Tuesday 25 January 2011

When paleontologists grow whimsical.

Here are the dinosaur names I have most enjoyed today.


Named after Bambi; because it's small, long-legged and 'cute'.


Named after the national airline of Australia. (And cuter than the Bambiraptor, for my money, but that might just be the expression this artist has given it.)


The only extant fossil of this dinosaur is a skull which the paleontologists who classified it eventually discovered had been doctored with plaster by the fossil-dealer in an effort to make it seem more impressive, and therefore valuable. Hence the name:  "from irritation, the feeling the authors felt (understated here) when discovering that the snout had been artificially elongated."

And my favourite - because sometimes the well of inspiration simply runs dry:


From the Greek, meaning 'Big Dead Lizard'.

Thursday 20 January 2011

Things I'm doing.

Thing One

I'm being a programme associate in just under an hour. I've never been that before, and always wondered what one did. Now I know, of course, I'm sworn to secrecy; but I can tell you it involves a computer, and coffee. Anyway, the programme with which I am associating myself with is 10 O'Clock Live, with David Mitchell, Charlie Brooker, Jimmy Carr and Lauren Laverne; and from what I've seen today, I think it's going to be rather good. It's Thursdays on Channel 4 from tonight for 15 weeks (though I'm not doing it every week.) I shall leave what time it's on as an exercise for the class.

Thing Two.

We now know when the third series of Cabin Pressure will be broadcast: Fridays from the 1st July. Still don't know when it will be recorded, I'm afraid, but sources close to, well, me indicate it's unlikely to be before March. (The delay is not my fault, by the way. It's not anyone's fault. But one of the people whose fault it's not is mine.)

Sunday 16 January 2011

Cheer up, it might never happen!

No, actually, I'm working quite hard at the moment, and getting a lot done. Why do you ask?

Friday 14 January 2011

If it turns out there's such a thing as a Trisketiger, I'll reconsider.

Today, I noticed that there is a village on the Isle of Man called Kirk Michael. The island's capital, of course, is Douglas.

Also, I learnt that the motto of the Isle of Man is 'Whithersoever you throw it, it will stand', referring to the emblem on their flag, the triskelion.

I have two things to say about this. Firstly, I'm pretty sure that a more accurate, if less rousing, motto would be 'Whithersoever you throw it, it will fall on its side'. Secondly, of the two new words I've learnt today, 'triskelion' is good, but 'whithersoever' is great

Tuesday 11 January 2011

Cats at sea

The Royal Navy used to actively encourage its ships to adopt a ship's cat, believing they were good for morale and vermin control, though sadly since 1975 they have been forbidden.

- Simon, ship's cat of the HMS Amethyst, was wounded by shrapnel in the Yangtze Incident of 1948. In recognition of his valour, he was awarded three medals, and promoted to the rank of Able Seacat.

- Oscar was rescued from the wreckage of the German battleship Bismarck by the HMS Cossack. They adopted him as their ship's cat, until, five months later, the Cossack too was sunk. Oscar survived, and was transferred to the HMS Ark Royal... which was sunk two weeks later. This time, Oscar was found clinging to a floating board 'angry, but quite unharmed.' He was renamed 'Unsinkable Sam', and retired to Belfast, where he eventually died, ten years after the end of the war, of old age.

- Beauty, ship's cat of the HMS Black Prince, was present at the Normandy landings, during which she occupied herself giving birth to three kittens.

- Unusually, the gunship HMSGB-7 was never named, and nor was its cat, who was known as 'TBC'. Which stood for 'That Bloody Cat'.

- In 1924, the HMS Hood did not have a ship's cat. It had Joey... the ship's wallaby.

Sunday 9 January 2011

It had better be a really GOOD free test pad, that's all.

That's...  a bold claim. I worry that in classrooms across Britain, scenes like this are taking place:

'I say, you fellows! I bring astounding news for the beginning of the new term! For years you have derided me, picked upon me, and locked me in the stationery cupboard against my will, but no longer! For behold: in 2011, clever is the new cool! So now, at last, I am your alpha male - but fear not, for I shall be an enlightened leader; bearing no grudges; and providing precious reading lists and chess tips for all, even my erstwhile tormentors!' 

'Oh yeah? And who told you this?'

'Why, it is emblazoned quite clearly, and with appropriate exclamation point, right across our new English workboo... ... oh I see.  Right. I'll go and get in the cupboard.'

Wednesday 5 January 2011

Almost Twelfth Night...

... I suppose that means it's time to take down the traditional Christmas Hatstand.

Monday 3 January 2011

The case of the cryptic socks.

Last year, I was in a show directed by a South Korean director whom, because I stepped into the show during its run, I didn't actually get to meet. Nevertheless, he very kindly left a gift for the show's writer to pass on to me when I arrived. Specifically: a pair of child's socks, featuring a cross pig, either sweating or crying.

As there is no pig - cross, sweaty, tearful, or otherwise - in the script, I have to admit I didn't immediately understand the significance of this; so I asked the writer, who is also Korean, if she could translate the text for me. She was happy to do so. Apparently, what the pig is saying is: 'My toes and fingers are shrinking.'

Ah yes, of course. It all makes sense now. 

Saturday 1 January 2011

Though what will they think we called 2000? Twenty Oh Oh?

I've just realised that, because of the Olympics, I'm entirely used to reading '2012' as Twenty Twelve; and yet calling this new year 'Twenty Eleven' still sounds odd and wrong. Also, I bet an anachronistic mistake that film-makers in 2090 will make when making films set in the past decade is that people will refer to 2009 as 'Twenty Oh Nine', because once it's out of living memory, it won't occur to anyone that we (mostly) went on calling it 'Two Thousand and Nine' for at least the first eleven years of the century.

New year - new blog policy. I'm going to put stuff up here more often, and of more types; but therefore some things will be quite small and inconsequential, like this one. Also, I'm going to start putting drawings up again. I did that once before, then almost immediately got embarrassed by them and stopped. But I really want to get better at drawing, and the way to do that is to practice.

Happy New Year!