Or the day of Much Fried Chicken as it shall go down in history. More on that later.
I haven’t really been feeling my birthday much this year. I suppose l’ve been looking forward to the Doctor Who anniversary celebrations that will be on in a fortnight, and hadn’t really noticed my birthday approaching as a result. Still, when Kim laid out a load of presents for me I took notice. We’ve decided to concentrate on birthdays and forego Christmas gifts this year, though I can’t remember why at the moment. Anyway, suffice to say there were a load of gifts piled up. Considering most of my wanted items are quite expensive, it was shocking to see how much was piled up.
I didn’t sleep much the night before my birthday. Perhaps there’s still an innocent child in me that was excited by all the presents. Perhaps I was simply having one of my bouts of insomnia. Either way i didn’t climb into bed until five or six in the morning. I woke at half ten, just before my pre-alarm sequence started up. It seems that I’m starting to get a routine thanks to that as I keep waking a few minutes before it goes off, no matter how much I’ve slept. Kim made me a coffee and brought me a bowl of Lucky Charms. The first time I tried those was earlier this year and I fell in love with them straight away, so Kim got a box in and kept it for my birthday.
After the cereal I was told that one of my gifts was already unwrapped if I could find it. My tired brain looked around and found nothing but my mouth, always something with a mind of its own, had other ideas. “There’s a shiny new mug around that there coffee!” it said, in an old fashioned tongue that was likely not my own. And there was a new mug, complete with Autobot and Decepticon symbols. The new mug was soon surrounded by neatly taken off wrapping paper (yeah, I’m one of those guys) and a few candies as well as a box of deliciously dark truffles and a bar of coffee and whisky flavoured chocolate that will be tried on a less chicken filled day. Then came the larger gifts.
Ever wondered why putting ice in a drink is called “On The Rocks” or have you just assumed it’s because they look like rocks? In ancient villages that made their own spirits there usually was no ice, and the rough drinks needed some form of cooling to take the edge off. Water could be used but too much could unbalance the drink. The usual way of doing things was to find a few small stones that had been cooling in a spring and use them to cool the drink.
Whisky Stones follow that principle. They’re sandstone blocks about the size of an ice cube. You put them in the freezer for a few hours and they can keep a drink cool without melting into it and unbalancing it as ice may do. I’ve wanted a set since I started drinking again and found I still had a taste for whisky, even if it had been tempered. Normally I’d chill a glass for a couple of minutes before pouring, but this should work better. There were nine of the stones in the bag and I use three at a time, flushing them with water after use and putting straight back in the freezer.
As mentioned, there was a shiny new Transformers mug waiting for me with a fresh coffee in it this morning. Two of the other gifts were Transformers themed as well. The first is a t-shirt based on Optimus Prime. The second was a Revoltech version of Rodimus Prime, one of my favourite classic Transformers. He’s on my bookshelf right now, pointing at me as if to say “Yo, remember the 80s? They were like totally rad, man!”
After spending some time playing with Rodimus and setting him up just the way I want him, I got around to opening my other presents. There were two packages that were suspiciously the same sort of size and I could tell they were DVD boxsets so I opened them together.
The first was the complete boxset of the 90s Spider-Man cartoon. For those who never caught that, it was the best of the attempts to show Spidey in a cartoon, even if the cheaply done CG streets were only there to tick a box rather than add to anything in the show. Still, it was fun and I always used to watch it whenever we were somewhere with Sky. Looking forward to this a lot as there are some great storylines in there and even Spidey done half-assed is usually at least good.
The second DVD boxset was Death Note. For those who don’t know the basic premise, I’ll go over the keynotes. A death god, bored with the realm of his kind, dropped his notebook into the human realm to see what happens. The boy who finds it is a straight A student who reads the instructions (which say that any name written in the book while the face of the person is visualised will die) and tries it out. Realising that he can now kill people from a distance and even dictate the time and method of death, the boy starts killing off criminals in an attempt to purify the world. At the same time another boy is trying to figure out who is killing people in this way, and the stage is set for one of the best supernatural detective stories ever told.
I read Death Note a while back and have been looking to get the anime for a while, but never got around to it. And now it is mine. Mine, I say!!!
The final two presents were large and could only have been books. I like books, but I love comic books and these were two that had been on my list for quite a while.
At twelve hundred pages, the Marvel Zombies “Zomnibus” (yes, I cringed at that too) is one of the largest comic hardbacks I’ve ever had and it weighs somewhere around a metric shitload. The conceit here is that on an alternate Earth the world has been taken over by a zombie plague and some of the superheroes of that world come across multiple other worlds, infecting them as they go. If this were a regular zombie plague it might be boring but the plague shown in Marvel Zombies is different. After eating flesh they retain their memories and character, but are still ruled by the hunger within them. It’s interesting to see what makes a hero popular turned on its head to make them monstrous. I’ll be devoting some serious hours to that at some point in the future.
