Happy New Year to all. If that's your thing.
It's not mine, can't be arsed.
I shall be asleep, as I just about always am for the coming of the new year. Though last year I remember waking (in an EnZee motel) to the strains of "Dancing Queen" from down the hall. I went to the bathroom at just the moment that the room opposite started their countdown "5-4-3-2-1.. Happy Noo year!"
"Gosh," I thought," Awake for new year!"
Upon returning to the bedroom, however, I heard another party's countdown...5-4-3-2-1 etcetera. So, either I was in some kind of timewarp thing (quite common in Rotorua) or something else.
Not much of a story really is it?
Otherwise I have spent the day on two PC related projects. There's good and bad about Microsoft here. Let's start with the bad.
My laptop has developed a very interesting problem where it insists upon using up all the available CPU power on "system" tasks, thus slowing everything down considerably. I finally tracked the problem down to a "known issue" in XP service pack 1 (and laptops specifically). A permanent fix is due in service pack 2. In the meantime I've solved it by momentarily un-plugging the AC cord. I would love to know what coding nightmare created such a problem!!!
On the happy side I went and bought a firewire cable to enable some capture from a digital video recorder we have on loan. And I plugged it in to the camera and laptop and Windows XP correctly identified the camera and started recording the stuff to disc quicker than you could say Jick Ribinsin.
Though I suppose it's not really a happy story for Microsoft if I was shocked that this happenned so smoothly, is it?
Well, I've finally come to the end of my mammoth Soapbox A to Z. Though obviously that doesn't mean it's finished.
It just means I've uploaded Zee (or Zed). There's still something of a gap from E to Y. However, I thought someone proposing little bits of anarchy all over the place shouldn't get hung up about doing the alphabet in order.
So there it is.
Last night, as planned many weeks ago, we trotted off to see Lord of the
Rings part 2. I have to say I had mixed emotions, both anticipation
and dread (after the abysmal Harry Potter2).
The first film was, I thought, a pretty good adaptation of an overrated book, a thoroughly enjoyable yarn, though with far too little of the beautiful EnZee scenery on offer (and not a tree fern in sight, and they're everywhere let me tell you). We saw the "Fellowship" in a lovely old cinema in Wellington, NZ, last Boxing day with Zee's antipodean contingent - a party of ten I believe. And 'twas lovely to leave the cinema on a warm balmy evening and return for a drink out on the deck under the stars.
So, some trepidation as a mere nine of us set off this evening to the local multiplex to see part 2.
This one was much better than the first one. Much, much better! Still too long (less of the elf mythological bollocks please!) and Gollum reminded me so much of the execrable Dobbie that I kept expecting him to deliberately bang his head against a tree (naughty Gollum, naughty Gollum). But these are minor irritations. Legolas, that smug bastard of an elf (particularly in the book) turned into rather a cool dude ( best horse mounting ever and then skateboarding into battle just two of his achievements). Gimli was mainly there for comic relief but this was just about on the right side of bearable. And Aragorn (son of Arathorn), well what we can see about the lovely Aragorn (son of Arathorn)? He just is The Man, remaining the epitome of cool throughout (and however muddy and ragged he got, his beard remained neatly trimmed, what is his secret?).
And then there's the scenery, far more of a showcase of New Zealand's beauty this time. Though still not a tree fern in sight.
And then on to the pizza place next door. The food took ages but tasted good when it arrived. Young Kay had got to her slumped-from-lack-of-food stage by now but, as always, was back to her usual super animated state within minutes of the first slice of pizza sliding down her throat. The only slight fly in the ointment was the temperance waitress. When Zee asked for a second glass of red the waitress said "Another one? Are you sure." Zee's brother was suffering a similar problem as she kept trying to take his glass whilst it remained half full.
And then home to the Peter Cook tribute thing on the Beeb. Which didn't do the great man justice at all.
So, all behind us now.
