The W.E.E.E. Directive

I had a guest to stay recently and we did Bristol. It was a new experience for me to view the city I grew up in through tourists' eyes. We saw Brunel's Suspension Bridge from far away and then up close, Christmas Steps, Millennium Square and too many churches. With the aid of The Naked Guide To Bristol we found an art deco building in the middle of the financial district, Cary Grant and an odd faceless sculpture.

Best was The W.E.E.E. Man, designed to promote the new Waste from Electrical & Electronic Equipment Directive which takes effect next year. His body represents the amount of e-products the average human being will throw away in a lifetime. If you can't tell, his teeth are computer mice. I love that it's grotesque too, as if to deter children from making waste in case they give life to another such monster!

The publisher of the Naked Guides is an old acquaintance and I've been invited to help his team research Bristol's pubs for the next edition, all day tomorrow. That's right: Ford Prefect, in the field, working on updates to The Guide with the aid of alcohol. Hoopy!


Sixteen Questions And Some Statements

I interviewed myself. I think it went well.

Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 18 and find line 4.
The nearest book is a street map of Bournemouth. The next nearest book is a car manual with page numbers like 1.10 and 3.04. In the end I went to the next room and picked the first book I saw: Introducing Time by Craig Callender & Ralph Edney. "Time, Newton says, should not be confused with its sensible measure." (By "sensible measure", he means clocks.)

Stretch your left arm out as far as you can and see what you touch.
Nothing. Empty space. Fresh air. I'm at a table.

What's the last thing you watched on TV?
An episode of George And Mildred!

Without looking, guess what time it is.
10:40? A clock chimed recently.

Now look at the clock. What's the actual time?

With the exception of the computer, what can you hear?
Two clocks and a television in the next room. The occasional helicopter.

When did you last step outside? What were you doing?
About an hour ago, to get better phone reception and smoke a cigarette.

What are you wearing?
A green and blue tartan shirt and grey Dickies trousers. Two of my least stylish garments but I worked from home today. Socks too.

Did you dream last night?
Nope. The last one I can remember was on Saturday.

When did you last laugh?
Thirty minutes ago reading Horror With Dick And Jane on Slartibartfast's blog. You have to trust these Hitch-hiker people.

What is on the walls of the room you are in?
Five plates, two "uplights" and two framed pictures of wooden ships at sea.

Seen anything weird lately?
The W.E.E.E. Man. (Not the one from Jackass but the one in tomorrow's article. There will be photos.)

What is the last film you saw?
Dan Brown Just Got Richer starring Tom Hanks and Audrey Tatou.

If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy?
A disused warehouse in Old Market to convert to flats [apartments], much like the place I'm trying to rent right now. Eight newly-renovated places will be ready to view in a week or two and my name is near the top of the list, but if I owned the building already I wouldn't be so anxious today.

Tell us something about you that we don't know.
I kissed a boy.

If you could change one thing about the world, regardless of guilt or politics, what would you do?
I'd change the laws of physics so time travel was possible and I'd right most of the wrongs I ever did anybody. Like My Name Is Earl. With time travel.

Do you like to dance?
Does the Pope like to pray?

George W. Bush.
I know provocation when I see it but you won't get any dissent from me. I'm firmly with the majority of the planet's population on this one.

Would you ever consider living abroad?
Been there, done that. I'd do it again given the right circumstances.

What do you want God to say to you when you reach the pearly gates?
"A lot of people here want to meet you."
Or, "Now that you know what it's all about, do you want another go?"
Or, "St. Peter and I appear to be on a job swap today."


Jingoes Ate My Baby

The cleaning is done and I hate cleaning so the hurt is over. I remembered to replace the food I ate too. My father gave me a bottle of duty-free Jamesons for looking after the house and I forgave him for not recognizing me in the street half an hour earlier. (There was a whole thing with both of us trying to park at the same time.) He was tired. I can barely keep my eyes open myself. Can somebody tell me why I got up so early when I didn't have to go to work today?

