Thursday, September 29, 2005

Will doesn't hold back

Students, bloody students...

The Pleasures and Point of Re-Reading

The comments about reading War and Peace stir once more thoughts on what we re-read. Martin raises the point that many people who don't get re-reading a book don't think twice about listening to a piece of recorded music repeatedly or watching a film over and over.

With as many books in our house as we have, it would be pretty stupid not to re-read (otherwise why buy...? well, there is just the pleasure of the book...!) although it obviously takes longer to get around to re-reading everything. Some books just merit re-reading, or at least offer pleasures in doing so. Some are dipped into, for reference or knowledge, but are rarely 'read'.

For me, some books just give back something in being re-read, in much the same way as some films can do that (and music certainly does). The point certainly gets me thinking about updating my Books side bar to be a little more meaningful.

Anyone else thought much about re-reading? The point of it? Why we do it? And, if you don't re-read much but do re-listen/re-watch, why?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Harry started something

.., and now he has to go.

Crying shame, but a great 'final' post.

(Hat-tip to Norm).

Films I want to see (autumn forthcoming)

Serenity: note to self - make time for Firefly before and after

A History of Violence: Even if it loses most of the story, I did like the graphic novel it is based on [NB link to Page 45 because they are the best ever comic book/graphic novel shop)

Kinky Boots: I need a cheesy laugh

Wallace and Gromit - The Curse of the Were-Rabbit: oh yeah!!!

Corpse Bride: Tim Burton twice in a year... (more here at the official site - beware Flash)

Broken Flowers: Bill Murray, lost loves, Jim Jarmusch - works for me...

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: I've seen all the others... and there is the matter of Barty Crouch, Jr.

And yeah, I know, as of today (Wed 28 Sept) this is mostly linkless... I'll get a round tuit...

(Update 4pm: We now have some links folks)

War and Peace

Norm identifies that some actually re-read this several times.

Me? I haven't even managed once (the shame). I tried, but failed. I should have tried the Woody Allen technique of speed-reading, though I doubt I would have been more informed ("it's about Russia").

I did read Anna Karenina, which I adored. Though I may have been pre-occupied with recollections of this.


Always a frustrating thing. Seems like this could be a taster for the season...

Sure to not be the only one praising the Dylan-fest

... but have to add how much we enjoyed it (okay, so we had to tape part 1 and will watch that tonight but part 2 was fab).

The Scottish Patient adds his praise here and of course Norm puts in his remarks. I should tell Norm that Rob was at the '66 gig: but definitely NOT a booing person.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Coupled emails

Not sure what was funnier: the blog or the comments it spawned.

Word Verification and the spammers

Even Rob has had to do it now. Sometimes you just don't want your penis any larger...

OUCH! Hoping that Spacey's Richard II improves

AnnaWaits gets in an excoriating review of the current Richard II production at the Old Vic, London. Seems that the perfect and praising review of Spacey's work for the theatre still lies some way off...

In the meantime, book yourself to the Sheffield Theatres and the forthcoming season of work co-ordinated by Samuel West and appreciate regional theatre. Of course, if you must go to London, I direct you again to see Death of a Salesman before its run finishes in November.

And please, no more reciting how much you hate the play Duff: wouldn't do for us all to have the same taste.

The In-Kraut: worth it for the opening track

Hildegard Knef: "From Here on it gets Rough" from the Marina label album The In-Kraut (terrible pun).

As played by Jonathan Ross on Saturday morning. Just bonkers... You can listen to an extract on the above link.

Misty's Big Adventure on last night's Tom Robinson 6Music show

It's always nice to get the sense you came in on something as the crest rose, even if you cannot claim to have been in it at the start. So it was thrilling to hear a vocal and musical style that was familiar and unique: "that's Mistys!" we both said as we half heard the radio last night.

And so it was that Misty's were on Tom Robinson, singing live and exclusively a reworked version of "All Things Bright and Beautiful" with the line 'George Bush will kill them all', as well as tracks from both their albums.

It was especially nice to hear Grandmaster Gareth giggling everytime Tom Robinson was trying to get him to admit how the band were on the rise, as if GG couldn't quite believe that it could seriously be happening (I wanted to shout "it is! it is!")

Great response to spam from the new Brooklynite Mr Kara

While we sup on copious quantities of Irn Bru, wishing we could have been at the stag do and the wedding, Darren still gets assailed by spam.

And responds in perfect tone:
As Diderot would have said if he was alive today: "Bloggers will never be free until the last spammer is strangled with the entrails of the last Duff."

Wonderful stuff.

"Being married is..."

... what Kara and Darren now are.

(Don't panic folks, it wasn't me and Cloud!)

Will first-born daughter be named Kathy?

(Note to K&D: you see, you get married and already you're getting name suggestions for the offspring... assumptions, assumptions!)

Napoleon Dynamite / Team America: World Police

We had George over to stay on Friday night, which was of course wonderful good fun. Amongst the evening's entertainment we had two films from the local video/DVD store: namely, Napoleon Dynamite and Team America: World Police.

Well, they are very different in tone and taste, and I can well understand why each would prove difficult for many people. Napoloeon Dynamite is rather languid and arch: it wears its identity as an indie film on its sleeve. Yet if you can get past that, it is at heart a very tender tale. For everyone who has ever been awkward, uncomfortable in their own skin, gauche, outside of the in-crowd, unwilling/unaware of what makes them outsiders - this is the movie for you. It has an uplifting edge in its narrative that should move you if you have an ounce of soul within you.

