Friday, April 28, 2006

 

Weekend and a meme

A quick update before the weekend as I wont be back to blog until Tuesday at the earliest. A long weekend beckons - we're going to see my sister and on Monday is the Battleship Potemkin/Pet Shop Boys concert! Yay!

I don't really have much else to say, so I'll do this meme which I roped myself into over on
Deb's Livejournal yesterday!

This is how it works: Comment on this entry and I will give you a letter. Write ten words beginning with that letter in your journal, including an explanation what the word means to you and why, and then pass out letters to those who want to play along.

Deb wants me to use "B"....bugger!

1. Blog - It's nearly a year since I started blogging. It's been a wild and wacky ride so far, but I'm still thoroughly enjoying doing it, much to Martha's dismay I think! I kind of wish I'd started one sooner before everyone else hopped on the bandwagon, but never mind!


2. Bunnies - We used to keep and breed white rabbits. Our first rabbit was called Hopper, how original! Seeing a rabbit run full of little baby bunnies is sooo cute! Cleaning out their hutches wasn't so cute though!

3. BINGO - What you get if you use all 7 letters in Scrabble, which is something I rarely do. However, if it weren't for Scrabble I'd never have become aquainted with Deb and she'd never have given me the letter "B" for this meme! Grrrr!

4. Behaviour - Not the way people act, but the Pet Shop Boys album of the same name. One of their finest albums and released while I was at University, so it brings back a lot of memories for me.

5. Banks - or "Bane of my Life". If banks didn't exist the world would be a better place. Doing a quick search for my bank's name online it appears I'm not the only one who thinks this. How it is that in a world of hi-speed internet a bank is still incapable of transferring money from one account to another instantly...after all it's only numbers.

6. Bristles - What I regularly have on my chin. I only shave once a week if I can help it. My skin would break out in a rash otherwise. People think I'm just being lazy, and I guess that's partly true, but if it's the difference between designer stubble and having a face like a pizza, I'm going to go with the Sonny Crockett look every time.

7. Boots - I love boots. I used to have trouble with shoes digging into my ankles, so eventually took to wearing smart ankle high boots. Only recently have I decided to try shoes again, and am doing very well with Timberlands. The cut is low which means they don't trouble my ankles.

8. Blanket - A few posts back I mentioned a security blanket I used to have. I can't believe my Mum still has it and Audrey seems to like it now. It got psychadelic elephants on it. Groovy!

9. Blackadder - My favourite TV comedy. It owes a lot to other comedy greats, but stands the test of time remarkably well. I'm so glad they finished making it on a high - it would have been terrible to milk it for too long and spoil a good thing. If it's ever on TV I'll always stop to watch it.

10. Balamory - or rather,
kids TV in general. Balamory is a current tots show, so we watch it a lot because of Audrey. I'm a little bit concerned about the TV output in Canada for when we move, because I think we actually have much better programmes made here and Audrey wont get to see some of her favourites. Mind you, I don't want her becoming a couch potato anyway so hopefully she'll also realise the TV over there is rubbish and "go and do something less boring instead."

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

 

A Gabby First!

Somewhat untypically of me I didn't blog about last weekend...it's usually the first thing I do on a Sunday or Monday night, but I was rather eager to get my news about the Canada move out there which I'd been postponing for several days for one reason or another.

However, that's not to say that the weekend was any less important, and it was a bit of first for me and Martha.

On Sunday we roused ourselves out of bed at a time normally allocated for weekdays only and got in the car to go to Chester Zoo, which is a good two hour drive away. Yes, there are zoos much closer to us than that, but the intention of the trip was not strictly to enjoy the animals, but to meet up for the very first time with Canadian/British blogchums Carla and Garry and their baby son Jarrod.

What originally struck me about them, when I stumbled upon their blogs, was how incredibly similar their lives seemed to be to ours. I thought I'd found our doppelgangers, and after several months of email tennis we finally made arrangements to meet up.

It's fair to say I think that Martha and I are not the most outgoing and chatty people on the planet, so meeting up with relative strangers was quite a nerve racking experience, but we did have a good time at the zoo, and Carla and Garry were wonderful hosts. Also Jarrod is a super baby even though he took rather too much of a shine to my sweater for some reason! :-)

Audrey for her part was pretty well behaved. The excitement of the day kept her from having a nap until mid afternoon, so she did get kind of cranky at one stage before passing out with a bottle of milk inside the aquarium section of the zoo.

We headed home after supper (we want that corn muffin recipe please Carla!) which allowed Audrey to fall asleep on the way home - except she didn't until about ten minutes from our doorstep - but she was pretty good for the whole journey back. All in all we had a wonderful day...hopefully Carla and Garry feel the same way.

I have to admit that occasionally I look down my Blogchums list and wonder what you guys are all like in real life. To finally meet people off that list has been a really great experience and something I'd like to do again, given the opportunity. Obviously there's always the worry that you're not going to get along with people one bit so perhaps there's an argument for keeping things "virtual" as well, but my general feeling is that people gravitate towards others for a reason - that might be because of similar interests, although I find that to be less true with many of you as you have many different tastes and interests to mine - maybe it's more to do with an outlook or perspective on life that we're attuned or can relate to.

I can't really put my finger on it, but whatever it is, it's nice.

I'll leave you with some animal pics from the Chester Zoo!



Wednesday, April 26, 2006

 

Bowing Out HNT

This will sadly be my last HNT submission for a while - why?

Read this to find out.

