Thursday, June 28, 2007

Wii (or Wi-i) strain

Irony Boy has availed himself of the latest console from Nintendo, so yesterday while we were waiting for the womenfolk to turn up at his house, we played a bit of virtual golf and baseball. Today I have a slight strain in my right elbow when I straighten it. A definite case of Wii Strain.

On a different, but related note, Abz tells me that up in Geordieland people call the Wii the 'wye-eye'. How fantastic is that?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Courting controversy

Do you ever think the people who seem to get on the news do so because they're the most controversial? I’ve noticed it seems the media can’t give enough publicity to gay-hating fundamentalists Christian Voice, who are regularly invited to spout their opinions on anything. I suppose it makes the news more interesting than talking to normal people who have a sane view on life.

To that end, I thought I’d make some controversial statements on here and see which ones provoke responses. I don’t necessarily believe all this, but it’ll be fun to see what makes people bite…

Controversial statement number 1:
Most women who reckon they ‘hate’ men do so because secretly they wish they were men.

Controversial statement number 2:
It doesn’t matter whether you’ve ‘prayed the prayer’ or not – at the end of your life you’ll be judged more on what you’ve done than what you’ve said.

Controversial statement number 3:
Men who tell sexist jokes are more likely to have very small penises.

Controversial statement number 4:
Men who drive Subaru Imprezas are, without exception, complete tossers.
(OK, you’ve got me, I do definitely believe this one)

Controversial statement number 5:
The reason so many religious people are obsessed with sexual deviancy is because they’re repressed sexual deviants.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Burton on Burton

Back when Planet of the Apes came out in 2001, a great number of people left the cinema saying "What happened at the end? Did you get it?"

Reading Burton on Burton, a collection of interviews Tim Burton has done through the years, it would seem Tim Burton doesn't really know either, except he didn't want to copy the Statue of Liberty ending:
"We just went back to the overall mythology of Planet of the Apes, of the book, even the other movies. For me the whole thing has got a sort of circular structure to it, it goes round on itself somehow - parallel universes, time travel, man/ape, evolution, religion. Where do we come from? Where are we going? Do we just keep re-evolving? There was a feeling of wanting to do something where it was a parallel world but it was all apes, and there was something about that I liked - I had this image of a weird twisted parallel universe. I thought about it in a big picture - even though I couldn't give a shit about sequels, but if you do something like this you think about a bigger picture of the material. So there was the idea of going back in a sort of twisting of time, and again going through this juxtaposition of human/animal, and coming back into a world where you think its normal, but something has happened."
Or you could just paraphrase it as: "Hey, I had to end the damn thing somehow..."

Geek film note: Nightmare Before Christmas afficionados might be interested to know the scarecrow designed to keep everyone away from the Ape holy site (which is actually the crashed spaceship Oberon) is modelled on the King of Halloweentown, Jack Skellington.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Aim for the hand

At the culmination of Ian's stag and Viv's hen weekend we went for a picnic to Rest Bay. It was sunny enough to colour me pink and we introduced lots of new people to the simple pleasure of throwing stones.

After experimenting with a variety of targets like Coke bottles, I set off down the beach and found a plastic pole and a 'skatch'-type beach game shaped like a hand, which we then set up as a target. And very good it was too until Tim destroyed it with a well-aimed throw.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Black Gold (film review)

Occasionally I'm asked why I'm involved with fair trade. Films like Black Gold remind me.

The contrast between the impoverished lives of the coffee growers and the fetishization of coffee in London or New York is thrown into sharp relief by the head of a coffee co-operative, Tadesse Meskela, who travels the world trying to sell his farmers' coffee. The film throws up a few other surprises as well. Did you know there's a world barista championship? Or that the area of Ethiopia Starbucks 'ethically' source their coffee from is on the brink of famine? Or that Ethiopia relies on American grain hand outs - from subsidized American farmers...?

The only problem with Black Gold as a film is the people who need to see it - the indolent, uncaring people who regularly irritate me in conversation - won't go and see it. If it's a bit tooo much to ask people to consider their fellow humans when they buy their coffee, then there's no way they'll go and see this.

But they should.

Jongudmund's rating: 9/10

Thursday, June 21, 2007


I'm happy to say I've completed my own blogging challenge - to blog ten posts in a row with one word titles. You might think I'm just being a bit dumb, but writing short copy is harder than writing long copy. And writing short titles, which either sum up or accurately preface what you're writing is even harder. It's a good writing exercise to set yourself, but I'm tired of it now.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Following on my recent post about becoming vegetarian I had an interesting back and forth in the comments with Clare. So I sent her this link to a recipe for Squirrel Melts, which kind of proves my point about the animals you eat being a rather arbitrary choice.

