Saturday, 30 April 2011

Picnic In The Park

I got a text from my friend yesterday morning, asking if I wanted to come to a barbecue in the park. I'm not normally much of a morning person, but I was already up because I had a hair appointment booked around noon, this time with a real stylist (I got it cheap on Groupon so don't worry, I haven't compromised my haircare ethics), who incidentally gave me a shorter cut on the right side of my head on the basis that it "looks edgy". It actually just makes me look a bit lop-sided. If you can, try to picture a puzzled collie. That's pretty accurate.

In any case, I graciously accepted the invitation, by which I mean I replied with "what you're proposing is actually against the law in this country, so I'll be there shortly". However, I hadn't factored in her ability to give directions which might have worked for a normal person, but had certainly not been translated into Otterspeak for me. Therefore, I got to the proposed park (somewhere I'd never actually been before despite it being about 400 yards from a main road I used to live on) only to find that I couldn't see my friends anywhere.

Me: The east quadrant, she says? My ass, it's the east quadrant (pulling out my phone) Okay, it's fine, I'll just call her. No big deal.

Friend: (picking up) Dude, where are you?

Me: You are not in the east quadrant. At all. When the zombie apocalypse comes, I'm not letting you near the map collection.

Friend: I was speaking in terms of the park itself.

Me: Forgive me for thinking that when you said 'east' you meant 'east' as in compass east. Anyway, where are you?

Friend: You can't see us? Okay, take off your shirt and we'll come find you.

Me: Okay, sure- wait, what?!

Friend: We took a vote and we all agreed that it would make you easier to find. And would in fact be a reward for us for finding you.

Me: This is a children's park. I am right next to a sandpit.

Friend: You're always so full of excuses.

Me: I'll work on that.

It turned out to be a lovely day, even if three of us nearly set ourselves/alcohol/food/grass on fire in an attempt to prove that we were tough and outdoorsy enough to light a disposable barbecue with a firelighter tool. It wasn't until we'd finally managed to get the damn thing lit that we realised we'd forgotten to take the cardboard packaging off it, and let me tell you, if they'd included that as a challenge in one of the Crystal Maze rooms, the program would have benefited from the added suspense and danger. I no longer allow myself to watch Crystal Maze reruns as I can't helping myself hurling the most foul-mouthed and harsh criticism at the contestants ("Steven, you ham-fisted bastarding moron, the long bricks are supposed to slot in the other way! You wasted thirty seconds on reading out the instructions and now this? How can you live with yourself?")

I also discovered that with this particular group of friends, all I need to do to be included in the zombie apocalypse group is to agree to take my shirt off. What was I thinking, trying to impress them with my intelligence and language skills? What need do they have for a Risk strategy expert who is also very good with animals and has an incredibly photographic memory? None! None at all. If only I'd known my appeal from the beginning I wouldn't have had to endure the anxiety about being left behind. At least now I feel reassured. Zombies on, shirt off. It's my new motto.

Friday, 29 April 2011

This Is Not A Pipe

The company I work for is international. We have a lot of different cultures represented in our workplace, and almost everyone speaks at least two or three languages, if not more. This can be incredibly useful and incredibly embarrassing as I found out to my consternation on a dress down day a couple of years ago. I had just bought some new tshirts from Threadless and I was excited to test them out on my work colleagues. On this particular day, I had innocently chosen a green tshirt with a green pipe on it (the kind from Mario games) which had a fireflower coming out of the top. Underneath it said "ceci n'est pas une pipe" (translated: "this is not a pipe"). I considered this the height of cool. Who wouldn't want a shirt that managed to be both a video game reference and an art reference all in one? After all, many of us have experienced the feeling of exasperation when your little on-screen Mario jumps onto one of these, only to be destroyed instantly by something vicious coming out of it with no warning whatsoever. My geekery knows no bounds.

So when I met my French friend for lunch that day, I expected him to congratulate me on my excellent choice of apparel. I did not expect him to glance at my tshirt, double-take and then start laughing hysterically.

Me: Is it that funny? Really?

Him: No, it's just....I don't know how to tell you this.

Me: Oh god, what?

Him: Well, it's slang. Translated literally it means "this is not a blowjob".

