30 December 2005

AOL Can't Understand The Point Of Adverts

Has anyone seeing that annoying advert for AOL saying they don't have download limits (very bad thing)? It shows some guy looking at pictures of "Steve's Stag Night" online. He seems to be getting to the interesting pictures (I think I remember a police woman in one of them, I guessing that may not be her real job. Just then a woman walks in and tries to grab control from Steve himself or one of Steve's friends who was there. He's just to get in big trouble when BING - your download limit has been reached. What a relief, he's safe! AOL then say then don't have download limits so chose them and get busted by your girlfriend. [There is the remote possibility that the girl is that main focal point of the advert in which case why is she on screen for such little time and why is she commandeering his PC and invading his privacy?]

27 December 2005

Four Years In A Strange And Distant Land

For four years I lived in the North West of England and having recently gone back there I find it amazing the differences between there and just about anywhere else. There are some things I will never stop doing or using, such as saying "barmcake" instead of "roll" or "bap" when referring to bread. There are something I miss, like good cod (Scotland just serves haddock) that can be ordered "without batter" meaning lightly battered so it doesn't take away from the fresh taste of the fish. There are somethings I am indifferent to, such as a overhearing a mother use the word "cock" in front of her 8 year old son. Why am I indifferent to that? Because she said "stay there cock", which is just a friendly term of endearment. Finally there are things I really am glad I don't see each day, such as fresh pig's feet, cow's heels or tripe (cow's stomachs). Incidentally I saw the tripe the next day and it was so flat, that picture can be your guide to make sure you get good quality fresh tripe the next time you go out ;-)

24 December 2005

What A Sad State British Comedy Is In

I watch the Christmas shows of Little Britain and The Green Green Grass and never even flicked one half smile during the very long one and a half hours. At least last year's The Office Christmas show was an interesting storyline if sadly no jokes or humour of any known kind. John Sullivan made some very good episodes of Only Fools and Horses but he also made some really bad ones, some bad specials too. In the end it was almost like watching a soap with a few one liners thrown in. The same soap opera effect engulfed The Office when hacks described it in the same breathe as Fawlty Towers. The Green Green Grass is an abomination and the executives at the BBC should be ashamed of the rubbish that has been produced, if I were John Challis I'd have walked out after episode three. Little Britain on the other hand is less than moronic, school ground catch phrase comedy. When Harry Enfield did this he at least added some satire and the tiniest amount of life into his characters, Little Britain is void of any noticeable talent. I'm sure some people will try to defend British Sitcoms but there has not been any truly great sitcoms (bar maybe a few Coupling episodes) for well over a decade, maybe longer. In that time there have been three or four excellent series (yes, twenty plus episodes) of The Simpsons (not for a good six years, it should have been cancelled after it went into free fall around series ten, now the series is the joke itself), three brilliant years of Futurama and Family Guy, five or six years of excellent Frasier and the same of exceptional Seinfeld episodes. There are still producing excellent stuff on the other side of the pond including the current couple of series of Two and a Half Men. Yes folks, as much as it pains me to say it, the US talent has got our arses firmly whipped when it comes to comedy.

23 December 2005

Noel Edmonds Can't Read

It's true, I caught a few seconds of his "Deal or No Deal" show today (interesting concept) and heard him say the guy in the chair still could have "one pence" in his box. That's impossible! Pence is plural, penny is the singular. Noel, when you get around to reading this, here's a picture of one penny, have a good read of it.

20 December 2005

New Craze For Home Owners - Watch Paint Dry

Dulux have a very cool white paint that goes on pink and dries white so you can see where you've painted - genius! (Although if your wall is that white already why are you painting it?) I can't wait to get someone I know to do this and coerce them into it, but bring the paint around already poured out or in a temporary container. That way when it's finished they'll be sitting there staring at the walls asking each other "is it me or has that not changed colour in a while?" and "was he just having a laugh? Have we painted our room a light shade of pink?". Kudos Dulux.

18 December 2005

We Should Be The Champions ... Of The World!

21 shots compared to only 4. 17 corners to none. 62% possession compared to just over 37%. A perfectly good goal ruled out incorrectly for offside (Sinama's goal). They should have been reduced to 10 men for an incredibly dangerous tackle on Gerrard. As has been reported *everywhere*, we were the better team in the World Club Championship on Sunday and that's what leaves a really nasty bitter taste having lost the game. Don't bet against us being there again, Steven Gerrard will lift that trophy, who's that for a bold prediction?

12 December 2005

Who Says Tony Blair Talks Bollocks?

Over the years many people have accused Tony Blair of talking more rubbish than a dozen con-men and being unable to give straight answers. He talked about going to war in Iraq as it was something he "believed" was right. No evidence, no justification, just multiple uses of the word belief. A famous piece of Tony bollocks came on the day of the Good Friday Agreement, one of the most important days in the history of Northern Ireland. He started off very commendable but got slightly off-message towards the end: "A day like today is not a day for sound bites really. We can leave those at home. But I feel the hand of history on our shoulder." The other day he was asked if new Tory leader David Cameron was a serious opponent he said: "All I would say at the moment is, you have got to say, well, let's just wait and see about that, because leadership is about taking decisions, it is not just about being personable." What a straight talker...

8 December 2005

Transporter 2: Mind Blowing Sequences of Selling-Out Action *** Spoiler ***

I'd just watched Le Transporteur at the weekend and it was okay, let's say 3 briefcases out of five. The end was rather annoying, everyone turning up in the middle of nowhere at exactly the right time to save Frank (the main star). Last night we went to see Transporter 2 (notice the title). As Neil and I left, the first thing I said was "I rarely use the word 'sell-out'...". The film-makers sold out big time. The film is set in Miami, the French police chief returns as almost a comic aside, there is *so* much product placement, the title of the film is no longer in French (even though the original film was entirely in English), I could go on. Okay, I'll go on: the plot was wafer-thin, the action sequences went on far too long and over the top, a Caribbean guy was added in for the final 20 minutes for some cheap jokes, the time-line of the movie was all messed up (the French lieutenant only stayed for two days?), the whole virus angle was ridiculously unbelievable and the "everybody lives happily every after" wrap up was physically and biologically impossible, even for mainstream fiction. If you want an okay action film with martial arts, I'd watch Le Transporteur. Ignoring the rubbish "film" I saw in the Film Festival this year, this is the worse film of the year ... at least Fantastic Four carried you along with it on its journey. Two placed-products out of five.

7 December 2005

Michael Essien is Reckless and Should Be Banned for 2 Months!

This evening Liverpool secured top spot in their group with a 0-0 draw against Chelsea (Why is it a "Nil-Nil draw" or a "One-One draw"? Shouldn't it just be a "Nil draw" or a "One draw"...). In the first half Michael Essien came in with a raised leg and studs showing and went straight into the knee of Didi Hamann. The referee saw this and remarkably did nothing, not even a booking. Even in the more physical Premiership that would be a straight red card and a five match ban. This comes a month or so after Essien got a yellow card in a Premiership match against Bolton where he did an equally dangerous tackle (he feigned injury immediately after making the tackle) and after the match the referee apologised and said it should have been a straight red card but the FA said he wasn't allowed to change it! Both victims described themselves as "fearing their legs were broken" and Essien has escaped a total of a 10 match ban in his first few months in the Premiership. £24million pounds for "the best midfielder in Europe" (according to Houllier although that may have been to bump up his price to Chelsea) ... more like a reckless player who shone in a much smaller pond.

4 December 2005

We Have A Lost Child Here ... Anyone Want Her?

I know the functions of supermarket life inside as I spent over eight years working for Sainsburys in a variety of positions (oh er!), the last few years I was senior checkout supervisor. This means I know what to do in emergency situations, unlike most of the supermarkets I've been into recently. Allow me to explain with examples:
1. Very common: [Over the PA system] "Would Mrs Smith please come to customer services as we have your daughter here". So they have a lost child and they manage to get the surname out of them. Instead of just asking for Mrs Smith they state they have her young child with them. Is Mrs Smith really walking around the store thinking, "Hmm, peas, ham, but there is something else I'm missing ... oh yes! My little girl!". Instead it allows any nutter to try to claim to be Mrs Smith, or better yet claim to be another Mrs Smith: "Hi I'm Mrs Smith, I believe you have my daughter her. How did you manage that, she's been dead for three years?"
2. Sadly this happens occasionally: [PA] "We have a lost child at reception, he's about three years old, wearing a brown coat and blue jeans". WTF! This is just insane! I'm a nutter and I now know a good description of the boy. I can walk up to reception and immediately lock eyes with the child (who won't recognise me). If I act very annoyed and bark things at him like "I've told you never to run off" he'll be upset and not want to come with me, covering the fact that he'd not want to come with me anyway. There is no identification needed as the child clearly can't speak properly and will be screaming from being chastised as a bad boy. The only way to handle this situation is keep the child safe and search the shop floor as the "parent of guardian" will be the one running around like a headless chicken wondering where their little child has gone. A few quick questions like "Have you lost something?" and "Can you describe him?" and you know you have the real person.
3. Finally the worst of all and I've only heard this once. [PA] "We have a lost boy in the store, he's about four years old wearing a jacket with a bulls-eye on and white trainers. If anyone sees him please contact customer services". These people need to be shot. As a general rule there aren't too many four year olds shopping by themselves so when you see one running around crying or pretending to be an aeroplane and there's no parent in sight there is a strong chance you've found them. Not hard is it?

While we are on the subject listen out for other bad supermarket calls like "First Aider to Checkout 23". If your hear that you can be safely assured that is a good enough distraction at the front end to cover some random stealing. Heaven forbid they give you a license to kill with "Security to the main entrance". Instead both these calls should be coded either as "Code 3 to CO23" (don't use Code 1 or 13, it's easy to guess they are serious) or for added security do it in some form of Morse/African/Dolphin speak "ka-ka-ka-klick, klick".

