The Bleurg Archive - September 2002

Sunday 29th September:

Good to see normal service resumed for yesterday's anti-war march.  Police and organiser estimates of marchee numbers differed by 200,000.  The reason for total numerical agreement on last week's Conservatives Anonymous march remains a mystery to all but us old cynics.

Saturday 28rd September:

Status Quo are the most successful British band of all time.  'twas on "Today" this morning and if John Humphrey's says it's true then it must be.  I saw Quo once, '78 or '79 probably, as part of a deal with a friend of my old friend Tee.  The show started with dry ice and bedenimmed legs astride to the opening bars of "Caroline".  The problem is that it didn't really go anywhere from there.  It was all a bit one dimensional, and, I believe, still is.  Which is fine I suppose, and it might even be the point of it.

Elsewhere in the world of music we have the news that the iPod is now available for Windows users too.  For a mere £329 I can have 2,000 songs at my fingertips wherever I go, just like all those Mac people (though none that I know own an iPod).  Tracks that wouldn't be included include those from the kathryn williams (lower case obviously) sampler cd that came free with today's Grauni.  If there was to be a typical 30/40-something Guardian reader muzac soundtrack album then this would be it.  Please, I'd even rather have the Quo.

Finally, Dee's birday list includes a horse (well she is eleven and despite everything we do remains consumed by such stereotypical yearnings) and  a selection of CDs from SClub Juniors (NO) to, at the other end of the spectrum, Bon Jovi.  I think the Bon Jovi thing is more to do with the fact that Jon is a hunky, slightly rough-looking rocker, rather than the music, but I could be wrong.  This brings to mind the ruminations of Andy McClusky (formerly of OMD) on manufactured pop bands.  The synth pioneer behind Atomic Kitten (also on Dee's list incidentally) suggested that his next plastic band will be boys as you don't need to worry about the tunes as much as you do with a girl band. 


Thursday 26th September:

So, guess who didn't even get a mention, let alone a prize in the Grauni's Best British Blog comp

Congratulations to the winner and all others.   I'm not going to come up with any of that "we're all winners" claptrap as we're clearly not.  But it doesn't mean we're all losers either (fortunately they didn't actually rate all 300 of us in order.... imagine being second from bottom!).

Tuesday 24th September:

"All my life's a Circle," sang the New Seekers (it was pre-punk and I was young, OK).  Generally all that comes around stuff is not for me, I'm more a sort of "Tomorrow belongs to me," type person (though without the Nazi overtones, obviously*).  But, today its the circle thing in a small but perfectly formed type way..  Way, way back in the early mists of this Blog (July) I covered the Mike Batt versus John Cage "who wrote the silence" thing.  Well, today's Grauni informs me that old Mikey has settled with the John Cage Trust, with a six figure sum being talked of.  So, looks like Cage's 1952 piece 4'33" was more than just an inspiration for Batt's simpler one minute of silence.  
Perhaps all composers need to be careful of leaving any long gaps in their compositions lest the John Cage Trust claim a piece of their royalties too?

Still, I like a story with  a happy ending (remember, he may have been a womble but he's a Tory too! ).


* On singing the song a bit more, I've decided it's hard to ignore the Nazi overtones, so strike any references of the song to me. OK.  Maybe I should stick to the New Seekers after all.


Monday 23rd September:

So, did you feel the earth move last night then?  
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, bloddy ha. 
Did everyone you know ask you this? 
Did you punch them all? 
Why not? 
Oh, you're a pacifist too.  Fair enough. 
The Beeb is telling me that it (the earthquake, not the shite attempts at humour) upset animalsfar more than people and that a minkey at Twycroft Zoo has gone up to the top of the cage and won't come down (until the flm crew find a better story, presumably, and I'm with the ape here, is there really no bigger news story?).  And yes, I know that apes and monkeys are different species.

The Beeb Online meanwhile, unable to find any monkeys, has gone for the chimney angle.   Apparently "Part of a chimney fell onto a car near Birmingham" and also "Another chimney smashed in Bloxwich, West Midlands".  
I can't really carp, however, as I couldn't think of anythng to write about today either. .

Saturday 21st September:

"My God it's full of stars.."

Part 1.
Zee brought home this new tablecloth.  "My god, its full of stars!" I said. And, as you can see, it is.
But, she didn't get the quote.
Who does?
And is this constant phrasing of mine naff?
If it was "Fast Show" or even "Monty Python" skits it would be incredibly so.  As it happens its usually pop songs (though hip stuff obviously!).  Today it just happened to be a film. And I just can't help it. I see a tablecloth covered in stars and out it comes. I don't think "Stars, Astronomy, Films, Sci-fi, 2001." Do I?

