Category: Super Heroes

The Stereotype Categorisation Project

Being part of the super hero community, as I am, every now and then we receive directives or requests from top secret organisations around the world. These are usually sixteen-page forms (in small print) and are sent through regular post so they can’t be picked up by any spy satellites or CB hacker or other means of digital espionage. The envelopes are simple and brown, and have no return address on them. They are addressed, also simply, to ‘The Occupier’ so even the postman doesn’t know what he is delivering. And, if by chance the postman manages to mistakenly pop the letter through the wrong letterbox, and the person at this address mistakenly opens it (bearing in mind they will think that it is addressed to them, being the occupier, if they don’t read the address properly) it will look like junk mail from a double glazing company, a car insurance firm, or an invitation to participate in some money scam.

We super heroes know the difference between regular junk mail and these extremely classified and very regularly life changing directives. And we also have the necessary equipment to prise apart each of the sixteen pages without tearing or removing any of the print on them. The ‘false’ claim that I can buy two double glazed windows for the price of four, I’ll find cheaper car insurance elsewhere or if I send £2,000.00 I’ll receive the next part of the letter, dissolve away in this process, which also ‘re-hydrates’ the sixteen pages to their normal paper size and staples them together. The letter is also delivered without a stamp. Technology nowadays is a wonder!

I received the latest sixteen page document today from The Human League. That is The Human League International organisation, who have offices in all countries, with the head office being somewhere in South America, I think. Or France. I always get the two mixed up. Not the places, I hasten to add – I’m quite good at geography – no, I get The Human League mixed up with The League of Humanity, who are based in Portugal, or Cyprus or somewhere like that. No, they’re based in France… Oh, I give up! However, I do get this Human League mixed up with that old pop group of the same name on occasions, although I haven’t been in the situation that Stretchbob1247 found himself in, when he went to a Human League concert and ended up being sent on a top secret mission to Mars.

Today’s request is for information. Information about people. Everyday people. Not that I think for one moment that there are other types of people, like those who only appear on a Tuesday. Although, I think I worked with one of this type of person once, so I may be wrong. I digress. This request is looking to establish patterns of stereotypical behaviour in people around the world. I have been given an area in which to observe and gather information. I can’t say where, due to confidentiality, but I have to watch both male and female people, and then categorise them into the closest stereotype bracket on the form. I’m not allowed to let anyone know that I am observing them, so if you feel you are being watched and look around to see someone shiftily look away quickly, it may be me… I’m on a mission, so please don’t blow my cover, but I doubt you’ll notice me watching – I’m an expert people watcher. It’s one of my favourite pastimes in the summer.

The form isn’t interested in the ‘normal’ stereotypes that the word ‘stereotype’ brings to mind, these have already been recorded in the survey last month, which was phase one of the project, and everyone on the planet was documented, listed and grouped back then. (We know where all the vampires are!). This form is looking specifically for ten groups, or sub-stereotypes, for reasons that are known only to a select few, and I’m not one of them. I just do what I’m told. The sub-stereotypes are:

1. The Lost Wanderers
The form describes these as people who wander slowly and aimlessly in the middle of the road, without regard for their own safety or the fact that vehicles are waiting to drive passed them. Usually young males, show offs, or groups of young mums with prams fall into this category, but there may be others.

2. Librarians
I think this is a spelling error on the form, as it wants to document people who are balanced, loving, loyal, romantic, idealistic, charming, stubborn and indecisive, which sounds like a textbook description of a Libran. I don’t think I’ve met a librarian with all of these qualities.

3. Television Voice-Over People
This one is a tricky one to spot when people watching, but there are tell tale signs that indicate that someone either works in voice-overs, or wants to. Market traders and town criers may also fall into this category.

4. Road Rangers
Another spelling error, I think. I’ll have to clarify this with the Human League, but they may be referring to the Freds of this world. Unless they are referring to people who patrol the streets. These stereotypes are not that cut and dried.

