it still moves 29 september 2003
We've been on a bit of an animation tip recently. In order:
Next stop: Finding Nemo, so we can compare the differences between European, Japanese and American animation. Further bulletins as events warrant.
Nice to see that David Millar won a stage of the Vuelta de Espana. Whinging bastard he may be, but he's got a good pair of legs on 'im when he chooses to use them. Even better that Heras won the whole thing; go USPS! Can't help wondering what it'd have looked like if Beloki hadn't been so severely injured during the TdF, mind. And Petacchi gets kudos for actually finishing the Vuelta (and winning the final stage) - that's made up for bottling out of the TdF.
Winning the "funniest thing I've seen for a bit" award: the sight of a young baby (14 weeks) in one of those hanging-from-door-frame bouncy things, with the hiccups. At each hiccup he'd bounce up and then start rotating gently in the other direction. He seemed to be enjoying it, mind. Most cute.
full scream ahead 25 september 2003
Someone sent an email around the other day saying they'd found a bike lock in the carpark the previous night, and that it was at reception. Fair enough. They then specified that it had come off a lady's blue racing bike. Which leaves us all thinking, how did they know? Was there a polaroid of the bike attached to the lock? Maybe with a ransom note?
On the headphones: Das Modell, Rammstein covering the Kraftwerk classic. It's surprisingly good. And of course, The Androids' splendid Do It With Madonna - pure class. And for comic relief, The Darkness' Get Your Hands Off Of My Woman, purely for the chorus (high falsetto "Get your hands off of my woman, motherfucker!").
I'm sure it's a sign of something that the main thing I find annoying about my spam at the moment is the continual misspelling of Xanax. And it turns out that Soma is a prescription muscle relaxant. A gram is better than a damn, eh?
I spent a good ten minutes on my way home last night trying to track down the cause of a strange crackling noise on my bike. Every time I pedalled down with my right leg, this odd noise happened. As the right side has the drivechain on it, I figured it must be something to do with the cranks or chainrings. Could be a chainring bolt rattling slightly loose? Didn't quite sound like that... after locking the bike up, I realised that it was a piece of paper in my fleece pocket. Ho hum. Last time this happened, it took me 15 minutes to work out that the worrying jingling sound from the direction of my bottom bracket wasn't my cranks unscrewing themselves, it was the loose zip on my gillet.
Ended up reading The Flying Scotsman, Graeme Obree's autobiography, on the train on the way back down to London. Obree is a world-class cyclist, and an interesting study in what it takes to be driven to succeed at the top levels of athletics. He's held the official hour record - the furthest distance cycled in a mile (at the time, around 55km). He's also attempted suicide three times, the last attempt at which he was only saved from by freak chance. He's a very, very troubled man, and an extremely good athlete - both of which come through in this book. He built his own bike, from scratch, including parts from his washing machine at the time. Fascinating read, although extremely depressing. The book kicks off on a bum note with a discussion of his childhood (shite, terrifyingly so), covers his career as a world-class track cyclist, and then his career since. It's the sort of autobiography that you strongly suspect was written largely as therapy - an impression that he himself confirms towards the end. Worth reading, but only if you're not already prone to depression, as it'd all get a bit much.
"girl strapped kite naked"? You're kidding, right? Now there's a fetish that hadn't even occurred to me. That's why I read my referrer logs - you find out so much. Also to discover that someone searched just this site for "topless holiday photos" - sorry, we're far too uptight for that sort of thing. You probably want some of our friends.
get down to my technique 22 september 2003
Ah, travel. It broadens the mind, it broadens the feet, and it does a body good. We've been a-roaming around the country for the last week or so, and it's been grand. The general theme was "See people we like in interesting places", and I think it was carried out pretty nicely.
First stop was Edinburgh for five days. We'd popped up to see the illustrious Jared & Sharyn, who were in fine fettle. Much good catching up, and a moderate degree of fondue, ensued. Cracker! Also caught up with various of my relatives who live in Edinburgh, plus the ever-funky Morgue (he's taller than before, I swear).