Me: Are you telling me that I've been walking around all day, at work, wearing something that has a sex joke on it?! In a language people around here can read?

Him: Um...Yes.

Me: Oh. Crapmaster.

This leads me, in a very roundabout way, to something that was brought to my attention the other day. I have referred to myself throughout this blog as Otternator, or occasionally as an actual otter (complete with bright, shiny eyes, magnificently Biebered pelt and a varied range of expressions) and no one had really questioned it much so it never occurred to me that I should have taken the time to explain myself a little. 45 posts, people. I am rather embarrassed. I do apologise.

Really, the story is quite simple. An ex and I had a running joke that she looked like a gangling, runty pony (yes, I said runty) and so it naturally followed that we tried to decide which animal I looked/acted most like. The otter is small. It can sometimes look rather sweet and cuddly, but it will in all likelihood bite your motherflipping hand off if given half a chance. The otter enjoys rolling about on the ground, romping with other otters (which I think you'll agree, is otterly delightful - the pun potential with this animal is truly amazing) and eating fish. It has moments like this:

Wendy watched the sunset in a deep, philosophical silence. 
Screw him. He could have the kids. She'd take the Kawasaki.
(photo via Drew Avery at

But it also has moments like this.

              "Ma! MA! Derek won't let me watch America's Next Top Model! MA! MAAAAA!"
 (photo via Yasaiman at

In short, I am really quite ottery. I look innocent when I'm not, I'll fight you for some meat and I move much better in water than I do on land. Thus it was decided, and I have enjoyed otter-related products/jokes/stories and so forth ever since.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Rudolph, We Hardly Knew Ye

I've mentioned before in previous posts that I enjoy singing and dancing. These are things I prefer not to do in front of other people, except in cases of serious drunkenness or for entertainment purposes when I can be absolutely certain people are laughing with me rather than at me. Therefore when I am at home alone I tend to take full advantage by cranking my speakers up to 11 and bellowing heartily along to whatever song is playing. I have a fairly varied taste, I think, and my ipod ranges from Music You'd Be Embarrassed To Admit Your Gran Listened To, Never Mind Yourself ("I don't know how 'Ooh Aah Just A Little Bit' got on there, I really don't. Must be an iTunes malfunction. The whole album? Really? My goodness, how odd") to So Down With The Kids, I Even Know What Krumping Is.

However, since my musical taste is so far-reaching and my little ottery mind is so full of other things, occasionally I forget that what I'm singing is not well matched to the current situation - apparently delivering a rousing rendition of Tenacious D's classic 'Fuck Her Gently' at the cats is neither impressive nor parentally appropriate, something I really should remember in case I ever spawn some little Otternators (a day we should all worry about). So it was with relief on her face that Other Half found me in the kitchen, wailing along to 'Baby It's Cold Outside'.

Other Half: You do know it's Spring, right?

Me: (looking at the sunshine pouring through the window and feigning amazement) You don't say!

Other Half: Isn't that a bit too festive?

Me: Christmas songs should be enjoyed all year round. Hey, you know what's weird?

Other Half eyes me with apprehension, because when I ask that question it invariably means we're going to have a conversation which can only end in puzzled expressions, frustrated nose-pinching and a giant, swelling cricket orchestra playing the delicate harmonies of awkward silence against the backdrop of our lives.

Other Half: (sighing) Go on then.

Me: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Have you ever thought about the lyrics?

Other Half: I can't say that I have.

Me: (brandishing a spoon) Consider this. The other reindeer initially wouldn't let Rudoph join in their reindeer games, correct?

Other Half: Yes...

Me: This was specifically because he was different in the nasal region. The song states that they laughed and called him names. Harassment. Intimidation. Slander. Those are serious charges.

Other Half: (pinches nose) Right...

Me: They only let him into their snooty regular-nosed club AFTER Santa took an interest in Rudolph, right? Only after Rudolph had become a minor celebrity! In an Arctic way, obviously. He wasn't, like, the David Beckham of reindeers or anything.

Other Half: Um...

Me: Therefore, I have proved that reindeer are spiteful, bullying, shallow creatures who immerse themselves in lives of superficial fame and glamour. It is a sad, lonely existence.

Other Half: Have you been drinking?

