September 1st 2005
Back in November 2004, I wrote; "Next up, has anyone seen the Su Doku puzzles in the Times recently? They were introduced a week or two ago, and consist of a 9x9 grid split into 9 3x3 grids. The numbers 1 to 9 feature in every row, column and small grid, and a few numbers are given to you to start you off. Cool, thought I, as they described it as 'fiendishly difficult'. Unfotunately, it's fiendishly difficult for people who have particular trouble standing on one leg, or could never quite master the art of watching television. Basically, they're too easy." Well, since then quite a lot changed... Su Dokus became more difficult 9or rather, they made some that were more difficult) and I loved 'em. I even got on TV (perhaps) talking about 'em, and although they come a distant second to the crossword, they're still a nice way to spend a few minutes... or longer... Anyhow, they have been very much de rigeur for a long time now, and newspapers have been trying to make interesting variants: The Independent, with startling lack of originality, made a bigger version, which although I've never attempted one, doesn't capture the imagination. The Saturday Times came out with what it calls Samurai Su Doku, where there are 5 individual grids, but placed such that the centre grid overlaps with all the others, which is difficult to describe... the top-left 3x3 square of the centre grid overlaps the bottom-right 3x3 square of another grid, and so on, so you get a shape reminiscent of the 5 on dice. Anyways, that was pretty darn good, took abuot an hour, but eminently possible (I've done about five of them, I think). But yesterday they took it further by making Killer Su Dokus, whereby you have to fill in the Su Doku grid, but there are no starter numbers. Instead, there are dotted lines joining certain groups of adjacent squares, giving the total number of those squares. It's much easier to click on this link and see for yourself. So far I've managed the first two, and messed up the third one (25 mins? I was at it for hours! Well, it felt like it, anyway). I also managed another couple not shown on that site. All in all, a worthy successor to Su Doku, methinks, and I'm contemplating ordering the book...
September 2nd 2005
A few footballing threads... Liverpool. Last season they won the Champions League, and it was a fantastic night for everyone, but let's be honest now: they weren't the best team in Europe. They weren't the best team in the European Cup Final, they weren't the best team in England (by a long chalk), they weren't even the best team in Merseyside. This season they should be, as always, aiming for fourth place and perhaps an FA Cup win or similar... anyhow, a few days ago they won the Super Cup, which is the one-off game played between the winners of the Champions League and the UEFA Cup. In this game, as in all finals, the losing team received losers' medals - losers' medals!! It's all fine and dandy when you reach the final of a competition, but the losing finalists got there by winning the UEFA Cup - so why give them more medals? They have achieved exactly nothing since winning the UEFA Cup, so these additional medals commemorate nothingness, the absence of victory. Basically they are merely confirmation of the UEFA Cup win... ridiculous. The players obviously thought so, since most of them removed the medal from around their necks before they'd even left the podium. Fantastic.
Thought I'd just add this great joke I read in the Times:
Q: How many boring men does it take to change a light bulb?
September 5th 2005
In the aftermath of the historic events of September 11th 2001, it was often commented how close the people of New York became to each other, offering shelter, comfort and solidarity. The firefighters were glorified, the bereaved were consoled, the survivors had attained an almost immortal existence, having passed through what the rest of us have only seen in films. The dead; they were heroes, as if it is heroic to be indiscriminantly targeted for death. New York, USA, the Western world - we were united against a common foe, united by fear if we were wise, united by hatred if we were not. Cynicism gave way to compassion for a short period of time. After 7/7, the people of London and of Britain made a show of uniting against those who sought to destroy 'our way of life', a hyperbolic fiction that overlooks the hooliganism, xenophobia and arrogance that consumes much of England, but nonetheless we united as a people. Even if we looked at Britain through rose-tinted glasses, at least we looked at Britons in the same way: perhaps for a few days the yob at the end of our road became a compatriot. Terrorist attacks were an affront to our national dignity, to our national pride, and quite rightly after 9/11 and 7/7, we sent the message that heartless destruction would never succeed in its ends. Western civilization will prevail, went the mantra. This last week has shown us how palpably false the proclamations were: terrorism cannot undermine our society, it seems, but natural disaster can destroy all our claims to humanity in just a few days. I speak, of course, of New Orleans. In the face of death and destruction, did the people of New Orleans, upholders of Western civilization, pull together in love and harmony? Did they, hell. And hell it was, not because of the wind or the waves, not because of Katrina, but because of man, who has created an environment of bitterness and resentment, who rapes and loots, who is full of selfishness and corruption, who begrudges the stranger within his gates, who exploits those in need for ephemeral and blinkered gain. It is not the dead who have lost, it is those who live on in a human jungle far more horrific than its animal equivalent. This week, humanity tore at itself, and the only victor was the one who loves evil.
