My Brand New Pill-box Hat

An ungodly amount of girl-group music. AND IT'S ALL MINE!

Tough Times In Carrboro

They get their furniture from IKEA now…damn Carrboro yuppies…

So I Decided To Walk

Five words that normally spell disaster. I’m staying at Leigh’s at the moment, which is a lot further out of Chapel Hill than where I’ve stayed in the past. There is a Chapel Hill Transit bus route nearby (free of charge, of course; yet another reason why I love this town - its public transport links are better than many British towns, which you can’t say often in America), but I waited for about twenty minutes and thought ‘oh well, I’ll just walk to 15-501, and get the bus there’.

Yes, you can see where I went wrong. I walked for an hour, crossing the bridge over Interstate 40 (with centimetre clearances between myself and oncoming traffic), up hill, down mushy dale (Americans! PAVEMENTS! They’re fun for all the family!), and got rather concerned that I wasn’t recognising any of the landmarks as I was walking. Being too stubborn to turn back, I kept going. And going. As I was giving up hope, I saw a big blue building in the distance. I thought it was the Blue Cross Shield centre, but no, it was a BB&T office. But! As I saw hope dashed before my eyes, I saw the dilapidated K-Mart to my right. To my left, the new Super Target.

I had walked to Target. Oh my poor feet.

Thankfully, I knew there was a TTA bus station nearby, so I was soon heading into Chapel Hill. Today was an exploring day; wandering around the town, visiting the comic shop (obviously), bumping into Leanne (twice!), heading down to campus, then off to Southpoint Mall and New Hope Commons. Where I broke down and bought Tetris DS. Ooh, it’s good.

currently playing: The Dresden Dolls – Sex Changes

Flight AA173 To Transcentral

It is, perhaps, somewhat disconcerting to get on a plane being greeted by the uplifted sound of Radiohead’s No Surprises. Not exactly the tunbe to get you in the holiday spirit. But then. Flight AA173 is less a holiday flight and more of an extended bus journey, not just for myself, but for the seemingly endless parade of people working in the Raleigh Technology Park who use this flight. At check-in, security and boarding, it’s always the same; chance meetings, bumping into an old friend at IBM, and so on. Me? It’s just occurred to me that this is the fourth consecutive year I’ve been on this flight. Which scares me a little.

But I think I’m all ready. I’m slightly odd in that I appear to undergo a slight change whenever I fly back to Chapel Hill. I dress slightly differently, I wear a set of glasses that I don’t wear back home, and I guess I feel a little different. Which is not to say that I jump into a telephone kiosk and suddenly develop a weakness for kryptonite (and really, that should be in my computer dictionary with the amount of times that I use it). I just feel slightly different when I’m in America than I do when I’m in Britain (and it’s not just being off work, either, as when I was working at UNC, I felt the same way).

Nothing too interesting this flight in way of the SkyMall catalogue. Aside from the usual hot dog/bun heaters that I normally come across, the only other thing of note was a Möbius strip with the Lord’s Prayer etched into its silver frame. It’s a merger of science and religion! Or something. The in-flight magazine lets you know just how little it thinks of coach passengers by including a six-page feature on why company directors are having a hard time in the US at the moment, because they might be legally liable if their company breaks the law. Awww. I’m sure we all feel sorry for them.

Another thought: after four years on this flight - the menu hasn’t changed once. You will always be given the option of “beef with brown gravy” (we’re entering American country now, of course, which means that ‘gravy’ will get you a slimy white substance almost definitely of a dubious origin) or ‘chicken with pasta’ (actually, not too bad). Then about an hour from landing, the menu says that we will get a snack. This invariably turns out to be a single-person pizza, which is surprisingly nice. I have to say I look forward to that part of the flight.

I have played every single circuit of Mario Kart. I’m afraid to go into Animal Crossing, because I haven’t been into my village for ages. The animals may have burnt it down by now (they can’t be trusted with anything). But I still have four and a half hours to go, so I’ve got to do something…

Leaving On A Jet Plane Part…You Know By Now

Off to Chapel Hill again tomorrow. Expect lots of fancy pictures with my new camera, extended meandering blog entries, and lots more! Meeting back up with friends, drink experiments, electrical experiments, and Chapel Hill Comics.


currently playing: James Taylor – Carolina in My Mind

Why I Have The Best Sister Ever!

My birthday present (early, as I’m flying out on Monday):

I'm Going To Take One For The Team

A Wibbly, Wobbly World of Their Own

Today, Time Warner is continuing that policy by releasing "V for Vendetta" – a vile, pro-terrorist piece of neo-Marxist, left-wing propaganda filled with radical sexual politics and nasty attacks on religion and Christianity.

