Sunday, December 31, 2006

Six degrees of Kevin Bacon: Ricky Gervais

Ricky Gervais
appeared in Night at the Museum with

Ben Stiller
appeared in Meet the Parents with

Robert de Niro
appeared in The Score with

Edward Norton
appeared in Fight Club with

Brad Pitt
appeared in Sleepers with

Kevin Bacon

Don't touch that dilemma

Sometimes life seems so complicated. Then you realise that it's actually incredibly simple.




Inspired by this

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Hoomv and Doovde

Channel 4's occasional Comedy Lab series has outed such comedic British luminaries as Peter Kay, Jimmy Carr and Dom Joly. It's also produced a number of programmes which you vaguely remember as being hilarious but which, thanks to the incessant flow of time, sink to the seabed of your subconscious like discarded cigarette lighters. But now everyone in the world is connected together by invisible and highly radioactive internet gamma-waves, we're able to fish out the metaphorical cigarette lighters and see them work their fiery magic all over again. I give you the stunning phone-prankery of Fonejacker.



And subsequently:



Whole episode is here

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Churchspill

Christmas is a time for catching up, and trying to think of things to say. But what to say to people who you haven't seen for several years and who you didn't really know that well in the first place? On Christmas Day itself, I had several odd encounters in the space of just an hour.

As me and my sister are on the way into church, we wander past my old Latin teacher.
"I hear you had to drive home via Basingstoke?" he says to my sister.
"Er, yeah - how did you..." says my sister, quite surprised and clearly confused as to how he could possibly know this.
"That must have been fun," he says sarcastically.
"How did you know I'd driven back via Basingstoke?" she asks.
"Finger on the pulse," I chip in.
"Oh, you know," he says. "I do a bit of networking now and again." He turns to me. In deliberately patronising tone: "Opened your stocking yet?"
"I'm saving it till later," I say, with as much dryness as I can muster.

After the service, we're shuffling our way towards the exit, hampered by old people and ecclesiastical socialites. We slowly pass my old geography teacher, who's standing with a dazed grin on his face.
"Happy Christmas," he says absently. "Are you still an excellent spin bowler?"
"Hello. Happy Christmas. Yes, sure am," I respond.
"I bet you haven't spun a ball in ten years, have you?" he says.
"It's definitely getting near something like that," I reply. He laughs. We carry on shuffling.

There is one more final odd conversational switch to make, as I shake hands with the vicar on the way out.
"Great to see you!" he says kindly. "Still a writer?"
"Yes," I say.
"I saw a film about a writer recently," he says. "Finding Forrester,"
"Oh right," I say. "No, I haven't seen that."
"Writing can be a very lonely life," he says rather sadly. I instinctively pick an inappropriate response.
"Hahahaaaa," I laugh.

Novels of 2006

Having read every single work of fiction published this year several times over, I can now exclusively reveal the five best novels of 2006:

  • The Road – Cormac McCarthy
  • The Perfect Man – Naeem Murr
  • Theft – Peter Carey
  • Black Swan Green – David Mitchell
  • The Testament of Gideon Mack – James Robertson

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Films of 2006

Clearly the best movies of the year were...

  • The Departed
  • Volver
  • Brick
  • Casino Royale
  • London to Brighton

Friday, December 22, 2006

Catch that pigeon

Nice bit of cameraphone video action from my old pal Toby. Today, The Electric Goose is STICKING IT TO THE MAN.



Asked if they would be removing the pigeon-tainted food, staff reaction was along the lines of: "Eugh, that's gross, I'm not fucking touching that."


Greggs' online presence

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas message

After the NTL debacle (below), here's something to cheer us all up. It's a festive message from my old sparring partner Tadich, which he sent round on Christmas Eve last year, after a couple of months spent working in Russia:

Subject: счастливый светский праздничный сезон, товарищи!

Greetings, decadent Western Papists. Comrade Tadich here, wishing you a productive secular day of enjoyment. May you drink much vodka and meet all your industrial production targets for the current Five Year Plan.

As usual, I will be spending the day of your repugnant saviour's birth toiling steadily at the Televised Information Dissemination Plant #3314. Do not spare a thought for me, as I labour happily for the good of the republic. I am told by my local soviet that if I exceed my output rating, I qualify for a voucher to receive a new colour television with a vertical hold dial!

Although I cannot be with you for your disgusting imperialist orgy of consumption, I have been informed by my sector kompromat that travel documents have been issued in my name to the Toronto oblast for Jan 30 to Feb 8. I expect to see you all during that period for at least one drink and a confession of who is wrecking the Byelorussian grain quota on pain of testicular electrocution.

In solidarity,
Tadich
Death to Spies!

meNTaL part 2

I get home in time for the NTL man who's due between 12pm and 6pm (as booked last week), and there's a written note explaining that an NTL broadband area fault means there's nothing he can do, and that I should call NTL customer services to cancel the appointment.

I call the NTL engineer on his mobile: he says the fault won't be fixed for a month.

I call NTL customer services and, after ten minutes on hold, tell them I've been told to cancel the engineer. Also that I want compensation for the last three weeks and the coming month. They cancel the appointment and explain that they don't pay out until the problem is fixed (!), so I should call them back then. In the meantime, to find out about the fault, I should call the NTL area fault number.

I call the NTL fault hotline. I explain the problem, and the man tells me that what the engineer didn't know was that the NTL broadband fault in my area has actually now been fixed and that I should turn on my NTL modem. However, the ready light is still flashing. He tells me I need an NTL engineer to look at the NTL modem. There isn't one available till Friday. I ask if I can just have the one that I was supposed to between 12pm and 6pm today. No, he says. Even though it's only 12.30pm now? "Our apologies sir, but the ticket has been cancelled."

I have to say, their incompetence is stunning in its consistency.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

"Reason, I tried. But reason, she died"

What a song this is. It's called She's Attracted To and it comes courtesy of an exciting beat combination trio known as The Young Knives. The protagonist describes a hellish meeting with his girlfriend's parents which culminates in much shouting and punching; the video reminds me of The Borrowers or something.

"Your dad cornered me in the hallway,
While you were in the loo.
He gave me a right talking to:
He said I was a terrorist!"




A prior watchable media experience
More eye food
Yet more viewable interactivity

Stockwell Flats: Dickens

"Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city. Fog on the Essex marshes, fog on the Stockwell Flats."

Monday, December 18, 2006

meNTaL

Our NTL internet connection has been dreadful over the last week or two. Their service stresses me out. Booked an engineer on the phone on Saturday:

Technical support man: "So just to confirm, the engineer will attend between 12 and 6 on Wednesday. Also, please contact us if you are unable to attend the appointment; as part of NTL company policy if you miss the appointment, we will charge you £10."

Me: "That's interesting, because one of your engineers was booked to come round last week and he missed the appointment. Will you pay me £10?"

[Long silence]

Man: "I'm sorry sir?"

Me: "I booked an engineer before and he didn't turn up. Do I get £10?"

[Pause]

Man: "Please accept our apologies."

Some number crunching: since getting an NTL line, we've spent a total of £4.87 and 84 minutes on phonecalls to technical support. When their stuff breaks, we have to pay them more!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Shoo

Pre-DJ Shadow gig, we're in the pub and Birdy is telling us a story. He was out drinking last week with some friends and they all decided to go to a club. But his pal is wearing brown shoes with white soles, so when they get to the venue, the bouncer thinks he spies a pair of trainers and denies entrance to the motley crew.

They go into a huddle and one of their number comes up with an idea: the brown-shoed reject should go round the corner, take his socks off and put them on over the shoes, in order to hide the offending white soles. So he does so, and comes back to the club.

"You're not coming in," says the bouncer, for the second time.

