Saturday, December 31, 2005

Casyn's back, but with sad news

Awh, I really loved spotting this "Who's-That-Guy?" and proudly outlining his CV as Jenny's uncle (Buffy: Season 2) and Lanny (X-Files: Humbug) and the subway ghost (Ghost) and enjoying how well-employed he was.

And now he's dead. Shucks.

Clare's Christmas

Read all about it. Awh, bless, I hope she's feeling better now (but is the Tardis still whirring...?)

Stickers and bookshops

Psst... new bookshop blog that's really good.

And says wise words about book stickers.

And while I'm on a rant, please can someone recommend how in bookshop starved Nottingham I can actually visit real life INDEPENDENT bookshops without having to hire long-distance travel facilties? We have H20Boulders, WHSugar-selling-books-for-a-lark, copious remainder stores, barely a couple of non-antiquarian 2nd-hand shops within just-about trekking distance, and perhaps at a push non-chain stores who STILL only sell the mainstream pap that Waterstones do. Oh yeah, and a couple of Oxfam book stores. There are the specialist stores like the glorious Page 45 for all my graphic novels needs, but sometimes a girl needs more...

I'm sorry, but for a city the size of Nottingham that is just CRAP and I want to know if I am just ignorant and stupid or if the bastards are hiding the bloody decent bookshops or if they just do not exist and I must find ways to get out of the sort of place where clearly there is a Bill Hicks sketch mentality to life:
I'm eating and I'm reading a book. Fine. Right. Waitress comes over to me (chewing), "What you reading for?" Now, I said, "Wow, I've never been asked that. Goddang it you stumped me. Not what am I reading, but what am I reading for? I guess I read for a lot of reasons, but one of the main so I don't end up being a fucking waffle waitress. That's pretty high on the list." Then, this trucker in the next booth gets up, stands over me and says, "Well, looks like we got ourselves a reader"....
Please, someone, make my 2006: find me the LOCAL bookshop that is staffed by people who actually LIKE books and are happy to order me stuff and recommend me goodies... I want to support small providers as I do for music. Make my 2006 an Indie BookShop Happy Year.

Probably the last read of 2005

For Xmas, my lovely Celeste got me a copy of "How I live now" by Meg Rosoff and I finished reading it yesterday with tears in my eyes.

Although some found it irksome that there was a lack of detail about the War that forms the crucial backdrop to Rosoff's novel, for me this perfectly captured the self-absorbed sense of teenagehood and especially of it being the incomprehensible 'thing' that interrupts the relationships of teenagehood.

A beautifully brief read with matter-of-fact horrors and pleasures in uneven abundance. Not the "classic" some have proclaimed it to be (that word should be banned from being offered to anything not yet 10 years past, however well deserved), but nevertheless a touching piece of writing with a magnificent central character in Daisy. Worth reading if you haven't already.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Cloud's shirts

Cloud likes a nice party shirt, so we went to the centre of Nottingham today to meander for a cheap bargain. One of the first stop-off's was at Ark, purveyors of my very fine black fitted Ramones T-shirt (apologies Ark, but there are no pics of your particular version online), where Cloud picked up a stripey BROWN shirt. Admittedly, it was nice but at £40 a bit beyond his purchase range (yes, we are that tight). It also had rather nice double cuffs. Unfortunately, not only was the price enough to make us twitch but Cloud's remark as he picked it up also spurred me to plead 'no' to the purchase:
"Very David Tennant"
Cloud, have you any idea how much schtick I would get for agreeing to dress you in clothes that could finely hang off the body of David T....???!!!

"You're like a department for experimental comedy"

As said by George to the lovely Cloud. After Cloud had spotted that George had new glasses, Cloud followed up with this joke/comment/surrealistic humour remark:
So I'm an observ rather than a ten
Cue Rullsenberg pulling her "huh" face until Cloud adds:
Think about it folks....

Hence the remark about experimental comedy.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Marie is saved by the prepubescent posse

Just what was ordered: The Doctor...

Phew: we had been worried after her Bro's shout-out in the comments, but it seems that the new target audience for Doctor Who does have its upsides.

And as for this:
"...there was a point where I really didn't think it could get any better - and then he put his Jarvis Cocker specs on..."
...well, you can probably all see my grin from wherever you are in the world! I say again: works for me...

Cloud in work...

... so that must mean that I get to watch "These Boots are Made for Walking"...

Yes, after my gift from Helen Lisette turned into a much needed goat, I opted for the self-Santa technique of present buying.

Monday, December 26, 2005

The festive film and music fest at chez Rullsenberg

Xmas Eve was taken very easy after the excitement of Cloud finishing work on the Friday. Rise up and buy some essentials from an all-too-busy local Co-Op store, and then back for a wealth of CD playing (not in order of playing):

Starsailor: Love is Here
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Eels: Electro-Shock Blues
Jam: Compact Snap
Gram Parsons: GP / Grievous Angel
The Trojan Story Vol 2 (2 disc set)
Now Hear This! (Word Collection 35)
John Peel's Festive 15 (from Uncut magazine)
Tortoise: Standards
Born in the USA: Vol 1 The Great American Songbook (from Mojo magazine)
Ben Folds: Rockin' the Suburbs

Brilliant stuff and suitably eclectic.

We then shifted to the TV to kick off Xmas day with the noir classic The Big Sleep. Every bit as good as I remembered and Cloud thoroughly enjoyed it too. Snappy dialogue to die for (as several characters do).

We then treated ourselves to as much of Casablanca as we could squeeze in before vanishing to our neighbours: it was timed just right for me and Cloud to blub furiously at the roulette scene, sharply intake our breath at how Rick tells Laszlo "ask your wife", sob even more dramatically at The Marseillaise, and laugh aloud at Capt. Renault's wonderful chutzpah of "I'm shocked, I tell you, shocked...." and the delivery of his winnings. Beautiful stuff.

Then, as mentioned, it was off to our neighbours. It was great fun to spend time with them - despite crying, burping baby dolls (yes, they are that age) - not least because we were given a gingerbread house, a tea spread of delights, and watched Madagascar. By the end, yep, as predicted, we were singing and bopping "I like to move it"...

