A Mystery Solved

I discovered why I've been waking up at 5am the past few days this morning. I forgot to turn the alarm on my watch off. I didn't hear the sound but I must have been reacting subconsciously in my sleep. Hopefully, I'll get another hour in bed tomorrow.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BONNIE! Okay, so it's not actually your birthday yet, but by the time you read this it will be. She now has the ability to vote. Civilisation is DOOMED.

Oooh. I get to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

currently playing: Chemical Brothers - Leave Home

Things and More Things

Bonus points for anybody who knows what pop group recorded the title of today's entry.

A few questions to start things off. Do you live in America? Do you have a Social Security Number? Did you buy a cassette, LP, or CD between 1st January 1995, and 22nd December 2000 in America? Yes? Fancy joining a class-action lawsuit against the RIAA for price-fixing? It's not going to be a huge amount of compensation (the site suggests that it'll be somewhere in the range of $5-$20), but you could use the money to stock up on CD-Rs...

Meanwhile, back in non-Communist Norway, Jon Johansen can legally watch DVDs on Linux, after being acquitted of breaking into his own computer. Expect to see Jack Valenti explaining how this judgement will cause a mass outbreak of DVD piracy in the next few days.

Yes, Safari is fast. But it doesn't render HTML as correctly as Mozilla, and it doesn't have tabs. So I'm sticking with Chimera for the moment.

I wanted to write something about Careless Talk Costs Lives, but I'm fighting against delayed jetlag at the moment, and it deserves better than that.

Ooooh. Shiny.

Um, where was I? Er, yes, going to bed now.

currently playing: Dexy's Midnight Runners - Jackie Wilson Said (I'm In Heaven When You Smile)

Must...Stay...Awake...

That was interesting. I remembered why I don't like window seats; an hour into the flight, I needed to go to the toilet. Not a problem, I hear you say. Ah! But what if the person next to you is sleeping? Do you wake them up? Or do you try and ease past them, and hope that there's enough space between her and the chair in front for you to get through? Most of you know me enough to realise that I would be reluctant to do either, even if I knew the person sitting next to me, rather than the quite attractive girl that it was. She'll wake up in a little while. It'll be a bumpy flight.

Two hours later.

Oh! She's moving! She's awake--no, she's just moved her head. I do hope this won't cause irrevisible liver damage.

After another hour, she finally wakes up, thankfully around the time when passing out is beginning to seem like a good idea. I don't drink anything for the rest of the flight, for fear that she'll go back to sleep...

A warning for anybody attempting to enter the US through Raleigh/Durham airport: add about two hours to your arrival time. This should cover the amount of time you'll spend trying to get out of the airport. The gauntlet is as follows:

  • Firstly, you'll come off the plane, and start queuing to get past the Customs inspectors (who seem quite cheery today).
  • Then, you head to baggage claim. Everything is going okay so far. You get your bags, and queue to hand in your Customs form. Someone will cut in front of you, but you won't mind too much, because you just know he's going to get pulled aside by the officials.
  • Then you get in another queue. This is baggage re-checking. Yes, you put your suitcases onto another conveyor belt, and you're told you'll get them back later.
  • Then you have to pass through a metal detector. Be advised - they've turned the sensitivity up to 11. This means that belts, shoes, safety pins, old KitKat wrappers, just about anything will set off the alarm.
  • Then you suddenly find yourself in the main airport terminal, and you understand why they do all this. Arrivals and departures are not segregated, so 'things' could be planted fairly easily (thinking about it, I wasn't entirely truthful in Gatwick this morning; who knows what Bonnie put in that envelope?). I suppose it's possible that the airport was originally designed for internal flights, and international flights were something of an afterthought.
  • Now you find your way to the other baggage reclaim station, and wait by the Fort Worth carousel (where else would you find the Gatwick luggage?). Eventually, your bags come around, and you can finally leave the airport.

The bus trip home was a little crowded; normally with the TTA buses, three people in a bus at the same time is busy, but tonight every seat was occupied. Plus all the bags. It was quite cosy. Haven't seen much of Chapel Hill yet, as it was dark when I got back.

Anyone want to lay odds as to whether I can make it to the end of The Daily Show? I think I stand a chance...

currently playing: The Free Association - (I Wish I Had A) Wooden Heart

2002 TV

  • Look Around You
    A perfectly observed, lighthearted take on all those schools programmes we watched when we were small, accurate down to the timer that used to preceed each different programme on ITV/C4. Check out the skewed version of the periodic table on the BBC website.

  • 24
    I missed the first season of this, so the placing here is solely on what I have seen of the second series. Guns, explosions, and head-slicing. What more could you possibly need from an action series?