Basically Martha and I simply don't have the time right now to do them and really need to be focussing on other things. However, this does not mean I wont be back - I have every intention to return to HNT just as soon as I possibly can, particularly since there have been lots of people who have made requests and I have tons of movie related ones I'd really like to do too. So, this isn't the end, be sure of that!

Today's HNT is a poster from a pretty average horror flick which is really only notable because one of the main actors in it is my fave director David Cronenberg, and I didn't want to miss the opportunity of crowbarring in a Canadian connection given the circumstances for me bowing out.

The tag line is also quite funny!

Certainly not a film that will be to everyones liking, so not one I will be heartily recommending you all to see. In fact I'd sooner you watched a movie directed by Cronenberg rather than one with him acting in it. Actually having said that, he's in a rather good movie called "Last Night" which you should all go and rent or buy now!

Happy HNT everyone...and "I'll be back!"



 

Music Meme

I’ve seen this doing the rounds in blogland before, but never done it, so when I saw it over on Sammykate’s Livejournal I decided it was time to give it a go now that all my CD’s are in iTunes.

Set your iPod (or whatever) to "shuffle," then write down the next 20 songs that come up, adding the phrase "in my pants" to each. It's ridiculously childish but I dare you not to chuckle at at least some of these!

Oh what larks Pip!

1. 1963 in my pants - New Order
2. Big Time Sensuality in my pants - Björk
3. Hopelessly Devoted To Them in my pants - The Housemartins
4. Titanic in my pants - Falco
5. I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind Of Thing in my pants - Pet Shop Boys
6. Tear It Up in my pants - Queen
7. King Of Pain in my pants - The Police
8. You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk in my pants - Pet Shop Boys
9. Fall Out in my pants - The Police
10. Old Red Eyes Is Back in my pants - The Beautiful South
11. Don Juan in my pants - Pet Shop Boys
12. I Held Her In My Arms in my pants - Violent Femmes
13. So Hard in my pants - Pet Shop Boys
14. Caramia in my pants - Indigo Girls
15. Mooz in my pants - 808 State
16. Ship Of Fools in my pants – Erasure
17. Don't Let's Start in my pants - They Might Be Giants
18. Second Nature in my pants - Electronic
19. One Last Try in my pants - Ganymede
20. Sweet Lips in my pants – Monaco

And the bonus track:-
I Love You in my pants - Erasure

 

It finally happened...I'm slightly mad.

I'm taking half a day off today to take Audrey up to the local playgroup. Parents are encouraged to go for their first time to see if they are happy to be there, and then in a few weeks Audrey will be able to go once or twice a week on her own.

Fortunately, though, Audrey has actually already been up there because our childminder takes her daughter there too, so she already knows the turf a little bit even though she's not stayed there for any extended length of time. I think she may even have a few friends there too.

Obviously with the move she wont be there really long enough to properly adjust and we've been told it might not even be worth her going at all, but we'll see. Personally I think it's important for her to have these new experiences even if it is only going to be for a couple of days. Call me cruel, but I've never given a second thought to throwing Audrey into new situations because I think it helps her to be adaptable and hopefully in the long run more outgoing. I really hope she wont be as shy as me as an adult.

I'm also hoping Martha and I will be able to utilise this afternoon for getting some things done around the house too. It is so difficult to get motivated in the evenings after a day at work. By the time you've had supper and got Audrey to bed the last thing you want to do is turn you brain on to figuring out what you want to take to Canada, and packing it.

My mind gets easily flustered when I start to think of all the stuff we have to do between now and mid-June, and I should probably make a list of these things as I think of them. Maybe it wont seem so daunting when it's all written down on a sheet of paper.

It's in my nature to plan everything to the last detail, and if i don't dot every "i" and cross every "t" I'll surely be like a headless chicken. I should probably relax more, and try to be less anal about it all, I know, but I don't think that's going to happen with me. It's just not the way my mind works.

Oh crap, I also have to sort out an HNT tonight too - you see! There I go - my mind's racing off again! Argh!


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

 

Being *Very* Boring!

I'm very annoyed about something.

Unfortunately I think there was an inevitability about it that maybe I should have come to terms with sooner.

The new Pet Shop Boys single "I'm With Stupid" is out on May 8th, and as usual it's being released on several different formats (CD, DVD and vinyl). However, they're holding back the remixes of the song for online download ONLY! Aaaaaaaaaargh!

On their website they've excused themselves by saying that UK rules stop them from putting more out on the existing formats, but strangely this hasn't ever stopped them before. As I've said previously, I find the whole idea of downloading music legally in an iTunes stylee quite irksome. At the end of the day it's merely a digital file that can quite easily be erased, misplaced, or corrupted. There are a no sleeve notes, no clever design, no packaging.


It's boring, boring, boring!

I'm in two minds about this. I can shell out for the digital downloads which doubtless will be 79p on iTunes I would guess - it's not going to break the bank at Monte Carlo but thats not the issue here - or if I'm willing to be patient and wait there's a good chance that somewhere in Europe, Japan or the USA the single will get released with all of the remixes included on CD or possibly vinyl. I could buy both, but if the mixes came out on CD in the first place I'd only upload them into iTunes anyway, so whats the point?

Some people will argue that as a fan I'm more likely to buy both anyway, but the bottom line is I usually only buy TWO or more copies of a record/CD if there is something tangibly different about them (like a different sleeve design). With a digital download there's nothing to set it apart from any potential CD release of the same track.

I know the record labels have to move with the times, and I also know that the PSB's have always been keen to move with them too, but there are surely ways to get around this daft legislation over how many minutes of music you're allowed to put on a CD single.

Since we're off this weekend to see them, maybe I should take some protest signs along to the gig? D'you think they'll take any notice?

