Sunday, April 15, 2012

John Steinbeck, M&Ms and a Premier Inn, sounds like a good night, it wasnt.

Greekings from the Lum side, 

Hey George,
Did you bury the body good? 
I've never really got M &Ms marketing.  They portray them as lovable little characters in appealing colours that we are meant to scoff down like a big cruel giant, consuming families and whole communities of them , and feel good about it.   
There is a wise cracking one, full of street marts ( an undoubted pain in the arse) and one that I'll call a retard (that you wouldn't ask to babysit).  That got me thinking M&M stood for Mice and Men, these things are like the original Lennie and George, perhaps George strangled a Smartie at some point and they are on the run from the confectionery Interpol.   The idea of that might well be true, but actually the letters stand for the founders of Hersheys, Forrest Mars and Bruce Murrie, I'm guessing Bruce is the dim one.  
This pointless preamble is really to introduce my visit to M&M World.  In the heart of London's Theatre Land, its like 4 floors of chocolatey whores in there.  These candy characters are selling everything,  I expected to see a manky curtain in the corner where Sue, the green one, who I think is a girl, though her name is the only thing that gives that away, will be waiting, fag in hand, cheap shoes  and the promise of a happy ending.  
The place was heaving with people, lapping it up, buying key-rings, plates, t-shirts, there was even a pair of sunglasses with diamantes on the side which would normally say D&G, but instead said M&M, and they wanted £120 for them.  Who would buy them, Bertie Bassets trashy daughter Britney?
There were big dispensers so you could fill up a little polythene bag of the same tasting sweety, granted, you could have a chocolate one, or a peanut one, but that still adds up to a variety of 2 sweeties.  The dispensers had a lever on them that you pulled with your bag placed underneath to catch a portion.  I thought, not unreasonably in my mind, that each pull would measure out a standard weight, but no, they just keep coming, spewing out like the Wizard of Oz's vomit.  I discretely discarded that bulging bag and gingerly selected another group of jolly little candy people.  It was £5, and I felt as if I'd been coshed and had my pockets rifled.  
At the back, deep down on the lowest floor, there was an area behind a glass wall, where laboured a white coated teenager in what was hilariously called the colour lab or something, like there coming up with new colours, or is it an M&M farm, where the young M&Ms are born and raised in batteries ready for the big day they get selected and poured into a bag and onto a weighing scale.  

One exciting piece of news I'm sure you'll be delighted for me to share with you.  In this Olympic year, I managed to set my own personal best in a discipline that I have a particular aptitude for.   
It happened a good few Saturdays ago,  I had offered to take the train down to Tunbridge Wells to help a friend with some heavy lifting when they moved flat.  I'm never going to set any PBs for heavy lifting, so that's not it.  
Afterwards, we had a few beers, taking the opportunity to enjoy a few out side the city walls for a change.  Again, not a personal best, it was a fairly conservative session with me begging my leave at around 22:30.  This in theory gave me plenty of time for the 55 minute journey to London, getting me there in time for the last tubes home.  So, imagine my delight and surprise to be shaken awake by the guard at 01:30 about 4 miles from where I had started, in Tonbridge, Kent.   I had slept for 3 hours and covered some 80 miles sound asleep on the train.  Take into account the 1 hour the train was stationary at Charing Cross in London, where the guard was obviously not as diligent in his duties and it all adds up to a new personal record. 
I thought I had actually been carried on the train all the way to Hastings on the Kent coast and back, but an interrogation of my phones wherabouts history, showed that was not the case and I had to stick to 80 miles. 
Normally, being deposited at a foreign train station in the early hours would mean no more than a search for the bus stop and to enter the night bus lottery,  but I was off the night bus radar and a taxi would have been hundreds....probably.   I decided to walk about Tonbridge and think about what I could do, if worst comes to worst, just walking for 5 hours will mean the first train of the morning will be due.  Trouble was, Tonbridge isn't that big, and after the 3 or 4th time up and down the high street I was frankly bored and I imagined I was attracting the kind of attention John Rambo would get if he ambled into town.  
It was about the coldest night of the year and about -10 degrees, I was actually beginning to get a bit anxious.   I remembered that educational film from when I was a kid about how to recognise the onset of hypothermia. Sitting down and falling asleep if I remember is not a good idea.  In the end, with my feet going numb and breathing getting painful, I decided to hail the one cab in town and find a hotel.  The Premier Inn, £65 for the night, for about 4 hours sleep.  So there you go, 80 miles and £65, I think pips the mileage from Glasgow to Perth in what was my previous best.    I'm quite happy to retire now, from my sleeping on trains career. 

