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February 5th 2008
Today: Observed holding five - or two more (5)
Last time: Composer and criminal paroled to a young man's place (8,3)
Answer: bachelor pad
First and foremost, anyone who's thinking of heading to Borders in the next week or two - indeed, anyone who's thinking of buying a book, DVD or CD - might want to use this. Just print it off and use it... yes, I realise I'm playing into the hands of the Borders marketing department a little, but you might as well use it if it's there. But only for a while. Anyhow, to topics new: a few days (read: weeks) ago I promised I'm mention Severus Snape, so I shall do so now - there will be spoilers, for those of you who are still to read the final book. Normally when people warn you about spoilers, they go ahead and write the spoiler in the very next sentence, so you don't stand a chance of not reading it anyways... I hope that, by waffling for a while, I've given everyone a chance to avoid that pitfall. I'll use up some more space by telling you that I'm giving up tea for Lent, and since Matt pointed out that giving stuff up is useless unless you replace it with something Godly, I figure that every time I would have drunk a cup of tea, I'm now going to read some of the Bible instead. Probably just a verse or two at a time, but we'll see how it goes. That must be long enough, let's get back to Snape. Now, I get the fact that Harry Potter is a series of books for kids, and that the protagonist is just 11 or so when the first book begins, but the idea that a grown man would have such a vendetta against a little kid is just ridiculous. And not a little creepy. But that's not actually what I wanted to talk about: instead, let's turn our attention to Snape's unrequited love of Lily Potter. To my mind, this is among the strongest and most moving parts of the entire series, and I am in awe of the brilliant exchange between Dumbledore and Snape, which goes something like this: Snape makes his Patronus, which shows that he still loves Lily. Dumbledore asks "After all these years?", to which Snape replies "Always." I don't know how Alan Rickman will play this line (if, indeed, it makes the film), but I hope he manages to show Snape's realisation that Dumbledore, despite his enormous wisdom (and Snape is definitely in awe of Dumbledore, and perhaps even jealous), does not fully understand love. Snape is not speaking hyperbolically, nor even emotionally - he is simply stating a fact, with incredulity that Dumbledore could have thought anything else. I haven't managed to explain really what I mean, but hopefully Rickman will do it for me. In other news... actually, I'm off to watch Dave Gorman, so I leave you with my notes for the remainder of this entry, which should make sense when I get round to doing something with them.
stupid things said, voting, oprah

February 9th 2008
Today: Ant, for one, is at home with cult (6)
Last time: Observed holding five - or two more (5)
Answer: seven
Last time I left you with the frankly confusing notes "stupid things said, voting, oprah" as a guide to what this entry would be about. I tried to avoid ending that last sentence in a preposition, but it was far too hard. Anyways, you'll find out what I was talking about just as soon as I've apologised for today's clue - the closest thing Ant has come to a cult is joining "Tom's Hair Appreciation Society" on Facebook. Speaking of which, Tom has bet me a penny (I think) that no one further will join the group before March 2nd, so if any of my readership could prove him wrong, that would be good. C'mon, you know you're on Facebook (except you, Rob), so please contribute to this totally worthless cause. Oh, I also wanted to let people know that last month was the 50th documented on my online diary - making this one the 51st. Not such a milestone, but I only figured it out a few days ago. Now, class, back to today's topic: the stupidest thing said last year. It's always tough to call, and since I missed out almost entirely on Big Brother & the Sun, I'm sure I actually missed it, but I don't think there could have been many stupider sentences than one I read from Jeremy Clarkson's wife, who said that "people died for it, so you have to vote." Now, I suppose I'm being a bit unfair, since loads of people have said it before and since, but just a moment's thought shows you how ridiculous it is - how on Earth does someone dying for something mean we have to follow it? Mrs. Clarkson will be in a pickle when it comes to any war, ever, since people on both sides died for opposite beliefs... according to her logic, she'll also have to fully support whatever wrong-headed cause the 9/11 hijackers were in favour of, since they died for it. And I'm confident she'd prefer not to support it... I hope I'm not being too mean. But it was a pretty stupid thing to say. Which leads me on to an early contender for this year - the (apparently) many angry women who claimed that, by supporting Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey was putting 'race before gender'. Call me naive, but shouldn't people support whichever politician they think will do the best job? If they live in a racist, sexist playground where people line up behind the closest thing they can find to a mirror, they are in a sad state indeed. Or, perhaps, 50 of 'em.

February 21st 2008
Today: Horrify a quiet friend (5)
Last time: Ant, for one, is at home with cult (6)
Answer: insect
It's that well-known period of time when my new friends and acquaintances discover that I maintain an online diary. Some read it once or twice, some not at all: some become long-term devotees. But most of them have asked me what I write about, and I guess that at the moment, the honest answer would be 'nothing'. Yes, I'm sorry, this page has been unupdated for a goodly while, and I don't really have a good reason, unless I can plead a certain level of business (as in busy-ness) and a degree of illness. Indeed, I'm off work today (although soon I'll be turning my attention to revision once more... but we shall not speak of that). Anyways, I've discussed here before exactly what it is I write about, with reference to the fact that most bloggers (or online diarists, if you will) start off with merely detailing their exploits, before realising that it would be more interesting to diversify. And I'm afraid I may have gone too far in that direction, since I often leave the exciting events of my life unmentioned - today (while postponing revision... that didn't last long, did it?) I shall attempt to right that wrong. So - last weekend I jaunted over to Simon's place in Oxford, and had the great pleasure of his company, as well as meeting up with Jimmy, B/ground Andy (who was in The Golden Compass - and is currently in the first picture found when you search for 'golden compass' on Google), Mel & Lorna. On the Sunday, we headed over to Worcestershire to wander around Eckington again - the first time I've been back on foot since we moved. In fact, it's two and half years since Powly drove me round there, the last time I'd been at all. From Eckington, we clambered up Bredon Hill, just like in the good old days, then clambered back down again. Despite the fact we must have done the walk dozens of times, neither of us had any clue how long it took, so while I was a trifle worried about missing buses, we had around half an hour of sitting around, having exhausted the sights of Eckington. And some. To continue to fill you in on my nostalgic exploits, it wasn't very many weeks ago that I was at Warwick Uni, which I realise I haven't yet mentioned. Since I had a tutorial in Birmingham on the Thursday, I thought I might as well take Friday off as well, and spend a long weekend back on campus - and it was good fun. I spent most of the time with Rob, and it was great to catch up with him: I went to one of his lectures, comprehensively beat him at Scrabble several times, accompanied him to some CU events - it was mission week - played my first ever game of squash against him, watched Raging Bull & Blood Diamond with him, allowed him to persuade me to purchase some suspiciously cheap Friends DVDs... and so on. When Rob's brother came to take my place on the floor/bed (depending on who won the coin toss), I meandered over to Steve's floor for the next couple of nights, and spent some quality time with him. Although we were both so tired on Sunday night that we were asleep by about 8.30pm... then woken by James Lee phoning at 11pm. I had to go back to work straight from Warwick on Monday morning, so woke Steve at something like 6.20am... for which I think he was grateful, though it wasn't obvious. I think that's enough updating for now (and I'm starting to realise why I stopped detailing my life here)... just to say that I'm definitely thinking of taking up squash more - the day after I lost to Rob, I was utterly thrashed by Tom (unsurprisingly), but obviously I was keen enough to go back. In other news, our heating's broken. Did I mention that?

February 28th 2008
Today: Twenty second heart (5)
Last time: Horrify a quiet friend (5)
Answer: appal
I know that you folk don't like to make any opinions on the matters of the day without first picking my cyber-brain, so to fulfil your wondering desires I'm going to have a quick flick through some stories that are in or near the news. First off, the Times is giving quite a lot of column space to the recent research (by Hull University. And I'm sorry, but that's not where the best scientists flock, unless they want to get their arms broken by Ben Major. This could be a personal beef) suggesting that depression medication doesn't work. Actually, the research says that, in all but the most major cases, a placebo works as well as the drugs - to me, the story is not that (in the words of the Verve) the drugs don't work, but rather that the placebos do. Anyways, I'm not someone who struggles with depression to any level that makes me seek medication, and I know that depression does not equal sadness - it is the raging hollow, the unbearable heaviness of being - but to me, nothing could be more depressing than feeling happy and realising that it's only because of the drugs. I'm not sure how that could ever work. To jump from newspaper to radio, apparently some BBC radio presenter - I forget which - has got herself into trouble because she said that it's hard to see black people in the dark. Right. OK. Let me see. You may remember Patrick Mercer, the least racist man in Britain, got into trouble with the "Oh look! Racism!" brigade last year, and now we have a woman getting flak because she has said that black people have dark skin. I'm sorry, was that not the definition? Anyways, to turn my mind to the third and final news story... I can't actually remember what it was. It was in the Times. Oh, I'm sure I'll remember it someday soon. Anyways, let me move away from the topic by mentioning Stardust, which I think is a great film - even if I paid well too much for it. 13.99 instead of 8. I am a sucker for a good love story, so it ticked that box - and part of the fun is spotting famous actors. Claire Danes, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro, Ricky Gervais, 'the guy from Green Wing' and Rupert Everett are pretty easy to spot. I didn't recognise Peter O'Toole, Sarah Alexander, David Walliams, Mark Strong or Sienna Miller. Not that I'd recognise Sienna Miller anyhow. So there you go, buy Stardust at Sainsburys... but don't bother watching Closer, which I saw with Simon a couple of weeks ago. It's totally impossible to empathise with any of the characters even a little bit - which is a shame, since I think Natalie Portman is a good little actress, though Closer was only the third film I've seen her in, after Leon and the very good Garden State. Let me bid you farewell for now, and apologies for not remembering the other topic I was planning to mention. Oh, but as I'm watching HIGNFY webisodes on YouTube, I thought I'd mention just how unfunny Russell Brand is. He just is.

what was I listening to?
Desire - Bob Dylan
what was I reading?
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J K Rowling
what was I watching?
Stardust
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