Friday, December 29, 2006

Everything I Have Read In The Last Year - or started anyway

Well all the books. I haven't included all the backs of cereal packets, bus tickets and road signs I 'must have looked at:
  1. The Day of the Locust - Nathanael West
  2. The Beano - Rony Robinson Cracking little read. Half-way through I seem to remember it having being dramatised on radio 4 (passed over to Merriol if only for the Sheffield connection).
  3. The Gangs of New York - Herbert Asbury (started and quickly abandoned)
  4. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell (because my ex, Linda, hated it and boy is she wrong! I love this. Read it in two sittings.
  5. The End of Eternity - Isaac Asimov. (Not as good as it used to be).
  6. The Clue of the Twisted Candle - Edgar Wallace ( free text on my Palm pilot - abandoned. I find reading on the Palm a bit of a chore and save it for 'last ditch nothing else to read and desperate for something to read' times, but, even then, I found this to be totally unreadable crap.
  7. Sagittarius - Ray Russell (A former Playboy editor who can't write SF, but can do a passable ghostie story though)
  8. Nobody's Perfect - Anthony Lane (Collected New Yorker film reviews)
  9. Last Laugh Mr Moto - John P Marquand (Bizarre!)
  10. Dick Donvan the Glasgow Detective- J E Preston Muddock
  11. The Chase - L M Alcott (an early novel and hilariously awful Harlequin style "romance")
  12. Virtual Light - William Gibson
  13. Today We Choose Faces - Roger Zelazny. Abandoned on page 76(ish) had no idea what was going on, didn't care, and I suspected the author was in the same boat.
  14. In Custody - Anita Desai (hard to believe this boring pointlessness was short-listed for the Booker!)
  15. Red Shift - Alan Garner
  16. A Gift From Earth - Larry Niven. Only one man can save everything because he has unexpected Psionic powers - or something. SF plot 3a. Yawn!
  1. Surfacing- Margaret Atwood. Pub. Virago books 1972. Says it all really; standard Virago stuff of the period: all men are oppressive, brutish, casual rapists unable to articulate their emotions. All women are cyclical earth creatures who, if given a chance, become one with Nature and "sense" things. As a man I almost fell for this thesis during the Feminist Revolution (hah!) but it looks very crude today. First Margaret Atwood book I have not enjoyed.
  2. Infernal Devices - Phillip Reeve (because it has been sitting unread since I bought it the day it was published - and the next in the series is out tomorrow!) Cracking, rip-roaring, blood and thunder ripping yarn. Loved it!
  3. The Mammoth Book of Best New Science Fiction 12- Science Fiction for Mammoths? this has got to be good! It's an occasional pick up and read a couple more short stories between real books thing. Blessed with insanely clumsy title.
  4. The Destiny Man - Peter Van Greenaway, abandoned half way through.
  5. The Innocence of Father Brown- G K Chesterton (unfinished).
  6. Them - Jon Ronson
  7. Cosm - Gregory Benford (SF with graphs - but no story)
  8. The Invisible Man - H G Wells (I couldn't find another book with a 4 letter title in my TBR pile)
  9. Thinks... - David Lodge (Just how many humorous novels about sexual peccadilloes in a provincial English University life are there? Though this one was more thought provoking than most.)
  10. Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture - Apostolos Doxiadis
  11. The Einstein Intersection - Sam R Delany (the second book in a row - it was central to the Uncle Petros book - to mention Godel's proof that in any mathematical system there are propositions that cannot be proved or disproved within the axioms of the system - what are the chances of that eh?)
  12. The Strange Death of Lord Castlereagh - H Montgomery Hyde
  13. Hippopotomus - Stephen Fry (Unfinished)
  14. The Tonto Woman and Other Western Stories - Elmore Leonard
  15. The Gold at Starbows End- Frederick Pohl (...and guess what! Yet another mention of Godel's Proof. What the hell is going on here?
April and May
  1. Sentenced to Prism - Alan Dean Foster (total crap but all that my brain can handle at the moment. A self-hypnosis aid.)
  2. May Contain Nuts - John O'Farrell
  3. Lamb - Bernard MacLaverty (almost Wonderful but for the suddenness of the ending.)
  4. Limbo Lodge - Joan Aiken (I'm sure she writes Dido Twite books in her sleep these days.)
  5. Flushed With Pride: The Story of Thomas Crapper - Wallace Reyburn.
  6. His Master's Voice - Stanislaw Lem. Abandoned (and yet another mention of Godel)
  7. Starswarm - Brian Aldiss (Godel Free SF!)
  8. THE HEART OF THE MATTER - - Graham Greene
  9. Heritage of the Lizard People - Clark Darlton (Perry Rhodan 113 and utter scheiße) Interestingly my spell checker doesn't like the word " scheiße" and wants to substitute "Nietzsche" instead! OK it wasn't interesting
  10. Death's Demand - Kurt Mahr (Perry Rhodan 114 and even more utterly uberscheißeisch than the last one - at last something that make E E 'Doc' Smith's Lensman Series look like literature! Why am I reading it? Good question)
  11. Baggage - Emily Barr (abandoned at about pg 140 when I realised nothing else was going to happen except people were going to talk at each other a lot about nothing in particular and the annoying tense changes - each chapter starting in the 1st person singular present before shifting to the past tense and then back again to the present just before the end of the chapter - got totally on my tits.
  12. The Best From New Writings in SF - Ed. John Carnell.
  13. Tank Girl Vols 1&2 - Hewlett/Martin. Brain dead, mindless, very funny, very violent comic books about a kangaroo snogging psychopath in huge boots - and yes, I'm sure I moved my lips when I was reading them.
  1. Wilderness Tips - Margaret Atwood
  2. The Day The Martians Came- Frederik Pohl
  3. Enduring Love - Ian McEwan
  4. New Worlds 4 - Ed. David Garnett. Awful Wrightonian pointless stories of sex, violence, and violent sex (but not sexy violence). The low point of which was a story call The Last Phallic Symbol by Elizabeth Sourbut in which ALL penises, human and otherwise, turn out to be an alien life form which grafted themselves onto humans a couple of million years ago. As Earth is about to launch its first star ship all the penises in the world jump off their hosts and run off giggling and try and get on board the ship so they can return to the stars (stopping only to attack the odd stray cat on the way). Only a plucky bunch of lesbians armed with cricket bats and pointed sticks stand in their way. It it hadn't been so painfully earnest this weirdly Kilgore Trout like idea might have been hilarious. The author now reviews SF forThe New Scientist Magazine. Gawd help them.
  5. A Pale View of Hills - Kazuo Ishiguro (Abandoned)
  6. The Season of Mists - Neil Gaiman et al (OK, OK, it's a comic. I admit it!)
  7. Watching Trees Grow / Tendeleo's Story - Peter F Hamilton, Ian McDonald.
  1. Revolt in Proxima C - Robert Silverberg
  2. Star Trek 1 - James Blish (Dammit Jim, I'm on holiday!)
  3. Everything You Know - Zoe Heller
  4. Fingersmith - Sarah Waters. Cracking read! Makes me want to read Wilkie Collins again. I'm so annoyed that this has been on my TBR pile for so long!
  5. In Praise of Slow - Carl Honore
  6. Arthur & George - Julian Barnes
  7. Take Off! - A rarity, genuinely funny 'humorous' SF, which was worth it for the E E 'Doc' Smith spoof, Backstage Lensman, alone.
  8. Nine Hundred Grandmothers - R A Lafferty. More humorously odd SF short stories, including one in which a group of scientists search for something known not to exist by a close study of the absence of evidence for it.
  1. Further Rivals of Sherlock Holmes - Ed. Hugh Greene
  2. The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch - P K Dick
  3. The Incompleat Enchanter - De Camp & Pratt
  4. No Bed For Bacon - Caryl Brahms & S J Simon
  5. The Glass Key - Dashiell Hammett
  6. The Cometeers - Jack Williamson. One of the 'classic' Legion of Space series. 'Classic' in the sense of 1950s excruciatingly overwritten, over-padded guff about militaristic interstellar might being right. Weird subtexts; if I'm reading this aright, our hero was gang raped at the age of 12 by the villain and his cronies and has an almost incestuously close relationship with his mother. Not the sort of thing you normally find in 1950s pulp SF. Edit: It didn't get any better, fantastic coincidence piled upon fantastic coincidence, a space navy that keeps running out of fuel, and a lantern-jawed hero who burst into tears with monotonous regularity before he finally wins the respect of his father (and saves the Solar System) by obliterating an entire alien race with the push of a button. Also had one of those annoying semi-comic characters who talked about themselves in the third person. JunkMonkey hates that so much. He does.
  7. Things Snowball - Rich Hall. Bit of a ragbag of stories articles and half worked out ideas but it did contain the funniest index I have read since Joe Queenan's brilliant If You Are Talking to Me your Career Must be in Trouble.
