Sunday, 25 January 2009

2009, Week 3

It's been a pretty miserable week, weather wise. Not cold, but all snowy, sleety and, erm, wety. And because of this most of my free time this week was spent watching movies, still getting scared by Dead Space and catching up on series 1 of The Wire. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

Jen's been away in weekend in sunny Birmingham with Becky, which has meant I got the rare opportunity to do what I want all weekend, which is mostly watching movies, playing Dead Space and watching TV. (This of course is meant to be a hilarious wry juxtaposition on the previous paragraph, as I am in no way 'under the thumb', but I didn't know how to make it work and/or funny. If anything it shows how tragically dull my life is. boo).

Most of the weekend was spent round Scott and John's, doing the above. Scott's installed a wood burner in his house, which has led to a fun new game: Will it Burn. The first thing John said when I walked in on Saturday was 'does it smell of cat piss in here?'* which is pretty odd considering they don't have a cat. Maybe they've been burning cats. I think that's taking Will it Burn too far. Let's face it, you're not gonna get much heat out of cat.

I've managed to watch a few films this weekend, three (Eden Lake, Pineapple Express & Death Race) consecutively.

Eden Lake was enjoyable yet predictable. It's basically a run-of-the-mill 'yokels chasing tourists round a forest' type film, but with hoodies instead of yokels. I think the idea of using hoodies is inspired, because it does make the scenario slightly more believable. Most of the kids clearly didn't want to be torturing and killing people, but due to peer pressure and escalation they are forced into it. Unfortunately we managed to write the film's entire plot within the first five minutes, with a selection of endings. The film makers went with what we dubbed 'the comedy/ironic' ending, which was a tad disappointing.

This said, it was a well made film, and managed to drive us up the wall, which i'm pretty sure was intentional. The closing shot was especially effective at leaving the viewer feeling empty and frustrated, ruing over the futileness of it all. I also think it's hilarious that a movie about feral kids and their ignorant piece of shit scum parents was given 5 stars from the Daily Mail.

Pineapple Express didn't improve too much the second time round. I'll admit that It has its moments, but there's long stretches with no real laughs, let alone belly laughs. It does have a great line when Rogan is worried that when his girlfriend goes to college she will "start listening to Godspeed You! Black Emperor and The Shins and become a lesbian". I like The Shins, so maybe I should give Godspeed and Lesbianism a go.

Death Race was far better then expected, violent, stupid and there was plenty of live action stunts. Yet, I can't think of more then a sentence to say about it. Unexpectedly, out of the three movies, I probably enjoyed it the most.

I also watched 'Les Diaboliques', which i'll talk about more in a Blog/Rant I want to try and write this week. Finally, I saw the last half of Rocky 5. I've never seen a Rocky film before but it appears that they are morality tales, where the moral is that the only way of getting respect from your wife, child, coach, fans and enemy is to beat the shite out of said enemy in a parking lot. The priest cheering Rocky on when he was hospitalising some young ruffian was hilarious.

I began playing Continuous Number Plate Spotting (CNPS for short) a few weeks back, and I'm currently up to 11. I think this fact is a clear indicator of how bored I am driving to work and back. Nether the less, I'm going to make it 999. It may mean weekends touring the country's car parks but at least it's a hobby. And it's better then train-spotting, they can spot trains in any arbitrary order, where's the fun in that? Losers.

All in all, a pretty dull week so congrats if you've read this far. One more thing, I've finally paid up the outstanding balance on Glastonbury, so Jen has no escape now.

* They were burning wood that they think a cat may of peed on, which I spun for comedy value. Hilarious!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Face Full of Tooth Paste

I've got a fun new game. First find a video on YouTube that gives your victim a fit of giggles. Then, load said video onto iPod Touch and force victim to watch at inappropriate moment.

For example, the following video sets Jen off a treat

Turns out that giggles and brushing your teeth do not mix. It was like body-less Ash in Alien (after watching the video here, I think that comparison is pretty grim).

It's a Big BBC News Box day!