Christmas day went pretty well at DKNZ towers with seven (DKNZ plus Zee's
ma and two brothers) for the main prezzie opening. The individual favourite
presents from the DKNZ four can
be found here.
For lunch we were joined by my parents and brother. The meal was a very
pleasant butter-nut squash with goats cheese combination and the carnivores
had some bits of a dead pig. There was also loads of wine so here's
a picture of the candelabra.
For reasons of digital imaging we might as well have left up the one with light bulbs since as far as you web reading folk are concerned there's no way you can tell they're real candles. So you'll just have to trust me when I tell you how nice it looked in reality.
We're used to phone calls from the other side of the world on Christmas day and as we had our usual conversation with New Zealand and Zee's step mother and half-brothers and sisters. But this year we also had a still more exotic call. Zee's father called from Baghdad where he is part of an anti-war alliance. Messages are being posted here.
Elsewhere, quite a commotion on the "Jesus Action Figure" front (as I'm sure you're all aware).
Some feel we should try him as a witch whilst others are more inclined towards saving him as a family heirloom. I have to say I can see the wisdom of both suggestions. I'd suggest we put it to a vote, but you know what I think of democracy.
So I'll sleep on it and let you know......
Zee brought home the obit from the Times. Apart from several salient factual inaccuracies it also had an email address for a "Were the Clash more influential than the Beatles?" poll.
For fuck's sake I know the Times has gone down market but even so!
From, as I might have guessed, my Lambeth born-Otleian/quasi Canadian friend Emm and his long suffering better-half, Ess. It's a serious toy for, I guess, parts of the world where the baby Gee is less well known. His place in the Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist faiths is mentioned with equal status as his position in the Christian one. The only obvious omission is where us Atheists stand on the old fellah.
Thanks guys for keeping me smiling on a day otherwise tinged with sadness, and our tree needed a Jesus action figure (with poseable arms and gliding action!) more than just about anything else. If you want one of your own try here, he's their number 1 selling item at the moment.
Penultimately, for today, I was discussing Joe Strummer's sad death with young Kay (10) adding how sad his two daughters must be to lose their dad. "Yes," she said, "I'd be sad if you died, even if you are a bit of a strange dad at times."
I'll take it as a compliment obviously.
Finally, seasons greetings to you all.
Peace, love and lots of little bits of anarchy.
Joe Strummer RIP.
What else can you say?
Tee broke the news to me this morning.
Shocked and stunned. What else to say?
A few Strummer moments that have thrown some light into my life.......
1978? at a Rock Against Racism/Anti-Nazi festival in Victoria Park(?) I saw the Clash live for the first time. The sound was appalling and Mick Jones was wearing pink trousers. We were miles away from the stage but there was still something very wow about Strummer. So much anger. So much energy.
The next one I can put a date to was on my 21st birthday, October 1981 with the Clash at the Lyceum in London. Two and a half hours of total energy, played at lightning speed, as ever. Still the best gig I have ever been to. Nothing else comes close.
Another jump forward takes us to 91/92 and a gig in Cambridge where Joe was standing in for Shane MacGowan. The best Pogues gig I ever saw. This was Zee's first ever gig, what an introduction to live music!
The last one is something I saw on TV a few months ago. Joe was talking about traveling economy class somewhere in Oz with his kids (and step-kids?). One had been ribbing him about being the big rock star from the Clash yet still having to fly economy. Minutes later the steward came down to him and confirmed that he was indeed Joe Strummer. The whole family were immediately upgraded to first class.
Anyway, thanks Joe.
I'm sure you're all already playing your Clash favourites as you do every day so I don't need to recommend any of my favourites. The Beeb appear to have found a slightly rarer clip than usual so that may be worth a look also.
Micro Chrsitmas Eve.
One more day of work.
Nano Christmas eve.
It's getting close isn't it? Young Kay is already worn out with the anticipation. What do they see in it?
Oh to have such un-cynical expectations.
