Monday, December 31, 2007

A Scotch New Year

For the first time in my life I'm spending New Year's Eve in Scotland (with my girlfriend and her family). The Scotch always claim that New Year is much better there than anywhere else in the world so I'm looking forward to seeing if I agree with them or not. I have a vague feeling that I won't and that New Year is crap wherever in the world you are.

But I do have a cider-box (like a wine-box, but with cider) so the evening can surely not be that bad :-)

Main differences I can discern so far from an English New Year:

1. It's colder.
2. TV is differently rubbish here. The main highlight appears to be a comedy show called Still Game which is the Scotch equivalent of Last of the Summer Wine. It features a lot of people dressed as old men, wearing ridiculous wigs and speaking in absurd accents.
3. It's quarter past seven and I'm sober.
4. They don't call it "Midnight". They call it "The Bells". Like out of Quasimodo.
5. They also do some weirdo stuff with coal. Apparently.

But that's all before the event. I shall go into it open-minded and try and enjoy myself. Or at least I will once I get the cider open :-)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Who to blame...

This was my favourite headline from the Christmas period. It was in The Times.

So it's David Tennant that should shoulder the blame for Gordon's lust for power. Can't wait to see the episode!

Friday, December 28, 2007

This one must have slipped under the news raider

I took this photo today. It contains something that is VERY, VERY wrong and I don't understand why there hasn't been Maddy levels of outrage in the British media about it.

It's not that these are an impending sign of alien invasion.

Regular crisp fans will have spotted straight away that the price has gone up a whopping 50%! Everyone who's anyone knows that Space Raiders cost 10p. Not 15p, 10p. You can buy ten packets for a pound if you want because they are only 10p. And they are also very nice. Space raiders are 10p because they've always been 10p and always will be 10p. They are the crisp that is immune from inflation.

Now I'm reasonably sure that you don't get as many crisps in a packet as you used to (which is how they probably got down to less than 100 calories per pack) but that's not the point. Price is the thing and 10p is the price.

I showed my immense displeasure in the shop by buying the two packets I was going to buy anyway but without smiling. That'll show 'em.

15p? Splitters.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Chekhov's Fuzz

Last night I watched Hot Fuzz for the second time and found it to be a film that really rewards a repeat viewing. It's almost a textbook demonstration of the Chekhov's gun principle (named after the playwright, not the guy out of Star Trek - that's Chekhov's phaser) which makes it really satisfying the second time around.

The principle basically says that you shouldn't introduce anything into a story that won't serve a purpose. For example, don't put a loaded gun on a stage unless it's going to be fired in the next act.

Hot Fuzz does this brilliantly - pretty much every single thing that happens in the first two thirds of the film has some element that foreshadows something in the final (violent!) act. For example, Danny's drunken trick with the ketchup and fork in a pub is later used to save another character's life; Danny's questions to Nick about whether he's done all the stupid things that cops do in films are all things that Nick will do later on; the sea mine (almost the classic example!); and many, many more examples.

Now I know that many (maybe even all?) films do this to some extent but I'm not sure I've seen it to the same level. And it manages to stay funny throughout.

If you don't believe me, go and watch it. And then watch it again.

And then watch Shaun of the Dead again because it's even funnier.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

What happened to me in the Kiddies Dept of The Other M&S in York centre

I finished my Christmas shopping today. In M&S I found a shop assistant with a sense of humour. I was buying some clothes that were clearly aimed at small children - the size of them should have made this clear but if this had left some doubt the labels would have cleared it up. They indicated that both items were for children under four years old. Since I am 31 years old and six foot two there could have been no doubt that these items were not for me.

I went to pay for them and the shopping lady took me through the chip and pin motions. She then made as if to give me a bag for them. I said that I was fine for a bag - and I was fine since I'd done a lot of shopping already and had acquired several bags in addition to the rucksack I'd brought with me. I didn't need to add to the world's woes by putting an extra plastic bag in it.

And this is where the lady was funny, so pay attention.