Her response: "That is VILE!" (Hence the title of this post)

And if you do go get the recipe for Squirrel Melts, note the part where she adds the pecans, because "you know how squirrels love nuts".

Yes, when they're ALIVE.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


You know morale is bad when you have a conversation that runs something like this:

Team member 1: "Well it would be nice to be kept in the loop..."
Team member 2: "Instead of loop, think 'death spiral'."
Team member 3: "A noose is a loop."


My brother has succumbed to the lure of blogging, and, perhaps rightly, he blames me for it.

I have no doubt he'll make a splash, but will he sink or will he swim?


A pithy phrase Matt coined today:

"We're cow-tipping sacred cows..."

Monday, June 18, 2007


Went out last night after building furniture and shunting boxes round at Dr Nicholl's behest to Nandos, only to be greeted by a sign that said: 'No bean patties today'. So I had to have a veggieburger instead, which wasn't too bad actually.

Now you might be asking 'Why didn't you just have the piri piri chicken and be done with it?' And I guess that's the thing. Since coming back from the States, I've harboured a secret. I've become a vegetarian.

There were plenty of reasons to do it. The farming industry is notoriously cheap and animals are mistreated badly. And I actually quite like animals. Sheep and cows not so much, but pigs are cute. Maybe I like grunty, snorty creatures who don't care much what anyone thinks because they remind me of me. Is it hypocritical to think pigs are cute and feed them in petting zoos and then chow down on some bacon? And, incidentally, what is the difference between eating pigs and eating dogs? It all seems very arbitrary to me.

So, reason 1: I like animals.
Reason 2: I'm fortunate to live in a society where I have a choice in what I eat, and I believe when you're given a choice it's your moral duty to make an ethical decision. I disapprove of people who prioritise their own tastebuds over the human rights and dignity of tea-pickers (in fact, deliberately choosing not to drink fair trade tea or coffee is a good reason why some people will go to hell). So, if I have the choice, and I should make an ethical choice, surely the ethical choice is to not eat meat, on so many levels.

And then there's the third reason. As I've already said the farming industry is shabby and cheap. We'll feed animals dead animals and then watch people's brains turn to mush. We'll pump our chickens full of oestrogen and wonder why men are growing boobs. I've put on some weight, and my man-tits are getting weighty. But they've shrunk since I stopped eating chicken and turkey.

And finally, in New York we met up with Dan Piraro. He's an artist I respect and he's passionate about animal rights. We chatted a bit around the subject (he's a vegan) and much of what he said made sense, but unlike many vegetarian prosetelysers, he didn't try to put me on a guilt trip, he didn't try and disgust me by telling me jelly babies are made from horses' hooves, or that pork sausages are full of pig eyeballs, and he didn't judge me. And that convinced me you can be a vegetarian and not be a swivel-eyed loon.

Plus you have to look at the ridiculous things people say to justify eating meat:
1) Hitler was a vegetarian. No, he wasn't, unless vegetarians eat Bratwurst. But it is true he was prescribed a vegetarian diet in order to treat his chronic flatulence, presumably because his doctors wanted it to get worse...
2) The Bible says we should eat meat. Really? Who's got the theology degree here?
3) Biologically we're built to eat meat. I'm not a biologist, but I have seen proper carnivores and we don't look much like them. Sorry, at best we're omnivores. Like hedgehogs.
4) Vegetarians are weird. Well, I was weird a long time before I became a vegetarian. If you don't believe me go for a trip through my blog archives.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


As its only a few weeks until my sidekick and his intended missus get hitched, and I'm doing the talk in the service I felt I ought to go and get a haircut today.

But what I want to do is grow it to a decent length and with no other weddings/occasions looming I think this might be the first time in a few years where I can get on with the serious business of growing my hair.

But do you, discerning blog reader, think I should? Or should I go for a buzz cut and admit to the world that I'm no longer as youthful as I once was? Let me know in the comments...

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Did you know that Australian Aborigines used to use dingos as living blankets? Apparently when it was a bit parky they'd call it a "three dog night". One to remember when winter swings around.

(I could also imagine the phrase being used as a description of one of those nights clubbing when you get groped by drunken harpies. If it hasn't happened to you, then you've obviously never been to Flares.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Third Way arrived today and I’ve got a letter published in it. What I’m most chuffed about is that it’s right in the middle of the letters page with my name in big bold type. OK, I know it’s only a letter, but it’s still nice to know I can write coherently enough for an editor to choose my letter from the hundreds/thousands/tens they receive every month.

