Opinions. Everybody Has 'Em.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Home Improvement...D-I-My Way!

Once, when Dog was but a 3-4 month-old puppy and already possessed of a determination to become involved in everything her humans did at all costs, Housemate and I decided to redecorate. Naturally, this meant Dog stepping in the paint tray, her version of ‘involvement’. She managed to make quite a trail of fuschia pink paw prints across the hallway before we caught up to her. After that we have always tried to ensure the vicinity of wet paint is Dog-free. Not always successfully…

Recently we decided the kitchen needed livening up and that we’d go with a ‘cheesy Italian-themed restaurant’ look, red checkered tablecloth, plastic garlic strings and all. I had no idea that finding a red checkered tablecloth would be so difficult. We would’ve had better luck requesting Rumplestiltskin spin us a tablecloth of pure gold. As for red matt emulsion paint…there is a chance that a local paint store might still be able to order us some from its Mainland counterpart, although ‘might’ is often employed in these parts as a polite euphemism for “ Not a snowball’s chance in hell!” Apparently our fellow island-dwellers prefer shades of beige to anything even remotely fun or colorful. Whatever, further excavations in the Land of Kitchen have been temporarily suspended. I am so devastated by this I needed a drink to celebrate mourn.

We did manage, however, to obtain black matt emulsion for the bathroom; after a day of trooping around town, during which we did a lot of elbowing and excuse-me-ing ( the excuse-me’s becoming a little less frequent and the elbowing a little more so as the day wore on ) through the heaving horde of wide-eyed and be-sandaled tourists disgorged from the latest behemoth of a cruise ship to invade our little port. Oh deep, deep joy. Especially for someone like me who has a horror of people invading her personal space. Every time I see one of these floating luxury prisons chug its way into our little bay, I remember that there is good reason why they have so many bars and alcohol flowing 24/7: thousands of people all stuck on a boat together in the middle of the ocean - if there wasn’t alcohol they’d all be chucking themselves overboard after two days just to get the fuck away from each other. Christ, the very notion of setting foot on a cruise ship has me reaching for the rum bottle. 
Even this would be preferrable to spending time on a cruise ship...
Everything went surprisingly well with the actual painting until Dog decided it was time for her to inspect our progress. Unfortunately she chose to barge into the bathroom just as I was perched on a stepladder behind the door, brush dripping with black paint in hand…well, yes, of course the door whacked the paintbrush and the paintbrush whacked me in the forehead. According to Housemate it looked like I had “turned to Catholicism and gotten a bit crazy with the ashes.” Har har. Housemate also reminded me that since she has the balancing skills of a giraffe attempting to descend an escalator, it should be left to me to perch precariously once more, this time with one foot on either side of the bathtub, in order to paint a hard-to-access corner. Of course, we forgot about my natural klutziness, and I dropped a tray of black paint in the tub. It looked like something BP might have spilled, and was almost as difficult to clean up. At least this time I didn’t manage to trip over a faucet and knock the head off the bloody thing…You try explaining that to a plumber!

Even the simple task of picture-hanging is not without its perils in our house. I’ve been a little more careful about my hammering ever since I thrust a hammer right through a wall once…well, how was I to know that section of the wall had been shored up and re-plastered? And no, I had no idea why there was a shored-up section of wall in the living room, nor did I want to know why, considering the dubious location of that particular house. I learned another valuable lesson this time around, and that is: when hanging pictures it is always a good idea to ensure they are securely hung before retiring for the night. Being awoken in the middle of the night by the sound of said picture crashing to the floor and taking with it a lamp, some books, and a couple ornaments, is not a good for your peace of mind.

And now I'll have to brave the tourist-infested streets once more to hunt down a fucking replacement lamp. Seriously, they call it tourist season, so why can't we shoot them?!

Jane almost fell victim to a zombie tourist who tried to make her paint her kitchen in beige.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

A Day In The Glamorous Life Of A Writer...

So, this morning I was awoken by the dulcet tones of my dog announcing the arrival of a parcel. It doesn't matter how many times I try to explain it to her, Dog just cannot see the difference between an innocent mail carrier / delivery person, and a horde of ravenous vampire zombies from which Dog must protect her feeble humans, mostly by barking like a maniac and charging up and down the stairs. Presumably her defence strategy consists of rendering said vampire zombies deaf...or something.