The final comic book was the hardcover collection of The Twelve. Back in the so-called Golden Age of comics everyone was trying to create the next big thing, and there were hundreds of people in masks who fought crime. Most had no powers but were good with a gun and felt a call to duty. All had awful names and origin stories that made no sense. Then the Second World War broke out and comics showed a lot of these heroes banding together to fight the evil axis powers. As the allies marched across Berlin, the comics showed the heroes right there with them, taking on tank battalions on their own and fighting evil Hitler clones.
It was a different world after the war and most of the heroes who had last been seen in those comics were never seen again. In some cases their creators had died. In others there was no interest in capes and masks. Mostly there was little money to spare and comics were shut down as the owners went broke or focussed on what they knew worked.
The conceit of The Twelve is that twelve of those heroes were captured by scientists in Berlin, and put into cryogenic storage. The Nazis wanted to dissect them and use the knowledge gained to become a true master race for “next time”. Our first introduction to these heroes keeps their powers and origins the same, but expands on them using knowledge that wasn’t around back then. For example, the Witness is a hero who is condemned to remember every single injustice he witnesses until he can avenge it. He was a boring fellow in the Golden Age and very underused, but here we first meet him after he has visited “a place called Auschwitz”.
So, the Nazis lost the war (which I totally saw coming, by the way) and the heroes remain in suspended animation until 2008. Then they are found and revived, and have to face a world that has passed them by. As with all the best hero comics, there is an emphasis on character here rather than spectacle, although we get plenty of heroics too. These people have to deal with the consequences of their past actions as well as their new lives, and it’s interesting reading. Most of the canon of the characters is kept in place, but comics were so different in the Golden Age that there is plenty of scope to play with the characters. All of them have things that weren’t looked at, things that don’t make sense or things that just had a lot more scope than they were given a chance to show off originally, and the interplay between the characters is mostly handled subtly. A very enjoyable storyline, all in all.
So, those were the presents I got on the day. Oh, and I also got an awesome card from Kim that she designed herself (and that I can’t stop laughing at) and the aforementioned candies and truffles. So yeah, loads of awesomeness for my birthday.
On top of that is a very cool black wool overcoat that replaces a bespoke one I had made well over a decade ago. That one got ruined in hell town and I’ve been looking for something to replace it for ten years now, never once finding anything affordable. This one is almost the same cut, hanging just below my knee rather than the mid shin of the old one. It has the same colour lining, and is the sort of off the rack that fits my rather sturdy frame perfectly. I got this a few weeks ago now after finding a tailor online that I thought might be able to replace my old coat. After asking about their wool blend I was told that it is a mixture of 70% wool with… 30% wool. Call me crazy but I don’t think that’s a blend, I think it’s wool. I also think the online tailor doesn’t have a clue what they’re talking about and, as they wouldn’t answer when I pointed out their error and asked what the blend really is, I didn’t feel happy using them. While waiting for that reply to come, we just happened upon an overcoat on sale while we already had a 25% off voucher and managed to eventually pick up a decent overcoat for a little under half the price it had originally been. I snapped it up and it counted as a birthday gift because we can’t afford to do extravagant things like that all the time. Did I mention it billows out in strong winds like a Batcape?
We went out for lunch and ended up in KFC where I ordered ALL THE CHICKEN! Okay, not all, but most. I grabbed a bucket for myself along with eight hot wings and a Supercharger sandwich. Kim had a salad with an extra mini breast fillet. The chicken was late coming out and our taxi home arrived before it did so he was sat waiting for a few minutes. Had any of the other staff helped the guy serving then we would have had the food on time as they could have been serving it up while he was taking massive orders from the queue behind us.
Eventually got home and grabbed a couple of pieces of chicken, a few hotwings and the supercharger for lunch, keeping the rest of the chicken for tomorrow. I watched the first disc of Death Note then moved on to Spider-Man, and read The Twelve in one sitting. In the night, I chilled out with an equally chilled whisky and wrote this up to replace the place holder I’d left here earlier. And that brings us to now when I’m typing… Yeah, big shock eh?
It’s been a great day, even if I’ve been a bit dozy through it all. Lots of presents, lots of chicken, lots of love from my babe, and lots of needing to sleep contributed to that. On that note, I think it’s time I went to bed.
This is Mik Furie, “the Nighthawk”, on KJCM 98.3. Good night America, wherever you are.