gives when he's in dire need of some support from the likes of you and me. Once upon a time, they would write the speech themselves and what we would hear could be entertaining, boring, passionate, limpid, brief or epically huge and bombastic.
Not these days. Now, any politician with a little money prefers to rent somebody else's wordsmithing skills. Not only that, but they will also then often employ a proof reader to check for any errors or inappropriate content.

Enter Mitt Romney.
Mitt is the current man of the moment for the USA Republican Party. Should the party, in this latest presidential campaign, garner the most votes, then he will be the man in the Oval Office.
Oh bloody hell.
My apologies to any members or supporters of that political party, but the man is a brain-dead, charisma-free nincompoop.
Why? Well, let me show you. Bearing in mind all I just said about speeches and hiring writers to jot things down for them. take a look at this particular Gem.

See that section I highlighted? Isn't it beautiful? I mean, if you want to hear a perfect example of trying to say so little with so many words, then you don't really need to look any further than this chuffing pillock.
I'm sorry, America, but I can't honestly believe you have already forgotten the chimpanzee known as George 'Dubya' Bush, the guy you had before Obama.
For more on this you can read Mark Steyn's article.

Excuse me, I need to go rescue my brain...

Exfoliating fish fatalities

Some months ago, one of 'those' shops appeared in our shopping centre. You know the type. It's some new health fad and you know it's only going to be a short time before it disappears as swiftly as it arrived.
Sure enough, less than three months later, it was closed up, looking for all the world as though it fully intended to re-open once more tomorrow. We knew better. Another three months on, and guess what? Still nothing. I know vanity (along with a need for coffee, apparently) will be one of the last things to go - witness all the hair salons and (why, fer gods' sakes, why?) nail bars. However, a salon sole-ly (ahem) for the purpose of dunking your feet in so some fish with an apparent foot-fetish?

"Just when you thought it was safe to back into the water;
have you seen what they bloody charge for this crap?"
You may have gathered I'm not a huge fan of all these pampering things. I look at people forking over money to stick their manky feet in a tub of garra rufa and think to myself, "Why don't you just have a bath at home and clean your own feet, you lazy bastards?" A nail bar, I can just about understand - if you don't have the expertise, then your nails will look like crap. It's still vanity, but there you go. With the fish/foot fetish thing, absolutely nothing extra is offered. Everybody has the wherewithal to be able to wash their feet (OK, not literally, but then those unfortunates tend to have carers. I doubt they whisk their charges off to an aquarium for perverts).
Pardon me for a minute, I'm going to briefly morph into a Daily Mail reader - "More money than bloody sense, these people! No wonder the world is in financial crisis!"
Sorry about that, folks, I just had to get it out of my system. Julie, by the way, isn't too keen on the fish thing either...

Ew. Fair enough, but.. ew.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

The Cat With Nine Lives (and more!)

Heck with it. Time for some March Madness. You know last week we updated daily? Wel... er... pick your jaw up, there's a good fellow, it's most unseemly. Congratulations for anticipating me so well, however. Where was I? Oh yes. As you may have guessed by now, I'm going to give it the old college try and have a shot at post daily for the whole month. I may drop a day or two, and if I slow down, the first things to go will be the weekends.
Anyhow. On with it!


Some time ago now, Julie and myself were browsing a garden-shop website, on the look-out for things that may or may not have been hedgehog related. I can't recall whether we did or not, but I DO know we found a series of front door mats, all printed/made with various witty comments.* Julie, knowing my feelings towards cats - especially towards what the little sods do in my garden - pointed out this particular mat

Me, I was thinking it should have been something like "Cats, beware; angry gardener!", but Julie reckoned the original mat was correct, except for the fact it was unfinished. As she put it;

Well, yes I would. Apart from the implication that I'm the one actively trying to prevent a feline resurrection. Hmm. I wonder what ErwinSchr√∂edinger would make of that one...

*Well, 'witty', if you happen to have had a blow to the head, perhaps...

Monday, 5 March 2012

John, Ringo, George and Pun.

On one of our many trips out, we were sat in a cafe, supping tea and discussing various letter-themed tunes that we could install on our mobile phones - just to use for an alert for any incoming text messages. I know; sad, isn't it? The usual suspects turned up pretty quickly - The Proclaimers' "Letter From America" and The Carpenters' "Please Mr. Postman".
It didn't take long before we fell quiet, having run out of obvious choices, but then Julie threw something in that was so left-field it was positively trippy.

"Oh dear," I thought, "It's going to be like that is it?"

