Thursday, June 28, 2007

Spiders, fish, and pussy

I'd venture to proclaim that most people are unaware that spiders moult. But they all do, leaving behind exuviae as they do. I have often seen an exuvia in a cupboard or something, and wrongly assumed that I was looking at a dead and dessicated spider corpse, when actually what I was looking at is more akin to a pupa from which a lovely butterfly has flown. Or summat.

Most of the spiders that we have in the UK don't leave very exciting exuviae behind. Tarantula spiders, on the other hand, oh boy, theirs are something else. As I'm sure this picture ably demonstrates.

You might be wondering why all this talk of spiders, and is it just an excuse to put a photo on my blog that might give some visitors the willies. I have to confess, I have recently been trying to get my hands on some tarantula exuviae, but having failed in that endeavour, I've decided to come clean about what I was planning to do. But not entirely.

There is a magic effect that I used to do, and have been thinking of re-introducing to my act. Without giving too much away, at an unexpected moment, the chap for whom I am performing the effect (I almost always pick a man for this, for various reasons) suddenly finds himself with a spider on him. Except it's plastic, and not very convincing. How much better, thought I, if I were to replace it with a tarantula exuvia. Much more effective. But there are none to be had for love nor money. I've tried pet shops. I've tried GumTree. I've tried contacting tarantula enthusiasts directly. No joy. So I'm sharing it here as a story of what might have been.

That brings me to another foray into the world of pets: fish. I bought a goldfish yesterday, and over the next few weeks, we'll be rehearsing a goldfish production effect together. In theory, there's no reason why I couldn't leave every table at a function with their own goldfish. Nice touch. Anyway, I'll be trying it out for the first time properly this weekend, and if it flies (perhaps "swims" would be more appropriate), then it's a big green light to The Goldfish Trick.

And finally, the third of the creatures mentioned in the subject of this blog entry, which is neither a reference to cats, nor to ladybits, but rather to me. When did I become such a big pussy? I remember as a child I would happily get dirty, eat sweets that had fallen on the ground, and so on and so on. I'm usually not too bad for the whole excessive hygiene thing. Sensible, but not absurd. However, I find myself really paranoid about getting any sort of contamination from the little fishy. So, when I change its water, I've been making sure the sink is disinfected before anything else goes near it. I've been rigorously scrubbing my hands after feeding the wee thing, or if the smallest part of my finger should even touch its water. What on earth is all that about? It's a bloody goldfish! It's not going to kill me. Yet somehow, somewhere along the line, I've become much more paranoid about interacting with a little bit of wildlife. This is despite having spent some quality time within the last few years fishing for snapper, and wading into a river to catch koura (fresh water crayfish), and then eating them. it makes no sense.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Shaping Up

I'm delighted to be able to report that my recent spurt of dedication to reclaiming a more svelt and becoming body shape is beginning to pay off.

Folks who move from the Anitpodes to the UK joke about an injection that is administered at Heathrow on the way in that makes your arse get bigger. There is some truth in this. I can't speak for Australia (although the bodies of Sydney scene queens speak for themselves), but certainly in New Zealand, it is much, much easier to have and maintain a healthy lifestyle. It's easier to eat out without piling on the pounds. It's easier to eat in without piling on the pounds. It's easier to make visiting the gym a standard part of the daily routine. It's easier to escape to the great outdoors and burn a few calories that way. And more people do it, so it's socially easier, too. You are less likely to find that friends and colleagues scoff at your healthy living choices, and attempt to undermine your resolve and lure your sorry ass down to the nearest pub.

It's getting on for two years since I got back. After about one year, I had gained about 15 kg*. As I approach the second anniversary of my return, I am happy to be able to report that I have now lost all of that extra weight, and the belly is starting to disappear. There's a ways to go yet, but if the next few weeks go as well as the last few, then strides will be made. On Saturday, my Lovely Husband™ and I did a Hulaerobics class at 09:15, immediately followed by a Body Attack class. The hula hoop class is fun, quite tiring, and can hit your abs with surprising effectiveness. Body Attack is really quite intense, and to me delight, much more fun to do as part of a couple. We were both a bit bushed after all that, but felt great for it.

