Monday, April 30, 2007

You know how far you've fallen when playing Shrewsbury is a possibility

Shrewsbury Town have an excellent chance of making it into the Coca-Cola League 2 play-offs. By my reckoning they need one more point from their final league game at Gay Meadow to make it. Then who knows, it could be a win at Wembley for the first time ever and promotion.

Meanwhile Leeds United are all-but-mathematically relegated from the Coca-Cola Championship. Unless they win their last game 9-0 and Hull lose, they'll be playing in Coca-Cola League 1, which, confusingly, is the third tier of English football and will be the lowest they've ever played at. And if Town do get to Wembley and win, then Leeds will be visiting the New Meadow next season.

I casually pointed this out to a Leeds fan at work who was already feeling pretty miserable about the relegation. "That's great!" he said. "Six years ago we were playing Barcelona and now we'll be playing Shrewsbury. That's how bad it is."

There was a pause. "No offence, though," he added.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

“You’ve got hippos”

Cathy’s bought Zoo Puzzle for the PS2, where basically you have to match up animals into lines of three or more to make them disappear. Think Tetris with fauna and you’ll be there. It's also blummin' addictive.

Playing it in company inevitably results in people trying to help by telling you which animals you can line up next. Hence: "You’ve got hippos!" which sounds like a particularly awkward kind of ailment.

"Sorry, I can’t come in to work today. I’ve got a bad case of the hippos."

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Action Force

Ah, the 1980s. A more innocent place for kids. The idea of that one day they might do Star Wars prequels was a source of hope rather than despair. When someone gave you 50p to spend, it was a big deal, mainly because it was a huge coin. And toys weren’t aggressively marketed by tie-in TV shows, at least until He-Man came along.

Action Force was probably the last great populist British toy line (since then we’ve been importing American and Japanese fads). It gave Star Wars figures a good run for their money, despite being made by the same company initially, Palitoy. A scaled down version of Action Man, my blue helicopter pilot figure from the first series is the first toy I remember buying when we came back from Africa.

The second wave of figures was split into the four components of the Action Force, and faced off against evil terrorist mastermind Baron Ironblood, now referred to in our house as ‘Bucket head’. Together with his Red Shadows, Muton robots, and later Kraken reptile beasts, this megalomaniac threatened to take over the whole world. Fortunately the might of Action Force, an international force of military experts who were bizarrely exclusively white, stood in his way, thwarting his evil plans.
Why the nostalgia? A few years ago I was well into collecting AF, but I hadn’t bought any for a while. Until today when, visiting a relocated retro toy store in the city centre, I found some carded figures, including three Q Force (the naval elite of Action Force) figures that I only possessed as loose figures before. So, it looks like I’m still a collector.

The slightly blurred photos don’t do them justice. For toy nerds, the Sea Skimmer figure was only released in the third wave of British figures, before the toy line got subsumed by Hasbro and marketed as the Euro version of GI Joe. All three cards have third wave backs and the mail in offer is the Skeletron. All three cards are in English and Italian, hence the Deep Sea Defender’s alter ego "Palombaro."

Friday, April 27, 2007

Light bedtime reading

This has been the working week, if not from Hell, then from somewhere nearby. Purgatory perhaps, now that the Pope has gone and abolished Limbo. To cheer me up Cathy bought me a little gift - Mark Thomas' polemic about the arms trade called As Used on the Famous Nelson Mandela.

It sounds grim, and in places it is, but I'm enjoying reading something so passionate about an important topic for a change. I'm a third of the way through, but here are a few quotes that have made me laugh so far:

"For many in Old Labour, the day Blair dies is the day that Judas will be found muttering in the depths of Hell, 'I bet he comes and sits next to me.'"

"All we had to do was smile and lie, and not just little lies either - we had to lie like estate agents."

"To the best of my knowledge not even the most cap-doffing historian has dared to describe the British Empire as an 'ethical empire', although there is bound to be one out there somewhere, just as there is bound to be a Conservative Party leader who doesn't look like a smug twat, if only we could be bothered to look."

There's lots more, but you should really go and buy your own copy.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Keep it short and snappy

I've seen a number of films on DVD, on planes etc recently, so thought I'd update the film review section on here with a quick run down. If you don't like to know the ending, look away now.

Superman Returns
Lame attempt to revive the franchise, despite the presence of Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor. A few of the baddies die in the end, although I was so bored I couldn't care less by then.

The Prestige
Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman are rival stage magicians. They both die in the end.

The Departed
Oscar liked this film. I thought it was OK, if a bit bleak. Everybody dies in the end.

The Good Shepherd
Matt Damon sets up the CIA and then has to decide what to do to protect his son, who's also joined the agency. He ends up arranging for his son's Russian spy wife to be killed. Or something. To be honest this was bleaker than The Departed. At least that had Jack Nicholson in it.

Bit of an oldie, but pretty good. John Travolta is an everyman who sees a UFO, except it turns out to be a brain tumour. He then takes a long time to die.

Casino Royale
Gives the Bond franchise a shot in the arm. Bond plays cards a lot, and both his love interests die. At the end he shoots a man as a conversation starter.

Ocean's Twelve
Convoluted heist thriller sequel that's also a convoluted heist thriller. Nobody dies, but you wish they would.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Quality time with my spouse

A week after arriving back from New York, Cath and I went to a stamp fair where I tried to fill in some of the gaps in my Statue of Liberty collection. I found both stamps I was looking for, a large stamp sheet that included Lady Liberty on a stamp and on the sheet itself and several commemorative covers etc.

And I also found a tenner that someone had carelessly dropped, so that effectively paid for the stuff I bought. Woo hoo.

Friday, April 20, 2007

I knew this was coming

A new project looms...

