Monday, December 31, 2007

Reading list 2007

I believe that if an idea is a good one, it's worth stealing. That being the case, I totally 'borrowed' Dinah's idea of keeping note of the books I've read throughout the year, and am listing them here for your pleasure and delight. Unlike Dinah, I did not manage to read 50 books this year; more troubling than that, though, is the fact that the vast majority of books I did read were graphic novels, which begs the question how could I have not read 50 books, because graphic novels are mainly pictures and pictures are easier to read than words because you just need to stare at them. I'm going to make a more concerted effort to alternate between graphic novels and prose next year, because even I'm a bit troubled by how unbalanced this list is. 

I'll be grading each book like a jaded English lit teacher as I go (with A+ being the highest grade, and F- being the lowest) and writing a very brief note on my thoughts about said books; where possible (which should be just about everything unless I get bored), I shall also provide links to Amazon.co.uk. Enough procrastinating - enjoy!

01. Invincible Ultimate Collection Vol. 2 - Quality superhero shenanigans: A
02. Strangers in Paradise Vol. 1 - Decent collection of long-running indie comic: B
03. Jimmy Corrigan - Beautifully illustrated, but I found it a bit emotionally detached: B
04. An Anthology of Graphic Fiction - Does exactly what it says on the tin: B
05. Dark Horse Book of Monsters - Diverting: B
06. Sidescrollers - Distinctive artwork and good fun in the Mallrats vein: A-
07. Absolute Dark Knight - For Dark Knight Returns: A+; for Dark Knight Strikes Back: D-
08. The Dog of the South - Starts brilliantly, drags a bit toward the end: B-
09. Luba: Three Daughters - A Gilbert Hernandez book, need I say more? A
10. World War Z - Awesome: A+
11. My Dead Girlfriend - A great little book by the guy who illustrated Seth's artwork on The OC: A 
12. Absolute DC: The New Frontier - The most beautifully drawn and written superhero story in decades: A+
13. The Superman Handbook - How to improve your life by following Superman's example: B
14. Tales from the Clerks - Kevin Smith's Clerks comics collected into one volume: B+
15. The Average American Male - The funniest book I've ever read: A+
16. Batman Black and White Vol. 3 - Great collection of short, black 'n white Batman stories: B
17. Star Trek: Mirror Universe - Glass Empires - Three stories, ENT, TOS, and TNG. The TOS one is brilliant, the others so-so: B-
18. Absolute Batman: The Long Halloween - Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale are geniuses: A+
19. You Don't Love Me Yet - A quirky love story: B
20. Rant - Chuck Palaniuk continues his slide into mediocrity: D-
21. Zodiac - Scared the tits off me: B-
22. Batman: Ego and Other Tails - Darwyn Cooke's early Batman work collected: B
23. The Complete Peanuts: 1961-1962 - Genius: A+
24. The Complete Peanuts: 1963-1964 - As above, and did I mention these are beautifully packaged books? A+
25. Girl Crazy - A quirky miniseries by Gilbert Hernandez: A-
26. Love and Rockets: Maggie the Mechanic - The earliest Locas stories: A+
27. Love and Rockets: Girl from Hoppers - Continuing the above: A+
28. Chance in Hell - A cracking original graphic novel by Gilbert Hernandez telling the story of a film that one of his post-Palomar characters stars in: A
29. Love and Rockets: Heartbreak Soup - The first collection of Palomar stories: A+
30. Love and Rockets: Human Diastrophism - Contains the stunning graphic novel from which the collection takes its title: A+
31. Shortcomings - An intriguing look at a guy with relationship issues: B+
32. Star Trek: Academy - Collision Course - The mighty Shatner's latest offering. Enjoyably far-fetched: B
33. Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil - An enjoyable and beautifully-illustrated Captain Marvel story by the creator of Bone: A
34. Invincible Ultimate Collection Vol. 3 - Still reading it, but based on the previous two volumes let's give it an: A

I do like the way that I'm ending the year by reading volume 3 of Invincible, when I began it with volume 2; there's something nicely cyclical about it.

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Right, that's me done - I'm taking the rest of the year off. Have a happy, healthy, and wonderful 2008 - I wish you all what you would wish for yourself!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

2007: The year in reviews

Blimey, it doesn't feel like five minutes since I was tapping out my reviews for 2006. Doesn't time fly when you're… y'know, bored and restless? Ha! Just kidding. Right, where was I? Oh yeah (adopts booming voice): THE BEST OF 2007!

Books!

03. World War Z by Max Brooks
This was one of those books that totally took me by surprise because I wasn't aware of what it was actually about (aside from a zombie war), and thus wasn't expecting too much of it. The basic concept is that it is the oral history of a zombie war, with various survivors telling their stories to an interviewer. This basically means that it's like an anthology of short stories with a common theme, but that doesn't do World War Z justice, because *every* story is utterly compelling, from a soldier's tale to the story of a family fleeing to the hills. Apparently they're going to make a movie of it, but I'm not quite sure how they'll accomplish this without taking away the main reason of why this book is so good; an anthology series like The Twilight Zone would work better, I think. Either way, if you like slightly scary, utterly brilliant zombie stories put this at the top of your reading list.

02. The Average American Male by Chad Kultgen
This is, without a doubt the funniest and most vile book I've ever read. It's about an unnamed narrator and his troubled love life; well, 'love life' is perhaps a little bit too twee - it's just about how he f**ks his way around L.A. but does everything in his power not to get dragged into a serious relationship. It's incredibly graphic, so if scenes of hardcore sexiness aren't your thing, give it a miss (or not, if you're feeling adventurous). If you're less delicate, though, give this a whirl because it's an extremely funny, easy read; I went through it in a weekend, and totally wanted to start reading it again - it's that good. I can't wait to see what Chad Kultgen writes next.


01. Love and Rockets (new compact editions) by Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez
OK, I know I harp on about Love and Rockets *all the time*, but these stories deserve every bit of praise that is directed at them. This year I've had the pleasure of throwing myself completely and utterly into the Los Bros Hernandez universe and there is absolutely no better place to be for anyone looking for the very best comic book tales in print. I've said it before and I'll say it again - these stories, Jaime's Locas tales and Gilbert's Palomar stories, are amazing. And because of these beautifully-packaged new compact editions I've now got the chance to collect every single Love and Rockets story from the start. This year I've read Jaime's Maggie the Mechanic and Girl from Hoppers, and Gilbert's Heartbreak Soup and Human Diastrophism, and I've got the next two, Perla la Loca and Beyond Palomar sitting beside my bed just waiting to be read early in the new year. Why are they so good? Engaging characters that age and grow as time passes, stunning storylines that literally leave you breathless, and simply gorgeous artwork. The end result is always nothing less than incredible.

