Top Five Doctor Who Companion Crushes

1. Romana (Lalla Ward, late 70s)
125 years old and looking good on it. Not a screamer.
2. Sarah-Jane (Elisabeth Sladen, mid-70s)
Didn't take any shit from anyone, but still screamed and said "Look, Doctor!" a lot.
3. Zoe (Wendy Padbury, late 60s)
There's something about a rocket scientist in tight plastic pants. I regret being too young to see her in action.
4. Susan (Carole Ann Ford, mid-60s)
Ignore the fact the actress shares my mother's maiden name.
5. Rose (Billie Piper, now)
The quality of the new series helps her make the grade. Her dialogue has been a cut above that of her predecessors, and her smile (for "smile" read "uncontrollable tongue") doesn't hurt any either.

Admire my restraint for not listing the one who posed nude with a Dalek for Playboy... I realize a cognoscenti of about three regulars will know who these people are and they won't necessarily thank me for reminding them which one they crushed on and, by extension, how old they are.

Ticket To Linksville

Time for another bout of link whoring with no personal content whatsoever.

Here's the latest Iraqi Constitution, as translated by the Associated Press. I'm impressed with how Legaleze it's not. Taking their lead from the U.S.A, church and state are intertwined from the first bloody sentence of the "preamble". This is not a good thing. Just because everyone in the room today happens to like sushi, you don't include a sushi clause for your citizens to follow for all time... Hey ho. I'm glad it's not my job to please everyone with a single document (though I do know how to use paragraph breaks).

If, like me, you have no-one to shake your thang with right now, the solution has arrived: automated Rock Paper Scissors! (Shake it three times and hold it.) Would you believe there's an official World R.P.S. Society, with championships?

The winners of the 2005 Hugo Awards have been announced. I'm recommending these titles to myself and anyone else who wants to see what science fiction is really about, i.e. not just tits and explosions.

Talking of boobies - such a rarity around here - take a look at what your Lego pieces get up to when you're not watching. There are six pages (just change the number in the URL) but I've linked the funniest. To paraphrase a comment from that site, if you think this is Not Safe For Work you should probably stop wasting your company's time and do your job instead!

The Scotch 3M people have a lot of faith in their security glass.

Finally, what happens when an octopus and a shark face off? If you're done playing R.P.S. then this most eternal of life's mysteries can now be answered. Rest assured, I'm a sensitive child myself: the clip is bloodless.


Niggaz With Aeroplanes

A week later, I'm still talking about my trip to Indiana. Draw your own conclusions! For reasons of cashflow, I booked my flight with N.W.A. only the day before departure, not realizing that a strike action was underway. D'oh! That's the first quantifiable negative side effect of me not having cable.

There was a delay while my first flight tried to find an empty gate. I was jonesing for a cigarette and feared I'd miss my connection. The flight attendant decided what I really needed was a back massage, in front of all the other passengers who were about as bemused as I was. Does this sound like a dream come true, boys? Alas, she was twenty years my senior and called Alfreda, so all I could think of was chicken in a white sauce.

En route I finally read an old issue of Rolling Stone that Squarepants found on a plane earlier in the year, which had a 30-page obituary for Hunter S. Thompson. I was excited to read there's a movie being made of his novel The Rum Diary, starring Johnny Depp as Thompson once more. I loved the story of him shooting bullets through copies of his books instead of autographing them. I decided to make him my God For The Week and live life a little more gonzo from now on in his honour.

Wednesday evening, I was indulging in a little "gonzo worship" when the loudest alarm I've ever heard went off. I parted the layers of smoke in my apartment and struggled with the detector, gashing the palm of my hand in the process. Ripped off the wall, wires bare and detached, it just wouldn't stop bleating. I was looking for a way into the casing when I noticed a speaker grill high on the wall that I hadn't noticed before. Long story short, it was the fire alarm for the entire building and was ringing in every apartment and every corridor. I got blood on my white wall for nothing. The Good Doctor would be proud of such carnage!