WorldNetDaily! Not a joke! Not a dream!

currently playing: Lemon Jelly – Stay With You

Hold! Hold!




currently playing: Swing Out Sister – It’s Not Enough

The Man In Room Five

(I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers, but I’m going to be talking about the differences between the comic and the film, so if you haven’t seen it, I’d avoid this entry for now)

Firstly, we shouldn’t be under any illusions. V For Vendetta, the comic, is not a flawless masterpiece. As one of Alan Moore’s early works, it is hamstrung by the structural constraints placed on its serial in Warrior, coupled with the final book being written several years after the first two (because of Warrior’s demise). Even the setting of the original story is a little suspect, a failing Moore acknowledged in the introduction to the graphic novel edition and during interviews around the same time - “We had supposed that it would take a nuclear war to make England veer towards fascism. In the end all it took was giving people the right to buy their own council house.” Despite all this, it’s still a powerful polemic, as subtle as a bag of hammers in places, and as subtle as a scalpel in others.

Ever since the film was announced, fans of the book have been worrying about it, especially since early rumours indicated that the film would be set in “an alternate reality where Germany won World War II,” which would have rather undermined the whole point of the story. Oh, and then there was V’s introductory speech, which consisted of him saying a lot of words that began with the letter V.

The bad news is that the speech is still in there, although thankfully, it doesn’t crop up again. The good news is that the WWII rumour was just that, and in fact, the Wachowski brothers have updated the story to reflect today rather than 1982. Instead of a nuclear war, we have a bioterror event that leads a Conservative MP to form a new party, Norsefire, which eventually wins Parliament (the book implies the slight collusion of the Royal Family; the film gives the new leader the dubious title of High Chancellor, suggesting that the WWII rumour may have come from an early draft of the screenplay).

Moore and Lloyd’s version is very working class, capturing the grimy nature of Britain in the early 1980s. By contrast, the film is middle-class; instead of back-breaking and poorly-paid work at a munitions factory, Evey is a seemingly well-paid PA at the British Television Network. Some have said that this weakens V’s point, as most of the characters seem to have reasonable lives, but I don’t think it does. After all, if you weren’t a Jew, you could get on quite well in 1930s Germany, and you could turn a blind eye to some of the measures that were going on around you. As they did.

Some of the changes don’t work - I felt that V’s television broadcast was pointlessly altered from Moore’s more intelligent version, and I was sad that the lack of CCTV camera meant we didn’t get the little girl’s “bollocks!” scene in all its glory (it’s partly in there, but it’s not quite the same). Also, the removal of Fate means that the film has a few extra plot holes (how did V manage to send all the parcels? How did he set the trip in the police file for Finch to find?). Finally, the Shadow Gallery seemed a little pointless - as the censorship of Britain was much less restrictive than in the original (and while I love that Cat Power track, it didn’t have the same resonance as “perhaps the term Tamla Motown” is familiar to you? Obviously not. Hardly surprising, I suppose. After all, they eradicated some cultures more thoroughly than they did others.“)

No punches are pulled in the torture scenes; if anything, they’re worse than the comic, borrowing images and devices from Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. Valerie’s letter is also handled better than I thought it would be, and the change in Gordon’s character, played by a film-stealing Stephen Fry, results in a much stronger connection between Evey and him, at the expense of some of the father issues explored in the book.

The finale has come in for quite a lot of criticism, and I have to confess that the touch of magic realism at the end didn’t quite work for me, and I yelled at the screen (for which I apologise) for the American-centric suggestion that the Army can be relied upon to have honour (having watched The Plot Against Wilson this week, it’s obvious that we can’t. And if he hadn’t been killed by the INLA, I would imagine that Lord Mountbatten would have played a large role in the original comic). I’m willing to forgive them a bit, though, as producing a blockbuster film that has that ending in today’s climate takes some courage.

So, did I like it? Well, I feel a little compromised by knowing the book. The trailer promises an action-packed film, and this really isn’t (much to the consternation of some in the theatre). At the same time, some of Moore’s ideas about Anarchy have been watered down or removed to make the film simpler - at one point a supermarket is held up by a robber shouting “Anarchy in The UK!”, which is followed by a Cabinet briefing on “the chaos”, sidestepping V’s explanation in the book of the difference. Having said that, it’s still a very interesting message for 2006: “Governments should be afraid of the people.”

currently playing: Johnny Boy – You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve