Monday, 30 January 2012

It's All Greek To Me

Ever heard someone use that phrase?

"It's all Greek to me."?

No, me neither. But it's a phrase. A phrase which basically means that something is so utterly incomprehensible because of its complexity, that if you tried to understand it, your brain would spontaneously and immediately LEAK OUT OF YOUR EARS, leaving your brainless, braindead body as a twitching heap on the living room carpet for a loved one to discover several hours later. Nice.

Okay, slight exaggeration but you get the point. 

For me, conversations about knitting are currently 'all Greek' (see earlier bloglet entitled 'New Year's Resolutions'). So I try not to think too much about all the odd terminology and the fact that 'dropping one' doesn't have anything to do with farting, and just get on with plodding through another row of practice stitches without muttering instructions to myself too loudly (front to back, bring the wool round, back to front and off).

Greek, in comparison, is nowhere near as confusing!

Okay so Greek, when it's written down, does have a tendancy to look like a completely baffling, alien language, I'll grant you. However, I am willing to bet (and I'm not really one for gambling) that you'd be surprised at how much you already know. In order to prove my point (not to mention my hypothetical bet) I have compiled a list of words which we use today that come directly from Greek. And the first one you've already read three times on this page.

1. Phrase - phrazein = to express/tell

2. Philosophy - philos = love, sophia = wisdom. If you know any philosphers why not follow them to a park (they love parks) and shout, "You wisdom lover!" at them. Then hide behind a bush just in case they get angry about someone disturbing their philosophical train of thought.

3. Hippopotamus - hippos = horse, potamos = river. Don't bring this one up around horses. They take great offence to being compared to hippos.

I would just like to point out that words in this list have something in common with the contestants who get through to the next week on X Factor when Dermot reads the results; they are revealed in no particular order. So don't try to find a logical jump from 'philosophy' to 'hippopotamus', it'll just make your head hurt.

Moving on ... if we carefully select bits from numbers 2 and 3 and squish them together in a beautiful, squishy mess, we come up with ...

4. Philippa. The name literally means 'horse lover'. If you know a Philippa and she doesn't love horses, kindly suggest she changes her name.

5. Telephone - tele = far, phone = sound. Because when you speak to someone on the telephone you're hearing a sound (well, a voice) which comes from somewhere far away ... cool, eh? Speaking of phone ...

6. Xylophone - xylon = wood, and you already know phone = sound. So the xylophone is the wooden one. Anything else and it's a glockenspiel but that comes from German and I haven't received sufficient training to write about German words, so we'll move swiftly on.

7. Euthanasia - eu = good, thanatos = death

8. Monarchy - monos = only/one, arkhein = to rule

Monos also rears its cute, little head in other English words which we've pinched from the Greeks, for example ...

9. Monotheism - theos = god

10. Monogamy - gamos = marriage

Incidentally, the opposite of 'monogamy' ('polygamy') contains another Greek word ...

11. Polygamy - polus = many

12. Polyglot (someone who speaks many languages) - glossa/glotta = tongue

13. Sarcophagus - sarkophagos (yep, we pretty much just nicked the whole Greek word and plonked it into English, substituting Greek letters for our own) = limestone coffin/eating flesh. I think it is fantastic that they thought up a single word to mean 'eating flesh'. I suppose we have 'carnivorous' but that's Latin and therefore for another bloglet on another day.

While we're on the happy subject of flesh-eating ...

14. Sarcasm - sarkazein = to strip off the flesh. So basically sarcasm is a form of comedy which intends to wound the flesh of another person. Word.

15. Atmosphere - atmos = steam/vapour, spharia = a ball/sphere. I would love one day to comment on the bad atmosphere in a room by saying, "Goodness, there's quite a negative ball of vapour in here, isn't there?" But, because I'm not an actual loser, despite appearances, I probably never will.

16. Stethoscope - stethos = chest/breast, skopein = to look at. A stethoscope allows a doctor to 'look at' a patient's chest ... despite the fact that they're not actually 'looking' but 'listening'. The Greek for 'to listen' is akouein (from which we get 'acoustics') so it should probably be called something like a stetho-acoustic instrument. But it doesn't roll off the tongue particularly well, so they went with stethoscope.

I wonder if anyone, for a house-point can now work out what number 17 literally means ...

17. Telescope - ??? (answer's at the bottom of the bloglet - no peeking!)

18. Architect - arkhi = chief (a bit like arkhein meant 'to rule'), tekton = builder/craftsman. I think I prefer the term 'chief craftsman' to architect.

19. Pathology - pathos - pain/suffering, logos (which can mean so many things, e.g. word, language, promise, speech, story, account, report, statement, reason), I suppose here it means 'cause' or 'study' of.

20. Cryptic - kruptos = hidden. Though, judging by my poor success rate with cryptic crosswords, I could make a fairly strong argument for kruptos actually meaning 'bloody impossible'.

21. Epitaph - epi = on, taphos - tomb. You can't escape the ancient Greeks' influence on our language even after death!

22. Photograph - "But Becky, kodak wasn't around when the Greeks were wandering round in their togas, how can 'photograph' come from Greek?" I hear you cry. Now let's not all be panicky pandas about this. I can explain.
phos/photos = light, graphe  = picture/drawing. I won't pretend I understand much of what goes on inside a camera when you take a picture, but I know that the film being exposed to light is an important factor ... though maybe not now with digital photography, which clearly is just black magic at work ... Anyway, the important thing to take from this is that a photograph is a 'light picture'. How cute.

