Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Russian Debutante's Handbook

Not a lot of reading has got done round these parts since the trip to Paris in November. I blame novel comedown for this, although I could just as easily blame this book, because I've got to conclude (sorry Eoghan, who bought it for me, back at Christmas 2004) that I just didn't really like it. I'm very hard to please with comic novels, and this one just outstayed its welcome, had too much detail, a lead character I didn't really care about, and a bunch of secondary characters who just don't really do anything. It also commits the greatest sin that a comic novel can, which is that it is not only not very funny, it's nothing like as funny as it thinks it is.

In a way, though, it does make an interesting companion piece to Of Human Bondage, which I am ashamed to say was the last book I read (back in November!), because it is also about a young, feckless man making his way in the world without much in the way of guidance. He also gets in over his head because of a woman, and ends up travelling to other countries and living on not very much money. But there the similarities end. I'm not sure I'd recommend this to anyone, but I suppose it could just have been me and the mood I was in when I read it.

Have you read it? What did you think? (I keep forgetting to put these little questions in. Not that it matters, noone answers them.)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Red setters

I had a dream last night that we owned three huge red setters. They were enormous, much bigger than real dogs. Any time we tried to make food in the kitchen, they would circle around and wag their tails and the wagging would sweep all the food to the floor, and the floor of our kitchen was covered in broken crockery and we didn't care because we had these beautiful dogs.

I've always loved red setters. I love the red and white ones too and, yes, even teh setters of teh oppressor. I don't know what it is, but they've always been the dog I've wanted to own. Some day I will have one, but they seem to have completely fallen out of fashion (maybe the breeders are more responsible than other breeders, or maybe it's just because they have such a reputation for being kind of crazy and destructive, although very sweet) and they don't even show up in rescue. Which is good in one way, but in another way, it means I would have to buy one in order to fulfil my dream of owning one, and I just am not someone who buys dogs.

Perhaps, as usual, I am overthinking this.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Let's post drunk!

I've had a large measure of sippin' tequila and a couple of beers and I'm pleasantly drunk. What shall we talk about? I've been talking about the horrors of Celebrity Big Brother all day with my internet pals, and I'm bored doing that now. I'm only still watching it because I am fascinated by older Dirk Benedict. I haven't seen him, even a picture of him, since about, what, 1985 or something? It's so strange to look at him now. I feel like I went to school with him or something. He looks so much the same, but older. And more right-wing. It's so strange.

Celebrity Big Brother would be greatly improved by less bullying and racism, and more Dirk Benedict face down in the mud scrambling under a net with Jermaine Jackson and H from Steps singing the music from the A-Team out of the back of a limousine at him. I mean, how could any Sopranos dream sequence compete with something like that?

You know what? I feel down. And why? Because I haven't finished reading a book since the middle of November, and I kind of miss writing my book.

And I miss Jack and Stephen.

Feel warm though. Yum yum. Sleeps.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

ATP countdown starts NOW!

Mister Monkey got tickets to ATP for Christmas. Okay, he didn't actually get the physical tickets, because that would be against the law or something, but he got to look at the charge for them on the credit card. We were talking about it today, and we are kind of excited about the fact that we seem to be the only people we know who are going. This would be bad if we had booked a four-person chalet, but there will just be us in our hotel-like room.

It turns out that loads of people we like are playing, such as Joanna Newsom, and Papa M, and some interesting acoustic thing which may or may not be members of Spiritualized and Spacemen 3, and of course Low and Dirty Three. Oh, and various Nick Cave/Dirty Three side projects.

Cat Power is also playing. She is someone I have not been well disposed towards in the past, but People say that her album from 2006 is amazing, so maybe I will have to try and hear it and reevaluate her and become a huge Cat Power fan.

No comet

Mister Monkey and I got up at 7.30 both yesterday morning and this morning to see Comet McNaught (or McNaught's Comet, in the old money ). Clear skies above us for miles around, but a nice line of clouds all along the horizon. What is the point, I ask you, of having a completely clear view of the eastern horizon if you cannot use it to look at comets heralding the end of the world or somesuch.

Oh well. At least there was a knifing wind.

You could say our expedition was FOR NAUGHT!

I thank you.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Insert joke about having started and finished here

Magnus Magnusson has died. This is very sad. He was an excellent host of a very hard quiz, a solid historian, and an avuncular all round good bloke who remains one of the TV icons of my childhood.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Not looking well

Step up to the plate, my first Dead Pool candidate for 2007. You are Hosni Mubarak. Apparently little Hosni is not very well. So he is number one. Number two is Fidel Castro, of course.

Now I only need to worry about the other eight. And some sort of retribution for wishing harm on Mubarak and Castro.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Things you learn on a Friday night

Number one: Jade Goody is rubbish, but friendly.
Number two: Not even David Tennant can make the Friday Night Project watchable.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Dead Pool 2007

Well, I was rightly arsed over in my 2006 Dead Pool. Only one of them died, and he was what, 81? So that gives me 19 points.


Frankly, Team Monkey is going to have to come up with something better this year. I will be doing my research, I can tell you. The Economist will help me, I'm sure.

Who do you suggest?

Actually, three questions in and the question thing is already really annoying me, so I'll stop.

Joel Stein does not care

And he is right.

I too have had enough of listening to radio programmes where half the programme is made up of listeners' texts, or watching television programmes that have text messages scrolling across the bottom of the screen, or people in general who think that just because they have an opinion about something, it automatically gives them as much authority as everyone else.

