Monday, March 31, 2008

Hair update 04: impromptu edition!

OK, so because of time limitations, I've not gotten round to doing the Indiana Jones pic. Would you be mad if I did it another week? At the very least that'll give me a chance to flex my photoshop muscles and give you something truly awe-inspiring instead of something that's slapped together like a kebab in that dodgy-looking van you know you really shouldn't stop off at while you're staggering home from the pub drunk. Again.

While you're pondering whether there should've been more commas or full stops in that last sentence, here's this week's wonderful, spur-of-the-moment photo.

To be honest, I'm quite glad I've not had the chance to do anything else, because quite frankly my hair's been awesome today. I'm rather pleased to announce the return of my sexy little flick-ups at the back (note how I'm pointing at them for you), and I'm going for the beardy look once again because I bought eight new razor blades the other day and they cost me just over 14 quid, so lord knows I'm going to make them last as long as I can. And if that means not actually using them, then by gum, I'm not actually going to use them!

As a matter of fact, I was supposed to do a run with Sweatband tonight, but she bailed because she's sick. If we'd done it, today's pic would actually have been post-run sweat-tastic rather than Indiana Jones-style or just plain suave. Maybe we'll get to that in a few weeks if there's enough demand. 


Talking of runs, I did a crappy one last night. Look at the current graph. See where it dips? That's where I actually had to stop running because my legs were aching, and I had to walk for a few minutes. Rubbish. It didn't help that Spring has suddenly sprung and I was roasting my tits off in a fleece. Bah. You can bet your bottom dollar I'll go out in t-shirt and shorts next time and it'll snow. 


I've come to the decision today that I'm very particular about the brand of porridge I eat. I've been on a bit of a porridge kick, y'see, and have been downing a bowl for lunch each day; it's cheap, very filling, empowers me with slow release energy throughout the latter part of the day, and keeps me regular. Am I alone in saying that there's nothing quite as satisfying as a big poo? Anyway, I couldn't get my regular Oats-so-Simple the other day, so I had to buy Scotts Oats, and quite frankly it's like eating a bowl of glue. 

Fortunately, I had the last of it today, so I'll be hitting Sainsbury's for some of the good stuff tomorrow.


Right, I'm off to watch Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade which I taped last night. Purely for, um, research purposes for next week's update, you understand!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Tellybox catchup

I've been catching up on some telly over the last few days - old favourites and some interesting new shows. I'm finding that a lot of shows I enjoy aren't coming back with particularly strong episodes at the moment– My Name is Earl returned for its third season and was, well, OK (though I hope it will pick up in the coming weeks), while Supernatural hasn't exactly been firing on all cylinders this season (though it's always enjoyable at the very least). Oh, and don't get me started on the craptacular Bionic Woman. I wonder whether the now-ended writer's strike had anything to do with the lack of quality? Were producers rushing scripts through before the strike began last year?

Anyway, there have been a few new shows that have grabbed my attention recently. Let's review!

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

A show that I always want to call Derminator: Da Saiwa Konner Kwhronikals in an Arnie-stylee. This was a show that I thought would most probably suck monkey balls, but it's actually turned out to be an enjoyable, if relentlessy-grim series (seriously, I can't ever see them doing a Buffy-style musical episode, or something with a little humour). It's got some woman who is not Linda Hamilton starring as Sarah Connor (damn! there goes any hope of reigniting my childhood crush), some dude who appeared in Heroes for a while as John Connor (who is inexplicably now a tad emo), and the slightly-special looking gal from Firefly as a sexy lady Terminator. There are also a variety of guest star Terminators who all look a little bit like Arnie, but are not actually Arnie. Oh, and it sometimes looks a little bit like it was shot on a shoestring budget, which probably helps them afford to do intense visual effects when they need to (like the one I just watched that had flashbacks, um, maybe flash-forwards, to the future).

OK, so the first episode screws around with Terminator continuity a bit, but that actually helps the writers side-step the events of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines which we'll let them off for. Weirdly, I sometimes find that I don't actually look forward to watching this show, but when it begins I find myself thoroughly enjoying it. And bearing in mind the first season is only nine episodes long and it's still up in the air as to whether it'll get a second season, I suppose I should enjoy it while I can.

Oh, and it's nice to see that T'Pol's wig is still getting work.

Cheer up, emo!

Gossip Girl

OK, so I've actually only seen the pilot episode of this, so it's possible I might change my opinion of it in the future, but I'm kinda not liking Gossip Girl that much. Which is a surprise, as it's being overseen by the producers of The OC, one of my all-time favourite shows. I think my problems with it (thus far) stem from one main source:

Spoilt posh rich people are hard to sympathise with. And yes, I know there's a not-so-well-off family who are supposed to be our guide into the debauched world of the rich, but they live in an awesome apartment and the dad runs an art gallery while also fronting a band, so I hate them for that. At least in The OC Ryan had had a pretty shitty life, and the Cohens were slightly kooky outsiders in Newport.

