Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Sizzle and Urrrrrrrrgh

Our cooker packed up tonight. Luckily, this was after Gilly had cooked us both an awesome Thai curry (Tip - try Loyd Grossman's sauces...top stuff). Still, when Andy went to use it there was a rather nasty sizzle under one of the hob dials followed by acrid smoke and melting plastic. Then the damn thing got jammed on. So we had to switch the oven off completely. Methinks Jacksons will be getting a call tomorrow. Wonder how long it will take them to get it fixed? EDIT- I have been asked to point out that the cooking of a delicious meal and the disintegration of our hob's controls is purely coincidental, and has absolutely NOTHING to do with the cook.

The search for a new house continues. How hard can it be to find a 4-bedroom house for £1500-1800 a month, less than 2 miles from the centre? Very, actually. We've got just over a month and a half to do so.

Watched National Treasure tonight, a fairly enjoyable throwaway flick with Nicholas Cage and Sean Bean. This has to be only the second action film I've seen where Sean manages to make it to the end credits still drawing breath, so congratulations to him. It was certainly a nicely rounded family film, with the emphasis on family. This was strictly Walt Disney kid-friendly PG material, with little action and none of the mediocrity that has accompanied the glut of 12A-rated mildly gore-filled action films hitting the big screen recently. In fact, it was quite refreshing. Cage seemed a little untested though, he works far better when he has a more complex character to deal with. In a linear Indy-lite role, he could have quite easily sleepwalked through the entire thing, but thankfully he did try and put a bit of effort in. The end result was a farly forgettable, but fun, two-ish hours. I've still not seen Sahara, but I've heard that it is pretty similar - will be taking a look soon.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Monday Lunch

Bank Holiday Monday roasts seem to be turning into a regular thing. At the start of the month I cooked myself and Gilly a superb joint of beef with all the trimmings (I forgot the gravy though...), and today I went for garlic chicken. I did cheat a little though, and buy the chicken pre-cooked from Tesco, but it was soooooo good. And I remembered the gravy. So, Brownie points all round. What exactly did people do with Brownie points anyway? Could you cash them in at the Brownie shop? Or are they as meaningful as the points on Whose Line Is It Anyway? I do wonder.

In the evening (after a rather manic Bushido lesson, where I learnt the Geri Waza, and also learnt how to turn around. No, seriously...) we headed to the local quiz. This is at the Kings Arms just up the road, and the last time we went, Andy and I picked up a cracking £40 for winning. I say winning, but half of the answers came from Google on my phone. This time we won again, but only £20 - split between 5 of us. It's all about picking the right envelope at the end. If only I had some x-ray specs, then I could cheat at that too. Note that I do not feel even slightly guilty about cheating to win this quiz. This is because everyone in the pub does it - some more blatantly than others. One woman sat no more than 10 feet away was bellowing one of the questions down the phone to her husband. Shame he didn't know the answer...

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Lost? I certainly am.

So, the build up to the Lost finale was all about a.) what is in the hatch and b.) whether the whole raft idea will work. This is what we found out:

a.) A big hole
b.) No.

As season finales go, I don't think I've seen one that actually made me swear at the screen before. It's so damn frustrating. I get the feeling that if J.J. isn't careful, he's going to end up with another version of The Prisoner, complete with people hurling abuse over the incredulity of the ending. Only, this is the 21st Century, so instead of the British public writing strongly-worded letters to the television broadcaster and Mr. McGoohan, someone will probably just pop a cap in J.J's ass. I guess that would be one way to escalate the show to cult status...although I maintain that it deserves that anyway, as it is easily one of the best character-driven shows I've seen Babylon 5.

Now we've got to wait until Autumn for the next series. In fact, the only thing worth starting soon worth watching is the 4400. It's going to be a lean summer.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

I'll have a tub of salt with that, please.

Hey hey Alias fans, looks like another long wait to find out the next insane twist. Who is Vaughn? Since everyone in the damn show appears to be related, I'm going to guess he is Sydney's brother. That would be hysterical. It's one of those shows that isn't quite comedic, but is too ridiculous to take seriously. It's quite an unfortunate balance really, at least 24 plays it straight all the way through. Alias is an enjoyable spy pastiche but too many episodes appear to be making the show into the joke, rather than keeping it at an arm's length "knowing nod". It seems to be turning into a caricature of itself. The first two series were utterly gripping...but it seems to have lost it since then. Zombie water and memory implants? Floating red balls and more spy sisters than a Cold War convent? Mmmm.