Then, as the tidy-up after pudding finished and the girls were back with the screaming, crying, burping, rasperberry-blowing dolls, I glanced at my watch: yes, my inner alarm clock must have gone off as my (must be running a couple of mins fast) watch read 7pm! Yikes! Thankfully I had warned my neighbours that I was due to be a really unsociable guest and they grinned as I took off out the door.* Our TV came on just as the pre-comment trailer finished...


What can I say about The Christmas Invasion except that it was funny, touching and exciting. It built nicely on the hints from the CiN special and moved us on from CE's performance in the best way possible. "Missed me?" Oh lordy... sweetie, only the lack of a TV signal would have stopped me from missing you.

[Note: reading the plea from Marie's bro in the comments to this post - another gem btw from her - reminded me of when Gentlemen's Relish was scheduled a few years ago. For some reason the TV signal for the BBC went down and at one point it seemed that I would have to phone around the country to locate someone on another transmitter to tape it for me. It all worked out, but I was having kittens for a while].

After that excitement, we had to find something to watch so it was into the pressies to locate Sneakers, a long-time favourite of me and Cloud, if only for the line in response to wanting "peace on earth and goodwill to all men":
We're the United States Government - we don't do that sort of thing!
Hee. Fab entertainment.

To round things off, we then dropped in on one of our favourite episodes of Black Books: another of our stocking fillers. To those who know the series, it's from season 1 and features "the man in his hair", the arsehole who reads the shipping news on radio 4 ("he confuses me"), and the ever-reliable to make me laugh aloud sight of Dylan Moran as a rather disgruntled red and white striped dwarfish member of staff in a burger bar. BWAH!

And so to bed... today has been mostly loading to i-Tunes day. And repeatedly playing the Calla track. I love my computer perhaps even more than Radio 6. But not as much as Cloud... obviously...

* Of course I wrote a profuse apology for being a poor guest after it had finished, but woah. I'd been waiting since the summer for this!

What's not to love?

I love 6 Music: Calla - It Dawned on Me (a favourite on 6 Music for what seems like forever but not yet a "hit"; very baffling, though you can hear it on the band's site); straight into Rufus Wainwright - The Art Teacher (annoying cut short on the last line: you lose marks for that error); and then Cake - The Distance (favourite of the blog-departed Wolf). Well all that works for me.

Friday, December 23, 2005

The West Wing Season 6, Casanova and Marie

Lacking the ability to have Freeview in my house - unless we wish to view the special pixilated version - I do not have to worry about missing out on the West Wing season 6, especially as I smartly purchased it for my friend Helen Lisette for her birthday. I also have a working video recorder and a DVD copy of Casanova (ooh yes).

Thus I do not share Marie's predicament regarding clashes of channels, bad mullet haircuts and not owning the DVD.

Marie: I think you should assume that if your family failed to take the necessary hints for Xmas, me and Rosby will shake tins to raise the cash to buy you a copy of Casanova for you to watch all for yourself...

Hmm... guess what I have been doing tonight?

Apart from drinking wine and being invited by the neighbours to join them to watch Madagascar on Xmas afternoon with their children (NB have already declared need to be back home by 6.55pm sharp)...

well, of course the evening was centred on the need to balance watching "Dead Ringers" against the start of Jonathan Ross...

Hee. DR was worth watching just for the line delivered by 'Christopher Eccleston':
I was intense: you're just Jarvis Cocker in space
Hee hee hee. As a huge Pulp and Jarvo fan I couldn't resist giggling "well, that works for me", recalling the line from the article in the Grauniad last January:
Tennant does admit to one D-list fantasy: Celebrity Stars In Their Eyes. "I'd like to be Jarvis Cocker; he's my karaoke favourite."
But swiftly on to the main attraction...

That red velvet suit...

Dude, I don't know how you choose your wardrobe, but it made you look especially Jarvis-esque (again I say, no bad thing!): ultra lanky - man, that's a good crossing of the legs pose ya have there - and though his hair looked a little well-controlled for some people's liking (I doubt I would be the only one to say a good ruffle was crying out to be made), he did, in the words of the texts I received afterwards look "hot".

Somehow requiring mucho laying down now...

That should be lying down...

Nope, think I was right the first time...

Forthcoming releases from the BBC

Not only the glorious recent version of Bleak House, but also the classic drama Mr Wroe's Virgins (featuring the lovely Kathy Burke - one of the first times she was taken as being more than just the Enfield/Whitehouse sidekick: heart-rending), plus This Life...

Find 'em all here for release in 2006.

I may have broadband now but...

... I still some sort of Xmas break.

So, to be on the safe side I will say that blogging for the next few days will be, could be, may be, maybe not, a little light.

Usually when I say that, my posting rate increases massively!

But even so, I should really have a little r&r...

Much to do house wise - the annual scrub and sort out is underway and as usual all that happens is I get as far as the kitchen and faced by mountains of paperwork everwhere else, give up and put on a Buffy episode... I'm teetering on the brink of that as we speak hvaing been seduced to take the washing upstairs to dry and seeing the computer...

Merry Christmas folks: be seeing ya!

Swearing and the dial-a-rant offer

If you don't like the language then avoid (though I would have to ask you what you're doing here!) but this post and exchange in the comments between Rob and Clare is brilliant. I demand a rant-line!

That Turkey card

Passed on from the lovely John at C&S, who despite his threats is thankfully still posting...

Now dance along and sing!

Marie's ability to overlook the geekiness

Priceless stuff as ever from the wonderful Marie.

First she read this (the link can get a bit wibbly - well it did on Marie's site - so if you have problems go to The Word is Not Enough and scroll to find posts for 21 December: trust me when I say you will not struggle to identify which post we are on about...)

Anyway, having read this, Marie considered whether the knowledge would put her off.

And the collective decision?

27 series and counting: she's in...

Morons can vote too

As this proves...

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Lord Tennant's waspish nature

Ah the joys of computers... (click the Watch BBC News button top right).

Not the most riverting interview - BBC breakfast news is hardly known for that - but he does cross his legs nicely, his repetition of the word "waspish" was priceless, and the fact that the clip is headed (ambiguously in my reading) as "Time Lord Tennant speaks about role" * is just iceing on the cake...

* I first read this as "Time (that) 'Lord Tennant' speaks about role". Bit presumptive I thought.... made a Lord already...