(Honourable mentions go to My Dead Girlfriend which was beautifully drawn and highly entertaining; Sidescrollers which was just good fun; and Fantagraphics Books' ongoing Peanuts collections which continue to be some of the most beautiful books I've ever bought, and are full of Charles Schultz's classic comic strips)

Movies!

03. Into the Wild
Hated the first 20 minutes of this film, loved every single minute of it thereafter. An absolutely beautiful film. It's heartwrenching, but never dwells in melancholy, and despite the ending you come away feeling uplifted in some strange way; it's inspiring. There's amazing performances throughout, and Sean Penn directs wonderfully. This is a fitting tribute to Christopher McCandless, and deserving of many, many awards. Beautiful soundtrack by Eddie Vedder, too.




02. Transformers
Oh god, this was just awesome. I had every reason to despise this film - pretty much every other summer blockbuster had disappointed me, and I'm not a fan of Michael Bay films. Against all the odds, though, I *loved* Transformers. OK, there's no life-affirming message to it, it's simply a highly-entertaining action film that ticked all the right boxes. And it was funny, too; who'd a thunk-it? I watched it again on DVD on Christmas Day - it stands up to repeat viewings, and even Sparky Ma thought it was aces!




01. Zodiac
A brilliant, brilliant exploration of the Zodiac killer and the men who dedicated their lives to an ultimately futile attempt to bring him to justice. This is a long film, but it engages the viewer all the way through, drawing them into the mystery so that, eventually, you find yourself also trying to determine who the killer was rather than just watching events unfold on the screen. This also looked amazing - from the vintage studio logos at the beginning, to the level of detail in recreating the late 60s and early 70s. I'm a big fan of David Fincher films, and this is right up there among his best. The book scared the tits off me, though.


(Honourable mentions go to Sunshine, which I thought was a brilliant, intelligently-written science-fiction film, although no one else seems to agree with me; and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford which was a bleak and compelling epic Western that I loved so much I saw it twice)

TV shows!
03. Family Guy
Oh Family Guy, how I love you! When this show first started back in the late 90s I really didn't like it. I didn't think it was funny, and above all else, it wasn't The Simpsons. How times change; I now worship Family Guy as the hilariously vile smut-fest it truly is. From Peter's inane shenanigans week-after-week, to the odd-couple partnership of Stewie and Brian, and the surreal, often lengthy asides, Family Guy is without a doubt my favourite animated series. I can't wait for the Star Wars parody, Blue Harvest, to come out on DVD next month.



02. Boston Legal
 This show is genius. One moment it's intensely serious, the next Denny Crane is dressed as a pink flamingo or smoking a cigar in his ear. The second season began with a couple of minor new characters who, within about 12 episodes had all disappeared without trace and without explanation; I'd complain if this happened in any other series, but in Boston Legal no one gives two-hoots because the Spader-Shatner-Bergen trio is what this show is all about, and together they are incredible. This is one of those shows I could watch all day, and with the third season coming out on DVD soon, I probably will. Oh, and it has Betty White as a little old lady who commits murder then goes on a crime spree. Brilliant.



01. The OC
How could this not be the winner? You all know how much I love this show, and the fourth and final series was The OC at its very best. The first few episodes of the season were quite dark as they cleared up the fallout from Marissa's death at the end of Season Three (she did leave a bit of a smear on the road), but after that it was quality laughs and good times all the way, from Autumn Reeser's Taylor Townsend becoming a series regular, to hijinks with a "slutty alien," and even an alt-universe episode. And despite the fact that it ended way before its time, The OC actually came to a brilliant resolution; I think Star Trek: The Next Generation is the only other series I can think of that ended in such a complete way, tying up old storylines, and leaving the viewer with a sense of satisfaction that the story they had been watching for several years was actually done and dusted; in fact, it was done so well that I didn't sit there hankering after a theoretical fifth season or reunion movie while the credits rolled. We salute you, OC, and look forward to Josh Schwartz's Chuck and Gossip Girl!



(Honourable mentions go to Smallville, which is still good fun even when it is getting wrapped up in layers of its own continuity, but was perhaps most notable for the arrival of Green Arrow in a recurring role during the first half of Season Six that just *begs* for a spin-off series; and Battlestar Galactica which admittedly sagged a bit towards the end of the third season, but is still head and shoulders above all other sci-fi shows)

Gigs!
03. Satellite Party
Having arrived at the Mean Fiddler with relatively low expectations for this gig, I was absolutely blown away by how good Perry Farrell's new band were. This was a quality evening of awesome rock, with Satellite Party's new songs standing proud alongside the best of Jane's Addiction's back catalogue, and Perry proving once and for all that he is one of the best frontmen out there. It was a privilege to see him perform in such a small venue, and a memory I'll treasure for a long time.

02. Prince
How this man performed for hours on end every night for 21 nights I will never know, but he did, and it was absolutely awesome. An amazing stage designed like Prince's symbol (in the round, no less!), a simply brilliant band, and one of the best rock performers I've ever seen resulted in one of the best gigs I've ever been to. He played pretty much everything I could've wanted him to, culminating in a beautiful rendition of Purple Rain, and a raucous version of Guitar, a song that proves he's still an amazing songwriter (as if it were ever in doubt). If you didn't get to see Prince perform at the O2, do whatever you have to in order to make sure you see him next time he tours.

01. The Rolling Stones
Having seen the Stones in 2006, I wasn't expecting to see them in concert again for another few years. But then came the surprise announcement that the A Bigger Bang tour was rumbling back into London for three shows at the O2, which happily coincided with uber-Stones fan Sparky Ma's birthday. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: the Stones are an incredible sight to behold, and I will take every opportunity to see them that I can get. They are that good; in fact, they get better every time I see them. They explode onto the stage, larger than life and with more energy than many younger bands I've seen. And after about two years on tour even their newer songs have started taking on that brilliant road-worn sound that the classic hits like Satisfaction and Brown Sugar have been imbued with over the years. Two hours later, with a flamboyant bow from the premier showman Mick Jagger, they're gone. Still the best after all these years.

