Colouring In

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Today I didn’t really have much on, well I didn’t really have anything that I was actually going to do. So playing with Marianna earlier she began colouring in the Spider-Man colouring book that I, I mean Santa, got her for Christmas, after about ten minuets of colouring both in and out of the lines, Marianna handed me the book and said “Daddy do it” so I took the book, got out the felt pens and began colouring in Spider-Man.

Adult colouring books seem to be all the rage lately, apparently they aid in stress management, however I did not find this to be the case. Being dyspraxic, my coordination is awful, my handwriting is terrible, I can’t even hold a pen the right way, so as you can guess colouring in is a chore, but my little girl asked me to do it, and by god I wasn’t going to let her down.

So using some fineline felt tip pens and a lot of internalised cursing, here is the page that I did.

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As you can see, Marianna decided to help with the background, but overall I was pretty impressed with my efforts, (about an hours worth of effort if I’m honest), I’ve seen worse colouring jobs in actual published comics. However, I certainly don’t understand how people can actually do it to unwind, I actually feel a lot more wound up now I’ve finished than before I began. But it was a lovely way to spend an afternoon bonding with my little girl.

Thank You For Smoking

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At the moment I seem to have a sort of love hate relationship with smoking. I haven’t really smoked properly since my daughter was born. The last cigarette I had was after my brothers funeral about six weeks ago. Today however I found myself really, really craving a smoke, it isn’t often I get a craving for nicotine, but this afternoon I was ready to chop off a finger for a drag. I know, I know, they cause cancer, they cause emphysema and various other health complaints from raising the likelihood of a cold to lowering the chance of having children.

That being said however, there are many benefits to smoking that don’t always get a fair shake, I mean for the sake of impartiality, surely printed on the packet should be the words “may offset Parkinson’s disease” or “may cause you to look cooler”. Or now that smokers are subjected to pictures of black lungs, maybe they should also have a photo of the Courtney Love, because studies have shown that people associate smoking with being cool.

Other benefits of smoking mean approximately £12 Billion a year in taxation coming to the country a figure that certainly helps pay for the NHS (at last count the money brought in from tobacco revenues covers the cost of smoking related illnesses four times over). Not to mention all the money that tobacco companies give to charity and cancer research, as it really is in the cigarette companies best interests to find cures for things such as cancer, because callous as it may seem, for every life lost, they lose a customer.  The money that is brought in, does go to good use,  taxation on tobacco covers the downsides of the industry and then goes to help people, it pays for hospices care, for benefits, for pensions, for social security, for defence, for the police and for meals on wheels. Its what pays for our children’s schools and creates thousands of jobs. I suppose this is my way of justifying giving in to my occasional cravings, and probably smoking way more than is good for me when I’ve had a bit too much to drink.

And to the rest of you people with nicotine stained fingers and ever so blackened lungs I say thank you for smoking.

Congratulations Mr Trump

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I want to start by saying that I haven’t really ever been a fan of Donald Trump. That being said I want to offer to him my congratulations. In one day as President Of The United States of America Mr Trump has managed to do more in the fight on obesity than President Obama managed in eight years of office, by inspiring hundreds of thousands of men and women to take to the streets in protest, Mr Trump is directly responsible for hundreds of thousands of people, estimated at half a million in Washington alone, going out and getting some much needed exercise.

Not only this, Mr Trump is also directly responsible for getting more people from Black, Latina and other ethnic backgrounds involved in the political process, which is surely a good thing. Especially given that yesterdays marches were predominantly Women Against Trump marches, this shows that Mr Trump is already giving women a rallying point in the male dominated political elite, he’s giving them a voice, even if it is to just shout curses against him.

I think this post reflects how my mind works, its a dark place. Especially if I can put a positive spin on massive protest marches, but my moral flexibility would probably allow me to take a press job in the white house if one were going.

