A Wife and Seventeen Children…

Gingerbread and musical torture.

Here’s an interesting bit of rambling from that most entertaining of linguists Tenser, said the Tensor. Or at least it’s interesting to me because of a rather stupid activity I was forced to partake in way back in the good old days of 1989.

Back in that first year of high school the year eights were subjected to a class called ‘Music’. This wasn’t any kind of conventional music class – we didn’t get to play any instruments – and neither was it a singing class – that was ‘Singing’. No, this was sitting around in the room at the back of the gym, listening to tapes while being yelled at by a nun. There was so little educational content involved that I strongly suspect it was nothing but timetable filler to get the year eights away from the rest of the staff for a while.

In any case one of the endlessly stupid activities we had to do in ‘Music’ was learn about beat. Any decent curriculum seeking to teach kids about beat would invest in some bongo drums and let them at it, but this kind of creativity wasn’t allowed by Sister Lynn – after all, drumming reeks of paganism. No, we had to march in a big circle around the room in time to a tape apparently (to judge by the whole jingly-jangly-fuzzy-wuzzy-Barney-the-Dinosaur ‘feel’ of the recording) aimed at 6 year olds. And join in.

The words we had to chant?

I left my wife in New Orleans,
With 45 cents and a can of beans,
And I though it was right <pause>,
Right <pause>,
Right for my country,

(When repeated over and over ad nauseum while marching around the room in a circle the “right” and “left”s should fall on the appropriate footsteps. You do a little skip on “woopsidoo” to reset, otherwise you’d end up on the wrong feet the next time round – just so you know).

The parallels to the Gingerbread jingle are obvious.

As is the effect this bizzare activity had on growing minds – it’s 16 years later and I still recall the damn thing word for word!

Tapping into the Zeitgeist

A personal experience of channeling Russian cinema.

Some months ago while on the train to work I had a sort of day-dreamy vision thing. Nothing particularly unusual about that except that it was particularly cinematic and sort of stuck in my head. It was of a man, dressed in a long black coat, with a somewhat grim expresion on his face walking out of an urban underpass on a rainy night. As he steps out into the rain he gestures sharply upwards with his arm (while continuing on ahead and not looking around, as if he expects this to work without checking) and the falling rain immediately reverses direction shooting back up into the sky. He continues walking along – grim, but completely dry.

After thinking about this for a while I decided that it was clearly a scene from a movie – a Neil Gaiman (or maybe Douglas Adams) type movie about ancient gods still living in the world today. And that was that really. I spent a bit of time idly trying to figure out which god – I ended up deciding it was someone Greek – but after that I basically forgot about it.

Then the other night I see a trailer for that new Russian flick Nochnoy Dozor (that’s Night Watch for those whose Russian ain’t up to scratch). And in the middle of it there’s a scene where a guy is crossing a road (in an urban setting, at night) and (with a sharp gesture of his arm) nonchalantly throws a bus over his head.

Now OK, there’s no underpass, the guy isn’t dressed in black, and it’s a bus – not rain. But there’s something about the shot that somehow’s just like what I saw. And from what I hear about the movie it is a bit Neil Gaimanish…

So, what does it mean? Maybe nothing. Maybe that I should go see the movie. I dunno. It’s just really freaky that’s all.

(Hmmm, on the subject of Neil Gaiman, Selma Blair’s right – she does look just like Death.)

Well how about that? They’ve interupted Frasier for a live telecast of the Mary, Frederick and the new baby walking out of hospital in Copenhagen. I mean really.

(For those who came in late, Princess Mary of Denmark is from Tasmania and hence the new Danish Prince is half Australian. I like that – Europe exiles her criminals halfway around the world, and we come back and RULE THEM AS KINGS!!!! *grin*).

The Worldwide Van de Graff Generator Conspiracy

Various lame comments about 1980’s Dr Who and the perils of static electricity in the office environment

You know, I’m thinking that I really have to buy a ring.

