Arrr!

If you've ever wondered what Hunter S. Thompson would have been like if he was English and a pirate, then go see Pirates of The Caribbean. It's probably unlikely that this thought has crossed your mind, but go see it anyway. AVAST!

When I first heard about this film, based on the popular Disney ride, I thought it was going to be another example of the shameless cash-ins that the studio has been producing of late. Oh, how wrong was I. Fun one-liners, excellent sword fights that don't call attention to the CGI (yes, Matrix: Reloaded, I'm looking at you), and Johnny Depp stealing the film with all the ease of a master thief. It manages to be predictable in the best blockbuster fashion, while the script rewards the audience for paying attention, yet throws in lots of twists and turns along the way. It's also quite amusing, dragging in a touch of Monkey Island yet at the same time remaining relatively free of knowing self-referentialism. HERE THERE BE MONSTERS!

Johnny Depp is wonderful. To the point where he alone is worth the £5/$10 ticket price. Go! See! It! WHY IS THE RUM GONE?!

Picking niggles because I can: it's a bit slow at the start (although Depp's entrance is note-perfect, telling you almost everything you need to know about the character even before he's stepped on dry land), Orlando Bloom's character doesn't seem to do much except act as the McGuffin, and the final five minutes are little more than a very quick and unsatisfying way of tying up all the loose ends and still having a happy ending. But you've had so much fun during the last two hours that it seems churlish to criticise too much. Plus, it features the main title theme from The Rock, and you can't ask much more from a film than that, can you? MONKEY!

Altogether: ARRRRRR!

currently playing: James Taylor - Carolina In My Mind

Patch Your Machines!

Killing The RPC-DCOM worm:
  • If you're on a LAN, disconnect the machine from the network before you boot up, to prevent other infected machines from rebooting you again.
  • Right-click on My Computer, select Manage, then under the Services and Applications branch pick Services.
  • Right-click on Remote Procedure Call (RPC) in the list on the right, and select Properties. On the Recovery tab, change the 3 combo boxes from "Restart the computer" to "Take no action". Click OK to close the dialog.
  • You're still vulnerable but your machine won't reboot, giving you time to go online and get the patch. Reconnect your network cable, or establish your normal dial-up connection.
  • Go to http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=823980 to grab the patch for your machine. As soon as you've got it, disconnect your network connection/cable, and run the patch. BUT don't reboot when prompted!
  • Open RegEdit and browse to HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run and delete the "windows auto update" value, which starts the worm when Windows starts. Now restart Windows and you should be free of the worm.
  • To finish the cleaning process, delete C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\MSBLAST.EXE
currently playing: Sleater-Kinney - The Size of Our Love

Coming Soon To An Airline Intercom

"Passengers In Coach Must Remain Naked For The Duration Of The Flight"

Hmm, let me think: a digital camera, MP3 player, and iBook. I think I'm going to be there a while…

(and thanks, AA, for reducing the price of my flight in September by $200. Grrr.)

currently playing: A Silver Mt. Zion - Broken Chords Can Sing A Little

A Few Words About The Weather

But first, some illustrative images:

The temperature finally broke the 37.1˚C barrier earlier today (that's around 100˚F for those of you still working in old money). Given the state of Britain's weather normally, it seems churlish to complain. But this country simply isn't built to handle this sort of temperature. Back in Chapel Hill, it was regularly this hot during the summer months, yet it never seemed this bad; the area's buildings were designed with the extreme temperatures in mind. Here, however, houses are built with an eye for keeping every last degree of heat trapped inside. Bricks, insulation, fairly low ceilings, etc. Great for those winter months, and, to be honest, most of the year. Not so great during once-a-decade heatwave.

Of course, it's not just our homes; the railway network falls apart as soon as the temperature goes past 30˚C (although it also falls apart of its own accord fairly often as well), economists go into a panic; insisting that the good weather is going to cause havoc on the economy (oh no! People won't buy stuff for a day or two!), and lots of people with white skin decide to give themselves fashionable skin cancer. (strangely, we're probably one of the groups that needs sunscreen the most, yet we refuse to wear it).

For the past week, Britain has been quietly going insane. IT'S NOT SUPPOSED TO BE 22˚C AT NIGHT! How can you enjoy a decent cup of tea when it's this hot? IT'S JUST NOT BRITISH!