A Gentleman’s Guide To Dick Pics

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Don’t, that should be the only guidance you need when it comes to sending a picture of your junk to someone. Several months ago I received a text, from what I hope was a wrong number, the text said something along the lines of “hey baby, good to meet you last night” and then underneath it was a picture of a penis, a fairly small, particularly hairy penis. My response was to reply to the chap “I think you have a wrong number, however if you’re going to start a dialogue with a young woman by flashing your gentiles I would invest in a body hair trimmer, some decent lighting and make use of the zoom function on your camera.

It made me think though. Do women get this a lot? Why and how has this become acceptable behaviour? I mean to send an unsolicited picture of your gentiles is right up there with flashing someone on the street, the only difference is the overcoat. I mean I could sort of understand if the other person asked for a picture, but even then I wouldn’t go for it.

Surely people aren’t all that easy, surely there should be some mystery, I mean I don’t delude myself by demanding wine, roses and limousines, but I’d like to think someone would work a bit harder to see me naked than “send nudes”, I mean I know I would.

Putting aside the easiness of sexual morals that have come with the internet age, there are the practical concerns of blackmail and or revenge porn. Now by pressing send, an ex with an axe to grind could potentially ruin a career and a personal life all in one fell swoop. There are already a growing number of documented cases of suicides as a direct result of this sort of thing.

This is why it’s safer to avoid the whole thing, even if asked for, have some self respect and say no, if your charm and personality aren’t enough for your intended, chances a junk snap isn’t going to sway them over, especially premanscaping and with unflattering lighting.

The Great Emu War

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The Great Emu War was a military operation taking place in 1932 in Western Australia, dozens of local farming communities, already suffering the hardships of worldwide economic depression, had come under attack by ravenous hoards of flightless invaders, who were hell bent on property damage, destruction and mayhem. These proud communities made up of decorated military veterans banded together and entreated their government for help, this is that story.

Extract from the diary of Major GPW Meredith- Late Royal Australian Artillery 

” Word came down from above, all the way from the Minister, that useless toad Pearce, that me and a detachment are being sent to the arse end of nowhere, a place called Campion, because a couple of the local yocal’s are having problems with a the wildlife becoming a bit to wild. It’ll probably be nothing, we go in make some noise scare away a couple of birds, then bang, back home in time for tea.”

After the local community appealed to the Minister of Defence Sir George Pearce, the Seventh Heavy Battery of the Royal Australian Artillery was dispatched to Campion, under the command of Major GPW Meredith, the battery armed with two Lewis Guns was sent to relieve the locals of their avian aggressors.

Extract from the diary of Major GPW Meredith- Late Royal Australian Artillery 

Day one in this hell hole, we spotted about fifty or so of the targets near to where we had set up the guns, they were a little bit out of range so some of the locals thought they would  be “helpful” and try to herd the beasts towards us, it’s safe to say the locals don’t even have the brains of an emu, what does it say when a whole town cant even herd a group of giant birds into a trap? we got a couple, but nowhere near enough, we spotted about a dozen or so later that day and managed to pick them off, but it was not a good day.” 

After failing to make a significant dent in the emu hoards insurmountable numbers during his first few days of operations Major Meredith and his men moved south towards the local dam where over 1000 emus had set up base.

Extract from the diary of Major GPW Meredith- Late Royal Australian Artillery 

“we set up position near the local watering hole. a dam not far from Campion, a load of those damn brutes were coming toward our position, forward estimates and scouting parties put the number up there at over a thousand, and they were coming right for us, we didn’t make the same mistakes as day one, we waited until their beady little eyes were in sight, then, BANG, we let of rounds left right and centre picking off targets all over the place, that is util the blasted gun jammed after managing to fire off about 20 rounds, it was enough to make those blessed nuisances scarper, and left me and the lads with a bit of egg on our face, especially as that chap from the Argus keeps poking his nose about”

After little success Major Meredith moved further south picking off stray targets along the way, but was still frustrated by the terrain and the speed of their quarry.

