nth Week At Philo's

Guest starring... Phil!

By the time I move out next week it'll be two months, less a day. I asked Phil's girlfriend what I could buy him in return for such generosity. She had a word and the answer came back: nothing. The most he'll agree to is being taken out for dinner so a curry is now on the cards.

Last night we debriefed. He said how painless it had been having me around. That was nice to hear because I've had enough difficult house shares that I prefer to live alone nowadays. (I'm told I'm too laid-back sometimes but when someone tries to bullshit/swindle/otherwise put one over on me it's like a red rag to a bull.) Phil makes co-habiting seem easy.

We were strapping ourselves in for a session of Outlaw Golf and Lego Star Wars: The Video Game when Phil had an epiphany. I helped him fetch a sheet of plasterboard from the next room. Then came a step ladder, a digital projector, a plank and a rock.

"Have you seen Laurel and Hardy when they try to get that piano up those stairs?"
"Yeah. Why?"
"This has potential."
But he knew exactly what he was doing and we gamed our last games on a big screen. For hours.


A Familiar Dilemma

Roughly one weekend in three I'll dash off to see friends who are (regrettably) spread out all over the country - nay, the world. The other two weekends I'll take it easy, do laundry and paperwork, read, surf, generally recharge my mental and physical batteries and end up in a pub or club with Bristol friends on the Saturday night.

It feels like every time my local friends have an event, i.e. more than just beers or a barbecue, it clashes with my plans to leave town. I didn't go camping with them because I'd already been invited to a party in Brighton by The Paranoid Mod and his entourage, and I could swing by East London to celebrate Shig's 30th birthday on my way home. I didn't go on a married man's "Gold Pass Weekend" trip to Amsterdam because a lady I'd been chasing for a while consented to go on a date with me the same day. Now I've been invited to Joeri's birthday party, by coincidence also in Amsterdam, on 2006-08-05. To-ne has been planning a cinema night with a big screen and amplifier in his Bristol back garden for months and only last week did he find a date that all his friends and family could make: 2006-08-05.

I haven't seen Joeri in six months, since he gave me the best Christmas ever. He was instrumental in getting me the hell out of America and back on my feet with regular career-type work. He's hilarious, a soul mate of sorts and I miss him. I've known To-ne since we were in school together and I don't want him or my other Bristol friends thinking that I only spend time with them when I've nothing better to do.

I can't believe I have another double-booking! Setting aside for a moment the annoyance that I'd be having more fun if I could go to more than half the things to which I'm invited, what on earth am I supposed to do?


The Lacklustre Guide To The Rest Of The Galaxy

Sequels, eh? They're the Law Of Diminishing Returns made real. (I don't feel the need to elaborate since most have you have seen The Matrix trilogy.) I just discovered three new radio series of The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy and, regrettably, the Law held fast and true.

The first two radio series were the original Hitch-Hiker's; the TV show, five books, towel and movie came later. The new radio episodes (or "fits", as they are inexplicably called) are based on the last three books. And there the problems begin: they were written as books not scripts. There's less dialogue, fewer jokes, the characters rarely face immediate danger or any of the other things that live drama thrives on and, unlike the originals, the whole project was clearly not conceived with the medium of sound or the thirty minute format in mind.

A related problem is that the content of the second book, The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe, doesn't match the second radio series at all. It ends with stuff from the first series that didn't make it into the first book because Douglas Adams was past his deadline and over his word quotient after adapting the first four episodes (fits). When the third series starts like the second never happened, a lot of fans are left rubbing their jaws like they've been slapped. Zaphod had just met the man who really ran the universe and Arthur had stolen a spaceship. I was quite interested in finding out what happened next but instead I got a rejected Doctor Who story about robots from the planet Krikkit invading Lords' Cricket Ground to steal The Ashes. That stung.

Finally we have the problem of reverence. Douglas Adams was never happy with his writing and took the opportunity to change and improve upon his initial ideas every time the story found a new medium. The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe shows that he thought radio shows don't make good books so why would the reverse be true? Unfortunately Mr. Adams wasn't around for these new recordings and the task of adapting his work for radio seems to have fallen to someone too in awe of it to want to change anything. So the structure is still all over the place when it badly needed re-shaping and there are long sections of prose telling us about events where dramatisation of those events ought to be.

The original cast are as good as can be expected given the material they have to work with but the guest stars seem as confused as the audience. Stephen Fry and Douglas Adams were the only two performances with any energy and one of those has been dead for years. I laughed out loud once only, when Ford said he'd rather talk about girls' chests than saving the universe and Arthur said, "Alright. What do you want to know?"

I'm not going to throw my toys out of the pram and rename my blog in protest but I am un-recommending a large portion of the Hitch-Hiker ouvre here. So long and thanks for all the fits.


"Congratulations! You've reached the end of Endless Spring Break..."

- from Girls Gone Wild: Endless Spring Break Volume 14 (2004).


Fifth Week At Philo's

I can't move into my flat for another two weeks. Because the landlord bought the warehouse as a single unit and then split it in two, both addresses need to be completed before he can get insurance on the building. So they're frantically finishing the other half now and I can only wait. Phil's being totally cool about it. What a hero!

The best part about moving into an unfurnished apartment is all the shopping. Argos and Ikea will soon be my friends. I've found a ton of groovy stuff online too, at IWantOneOfThose.com: clocks in binary, clocks with projectors, and clocks that look like books. Lazybone.com has less for the home and more novelty items but I browsed for an hour anyway: giant chess, indoor snow, and Twister bed covers.


Nouveau Who Beau

With spoilers up to S2E12 of new Doctor Who.

Rose Tyler dies in the finale, according to the voice-over introduction to last week's episode and all the surrounding press. She's been annoyingly arrogant this year, treating the whole of time and space like it's her personal playground, so with any luck she'll get caught in the crossfire when the Daleks and Cybermen face off for supremacy of the Earth at around a quarter to eight. It's going to be completely O.T.T. but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Rose's replacement, one Martha Jones, was unveiled to the media this week. Freema Agyeman is a relative unknown here so, like David Tennant replacing Christopher Eccleston, she'll be fighting the good fight to keep the budget down in Series Three.

Freema already appeared in Doctor Who, as an office worker who got her brain pulled out through her ear. We hope her next character will be less one-dimensional (and more durable). Rumours abound but I like the "runaway bride" theory because we won't be popping back to the here and now to play happy families as much as we did with That Tyler Woman. Whoever Martha Jones turns out to be, the T.A.R.D.I.S. crew is going to be nicely colour-coordinated when she joins it next Spring.

Update 2006-07-08: The perfect song to mark the occasion!


Awkward Dates

I was eating Chinese with a friend in Munich. She said how annoying it was that we lived so far apart. I said I couldn't handle another long distance relationship - in fact, I wasn't looking for a relationship at all. I opened my fortune cookie and it said I'd meet my ideal partner soon. Awkward!

Recently, an internet friend and I decided to take the plunge and meet in person. We went to the pub at 1400 and got along very well. By 2200 we were in a different pub but we still hadn't eaten anything. She said something that I thought was a joke and I pulled a face in disgust. It was all very trivial but it didn't seem that way on an empty stomach... an hour later, we'd had our first argument!

Even in the heat of the moment we knew that drink and no food was making us act like idiots. But could we find a way out? Could we heck. So we took a break. I wrote a text message to Phil, saying how my day had gone a bit pear-shaped, but in my delirium I sent it to my date by mistake. Which didn't help. I'm happy to report that we got along just fine again once we'd sobered up, and have ever since.

See also: May 12, April 29 and June 24.