"Why?" asks the hapless shoe-switcher.

"Because you're wearing your socks over your shoes," says the bouncer, not unreasonably.

Birdy, looking slightly dejected

Friday, December 15, 2006

On The Road / West Wing rules, okay?

Cormac McCarthy's new novel The Road is striking in more ways than one. But let's pare it down to one irrelevant detail, because that's what we do here at The Electric Goose. Yep, I'm talking about McCarthy's use of the word 'okay'.

Just like most road movies or 'road novels', there's not much of a plot to speak of (does anything actually happen in On the Road or Easy Rider? Answer: no.) but the story, such as it is, concerns a man and his young son on a journey through a post-apocalyptic America depleted of resources, trying to survive.

Along the way, there's a lot of sparse, Waiting for Godot-like dialogue but it differs from Samuel Beckett's play, in that the circularity is avoided, in this case by the boy's continual grateful acceptance of his father's plans. Which means many of the short sections end with 'okays'. For example:

You want to stop?
I always want to stop.
We have to be more careful. I have to be more careful.
I know.
We'll stop. Okay?
Okay.
We just have to find a place.
Okay.

And

So when are you going to talk to me again?
I'm talking now.
Are you sure?
Yes.
Okay.
Okay.

These near-monosyllabic chunks of dialogue with their unerring final resolutions capture the hopelessness of their predicament, in which the pair are forced to accept a world where everything is not 'okay'.

***

I wonder if McCarthy has been spending his time immersing himself in The West Wing. Scenes in Aaron Sorkin's near-perfect political drama also often end with an 'okay', but Sorkin, like a highly versatile magician, uses the word in an endless number of ways. Frequently it underlines the sagacity of the characters, who are quick to realise when are things they can't change or argue with.

Josh: Intelligence says neighbours in [war-torn country] Kundu are sleeping in each others houses.
Charlie: What does that mean?
Josh: It means they're making people in the same house rape each other on the promise that their lives will be spared.
Charlie: Okay.

Inauguration Part I, Season 4

Of course, it's usually not so bleak, and more often used for comical purposes:

Laurie: You want to buy me a drink?
Sam: I have to say, that sounded very professional to me.
Laurie: Shut up.
Sam: Okay.

Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc, Season 1

There's an unusual moment in one episode when Leo McGarry (played by the late great John Spencer) is having an argument with the Secretary of Defence, who he believes has massaged the figures on 'force depletion' (basically a theoretical call on how many soldiers are expected to die if sent to war). Things get highly charged.

Leo [yelling]: The numbers [are] inflated all to hell. It's 150, not 1,000.
Secretary: And that's acceptable to you, in Kundu?
Leo: I don't know what you mean when you say 'in Kundu'. [pause, realisation dawns] Yeah. Yeah, I do.
Secretary [as he storms out]: Go to hell.
Leo [shouting, in voice both angry and weirdly geeky]: Okay.

Inauguration Part I, season 4

Usually in The West Wing, each 'okay' is startlingly eloquent. Here, it is a rare sign of inarticulacy, of not having an answer. Sometimes, however, it just means 'okay'. We'll finish with this scene in The US Poet Laureate episode:

[Toby re-enters the room where the President is sitting to give him a quick briefing before the next satellite link-up interview begins.]

Toby: Okay.
Bartlet: Okay what?
Toby: Nothing, I just meant, you know, okay.
Man: They're back from commercial in 20 seconds.
Bartlet: Drilling/exploring.
Toby: Yes, sir.
Bartlet: Saudi Arabia bad.
Toby: Saudi Arabia very bad.
Bartlet: Okay.
Toby: Okay.
Bartlet: Why are you smiling?
Toby [ironically]: Happiness is my default position.
Bartlet: Okay.

The US Poet Laureate, Season 3


Search West Wing transcripts
for instances of the word 'okay'

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Five cultural disappointments of the year

If you came here thirsty for lists, prepare to be quenched...

Mighty Boosh, Brixton Academy

'Surreal', 'culty' and 'outsider' boxes were lazily ticked. Everyone laughed before the self-styled wacky duo had even done anything. Annoying.

Closure of The Queen pub, Bellefields Road
One of my favourite pubs ever. And they didn't just close it – they knocked the fucker down. Relive the pain here.

Broken Boy Soldiers, The Raconteurs
It was supposed to be the next Nevermind, for Jack's sake! Instead, it was just a bit average and featured way too much whigging out. Has slightly spoiled Brendan Benson for me.

Our Freeview box breaking
Luckily it was a two-in-one thing and the DVD player still works. But we still had to buy a new box. Hang your head in shame, Wharfdale.

The West Wing ends
Okay, it was never as good after Aaron Sorkin and Rob Lowe left. But I still wept salt tears.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Five cultural events of the year

... the end-of-year lists continue...

Blackbird, Albery Theatre
Dark and overwrought, which is what you want from the theatre really. Plus, Catherine Tate sat in front of us when we went. Bovvered.

Cansei De Ser Sexy, Scala
Gig of the year. Made me realise that most other concerts aren't actually that fun.

Gervais, Pilkington and Merchant podcasts
These actually dropped in quality for the third series, but only a dead horse would be able to keep a straight face when Karl started moaning about his kidney stone operation.

Krapp's Last Tape, Barbican
Existentialism! Surrealism! Bananas! Fifteen minutes of quality acting from the Hurtmeister [John Hurt].

Carsten Holler, Tate Modern Turbine Hall
Aka "the slides". Most asked question of the year: "Have you been on the slides yet?" Answer: "Yes I have, and they're fucking ace."

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Twenty-five great tracks of 2006

Feeling list-less? This should sort you out: my 25 favourite tunes of the year. This is one mean playlist; go to iTunes and treat yourself.

Music Is My Hot Hot Sex - CSS
Why: Beyonce's Crazy in Love for electro-indie kids. Also features the sassiest Portuguese rapping heard since [simile missing].
Key lyric: "Music is my granddad / Music is my great granddaughter / Music is my sister / Music is my favourite mistress"

TV – The Sugars
Why: The catchiest tune of the year, it's Helen Love shagging The White Stripes with an excellent anti-everything sentiment at its centre.
Key lyric: "I don't like the people that make the TV / And the people on TV don't like me"

Crazy – Knarls Barkley
Why: Because that F# to B major chord change (the thing's in B minor for crying out loud!) is the most unexpected thing to happen in pop music in eight and a half years.
Key lyric: "Does that make me crazy? / Probably"

Thanks for All the Aids – Akira the Don
Why: Scared a lot of record execs, possibly because the great, hummable tune smuggles in some highly subversive lyrics which have a go at everyone, from the World Bank to Keane.
Key lyric: "If your kids are on Ritalin you are / Twelve times worse than the worst crack whore"

Eanie Meany – Jim Noir
Why: Twangy, understated and totally old-skool psychedelic; mentions garden gnomes, which you don't get with Girls Aloud.
Key lyric: "If you don't give my football back / I'm gonna get my dad on you"

Emily – Joanna Newsom
Why: Rhapsodic, weird and truly unpredictable, there was nothing else like it this year.
Key lyric: "And the meteorite's just what causes the light / And the meteor's how it's perceived"

Dress Up in You – Belle and Sebastian
Why: Lovely ballady stuff from B&S, still the only band who can sweetly sing "…so fuck them too" before seguing into a highly dignified horn solo.
Key lyric: "I am the singer, I am the singer in the band / You're the loser, I won't dismiss you out of hand"

Kidz – Plan B
Why: Scary and real; also unforgettable.
Key lyric: "Ai, listen up. Fuckin' cunts."

