Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Okay, so I've been staying in Woodhall Spa, which is a village in South Lincolnshire. The closest city is Lincoln. Boston's not too far away, and Horncastle and Coningsby are nearby too. GEOGRAPHY OVER.

Anyway, this week I forgot to bring any socks with me. Socks provide an important barrier between my delicate yet manly feet, and the harsh, brown leather shoes I like to rock.

Where the fuck are you supposed to get men's socks after 6PM? I'm not really that much in the middle of nowhere. There's a pretty big Tesco in Horncastle, but no men's socks there. There are medium-sized supermarkets in Woodhall Spa and Coningsby. I spent almost an hour driving about in a futile attempt to clothe my toes. No avail.

HOWEVER, every single one of these places had a fairly good selection of tights and women's socks. Tights aside, Tesco had at least 6 different sets of women's socks to select from, but not a mansock in sight. Fucking bizarre.

Long, not particularly interesting story short, today I am wearing women's socks. It's not that big a deal, really. They're not entirely dissimilar to men's socks. It doesn't make me any less of a man. Definitely. Probably more of a man, if anything.

At least I didn't forget my boxers.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Woodhall Spa Ramblings

Can't sleep. Shouldn't really be trying to, it's 11.30 for fucks sake.

Stuck in a hotel in Woodhall Spa, the Golf Hotel to be precise. It's very nice. I'm not really stuck, I suppose. Working in Coningsby for the next/previous few months, so this place is my home on weekdays now.

I'm directly above the bar right now, which means that I have a decent wi-fi connection, but I can also hear everyone getting pissed downstairs. Fucksake.

The Polish girl behind the bar seems to be here all the time. Vacuuming at 7AM while everyone eats breakfast, pulling pints at 10PM... and I'm giving myself a pat on the back for doing 50 hour weeks.

I don't think these hard-working Polarks are sending their pennies to loved-ones back in the mother country. There has to be something more sinister going on. I mean, why else would people be upset at all the forrins? Why else would Noble Nick Griffin be all padlocking up them plumbers doors, yeah?

Well If we look at the growth of the Polish economy in the past five years, it's pretty exponential. Their GDP is now the 2nd biggest in Europe after Germany, and I've read reports that military spending accounts for 14% of that (The UK percentage is at 2.5).

Scientists have also recently isolated the "Polish" gene, too. It creates a strong desire to support the Polish Republic in times of need, along with a taste for sausages. Approximately 19% of the Western world are said to carry it, which is essentially why World War II only really kicked off when the Nazis decided to interfere in the North-East. Fuck Czechoslovakia, right? Anyone fancy a kielbasa?

All this information taken in together adds up to something. It's difficult to say what, as the Polish are presumably intrinsically harmless. It would be unthinkable for them to rise up and annex their European bretherin just so they might get a little respect, right?

God, hotel rooms are dull. Thank god I have an HDMI-out, an HDTV, and a lot of American TV to help waste precious time.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Some uninformed ramblings and that

