One small word. And yet it makes a world of difference.




currently playing: Them crickets again. Always chirping! Chirp chirp chirp...

The Squirrels Are Back

With their bushy tails and scheming eyes.

In celebration of my first day back at Chapel Hill...I walked to Carrboro. There's nothing quite like settling back into a routine. And, yes, Bonnie, the shop is still has the howitzer on sale.

It hasn't changed too much, although I've only been away five months, so I wouldn't expect it to look vastly different. A few shops have come and gone, half the university appears to be undergoing renovation, and Carmichael is still hidden behind road works.

I've been bumping into a few people around campus. It was quite fun walking through Sitterson Hall, going past people I taught last year, and seeing the slightly confused looks on their faces. I had quick word with Janet Jones, the Graduate Student Services Manager, who gave me a lot of help and advice last year, for which I'm extremely grateful. Then I ran into Sona (almost literally, as I was doing my "off in a little dreamworld all of my own" walk through the campus), and had lunch with him. Haven't managed to meet up with Kavita yet, but I imagine it won't be too long.


This may be protesting a little too much, but I want it on the record: my knowing that Britney Spears has a new record out in the next few months is simply a result of reading the music press. I do not endorse Ms. Spears or her products.


Right, off back to the Pit to see if any scary religious guys will be turning up this afternoon…

currently playing: Dexy's Midnight Runners — Manhood (it's my new theme song!)

I Finally Find What I'm Looking For

Right. Step on the bus to the Triangle Park. I'm immediately asked for directions. I'm cursed. Happily, I do remember where the Sheraton Hotel is in Chapel Hill, but I take the slightly confused Russian girl to the correct bus stop just to make sure she doesn't end up in New York.

Then, things got silly.

You see, the directions I had in my mind weren't the same directions that existed in reality. So I spent two hours wandering around the wrong part of Chapel Hill. Thankfully, my time in the Boy Scouts (okay, six weeks in Cubs, and I didn't get any badges) guided me back to the town centre (read: I doubled back on myself, looking for the tall buildings), and I finally managed to find someone who knew where Raleigh Street was (which took some doing. All I'll say is that if you want to rob the Town Hall, the security guards may have trouble remembering what street your getaway car took), and, two hours later, finally reached my destination. Dripping, no, flooding with sweat. Oh, the hilarity.

currently playing: Nothing, actually. There's some crickets outside, I suppose.

Live From The Atlantic Ocean!

Yes, I'm writing this entry 37,000 feet up in the air. Just to say I can. Of course, I won't be able to post it until I reach the ground, so I could have just lied and said that I was writing it at 37,000 feet. But I couldn't do that to you, dear readers. Besides, I've got two hours left to kill; I can't sleep any longer, I've taught the little girl in front to talk like a pirate, I've finished Slaughterhouse Five, today's Guardian, and as much as the Daily Mail as I can stand without setting it on fire (and I don't think the flight attendants would approve of that, somehow).

Anyway, Gatwick. As depressing as ever. It looks shiny, and you can easily be deceived by the brand new, sparkling duty-free section. As you go out to the gates, however, walls are replaced by temporary wooden panels (which have been there for over a year now) and plastic buckets to catch the water leaking in from the roof. We know how to show people a good time in Britain, naturally.

The security was as laughable as ever; a quick flash of my passport, and a short pat-down after I set off the metal detectors (one day, I shall learn to buy shoes that contain nothing metallic whatsoever). On arrival at RDU, I imagine we will be subject to a search regime that stops just short of the strip-search (hmm. Perhaps I should be less blasé about that. Tempting fate and everything), that'll last for about an hour.

An observation after spending far too long looking at the backs of albums in Virgin while waiting for my flight to be called: all the backs say "this label copy is protected by copyright". Are they seriously trying to say that listing the contents of an album is copyright infringement? If I tell you that the first track on the Dexy's greatest hits album is Geno, will the BPI take me to court? I have similar problems with the FA declaring that it owns football results. Madness!

The plane is strangely empty. Most of the centre seats are empty, so I've taken over an aisle; MP3 player on one side, book and notepad on the other. Is that business class feels like? Is that you John Wayne? Is this me?