Nah, me either.

I'm off to sulk.



Monday, April 24, 2006

 

Go West!

The more perceptive readers among you may have noticed recently that I've been dropping some hints about stuff going on in my life which has actually been making it incredibly hard to find time to do any blogging at all.

Yes, it's VERY busy chez Kagan right now because we're packing up all our belongings in preparation for our imminent departure from this house that we've been renting for almost a year, but to be honest it's where we're moving to that's more important.

We're leaving the UK and emigrating to Canada!

I know for some of you this isn't a surprise, but I'm fairly sure that there will be a few readers who's jaws just fell to the floor as well.

The "plan" to move started as a seed about 2 years ago. With house prices seeming to be at a peak we decided to sell up and rent. House prices have continued to rise a little since, but not as significantly as they had been, so I still feel fairly justified in selling when we did.

After that it was a case of getting together all the crap required to get a visa to remain in Canada. It's a "sponsorship" deal whereby Martha is my sponsor. I wont go into the nitty gritty, but needless to say it took several months, a medical examination, lots of passport sized photos and the exposure of some very personal and private letters between myself and Martha to the powers that be to get it.

My visa arrived in mid-March and I have to present myself to Canadian immigration before mid-August. That's not to say I must leave the UK and never come back, but we've decided that that is what we might as well do given our current situation.

We've handed in our notice at work, given the childminder notice as well, and we're trying to pack our stuff ready to ship it all to Canada and get all our affairs straightened out here. We're selling a bunch of stuff on eBay (mostly electricals) and we have one way flights booked for June 17th.

Am I scared? Hell yeah!

Am I exited? Hell yeah!

Am I thinking we'll never get all our stuff sorted out in time? Hell yeah!

So, now you know, and now you're going to hear about nothing else in my blog...well maybe not actually, but you'll be hearing a lot more about it that's for sure.

It may have also occurred to you that as a result there may be some disruption to this blog in the coming weeks and months. HNT is getting progressively harder to find the time to do, so that'll probably be the first thing to go. Fear not though, as I do plan to get back to blogging as normally as possible once things have settled down a bit (and once I have a computer/internet over there). I've even thought about refurbishing this blog or swopping entirely to something else, like Livejournal. A clean break if you like. We'll see.

Anyway, rest assured that I'll keep you all posted on whats going on and where you can contact us once we've found our feet in Martha's home and native land.

You can pick youselves up off of the floor now. Goodnight.

Friday, April 21, 2006

 

Thank God It's Friday!

I mean that most sincerely.

As expected the four day week felt much longer and I for one am glad it's over.

I had hoped to do a newsy blog tonight, but to be honest I'm tired and could really do with an early night. It'll have to wait until Monday...plus who reads blogs at the weekend anyway - I'd hate for anyone to miss my news! ;-)

We all appear to be coming down with colds AGAIN! Audrey's got a nasty cough, but I've just put her down for the night and haven't heard a peep, so presumably she just passed out when her head hit the pillow. Martha's complaining of a chesty cough, and I just feel headachy.

So here's the plan - hot cup of cocoa and early to bed, pump myself full of vitamin C tomorrow, and hope to goodness it doesn't get worse.

It's Spring now - cold season is meant to be over!

Bon weekend everyone!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

 

Go Ann, Go! Whizz Away, Whizz Away!

Over on Ann's blog is a link to this.

OK, that kind of defeats the object of going over to her blog, but check it out. She's doing the 5km Race for Life for Cancer Research and she needs sponsors! I've already put my ten quid in and you should too. I think they take overseas donations too, so no excuses from you non-UK readers!

Generally I'm not one to put my loose change into charity tins, but much prefer to give this way. It's more fun and more personal.

So get over there and lend her your support...

Go on, be off with you! Why are you still here reading this?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

 

Crime Caper HNT

Just before last weeks HNT I blogged about the Union Jack and Britishness. Maybe in some subconscious way thats why I homed in on this movie poster for today's HNT.

I love this film. It's quirky, funny, thrilling and quintessentially British. How could it not be when it stars Michael Caine, Noel Coward and Benny Hill - oh and MINI's! As a former Mini owner there is a real feeling of pride when you see them pull off the massive gold bullion robbery and outrun the Italian police in their puny little Fiat's.

Point of interest - the scenes where the Mini's race down the sewer pipes were filmed in Coventry in a brand new (and at that stage unfinished) sewerage system for the city.

And before anyone asks, I haven't seen the remake - I'm told it's not THAT bad, but I really don't want to spoil a good thing. The original is just too good and I can't believe for a second that a NEW Mini (BMW devil spawn that it is) could even come close to achieving the same effect.

So Happy HNT and it only remains for me to say one further thing:-

"You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!"




 

Not that he reads this but...


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

 

Substance

Found this over on Tish's blog and it looked interesting!

The challenge is to recommend three movies that most people may not know about and say why you like them.

Cool! I'm up for some of that action!

1. Last Night
Canadian actor Don McKellar's directing debut is a funny, thought provoking and sad take on the final hours before the world comes to an end. The lives of several people become intertwined as we discover how they deal with their imminent demise in different ways. There are noteworthy performances from Sandra Oh and Canadian cult director David Cronenberg. It's wonderfully understated at a time when other movies about the earths doom seem to revolve around how many special effects you can cram into 90 minutes.