Country Girl – Primal Scream
Why: Simply a brilliant rocker that still has some of the churning danciness of previous Scream incarnations, elevated, as ever, by a pumping Mani bassline à la Kowalski.
Key lyric: "Crazy women / Mess your head / Wake up drunk and beaten / In some strange bed"

Alice the Goon – Quasi
Why: Sounds like a load of grand pianos being chucked off the roofs of art galleries by lunatic geniuses.
Key lyric: "Electric eel / Swimming the seas of the unreal"

See Me In My Dreams – Silver Sun
Why: You know how we said that Sugars song was the catchiest of the year? Well this is catchier.
Key lyric: "On the Northern Line, oh what have you found?"

Meeting Paris Hilton – CSS
Why: Manages to sound sharply satirical, mainly by using the word 'bitch' many many times. Laters Paris!
Key lyric: "She came to me and said: 'Do you like the bitch, bitch?'"

We Are the Pipettes – The Pipettes
Why: What a statement of intent! They are the Pipettes!
Key lyric: "We are the Pipettes and we've got no regrets / If you haven't noticed yet, we're the prettiest girls you've ever met"

Workingman Blues #2 – Bob Dylan
Why: The spidery piano intro means you know it's going to be a classic by 0.03.
Key lyric: "No man, no woman knows / The hour that sorrow will come"

Fee Fie – The Hidden Cameras
Why: Best use of the triangle, like, ever.
Key lyric: "Smell yearning"

Rough Gem – Islands
Why: Seems to be about mining and the planet's limited resources, but sounds more fun than every Christmas toy ever invented.
Key lyric: "Dig deep but don't dig too deep / When it's late, you'll see the hole is empty"

Running the World – Jarvis Cocker
Why: Furious song that gets its point across without shouting. Lots of swearing, though.
Key lyric: "It stinks, it sucks / It's anthropologically unjust / But the takings are up by a third / Cunts are still running the world"

I'm Free from the Chain Gang Now – Johnny Cash
Why: Weary but triumphant, a wonderful last track for the Man in Black's final album.
Key lyric: "All the years I was known by a number / How I kept my mind is a wonder"

Manitoba – Tapes 'n' Tapes
Why: Sounds like you know it already, but you know you don't.
Key lyric: "When you see streams of boulders / Higher hills from higher moulders"

Lust in the Movies – The Long Blondes
Why: Features a chorus that sounds like a non-sequitur, but which, as you soon realise, is what it's all about.
Key lyric: "Edie Sedgwick, Anna Karina, Arlene Daaaahl"

It Hurts to See You Dance So Well – The Pipettes
Why: Very short, very sweet, trussed with gliding, wintery harmonies.
Key lyric: "But you never knew / How much I was in love with you"

Black and White – The Upper Room
Why: The 80s were back again. But this time they were good.
Key lyric: "Pain pain pain pain pain pain"

Ldn – Lily Allen
Why: Savvy but innocent; manages to make tales of mugging seem fun.
Key lyric: "A fella looking dapper, but he's sitting with a slapper / Then I see it's a pimp and his crack whore"

Boom [Remix] – Akira the Don ft Bashy
Why: Sampling Elastica's Connection is good, but the rhymes – mentioning subjects as varied as David Cameron, Costcutter and Lebanon – are even better.
Key lyric: "Zimmer zimmer zimmer got a donner and a dick"

Gun vs Knife – Dan Sartain
Why: Both menacing and uncertain; according to new research, they don't write 'em like this any more.
Key lyric: "Bring your gun and I'll bring my knife"


Last year's 25 great songs

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Bill psyches

This is fairly extraordinary, and certainly worth recording. Last week, Sarah was standing opposite Brixton police station (she works nearby) and she sees a police van driving past. The van - "definitely an official police vehicle" - has speakers attached to the outside; I guess most of them do, so they can shout at rioters and stuff. But this one's different, as the noise emanating from the speakers is... the theme tune to The Bill! The TV programme! The van drives into the police car park and, amazingly, at the exact moment that it pulls to a halt, the song finishes.

This is surely Sir Ian Blair's first great initiative for the Met, and the world should sit up and take notice. If I was a New Jersey gangster, I'd drive along with Alabama 3's Woke Up This Morning on the stereo. If I was President, I'd install speakers in the corridors of the White House so I could walk into the Oval Office to the sounds of The West Wing theme tune. If I worked in a stationery office in Slough, I'd trudge to work with Handbags and Gladrags on my iPod. Never forget that your life is a television programme.


More TV-related theoreticals

Albums of 2006

It's list time here on planet Earth, so here are my top five long-players of the year, with five also-goods.

Top five
Cansei De Ser Sexy – CSS
The Life Pursuit – Belle and Sebastian
Alright, Still – Lily Allen
Ys – Joanna Newsom
Awoo – The Hidden Cameras

Honorable mentions
Dad's Weird Dream – Silver Sun
Whatever I Say I Am That's What I'm Not – Arctic Monkeys
We Are the Pipettes – The Pipettes
Modern Times – Bob Dylan
Howling Bells – Howling Bells


Last year's faves

Friday, December 08, 2006

Wii - gee! Bored

Nice interview over on Eurogamer with Marwan Elgamal, the 17-year-old who queued on Oxford Street for nearly three days so he could pick up one of the new Nintendo Wii consoles. Some highlights follow:

Patrick Garratt: What happened when you needed to go to the toilet?

Marwan Elgamal: There was a bin around the corner. I just did it in there.

Later, Marwan speaks movingly of his love of the Zelda games:

Marwan Elgamal: It does appeal to me, but not as much as Zelda. I grew up with Zelda and it's my favourite game. I need Zelda.

Finally, the interviewer tries to catch him out, but the masterful Marwan outmanoevres him with an answer geekier than you would've thought possible:

Marwan Elgamal: I got to try out Twilight Princess and it's tailor-made. It works so well. It attracts me so much.

Patrick Garratt: You don't want to play Twilight Princess on GameCube?

Marwan Elgamal: I'm going to get Twilight Princess for GameCube but I'm going to leave it sealed because I'm collecting all the Zelda games.


Full interview

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Gets your goat

Thinking of going for the charity Christmas option this year and buying your loved one a goat for an African family? Think again, fool. Animal Aid, the UK's largest animal rights group, say this:
  • £11 sends six chickens to an impoverished area where they can heighten the disease risk and severely damage the immediate environment
  • £125 provides a pair of goats - animals known to cause desertification, thereby reducing the amount of farmland available to local people
  • £750 sends a cow, who will drink up to 90 litres of the villagers' water every single day
The Nintendo Wii's out today. Get one of those instead.


Animal Aid
Wii. Are. Your Friends

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Lit TV

There aren't enough highbrow literary programmes on TV featuring obscure academics, and if there were, they'd be shit. But here's the answer: why not just assimilate them, using established mainstream formats? And here are the pitches:

Candide Camera
A crack team of Voltaire scholars play a series of crazy literary pranks on unsuspecting members of the public, with inevitably hilarious consequences

Rupert Brookeside
A dramatic soap following the trials and tribulations of a community of World War 1 poetry experts.

CSI Murakami
A squad of Japanese literature fans solve gruesome but metaphysical crimes, helped along the way by a team of magical cats and kooky waifs.

Wife of Bath Swap
A pair of Chaucer scholars switch spouses for a week, with hilarious – and increasingly highbrow – consequences.

The House of TS Eliot
A group of prickly experts on modern poetry are forced to share a house together while they attempt to set up and run their own fashionable clothing company. Will infighting about the nature of postmodernism destroy their business?

Heartbreak Hiawatha
A youth-orientated soap in which a group of literate teens fall in and out of love, while discussing Longfellow in trochaic tetrameter.

How could it possibly fail?

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Paxman cometh

Looks like someone got out on the wrong side of the bed.


