Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Where are all the Sugar Puffs gone?

Between the university and my apartment there are four convenience stores. This evening, none of them had Sugar Puffs. This includes the brand spanking new Tesco Express, which has four different types of vinegar in stock. Four different types of vinegar, but not one type of Sugar Puffs. The petrol station shop just the far side of my apartment also has no Sugar Puffs. Nor does the regular Tesco supermarket. The brand new super giant hyper Tesco-saurus had them at the weekend, but that’s a good 12 kilometers away. Is that your game Tesco? Buy up all the Sugar Puffs, and use them to lure me out to your new meganormous store, in the hope that while there, and high on the relief of finding Sugar Puffs, that I’ll buy a giant 80inch HDTV, and some cheap t-shirts, and a food blender? Well it won’t work!! Bastards!

I had only just last week rediscovered the joys of Sugar Puffs. Winter has set in, I’m back at college, and expected to work, and I decided to break a months long stint of Alpen puritanism and bring a bit of sugary joy to my breakfast. Sugar Puffs were perfect; like Rice Krispies, they’re mostly made up of air, but they have just enough sugary deliciousness, without slipping into sickening over-sweet territory. I had to buy Crunchie Nut Corn Flakes this evening as a replacement. Now, don’t get me wrong, Crunchie Nut Corn Flakes are grand; even nice, but they are no Sugar Puffs. They’re too damned heavy, for one thing. You’d only ever manage to eat at least two bowls in a sitting; possibly three, if you were working on an empty stomach. You’d certainly not manage four. Sugar Puffs though? You could eat a box if you wanted! And frankly, right now, I would want. Kelloggs, when they made their version of Sugar Puffs. called them Smacks, and I really can’t believe that the similarity with the slang name for a popular addictive drug is a coincidence. I want my Sugar Puffs and somebody, probably Tesco, is stopping me. It’s time to shit things up...

Friday, November 12, 2010

I'm not even good at basketball...

I’m a tall man; not excessively tall, but nicely tall. I’m the kind of tall Goldilocks would want, if she was looking for tall; tall enough to reach things from high shelves, but not so tall that a circus owner is going to try to dress me in a leopard skin loin cloth and call me Gigantosaur, The World’s Tallest Man from the Jungles of Darkest Africa (which is a relief not least because I think the phrase “Darkest Africa” may well be quite quite racist). “Wow!” you’re no doubt thinking to yourself right now, “how lucky Silas is! I wish I were nicely tall! It’d make going to gigs far more enjoyable, not being stuck standing behind some burly fellow I can’t see around or over!” Ah, my dear diminutive reader, if only things were always so rosy in the land of the over sized. For one thing, we of above average height can almost never fit comfortably in bus seats. Also, the bitterness of the wee folk at their unlucky genetics is often directed unfairly at those of us who tower above them. On more than one occasion, I have been angrily berated, kicked in the shin, and even bitten on the knees by a wee folk, simply because they couldn’t be bothered to arrive early enough at a concert to get a spot at the front, and felt that I had somehow personally wronged them. Good grief, wee folk! If you will insist on being tardy to a concert, bring a step ladder! To fail to prepare is to prepare to fail!

A thought occurs though, and be warned that if you continue to read this paragraph, your mind may be completely blown, and you may find yourself trippin’ balls: Ok, people come in different sizes, fairly obvious and simple. Clothes and shoes also come in different sizes, so as to fit the different sized people; still all making sense? But garments of different sizes are all sold at the same price, even though the bigger sizes require more material, and so should be more expensive to make. Smaller sized garments are so more expensive per unit of material. Thus, when the wee folk buy clothes, they are, to a degree, subsidising myself and my tall brethren’s clothes buying! If I were to buy a shirt, and a wee fellow were to buy a matching shirt (as trend setter and style icon, I have this happen more often than you might think), his comparatively higher purchase price is helping to subsidise my comparatively lower price! He’s buying some of my shirt for me! HOLY CRAP! Remember my warning at the start of this paragraph? Yeah! I told you!