2. Yume (Dreams)
Akira Kurosawas "Dreams" is a collection of short, unconnected stories which are based upon dreams that the director actually had. Some stories miss the mark, but when they do hit they're bullseye's and every moment of the film is beautifully shot as you'd expect from Kurosawa. With thought provoking stories and a cameo from Martin Scorcese playing Vincent Van Gogh, it'd be hard to find something in here that didn't appeal to everyone, although you could possibly find yourself wading through some stuff you don't like. It is worth it though!

3. Serenity
Not exactly *unknown* but certainly desperately overlooked, this was Joss Whedon's grand finale for his unceremoniously cancelled sci-fi/Western TV show Firefly. The franchise was given a new lease of life on the big screen thanks to fans lobbying for it to be given a second chance. Firefly was an extremely entertaining and well crafted piece of science fiction, both witty and exciting, and on a more adult level than anything like Star Trek ever did. In fact, if you hate Star Trek you should really give Firefly a chance, because the two franchises could not be more different! The movie Serenity picks up from where the TV show left off, but it's not necessary to have seen all 14 episodes of the TV series to figure out whats going on although it certainly helps to be familiar with the characters and their traits. The movie is, like the TV show, funny, exciting, action packed, and has an interesting story that leaves you wanting to find out more at the end. Sadly it looks increasingly likely that we will never find out what Whedon had planned for the story, because although it had "mediocre" success at the cinema the growing DVD sales of both the TV show and the movie seem to be too little too late for the big film studios who obviously prefer to make a quick buck rather than pin their hopes on a slow burner. Nevertheless it looks to me like they'll still be happily cashing cheques from this cult franchise for many years to come.


 

Random Dithering

It seems I have increasingly less time to blog at home, and increasingly more time to blog at work. I know I'm lucky to be working for my parents and that I can get away with this sort of thing. I know a time will come when I wont be so fortunate and I'll have to blog around a completely different schedule. However, before anyone has a go, I am doing this during my lunch hour, so it's not as if anyone else is doing any work either, and if the phone rings I'm still "on duty".

I'm still muddling through this tummy bug I've had since Friday. It's not crippled me in the same way that horrible 24 hour bug did a while ago, but five days of dull ache and the occasional sharp stab can get pretty wearing on a person after a while. I tried to drink lots of water yesterday to flush it out but it doesn't appear to have made the slightest difference, so I've resigned myself to just eating and drinking as I normally would and hopefully it'll just run its course.

I've been trying to think of something worth blogging about, but unfortunately I've drawn a blank - that's what four days off will do to you I suppose. Of course you can bet your bottom dollar that even though it's a four day week it will actually feel more like 8 days come Friday.

Anyway, this long weekend has allowed us to take stock a bit and over the coming weeks we've got plenty of things to do and look forward to.

So, I think before this post gets any more obscure I'll sign off. I promise there'll more clarity in the future!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

 

Long Weekend

Oh my God! A post!
No I hadn't disappeared off the face of the earth (OK, who groaned with disappointment at the back?) but because we're in the middle of a long weekend I kind of took a break from blogging and very nice it's been too, although I have once or twice thought I should do an update.

Good Friday was a gorgeous day for weather, but unfortunately we stayed inside for much of it because we needed to tidy up the house for some people who were coming to view it. We did manage to get out into the garden though - I mowed the lawn (gotta love that fresh mown grass smell!) and Audrey got to play outside too.

At one stage Audrey was playing with a puzzle which has a picture of a dog in a kennel on it - next to the kennel is a sign that says "DOG". I wasn't especially paying attention, but she very quickly got my attention when she said to me totally unprompted "That says *DOG*!" and pointed to the sign on the picture, then proceeded to spell it "D...O...G...W!" OK, close enough - I'm not about to get picky!!!

Anyway, in the middle of the day Martha and I both complained of not feeling quite right in the tummy, and even tody we're still not 100%. Nothing major, but obviously some annoying little bug we've got from somewhere.

By the end of the day we weren't feeling up for much else, so we watched a couple of episodes of Firefly and waited for the Pet Shop Boys video of "I'm With Stupid" to be shown on TV. It was pretty funny and its nice to see them not taking themselves too seriously...you can see the video on their website now too.

On Saturday we again didn't seem to achieve much. Did the usual grocery shop, then I spent the afternoon cooking...a chocolate cake to take to my parents on Sunday, some fresh pasta and pork schnitzels for supper. In the evening we watched the first of the new season of Doctor Who, which I think was a triumph. I never had any reservations about David Tennant taking on the role of the Doctor after Christopher Eccleston and I'm very excited about the sneak peeks we've had of future episodes too. I was also going through some boring paperwork which I guess was something I needed to do, but I ended up getting sidetracked and surfing quite a bit too, so all in all not a terribly productive day.

This morning we got Audrey up and she searched the house for Easter eggs that we had hidden the night before. By the end of breakfast she had scoffed a whole one (they were about the size of a regular egg not huge) but that kept her buzzing all day! We spent the rest of the day at my parents, so we got all our stuff together, including the cake and some frogspawn from our pond which Dad wanted to put into his - now THAT is a gross job...putting frogspawn into a jar! Yeuch!

As we were getting ready to leave we piled all the gear up at the front door, and without a thought I put the chocolate cake on top of Audrey's potty (which we remembered this time!). Next thing you know I see Audrey looking at the cake, she raised both her hands and *splat* pressed them right into the middle of it! I didn't give her too much of a hard time about it because I realised it was an idiotic place for me to put it, but what was funnier was afterwards she kept insisting "I DIDN"T touch the cake!"

Ooh, the little fibber!

Anyway, we got to my folks without any further incident and had a great time there. Good food and good drink as always, and we went for a nice walk down by the nearby canal where Audrey fell asleep in her carrier. While we were there Dad's dog, Delilah, went for a dip and we saw some cows which we got up close to which I think Audrey got a kick out of...I tried to feed them some grass but they weren't interested.