Top Five Names For My Children

If the last article was what not to do when naming your kids, here's the antidote.

i. Avoid names of people you know. Ex-boyfriends/girlfriends, other family members - if you pay tribute to one grandparent you just snubbed the other three - and indeed any name like "Britney" or "George" that has a strong association in the popular consciousness. I'll make an exception here for "David" because I've known enough Davids over the years (so it wouldn't be after one in particular) and they're all generous kind-hearted people.

ii. Avoid names that are difficult to pronounce. Therein teasing lies, and kids can be cruel. A friend in school called Niamh (pronounced "Neve", as in "Campbell") was quite crush-worthy and had a gorgeous name to boot. But, miles from her birthplace of Ireland, could anyone pronounce it correctly? Could they fuck. For ten years.

iii. Consider how it'll sit with your child's other names. My surname begins with "S" yet both my brother, Alex, and I have names ending in the "S" consonant sound. Once, when I thought I was going to get married (longstorynothertime), I was keen to trade out my surname for hers so I wouldn't have to insert an artificial pause when saying my full name any more. If I let them run together, you only hear "Mark".

iv. Make sure your offspring's initials don't spell anything embarrassing. Brian Jones of the Beach Boys taught me that.

Personally, I've always had a penchant for old fashioned, English or Celtic names. My uncle is an Arthur and so was his father, though he's gone by the nickname "Archie" since childhood because of point (ii) above. I'm quite happy with "Marcus". I was one of three out of 1500 students in high school so the trick seems to be to bridge the mundane and the urbane. I'd like something unisex too, so you can refer to "it" by one name from the outset:

1. Kelley
2. Robin
3. Jamie
4. Cameron
5. Loren/Lorne

It'll be fun to look back on this and see how far off the mark I was or whether my future wife had any say in the matter!


That Which We Call A Rose

Because "a rose by any other name" is possibly THE most overused Shakespeare quote on the whole intramanet. From herpetoculture to whether Pluto is still a planet or just a really big Kuiper Belt Object, everyone's got a use for it. Occasionally, an article turns out to be about names or roses or both!

I saw this piece of funnery this morning and thought about some of the less fortunate people I went to school with. We had a John Thomas, a Wayne Carr and a history teacher named Richard Holder - known out of earshot as "jockstrap". (Paranoid Mod, this might be a good time to tell the story of your Mr. Boyle or I'll butcher it myself in the comments.)

At university, we had a Mycroft Haddock. I can understand trying to elevate the Haddock family reputation by taking names from literature but there's a reason you don't meet many Sherlocks in real life so you should probably take the hint and avoid his big brother also. There can't be many sites with the phrase "Mycroft Haddock" on them, and even fewer with it mentioned twice in the same paragraph, so I look forward to him Googling himself one day and sharing with us how he overcame the crushing embarrassment that haunted his first thirty years.


So It's Come To This...

The first time I went to a strip club I never imagined I'd some day be in a position to separate and grade such experiences. Yet there I was, on Saturday at The Red Garter, telling Greg and Trevor how nothing could compete with my March trip to Las Vegas...

On that occasion, our Cruise Director excelled himself: he had the plan, the experience and the directions. Though he did require us to supply our own cash. Cheetahs is where the so-bad-you-can't-even-watch-it-ironically movie Showgirls was filmed, though it looked totally unfamiliar to me.

I need to shout out here to Betty, a make-up student from L.A. who flies to Vegas to work for a few days then flies home again. "Betty" was an obvious stage name as her look was based on retro pin-up icon Betty Page (despite her weighing a fraction of the original). Three dances and a tip covered her hotel costs and put her on the course to profitability for the night. There was grinding like I have never known and some very inappropriate touching - by her, not me - according to the laws of Clark County. Falling in love with a stripper is dumb, but is it alright that I was smitten for a night?

The place in Indy was a spit and sawdust joint, classily situated next to White Castle. Actually, it was more of a "chewing gum and carpet" kind of place. The N.A.S.C.A.R. (Non-Athletic Sport Centred Around Rednecks) fan on the door was a jerk - he turned away a drunken batchelorette party ahead of us and wouldn't give an inch when I realized I'd forgotten my I.D. yet again. (I blow at that.) When I returned, his manager chewed him out for making someone over 30 fetch his passport from his hotel and he waived my cover charge. Free boobies!

