January 2nd 2007
Merry 2007 to you all - thought I'd welcome it officially. I'm gonna dash now, though, cos Des O'Connor is making his Countdown debut right now. Bye.
January 3rd 2007
Yesteday's entry was a tad under-developed, wasn't it? It was really a hello-2007 kind of entry, designed to let you know that I'm still here. Over New Year's we maintained our Thomas Family tradition of doing a jigsaw puzzle, and although the parental team went to bed a good hour before the puzzle was completed, the last piece eventually went in at 2.10am or thereabouts. I don't have any New Year Resolutions, except to make Ant's sister pay for buying him for Christmas what I'd already bought him for his birthday. Did that sentence make sense? Anyhow, join me in retribution by sending hate mail to:
That ought to do it. She'll think twice before buying her brother stuff now. Oh, did I mention it's Ant's birthday today? Happy Birthday. In other news, I was thinking about putting some predictions on here for 2007 (although they'd be mostly things like "England will lose the Ashes", probably) or doing one of those quizzy-things like I did last year. Maybe I will. Actually, yes, I will (you can tell these entries are carefully planned, can't you?) - here goes:
1. What did you do in 2006 that you'd never done before?
Hitch-hiked. Of which, more on Ant's site somewhere.
2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
According to last year's quiz, I didn't make one. For this year, see above - and I'll keep it if it kills me.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My cousin, apparently. More importantly, Steph Hoyland.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
Some friends of the family; our cat.
5. What countries did you visit?
Montenegro, Austria (on the way), Scotland (hitchin')... think that was it.
6. What would you like to have in 2007 that you lacked in 2006?
7. What dates from 2006 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I didn't have any dates in 2006, I'm afraid.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Successfully hitching to Scotland. Was it this year that I completed the Mephisto crossword? I'm not sure.
9. What was your biggest failure?
It might be job applications - we'll soon see.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Did I ever! Cracking my head open on the doorframe was a highlight.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
Love. No, wait, money can't buy you that... how about jeans. Twice.
12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Johnny C, the inimitable Dr. Cox on Scrubs. Comic brilliance.
13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
People who still watch Big Brother. Or care about Paris Hilton (Simon).
14. Where did most of your money go?
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
I don't tend to get particularly excited. Montenegro, maybe.
16. What song will always remind you of 2006?
The Power of Love by Huey Lewis & The News - the first track I played the first time I was on the desk for Dangerously Articulate.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder?
By filling in this quiz for a second year running, I've proven myself to be completely sad.
ii. thinner or fatter?
Probably about the same.
iii. richer or poorer?
It doesn't matter, if you're married. It says so in ther service.
18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
In Montenegro, I wish I'd got to know people quicker and better. And not got homesick in the middle.
19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
I kinda answered that one in the last question, didn't I? Oops.
20. How will you be spending Christmas?
Goodness me, who knows? In Barbados, with thousands of concubines. Maybe.
22. Did you fall in love in 2006?
24. What was your favourite TV program?
Scrubs was great - of course, Neighbours still - and we saw the last of Countdown with Des Lynam. I enjoyed The Darling Buds of May on DVD, too.
25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Chantelle. Well, I hate what she stands for - she is a manic parody of her own existence. Depressing.
26. What was the best book you read?
The Darling Buds of May was good, but probably not the best. Simon Barnes' The Meaning of Sport is fantastic, although it might not count as last year, since I only just finished reading it. I can't remember if Revolution In The Head was last year or earlier, but it's probably the best Beatles book I've read.
27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Elton John or Pink Floyd. Or maybe Johnny Cash, although I'm more interested in his life than his music. Nothing as spectacular as Bob Dylan last year.
28. What did you want and get?
29. What did you want and not get?
30. What was your favourite film of this year?
This is always fun... Walk The Line, Casino Royale (so good I saw it twice), Harry Potter 4, She's The Man was surprisingly un-rubbish... can't remember any more.
31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old?
The big 21. A few guys came round and we had an Indian takeaway: very nice.
32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
The Monty experience, while great, could have been better for me. I'd like to be able to look back at it with complete satisfaction.
33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2006?
I bought some jeans.
34. What kept you sane?
Prayer - occasionally, its absence drove me insane. And still does.
35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I reckon I'm a celebrity now, what with my own radio show and all. And I also reckon I'm a slammin' hotty.
36. What political issue stirred you the most?
ASBOs - I'm astounded that they exist, they are completely contrary to the justice system we have! What happened to innocent until proven guilty? What happened to no age discrimination? What happened to only punishing criminals?
37. Who did you miss?
Rob, who's been in France, and has made Warwick a duller place by his absence.
38. Who was the best new person you met?
Step forward Phil Penn. He's even guested on DA on a couple of occasions. And the people out in Monty - Fil, Amy, Dragan, Stan, Vicky... so many...