23. Astronaut/Cosmonaut - astron = the stars, kosmos = the universe, nautes = sailor. The idea that you could literally be a star sailor, or a UNIVERSE SAILOR makes me want to sign up to the space programme immediately.

24. Democracy - demos = the people, kratos = power/strength. Power to the people, my friends.

25. Acropolis - acro = top part/high point, polis = city. So the acropolis in Athens is just the top bit of the city. It's got nothing to do with the white building ... apart from the fact that it's underneath it.

[Answer to number 17. Telescope - tele = far, skopein = to look at/examine. Literally 'telescope' means to look at/examine something far away. Give yourself a pat on the back if you managed to work it out.]

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Dancing on Ice 2012 (4)

Week 4 already? Goodness.

Last week Mark (off of Sam and Mark) was the third celebrity to leave the show, leaving 12 couples to skate this week. Speaking of this week, there seems to be A BIG TWIST which I don't fully understand ... okay, I wasn't listening properly when Christopher Dean told me about it on a trailer earlier on in the week and now I look silly because I don't know what's happening. The gist of it seems to be that a couple will go head-to-head with another couple in order to win immunity from the skate-off. Gillian McKeith will be exempt from this due to medical reasons ...

No, wait, different show. My bad.

What I am puzzled about is a) whether all couples will be fighting against another couple (or it's just one couple vs another couple) and b) how the couples going head-to-head have been chosen. I'm sure Phillip will make everything clear but, to be honest, I'd prefer T&D to give them a required move/element like they have in previous years, rather than try to jazz things up with confusing 'versus battles' which I don't care about.

Anyway, good news is T&D are performing this week. So all hope is not lost.

Thankfully the introductory video answers some questions about THE BIG TWIST (which seems to be called, officially THE DUEL). Turns out each couple will be competing against another couple for immunity from the skate-off and they will also be on the ice at the same time as their opponents, sharing the same music. Jesus Christ, could they make my job of recapping any more difficult? It's already a mad dash to get as much information down as possible and now I've got to try and watch two couples at the same time? Thanks a lot, DOI producers.

Sigh, well let's get this show on the road. Judging by the following pairings, I would suggest that T&D purposefully selected celebrities of similar skating ability to go head-to-head.

Jorgie vs Matthew
Heidei vs Charlene
Chico vs Sam
Jennifer vs Sebastien
Corey vs Chemmy
Andy vs Rosemary

Chico vs Sam
Jayne informs me that both celebrities will start the routine together, then one will skate for about a minute, after which the other will take over, and that finally they will end the performance together. So they're not really sharing the ice as much as taking it in turns? .... Which I suppose is probably, technically sharing ... Ok, fine they're 'sharing' the ice. Whatever.
Skating to Under Pressure
Sam starts. He's alright. He's not amazing though and when Chico takes over he looks both faster and more in control than Sam. He also executes a couple of spin jumps better than Sam did, so overall I think Chico wins THE FIRST DUEL.
Oh apparently the judges aren't scoring tonight. So really this is just an evening of skiving all round? Only half a routine for the celebrities, and no scoring for the judges?
Oh wait, they're going back onto the ice to see who the judges are giving immunity to. I wish I'd been paying proper attention so this bloglet didn't look so shoddy.
Chico is awarded immunity.

Jennifer vs Sebastien
Sudden thought. Why is the show on for so long (1.75 hours) when they're getting through perfomances two at a time?
This week Sebastien feels uncomfortable with the dancing. He doesn't have a dancing background like Jennifer, see? Meanwhile, Jennifer is concerned about her skating ability so everyone's worried about something.
They're all in purple outfits, but not a matching purple, which irks me.
Okay, so they're all doing this take it in turns thing. I might be able to cope with this. Jennifer starts and she's a bit like the female equivalent of Sam - alright but nothing particularly special but HOLY JESUS she's doing the amazing splits-move again. While I pick my jaw up off the floor Sebastien has taken over and is doing so much better at actually skating with his partner this week. He also throws in a couple of pretty impressive jumps along the way. I think I'd vote Sebastien.
Someone have a word with the judges about rambling please. After a fair degree of faffing, Sebastien is awarded immunity.
Incidentally, I mis-hear Katerina and think she tells Jennifer she has beautiful lips - think she actually said lifts.

Another sudden thought. What's going to happen in the skate-off? The celebrities are basically skating to half a song so what happens when the other couple, who would be skating to the other half of the song, isn't there?

Corey vs Chemmy
Both were disappointed last week. Chemmy with her perfomance, Corey with the judges' score.
Because Corey is a bit of a twat, he falls out with his PROFESSIONAL skater who ACTUALLY KNOWS WHAT SHE'S TALKING ABOUT during training. Leave, just leave Corey.
Skating to Opposites Attract
Ah ha ha ha! Corey clearly thinks he is Michael Jackson. Unfortunately he is not. He sucks at both dancing and skating. He also seems to have braided his strand of hair?
Oh good, Chemmy's skating. Compared to Corey she's a veritable Jayne Torvill. She will be given immunity.
Phillip talks to Corey and partner after they performed and asks whether they are friends now. They leave it just a nanosecond too long before answering in the affirmative. Hashtag awkward.
Chemmy is awarded immunity.
Not Holly speaks with Corey after the judges' decision and, bless him Corey thinks he's now in the game finally. You're not. People only like you for your ridiculous strand of hair.

