Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Xmas CD 2006: The Wait is Over

Well, in the words of Slade, Mama, weer all Crazee now. Or did I mean, Eeeeeeet's Chreeeeeeeesmessssssss? Actually, that's probably what I meant. However, I think using the backspace key shows a lack of spine, so I'll just have to leave it up there. Below is My Opinion on the tracks that I put on your Christmas CD. (The reviews start off a bit weakly, I think, but they get better as it goes on. I'll give myself 7/10. Mainly on the strength of this brilliant introduction though, which were it not dragged down by this sentence, would get 9/10 alone.)

The Knife - Like a Pen
Er, they're Swedish. That's all I know. Nice bassline. Er, I think they lyrics might be rude. Damn, I should have started with a track that I can write about, shouldn't I. Oh sod.

Beck - Cellphone's Dead
Beckity Beck-Beck makes it to his second Xmas compilation in a row, an honour unique in history, which surely will please the little lad. Here, he merrily rips off Herbie Hancock's Chameleon (off the 'Head Hunters' album). Cheeky. I think he started shaving this year. Huzzah.

Devendra Banhart - I Feel Just Like a Child
Singer/Songwriter and leader of the hairiest backing band around, Banhart wears his weirdness like a big hat. This is the obvious cross-over hit to get the radio dancing, but the album it's off, Cripple Crow, is well worth a delve.

The Long Blondes - Once and Never Again
Winners of the Most Anticipated Album That Disappointed Slightly On First Hearing But Subsequent Listens Proved It To Be Quite The Grower award this year, it was difficult to decide which track would end up on here. In the end I've plumped for this, mainly because it's got a catchy chorus that, try as you might, is impossible to sing without getting it wrong (unless you can sing better than I can, which [contemptuous snort] I hardly think is likely]. The Female Franz Ferdinand comparisons are a little unfair, considering the wealth of people FF are borrowing from. I unfortunately missed seeing them live in the summer, so will have to make amends.

The Pippettes - Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me
Beloved of the media for the good photograph opportunities they present, The Pippettes have had a good year. It was between this and 'Pull Shapes' for inclusion on your CD. Was I right? From what I've seen, they're good live, and I think they are the sort of band who would do a service to the world by recording a Christmas single. Do it!

Charlotte Gainsbourg - The Operation
The daughter of loyal John Major Cabinet minister David Hunt (Secretary of State for Wales 1990–1993, Secretary of State for Employment 1993–1994, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster 1994–1995, and then finally back to the job he did so well the first time that he did it again for two more weeks in 1995 as Secretary of State for Wales) and his lovely wife, Mrs David Hunt, it's obvious where Charlotte Gainsbourg got her talent from. Oh, hold on, I've just looked at the wrong page; that was the John Major Christmas Annual 1996 rather than my Compendium of Facts About Things. Now, let me see... Ah yes, Charlotte Gainsbourg does have a father, you'll be pleased to know, and I'm sure you'll be able to work out who that is without me patronising you. She also has a mother what's famous - I again refer you to the internet for information. She's an actress too, and was bloody fantastic in Lemming, a taught psychological thriller featuring as a central motif a half-dead lemming stuck in the plumbing. The film is mainly brilliant for the way that French people (and yes, I'm not giving too much away to say that she's French) say 'Leh-MEEENG'. In my opinion she could do with eating some more sticky buns, as she's very theeeeen. Anyway, back to music: she manages to sound aloof, much in the style of Sarah Nixey from Black Box Recorder, which to those of you who knows your stuff about cold, distant and dismissive pop music is very definitely a compliment. I wanted to put 'Jamais' on this CD from the same album, because it's funky, but I was outvoted. I never should have given the cat casting vote in domestic disputes.

Fujiya & Miyagi – Cassettesingle
I think this one goes quite well with the previous track, doesn't it? It's like I've gone through and tried to create a seamless whole out of the disparate shattered music of 2006, JUST FOR YOU. And what thanks do I get? Some, that's what. Fujiya and Miyagi are practitioners of the Tepid Funk music school, which is no bad thing. People get hurt dancing, and that opens you up to all sorts of class action suits in the States. Best turn it down to 6, I think, just in case.

Thom Yorke - Harrowdown Hill
In which Thom accuses Tony Blair of actually and not metaphorically murdering David Kelly with his cold bony fingers. This song moves the Xmas 2006 CD into Jitter-funk, which shouldn't be listened to if you have consumed caffeine recently. It won't be good for you. I'd like to think this song is one that could get people swaying in time at his gigs, lighters out, as they croon along: 'Don't ask me/ask the Ministreeeeeeeeeeeeee'. I imagine Thom would scowl at that, and that would put a stop to it.

Hot Chip - Boys From School
OK, so they dress a bit archly/smackably, esp. the singer in his Buggles spectacles, but this song nudges the funk up to 8 on the dial, so hold on to your hats. Don't say I didn't warn you: hats could come off unexpectedly during this song unless you take adequate precautions. The harmony is nice on this song, don't you think? This helps the genre of indie-dance recover from the yoke of the Soup Dragons that it's been carrying all these years. The whole album's good, and they're good live. I just hope they get some nice smart clothes for Christmas.

King Creosote - Jump At The Cats
To save my poor, poor fingers, a biog can be found within clicking distance. They're good live, too, but sadly come second to Devendra Banhart's lot in the beard stakes. This song can be filed under the Jaunty/Twee section of your thematic filing system.

Guillemots - Made Up Lovesong #43
Stupid Guillemots. You'd've thought they would have been a definite article band, wouldn't you? But, according to the exhaustive research I've done, they don't. Well, here's on of their songs. We're moving away from funky and into noodly here, aren't we?

Jarvis Cocker - From A To I
He's great isn't he? I was going to have Running the World on this compilation, but I didn't want to cause trouble for you at home with your Great Aunt at the family Christmas Meal. On this track, he hectors you to take moral responsibility, which were it anyone other than Jarvis, would merit a smack. Ipswich reference not included for topicality's sake, please note. Oh, and the CD buggers about a bit here, doesn't it? Don't blame me, blame Nero.

Silver Jews - Sometimes A Pony Gets Depressed
You know, I think this song is just about what it says it is. I hope there's no arch references that you'll point out to me so as to show me up as the uncultured thicko that I am. Keep your metatextual analyses to yourselves.

Bob Dylan - Thunder On The Mountain
I'm not going to make any pretence that the new album of BER-LUES is up there with Blood on the Tracks, but this chugs along pretty nicely, and his rasp suits it well. It's the one that references Alicia Keys. I'm hungry. Maybe I should have a biscuit?

Cat Power - The Greatest
Ah yes, a biscuit would be nice. My definition of biscuit greatness is the dark Choco Leibniz, which is the perfect amalgam of firm dark chocolate and buttery crunchy rich-tea-esque biscuit. Can't seem to get one for love nor money round here. Oh well, here's Cat Power. She's probably featured on a past Xmas compilation, hasn't she? You know here by now. If I've got a complaint, the album's a little bit samey, but that's a minor complaint. Sometimes they have those biscuits on two-for-the-price-of-one deals in Tescos. Those are my best days, those days. I wish today was one of those days. I don't think it is though. Fuck you Tescos. Fuck you.