September 8th 2005
Despite being born in England, living in England all my life, and tracing my discernable family back four generations of Englishness (and probably several gazillion more that I haven't bothered tracing), I am a fan of the Republic of Ireland in all matters sporting. I regard myself, as it were, as Irish, despite being a teetotal Protestant. So, I naturally take great joy from seeing the English football team humiliated by anyone, and N. Ireland is no exception: I think I can state, with little fear of contradiction, that there is only one Lawrie Sanchez. He's this close [puts fingers close together, near face, while closing one eye] to reaching the Dude List. Speaking of which, Richard Baldwin (co-creator of The Brave and Noble Game, housemate as of tomorrow, all-round nice guy whose major disability is studying an obscure branch of mathematics at degree level) has threatened to create his own dude list (note the lack of capitals). He's also made himself a blog, which can be reached here or via the links page of SCB. It's called the Hitch-hiker's Guide to Richard Baldwin, in reference to the horrendous atrocity of a book by Douglas 'Wrote It While Brushing My Teeth, Most Likely' Adams. Anyhow... speaking of the Dude List, I realise I have seen two of its members in the flesh - Steve Bull, several years ago at the first Wolves match I ever attended (and the only football match my brother has ever been to) where he scored the only goal in Wolves' 1-0 victory over Sheff Utd, and Ross Noble, when he was a guest on HIGNFY. On Nov 18th this year, I will add Bob Dylan to the list - cos I'm going to see him live!!! Yeah, baby!! Woo-hoo!
September 12th 2005
So, here I am. 67 Westwood Road, mecca of Coventry, the home I currently share with two great guys, soon to become four. Not because Rich and Ant are having twins, but because Dave is on his way down, and Iain will be arriving when he's good and ready. In fact, it looks as if we'll temporarily play host to Rob, who'll be spending a few nights here. My room is, I believe, the smallest bedroom in the house, but is perfectly adequate for all but my box-storing needs, and already feels nice and homely. Most stuff is bigger than I remember it from my single previous visit - the sitting room, for example, I remembered as being feebly small, but in fact contain two sofas and two tables (and now a television, on which we've been joyously watching the absence of cricket). I didn't realise that I missed trains until I heard one come past the house - however, our proximity to a station means they move very slowly, and are barely audible (at least to myself and Anthony, who lives in an old station, and therefore is closer to fast trains than I was, and I was pretty close. Richard is less enamoured by the local transport). Already in Earlsdon I've bought two newspapers, some blu-tack and The Terminal on DVD. And participated in the purchase of a washing-up basin (since we didn't notice that there already was one... but ours is much better, anyhow)... not only this, but I've tried to join the local library with only partial success, and also tried to assist Anthony in buying bedding, which is a reasonably amusing anecdote that I may bless you with sometime. Other exciting recent events include receiving a new Kinks CD through the post (they rock), and not receiving a PC Card through the post (Richard failed to wake up when it was delivered and needed signing for). I arranged to have it re-posted, and then both Anthony and myself failed to wake up when it was delivered, so we went into Cov and picked it up from the Royal Mail place there.
Hey! Today, CrazySnakeMan.co.uk is back up where it belongs, rather than only accessible via its Geocities address. I even updated it today, for the first time in goodness knows how long. No real plans to update it further, mainly because Friends finished ages ago, and partially because it would take too much time.