Back from the break Phillip and Not Holly actually make me laugh with some cute banter.

T&D are skating! Christina Perri is singing ... but T&D are skating! I love them.

Heidi vs Charlene
These two are pretty evenly matched and have both been in the skate-off.
Charlene is concerned about actually having to skate this week. Heidi is worried about a lift towards the end of the routine.
Charlene kicks things off. Does she remind anyone else of Dolly Parton? Without wishing to sound like Simon Cowell, the skating is fairly average. After a while Heidi decides she's had enough of Charlene hogging the ice and so rugby tackles her to the ground in order that she and Andrei can have their turn.
I don't really mind who gets immunity out of these two. I think I prefer Charlene out of the celebrities but I definitely prefer Andrei out of the professionals.
Heidi wins immunity.

Jorgie vs Matthew
These two got the same score last week. I dislike Matthew so I'm hoping Jorgie wins immunity. Apparently they both have difficult lifts to master. Jorgie tells me that in one of her lifts she is spinning so fast that she could take off. That's not strictly true, is it?
This is going to be awesome, isn't it? There are silver trousers and everything. Matthew starts. He even has the cheek to do that controlled falling over move. Dammit he's good. I think he's painted his nails, this is never a good look on a man. Jorgie takes over. She's ace but I don't know if it's enough to win immunity over Matthew. I'm nervous for her.
Damn. It. Matthew wins immunity. I'm off to sulk for a bit.

Rosemary vs Andy
Another two which are fairly evenly matched - first week Rosemary scored better, second week Andy scored better.
Skating to Baby It's Cold Outside which is a Christmas song because it's on our Christmas album. Why are they skating to a Christmas song? It's almost February.
I'm going to be honest and confess that we started dinner during this perfomance and because I'm a lazy recapper I can't be bothered to watch the last 5 minutes on itv player later on. Instead, I shall mention how much Andy looks like a proboscis monkey. Here is proof.

And with that, I leave you with news that Rosemary wins immunity and bid you adieu until the same time next week.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Dancing on Ice 2012 (3)

Another Sunday, another Dancing on Ice recap.

This week all 13 celebrities will be performing. Holy Jesus this is going to make for a long bloglet. Alcohol may be required.

How about a drinking game? Feel free to rewatch the show as you read and join in with the drinking. Okay, rules. Drink every time:
1. One of the professional skaters says words to the effect of "I'm so proud of [insert celebrity's name]. It's been a tough week and [he/she] has done really well."
2. Louie says that he's not concentrating on skating technique, like the other judges, but the dance aspect of the performance.
3. Tony Gubba (the commentator) makes a pun/slightly back-handed compliment.

Excellent. If we stick to the above rules we should all be suitably plastered by the end of the evening. Don't worry, I'll prompt you when you need to be drinking ... and I suppose you could have a soft drink instead of an alcoholic one ... if you have to.

Tonight's show is the first of the year to have a theme: movies. Personally, I'm hoping someone will have a go at the Dirty Dancing lift. If anyone does I shall down my drink.

No performance from the professional skaters this week, presumably in order to fit everyone else in, so after a quick reminder of who everyone is, we're into the first performance of the night ...

Chico and Jodeynne (Top Gun)
Christopher Dean reckons Chico surprised himself by how good he was last week. Louie thinks that last week's performance was too cheesy, but Chico assures us that this week he will be coolness personified.
Oh he's good, isn't he? In the intro, Jayne mentioned that Chico could be a dark horse and I'm inclined to agree: he looks natural and confident on the ice. Very nice perfomance executed well.
Judges' scores: 18.0 - that's got to be one of the highest. I can't be bothered to check at the moment.
Jodeynne's proud - DRINK (rule 1)
Katerina thinks it was the perfect start to the night, Louie says he has a loving feeling (nod to the song they were skating to), Robin says that Chico is confident over the ice but that there isn't an arrogant bone in his body. Take note, Matthew, I'm taking that as a dig against your "I have a dancing background so I should be pretty good" attitude.
By the way, in one of my previous DOI bloglets I mentioned that Chico is a love him/hate him kind of a guy. I think I love him.

Also by the way, special mention to my sister, Sarah, who is watching DOI with me for the first time this series. If she comes out with any corkers I'll be sure to let you know.

Rosemary and Mark
Rosemary found last week incredibly scary and says she was disappointed in herself when she, quote, "Had that little whoopsie at the start of the routine." 'Whoopsie' in my world = accidental wee/poo so I laugh through the rest of their introductory video.
She's alright. A little shakey. Probably because she doesn't want a repeat of that whoopsie.
Tony - "Is she the fittest pensioner in the UK?" I'm taking that as a back-handed compliment because he didn't need to mention her age - DRINK (rule 3)
Judges' score: 10.5
Robin wants Rosemary to have more confidence in her skating ability, apparently the way that Rosemary's excitement turns to fear on the ice breaks Katerina's heart. Louie doesn't see much of an improvement from last week.