The Last Town Chorus - Modern Love
Which leads me seamlessly into my you-probably-saw-it-coming 2006 cover of an old pop track done in a downbeat slow country style. I'm a sucker for these. Just highlights how great David Bowie was. I'm a bit disappointed that Bowie did that great turn on the second series of Extras, as it was the one high point, and people will now look back on the series with fond affection just because of that brief beacon of greatness, rather than thinking, oh Christ, what did we do to deserve this aimless shambling point-free collection of knowing cameos and feeling-awkward-in-the-presence-of-the-disabled jokes. Actually, there were a few good segments, but it was still shit.

Sufjan Stevens - Star Of Wonder
Ah, and following on from the traditional cover, we have a Christmas Song. This actually gives me a shiver down my spine when I listen to the intro. I haven't actually given his Illinoise album a proper chance yet, as I was wrapped up in the Decemberists when it came out, and there's only so much understated acoustic American whimsy a boy needs, but I'm going to go away and give it both ears at once.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Wii (No Puns Please)

I'm getting me a Wii. You know, the world's most embarassingly named console. Ah Nintendo. The Gamecube was a cube that played games. Logical. Simple. Accurate. Although to the best of my recollection, this logic did not apply to the Gameboy. The N64 was a shorthand for its real name, the 'Nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn', named after the emotion you feel when wandering around the boring landscapes of Mario 64. And the NES did provide systematic entertainment (superbly, in the case of the SNES).

Nomenclature aside, its control system - a wireless motion-sensitive controller that is wafted about to control the games - will probably look acceptable in multiplayer, but I've a feeling I'm going to be self-conscious waving the wii-mote around the flat on my own. There have been cartoons about it. As ever, Wondermark (you know, the one about the smoothies, yeah?) does it best.

I'm excited in a way that can only lead to bitter disappointment. (Update: a woman from Game, the single-worded shop that sells, er, yes, I'll remember it in a minute, have just called me up to tell me that I am guaran-buggering-teed to get the console that I've pre-ordered, and then was slightly mocking when I said that I didn't want to order any games with it. Hmpff. I think a pre-requisite of working in a video games shop is a sneering disregard for your customers, most of whom are grubby-palmed twelve-year-olds. I guess I got off lightly. They're opening at 7am. 7am! I think you're duty bound to go dressed up as Mario if you turn up at 7. I'm going later than that, probably about 10. And dressed as Princess Daisy.)

I'll see you all next Spring, I reckon.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Brian Eno and Damien Rice - Together At Last

Yes, it's been a long time. What can I say? I've been up late watching the cricket, which doesn't leave time for the important things in life like posting to blogs and sleeping. Stupid cricket.

This morning, I've become mildly obsessed by the fact that Brian Eno wrote the startup jingle to Windows 95. That's Brian Eno as in ex-Roxy Music, creator of strange pop music and a man utterly unafraid of pretentious twittering. Anyway, he wrote the start-up sound to Windows 95, which is fair enough. However, I think we've all overlooked the fact that it's possibly the worst piece of music ever written, with the exception of the Intel dur-der-duh-dah! sound that produces a Pavlovian desire in me to go out and strangle people whenver I hear it. You can reminisce about the fun of the Windows 95 start-up sound by clicking here, and remember that this noise indicated that you had a twenty-minute window in which to work before your computer would crash horifically. Ah, them was the days.
Attribution alert: I'm grateful to my better half for drawing attention to the truly nosebleedingly bad lyrics of Damien Rice. It's possible to get away with bad lyrics if you bury them down in the mix with a good dose of rock and/or roll, but if you're a heart on the sleeve singer-songwriter, then frankly, you're setting yourself up for a whole heap of mockery. Take, for instance, "The Animals Were Gone":

Woke up and for the first time the animals were gone
It's left this house empty now, not sure if I belong
Yesterday you asked me to write you a pleasant song
I'll do my best now, but you've been gone for so long

The window's open now and the winter settles in
We'll call it Christmas when the adverts begin
I love your depression and I love your double chin
I love 'most everything that you bring to this offering

and it continues, much in the same vein (that is, badly).

It remains to be seen, however, if the promising inverse talent that he is can ever top "Older Chests" from the first album:

Older gents sit on the fence
With their cap in hand
Looking grand
They watch their city change
Children scream, or so it seems,
Louder than before
Out of doors, and into stores with bigger names
Mama tried to wash their faces
But these kids they lost their graces
And daddy lost at the races too many times

He is aware that you're allowed to rewrite and edit lyrics before recording them, isn't he?

Anyway, that's it from me, because I'm covered in paint. Sorry!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


After buying some new shoes, my anticipation heightens until I can get them home, open up the box, take the shoes out, put them to one side, root around in the box until finally I come across the small packet labelled 'Silica Gel'. Every time, though, I am thwarted and disappointingly have to put it to one side and start lacing up the shoes, because, every time I get the silica gel packet, I'm confronted with the spoilsport words, 'Do Not Eat', ruining my fun. Bah.

Even worse is the only instruction: 'Throw Away'. So blunt that you daren't disobey it. It's the only thing standing between me and a cupboard full of hoarded silica gels that I'm not allowed to eat.

Each time I get new shoes, I also get to remember with fondness how lacing up your shoes in a non-approved fashion-failing way would be merely the prelude to ridicule and abuse as a child. If you were looking for a positive thing to say about bullying, you can definitely say that it instills a sense of correctness and attention to detail in the victim.

Ah, shoes. They sure are evocative things. Just be glad I haven't gone on about shoe boxes yet.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Box Stupid 2

While casually destroying the planet by using paper tissues, I noticed that Kleenex have chosen to mark their fiftieth anniversary of destroying the planet by having a big swirly badge that says "50 Years of MANSIZE STRENGTH".This is the sort of thing that my email spam filter would make short work of. It'll only be a matter of time before we're fitted with eye-spam filters that just leave a fuzzy indistinct patch where otherwise would be "50 Years of MANSIZE STRENGTH".

Project: Do you know someone who is or is about to become a 50 year-old? Why not print out the second photo, and cut it into a badge for them. (Note: Please ensure that the recipent has achieved fifty years of MANSIZE STRENGTH before giving this gift, as the incongruity of a badge saying "50 Years of MANSIZE STRENGTH" on a woman or weedy man will cause laughter and may spoil their otherwise special day).

Yep, I've not been up to much recently. Except for dressing up as a pirate, but that's nothing unusual when you frequent Dressing-Up-As-A-Pirate parties, is it? (Photos in comments to previous post. I'm feeling too too exhausted to cut and paste the addresses again).

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Bouba Diop and Knots

Can't really explain adequately, but I've developed a mild obsession with Bouba Diop from Fulham, the Premiership also-rans. Why Papa Bouba Diop? Is it his giant loping gait as he surges forward from defence? Or is it the fact that his name sounds like the noise you get in arcade machines when you get an extra life? (Clue: it's the second one.) Apparantly his nickname, according to the official website is the frankly unlikely 'Wardrobe'. I fear the explanation of this, frankly, and will not be delving any deeper.