Somewhere out there on the ether, there must be someone's list of the best B-sides ever. In fact, the Interweb being what it is, there are probably a thousand such sites, including at least one which restricts itself to songs which begin with the letter 'w'. Somewhere out there, in the craziness that is the world wide web, there is probably even a Sex Pistols fan site. Anyhow, delighting in lists as I do, I've given this whole B-sides thing a little thought, and have come up with a few. The Beatles, obviously, come to the forefront of any fully-evolved mind when matters such as these arise, and This Boy (B-side to I Want To Hold You Hand, incidentally the first single my mother ever owned) is almost certainly without peer on the side of records that is most frequently in contact with the table. Then there's U2's The Sweetest Thing, which I believe was later released as an A-side (which reminds me: some bands insist on releasing 'double A-sides', which are strange beings, the greatest of which being Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane, somehow kept off the top spot by Engelbert Humperdinck's Please Release Me). As I type, I have just been listening to Hindu Times by Oasis, the two B-sides of which are not only better than the main track, but also some of the best stuff Oasis have ever done: Idler's Dream and Just Getting Older. At least one of those two is gonna make it onto the upcoming Songs-a-go-go III - yes, sir, there's gonna be a third. Songs pretty much assured of a place come from artists as diverse as Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, Meat Loaf, Rod Stewart and Scott McKenzie. And I'd be surprised if Sir Cliff didn't make it, one way or another.
September 15th 2005
On about day two of my life here, I left a pair of oven gloves over the grill (not right on top of it, but over it), and they got charred so much as to be rendered unusable. In light of this, today I turned a tea-towel (I brought about 7 with me, after all) into an oven mitt. Using my sewing kit! I'm inordinately proud of it. I even took a picture, as you can see. In Dude List news, I've received a grand total of four nominations for the People's Dude, which are; Gandhi (cannot count, since he's dead), Simon (not famous), Judi Dench and Jim Carrey. C'mon, people, that's pitiful... Gary Lineker has been added recently, thanks in large part to the latest Walkers/iPod advert. I'm currently thinking about including Morgan Freeman (or is it Freedman?). In other news, the numbers up here are increasing, with Rob arrived, Becky coming today, David and Iain by the end of the week, Christine some time I can't remember, Tom some other time I can't remember, and new Richard possibly, at some time I never knew. And more, obviously - Warwick Uni's numbers haven't dropped that rapidly. I'm tired. G'night.
September 16th 2005
I very much believe, as I have mentioned before, that Pride & Prejudice is one of the great books; in the top three novels of all time, most likely. If anything, the BBC dramatisation of the book was even better. So the latest film, which I saw tonight, really had some stiff competition (and perhaps begged the question, why? There is a definitive version already out there, so is it just for the money?). First off, it is not as good as the BBC version - but how could it be? Not only because the BBC version was so fantastic, but also because the film was around two hours long, whereas the TV series was 8 hours long. There would have to be bits missed out. The film-makers have said that they wanted to make this P&P very much seen through the eyes of Lizzy, and it has to be said that Keira Knightley was excellent (so much so that at times I couldn't choose between her and Jennifer Ehle), but the supporting characters could not compare to those in the BBC version, which could devote far more time to fleshing them out. So Mr. Bennet, Mrs. Bennet, Jane, Wickham, Mr. Collins, the Gardners, Charlotte... none of these was anywhere near as good as in the BBC version. Mr. Bingley was my personal low-point: he was played as something of a buffoon, and rather stupid, whereas Crispin Bonham-Carter's portrayal was fantastic. The list of places where the film fell down in comparison is extensive - a major one was not spending anywhere near enough time on the Wickham storyline (the Wickham they had was very, very innocent to begin with, and I thought it would be interesting to see him as a cad, but that was never on our screens. Even Darcy's letter skimmed through it). Even his elopement with Lydia took up hardly any time at all. But what about the main couple, Darcy & Lizzy? Well, I have to say that there was a lot more (evident) passion there than the BBC version, with both wearing their hearts on their sleeves - indeed, there was more than a trace of Wuthering Heights in some of their confrontations. The initial proposal scene was done well on TV, with Mr. Darcy's anger failing to reveal his insecurity and, indeed, the true strength of his love, whereas the corresponding scene in the film showed Darcy as somewhat more