Weblog awards

Norm won, but sadly Troubled Diva was further down the pack in the LGBT category. Shame. But congrats to Norm...

Ben Folds: Anna explains it all

I've been remarkably neglectful of linking to the lovely Anna of late: let me rectify that with a link to her wonderful new post on Ben Folds.

He really should be better appreciated...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

That MyQuiz thing

Well it kept me going whilst waiting for my journey home...

Take my Quiz on!

Season's Greetings in case I do not get chance to send individual mails

You may enjoy these.

Deer 1

Deer 2

You may think them irksome but I do find them strangely amusing (have your sound on the computer and click away!)

Wishing you all the very best for the season ----

Lisa of the Rullsenberg

PS do not panic: this is not intended to be my final post before Xmas, I'm just catching the last delivery date ;)

BBC sneaks out mild comedy drama

Well, bringing out a new series one week before Christmas hardly suggests they expect great things - audiences will meander away, schedules will be disrupted - but that's a bit of a shame, because I've certainly seen worse material than Chopratown.

It's in the tradition of mild comedy dramas so beloved by British TV, but there is something refreshing about watching something where ethnic diversity is evident rather than hidden. And for the discussion about the "Hindu Liberation Front" (actually for taking little old ladies out of the area) and the line "we revere cows; we don't take them on day trips to Margate", it was well worth the price of entry.

Writing essays the undergraduate way

Norm and Cloud all got in before me, but you have to read some of the gems in this piece by Anders Henriksson and reprinted by Jeff Weintraub. Put together from undergraduate essays, it has some priceless gems re-writing history. I laughed ruefully at a lot of it, but this caught my eye:
Russian nobles wore clothes only to humour Peter the Great. Peter filled his government with accidental people and built a new capital near the European boarder. Orthodox priests became government antennae.
Reminds me of the classic line that appeared in one undergraduate essay I marked:
“Films became such an influence on people, and more and more women were on the street.”
To this day I have no idea what the student was intending to say...

Well I found it funny...

...sick, but funny...

Guess what I'm gonna try and listen to tonight?

Perhaps this?

How little has changed: fat is still a feminist issue

Go read this.

Not on Norm's Christmas book list

You can see why...

The latest hit song

...from Marie. [now updated with chords to play along with!]

I'm definitely singing along to that one!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Posts on books

Hmm... couple of good posts by the HolyHoses crew on books.

First up is Simon-le-Bon on finishing books (no, Kara, I don't think he's that one: but note I did recall the accusation that you were a Durannie)

The second is HolyHosesRob on genre-defying reading, amongst other things book related.

Both good stuff.

On Fashion

I am so glad we have Marie to cover these debates!

I'm self-memeing the "Seven things"

I've read a few, including Bloggers4Labour, so thought I would try this out...

Seven things to do before I die
1) learn a foreign language sufficiently well to read and converse with native speakers (not just school level "la sange dans l'arbre")
2) clear my clutter and get organised
3) keep a plant alive for more than 12 months by intention and not accident
4) get something published and read by more than two people
5) see either the Northern or Southern lights
6) ride a horse
7) make a difference to the world

Seven things I cannot do
1) ride a bike
2) be bothered wearing make-up on a daily basis
3) stop being loud on a regular basis
4) get out of bed as early as I should do
5) be properly awake within the hour after I have got out of bed
6) not try and help people however inadequate my assistance may be (I just have to try)
7) not take responsibility, even when things aren't my fault

Seven things that attract me to my spouse significant other
1) his intellect
2) his taste in music
3) his politics and ideological belief
4) his eyes
5) his interest in books and reading
6) his sense of humour
7) his love of me despite all my faults

Seven things I say most often
1) a swear word (take your pick - I could fill all seven slots this way: my ability to swear prodigously in a manner not unlike that of Hugh Grant in the out-takes for Two Weeks Notice* is nigh legendary. NB inanimate objects are the most common recipiants of my ire)
2) sorry
3) it's important to break tasks down (NB I think that may be work related)
4) woah mama!
5) cuppa tea please
6) just checking my mail
7) majorly random (recent addition to vocabulary, but regularly in use: am sure that's some "slayer slang" I've been inspired to...)

Seven books I can regularly re-read
1) Stone Junction - Dodge
2) House of Leaves - Danielewski
3) The Collected Dorothy Parker
4) His Dark Materials - Pullman
5) Maiden Speech - Eleanor Brown
6) Sonnets to the Portuguese - Elizabeth Barrett Browning
7) Ways of Seeing - Berger

Regulars may spot an item listed here and here does not appear: I'm taking that one to be like Desert Island Discs. Besides, my version needs muscles to lift it off the shelf.

Seven movies I watch over and over again
1) Twelve Monkeys
2) True Romance
3) This Year's Love
4) Fight Club
5) Defence of the Realm (watched this weekend in fact: damn fine film)
6) Marathon Man
7) Casablanca

That's a very selective list based on my recall for this moment: I could change my mind again soon.

Seven people I want to join in
Look, folks, I get it: you're probably sick of memes. Tag yourself if you want to...!

* this extract from a DVD review of the film's extras should help:
Two Bleeps Notice is the best. Several attempts at scenes, that go wrong, followed by a lot of swearing. Hugh Grant has a favourite word that is very obvious here. It is a good word and I think it will now make a reappearance in my vocabulary after seeing this featurette. I am unconvinced how this language is allowed in a film with a certificate of 12A so I would not be surprised at all if the BBFC suddenly reclassify this. Funniest two and a half minutes of the DVD.


Hmmm... thanks to Norm for passing this on from the Guardian. I'm not a great Tatchell fan - though he can have his moments - but I did find this intriguing.
It's wrong to deny legal rights to close friends who have a strong, supportive bond, just because they are not lovers and don't have sex.

Similar legislation exists in Tasmania. Legal rights are granted to all relationships of mutual devotion and support, including gay couples, carers and unmarried heterosexual partners. It works Down Under; why not here?

As well as allowing people to nominate any significant person in their life, my civil-commitment pact would offer flexibility and choice. Partners could pick and mix from a menu of rights and responsibilities. Rights concerning tax contributions and social-security benefits would have to be linked together to prevent people claiming the benefits of relationship registration and avoiding the costs. Otherwise, there is no reason why two people should not be free to construct their own unique partnership agreement, tailored to their needs.

