Friday, February 24, 2012

A musing on Azerbaijan drinking games...

Aside from last year (when I was far too busy/lazy - dependent upon viewpoint) it has been something of a tradition for me to create a drinking game for the Eurovision song contest as I find that the consumption of hideous amounts of alcohol gradually turns the whole thing from unbearable, to bearable to wildly enjoyable (a theory which seems to hold for a broad range of activities, it must be said).

It started in 2009, and the Russian Eurovision drinking game, and was then followed in 2010 with the Norwegian Eurovision drinking game - both countries I was fairly familiar with and so could easily come up with vaguely stereotypical possibilities (bears and cossack dancing for Russia, elks for Norway, etc). But Eurovision 2012 is to be held in Azerbaijan and - call me a complete ignoramus - but, aside from knowing it was a former state of the Soviet Union, has a capital called Baku and lies on the Caspian Sea, I don't know an awful lot about Azerbaijan...

And, since it's only three months until the Eurovision song contest debacle kicks off again, I decided I should do a bit of research.

First stop - the all important national drink; the balm to soothe the aural assault that is Eurovision. For Russia, we had (obviously) vodka, for Norway we had Akevitt...and for Azerbaijan? Well, according to the Azerbaijan Tour Agency, the national drink of Azerbaijan is black tea. Black tea??? I double checked. Yes, it would appear that Azerbaijan's national drink is chay or black tea. Realising that no amount of black tea was going to be enough to drown out the horror of Eurovision, I investigated further.

It would seem that the favoured tipples of Russia - vodka and brandy - are still pretty popular in Azerbaijan so I'm going to say that any 40% proof spirit should be up to the job for this year's Eurovision. And, if you want be completely authentic, you can always looks out for some Xan vodka, which is made in Azerbaijan.

I'll continue to busy myself with aimless Azerbaijan related research in the next months to ensure that the Eurovision drinking game for 2012 is bigger and better than ever...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Seen on Ebay - A Succubus...

Some time ago, when I believed I had far more time than I actually had, I tried to maintain three blogs at once. In retrospect, this was never going to be possible, but I struggled (manfully) with them for a while before the sheer weight of work completely overloaded me...

Now, one of these blogs was called Seen on Ebay and it chronicled some of the, frankly bizarre, things that people sell there (including, but not limited to, Russian missile launchers, Demon Lords and life-size cow statues). However, while I've had to give up on regularly updating the blog, I still sometimes come across an odd item or two - and, occasionally, that item is so odd I feel an overwhelming urge to blog about it. Today is such a day.

You, see, today - in browsing the 'Everything Else' category on ebay I discovered that one can purchase a 'stunning sex Djinn & Succubus' for the low, low price of only $15,449!

With the seller guaranteeing that they stand behind the Djinn's powers, not 100% but 1000% I was curious to find out whether they were (a) crazy enough to believe all this nonsense or (b) just preying on the many, many gullible idiots out there (after all, they have already turned down 19 offers for the Djinn so far!). I therefore enquired about the authenticity of the item:

"I am fascinated by your auction but, being something of an expert in Djinn, I would like you to verify that this is, indeed, a deity of the Sixth Wheel or higher? My understanding of the lore is that only a few of such individuals escaped the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and such a prize would indeed be valuable beyond compare and one I must have. I eagerly await your answer..."

Now, I don't know what a deity of the Sixth Wheel or higher is any more than you do - it had, I thought, a nice ring to it. And as to whether Djinns were involved in any way in the biblical tale of Sodom and Gomorrah...well, again, I've no idea - I just made it up because it seemed like a nice bit of additional detail to throw in there. The reply was swift in coming...

"You are guessing right. She is a very ancient deity and as a queen, she has her followers, her servants. She is very loving AND very powerful. But that is just to say it in a few words. She is capable of doing great things. And beside of all those important attributes she possesses, she is very wise and answers to none(therefore her status of a queen)."

So, I think we can safely come down on the side of (b). And, if you're wondering how exactly a Djinn gets delivered to you then you'll pleased to know that it comes handily shipped in the form of a pendant:

"In this case the pendant is what she is bonded to by the seeker who then she accepted and gave privileges to. The pendant is the link for you to contact her. The pendant itself is not ancient, but old and represents her. "

So, $15,499 for a pendant. And not even an ancient one at that. I am, of course, very very tempted...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Woolly Mammoths in Siberia. Possibly.

A Woolly Mammoth. For purposes of reference.
A couple of days ago, The Sun newspaper shocked the world with (and I quote) its "jaw-dropping footage" of a Woolly Mammoth - apparently alive and well, and caught on camera - in Siberia. The startling footage (which you can view below) is evidence that will surely significantly rewrite current scientific opinion...

At least, it would surely rewrite current scientific opinion were it not for the fact that:

a) All the scientific evidence, to date, points to the vast majority of Woolly Mammoths having died out more than ten thousand years ago.

b) If you view the video you will see that, rather than looking like a Woolly Mammoth, it actually looks like a really bad CGI Woolly Mammoth. In fact, it looks like a really bad CGI Woolly Mammoth created by someone whose, rudimentary, knowledge of Woolly Mammoths seems to be that they are big, woolly, have four legs and possess some kind of dangly thing at the front...

c) The original video (sans Woolly Mammoth) has surfaced on Youtube. Hmm, I should perhaps I've led with that one...