I may have managed to ignore this rabble if it hadn't been for Dog knocking to the floor a bunch of jackets and coats in her desperate bid to fend off the horde at the door. I couldn't leave those lying around ( much as I wanted to ) because Dog is also an incurably nosy bugger and she would have been through every pocket, seeking out and chewing up anything she could find, including any stray paper money Housemate may have forgotten to remove from her pockets.


Forced to rise from my comfy, cosy bed ( it may be June, but in Northern Scotland that can equate easily with November in many other parts of the known universe ) I stumbled downstairs and restored the fallen clothing to its rightful place. Then I fetched the offending parcel, and in the process managed to get myself temporarily trapped in the front hallway because the connecting door is a total ass-clown of a thing that just loves to get stuck each time I'm home alone... Finally free, I found my way to the kitchen and there I started a pot of coffee. Whilst that brewed, I opened up the cause of all this early-morning disturbance.

Oh deep joy. My long-awaited item had a piece missing - a piece crucial to its intended fucking purporse! Re-parceling the bastard and sending it back would've cost me more than the item did, plus I'd already realized it wouldn't be appropriate for its intended purpose anyway ( the walls in this house are mainly flimsy plasterboard and this was a heavy bugger of a thing ) so I decided to keep it and set it to a different purpose. That prompted a fit of tidying away needless shit and dusting of surfaces in my bedroom, and by the time I had done with that and remembered about the pot of coffee, it was burnt beyond drinkable. Cue much swearing and stamping around as I put on a fresh pot.

Whilst I waited for my fresh coffee to brew, I cut half a grapefruit and smothered the bitter thing in sugar. I never have sugar, or salt, with anything except grapefruit. I like grapefruit, but boy, it needs some sugar! Apparently I'm not supposed to drink fresh grapefruit with my medication, but I figure that means specifically "don't take your meds with fresh grapefruit juice", and not "don't eat a fresh grapefruit an hour after your meds"...anyway, I also figure if rum, beer, and the occasional Baileys doesn't affect my meds, then what serious harm can a bit of bloody fruit do? I put the sugar bowl away in the fridge afterwards. Because that's where sugar belongs. Not.


Finally able to sit down with my coffee and some cherry yogurt, I decided to check my emails, because they say we women should be able to multitask...Yeah, that's a fucking lie. And cherry yogurt spilled on your keyboard is not a good way to start your online day.

Heading back to the kitchen to fetch some cloths and whatever else I could find to fix the cherry damage with, I stepped in Dog's water dish. Wearing slippers. And no socks. Yuck. And Dog has the brazen cheek to look at me like she's wounded by my klutziness or something! Jeez.

After cleaning my keyboard and checking my emails - the whole time determinedly ignoring my wet slippers and socks and Dog's smug laughing at me - I headed back upstairs to take a shower. For some reason I took my empty coffee cup with me. I stood at the bathroom door, looking at the coffee cup and wondering why in hell I had that with me, then I left it sat on top of a bookcase to take downstairs after my shower. It was nearly 3pm before I spied the cup still sitting on the bookcase and remembered it was me, not Housemate, who left it there.

I intended to spend the rest of the day writing and being terribly productive, but somehow the joy of browsing the jolly old inter-webs for shit that I don't need to spend money on that I don't have overtook all such noble notions, and then there were those DVDs from my birthday still needed watching...and oh, you get the point, right???

Somewhere in the midst of this day, I made the mistake of using Poly-Filla to plaster in some holes in the living room wall made where I'd changed the pictures around and that created something of a mess so I needed to vacuum ( if not, Dog would have eaten the little bits of plaster littering the carpet just like she eats everything )...but the vacuum cleaner was full so it needed emptying and I missed the bin with all that clotted dust and pet hair and assorted carpet furth and I had to clean that up...and just as I was getting done with that, Housemate returned from the store to inform me that an entire box of cola bottles on special offer ( intended for mixing purposes ) had fallen through the bottom of a crappy Lidl bag and smashed to frothy smithereens...and dear sweet Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, if I didn't I just need a goddamned drink by then!!!