Extract from the diary of Major GPW Meredith- Late Royal Australian Artillery 

Day six of the operation, we’ve got through about a quarter of the ammunition we were supplied with, and the whole thing has been one damn frustrating mess since the beginning, first we can’t find them, then the gun jams, then they run, I’ve even had the lads try strapping the guns onto a jeep, but the land is so rocky, even if they could’ve got off a shot, they’d probably would have hit themselves, it’s no wonder the muckity mucks back in parliament have decided to call off the show, the lads put the number of dead birds around 250, I put in the official report to HQ about 500, but its probably closer to 50. That bloke from the Argus wanted a quote, so I said to him ‘If we had a military division with the bullet-carrying capacity of these birds it would face any army in the world… They can face machine guns with the invulnerability of tanks. They are like Zulus whom even dum-dum bullets could not stop.’ He said they probably wouldn’t print it though. “

On 8 November, representatives in the Australian House of Representatives discussed the operation. Following the negative coverage of the events in the local media, that included claims that “only a few” emus had died, Minister of Defence Sir George Pearce withdrew the military personnel on 8th  November.

After the withdrawal of the military, the emu attacks on crops continued. Farmers again asked for support, citing the hot weather and drought that made emus invade farms in their thousands. Acting on the requests of locals on the 12th November the Minister of Defence agreed to resume military efforts in Western Australia. He defended the decision in the senate, explaining why the soldiers were necessary to combat the serious agricultural threat of the large emu population. Major Meredith was once again placed in the field due to an apparent lack of experienced machine gunners in the state.

Extract from the diary of Major GPW Meredith- Late Royal Australian Artillery 

“I can’t believe that rat Pearce is sending us back in to this mess, I think this is one of those times were tactics and subtlety are going to have to go out the window. Looking at todays figures we picked off about 40 or 50 of the blighters, but were going to have to ramp it up a bit if we wan’t to be home in time for Christmas” 

Over the following three weeks Major Meredith’s men killed almost 1000 emus directly, with another 2500 or so birds dying of their wounds after the fact.  Major Meredith was recalled on 10 December, and in his report he claimed 986 kills with 9,860 rounds, at a rate of exactly 10 rounds per confirmed kill. He also reported that his unit suffered no noteworthy casualties.

Extract from the diary of Major GPW Meredith- Late Royal Australian Artillery 

” So they’re finally sending us home from this god forsaken place, to my dying day I will be cursed with what I’ve seen and cursed with what I’ve done” 

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*Authors Note, Whilst Major GPW Meredith was the operational leader of the Emu War, the diary excerpts used in this post are entirely fictional and were written, by yours truly, to make a mildly amusing, but otherwise dry historical anecdote somewhat more amusing. 

 

TV Review A Series Of Unfortunate Events

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*BEFORE WE BEGIN, WARNING THERE MAY BE POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD*

**SERIOUSLY, THIS IS A TV REVIEW THERE’S BOUND TO BE SPOILERS COMING**

***LAST CHANCE TO TURN BACK IF YOU DON’T WANT TO SEE SOME SERIOUS SPOILERS***

Now before we begin I’m going to hold my hands up and say that I have never actually read any of the thirteen books which comprise Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events, they were really more of the next generations thing, and in fact were some of my late brothers favourites.

The series itself follows the recently bereaved Baudelaire orphans, Violet, Klaus and Sunny, as they go to live with various estranged relatives, whilst trying to stay ahead of the villainous actor and their initial guardian, Count Olaf’s vile machinations towards the orphans and their family inheritance, all while trying to shed some light on the mysteries surrounding the death of their parents.

The series itself comprises of eight 45 minuet long episodes (a godsend when compared with the usual 24 episode series you get with a lot of american TV), which adapts the first four books of the series in a series of 4 two part episodes. A series of Unfortunate events has cast some real veterans of screen including Joan Cusack, Alfre Woodward, Catherine O’ Hara, Cobie Smoulders and Will Arnett all as supporting characters. Although the show itself is stolen by Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf, a true master of disguise and brilliant character actor, he manages to slip into the role of bad actor really well, invoking that old line, that it takes a really good actor to play a really bad actor. The way he goes into any costume and manages to play the convoluted and downright ludicrous is absolutely fantastic and he does make an excellent villain for the piece.

