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Comic book geek?

The dark knight returns comic
I have recently been inspired. Not often do I see or hear something that actually inspires me to do something about it. I have been inspired by Kevin Smith and Bruce Wayne. I think I might want to get into comics!
Don’t get me wrong, loads of things have inspired me over the last few years. The Olympics inspired me to watch it but not to go out and kayak (to be fair I don’t think I was the target audience for the inspire a generation campaign), great art can inspire me but that doesn’t mean I can draw and music definitely inspires me but I still (after 16 years of owning it) can’t play more than 6 chords on my guitar. Comics though… Now there’s something I can do.
kevin smith the green arrow
What Kevin has done has shared his infectious love of Batman and all things DC. Kevin Smith, for those who don’t know, is an actor and a director. He is Silent Bob in Clerks, Mall Rats, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Dogma. He also directed all of those and more. If you’ve seen any of those then you know his love for comics. He has also written for DC for both Batman and The Green Arrow.
Let me take you back quite a few years, not to my childhood, to when me and the wife, then girlfriend, were looking for people to share our flat. We had rented a big place and had only one income at the time due to one of us studying. We put out an advert on gumtree and waited. We didn’t have to wait long as about half an hour later we had a couple wanting to come round. They came, they were extremely odd and we ushered them out the door with a promise to let them know. We had a couple of phone calls of the same ilk until finally a normal sounding Aussie called. She said that her and her bloke were interested, they came over and they were normal (ish). And so they stayed for a few years. Why am I telling you this? Because the guy half of the couple was a comic book nut.
gumtree aussie rooms
Jimmy was a funny guy who was constantly hungry. He loved computers and comic books. When I look back now I regret not tapping into his knowledge and, at the very least, getting a comic book 101 lesson. Why? Here comes the list.
1) I don’t want to look like a newbie or get ripped off. I need to get knowledgeable about comics without looking like I need the knowledge. This is where the Internet comes in. I can research them in the comfort of my own home and can also buy them and store them on my iPad. I know it’s not the same as owning the actual books but you gotta start somewhere.
Apple iPad Comic Books
2) I want to know the best arc to follow. It seems it’s not just about which character to follow but also about which version or arc. Do I go for the new Batman reboot (the 52’s) or some other timeline? This is what confuses me the most. If I was 10 I’d take whatever I could get. Maybe having money and an ability to over think things is doing me no favours.
3) I don’t have enough time for crap. Seriously. All I want is someone to tell me what to do. Where do I start and where do I go after that. I’m beginning to think that I may have the wrong comic book attitude.
If you don’t feel the need to get into comics at least have a listen to Fatman on Batman. It’s a podcast (available free in iTunes and smodcast) where Mr Smith has various guests on from the world of Batman. The first episode is all about Mark Hamill (yes, that one) who voices the joker on the animated show. It’s funny stuff, even if you’re not into comics.
fatman on batman kevin smith
Maybe I’m having a pre-second baby panic or at the very least a mid life crisis. I do know that I have started to watch Batman cartoons on TV and that my 2 and a half year old doesn’t like them. I try to tell my wife, and myself, that it’s to keep up with what the kids at school like so I can relate to them. The problem is that she can see through me and read my like a graphic novel.
Enjoy your weekend.
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My 12th annual 21st birthday

It’s my birthday today (only if you’re reading it on the 15th) and I’m actually quite excited. The thing that’s exciting me this year is the fact that my little boy knows what’s going on. A bit sad? You bet.
It got me thinking about how my view of birthdays has changed over the years and what birthdays mean at different ages. A list you say? A list with a twist.
Early years – early birthdays are all about the chaos and confusion of it. A house full of family, as much cake and sweets as you can eat and a conveyor belt of presents. It’s the presents that I remember (maybe its a false memory as I’ve seen, and am lucky enough to have, video tapes of those early years) and the fact that they kept on coming. A conveyer belt of ripping, shaking and discarding before moving on to the next item. The other side to the coin was if you got the one you really wanted early on then the others waited for a long time to be opened. I love the start of ‘Toy Story’ when you see it from the perspective of the toy, the panic that new toys bring, “pull my string the birthday party’s today!” a shocked Woody exclaims. One of the best openings to a film I’ve seen.
woody the cowboy toy story
Primary school age (4-11) – This is now more about the party and a little less about the presents. At this age you get to invite your whole class and run around like nutter, high on sugar, for a few hours. The doorbell has never been such an amazing noise. The party food and spread is also very important. This is something I tried to capture in the second Squidge book. I wanted to write about Christmas but not all totally about it. I came up with the idea of the big elf celebration (they were far to busy and then exhausted to celebrate Christmas) being a birthday party, and who better than Santa to throw the biggest party of the year. Here’s a little excerpt.

