November 6th 2006
Updates have been somewhat sporadic of late, since our internet isn't working at home - I'm writing this now in the Zeeman building (formerly known as the Maths Dept. Still known as the Maths Dept to the majority, in fact). I've also got a nasty headache, which has been hitting me off and on for a few days, and forced me out of my onhly lecture of the day - hopefully it'll be gone by tomorrow. I'll be drinking lots of water and drugging myself up to the eyeballs. Hmm... bought Private Eye the other day, to see if I get it yet. Turns out that it's not actually trying to be funny most of the time - I thought it was one big spoof, but it ain't. The cover joke is usually pretty feeble, I have to say, which put me off somewhat. Indeed, the whole thing is only occasionally funny even when trying to be, but it manages to unearth stuff (usually about the hypocrisy and ineptitude of politicians, big businesses or both) that would make front-page scandal stories in your average paper. Crazzzy.
November 8th 2006
So I'm 21. And I have no idea what I want to do with the rest of my life. Well, that's not true, I don't have no idea; I have plenty of ideas about what I don't want to do, and the list is growing. The whole finance/business world all seems pretty unpleasant, I have to say - naturally only the bigger companies will come to Warwick to recruit, and I guess it's largely them that occupy the cut-throat, high-pressure world that I don't want to inhabit. It's not that I'm lazy - when it comes to academic work, at least, I've pretty much always put the hours in when I've had to - but I don't want to work under those kind of conditions. I've spent my existence thus far striving to be among the best, to do as well as I can - as well as people, including myself, expect of me - and living under that kind of pressure for the next 40 years or so doesn't sound fun. I mean, as it stands, my third terms (and Easter holidays) here involve a lot of work, no small amount of anguish, and are generally necessary evils. Living like that? No thanks. Of course, I've also realised that 'fulfilling your potential' is really balderdash - what's the point of earning stacks of cash, or even being highly successful in what you enjoy, if you don't have time and commitment for friends, family (inherited and chosen) and (most importantly) God? The more I think about it, the more I feel that an overtly Christian occupation would be more fulfilling than anything else - but then I'm not sure if that's just a cop-out because I can't think of a 'secular' job to pursue. Anyhow, I'm heading to a Careers Fair type thing tomorrow, which might enlighten me slightly. Where was I when this all began? That was it, I've turned 21. The day didn't really get kicked off until quite late, when a bunch of guys came round to have a curry, play some table-tennis, and generally hang out - these people included Becks, who was turning 22 (woah! That's ancient!) that very day. Gifts I got include a frisbee (with changing LED colours), a logic game, a book about the Beatles & Coventry, a freeview box, a Friends book, a Mr. Man DVD, The Timewaster Letters, a doodle-pad, a C.S. Lewis book, a chocolate bar, a crazy metal-disentanglement game, Pirates of the Caribbean... and some chocolate. Thanks everyone! In other news, I bought myself the complete Darling Buds of May DVD boxset a couple of weeks ago, and have been watching them all since then, avidly. They just don't make 'em like that any more, do they? I feel like a good old-fashioned mini-review. David Jason is a marvel to watch, such assured ability - nothing he does is particularly special, but what he does, he does perfickly. Pam Ferris is equally assured, but it's really the Charley/Mariette (spelling?) storylines that I enjoy the most. I have to say that both Philip Franks and Catherine Zeta Jones grow into their roles - in the first episode or two, when their actual storylines are among the strongest, there is a tendency to overact a little. But by the second and third series, they too are perfick (I've made that reference already, haven't I?). The kids, too, get better, even when suffering the confusion of being partially recast. Talking about the storylines (I was, back there somewhere), the first three are taken from the books by H.E. Bates (coincidentally, I was reading The Darling Buds of May for the first time recently), and in latter episodes, the programme suffers from non-Batesesque deviations, most notable a Russian villain. Having said that, some of the later story arcs involving Charley & Mariette are very strong, despite lacking something in continuity - in one scene they'd be fighting, by the next they'd have made up, without reference to it onscreen. Hmm... this is all as disjointed as my reviews normally are, so I'll get finished soon. I'll just say that, as well as Philip Franks (as Charley), who played Sgt. Craddock on Heartbeat, there were two other notable Heartbeat actors; Sarge (I forget his surname, but he worked at the pub after retiring) and PC Ventriss. Oh, and Andy Serkiss - he of Gollum fame - was in the last episode. In non-Darling Buds news, Fopp has now opened on campus, which is very exciting - if I'd been able to choose any shop to have here, I'd have gone for Fopp, a CD/DVD store with often remarkably good prices. I've already bought 3 CDs there.
