Sunday, 13 December 2009
Wednesday, 2 December 2009
Well, December is upon us, which means I've put the Christmas tree up. Whilst this is something that I generally look forward to, and indeed, get quite excited about - as with most things in life the reality does not live up to my idealised imaginings.
For anyone who hasn't put there's up yet, here's a few pointers for you:
- Drink heavily before attempting to put up a tree of any size. This doesn't make it any easier but at least you won't care as much, and the injuries that you will no doubt incur won't hurt until you sober up.
- Make sure you put the base together correctly before attaching the tree. Crawling round on the floor with twigs poking you in the eye whilst the whole thing sways worryingly above you can be avoided this way.
- Plan where you are going to put the tree in advance, considering sight lines to the TV, windows, each other etc.. Moving a fully decorated tree should only be attempted by someone experienced in disarming landmines.
- Test the lights before putting them on the tree. This will help you avoid the frustration of finding out that they won't turn on because one shitting bulb has blown, and Christ alone knows how you're supposed to find out which of the little wankers it is. Or in severe cases (like the memorable Christmas of '98) the whole thing going up like a roman candle and second degree burns.
- Don't expect anyone else to appreciate your efforts. Whilst you may decorate the tree with the all the care and attention to colour, design and space as Picasso, this won't stop your wife/husband/children/man come to read the gas meter saying it looks "ok" before moving everything around.
- Small animals - especially those partial to shiny things, should be caged for the entire duration of Christmas to avoid the 'baubles everywhere and trying to untangle the cat from the tree' scenario.
So there you go. Follow these guidlines, and you should be ok.
Friday, 20 November 2009
Though tonight is Children in Need night here in the UK, a worthy charity indeed, but it does mean that I will no doubt be accosted several times by people dressed in a variety of outfits asking for donations. I can only hope it's mostly girls in their 20's dressed as nurses and strippers, and not Prince Harry dressed as a Nazi (see above).
Also at this time of year, I start to think about Christmas presents. Not what I want, but what I should be buying for my various family and friends.
I always find it quite tricky to buy for others when I have no idea what they want. My sister as usual has given me a list, which is appreciated, and my best friend Andy will be getting a book like he does every year, but as for everyone else, I'm somewhat adrift. I ask them, and say things like 'surprise me', or 'I don't really know'. If they don't know what they want, how am I supposed to guess? And as for a 'surprise'- you can take this 2 ways, and I've learnt through experience that exotic pets and severed goats head - whilst fulfilling the remit of being a surprise - are not necessarily appreciated.
So please let me know your suggestions for what I should buy my assorted family and friends - they cover a wide range of ages, genders, cultures and sexual orientations. The winner gets a severed goats head.
Tuesday, 17 November 2009
That time of year is upon once more my friends where we moan about all the Christmas ads on TV, the shop window displays full of snow, and generally reminisce about how when we were kids no one motioned Christmas before 24th December and it's getting earlier every year. This years bunch of Christmas adds are quite a chilling affair, headed up by M&S who's adverts begin with Stephen Fry telling us to mince once a year. Oh M&S, you masters of the subtle double-entendre.
My personal favourite is Mr Sansburys (that's Jamie Oliver to anyone who doesn't own a TV) giving out mince pies from the back of Sainsburys van parked in quaint villages. It has an unusual docu-drama feel which I assume is to lead us to believe that this is what Jamie likes to do in his spare time when he's not busy having a life.
Whilst we're on the subject of things that are just plane wrong - there's a poster at Chancery Lane tube station for the new twilight movie - you know, Mills&Boon for teenage girls - with a great big picture of the moody looking Robert Pattinson. Since it's gone up, there is an increasing amount of lipstick appearing on his face as passers-by, presumably teenage girls or the mentally ill have been kissing it.
Now I know that the cleaning team in our capitals underground transport system do a wonderful and often under appreciated job, but I still can't believe that advertising posters put up by an elderly man called Arthur who looks like he could use a shower and smells like piss are safe to lick. I expect an outbreak of hepatitis any day now.
Since I've been away for a while, I thought I'd treat you all to this little gem. Lady GaGa's poker face as you've never heard it before.
All worship the hair....
Wednesday, 7 October 2009
My computer had an 'episode' yesterday. It's been coming for a while, but it finally kicked the bucket around dinner time. I've tried changing the graphics card, and both hard drives, but no luck. I think it's the motherboard (or rather, hoping it is as my hard drive contains all my music, films, bank account details, entire life etc...), but as I built the thing about 2 years ago - and chip designers seem intent on changing how many pins their processors have every 2 days - it's proving harder than I imagined trying to get a new one.
It's time like these that you realise just how much you rely on the interweb. Back when I was at school, we had these weird things called 'books' instead, though to be honest, they did have some advantages like being able to work in a power cut. But now, I find myself pacing the room and foaming at the mouth occasionally. No longer can I type in my postcode on google streetmaps and see what the outside of my flat looks like, no longer can I while away the hours looking up facts of dubious authenticity on Wikipedia. In fact, about only entertainment I have is to try one of these.
