Revolutionary Optimism

Can’t seem to shake this sore throat. America doesn’t offer an equivalent to the mighty Strepsil. They have things that look like them, but you might as well be sucking a mint for all the good they do.

Playing around with Illustrator:

PBS on Saturday night seems to a British love-in. It's a little shocking to see Fresh Fields and Are You Being Served in a prime-time slot. Obviously, they couldn't afford the good British comedies. I suppose. Oooh. Waiting For God. Looks like a fourth-generation VHS copy. I don't remember it being quite so bleak and depressing...

Yes, it's Saturday night, and I'm watching PBS.

I Love The 80s! US Version! ALF! Teddy Ruxpin! Save Ferris! But no Stuart Maconie, Mark Radcliffe or Manchester linking scenes. I'm not expecting Pete Waterman to make such a big appearance either. I think I'll watch, just to see if our nostalgia towers over their nostalgia.

First thought - they don't have interviews with the people involved with the events they're discussing - just fast-cutting interviews with celebrities. Which seems to miss the point by a mile.

They're dissing John Hughes films. DEATH. And they don't seem to realise that Ducky was a New Romantic. Maybe the term didn't make it to America.

Change subject every two minutes!

Was American music really this bad in the 80s? TOP GUN! "You can ride my tail anytime!" God Bless Jerry Bruckheimer.


Tiffany! Bah, it's a bait-and-switch. "Nobody puts Baby in a corner" — Bonnie, I'd just like to point out that it's not going to happen. NEVER. EVER.


Okay, I can't take any more of this. Britain wins!

currently playing: Taja Seville - Love Is Contagious

The Sane Response

So my friend, if you want to start using American military strength as The Arm Of The Lord, you can do that, we’re the only superpower left. You can conquer the world, like Charlemagne, but you better be prepared to kill everyone, and you better start with me ‘cause I will raise up an army against you and I will beat you.

Condition Orange!

Be afraid. Exercise caution, and review your disaster plan. Report suspicious behaviour to the authorities. Develop alternate routes to and from work or school and practice them.

North Korea is not a threat.

We have always been at war with Iraq.

Internment Camps are justified. For their own protection.

The Attorney General is right in dismissing plea bargains. We cannot negotiate with the Enemy.

Work smarter with PowerPoint version 2002, the Office XP presentation graphics program. Create attention-grabbing slides quickly, collaborate with team members on your presentations, and share them live or online.

Can you trust your neighbours? Are they true Americans? Do they believe in One Nation, Under God?

We are at Condition Orange. You may continue to work, but be vigilant! The Enemy is everywhere. Report UnAmerican Activities to the Department of Homeland Security immediately.

Your representatives in the Ministry of Justice are drafting new legislation to protect you from the ever-increasing threat. We will keep you safe.

This is a Condition Orange Alert. Be safe. Be watchful.

currently playing: Godspeed You Black Emperor! - Moya

This is a Rescue Mission

Unlike most people, I have something of a soft spot for Courtney Love, to the almost heretical point where I prefer Hole to Nirvana. So I speak from a position of concern: has she gone crazy? Getting arrested on a Virgin Atlantic flight, dressing up as Donald Duck, and of course the recent Q interview (I have links to scans of that, so consider yourself grateful that I spared you the trauma. It must have been an interesting art meeting — “Do you think we can get away with an 11pt Q there?” “Actually, I think you could get down to 10pt before all the copies are impounded under the Obscene Publications Act.”). Or is she just fishing for interest in her new album?

From the what-might-have-been department: character designs for Buffy: The Animated Series.

Couldn't face doing the marking tonight. It shouldn't be too bad though, as they only had four short questions to answer. Oh, and we had more snow this afternoon. I'd like the weather to decide on what season it is, and stick to it, thank you.

No decent films to watch this week. Or the week after, for that matter, but the University is showing a double-bill of Punch-Drunk Love and Breakfast At Tiffany's next Friday, so I'll probably be going along to that. I still have a lot of unwatched DVDs to get through, so I'll be doing that this weekend.

Oh, almost forgot. You need to see this: The Second Renaissance. It's about five minutes long, and at the end you'll be hoping that the robots kick Keanu into submission in this year's sequel...

currently playing: Slumber-Party - Fantasy

Your Inner Child Wants This

I just have to find a way to get it back to the UK. The planet mode is a little squarish, and it's only 13" tall. But! it's! Unicron!

currently playing: Beth Orton - I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine

God's Cookies

Worship them from afar.

You know, I don't think that this is going to turn the French around, somehow.

Iraq is going to be liberated, by the United States and whoever wants to join us, whether we get the approbation of the U.N. or any other institution.
Of course, Perle isn't a member of the Bush Administration. He's just one of their top advisors. I hope that the press hound Ari Fleischer with this for the next few days. It's always entertaining to read his fumbled attempts to change the subject.