More 'video'
And more. Technology, eh?

Saturday's gone

Go to the pub with James on Saturday after an efficient house-moving operation. But throughout, I feel concerned about the fact that he is wearing green trainers and a red hoodie, and I'm wearing red trainers and a green hoodie, and how this might look.

***

Hop over to the White Horse on Brixton Hill for Toby's birthday drinks. Weirdly, despite its, er, 'trendy bar vibe', a number of the clientele are quite old. I point out a guy who resembles a 70-year-old Tony Blair. "There's a guy who looks like Prescott playing pool," says Johnny.

***

Toby tells me about the sadistic evening he inflicted on himself recently. Along with Ben (who harbours the most amazing Alan Lamb anecdote ever – I'll have to tell it to you sometime) he went on a pub crawl of London station pubs. And that's not pubs that are just outside stations, or pubs called 'The Paddington'. No, they had to be the hellish drinking establishments that are actually on the concourse. "We were the only people who were actually there out of choice," he explained. "Bonaparte's in Waterloo is an amazing place."

***

As I'm swiping my Oyster card coming out of the tube station, a plastic splinter of the yellow touch pad somehow comes off and lodges itself in my right thumb, between the side of the nail and the skin. It really hurts, and there's blood. I'm totally suing someone for that.

***

So this was fun: then I went to a (okay, another) pub to meet up with some bloggers. There was Huw (My Thoughts Exactly), Monica (An American in London), Astrid (*The Amazing Adventures & Untold Stories of Astrid*), Leonie (Sometimes Funny is All I Have), Curly (Hairy Tales), and Curly's friend Sud. All good people, and blogging is barely mentioned.

***

As closing time closes in, an extraordinary thing happens. The barmaid whose been telling us to get out comes up to our table wielding a signed Barry Manilow LP. "Is this anybody's?" she says, incredulously. Later we find the culprit and ridicule her.

***

We traipse off to Thirst in Soho. At first, it's pure hell, packed and musically upsetting. But then – and I don't think I was alone in this – it starts to become, like, enjoyable. But then all the booze I've drunk starts to weigh on me and it's time to go.

***

Feeling highly wrecked, I leave the bar. Unable to face the horrors of the Saturday evening night bus, I decide to walk home. On the way down Whitehall, two girls are dancing in the street. They suddenly start running and, without any consultation at all, jump onto the podium beneath the large statue of Field Marshall the Viscount Alan Brooke and start grinding against him, each with a hand on his nether regions. It is highly disrespectful, but bloody hilarious.

***

Reaching the Houses of Parliament, I stare up at the extraordinary architecture of the Victoria Tower Sovereign's Entrance, misty-eyed with drunken wonder and think, yeah, this is why you walk home.

***

And this is why you don't: going along Millbank, six guys are coming towards me. As they pass, refusing to alter my course, I brush against the coat of one of them with my arm. Weirdly, neither of us register this at the time, but a good ten seconds later, and a fair distance apart, we both look back. "Watch where you're fucking walking, you cunt!" he yells. "Come back here!" I glare, but silently turn down his kind offer. I have quite a lot of attitude sometimes.

***

Reaching Stockwell – the walk's taken just under an hour - I'm not that hungry, but I do need something, so, like the dirty addict I am, decide to indulge and pay a visit Millennium Fried Chicken. It's almost impossible to convey the look of amazement that appears on Shiva's face when I respond to his "the usual - two pieces of chicken and chips?" question in the negative. The poor man's eyes widen in horror and confusion. But I put in an order for a chicken burger, and he's appeased.

***

Fortunately, I have a new Tamil word to try out: 'Parkalam' ['See you later']. It works: Shiva returns to his usual state of intense jolliness and throws in a free can of Coke with my chicken burger. Heady times.


Another fun Saturday
And another

Other accounts of the evening:
Curly
Leonie
Astrid

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Tragically quip

My favourite piece of 'real-life' dialogue of all time took place about two years ago at a party held by my old journalism tutor, Angela, a stern feminist of the old-school. The fact that the payoff comes from Kearns, a Telegraph-reading sports lover certainly adds to the quality of the exchange, particularly as him and Angela were often at loggerheads. Loggerheads! What a word!

Anyway:

Ed: "So, we're having a house-warming party and the theme is 'film and television of the 80s'."

Angela: "Who are you going as?"

Ed: "Sigourney Weaver."

Angela: "Hmmm. I didn't have time to watch any films in the '80s - I was far too busy with parenthood."

Kearns: "Parenthood the film?"

[Silence.]

Breaking Newsom

The difference between meteors, meteorites and meteoroids, as sung by Joanna Newsom in her 12-minute album opener Emily:

"The meteorite is the source of the light,
And the meteor's just what we see;
And the meteoroid is a stone that's devoid of the fire that propelled it to thee.
And the meteorite's just what causes the light,
And the meteor's how it's perceived;
And the meteoroid's a bone thrown from the void, that lies quiet in offering to thee."

So there we go.

Cooking disasters #312

Stupid egg.

The stupid egg
Stupid frying pan.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Glutton for pun-ishment

The BBC is namedropping me like crazy. But when your puns are this good, how could they not?


On a roll

Schadenfreude

One of my contemporaries from school became a professional rugby player. One became a model. One became a poet. One became an actor.

Now I have another to add to the list: one has become a 'sleazy love rat'. I know this because I read it in The Sun newspaper. I had quite angry feelings about this guy at school, so it's rather gratifying to hear that he's been ridiculed by thousands of people online and in Britain's biggest selling newspaper. I didn't think there was such a thing as 'comeuppance' in real life.

Read all about it

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Grade Expectations

A lot of news words have been thrown today at Michael Grade's 'dramatic defection' from the BBC to ITV. It seems to be another one of those occasions when the media community bangs on about a story that interests them, with little regard for whether any of the non-media freaks - who do exist! - actually care.

It all reminds me a bit of a stupid News in Brief I wrote for our class newspaper The Goldmine back at Hack School. [The sound of shoehorning can be heard.]

Media 'too self-referential', say media
The media is too self-referential, according to an article published in The Telegraph on Wednesday. Media insiders told The Goldmine that the media had gone too far: "There are a ridiculously high number of media news stories about the media in the media," said one. The media reported itself to be unhappy about the comments.

There is one thing that earns Grade an A+ though. When it started back in 1986, Neighbours was originally only shown in the afternoon, but according to legend it was Grade (BBC Controller at the time) who got the Aussie soap its 5.35pm repeat, thanks to his daughter's annoyance about constantly missing it because of school. And it's kept that glorious not-afternoon-not-evening slot since 1988. Now at ITV, 'the Gradester', as no one calls him, is reportedly set to get a £1m a year salary. That's a fucking steal.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Pun of the week

The Mirror publishes new computer images showing unborn animals:

Womb with a zoo



More puns

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Cool down

I've been catching up on the NME a bit today. The music paper published their annual Cool List this week, which, as you've probably guessed, names their top 50 coolest pop stars.

The list puts the rather obscure Beth Ditto, lead singer of The Gossip, at No.1. When asked for her definition of cool, she says: "Anything that's not cool is cool." Ah, the neverending cool-not cool paradox: messing with cerebral rockstars' heads since 1957. But what's this? Jump back a couple of issues to November 4, and you'll find the mag's Long Blondes' album review confidently proclaiming:
Only a fool would argue that [Long Blondes singer Kate] Jackson - smart, sexy and chic - isn't the coolest pop star around right now. And if they did, she'd eat them for breakfast.

Looks like Jackson, who finds herself at No.7, will be heading over to NME Towers to do some breakfast-time fool-eating.