If Gossip Girl is just going to be all about rich people having expensive parties and wearing nice clothes, I think I might have to stop watching it. Admittedly The OC started out all serious like this (and I almost stopped watching that after the first two episodes), so I'm going to give Gossip Girl a couple of weeks to see how it develops*. I can't see any of the main characters ending up writing comic books, though. 

I am troubled, though, by the fact that one of the girls (Blair?) looks uncomfortably like a slightly uglier version of Summer from The OC, and the first episode ended with the slightly poorer kid decking someone in a Ryan Atwood-stylee.

Anyway, even if things don't work out for me and Gossip Girl, I've always got Josh Schwartz's other new show to fall back on: Chuck starts on April 7th, and that looks a bit more like my sorta thang.

Set expectations to 'raised.'

*My patented three episode trial period - like I did with Jericho. Although I stopped watching that after two episodes because it was badly acted and shitty.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Hair update 03: Wolverine edition

Without further, or indeed any, ado:

Good grief. This isn't getting ridiculous at all. Next.

Emos - fall back!

It's a bank holiday, and I was up just after nine this morning. Why? Because I'd planned it that way, people. Today, y'see, is the day that the new Panic at the Disco album comes out, and we all know how much I love Panic at the Disco.

So I was in Kingston by 9:50, at which point the sky turned grey and it snowed on me. SNOW! At the end of March?! What merry hell is this?! I was almost compelled to run through the streets yelling "Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas to one and all!" in a cockney accent, but wisely decided against it. 

After a quick coffee, I headed to HMV where I nabbed a copy of Pretty. Odd. off the shelf. And by nabbed I don't mean stole. In fact, I had a curious moment while paying for it; I had been listening to music on my iPhone, and the dude at the till recognised that I had an iPhone by the little mic attachment on the headphone cable.

"Good, innit?" He said while I handed over the cash.

"Yeah," I replied. "You got one?"

"Yeah, got it the day it came out," he said.

We bantered a little bit more, bonding over iPhones before I realised I was holding up the queue, so I decided to head off. "See ya later," we both said, like we were going to meet up later and continue chatting about the über-phone. Which we are not.

After a picking up a few more bits in some other shops (again, by 'picking up' I do not mean I shoplifted them) I headed back to the car, where I slipped Pretty. Odd. into the stereo, listening to it on the way home, then listening to it again when I got home. In fact, my iTunes tells me I've listened to it four times now, so I figure I'm Pretty. Well. (ha, like what I did there?) placed to give my opinion on it.

And I can totally see why Panic at the Disco dropped the exclamation mark from their name. This album is a lot different to their debut - less frantic, and dare I say it, less immediate too.

But I don't think that's a bad thing at all. In fact, I think it's incredibly brave of them to do what amounts to a handbrake turn in style, because this is a lot different to what they've done before, and I think it's a real grower that will reward multiple listens. Their musicianship has improved vastly, and they've ditched their emo-trappings for a sound that pays homage to everything from bluegrass, to Sgt. Peppers, to mid-seventies rock like you'd hear in Smokey and the Bandit. They could've whacked a sticker on the CD case saying 'Panic at the Disco: now 100% emo free!'

I like it. A lot. But I think there might be a fair few Panic fans out there who were hoping for a literal rerun of A Fever You Can't Sweat Out, and they're going to be scrunching up their little emo faces in shock and self-harming in response to what they're getting here. I think Pretty. Odd. might just lose Panic as many fans as it makes them new ones. It's going to be interesting to see exactly how this album is received…

Sunday, March 23, 2008

"They're digging in the wrong place!"

For what seems like the first time in ages, I took today as a lazy day. I've literally done *nothing* of any real interest. I'd intended to do a couple of exciting things this Easter weekend, including clean the bathroom (couldn't be arsed), and get out on my bike for the first time since last September (too cold, maybe next weekend). Hell, I've not even left the house today!

Instead, I finished reading the book that I seem to have been reading since mid-January, and I watched Raiders of the Lost Ark, which I recorded off the telly last weekend.

I've not seen this film in what feels like forever, and after seeing the trailer for this year's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, I've been a bit gee'd up about rewatching the first three Indy movies. I should also say that Raiders holds a dear place in my heart.

Years ago, back in the mid 80s or thereabouts, I'd spend every Friday of the school summer holidays over at my grandparent's house. Sparky Ma would wake me and Big Bro up at a ridiculously early time, somehow get us out of bed, get us washed, and dressed, then get us on the bus to our grandparent's house, where Simon and I would watch Wacaday and bemoan the fact that they insisted on cutting half hour episodes of the Transformers cartoon into five minute segments that they'd show each day throughout the week. Anyway, by the time Wacaday finished at about 9:30, Big Bro and I were at a bit of a loss as to what to do, because all our toys were back at home. So, each week we would raid our grandparent's video library. 