Now, if you are an elf, then Santa’s birthday party is the best time of the year. Elves don’t really celebrate Christmas like us because they have no time to prepare. Christmas takes a lot of hard work to make great and the elves are too busy making toys. Santa knows this and so makes sure that all of the elves get to have a great big party on his birthday. To give you an idea of how big a party it was, here is one page of Santa’s party preparation list:

 

Jelly and ice cream

Crisps (all flavours, shapes and sizes)

Donuts (jam and chocolate)

Fizzy drinks

Sweets (soft, hard and chewy and all the colours of the rainbow)

Sausage rolls

Pizza (one of each topping and 2 pepperoni as its Santa’s favourite)

Jam sandwiches (with the crusts cut off)

Ham sandwiches (with the crusts left on)

Balloons (the ones that float)

Streamers

A Piñata (full of marshmallows so they don’t hurt you when they fall out)

A gigantic birthday cake (must be chocolate sponge with chocolate icing and chocolate buttons)

 

And there are 20 more pages just like this one. I bet if you can think of something you would like to have at a party, you would find it on Santa’s party list.

squidge Christmas elf

Teenage years – as you get a bit older the party at your house, with the cake and cliche, just won’t cut it. It’s a time in your life when it’s all about you. I want this, I want that, and so on. You want one big present (usually very expensive) and a cool party at the bowling ally, swimming pool, fast food restaurant, quasar (look it up kids) or cinema. What you don’t realise is the expense. Your parents have to pay for the lot. At 13 or 14 though you don’t really care or consider it.
Early 20’s – clothes and a pub. It really is that simple. You can legally drink and you wanna look good doing it. The choice of pub though is very important. You want somewhere cheap, and that usually means a chain, but you also you want somewhere with atmosphere and that means expensive. Do you go to the local or somewhere different. These decisions are very important in your early 20’s and the clothes choices infinitely embarrassing when you look back.
the chequers billericay
Early 30’s – my 30th was a massive event. Bouncy castle, fancy dress (I went as a Jedi), old school sweets, shed loads of beer and pumping 90’s tunes. Everything from the Chillies to MC Hammer and all that is in between. This birthday though will be as the last couple have been, very low key affairs. A couple of friends, a couple of kegs of beer and laugh or two.
adnams broadside and bitter in my fridge
I’m off for a swim with my son now (partly so he’ll have a good nap and not be grumpy when my friends show up later) and then maybe out to lunch to line my stomach for the beer ahead.
I envisage a Sunday morning hangover followed by a fry up and many cups of coffee. Enjoy your weekend people. I know I will.
The final picture is of me and my dad at my 30th. He says he’s meant to be John Wayne, I think he looks Like Woody. You decide.
me and my dad peter
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Hello World

My blog today will be aimed at 2 groups of people, those who are new and those who have been here for a while. Allow me to explain.

To those new people who have found me through my article on Bucket List Publications I would like to say a big hello. Please feel free to sample the menu of topics on the blog. Here are a few of my recommended morsels…

1. A travel(ish) post. Up in the sky

I hate easyjet

2. A music blog. I’m with the band

the god damn disasters

3. A little geek chic. Why Star Trek is cool

spock massage

And for pudding, try a little rant. An open letter to my neighbors

If you still have a little room left, have a browse of the Squidge elf website. It’s all about the main character in my Christmas books and is filled with games, puzzles and even teaching ideas. www.squidgeelf.com

squidge elf

For those who are regulars in these parts, Howdy. I recently submitted an article to an online magazine with a pretty big readership. My article has been published and I’ve even been called a featured writer. Check it out whydon’tcha

My very clever article all about London link

East London the camel e2

I hope you liked the 2 for 1 ness of the blog today. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

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Why are ginger blokes funny?

It seems to me that all the ginger men I know are funny. Not funny looking or funny weird, but funny ha ha. It was a blog I was reading the other day (the ginger fight back, give it a go) that got the cogs in my head turning. Are ginger men born funny? Or does it develop over time? Is it nature or nurture? What I mean is, does the fact that they get mocked because of their hair (I’m not condoning it, just stating facts of the schoolyard) mean they develop a self defence funny bone? A self deprecation that led one of my friends to walk around wearing nothing but a box which said ‘ginger nuts’ over his own (they are a type of biscuit for those that don’t know). I shall attempt to use some other genetic examples to quantify my theory.

1) Are all fat pepole cheerful? I once heard someone tell a large lady near me “if you’re gonna be fat, you could at least have the common decency to be jolly”. Let me set something straight from the off, this is not an attack on anyone, but if you are big boned or fat, you generally have a rosy completion and a cheeky, chubby face. This, to my eyes, gives you a cheerful quality. I think we could call it the Santa effect. And to be fair, most large people I know are very happy and laugh often. They are also great at hugs, but I digress. I also know some real miseries who are portly, so this does nothing to help prove my theory. Next.

