Saturday, March 31, 2007

In trouble with the law again...

After our brush with the NYPD and "the Snapple incident", we visited St Georges in Bermuda and ended up in the stocks...

(My crime was obviously having a very bad windswept parting!)

Friday, March 30, 2007

You're not supposed to steal the stalactites...

Cathy breaks the rules again... this time at the Crystal Caves.

No - just kidding, this was just a sample bit they had lying around to prove that the stalactites were really rocks...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

...and all that jazz...

Ever got off a plane and been greeted in the arrivals lounge by a band playing some kind of funk reggae welcoming song? Now, after landing in Bermuda, I can say that I have.

For lunch I had battered fish in a fried bread sandwich. Seriously.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A busy Tuesday

We met one of our cartooning heroes - Dan Piraro, creator of Bizarro. He was as pleasantly weird as you'd expect a cartoonist to be, and graciously gave us an hour and a half of his time at the Atlas cafe on 2nd Avenue. The pic is taken outside with Dan holding his scooter helmet even though (ssshhh) he claims he doesn't have a licence for it...

This was after a walk round Chinatown, Little Italy and the Jewish quarter. We capped off our day with more shopping and in the evening I pigged out on a Froot Loops marshamallow confection. Those who know my passion for Froot Loops won't be surprised to hear that I forced myself to eat it all! (I have got a photo but it's on Cath's camera and it's too late for me to work out how to get stuff off that onto here.)

Monday, March 26, 2007

Into the holiday proper

Dear all back at the office... missing me yet?

Can't say I'm missing work. Not after the excitement yesterday of visiting Central Park, the zoo, Grand Central Station, California Pizza Kitchen, World of Disney, and the Empire State Building. But today is the first work day I'm off, so it calls for something special.

How about a trip to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island? Yeah, that'll do...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The "Snapple" incident

"Snapple" is a delicious fruit drink. It is also apparently a dangerous substance when you're trying to enter the Empire State Building. Going through security the terrified shouts of "Bottle! Bottle! It's a Snapple!" resulted in a standoff between security and us.

Later, having viewed the night-time cityscape safely in a Snapple-free zone we were able to reclaim our potentially lethal bottle of still orangeade, although Cath was asked if she could pick it out of a line up.

That's how criminal it is to drink Snapple in the tallest building in New York.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

An hour in NYC and we're talking to the NYPD

Here's a rule I always stick to - never, ever say how well your journey is going until you get there.

Unfortunately we are travelling with someone who doesn't obey the rule. After a hassle free entry into the good old US of A, with a very friendly immigration officer who had a wonderfully authentic New York accent, and picking up a cab easily, we made very good time into Manhattan itself, heading towards our hotel.

"Blimey, we're making good time..." remarks Ab, at which point me and Cath both say "Nooooooo, aw, you've jinxed it now." Then at the next intersection a crazy ass cyclist decided the best thing to do with his time (and ours) was to cut up our cab and get himself knocked off. Four police officers, a fire truck with a complete crew, and an ambulance all turned up, even though the guy was OK (although he developed a suspicious limp and stopped demanding money from the cabbie when the cops turned up). "You guys alright to wait?" asks Mr New York Cop, then came the questions. "First time in New York?" "First time you've ever been in a cab that's run over a cyclist?" etc. etc.

We got on our way eventually, after sitting there like lemons for about 45 minutes. Ironically it meant our cab ride took as long as the guide book had warned us it could take. That's the thing about jinxes. There's a level of irony at work at a deeper level in the universe. As we sat there waiting for the cops to let us continue on our way Cath remarked: "Well, at least it isn't raining."

Guess what happened next.


From Cardiff to Schippel (Skipple) airport took us not very long at all. Kudos to Irony Boy for driving us to the outskirts of Barry in the middle of the night. Talk about a sidekick being worth his weight in gold.

Schippel airport is easily one of the nicest airports to hang around the transit lounges in. We met up with Abs OK (she'd flown in from NuKassel) but then we had a typical moment. Cath was feelign rough so me and Abs went to find some lunch. Abs wanted something savoury but we ended up with waffles and ice cream from the Haagen Dazs stall. Which would be fine, except that Abs is allergic to dairy. So, just before we got on a nine hour flight to New York, her stomach starts making ominous wambles.