We see around us a huge variety of relationships and lifestyles. There are couples who live together, and those who live apart. Some share their finances; others maintain financial independence. The law should reflect and support these diverse relationship choices. The one-size-fits-all model of relationship recognition - exemplified by marriage and civil partnerships - is no longer appropriate.
What do others think? Personally, as someone who has been in a long-term relationship for a long time, I think that some greater flexibility of establishing "legal commitments" would be helpful. But surely a lot of this is covered by making a will? However, there are the problems of information exchange and pension rights - legislation has SO not caught up with these. Surely there could be some kind of document that could encompass such issues? Its a topic that clearly deserves further debate, despite - or maybe even because - of the recent legislation change in the UK.

Joe's eatery and a great garden

Hmmm... something is wrong... how come our garden never looks as good as Joe's? Oh yeah, it could be because we have no green thumb between us both...

Those nibbles in the process of cooking look good too...

Good job it is cold weather

... and this didn't happen any closer to Xmas.

Our fridge freezer decided it would be more fun to pump out warm air.


Watching the Children in Need Doctor Who special

Hee... the power of connections... thanks to Helen Lisette I at last managed to indulge in multiple viewings of the CiN special mini-episode of Doctor Who...

Poor Rose: I would have been confused as well... though that whole taking her by the hand thing: awh, sweet!

Roll on Xmas day!

The play tried to go on...

Gem from EineKleineRob.

Too funny to describe, but am sure my theatre working friend could regale with similar tales!

Friday, December 16, 2005


Let's put the anthropomorphism aside: as much as I love Morgan Freeman's voice, I don't think having "the voice of God" on the voice-over helped alleviate some of the syrupy human emotions attributed to the creatures. Despite this issue, it was hard to not be charmed by "March of the Penguins."

Perhaps it is the way they seem to groan when they fall or crash into each other; perhaps it is the sheer unadulterated cuteness of the the little fluffy offspring: but the photography was brilliant, it is a great story of triumph for survival (not of "love" whatever the narration says), and they are just such incredible creatures to watch - their grace underwater, firing along like torpedoes, is amazing to see.

Go and see it.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


Something along these lines turned up in my mailbox some time ago. As my brain is fried mush from working on reports till 2am, I'm taking a "time-out" at the office to sort paperwork, clea my email junk out and tidy my network drive files. Still have umpteen students to see as well, but thought this worth posting.

Friend, when you are sad... I will get you drunk and help you plot revenge against the sorry bastard who made you sad.

When you are blue... I'll try to dislodge whatever is choking you.

When you smile... I'll know you finally got a shag.

When you are scared... I will take the piss every chance I get.

When you are in a bad mood... I will lightly poke you in the ribs and call you amusing names

When you are worried... I will tell you horrible stories about how much worse it could be and to shut up.

When you are confused... I will use little words to explain it to you.

When you are sick... stay away from me until you're well again. I don't want to catch it.

When you fall... I will point and laugh at you.

This is my oath... I pledge till the end.

Why you may ask? Because you're my friend!

PS. A friend will help you move house. A really good friend will help you move a body.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

My face is like Shannen Doherty

Right... okay...huh? Strangely though I would swear the pic they use to illustrate the test is actually Maggie Gyllenhaal rather than Shannen Doherty (who gets her kit off a lot if Google pics search is anything to go by. I'd rather MG than SD - sorry.

I'm not even going into most of the options I was given from My Heritage. My sympathies Marie for not getting her desired choices, but I think I came off worse overall: one of them was actually Michael Douglas. Yes I am MORTIFIED.

Presentations and teaching

Oh lordy, Cloud passed this to me just now (sorry, I've been too busy to read the papers on time each day).

Having been made to feel like an idiot before making her own presentation by the manager who had "skipped her MBA 'supportive management' module", she nevertheless managed to get through the ordeal:
As I gratefully settled into my off-stage chair, I suddenly realised that something was very, very wrong. The lights were on, the music was playing, and my boss, who was the speaker after me, should have been about to make her terrible joke about being "more than worth it" - but the audience was deathly silent.

On the stage, where my boss should have been, there was an empty spotlight. And on the floor, having tripped over her own feet and tumbled arse first into the audience, lay my boss, one foot perched in the MD's lap.

As the lights went down, I mused that pride really does come before a fall.

And it brought to mind my own take on presentations: that, despite all the whizzy technology available, it pays to wear flat shoes and be as low-tech as possible. Learnt those things the hard way I can tell you (but no falls off the stage into any MD's lap...)

Jokes from Joe and friends


EineKleineRob had a good day

A very good day.

Still hate him for having got all his Christmas cards done though. Bah humbug.

Just like Buddy Holly

Great post by HolyHosesRob on the mysteries of Buddy Holly.

The night of the long report writing

So to compensate I'm reading Marie, whose trials and tribulations are always good to read (sympathy all round, but love you sure do make us laugh!)

She's currently pretty hungry: she's even threatened to eat her office.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Blimey, tonight's conclusion to Secret Smile actually made last night's episode look like Shakespeare. If it wasn't for his voice, I'd have turned the sound down too!

Still, nonsense with knobs on it was, and it remained. It was great to have him back on screen - why are shower doors frosted? - but this wasn't the best thing he could have had on his CV before the demands of Dr Who. That will really put him under the spotlight.

Case closed on the long Australian trial?

Is this the last of the posts on Dingoes Ate My Boyfriend?

I agree with Marie's comment on an earlier post that it's really only been the media who has planted seeds that Joanne Lees herself had anything to do with it, but it has been a weird case, run a really weird way and ultimately you feel won't close the case for the nay-sayers who didn't like Lees. What a bitch of a position for the girl to find herself in. I hope she and Falconio's family get some peace now.

Babelfish goes bonkers

John passes this bit of genius translation to the masses.


Clare is just brilliant. I have not yet reduced small children to tears, but it is a joy to read about someone who acknowledges the physicality of the human body (honestly, you'd think we're preapared to evolve into machines the way some folk try to disguise things... although Bender from Futurama was pretty noxiously human...)

Anyway Cloud: no funny remarks about me in response to this.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Cute dogs!

Very cute dogs!

