Thursday, 24 November 2011

An Unsuitable Job for a Cat

I drew this effort some time ago, but it came too soon after this cartoon I did about a blind man, so I decided to wait a bit.

For the record, I do not think disability is funny per se, but blind people can have funny things happen to them just as easily as everybody else. As a partially-sighted person, I can personally attest to this.

I'm not sure what's going on with the minimalist landscape, though (I am: downright laziness - Ed).

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Yeah, because what the internet really needs right now another perishing cat poem.

I really should be doing my NaNoWriMo (nearly 25,000 words in, thanks for asking).

It's actually been quite liberating just writing without stopping every five minutes to go back and edit. I'd reccommend doing NaNo for this reason alone.

The story has changed almost completely out of recognition. My original concept was going to be set in a very small setting with just a few characters. Within just a few paragraphs of starting, it changed to a much large setting and had loads more characters - most of whom are just background to be fair, so don't really figure in the story itself, but they were never meant to be there.

It's also taking much longer simply to type in the words than I expected. If things are flowing, I can get about 2,500 words entered in a stint of a few hours.

It's proving to be a really good exercise in discipline though. If I want to hit the target I have to make my word count each day. End of. I'm not 100% conviced that I am going to make it, but I am going to give it my best shot.

Anyway, back to that cat poem

He is a cat of the edges,
Of High places and ledges,
Of four-clawed defences,
Of walking on fences.

He is all about sneaking,
Of nosing and peeking,
Of staring and thinking,
Of slow languid blinking.

He is of playfully pawing,
Of lightning fast clawing,
Of suddenly chasing,
Of restlessly pacing.

He is of stalking and pouncing,
Of walking and bouncing,
Of stretching and leaping,
Of suddenly sleeping.

He is of dreamily twitching,
Of magic and witching,
Of warning and prowling,
Of warring and yowling.

He is a cat of the edges,
Of High places and ledges,
Of fireside and mat,
Of contradictions, this cat.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

A New Home in the Sky - Reward and Recognition

The latest feel-good initiative to slither out of the murky depths of the last Senior Management Team’s corporate jolly Strategic Workshop is the Applause system.

This is a wizard wheeze where you may nominate a co-worker for some outstanding bit of work, for being extra helpful or for just not screwing up too much this month.

You log into the special dedicated Applause portal and make your nomination, which has to be tied in with one of the company’s core values (leadership, customer service, adding value, ass-kissing, etc.) and you have to write a citation, explaining just why you think Nerdy Unix Guy or Ugly But Surprisingly Competent Incident Manager should receive an award.

You must be as specific as possible.

You must give dates, times, projects, client names, etc.

You have 140 characters.

Now, if by some superhuman act of prĂ©cis (and text-speak is frowned upon) you manage to convey a flavour of your colleague’s incandescent brilliance, a committee of managers will scrutinise your effort and decide if it has merit.

Pulling a dirty great sword out of a stone? Easy-peasy!

Solving the riddle of perpetual motion? Pah!

Explaining why 'I’m a Celebrity' is still on our TV screens? OK, I’ll give you that one, that's inexplicable.

Persuading a group of people whose prime motivation is to keep costs down to give something away for free? Now, that’s hard!

If, by any chance, your Paen to That Guy in Networks should be found worthy, the nominated co-worker will receive a number of Applause points.

Applause points can be spent on things e.g. 10,000 points will get you a paperclip or some such, 20,000 will get you a pen, that kind of thing.

You have to get tons of these points to get anything truly worthwhile.

What’s a typical award, I hear you ask?

2,500 points.

You’d probably have to work for the company for a hundred years (and kiss a LOT of bottom) to amass a decent numberof points – by which time, the scheme will almost certainly have been discontinued.

But never mind, even if you can’t manage to squeeze a few measly points out of the system, you can always send your beloved co-worker an Applause e-card instead!

Yes, that’ll make them feel loved – after all, it’s not about the money, is it?

You can choose from a range of e-cards bearing anodyne and instantly forgettable images of implausibly attractive office workers laughing gaily into each other’s faces as they give presentations, or work on their computers. You may personalise it with a message of your own (you can use more than 140 characters for this if you like, it's not like it will cost anything).

By the way, it has been decided that there are to be no salary reviews this financial year.

Feel the love.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Wordzzle 178

Well, I've managed one.  NaNoWriMo has really eaten up my time and brains - much more so than I anticipated.

Anyhoo, here's a mini chalenge and a chunk of Harold.  For more Wordzzle-related fun go to Raven's Nest.

Words to include: historical, hysterical, purple, purist, gelding

With a sigh, I put down the book. To be honest, it hadn’t really been gripping me anyway. It was supposed to be a historical novel set in the medieval period, but they should have shelved it under ‘hysterical’ instead. Such tosh! Purple prose abounded and, underneath the ridiculously overblown verbiage was a plot so contrived and thin, you could see light through it. I mean, a pretty young woman whose only companion in the world, a bay gelding, wandering about the countryside unescorted – highly implausible for the day. I suppose I’m being too much of a purist, but they really should not send this kind of twaddle for review to yours truly of all people - a Professor of Medieval History at Trinity College Cambridge.