Yeah. The life of a writer is really glamorous indeed!


Monday, 11 June 2012

An Apocalyptic State of Mind

During the apocalypse, groups of people gazing skyward
will be a common sight.
Having watched the uber-bleak vampire apocalypse movie Stake Land over the weekend, I was struck by humankind’s ongoing obsession with its own mass demise by apocalypse. Ever since we began to ponder our existence, it seems we have been concerned with our demise - especially the notion of being wiped out en masse by some terrible, catastrophic event or plague. Even that most celebrated of mythical cultures, Atlantis, now believed to have been based on the Minoan civilization upon the Greek island of Santorini ( or Thera, as it was then ), was itself wiped out in the most cataclysmic volcanic event ever witnessed by the ancient world. Stories of Atlantis retold down the centuries by people like Plato and Pliny, were essentially apocalyptic morality tales - warnings of how the gods would punish the hubris of any civilization grown too powerful and too arrogant by destroying it utterly.

Centuries of Western historical writings, too, are rife with the fear of religious apocalypse a la Revelation; each crop failure, each climate change, each plague has been duly heralded as a sign of the coming Apocalypse. Then we feared an angry God sending His only begotten son back to wipe out the sinners and cleanse with a “scorched- earth policy” the very world that we had polluted with our ungodliness. Jump forward again in time and we find that world wars, the rise of dictators, and nuclear armament become the heralds of apocalypse. From the 1940s to the 1980s, as the biggest and most powerful countries fell out with each other and armed themselves to the teeth with weapons of mass - and mutually assured - destruction, we feared the end would be a blinding white blast and the scorch of a nuclear wind.

According to ex-prez Ronald Reagan, the most
frightening sentence in the English language is:
" We're from the government and we're here to help."
Today our fears of apocalyptic demise are rooted in man-made disease and biological warfare; in the fear that some dreadful plague will get loose from a government laboratory and scythe its way through the world population in a matter of weeks. We distrust our government and our military, imagining them to be busy creating all manner of nasties at secret facilities, and none of them in the least capable of keeping those nasties under control forever. Sooner or later their incomptence will reduce our world to chaos, lawlessness, poisoned water supplies, and random straggling bands of survivors struggling to avoid slavering zombies and vampires, hungry for brains and blood. Often we see these as terrifying, horrifying creatures that are organized, fast, powerful, and unstoppable. Sometimes we see them as pathetic shambling wrecks of one-time humanity, but no less dangerous for all that, especially if they’re in a herd. And it isn’t just entertaining fiction such as The Walking Dead, Stake Land, or Cormac McCarthy’s The Road in which we find these modern monsters of imagination gone wild either: TV channels are constantly showing us What Could Happen in documentaries about bio-terrorism; on the internet are scores of websites devoted to scaring us into building zombie-proofed bunkers and stocking up on broad-spectrum antibiotics for the coming apocalypse.

Where does this obsession with apocalypse and mass extinction stem from, what is it in the psychological makeup of human beings causes it? Perhaps we recall the tales of ancient civilizations like Atlantis and deep down fear that the same hubris will be punished when the “gods” which we have created today i.e. nuclear arms, genetic engineering, etc. turn upon and destroy us. Or perhaps that arrogant pride itself creates a need within the collective human ego to imagine our species going out in fiery, spectacular fashion, rather than simply, quietly petering out of existence. Whatever the root cause of our apocalypse obsession, for the moment it makes for some jolly fun - if occasionally unsettling - entertainment!
Once we were afraid of nuclear warfare.
Now we fear...
... zombie clowns!

Come the apocalypse, wearing shades and baggy coats
will be de rigueur.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Pride Is...?

June is Pride Month. So what does ‘Pride’ mean to me? Honestly, I had to think about this.

Being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, heterosexual, or any of the other myriad shades along the human sexuality rainbow has just never been an issue to me, any more than a person’s skin color being black, white, or green with purple polka dots has ever been an issue. I find it difficult then to fathom why others should make my sexuality an issue. That isn’t to say I’m unaware of the existence of prejudice and hatred. A person can’t think about the quality of fairness without being aware of those who apparently don’t think any such thing need be applied in certain cases of their choosing.