Team America is a VERY different kettle of pisces. It's in-ya-face and puerile; it's dumb and full of offence. And actually hilarious. Well, we couldn't help laughing even when we winced as well. And it's amazing what you can get away with by using dolls rather than actors...

Monday, September 26, 2005

Picking a piece of art (to take home?)

Rob made a very good point on his comment to my Pollock post: namely, that it can be fun when visiting a gallery to pick out an artwork that you would like to take home with you.

Of course, I have technically just done that myself having treated myself to a certain picture having originally seen it in the National Portrait Gallery (I even have a photograph of myself sat in front of the image in the NPG). To see which image I am on about click here and yes, I know that it is a different spelling... oh but he does look mighty fine....


As I was saying, Rob identified some selections of work he would like to take home. I would agree with these, and of course add the lovely Countess from the Barber Institute, along with Pollock's Lavender Mist from the National Gallery of Art, Washington (customs could be a problem, as could the fragility of the image!). I could do a world tour of virtual art thefts...

Unfit for cinematic practice

Mr Ritchie. Avoid. Avoid. Avoid.

His incompetence even brings out the best in Julie Burchill!
[F]rom what I've seen of his work, I personally don't believe Guy Ritchie is fit to be an assistant cameraman on The Bill.
(Hat-tip to Hakmao)

Less popcorn; more movies

Cloud is right.

Blogging squeezed in: clearly I am a liar

After what I started saying, here I am blogging furiously!

Draic had this little gem of thinking on Friday that I wanted to ilnk to:
I have worked out the keys to happiness. Existence, Contentment, and Pleasure.For Existence, you must have food, warmth, oxygen, shelter, and avoid predators.For Contentment, you must be healthy (avoid sickness), and safe (avoid fear).For Pleasure, you must have stimulation of some sort. Please the senses by experience, please the mind by learning.
Of course, this may not be an origihal thought, but it's good to see it restated. And Draic goes on to discuss the issue of independence and interdependence which is also worth reading on for, because sometimes we need reminding of these things.

Need to improve my Welsh

Feel very bad that I cannot appreciate Bratiaith's blog, especially after leaving me a comment...

And I do think the Welsh do irony. Just not sure what the Welsh for that is.

University Bedlam

Now we remember why we like the summer so much.

It's absolute chaos here: that, combined with exhaustion from furniture and plant shifting over weekend (from Cloud's parents imminent move to NZ), plus a plumber in the house fixing radiators, plus lots of complex students coming out of the woodwork for support, and it's a fun packed time here!

Ergo: may be minimal blogging until head clear. Still, apparantly links-a-plenty from last week to stimulate you all. Hopefully tomorrow less utter chaos. Note to self: go back to writing blogs in the evenings to post the next day...

Friday, September 23, 2005

Please don't follow these rules...

Oooh, those Drink-Soaked Popinjays just love to mess with your head.

As regular readers here will know, some don't know that such rules as suggested by the Spirit of 1976 might just be ironic...

The infection of the Buffyverse

He's infected by it, doncha know...

Cloud now regularly references/prompts appropriate lines from Buffy episodes in our conversations. He just can't help himself.

Rullsenberg: "I can't remember the number without putting the note in my reminders, but that means using the keypad to get through the letters to the number keys"
Cloud: "why don't you use the letters instead, like they do in the states for words and phrases" (he grins)
Rullsenberg: "what, like '1-800 I'm-dating-a-skanky-ho'?" [note: have lost count how many times Cloud has referenced/prompted that line]
Cloud: "Exactly!"

Also, though I cannot recall the context of the conversation, today Cloud actually used the line "did anyone else just go to a scary visual place?" and knew exactly the context it had come from.

See, we just love Willow in our house!

Rob's blog treats

Eine Kleine Nichtmusik remains one of my favourite blogs and when I get chance to scan through Rob's output I always find stuff I can laugh at, marvel over, and ponder about. This week has been no exception so I offer you:
this review (makes me wish we'd been to the Nottingham gig)
this incitement to broaden musical experience (with a very strange comment from one Jorge Correa who either has poor eyesight or whose English is desperately misguided!)
these pertinent comments on arms and politics

Dicks and spammers (surely the same thing?)

The story hurts; mind, it turns out that the biology sucks, and these comments are priceless...

Thursday, September 22, 2005

"It wasn't me"

Brilliant link from Rob's blog to Me(ish). A classic of our times.

The Living Dead at your local supermarket

I didn't know they were filming Shaun of the Dead Part II. Good of Marie to let us know!

Be Pollock

Of course, with my art historian hat on, this tells you absolutely nothing about what Pollock was really doing in his art, but it is enormous fun.

Go be Pollock.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Pere Ubu review

Well, David Thomas in all his incarnations never disappoints even when he is his usual brusque self with band, support, self, voice, etc...