  • Buffy The Vampire Slayer
    The new season has an air of finality; everything seems to be pointing to an ending. And what an ending. So far, the current run is managing to surpass seasons two and three easily. A solid stretch of entertaining single-story episodes, plus the unfolding saga of the now customary season threat, the series is questioning things we've always believed to be true, and showing us glimpses into a larger story which makes us suspect even long-trusted characters. I can't wait until the Angel crossover later on in the season...

  • The West Wing
    It's never going to be as good as the first season, but The West Wing still manages to excite. The first few episodes of the new season were little more than Aaron Sorkin shouting "LOOK! This is how you should have played 2000!" to the Democrat Party, but were very entertaining (Josh and Toby should get stranded more often). After convincingly beating the ersatz George W. Bush, the theme of the series seems to be rather clear: Be Careful What You Wish For. They have everything they ever wanted now. And that's where things start falling apart. Again, the rest of the season should be very interesting.

  • Firefly
    Every now and then, you come across a certain type of person (the Internet in particular seems to be a gigantic strange attractor for them), who knows everything about a TV show. The show ran for about ten episodes on ATV during the summer of 1975, but they can freestyle on any element of its production history, storyline, or backroom politics for the best part of an evening. If you find yourself with one of these people, the correct approach is to nod your head approvingly, whilst at the same time backing away, desperately trying to attract somebody else's attention in order to escape. So just don't ask me about Firefly. Just take it from me that it was the best science-fiction programme on TV in the past decade, accept that the dialogue was unique, and nod approvingly when I curse the executives at Fox. It's for your own safety.

Special Awards: Inspired Presenter Choice Award: Boris Johnson. The Conservative Party should do the decent thing and make him leader; he's hardly likely to perform worse than Iain Duncan Smith, and Prime Minister's Questions would be highly amusing.

currently playing: Saint Etienne - Action

2002 Films

  • Punch-Drunk Love
    An Adam Sandler film is one of my best films of the year? Yes. It's such a wonderful, sweet little film. There's very little more to say about it, except that you should all go and watch it when it comes out in the UK later on in 2003.

  • Minority Report
    While the ending was slightly disappointing, the rest of the film was a barnstorming Spielberg adventure. I'm looking forward to Catch Me If You Can as well...

  • Monsters Inc.
    While Shrek was little more than a slight scaffolding on which to hang various anti-Disney jokes, Pixar showed everybody just how you make a children's film with this funny and affecting tale of the monsters that live in your closet. Technically stunning animation plus sharp and witty writing; they were robbed at the Oscars.

  • Ocean's Eleven
    Like Monster's Inc., this film slips in by virtue of a late UK release date. Effortlessly cool.

  • 24 Hour Party People
    Not exactly the obvious choice for my favourite film of the year, but this amusing, informative, misleading and crazed love-song to Manchester manages to capture the essence of the city by lying to the audience for two hours, all accompanied by the best music Manchester has to offer.

Special Awards: For The Love of God, Give Marky Mark an Original Script Award goes to The Truth About Charlie. Film I Most Wanted To See But Events Conspired Against Me Award; Bowling For Columbine.

currently playing: The Mighty Wah - Don't Lose Your Dreams (Excerpt From A Teenage Opera Pt 154

2002 Albums

  • Idlewild - The Remote Part
    Reminds me of Virginia Woolf. I have no idea why.

  • Sleater-Kinney - One Beat
    An album that wants to remake the world, and has the tunes that makes you want them to suceed. Shake your tail for peace and love.

  • Aimee Mann - Lost In Space
    You want company in misery? This record is for you.

  • Low - Trust
    You will feel teary-eyed when listening to Point of Disgust. Mormon Steel.

  • The Polyphonic Spree - The Beginning Stages Of...
    Distilled sunshine, filtered through the best LSD Texas has to offer. Dirty hippies. But lovely.

Special Awards: Spine-Shivering Line Award: "I believe in Electrelane" from Saint Etienne's Finisterre.
currently playing: Blur - She's So High

2002 Comics

  • Black Panther
    One of the biggest surprises of the year: Black Panther is still being published. After sales dropped below the 20,000 level, few people expected Marvel to keep this title around, no matter how successful it is critically. The attempt to attract new readers with the ambitious, complex five-part Enemy of The State II storyline was rather unsuccessful in raising the sales figures, but once again it showed that Priest is one of the best-kept secrets of the comic world. Intricate plotting, deft characterisation, plus excellent art from the team of Jim Velluto and Bob Almond. As the year closes, the title has changed its direction somewhat, becoming now of a police procedural thriller, and no-one expects it to last the whole of 2003. I certainly hope that it does.