There's nothing quite like the feeling I get when I open and there's a huge solitary news box at the top of the screen, It's an odd mix of excitement and dread. Today I expected a big news box, and I got one, being the inauguration of Barrack Obama.

It's odd, finally having a president of the USA that the world actually likes. I think Graham Linehan summed it up perfectly here.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

2009, Week 2

The fuzzy happiness of the christmas holiday has worn off, leaving irritable tiredness. Most of the week was spent trying to catch up on sleep by going to bed earlier than normal and then playing round after round of expert suduko on the iPod. Unfortunately this meant I ended up getting to sleep later, annoyed that it took me 50 minutes to complete a game when it takes Jen 20.

Jen was off ill one day this week, which meant I didn't have her driving behind me before I get to the M1. When I take the exit onto the motorway I normally frantically wave at her, and I very almost did it to whomever was driving behind me that day.

Waving at strangers seems to get me in trouble. A few moths back I was driving, minding my own business when a kid in the car in front started giving me a damian-esque stare. I'm guessing it's just British Reserve, but I always tend to avoid eye contact in these situations, hoping the kid will go away. Unfortunately avoiding eye contact meant not looking at the road, which I'm pretty sure is frowned upon. Therefore, despite my 20 years+ experience of looking at things, the little bastard was winning. Not wanting to be outdone, I decided that If I waved at the kid he'd probably get embarrassed and play his evil Derren Brown mind games on someone else. Unfortunately, this slightly backfired as far from embarrassing the kid, it clearly freaked him out. I then had to spend the next 2 minutes not making eye contact with the kid and his concerned mother.

We got the new TV this week, replacing our CRT with a sexy HD TV, which makes our virgin TV signal look even more shit. It's like watching TV with the adobe 'water colour' filter permanently applied. Progress! It does make 'Dead Space' even more scary though. Who every did the sound design on the game deserves an award, or preferably someone jumping out of their cupboard's shouting 'boo' at every opportunity. Let's see how they like it! This is the first game I've played since I was a kid that clearly had a physical effect on me. I'm always quite shakey after I've played, my body clearly pumped with adrenaline. I think the last game that got to me anything like that is 'Alien Trilogy' on the PS1, and that was only the first few levels before it turned into a derivative FPS. Oh, and Sabre Wulf on the Spectrum, that had me running out the room screaming whenever the titular wulfy appeared.

We stayed over at Becky and Matt's on Saturday. On the way down Jen and I were working our way through the family tree as far as we can remember. I was slightly embarrassed that I couldn't really remember my Grandmother's name, on my Mum's side. I don't think the fact that I never met my grandmother is a valid excuse. I think her name was Christa, although this an educated guess based upon that fact that it's one of my sister's middle names. The only interesting thing I know about her is that she was in 'The League of German Girls', which was the female equivalent of the Hitler Youth (this little nugget won me a £10 book voucher for a year 9 report on world war 2, so hey, some good did come out of the Nazi party). You'd think this fact would lead me to ask many more questions about her in the past, yet I didn't. I also know that my Grandfather was a tank driver in the war, so I'd imagine there's a quite interesting story to be told. I'll find out more this week and follow up.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

2009, Week 1

2009 started as it did last year, a few people round ours (Becky, Matt & John), alcohol and the girls annihilating the boys on Sing Star (I blame everyone else, and the introduction of Sing Star Abba). Unlike last year, the party finished on the afternoon of the 2nd. As John and I were first up after the night before (not strictly true, I'm pretty sure I woke John up like an annoying kid on christmas morning) we decided to have a go on Gears of War 2 that I borrowed from my brother. We spent the morning on the sofa in sleeping bags, fully clothed. After Becky and Matt had gone, not wanting to upset the status quo we spent the next day and a half in sleeping bags playing GOW and watching a 3 hour IT Crowd Marathon. Best New Years Ever.