Lang May Yer Lum Reek.

Friday, April 13, 2012

CGI and the Russian barbershop

Don't know how my hairdresser ended up in this pic,
is that a rouble spinning machine she working 
So , Friday the 13th.  I could have stayed under the duvet all day, but I like to live perilously, so out I went into the city, cradled in fates fragile clasp.   

A haircut was on the ever expanding list of things to get done, and I thought, whats the worst that can happen at a barbers, its not like I have flowing locks and an upcoming modelling assignment.  I am undeniably follicly challenged so it’s the same haircut for me every time, even when the hairdresser says, “What would you like” like there are options.   I’m sure they just say that to rub it in, a reminder that all the years of training at Snip Camp are wasted on the likes of me.   
Sometimes I like to say, "well, I thought the Thor look would suit my face,  but then, tell you what, just the usual, the number 1 all over".   
You shouldn’t be experimenting with hair anyway at my age, even if I did have enough to go round and do something with, I reckon I would just say the same.  You don’t see George Clooney with new locks do you.  They should of course be grateful it only takes like 10 minutes at most to cut my hair, which puts their hourly rate up there with astronauts and plumbers.   
I’ve started going to a shabby little shop just around the corner,  its shared with a man that has a sewing machine and there is a constant stream of women coming in to get their aprons mended or whatever.  The hairdressers though are all Russian or similar.   One of them, a generously proportioned lady, with yellow hair has a very distinct aroma, its either night before vodka, or maybe some kind of thinning agent but either way it suggests a darker side. Maybe up all night manning a Russian gangsters forgery press.   The good thing of course about Russian hairdressers, even if the opportunity is fleeting, is that there is no pointless conversation.  So "do you have holidays booked this year?" , or, " you on holiday today?" or ooh, i could go a holiday!"  None of that thank the Gods, their instincts are so intent in adding their own little bit to the next tractor coming down the line. 

I’m loving Camden Market, its got a huge eclectic collection of stuff to browse around, every taste catered for, I even managed to find a stall selling deep fried Mars Bars and other chocolatey battered confectionery.  I had a deep fried cream egg, just to try it out you understand, that and I thought people would think I was just munching down a chicken ball from the Chinese.  Verdict was actually favourably, sweet obviously, but the warm melting chocolate was a nice contrast to the cooler fondant, and it all worked rather well, if you forget the fact its come out a deep fat frier. 

Oh, you want a basin?
It must have been that prawn cocktail. 
 I passed the billboard for the new CGI fest, Wrath of Titans which promises to be all shit and sandals.   Judging by the poster its even got a big two headed ill-defined monster, vomiting what appears to be carrot and coriander soup all over the shop.  Not pleasant admittedly, I certainly wouldn’t want to clean it up, but come on Titans, you must be able to do better than that.  
Mind you, with the John Carter movie flopping, and Titans not getting its money back in short shrift, I think the old sword and monster epic has had its day, I predict we wont be seeing any of them again for a while.   

CGI is good when its done well,  when it augments and enhances reality, like the battle scenes in LOTR where without CGI you would never appreciate the scale,  but I’m tired of these designers coming up with daft looking monsters.   Avatar had big beasts with 6 legs, why would they have 6 legs, what quirk in evolution would make 6 legs better than 4 for a big liony-rhinoceros type thing.   
I'm not saying wheels are an evolutionary abomination,
I'm just saying, I cant get up the fckin stairs
If they had had wheels I could understand.  I think in a million or so years, if we are still here, we might have developed wheels or something, they will grow out of or big lazy flabby bum cheeks.  
It’ll start off as muscle development from all the sitting and sedentary lifestyles we live, because we’ll start to shuffle about on them,  its so much less effort to stand up after all, these shuffling muscles will eventually grow and mutate in to little casters......... probably, and  as the speedier shufflers get all the girls and doughnuts those will develop into full spoked, gleaming blinging rims bitches, probably with a nice set of chromed spinners setting the whole thing off.

Anyway, look at the time now, its taken me all day, believe it or not, to put this together, and I havent had any noticeable bad luck or obvious misfortune, so 

Lang may yer lum reek. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled, was convincing people he was funny.

