Monday, March 31, 2008

Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now

But Misérables apparently doesn't mean Miserable so this blog title loses all integrity after even the most cursory inspection. I'll let you know whenI start to care.

So Hannah came to visit on Friday for the weekend, something I'd been looking forward too with entirely too much enthusiasm and excitement, but then I am essentially a child so, again with the caring and letting you know.

I'd made a big fat beef stew in the slow cooker which came out nicely so we were able to collapse in our seats and watch some Invader Zim before going to bed. The reason for the visit was due to a delayed Christmas present, rather than an actual thing I'd got tickets to go and see Les Misérables at the Queen's Theatre on Shaftsbury avenue. It's a long and boring story but basically, it was Hannah's present so I wanted to make it her choice (not least because I have no idea when it comes to what is good and what is not in Theatreland!). Turns out Les Mis was her favourite musical, so there you have it.

I was fairly asure I would at least like it, I've been to a couple of operas and enjoyed the experience (except for Francesca da Rimini which is bloody awful) and I'd heard a couple of Les Mis songs in the past and they seemed tolerable.

Anyway, long story short. Go and see it, it is absolutely astonishing. I have nothing bad to say about it and I have no piss to take from it - this is a ridiculous rarity - normally I can find something to have a joke about even about things that i love. I enjoyed it so much I actually felt guilty about getting her a ticket for the show as a Christmas present, as I got at least as much enjoyment out of it as she did!

I can't stress enough how much you should go and see this show, if only for the amazing spinny, rotating, super transformer, Mechano-esque set!

Best weekend I've had since moving, bar none.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Apprentice

And so another battery of 'Reality' tv begins. I watched some of this show a few years ago, and as is always the case with things like this, if I carried on watching I would get an embolysm. Unfortunately people start discussing it at work - who is best, what they did wrong, who should be voted off blahblahblah.

The premise for this show is what I find most funny. As with all shows of this type, the country is trawled and the most loathsome pieces of filth are dredged up and paraded in front of the TV. The difference between this show and other shows is that these ones wear suits.

Now, everyone on any reality show has a massively inflated ego that vastly dwarfs their actual talent, but this one is truly amazing because they are competing for a job that pays a huge some of money (it was 100k per annum when I saw it 3 or 4 years ago). They go about this with a lot of gusto, incompetence and hot air (hey! maybe I should apply?!). My favourite parts are when the say 'I am the best in the world at X!' or 'No one can possibly compete with me in business because I have the sharpest mind in the world!'.

OK, so that leaves one question then doesn't it? How is it you need to go on a show in order to win a competition rather than go out and actually get a job on your own merit, make your fortunes that way? I think you'll find its because there are people out there infinitely better than you, in more ways than one.

I think you could probably condense all reality shows into one big 'Last Man Standing' cage match. It would be cheap, entertaining and would have the added bonus of removing these people from the gene pool.

This is what I'm like when I hear these shows being discussed, so you can see that by not watching them I am probably providing a great deal of public safety.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


I had a massive post here about the lazy way in which we Brits use the 'Americans have no sense of Irony' or 'they don't understand sarcasm properly' kind of comments in order to give ourselves a fuzzy sense of intellectual superiority. It was thoughtful and I thought quite good, basically blaming the media that comes out of America and the examples that we are presented with through popular culture that reinforce that inaccurate setereotype - for example :

However, as I was writing I was listening to Stephen Fry's podgrammes number 2 and he opened with pretty much the same comment and attacked the sentiment with far more vitriol and eloquence than I could possibly muster and also I do enough plagiarism on the podcast without it spilling over into this blog. Just bear in mind that I am a hypocrite and will no doubt be guilty of rash generalisations to this effect again at some point in the near future. Just be assured that when I use the term 'Americans' I am aiming at a particular subset of the 300+ million of them and have bee too lazy to make that difference clear. Just like when I talk of 'America' I am usually discussing the government.

Anyway, just to prove that this entire statement is a complete nonsense:


Album Review? Well, why the hell not!