Edinburgh's always a good trip. Quite apart from the aforementioned lovely inhabitants, the city itself is great. It's actually got cafes, for one thing. In terms of scale, it's obviously an actual city, complete with all the cool bits and bobs and specialist shops that you'd expect. And it's on a human scale - you can walk from one side to the other without any more problems than a whacking great hill normally presents. Where you don't fancy walking, the buses are reliable and reasonably priced. I'm assured that the council tax is ruinous, but as a visitor that doesn't affect me. Every time I visit Edinburgh I get more and more tempted to move there. Lovely old architecture, reasonably bouyant economy, actual hills around the place (it's funny the things you miss).
One thing that Morgue mentioned to us was that he'd been told that the Scots were really friendly, but that he'd found it a bit less friendly than he was used to back home in NZ. We assured him that it was indeed friendly - when compared to England. I spent much of one day thinking that I was lookin' pretty fine, as several female shop assistants had complimented me on my clothing and tattoos. Then we had a long chat with a bloke in a wine shop, and I realised that it was just that people tend to talk to you a lot more up there. Mind you, one of my German coworkers thinks that people here in Cambridge are massively friendly - when compared to the former East Germany. It's what you're used to, I suppose.
We ended up doing a bit of shopping. Heather got some maternity clothes, I ended up flicking through a couple of bike shops (Bike Fix, the very fine Velo Ecosse, and of course the Edinburgh Bicycle Co-op). It was all most civilised. Heather even bought me a US Postal Service water bottle. Grooved up.
London, in contrast, is ever the same. Big, dirty, and brusque. Still, we hooked up with my sister and spent a very enjoyable day wandering around, so that was nice. The weather really kicked in, beautiful sunshine and balmy temperatures, so we spent the day walking through Hyde Park, Green Park, St James' Park, and then along the South Bank. A lovely day all around. We even got to point at David Blaine and laugh, so it was bang on, really.
The various parks (in London and Edinburgh) were distinguished by the presence of a number of squirrels frantically burying nuts for the winter. Or digging them up - I couldn't quite tell. They were also extremely tame, much more so than our local squirrels. Handfeeding wasn't a problem - at one point, in Edinburgh, a squirrel actually grabbed my fingers to pull my hand closer to him for easier inspection. From our highly unscientific studies, I can confirm that shortbread (ingredients:fat, sugar, flour) is extremely popular with our arboreal rodent friends, while my homemade biscuits (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, oats, golden syrup, flour) are turned down with expressions of disgust. Squirrels love junk food. Who knew?
So we're in a restaurant in South Ken, nice little Italian joint on the drag up towards Notting Hill Gate. When we arrived in said restaurant, we'd asked the proprietar to be seated in the non-smoking section. He confidently replied "No-one smokes down here, sir." Cool. A couple of tables behind us there's a pair of old codgers swigging wine and talking at each other - lots of "Well if you'll let me finish, old boy..." and "Richard's son - you remember old Dickie - he emigrated out there and found it terribly hot...". So far so funny. Then this posh geezer walks in - early forties, blue blazer, Oxford shirt, signet ring, the lot. He gets the table between us and the old codgers, with the proviso that a couple of his mates are going to be turning up. He sits down and produces a pack of cigarettes. The old codgers spot this and ask if it's OK to smoke. "Oh, I'm sure it is," he breezily asserts, giving one of them a light. So I pop over and politely ask them not to smoke, as a) it's the non-smoking area and b) Heather's pregnant and can't stand the smell. The old codgers apologise and try to find somewhere to stub the ciggy out. The younger bloke accepts with bad grace and puts the pack away. I sit down, and overhear the younger bloke louldly commenting to the old codgers about how the "Thought Police" are taking over everywhere. Shortly afterwards, when the manager wandered past, this geezer actually buttonholed the manager to confirm that he couldn't smoke. The manager very nicely confirmed that this was indeed the case - presumably, if he hadn't, this prick would have just lit up despite my pointing out that he was in the non-smoking area and next to a pregnant woman. One of the more inconsiderate twerps we've seen for a bit.