My body was buzzing all day on Saturday, giving me hope that I'll get back to that marvellous state when I'm drinking little (if any) alcohol and no caffeine (which I gave up about 6 weeks ago), getting lots of quality sleep, and fitting loads of exercise into my day. When it all comes together like that, it takes about a week or two, and then I feel really switched on every minute of the day: sharp, buzzing, feeling great, full of energy, and very positive and happy. Okay, so last night was my weekly pilgrimage to The Magic Circle, and I find it difficult to keep that night completely tee-total. Even still, I imbibed much less than usual.

*Anyone who doesn't like metric can do the conversion themselves. Personally, having adjusted to using it all the time, I'm loath to return to a system that I never really understood, and wasn't taught at school. I mean, how many feet are there in a mile? And how many pounds in a stone? And do you know the correct times table to be able to multiply these figures easily?

Monday, June 18, 2007


I've signed up with the folks who run the Gay Wedding Show to perform walkabout magic during two of their events: Manchester and Cardiff. I'm looking forward to it. Now I'm just waiting for my paid-for ads to turn up on a couple of web sites aimed at gay couples who are tying the knot (in the civil partnership rather than bondage sense), and then I'm sure I'll have all the gigs I can handle.

They've already published the details for the Manchester Show, and the Cardiff one will be appearing shortly.

My Lovely Husband™ is also delighted because he has been itching to have a weekend in Manchester ever since he got here. And now we have the perfect excuse. Okay, it means I'll be spending a day on my feet doing magic whilst he's out exploring the city, but I did quite a bit of that exploring stuff a couple of months back when I was working there, so I think I've seen all there is to see. (And love it, incidentally. Manchester's great. I could live there.)

I've never been to Cardiff before. Maybe we'll bump into Captain Jack Harness, that guy who's a bit like John Barrowman, but really into the leather scene.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


I've done a Mary Queen Of Shops on my official magic web site, because I've finally decided to get the finger out and start looking for gigs. In a further drive towards consistent branding, I've gone for a look and feel that is identical to my new business cards.

There's a link to it on the left. Please feel free to have a varda, and let me know if you think it's lacking.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Britain's Got Talent

Unfortunately, it's also got a lot of vulnerable people with borderline personality disorders and no discernible skill as entertainers who believe that they can change their lives if only they are given a chance to show the world what they can do. They want to follow their dreams, though sadly in many cases, these dreams are predicated on talents that do not exist. Wishful thinking, no matter how desperate or how great the quantity, is no substitute.

I don't tend to watch reality television programmes. In truth, I don't watch much TV, period. I did catch up a bit of "Britain's Got MORE Talent" last night. They seemed keen to showcase the more ridiculous acts, and sadly, magic featured quite heavily in there, to the point where presenter Stephen Mulhern, himself a magician, decided to step in and convince the judges that magic can be done well.

One of the acts I saw was a chap who calls himself Flash. Although we didn't get to see much of his magic, we probably saw enough. What we did see was arguably adequate for a small close-up gig, but not for stage, and certainly not for a Royal Variety Performance. His insistence on doing the first couple of lines of the Flash Gordon theme certainly didn't help. Zany can be good if you can bring your audience with you, but if you can't (and he couldn't) you just end up looking like a twat.

He seemed relatively sane compared to some of the other hopefuls - even though his MySpace page might suggest otherwise.

One of the other contenders had sold large chunks of his DVD and video game collections in order to "travel in style" to the audition. (He made the journey by bus.) One has to wonder just how far he had travelled if indeed he had to sell 90 DVDs and dozens of games. The saddest thing about this young man is that he is determined to make it big, and thinks that of the three things he is currently studying (singing, dancing and some other performing art), singing is his strong card. Yet it was clear from his performance that he is tone deaf. He couldn't carry a tune if you wrapped it up in a Gucci bag and thrust the handles into his chubby little hands.