The joys of travelling with family...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"300" (a film review)

I went to see this with Irony Boy. I was quite excited because it got a 2 page glowing review in Time (although this review was less than complimentary). It's brilliant, despite...
...being based on a comic book version of events
...being filmed almost entirely in CGI
...featuring unknown actors (well, I didn't recognise any of them).

If the Matrix sequels and the Star Wars prequels (especially episodes 2 and 3) have put you off CGI films, then I don't blame you. But 300 shows how it should be done. Having read a novelised version of the battle of Thermopylae (Gates of Fire by Stephen Pressfield), I kind of knew what to expect, without really expecting something so beyond normal classical epics.

This is a war film as it's supposed to be. Brutal, yet beautiful. Laden with symbolism. The genetically flawless Spartans fighting for freedom against the overwhelming army of barbarians and otherworldly demonic cretaures from the deepest, darkest corners of Asia. A religious tyranny that threatens to sweep the glimmers of democracy away. And all of it shaded by the looming deaths of the heroes, as if to be a hero is to stand your ground, and having done all you can, to stand. Death, not something to be feared, but something to be chosen joyfully, as only in choosing the place and means of death can a human master it.

Is this a war retold from the depths of antiquity with no relevance to the 21st Century? Of course not - it is recast in the light of the times in which we live and is all the more powerful for that. And the message is stark - those who would avoid war for political reasons are traitors. Those who would stand when all logic and reason compels them to kneel are heroes. And it's better to die a hero then live as a slave.

I found this movie inspiring and enthralling and would recommend it to everyone, as long as you don't mind a bit of gore and some relentless fighting. But that caveat aside this is the first film in a long, long time that I have wanted to watch again straight away.

Jongudmund's rating: 10/10

Monday, March 19, 2007


This very clever post from Newsbiscuit (the doyenne of reportage that should be true...) made me laugh:
"A young man has abandoned his weblog after coming to the conclusion that no one was interested in the every day details of his life.

‘I was really excited when I started my blog’ says computer repair specialist Aaron Bagshot. ‘I felt really amazing to think that I was sharing my life and thoughts with millions of people. That all around the world people were reading the everyday details of my life. Except that they weren’t.’"
Read the rest

For those who haven't discovered the genius that is Newsbiscuit, here's five classics you ought to read...

Paperclip from Word quits Microsoft for Apple
Trident’s replacement to be provided by Ryan Air
Wasp flu reaches Britain
Tinky Winky dies following drink-induced coma
EU rule that Germany must have shorter nouns

Sunday, March 18, 2007

A parable

Not so long ago there was a happy little tribe. Well, I say happy, but there were a few problems. Decisions were made that affected the tribe, but people didn't get a say in it, and the tribespeople grumbled about the tribe's leaders.

One day a long, sinewy creature slithered into the tribe's little clearing in the jungle and promised to sort out the communication problems. He told all the tribespeople to go and sit on one side of the clearing, and the tribe's leaders to sit on the other side. He would listen to what the people said and then tell the leaders and then listen to what the leaders said and tell the people. Everyone agreed that this would help the tribe get past the grumbling.

Some months passed and the people wondered why they hadn't heard back from the creature. Also, they wondered why the tribe's leaders seemed to have heard a load of things that weren't true. When anyone asked the creature what was going on they were ignored. Then they noticed that the creature didn't have ears on the side of his diamond shaped head...

Eventually some of the tribespeople thought this was stupid and went to talk to the tribe's leaders. They found out that the creature had said a lot of things that weren't true and as a result the leaders were thinking of leaving the tribe. Of course, this had a knock on effect and pretty soon the whole tribe fell apart. Some people thought they should still trust the creature to sort things out, other people drifted off and joined other tribes (it was a big jungle and there were lots of clearings), and some stood up to the creature and asked what was going on, but the creature hissed at them and bared its fangs.

It was all quite sad, and most of the tribe couldn't really work out what had gone wrong. But they decided they couldn't go on as a tribe and so they made arrangements for all the tribe's possessions to be divided up among other nearby tribes in the jungle who could really use the help.

But just as they were about to do this, the creature came back and said he'd happily take over the tribe's possessions and keep them just in case a new tribe ever wanted to set up home in that clearing. The tribespeople were confused about what to do, because this was the first time they'd heard from the creature in ages.

But this time the tribespeople had learned their lessons. They weren't going to trust a fucking snake again.

Saturday, March 17, 2007


We've had our new sofa's a week and we've already had three different people sleep on the sofa bed (admittedly two of them were on one night).

