"You can tell trick-or-treat is an American tradition because there's the threat of hostile action if you don't get what you want."

- The Party Line by Steve Punt & Hugh Dennis (2006).



Dressing up was so much fun when we were young. So why do we stop? Some don't and I, for one, am not going to give them any shit for it.

Crazy 88.
Unknown blue-haired cat-girl.
Known girl in unknown costume.
Mischief on our booth.
It's not easy being green.
Affectionate trio.
This is just wrong.

Overheard At London Anime Expo

"Just because we pay you doesn't make you a professional!"

"Excuse me... I don't normally make a fuss but my 'parcel of salmon' is over-cooked. The pastry tastes like burned paper."
"It IS paper. You're supposed to unwrap it to get to the salmon."

"My other Dalek is blue and silver."

"Always mix genes if you want beautiful children."

"Why do you think so many females dress up at these shows but so few of them play our games?"
"Because they don't like using their brains!"

"I just saw Simon Pegg in the pub. I told him about the big area in the middle of the hall for Hot Fuzz and he said he thought he'd have a small table in a corner somewhere. He said I'd made him nervous."

I heard more funnies but I said most of them and I do so hate to brag.


Dead Good

It's been a pitiful summer for reading. I did Raymond Chandler's 400-page The Long Goodbye inside a week in July and promptly sat on my laurels. I've managed sixty pages of Our Man From Havana since. Pathetic!

I've made up for it with whole seasons of Rome, Twin Peaks, Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex, and The Sopranos. (Cleopatra is a junkie, James is an idiot, Togusa has a stand alone Don Johnson complex and Vito will survive - in that order). I'm one episode from the end of the first season of Deadwood and I can't believe I waited til it got cancelled to try it.

It’s the story of a town in the Black Hills, South Dakota: from its initial settlement due to gold rush (when most businesses still operated out of tents), through the process of annexation, to the fire that raized the town to the ground four years later. The meat of the drama is in the conflict between the ruthless entrepreneurs that have run the town since Day One and those with a more developed sense of justice and social order. Whose code of conduct will prevail? Unlike Rome, where the fascination lies in a society with rules very different to our own, in Deadwood there are no rules... yet.

The first thing I noticed about the ensemble cast is that everyone was speaking French. That’ll teach me to download things instead of paying for them. Seth Bullock has a crazy moustache in any language, yet not as crazy as his real-life counterpart! Many of the events and characters in the series are based on historical fact (a smallpox outbreak, Wild Bill Hickok); some are tweaked for dramatic effect (Bullock’s family situation, Calamity Jane); and others are completely fictional (what happens to Reverend Smith).

I got further on my second attempt and met Al Swearingen - an appropriate name for someone whose every fifth word seems to be "cocksucker". There are apparently 831 uses of the word "fuck" in the first season – 1.23 per minute on average!

Swearingen steals every scene. This is a real revelation because the British actor who plays him made his name here in the Eighties in a middle-of-the-road private detective show called Lovejoy. America got Magnum P.I. and we got an antiques dealer with a mullet tracking down missing vases for rich folk. So I never credited Ian McShane with much talent and I certainly didn’t think I’d ever have withdrawal symptoms when he wasn’t on screen.

Deadwood won seven Emmys in its first two years and McShane's performance got a Golden Globe last year. If you like your television bland then avoid Deadwood at all costs.


When The Levee Goes Nowhere

I saw my brother on Friday for the first time in four years. We can't remember exactly how long it was. His girlfriend and our mother ate out with us. There was an awkward half hour when we thought mum was drunk. But then she said her new medication made her feel like she wasn't really at the table talking to us and we felt like crooks for our earlier suspicions.

Terrorism came up in conversation, as did the current hot-button topic of Muslim women wearing veils. Not everyone in my family is as liberal as I am! Last month someone told a racist joke at my uncle's birthday party. Don't get me started on the guests at my aunt's funeral.

I gave my brother a disc of Led Zeppelin covers that was in my glove box. Some tracks are silly re-interpretations (one song to the tune of another, banjo time, etc.) but Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You does the business. Tea For One needs no new twist: it's the melody from Since I've Been Loving You played backwards with new lyrics anyway!

Today I saw that my brother had left his gift on the back seat of my car. I'd been driving along, thinking how odd it would be if he was driving and listening to the music at the exact moment that I was driving and thinking about him listening to it, and it was two feet away from me the whole time.


A Round With Alice

Yesterday was embarrassing. I woke up at five minutes to midday and Alice was due to arrive at midday. If you've ever been woken up by a fire alarm and tried to spring immediately into action then you know the feeling. I sent an S.M.S. to check her E.T.A. and, as if in reply, my door buzzer sounded. I was unwashed, unshaved and my flat was displaying the sum of a week's decadence. It was all I could do to move some dirty plates to the sink as she climbed the stairs.

So there we were: Alice, having driven ninety minutes to see me, and myself, having made no effort at all for her. The door opened. I was nano-seconds away from being shouted at in all the usual ways at for not appreciating my girlfriend. I braced for impact.

Alice gave me a hug, made us both coffee and said she'd use the internet while I took a bath and cleaned up. Huh? Wherefore the blaming, the whining and the guilt-trip? And then I remembered that it's 2006 and these days I'm dating a reasonable person who won't throw her toys out of the proverbial pram just because I've over-slept. (By its very nature, over-sleeping is accidental and not a pre-meditated act of uncaring.) We laughed about my emotional scars and got on with the day.



The day started with a sexual proposition from a complete stranger (a completely strange crack whore) on my way to the corner shop to buy milk. The area I live in has real character. But more about that later. We have so much to catch up on!

The milk was to make coffee for the broadband engineers: nice guys who called the sales manager who mis-managed this whole connection farce a cunt. The sales manager turned up and they called him a few other names to his face. I've been online and in shock for about an hour now.

While the installation disc was still spinning my boss called and gave me a performance-related bonus for the previous financial year and a "motivational" raise for now. I've had worse days!