She asked me (because I'd said I didn't need a bag) if I was going to put the items on now. Clearly I wasn't planning to do this as I am old and tall as I mentioned earlier. I can hence deduce that she was making a joke. She was pretending that me, a large man, was going to wear some children's clothing in the cold December cold. Funny! She didn't smile like you'd expect her to though. I wouldn't expect full on laughing (like I do when I make a joke), but a little smile to show she meant the remark in jest would have been all I needed. There was no smile.

I replied back, "yeah, I'm going to wear them now". Because there is no higher humour than sarcasm. And she still didn't really smile. I liked her since she was so deadpan.

Then I bent to put the items in my bag, left the clothes shop and went on my merry (because it's Christmas and everything is merry at Christmas) way.

Later it occurred to me that because she was behind a counter and I was in front of the counter, she might just have assumed I had a small child with me who was not tall enough to be seen over the counter. Therefore when she asked if I wanted to put the clothes on, she meant onto a small child now not onto me now. She would then have been puzzled by my sarcasm and the way I put the items into a bag rather than onto a child.

But if that had been her intended meaning then she could have offered to remove the tags for me. And she didn't.

So I am left a little confused. One of the following things happened.

1. I found a funny, deadpan shop assistant
2. I found a well-meaning but confused and ultimately wrong shop assistant
3. I completely misheard a shop assistant who asked me if I'd like to look at their range of futons.

I'm going to stick with the first option because it reinforces how nice everyone is at Christmas.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Late(ish) Night Pizza

I seem to have just about survived the Christmas party period and am now more than ready for two weeks off work. It's been quite hectic/alcoholic and I couldn't actually face staying out past about half seven last night.

Instead, I came home and cooked myself a pizza. K had got me some prawns out and defrosted and she'd intended for me to make them noodly. I, however, had a different plan and I wanted them on pizza. Unfortunately I didn't have baking powder like the recipe said I should have. I went out to the local shop but it was shut. Darn. So I made the thing anyway and it was absolutely fine (which proves that Delia Smith knows absolutely nothing).

I also didn't bother with any cheese.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Food

At work we've been having a thing where everyone in the team brings in a Christmas item of food and then we eat it. No repetitions allowed.

My turn was on Monday and I went for Cheese and Port:

Cheese and Port

Other than that we've had
1. A yule roll
2. Mince pies
3. Christmas Cake
4. (can't remember)
5. (can't remember)
6. Stollen Cake
7. Cheese and Port
8. Game Pie and Chutney
9. Mithais and toblerone

I reckon I win

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

We're All Going To Die

Like most right-minded individuals I'd quite like Malcolm Middleton's new single, We're All Going To Die to be Christmas number one this year. It's a jolly little number and just right for those post-turkey moments.

I bought it off iTunes this morning and quite enjoyed the receipt I got later:

"We're All Going To Die"
"Report a Problem"

Like people might think that everyone going to die could be a problem (If I haven't laboured the point enough...).

Anyway, buy the single.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I'm not in Harrogate, despite what Channel 4 say

I'm watching a programme on Channel 4 about a group of people from Harrogate and its environs who become Muslims for three weeks. One of them is a Glamour model from York who lives just down the road from me. In one shot of her house you could actually see my place in the background. This is fine by me and it certainly makes the programme more interesting.

The bad thing is that it implied that we live not in York but in Harrogate (or at least "just on the other side of town"). Darned television. I thought they had all been forced to stop lying since the Queen/Blue Peter episodes. I blame Richard Bacon.

So just for the record, I live in York. Not Harrogate.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Wrong, Wrong, Wrong.

Well, all I can say is that today's X-Factor decision is a travesty. I am actually shocked again at the idiocy of the British people. A f**king disgrace. Angry, I am. Cider, I'm drinking.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Temp Time Off

I can't begin to say how brilliant Super Mario Galaxy is. I'm playing it, not writing here. Bye!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Curry News

We went to the new (as in I've not been there even though it's been open for ages) York curry house, Ackbars, for tea last night. It's a bit of a chain, but it does have a fairly good rep. It was quite busy for a Tuesday night but I blame that on Christmas.

The food was very nice. I had a Lamb and Ginger Balti, and K had a Lamb and Spinach Balti. Both were tasty and I actually finished mine off which is rare for me with a curry. Personally I put this down to a lack of prior fizzy lager rather than anything inherent in the food. The Naans are those super-large ones that hang from a hook, but unlike a certain other York place, they don't drip with grease.