On Sunday we saw a preview of Slumdog Millionaire at Leicester Highcross's Showcase Cinema De Lux, thanks to the good people at As we were late we ended up on the front row (which thanks to De Lux's reclining chairs wasn't too bad). There was a couple with a small kid sitting next to us, who's kid kept trying to give her bottle to Jen thinking she was mummy. Normally I'd be annoyed, but hey it's free and it was actually quite funny seeing this kid run around without a care in the world whilst on screen [spoiler] slum kids were having their eyes destroyed by gang masters to increase their begging potential. It was a great film, melodramatic, but countered with gritty realism. Also, it had Paper Planes on the soundtrack, which is always a plus (although it didn't help save Pineapple Express from mediocrity). In fact, i'm not even sure how a kid got into a 15 rated film.

Over Christmas Jen and I were talking about the white stuff. Jen reckoned that it doesn't snow as much as when were kids. I countered (less eloquently then written, of course) that we romanticise memories of snow when were kids, and because of this these moments are permanently committed to memory. Snow was fun when you didn't have to drive expensive fragile sledges (cars), and when throwing an icy ball of pain at whomever you were with wouldn't cause serious rifts in the relationship. As if our omnipotent friend was trying to back me up the first day back to work was after a night of snow (As much I like God helping me prove a point, I can't help but think his messing around with a snow machine meant he really dropped the ball in Gaza)

We bought a new TV from Currys today, although we won't have till Wednesday. I've noticed that I've got into the habit of arguing with sales staff whatever i'm buying something of moderate value. I think I'm always in the right but I'm sure I come across as a bit of dick. Today it was over Curry's overpriced warrantee. Apparently because LCD TVs are new technology we don't know how long they'll last (These Colecos'll rust up on ya' like that!) and the normal manufacturing guarantee doesn't cover you if pixels fail (a half-truth, it will if more then x fail. In any case, if any fail out-of-the box, i'll just return the TV straight away using Curry's handy 21 day returns policy). Despite the half-truths and lies used to try and sell us the warrantee I politely declined. She responded with a look of disbelief, as if I've just shat on her sofa. She asked if i'm really sure I don't want their great warrantee. This set me off and I pointed the faults of her aforementioned reasons for buying their warrantee. I argued that I have accidental damage on my house cover anyway, so why purchase it again? She countered that I would have to pay an excess on home insurance, I countered that my home insurance excess was less then the cost of their overpriced cover. This went on for a few minutes whilst Jen stood there looking a bit embarrassed. The point was, it didn't get me anywhere, I'm pretty sure I didn't trigger some sort of sales epiphany: 'what an enlightening gentleman, I have seen the errors of my ways and will ensure that I'm 100% honest with any future customer, even if it means I cannot trick them into to buying our over-priced warrantee despite that fact I would get handsome reward'. So an extra new years resolution (taking the count to 4) is to stop getting into pointless arguments, I only come across as a self-righteous dick.

I've bought a fair few CDs this week. I had very little new music last year and as a result the stuff I did get was played to death. Some initial reactions: Santagold - Santagold, solid pop record, although I'm already fed up of the few tracks that have been played to death on adverts. Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles - Nice to hear something legitimately different, the chopped up vocals on opening track is awesome, although I was listening to it at work and freaked out for a few seconds when I was convinced I was played NES in the office. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes, Pitchfork's album of the year. This wasn't what I'd expected, very laid back, I can see it being a grower. Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours, Another Pitchfork pick and I really enjoyed it on first play. Sounding like LCD Soundsystem and Rapture with a careful measure of 80s (see Ladyhawke) I can see this becoming something of an obsession this year, if not a little throwaway (see Ladyhawke).

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Socking it to the man

Jen got me a shiney iPod touch for christmas, which I'm really paranoid about scratching and/or dropping. I've got a silicone case (£2, thanks ebay) but that still doesn't protect the screen. Apple do some funky iPod socks but they cost a shocking £19. Being cheap I decided to make some myself. Jen found some child gloves in pound land that have worked a treat. A bit of cutting and sewing and I now have some awesome bespoke iPod socks, sans the apple logo for £1.