2) Are all short men angry? I’m not, but then I’m just below average height. And once again, let me state that this is not an attack on dwarfs (even though one was called grumpy) or little people. Many famous leaders where short blokes:

Alexander the Great
Napoleon
Hitler
Sarkozy
Berlusconi
Cruise (maybe not)

All under 5’6, all wanting power, all angry about being short. Napoleon even had a complex named after him (in the psychological sense, not the building sense). I think then that this is nature. And why do short blokes date tall women? Anyway, next.

3) Are all pretty people arrogant? Yes we are. Only kidding. I think that this is more a nurture thing. I know some very attractive/pretty/sexy people (I also know some proper ugly ones, just to show I’m balanced), and it seems that some are very lovely and others are so full of themselves that they become repulsive, despite their looks. This viewpoint is not one of jealousy as my wife is attractive/pretty/sexy, so I’m not jaded by being turned down by the gorgeous folk, I married one. This to me is about upbringing. My wife is down to earth and doesn’t know how pretty she is, those who have been told their whole lives ‘you’re so gorgeous, you should be a model’ feel entitled. It reminds me of a song by the streets, Fit But You Know It. As an aside, I went to school with this guy below (yes, me and David Gandy are the same age, and have surprisingly similar dress sense). He never got the girls then so I hope his late blooming has kept him grounded.

So then, what have we learnt here today? Not much really. I think that the ginger blokes I know are funny because they learnt, at an early age, to laugh at themselves. My hair is all but gone and I can now laugh at bald jokes, I think it’s given me an avenue of comedic thinking I had never really gone done before. So in that respect, gingers are ahead of the curve.

Keep on being who you are my ginger friends, I may not be one of you, but pretty soon I’ll have so little hair it won’t matter anyway.

As always, feel free to share the link, re blog or point people to my new (fancy pants) website address http://www.andrewauthor.com

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Up in the sky…(or the Boutique and Bistro in the clouds)

I remember, many years ago, smoking on a flight to America. I was 16, away with a group of friends (most of them older than me but not all over 21 so the drinking thing wasn’t too awkward) and we had 3 smoking seats between 7 or 8 smokers. It was the longest game of musical chairs in history. I understand why they stopped smoking on planes, I also understand though that the air is recirculated less (due to the lack of smelly smokiness), and so the lack of smoking directly links to the increase in picking up coughs and colds while up in the sky (and why do they still have the no smoking signs?). The point is that flying has changed massively over the past 20 years.

I also remember when you got lots of free stuff. Nuts before take off, drinks throughout the flight, snacks as well as meals, headphones, ear plugs, eye blankets (I think the correct term is face mask but eye blankets sounds better to me). Now, you get food that tastes of plastic, the drinks cart comes round every couple of hours, you have to pay for headphones, you still get the nuts but they are now mixed in with pretzels. I think that flying has become like a long train journey. It’s so ordinary and everyday that you forget how good it used to be. The following things have happened to me in planes over the last few years…

1) I had a leaky seat. Well, it was the ceiling really. It still worried me and made me study my crash card more carefully.

2) My TV didn’t work. This was responded to with the utmost malaise. The promise of a DVD player that took 3 hours, and having to ask 10 times, to come. The film choices were pretty dire too.

3) They ran out of booze. This one was terrible. It was a morning flight, heading out to the crazy world of Vegas, and so I decided to wait until a decent hour to have a beer. At 11.30am they announced that the bar was closed due to lack of alcohol. I complained and was told that some people were very drunk and rowdy…

“Good for them, I’d like the same oppertunity”

“We are very sorry sir, but we can’t discriminate on who we serve alcohol to, so we can no longer give any out”

“So you haven’t run out?”

“No sir”

And try as I might, they didn’t give me a beer. They also have flights where they need to have enough for the round trip and so cut you off at a certain point. If they can fill up on fuel then they can fill up on beer.

But this isn’t the main point of my Blog today. The main point is that of the budget airline. They have really gone the extra mile in separating you from your money. They offer very small items (of the brands you know, so you think it will be bigger than it is) for a very big price. The can of beer that is the same size as a can of Coke, the packet of Pringles that is a third of the usual size, a bag of chocolate that has less than a handful of sweets. Grrrrrrrrrr, here comes the rant… The seats are too small. The leg room is rubbish. You have to fight and scramble to get aboard to sit together. You have to pay for your bags. They constantly use the intercom to try and sell you stuff. There is no entertainment. They all wear orange. And breathe. This is all nothing new, what has changed is the pretension of these airlines. While sat in my small seat, waiting for the trolley, the following announcement was made.

“If you would like something to eat or drink, or if you would like to purchase some of our special offers in perfume of spirits, then why not take advantage of the Boutique and Bistro”

I have heard some exaggeration in my time, I am a man so prone to it myself, but to call the food trolley a Bistro and the duty free a boutique? Words fail me, and that happens as often as a freebie on a budget flight.

I am flying home today with the orange airline, wish me luck.

As always, feel free to share the link, re blog or point people to my new (fancy pants) website address http://www.andrewauthor.com

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