Fat Fakir

Heart of Gold. Nerves of Steel. Knob of Butter.

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Sunday 30th March

18:00

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

In one of the most exciting one-sided games I've seen in a long time, England beat Ireland to win the grand slam in the Six Nations. Ireland had a chance or two early in the game to cross the England line, but England's defence was up to the task and after half-time the Irish struggled to get out of their half. England stretched their advantage from 13 points to 6 at half-time to 42-6 at full-time and at no time did their try-line seem to be under threat. Obviously this was a fantastic effort by the entire side, who all wanted to win by as large as a margin as possible. There was something to watch from the start to the finish.

Unlike the football team the previous evening, who seemed to be more than happy with a 2-0 win over the third-worst side in Europe. A side who, on average, concede four goals per game. Still, if England beat Turkey on Wednesday and manage to qualify for the European Championships in Protugal in 2004, the fact that they didn't put a hatful past Leichtenstein is going to seem rather irrelevant. I hope.

Yesterday I went to a book sale at my local book warehouse, Galloway & Porter. I thought I'd get in there early to avoid the rush, but how wrong I was. It was worse than getting caught in a bunch of pensioners at the local jumble sale. I tell you, I've played in games of rugby that were less violent. I'm sure there was even a fist fight at one point over a Javascript reference book. I was after some street maps (unfortunately not available cheaper than in their city centre store), and some computer books. I got a couple of decent reference tomes for Dreamweaver and Director for two quid each, and some other stuff for a pound apiece. I was especially pleased with my purchase of Miranda Sawyer's 'Park And Ride' because I look forward to the expression on my brother's face as I give that to him. I'll believe a book can fly - straight out of the window and clear across Bethnal Green, hopefully. Heh!

Anyway, I got back from the sale just about brunch time on Saturday. So I decided to indulge myself in a 'Breakfast Kebab' - bacon, fried egg and tomato ketchup stuffed into a pitta bread. Hhmm-mmhhuumm! Absolutely delicious. It was inspired by the BLPs - Bacon, Lettuce and Pittas - that my brother knocked up for me over Christmas. If only I'd pushed it one stage further - I'm sure there must be a market for 'Dinner Kebabs'. Stew, Spaghetti, Sausage and Chips, Bangers and Mash, etc, all stuffed into a pitta and simply re-heated in the microwave. Surely there must be a way of doing that? Go on Findus, Birds Eye or DalePak - I'll sell you the idea for the simple sum of 1p for every 'Dinner Kebab' that you manage to sell. Hey, I'd go for it......

Right, I'm off to watch The Black Hole on Channel Five

Go on, stick your oar in:

Friday 28th March

22:00

Built for comfort

Mothering Sunday is rapidly approaching. And whilst I disagree with the concept - dreamt up by card merchants and confectioners in an attempt to boost sales, no doubt - I've had to do something to make up for not remembering my mum's birthday. (Hey, I forgot my dad's too, five days later, and he was 65 this year. D'Oh!) So I've sent the tackiest card that I could find in Tesco and will be giving the old dear a bell on the Sunday. Obviously, I'll be doing that early - I don't want to miss the rugby and I'll be too pissed afterwards, whatever the result. Besides, having spent an hour and a half on the phone to her yesterday, I won't need to be on the line for long....

As everyone knows, it's not in my nature to look on the bright side, so sometimes things happen that take me by surprise. I applied for a job early in the week and received a letter from the company on Thursday morning. Judging by it's slimness, I was expecting the usual "Thanks, but no thanks" form letter. Instead, it was a surprising and pleasing, "Thanks for your interest, we'll let you know." Now, how many companies are doing that these days? Hardly any, in my experience, and most recruitment agents that I've dealt with haven't even bothered getting back to me after the initial contact. Which is all a bit disheartening, especially as I didn't expect it to take this long to get back into gainful employment. Ah well, there's still another six weeks or so before the money runs out. Perhaps I should have gone for that part-time job at the sex shop....

Tip of the Day: If you're sat in the kitchen, reading the newspaper, waiting for the kettle to boil for your cup of tea, make sure you remembered to switch the kettle on at the wall. Otherwise, you'll be waiting a long time. Or, like me, you'll finish the newspaper, check the kettle, realise it's not switched on and curse loudly. And then curse some more when you get back to your PC to find that you've lost your Internet connection and that it takes three attempts to re-connect to your ISP. Arse!