5. Left-handed Strawberry Pickers
I have no idea why they want to know this information, or how I’m supposed to observe such people, living in a town and all, but I can only do what I can. I think there is a left-handed strawberry picker convention on in Birmingham later this month, so they may all be out of town anyway.

6. Tree Gorillas
I’m presuming they are referring to tree guerrillas, but may be wrong. Luckily for me, I never got around to planting any trees otherwise I’d have to be watching myself now.

7. Lurkers
The form says this is a type of person who visits websites and forums but doesn’t comment or participate, and not those who wander the streets (who may be included in category A). Not an easy stereotype to spot.

8. Vampires and Speed Readers
Ulp. I’m NOT a vampire. Nor can I speed read. Although I have no idea what the connection is between these two… and we did vampires last month…

9. Think Dancers
This group are people who, in their minds, are dancing exceptionally better to the same piece of music as everyone else. In reality, they are shuffling their feet and pointing.

10. Survey Creators
Those outside of the Human League who create surveys to find people’s views on pot holes, black holes, watering holes, and other mysterious holes that appear from time to time. Other surveys are not included this time.

I’ve seen a few people already that fit into these categories, so I’m already off to a good start. It’s quite hard though, trying to fit someone into a stereotype without being judgmental. Still, it passes the time!

Exercise and me

I’m not what you would call an ideal candidate to appear on a TV show, if there actually is one, called ‘The World’s Greatest Exercise Role Model’. When you think of such a show you would imagine it featuring perfectly toned people with fantastic bodies, clothes, hair and smiles, together with a collection of ‘before’ photos.

I have plenty of ‘before’ photos. I think some of my recent photos are now ‘before’ photos too. In fact, every photo is a before photo if it makes you want to change something about yourself.

My body is constantly changing. I’m constantly changing for that matter. Every day is a new day, and I think I’d get pretty bored trying to keep myself in the WGERM body state to ensure that I stay on the show. And to be honest, I couldn’t do it. I may have the body of a Greek God, but my hair has a mind all of it’s own, and it decides on how good it wants me to look.

And some days, I don’t have the body of a Greek God.

Being part of the super-hero community, you’d think that a toned, muscular physique with a rippling six-pack and bulging sinews would be easy to maintain, but believe you me, it is hard work. As I’m not of the exercising mind-set, it is very easy to notice the odd stone or two creep on you when you least expect it. And once the extra weight is on, it takes a while to lose it without exercise.

I may not be of the exercising mind-set, but, when needs must, I have to do it. I visualise my body looking better for the exercise I am doing. I imagine my clothes fitting as they should, and not looking as though everything has shrunk in the wash. And I see people in my mind’s eye congratulating me on how great I look once I have lost that couple of pounds (…).

However, me and exercise are like arch-enemies. I try not to ‘do’ arch-enemies, and I try not to do exercise either. So already I’m competing with myself before I even begin. Do I want to stay the same, or do I want to look good?

After this tennis match has gone on for a while, I win and start exercising. I lose the weight. I look good. I get congratulated. My clothes fit perfectly. My hair behaves (it always does when you know you look good). And my muscles do their muscly thing.

It can be done if you put in the work; however this post isn’t about the exercises needed to look good, it is about the downfalls to avoid when exercising. They don’t tell you about these things when you see that ‘must buy’ product on the shopping channels to help you lose pounds in five days, or whatever. Oh no. And I’ve tried a few things over the years.

I don’t know if these items are still available, but they probably are. I call them ‘electrocution pads’ and that really is what they are. Little pads that you strap on to certain parts of your body, and you then run an electrical current through them. This current stimulates the muscles in your stomach, chest, arms, legs or wherever else you use them, so that they contract and relax. It feels as though they are doing something, especially if you have the power on too strong, but be careful using them. I had placed them too close together on my stomach and the contracting muscles caused my skin to pinch, and I was in agony. Also, I think the pads burned me because the power was too high. And I fell asleep wearing them. Needless to say I could hardly move the next day. Luckily they come with an automatic switch off after an hour or so, otherwise I don’t know how I’d have looked the next day. Use them if you must, but be warned… I don’t think I lost weight using these. The only pounds I lost were of the spending kind.