Also, while we were at Mum and Dad's Audrey was playing around with this blanket...MY blanket to be precise! I was inseparable from this blanket as a kid, which earned me the title of Linus (from Peanuts). It was pretty cool because it used to have *arms* which you could tie around you then use the blanket to ride down the stairs on! A bumpy ride yes, but endless fun! Anyway, it's nice to see that all these years later Audrey is getting some fun out of it too.

So now we're back home and chilling out. One more day off to go and then it's back to work...I guess I'd better make it count!



Wednesday, April 12, 2006

 

Stay out of the shower HNT!

It seems to be the way of things that I do nothing about HNT all week and then on Wednesday night panic sets in and I have to come up with an idea.

Given more set up time I think we'd have plenty to choose from, but I really put Martha under pressure on a Wednesday evening to deliver the goods so we try to opt for movie posters that hopefully turn out to be easy to recreate.

This one doesn't really need any introduction. I you haven't seen it by now then you've either just arrived from another planet or have been living as a hermit for the past 50 years. Hang your head in shame if you haven't seen it and if you can't bear to admit it make sure you rent or buy it now so nobody ever needs to know what a fool you've been all this time!

At the time I guess this movie was extremely shocking, but what I find the most scary about it are the appalling sequels which were enough to send anyone into a murdering frenzy...with any luck targeting the people who actually thought it was a good idea to make them.

Happy HNT everybody!


 

I'd rather Jack than Fleetwood Mac

Here's an interesting little fact.

So, the Union Jack flag is 400 years old, and what does it mean to me?

I'm not sure really. I'm proud of my Britishness but not to the point of fanaticism.

When I first went to the USA and Canada it was quite surprising to see how many people had their national flags planted proudly in their front gardens or on top of their houses. It shows your pride for your nation, your place of birth and your heritage and everything that it stands for.

You simply don't get that here because the Union Jack flag has become an icon for fascism and race hate. The term "There Ain't No Black In The Union Jack" just completely undermines any ounce of pride I have in my Britishness and we all end up having to hide any outward show of pride in case we are assumed to be racists.

St.George's Day is also just around the corner and throws up similar issues over being English. With the World Cup football just a couple of months away there will doubtless be a glut of St.George cross flags flying from motor cars and houses as our boys try to win the cup. Football aside though, I think you're probably more likely to get your head kicked in if you fly that flag in Scotland or Ireland, yet we don't have any problem flying the Scottish and Irish flags proudly on their respective Saints days. And if there are any Welsh people reading, we don't care about you in the slightest! (calm down, I'm just kidding!)

I'm guessing England, and Britain as well, has become a victim of its own "success" (I use that term loosly) having once stomped across the world to create a vast empire which has led to us being reviled rather than revered by those countries that became a part of it. It didn't work for the Romans, so why should it be any different for us?

Maybe there is a lesson to be learned here as we turn our gaze from Iraq to Iran, and contemplate whether to extend the American/British reach into yet another oil rich country.

If we're still picking at the scabs of old wounds, is it really a good idea to create new ones?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

 

Little Fluffy Clouds

This is a cute little thing I saw over on Serai's blog.

It's a "word cloud" formed from words taken out my blog so it's sort of concentrated "essence de Gabby"!

The idea is that it goes on a T-Shirt but I don't think I'm quite that vain yet.

I've reproduced it here in black and red fonts side by side because I think it looks groovy!

If you want to do it too, click here!


 

This week I am mostly listening to....

It's been a while since I've done this, and inspired by Deb's music mixes from hell, I thought I'd share with you some of the songs I'm enjoying on the radio at the moment. These are all currently in the Top 40 UK singles chart. I've added a few comments to explain myself too...

Gnarls Barkley - Crazy
Yes, it's overplayed, yes, it's overhyped, but it is a pretty good song...but I'm almost sick of it.

Mary J Blige & U2 - One
I like this more than I might care to admit. Mary J Bilge (sic) is not someone I particularly enjoy, but I rather like this. The ridiculous ending is completely unnecessary though - Bono really should have told her singing "whoooooo one love!" at the end was surplus to requirement!

Black Eyed Peas - Pump It
They just make me laugh, what can I say? Not as good as "Don't Phunk With My Heart" though!

Streets - When You Wasn't Famous
I never ever thought I'd admit to liking a song by the Streets, but it's happened. The tune is catchy, and the lyrics are quite funny. I find it quite charming.

Madonna - Sorry
Still enjoying this a lot, although I am almost sick of it. Time for a new single Madge?

Feeling - Sewn
Lots of people were raving about this so I jumped on the bandwagon. It's kind of outside of my normal musical tastes, but I like the lyrics and it bobs along quite nicely. It's pretty harmless stuff actually.

Sugababes - Red Dress
I really like the Sugababes yet we don't own much of their stuff. They pick good songs to sing, have a slightly "dirty/slutty" appeal, and it all makes for a good pop package. This is what Girl Power should have been about from the start instead of Sporty, Spikey, Mingy, Stinky and Spongy.

Editors - All Sparks
This is a bit Joy Division in style. I liked it from the very first listen. I've heard it said that it's a rather depressing song, but I haven't noticed...I guess I've not listened to the lyrics that closely.

Red Hot Chilli Peppers - Dani California
A late entry I almost forgot to add here because it's not actually out yet so therefore not in the chart! It's the latest RHCP song and I really really like it...never been a big fan but never given them a chance either to be fair. This one got me hooked right away though.