Behind NME lines

Friday, November 24, 2006

Well aisle be damned

Bit of a shock today: I got an email from a good friend of mine telling me he had got married. Admittedly, I haven't seen in a while (five months?), but still…

I responded immediately, possibly in the process forgetting to congratulate him. He replied to the news that my girlfriend was now living in the same city as me with a couple of excellent lines which reminded me why I like the old scoundrel so much. They are below.
"She may well close down whatever Batchelor’s Hall that you are keeping at present and throw out all of your catamites and gouty port bottles. Alas, this has certainly happened to this young squire."

Those are the headlines. God I wish they weren't

Probably not massively exciting if you don't know him, but I've obtained a clip of my friend Tadich screen-testing for a newsreading job. Worth watching to the end, if only for the climactic paper shuffling.



A previous attempt at 'video blogging'

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Investigating Infantjoy

Click here for reviewWhat's that? You're interested in reading an album review of With by electronica duo Infantjoy? I've got just the thing for you.

[And before you say it, yeah, I know, they really need a style guide.]


More reviews I wrote using
various combinations of words

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Lessons learnt from... Casino Royale

If poisoned, reach for salt cellar, water and home defibrillator.


More lessons learnt

John Cage

Today is No Music Day, according to ex-KLF man Bill Drummond. November 21, he says, should be a day where we avoid listening to music and instead think about what we want from it. As Drummond is both crazy and wise, I decide to do his bidding, to see what will happen.

8.45am: I leave home without my iPod, and as I walk the usual route to the tube, find myself unable to think in a straight line. Bits of songs keep coming on in my head and interrupting my chain of thought. The main one is Johnny Cash's cover of I'm Free From the Chain Gang Now: "For years I was known by a number / That I kept my mind is a wonder…" My brain is overcompensating horribly for the lack of melodic input. Too much music has broken my internal monologue. Now it sounds like a gaggle of deranged geese at a funfair.
Symptom: broken brain
Cause: music

11am: At work, the sound of Badly Drawn Boy's The Shining drifts over from someone's computer, and my hungry ears strain for it, before I realise that this is forbidden fruit. I close my mind.
Symptom: avarice
Cause: music

3pm: There is a moment of broken computer-related stress when I instinctively reach for my iPod, as I would reach for a cigarette in an awkward moment in the pub, or as I would reach for my piece when some lowdown hater disrespects one of my homies. But it is not there.
Symptom: addiction
Cause: music

5.10pm: I don't normally listen to music on the Underground – I drape my earphones over my right shoulder and around my neck, so they form a weird exterior vein that joins my upper body to my right hand trouser pocket. But without them I'm beginning to feel a new freedom.
Symptom: sense of freedom
Cause: lack of music

5.15pm: We stop at Baker Street and an unwashed man with his headphones turned up very loud gets on. His music clashes with the music coming from the headphones of the woman sitting behind me. I feel like a broken radio. I look out the window. A cartoon girl wearing headphones looks at me from a poster on the wall, a large smile on her face. The train starts moving. The next poster advertises a CD called Choral Classics. The next is for The Phantom of the Opera.
Symptom: paranoia
Cause: music

5.40pm: On the walk home, Boom by Akira the Don ft Bashy comes on in my head. "Everyday there's a riot up at E10," sings Bashy, over and over again. Then Mama Cass comes on: "You've got to… Play your own kind of music / Sing your own special song." I start thinking about the the great director Robert Altman, who has recently died. Echo and the Bunnymen's mid-90s comeback single Nothing Lasts Forever comes on in my head. I start thinking about Nashville, Altman's best film, which is, of course, focused around the country music scene.
Symptom: obsession
Cause: music

5.45pm: I get home and resist the temptation to put on the hi-fi as I take my hat scarf coat off. I go to the toilet and resist the temptation to whistle while I'm pissing. I go into the kitchen and resist the temptation to put on the radio while I make tea. Then I resist the temptation to hum. Then I resist the temptation to put the television on, as most programmes will have soundtracks. I switch the computer on – does the Windows start up noise count as music? I put my hands over my ears. I resist the temptation to start up iTunes. The internet isn't working – NTL should've fixed it days ago. I can't phone them though, because they'll put me on hold, which will involve listening to music. I look at the West Wing DVDs lying on the floor and think of the theme tune. I look at my guitar, which I'm now not allowed to play.
Symptom: cabin fever
Cause: music

6.25pm: I eat a Twix. It is delicious. "Things will be back to normal soon," I think, eyeing the CD rack.

Conclusion
Diagnosis: Music is evil and must be stopped
Cure: Twix bars


Another day dissected

Monday, November 20, 2006

Playing the game

Went to see a stage version of John Buchan's thrice-filmed The 39 Steps in the West End on Friday. The prodution was a lot of silly fun, and, with just four actors playing over 150 characters, also impressively professional. I think the word 'Pythonesque' has probably been devalued through overuse, so let's just say it was highly Pythonian.

Great opening too, as the hero Richard Hannay (played as a hammy "I say!" type English gent by Charles Edwards), ponders what to do with his evening. Trying to conceive of a "mindless and trivial" diversion, he suddenly announces "I know, a West End play!"

Reading up beforehand, I noticed a rather striking quote about the play on a ticket booking website:

"Exactly the thing the West End has been waiting for" The Observer

Erm, not quite. Thanks to The Guardian's liberal online archiving policy, it's quite easy to dig up the original review, which says this:

"It is its own strange small thing. Which could be exactly the thing the West End has been waiting for."

Sneaky. But then again, if the posters screamed "ITS OWN STRANGE SMALL THING", people probably wouldn't go and see it. Actually they probably would. People are idiots.


How journalism works

Thursday, November 16, 2006

More things to do. Stop saying I don't treat you nice

Do some free work for impoverished company Google. It's for the good of mankind! Play

Get up to date with Bathmatwatch; I've checked, and it's the best thing on the internet right now. Read

The unbelievably great band I saw on Tuesday. Listen

Sick of Borat? Here's some more. Watch

Search party

I know this is hopelessly unoriginal and I've done it before, but check out the search phrases that are sending people to this blog wot you're standing on. The world's gone mad!

  • similes on steve Irwin
  • chocolate covered heroin
  • funny boiler
  • russell brand polystyrene
  • "hip hop hip to the hippy"
  • goose thai
  • video agadir scandal
  • the biggest black box in existence. The website, which you realise is pretty good once you're in
  • flats tetralogy


ADDENDUM 17/11/06: send sms rice boiler

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Rolling with the puns

My tireless campaigning in the world of puns has been recognised once more. Wooooooooo.


Do you remember the first time?
More puns

Unstable

My attempts to cut down on smoking are going pretty well, apart from the 21 I had on Saturday night. I hope I don't get 'ironic lung cancer' though. That's the one where you give up cigarettes, but get cancer anyway, even though all your friends are hardcore smokers and in perfect health.

Sometimes I think the world is constantly devising methods to get us to die (global warming, leukaemia, knifings) and we're not really living, just constantly dodging death. But those kind of thoughts are stressful and dark, and the worry is likely to kill you.

I can't hope for a noble or honourable death – that kind of demise has been denied to my generation by the invention of nuclear warheads and life-support machines. But I wouldn't mind going like Desert Orchid, the famous British racehorse who snuffed it on Monday.

"There was no stress, he departed from this world with dignity and no fuss," said his former trainer. "He did his dying in the same individual way that he did his living. It was time to go."

Although if I die in a stable aged 27, I think I could justifiably feel a little bit cheated.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Dan pan

Things for you to say about the new James Bond, Daniel Craig:

"I preferred his early, arty stuff."

"He was far better in Our Friends in the North."

"For me, Enduring Love was his peak."

"His performance in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was sublime, far better than this 'Bond' nonsense."