Support at Nottingham Rescue Rooms were Kaito: good shouty girl on vocals and guitar (pretty cute too), loads of feedback, noise making and weird sounds, slighty full-of-himself guy on guitar, but with able support from girl bassist and bloke on drums. (In defence of the guitar man, he was bloody good - you just felt he knew it and even the lead girl was laughing kinda at his antics as he rampaged the stage in pursuit of his noise)

This from NotLame Recording Company:
We saw this band at SXSW in Texas in March and they were the highlight of the festival and blew everyone away who saw them. My mouth, in particular, just dropped. Not really power pop, certainly, but they were a combination of Elastica, That Petrol Emotion, classic Wire, Mission of Burma, all wrapped up in a melodic package where the all the beautiful noise going on had some strong, strong hooks that were impossible to miss. A truly promising debut of a band who will be going places in the indie rock world, listen up!

But to the main man...

Pere Ubu set list include Folly of Youth, Modern Dance, selected tracks from St. Arkansas, and new material (Texas Overture): in other words a great mix of old and new from the 30 years of Ubu land. Oh yeah, and a happy rant about making money from the Beastie Boys because they nicked a Rocket from the Tombs riff

There's a review in the Indie today of the Islington gig.

What else did we get? Well, DT talked about writing songs for the niche market of 40 and 50-something males who were punks now facing mid-life crises: "it's a small niche, but a niche none the less..."; he berated the band at various points for daring to make "clicking noises" when he was speaking; he praised his sound guy for resolving everything possible; he moaned about the legal substances that enable but also ultimately destroy the high ranges of his vocal chords; he complained that "Fly's Eye" from Pennsylvania was written for Kylie Minogue but she didn't "sing the butt out of it" as he had intended; and when they re-emerged for the encore he said the drummer was keeping up the tradition of all Pere Ubu drummers by having to leap back on stage from going to pee (and he looked ill-ready as well!). The drummer also got it in the neck for forgetting which song came next:
"check the set-list"
"is that a trick question?"
"what does it say?"
"we have tech"
"So...? which track is that?"

Oh dear, it must be a killer being in Pere Ubu!

And to top it all, as ever, the fatman himself comes to the front and flogs his own cds to the waiting hoards. Despite his sometimes abrupt manner, he is really sweet. And the sight of lots of middle-aged men clasping his hand to shake it and breathlessly proclaiming "it is so brilliant to meet you - can I have my picture taken with you?"... well, that was enough to warm any punk's heart!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Buffy at university

Casyn directed me to this wonderful remark on the studying of Buffy from JW himself.

Joss talked to TV Week [Australia] while he was here and this question was posed:
Australia’s education minister, Brendan Nelson, recently had a go at universities because there are more students studying Buffy than Milton. How do you feel about people studying Buffy at university?
I think they should be. There’s two reasons. One, because there’s not an episode of that show which we didn’t have a very specific intent for. There’s no episode that was just there to spin a yarn. They all were trying to capture something, even if it was just like a certain experience. There was always philosophical and political discussion about what it was we were trying to say. But even if none of that was the case, even if it was just a show that people took to, the fact that it’s made such an inroad into popular culture means that it should be studied for whatever it is popular culture seems to have needed that made it grasp onto it. Do I think it’s as good as Milton’s poems? Well, I’m not, like, a big Milton-head. I don’t think it’s as good as Emily Dickinson’s poems. Do I think it’s the greatest literature ever? I don’t think it is. Do I think it’s topical and thoughtful and deals with issues of human morality and personal responsibility and a lot of things that need to be talked about both academically and casually, yes. So I’m all for it.
Absolutely. Doesn't stop me feeling guilty when I read all that pseudo-intellectual stuff, but I love the work published and encouraged by Slayage. I say there should be room for Milton, Dickinson AND Buffy.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Super Furry Review / Pere Ubu Preview

Great review of the SFAs from EKN.

Mind, Rob does bemoan some non-attentive audience members.
The audience were enthusiastic, even though a lot of them were clearly more concerned with seeing their mates and being seen, and getting hammered, and texting, than listening to SFA. Whatever. The Furries, though, were loud enough to cut through any conversation on earth; it’s the first time for a while I’ve come out of a gig with impaired hearing. And there were plenty of die-hard SFA fans in there.
I've never understood why people pay good money to see bands only to spend the time yaddering, texting, or concentrating on drinking (the latter combined with watching/listening, yes, I get that; but to just drink? Surely the pub is cheaper?) The worst action I can lay claim to is that when Pulp played the Reading festival in 2002 (?), my friends Giles and Yvette kindly used up their minutes of phone time to call me so I could listen in to the gig. Actually, that was quite cool.

Anyway, thoughts of Super Furry noise making remind me that tomorrow is FatMan day (off to see Pere Ubu at the Rescue Rooms in Nottingham). RR is a perfect small sized venue. We just have to wonder if David Thomas will request any Remy Martin this time...?

NB when DT toured with The Two Pale Boys back in summer 2004, he hated the effect of the beer on his voice and asked for some cognac. Sadly, all they had was the usual bar crap when what DT wanted was some Remy Martin. The poor hapless guy at the bar was utterly intimidated by the sight of David Thomas grumbling. Still, didn't stop our pal George mischievously asking the same guy on the bar the next time we were in for a Remy Martin: the poor lad just looked horrified (twice in a week?!). We did confess we were just messing with him and the guy did laugh with us about it. Not to be forgotten!

Gym programme underway

Okay, so I turned up at this morning's staff meeting with a face in shades of purple (overheating!) but otherwise I actually feel rather invigorated...