  8. The Child That Books Built - Francis Spufford (Abandoned - well hardly started really and someone else wanted to read it.)
  9. How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered The World - Francis Wheen
  1. How to Lie with Statistics - Darrell Huff
  2. Ten Plus One - Ed McBain - an 87th precinct novel. Doubt if I will ever bother again.
  3. A Short History of Tractors in The Ukranian - Marina Lewycka (I gived up upon on page 119)
  4. The Script of the Play That I Should Have Been Learning For the Past Two Weeks - but kept putting off and now I'm in rehearsal and floundering.
  5. Legends From The End Of Time - Michael Moorcock
  6. The Road to McCarthy - Pete McCarthy. It seems to make sense reading travel books when I'm touring. I can easily identify with the feelings of "where the hell am I now?" when I wake up in the morning followed the crushing disappointment of realising - I'm still in Wick.
  7. The Space Mavericks - Michael Kring. Godawful SF. Worst thing I have read since the Perry Rhodans. A sample sentence from page 102 describing an alien city:
    There were soft arcs and soft lines, and none of the phallic boxes shooting from the sky that most primitive cultures seem to think necessary to prove themselves.
    Wha...???? Towards the end of the book our hero and a bunch of rentagoons attack a gaol which 'sprawled over an acre of ground.' That's 4840 square yards. About 69 yards (207 feet) on each side. Total crap.
  1. The Father of Frankenstein - Christopher Bram
  2. The Art Fair - David Lipsky
  3. Enterprise Stardust - Scheer & Mahr. The first Perry Rhodan book. A goldmine of bad writing. Chock full of sentences like
    "A sarcastic smile dangled from his lips."
    "Perry drew up his eyebrows."
    I haven't laughed so much in ages.
  4. The Radiant Dome - Scheer & Mahr. Perry Rhodan 2. OK, I'm a masochist but the sheer joy of the combination of bad writing overlaid with a thick treacling of bad translation is so delicious. Any half competent writer could tell this sort of story with their eyes shut but it takes extraordinary intellectual and creative power to come up with stuff like:
    Her spaceship is unable to start. Her degenerate crew is unable to repair the damage.They simply neglected to take along the spare parts because of criminal frivolity.
    Klein was observing Mercant while he spoke to the assembly. There was no hint in Mercant's eyes of what was going on behind his forehead. And yet it seemed to Klein he could sense a challenging irony hidden in the LLA Chief's words.
    This is genius stuff. It would be dead pure criminal frivolity to ignore it.
  5. Withnail and I (Screenplay) - for years after having abandoned watching this film I have wondered why and how it got the cult status it did. I remember thinking it was crap. I strongly suspect I was very wrong. The screenplay is brilliant.
  6. Larklight - Phillip Reeve. A delight. Pure page turning nonsense.
  7. With Nails - Richard E Grant's diaries. I have this overwhelming desire to see Hudson Hawk. Interesting to start with, inasmuch as it was nice to read that he too suffers from the same "I-can't-act-and-what-makes-me-think-I-can-and-everyone-will-find-out" TERROR as I do, but it got terribly name-droppy by the end.
  8. The People Vs Larry Flynt - The shooting Script- I picked it up. I opened it. I read in the intro:
    'The executives were giddily jumping up and down - "It's a Capra movie with porn!"'
    I had to buy it. I now want to read Hustler magazine - for the articles of course.
  9. The Secret of Platform 13 - Eva Ibbotson
  10. Amsterdam - Ian McEwan
  11. Wilson - David Mamet. this has to be the funniest thing I have read for years. I didn't understand a sodding word but I laughed like a drain.
  12. Notes on a Scandal - Zoe Heller. Thoroughly enjoyed this. if that is the right word; I was convinced, let's put it that way - though I stopped dead for a moment when the narrator, a pedantic teacher who at one point corrects the headmaster's grammar mid bollocking, uses the ugly, and very modern, tautology 'Hallowe'en night'.
  13. The Chronicles of Clovis - Saki. Deliciously nasty.
  14. Broderie Anglais - Violet Trefusis.
  15. To The Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf (Abandoned). Stuck in a B&B in a strange town with nothing to do, and warmed up by the Saki stories and the Bloomsberry Settish, Violet Refusis book I had just read, I though it was about time I tackled one of the Great Books of the Twentieth Century. Two hours later - and only 18 pages in - I gave up. I found it impenetrable.
  16. Legs- William Kennedy
  1. Excessions - Iain M Banks First of the Culture books I haven't thoroughly enjoyed. It felt very padded. The backstory to plot ratio was very... wrong. Every character, including those destined to die before the end of the chapter in which they were introduced, had to have a whole detailed history.
  2. Jungle of Stars - Jack L Chalker. Turgid SF pulp (the indestructible hero is called Paul Savage, that should give you the flavour) enlivened only by some moments of unintentional humour like this speech from a hard-boiled bureau chief to an underling:
    Enough of that, though. I have more serious work here - a bum situation. It smells, and I need help.
    puerile I know but it made me laugh.
  3. The Final Confession of Mabel Stark - Robert Hough. The fictionalised autobiography of a once famous female Big Cat tamer. The editors of this book need shooting. A spelling mistake on page one, numerous possible anachronisms including 'plastic roses' in 1928 and a strangely anticlimactic ending to what should have been a ripper of a book. Why he didn't write a straightforward biography puzzles me.
  4. The Cave Girl - Edgar Rice Burroughs. Even by ERB's notoriously low standards this was pretty dire.
  5. E=mc2 - David Bodans. Abandoned half way through. A pity because I have been looking forward to reading this for a bit. It got great reviews It turned out to be so dumbed down and stuffed full of meaningless analogies and imagery. Like this one for instance from a chapter exploring the potential energy contained in mass:
    A single page of this book,weighing only a few grams, seems be just an innocuous, stable mix of cellulose fibres and ink. But if that ink and cellulose could ever be shifted into the form of pure energy there would be a roaring eruption, greater than that of a large power station exploding.
    What the hell does that mean? Define large Power Station. What kind of Power Station? What kind of explosion? It's meaningless. I also disliked the breathy, "but what did this mean?, How did this relate to X,Y, or Z? The answer lay in the most unexpected place..." endings of chapters. It's a Discovery Channel way of trying to hold onto the audience before the commercial break. If this Trishing up is the best a 'gifted practitioner of popular science' (Independent) can do, I am in despair.
  1. New Worlds 4 -
  2. New Worlds 4 - That's not a typo. New Worlds is an SF magazine that has undergone several reincarnations. Sometimes the numbering continued from where the last incarnation left off, other times (at least twice) the clock was set back to zero. This is the third edition of New Worlds numbered 4 I have read this year (see June above). The stories in these two, published in 1972 and 1949 -I read them in reverse chronological order, were better than the drek I read in June and varied from the quaintly naive in 1949 (one author is so ignorant of the basic laws of physics that a stranded ship is able to escape an alien world because of its low escape velocity. Apparently the planet was spinning very fast and centrifugal force helped) to the archly self-consciously literary in 1972. Either way both of them were much more satisfying reads than the last incarnation with its escaping penises and gay characters disappearing up their own anus while doing sex in hyperspace.
  3. Starman Jones - Robert Heinlein.
  4. Ladies of Grace Adieu - Susanna Clarke. A disappointment. But then again, after Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, anything would be, and to her credit she neatly side-stepped the Second Novel Problem by publishing a collection of short stories. Many of them related to or set in the same universe as the first book but somehow if left me dissatisfied. The stories were okay but they didn't have that unpudownability that I was hoping for. The novel was an obsessive read for me an accidental find in a charity shop, the stories I could take or leave after buying the book new, a rare and special treat for me.
  5. The Unholy City - Charles G Finney. A wonderful book I reread every couple of years.
  6. Zorro - Isabel Allende (as yet unfinished)
  7. The Complete Robot - Isaac Asimov (ditto)

Every Movie I have Watched This Year

As an exercise in futility here's every movie I watched in 2006. - Boy do I watch a load of shit.