I found my partners in crime at the third stage. The dancer there took exception to my speaking to them when I should have been watching her so she stood me back up and thrust so hard into my stomach that my chair fell over backwards and I nearly did too. It was unexpected and it really took the wind out of me, and it's not often I can write that for its non-metaphoric meaning! But everyone was laughing so I played along. Later, a stag was taken onstage, stripped to his underwear and lashed with his own leather belt. I tried not to think about how far these violent tendencies stemmed from genuine rage about the world of work in which these girls found themselves.

Given the choice, I'll go for a curvy figure - the likes of which were in short supply on Saturday night. So when Brandy bounced past me I made sure to get her attention. She ran up to me and pushed her bare breasts in my face. Twice, in case I missed it the first time. It's not easy to sell to a salesman but this pitch works for me! Then she gave me her cold so I would remember her all week.

Trevor was targeted a lot by dancers looking to incorporate a prop into their routine. Having removed his glasses, they eagerly filled the vacant space in front of his eyes. Trevor took a dance from Jersey right after I did and returned with a funny quote. "I told her she had great breasts and she said, 'That's what your friend kept saying!'" We overheard another dancer as she performed to the guy on our left. He asked how she was and she said her lips were sore because she "had to suck three dicks earlier". On reflection, he could have been her friend but whether that makes what she said more or less likely to be true, we couldn't fathom.

So you see, I thought Nurse Betty had cured me but it's clearly not true. The night became something of a last States-side hurrah for me. For the record, we DO have topless clubs back home but I'm the only person I know that's shameless enough to go to one. What does everyone else know that I don't? When's the last time a strip club was attacked by terrorists? From that viewpoint, Spearmint Rhino looks like one of the safest buildings in London.


Questions With Tricia Helfer

She may be fourth in the line of ladies on Battlestar Galactica that I would like to introduce to my Johnson, however its difficult to deny the beauty of Tricia Helfer when you meet her in person.

We first met on Sunday morning, en route to the hotel elevator. She was chaperoned by a burly gamer in a staff shirt and shades. She was missing her cats, or maybe her dogs. (I was eavesdropping at first.) I managed "Excuse me, are you Tricia Helfer?" and a compliment before striking up lift conversation with her less-intimidating escort instead. Having teased Brad via SMS that I just rode with his big crush, I picked up an autograph for him at her signing session.

FP: Hello again.
TH: From the elevator?
FP: Yup. I wanted to ask you a question about the scripts. When you get all those speeches about gods and fate, does it mean anything to you beyond what's on the page?
TH: At first, I took it at face value. Then it got a little repetitive...
FP: Yeah, we noticed that!
TH: ...but now Ron [Moore] knows where he wants it to go again.
FP: Cool. Do you mind if I take your picture?

She begins to get up from her seat, because most people ask to have their picture taken alongside her.

FP: Oh, you're fine there. The value of the picture goes down if I'm in it!


Ford Paused To Survey The Surrounding Damage

Are you a link-clicker? Do I need to more clearly signpost links that add meaning to an article, so you can safely skip over the silly and tenuous ones? Which types of articles do you strongly like or dislike? Does my writing ever seem cryptic, like I'm talking to a clique? Does anyone want to read original fiction? (No promises.)

Feel free to take your gloves off when leaving questions or comments, but stay within the Queensberry Rules or my equerry will thrash you soundly.

Tag And Bag This Body

I've been tagged twice. Geronimo!

Ten years ago, 1995-08-24:
Living in Canterbury. I'm on a four-year course so many of my cohorts on threes graduated last month and have now left town. I'm living with my girlfriend, we're both playing card games and I'm looking for a place to live for my final year.

Five years ago, 2000-08-24:
Living in Littlehampton and having an "investment year" (meaning that it was a crappy place to live but I wouldn't be where I am today if I hadn't done that job).