As you'd expect, two kids under the age of 10 don't necessarily have quite the same taste in movies as their grandparents, so among the war movies, Clint Eastwood films, and John Wayne collection, we had but one choice: Raiders of the Lost Ark. And this wasn't even a proper VHS - it had been taped off the TV, and came complete with adverts interspersed throughout.

But every Friday, Simon and I would sit there, watching as Marion got herself kidnapped in Cairo, laugh as the naughty little monkey did a Nazi salute, then go "awwww" when it ate the bad date and died, shout along with Indy and Sallah (the dude with the axe in Lord of the Rings) as they gleefully discovered that the Germans were digging in the wrong place, and cheered as Indy once again foiled the Nazi's plans to get their grubby little mits on the Ark of the Covenant. We watched it so often that by the time we started back at school in September we could literally recite the dialogue word-for-word (including the ads).

And today it was every bit as good as I remembered it being; maybe even better, because I actually did reach a saturation point after a few years at after which I refused to watch Raiders ever again. I think this was the first time in at least 15 years that I've seen it. Even better is the fact that I've just recorded Temple of Doom* and I expect Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade will be on next week. This is working very well as a primer for Crystal Skull which comes out in May - let's hope it lives up to the standard of the originals, eh?

*I still can't take the title of this movie seriously since I saw an interview with Josh Hartnett where he said the name of his favourite porn movie was In Diana Jones and the Temple of Poon. I've had a lot of respect for him since then.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Jeebus phone plus one month

I've had my iPhone one month today, so I thought it was an appropriate time to look back at how we're getting along together, and whether I think this relationship is going to last (ignoring the fact that I'm tied into an 18 month contract).

OK… so let's do this in a 'good iPhone/bad iPhone' way. First up: THE BAD!

So as everyone knows this is Apple's first stab at a mobile phone. But that shouldn't be an excuse for any potential balls-up, because they had the established competition to look at, and look they undoubtedly did. That being the case, while there aren't what I consider to be any massive mistakes or missing features in the iPhone, there are a few … well, oddities. Let's review:

• Vibrate - I tend to leave my phone on vibrate all the time, because I get annoyed by loud ringtones, but the vibrate function on the iPhone is very quiet. Almost like it's afraid to alert you to the fact that there's a call or text coming in. I genuinely can't feel it if I've got it in a pocket, so I might have to relent and go for a ringtone.

• Case. So I spent my hard-earned cash on this beautiful phone, but to protect if from knocks and bangs I felt compelled to buy a hard case to put it in. Downer. I'm not too terribly worried about ruining the appearance of the iPhone by hiding it in a dull plastic case, but it's annoying that very few of the available cases provide easy access to the dock. The one I bought proved so difficult to squeeze the phone into that I've not dare take it out since the day I bought it, leaving the dock gathering dust on my desktop while I make do with the connecting cable trailing across the desk for syncing purposes. I can't help but think that Apple's missing a trick in not designing their own cases in their own inimitable elegant style. In the meantime, I'm thinking I might have to replace my existing case with one of the new Incase Sliders, which would appear to fit my requirements, but sadly don't seem to be available in Britland just yet…

• Notes. Not one of my complaints, but one that Scanner at work mentioned he found annoying. You can write notes on your iPhone, but unlike Mail, iTunes, iCal, Address Book, and iPhoto, they don't sync back to your computer when you connect your iPhone. This doesn't actually bother me, but I can see that it might be a pain for some people.

• Video. Another one that's not a biggy for me: the iPhone lacks a video camera. Meh. I think I read somewhere that it actually has the capability to record footage, but Apple just hasn't activated it in a software update yet. 

• Cut and paste. Yeah, you can't cut and paste text yet. A bit of a bugger if you want to copy some text and slap it in an email, but again, not a problem I personally have found myself damning iPhone for so far. I'm sure it'll come in a future update, anyway.

Um… so that's about it for the complaints. Will the good stuff outweigh the niggles?

Oh yeah.

• Gorgeous. That's how I described the iPhone from the first moment I used it, and it's a word that still sticks now. I'm still amazed at how incredible it is to use even after a month of using it. The touchscreen interface is just a joy to use - easy, intuitive, and slick. It really is like something sent back from the future, and instantly dates everything else I've ever used. No word of a lie - this is the finest piece of technology I've ever had the pleasure of using (yes, it's actually a pleasure to use it).

• Easy syncing. From the initial setup process to my daily sync of email, photos, and contacts, iPhone does it all without a quibble. It's best friends with my computer, something that can't be said of any mobile phone I've previously used. They might even be secret lovers. Rawr!

