2007, then.

I’m still disappointed about Autobot City: Earth.

And: who on Earth stops Blue Monday half-way through? WHOO?

Anyway, happy new year! I spent the last day of 2006 on a candy thermometer hunt with Stacie. We went here, we went there, we went back there, to somewhere else, and eventually found our prize waiting for us in Target.

And then, well, after phoning home, it was almost time for the trip to Durham. I was told that I’d be picked up at 9:30 sharp, only for a clothing combination conundrum to delay that slightly. Christa and I made it over to Durham at a reasonable hour (stopping first at Alex’s (Mandy’s boyfriend) apartment, where I stared at the books in envy and realised I’m getting to the stage where I look at old editions og Pynchon books and think ‘oooh, those are pretty. I’d like those!’, despite having perfectly good copies of them back home. It’s a disease. Just keep me away from bookshops selling old Penguin books, I beg your), and spent the first few hours of 2007 alternately dancing and sitting. Oh, and drinking. Yes, the drinking. I seemed to spend quite a bit of time with Heather (possibly because I looked sober enough to hold some of a conversation while her friends were in the other room dancing. I’m not sure whether I really was, but I tried to keep sentences as coherent as possible).

I think Collin and I finally went to sleep around 4am. Sleeping on the dancefloor itself. That’s how hardcore we are. Erm, yes. Anyway. it was surprisingly comfortable for a wooden floor, or perhaps that was just the alcohol making us numb. Either way, a half-decent sleep, followed by breakfast a la Wyatt, and then a quick dash back to Carrboro for Collin to work a shift at Weaver Street. Goodness knows how he’s going to do that…

Today? Today, I went for a walk and got completely soaked. The rain was really quite hard. Hopefully it won’t last.

currently playing: Johnny Boy - 15 Minutes

DATA #10

LAURA: So, have you eaten today?
IAN: Um, I think I had six or so tic-tacs earlier.

In fairness, the Mexican meal we ended up having could have fed an army.

Yesterday, then, I made up for the earlier Target Misadventures of April. I made it from Carrboro to Laura’s house in Durham without getting lost once; the only trouble was waiting for the TTA and DATA buses to and from New Hope Commons. Hurrah!

I spent most of the day in Durham, meeting a still quite sick Laura and a on-her-way-to-getting-sick Naomi. There was chatter, Little Miss Sunshine, and much other fun. Plus, I finally got to find out where Laura works and what she does!

Afterwards, I had another mini-adventure, walking over to Christa’s apartment for a night of gin, jewellery, and silent films from the 1920s. A very enjoyable Saturday night, there.

Umm, and at some point, I guess I will start taking pictures of people…

currently playing: something playing in the café

Day 3: In Which The Author Wonders

The most unlikely name for whisky ever?

I got PRESENTS last night! A weird and wonderful collection of chopsticks, tic-tacs, a pocket accordion, a device for throwing miniature babies, a set of EVIL PENCIL-THIN MOUSTACHES, and other delights from Christa. Hurrah! All that plus a return to OCSC!

Today - Stacie! We finally met up for lunch, but first we paid a visit to Srav down in the depths of Lenoir Hall. Plus a walk through Battle Park, DS experiments in Panera, a Starscream toy hanging lonely on the racks in Toys R Us (no Wii, but they do have classic controllers), and then a little rest back here at Collin’s. The lazy day, then.

currently playing: Shimura Curves – Keep My Name Out Of Your Blog

Also:

Woohoo! We’ve finally finished paying for World War II!

currently playing: Lemon Jelly – The Fruity Track

I Am A Consumer Whore! And How!

Today: Shopping.

As I’ve mentioned before, there’s something about being here that brings out my inner “MUST CONSUME OMG!”. So, after waking up at 7:30am, I went down to Franklin Street and caught the bus to Southpoint. That turned out to be its own mini-adventure, because South Road is closed for construction. As an aside, since I’ve been coming here in 2002, UNC has resembled a vast building site, and it seems to be getting worse, not better. They still haven’t finished the work next to Sitterson Hall (the Computer Science building where I spent a lot of 2002, and somewhat less of 2003 ensconced in). Anyway, that meant there was a rather long detour before getting anywhere near the mall again.