Now, in spite of enjoying these songs, chances are I wont buy them, download them or anything. However, never let it be said that it's only ever about the Pet Shop Boys!



Monday, April 10, 2006

 

Mmmm, the land of chocolate!

So what happened this weekend?

Well not a lot, and quite a lot I guess.

On Saturday I took it upon myself to have a sort through my Coca-Cola collection. Newer readers will have missed my blog about my fascination for all things Coca-Cola when I was a teenager which steadily grew into boxfuls of cans, bottles, tins, toys, soft furnishings and goodness knows what else. At one stage I even had a broken down Coke fridge in my bedroom which I used as a display case for all my Coke stuff.

Anyway, on our last move I didn't chuck any of it away, even though it had all been packed and never reopened pretty much since I got married. I always hoped one day I'd have a house and room big enough to display some of the more unusual items, but that has never happened yet, and I am still kind of hoping that one day it will.

Since we're in the middle of a rather large Spring clean though, I thought it was time to break open the storage boxes and see what had survived three house moves. Suprisingly it was quite a lot, although if anyone reading this has unopened cans of any kind of drink in storage I suggest you go check on them, because what I found wasn't a pretty site! They don't explode, but they do seep! Yuck!

I've thrown away a good chunk of my empty cans, keeping back only the ones that are in some way visually interesting - that's to say ones which are clearly in different langauges (I have ones from Dubai, Korea and I think Japan), or have interesting designs on the whole can. Anything with a special offer or movie/Olympic tie-in went straight in the garbage.

I also chucked away a lot of bottles because they were badly scuffed, and kept only the ones that were pristine. Anything with a paper label was immediately rejected. I also rediscovered a bottle which was given to me by Martha's grandparents - it's straight sided (predating the now famous bottle shape) with "Coca-Cola" moulded into the glass and dates from the early 1900's. Oh yeah, THAT's a keeper alright!

I also found sets of Coke glasses and tumblers, some amazing gadgets and toys which I just can't bear to let go of.

In the end I was up until nearly 3am Saturday night (well Sunday morning) sorting all this stuff out and lovingly repacking it into boxes. On Sunday morning I went down to the local recycling place and dumped all the bottles and cans I'd rejected. I can't say it felt good, but I didn't feel any sadness or regret either. At the end of the day, they're just aluminium and glass and I felt good about recycling them rather than putting them in the garbage for landfill.

As a result of the late night Sunday was a bit of a washout. Martha and I struggled to do anything worthwhile and ended up watching "Field Of Dreams" on TV (one of Kevin Costners finer moments I think - and makes this grown man cry every flippin' time!) and later once Audrey was in bed we saw "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" which is just bloody brilliant!

I'm sorry for all the people who have a soft spot for the Gene Wilder version of this book, but this is so much better. It's still not 100% true to the book, but it IS true to the spirit of Roald Dahl, which is something the "Candyman" song will never ever be.

I think kids actually want to be scared and grossed out when they're being entertained, and as long as the overall intent is not sinister and in good clean fun, I'm all for it. I think there is a sense of wonder and amazement at this sort of thing that kids don't get with something that is all sugarcoated in the extreme and this actually allows kids to realise that the world is also a dangerous and unforgiving place and they need to be wary of what is out there, without completely scaring them to death.

Anyway, it's the start of another week and Easter looms like a giant chocolate egg. I'm not a religious man as many of you know, but let's not forget that it's not all about how sick we can make ourselves on candy, and it's definitely not about bunnies.

Have a good one!


 

Yeah, but no, but yeah, but no, but..oh shut up!

Here are some still shots from the new Pet Shop Boys video for "I'm With Stupid" menacingly ripped by me from Popjustice (link over on the left thank you very much). Am I excited? Is the Pope Catholic?

It stars
Matt Lucas and David Walliams who are somewhat the darlings of British comedy at the moment although some might argue they've almost outstayed their welcome...it remains to be seen whether the PSB's will have an adverse effect on their careers, or whether they will have a positive effect on the PSB's careers. It could go either way I guess - or maybe they'll just drag each other down together!

The video will get its first airplay on
Channel 4 on Friday at a quarter to midnight.

So, on first inspection I guess the video's not going to be too serious then!


Sunday, April 09, 2006

 

Audrey the Artist

Today Audrey drew a picture of her old man on her etch-a-sketch. Can you see the resemblance?

Friday, April 07, 2006

 

Nag, nag, nag.


We're very fortunate where we live. The house is plenty big enough for us and the surrounding gardens and driveway are also of a pretty good size. In fact the driveway is extremely big, with room enough for probably half a dozen or more cars, a large front area with plenty of turning space and a long-ish (by UK standards) driveway through a walled gate down to the road.

Another feature of the house is a concrete wall running the length of the property the other side of which is a public footpath. It's not the prettiest of walls, and is perhaps more reminiscent of a Nazi camp or Russian gulag than anything else. As the driveway tapers up to the garage doors, so the gap between house and wall becomes narrower, and there is space for only one car and this is where Martha parks her lovely Blue Mercedes A-Class.

Now, as a nervous passenger, and terrible backseat driver, just about every time we go out in this car with Martha at the helm, I comment on how unbelievably close she gets to this wall as she turns the car into the large driveway area in order to leave via the gateway. As I said, there's plenty of room to maneuvre so there really isn't any need to get too close to the wall. "Mark my words," I said, "One day you'll ding your car into that wall!"

Well, today it finally happened.

I was at work and up popped an email from Martha with the words "...don't have a go."