Sarah enjoys the toilet humour ... 'Wind beneath my wings' ... 'let rip' ... 'little whoopsie'

Sam and Alexandra (Kung Fu Panda)
Sam is very worried about a backflip where he has to throw Alexandra over his head. He's also a little worried about looking like a twerp when he has to punch the air throughout the routine. Ah bless, the backflip at the end of the routine goes well and Sam celebrates before the end of the music.
Tony - "Well that backflip was dangerous ... but more so for the professional" DRINK (rule 3)
Judges' score: 16.0
Phillip larks around with the sound guy by punching the air with added sound effects.
Katerina thinks the performance was flawless, Robin could apparently see into Sam's brain that he was worried about the backflip at the end of the routine. Could you, Robin? INTO his brain? I think you lie, sir. Louie is looking at the way the moves are executed, not so much the technical skating - DRINK (rule 2)

Disaster - I have run out of alcohol. Hold the fort for a sec will you?

Ugh, Matthew 'The Arrogance' tells Not Holly that he should have fallen over in his performance last week because he was so good that it'll be hard for him to top last week's routine. UGH. Get out my face, Matthew.

Chemmy and Sean (Sister Act)
Because I was ranting about Matthew I miss most of Chemmy's video but she seems to be having a tough time. This is good because Sean will probably say he's proud of her afterwards.
What an excellent song (Rescue Me) and they're even in habits! I love it! Ok, concentrate Becky. Well that didn't take long for Sean to whip the habit off Chemmy. I don't know what she was worried about - she's a bit shaky but she's fine. The lift towards the end of the routine looked a bit dodgey but all in all it's ok.
Judges' score: 10.5 so apparently I wasn't paying enough attention.
I swear Tony says "You wouldn't know it, but she wears a death egg" What. The. Hell?
Sean's proud - DRINK
Louie commends them for trying the lift at the end (I miss the name of it) and accuses Chemmy of having very stiff fingers, Katerina says Chemmy is a pretty big woman and shouldn't do the lifts (oh holy mackrel ... #awkward)

Moving very swiftly on we have

Corey (and his hair) and Brooke (Stand By Me)
Apparently there will be Michael Jackson moves in this VERY SLOW SONG. This may look ri-donk-ulous.
He does look a little twerpy with his backing dancers, just doing some MJ moves off the ice at the start ... and actually when they try to incorporate some of these moves into the routine it looks just as twerpy. Also his skating ability hasn't improved much since last week. And he still has his hair so it's pretty bad.
Judges' score: 8.0 #ouch
LMAO Phillip has a copy cat piece of Corey hair. What a joker he is.
Christopher Dean is proud of Corey's attitude ... that still counts as a DRINK in my books. Louie commends T&D for working with what they've got but that they don't have much in Corey. Geez, this section of the show is AWKWARD.

Holy crap there are still 8 performances to go. Hang in there folks.

Phillip and Not Holly try to amuse me but their jokes are lame. Bring back the Willoughby.

Jennifer and Dan (Dream Girls)
This week Jennifer has some big lifts. She finds it challenging. She is having rib owwies and apparently hasn't been able to get through the routine properly yet.
Apparently one of Sarah's friends, John used to do this song every week at karaoke. He closed his eyes and everything. Because we were chatting about this, Sarah and I sort of missed the whole of the skating routine. Judging by the replay it seems to have gone well though.
Judges' score: 18.0
Dan - "It was a tough week but we did it, well done Jen." DRINK
Louie was absolutely loving it, Robin wants Jennifer to get down into the ice a bit more by using her ankles ............... nope, no idea.

Mark (off of Sam and Mark) and Frankie (The Blues Brothers)
Mark thinks he needs to start stepping up to the mark - ha! I hadn't realised the pun until I just typed it. Hilarious. Oh, I'd forgotten it was Frankie the shrew. Ugh.
They start off the ice, somewhat more successfully than Corey and his MJ moves did. Once they get on the ice it's a little slow still but I don't think it's quite as shakey as last time.
Judges' score: 10.5 they're happy with the improvement (from 8.0)
Frankie's proud that Mark did everything she asked of him - DRINK
Katerina thinks the choreography is very clever because it "Hides what is not there" I love this woman. I actually love her. Louie thinks Mark is a bit ploddy.

Not Holly tries to cheer up Chemmy by telling her that she's trending on twitter. Well that's nice.

Jorgie and Matt (9 to 5)
I don't like that she spells her name with a J. Why can't she spell her name properly?
This week Jorgie struggles to master the 'sit lift'. She is concerned because this apparently puts her about 12 feet in the air ... what, Matt's about 6 feet and then has 6 feet arms? Moron.
What she lacks in spelling ability she certainly makes up for in skating. She's ace. Must be the best of the women
Tony - "Well Jorgie has unusually long fingers." DRINK
Judges' score: 21.5 the highest of the series so far.
Louie thinks it was fast, fun and furious, Katerina thinks Jorgie is like a shining jewel, Robin likes the versatility Jorgie shows.

Matthew and Nina (Saturday Night Fever)
Maybe Matthew won't be as arrogant tonight. Maybe I'll actually like him. Ugh, Matthew has taken it upon himself to choreograph his partner. Go away. Jesus Christ, during training Matthew drops Nina and falls on top of her. How chivalrous of you.
They start off the ice. I'm bored of this little trick now. Get on with it. Oh bloody hell why do I always dislike the good ones? Credit where it's due, he's very good. Not sure it'll be good enough to beat Jorgie though.
Judges' score: 21.5 and he matches Jorgie. Least he didn't beat her.
Nina trusts Matthew and is proud of him DRINK.
Robin says the skating skills are brilliant, Katerina agrees. Louie thinks the energy wasn't there tonight.

