Thursday, February 28, 2008

Un-predictive texts


In a week of fortune telling in general, I now want to move on to the loosely related but only for semi-interesting opening line purposes, subject of predictive text on mobile phones.

You will all know, as fervent readers and hangers on my every utterance, that I like to style myself as a defender of the faith when it comes to punctuation and spelling in general. 'Conan the Grammarian' is what Susan would call me, if she didn't call herself that first, and I think it's a great name, one I'd like even more if I'd had the wit to come up with myself.

Anyway, my Sony Ericsson K800i is really getting up my nose. (I have a big nose). I always use proper English when texting, as in absolutely no abbreviations or txt lnguge bollocks allowed, because I consider this intentional mispelling to be a creeping, stealthy assault on written expression. And when my slang-happy and dumbed-down grandkids are earnestly asking me how to spell FBI and where the '8' goes in 'great,' I want to look them in the eye and know I had nothing to do with it.

The Sony is a grand phone, now, don't get me wrong. It takes good pictures and I like this because it lets me take casual or incidental photos of people without looking like I deliberately bring a camera about with me for the purpose, because where I come from, this would mean you've got 'ooooooooooh creative' leanings and are, ergo, a closet homosexual. It also has a good interface, and there's nothing wrong with its outerface either. The menu is natcherl and inchewative. It comes with blue teeth and Infored and a port for landing US bees at. I like this phone in many ways.

But then we come to the texting bit. The predictive text is...well...it's a pain in the hole. I'm staggered that the person who designed it programmed the phone to do the stupid and annoying things it does. Fr'instance (I'm sorry about the poetic licensing today, I've been reading Huckleberry Finn and the dialects have gotten to me), when you try to type "I've" it gives you "H've" instead. So you have to go back and manually change the haitch to an I. Like who the fuck ever says "H've?"

Then, when you try to type "to", surely one of the most used words in texts, ever, it gives you "un" instead, surely one of the most unused. So you have to manually back scroll and change it, or remember when inputting it that the phone's a feckin' eejit and do it as you go, which I never remember to do. It also gives you "in" instead of "go", "me" instead of "of", or verse vicey, but always gives you the one you don't want.

Worst of all is "ye" instead of "we," that one makes steam come out of my ears. I spend more time correcting the mistakes because of the foibles of this phone than actually writing the texts themselves.

On top of all this distress though, (and this is the real killer, wait till ye hear this), I had toiled for months inputting and saving a doughty corpus of colourful profanities which I usually employ during Liverpool games, allowing my flashing digits to bash out such nuggets as "Dirk Kuyt is a fucking shitey geebag full of a bag of his own shite. Shite!" in jig time. But of late, the phone has come over all piousy and Mary Whitehouse, and has taken to secretly dumping the whole lot of my carefully crafted cuss words so I have to start all over again. Grrrrr.

There's lots more examples of how the phone picks the stupidest option when you're composing a text but infuriatingly, I can't remember them now even though I've just spent 10 minutes messing about with the text and I still can't find them. Typical.

I'm seriously considering getting a new phone simply because of this textual intercourse problem. It's driving me potty.

And five points to whoever spots the pun somewhere in this post...
Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The future's bright...

It's an eventful half-hour in which you find out that you're going to be getting married in 2009, will later have two kids (a boy and a child), will move house in the next six months and get a dog, be offered a new job in May, have a book published (but not a novel. Sob) and finally, to cap it all off, will script write, star in and direct your own film/comedy series. Jumpin' Jeebus, I haven't had to assimilate so much info since the night before the Business Org. exam in the leaving, and I fucked that up too.

But I want to get something clear before I go on - and I know I do tend to go on - I'm not a fuckwit. There are many reading this who will think that fuckwits who go to fortune tellers are, as it says on their tin, fuckwits. I am alot of things but fuckwit is not one of them.

That said, I did go to a fortune teller at the weekend. Like a proper fuckwit. What can I say, I like to try out new experiences for the craic and a friend of mine told me this particular tarot reader was good. It's just a rite of passage type thing I wanted to cross off the list of life experiences, like smoking, having my first pint, my first kiss (in that order, I'm Irish) and also, learning to crack walnuts between the cheeks of my arse.

