Monthly Archives: August 2009

Of Fish And Silly Things

As you can see from this picture:


I have a very serious living room. After years of living in student accommodation or studio flats or houses that were pretty much falling down – I’ve moved around a lot – I finally have a place where the wallpaper isn’t peeling off and I don’t have to cover up the damage with posters. I have grown-up things in my living room. Beautiful art prints by photographers Lehnert and Landrock, all the way from Cairo. An antique typewriter. Pretty plants. Fancy velvet sofas.

And a tropical fish tank.

I’ve not had much luck with my fish since I started keeping them back in April; only one of my original batch remains, a spotted plec named Bobby (after Supernatural‘s grumpy old hunter) who makes me smile because he is (a) spotty and (b) grumpy. Last week I brought home some more fish – three silver dollars I’ve named Dave, Dave and Nick after the SFX team (don’t ask), two boesemani rainbow fish I’ve named Fred and George because they’re ginger like the Weasley twins; and a ruby shark I’ve called Ruby, after Ruby on Supernatural (what? It made sense at the time!). They all seem as happy as fish can be, their tank looks pretty and all is well with the world.

Except that I’m a bit fed up with being sensible. You know how you can buy special laminated pictures to stick on the back wall of your fish tank? Pictures of submerged mangrove tree roots or sunken shipwrecks or deep blue ocean ripples? They tend to look tacky and fake, but they give the fish something to look at that isn’t their own reflections, and I’m tempted to buy one.

The thing is, my living room is a nice, adult, grown-up, serious living room. BUT I WANT A PICTURE OF SOME DINOSAURS.

Someone talk me out of it. Please?



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This Is Not Twitter

Great. So I post to say I keep getting distracted by Facebook and Twitter and I’m fed up of it and I promise I’ll stop all that nonsense and come back to my blog… and then I don’t post for two weeks.

I suck.

I wonder if the future of blogging will lie in one-sentence updates that are limited to a certain number of characters? It’ll be fairly dull, yes, but everybody appears to love it. And it’s certainly less time-consuming! Not to mention less guilt-making than having a blog that you keep ignoring…

Since my last post I saw Neil Finn (and Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien and Phil Selway, among others) perform in the sweatiest venue I’ve ever attended in my life – Dingwall’s in Camden, on a scorching hot evening – and I was THIS CLOSE to the stage:


…which, I’m sure you’ll agree, was plenty close enough. It was a fantastic gig and Neil was in fine voice, not to mention a very good mood, and the tracks on the new Seven Worlds Collide album sound magnificent. It’s out in a couple of weeks and proceeds go to Oxfam: make a purchase!

I was lucky enough to see 15 minutes of preview footage from James Cameron’s Avatar at the IMAX on Friday, which I must say made up for the fact that the movie trailer released the day before had disappointed me. It looked way too computer-gamey for my liking, but when you see some of the imagery in context and hear the characters talk, you get a sense of what Cameron’s trying to achieve.

The footage was quite literally breathtaking – though I must admit, some of that had to do with the fact I was sitting too close to the IMAX screen, and a 3D movie the size of a house does make you a little nauseous! But now I have high hopes for the film. And man, it’ll be nice to have action-extravaganza Cameron back. I miss his The Abyss days.

I also have a confession to make: after a year spent complaining about it and haughtily informing people that I’d watched the first episode and hated it and never wanted to see it again… I finally watched season one of True Blood. And yes, I’m addicted now. I hate Sookie Stackhouse with every atom of my being, but if I look past that it’s actually a pretty decent show. Glad to hear it’s doing so well in the ratings, too, although if Anna Paquin gets another Golden Globe for season two I’ll start feeling faintly homicidal toward her!

Right! Now I need to write a review of Dollhouse. There’s an extra episode on the DVD release that’s, well, interesting to say the least. If the show chooses to go in that direction from now on, I’ll be very happy…


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Worlds Colliding

Blame Twitter. And Facebook. Thanks to this almighty team of time-wasters, I don’t seem to blog half as much as I used to. It’s easier to write a single sentence and post it on my Twitter than it is to write about it in length here, and it’s far easier to upload photographs on my Facebook page than to go through the fiddly process of posting them on WordPress. However, my blog tardiness is annoying me, and hopefully I can ignore the lure of social networking and start to blog properly again.