39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2006:
40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way
"Time", Pink Floyd
January 5th 2007
I'm safely back at Uni, having arrived yesterday with Dad (who proceeded to do a fair amount of washing up, despite my best efforts). Since then, I've scrubbed the massive build-up of mould on the bathroom walls (which were mould-free when I left at the end of last term), cleaned the upstairs sink (which has needed doing for a long, long time), helped Rich to empty the bin, cleared up mountains of rubbish in the sitting room, washed some more stuff up... and I think that's been it, as far as cleaning goes. That was for you, Mum and Dad. Anyways, Ant got back tonight, Rich was already here - it's a gradual reunion. In other news, despite having brought several tomes with me this term, I decided to go to the local library last night - after pondering their Dickens selection for a while, I plumped for the latest Harry Potter book (which I've only read once thus far) in the black I'm-not-a-kid-honest cover. I've discussed Harry Potter - and book 6 in particular, I think - on this page before, so I won't bother again. Instead, I'll give a mention to my career aspirations: at the moment, I'm seeking graduate positions actuary, and have just booked a telephone interview with Norwich Union for Tuesday afternoon... having never had a real job before, and certainly never a job interview - even when applying for Uni, I only had one 'informal interview' and nothing else - I'm not exactly confident about it. But if I trust in the Lord, then all will be well - whether I end up with the job or not. It says a lot about both society and myself that that last sentence feels out of place, when it should be central.
January 10th 2007
What time is it? The 21st Century already? I thought so, because I've got an mp3 player! I started off my putting some Beatles and Dylan on it, but I only wanted to put on the really, really good Beatles ones (they're all good, naturally), and I was pretty selective, so I ended up with only 81 tracks. Plus 30 or so from Dylan. In other news, Dangerously Articulate is back on the airwaves, but at the all-new (rather unsociable) time of 9-10am on Mondays... but only every other week. I know, it sucks, but we still have the best damn show on the radio, so tune in.
January 13th 2007
Hey kids. Today was Tim's first show on RaW, and he asked me to help him out because he'd never been on air before - he is doing something called The List, in which every fortnight he runs down the top ten of something. This week was the top ten geekiest artists, and I feel the show went well - apart from my casual accusation that Warwick students are all racist, of course. But I went under a pseudonym, and my voice is practically gone, so I'm unlikely to be recognised... actually, none of it matters at all. Because we were off-air the whole time. Yes, I've never done a show when it was off-air before we came in, so I didn't think to switch us on-air, and the show was done solely for our benefit. Actually, I tell a lie - we were on air for a bit: about five seconds, after some guy came in and switched us on-air, Tim said "Is that it?" with the microphones on, and the guy switched them off... that was his first show as it went out. A shame - and my fault, really, being the supposedly experienced one - but I guess it was al good training, Tim had a blast, and we'll be great next time. Rock on. And tune in on Monday 9am when my real show happens.
January 15th 2007
We create our own history, which in its turn becomes a myth revolving around our past, a distant land inhabitated by a ghost whom we can no longer understand, who acts regardless of our hindsight. With this in mind, today's entry comprises follow-up to two of the best received entries in this diary's history. Firstly, on September 5th 2005 I wrote about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, deploring the actions of New Orleans' inmates (I still regard the end of that entry as perhaps the closest thing to a perfect sentence I have ever written: 'This week, humanity tore at itself' encapsulated my horror and disgust, and still makes me shiver sometimes). Now, there's a running joke over here in which I say that I blame everything on Tony Blair; an unsubtle satire of those who actually do seem to blame everything on our elected leader, from parking fines to suicide bombers. Well, it seems that the satire is even closer to truth than I believed: the blame for Katrina's aftermath has been laid squarely at the feet of one Mr. George W Bush, and history will say he failed. Maybe he did, but that's nowhere near the full story - perhaps shame has clouded judgment. The second follow-up I'm going to do is for my entry of February 17th 2006, an allegory (again, unsubtle) which has proven popular with several readers (you'll probably do well to read that first, if you haven't).
I trudged back towards the oasis, and reflected on the day behind me. No one had paid any attention to what I had to tell them; everyone preferred death in the sand to taking a chance. As I pictured the water in my head, and compared it with the dust beneath my feet, I simply couldn't understand it - maybe it was my fault? Did I explain myself properly? Was I believable? Thinking back, I knew I hadn't described the oasis as well as I might... but what good would it have done? If they rejected what I'd said, there was no hope. Wearily I approached the water, and it looked more beautiful, more delicious than ever... as I got closer, I started to make out a figure crouching by the pool, drinking furiously. My heart leapt - I was not alone here, someone else had found the water, there were two lives saved to balance the deaths I knew were coming for everyone else I'd met. Despite my tiredness, I started running, delighted to be greeting a brother I'd never met - but when he heard me approaching, he turned round and looked me in the face. I stopped, astounded, for this was the first man I'd come across, who'd been drinking sand when I left him.