November 13th 2006
You've probably heard by now. Yes, on Saturday night I jumped from kitchen to sitting room, and was stopped mid-way by a particularly obnoxious doorpost. 3.5 hours, 3 or 4 stitches and a fantastically capable housemate later, I was back at home. And I missed James Lee's party. It was a particularly stupid thing to do, and not that serious really (no concussion, no nothing) so isn't top of your list of desired accidents, but still - I have not had a single female (or male, come to that) on the doorstep, eager to hold my hand and tell me how brave I am. OK, several people (the majority women) have phoned or texted to see that I'm on the mend, but I feel duty bound to point out that Ant has only to scratch his head, and half the eligible females of Earlsdon come knocking on the door. It's just not fair, is it? Anyways, the good (well, slightly incompetent) doctor told me not to wash my hair for three to four days, which is fair enough, except that there's still dried blood in it. Ergh. In other news, I've decided to change my password to pretty much everything, since the version I had previously was too long, not alphanumeric, and a little too easy to guess. So the transition is in progress, and I apologise if you'd just cracked the last one.
November 14th 2006
You didn't believe I'd cracked my head open, did you? You were thinking: "Surely an intelligent chap like Colin couldn't possibly do something as stupid as that?" or maybe "Surely Colin's so good-looking that wood itself would leap from his path, desperate to preserve his immaculate head?" And I'm tempted to agree with you, but the camera doesn't lie, and these are the pictures:
If those pictures were a little too disgusting for you, I apologise. Hopefully this will make it all better:
Anyways, in other news we've got an exciting Pizza Evening in JM tomorrow night - and things need organising! So please pray for that. Speaking of food, did I mention the absolutely fantastic cake my mother made me? One of the great achievements of the modern age, I'd reckon (and hardly any left at this moment) - I've already put a few pictures up today, so I'll wait for another time to put a shot of the cake in, although you should be able to locate it in my Mr. Man group on facebook. Speaking of which, I launched another facebook group the other day, much to my shame, inviting all the people called Colin Thomas to join. The group was called 'My name's Colin Thomas', you see. In careers news, I'm still pondering, and I'm liking the look of actuarial work... mind you, back in year 12 I was pretty keen on going to Keele Uni for some reason, so who knows how long this'll last. Or perhaps I should be a radio DJ - I like to mention the tracks I play on Dangerously Articulate, so for those of you who missed it, last week the tracks I chose were Hurt by Johnny Cash, Sky Blue and Black by Jackson Browne, Shapes of Things by Jeff Beck and Saturday Night's Alright [sic] For Fighting by Elton John. Next week is the first time I'll be on the desk with Jimmy Lee alongside, so tune in 12-1pm Saturday afternoon!
November 17th 2006
I was in Fopp yesterday, and noticed Christina Aguilera's new album. Not with the intention of buying, I assure you, but I wanted to mention it because it was called 'Back to Basics' and was adorned with a sticker reading 'deluxe pack'... I found this amusing. Oh, I'm going to write about maths here soon. Possibly later today. So stay tuned.