And before Co-lin Co-lin Co-lin Powell! delivers the evidence to the UN tomorrow, here's Chris Morris's take on the State of The Union.

currently playing: The Beat - Rankin’ Full Stop

Strapping C-4 To My Bridges

Silly temperatures again. 20˚C in February is not right. But it did bring back a ritual that I forgot to talk about last summer, so it’s not all bad.

The center of the UNC campus is affectionately known as the Pit; a lowered area that serves as both a meeting place and where the various societies pitch their recruiting tables. During the summer (and today, hence the point of this rambling), at around lunchtime, somebody would walk into the Pit and start shouting at the students. For extra bonus points, they'd be wearing an old-style sandwich advertising board with a Bible quote blazoned on both sides.

It's fairly typical stuff: "Welcome Jesus, or BURN in the Eternal Fires of HELL!" The students alternate between laughing at him (it's always a him) and picking his arguments to pieces. This once led to a fun discussion between one of the speakers and a about the impending war in Iraq; she was disputing his evidence, and he tried to dismiss her as one of those "fluffy do-nothing liberals". She pointed out that she was in the ROTC. He was a lot quieter after that exchange.

Welcome to Chapel Hill. Lone liberal town in North Carolina. All the stop signs around the campus have "BUSH" spray-painted beneath them; anti-war posters are everywhere. We're going to be first against the wall when The Department of Homeland Security calls people to account.

I really can't believe I forgot to press the lift button.

currently playing: Sleater-Kinney - You’re No Rock’n’Roll Fun

Calling Manchester

Anybody want to go to the Vinyl Exchange and get me this? I’ll give you a shiny gold star if you do.

currently playing: Mint Royale - From Rusholme With Love

Confessions of a Failed Shopper

I am hopeless when it comes to clothes shopping. There are many reasons for this, including a hesitation to spend what seems like an extortionate amount of money for a piece of fabric, a general lack of dress sense, and logos.

I justify the logo problem by pointing out that I've already given the money for the item; I'm not required to become a walking advertising hoarding for them. Truthfully though, it's more of a desire to prevent everyone from calling me a hypocrite. I've read No Logo, abhor the trading practices that go on in the Free Trade Areas and so on, but I still buy my clothes from the evil multinational corporations. Not until they're on sale, but that doesn't make me feel any less guilty. As you can see, I can manage to make something as simple as buying a new pair of trousers a stressful experience.

Anyway, today (after spending some time in Durham) I decided that I probably needed a pair of trousers that weren't jeans, so I trundled around the clothes shops, looking for something reasonable. Things that struck me on this journey:

  • Being able to identify Sixpence None The Richer's "Kiss Me" from three notes being played on pan pipes is incredibly sad.
  • It's a good thing Dad stopped fixing TVs. I don't know how he'd react to a combination TV/VCR/DVD.
  • Are you sure that Vintage Wash isn't just a euphemism for "The Chinese workers wanted an extra 2c/hour to iron these"?
  • The mall seems to play nothing but an 80s compilation on a loop. It's an interesting way of highlighting how the UK and US treat music differently; you'd be hard pressed to find a UK compilation that plays The Clash's "Train In Vain" and follows it with Swing Out Sister's "Breakout". I'm not complaining — I just found it a little odd.
Eventually, JC Penney comes to my rescue, and I find a pair of trousers. I then spend five or so minutes hunting through them to get something that'll actually fit me. I can't see myself growing into a 52in waist, for example. Yet. Success! And no logo to speak of, so I can hide in public.

The current poster for Finding Nemo is fantastic. There isn't enough footnote-related comedy in the movie poster industry, in my opinion*.

*Footnotes are great**

**Especially nested ones***

***Yes, I read YS when I was little. Why do you ask?

currently playing: Madonna - Borderline

This City For Rent

If you’ve ever wondered what a city would look like ten years after a neutron bomb detonation, then I highly recommend downtown Durham. There’s nothing there except for a huge cigarette factory and blocks upon blocks of empty shops; boarded up with “This Space For Rent” signs. A faded hoarding with “F. W. Woolworth” burnt into the wood betrays just how long the centre has been in this situation. The DATA bus shelter is filled with dusty, dirty, and rusty buses; fatigued metal screams in pain as they pull away from the station.

After an hour of wandering, I stumble across Brightleaf Square, seemingly the only remaining retail operation left in the downtown area. It appears to be modelled on Boston's Quincy Market, but is less than a tenth of the size. A few restaurants, a small music shop, and many boarded-up failures.

I leave completely disspirited; I've never seen a city in such a state like this before. I wasn't expecting New York, San Francisco, or even Oxford, but I thought there would be something, if only a shop or two.

Travelling back, I decide to go the Southpoint Mall again. On the way, the bus passes the South Square Mall. When I arrived in August, it was having trouble competing with the two new shopping centres that had opened; now it's completely closed, and a wrecking crew is turning it into scrap. The inside of the mall is completely exposed; a pile of metal girders is growing next to the abandoned car park.

I hope Raleigh is slightly healthier.

currently playing: Saint Etienne - Finisterre