Author Archives: phantomshrimp

About phantomshrimp

Grumpy, Sneezy, Bashful, Sleepy, Dopey. I'm 71.43% of a Disney cadre!

Intropspection + Extrospection = Hrrrmmmmmm

After a recent, violent argument with the heating… contraption in our new apartment I came to a couple of questionable conclusions:

1) When did I turn into my Dad and start calling electronic implements rude names?

2) When did I become technologically impaired?

These questions, ok mainly question 2, actually kept me up that night. You see, not that long ago, I was well above average on the techno-saavy scale, but that night I came to the painful conclusion that I am now sitting on the ‘average’ mark of said scale. I am a ham-fisted, knuckle-dragging user. I even asked a developer in work if a complicated piece of software that was designed in-house, could come in any colour other than orange? Thank the universe he is one of the nicest people on the planet or I may be currently recovering from a slight case of keyboard-lodged-in-my-head-itis. I lay awake for hours thinking of where it might have all gone wrong.

I used to be able to program. My “Hello World” programs in Java, C++ and Pascal were the finest ever written :). I built computers for a living. I studied them in University AND College, for a while anyway, and somewhere between then and today, I became someone who has to type this blog in the easy text version as the HTML (which I covered in College) version is now too daunting. I retraced my steps and they looked something like this.

Step 1: The call to programming is heard and badly answered.

I was a small, weedy teenager in school. I didn’t get my first growth spurt until the summer after my Junior Cert. Being the small, weedy (might as well add clumsy, socially inept and geeky) teen that I was, I created my own world and lived there for quite a while. I spent my afternoons after school in the computer room programming an interactive program in gwbasic, that would talk back to me and ask how my day went and so on! I spent months and months on it and it was literally filled with thousands upon thousands of “if/then/else” statements and it would only work if you responded with one of the words that were pre-programmed into the code. As I said, my own little world. That program was abandoned for some reason, to be honest I have no idea why, it was 20 years ago.

It may have had something to do with the introduction of our first home computer. An IBM PS/1 386. The specs included 2MB of Ram, an 85MB hard drive and Windows 3.1 (Dos based) with a VGA video card. Not even Super VGA. I only threw that machine away last summer and it was still working! Transferring files was a bit tricky as it only had a 3.5 floppy drive in it, no USB ports in sight, and of course the files weren’t really compatible with anything. This “beast” of a machine was used mainly to play Doom, Wolfenstein (not the 3D version 🙂 ) and Xenon. It was also the first machine I opened and poked around with. It was replaced with a Gateway machine a few years later. Ah that cow packaging, how glorious it was. Since everything was so much bigger back then, the delivery took up the entire front porch. It was like seeing a herd of box shaped cattle grazing on the welcome mat when I came home from school.

Step 2: Thank you Department of Education.

My first clue as to where things possibly went wrong* was secondary school. Two decisions I made during my acne-ridden teenage years could turn out to be two of the most important turning points in this story. The first was a decision to continue learning German, rather than French for the rest of my scholastic career. The importance of this decision would not be made clear until I reached University.

The other decision was very clear upon making it. Being a geek I wanted to do Physics with Applied Mathematics for my Leaving Cert.** along with History. It was here I ran into my first major problem. The school I attended (privately educated no less, sniff) would not allow students to take Physics unless they took Chemistry as well. Ah, Chemistry. I was one of those kids who, accidentally (no really), set fire to everything! To put it in a more accurate light, no matter what experiment I did, it usually ended in flames. I even managed to set a Bunsen burner on fire at one point! Armed with that knowledge, I knew taking Chemistry for my Leaving would be suicidal, so I had to give up the dream of Physics and take Economics with History. I did my Leaving in ’96. That same school changed that Physics/Chemistry rule for the ’98 Leaving, by the way!!! (sick)

Now that I think about it, “Computing” wasn’t even a subject option for our Leaving. Does anyone know if it is now?

Step 3: Et Tu, Uni?