Ahem. It looks like the thunder and rain period of the heatwave has just begun. I'm going to go and stand in the rain for a little while. Time to cool down!

currently playing: The Flaming Lips - Fight Test

I Do Not Have A Problem

currently playing: Neko Case - Furnace Room Lullaby

A Push And A Pull And This Land Is Ours

California's plan to replace Florida as the butt of all electoral jokes continues apace. The current list of candidates includes a porn star, a porn mogul, small actors, large actors, and a comedian that no-one outside of America knows about. The only two people in California who won't be in the running for Governor, it seems, are Gary Davis (he's not allowed to participate in the recall), and Darrell Issa, the man responsible for turning the state into a laughing stock in the first place. He's dropped out because he knows he'd get destroyed by Schwarzenegger. Hohoho.

The really funny thing is that this could be a never-ending source of amusement. The Democrats have already floated the possibility of recalling the recaller. All you need is 1.3 million signatures. Both sides have enough money to keep going for years, although at a cost to the state of $35m for each election, California may run out of money before too long…

Al Gore gives another of his President-in-Exile speeches. Florida still has a little while to go before it's forgiven, you know…

currently playing: The Magnetic Fields - I'm Sorry I Love You

Today In Britain

Even Domo-kun is taking the day off:

currently playing: The New Pornographers - Mass Romantic

A Public Service Announcement To SCO

BITE MY SHINY METAL ASS.

In response to Red Hat's suit, SCO Group says it can file a motion to dismiss or to file counterclaims against Red Hat. Either way, the company doesn't expect the suit will be settled before the start of its lawsuit against IBM, which is scheduled to begin April 11, 2005.

2005? 2005?! You mean we have to suffer this for at least another year and a half?

currently playing: Paris Angels - Scope

Synchronicities and Manchester

Phil had forgotten the number for railway enquiries, so we had to walk through Piccadilly Gardens to see if the number was in the tram station. We didn't get very far.

"IIIIAAAAAANNNNNNN!!!!"

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Matt, one of my friends from my time at Manchester, and one of the people I didn't expect to see this weekend, considering he works in London:

Strangely, by the time this chance reunion occurred on Saturday afternoon, Phil and I were ready for just about anything. We had seen sheep and a cow in Albert Square, watched a a silver clad man in stilts chase after girls, waved at a gondola containing two men dressed up in 1920s Oxford clothes, watched a street show fronted by Japanese Yakuza pranksters, and puzzled over a man and a woman having a pillow fight in a transparent tent.

It was a weekend of weirdness. For instance, did you know that Selfridges sells chocolate-coated scorpions and ant encased in peppermint? Before you ask, I didn't try them; I know I should be open to new things, but there are limits. Phil also took me to a bunch of shops and cafés that I'd never seen before, but had been around while I was living there, which made me feel pretty dumb. On the other hand, I introduced him to the delights of Vinyl Exchange.

The centre of Manchester has been in constant flux since the IRA bomb in 1996. While I was at university there, the bomb site was cleared, and new buildings began to spring up; now there's a host of shops, seating areas, and a huge IMAX-screen cinema to be found where rubble once stood. Having finished with clearing up the bomb site, the city now seems to be revamping the 1960s-style Arndale Centre and expanding the Northern Quarter (the trendy part of the city). Here's some pictures:

Aside from Matt and Phil, I met up with some other friends as well; we bumped into Will Rizk on our way back from surveying the remains of the Haçienda (okay, there are no remains, so we looked at the new housing development), and we had a nice tea at Will and Rosie's house on Saturday. At this point, I am obliged to give out this public notice: Don't let Phil near your wedding presents. That is all.

I saw three films over the weekend: Buffalo Soldiers, T3, and Legally Blonde 2. The last one was not my idea. Buffalo Soldiers was quite funny, and came complete with GIANT TANK scenes, although quite a few of the scenes suffered from some really bad dubbing (and that the projector was out of focus for the trailers and the first few minutes of the film). But a GIANT TANK more than makes up for that. T3 was better than I thought it was going to be, but I'm still trying to scrub the horror of Legally Blonde 2 out of my mind. Oy.

Interesting Manchester fact I learnt over the days I was there: apparently, there's gunfire in Moss Side every night. But, according to the police, they're really bad shots. So, don't be a random passer-by near Maine Road…

After that boost to the Manchester tourist industry, I think I'll just leave you with a few more pictures; it really is quite a nice place, honest.

currently playing: Camera Obscura - Eighties Fan

"I Don't Believe You"

Back home. More later…

currently playing: Saint Etienne - Action