Me: Maybe a little. Fickle reindeer! You know it makes sense.

Other Half: You and your theories.

Me: Me and my theories are breaking ground. Hey, I forgot to ask you earlier - do you have your tickets?

Other Half: Tickets? What tick- NO! Do not start that again.

Me: The Gun Show just isn't the same without you.

Other Half: (exiting hurriedly) I'm leaving the room! Possibly the building.

Me: (following and smirking) Well then you're in luck, because the Gun Show is on tour! COMING TO A HOUSE NEAR YOU!

Other Half:....Dammit.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

With A Baby Louis Vuitton Under Her Underarm

If you read this blog, or if you follow me on Twitter, it won't be long until you notice that I really enjoy bantering with people. It's one of my absolute favourite pastimes. I also really enjoy in-jokes and will go to great lengths to preserve such things by slipping them into conversation even if the conversation does not require it, and generally spreading them around like jam.

Other Half and I have a couple of great in-jokes that we use every now and again, which inevitably ends in both of us giggling like lunatics on a bus or similar. The following link is an advert for Chanel no. 5, which features Nicole Kidman squinting worriedly at the camera a lot and some truly pretentious dialogue, the best line of which is "I'm a dancer! I LOVE to dance!" Every now and again, I will burst into a room that Other Half is occupying, delivering this line in the same kind of breathy, overacted way that Nicole Kidman specialises in, and then flail about dramatically for a few seconds like Kate Bush on speed attempting to reenact The Nutcracker. (link This never fails to crack both of us up.

In addition, there are many video game jokes to be exchanged on Twitter. You've probably heard of, if not played, the game series Final Fantasy. It is a longstanding and brilliant turn-based RPG, which involves a lot of cool magic casting and summoning of mythical creatures to do your bidding. Trust me when I say there is nothing so satisfying as finally bringing down a boss by means of clever strategy (unless it's dominating the world in Risk - a skill which I am convinced is transferable to real world domination, if only I could get a small army of otters together). However, the Final Fantasy games do have a few problems, not least with their plotlines. Each game has different characters and a different premise, but the unifying factor is that it is usually surreal, particularly in the later games. My favourite of all time, Final Fantasy 8, is on the surface a romance set against the backdrop of a political uprising of a sorceress (to simplify it greatly) but in actual fact pulls the story threads together about halfway through by explaining that seven or so of the main characters all grew up in an orphanage together, and then somehow all conveniently forgot this fact due to all the monster summoning they'd been up to.
In addition, Final Fantasy 10's main character Tidus discovers that his long lost father is now what could best be described as a magical whale from the future. Final Fantasy is clearly a folding table and several colonies of ants short of a picnic, but nevertheless the games are highly enjoyable, and I do recommend them.

Back to in-jokes. One of my very excellent and funny friends (Jen of the 'Cheese and Crayons' blog, which can be found on the right of this site) enjoys exchanging song lyrics with me, in the most pedantic and British way possible. I'll highlight one of my favourite examples here. To give a little context, I'd just been paid a bonus at work after slaving on a project for about three months, so I was extremely happy about actually having some money.

Me: I feel so rich right now. It's bloody great.

Jen: If you earned that much every month, I'd marry you. And I'm straight.

Me: Bitch, please. I ain't messing with no golddigga.

Jen: I'm not saying I need someone rich, necessarily. I earn enough on my own. I do date a lot of broke bro's.

Me: The shoes on your feet?

Jen: I bought them.

Me: The car you're driving?

Jen: I bought it.

Me: The house you live in?

Jen: For a very reasonable price, I rent it.

Me: I believe that qualifies you as an Independent Woman.

Jen: Indeed, yah. I do depend on me, if I want it.

Me: Amazing.

And so it was.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Kill Bill, Not Kittens

Other Half and I were watching Kill Bill last night. It's one of the few films of the last 10 years that I really admire. It has comedy, action and drama. It has what might well be, in my opinion, the most beautiful fight scene ever, in a snowy garden with oddly-chosen but perfectly-fitting music by Santa Esmerelda playing over it. I knew Other Half had seen Kill Bill once before, so when (in the first ten seconds) Uma Thurman got shot in the head, she turned to me with an impatient expression, I knew this was going to be an annoying conversation.