November 18th 2006
A pretty good show this afternoon on RaW, I think - we actually got a request from someone we didn't know, and I almost played a request from Simon (actually, I think I will play that track next week). It was my first time on the desk alongside James, and as I predicted there was something of a power struggle. After all, he's been doing it for a year longer than I have, yet I want to assert myself as an equal partner on the show, but I think we're gonna get things balanced out fine. I made a couple of cack-handed transfers between songs, accidentally let a mild oath out (sorry!) and forgot to switch the mikes totally off before saying "didn't we play this the other week?" (playing it back from the interweb, it's not audible, thankfully) but otherwise I think it went well. Since I was on the desk, I chose the majority of the tracks - and since we were in Studio 2, without playlists taped up, we didn't play any playlist songs. The tunes I chose were:
Baby Jane - Rod Stewart
Under My Thumb - Rolling Stones
Young Ones - Cliff Richard & The Shadows
American Girl - Tom Petty
Mr. Jones - Counting Crows
This Boy - Beatles
He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother - The Hollies
My Life - Billy Joel
Not a bad selection, methinks, although I'll have to get some Dylan on next week, having missed him out for two weeks in a row. And, of course, a track from the new Beatles album that's OUT THIS MONDAY!! I've got mine pre-ordered from Tesco Jersey. Next week is also the time I'm going, with other males from the CU, to see the latest James Bond flick. I keep reading that this film is much rawer than previous ones; really gritty and not at all camp, and I think this was designed to be complimentary every time I've read it. I have to question, however, the wisdom of making the Bond franchise more edgy, with genital-beatings (thank goodness I don't still have Google ads) and without Q or Moneypenny. It might be closer to the Fleming original, but how many of us have actually read any of Fleming's books? I know I haven't, but I have seen several previous Bond films, and that's what I want Bond to be like: indeed, I'll go further, and say that my favourite 007 is Roger Moore, by far the 'campest' (and, by the by, the first genuine Englishman before Daniel Craig - Connery (Scottish), Brosnan (Irish), Dalton (Welsh) and Lazenby (Australian) were the other Bonds). Why Moore? It's my belief that James Bond has to be washed down with a very generous amount of humour, otherwise he is totally unlikeable and barely worth watching. Wipe away the jokishness, and you're left with a risk-taking egotist who is desperately chauvinistic, and who worries little about killing as many people as it takes to keep himself alive. The wit of Roger Moore (and, to a lesser extent, Sean Connery) kept the franchise on a level where we didn't have moral ambiguities, and didn't worry about the risible unlikelihood that a dozen trained killers would all shoot wide from two yards away. It was Bond, it wasn't real or realistic - indeed, it was all a big joke, really. Almost a satire (although, when push came to shove, he could always mix it with the tough guys. Like (the, in my opinion, overr-rated) Captain Jack Sparrow, he is far more dangerous than he choses to appear). There have been attempts to revamp the franchise previously - Timothy Dalton's Bond was grittier, according to Wikipedia, and Brosnan, despite an admirable supply of one-liners, underwent his fair share of unpleasantness. Now Craig has come along with a tortured character, a broken heart and a troubled conscience - so is he Bond? I guess I'll find out on Thursday, but I think it's unlikely: I expect Craig to play the same kind of bloke I could find on any number of TV programmes, rather than the secret agent I really want to see. Perhaps Casino Royale is just a little too embarrassed by what came before. In other news, I went to Becky, Ruth & Hazel's joint birthday party last night, and it was good fun - the theme was wearing red, so I borrowed Dangerous Iain's McLenin's T-Shirt, which was red in two sense. Think about it. Anyways, I'm co-leading a service on Sunday evening, and still have a fair way to go to prepare it, so I'm going to have to leave you. But before I go, here's that picture I promised you:
November 20th 2006
The Monty service at church last night went pretty well, methinks. Got compared to Angus Deayton, but probably only because I was wearing my Angus T-Shirt throughout (and my woolly hat, since I've yet to wash my hair. On doctor's orders, rather than general slobbishness - after all, I cleaned the top of the oven today). I'm afraid I'm going to take up a chunk of space doing one of them quiz-type thingies, this one poached from Simon's blog (you will have to sign in to get there), and (sadly) about facebook. Well, it kicks off with listing the last 21 people to post on your 'wall' - thankfully I had a birthday not long ago, so I managed to get 21 different people on there - and then answering hilarious questions about them. Here goes:
1. Phil Penn
2. Lorna Shaddick
3. James Rowlinson
4. Tim Jones
5. Caroline Higenbottam
6. Julia Nobes
7. Roz Warden
8. Chez McDonald
9. Charlie Gwilliam
10. James Lee
11. Peter Whitfield
12. Layo Obembe
13. Stephen Carey
14. Claire Morris
15. Dom Orchard
16. Pete Alcock
17. Jason Young
18. Simon Thomas
19. Larry Norman
20. Tom Palmer
21. Andy Prichard
How did you meet 10?
I met the lovely Jimmy Lee at CU Houseparty in the first year, sharing a room with him (among others).
What would you do if you had never met 6?
I'd still be looking for someone to tell that their name is also the title of a song about John Lennon's dead mother.
What would you do if 20 and 15 dated?
Wonder how they met and when they both became gay.
Have you ever seen 4 cry?
Mathematicians don't cry. We're hardcore.
Would 4 and 12 make a good couple?
Probably not, to be honest. But they can dream.
Would number 14 and 16 make a good couple?
Listen, I don't really know what makes a good couple. But Pete's a Villa fan, so he's gonna struggle anywhere.
She's slightly broken right now. Done her leg in.
