It's Christmas!

All the malls are covered with Christmas decorations, so it must be true. I'll be breaking out Fairytale of New York shortly. By the time I leave, the floor will understand that it is the greatest Christmas song of all time. Or they have smashed my speakers and taken a high-power electromagnet to my hard drives. I'm willing to undertake this sacrifice to educate America.

I have a great idea for a TV credits sequence. It's the inverse of the current trend of just have a ten/fifteen second stab of music and titles. We play The Who's Won't Get Fooled Again. For all nine minutes. Now, tell me that wouldn't be cool...

My CD-R drive seems to be broken. It was working fine on Sunday, but now refuses to write anything. Obviously, fixing Windows 2000 was just too much for it to handle.

currently playing: Ze Malibu Kids - I Won't Forget You

Back In Britain

Just to show that I'm keeping up with the important events in British life, I've been looking over Radio 2's Top 100 Number 1 singles list from the weekend. If nothing else, it's an excellent way of revealing the average age of the Radio 2 listener (skewing to 35+, judging by the lack of records from 1985 onwards). I can get behind most of the Top Ten, although I will never understand the love of the po-faced, cod-operatic tedium that is Bohemian Rhapsody. I'd rather listen to Abba.

I'd just like to point out I hate Joss Whedon and the entire Mutant Enemy team. HAAAATTTTTE.

Anyway, where was I? Oh. Right. This chart was compiled to celebrate 50 years of the British charts, and they've created a website which has a list of all the top singles from 1952 onwards. The scary thing is that I can remember every Number One from the start of 1987. Whether I saw it on Top of The Pops, got up early to watch the group appear on Going Live/8:15 From Manchester, spent Sunday afternoon hoping that a song I want to tape comes on the chart before my parents come back from the hospital, or something else, there's a memory associated with each song. I am a Child of Pop.

currently playing: The Kinks - Waterloo Sunset

Weapon of Choice

God walks tall and carries an AK-47. Personally, I think that the Allah figure is the best, but you have to respect any toy line that packages Pope John Paul II with a Walther PPK.

Back to comics: the Diamond shipping list for this week indicates that after two years of waiting, The Invisible Kingdom is finally shipping this week, meaning that all of The Invisibles is now back in print. Hopefully, the rumours that this new collection corrects script and art errors in the original run are true. Now, if DC would just get around to reprinting Kill Your Boyfriend...

The new Sigur Ros album is quite a disappointment. It's not bad, it's not good. It just lingers anonymously in the background. After half-an-hour, I had to check that Rhythmbox had actually moved to another track (all the songs are untitled). Not a good sign.

Dancing Into The Supercontext

Thankfully, the hall wasn't destroyed by a rogue helicopter gunship yesterday; it was just a pre-game show.

I can't help feeling that I've somewhat wasted this weekend I've done several little jobs that needed to be seen to (the new power supply is installed, I've got Windows 2000 working again, and I've encoded the Firefly premiere for Bonnie), but I don't seem to have spent much time on my work. However, I've finished the marking for the latest assignment, so I can rest easy for about a week or so on that front.

Some comic news that might interest a few of you: there's going to be a new Authority on-going series starting up next year, so you'll be able to get your fix of the old ultra-violence after you've finished reading the trade paperbacks. I'm more interested in the return of Transformers: UK myself, but then I'm slightly strange.

You would think that having not written anything since Wednesday, I'd have something to write about today, wouldn't you? I hope nobody is expecting me to have lots of interesting anecdotes to tell when I get back for Christmas, as you'll be extremely disappointed. Unless, of course, you somehow find a discussion of Chapel Hill's public transport system inherently fascinating. I thought not. As a last resort, I can freestyle on Disney's current obsession with making inferior sequels to classic animated films (does the world need The Jungle Book II? or The Little Mermaid III: This Time Sebastian Gets His?), but that normally ends with me in a rage over their pillaging of the public domain and a scathing attack on current copyright laws. You'd best hope that I get out sometime between now and December, to be honest....

currently playing: Mika Bomb - Love Factor Five

Black Science

An Apache helicopter has just flown past my room. Should I be scared?

One day, Ian went to the airport...

It was going so well. I had managed to get to the airport, get my tickets changed, and was about to head back to Chapel Hill.

I'm sorry, we don't do transfers anymore

According to the website, you were able to get on at the airport, pay there, and not have to pay when you got on the bus to Chapel Hill. Now this wouldn't normally be a problem; I carry enough money to pay for a bus fare. Except that for some reason, all the buses only take exact change and I only had a $20 note.

Which left me stranded in the middle of the Research Triangle Park. I set off to find somewhere to get some change. It turns out that the Park is a really bad place to attempt this. Nothing. No, wait, there was an abandoned cafe, which looked as if it had been vacant for at least six months. I did think about locating the RedHat building and throwing myself at their mercy, but thought it probably wasn't the best of ideas. Which left me with one option: walk to Durham.

Americans do not believe in paving either side of a major road. I was unfortunately on the wrong side of the road, and the prospect of crossing a busy four-lane highway didn't really appeal to me that much. Mind you, going across the Interstate bridge by walking on the road part didn't either, but I had no choice in that. And then, just for giggles, it started to rain.

