Part of the Kongresszentrum complex (where I gave my talk on Thursday)

Karlruhe Bahnhof

Getting off the Deutsch Bahn IC train at Karlruhe

Baden Airpark

A small but perfectly-formed airport...

Germany Day 1: Baden-Baden-Baden-Baden-Baden-Baden-Baden

Stansted Airport is like all British airports I’ve been to; it looks lovely on the outside, but when you get inside, it instead looks half-finished, with flimsy wood panels and holes in the concrete walls (they might sever some purpose, but, with the cracked plaster around them, it didn’t look like it).

Okay, a digression: Babyshambles. Why? From a rockist point of view, they can barely play, and their songs don’t meet a Popist perspective at all. I suspect that fluoride in the water has addled people’s brains.

Anyway, the flight to Germany was uneventful, aside from a discouraging moment on the ground where the pilot wiped the front cockpit window with his sleeve. Filled me with confidence, I can tell you.

Lost In Baden Airpark

I would, at this juncture, protest that the predicament that I found myself in was not entirely of my own making. I had done some planning, and a reasonably thorough investigation led me to believe that a bus on the 205 line would take me to Karlsruhe. Imagine my surprise, therefore, when I discovered that there were two 205 lines, each going to different destinations. Adding to the mix was a coach that claimed it was part of the 140 line, which I ignored because it wasn’t what I was looking for. So I waited. The coach drove off.

I waited.

The bus was now ten minutes late. While waiting, I wandered over to the 140 stop, discovering something curious. Its timetable was exactly the same as the 205 bus I was waiting for. Somehow, I knew that the bus I was waiting for was never going to appear. And the next coach wasn’t coming for another two hours. Oh, and it was approaching 40˚C outside. Excellent.

But then! A 205 bus turned up. I hoped that it would be the right one. I would ask the driver.

Now, I was already feeling twinges of language guilt. I can understand a tiny, tiny bit of German, but not as much as I probably should. These feelings weren’t helped by a guy coming up to me and asking for directions (in German, natch). Anyway, the driver and I struggled, eventually ending up embarrassingly pointing to slots on the timetable. We managed to work out that this wasn’t the bus for where I wanted to go. He drove off, and I was left alone in the airport.

Sadly, once I have a travel plan, I tend to try and stick to it at all costs, preferring the known to the unknown. As the bus drove away, I realised that I could have got on that bus to the nearest town, Baden-Baden, and instead take a train to Karlsruhe. But no. However, checking the timetables again, I saw that another local 205 bus would be coming in an hour. So I had a choice: I could wait one hour and have an uncertain time at the station, or wait two and go straight to Karlsruhe.

I took the local bus. After a few adventures with the ticket machine, I managed to purchase a train ticket, and twenty minutes later, I came out of Karlsruhe station, right outside the zoo.

I eventually found my hotel, the Novatel, checked in (and played with the fancy radio keycard that you needed to operate the lifts), and then decided to register at the conference itself. Loads of different booths - even Microsoft made an appearance (and stranger still, there wasn’t a group of people hissing at them either)! The Red Hat staff were all wearing red fedoras; initially I thought they were selling them too, but sadly I was wrong.

Wandering around, I bumped into the Open Source Press, and got to have a look at the book I’m in. Very nice, if completely incomprehensible to a non-German reader. I talked to Dr. Markus Wirtz, who was the person who asked me to write a chapter for the book; he said lots of complimentary things about my work, which was rather nice. After saying goodbye to him, I had another wander, and then decided to try and find the centre of the city to get something to eat (as my last meal was a bar of Cadbury’s at twelve hours ago)

Karlsruhe has a quite large town centre, and for some reason, with all the trams rolling around, it reminded me of Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens, only considerably longer. I found an Asian café and managed to order a meal, only coming unstuck when asking for a drink. I though I could get away with ‘ein Coca-Cola Light, bitte’, but apparently not.