  1. The Final Curtain
  2. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
  3. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
  4. Underworld
  5. Don Juan De Marco
  6. Schweigende Stern, Der
  7. Career Girls
  8. Night of the Blood Beast (MST3000 version)
  9. L'Appartement
  1. Dark Star - One of THE best low budget SF films.
  2. Hercules Against The Moon Men - Italian muscleman Sword and Sorcery epics. Just the sort of thing you need when you are too tired to think - and don't want to, even by accident
  3. Markens grøde - Norwegian silent movie with live orchestral accompaniment. Lovely way to spend a wet Sunday afternoon in Fort William (and I get to pop the cherry of another movie on Wahaay!)
  4. Thunderbirds are GO! - erm... Merriole bought it for me.
  5. Rebecca - The perfect Sunday afternoon ... (moved to Wednesday night because the kids got in the way.)
  6. The Pillow Book - Ewan McGregor is no better an actor naked than when he has his clothes on but I sat there entranced for 2 hours as people painted Japanese poems on each other and did other totaly arty Peter Greenaway stuff for no apparent reason.
  7. Laserblast - Mystery Science Theatre 3000 went out with a goody with this one. Awful! Awful! Awful!
  1. Abraxis, Guardian of the Universe - almost as bad as the title suggests. One IMDB review recommends it only to "the most disciplined bad movie watcher". That's me, folks.
  2. Pieces of April - Nearly gave up on it after the first 10 minutes but persevered because I like Oliver Platt's acting. By the end I was in tears.
  1. Red Zone Cuba - MST3K version
  2. The Wild World of Batwoman - MST3K version ("END! END! END!")
  3. Attack of the Giant Leeches - MST3K version
  4. Manos Hands of Fate - MST3K
  5. Missile to the Moon -
  6. Earth Vs The Flying Saucers - Big budget crap 50s SF, so not as much fun as low/no budget crap SF movies of the period
  7. Planet Outlaws - Which made even less sense the second time I watched it.
  8. Boggy Creek 2- MST3K
  9. Teenagers From Outer Space - MST3K (though, for my sins, I have seen it straight.)
  10. Gunslinger - MST3K (and it's only the 9th of April today!)
  11. Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders - Some people should have to apply for a licence to make movies. MST3K
  12. Shoot or Be Shot - Lo No Budget movie starring Larry (Clash of the Titans) Hamlin and William Shatner. How could I resist?
  13. Mitchell - A Jo Don Baker movie to be avoided at all costs (oxymoron! oxymoron!) MST3K
  1. La Fille de D'Artangan - A great swashbuckling romp! My four stars may be overdoing it a bit as it's the first movie I have seen for ages that hasn't involved robots in some form or other but great fun all the same.
  2. Eegah! - again! This time with the MST3K bots!
  3. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians - That's it. No more trash. I have got to the bottom of the barrel and licked it clean. I'm cured. I'll finally get round to watching Rashomon, La Strada and The Seven Samuri next. Honest!
  1. It Came From Outer Space 2 - I am ashamed. I have no will power. Just when I thought I had this thing beaten Channel 5 tempted me with this piece of shit. I'm an addict.
  2. Adaptation- Did it! Pity the movie wasn't better. this has been on my TBW pile for so long and I've really been looking forward to it.
  1. Jump Cut (Another fucking awful no-budget movie about no-budget movie making. Probably the worst of its kind - and that is saying something.)
  2. Tony Takitani - (I got to see a grown-up movie in a cinema!)
  3. Di Que Si - Unfunnily, unromantic (but Spanish) RomCom remarkable only for the lead actress' extraordinary tongue exercises in one scene.
  4. Powers of Evil - which turned out to be two thirds of Histoires Extraordinaires, a 1968 portmanteau film based on Edgar Allan Poe stories and directed by Fellini Vadim and - well, the bits I got were directed by Fellini and Vadim, the third section, directed by Louise Malle, was edited out of this version. On the plus side it did have, an all too brief, shot of Jane Fonda in a bath being naughty with another woman, which, if truth be told, is the sort of thing I was hoping for when I bought it...
  5. Bartlelby - strange, slow, creepy, funny beautiful film based on a Melville short story.
  6. Star Wreck In The Pirkinning - The ultimate (so far) piece of fan fiction. A 90+ minute SF movie, downloadable from here, which pits the Star Trek universe against the Babylon 5. Given my fondness for the latter and loathing of nearly all things former, the sort of thing that should be just up my street. As it was, it was surprisingly watchable. The SFX were stunning for a lo/no budget film and there were some genuinely funny gags in it, but the story and script were, for the most part, atrocious. The first movie I have ever seen with left justified subtitles. Made in Finland.
  7. The Sender - I must stop buying 97p DVDs from Tescos, I must stop buying 97p DVDs from Tesco's, I must stop buying 97p DVDs from Tesco's...
  8. The Stranger - ...but paying £1 for them in Poundland is obviously worth it.
  1. Return of the Killer Tomatoes - and yes, I am ashamed. (It was funny!)
  2. The Silent Partner - Long forgotten, not bad, bank heist thriller with Elliot Gould and Christopher Plummer.
  3. A Touch of Class - Glenda Jackson and George Segal. Not as good as I remembered it being 20 years ago, but still fun.
  4. Love and Death - Woody Allen. Over the years I have slowly and sadly lost any enjoyment I ever found in Woody Allen's films. Were they ever really that funny or did people just pretend they were? The low point of this one for me was the joke about the old priest saying the best thing about life was 12 year old blonde girls - "prefererably two at a time". Oh dear.
  5. Shadowchaser: The Gates of Time - Total "SF" shit
  6. Interruptions - Zero budget unfunny home movie with pretensions.
  7. Rollercoaster - Mad bomber on a roller-coaster. Beats Snakes on a Plane as a concept hands down - having said that I haven't seen Snakes on a Plane but my initial thought was. Snakes on the plane? Snakes are reptiles. Lower the cabin temperature and all the snakes will just go to sleep. End of movie. Goodnight.
  8. Zelig - Another Woody Allen movie and I liked it! Never seen it before and I thought it was delightful. Aha! I think, maybe I was wrong about WA! (see Love and Death above) so I started to watch Stardust Memories which was on the same tape immediately afterwards - and turned it off after 15 minutes. What a load of self indulgent tosh! No. I can't stand the man. He can write; he can direct but there is something creepily narcissistic about him on screen. He was hardly in Zelig, and even then mostly in long shot and not speaking. I will look and see if he has written/directed but not appeared in anything else and test my theory.
  9. The Owl and the Pussycat - I seem to have this 1970s George Segal groove going on in the movie watching at the moment. Whatever happened to George Segal?
  10. The Changeling - Genuinely creepy Haunted House movie that starts out badly, gets better, and is just working up a good head of creepy steam when it looses the plot (by having to have one), then gets silly.
  11. The Incredibles - Great Fun!
  12. The Touch of Satan - The last unwatched MST3K Phoebe and Tyler bought over in the summer. What a bad film. Took me two nights to watch it as I kept falling asleep.
  13. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country - Which kept my eyes (but not my brain) busy as I ate a litre of ice cream and deeply deepened my loathing of all things Trekky.
  1. Spiders - 99p from Tesco's. Giant, semi-alien, homophageous spiders. Plucky Girl Reporter. Evil government agents. Total crap. (Except for the bit where the cute PGR fell into a convenient and unexplained vat of water with very few clothes on and got very wet, that was mildly interesting for a few moments.)
  2. Solaris - The American version. Why, with so many almost good, or nearly good movies crying out to be remade and done properly, does Hollywood keep on remaking classic masterpieces that don't need fiddling with? (Note to self: Stop asking yourself that; it's the money dimwit, it's always about the money.) This wasn't as bad as I was expecting.
  3. The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse - I remembered Film 4 was now free! No Legs Akimbo in the movie; I am bereft!
  4. Bellville Rendez-Vous - Great film. Came with a free newspaper! (which I didn't read).
  5. I don't normally include part watched films but, because I'm sodding off on tour for a while, and because no one reads this anyway, I just wanted to put on record that I, in total brain-dead, trash-candy mode, gave up on Maniac Nurses Find Ecstasy after about 10 minutes. There is some hope for me.
  6. The Road to Wellville - Not as funny as I remember it being.
  7. Catwoman - Even worse than I had been lead to believe.
  1. Uchûjin Tokyo ni arawaru (or Spacepeople Appear in Tokyo to give it its informal literal English title) - To make a change from the crap German SF I am reading at the moment I thought I would see what the other former WW2 Axis power could throw at me in the way of bad SF. Giant Klu-Klux-Klan starfish from Earth's twin counterworld warning us about a rogue planet "from another galaxy" on a collision course.
  2. Berlin Express - a not very good Jacques Tourneur movie I bumped into on the FTA Movies4Men channel. I will watch anything Tourneur directed at least once. Anyone who made Cat People and The Comedy of Terrors and Night of the Demon has to be worth a look. (Too many links, Mr JunkMonkey) Groovy! Movies4Men is showing Hell Squad tomorrow. It isn't directed by Tourneur but looks awful:
    "In order to rescue the son of a diplomat who has been kidnapped by terrorists, a group of Las Vegas showgirls undergo commando training and organize a rescue operation. 1987."
    Looks awful! I must run a tape under it! (Later: Merriol cocked up taping it, so I'll have to wait till next time it's on. Bugger.)
  3. King of Kong Island - If you're looking for a zero budget Italian movie about a mad scientist planning to take over the world with radio-controlled gorillas but who is foiled by a hunk who can't act (or dance) while the camera pans, and zooms in on stationary objects, almost at random. Then this is the movie for you. No King No Kong and set on the mainland. My brain hurts.
  4. Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome - 1947 B feature with Boris Karlof. I love Karloff movies; he's such a ham. No matter how many movies he made, and he was still acting up until 1972, he's still basically doing the same silent movie acting he was in 1919). And no matter how evil, or what nationality his character is supposed to be, he still can't get rid of the underlying fact that he's an English gentleman at heart.
  5. Blood Tide - Which, I suspect, was only made to prove the waiting world that Greece could make really bad international cast 'horror' movies too. Though the sight of James Earl Jones delivering lines from Othello while wearing a snorkel was a moment of genius. The only decent shot in the movie was nicked from the utterly weird Carnival of Souls.
  6. From Russia With Love - It was on the telly. I was knackered.
  1. Cast Away - The bits with Tom Hanks on the Island were OK but Dear God! the third act! what a tedious drawn out piece of shit!
  2. Green For Danger - I just love Alistair Sim. I could watch him reading the phone book - to himself.
  3. The Lavender Hill Mob - amazingly, the first time I have ever seen it.
  4. School For Scoundrels - Alisair Sim wonderfully stealing an otherwise mediocre British 'comedy'.
  5. Amateur - Dir. Hal Hartley. Never seen any of his films before this. I think I may turn into a fan very quickly.
  6. The Jerk - sorry but it is funny.
  7. Le Bossu - Swashbuckling nonsense with subtitles, dashing dukes, scheming villains, beautiful heiresses in mortal danger. Dumas with knobs on. Great fun.
  8. M*A*S*H - R.I.P. Robert Altman. You were one of the greats.
  9. Total Reality - mind-numbing SF trash (it cost me 12.5p in a car boot sale - I bought 4 movies for 50p - and I feel ripped off.)
  10. The Last Patrol - A Dolf Lundgren, post-apocalyptic Mad Max influenced Israeli American B-movie which turned out to be almost quite good and not at all what I was expecting.
  11. Undercover Brother - a sort of black Austin Powers - but funny.
  12. Revelation - my first encounter with a new source of bad movie hysteria. The Right-Wing Christian Millennial SF/Horror movie...
  1. The Astral Factor - Dear god! Masochistic Gold Stars all round for getting the end of this one.
  2. Galaxy Invader - More MG stars! Jeeso! One of the joys of watching drek like this, is the undiscovered weirnesses lurking in the credits. This lo/no budget piece of shit, for instance, had opening title credits for a "Meteor Effect" that were on screen for longer than the meteor effect itself. It also had an end title credit that read "Hat by Don Zeifert". Hat singular. Now as the only person in the film who was wearing a hat was played by an actor called Don Zeifert, we possibly have here the only instance of someone getting a title credit for wearing his own hat in a movie. Movie history. I feel somewhat privileged to have seen it.
  3. The Snow Creature - Nothing to recommend it apart from it's being only 71 minutes long and a stunning attempt at not actually appearing in the film from one of the leads.
  4. Maybe Baby - This would have quickly become one of my movies "abandoned for various reasons, but mostly because they stink" but for the fact Merriol appeared to be enjoying it and I wanted sex.
  5. Lost Jungle - watched only because it starred someone who appeared as a character in book I read recently.
  6. Toto le héros - Like most films I really enjoy I have very little to say about it. I always find plenty to say about total crap but when the thing sweeps me off my feet I don't have time, or the inclination, to be analytical. I just want to savour the experience. Next time...
  7. Project Shadowchaser III - trash Alien clone. The 100th review I have written for the IMDb. I think I now get let in on the secret handshake and a key to the executive wash room.
  8. Def Con 4 - much better than I was expecting (especially after seeing New World's logo appear in the titles).
  9. Moon 44 - Total shit.
Abandoned for various reasons, but mostly because they stink: Maniac Nurses Find Ecstasy, Team America, She's The One,

Running total 91

Linked titles, in bold, are pointers to my reviews/comments
on Unlinked, I didn't have anything worth adding to what was already there.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Welcome to Turkey Disguising Week

All over the English speaking world family home-makers are racking their brains to find new and interesting ways of sliding the remains of the vastly over sized turkey they cooked two days ago under the noses of their loved ones without said loved ones throwing it in their faces.

It's hard.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Few Bits and Pieces:

Shopping today in Oban, I came across this totally resistible offer in Lidl:

Mmmmmmmm Fat Balls.

Holly is not well. For the second Christmas in a row. She has the current bug that is doing the rounds of all the kids in the area. She's sleepy, tired and achy and has a sore throat, no appetite. Daisy on the other hand is a fully wound-up clockwork dynamo on steroids and keeping her occupied and out of the way while Holly sleeps is fun. With luck Holly will be over the worst of this by Monday but may end up eating her Christmas dinner snuggled up on a beanbag in the living room while the rest of us sit down at the big kitchen table.

A former neighbour died the other day. Tylie and his wife Betty moved to another house in the village a couple of years ago and we saw them less often than we used to but, as is the way of these things, my Mum and Dad had been round to see them the night before and I bumped into Betty on the way back from the Post Office in the morning. She was on her way back from the doctors and told me he was "still in bed" with a hangover, Tylie was 'fond of a drink' as they say around here. He was probably already dead when she was talking to me. Merriol phoned me with the news about lunchtime.

