August 3rd 2004
It probably hasn't escaped people's notice that I've not been making any diary entries for a while... not my fault, I've been away with the family. There are lots and lots of things I've been thinking of to write about, but because I wouldn't be able to do them justice now, I'm not going to write about any of them. Instead, I'll let people know that with plenty of time on my hands, and Dreamweaver recently installed, I'm thinking about overhauling the site, or atr least changing it a little, but it's unlikely that I'll actually do it. We'll see.
August 4th 2004
Yesterday I wrote that there were lots of things that I wanted to write about: today I'll try and remember some of them. I'll start with the books I've been reading, always a good standby; while I was away, I reread Tony Hawks' One Hit Wonderland, Charles Osborne's The Life and Crimes of Agatha Christie and The Little Wooden Horse by someone or other. OHW is probably Hawks' worst book, but it is still pretty good: my favourite is Playing the Moldovans at Tennis, which is very funny as well as genuinely tense at times, but Round Ireland With A Fridge is almost as funny. The Agatha Christie book is part biography, part analysis of every Christie novel: since I've recently read Christie's autobiography, I more or less skipped the biography parts, but the analysis of the novels is often entertaining, and I don't disagree with Osborne as much as I do with, for example, Robert Barnard. One of the annoying things about Osborne's book is that he complains about pretty much every time Christie mentions Jews: fair enough if she'd been writing anti-Semeticly, or if Osborne had only mentioned it once or twice, but the quantity of references lead me to suspect that Charles Osborne himself is Jewish: the picture of him in the back of the book confirms this suspicion. The Little Wooden Horse... well, my only excuse is that Simon wanted to buy five books for a pound, and didn't have a fifth one, so I got The Little Wooden Horse. Actually, I have another excuse: I was trying to read Frankenstein at the same time: this book is normally as dull as you would expect Victorian literature to be (although it is actually slightly pre-Victorian), and getting through it is tough, although the bits where the monster is speaking are okay. The reason I don't want to stop reading it is that I've recently given up on Hogfather and Dorian Gray, and don't want to make it three strikes... but honestly, the book is not only dull, it's illogical: Dr. Frankenstein creates life, a scientific breakthrough that's greater than anything previously managed, but he becomes upset by the fact that the life form he has created is ugly. In fact, he's so upset that he has a fever for two months: when he is back to his senses, the monster is gone, and rather than worrying (or even thinking) about where it's gone, Frankenstein is happy that he doesn't have to bother about it any more (in case people didn't know, Frankenstein isn't the name of the monster, it's the name of the doctor who created the monster). Actually, I still haven't finished Frankenstein, but I will... other books I've read recently are The Haunted Woman, which creates suspense very well, but tails off without explaining anything much, and I've started rereading Michael J. Fox's autobiography, a fantastic book: the other autobiographies I've read are Agatha Christie's, Tony Adams' and Roy Keane's. Of course, these last two were ghost-written, so shouldn't really count, but Fox's was written by himself, which really brings the book alive. Anyways, enough about books for now... a couple of years ago, I started making a list of words that are spelled the same, but pronounced differently: I started this after the words 'invalid' and 'perfect' got me thinking... it soon turned out that most of the words I found either started con- or ended -ate (eg convict, content, separate, advocate)... perhaps the con- words are a bit of a cop-out, because there's usually only a slight change of pronounciation, but it's enough. I remember telling Adam Barker about it back in the days when I sat next to him in english (before I learnt to detest english), and he kept on coming up with words that are pronounced the same but spelled differently (eg I/eye, you/ewe) which is much easier and very boring. Then he managed to come up with words that were both spelled and pronounced differently, which isn't hard to do, since pretty much any two words will fulfil this (to be fair, the words he said were usually similar, like envelope/envelop). Then there was Mary, a friend of my mother's, who insisted that 'nice' should count, whereas I pointed out that Nice was a proper noun... things got pretty heated. Anyways, I mention this because a week or two ago I tried to come up with one for every letter of the alphabet, but I still have a few letters left... here's what I've got: associate, bass, convict, desert, export, federate, graduate, invalid, lead, moderate, number, object, perfect, read, separate, tear, use, vice, wind. So, as you can see, I haven't got anthing for h,j,k,q,x,y,z. And 'number' is a little tenuous (more numb... get it?). So, if any of you out there are bored or inspired enough to come up with one for a letter I haven't managed yet, e-mail me. In other news, it's less than three weeks until results day... there are loads of people that I will see for the last time on results day, and some of these people I've spent the last two, five or even eight years with. In fact, there are quite a few people whom I like, but not enough to actually bother seeing them ever again, and results day will be the last time I see them... basically, it's not the best atmosphere to say goodbye in - even if people stick around long enough to say it. I mean, there are people who would not want to stay if they've failed (and they probaby wouldn't make the best conversation anyway)... personally, I'll stay irrespective of whether I get the grades I want or not. That was just a general musing... in other news, Paddy Vieira is about to sign for Real Madrid as I write this: I never thought he'd go, but Real need their big signing every year, and the signing of Vieira is a step forward in that he's an excellent player, and isn't just being signed to sell shirts (although, if they're trying to tap into the Senegal market, he's their man). Speaking of Senegal, Wolves' Senegal international Henri Camara decided that he didn't want to play for Wolves if they weren't in the Premiership, so he put in a transfer request. This was turned down. So instead of coming to pre-season training, Camara decided to go to Paris instead... nice. When he was told to come back... he didn't. Meanwhile, the floods of offers from other clubs for him was conspicuous by its absence (Bolton offered a couple of million) and still he stayed in Paris. Eventually, we managed to offload him to Celtic (£1.5m for a year with an option for another £5.7m or so to keep him). What Henri Camara doesn't seem to remember is that for most of the season, he was garbage... I mean, I liked him, because he wore orange boots and ran very fast, but after he'd run past every player on the opposition team, he'd miss an easy chance. When I was watching Wolves v Newcastle with Ian, we noticed this... every time he got the ball, he'd create a good chance, then miss it. Then when I saw him at Molineux (vs Leeds) he'd realised this, so he'd run past every player on the other team, then remember he can't shoot, so try and pass it to a team-mate: unfortunately, he'd already out-run every player on his own team as well as the other team, so he couldn't pass, so he'd lose the ball. Then, towards the end of the season, he scored hatfuls, and suddenly thought he was the new Steve Bull. Well, I think that's enough for one day... remember to check out Crazy Marathon Man, because there's a new picture there (at least, if it's not there, it will be very soon).
