Monthly Archives: April 2007

Is this some kind of a joke?

A man walks into a bar and says, “Ouch”, it was an iron bar.

He goes up to the bar and says, I’ll have a “wool setting”.

The bartender says, “I can’t do that, I’ll crease up.”

The man says, “is that irony?”

“No,” says the bartender, “our barmaid Alanis Morissette, handles that”.

“It’s Unfortunate”.

“Yes,” says the bartender, “would you like to order a beverage?”

“No, I’m waiting for my friends the Scotsman and the Irishman.”

“Is this some kind of a joke?”

“No. But I’ll take some of these peanuts, they look like they would go with my suit.”

“Well they are complementary.”

“Is that the best you can do?”, says the man.

“Well I thought it was excellent,” say the peanuts.

“Look, can you move out of the way,” says a horse, “I’d really like a drink.

“Okay,” says the Englishman, “but why the long face.”

“Because I’m a horse”, whispers the horse.

“I can hardly hear you,” says the bartender.”

“Yes, I’m a bit horse. And I’ve got a frog in my throat.”

“Well let him out and see what he wants,” says the bartender.

The frog hops out and jumps on the bar and says, “I’m a prince, one kiss from a beautiful maiden and I will return to my true form”.

Alanis Morissette, on hearing this quickly grabs the frog and sticks it in her pocket.

“Oh, you seem a bit desperate,” whispers the horse.

“Oh no,” says Alanis, “just think of all of the money I can make from a talking frog”.

“I know, tell me about it, my mate the panda will be along in a moment, I’m only friends with him because he gets all The Cure and Kiss albums at knock down prices.”

“Oh he’s not coming here is he,” wails the barman, “with his big pauses, I hate the way he can never finish a sentence.”

“Look, I’m a member of Greenpeace,” says the frog, “and I resent you whaling in public. Also I don’t see what’s so wrong with probation, everyone deserves a second chance.”

“Probation,” whispers the horse, “did somebody mention probation – don’t tell me the eagle is coming tonight, he talks in such convoluted sentences, each of them having such long claws.”

“No, he’s not coming, the jump leads aren’t coming (in case they start something), the fonts aren’t coming (we don’t serve their type in here) and Shakespeare’s not coming – he’s bard.”, says the bardtender.

“You know who I feel sorry for,” says Alanis, “it’s the life-timers, the complete drunks who seem to always be here no matter what time of the day or night it is. Like that male rabbit.”

“Yes,” says the bartender, “the buck stops here. You might feel sorry for him, but what about my regulars when the neutron comes in? I mean with him there’s always no charge.”

“Are you sure he doesn’t have to pay,” asks the Englishman?

“Yes,” pipes up the positron, “I’m positive”.

Just as he’s saying this the dog walks in and says, “I think I’ll have some water”.

“Water, why not a proper drink, is something wrong?” says the bartender.

“Yeah, I’m feeling a bit ruff.”

“Anyway,” says the Englishman, “my friends don’t look like they’re coming. So maybe I’ll leave.”

“You can’t go without a drink,” says the barman, “why not have one for the road?”

The Englishman says, “no”, and tucks his tarmac back in his pocket and adds, “Well I would stay, but this place is a bit of a zoo.”

Continual Mistakes

As long (or even short) time readers of gamboling will know I have a rather casual acquaintance with grammar. We have never really been friends, I know about grammar, grammar doesn’t know about me, and that annoys me. So I don’t waste too much of my precious time on something that never returns my calls.

I mention all of this because after my post on the subject of five items or fewer Nick asked me to prove why it made a difference and after thinking about it for a bit I think that a) I can’t and b) I don’t care. Nick has exactly nailed the point that I’ve been arguing for years with Kris that most of the things that the grammar Nazis* complain about doesn’t actually matter for sense.

I mean I know that in reality, as I did in that article, you can explain the difference between the two words. And I know that when I see a van which says, “warning this van continuously stops” I laugh because of course that would mean that it can’t ever move. But I still know what it means. I don’t just know “what it’s supposed to mean” I actually know “what it means”. I appreciate the wrongness after I appreciate the meaning. Therefore to all intents and purposes** I know exactly what it means.

So, I apologise for the post. Kris has his own blog, he can write his own grammar based posts from here on in. And while we are at it this is probably also a lot like the kind of post that Kris might write too: Cul de Sac as the story about the derivation of Cul de Sac is one he told me.

* I was going to, as a joke, write “grammar Natzi’s” but my credentials are probably so low you might think it was an accident so I didn’t.