One year ago, 2004-08-24:
Living in Virginia and just getting back from working Gen Con Indy 2004. My camera lied to me and made all my pictures out of focus. Kendrick educated me about Funyuns and Abner became my go-to guy for drink-related fun that summer.

Yesterday, 2005-08-23:
Slept in late after a fun weekend that lasted til Monday. Found out what I needed to pay not to go to court. Watched half of Vampire Hunter D and listened to the latest Galactica podcast. Ate some Pop Tarts and an apple.

Tomorrow, 2005-08-25:
Errands to run. Nothing life-threatening. More taking it easy!

Five snacks I enjoy:
Muffins, beef jerky, ice cream, kebabs and (no gagging) pickled eggs.

Five bands that I know most of their lyrics:
The Doors, Pixies, Duran Duran, Radiohead and (not strictly a band) David Bowie.

Five things I'd do with a million dollars:
Invest in an American company and apply for the easiest type of U.S. work visa; pay off the three people I currently owe money to; help my mother out with her financial security, post-divorce; travel; buy a new car for the first time... maybe a hybrid.

Five places I'd run away to:
Seattle, New Orleans, Amsterdam, Toronto and (try and stop me) Brighton.

Five bad habits I have:
Finishing people's sentences when I agree with what they're saying, not getting enough exercise, being too sincere, taking life too seriously sometimes, and not taking life seriously enough other times.

Five things I like doing:
Reading, writing, travelling, smoking and the never-ending pursuit of happiness!

Five things I wouldn't wear:
Sandals to work, any bright colour except white, any sports-related apparel, a gimp suit, a prison uniform. I've worn a dress in public three times.

Five TV shows I love:
Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who, Have I Got News For You, The Tick (the live-action version) and South Park.

Five movies I love:
Memento, Adaptation, The Big Lebowski, Donnie Darko, Hero.

Five famous people I'd like to meet:
Frank Black, Patrick McGoohan, David Mamet, Hunter S. Thompson, Philip K. Dick.

Five favorite toys:
Camera, computer, Playstation 2, a plush of Buttercup from The Powerpuff Girls and a lava lamp that doesn't work on U.S. current.

Five people to tag:
Ric at The Paranoid Mod
Joeri at Emotive Impulse
David at The Daily Anxiety
Mike at Deep Thoughts By The Girard
Kate at Penguins R Cool

Questions With Ron Glass

You often find B-grade S.F. celebs at shows like the one I just attended. No offence to anyone's acting ability, which is often A-grade. I mean that many are on cheap TV shows and don't get paid stellar amounts so the prospect of signing autoraphs for the plebs for a few hours for $20 a shot is an attractive one. The likelihood of finding Patrick Stewart risking Carpal Tunnel Syndrome/Repetitive Strain Injury on a summer weekend in Indiana is low!

Occasionally, they're there because they haven't worked too much in recent years. One telling sign is when the character they played is named alongside their real name, just so you know that they really are famous. I met Paris Themmen at a show I worked in Europe several years ago and was much more impressed at his uncredited role as a bowler during the opening of The Big Lebowski than as one of the kids from Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory.

Wearing the costume from the movie that made you famous is also a dead giveaway. This means you last weekend, 4th Ghostbuster Ernie Hudson. He couldn't have made more than $400 all weekend. (Perhaps he needs to work on some catchphrases for the full, pathetic effect.) Tricia Helfer of the new Battlestar Galactica, on the other hand, easily took home three or four grand. Kudos to the company I used to work for, for booking several The Lord Of The Rings main cast (including Elijah) for fan club promotions between 2001-2003 and paying their expenses and appearance fees in full so fans could get autographs for free, which is not the norm at these things.

So I was in line/queued up for Tricia Helfer when I noticed Ron Glass had no-one talking to him. Mr. Glass is known here for roles on Barney Miller, Roots, Good Times, The New (i.e. The Black) Odd Couple, and others that were never exported to Britain. I know him from the Firefly series and Serenity movie. Turns out, he's from Indiana too. I jumped lanes to meet him, and he offered his hand as I approached.