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Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf

Another stand out for the role is Patrick Warburton as Lemony Snicket, serving as narrator throughout the piece, his deadpan style and deep delivery really add to the tragicomical joie de vivre that embodies the show.

The children of the piece played by Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes and Presley Smith are a delight in themselves and really show a depth of character and to the show itself that, unlike most portrayed by child actors, may be safe for children to watch, but not necessarily aimed at children.

Overall the show is quick to begin, doesn’t overload you with details and offers unique and interesting set pieces and costumes, the theatricality can be over the top in parts, but I think its meant to be, and is a definite improvement of the soon forgotten, but never forgiven Jim Carey film version from 2004

Comic Review: Spiderwoman Shifting Gears Volume 1: Baby Talk

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*BEFORE WE BEGIN, WARNING THERE MAY BE POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD*

**SERIOUSLY, THIS IS A COMIC REVIEW THERE’S BOUND TO BE SPOILERS COMING**

***LAST CHANCE TO TURN BACK IF YOU DON’T WANT TO SEE SOME SERIOUS SPOILERS***

I can’t claim to have been a massive fan of Spider-woman, my only real exposure to the character came from Brian Michael Bendis’ tenure as writer of the Avengers, where for the most part she was in fact a shape shifting alien impostor. That being said I did come across the character in the recent Spider-verse crossover event, and I was pleasently surprised at the way the character seems to have been developed since. So when I got an absolute fortune in Amazon vouchers for Christmas, I decided I would catch up with some of the latest exploits of Spider-man, and the various other spider related super heroes such as Silk, Spider-Gwen, and yes you guessed it Spiderwoman.

So when I picked up Spiderwoman Shifting Gears: Volume 1, Baby talk, and about 30 other different comics, one of the first things that struck me about this volume was that its very, very rare for there to be a pregnant superhero. Superheroics are not something that goes together with the idea of a pregnant woman. Spandex is not something that goes well with pregnancies, nor does the idea of acrobatic fight sequences with alien super fiends.

However, that being said this is volume is actually pretty close to my recollections of being around a pregnant woman, admittedly I’ve tried repressing those nine months of my life, but like a war vet with PTSD those memories just keep coming back to haunt me. Things such as the diabetes inducing levels of niceness that people subject pregnant women to, to the way being pregnant just seems to invite strangers to make all sorts of, way too personal and way too condescending, questions about the state of your life and how completely unprepared you are for this massively life changing situation you know find yourself in.

But if you discount what the story does get right, it does leave a lot that even superpowers wouldn’t explain away. Most glaring is the super powered fire fight with alien invaders just moments after going through a non anaesthetised emergency cesarean section. The mother of my child could barely lift a cup of tea for a week after receiving the above procedure, even after receiving a boatload of morphine, somehow I don’t think irradiated spider blood would do much to change the situation.

The writing, by Dennis Hopeless, is rather smooth and flows nicely, it doesn’t rely too much on established continuity, which is good for the casual reader like myself, it doesn’t really need you to have read every issue that Jessica Drew, our ersatz Spiderwoman, has ever appeared in, but it does have a few little treats in store for those that are devotee’s of Miss Drew and the wider Marvel universe.

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Spider-Woman: Shifting Gears Volume 1: Baby Talk

The Art Provided by Javier Rodriguez is fantastic, its a lot less cartoon like than has become the norm in many Marvel books at the moment (Spider-Gwen I’m looking at you), colour wise the book seems to focus on some nice pastels for backgrounds which contrasts nicely with the sharp colouring used for the foreground and characters, it gives the book a whole vibrant look, that makes the action scenes pop and even lends something extra to the quiet character driven moments.

Overall I would recommend the book and would give it a 4.5 out of 5 starts. The only reason it does lose half a point is that the last issue of the collection, issue five (the volume collects issues #1-5), feels a little rushed, it seems that it is trying to set up a new status quo for the character before something new begins. The next volume may make the payoff of this more apparent, but until I read that, I won’t know, and that, is where I feel this volume lets itself down.