I've had this going around in my head all evening:

Away in manger,
No crib for a bed,
the little Lord Jesus,
Gold plate on his head,
And Joseph has got one,
And Mary has too,
Don't know if they grew there,
Or were stuck on with glue

This is why I'm never going to Heaven

If I don't get a chance to get back here before Monday a Merry Christmas to one and all, and, if you are one of those people who believes and prays, you might put in word for Tylie; he was all right.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

This Is My Slug, It Has A Broken Leg

We have a robin which lives in our garden, over the past few weeks it has been getting tamer and tamer and if you are quiet it will come within 30cm or so (6"). It's been sticking its head into the hall, presumably it's pecking up bits spilled from the duck food food we keep there. Today I came in from emptying the garbage to find it sitting on the kitchen table. (Though it had moved by the time I got the camera out.)

Daisy and I had great fun manoeuvring it out of the front door. She makes a good sheepdog (robindog?) does Daisy.

Otherwise today was very uneventful, which in itself is no bad thing. Holly went to her nursery Christmas party, we all three had lunch with Merriol, Mike and Morag (and their two boys whose names don't start with M) at the TIC, came home cooked, tidied up a bit, cooked a bit bathed the kids and read them stories, tidied up some more and now I'm off to bed.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I thought I was going mad the other day. I finally started hearing voices. Weird little voices just on the limits of my perception. If I kept really still I could just hear them and I couldn't work out where they were coming from. There was this conversation going on just outside my hearing and after a while it started to get really distracting.; I wandered round the house looking for their source but couldn't find them anywhere. I checked everything. All the radios were off neither of the televisions were on, none of the kids toys make that kind of noise, no talking books on the CD player, phones were on the hooks, computers were muted... Wherever I went in the house the voices followed me and never seemed to get any louder. I thought it might be someone out on the street. I wandered outside and couldn't see anyone.I was just starting to believe that I was truly going mad when I realised my phone's MP3 player, on my belt was switched on and playing an old Science Fiction radio play I had downloaded on the lowest possible volume through its tiny inbuilt speaker.
Instant sanity.

Holly's School concert yesterday. As usual leaving everything to the last minute we ended up there just on time but with a camcorder with a flat battery and loaded with a tape which I hoped had nothing too important on it. Daisy and Mum settled themselves in seats and I wandered up to the back of the hall where the School Christmas tree was resplendent with TWO sets of lights. I traced the cables to the plugs and after a surreptitious fiddle with the switches decided which of the sets was least likely to be missed, unplugged it and ran the Camcorder off the socket.

Holly was beautiful (but you would expect me to say that wouldn't you) the best Gaelic Christmas Angel ever and I have the footage to prove it.

Monday, December 18, 2006


Please tell me it's not just my kids who do this sort of thing.

My Brain Is Invisible; That's Why I Sometimes Leave It Behind

Merriol found her Christmas pressy today.

This not a bad thing.

It is a good thing.

You see, I bought Merriol's present when we were in Glasgow last month. Repulsed at the door of Lush by the eye-watering anti-bloke punge they pump out to keep the husbands and boyfriends at bay while they sell expensive soaps to hypnotised women (I guess I'm much more heterosexual than I thought) I rushed over the Buchanan Street to the safety of Borders, (at least their stock doesn't attack your sinuses).
Wandering around in hypnotised bibliojunkie bloke mode I found THE PRESENT!; the thing I needed to buy for Merriol for Christmas, but hadn't realised existed until I saw it there on the shelf. I grabbed it and hurried to the checkout, and got a phone call from Merriol who was now in Borders with a huge bagful of girly punge stuffs and looking for me. I told her I was invisible and not to try and find me, bought THE PRESENT!, had it wrapped at the handy "We Know It's Christmas Soon And You May Have To Smuggle This Past Your Insert Loved One Here" wrapping station, and went to find Merriol before she got to the Paperchase section of the store and went into spending mode again.

Two days later, back home, I realised I had absolutely no idea where the THE PRESENT! was. Tonight, the mystery was solved; it turned out that Merriol had planked it in one of our cupboards with all the other stuff we smuggled (unwrapped) into the house past the kids. Luckily she recognised it as the missing PRESENT! and didn't try to open it.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

We got heat!

We came home from visiting Julia and Emma in Aviemore (John is up a mountain in Italy) this evening to find a warm house. The boiler isn't fixed totally but it is going. Apparently they stopped making spares for our type of boiler about thirteen minutes after we bought ours, so the nearest possible motor was found as a replacement. Unfortunately it doesn't quite fit the pump it is supposed to be driving so more phoning to seek advice from manufacturers is being done next week but, until then, it should go. If it does stop I'm to phone the plumber (who rejoices in the nickname of 'Tiger' and whose greatest claim to fame is that he was a policeman in Monty Python and the Holy Grail ) and he will come around and tell us exactly where to hit the thing to make it work again.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Phoebe, over on her blog the other day, mentioned the kids in the house she is living with at the moment threatening one another with a "licking".
Little sister threatening big tormenting sister: "Don't make me lick you, Catherine!!!"
Today, Holly told Daisy off in the back of the car with the words:
"Stop being rude to me or I will lick you down to your toes.
Now I'm not quite sure what Catherine was being threatened with, if I remember my Tom Sawer, 'lick' in the US can mean to get the better of; defeat: licked her weight problem (thank you, but when Holly threatens to lick you - you get licked, great, slathery, wet tongue licks. It's like being attacked by a swarm of huge warm slugs.

The Plumbers returned today bearing expensive parts which were tried one by one - and then in all possible combinations.

Nothing worked.

So Roddy is off to Glasgow tomorrow to get us a new motor, the only working part of the boiler not yet dismantled, driven around the country for a few hours, and put back. The house smells of diesel again - apart from the kitchen which smells of diesel and polyurethane from the shelves which still haven't dried.

I'm going to bed with a tub of ice cream and may not emerge until April or May when it starts to get a bit warmer...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

How Many Best Friends Have I got?

Bedtime tonight:


I love you Holly, more than anything in the world.

Even more than chocolate?

Even more than chocolate.

Even more than ice-cream?

Yes Holly, I love you even more than ice-cream

How about chocolate ice-cream?

Okay, time for bed.

She almost had me!

The Central Heating - or lack of - Saga part whatever: the component for the central heating is not being posted to us now, the earliest the manufacturers could promise to get it here was "some time in the New Year", instead the plumbers have located the relevant bit in Inverness, so one of them, Roddy, is driving 180 odd miles tomorrow to pick it up. This is going to cost us a fortune!) Over the last week or so - in an attempt to keep warm I have been clearing out the workshop and making some space in there. Last night I got to do some house improving stuff for the first time in months, putting up some shelves in the kitchen. I bought the wood on Wednesday and the shelves are now finished, varnished and drying. The shortest turn around time for a job in this house for years!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Plumbers came and dismantled the boiler, the plumbers went - taking bits of the boiler with them. The plumbers came back and remantled the boiler, then dismantled it again and went went away with different parts. A new part is on order. It will arrive some time in the future. The boiler is in pieces. The house is cold. The house smells of diesel. I am disgruntled. I am going to bed.

I am not going to bed.

I just managed to post this on Merriol's Blog. I'll have to sneak in and delete it before she notices...


"I Dropped Myself!" - Daisy On Falling Over

So what the fuck went wrong last time!!!!

Sorry for that. i just spent ages typing a long entry on the new pooter, which arrived this afternoon only to get a humongous error message (even on a 17" screen it would have been big) and then the thing vanished taking all my hand-crafted witterings with it.

A test with the same settings went through okay.


In Short: It's freezing. The central heating boiler has died but we do have the new shiny pooter to keep us occupied as we freeze to death. After only three hours the pooter is starting to feel like our machine. By which I mean I've ripped all the soft cuddly warm rounded corners, and fuzzy stuff off every display option I can find, Merriol has started filling it up with pictures of the kids, and there is a web cam sellotaped to the top of the casing.

Just like old times.