And again, it marks me out as a good little consumer, but I really like Southpoint Mall. I don’t even have to buy anything; just looking around the shops, checking mail in the Apple Store and reading in Barnes & Noble is good enough for me. Mostly. For today, I was on a mission! Off to American Eagle, where this exchange of events occurred:

CUTE GIRL: How are you doing today, sir?
FLUSTERED IAN: Erm, fine thank you;.
CUTE GIRL: Is there anything you’re looking for?
FLUSTERED IAN (suddenly emblazoned with purpose): Actually, yes!

(Ian reaches into his backpack, pulling out an A4 piece of paper with a picture of a sweater on it)

FLUSTERED IAN: Do you have any of these?
CUTE GIRL (a little flustered herself, looks to her left): Umm, I think they’re over there…

(Ian throws himself into the women’s clothing section)

FLUSTERED IAN: Thank you!

But I got the sweater. So hurrah! Then, off to Gap to see if I could get anything approaching a sane price (and I think a thick scarf for £3 plus a jumper for £10 counts, there). Then the Apple Store. Oh, Apple, you temptress. But I was strong! I walked out with my wallet intact (besides, I have to wait for the traveller’s cheques to clear. Which I thought would happen immediately, but, er, it hasn’t just yet).

Eventually, I pulled myself back to Chapel Hill, getting a phone call from a sick Laura. Struck down with ‘flu and popped ears. Get well soon!

I made my way back down Franklin, seeing how much work has been done on the new hotel, getting a little sad about the bookshop being offered for sale, and yes, going into the fine, the fabulous Chapel Hill Comics to pick up my copies of Phonogram (which would have been complete if someone had kept to a monthly schedule), picked up another book for the Secret 2007 Project (if I say it enough times, it’ll force me to make it happen, I guess), and got some lunch at Wendy’s.

Oh my goodness. I had forgotten that Wendy’s changed all their sizes since I’ve been away. And not in a good way. For, you see, they got rid of their small combo, replacing it with the medium, and the large combo became the medium. The new large combo seems to come in reinforced corrugated cardboard plus a plastic 42 fl oz soda. And perhaps they call 911 for you after the heart attack too. Even the small was too much for me, and I’m still feeling bloated from it now (and I was glad that I went for chicken, otherwise I don’t think I would have made it through the afternoon).

Sadly, tacie and I couldn’t meet up today, but I did have a visit from Esther and Ryan before they headed back to Concord. And I got a lovely collection of little toys and a robot notebook from her. Plus, they might visit in 2007, which would be quite splendid.

And now? Now, I’m sitting back in Collin’s apartment with my new shiny toy: an 80Gb USB-powered hard drive. It’s going to come in handy for another little project lalalalalala

currently playing: Johnny Boy – Johnny Boy Theme

The View From 40,000ft

Oh, okay, 38,000. You’re sticklers for accuracy, and that’s why I love you all (except for you, yes you, right at the back. Kindly remove yourself from these premises).

It has begun. It is weird that the only time I ever feel English is when I leave the country, but already my accent has began to sound strange, I’ve been called ‘very polite’ only an hour into the flight (moving to allow a husband and wife to sit together), and I’m hemmed in by Americans on all sides. A typical RDU flight. However, it is the first flight that I’ve had a huge bottle of gin stuffed into my bag.

But! Hark! What is this?! For the first time since I’ve been on this flight (starting in August 2002, so I’ve been doing this for four years now. A little scary, that), they’ve changed the menu! Slightly! For instead of chicken with a mush that once resembled pasta, now it’s chicken with a green mush that resembles pasta with pesto! I was astounded. I just hope that the spongy, springy pizza hasn’t been changed. It sounds horrible, yet somehow it always turns out to be an enjoyable experience.

Manic scenes at Gatwick this morning. The check-in desk was, as usual, almost deserted, but they still haven’t adjusted well to the new security requirements, meaning that the queue for Security Control was so large that they had to have officials going around to pull people out of the queue in order for them to make their flight.