August 6th 2004
I've realised that my list of books the other day didn't include Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell, which I also read while I was away. For those of you not in the know, it's a non-fictional account of how Orwell spent time in the throes of poverty in two capital cities (I'll leave you to guess which), and it's entertaining throughout: nowhere near as political as Orwell's propagana pieces like Animal Farm and 1984... actually, it was to recommended to me by Mr. Cooper back on World Book Day, and if anyone can remember when that was, they're better than me. In a very limited way. As I write this I come directly from finishing Lucky Man by Michael J. Fox for the second time... if you search back far enough in my diary archives, you'll probably find what I said about it last time. In other news, isn't Malcolm in the Middle a great programme? I'm tentative about calling it better than The Simpsons, as some people have, but it is certainly excellent: it did lose its way a little at one point, I think, around the time that Francis was working at the ice rink (to be honest, I missed several episodes around then, so it came as something as a shock), but it's been largely on fire recently. Perhaps to make up for missing so many episodes with Wimbledon or golf etc, BBC2 are showing it every day this week, which is great. Although I don't think they should introduce another child (today's episode saw Lois become pregnant), since this could only make the programme worse, a la Fresh Prince... having said that, Friends managed largely to avoid Emma making the programme worse, by frequently ignoring her and basing few storylines around her (having said that, The One Where Emma Cries is probably the best episode of the latter series, and Series 9 was, in my opinion, the best since Series 5). Anyways, Malcolm in the Middle is probably the best programme currently showing on terrestial television (with the obvious exception of Friends repeats)... there are no weak characters: all four brothers bring something to the mix, with Dewey the best child actor I've seen in a long time (he's probably 35 or something... after all, Frankie Muinz is twentysomething, I think), although the parents are sometimes annoying. In yet more news, I've started up a fantasy football league on Yahoo for ex-Prince Henry's students... I realise that a lot of people who read this aren't really interested in football, but if anyone who recently graced Prince Henry's corridors wants to join, let me know. Although I've done consistently badly over the last few years, it's always fun. I had considered writing about animal rights activists here, and I may do sometime soon, but I think I'll leave it for the time being... instead, I'll cover the far less controversial topic of Big Brother. During the first series, it was popular to like it. During the second series, it was still popular to like it, but not as much as the first one. During the third series, it was popular to say that it's rubbish now, but the first one was excellent. During the fourth series, it was popular to hate it. During the fifth series (this one), it's popular to completely ignore it. Of course, there have been Teen Big Brother (also completely ignored) and Celebrity Big Brother (which doesn't really count). I'd just like to make it clear that I was way ahead of the crowd: I hated it from the off, and it was the third or fourth series when I started ignoring it... I make no apology to those among you who still like Big Brother: you are sad, sad people. But at least you don't have websites about it. (All of this was actually written yesterday, but I only got round to putting it on the website today).
August 9th 2004
I must apologise for a factual error I made the other day in my diary: I claimed that Crispin Glover played Biff in the Back to the Future movies... today, I discovered that Thomas F. Wilson played Biff, whereas Crispin Glover played George McFly. This makes the fact that he appeared as a Creepy Thin Guy in Charlie's Angels less weird, since both characters don't look that different. In the unlikely event of anybody actually noticing the error, what can I say? I'm sorry. In other news, I've decided not to continue Crazy Diary Poll Man... at least, not this week. Perhaps I'll have a sudden change of heart, but then again, probably not. By the by, Wolves lost their first game of the season... if only I had Sky, I'd be able to watch them lose, instead of listening on the radio... which I had to hold the speaker of, because otherwise it wouldn't stay tuned to 95.6 FM.
Hmm... I was just trying to add a bank account to PayPal (it is very, very confusing) for eBay purposes, and it told me that incorrectly entering data could mean I incur a £14 fine... surely if I didn't enter my bank details properly, they can't fine me any money? I am even more confused. (What's a current account? What's a savings account?). In other news, on Friday's Neighbours, Libby and Steph were talking to each other in the Kennedy's back garden, then Libby went back in and met Darren. Today, it carried on with Libby and Darren talking... so what happened to Steph? They just left her there all day... disgraceful. I realise that's of little import, but hey, any chance to mention Steph.
August 10th 2004
Today's diary entry is brought to you by the letter 'A' and the number '3'. A is for apple. 3 is for 3. In other words, I have three little stories regarding apples, and myself. Firstly, the other day I was eating an apple, and noticed the sticker said 'New Zealand Braeburn'. "Hey, kiwi fruit" I said. I was ignored by everyone present. Secondly, I was eating a different apple, and it had a weird taste that I recognised from somewhere... then I realised it was the flavour that sweets are when they're called 'apple flavour.' The first time I've had an apple flavour apple. And lastly, I was drinking some apple drink or other, and it actually tasted like real apples... another first. I didn't say the apple stories were gonna be good.