I clocked 500 miles this weekend and everywhere I went I saw small plastic St. Georges clipped on car doors. Ubiquitous is not the word (so I apologize for wasting your time with it). They cost £2.99 but they annoy me at least £9.99. For £19.99 you can go mad and decorate your entire car.

The final stages of the World Cup haven't even started yet and I'm bored of hearing about it already. I'm surrounded by hats, scarves, wall charts and other junk that I don't need and roughly one in five ads currently are football-themed regardless of what they're pimping. Surely the official food and drink of a major sporting event should complement a healthy lifestyle rather than encourage obesity? Not when there's money involved, silly!

When I see one of those poxy car flags it tells me the driver is a) a sports nerd, b) the kind of person who has to have something because everyone else has it and c) unaware that his otherwise-stylish vehicle is utterly ashamed to be made to wear the car equivalent of deely boppers. We're probably not going to be friends. I also question why an Englishman in England feels the need to tell his fellow countrymen that he'll be supporting the team he's expected to support. As if it were safe here to decorate your car with another country's colours anyway!

It's like the American in America with the Stars & Stripes in his window - handy indeed if I'm walking down the street and am suddenly overcome with an inability to recollect which country I'm in; quite redundant otherwise. Nobody said you were a terrorist, dude. But then you put the flag up and now I'm wondering what you're over-compensating for.

Bad Dog

Today would not be a good Groundhog Day. My father has been riding his vintage motorbike around France for the last ten days and he gets home in six hours. I've lived here my way since he went away and have failed to surprise myself by leaving the clean-up to the last moment.

Today would be a good day to buy a dishwasher. And a vacuum cleaner that you don't have to push and steer. And a house elf to wind all the clocks. I bet that the one on the mantle would show the latest time when it stopped and it does. I should give myself a prize.

This site looks increasingly like the site of someone who has lost interest in blogging, with a mean average of one post every three days this month. I'm busier at work and at play by about 500% compared with when I started this hack-rag but I'm no quitter. The patient and faithful will be subjected to a recent tale or two... after the big clean-up!


One In The Eye For Mediocrity

The Eurovision Song Contest is a risible exercise in national pride and European unity with about as much prestige as a hairy baby contest on the beach at Blackpool.

In my formative years you could rely on the Swedish entry to have pigtails and the Dutch entry to wear clogs. In the last decade or so, it's become infested with bland Euro-pop and you can't tell any longer who you're watching by sight or sound alone. Except, now, Finland. I received a picture of the Finnish entry via e-mail last week and thought it was a joke.

The contest was showing in Zee Bar on Saturday night and we got there in time for the voting. Lordi took an early lead. The insanely cute Fern Cotton did devil horns with her fingers as she gave Britain's twelve points to the Mordor-Kiss crossover demigods. You know what's coming: Finland won. The winner always plays again so I got to hear the song and inspired lyrics such as "it's the Arockalypse" and "on the day of Rockoning"!

The only thing that bothers me is that there's no such thing as a one-off any more; you can rely on the suits to milk it to death. If Lordi were the Led Zeppelin of Eurovision, brace yourselves for the Iron Maiden of Eurovision next year and the Marillion in 2008.


Ill Met By Daylight

I've taken four days off work to find somewhere new to live and see friends. Today I drove to London to meet Derek, who I knew (but not very well) in Virginia. His girlfriend confused me with Justin in Wonderbar one night. "Oh, I thought you were the Australian... because he just moved here and his girlfriend left him and he's heartbroken." I paused a pause of almost perfect length and said, "No, actually that is me." She was mortified but I thought it was pure comedy.

Somehow bad weather makes morons drive like crap. I was held up for thirty minutes by an accident just outside London. I parked at Hammersmith and took the tube to our agreed meeting place of Tower Records at Piccadilly Circus but, unfortunately, I was thirty minutes tardy. Derek wasn't there. Tower Records wasn't there. It's a Virgin Megastore now (but it's still the only shop of its kind next to the station).