2 December 2005

Eurosport Shows Two Wrestling Shows In Uk

Not much of an exciting title but bear with me. Earlier tonight Eurosport 2 screened Japanese Pro-Wrestling. In Japan pro-wrestling (not amateur as in Olympics) is both real and scripted. The real version involves having 13 points to start with and you lose 1 for every time you grab the ropes to break a hold or get planted hard on your back and 3 if you take a referee's count. You lose when you have no points left, you submit or are counted out (to 10 like in boxing). I watched a bit of it and it was interesting to see but it was quite violent (almost like Ultimate Fighting). Between 9 and 10pm on the original Eurosport they had more wrestling on so i flicked it on - I couldn't believe it, it was TNA ("Total Non-stop Action" not "Tits 'n' Arse" a much smaller rival to the big WWE, former WWF, that entertained us with Hulk Hogan when we could believe a man could rise from a severe beating and win just because we were cheering for him). Not a surprise in itself, the bigger Sky Sports shows WWE. The big shocker was this ... Eurosport had dubbed the American commentary with two real sports commentators and they were calling it as if it was a real physical contest! The guys stood there show-boating to the crowd and the reporters had to act as if it was perfectly normal behaviour for this type of sporting contest! Why Eurosport, why? If you want to show it as an entertainment show then fine, but who is honestly going to watch it as some form of sport addict? Don't you think the names "Shark Boy" and "Shocker" are a little clue? All that said two people, AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels are two of the most agile and acrobatic "martial artists" I have ever seen.

Reasons Not To Have Children #1

You have to name them. I always felt sorry for boys with girls names (like a boy named Sue), such as Stacey Jones, but then he grew up and became the scrum half for the New Zealand Warriors as they just won the Tri-Nations Championship so I guess it did toughen him up!

I always thought America had the most idiots when it came to baby names but some "parents" in the UK in 2005 have named their children: Storm (girl), Wolverine (boy, both X-Men characters), Tia (girl, as in Maria), Caramel (girl), Paprica (sic) and ... Ikea (girl) and Moet (boy). Words fail me.

27 November 2005

Stop The Traffic ... Yo Soy Senor BumbleBee!

This morning I was cruising along Queen Street, well stuck in traffic, on my way to get my hair lopped off. The car still has the extra security and go faster stripes as pictured here and here (it lives on the top of our aerial). There were two lanes going straight ahead and one turning right, although the straight ahead lanes were reduced to just one real lane due to dozens of parked cars. Anywho, stuck behind a lorry the car behind me sneaks out and pulls up right alongside me, essentially trying to pass me as soon as the lorry moved on - what incredible cheek! I noticed the driver seemed to gesturing to me, probably to say "can I sneak in there please, I'm in a rush". I lowered my window as we sat there waiting to accelerate off into the soon-to-be space ahead of us both and the guy said "Excuse me, can you tell me where you got your bumble bee from?". I've just stopped laughing about it now!

The Chase Is On, The Premiership Looks Right Now!

Finally, after 13 (14 for some), the Premiership table finally looks right. Liverpool are playing at Sunderland (our game in hand) on Wednesday evening and, after we win that by two clear goals, and we will, the top four will look like this:
    Played     Goal Difference     Points
1     Chelsea     14     26     37
2     Man Utd     13       8     27
3     Arsenal      13     12     26
4     Liverpool    13       7     25
That looks a lot better rather than Wigan and Tottenham being in the top four, the chase can finally start! I think the end of the season it will end Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Man Utd fourth. Bookmakers beware my accurate psychic prediction!

25 November 2005

Would You Bee-Lieve It? The Gods Are Having A Pillow Fight

Forty-five minutes ago the streets were grey and dark. Then there was a tiny hint of snow. Now it's like God is having a pillow fight (with Buddah and the rest of them) up above us. Take a look at this and these pictures to get a feel of it (who needs a window anymore?). I hope our car will be okay, we only just put yellow and black go faster stripes on it at the weekend and added a protection system...

22 November 2005

Itchy Knee Sun She Go Rock! IQ Testing Here!

A friend of mine, Samantha (take a bow), sent me a link to a very taxing game. The rumour is it's an IQ test used by Japanese companies. The object is simple, get all people across the river. The test can now be taken here. The rules are as follows:
1. Only 2 people on the raft at a time.
2. The Father cannot stay with any of the Daughters without their Mother's presence.
3. The Mother cannot stay with any of the Sons without their Father's presence.
4. The Criminal (Striped shirt) cannot stay with any family member if the Policeman is not there.
5. Only the Father, the Mother and the Policeman know how to operate the raft.

To move the people click on them, too move the raft click on the pole on the opposite side of the river. Finally to start the puzzle, click on the big blue circle on the right of the site. I did it in just under 10 minutes.

If that really floated your boat and you want some more, you can do a free online IQ test here. FWIW I've done two (real) IQ tests in my life and got 138 and 155, making me eligible to join Mensa. Let's see if alcohol has really killed off my brain cells in recent years, I post my online score soon... (BTW the title is 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 in Japanese)

UPDATED: My online lunchtime IQ score is 127. Not great but it'll do. My end of test report gives us this piece of salesman psychology: "You've got a very experiential way of learning and a strong mathematical mind. You're able to whittle even the most complex situation down to comprehensible component parts. In short, you have mastered the art and science of precision. That's what makes you a Precision Processor." Who has the time to best my score?

20 November 2005

I Am Not A Number, I Am A Free Man!

Despite what my timesheet says (I'm number six), I am not a number, I am a free man. Last week I started re-watching the classic series, The Prisoner, starring Patrick McGoohan. Today I learn that Sky and Granada are going to re-make it and bring us more episodes! In true Prisoner style I am sceptical to say the least. My first concern is that The Village will not be shot in Portmeirion, Wales. Next I hear that they will "take liberties with the original". This goes from bad to worse. At least a good production company is behind it, oh no, it's Sky, the people who brought us Mile High, Dream Team and countless documentaries too trashy even for (channel) five. With all this information, I think I can safely say I won't be seeing you.

18 November 2005

Official Stats - I Have Between One and Two Hundred Readers Every Week!

This is incredible, I've just looked at the stats for my site and I've noticed I have between one and two hundred readers every week! Take a look at these figures if you don't believe me. I'll post a better breakdown later today...
UPDATE: Wow! This is actually my 100th article! Anyway, I've done some analysis of the excellent data from StatCounter and over the last three months I've been averaging an incredible 58 unique weekly visitors! Not page loads but definite unique sessions. One week even hit 113! I must start writing some more interesting stuff!

It's Cold Outside, There's an N O2 Kind of Atmosphere

Yesterday morning I was walking into my office and I noticed there was a frost even on the discarded alcohol bottles on the grass near my office. The drunks clearly are of a better class here in Edinburgh as the discarded bottle in question was actually a decent red wine (somebody turned it over during the course of the day to see the label!). At 9pm I looked at my fancy wireless indoor-outdoor thermometer and noticed a strange symbol that looked like this - . It was -2°C outside at 9pm and it could only get colder. A few minutes ago (as I finally crawled out of my bed, I suffer from sticky mattress syndrome you see), it was an unbelievable -5°C outside. EXTRA: Despite excessive anti-freeze being used, as I drove to work the windscreen was refreezing as I was stuck in traffic. I could see impressive crystals reforming in front of my eyes, obscuring other vehicles from my vision.

15 November 2005

It's All About Me, Me, Me, Me, Me!

Andy posted a comment on my last post saying that I've probably set some new form of vanity with the excessive pictures of me on one page and that got me thinking. It shouldn't come as a shock to many people that I am quite egotistical. A recent Two and a Half Men had a line in it that captures this quite well:
Charlie: "Rose, do you think I'm a misogynist?"
Rose: "Oh Charlie yes! (Laughing) Why, did someone try to say you weren't?"
Anyway, back to me. I think it's very interesting that the English language regards it as polite if you try to put me (as in the person reading this) at the core of the sentence. If I am the subject of the verb (comes at the beginning of the sentence normally) then we use 'I', e.g. Dave and I are going out now. If I am the object of the verb we use 'me', e.g. Do you want to join me and Dave? Notice that the closest person each time to the verb (the doing word) is the first person, the speaker. I think that's interesting anyway... If you want a giggle at the rules of grammar, have a look at these rules of grammar.

13 November 2005

Police Ask "Has Anyone Seen This Man"?

There has been much debate on the subject of my banner that runs across the top of this page. Some people like my new one, others prefer my old one, despite the fact that my picture made me look like some form of sinister fortune teller. To rectify this I've made by banner dynamic! There are currently eight images that will appear randomly on the right hand side of the banner, just click refresh to see a new on. Alternatively you can see all ten of them here:

Random image 1 from main Phill G banner Random image 4 from main Phill G banner Random image 6 from main Phill G banner Random image 7 from main Phill G banner Random image 8 from main Phill G banner

Random image 0 from main Phill G banner Random image 2 from main Phill G banner Random image 3 from main Phill G banner Random image 5 from main Phill G banner Random image 9 from main Phill G banner

Let me know your thoughts on them, which ones scare you and which make you go weak at the knees!

Updated: The images have been re-order. The top five made it and will stay on the site, the bottom five are being consigned to the archives...

10 November 2005

Tony Blair Steps Down!

One day this title will be correct. So yesterday he suffered a humiliating defeat despite calling back Brown and Straw to get a few more votes. Couldn't be happier! I saw this coming for a while and the fact that they won a vote by one MP last week really tempted me to put money on how soon he'd be out of office (now the bookmakers have slashed the odds and I'm not a gambler anyway). It seems minutes after touching down in the Middle East Gordon Brown was whisked back to the UK and told to try to prevent people from rebelling. Tony has this morning called a Cabinet meeting to talk about the defeat - do you think Gordon will mind suffering all the hours in the plane as he can now sit in the meeting, beaming away knowing he'll be the boss in the next few months (maybe even weeks)? If Tony is a stupid as to try and push the educational reforms or privatising parts of the NHS he'll be out before 2006. Maybe now's the time for a stalking horse to challenge him and force Gordon to move...

9 November 2005

Night Watch - Cool as Hell Indeed!