Zee was unwell this afternoon and so, to keep them quiet for a couple of hours ,the girls and I watched Stuart Little 2. Not at all a bad film, I found myself watching rather than reading the paper as I had planned. The highlight, other than the lovely Gina Davis, was the unexpected appearance of the old Gilbert O'Sullivan song "Alone Again Naturally". The arrangement may be a bit cheesy but what an excellent lyric, never mind your Smiths this is a really dark depressing song. And maybe the chirpy arragnement is part of the joke.
Pico-Christmas eve tonight if I'm not mistaken.
The girls have finished school and can barely sit still with the antici-
pation of it all.
I don't remember being this excited about it when I was their age.
Strange, but nice to be energised by their excitement.
Is this great or what?
It's sitting here neatly in the palm of my hand and glowing green. And it's wonderfully tactile too.
How can anyone live without one?
Meanwhile on the Glenn Miller front I owe a thousand thanks to (in alphabetic order to avoid allegations of favourority) Shh, Ss and Tee. You're all winners morally even if I don't feel we've really got to the bottom of this. Nevertheless, thanks to Shh for the links, particularly the one which gives the "Glenn was killed by an allied bomb in a friendly fire incident" which I'd heard but couldn't find any reference to on the www. Moral victory also to Ss for knowing someone who plays in the tribute band that Miller's nephew set up (indeed a cool claim to fame!). Finally thanks to my old friend Tee for managing to associate it with Capricorn 1. Shame you didn't go one step further and get to the Trib.
I, in the meantime have returned to my work diary to find what it actually says for the 16th..... I quote "Glenn Miller reported missing". Note the word reported. I don't know about you but it takes me ages to write up a report of anything..... maybe he really went missing in July.
You all win an MP3 re-recording of my old Classic song "Glenn Miller's Missing".
As soon as I've recorded it.
And I'm starting this evening.
OK, I think I've just realised why I like Bluewater.
Look at the picture below (taken this morning).
Does it not remind you of the "other world" in the excellent "A Matter of Life and Death"? .............particularly now that I've greyscaled it.
My search for stills from the relevant scene has turned up this loverly collection but none are quite what I need to prove my point. But fear not I'll get back to you on this one.
Incidentally in the US the film was released as "Stairway to Heaven". Bizarre, eh?
This also sort of nicely links in with the Glen Miller subject of a couple of days ago. Wow!
I went Christmas shopping today in Bluewater.
Nice and airy, Bluewater, unlike it's Essex cousin just over the water at Lakeside.
And the shopping was pleasant too.
Or at least, un-crowded which is probably the best you can hope for.
Where is everybody?
Don't they know it's only seven days to go?
I just hope they're not planning on doing all their Christmas shopping in the early hours of Saturday morning in Sainsbury's. Coz that's when I'll be buying all the foodstuffs for the festive time..... and if there is a crowd I shall be cross.
You have been warned.
Anyway, whilst in Bluewater I walked into Burger King with the full intention of ordering a BK VeggieBurger now that PETA say we can. The trouble is I've always preferred their Spicy-Bean-Burger. So I had that instead. Hope that's OK too.
Very nice it was too.
Well as far as fast food goes, anyway.
Talking of fast food going, I see the golden arches of McDonalds may be starting to tumble with these announcements of a loss (tee hee).
So, my trusty work diary and it's dates from history is our savior again today. 1944, this day, Glenn Miller went missing. Vanished.....
Obviously not a Kennedy moment for me as I wasn't born. And I can't
say I really care for his music either..... but the
film starring the one and only Jimmy Stewart. Well, that's
another thing isn't it?
One of his best ( after "Harvey" and "Its a Wonderful Life", obviously).
Anyway, I digress, I did once write a song about Glenn Miller's status, but it's errr, missing (!)...... so here's the great Mud and their version of Miller's "In the Mood" (with, as Joe Strummer put it, guitars).
Now I clearly remember the caretaker at this hall saying that the thing he hated most was helium baloons stuck up at the ceiling.
