All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.

irishmammies

Irish and Jewish mothers share a stereotype with one exception: they don’t temper their sense of guilt. With all the love in the world, an Irish mother can simultaneously worship the ground her son walks on and act with a deeper sadism than the bastard offspring of Jeffrey Dahlmer and John Wayne Gacy.

Growing up, the brother and me were pretty spoiled – it was more Enid Blyton (without the casual racism) than Angela’s Ashes , but Mam wielded the wooden spoon of guilt like Zorro felling Spaniards. When I went through a period of fibbing she tole me that my tongue would turn black and fall out if I lied. How did she know? That damned avian turncoat, the little bird, told on me. Every time. It must have been a stool pigeon.

The best ever was telling me that raising a hand to her would result in the offending member rising from the ground once buried, forming a gruesome, peeling tribute to the finale of Carrie. People will come from miles around, she said, to visit the slowly rotting hand and say “There lies a terrible child who was mean to his mother.”

Of course, we laugh about it now, but I still hate that bird.

 

And the prize for participation goes to…

Pole position. via djryanie
Pole position. via djryanie

I re-discovered something this weekend. I fucking hate go-karting.

We went on a team-building exercise at a go-karting track in Greenwich, which sounded like a good idea: we’d knock off work a couple of hours early, drive around a little bit, then start the weekend on a high. I’d done it before and it wasn’t too bad, even though the first time was outdoors in a rain storm.

But..

There’s a particularly mean trick memory can play – mostly on women to convince them to give birth more than once – after a suitable period of recovery you forget just how much an event hurt.

After getting dressed up in a set of overalls that compressed my testicles into a pancake-like mess, we got shown a badly produced video featuring a cast of Inbetweeners lookalikes giving thumbs up signs. Not feeling confident that either my health or safety was of paramount importance the race was on.

Sweet suffering Jesus was the race on. I think it took twenty seconds before I went from my starting position to last and I was whacked by all twelve other drivers on the way. Do you know how annoying a polite hand wave is after you’ve been smashed up the bottom? VERY! After the fifth crash I was plotting to bring in Sharia law and cut that bloody hand off.

Once everyone got out of the way, though, I started to get the hang of it and even managed a couple of laps without crashing. Then it happened. Lapped! I got side-swiped, broad sided, bumped, smashed, and crunched again! And every two or three laps for the rest of the humiliation… I mean race.

By twenty minutes in, Einstein’s famous description of relativity came to mind: “When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute and it’s longer than any hour.” I’d another ten minutes of stove to deal with and my arms had turned into the bingoest of wings, I’d bruises on the inside of either knee from bashing the steering column, and pride was but a distant and folorn memory.

Once the checkered flag came out and the ‘race’ ended I’d have kissed the marshall (with tongue), if only I wasn’t too busy rocking myself in that bucket seat reliving ALL OF THE POST TRAUMATIC STRESS. I had flashbacks to every Vietnam war movie made.

Coming last was inevitable. Being lapped five times by the next slowest driver? That was an achievement.

 

Ein kleiner Schritt für einen Menschen, ein riesiger Sprung für die Menschheit

Since Rare Exports, Troll Hunter, and Let the Right One In, Scandinavia has become the place to go for original genre pieces.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uX2cS8wvQHI&feature=youtube_gdata_player]

Based on these opening four minutes, Iron Sky could be ready to join this Scandtheon. We’re in for a treat on the 20th of April.

2012 in Alternate History

2012
Image by drspam via Flickr

According to io9, it’s more than just the end of the world that we need to worry about for 2012.  Their predictions for this year include:

They missed out on a couple though:

  • Whitley Streiber (famous for being anally fingered by aliens) wrote about the boundaries between three parallel earths thinning in a parade of mental illness that would make David Icke blush;
  • Dan Brown’s apocalypse, which can only be preferable to reading any more of his dross;
  • Endless parkouring assassins jump around trying to give conspiracy theorists more to do than in any other year.