Yes, I know that it's become cheap fodder for poor observational comedians, but after travelling to the USA for almost ten years now, the question still remains: has anybody, ever, answered yes to question C. on the I-94W Visa Waiver form? I've half a mind to write to the INS to inquire. "Dear sir, thank you for your email. The INS welcomes the chance to shed light on its internal activities, and we can inform you that 432 people have said that they have committed crimes of genocide and/or were involved in the running of Nazi Germany between 1933 and 1945. We still chuckle a little at their stupidity. Have a nice day."

Hmm. My batter says 83% charged. I don't trust it. Any time now it could —

currently playing: Dexy's Midnight Runners — Plan

Oh, A Warning

Bonnie, if I come back to find that you've shredded my books, your extensive *NSYNC collection goes in the microwave. Deal? 8-)

currently playing: The Clash — White Man In Hammersmith Palais

"I'm a travelling man"

Off to Chapel Hill again. I've no idea how often I'll be updating the blog in the next few weeks, although I suspect that due to the extensive Wi-Fi network on campus, you probably won't notice too much of a difference.

I'll see some of you in a day's time, and others in three weeks. Bye!

currently playing: Björk - Bachelorette

It was summer, now it's autumn

The Observer (the Sunday paper from the Guardian group) today published the first issue of its new monthly music magazine. Being nice people, they've put the whole thing on their website, so go have a look. Highlights include Paul Morley on his nefarious plan to smuggle Cat Power tapes into the Fame Academy, Lauren Laverne indulging in a spot of nepotism, and an excellent article by Miranda Sawyer on the perils and delights of being a pop journalist.

Also, spare a thought for Galileo, which, as I type this, is about to be torn apart by Jupiter's fury, after a faithful service of fourteen years.

currently playing: Bob Dylan — Like A Rolling Stone

Back To Normal

Pirate-free for the next 364 days (okay, they might make a reappearance when Pirates of The Caribbean comes out on DVD)!

Three! More! Days!

currently playing: Aimee Mann — One

Arr! New Music, Me Hearties!

Shiver me timbers! Here be new music, landlubbers!
  • Snow PatrolHow To Be Dead

    The first track from their new album, Final Straw. Imagine, if you will, Sebadoh with Scottish accents. Something that I think we should all embrace. Unless you're Lou Barlow, of course, in which case you might be a bit miffed.

  • Towa Tei ft. Kylie MinogueGerman Bold Italic

    Personally, I blame Paul Morley. He mentioned this track in Words and Music; I thought he was joking, but no, it does exist. Kylie sings about being a font. Yes. Gut ja!

  • Stellastarr*Jenny

    The American rediscovery of New Wave continues apace. And the singer sounds a little like Kevin Rowland, which is again something that should be encouraged in this day and age.

  • and speaking of the Devil...

  • Dexy's Midnight RunnersManhood

    They're back. Reformed, recording, and touring. This is a specially-recorded new track ("cynical addition to force old fans to buy a package of old songs" — Ed.) from their upcoming greatest hits collection. Not the best song that they've ever made, but I like it, and I hope you do too.

Yo-ho-ho! Now that you've seen me booty, me hearties, I be setting sail once more! Us gentlemen of fortune cannot dally for mere trifles! Yarrr! We be travelling over thar! Hoist the jolly roger, you scurvy dogs!

currently playing: The Pretenders - Don't Get Me Wrong

The Little Storm That Could

My favourite part of the Isabel coverage is the newscasters getting indigent about the people remaining behind. "Don't they know it's dangerous? That they're putting the medical and fire agencies at risk by being here?" they say, replete with full camera crews and heavy equipment. It's not as if getting pictures from the centre of a hurricane is particularly newsworthy, although I admit, the images are fairly impressive.

In other news, Priest has returned to the web, after the Summer of Hell™. While I'm naturally disappointed with the cancellation of The Crew (as well as Marvel's handling of the promotion), I'm intrigued as to what Tom Breevort has offered him as a replacement. Considering that Priest was considering quitting the industry before talking to him, it's got to be a high profile title. My current bet? The Avengers. I know that Chuck Austen is about to take over the reins on that, but he's writing half of Marvel's output at the moment (or so it seems), so it wouldn't be inconceivably for Priest to slip after a short Austen-penned arc. However, I've just noticed the title on Priest's weblog entry is "Impossible Man", which points towards Fantastic Four. Either way, it'll be a great, possibly final, test of the Priest Curse: surely even he can't get one of the original 1960s Marvel comics cancelled.

currently playing: Dexy's Midnight Runners - Manhood