And Harold, of course.............. (catch up using the link top right)

“This is highly irregular!” The young nurse’s voice was stiff with disapproval. “Mr Box is sleeping and mustn’t be disturbed.”

“But this is really urgent,” said India, “Please, can we have just a few minutes. We’ll be very quiet, I promise.”

Standing behind her, Harold favoured the nurse with his friendliest smile and was pleased to see a little uncertainty creep into her frosty expression.

“Please,” he added, “We just need to give him some very important family news. We’ll be gone before you know it.”

The nurse glanced around to see if anybody else was watching and sighed.

“All right,” she said, “I’ll let you see him, but you get five minutes and that’s it.”

“Thanks,” said India. “That’s all we need, honestly.”

It had all started with India wishing out loud that Box could be there to offer his advice about the current situation. Mr Teeth had offered to loan his not inconsiderable resources to project Distraction, as Harold had insisted on dubbing the current phase of activity. India had been uncertain whether to accept more of his help – so far, his house and the use of a car had been the only things they’d had from hm. All along, India had been squeamish about collaborating with someone who was almost certainly involved in who knows what criminal ventures, but she was pragmatic enough to realise that beggars cannot always be choosers. Still she had sighed and wished for Box’s counsel.

Harold had suddenly had an idea and, well, here they were.

Box was sleeping like the proverbial baby when the nurse ushered them into the dimly-lit room. She went over to the bed and roused his gently.

“Mr Box,” she said softly, “There are a couple of people here to see you. I can send them away if you don’t want to be disturbed.”

Box blinked blearily around the room for a few moments and then his eyes settled on India and Harold.

“No, it’s fine, they can stay.” He pushed himself up the bed and fumbled for the controls to raise the end of it.

“Five minutes.” The nurse said sternly as she left the room.

India and Harold moved over to the bedside.

“I take it things have gone awry.” Said Box, “Pass me that water will you? Thanks.”

Harold handed him the glass from the nightstand while India quickly outlined what had happened.

“And you’ve not been able to contact Mercury and Co since.” He confirmed when she had finished.

“No.” she replied, “But we’re thinking of putting together some kind of a distraction and using the invisibility suits to get inside Infinity Recycling. You’re a much more experienced agent, though, and I wanted to get your take on it.”

“Well, it’s going to take more than a few hurried minutes for me to get my ideas together.” Box said, “Do you have layouts of the uilding, things like that? How many people can Mr Jackson provide?”

“We can go into that back at the house,” said India.

Box blinked.

“Are you fixing to break me out of the hospital?” He said, his voice a mixture of disbelief and just a little glee.

“You’ll be walking out on your own.” Said Harold.

Box frowned. “Say what now?”

“We don’t have a lot of time to explain.” Said India, “The demon here thinks he can fix your leg. I have pointed out that it’s a bit more complicated than a china mug, but he seems to think he can do it and, given the urgency of the situation, I think it’s worth a try.”


“OK, I’m here,” said Flowers, as she walked into the cramped security office containing Moon.

“Doctor, we’ve had some developments tonight. Some OGS Agents have discovered our little hideaway and, while we’ve rounded up some of them, there is at least one other, plus a Fallen running around loose. We need to know where they would most likely have gone. We’re so close now with this project, we simply can’t have things ruined by a couple of loose cannon.”

Flowers frowned.

“And you’ve called me in because – ?“

“I was thinking that you could maybe,” Moon was suddenly less sure of himself, “well, give one of them a shot of something that might, you know, loosen their inhibitions a bit, get them to tell us where they’ve been hiding out.”

“I see,” Flowers said, hesitantly. Her cabinets down in the lab did contain several drugs that would undoubtedly do the trick, but... She knew she was being a total hypocrite for being so precious all of a sudden about using her drugs in this way, especially when she had already done so once. Nevertheless, her conscience had been nagging away at her since then and she was not keen to feed it any further. Then she remembered something.

“I think I might have an idea where we can look for your loose cannons,” she said.


Box gingerly lowered his feet to the cool linoleum of his hospital room. The stab of pain he had been expected did not come and he breathed a sigh of relief. “So far so good,” he murmured.

Carefully, India and Harold helped him to transfer his full weight to his feet and stand. On the bed behind him lay a tangle of discarded bandage and broken chunks of plaster of Paris. Box had taken a bit of convincing to get him to allow a Fallen – even one he’d recently been working with – to touch him. In the end, though, he’d relented and Harold had set to work with, it now appeared, good results.

Box took a few test steps unaided and pronounced himself satisfied. He was just pulling on his leather trousers when the door opened. The nurse froze in the doorway when she took in what was going on.

“It’s OK,” Box said quickly, before she did anything rash. “I’m going to discharge myself. I’m a whole lot better and my cousin needs me. Can you get the paperwork ready please?”

“Mr Box,” she gasped, “It’s the middle of the night! I strongly advise you at least to wait until morning, I can’t in all conscience – “

“Please,” said Box, in a firm voice. “I’m leaving. Now. I’d rather not make any more fuss than I have to, so please get me whatever I need to sign and I’ll be on my way.”