• Typing. The iPhone is literally a mind-reader. Say you're typing a text or email, and you've got massive sausage fingers that hit all the wrong keys on the virtual keyboard: not a problem - iPhone works out (faultlessly) what you want to say. It's so good that I've found myself writing an email on my computer, just pounding away at the keys and expecting it to self-correct all my mistakes for me (hopefully it's something that Apple will port over to their Mac Mail App at some point). Genius.

• Web and mail. Being able to check my email at any time has been a real boon, as has the ability to check the news, reply to blog comments, and, in fact, look at any webpage on the go. A lot of people have complained about iPhone being slow while hooking up to the internet on GPRS, but I can't say I've had reason to moan about it; it seems reasonably fast, so long as you're not looking at an intensely graphics-heavy site. So fast, in fact, that I couldn't see myself instantly swapping my current iPhone for the rumoured 3G version when it appears at some point this year. Similarly, I've found myself almost always within easy reach of the ever-so-slightly-faster EDGE network.

• Impending Apps. In a few short months, Apple will unleash the iPhone Apps store upon the world - at which point there will be hundreds - maybe thousands - of new applications (including games) available for the platform. Three words: Super Monkey Ball.

I kid you not.

• Software. The real beauty of the iPhone is that it's a growing, evolving platform. New software, bug fixes (if needed), and enhancements can be downloaded straight to the phone from iTunes. So the iPhone you might buy now has a number of enhancements over the iPhone you would've bought last year. And because the iPhone's interface isn't tied to a rigid screen and numerical keyboard like the vast majority of other mobile phones, it can theoretically change in any number of unexpected ways in the future.

So, um, I really could whittle on about this for hours (seriously, if you ever meet me, don't start me off on a conversation about how good the iPhone is - you won't get a word in edgeways). Of course, there will always be people who don't want an iPhone, or who don't like them, which is fine, and I'll quite honestly say it's not the right phone for everyone (the tariffs are a tad expensive, if I'm being truthful). But I love mine, and I'm glad I bought it.

And despite what you might think after reading this post I am neither a) on Apple's payroll, or b) Steve Jobs' bitch.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The working life

I got my first job when I was 17. It was helping out at a playscheme that was run at my school during the summer holidays. You'd think that the desire to get away from school would outweigh the desire to actually work there for two weeks for a paltry £20 per week wage, but it was fun and I'm pretty much a whore when any amount of money is dangled in front of my eyes. And anyway, it was fun because as a group helper I basically just got to be the cool older kid in the group, as demonstrated by the afternoon spent finger-painting.

I returned to the playscheme a year later, older, wiser and with the added responsibility of leading my own group, which came with a £10 per week pay rise over the previous year's wage. As a group leader, though, I couldn't be the kids' new best friend, and thus ended up playing bad cop to my helper's good cop. Still, the kids in my group - who were about nine years old - were generally pretty cool; I think they reserved the real little shits for someone more battle-hardened. The last couple of days at playscheme are ingrained on my mind for two reasons - the first is that I got my exam results on the penultimate day, which led the kids to give me a round of applause for doing so well, while the second is that we spent the last day at Thorpe Park

Somehow over the course of the two weeks, one of the other group leader's young daughters latched on to me, I think because one hot day I called her a "sweaty Betty" and she found it hilarious. So at Thorpe Park she decided she wanted to hang out with me and my group of nine-year olds. Everything was cool until we hit Thunder River, and she massively freaked out at the first hint of water splashing over the side of the boat, despite the fact that she'd merrily watched other boats full of drenched occupants zooming past while we were queuing. I subsequently spent the entire ride clinging on to a screaming four-year old who was determined to jump ship, before quickly giving the sobbing red-faced thing back to her mum and heading back to Mr. Monkey's Banana Ride despite the fact that I'd already made the kids go on it about four times.

As jobs go, playscheme was fun but tiring. I had, at one point in my life, considered teaching as a career, but two weeks of fun was just about enough. On the plus side, I was Police-checked and am 100% kiddie safe.


Two months later I was back at Thorpe Park, this time working in the 'olde-English' style pub in the dying weekend days of the summer season. I was roped into this by a mate who'd worked there all summer, and was somewhat ill-prepared. I had to steal a pair of Big Bro's black trousers (which were too large), and was forced by the manager to wear a manky old oversized sweatshirt; the combined effect left me looking like the Tom Hanks character in Big when, at the end, he returns to child-size while still wearing his adult clothing. I also had to keep hoisting trou up, in case they dropped down in a comedy style while I served an irate parent a decidedly dodgy looking pint.

Good times were nevertheless had, although I was without a doubt the worst barman ever; Once, I accidently clipped the bottom of a pint glass (well, actually it was plastic) on a beer tap and emptied its contents over the guy I was serving. Fortunately he was cool about it. I also had an unerring inability to remember the prices of the drinks, so I generally made my own decision about what to charge based on the nature of the person I was serving; sometimes it was excessively expensive, other times ridiculously cheap. 