August 11th 2004
I am not a motorist; indeed, I haven't even started to take driving lessons, which perhaps blinkers my view on motorising matters (or perhaps renders me blinkerless), but sometimes drivers as a group can really annoy me. Don't get me wrong, I like Top Gear as much as the next guy, but that's because it's very funny, not because of the cars themselves. I may have mentioned this before, I can't remember... I continually hear people complaining about speed cameras being used simply to generate money for the police, rather than maintain safety on the roads... my answer has to be, so what? The police need money (after all, those speed cameras don't come cheap...) and it is certainly preferable that speeding motorists should pay it than anyone else. Perhaps if you actually keep to the speed limit, there wouldn't be a problem. Another thing that I can't get on board with is the frequent complaining about caravans (and this is an area where Top Gear can get a little repetitive)... the reason people complain about caravans is, I guess, that they go slowly and drivers get stuck behind them. Quit your whinging! People who have a caravan will get a week/fortnight/whatever of family fun, whereas you'll have five/ten/whatever minutes of being stuck behind them... I think there's a balance that needs to be struck. Now, I fully expect that when I pick up the driving gloves, I'll change my opinion completely and maintain that travelling at 85mph on the motorway is okay because it was noon and there was a prevailing north wind, but until that day... in other news, I've been thinking about film sequels. To that end, I made a list of all the sequels I've seen at the cinema, which I've reproduced for your pleasure: Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World, Mission Impossible 2, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers*, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets*, The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King* (twice), The Whole Ten Yards, Spiderman 2 and Shrek 2* (* indicates that I saw the first film at the cinema). The LotR films might not be sequels, because there were always going to be three, but I'm not sure where to draw the line, so I'm including them. Of the films above, I would say that JP2, LotR3 and Spiderman 2 were better than the originals (although I never actually saw all of JP). Of course, there are other sequels that I have seen on TV, which I can't be bothered to go into in detail now, but I will have to put in a word for Back to the Future 2, a fantastic film (those of you counting how many times I've mentioned BttF will be delighted by that). In fact, I've got a feeling that the only sequels I own on video/DVD are LotR2, LotR3, BttF2 and BttF3. Anyways, enough of that, I've got to give a mention here to LoanLine, the advert from which goes something like this: "Hello, I'm Gary, one of the LoanLine experts. Are you tired of paying for expensive loans?" Obviously the good people of LoanLine thought that Gary's accent was that of a perfect salesman; unfortunately, he makes the word 'loan' sound like 'lung,' making his "Are you tired of paying for expensive loans?" sound like the gambit of a particularly dodgy backstreet practitioner. For those of you who follow Crazy Snake Man, once I have finished Crazy Titles Man (not yet available), I think that will be it for the site. After all, Friends has finished now, so there's only so much I can add.
August 12th 2004
Those of you who don't have lives that revolve around Neighbours won't care that it's off again, this time for the Olympics. But I do. Especially when it's got so interesting... not only does everybody on it seem to have turned evil (with a couple of exceptions... including Supermax, but unfortunately not including the usually lovely Steph), but today was the first day the episode has had a title! Wow! Away from Neighbours, I saw I, Robot yesterday with Powly and Ian... we managed to turn up at the cinema ten minutes after the start time, but got in before the end of the ads, so everything was okay... the film itself wasn't bad. I'd say it was better than Minority Report, with which it shares a few characteristics, and not only because I prefer Will Smith to Tom Cruise: it was certainly funnier, although it was only occasionally funny. The female lead naturally turned from a prim scientist-type to a sexier woman-type (although this was largely due to the fact that she let her hair down in a literal sense) and the film didn't end in a James Bond-style uniting of her with Will Smith's character (called Spooner... odd) which is what I was expecting. Speaking of which, Will Smith wouldn't make a bad James Bond... okay, he's black and American, but stranger things have happened... Matthew Perry was being suggested at one point... Anyways, when we sat down to watch, Powly turned to me and said "Apparently..." and then told me a major part of the plot, which was rather annoying, even though he was actually wrong... perhaps he was getting revenge because I'd managed to get a student discount and he hadn't. Hey, I paid 4p of his ticket price. In other news, I draw ever closer to completing my Beatles collection, having today received Past Masters Volume Two through the post... of the 14 or so tracks on it, I had all bar three (well, there were a couple of alternate versions to the ones I already had). Just gotta wait for Magical Mystery Tour to arrive and I'll be pretty much there... yet again I've got to sing the praises of all-cd-music.com, which I've bought MMT from for about £3.50 (and got a CD for Ian which has A Hard Day's Night and Abbey Road for just £3.50... absolutely incredible). I think that's about it for today... only a week to results day... see you then.
August 13th 2004
There's no such thing as a perfect sentence.
August 14th 2004
Those people who know me well will know that I'm not the kind of guy who will copy CDs, or illegally download music, or do any of the kind of things that lead to terrorism (or so we are told). Those people who don't know me well will have to come up with a very good reason that they're reading my online diary. Anyways, would you reckon that the following is illegal, or just plain pathetic? Of the Beatles tracks that I don't have, all bar two are on Magical Mystery Tour, which I have ordered via the internet (or Anthology or Beatles at the BBC, which don't really count). The two that I don't have are Maggie May and Dig It, both short tracks that are on Let It Be (an album that I don't have) but not on Let It Be... Naked (a recent reissue that I do have). Obviously it's not worth buying Let It Be for these tracks which total about one and a half minutes... but Dad has Let It Be on vinyl. So here's what I did... setting up a microphone next to one of the speakers on the record player, I recorded Maggie May and Dig It from Dad's LP. Unfortunately, due to the quality of the microphone, the volume of the recording I made was low despite me having the recording volume as high as possible, so I played the tracks back on Windows Media Player while recording them on AvRack at a higher volume, then adding them to my Batles playlist... hey presto, I have the two tracks. Is that illegal? On a less moral (and more technical) note, why is it that my Wave Editor doesn't really work? I open .wav files in it, but if I save them (even if I don't change them at all) they double in length (therefore sounding like a badly stretched tape)... I'm fully prepared to accept that it's all my fault for being rubbish, but I don't know how. And now for the sporting news. Did anyone know that Trescothick is an anagram of 'cricket shot'? For the sport-challenged among you, Trescothick is an England and Somerset cricketer... okay, cricket is exceedingly boring most of the time, but it's always nice to keep aware... on a similar note, Michael Owen has left Liverpool to sign for Real Madrid, although it's hard to see what role he'll play on the pitch when competing for places with Raul, Ronaldo and (according to the new Madrid boss) Morientes. Don't get me wrong: I think it's a good move for him, because there aren't enough English players playing abroad, and never really have been - okay, I'm an Ireland fan, but I'm writing this from the point of view of wanting England to win. The English players cannot get the same kind of experience that other international teams get without playing in different leagues around Europe: it is very, very unusual for Englishmen to play abroad, especially when compared to players from France, Italy, Germany, Holland... any nation in the World, really. Okay, England has a stronger league than most nations (probably only second to La Liga), but look at the players who have played abroad: Keegan, Ince, Gazza, Beckham, Lineker, Greaves, Hoddle... although they haven't always had success abroad, they tend to be the elite of English football over the years (I'll admit I had to look up Greaves and Hoddle). Welshmen like John Charles and Ian Rush have also played abroad with varying success, then there's super super Robbie Keane, whose stint at Inter gained him popularity in Milan, but not many playing minutes. Although I think Michael Owen would have done better to sign for a different team, it's good news for England that they've got another player abroad (Owen Hargreaves' desire to move to the Premiership is bad news, especially for the team that signs him). Anyways, England are still half the team that Ireland are.
