Bowling For Columbine

If this doesn’t win an Oscar in March, I’ll be very surprised. Yes, it has flaws (but not as bad you might imagine - Moore goes to great length to avoid the usual “ban all guns!” rhetoric that this type of documentary can easily slip into), but it’s a stunning look into the psyche of the United States.

A particular highlight is the Matt Stone/Trey Parker history of America animated short halfway through the film, while the “What A Wonderful World” musical interlude presents a damning (although admittedly one-sided) view on American foreign policy through the past fifty years. There’s been some condemnation about the interview with Charlton Heston, but that took place a long time before Heston revealed that he may eventually have Alzheimer’s, plus he had ample time to prepare for the meeting, so he should have been ready for Moore’s questions.

What I like most about the film is that Moore doesn’t present us with a simple solution to the problem, or even why it exists in the first place; what makes Windsor (in Canada)a place where people feel comfortable leaving their house unlocked, while a few miles away in Detroit, fear rules the city?

currently playing: Sleater-Kinney - Combat Rock

Drawing a blank

When I went out this afternoon, I had about five different ideas about what I was going to write here tonight. I can’t remember any of them. Ho hum.

While I’m here, can somebody answer a question for me? While I believe Pete Townshend, it has raised a point that I’ve never understood: who on Earth uses easily traceable credit card details to gain access to child pornography? Surely the idea is to remain secret? Let’s hope they never get clever…

I could have saved the team of L&O: SVU a lot of trouble: IT’S JOHN RITTER! OF COURSE HE DID IT!!!

Still can’t remember what I wanted to talk about. Oh, I’m going to Myrtle Beach next weekend. In January. Brrr.

currently playing: Erase Errata - High Society

Make a STAND

The Government thinks that the Entitlement Card is a really good idea. If you think otherwise (e.g. it will cost at least £1.5bn over three years which could be spent on education, enforcement, or health; it will not eliminate fraud as the cards will still be able to be forged, with the added bonus that forgers will be able to access higher class of credentials than they currently have; it relies on biometric schemes which are still in their infance and open to abuse, and so on), the Goverment would like to hear from you.

So far, they insist that correspondence has been overwhelmingly positive. We’d like to address that. If you think that the Entitlement Card isn’t needed, head on over to STAND, where you can fill out an e-mail to the Home Office and let them know your opposition to the proposal.

By the way, if you live in the Oxfordshire area, you might need to know your old postcode if you wish to fax your MP a copy of the email.

currently playing: The Clash - Know Your Rights


There’s something deliciously strange about a mall which cheerfully pipes The Smiths through the overhead speakers.

Go and see Gangs of New York. It’s not long enough, but it’s filled with mayhem and violence. In. Top. Hats. There’s nothing more that you can ask for, really.

Adaptation was like looking into a mirror for two hours, which was fairly unsettling. I did like the digs at Robert McKee (I’m still not sure why Hollywood is so in thrall to a man whose credits only seem to contain Mrs. Columbo and a Bible film) , and Donald’s ever-increasingly insane screenplay was hilarious. I’m not sure when it’s coming out in the UK, but you should try and see it when it does. Just ignore the last twenty minutes, and you should be fine.

Catch Me If You Can was rather different from what the trailer suggested - it’s much slower than you’d think, but again I recommend that you give it a try (especially if you like fancy title scenes); Martin Sheen sings! Tom Hanks also tells the world’s greatest Knock-Knock joke.

Kill Bill looks interesting, although the trailer gives little away other than UMA THURMAN TAKING NAMES WITH A SWORD. What more could you possibly want?

currently playing: Aimee Mann - High On Sunday 51

Tight Diamond Shoes

I’m not expecting much sympathy from everybody back home, but it’s not supposed to be 20˚C in January! People started the day in their normal thick coats, and ended up in summer clothes by mid-afternoon. I expect a hailstorm of frogs tomorrow.

This semester’s TA job is going to be a little bit different from the last one; I have to construct the homeworks this time (although I don’t have have to mark the mid-terms or the final). Thankfully, the professor doesn’t want lots of hard questions, so I won’t have the guilt of giving the students evil assignments.

Three films tomorrow: Catch Me If You Can, Adaptation, and Gangs of New York.

But isn’t the entire point of the Brit Awards that everybody gets increasingly drunk throughout the evening? I’m also not entirely sure what “as live” means - if So Solid Crew dedicate an award to Kim Howells with a nice sprinkling of swearing, does that mean that ITV will show it? I can’t imagine so. Oh look, they’re giving Tom Jones a lifetime award. I assume no-one else available that night.

currently playing: Lush - Ciao!

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)


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