Go on, stick your oar in:

Wednesday 26th March

21:30

The power of auto-eroticism, er, auto-suggestion

One of the few delights of having the Cambridge Evening News delivered is that I get to read my horoscope for the following day. As it comes straight from the pen of the mighty Russell Grant, I tend to take it very seriously. Here's today's:
Scattered energies could prevent you from being as thorough as you'd like. It's simply too difficult to concentrate on one project right now. Busy yourself with a variety of tasks as a means to stay engaged. There will be plenty of time to attend to big jobs later.
Well, I read this last night and thought, "Hhmm, might have a bit of a strange day tomorrow then." And I did. I haven't been able to concentrate on anything particularly for more than about fifteen minutes. I haven't done any work on the one big project I've got lined up at the moment. I tried running my website through the HTML validator at the Worldwide Web Consortium website and even though there are 29 errors on the index page and it is "Not Valid Transitional 4.01 HTML!", I couldn't concentrate long enough to fix them. I've actually read a couple more chapters of the gi-normous tome on HTML 4 that I bought about three years ago, but couldn't be bothered to put the lessons into practice. I haven't done any Photoshopping yet either and I also decided against going to the cinema as I didn't think I could concentrate long enough. Mind you, I did do some washing, pay some bills, get a bit of shopping in and tidied up a bit, so the day wasn't a complete loss. Mind you, Lord Russell of Horoscope was a bit out on this point:
If the phone is ringing off the hook, resist the temptation to answer it. Review your messages later and return only the calls that are important to you.
My phone hasn't rung at all today, In fact, I've been checking to make sure that it isn't just 'off the hook'. Ah, he did say "if" though, didn't he? Now, what's in store for tomorrow?
Social activities involving children could give you a new lease of life. Lately, you've been so focused on your own emotions that you've forgotten what it's like to be footloose and fancy-free. Let some young people be your role models between now and late April. Be more carefree and you'll find it easier to come up with creative solutions.
Well, I'm not too sure what the last half of that means, but one thing is for sure - I'm off to the park tomorrow to play footie with tha kidz! Wahey!!!

Go on, stick your oar in:

Tuesday 25th March

21:45

Is the Internet over?

I'm only asking because we're five days into Operation Accidental Death or whatever they're calling it and my Inbox has been positively underwhelmed with bad taste jokes, links to half-assed Photoshoppery and the like. Just one joke, no comedy pictures and, sadly, not even a report of someone trying to sell that downed Apache Helicopter on eBay (and they could have thrown those pilot's helmets in free too...). What is the world coming to? Oh, hold on, I think I only need to watch the news to see that. Well, I daresay someone will prove me wrong in the next twenty minutes. Still, I'll be having a go at doing some dodgy Photoshoppery myself over the next couple of days as I need to have some familiarity with that program for a job that I applied for. Watch this blog. "They're sending in the ground force? Where's that picture of Titchmarsh, Dimmock and the other one? What's that? The B-52s are over Bagdhad? Oh, this is too easy..."

I was delighted at the weekend to see that "my little smashers", Crewe Alexandra, managed to sneak past Luton Town by four goals to nil. It was an important away win as the season heads towards it's conclusion with Crewe and Cardiff City are tussling for the second automatic promotion spot from Division 2. This might seem like small beer compared to the Premiership or The Champions League, but to the smaller clubs getting to the First Division is just as important. Crewe had five seasons in the First, getting relegated at the end of the last one and to bounce straight back up would be great. I reckon it'll all be on the last game of the season - at home to Cardiff - though, and that'll be a bit of a nail-biter. Might have to think about trying to get a ticket....

Go on, stick your oar in:

Friday 21st March

23:30

I just need 48 hours sleep and a complete change of blood

So me old mucker Kev came down for a visit yesterday. He starts a new job next week, so this was possibly his last chance to get down to see me for a while. And he'd just had some bad personal news, so he was in the mood for a few beers. In fact, he started without me - having a few drinks on the train on the way down. It's alright though, reader, I soon caught up. Anyway, I went to meet him and decided to set off in plenty of time as I'd heard that this anti-war protest was disrupting the traffic near the railway station. And good job I set off early - it took nearly 55 minutes for the usual 20 minute journey. Still, I was only a minute or two late. We decided against trying to get back to my house and then back into town given the state of traffic and decided instead to go straight into town. As we made our way into town we encountered the protesters, who had moved from the War Memorial to block one of the main junctions on the edge of the city centre. We couldn't help looking at our watches as we passed and commenting that the kids could go home as school had already finished. "You know the bell has gone. Now you're just wasting your own time." Harsh, I know, but fair. Anyway, we took up residence in a pub where we could keep an eye on the proceedings at a safe distance. It all seemed to be fairly, er, peaceful and the police were content to manage things from a distance, as far as possible.