  • New X-Men
    Last year, the X-Men finally stepped out of the Claremont shadow, thanks to Grant Morrison. This year has been somewhat less dramatic but still very interesting. The repair work on Cyclops is staggering; he's now one of the more fascinating characters on the team, rather than being the lifeless leader of the team. There's been amusing revelations about The Beast, intriguing new members like Xorn, and there's the resurfacing of the Phoenix. The book hasn't been as exciting for over a decade. And who knew that Grant loved Storm Shadow so much?

  • Three Days In Europe
    A slight cheat here, as I've only read one issue of this so far. If the rest of the series is up to the same standard, this is going to be a very funny series. It has all the charm and wit of a classic romantic comedy, and I hope that it continues on this high note.

  • Transformers: Target: 2006
    It's not a new comic, but this Titan release is probably the first time that many people will have seen the story, so I feel justified in including it here. I like to think that it's not nostalgia clouding my judgement here; this is a classic children's adventure story, as deserving of praise as any Disney film. As Simon Furman's first epic Transformers story, it has dated somewhat, but it still holds up rather well (it's not as overwritten as most 1980's Marvel comics), and has an enjoyable mix of interesting storytelling devices, twists and revelations, and plenty of robot devestation. All the things a growing boy needs. Plus an ending which can still bring twenty-somethings to their knees...

  • Blue Monday
    The best teen films that John Hughes never made. And Chynna Chugston-Major made me realise there was more to The Beat than 'Mirror In the Bathroom'. You can get hold of the first collection of Blue Monday on Amazon, and I urge you to try it out.

Special Awards: The WHAAAA? Award goes to Andrew Lis for firing Gail Simone from Agent X despite her run being a commercial and critical success. The And? Award goes to Planetary/JLA, which read like a rather dodgy radio edit rather than a complete work.
currently playing: Saint Etienne - B92

2002 DVDs

One thing the last post forgets to mention - there's no ordering in any of these lists. Mainly because I couldn't be bothered, but I think everything I'm going to be listing is rather good, so you should try them all.
  • My So-Called Life
    A confession: I didn't actually watch all of MSCL when it was originally on British television. This was partly a scheduling problem, as Channel 4 decided to show it at an awkward time, but I had a video recorder; I watched the first three episodes. It was just too real for me to deal with at the time. Looking back, I really should have made an effort to watch it. There aren't many series that can have the lead say "I love you so much, it hurts to look at you", and not have the audience burst into laughter. The story of MSCL's long journey to DVD is too long to recant here, so have a look at this link for the details if you're interested. If not, then a brief summary: it took a long time, and it was rather expensive for those of us who ended up funding the project. But I'm glad I finally have a chance to watch this series.

  • Roman Holiday
    The disc is fairly bare (and misses a golden opportunity to include Audrey's famous screen test that landed her the role in the first place), but the newly restored print is so wonderful it has to be included in my favourites of the year.

  • Singin' In The Rain
    A digitally restored print which looks like it was filmed last week; glorious songs; a commentary which has more of the great Stanley Donen, another disc full of documentaries plus an entire deleted muscial number. One of the greatest musicals ever filmed. What's not to love?

  • Back To The Future
    Finally.

  • The Fellowship of The Ring: Extended Edition
    Even if you don't like the film, there's no denying that this is the DVD of the year. An extended version of the film that manages to fill most of the cracks that were apparent in the original theatrical version (including information that's rather important to certain scenes in The Two Towers), spread across two discs with four commentaries featuring just about everybody who had anything to do with the film. On top of that, there's two more discs containing documentaries about almost every aspect of the film's production. New Line even promoted the two different versions of the DVD in a responsible manner, going out of their way to let people know that this version was coming out a few months after the original made an appearance in DVD form. A showcase for what the format can achieve, we can only hope that the trilogy's other two films will get the same treatment.

currently playing: The Auteurs - Brainchild

2002 And All That

I promised a look at some of my favourite films, comics, and other things from 2002, so here they come. I apologise for a lack of explanation for my choices for best album, but I felt that you didn't really want to read 2,000 words on why I love Sleater-Kinney...
currently playing: The Mighty Wah - Getting Out Of It

Cinnamon Stick

I did warn you that updates would be few and far between.

A big thank-you to the person providing the wireless connection; it wasn't something that I was expecting to find in Bicester. I get a very good signal from my bedroom.

I don't know when I'll be writing another entry here, so I'll wish you all a Merry Christmas now. The HMV sale awaits....

currently playing: Confetti: Diet (Remix)