In hindsight, its possible I was the best barman ever, depending on how polite you were to me.

Thorpe Park's bar was notable for a couple of other reasons, one of them being the fact that it was located next to a fast food joint. You'd get a lot of parents sending their kids to the fast food place, while they came to the bar for some 'proper food.' What they didn't know, though, was that all the food was prepared in the same kitchen, with the only difference being that the fast food stuff was slung in a box, while the pub stuff was slapped on a plate; presentation aside, it was all the same crap.

The other thing I remember - well, kinda - is that all the alcohol had to go by the last night of the season, so the four of us working in the bar got *completely* shit-faced on alcopops (this was '96, after all). Despite that, I still managed to keep my trousers up.


After leaving school I had some desire to work in the film industry (behind the scenes, I hasten to add). About a month after I left Thorpe Park I went for an interview at Shepperton Studios, which meant I had to go clothes shopping because my wardrobe consisted solely of jeans and t-shirts, which apparently don't go down too well in a job interview. So one shopping spree later I was decked out in a crumpled white shirt (like Agent Mills' in Se7en) and some awesome pinstripe trousers (despite Sparky Pa telling me I looked like I'd bought half a suit). Combined with one of Sparky Pa's ties and some hastily polished shoes I actually looked halfway presentable.

So the job was for a company that … made stuff. To be honest, I didn't really do my research then, and I can't for the life of me remember what the company was called now. But this was the first round of interviews for a job they listed as a runner, which I subsequently found out consisted of just driving various pieces of equipment round in a skanky van, then hauling it into place on a location. Hired muscle, basically. 

Anyway, the interview was going OK - until the point when the guy looked me straight in the eyes and said "so where do you see yourself in five years?"

Without a moment's hesitation I replied "well, not here."

I wasn't invited back for a second interview, funnily enough.


Three days after my 19th birthday, I started work at - mentioning no names - a company that published, and continues to publish (much to some people's surprise) various film and television-related magazines. I had written to them out of the blue asking if they had any jobs going, and they were kind/stupid enough to take me on. I think of this job like a first girlfriend - cheap and easy. No, no, just kidding! Yes, the wages were incredibly low, but I learned some incredible new skills (make your own jokes there) and made some awesome friends, many of whom I'm still in touch with today. In fact, when I was offered the job at the company I'm at now, I dithered for a while because I didn't want to break up the gang. But, as I said waaaaay back at the beginning, I'm a whore for cash, so I ultimately couldn't resist.

Also I felt massively ripped off by someone senior stealing my parking space and wanted to do an almighty 'screw you' to him. In hindsight, I doubt my little hissy-fit had any effect whatsoever, but it made me feel slightly more proactive.


I'd first been made aware of my current company when a friend who'd ended up working there asked me if I wanted to do some freelance writing for them. I said yes, because it looked like a good opportunity and the extra cash seemed nice, and about six months later they offered me a job as an editorial assistant. Within a few months I'd scrambled up the ranks to a more senior position because other people started leaving (I don't think my arrival and their departure are intrinsically linked, but you never know). I've been there nine years in July, and it's been a pretty wild experience - I've met my Nemesis, made some awesome friends, seen some friends become enemies, found myself in a flooded office, worked my arse off, had my arse pinched by a tranvestite Ginger Spice, hated it, loved it, thought about leaving and ended up staying.

And I think after nine years I finally feel at home there.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Hair update 02: By jove, Holmes! edition

Crumbs, it feels like ages since I last posted, so, um, apologies for that. Anyway, let's crack on, shall we?

First order of business - after the immense success of last week's hair update, it's back for another round! And following on from Tara and Missy&Chrissy's suggestion, I've gone for a Sherlock Holmes look this week.
Ta-daaaa! That's my Sherlock Holmes: a stunning and uncanny transformation, I think you'll agree, that was definitely not thrown together while I was playing Scrabulous on Facebook or thinking that I might have to watch the first episode of Bionic Woman that I recorded last week. I'm particularly pleased with how I've used a Mr. Incredible Pez dispenser in lieu of a pipe.

So, what do we learn from this? Well, having slicked my hair down to appear as if I'm from the Victorian era* you unfortunately can't tell if it's grown at all since last week. It's also become quite apparent that I have just one expression, which always seems to involve a raised eyebrow. Please note, however, that this week I raised THE OTHER ONE.

Variety is, after all, the spice of live.

Don't forget to exercise your democratic right and vote for next week's exciting look in the comments section!


Exciting news abounds elsewhere: I got my awesome new beanie. Over the last few years I've had a bit of a beanie obsession-thing going on; I've got shedloads of them in a variety of different shapes and colours, but I've always lacked an oversized one - y'know the kind that covers your entire head and most of your face.

