We Could Send Letters

(WARNING: Make a cup of tea or something. This is a post with a length of Champions. It may need a beverage. I recommend a nice plain chocolate digestive, as well, but then, I would)

Another entry from 30,000 feet. I hope you all feel honoured. This time, I have a brand-spanking new battery, and the time remaining is 4h 30m. Which may just take me up to the British coastline.

Today has been one of those days where you're just begging to be put out of your misery by the time the evening roles around. To start off, both the upstairs and downstairs contingent of the house slept in this morning, so Laura had to run and catch the bus, making our goodbye rather abrupt and sudden.

Having got off to such a disconcerting start, I decided that I would pretend to be an American for a day, and leave check-in to an almost unheard of time of two hours before the flight was due to take off (I'm the type of person who turns up to things ridiculously early - seven hours before the flight back in December). I had a few errands to run in Chapel Hill, and I thought I'd say goodbye to the campus (and the evil squirrels that are even now plotting their world domination plans), and I wanted to get lunch in town so I didn't have to rely on the flight's food for my main meal of the day (and I'm glad I did; they said it was chicken and stuffing. I'm still not convinced. Neither was my stomach). That went okay, so I headed back to Laura's to finish packing and write a few goodbye emails and so forth.

This took longer than expected. So much so that I was running late to catch the TTA bus to the airport. In my haste, I only managed to half strip the bed and left the cooling fan on (for which I again apologise, Laura 8-)). It was time for a quick dash to Franklin Street.

Obviously, this is where things started going horribly wrong. The path from Laura's house to the main part of the town is a steep hill. Now, I knew this. I also knew that I had two really heavy bags, plus a backpack containing a laptop computer. Somehow, though, my brain didn't connect these things, or the fact that it was a hot day outside.

Mistake.

By the time I got to Franklin Street, I'd lost half-a-stone in sweat. I felt as if I was leaving a trail of water behind me. And I really needed a drink. But I couldn't get a drink, because the TTA bus would be coming shortly. So I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

The TTA bus turned up ten minutes late, and I attempted to kill myself by lifting the bags by myself. Somehow, I managed this and collapsed into a seat. The airport is only half-an-hour away.

When I got to the airport, I realised that in my hurry to leave Laura's, I forgot to put the address tags on my bags, so when I pulled all my cases inside, I had to open all the bags to find them. Hurrah! Things weren't all bad, though; there was no line, so I got my boarding pass straight away, and the TSA inspector was quite amusing, threatening to impound my Hallowe'en sweets. This state of affairs was obviously just a phase. As I walked off to the security desk, I discovered that I didn't have my boarding pass. Panic. Lots of panic. I headed back over to the check-in desk, and we started looking for my ticket home. We found it in front of the counter, where I must have clumsily dropped it as soon as the check-in guy gave it to me. Just. Want. To. Die. Raced through security looking for falling pianos. Collapsed in airport lounge.

Now eating a Toblerone. I think I deserve it, frankly.

When I was flying out, I meant to mention some of the fantastic things you can do on a plane. Apart from screaming "fire" and being beaten to a pulp by air stewardesses. Yes, I'm talking about the AA SkyMall catalogue, a fine piece of literature. For, indeed, where else could you order a Scrabble set where the letter pieces are plated with 24 carat gold? Or obtain the "world's best personal air purifier" that contains two notes - the first telling you not to be taken in by the cheaper $70 versions, and the second, which warns you that if you have a pacemaker, You Will Die. So they must suffer impure air, I assume (perhaps the $70 versions are less lethal?). They have a projector which projects an image of Christmas lights onto your house, so you don't have to do something dangerous like hang them up (actually, I think my Mum would appreciate this during the weekend where Dad puts the lights up, and we all go away for the day, because we're afraid he'll fall. Thinking about it, it would make more sense if we stayed to help if he fell. But anyway), an inflatable bed that deflates in 15 seconds, and, the holiest of useless gadgets — a hot dog cooker. Yes. It's shaped like a toaster, with two large cylinders at both ends to warm the rolls, and two small cylinders in the middle to cook the sausages. Apparently, it's even adjustable!