Monday, 5 October 2009
And we'll end with a funky choon. This just makes me want to jump around the living room:
Monday, 14 September 2009
I've been writing a bit more lately - still plugging away at that multi-million bestseller that's gonna be ready as soon as I get off my arse and get writing more.
Went up to Nottingham at the weekend - Mrs Block was running the half-marathon (and no, I didn't before you ask). Just under 2 hours, so she's pretty chuffed.
This week's looking bright for a change. I feel like there's a light at the end of the tunnel - here's hoping it not a man walking the other way with a flame thrower...
Tuesday, 8 September 2009
I'm currently sat at home coughing every 30 seconds, which I ascribe to my quitting smoking (at long last) which is severely playing havoc with my lungs. I assume it's the sudden influx of fresh air that they've been deprived of for the last several years, and they're not sure how to cope.
I also got promoted at work, which was a bit of a surprise if I'm honest. They asked me to come along to a meeting and offered me a promotion just like that, which was nice. So more work, more shouting, less sleep.
Short post today, because I need to go drain my lungs again. I should be back to my usual 3/4 a week by the weekend. Here's some funky music to keep you entertained in the mean time:
Tuesday, 7 July 2009
It does make you wonder though, if they're making a film out of this, what's next? We've already got The A-Team in the works - though this won't be half as good as it could have been now that Bernie Mac has passed away, I always thought he'd make a great BA.
But really, what else can they drag up? And who will they get to play our childhood heroes?
I'm already wondering who could replace Shatner in TJ Hooker - I'm not sure where else they'll find a bald man with a bad wig and a big ego.
But seriously, Who's next? Streethawk? Airwolf? Chips? That one with the bloke who could turn into animals?
Let me know of any suggestions you have - and I'll pass them on to Tarrantino. He's already interested in the 'My Little Pony's ninja nightmare' script I gave him.
Coming to a silver screen near you:
Friday, 3 July 2009
You should need a license to operate a pushchair, like a car or a forklift. And like driving a forklift, you'll find that having a mobile phone stuck to your ear whilst one hand digs around inside your handbag makes them unpredictable in the staring department and you're likely to skew wildly about the place severely pissing off innocent runners like me.
And old people, they're just taking the piss. I'm running along, about 20 yards from a bus stop. There's an old lady who looks about 104 sat waiting for the bus. She sees me, stands up, walks out in front of me and turns round to face to the other way just as I get there. I mean what the hell are you doing you blue-rinsed moron? You just been sat there waiting for some hapless fellow to come by so you can jump out in front of them? Luckilly, I managed to swerve into the road (good luck there wasn't an actual bus coming) and miss knocking her skyward.
But really, I don't why I bother. Sometimes, I think I should just keep running in a straight line, no swerving, no moving out of the way, like a train with a psychotic driver hell bent on destruction leaving a trail of blue rinsed hip replacements in my wake.
And I thought this running malarky was supposed to lower my blood pressure.
Anyways, here's quite possibly the most chillaxicle piece of music I know (today anyhow). So if you too feel like screaming at the world, turn up your speakers and listen to this, you'll be thinking of fluffly kittens, lost loves, and all that in no time:
Thursday, 2 July 2009
'No, though that is a cool name - if your stripper anyway'
'Oh OK, I thought you looked like a girl I know called Crystal from Peru.'
'No no, but I'm always getting mistaken for Spanish/Greek/Portuguese/insert country here' (Mrs Block has a wide variety in her family).
'Oh ok' he says, and then we have a slightly surreal and awkward conversation about Peru before he wanders off.
We think this is a bit weird. I mean, who the hell calls their daughter Cyrstal? Is he trying to chat her up? (she is rather pretty - and I am punching above my weight) but then why try and chat up a girl who's clearly with another guy who (and I don't mean to blow my own trumpet or anything) looks a damn sight bigger and meaner than you?
We're thinking about this when we notice he's gone on to another table and seems to be having the same conversation with someone else, then another, then another. And then a little lightbulb appears over our heads and we suddenly realise - he's a drug dealer. And suddenly I feel very stupid and uncool and not down with the kids at all for not knowing today's euphemism, like I should go up to the guy and say 'Hey, I get it now, Cystal, from Peru, as in meth yeah?' And then I'm wondering why I'm bothered about looking like an idiot in front of a drug dealer.
Mrs Block finds the whole thing very amusing, especially the bit of floundering around by the guy trying to say something interesting abut Peru.
And then I'm thinking there's a lot of people whispering in his ear, Christ there's a lot of junkies around here - which makes me feel a little bit sad.
And then we went home.
Quote for today:
"A lot of people think I'm a Michael Jackson impersonator" - Michael Jackson
Monday, 29 June 2009
Several bands later, and The Killers came on at 9pm, and played for a little under 2 hours - and they were fuckin' A. We had a great spot near the stage, nestled between the man who looked like he'd been let out for the weekend, and the girl who'd drank her own bodyweight in Vodka Redbulls. My plan was to post some pics/vids, however, I can't find the lead that connects my phone to the PC, so I'll have to put them on some other time.