Saturday, February 11, 2012

My phone has a mind of its own...

Image Courtesy of my phone...
My phone, or more particularly the camera contained within my phone, seems to have its own unique personality. At various times, activated by no more than the slightest of nudges upon the touch screen (usually when I'm in the process of either putting my phone away, or getting it out to answer a call), it decides to randomly snap a photo.

Now, over the years I've tended to delete these without thinking but I've decided, on the off chance that my phone is actually engaging in an attempt at abstractism that I've been entirely overlooking, that I should start adding its creations to an album rather than instantly reaching for the delete button. Thus, giving my phone a chance to fully express itself in whatever way it wishes in future...

If you want to see more of what its work, then you can see it here. Although I realise that this does open up the possibility that my phone will soon become such a celebrity that he may no longer wish to associate with the likes of me...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Just some end-of-the-week ramblings...

A not entirely realistic Rhino. Image courtesy of the BBC
Well, the 30 day writing challenge is all official and such and more than a few people have already agreed to join me in pushing their creative abilities to the very maximum this March. It has even crept into the Google rankings - do a search on '30 day writing challenge' and you'll find that I've now managed to edge my way into the top ten results. So, if you're one of those people who are stumbling in from the cold wilderness of the internet and onto the blog for the first time - welcome!

This week has mostly been about work. Lots of work. Towering piles of work that soar, ominously, around me and taunt me about my seeming lack of ability to plough my way through them. But, in amongst all that work, I've managed to get some creative shenanigans going on. You see, despite the heavy workload, I've found that the creative centres of my brain (which, for some time, have been refusing to talk to me) are suddenly doing their thang with some alacrity. Now I just need more spare time. If you have any, feel free to donate it...

And I couldn't blog today without sharing the wonderful story I ran across yesterday. the story of the Tokyo Zoo which has been conducting emergency drills to simulate the escape of a Rhino from its enclosure.

A rhino. One of the largest mammals on land. Weighing in at up to 4,500kg, equipped with near-armour plated skin and capable of running at speeds of 25mph. A frightening proposition, should one ever be in the position to have to try and capture one that has escaped...

So, how did the zoo manage to simulate this? How did it give its employees a taste of the raw fear that can only be experienced when something the size, and weight, of a small truck is barrelling towards you with its head lowered and its horn ready to skewer your most delicate bits in entirely unpleasant ways?

Why, they had two people dress up in a paper-mache suit and sent them stumbling blindly around the zoo while their fellow guards, skilfully, used nets and (fake) tranquillisers to attempt to recapture the rampaging beast.

If you want to see the video then the BBC has a most excellent clip HERE

I am sure that this is exactly how a real, frightened, potentially angry, three ton rhino would behave should it escape and that this exercise is not, in any way, going to inject an altogether false sense of security into zoo employees...

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Oliver's 30 Day Writing Challenge

30 day challenges. I've seen a few of them popping up here and there on Facebook; there was a 30 day song challenge (although I'm not sure that posting links from youtube can be officially classified as challenging) and a 30 day drawing challenge (which was a challenge way too far for my limited artistic abilities). But, I thought to myself, a 30 day writing challenge would be altogether a different kettle of fish...

But, in browsing the interwebs, I found that, although there were a number of 30 day writing challenges in existence, they were all, uniformly, dreadful. Rather than inspiring my to flex my creative muscles, they were tedious and unimaginative and asked me to write about things like 'roses' or 'my crush'. So, it dawned upon me that, if the internet was not going to deliver a kick-ass 30 day writing challenge then I was just going to have to do it all by myself.

March seemed like a good place to start and, frankly, I think March deserves it. I checked and, apart from being National Nutrition Month and Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, March is sadly neglected. So, I say, let's change all that and make March the month of the (kick-ass) 30 day writing challenge.

A writing challenge appeals to me on a variety of levels. Firstly, it challenges me to write in ways that are often a little outside of my comfort zone. Secondly, it's public, so there's an added incentive to actually produce every single day. Thirdly, I love writing and I hope that maybe, just maybe, one or two other people will see this as an excellent opportunity to sharpen their own writing chops. Trust me, it's going to be fun.

So, the 30 challenges are as follows:

Day 1:  A place that you love.
Day 2:  Facing the fear
Day 3: A genre you've never written in before.
Day 4: Dialogue only, please.
Day 5: Inspired by your favourite song.
Day 6: Second person coffee.
Day 7: A day in the life of your favourite comic book character.
Day 8: A place that exists only in your mind.
Day 9: El Diablo
Day 10: The Interview
Day 11: A moment in history.
Day 12: Your passion
Day 13: The place you grew up.
Day 14: In the style of a favourite writer.
Day 15: The road goes ever on
Day 16: How an event from yesterday could have gone
Day 17: The Ocean
Day 18: The taste of your favourite meal.
Day 19: The day of randomness - use a random page from Wikipedia to inspire you!
Day 20: A place you want to visit.
Day 21: First person blind date.
Day 22: Night
Day 23: Standing at the precipice
Day 24: The City
Day 25 A poem.
Day 26: Something you witnessed today.
Day 27: A snippet from a novel you want to write.
Day 28: Second person bank robbery
Day 29: Blue Powder
Day 30: The End

As you may have noticed, some of the challenges are pretty unambiguous while others are very much open to interpretation. March is, officially, going to be awesome.