I wouldn't class myself as especially spiritual or anything; a spiritual awakening to me generally means a dozy jolting to life shortly after Communion is over. Nor do I run about in a purple cape tripping across my crystal balls and wondering if my tantric chakras are properly aligned with the equinal aspect of the sun in Aries. But hey, I was curious and my mind is a sieve. I mean sewer. Feck it to hell, I meant to say sponge. Ah whatever, fuck off Freud.

Back at the tent, it didn't get off to a great start as my mystic was running slightly late, reminiscent of the clairvoyant that had to close due to unforeseen circumstances, I mused. Anyway, I entertained myself during my wait by counting the intervals between passing ambulances outside and by browsing through the trays of spangly jewellery, mystic runes, incense candles, spell books, mood rings and magical stones. It was like being in a hardware shop in Cavan, (where every man has magical stones), only I couldn't get a pint and there were no coffins out the back.

Herself eventually emerged from her little booth at the back of the shop some time later, disappointingly not through a veil of click-clackety beads or in a cloud of smoke, and ushered me in, disappointingly not with a warty crooked finger with pointy claws. She looked the part in other ways though. She had a big swishy power-overcoat on, upturned collar and all the way down to her ankles, dark panda-effect makeup on her huge eyes and what I'd call 'suitable' jewellery - in that it was fucking ridiculous shit that nobody other than a fortune teller would wear. It was the sort of stuff Jimmy Saville threw out in the 70s, before the BBC found it again and gave it to Pat Butcher.

I liked her hair though. Very dark, well kept and nicely groomed, you know, like a big horse. I can't stand soothsayers with deliberately 'mad' hair, looking all loopy like Kate Bush on a bad hair day or Einstein, who just had bad hair every day.

Anyway, I was mystically enlightened over the next half hour. In that my wallet was enlightened by about 50 euro. I have to say I didn't go in there with grandiose expectations but that said, still wasn't terribly impressed overall. There was some insights she tumbled to unprompted (she knew I was into the gym and stuff) but in looking back, alot of the stuff she did say that seemed to make any sense was probably only accurate because I'd revealed something earlier and she was building on that. Or then again, maybe nobody, not even the sharpest occult mind, can penetrate the multi-layered labyrinthine halls of the layered chambers of Terence McDanger's fantastic personality onion behind the mask.

She certainly didn't do as well as she did for my friend, but there were a few things she got right though.

Such as, near the end, she told me that she could see I was into reading and writing, but especially liked humour and wacky stuff. "In fact," she giggled, "I think you'll probably soon write something taking the piss out of fortune tellers."

Er....
Thursday, February 21, 2008

Vera Duckworth - an appreciation


I should have written this weeks ago, but just like Legoland the Elf felt when Gandalf Mithrandir Stormcrow the Grey-White was swallowed up by Moria's fiery hole, the grief was just too near for me. (Moria being a mine for dwarves, not a lady called Moria.)

As I mentioned previously, it's all down to the sad passing of Corn Nation Street icon Vera Duckegg - seamstress, bingo-goer, fishwife, gobby cow, pub landlady, rasher-frier, mother to an ungreateful Terry, wife to a henpecked Jack. She will be missed by all, particularly viewers who were hard of hearing and could seldom make out what anyone else was saying.

Like Sally Fletcher, I grew up with Vera Duckegg. But whereas Sally was like the little sister I never had, Vera was like the battleaxe my mother never was. She was part of a proud Corn Nation Street tradition of brassy lady characters with a voice like a braying donkey and a fiery temper that would strip the fur off a badger, and she leaves behind a fine apprentice in the hatchet-faced Janice Battersburger who melts aluminium window frames by licking them once with her forked tongue.

For years, Vera worked for Mike Baldwin - also deceased - and it was around this time that I came to know her. Her life back then mainly revolved around getting into trouble at work, getting fired from work, getting re-hired after some grovelling, removing the face and limbs of anyone that looked crooked at her, throwing out Jack's tea when he didn't come home in time for it and making copious use of the words 'cock' and 'tit'.

