Trish has been away for a week and she’s coming back tonight, so I need to tidy up. Some of the plants have died and the cat pissed on the sofa.
While I’m on the subject of games, I should tell you about another game I invented a while back. It came into being more or less spontaneously one evening during a heavy drinking session. Needless to say, it is somewhat more robust than the average parlour game. It is called The Commitments and here is how you play…
The Commitments is a two player game suitable for anyone aged 18 to 80. All of the necessary equipment is easily obtained any good off-licence; and is as follows-
A large bag of ice cubes. (Preferably a few).
Some plastic carrier bags.
At least one bottle of whisky per player.
A case of beer.
How to play The Commitments:
Drink the whisky.
Flip a coin to decide which player will face the first commitment. (This is Player 1).
From now on, both players should be in possession of a can of beer at all times.
Player 1 should position himself on the edge of a chair or other item of furniture with his hands at his sides at all times. (Unless he has to drink; and he probably will have to). He should then inhale as fully as possible, pushing his chest out as far as he can, at the same time tensing the muscles of his abdomen. (As if preparing for a blow to the torso).
Player 2 should stand to one side of Player 1, holding one end of the bag of ice in both hands. When he is satisfied that either Player 1 is prepared or it’s not worth waiting any longer, he should rotate slightly and lift the bag of ice up and back. (As if preparing to swing it wildly).
Player two should then assume as deep a voice as possible and sing, suddenly and loudly, the phrase “I’m gonna wait ’til the midnight hour”. He should then turn and swing the bag of ice cubes, bringing it across with a scything motion in a wide horizontal arc, and smash it with force into the chest of Player 1, somewhere between the sternum and the solar plexus. The impact should ideally be simultaneous with the last syllable of the ‘song’.
The players should then swap positions and continue until someone passes out from shock, fatigue or drunkenness or the ice melts. (Should the makeshift cudgel that is the bag of ice prematurely explode, simply scoop the ice cubes into a carrier bag and continue).
And that is how to play The Commitments.
Whenever I check the stats for my website, amongst other things it shows what search terms people typed into Google and subsequently found the site with. Apart from the usual things like ‘Burning Salad’, ‘Gregor’ etc there is always a selection of more random ones- ‘cocaine burning nose’, ‘spock grip’, ‘sticker removal books’ to name but a few. Needless to say, the site doesn’t exactly rank highly in Google for such terms. So they have been a constant source of amusement and puzzlement to me- or at least the mentality of the anonymous searchers has.
So I have invented a new internet game. It’s inspired by Googlewhacking, but is, amazingly, even more pointless. And the rules are simple. So simple they are non-existent. There is really only one rule and it’s more of an instruction than anything else.
Type an elaborate yet inane phrase into Google before choosing a low ranking results page and clicking on a random result.
Repeat until bored.
Still confused? Simply follow this easy to understand walkthrough example…
Go to Google.
Enter the following text: advanced gerbil smashing.
Press the search button.
Scroll to the bottom of the results page and click on the ’7′ to reveal the seventh results page.
The last result on the list should be The Washington Post Food Section. Click on it.
Enjoy the fact that you are partly responsible for staff at The Washington Post wondering why there has been a sudden surge of interest in beating rodents, and what on earth that has got to do with their food section.
Another one of those things that never made it into Burning Salad happened about this time last year. It was a warm sunny evening and I was making one of my biweekly trips to my karate class. The walk takes about half an hour and it is a walk I normally enjoy. I’ve got a thing for urban walking in general really. Being physically involved in a repetitive activity for a certain amount of time seems to generate mental space and so I always find myself thinking a lot and working out ideas when I’m walking somewhere. Add to this the fact that the scenery changes and you don’t need to turn around every ten metres and and you have a viable alternative to pacing.
So here I was marching along a street in Maryhill, lost in thought. When a strange and unusual thing happened…
I noticed something on the pavement a short distance in front of me. Immediately my train of thought evaporated as I slowed down almost to a halt and considered the fact that I was looking at nothing other than a chess piece. A chess piece? Sitting upright in the middle of the pavement on Maryhill road. (For anyone unfamiliar with Glasgow, it’s probably sufficient to point out that if street chess was growing as an urban phenomenon then Maryhill would almost certainly be the last place enthusiasts would be found alive).
But this wasn’t even an ordinary chess piece. It was outsized for a start- maybe three or four time bigger than standard. And not only that, it seemed to have been hand crafted- fashioned from some kind of teak-like wood by the looks of it.
As I approached I noticed the way it steadily tapered upward from the base before narrowing slightly and gently flaring to an almost perfectly rounded top.
Clearly a bishop.
No sooner had I overcome my astonishment at such an unlikely juxtaposition and started accepting the fact that I had indeed come across an elaborately made, outsized chess piece in the middle of the street (in Maryhill), than I had gotten too close. Within a matter of a few paces the baroque urban mirage was gone forever. And the true horror of the situation settled upon me.