"It's you! You were drinking sand!"
"I was. I was drinking sand..."
"So why did you come here? You said you were fine!"
"Don't remind me... I can't imagine why I said that, but I believed it. I hadn't seen the water, I didn't know! How could I know? I thought sand was all I needed."
"But then why did you come?"
"There was something about you... I figured you were crazy, but I couldn't shake the idea that you might just be right. So I came... and this is so much better than what you described."
Saying this, he drank again, and I drank with him - he was right, I guess. It was much better than what I'd described, but he'd come anyway. I knew I had to carry on telling people the best I could...
January 19th 2007
I'd like to wish congratulations to Jesse Spencer and Jennifer Morrison, who announced their engagement this month (and, yes, I did find this out on everyone's second favourite Neighbours site, PerfectBlend.net). For those who don't know, the pair play doctors Cameron and Chase in House, the medical drama/comedy that stars Hugh Laurie. If you're looking at the picture and thinking that she could probably do better, then (a) you're probably a bloke; (b) you're forgetting that he played Billy Kennedy on Neighbours, and therefore is every young (well, 27 years old) girl's dream. Anyways, congrats to them both, and if you people out there haven't watched House yet, do so: Laurie is incredible.
January 20th 2007
Last night was the first time I'd paid to go to the Warwick Student Cinema since the first year (not that I sneaked in on a regular basis - I went to see the free (and not very good) film Oliver Twist at some point last year) to see Superman Returns. And it was a very good film, if a little overlong towards the end - it was set, I believe, after the end of Superman II (although I may be wrong... there were four Christopher Reeve films in all) as the Man of Steel returns after a five year hiatus, having discovered that his home planet is totally destroyed. Oh yeah, there might be spoilers here. When he returns, he discovers that Lois Lane is in a long-term relationship and has a son aged about four. Now, I was slightly confused throughout the first half hour or so, since I was under the illusion that Lois knew about the whole Clark = Superman thing, but it soon became evident that she hadn't got a clue... I have vague recollections of her finding out in Superman II, but forgetting when Superman gave her a magic kiss. And this was mingled with the TV series I used to watch a fair amount of, with Dean Cain (still, in my mind, the definitive Superman. But only because I haven't seen as much of Kit Reeve)... so what of the film itself? I read a very interesting snippet about the character on B/ground Andy's facebook quotes, so I'll reproduce it here:
"A staple of the superhero mythology is, there's the superhero and there's the alter ego. Batman is actually Bruce Wayne, Spider-Man is actually Peter Parker. When that character wakes up in the morning, he's Peter Parker. He has to put on a costume to become Spider-Man. And it is in that characteristic Superman stands alone. Superman didn't become Superman. Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he's Superman. His alter ego is Clark Kent. His outfit with the big red "S" - that's the blanket he was wrapped in as a baby when the Kents found him. Those are his clothes. What Kent wears - the glasses, the business suit - that's the costume. That's the costume Superman wears to blend in with us. Clark Kent is how Superman views us. And what are the characteristics of Clark Kent? He's weak......he's unsure of himself......he's a coward. Clark Kent is Superman's critique on the whole human race." - Bill
I'm not going to dig into that, really, since I think it's self-explanatory, but it was interesting enough to let you all see it. But musing on the theme, there are many common traits among superheroes: they are almost all orphans (this doesn't just hold for superheroes - look at Oliver Twist, or Harry Potter), they have an arch-nemesis who used to be their close friend, they fall in love; they struggle to reconcile their duty as a superhero with their love of a human woman. Superman Returns had the love issue, but dealt with more from the opposite angle: how can a woman reconcile her love of Superman with her duty as a mother and long-term fiance? The question was not answered in this movie, but expect it to be in the sequel - and the solution will be rendered easier by the fact that the kid is Superman's child. Either that or he just happens to be able to chuck pianos on top of people - actually, this perturbed me rather; the kid's first action as a superhero was to kill a man... maybe he'll grow up to be a nemesis to his father. Speaking of which, the nemesis was Kevin Spacey's Lex Luthor, whose latest plan was to form lots of land, flooding most of the USA and making lots of money for himself in the meantime. Luthor, according to Smallville at least, used to be a good buddy of Kent's, as is normally the way. In Superman Returns, Spacey did a pretty good job, but was nothing to rave about: the whole scheme was a little weak, in fact. I won't bore you with the details, but the land mass he was creating was impregnated with Kryptonite, meaning that when Superman went to save the day, he was weak enough to be beaten up by Luthor's henchmen... the sight of Superman being weak and regular never quite loses its impact, despite occurring in most episodes of the TV series... but