There was another, even worse than this guy, who groaned his way through a terrible few seconds of Shayne Ward's dirge "That's My Goal". Not only was this one unable to hit the notes, he didn't seem to know many of the lyrics, or to be capable of articulating those that he did know in a way that made them intelligible. Yet afterwards, he seemed angry - really angry - at the judges comments and reaction to him. Definitely an unstable personality there, and probably a mental problem of some kind.

Yet SyCo (the production company) will cheerfully exploit this young man and others like him in the name of entertainment, and the masses will continue to lap up this kind of public spectacle, in the same way that our forebears flocked to Bedlam to laugh at the loonies.
And so many people believe, like that strange pink-haired creature from this year's Big Brother, that to be featured on a show like Britain's Got Talent is to be amongst "The Chosen".

Makes a fellow proud to be a human.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Gag on this

How odd. I started typing, and Blogger starting changing everything to Hindi.

Anyhoo, in lieu of a proper post, I've decided to write down here a joke that I really like, and that I enjoy telling, but that doesn't seem to be nearly as well known as it ought to be (in my rarely humble opinion).

A somewhat puny man is sent to prison. On his way to his cell, he is terrified at the prospect of sharing with some hulk who will make him his bitch, and routinely molest him. As he is shown into his cell, he discovers that his worst fears seem to be coming true. His cell mate is a massive, brutal looking felon. Broken teeth, bad tattoos and scars add to the overall sense of menace. The brute looks the little man up and down, and then leers at him and says "Hullo."

"Hello," replies the little man, timorously.

"Do you want to play a game?" asks the big guy.

"Er, okay then," says the little guy, fearing the worst.

"What shall we play ... I know. We'll play mummies and daddies."

By now, the little guy is quaking in his shoes, and only a few moments away from losing control of his bladder.

The brute continues, "Do you want to be Mummy or Daddy?"

Suddenly surprised that there might be a way to avoid some pain and humiliation, the little man says "I think I'd prefer to be Daddy."

"Alright then, Daddy - come and sit on Mummy's cock!"

Friday, June 01, 2007

Wipe Out

I don't recall every consciously thinking it, but I suppose that when I was younger, I must have had an expectation that at some point in my life, I would have faced just about every possible embarrassment that the world has to offer, and come through smelling of roses. Today I learned that life is ever-inventive in its approach to developing new ways to colour my cheeks with the palette of shame.

I was on my way home from a brief trip to Glasgow. I stopped in at the gents to drop one off before going through security - you never know when they'll do a cavity search these days.

I don't make a habit of dropping the toilet paper, but it does sometimes happen that somewhere from hole to bowl, the kitten-soft layers go astray. It could be a badly aimed toss, an insufficiently strong grip, or the distraction of someone waving their noo-nah through a whole in the wall. Not that such things happen very often these days, and certainly not in our lovely, shiny airports.

Whatever the reason, the used bit of looroll sometimes ends up on the floor. Like accidentally tumbled toast, you probably don't want a used chunk of s*wipe landing buttered side down. Or Marmite, if you really want to take the analogy just a little too far.

Although I have lost the rag in this manner before, it was a novelty for such an event to take place in a cubicle featuring a large gap at the bottom of the partition that separates the supplicants to Cloacha from each other. The kind of place that featured heavily in my early, and with retrospect misguided, attempts to find Mr Right. (At the time, it was obvious to me that Mr Right would also sit in public toilets tapping his foot and sliding it closer to the tapping foot in the next booth along.)

It gets worse. My runaway Andrex puppy falls to the floor, landing face-up to expose where I had dabbed my lips. Man, that was one chocolatey cappuccino! Not only is it fully visible to the boy next door, but it has the audacity to land mostly on his side of the partition, making it almost impossible for him not to have seen it; and even if his eyes had not been drawn to its sudden appearance, the quick scrabble under the partition that I was obliged to perform would have made certain that my shame was exposed to his presumably disgusted gaze.

I'm just relieved (sic) that I managed to flush and run before he did, and lose myself in the crowd outside the door (it being a busy airport loo) before he could identify the culprit.

And there I've gone and increased my tally of log blogs. *tsk*