Anyway, once the peace protesters dispersed, Kev and I ensconsed ourselves in The Regal to enjoy their low-priced beers and value-for-money curry offer. In fact, we enjoyed their beers so much that we found ourselves drinking jugs of cocktails instead. Not a good idea. Especially when I decided that a couple of "double shooters" were in order. Yes, we were drunk. Very, very drunk. Quite how we managed to get a taxi home is a bit of a mystery. Needless to say, we were both feeling rough this morning, although I felt a lot better once I'd thrown up. And then felt a bit worse when I realised I'd left the front door unlocked all night. Idiot. Anyway, I managed to get Kev on to his train home and came back home for a quick cup of tea and a bite to eat before heading out again to sign-on. I nearly fell asleep whilst I was waiting in the Jobcentre but managed to stay awake enough to get home and crash out on the settee. And now I want to sleep, I'm a fully-fledged member of the Wideawake Club. Arse.

One of the side effects of the onset of the attack on Iraq was that the BBC decided to split it's coverage of the Liverpool vs Celtic UEFA Cup tie between BBC1 and BBC2. Having set my video some five hours before kick-off last night, I missed the first half, which got switched to BBC2. I was pretty annoyed (as Tim could tell from the level of swearing in the texts I sent him). My humour wasn't improved any by Liverpool managing to lose 2-0. I watched the second half when I got in last night and, fuelled by the alcohol I had consumed, spent most of the time shouting at the telly in impotent rage. Good job that it was only a game, eh?

Go on, stick your oar in:

Wednesday 19th March

17:40

Uninspired? What was I on about?

I made a list of things to mention on this site last night and realised that there were actually a lot of little things that I could have written about. But first, I have to say that I made the decision to change my radio station this morning, in a vain attempt to cheer myself up. I re-tuned to Radio One. After three hours of mope-rock, half-assed R'n'B and dire bubblegum pop, I was starting to sound like Edward Woodward at the end of The Wicker Man - "Oh God! Oh Christ! Jesus! Jesus!". Main offenders? Avril Lavigne, Coldplay, P. Diddy and some dirging tune about "getting over it" that was getting heavy rotation. Still I thought I'd stick it out (ooh-er!) for the day, but once Chris Moyles started I had to turn it off. Imagine the worst self-indulgent excesses of Chris Evans crossed with the dullest elements of Steve Wright and his posse and then multiply it by ten and you're about halfway there. Tosser. So I retuned to Radio Two and having managed to go three months or more without hearing a Simply Red tune, I get two in the space of about an hour and a half. Thanks a lot. I think I'm going to have to check out Radio Four...

I was momentarily excited by the advert on the back last week's Cambridge Weekly News for SKA Karate. Great, I thought, that sounds ideal - the perfect marriage of martial art and upbeat West Indian soul songs. Sadly, on closer inspection, it turned out that SKA stood for the Shotokan Karate Association. Ah, my hopes were dashed. No chance of me learning how to do the one-inch punch whilst skanking along to the sounds of "Liquidator" or the like. Hhmm, perhaps I ought to establish my own dojo....

Operation Liberty Shield - Is it just me or does this sound like an episode of "Sex And The City"? You know, the one where the "girls" go to an upstate restaurant and one of them suddenly remembers it's her time of the month. And, oh my god, she's forgotten her sanitary towels. Cue frantic search for nearby drugstore/market selling said Liberty Shields, possibly underpinned by Dr Alban's 'It's My Life'. Or maybe not. Maybe I'm just making a leap too far.