August 16th 2004
According to a quick calculation that I can't be bothered to check, today is the 250th day since I began this diary, and I think that marks a good excuse for some kind of lookback over the history of this page (despite my general detestation for such self-congratulary rubbish). When I began it back on a cold Winter's day in 2003, it was designed merely as a place for me to comically exaggerate the various happenings in my life, and I used crazysnakeman.co.uk simply because I couldn't be bothered to set up a new website. While the purpose of the page has only changed a little, it was soon cemented as the most popular page on that site, almost to the exclusion of every other; this has been partially annoying, especially given the time and effort I've put into the rest of Crazy Snake Man, but never mind. Over the last few months, frequent readers of this page have had to put up with eulogies about Lord of the Rings, Matthew Perry, Pride and Prejudice, Back to the Future, The Beatles, and more. Indeed, early in its existence, the site read more like an ode to Ben than a blog (a term I try to steer clear of when describing this diary), although he is only one among several people that I have unconciously insulted and conciously apologised to on this page: actually, it was his blog rather than himself that I criticised: other blogs largely influencing the content on this page are Doug's and Ben's (and temporarily Dearlove's). The whole world of this diary was turned upside down by Crazy Diary Poll Man, the weekly poll that was recently retired after about twenty questions that ranged from the inane to the ridiculous: the highlights of the poll were the early Steph vs Izzy debate and the combat of animals in C14. Unfortunately, as it continued, the poll became more of an opportunity to abuse myself and Doug than an interesting insight into the views of the public (although, to be fair, it was never really that)... although the voting peaks have reached about 27, it is unlikely that the number of people voting often reached double figures. Each controversy brought in new readers (and perhaps each month of boring updates lost readers), and although I have no way of measuring how many people currently read this page frequently, I was often surprised (especially in the early days) by people talking to me about what I wrote, especially when I hadn't spoken more than a few words to these people... I think that I can thank James Dockery for the first influx, because it was he who quoted my page on his blog. So to end this hideously unnecessary lookback, I will toast Mr. Dockery for helping to make this diary what it is. Hideously unnecessary.
August 17th 2004
In Matthew Perry news, this Wednesday sees Three To Tango being broadcast on channel Five: although some of you will have the excuse of watching the England match, I can see no reason for non-football fans not to watch this film, it is my second favourite film ever, and Matthew Perry's best. Although... when I saw in the Sunday Times TV listings that it was on, it was great. Then I saw that one of the two pictures for that day was from Three To Tango - Matthew Perry and Neve Campbell kissing, to be exact - even greater. Then I noticed that the caption for the picture read 'McDermott and Campbell'... this was not so great. Okay, Dylan McDermott was also in Three To Tango, but that was very much not him... I ought to know, I've seen the film about ten times. So I read the description of the film, and it began 'Starring Dylan McDermott, Neve Campbell and Oliver Platt'. What? No Matthew Perry? Yes, all three of those people were in the film, but Oliver Platt's name wasn't on the poster (which I have) or the front of the video (which I have... along with the rest of the video). Matthew Perry's name and picture featured prominently in both: indeed, he was the main star. So maybe the people of the Sunday Times have an anti-Matthew Perry vendetta? Maybe they're big fans of Frasier? Maybe they think that David Schwimmer never got the credit he deserved? Maybe I'm amazed? Whichever, I'm not happy... but watch the film all the same. It rules. In other news, exam results will have reached the Unis today, and it's only a short two days until we get them ourselves... this day is unlike any other so far. For GCSE results, the vast, vast majority of people wanting to go on to Sixth Form will have been confident of 5 Cs or more, and whatever else they needed - a B in maths, for example - and when module results came through, they could always be resat, even if it was upsetting, expensive and troublesome. This time, however, there aren't many people who will be 100% confident of getting the grades they need, and there will be a lot of people who are less than 50% sure, adding stress to the occaison. And since the results will potentially affect our entire future careers, there's enough stress already... I apologise to anybody if this isn't exactly helpful... just thought I'd mention something more important than Channel 5...