Other Half: What happens? Why did he shoot her?

Me: Just watch the film. That's the whole point. They'll tell you what happened over the course of the next two hours. In story format.

Other Half: But I've seen it before.

Me: Then you should remember:

Other Half: Just tell me!

I ended up giving her a brief summary of the film, to shut her up, which seemed to satisfy her and she settled down quietly. However, once we got to the part which showed O-Ren Ishii's assistant Sophie talking on the phone, Other Half cracked.

Other Half: Wait, so... Uma Thurman got shot 4 years ago, right?

Me: (wondering where this is going) Yes?

Other Half: And she (pointing at Sophie onscreen) was there, right?

Me: Yes?

Other Half: Are we supposed to believe this woman hasn't changed her ringtone in 4 years?

Me: (gaping in disbelief) Uma Thurman got shot in the head, survived, woke up from her coma, escaped from a hospital without anyone noticing and taught herself to walk again after only 13 hours, before going on a vicious killing rampage and you found the ringtone thing unbelievable?

Other Half: Well, yes.

Me:(nodding thoughtfully) ...Well noticed..

After the film, I tried to reach over Other Half to put Kill Bill 2 on. She was holding a glass of juice and  purposefully not moving, which made the whole operation much more dangerous.

Other Half: Don't do that.

Me:(grinning and reaching anyway)

Other Half: Seriously. Don't.

Me: (reaching)

Other Half: (clutching the juice carefully) Children will die. Five children, to be exact.

I continue to reach.

Other Half: And a puppy. Hmm? Five poor defenceless children and one innocent puppy. Do you want that on your conscience?

I pause, consider and then continue to reach.

Other Half: And two kittens. WHO ARE IN LOVE.

I rear back instantly, horrified.

Me: How could you say such awful things?

Other Half: It is truly disturbing that you didn't stop before now. Really? Kittens in love is your limit?

Me: Everyone has boundaries. Even me.

In summary, make love not war, and kill Bill, not kittens. These are slogans  we could all live by in future.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Emails On A Postcard, Please

This is a serious post about an issue that we've all faced at some point or another in our lives. If you can't be honest with others about it then at least, please, try to be honest with yourselves.

I checked my hotmail account the other day to find, shall we say, an unwanted email. It wasn't spam from that nice sounding Nigerian prince with the appalling spelling (I do hope he spends some of that untaxed oil money on a decent English tutor), it was just one of those emails you get from someone you know that you really wish you hadn't opened, because it requires you to Do Stuff, and we all know by now how I like to avoid Doing Stuff in favour of, say, sitting down with a nice cup of tea and staring idly into space while contemplating important issues such as how geeky would it actually be to go as a Final Fantasy character for Halloween this year (or am I wasting a hilarious but potentially humiliating opporchancity to go as the Bieber?) or if Other Half would really be mad if she came home to find that I'd shaved Roland's body fur to make him look like a little grey lion, etc.

So, when such an email (you can't always identify them on sight, but the subject heading usually gives you a clue) comes hurtling into your inbox from the endless orbit of internetty space, you sigh. You stare at it. You move your mouse pointer over, and then... you pause. Wouldn't it be wonderful if it all somehow just went away? The computer seems to lean closer. It could, you know, it says in a conspiratorial whisper. It only takes a second to click 'delete'. No one would ever have to know. The next few moments are spent in nail-biting agony as you weigh the instant gratification of removing such an annoying and demanding  request from your life, against the guilt you'll feel when you claim later that you never received it. If you decide to delete it, go on to Part 2 below (I read a lot of these kind of Make Your Own Adventure books as a child, most quite longwinded, involving dice and small contraptions, and I've never really got over how fun the whole concept is). If you didn't decide to delete it, progress to Part 1. If you still haven't decided because you are worried about the moral and social implications of choosing a side - stop. Life is full of choices, as my Street Fighter hoodie tells me. Now are you going to play or not, dammit? Good.

Part 1 - You're clearly a better person than me. That's all. I bet you don't spill when you eat. I bet you've never even chewed a mouthful of food, grinning, and then asked your partner/parent/friend if they like "seefood". I bet you keep most if not all of your social engagements. I'm sure I could learn plenty from you, because the world both loves and needs people who actually respond to emails.