Now, no doubt some wee folk are going to get all up in my shins about how this is just proof that us brobdingnagians do indeed have it easier, but think about it; this isn’t just some accident of fate or genetics. This is something that’s put into practice by businesses right across society, with zero complaint. Obviously, this is society’s way of recognising the inherent hardships being tall and the inherent easiness of life for the wee folk, and attempting, in some small way, to compensate for this hideous imbalance. The system may not be perfect, but sometimes it does work. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I wonder...

...who first said that if you steal from one author it's plagiarism. If you steal from many, it's research. I'd like to properly credit and reference them.

Monday, October 18, 2010

All I wanted was somewhere to put my desk-top zen garden... *

“I am pleased to inform you that you have been allocated a desk in [REDACTED] for the coming year. “

I’m a PhD student, returning after taking a leave of absence last academic year. Leave of absence is fancy post grad talk for year off. It makes your research sound important, and serious; it’s not something you can just take a year off from, you have to be granted a leave of absence, like a nuclear submarine commander. The next step up would be to take a sabbatical. A sabbatical sounds REALLY cool, like you’re not just going to be dossing for the year, watching Hollyoaks and Countdown, you’re taking a break from your highly important research to do something equally important, and also creative. You’re probably going to write a novel, or do an exhibition at the Tate Modern or some such. You won’t live for weeks at a time on Sugar Puffs, because you’re too engrossed pretending to be a cowboy on your Megadrive (or whatever Sega’s console is called these days) to go to the shops. You’ll probably put on pants every day! They don’t just hand out sabbaticals willy-nilly, and certainly not to mere post grads!

As I say, I’m now back in university, although trying to convince the various offices and departments around the university of this is no cakewalk, believe you me. This is because universities are not, despite what you may believe, primarily concerned with teaching and education, but with bureaucracy. Oh doubtless, there’s some teaching that goes on there, but this is mainly an excuse to lure people in, so that they can be forced to fill in a variety of forms (possibly in triplicate) and then get them signed by the appropriate administrator, before returning them to a different administrator, both of whom work in different buildings and on different days, and who you have to queue for about 14 hours to get to see. And even then your form will likely be rejected, because you didn’t write in block capitals, or used blue ink instead of black, or black ink instead of red, or red ink instead of invisible.

So,under the circumstances,  I am inclined to view getting a desk six weeks after the start of the term as something of a minor victory. There is however, one minor snag; I can’t get into the room where my desk is without my id card, and I haven’t managed to acquire an id card yet.  SO, I’m stuck working in the library. The smelly, sweaty, over-heated library, full of chattering, whispering undergrads, all of whom look either bored to death, or terrified of the books they have in front of them.  It’s enough to make one want to go on sabbatical...


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Hobby of Mine:

Reading online spoilers of tv shows, and then pretending to people I'm eerily good at guessing how script writers think.
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.0

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Not not moving, the other kind.

I love shopping for stationery. It’s like a hobby for me. No, more than a hobby, it’s like a drug. If I were the masses, then my opiate wouldn’t be religion, buying stationery would. Or perhaps buying stationery would be my religion, and each week I’d go to the stationery shop temple, and worship at their check-out counter alter, receiving the Eucharist of a new pen or note book. I certainly doubt that I would cast off buying stationery, overcome my false consciousness, rise up and over throw my bourgeois oppressors. That’s how much I like buying stationery; it’s more important to me than placing the means of economic production into collective ownership.

Part of the reason for my love of stationery shopping is my fastidiousness about pens. I am left-handed, and like many of my sinister brethren I am prone to dragging my hand along the paper after the nib of my pen as I write. Thus, any pen I use must not have even the slightest tendency to smudge, lest my sweaty, clawed hand smears whatever heartfelt poetry I’m writing into an incomprehensible mush. Truly, left handedness is a heavy burden indeed.