So, I managed to pass my leaving with enough points to enter Computer Science in U.C.C., where I ran into my first “Whoops” moment straight away. We had to take a European language as part of the course. I was fine with that, as I wasn’t too bad at the ole Deutsch. As I went to enroll in my German class I was greeted with the following three subject choices: 1) French, 2) Italian or 3) Spanish. I turned the single page over and over again looking for the German option. Nichts! Doh! I think I attended one, maybe two, Spanish classes that first year! Along with my partner in crime, we spent most of our days back in my place drinking Cappuccino from a sachet and watching Muppets Tonight. Such levels of sophistication! I don’t think either of us passed first year the first time around. Apologies sir if you did. Back then we were “learning” to program in Pascal. Java was new on the scene and was only being taught to 4th years at the time. Of all the languages I have tried to learn, I have a distinct memory of not liking Pascal.

After another disastrous year in U.C.C., I changed third level venues and attended C.I.T. (R.T.C. for those of an older disposition) and changed courses as well. I had a “Whoops” moment in there too as this new course had a Physics module!! Gaaaaah!!!!!!! I enjoyed my time in the Computer Department in C.I.T. I was always more successful with projects and practical work, than I was at exams. I suck at taking exams, but give me the paper as a project and I will probably ace it. (“would have” might be more currently accurate than “will”). I was learning Java and C++ there and my “Hotel Database” program, with shiney buttons and beautiful UI was a great success with one *coughcoughtinycough*  bug. If the user put in a space after an apostrophe while booking a guest in, the program would crash, reception would catch fire and the swimming pool would suddenly be infested by sharks who would swim around, wondering how they got there, and if the speedos they just ate would be stuck in their digestive system for 7 years. I only caught the apostrophe bug after submitting it and of course it was an easy fix.

For some reason that escapes me now, I changed courses again and completed my Business and Marketing Degree first time round! Ah, I think I know why I changed.

Step 4: Working 39+ hours a week + College-ing 35 hours a week = disaster!

I worked through College and Uni. After all I could hardly expect my parents to sponsor me for 7 years (course and college changes take time ok!!). While I was only working part time at the beginning, I soon took on a Management role which pretty much took over my life, and sadly, my education took the hit. Stupid I know. I liked having cash and, apparently, suffered a myopic outlook on life.

I tried to marry work and college prior to this. I was building computers for a year after U.C.C. and pre C.I.T. and to me that was like working with techno-lego. It helped motivate me to go back to College but it also gave me a taste of what a salary was like and that was a hard taste to pass up. Essentially I Scrooge-d myself out of an education and maybe that’s where things went wrong.

Now I am caught in that weird place. To my parents and family, I am Neo. I am one with the Matrix, I can fix any computer problem ever conceived (i.e., I can google) and can instantly work any machine put in my hand! This happened over Christmas when my Dad bought something I had never used before, handed me the still sealed box and said “Right, how do I work it?” I blame the fact that I could program our first VCR (and remained the only one who could for years) after quietly observing my Dad and the tech dude while they installed it. I was 7 I think.

For the past three years, here in work, I have been surrounded by some of the most intelligent people I have ever met, and I feel like a Neanderthal. This feeling, combined with the revelational argument with the heating system, has really motivated me to consider taking a few courses. I have been asked, coughtwice, to learn Php and SQL so I should really start there. Anyone have any suggestions where I should go after that? Graphics and Multimedia have always grabbed my interest. At 33 is it too late to try again? Bear in mind, it would only be part time/night courses. I have a few commitments that require funding.

Morals of the Story:

The decisions you make in school are important. Take care when making them and if what you want is not available, do look elsewhere. It’s your life, make it happen!

When in College, only work part time if you must and if you must, pick a dead end job that requires little or no thought! Concentrating on College/Uni is more important then having a few bob in your back pocket. You might actually get to enjoy College life and make life long friends as well, instead of trying to get a reference from a company that goes bankrupt ten years later.

If you are good at something and enjoy it, pursue it. Who knows where it may lead to.

Shrimp go play wid mouse now. It make purddy arrow dance on screen. Screen taste like cupcake. Om nom!

*I am not blaming anything for turning out this way, it’s down to me. Just wondering, if things were different would I have continued on a different destiny.