Right, okay.
  • Moving out: I dunnit. About 3 months ago. Hurr.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Amazing book series, but that absolute fucker of an author is never going to get round to finishing it. The first book, "A Game of Thrones", is the best one too. the others are still excellent, but there's a very steady decline in quality.
  • Boston Spa Beer Festival 2010: Ruby Rudgate Mild was my favourite beer. There was also some amazing cider, but since I moved onto the cider a little bit later, I have absolutely no idea what it's called.
  • Vampire Weekend's second album: Exactly like the first, but a little less enthusiastic. Sort of like how the Strokes album was. So it's not bad, but pretty disappointing too. I only mention as I'm listening now.
  • RAF Coningsby: Weird site. Too many ridiculous security measures, and they managed to build brand new offices that are already about 20 years old. I think I have to spend a few days there next week. Fighter jets are fucking dull.
  • German Chocolate Biscuits: Excelllent. So are cornettos.
  • Rhubarb Triangle: There are three according to this blog. The correct one is Rothwell, Morley and Wakefield. Definitely. I don't really like rhubarb.
  • John Bishop: He's that scouse comedian bloke. He's going to be famous by the end of the year. His DVD will be a best-seller next christmas. Possibly Jon Richardson too. I like both of them.
  • TV: Re-watching Arrested Development. Amazing. Also watching the entire Buffy and Angel box sets with my flatmate Ben, in the proper order and everything. We're currently 104 episodes out of 254.
  • The BBC: If they shut down 6Music, I'll be pretty fucked off.
  • Books: Read 6 so far this year! Wonder if I'll do 50? Reckon I'll get through about 25 at least. Currently reading Mark Kermode's "It's Only A Movie" and "Slaughterhouse 5" by Kurt Vonnegut.
  • Kermode's Book Tour: Was really good. Saw him do a talk at the Hyde Park picture-house, then watched the Exorcist. Enjoyed every minute. Kermode is a very interesting man, if a little bit gobby. He reminds me of my old flatmate Rob, in that he express his excitement a little strangely. I mean, it almost seems like he's being a little false in some of his attitudes, but he isn't. It's odd. I think it might be the faux-childishness. They're both obsessed with horror films too, and I'm not a massive fan of the genre. Anyway, his Radio 5 show with Simon Mayo is brillian and I really enjoyed seeing the Exorcist properly.
  • The Bubble: Pretty average new BBC show. Nothing special, but we'll see how it progresses.
  • Drugs: They're pretty fucking great sometimes, but always very selfish. I hate that sort of selfishness.
  • That Ocarina I bought: Rubbish. I should buy a proper harmonica instead, tuned to the key of Bob Dylan.
  • Guitar: Dylan as usual. I could definitely strum a few songs at an open mic night now. Some Smiths songs are good to play too, as is "Pazu's Fanfare" or "Morning in a Mining Village" (see: this tab).
  • Long-hair: Doing alright for me at the moment. 5/5 semi-successful Saturday's, at least. Will be cut tomorrow though.
  • Self-indulgence: Check.

Edit: Lodged a complaint about the BBC 6Music thing. Got this e-mail back:

Thanks for your e-mail regarding BBC 6 Music.

All services are being reviewed at the moment as a part of the BBC wide Strategy Review. The details of the review are currently being considered by the BBC Trust, but at this stage the BBC cannot comment on speculation.

However, we would like to assure you that we've registered your complaint on our audience log. This is a daily report of audience feedback that's circulated to many BBC staff, including members of the BBC Executive Board, channel controllers and other senior managers.

The audience logs are seen as important documents that can help shape decisions about future programming and content.

Thanks again for taking the time to contact us.

BBC Complaints

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fantasy Series Page Creep

I've recently been reading my way through the excellent Dresden Files recently, and noticed that every book was getting fatter and fatter. This seems to be quite a common trait among book series, particularly those of a fantastical nature. I certainly remember Harry Potter and The Dark Tower growing in size, at least for the first four or five books anyway.

So I did what any reasonable person would: Thought of 10 or so series of fantasy novels, counted up their pages (using a technique of counting known as "Consulting Wikipedia or Amazon") and generated a lovely bar chart. Here it is! Click it to make it bigger!

Erm, so, as you can see, there is a definite trend towards books getting fatter as the author grows more confident and decides to see what they can get away with. There are some complete misnomers such as The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice, but I think there's a general trend towards growth! I'm too lazy to do any further analysis, of course. Here is the spreadsheet if you're interested.

Oh, books are in publication order, and I've only looked at the first 10 novels of a series in order to keep the chart looking pretty.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Take the money, run

David Jesudason recently wrote up a piece on Chortle about how taking money for doing adverts and voiceovers is wrong. His argument being that comics should hold themself up to a higher standard, and to embark upon such money-grubbing endeavours is a sure-fire way to lose your credibility. But what's wrong with that? Is it such a horrible thing for a comedian not to aspire to be the voice of society? For their primary motivation to be simple "making people laugh"? It's certainly possible to entertain and enlighten without the pretension that you are creating art.

