Schools are closed, Charlie Brown

Julia wasn’t kidding when she said that the county goes a bit crazy when they see a snowflake; admittedly it’s a good few inches, but I doubt whether they would have closed the schools back home (and we used to have to walk twenty miles with a sack of coal on our backs just to get there).

3,000 people have lost power. But they can’t watch the TV report, so if you would please return to Law & Order, I’d be most grateful. Thanks.

Almost time to go home. So, anything I should know before I come back?

currently playing: Audrey Hepburn - Moon River

Not wishing to widen the cultural gap...

…but a five minute report on that fact it might snow tomorrow? The astounding revelation that -1C is quite cold? I really hope it’s just a slow news day.

This just in - US Postal Service to buy millions of potassium iodine tablets to protect postal workers against thyroid cancer in the event of a nuclear attack. I’m sure that’ll help.

Okay, I accept that -8 might be a bit colder, but people making runs on supermarkets? It seems a bit of an overreaction.

10% off gun safes, according to Perry’s Gun Shop. Extra discount for buying in bulk, apparently. The cute child in military fatigues adds a touch of class to the proceedings, I feel.

The roads might be a bit icy.

One for Dad - safety advice for Christmas. Make sure breakable decorations stay away from children. Excellent.

Look, the roads are going to be SLIPPY.

I understand the individual words the sport newscaster is saying, but they don’t seem to be forming coherent sentences.


There has been a foreign news report, just in case you were wondering. Granted, it was about UN weapon inspections, but it’s better than nothing.

Remember. The bridge ices before the road.

Shock! Cannabis isn’t a gateway drug? But teens with tattoos should be considered at risk. There has to be something, I suppose.

BEST NEWS TRAILER EVER: 10:42 - Car in River.

Whitney Houston is going to tell us about her personal daemons. I’m going to rise above that straight line. Honest.

The horrors of Pet Separation Anxiety. And in other news, Mariah Carey has a new record out.

What’s this? An editorial? Accusing the New Jersey Poet Laureate of being a racist? Well, if you must…

Off-topic aside: Where’s Fairytale of New York, eh? Nice to see that the Popstars bands will be breaking new ground with their Christmas releases.

And the final thought? Drive carefully. It’s going to be cold.

Not wishing to be overly critical, but I do miss the BBC…

currently playing: Cat Power - Names

4:35 In the Morning

Okay. This time, without the air of panic…

After I wrote yesterday’s little cry for help, I had a talk with one of my professors. He suggested that I take an ‘incomplete’ grade in one of the courses, which will give me a year to complete the work I’ve done so far. I’ll do the exams in the other courses, and return in January to start the Spring semester.

If you spoke to me yesterday, I would have told you that I was already clearing out my room in preparation for returning home. What changed? I’m entirely sure; I suppose that I really want to be sure whether this is really what I want do, and I need to give it a bit more time before I give it up. That, and I would really like to see out a year in this country, at the very least. So, panic (mostly) over. Mostly.

My computer decided that it wasn’t happy about the prospect of travelling back across the Atlantic, and promptly fried the second hard drive. Which just happens to contain all my Linux programs. Nice. Thankfully, all my data is on the other hard drive…

currently playing: The Clash - Complete Control

The Sound of Breaking Dreams

This is hard to write. But it has to be said eventually.

I’m giving up.

I’ve spoken with Janet Jones; I will be failing all three of my courses this semester, and not enrolling for Spring 2003. My American adventure will be coming to an abrupt end on December 17th.

I haven’t made this decision lightly. I could probably scrape through this semester, and come back for Spring, but I know that I’ll just have the same problems as before. The only reason to stay is Pride. I don’t want to be seen as a failure. That’s not a good enough reason.

The truth is that I don’t want to have more panic attacks that leave me almost paralysed for five minutes; I don’t want to lie awake at night worrying how I’m going to do all the things I need to get done.

Aw. What a sad thing to happen to the spoilt white kid. He got everything he wanted, including an almost all-expenses paid stay in America, and he’s got the nerve to whine because he has to do some work?

I’m sorry. I can’t carry on. Everytime I press a key, I start to cry. I know I’ve failed. I know that I don’t deserve to be here. I want to be strong and carry on, but it’s too much, and it’s not going to get better. Surely it’s better to admit that I made a mistake and come home rather than try and tough it out, isn’t it?

I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’ve spent so many years on computers. But I don’t like them. I have no intuition for them. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life working with them. But what else can I do? I came here because I thought that I could get interested again. That things would work out. But they haven’t. I don’t know what I want to do. But I can’t stay here.

currently playing: Aimee Mann - Wise Up

The INS and Me

I was fully prepared to be greeted by armed INS agents when I got back to the hall tonight; apparently they didn’t believe that I was living in an undergraduate hall. A hasty email seems to have got them off my back.

Another reason that suggests I’m a freak, in case you needed one: I discovered last night I can recite 90% of The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. From memory. Fear me.

As has become customary on Tuesday nights; I really hate the Mutant Enemy team. HATE.

I’m packed and ready to go. Hopefully I’ll be able to get some work done. See you on Sunday…

currently playing: New Order - Temptation (12” mix)

Upcoming hiatus

Just so you don’t worry that I’ve gone AWOL - my posts this week will probably be fairly minimal. I’m going to be thrown out of my room on Wednesday, and the temporary housing doesn’t have an Internet connection. Without paying money to Time-Warner, anyway. I should be back online Sunday morning.