As you might remember, I posted about the fact that I was thinking about getting one a while back - anyway, long story short, I ordered it, it arrived, I wore it, my boss compared me to Eminem, everything's groovy.
Notice how I've turned a little to camera to give you a better idea of how accommodating it is?I did that just for you, and you alone.

I love this beanie with a worrying passion.


And now for something completely different: for what seems like an eternity, Thames Water have been replacing the water pipes in the roads around my office, and seem to be making a right mess of it. Roads are closed, the workmen don't seem to be doing anything, and on at least two occasions huge jets of water have been sent hurtling into the sky. Well, evidently some local joker has taken note of their incompetence - I saw this on the walk from my car to the office this morning.
Oh it's like a Banksy!

*An image that is quickly and utterly smashed into oblivion by the fact that I'm wearing a hoody rather than proper gentlemanly attire.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Aaaaaw, ain't he a lil' sweetheart? And then he grew up to be … me! Yep, that cheeky little bugger pictured above is me as a toddler (or thereabouts). Damn, I don't mean to be bigheaded or any more egocentric than usual, but I was as cute as a button. That picture's like an advert for a potential Abercrombie and Fitch baby range.

And look - I was even rockin' the hoody fresh out of the oven.

Anyway, so why am I posting pictures of Baby Tim? Well, it's because today is my second birthday. Not my actual second birthday - it would be impressive if a toddler could write a blog for two years, and would put IDV's constant pursuit of me in a whole new, rather unsettling light. No! It is, in fact, my second blogger bloggy-blog birthday! Good grief - can you believe I've been inflicting this nonsense on the world for two whole years - isn't it time someone stopped me? Whatever. Anyway, I thought a baby pic would be more suitable than just doing a screen grab of my first post, which really you could just look at HERE, although I would suggest you didn't bother; it was – and I know this is hard to believe – even worse than everything that's followed it. In fact, it's very clingy and needy: "ooo, come read my blog, blah blah blah."
So there we have it. I'm two. Who's going to bring me cake?


To mark this historic occasion, I've decided to open the secret Sparky vault to reveal some never before seen titles and designs that I considered using before this blog evolved into the Sparky Malarkey you all know and loathe today!

Some of you might find they look just a little bit familiar… Enjoy!

(Special thanks to the Coven for unwittingly allowing me to rip their blog headers a new one, and to everyone who's stopped by over the last two years - here's to many more!)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Hair update 01

Following on from Missy&Chrissy's wonderful suggestion, may I present to you - yes you - the first in a new weekly series: Hair update!
Yes, as my efforts to grow my hair longer continue apace, here's your chance to follow events as they unfold! The excitement is, well, exciting, so here we go:

OK, so this kind of looks better than it actually is; I've been wearing a wooly hat all day, so I had full-on hat-hair which meant that as soon as I got in I damped it down and spruced it up a bit, because there was no freakin' way I was going to post it as it was. Notice also how I'm aiming for a sizzling, sultry look; I don't know why - it was either that or mimic two annoying pre-adolescent emo girls who kept gurning into an iMac in the Apple Store yesterday, but seeing as none of you were there you probably wouldn't get the joke, and I'd just end up looking like a goddamned emo. Maybe we could turn that into another aspect of this feature - pick a stupid expression for me to model? Some unsavoury types would say a stupid expression is about all I can do…

Um, so that's about it. Obviously we've still got a long way to go. And by 'we' I actually mean 'me.' Unless you all want to join me in growing your hair, like a special hair-growing super-club. 

I'll make the membership cards. It'll be awesome. 

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Kids do and say the funniest things

The Sparky clan were overcome by a brief wave of nostalgia this evening. Sparky Nan was over for dinner, and we got talking about years ago when Big Bro and I were much, much younger; around the time when I had chubby little cheeks and a mop of blonde hair that was so fair I could almost be mistaken for an albino.


Anyway, the thing that sparked this conversation off was a recollection of one of the greatest achievements in Big Bro's life. At the age of four, you see, Sparky Nan entered him into a competition to draw an Easter card. So Sparky Ma duly set him down with a piece of paper and some paints, and told him to paint something … Eastery.

And, as she watched, he did. He painted a lovely, very well-proportioned Easter egg; he painted a lovely colourful border; and he painted a beautiful yellow chick. Then he started to paint another beautiful yellow chick on the opposite side, with careful little dabs of yellow paint. 

It was at this point that, for some reason, Sparky Ma left him alone for all of about 30 seconds time. And it was at this time that Big Bro decided that the chick needed some legs. 

Some legs that were about five times longer than they should've been.

Sparky Ma can still recall the utter horror she experienced upon seeing the mutant chick Big Bro had unleashed, but with the deadline for the competition looming fast, there was no time to get him to paint another picture, so she submitted it regardless. And what do know? The little bugger won. The prize was a £15 gift voucher for Dickens and Jones in Richmond which he swiftly spent on a large green plastic van that provided hours of fun throughout our childhood (and quite possibly slightly inappropriately beyond).