Test of new pooter settings

powered by performancing firefox

Friday, December 08, 2006

Experimental Domestic Science

(Number 37)

Yesterday I decided we were going to have baked potatoes for tea.
We have a big bag of potatoes in the kitchen.
They are unwashed.
I hate washing potatoes.
We have a dishwasher...
(you can see where this is going can't you?)

It didn't work. Either I need cleaner potatoes to start with or a bigger dishwasher.

Hard day with the kids today. Nothing terrible, no tantrums, no screaming matches, just a long day. There was no school this afternoon for some reason and I was tired, the kids weren't and that is not a good combination. I had a bit of a break when Holly helped Pa wash the car for its birthday, and then this evening Merriol took them off into the Fort to see Father Christmas on the High Street (with REAL raindeer! Apparently the kids were totally unfazed to see the deer corralled in the car park when they arrived. It just meant they got a good look at them first without the crowds getting in the way. I don't suppose either of them wondered why Father Christmas would need to park his raindeer in a car park but they seemed to have had a good time. They returned home tired and happy, which is a good combination.

Merriol has asked me point out (her actual words were "Oi! You lying toad!") that it was she who bought the Phil Spector album. She's probably right (she usualy is*). It was a long time ago, years before we were married, or had kids - so I think it probably proved to be a wise investment.

*even when she isn't.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Every year for the past umpteen years it has been a sort of pre-Christmas traditionish that Merriol buys me a 'Christmas Album'. It started when I found and bought, much to Merriol's bafflement, a copy of The Phil Spector's A Christmas Gift For You, a true classic of high camp. I can't remember the order in which they arrived but over the years I have been given Christmas albums by Elvis, Sinatra, Boney M, Bing Crosby, James Brown ("Get on down, like a snow machine!"), The Partridge Family, Gene Autry, etc. etc. This year in a spectacular piece of barrel bottom scraping I was today presented with... Joe Longthorne's Christmas album.

Oh God!

On the upside today I ordered our new computer. I spent ages on the phone to a nice bloke at Dell (Delhi?) and ended up spending 30% over our budget - but I got something with lots of big numbers in it, numbers which mean nothing to me but sounded good and will, I hope, mean the thing goes faster than the cobbled together collection of hubs, caddies, and wires that I'm typing this on. (The second hard drive is held in place with a bent paperclip). Fingers crossed. This will be the first machine I have owned that doesn't have a 3.5" floppy drive. but it does have eight USB holes which means I can stop having hubs plugged into hubs which will mean the desk will be a little less knee deep in cables.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

My brain is going soggy from all the rain. Three meters isn't eight feet four inches! it's nearer ten foot. I need a better hat.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The culvert up at the school is blocked and for the past week or so it has been raining as only it can around here. It rains a lot here - the annual average stands at about three meters (that's eight feet four inches in old money) - warm westerly air sails across the Atlantic, get very wet, hits cold mountains, dumps Atlantic on our heads.Bit of a bugger, but it's the price you pay for living in such a beautiful place (I assume it's still beautiful, I so rarely get to see it through all the rain). So! The culvert up at the school gate is blocked and overflowing. Water is streaming all the way down the road wearing huge pot holes in the side. Holly thinks it's great. She just stands there in the water in her wellies and the rushing water breaks over her feet like the water at the front of a speedboat.It is most peculiar. It looks like she is scooting up the road without moving. Needless to say she is usualy soaking when we get to school.

Today I realised that there was no need for all this water to be flooding the road at all. On the other, downhill, side of the school entrance is the ditch where the water should have been if it hadn't gone for a walk onto the road. All that was needed was some idiot with a mattock to come along and stand in the rain and dig a trench from the, very wet, side of the road to the, not very wet, ditch and all the water would be back where it belonged after being on the road for no more than a dozen yards. Being an idiot, and owning a mattock, I dug the ditch.

This evening was spent poking about the workshop trying to make some space in there. The place is an embarrassment. I've just been running in and dumping stuff then running away again for months now. It's a tip.This evening I bit the bullet and spent an hour in there trying to throw things out (hard). And moving things around (easy but pointless) and generaly trying to reassert my will on all the kipple. I hadn't been in there three minutes before I had tripped over the box of coach bolts I knew I had, and needed, last week but couldn't find even after a half hours searching. As it was, it turned out that I had missed finding them by much. They were buried under the first thing I had moved when I had started to look for them. As normal when I'm in there looking for something my first act had been to hide it.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

That Slug Has Stripes; I think It Is An American Slug

Saturday. Merriol disappeared early this morning to finish off end of month stuff at the surgery - and she took the kids with her! A feeling of peace and inner contentment washed over me as I cuddled back under the duvet. Peace. Child free peace. Two minutes later Morag rang, looking for Merriol, and I felt so guilty about still being in bed that I immediately got up and did vast amounts of hoovering and other jobs best done without kids underfoot - including taking the deep fat fryer to pieces and shoving it in the dishwasher. When I clean, I clean.

Later I met them all, Merriol and our kids, Morag and her kids, down at the TIC and then everyone piled back to our house. Oh what fun! Mike is writing an essay and keeping the kids out from under his feet was the game today. After an hour or so of near bedlam I discovered we needed groceries and legged it to the Fort. It was nice getting in the car and being able to put on a CD that didn't have "The Wheels On The Bus" as a track.

I bought a couple of books last week. (This is news?) Tucked inside one of them was a letter dated July 1944 in some sort of foreign which turned out to be Danish. I found a site that will translate Danish to English but it's reading the handwriting that is going to be the difficult bit. If / when I get it worked out - and if it turns out to be in anyway interesting - I'll post it here soon. Remind me.

More on the Buffalo thing:

Thanks Kimberly, but I still haven't got a scooby...

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Burglars Stole Our Pet Crabs

Madness! Madness! The world has gone mad. Merriol, glitter-frenzied woman that she is, has finally flipped. She has managed to find toothpaste with glitter in it. Our kids are currently brushing their teeth with strawberry flavoured toothpaste that extrudes from the tube in a star shape - and glitters!

I may have to go lie down for a week if this goes on.

I've been saying 'buffalo' a lot today. Someone over at palimpsest posted this on one of the threads:
Here is a sentence that is already grammatically correct, believe it or not:

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

Any guesses as to how this is so?

I was intrigued.

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo?

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo?

I spent several hours today happily doing the housework and playing with the kids - or so it would have seemed to the casual observer. Looked at more closely and you would have seen my lips twitching. A little closer still and you would have heard my muttering...
"Buffalo buffalo buffalo? buffalo buff-alo! Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buff-alo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo? ..."

Eventually I realised there were three meaning for the word. The animal itself, the verb meaning to overawe or outwit, and the Town in New York State. Finally I came up with:

Buffalo buffalo buffalo, Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

Meaning: (The animals called) Buffalo buffalo (or overawe or outwit other) buffalo, Buffalo buffalo (i.e. buffalo from the town of Buffalo), buffalo (other) Bouffalo buffalo.

I'm glad that's over; the kids were starting to look at me with even more pity than normal - and if this entry doesn't feature high on any Google search for buffalo soon I will be amazed. Buffalo.

Bouffalo n. a Buffalo with a beehive hairdo.

Monday, November 27, 2006

One of the problems with being old enough to be my oldest daughter's grandad (I just did the math, it's true) is the huge changes that have happened in the 43 years since I was her age. I remember my first encounter with a computer in school. I was 13. It was a teletype terminal linked to some huge valve operated mainframe in the council office basements the other side of the city. The class queued up and one at a time pounded in our programs line by line (Forth or Basic, I can't remember which) :

10 Do this
20 do that
30 sub routine this
35 put in the bit I got wrong last time
40 end

If it didn't do what you expected you went away and worked it out and got on the back of the queue to type it all it again. It must have been worth it, because one of the kids I stood in line with was Alan Dix now Professor Alan Dix, of the Computing Department of Lancaster University.

Holly, aged four, was doing stop motion animation on the nursery laptop last week.

This afternoon she started walking around stiff legged for a bit before announcing. "My legs don't work very well. I have an error message in my head."