I bought myself one of those high-tension bending bars to build up my arms, shoulders and chest, because I thought that if they looked bigger, my stomach and waist would look smaller. No, that isn’t true. I thought that I would look like the man in the shorts in the photos on the poorly translated A4 exercise manual that came with the bendy bar. I followed the instructions to the letter. I was determined that by bending this bar, my waist size would be reduced by half of it’s size by the following week (Well, I’m a dreamer!). I finished work at 2.30 in the morning, dashed home, and started a-bending. Everyone else in the house were asleep, so I had to keep all of my breathing and grunting to an absolute minimum. I also had to stifle my scream as the bar slipped out of my left hand, whacked me under the chin as it careered across the room and smashed into my wardrobe. In my numbed state, I fell backwards, and knocked my TV set off it’s stand – but luckily, I managed to catch it before it fell – just as the bendy bar came back at me like a boomerang and clobbered me in the leg. Nobody heard a thing. I never used the bendy bar again afterwards. Well, never without wearing a pair of woollen gloves… nobody was ever going to see me doing that particular exercise.

I went to a gym a few times. I couldn’t use the equipment properly as I didn’t know exactly what I was doing, but tried my best. I went to this gym with my cousin, so we could encourage each other along. Usually we just laughed at each other. You pull some funny faces when weight training! One day, I was using a device for strengthening the legs. I knew the position I had to get into for this exercise. I lay on my back, and brought my feet up onto a bar above me. I had to hold the weight with my feet, and then push the weight upwards again, and repeat for three lots of twenty pushes. I couldn’t do one push. The weight was too heavy, which resulted in my knees resting on either side of my head. Luckily, the weight machine was supported, so it wouldn’t have come completely down on me, but I was still stuck. Eventually I was helped out of the machine. I used it without weights after that. Well, once more anyway…

I joined a boxing gym as well when I was younger. I was too old to actually start boxing, but the exercise is good to help with losing weight. Only I was a bit overweight for the circuit training that was involved. And being in a hot, steamy gym with a whole host of boxers all running around the place, I was soon out of breath. I couldn’t keep up. In order to continue with that exercise, I needed to lose weight before I actually began! Still, I persevered, and felt some benefits.

The best exercise I find that helps me to lose weight is swimming. I love swimming, I love water. The weight literally drops off me as I really push myself when I go. I think that if you really enjoy doing something it isn’t a chore, and you can do it all the more.

It’s a pity that I don’t find losing weight as enjoyable during the process. The end result is fantastic. The compliments are a great boost to the ego. And the money you have to spend on thin clothes isn’t going to be mentioned. Not in this post anyway. But feeling good after it all is well worth it.

However, I’d really like to try to avoid the bruises and things… should I ever do it again, that is…

I’m not confused, I just act that way!

I wouldn’t say that I am the greatest actor in the world. I certainly wouldn’t say that I’m the worst actor in the world either, although I must be pretty close – but, by saying just that am I pretending?

I don’t think I could appear in a blockbuster movie anytime soon, or an episode of Smallville for that matter either (if they decide to make a new series that is – never say never). I won’t be nominated for an Oscar, Bafta, Toma, or any other such award in the next year or so… although I may be discovered and become the next Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie in the next month, my movie career may take off and I’ll be on the front cover of movie and TV listing magazines for the next millennium.

I hope that I’m cast as a superhero. OK, I know it will be a bit of an easy role to play, a bit typecast if I’m honest, but that should make it easier to play. I’ll be able to explain things to the director when they ask me to do something the superhero wouldn’t do. (Speaking of typecasting, I never knew that it is also a form of blogging… well, the words are written on a typewriter and then uploaded onto a blog – it makes sense when you think of it!)