I also love the thrill of starting a new notebook. Opening the cover to that first fresh blank page is like arriving in a foreign city for the first time; full of possibilities for adventure, and excitement, and romance, and fun. If notebooks were young women, then I would be a premiership footballer; smitten at first, buying the girl drinks in the nightclub, and bringing her back to my penthouse apartment, showering her with gifts in the first few weeks we know each other. But, as time passes, I get somewhat bored, and my head is turned by other women, possibly with nicer leather covers, or better quality pages, or perhaps even one of those little ribbon book marks. I have a desk drawer full of various notebooks of all different shapes and styles and sizes that I have started to fill with some creative project or other, before finding a newer, more exciting, different note book. I am a notebook man-slut.

At least you can’t catch herpes from a notebook...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Once Upon A Time

The other evening, I went to the first class of my new course in story telling. As part of the initial breaking-the-ice, getting-to-know-each-other, embarrassing-the-hell-out-of-each-other exercises, the teacher asked us all for our reasons for wanting to do the course. I was bewildered! What could I say? Could I tell her that I am a compulsive yarn spinner, and hoped to gain new skills to make my tall tales more convincing?  Certainly, I could not tell her my real reason for being there; I could not tell her that, as predicted by the ancient Mayans, our modern civilisation, with all it’s technological wonders,  will not survive beyond 2012, and humanity will be thrust into a new dark age; that being physically unfit, lazy and inept at most manual labour I am resigned to being unable to make a living off the land, and instead plan to make my way as a travelling bard, earning my keep and food bringing some tiny sliver of happiness to the broken and oppressed people with my tales of the Before Time, with its magical horseless carriages, and moving picture boxes. I couldn’t tell her that I plan to adapt my blogging skills into story telling skills, to fit the hellish dystopian future we face, where the closest thing to the internet will be the spoken word.

I told her I wanted to try something new. It seemed kinder. She’ll learn, soon enough...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Your Country Needs You

An American I know reckons that their country is amazing because they have a black president. I countered that we have a woman president. It has been decided that the title of World's Best Country will be awarded to the first country to elect a black lesbian Jewish disabled president. We have a presidential election next year. This is a race we must not lose.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Riding the Rails

In the old days, hobos would communicate with each other using a secret language of codes and symbols that they would draw or etch on gate posts, walls, pavements or the like. These symbols would alert fellow hobos to things such as good places to sleep, generous householders, available work and so on, as well as warning of dangers such as unfriendly men, vicious dogs and other perils to be avoided. They say that the hobos had a symbol for pretty much everything, and any situation. One thing they never had a symbol for, however, was a crazed surgeon looking for victims to stitch together into a human centipede. With hindsight, we can now see that this was a disastrous omission.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Thoughts on head gear

Kangaroo skin bushman's hat
Practical uses: riding a horse across the outback,
while being chased by the law

I have a surprisingly large collection of hats. I say surprisingly because, to be frank, I don’t wear a hat all that often. I feel that I should just clarify that when I talk about hats here, I don’t mean wooly beanie style caps, although I have about half a dozen of these. In contemporary society, these barely count as hats at all, and are not governed by the standard rules of hat wearing. I’m talking about more formal, traditional hats, with brims and the like.

Fedora pic
Practical uses: Playing at being on Mad Men

I’m not quite sure how I’ve managed to end up with so many hats. It’s certainly not because I spend hours trawling haberdashers for exciting trilbies or pork pies; As I say, I seldom wear a hat, and this, combined with my stereotypically male aversion for any form of clothes shopping would not be conducive to building up a collection of hats. Plus, I have an unusually large head, which would make buying hats, even if I were so inclined to do so, quite difficult. It is, I feel,  important to stress the largeness of my head; many people question me when I assert this in conversation, so it may not appear obviously so, but still, my skull is an above average size. Certainly, any hat that is intended for my head will need an L and at least one X if not more on its size label. It’s a strange but true fact that I have had arguments with people trying to tell me that my head could not possibly be as large as I claim it to be. It is.*

Official Discovery Channel Steve Irwin hat 
Practical Uses: Irritating dangerous animals