Part 2.
You'll remember the set-to with Buzz Aldrin and the cynical Bart Sibrel, referred to here a week or so ago.  Well, the latest from the Beeb is that all American hero Buzz has been let off.  Apparently video evidence showed that Bart had poked the 72 year old astronaut with a bible.  Provocation enough, apparently. 

Thursday 19th September:

In recognition of the Bradfordonians and their very welcome noo Embassy en Londres, I hereby reproduce a little map I constructed for my Canadian cum Otley (its near t' Leeds) friend Em when he first came to work at t' refinery.  You see, the thing is, no matter where you draw the Norf/Saff divide there'll always be a Brummie or a Mancie or a Geordie or a Cumberlie, a Scot, a Shetlander, a Viking or an Eskimo who says "You call that Northern?  Pah, I'm from the North, laddie!" 
So once and for all here's the Noo Economist Southern weighted map of Engerland and the rest........

Must go now, Zee's off to watch "Bargain Hunt" followed by "Changing Rooms" and her viewing experience is greatly enhanced by my running commentary.

As you can imagine.

Wednesday 18th September:

Now, most seem to have greeted the news that the "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" is to be made into a film with unbridled glee.  The team includes the director of "Austin Powers" and the writer of "Chicken Run"..... I suppose it could have been worse.  For instance, Memetic life tells us that a few years ago the story was in the mousey clutches of Disney! 
But I remember hearing the late'n'great Douglas Adams himself on t'radio a few year'n back saying that the film-makers wanted him to change the ultimate answer. 
"Forty two is a bit lame," they had told him.

So I hope you understand my fears.

...... and I still have nightmares about the BBC TV version. 

Somehow the low cost production budgets that seemed OK with Dr.Who and Blake's 7 finally showed their true worth with "Hitchhikers". Always excepting Rod Lord's   excellent animation sequences for the Book. 

These self same animations are available as a Hitchhikers Screensaver and I hope that a dedicated Mac aficionado such as Douglas Adams would have enjoyed the irony that they're only available for the Windows platform.

Sunday 15th September:

This morning I came downstairs to find Kay watching (for a second before her ever itchy finger switched channels) an old Doctor Who episode. 
"Ah, Doctor Who!" I said.
"Doctor who?" she replied.  Yes but, hilarity aside, she didn't know who Dr. Who was.  This is bad enough but what if a Dalek comes to the door? Eh?  She wouldn't know whether to let it in (perhaps to sort out the plumbing) or to politely ask it to go away.
I am a deeply worried man.

Anyway, Daleks. 
I've always wanted one you know.  
Lurking in a corner to occasionally come out with witticisms like "Children who mess up the sitting room will be exterminated". 
I think that sort of thing would help. 

The internet is, you'll not be surprised to learn, full of sites about Daleks. 
And how to build them. 
From paper (small scale)
Or MDF (life size).
Or maybe try a few scary minutes at the Dalek Builders Club
Nerdy, but one day I might just have to give it a go.
There doesn't appear to be any insight as to suppliers of the real weaponry though (other than the sink plunger).

Friday 13th September:

It's true! 
Spider's legs keep moving after removal from the spider!
And it's not that I remember this from a misspent youth (do kids really do that sort of thing?).  No, I've just seen it happening outside our front door ( Aar, 'tis a wonderful adventure jest waiting to happen outside your own front door.) 
Previously, I'd thought it just one of those tales, like chickens running around after decapitation, cock-roaches crawling about for weeks after bisection and Tories breeding for generations after their brains have been removed (ooh-err political satire).

But no. 
For a
s  I left the house to take Kay swimming, I noticed a wasp wrestling with something on the ground.  Closer inspection showed it to be the remains of a spider.  And nearby several of the spider's legs were flexing too and fro. 
Spooky, in a way. 
But wonderful, in another.

Sadly its a day too late for Dee's science homework...."write down 10 things scientists do".   Well, there's number 11.    Watch detached spider legs amble across the path.

Thursday 12th September:

Today we must, I'm afraid, return to the long running saga of the faked moon landings (see 12th August).  Courtesy of the ole Grauni we learn that, after being asked to swear on the bible that he really had been to the moon, Buzz Aldrin (now 72) allegedly punched young Bart Sibrel.  Bart believes no-one has ever walked on the moon.  

Now, my favourite  Sibrel reason as to why the moon landings were fakes, and I paraphrase here, is "Because Nixon was president at the time".   This is good, I like his style.  Tricky Dicky was a liar and a cheat and therefore everything that went on during his tenure must have been fake. 

Now, even such an ardent conspiracy theorist such as I, find this one a bit too far fetched.  Probably.