Friday, September 16, 2005

Joining the Buffy world

Now if I had just gotten my act together to make a FULL list of Buffy sites I would have found out about the Serenity screening in Nottingham NEXT WEEK before it had all sold out.


Anyway, am joining this message board: yikes.

Freshers incoming...

Soon new numbers of students will be wandering around the campus on varying states of confusion at the signage or the poor lighting we have.

Some it seems have already started their Freshers Week (see Dr. Rob's very entertaining remarks on the effect of teenage students going to university - both for the student and the family!)

They've already started wandering in packs around the city centre and the surrounding student areas. And Sainsburys have set up their v. basic shelves of "everything-a-student-needs" (pasta, toaster, cleaning products...). Mind, as one parent was remarking yesterday at one of our welcome events, for those being allocated into flat/shared house acccommodation within the university, there is likely to be a dinstinct problem of overlap regarding kitchen equipment. If everyone buys a toaster, a chopping board, serving spoons, toilet brushes... well, you get the picture.

BTW Dr. Rob's blog is subtitled "Home of Wibble": I like it already. (Found via the comments on JustJane).

Confessing kisses in Northampton

That would be JustJane with yet another hilarious story to show her ability to tell a good tale.

Oh yeah, and a lot of us felt that way about the end of Tory rule.

If everyone has surgery, what will the babies look like?

"My favourite fantasy is when all the post-surgery girls and all the post-surgery boys get married and have babies who look like utter trolls because they have their parents' pre-surgery noses, ears and chins."
The Struggling Author again gets her wit out.

Computer system down at work so pop away!

So no internal mail system or calendar (very handy for planning the forthcoming academic year), nor any of the personal/shared drives on which all our relevant files are held (because sensibily we take not of not having our files on the hard drive...)

In light of these factors, I'm taking up Darren's offer - even though it's not raining. ('Cos currently the Internet actually IS working...)

Democratiya: new book review source

Am sure others will be ahead of me on this, but you may be interested in the following:

Democratiya is a free bi-monthly online review of books. Our interests will range over war, peace, just war, and humanitarian interventionism; human rights, genocide, crimes against humanity and the responsibility to protect and rescue; the United Nations, international law and the doctrine of the international community; as well as democratisation, social and labour movements, 'global civil society', 'global social democracy', and Sennian development-as-freedom.

The project has been organised by one of the authors of the statement 'Communties United Against Terror', Alan Johnson. Further details are available at

In the first issue you will find an interview with Jean Bethke Elshtain, the author of "Just War Against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World".

I rather like sources of book reviews: they can give a good overall sense of opinions as well as being a very good forum for finding interviews.

One of the smartest people I have ever known

Ben Conisbee Baer: I've got drunk with this guy! I've eaten at his house! I have artworks by him and Siona Wilson (aka Octopus).

And now I see his name appears alongside Kwame Anthony Appiah, who of course spoke at the recent BAAS conference in Cambridge (I should have asked him how Ben was getting on). They're part of a prestigious conference next Friday 23rd September 2005 to be held at Princton on Postcolonial Theory.
Ben Conisbee Baer is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at Princeton University. He completed his Ph.D. in the Center for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University in 2005. His thesis, “How many are we?”: Literary Figures of the Peasant and the Autochthon, covers representations of the peasant and the aboriginal in Marxism, British Modernism, and early twentieth-century Bengali literature. Ben Baer also holds an M.A. in Critical Theory from the University of Nottingham, UK.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Pete Ashton on multi-pseudonyms

Pete Ashton over at the site that has 'face validity' (passes the 'Ronseal test'*) - Pete Ashton's weblog - there is a nice little rant about multiple and/or changing online names.
To be honest, it's not the pseudonym that annoys me so much as the variation, so maybe there should be two categories, the consistent pseudonymous and the rampant pseudonymous. Consistents are cool because their real name becomes irrelevant making them de facto onymous. The rampants are the problem.
I have to say that I am probably guilty of causing some confusion myself. Whilst 'Lisa Rullsenberg' isn't exactly a rocket-science variation of my actual name, the email account I use for blogmail goes with the name "Leesa Chapman". The best explantion I can offer is that Chapman is an old family name and Leesa was my idle way of varying my first name to get another email account.

*does what it says on the tin.

Ian Katz and his Doonesbury Hell

From yesterday's G2, next to Steve Bell's penguins remarking "... somebody's nicked Doonesbury!"
Where's Doonesbury? Thanks to an outcry by fans of Garry Trudeau, his cartoon strip is making a return. There will be a catch-up omnibus of this week's Doonesbury in G2 on Friday and the strip will return daily from Monday. For a full explanation by the fool who dropped it, see page 3.
At which point....

Loud minorities can make your life hell. Still, serves Katz right for claiming "that the strip can be inaccessible to those not familiar with the minutiae of American current affairs..."

Huh?! Amongst Guardian readers? Really? I would have to say I don't think so...

For those who cannot wait, go here for daily Doonesburyness.

Incapacity Benefit and the impact of flat taxes on welfare spending

Following Shuggy's post on flat taxes, a comment suggested that welfare budgets need cutting (flat txes would pretty much guarantee a reduced purse for public spending). The comment was justified with reference to notion that the '2m people on Incapacity Benefit cannot possibly all be incapable of working'.

Shuggy wisely replied:
"From my professional experience, I know for a fact that invalidity benefit is abused by some, although how many are claiming it fraudulently, I've no idea - and neither do you.