Certainly, several have my hats have been gifted to me. This however raises more questions. Why do people think that a hat is a suitable gift for me? Do my friends and loved ones see me as the type of person who wears a hat? What does this say about how they see me? Wearing a hat these days (again, we are not counting beanies, which play by their own rules) makes a very deliberate statement about how one wants to be seen. Generally, the type of man who wears a hat is someone who wants to be regarded as eccentric, left field, kooky, and possibly even zany. I like to call these people hat twats. Most of them describe their hat wearing as ironic, showing that they are also the type of people who use words without knowing their correct meaning. Is this the way those around me see me? I’ll confess that I certainly dabbled with being zany in my youth, but I was reckless and misguided, and have spent nearly a decade attempting to make up for it. I do often talk about doing things ironically, but I only do so in an ironic fashion, playfully highlighting the fact that I understand what ironic means. Does nobody in my life actually get me at all?

Straw Stetson
Practical uses: Looking awesome at music festivals

The sad fact is that I would quite like to wear a hat, not to be ironic or kooky, but because I think they look well. I think it is a shame that hats for men have fallen out of fashion to such a degree. And yet, I am paralysed with fear that were I to wear a hat, passers-by would prejudge me as a hat twat ironic hipster zany douche. At the same time, hats will never fall back into fashion unless non-asshole men take to wearing them. It’s a vicious paradox, what philosophers call the Hat-wearer’s dilemma, I can see no way out of it. I’m just not sure that I am brave enough to be the hat wearing pioneer that the situation calls for.

Traditional Omani hat
Practical uses: ???

*I was thinking of making a joke about how I’m also big headed int he arrogant sense, but really, I think I’m better than that.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"Cl"... or maybe "ap"...

I’ve been reading an awful lot lately* about Buddhism. Frankly, I wish I had done it sooner; I find the general Buddhist approach towards the world, in particular its rejection of materialism as a means of promoting happiness, to be very appealing. I only wish that I had discovered it a few months ago, before moving house. Regarding the desire to acquire and retain material possessions as a cause of unhappiness would have made the labourious process of packing up all my stuff, loading it into my car, and unpacking it in my new apartment much less arduous. Although, perhaps I would have been inclined to reject my car along with most of my other material possessions, and so would have to carry the few that I had left on foot. Would that have worked out as more effort than moving many belongings by car? Hmm... Perhaps I need to study Buddhism some more...

One thing I do know about Buddhism is that it seems to be a popular religion for smug, self-satisfied know-it-alls. It seems to have an abundance of stories such as the one about a man who climbs some crazy big mountain to visit a Buddhist master (they always seem to live up mountains for some reason) and asks how long it will take him to achieve enlightenment, if he tries really, really hard. The master looks at him and says ten years. The man, understandably thinking that this sounds a bit much, says no, what if he REALLY dedicates himself to achieving enlightenment and tries super hard. The master thinks for a minute and then says in that case 20 years. The man is frustrated, and says what if he puts aside EVERYTHING else in his life, and dedicates himself solely to reaching enlightenment? Now, at this point in the story, it becomes quite clear to us, the readers, (if it hasn’t already) that the master’s point is that struggling towards enlightenment like this is never going to succeed; and sure enough the master tells the man with a small grin that in that case, 30 years. My question is, why? Why does he have to be so smug about it, smiling to himself and making his smarmy little pronouncements and generally acting like king of the fucking hill? He’s supposed to be some kind of enlightened jedi-type big shot! Being a prick is not my idea of enlightened! Why go out of your way to piss the poor man off? He came to you, climbing al the way up this bloody mountain, for help! Why not just say; “Look, struggling towards enlightenment like that is the wrong approach. If you deliberately try to become enlightened, you never will. Just let it happen.” But no. He has to be smug and smile, and spout some bull shit about the sound of one hand clapping in a forest, and trick the poor schmuck into waxing his car; a car he SHOULDN’T EVEN HAVE BECAUSE IT’S A MATERIAL POSSESSION!