** The Irish exam that determines your third level education possibilities.

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Posted by on January 9, 2012 in Uncategorized


Ah, 2012!

Image“The New Year”. What a load of horse radish! If you ask someone “So what are your New Years Resolutions?” you will possibly get one of three answers:

  1. <generic for social type>. Smokers quit smoking. Unfit people go to the gym. Fatties (it’s ok, I am one) quit cupcakes, and, just maybe, go to the gym.
  2. Random off the wall stuff to indicate that the person is harboring some secret resolution that they don’t want you to know about. Likely candidates include, cut down the porn or get involved in new porn. Actually tell that bitch in work that she is a thundering bitch. And then try to sleep with her. Stop licking the monitor when a picture of a cupcake shows up in the hopes that the monitor will taste of said, delicious cupcake.  
  3. Oh, you know, the same as last year!

There are several issues with the three answers above. Mostly, number three, “the same as last year!” So, you mean you actually failed at all your resolutions and have to make the same ones again because you lack even the smallest bit of will power to put down one teeny tiny cupcake? In our defense, they are so very deliciously good. 

It’s all crap! I don’t make resolutions. Not because I am trying to be cool and rebel against what is socially acceptable, I do that by being an Irishman who rarely drinks – the socially acceptable part, I have come to terms with the fact that I will never be cool. I don’t make resolutions because a) I don’t have the spare willpower to try and make myself miserable by letting go of smoking or cupcakes and b) for me, it’s not the New Year. 

This reaction is usually met with, but it’s a fresh new year, new start, a world of possibilities. To those people I say, “where is my hover board?” If you are getting that excited by a “fresh New Year”, why not go smaller? It’s a fresh New Month or it’s Monday, a fresh New Week? This week I will only eat 14 cupcakes! Might as well go as low as an hourly rate. “This hour I won’t eat a cupcake. Instead I will eat two later!” 

No I refuse to accept that January first marks a new year for me. For me a new year begins on my birthday and people celebrate that, or should celebrate that, by showering me with presents galore. I am a pressie whore. I love them! I really do. The more the merrier I say. No one ever asks you what your New Years resolutions are on your birthday do they? Usually it’s “Pint?” or “Need help building that giant Lego Millenium Falcon. Why are you growling at me like that?” I am a year older…i.e. this is a new year for me!

I have noticed it is the more religious people who seem to “celebrate” times like this, while still mumbling about how its not about the commercialism, it’s about the religious idea behind it. “Oh it’s Jesus’ birthday, where is my new toy and did you remember batteries this year?” “Oh it’s Easter, let’s hack down some palm trees and give up chocolate for 40 days and 40 nights and then gorge ourselves on giant eggs made of chocolate, but only the ones with the proper bars inside, not the fake mockiya ones.” When Jesus went into the desert it wasn’t to give up chocolate – just sayin’.

Maybe this year I should make a resolution not to go off on tangents! 

In summary. I don’t like or acknowledge New Year, but I don’t hate or begrudge anyone who does, I hope you had a mad time on New Years Eve. I do hate and begrudge the people who insist that I MUST make a New Years Resolution! Smokers who quit smoking and then lecture current smokers are these type of people. Go away!

On that note, cupcakes:


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Posted by on January 5, 2012 in Uncategorized


Finally!!! Part 3 & 4… let’s just be done with this

Ok. Fine! I admit it, this blog has become stale. Here’s the skinny: I spent quite a lot of time researching past episodes, building up an impressive reference gallery filled with action shots and relevant images. While all this was going on I had several other brain farts for Blog articles and began fleshing them out. The longer and longer this seemed to go on, the more I strayed away from the Smallville bashing. Then of course came that “Well, if I go back to it now, it’s just going to be awkward and long winded. It’s been too long!” phase. To hell with it, I want to move on, but I hate not having closure, so the extremely abridged version.