(thanks to Cloud for cheering me up)

Sunday, December 11, 2005

My 4AD sampler is missing! (updated: no longer missing)

Okay, I'm clearly going insane because I've just spent the last hour frantically tearing my house apart trying to locate my beloved 4AD sampler CD from UNCUT magazine that is both irreplaceable and much played.

Being of unsound mind, I cannot access any rational "last seen" memory because I have images of burglars / pixies / martians stealing it from me in my head.

In the great scheme of things, a mislocated CD ain't much beef: and before someone suggests I just copy it back off my i-Tunes ... THAT'S THE WHOLE POINT! I was trying to find it to put it ONTO i-Tunes.

Okay, I'll stop shouting, but seriously, I'm going wappy here. If anyone has it, finds it, or can see into my mind to work out where it is, let me know. I noticed it was missing because I was working my way through my CD compilations which are at the start of my well-organised CD collection.

SNIFF! Wah!!!!

UPDATE: 6.28pm
Found it.

It was in my handbag: obviously has been in my work bag for some time.

Blush. I am, officially and with some good reason, an idiot.

But at least I found it!

Kara's dinner party

Wow: that's highbrow! Kara's dinner parties obviously involve talking. Actual conversation of an intellectual sort, with debate and such.

So I guess it breaks the etiquette or the seriousness of the meme to imagine mounting the guests on the dinner table....? Just me then...

Friday, December 09, 2005

Being cheered up right proper

This found via here made me smile. As did this.

Alternative Grammy Nominations

Mucho suggestions for better nominations for the Grammys over at Shakespeare's Sister in a Question of the Day from somewaterytart. First comment left mentioned Rufus and Ben Folds: well that sets the tone!

What about bigamy?

Cloud and I were watching TV and the topic of civil partnerships came up.
"If you enter a civil partnership and you're married, is that bigamy?"
Great questions of our time.

Boncey's Little Radio

Awh. Cloud just took me to this and I really feel for this blogger. For all its faults, I do like 6 Music.
A station for people that are too old for Radio 1 and too cool for Radio 2 as The Guardian once called it.

Save Christopher Robin from Disney

Marie is on the case.

Why oh why oh why oh why oh why? (Cloud is mocking me here: but as a huge Eeyore fan I love Pooh stories.)

PS thanks for the luurrve folks: I'm feeling a lot better. Oh yeah, and it is Friday!

The nature of blogging: what does it all mean (to me)?

It would be hard to ignore that (a) the WebBlog awards are here again, (b) that there is a book on British Blogging out, and (c) that the latter is causing some ruckus/comment in the blogsphere (since awards also make us aware of things and what is not nominated, I'm conflating the two).

Tim Worstall, esteemed collator/selector/editor of "2005 Blogged: Dispatches from the Blogosphere" has written extensively in response to people's reactions to the book and acknowledged some of its weaknesses (especially in reply to great posts such as that by Mike at Troubled Diva mentioned above which put the whole case much more eloquently than I could). But it did get me thinking about blogs: what they are, their purpose and their uses.

I mean, why do we blog? And does anyone care? Should they? Should any book on the topic be representative?

I initially posted on my Normblog profile that I blogged because I was "too cowardly to find a host for the website I have carefully constructed on my PC." Well, that's probably still true, but this has also subtly changed. I love the contact that blogging can bring me: a case of not just shouting into the wilderness, but establishing contact with those I would not otherwise meet. The thought that people located across this country and the globe would be spurred by my confession of feeling a bit down to send hugs and make silly remarks and all the rest is thrilling. Yet simultaneously it is obviously a public forum: and like most things that put you in the public eye, that can also have its downside. Rather like having your phone number listed in the directory (especially if you have a relatively uncommon name), it can be an invitation to all and sundry to get in touch. Yeah, I know, I'm contradictory - what! It took you this long to work that out?! - but I am an extroverted introvert. I draw attention to myself because I am terrified of being ignored - ah, my "only child" syndrome - yet also shrink in fear at being seen. It's a tough one to balance.

Why do I still blog and what is this blog about? Well, it's a bit random really. I do it because I rather like having the writing outlet and I'm too scatty to produce full texts after the PhD drain. I also like having the impetus to read other people's stuff and having this blog encourages me in that (I do read beyond my bloglist but that's my first port of call: and yes, I know not all of my readers are on it but I'm getting there). Blogging is a great way to express ideas, share ideas and operate a forum of commentary and debate. In terms of content, well, mostly it is cultural in its broadest sense. Sometimes I do have a rant about something political, but others generally do that better than me. I've not got a particularly reportage feel to this blog - I lack the interesting family and work life that I could report on (as, say, Jane so wittily does). I've also not got a specific cultural focus in only commenting on one particular thing... yes, I know the Paisley boys get a good load of mentions, but they're not the only topic here. Good TV and films; good books; good exhibitions: they're all fighting for house-room here.

And what connects these things? That would be me. Insignificant little ol' me. Oddly, though Tim Worstall's book tries to go beyond the political boundary, blogs such as this one probably are more representative of the overall picture of blogging. Sometimes inconsequential, sometimes commenting on crucial things, but always with an eye to being true to myself: to being personal.

Which kinda brings me to my final point ("at last" you cry!): that if you focus too much on how/why/whether there should have been more women bloggers in Worstall's book, it's a little like asking "why have there been no great women artists?" It's the question that's the problem: the very nature of not attending to the everyday, the relatively mundane, the trivial, the random. Sometimes you have to change the framework, as well as the attitudes that inform it, to get to why your list may be so partial.

Holidays and work

Reidski's comment in the post below brought back to mind the whole issue of University life and education and people's perceptions of what it entails (please note: I'm not attributing any of these attitudes TO Reidski, but it was in reponse to his comment that I am writing this.)

I know that the world thinks university life / education is a piece of cake. It is possible that someone like Shuggy, for example, might agree with me that despite the years of public debate about education, the perception is still that teaching - all those long holidays! - is a somewhat cushy existence by comparison to other professions. Perhaps it is. After all, it isn't shovelling shit for a living (though metaphorically it can feel like that). Maybe it is in the nature of each of us to perceive our own circumstances as peculiar and even difficult. That's not to say that nothing is good/bad, better/worse than anything else, but differences - between people and experiences - should not be treated as competitive. I'm getting rather tired of the "I've got it worse than you" mentality that seeps through conversations with other middle-class professions: they ask how you are and then after your reply they immediately respond with how how much worse it is for them. Sorry: I wasn't aware how we had to all just go one better with how crappy things are. (I have the Monty Python sketch running through my head now: "house?" you were lucky....")