Went shopping with Gilly for our forthcoming Grecian excursion. Man, it's going to be scorching. I'm going to fry. I spent a stupid amount on holiday clothes but was redeemed when a flurry of bids on my mobile phone in the dying minutes bumped the final price up to £85. Smashing. I love eBay.

Friday, May 27, 2005

1 day, 16 hours and 56 minutes...

...and my auction ends. Not a single bid - not even a single person watching. This is a £150 phone being sold for £29.99, people! What do you want, the moon on a stick? Is it GREEEEEEN jelly? Don't forget, you can drink your weak lemon drink now, or save it for later! Whilst I'm safe in the knowledge that most of you reading this think I may not be 100% compos mentis at least Rick will understand my "Fist of Fun" references. Where would the world be without Simon Quinlank?

It is Friday, and it is a bank holiday weekend. This means two things - 1.) I'm slightly inebriated, and 2.) Gilly will be coming to visit tomorrow. Luckily, her train doesn't arrive until half eleven, so I've got a lovely lie-in to enjoy, much to her chagrin. Ah well, I have to cope with such things, thus is the burden of Rob.

I have both Lost and Alias ready to view. The question is whether I can stay awake to watch them tonight or whether I should admit defeat and try tomorrow.

I'll give Alias a shot, but first...I need to brush my teeth.


Thursday, May 26, 2005


It turns out that the 60s was a pretty dull era. I've obviously been spoilt by the modern technology of the current age, because after watching the very first episode of Doctor Who (100,000 BC), I came away feeling like I'd lost an hour and a half of my life. Maybe kids loved it because they could put off bathtime for half an hour longer, I really don't know. But it was shockingly bad. And not in a nostalgic "Ahh, so bad it's good" sense either. William Hartnell certainly captured the quirky essence of the Doctor, but that is about as much praise as I'm going to bestow.

Next stop on the Who tour - The Daleks. 161 minutes over 7 episodes. I'm not sure I'll be able to last the distance. At least the theme tune rocks.


Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Utterly Incredible

Words really don't do justice the Liverpool team of tonight's victory in the Champions League final. 3-0 down at half-time, most would have written their chances of winning. It would have been a brave man putting on a bet at William Hill for them to win after 45 minutes. Brave, or lacking in sense. But they came onto the pitch, and they battled their hearts out, and clawed back those three goals. And when it came to the moments that mattered - the inevitable penalty shoot-out - they showed the true class and grit that has pushed them, round after round, through this competition. Dudek's antics on the goal-line were sensational, both in the match itself (denying two shots from Shevchenko with incredible reaction saves) and in the shoot-out, where he emulated Grobelaar's 1984 wobbly-legs shenanigans and added his own flapping style to put off Serginho. Awesome stuff. Will Steven Gerrard stay? He hinted at it...what can Chelsea offer that Benitez can't provide? One season, one European cup. If the lad has sense, he'll be staying put. The only Special One is the one currently residing at Anfield. And we (permanently) have the trophy to prove it. Will UEFA let Liverpool defend the trophy next season? How can they not? The competition would become a mockery if the winners couldn't try to hold on to their title as European Champions. I'm sure something will get thrashed out, Mr. Blatter is unpopular enough already without having another mauling by the English press (and fans) to deal with.

An exhausting night, but a memorable one. I'm glad I stayed in to watch the match. Liverpool seem to do better when I don't go to the pub. I was in when we beat Alaves 5-4 for the Cup Winners Cup, and I was out when Liverpool lost to Chelsea in the Carling Cup. Superstitions are build on such coincidences. For those that don't get spammed with this stuff, I'll share with you some more coincidences for the curious:

1978:- Liverpool won the European Cup.

- Wales won the Grand Slam
- The Pope died.

1981:- Liverpool won the European Cup.