Here is a large sum of money. What we would like you to do is to read these words out. You can look at the words first, make sure it's not something you don't wholly disagree with. If it's fine with you, and you're happy to speak into that microphone over there, then you will get paid. Oh, and in case you're wondering, the money comes from people who like our product. I'm sure you know a few of them. If you're still concerned, feel free to read about our company on the internet to find out a general how the product comes into fruition and how we generally operate. If you don't like some of the things we do, then feel free not to read these words out.

There are certainly risks involved. You might pick the wrong product, something that completely contrasts with your image, which is a surefire way to turn your fans against you. John Lydon, Iggy Pop, take a bow. There's also the possibility of over-exposure. Couple that with an irritating jingle, and you've got a Direct Line ad with Paul Merton and Stephen Fry. But as shocking as some adverts are, Stephen Fry remains a national treasure, a British icon, a man with upstanding moral characters whose views and opinions are listened to.

I can see a certain amount of hypocrisy for someone to endorse a product that they don't particularly like or agree with, but that's a choice for the individual to make. I'm sure that Mark Watson will happily sup a few bottles of Magners on an evening, and that Peter Kay has swallowed more than a few pints of Tadcaster's largest export.

We've all contributed to the growth of the multinational in some way. Many of us work for them, just as a comedian might. Does this make us hypocrites if we criticise the greed of their executives? If we malign the strong-arm tactics that put smaller establishments out of business? If we whinge and moan about all of the other ills that such corporate behemoths might bring upon society? I don't believe it does. Without fail, we are all hypocrites in one way or another, and I for one do not begrudge the man who takes the money and runs. But that Magners advert is pretty irritating.

Since I wrote this article, Carl Donnely posted up a much better counter-argument, and Mark Watson also added his response. They are much better than me at writing things.

Monday, September 07, 2009

The Cribs - Ignore the Ignorant

This came through the post on Saturday:

Yep! It's the special roses-edition of The Cribs' new album, Ignore the Ignorant. For people who like paying over the odds for stupid box sets and happen to live in the Yorkshire/Lancashire/Portland area. The Special Edition nets you the funky box, a 'Live at the Ritz' CD and some DVD documentary thingy that I'll probably never watch. Here is my review of the album:

So anyway, it turns out that Johnny Marr joined the Cribs, and they've all been working on an album for a year. That's kind of bizarre, right? And It's not a bad album. In fact, it's quite good. But the thing is, it's not as 'Cribs' as it should be.

It's not as passionate as previous outings, not as rock and roll, not as violent or dirty. This is a record that asks for your attention, rather than demands it. There's less in the way of shouting from the Jarmans, the lead guitar has been dialled down a notch, and 'that' Marr rhythm can certainly be felt, for better (Ignore the Ignorant), or for worse (Last Years Snow).

But don't let that put you off. 'Ignore the Ignorant' is another solid record from the Cribs, dotted with excellent moments. There's some lovely sing-along bollocks (We Were Aborted, Cheat on Me, Nothing), a few songs that are just plain good (City of Bugs, Stick to Yr Guns, Victim of Mass Production), and, importantly, not too much in the way of filler (Last Years Snow is probably the weakest track on the record).

So all in all, another accomplished album from the Wakefield bunch. But I get the feeling the whole thing will be much better in the flesh, as I shall find out at Leeds Academy in a few weeks time!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Bouncing Back: By Frank Skinner

I picked up this book on a recommendation, not as a fan of Frank Skinner. I don't mind the man. He's very quick-witted, always shines on panel shows, and one of the most natural comedians out there.