Also on a football bent, mainly just to piss off those of you who dislike football (most people I know), Roy Keane, currently Sunderland manager, is busy practising tieing the world's largest tie knot. For Roy to stand out amonsgt the already noted for their large-knottedness breed of footballers, it's clear testimony to his fearless professionalism that he has to be the best at what he does, even if this is just tieing his tie. What a pro.
Sorry, that's a lot of football, really. Pretend they're pirates if that helps.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Conversations I Didn't Have With Shop Assistants vol n+1

Scene: At the desk at an electronics shop, waiting for the Chip and PIN machine to confirm my credit-worthiness.

Electronics Shop Assistant One: Well, I ain't being discriminatory or anything, but you won't know what it is...
Electronics Shop Assistant Two: I might.
ESA1: Alright then. It's like a cross between a lychee...
ESA2: Right...
ESA1: ...and an apple.
ESA2: An apple?
ESA1: An apple.
ESA2: Oh.
ESA1: See what I mean? Knew you wouldn't've heard of it.
ESA2: What does it taste like?
ESA1: Oh man...
ESA2: Hmm?
ESA1: It tastes like a cross between...
ESA2: Yes?
ESA1: ...a cross between an apple and a lychee.
ESA2: Oh.

There's probably a word out there for the feeling that you get when you wish you had asked someone what the name of the fruit they were describing was but didn't. However, I don't care what that word was. I just want to know what the name of the fruit was. What was it? WHAT?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Tony Blair and the Flight of Fancy

You know when you half pick up on something, and then don't want to know any more because it will inevitably spoil the magic as you learn more and find out that it's not actually as interesting as you first thought? Well, probably not, because that's quite a badly written sentence, but I am currently amusing myself with the news that there's a memo been leaked that supposedly planned for Tony Blair to make appearances on Blue Peter and Songs of Praise. Unfortunately, I already sort of know that this is to 'secure his legacy' and ease transition for the next leader of the party, but I'd love it if this were the contingency plan for all national emergencies. Say there were a chemical leak in the North Sea that threatened coastal communities and devastated fishing stocks? Get Tony on telly quick! He can be squeezed into the Blue Peter, between a segment on the Romans and the putting of the tortoise into the cardboard box of hibernation. Perhaps he could get into a centurion costume? Great. Were there to be mass rioting gutting Birmingham and spreading to other cities, perhaps he could pop into Songs of Praise, and, on acoustic guitar, belt out some rousing hymns to steel the reserve of the terrified populace?

Stupid truth. Always getting in the way of my whimsical fun.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

On the Perils of Being a Stevenage Borough Fan; Dancing

Right, you work-shy fops, everyone have a good bank holiday weekend? I watched the increasingly infuriating Stevenage Boro valiantly fight their way from being 2-0 up after 12 minutes to draw 3-all for the second time in three days. It's these kind of things that make people go all crazy. If you hear of anyone embarking on a rampage through Stevenage town centre hurling heavy blunt objects from a vintage French bicyle, don't report me to the police. I've had a hard time of it, and I'm too beautiful for prison.

Watch this, it's a good representation of how I think I dance:

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Raisin Wheats, My New Breakfast Fear-eal

My breakfasts just got a whole lot more soul-curdlingly terrifying. I decided to switch from Special K (which features aspirational air-brush renderings of the womanly curves I could hope to achieve if I chomp my own weight in the stuff) to Kellog's Raisin Wheats. I didn't look closely enough when picking it off the shelf and now I have to look at this every morning. The anthropomorphic embodiment of the cereal is known as Mr Wheat ("May I call you Wheaty?" "NO! I AM MR WHEAT! ADDRESS ME AS SUCH!") and looks like the trunk of a particularly knarled ancient oak. He appears, sad mismatched eyes imploring, on the back of the box pleading with you to eat what can only be his children.

I think I'll have some toast.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Inexplicably Funny Cartoon and My Rendezvous in Birmingham

OK, this cartoon is the FUNNIEST THING EVER. Seriously. EVER. If anyone could actually explain it to me, I'd find it even funnier.

Tomorrow I have arranged to meet a man that I do not know at Birmingham Moor Street station. I will only be able to work out if it is him or not because he will be in the possession of an antique French bicycle. He may even be riding the antique French bicycle, but that would be a bit rude of him, frankly, and I don't think we'd get on.

As you can probably guess, I've purchased a sexy old-fashioned racer on e-bay, and am going to pick it up tomorrow. I am even more excited about this than when the 256MB of laptop memory that I use even now to write these words arrived.

I will easily be able to recognise him because of his antique French bicycle, but how will he be able to recognise me? I was thinking about this, and have decided that the best thing to do will be to jump up and down like an exited child shouting "Bike! Bike! Bike!" until he comes over and hands over my antique French bicycle.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Zidanimation; The Day of the Flying Ants

I'm just being lazy here, as I could download the best ones and put them on this page, but instead, I'm going to direct you to, which if you scroll through to look at the pretty pictures, you will see that lots of nerd hours have been spent creating the next AYBABTU with what I'm sure everyone's calling Zidanimations. Sadly, few of them focus on the nipple-tweak, but you can't have everything. There's a good one of a cat assassin and another good one embedding Zizou's victim in a Japanese Anime cartoon. [Edit: Actually, I've put some of the best ones up here, but still go to because there's loads more]

Yesterday, in my neck of the woods, was the Day of the Flying Ants. Have you had yours yet? They'll rise up against us one day, mark my words.

Monday, July 10, 2006

In Defence of Zidane

I'm sure in the fullness of time (i.e. tomorrow's back pages) the full story of what actually happened will come out, but in the absence of all the facts, I'm sticking firmly to a defence of Zizou and his rush of butt to the head. It was almost certainly in the face of extreme provocation (with at the very least a nipple-tweak, which I'd love to have seen a freekick given for, just because I've never seen a nipple-tweak free kick, and I'd love to hear John Motson say 'nipple-tweak' in a surprised voice and then do that self-satisfied 'huh' laugh of his), and at least it was a good honest bit of rage, that had no slight-of-hand, subterfuge or devious cheating skullduggery behind it, just plain simple violence, which is refreshing to see. Then again, I'm all for flogging divers, not just giving them a yellow card. Also, I'm trying to justify Wayne Rooney, and violent but honest football the world over.

If it was something racist that was said by Materazzi, I'd like to see him severely punished, because I hate Italians (note the layers of irony I work with there. Please only use such heavy handed irony under the instruction of a trained professional.).

Radio Four lived up to all I love and hate it for this morning when a listener pointed out that technically, it wasn't a head-butt, as all butts are by definition with the head, and the 'head' of head-butt refers to the butt making contact with another head. Give the Director General another hundred grand!

Friday, June 30, 2006

Sun vs Football, the World Vs Voicemail, Me vs Meringue, the World vs Andy Murray

I now face the eternal dilemma: to watch the Germany vs Argentina game, or sit in the sun? I can't help but feel I've stretched the definition of eternal a little, but I'm still in a slight quandry.