As in: "Aw-rah cock, I'm going down tit Rovers." Or when angry: "Ere yow, I'm going down tit Rovers! Ta-ra cock."

Vera's life was one of struggle to make ends meet. That and enduring embarrassment at having the initials VD.
On top of poor finances, she also had to put up with having a son nasty called Terry who on top of being a proper bastard and trouble-maker, was strangely swarthy and Italian-looking so was clearly someone else's child as well. Terry's pal was the dim-witted Curly Squats, the son Vera wished she had instead of the one who wasn't hers but she had to tolerate anyway. Curly, who like a black dog called 'Snowball' actually had straight hair, was in the show for seventeen years without doing anything else other than collect bins and play glumly with his telescope in the loft until Terry robbed it and sold it for beer that he drank with the other cocks, down tit Rovers.

It all changed for the better though when the Duckeggs gazumped Elizabeth and her husband Bug Jum McDonald for the licence to run tit Rovers. Bug Jum was a Northern Irish character sympathetically treated by the script writers in that he was an alcoholic womaniser and jailbird who took murderous, temple-bursting rages at the drop of a hat, watched videos of leggy women in stilettos standing on small rodents and who once beat the shit out of himself because there was nobody else around.

The Duckeggs securing the running of tit Rovers brought financial security for the first time in their lives, clearly evidenced by Jack being able to afford glasses that weren't held together with a band aid. However, it all came tumbling down with some dodgy deal or other and Vera and Jack were plunged back into poverty, which suited the script writers perfectly because they hadn't a clue what to do with a Jack and Vera that actually had money.

And lo, the last years of their lives were played out in front of the telly, scrimping and saving as before, taking in another dim-witted lodger called Fermanagh and his dog Harmonica. A tense time for all came when Jack had a heart attack but like all soap characters with coronary difficulties, he ate salad and drank tomato juice down tit Rovers for about a week and then went back to guzzling beer and eating fry-ups with no adverse effects. His failure to win on the horses, even once in 45 years of daily visits to the bookies, never took a toll either.

Over the years, Vera and Jack's sex life was never exactly racy. In fact there was no hint of sexual relations between them at all (giving further credence to doubts over Terry's origins) until an episode in the late 90s when Vera had too much to drink and got amorous with a very reluctant Jack. It was the sort of high comedy that tips Ore Jewleean head-first into a boiling bucket of multiple orgasms, as poor Jack trudged up the stairs for begrudging coitus with his wife, right before the mournful closing credits rolled. This sex session clearly took alot out of them both because it was on their 50th Anniversary some years later that they next attempted to make love, in a garden shed at Fermanagh's allotment, where Jack had taken to going to read the paper in peace while pretending to grow carrots. Alas, not even the prospect of open-air fornication could stir Jack to action, and Vera's back was annoying her as well, so they both decided they were past it and cheerfully agreed that there should never be any affection between them ever again.

This had echoes in their final scene together some weeks ago when a sentimental Vera told Jack she loved him and asked him to say it back, but the gravel-voiced husband, uncomfortable with the dirty rags of intimacy as it were, just ignored her and went down tit Rovers instead. He came back faithfully on time for his tea to find that Vera had seemingly fallen asleep in her chair, and the cold, clammy feel of her hand told him everything he needed to know - either she'd got her arm stuck while stuffing a chicken again, or she had popped her clogs. Subsequent investigation confirmed the latter.

Vera was dead. Ní bheidh a leithéid ann arís.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I'm a handbag racist

I tumbled to the above conclusion in Argos yesterday. I'm a racist.

It's like this. You know how when you're a bloke, right, which I don't expect female readers do, but bear with me, and even though you have a lovely Miaow Cow girlfriend and you love her and wouldn't be unfaithful and all that, you still like to play hypothetical what-if flirtation type games with opposite members of the female sex. In this case, opposite me at the counter in Argos.