However, in relation to its rise a number of factors should be taken into account: 1) The Benefits Agency is dependent on the medical evidence of the claimant's GP and is not, therefore, responsible for the growth in claims; it certainly isn't because it's become easier to claim. 2) If you consider why you have so many doctors are apparently sympathetic to their pateient's demands, you have to consider the reality that part of the reason is Jobseeker's Allowance has become so difficult to claim.

I worked in the benefits agency during the Major years under the regime put in place by the Guardian's favourite: Ken Clarke. Their determination to get people off the unemployment register was an impressive sight to behold. The truth is, invalidity benefit claims are one of the biggest masks to the true level of unemployment and underemployment in this country.
Those who criticise the expenditure on benefits and the public purse seem all too often to be falling to the media/government focus on those who defraud the system rather than on those whose under-claiming results in millions being unclaimed. Flat taxes are not the solution, and assumptions about the scale of benefit fraud as a justification for reducing welfare expenditure do nothing to help those in most need affected by a reduced public purse.

Street Song of Life

Cloud gives the song on his lips, drawing immediate comment for spelling, followed by much lyric citation.

Check it out.

Now what would be my line...?

On "the need to pee on Virgin"

That's peeing on Virgin trains, not peeing on virgins...

Totally different thing; would not expect Norm to blog on the latter...


Reality TV with sheep. Heard on BBC Radio 4 news this morning.
Zagreb - Croatia has launched a new reality show on the Internet, starring sheep instead of people.The winner of the 10-day Stado (herd) show, which closes on September 17, will receive poetry in its honour instead of money.

Those voted out of the seven-member herd might be eaten, the Vecernji List daily reported on Wednesday.

The show can be followed 24 hours a day on the website, where visitors can see how the sheep feed and interact with each other.They can then choose which sheep to vote out.
How do you know which sheep to vote out?

I have visions of a sheep being wrongly identified to be dragged out and baa-ing "but I was good! I ate lots of grass, I pooped entertainingly. And my wool looks nothing like hers! You've got the wrong sheep!"

Good job the whole event has been dreamed up by an artist Sinisa Labrovic in order to comment on Big Brother style television...

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


So, the 6Music debate says "Overrated?".

Now is the issue stuff deemed 'classic' that is overrated, or stuff currently deemed to be a 'future classic'? Clearly the latter could include all manner of nonsense that it would be easy to spot as being overrated, whereas the former always battle against what people feel they should like.

Currently overrated: anything by Coldplay, but most especially their current album X & Y
Long term overrated: I'm in a quandry about this because as Cloud notes most of the artistes I am most passionate about are huge fans of his, but I would have to say I was probably too young to get the whole Ziggy Stardust thing. And it doesn't help that Bowie has kept churning out stuff of middling quality. (I do like some of his individual songs - just not whole albums, and not this one)

Really sorry folks. Educate me. I'm even pretty sure I could have chosen a more fitting "overrated" option... just can't choose which

Day Two of the Berliner: already someone I know in it

Cloud spotted yesterday that only two days in and someone I know personally has been featured in the new look Guardian: that would be Nottingham's Pro-Vice Chancellor doing his bit for UK-Chinese relations by promoting the officially opened Ningbo campus (scroll). And noting the deja vu feelings induced by the architecture...

I'd load the pics but they don't work:

Of course, there is nothing problematic at all with this 'special relationship' the university is setting up with China... no siree bob...

Shuggy on flat taxes (updated)

Grand contribution to this topic from Shuggy, including a nice history lesson on tax and benefit system changes in recent decades.

Update: 15th September
For the record, Shuggy of course is a fine young man talking about contemporary issues. Use of the word "history" was not intended to age him or suggest he should be off with his cocoa...

Gulp: what with this and irking Reidski with comments about the possibility that Bowie might be less than God-like to my own (obviously ignorant) cultural tastes, I'm in danger of losing my readers just as I turn one year old. Of course, the latter may explain why I am so dim: I'm only a toddler...

Banking drives me to a breakdown!


Sorry, had to blog this as I am at wits end and I will not be able to concentrate for a few minutes at work.

I had to cancel a cheque. Long story, unnecessary for the purposes of this blog but it involved a cat, a band doing their own admin, and a very very lovely guy trying to send me some musical goodies. The band are great, wonderful cat-loving people: but right now my bank has just nearly driven me to insanity.

