Friday, December 29, 2006

One of the Problems...

...of being a Doctor Who fan - aside from the nerdy obsession, the introversion, the lack of social skills and desire for 12" remote controlled Daleks (although these are obviously issues) - is that one can find it almost impossible to spell the word "doctor" without capitalising the D to make it a proper noun.

I've done it three times today already.

I really have to think about spelling it right these days.

Sick and Tired... (3)

Oh for heavens' sake... I have another ear infection now.

Barely a week after the last one cleared up, the same ear has now developed another one. It's not the same one, though - how could it be? I like variety after all.

Last one was a middle ear infection. This one is an outer ear infection.

On the bright side, however, I have at least been put on a different type of antibiotics. Normally its Amoxicillin or Erythromycin, but just for a change I'm now on Flucloxacillin. So I suppose you could argue I have at least succeeded in my aim of having different drugs for a change.

Blimey, if I see in 2007 without illness it'll be a bloody miracle I tell you.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Point of No Return

I think it says something about the increasing Gayness and Nerdiness of Rob (were that really conceivable) that my by far and away favourite present this Christmas stands 12" high and is black, covered in bumps and battery controlled.

This comment is not in any way undermined by the fact is also screeches "Exterminate!" and a variety of other sound effects on command.

In my heart I shall forever be eight years old.

The only difference being that if I was really was eight years old I'd be waiting twenty-two years for merchandise like this.

Of course my sixty-four year old aunt felt compelled to play with it the minute it was unpacked as well. Bless her.

Hope you had a good one people! Welcome to the other side!

Friday, December 22, 2006

A whole plateful of Ow!

You'd have thought that someone would have told the spammers by now wouldn't you?

At least point out to them that assurances like "your dick will yell" are not necessarily good advertisements for any product, not least something medicinal.

But then I suppose that it's by far preferable to the even more terrifying claims that seem to be even more predominant in my junk mail folder these days.

Frankly the idea that my "dicks will be exploded" is a far too painful one to contemplate.

Hogfather

Surprisingly - given my propensity for various classics of UK cult TV - I really don't get on with science fiction or fantasy literature at all.

Most of the time it's that I find myself bored of the prose within seconds since for some reason SF and fantasy writers tend to fall into one of two traps. Either they seem to feel that they can construct the most terrifyingly soulless and bland prose ever seen because the ideas alone will grab you or alternatively they'll write in the most convoluted and impenetrable way possible, leaving you wading through swamps of verbiage that bogs you down completely (Mr Tolkien I'm looking at you).

Neither of these approaches appeals much to me I must say. I'd much prefer a happy medium.

But there's also the fact that if you put something containing an elf, a goblin or a sorcerer in front of me I almost instantly lose the will to live.

So in some ways it's surprising that I actually like Terry Pratchett's stuff.

It's an up and down relationship admittedly. I find him somewhat variable to be fair and his early stuff I don't much care for at all, but even when he's not on form he usually has much to say about the human condition, psychology and the nature of belief. And at his best he manages to combine that kind of thought-provoking content with outright belly-laughs so that his books are more often than not a pleasure to read.

Hogfather, it's got to be said, is not one of my favourites, but even so I looked forward to Sky One's adaptation of it with some anticipation.

Overall, I've got to say it did seem a bit slow. The first episode took ages to get going, with the director spending far too much time dwelling on the scenery (presumably making sure the budget got shown on screen), and far too much that was frankly irrelevant to the overall story remained. There is, after all, a point in adaptations where you can't be too slavish to the original material.

It was also glaringly obvious that it under-ran the four hours allocated even with adverts since episode one had a huge "next time on Hogfather" stuck on the end. And then episode two started with a similarly lengthy reprise followed by an opening that was almost a duplicate of the first and made me wonder if they'd got the wrong tape by mistake.

So yes, I think all told it would have been better served by being a fair bit shorter.