I realised that I haven't droned on about anything that I've bought from Fopp! recently. Apart from Spiderman, that is. And that's just the greatest movie ever made. So for your reading pleasure, here's a quick summary of the three new-ish albums that I've purchased:

  • The Streets - Original Pirate Material. I'll admit I was fairly scathing about this the first time I heard it. The "MC Pikey" delivery style is a bit off-putting to start with and the production is a bit rough in places, but I've found that this is an album that rewards repeated listening. Probably the best album I've bought in a long time. I'd recommend it to anyone.
  • The Polyphonic Spree - The Beginning Stages of.... Well, the robes makes you think that they're hippies, albeit tuneful ones. And whilst the first nine tracks on this album go some way towards confirming that, the tenth and final track, which is thirty-six minutes of droning and buzzing instruments pisses all over that. It's the sort of thing that might have been acceptable over, say, eight minutes. But you've got to be on some strange and powerful drugs to get anything out of thirty-six minutes of pointless noodling. Perhaps they put this on a loop and use it when brainwashing new members? I know that I'd do anything to make it stop after about twenty minutes.....
  • Royksopp - Melody AM. Have Air put an album out recently? No? Ah, that explains the success of this. Not that there's anything wrong with it - far from it. 'So Easy', 'Epie', 'Royksopp's Night Out' and 'Remind Me' are all excellent tracks, but they're not breaking any new ground. And it's thankfully free of any thirty-six minute drone epics, which means it's more likely to get a spin in the old CD player.
If you haven't managed to read my excellent Listen To This, finest album ever think-piece, then shame on you. And if you have read it and think that some of those albums I've picked are a bit poor, then you want to see some of the "classic albums" on this list. Alright, their criteria are somewhat different, and who ever wrote the blurbs for each LP needs some lessons in pop history, but they have included some absolute dross. Thank god, someone round here has got good taste, eh?

Go on, stick your oar in:

Tuesday 18th March

22:00

Sadly uninspired

Not having the dubious pleasures of work to distract me, I seem to spend most of time time working on my PC (looking for jobs and typing up letters - not just surfing the web!) and listening to the radio. Or more accurately, listening to Radio Five Live. Which is usually OK. It's not as high-brow as Radio Four and covers sport better. Lately though it has mutated into Radio War On Iraq. Not that it in any way holds a position on the war (strictly impartial, the BBC, don't you know) but it is reporting in excrutiatingly minute detail all the things that are and are not happening at the moment. All of which is pretty depressing. And seems to be sapping my creativity and inspiration. I'm sure I had a couple of other things that I was going to put on my site on Sunday night, but now, all I can think of is this.

Actually, does anybody out there know if there's a tool that I can use to spellcheck my site? Because I type this out in Notepad (keeping it real for the kids), there's no way to check the shite that I churn out without cuting and paste-ing it into Word (or some other word-processor) and using the spellchecker in that. I do read it a couple of times before posting it, of course, but I do occasionally miss things and usually only notice them when the original post has been up for a day or two. Still, all adds to the fun, eh?

New Comments thingie!

If anyone's missed it, I've installed a new comments mechanism thing, so that you can all add your own witticisms to my words of wisdom. It's a 'Big Up' to my brother, Mark, who's actually done all the hard work and is hosting it for me. For free. All I have to do is stick the link on my site. Ah, easy life. Cheers, bro'!

Go on, stick your oar in:

Sunday 16th March

21:15

Let joy be unconfined

"After all why should she be confined? It's not like she's done anything seriously wrong. I think six years in the cupboard under the stairs is punishment enough for breaking a plate. Don't you, Dad? Go on, let her out. Go on Dad. Go on."

Er, well, maybe not. Anyway, can you tell that I went to see Harry Hill last night? He was great. The first half of the show he came out on his own and gave us his warped version of a stand-up routine. Interwoven with a shaggy dog story about his nan's death were subjects such as beards, Jesus as a duck, dogs in space, insults associated with wearing glasses and giving your teeth names. And a hilarious performance of a joke in semaphore. He was joined for the second half of the show by The Harrys and it took on a more musical bent. We were also joined by Stouffer (the cat) and Gary (his son) in both real and puppet form and the Martial Arts Badger. And a member of the audience in the Hamster outfit for the closing song. Fantastic entertainment and well the worth the price of admission. Oh, and if you're going to shout stuff out, please try to be more entertaining than the twat sat about four rows behind me...

For the sake of my sanity and the peace of the neighbourhood, I decided against watching Comic Relief on Friday night. Instead I set my video and watched it on Saturday morning. Well, now I know how long it takes to fast-forward through a 180 minute tape. At the moment I'm struggling to remember a single enjoyable moment. There were plenty of memorable moments - French & Saunders' Harry Potter spoof being worse than expected, Ruby Wax and Jo Brand doing the Cheeky Girls song (*shudder*), Vic & Bob's "magic" act being greeted by virtual silence - but very little in the way of enjoyment. Actually, that's not quite true - I did enjoy the "University Challenge" segment on BBC2, although quite why that had to be interrupted twice for the "this is why we're doing this" films is beyond me. Are people's attention spans truly that short? Would they really forget in the space of ten minutes? Ah, but it is all for "charidee" and that's what really counts. Hey, only two years to go till the next one....