On a sadder note, the news of the weekend - Michael Jackson is dead. MJ did seems to divide public opinion, he had his die hard fans who pretty much thought her was Jesus without the beard, and then everyone else who thought he used to be great, but was now just a bit weird.
But whatever you thought of him; pop-god, child molester, misguided genius, or any combination of these, there's no doubting the great impact he made on the world of pop. It was hard to believe he was over 6 foot tall and had hands the same size of Mohamed Ali's when you saw him shaking his stuff on stage, and Thriller changed the way everyone thought about the music video. It's a shame he won't be playing the O2, I know a few people who had tickets to see him and I'm sure they'll be most upset.
That is of course assuming he is dead, and not somewhere alive and well and suddenly debt free in south America whilst one of his many doubles lies in a morgue...
And if you're going to to LA anytime soon, and plan to leave a tribute on his star on 'Hollywood's walk of fame', please be sure to get the right one. The one in all the papers, surrounded by candles, flowers, and crying MJ fans, is actually that of very much still alive LA talk radio host Michael Jackson. The now deceased pop sensation Michael Jackson's star is currently underneath the red carpet outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre waiting for the cast of Bruno to walk all over it at the premier.
So farewell Michael - you of moonwalking feet, not-quite-proven allegations, and curiously Caucasian children (apparently, the daughter Paris is the result of a 'donation' from MacCaulay Culkin - hence the blonde hair). You were a bit weird, well, you were a bit mental in all honesty and quite possibly spent a bit too much dubious time with boys not of your own age, but nobody else could move quite like you, and you will be sorely missed by the world of pop.
His first moonwalk on stage (at least I think this was the first performance):
Tuesday, 23 June 2009
For starters, despite being in somewhat of a rush to be on time for the train, the man seemed to have no concept of 4th gear, or indeed what the vertical peddle on the floor was for. Admittedly, he was getting on a bit, and was rather rotund, so I assume he's not that used to moving in any way shape or form, but if your job is to drive people around all day, it surely makes sense to move your fat ass and not drive below 20mph.
At the first junction we get to, he just stops. No cars coming in either direction, in fact no forms of motorised transport at all that I could see, but we stopped for about 30 seconds anyway. And when I thought this couldn't get any worse, he started talking.
You know you're in for a bad conversation when the first thing the person your speaking to says is 'did you see about that bloke in the News of the World?'
No I didn't - I read a newspaper, one with news in. If I wanted knee-jerk reactionism and unobjective ramblings, I'd speak to a Jeremy Clarkson.
Then he starts talking about paedophiles, and how he thinks they should all be in prison. well no shit Sherlock, you think? He goes on to tell me that if a paedophile ever attacked his grandchildren, he'd probably kill them - and he says this like he's really proud of it, like no one else has ever thought of this and it makes him special.
He then goes on about diplomatic immunity, and how 'foreigners' shouldn't be exempt from the law, by which time I've fallen into a coma.
Most taxi drivers I've had have been friendly, or at least quiet, but I just don't get these folks who think that because I have to sit in the same car, means I 'm really interested in their xenophobic sun-reader take on the world. Next time, I'm wearing ear plugs.
Anyways, on a lighter note, it's only 3 more days before I go see the Killers (and the Kooks) in Hyde Park - really can't wait.
Monday, 22 June 2009
Don't get me wrong, I recycle, I turn off lights, I only buy line caught Tuna, and I don't eat Cod (the last 2 is because of the overfishing and general methods used), but I draw the line at Pandas.
I mean - they're hardly helping themselves are they? For a start, Pandas are bears, and like all bears, have evolved to be carnivores. However, Pandas don't eat meat, they have a diet that consists pretty much exclusively of bamboo, which is made up mostly of cellulose. which Pandas can't digest, hence the need for them to eat 30 pounds of the stuff every day. They reason they look a bit dopey and cute all the time is because they're knackered, very little nutrition = very little energy, so anything more than walking slowly is beyond them.
Secondly, they never want to have sex. Despite all that slutty eye make-up, Pandas would rather scratch their arse than have a romantic night in with Mrs Panda. Though I feel that this may be related to my previous point, zoos have tried pretty much everything to get them 'in the mood', including Viagra and Panda porn. I'm not sure how they managed to get hold of Panda porn, given the scarcity of Panda sex, but there you go.
Which all makes me wonder, that maybe without mans intervention, Pandas would be extinct. There are plenty of species that mans activities have brought to extinction, or the brink of it, but this is just the opposite - nature has created an animal that doesn't breed or move (unless you poke it with a stick) so surely we're just screwing with natural selection by getting them jacked up on Viagra and playing Barry White.
In my view, there are other species on the planet more worthy of saving - they just have the misfortune to not look as cute. And why are they called Giant Pandas? Where did all the normal sizes ones go? Probably eaten by the Giant ones - wouldn't surprise me...
Anyways, enough of upsetting people, here's a little ditty from a few years back - and quite possibly the only song by these guys I've ever heard (apparently the rest isn't worth listening to). I thnk they're using this on TV at the moment to advertise another TV show as well...
Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Anyways - a good night with a good line up, including quite possibly the funniest man alive Stewart Lee.