An hour later, I made it to the Durham city limits (incidentally, I passed the hotel that we stayed in back in August), and dove into the first fast-food outlet that presented itself. Then all I had to do was buy enough food to get me single dollar bills. This sounds easy, but sales tax meant I had to visit the counter twice before I had what I needed. Then all I had to do was find a bus stop, wait twenty minutes for a bus to sharply brake in front of me, and I was on the way back to Chapel Hill.

Today's lessons: always carry plenty of change. And never trust the Internet...

Unite or Die!

I'm guessing that most people will be going for the latter. The stupid thing is that they could have avoided all this if they had made it a free vote, rather than sending out the three-line whip. Given that there was no way of overcoming the Labour majority, what was the point of making such a fuss? Bring on the Liberal Democrats.

I'm in a political mood today, due to the mid-term elections, and that it's likely that I'm going to wake up tomorrow with Elizabeth Dole as a Senator. Florida still has the discredited list of 91,000 people ineligible to vote in effect, so it'll be interesting to see how close the Governor race is after the count. Oh God. She's won already.

Well, I'm depressed now. If I wake up to find that Bush controls the Senate, I will be inconsolable. As will the rest of the free world, I suppose.

Tomorrow is Adventure Day! I will be heading off to Raleigh/Durham airport to try and sort out my ticket for the flight home at Christmas. In theory, it should be a straightforward trip. Which means it'll probably take me most of the day, if I'm lucky. I'll try and remember to take my camera so you can track me getting increasingly lost throughout the day.

I will not stay up and watch the election returns. I will not stay up and watch the election returns. I will not stay up and watch the election returns...

"I need a hacksaw."

You know, I might just have to seek out the first season of 24, if it's as good as the second season opener. Senseless violence ahoy!

Well, everybody got their mid-terms back, and I wasn't mobbed. That's probably because they did better on this test than they did in the class test (well, either they got better, or I'm a more lenient marker than the Professor). Of course, there's still tomorrow's office hours to get through.

I made a few changes to the website over the weekend. As I finished The Power Broker over three weeks ago, I thought it was about time to change the "currently reading" section (although I finished High Society this afternoon, so I'll have to update it again shortly). I've also added some permanent links on the right-hand side to blog entries that I like. I might get around to upgrading to the new version of MovableType sometime, but I know it'll break about six different things, so I'll leave that to a time when I'm not quite so busy (currently looking at a 2004 date).

Someone just knocked on my door wanting to make sure that I voted tomorrow. Well, they said that the Democrats would be trying hard to get people out to the voting stations. 47-40 Dole at the moment, but that poll has a 5% margin of error...

The Mormons want to send me a video called 'Together Forever'. They scare me.

Music Mining

I know it wasn't very fashionable to like them even during the height of Britpop, but Sleeper's 'Stop Your Crying' is quite enjoyable. It's being played through Rhythmbox, a new music jukebox application for GNOME. To say that it borrows from iTunes is an understatement - it's more like a daylight heist. A lot of things aren't working properly yet (while you can rate songs, you can't do the sort of tricks with them that iTunes allows), but it's coming along fast. Having access to all 3,500-plus songs without having to spend ages manually building a playlist changes the way you listen to your music collection somewhat. You discover forgotten gems, as well as some songs that deserve to remain hidden (did I really buy a Candyskins single?). Much better than having to switch between the limited number of CDs that you can fit inside a multi-disk player. Obviously, this behaviour is un-American, and must be outlawed.

Finally finished marking the midterms, so I can hand them back tomorrow. At which point I'll probably be mobbed by students wanting to challenge their grades. Remember the start of Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade? I expect that on Tuesday morning...

One month and fourteen days until I come home. I suppose I'll have to start thinking about Christmas presents. Anybody have any specific requests?

currently playing: Billy Bragg - A New England

Hallowe'en in Chapel Hill

They weren't kidding when they said it was big. This won't mean anything to many of you, but they closed off Franklin Street from the Planetarium, to about two-thirds of the way to Carrboro. Probably about a mile long for those of you not familiar with the area. Packed full of people. Most of whom were wearing costumes, but there were enough normally-dressed types around to stop me from looking like the only person who hadn't made an effort.

I went with the rest of my floor, but as soon as we entered the sea of people, the twenty-strong group dwindled to about four. Strangely, despite the huge amount of people and the hype that preceded the night in the local media, there was no commercialisation of the event at all; just a huge amount of people trying to get hypothermia (It was below zero; I was cold, and I had a jacket on; I have no idea how half the s present last night didn't freeze to death).

Fun events included: watching a drunk person dressed up as a policeman mocking the security presence; returning to the same point five minutes later to find the same man being forcibly restrained by the aforementioned presence; walking 5-abreast, arms linked, following The Cat In The Hat (about as good an idea as it sounds), and the classic finale of the evening: we bumped into some of the floor who we had misplaced, to find that they'd spent most of the evening at one of the emergency centres, as somebody had had rather too much to drink. They were looking for people to help take him home, so we went along to provide support, only to discover that they'd taken him to hospital in the meantime. An expensive way to end an evening, for him anyway.

We eventually made it back to the hall at about 1:30am, after a few discussions about Penguin biscuits, family feuds, a high-speed talk about the origins of Hallowe'en, and the rivalry between Duke University and UNC. Getting to sleep wasn't much of an option however, as people were coming back in dribbles until about 3am, and were still under the impression that screaming and shouting was necessary to attract the person next to them. And Rishi wasn't too pleased either, judging by the stern notice on the messageboard this morning...

currently playing: Unhappy Birthday - The Smiths