However, Skinner can come across as a little bit chauvinistic sometimes, and some of his gags often err on the cheesy side. He even points out that he's been described as "a comedian for the 'Loaded' generation" throughout the book. Regardless, 'Fun-time Franky' is clever and affable enough to shrug off these shortcomings, a job which 'On the Road' manages wonderfully. Skinner comes across as honest, likeable and incredibly self-deprecating, but always an interesting, human character.

The book follows Frank's return to the circuit, following a year in his life developing a routine, putting it into shape at Edinburgh, and finally touring the country with a full set. There's a great deal of insight into Skinner's many neuroses, a fair amount of comedy-misery to wallow in, and a lot to laugh and groan at.

I will be picking up Frank Skinner's autobiography shortly, which is testament to this book. Well written, thoughtful, and a nice little peep-hole into the world of stand-up.

Note: This is a re-wording of an Amazon review I posted earlier today. I isn't stealing. Otherwise I would steal something better.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Fifty Film Challenge: Progress Update & Mini-Reviews

Look at that check-list! Look at it! There are, like, 9 or 10 films checked off on it. That's progress. Two films that don't count, too? This guy is just Rock and Roll. Heavy metal. Acid jazz. Nothing mundane about watching loads of films all the time. No. Here are some reviews!

Kung Fu Panda - Wotched 13/8/09
Jolly good kids film, particularly good for playing "guess the voice actor". It's essentially one excuse to have loads of ridiculous little kung-fu set-pieces, which is fine by me. Very enjoyable, but why is it that Dreamworks can't do "classic" films? There's always something lacking that Disney & Pixar have managed to nail down...

Dracula - Wotched 16/8/09
Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder try and be English, and Gary Oldman's Dracula is rubbish. It's not Gary Oldman, it's the style and complete lack of dignity and elegance the Count seems to lack. The novel is excellent and still very readable today, and while this adaption is fairly true to it, it comes out as far inferior. Bit rubbish really.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Flip the Police

So, erm, 3am last night, myself, Wilby and my delightful brother Jordan hopped into a taxi. A few minutes into the trip, the driver decided to try and charge us then and there, which is something that genuinely offends me. Essentially, the taxi driver looked at us and decided we were obviously going to run out on him, which is just rude. So we got out, and I kicked the wheel of his car as he drove off. Not even hard. I wasn't angry, it was a gesture, not a pathetic attempt to damage the thing.

Being an exceptionally lucky young chap, I was spotted by two plain-clothes police officers. They spent the best part of 20 minutes putting a few too many details into a phone, calling it in, and generally being ridiculously over the top. It was an utter farce, a little bit embarassing, and completely unnecessary. I'm not even sure if he actually put my details into his phone either. Surely there's something in the data protection act to prevent people carry around sensitive, personal information about you in a phone?

Anyway, this post is a reminder to myself for when I read it back in a couple of years: Never kick taxi driver's wheel.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Random Musings #1

  • Ginger biscuits are the only biscuits that taste better when they're a bit stale. They're also one of the few types of biscuits where all the different brands taste pretty much the same. Home made ones are better, though.
  • 'Otter's pocket' is an excellent euphemism.
  • Fear of squirrels is 'Sciurophobia'. Fear of phobias is genuinely called 'Phobaphobia', which is presumably when there is nothing to fear but fear itself. I don't know what fear of badgers is called.
  • The video game got delayed! Or should I say, it was postpwnd. Hahahahaha I am hilarious except about a million people have already come up with that amazingly original portmanteau.
  • People who write graffiti in public toilets should be a little bit more polite, and less up front. Then they might get somewhere.
  • Busbusbusbusbusbusbusbusbus.
  • Chlorella is a magical pill of the gods, and people who take it are obviously just better than you. Or much, much worse off, and desperate. Piracetam is another tablet you can take - albeit a proper drug this time- that definitely makes you smarter.
  • If I still had History lessons, I would write 1,000 words on Henry VIII, source it properly and then format the document to look exactly like a Wikipedia page. This would be the exact opposite of what everyone else in the class would do, and it wouldn't make me a prick in the slightest.
  • This picture is amazing.