On the way back, I went past a cinema that was showing Episode III. I briefly thought about watching it to see if James Earl Jones would scream “NEEEEIIIIIIIINNN!” at the end, but thought that was quite sad, and so instead had a look around the city’s castle before returning back to the hotel for a run-through of the next day’s presentation, watching BBC World on the TV, and then bed…

To be continued!

currently playing: Bloc Party — So Here We Are

Humans Are Made of Water, Holy Smoke Batman!

Quick spoiler-free review of Batman Begins: not too bad, but still a fair way short of the Animated Series’ Mask of The Phantasm. Still, worth seeing for Gary Oldman’s fantastic portrayal of Jim Gordon; he should have been in it more (at the expense of Katie Holmes. No harm to her, but her character was superfluous to the film).

Anyway, off to Germany tonight. Not sure if I’ll have an Internet connection, so I might be gone a few days. Talk amongst yourselves!

currently playing: Martha & The Muffins – Indecision

"I haven't been a kid since I was eight years old"

The Dini-Timm animated Batman is just perfect. Off to see Batman Begins

currently playing: The Magic Numbers — Love Me Like You

This Is The Post

…where we can all laugh at the US Grand Prix.

And Gavin, my opinion of Martin Brundle has improved a little…

currently playing: The New Pornographers — Use It

Live Aid 20 Years Old

Well, if nothing else, watching the BBC’s retrospective has got me interested in an Annabel Giles/Bob Geldof cagematch. For the heart of Ure! To the death!

currently playing: The Slits — Shoplifting

Yay! Not Adam!

But…I think we should start a campaign here and now to prevent RTD from writing the second parts of any more episodes.

Okay, first ten minutes: AWESOME. The Emperor Dalek (thus dredging up old continuity but yet avoiding fun Davros scenes), "DO-NOT-BLAS-PHEME!", and so on. But as soon as the Doctor sent Rose back through time, the episode fell apart, flicking between present-day Earth and Captain Jack's team in the future, while the Doctor…fiddles with some wires for half-an-hour.

(anybody else think it amusing that the best special effect this series has had was a small child with a gas mask?)

Then there was the resolution, which, if you're kind, stole considerably from The Phoenix Saga, and if you're being cruelly honest, rewrote some portions of Buffy's dialogue in Season 4's Primeval episode and stuck it on-screen. And yes, completely wrong about Bad Wolf, although as soon as the Emperor said it wasn't him, I knew it was Rose. Perhaps next time, she could send herself something less oblique, like "Stick a recovery lorry on the TARDIS! And get some jellybabies!" Plus, given the choice between killing everybody left on Earth and destroying the Dalek fleet, or dying and letting the Daleks harvest Earth for a new army to conquer the universe, I would hope that he would have set the Delta-wave in motion (as Bonnie and I are at pains to point out - the Seventh Doctor would have done it in a heartbeat; or more accurately, make the Daleks think that it would be a great weapon for themselves to set off). I guess that we're supposed to think that he's already killed his own race to stop them once before, and that didn't work.

Okay, I think all my problems with the episode can be summed up in one sentence: The Doctor did not save the day.

Also, hopefully, with the amount of technobabble in tonight's episode, the writers/producers will stop being all superior towards the previous incarnations next year as well.

Ehh. After spending the week looking forward to it, the episode was something of a let down. But I did like the Ninth Doctor's final words:

Rose, before I go, I just want to tell you, you were fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. And do you know what? So was I.

The Christmas Invasion! Any bets on seeing the Paul McGann-Eccleston regeneration?

currently playing: Interpol — Obstacle 2

More Misc-y Things

Firstly: a prize to Lush for naming their new shower gel Sonic Death Monkey. I don’t know, or care what it is, all I know is that I need some Sonic Death Monkey shower gel in my life…

Secondly: people who are complaining about the harmonies in the new Saint Etienne album: You. Are. Wrong.

Thirdly, fun stuff with After Effects!

currently playing: Saint Etienne — Stars Above Us