August 19th 2004
Exam results day, and I'm pretty happy, since both myself and Simon got what we needed (and some). Slightly bittersweet in that I had hoped to see more people - including some teachers like chemistry and maths staff - and I may well never step on Prince Henry's ground again (although I might have to since I forgot to return my graphical calculator and locker key, and my labcoat is locked in Chris Sumner's locker). Simon beat me in P6 (hardest maths exam) and while a B is certainly fine in P6, it is what I'm hoping to do for the next four years... Simon got 90/100, and an A. Anyways, it brings my lowest maths mark down from 92 to 78, quite a jump - although I knew on the day that I hadn't done very well in that particular exam. In the english module, I got full marks, as did Simon, Stedman and Josh (and quite possibly more, since the only english students I talked to were those three and Ned), and I also managed to get full marks in Chem 6, which I felt at the time had gone well... that's partly why I was disappointed not to at least say hi to Mr. Line or Mrs. Lungley. So, yeah, 4 As (Simon had to go and beat me again with 4 As and an A at AS) and despite newspapers telling us that it's easy nowadays, I'm happy. Well, the happiness is tinged by the fact that a few of my friends didn't get what they needed, but here's hoping they work things out okay in the end either through phoning the unis, going to their reserve choice, or going through clearing... who knows what's in store. Just to say, watch out for the Journal/Admag (I think the latter) sometime this week... I may have managed to look even more stupid than last time, which would take some doing: in fact, it was the same photographer. And look out for the Worcester Evening News, or some such, which we looked far more stupid in... the guy had some weird ideas about what made a good photo, and I am starting to wish I'd got straight Cs. Sort of.
In other news, now that I've decided not to do a lot more work on crazysnakeman.co.uk, I'm starting up a new site (with much less content) called Startlingly Carla Bonner. This will hopefully end the barrage of people claiming that I fancy Matthew Perry (which I do not) but might start people saying that I fancy Carla Bonner (which I do). Only time will tell whether or not SCB will be a success (and this uses a measurement that claims crazysnakeman.co.uk was a success), especially given that Uni might prevent me from updating it. It's currently unavailable, since Neighbours isn't on at the moment (you must know who Carla Bonner is by now), although it shouldn't be too difficult to locate.
August 20th 2004
So, it's Olympic time once more, and it's more or less sunk into farce in several areas. Of course, this perception is largely influenced by a natural English pessimism that is heightened by my own cynicism, but when you look at how many medals have been switched around after the event, sometimes even after the ceremony, with appeals and counter-appeals, you have to feel the IOC (or whoever's in charge of these things) is pretty incompetent. And of course there's the whole drugs thing that goes on every year, so much now that some people are claiming performance-enhancing drugs should be allowed (which they self-evidently should not). Looking at the athletes involved, it's clear that many are taking drugs (apparently, seven weightlifters have tested positive already this year) whether those drugs are legal or not: there is something hideously unnatural about a lot of competitors, whether weightlifters, gymnasts, shot-putters, what have you. Even with the track athletes, there's something very wrong: look at the women; hey are wearing next to nothing, and yet they seem completely asexual. Paula Radcliffe actually scrubs up quite well when she's in the studio, but watching her on the track is nothing short of painful. Not as painful as watching the male weightlifters: okay, the tight clothing and apparent lack of underwear might help with the lifting, but it makes exceedingly unpleasant viewing for some of us. Another thing that's started to annoy me is the paralympics, although I don't think that it's currently happening... this is not a new idea (it was suggested to me by David Stedman a few years back in one of the many long periods of Food Tech in which we weren't doing any work), but there is something fundamentally wrong about the paralympics, and not just because they have so many events with so few competitors that people end up with dozens of medals. Olympians should be at the peak of physical perfection. This sounds horribly discriminant (it did to me when Stedman first suggested it), and people will ask why anybody shouldn't be allowed to compete. Well, the vast majority of us are unable to compete: although in some sports a lifetime of practice might have enabled me to become a competitor (even this is unlikely), I am not naturally strong enough for a lot of events, not naturally tall enough for others, and not naturally small enough for some. I'm not suggesting there should be a special baskbetball event for people under six foot. Anyways, I don't feel as strongly about this as it might appear: I think this is just a reaction to having watched an hour of gymnastics the other day (not only is the event dominated by anorexic girls who must be seriously ill, but it shouldn't be a sport: I'm perfectly happy for it to be an entertainment, but it shouldn't be alongside competitive sport). It would be arrogant to suggest that something I am naturally talented at is maths, but it seems like a perfect link between what I was just writing, and what I want to write, that I can't resist. Which brings me onto A-Levels. Every year we get told that A-Levels (or GCSEs, or whatever it is) are much easier this year than ever before. Well, yes, the manipulation of results (examining bodies do, after all, decide what percentage to call full marks) will result in higher pass rates so that the government can claim that students are getting better - nobody's fooled, so I don't know why they bother - but A-Levels certainly aren't easy, and most of the people who say they are wouldn't have a hope in hell if they actually took them. I read today some guy saying; "There was a time when students were expected to translate English into Latin." Well, yes, and students taking A-Level Latin will still be expected to translate English into Latin: it would seem unfair to expect the same of psychology or maths students. And anyway, translating English into Latin, while difficult, is almost completely pointless (unless coupled with the building of a time machine). Okay, I think that GCSEs are too easy - this is based on the fact that Simon, who can recite one sentence in French, managed to get an A* at GCSE French - but try telling people who've got Ds or Es that an A at A-Level is simple. In fact, try telling people who've worked hard for an A that it was easy. Or try telling people who've got two As and a B that they've underperformed. To finish on an Olympic note, I have to admit that, for the most part, I'm supporting team GB. This is largely because the Irish contingent at the Olympics is woeful - naturally, where there is an Irish competitor, I will support him or her - and I have to return to my birthplace for someone to support.
August 21st 2004
As I expected, I looked a complete prat in the Worcester Evening News picture, and it was scant consolation that Simon looked almost as stupid. Anyways, in the world of employment, I think I wrote a while ago about working in a second-hand book shop... if I didn't, basically Simon got a job in a book shop, in that the owner (Ian K. Pugh) would phone up at around 9.15 on any given morning, and ask if Simon would do a day's work. When Simon's not around I do it instead, and although £20 for seven hours or so isn't much, I can't really complain, as it's the easiest job in the world. I worked there the other day, and about five people came in all day: two people asked where Ian was and then left, and the other three looked round before buying nothing. Perhaps because I was feeling sorry for Ian Pugh, or perhaps because I wanted to prove that I had actually turned up, I bought a copy of Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell for 80p (20% discount for staff). So I got £20 and gave back 80p... good work. Anyways, one of the peaks of the day is eating a Pot Noodle, which I buy out of my wages, and I was eating my Spicy Curry flavour pot noodle (having previously discovered that Bombay Bad Boy is a bit too hot for me...) when I noticed the small print on the side: it said that 'Pot and Pot Noodle are registered trademarks' (I'm paraphrasing). This got me thinking: they're claiming that we can't use the word 'Pot' when selling things? Of course, most people who would want to use the word 'Pot' to sell things aren't going to be too bothered about copyright regulations, but I still think that it's a little over-zealous. At this point some readers might be thinking to themselves that it's the symbol with the word Pot on rather than the word itself that is copyrighted: yes, I know. I just thought it was funny to assume otherwise. On the subject of my hard day of work, I spent most of it listening to the radio: talkSPORT, to be exact, which is my staple at any time of day. Although it's called talkSPORT, between 10am and 1pm Mike Dicken talks about topical (or not so topical) matters: for instance, on that fateful day he was talking about the morning-after pill (he was against it, and against people who were against it) and policemen (we should have more... or fewer...). The other day he claimed that Princess Diana was murdered, and then cut off a caller because she called him Mick. In fact, he is an annoying and stupid man, and nothing gets me up in the morning like the sound of his voice at 10am. But luckily most of the talkSPORT presenters are less annoying: my favourites are Hawksbee and Jacobs, who are very funny... on that day, they were talking about someone who had caught some tropical fish in a river where it normally isn't, and asked people to call in if anything similar had happened to them: "perhaps you caught a blue whale in the Manchester canal." The other day, they saw an advert with a guy in it called Ron Aldo, and asked people to call in if they knew people with funny names: "perhaps you're called Ron Aldo." They also have games like Sport Or Nought, in which two callers have to guess whether certain people are sportsman or not. And every day there's a horse ('today's horse'). Played with a heavy degree of irony, they are superb. So, if you've got nothing to do, listen to 1089 or 1053 MW, talkSPORT.
As I write this, I'm watching Match of the Day. I meant to write about last week's, but didn't get round to it... it wasn't a brilliant start, with technical errors and uninspired punditry. I thought at the time that Mark Lawrenson should go, to be replaced with Schmeichel or Strachan, and lo and behold it was Schmeichel replacing Lawrenson this week. And Jonathan Pearce shouldn't be allowed to commentate on football: he should stick to Robot Wars.
August 23rd 2004
Weep not for me; if ye must weep, be it for Paul Sturrock. Hands up if you know who Paul Sturrock is. Rupert Lowe? Glenn Hoddle? Yeah, you know who Glenn Hoddle is. Speaking of football, it was a goodly while ago when myself, Ian and James first went to see Worcester City FC: originally it was part of a larger plan to go to lots of football grounds, since I realised that I'd only been to the Mol, the Millennium Stadium and Whaddon Road. However, once we'd gone there once, we couldn't stop... some people would say we fell in love with the place, others would say we just didn't want to go to Evesham, and others would say the cheeseburgers there are very good. Which they are. Anyways, we're going there again tonight, for our first evening game, and this season they're playing in the Conference North (or the Nationwide North, as it's sometimes known) rather than the Dr Marten's Premiership, where they played last year. This doesn't represent a promotion or a relegation, it's just part of the big name change that swept the land for little or no reason this year... and also suggests that Worcester is in the north half of the country: the idea behind splitting the nation in half is that it will mean shorter travelling distances, which is probably untrue when Worcester have to play away in Bradford. In other news, the genius who is Angus Deayton will be returning to our screens on September 2nd with 'Bognor or Bust', an exciting mish-mash of celebrities, prizes and quiz (that's not actually their tag-line)... who can say how successful it'll be? I'll be watching it, anyhow. I'd like to take this opportunity to apologise to anyone who works for LoanLine and is called Gary, since it was Terry who caught my attention. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, read above in the archive.
August 24th 2004
Now, I've got to be careful what I write here, in case I get in trouble with libel lawyers: Paula Radcliffe is a drugs fiend who has cheated her way to victory in several major races worldwide. That ought to do it. Obviously Paula has hit the headlines recently for being a quitter, but people aren't digging deep enough... for years, she led every race she was in until the final lap or so, then was overtaken by lots of people and finished, at best, fourth. Suddenly, a couple of years ago, she started winning: not only did she start winning, but she started breaking records, finishing hours ahead of other competitors and basically becoming the best long-distance runner in the world, overnight. The naive people of Britain cheered her on without suspicion (she cemented her reputation as a nice girl by protesting against drug users) while the rest of the world must have been wondering what exactly went into her water bottles. Whenever asked how she suddenly became so good, Paula would say it was because she trained hard... if only the other competitors had thought of that: training. Cue Athens: the drugs testing has been increased this year, and obviously Paula's people thought she couldn't ruin her reputation by being caught, so they didn't give her the drugs... so she reverted to her pre-drugs technique of leading most of the way, before being overtaken by everyone. Except, in this case, it literally was everyone, because she didn't even finish the race - more or less everything up until this point has been almost certainly untrue, but the fact remains that she quit the race, possibly because she couldn't go on, possibly because she didn't want to finish the marathon if she wasn't go to take home a medal. Because she is the nation's golden girl, people feel sorry for her, but they shouldn't really: although I support Ireland in most things, I know that Englishmen don't quit, and she quit. Some stiff upper lip, that. I end this Olympic debate with a cautionary tale: in 1996, Michelle Smith brought four golds home for Ireland in the swimming, jumping to number one in the world from her previous position of.. I don't know, 257th. Somewhere low. This haul of golds was more than Great Britain managed, only... she didn't re-emerge for the 2000 games, or indeed much else after Atlanta 96... and her husband was charged with some kind of drugs-related offence (allegedly). I think she managed to keep her medals, but everyone was pretty sure that she was a drugs cheat, and whereas it's more likely that Paula will go on to commentate for the BBC and preserve her nice-girl image well into old age, it's just possible that she'll be disgraced forever as the druggy who fooled a nation. In other news, there was excitement at the Worcester City game, which ended in a 4-1 win for the Blues (er... that's Worcester, who play predominantly in white)... and Wolves had their first competitive win of the season, 4-2 away at Rochdale (sorry, Bobby) in the Cup. As I watch the Olympic highlights, I see Sonia O'Sullivan finishing last in the 5000m. Damn. In further sporting news, International King of Sports is back on today, on Five: I can't emphasise it enough, watch this show. If you're out, tape it. Ignore the reviews, ignore the fact that you might hate sport: Simon hates sport, and yet he loves (well, likes) this programme. If you don't like, sue me: just make sure you watch it. And that means you, Bradley. Don't worry if you miss it today, because it's on every week for a while yet. Watch it.
Olympics again... if you don't like it, you can take solace from the fact that it's all squeezed into one diary entry. This time it's gymnastics... it involves men and a bar that's quite high up, so it's probably called men's high bar - there's some russian (or romanian... or greek...) guy who got scored a reasonably low score for what seemed like a good performance. The crowd certainly thought that he should have received more, so loudly booed the judges until they changed the score... this is incredible: the crowd actually altered the judges' decision. In the end, it didn't affect the medals, but it easily could have done. At this point I'd like to make some parallel with another sport, something along the lines of the Old Trafford crowd persuading the referee not to give a penalty, but that's hardly more ridiculous than what actually did happen... and I've just heard some guy on BBC1 claim that Amir Khan is 'literally a baby'. If that is the case, it's surely child abuse to enter him into a boxing championship.
August 26th 2004
Mass excitement today, as Magical Mystery Tour arrived, pretty much completing my Beatles collection, and we went to Worcester to do all kinds of important things, like open (yet more) bank accounts and buy a suit... actually, I failed to find the suit I wanted in the size I wanted, but it's on order. Oh yeah, and I got a mobile phone: the first one that's mine, rather than a family-owned one. This doesn't mean that I'll be spending all my time messing around on it; for one thing, I'm about four years too late, and for another, I spent so long complaining about other people doing it that I'd be a hypocrite... (do you remember when everyone was texting each other from thirty centimetres away, with two-letter messages? Or downloading the latest ringtone? We had a brief renaissance when photo-messaging came in, but even that's not being experimented with as much as it was). Of course, the phone is hardly top of the range, so there'd be very little I could get excited about (look! I dial a number on this screen and it makes that phone ring! And - get this - I can actually talk to people who are a long way away!). Anyways, I'll be sending an e-mail out to people with the new number, rather than publishing it here, so in the unlikely event of you wanting to contact me and not receiving the number... sorry. In cinematic news, I saw The Bourne Supremacy last night with Jimbo: it is the third worst film I've seen at the cinema, after Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Spiceworld. Calling it a thriller must be a gross illegality... it's not just that I'm not very keen on thrillers, but this had nothing to recommend it, especially when compared to, for example, James Bond. In fact, imagine a James Bond film but without the girl(s), without any humour whatsoever, without any good action sequence, but with amnesia and a twenty-minute, tyre-screeching, vehicle-crashing, very boring, completely pointless car chase. Don't get me wrong: I've got nothing against a good car chase, but there's got to be something humorous and/or spectacular in it, and a twist (motorbikes, articulated lorries or milkfloats being raced instead of cars, for example): this car chase was just that; one car trying to catch another car. Yes, there was lots of tyre-screeching, and lots of cars crashing, but for no real point and causing no other effect than mild boredom. Although the car chase was the low point, the rest of the film wasn't very impressive either... although I was quite intrigued for a while: here's what happened. There was a small photo of a woman: "Hey," thought I, "that looks like Julia Stiles." A bit later, Julia Stiles did in fact appear, but I couldn't for the life of me remember what her name was, so I asked Simon, and he couldn't remember either. I asked Jimbo, and he'd never heard of her anyway, and after about twenty minutes of thinking, Simon remembered and told me... basically the thing I was most intrigued by was trying to remember the name of an actress I didn't really like from Ten Things I Hate About You. And since that film she'd put on a fair bit of weight and decided that she can act (an unfortunate path that most attractive actresses go down after a few years). So, in conclusion, don't go and see The Bourne Supremacy.