Part 2 - You are clearly me, cloned. Well done. You have achieved the first stage of Otterdom, which involves a lot of mischievous behaviour with reckless disregard for the consequences. Of course, you are brave and noble and loyal and if anything really untoward happens, you'll turn up eventually, after you're done fannying about with whatever important task you were occupied with. The world also needs people like us. We keep it interesting, even if we do make it kind of anxious sometimes with all our giggling.

So it was with a delighted grin that I deleted the email. I always hear the same noise in my head when I do this (and it is best accompanied by a kind of shifty eye-motion normally reserved for spy films) which can really only be described as hoverhoverhoverhoverCLICKY. It's a truly satisfying sound.

Note: this technique should only be used when you are willing to take the consequences of your actions. Do not click delete without thinking it through, however briefly (the time it takes you to mentally say "ummm....yeah!" should be enough). Above all else, don't try this at work, in a swimming pool, while passing GO, while joining a choir, with a mouse, or in a house. NEVER with a mouse, people. That's the golden rule.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Back In The Habit (Of Blogging)

Today was a day which will live in infamy as the Day I Got Internet Back (after 6 weeks of torturous, deprived existence which seemed to last an eternity - okay so admittedly I was able to access Twitter from my phone but it wasn't the same as being properly On The Tinterwebs). Not having regular access really made blogging difficult, so hopefully I'll be able to get back up to speed soon. Other Half made a joke earlier about how she'd love to send me back to Victorian times or at least to some era pre-internet, and my immediate and perhaps slightly aggressive overreaction was to make the rudest gesture I know (with both hands, for added emphasis) and then tell her that my other ride is her mother. Note to everyone: lack of internet is a touchy subject for an Otternator.

I wanted to start this post by returning briefly to the subject of a previous one - made up words. In addition to the ones I described before, I have a new word as well as one my friend Sarah bestowed unto me, which is easily becoming one of my favourite made up words of all time. Let us dive straight in to the pool of language.

Nerdsplode - (verb) To describe the feeling of explosive excitement only caused by much geekery and sharing of nerdy references or quotes.
Used in a sentence: "We made Final Fantasy 8 jokes on twitter. I totally nerdsploded with joy."

Automagically - (adjective) when something happens repeatedly but no matter how hard you try, you are unable to explain how this came about.
Used in a sentence: "Matthew McConaughey has an automagical acting career."

In other news, I watched Sister Act 2 a few nights ago. It is one of my favourite heartwarming musical comedies of all time, even surpassing the original Sister Act. I then spent a good portion of the next 12 hours making referential jokes about this with various Twitter friends, pointing out that in this odd 90s world, Lauryn Hill's innocent wish to join the school choir is treated by her horrified mother as if she'd requested to drop out of education entirely to follow her dream of operating a meth lab slash brothel out of the family basement. A choir? What next, Lauren? DRUGS? MY GOD.

This reminded me in a way of Step Up 2: The Streets (the premise of which is almost identical to the original Step Up film, except that in the sequel they dance outside in the street to win the fickle crowds over, hence the imaginative title) because the college dance director reacts to the proposal to Dance Outside (a dangerous idea if ever I heard one) with the same kind of rigid authoritarian terror. Imagine if Lauryn Hill had wanted to dance without protection from the elements! Not even a scarf! Her mother would have had a heart attack.

I love Sister Act 2 for many reasons; chiefly Whoopi and her innate comedic talent, of course, as well as the original nuns (including the great Maggie Smith) who were always highly entertaining, and the young up-and-coming stars like Jennifer Love Hewitt, Lauryn Hill and, er... I think that's it. But how to pick a highlight? Well, arguably the best moment in the entire film is when shy Amal hits the glass-shattering, soul-searing high note at the school assembly, which naturally causes everyone to start screaming and applauding in delight at his obvious talent, and not, as the case would have been at my school, beginning an instant rumour about his sexuality and crayon schematics drawn up for a beating after the final bell rang.