And, twenty minutes later, with India at the wheel, they all headed back towards Mr Teeth’s.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

You Shouldn't Over-Think These Things

The picture below has been appearing in Reader’s Digest magazine for some months now. It’s a advertisement for Silvikrin hairspray - For Life's Little Surprises

I have no particular feelings, good or ill, about Silvikrin as a product, I’m sure it’s a perfectly good one if you happen to like hairspray. It’s been around for as long as I can remember, so I guess it must be reasonably popular.

If, however, I were basing my hairspray choice solely on this picture, I would never in a million years buy this product.

So what do we have here that is apparently such a turn-off for me?

I’m guessing we’re meant to imagine that this little scene takes place at blonde lady’s (let’s call her Patricia) workplace. Her colleagues have organised a little surprise for her birthday and there she is, with token black lady (I’m going to call her Marcie) and some chap from Accounts (arbitrarily designated by me as Tony), exhibiting excited surprise at their thoughtfulness.

“For me? Wow! Thanks, you guys!” we almost imagine her crying excitedly.

Marcie is so excited herself that she is squealing too. “I know!” she cries, “I know!”

Tony looks on in wry amusement at the ladies’ hysteria. Aaah, those crazy ladies, he thinks. You wouldn’t catch a manly bloke like me carrying on like that.

All harmless enough, of course, but look at the picture some more.

Why has Patricia only got two workmates? Are the others all shyly hiding out of shot?  Maybe nobody likes her very much.  More importantly, who’s going to eat all that cake?

Why is Tony so creepy-looking?  Look at him, peering over the top of the partition, he looks like some kind of horrible office chad (if anybody remembers chads?).  Does he secretly have the hots for Patricia – or maybe Marcie? Either way, he looks like a stalker to me.

Look at what Patricia has got pinned to the partition under the Happy Birthday banner…

- A picture of the queen (possibly a calendar)
- A postcard or something with what looks like a crown on it
- A photo, possibly of her and some kids (where’s hubby, I wonder?)

Look also on her desk. There’s a mug and calendar bearing a union jack. Patricia is clearly VERY patriotic. Yes, I do realise that the idea of the ad is that Silvikrin is a British product, but so far all we’re seeing is a middle-aged woman who might for all we know be a member of the British National Party. Does she actually like Marcie or does she secretly wish she would ‘go back to where she came from’ (I’m going to say Marcie was born in Tunbridge Wells, so Patricia is bang out of order here).

And am I the only person in the world who thinks Patricia is slightly over-reacting to the cake and rather small birthday card? Come on Pat! It’s not that great – there aren’t even any presents, for goodness sake! Maybe she’s trying to impress creepy Tony. Now that hubby’s out of the way, she might well be on the prowl, the voracious old Cougar.

The tag-line for the advertisement is Set for the day. All day. Yes, because you clearly do need a superior hair product to keep your unruly locks in check in case you encounter a mildly surprising situation and have to pretend to be so excited you can barely breathe.

So I guess I’m only meant to be buying Silvikrin if I’m a middle-aged racist cougar with hardly any friends who has an orgasm any time somebody presents her with cake.

No thanks, Silvikrin.

I do like cake though.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

NaNoWriMo is here and I'm joining in!

Yes, after faffing about for a couple of years, I’ve finally decided to have a go at this National Novel Writing Month malarky (actually, it should be International Novel Writing Month by now, surely?). 

The question is: can I pump out a 50,000 word novelette in just 30 days?

My good friend Don't Feed the Pixies did exactly that a couple of years ago, and produced a highly readable and thrilling story, which I personally think he needs to go back to and brush up with a view towards publication - jus' sayin'.

I need to knock out at least 1,667 words a day on average for 30 days to get there. 

Doesn’t sound too bad when you say it like that, does it?  It can take me 1,000 words just to get warmed-up sometimes. 

Mind you, I’ve already managed to miss one whole day through having to go to work then having to go to a KT Tunstall gig (which was brilliant, in case you were wondering), so now I need to catch up if I’m to stay on track.  I've created a spreadsheet to track my progress and everything.

If anybody asks, yesterday was a planning day, ok?

The story I'm going with is one that has been kicking around in my head for years, but about which I have never so much as jotted down a single note on paper.  I’m already abuzz with thoughts of possible interesting (I hope) characters to plonk into my story.  It will be Science Fiction, set in the far-ish future (saves piddling about with boring research) and will be a kind of murder mystery suspense-y thing. 

NaNoWriters are, I believe, allowed to do a little planning before 1st November, but the actual writing itself must wait until the first day.

I’ve had a poke about on the NaNoWriMo website and there are forums where you can discuss your ideas, get help with plot holes, etc.  This part of it looks quite interesting, and I particularly like the ‘Adoption Centre’ forum where people leave ideas for character names, funny lines, etc., for others to pick up and use.

I’ve now actually written the first couple of paragraphs (127 words) and am itching to do more, but I have to work. 


Darn it.