Anyway, let's just take the forthcoming period towards the end of term and into New Year. I've booked the 22nd off my holiday entitlement. The University physically closes at the end of Thursday 22nd. Monday and Tuesday are Bank Holidays. Wed-Friday 28-29 the university also keeps its admin doors shut. The 2nd Jan is another Bank Holiday. So I am off work from the 22nd December to the 2nd January inclusive. I am happy to admit that compared to many working professions, this is more holiday at Christmas than most would get; although, I personally think that given the hours most people work in this country - unpaid as well as paid - we probably all deserve more holidays than less (I don't think the American standard for 2 weeks would work here at all, and I'm both terrified and admiring of how they can manage on so little).

Am I lucky? Yes, undoubtedly. My job isn't physical, dirty or mundane. And I do love it: it is hugely rewarding. But that doesn't stop it being emotionally exhausting, intellectually tiring, administratively complex and, in terms of hours in the day, overloaded. We've had around a 1/3rd increase in student numbers contacting our service this year. But we've unsurprisingly had no corresponding increase in staff (for some good reasons - vital staff training and professional development, new staff taking over etc - it could even be argued we've decreased our staff numbers). I'm tired of having to take work home just in order to keep as behind with things as I am doing... Yes, we almost certainly could be more organised, as every instititution often can be; but the key problem is we are doing too much, and the danger is that we're going to start doing it badly.

We do need to reassess what we do and how we go about it. But ultimately the work we do and the way that we currently do it IS good and IS worthwhile. It's just there is too much of it for us (let me say "me" and avoid putting my colleagues in with my take on things). I could not take work home at the weekend; but that would mean reports take three weeks to produce rather than two. Frankly, when I'm doing one of these assessments per week, I can't keep three weeks worth in my head at a time to interpret my notes: two, I can just about manage. But thanks to delays and illness and scheduling, I got off on the wrong foot with this task and I can't get straight with it. the plan had been to do the assessment in the morning and write up in the afternoon. That has not happened (the first one was scheduled for the afternoon - not my choice or control); then I was off ill; and it was a very complex report to write (a difficult situation, again not entirely within my control - though if I had had more experience I may have been able to deal with it better but it was my first). I have been playing catch-up ever since and despite blocking time out for specific tasks... well, its not easy to say to hysterically anxious people "sorry, I can't see you for a fortnight: please go and delay your breakdown until a more convenient moment."

As Cloud sang at me this week: "You care, you care a lot."

Also, riffing on one of our favourite films: "a study support tutor's life is intense; a study support tutor's life is always intense..."

I know, I need to relax and switch off, but it is easier said than done. I could also dow ith having greater backbone for ignoring people and telling them to bugger off. I'm too saft for my own good....

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Yes folks, after a mad dash of posts last week it's been a slower one this time around. That's because its been a faster week with everything else. I'm only posting this now because a student has not turned up and I'm clearing some of the detritus of my office to get straight. And because I need to apologise for my relative absence.

Also, I'm feeling a bit beleagured for a variety of reasons (some of which I do not want to go into here, at least at the moment). Work is a key one, but not the only one. Sometimes its harder to move on or keep things as you would like; sometimes things don't work out as planned or hoped; sometimes you just want a "stop" button...

Anyway, bear with me folks: I'm just under the weather at the mo. Counting the days till the end of term. Thankfully I have a good man and some awesome friends to remind me that I shouldn't always take full burdens for things on myself or blame myself for everything that happens. I'll get back in the swing of things soon I'm sure...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

241; or, how stupid can I be?

Six degrees between us when me and my friend went to the pictures tonight (to see Flightplan but more on that later).

Stood in the queue thinking how busy the cinema is, my friend suddenly recalled it was Wednesday: Orange Wednesdays! Of course... pity neither of us has Orange.

Erm, I do... but surely we're too late?

No, we could text now...

What's the number?

Puzzling.... hmmm... damn, we've seen the annoying ads a ton of times. Ohh...

Friend suggests, maybe it has an 8 in it...?

Oh well, let's just pay. (Cloud said later "why didn't you ask at the ticket desk?": because that would have meant us being smart..)

Get into the screening: first ad, of course, if for Orange Wednesdays.

And the number?

241 - Two for One: gettit...

The shame kept us laughing all the way through the evening.

Good job: the film was, as Mark Kermode said, pants. Like, it starts off quite spooky and edgy, and in the end, as he said, you just end up saying "oh, so THAT'S where it's going"... disappointed. Mind, the actress playing the stewardess whose botoxed face meant that she couldn't emote if she was paid a million dollars was weirdly disturbing to watch for 90 mins....

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Taysiders in Space

A "Chewin' the Fat" special linked courtesy of Shakespeare's Sister.

Lots more pics on the unofficial Douglas Henshall site

Someone's been busy with a screen capturing kit: and it isn't me. Go see the delights.

What was the Cambridge Arts Theatre thinking?

Norm has a great post that includes a clear case - he quotes the letter with permission - for questioning Cambridge Arts Theatre hosting an evening with GG. Mind, I think raising even the word "rationale" in relation to events involving this man is problematic: motivation for hosting the evening? Publicity? Money? The usual things associated with GG?

PS if you think I'm being harsh on GG, you clearly haven't been to Harry's Place where he is a regular feature for commentary...

Dealing with Narnia

I grew up with these books and as I kid I was never particularly troubled by them (I recall I was probably about 9/10 when I read one of the later books - Voyage of the Dawn Treader - before I clicked about Aslan being Christ. And that was only because he suddenly appeared as a lamb...)

Anyway, thanks to the movie and the tie-in re-promotion of the books, there is a lot of comment about Lewis, his religion and the Narnia tales (here for Alison Lurie's rather generous, but reasonably balanced view; here for letters from the Observer on the topic, and here for Polly Tonybee's rant - and these are just the most recent from the Guardian/Observer).