Anyway, so we were chatting about that painting tonight, and Sparky Ma said that she thought she still had it somewhere, before popping upstairs to rummage through her cupboards. Five minutes later she's back with an old plastic bag containing various treasures she's kept from our early years, including, for some reason, a headband decorated with silver milk bottle tops and a big star that I fashioned, aged five, for a school nativity play - the mere sight of which, allied with the overwhelming smell of mouldy 26-year dairy products imbued upon it, brought the memory of the event back with a jolt.


Within a few seconds, the prize-winning artwork was found (how we laughed at that chick's exceedingly long legs!), after which we continued looking through the bag. 

And that's when we found an Easter card that I'd made for Sparky Ma and Pa way back in 1982. Now, the only explanation for what was inscribed within is that a) school teachers in the early 80s were sorely lacking in proofreading skills, b) I loved rhyming couplets, or c) Sparky Pa had done something to majorly piss me off.

Because I'd written: Dear Mummy and Dummy. Happy Easter. Love Tim.

It was at that point that I thought I might've outstayed my welcome for the evening and promptly headed home.

Friday, March 07, 2008


Changing my hair's not the only decision I've made this week: I've decided that Angry Tim might be have to be released into the wild a bit more often.

There's a reason for this: twice this week the same person has made comments to me that were, initially, just plain rude, and in the second instant, downright offensive. And as I'm generally a reasonably chilled out person, I stupidly let them slide.

No more, though; oh no. 

Let's review the said comments, and the setting in which they were uttered:

While walking back to my car one evening, I noticed that this individual (not a stranger, I hasten to add), was running down the road after me. I was listening to music on my lovely, lovely iPhone, and as this person can be quite annoying and I was in a bit of a rush, I carried on walking rather than stop and wait. 

Said person then started yelling my name to the point that a random on the street actually stopped me and said that someone was trying to get my attention. Said person then proceeded to lecture me about how people who use iPods are ignorant, and how I was the sort of person who would step out into the road and get knocked down, then blame the driver. I very politely replied that I use my iPod when running, and am always very careful to check for traffic when crossing a road.

My response should've been: "Actually I was just ignoring you because you bore the tits off me."

The second instant was the one that really tipped me over the edge. Said person asked me if I'd be up for playing a particular sport with him, and I said "not at the moment" due to events in my life outside of work involving a member of my family which are taking up a lot of my spare time. 

Said person then proceeded to make what was not only a deeply insensitive, but also incredibly offensive comment 'in jest' about that particular member of my family. Somewhat startled, I snapped back, indicating (far too politely, in hindsight) that the conversation was over.

My response should've been: "F**k off, t**t."

So that second example took place two days ago, and I keep thinking about it because I am genuinely shocked that some people think it's fine and dandy to be so insensitive to someone who, I'm not afraid to admit, has been through a bit of an emotional wringer over the last four weeks.

Which is where Angry Tim comes in. Because if said person tries to make another comment like that again, they're going to get a freakin' hell-storm of words right back at them that will be so colourful everyone in the vicinity will feel like they're on a really bad acid trip. And why not? If people like this can get away with it, there's no reason I can't in response.

I'm rather looking forward to delivering a vocal bitch-slap of epic proportions. Bring it.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Hair care crunch

The votes are in and have been independently verified - with your help, I've decided on a course of action for my hair!

Well, by 'the votes are in' I actually mean 'some of you mumbled a bit and didn't actually choose between long or short until I moaned and whined at you.' Geez, you lot are indecisive to the point of not knowing what to think.

Although this, coming from the person who had to ask what you thought he should do with his hair is, I think you'll agree, a bit rich.

Anyway - this is what I've decided (drum roll please):

I'm going to grow it until the first week of May. My reasons for this are twofold:

• I'm a little intrigued by trying to grow it long; and if I have it cut now, I'll only have to have it cut again in May ready for whatever pitiful summer will be thrown at us this year. 

• I intend to take the first week of May off, and I traditionally have my hair cut in my week off. So if I just aim for the May cut and ignore the interim period I'll be quids in, too.

I'm actually a little bit excited now I've made this monumental decision, which just goes to show how simple and easily pleased I really am. Um… Seriously, though, I quite enjoyed having longer hair a couple of years ago, and have always been just a little bit disappointed with myself that I never persevered with it longer. And to ensure I don't snap and shave it all off, I'm going to employ two distinct tactics to keep everything under control.

Tactic the first is:

• A hat. Yes, yes, this is a pretty straightforward way of managing the unmanageable hair that I anticipate I'll be facing in the coming weeks, but it also works. It also gives me an excuse to buy that oversized beanie I've been dithering over for the last few weeks.