There is also the amazing medley at the start of the film which involves various increasingly well-built men with some truly awful poodle-perm hair and tight outfits parading around as Whoopi sings her way through a collection of classic songs; the moment when Lauryn Hill catches her mother's eye in the crowd at the choir competition and you can see the steely determination in her jutted chin as she lifts the microphone to her lips To Prove A Point Because If Daddy Was Alive, He'd Have Supported Me And Not Tried To Crush My Dreams Like You, You Choir-Hating Bitch; and of course, the entire ending song Joyful, Joyful which involves some rap that was undoubtedly very cool at the time. 

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Conversations With Other Half - Round IV: Rocky vs Drago‏

Last night, Other Half decided to go to bed early. I'd followed her into the bedroom to find something, although once I was there I couldn't remember what it was I was looking for, so instead I stumbled around aimlessly for a few minutes, picking things up and then putting them back down in slightly different positions. This, I now understand, may be construed as annoying when someone is trying to get into a sleep-ready state.

Other Half: You know what you haven't done yet?

Me: What?

Other Half: Played with your otter bath toy.

Me: Oh yeah! That's because I haven't had a bath since we've moved in, only showers. I'll have one tomorrow. Let the fun begin!

Other Half: (looking at me oddly) You can't.

Me: Why not?

Other Half: Because there's no plug.

Me: Isn't there?

Other Half: You know, we have had this conversation twice already since moving in. I know you were listening because you responded and even made jokes about how the previous tenants must have stolen it.

Me: (mystified) Did I?

Other Half: You did.

Me: I honestly don't remember a word of this. Are you sure you didn't dream it?

Other Half: (glaring) It was a real conversation. You were perfectly lucid at the time. 

Me: Um...

Other Half: This is so typical! The tiny inside version of you was probably safely tucked inside your brain in a little soundproofed pod, playing Nerdville or reciting Lewis Carroll to yourself or doing something equally bloody geeky, while your zombified carcass talks to me like a normal person! What is WRONG with you? Do you do this all the time?

Me: I....I just don't remember this particular conversation...

Other Half: This is the third time we're having it.

Me: To be fair, we are talking about a plug, which isn't the most exciting thing ever. It certainly won't be going in the Permanent Archives.

Other Half: I don't care!

Me: Fine! Okay? Fine! I'll get the word 'plug' tattooed on my arm, and then I'll remember forever! Who's clever now, huh?

Other Half: (still glaring) ........

Me: (narrowing eyes) ........Touché.

In summary, I'm going to buy a plug. At some point. I'll probably be too busy nerdsploding over some geekery to remember. I can't believe I managed to write a whole post about it. I amaze myself sometimes, and not always in a good way.

Friday, 8 April 2011

The Word Is Not Enough

I tend to be rather a girl when it comes to things like clothes. I believe in having a variety to choose from, especially when it comes to items like jackets or t-shirts, because you never know what kind of occasion might present itself and I always like to be prepared. Other Half tolerates this, sort of, if by tolerating you mean constantly eyeing my wardrobe and making reproachful noises. I do find it very hard to throw things out as you never know when they might come in useful. I tend to rate clothes on a sliding scale, and anything I haven't worn for more than a year and that is dangerously close to becoming "vintage" (by which I mean having more holes than material) has to go. It's only fair to the other clothes.

As you know, I live my life by various sequences, including the Scale of Awesome and Scale of Lame, which can sometimes be time-consuming but is always worthwhile. However, there are many other ways to rate things and sometimes activities may have their own scale. I have one such mental chart for fun. Fun comes in four stages:

1. Frolicking - you're having an okay time.  Perhaps you're enjoying a nice coffee on a sunny afternoon, but the coffee is too milky and you know if you tweet about it later it's going to come off all passive aggressive.
Example @pitandpendulum - Starbucks is meh. Why do I even come here?  #totallywhining

2. Capering. - you're having a pretty good time. Perhaps you've partaken in some food and are enjoying a nice light chat with your friends. You may well tweet about this, depending on how delighted you are. Twitter is full of tiny snapshots of life just like this.
Example @pitandpendulum - Nandos does a decent sauce selection. #omnomnom