I was not staring at a teak bishop. I was staring at a dog turd.
The fancy chess piece had not in fact been dropped by a highly trained grand-master. It had almost certainly been expelled by a badly trained Alsatian.
Imagine my surprise, mingled with my disgust.
This sounds like an unlikely story, I know. (And I wouldn’t blame you if you smelled a rat. You should just count yourself lucky that’s all you could smell). But here is the part that catapults the story back into the realms of the bizarre (and nudges me back into the realm of the sane)…
The reason I mistook dog dirt for a chess piece was because by some incredible fluke of physics, the dog’s jobby had landed on the pavement end-on and somehow (maybe the baking heat) maintained it’s unlikely, obelisk-like position.
Of course, this last fact only serves to cast aspersions on the authenticity of the whole fiasco. And I seem to remember it being for this reason that it was never recorded in Burning Salad. Oh, how I cursed not having one of those fancy mobile phones with a built-in camera.
Well, Trish has one of those fancy phones. And by an uncanny but no doubt meaningless coincidence, I was on my way to my karate class when I used it to record what to the untrained eye might have appeared at first glance to be a well made ebony rook.
“In the English language, the word ‘trampette’ refers to what- a miniature trampoline or a small vagrant?”
Anyway, can’t write much- there’s a hopping noise coming from the hall (where the cat has been banished for bad behaviour).
The Transmission party on Friday night was great. The weather was good, the beer was flowing, bands were playing and everyone was there. Birthday-wise, Duncan Campbell produced a small but expertly crafted birthday cake from a shoe-box, Kev Hutcheson gave me a Blackpool postcard of a girl getting her boobs trapped in sliding doors and Lorna and Neil got me a pipe!
Saturday was spent with a nice relaxing hangover.
Sunday was spent at karate not getting kicked in the throat… and watching the Alien Quadrilogy DVD that my parents got me for my birthday.
The Alien films, or at least the first two, are among my favourite films of all time and so, as it is with many things that capture my imagination, I have been, over the years, somewhat obsessed by them. And although the fire of this particular obsession has long since burnt its brightest, my recent acquisition of said Digital Versatile Disc has been the metaphorical equivalent of a barrel of kerosene. A widescreen barrel of kerosene with extra footage and bonus features.
So I sat down to watch Aliens, safe in the knowledge that it would be in its original 16:9 ratio, digitally remastered from the original print with crystal clear audio and visual quality and this would mean that…
…at last I would be able to account for all of the space marines! You see, the problem always was (and this is obviously a problem that everyone who has seen the film will have had) that during one major scene, the on-screen point of view is from cameras attached to the marines’ helmets. And so their names were displayed. Hardly a problem really. Not unless you’re anything more than mildly obsessive.
And so many a long afternoon was spent, finger on pause button, wearing out the video, peering through VHS scan-lines. And what invaluable information such a productive activity yielded. I had categorically identified both Dietrich and Frost. Crowe was still a grey area and Wierzbowski was almost impossible, but I was working on it. And then one day the video tape just couldn’t take it anymore. It couldn’t care less who Wierzbowski was and it made this clear by breaking down unannounced one wet Sunday afternoon.
So here I was twelve years later sitting with what might provide substantial, conclusive evidence in the Crowe/Wierzbowski identification fiasco.
Well, what can I say? I watched one of my favourite films and the quality was incredible. Then I went back to the beginning to look for Crowe and Wierzbowski. ‘Ha ha!’ I though, ‘I’ve got state of the art technology with pixel-perfect freeze-frame ability, you can’t hide now you bastards!’
And I was sort of right. I got a few glimpses of what seemed to be Crowe, but that damned Wierzbowski was nowhere to be seen. Oh how my obsessive brain seethed. I kept going until I started to unravel a bit until finally, after a great many theories and counter theories I thought I had reached the end of the line. My brain had gone numb and my mind was weak.
And it was in this enfeebled state that the solution came to me like a tiny embarrassed firefly at the bottom of a very deep coal mine. Check the internet.
Now I sleep well again.
Today it is my birthday. I am 29.
It seems like a long time since I last wrote anything substantial here. For a while now everything’s been small of snippets of irrelevance. Gone are the days of… epic snippets of irrelevance. Why is this? Who knows. It is true that many a great incident goes unrecorded…
Like the time Alex Frost and I were drunkenly making our way home when a large grinding noise came from behind us in the night and when we turned round we found ourselves in the process of witnessing a slow-motion bus crash.