But, other than the helium running out (which severaly limited the number of quasi-stratospeheric baloons), 'twas a good party.
the tree is inside now and the room smells loverly and piney as a result.
We're decorating it tomorrow apparently.
Here's the nice picture before it gets all dressed up like a dogs dinner. I like trees and am happy to see them in the house as much as anywhere else. But I think its a bit sad when you've cut them off from their roots (literally).
It puts me in mind of a story that was attributed to the late and great George Bernard Shaw.
He was known to be a great lover of flowering plants, yet when a friend visited
his house he found no evidence of such.
"Why no cut flowers, George, I thought you loved them?" the visitor enquired.
"I also love children, would you have me decapitate them and display their heads in a pot?"
That would be a good name for a film wouldn't it?
Yeah, yeah guys ( see yesterday's comments).
But the bear winks. Eh? EH?
CD's on the Kitchen Counter link now mended.
And only one of you even noticed it was broken!
Pah, to the rest of you (with love and kisses too).
With the family!
For 'twas the evening of the kids party for entrants to the company Safety
Christmas Card competition. As well as a slap up party meal, there was
a presentation of certificates, chox and a tenner for all the young entrants.
I reproduce young Dee's entry here, the picture of Kay's didn't come out too well.
Other than the chox (and the prize money) the highlight of the evening for
Zee and the girls was the plant tour. It was funny to take them to my
lab, and then round the rest of the plant (they particularly enjoyed the donning
of the hard-hats, high vis jackets and safety glasses which made them look
And I found my self explaining things I didn't even know I knew and saw things with new eyes again.
Hmmm very pleasant.
And you thought I was an old cynic.
School play tonight.
No, don't groan.
It was four stories from around the world. So much better than all the boring old Christmas stories of yore. We had Russian, Indian, Native American and African. My favourite, apart obviously from Kay as a very elegant dancing water carrier, was the Bollywood influenced "Eyes of the Peacock".....in which we learnt how the haughty peacock gained it's eye-like spots (he upset the sun-king's daughter and her tears stained the peacock's feathers for ever).
So now you know.
Another Kennedy moment guys.
And less controversial than the last, I hope (though I didn't realise the last one was going to cause such pandemonium). Today we sadly find ourselves at the 22nd anniversary of the death of John Lennon.
I had just woken up with a call to breakfast by old friend Tee. "Oh, and John Lennon's dead," is my re-collection of how he put it.
But I could be wrong.
I'm sure he'll put me right if I am.
Anyway, remember Lennon, I'll not complain if you've only got a Beatles track. Though do try to avoid the Macca ones for tonight, eh? "I Feel Fine" was my choice. I did mp3 it for you but thought again, surely you've all got at least one Lennon song?
morning we spent nearly an hour buying the Christmas tree (along with everyone
else in East London apparently. And then this afternoon drove down to
Surrey to party on down with my parents, bro, sis and her children.
So, a house full.
The kids (5 of them, though Dee points out she wasn't involved this time) managed to break another bed by, presumably, excessive bouncing. I blame the television as they'd three minutes earlier been watching Tom & Jerry.
Both my mother and sister admitted breaking beds in their youth so maybe it's a family tradition. Then my father calmly announced that "They're kids, it's broken, we'll get it fixed, let's move on." I don't remember him being quite so calm thirty years ago as I trashed my way through my early years. Nevertheless, bed destruction aside, a very pleasant birthday party for our young Kay, my sister's eldest, Aitch, and my ma herself who we shall have to call Dubya. Though I'm certain a good old Ingerlish liberal such as her will hate even this slight association with El Presidente.
One for the other old punks out there.
This afternoon we spent a very pleasant time with some friends and their beautiful baby. I happened to mention that Dee had been singing along to the Pistols "Pretty Vacant" the other day without even realising it herself. I was delighted the way in which this music had implanted itself in her brain. "Aha," said my friend Sh, "I've already started on young Ae (3 months old). He then produced a copy of the superb "Punk Rock Baby" CD. Punk classics arranged as lullabies. Here's a bit of Pretty Vacant.