OK, so as you all know one of my favourite new gadgets over recent months has been my DAB radio, especially thanks to 6 Music. With the exception of the venal, vapid, banal gobshite that is George Lamb it's like listening to and independent record store. You know the kind, you walk in and the guy behind the counter knows absolutely everything there is to know about every album. Also the music is totally random, sometimes like listening to someone's personal playlist. You could be listening to the latest track by Arcade Fore one minute followed by an obscure track by the Dresden Dolls the next. As I say, George Lamb seems to be someone they wanted on Radio 1 but didn't have any room so put him on this otherwise great station. I don't normally care about DJs but I object to someone interviewing top class bands and evidently having no idea who they are because he isn't aware of anything outside the top 10.

Anyway, I digress. George Lamb has flaws too numerous to go into here.

TThe point is that I have cancelled my cable TV because I only watch it because it happens to be there and much prefer sitting around reading with the radio on in the background. About a month ago I heard a song come on called Grounds for Divorce by Elbow, and amazing track that I loved. Luckily for me, 6 Music also started playing album tracks from the upcoming album including The Bones of You and The Fix.

I actually found myself getting frustrated after finding out that the album wasn't due to be released until last week, which is not like me - I generally just add to my music collection almost on a whim. It finally arrived yesterday and I have to say that it is a brilliant piece of work. I am about to wax a bit lyrical here so apologies in advance! I've never heard such a melancholic sound that brings no hint of melancholy with it. The album is at once poetic, witty and (from a layman's viewpoint) musically astounding. I can't telly how much I love this album, it's not often music 'speaks to you' but this album does it. I'm not entirely sure what it's saying but I don't really care, it's an absolute joy to listen to and you should go buy it right away. It's called The Seldom Seen Kid. Go, now! I feel a complete idiot for barely having heard of this band before, but then I've never been accused of having my finger on the pulse!

Incidentally, Guy Garvey the lead singer also has a 6 Music Show at 10pm on Sunday's as well as having his fingers in lots of musical pies as a producer and writer.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Shameless plug

We've uploaded another podcasty thingy and we should be on iTunes tomorrow provided we haven't said anything too libelous.

[Edit]Episode 3 is now up too, this one almost sounds competent[/Edit]

Promise to stop plugging our egotrip now!

....and some more about food...

I started writing a response to 'Livs comment on the Thai food post but it was getting a bit lengthy so writing another rambling post instead!

Firstly 'Liv contends that Asian food is surpassing Indian as Britain's favourite. This doesn't surprise me at all, the British are all too fickle and in the modern age fail to show loyalty to one foodstuff or another. I am a true Brit and like traditional, home cooked, traditional, honest, traditional Indian food like our ancestors used to make.

So I went to the Thai place last night and it was very yummy, as expected. The room had that traditional seating with the cushions on the floor and the low tables. This was very cool but I suspect is there purely for the entertainment of the staff as they watch us all squirm about trying to work out exactly how to sit for any prolonged period without the need of the services of a chiropractor.

I had a pork won ton style affair for a starter and a spicy duck stirfry with egg fried rice for the main dish. I'm afraid I wasn't very adventurous this time around, I am usually quite cagey when I haven't been somewhere before unless I know with reasonable certainty that they use good ingredients and cook well.

Anyway, it was all great. As I say, we were in this special room with the low tables and cushions so we were obliged to take our shoes off and they were put away in a concealed cupboard. Ig you wanted the toilet, or go outside for a cigarette? It's OK, they supplied slippers for you to wear when you leave the room!

The only really disappointing thing wasn't, I suspect, really the restaurant's fault but more the fault of the area they have chosen to set up shop. There were no chopsticks at the tables, the default being spoon and fork. Now I prefer chopsticks with this kind of Asian food, I am crap with them but I do prefer them. I actually found it weird eating with fork and spoon, but to ask for chopsticks seemed a little pretentious to me so I didn't ask. Don't get me wrong, lots of people hate trying to use chopsticks and in places I have been before then they ask for cutlery and they are given cutlery. This is fine, I just think its a little sad that the propensity for this is so common that this place has chosen to go for cutlery by default. Or maybe I am just upset because I am crap with chopsticks so its almost like having a puzzle game whilst I eat.

All in all, if you're in Guildford go to Rumwong because it is yummy!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Again with the food....

I am off out tonight to a Thai restaurant in Guildford for a friend's birthday celebration. The place looks awesome and the people who's birthday celebrations these are rate it it very highly in terms of the food.

I've taken a look at the menu and it all looks yummy, if a little limited in the choice. I am slightly disappointed because there don't seem to be many duck dishes - something I often go for when in a particularly good Thai Restaurant. It's all good though, I love thai food and really want to learn to cook it from scratch without pastes etc, the same way I do with Indian food right now (I know its not 'authentic' but its as close as I will get!).

What sets this apart from other nights out is that I am not drinking as I am driving the shiny new(ish) Matt Mobile! So far I've not missed drinking when out and about when driving, though this is the first proper night where I am driving. I'm not sure if there are shenanigans after the meal, if there are I may cave in and steal soem floor space this evening!

Anyway, I'll let you know about the food, cos I can tell you are all giddy with anticipation.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I pledge allegiance.....

Are you fucking insane?!. Seriously, a pledge of allegiance? Can you think of anything more demeaning, patronising or vomit inducing?!

Now according to the Hollywood documentaries I've watched like Kindergarten Cop and Speed, this kind of thing is done in American schools but they don't even do it to a country or an unelected figurehead but to a rag on a pole. I'd be interested to hear how widespread this is though, or even if it is compulsory? Essentially Jo I am asking you as my token American reader!

Seriously though, what a ridiculous idea? I've always found this kind of thing quite insidious and more indicative of a society heading towards authoritarianism, a ruling class so insecure it needs to force the populace into empty gestures of loyalty. The sad thing is that if this kind of thing becomes the norm, which I doubt it will - I have great faith in this country's teenagers ability to subvert anything so 'pure'. But if it does become the norm, what happens to the people who refuse to take this pledge? Will they be ostracised and villified? Will children choosing not to belch empty platitudes be taught that they are somehow less British, less patriotic?

I really don't like this increasing emphasis from politicians on Patriotism and Loyalty. The very idea that you can measure these things by the things you say, whether you support the government 100% in all things. You can no longer protest outside parliament without booking in advance. You are also not allowed to carry literature or banners or protest in favour of any number of organisations the government has labelled terrorist organisations. Now this isn't just people like Al Q'aeda, but a whole raft of people who are simply considered terrorists by governments we happen to like. Like the PKK for instance. The Turkish government has engaged in several acts of ethnic cleansing against the Kurds and has one of the worst human rights records in the world - but they border Iraq so the American government likes them and they award us contracts to build damns that will ultimately wipe out Kurdish settlements, displacing thousands of people so we like them.

Sorry, off the point. Patriotism. I'll leave you with this. What's more patriotic ina democratic society - to question the motives and the actions of the government that has been elected to serve you, or to blindly fall in line and believe that the priviledged few who have been granted such power always have your best interests at heart and to allow them to erode the liberties and freedoms so many people died to protect in the name of 'protecting you'?

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Pulling my finger out

So I've had my own domain name for sometime and done precisely nothing with it. Starting is always a problem with me, I have these great visions of what I want and they become so grandiose that I don't ever end up starting.

So. Instead I am going to use their lame templates for the time being so at least there is somewhere to make my new home, also if you guys prod me regularly to de-lameify the site I might actually be prompted to learn how to do something.

In other news I've uploaded a podcast Nick and I did about 3 months ago, so clicky here to listen on line to cutting edge up to the minute podcasting from December 07 ;) Or if you have a reader thingy put this in : To avoid disappointment though, just don't listen to it!

[Edit] Decided to remove the embedded player, you can go get it from the source you lazy sods! Should be able to download from here if you don't like the other methods though[/Edit]

This isn't our first effort but it will do for now, we will likely do more whether yo like it or not but we'd still like your feedback. I'll probably avoid advertising it here from now on because I don't want this to become a shameless plug for something that is both unoriginal and almost certainly a waste of time. How can you avoid downloading after such a ringing endorsement?!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Oh Mr Toad!