Nochnoy Dozor is a huge Russian film that is the start of a trilogy, based of novels of the same name. A thousand years ago a war started raging between Light and Dark (Others). They were equally matched Gesser, (the/a god), called a halt to it and brought in a sort of police force. The Day Watch look after the Light, the Night Watch take care of the Dark. We follow the Night Watch as they try to stop a vampire initiating others, tempting a young Other to join the Dark (side) and preventing a cataclysmic event that brings back memories of Zuul/Gozer trying to end the earth (the Ghostbusters stopped them just in time!). It's not just vampires as there are also shape-shifters, witches and future-telling. There are bound to be dumb comparisons with The Matrix but this film is nothing like it. Despite the subtitles the story flowed very well and avoided selling itself out to the US and ruining the story (although the third film in 2007 will actually be in English, it'll be co-financed by Fox). The poster for this film leads with "Cool as Hell!" and I can't argue with that, a strong contender for the foreign language Oscar. The film oozes style and is definitely not "in-your-face" nor do you ever feel bits have been added it for the "wow" factor. There are many scenes which are highly imaginative, both from an ideas and visual perspective. Several slow motion scenes seamlessly integrated into the film (as in they don't stand out as if to say "this is a cool sfx"), as well images of blood, gloom and strength in the actual actors bodies. Some of the confrontations uses mirrors to try to see the vampires (in a opposite way to the usual story) and torches to kill them which impressed me from an ideas point of view. Worth watching and I can't wait for Day Watch: Night Watch 2 next year to continue the story. A very solid four torches out of five.

8 November 2005

Great Chef Launches New Blog

The title says it all really, check it out over at Neil McRobie .com. Hopefully he'll share some of his many culinary tips and skills!

Rugby League Fans Show Up Football Fans

Beer!

--- Additional Post ---

Erm, okay, that must win the prize for shortest blog entry. On 29th October the first Tri-Nations Test involving Great Britain took place against New Zealand. Britain really needed to win otherwise they'd struggle to stay up with Australia and New Zealand. The game took place at QPR's Loftus Road at 6pm on a Saturday evening. Rugby League, aside from being the second best ball game (after football) and a million times better than the "aerial ping-pong" they call Rugby Union, is a real "working class man's" game. Starting a football game in the evening is not usually great as in big rivalries the police usually complain it allows the fans to sit in the pub all day and drink before they get to the ground. Early in the day I saw (on TV) a goalkeeper get struck by coins (or some small missile) being thrown from the crowd during some Premiership match. As far as I recall it wasn't a local derby or an intense rivalry (not that that would justify it), just a regular weekend match. Anyway the whole issue is very sad that they now need to try to get all possible objects, including coins, off fans to prevent serious injury.

Back to the Rugby League. New Zealand started with a flurry and got a couple of quick tries, they would have had another if the video referee (another thing Football should start using) correctly denied a try in the corner for knock on (even the commentators didn't notice the change in the ball's flight until half time). You would think the British fans would be really angry, especially as the crowd wasn't segregated like in the Premiership. No. Instead they just stood there, watching and cheering their team on, sipping lager from glass bottles! After the game, with Britain given quite a hiding, there wasn't a single arrest and the majority of bottles went in the bin.

27 October 2005

How Long Have I Been Asleep? It's Warm At The End Of October

I think I've been shifted forwards many years and this is what global warming has done to our planet. I went to be and it was 13°C and still was that when I woke up. Over lunch I saw a guy cycling in shorts and an old lady walking along with her sleeves rolled up! My GNOME weather applet states it is 20°C outside (lunchtime) and the BBC reports it is the warmest 27th October ever even hitting 23°C in some places). If you don't believe me take a look at the sunshine and the warm glow around the city. All this on the day that the lead story on the BBC is Bonnie Prince Charlie decides to warn us about climate change!

My On Going Quest To Get OOo To Have A "Hide Blank Lines" Option

After almost two years of pestering and begging some wonderful person has now fix Issue 36696 that gives the (MS Word '97) option to hide blank lines when printing labels (or a letter with the wizard one would assume). Instead of being over joyed I find myself incredibly sad as with the new release of OpenOffice.org 2 they've actually broken the hidden paragraph feature :-( Here's a break down of Issue 56195

Imagine you have a data source that looks like this:
Address1 Address2 Address3
text text text
text null text
text text text

Create a document that looks like this:
"Record One..."
Address1
[hiddenparagraph] Address2 "Print me only for record one and three"
Address3
[next record]

Copy and paste the above, delete the final "Next Record" and change the "One" to a "Two". You are now ready to print a form letter (File > Print > Yes), only ask for records one and two to be printed.

The printed file will look like this:
Example One (incorrect)

This output is incorrect. Address2 has been hidden for record one even though it is not empty. What has happened is the hidden paragraph test for record two's Address2 has been done (which results in a true, hide paragraph as R2A2 is empty) and that test result is applied to all the hidden paragraphs for Address2s on the page :-(

You can see by turning "show hidden paragraphs" on (under the View menu) that record one's Address2 field is correctly being filled, it's just the hidden paragraph function next to it that is mis-firing:
Example One with Show Hidden Paragraphs On

To double check this just change the names Record One and Record Two to Two and Three respectively and do the print for only records two and three. This time record three's Address Two (the second one on the page) is not empty so the line is not hidden. Record two's Address2 is not hidden either, even though it is empty:
Example Two (incorrect again)

This bug basically makes hidden paragraphs useless for labels (which is probably the most common time to use hidden paragraphs) and any other multiple records to a page. Let's hope some one can fix it for 2.0.1 (although it is not targeted for it yet and nobody seems to be seeing the severity of this issue).

25 October 2005

There's Nobody Here But Us Chickens!

I've lost my grip on reality! Big hearted scousers have set up a mini shrine to a baby who was left dead in an alley way in Oakfield Road (in Anfield, Liverpool) following police cordoning off the street. Word spread around the city as "Paramedics could not identify the body and neither could the attending police doctor, who studied the foetus left outside Anfield Tackle". Rumours spread around the schools, pubs and in taxis about the incident however "The corpse was taken to a nearby hospital where it was later identified by medical staff as a chicken". This didn't stop a shrine being set up with flowers, teddy bears and handwritten notes (picture from the Echo) Yesterday Merseyside Police issued the statement: "Stop grieving, it's only a chicken!"

19 October 2005

Legendary English Footballer Johnny Haynes Dies

Oh dear. It seems that on Monday night Johnny Haynes, 71, collapsed whilst driving in his car and ended up in a head on collision. These injuries were so severe his family decided to turn his life support machine off on Tuesday. His wife who was also in the vehicle remains in hospital but in a stable condition. The head on collision was actually the one I photographed on Monday night as Johnny lived in Lothian Road. My deepest condolences to his family.

18 October 2005

Corpse Bride - You Only Sing When You're Dead

How can I watch Corpse Bride and not let the fact that we both saw the movie for free at a special preview screening before the film's officially released influence my review? I shall try... ahem. Best movie of the year. I've looked back over all the films I've seen this year and the only films that come close to this are Howl's Moving Castle and to a lesser extent Crash. So with it's new title in hand let's get on to the film. Johnny Depp is arranged to be married to the daughter of a family with old money (it's a very British film). He keeps messing up his lines at the rehearsal and goes to take a breather in the woods. He manages to get the lines correct and inadvertently marries Helena Bonham Carter, a corpse frozen in a curse/spell waiting for her groom to come back and marry her (she was killed on her wedding day). A quick visit to the land of the dead with a few hilarious gags and very catchy songs and we now have a problem: Johnny has fallen for the quiet daughter he was arranged to be married to but she's in the land of the living. To save the marriage up top, a sinister Lord comes along and tries to take Johnny's place. The Lord is Richard E. Grant and he does a superb job, as do so many of the other voices in a perfectly cast, well, cast. Christopher Lee is the priest, Joanna Lumley the evil mother of the innocent daughter, Helena has such a unique quality to her voice and Jane Horrocks gives a few characters a voice and even sings in the perfect yet soft way only she can (I wonder why she's never gone into music?). More songs, more laughter, the story continues and we quickly come to a climax (the film is only 77 minutes long but you don't feel short changed). Very similar to Hercules (staring James Woods) as a great movie to see on a date. To give this film five out of five would make it on the same level as Howl's Moving Castle and while that is an excellent film, the ending was a little bit weak. Tim Burton's creation does not have any flaws, so without wanting to set a precedent 6 bones out of five and the moniker of "Best movie of the year".

What Now For The Big Beast Of Westminster?

Damn. Okay, the big beast is out and all the credit goes to David Davis. He had 67 declared MPs and was suggesting he would get around 80. He only got 62. That clear shows several people who had declared for him switched to Dr Fox in order to try and get Ken Clarke out at the first round. That has happened which now means Cameron will get around 80 votes and Davis should get 80 too with Fox getting and embarrassingly low 20. So where does all that leave Ken? Well, he could try and get the role as Shadow Chancellor under Cameron which would be really interesting, although you have to feel this is a long shot given the fact Cameron and current Chancellor of the Shadows is George Osbourne. Probably the most realistic bet is Shadow Foreign Secretary and give er, um, Jack Straw a good mauling and Tony/Gordon too over Iraq. Of course if Davis gets in then you can kiss the Conservative Party goodbye into the annals of history.

Victory Is Mine ... UK TV Finally Has Good Programmes!

As of this Saturday, BBC2 will never be the same again. Having lost Larry David's semi-improvised Curb Your Enthusiasm to More4 (kudos to them though for making it available on Freeview), the BBC have more than recovered by getting Family Guy from the third series and putting it on directly after American Dad in a decent adult slot. 10.05pm will be American Dad, a satire based around Stan Smith, a right wing CIA agent who has a very interesting family. At 10.30pm we'll be treated to The Thin White Line, the start of a two-parter that begins the third series of quite simply the best animated series ever. Okay the third series is available to buy on DVD but it's still worth watching as many people will never have heard of it. No ad breaks and no censorship ... bliss! All this and a new series of Armando Iannucci's excellent The Thick Of It on BBC4... :-D

What On Earth Is This? Win A Prize If You Know!