And in his honour, here's a clip of him talking about books from his recent TV series :
Thursday, 11 June 2009
All insurance policies have it down - but what does it actually mean? Does it mean that if a plague of locust steal my car I'm not covered? If I had a house on the shore of the red sea a couple of thousand years ago and it got flooded out when that Moses guy parted it in the middle, thereby raising the sea level everywhere else - would I still be covered?
Or does it include all acts of god - in which case (if you're religiously inclined) just about everything is an act of god. If a tree falls on my house - god made the tree, the wind etc... therefore it's his fault. If someone sets fire to my house - god put him here on the planet - therefore is it an act of god in a roundabout way? Where do you draw the line?
And what about atheists. For them it's just a case of 'shit happens' - nothing's an act of god. Is that a valid argument on a claim form?
And no-one ever seems to say which god - there's thousands of religions around the world - they can't all be right.
Personally, I'm agnostic - so I'm siding with the 'shit happens' folks - but it's an interesting question nonetheless which had me pondering for a while this morning.
Anyways - enough of the philosophising - here's The Killers doing some accoustic magic. Going to see them later this month, so I'm currently listening to them pretty much non-stop.
Monday, 8 June 2009
The whole situation can be confusing, so I've put together a wholly biased and inaccurate handy guide to explain who's who, and a little of what's going on.
David Cameron - leader of the conservatives.
Seen by many as nothing but a vacuous toff, nonetheless, the conservative party are now out in the lead in the polls, and will most probably win the next general election (whenever that is). They have an interesting strategy, in that they don't actually have any policies, or indeed, any opinion on anything at all. They
just keep their mouths shut and wait for the the current government to
mess things up royally, so people will vote for them on the 'can't do any worse'
ticket. Despite some of them using taxpayers money to have their moats cleaned, this is proving to be the most popular thing they've ever done.
Nick Clegg- Vince Cables stunt man, and leader of the liberal democrats. This is the only picture of him known to exist. Ask pretty much anyone in the UK who the leader of the lib dems is, and they'll say Vince Cable (including Vince Cable).
Apparently he was raised by wolves.
And now for the lot currently in power:
Hazel Blears (photo actual size). Former communities secretary and MP for Lillyput. In a way, the one who kicked it all off with her spectacular resignation.
Basically, she dodged paying tax, misused taxpayers money and apologised - which is where she went wrong. Other ministers who did the same and didn't apologies got away with it.
She is actually only 7 inches tall and was created in 1981 by Jim Hensons workshop as a prototype for 'The Dark Crystal'. Her loss to the government is seen by most as 'a pretty good thing'.
Caroline Flint - Former housing minister and all round sex goddess. Another spectacular resignation, blaming Gordon for leading the party on a downward spiral, and for not noticing when she got her hair cut. She's said that Gordon used her for 'window dressing' and that she had no power as a minister, never got invited round for tea and biscuits, and was generally there just to look pretty and make it appear that there where women making decisions in government. To which Gordon quite rightly responded 'There there, now don't you worry your pretty little head about it'. With her and the dwarf gone, along with pretty much every other women in any position of power, Alistair Darling has been told he can only continue in his role as chancellor if he wears a dress.
Gordon 'Happy' Brown - Depending on when you're reading this, either Prime Minister, or former Prime minister. It's been something of a bad few weeks for Mr Brown. It all started off with his rather good impression of the child catcher from chitty chitty bang bang on youtube, and he surprised everyone by going downhill from there. Pretty much everyone around him has resigned, and in the European elections on Thursday he managed to steer his party to it's worst election result since 1918. He's also blamed for the current financial crisis, and seen as a dithering idiot who is out of touch with the British people. Makes you feel bad just watching to be honest. In political terms, he's like an old incontinent sheep dog. He mopes around looking sad all day, and you can't help but think that someone should take him to the vets for a long sleep.
Monday, 1 June 2009
Wrote this in bed last night, edited for 10 minutes this afternoon, and here you go. Consequently, it's a little thin on plot, however, I wrote this more as a 'mood setter' rather than a story. It's about travelling on the London underground (hence the title), however, I'd also like to point out that the views of the narrator are not mine - I actually quite enjoy it in a weird masochistic kinda way.
Hope you all likey, please feel free to leave comment whether you found it good, bad, or ordinary. As all writers should, I value anyones view whatever it is.
Also - for those of you not living in the UK, Gregg's is a chain of shops selling unhealthy pastry, and a pasty is generally meat and potatoes wrapped in lard filled pastry.
I'll try do 'propper' writing on here more often, in the mean time, you can find the last one I wrote by following this link.
On the tube
Stood next to the door with the box at my feet, I hold onto the rail to steady myself against the random rocking of the carriage, my knuckles white against the red paint that identifies my train as being on the central line.
And I try not to think about the thousands of hands who’ve held this rail before me and how well do they clean these trains anyway?
The pretty girl opposite me in the Blonde hair with the bright pink lips and a dress that looks expensive says ‘I just want our family to move forward as one unit’ to the man at her side who looks annoyed.
Oxford circus and the doors open to the fishbowl world. Prams and bags, old ladies in big coats, foreign students in rucksacks.