Excellent or what? Let's face it Lydon still gets the royalties so I bet he doesn't care (still!).
A scary day for me today.
Dee had arranged to use her day off school to go into town to do some "shopping" with her friends. How exactly they managed to fill four and half hours in our very small shopping Mall I have no idea.
But there were no mishaps, and this is her first time on such a trip unaccompanied by adults. So good news, I guess. But, it is already being used as a further reason for us to buy her a mobile phone.... so she can keep us updated of her whereabouts at all times on such trips, of course.
Hmmm, and when she's seventeen I can see similar stories being used to get us to buy her a car.
Dream on, Dee.
Hurrah! It's Friday.
Well, sort of.
As thanks to two enforced days off school for the girls I've finished for the week.
But the scandal for the day involves the rules of hopscotch.... I knew it
wouldn't be as simple as I thought.
You see, Zee got home and I told her that I, a boy, now knew the rules of hopscotch. "Well, no," she replied, "You don't, as it isn't that simple." There then followed an argument between Zee and young Kay as the rules of hopscotch. Kay's closing argument was that, "This is how it's played nowadays, so there." It has to be said that Zee's version was a lot more complicated. So, I conclude that, in common with GCSEs and A-levels, hopscotch has got easier since Zee and I were young.
dark when we get home so Kay has not yet been able to use her big chalks for
Never mind, now that hopscotch is in her head she's not going to let that stop her.
So, we can now unveil the DKNZ®™ insidey-hopscotch kit. Perfect for those rainy and dark winter evenings. Can be assembled in minutes and flat-packed for ease of storage.
And, as a bonus for me, I now know that which most boys do not.
Yep, I know the rules of hopscotch.
I have even partaken of a quick game.
On a sadder note, "Six Feet Under" series 2 finished last night. This will leave a big hole. Though maybe it's started tailing off a bit lately it has been one of the best things on TV for more years than I care to remember. I really don't recall the last time a TV series so reliably managed to wow me, to entertain me and to leave me thinking at the end of each episode.
After much consideration I can only come up with Survivors, and that was nearly thirty years ago when I was a young and impressionable boy. Wow.
Half of the fun of the DKNZ®™ advent calendar is, of course, the antici-
And the not so secretive poking, feeling and guessing on the identity of the presents.....
"This one's a bracelet, or some jam,"
"No, this one's a book but maybe pizza."
Well, sometimes they guess right.
Today's package for Kay was some gi-normous chalks for pavement chalking......for hopscotch and other such games (are there any other such games?) ..... anyway does such pavement marking count as graffiti?
amazingly, the girls had forgotten all about advent calendars and it being
the first of December.
It was a complete surprise to them this morning (which was nice!). This may have something to do with the fact that we didn't do one last year as we were away down-under for most of December. So we probably could have got away without it this year, but after all as Shh (everyone get's their named abbreviated here!) says (with a smile), "They're spoiled rotten". Well, maybe a bit sometimes but they didn't have a great start. Nevertheless the advent calendar is definitely a beast that has taken on a life of it's own.
The first Christmas the girls were with us we wanted it to be special, obviously. Zee had seen this little advent calendar with pockets to put little prezzies in.
So we ordered it.
But it didn't arrive in time and we'd already bought lots of small things. So Zee came up with the idea of stringing stuff against the French windows.... and it looked nice, and they loved it. So the next year we did it again, but the presents were a bit bigger in size. And so here we are, on the fourth DKNZ Christmas and some of those prezzies are bleeding heavy! If it carry's on at this rate I can see motorbikes hanging there within a few years.
Though still only trinkets, a mixture of hair stuff and excellent little toys from Hawkins Bazaar. Previously we've bought two of everything so there would be no arguments. The only downside was that they soon sussed this out and would be working out which days they were going to get the bouncy ball etcetera. So this year we've varied it a bit.....
Today 'twas Dee's turn, and this is what she got.