Charlene and Matthew (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes)
I announce to Sarah, who hasn't seen previous episodes, that Charlene was in Dallas. My mum pipes up that she used to be known as the Poisoned Dwarf which is my favourite piece of information I've heard in a long time.
Again with the starting off the ice. That's enough of that, thank you. I like her. She's not really anything special compared to other celebrity skaters, but I really like her. She's pretty confident ... and I like her dress this week.
Judges score: 15.0
Matthew likes skating with Charlene because it's like "Working with a piece of Hollywood."
Katerina 'has pure enjoyment' from watching Charlene, Louie thinks the characterisation was fabulous.

Sebastien and Brianne (Donnie Darko)
This week these two are concentrating on skating with each other because of comments made by the judges. Good, because that annoyed me last week.
Hey, guess where they're starting, folks? Yep, exactly. They're much better at working together though ... but there's still a bit of him showing off what he can do rather than skating WITH Brianne.
Judges' score: 18.0
Sebastien finds it difficult to work with a partner because free running is all done alone. Really? How hard is it, as a human, to work with another human? Free running is a poor excuse.

We haven't had a DRINK in a while.

Andy and Vicky (Grease)
This week Andy's trying to look cool. So he enlists the help of Ray bloody Quinn? Bad move, Andy.
You know, he's not half bad, despite listening to Ray's advice.
Judges' score: 14.0
Jayne is surprised at how good his skating is. There's confidence for you.
Tony makes some comment about Andy's hair looking like Jedward. DRINK

Heidi and Andrei (Goldfinger)
Heidi didn't like being in the skate off. She is excited about this week's routine though. One of the Sugababes comes to lend moral support. Thanks, One of the Sugababes.
Holy bejeezus I wasn't paying enough attention at the start of the show. Heidi is in a gold catsuit. She looks stunning. Skating aint half bad either. She looks much more confident than she did two weeks ago.
Judges' score: 15.5
Heidi says she doesn't feel sexy when Andrei's telling her to 'get down on her knees' ... the audience realises what she's said before she does and there are several moments of sniggering all round.

After a quick round up of tonight's performances, Not Holly reminds us to tune back into the results show after 'The African Epic - Wild at Heart'. You just went up in my estimations, Not Holly.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Dancing on Ice 2012 (2)

Evening all. Hope you're sitting comfortably. If you're not, may I suggest you find somewhere comfortable to sit as we've got two hours of DOI to get through tonight. Two hours? You could fly to Paris and back in that time. Well actually you couldn't because you'd have to meet Mickey before you flew back and that would take AT LEAST half an hour. Anyway ... back to the task in hand ...

If I'm not mistaken, tonight we will see another 8 celebrities skating. Yup, the show's on for 2 hours and there are only 8 performances ... that's one pair every 15 minutes ... that's a hell of a lot of faffing.

The professional skaters are starting the show again! I hope this continues throughout the course of the series because they're ace. You know who's not ace? Pixie Lott. No, that's not fair, she's normally okay but something's not right tonight and she sounds like she's losing her voice and having to force it. Oh phew, Phillip and Not-Holly have turned up to introduce the celebrities and we don't have to listen to Pixie any longer. Well done, you two.

Not-Holly goes to have a little chat with the judges and oh dear lord I've only just taken notice of her hair tonight. She's tried to copy Katerina's from last week but it's not worked, it's not worked! Take it away!

Jennifer and Dan
Right, immediately I foresee issues with these two. Not because of anything they've said or done, but because she reminds me of Kerry Katona and that is just NOT GOOD.
Wow, that girl can do the splits! I like this routine, it's very cute. Bit safe but it's nice. Yep, I think the word for it is nice. Considering people who have been partnered with Dan in the past have tended towards being carried around the rink, Jennifer's doing a good job of skating.
Tony informs me the routine ended with a 'scorpion kiss'. If you say so, Gubba.
Judges' score: 15.5. Only Chemmy and Jorgie scored higher last week (16.0 and 18.5 respectively if you were wondering).

Sam and Alexandra
(The other one off of Sam and Mark)
Straight away we're in Dad Dancing territory, so I therefore love him. Speed over the ice isn't great but he's doing quite a lot on his own and there are some pretty tricky elements ... if this doesn't earn him a better score than Mark last week, I'll eat my shoe.
Judges' score: 15.5 (Mark scored 8.0). Louie feels Sam could really progress in the competition, Robin is impressed with Sam's confidence.

Rosemary and Mark
Two quick facts for you.
1. This is apparently the fulfilment of a dream for Rosemary.
2. Her skating partner thinks she seems like the perfect grandmother.
She's going to be the one who gets a slow routine every week, isn't she? Although, having said that, there's quite a stumble at the start of the routine and she may not actually make it through to future weeks of the competition ...
For the rest of the routine she seems to relax and, all in all, apart from the stumble at the beginning, it is alright.
Judges' score: 12.5
Rosemary informs us it's a huge privilege for her to be on the show because (and I quote), "It's the greatest show on Earth" Word, Rosemary, word.
Louie is thankful for the early stumble because it made Rosemary relax, Katerina thinks Rosemary is an inspiration. Basically everyone is ever so impressed that Rosemary is 65 and still looks as good as she does.

