August 1st 2005
Why is it that people, in general, don't like Meat Loaf? Is it, as I suspect, because he is fat and has bad hair? Because I've got his greatest hits CD ("Hits Out Of Hell") and there's some great stuff on there. First off, Bat Out Of Hell, which is classic driving rock, I'm sorry. Then there's the superb Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad and the excellent duet with Cher, Dead Ringer For Love. It's time people stopped judging singers by their appearance, and started judging by their music. On a music theme, I am currently buying quite a lot by the genius that is Bob Dylan - he is now easily second by bulk in my album collection, with Essential, Greatest Hits Vol III, Blonde On Blonde, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited and Slow Train Coming. I have recently ordered 40 Licks by the Rolling Stones (which should have arrived ages ago, but hasn't yet) to see if they're any good, I'm Nearly Famous by Sir Cliff, since I only have two songs by him and he is, after all, a dude, and Ringo Starr's latest album, Choose Love (which received 3 stars in the only newspaper review I've seen)... my second Ringo album. Well, he's a dude too. That's about it as far as recent CD acquisitions (is that how you spell that? Say what you like about eng lit, but at least I could spell when I did it), although I did nearly buy Aladdin Sane by David Bowie the other day, since I only have a few Bowie songs, and ought to test the water some more. Of course, my Beatles collection is quite complete yet, since I don't have any of the Anthology CDs... which I don't really need, to be honest, although they'd be interesting... and, in similar news, Macca has an album out later this year, the first single from which is being released this month. Oddly enough, the entire thing can be played for free on his website, although I was unable to get in last time I tried. And another thing! Teetotalism hasn't yet reached the climes of Somerset, it appears... I've been to two barbecues (in as many days) and at neither was anything offered to drink that wasn't chocca full of alcohol. They even had vegetarian burgers - why pander to them, and not to us? OK, Somerset has lakes of cider, but there are some of us who don't see the need to kill brain cells every time we are thirsty. Think on't, Somerset.
August 3rd 2005
Is it possible that the Yanks are a little too obsessed with the US of A? A great line from War of the Worlds says something along the lines of "they're attacking all over the world! New York, Washington, Chicago, London..." to them, the world can be summed up in three American cities and an American outpost in Europe (woah... that was slightly more politically charged than I usually tend to be, especially considering I don't really believe it). And now, in the Day After Tomorrow, someone has said that people should get "as far South as possible ... Mexico would be best." I beg your pardon? Whatever else Mexico has achieved, it barely makes the ranks of the 'most Southern nation' table. The good people of South America might have something to say, for example, or those in Africa. Australians, bless 'em, can lay claim to being closer to the South Pole, even if they can't beat Somerset at cricket. It's like claiming that Birmingham is the most Southern place in the UK. Have I made my point clear yet? Anyhow, my Rolling Stones album did arrive today, but both CDs are scratched to hell, so I've emailed to ask for a refund. Which puts me in mind of my only piece of negative feedback on eBay - as previously written about, I was sent copied DVDs, complained, left them -ve feedback, and was then left -ve feedback in return... I noticed at the time that the seller always gave -ve feedback when people complained. Then the other day I thought I'd check to see how they're doing, and they've now received so much -ve feedback (48 in the last 6 months, I think) that they've made their feedback 'private' - that is, you can see whether it is +ve, -ve or neutral, but not what was said - presumably because loads of people have complained about copied merchandise. I'm not avoiding saying their name for any reason other than I can't remember it... I'll do my best to find it again, in order to warn those of you who frequent eBay. Before I do that, I'll mention another recent purchase I made on the Interweb: the DVD of Crazy/Beautiful. I've mentioned the film before, having taped it off the TV before... it's a great film, and the best Kirsten Dunst performance I've seen so far, but what I wanted to say summat about was the commentary. Those of you with good memories will recall me saying how worhless commentaries are, but my mind has been somewhat changed. If you have a fair bit of time on your hands - as I unvariably do - then they can be pretty cool. The LotR3 cast commentary was pretty good, the Love Actually one was quite a lot funnier than the film itself, the Spider-man 2 one with Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire was pleasant (you certainly get the idea that Tobey is a nice-guy), the Spider-man one was overcrowded and unimpressive, and The Whole Nine Yards had a feeble one, with just the director ("actually, the interior for this bar was filmed in Chicago, but the exterior was in LA... amazing... oh, this extra was a particular favourite of mine..." etc etc). The problem with most commentaries is that they work from the assumption that the film is more or less infallible, hence quotes like "a lot of people didn't think that would work, but Hugh thought he should do it" in a congratulatory manner. Crazy/Beautiful's commentary with KD and the director was different, since neither was afraid to be critical, and Kirsten particularly laid into some elements, denouncing the reshoots, mocking some of her lines, sarcastically crying at the end, and describing a bunch of extras as 'awful' in the film. The fact that she mocked some of my favourite bits only partially detracts from what is a superb film. One gets the idea from her Spider-man version that she is not fond of MJ's frequent screaming... hey, she's got a superhero for a boyfriend, what does she expect?