pathetic, making clear his need for Lizzy's hand in marriage, rather than simply his desire for it. The film's version was certainly very good, but it made Darcy's alteration at Pemberley less marked, and thus nowhere near as moving, or even as important in changing Lizzy's opinion of him. The scene where she told Darcy about Lydia's elopement in the BBC version was excellent and very moving, whereas the corresponding scene in the film took place in front of Mr. & Mrs. Gardner, and thus was far less effective. I realise I've been spending a lot of time talking about the film's comparative failings, and I will get onto more of its good points, but I realise that I didn't want the film to challenge the BBC version, I wanted it to be worse. Therefore, when there were things done better in the film, I didn't know what to think: it was, in a way, spoiling the superlative adaptation I already know and love. There were flaws on the Beeb; to be honest, I didn't quite buy the love between Darcy and Lizzy towards the end: when they were separate, it was very evident that he loved her, but when she'd finally said yes, his joy wasn't quite convincing. In the film, Lizzy's love for Darcy was made much for evident, and dwelt upon with shots of Keira's tear-stained face etc, but again the union didn't quite ring with the joy you'd have expected when the two were together. The other main problem I had with the BBC version was that it didn't include Mr. Bennet's superb line along the lines of "If it had been your uncle, I must and would have paid him back. As it is, I will offer to pay Mr. Darcy, he will rant and rave of his love for you, and that will be an end to the matter." Sadly, the film also cut this line (and indeed everything after Mr. Bennet giving his permission, so there was no wedding). Casting-wise, I thought that Judi Dench was every bit as good as Lady Catherine de Burgh, and perhaps better, than on the BBC, and I thought that Georgiana, despite having very little to do onscreen, was also better than her BBC counterpart. So, all in all, despite the fact that I appear to have lambasted the film, it was very good, honestly. Keira was absolutely captivating, and feistier (read: ruder... I know that Lizzy is supposed to be feisty, but I thought the BBC interpretaion was excellent) than Jennifer Ehle, but you got the feeling that she deserved a stronger Darcy. As I have said, there was more power in her love for him, but less power in his love for her, than in the BBC version. It would be interesting to pair them up, Keira with Colin Firth, perhaps... the Mr. Bingley of the film would definitely never be friends with Colin Firth's Darcy, for example. There was one character in the film who greatly surpassed the BBC version, and that was 'man in the background', excellently portrayed by one Andy Prichard, otherwise known as 'Tall Andy', who lived on my corridor last year. He's in the picture above... sharing screen time with Keira, in a clip from the trailer. And no, it's not a wig. So, to conclude for about the third time, it was a very good film and I'll almost certainly buy it when it comes out.
September 21st 2005
The hordes are returning. With term starting in just five days, we now have a full compliment (or is it complement?) of people in this house (in order of arrival, Richard, myself, Anthony, David and Iain) and 'the other house', oft referred to as 'number 157' or 'the girls' house' now contains Christine, Becky and New Richard, sometimes referred to as McFly, because his nickname used to be Fly and Back to the Future rules like you wouldn't believe. Others to have resurfaced include Rob, Stu, Jason, apparently Guy today... I'm actually surprised by how few people have turned up thus far. Anyways, in recent days I have bulked my video collection with Fight Club, which I had been told was very good, and is impressive enough even if the ending had already been spoilt for me by some fool, and The Cider House Rules, which I saw once a few years ago and liked a fair bit. It stars the overrated Michael Caine, the used-to-be overrated Charlize Theron, and Tobey Maguire. Who isn't overrated. Oh, and Paul Rudd, who is probably underrated if anything (he of 'Mike in Friends' and 'that guy in Clueless' fame). I have also bulked my Beatles CD collection in recent days (you thought I had every Beatles song? Well, not quite) with the acquisition of Anthology 1 and Anthology 2... they are albums containing mainly out-takes and demo versions of songs that either became Beatles songs (the majority) or were unreleased. There are also live tracks, like those from the famous gig at Shea Stadium, and there are a few TV performances, such as the immortal Ed Sullivan Show appearance, and clips from the Morecambe and Wise show. So, basically, they don't count as Beatles tracks, but they're certainlu very interesting... one for the collectors, methinks, but that's what they were intended for. So it's only Anthology 3 that remains uncollected, and it promises to be the most interesting of the Anthology series. And then - surely - I'll have 'em all.