For almost two years a TK Maxx store (I'm not saying which one as I don't want people to buy it) has had a kitchen utensil on sale and no one has bought it. It's only £2.99 but the reason now one has bought it is no one knows what the hell it is! The tag on it is hand written with just the internal code to ring it through the checkouts and the price. If anyone can tell me what it is they will win a bona fide prize (pending verification of your answer)! Full view, just the head, side view of head. Post your suggestions below.

17 October 2005

It's Oh So Quiet Says Damian Day

In true Damian Day fashion (possibly inspired by Ab-normal Beauty from last week) I was wandering down Dalry Road this evening and thought to myself, "Hmm, it's a bit quiet". Adhering to my voyeuristic needs I snapped a picture and then three more. (I know my finger is in two of the shots, I'm getting used to my new phone / camera / case combination) Can someone please explain why the car was all the way over there? Eek and ouch says it all really. This is Damian Day, Globelink News.

16 October 2005

Forwarded Emails Actually Entertain Shock

In the past few weeks I've had two images the have actually amused me even though they were sent in the usual mass forward manner. A couple of months ago there was also the photo of the sign outside Notting Hill Gate tube station, the day after the Brazilian electrician was shot by police. The two more recent ones are relating to the BA strike (and the whole Gate Gourmet thing) and this week quite simply the best vandalism ever. Enjoy!

13 October 2005

Ab-Normal Beauty - Unless You're Damian Day

One the films I considered during the festival but then found out that it'd be released shortly afterwards and I could watch it for a damn sight less! Sei Mong Se Jun is about a teenage photography student (Jin) is bored with her pictures (and talent) but then sees a fatal car crash and gets all excited about capturing the moment of death forever. She explores the whole area including paying a butcher to kill more chickens so she could photograph the blood pouring out of their necks and then the last flickers of life before the go totally limp. This of course is not enough and soon she is looking into human tragedies. Soon enough she tries to create fear in other people to capture it forever but then somebody starts sending her what appear to be snuff movies. A young girl is chained up in a chair and beaten senseless before finally being killed by repeated blows with a lead pipe. As she dies a multitude of cameras and flashes go off. Needless to say the whole snuff movie creation soon gets very personal for Jin and the final scenes are quite intense, especially as you try to work out who is doing all this. The film is from the Pang Brothers (who also did Bangkok Dangerous and more recently The Eye) and the direction and musical score is excellent. The script itself is also good and the story is thoroughly gripping. Another well made and very entertaining film from Asia (Hong Kong to be precise). The only thing that let the film down is the poor translation of the subtitles and also the speed at which some of them were displayed for. For example, "Now I know!" becomes "I knew now" and "No" was on screen for 2 seconds yet two sentences only stay on for one second (sometimes). Despite these minor gripes it's still well worth seeing if you are looking for a film to drag you out of the usual Holywood malaise. Four product-placed Nikon cameras out of Five.

9 October 2005

Cranium Inspires Comic Quips

Friday and Saturday night we played Cranium (get game, loads of fun). Each night the situations inspired me to come out with a truly amusing line that I am very happy with. The first night I read the yellow Spellbound question which was "Spell the word 'isthmus'". I wasn't certain how to pronounce it and made that clear. The team answering the question, possibly from watching too many of the Channel 4 US spelling contests, asked me to use it in a sentence. I gave them one. "The word you have to spell is 'isthmus'". The next night I read the answer to a charades type question before giving it to the team to try. As I handed it over I said "try that, as best you can". "It sounds like a place in the middle east doesn't it, 'as best you can'?". Very proud of those two, more so because of the amount of alcohol consumed.

7 October 2005

How The Conservative Leadership Contest Will Go

Five men go in, only one walks out. Rifkind is the first to go and Davis wins by a large number of MPs' votes. Sir Malcolm then throws his support behind Ken Clarke as he shares his "One Nation Conservatism" ideas, despite disagreeing on Europe (which is a none-issue in this campaign). Next out is Dr Fox who backs his co-right wing candidate David Davis who is struggling, as too is David Cameron as he seems to be rather lightweight after his initial early showing. The "Tony Blair" tag is really hanging heavy around his neck. Cameron then goes out with Clarke and Davis very close. He instantly backs Ken (unsurprisingly) and more of his supporters come out and do the same. If had then gone to the MPs Ken would win with overwhelming support of 66% MPs. Instead the two remaining challengers step out to the members of the Party appeal for their votes. Davis' lack of orator qualities really start to hurt him as Clarke seems to be selling him self on his previous tax cuts and his "big beast" status. Two days before my birthday the result is announced with Ken winning with 61% of the votes despite the bulk of the party not liking his pro-Europe stance. Davis is humiliated and withdraws to the backbenches and it seems the Party have made a sensible choice. Being able to speak in public really does matter it seems. The "Churchillian" comeback is complete (no doubt helped by the fact that he is overweight, speaks his mind, drinks and smokes cigars).

5 October 2005

Howl's Moving Castle - Don't Move Along Please, Plenty To See Here

I've been waiting for Hauru no ugoku shiro for a very long time, the hype surrounding it is huge. Disappointing is a word I could not use to describe this film. 'Mesmerised' and 'in awe' would explain quite well how I felt throughout the whole film. The genius of the director is clear for all to see in his animation. The detail and imagination is incredible and his ability to take you back to a childhood state is amazing. Put simply the story is about love and personal exploration. Howl (or Howell from Wales as he is in the original book this is vaguely based on) is a magician who looks a bit like Ken (think Ryu not Barbie) and he is continually running away, notably from himself. There is a young woman called Sophie who falls for him but Howl ignores because she is very ugly (because she was cursed into being a 90 year old woman). A simple journey set in Victorian England spiced up my magic, that entertains you all the way along. Oh yeah, I forgot to say the police fly on personal helicopter/planes, the world is at war, bombers use shape-shifting creatures and the evil henchmen are oil blobs who freak you me out. And Howl's castle can move, looks like something from Monty Python and exists in three points in space at the same time. Like I said, mind-expandingly good. There is nothing about the film you cannot like, especially the characters. The scarecrow Turnip Head is my favourite, closely followed by the fire Calcifer. This is one of the very best films I have seen, a full 5 magic wands out of 5. It's so good it has actually convinced KT to watch Miyazaki's earlier (and in some people's opinion even better) work, Spirited Away and Mononoke Hime, despite them being Anime animation and only subbed in English - now that is a powerfully good film.

3 October 2005

Time To Play The Game

I get a nice warm feeling when I realise the new "series" of politics is back on the air. It started with the Labour Party conference last week when Gordon Brown said he won't return to old Labour (i.e. socialist) policies and was a Blairite through and through. I didn't read one article that said what I was thinking, namely that what Gordon said was total bollocks. He's just saying that to ward off any "New Labour" challenger, namely Alan Milburn, that the more extreme of the Blairites may push to stand against him because the really couldn't stand Brown being in charge. Thank God for Rory Bremner (and all the writers including Dave Fulton)! The Bremner, Bird and Fortune team did a song by Gordon with the lyrics "I'd do anything .. for your job, anything" and included the line "I'd say anything". The second Brown takes over he'll kick out most of the Blairites that haven't been sacked or had to resign (and even those that have yet have come back almost instantly, e.g David Blunkett) and bring in his new era. Whether he'll win against a rejuvenated Conservative Party under Ken Clarke, hammering the Chancellor (who will it be, Nick Brown?) on the downturn in the economy that we seem destined for, is uncertain. I'm sure he will scare off several "middle England" voters which could leave if with a three-way split, if we only had proportional representation :-(

The other big story is Austria taking the piss with the rest of Europe over Croatia's entry into the EU (which has stalled due to the UN slating them for not finding a general wanted for war crimes), by blocking Turkey's entry and threatening to use their veto. They seem to have fallen into line now after a hugely publicised deadlock that I'm sure was just done so Austria could guarantee that Croatia will be allowed in when the postponed talks restart, after the Turkey issue is resolved. Notice I didn't even mention the Tory leadership elections, mainly because Dr Fox (hee hee hee), Malcolm Rifkind and David Cameron will all get knocked out very quickly and all their support will fall behind Ken. That will leave middle versus right in Clarke vs. Davis. I can't see the members making another monumental mistake in electing another right wing unknown (as far as the general public are concerned), especially after the last three elections when they've had such poor results. They may not like him but they will vote for Clarke in the same way the left of the Labour party were weary of the centre-right New Labour. They complained less (briefly) when the won the election though.

2 October 2005

Unfair Reporting of the Liverpool - Chelsea Game

"Rampant Chelsea Crush Reds" is the headline the BBC are running with in their sports section. This is unfair and untrue. Yes Chelsea beat Liverpool 4-1 but they simply had good luck on their side rather than being rampant. I'm not bitter about Liverpool not getting either of the two certain penalties on Wednesday night, I just want the truth to be represented in the story. Okay we made a couple of defensive mistakes, such as Djimi hacking Drogba down when he was going nowhere and Finnan fell asleep was we made the fourth substitution, but we played very well in the game. Sky Sports ended the match saying that Liverpool had 66% of the possession - that's unheard of! Liverpool also had 1 more attempt on target (9-8). The official Opta stats confirm this, giving the precise possession stats as 59.6% which is very high. We even had 57.1% of the territorial advantage. Given our poor striking efforts (as Crouch on had 10 minutes to work with a real partner, Cisse), 2-1 to Chelsea would probably have been a fair reflection on the game. As occasionally happens, luck goes with a team and you end up with a scoreline that is not reflective of the actual game. This is one of those times.