investmarketing is the eBay member to avoid.
August 8th 2005
Entries are slightly delayed by me being on Dad's laptop, and my laptop being upstairs... there's just enough time to fill you in on a little arrangement between Jack (from Uni) and myself. Not that kind of arrangement. He is a bit of a film fan, and I have been known to defend myself in that sphere, so we decided that I'd watch four films of his choice, and he would watch four films of my choice... so I gave him Back to the Future, Three To Tango, Crazy/Beautiful and A Beautiful Mind (the last because he'd already seen The Truman Show, Forrest Gump, Shawshank Redemption etc. etc.) and he gave me Leon, Gladiator, Romeo & Juliet and The Believer. I'll update you as it progresses...
The latest literary update. I'm trying to read Gulliver's Travels, and although I quite like it, I don't particularly enthuse about reading it, although I'm not really sure why. The biting satire is rendered somewhat less biting when the appendix tells you it was a swipe at the third Earl of Sussex, or some such... Johnny Swift's tale was intended to vex the public, apparently, which wouldn't get you a Bloomsbury contract nowadays. Since starting Gulliver, I have read three Adrian Mole books: Adrian Mole & The Weapons Of Mass Destruction for the first time, and the first two (where he's at school, aged 13-16) for the umpteenth time... a lot of the Thatcherism bits still go over my head, but they're enjoyable none the less. Actually, having said that, the later books can be quite upsetting, since I'm rooting for Aidy and everything goes wrong for him. AM & the WMDs does actually end happily (and ends the series? Maybe) although our intrepid hero does not, sadly, end up with the lovely Pandora, despite hints. He's had three children by three different women by the end (and none of the women Pan) but it looks as if he's finally settled. Just in case anyone wants to know what happens to Moley and can't be bothered to read anything longer than a blog entry. In more book news, I've also read Danny Wallace's Yes Man. He, you might remember, was Dave Gorman's side-kick in the truly excellent Are You Dave Gorman? (a book which has led me to read Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure, Danny Wallace's Join Me, all three of Tony Hawks' books, and the mundane McCarthy's Bar, as well as Yes Man). In his latest adventure, Danny decides to say 'Yes' to everything... with hilarious consequences! Well, it's pretty good, although not in AYDG? league... and Danny ends up with a fiance, so all's well that what have you.
Oh... did I ever mention this? (Apologies to archive readers if that was unimpressive).
August 23rd 2005
If you're reading this in the archive, you won't notice much (except a change in font type). If you're reading this as the latest entry, you'll notice I'm trying something new with the site. We'll see if it works. This is really just a tester entry - Merseyfest updates to come.