The sooner we get this kid to ballet classes the better.

I went into the Fort this afternoon to pick up some shopping while Merriol went for a walk with the kids. As I was driving in, a motorbike overtook me. He passed the car in front of me a few moments later and shot off away up the road. A couple of miles on, on a particularly bendy bit of the A82, I spotted something at the side of the road. I had just worked out it was a crash helmet when I realised the mass lying on the grass next to it was the biker who had passed me a few moments ago. I couldn't see the bike, it must have been down off the road in the trees, half way to the loch. There was no way I could stop. I had a car right behind me. So I turned in the next lay-by (thus becoming one of those arseholes who do three point turns on trunk roads) and went back. By the time I get there he was on his feet and talking on his mobile. His face was covered in blood but he insisted he was all right. All of my life I have been convinced that one day I will find a dead body. I'm glad today wasn't it.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

My Face Likes Dancing

said Daisy. To which Holly replied:

"My bum likes birthday parties."

I have no idea what they were on about.

I lied yesterday. I've been thinking about it, I did have an epiphanistic moment when my previous life went out the window. It was the moment Merriol told me she was pregnant*. Bam! that was it. Total life reversal in zero point five seconds.

Today was spent at a car boot sale in Kinloch where I didn't buy a lot, not because there wasn't a lot to buy, but because I didn't want any of it and, for most of the time I had Daisy clinging onto my leg. It's very hard to throw yourself into full blown, rubbish raking frenzy with a two year old glued to your knee. I bought a couple of CDs and a REALLY BAD SF movie which went into the DVD player as soon as everyone was in bed. That's another 90 minutes of my life Hollywood owes me.

In between times we went to a birthday party. A children's birthday party. Three hours of semi-controlled hell. It was like being caught in a dwarf's riot. At one point they all started blowing those party hooter things with the paper tube that unrolls** - it sounded, to quote our hostess, like a penguin colony in the mating season. Great description. I wonder how she knows.

*The first time.

**I have no idea what they are called and daren't look it up on Google because it would take me four hours and I would have joined the Inner-Mongolian Liberation Front's mailing list, and watched a lot of stupid things on U-tube on the way. I shouldn't be allowed to look things up on Google. You think this blog gets off the point quickly? you should see me trying to look up simple facts on the web.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Holly? Holly? I'm Shouting For Holly - Shout! Shout! Shout!

I took Daisy up to playgroup today up at the church hall. I was glad she was in one of her "Me do it on my own!" moods which meant we walked up. It was slow but it beats pushing her up that steep hill in her pushchair. The walk was especially slow today. Because it's autumn, there are an awful lot of interesting leaves lying around on the road, each one had to be looked at, picked up, carried for a few paces, then discarded as a more interesting leaf presented itself...

One of the first things I heard when we arrived at the hall was:

"Don't let any of the kids into the church. There's a coffin in there."

There was funeral later in the day and the body was already in place. We only knew this because one of the mums at the playgroup is the priest at the church and would be conducting the service later. Another of the Mums* is the village doctor. I really wonder how I got here. You see, time was - in my mispent youth, I used to drink like a fish, do all sorts of interesting chemistry experiments on my brain, conduct interesting physical exersizes (mostly horizontal) with all sorts of people, hang out with bands, artists, and all sorts of other people your mother wouldn't like - and here I am Xty years later watching my wee one playing with plastic food while I chat with the Vicar over a cup of coffee while there is a dead person in the next room.

Time does funny things.

All the certainties I had back then (not that I can remember any of them apart from the 'I'm never going to have kids' one) have all vanished. I've always been genuinely embarrassed by my younger selves. When I was a teenager I hated the child I had been. When I was a student I hated the teenager. And so on. My younger selves always seemed so gauche. Opinionated little nerks I was glad to outgrow.

I never had any blinding epiphanies where I cast off my previous selves with a cry of "I renounce thee!" but I always remember looking over my shoulder at myself thinking "did I used to think that? did I really used to like that band? did I really treat her like that?" You know the sort of thing; it's like looking in an old photo album (like Flickr, but in a book) and finding a picture of you wearing flares (or hotpants, ra-ra skirt, tank top, leg warmers or whatever. Imagine yourself wearing the most hideous fashion disaster to befall your generation.)

I've lost the plot...

....oh yeah! I realised today that I hadn't done that for a long time. Looked back and cringed at my previous incarnations. For one thing I've been too bloody busy for any self-indulgent introspection, and for another I seem to have been happy with myself and my life for quiet a long time now.

I just thank the gods I never had a mullet or wrote poetry.

*I say 'Mums' deliberately, not 'parents', because I am usually the only male over four years of age who goes. I have no idea where all the other men are. Out slaying mammoths or something equaly testosteroney.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Nipping down to the Co-op this evening to get a bottle of milk, I ran into Eileen who was heading to the public notice board. I guessed she was going to read the weird open letter our former doctor has posted there...
(Back story: there has been a long, growing rift* between our former GP and the GP who replaced him. As Merriol works for the new GP, and we count her as a friend, and as I have no idea what I have been told, in confidence as a friend, and what is public knowledge, I'm not going to go into the finer details, but this open letter put up on the public noticeboard is certainly making people think about the affair in a whole new light.)
So, (Get to the point!) Eileen was indeed going to read the notice but couldn't because of the poor light...
(More back story: the noticeboard down at the Co-op was cunningly constructed so as to be in total darkness after sunset and in midwinter the sun sets mid-afternoon around here. The overhanging roofy bit of the notice board which shelters you from the rain (on the rare occasions the rain comes straight down as opposed to sheeting in horizontaly which is the norm) also completely shades out the streetlight on the other side of the road. The thing was also cunningly placed right next to where the trucks delivering to the Co-op have to reverse round a tight corner and has been semi-demolished at least twice.)
Ilene couldn't read the notice so I backed up the car and switched on my headlights so she could see.

None of which is got anything to do with what I started out to say. What I started out to say was, as we were chatting, Ilene asked me how the 'dirty weekend' had gone and the first thought that popped into my head was "Didn't you read the blog?"

I need to get out more and socialise face to face and do real talking to people.

*'rift' as in Great Rift Valley

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

test of new PFF installation...

Edit: ...which obviously works.

PFF = Performancing For Firefox, which is the sit at the bottom of the window blogging tool I've been using for a while but, after I foolishly upgraded it, it stopped (and there you have me and computers in a nutshell).

Now someone has fiddled with something somewhere and it's up and running again. For which I am grateful. Thank you anonymous World Wide Interweb people for your tireless fiddling, and for making at least one of my Firefox extensions work again.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Not much exciting happened today so I drew a cartoon.

I'll get my coat...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Blah day. Cold but beautiful. It snowed heavily last night and there was snow down to the tree line. Dead calm this morning and a high tide. Real picture postcard weather.

It was one of those days in which nothing much seemed to get done. We went shopping in Oban and filled the car up with stuff from Tesco, Lidl, a couple of charity shops and home again, put the kids to bed and watched a movie. Well, started to watch one, got so pissed off with it we junked it and I fetched another off the impressive (in size, not content) 'Movies we have not yet watched' heap,

On the way down to Oban Merriol texted Morag to see if she wanted anything. Morag did, and because the kids were playing up and it was getting late I was delegated to run round Lidl and get the stuff for her. Have you ever tried to do someone else's shopping? I found it totally confusing.

Morag had asked us to get things we don't normally buy. It's very odd how quickly you get into ruts. I go into Lidl buy umpteen things, but they're always pretty much the same things. I notice new lines when they appear on the shelves but somehow I manage to tune out all the other stuff that has always been there that I don't normally get, so when I was asked to purchase some of this stuff I had somehow trained myself not to see - I just couldn't find it.

I thought I knew where everything was in the store (it ain't that big after all) but I just couldn't find the stuff she wanted us to get till I had walked past it five times and then asked one of the few and far between downtrodden workers. It was a very unsettling experience.

Friday, November 17, 2006

I Know! I Know! But My Legs Don't Understand.