Three months ago in a meeting
"What are we going to have to in media?"
"Oh nothing, nothing, the publishers are handling that..."

Three months ago in a different meeting
"Should we put something in the magazine?"
"No, it's too soon..."

This afternoon
"The big boss has decreed that we have a week to come up with a campaign and write/design something to slot into the magazine before it mails on Monday 30th." No pressure then.

I tell you, there's nothing like good, strategic planning from the very top (and this is nothing like...)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Job description

The line that says: "and any other duties in keeping with the role." Today that meant registering/programming my boss's new mobile phone. At least he didn't lose this one on a canoeing trip, unlike his last one...

Once I made sure it was working I took a picture of myself with the camera phone and set it as his wallpaper, as a "reminder of your favourite employee."

Monday, April 16, 2007

Get happy, but don't OD

Perhaps ironically (I started back to work today), I followed the link to this game from Late Edition. You've got to play it, if only to see what happens if you have too much of a good thing.

Happy Pill

Sunday, April 15, 2007

My candy is safe

After flying halfway round the world how on earth did KLM manage to lose my case full of candy and cereal at Amsterdam airport? We were there for five hours waiting for our connecting flight to Cardiff. Still at least it was delivered safely today, so I'm reunited with my Hot Tamales and Froot Loops. Hurrah.

Now it's just a case of waiting for the jet lag to hit me in time for a return to work tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Mets 2 Phillies 5

When you're a visitor with a one off chance of seeing a top flight sporting occasion, you want something memorable. Like when we went to see Newcastle United and the Toon had three men sent off - two of them for fighting each other.

Going to see the Mets was one of the things I was most excited about before we went, but I desperately wanted it to be memorable, and it was, but for the wrong reasons.

On a freezing cold night at Shea Stadium we saw a Mets pitcher melt down in front of us. With two out in the third inning he inexplicably walked four players, effectively giving the opponents two runs. [NB - if a pitcher throws four pitches outside the strike zone the batter gets to walk to first base. The guy at first moves on to second and so on. So you can walk in a run if the bases are loaded and the better doesn't swing at the fourth wayward pitch.]

Then with the bases still loaded, the pitcher proceeded to hit the next batter with a pitch, automatically walking him to first, and with everyone moving up a base, scoring the Phillies a third.

It was one of those rare occasions that will probably get dragged up again and again, like the triple sending off, and we were there to see it. Unfortunately there was no way back for the Mets and by the end of the ninth we were so cold we just wanted the game to end.

Still it was great to go and see a game at Shea, especially as the stadium is going to be pulled down soon and the Mets will move to a brand new stadium next door.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Back to NYC

Pre-clearance at Hamilton airport (no band playing as you leave more's the pity) meant we hardly had to queue when we landed in the USA. That felt right somehow.

I'm not sure I'd ever up sticks and move, but I could imagine myself living in America. For one thing the Americans I've met over here seem much nicer than some of the ones I've met in the UK. I think it's a ploy - they export the obnoxious ones to put us off wanting to go!

Monday, April 09, 2007

"The White Whale! The White Whale!"

I finally plucked up the courage to go into the sea today, at a secluded beach called Jobson's Cove. Fortunately I have no photos to inflict upon the world, but let's just say it would take many hours of tanning and working out to turn my pasty torso into a buff beach hunk.

After I got too cold I sat on the beach and fed potato sticks to some remarkably tame sandpipers, much to Abby's chagrin as the posh birds she was keeping an eye out for were nowhere to be seen. But I was happy with my shoreline equivalent of pigeons.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Hell for the company

As the saying goes: Heaven for the weather, hell for the company. Well, we've got the company, but the weather decided to go a bit British today. In fairness it's been threatening all week. Monday was supposed to be a downpour, but instead it was mirror-calm and clear skies when we went out fishing. Then Tuesday was supposed to be awful, but it wasn't. Then Wednesday...

Eventually the negative forecast was right. And perhaps it's a good thing too, because it hasn't rained properly here for a month and the water tank is getting a little low. To cap it all I've developed a full-on runny nose, which I suspect I caught off lurgy Ab who's been struggling with a cold since we left NYC.

Even so we took a trip into Hamilton, where most places were closed it being Good Friday, and had lunch at the Hog Penny. I had a chicken bhuna to try and evict the sniffles and, combined with some cold medicine and a nap, now feel a good deal better, four hours later.

I remember back in the 80s when we went to Florida, we had loads of warm Florida rain and kept getting told how it was the "most rain they'd ever had". When we first arrived here we kept getting told how they "never" had overcast, cloudy days, like the ones we've had this past week or so.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Strolling to a win

With TV over here in Bermuda featuring a number of American channels I'm getting to watch some baseball too.

Last night the White Sox beat the Indians in the 9th inning when the batter got hit by a pitch earning an automatic walk to first base. As the bases were loaded, that meant everyone shunted up a base, including the guy at third who walked ito home plate, scored a run and so won the game. Talk about strolling to a win.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

King of the Onions

Bermuda is famous for its 'Bermuda Onions', which are a bit like spring onions. So there are many onion themed things eg: Onion Jack's Trading Post; The Frog and Onion pub etc. At the botanical gardens they have some onion-shaped chairs which are a bit like thrones. So here's a picture of me as King of the Onions!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Birthday in Bermuda

Thanks for the birthday well wishes from my birthday well wishers (and ya boo! to you if you're not a well wisher...) How did I spend my 31st birthday? Well, I went out on the boat fishing and then we ate lunch in a sheltered lagoon before coming back home.
Me and a fish

it looked bigger than this in real life (and was kind of spiky too)
Cath caught a few more than me - this was one of her bountiful catch