But beyond that it was rather lovely. Everything looked the part. Death was impressively realised - Ian Richardson's plummy tones were just perfect for it - and Michelle Dockery inhabited the role of Susan perfectly. Admittedly David Jason was so far off my image of Albert it almost hurt, but he was enjoyable in the role anyway. Mr Teatime was a slightly jarring portrayal but I can't help but feel that was part of the point anyway.

And to be honest you've got to love a production which features an "Oh God" of Hangovers.

I think the thing that sums up what I love about Pratchett though is the final admittance by Death of why he quite likes humans (you can add your own capitals if you want):

"Did you know that in a world so full of wonders, they have actually invented boredom?
Quite astonishing."

Somehow you can't really fault that kind of thinking can you?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Spirit of Hogswatch

Finally, with the inconvenience of Christmas cards and present-buying behind me, I am starting to feel moderately Christmassy.

It helps, I think, that the weather has finally decided to become moderately seasonal. Admittedly even in the wilds of Highgate we're not battling our way through snowdrifts or building snowmen with carroty noses, coals for eyes and gourds for genitalia, but a certain holiday-esque kind of weather has crept up unannounced.

Every morning I throw open my curtains to find the world outside looking almost sugar-coated with a sprinkling of frost, tendrils of fog tentatively curling round trees and lamp-posts, and that special kind of biting chill that you can only associate with the bleak midwinter.

As someone with a decidedly melancholic temperament it does my heart the world of good, I can tell you.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Christmas Shopping

Once again I have managed to spare myself the pain of most of the Christmas shopping by doing it online and having it all delivered. This can only be A Good Thing(TM).

But yesterday I went out and hit Camden in a vain attempt to find a little something for a friend of mine - a trip which ultimately had to be abandoned as a bad job.

I did however, buy something for me. A huge nicely bound copy of all the Strand Magazine illustrated Sherlock Holmes stories for £20.

Nice one. I go out for other people's presents, and instead I find my own.

My self obsession's still ticking over nicely then.

Sick and Tired... (2)

Yay! Turns out I've not just been malingering. I was officially ill.

I finally got fed up and went to the Quack's on Friday and came away with the full and certain knowledge that I have actually had an ENT infection for weeks now.

Inevitably the prescription was for Amoxycillin. I invariably get prescribed either that or Erythromycin when I go to the doctors so I wasn't entirely surprised.

It's working like a charm already I must say.

I can only assume I have a natural affinity for it due to the "mox" in the name.

A Night at the Trash Palace

So, last Tuesday after the quiz at Wyvils, Other Rob caught me on the hop slightly by asking if I fancied DJing at his club night at Trash Palace.

I must have been thrown because I agreed. There then followed a couple of days of "oh, why did I agree to that, there'll be people there!" and so on. Normally my past form at Windypops! has been to basically just play indulgent tat to a group of friends and acquaintances. Doing Hello Hooray! at Trash Palace however actually ran the risk of people being there I didn't know and - to be brutally frank - it is a fairly "alternative" venue (to the point that its punters can be a bit up themselves).

Thankfully it all turned out to be awesomely good fun and I had what I believe is known as "a total blast". The prospect of real people meant I inevitably upped the game a little bit and tried my hardest to make a chunkier set than normal whilst still not compromising my belief that pop is king.

I opened with my favourite track of the moment, The Dragonette's "I Get Around" before blundering into ABBA's "So Long" which amusingly someone from Sweden didn't believe was ABBA (to be fair it's a much rockier number than people expect).

At this point my only planned aspects of the set were done and so it all became a bit of a blur. I know that I went with Matinee Club's "Tokyo Girls" next and then had a panic because someone - much to my surprise - asked for the Spice Girls. Getting from a solid electro stomper to a cheesy pop song without throwing everyone was an interesting task, but thankfully I had "Pull Shapes" by the Pipettes to hand which bridged the transition to "Spice Up Your Life" rather well.