Laila and Lukasz
The VT puts a lot of emphasis on an early shoulder injury which puts Laila back a number of weeks, so I'm not expecting much from this performance.
She's singing along to the song! I love her for it. It's not the same standard as others in the competition but, you know what, it's more than I could do, so good on you, Laila. I hope you get through to next week.
Judges' score: 9.5

Sebastien and Brianne
Apparently this guy was the founder of free-running so I am expecting experimentally fantastic things from him.
It's good ... in a kind of 'he's added lots of his own ideas regardless of what Torvill and Dean have said' kind of a way. And that irks me. Also, the worries in the VT of him not realising it's a team sport show through in the routine because, at times, it looks like he doesn't realise Brianne is on the ice with him.
Judges' score: 17.5
Louie likes the separation in the routine because it's contemporary, so clearly I'm wrong.

Chico and Jodeyne
Chico is one of those people whom you either love or hate. Haven't made my mind up yet. I'll get back to you.
He's good. I don't feel nervous watching him, which is always a bonus for the first week. He's also fairly speedy and judging by the footage on the VT, he's a fast learner.
Tony: "If his talent matched his confidence he'd be an Olympic champion."
Judges' score: 18.5 That's the same as Jorgie last week. I thought it was good but not THAT good. Goodness.
Katerina picks up on an earlier comment about Chico being a horse in a race and not wanting to fall at the final hurdle, by saying that he has the potential to be a thoroughbred. Good one, Kat.
Louie nearly explodes with campness.

Only two more to go and, because we've still got half an hour of the show, the producers decide to fill some time with a video of reactions of those who skated last week. No, I'm not very interested either.

Corey and Brooke
Corey was apparently in The Goonies. Anything since then? And WHAT ON EARTH is that RIDICULOUS piece of hair for? He looks like Creepy Thin Man from the Charlie's Angels films. Apparently it has its own twitter account (@Coreysbitofhair)
During training Christopher Dean actually utters the words, "Basically he can't do anything." I am looking forward to this immensely.
Much to my disappointment he's not that bad. I mean, he's bad and very unstable but I was expecting a Todd Carty level of skill.
Tony accidentally calls him 'Corrie', like the soap, which fills me with no end of joy.
Judges' score: 11.0
Katerina thinks it looks like Corey is walking on raw eggs when he skates.

Matthew and Nina
Matthew is arrogance/confidence personified. I dislike him. He will probably be amazing. He may well be this year's Ray bloody Quinn.
Gayest outfit ever, and that's saying a lot for Dancing on Ice. Very leathery. Yep, he's good. Nope, I don't like him.
Judges' score: 20.5 ... oh squidgey arse farts he's got the highest score out of the first two weeks.
Louie is practically lost for words and that is saying A LOT for him, Katerina wants him to get rid of the leather, Robin is excited for the rest of the series.

Right, that's your lot, I'm off to get started on the Baileys during Wild at Heart. See you next time!

Friday, 13 January 2012

The Etymologicon

Last year I posted a bloglet in which I copied a passage I liked from the book I was reading at the time. Because it made for such an easy bloglet, and because I find this new book genuinely fascinating, I have decided to do it again.

So, the book in question this time is entitled The Etymologicon: A circular stroll through the hidden connections of the English language. I realise the name alone will probably be enough to send some of you to sleep but I implore (yep, implore) you to read on. I guarantee you won't be bored and, who knows, maybe you'll want to buy the book yourself.

Title: The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll Through the Hidden Connections of the English Language
Author: Mark Forsyth

Only £5.84 from Amazon

Gambling in medieval France was a simple business. All you needed were some friends, a pot, and a chicken. In fact, you didn't need friends - you could do this with your enemies - but the pot and the chicken were essential.
First, each person puts an equal amount of money in the pot. Nobody should on any account make a joke about a poultry sum. Shoo the chicken away to a reasonable distance. What's a reasonable distance? About a stone's throw.
Next, pick up a stone.
Now, you all take turns hurling stones at that poor bird, which will squawk and flap and run about. The first person to hit the chicken wins all the money in the pot. You then agree never to mention any of this to an animal rights campaigner.
That's how the French played a game of chicken. The French, though, being French, called it a game of poule, which is French for chicken. And the chap who had won all the money had therefore won the jeu de poule.
The term got transferred to other things. At card games, the pot of money in the middle of the table came to be known as the poule. English gamblers picked the term up and brought it back with them in the seventeenth century. They changed the spelling to pool, but they still had a pool of money in the middle of the table.
It should be noted that this pool of money has absolutely nothing to do with a body of water. Swimming pools, rock pools and Liverpools are utterly different things.
Back to gambling. When billiards became a popular sport, people started to gamble on it, and this variation was known as pool, hence shooting pool. Then, finally, that poor French chicken broke free from the world of gambling and soared majestically out into the clear air beyond.
On the basis that gamblers pooled their money, people started to pool their resources and even pool their cars in a car pool. Then they pooled their typists in a typing pool. Le chicken was free! And then he grew bigger than any of us, because, since the phrase was invented in 1941, we have all become part of the gene pool, which, etymologically, means that we are all little bits of chicken.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Video Games

One of my favourite Christmas presents of 2011 is a PlayStation 3 game called Deus Ex.