The doors close and we all shuffle half an inch – a token gesture to our travelling companions, a hint of solidarity. All jerk forwards, and on our way to Tottenham court road. Above us Oxford street; half a mile of too small shops selling hats wearing union jacks, love London T-shirts, teapots shaped like old red telephone boxes, key chains, fridge magnets, postcards, watches, anything they can put a flag and a funny slogan on whilst 120 watts of sub woofer play a thump thump thump that lasts until forever, spilling out onto the pavement with their dodgy merchandise, polluting the world with their words.
The station arrives and the doors open. A small child with ginger hair in the seat next to where I’m standing says to his mother ‘they’ve done arm transplants from dead people in China’.
Freaks and geeks mind the gap and we all move back half an inch. A fat man stands next to me, sausage fingers wrapped around a Gregg’s pasty. He’s sweating grease, his matted hair stuck down to his head as he chomps away at the carbs in his hand. I wonder for a moment what he’d look like if you sliced him open, if he’d look like a Gregg’s pasty all the way through, just pastry and fat, potatoes and not much meat, all grey. Moments like these are why they invented the ipod. Plug yourself into another world, where you can’t hear the screaming babies or the bad grammar, where the birds sing a pretty song. Loose your thoughts.
And I try not to think of grey hairs, getting fat, getting old, lung cancer and myocardial infarction.
But I don’t have an ipod, just the box at my feet.
Sunday, 31 May 2009
Thanks to Argentum Vulgaris over at Blogger's Cafe for awarding me the Blogger's Cafe First Award. Truly undeservedly of me I'm sure!
The rules say I have to pass this on to 8 others (who in turn pass it one etc...) and quote the following:
“These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers.”
Now I usually tend to pass on awards to the same folks (you know who you are, and how great you are - well at least how great I think you are if that matters for anything). Truth is everyone on my 'Blogs worth reading' list are just that, along with plenty of others (sorry, not very good at updating that list!)
So I've decided to pass this award on to the blogs I've not passed anything on to before. These are all very good blogs, and I urge you to take a moment to go check them out:
1, 2, and 3: Amy Greenburg, Rachel G, and Susan K all over at Daily Artwork
4 - Nicole over at The Writings of Noupa *
5 - Ram over at The Prison Diary of Ram Venkatararam (formerly The Food Here Convenience Store before his - er - incarceration)
6 - Ben Goldacre at Bad Science
7 - Chrissy at I Shoulda Been a Strippa
8 - AV of course, over at Blogger's Cafe to name just one.
And there you have it. I'm not going to the usual thing of telling these people they've won something, as I'm helping cook Chicken Tagine, and well, it's 8 comments to write and I'm lazy. Plus some of these people are far too popular to care - but I urge you all to go have a read for yourself, and tell them I sent you.
In separate news, we had a 'Spanish Festival' here today in London. They closed off Regent Street to traffic, and in it's place had loads of tents full of crowds of people all wondering what the people at the front where looking at. They were also cooking 2 giant Paellas on what appeared to be captured UFOs, and had dancing horse from Menorca - as my wife mused 'the horse version of synchronised swimming'.
Was a tad disappointing I have to admit, as when you did manage to fight your way through to the front of a crowd, you found that there was just a man at the front giving out holiday brochures for villa, however, the wife did manage to climb over pensioners and tourists at one stall to get a free hat. Worth the trip for everyone else to casualty I'm sure.
Also, if I don't smoke today I've manged a week without - which means I've already reduced my risk of a heart attack by 50% and screamed loudly into a pillow every 10 minutes. I'm hoping the withdrawal symptoms - which consist of me shouting loudly at the world in general - will soon subside.
Until then, I'll leave you with a quote:
'I started out with nothing, and I've still got most of it left.'
EDIT - It's come to my attention that I haven't actually written any fiction, or anything about writing fiction pretty much since I started writing this blog, which is what I was originally intending to do (hence the title). Sorry all, I'll get something down tonight whilst I'm drunk and post tomorrow when I',m sober.
Saturday, 30 May 2009
Tonight is the final of 'Britain's got talent', and unless you've been living in a cave for the last month, you've probably heard of Susan Boyle - the 100million hits on youtube singing muppet.
Now don't get me wrong, she can sing quite well, and I'm sure she's a lovely lady (though going ballistic at journalists this week hasn't helped her image), but she's no Kathryn Jenkins.
The fact is, that if she was pretty, she'd be pretty unremarkable. The only thing that makes her stand out is that you don't expect someone who looks like they should definitely get out more (and do some serious plucking with their eyebrows) to be able to sing. If she was 25, reasonably attractive and sang like that, no one outside of the UK would have heard of her, and she may well have not made the semis. Certainly not the final with the out of tune start she had singing memory this week - which the judges seemed to completely miss. No doubt they're banking on her making the final to boost the ratings. Piers Morgan is a prick, and Amanda Holden can't move her face because of all the botox, so I don't expect them to tell the truth, but even Simon Cowell said she did well - and he's usually honest to the point of brutal.