Buddhists are assholes.

* Many books... A few books... One book... A small book... With the word “simple” in the title...

Thursday, July 1, 2010


I'm a unique snow flake...

Chapter One: Believing in your own worth, you disgusting puddle of hobo-cum

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Modern palmists do not believe that a future marriage, in the sense of a legal union, can be foretold by scanning hands-nor can the number of children you’ll have be determined. Marriage is an institution established by the church and state-it is not the sole form of love or deep emotional commitment that can come into people’s lives. For this reason, the lines that were once referred to as Marriage Lines are now called Affection Lines.”

(Fairchild, Dennis. Palm Reading: A Little Guide to Life’s Secrets)

Ha! Stupid, olden-day palmists! Imagine thinking that you could predict a legal union or the number of children someone will have just by looking at their hands! I’m glad that the science of palmistry is able to move and progress along with the continuing development of human knowledge and our understanding and is still able to remain relevant today.

When one or more of your Affection Lines is deeply etched, you’re capable of strong, sincere affection, and lasting friendship.

(Fairchild, Dennis. Palm Reading: A Little Guide to Life’s Secrets)

Hey! One of my Affection Lines is deeply etched! And I’m capable of strong sincere affection! AND of lasting friendship! Holy shit, this stuff is spooky! I can’t believe I ever thought phrenology was more scientific! I must have been such a chump!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Writer's Tools

On my desk, beside me, as I write this, I have a bottle of whiskey. It’s not my whiskey, it was brought over by a friend, when we were having an evening of drinking whiskey and listening to jazz records. In fact, I don’t even drink whiskey, so when we were drinking whiskey and listening to jazz records, I was instead drinking beer. A bottle of whiskey on one’s desk however, strikes me as a rather writer-like thing to have, and so I have left the whiskey there. A man with whiskey on his desk is obviously a tortured soul, full of heart breaking wisdom about the beauty and cruelty and emptiness of joy of our world.

I also have beside me my corn-cob pipe, and a packet of Mellow Virginia tobacco. I only ever smoke when exceedingly drunk, and would never have thought of having a pipe if I had not been given one, but a good pipe is another wonderful tool in the writer’s arsenal (or perhaps weapon in their tool box); not so much for the act of writing itself, but when talking, perhaps when doing a public reading, or interview of some type. One can puff thoughtfully on a pipe, when considering a particularly insightful question or comment, demonstrably applying the full force of your intellect to the issue, and then use the pipe to gesticulate or point firmly, adding weight and authority to whatever argument you might be making. It is difficult to win an argument with someone when they wield a pipe against you, a fact that has been forgotten or ignored by most of our modern politicians, to their great loss.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A personal revelation!

It has just struck me as to why I chose the name I chose! I feel like one of those people who discover long repressed memories on American chat shows*, except that I was never touched inappropriately by a fast food company's clown mascot. OR WAS I?!?!?

*or do I mean talk shows? I know that there is a difference, and I even know what that difference is, but for the life of me, I cannot remember which is which.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Toy Story, Lego and Postmodernism

As a grown man, I am not supposed to enjoy playing with toys. I can still get away with buying them, just, but I’m supposed to refer to them as ‘collectables’ and never take them out of their packaging, and even then I’ll likely be looked down on by large portions of society. I, however, am nothing, if not a rebel; constantly cocking a snook at society’s petty rules and mindless mores. I’ll buy myself toys if I want to, and will take them out of the packaging to boot!
Possibly my most favourite toy of all Toy Town, has always been Lego, and possibly my most favourite Lego kit, one which I bought just recently, is the Lego Toy Story Army Men.

