Saturday, November 29, 2008

The great t-shirt debacle PLUS: the hat story

As long-time readers, and even those poor souls who strayed off the beaten path and found themselves stranded here might recall, a few weeks back I was unable to decide which of three awesome t-shirts I should buy, so I threw it open to a vote.

There was not a flurry of activity on the voting front, and eventually a winner was not so much announced, but certainly selected. That winner, I can reveal here for the first time, was the Cookie Monster t-shirt, with first-of-the-loosers second place going to Superman, and a craptacular third place going to the Joker.

This was good, because fortunately that's the order I preferred them in. *Phew*

Unfortunately, our little democratic poll fell to pieces after that, because basically they seem to have disappeared from every Topman store within range. First of all, in my week off (when I'd planned on sealing the deal), Kingston failed massively by not having any of them in stock, and a subsequent trip to Westfield proved little better; they only had Supes and the Joker in stock, and while I was happy to buy the runner-up, they only had them in super-tiny extra-small or voluminous large, and I really didn't want to look like I'd a) squeezed into what looks like something an eight year-old would struggle to put on, or b) like Homer in his mumu. It also suggests that I'm completely average in body size.

Things looked up however, when I had an email exchange with Marcosy in which he offered to buy them all for me because he didn't have a clue what to get me for my birthday. This was a full-on Brucey Bonus because not only would I not have to buy them myself, but it would save me from having to hunt them down - and he works near the world's biggest Topman store. Good times.

Unfortunately, Marcosy soon reported back that the world's biggest Topman store also didn't have them in stock, which suggests that I'm not the only guy infatuated with t-shirts bearing Muppets and comic book characters. On the plus side, he totally went of and picked me up a couple of awesome substitutes, one of which bears a distressed Superman logo which, when worn layered under another top makes me feel like I should run down Hammersmith high street while ripping my shirt open Superman-stylee. We all know, however, that that would only end with me tripping over a loose paving slab and face-planting onto the street or being happy-slapped by a brazen chav rather than flying heroically off into the sky.

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An aside:

How's this for a back-handed complement: I was chatting to a lady who lives across the street the other day and mid-conversation she said "you look well - have you lost weight?"

Bearing in mind the arse has completely dropped out of my running schedule recently, I'd been thinking, if anything, that I was looking a bit chunkier than usual at the moment. Being a polite young chap, though, I replied "um, thank-you. But no."

The outcome of this is, though, that I now think a) that she thought I was big-boned to begin with, and b) if I apparently look trimmer when I've been sitting on my backside watching DVD boxsets I should probably just jack the whole exercise thing in, grab a family-size bag of Doritos and crack on with the fourth season of Boston Legal.

I'm so confused.
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Despite the utter failure of the t-short vote (I blame Florida), I remain undeterred, and that's where the hat story comes into play. 

As you may know, I do love my beanie hats. When winter strikes they offer warmth, comfort, and style - much like Linus' blanket in Peanuts. And when it all gets too much I can just pull them down over my eyes in an attempt to block out the outside world (sometimes it actually works, especially if I sing "la la la" to myself).

What I have recently realized, however, is that I don't actually wear hats just because I simply want to wear a hat. I only wear them for practical reasons. In addition to my many and varied beanies, I also own a couple of baseball caps, which look pretty awesome on, but I very rarely wear them. And by 'very rarely' I actually mean 'never.' And in addition to the baseball caps I also own a kind of cadet cap that looked awesome when I bought it because I had longer hair at the time which padded it out; one short cut later and it leaves me looking like this

*Shudder*

Anyway, recently I've gotten to thinking that I should rock the hat look more often. On a trip to Westfield the other week I saw what looked like a really wicked cap. I was very tempted to try it on, but it was actually being worn by some dude who was shopping with his girlfriend and I don't think he would've appreciated me plucking his hat off his head, popping it on my own, and checking out my reflection in a shop window.

A few days later, however, while out shopping with Marcosy, I had the good fortune to actually find one - for sale - in a shop. I tried it on, along with another hat which Marcosy said made me look like Kryton from Red Dwarf, so the less said about that the better. Anyway, the cap looked pretty darn cool, I think, but I hesitated nevertheless. Why? I dunno. On one hand I know that flat caps for dashing young gents like myself are totally on-trend this season (how metrosexual did that sound?), on the other hand it all goes back to the whole 'would I ever wear it?' thing. 

Marcosy said "buy it!" but he always says that to me so his word is pretty much worthless. Best Mate Jo, on the other hand, turned her nose up at it a bit when I showed her a picture (though she does approve of the flat cap style in general). I also emailed a picture to Yazzle Dazzle and she keeps saying "BUY IT!" too, but that could be because I keep spending a significant portion of our lunchtime coffee meet-ups procrastinating about whether to buy it or not and she just wants me to shut the hell up. 

So, here's the thing: to buy, or not to buy - that is the question.

I am going late-night shopping on Thursday so you have until then to cast your votes. And seriously, this time I actually plan on going through with it.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The slutty Terminator

Two hours spent wondering the streets of Hammersmith and Westfield shopping centre and all I have to show for it is this.

Now, I'm not a scientist, but isn't it nature's way that woman by their very, um, nature have a low sperm count?

Having failed to win any further film roles after Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the T-1000 is reduced to whoring itself as a slutty underwear model* in West London.


*BTW, could I have felt any more self-conscious when taking that photo? Standing outside an underwear shop taking photos? I'd probably have been less conspicuous if I had a hand jammed down my trousers and was drooling out the corner of my mouth…

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cheeky tramp

As usual, Yazzle Dazzle and I rocked up to Secret Starbucks at lunchtime today. What was not usual was the diminutive Peaches Geldof look-alike, with disheveled hair, trampy tracksuit bottoms, and a school blazer, who blatently pushed in in front of us in the queue. After a few seconds of standing there, and perhaps as a consequence of the laser vision boring into the back of her head courtesy of Yazzle and I, she turned round and in a posh-kid-pretending-to-be-street manner gushed "oh sorry, were you here?"