I checked my phone and I'd missed no calls underground. (He doesn't have a number that works here but I'd given him mine anyway.) I waited another ninety minutes in the rain but he didn't show. I'd thought of half a dozen bars around Leicester Square and Covent Garden to drink in too! I bought A History Of Violence and Broken Boy Soldiers and retraced my steps back to Bristol. Total time wasted: 7 hours. People: from now on you carry a phone or we make a contingency plan up-front.

I hope Derek made it to London safely.


The Top Five Doctors

As if evangelizing the same show week-in week-out wasn't pitiful enough, now I've made a list.

5. Patrick
4. David
3. Colin
2. Paul
1. Tom

It's close at the top. Everybody loves Tom and with good reason. Paul's like a young Tom but he got short shrift on television so you may be surprised to see me rate him so highly. Colin's like a middle-aged Bill. Bill's not here. David's like Peter crossed with Patrick if Patrick had no Bill in him. Patrick was the biggest surprise when he followed Bill. Is anybody still with me?

Two of the entire ten I don't enjoy watching very much: Jon and Macbeth, i.e. the Scottish one whose name shall not be spoken. Though I liked them both when I met them. I interviewed Jon when I was fifteen and I bought a used ferret from... never mind.


Feeling Good When I J-O-B

Dammit if I'm not doing my best work ever at a company that treats the games business like a business rather than a game. In the main, my colleagues are willing to share their skills for the benefit of the team rather than guard what they know in fear of being surpassed. (It helps that we're a small team and everyone has different responsibilities.) Six months in, I'm applying what I've learned and getting results.

My boss asked if I minded doing my performance review as we travelled to Galway together. I said if it was going to be positive then I didn't mind how casual it was. We did it in a Travelodge car park waiting for a taxi to take us to the airport, which I took as a sign that he's happy with me.

Last week I was talking aloud as my brain formed a strategy to bring on a new distribution account without pissing off an existing one that it would have some overlap with. There was a pause on the line and I figured Boss Man had spotted a fatal flaw. "That's good," he said. "That's really good." Everyone gains and there's nothing underhand or immoral about it, which is important to me about the way I do business. The way you do anything is the way you do everything.

I bought a new shirt and asked Miss Edinburgh not to compare me to our boss when I wore it because he likes stripes too. "He wears light colours anyway," she said. The following day Boss Man complimented me on my shirt but said he couldn't wear it himself because of his fair complexion. Hilarity did ensue.

Everyone at Wernham Hogg thinks I'm a comedian, by the way. It's a tribute to the people I worked with in my last job (several of whom are linked in my blogroll, left) that wise-cracking comes naturally to me; I don't feel I deserve the praise or guffaws I seem to receive on a daily basis. My take is that you have to work 40+ hours every week just to pay bills and afford the fun things in life so you may as well enjoy that time if you can. My new crowd seems to be getting the message and is joining in. Expect productivity to take a nose-dive around July. Good work!

Top Five Nuts

5. Peanut
4. Brazil nut
3. Pine nut
2. Water chestnut
1. Cashew nut

What else can be said about the single-seeded dry fruit of certain flowering plants? Nut allergy is very common and may be a result of nut content in baby foods. In infancy we're not developed enough to digest all the components fully and the body reacts adversely. They yum though.


Lazy Sunday Roast Monkey

It rained on and off all day today so I stayed indoors. I downloaded the last episode of Battelstar Galactica where they change several basic premises of the series in the space of an hour, listened to the ever increasing amusement that is the weekly Ronald D. Moore podcast, drank whisky, ate Chinese, watched Audrey's interrogation on 24, made plans with my mother and talked crap with my father as he worked on his hobby... all without feeling guilty about not going out and catching rays, for there were no rays to be caught.