3 Cavorting - you're having a damn good time. The banter is flowing, you feel sexy and insightful and funny and all the other things you want people to think you are. You will definitely tweet about this, possibly aimed at people who are, even now, sitting across the table from you, because this is the kind of drunk activity that seems hilarious at the time and you will regret in the morning when you look at your phone and see that you sent 200 tweets in one hour and they were all utterly pointless. Remember, friends don't let friends tweet drunk. It's for the good of everyone.
Example @pitandpendulum - Hey YOU. Yeah, you. You're awesome. No,, dude, I think you're awesome. #wittyhashtag

4. Romping - this is the best most Epic Fun Time in the whole world ever and you will never ever forget the joy of this moment. If you tweet while romping, you're definitely going to overshare but it's probably worthwhile, because whatever is happening is giving you the greatest and happiest feeling you will experience for as long as you live.
Example @pitandpendulum - Someone just paid me a million pounds to make out with Laura Dern! WIN! WIN! WIN! WIN! #greatestdayever
This lets me segue, rather uncomfortably, into made-up words. I segue about as well as I flirt - with awkward, jerking advances that usually end in disaster - but I award myself points for effort and for being tragically self-deprecating for entertainment purposes. Throughout my childhood and even now that I am a fully-fledged (in mind, if not in height) adult, my dad insists on using ridiculous words like "opperchancity". He finds this highly amusing, and so do I for the most part, so I've decided to list some of them here in the hope that eventually one or more will become common in everyday usage. 
Opperchancity - (noun) An opportunity which you only have moments to grasp before it is gone forever.
Used in a sentence: "John knew that buying the beige Volvo with the wooden side panels was an opperchancity he'd be mad to pass up"
Excribe - (verb) Best used when none of the words you know are enough to describe something properly; when mere words do not encompass the magic of a moment.
Used in a sentence: "The feeling I got when I saw that double rainbow... I just can't excribe the joy I felt."

Stample - (verb) To trample while moving in a swift stampeding motion.
Used in a sentence: "The panicked crowd stampled over the grass like a herd of wilderbeest, crushing everything in their path."
Procrasturbating - (verb) To meander around on the internet with no purpose
Used in a sentence: "Dude, I was procrasturbating last night and look what I found! Pictures of kittens in hats!"

If you have word suggestions you'd like to contribute, let me know. I'm totally open to new opperchancities.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Second Star From The Right, And Then Left At The Next Roundabout

Scotland is a interesting country, to say the least. People all around the world are able to name the classic stereotypes – kilts, tartans, William Wallace, delicious shortbread, bagpipes and so on (Kevin Bridges, an excellent Scottish comedian, one made the point that bagpipes breach the final gap between music and noise, and he was entirely correct) and yet few people outside of Europe could identify us on a map. I am rather geographically challenged myself, so I'm not judging - up until I was about 14, I thought that Canada was under America. Sad fact. However, as I do live in Scotland, and am in fact descended from one of the original clans, I often feel that I should be more proud of my roots.

This is not the easiest thing in the world. Scotland tends not to be very good at much. We can't drink like the Irish (although we do try our best), our accent isn't as pleasing as the Welsh and don't even get us started on the English - we still vaguely hate them for a few wars hundreds of years ago even though no ordinary Scot these days can remember anything apart from how inexplicably annoyed we still are about it, and more recently because they tend to routinely beat us in every sport ever invented and then brag about it, which is frankly just humiliating. We bring it on ourselves, really, as we have recently been named the Fattest Country In Europe. No wonder we're not winning any sports. We're too busy eating all that shortbread.

There are of course good points to be made about Scotland. Music-wise we have the Proclaimers, Texas, Colin Macintyre, Sheena Easton and Garbage to be proud of, all of whom should be celebrated much more, in my opinion. You could of course add SuBo into that mix if you so wish, although I think I'd rather you didn't. We have produced many famous and respected actors, such as Sean Connery, David Tennant and Maggie Smith. In addition, such important historical figures as John Logie Baird - inventor of the television, Alexander Graham Bell - inventor of the telephone, and of course Alexander Fleming who (albeit accidentally) discovered penicillin, were all Scottish, as were the novelist J.M. Barrie (responsible for the classic Peter Pan) and of course the esteemed poet Robert Burns.