Well, I didn't get angry. I was kind of disappointed I guess, because it seems to me that seldom do my words get heeded until it's too late. I know sometimes I talk a lot of crap, but occasionally I do have some valid points to make. Maybe I'm like the boy who cried wolf, and nobody takes me seriously because most of the time what comes out of my mouth is just fluff. I don't know.

Anyway, we exchanged a few tense emails during which I ascertained that the damage might not look AS bad with a wash and some "Colour Magic" and I also warned Martha that this was SO going in my blog today along with photos.

Admittedly the damage to the car isn't THAT bad. It's certainly not the sort of damage that is going to make the car any less likely to work on a day to day basis - it's purely cosmetic. Whether "Colour Magic" is going to do much good is a moot point though. Martha wiped down the scuff marks and it did look "a little" better, but it's still pretty unsightly.

What riles me up the most is men STILL get the pooey end of the stick when it comes to motor car insurance, because women are allegedly BETTER drivers than men. All of this in spite of the results of survey actually proving the contrary last year.

Maybe, as well as a practical driving test and a theory test, learner drivers should also be made to take a test on "spatial awareness" as it seems to me many drivers, men and women included, have absolutely NO idea of what is going on around them once they're inside their cosy little cars.

And before you all start, I admit I'm not a glowing example of driving prowess either, but if I mentioned this wall to her once, I'd mentioned it a thousand times.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury I present to you the photographic evidence.










 

Friday memage from Debo-rah-rah!

I guess I'm on a bit of a meme kick lately...I promise I'll do something with some substance soon!

Go to
Wikipedia. Type in your birth date (but not year). List three events that happened on your birthday, two important birthdays and one interesting death. Post this in your journal.

Events
1939 - Canada declares war on Nazi Germany.
1967 - The people of Gibraltar vote to remain a British dependency rather than becoming part of Spain.
1977 - Last execution by Guillotine in France. Hamida Djandoubi, convicted for torture and murder, was executed at Baumettes Prison in Marseille. (1977!!!! Can you believe that?!)

Birthdays - depends on your definition of "important" Deb!
1938 - Karl Lagerfeld, German fashion designer
1957 - Siobhan Fahey, Irish singer (Bananarama and Shakespeare's Sister)

Death - Nobody especially exciting died on my birthday...this is the best I could muster!
1975 - George Paget Thomson, English physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1892)

Now go away and think about how lucky you are to live in a country where convicted criminals are no longer given the death penalty!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

 

Copied from Priya - Just thought it was cute.


 

Come on, put some effort into it!

If you're looking for HNT, it's underneath this post...

The email scammers are just getting lazy now.

I got this in my email today - normally there'd be a big long heartbreaking spiel before getting to the crux of the matter of transferring X-million dollars into my personal bank account.

This one was distinctly short and sweet! Perhaps mercifully so!

With respect,

I am Thomas Michael and My sister Theresa Michael Our parents Mr. and Mrs. David Michael were assassinated here in IVORY COAST. Before my father's death he had SEVEN MILLION UNITED STATES DOLLARS kept in a well concealed trunk box and deposited with a secutity company here in Abidjan.


I want you to do me a favour to receive these funds to a safe account in your country or any safer place as the beneficiary. I have plans to do investment in your country, like real estate and industrial production. This is my reason for writing to you. Please if you are willing to assist me and my only sister, indicate your interest by replying.

Thanks and best regard.

Thomas Michael.


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

 

Choose Half-Nekkid Thursday

I'm posting very early (on Wednesday evening) simply because I am quite busy these days, so apologies in advance for cheating!

It's been a while since I've seen this film, but it's not one you quickly forget. The director, Danny Boyle, has done some fantastic films, but also some total duffers as well, but I'd heartily recommend this, "Shallow Grave", "28 Days Later" and two short films "Strumpet" and "Vacuuming Completely Nude in Paradise". The last two are somewhat special because one of my best mates produced them, so if nothing else go check them out!

Martha did the Photoshop work as usual, but unfortunately the photograph didn't quite match the original image - for starters I'm not a skinny drug addict but I also kind of got the pose wrong too...so I give you the new character from "Trainspotting", Gayboy!

I couldn't look more camp if I tried!

Happy HNT everyone!



 

Blog this, Blogger!

OK, I know there are a few readers here who will say "I told you so!" and a few here who will go "Well just change and get it over with!" but I have to tell you, I have just about had it with Blogger!

They still haven't resolved the issues I have with uploading photos using the Mac version of Firefox even though they themselves recommend using Firefox for Mac if you use Blogger. So, if thats the case, fix the damn problem idiots!

Secondly, I discovered this morning that my userpic (a photo of me on my 3rd birthday if anyone is wondering) had mysteriously disappeared and instead I was getting the dreaded red X! I checked my account and sure enough it wasn't to be found, so I checked Flickr, which is where the file is located. The thumbnail for it was there but the photo wasn't...WTF?

Anyway, I deleted the file and went to re-upload the photo into Flickr and it all started to become clear...in spite of the fact that the photo has been archived on Flickr for months, it is now apparently too large and they will no longer allow it to be uploaded. Well thanks for telling me, and hmm, maybe it would have been a nice gesture to allow people who HAD uploaded files, that are now deemed too big, to keep the ones they uploaded before you made this decision? Mind you I wasn't too bothered because admittedly the file size was a little on the large size, so I trimmed it down and uploaded it to Flickr, so all seemed good.

Back at Blogger I pasted in the location of the photo and damn me if I don't get another error message saying Blogger will not allow my userpic because...guess what...the filesize is too big! Twice in the space of ten minutes! Yesterday nobody had a problem with the size of my userpic, now all of a sudden neither Blogger nor Flickr will allow it. Grrrr!