It’s very disconcerting when the lights go off and then come back five seconds later. There should be less of that.

Anyway, the usual wander around the duty-free shops, seeing if Dixons had tax-free Wiis (they didn’t), the sale items at HMV (at which point: Bonnie: they had the Clerks X edition for £5.17 in there — might be worth picking up!), looking in vain at various brands of whisky, and wondering whether other countries concentrate quite so much on alcohol in their duty-free shops (I know America doesn’t). Absinthe with warning labels telling you not to even bother attempting to get it past US Customs, next to huge bottles of vodka and rum in a 2 for £20 deal. We don’t have a problem really.

And now, for the highlights from this month’s SkyMall magazine, Yes, I knew you were waiting for it. First up - the Pet Staircase. Designed to allow your cat to walk up to the top of your sofa before trying to tear it apart, rather than the usual method of having it jump up there. Excellent. A collection audio summaries of business books that you don’t have time to read, but need to know about to stay current in the Exciting World o’ Business! Only $169! Titles include Break From The Pack, The Giants of Sales, Loyalty Myths,, and The Enthusiastic Employee. Fabulous value, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Oh, my they sell adult onesies. That’s just a little freaky.

But I think the prize for this month goes to the Computer-Less Printer. This marvel of 21st century technology (indeed, it is when it all happens) connects to a phone line; every night, it dials out to a special toll-free number, downloads any emails in your messagebox, and helpfully prints them out. I’m sure we can come up with at least five different reasons why this is a particularly silly idea. If nothing else, at $169 plus a $10/month charge for the online service, it’ll probably be cheaper after a year to have gone on bought a computer in the first place. And you know it would only be a matter of time before you came downstairs to be greeted by offers of millions from Africa or Christian dating services. The blurb also says that it takes ‘standard’ ink cartridges, so obviously it works with HP, Epson, Lexmark, and hell, you could empty a Parker pen into it and I’m sure it’ll continue to print. Or perhaps not.

And now, turbulence.

(some time later)

Travelling for twelve hours now. It should be night. The wonders of air travel. Unfortunately, I am at loss of things to do. My fancy new iPod Shuffle has just looped, I have exhausted the SkyMall magazine, read all about Belgium in the American Way, I have got past a point in New Super Mario Brothers where I had given up a few months ago. Only to get stuck again a few levels later. Getting there. I have read, I have slept (for about twenty minutes; I can never seem to sleep well on aeroplanes), I have filled in my Customs forms. About the only thing I havent done is work on my secret project for 2007. Which I should, but I’m not sure whether Ill get anything useful out of my frazzled head at this point in time. Two hours to do. Well, I guess we should get our ‘afternoon snack’ soon…

(even further later)

there then followed an evening of…running around RDU looking for Christa, finding her only to be told horror stories about multiple murders in multi-storey cr parks, being warned that unusual methods would be taken to keep me awake, eating sesame chicken again, yay! Watching most of The Dark Crystal while discovering that birds can, funnily enough, peck quite hard. The usual fun with an exercise ball. Fingers caught in a door. That they’ve been saving New Order up for my return. A flapper hat and a walk in the dark. Then letting me have sweet sweet rest, 22 hours after this tale begins…

currently playing: Circulatory System – Joy

On the subject of Father Christmas...

Many have pointed to the world’s population level and Mr. Christmas’s rather limited means of transportation as a means of casting doubt on the veracity of his feats. In fact, Mr. Claus managed to keep up with the population explosion throughout most of the 19th century, thanks to a Hobo/Yeti alliance in North America. Sadly, in 1894, dismayed by the ever-lengthening railroads and the unseemly behaviour of “Cranks” McShawmack (of the legendary McShawmack clan), the first of the Yeti-Hobo wars began. For a while, it appeared that the hobos had the upper hand in the conflict, although historians now believe that both sides were reduced to fewer than a hundred members by the final battle that raged a few blocks away from President Reagan’s inauguration in 1981.

