Spirit of The Staircase

After this morning’s latest installment of “Ian should really think about things before he opens his mouth, so as to avoid potentially embarrassing situations which he could have easily averted if he had engaged his brain”, I went to the Carrboro Music Festival, with it being the right day for it and everything.

I love this place. They close down the main street of Carrboro, set up open-air concerts, open all the music venues, plus they have a big blue train. Do not underestimate the appeal of a big blue train, especially one driven by a crazy madman who likes driving in circles and chasing people down the street.

The music itself was wide and eclectic, varying from bluegrass to avant-garde jazz, African storytellers to Russian folk, white noise to melodic pop. And the whitest band ever performing Sly and The Family Stone's "Thank You (For Letting Me Be Myself)", which was much better than you would have expected. I finally discovered where the Go! concert venue was (funnily enough, there's a big sign on the front that says GO, but I must have missed that when walking past it for an entire year); it was a lot smaller than I expected, but it gets by due to the nice floppy sofas it has in the raised section, and for placing the toilets on either side of the stage, rather than, say, at the back.

Yesterday, random people were shouting my name and waving hello from a car. Today, I bumped into Ryan from the new UNITAS floor (I met him on Friday night during a very drunken game of electric taboo), and we wandered around the festival together for a little while. He pointed out a stall where a man was making stunning drawings by just using spraypaint, and only taking about ten-fifteen minutes to boot. It was pretty amazing.

I decided to leave after they reopened the road at six. The big blue train could no longer run free along the road, and it felt as if the heart of the festival had gone (I really liked the train, ok?). Plus, I wanted to get back before it got dark. Hey ho.

Oh, and from last night: we got bhangra mix CDs to take home. The quick KLF masterclass if you want to repeat the success of Mundian To Bach Ke: 1. find a nice, uptempo bhangra beat. Preferably with vocals. 2. Locate an a cappella section in a fairly popular Western song, e.g. parts of SNAP’s “You Got The Power”. 3. Apply ProTools. Hurrah! International fame is now within your grasp (offer void where applicable).

currently playing: Life Without Buildings — PS Exclusive

To Lose Beauty In Terror

Okay, could someone explain why when I get really drunk, I decide that the best thing to do in the circumstance is to start reciting T.S. Eliot poems? It’s rather strange…

Yesterday, I decided I'd go and check out the Carrboro Music Festival, a big event with over 200 bands. I walked in to town, all the way to Carrboro, to discover that I had got the date wrong - it's actually today. Felt rather dumb. But! I shall be going along today.

I suppose the big event last night was the bhangra party at some random person's house. Sadly, the police got called fairly early on for noise control, so it was a little subdued, but fun nonetheless. I even bumped into a girl from London (and Laura was convinced that a guy from South Carolina was also English, but she was, how shall we say, a little tipsy at this point). Once again, there was a lot of drink involved. Still hangover-free though.

Today is a new day…let's make it precious.

currently playing: Saint Etienne — Nothing Can Stop Us

Wheel No. 3

Okay. There was vodka. Ever-so-slightly stronger than Sona and I imagined. Of course, by the time we discovered this, it was already too late. There then followed a period of dancing. Be grateful that you didn’t see the sight of a white boy attempting to dance to bhangra music (not that I did any better with the more traditional songs, either, but anyway)…

currently playing: Dexy’s Midnight Runners — Manhood

A Frantic Marble Munching Game That Kids Love

It turns out that Hungry Hungry Hippos is an excellent activity to while away the evening. The strategy! the tension! The furious pounding, resulting in the death of a poor hippo’s jaw! It is the game of kings. Or is it horse-racing? I can never remember. I think HHH would be a better game for world leaders though. Get Bush, Blair, Schroeder and Chirac around for a few games, I’m sure the world’s troubles would be ironed out (although I’ll guess that Mr. Bush would object to being the pink one).

Yesterday nicely divided into two halves; the sucky early/day part where my blisters and shoulders finally cried enough, and I had to spend most of the afternoon inside as I simply couldn't walk any further, and a most enjoyable evening involving watching the Friends premiere at a friend of Laura's, followed by the aforementioned Hungry Hippos tournament (I still suck, by the way), and then I went out with Sona, Kavi, and Parthe. A good time was had by all. Even if everybody took it in turns to mock my speech patterns. I can't help talking like a stuffy English person! Sadly, it's what I am 8-). (I protest a little too much here. It's fun to be the "mad foreigner" again)

currently playing: New Order — Temptation

Blister In The Sun

A question: when you have blisters on your little toes that are almost as big as the toes themselves, is it a bad thing?

currently playing: Kenickie - I Would Fix You


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