Then I know we had the 'Frapp's "Ride a White Horse" and I remember ending my main stint on Girls Aloud's "I Think We're Alone Now" (the far superior single version naturally, not the awful album one). Later on we all took turns to do a couple of tracks and I was gleefully happy to see how well BWO's Sixteen Tonnes of Hardware went down with the crowd. I then too the opportunity to put The Holy Trinity's "Tell Me When" on before I fled to the dancefloor to actually dance to it.

Scared as I was to start with, though, It was a good experience. It was odd to have people I'd never met come up to chat about tracks. One girl for example came and had a chat about the Pipettes because she knows their lead songwriter or something like that.

Small world, sometimes, it really is.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Asia De Cuba

Well, a few of us went out last night for a fairly wallet-busting meal at a resturant called Asia De Cuba in St. Martin's Lane.

I thought I'd mention it since I can heartily recommend a visit some time. Especially if you can expense it.

The downside? They do two sittings (6 - 8:30 and 8:30 to 11) and they're not afraid to throw you out once you've overstayed your welcome - although they are very courteous about it.

The upsides? The food is absolutely amazing.

They do little bento boxes, but the real fun is in getting their appetisers and main courses since each dish is designed for sharing in a group. Between a sizeable group we had a few of each and managed to gorge ourselves splendidly, trying allsorts of interesting dishes in the process. The Asian Pesto Grilled Prawns were particualrly good, as were the Honey-Rum Glazed Pot Roast of Pork, and the Chocolate Cheesecake (with Mojito Sorbet no less).

So anyway, if you can swallow any qualms you might have about running up a chunky bill then I'd advise a visit.

It's a great venue as well, very stylish.

Monday, December 11, 2006

BWO : Chariots of Fire

Ladies and Jellyspoons... the new single from Bodies Without Organs, "Chariots of Fire":



Martin in just his pants. Martin with a riding crop. Marina just being fabulous.

It is, to be fair, less disturbing than some of their other videos.

The vampirism of "Sunshine in the Rain":



and the really odd "Conquering America" (so much blood!):

It's not just me is it?

But that new M&S advert for Christmas is a bit worrying isn't it?

There's just something fundamentally wrong about hearing Shirley Bassey telling us how she "can go for miles, if you know what I mean" isn't there?

Shudder.

Torchwood : Random Shoes

I haven't written at length on CSI:Cardiff recently largely because I got bored of doing one a week, but I have to say the last three episodes have, for me, shown genuine signs of promise.

As has been noted by very many commentators, the first few episodes were - whilst superficially enjoyable - all like episodes of six different series. The smaller more personal episodes like "Ghost Machine" and "Small Worlds" felt more mature than the others since they relied less on blood and gore and swearing, but they were lost in the middle of a series that felt it was all over the bloody shop.

But "Greeks Bearing Gifts" (despite me sitting there thinking "Buffy!"), "They Keep Killing Suzie" and now "Random Shoes" have actually managed to seem more settled. The characters have finally become a bit more likable despite their flaws and so on.

"Random Shoes" in particular I felt was just lovely. In a sort of heart-wrenching way, admittedly. As a nerd and loser-type myself I felt very sorry for Eugene, and the effect his death had on his mum was gutting to watch.

The only real problem I had was the use of "Danny Boy" at the funeral. It's a song I loathe anyway, to be honest, but here it was a bit of a heavy-handed attempt to make a scene sad - something which it really didn't need since it was already.

Frankly that was a great a steaming turd in an otherwise rather lovely, personal story.

I still have my reservations about the show, mind. Even with what I feel is a large improvement I still feel that the series is just "okay to moderately fair". Episodes like the last three should be the baseline the series doesn't stoop below, really, not the highpoints. But hey.

But given how many hours of telly BBC Three are getting out of it, I suspect there'll be a second series.

Sick and Tired...

...pretty much describes my general physical state these days. I can't remember ,many days in the last six weeks when I haven't had a sniffle, or a sore throat, or a blocked nose, or felt in some way far from in peak physical condition (not that I think I actually have one).