To resolve his supply issues, Santa first turned to the technology of the day for salvation. The Christmas of 1900 saw the first mass airlift of presents from the North Pole; a fleet of airships taking to the sky, delivering their precious cargo. Sadly, it turned out that elves lacked a certain head for heights, and had a tendency to plunge into the sea at the first opportunity. The children of Luxembourg received no presents that year because of a horrific ten-ship crash in the middle of the English Channel (indeed, it is often thought that the lack of hope and good cheer in the children that year was a direct cause of the Bad Boys And Girls Riot of 1901).

After surveying the burning wreckage of Luxembourg in July 1901, Father Christmas swore off airships; for the next forty years, ninety-eight percent of presents were delivered by the postal services in the countries of the world. An experiment involving flapper girls in 1926 went horribly wrong, leading to salacious pictures of Mr. Christmas being published in the Hearst Press. Mrs. Claus made sure that it never happened again.

In July 1947, Santa saw a shooting star blaze across the sky whilst taking the reindeer out for a brief sojourn. He followed the meteorite to its destination, a small town named Roswell, residing in the state of New Mexico. There, he came face-to-face with Rexatfaloobrious-9 from the Deltaon Star Brigade. Rexatfaloobrious-9 (or Rexatfaloobrioussmelgoodaleeekaxho-9.1434566443 to his friends) saw the goodness within Santa’s heart; knowing that he was dying from wounds sustained from the crash, he gave Santa a Deltaon tool.

Towing the ship back to the North Pole (and thus confounding both the US Military and UFO experts), he granted Rexatfaloobrioussmelgoodaleeekaxho-9.1434566443’s (for Santa was considered a friend) last wish; to be encased in ice and shot out into the expanse of space, so that he may be reborn when the space-god Rotaxes-252 awakes from his Millennia Slumber. Unfortunately, this was something of a mistake; when Rotaxes-252 did awaken in 1962, it was discovered that he was actually a terrible planet-destroyer powered by the soul-energy left behind in Deltoan corpses. An irony not found particularly amusing in the Tau Star Empire, which lost over five thousand planets in the ensuing battle.

It wasn’t until 1955 that Santa perfected the use of the Deltoan artefact. Powered by solar energy and elves on treadmills, the device could rearrange the atomic structure of any substance into anything that the holder imagined. After creating a (purely defensive, of course) set of thermonuclear missiles, Santa began using it to create presents. But he still had to deliver them; with the Baby Boom, this was becoming an impossible task even with outsourcing most of it to the Post Office.

Beren Lightleaf, head elf, came up with the solution. He suggested that Santa create a teleporter that could magically put the presents in every child’s home. Delighted by this idea, Santa made a tragic error, waving the device at Beren as he instructed it to create the machine. Beren was instantly transformed into the teleporter. Although he was saddened by the loss of his friend, the teleporter was a great success, and anyway, Beren had a nasty habit of chewing garlic cloves, a habit that was not altogether possible in his new form.

And that, to this day, is how Santa gets presents into the homes of children across the world. His network of spy robins has, however, recently been commandeered by British and American security services as part of The War Against Terror, so he may have to make some adjustments for 2007 so that he can maintain his lists of those who have been naughty, and those who have been nice. For now, though, let us go to sleep and awake to find what gifts have been molecularly-rearranged for us this year!

Father Christmas Is Stuck!

Snappish 2006: I suck.

Songs that I meant to write about this advent:

  • Cat Power — Could We
  • The Pipettes — Pull Shapes
  • Camera Obscura — Let's Get Out Of This Country
  • Jarvis Cocker — Running The World

I apologise, and promise to do better in 2007.

currently playing: John Hodgman — The 700 Hobo Names

Songs of Advent 7

Neko CaseThe Needle Has Landed

Okay, so given my predilection for female vocals, I was always going to love Neko. And I did. But Fox Confessor Brings The Flood took it further this year (going to see her in Carrboro helped, as well, I think). That voice. Haunting, sultry, playful, damning, joyful; the charms of the South. Sitting on a porch on a humid evening, watching the sun go down. And other such things.

The Needle Has Landed is the final track on the album, and it’s just sublime; a tale of returning back to old haunts, of gossip and why you got the hell out of there in the first place. Complete with a chorus to die for.

currently playing: Pet Shop Boys – Can You Forgive Her?