Whilst sitting at home one evening, watching an episode from the second half of Season 10, a certain character uttered one simple line. Upon hearing this line I became angry. Hulk angry. I threw cushions at the t.v. (not irrationally angry), the Shrimp hid under the blue crystals that decorate the bottom of their sphere, dogs within a one mile radius started howling and cats turned on their owners. I was disgusted. The hatred that flowed through my veins for that one character bubbled and boiled, and thus, the anti Smallville blog was born.

After counting to ten thousand, trying to calm down, I had a revelation: “I’ve always hated this character!”. My name is Graham and I hate Chloe Sullivan:

I don’t know whether to start by quoting that line and going on a rant, or by simply stating the character’s history and why she annoyed me from beginning to end? Perhaps the latter might be better for all involved.

Chloe was the only character that was not previously part of the Superman canon. She never appeared in any of the comics, nor on any lunch boxes. A brand new, still in its box character for a refreshing new Teen Super Hero t.v. show.

The fact that this character had no origins could have contributed to the “wtf are they doing with her now” moments we had over ten seasons. May I present, “Chloe, the summary:”

  • Hi, I’m chirpy and my character is supposed to be like Dana Scully. I have the “Wall of Weird!”
  • Hi, I’m chirpy and think I might be in love with Clark Kent.
  • Hi, I’m chirpy and I do definitely love Clark, but he definitely loves Lana, so now I’m sad, but I still manage to be overly chirpy.
  • Hi, I’m chirpy and told Clark how I feel, and I also found out that he has powers like all the other weirdoes on my Wall of Weird. Oh wait, now I know he is an Alien. Chirp-tastic!
  • Hi, I’m chirpy, Lois Lane is my cousin and I now live in the same coffee house that Lana lived in because I love Clark, so it stands to reason he will love me back if I live my life like mopey-mcmopey face Lana.
  • Hi, I’m chirpy, I now work for the Daily Planet as a reporter, I still love Clark, but now we are best friends and this photography guy Jimmy Olesen is kind of cute.
  • Hi, I’m chirpy, I am going to marry Jimmy, still love Clark, still chirpy, no longer working for the Daily Planet, instead I have taken over Lana’s uber-tech spy facility. I have always hacked into everything for my darling Clark, so it seems high tech spy person is a good fit.
  • Hi, I’m not really chirpy at the moment, Doomsday murdered Jimmy on our wedding day. Even though I used Black Kryptonite to separate Doomsday and the dishy Kryptonian who he shares a symbiotic relationship with. The dishy Kryptonian died while murdering Jimmy.
  • Still love Clark.
  • Hi, I’m sorta back to chirpy, but not quite. I am now after moving my high tech spy gig into a building we have fondly called “The Watchtower”_(1). I have read all the comics relating to Oracle_(2) and have decided to take that role for myself.
  • Hi, I’m chirpy again, I vanished for a while, you know, running the Suicide Squad_(3), but I am still pretending to be Oracle.
  • Hi, I’m definitely chirpy again. I still love Clark, but now I think I might fancy me some Green Arrow. Yum.
  • Hi I’m married and chirpy, and apparently I am Speedy’s_(4) mom. Clark still gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling though.

And that pretty much sums up Chloe Sullivan. Oh, did I forget to mention the line that pissed me off? Well, during a particular episode, Chloe decides to pat herself on the back for making Clark the Superman he is today. Yup, that’s right. Her new job is to bring teen heroes to their full potential. “I can help heroes like you reach their full potential. There is a billionaire playboy with expensive gadgets, and a Wonderous Woman who can use my help!”


Excuse me? Apparently our dear, chirpy, friend Chloe *twitch* is going to help all these heroes reach their full potential! *twitch* Batman??!! Really??!! BATMAN WILL EAT YOUR CHIRPINESS FOR DINNER!!! I mean honestly, who the f**k do they think they are? To say that this, this, spit of blondness could have anything to contribute to Batman’s rise is a complete farce, and I took it personally. How dare they! I don’t think I could ever forgive the writers for this, and you know what? I won’t.

Even the piss-poor ending, where Supes simply gives Apokolips a little shove to save the day (after receiving his costume from the ghost of his dead human father, in the house of his dead kryptonian father), doesn’t come close to the pain and anger that they caused with this line. Rest in peace Smallville. May we never see Chloe Sullivan again.