What engenders such hatred? Ignorance? Fear? Self-loathing? All of the above, I should imagine. What we fear, we often do not know, and what we do not know and fear, we may come to hate. Self-loathing comes in when we know, deep down, that we have no reason to hate gay people, or black people, or transgender people, or disabled people, and that our fear is born out of the irrational prejudice engendered by ignorance.

Then again, there are just some people in this world who are born fucking evil and can’t function without having someone else to hate on.

Pride then, to me, means knowing who I am and accepting who I am, and accepting who others are - differences and all. Pride is believing that we all should be fairly treated despite any of these superficial differences of sexuality, skin color, physical ability etc. Pride is knowing that underneath these differences, we are all human beings who bleed the same stuff. And if you don’t believe me on that, go punch one of those evil haters in the mouth and see for yourself! ;-)
Just kidding...really...no, I am...

Saturday, 2 June 2012

The End of The Era of Emily

So the Era of Emily Prentiss on Criminal Minds has come to and end with something of a disappointing whimper - but at least it wasn’t with the bang of a coffin lid this time! The double episode rounding out the Era of Emily was unspectacular. Not even the addition of Tricia Helfer as an eye-rollingly crazy UNSUB could drag it all the way out of the mire of mediocrity has plagued the show’s last two seasons.

The fiery did-anyone-die-or-didn’t-they? explosion closing out Part 1 of the finale was annoyingly reminiscent of the Whose SUV Exploded? cliffhanger of Lo-Fi. And although it’s always nice to see JJ kick some ass, the resulting fisticuffs after Izzy the UNSUB took Henry hostage were too reminiscent of Hotch’s battle with The Reaper in 100 ( miraculously, JJ managed to appear at her wedding next day without a single cut or bruise, yet I’m pretty certain I saw Izzy ram an elbow into her face at least once? ). Was this all just Erica Messer’s little homage to Hotch’s Greatest Hits? We all know she wuvs him best anyway. And what was all Erica's bullshit about " Emily might be leaving the BAU but she’s still going to be seeing the team, having brunch with them etc" - that’d be a clever feat if she’s running an Interpol office in fucking London, wouldn’t it? At least Emily did get to be a little bit awesome by defusing the bomb wired up to Mumbles The Clown Will - notwithstanding the ungenerous part of me that was thinking, “ Oh hell, Emily, just do what he's telling you and leave him there to go boom!” But that wouldn’t be Emily’s way. Sadly for me and fortunately for Will. And did JJ even thank her for risking herself to save the life of the emotionally-blackmailing, passive-aggressive, mumbling father of her child? Did she hell.

As a related aside, I find it interesting that for five seasons under Ed Bernero’s guidance, JJ and Emily were written as close enough to spawn an entire online femslash industry around them, and JJ never married Captain Mumbles, yet in just one season with Erica Messer at the helm there has been a distinct cooling-off between the two ladies. After the first half dozen episodes, they barely had a meaningful scene together. And JJ finally marries Captain Mumbles. I’m just saying, I find it an odd coincidence of timing.

We won't be seeing any more of this...

...or this.
I’ve always wondered if there were more to the Season 6 hiring-firing-and-rehiring saga surrounded AJ Cook and Paget Brewster than has ever been said, and I can’t say that the latter’s decision to leave now - despite Erica Messer’s apparently begging her to re-sign her contract - has made me wonder any less about what might have been left unsaid. But it is Paget Brewster’s decision this time and we fans, bereft as we may feel, must respect that and suck up our loss. We can also keep a tiny candle of hope burning that she might yet change her mind and return…For sure, the BAU won’t be the same place without SSA Emily Prentiss. JJ is a good character but she just isn’t strong enough to balance the weight of three alpha males and genius-boy all by herself. There are mutterings about replacing Emily but given the Ashley Seaver fiasco, any replacement would need to be handled very wisely indeed, and I have little trust left in Erica Messer to do this successfully.

For now, Emily's colleague and friend Derek Morgan summed it up best:  " I think I miss you already."
Emily Prentiss. A little bit fucking awesome.