I've been reading 24 Hour Party People by Tony Wilson, which is the book of the film of the same name, written by the real-life central character and based on the screenplay. It's a fantastic read, told in a series of anecdotes which, whilst not necessarily true to the events, are definitely true to the spirit of the times. Wilson does set the record straight over some of the things that have dogged him over the years, but this is no straight autobiography. The timeline of some events are jumbled and some things are left out entirely, but this doesn't detract from the story. In the end, it's all about a bunch of mates doing what they really believed in. Inspired by punk's DIY ethic, they took the ball and ran with it. It might have all ended in tragedy, but along the way there were some fantastic times and some fantastic music. And it all makes a fantastic story, albeit one with some caveats. There's a point late on where Wilson uses the phrase "Je ne regrette rien" and then says that actually there is one thing he regrets, but there are clearly events throughout the entire story that are sources of regret for Tony Wilson - the death of Ian Curtis, the split with Martin Hannett and (later on) his death, A Certain Ratio's musical progression, the Hacienda's failure, the fanboy infatuation for the Happy Mondays and, at the end (and somewhat surprisingly), not signing The Smiths to Factory. Let's face it though, even if three-quarters of this book isn't true, the overall story should stand as a fair warning to any fanboy who thinks they can make money out of the music industry.

It's War, and we're all going to die

I've tried to avoid going on about this because, I'm just writing a blog, not a political tract, but.....
So George W. Bush and Tony Blair would like us to believe that Iraq and it's "weapons of mass destruction" are a serious threat to the safety of the entire First World. Because, of course, it was weapons of mass destruction that caused such devastation of 9/11, and then there was all that Anthrax through the post.... Of course, I'm being sarcastic. There has yet to be definite evidence from the UN Weapons Inspectorate that there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and the Anthrax attacks were perpetrated by American citizens. And most of the western world sold them such weapons during their protacted war with Iran, but hey, just maybe they used those weapons during that conflict? (By the way, did you know that chemical warheads have a limited lifespan?) Anyway, we should really support the Americans in their revenge-cum-bloodlust-driven pursuit of any legitimate target in their "War On Terror", because, if it wasn't for them, we'd all be speaking German. It's true, honest. No, I'm being sarcastic again. Now, I'm a peaceful guy - I always favour the diplomatic solution over the use of force. Sure, I've been known to use the threat of aggression, but it very rarely escalates beyond a threat, because I'm prepared to wait to get the results I want. Are some of our leaders prepared to wait? Seems not. And when Britain's cities don't seem be safe anymore, perhaps you might want to think about who is really responsible for that...

By the way, there's a beta version of my new comments mechanism available for your delectation and delight below. It should work OK, but we are in the testing stage.....

Go on, put your oar in:

Friday 14th March

12:15 & updated 17:15

"Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?"

I doubt that most of the audience were even born when Johnny Rotten uttered the above line at the end of the last Sex Pistols gig (at the Winterland Ballroom, San Francisco, 1978), but those were the first words that sprang into my mind at the end of last night's hugely disappointing Pitchshifter gig. If they were on stage for more than 45 minutes, it wasn't by much, and there were no encores. The whole affair was done and dusted by 10pm. Even the venue staff seemed surprised by the early finish. OK, it was the first night of the tour, they did suffer some minor technical problems, and the antagonistic attitude of some boneheads in the crowd didn't help, but even so, this was shoddy. Especially as they seemed to have picked support band Elviss specifically to make themselves look good. The worst thing was, they didn't seem to care. Which was particularly ironic given their comments here. Were they just fulfilling a contractual obligation? Compared to the last time I saw them this was horrible. Add to that the fact that their website made my PC crash, twice, this morning, you can understand why I regard them a little less fondly than I did yesterday.

Whilst searching through the Jobsearch pullout in the local paper I was intrigued to see that "The XXX Zone" (Cambridge's premier adult store) were advertising for a part-time assistant. I was tempted to apply, especially given the staff discount, but the pension scheme wasn't up to much. Now, if it had been a full-time job....