Now, as everyone knows, the national food of Scotland (no, it's not deep fried Mars bars, although I admit we do like to test the boundaries of human taste endurance and I have it on good authority that almost everything can be deep fried, except lettuce) is the haggis. Hunting a haggis is a difficult procedure, and one that requires some care, which is why the carcass is considered such a delicacy. They are small creatures, with four stumpy legs, short curly red fur and beady feral eyes. If you can, imagine the offspring of a fox and a sheep, (which, despite having some serious identity issues and possibly an affinity with fairytales,  might be rather cute) and you're halfway there. They tend to live in the highlands of Scotland, although their territories have been shrinking due to human habitation and some have even been known to venture into towns to rummage for garbage scraps. If you're planning to hunt any haggis (or plural, haggi) do take care. They may be small, but they can be quite vicious when cornered and a bite could potentially transfer rabies, pinkeye or a deep and unrelenting sense of foolishness. You have been warned.

The Scottish dialect (some might argue that it is a language in its own right) is an intriguing creature. Examples of phrases that might be useful on your travels in our wonderful, rain-drenched country are as follows:

Come ben – Please follow me into this room
Ah dinnae ken - I don't know
That's ganting – That's disgusting
Nice bunnet, barra – What a lovely hat, my friend
Awa' and boil yer heid – You have offended me. Please leave.
Listen, pal, ah'm no caring - While what you've said is a fine argument, I'm not convinced

There are a great many inflections which you must beware of. For instance, the word “pal” if used in a friendly, light tone, is welcoming and comforting, but someone referring to you as “pal” after you've, say, accidentally spilt a full pint down their back, should be your first and only indication that you're about to experience a Glasgow Kiss, which despite sounding rather nice is anything but.

I hope you've learned something new today from this post. Remember, with great knowledge, comes great fun. Actually, with great power comes great fun too (that's one of my many mottoes - I'm not a huge fan of all this moral responsibility talk but I am entirely in favour of fun). I hope the wait was worthwhile.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Innocent Until Proven Otterwise

I was a very honest child, although I was not always believed, which is why the following memory sticks out in my mind. One day my mum called me into the kitchen.

Mum: Otternator, do you have anything to tell me?

Me: (staring blankly) Like what?

Mum: Anything? Maybe something to do with something being broken?

Me: (still staring blankly) No.

Mum: Are you sure?

Me: (starting to doubt my own innocence) Yes?

Mum produced a swan ornament with a now broken wing. It was a spectacularly ugly Ladro (which she collected obsessively for decades) and the overall look of our living room would have been massively improved had we piled them all in a cupboard and locked the door forever. However, regardless of how much I was against the aesthetic appeal, I definitely wasn't responsible for the broken wing.

Mum: Did you do this?

Me: No!

Mum: (sighing) Otternator. Just tell me the truth. Were you, I don't know, roughhousing with one of your friends or something?

We looked at each other. I was about 8 and a gentle breeze could have carried me away like Mary Poppins. I've never been built to roughhouse with anyone. Maybe a spaniel, if it was quite a small spaniel. It would still probably win.

Me: (firmly) No.

Mum: Okay, well. You're grounded.

Me: What?! But I just told you I didn't break it!

Mum: You obviously did, and now you're lying about it, which is worse. Go to your room.

Me: Your evidence is circumstantial at best.

Mum: GO!

I went to my room, closed the door quietly (I wasn't much of a slammer, feeling even at such a young age that slamming was rather undignified) and picked up a book. My dad came home about an hour later and found my mum in the kitchen trying to glue the wing back onto the swan.

Dad: Hi honey.

Mum: Your daughter broke my swan!

Dad: How come she's mine when she does something that you don't like?

Mum glared.

Dad: ...Okay. I meant to tell you sooner. I broke the swan.

Mum: You?! ...Oh. Oh, damn. How?

Dad: (embarrassed) I...I was...practising with my 9 iron in the living room...

Mum: Oh for god's sake. I've just grounded Otternator. 

Dad: Oh. Right. Er... sorry about that.

They both  apologised profusely, which did little to appease my sense of tragic injustice. It also made me wonder what normal person tries out a new golf club in a room full of expensive figurines that his wife dearly loves. Then I realised that my parents are horrifically, beautifully, perfect for each other. They are both crazy.