Still, it looks like the US isn’t going to get its first female president in time.

Happy Winterval Everyone

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SFdUJLebzU&feature=player_embedded#!]

Shame what turned out to be a very gentle ribbing was pulled from tomorrow’s Jonathon Ross show.  Looks like Peter Fincham is afraid to lose another job.

Five Reasons why Cyclists Love Cambridge

Christ's College, St Andrew's Street, Cambridg...
Image via Wikipedia

Laura Laker suggests that Cambridge is a model cycling city “with considerate drivers, dedicated bicycle parking and bike-friendly city planning.”  Here are five real reasons cycling is so popular in the town:

  1. Cyclists can ignore red lights: It’s a rare cyclist that actually stops for a red light except when they’re in danger of being hit by a car.
  2. Keeping your hands in your pockets: Handlebars? Direction control? Who needs ’em?.
  3. Cycling on the pavement: Even with miles of cycle lanes, the footpath is perfect for traveling at high speed.  Move it Grandma, I’ve got to get to my yoga class.
  4. Cycling two or three abreast: Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees. Never mind other road users when you’re carrying on your conversation. Of course that nail polish looks stunning.
  5. Chatting on a mobile phone: Unlike those evil motorists using a mobile on a push bike has no effect at all and, best of all, if you get hit it’s always their fault.

‘Course, you might say pedestrians and motorists have it coming.

Jackboots and Shocktroops Remind me of You

All Kinds of Everything
Image via Wikipedia

Rosemary “Dana” Scallon – the Irish version of Rick Santorum – has decided to try to run for the presidency again.  Obviously losing the race in 1997, winning the Eurovision Song contest, and pandering to an anti-progressive base are the only skills needed by a head of state and guardian of the Constitution.

I ran into her in Rome in 2000, which made one of the less sober members of our group really happy.  “Pleased to meet you, Ms. International,” he yelled.

I don’t know why she ran off. Maybe she didn’t like being addressed as “Ms.”

Professor Hawking, Dragonslayer

Apple Sticker
Image by je@n via Flickr

Listening to an e-book using Voiceover on the iPad doesn’t always capture the essence of the scene.

Picture it: riding a dragon for the first time. Excitement, flames, the leathery beat of blackened wings.

Uhm, not so much:

iPad Voiceover doesn”t quite capture the moment. (mp3)

The Illusion of Dolphin Sex

You’re probably familiar with the Young Girl-Old Woman illusion, which was first seen on a German postcard in 1888. Or a the Necker Cube, where the image’s perspective spontaneously changes.

Take a look at the USA Network logo:

If you don’t see a dolphin performing oral sex on a smurf then you need to contact a mental health professional.

J’suis seul dans ma cuisine/Et je bois du café

In the early nineties (1985 in Ireland years) my uncle shipped a percolating coffee pot over from America, which sat in the middle of the kitchen as we tried to figure out what this Cray supercomputer of a kitchen implement was for. It looked like a giant kettle with piping that led up to a mesh basin, which is where the coffee went. Up until then coffee came in a jar, tasted like willow bark, and was only every drunk under protest. Even Anthony Head’s on-and-off romance over a jar of Gold Blend couldn’t make it any more palatable. Gold Blend? We weren’t made of money.

Once we’d found some ground coffee (what do you mean Arabica – I want coffee) the pot was watered, loaded, and put on the gas. Within ten minutes of hissing, pffting, and all manner of steampunk noises this Dr. Snuggles-like machine produced what I can only describe as stimulant heaven. No more Mellow Birds for me… until the mesh corroded.

Ever since, like a heroin addicted J.R. Hartley jonesing for one last fix, I’ve tried to find a replacement. Times have changed and all you can find are french presses, cafetieres, and coffee makers. Until now!

Thanks to the Argos of the middle classes I’ve found a replacement.

I haven’t slept since.