Monthly Archives: March 2012

Watching Them Watching Us

Sidey’s Weekend Theme is “Tellurian”, and yes, I did have to look it up….


“So what are they like?” asked Avin.

“Well, the Tellurians are roughly the same shape as us,” said her husband, Dano, “though they’re not green. They’re come in a variety of colours, like paint. Look, I’ll show you.”

The family stared eagerly at the wall,. They loved it when Dano returned from one of his field trips to other planets, other galaxies. They had been awestruck by the purple sunrises of Zemejs, entranced by the crystal butterflies of Gdhehe, revolted at the snot-based recipes of the people of Yjdiendu.

Dano wrote for Galactic Geographic, a publication rather like our own National one, though with less pictures of naked tribeswomen.

Dano concentrated his mind and a picture appeared on the wall. It was of a creature much like the watching Xjruians, though he was a strange shade of pink, had far smaller eyes and had what appeared to be a small carpet on his head. Their youngest child screamed.

“What’s that stuff on his head?” she asked.

“It’s called ‘hair’ apparently,” said Dano, and if you think they’re bad now, you’d want to see what they’re descended from.”

“They belong to a number of tribes,” he continued. “For example the Americans, who seem to rule everything, or the French, who look down on everything , or the Irish, who build everything.”

“What do they do all day?” asked Avin.

“Well, they toil for a while, as we do. Then during their leisure time they mostly gather in small buildings called “pubs” and talk.”

“About what?”

“Generally about the climactic conditions of the day,” said Dano. “It’s odd – there are only two possible types – dry and wet, yet they are fascinated each day by the fact that one of these occurs.”

“They don’t sound the brightest,” said their eldest child.

“They aren’t. They think that Saturn is a planet. I mean, it’s surrounded by a giant parking lot, could it be any more obvious that it’s a space station?”

“Do they, er..” asked Avin, quietly so that the children wouldn’t hear.

As you will have seen in pictures, the Xjuians do not have genitalia (just because it’s a stereotype doesn’t mean it isn’t true). Their own children grow in pods in their back garden and they are always horrified, and a little envious, of the methods of reproduction used on other worlds.

“They do,” said Dano, “like bunnies.”

Avin had no idea what a bunny was, but the meaning of the sentence was so clear that she’d have turned green with jealously had that option been open to her.

“Will they ever come here?” asked their youngest child, a little fearfully.

“Not any time soon,” said Dano. “They’ve only ever visited their own moon, and it took them four days to get there.”

The children sniggered. Their own five moons were effectively their suburbs, with regular shuttle services.

“Don’t laugh at them just because they’re primitive,” said Avin. “Remember, there was a time when our ancestors believed that Xjrui was dodecahedron-shaped.”

“So what are you going to write about the Tellurians?” asked their eldest.

“They don’t call it Telluria,” said Dano, “they call it Earth.”

“What, like dirt?” gasped their eldest child.


“Self-esteem issues, obviously,” said Avin. “After all, it’s not easy not being green.”

Alphabet Soup

WordPress’s Daily Post has not gone away.  It no longer suggests daily topics, but it does still have the Weekly Photo Challenge, lots of articles about grammar and, for those of you who find articles about grammar too exciting, a recent post about a comma.

It does also encourage us all to keep writing, occasionally suggesting ways to find things to write about.

One recent suggestion was a lipogram. I had not heard of this (Spellcheck hasn’t either, I’ve just discovered) and it does sound like a kissogram who turns up to celebrate you losing weight (possibly dressed as a cook instead of a policewoman), but it seems that it involves writing something that omits a letter altogether.

Well, I’ve nothing else to say today, so:

The quick brown fox jumps over the lady dog.

That was quite easy, yet WordPress, for some reason, thinks it’s challenging.

Quite bizarre.

Stellar By Starlight

The clock going forward last weekend means that I am again getting up for work in the dark.

This reminds me of the times during the last couple of months when the project that I was working on seemed never-ending, and to try and ever-end it I was going into work at seven.

There is no bus that would get me in that early so I would have to leave my house at 5.30 for the longer walk to the station to catch the six o’clock train. This sounds like torture but in fact there were times when it was a lovely walk, with stars and the moon still in the sky.

There was nobody else around, a human silence in which to appreciate birdsong.