(honourable mentions go to Cold War Kids, who were great, and their support act, Patrick Watson, one of the best new bands I've seen and an immediate new musical obssession; The Wallbirds, who supported Elvis Perkins at the Borderline and, in my opinion were 10 times better; and the Decaydance Festival which with about five bands on the bill was simply outstanding value for money, and gave me my first chance to see the fantastic Panic! At the Disco in concert, if only for about 40 minutes though)

Other stuff!
The new iMac which is the most amazing computer I've ever used; the Mini Clubman, which looks great, and successfully banishes any doubts I may have had over the appearance of the new, new Mini; BBC 6Music, my new favourite radio station, and a decent reason to buy a digital radio; Apple's iPhone, which is like something sent back from the future, and is so awesome I want one *now*; Leader, the new song on Phantom Planet's Myspace page that heralds the launch of their new album in 2008; running, which continues to make me feel on top of the world after 30-odd minutes pounding the streets, and makes me wonder why I paid so much money to go to a gym for years on end…

And the losers…
This summer's 'three-quel' movies: Shrek the Third, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, and Spider-Man 3 - all were disappointing in their own ways, with the latter in particular being a bloated mockery of what made the first two films so enjoyable; Um, the summer itself - what happened there? I think we had about three nice days where I could get my legs out; Comics - I got so frustrated and bored with the way some of my favourite comic book characters were being used that I ditched loads of them off my standing order; petrol prices - yes, I know we're all supposed to be watching our carbon footprint and the government don't want us to drive *anywhere*, but the simple fact is that in some instances people actually need to use a car, and the motorist is continually treated like some sort of career criminal. I remember when petrol used to be about 75p a litre - now the average is 102.8p, and I'm fed up bending over for the money-grabbers in government.

Friday, December 28, 2007

I survived

I'm back! So, how the hell was everyone's Christmas? Mine was pretty good - lots of lovely presents (including my very first saucepan, courtesy of Yaz - I can cook packet soup!), with the only downside being the fact that my grandparents were ill and didn't feel like coming over for the day, so we ended up doing the first Christmas where it was just me, Simon, and Sparky Ma and Pa for, ooo, the best part of 10 years or so. Fun was had, nevertheless.

I've spent the days since (not that I know what day it is - every time someone tells me my general response is "what? Really?!") in a weird blur of Xboxing (Bioshock and Mass Effect, if you want to know), and zooming around the immediate countryside on various errands; I'm on Jude feeding duties as I was last year, and despite promises from Sweatband that he wouldn't be, he is actually being a bit gay and keeps showing me his pencil sharpener while standing on my groin. This is after I've disposed of his poo, and while I was trying to watch Futurama. Oh, and I made a badly misjudged attempt to hit the sales in Kingston; I actually parked OK, but the shops were freaking heaving with stupid people grabbing and purchasing anything that even resembled a bargain, even if it didn't fit or suit them. I saw a nice pair of shoes (proper shoes!) but simply couldn't be arsed to try them on because the shop was like a goddamned mosh pit. I might go back over the weekend, because they were a bargain at the princely sum of 30 of your English pounds. I also want to buy the Battlestar Galactica TV movie, Razor, and the Cold War Kids album. Isn't it shocking that we all get lots of awesome stuff for Christmas, then can't stop thinking about going out and buying MORE stuff? I'm such a whore.

I've just been to se I Am Legend at the cinema with Jo, her niece, and her niece's boyfriend. We were aiming for the showing at 18:40 (for which I skipped out on the offer of pancakes at Sparky Ma's), but that was sold out so we had to wait for the 21:10 showing. We spent the intervening hours in McDonalds, where we bought the cheapest things on the menu to justify sitting inside. It was like being 16 again, and that's not a good thing. Still, the film more than made up for it, and was quite enjoyable. Perhaps the only surprising thing was that the dog, named Sam, was actually a girl (short for Samantha), and Will Smith's kid in the flashback scenes, who I thought was a little boy, was actually also a girl. I expect the producers intended for the first words out of my mouth after the film to be something like "wow!" or "that was awesome!" and I expect they'd be a little disappointed that I actually said "there was lots of gender-confusion in that movie." Still, I expect I won't be so troubled if I see it again in the future (note to self: both the dog and the kid are ladies).

Must also apologise to Jo's niece and her boyfriend; evidently they live quite close to me, and must of thought I was some sort of stalker-weirdo after I tailed them in my car for about 10 minutes.

Anyway, did you all get nice presents or utter crap? Do tell!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Feeling Christmassy, I may be some time…

Right, all the cards are delivered, presents wrapped, Christmas lights are on and … Christmassy, and I've just been for huge pancakes with Jo (OK, admittedly we were mixing our holidays there, but pancakes are sooooo good and can be had at any time of the year): I'm ready for Christmas!

BRING IT!

I actually don't have much to say here, but I wanted to tip my Christmas hat in your direction and wish you all the best. In the meantime, here's my favourite Christmas youtube video to excite your eyes.




I'll be back towards the end of the week with these stunning delights to surprise and, um, delight you:

• My reading list for 2007!
• Some quality time with Jude! (Yes, we shall be reunited at last!!)
• My highlights of 2007!

Good times ahoy, people - May your Christmas be merry, you presents come with receipts, and your booze overflowing! Have a good one!!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Splish splash, I was takin' a bath

*Please note, this post will NOT feature any photographs or video clips*

OK, so I'll be honest with you: I've not been showering as much recently as I normally do. Whoa! Before you all turn your noses up in disgust and brand me stinky Tim or something, let me clarify - I've rediscovered the joys of a bath.

I used to enjoy a good long bath when I was a kid, but then when we got a shower for the first time it sort of fell out of favour. And by the time I was all growed up and there were four adults living under one roof, well, hot water became something of a precious commodity. But since becoming lord of my own manor anything goes. 

It was just after my birthday that I 'took the plunge' (ha ha, little joke there) because one of my old work colleagues gave me a bottle of bath oil that she'd made for me as a present and I thought it would be rude not to use it. So, one particularly chilly Sunday evening after a run I gave it a whirl. Good god! I know as a boy I shouldn't say something along the lines of "but it's soooo nice to pamper yourself every once in a while," but really, it actually is so nice to pamper yourself every once in a while. So, every Sunday post-run has kind of been bathtime, and since the oil ran out I've been dumping shower gel in the tub instead. Unfortunately, though, it doesn't froth up very well.

