Monthly Archives: May 2014

Late evening randomness

There are few cults as secret or feared as the cult of the teacup. Not only do its followers dabble in the occult, and commit heinous crimes so bad that they are never to be spoken about, but also it is nigh on impossible to tell who is a member. This is due to the object of their veneration- the fine bone china teacup- being so widespread, and it is not until you notice that your host is buttering the wrong side of the bread that you realise the danger you are in. By then it is too late.

There are many theories as to the origins of the cult, but none date back to before the invention of bone china, for obvious reasons. There was a scholarly debate between Professors Higgins and Buschkamer as to whether the teacup needs to be plain or patterned, but this was never resolved, and indeed petered out after the discovery of the latter dead with cake-crumbs scattered all over the room in which he lay. Even more sinister, an upside-down portrait of Earl Grey was hanging from the wall, and he had been stabbed to death with a shard of shattered teapot.

Not all the cult’s work is bad; many testify that the cream-cakes made by the devotees taste far better than those available in even the best shops, and regardless of any satanic rituals utilised in their manufacture you cannot criticise a good cream-cake. In fact this is the main source of recruits for the cult, as the greatest theologians have authoritatively declared that the sole substance that can be used to replace a soul sold to the devil is something milky with plenty of carbs. The fact that this declaration came at the seventy-fifth annual theological wine and spirits festival shortly after the drink ran out is generally regarded as immaterial, and does not detract from its validity one iota. Besides, the woman serving us tea now has very long knitting needles indeed, and we would not want to argue. 

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Afternoon post; in which appears landmines and paper hats

“I gave him a slap on the back, and he was so surprised he jumped thirty feet into the air!”

– Anonymous, on what occurred when he spotted on old friend from bomb-disposal bending over something.

Bomb disposal may look like it’s all about cutting wires, but in reality it is far more prosaic than that. Mostly its about blowing the bomb up in the way you want it to blow up, not the way the bomb-maker wanted it to blow up. Think of it as a race to see who gets to blow up the bomb first. Mines of course, are more tricky; as you cannot see them you can’t decide what to do with them. There are various methods to clean a minefield- magnetic imaging, seeing nitrogen escape and its signs, and of course, getting loads of fools to walk across it so they blow up and not the far more valuable tanks.

In certain parts of the world children’s birthday parties can be dangerous for aeronauts . This is due to the fact that ‘blow up the balloons’ can be taken in more than one way with often tragic results.  As such hot-air balloonists are trained to keep well away from any group of happy children, with an extra level of caution advised if the youngsters are wearing little conical paper hats. If they are blowing party whistles fly for your life.

Of course modern life does not see many hot air balloons. Theories as to why vary, with one popular opinion being that politicians are far to busy nowadays taking bribes and lobby money to produce enough hot air for other uses. Another, perhaps more original opinion is that hot-air balloon is not really a particularly useful mode of transport, especially if the wind is in the wrong direction. The third opinion is that the burgeoning world population has resulted in an over-abundance of children’s parties. So,what is the real reason? We will never know.

 

Morning post & Limerick

A poll taken on how often people answer polls will always show 100% of respondents take part in them at least once. Which leads onto statistics, which are famously part of the quote ‘lies, damn lies and statistics’. Statistics are popular with newspapers and other media, especially when they tell us what we shouldn’t do/have/eat/drink. Of course they are easily manipulated; to prove this it should noted that, based on adding certain statistics together, cutting out all carbohydrates, protein and fat from your diet will make you immortal. In reality this is the best weight-loss diet ever, but people may say they find you too bony.

Speaking about diets, they are of course notoriously useless. This is mainly because they all involve losing weight, so have to be stopped at some point. And once you’ve stopped the thing that was stopping you from gaining weight, you will put it on again. Thus the vicious circle of life; where you reach for the sky and end up copying the moon, growing rounder and thinner in regular cycles. Alas and alack, woe is unto us. 

 

Having had the morning ramble (of the verbal, not exercise variety,) here is the promised  limerick:

There was a man from Highbury,

Who spent all his time in a library,

They tried to get him out,

With a shove and a shout,

But had to resort to bribery.