FP: I don't have anything to sign. I've come to worship at The Altar Of Ron.
RG: [chuckling] Well, you are very welcome.
FP: I was lucky enough to see one of the Serenity previews--
GHW: Aaaah!! I didn't see it yet.

A grey haired woman, supplied by the show management, was Mr. Glass' escort for the day. (Tricia Helfer had a burly Z.Z. Top reject.)

FP: I won't say any spoilers. Ron, I was interested how much information you ever got about your character's background. Were you briefed beyond what was in the dialogue?
RG: The first I ever knew was when the script arrived.
FP: So you don't know any details about his links to the Alliance?
RG: Nope.
FP: Do you have your own theories?
RG: Not really. That's for the writers.
FP: So, we'll never know... unless there are sequels, of course.
RG: [smiling] Unless there are sequels.


The Skinny

I just love getting out of town. I'm different "there". I get a feeling of untapped potential, contrasting with the usual feeling of nothing-the-fuck-to-do here. I returned today to my first ever court summons (for unpaid rent). With luck, I can orchestrate matters so it's illegal for me to ever set foot in Virginia again!

My court date is September 8th. I wonder if I'll even still be in the country. I confirmed the previously-mentioned U.K. job over the weekend and they're kinda waiting for me to get back so they can start the project. I was sought out and informed of another quite-senior U.K. vacancy, which flattered me and boosted my confidence no end. So, barring a miracle this week, I'm off. There's nothing left to do here except pack, have a final beer with friends and try to get laid one last time. You know, for the road.

My belongings will go into storage here except for the clothes and music collection. There will be a cheap-ass sale of some furniture (watch this space) and the gorgeous 32" flat screen Sony TV I bought for $650 five months ago (offers welcome). In a few months, I'll see whether my two remaining Seattle leads have any vacancies (and how much is will cost in legal fees to return after a break) or whether to find something long term at home. Stability is desirable, but so is Frasier City.

That's the sitch, Mitch. Tonight I catch up on my favourite blogs. When you hear of Brad's "Where's Marcus?" post via a virtual stranger in Indiana, you know you're out of the loop! Tomorrow I begin converting the six sets of notes in my Draft folder into funny stories about strippers, and in a day or two I'm gonna get a whole bunch of stuff off my chest and out of my system in the vain hope of drawing a line under this (hopefully singular) chapter of my life. It might get weird, or it might not: let's find out!


Screw this heat and humidity. Really. Right in the ear. Twice!


You Can Tell By The Way I Use My Blog

Sometimes there's just nothing new to blog about. This week has been much like the last, with the job hunting and the thriftiness. A job in the U.K. has gone from a friend saying it looks hopeful to the manager asking me if I am interested. I'll whore myself around Indianapolis next week and see where the pieces lie then. The moral of the story? I'm doing fine; don't let the lack of blogging fool ya. Hope you're feeling dandy too.



Hopefully I'll get to go somewhere other than the mall bar with my new friend and her work colleagues some day soon, but they like me so there is an upside. We had fun decoding popular songs as they were sung in the cabaret style. The singer took requests, and I got Carly Simon's Nobody Does It Better from The Spy Who Loved Me. I need to shake this Bond kick soon... most of the films aren't even very good!


Top Five Lesser-Known Bond Tunes

Twenty films into the most box-office-lucrative movie franchise ever, the films have a logic all of their own. An audience cares less about realism than getting a healthy dose of Bond iconography: the girls, gadgets, exotic locations, and wisecracks. I'd argue that a slice of realism is also necessary to make the threat vivid for our hero, as in two of my favourites: Goldfinger and The World Is Not Enough. When this is overlooked you get pseudo-sci-fi dross like Moonraker and Die Another Day.

The music of James Bond is as big a component as any other. A lousy tune gets the picture off to a bad start. Here are some occasions where the best song in the movie might not be the title one.

1. We Have All The Time In The World: Louis Armstrong (On Her Majesty's Secret Service, 1969).
The last thing he recorded. I think he could make the ingredients of a Pop Tart sound like the food of the gods.