"Come along! Hop up here! We'll go for a jolly ride! The open road! The dusty highway! Come! I'll show you the world! Travel! Scene! Excitement! Ha ha ha!"

Only a complete idiot would forsake the wonders of public transport in order to start driving up this country's God forsaken motorways, seriously someone would have to have had a lobotomy!

Well, I thought I would just set the tone. It would have been funnier if I meant it - give it a few weeks OK? :D

So I picked up my motory car (essentially a bunch of gadgets on wheels) last week and it still remains in one piece! I am very proud.

I got it in Wales back in the garage I used to work in 10 years ago. On the Friday I drove to Leeds and discovered the wonders of cruise control, it was awesome. This thing is so gadgety I haven't even played with all the buttons yet.

OK so the journey to Leeds was mostly good but I completely forgot that lorry drivers in this country don't so much receive training as get sat in front of a 24 hour Mad Max loop and then put in the cab of a 16 wheeler. I think they regard wing mirrors in the same way they do dangly earrings - sure they are very nice but essentially for girls.

There isn't so much a road system in Leeds, it's more like the local council vomited tarmac spaghetti onto the city and plonked a bunch of signs at random intervals. Luckily I found a use for bluetooth and have Tom Tom on my phone and a blue tooth GPS thingy so I arrived at Astrid's place without killing anyone. We had some birthday shenanigans in Leeds then on Sunday I was off to Hull.

Arrived without incident at Emi's place, on Monday we went for a drive around the area and ended up in Market Weighton. Here we had lunch. I say lunch - I ordered a mixed grill and ended up with a farmyard massacre on a plate. It was lovely but suspect they thought I had invited John Prescott to lunch because it was heavier than me! Met up with a bunch of people in the evening, including a couple of people I haven't seen in a good few years more of whom at another time (this is my travel post!)

On the way back to Surrey the next day all was well, decided I didn't need the Sat Nav and promptly ended up trapped in Watford after temporarily mislaying the M25. I've discovered that people don't actually move to Watford, it's just not possible to leave once you are there. Somehow I found a route out of the impenetrable road system and made it back after stopping off for supplies at Mr Sainsbury's shop.

I now have no money until the end of the month. Luckily, the freezer has been defeating me for months because I keep forgetting to defrost things. As a result I now have a bonanza of goodies in there to see me through and I shall eat like a king! Hah! In your face second hand free freezer! Not so clever now are you?!

That's my travelly thing. I won't be doing this everytime I drive, don't worry but it's about as interesting as me describing what I did in each of those locations (saw some great people, had some good times!). Besides, it's my blog so I don't care!

Transportation Anticipation

[b] This was written last Thursday on the 28th Feb, sorry for the delay! (yeah, like you care lol!)[/b]

Ok so I'm writing this post in TextEdit on the train back home, so this will be posted after the event but the long and short of it is that I am hopefully about to pick up my shiny new(ish) Matt Mobile (as it will be named until such a time as Hannah names it properly). Rather helpfully the public transport system has chosen to continue highlight the wisdom of this otherwise ludicrous seeming purchase.

Firstly, luggage. I've brought a messenger bag, a small rucksack and a laptop bag. I needed an extra bag as I am away until next Wednesday and Mr Maccy the laptop because I am on call later. Even these relatively small items can cause quite a lot of trouble on things like busses and trains, but I am a seasoned veteran and have long since worked out the best way of getting your bags to inhale. No matter how good you are though, any luggage larger than an Oyster card holder earns you scowls and frowns from anyone on the Tube. Child murderers are greeted with more friendly glances than anyone daring to carry luggage.

So I leave my house at a little after 9:15am, catch the bus which is about 15 minutes late at 9:45. Pensioners scowling at me, but then this is Surrey - most people scowl at you, it's a county where the equivalent of Friendly is 'Less Unfriendly'. Anyway, got a train to Waterloo - less scowls here, was quite a lot of space on this train and it actually managed to arrive on time which was impressive - public transport making a last ditch effort to retain my custom!