If I can’t be cast as a superhero the production team will probably need changing, but short of stopping millions of people around the world from missing out on a great film, my next perfect movie role would be a vampire. Well, I’ve got vampire blood in me. And I’ve got the teeth. And probably the breath at the moment. And going by how I have been feeling over the past few days I’ve certainly got the undead look. I’ll save millions in make-up alone. My performance will be phenomenal, as it will all be entirely natural. You couldn’t pay anyone to act natural. You just know that someone is acting naturally by the way they are acting. Being natural is completely different to acting natural. Current professional and amateur actors do a really good job of acting natural, I hasten to add before anyone sues me, but they are still acting. I’ll be being!

OK then, if the vampire role has been taken (humph!) I wouldn’t mind being a lizard creature who takes on human form to befriend the human race, but all of humanity turns against him, apart from a small group of people who need lizard man’s help to save the world. Lizard man has to decide whether the people who have become his friends are like the rest of the population and don’t deserve his help, or the actions of the few close people are more than enough for him to act in a positive way. How he acts in the moment will have far reaching consequences on the rest of the world, for the rest of time. Ulp… maybe someone else can have that role. I wonder who’d make a good looking lizard?

Anyway, superheroes, vampires and now lizard men are out of the question. I know! I could play a magical wizard who can travel through time to find out the meaning to a mysterious dream he had which, strangely, linked him to the year 1641. This wizard’s quest takes him through a whole range of situations, where he finds all sorts of amazing facts that have occurred in this one year. Maybe this is a little too far fetched though… no one would believe it. And the research would have to be second to none. And a time travelling wizard? Pah – what was I thinking?

Oh, I know. I could appear in a musical extravaganza. The fact that I sing in a unique way doesn’t matter… they can do wonders with something called Auto-tune nowadays, so I’d be better than pitch perfect. And I would be able to show my prowess at knocking pieces of wood together. And, I could get to play the harp as well (possibly, once again with Auto-tune). The story would have to be something special though. Something no-one would expect. A musical where the main character loses their voice throughout the whole movie. I could play that one really easily… there wouldn’t be many lines to learn at all! And they could then use the Auto-tune on the other actors.

What? That role’s taken as well? That’s not good… What’s my role going to be then? What should I do to put myself on the map? What can I do to make myself shine brighter that anyone else around me? What do I have to do to stand out from all of the rest? What’s that you say? Nothing? Just be me?

Oh.

… Now I can do that no problem! Maybe I’m not the best actor in the world, but that’s OK. I’m the best me in the world. I’m always the best me. No pretence. No act. I can do what I need to do in any situation, and do it well. Or do it differently. Or not do it at all!

So really, I am the greatest actor in the world. I’m also the worst actor in the world as well. I can be anything that I want to be…

Aquatom1968 to the rescue… again… and again… and again!

Being part of the super-hero community isn’t all glitz and glamour, you know. As well as throwing out the rubbish, cleaning and tidying up the top secret headquarters beneath Aquatom Mansion, doing it all again in Aquatom Mansion, leading my double-life in work and other social situations (taking great care not to reveal the real me), and now having a Second Life persona as well, things tend to get a little hectic. How many people do you know who have a double life and a second life at the same time? Not that I’ve actually been to Second Life for a few days, but it’s still there – and I’m probably still there on that rooftop too! And as well as doing all that, I have to make sure that I look good.

No, it isn’t easy always looking good. It is something I manage to pull off easily, even if I do say so myself. Usually I have to. Say it, that is, not look it. It’s the hair, you see. It needs cutting. Pruning. Molding into shape. It does look good when I style it – I hasten to add – but any major change in circumstance, such as walking through a door, or sneezing, and the hair bear bunch look returns. And there is no way you can hold a secret identity for long when your hair looks like that. I remember being in school once, in a science lesson, and we had to put our hands on these brass-like ball things which carried electricity through them (I can’t think of the name right now, and don’t want to look it up – it isn’t that important!) and it made everyone’s hair stand on end. Mine does that without the electricity in a gently breeze…

I think of the energy that is flowing through me and my hair when it is like that. As I try to be positive and feel good most of the time, I like to think that positive energy is leaving my body, and being absorbed into the world around me. I’m trying to be a positive generator, but maybe sometimes I’m passing on a little too much feel good energy and not leaving enough for myself. Which is why I feel tired, develop spots, then get colds, then sneezes, and then bad hair. See – everything turns full circle again!