Today we decided to break our frisbee duck for the year, and so headed over to Hearsall Common to chuck some disc. However, it seemed we weren't the only people who thought the common was a nice place to play: a bunch of primary school kids (three seemingly identical girls and a boy) joined in, hi-jacked and then ruined our game. Call me a Scooby-Doo villain, but meddlesome kids aren't my favourite things, especially when one of the identikit girls angrily told me I wasn't allowed to wear green. But even if they had all been bundles of joy who refrained from shouting 'Mine! Please!' seconds after throwing the frisbee, I'd still be a little disturbed that their respective parents had seen fit to leave them on Hearsall Common for a couple of hours (at least), with no warnings to avoid playing with a group of 20-year-old males (and one female). I don't think I'm being unduly over-cautious when I say that it's exceedingly dangerious.
September 23rd 2005
Normally I wouldn't do this kind of thing, but it's been doing the rounds on Warwick Blogs, and was in a self-analysis kind of mood and didn't want to be too destructive, so here goes;
1.What Time is it now? 01.47
2.What is your full name? Colin James Thomas
3.Single or taken? Single
4.What does your name mean? Thomas means twin! And I'm a twin!
5.Who picked out your name? Both parents, together. Awww
6.What's your nickname? Erm... Col. Or, for a few weeks, Twinny.
7.How old are you? 19
8.What colour are your eyes? Blue
9.Do you have an innie or an outie? Innie
10.What size are your shoes? 10, or on a good day, 11
12.How tall (or short) are you? 5ft 11 and three blooming quarters
13.Honestly what do you like about yourself? Let me see... I'm reasonably funny. And loyal.
14.What do you always get complimented on? Christine sad she liked my jacket. Once.
15.What is your worst quality? Failing to answer questions when they delve too deep.
16.What are the last four digits of your phne Number? Take a hike.
17. Do you think you're cute? Good grief, no.
18. Hair colour? Practically grey, I'm told.
19.Do you wear contacts? No, and I never could. Urgh!
20.Living Arrangements? In a house with four guys from Uni.
20.Favourite Drink? I dunno... Pepsi Max.
22.Favourite alcoholic drink? I'm TT
23.Favourite Month? November. My birthday.
24.Favourite Food? Toad in the Hole
25.Favourite Board/Card Game? Fluxx still rocks
26.Favourite WebSite? this one!
27.Favourite Clothing Brand? Wolves Club Shop
28.Favourite day of the Year? Christmas Day
29.Favourite colour? Green
30.Favourite Animals? Polar bears
31.Do you have more girl or boy friends? Boys, by a country mile.
32.Who's your best friend? Gotta be Simon
33.Are your parents together? Last I checked
34.How often do you get together with the family? The whole family? Not very often.
35.Do you tell your parents or your friends more? I don't tell anyone nothing.
36.Anything special about your parents? Loads
37.Siblings and their ages? Simon, 19
38.You're a flirt? Ha ha ha ha ha
39.You're slutty? Good grief
40.You Mean? Try not to be
41.You like someone? Not like that, you inquisitive thing
42.You can keep secrets? From most people... not my family, usually
43.You dance in front of the mirror? I have been known to...
44.You sing in the shower? I sing everywhere
46.You liked Britney Spears? Never
47.You've liked a cousin? I like all my cousins
48.You've been in the opposite sexes bathroom? Only once, and with good cause
49.You've seriously hurt someone? I punched David. He was all right really. And it was an accident.
50.You've been hurt seriously? Broken both my arms.
52.You get your way? Sometimes
53.You're willing to try new things? Not if it looks like I won't be able to do 'em.
54.You've cheated on a test? Never! Honestly, never.
57.What are you wearing? Clothes, probably.
58. What colour and material r ur pants? I dunno.
59.What are you listening to? Beatles Anthology 2
60.How are you feeling? Tired, a little down
61.What are you doing? Talking to Powly and Justin on MSN
62.What are you eating? Nowt
63.How many people are online? Billions
64.How's the weather? It's night-time, so it's dark.
65.What's on your mouse pad? It's all yellow.
66.What books are you reading? Legends II (Fantasy collection) and a new Beatles book
78.What kind of cologne do you use? That's a bit american for me.