2. Mr. Kiss-Kiss Bang-Bang: Dionne Warwick (Thunderball, 1965).
Tom Jones' title song is awesome even though "Thunderball" means absolutely nothing. Never mind. This was the first attempt to recreate the success of the Goldfinger theme in all its horn-y splendour, based on James Bond's nickname in Asian markets. Coincidentally, Charlie Higson of The Fast Show went on to host a movie review programme called Kiss-Kiss Bang-Bang and he's now the official Bond novelist.

3. Surrender: k.d. lang (Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997.)
Not to be confused with her other song by the same name that I downloaded by mistake! This one features the lyrics "tomorrow never dies" so was probably another abortive attempt at a title song, cf. Pulp's not very good Tomorrow Never Lies and Alice Cooper(!)'s View To A Kill for others.

4. Backseat Driver: The Propellerheads (Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997).
Time to put your trivia helmet on, if you're not wearing it already. David Arnold was the man behind Shaken And Stirred, a sweet collaboration album with contemporary artists reinterpretting Bondian themes without pissing all over what made them great in the first place. For example, the Satchmo song above is sung by Iggy Pop! On the strength of this work, he landed the gig as regular composer for the Bond films from this film onwards.

He collaborated with The Propellerheads to cover On Her Majesty's Secret Service, the only instrumental Bond theme after Dr. No and a real doozy at that. Their next album featured a track called Spybreak, which is essentially O.H.M.S.S. Mark II, and the remote control car chase in Tomorrow Never Dies is scored with yet a third variant which uses the same electro bassline from their original cover! Are you still with me?

5. Where Has Everybody Gone?: The Pretenders (The Living Daylights, 1987).
Apparently the henchman's favourite song because it's on repeat on his Walkman throughout the movie.

To be honest, these are all the good songs you don't know outside of composer-only (i.e. no guest artist) soundtrack cues. Bond's greatest musical gaff? "My dear girl, there are some things that just aren't done. Such as drinking Dom Perignon '53 above the temperature of 39 degrees Fahrenheit. That's as bad as listening to The Beatles without earmuffs!"


Bank Of Perplejica

"Hi. I wonder if you can help me. I've had a lot of overdraft charges in recent months and, looking at my statements, I find that on most occasions I had more than enough money in my savings account to cover them. I know it's my responsibility to manage my money, and I'm not here to complain. But [insert recent life story involving no job and rent not yet paid for the month of August] so I'm asking for some sympathy and leniency because I'm having a hard time financially. If you can reverse even a couple of the charges, it would make a big difference to me."
"The problem is your savings account isn't linked to your checking account."
"They're both there under my profile, aren't they?"
"Yes, but they're not linked."
"Surely they are... I automatically transfer money on a monthly basis from my income to my savings."
"They're not linked for overdraft protection."
"I see. If that's a paid-for service, I probably declined it when I signed up."
"No, it's free."


"I can't do anything here because we can only see your activity since your last statement."

Realize the irony here: by the time you receive your statement, find time to look it over and draw conclusions, it's too late for them to help.

"But you can speak to customer service..."
"I thought this was customer service. Where's the customer service desk?"
"They're on the phone. You have to call them."
"I've come to speak to someone at my account-holding branch and you're saying I should go home and make a phone call?"

I'd like to think I gave her the crook-eye here, but it was probably internal. If I sound like I'm being shitty with her, I was maintaining civility. I think some wish fulfillment is factoring in my re-telling of the conversation. Anyway, she let me call from her desk. I repeat much of what was said above and play dumb with the whole I'm-not-from-around-here card.

"I see that on a couple of occasions you were overdrawn by around $50."
"But I had at least that in my savings on, I think, every occasion. You were holding enough of my money to cover it."
"If it had been smaller amounts, maybe we could have helped..."
"Wait! Going over by $10 would have been alright regardless of whether I had savings with you or not, but going over by $50 when I had more than that elsewhere in the Bank Of America system is bad?"
"You can see why that sounds weird to me."
"Yes, sir. I can. Is there anything else I can help you with?"

I'm always tempted here to say, "You haven't helped me in the first place."

"No. Thank you for your time."