I'm not the only one who hates voicemail more than the Pope hates the devil. And also contraception. And Muslims. Put together. (Warning - people provide very geeky, very techy solutions here. My alternative (delete them) has the edge in the elegance stakes, I like to think.)
Does anyone what a meringue? A student's just given me one, and I want to get it out of the way before I eat it and feel the emptiness inside that eating meringues brings. Help!
I assume you've been following the Andy Murray Shitstorm of Scottishness controversy. English fans will presumably be supporting anybody but Andy Murray. I can see the love/hate thing continuing with this curly haired wee radge.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Why I Hate Nikki from Big Brother; Art Brut Appreciation Update; Why I Hate Voicemail More Than The Guy at the Guardian Who Hates Voicemail

I shouldn't be allowed to watch Big Brother. My hatred for Nikki turns me into a one-man angry mob, baying for blood and picking up rhetorical pitchforks and burning torches. Grr.

It's Thursday. My infatuation with Art Brut (see below) is now over. Oh well. It was fun while it lasted.
Coincidentally, this Grauniad opinion piece about the evil of voicemails echoes a rant I made down the pub last night. I say coincidentally, but it's entirely possible that I was overheard by a feverishly short-hand writing journo and turned unwittingly into an Opinion Holder. However, his rant misses out on some of the key elements of Why I Hate Voicemail:

  • Voicemail Takes Too Long. Firstly, you've got to listen to the jabber. You can't just phone them back because they don't leave their number until the end, and my sodding voicemail doesn't automatically record their number, and people always leave their number at the end of the message. I could dedicate an hour a day to going through and just noting my voicemails, without actually getting round to doing anything about them.

  • Names and Numbers. People quite often don't leave these. What the blue blazing hell am I supposed to do with their message if I don't know who they are or how to contact them, I ask rhetorically, my arms milling around wildly to illustrate my oh-so-valid point.

  • Clunkmail, More Like. Voicemails can't be printed out, filed, saved for posterity or anything remotely useful. They can be listened to, and then deleted. If someone gives me something useful by voicemail, I then have to write a note of it. It's like if instead of sending me emails, people wheeled their computer into my office, plugged it in and booted up, allowed me to read their message, then wheeled their computer away when I'd read it.

  • Idiots Leave Voicemail. By and large, people who leave voicemails on my phone are stupid. I can attest to their stupidity primarily because my voicemail message asks them to send me an email and not leave a voicemail message. The onesimply expressed instruction I leave, and what do they do? Ignore it. Then leave a message where I can hear the drool of their stupidity drip down on to the mouthpiece as they leave messages of such monumental stupidity that I begin to question whether the human race has any kind of future without a serious cull taking place.
When will this madness end? When?
Still, it's not all bad. I've got an official Panini World Cup sticker of Shaun Wright-Phillips in the pack I bought today. Actually, that's not true. I swapped it. Anyway, I assume this means he can play in the World Cup now, as I can't think of anything more legally binding than a sticker album, so Sven has got another attacking option. Could someone pass this information onto him? Probably the best way to reach him is to send it in a letter stapled to a leggy blonde.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Token World Cup Mention; My New Giddy Teenage Romance

Ah the World Cup. The convenient source of all my man-chitchat at the moment. Whereas before awkward talk about the weather would have filled the time between the guy in the cafe starting up his coffee machine and me leaving, now we can chat in relaxed style about the weakness in Germany's defence, the psychological state of blubbery Brazilian forwards and whether Argentina look dangerous in spite of the haircuts.

My current short-lived enthusiastic teenage musical infatuation is, perhaps a year or so late, Art Brut who are punky, fizzy and endearingly amusing. Who could resist the couplet 'We're gonna be the band that writes the song/That makes Israel and Palestine get along'. I'd imagine they won't be overly flattered when I compare them to Sultans of Ping, and I'm not sure it's possible to sound like Sultans of Ping in a good way, but they do. I'm going to work out what the modern-day equivalent of wearing a hole through an LP, and then do it to their album 'Bang Bang Rock & Roll'.

Friday, June 02, 2006

What's Parked Outside My Work; The Robot Bill

There is a black Ford Capri parked outside my building with the engine running and a guy with shoulder-length curly blond hair, sovereign ring glistening on the steering wheel. I now know the feeling a minor character in The Sweeny must have (For reference, this feeling is: gnawing doubts to the core of my being with traces of mania in the corners, like a vicar presiding over a funeral who has secretly taken a pill.)

By way of a Friday Frippery, I offer you a link to The Robot Bill, worth watching for the title sequence, general concept and the fact that the episode seems to be about the misappropriation of lamps.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Peter Crouch; English Language Why You Confuse Me So; Bloody Acoustic Singer Slash Songwriters

Peter Crouch. Not only does he have the misfortune of looking like a gawkier Gareth from the Office, but when he does score goals, he chooses to celebrate them with robot dancing. Here's hoping for lots of goals from him at the World Cup; perhaps he breakdances and does headspins when he gets a hat-trick. Poor misshapen freakboy.

A woman behind me on the bus answered her phone (her ringtone was Chewbacca roaring) and then said, in a loud foreign mocking of the English language, 'I'm in the bus'. Now, leaving aside for the moment the calls to have her deported (and to a country she's not even from, that's how deported she'd be), why do we say 'on' rather than 'in'? We say 'on' when talking about public transport, but 'in' when talking about cars. Why? Five seconds on Google has failed to answer this question.
At an acoustic night I was at yesterday, there was a guy up on stage, and in keeping with the general tone of today's post, he was From Overseas. He did an entertaining romp through Ace of Spaces, and then announced that he was doing one of his own songs. His girlfriend jiggled excitedly in her seat, chain-smoking. This song, he said, is about my ex-girlfriend. She, he said, had such a moody face in the mornings. A moody face like you haven't seen. She was, and he shrugged and paused here to suggest that mere words couldn't begin to describe how moody her face was in the mornings, very moody in the mornings. Then, with only a bit of further ado, he launched into a lacklustre acoustic number where he complained about her moody face. Including lines like 'you've got such a moody face'. I wanted to take him to one side and say, look, you've got guitar skills and a nice singing voice. But can I introduce you to a little thing I like to call 'metaphor'. It will allow you to say that things are other things, by which you can compare them and draw out analogies. Er, analogies? That's where - oh, forget it. The rich world of imagery and imagination might be a little too much to embark on all at once. Oh, and Squealingly Excited Girlfriend? You do realise that when he's broken up with you, he's going to be singing songs on stage called things like My Ex-Girlfriend Smoked Too Much and Also Had a Moody Face Like That Other Girlfriend To Whom I Referred in an Earlier Song (Not That I Said As Much To Her at the Time, Oh No - Do I Look Stupid?).

Thursday, May 25, 2006

On Wirelessness and Greggs

I haven't been posting very much recently, mainly because all of my waking hours not spent blinking in baffled amazement have been spent setting up a Wi-Fi network at home. I understand that the term 'Wi-Fi' comes from the widiculously fiddly setting up that you have to do.