Overall I guess I would say I'm ambivalent about these books: with an adult's eye they are undoubtedly deeply problematic - 'Muscular Christianity' indeed. But I did wince a lot reading PT's diatribe and wondered if she was writing polemic for its own sake?

And oh yeah: as much as I love Tilda Swinton and think she probably is magnificent as the Witch, she should have DARK hair as per the books...

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Library Thing

Thanks to Cloud for directing me to Chris Brooke's Virtual Stoa and seeing his use of Library Thing. Oh MY GOD! This will keep me occupied for hours and I will be so tempted to go for full membership. I mean, 200 out of our collected book habit is barely one full bookcase's worth of the beasts. I've thus changed my "Recommended Books" sidebar to have a widget link to the library. So "Stone Junction" may not always appear, but trust me it's in there.

The etiquette of sex in an office

Wandered with Cloud via several blogs and ended up reading this howlingly hilarous post (though obviously not from his perspective). Mind, this comment just added topping to that laughter:
Me, I just want to know: undergraduate, graduate, faculty, staff, or passers-by?

Mil Millington's experience of watching Willow

Cloud just brought me Mil Millington's column on gadgets from yesterday's Guardian Weekend Magazine. Now, we already have an established fondness for MM thanks to this and for being an ex-employee of Wolves Poly library. But this could not help but bring a smile to us. He was testing out a new wristwatch that monitors your pulserate, heartbeat etc. To test it out he watched a certain couple of episodes of Buffy (trust me, there are a lot of images from these two episodes out there!):
the two episodes where Alyson Hannigan appears as leather-wearing Vamp Willow. You know what I'm talking about here, right? I attempted control. OK, my pulse was up - low-60s - but that's not enough to give you away, is it? That's not a telltale heart. Ha! Ha! I'm going to live for ever and I can beat a polygraph. I can pass CIA vetting, dodge a murder rap, and afford to buy short and sell really long.
George, just how many times have you watched those two episodes...? Just a question sent into cyberspace...

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Rothko and Chagall and other art related memories

Reading Ardeelee's blog today, I felt an immediate thrill at someone else enthusing about Rothko and Chagall, two of my favourite 20th century artists.

Let's take Chagall first. When I was doing my A-levels we had a trip planned to London to go and view a major retrospective of Renoir at the Hayward Gallery. We were all very excited. We pretty much didn't take much notice that in the afternoon we were scheduled to visit the Royal Academy to see another major retrospective: Chagall. We all trundled down on a rainy day. It was already fairly depressing before we got to the Hayward: walking in there, we felt we had entered hell. Although there were probably a handful of the art crowd who were a little more stylistically adventurous, most of us had limited experience of modern (20th century) art. So the Renoir had promised to be a treat. Bleurgh. What a let down.

The place was full of tourists for Impressionism, herded through narrow walkways too close to properly see anything of what Renoir may have intended. Some of the images were still beautiful: The Swing seemed especially entrancing, with its dappled light. But having to navigate past wittering swooners when we were trying to be on a study visit was just a 'mare.

And then we hit the final room...

Oh God...

Seeing reproductions of some of Renoir's late bathers paintings doesn't do them justice (and I so do not mean that in a good way). It's not the size of the women - several of my friends over the years have also had Rubenesque figures and look great with it: it was the way in which he painted them...

Sickly coloured.
Overly pink.
And so over 'the human scale' that, crowded into the ridiculously small rooms that the Hayward had opted for, the images became nauseatingly overpowering. Several of the group actually went to throw up on exiting the show. We felt like we had been barfed at in an enclosed space by the colours...

Anyway, it was with disappointed and heavy hearts that we travelled across London to the RA for Chagall, a painter we knew far less about and I would say at that stage had little interest in.

WHAT a contrast. For a start, less people (blockbusters shows can be awful, and though the Renoir was probably on the cusp of when such shows took over the artworld, it was indicative of what was to come). And the images: breathtaking didn't get close to describing them.

Chagall's painting

The Green Fiddler

Chagall's painting

I and the Village

Stained glass by Chagall

And of course the stained glass... (see another example here)

Overall, we came out stunned and thrilled. I never forgot that revelatory day. And whenever I think of Chagll, I think of Howard and Theresa and me and the rest of 6th form art class crew coming home by train buzzing with excitement.

So what about Rothko?

I have to admit that it was a little while after I had finished my A levels when I got into Rothko. It was courtesy of the aforementioned friend Howard who I had loved from afar in art class, and who briefly kept in touch with me when we had left 6th form (something I was jolly pleased with I can tell you). He went to art college in London, and wrote one Christmas about how he had planned to do a project based on Rossetti. Now we had both been keen Pre-Raphaelite admirers at 6th form, but as you do when you grow up you can end up putting such childish things away (I still love them though, as viewers of this may know). Howard wrote enthusing that once he had let go of Rossetti and found Rothko he discovered a deeper meaning to life and art. Wow. Well that sold me.

Next visit I took to London I immersed myself in the Rothko room of the Tate Collection and let the blacks, the reds, the purples, the fading pinks and the lines of colour blur and swim, focus in and out... and I did truly feel alive and yet aware of death simultaneously. It knocked me sideways. (See here for some key examples)

What I loved about the images was though for me tied to the setting - the old Tate building's white walls and the relatively enclosed space. You couldn't enter the room except intentionally, and its contents were not visible from passing visitors.

At Tate Modern, that has - at least every time I have gone - been absent. Instead the room is a thoroughfare for visitors en rote to elsewhere in the gallery. It has entrances that make it impossible to not have people wander past your contemplative eyeline and that bugs the hell out of me. It's a shame because the grey walls and the lighting there ARE much more in tune with the images (though I have heard it argued that it makes the response you are likely to have much more directed by the setting than the images, which DOES disappoint me).

Still, all in all very good works, and thanks to Ardeelee for her reminder that prompted this lengthy post.

A film on TV to look out for this week: Small Faces

If you haven't seen it, can I recommend you watch Gillies MacKinnon's film Small Faces this week. It's beautifully written, the settings feel vibrant and terrible at the same time, and the cast is a dream.

It's Scottish as well: but doesn't star either of the Paisley boys.... go figure...

Could it be that if truth be told, the reasons why I am so fond of several Scottish acting talents is because they are so damn good? That would be it...