1) could not fathom how to cancel a cheque on the online banking (I use that most of the time now but this task eluded me)
2) try to get number to phone up
3) end up searching yellow pages
4) try call calling only to be told I need to enter selected digits from a passcode (today I did not have my notebook wherein my passcode is written in a disguised form)
5) hold on phone for 5 mins until voice-over finally stops telling me to enter the selected passcode digits
6) voiceover tells me I will be put through to an operator who will further ask for selected digits from my passcode and that I should not give out the full passcode number
7) by this stage wanting to bang phone against hard object, or my head
8) voice answers and asks for security information... names, dates of birth etc...
9) ... and then asks for a precise figure and date of a direct debit from my account...
10) can reel off which they are and rough dates but have to RE-LOG onto the online banking to get details: tried to explain I use online banking but girl would not say if cancelling a cheque was something I could not do on line or if I was just being stupid. If the latter I would have been happy just to be told what to do online to sort it out...
11) am advised a new passcode will be sent out - I DO NOT NEED A NEW PASSCODE! I have a passcode, just not mentally on me today (though I am now going mentally up the wall)
12) telephone girl says that if I follow the procedure when the new one is received I can get it changed to something I can easily remember
13) I begin to feel a loud scream roaring in my head that I just want to cancel a bloody cheque!
14) try to fight my screeching irrationality that says last time I tried to reset the passcode the phone system at the bank got more confused and would only allow me to confirm the one I had been given
15) when I had tried to get through to a person I had once again been given a NEW passcode...
16) "why do you need to cancel the cheque?" "Wel, we think a cat possibly ate it" (I was attempting to inject some humour... see despite being near screaming point I was still trying to be jovial
17) "so it was lost in the post?" (obviously cats eating cheques isn't on the list of options)
18) wearily accept this and finally the cheque is cancelled

I'd have been better off accepting the cat had ate it and not bothering with the bank...

Okay, can breathe again now without wanting to kick things.... back to sorting timetables for drop-in advice sessions for the new semester.


I feel terrible: it was Cloud's birthday yesterday too and he was a little older than me.

Happy birthday to Cloud!

Thanks for the cake and congratulations. Cheers to all!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Does anyone else think this provocative, odd, amusing?

Photographed this by the marina at Lincoln. Quirky.

More wince-inducing funniness

Cannot help but smile at this.

Funny all day

Even though it makes me wince.

Three Beautiful Things

Courtesy of Joe In Vegas who directs me to the daily beautiful things at the site of Clare.

Today mine are:
Being fitter than I have been in a while: I've started going to a gym and I'm going to get a personal fitness programme
Sunshine: the sun has shone into my office for both of my first two days back at work
My Blog Birthday: I never thought I would get here

MY BLOG BIRTHDAY!!! (oops, I forgot!)

It was only 'cos I clicked on an archive item I just realised it's my blog birthday!

One year ago today I invited people to enter this blog. Look at the chaos I have caused since then: to name just a few things, I've been in the middle of blogwars;I've dug myself into big holes which have allowed Darren to torment me; I've been completely unhelpful to the struggling author in not succumbing to the D.T.; and somehow the site has had just over 7,800 visits [I don't even think they are all mine, though probably a good proportion are].

Thanks for all the support, kind / unkind comments offered (someone is reading me! yeah! - they're not a spammer, bigger yeah!), and most of all for the utterly cool people I have made the acquaintance of during the past year.

Do I really fancy that? (and why the heck do you?)

Great post from PooterGeek circulating the web and found via Norm.

I'm not sure that there is anyone I fancy/find attractive that I'm not prepared to 'fess up to...

Okay, that probably lays me down as an open target for anyone who knows met to 'fess up for me with some grotesquely embarrassing example (NB anything I stated from before 1990 doesn't count). It's pretty much a list of usual suspects anyway for anyone who reads this blog regularly: a preponderance of Scots with good hair [note to self, should expand the links on Scottish actors on my sidebar], the charming long-fingered one sometimes called Darren Spooner...

On the 'mystfied' scale though, there are any number of examples I could give: pretty much anyone from a boy band (that means you Ronan Keating); Brad Pitt (sometimes a good actor but I just do not find him attractive); anyone with over-developed muscles; David Beckham; and perhaps the one I find most inexplicable, Jude Law. I just do not get Jude Law at all.

ToBe Tv

I hate "ToBeContinued" TV ... (Tobe's as they are known in our house). Last night Spooks and Without a Trace both did it. The first I knew about so was prepped for the cliff-hanger which is resolved tonight, but Without a Trace hadn't alerted itself to me as a ToBe and that doesn't complete till next Monday [Note: I do not have E4].

Still, something that I do wish to register a comment on are the trailers now commonly shown at the end of episodes for the following one: it is nigh impossible for these to not reveal key elements of the plot/character development, and rather like continuity announcers assuming we have already watched things on E4 it is mighty annoying.

Monday, September 12, 2005

I normally hate these type of comment pieces, but I had to smile at this yesterday:
There are all sorts of advantages to not living in London. You can not see a member of the cast of EastEnders for weeks, maybe whole months at a time. You don't, when you go to Gap, as I did yesterday, and can't be bothered to queue for the changing room and are trying on a T-shirt over your T-shirt and your hair's gone all weird and static, look up, see someone you know and say 'Hi!' and then realise it's Paul Whitehouse. Who you obviously don't know. But who now believes you're his psycho stalker.
It sums up what I would call "a Tom Paulin moment", except as Cloud points out with Tom Paulin it is obviously much less embarrassing as having been a lecturer Paulin wouldn't know if you weren't perhaps one of his long-forgotten students from distant years past.

Didn't stop me feeling a right twonk when I once nearly greeted the aforementioned Paulin when crossing the road in Oxford. Guy is calmly walking his kids across the road towards me, with me frantically thinking "I know that man! I should say hello! I can't remember his name or why I know him!" So I grin inanely and start to gesture a passing wave and open mouth for hello when I realise who he is: I'd been watching Newsnight Review the previous evening.

Zero de conduite.

Cheering the score

This - courtesy of Joe In Vegas - is just too cool to not link to. Scroll on Daniel's post for the real kicking cuteness.

