Archive for March, 2005

Leaving Fundamentalism

Monday, March 28th, 2005

Normal bloggage will be resumed shortly. For the moment, I need to remember that Leaving Fundamentalism is a really useful website.

Also, Dream Theater are still ace.

A new use for the freedom of information act

Saturday, March 19th, 2005

A woman has come up with a novel use of the Freedom of Information Act – to find out how many eligible bachelors belong to her local police force.

Full story here. Well, it made me laugh, anyway.

Off for a bit

Friday, March 18th, 2005

I’m off to Andorra for a week of skiing and tax-free alcohol on Sunday, so unless anything earth-shatteringly exciting happens between now and then, this is the last you’ll hear from me for a while.

In the meantime, you should all be buying yourselves a DS and playing Meteos.

The Government Inspector

Friday, March 18th, 2005

It’s annoying when, even though you agree with the broad thrust of a film, you know that the filmmaker is painting with such broad strokes as to make their argument laughable. Michael Moore is well known for doing this, although at least he’s usually employing hyperbole for comic effect and in order to make his point. This drama on C4 last night, though, was frankly a bit embarassing. Okay, we all know Alistair Campbell was a highly strung man with a bit of a temper and a bee in his bonnet about the BBC, but the way he was portrayed in this film just made him look like a cartoon villain; he came across more power-crazed Bond-villain than politico. Andrew Gilligan was portrayed as a lazy, slack, morally bankrupt hack. When Tony Blair was shown playing guitar whilst talking to Alistair Campbell on speakerphone, it was all I could do to not burst out laughing.

The other problem with the programme is that it seemed directionless – at one moment, it seemed to be attacking the government, the next, Andrew Gilligan, and the next, the whole war on Iraq. The only consistent theme was “Look at poor David Kelly, a confused, endearing old man with a beard, caught in the middle of this huge political row” – but even then, it was hard to feel sorry for him because of his irritatingly overplayed character which at times was just excruciatingly simpering and weak.

I know this drama was only supposed to be “based” on the story around the events of the time, but the writing and characterisation was so utterly amateurish it was painful. A big disappointment.

EDIT – it seems the Guardian disagree with me, though.


Tuesday, March 15th, 2005

The gallery has been a bit quiet lately, so I scanned some slides from my trip to Tokyo last year and I’ve put them up here.

Vee Pee Enn

Monday, March 14th, 2005

So, I’m ill. Some sort of cold thing which is also making me attempt to cough my lungs up every couple of minutes. Quite unpleasant, it is; it became apparent that it wasn’t just a couple of sniffles when I left the pub early on saturday night after a single pint which made me feel utterly horrible, something which is, generally speaking, unheard of.

I figured that it would be rude to inflict my coughing, sneezing and general unwellness on my colleagues, so decided that now was as good a time as any to set up the VPN software they gave me when I started. Much to my surprise, it worked pretty much first time, despite clogging up my taskbar with even more junk. Thing is, though, now it works I’m not sure I want it, because it just increases the available hours for working. Damn my employers and their insidious ways of increasing my productivity.

Things that are great

Friday, March 11th, 2005

1. – Mercury Rev live at Manchester Academy. Just fantastic.

2. – Nintendo – ANIMAL CROSSING DS ONLINE. I am so excited I could jump up and down and shout “woo” a bit.

Things that disturb me greatly

Wednesday, March 9th, 2005

When I get text messages from blokes – straight blokes, no less – that end with, say, “Arnold xxx” (except I don’t know anyone called Arnold, but you get my meaning). Maybe it’s just an instinctive thing for them – something their fingers do automatically – much like mine are hardwired to type Ctrl-A C ! m every thirty seconds or so into the terminal holding my screen session on my machine at home (for the non-geeks, that just checks to see if I’ve got any new email) – but it still freaks me out slightly.

Of course, when a girl does it, I get this little frisson of excitement, even though I know that in real life any kissing-style activities with any females other than my girlfriend would result in permanent disabling injuries to myself.

An experience, and some thoughts

Monday, March 7th, 2005

I left the office, and started heading towards SubWay to get myself a bigass meatball sandwich for lunch. I was just about to walk in through the door of SubWay when a thought occurred to me – did I have any money on me? No, I didn’t. I needed money. Damn. I needed a cashpoint, and the nearest one was back in the same direction as my office. I was faced with a monumental dilemma: do I risk public ridicule, humiliation, the annoyance and wrath of other pavement users and the scorn of all humanity by stopping and turning round in the pavement? Or do I scorn efficieny, save face and walk the long way round to the cashpoint?

You see, there’s no way to change direction on a public pavement without looking like a total moron. You might as well wear a big dunces hat and a sign on your back saying “Point and Laugh at me, I’m stupid”. People have developed all sorts of techniques to avoid the problem: there’s the “going into a shop and pretending to browse for 30 seconds before coming out and walking off in the direction you came from” technique, which can be contracted into the “stopping and looking in a window for 10 seconds before turning back and walking off in the direction you came from” method. There’s several variations on the “stopping to answer my phone” technique, which can also be modified to use an iPod or similar portable music device. Some people prefer to pretend they need to tie their shoelace. But nobody, ever, stops in the middle of the street, turns through 180 degrees and walks back in the other direction.

Well, except me, today, that is. Being an engineer, I stereotypically have a pretty poor self-image anyway and I value efficiency and logic over subjective betterness in any competition, so I just stopped, turned round and walked straight into the woman who was evidently walking directly behind me.

“I’m sorry; I was going to buy my lunch, but I forgot I needed money”, I said, realising just how stupid that sounded about half a second too late. She gave me a look which combined her anger, disgust, self-righteousness and pomposity all in one ugly glare, brushed herself down and strode off, huffing to herself in a self-important fashion.

Hey, it’s not my fault if I’m more efficient than you.

KT Tunstall

Thursday, March 3rd, 2005

You know the song: it’s the one that’s got the sort of funky acoustic guitar riff and the vocal bit that goes “woohoo” all the way through. Black Horse and the Cherry Tree. Impossible to get out of your head when you hear it. Sounds like it ought to be sung by some kind of Sheryl Crowe-alike from some southern US state. So when, at the signing/acoustic set at Fopp in Manchester today, she turned out to be a diminuitive Scottish lass with a frighteningly magnetic cheeky grin and astonishingly soulful voice, it was quite a surprise.

Her live solo performance is quite unique – using a cunning array of sampling wizardry, she builds up a backing loop of thumps, muted guitar strums, backing harmonies and the like, right there in front of you, and then proceeds to play the song over the top, building extra elements into the loop as she goes until the song builds to such a crescendo you’d swear there was a full band hiding somewhere else in the venue. Despite the on-the-spot creativeness of the whole thing (she even impersonates a trumpet for a solo part in Black Horse & The Cherry Tree), her performance is impeccable, and quite, quite brilliant.

Plus, she’s dead cute and has a to-die-for Scottish accent. Which is alright by me.

Me and KT Tunstall - we're best friends, don'tchaknow