Which leads me to this week, where I stood in Sainsbury's with a trolley full of boy food carefully choosing which bubble bath to buy (I was going to go for the ocean spray one, but the jojoba one I bought just goes better with the décor of my bathroom). Shit, did I just say that? Anyway, there's a lot of choice these days; back when I was a kid it was Matey bubble bath or clear water; one or t'other. I was tempted by the Sainsbury's Basics bubble bath for all of about three seconds; it costs 38p for, like, two gallons, but it's pretty obvious that it's identical to the Sainbury's Basics detergent for dishes.

So, the other night I broke the Sunday rule and went for a Tuesday evening bath. Unfortunately, there were no instructions on the bubble bath about how much you should put in (seriously, the last time I had bubble bath I was about eight and Sparky Ma poured it in for me because she knew I'd probably drink it if left to my own devices); I wasn't about to call Sparky Ma and ask because she'd think I'm a retard, so how much is too much? A short, quick pour? A lengthy pour? Half of it? All of it? I didn't know, so I went for about as much as I thought I could conceivably get in my mouth (no, I didn't). It frothed up big style (in the tub, not my mouth). Pity I only had about 15 centimeters of water. Still, displacement is a wonderful thing.

Anyway, should I get some tubby toys? I used to have a blue plastic ocean liner that I bought on holiday in Wales years ago, but I think that got chucked out in the early 90s. What's hot to trot in the tubby toys department these days? Whatever it is, I intend on sinking it, fnar fnar!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Mix CD 2007!

Yes, it's that time of year again - that time where I fob off some of my friends with a CD of songs I've cobbled together and passed off as a Christmas present. Some might say that in these days of Christmas becoming increasingly commercial, I'm making the effort to take it back, to make it more personal; I would nod sagely to such comments, all the while thinking how awesome it is that Christmas cost me the price of a few blank CDs. 

*snigger*

Seriously, though, I like the fact that the mix CD gives me the opportunity to share some of my favourite songs, and other stuff I've enjoyed or discovered throughout the year, with my mates and anyone out there reading this. As with last year, I'll link to the relevant myspace pages, but I'll also whack up some youtube videos just for the hell of, and because I know that some of you will be *soooooooo* excited by all this that you'll want to check the songs out ASAP.

Right, in the words of the Chemical Brothers: here we go!

01. How Far We've Come by Matchbox Twenty
I got into Matchbox Twenty about eight or nine years ago, at the time that their lead singer, Rob Thomas, did the song Smooth with Santana. At that point they only had one album out, so I sort of slipped in at the right time, and in the years that followed I got to see them in concert three or four times (once with Jo, who to this day still talks about Rob Thomas swinging his arms around like a crazy), and they brought out a couple more albums. Then Rob Thomas went solo. To be honest, I considered this a bit of a bummer, because although his solo album had a few really good tracks on it, it paled in comparison to any of Matchbox Twenty's; it's kind of like when Mick Jagger does solo stuff - it can be good, but without the rest of the Stones there's something missing that you can't quite put your finger on. Anyway, he sort of went all Gwen Stefani after she did her solo thing away from No Doubt, and got all popular with singles that actually got into the chart, and I thought that was it for the band. 

But I was wrong because Matchbox Twenty are back, baby! OK, so their new album, Exile on Mainstream is a greatest hits album, but it does have six new tracks on, which is more than you'd usually get on this sort of thing. How Far We've Come is the lead-in, and in my opinion, the best. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it's one of their best tracks ever. It's just 100 percent jaunty-awesomeness. There's an infectious urgency to it; when they first put it up on their Myspace page I JUST KEPT LISTENING TO IT. It kind of just bursts into life, then flies into this brilliantly catchy chorus that almost demands to be sung along to, even if the lyrics are kind of dark if you really pay attention; I love it at about 1:20 in where they go "I sat down on the street/took a look at myself/said where you going man you know the world is headed for hell/say your goodbyes if you've got someone you can say goodbye to." All in all, then, a snappy, punchy return for a band that is criminally underrated on this side of the Atlantic, and I heartily recommend Exile on Mainstream as a place to start for Matchbox Twenty newbies.



02. Our Velocity by Maximo Park
2007 is the year I 'got' Maximo Park. I'd kind of liked some of their stuff before, but in a 'I like it on the radio, but not enough to go out and buy the album/see them in concert' way. But then they released this, the first single off their second album, and I went absolutely nuts for it. Within a couple of weeks I was fully Maximo'd up, with both albums a constant presence in the CD changer in my car. And after all this time, Our Velocity is still my favourite Maximo Park song. It's brilliant; it makes me want to jump around like a loon. I love the way it kicks off, I love the chorus, I love the way the separate strands of the song all come together toward the end, and love the way it just stops dead at the end. It just leaves you breathless, and it's quite honestly one of my very favourite songs of the year. Awesome stuff. On the downside, it's also featured in Project Gotham Racing 4 on the Xbox 360, and although it always makes me drive better and faster in the game, I have to be very careful when driving in the real-world now. Vroom vroom!

(I'm posting Maximo Park's performance of Our Velocity from the Reading Festival because I posted the actual video earlier in the year when I first wrote about my newly-developed obsession with them)



03. Eternal Life (Road Version) by Jeff Buckley
Jeff Buckley is one of my very favourite artists, and one that I'm saddened to say I only became aware of years after his untimely death. I love everything about Grace, the one and only album he released in his lifetime, including this version of Eternal Life, featured on the second disc of the Grace Legacy Edition, that he honed while on tour. It's a lot more powerful than the regular album version; faster, angrier, grittier. But amongst all the wailing guitars there's still that incredible voice that could do everything from the most beautiful ballads to full-on rock and yet always sound unbelievably brilliant.

(OK, I can't find a video for this song, and Sony BMG won't let you embed any of their Jeff Buckley videos from youtube *cough-bastards-cough*, so have the final scene of Season One of The OC with his version of Hallelujah playing over it.)



04. Knowitall by Phantom Planet
I don't think I can describe how much I love this band. Yes, I know one of their songs is the theme tune to one of my favourite TV shows, but I'm glad to say that I actually got into their stuff before The OC, because it means that my passion for their music isn't built on just one song. In fact, I first became aware of them after hearing the track Lonely Day on the Smallville soundtrack; I subsequently picked up their first album, then heard California on The OC and picked up their second album. They're a really interesting band, because all three of their albums have had brilliantly distinct sounds; the first was very much a pop record, the second rather laid-back and summery, and the third (which this is taken from) really quite dark and angry. Knowitall was the immediate stand-out track for me; it's sinister-sounding, and yet driven by an incredibly melodic, wailing chorus that almost demands you sing along to it. 
I got to see them play live back in 2005, and it remains one of the best gigs I've ever been to; hilariously, they kept the teenage audience members who were only aware of them because of The OC captive by playing the dark stuff from the third album first and leaving California until last - and they even made a point of saying that. Recently, I've been watching the videos on Phantom Planet's youtube page featuring some of the songs that'll be on their next album. It feels like I've been waiting forever for album number four, but if the snippets of songs I've heard turn out to be half as good as Knowitall it will have been well worth the wait. If you get the chance to see them live, take it.