- Prince Charles married.
- There was a new Doctor Who.
- Ken and Deidre from Coronation Street married.
- Norwich and Crystal Palace got relegated.
- Liverpool won 17 games and came 5th in the league.

2005:- Liverpool won the European Cup.

- Wales won the Grand Slam
- The Pope died.
- Prince Charles married.
- There was a new Doctor Who.
- Ken and Deidre from Coronation Street married.
- Norwich and Crystal Palace got relegated.
- Liverpool won 17 games and came 5th in the league.

Also, every European Cup victory for Liverpool has been them in red playing the opposition in white. Guess what colours the teams wore tonight...

I love stuff like this. It's so subjective, but so fascinating.

You'll never walk alone. Not on today's streets, anyway.

Sweet dreams.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The longest 8 months of my life...

Season 5 of 24 was picked up today and rightly so. Whilst the ending of the 4th season was a little less satisfying than I'd hoped, it still made for great viewing and I was happy to see a bit more political intrigue to counter all of the blam-blam-boom-"PUT YOUR WEAPON DOWN" shenanigans of the previous ... umm ... 23 hours. Sherri was definitely missed. And I'm even warming to Chloe. What a team Edgar and her make.

Chloe - "Run a correlation matrix."
Edgar - "What good would that do?"
Chloe - "Just do it, Edgar!"

Tap tap tap tap.

Edgar - "I told you it wouldn't work!"
Chloe - (snort, withering glare) "That's because you didn't EXPAND THE PARAMETER!"

Now Edgar, surely everyone knows that you have to EXPAND THE PARAMETER when running a correlation matrix? Ya know, so that you can...correlate...on a wider...scale? Sigh. Such a rookie. This level of meaningless technobabble is one of the reasons I love 24 so much. "Quick, let's insert some random computing terms here to fool the dumb-ass public (naming no nationalities here) who will be impressed, whilst simultaneously not caring what was said!" Genius. They must have pulled some of the scriptwriters off the Star Trek sets. I was just gagging for Jack to scream at Chloe to power up the triilithium crystals, whilst Edgar sat shaking his head mumbling "It cannae be done, sir." For all its foibles though, 24 rocks. But I haven't been as excited about the season finale quite as much as I have for my new love - Lost. Two glorious hours of...more questions and head-scratching await on Thursday. Will the jungle version of ED209 make an appearance? What's in the hatch? Will the raft end up turning round and getting dumped back on the island? Will a host of polar bears come and eat everyone? I can't wait.

All of this covered the fact that the last episode of Revelations ended with all the excitement of an hour's worth of Big Brother. Nothing got answered. Nothing even happened of note. After all the build-up to an apocalyptical finale, what do we get? A bad guy who "could" be alive and a goat giving birth to a child. Superb. The problem with a mini-series like this is, they're so desperate to be picked up for a full season, that they deliberately leave things open ended. Sometimes it works (á la The 4400), and sometimes it doesn't. Like Revelations. So all we now have is 6 meaningless episodes of something that could have been an interesting take on Christianity vs Satanism, but instead turned into The Omen vs The Last Castle. Such a waste.

Current reading - Phillip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" series which is getting better by the page, and Frank Skinner's autobiography which turns out to be a lot, lot better than my brother-in-law gave it credit for.

Dentist tomorrow, for my second ever filling. Technically my third, since the dentist made a balls-up on my second one the first time round, but it's the same tooth so I'm looking forward to not being able to feel my tongue again. Gah.