Deus Ex, which gains immediate cool points for having a Latin name, takes place in a not-too-distant future version of our world. Technology has advanced to a point where humans can be augmented with cybernetic implants, meaning that everything from robotic limbs to the ability to see through walls is available to those with enough money.
Want to be able to jump/fall from any height without that annoying side effect of the landing killing you? Then pop on down to the Limb Clinic and get yourself augmented. Concerned that you wouldn't currently be able to survive a gas bomb? Then why not save up your credits and get an augment at the local Limb Clinic? You get the idea.

In the game you take on the role of protagonist Adam Jensen, who involuntarily receives a number of augments after an attack which leaves him fighting for his life on the operating table. By completing missions, you earn Experience Points and credits, which allow you to augment him further. Gameplay involves a lot of shooting people, hacking into computers and generally being a bit of a vigilante. All excellent ways to unwind after a tough day at work, I think you'll agree.

Before this bloglet turns into a full blown review of the game I should point out that that's not what I intended it to be. No, what I actually wanted to write about here is something which arises in Deus Ex, but which also seems prevalent in numerous other video games across different platforms. Namely ... the inventory.

In order to carry out the main objectives of the game (shooting, hacking, being a vigilante), our friend Adam needs to hold on to quite a few bits of gear (weapons, energy bars, ammunition etc.). That's not a problem, think the game designers, we'll stick all of that gubbins in his inventory. Now, seeing as Adam doesn't have to keep returning to a large room where he keeps all his bits and bobs every time he decides to change weapons, I assume that his 'inventory' is basically 'what he can carry and stuff in his pockets'. It is with that theory in mind that I shall tell you what my Adam Jensen currently has in his inventory (imagine the list is said in the style of the Generation Game conveyer belt bit, if you will);
- A stun gun
- A machine pistol
- A revolver
- A combat rifle
- A tranquiliser rifle
- A crossbow
- A sniper rifle
- Various ammunition for above weapons
- A gas grenade
- A bottle of wine (doesn't deal any damage to enemies, but it's always amusing when you accidentally select it to see the screen suddenly go blurry as you realise that, instead of dealing a deadly head-shot to an enemy guard, you've just got yourself pissed).

So that's seven guns, folks. Even if we get rid of one that's still two on your back, one on each leg and one in each hand. With all that gear it's a wonder the police haven't stopped us and taken us down to the local station to discuss why we are in possession of such an impressive arsenal. But what about the rounds of spare ammunition? I hear you cry. In the pockets with the grenade and bottle of wine, I suppose? Doesn't make for the stealthiest of outfits really, does it? I can't imagine even the most useless of guards not hearing us as we waddle ever so quietly along a corridor with our six guns knocking against each other, and various bullets clanking against a half empty bottle of Merlot in our pocket.

As I mentioned, the idea of an odd, Tardis-like inventory is to be found in many other video/computer games. Take, for example, the PC version of The Sims 3. For anyone unfamiliar with the game, you basically take on the role of a god and control everything in your Sims' lives from their appearance and personalities to when you want them to use the toilet. Each Sim has their own, seemingly bottomless pit of an inventory in which they 'hold' all manner of things. Because one of my Sims has planted a number of fruit trees and vegetable plants in the garden, and the fact that these seem to bear fruit/veg every day, she currently holds well over 200 apples/potatoes/tomatoes/carrots etc. with no difficulty whatsoever. Don't even get me started on the fact that they can also keep a number of vehicles in there too. Keys to cars/motorbikes I could understand, but the actual vehicles themselves?

I suppose the alternative to these unrealistically massive inventories would irk me just as much: having constantly to choose which items to let go of and which few to keep in your pocket would be impractical and would detract from the game. I just wish that game designers would occasionally acknowledge the ridiculousness of the inventory. A simple "Where the Dickens have you been hiding that gun, Adam?" from one of the characters would do it for me.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Dancing on Ice 2012 (1)

So, for the next couple of months I will be exchanging my X Factor recapping hat for my Dancing on Ice one (rest assured, I do always wear a hat while writing these things).

[Just watching the end of the itv news and have decided that Nina Nannar is THE best name ever]

Oh I'd forgotten that macleans sponsors DOI. I do enjoy their odd sponsorship adverts.

The first VT reveals quite a few changes this year, my favourite of which being that Louie Spence is on the judging panel instead of Jason 'the hat' Gardiner.

The professional skaters kick things off with plenty of madness and dry ice - wacky costumes, people hanging upside down off a chandelier. You know, the usual.

One of the less exciting changes this year is that the role of Holly Willoughby will be played by Christine Bleakley. I don't like this change.

Just a quick reminder that, although there are 15 pairs, only 7 of them will be skating tonight. Fear not, it WILL finish before midnight.

While the 'celebrities' are introduced and try their hardest not to fall over, I would like to take a moment to consider why Jason isn't on the show this year. Maybe he's busy growing his hair ... or buying hats ... if anyone actually knows do get in touch. Much appreciated.

Ok, 20 minutes into the show and I think ... yes ... I think we're nearly ready to see one of the celebrities actually skate! Oh, no, we need another introduction to the judging panel. You've probably got time to make a cup of tea before we get started. Go on, I'll give you a shout when someone is ready to skate ...