Anyway, it's all up and running and I can have as many computers as I've got limbs sharing the internet. More, even. I'm not quite sure why I've done it, other than because it feels futuristic. I have to wear a jumpsuit round the house now. That's how futuristic it is.

I'm just going to sing the praises of Greggs the Bakers. I'm sure there's a dedicated team of Eurocrats ready to ban it lurking somwhere in Brussels. When it goes, I'll miss the sight of hardened bruisers wearing t-shirts in February and being led by a pitbull with balls the size of tangerines coming in and ordering 'two yum-yums please'. All also miss the woman wearing an Arsenal shirt, carrying a bag from the Arsenal shop with a child no doubt named Tony Adam Charlie George Smith buying Tottenham cakes.

Ah, nostalgia. And it was only yesterday it happened.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Mog is Murder

I get home from work and find a trail of feathers in the hall. Bloody feathers. And a pleased looking cat. And where the recycling box lives, a dead pigeon. A bloody huge bloody pigeon. It was about the size of Mog, the murdering cat. Given that she has trouble getting herself through the catflap minus a pigeon, I can only speculate, but given the blood smeared around the catflap, it must have taken a while, and involved a good degree of force. You'd have to admire her dedication if you didn't have to clean up all the blood and feathers and dispose of the corpse.

I'm no fan of pigeons (Carrier pigeons? Yeah, as in carrier of disease. Arf.), but being confronted with the logical result of my hatred humbled me. My murdering cat has proved the error of my hatred, and I now love pigeons and do not wish them even the slightest harm, even if they are useless, ugly, disease-splattered, noisy shit-fer-brains who are so fat, deformed and lazy that they scarcely ever bother to fly, and when they do it's with the least amount of hight possible, so you always have to end up ducking otherwise you get a face full of pigeon beak, which is an experience I never want to have. So, yes, I'm over my pigeon hatred, thanks to the wise example of my murdering cat.

And now she's chasing a fly round the flat with the intention of killing it to death, like the poor unmourned pigeon.

Having a mobile phone with internet access is dangerous, especially if you're bored. After a heated discussion (a mass debate, if you will) over the weekend about whether Islam frowned on masturbation (and most thought it probably would), I was emailed the definitive answer, which is how I came to be sat in a meeting with, in large bold letters, the words 'Masturbation in Islam' sat on my phone. And I'd've had a job explaining them, as I said I was just going to check on the cricket score.

Fortunately, I currently remain unsacked.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Deadpan Conversations With Taxi Firms, Vol n

Scene: a telephone line over which is being booked a minicab to take
me, L and a computer I've just picked up for a friend back home. We
have a crisp clean line, in a quiet flat which is also expensively
crisp and clean.
Minicab Telephone Woman: So, what's the road name again?
Me: Pall Mall
MTW: Can you spell that?
Me: Pee-ay-ell-ell em-ay-ell-ell.
MTW: What's the postcode? [I give the postcode] And is there a 'Road'
after that?
Me: No, it's just Pall Mall. The Queen lives there if that helps.

This continues for some time. Quite why I thought that bringing the
Queen into it would help I don't know. I can't imagine she books
minicabs that often, and I'm sure she pronounces things very
differently, having only one vowel sound at her disposal (a sort of
strangled 'urgh' noise acting in place of the many varied sounds we
might use).

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

David Blaine Due to Drown in a Giant Bowl Filled Only With His Own Sense of Self-Importance; Morrissey

So, David Blaine, noted 'illusionist', has got a new 'illusion' which involves him being put in a bowl of water. I think it's about time for him to move on from all the death-defying tricks he's being doing, and start a new line of death-embracing stunts.

At the Morrissey gig at Ally Pally yesterday (review: Pretty good, although he played too much off the new album) the King Bouncer came out to tell the assembled queue for the doors that in addition to the usual litany of drinks, cameras, etc. that aren't allowed into the venue, anyone found bringing burgers or other meat into the venue would be ejected, which was quite funny. I suspect it's his party piece, and a welcome break from beating people up and drinking Strongbow. We were also stood behind someone who had the great misfortune to look exactly like Wayne Rooney. I think he'd been a test subject on the ugly drugs trial, and there weren't no way he got the placebo. Yuk, he was U.G.L.Y and he didn't appear to have an alibi.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

On Throwing Around Accusations of Marathon Running; Worrying About Absconding Cats; Coat Commemorations

A blind student at work just ran the London Marathon (in five hours!) and I was just looking him up on the website when it occurred to me that with all the thousands of runners, there may well be someone with my name running, and therefore I could claim to have run the marathon, in order to gain some much needed respect from my peers. Possibly also a bit of awe at the dedication I put in with my training, and the selfless way I didn't brag about how hard it was: "He didn't bang on about it; that was typical of Jim". I think I'd stop short of claiming to have raised massive amounts of money for charity, as I don't want to get too Jeffrey Archer, but I'd probably get carried away in the deception. Anyway, there wasn't anyone with my name, but the idea of running the marathon for zero effort was just too attractive to me, so I started looking up other people to see if they could start to live a life of exciting misrepresentation of the facts. I then stumbled across the names of one of my friends' fathers, and it's not like their name is David, Steven or Christopher. No, it's a name with no vowels in it - that's obscure. They did it in 7 hours, which is a bit slow, but they finished at exactly the same time as someone with the name of their daughter. Too coincidental, I thought, so I sent a text accusing them of having a father and sister run the marathon.

Got an email back, and turned out it wasn't them, but a curiously fluky couple of people with exactly the same names. They even had good alibis.

Don't let my disappointment stop you though; accuse someone you know of having run the marathon today.

I let the cat out into the garden yesterday, and she immediately went into next door's garden to hiss at the other neighbourhood cats, both of whom are about twice the size of her. She then disappeared into another garden, and all I could hear was the sort of noises that they have as sound effects in cartoons illustrated by a big ball of dust moving along with occasional fists and legs coming out. Fortunately, she stopped fighting other cats and came back, minutes before L came home and I'd have got in trouble for losing our cat. Not that this was my primary worry, oh no.

Mog's main fighting technique, from what I can tell when she squares up to the cat that sits on the other side of the glass outside our bedroom window, is to hiss, which unleashes her terrible breath. Man, it's bad.
In order to screw up our collective chances of a good summer, I've started wearing my summer jacket. And bought some garden furniture. To counter this bad karma, I've just bought two wooly hats. Come on then, weather, what do you think of that?

On the subject of my summer jacket: I've had it for 9 years. Next year will be it's 10th birthday. What can I do to celebrate this fact. I could give it a badge saying 'I am 10', but it would be quite hard for the ordinary nerk on the street to distinguish this being my coat's 10th birthday, not mine. Any ideas? I could take it away somewhere nice for a weekend, I suppose.
Oh, and I'm sorry to those who's bosses are so full of humbuggery that they block access here. I'd get myself worked up about freedom of speech, censorship and so forth if I didn't agree with them. Get back to work!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Whimsy; My Fear of Retribution from Hackney Council's Hired Goons;Mog, the Cat

Quick dose of whimsy: This from McSweeny's tickled me for it's none-more-whimsical whimsy.