 

 

Some musings on nothing.

Following reports that a ‘performance artist’ has been criticized for copying the idea of doing a performance about nothing,it became apparent that it would be severely odd if a blog of this name didn’t write something about it. Which has just been done.

But what is the best way to represent nothing? The best answer is ‘what you can see out of the back of your head’. Another good, but not as easily visualized (or unvisulized) answer is ‘the value in absolute terms of a piece of performance art about nothing’. As such it can be seen the mere act of attempting a piece of performance art about nothing automatically hits the target.  

Of course the original piece of performance art on the theme of nothing was the one in the middle of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Much ink has been spilled as to what Hamlet’s last line ‘The rest is silence’ is all about, but the real reason for its existence is that it warned the audience that there wouldn’t be any sound in the four-hour interpretation of the nothingness of death. As no other of Shakespeare’s plays have any sign of more it is assumed that Elizabethan audiences  were less gullible than modern day audiences, and this is despite them believing you could ward off the black death with perfume. 

Other famous nothings include nothing being utilized in music, books, and in one extreme case, nothing. It leaves us but to say one thing:

The real lesson of the Emperor’s new clothes.

Everyone know the story of the emperor’s new clothes, although that doesn’t stop it from being repeated every time a someone begins a sentence like this. (This is done at the end of the post). Everyone knows the moral of the story;- what is claimed to be too amazing for you to understand is often a hoax or fraud. But in truth there is a second lesson to be learnt, which will be described later on.

This is a large segment of contemporary art which is often accused of being the modern equivalent of  the tailors in the story. the usual reply is one of superior dismissal, which is in many cases legitimate. Abstracts can be visual delights, clever use of materials can have deep emotional effect on the beholder, and clever allusions can be made with deft strokes.

But there is legitimate criticism too. The standard response to the accusation ‘my three year old could do it’ is often rejected with the knowingly retorted ‘ah, but he didn’t’. The problem is that the reason the three year old did not do it is in many cases due to a singular lack it being worth his while; or even he did do it but discarded it in favour of his other, better work.

‘But ‘cries the artist, when informed of this ‘the child could not have put in the underlying meaning!’  This indeed appears a good  retort, until we take into account the emperor’s new clothes.

Let us take the artist/ tailors argument as true. The deeper meaning is indeed present; the clothes indeed exist. The problem arises though- to all intents and purposes the emperor is naked, much as if he dressed in clear plastic. Similarly, the hints and references may have value, but the art does not. It is transparent; the only way to legitimately call it art is if the body itself has some merit, not just what it represents.

 

(The story: a pair of charlatans convince an emperor that they have made wonderful clothes for him, clothes so wonderful that they cannot be seen by idiots. Of course these means everyone pretends that they can see the clothes, for fear of looking stupid. It is only a child, to young and naive to engage in slyness, who says, as Danny Kaye put it: ‘The king is in the altogether’. Of course this means everyone does look stupid. This is an important lesson in life for many reasons, including the lesson that, in the end, everyone looks stupid)

Some bits and bobs

Etiquette question: 

When someone is always delayed, should you refer to him as ‘the late Mr…’?

and what if the person late is a spirit at a seance? 

Advice:

•If you are running a business of any description, always call it Aardvark {you business type here}. This ensures you are first in the phonebook.

•If your business is in catering, do not listen to anyone who advises you that ‘Aardvark is a good name’.

More Questions (zoology): 

If an animal that eats ants is called an anteater, why aren’t lions called antelopeaters?

Why is it a duck-billed platypus, and not a platypus-billed duck?

Even more Questions:

Can barbers/ surgeons / alteration services ever offer x percent off, or could it lead to catastrophic misinterpretations?

Did the first person to accept a reverse-charge call even know what he was doing?

Were the seven dwarfs related, and if so was ‘ee’ their surname?

Why is every girl in a fairy tale named after a colour?

How many variations of the ‘why did the chicken’ joke are there in total? 

And Finally:

How can everyone live happily ever after? Won’t the undertakers be rather upset?