** But clich├ęs are right out.

Rooting Around – Part 3

[This is part 3 of the 4 part short story Rooting Around, you may want to read Part 1 and Part 2 if you haven’t already]

Sean was fully awake now, looking at this box. Could it actually be true? A time machine? It seemed so far fetched. He suddenly realised he’d just been sitting there staring at it. He tore his gaze away from the box for a second. He tried to digest what it could really be, or even if it was real. He looked back, it was still there. He was so unsure of what it could be that he wasn’t even sure that it would still be there when he looked back. But it was. The cold reality of the situation was that the box was still there tempting him. Still there reaching out towards him. Calling him to use it. But should he?

When would he go back to? That question almost seemed impossible to consider. It almost wasn’t worth a question, the answer was so obvious. He would have to go back to that night – the night that he took Jen to the party. Could he just stop her from meeting his boss? He’d surely be able to convince himself to not go. He could remember how nervous he’d been to go to the party in the first case, so surely it would be easy to convince himself that his worry was founded.

But what would happen if he didn’t take Jen to the party? Sean suddenly realised that the only reason he’d decided to go to the party in the first place was as a last ditch attempt to keep Jen. So maybe it wouldn’t save Jen. Or at least he’d have to come up with something else really brilliant. But what could he do. Anything he thought of instantly gave Jen the chance to hook up with somebody else. Maybe the problem had come earlier in the relationship?

Perhaps he should go back to earlier and convince himself to be more considerate earlier. Maybe if he went back to the very beginning then he could make things better. Make things right for Jen right from the very start.

So it was decided. He would go back, maybe an hour before he met Jen, and tell himself what he needed to do differently. And with that decided, he got up onto his knees and shuffled forwards and touched the box.

[Tune in for the final part next Friday (or Saturday, sorry about the delay on these everyone)]

A man walks into a chip shop

And says, “Fish and chips twice!”

The man behind the counter says, “I heard you the first time.”

Five items or fewer

In one of my short stories from the other week (A meeting in the park) I used the correct grammar for the number of balloons my spies could expect to find in the museum. They would find “fewer” rather than “less”. This is something that is increasingly difficult to deal with in the English language because it is seen incorrectly all over the shop – quite literally ho, ho.

In Supermarkets there is almost always a “Five items or less” queue when it should, by rights be “Five items or fewer”. I do happen to know of one special pace in the UK where this isn’t true. Apparently the Paisley branch of Marks and Spencer there are three queues, two of which are labelled “Five items or less” and one which is labelled “Five items or fewer”. Maybe we need a group trip?

So for those struggling with the grammar how does it work? The answer is “Fewer” is right if there is a whole number of things that you are describing”. You can’t have “less” children because there are only a fixed number of the little darlings, you must have “fewer”. And to counter that there is always “less” time not “fewer”, because time is on a continuum. Basically if fractions are possible use “less”, if not use “fewer”.

So lets see how this works in my Supermarket example, here’s what I bought from the Supermarket the other day.

0.52 grams of Apples
1.2 Kg of Rice
1.25 packets of cereal (there was 25% extra free).

But I still had to use fewer, because even though there appears to be fractions in each of the items descriptions, each of them is a single thing. Well except the apples, they were unwrapped and really meant that I had 7 items and so I had to go into a different queue anyway, even though I was rightly sure that they would appear on the bill as a single item, I couldn’t be sure that the person standing behind me tutting would see it that way.

Another ultrashort today

RIP John: Incidentally, you were innocent.

New Lily Allen Album

As you may know lil’ Lily Allen has cancelled the rest of her tour of America to get back in the studio and record her new album. You know you’ve really made it when the Evening Standard puts out a billboard in your honour. But clever Lily has chosen a subject close to the London paper’s heart for her follow up.

Here it is:

It features such tracks as:

Yearning for 6 X earnings
My fake rate mate
Love in a sub let apartment

and the #1 smash single, Breaking your contract

Buy it now.

The question is simple

If you feel the need for a creator to explain everything why don’t you need to explain the creation of the creator? God was begotten not made they say, you’re passing the buck I say.

People ask me what happened before the big bang. And I can tell them, time didn’t exist before the big bang so there isn’t a before the big bang for anything to happen in.

If we’re alone in the universe then what is the point people ask me. Well personally the idea that people are still moral without God is the biggest excitement of all. We have created this paternal figure to hand down judgement upon up because the idea that we might actually be in charge is too scary to comprehend. But the fact is we actually are in charge, and so to pretend otherwise now is even more scary. The world needs us to think more. We can no longer rely on the greatest minds of 2000 years ago. Now we must admit: Daddy’s dead, it’s time to grow up.