I'm posting this because I'm worried that I may 'disappear' shortly. Hackney Council have recently made recycling compulsory for residents, backed up by £1000 fines. Committed recycler that I am, I make sure that the green box is out on the doorstep every Monday morning, so I was perturbed to find a threatening note shoved through the letter box last Thursday saying that they hadn't found our recycling box outside, and making various threats about what they could do to me. It's true: I hadn't put the box outside last Thursday. In my defence, they don't actually collect the recycling on Thursdays, but I'm worried that residents may now be expected to make a conspicuous display of loyalty to the concept of recycling by leaving your recycling box with a token sacrificial wine bottle and shiny tin can outside every day.

I also don't like the way that the system is policed by the waste industry, which Ask Yahoo tells me is always run by the Mafia. I may end up sleeping with the fish-heads if I don't. If you don't hear from me for a couple of weeks, check the bottle banks of N4 for my many and various body parts.
I'm very excited because tomorrow I'm going to to gouge a hole in our back door to fit a cat flap. I'll have to use a jigsaw to do it, and if it all goes wrong I may just end up with a cat hole, rather than a cat flap. Or no back door. We'll see.
Also, the cat's name is Mog, and she's settling down very well. She's fond of:
  • a good meow
  • Whiskas
  • running about
  • hiding in bags
  • not answering her name
  • being scared of Guy moving about upstairs
  • running at full pelt the length of our flat, pulling up with millimetres to spare before crashing into the all-too-solid kitchen units, then mooching around nonchalantly as though she hadn't done anything crazy just then.
Enough cat for the moment. Be warned of more soon, though.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Attempting To Convey My Getting a Cat in an Extremely Forced Sporting Metaphor; More on the Cat; Further Cat News; Cat Obsession Takes Full Hold

My nil-nil draw of a pet life is about to be shattered, as the referee (the Mayhew Animal Home, dressed in black and blowing a whistle) has awarded me a penalty kick in the shape of a two-year-old moggy (pictured left). We're collecting the penalty kick, er, cat on Saturday.

Ok, I give up on the laboured metaphor. We're getting a cat. Whoop. A big prize to anyone who can come up with a good name for the cat. Although be warned: the prize is one of those intagibles like the satisfaction of a job well done or the feeling of contentment on having named a cat. Sorry. All my money's going on litter and gonks for cats to play with from now on.

I'll probably write this blog from the point of view of the cat from now on. But not in a good way. No. In a way that lists what I did all day. And be assured that if my understanding of cats gleaned from the book on cats I've just read is any any way accurate, cats do not spend much time writing about the virtues of WD40.

Yeah, I thought that'd get you.

Anyway, all I have to do now is worry about the perceptions of men who own cats. Yes, those perceptions. I'll compensate by calling the cat Killer or Fang and taking up a manly hobby like carpentry or violence. And then posting pictures of myself on the Men With Cats page (Warning: will confirm your opinions of men who like cats and then some).

In order to pass the Herculean cat adoption tests the Mayhew Animal Home has put in our way, I had to get a letter confirming that our landlord both allowed us to have cats and wouldn't use their spare keys to sneak in and put sellotape on cats while they slept. In my conversation with my landlord, I was saying that she lived close to the gigant-o-normous Colney Hatch Lane Tescos, and that I could pick up the letter and go food shopping and thereby 'kill two babies with one stone'. I didn't dwell on it, but I'm not sure that it's the sort of thing you want to hear from someone who's about to become the guardian of a cat life. Come to think of it, it's definitely not the sort of thing you want to hear from someone who's going to come round to your house to pick up the letter. She did appear a bit nervous while writing the letter, but I think that was Microsoft Word's fault. I really have no idea why I said it, but now that I've devoted so much time to it, it's all the more likely to come out again.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

WD40; Who I've Nearly Killed; and The Guardian Recognises That I'm Right

I have spent the last few days feverishly spraying just about everything in sight with WD40. It somehow brings me immense satisfaction to have doors glide open and shut with the effortless ease of a Jesus in ballet shoes tip-toeing on a calm pond. Every day I think of more things that would be improved with just a little squirt of WD40 on them. However, I'm not nearly obsessed enough to join the WD40 Fan Club. It is taking all the willpower I possess not so sign up, especially when there's apparently two thousand uses for WD40 listed on the site. That's

  1. Lubricate front door

  2. Lubricate living room door

  3. Lubricate kitchen door

  4. Lubricate back door

  5. Lubricate Shed door...

Would someone who isn't me please sign up and tell me what it's like inside? I don't trust myself not to become completely obsessed and spend the rest of my life posting poetry about the amazing properties of WD40 on WD40 chatrooms.

Similar to the Crouch End blog I See Famous People, I could set up a blog detailing all the celebrities I've nearly harmed. I nearly killed Francis Wheen today. He was trying to cross Upper St while I was cycling down it, and my precise series of thoughts were 'Oh, that's Francis Wheen. Or is it spelt Ween? He's looking a bit jowlier and greyer than when I last saw a picture of him. I should stop and tell him that I really enjoyed his book. Now, what was it called? How Gibberish Conquered the World? Was that it? No, it wasn't, was it? Oops, just sped past him at great speed, narrowly avoiding him. Oh, yes, it was How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World. That was it. Ah, now I'm about half a mile away from him."

I also may or may not have seen Zane Lowe, but as I couldn't be sure it was Zane Lowe, I couldn't be absolutely certain whether to harm him or not.
At last the leading left-leaning broadloid newspaper gives me my due. A search of The Guardian's website for the phrase "Jim McKenzie is right" (
) does indeed bring up a page with the unarguable statement "Jim McKenzie is right" on it. Unfortunately, what I'm right about is specifically that the horrendous Roxy's nightclub in Sheffield became an evangelical church, and it's in the over-by-over live cricket commentary on the India v England Test, rather than, say, an comment piece by Polly Toynbee on Why Jim McKenzie is Right About Everything. It's a start though. Get writing, Polly.

Friday, March 10, 2006

On Accusing My Girlfriend of Being Rude About Other People on the Internet

When seeing a post on that said about Stewart Lee:

He's not funny, or pushing any boundaries. He's just dull. Laura 05.10.05

I thought, aha! I bet I know which Stewart-Lee-disliking-Laura who saw him on his Autumn 2006 90s Comedian tour this was. And I sent my girlfriend an email in no uncertain terms accusing her of writing this and what had she got to say for herself, eh?

Of course, she denies it. But what are the chances of there being two Lauras (a name ranked 92nd most popular for girls born in 2001) who saw Stewart Lee around this time? Eh? OK, probably quite high. Let's say about 1000 people saw him at his Soho Theatre shows then, and probably about 650 of these were boys, because, let's face it, nerdy deadpan scatalogical highbrow humour is something that appeals to boys more. Let's say that 3 or the 350 women were called Laura. This leads me to believe (based on a statistically insignificant base, with numbers made up off the top of my head, on a Friday afternoon when I've had quite a tiring day at work) that a shocking 2/3 or more of Lauras actively dislike Stewart Lee, with some even going to the lengths of posting things on the internet about it, which I believe is some kind of difficult and technical thing involving computers and code and hacking. If I were Stewart Lee (and the chances are that I aren't), I would be less worried about Christians hating him than Lauras hating him.