Sometimes I think we're running a B&B. But on the other hand I did get a load of free cool stamps off my dad (including some nice additions to my Statue of Liberty collection), and I do annoy our other sleepover guest about internet related things several times a month.

So, it probably all does work out.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Quiz answers

To appease Ab who has been cursing me for putting on a quiz, and to illuminate everyone else, here are the answers to last week's music quiz.

"Lay back, head in the grass; chewing gum, having some laughs; yeah, we were having some laughs" Sterophonics: Dakota (specifically the live version off the Live from Dakota album. If you ever doubted the 'Phonics were Welsh, listen to the way they introduce this...]

"I'll die when I'm done..."
Gnarls Barkly: Crazy

"under your skin feels like home; electric touch on aching bone"
Snow Patrol: You're All I Have

"still care about your hair and the car you drive; doesn't matter if you're sixteen or thirty-five"
demigods of rock Bowling for Soup: High School Never Ends

"ambition got cast aside; thrown away when the batteries died"
more Welshies with The Automatic: Raoul

"don't stop and don't look back, uh huh; 'cos your love's like a heart attack, c'mon"
Supergrass: Kiss of Life

"I never really gave up on breaking out of this 2 star town"
Killers: single of the moment, Read My Mind

"I'm sick of working all week for people I cannot stand"
Even more Welshies, Lost Prophets: Everybody's Screaming!!! (possibly the only song with three exclamation marks in the title?)

"there's no profit in ever being right, we gotta fight some more"
Ocean Colour Scene: Profit in Peace

"kill all the fags who don't agree"
Green Day: Holiday, from the awesome American Idiot album

"dance if you wanna dance; please, brother, take a chance"
Oasis: The Masterplan

Monday, March 12, 2007

Baseball’s back, baby

With the new season getting nearer and, more importantly, our trip to the Big Apple almost happening, guess how excited I was to print out tickets to see the Mets play the Phillies. That’s right. We’re going to "Meet the Mets, whoah".

OK, it’s not the Padres, who will always remain the first team of preference for me, but hey, it’s the Mets at Shea Stadium. And at what works out at about £45 for three of us in decent seats, the price comparison with going to a football match (even at a lowly league 2 club) makes a night out in New York seem amazingly cheap.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Global warming - the evidence

Driving into work this morning under the M4 bridge and I spotted a giant truck heading west with the words Bristol Fruit Company emblazoned on the side, along with a giant picture of a bunch of bananas.

Since when have bananas grown in Bristol?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Music quiz

OK, then. This is my favourite 11 song playlist at the mo. Can you guess any of the songs from these lyrical snippets?

"Lay back, head in the grass; chewing gum, having some laughs; yeah, we were having some laughs"

"I'll die when I'm done..."

"under your skin feels like home; electric touch on aching bone"

"still care about your hair and the car you drive; doesn't matter if you're sixteen or thirty-five"

"ambition got cast aside; thrown away when the batteries died"

"don't stop and don't look back, uh huh; 'cos your love's like a heart attack, c'mon"

"I never really gave up on breaking out of this 2 star town"

"I'm sick of working all week for people I cannot stand"

"there's no profit in ever being right, we gotta fight some more"

"kill all the fags who don't agree" [NB this is sung ironically; I don't listen to hate crime metal]

"dance if you wanna dance; please, brother, take a chance"

Answers next week

Friday, March 02, 2007

Sometimes the poetry of a song lyric strikes me as profound

"the stars were blazing like rebel diamonds, cut out from the sun"

-Read My Mind
(The Killers)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

What do they say at Nasa?

My stress levels are through the roof at the moment. Not only am I doing someone else's job in addition to my own, but I'm supposed to be writing the magazine, which is probably the toughest area of my job.

One thing that adds to my stress levels is being dicked around because of other people's incompetence - like the other day when I set up an interview for someone after checking his online diary and with him in person, only to be told the next day by his PA that said interviewee was off that day after all. Grrr.

When people are obviously being a bit useless at some simple task, my favourite unsympathetic phrase is "Come on, it's not rocket science!" Which makes me wonder, what do they say at Nasa when someone is being a bit useless?

Does the head boffin gather his white-coated scientist minions around him and spell out how simple the mission really is... "Now, come on guys, we're looking at an orbital launch, followed by a slingshot round Mars, and the probe does a close up fly by of Jupiter. It's really not that hard. It's only rocket science!"