Oh, and if you're around Bayswater and need somewhere to eat, I can heartily recommend Zorbas, on Leinster Road. Whoops, sorry, missed a word there - can heartily recommend avoiding it. Indifferent food, badly overpriced, and the worse service I can recall receiving in the UK (and that's saying something). When my meal arrived, I ordered another beer. Shortly after I'd finished eating my meal, while chatting to my beatiful wife and generally taking my time, the beer arrived. And then they added a 10% service charge to the bill (well, £3.70 on a £30.70 bill - hang on...). Suffice to say that we ended up leaving the exact cost of the actual meal, in cash. Avoid avoid avoid.
left in the lunch 9 september 2003
On the headphones: Playgroup, the eponymous album by Playgroup. It's very... disco... isn't it? Bring It On's a good track, mind (as is Make It Happen, but that's been thrashed a little). The electro-ragga version of 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover has potential.
And the Nine Inch Nails live album, And All That Could Have Been. Title says it all: it's great angstmuzik. Lots of crashing beats, lots of shouting about the unfairness of it all, lots of dwelling on what a terrible place the world is and how nasty everyone is to everyone else, lashings of self-pity, etc. Basically what everyone aged 15-20 should be listening to. Certainly what I was listening to at that age. As I say, it takes me back.
The Nine Inch Nails CD also has the NIN logo (in black) on the spine of the CD. Unfortunately, due to some bad layout, it's been superimposed on the title of the CD (in white). The result is an album that, from a distance, appears to be called AND ALL THAT C),')'.°| BEEN.
I think I need to get some more NZ dub for work. A nice bit of echo reverb.
The fine weather is definitely on the wane. If you leave the house on foot, it's becoming imperative to grab a fleece on the way out the door. I was out on Saturday, and happened to stop past the year's end sales in town and buy a pair of shorts. The shop assistant asked me where I was going. I was a bit bemused. I'm just buying them to wander around Cambridge, man. The look of disbelief on the shop assistant's face was impressive. Clearly not many people buy shorts in the UK in September.
Well, well. The Vuelta de Espana is hotting up. Alessandro Petacchi, riding for Fasso Bartolo, has become the first bloke in 45 years to take stage wins in all three major European tours in the same year. Impressive stuff. I think we're starting to see why Cipo made the desultory effort he did (rode only when forced, abandoned on the second day). Looks like there's a new Italian sprinter in town. I also note that a Kiwi (Julian Dean, riding for CSC/Tiscali) came in fourth on yesterday's sprint finish in Santander. Nice one.
round the gaff 3 september 2003
So that bugger Blunkett is going to introduce tests for prospective British citizens. As a prospective British citizen (when I get around to applying - hey, an EU passport could come in handy), I may end up having to take one of these bloody tests. Or even, heaven forbid, being a part of one of these "citizenship ceremonies" in the local town hall. It's all too ghastly to contemplate.
But, y'know... what would a Britishness aptitude test look like? I've got my guess that it'll look something similar to the following:
Potential aptitude test for British migration.
Please read and answer all the following questions. Select one or more answers as directed.
Section 1: Common phrases
Select the correct meaning of each of the following phrases:
"Would you Adam and Eve it?"
The speaker is asking whether you:
A: Have an apple.
B: Believe their assertion.
C: Would like to participate in naturist activities.
"I'll just have a shufti."
The speaker is going to:
A: Have an alcoholic drink.
B: Take a look at something.
C: Go to the toilet, and may be some time.
"That merchant banker's off to the karzi."
The person in question:
A: Works in finance and is migrating to Africa.
B: Is disagreeable and is going to the toilet.
C: Has an unfortunate hairstyle and is at the barber.
"He's blown the gaff."
The person in question has:
A: Left the house.
B: Experienced engine trouble with their car.
C: Orally copulated with a giraffe.
"It'll take a fortnight."
The action in question will:
A: Cost £50.
B: Occur in two weeks.
C: Require approval by a minor peer of the realm, equal in rank to a demi-Lord.
Section 2: Culture.
Mark the most appropriate answer(s).
It is allowed to pick up the ball when playing football.
Bangers and mash are:
A: Unsafe for children to play with.