Monday, May 23, 2005

Those fizzy little bubbles

I'm sipping away at new Tango Clear (a Lemon and Kiwi sugar-free alternative), and it's pretty damn tasty. Allegedly made from the juice of real Kiwis, I never imagined that I would find the taste of blended New Zealanders so appealing. I saw an advert for Fanta Z on a bus stop today and it took me 20 minutes to work out that the name was supposed to be a pun on the word "Fantasy". The problem is that when you're a Brit and say "Z" as "zed", the cleverness doesn't really work. Plus it's got those new controversial ads where people try the old Diet Fanta (or Fanta Light for our trans-Atlantic friends) and spit it out. SHOCK! DISMAY! Surely this is teaching our young ones that it's permissible to spit?!?!?! Gosh! And what about those KFC adverts that clearly teach them it's fine to talk with your mouth full? Since Mary Whitehouse complained her way off this mortal coil, the standard of advertising has gone down the pan, right? Well...actually no. People are so entrenched in the dual banes of compensation culture and political correctness these days that they will use any possible reason to gain a few extra quid. "That advert made my son ill, and now he refuses to go to school!". No, love, you're just a lazy parent who can't be bothered to take responsibility for your undisciplined little brat. It's got bugger all to do with what they saw on TV, in much the same way that video games don't breed killers. If some whining middle-class twit of a mother comes crying to the Daily Mail about how disgraceful it is that 12-year old little Kevin has turned into a sullen, aggressive hoody-wearing yob since she gave Grand Theft Auto: Vice City to him for his birthday, maybe she should be dealt with by social services for supplying an age-restricted item to a minor. Yes, there is mature content. Yes, there is violence and swearing. But yes, there is a huge sodding 18 certificate plastered all over the damn box. Get a grip and take some responsibility.

Anyway, after that little side-rant, back to the soft drinks. Fanta Z - where people spit out old Fanta and fall in love with the new one. Hmm. So basically what you're saying there is "Our last product was complete shite, even though we have the might of a huge multi-national corporation behind us. But this one? This one is ACE. Trust us." Yeah...umm...ok. If you don't have confidence in your own products, why should I? It's like washing powder. They bring out Daz, and show how white clothes get compared to Brand X. Not a stain in sight. Then they bring out Daz Ultra, and compare it to Daz. Lo and behold - there's a huge fricking STAIN on the clothes washed in old Daz, but Daz Ultra is shiny and white. Wait a second, so you LIED in your last advert about how good your product is? Is that what you're saying? I think it is. Now where is that phone number for Watchdog? I feel the need to get some compensation for my ruined clothes.

So yeah, this Tango Clear stuff. Pretty nice.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Nokia 6600 for sale!

Quick! Quick! Snap up this little puppy at a ridiculously cheap price:


Once it's gone, it's gone! You've got to be in it to win it! There's nothing in this game for two in a bed! Insert other clichés here!

After being landed with a 6 month backdated broadband bill by BT (whoa...alliteration overload), it has come to my attention that I'm rather poor. As Blackadder once put it, I'm as poor as a church mouse, that's just had an enormous tax bill on the very day his wife ran off with another mouse, taking all the cheese. So here starts my drive to increase funds before my trip to Greece. This does unfortunately mean that I'll not be able to attend Collette's birthday in Lancaster since, as these things always seem to come in threes, not only do I now have to find money for a bond for a new house, but my car has suddenly developed a puncture. I'm a big believer in karma - and if something is not meant to be, then I'm damned if I'm going to fight it. Not that I could afford to fight it right now. So, I'll be missing another Milton meeting; hopefully when Msr. Huby gets his house in order (literally), we can arrange a decent housewarming party in Huddersfield avec BBQ, football and merriment.

As much as I despise moving house, I'm looking forward to getting a place with (hopefully) a bigger room. Either a bigger bedroom, or a bigger reception room. Just somewhere I can practice Bushido without falling over chairs, CD cases or wires. This will have been my 4th house move in 2 years. With the majority of letting agents only giving you 6 month rolling contracts, there's no guarantee that come January I won't be out on my arse again. Joy.

Heroes 4 is developing nicely. Initial impressions have given way to somewhat begrudging admiration in how 3DO have vastly improved on the 3rd game but with little loss to the gameplay. The differences between 2 and 3 were negligible, but this third sequel (albeit with a confusing and hectic three-quarter down view during battles) seems to have totally revitalised the main component that holds the series together - fun. You fight leprechauns who toss their hats in the air when they're not fighting. The world screen is littered with hundreds of different things to collect, and the new lick of paint accompanying the game means that the wonder of finding out what's in the next chest is back again. The crucial update though, is the ability for your Heroes to fight in battle. This adds a certain attachment to your army that was lacking in the previous games, as you strive to keep your Hero alive and kick ass at the same time. Just one more game...


Saturday, May 21, 2005

Day One.