August 24th 2005
Well, children, I'm sure you want to know what I've been up to in the far reaches of the bonny land we name England. Twas in another lifetime, under another name, that I set forth upon the train (it takes a lot to laugh, it takes a train to cry) from Yeovil to Cheltenham, with my mother in situ. We stayed with Geoff & June, the former being the vicar who married my parents, the latter being his wife, and a houseful of guests, leaving me to sleep on the floor of the sitting room in relative comfort, despite the curtains that opened loudly on a timer switch at 6.30 or thereabouts. The company was pleasant, with discussion of Su Dokus and crosswords bridging the age divide that was extensive - my hosts may engage in the Telegraph crossword, one inferior to that of the Times, but nonetheless we found common ground. While there I spent the day with Ian, going bowling, wandering around Cheltenham and getting lost (he is beginning to realise we get lost whenever I navigate)... the climax to our second bowling game was tense, but Ian swung it 108 to 106. We went back to his abode and played on the old PS2 on some Fifa 2002... most of the games are hardly worth mentioning, but my 5-2 (I think) demolition of Anderlecht almost made the Evesham Journal. Upon the second day of my soujourn, I went to meet an unnamed friend in Cheltenham, who didn't turn up and neither contacted me then nor since, despite me texting him. So I spent about 7 hours in Cheltenham, buying some CDs and a copy of Mojo, which I wouldn't usually do, except it had a special on Bob Dylan, giving his top 100 songs (but missing out classics like Maggie's Farm and Slow Train!!) and a CD of covers... it also had an interview with the one and only Macca, so reading that took up some of the hours I waited. Anyhow, I went that night to the home of Powly, a dude of the first order, who even gave up his bed to me. We watched cricket, explored Freeview, went to the cinema to see The Island (nothing special), went to Ian's to play on some more Fifa, went to Lil Pete's to watch a Clint Eastwood film, went out for a curry with Ben, Pete and Doug (who'd just passed his driving test, so congrats Doug) and went to Jimbo's party, which came closer to driving me to drink than much that went before it. Before I knew it, I made my merry way to Merseyside, for Merseyfest - a Christian thing, whereby Christians from all over the country (and some for abroad) came together to do stuff for people in the Liverpool area, like picking litter, digging allotments, organising sports for kids, etc etc. I spent the week scrapin' and paintin' railings ("We are railing! We are railing!) outside a school in Thornton, where David's church is. Which takes me back to the narrative... I was met from the train by Harry & Gill, who took me to David's house, where I was given a warm welcome by the Lake clan (Brian, Dianne, David & Phil) and Christine, who has her own place in the diary archives somewhere. Within hours we were off to Croxteth Park, to pitch tents for the forthcoming week... I was camping with people from David's church, who comprised Tom, Helen, David, Scott, Faye, Natasha, Helen, Mikey, as well as Dave & Phil, accompanied by Christine, myself, and Dave's cousin Laura. They were all great, even if the conversation rarely strayed from faeceal territory. Working at Thornton with us were the 'Ilford bunch', luminaries among whom were Michael, Jo...sephine, Nathan, Steve, Benjamin... oh, there were loads of them. I think all were black except Luke, who was the blackest white man I've ever seen - he moved to London at the age of 2 (having been born in the same hospital I was) and now wears his cap sideways, his clothes baggy, and is in manner, speech and posture a black man. Is that racist? I don't think so... simply an impartial observation. They were, on the whole, an enthusiastic bunch, as demonstrated on the bus home, where they 'discussed' children's TV programmes. Inasmuch as someone said the name of a kids' programme, then people shrieked with pleasure and did high-fives all round. Nothing wrong with that, but slightly headache-inducing... Laura and I held thumb wars for much of this time, despite the fact she never actually won. Sorry, Laura. So, what happened at Crocky Park? Well, let me see... (is this stream of conciousness or what? I rule) Painting the railings didn't afford much opportunity for talking to members of the public, but hopefully word will get around that Christians painted 'em, anyhow. Other groups were much more in contact, and could explain what they were doing and why (because we love God, basically). At Tent City, we had big meetings every day, and sometimes twice a day, where the latest Christian bands plied their trade - I was largely unimpressed, since the three electric guitars + drummer + being as loud as possible isn't really my thing, and I've always preferred your good old organ hymns... I can understand why that would have been more or less out of the question for Merseyfest, and the vast majority there didn't share my musical views, so fair enough. The bishop of Liverpool spoke a couple of times, and said some intriguing stuff about looking after the environment, which I'd never really considered as a Christian issue particularly before, but will do from now on... other speakers spoke passionately about being 'in love with Jesus', which is, to me, an odd angle, but one worth examining. Other highlights of the week included the daily challenge, whereby on one day we had to borrow an item of clothing from someone (not in the group), so I got Ken's hat, and on another day we had to swop something with someone, so I swopped combs with Michael (mine, bright pink; his, not) for the day. There was a (free) cinema in Tent City, where I saw The Incredibles, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Shawshank Redemption (which I own...). I started watching The Passion Of The Christ again, but it followed on from The Incredibles, so I wasn't really in the right frame of mind, and left the tent. On Saturday morning we played ultimate, which was good... we also played some rounders with the Ilford bunch, which wasn't so great (although I scored a rounder) since some among them take things a little too seriously, and (to take a 70s spin on things) the vibe really wasn't right. Other highlights... there was the time Tom and I did Dr. Pepper shots from bottle tops (he won), there was the hand-playing that went down well with most people (although was greeted with stony indifference by some)... a generous round of applause rewarded my (requested) rendition of that jungle song... y'know, 'In the jungle, the mighty jungle...'