Tuesday 10th September:

Shock, horror!!!  My Venables-loving Canadian mate Em has got it right at last!
He had previously recommended The Doves Album, "The Last Broadcast"  and I bought it.  I played it twice and have no inclination to re-visit.  Last year it was the Radiohead albums, you know the Jazz funk electro-pop crap ones. Before that it was "Hurricane #1" (where are they now?), "The Seahorses" (ditto) and "The GasBoard" (or something).  In the meantime, he had ignored my recommendations of The Strokes, The Hives, The White Stripes, The Vines, The Electric Soft Parade etcetera, etcetera. 

So, after he recommended the new Coldplay album you'll understand when I say I had a creepy feeling of deja vu as I handed over £9.99, trudged home then delicately placed the shiny little disc on the kitchen CD player.

But its really rather good.  Rather good indeed.

So expect to see it in the virtual CDs on the kitchen Counter very soon.  It gained inclusion so early into this halloed little pile was by way of the fact that it was excellent to cook by.  For completists I should add that whilst it played this evening I was preparing smoked salmon with creme fraiche, dill & spiralli (gorgeous if I say so myself), whilst the girls (who don't like smoked salmon-oh dear!) had some not at all bad veggie cumberland sausages.  Kay smeared hers with Orange Tomato Ketchup (even worse looking than it sounds, if you haven't yet succumbed).

Monday 9th September:

Anyone who read my DKNZ do the Grand Union piece may have obtained the impression that narrow-boating is a courteous and relaxing (maybe even boring) pastime. 
Well, so did I. 
Zee cut this item from today's Metro (I know, but its free and it lasts a couple of stops on the toob) to change our pre-conceptions for ever.....

Saturday 7th September:

So today is our 11th wedding anniversary. 

Everyone knows that the first anniversary is paper, the 25th silver and the 13th jam, but less well known is the fact that the 11th is rubber, oh yes. 
No, its not going to get kinky. 
Tyres.  That's what I bought.  Two brand new tyres  for the car.  And what better present than the family's safety could I give?

For the evening celebration we went, with the girls, our to see "Spy Kids 2".  Then, when we got home Zee and I watched "Chocolat".   Not, I hasten to add, on Sky Movies (though it was showing there).  No, we watched it from the video which Zee received as a valentines day present (though from whom we don't know!).  Nevertheless, we wouldn't have got around to watching it on video had it not been on Sky, as a reminder to us of its existence.  This happens, a lot, I hasten to add.  We buy each other videos then forget about them until they show up on TV.  
But, we must return to my account of the evening's viewing.   Whilst "Spy Kids 2" was not at all a bad film (indeed compared to some of the other kid-aimed fare out at the moment I think it was a positive diamond), I still preferred "Chocolat".  Indeed I enjoyed "Chocolat" much more than I expected.  And not just because it acted as a prequel to "The Matrix" for Carrie-Anne Moss's character (let's face it, we all wanted to know what happened to her before she started hacking into Keanananu's life).  But this aside, why would I not like it?  Its a film about a rebel turning a little town upside down, its about passion, its about the hypocrisy of the church, wanderers finding a home, Johnny Depp stumbling through a cod-Irish accent worse than my own (BeJaysus!) and finally its about chocolate. AND our recent four days on a narrow boat obviously helped me to really identify with the Johnny Depp"river rat" character (like I need anything else to help me identify with someone as cool as Jay Dee).
By the way, don't go to the official Chocolat website until after you've seen the film.  Apart from the usual excess of Flash ( which only makes sense if you've seen the film), it's rust a leetle pretentious. 
Of most interest on the site is the certification: PG13 with the inscription "A scene of sensuality and some violence".  I really like the attention to detail in the "A scene of sensuality".


Some days ago, I announced that everyone knows that A-levels were hardest in 1982.  Zee has just brought it to my attention that this is when she did hers (and not when I did mine).  So I've done a little more research and found out that actually degrees were hardest in 1982 but A- levels were hardest in 1979.  Sorry for any confusion.

Friday 6th September:

So, at last, a manic commenter! 
A friend, who we shall call Geeezer, obviously has even more spare time than me.  He has, in one sitting, commented nearly entry.  Which is what its all about, isn't it?  A shiny, interactive, global village, hippy-tree-huggy type wonder to behold.   Something our grandchildren will talk about in hushed tones of awe*.  

Or, hopefully it will be once the site spreads a bit further than from Norf East to Saff East London.  As an added incentive, I would mention that the Geeezer tells me that as he clicked to enter the site all the fire alarms in the building went off. Whilst I can't yet guarantee such a dramatic effect every time, I am working on the code.

* You've heard the John Wayne "Awe" story haven't you?  John is playing the Centurion in the epic "The Greatest Story Ever Told". 

"Truly that was the son of God." he says.
"No, John.  Say it with awe." shouts the director.  So they shoot the scene again and Mr Wayne emits the immortal line:
"Aw, truly that was the son of God."