21 September 2005

Wolf Creek - A Bit Too Creeky For My Liking

I heard about Wolf Creek a few months back and hoped it would be in the EIFF but it wasn't. As we drew closer to the cinema release it is advertised on so many buses it's untrue (despite being an 18 cert and clearly labelled as a horror film). I was right to be suspicious. This is a well made (acting and script) and well shot film that follows the same basic principles and plot points of slasher films of the last 30 years. The gory that has been hyped up is non-existent - even a friend of mine who doesn't really like this type of movie was shocked at the *lack* of gore following the hype. Why they bothered putting "based on real events" when it's not is beyond me. There are vague similarities between the "backpacker murders" committed by Ivan Milat and the recent Peter Falconio case (where the survivor was arrested as the killer until later witnesses proved she wasn't) in the same way the Texas Chainsaw Massacre is "based" on real events (inspired by Charles Manson in truth). I guess the only reason is to encourage more people to go and see it where if it was marketed in a similar way to the superior Haute Tension, then a damn site less people would go to see it. Treating it as the fictional movie that it is there are a few huge plot holes (cars and belongings) and the story is very linear with no surprises. The opening act is about 45 minutes long and *nothing* happens. Conversely the end is incredibly short which just shocks you, it's as if they ran out of money! I heard about the "knife on a human spine" before hand and I conjured up very shocking ideas of slicing down someone's spine and peeling their skin opening, as if you were skinning a plucked chicken. The actual scene is very lame and doesn't even need anything more than basic SFX to pull off. I must stress though it's not all bad. The bad guy, uncle Mikey, gave a very good performance and there were a few clever scenes but even some of them were repeated too much (keys in cars). They should have spent a lot more time working on the tension and delivering something original in terms of scenes and images. 3 bloodied knives out of 5 - quite average but better than the usual rubbish that comes out of Hollywood labelled horror.

7 September 2005

Fuels ... Out, for Autumn!

In answer to your question, it's meant to sound like Alice Cooper's "School's Out". I've just heard that if there is not a cut in petrol duty in the next week all the UK refinerys are going to be blockaded by the Fuel Lobby group starting on the 14th September. Their basic grip is that for every £1 of petrol you put in your tank (and that may not even be a litre now), 74 pence of that goes straight to the government in tax. Five years ago they brought the country to a standstill (almost) and induced all sorts of panic buying because petrol was over 80p a litre, now the average is 94.6p! The big point they make about the taxation is that they get £36 billion a year from petrol and road tax, yet only £6 billion is spent on roads and local transport. You can be damn sure the remaining £30 billion isn't spent on the environment or researching greener fuels. The AA's website also highlights the cost of a litre of petrol in other countries which is quite shocking. Last month a litre of unleaded cost 85.2p in France, 74.22p in Ireland and 37.9p in the US!!! I think I might take the ferry over to Dublin and fill up my car...

29 August 2005

Snuff Movie

Snuff Movie kept every guessing until the very final seconds of the film to try to understand it. Written and directed by Bernard Rose (of Candyman fame) the plot is very twisted and you often feel split as to what is actually happening and that's exactly where the problem lies. Because you are detached trying to think about the (not especially graphic) scenes you are seeing in relation to the overall plot, you never feel engrossed in the movie or empathise with any of the characters. You always expect that you'll be fooled (again) any second now. For the final 10 minutes I think I figured out what the medium sized plot was all about (either that or their was a prop goof) but while I was 99% sure, I had no idea how to explain it or how it fitted in with the entire film. That may sound complicated and convoluted but believe me, the script really is. Well shot and well acted, but just not scary, even on a simple gore level (watch Haute Tension for that). Still worth watching for the clever story.

28 August 2005

Perrier Comedy Awards 2005

Chris Addison snubbed the show and quite rightly. He was favourite last year and this year and instead they give it to an actress who's a newcomer to boot! The winner, Laura Solon, was awful. She seems to be a vaguely talented actress but she has no comic ability in her. The audience were silent for her various pieces. If you unable to interact with the audience (i.e. you never break the fourth wall or you pretend to be in front of a group of female friends) then you should not be eligible for a nomination. That would rule out Laura and Dutch Elm but still allow the likes of The Pub Landlord and Otis Lee Crenshaw to still win. As for the rest of the show, well... Dutch Elm Conservatoire seemed interesting but they are a comedy play and couldn't trim their hour show into 15 minutes. Jason Manford used some very old material, I heard Sean Hughes do it 10 years ago. Then he did a few minutes on how ugly Man Utd players are - everyone gets this rubbish in their inbox each day and deletes them! I walked out the fourth time Laura Solon came on so I missed the character act "Jermey Lion" and so can't comment although the other reviews of him from Edfringe.com are not complimentary. All in all the worse comedy show I've seen all year. Robin Ince hosted it and some of his material was okay but the rest was weak (yet another comic doing trite material about We Are Not Afraid.com and Gillian Mackeith, sigh). The biggest disappointment of course was last Wednesday when the nominees came out and Phil Nichol wasn't on it (ditto for Andrew Maxwell). Politics robbed the show of people with actual talent. Could this be the end of the Perrier Awards as a credible title? I bumped into Daniel Kitson far away from the venue and said to him it was re-assuring to see him so I knew there are people out there with genuine talent.

P

P is mid-ranking story of witchcraft and evil spirits. A young Thai girl has to go to the city to pay for care for her grandmother (back in the “jungle”) and so gets a job in a brothel / show bar for tourists. After being shunned she uses the spells her gran taught her to inflict great pain on the nasty people. She then breaks all three of the golden rules and the magic turns evil and takes her form to murder people at night and feast on their blood. Nothing surprising or original to be honest about this film, other than the setting (Thailand). Well made but watch The Exorcist or even Carrie instead.

27 August 2005

Antik├Ârper (Antibodies)

Antik├Ârper is very slick German serial killer film that keeps you thinking all the way through the film. The film starts with the brutal capturing of the serial killer and then takes us to a small German town which is the focal point of the film. A young girl was killed there and the part time policeman believes it was the serial killer but the murder doesn't fully match the profile of his other crimes. The local policeman goes to see the serial killer to try to resolve the nagging doubt but instead gets dragged into mind games with the killer. As the film progresses our hero starts witnessing evil all around and inside himself and the serial killer takes each confrontation to the next level. A lot better and more believable that Se7en (which I didn't think was too scary and the ending was a bit too predictable), Christian Alvart really does keep you guessing as to how the film is going to turn out. As good as Lola Rennt(Run Lola Run) – go out of your way to watch this.

Phil Nichol - Nearly Gay

Awesome show from a man with phenomenal energy. I hummed and harred regarding booking this show as I knew he would be a strong favourite to win the Perrier (and a certainty to be nominated). It's a good job that I did book as not only did politics rob him of a justifable award but I also would have missed out on one of the best shows of the year. The whole act is a story of him trying to reason with himself over another comic, Scott Capuro, attacking him on stage in Edinburgh seven years ago calling him a homophobe. Phil is a great actor (nominated for Best Actor in the Fringe this year for his other play) and it really shows as you believe his character transformations during his story from everyone from his father to Brendon Burns and a bitchy receptionist at a gay hair studio. A great voyage and very funny, I guess telling stories about gayer-than-gay sex, cocaine taking and horrific genital injuries is just too much for the nicey-nicey Perrier Awards (sponsored by the Evil™ Nestle).

25 August 2005

Dominion - Prequel to the Exorcist

This film gets a bit of leeway because there are two scenes using CGIs and because of the post-production costs they are not very impressive. The reason for that is this film was scripted and produced then scrapped. It has nothing to do with the Studio system (as Paul Schrader went to great lengths to explain), instead one man financed this film and when he saw the final (pre-post-production) cut he decided it wasn't what he was after (even though he approved the script), sacked the director and did some re-shooting. The re-shoots lasted 2 weeks, then 4 weeks, then 6 weeks, then are hell let's just re-shoot the entire film. This version is quite good, it retains several key ingredients from The Exorcist and is a worthy prequel as it does make you think on a few occasions. The next stage is to watch the second version and see how badly it compares to this one. I guess the most enjoyable part of this experience was hearing the director explain what happened and for the first time ever we'll get to see the same film made with the saem cast and crew but just a different director and a different focus. Rent the pair of them when it comes out on DVD in October but if you actually want a horror film (rather than a Film Studies session), rent the Directors Cut of The Exorcist and be amazed (one of my favourite films of all time).

Gypo

The first and only film British film made to the Dogme principles. Heard everyone of all ages (including Dave Fulton) coming out of this film (before I went in to see the appaling Robert Carmichael) chatting saying that this film was "excellent". As if further proof were needed, take a look at IMDB. If you ignore the erronious overall rating and look into the details you will find over 75% of people rating it gave it a 10/10 mark. In fact it has also been selected as "Best of the Film Fest" and is being screened on Sunday. Just a quick word about IMDB's vote calculator. To avoid "vote stuffing" they tend to lessen the value of the 10s or the 1s. Gypo received 16 10s and and few 1s and 2s. Somehow it got a calculated value of 3.7! Robert Carmichael on the other hand was split between 50% giving it 1s and the other half giving it 8s 9s or 10s giving it a "calculated" 6.7! The moral of the story is look deeper than the front page single value (and watch Gypo!).

The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael

Utter rubbish. Out of all the "emperor's new clothes" films I've seen, this is the worst. The plot is paper thin, the dialogue flat and one-dimensional, the acting is so wooden as the actors are very green. The only reason why this film made it to Edinburgh is because they added in a "let's shock 'em and get publicity" scene at the end. The reaction they got was an unimpressed "that was a waste of nearly two hours" rather than the shocked one they hoped for. In the Q&A afterwards they admitted they were looking to provoke a reaction and also avoided any questions on what was the purpose of the film (to make a point or simple shock/entertain). Instead the director tried to hide behind the "I just create art, you define what it is" crap. A obviously intelligent reviewer over at IMDB (username Chris_Docker) makes an excellent closing argument: "Andy Warhol could paint a tin of soup and it was art. Clay Hugh would like to emulate the great directors that have made controversial cinema and pushed boundaries. Sadly, his ability at the moment only extends to making high-sounding excuses for a publicity-seeking film". Avoid at all costs (although I sincerely don't think it'll make your nearest cinema!) and don't talk about it as it feeds it publicity. Even Dominion has a better and stronger "anti-war" message.