The three ages of celebrity

1. Post-Madonna

2. Madonna

3. Prima Donna

Monday, November 13, 2006

Friday, November 10, 2006

Ghostsign of the times

Girlfriend's housemate's boyfriend, aka Ghostsign Sam, got some pics published in Time Out this week, as part of an article entitled Disappearing London.

Sam's been collecting pictures in London of 'ghost signs', with the noble intention of writing a book. Ghost signs, by the way, are those old skool style fading adverts you occasionally see on walls above shops (move your eyes leftwards for one of Sam's), reminders of an era when there were shops that weren't either Starbucks or Tescos. No, I didn't realise there was such a time either, but I've been assured there was.

Anyway, if you know the location of any good ghost signs or have a photo of your own that he could publish, drop Sam an email at ghostsigns@gmail.com. If your picture doesn't look like a piece of crap, you could be featured in his book!


Read the Time Out article

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Things to do. Don't say I don't treat you nice

More addictive than chocolate-coated heroin. Play

Record sleeves fight each other. Watch

Edmund writes about US elections and radiators. Read

The band I went to see last night. Listen

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Stern reprimand

Tonight I was supposed to go to a lecture at LSE with one of my right-on "let's change the world" vegetarian friends and Sarah, who come to think of it, is also a vegetarian and quite right-on. I'm not right-on. I'm wrong-on. Or a wrong 'un. Or right-off. Luckily I'm not wrong-off, that would be disastrous.

I'd mentioned my plans to Darren at work earlier in the day.
"What's the lecture?" he asked.
"Er, that Stern guy," I said.
At first he thought I was going to see Howard Stern, the US shock jock. But I meant Sir Nicholas Stern, he of The Stern Report (aka The Review of the Economics of Climate Change). We briefly reflected on the comic possibilities of an attendee expecting an hour of Howard wackiness and instead getting the studied sternness of Sir Nicholas.

Anyway, when we arrived at LSE this evening, disaster struck: the queue was massive and we couldn't get in. My right-on friend got there early and still didn't get to see it properly - she ended up watching the thing on video link-up in an adjacent lecture hall. I was annoyed about missing it. And for some reason, my annoyance was directed straight at Sir Nicholas Stern.

Me and Sarah wondered what we could do instead. I started fantasising about buying a massive gas-guzzling 4x4 and driving it around for the duration of the lecture picking off passing polar bears with an ivory-handle machine gun, before smashing the car into a rainforest and shouting, "FUCK YOU STERN! THIS'LL TEACH YOU TO DO YOUR TALKS IN UNDERSIZED LECTURE THEATRES!"


The Stern Report

Monday, November 06, 2006

Swing factor

So despite his recently-acquired dead man walking status, Saddam goes back to court tomorrow to be tried for more crimes against humanity. This time, he's charged with the killing of up to 100,000 Iraqi Kurds during his al-Anfal campaign.

Strangely though, there seems to be some uncertainty about whether the second part of the trial will completed. If the former dictator's appeal to a nine-judge chamber fails (count on it), then according to law, he must be executed within 30 days, which may not be enough time to finish the second trial. Leaving the Kurds - the ones that are left - with no closure on the events of 1988. Or is Saddam's death enough?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Who nose?

Is there such thing as a small nose? People with 'big noses' and 'normal noses' are easy to identify, but I've never pointed at anyone and said, "Hey, what a tiny nose that person has."

When I put this to an audience in the pub last night, there was scepticism. So I challenged those assembled to point out any nearby drinkers with undersize probosces. Ghostsign Sam nominated someone, but I vetoed it immediately because the person in question was small themselves, and so the nose appeared normal.

"Just another story"

And speaking of the Stone Roses, there was a lovely little anecdote from ex-Roses singer Ian Brown, speaking about The Clash, in last week's Observer. Here it is:

I was at the recording of Bankrobber. Me and my mate Pete Garner were walking down Granby Road in the middle of Manchester one day and we could hear these drums coming through the walls. Pete was a proper Clash fan and he was convinced it was them. Then Topper Headon walks out on to the street right in front of us!

He invited us downstairs into the studio to see what was going on. Mikey Dread was there and we got chatting. They were dead cool. Joe Strummer was sitting in the corner with a big, wide-brimmed hat on beneath this big grandfather clock, clicking his fingers in time to it. Paul Simonon asked us what our favourite film was and then said [affects authentic west London drawl]: 'Mine's Death Race 2000!' Funny, the things you remember. Afterwards, we showed Johnny Green, their tour manager, the way to the record shop and he bought two copies of London Calling - one for each of us. I'll never forget it.

Full article

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Jackson Five

I've always loved the line in that Stone Roses song that goes, "Yeah, she looks like a painting - Jackson Pollock's Number 5". Now, instead of being a clever cliche-twisting quip, it's got a whole new meaning: something like "she looks like a million dollars". Or, more accurately, $140m.


Going Down lyrics

Lessons learned from... Red Road

CCTV and stalking are key parts of the grieving process.


Other lessons I've learnt from films

Friday, November 03, 2006

Vexed in the City

I'm in an Ethiopian restaurant with Sarah, who's just moved down to London from Manchester. It's a great place, but I think the waitress has taken a dislike to me, because I hesitated before ordering and so inadvertantly prompted her to make a suggestion, which I then ignored as it involved pumpkin sauce. Which I can't imagine being very nice.

Sarah starts telling me how watching The Paul O'Grady Show feels wrong in London because the presenter's so northern. Apparently Sex and the City star Kim Cattrall was on it the other day, promoting her new book, Being a Girl.

"That's not a great title, is it?" I say. Then I have an amazing idea. "Let's try and think up titles for a Kim Cattrall autobiography!"

Sarah doesn't look overexcited. I pause. If I think of a really good one, maybe she'll appreciate how fun this game is going to be. "Lateral Cattrall!" I shout. She smiles, slightly.

I pause. More. "Lucky Kim!" I yell. The response is underwhelming. "Like Lucky Jim, see? Only with Kim."

I can do better, I know it. "The Secret of Kim?" I suggest. Probably no one remembers mouse-animation film The Secret of Nimh, so this isn't a great one.

"Kims O'Clock!" Brilliant. Both cheeky and silly, but with an added touch of class. But Sarah only smiles slightly.

"Kim City! Tiger Kim? Er, Kim and Vigour! Are you not liking these?" I ask, a bit worried.

"I didn't really understand them, I'm afraid," she says kindly.

"Oh," I say. I am a bit disappointed. There's a few moments of silence. But I have one more up my sleeve. "The Cattrall That Got the Cream!" I say, with a flourish. She laughs.

"I get that one," she says. I am happy.


Who the hell's Kim Cattrall?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Ttlly gr8 txts

Two text messages I've very much enjoyed in the last 24 hours.

1. From housemate Jamie, yesterday evening:
"Dude - your pic on p.45 of this week's NME"

2. From India Chris, this morning:
"Sitting at home with a cold feeling sorry for myself until I realised that I can now do a great Dwayne Bensey impression. I now don't want to get better."


An amazing factoid about text messages

Express yourself

The World's Greatest Newspaper (The Daily Express, natch) has an awesome front page today: "NOW CAMILLA HIDES POPPY | She IS wearing one, but you can't see it under Muslim scarf".

But why? Well, the splash nicely plays upon both the readership's anti-Islamic feeling and their World War 1 nostalgia, and rolls it all up into a Royal family 'story' which none of the other papers think is worth covering. Most cunningly of all, because it's critical of Camilla, it's also an implied Diana story.

And look at that headline wording: what do they mean by 'now'? Ostensibly it's the fact that the Duchess forgot to wear a poppy earlier in the week. But it also means: first she had the gall to marry the future King of England while Diana's corpse was warm, now this.


