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Oooo…so close!

Almost! Commenter Cup-o-Puddin nipped in and snagged Leonard Nimoy just in time. And a fine Dead Pool maneuver it would have been, too, if commenter currently hadn’t noticed it was a second pick. Goodness knows I would’ve been too lazy to check.

Sorry to be hardass, Puddin. My inbox explodes when I make a questionable ruling — people take this whole ‘rules’ and ‘fair play’ thing really seriously.

Years ago, I read…it was either I Am Spock or I Am Not Spock. Seriously, he wrote both. They were autobiographies. In it, Nimoy said the pressure of acting like a character without emotions made him burst into tears between takes. I’m not sure if it was just the once or with depressing regularity.

Anyway, he went into my mental “meh” file at that moment.

Still, I feel kind of bad for actors who get hired to work on projects that have a powerful fandom. Most of them wander through conventions with bewildered and blindsided looks on their faces, at least at first.

Awesome attempted sneaky-sneak and better luck next time, Puddin. Dead Pool 72 rolls on. Good weekend, all!

February 27, 2015 — 7:22 pm
Comments: 37

It doth suck, and verily doth it blow

Here’s a nicer bit of architecture: the Landgate Arch in Rye. There were originally four fortified gates into Rye, of which the Landgate (1329) is the last survivor. Unfortunately, it’s still the main route through Rye, and satnav keeps sending buses and trucks through it. They don’t fit. It’s been chipping away at the stones for years.

Worse, there’s no roof. So the council hung netting up across the top to keep birds out, which didn’t keep the birds out at all, but does occasionally tangle one up and kill it. Hence the arch is full of shit and the whole top is festooned with rotting birds. Nice.

Oh, also the clock stopped working because nobody was willing to wade through birdshit to fix it.

The town council finally needled the county council into doing stuff. These guys turned up in moon suits with a specialized truck. See that tanker? It simultaneously blows water out one hose and draws it up with another. They have hoovered up 25 tons of birdshit using this process!

I don’t know what they’re going to do to keep it from filling up with birdshit again. A roof is a possibility. I can’t help thinking that whenever we visit a ruin — if you put a roof on that thing, it would last a thousand years longer! (And you could live in it, too).

Anyway, there you go. As private owners of a listed building, we could go to jail if we neglected this place or fixed it wrong (in theory — it’s a criminal, not a civil, offense). But when government does it…

February 26, 2015 — 9:10 pm
Comments: 14


There are not many ugly cement box buildings in the UK, but there are some and they stick out like gangrenous thumbs. Uncle B heard on the radio the other day they’re trying to save one in London that’s in danger of the fate it so obviously deserves.

“Brutalist architecture” is not called that because it’s brutal and awful, believe it or not, but because le Corbusier liked to work in raw concrete — béton brut in Frog. The style that says, “fuck you, aesthetics!”

Anyway, I ran across this delightful concrete abomination on the interwebs tonight. It’s a fountain, put up in Swindon in 1966. The good burghers of the town hated it from the start.

Cast in concrete and seven feet to an edge, it was greeted by widespread burst of public outrage which soon mellowed into chronic disgust and loathing.

Within a remarkably short time the Cube was covered with slime. It soon became a popular gathering place for drunks, tramps and vandals. It was set in a pool which eventually became stagnant and doubled as an open-air lavatory and garbage receptacle.

Said one local wag, “It would be very fitting if the characters who voted to squander our money could be chained to the Thing for a few hours on a Saturday.”

It was pulled down before the Seventies were out. Honestly, look at this fucking thing. Can there be any more persuasive evidence that our rulers hate our guts?

February 25, 2015 — 10:47 pm
Comments: 12

Would you lease a car from this woman?

This is Ling Valentine. She runs — almost singlehandedly — a car leasing company in the UK that moved £35 million in cars in 2008. She keeps citing that 2008 number, so the crash probably put a dent in her bottom line, but the business is still doing well and growing. She’s internet famous over here.

Ling was born in Chengdu Province, China and worked her way through a BSc in Chemistry in Jinan. She decided to do her master’s in Finland (because it was free) and describes herself standing in the Helsinki airport, crying. She took a course in wood chemistry and flunked on account of her bad Finnish.

But by then she had met and married an Englishman named Jon Valentine and emigrated to the UK. Her English wasn’t so great, either, but she managed to push herself through a Masters in Environmental Quality at Bournemouth.

Which is where she became fascinated with programming and databases. Which is how she swears she’s able to operate the business with such a small staff and undercut the competition — crazy efficient computer systems, designed by her.

All of which leads up to this:

the greatest website on the internet

No, now…don’t be like that. Don’t just scream, “my eyes are bleeding!” and wuss out. I seriously recommend you follow links, watch YouTubes and generally treat yourself to a happy half hour of Ling. (Though I didn’t link directly to the top page — autoplay music warning). You’re welcome.

February 24, 2015 — 6:36 pm
Comments: 20

Careful, that shit’s flammable

That there is a vial of Winston Churchill’s blood, which is going up for auction.

One night in 1962 in Monte Carlo, he fell out of bed and broke his hip. He was 87. He spent several weeks in the hospital getting sicker, but he did ultimately recover enough to leave the hospital and die of something else entirely three years later

After he left the hospital, a student nurse was cleaning up his room and asked if she could keep the blood sample. I’m kind of surprised they said yes, even back then. Now she dead and it’s going up for auction.

She reported that he read the first edition of all the major papers before he’d settle at night, and that he’d regularly mix the first two courses of his dinner together in a bowl before he ate them. I’d like to see some examples of that latter behavior before passing judgment.

Also, his beloved poodle died when he was in the hospital, causing him much grief. Winston Churchill’s poodle. It doesn’t seem feasible, does it? On the other hand, what a cracking band name!