24 August 2005

Perrier and Writers Awards 2005

Robert Newman just missed out on The Writers' Guild award for Best Scripted Comedy. Instead it went to Dan Tetsell for a show about his grandfather being an SS officer. The Fairtrade Dubble Act Award went to The Pajama Men who were also nominated for Best Newcomers last year (under the name Sabotage). The Perrier Nominees will be out imminently (the panel are apparently locked in discussion and have been since 9am this morning). Word on the street is Chris Addison and Phil Nichol should be nominated, possibly with Tim Minchin and Will Smith too (if he's managed to stay in character and trim his act since I saw him). That would be a relatively strong line up for my Sunday evening entertainment (and annoy my friends who have tickets to see Chris on Sunday but he'd have to cancel!) but nowhere near as strong as previous years. Only a matter of minutes until the final five are released to the world. In the meantime the most laughable name I've heard mooted for the list (by a stupid gambling website) was Lucy Porter! The Perrier Nominees have to be very very good and original, the winner has to be world class. The Evening News describes Lucy Porter as "her material is rarely knockout - more smile-along-funny than split-your-sides hilarious". Anyway, enough about her, I'm just interested in how many of the five nominees I'll have seen...

UPDATED: Wow, I'm very surpised at the final listing. Chris Addison is the favourite but Laura Solon (Kopfrapers Syndrome) is a newcomer (although a strong entery) which has its own award. Jeremy Lion (Justin Edwards) is a shock to me as character comedy has been over-yped the past few years (Pub Landlord, Otis Lee Crenshaw, Jackson's Way) and Jason Manford's 'Urban Legend' has been described as a nice slant but on an unorginal material (and he's yet another newcomer). Andrew Maxwell and Phil Nichol both miss out which is a big shock (Phil more than Andrew). Completing the list is Dutch Elm Conservatoire with 'Conspiracy', which is almost a comic play, sort-of. Tim Minchin only made the Newcomers Award shortlist alongside Mark Watson. My money has been on nice and safe, second time lucky Chris Addison. Bring on Saturday.

23 August 2005

Animal "Rights" Protesters Shut Guinea Pig Farm

This is just plain wrong. Instead of petitioning to get monkeys the right to vote, some activists have made so many threats to the people behind a guinea pig farm that breeds them for medical research that they've decided to close. I'm disgusted. What else can you do with guinea pigs except use them in new experiments? It's their destiny, that's what they are, guinea pigs. If I woke up as a child and asked my dad, "Dad, what am I?" and the response came back "You're a Crash Test Dummy son", then I'd know what future lay ahead for me. I certainly wouldn't go thinking about becoming Prime Minister.

18 August 2005

Demetri Martin – These Are Jokes

Got a free ticket to see him last night, paid to see him tonight. I would have gladly paid £10 each night to see him perform. Put simply this guy is exceptional, he told jokes to us while playing a glockenspiel with one hand and a keyboard with the other. The show opened with him playing a harmonic, strumming a guitar and with his right foot playing a mini keyboard! Consistently up there as one of the best comics on the circuit. His first (Perrier Award Winning) show was “If I” which was an introspective look at himself and his life up until he got into comedy. Last year he performed “Spiral Bound”, a surreal story about being trapped in his note book and he couldn't escape until he changed. This year, possibly due to his work commitment writing for Conan O Brian, he performs “These Are Jokes”, an eclectic ramble of excellent observations and highly intelligent manipulations of our language (Strathmore Still Spring Water, after all these years). Okay it wasn't quite as good as his last two shows but it was almost as good as Steven Wright's legendary performances (and that's not bad for a 32 year old). Jimmy Carr was their the first night and if I was Jimmy I'd go home and cry having seen the talent and wealth of material Demetri manages to conjure up (no cheap puns such as “fattist” in sight!). Best of the festival so far, with Robert Newman and Chris Addison tied for second.

17 August 2005

Crash - You Can't Crash When Involved In This Type Of Race

Tonight's film was the highly advertised and reasonably well praised Crash. First off the loose connection relating to car crashes is just that - loose. The whole film revolves around race and of course racism. My initial concern was when I saw the running time of 1 hour 57 minutes. Having walked out I can honestly say it didn't drag at all. As there are eight main characters and they only slightly overlap with each other, their on-screen time is limited so you don't get bored by their stories. The various plots are nicely woven together and twist and turn quite delightfully. At one major point I feared the whole story was going to be ruined by a stupid and trashes plot twist but boy was I wrong. I sat there stunned as they totally fooled me in two consecutive sequences, raising their game just as you felt the various ending may suddenly become typical Hollywood trash. All in all I heartedly recommend this film, from the light humour at the beginning, through the moral issues raised and all the way to satisfactory resolutions of all the character's journeys. Once or twice you have to suspend disbelief a little bit (people being in the wrong place at the wrong time) but nowhere near as much as another mainstream film. The only downside is towards the end where a major plot twist is re-explained for very stupid people and then (much to my disgust during the film), re-explained by another character and shoved right in your face. The cinema groaned at this point and I (uncharacteristically) yelled out an expletive/heckle. Drop this one scene and the film is definitely worth 9/10. With it in it still gets an "excellent", but only 8/10. Still go and see it though.

12 August 2005

Y? Because They're Worth It...

Anybody who's willing to go up on a 60' ladder and force open windows with gallons of smoke pouring out into their face is worth at least £30,000 a year in my view. I knew a girl once (honest) that joined the Fire Brigade and she was put through the most intense tests and army like training to make sure she could hack it. Anywho, on to the story. On a quiet Friday evening my televisual viewing was interupted by the piercing sirens of the emergency services. Looking out of my kitchen window I thought, "Hmmm, the flat behind me is on fire". I have great pleasure in sharing with you all my images of this heroic action by the boys (and girls) in the big red trucks. I never saw anyone get treated by the ambulances which is always a good thing. All the action happened between 8.45pm and 9.15pm and then it took around another 45 minutes to clear the area.

Dara O'Briain

Much bigger venue than last year, infact he's playing in the biggest venue the festival has (as far as I know). Hundreds of people will be coming to see him having seen him on HIGNFY and the rather weak Mock The Week - usually not a good sign. Before I start, let me say that Dara is a first class stand-up with incredible speed of thought. Then let me say that for this performance he was high on painkillers as he's just had knee surgery (and has to walk with a crutch). All in all, I think the show was good. It wasn't as good as Chris Addison as he had so much more material, rather than anicdotes. Dara made us laugh all the way through but we never burst into uncontrollable belly-laughter. The only real downside was that the final two segments were about a joke he made during HIGNFY and his appearence on Room 101. Both of these events I witnessed so it was disappointing not to hear anything new for the final 20 minutes or so. That said, it was still a thouroughly enjoyable show, deserving of four stars out of five (the same as Newsrevue or Jeff Green from last year).

10 August 2005

Whose Fish Is This? I Know

Pre-dating Eddie Izzard's idea for the gameshow "Whose Pig Is This?", there is a logic puzzle where you have to work out who owns the fish. Despite the story, it was not created by Albert Einstein. If you can solve it within 20 minutes you are suposed to be in the most intelligent 2% of the world. I did, but after all I was also in Mensa! Enough self praise, test your logic abilities... I can confirm the answer if you want to email me.

There are five houses in a row in different colors. In each house lives a person with a different nationality. The five owners drink a different drink, smoke a different brand of cigar and keep a different pet, one of which is a Walleye Pike. The question is -- who owns the fish?

Hints:
1. The Brit lives in the red house.
2. The Swede keeps dogs as pets.
3. The Dane drinks tea.
4. The green house is on the left of the white house.
5. The green house owner drinks coffee.
6. The person who smokes Pall Malls keeps birds.
7. The owner of the yellow house smokes Dunhills.
8. The man living in the house right in the center drinks milk.
9. The man who smokes Blends lives next to the one who keeps cats.
10. The Norwegian lives in the first house.
11. The man who keeps horses lives next to the one who smokes Dunhills.
12. The owner who smokes Bluemasters drinks beer.
13. The German smokes Princes.
14. The Norwegian lives next to the blue house.
15. The man who smokes Blends has a neighbor who drinks water.

8 August 2005

Newsrevue 24/7

Started and closed very strongly which is important. Last year the show was in Chambers Street and it was great. This year they have gone with the un-tried former Odeon on Clerk Street and it sucks, big time. Basically the stage is **considerably** lower than the front row of seats meaning everyone bar the front row has an impaired vision of anything low down. Very poor deisgn by the venue and I'm sure the performers are annoyed with it (as it costs them around £200 per show). As for the show, as I said it opened very strongly with a Queen song covering the Pope's death. After that the show seem to dip quite a bit, the non-musical sketches were quite weak and very predicable. You could have easily believed you were watching a Sixth Form School Show. After a few more musical numbers the quaility really picked up and then they pulled out two great spoken pieces, one about the new Doctor Who being a ponce, the other about the ridiculous villians in Eastenders. In between was a great song about middle class mothers in 4x4 (a recurring them this festival) and the show closed with an excellent rendition of Star Treking by George Dubya and Co. With two exceptions, if you cut the non-musical bits out the show would be excellent but only 40 minutes. With them in I'll give them "very good" and clarify that I'm not disappointed I went to see it, even though I saw them last year and missed out on going to see the Umbilical Brothers. If you've never seen them then there's no time like the present, you never know if they'll be performing next year (that's a joke, they hold the World Record for longest running comedy show).

7 August 2005

Danny Bhoy

Very good observational stuff from the best Scottish Comidean (I'm not a fan of Frankie Boyle and Billy Connolly is phenomeally over-rated). Very calm and relaxed on stage, clearly being doing it for years. It wasn't a performance, more a friend ellaborating on his amusing thoughts. Interesting he started with the news that the WHO have declared the Scottish diet to be the worst in the world. That's worse thatn all the African countries some many people are starving! While his show was very enjoyable, he reminded me of Jeff Green who we saw last year. Very comfortable and un-aggressive but you felt it could have been raised to another level and you never really laughed with your whole belly. Don't get me wrong it is a good show, better than I expected and he's a lot more entertaining than Omid Djalili. It's just not great. The best two gags were from what he claimed to be true stories. The first was about flying on a propellar plane in Australia where the minor next to him pulled out a hardcore porn mag, the second (and last routine of the night) involved a urinal in one of the pubs in Edinburgh were someone had scribbled on to the tiles "Express Lane - 5 Beers Or Less Only". There were a few young teenagers in the audience and there really was no problem with the being there (just a handful of fecks). That says a lot as some many other comics really on excessive bad language to get cheap laughs (and I'm not talking split infinitives here).