Tactic the second is (*shudder*)…

• A parting. Good god, I haven't had a parting in my hair in donkey's years, and the initial thought of one scares me just a little. And no doubt best mate Jo will go utterly ballistic when she sees me with one, because she loathes them with an almost homicidal intensity. But I figure there's plenty of people around these days who've helped make it more socially acceptable, and if done correctly (a little rough, rather than a perfect straight line) it'll certainly look no worse than the horrific mess my hair has the potential to turn into over the coming weeks without one. It might also make me look sultry and dangerous - who knows?

So there we have it guys and gals - that's the plan. There are at least 61 days until I'm allowing myself to go get my haircut.

Unless I turn seriously mentalist around mid-April and hack it off with a kitchen knife.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Weekend business

I unashamedly spent at least 50 percent of the weekend horizontal in bed.

I'd decided, you see, that I really needed a quality lie-in. I actually set my alarm for a reasonably early time both days, because when I have a lie-in I like to think that it's properly alloted time rather than a "oops, look at the ungodly hour!" sort of thing. This was helped by the fact that I've set the alarm on my iPhone to play the 'Marimba' ringtone, which is a rather lovely little merengue sort of tune. It's very South American. I'd initially considered using the 'Alarm' ringtone, but realised that feeling like you're being woken during a Klingon attack against the Enterprise wouldn't necessarily be the best start to a relaxing day.

So the alarm would go off at 8:30, at which point I'd roll over, tap 'snooze' on my iPhone, then bundle myself up in the duvet for another four hours.

Usually I consider such a thing a total waste of the day, but this time I thought "sod it," and tapped snooze again. I don't have a lie-in of such epic proportions often, and this one rocked.


In the time I actually hauled myself out of bed and into an upright position, I totally developed a new addiction: toast and marmalade. I had examples of each in my cupboards (well, not toast as such, rather a loaf of bread) that were nudging perilously close to being not just past their sell-by date, but waaaaaaaay past their sell-by date. And so, before they had the chance to heave themselves out of the kitchen, and at the risk of serious injury to myself, I decided to eat them.

And by God were they good.

I'll certainly be restocking next time I'm in Sainsburys. Maybe next weekend I'll combine my new pastimes and have toast IN bed.

There's a revolutionary idea.


It wasn't all just chillaxing and ramming old food down my throat, though. Oh no. I did my longest run so far using the Nike+ kit (as ably displayed on the sexy graph to the right)! I actually did this run as a bit of an experiment, because I noticed that when I run with Sweatband she totally baby-steps the whole way, which means I fall into step beside her (except near the end where I sprint away from her at warp speed in an effort to cause upset and humiliation), in contrast to my usual long-legged strides. So last night I made a conscious decision to shorten my strides, resulting in a more consistent run (sorry, no amusing graph-faces this time, kids). And it actually increased my average speed, from 5:34 per km to 5:29. 

On the downside, it killed my legs (seriously, they well 'urt), and Marcosy moaned that the graph didn't give the impression of me running like a loon and waving my arms like a special as I pounded the streets of West London.

Which leaves me with something of a dilemma: do I continue with the shorter strides and more consistent pace, or just go back to running like I'm on crystal meth?


Finally, an appeal - one that makes me sound a but like a teenage girl: I'm at a crossroads, people. I need to do something with my hair, and I don't know whether to go short and scruffy, or aim for long and scruffy. Either way it's going to be scruffy. I'm at the stage where it just looks stupid, and I really feel like I need to have it cut. But part of me thinks that if I just persevere a little longer I could totally grow it out into something longer and grungy. Actually, I'm totally falling into the middle ground between the two dudes from Supernatural. Plus, when my hair's longer it totally does this little flicky thing at the back that makes me look kinda cute…

Um, yeah… So… Er… Thoughts!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

That book thing that everyone is doing

Well, everyone else is doing it, so why can't I?

1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people*

Margaret had to leave early so Ange is removing my makeup today. I ask her if she's got a menthol blower (the minty apparatus that, when blown into an actor's eyes, produces tears), and I borrow it to take home for rehearsal for tomorrow. Hair and makeup removed, I jump in the car and head to the hotel.

This is from the book I'm currently reading, which is My Boring-Ass Life: The Uncomfortably Candid Diary of Kevin Smith. And uncomfortably candid it is - and yet also very entertaining. This passage is taken from the section where he's filming the movie Catch and Release in Vancouver, where he later gets into a bit of trouble for talking - candidly, of course - about the production of the film. What did they expect? He's Kevin Smith! Which means unlike, well, pretty much all of Hollywood I expect, he actually likes to interact with his fans. And it's not like he spoils the movie in any way. In fact, what he's written about it actually makes me want to go seek out Catch and Release.

Score one for Smith, zero for uptight, shortsighted Hollywood execs.

Anyway, it's a good read, so if you liked those three sentences I recommend all the others in the book. Available now in all good bookshops (I've always wanted to say that)!

* I can't be bothered to do this - do it if you feel like doing it. See if I care.