The walk would take me around the side of Greystones Golf Course and the beauty and variety of the sounds coming from the trees there can be breathtaking.

I don’t know much about ornithology so I can’t tell which birds I was listening to. I presume one of them was the lark, since otherwise the phrase “up with the lark” is meaningless.

As for the rest of the dawn chorus, they could be anything. Sparrows. Puffins. Tits.

At times the project caused exhaustion, stress, disillusionment and depression. But the morning walk used to help me deal with all of this.

The world around you, if you open your senses and take it all in, is a constant source of wonder.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Through

This magnifying glass

belongs to Mrs Tin. I have no idea why she owns it, perhaps she’s a consulting detective in her spare time, it would certainly explain why she keeps telling me that the game is afoot, and why she knows the times of all the trains to Devon.

Anyway, yesterday I had a rant at our former leader, calling him, among other things, an odious little toad.

I don’t regret the post in any way, and in fact here, through Mrs  Tin’s magnifying glass (and it’s far harder to do than I thought it would be), is a photo of the post again, my ode to my contempt and loathing for this dreadful man:

It’s malice, through a looking-glass.

Weekly Drawing Challenge – Through

In yesterday’s post I used this phrase:

“Let me present Batman – the Dark Knight, Thor – the Thunder God, and Robin – the Guy Who Looks Good On Christmas Cards.”

In the first draft (yes, I do edit this stuff, even if it doesn’t look like it) between Thor and Robin I had “Bertie – the Disgraced Liar”. I took it out in the end because most of you that read this aren’t from Ireland and so wouldn’t understand it, and because it was a pretty feeble attempt at political satire in any case.

On Thursday a Tribunal of Inquiry into corruption in our planning system found that our ex Prime Minister Bertie Ahern had lied to it about large sums of money which he received, firstly when he was Minister for Finance and then when he held the most powerful position in our land.

Most of us knew this, of course. The evidence that he gave to the Tribunal was funnier and more imaginative than anything I ever written. He explained two lodgements of £22,500 and £16,500 as loans (or “dig-outs”, as he called them) from his friends because they felt he was hard up after his marriage break-up, although he had over£70,000 in cash at the time. He said that he was at a dinner in Manchester after being at a football match, was asked to say a few words and the listeners were so impressed that they had a whip-around and presented him with £8,000 sterling (had this been a fee for speaking he would, of course, have had to pay tax on it). He denied that he ever received any other sterling, ever, and when it was pointed out to him that lodgements of £15,500 to accounts belonging to himself and his daughters were definitely sterling he suddenly remembered that he had won it betting on races in UK.

$45,000 was lodged into one of his accounts. He simply denied that he had ever received dollars from anyone.

This odious little toad, by the way, was our leader when the property bubble which has led to the destruction of our economy began. He was on first-name terms with the chairman of the bank that collapsed most spectacularly, and for which we (population 4 million) have to pay out a promissory note debt worth €3.06 billion (€3,060,000,000) before next Friday.

Several people I know have lost their jobs. Our company had to impose pay cuts on all of us and let 25 people go.

Some of my children will probably have to emigrate. I may one day have grand-children that I see only once a year or so.

Ahern chickened out of facing the voters in the last General Election, where his party was massacred. That party began moves this week to expel him (something never before done to a former leader) at a meeting to be held next Friday. He chickened out of that too, by resigning from the party last night.

He is through.

My attempt at drawing him captures little of his smirk, of lips that were so quick to tighten into a thin line of repressed rage whenever he was asked a difficult question. About the only thing that I’ve captured is his almost cylindrical head, so like the buckets of cash with which he ran his life.

So no jokes today, just a venting of my contempt for one of the most self-serving, money-grabbing, deceitful creatures to ever infect politics in our country.

A recent challenge, which I never got around to doing, was “Distorted”, so I’m using today’s post to cover that too.

But it’s not my drawing I’m talking about.

Name Dropping

Sidey’s Weekend Theme is “the decision”…


“No way.”

“I’m sorry, I’ve made my decision.”

“Well unmake it,” said Dick Grayson. “There is no way that I’m going to be called Robin.”

“I don’t see why not,” said Batman. “It’s an excellent name.”