The slow burn of "This Life"

They spoke about it being a "cult series" (that's usually short for genre TV, sci-fi for example). In this instance I guess they mean 'not many people watched it' (though they admit to 4 million).
Mind, they did say it had "begun without fanfare"...

Understatement! I think it was Cloud who got into "This Life" first. I pretty well seem to recall it was on its third showing by the time audiences had caught up with it properly and it had took off. Now it may be reprised in a one-off drama... unsure how I feel about that, though I have often recalled the series.

I still have the season 2 finale on videotape. I think Cloud thought I was demented for the utterly exhultant manner in which I leapt off the sofa shrieking "YES!" at the vengeance wrought by Milly on the scheming Rachel with her well-aimed punch. I had been close to tears when Rachel had "let slip" her observations about Milly's relationship with her boss, especially as Milly had just had the courage to break off that self-destructive and exploited affair and was finally getting some shot at happiness. The punch just gave vent to the frustration felt as I had dug my fingers in my palm in response to the sheer vindictiveness of Rachel.

I'd like to think that Rachel got her come-uppance beyond that great punch, but my realistic attitude to life says the character probably still went on to success... never mind real life sucks, sometimes fiction does too...

Who said there was justice?

Real life sucks.

Still, yeah, I can imagine how she feels (whatever she may say...)

Flow article on compilations, mixing, and the art of the tape

Neat article this, courtesy of Paul W. (met at BAAS Cambridge this year). Following the links you get to read some Sonic Youth comments, see some corking mix tape lists, and further info on mixes.

Of course, do remember that "Home taping's killing music" (as Misty's Big Adventure sing...)

Bowling, bowling

Phew! That was some bowling performance after the number of runs Australia churned out. Now, as the weather brightens, England must get the runs in themselves and not succumb to the impact of a certain bowler...

Friday, September 09, 2005

That draw at Old Trafford = potentially costly?

No one would dispute that the England cricket team have been involved in one of the most exciting bits of test cricket for many seasons, but as Australia clock up the runs having got England out for 373, it seems horribly possible that the (squandered win?) draw at Old Trafford is making things more uncomfortable than they should be for the England side.

Just a thought...

Giving 100% at work - something on my mind as I am in the office before my contract restarts

I think I need to take this approach more often...

... instead of conscienciously prepping for the new working year by having regularly checked my emails over the summer weeks and having seen students and popping in the office to sort out photocopies and paperwork. My 42 week contract already had 4 extra weeks of work due to changes in my proposed schedule of work come this September, and then I went and behaved like that for the remaining 6 weeks...

I am officially overworking in terms of 100%...

[Hat tip: Paul at Pulp Movies]

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The dyslexia "myth" and the damage of documentary controversies

Documentary controversies such as the forthcoming one on dyslexia may catch the headlines, but the problem is that on many occasions the media is just ill-equiped to present the nuances that may lay behind such dramatic claims as "dyslexia doesn't exist". Whilst some of what Professor Julian Elliott presents has some justification (especially in terms of there being a need for earlier intervention to resolves reading difficulties, for all pupils regardless of intellectual ability), the manner in which the argument has been presented does few favours to those currently being supported as dyslexic for whom realising that there is a different way to make progress educationally is revelationary and reassuring.

I would also argue that the situation becomes even more complex when dealing with older children and adults being identified as dyslexic.

Is 'dyslexia' being used as a catch-all term for all poor readers, for those inexperienced in education presenting difficulties with memory, comprehension, visual processing and reading skills? Possibly in some cases yes; but then what is happening to those who cannot be identified as 'dyslexic'? One of the problems with Elliot's argument is that it suggests that predominantly bright children - or rather those who do well at IQ tests [NOT THE SAME THING] - are being identified as dyslexic. One of our regular educational psychologists said that he measures in along a spectrum by comparing students' abilities with the performances of those in the same age bracket and IQ results as well as in response to the broader tests.

Are too many being left behind who cannot / are not identified as dyslexic? Possibly, but given that I work with older teenagers and adults who have often had little support or identification as being dyslexic - and not all are just educationally inexperienced - seeing the progress some can make when different teaching tactics are used is very rewarding. It seems there is still difficulty in getting the right support for learners regardless of how much attention seems to be being paid to dyslexia (going on what Elliott suggests).

Solution? A less restrictive manner and approach to teaching skills at school from the earliest age; and inculcation that reading and learning are not just things that happens in schools for the purpose of passing assessments and examinations; and less convoluted appraisal systems for identifying dyslexia. The label might be problematic and might be covering some bigger problems but that doesn't mean that the best thing we can do is ditch the idea of dyslexia wholesale. Those who have found supoprt to enable them to achieve because of 'dyslexia' being identified deserve better than to be told their efforts and who they are is meaningless.

Note to researchers: high profile documentaries with 'sexy' claims designed to catch controversial headlines may not be the best way to change orthodox thinking.

That sound of banging and a low groan is John at Counago&Spaves

... wailing that the world of music has done the dirty by awarding the Mercury Music Prize to his "favourite" artiste of the last year... (who, btw, scarcely qualifies anyway!)

John, I was feeling for you when spotted the news on Ceefax last night...

Monday, September 05, 2005

Licquorice and Ginger Choc Chip ice cream

Cloud has terrible taste.

I stuck with Wild Cherry (and very yummy it was too).