I immediately realised the magnitude of the moment and did the correct thing- pointed and laughed through a mouthful of Hula Hoops. It is worth pointing out that the slow-motion nature of the vehicle’s destruction was not, I repeat not, an alcohol induced sensory anomaly. Rather it was the result of a woefully inexperienced bus driver making a horrendous error of judgement. And this error was twofold. In short- his bus clearly didn’t fit and nor was it intended to carry out the particular manoeuvre he had forced upon it. The latter, of course, being based upon Glasgow City Councils demarkation of bus routes. (A fact that was instantly clear to both Alex and myself. Oh, how we laughed incredulously ‘Whaaat? A 66 isn’t even supposed to go this way!’) And no doubt this itself was a result of the former. ie. The council being intelligent enough to draw up bus routes with at least a token acknowledgment of Newton’s laws of motion.
And so it was that we came to be watching a teenage bus driver destroy the vehicle of his livelihood. He had made a ridiculously tight turn (as noted, the wrong turn) and as a result, a large traffic island seized the opportunity to prove to the world that it was much more angular than it looked.
It was in fact gouging a very large hole in the side of the bus. And this was producing the grinding noise that had made Alex and I turn round. And we had turned round just in time to witness the hole turn into a long deep line. A furrow, if you will. This was because the hapless driver was doing what many people seem to do when suddenly confronted with they have bitten off more than they can chew. He was grinning in an inane and embarrassed fashion but carrying on anyway. Almost as if this would make it seem like he though it was okay (he clearly didn’t) and that would somehow actually make it okay. (It didn’t). It made for nothing more than a hilarious and absurd slow-speed crash.
Or like the time that there was a naked man in the hotel across from The Modern Institute.
I was in the office one day, talking to Toby when Claire looked up from her computer and slightly shrieked and sort of nodded and kind of said ‘Ohlookitsanakedman’. To which everyone replied ‘Wherewhere?’
I looked across at the hotel opposite, which is a big new, fancy, glassy hotel. And sure enough, there was one of the guests, sat in a chair by the window, master of all he surveyed, pretty much naked. And again I reacted as I usually do in these types of situation- I pointed and laughed.
It was obvious that the man must have known that if you sit in front of a large glass window with no clothes on that people might see you in your state of undress. It didn’t look at all like accidental nudity. It looked more like knowing, yuppie, power-nudity. So I started to wave.
This perturbed Toby slightly who was still laughing but wasn’t as keen on any sort of acknowledgment of the man’s powers of nakedness. So Toby was laughing and sort of going ‘Oh no, don’t wave, he must think nobody can see’. And I was waving and going ‘What? He’s naked. At the window. Hello naked yuppie’. It was all getting to much really. We were laughing at the naked man and the naked man was starting to talk to himself and fidget.
Thankfully the naked man brought the situation to close. He stood up. And to our (or at least my) relief he was in fact wearing briefs. He was also talking on his cellphone which explains the talking and may explain the fidgeting. Then he just strolled away from the window and that, as they say, was that. Business as usual in The ‘Stute.
I seem to be involved in a veritable cavalcade of unlikely events on a fairly regular basis. Not all of them a great deal of fun it has to be said.
This thought struck me last night when I was at my karate class. And it struck me at precisely the same time as a black belt’s foot. In the throat of all places. (The foot struck me in the throat. The thought struck me in the abstract zone of consciousness that thoughts inhabit). Although it has to be said that this objective, observational thought was quickly replaced by a more emergency style though. Which was itself destroyed by the immediate realisation that I couldn’t breathe.
Being kicked hard in the throat feels like what I imagine being enthusiastically choked must feel like. In fact, I’m sure anyone who has ever been choked would agree that their choking felt very much like having been kicked hard in the throat.
Not any kind of fun. And sore.
Sensei checked that I was okay and although I couldn’t speak and was only getting to grips with breathing again he interpreted this as a sign of general well-being.
So I spent today alternately squeaking and growling when I talked as if my voice had just broken, feeling like I was being stabbed every time I swallowed and with the sensation of having a medium sized pebble lodged in my airway.
So here I sit, chewing on liquorice cats I got in Amsterdam. (The type that an old landlady took such offense to). While the real cat, the Cat-Shape, diligently destroys the catnip I am attempting to grow in his honour.
The liquorice cats- cat shaped liquorice………………………….The actual cat- a cat called Cat-Shape.
Before I sign off, I should also mention that on Tuesday my hair knew the scissor for the first time in many a moon. Not only that, it found out for the first time my admiration of grey hair. So I got it dyed.
Leigh Ferguson, local hairdresser to the gliteratti did the honours. And a damn fine job she did too…
Tomorrow is the Transmission summer party. And it is at the local tennis and cricket club.
So I will go there and drink many many drinks for it is also my twenty-ninth birthday.
I’ve been in a bum mood of late. But at the moment I’m watching one of those programs on Living TV where celebrities hang around haunted houses at night to find out if ghost exists or not, and if they do, whether or not they possess celebrities. And that’s helping.