Your order has shipped (#103-3139466-0379056)

The following items were included in this shipment:

  • Roman Holiday DVD
  • Sunset Boulevard DVD

The Rules

One of the most important things to remember about eating in America - no matter how strange it seems, always go for the small option. I’m currently staring at a medium Diet Coke. Which is almost the size of my head. I’m guessing that they just shove a pressure hose down your throat if you ask for large.

Confirmation has come through about next week, so I’m not going to be sleeping rough in the computer building through Thanksgiving. Always a plus.

When I was little, I loved James Bond films. Every Bank Holiday, I’d happily sit down and watch Sean Connery or Roger Moore save the world. As I grew up, the appeal waned, partly because I’d seen them all about ten times before, and partly because I felt that they weren’t really all that good. My university friends dragged me to The World Is Not Enough (thus giving the distinction of being the first Bond film that I saw in a cinema), and I was not impressed. At all. Bad effects, a faintly ridiculous plot, the waste of Robert Carlyle, and it seriously attempted to pass Denise Richards off as a nuclear physicist. However, I’m all about the second chances; so instead of doing important work today I went to the mall and made a stop at the cinema for Die Another Day.

Now this is a Bond film. An over-the-top car chase that seems to last for ten minutes? Check. America/British friction? Check. Silly gadgets? Check. A swordfight? You bet. Look, it even manages to make good use of Madonna in an acting role. Yes, it’s that good.

Although it stays true to the well-worn formula, there are a few surprises, especially in the opening segment, which ends in a rather different way to all the other films. John Cleese’s Q scene is great, with a brief glimpse at gadgets from past films, and a priceless moment when Q shows Bond his new Aston Martin. There are a few niggles; one plot point was so obvious that I’m surprised that it wasn’t highlighted with the aid of large neon tubes, and some of the CGI effects are really bad (this is not just my anti-CGI bias; there’s one scene which looks worse than some of the composite effects that films were using in the 1960s) . And there’s Halle Berry. Okay, she’s better than she was in X-Men, but she’s nothing special here, and I can’t really see why they want to spin off this character into a new franchise (oh, while I’m here. Halle? Your character is almost exactly the same as every other Bond in the series, so please, stop with ‘She’s the equal of Bond’ line. Otherwise we’ll bring up Michelle Yeoh).

Despite that, I really enjoyed the film (it has Michael Madsen as the head of the NSA. What’s not to love?). Which is just as well, as the trailers beforehand made me want to descend on Hollywood and lay waste to the people who greenlit next summer’s big films. Legally Blonde 2? shudder. A poor-looking photocopy of Spy Kids? Yes, that’s what we need. I also see that Bill Murray decided to cut his losses, as he doesn’t appear anywhere in the trailer for Charlie’s Angels II. Which featured a CGI sequence that somehow managed to be worse than the one in Die Another Day. If that’s supposed to make me want to spend $8 next year, they’re sadly mistaken. The one bright spot was the Catch Me If You Can trailer. This looks like a lot of fun; I’ll hopefully be seeing it when I come back after the Christmas break (it’s released at the end of Janurary in the UK, but Christmas Day over here).

I arrived back at the hall to find that Amazon had delivered the contents of their warehouse to my room. Christmas presents and the My So-Called Life DVDs. Moohahahahaha. Which I will be bringing home and leaving in the capable hands of my sister, because it would be silly to actually watch them (historical note: I taped every episode of MSCL when it was first on Channel 4. And I saw the first episode, and the last episode. But none of the others. I recorded over them, after they had sat around the house for two years. Hey, ask me about Neverwhere sometime). It’s a pity that the pilot looks like the MPEG encoding was performed on a third-generation videotape, but after all the twists and turns that were involved in producing the set, I’m just glad I have it in my hands. Now all I have to do is get my $100 back from AnotherUniverse…

currently playing: Beat - Rankin Full Stop

Things I didn't know

NTSC was formalised in 1953, fourteen years before PAL. Which probably explains why PAL is much better.

Sliced bread does not taste as nice as non-sliced, even if they are exactly the same type.

The Mighty Wah! were a fine band.

Christopher Priest is writing a fill-in on Thor in February.

My Graphics course is ending with a take-home exam.

The iBook comes with built-in speech recognition.

It’s been a slow day today, in case you were wondering…

currently playing: The Specials - Too Much Too Young

I'm so dead at Christmas...

I made the mistake of having some crisps today. And spent most of the evening doubled over with heartburn.

It seems that I’ve managed to escape having to give the revision lecture, so I can stop worrying about that, and concentrate on the impending Deadlines of DOOOM…

currently playing: Aimee Mann - This Is How It Goes

Answers To Readers' Questions

Glad to hear that you’re liking the new job, Roy. Sounds as if it’s a bit less physical than Somerfields.

What music am I listening to at the moment? I don’t know whether you’d consider it an improvement, but I’ve spent the last week on a musical trip into the past, thanks to SoulSeek, with bands such as Altered Images, KLF, Orange Juice, The Pretenders, Wire, and The Mighty Wah! It’s not a nostalgia thing; I was only two or three when most of these songs were released. Of course, this means that my Amazon wishlist has grown a little. Actually, thinking about it, I’m still going to be in Britain when HMV starts their January sale. Bwahahahaha. I’ve also been listening to a Japanese group called Shonen Knife, and the new Aimee Mann album. As well as the 3,000 other songs I have on rotation on my computer, obviously…

I really hope that it was a misleading cliffhanger. For the safety of the writers.

currently playing: The Mighty Wah! - Heart As Big As Liverpool