Front page here

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Wimbo pics

Some more Wimborne weekend pictures, from the gloomy to the uplifting to the dour.

Glum angelsCheer up, gloomy angels!


Hello sky, hello butterflyHello plant, hello sky, hello butterfly!


Good ol' Wimborne MinsterWimborne Minster, glowering

Separated at birth

One's a grumpy bastard, one's a grumpy bastard, and the other you probably haven't heard of. Uncanny.



More slightly dubious lookalikes

Monday, October 30, 2006

The whole tooth

This weekend, I went back to Wimborne, my home town, and spent £161 at the dentist. I feel like Martin Amis. But without the literary talent, misguided penchant for 9/11 reimaginings, or letter from Julian Barnes telling me to fuck off. Anyway, my teef have now been scaled to the max, and my first-ever filling hangs snugly in the top-back-right corner of my mouth, like a stumpy stalagtite in a dripping and echoey cave.

The rest of my weekend was sandwiched between the two dentist appointments like a ketchup-splattered slice of smoked enamel. On Saturday, I went to look round stately home Kingston Lacy, which was the family seat of the Bankes family from the 17th century. It's got quite a history - Pitt the Younger and the Duke of Wellington both stayed there at some point - and it was pimped by Sir Charles Barry, who also 'did' the Houses of Parliament. The house is filled with cool bric-a-brac, including the keys to Corfe Castle, and rather unexpectedly, paintings by Van Dyck, (Jan) Brueghel the Younger, and a nice pair of Titians (okay, I'm lying, there was only one, but they should buy in another just so people can use the 'nice Titians' gag with impunity).

Kingston Lacy, obviously
After that, popped over to Badbury Rings, our local iron age hill fort. Communed with the spirits of the past, took a photo of a sheep. That place rocks.

In case you're worried all this history talk is signalling that the Electric Goose is getting high-brow and worthy, here's Kate Winslet in yesterday's Sunday Times:

"With All the King's Men, in which there was a little bit of nudity, I thought, 'Well, that's it; my nudity days are over... Then I read the script of Little Children and thought, 'This is really good, but there's lots of nudity in it.' I knew the film wouldn't work if those scenes weren't there though.'"

Now answer me this: are there any films in which La Winslet doesn't get naked?

Ms Winslet, clothed

Friday, October 27, 2006

Goethe on cabbage

"It is good that my heart can feel the simple and innocent pleasure a man knows when the cabbage he eats at table is one he grew himself; the pleasure he takes not only in eating the cabbage but in remembering all those good days, the fine morning he planted it, the mellow evenings he watered it and the delight he felt in its daily growth."
The Sorrows of Young Werther, Goethe

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Pretentious?

What I've been up to: yesterday I ate some M&S Madagascar Vanilla Lakemead Yoghurt, then I went to the Velazquez exhibition at the National Gallery.

I WIN.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Smoking / sprinting

My smoking habit vacillates rapidly between controlled abstinence and wild excess. I'm like a top sprinter who never does any exercise: most of the time I don't 'train' (smoke) at all, but I'm always conscious there's a 'race' (big night out / awkward social occasion) looming, in which I'll suddenly find myself warming up (fishing a cigarette lighter out of the drawer), putting my special running shoes on (going to the shop to buy ten Marlboro Lights) and competing on a world stage (smoking a lot of cigarettes in a short space of time). Of course, before the big races that I compete in actually take place, I occasionally think of doing some practice (having the odd fag) and the thought does excite me a little. But it's usually only the presence of other long-time fellow athletes (friends who I've always shared a cigarette break with) who make me want to get back in shape (give myself lung cancer).

My beliefs

I believe that journalism can change the world. I believe in moral integrity. I believe that in these times, more than ever we need strong opinions, questioning minds and daring writing. It is imperative that writers stand up for their values and put pen to paper with no regard for word counts or paycheques. That is why I have written a piece that no one else had the gall to write. This is the story the world needed to hear. Read it now.

Instant Messenger conversation

Hit It and Quit It says:
How's your French?

Sir Tim Berners Lee says:
Il y a assez bientot

Sir Tim Berners Lee says:
J'ai dire le Frencais tres peu

Hit It and Quit It says:
Wanna move to Paris and share an apartment? France Today TV are recruiting

Sir Tim Berners Lee says:
Yeah okay. Meet me outside the Louvre on Friday afternoon

Sir Tim Berners Lee says:
Bring a beret

Hit It and Quit It says:
C'est vraiment!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Hot Fuzz

This will be phat.

Bolt Action 5 / Dan Sartain / Back to the Future 3

On Saturday I went to see the band Angry Tom manages, Bolt Action 5. There are, of course, only four of them. They are all ridiculously young, look amazing, and have a healthy love of drum machines. A good sign: when they finished, there were girls queuing up to speak to them. That's not a metaphor: they were literally queuing. Their first single's going to be released on Tom's new label, the excellently-named No Pain in Pop (tagline: "I'm not going to lie to you, we're kind of a big deal"). Have a listen here.

This afternoon housemate Jamie, who I have unfairly maligned in this very weblog for the outrageous work perks he gets, got us guestlisted for Dan 'bring your gun and I'll bring my knife' Sartain at the Barfly. I can't be bothered writing an overlong encomium describing how ace it was, so I'll just say 'that man totally rocks'.

Dan Sartain
He has something of the Steve Buscemi about him,
don't you think? Check out the bassist, what a beard.


Excited drinking boys standing behind us: "This is amazing. It's only 3.30 in the afternoon and we're well on the way."

Dan SartainDan loves his snakes. Turn round and face me Sartain!

On the way home I bought some t-shirts from Camden market. I couldn't resist them, I'm sorry.

T-shirts

As we neared home, I suggested to Jamie we watch Back to the Future. We'd both seen the first film the other week, but as we were both exhausted and needed something light, we went for number three in the series as I thought the second film would probably be too complicated.

I've said before that re-watching the Back to the Future films is great, as there's always something new to spot. This time was no exception. When Doc's about to send Marty back to the 1885 Wild West, he says, "And remember, where you're going, there are no roads." A clever echo of the final line of the first film ("Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads"). Fantastic.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Watch us wreck the Nike

Great stuff from my friend Angry Tom who writes, in an email:
Went to a Nike focus group last night. Heads of Nike Europe watched us from a balcony. They were not impressed with me. Rich's brother organised it. Afterwards he told me: "They wanted some rocawear-loving rude men. Instead they got you clowns. If I ran Nike Europe and I flew in from Amsterdam to listen to you tell him that his new sportswear range looked like Alan Partridge in Flashdance and I'd paid couple of grand for the privilege, I'd be pissed off too."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Headline of the week

Story about how the Daily Mail newspaper ended up looking silly after publishing two contradictory stories on Romania in the same issue:

Mail impaled on its mania for Romania


Full story

Hazy Sunday afternoon

My memories of Saturday night are dreamlike and muddled, and still – even this late in the game - dripping back into my head. I got to a house party at around midnight. And after that, I'm remember these things happening:

  • Sitting on the stairs while a slightly distressed looking girl told me over and over again about the time she saw a UFO. "It looked very much like a black binbag, but it was flying above the height that black binbags can fly – and it was moving with real purpose."
  • Telling all and sundry that Rachel Steven's Sweet Dreams My LA-Ex was "the best pop song of the past ten years"
  • Asking a bespectacled hippy what 'life story version B' was and being told he worked for the cheese mafia in Switzerland. Asking if he was Swiss. "No, I'm Australian." Then telling him that I didn't like Australians
  • Lying on Chris's bed listening to songs from Tamil movies and smoking Royals
  • Shouting about the special fuchsia t-shirt range
  • The whole house party stopping for two New Zealanders to do the Haka in the centre of the lounge
  • Getting home around 3.30am and finding the front door of our house wide open
  • Eating a pork pie and switching on the TV to see John McCririck lying in bed drinking champagne and being berated by Edwina Currie