(Look, there's no decent films on. I'm not sitting through Matrix: Reloaded again, and I've seen From Russia With Love approximately 3,453 times. I finished the Lyndon Johnson biography last night (in case people were interested, it finishes just as he enlists for World War II, and there's a bit on FDR just to remind you that there are no saints), oh — As we're talking about reading material, I should move on to my next point)

Something that came into my mind while looking around the shops at the airport: the shops sell papers and magazines for people to read on the plane. Okay, you think. That's reasonable. But, why sell porn magazines? Who in their right mind is going to buy a porn magazine to read on a plane?! Is this one of those questions that you shouldn't ask, for fear of meeting one of the answers? As I understand it, isn't it more of a *ahem* solitary thing? Is there some form of etiquette that isn't taught at school (along with how to properly clean a bin or getting rid of fruitflies)? I'm curious. But not that curious, I suppose.

(There's still four hours of this flight left. Chances of me coming off sane are fairly slim at this point. Chances of you getting fed up and deciding to come back when the nutcase-effect has worn off — probably quite high)

And, not wishing to sound too much like a bad observational comedian, I think that babies should only be allowed on a plane if they're knocked unconscious beforehand. At first it's cute. As we enter the second hour of ear-splitting screaming, however, you start getting evil thoughts about the safety doors. Which I command! I am sitting in the Danger Row! If the plane crashes, it's all up to me!

We're so doomed.

You should all go see Lost In Translation. I know I said that last week, but I think I should say it again. Go!

Now, should I attempt to get some sleep? But someone might steal my Toberlone! It's MINE! My precious!

(No Ian, it doesn't matter how many times you open an Internet window. It's not going to work. — Ed.)

Like last time, the plane is half empty. (Oh, living on a ghost plane (Stop that. — Terry Hall)) Whole rows are vacant. Except mine. Grr. I need breathing room! Perhaps I should have enquired about an upgrade. Haha.

We're past Quebec! The Atlantic Ocean awaits. Lots of it. Not that I can see anything, as it's quite dark outside, and it's night, and I'm not sitting next to a window (For the love of God, stop typing — Ed.).

Oh! I must recommend the new Ben & Jerry's Fudge Core ice-cream. Chocolate and vanilla ice-cream, black and white chocolate chips, plus a core of liquid fudge. Hmmm. There's half a pint sitting in Laura's freezer, which doesn't really help anyone except for Laura and Rebecca, but the ice-cream is really good.

Now, if I could talk like this, instead of just writing it all down, I'd be much happier (of course, you would probably back away slowly anytime I came near you for fear of drowning in verbal nonsense, so perhaps it's not a great asset to have, after all).

CNN is reveling in the Rush Limbaugh story. It's like they can barely conceal the grins on their faces: "You've spent years calling us liberal freaks! It's payback time, beyotch! We're going to spend half-an-hour on this story, even if people are still getting shot at in Iraq!" They've found all his broadcasts where he screams about how drug abusers should be sent straight to prison, gleefully playing them over and over again. I feel bad that I don't feel more sorry for the guy. And then I remember some of the things that he's said over the years, and I don't feel quite so bad anymore.

Betty Boo is doing the do! If anybody was on Hillsborough Street last Thursday night, I apologise if the sight of a rain-soaked dancing Englishman offended you. It couldn't be helped, honestly.

I'm now giving titles to the photos I took while in Chapel Hill. Back soon.

Hmm. I suck at taking pictures of people. I have a perfectly focussed picture of Laura. In mid-cough. In the photo I took five seconds later, she's little more than a "Think Green" blur.

I just named a picture "get down with your funky self, yo". I am so white. But I'm happily burning the battery life away by playing with iPhoto, so you'll be spared from this gibberish shortly. Admittedly, it tells me I still have two hours left, so you'll have to put up with a little more.

Hmm. What to talk about. Well, I didn't really say a lot about the weekend, so I could fill that out a little. Yes, on Saturday I was caught being too English. There was also talk of going to a corn maze, but Leigh had work to do and the day was dreary, so we settled on an afternoon of dog-throwing and trying to wrestle leaves from the said dog's mouth. It's more entertaining than it sounds, I swear. Then Laura showed me her pictures of her highly-illegal visit to Cuba (Mr. Ashcroft is making a list, and he's checking it twice). She told me interesting stories of how the people love Castro, how they were so welcoming, a surprise considering how we're always told how Evil Cuba, and how depressing the whole situation is. We know how to rock a Saturday night. International Politics is the new rock'n'roll (it must be a nice dreamworld that you live in —Ed.)