Do you like 17?
I certainly do, even after I've abandoned the 10.25 group we used to share.
Do you think 18 is attractive:
Almost. He looks quite similar to a slamming hotty (told you people use that phrase, Ant).
Tell me something about 11:
I was Action Grouping with him on Friday, when two people prayed 'the prayer' (ie to become Christians). Please pray for them both.
What's 7's favorite colour?:
No idea. I'm gonna say blue.
What would you do if 1 just confessed they liked you?
Phil does like me. He came to my birthday party.
When was the last time you talked to number 19?:
Ooh, Larry. That would have been at Becky, Hazel & Ruth's joint birthday party on Saturday night.
What language does 13 speak?:
Northern. He's from Middlesborough.
Who is 2 going out with?
Simon made a good point about ending with a preposition in his answers. He also had Lorna for this question, but he knows more than I do... apparently Jonathan. Or Merton boy. I'm confused.
What year is 16 in?
Same age as me, so must be in third year.
What is 5's favourite music?
Caroline... well, I know she plays the cello, so maybe that. But it's unlikely. I'd put her down as a Beautiful South fan, at a guess.
Would you ever date 13?
My parents would kill me if I dated a Northerner. Particularly a male one.
Would you ever date 12?
Didn't I pair her up with Tim a few questions ago? I could never do that to Tim.
Where does 18 live?
My house. And on facebook.
What is the best thing about 4?
He's a mathematician, he's in the second best 10.25 group at Warwick Uni... he's a funny chap too, although he wouldn't admit it.
What would you like to tell 3 right now?
Since I'm currently talking to him on MSN, I don't really have to yearn, I can just go ahead and type it.
How did you meet 9?:
She was in my house at school.
What is the best thing about 7?
That her favourite colour is blue. Or, more recently, that she bothered to wish me a happy birthday - nice touch!
How come there are no questions about 21?
He's busy filming.
November 22nd 2006
I haven't forgotten about writing on the subject of maths, but I'm not going to get round to it now. Sorry. Although, speaking of such matters, I went to the brilliantly titled 'LoveActuary' tonight, which wasn't particularly illuminating, but certainly didn't put me off. In other news, I've made an absolutely fantastic background for my laptop, a patchwork of (almost) all the previous backgrounds of which I still have pictures. Since I know you'll want to make it your desktop background too, here's the full-size version for you to use. Just open it, right-click, and select 'Set As Desktop Background'. I make no apology for the fact that Kirsten Dunst features in at least six pictures. In facebook news, I'm sad to see that more and more people are cracking and joining - latest up are Becky Gillies & Amy Surbatovich (who have something very special in common), and it's devastating. At least Becky joined the group for people born on November 7th. Amy hasn't.
November 27th 2006
Is it really the 27th already? My. There are now three things I want to write about soon - maths (still), the new Bond film (again) and the latest Beatles album. But for now, I'm only going to whinge about freeview - for my birthday, Dave & Chris got me a freeview box, which worked for about 20mins before packing in. So they replaced it, and the new one only picked up 6 channels, 13 fewer than the first (supposedly identical) model. So Ant got the money back, and yesterday I bought another one, �29.99, down from �39.99. And it hasn't picked up a single channel. OK, I haven't plugged the aerial from the box to the TV, but it shouldn't be necessary - if it actually makes a difference, I'll be very happy, but also very surprised. Basically, it's three boxes, none of which work. I'm annoyed, and I'm wondering how on earth the digital switchover is going to go if this keeps happening. Anyhow, I'll buy another aerial thing tomorrow, and see if that works. If not, I may have to employ Ant's superb refund-getting skills again, and get back on the horse. After all, what are the odds of four in a row not working properly? In other news, Ant helped out on Dangerously Articulate last Saturday, when we were in rubbishy Studio 2 again, and my mike didn't work a lot of the time. But the music was of a good standard - the tracks I chose were Bryan Adams - Summer of '69, Bob Dylan - Knockin' On Heaven's Door, Beatles - Drive My Car/The Word/What You're Doing (from the new album), Various - Perfect Day and Cranberries - Dreams. I think that was it... next week we'll be (probably) playing just female vocalists. It'll be wild!
To update you on all things freeview, I bought an aerial lead (for the princely sum of �1 from Wilkos) and now everything's working to perfection! A happy ending indeed.