Despite the fact that I'm on a limited budget and shouldn't be spending any money, I couldn't resist getting Spiderman on DVD when I was in Fopp t'other day. It is absolutely brilliant, from start to finish and is definitely one of my all-time favourite films of all-time, mate. Yes, we can argue about the way they mucked around with the comic book history and we can nitpick over the continuity errors (Peter's magically-repairing lamp, for example) but, taken as a whole, it is a thing of beauty to be cherished forever. By the way, did I mention that I like this film?

Is it really two years since the last Comic Relief night? Gawd, these things seem to come round faster every time. Yes, once again readers it's time that we all did something wacky in the name of "charidee". And hey look, they've even got an "amusing" website. Of course, I shall be spending the evening in full-on curmudgeon mode, shouting "Make me laugh then, you twats!" and the like at the screen and switching channels every time one of the presenters says "Of course Comic Relief is not just about having a good time, as this film reminds us..." Not that I'm against giving to charity per se, but for me Comic Relief has become synonymous with the with the sort of self-publicising acts of giving to charity ("Look at me! Look at me! I'm wearing a funny wig and sitting in a bath of custard! And I've raised twenty quid for charidee!") where the ego of the donor is as important as the donation. It's not often that I'm inclined to agree with The Bible, but in Matthew 6 v2 (look it up) there are some wise words, mate. You know, you can give money to charity without the aid of a red nose and you don't even have to wait for the telethons. OK. Here endeth the lesson. Next time: Resisting the temptations of the flesh - why bother?

Wednesday 12th March

17:45

Shouting at the screen

I know that there's only so much ground that you can possibly cover in 90 minutes of television but Jonathan Meades recent three-part series annoyed me to the point of shouting at the screen as he trotted out various over-simplifications and generalisations. The history of British cooking and food is actually a rich and interesting subject and to attempt to condense it into three 30 minute bite-sized prgrammes is bound to fail to do the subject justice. He did make some valid points about the industrial nature of food production in the UK, the loss of regional variations to the diet and the influence of class on the national diet, but like every other point he raised these were never dealt with satifactorily. It was almost, and I hate to say it, the food equivalent of those "I Love the 70/80/90s" pop music programmes. "Deep-fried Mars bar? Yeah, you weren't Scottish if you hadn't eaten one of them. We used to collect them and swap them in the playground....etc, etc." Or perhaps I missed the point and the idea of this series was to leverage any future series that Mr Meades wants to pitch to the BBC? A kind of showreel, if you will. Or is there a companion book that we ought to be buying? Or is this just the kind of irritating pop-culture analysis that he specialises in?

Never mind the mindless moaning, I've sorted out a few nights entertainment for myself involving industrial beats, big-collared comedy and nancy-boy rock, although not all at the same time, sadly. Tomorrow night, I'm off out to catch Pitchshifter on their farewell tour. Then on Saturday I shall be chortling away (hopefully) to the comedy stylings of Harry Hill. Finally, on Tuesday 1st April, I shall be digging out my lacy top, PVC trousers and black nail varnish as I take in the androgynous splendour of Placebo. Hhmm, the beats, the rhyme, the noise, as I believe some rap outfit or other once said.

Monday 10th March

11:00

Godspeed you Blair Emperor!

Saturday night, it was party time to bid a fond farewell to Jack's mate Blair, who is returning home to New Zealand, after a working tour of Britain. I gave him some traditional items of English culture to take back with him - a novelty dancing willy, a book of toilet humour and, of course, a Carry On video. I bet they'll provide minutes worth of fun for the folks back home. Anyway, good luck to you, mate. Don't be a stranger.

Sad news - Barry Sheene has lost his battle against cancer and died in the early hours of this morning. He was a hero in our house when I was growing up and his battles with Kenny Roberts were the stuff of legend. One of which spawned the Murray Walker's famous "And look at that, Sheene is waving at Kenny Roberts" comment, as Sheene passed Roberts and quite clearly flicked him the V's behind his back. Who'd do that sort of thing today, eh? Sheene was also known as 'Britain's Bionic Man' after he had numerous pins inserted in his legs and one arm after a horror crash at Silverstone. Even a stint on ITV's "Record Breakers"-clone Just Amazing with Kenny Lynch and Suzanne Danielle couldn't dent his reputation. Ah, the world is a slightly sadder place without Sir Barry of Sheene, and we should all raise a glass to him.