Ignores fact that she is typing this sat in her study facing large framed photograph of Douglas Henshall and a poster board of miscellaneous postcards, home photographs and several news clipped pictures of such certain actorly folk...Hee


OOOOOHHH! How exciting has Bleak House been this week. Weepy old me, I've shed buckets at this soapy drama and cheered heartily at Alan Rickman... sorry, Charles Dance*, getting the comeuppance that his satanic Tulkinghorn deserves.

Wonderful stuff.

*This remark alludes to the fact that when Dance opened the script for "Last Action Hero", at least the first reference to his character in the script was 'Alan Rickman opens the door'. I actually believe that Cloud and me are the only people who actually liked that film and have watched it with pleasure on many occasions.

Especially for Joe (Xmassy picture)

Found this amongst my pics from last Xmas... Somehow thought Joe (and EineKleineRob) may approve!

Right, that's quite enough stripes for one season...

Friday, December 02, 2005

Vote! Vote! Vote for theatre!

More voting required people. Get your votes in for Death of a Salesman (yes, yes, I know Duffman - Hedda Gabler...) and for the production of Look Back in Anger featuring Marie's bath companion...

The lost photographs

Thanks to Reluctant Nomad's comment on the genealogy post for directing me to this. I absolutely adore old photographs and at some point will probably try and start up something like Mike's aforementioned family history blog to store these online.

Hackers take down Harry's Place (updated)

Norm send this as an urgent call to the blog world at 11.05am today.

Given how Harry's Place acts as such a centrepoint for free speech and debate, it is outrageous to think that for ANY reason anyone would hack into and remove a site like it.

Spread the word people, and let's hope by the time this goes up all is well....

UPDATE: Norm says all is well. And judging by the comments at Harry's Place it was an erratic problem.... Benji's still there though... groan...

Radio playback

OOOHHH! I did enjoy listening to Mark Kermode's film review slot from Radio 5 Live last night. I used to love listening to that when I was a student and could laze my days away - I mean, multitask with writing / researching and listening to the radio.

Anyway, it was nice to know I can finally keep back up with his cranky wit. He sometimes annoys me, but often amuses so it is worth listening to.

Oh yeah, and Joe, I'll try and be a bit calmer today on the posting front... !!!

(you should see how much I've been yaddering on the David Tennant forum board: and before anyone suggests my heart has become fickle, trust me - if there was one for Douglas Henshall, I'd be queening it right now....Besides, I know too many of the smaller group of devotees who admire Dougie to ever feel comfy with yaddering more than I do here on the blog...)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Google Earth

Just spent the last hour travelling the globe virtual stylee with "Google Earth"... woah, that is very cool. We have flown from Nottingham to New Zealand to see the location of Cloud's family homes there in just a matter of seconds. I suspect that the flight next year will take a little longer...


Come back and see us though won't ya? Will someone else take over Topo Gigio and the "At Home with the Intelligentsia" posts or are those copyright John?

Do you think it was because of the whisky?

[NOTE: the link won't work to John's post - is it the swearing???? - so you'll just have to go to Counago & Spaves main site for the post of Dec 1st. Sorry.]

The bad customer

Marie has had to endure another encounter with this woman. Poor gal. Still, she can always curl up with Elle magazine for comfort...

Vote vote vote!

You may choose something like this or this, but whatever sailed your boat this year, VOTE!

Cloud and his rant on geneaology

Cloud, I think, has written before on his loathing of the kennel club approach to geneology [tell me where!]. Here, he goes at the topic again.

I have to confess I have an ambivalence on the topic as I too have done a little in the way of family tree hunting, though as a visual and cultural historian, I'm a bit more interested in all the family photographs I have (their siginificance, who took them, why, the clothes, the costs etc) and issues of social relationships than just clocking up names back to the Norman Conquest. Also, as I watched Cloud typing up his blog last night - Broadband! Weeee! - it was interesting to see how the rant could take over constructing his argument. Cloud is one of the smartest people I know, but as I know from studying alongside him on the OU, he can make some really big assumptions that his meaning comes across clearly. In this instance, he was so incensed by the poorly written argument in the Grundie that he was in danger at several points of confusing his readers further rather than illuminating her inadquate comments.

It's still a corking post though: even has a biblical quote alongside Billy Bragg.

I hope John did not drink all of these

... he could at least share...

The HolyHose rant on crises

Great review of the role played by the impact of Thatcher and the long previous reign of Tory government in several current crises. Go read.

Books are good

Like you didn't know I would agree with that...

(Hat tip Norm, from Gabriel Zaid).


From books to reading...

Decode it how you need to, but let's just making reading FUN and interesting rather than purely practical...

Skud's scary building

He's not wrong.

Funnies that make a good start to the day...

Even if you have heard them before.

Courtesy of Rita (as ever) via her friend Meri.
Why do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are getting weak?

Why do banks charge a fee on "insufficient funds" when they know there is not enough?

Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?

Why doesn't glue stick to the bottle?

Why do they use sterilized needles for death by lethal injection?

Why doesn't Tarzan have a beard?

Why does Superman stop bullets with his chest, but ducks when you throw a revolver at him?

Why do Kamikaze pilots wear helmets?

Whose idea was it to put an "s" in the word "lisp"?


Why is it that no matter what color bubble bath you use the bubbles are always white?

Is there ever a day that mattresses are not on sale?
Why do people constantly return to the refrigerator with hopes that something new to eat will have materialized?

Why do people keep running over a string a dozen times with their vacuum cleaner, then reach down, pick it up, examine it, then put it down to give the vacuum one more chance?

Why is it that no plastic bag will open from the end on your first try?

How do those dead bugs get into those enclosed light fixtures?

When we are in the supermarket and someone rams our ankle with a shopping cart and then apologizes for doing so, why do we say, "It's all right?" Well, it isn't all right, so why don't we say, "That hurt, you stupid idiot?"

Why is it that whenever you attempt to catch something that's falling off the table you always manage to knock something else over?

In the winter, why do we try to keep the house as warm as it was in summer, when we complained about that heat?

How come you never hear father-in-law jokes?

The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four persons is suffering from some sort of mental illness. Think of your three best friends -- if they're okay, then it's you
By the way, Rita, you may spot I edited one out. Sorry, but I don't want to post anything that suggests I swallow creationism...