Now, coincidentally, here is another example of things turning full circle. A letter was delivered to my parents’ home, their address was on the envelope but not their name. A bold message across the top of the letter said “DO NOT REDIRECT! RETURN TO SENDER”. Being the helpful citizen that I am, I wrote onto the envelope the very useful, and friendly words “Not at this address” and popped it back into the post box. A few days later, a second letter arrived, addressed to the same person. The return address was the same on the reverse, as was the style of the envelope. The same message was also blazoned across the top. Again, I wrote the same as before, and returned it. A few days passed, and yet another letter was received. Exactly the same. I wrote on this envelope, in equally bold capital letters “NOT KNOWN AT THIS ADDRESS!!!!!!!!!” and returned it. And today, yet another letter has been received. I’m starting to get the feeling that the people either do not believe me that this person does not live there, or are incredibly stupid. Harsh, I know. On today’s envelope, I wrote “NOT KNOWN AT THIS ADDRESS! THIS IS THE FOURTH LETTER RETURNED!” Somehow, I don’t think this message will get through. Only time will tell. If another one is received, I may just pull my hair out – which is something I really do not want to do. What is annoying is the return address is a postal box, so we can’t phone them to tell the – sorry, ask them nicely – to stop (*)… but somebody must read returned mail envelopes, surely to goodness?!?! I can see this company becoming my arch enemy if they carry on. I don’t do arch enemies.

Other spandex-clad super-heroes get themselves involved in other-worldly, parallel-dimensional and intriguing cases and mysteries. I get caught up in a groundhog day style postal problem. But, in true groundhog day style, I deal with it slightly differently every time. Just doing it feels good, so I can’t complain.

I’m thinking about the next time a letter arrives, and what messages I can write on the envelope. I may go for poetry. I may draw a picture to highlight the name is wrong. I may stick cut out letters from a newspaper to get the message across.

(*) What is really frustrating is the cost of each pointless delivery has to be met by someone. The PO box belongs to the finance department of the local council. We tried to call the council to ask them to stop sending the letters, but all they could ask was ‘what does the letter say?’ You don’t open mail that is addressed to someone else, do you? You return to sender, as they ask. And they send it back. Again… and again… and again!

In the news: Wonder Woman!

A remarkable tale of bravery has emerged today of how an attempted robbery in Northampton was thwarted this morning.

A gang of would-be robbers decided to strike at a town centre jewellers earlier today, trying to smash their way into the shop windows by constantly striking them with hammers. The gang were on motorcycles, and staff inside the shop were seen frantically trying to bring down the shutters to protect the store.

It appeared that quite a few people were around the area, watching what was unfolding, when, out of the blue a figure dressed in red dashed into view. At startling speed, an elderly lady made her way into the midst of the helmeted thieves, and started fending them off armed only with her handbag. This Wonder Woman stopped the gang in their tracks, who tried to flee from the scene without achieving their goals. Two of the would be thieves actually fell off their getaway motorcycle, at which point other members of the public joined in to help the pensioner to restrain them. Apparently five of the gang have been arrested.

Not a bad morning’s work for Northampton’s very own newest super-hero!

The video that was broadcast on the evening news earlier was remarkable. I’ve tried to take some screen grabs as the lady approached the gang, but the stills are very blurry, however you can just about make out the pensioner as she is approaching, her magical handbag is in her left hand:

It makes a nice change to see some good in the news! Well done that lady!