. Then there was the evening with Fiona Castle (please mispronounce 'Castle'), the widower of Roy Castle, and sometime friend of Morecambe and Wise... all us Thornton Merseyfesters were called up to the front, and Harry asked me a couple of questions, beginning with my name and where I was from. I told him St. Helens - after all, I was born there, and was trying to gain some cred with the Scice - which confused him temporarily, since he'd picked me up from the London train. Anyways. At the weekend there was a festival-type thing going on next to Tent City, and it was unbelievably hot throughout both days (Christine, it must be remembered, is perpetually either hot or cold, and had every reason to complain of both extremes throughout those days)... there was a bungee jump, which you could pay £35 to use, and I calculated it would take about £500 to get me to do one... there was a skate park, where people showed their skills on skateboards, roller blades and BMXs. One kid called Stu was particularly idolised by the commentator, who would extol his every movement at the expense of some of the others. But it was good to watch, anyhow... and the wonderful Christine bought me an ice-cream, since I'd left my money in the tent (and my toothbrush at Powly's, although that's another story. Well, not much of a story, really. In fact, I think I've just about summed it up in its entirity back there). The wonderful David occasionally let me wear his sunglasses. I fell asleep. Erm... I've missed out loads of stuff that happened, but watcha gonna do? I may come back to it at some later date. Anyways, after the 'fest, I stayed at Dave's for a couple of nights, and took the opportunity to head out to St. Helens, where I saw my old stomping ground, and got a bit emotional... we played on the PS2. Fifa 2004 this time, which has Wolves! Yes, sir! I beat Chris 3-0, and lost to Dave a couple of times, and bet him on pens as Wolves vs Real Madrid. We also played Tekken, which probably isn't spelled like that, where Christine wiped the floor with both myself and Dave (the only tactics I had were hitting as many buttons as possible, quickly). Then I beat Dave on Gran Turismo 4. That doesn't really tell the whole story... but will suffice, methinks. Then Christine insisted on playing some garbage called Crash Bandicoot, where an annoying wolf-like being jumps on apples. In the evening, lots of people came round to play Shadows Over Camelot, a great board game whereby everyone is playing against the game itself, as a team (I like them kind of games), and we were mercilessly slaughtered by the game. Ah well. That was about it... I returned home via a 5-hour train journey, during which I did my first Su Doku just by putting in the 1s, then 2s... etc. I've been trying to make the Easy and Mild ones harder by putting in a 1, then a 2, and so on, and took it to the next level. Well, I'm still reasonably sure I've missed important stuff out, and what I've written is meandering and probably not much worth reading... but that's life.
August 27th 2005
It is well known that Don Mclean's excellent American Pie - scandalously turned into the title of a genre-defining gross-out teen film franchise - is about the death of Buddy Holly, one of the pioneers of rock'n'roll. It is also reasonably well known that two other musicians died in the same plane crash (the plane was not called American Pie, by the way), hence reference, in the extended version, to 'the three men I admire most' - I don't know who the other two were, to be honest. Anyhow. It is perhaps not so well-known that the song talks about plenty of other musicians in the higher echelons of popular music - "And while the king was looking down / the jester stole his thorny crown / the courtroom was adjourned / no verdict was returned" being an example ("The quartet practised in the park" being another...). The king is, unsurprisingly, Elvis, and the jester is the one and only Bob Dylan. What the lyric appears to be suggesting is that it is undecided who is better - now, there are many Elvis fanatics out there, but most of us are quite sure that Bob is better than Elvis. In songwriting, Dylan is the best, and Elvis never wrote a word, so it's not really fair to compare there: in singing, many have criticised Bob's voice, but I love it - haunting, unique and yet often imitated. Elvis' voice is pretty darn good too, and equally adept at ballads and rock'n'roll... the point of all this is that, although Dylan is much better, I am increasingly impressed by Elvis. I bought his number 1s album the other day (and then found it cheaper in two places) having bought his Love Songs album some time ago, and he does some classics. He is one of the few musicians who can claim to be the best at what they do (along with Dylan, the Beatles, and a few others). In other musical news, I ordered my second Christian album the other day, Good News by Cliff Richard (well, it's two albums on one CD, of which Good News is one), the first being Slow Train Coming by Bob, which I've written about before.