Lego Toy Story Army Men

This may be the most postmodern toy ever made; A toy version of a cartoon version of an original toy. When you think about it, (or at least when I think about it), it simply boggles the mind. Life, imitating art, imitating one of the cheapest and most common toys around (at least, army men were incredibly common when I was a nipper. Maybe they’re not now. I know it’s frowned upon to give children toy guns these days. Is it frowned upon to give them plastic men holding plastic guns?). The postmodern interest in difference, separation, textuality, skepticism (thank you wikipedia) seems to be totally summed up in these small green plastic men. They are a representation of a representation of a representation of real soldiers. That’s four levels of abstraction from reality; further from reality than Peter Andre(POP CULTURE REFERENCE!).
What’s more, the Lego iteration of the army men are, in fact, a far more versatile toy than the original version that they represent. The classic plastic army men come in a variety of different poses, some waving plastic metal detectors, some lying on the ground, some kneeling by their little plastic mortars, but they are resolutely not posable Posability is a very big thing for collectables it seems. Toys aimed at adults often appear to make a huge deal about how many points of articulation they have. The classic army men have no points of articulation. Their Lego counterparts on the other hand, have many points of articulation, as well as interchangeable accessories, removable bases, and the ability to be disassembled, and combined with other Lego elements.
A Lego army man with a skull instead of a head

A Lego army man with a skull instead of a head
Thus the representation of the original toy is a more versatile, and thus arguably better, toy! This, on one level, strikes me as counter-intuitive. Seeing a photograph of the Grand Canyon is unlikely to be described by many as being better than being at the Grand Canyon. Toy Story Lego Army Men turn our notions of the genuine and the imitation on their head, with the copy being more genuine than the original.
The idea of toys based on the Toy Story movies raises interesting post modern questions in itself. The first Toy Story movie deals with Buzz Lightyear’s identity crisis and sudden loss of ontological security, as he is forced to come to terms with the fact that he is not an intergalactic space ranger, working for Star Command, but is, in fact, an action figure representation of a space ranger.* Buzz is shaken to the very core of his being, as everything he thinks he knows about himself is undermined, and the film chronicles his coming to terms with who and what he is. But if the Toy Story conception of toys being alive were true (and who is to say it isn’t?) what would the toys based on the movie think themselves to be? Would a Lego Buzz Lightyear think himself to be an actual Space Ranger? Or would he believe himself to be the Buzz Lightyear of the movie, wondering where were his compatriots from Andy’s bedroom were, and why he seemed to be made of interconnected but removable pieces? What would it do to one’s sanity to be forced to realise that one were not a Space Ranger charged with stopping the Emperor Zurg, nor even an action figure based on the cartoon adventures of such a character, but was in fact a toy of a cartoon of a toy version of such a cartoon? I think it would shatter his sanity completely, possibly leading him to embark on a vengeful killing spree. So, if I ever own a Lego Buzz Lightyear, I’ll be keeping him locked somewhere very safe when I’m sleeping...
Lego army men fighting a pirate riding on a giant robot crab

Lego army men fighting a pirate riding on a giant robot crab

*An interesting point, for me anyway, is how the different toys all seem to have different conceptions of what they are. Buzz believes himself to be the fictional cartoon character that he is based on. Woody on the other hand, knows himself to be a toy, and seems in fact to be completely unaware of the TV show he is based on. The other toys all seem to lie somewhere between these two poles; for example the army men seem fully aware of their toy status, yet act in a stereotypically militaristic manner.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A job I'd like to have:

Coming up with the names for men's deodorants. Tiger Smoke. Sex Punch. Loin Elixir.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I still believe in romance

This Valentine's Day, I'm going to buy a ring (a cheap one, not a permanent engagement ring, just something to have when popping the question), I'm going to book a table for two in a swanky restaurant, put on my best suit, buy a bunch of roses, and when I get to the restaurant, I'm going to give the ring to the waitress to bring out in a glass of champagne with dessert. Then, I'm going to sit there, eating bread rolls and looking gradually more and more nervous as my date never arrives. I might try to ring her a few times, but I won't get through. Eventually, I'll read a text message on my phone and will look completely crushed, as my true love has dumped me, via text, on Valentine's Day, as I waited to propose to her. If this doesn't get me pity sex from one of the waitresses, nothing will!