August 27th 2004
A lot of my recent entries have been very long. So I decided to make this one a lot shor
August 28th 2004
Olympic update: as you can probably tell from the background, we have a winner. Ireland's first gold since Michelle Smith (of whom we do not speak)... I can't remember the name of the person, or the event (something to do with horses... showjumping?) but it was a superb moment, and possibly the first time I've knowingly heard the Irish national anthem. Just before seeing the victorious Irishman, I saw the British lass who won a bronze (I need to start remembering people's names), and she said what might have to be the quote of the Olympics so far - prepare yourself for this - "At the end of the day, it's eleven o'clock in the morning." Superb. In a final Olympic note, the soon-to-be-disgraced Paula Radcliffe showed again that she is nothing without her drugs, by dropping out of the 10,000m - which is funny. I don't care what you think, it is funny. Some bloke phoned in on talkSPORT today and asked the presenter 'could you run 26 miles?' which gains him the new crown of 'worst argument ever' - no, Patrick Kinghorn probably couldn't run a marathon, but as he pointed out, that's not his chosen profession: if he thought a radio show wasn't going well, he wouldn't decide to go home at 11 o'clock. He had a very good argument, I thought. In other news, I was looking for a laptop case over the last couple of days, and they are horrendously overpriced... we looked in PC World and the cheapest you could find was about £40, which is absolutely ridiculous for what is basically a glorified satchel: you could make one of these yourself without much difficulty. In fact, I was going to (well, my Mum was going to) until yesterday, when I found and bought one (well, my Mum bought it. I found it) for £12.50. This is still too much, but when compared to the usual price, is a fantastic deal: it came with a shoulderstrap, lots of pockets, room for a 15" laptop, and a padlock that looks like a three year old could pick it with his bare hands. But I think the people who just wander into PC World - or Dixons, Bradley - and buy the first or cheapest laptop case they see there are riding for a fall. I also bought Spiderman on video for £2 at the same place, and although the video started stretching or something during the behind-the-scenes bit (and the film itself isn't a patch on Spiderman 2), it wasn't a bad price for a genuine video (my first and last experience with pirate DVD was when James Scott - let's call him Mr. X - lent me Spiderman, and the quality was horrendous). Also, nobody who wants to respect Kirsten Dunst as a person or an actress should watch her in behind-the-scenes stuff, because she comes across as incredibly stupid. Only two days until the launch of SCB, and already two people at least have had sneak previews... I can claim that they form a test audience. (The British bronze-winner is Georgie Harland, the Irish gold-winner is Cian O'Connor. Now that's what I call research).
Since writing the above (but before uploading it) I have fulfilled one of the great achievements of my life: I have completed the Listener crossword in the Times. There's a massive chance that you won't have heard of that, but it is regarded as one of the (if not the) most difficult cryptic crossword there is... except that today it wasn't actually a cryptic crossword, it was a number-based crossword, but still exceedingly difficult. After about an hour I realised that none of the digits could be above six, something I should have known from the start and therefore slowed me down a lot, but that's all in the past now... of course, my answers could be wrong... but then again, I could win and become the proud owner of a pen.
August 30th 2004
Startlingly Carla Bonner launch day! Perhaps a little toned down by the fact that Neighbours isn't on today, but there it is. In case you were wondering how to get to it, click here.
August 31st 2004
Here I am, working at the book shop again... much better than last time, since I've got about three and a half hours left and I've already made £36.25, more than covering my £20 wages. But the last customer I had was rather strange (before you get confused, I'm writing this on my laptop, which I brought into work). I don't want to hurt her feelings, but it's unlikely that she's heard of the internet. And if she has, it's unlikely she spends her time surfing the web to find Matthew Perry (or Carla Bonner) sites. And if she does, it's unlikely that she'll come across this site very easily. Anyways, she came in and asked me if Ian (my boss) was here. I said he wasn't. She said 'What?' and I repeated what I said - this was more or less the pattern whenever I said anything, actually - so she asked me what our phone number was. I didn't know, so I phoned up Dad, and he knew, so I wrote it down on a PostIt. She asked me if the fives were fives, I said (and repeated) that they were. Then she decided she didn't want the phone number on a PostIt, because it was sticky, so I tore part of another PostIt (ie not the sticky part) and wrote it again. This time she said it was too small, but accepted it anyway. After this she left the shop and, I rather hoped, my life, having told me twice that she would like to see Ian's daughter and dog. A few minutes later she came back in and asked me how much the books outside were, so I came outside and told her about four times that they were individually priced, interrupted while she told me the man nearby had just stolen a book. I mumbled something along the lines that he probably already had the book in his hands before coming to the shop, but she probably didn't hear me because she didn't say 'What?' Satisfied that the books did actually cost what they said they cost, she said she'd be back in if she found any books she wanted to buy. Okay. So I went back in, and soon enough she was back, clutching two books and telling me that she'd read one of them (A Tale of Two Cities) in school, but wasn't sure if she'd read the other (Crime and Punishment). I took the books, told her the price (£1.75), and she asked me 'Are you busy?' I wasn't sure what to say - did she mean the shop? Or me? The shop, I assume - so I told her we were quite busy. She made her usual reply, so I told her we were quite busy. Then began the long process of paying - one pound and seventy-five pence - in which she decided to get rid of as many coppers and small coins as possible. When she'd got to about £1.30, the phone rang, so I answered it, but got no reply, and got no number from 1471. Is it just me, or has prank calling never really reached the level of sophistication that it could have done? There are some artists out there, but silence is about as rubbish as it gets. Anyway, she'd got to about £1.35 when I'd said 'hello' several times and hung up... eventually she got to the full one seventy five, and as I was putting the money away in the money-box, she asked me again if I was busy - me personally. Sensing she wanted me to help with something, perhaps along the lines of lifting boxes, I said I had a bit of time. It turned out she wanted me to hold A Tale of Two Cities while she recited from it. She marked the place in the book, read two words, and then asked to see it again. This time, after reading the first line, she was able to recite the last two pages of the book with only minimal errors (which I didn't point out, judging that to do so would bring more trouble than it'd be worth)... well, congratulations to her. She told me that she'd memorised it when she was a girl, and that she was also able to recite pages from Wutherin Heights. It was about this moment that I silently thanked Ian for not putting Wuthering Heights out for sale. Anyways, I told her that it was very impressive (what?) very impressive, and she asked me if I would listen to my grandmother do the same thing... I told her my grandmother was dead, but that I probably would do if she still lived. This was far too confusing for my customer, who simply ignored it, and told me that her grandchildren soon got bored when she tried to recite from nineteenth century classics. Rather than proclaim my astonishment at the foolishness of youth, or point out to her that, as an employee at the shop, I could hardly tell her to shut up, I mumbled something and she shook my hand. Now she's gone, and hasn't come back in the last thirty minutes or so, so I think I'm safe.