Yesterday (or two days ago, by the time anybody reads this; and if you've got down to here, you deserve a medal or cash prize. I'm not saying you'll get one, but boy you deserve one) was an even slower day. Laura and I went to a little café that she knew about. It was a very picturesque place - we got there by walking along the trail (it was one of those "it's just around the corner affairs") and then going up an embankment to get to the outside seats. We didn't do much except for sit, read, and work, but it was a great way to spend a day (well, I thought so. Laura, who spent the afternoon working through her media work, may have wanted to be anywhere but working, but I digress). After that, I was treated to my final American experience — the drive-thru. It was the proper experience, in that I could barely understand what was being said at the window, they had run out of certain things, and neither of us got what we ordered. I would have felt cheated otherwise. We went back to the house, and watched Jared Leto lean up against a wall, while I quizzed Laura on whether American High School parties were really as good as they are on TV (not quite, apparently).

Then! Tea! With! Chocolate! Digestive! Biscuits! Bonnie, there are more of us then there are of you! We dip! We dunk! And we love it!

Ahem. So, that was Sunday. A most enjoyable day, if I may say so.

Orange Juice!

Oh! One more thing before I go! From what I can make out, Bill Berry didn't play the Georgia concert, so I can safely say that it was unique…

I think I'm going to stop now. I could keep going, but I've hit 2,000 words, and I think that more is just torturing you. No more words. England is fast approaching. Chapel Hill is receding once more, although like last time, I think that a part of me will always be there in spirit. I'm a Tar Heel born...

Pet Shop Boys — Heart

Definition of a Geek

I'm sitting in the airport, using their cyber-cafe to type this. We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when...
currently playing: Dido - White Flag (over the cafe speakers)

Wiggle That Big Toe

Uma Thurman will Kill Bill. And if you think that the films gets amore complicated than that, then you're sadly mistaken. For this is Tarantino's fourth film. For this is the action film he's always wanted to make. For this is a film that has a fight with the Crazy 88s and makes the Burly Brawl look like the sad excuse for CGI that it was. For this is a film about references, from the opening Star Trek title card to the return of Sonny Chiba. For this is a film about a yellow tracksuit. For this is a film that Harvey Weinstein must have spent a fortune bribing the MPAA to get an R-rating. For this is a film about swords, blood, gore, and revenge. No more. No less. Uma Thurman will Kill Bill.

currently playing: The Jesus & Mary Chain — Just Like Honey

Caught Being Too English

Eating pizza with a knife and fork in Pizza Hut. Laura and her friends (Leigh and the gleefully insane Anne) put me back on the straight and narrow (although it does seem awfully rude not to use the cutlery provided).

Hmm. I think I'm getting a sore throat. But I'll be in the land of Strepsils soon enough.

currently playing: Wilco — I am trying to break your heart

Your Eyes Are Burning Holes Through Me

And now the secret can be revealed: I saw Michael Stipe on Thursday. Thanks to a hot tip from Janet Jones, I knew where they were staying in Chapel Hill, so I "followed with interest" around the hotel until I spotted somebody...

The concert? It was pretty unique. While I've always been vaguely aware that R.E.M. are a band from the Southern part of the US, it only became clear last night: this was a homecoming concert. Their first gig outside of Georgia was the Cat's Cradle in Chapel Hill; Radio Free Europe was a Triangle hit, and so, last night, they were coming home.

Highlights included Michael Stipe's increasingly frantic dancing (it seems to be getting more Ian Curtis like with every performance), (and the teased-out strip which seemed to to impress the girls in our little group), discovering that I'm not the only person who loves 'Electrolite' (yay for New Adventures in Hi-Fi!), a spine-tingling version of 'Nightswimming', plus a six-song encore.

And then there were the words that I'd never expected to hear: "On drums, Mr. Bill Berry!" The crowd went wild, cheering him on at that point and when he came onstage to sing the harmonies on 'Radio Free Europe'. Then he climbed into the drum section. (At this point, I thought it might be a good idea to tell Laura exactly why everybody around her was excited 8-)) The original line-up of R.E.M. playing together again for the first time in years. Oh yes.