Sunday, 4 March 2012

The perils of an upside-down life

Hola - I hope you've had a nice weekend so far - and that the weather is a little less damp than here. Ah well, we need the rain, so we are told. It may help us avoid a hosepipe ban, but I wouldn't bet on it. One effect the weather will have here, specifically in Eastbourne, is that it will foul up folks' enjoyment of the annual charity half-marathon. I always think that's a hilarious concept and keep wondering if they ever plan to do the other half at a later point in the year. For weeks now, we've had signs up warning us that the seafront will be closed to traffic for part of the day, due to.. and then it has a patch where you can obviously fill in the latest event or problem. Personally, I want to go around and erase 'half marathon' and replace it with 'parade of deranged people and baffled OAPs'. Or is that too cynical of me?
Oh well.
In case you hadn't guessed, you would never get me - or Julie - running a marathon, full-length or otherwise. On the other hand, we DO like walking and I have done numerous charity walks in the past, notably the 'walkathons' they used to hold in Birmingham. It's stretching the term a little, as the route taken was roughly 4½ miles longer than the standard length for a marathon (which itself was extended by a few hundred yards so the Olympic event would end in front of the royal box. You don't believe me, do you?). 
Any way, I'm rambling (pun unintended). One day, some time ago now, Julie came home and flopped into a chair, all tired out.

Well, there goes my own personal theory on how Julie comes up with her Gems...

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Saturday Bonus - Looking for hot chickens

Well, not precisely, but it got your attention, didn't it you perverts?*

Some weeks ago, a good friend of mine wasn't feeling too good and was feeling rather chilled, and not in the good, blissed-out sense. Fortunately, she had some comfortable slippers, a pair that could be made even more comfortable via a brief spell in a microwave oven. (Essentially, they're a shaped pair of wheat bags, similar to those I use for my headaches - although I don't tend to heat mine, or wear them on my feet...)
Not so fortunately, they developed a problem. And this problem led to an immediate misunderstanding on my part...

Initially, I had absolutely NO idea what to think. My mind literally boggled. And then parts of it we desperately trying to shut down or disown my damnable imagination as it came up with weirder and weirder explanations. I think it says something about me, something unpleasant, that I never managed to even come close to the mundane reality that was needing feathers to replace the lost wheat.
Shame on me. My friend certainly heaped scorn upon me, even if it was leavened (spot the vaguely bread-themed gag, pun pals!) with a lashing of amicable humour...

* Many apologies to Gonzo the Great, who has perfectly normal relationships with chickens. Normal for him, that is...

Friday, 2 March 2012

Hot flushes and Battenberg cake

She's not that old, really, but Julie is convinced she is rushing headlong towards what women of a certain age tactfully refer to as 'The Change'. This is down to the fact she sometimes (note that, please; only 'sometimes') gets hot flushes and finds herself suddenly opening her cardigan and fanning her face. It doesn't help that our house is pretty old and has negligible amounts of heating (a gas fire in the front room. That's it.) and insulation, so when the sun comes around and hits that window, you'll suddenly find you're sweltering. The draughty rooms don't help either. >sigh<
Another factor is that Julie had a couple of major operations in the last two years, both fairly life-altering, so her poor body is taking lots of time to try and find a workable 'normal' setting it can stay with. In the meantime, there's bound to be lots of ups and downs in many ways. (by the way, there's no need to worry - there was nothing seriously wrong and nor is there now, apart from a propensity to Gem)

One thing that seems to remain the same, though is Julie's own particular way with words. For example, after one such hot flush, Julie came up with this comment:

Well, she's welcome to that. I absolutely loathe marzipan.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Logic while you listen

As I mentioned the other day, we recently went to a comedy gig with some friends, and as we were travelling home, we were all chatting about this, that and the other. Of course, some of this (and maybe a little bit of that, but definitely none of the other), was about the show we had seen. Naturally, we were still full of our own personal memories of the show - but don't you always find that you will have laughed yourself to tears many times during the show, but can never recall anything but the barest details once it's all over and the dust has settled?

Nevertheless, all four of us were bringing up various bits of the show, although some prompting was required to get the details right now and then. At the other end of the spectrum, we'd each had our favourite sketches and would recount them more than once. Julie's own favourite was where Milton Jones was recounting how he was proud and amazed to have an uncle who was a GI and in the RAF - until he found out he was only a giraffe, that is (GI-RAF, geddit?). In the car after the show, after one of us mentioned what we had found particularly good, Julie would pipe up with some variation of "I still like the giraffe joke." Eventually, I felt I had to point out that she was in danger(!) of repeating herself.

As with the other Gem I referred to from this occasion, the remaining three of us fell silent, trying to work through the logic.
I'm still working on it.


Don't forget there is still a chance to have a chance at interpreting on of Julie's Gems. Yesterday saw an amazing outburst of 'wotnot's, and I challenged you to come up with some of your own otherworldly - or down to earth - version. So, come on, click here and comment with your own out-take. I'll post the best of them (and the real words) at some point in the near future.