(This video's kinda quiet, so I recommend you crank up the volume big-stylee)



05. West Coast by Coconut Records
Knowitall leads nicely into track number five, because Coconut Records is actually the actor Jason Schwartzman, who used to be in Phantom Planet. He left to focus on acting, and then unleashed a rather wonderful little album, Nighttiming, upon the internet this year. This track is my favourite off the album, and another of my favourite songs of the year. If I say this song was the soundtrack to my summer I'd be doing it a bit of an injustice because summer was pretty crappy this year, but I'd be lying if I didn't say that listening to this song had the miraculous effect of making me feel uplifted and amazing whatever the weather or my mood; it's the kind of song that begs to be used on the soundtrack of a critically-acclaimed low-budget, life-changing indie film. It certainly makes me want to take a long road-trip. 
And if you're not sucked in by the soaring chorus and the beautiful lyric "and we both go together if one falls down" (possibly my favourite single line from a song this year), Dr. Tim will be round later to check your pulse.



06. The Storm by Patrick Watson
This was a rather recent discovery for me, as regular readers will know. Long story short - saw this band (yes, they're a band, despite having both a first name and a surname) support the Cold War Kids, actually loved this band MORE than the CWK, bought their album, and am hoping they head back over here from their native Canada to tour again soon. It was a toss-up between The Storm and another of their tracks called The Great Escape (which I'm flagging up because it's just *beautiful* so you should check it out anyway), but The Storm won out because I love the quiet intensity of it. It sounds very low-fi; in fact, the album (Close to Paradise), I'm delighted to say, sounds a lot like they do live - it's almost like everything was caught on the first take. So yeah, this song starts quite quietly in a rather haunting, ethereal way, then builds until it hits this point at about 02:17 in where it sort of goes all techno-y, but in an acoustic fashion. Rustic techno, maybe? I don't know what to call it, but I like it. Very much.



07. Build God, Then We'll Talk by Panic! At the Disco
It's disgusting how much I love this band and their emo-esque, overly-wordy songs. Their album is fantastic, and they utterly rock live, despite the fact that I've only seen them play at the Decaydance Festival where they only got about 40 minutes on stage and I was still coming down after seeing The Rolling Stones the night before. I bought their album in January and still haven't taken it out of the car; it's lived in slot 5 of the CD changer since then, and I can't see that changing in the foreseeable future. 

Truth be told I literally could've just bought up copies of this album and given them out as the mix CD - that's how much I love it; unfortunately, that goes against the rules of the mix CD, so I've rolled my eyes in an emo-esque fashion, sighed like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders, and plumped for this - a live version of Build God, Then We'll Talk. I almost went for a live cover of Radiohead's Karma Police that they did, but figured at the last minute that It'd be a bit rude not to use one of their own songs. Anyway, why the live one? Well, I want to convey how amazing they are in concert. When I saw them they didn't have the flamboyant costumes and stage show that they'd used on their own tour, but this helped focus on the fact that Panic! At the Disco are just a goddamned good band. The lead singer has an incredible voice (admittedly when I saw them it did take a song or two to warm-up and really kick in), and they're one of those bands that I just think everyone should go see given the chance. I'm really rather excited at the prospect of their second album.

(Panic! At the Disco at this year's Reading Festival - now 97% emo-free!)



08. Wish Upon a Dog Star by Satellite Party
Although I rather like Jane's Addiction, I can't say I've ever been a big fan of Perry Farrell's solo stuff, so I was understandably a bit "meh" when I heard that he was forming a new band (even if it did have Nuno from Extreme in it), and a bit guilty when I convinced my brother to get tickets to go see them. And when it turned out that he couldn't give the spare away for love nor money, I reluctantly agreed to go along with him. Luckily, just a few days before the gig, I heard this, the first track off Satellite Party's album, and was immediately bowled over by it. It's very Jane's Addiction-y, very funky, and Perry works it well. And in concert he's one of those beguiling frontmen that sort of makes all your problems melt away as he draws you into the music. Although the Satellite Party album is good, I'm not convinced that there are many other songs on it of this calibre; still the fact that Wish Upon a Dog Star is on it more than justifies its existence.

(Holy crap - this is from the gig I was at!)



09. Given to Fly by Pearl Jam
Ah, here's an interesting one. This is the year that, finally, my brother broke me and got me to admit that Pearl Jam are pretty darn good. Although I felt like a bit of an outsider at the gig back in the summer, I'm slowly educating myself in the ways of these grunge survivors, helped along most recently by the utterly stunning soundtrack that lead singer Eddie Vedder has released as the soundtrack to the movie Into the Wild. My initial thought was that I was going to put Do the Evolution on here, which is very angry and shouty. Then I thought about putting something quiet and introspective off the Into the Wild soundtrack on. But I decided I'd look over some of Pearl Jam's over songs to find something somewhere in the middle-ground - which is how I came to Given to Fly. There were a couple of other songs that I almost plumped for, but I like this one for reasons I can't quite put my finger on. It starts quietly, then escalates in intensity to the point where, if I'm listening to it on my walk to Starbucks at lunchtime, I'm almost tempted to hold my arms out to either side, close my eyes, and bop along the street in a gentle one-person rock-out. It's one of those songs that inexplicably kind of makes you feel better about yourself and the world around you.



10. Never Get Old by David Bowie
I'm actually shocked at myself for not putting any David Bowie on last year's mix CD, whereas music snobs might be shocked at me for not picking something off Ziggy Stardust, but this song has a weird special meaning to me. It's off his most recent album, Reality (which is actually coming up for five years old), and it grabbed me from the off. I think, maybe, because I went through a period a few years back where I kind of felt that life was passing me by a bit, and there was nothing I could do about it, then this middle-aged singer who many claimed was past his prime came up with this song that screamed out pretty much everything I felt and I thought that was kinda cool. I remember reading an interview with Bowie at the time, where he was asked about getting older, and he said he was angry that he wouldn't be able to do what he does forever. A few months later I saw him perform a mammoth gig at Wembley Arena lasting almost three hours in which he belted out this song with such intensity and raw passion and utter defiance that you truly believed he never would get old. And to this day this remains one of my favourite Bowie tracks; it's a damned awesome song that I think is right up there with his classics.