I'm sure this says a lot about the society we live in, and the way we judge people on looks (good and bad), but I'm no psychologist.
There's been lots of press around her this week, maybe quitting the show, going mental at the TV because a singer in another semi-final did well, close to breaking point from the pressure etc... most of which seems to be pretty lame PR by the shows producers and judges to me.
To quote Jo Hemmings, a behavioural psychologist 'She's angry, she overwhelmed. It's all very sad'
My prediction - she won't win. No way they'd risk putting her in front of the queen in her current precarious mental state.
On a brighter note - I'm still not smoking. This is my 6th day, so going pretty well. I'm trying to avoid alcohol - which will either help in that alcohol makes me want to smoke, or hinder, as now I have 2 things to not do. Maybe I should just join a monastery.
Thursday, 28 May 2009
Tuesday, 19 May 2009
On a 'I-should-really-have-blogged-about-this-at-the-weekend' note, the UK came 5th in this years fantabulously weird and probably most camp competition in the world - Eurovision, which was held on Saturday in Moscow. Our entry was sung by Jade, accompanied by the phantom of the opera himself, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and watched by me and wife accompanied by a coupld of bottles of wine (not necessary but highly recommended).
For those of you outside of Europe, who are not familiar with this annual spectacle, allow me to explain.
Every year, Europe holds a song contest. Just about ever country in Europe (and Israel which always puzzled me) puts a song forward. There's normally a couple of heats before the top 25 songs get performed live on stage in the country that won it the previous year, followed by the live votes from all of the European countries (and Israel) which decide the winner. Previous entrants include that little know band at the time Abba, as well as God botherer Cliff Richards and Bucksfizz.
The acts are normally your typical euro-pop. It's customary for them to wear some sort of hideous costume that makes your eyes hurt, whilst belting out such great lyrics as 'Dum tek tek' (this years Turkish entry which came 4th).
There's also usually a couple of entries that are just plane weird, and the odd one or two that are actually disturbing, such as Russia's entry this year which seemed to consist of a woman having a nervous breakdown whilst a video of herself turning into an old woman was played behind her on the stage. I guess they couldn't afford to host it 2 years running.
Anyways, the winner this year with quite possibly the most annoying song in the world was Norway - some fiendishly cute elf-man playing a violin and singing about being in love. Someone pass the bucket. They scored a new record of 387 points, easily beating the previous highest score of 297 or thereabouts set by Lordi, the zombie death metal band who won it a couple of years ago with 'Hard Rock Hallelujah'.
Yes, you read that correctly, zombie death metal.
They were followed in second place by Iceland, whose entry was a very nice ballad sung by a pretty girl dressed like one of those dolls old people put on top of toilet rolls. They were robbed if you ask me, much better than Norwegian elf boy.
Third were Azerbaijan, I have no idea where that is on a map.
But hey, we came 5th! that's the first time we've been in the top 10 for years, mostly due to the fact that they've changed the voting system, so now half the votes come from people phoning in. Last year (as in previous years) it was decided in each country by a panel who voted for whatever country was threatening to invade/turn off their gas supply if they didn't vote for them.
My personal favourite was the Ukraine, with 'Be my Valentine (Anti-crisis girl)'. Apparently she re-mortgaged her flat to pay for the stage set-up. The bit with her being towed by Roman soldiers whilst playing the drums is the best bit.
Now looking for a new flat - Ukraine
Previous winners Lordi. If you think this is bad, you should have seen second place.
Friday, 15 May 2009
I am one classy guy.
Wednesday, 13 May 2009
Well it's a little after 5am, and I'm partially awake and typing.
I hate not being able to sleep. I have this weird kind of insomnia some days whereby I find it really easy to get to sleep at night, I just wake up ridiculously early and can't go back to sleep (about 4am today).
Personally, I blame work. Having a shitter of a week/month/year.
To make my boring job worse, our overlords have told us that we won't be getting a pay rise this year. Pay freezes for everyone. They've also said that no one can get promoted, as that would mean they'd have to give them a pay rise, and they're not going to do that. Which is particularly bad if you got told you were getting a promotion at this years annual review - one of only 2 times in the year that anyone is allowed to be promoted, and now you're told you'll have to wait.
It's not like I work for a bank or anything, so I'm pretty sure this is just to piss us off and increase profit margins.
On a cheerier note, I've just discovered Don DeLillo - friend of mine bought me a couple of his books. Reading White Noise at the mo, not got very far yet, but it's pretty good so far.
His writing style is a little like mine, or more accurately, my writing style is a little like his, only he's much better at it than me - with clipped sentences and the like. Not that I write that much like that here, this is just me madly ranting my inane tirade into the void, but I guess everyone needs a hobby.
Thursday, 7 May 2009
Thanks to Street Guru over at What the world needs now for awarding me with the Kreativ Blogger thingy.
I have to list 7 things I love apparently, so here we go in no particular order:
- The wifey - Mrs Block. As a friend said to me on my wedding day 'you do know you're punching above your weight don't you?'
- London - lived here long enough to know it's a great place, but not long enough to get sick of the tube (yet)
- Fridays - don't we all?