Greekings Reeking Lums, 

Going down laughing is infinitely
preferable to just going down
6 months to go working on the big International Sports day, I'm pretty sure it will be great, but it also means the looming prospect of joblessness for me when its all done.  
Around the same time the final spent firework at the Paralympic Games closing ceremony falls back to Stratfords regenerated streets I'll be finished.  
I'll be looking forward to a rest, but you can only really enjoy a rest if you know its not an infinite one and you can actually still  afford to feed yourself.   
It doesn't help that my best pal and perennial Peroni partner has left, gone to till the soil in the hotel business, another mate discovered the escape tunnel that comes up in Abu Dhabi and my excellent boss too has found a seat in a lifeboat and has pootered off to the media business.  
Good luck to them.  

I did have a funny day at work a couple of weeks ago.  I volunteered to help make a security awareness video for the "firm"  which involved me, in disguise, in various security scenarios.  Now, we're not talking about active shooters or bombs on buses going off if the speed drops below 50.  Its more, your documents left in the printer and the value of ID badges messages.   
The highlight was having the videos, oh yes, there was a series of them, played in front 200 cynical, hard nosed security professionals that wanted to go home at the end of the day, but had been told to stay late and see our fantastic films.  So after 10 excruciating minutes of the silenciest silence I've never heard, and the reddest redness my head has ever been, I was introduced to the mute, humourless horde. 
I had to explain the content and talk about the messages, but decided to go for comedy instead, as I always do at inopportune moments.   "Hello, I'm Troy McClure".  I'm not obviously, and I did give my own name, "you may know me from such informational films as "Something Juicy to Read and Tailgating! Door to Disaster."   A new, deeper more spiteful silence enveloped the hall, "never mind, carry on I said to myself, at least they'll hear you".  "Well, I must say, I'm delighted that you all saw past the comedy elements in the films (and there were plenty) and managed to take on board the very serious messages contained within the films.  You cant get quieter than silence, but if gurning expressions could suck the residual sound waves that are above and below the human ears spectrum out of the room, then what we would have had is an audio vacuum, I may have come across as being slightly mocking, but still, no need for aggressive indifference.  I talked for 5 minutes, reinforcing our points, then closed with a bit of humorous self deprecation, which, even though I say it myself,  I'm not that good at.  " I must say, I've been working for this organisation for two years, I'll take so much away from the experience, after these films, I now know, dignity and credibility are not among them" .  And that was that, I had died, but had learned a valuable lesson, the security professionals of the UK wouldn't know funny if it was fisting them with day-glo Marigolds on.  That's a good thing, we don't want them getting distracted by comedy capers.  

Viva ze Revolution!!
Can we stop off at  Aldis on the way? 
I'll miss London if I'm honest,  I think it must be one of the best cities in the world in which to live.  I think that must be true because of all the people from every corner of the world that end up here.  I love that diversity, so many different looking people.  Until you get to the office door, you hardly ever see the same person twice, its a constantly changing canvas that you never tire of.  There was a guy on the tube the other day who was the spitting image of a young and fiery Che Guevara.  He had the khaki military bush coat, the wiry beard  barely meeting the adolescent moustache and thick unruly glossy black Argentinian hair poking out from underneath his beret.  He was trying hard to be Che Guevara I think, mind you, the Waitrose carrier bag kind of detracted, but none the less a good effort.  I really don't think Che Guevara would shop at Waitrose, would he shop anywhere in fact, or just live off the good will and charity of grateful liberated peasants.   There aren't many liberated peasants around these parts, all are still well and truly under the yoke of The Man,  so I guess Che Guevara would need to pick up some groceries, but surely he would support the little corner shop, or the ethnic fair trader.   

I have suddenly gotten Twitter.  I don't mean got it, like downloaded it and generated an account, I mean just twigged the concept and meaning of it, and its a hoot.  I was always reticent, I genuinely have a lot of affection for Facebook and didn't want to feel like I was being unfaithful.  And it sat there, in my favourites folder,  like a feathery lure, but one I was too wary to approach, not wanting to put the work in to get to know it, reluctant to invest in a relationship when I was perfectly satisfied with the one I had.   Facebook has let me find old and distant friends, keep in touch with ex-colleagues and maintain a watchful, ever anxious and sometimes mortified eye over some entertaining fun loving kids, mine I hasten to add before The Police get involved.   Twitters not for keeping in touch with friends you already know, its about reaching out to strangers, offering something that someone else may be tuned in to, or turned on by and creating friends,  well, virtual ones, or not, it doesn't matter.   It turns out, its a laugh, there are a lot of people with genuinely funny thoughts bursting out of them.    The trouble is, I get distracted, I've been meaning to write something for weeks and weeks but I end up spending all my inanity on social networks and none on the Reeking Lum,  must try harder.  

Lang May Yer Lum Reek