I knew it was a long shot going in. A simple case of "if you don't ask, you won't get". But their policies have me a little perplexed. Strange to think that if I'd said four words three months ago I'd be $200 richer now. My accounts are now linked! On the way out, another member of staff wished me a nice day. In my mind, I decked him.


"We called the dog Indiana."

If anyone knows anyone going to Gen Con Indy this year who can spare some floorspace for a night in exchange for beer, kashmoney or sexual favours, please drop me a line A.S.A.P. It's career-vital that I'm there but I'm coming waaaay late to booking everything cos I didn't know I'd still be in the country at the time of the show. Heartfelt thanks and your choice of the above-mentioned compensation packages if you can hook me up!


Top Five Contents Of My Fridge

1. A bottle of Guinness Extra Stout.
2. Bread.
3. An M&M bar.
4. er...
5. Freon?!

Fantastic Faux

Oh boy. Where to start with the Fantastic Four movie? I wasn't expecting much from the director of Barbershop and the Jimmy Fallon/Queen Latifah remake of outstanding French film Taxi. It wasn't godawful, but it wasn't very good either. 20% of my enjoyment came from neat moments in the movie and the other 80% from ripping the movie to shreds during and afterwards.

It starts with a scene that feels like it wasn't shot to be the opening. You're there suddenly with the feeling you just switched channels. Then the five lead characters run an experiment on a privately owned space station which goes horribly wrong and renders them unconscious. We see the last of them wake up in a medical institute back on Earth. How did they get home?

Ben Grimm calls Johnny Storm "Mr. Blonde Ambition". Johnny is blonde in the comics and Jessica Alba dyed her hair to play his sister, Sue. But then they cast a dark-haired actor for Johnny and didn't update the script. This should give you an idea of the level of care in play here!

Soon there's a scene where Invisible Girl has to use her new and fluctuating powers to get past some police and help The Thing, providing an excuse for Ms. Alba to disrobe in public. Of course, she accidentally becomes visible again so they can show her in lingerie in the movie trailer. Next thing you know, all four of them are on the other side of the police. How did that happen?! In another scene, Ben's wife goes outside her apartment and across the street in the middle of the night to meet him by some some shadowy bushes. She dressed up sexy for his homecoming and doesn't even put on a coat. Has she seen New York's rape statistics? Titillation is all well and good and after two hours of cleavage I now understand what the fuss is about with Jessica Alba's body, but could you at least TRY to have it make sense?

Dr. Doom talks to Grimm in a Manhattan diner and it's raining outside. Cut to Sue and Reed having a romantic moment on a New York bridge and it's dry. You curse and make excuses in your head: maybe there's been an ellipse? Then they cut back to the diner - so the two scenes are meant to take place at the same time in the same city - and it's still raining there. Several times characters see other characters on a live news broadcast and then turn up at the scene mere moments later.

At the end, we get the Raiders Of The Lost Ark scene where Doom's P.A. signs off on a cargo shipment. The camera pulls back to reveal it's on a ship, already at sea, bound for Latveria. Why are they doing the paperwork after the trip has begun? Is the P.A. going to Latveria too? He's on the boat.

Don't even get me started on the nonsensical pseudo science in this film. It doesn't even make sense as they define it within the context of a fictional universe. We've seen such shoddiness in movies for so long now, it's lowered our expectations to the point where we accept it. My favourite (and I use the word with some irony) is in action movies when they shoot a door's control panel and the door opens. Try smashing up your computer keyboard and see if the monitor turns on. Mine didn't. These acts of stupidity will not stand!

On the plus side, I thought Johnny Storm was hilarious and as big a show-off as he was in the comics. If not for him, this could have been a walk-out. He would often guest in The Amazing Spider-Man in the early days of the comic and I wouldn't be opposed to this guy having a cameo in the webslinger's next movie. He and Peter Parker have very different approaches to crimefighting and bicker a ton. It would be awesome.

The Fantastic Four: 10 out of 10 for Johnny and the Alba boobies; minus several million for everything else.



Strictly speaking, they're not acronyms. Radar, laser, scuba, and quango are acronyms. If I didn't have insomnia I might never have learned this!