Background: Last issue they introduced Claire Fox from the Revolutionary Communist Party (relevant political mover and shaker, obviously, what with communism's implosion nearly 20 years ago) who blathered on a bit about how she became a communist and why she was anti-anti-apartheid. But the cover picture showed her striking a pose with a cigarette which irresistibly reminded me of when I was 17 and my friends joined the SWP, ANL or whatever, and smoked as a sign of their rebellion against society. I always felt smoking was a particularly stupid part of the posturing then, and I still feel that way now.

Cue my letter:

Nice to see that Claire Fox is still a rebel at heart. Why else would she strike a 'look at me, I'm so cool and rebellious I smoke!" pose on the cover of Third Way.
It's hard to respect a revolutionary communist who's also a nicotine slave, and through her addiction funds global capitalism while being the consumer at the end of a long chain of third world oppression. But then, maybe by smoking she's being anti-anti-capitalist. Or something.

I guess being sarcastic about their interview subjects is the way to go if I want to get my name in print more often!

Monday, June 11, 2007


Cadbury's Caramel - one of the nicest chocolate bars around, even if we do miss the sultry bunny rabbit who used to tell the woodland folk to 'Take it Easy'. People said the Flake adverts were sexy, but compared to Caramel...

Cadbury's Caramel Eggs, however, are far too caramelly. And, frankly, are not very nice.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Whatever doesn't kill you

I've reordered my links to list my creative writing posts. If you'd like to critique them, suggest changes, or just slate them, then, hey, kill some time (but not my enthusiasm) and leave comments.

And, who knows, one day if I'm ever a super-famous writer you can brag down the pub how you helped make me a success.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

And this is why I’m on the NSS email list

A succinct and probably fairly accurate summary of how patronising the Government is towards 'faith groups'. But imagine if it was the Pope, or another Christian leader saying this...

Newsline Editorial by Terry Sanderson 8 June 2007

Prime Minister Tony Blair this week called on the "authentic voices of Islam, in their various schools and manifestations" to speak for themselves, and to reclaim from extremists "the true essence of religious belief."

Of course, if Osama bin Laden had been on the platform he might have said exactly the same words. Because doesn't Osama think that he is speaking with the "authentic voice of Islam"? And doesn't he consider Tony Blair to be an extremist and a terrorist – indeed, a Satanic personality?

Now Mr Blair wants to tell Muslims what "true Islam" is.

"True Islam", of course, is the kind that agrees with Mr Blair's view of the world. A world where religion can be tamed and harnessed to work with and for the state. Where everyone is nice – just like the people who attended the conference he was addressing on Monday – and only do the good things that religion dictates and ignore all the incitements to war and to hatred of non-believers. He doesn't think "true religion" persecutes women or homosexuals. He doesn't think "true religion" engages in warfare or criminal activities that will further entrench its power. In Mr Blair's
"all-things-bright-and-beautiful-world" there are lovely believers and nasty believers.

His fundamental misunderstanding is that Islam is not just another of his precious "faiths". Islam is a political as well as a religious concept. In "true Islam" there is no separation between religion and state; they are one and the same thing. Conferences and inter-religious dialogues like the one on Monday that seek to bring timid, non-political Muslims to the fore are doomed to failure. The people who need to be tamed are nowhere near such good-natured events – they are, instead, sloping around in an underworld of conspiracy theories and atrocity planning.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Guardian of good taste

At work today Matt the designer complained because even though he had thousands of songs on his iTunes account, he couldn't find one he wanted to listen to. I offered to send him one, at which point he resoundly mocked my musical taste based on my liking the Scissor Sisters (as he has done before). This from a man who admits to having a Hanson album on his iTunes. When, I asked, were they ever cool?

Anyway, having shut him up with that, I sent him the song. And a couple of hours later discovered he'd posted it on his blog as "the best love song i've ever heard"*. Not only did he not credit me, but he surreptitiously posted it in work time too. Dodgy geezer. Still it makes a change for Matt to be thieving blog material off me because usually it's Lorenzo who does that.

And what was the song? Well, it's called Your Personal Penguin. It's the song of a book by cartoon genius Sandra Boynton which I bought for Cath in America, sung by Davy Jones of Monkees fame. Listen to/download it here!

*pedants like Tez be aware this is a direct quote, hence the lower case I

Badonkadonk II

After the original post about this wonderful onomatopoiec word, a work colleague (who shall remain nameless and shame free) stuck her head over my cubicle wall* and said: "That's exactly why I don't go jogging."