November 28th 2006
A chance now to write about some of those things I mentioned yesterday. First off, the new Beatles album - 'Love'. I'm a massive Beatles fan, as long term readers will have ascertained, but I'm not one of the so-called 'purists' who believe the music shouldn't be messed around with, so I was very happy to hear guitar solos from one track, drums from another and vocals from another all mashed together. In fact, I very much wish they'd done more of it: too many of the tracks are almost identical throughout to their original (and, yes, proper) versions. So my favourite moments are the few tracks, and the in-between bits, where [the legend that is] George Martin, and his son, really go crazy. Having said that, I think the album is actually a very good introduction to Beatles music for newcomers; more so than even the 1 album, which, though fantastic, doesn't give a full impression of the Beatles' work. In further music news, I bought American IV - The Man Comes Around by Johnny Cash the other week (from Fopp, no less), largely for the song 'Hurt'. This is a cover of a Nine Inch Nails track (whoever they are), but Cash really made it his own - it's a very moving track, especially with the video; indeed, it's a paean to old age, to looking back on your life and realising that you're not going anywhere any more; it's done. Cash sings "What have I become, my sweetest friend?" and you know it's not a lament: he's become a man who knows and loves God, and who is married to a wife whom he loves and who loves him. What more can you ask for? "You could have it all, my empire of dirt" - it's basically a track that looks back on his career (as shown in the video, in fact) with the realisation that none of that matters in comparison. Not long after this single, Johnny's wife died, and he didn't outlive her long. Musically, I think 'Hurt' is better than anything on my other Johnny Cash album, a best-of, including popular favourites like Ring of Fire and Walk the Line - if you'd been listening to the show a few weeks ago, you'd have heard it too. Anyways, let me talk a little bit about the latest Bond film (beware, there will be spoilers below). A few days ago I wrote here that I expected to be disappointed, since they'd taken a change of direction, and I worried that the hero would hardly be Bond at all, just a spy with the same name. But I was very pleasantly surprised, since the film managed to be a Bond film, but in a totally different way to what has come before. It didn't have the unambiguous wit that made Roger Moore such a great Bond, but it did include some humour (although one feels that Richard Branson's cameo was arranged before the script was completed, since it's at odds with the tone of the film) and they'd wisely decided not to overdo Bond's grittiness too much. What set the film apart was the fact that I actually left the cinema thinking about Bond's character, about the plotline, and about future plotlines - it was called Casino Royale, but it could equally have been titled James Bond: Misogynist Explained. He falls in love; he is betrayed, and thus begins (or reawakens) his contemptuous refusal to take women seriously, his inability to commit beyond the length of a single film to any girl, his treatment of all females (except M) as sex objects devoid of feeling. Bond has fallen in love before (in On Her Majesty's Secret Service) but, having never seen much of it, I cannot comment: here, the love was palpable, and even led him to quit the secret service, until it transpired that his girl had double-crossed him (it turned out that she'd only done so because she was being blackmailed, and it was certainly suggested that she loved him still). If one thinks about it, it is a devastatingly sad film, if taken as a prequel to the rest - fortunately, however, it is a 'reboot', so the charming yet risible behaviour of Bonds like Connery and Moore cannot be connected to the 3-dimensional Craig, and so the film is not quite so sad. I'm very interested, though, to see where the film-makers are going to go with the next film: is Craig's Bond going to become exactly like the rest (and you have to assume he's going to take on some of the characteristics), or is he going to differ? We shall see. In other news (that was lengthy, wasn't it?) I went to Mike Spencer's M-Party at the weekend, at which we had to dress as something beginning with M. My favourite was a lass who went as Mr. Messy, draping herself in pink wool (or something similar) and putting a face on her T-Shirt underneath. I decided to go as Malvolio (yellow football socks, cross-gartered by means of string) which was lost on almost everyone. Uncultured bunch, most of them - some didn't even get Drew's Marty McFly, despite heavy clues. For shame.
November 30th 2006
I write this less than half an hour before December begins. This, I'm afraid, holds little excitement for me, not least because the first thing advent will bring me is a big bunch of lectures. Anyways, when I woke this morning I was greeted by a strange sight - a lot of biscuits outside my door (and I mean a lot) with a card and a note from Rob wishing me a happy birthday. This was slightly confusing, since he's in France (and his previous attempt to break into my room was a complete failure), but I eventually got to the bottom of it, by asking Ant. Twice. I won't bore you with the ins and outs, but I will eat the biscuits. Cheers, Rob! Looking forward to seeing you in the new year.