Heidi and Andrei
Heidi is apparently scared of flying and when her skating partner lifts her up for the first time in training she thinks it feels like take off. I don't know what planes you've been in, Heidi, but I don't think the pilots are doing it right if take off is similar to being lifted 6ft off the floor.
It's a good first performance. She seems very nervous and there's a lot of Andrei carrying/dragging her around the rink but that's probably forgivable at this stage.
Judges' score: 12.5 (out of a possible 30)

Mark and FrankieYou know, Mark ... off of Sam and Mark. Ask your kids.
Unfortunately Mark immediately loses points because he has been partnered with Frankie, whom I dislike intensely. No real reason for my feelings towards her, I just find her irritating and shrew-like.
Skating to I'm Still Standing. Surely that's just asking for a tumble on the ice?
It's very, very slow but, judging by the excited faces he's pulling, Mark's enjoying himself.
After the performance, Tony Gubba, who is my absolute favourite commentator, pipes up with "Despite the go faster stripes on the costumes, most of that routine was in the slow lane." Word, Tony, word.
Judges' score: 8.0
Louie thinks that choreographically it was like dad-dancing and Robin wants Mark's feet to work as well as his face does.

Charlene and Matthew
Apparently she was in Dallas. Bit before my time I'm afraid.
Well, from first impressions Charlene seems very enthusiastic. I am hoping for good things.
I'm actually pretty impressed; Charlene seems fairly happy to skate without always holding onto Matthew.
Judges' score: 13.0
Robin thinks Charlene will be people's guilty pleasure over the next few weeks. I think that's a compliment?

Dinner time! This means I'm not really paying attention to Jorgie but everyone is very positive and she seems to be an early favourite. The judges give her a score of 18.5

Chemmy and Sean
Love this song (Raise Your Glass). I am not a fan of the orange costume with grass skirt. Clearly I'm not really paying much attention to the routine. It's ok. It's not the worst and not the best of this week. I'm more intrigued by the horrendous skiing accident she had a couple of years ago. Kudos for even agreeing to do this show because that fall looked NASTY.
Judges' score: 16.0

Andy and Maria
Andy is apparently a Blue Peter presenter.
Another good song! (Moves Like Jagger). I like this guy - he looks like he's having fun and is pretty smooth on the ice.
Tony describes it as, "foot-tappingly good." Well said, Gubba, I'd agree. Everyone is very happy he managed not to drop Maria.
Judges' score: 14.0 - not as good as I would have expected
Louie says there are moves but that they're a bit floppy, Katerina wants the moves to stay floppy. She has very nice hair ... how have I only just noticed this? It's amazing!

How many more to we have to go now? Just one more pair? Oh good.

Andy and Vicky
Andy seemingly can't do anything in training. I'm hoping for a Todd Carty 'disappearing' act during their performance. You know, it's not all that bad actually. Doesn't seem to be much skating for a while but it's alright. Bit dad-dancy but who doesn't love a bit of dad dancing? I think he'll be in for a few weeks.
Tony thinks he's a natural comic because, "You look at him and you want to laugh." Bit harsh, Gubba but that's why I love you.
Judges' score: 12.0

So the first Dancing on Ice of 2012 is over without anyone falling over! Not one person. I want my money back. Lines are now open if you want to vote.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

New Year's Resolutions 2012

Happy new year!

Those of you paying attention will notice that, here at Inane Ramblings, things are kicking off in a similar fashion to last year: with new year's resolutions.

First, I think we should take a look back at my resolutions for 2011 to see how I fared. I should probably mention that, prior to starting this bloglet, I had completely forgotten my resolutions for last year. Not a great start.

1. "Attain QTS (Qualified Teacher Status)"
Managed that one. Just. (By the skin of my teeth judging by my final placement.) Anyway, the important thing is that I got it and am qualified to teach the National Curriculum to children up to the age of 11. Woot.

2. "Know more stuff"
Bit of a vague one there, Becky of 2011. Not really sure how to gauge whether I achieved that one. I don't feel particularly more knowledgable than I did twelve months ago, but I find it doubtful that I've managed to exist for an entire year without absorbing at least some new knowledge.
As I'm feeling generous I shall award myself half a point. I don't think I often actively learnt something new, but I must know more than I did last year ... surely?

3. "Be able to cook"
I learnt how to fillet mackrel. Does that count?
Nil points.

4. "Read more"
Feeling fairly confident about this one, actually. I kept a list of all the books I read last year (before you say it, list-making is an entirely normal thing to do and not at all a sign of mild OCD) and managed to get through a total of 15. Clearly this is nowhere near the number my mother or sister will have read, but the pace at which they speed through books is actually ridiculous. On 3rd January, for example, Sarah happily announced, "I've read two books this year". Have you, Sarah? Have you? Well that's just marvellous. I'm on page 4.
I'm actually rather proud of how much I was able to read last year, and if 15 books doesn't sound like that many, try doing a PGCE at the same time. Then we'll talk.

5. "Win the lottery"
Would probably have been more achievable if I had bought a lottery ticket.
Nil points.

2.5 out of 5 - not a particularly good success rate, which is why this year I have chosen new year's resolutions which I think I will actually be able to acheive.

1. Keep a weekly blog.
Exactly what it says on the tin - I want to be able to look back at 2012 and see that I have added a new blog entry at least 52 times.

2. Learn 12 new songs on the ukulele.
One new song, every month. Entirely do-able methinks. If I work out how to post a video on here I may even treat you to clips of my musical endeavours.

3. Learn how to knit.
My grandma, aunt, mum and sister can all knit and whenever I hear them talking about it, it literally sounds like a different language to me. This year will be the year that I learn that language. I might even progress further than being able to knit a scarf this time.

So those are my new year's resolutions for 2012. What are yours? How did you do last year?