Here endeth the lesson.

(1) The Watchtower: Bruce Wayne’s contribution to the Justice League, post crisis. They set this up in orbit to detect future Alien Invasions. The Martian Manhunter stands ever vigilant on board.

(2) Oracle. Barbara Gordon. Previously Batgirl until she was shot by the Joker and paralyzed from the waist down. An amazing character as she hangs up the tights and goes on to become an incredible asset to the Bat family as Oracle. Hacker, information-gatherer, communications expert, and all round bad ass. This is a serious character and one that should not have been wee’d on by the writers of Smallville.

(3) The Suicide Squad. No room for Chirpiness here. Move along!

.(4) Speedy. Son of Green Arrow. Eventually goes on to become the rather impressive Red Arrow. The final scene of Smallville see’s him in the arms of his beloved mother, Chloe, in the background you can see plastic arrows with little suction cups

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Posted by on August 31, 2011 in Uncategorized


Finally!!! Part Two…

Disclaimer 1) If you haven’t already done so, you might want to read Section 1 first.

Disclaimer 2) As it was not made abundantly clear in Section 1, it should be mentioned that I am a Batman fan, first and foremost (probably second and third-most as well). After all he beat down Supes with cunning and guile. Yes, he may have had some help from Kyrptonite Gauntlets, along with the Flash, the Atom and a Robot Dinosaur, but he is “The Man!” and shall always be my number one. Think about it, who else would have made Kryptonite Gauntlets?! Alas, I digress.

Section 2) – The Disappointments and Heartaches:

They say “Love is Blind!”, after all why would a jilted lover return to the one who hurts them over and over again? Though I do not love Smallville, I find myself sharing similar characteristics with jilted lovers all over the world. It hurts me time and time again, and, yet, I keep returning to it, past indiscretions seemingly forgotten.

Some of the more hurtful betrayals include:

The Ongoing Quarrel:

Year in, year out there is always something that will spark an argument amongst a loving couple. As mentioned in Section 1, not flying and no suit, might fit into this description, but there is, however, a third contender. A “does my bum look fat in this dress” type of inescapable scenario. The “does my plot look horrific in this order?”

Yes. Yes it does!

For years now, Smallville has used the same formula. Apparently not fixing what isn’t broken seems to be the mantra of the studio. If only someone had told them it was broken. A new season goes like this:

  • There are about three to five minutes between the “Previously, on Smallville!” and the opening credits of the first episode of a new season. The studio takes these precious minutes and decides to conclude, and wrap up the big cliff hanger from the previous season. Three to Five minutes to kill a story that was growing for “an entire season”. Twelve months of foreplay for a three minute, and quite frankly disappointing, climax.
  • The remainder of the first episode of the season starts to lay the foundation of the new “Big Bad”, with hints, whispers and a lot of guess work needed on behalf of the viewer.
  • The next three episodes follow this trail and might include the collateral damage from the previous season’s “Big Bad”, now entitled “Soon-to-be-forgotten-slightly-smaller-Bad”.
  • The following fifteen or so episodes completely drop the story line and seem to wander off to get lost in the woods, tripping over random background stories and introducing nuggets of the DC Universe, after letting the writers butcher them first. Of course.
  • The last five episodes wake up in the woods, remember there was a story to be told and get to work on rushing through the story only to cut the last three to five minutes so they have something for the start of the next season.
  • Rinse and repeat! For ten years!

The Name Calling:

Calling out a different name while sharing a romantic, passionate moment with someone, is nothing short of disastrous. Maybe even relationship-breaking. Yet again, Smallville does not disappoint. Clark Kent runs around Metropolis fighting crime and then vandalizing the city by laser tagging a nearby surface with The House of El’s coat of arms, the iconic:

With the symbol scattered all over Metropolis, the good people decide to name their Unseen Hero, The Blur. This is apparently short for The Red-Blue Blur. May I please be forgiven for admitting this truth. Every time I hear one of the most recognized Super Hero’s in the world referred to as the Blur, all I can picture is this:

Coincidentally I had two of these as a child. Why two? Well, one fell to the ole “let’s take it apart and see how it works, but then can’t put it back together quite the way it was supposed to be” scheme. That’s not really relevant at this point I guess.