Yesterday I went to see Charlie & The Chocolate Factory... it weren't bad. You sometimes got the feeling that any director other than Tim Burton would have hired Jim Carrey for the role of Willy Wonka, but Depp's (alleged) Michael Jackson influence was delightfully done, even if the accent did waver a fair bit. The ending was a little saccharine - Roald would have been disgusted - but, never having been a massive fan of the original film, I didn't come away at all disappointed. Well, we got horribly lost - on foot, in the dark - on the way home, but that's a different story.
August 29th 2005
Hopefully by now you'll have discovered the wonders of the Dude List... but people have been complaining, partly because of the content (Sir Cliff is not a popular choice) and the fact it's never updated. Well, you can change that, sir! Your country needs you. If you think you know someone who is i) a dude; ii) famous; iii) alive; iv) non-fictional; v) human and that person (male or female) is not on the Dude List already, e-mail me with the name. If I get enough (and response to these kind of things is usually muted...) then there'll be a vote to find the People's Dude.
August 30th 2005
Even before the voting for new Dude List entries hots up, a new man has been entered. Youssef Saad Kamel is the latest, added solely because Powly and I agreed that, if he won his heat in some athletic thing (800m), I'd have to put him on... and he won. So there he is. In other news, do you ever get the feeling that people don't want to talk to you? I've sent a spate of emails that have been ignored recently... one was complaining to an amazon seller, ho sent me a CD that was scratched to pieces. Before that - only a couple of days after the end of term - I emailed my tutor to ask him for my analysis exam mark, and he hasn't bothered replying. Then there was Tom Gwilliam, whom I emailed just to see how things were going, and who is yet to reply after about two (or is it three?) months. Thankfully, some people reply to me - thankyou Anthony, thankyou Iain, thankyou Becky. Then there was Tom Palmer, who actually emailed me, and to whom I replied (kinda late... ooh, the hypocrisy). E-mails are better than snail mail in many ways (as I frequently wrote in GCSE IT), but you can't beat a good old-fashioned face-to-face multi-hyphenated conversation. In football news, Michael Owen has just signed for Newcastle, which is a pretty good short-term move for him, except that he's made it very clear that he didn't want to move to Newcastle, and was only forced into it by the fact that none of the good teams in the world actually wanted him. Fair enough, but the Geordie fans are hardly gonna warm to him, surely, if he doesn't want to play for them... but then, sicne they've scored no goals yet this season, I guess they're not too fussy... in other football news, I am currently thrashing Powly in this year's fantasy football league. Just thought you might like to know, people.
August 31st 2005
You people know well that I am viciously (grr!) against illegal downloading of music, films etc, and copying music etc etc... you may well also have read that I think it's morally acceptable (and probably lawful) to copy music within the family. Well, I spent much of this morning and some of this afternoon taking advantage of that by copying hundreds (well, over 100 anyhow) of songs from Sixties compilation CDs that Dad has... why do people buy the dross that is out now, especially the 60s-sounding bands etc, when they can have the real deal? And things like the 'new Bob Dylan' - why buy that stuff when the real Bob Dylan is still available (and still recording, if it comes to that)? Anyhow... I was perusing other online diaries today, and boy are people bitter out there. Some guy has nothing better to fill his journal with than sniping at some girl called Jennifer (who, by the way, is totally wrapping Dan round her finger) and some bloke, whose name I forget, who wasn't invited to the gym. Ye gods! Here at Colin's Online Diary you only get happiness, flowers, squirrels etc. Speaking of which, super super Carl Cort scored a hat-trick for Wolves in our 3-1 victory last night... sweet. I have written some more about football that'll find its way on here in the near future... by the way, Anthony nearly fainted. What a wuss. Etc.