No, I’m not planning to propose to anyone and neither am I considering a George Costanza style ‘pretending to be married to attract women’ scam. It’s because of a somewhat painful situation that has arisen at the office – a situation that can only reasonably be solved by means of jewelery. I am talking of course of that most pernicious of physical phenomena, static electricity.

Not that long ago Dale got an ergonomics expert to come in and assess the office – apparently on the grounds that she’s a member of some kind of business group he’s in and therefore cheap. After some poorly concealed gasping in horror at our work environment she proceeded to explain how everything we were doing was wrong and we were all going to end up as bitter, hunchbacked old men with osteoperosis and no hair because of our chunky old CRT monitors and far too comfortable chairs. She also made us do a variety of highly unnatural stretches and told me to get rid of the ‘clutter’ on my desk because it was bad feng-shui*Oh, all right she didn’t, I made that up, but she did say I should get rid of it because no one likes working in clutter, which I though was terribly presumptive of her.. Then she handed out some photocopied brochures on ‘Good Work Practice’ and fled before our dangerous working conditions could give her the plague.

Now that’s the kind of thing you have to put up with in business, fair enough, and at least it meant we could sit around looking attentive for an hour or so rather than working, but Dale seemed to take it all rather to heart. Hence a few days later he went out and bought me a new chair*Bevan’s was actually assessed as OK by the ergonomics lady, and presumably Dale feels that he’s unlikely to sue himself over unsafe working conditions. . This was purchased at enormous expense from an ergonomics centre and was specially designed to properly support and protect the human body – which would no doubt explain why for the first two weeks sitting in it I was in a state of constant agony. My bones eventually reshaped themselves however, and it is now quite comfortable – even though my feet do seem to have turned inwards for some reason.

But – and here we find the crux of my case – comfortable as it is, sitting in it seems to generate absolutely massive amounts of static charge. Whenever I get up to use the facilities, or answer the phone, or wave my arms wildly in horror at the suggestions of a client I shoot a large, crackling electrical discharge into the first metal object I touch, or even pass within a foot of. And the longer I’ve been sitting the stronger the discharge is. The phenomena is so consistent that I’m begining to suspect there’s a miniature Van de Graff generator hidden in the gas lift mechanism of my oh-so-ergonomic chair (either that or I’m turning into that guy from The Misfits of Science).

I wouldn’t mind it except for one fact – static electrical discharge hurts damn it! OK, sure a small spark is nothing to whine about, but we’re not talking about small sparks, we’re talking about great pulsing gouts of raw electrical energy shooting out of my fingertips without provocation. So, obviously I need a ring.

Why you ask? Because if I was wearing a ring of suitably conductive material I could earth myself by tapping it against any convenient block of metal, and because the electricity would be arcing from the ring and not my nerves it wouldn’t hurt! (And also I think it would look kind of cool :).

So yeah, on the lookout for a suitably conductive (and cheap) ring.

There’s plenty of other stuff I could blog about, but it’s 4:59pm on a Friday and I’m still at the office, so I thought I’d finish up with some inane comments about Dr Who instead.

Thoughts on watching Dr Who: Arc of Infitnity

  1. From certain angles that ergon thing is damn creepy.
  2. With that new haircut Janet Fielding actually looks kind of cute (even if she still sounds like Pauline Hanson).
  3. Time Lord interior decor just gets worse doesn’t it?

Thoughts on watching Dr Who: Snakedance

  1. It’s Martin Clunes! And he can’t act!
  2. Neither can Janet Fielding for that matter – or maybe hamming it up unbearably is one of those ‘physical signs’ of Mara possession?
  3. “Look at me! Look at Me!” – Kath and Kim or the Mara? You decide.

Thoughts on watching Dr Who: Mawdryn Undead

  1. Mark Strickson is way too old to portray a school student – even an alien one.
  2. Without his moustache the Brigadier just isn’t the Brigadier!
  3. The Black Guardian may be the most powerful negative force in the universe, but that’s still no excuse for carrying on like the top-hatted villain in a Victorian melodrama – “I am evil! The Doctor is good! Mwahahahaha!” – I mean really!
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