Gamarjobat - A Shut Up Comedy from Japan

Great silent comedy that transcends language - thoroughly enjoyable. The opening 20 minutes was exceptional. Some great visual gags, magic tricks, mime and performance art (like going down escalators). Really and truly belly-shakingly funny for any age and any language. The only thing I'd prefer is to be in a better venue as the design of the former Odeon in Clerk Street is just moronic. The stage should have been raised consdierable higher so everyone could see (although on a few things happened low down). After the opening piece in suits there is a long Rocky story which occassionally slows but picks up with several funny moments. It would have been better if they trimmed the boxer routine down to 30 mins and finished with a final 10 minutes of insane clowning around like they did at the beginning. There is more than enough to make everyone leave feeling statified, even if the boxer routine drags on too long. Unmissable is you want very clean, simple fun (a real rarity and nice change not to hear feck during a festival show) or like similar (but physically less impressive clowning) such as Men In Coats.

Screwmachine

Screw the Cavalcade and screw Rock Steady Security. We couldn't cross Princes Street at the crossing point (other people had been waiting for an hour so we couldn't get to the show). I wanted to see my old friend Mike McShane (I hear he's really put on weight).

Best of the Fest (6th Aug)

Standing on George Street at Midnight I got chatting with one of the Assembly Rooms' staff and he told me the previous night the audience were waiting outside for 57 minutes! We only had to wait 15 minutes and saw Andy Parsons leaving the venue and Rob Gilbert arriving. Last year we had to wait an hour to see Lucy Porter and believe me she wasn't worth it, she was totally devoid of jokes and any thing resembling material. Guess who was on Best of the Fest ... Lucy Porter. Oh yeah and Chris Addison who we'd just seen 3 hours ago. There were others though, notable Stewart Lee headlining it so I was happy. Eddie Perfect started off and was okay, KT felt he was a far better musician than a comic. After another bomb by Lucy Porter we had the Welsh Rob Gilbert. There were several sustained belly laughing moments regading cheap airline travel and then he starting talking about stalking people. He asked if there were any stalkers in and got a decent response. "What do you like about stalking, my friend?" he asked someone in the balcony. "I don't know your friend" came the immediate response. Excellent. The show climaxed with Stewart Lee, a great comic who I was annoyed I missed by chosing Omid Djalili over him. His delivery was quite slow tonight, either because of a few drinks, or the fact that he started at 1.45am, or maybe he's just slowed down in recent years. The crowd seemed to have tied too (just like for Jimeoin's headline piece last night) but he was still a pleasure to see. Despite the number of comics I do feel a bit let down with both multi-comic shows. If I'd paid 10 a ticket I'd be very annoyed but I suppose it was actually worth a fiver. Talked briefly about Joe Pasquale stealing the material of circuit comics, likewise when Jimmy Carr for sued Jim Davidson last year for stealing his "fattist" joke. I'm not impressed by Jimmy Carr, I find his interaction with the audience very scripted and rigid and his material is also too similar and quite often predicatable. In light of that I was very amused when Stewart continued with "although, if Jim Davidson wants to steal your jokes that means it's time to get new material". Nice final joke to close the night out with, a simple switch regarding the TV coverage of the Pope's funeral and Camilla's wedding which was to be on the same day. He ended with the line "on one hand you want to see a wrinkled old corpse ... I'm not going to patronise you and finish that joke off. Good night!".

6 August 2005

Robin Ince - As Dumb As You

First time I've ever seen a comic based on another comic's reccomendation and probably the last. While a lot of his material is good it needs a lot more polishing and his presentation really needs working on. He really needed a projector as showing us print outs from the internet didn't work for me. He also messed up one big callback gag near the end by not seeding it in the opening 10 minutes. The show was also cut and lasted only 50 minutes - it seems he thought (incorrectly) he was running long so cut a decent chunk out bit. As I did say he did have some funny stuff and I can't complain too hard about a show that slates the Daily Mail and Gillian McKeith throughout (Gillian's new thing is the rainbow diet as she thinks similar coloured foods have similar benefits so she "reccomends" having every colour of the raindbow each day. I've got news for you Gillian, Skittles aren't good for you!). The best line in the whole piece was when he said he was in the US and messed up and was looked by a North American with a look of derision, "which is the lowest insult in the world". Definitely worth looking at again next year, maybe skip him year.

Mark Watson - 50 Years Before Death

Never seen a comedian like him, literally. That's probably because I never saw him. We arrived and the guy said I've got space for one more and I said to KT "it's okay, I'll grab this chair". The doorman then elaborate saying "no, I've only got space for one more and then I'm at capacity". As we stood there all looking flummoxed, 8 more people walking up the stairs holding tickets. 10 minutes later following a brief chat with the supervisor of the box office it seems the venue's computer said they'd sold 50 tickets (capacity of 60) yet the girl from the ground floor had 59 correct stubs. Then there were KT, me and 8 others! We traded our tickets in for some to see Robin Ince on the recommendation of Chris Addison earlier.

Chris Addison - Atomicity

Very fast paced stuff from a man with buckets of material. The strongest act I've seen in any festival, after of course Dara O'Briain and at number one Demetri Martin. The show revolves around the periodic table of elements (cool I hear some of you cry, others just cry). We journey with him through several tangents to try to discover what this iconic chemistry poster means to our lives. Chris is clearly very intelligent (although not a science boffin) and the show is incredibly well researched and rehearsed. Nobody could tell it was only his third night doing this show (in Edinburgh, he did admit to trying it out somewhere near London). This is excellent value for you ten pounds. Very brief highlights (not important gags) include the Queen opening parliament and reading "my government intend to bring in the following bills what the copied fom the Daily Mail". He also out-witted us all after we groaned at "now the Bronze Age was the third best age of all time". Excellent stuff, my first "must see".

5 August 2005

Will Smith - Misplaced Childhood

Heard him last year on BBC Four's broadcast from the festival and in his 10 minute bit he was quite good and very posh (what do you expect if you live in Jersey?). He's won a few nominations and a newcomer award over the past year so I decided to give him ago. Although it seems like I'm setting you up for a fall I'm not, he was quite good although there are two key areas the ruined the show. First off he over ran by 15 minutes which meant that his material looked thin and it seemed like he was wandering at times. The second is far more important - he broke character far too many times! There is a word used in "professional" wrestling circles (i.e. scripted, not like amateur stuff in the Olympics) called "kayfabe". That basically means staying in (good or bad) character and it applies when being interviewed or arriving at the venue et cetera. To break kayfabe is very naughty indeed. Now imagine how noticeable it would be if one of them broke kayfabe during a performance. Will Smith's character is a slightly twisted version of himself that is trying to resolve issues with his "misplaced childhood" and suppress and bad thoughts or experiences (e.g. losing his first true love). Sadly he broke kayfabe all throughout his show. He seemed to be in character for 5 minutes and dissolve out of it for the next five. After the pieces of VT he showed us he was very much back in character but he'd slowly drift out of this excitable inner child ("I'm the winner!") to a more mundane, documentary like persona that he's really like. His props clearly took a long time to prepare (especially VT of him interviewing Fish, the lead singer of some rock band called Marillion). If he tightens up his performance (after all this was just a preview) and stays in character throughout it will be a thoroughly enjoyable show. Instead we had to give a few benefits of the doubt and (ironically) use are imagination to see the imaginary world of the character he was trying to project.

Festival Irritations

I don't want free tickets to see shitty comic character, I want to continue my conversation with my friends in peace! If you can't give the free tickets away to other people, what makes you think I'd want them? Sigh. In other news, what sort of idiot takes an 18 month old baby to a comedy show??? Not only did they interupt Omid's performance (nice break though) they also sat there not wanting to take it outside until the show basically ground to a halt. I want to park near my flat too, damn Tattoo.

Omid Djalili - No Agenda

Straight off I have to say I was disappointed with this show. I've seen Omid doing good honest stand up in the late 90s and he was pretty good. Tonight's show let me down from the beginning The venue was the Pleasance Sports Hall seating over 200 people which started alarm bells ringing. I'd heard his first 15 minutes before on the various stand up shows on Paramount which means it wasn't new material. Likewise an end segment regarding middle class mothers. Omid was born and brought up in London to an Iranian family and a large segment of his act was about the Middle East but with very few jokes in it. He peppered this with several different accents (which he's very good at) and a few showbiz stories. I think what really disappointed me was that he performed for an hour as a showbiz entertainer, not a stand up comic. He jokes were very simple, not political (see Robert Newman) or intelligent (see Danniel Kitson or Demetri Martin), and the punchlines were not really a surprise. Several gags were just callbacks to silly noises or aggressive shouts of swearing. I don't believe he has done much comedy since his big tour of 2002 (Behind Enemy Lines), instead he's been acting in films and on TV in the US. Very similar to when Eddie Izzard did his Circle tour, he spent three years acting and then when he jumped back into stand up he was very rusty. I chose Omid over Stewar Lee to see tonight (same time) and I regret it (I'll have to try doubley hard to see Stewart Lee for a sensible price). That said the £7 was almost justified by one 5 minute story regarding slapping heads in a cinema - the only time I laughed (rather than smiled) during the show and it was a big, hysterical belly laugh. Great payoff of to the story.

4 August 2005

Danniel Kitson

Winner of the Perrier Award 2002 returns to The Stand with a longer than normal show (1.25 hours which actually wnet on to 1.5 on the first night). He said he hadn't looked at the show for a week but you really couldn't tell. Obviously when you have a stutter you get away with momentary lapses of memory! Danniel is a very interesting Yorkshireman. Several of his quips sound like a mixture of some of Steve Coogan's characters and The Office's David Brent (not a big fan of either). The difference here though is Danniel is very intelligent and this sort of brilliance far outshines the over-running cringe "humour" of The Office. One such example is when he mentioned his friend and hiself use "ironical racism" and later when mocking the Scottish accent he said "I have a scottish friend in my circle of friends and we treat him very much like we would a black friend; it shows how liberal we are". His observations, delivery and intelligence really makes the show very enjoyable, if not side-splitting funny, and you forget how cramped you are in the basement of The Stand.