So, it was back to the image to trim it down again, reload it up into Flickr and FINALLY get it back into Blogger. Having said that, I still haven't seen it reappear as my userpic on the blog and comments, so maybe there's some other prerequisite I haven't met as well, which 24 hours ago was not considered a problem!

I'm so angry about this...I know it's a free service and I shouldn't complain, but moving the goalposts like that really annoys me. I don't mind if Blogger wants to impose restrictions on NEW users, but for this existing user it's been a complete pain in the ass today!

LiveJournal is calling!


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

 

Real Audio Disc (RAD) versus Digital Audio File Transfer (DAFT)

Am I the only one who thinks that this news story is garbage?

OK, so a record went to No.1 in the UK singles chart based on downloads alone because it hasn't actually been released yet (it was released on CD yesterday). Big deal.

Any single that went straight into the No.1 spot in the past 6 months probably would have had that priviledge had it been released as a download prior to being released on CD. It all rather reeks of a manufactured ruse of some kind, and BBC Radio 1 are taking all the credit for it because they apparently "used" this song first! Oh you're so "cutting edge" Radio 1 - *yawn*!

It's not that I mind the song that much but personally I think the download chart and the CD singles charts should be kept separate to put a stop to this sort of nonsense. They are after all completely different mediums.

It's not big and it's not clever.

 

Cause and Effect

Yes, SPAM can be a menace, but sometimes it makes me chuckle, especially if you read the text at the start of the emails. This one I found particularly funny today for some warped reason. It rather depends on where you put the emphasis on the words...I'd like to think this is said in a Robin talking to Batman styleee!

"Holy Communion, pate, as tugboat at brand-new flamenco director, poppy an mumbo jumbo"

Quite!

In other news we're starting on a massive clear out at home. The sudden reality that we will most likely be homeless at the end of May has sunk in and we've decided to sort out all our stored stuff and hopefully lessen the load when we move out. Hopefully once I get focussed properly on it things will be fine, but right now I feel like my head is in a million different places.

Audrey's milk intake is going extremely well. At the childminders she drank two bottles of whole milk where she'd normally drink soya formula, and at home last night she chugged away at a bottle and a half before bed which is more than normal, and with no outward signs of problems. We're watching out for her eczema though, seeing if she starts scratching, but even this is a huge leap. There was a time when that amount of milk would guarantee her throwing up and breaking out in hives.

Last night Audrey also took what was a pretty bad fall, but actually could also have been much much worse. She'd just finished doing a successful poo on the potty and Martha and I were cleaning up. Audrey likes to put her nappies in the garbage, so she toddled off to to that while I cleaned out her potty in the bathroom. Next thing I knew she came hurtling round the corner, into the bathroom, tripped on the bathmat, and flew headlong into the ceramic wash basin pedestal. There was absolutely nothing I could have done to stop it, it happened so fast, but I saw the whole thing and had visions of her lying unconscious on the bathroom floor. I picked her up and she looked a bit startled. There was a moments silence as she took a deep breath and then the crying started! She actually calmed down pretty quickly, and a nice lump appeared on her forehead which if it bruises will look awfully suspicious. She was pretty chipper for the rest of the evening so I guess there's no lasting damage.

I have noticed recently though that she has been learning from her mistakes.

The other day she dropped a footstool on her toes, which she uses to stand on to see up onto the kitchen counters. Ever since then, if she wants it, she will ask me to bring it to her rather than carry it herself. Clever girl!

From all of this you might think my daughter is rather clumsy. Heaven help her, if she's anything like her old man!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

 

Audrey and Allergy

It's been a pretty dull weekend - we hardly left the house except to go swimming and get groceries.

Oh yes, we also started to have a clear out of stuff in our 3rd bedroom, also known as "the dumping ground". We packed 3 plastic binbags with clothes for charity and took them up to the recycling place where there is a bin for Oxfam. We've also got a bag full of stuff we're going to eBay, so I'll keep you posted on that in case you have itchy fingers when it comes to internet auction sites!

The other big news is we relaunched the campaign to see if Audrey can eat dairy products. For latecomers to this blog, Audrey has suffered from allergies to dairy and egg products since birth, mostly breaking out in hives and eczema when she has them. I'm not going to direct you to previous blogs simply because I'm too lazy to go find them, but I'm sure a simple search up in the box above for "allergy" or "allergies" will provide you with some background.

Anyway, we had some limited success a month or so back, but because Audrey got ill (with colds and suspected Chickenpox!) we stopped so as not to aggravate the problem. Now she's in fine form we decided to give her whole milk three times a day this weekend and somewhat by chance than design she's eaten a lot of forbidden fruit as well, including macaroni cheese and some poached egg.

I'm happy to report that so far none of this has caused her any trouble. We've intermittently asked her if her tummy hurts because this has previously been a symptom of the allergies and she's replied in the negative, so it's all seemingly going well.

It's worth keeping check on her for a few days, as the eczema can flare up 24-48 hours later, but we've been encouraged by this weekend. She only had a tiny bit of egg so jury is still out on that - I'll have to make some meringues again, or try her on a full plate of scrambled egg (which she loves) to be sure the egg allergy is gone.

However, the milk/dairy allergy seems to be a thing of the past which is fabulous news because it means we can start eating the same meals together as a family. It was such a joy to have us all sitting around the table enjoying macaroni cheese last night.

Anyway, I need to sign off now - time for my workout...did I mention I now weigh 154lbs (11 stone!).

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