This particular blonde that I did espy while heaving through the epic and weighty tome that is the Argos catalogue, well, it's fair to say she ticked all the boxes. Not that I have many boxes, as it were. You see, as I explained to Radge the other week, as I've gotten older, the scope of women I now find attractive has broadened considerably from the 'Must have breasts. Big ones' criteria of my feckless adolescence. Personality, intelligence etc., all that's in the mix now, even good looks are sometimes optional if I'm just plain old bowled over by her in other ways. I was musing out loud on this at lunch in MockTurtles pub, staring off over everyone's heads and issuing forth with self-important bombast:

"Yeah. It's interesting isn't it, how my notions of what's attractive in a lady...have rippled outwards over time, and become, just, more inclusive, you know? I notice myself finding a much wider range of women attractive now, a, you know...(pause for deeply considered thought)...a more varied caste of female.

Everyone hmmed and nodded appreciably.

"No, wait," I said. "I think I'm just more desperate the older I get."

You kinda had to be there. Anyhee, this one in Argos was reasonably pretty. She had a nice figure, was well turned out and had all the right bumps and bends where you'd expect them, which would have been handy, um, if I was a jockey. But I digress. She was really polite and friendly to the sales assistant too, smiled alot. I was impressed, I liked her.

So I went off doing the old "now if I was single, would I or wouldn't I chance my arm here" potentiality algorithms in my head, when the whole process came to a sudden shuddering halt. What was that I saw on her arm? Ewwww. A goddamn D&G handbag. A really loud, brazen screaming one with a massive feck off logo blaring off the side of it, just so everyone could see it and know she had a fashionable handbag.

Huh, I thought. Bang goes her chances of a virtual potentiality moment of hypothetical McDanger love. No matter how nice she otherwise was I just couldn't see past her choice of ostentatious, showy handbag. It's just too much, too unsubtle, too desperately needful of having the world look at her handbag. She was forever and irretrievably damaged in my eyes.

And it dawned on me there and then, I was a handbag racist. Or at the least, a judgemental clown.

It set me thinking of all those others I'd seen but mentally crossed off that list of Oooh-I-like-her-but-of-course-she's-not-to-be-pursued women. Smoking, or more accurately, reeking of smoke is another major turn-off, so is dirty or unkempt hair, but overall, most of them just had a really horrendous handbag. A big bulky yoke festooned with shitty glitter and straps and dreadfully imposing labelling plastered all over it. It's just wrong. I can't really explain my aversion, but I think it's related to being too all-embracing of popular celebrity trends. Am I a total eejit or am I just a handbag racist?

Anyway, I showed you mine, now show me yours.
Thursday, February 14, 2008

Wokka wokka

I bought a new wok a fortnight ago and as my great-grandmother was often heard to remark, it's the fucking bomb altogether.

Myself and woks have, thus far, had an uneasy relationship you see. And let's be honest, if I burned your arse off at least twice a week and hadn't the decency to wipe you down afterwards, the sight of me coming through the door holding the pack of rashers would at least make you wary.

All in all, two 'normal' frying pans and five woks have passed through my kitchen in about four years. And every one of them should have been consigned to the bin alot earlier than they were. Basically, they were all fucked after about two weeks - battered, bruised and encrusted with an unspeakable gunk that defied all efforts at removal.
Now I never understood the whole non-stick frying concept, I have to admit. Out shopping, I'd look at the label and if it said 'non-stick pan' I'd go "ah great, sure I never eat sticks", and I'd skip contentedly off to the till. On this rock of ignorance did a few pans flounder, as I'd scoured the bejesus out of them with a brillo pad before realising I was wearing the protective coating off them. Ooops.

The other problem is that I always bought the cheapest wok I could find. Not out of tightness, just because I reasoned that if you wouldn't give a child the best china to play house with, then I could make do with any old iron with a handle on it. And the cycle thus continued - new wok, crusty wok, wok not working, I fucking hate cooking anyway, I'm buying a deep fat frier, fuck this wok anyway, wok gets thrown out. I had by this stage grasped the whole non-stick concept of course, and was by now trying to clean the things in a gentle but firm fashion. I actually tended those bastards lovingly. In fact, I didn't clean them, I buffed them timidly. I stroked them and caressed them with soft soapy cloths. And the non-stick stayed on, I'm pleased to report. Unfortunately however, so did all the sticky black burnt-on shite. So bye bye wok.