Chronic tendonitis in my leg aside (my lump was officially diagnosed last Tuesday), that would be a good reason for me not to go jogging either! Unless you want to see my moobs on the move.

*I don't work in a cubicle. I just have a wall.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Sometimes it sucks to be a baseball fan in Britain

San Diego's Trevor Hoffman has just become the first player to notch up 500 saves and nobody in my office knows what that even means.

We've got a new person starting soon who is apparently American. I hope they like baseball.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Lawbreaker Jon

I drove through a red light this morning.

I was in a hurry, taking a different route round the back of town because of a snarl up on St Mary Street. A truck was parked up and obscured my view of the pedestrian crossing light until the last minute so I just didn't see it was red until I was going through it. Fortunately no one was actually crossing at the time, but I felt a bit sick at the thought of what could have happened if someone had stepped out onto the crossing.

So, if there was a camera on the light I'll be getting a TS10 through the post. That's one of the benefits of working in an insurance call centre in a previous life - I know the codes for most traffic violations. I also know if you have four bald tyres on your car you can be charged with four 3-point offences, and when you hit 12 points they take your licence away. Scary, huh?

(I don't know if I ever 'fessed up to Mum and Dad about this, but just after I passed my test I was driving their old Astra and had to stop at a red light on a big roundabout. I had a good look round and then drove through it because it was really late at night and there was nothing coming. Looking back, I can't believe I ever did that.)


According to the Copywriter's Compendium I've borrowed from work, this refers to the sound a large woman makes when she sits down (and as such is a derogatory term). I've been thinking though, that it would probably be better used to describe a mammiferous* woman running.

"Whoah, there, Badonkadonk. What are you running for?"

*according to the Superior Person's Book of Words 'mammiferous' means 'large-breasted'.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Shadow Queens

Keep an eye out on your envelopes because the post office are celebrating 40 years of the 'Queen's Head stamps' (Machin definitives to stamp nerds like myself), and part of the postmark is a silhouette of the Queen's head design.

So what you might get through your letterbox tomorrow morning is a Queen's Head stamp with a ghostly shadow Queen's head printed over the top of it.

Well, I think it's cool.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Bye bye Ryan

Ryan Giggs' retirement probably added about 5,000 or so to the gate, but there were some large echoey spaces in the Millennium Stadium for the 0-0 draw with the Czech Republic. Of course Rowena jinxed it by saying she hoped it wouldn't be a 0-0 draw. I'm not overly superstitious, but you know when someone says something like that, what the result is bound to be...

The game itself summed up Ryan's international career. There were moments of brilliance (Bellamy's free kick hit the bar) and frustration (as yet another short corner didn't work). Wales might have grabbed some glory, but they didn't, and so this match became another one of those 'could have been' moments that Wales excel in. And for Ryan, a standing ovation from both sets of fans probably won't help him shake the feeling that his international career was one long 'could have been'.

And I reckon Wembley one weekend and the Millennium Stadium the next is spoiling me in time for the New Meadow's official opening.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Stuff which drives me nuts

In no particular order…

  • dining out with indecisive people who can’t pick a dish off a menu
  • pfaffers who take an eternity to do anything
  • people who have piles of junk in every room of the house
  • the piles of my junk in every room of my house
  • spiritualised church jargon
  • arms sales subsidies
  • time-wasting complaints letters
  • coned off sections of motorways that don’t seem to be coned off for a reason
  • rude boys in done up cars
  • computer screenfreeze
  • the belligerent guy in my street who gets antsy about “his” parking space
  • spam
  • people ruining a joke by getting the punchline all wrong
  • The Da Vinci Code
  • being expected to join in with office discussions of reality TV shows
  • adverts which have nothing good to say about the product so claim the opposite sex will suddenly find you desirable for no good reason
  • American Christian bigots
  • British Christian bigots
  • people who say, “I’m not racist, but…”
  • easily offended imbeciles
  • The Daily Mail’s annual rants about how they’re banning Christmas
  • stupid people who could be smarter if they wanted to be
  • you can’t draw a cartoon about Mohammed, but you can hold up placards calling for infidels to be beheaded
  • when you’re asked for your opinion and then told why you’re wrong
  • pointless makework
  • it’s always sunny until I leave the office or a bank holiday comes along
  • left-wing feminists sticking up for Muslim cultures which force women to wear burkhas
  • ‘pass this on to ten friends to have good luck’ emails with some puke-worthy twee moral message about telling people how much you love them
  • vegetarians who still eat chicken and fish – “You’re not vegetarians!”
  • telemarketers asking for Mr Williams, who hasn’t been available on our phone number for seven years!
  • God’s silence