- The south bank - full of my kind of weirdos
- My camera
- Writing - must do more!!!
- A nice glass of red wine - especially when combined with numbers 1 and 3
I also have to award 7 other folks, so here they are - again in no particular order:
Friday, 1 May 2009
4hrs 32mins - second hottest London Marathon - 6000 people requiring medical assistance - position 4 thousand and something - which puts her in the top 12%
And she didn't stop once, ran all the way. I'm very proud indeed, and she's raised over £1700 so far as well for the sick kids.
Now if only people would stop asking me if I'm doing it next year....
Anyways, enough of the feel good stuff, and on to global pandemics.
You may be mistaken for thinking that face masks are the latest designer craze amongst the cool kids and Mexicans but no, we're all going to die apparently. Thank god the media's not overreacting or anything (that was sarcasm incidentally).
And I'm not entirely sure why everyone's buying masks anyway, given that they don't actually offer any protection whatsoever. But let's put this into some sort of perspective.
So far, there have been 13 deaths, 1 in the US and the rest in Mexico.
In the average year, 'normal' flu infects 5 million people worldwide, and kills 36,000 in the US alone, and between 250,000 and 500,000 worldwide. In fact I'd go as far to say that there's never been a better time to get flu; you sneeze now and you'll be carted happily off to hospital to get shot full of Tamiflu and monitored 24 hours a day until you're all better. I'd say your chances of survival look a hell of a lot better than the average year.
And let us not forget the last swine flu epidemic in the US in 1976. The strain closely resembled the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, and was considered to be that great a risk that terribly bad public service adverts were aired, and the powers that be decided to mass vaccinate everyone.
In the end, 1 person died of swine flu. However, 500 people contracted Guillain-Barre Syndrome from the vaccine, 25 of which later died. So in other words, the vaccine killed 25 times more people than the virus itself.
No one knows how far the current swine flu will spread, or how many people will be infected or die. But I'd say on the information we have so far, you're a lot more likely to win the lottery.
Anyways, here's a little ditty for you. I've never heard of the 'slap chop', but I'm sure my dad had something very similar when I was a kid.
Saturday, 25 April 2009
Thursday, 23 April 2009
I made Meatballs and spaghetti last night and it was pretty awesome even if I do say so myself.
I've been tasked with organising the godless hordes that will descend upon our house on Saturday from the four corners of the midlands. We've got 7 coming so far, with another 2 on Sunday. I hope they're either bringing beds or can sleep standing up.
Not sure what to do for breakfast for everyone on Sunday, I'll see if I can find Jesus' recipe for cod in breadcrumbs - he managed to feed 5000 with that one, so it should do the trick.
Anyways, we had the budget yesterday where the chancellor Alistair Darling (or comedy eyebrows man as he's more commonly known) did his usual trick of raising taxes and telling us that he got all the figures wrong last time, and we're a lot more screwed than he thought. He then tells us that there's no reason to panic, as this time next year we'll all be millionaires - so pretty much the same things he said last year. It all gets a bit complicated to follow, so I've listed the main points here for you:
- Cigarettes - price is going up - given that there's a looming problem with people living to a ripe old age and the government worrying about how they're going to pay for everyones pension, the smart thing would be to put the tax down. People would smoke more which means more tax overall, and die before getting their pension, it's win win!
- Alcohol - see above. (Is it just me, or does he seem to have it in for me?)
- Income tax - anyone earning more than £150,000 has to pay 5p more tax. Apparently this is going to plug the £93Squillion hole.
- Economy - The British economy will shrink this year by 3.5%. But next year it'll grow by 4256% and we'll all be driving Porsches.
- Petrol - Going up to £942 a gallon so we won't be able to afford to drive the Porches anywhere.
- Borrowing - National debt now has so many zeros after it that the calculator broke - but they're going to have a whip round at the weekend so that's alright then
And that's pretty much it. There was some other crap about tax credits and mortgages, but seeing as I have neither, I turned over to watch 'Deal or no Deal' instead
Tuesday, 21 April 2009
Friday, 17 April 2009
I've had a few deep breaths and cigarettes since then, so I'm feeling much calmer today.
And it's Friday - that mystical day of the week when nobody really gives a flying monkeys arse about work and stuff - and just looks forward to the 2 Utopian days we call the weekend. Bliss.
Saying that, I am actually doing sod all this weekend. No money until Monday, and it's rained solid for 2 days. I'll have to see what fun things I can do inside that are free. Suggestions on a postcard....
I also need to get writing. My 'living next door to god' story needs some working out. I'm hoping to get the first draft done sometime within the next week - then the hard work of editing, re-writing, editing, re-writing some more - you know the drill. Good job I enjoy this shiz.
In random news - the guys over at Pirate Bay have been sentenced to a year in Jail each. Those of you who don't know what the pirate bay is/does, where have you been for the last 5 years? Not that I'd ever download anything illegally of course - not ever. Honest. Moving swiftly on...
Facebook makes you thick and Twitter makes you a crim - The joys of modern networking...