Or Christian Lauras. I'm going to sit and make up statistics about Christians now. I'll probably be some time...

Expect there to be a rash of articles on Monday morning proclaiming '96% of All
Church-Going Christians Are Called Laura (and That's Just the Boys!!!)'.

Enjoy your respective weekends, freeeeks.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Postcards to Dead Bands. Wooooo.

A curious fringe benefit of me getting rid of all my CD cases (I can see you already reeling off the obvious ones. Stop it. You're embarrassing me. Let's just say there's lots of benefits, and you can stop your whirring brain whirring) is that I found lots of those little postcards that you can complete and send back and the record company will then send you lots of information about that artist. Now, I've saved all the ones that have got postage paid, so if you want me to start receiving junk mail on any of the following artists, or just cost the record company some money, let me know and I'll fill in the card and send it off. What really intrigues me is what will happen when I write in requesting information on bands that no longer exist. Will the helpless record company stooge (or person working at 3 Alveston Place in Leamingon Spa, which is the epicentre of this particular niche marketing area) look at the poor scruff requesting information about the still very listenable to in parts Ultrasound who folded after their endearingly overblown debut failed to see millions and see Tiny, their not-a-supermodel-by-any-stretch-of-the-imagination singer, become a jet set rock 'n' roll star, and take pity, and write back a note saying that sadly, owing to the vagaries of this damn industry, they were cruelly neglected, damn it all to hell. Or perhaps it will be the secret password to an alternative music industry that has been kept hidden in a flotilla of large ships of the Kent coast, where Ultrasound are recording their 3rd album, and they'll be doing a well-advertised tour of medium-large venues throughout the UK in the Spring. Or perhaps it'll just get thrown in the bin. It's a risk I take on your behalf.

  • Belle & Sebastian (who have moved to a bigger record label since this card was produced, which will no doubt cause a sucking of teeth when they receive this card, a-ha!)

  • Another Jeepster card for Belle & Sebastian

  • Bernard Butler

  • Billy Bragg

  • Finley Quaye (sorry. Maybe you could write insults about me on the card. After all, I was fool enough to buy this album. And later buy his second album for £1.99)

  • Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

  • Placebo (I once served a big burly bloke when I worked in Our Price who came in asking for the place-bo single. I couldn't work out whether to laugh at the idea of this hairy-knuckled hulk boogieing away to the oh-so-forced gender confusion of Brian Molko and co, or to snigger at his mispronunciation. Instead I just told him the release date. Perhaps he became a goth. I've seen it happen. They're not born that way; it's a choice.There was a regular customer who, one Saturday was a nerd, in glasses and a buttoned-up shirt, and the next Saturday had all these piercings and neck-rings and black clothes and make-up. He was into Depeche Mode, which should have made it a less alarming change than it was.)

  • Porcupine Tree (Embarrassing Prog. Oh, deary me. I'm a closet Pink Floyd fan. Boo me.)

  • Radar Records (Who I presume don't exist any more, but who knows?)

  • Radiohead

  • Sparklehorse

  • Supergrass

  • The Auteurs (disbanded! And Luke Haines solo stuff is shit! This card is the last link to when he was good!)

  • Two for the Chemical Brothers. (Presumably one for Tom, and one for the other one, who, for these purposes we'll assume is called Colin)

  • Ultrasound (like what I said before)

Monday, February 27, 2006

George Michael: So the Man Needed A Snooze; What's Wrong With That?

I'm not sure, but I suspect, based on evidence from this article on George Michael's arrest, that the New York Daily News may not be quite the respected bastion of news values I first thought. It's the line "Wake me up before I go, go - to jail" that makes me think that.

Pop stars must now realise that they have to choose their song titles very carefully, lest they come back to haunt them as punning references in news articles reporting the celebrity's implication in a horrific quintuple homicide.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Deadpan Conversations: The Shop Comes To Me

Scene: My front door, being answered by me wearing, for reasons that are too convoluted to go into at the present time, a shirt and a pair of shorts, with a knee. that is bleeding down my leg. There stands before me a man holding my delivery takeaway.

Man Holding My Takeaway: Here you go.
Me: Thank you. How much was it?
MHMT: You should have told me that Wilberforce Rd is blocked from one end. £6.75 please.
Me: Oh. I'm sorry. Here you go.
MHMT: You should have told me. I've a lot of deliveries to make; it's a busy night.
Me: I'm sorry.
MHMT: You should have told me.
Me: I'm sorry. I don't drive, y'see.
MHMT: [backing away towards his car] You should have told me...

Nice food though. Curry Club. Tottenham Rd. Crouch End. Just make sure your directions are up to scratch, y'hear?

An excitable tutor came in today, and told me that they had a student on one of the undergraduate courses called 'Bugs Bunny'. I took this in my stride, as I am a keen idle tapper-into-databases of rude/funny words to see what comes up. My own personal favourites have been a student whose surname was 'Moneybum' and a student whose middle name was 'Muvvafuk'. And there it was, on the computer screen in front of me. The student, if student it really is, is apparently due to be on the undergraduate Media Studies course. Ah, 'Mickey Mouse' course. I geddit. Someone's still going to be sacked for inventing students, though.

There are two students called 'Wankey', though. Ah, databases. You satisfy my basest desires. If only you could be taught to love.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Totalisers and the Gnawing Agony They Create

There must be a word in the English language to describe the sudden and unprompted realisation that the totalisers on Blue Peter used to chart the progress of their annual charity appeal were set at a pathetically attainably low level in order to give the children watching a sense of awe and collective achievement as they saw the appeal total soar past the original target on to several new totalisers lined up alongside the original totaliser while the over-enthusiastic saucer-eyed presenters gibbered on about how well the appeal was doing. It's a feeling akin the the recognition that your entire childhood is naught but a tissue of lies, but this as-yet-unnamed Blue Peter feeling is all the more spirit-crushing in its specificity.

Not sure what a totaliser is, and confused by my insistent use of the word totaliser? An example is visible at Rotherham United Football Club's site where you can see how much money they've raised for no stated purpose. I like to think it's a fund to allow the good people of Rotherham to disband Rotherham United Football Club. Over half way there!

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Unexpected Benefits of Buying a Magazine You've Already Read

I bought the current issue of Private Eye (20th Jan - 2nd Feb), despite already having read it at my parents' house. Yes, it was a foolish mistake; a mistake, furthermore, that has cost me £1.40. However, this £1.40 was worthwhile in order to demonstrate the old 'a week is a long time in politics' truism. On page 8, following a long series of allegations about the drinking, lying, and sexual habits of leading Lib Dems comes the following:

"There are no drinking and shagging stories about Mark Oaten, MP for Winchester and one of the serious candidates for the leadership of the Lib-Dems (if that's not a contradiction in terms)."