They’re expecting it to fetch between £300-600, which strikes me as stupid low for something you could use to clone Winston Frickin’ Churchill.

February 23, 2015 — 10:06 pm
Comments: 15


Browsing the news tonight, I was struck by how much Debbie Wasserman Schultz resembles the goat from yesterday’s post (note: may have been slightly ‘shopped to emphasize goatiness). Ordinarily, I might feel bad that Debbie Wasserman Schultz looks like a goat, but she’s a really horrible person. So, actually, on the whole, I feel pretty good that Debbie Wasserman Schultz looks like a goat.

This afternoon, Uncle B and I were discussing a woman we know who has a really tragic case of resting bitchface. Also, she’s unpleasant. But we were debating whether she’s really unpleasant, or whether bitchface makes her seem unpleasant, or whether walking around with tragic bitchface has made her actually become unpleasant.

We’re philosophical like that.

So I told him the story of this guy I knew when I was a wee slip of a weasel. He was a good-looking guy, in a cute boy-next-door way. He was a little dim, with a sunny, outgoing personality. A pleasant guy to be around.

Then he smashed himself up in a car accident. They put him back together, but he totally looked like a thing that had been put back together. Hollow cheeks, mad staring eyes. In a word, creepy.

But did he really become creepy after that? He seemed to. Or was he the same sunny, happy guy in a creepy shell? Or did the stigma of living with a creepy face make him creepy? It’s so hard to see past basic biology.

Still, we have the whole weekend to figure it out.

February 20, 2015 — 9:23 pm
Comments: 32

Kung Hei Fat Choy

Year of the Goat, ladies and gentlemen. Though I’ve seen it described on some sites as the Year of the Sheep. I suspect that’s because sheep have better PR.

Sadly, it would appear that the Year of the Goat does not mean we get to head-butt and stink in 2015. Honestly, what is the point?

Did I ever tell y’all about the herd of fainting goats we had when I was small. Yes, it looks like I did.

February 19, 2015 — 10:35 pm
Comments: 19

The high price of food nostalgia

We did our weekly shop at Tesco this afternoon (we did our weekly shop, and unusually it was at Tesco. We don’t shop at Tesco weekly. We dasn’t like Tesco, nasty hobitssesss). They had a display of genu-wine Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

I come from deep in the heart of Krispy Kreme territory, you may recall. The appeal of our local KK was less the doughnuts than the fact it was the only thing open on 21st Avenue at two in the morning, and the whole back of the shop was glass. Doughnuts in various stages of doneness bobbled down conveyor belts being dunked, filled, baked, packaged and otherwise given birth to.

To the stoned, it was magic.

When I went to art school in Providence, I worked at a Dunkin’ Donuts for a couple of years. Which I liked very much. I like menial jobs, which probably doesn’t do me much credit. By and large, I preferred the doughnuts, too — except nothing really replaces a klassik Krispy Kreme glazed doughnut.

So, get this — the ones on display in the South of England today were (working from memory here) £1.40 ($2.24) for one, £4.20 ($6.72) for three and £8.80 ($14.08) for a dozen. Holy shit! I know my doughnut days are in the distant past, but is it just us? How the hell much does a box of doughnuts cost over there now?

Yes, I bought three. They were awesome.

February 18, 2015 — 9:33 pm
Comments: 36

Happy Pancake Day!

So there was this one day I had a terrible craving for pancakes. You know how it is. We went to a Little Chef (a better than average side-of-the-highway fast food chain) and I ordered some. Imagine my surprise when — expecting a big, fat stack of flapjacks, dripping with butter and syrup — placed before me was one thin crêpe, folded over, with a squeeze of lemon. A perfectly good crêpe, I have to say, but not what I meant, yo.

This is what Brits call a pancake. I’ve since seen them sold as fairground food at village fêtes — very large ones, cooked to order on portable griddles and topped with a variety of things. They’re nice. And when I want a stack of flapjacks, they’re dead easy to make.

Anyway, it’s Pancake Day AKA Shrove Tuesday. British Pancake Day traditions go back hundreds and hundreds of years, the main one being a footrace. Women (and sometimes men dressed as women — a thing British men will do at the drop of a chapeau) run with a pancake in a skillet. Sadly, they don’t have to flip the pancake the whole way, but they do have to give it a couple of turns.

There are also street football games some places. I get the impression street football games aren’t so much games with rules and winners and people keeping score as, just, a mob of people in the street kicking a ball around. Whatevs. I don’t do sprot.

Pancake Day is always a small surprise. I think of Britain as being so secular — and I think of Lent as being Catholic — but the CofE is closer to Catholicism than I’d realized, and they do have pancake ingredient displays in the supermarkets beforehand. No fasting tomorrow though.

Me? I’m having pizza tonight.

February 17, 2015 — 10:03 pm
Comments: 21


That little boy looks hella jacked — and you would be too, if dad bought you a science kit with four (4!) different kinds of uranium ore, three (3!) separate radiation sources and a geiger counter, so you could chart the progress of your radioactive ass.

It’s American (of course it is), it was only available in 1951-2 and it cost $50, which was a lot of moolah. The one thing I can’t find — and I’ve looked up every article I could on this thing — is whether it was actually dangerous. I assume, not very.

It goes on display at the Ulster Museum next month, in an exhibition called Elements.

When I was a little girl, we had a chip of…radium, I guess. Something radioactive and glowy. One of the curiosities my grandfather collected. It was in a thick glass cylinder and I would often take it into the closet, close the door and hold it up to my eye for long, loving looks.

Which is why my right eye can see into Valhalla.

February 16, 2015 — 9:49 pm
Comments: 17