Anyways here's a funny little film than explains it if you can't be arsed to read the article. And yes I know there's plenty who'll disagree with me on this, but I'm right so there:
Thursday, 16 April 2009
Those of you who don't know, and I don't know who of you don't know or know, or even care come to that, might be interested in knowing that the UK has more CCTV cameras per person than any other country in the world. You can also be held without charge by the police longer than in any other democratic country in the world - and there are a lot of those that aren't very nice to live in. We also have the largest DNA database - mostly populated with the DNA of innocent people who have not been convicted of any crime, and children.
Anyways, back to the point - a 69 year old Austrian tourist was out with his 15 year old son in my part of London, when he was stopped by police who deleted all the photos he'd taken of a bus-stop, as well as taking his passport number and hotel details. According to the officers, it's now illegal to take a picture of anything to do with transport in this country. Perhaps they should have a word with Google street-maps then.
This comes hot the heels of a new law that's just been passed which means you can be arrested for taking a picture of a policeman which gives a hint of sad irony to the following.
During the recent G20 protests, Ian Tomlinson who owned a newspaper stand and was merely passing by on his way home from work collapsed and died of a heart attack. Originally, the police claimed they'd had no dealings with him and where hampered by protesters when they tried to help him. The IPCC (internal affairs type people who investigate police misconduct) said that no CCTV cameras where in the area.
That is until this video was handed to the newspapers showing him being assaulted by a policeman to whom he had his back to (and had his hands in his pockets) just before he collapsed and died. Also handed in to the newspapers, photos of the scene with police controlled CCTV cameras pointing to the place where it happened. There's now a growing collection over at the guardian of the police beating up journalists, women, setting dogs on people etc...
And don't even get me started on arresting opposition politicians for no reason.
Sorry if this is somewhat of a political rant - but sometimes things just piss me off. There's things about my country I love, but there's a growing list of things I don't as we creep slowly but surely from a democracy to a police state. Orwell was right, he just got the year wrong.
Saturday, 11 April 2009
Sorry I've not written in sooo long, I've been particularly busy at work and all that 'real life' stuff that tends to get in the way.
So happy Easter everyone - not particularly religious myself, but nothing like a good excuse to eat chocolate and have a couple of days off work. It being a bank holiday, Mrs Block has had me wallpapering and clearing out the spare room. Does look pretty now though, so time well spent.
I've also been working on a new short(ish) story I'm thinking about sending off to a competition. If it doesn't win, which is statistically likely, I'll post it in installments here. It's broadly about a guy who looses his job/girlfriend etc.. and ends up living next door to a guy who thinks he's god. Hopefully it will make more sense than it sounds.
Anyways, it being Easter also means we get bombarded with shit TV. 50 channels of 'which-idiot-thought-this-would-make-good-TV?' so far, with the odd sprinkling of the worst of what Hollywood has to offer. Still, there's a Dr Who Easter special on tonight - with Michelle 'bionic woman' Ryan as the new assistant which might be good. Also, Dave (that's the name of the TV channel) have made 3 new episodes of Red Dwarf - one of the best things the BBC ever did in my humble opinion - apart from the last series which was pretty awful.
One of the worst things the BBC ever did is also running at the moment - 'My Life as an Animal'. This 'groundbreaking' show follows 8 volunteers as they live with animals. The last one had some guy living with pigs. This doesn't mean he invites a pig to stay with him at home for a week, oh no. Instead he goes and lives in a pig sty, with a bunch of pigs, 24 hours a day for 4 days, eating what they eat, 'talking' to them in grunts, sleeping with them etc... you get the picture.
Why would anyone want to do this? No bloody idea. Why would anyone want to watch this drivel? Sorry - can't help you there either. Nice to know that my £120 a year for TV licence is being spent well by the 12 year olds that make up the management team there. Well done guys, I can see now why you cut the budget for all the news programmes and generally interesting stuff in order to fund this. Nice one indeed.
Anyways, enough of my rants, here's a pretty picture to calm me down. I took this on holiday a couple of years ago. If anyone can guess the country, you'll get - er well, sod all really, but I'll give you a shout out and a well done.
And I promise to post more often. Honest. Whether you want me to or not - so there.
Tuesday, 3 March 2009
For those of you unfamiliar with this miracle in a box - it's sponge cake wrapped around ice-cream and jam. They used to sell them by the truck load back in the 80's but they stopped making them when demand dropped off. Now we're in a credit crunch, and everyone wants cheap and imaginative ways to eat sugar, they've started up again.
I'm pretty sure as a child you used to cook these. Apparently the sponge cake acts as an insulator and stops the ice cream from melting, however, I can't find a recipe anywhere that involves putting the whole thing in the oven, so I'm not sure if I made it up...
It is pretty amazing stuff though - well it was when I was a kid, the one I had yesterday tasted like carpet. I could never figure out as a child why they didn't use sponge cake more widely as an insulator. Surely if it can keep ice-cream frozen for 20 minutes in an oven, it would make a great fire retardant. We should all be putting it up instead of wall paper to fireproof our homes. In fact, I might give that a go this evening...
Anyways, it's Tuesday again, my least favourite day of the week. I cheered myself by applying for a new job this morning - anything beats the one I have.