Unless I'm being incredibly naive, and this is the Eye being knowing and suggestive, and using innuendo to such a high degree that it's all but invisible, but that's hardly their style. They normally just publish it, with as much detail, hearsay and cruelty as they can squeeze in.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Armando Iannucci; Time Out Rate-Hate System

I bring exciting news for those of you who have been ignoring the back page of the new smaller-but-fatter The Observer recently. I accidently caught sight of the back page of the news section in a mirror yesterday, and discovered to my great joy that it had on it a column by Armando Iannucci, about whom the internet will probably tell you a lot. They've been very funny, and if like me you have a mortal fear of the back page of a newspaper that doesn't contain either pictures of Sven or adverts, then you can avoid confronting your fears by looking here, here, here, and also here. Great.

Now, those of you who live in London will no doubt be aware that Time Out hates everything. Be it plays, art, books, music (in single, album or live format) or films, they think it's beneath them to show any sign of enjoyment. They've even invented a ratings scheme specially to systematise their disdain. They mark everything out of stars, which is conventional enough, but not five stars, oh no, they mark things out of six stars. This allows them to have the unattainable sixth star sitting there blankly at the end of the row, its very existance mocking all forms of artistic endeavour. Honestly, they had a meeting about this; just look at the minutes below:

1 Apologies (none given)
2 Belittling the Arts (6-star rating system to be implemented, mwhahahaha)
3 Wasting Perfectly Good Ink on that Knobshine Christian Subnormal with the Megaphone at Oxford Circus (motion passed: full steam ahead, cap'n)
4 Off down the pub then everyone? (motion pashed)

However, they've only gone and given a film six stars in the last issue, haven't they? You'd think this would undermine my argument, wouldn't you? It doesn't, because they felt that they had to point out the rarity of the award by putting '(six stars)' in words after the six stars themselves. It was probably not an event for which they'd planned.

Friday, January 20, 2006

My Knee and a Chilling Encounter with a German

I've just got back from the doctor's after going to get my knee checked out. This gave me the dilemma of what to call the thing that I have. It's not really a cut. But then again it's not really a graze. I'd like to call it an abrasion, but I suspect that's just a term I've made up, so I'd feel embarassed saying it to someone who spent seven years learning terms for injuries. The best I could come up with is 'wound', but it sounds so grand and imposing I'd feel like I was cheating by using it. I guess I associate wounds with swordfights and gunshots and knifefights and the First World War. My tactic therefore, in order to determine what to call it, was to go in to the doctor and show them, and let them call it what they will. This involved mumbling when it came to the mentioning the cut/wound/abrasion/whatever and talking loosely about 'infections' and 'pus'. 'Shall I show you?', I asked, dropping my trousers. To cut a long story short, the doctor, without prompting, referred to it as a wound, as later did the nurse. Result!

They've put me on some antibiotics, which is embarassing to have shouted by the pharmacist in front of the whole shop. It's not for the clap, people, it's for my knee. My wound. Do you want to see it? Eh?

Just had a student come in, and after a brief discussion about a topic of little interest to even the two people in the discussion, let alone you at home, she said, in her strong German accent, "Now that you are here, you will have to suffer". Hmm, it's looks sinister written down, and now, thinking back, it sounded just as sinister when it was said. Brr. I'm not even sure it was down to the common view that everything sounds more menacing when issued in a German accent. I'm sure that the phrase, "Now that you are here, you will have to suffer", would sound just as blood-curdling if it were in a comic Mexican accent by a short fellow in a sombrero sitting the wrong way round on a donkey.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Sir, would You Mind Telling Me What You Were Doing Between the Hours of 12 and 6pm on Tuesday 14th March, 1972?

Just in case you need an alibi to cover you for a particularly grisly murder committed between the hours of 12 and 6pm on Tuesday 14th March, 1972 and the police have just caught up with you, tell them that you were present at the recording of 'Would You Believe' from Roxy Music's debut album, helping Bryan Ferry in the studio, setting the mic levels and so forth, and bringing cups of tea (Brian Eno took his like a bloody builder, and wouldn't touch it until it had stewed for a good 10 minutes). This will get you off the crime. It was a long time ago; I'll let you off. Just make sure not to kill anyone again, and for god's sake if you have to: don't take their feet as trophies. The police only had to look on your mantelpiece.

This is the kind of drivel you think about when the last two pages you looked at on the internet were an absurdly detailed history of Roxy Music by the guitarist with too much time on his hands Phil Manznera and the Hansard reporting of a debate in the House of Lords about whether there should be a statue of limitations on genocide when considering the International Criminal Court Bill back in April 2001, prior to ratifying the statute of the International Criminal Court. Stupid internet, thinks it knows everything.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Pictures of Prostitutes, the Golden Globes and Odd Newsagents

Sky GuardianITNThe TimesThe TimesThe MirrorInteresting to see various news sites' use of stock photos to illustrate the government's about-face on legalised red light districts. Prostitutes' legs are a big favourite amongst e-Fleet Street picture editors. Bonus points for the Times for their almost arty photo of a handwritten sign saying 'model'. Question marks awarded to the Mirror (last photo) for what appears to be a picture of a woman getting into her car. Whore!

The story is either reported as a 'Crackdown on Kerb-Crawlers' or 'Mini Brothels Made Legal', depending on whether you're a glass half-full sort of person or not.

What the hell, exactly, is a Golden Globe? Why are we being told about them? Are they like a pre-season friendly match before the Oscars? The equivalent of an ITV awards ceremony where Emmerdale actually wins awards? Gah.
While thinking about newspaper headlines, there's a shop near where I work that has a local paper headline board outside the shop. It's carefully put outside every day, but the headline hasn't changed in months. I must go in and ask them whether there's any personal reason the shopkeeper wants everyone to see the headline 'Love Rat Strangles Girlfriend With Flex' at the expense of all newer news. Is it the extraneous detail in the headline he so loves? I'm surprised he hasn't added his own punctuation - 'Love Rat Strangles Girlfriend (With Flex!)'. Weirdo. That's the last time I buy a Kit Kat Chunky in there, I'm telling you.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Happy New Year

Yes, happy new year. Sorry to come across like a rejected Seinfeld episode idea, but I'm fed up of saying 'happy new year' to people. It's not so much the enforced conviviality as that you have to remember whether or not you've seen that particular person since December 31st 2005. It's considered, for some reason, terribly bad form to wish someone a happy new year twice. What I want to know is: what is the statute of limitations on wishing people happy new year? At what point is it socially acceptable to not wish someone a new year? Surely there can't be too many people unaware that it's now 2006? Me pointing it out would surely be unnecessary, wouldn't it?

I've still got my limp, but it's on the way out. I don't think I got enough respect for my limp. They don't come naturally. You've got work out exactly how best to limp in order to fulfil the triplet aims of minimising pain, maximising mobility and looking cool. It's a real shame more people didn't stop me in the street and say, cool limp - would you mind showing me how you do it? I'd've obliged.
Just been to a clothes shop, bought some trainers in the sale (inevitably brown), and noted that they had lots and lots of bizarrely oversized watches on sale. Huge. Far too big for the average wrist. Faces about 8cm across. It's like Flavor Flav designed them. I wanted to ask them in the shop, but felt it would open me up to accusations of uncool, so I left it hanging. Boo.