The efforts were in vain thanks to a guy, I don't know his name - let's just call him Vapid Organ Sack or VOS for short. Don't get me wrong, I understand why bluetooth headsets exist - they are good for people with no arms. And that is it. You shouldn't be on the phone when you are driving, no one is that important and if you think you are the get in the line marked 'Future Bio-Fuel'. Anyway, that point is moot because this particular gimp was on a train with one of those unnecessarily big blue-tooth jobbies on his ear. I work in IT, I've seen what a bluetooth aerial looks like and I can assure you nothing that big is required to hold it - the form factor of those things is purely for people who want to look important, nothing more. VOS proved my point. He was sat on the train, holding his phone IN HIS FUCKING HAND whilst having a lengthy and pointless and loud conversation into his bluetooth ear piece. I can't imagine there was anyone on the other end who could stand to talk to him for that long, I suspect he was trying to make friends with the talking clock.


Vauxhall. I got on a tube train here then appeared to get trapped in some kind of time warp because when I arrived there I had a little over an hour to get to London Euston in order to catch my train, as it was I arrived in Euston with a little under 15 minutes to spare. Most bizarre. Know one really knew why because rather cunningly every time we pulled into a station, the driver would speak over the 2 watt speakers on the train to explain the delay but just as you strain to make out what was being said, the station announcer comes on to warn us to be ever on our guard against suspicious behaviour (Daily Mail definition : Anyone with slightly swarthy skin) on her much more impressive speakers.

Got my train at Euston where I was reminded how fantastic this kind of travel CAN be sometimes. The luggage provision on these things isn't great, which is sort of fine for me with my selection of smallish bags so long as the train isn't too full but for suitcase people it can be a complete nightmare. This guy and his girlfriend got on with the biggest suitcase known to man and were looking for somewhere to put it. I didn't appreciate the size of the thing at this point, I wasn't paying huge amount of attention but I did call him over because the rack near me looked like it could accommodate another case. As it was, his case was too big - at least in the current arrangement. Within about a minute the rack was surrounded by owners of the bags currently in the rack playing a luggage based Bedlam Cube style game in order to get all their belongings plus this new comers case into the rack. It was really pleasant to see to be honest. The extra time spent meant the guy didn't disembark in time (turns out he was just dropping his girlfriend off) and is now doomed to a round trip to Chester, but still.

So now I am hoping we arrive on time, my dad picks me up at Chester station to drive back to Wales so I can proceed to get the car. I know me though, something will almost certainly go wrong, I will have forgotten something fundamental so I can't get the car or I will forget to turn the steering wheel or something.

So this is the most efficient journey home public transport has to offer and by the time I get there I will have taken a little over 5 hours - which really isn't that bad at all. By car it's anywhere between 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours (or 9 if you are my dad and don't believe in maps or directions). but there is the luggage thing, the convenience thing and the fact I can just go based on my timetable not someone else's. That and the fact that it took me longer to get from Fetcham to Euston that it will from Euston to Chester.

Maybe now they have lost such a valued customer we will get the radical public transport overhaul we have all craved for!

PS - Don't worry I still won't be saying 'I need a car'. If I needed one, I would have bought one that was necessary, not shiny and buttony!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Still Alive

Just been prodded back into life by Livvy.

Don't worry, your grumpy neighbourhood purveyor of ill informed and barely coherent opinion will be returning this weekend with a Bumper Bonza Bonanza of Blogging. Well....2 posts, one of which I wrote on the train last Thursday.

Also there should be some podcast goodness, one is about 3 and 1/2 months old and we are talking about 'new' technology, so it will be like voices from yesteryear! Just as soon as I can get Nick round the [strike]flat[/strike] studio that is. There should be a new episode too and you can all start wondering about the mystery episode 0. Oh, if you can think of any content you think we should have just email geeksnammo[at]gmail[dot]com. That's our work in progress name for the thing but if you have anything better, email it in - there may even be a prize!.....oooh....might have found something to talk about there......

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