Actually, scratch that last one, it seems far too unlikely. But what's going on? Whenever I go out properly these days, I have nights that turn weird. It's great! Here's one. And here's another (from an email to housemate Jamie):

My Akira the Don interview all went a bit gonzo, and turned into a surreal Shoreditch drinking session. I can remember joining him behind the decks to tell him that Meatloaf's Bat out of Hell made me cry once, and some girl asking me what my star-sign was, and a band whose singer looked like Garth Marenghi, and the guy who ran the record label drawling "there's free tequila at the bar". Oh, and someone smacking me with some mini bondage whip as I left. But there's still much haziness. And Akira kept introducing me to people as 'William' because I’d said I had a special affinity to the Smiths' song William, It Was Really Nothing.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Stockwell Flats: Beckett House

"Then I went back into the house and wrote, It is midnight. The rain is beating on the windows. It was not midnight. It was not raining."
Samuel Beckett, Molloy






Stockwell flats slideshow

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Blair flair

The scene: Prime Minister's Questions this afternoon. Tory leader David Cameron reads out comments the PM made in January in which Tony Blair said he was happy for Gordon Brown to succeed him.

"Do you still think that today?" Cameron asks.

Blair hesitates, then - waiting for the wild jeering from Conservative MPs to die down - eventually says: "I don't resile from anything I've said."

[re‧sile  /rɪˈzaɪl/
–verb (used without object), -siled, -sil‧ing.
1. to spring back; rebound; resume the original form or position, as an elastic body.
2. to shrink back; recoil.]


There is a school of thought that says Blair is a complete legend. Today they will be rejoicing. Resile!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Jarvcast

It's strange to say, but there's something incredibly reassuring about Jarvis Cocker reading Icelandic folk tales to you on a Sunday night in winter. I strongly recommend you get the first four Jarvcasts from iTunes, or you can download the first two from JarvSpace. I have a particular fondness for Jarvcast 3, because it features him repeatedly saying the word 'bulb', which reminds me of both my girlfriend and Karl Pilkington.

In other news, North Korea have conducted their first nuclear test and scientists are saying that for the rest of 2006 mankind will be living beyond its environmental means. But having listened to the Jarvis stories, I'm like, "Yeah, whatever."

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Quiet life

Whenever I'm knackered and just want a quiet Saturday and Sunday relaxing, it'll get to Friday and someone at work will ask me what I'm up to at the weekend.

"I'm knackered, so I'm gonna stay in and do nothing," I'll have to say, and the acquaintance - who won't realise I've had a particularly sociable and tiring week - will raise their eyebrows and think, "He has no mates and nothing to do. What a loser."

Possible solution 1. Instead of saying I plan to "do nothing", I could go into more detail and name every little thing I'm aiming to do. So: "I'm knackered, so I'm just going to try and watch Oldboy, Apt Pupil, 2046, In the Mood for Love and a bit of That Mitchell and Webb Look. Then read some of Hisham Matar's In the Country of Men, a bit of Girl With a One Track Mind by Abby Lee, and Cornelius Medvei's Mr Thundermug. Might pop to the shops to buy a picture frame, probably after I've had fish and chips for lunch and hoovered the lounge. It'll probably also involve aimlessly playing a bit of guitar when I feel the boredom closing in. And you?"

Possible solution 2. Give more precise excuses for why I'll be "doing nothing". "For me, this week has been dominated by the kind of lascivious wasailing I've hitherto only dreamt of, featuring friends of all ages, genders and colours, old and new, celebrity and hermit. I've probably only had a total of 14 minutes' sleep since 1992, so I'll probably stay in, for the first time, well, ever actually. You?"

Retronyms

I've learnt a fun new word: 'retronym'. A retronym describes an item renamed because of the arrival of a newer version which renders its label outdated or no longer unique. So, 'World War One' is a retronym, because it wasn't called that until World War Two came along. As are 'acoustic guitar', 'black and white TV', 'Before Christ' and 'silent film'.

Here are some less obvious ones, which I enjoyed:

- Forward slash: before MS-DOS introduced the backslash ( \ ), what we now call the forward slash was known simply as 'a slash'
- George HW Bush: Bush Senior didn't use his initials publicly until his son Dubya became President
- Cold-water tap: it was just 'the tap' before the invention of the water heater


More retronyms here

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Damn his eyes

First he got to go to dinner in Paris. Then they sent him for a long weekend of clubbing in Ibiza. Today, there's another one to add to the list of places my bastard housemate has got to go 'for work': Nashville. Grrr.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Cameron chameleon?

After David Cameron's first conference speech as party leader, we take a look at the man who over the last year has taken the phrase 'jack of all trades' to a whole new level, from Dave the dad to Cameron the carpenter.
Read article...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Lessons learned from... An Inconvenient Truth

Al Gore is, like, totally cool.


Other lessons learned

Saluting Sartain

Dan Sartain - he's the new Johnny Cash. Or the next Jack White. Or something. Read my very gushing review of his album Join Dan Sartain here, why don't you.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Top of the corpse

Today it was revealed that James Blunt's Goodbye My Lover is, according to the Bereavement Register, the most requested song for funerals. How depressing.

For some reason, I've always had quite a firm idea of the tunes I'd like played at my funeral; I even created a playlist called "Will's funeral" on my housemate's computer featuring the songs I want. Just in case something happened to me and some cack-handed acquaintance ended up choosing their own music. There's not much reasoning behind these (no resonant lyrics, a la Candle in the Wind), they're just songs I couldn't do without. They are:

1. Visions of Johanna - Bob Dylan
2. Typical Girls - The Slits
3. Duchess - Scott Walker

Come on then, what are yours?

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Welcome to the neighbourhood

Bit of a Saturday morning surprise for me. I walk out the front door, iPod-clad, listening to Arthur Grimiaux's sublime rendition of Mozart's Violin Concerto in G major. I open the door and the stink hits me. Someone's shat on our doorstep. There's a messy thick slab of shit smeared on the tiles outside the front door, covered in flies, which spring up as I come out.

I skip over it and make my way to the Post Office, checking other people's doorways on the way to see if they got hit too. They're all offensively clean. Maybe we were the victims of a racist attack from BNP members? But then, I'm white, and so is everyone else in the other flats. Perhaps someone from Flat 1 or 3 is responsible, laying it down as some kind of totemistic warning to burglars? (I'm thinking back to the bottle of piss incident). But then I get back home and see the discarded pair of tracksuit bottoms lying forlornly next to our bins.

***

I don't understand why people dislike Chris Martin, the Coldplay singer. I see why some might hate the music (though I don't), but as a human being, Martin always comes across as witty, friendly and – most strikingly – still both surprised and grateful to find himself in the position he's reached.

Martin, who's appearing in next week's episode of Extras, is responsible for one of my favourite quips of recent times. On Ricky Gervais's Video Podcast 4 (free from iTunes), the comedian is asking him serious of spurious questions ("Now, you like to buy clothes made in third world sweatshops because they're cheaper. Do you prefer Chinese or Indian-made stuff?"). Martin's answers are all fantastically deadpan, but this is the best:

Gervais: Now, at the Conservative Party conference a few years ago, you made a rousing speech, saying that if Labour banned foxhunting, you'd leave the country. You did leave, but now you're back. Isn't that hypocritical?
Martin: I just came back to get some stuff. To get my hunting gear. I came back to get two guns and a knife.

***

Anyway, I'm off to clear up the shit now.