Of course, now I’ve said that, I don’t really have anything to blog about at the moment! Life’s ticking over; I’m perfectly busy (in the sense that I have exactly the right amount of work and exactly the right amount of time to do it in); I haven’t done anything interesting except pay a tax bill which, oddly enough, is the reason I haven’t done anything interesting because it’s made sure that I can’t afford to. However, in a rather amazing bout of serendipity, my solicitor has managed to secure me a compensation pay-out from my car crash back in May which effectively pays off half of that bill, so I’m thrilled to pieces about that… particularly because my back seems to be a lot better, too. (Although I’m still having physiotherapy, and it still hurts. Last week the receptionist in the physio place was on the phone to a customer while I was screaming in the background, and every time I think about that it makes me giggle. What must that poor customer have thought?)

On Tuesday I’m seeing Neil Finn perform his new Seven Worlds Collide show at Dingwalls in Camden, so I’m happy about that (he was on Sky News this morning discussing it, and I’ve never seen his fringe look quite as spectacular). I’ve been a bit out of touch with Finn-fandom in the last two years so I’m hoping to redress the balance a little – I’m not sure anybody, with the possible exception of David Attenborough (my childhood hero!), has ever been more of an idol to me than Neil Finn, and so it’s always a joy to see – and hear – him in the flesh.

Myself (right) and the Finnster after a gig in 1998. Ah, happy times...

Myself (right) and the Finnster after a gig in 1998. Ah, happy times...

Changing the subject completely, I watched my very first Bruce Lee movie last night. Quite why it’s taken me so long to discover the joys of Mr Lee I have no idea, but apparently 37 isn’t too old an age to watch one of his films while bouncing up and down on the sofa and making “Waaaaah…. heeee!” noises while performing jerky chopping noises with your hands. Fist Of Fury was brilliant, so now I’m adding Enter The Dragon to my LoveFilm list and will, no doubt, find myself bouncing up and down on the sofa while I watch that one, too.

Also, has anybody else noticed that in the movie’s biggest showdown, Bruce Lee fights Anchorman‘s Ron Burgundy?

And finally… I would be writing my opinions on the Palestinian suicide-bomber film Paradise Now here, after finally finding the time to settle down and watch the DVD that’s been sitting by my player for a year now. Given that I spend a lot of time working for a DVD magazine and I’m always in offices where review discs are everywhere, I’m generally assured of a steady stream of things to watch – but, being that they’re review discs and are sent out before the title is released, they usually have copyright warnings or timecodes on them. You get used to tuning them out while you watch. Unfortunately, however, Paradise Now‘s enormous “PROPERTY OF WARNER BROS” stamp was positioned directly OVER the subtitles for the movie, so watching it was impossible.

I’m sure you’ll agree with me that it takes a special kind of stupidity to be able to do something like that. I despair, I really do.

And now I have some reviews to write, and I absolutely will not play on Facebook or Twitter while I do so.


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Last weekend I was lucky enough to be invited on a cruise along the River Thames by author Robert Rankin, who was celebrating his 60th birthday in suitably bonkers style. Sadly, I didn’t find out until the last minute that it was a fancy dress cruise, or that there was a pirate theme, so I couldn’t dress up like Admiral Robert:


Or any of his shipmates (who have impeccable reading taste):

pirate reading

But I still had a wicked time, particularly when all the pirates discovered the wonderfully echoey nature of the underside of a bridge, so every time we sailed under one there was an almighty “Arrrrrrrrrr!” Or when a pirate leant out of a window, spotted two women rowing by and yelled, “WENCHES! THERE BE WENCHES!” – prompting every other male pirate on the cruise to do the same until said wenches were giggling heaps in their boat. I also enjoyed all the cries of “Ramming speed, Cap’n!” every time we passed another boat, and the pirate who got rather excited as we passed the Houses of Parliament and shouted, “Thievin’ bastids!”

On the whole, however, a pirate’s life is not for me – far too noisy.

At times like these, I really wish I wore t-shirts more often, particularly this one:



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