Superman's method of saving the day in the end, by yanking the land out at its base and pushing it into space, was a little tame and not very dramatic. Shame. More important was the earlier bit where, after being kicked into the sea, he was saved by Lois, Jason (her partner) and son in a seaplane: this was part of the recurring theme of humans being super. There was a nice bit in Spider-man 2 in which our web-slinging hero had just saved Mary-Jane, and deposited her on a ship: her husband-to-be then jumped an impressive distance from the land to the ship to see if she was all right. It was a subtle but poignant reminder that, however great he was, he wasn't a superhero, and in the same way, Jason flew out to rescue Lois from a sinking ship - very heroic, very clever - but it needed Superman to lift the ship out of the water so they could get free. Jason was a pilot, who took Lois up on flights; Superman got her to hold on tight and flew her halfway round the world. On a regular basis. What's a guy to do? Who's a girl to choose? Anyways, we'll see another time. Let me look now at metaphor: some films daub the metaphor on subtlely, others obviously, and some incompletely. Spider-man was a tale about going through puberty, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe was about Christ (obviously... as is the book), in King Kong the island was a metaphor for the beast, the film was a metaphor about civilisations. In Superman Returns, among other things, there is a metaphor of Superman as Christ: it is done a little obviously, and very incompletely. Superman's real Dad (Marlon Brando, somehow) says that he is sending his only son to redeem mankind; in throwing the landmass into space, Superman is taking the evil of man's creating, shouldering it himself, and lifting it from them - indeed, once he is done, he falls back into a very crucifix-like pose as he descends to Earth. Superman is shown as the world's Saviour, but only to a world that doesn't recognise the Saviour that already came. What else can I say about the film? It was pleasantly lacking in irony; a scene in which Superman saves a plane and lands on a baseball pitch to rapturous applause is pure feel-good cinema, and I'm glad we didn't have an Incredibles-like situation in which people were suing for injury or what-have-you (not that I didn't like the Incredibles, just that I feel it would have been wrong for this film). I think the funniest moment was when Jimmy (not a patch on the TV Series' second Jimmy, by the way) produced a feeble picture of Superman in the distance, giving the reaction:
Perry: "It's a bird!"
Lois: "It's a plane!"
Jimmy: "No, it's-" [at this point Clark walked in].
Elsewhere, Brandon Routh attempted a few funny faces as Clark Kent, which didn't really sit well with the overall mien, so I'm glad that it was only a few, and there was a comedic performance from Spacey, but otherwise it was straight-up superhero fun. I'm getting towards the end, fear not (I just write stuff as it comes to me) - the performances. At first, I feared that Routh's performance was too bland, but he did all right; Kate Bosworth took some criticism for her Lois Lane, but I thought she did it very well. All in all, a very good film, and I look forward to the sequel.
January 22nd 2007
January 29th 2007
RaW is not my friend this term, it seems. Our first Dangerously Articulate slot of the term went pretty well, but neither my father nor my brother managed to get it on the interweb, and when I tried to download the show, it reckons it can't be found. At least this time I can be sure that it's not my fault; rather, it is the fault of RaW. Hmm. Maybe it's just taking some time processing. It's a pity, because we put in a great plug for Satisfied? - see if you can guess which of the following tracks that I selected was the one we linked it with:
Day Tripper - The Beatles
Delirious Love - Neil Diamond
Precious Angel - Bob Dylan
(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction - Rolling Stones
Gypsy - Fleetwood Mac
Call Me Back Again - Wings
Comfortably Numb - Pink Floyd
Dancing In The Dark - Bruce Springsteen
Not a bad selection of tracks, although we cut Comfortably Numb out rather sooner than I'd have liked, due to time constraints, and as usual I didn't play a few tracks that I'd have liked to. Next time, eh? It was one of those great weeks in which there was no playlist, meaning we didn't have to have three not very good tracks alongside our radio dynamite. In other news, there was something I wanted to mention about Superman that I forgot last time (hard though it is to believe) - just a pondering on the conceit that nobody recognises Clark Kent as Superman, wearing a pair of specs. Not even his closest colleague, and Superman-fancier, Lois Lane. I know that it provides some good gags and poignant moments ("Hey Clark, can I borrow your glasses for a second?" for the former, and for the latter an example from the film, in which Kent dropped his glasses, and refrained from putting them on for a while, as he clearly wanted Lois to see who he was... until thinking better of it and replacing them). That is all.
Is it really a week since last I posted? Surely it can't be. Anyways, I'm just about to go to sleep, so can't write much, but I thought I'd let you know that today was Satisfied? launch day, and it all seems (to the lowly CU member that I am - who knows what's going on in the corridors of power?) to be going tickety-boo. Check out are-you-satisfied.co.uk now!