However, I do slightly regret not going to the Akash because they'd probably have given us a calendar.

Relatedly the now legendary annual Christmas black-tie curry at the Ujala is now in my diary (and may enter other people's once an email gets sent out). Hopefully I'll get a calendar when we go there.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Kitchen Light Trauma

Bloody kitchen lights. I've spent £11 on them in the last week and I still have two spotlights that need replacing. Grrrr.

A tip to anyone looking to buy a kitchen: just put normal bulbs in. Don't bother with under-cupboard lighting, above-cupboard lighting or inside-cupboard lighting. Just a single 100W (low energy equivalent obviously) in the centre of the room will do you fine.

Trust me on this. Your wallet will thank me.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Metroid Prime Completion (1 of 3).

I'm quite happy this evening as I finally finished a Metroid Prime game - #3: Corruption on the Wii. I never finished 1 or 2 (and I had two attempts at the first one) as I would always get stuck on some well hard baddy near the end. This time, I've had barely any problems at all. This could be because:

a) I am older, better and more experienced
b) The Wii controls make things easier
c) It's an easier game.

I'm going to go with a).

I'm really tempted to go and have a final stab now at the first two...

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Plug Identification

The area about the television has about ten things that potentially need plugging in on a regular basis and a few things that need plugging in from time to time. Unfortunately I only have eight plug holes there and so there is an amount of plug swapping that is unavoidable.

Tonight I was trying to free up a couple of them to plug some Christmas lights into. So to make it easier, I spent some useful time doing something I should have done years ago: I've stuck little labels on all the plugs to say what exactly it is that they connect to.

It's going to make my future life so much easier! Although thinking about it, it would be much easier to just cancel Christmas and avoid the lights altogether...

Friday, December 07, 2007

Bishop Wrapping

This was the wrongest thing I found in York today:

I'm tempted to take along something that's a really hard to wrap shape. Maybe a football. Or Madge.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Too Many Dinners...

Second Christmas dinner of the year tonight. After this Four more work ones to go, plus one at home with me and K and one at my parents on Christmas day. Plus possibly the annual Christmas curry at some point...

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Stuck in Starbucks

We had a small team meeting in Starbucks this morning. Why do all their sizes of coffee sound like they mean "large"? We were there for about three hours so inevitably I needed to visit the Gentlemens' facilities.

There is only a single cubicle in there, and no urinals so I had little choice over which one to use. The mistake I made was deciding to lock the door. When I tried to unlock it, I failed. I turned and turned and turned the lock in both directions but it had no effect.

This was annoying because not only was I locked in a toilet, but I hadn't brought my phone with me. I was unable to phone for help but more importantly unable to update my Facebook status to say I was locked in a toilet.

Luckily it wasn't long before someone else entered the toilet and I was able to tell them that I was stuck. He went to get help from the staff and a few minutes later a bloke turned up and managed to get the door open.

And hence I am now able to be at home writing this rather than being lonely in a dark toilet.

The moral of this story is: Hold it in until you get back to work.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Three Signs of Xmas

The three ways in which I can tell Christmas has arrived:

1. First Christmas dinner was last night at York Racecourse. The food was alright, not great but edible. No major interesting stories to relate from it, at least not ones that I remember. I have two more Christmas dinners this week. By Friday I will be ready to drop.

2. The Killers have their Christmas single out, Don't Shoot Me Santa. I've heard it a couple of times now and whilst it is quite fun, I don't think it stands up next to last year's Great Big Sled. But I'll give it time and it's certainly going to make a fine ringtone for the next month.

3. We bought a Christmas tree today. Only a little one, it's about three feet tall, but it's the first time there'll have been one in the flat. It needs decorating and also moving out of the bathroom where it's living for the time being.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Me New Favourite Urinal

Here's a picture of my new favourite urinal. It's a bit dark, but it's not like I had time to set up a tripod.

Gargoyle Urinal

It looks like it should be in a church toilet, but it's not - it's in one of York's newest bars, Pivo.