B: Lovely with a bit of mustard.
C: A euphemism.
Someone buys you a drink in a pub. Are they likely to expect you to:
A: Engage in sexual congress with them.
B: Buy them a drink.
C: Show them your stiff upper lip.
Which of the following will increase your chances of getting a good job (mark TWO)?
A: An Old Etonian tie.
B: Visible tattoos.
C: An upper class accent.
D: A whippet.
E: A mullet.
It is encouraged to make eye contact with strangers on the tube.
Desserts should be:
A: Cheese and fruit.
B: Boiled and served with custard.
You should cultivate:
A: A stiff upper lip.
B: A stiff lower lip.
Beer is sold in:
A: 275ml bottles.
B: 330ml cans.
A proper beach should have:
A: A wide expanse of sun-drenched sand.
B: Windswept shingle and gravel.
C: Topless sunbathing.
Which of these would NOT be appropriate attire for a hen night in Blackpool (mark TWO)?
A: Vomit stains.
C: Fake tan.
D: A veil.
E: A dinner jacket.
F: A midriff-baring top and miniskirt, both two sizes too small.
G: A cagoule.
Which is the most desirable British holiday destination?
A: A lay-by on the M25.
C: The Costa Del Sol.
Whose round is it?
Tell me that's not what they'd go for. Personally, I reckon they should include a practical test: can you convincingly queue in a supermarket? Tut appropriately when someone jumps the queue? Buy a round in a pub?
round the gaff 2 september 2003
Interesting couple of days. My father and his partner have been in town for the weekend, which has been kind of a head trip for various reasons that I won't go into. I will mention that I've met my little brother, Barnaby, for the first time. He's 19 months old and is well sweet. Also surprisingly portable: it turns out that toddlers quite like being lugged around, provided you make appropriate noises and jiggle them a bit while you do it. Toddlers also quite like marauding around the landscape, and are very curious about inappropriate subjects such as high-speed motorised traffic.
We did a day trip out to Shepreth Wildlife Park while they were here. Barnaby was most appreciative of the variety of wild animals on show. He was particularly taken with the bunnies, who were able to be cuddled. Someone's schedule at the wildlife park must go as follows:
6:30am: Muck out llamas.
7am: Feed capybara.
7:30am: Administer narcotics to rabbits.
I don't know what they gave those bunnies, but my word were they placid. They were quite happy to just sit there while Barnaby patted them, often with more force than I would have considered strictly necessary. Very good-natured wee animals. Even when he attempted to feed them by forcibly inserting a food pellet into their mouths.
The wildlife park was also notable for the job-lot of "Warning! This animal bites!" signs it'd picked up somewhere. Quite literally, the only cage I don't think I saw one of these signs on was the rabbits. Someone being a bit overcautious there. The donkey enclosure - which you could enter and pat the donkeys - was lathered in warning signs that the donkeys could bite, kick, butt, etc. It stopped short of advising that the donkeys were liable to pull a flicknife and remove your kidneys without anesthetic, but I felt this was mainly because they were running out of space on the warning signs.
It was also interesting to note that the prairie dogs had overflowed the boundaries of their enclosure a bit. They were in an area bounded by a fairly impressive chainlink fence, which I assumed extended about 2m under the ground's surface. A short walk beside the fence disabused me of this notion, as there are numerous holes underneath it. They've made a break for it and now have an extensive burrow system which is reputed to include offshoots into some of the locals' gardens. Nature finds a way, eh?
Go go Nicole Cooke! Well done for bringing the World Champion jersey to Wales.
And apparantly Tyler Hamilton has moved from CSC-Tiscali to Phonak. Pity really - I rather fancied the CSC kit.
Driving lessons are still going well. I'm definitely getting there; still haven't killed anyone, and I'm getting to spend more time wellying it around the various local villages. Good fun all around. I've become a bore about road code trivia; I've even started reflexively attempting to brake when I'm in the front passenger seat. Surely a pair of suede-backed driving gloves cannot be far behind?
quality words since last century
it's deliberately lo-fi
And she doesn't have an email address.
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