So, a great night. I also met another of Laura's friends yesterday, Stacie, plus one of her friends, Duane (the biggest R.E.M. fan I've ever met), and he brought one of his friends, Jennifer (it was like a Friendster chain, I suppose). And! Krispy! Kreme! Oh God. Laura kept on telling me how nice they were hot, but I never truly believed. I repent, and now worship at the altar of the glazing machine…

currently playing: R.E.M. — Little America

*clears throat*

Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! BILL BERRY! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry! Bill Berry!

currently playing: back to the crickets

Conversations Not Likely To Be Heard In Tescos

Have you ever thrown a real grenade?

I look around, and I realise that the store clerk is talking to me. "Umm, no", I say, weighing up the option of running out of the shop and leaving my purchases behind. "I have. It's cool. My dad was in the war, and he has a bunch left over. If you threw you out there -" he points to the car park out side " - it'll blow a hole in that Buick!"

"Really?" Is it just me, or is the other guy ringing up my things really slowly? Somebody help me!

"Yeah. Sometimes, we pull the pin out, and put it back in quickly. And then we have duds, so we pull the pins out of them and throw them at passers-by. Hehehe."

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, the Harris Teeter at Carrboro.

Thursday night: not too much to report. There was drinking, more drinking, trying to look after Kavi, who had started ahead of everybody else and still wanted more to drink (plus a weird atmosphere between her and Sona, which almost derailed the night before it began), more Eliot quoting, and a ride home from the guy who hosted the party in Raleigh that I went to back in February. Here, have a picture:

currently playing: R.E.M. — Bad Day (did I mention that Bill Berry played last night?)

How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?

They're working on it.

This may mark me out as a Font Nazi, but anyway: if you're making a professional documentary, please stay away from Comic Sans. It looks really bad as a title font. (It's not all that good as a comic lettering font, either, but that's a whole different story) Stick to Arial or Helvetica if you want a clean, simple style of type.

I had lots of things that I was going to talk about today, but after getting drenched in the rain and running back to Laura's, I've completely forgotten everything. Ho hum.

Oh! Wendy's Gift Vouchers! I noticed that they sell them today. What sort of occasion is right for Wendy's vouchers, I wonder?

— Honey! Look what I've got you for our anniversary! — $50 in Wendy's vouchers? — Yes dear. I hope your arteries choke. — Why, thank you, dear. And here's your present. — $50 in ABC vouchers? — Yes. Find the cheapest, nastiest brand of vodka, and drink yourself into the nearest emergency room.

Or something like that.

I do actually have something to write about, but I think it needs to remain secret until tomorrow, to protect my sources. (Of course, the first thing I did after getting my info was to send an email to Laura about it, who just happens to be a reporter for the college newspaper, but she has no voice today, so she couldn't tell anybody even if she wanted to 8-)).

currently playing: Life Without Buildings — Sorrow

24 Hours To Save Me

You have twenty-four hours to dissuade me from buying a digital camcorder. Go.
currently playing: Stellastarr* - Jenny

Please Don't Take Your Pictures

I think a shout out to Allison Walsh is required, considering that almost everyone I've spoken to in the past couple of days has said that she told them that this site was a good read. I suggest stronger glasses, but thanks for the kind words.

America needs to import Strepsils and industrial strength Lemsip.

Went to Henry's last night. It's the night that all the International students go, and I went a few times last year. It's always extremely busy, and last night was no exception. It was hard to hear the person next to you talking. But still, a good time was had; I met up with (and I apologise in advance for spelling the names wrong - hold on a second (takes off UNITAS t-shirt to look at the names)) Ai Ling, Li Li and Kira, as well as Sona and Parthe, so it turned out to a mini UNITAS reunion. Everybody seems to be leaving for the weekend, so Thursday is going to be the last night I'll be seeing most people. Almost time to go again.

For the UK readers: you'll be pleased to know it has been raining almost all day today. However, it's 20˚C, so I think I still win.

What to do with the rest of today? Hunting through the second-hand bins for a copy of JAMC's "Just Like Honey"? Some Iranian cinema? I think so.

Ninety days to go. Ninety days to go.

currently playing: Life Without Buildings — Let's Get Out