“It’s a dork’s name,” said Robin. “Let me present Batman – the Dark Knight, Thor – the Thunder God, and Robin – the Guy Who Looks Good On Christmas Cards.”

“No, you’ll have a proper nickname,” said Batman. “You’re going to be Robin – the Boy Wonder.”

“I am twenty-six years old,” said Dick icily, so icily in fact that it’s a pity that the name “Iceman” was taken. “Look, it’s not cool. In a world full of people called The Green Hornet, Wolverine and Captain America, I would be the equivalent of the Boy Named Sue.”

“And what would you suggest?”

“Well, what I’ve thinking,” said Dick, “is that I’m going to be a super-hero, and my name -”

“We’re not calling you SuperDick,” said Batman flatly.

Dick, as he would be known for the last time, sighed. “Ok, Robin it is then. Knowing my luck we’ll meet a villain called The Sparrow, with his bow-and-arrow.”

“Ok, that’s settled,” said Batman.

“But do me one favour. Just explain to me how you picked it?”

“Well, fortunately I had my Bat Random Name Generator -”

“Don’t talk shite,” snapped Robin. “There’s no such thing, and we both know it.”

“I found it in a Book of Baby Names,” admitted Batman.

“Very scientific. Come to that, how did you come up with your own name? Spider-man I get, the Riddler I get, but why Batman? Can you navigate by echo?”

“I must admit I had problems,” said Batman. “Most of the good names where taken. I flirted with the idea of Toyman, and toyed with the idea of Flirtman. I thought of wearing a metal breastplate and calling myself Tinman -”

“Stupid name,” said Robin.

“Yeah, that’s what I thought. Then finally it hit me.”

“What did?”

“A baseball bat,” said Batman. “It fell off the top shelf where I kept it.”

“Pity it wasn’t an umbrella,” said Robin. “You could have called yourself “Rain Man”.”

Acting Out

Last weekend Tingirl’s Drama Group had their End Of Term Showcase.

This year they had four scenes, short plays in fact, each with a maximum of three actors, and each one written by one of the group and directed by another.

Tingirl’s scene featured just her and one guy. She was a rich girl, he was a poor bloke, and the two of them were running away together until she admitted that she’d had an affair. There was a bitter and ultimately final row, he departed, and the scene ended with her desolately whispering his name.

I was astonished, though I shouldn’t be by now, at the depth and passion of her acting, though not as astonished as I was at the end, when I discovered that she had written the whole thing.

She really is terrifically talented, and I really hope she gets somewhere with this, her dream.

She did have one more surprise. The next tale was a comedy of one-upmanship, involving just two of the guys, and she had just one line, where she ran on at the very end, hugged one of them and happily shouted “guys, I’m pregnant!”

No 15 year-old girl should ever do that to her father.

Social Cartoon Network

Sidey’s Weekend Theme is “I wonder”. I wonder if, like the rest of us, cartoon characters go the pub after work on a Friday….


The minute hand of the clock reached twelve. It was five o’clock on a Friday evening.

Tom removed his tail from a huge mousetrap and shook it until it stopped throbbing and went back to its normal size. Jerry, who had just swallowed a piece of cheese so large that his body was a triangular shape, banged himself on the chest until the cheese went down.

“Drink?” suggested Tom.

They waved goodbye to Maisie, the huge-legged, beslippered woman who worked with them occasionally, usually laying about Thomas with a sweeping-brush, and walked out of the studio into the pub across the road. Tom watched for a few seconds while Jerry tried to scramble himself into a sitting position on a high stool, then sighed, picked him up and sat him on the chair.

“Show-off,” said Jerry.

“Shortarse,” replied Tom. The two of them grinned. They had worked together for many years now and were very close friends.

They looked around the bar. The Pink Panther sat languidly in one corner, reading Proust. Mr Magoo was carrying on an animated conversation with a beer-tap. Popeye was arm-wrestling, and rather embarrassingly losing, against Velma from Scooby-Doo. Wile E Coyote was typing emails on an Acme laptop, which suddenly burst into flames.

Betty Boop sat quietly and gorgeously with her boyfriend Top Cat, the only one of them who had ever had the self-confidence to ask her out.

All of them were unwinding, in some cases literally, after a hard week’s work. They had all been blown up, squashed flat and smacked ringingly in the face with a frying-pan. They had all stuck a finger into a light socket. They had all at least once been propelled through a wall, leaving a hole the shape of themselves.

They let off steam (again sometimes literally) as they did every Friday, complaining about how difficult their jobs were, and bemoaning their lot compared to those in other professions. Firemen had to fight fires, spies had to be shot at and bloggers got tired fingers, but none of them ever ran over a cliff and continued to run pointlessly for a few seconds before gravity imposed its will.

Bugs Bunny walked over to Tom and Jerry, drinking carrot-juice, though with two shots of vodka in it.

“Eeeeh, what’s up Doc?” he said.

“Not much,” said Tom. “Where’s Elmer?”

“He’s gone shopping, looking for looking for frogs for his garden pond,” said Bugs. “Or ’hunting wibbits‘, as he said himself.”

At the table beside them Muttley sniggered at this joke, but then he rarely did anything else.

The three sat in silence for a while, watching while Yogi Bear tried to count out the four dollars he needed to pay for his drink. Unfortunately Yogi could only count on his fingers, and when you’ve got paws that’s not a terribly useful skill.

“If he’s smarter than the average bear,” said Jerry, “then bears must be really thick.”

“Hey, have you heard about the Penelope Pitstop?” said Bugs. “She’s got a film deal. Not only that, but she’s going to be played by an actual human.”

There was a “kerching” sound, and $$$ signs appeared in Tom and Jerry’s eyes. To be able to sell one’s images rights to humans was the ultimate dream of all cartoon characters. There would be film takings, DVD takings, action figures, wallpaper, bedspreads, little plastic toys given out in MacDonalds.

Best of all, while they were taking in all this money it would be some human, not them, who would have to run into a garden and step straight onto a rake.

After their movie the Flintstones had been able to move out of Bedrock, buy a house in the Hamptons and Fred had been able to afford an engine for his car.

“Who’s playing her?” asked Tom.

“Katherine Heigl.”

“Should work,” said Tom.

“When our time comes,” said Jerry, “who do you reckon will play me?”

“Tom Cruise,” said Bugs. “He’s just about the right height.”

Yawn Snooze Snore

Today is a Public Holiday here in Ireland on account of St Patrick’s Day being on Saturday.

I had breakfast, drove Tingirl into the next town to meet her friends, went to the pub for an hour (yes, in the morning, that’s the kind of thing you can happily admit to when you don’t drink) because I wanted to return a book to someone there and I was home by about one o’clock.

Mrs Tin and I then spent a lazy afternoon watching two programmes we had recorded. When they had finished I announced that I was going to work on my blog (I wanted to start my attempt at Sidey’s Weekend Theme, “I wonder”).

Mrs Tin said fine, that she would watch “Eat, Pray, Love” which she had recorded ages ago and forgotten about, and rather than have her watch TV on her own on a holiday I said “sure, I’ll watch it with you”.

That was two-and-a-half hours ago. It’s now too late to do my planned post and I don’t think I’d be able to anyway, since it feels as if someone has taken a syringe to one ear and injected my brain full of marshmallow.

My admiration for women is stronger than ever. Not only do you have to face the difficulties of childbirth, leg-waxing and knowing absolutely everything, you also have to watch chick-flicks, and it’s only since this afternoon that I appreciate just what an ordeal that is.

You truly are a wonderful gender.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Unusual

For the last couple of weeks as I’ve been walking up the hill to my house on the way home from work I have noticed two bright lights in the sky. Thanks to a great astronomy website called StarDate (which I would love even if it was crap, simply because of its name) I know that they are Venus and Jupiter.

At their closest they are respectively 41 million and 628 million kms from Earth in two totally different directions, if Space actually has directions. Yet they are visible, one just a couple of inches above the other, from my front garden.

I think that’s pretty unusual (after all, they can only have been in conjunction with one another a few hundred million times since the universe was formed), though sadly what is not unusual is my photographic ability with my mobile phone.

This is my attempt at taking a picture of them:

The tiny dot in the centre of the screen is Venus. Before you get too impressed, though, Jupiter is not visible at all, and that second light at the bottom of the picture is my neighbours’ burglar alarm.

I had my camera on zoom. Perhaps there is a limit to the distance over which this makes any difference.