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Right, that's ya lot for another year - I hope there was something in there that you liked…

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Curious

Despite the fact that I have a sticker on my letterbox that says 'no junk mail,' I continue to receive loads of junk mail every week. Usually it's just supermarket flyers and takeaway menus, but this week I got something altogether different.

An invite from the local church to attend their nativity play. 

Now look, I'm not in the slightest bit religious - in fact, I pretty much go the other way - but I was immediately intrigued by this invite. Well, I was immediately intrigued once I'd gotten past the overly religious diatribe about the true meaning of Christmas (it distracted me from writing the list of stuff I want this year), and how much god loves me (um, yeah, I'd believe that more if he'd actually bought me the Cat's Lair I really wanted back in the mid-80s). It was at that point that I looked at the actual invite itself. And do you know what? I'm sorely tempted to go just to see the special guest star.

Yes, that's right - the special guest star is Pepé the donkey. And some sheep. 

I don't know how many sheep there will be, exactly, or whether Pepé's role is a starring one or something more akin to a cameo, but what I do know is that I have seen Clerks II, so I'm fully aware what a donkey show is. 

What's really made me want to go, though, is that the flyer encourages us to "wear warm clothes and carry a lantern or torch."

Count me in!

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Another stupid thing that was sent to me this week came in the form of a text message from Orange:

"Hi from Orange. We've reviewed your phone usage and the great news is that you are already on the best plan, so there's nothing for you to do."

Um, OK; I wasn't planning on doing anything anyway. I was, however, sorely tempted to send them a message back revealing my imminent plans to buy an iPhone (exclusively on 02, folks!), but decided I really couldn't be arsed.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I'm ready for presents now

Annnnnnnnnnnd … Work is done and dusted for the year, and I am home and safely ensconced in Sparky Towers ready for Christmas. Bring. It. On.

The last few days have actually been quite a good laff. Come with me, as I take you back, back through the mists of time, back to a place that I like to call … the office…

(that wasn't actually that dramatic, was it?)

OK - engage bullet points!

• Work geniunely has been good this week. There's been no massive rush, maybe a teensy bit of a balls-up early on, but that was all resolved quickly and efficiently and no charges were pressed. I've spent the rest of the time chowing down on the tins of Celebrations chocolates that have been appearing around the office throughout the week, and frowning at a courier when he took one without asking. I'm nothing if not territorial, especially after knocking back more Galaxy truffles and Malteaser bites than I can count.

• Went to a wicked Christmas party. Truth be told, I'm not much of a party person, really (that is unless they're my parties, because I'm a raving egomaniac if nothing else), but this one was good. I actually turned up a little bit fashionably later than I'd intended to, mainly because some doofus at the tube station pushed in-line in front of me, and then proceeded to ask a *million* stupid questions about how to top up his Oyster card. I ended up using the self-service ticket machine, which I probably should've done in the first place.

Anyway, the party was awesome; I saw an old colleague from looooooong ago, who was on top HI-larious form, as well as some of my very favourite ladies, one of whom grapped me by the hips, while the other did her utmost to pimp me out (as she always tends to do at these sort of things). The upshot of all this, apparently, is that I am officially a) a "hottie", b) being fought over by at least two beauties, and c) meeting up with a bunch of them for lunch in the new year. I was thinking I might make them compete for my affections in an X-Factor stylee, but on second thoughts I might demand some mud wrestling. Rawr! Long story short, the black shirt/grey jumper combo is clearly a winter-winner. And warm.

Also bumped into my Nemesis, who was the picture of politeness to my face, although one of my new-found harem did tell me that he mouths of about me every now and then, probably because I'm a buff young hunk and he's not. On the plus side, there was absolutely no need for me to defend myself because she then went on to say that the general consensus is that he is "an arse." In related arse news, by all accounts I have a lovely one that nigh on demands a good Christmas squeeze, or at the very least a brief caress followed by a short, sharp intake of breath.  

• With work bits done and dusted I've taken things a bit easy today. And by 'taken things a bit easy' I actually mean something along the lines of 'set the alarm(s) for 06:30, got up at 09:20, trundled into work, tidied up some loose ends, then spent a lot of time on the internet.' My last task was my customary desk-clean; for some reason, every Christmas I literally remove any indication of my presence from the office; mugs come home with me, stuff in my drawers comes home with me. Hell, even office plant comes home with me! 

Office plant is an interesting one, actually. After inheriting it as a fit and healthy Peace Lily three years ago, I somehow ran it into the ground with a series of ill-advised attempts to aid its continued growth, including - but not limited to - watering it with coffee. By the time I'd finished with it, the poor thing had gone from 'Peace Lily' to 'Piece of shit,' resulting in me rushing it home E.R.-stylee to Sparky Ma a few years back. She actually took one look at it and suggested I chuck it in the bin, but I had faith in her healing skills, and over the course of several touch-and-go months she nursed it back from a brown twig with a single shriveled leaf to a vibrant, healthy, happy-go-lucky plant (despite accusations from certain colleagues that I actually had binned it and bought a doppelganger replacement). And lord knows how, but I've managed to continue her good work leading up to me noticing today that it's actually got a white flower unfurling on top, which came as a bit of a surprise because there sure as hell wasn't any sort of flower there yesterday. Now, I also didn't actually know it was a flowering plant, which leads me to suspect that it's actually a baby triffid preparing to have its revenge on me for almost killing it. That being the case, I'll be sleeping with the bedroom door firmly shut tonight.

•And the last thing I did before leaving the office this evening? A quality chat with my boss about what the new year will bring. Boss man is a terrific bloke who has an infectious passion for creativity and new ideas, and he told me nothing would make him happier than for me to work on a new project he's been thinking about. It's always nice to be asked, so what else could I say but yes? The new year is going to be nothing if not interesting…

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dressing up is fun!

I don't think a lot of people appreciate how much effort it takes being a dude. We're constantly confronted by images in the media of what we should look like and how we should dress, but we're still expected to get ready in about 30 seconds and look effortlessly awesome.

And although I am effortlessly awesome most of the time, planning is required for special occasions: advance planning.