Covering such great arrears for stimulational as being called a mysoginist, being an egotist and meeting people for the first time, the show really flows and clearly has so much thought and content put into it (unlike Lucy Porter last year). One of my favourite ego lines was when he was told "don't think the world revolves around you" he thought, "well from my eyes it does. I'm in minute of the world that I percieve" (that quote doesn't really do justice to his piece). Very humble, funny, provocative and just a damn fine pleasure to listen to. Don't expect cheap laughs though, this man's a thinker.

3 August 2005

Robert Newman - Apocalypso Now

Very informative and still has the ability to get good laughs, well worth seeing on so many levels. Last year Mark Thomas enlightened us about the problem with corporations being the enemy of democracy and on a very similar line Robert (not Rob damn it) uses our foreign policy that has never changed for 200 plus years.

First off we hear about the crushing of democracy in Iran - by the US and British in 1953 that left a dictatorship. The new Prime Minister (elected with nearly 90%) gained popularity with one key promise. Re-nationalise what is now BP. The British (Churchill again, bastard) and the US funded a military coup and installed their preferred dictator.

Next up we listen to the real cause of World War I - the invasion of Iraq. The Germans, having no oil of their own, were in the process of building a Berlin to Iraq railway that had already reached what is now Turkey. The first military movements of WWI were the Dorset brigade and many others landing in Iraq to prevent Germany getting access to the oil. The US are currently constructing 14 permanent US military bases in Iraq, to be occupied after they "leave".

Interesting comparisons between the US dollar and Dali's bank account. The US owe every bank in the world but the dollar is still strong. The reason is every oil transaction has to take place in dollars (as per 1971 OPEC decision). This was akin to the later years of Savaldor Dali's life. He would run up huge restaurant bills and then pay by cheque. Before he let the cheque go he would turn it over and do a signed and dated drawing on the back. That would be priceless to the owner so he would frame it and therefore never cash the cheque. A couple of years ago Iran and Iraq both decided to say "bugger the US" and changed all their banks accounts into Euros. This lost them 20% but they then made all oil transactions in Euros too. North Korea and Syria (the remaining members of the Axis of Evil) changed to make ALL their trades in Euros, not dollars. As momentum started to get behind this switch (and make the dollar no longer the king) OPEC considered changing the rules (under the presidency of Venezula) to make all oil transactions in Euros. This would mean all banks getting rid of their dollar supply in favour of Euros and heavily depreciating the dollar. The US then invaded Iraq, made the switch back to dollars and claimed control of the oil, thereby saving the Federal Bank.

Finally good stuff about the Peak Oil (ref: "The Parties Over") which is when a country needs more oil than it can produce. This happened to the US in 1971, UK in 2003, Venezula in 2000 and many other oil producing countries. The problem is in 1930s there was a 2000 calorie to 1 ratio of food to oil, i.e. with 1 calorie of fossil fuel a farmer could make 2000 calories of food). In the 50s/60s that changed to a 1:1 ratio and we are now completely at the inverse. For every calorie of food a farmer produces we need 2000 calories of fossil fuels to power the insecticides, machinery, refrigeration, 4 digit transport miles et cetera. This means total collapse of the "industrial revolution" unless we take immediate action and invest heavily in renewable energies such as solar, wind or wave. The money the UK has spent on trying to grab the final few drops of oil in Iraq could have transformed the UK in a totally self renewing powered country. Nothing seems to have changed since WWI and way before that when Wordsworth was spied on as he harboured and collaborated with a "terrorist" (someone they feared could inspire a French Revolution in England).

1 August 2005

I'm A Foreign Mute Amputee, Leave Me Alone!

My t-shirt is nearly ready for me to wear for the next month. It says on it "I'm a foreign mute amputee" in big letters. Underneath that it reads "I don't understand English, I can't speak and I have no hands". Finally it says "So don't bother me with your flyers!". That should do me for this year... In other thoughts I've been mildly impressed with some recent changes to the design of cars. Ignoring the Smart range very little has happened in recent years that shows a unique thought. A little while back Peugeot (amongst others) replaced their rear lights with LEDs and in turn put them in fancy strips like ///. This weekend I finally saw the new Golf Plus, a bigger version of the Golf and I was impressed. Finally I saw the coolest enhancement of all, the doors on the new 1007.

29 July 2005

Flat Characters and Slow Plot but Very Funny and Authentic Dialogue

It's official, I accept I didn't make the cut :-( The first script I've properly produced and it never made the "long list" in the BBC's competition The Last Laugh. Basically you had to choose a half written sitcom and write the second half. The winning one would be made into a pilot. I chose "Good Morning Miss Milton" by Paul Mayhew-Archer (writer of Vicar of Dibley) which is set in a primary school. While it didn't make the cut, here are what some semi-professional writers said about my work: "Some very good lines" "I thought the dialogue flowed very smoothly; however the overall feel I got from the script was comedy-drama rather than sitcom" "I didn't feel that all of your dialogue was necessary, and maybe if you had got rid of some of this aimless or semi-humorous dialogue, it would have given you more room to put in better jokes, which judging from the best bits of this, you could have done." "I must compliment you on the actual dialogue which was natural and efficient." I'm sure that's got you interested, so here is the original start of the show (copyright BBC) and having read that you can read my ending. Comments are very welcome.

28 July 2005

US Neuters Crazy Frog; Bill Gates Involved With Aliens

Hmmm. Damn US companies. First off The Register is reporting that the Crazy Frog's wedding tackle has been snipped off by iTunes. The US release of the Axel F single has a picture of him less his cocktail sausage whilst straddling a huge phallic rocket. In other Register reported news, Micro$oft's new map website seems to be missing several areas of the Nevada desert, yet Google maps managed to show the satellite pictures of a military base that doesn't exist.

27 July 2005

Fantastic Four - Michael Chiklis Rocks, Some Others Are Okay

There's only one reason to see the Fantastic Four ... and it's not to see Jessica Alba in her underwear (hint: watch Sin City, everyone strips in that, even the men). Out of the four characters, the only one I ever actually liked was The Thing aka Ben Grimm. Michael Chiklis (star of The Shield) does his very best to show some of his talent and make us feel the struggle inside The Thing as he tries to come to terms with what he's become. Sadly you don't always believe he is made of rock, several times it is too obvious that he's covered in orange foam. The fact that any emotions come through such heavy make-up is testament to Michael's ability. All in all it was a decent film (very similar to The Incredibles which in turn is based on the Fantastic Four). The cheap jokes and quips would have been laugh out loud funny if literally all of them had been shown in the trailers before hand :-( There was the right amount special effects and the journey of the lead characters was interesting, probably the only downside to the story was that there was only one real battle with the bad guy (Dr. Doom) and he took quite a while to become evil. The sequel should be considerably stronger as the back stories have now all been sorted.

Presentation Is Everything

Never under-estimate the power of image and the first impression you make on someone. The way I looked on my first non-date with KT is a big reason why we started to go out for real. With that in mind, would you be happy if these guys came around to fix your plumbing? [If you've googled and actually need a plumber, use the website I created at need a plumber.org to find a licensed Scottish plumber or plumbing firm]

26 July 2005

Why Labels Are Useless

Sadly this isn't a little piece slating fashion designers :-( At the weekend I was having a conversation with a few friends when the subject of meat eating came up. I have friends who don't eat meat for a variety of reasons and classify themselves as vegetarians or vegans. The problem is that one of them loves pepperoni but won't eat fish or any fresh meat. Similarly one vegan will eat honey, the other one won't. Back in the late 80s stereo-typing became this bad thing. I think it's about time all labelling, be reduced to have the least possible weight. My friend isn't a vegetarian with exceptions x, y and z. He is himself. A great philosopher once wrote "I am what I am" (the philosopher has nothing to do with the Roman Catholic church, his name just happens to be Pope Ye).

25 July 2005

Perfect Pizzas Taste Better When They Are Free!

Mmmm, free food. I've just bought 8 bottle of Tabasco sauce (about £1.20). I hate tomatoes so no Bloody Marys for me, so why buy so many? Simple, the boxes are flashed with "Free Pizza" and inside is a voucher for a free 10" Cheese and Tomato pizza with any four toppings from Perfect Pizza (aka Papa John's). You get six slices of a very taste pizza, better than the new pan pizzas from Pizza Hut (I did taste testing for them before they were launched). Better still, they give you a free sauce to dip your crusts in! Throw in a garlic bread and you've got a good meal for two. On top of all that TGI Fridays still have a great BOGOF promotion on until the end of the month (but not a weekends). Think I'll take them up on that again this week...

24 July 2005

Motorists Drive Me Around The Bend!

It truly amazes me just how bad some people are at driving and how un-observant others are. Do peoples' minds switch off when they get behind a wheel? Here are the most common and annoying errors I've come across in recent weeks. If you are turning off a road INDICATE! Don't just brake and turn, show some courtesy to the people behind you. The same goes for roundabouts. When you get on a roundabout you must indicate as you are chaning lanes. You carry on indicating to show which way you are going and then as you change lanes to turn off you indicate left. For the few people that still do that, well done (I assume the others thought they only had to do it once on their test to prove they could do it and then that was it for life). When I'm indicating it means I'm going that way. I may go all around the roundabout back in the direction I came from. That's why we use indicators, so idiots driving trucks and coaches don't just assume I'm going to turn off before them. When turning right move as far forward as you can, especially if you are doing the annoying "turning left side to left side" so neither of you can see what's coming from the other direction. Don't be timid. Finally, the yellow box. If you are turning right and your exit to the yellow box is clear, MOVE into the middle of it. If traffic is coming straight on and they have right of way that's not a problem you suppose to be in the middle of the yellow waiting for your chance to turn. Do NOT wait outside the yellow box thinking it's the right thing to do (re-read Highway Code Rule 150). I think that'll do for the moment.