Visit the Ice Cream Parlour on Bailgate, Lincoln if you are in the area!

Loch Muick

In the shadow of Lochnagar (but no royals in sight).

Aberdeen beach

A nice pic.

Have lost several blogs as blogger keeps crashing


Very cross.

6 music name checks

BTW, it was fun on Saturday to get up to hear 6Music having a mini-poll on PJ Harvey.

Text George to tell him about it; next thing I know, it's George's name being read out "... from sunny Aberdeen suggests the little known 'Perfect Day Elise'..." and we yelp over in Nottingham!

I leave a call on G's home phone to say we just heard him. Then send my own text of support for the track "from not so sunny Nottingham"

Only thing is that next receipt is a text to G to say they're doing a PJ Harvey selection on 6Music and that he had suggested "Perfect Day Elise"... erm...

Text back and it turns out he'd missed our texts and calls and had been in the shower when his name got mentioned!

Still, not long after we got our support read out so it all ended fine (shame that the track we suggested made second spot: but "Sheela-na-gig" is a great track too!)

And G: if you are quick, you could hear your name-check on "listen again" till end of Friday 9th.

Blind Pew at the Tunnels in Aberdeen

Should have done this ages ago.

Saw these guys during our break in Aberdeen. They were great fun (even dealing with the mad, middle-aged bloke dancing in front of the stage!) and any band that can integrate an utterly rocked out version of the appropriated tune that was Black Box's "Ride on Time" is good for me!

Was too busy laughing till now to blog this

This has been amusing Cloud and myself since we read it. I don't think we will stop laughing for some time.
So for now, we can all endure the love call of today: "We love each other. We have reached the golden apex of transcendental love. Please buy us a bread bin."

"Someone else's garden..."

"I myself am incapable of growing anything. It seems that all a plant needs to survive is air, water, food, light and to be in someone else's garden."
That is apart from weeds... they'll grow no matter what we do (including throwing copious amounts of weedkiller at them). Rebecca Front is right.

Scrumping the Bishop's blackberries

Nothing rude, nor anything to do with new technology.

Cloud and I went to Lincoln for the day yesterday (confession: my first ever visit - I am a bad resident of the East Midlands) and had a FABULOUS day, culminating in scrumping some lush looking blackberries from the grounds of the Bishop's Palace by the cathedral.

Am sure that by ancient statutes we would probably come to violent death at the hands of Dog / the "sky bully" for such an act, but lacking much belief that way, we'll settle for just feeling a bit naughty.

Friday, September 02, 2005

BWAH! Lord of the rings goes black and smudgey

Rob. You are brilliant.

This is hilarious.

Southern Electric Selling Tactics Suck

Got door-stopped last night by bloke who tried to "sell" us a transfer to Southern Electric without making it clear he was trying to sell us something.

Sent him packing.

I'm sorry, but when someone turns up saying "you are a preferred customer" for a company I have never heard of let alone have any connection with, my reaction says "you want my money" and I say aloud "Sorry, I am not interested in transferring supplier to give you my money." When they persist in rabbiting that "you are currently paying too much for my energy supplies", my alarm bells go off to say "you want my money" and I say aloud "Sorry, I really am not interested in transferring supplier to give you my money."

When despite making it clear I am not interested in hearing about, let alone transferring to, Southern Electric and still the guy does not get off my doorstep, I find myself saying "I really would appreciate it if you would leave." As I try to close the door and see he is still standing there, still talking (now in confused tone bewailing that I am "a preferred customer" [NB I am not anything of the sort - I am a potential customer, one who he is desparate to get to sign up, even if that involves me being baffled by language that tries to avoid admitting it wants my money]) I get cranky: now I ask again for him to leave.

Still he stands there. I now take the freephone card he had offered earlier and say once more I am not interested in Southern Electric and I do not at the current time wish to change suppliers (this is about the 5th time I have said as much since he began to give his spiel). He is still trying to do his pitch, and I am now telling him again to get off my doorstep as his tactics are now bordering on harassment. As he still keeps going, still confused in his tone of babbling about "preferred customer status" at my address [aka I do not currently use Southern Electric], I say a firm "thank you - I will now be calling to complain to your freephone number about your tactics for selling the services of Southern Electric". I shut the door and note it still takes him nearly a minute to leave the doorstep.

I call Southern Electric, who are actually remarkably efficient and polite about the visit and registering my complaint. However, given that EnergyWatch don't think much of their tactics, I don't have any compunction about posting this rant.

Southern Electric Suck.

Holding On: a DVD I have been looking out for...

At last!

Another one to tick off my grumble list. (Okay so it was released last month, but I'm not quite the kind of geek who checks every day for every main topic for updates).

Back when Our Friends in the North was winning plaudits everywhere, it seemed a tough act to offer another multi-stranded character-based drama so soon afterwards.

Somehow, "Holding On" (known in our house as "Our Friends in the South" - a name I am sure must have come from the Guardian) nevertheless won us over. Well, for a start it had David Morrissey in the lead role. We'd initially seen him in The Knock, the first series of which was actually rather good, and not long after he was again heartbreakingly good in Our Mutual Friend.

There's a nice piece about "Holding On" on Off the Telly but it is VERY SPOILER-ISH!

Still, if you watched "Our Friends in the North" and liked that, and didn't see this at the time, then see it now. Recommended.