Thursday 5th September:

That's more like it!  Today I get home and find Dee sitting at the table, on the phone to one of her friends.  Before six o'clock! 
The thought that this is the start of those teenage rebellious years is knocked on the head when a simple, "Not too long please, Dee," is sufficient to make her hang up straight away.  And then on to her homework.  Today it's science, specifically safety in the science lab.  "And you should know the answers, Dad, because you're a sort of scientist, aren't you, you're a microbiologist." 

Oh, yes.  A sort of scientist.  I think that probably sums it up. 

I'm a sort of scientist.

Must remember that next time we have to re- write our job descriptions.


Wednesday 4th September:

So, back to school today for the girls (though Dee had a couple of hours yesterday as she's just started secondary school and they let the noo kids in a day early).  So what's changed since my day?  Well, both were really looking forward to it.  As if this heinous crime was not enough, I get home to find Dee and a friend doing homework at the kitchen table (on their own! why aren't they having a party?).  Some of it isn't even due in until next week.  So why are they doing it now?

Kids of today, eh?

But it's not just kids the country over that are returning to educayshun.   Oh ,no.   I received this pickerture from a work colleague who we shall call, Dr See.  Long suffering readers from the days of the p.l.a. and NHM fanzines will, I 'm sure, recognise our old friend, Geraldo the Dolphin.
For those unaware of Geraldo's rich and tapestried past, fear not, I shall be excavating the archives and giving them the old multi-media treatment very soon indeed.  Anyway, as you can see, Geraldo is embarking on a spell in the halloed halls of higher education.  Now, who dares to say that A-levels aren't getting easier?  (Fact: A-levels were hardest in 1982).

Tuesday 3rd September: A Tale of two Caulis

£1.79 each for these two organic cauliflowers.  Yet, as you can see, once the greenery was removed one was considerably smaller than the other.  Apart from the disparity and near starvation in our household when I tried to make a meal for five out of these two specimens (luckily Kay won't eat cauliflower, because although it's not green it looks a bit like broccoli which IS green, durh), my question is to just who makes the money? 
Its rhetorical, we all know it's Sainsburys.

Monday 2nd September:

Being cast adrift (see DKNZ do the Grand Union) obviously left more of a scar than I thought.  About 1:30 of the a.m. and suddenly I'm wide awake.
"Where are we moored?"
"Is the boat moving?"
Why is it so dark?"
It seemed an age before I sussed out that I was no longer on a boat but back home (which is why it was so dark, I like Blitz-blackout conditions for maximum sleepability).  Too late, I was wide awake and my brain was leaping from one thing to another.  A mere hour of fitfull turning later, I decided to find a sleeping tablet (though I'm not normally a fan of such things).  So I get up and start rummaging in the wardrobe, searching by feel lest I wake Zee. 
Too late, too loud.
"En! What on earth are you doing?"she asks.
"Looking for a sleeping tablet"
"Thank Gawd, I thought you'd gone mad and were trying to hide in the cupboard."
The disturbing aspect of the conversation is not that she thought I might have gone mad (it could happen to anyone).  No, it was the casual manner in which she broached the subject, as though she were just saying "I thought you'd gone across the road for a paper."

Sunday 1st September:

So, today's the day for Zee, Dee and 24,988 other women and girls.  For 't'is the Flora 5K today.  The tube station at Knightsbridge was coping amazingly well with tens of thousands extra passengers and after saying our goodbyes to Zee & Dee, Kay and I walked along to the starting line to be confronted by a face I recognized in a golf cart.  None other than Cherie Booth.  Oh, yes Booth, not Blair.  For the race was to be started by the honourable QC and women's rights campaigner (not to be confused with the visually similar 'umble little wife of Saint Tony).  Smiling and waving as ever but with very little security she tootled up to the start, pressed the button and then pootled off again. 
It took just over fifteen minutes for the last starters to cross the start line, at about the same time as the winning spot was being claimed.  Now I was going to put in the winners name but several web searches have yielded no results.  25,000 women run for 1,700 different charities round Hyde Park (making it the third biggest race in the country apparently) and not a single mention on the WWW. 
I hope the traditional media does better.

Both Zee and Dee easily completed the event, finding it much easier than some of their training runs due to the volume-forced slow pace on some stretches.  Having seen the "goody bags" that all finishers acquired Kay showed some interest in running next year.  These bags do indeed have an interesting selection of post race treats.  The medal and tee-shirt obviously, with also a bottle of water and various choc-bars and crisps.  Just what you need. 
But then came the malt loaf, wheaty snax and Dolmio pasta sauce.  Where was the primus stove to whip up that post finish snack?  I'm sure Calor Gaz would have happily added their name to the list of sponsors.


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