Well...here we go. I've finally jumped on the blog bandwagon. My site is still being built, but I figured I've left it long enough without some sort of outlet for my random thoughts. Incidentally, the title for this entry is also the name of a song (and album) by Sarah Slean - a pretty fine singer. Check her out.

So, what's been cooking in the hotpan of Rob's conscious today? Weeeeell, I saw episode 5 of the 6-part mini series Revelations today. And huzzah! It's starting to get a little more interesting. Bill Pullman has been a disappointment though, his job consists of mainly standing around with a sceptical look on his face, eyes squinting in some straight-man homage to "3rd Rock's" Harry. I don't know whether this is the look of a man who is thinking "I really should have stayed in the film business", or just someone bored by the repetitive lines he has to deliver. "Yada yada, daughter. Yada yada, Hawk. Yada yada, science." Gimme Spaceballs and Independence Day any day. The only one enjoying himself appears to be Michael Massee in a far more fleshed out (sorry, bad pun) role than he had in 24. I still stand by my opinion that Ira Gaines would have made an infinitely more interesting bad guy than Dennis "you keeeled my vife und daughtaah" Hopper. Bad facial hair and an appalling German/Dutch/Romanian accent do not a convincing nemesis make.

(24 Season 4 [and 2 and 3] Spoiler alert follows!! Skip to next paragraph if you don't want to read this...)

Speaking of 24...anyone else amazed by the proximity of CTU to every single location of interest in LA? Five to ten minutes, and these guys can be at terrorist strongholds, hospitals, abandoned warehouses - you name it. I can only hope no other road users get in the way of these guys when they're in crisis mode, since at the pace they must drive I doubt there'd be time for the pleasantries of exchanging insurance details. Aaaaanyway, aside from this, I'll be interested to see how the writers will end the current series. There's a nuclear missile headed towards...somewhere in the US, and now Tony's being held hostage by Mandy (she of "explode-plane-to-get-ID-card" and "shaky-hands-with-Palmer-and-give-disease" fame). Oh, and Marwan has escaped. Again. The guy has more lives than a cat sanctuary. Now, seeing that Tony and Michelle survived last season, I'm not giving too much hope to Tony getting through this one. Especially when you consider that no-one of note has snuffed it so far (I'm not counting Ronnie, the Jack-wannabe who blatantly deserved bumping off; nor any of the numerous CTU agents that clearly have a death wish by volunteering to tag along with Jack. Why not stick a red Star Trek jumper on them, and have done with it?). Yup, with the last two episodes being aired Monday, it's going to be an interesting finale. But this is America, and since we have the double whammy of a) Roland Emmerich not being behind the camera and b) a nuke going off in season 2 already, it's not likely to happen this season. And you can quote me on that.

My workmate Mark Neil very kindly lent me the 1st season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine a few weeks back, and I've only just got round to watching it. Having seen a lot of it during it's first run on TV, I have to say I'm impressed that it hasn't aged badly at all. Despite the similarities in overall theme to Babylon 5, it has definitely got deep "Trek" rootage even if, at times, that does mean some of the episodes are a little twee and saccharine. I'm looking forward to the next few months and getting through the rest of the series (assuming Mark goes out and gets them).

Hmm...what else? Well, we're still looking for a new house. 2 and a bit months left - nothing so far. 5-bed houses are either stupidly far away, or really expensive. I rang Sarah Kenny lettings today, and asked them if they knew if their website was down. I got hold of the Saturday girl whose skills appear to consist of photocopying and making coffee. Didn't have a clue about the site, and there wasn't a whisper of knowledge about available lets. I've been "added to the customer list" and will "get a call if anything comes in, but if we don't call, feel free to call us". Inspiring stuff. Maybe I should go and introduce myself to potential landlords and charge myself extortionate fees for moving into their houses too. Oh wait, that's the job of the letting agent. My mistake.

On the gaming front, I've just installed Heroes of Might and Magic 4. First impressions: more to do, a little 'prettier', but...the heart seems to be missing. A bit like comparing Soccer Boss on the Amstrad to Championship Manager 4 on the PC. Sure, there's more to DO in the latter, but seriously, is it fun? No. But I'm willing to give it a go, so we'll see.

Right...that's enough babble for my first post. I'll try to keep this updated daily, but that blatantly won't happen.