And this is why I'm sitting here wondering what I'll be wearing tomorrow. Because tomorrow I'm going to a big splashy Christmas party in town, so I want to look my best. But because I won't be able to get home to get ready post-work, I need to go to work looking studly. Tragically, that also means I won't be able to take a dry-ice machine and some giant fans in order to make a dramatic slow-motion entrance. Damn!

So this morning I emailed Marcosy to discuss my fashion dilemma. We're both clothes whores, y'see, so I appreciate his advice, even if I do usually ignore it. Unfortunately, he basically told me to stop being a girl (the bitch). I think my suggestion that I was going to get home and try on lots of different clothes like a montage scene from a crappy rom-com where some heinous-looking girl gets ready for the prom and miraculously turns into Jessica Alba while twirling in front of the mirror pushed him over the edge. 

And so, on my own I'm whittling my choices down to the sexy black shirt I wore on my birthday, or the sexy gingham shirt I bought the other day. I'm thinking I'll be going for the black one, mainly because it'll give me an air of seductive mystery, but also because it's REALLY BLOODY COLD at the moment, and it'll go well with my sexy grey jumper with the deep v-neck; I think gingham and grey might be a tad over-powering together.

Either way, I might just have to take Marcosy's advice and wear some kind of plastic bib; I expect to encounter a lot of drunken people, and while I may faff about what to wear, I do know that vomit is an absolute no-no this season.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Choose your own adventure: Tuesday edition

Hey-ho! We've not done a choose your own adventure thingy for *ages*, so - always one to bleed a reasonably lame idea until it's utterly, utterly dead - I thought we'd do one today!

Hooray!

You know the drill people - fill in the missing words by pasting the whole lot into the comments section. Anything goes, and you know I love it when you're dirty. Rawr!

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I woke up a bit later than I'd planned this morning, I suspect because I was up late the night before finishing off some [1]. Upon leaving the house, though, I found myself overcome by the [2] - it came as a bit of a surprise, and I was glad to get in the car and on my way! 

Work itself has been pretty good the last few days, helped, I think, by the fact that I'm totally getting in the [3] mood now that it's looming on the horizon. I think draping [4] around the [5] helped, because that always makes it look [6]. We've also had some [7] in the office, which I can't stop helping myself to every time I walk past them. One is never enough!

Stupidly, I left work late, which means I've only just had [8]. It was pretty rank, actually; for some reason I'd bought some mint-flavoured [9], which I knew I didn't like so I don't know why I bought them again in the first place. I'm going to chill out for a while, then force myself to pull on my [10] and head out for a [11]. Yes, it's still cold out there, but I figure I could use the exercise after all those [12] in the office, and it will certainly warm me up a bit. 

After that, I think I'll jump in the [13], then into bed to [14] my [15]. Good times!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Ask Tim!

OK! So, after an overwhelming* response to my request for questions, I thought I'd better damn well pull my finger out and post some bloomin' answers before you lot went kerrrrazy waiting.

Strap yourselves in peeps - here we go!

• The world-famous Willowc took time out from training to be a ninja assassin to ask this little gem:

"What's your most interesting mishap, by which I mean broken bones, bruises, sprains, or other numptyings?"

Hmmm, that's a good one!  Two incidents immediately come to mind**. Incident the first occurred while holidaying in Cornwall many, many years ago with the family. I must've been about eight or nine, and for some reason my brother and I were creating something out of rocks on the beach; I'd like to say we were helping build a new and revolutionary form of sea defense for the Cornish coast, but its quite possible we were just being boys and moving rocks around. Either way, Simon dropped a massive one on my left foot, leading to the toe nail turning black and eventually dropping off. I later took it into school for show-and-tell. Oh, and good news: a new one grew in its place - is that normal, or am I some kind of freaky X-Men-type mutant?

Incident the second also involved my left foot (the real thing, not the Daniel Day Lewis movie), and took place just a year or so after the toe nail incident. After a heavy snowfall, Sparky Pa, Simon, and I went tobogganing on the toboggan Sparky Pa built. For some reason we decided that it would be a genius idea to all get on it together and shoot down Box hill. Box hill is, I should add, rather steep, and has lots of bumps at the bottom.

Halfway down the hill, my left foot slipped off, and got caught under the sled. In response, I began screaming like I'd never screamed before; Sparky Pa and Simon were unaware of what had taken place, and merely thought I was having the time of my life. 

I couldn't walk on it for a week, and when we went to the hospital on the following Friday evening they wouldn't x-ray it because the x-ray department was closed at weekends. The ankle still clicks when I walk now.

And this just in! I banged my arse on the edge of a bookshelf in the office yesterday and now I have a massive bruise. Is that a health and safety issue?

• Delightful Dinah from far-off Canadialand took time out of holding back the forces of evil with the power of her mind, feeding the third world, and nursing a baby polar bear back to health to ask:

"What's one toy/game/item from your childhood that you would totally play with now if you had one?"

Hmmm… That's easy! My grandparents' Atari 2600 (which they still have, so I actually could still play it!), which was awesome - I could totally play Combat forever. I think it was the only video games console with real wood trim - classy!

• Terrific Tara from Americaland somehow managed to find a few spare minutes in her busy schedule where she wasn't off filming a new blockbuster movie with David 'The Hoff' Hasselhoff, or searching for a cure to the common cold to ask this: 

"Didn't you redo your bathroom a while back? Do a video scan of your sparkly bathroom."

Well, hell yes, I did indeed decorate my bathroom, Tara! Sparkly is probably the wrong word, though, as it does actually need a bit of a clean - but it's amazing what a low-resolution mobile phone camera won't pick-up in this day and age! Over to my sexy video assistant in the field!

video

I hope you enjoyed that, Tara - now back to the lab with you - that common cold ain't gonna cure itself!

Inexplicable Device, from a dingy bedsit on the wrong side of the North/South divide, stopped 'angling for business' on a street corner just long enough to pitch in. He has a lot of voices in his head, so actually ended up asking far more questions than everyone else. Combined.

First up:

"What is your favourite Star Trek (any series) episode, and why?"

Ooo, good question, and surprisingly not as difficult as you might imagine: I *love* 'Operation: Annihilate!' from the original series. There are several reasons why this episode ranks as my favourite; first and foremost, the original series has, is, and always will be my favourite Star Trek series. It's the one I was introduced to first, and you just can't beat the original cast. 'Operation: Annihilate!' is the first episode I remember seeing - I vividly recall the scene where the neural parasite swoops down and lands on Spock's back. It was scary, dramatic, and exciting, and I was hooked. I think it's a fine, underrated tale. And it's the only TOS episode with an exclamation mark in the title, which is deserving of kudos on its own.