The sad thing is that it's not confined to telly and radio, but has leaked into the wider world. In a recent issue of Big Brain Journal I was reading, scientists were talking about the current state of the relationship between science and politics in the U.S. (not very good, in case you were wondering) and what could be done about it. One of the problems, as they, the trained scientists, saw it, was that any politician or muttonhead off the street seemed to be able to go around and make decisions on things like stem cell research or nuclear fission or evolution, without having any knowledge at all of the thing they were legislating for or against or talking about. Scientists do not think that that is the best way to get science done, or run a larger society. And I agree with them. People should shut up and do as they're told by people in authority, and not ask awkward questions.

No, wait, I don't mean that. But that's what muttonheads want you to think I mean, because they want you to think that the logical conclusion of preventing people without special expertise from making decisions that require special expertise is that we end up living in godless vats while our eggs are sucked out of us to be experimented on, killed, and then ghoulishly reanimated in front of us to wander the earth as undead atheists wishing they came from safe, two-parent, heterosexual, godly families. The scientists in Big Brain Journal offered a couple of solutions to this problem.
  1. Make people learn more about science.
  2. Make scientists learn more about people who don't know about science, so they can talk to them better.
At no point did they suggest a text poll.

How do you feel about science and politics?

New blog, new danger

Recently I read an article in The Economist about Mena Trott, who is the (I'm sure) nice young lady who owns Six Apart, along with her husband. If you have a TypePad blog or a LiveJournal, then she owns your soul and doesn't like you putting pictures of your breasts on the Internet (ha ha, humour, please don't sue me). But apparently 30 million people don't mind that, because they blog using her blogging tools. The Economist got excited about her latest blogging community, which is called Vox. I decided to step over to Vox and see what it's like, and it's basically like a combination of the good bits of LJ--community, fun, people popping in and out to say random stuff to you, handy tagging, nice ways of organizing your information--with the good bits of Blogger--clear interface, good blogging space, er, you know. I suspect it also has many of the OMG LOLZ bouncing kitty avatar bits of LJ as well, but you get those kind of nutters everywhere.

Anyway, I set up my own blog there just to see what it is like. I think I will crosspost for a month or so and see what happens (obviously after this post. Not much point in crossposting this post). I don't feel like migrating another blog, and to be honest, I sort of like the slightly curmudgeonly air that Blogger has. "Oh, are you part of some lovely online community where everyone has polls and chats and friends and family?" "No, I'm on Blogger. Read or don't read it, I couldn't give a fuck." So loads of really good people will need to end up wanting to be my virtual friend or I will forget about the whole idea.

Apparently the way to lure loads of people on to your blog is to ask stupid questions, as if you were a radio station trying to generate revenue by getting people to text in. Apparently that's what all those memes are for. Then you can build up your advertising. What do you think?

It is a new year

And of course the antsiness sets in something rotten, doesn't it? You want to paint things, move things, throw stuff out, get fit, get healthy, call your friends more, but mostly you want to sit on the sofa and watch repeats of ER and make resolutions that are easy to keep. Preferably things you've already started doing some time in December, because you're already halfway there. That's the trick people always use when they're making out their Objectives and Key Results in their jobs, isn't it? Of course, you know you're in trouble if your resolutions are indistinguishable from your OKRs. That means you care more about work than you do about you.

There is never any danger of this happening to me.

I have, therefore, made some good old-fashioned resolutions for 2006 (wait, it's 2007).

  1. Go into Dublin twice a month. I was originally planning on it being once a week, but there's no point in setting yourself up for failure straight away.
  2. Read all the unread (almost wrote undead there) books in the house before buying any new books. Luckily, I went on Amazon and bought all the books off my wishlist to add to the pile, so I will have plenty of reading material for the year. Of course, if I carry on reading at the rate I'm going, I won't need any new books.
  3. Start volunteering again. It's been six months since I did anything for anyone other than myself, and that's not really acceptable to me.
You will notice that these are all positive resolutions. Doing, rather than denial, is the key here. Wish me luck.

Do you have resolutions?

Wot's goin' on?

Recently I have fallen out of love with EastEnders, having been an avid viewer for twenty years or so. It just got rubbish. The day I decided to stop watching it for good was the day that Ian was about to set off for a weekend with the Walford Round Table (or some such organization that had just been invented) and was going to pass Dawn off as his wife, because of some hilarious mixup that had happened at another event. Utter rubbish.

But, over Christmas, like everyone else, I got sucked in by the promise of seeing Pauline's sour face get a smacking and then seeing her end up dead. Unlike my mother, who pronounced the whole thing "stupid", I actually loved the couple of weeks leading up to it, in which Pauline pretended to have a brain tumour, then confessed that she didn't have one after all and walled herself up in her smoke-damaged house to live like some demented Dickensian withered widow woman, sniping at anyone who wandered into the frightening shell she called home.

And then today, well. Today was the funeral, filled with such classy moments as the traditional East End horse drawn carriage, the quiet threats from Martin toward poor old Mr. Benn, and Peggy's magnificent line in response to Mo's "what you doing 'ere? You didn't even like 'er." "I just wanted to be sure," said Peggy. "And I 'ad this 'at."

But the final scene, where the police come for Sonya during the funeral, while Dusty Springfield sings "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" and the curtains close on Pauline's spectral face in a hideous framed photo and the obligatory flower display spelling out "Mum" (presumably from Shell, who didn't bother her arse to come to the funeral, which just proves what a miserable old bitch Pauline really was), was a moment of pure, over the top genius. Happy New Year, the BBC. Perhaps I will have to start watching Stenders again.