The Great Pretender:

Imagine the horror. You wake up to find that the person you have shared a decent portion of your life with, has pretended to be somebody else. They say, “A Picture speaks a thousand words”:

The more and more I compare Smallville to a loving partner, the deeper my depression goes. The rage and the anger have subsided only to be replaced with a feeling of inadequacy on my part. What did I do to make the show hurt me so many times? Was it my fault? Where did I go wrong?

Screw that! Onto “Section 3 – YOU DID WHAT! – How they butchered the DC Universe and the Superman Lore”.

This will be followed by “Section 4 – The Finale! – Oh, you can’t quite get it up, they have pills for that you know!”

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Posted by on May 29, 2011 in television brings the pain, Uncategorized



Friday brings the end of an era!

<<CAUTION: This post was probably the main reason I set up this Blog. It’s going to be a long, hard trek so I will try to break it into sections. Also, excuse the tangents!>>

Section 1 (I guess) – The Build Up.

Like the person who forgot to wear their pants to school, I have been ridiculed these past few years. Not because of pants, or lack thereof. No for something else. For a television show no less. A super hero show. A show about a man that is faster than a speeding bullet, as strong as a locomotive and can fly. Well, er, he can’t actually fly and it has been ten years! You are correct, I am talking about:

Ten years ago, I watched the pilot of a show I had been anticipating for a while. Could it be? A T.V. show about a DC character? Long gone was Adam West’s (respect!) Batman, Linda Carter’s Wonder Woman and even Dina Meyer’s Birds of Prey! Kevin Conroy had packed in his cape and cowl on the regular Batman: The Animated Series. True he was doing The New Adventures of Batman, Batman Beyond, Justice League and Justice League unlimited right up until 2006, but there was always something about hearing the first three bars to Danny Elfman’s dark cartoon intro that sent shivers down your nerd-spine. This was it! A live show about Superman that promised to live up to, and be better than, Dean Cain & Teri Hatcher’s Lois & Clark!

As I sat and watched the pilot of Smallville, I knew it was something I was going to watch as long as it aired. Sometimes now, I look back on that day and wonder why I didn’t just go out and give it a skip?! Oh, yeah because I’m a wannabe fanboy and this was a show about SUPERMAN!

As the show went on, more of my friends were becoming interested in it and soon enough we used to travel to someone’s house and watch it as a group. After all, a group of young men (yes we were well past our teens at this stage) could appreciate the beauty of Kristin Kreuk and all the little inside references we could catch, and have long discussions about them. Whereas on my own, I’d have nobody to get excited over it with, no one to point out what was wrong, what was right or what comic that particular scene was based on. No, we were few, we were brave and bonded for a while to the crooning of Remy Zero. “Soooooooomebody saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaave me!”. And for a time, it was good!

The group grew and shrank as the weeks went by, until I noticed, around Season 3 or 4, that everyone had something better to do than our weekly ritual of watching Lana pout, Clark being frustrated over something, or Chloe being that little too chirpy, while eating popcorn and wondering the same two things:

  1. When is he going to fly?
  2. Where is the suit?
After all it had been four years at this point. We began to feel a little cheated, and slightly used. Without my Smallville-watching brethren, I walked the road that leads from Smallville to Metropolis alone. Determined to see this show to the end! I had read the stories about producers not wanting him to fly, that the suit would ruin everything, but I didn’t care! They would have to introduce these two fundamental Superman building blocks at some point, right? I mean, they introduced Lois, Green Arrow and practically every kind of Kryptonite ever mentioned and then some. He would have to fly and “become” Superman. I knew it in my heart! I became a prophet on my milk crate, preaching to anyone who would listen to me. “It’s going to swing around!”, “He’ll fly this week, I swear!”, “I think the suit comes into it tonight!” All delusions. All in my head. My friends took pity on me, and for a time, it was good.
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Posted by on May 13, 2011 in television brings the pain, Uncategorized