U.S.P. = Unique Selling Point
T.L.A. = Three Letter Acronym (sic)
D.N.A. = National Dyslexics Association
R.T.F.C. = Read The Card, Moron!
N.T.S.C. = Not The Same Colour
H.S.B.C. = Half Staffed By Christmas

That last one proves (as far as I require proof, and why are you being so demanding all of a sudden?) that the funniest jokes appeal to the smallest groups of people because they're specific to a situation. I worked for Midland Bank in the late 1990s when its re-branding as part of the Hong Kong-Shanghai Banking Corporation was in full swing. There were job cuts at the time too, so the above joke spread like wildfire.

There's a wonderfully comprehensive guide to initialisms and acronyms here. The O.D.S.A. entries are dynamite.


Lighten Up

I couldn't sleep last night so tinkered with my blog template. Learning HTML and CSS piecemeal by changing parts and seeing what blows up is one way to pass the time. Reading makes me sleepy; reading template tag F.A.Q. pages doubly so!

Over the weekend I continued to prepare for the trip home. My severance runs out in two paychecks and, as has been noted here several times, I'm only allowed to stay while I'm earning. I can't wait to get back to those familiar surroundings. By depriving myself of them for a period I've come to appreciate them much more.

I woke up feeling surprisingly sober and refreshed this morning, despite only five hours of actual zzz-ing. I go straight to e-mail to read that a potential vacancy in Seattle has been filled but they'll keep me in mind for the future. Never mind. Visions of the beach in Brighton. I can almost smell the sea now.

I went to my old place of work and caught up with a bunch of people. Real live people are of a novelty for me lately - not counting the staff at Subway! Lots of people openly looking for work. Two new leads: companies that had slipped my mind but are in good cities. Use of a printer. Lots of people having a bad year. It wasn't pure schadenfreude but it's reassuring to know that you're not alone in life not always going to plan. To be honest, I usually set achievable goals so my American adventure has been a strange, new experience for me! We made plans to fly me home. I got some DVDs back from a bad borrower. Kyle offered to send me discs of Battlestar Galactica from his TiVo so I can keep up with it when I'm no longer here. Kyle rocks. Literally no-one said an unsupportive word to me all day (and I'm far past caring about what anyone says behind my back).

I went to the mall "after work" on the possibility that my day could get even better. As I passed a certain store, the woman who works there walked out in front of me. We got a quick coffee before she went home. We established that she had not in fact crowbarred in a reference to a boyfriend when I stopped by the store to ask her out two months ago; it was just a story and the guy in it was just a friend. We're going for drinks tomorrow, though just as friends on account of the fact I'm leaving so soon. I told her to be original because everyone else says no. (I'm channelling Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon 2 now... a bad omen.) She promised to either not cancel the "date" or cancel with such an amazingly convoluted story that it would still feel original. She's almost as funny as I am.

Finally, my legal advisor called me back. Long story short, I can stay here 2-3 weeks longer than we've always assumed possible, and still transfer my visa with little hassle. I was pessimistic about my chances of landing something with only two weeks left but five weeks is another story.

Next time I feel a bit low, I'm gonna lighten up my blog colour scheme again. (You may want to purchase some sunglasses. If you get together and buy bulk it will be cheaper.) When I put a smile on the avatar at the top of my sidebar, then you'll know I've really lost the plot. This was long, but it's been a good day and I wanted a record of it. Have a good evening, all.

Stating The Obvious

Hershey's Mr. Goodbar is (you guessed it) yet another peanut and chocolate confection. The front of the bright yellow plastic wrapper bears the splash "EASY OPEN - SEE BACK". On the back there's a small circle at one end saying "HOLD HERE" and nearby, at the edge of the flap, a small triangle says "LIFT & PULL HERE". If I've described it badly, what I'm looking at here is a standard wrapper with detailed instructions for the standard opening method. I am dumbfounded. Who doesn't know this already?

Mr. Goodbar is also a really dumb name, though it never hurts to plant the seed that your product is "good", subliminally or otherwise!