And I'm so tired. I've been generally fatigued for months now, the job finally grinding me down to the point I was really only capable of getting home and slumping on the sofa at the end of a day. The realisation of this, of course, then lead me to a sudden and bloody-minded decision to go out lots, burning the candle at both ends somewhat.

This has lead of course to me being more tired, and presumably is where the spate of general background illnesses started, but I suppose a richer social life is a good thing.

So all things considered I haven't really stopped for a few weeks and have been feeling increasingly blurred round the edges. No more so than on Saturday night when I went to two parties in separate parts of London, the latter of which ended up with me snogging four guys despite being - somewhat miraculously - stone cold sober by that point.

And the next two weeks show no sign of letting up. Pretty much every night has something on - except today because I'm off work being (you guessed it) violently sick which started with stomach cramps in the early hours of the morning.

I think either my mind or my body are trying to tell me something. I think it's "Stop!"

What I stop however is the big question.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Wyvils Pub Quiz

So this weekend - as well as catching up on all the admin and a spot of Christmas shopping - I have been working on another Qwiz for Halfway (I like to have one in hand so I can just step into the breach if needed) and also my questions for the inaugural Wyvils pub quiz which is happening on Tuesday.

Basically Other Rob has become Assistant Bar Manager at Wyvils and asked me to lend a hand devising the format and then asked if I could co-write and co-host it to help get it off the ground. I agreed and once we'd come up with the format I've spent some time pulling together the questions for the two rounds I'm writing.

Its proven to be an easier one to write I must say. For Halfway you have to come up with 50 questions total all of which are a mixed bag and the standard format demands a certain number of double questions, music questions, picture questions and so on. Balancing all those requirements is a pain in the bum, but since that is the (usual) format that's what I do.

For Wyvils though we're only doing four rounds with bonus prizes for each that anyone can win - not necessarily the team that did best - and each round is on a specific (yet not too specific) subject so I managed to get most of it got written in a couple of hours yesterday morning. I've done some polishing and replacing since then so I think it's almost there. I just need Rob's questions now.

Hardest was trying not to have any "gay" questions in there. The bar was gay before it got run down into the ground but Rob and John have decided on a "no attitude" entry policy instead. This means I could have people there who wouldn't necessarily know what Elton John's message to the Australian Prime Minister was this week. (That was one that got ditched pretty quick let me tell you.)

Anyway... hopefully I've pitched it about right.

It's on at 7:30 on Tuesday at Wyvils in Vauxhall which is rather a nice venue in itself. Do come along one and all. The map is here.

Shock of the Week

I enjoyed Robin Hood last night.

Yeah, I know. I was a bit stunned. I think part of this was because it further developed a couple of the most interesting parts of the series (aside from the gorgeousness that is Harry Lloyd's Will Scarlett): the uncomfortable relationship between Guy and Marian, and the similar strain between Guy and the Sheriff.

Much was also finally given something to do other than complaining and being the "comic" relief. Indeed he showed depth, compassion, intelligence and even brought out the good in someone in a way which struck me as very much something the Doctor would do.

With that in mind I should have guessed one of the Who writers Paul Cornell had written this one. He also wrote one of my favourite Who episodes: Father's Day - one I still can't watch in company because even after several viewings it gets me close to tears every time (as per my post here).

All told the series does seem to be developing some teeth which I felt it was sorely lacking to start with. It's been a slow process, but I think they might have cracked it.

That said, Nottingham Castle is astoundingly badly defended isn't it? Not a week goes by without the Outlaws getting in there and out again relatively unscathed. You'd have thought the Sheriff'd train up the guards a bit wouldn't you?

It was also rather better directed too. I commented on this to the flatmate who agreed wholeheartedly, and then we realised it was directed by Graeme Harper who has so far been responsible for a couple of "classic" Doctor Whos, and the block which yielded Rise of the Cybermen / The Age of Steel and Army of Ghosts / Doomsday for the last series.

I'm increasingly of the opinion he's one of the best directors in TV today. I'm surprised he isn't parachuted into more series to give them a bit of spit and polish, frankly.