Thank God for the video recorder, eh? I had a brief moment of panic yesterday when I realised that the Pitchshifter gig and the Celtic vs. Liverpool match are both on Thursday night. Then I realised I could set my video (Thanks Channel 5!) to record the match while I'm rocking out to the industrial beats, and then watch it "as live" when I get in. (It'll be a particularly poignant rocking out too, as this is Pitchshifter's last tour.) Anyway, now I just have to hope that no one texts me with the result while I'm out....

Loads of people, well, two people have asked when I'm going to restore the comments mechanism. Well, it will be back ere long, as I've got an alternate host of them now, for the grand cost of no pounds and no pence, and we just need to set it all up right so that it'll run properly. It's not that I didn't want to pay Enetation the 10 they wanted, but I got a better offer. So if you can just be patient, things could be sorted out by the end of this week.

Thursday 6th March

20:15

One 'Ring' to rule them all

Now, you've got to be a fan of any film that gives a couple of your mates a sleepless night, surely? And Hideo Nakata's Ring certainly falls into that category. So I was somewhat dismayed to hear that it was being re-made in Hollywood. After all, they don't have a great track record in that department. Well, I have braved The Ring and I have to report that they've done a pretty good job. They've changed the back story round a little bit to make it more plausible for US audience and there are a couple of extra scenes, but it's pretty much a straight re-tread. I'd also have to say that some of the climactic scenes aren't done quite as well as the original, in my opinion, but maybe that's because I knew what to expect. Still, it's well worth seeing, though probably not late at night. Personally, I prefer the original and am surprised that the Cambridge Picture House hasn't taken advantage of the remake to show that. Or have I missed it?

You know you're overly immersed in pop-culture when you're watching a film and during a couple of scenes, pop songs suddenly start playing in your head. For the record, those tunes were Horse Overboard by Microdisney and Little Lighthouse by The Dukes of Stratosfear (who were XTC in disguise). Anybody who watches The Ring will be able to spot the scenes these tunes popped up in.

Also, whilst I was waiting for the film to start, I was subjected to probably the most ludicrous advert I've seen for a long time. It features the divine David Beckham and his team mates in a Western-style showdown-cum-shootout, replete with long, leather, duster coats adorned with their names and numbers. Surprisingly, Becks is no Clint Eatwood, but the whole thing is absolutely fecking terrible. I'm almost tempted to stop drinking Pepsi (the product they're endorsing) in protest.

Do you feel lucky, punk? Do you think that you can do anything to influence the amount of luck in your life? Are you superstitious? ("Writing on the wall!" - Stevie W) Why not pop along to The Luck Project and help these interested people in their quest to determine how superstitious ("Writing on the wall!" - Stevie W, again) the population of the UK is. They also have some other stuff about luck on the site and a competition. You never know, you might get lucky...

Tuesday 4th March

21:20

Welcome to the Mardi Gra Experience

I tell you, you just can't trust anyone these days. You hang your Salvador Dali painting on the wall of the prison and some cheeky monkey half-inches it. According to this news story a piece by Dali, donated to the Rikers Island prison when illness forced him to cancel a visit, has been stolen and replaced with a crude copy. Strangely, the piece had actually been hanging in the prisoners' dining room until one of the inmates threw a cup of coffee at it. Presumably it was a bit more difficult to steal from there.

Anybody thinking I've spelt Mardi Gra wrong - I've done it on purpose. Have a quick Google on "Welcome to the Mardi Gra" to see what I'm on about. Only remember to include the inverted commas in the search box, otherwise you'll get this site in your search results and it's definitely not work-safe. So, don't go there. Girlfriend. And if you can't be bothered to look it up - I'm not telling, so there. No. Talk to the hand, etc.

Was God an astronaut? Well, that was the question posed by Erich von Daniken in his 1968 work Chariots Of The Gods. Taking what was an unorthodox look at the archaeological evidence at the time, von Daniken, posited the theory that the human race had been visited by extra-terrestrials in the ancient past. Obviously over the years, he's refined his theory and mellowed in some of his beliefs, but he's still searching for the answers to the questions of who, what and where is God? And remarkably for a man who was ridiculed for much of his early career, he's now responsible for the creation of a theme park near Interlaken in Switzerland. So, from 24th May you can join in the fun at the Mysteries Of The World Theme Park. It looks like it'll be quite interesting, so if you're in the area, why not pop in? I would.