An interesting day.

I cleaned poo off a carpet, bathed one of my kids, wiped milk off the stairs, mopped up a puddleful of water off the kitchen floor, and scraped gobbets of congealing porridge off the table - and all before nine in the morning.

In the afternoon I got offered the lead roll in a movie.

The movie is a lo-lo-no budget thing and it's five minutes long but "If you're interested the lead role is yours" are words every actor dreams about. Especially if it gets me out of wiping Daisy's arse for a few days.

In the evening Merriol and I took ten minutes to track down the rightful owner of the lost camera, a feat about which, we will have great fun telling the nice policewoman who has had the thing for the past three months. (Actually I will let Merriol tell you about that on her blog tomorrow as it was her brilliant deductive powers that broke the case - too much Miss Marple if you ask me.)

I found a pedometer of the kitchen floor during the morning (where does this stuff COME from?) . I zeroed it and clipped it on my belt.

I just took it off. It read 12753.

According to this site that is about six miles. I'll believe that. Most of it up and down stairs. No wonder I'm buggered at the end of the day.

Oh, and it snowed.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I Wish You Could Open Up Sunshine To See What's In It

I spent the greater chunk of today varnishing and assembling a couple of Ikea storage box things we bought on our shopping orgy in Glasgow. How sad is that by the way - I mean the fact that going shopping in Ikea is a big treat for us? This trip we did make the serendipitous discovery that going round Ikea on Friday night is a good idea. The place is practicaly empty. Most of the population of Scotland spends Friday night getting themselves plastered, or in hiding from those that are, not wandering around warehouses full of flatpack lifestyles. Sunday afternoon on the other hand, we went back to buy some things we decided we couldn't live without) and the place was packed, a nightmare - full of families with kids all moving at 0.1 miles per hour pushing huge fucking trolleys empty apart from a funky plastic toothmug and a £4 table lamp plonked in the middle. Beats going to church I suppose.

Anyway. These little wooden trunky things: wooden cubes made of open little wooden slats. Half way through shellacing them I was really starting to regret it but the thought of trying to clean felt pen or paint off totally untreated wood was even worse so I finished. It was one of those so boring it becomes hypnotic / addictive jobs. After the shellac had dried (which wasn't long, one of the nice things about shellac is that it dries very quickly and doesn't stink the house out, unlike polyeurathane) I assembled them and found myself the proud possessor of another two dinky little Ikea's self-assembly double ended Allen keys. There's one in every Ikea bit of Ikea Flatpack furniture. I have dozens of the buggers in my workshop. One of these days I will find a use for them (other than dismantling Ikea furniture) I will, I will. That or someone in Ikea will finally realise the scrap value of these things and start placing little boxes in every store for you to dump them in so they can be melted down to make 'Snott' kitchen roll holders or something equally weirdly named.

(Typing Snott and Ikea into Google gets 18,100 results... just in case you were tempted).

This evening, interrupted only by letting my family thrash me at Scrabble, I will be listing stuff on eBay. It's a chaepo day on Thursday and we need the cash now that I am not working again. We also need the space, given my predilection for buying crap (I only bought 14 CDs last week). This will be the first chance I have had to sell anything for a while, what with one thing and another and I am totally confused by the new postal regime. Until a few months ago the Post Office would charge you by the weight of your letter or parcel.

It weighs X grammes? You pay Y pence.

Simple. Easy.

It got a little more complicated when you took into account weight limits for different classes of postage. If an item was too heavy to post First Class it had to go either Parcel Post or Second Class. (Or was it the other way around?) But it was livable with. Like I said; easy.

Then, for some reason known only to themselves, they changed it. Not only do you now have to know how heavy something is but how big it is too. If it measures this by that and will slip through the handy plastic slot on the counter it will be charged at one rate, but if it this by that and won't go through the slot, then it's charged at another higher rate. If it is within a different, larger set of this by that's, and still goes through the slot, then it's another rate - and then there's a third set of measurements... after which I have no idea. They probably make you saw the thing in half and post it in pieces.

It is utterly confusing.

Time was, I used to be able to shove a heavy book in a jiffy bag, heft it in my hand, and think - 'that feels like about £2 worth of postage'. Now I have no idea.

Nor does anyone else.

I'll have to take everything down to the Post Office, see if it shoves through the slot, get it weighed, and have it priced before I can list it. It's stupid. I heard one Post Office official on the radio saying it was a system that worked well in Holland. That explains a lot. It was probably invented one Friday night by two stoned postal workers in an Amsterdam dope cafe and scribbled on the back of a napkin. Made perfect, almost mystical sense at the time, but in the cold light of day....?

I wonder if Dutch Ikeas are busy on Friday nights?

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Job is over and I am now gainfully unemployed. Hurrah! Full time house-husbanding again.

The day the job finished Merriol and I buggered off to Glasgow for a weekend without the kids. Posh Hotel - lots of shopping, not being woken up at 3.30 am by Daisy demanding a story.


Realising on the first night that I forgotten to take a book with me. No so Heavenly.

How can I have forgotten to take a book with me? I cannot normally move without at least one book somewhere within reach (on the Ferry over to Islay last Thursday I shoved three in my pockets before we set off (and this was five in the morning! I was hardly able to walk! let alone make thinkings) Toothbrush. Books. It's automatic; it's instinctive. I can't function without a book to read but, more importantly in this case, I can't sleep without a book to read. Something about the rhythm of the eye movements while reading is very hypnotic. So there I was, stuck in a hotel room wide awake, Merriol snoring away by my side. Nothing else to do, I plugged my walkman earphones into the socket in front of the bedside telly and flipped through the available channels. I landed on an interesting program about the late, great Ivor Cutler. After that finished I flipped on through the channels pausing only to wonder why anyone would want to watch cricket or wrestling at two a.m. when I discovered the - Free Porn Channel.


I had a real Joey Tribbiani-like moment. Cooool, free porn!

Just a moment.

Dear God! save me from the badness of British Porn. The highlight of my brief stay on the channel was watching a well-endowed young lady bring herself to a 15 minute (OK, it wasn't that brief a stay) fake orgasm that made Meg Ryan's Harry Met Sally one look understated. Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Ah! Ah! Oh! ah AOOOH! AH!!! AHAHAHAAAH! Oh! Oh! OH! - and on and on and on she went and she didn't stop chewing her gum for one single second!
Chewing gum? Who the hell chews gum while having sex? Even with yourself?
What I found even more amazing was that her relentless chewing didn't match any other visible on-screen rhythm. Various parts of this naked woman were oscillating at various interesting speeds and in various interesting directions as she Oh! Oh! Oh!ed away at herself and yet none of them matched her chewing at all. It was fascinating. It was like watching a jazz drummer keeping some bizzare beat going. Did Gene Krupa write sex manuals? (Insert your own joke about paradiddling yourself here, I am not going to stoop so low.)

It was incredible. It was like she was lap dancing a Dave Brubeck number: Take Five or Unsquare Dance. It was the second best bit of acting I had seen all week.

The first best bit of acting I saw all week was, without doubt, me acting my way through the first part of the show on Islay despite being in some considerable pain. What happened was this:
The third scene of the show had me pretending to be 5 years old and throwing a tantrum because I couldn't get the toys I wanted. Thursday, it being the last show, I thought I would go all out and really throw the tantrum to end all tantrums. If Bob could overact mercilessly, why couldn't I? I worked my way up to it fine, got the dialogue out, built myself up with frustrated anger - then let rip, I jumped up and down, whined in the annoyingly high pitched sulky winge, thrashed my clenched hands around like I had done forty odd times before only this time I pulled out all the stops and really went for it - and whacked myself right in the testicles with my fist.

I managed to punch myself in the balls.

Stop laughing; it was agony!

The next few minutes were insanely hard work, acting as if nothing had happened and carrying on with the banal banter that followed, when all I really wanted to do was curl up in a ball and cuddle my nads - I must have been good because no one else noticed anything was wrong. I love actors. We're so sensitive.

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