I instant message-d with my favourite internet friend of the moment and she told me last week's White House press dinner didn't get much coverage Stateside, unlike this side of the pond and all over the internet. I will never forget seeing the headline Incredibles D.V.D. Releases Tomorrow when I lived in America. That's news?! And this isn't? There now follows a short public service announcement in a vain attempt to redress the balance by some fraction of a minute of a degree:

Evil fuck that he is, I have to give Dubya miniscule props for laughing at himself in the above clip. Have I Got News For You this week had a caption competition using a still of the President and Steven Bridges (his impersonator). The winning slogan? "Blair Make-Over Now Complete".

Bush wasn't laughing later when The Daily Show's Stephen Colbert told him to ignore his low approval ratings because they were based on reality and reality "has a well-known liberal bias". Now that's what I call a roasting. Click around YouTube.com to find footage from a camera trained on the motherfucker as he squirms with discomfort throughout Colbert's routine. Schadenfreude's best when a warmongerer is the only one suffering.


Democracy Inaction

It's local by-election week here so what better time to go over to my glamorous assistant Neil on the other side of the Atlantic for a quick word about voting in America?

They run a poll over here for just about every job possible: president, clerk, judge, school board, rat-catcher... you name it. They even take a vote to decide who they might vote for next time (a.k.a. the primaries). You can't buy a drink round here until the polls close either and I'm afraid of who I might elect sober when there's rarely any real choice.

It all seems a bit odd to this Brit, particularly as next to no-one actually turns out to vote. The local turn-out is reckoned to be between 10 and 15%. Back home the figure is nearer 50%, making results there seem like ringing endorsements by comparison. My favorite local candidate is Bruce Calabrese (standing for the local school board) because his wife is called Beets. That cracks me up. It must be nice to vote for somebody named after a vegetable rather than someone who turns out to be one!


Top Five Smoking Games

5. Freeze Your Ass Off
Easier to play in winter when you're not allowed to smoke indoors.

4. Dodge The Security Light
Sometimes I go around the side of the house to smoke because it's the easiest way to lose a game of #5. If it's after lighting-up time I'll set off one of our security lights and project a twelve-foot shadow of myself for my neighbours to watch. I am The Third Man! Once that happens, my options are (i) go back where I came from and win at #5 or (ii) stay put and move around so slowly that I don't trigger the sensor. I've found the perfect angle to at which to stand so my right arm is on "the dark side of the Marcus" and I can raise and lower it with impunity.

3. Don't Get Caught With The Good Stuff

2. Lighter Fluidity
There was a time when if you couldn't find your lighter you'd ask Ed if you could have it back. He didn't steal them on purpose just like you didn't mean to steal all those pens from stores in the days before Chip & P.I.N. Some days I subconsciously hunt/gather better than everyone else and other times I can't find even a matchstick. Always buy cheap lighters, never re-fuel them and it'll never matter. If you come home with the same one you went out with and no more, it doesn't really count as going out. I was doing well in the game already when my bargain hunter father saw ten for £1.00. I can see fourteen lighters from where I'm sitting and there are more in my jacket pockets.

1. I Most Certainly Do Have A Light, You Hottie
Always carry a lighter if you're single, even if you don't smoke.


Let Your Geek Flag Fly

You see this trailer for the current season of Doctor Who? And this one? Can anybody spot the difference? Thanks to Shig for the link and to Stephen Willis for the laughs.

It's terrible to have too much time on your hands but there are many different ways of combatting the boredom. Me: booze, drugs and porn. Jay Maynard: Tron cosplay. Thanks to The Paranoid Mod for the link.

I'm into science fiction too but I'm also very sociable and will make somebody a lovely wife one day (using the spare parts from my robot girlfriend). So it's no value judgment on Jay or Stephen when I refer to them as geeks. Whatever issues Jay may or may not have are more to do with what he's not than the fact that he's a fan of a movie based on a single special effect from twenty years ago. Stephen's making videos with splitscreens and bloody overlays. I'd have loved to have had those toys when I was his age! I hope he makes it in the entertainment industry when he's older because he's entertained me already.

If it makes you happy then let your geek flag fly and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Especially the sportsfans.