So I was out and about there a fortnight ago, searching through bargain woks, when my eye was taken by this lovely, shiny Ken Hom number. It was graceful, smooth, curvaceous and beautiful. I ran my hand around the inside of the bowl and it was like silk sliding under my skin. I nearly wanted to put it in a wind tunnel and watch satiny wisps of smoke glide across her aerodynimicalistic nicenesses. I could smell the sweet stir-fries we would make together. It was €75. I said what the hell, and I bought her.

It was only the best purchase I ever made. No more faffing about with cheap imitation woks for me. It's really non-stick and you can blacken the hole out of it and it all rinses off in a flash afterwards. Even if you leave it there festering for a few days after use which, as a man, it is my right to do. I do everything with the wok now, just a splash of olive oil and in with the mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, bagels, biscuits, ice-cream, teabags, bananas, the neighbour's hamster, the works. The Ken Hom wok takes it all, baby, and doesn't even blink. I'm going to fry some industrial-strength glue later on and I bet it rinses off with a dab of wash-up liquid and a wipe of a J-cloth.

Hell, sometimes I just heft the fridge up on its side and fry whatever falls out into the Ken Hom. My mother is well impressed with my new found culinary magnificence, she has used the expression "whizz in the kitchen" more than once.

Which one would do well not to interpret literally. Like, I fry almost everything in the Ken Hom, but I draw the line there.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Hello again

Hold the front page! I can now reveal that the blogosphere is flat. I know this because I travelled to the edge about three weeks ago, looked over it, fell off and haven't been seen or heard from since. Those poor cats have been getting interrupted for way too long.

My umbilical sundering from the world of blog was sudden, it was total, it was awful. It's cold and lonesome out here in the wastelands where the tumble weeds blow and you think of good ideas for blogs if you only had the time to write them up or a piece of paper to write them down, before they spin off and get lost in the place with all the other good ideas you've ever had but just didn't have a pen handy at the time.

So ripped was I from my moorings and in such a turmoil of upheaval, I didn't even read a blog, much less get to think about thinking about writing one. I slipped completely and unwittingly out of blog-watch mode, that suspended state of wandering around with senses on full alert, fervently hoping that an interesting topic will drop into your lap so you can dash off a jaunty passage or two for moo-dog and send readership stats over the top and into the tens of tens.

Oh I've been through the fires alright. I've been spending money, at a rate that my boss doesn’t, on re-decorating, re-furnishing, car maintenance and that long-wished for phallic reduction surgery that has me down to a manageable foot and a half now, and finally getting to the jacks at night without tripping myself up over old biggy and smalls.

So much has happened while I've been away that I couldn't get to blog about, most notable of course being the passing of Vera Duckworth on Coronation Street. She went off quietly in the end, most unlike Vera who was a prime candidate for the old 'take a heart attack/choke on one's own chagrin while tearing someone a new arsehole in a fit of rage' exit scenario. She dropped off in her chair in front of the telly, possibly when Eastenders came on and the shock of its unrelenting awfulness killed her. I'll be giving her a send off like Sally Fletcher as soon as I've time.

In other news, Liverpool are still shite, I checked in on them there last Sunday against Chelsea in the hope things have improved from the last time I looked, but nope - still shite. Cavan lost their first league match as well, so no change there either. Elsewhere, Baino threatened to take me off her blogroll, Radge gave out to me for not blogging, and I don't know what's going on with Grandad, Paul, Rosie, Twenty and all the others.

In an interesting development however, the skin on my elbow looks like Mother Teresa every time I take a shower. This, allied with the plastic bag hanging from the electricity cable over my house which looks like a shadowy, ghostly Jesus fluttering in the breeze, is no doubt is a sign from God so I'm expecting the stigmata in the post and will bless you all and heal the world as soon as I get the rubber stamp from the Vatican.

But anyway, reports of my demise were greatly exaggerated. Well, actually, they weren't really. In fact, as far as I'm aware, there wasn't one national headline of the "Dog gone! Moo has barked it" or "Sex god McDanger dead in bed collapse orgy pile-up" variety.

Regardless, I'll be seeing y'all soon I hope.