79.What's in your pockets? A Twix wrapper, I think
80. Boxer or Briefs? Boxers
81.Blonde or brunette girls? I'm not that shallow.
82.Tall or short girls? Shorter than me
83.Piercings on girls? Nope. Well, maybe ears. But who'd want to do that?
84. Long hair or short? Are we still talking girls?
85.Good or bad girl? Good. Grief.
86.What do you find annoying in girls? Let me see... that none of them are besotted with me.
87.What's the first thing you notice about girls? That they're not men.
OTHER QUESTIONS ( for both GUYS n GIRLS )
88.What was the last movie you saw? Bridget Jones's Diary, with a bunch of people tonight
89.What did you have for dinner? David did us all a roast
92.What movie do you really want to see? Looking forward to Narnia. Would like to see One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest.
93.Tell us about those scars? Frisbee in the mouth. Bridge on the knee.
95.Where is your dream place to travel to? Nowhere, really. Travel is a waste of money.
96.What did you last dream about? Can't remember
97.What was the last thing you ate? A Twix
98.If you were a crayon what colour what would you be? What a stupid question. It means nothing.
99.Who was the last person you talked to on the phone? Iain, briefly.
102.Ever had a crush on a teacher? Never
103.Are you too shy to ask someone out? Yes...
104.Scary movies or happy ending? Scary movies blow. Happy endings rock.
105.Summer or winter? Where are the joys of Spring? Aye, where are they?
106.Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate. Or both.
107.What did you do last night? Entered a pub quiz.
108. What time is it now? 02.38
September 26th 2005
As I write this, I'm watching the first half of Martin Scorcese's documentary on Bob Dylan, entitled No Direction Home. Views on Bob differ greatly - Christine said he wouldn't do well on X-Factor, Simon maintains a dislike of him, to name but two deluded souls. Not only was Bob the greatest songwriter ever, he was also the greatest poet of the century. However, even Dylan afficianados sometimes suggest that his singing voice wasn't up to much - I have to disagree completely, as Bob has a beautiful voice... well, maybe beautiful isn't the right word. Haunting, perhaps - I love it. It's a voice nothing like those of Louis Armstrong, or Frank Sinatra or Paul McCartney, but a fantastic voice that I wouldn't trade for anything. The man is undoubtedly a genius.
September 27th 2005
Second half of the Bob Dylan documentary was on tonight, so I watched and taped it... but, little known to me, the tape had either rewound itself or been wound back to the beginning, so that I taped over almost all of the first half of the documentary. I cannot believe it. I cannot believe it. The doc itself has been universally hailed as a four-hour televisual feast, which is confusing on several points: firstly, the running time is more or less exactly 3 and a half hours. Secondly, of that 3 and a half hours, about 2 and a half are devoted to the fact that Bob played acoustic, then played electric and was booed - there is so much more to say, and I couldn't believe it when it finished 'After Bob's motorcycle crash in 1966, he continued to write and record songs.' 40 years summed up in that, when the entire doc covered about 5 years!! Crazy. Martin Scorcese decided to ignore masses of Bob's career - his Christian music didn't get a hint of a mention. Don't get me wrong, the footage was fantastic, both from the 60s and the recent Dylan interview (which is why I'm so upset that I've lost so much of it), but it is a flawed documentary.
September 29th 2005
I cannot, in all honesty, claim that a good taste in films is a tangible part of my reputation. But be that as it may, I am overtaken by Becky, who has offered us Napoleon Dynamite, a monstrosity of a film which suffers in comparison to a potato. As a viewing spectacle. The film was exceedingly unfunny, and I really don't want to talk about it, except to warn readers off. Tonight I also met Hugh, whose virtues Becky had previously been extolling... sadly, my early interactions with him involved him lauding Napoleon Dynamite (a lot), accusing me of preferring slapstick to clever comedy, claiming Bob Dylan is 'over-rated', and criticising Three To Tango, possibly my favourite film. Hugh is in all likelihood a great guy, and it's a shame we had to meet under such circumstances... it's unlikely I could be civil to Paul McCartney if he declared a love for Napoleon Dynamite. Don't watch it!!