But… I also love the Deep Space Nine episode 'Trials and Tribble-ations,' which celebrated Star Trek's 30th anniversary in 1996 by splicing the DS9 characters into the 1967 TOS episode 'The Trouble with Tribbles.' To be honest, I think this is the finest hour of Trek ever made; it combines everything the franchise stands for - humour, excitement, an engaging story, and adventure - into one episode, and puts a new spin on a familiar, classic story. It might be over 10 years old now, but I still think it's an amazing achievement.

So yeah, those are my favourites - 'Trials and Tribble-ations' is the best, but 'Operation: Annihilate!' is special to me.

Next!

"Relate an hilarious/disgusting food-based incident."

Hmmm… now, I'm actually going to combine this with IDV's third question, which is:

"Recount an amusing/horrific party incident."

Now, I'm not stupid***. I know IDV is just sitting there hoping I've got a story about a food fight in the same way that I might flick over to E4 in the hope that they might finally have bought the rights to the World-Wide Ladies Jelly Wrestling Federation, but sadly for him I'm going to disappoint.

I will however, share with you how, back in the days when I drank, I got so utterly wasted on Guinness at an 18th birthday party that I spilt a pint onto the vinyl (i.e. non-absorbent) seat on which I was sitting, but was too off my face to even worry about getting up, and thus spent a good portion of the party sitting in a massive pool of the black stuff.

How's that?

And finally:

"What kind of pants are you wearing?"

Trust IDV to ask this. While his request for a video-based response is quietly being ignored, I will share this:

On the day that he asked the question, I was wearing a pair of Ginch Gonch Big Bang briefs. And today? Calvin Klein Pro-Stretch trunks, baby! 

This is how I rock - this is how I roll!!


*And by 'overwhelming' I actually mean 'underwhelming'!

**Actually, they didn't. I wrote a whole other paragraph saying how I'd been quite lucky in not sustaining any silly injuries, then I remembered some. Does dementia count?

***See, appearances CAN be deceptive.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Wet

During a bit of email bantering with Marcosy this morning, he made a joke - for a number of reasons I shan't go into, although they did have something to do with a lady - that I should carry a spare pair of trousers with me.

Never a truer word was said in jest.

Because while walking back to the office at lunchtime the heavens opened and I got *soaked*. Now, despite Britland's reputation for crappy, miserable weather, it's been about 15 years since I last got drenched while out and about; usually it's just rubbish rain that gently mists your face and might make your hair go frizzy, if you're prone to frizzy hair. This was something else entirely, so much so that I took refuge under a pub awning; not, however, before the bastard had got me well and good.

And two minutes later it was all blue sky and sunshine again, and I was the right spanner going back to work looking for all the world like I'd spent my lunchtime splashing about in the pond in Ravenscourt Park like a damp special. I was so damp, in fact, that I seriously considered dropping trou in the office, popping them on a radiator to dry, and spending the afternoon at my desk in my pants*. I decided against it, though, because (and not wanting to preempt one of IDV's 'Ask Tim'** questions) I favour the more snug-fitting type of undercrackers (I like my bits to be supported; you never know when you might find yourself on a trampoline in your pants, and I'd hate to have someone's eye out), and I didn't want to distract anyone with the occasional outline of me ol' fella, if ya know what I mean.

It's also worth noting that I went to the cinema after work and didn't get home till after nine, and my socks were still wet. Wet socks do not smell good.

Auxiliary trousers pending.


* And, for my American friends, by 'pants' I actually mean 'underwear.'

** Please continue to send in your 'Ask Tim' questions as described in the post below. And by 'continue' I mean 'actually send some' because only Tara and IDV have done so, which would make a pretty pathetic post, and I'm supposed to have at least eight if I follow the taggy thing format. Willowc, in particular, I'm disappointed by your lack of response bearing in mind that you tainted me with this thing in the first place.

Monday, December 03, 2007

You smell of wee

Ugh, what a traumatic start to the day. Well, actually, it wasn't so much the start as the middle, but there are somethings that can really mess your day up. And by 'day' I actually mean 'lunchtime.'

My haven was violated.

After four days off work I wasn't exactly in that post-holiday grump that sometimes hits after time off, but nor was I in the "yay, work!" frame of mind, either. That being the case I was especially looking forward to my lunchtime coffee, which was delayed just a little by a trip to the bank, where I queued behind three blind people who were holding on to each other's shoulders like they were doing a dance routine from the sixties, M&S, and Boots the Chemist (don't worry, nothing a cream won't clear up! Ha ha, just kidding. Seriously). After that it was on to Secret Starbucks, where upon crossing the threshold and readying my trademark salute to the barista - ohmygod! - I was assaulted by the overwhelming smell of urine! Trust me, friends, Secret Starbucks does not usually smell of wee. I quickly noticed who was responsible - some filthy hobo seated in one of the plush chairs, opposite some kind of social worker blokey who was filling in reams and reams of paper work. 

Now look, don't get me wrong, I'm all for helping the homeless (usually to another town where I can't see them - LOL!), but did they have to do it in Starbucks? Couldn't they have gone to Costa instead? What was even worse was that I had to actually queue beside smelly man, which put me right off asking for a fudge brownie, let me tell you. I got my coffee and retreated to the other end of the store, beside the toilet, where I couldn't smell piss and homelessness. Every now and then, though, I did check to see if he was headed towards the toilet, but as I watched him tongue the last of the foam from his latte in a fashion that reminded me of how I'd go at Autumn Reeser given half the chance, I reminded myself that no, that was probably the last thing he needed; apparently he'd already done it on the plush seat.

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Right, the delightful Willowc has tagged me with a … taggy thing. Thing is, it says I need to come up with eight random facts about me, which is the kind of thing I'm rubbish at; I think we all know I like Star Trek. That being the case, I'm going to subvert this little thing, and throw it open to you, my adoring reader. Um, readers. Nothing too perverted or personal, mind, although you do have the option of requesting a text or video-based response. Bear in mind, though, that any video-based responses need to be short and snappy, people, short and snappy! It takes an age to upload videos, so if anyone comes along expecting something like War and Peace you're more likely to find that I'll hunt you down and bitch-slap you.

You have till, what, Thursday? Yeah, Thursday.

And don't even think about asking me to flash my arse.