Yazzle glared at her and said "don't worry, you go first. Life's too short."

The wench turned round, picked up a juice drink, and waved it in the face of lovely barista lady.

"I'm just having this," she shouted in a 'DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH' stylee. 

"That'll be £1.85," said lovely barista lady.

The wench rifled through her purse, eventually pulling out a 10 pound note, a 20 pound note, and a handful of change.

"I only have £1.50 in change, and I don't want to break into these notes. Will you take that?"

Lovely barista lady stared at her, then glanced over at me. I burst out laughing. Yazzle tutted audibly. 

"No," said lovely barista lady. "It's £1.85."

The wench tutted, and handed over the tenner. 

After taking her change and walking off in a huff, lovely barista lady turned to Yazzle and I. 

"Bloody cheek," said Yazzle. "I hope she's planning to break that tenner on a hairbrush. God knows she needs it."

We all laughed. And then I pointed out that the little troll was actually sitting down just behind us. We laughed again, and she got up and left.

Good times. 

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Weighing in on matters of galactic importance

On Friday night Best Mate Jo and I went to see Kevin Smith's latest movie, Zack and Miri Make a Porno. I thought it was a wonderful little movie; great performances, likeable characters, some terrific jokes. The ending felt a bit rushed, but on the whole I enjoyed it immensely. On the way home, however, I turned, as I often do, to the subject of Star Trek. Now, Jo and I have been friends for … well over 15 years, I'd guess. And in that time she's never - not once - expressed an interest in anything remotely to do with Star Trek. She's tolerated my obsession, as all friends do with this sort of thing (right back at you with the Robbie Williams obsession, Jo), but I know never to call her up and say "why don't you come-on over and we can watch Wrath of Khan, Search for Spock, and The Voyage Home back-to-back?" No point, not gonna happen, never in a million years.

On Friday, though, I handed her my iPhone, and said "watch this."

Last Monday, as many of you will know, a new trailer for the new Star Trek movie came out, and over the course of the last week I've had many people ask me my thoughts on it. Now, obviously Star Trek is very important to me; I've been a fan for as long as I can remember, and it pays my bills.

Before we go any further, if you haven't already seen it, here it is.



So yeah, a fair few people have been asking me about it, so here's my two-pence worth.

Really, when it comes down to it, I'm a classic Trek fan. Yes, I love TNG, DS9, Voyager, and even the other one Enterprise, but at the end of the day Star Trek is, for me, all about Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. I've said before that I've got a lot of faith in J.J. Abrams to produce a vision of Star Trek that's worthy of standing alongside the classic episodes and films such as The Wrath of Khan, and from where I'm sitting the new trailer does nothing to dispel that notion. If anything, from what I can see in those two-and-a-bit minutes J.J. has gone way beyond what I had hoped we'd see. 

How do I know that? Well, my Star Trek equivalent of spidey-sense was a-tingling. And I haven't had that since the last time I saw Captain Kirk in a Star Trek trailer, waaaaaaay back in 1994 when Star Trek Generations was looming. Let me repeat that: when I saw Captain Kirk. As I said, I love all of Star Trek's incarnations, but while I was always excited to see trailers for the TNG films, they never quite elicited the same response as seeing those for the original cast movies. First Contact was a brilliant film, but it was no Wrath of Khan; Insurrection … Insurrection, I've always felt, was possibly the most Roddenberry-esque concept for a Star Trek movie, but somehow I think it would've served the original cast better; and Nemesis? I actually like Nemesis. Sure, it's not amazing, but there are some nice bits in it, and by the time it came out it was pretty obvious that the TNG franchise was winding down so I kind of felt a little more emotional towards seeing Picard and his crew again - almost like I was saying goodbye. But still, Kirk and co they were not.

The chief complaints I've heard against the new movie are all based around the fact that it's a new cast taking on the characters, the set designs and the exterior of the Enterprise itself look different, and it seems like the all-important continuity is being violated all over the place.

Now look here: nothing would please me more than to see William Shatner back on the silver screen as James T. Kirk, but the last time we saw the character was in a movie in which he was killed. I really don't want the latest film to spend two hours explaining away his resurrection using some god-awful sci-fi cliche. And honestly, how much longer could he go on playing the role? Shatner himself seems reasonably comfortable with his character passing to a new actor, so if it's good enough for the mighty Shat, it's good enough for me. As long as the character is being served well I'll be a happy fan, and Chris Pine looks to be doing a wonderful job.

As for the rest of the cast, they all seem to be great too. Zachery Quinto as Spock? Wonderful. Karl Urban as Bones? Good god, from just the one line he has in the trailer I'd say he's nailed that role to utter perfection. Zoe Saldana? Beautiful. Sulu, Chekov? Great! Perhaps the only cast member I've been unsure about is Simon Pegg as Scotty, simply because Simon Pegg is … well, rather well known as Simon Pegg. Whereas the other actors are relatively unknown to me, I look at Scotty as Simon Pegg playing Scotty. On the plus side, from reading interviews in which he talks about the role it's clear that he is a Star Trek fan, and he's approached it with the sensibility that he knows it's more than just a normal acting gig: it comes with a degree of responsibility - to the fans and to James Doohan. So after my initial uncertainty, I'm happy to say that I think Scotty's in good hands.

Now… the look of the Enterprise. More than anything else, the appearance of the Enterprise, both inside and out, is iconic - but we'd be foolish if we thought this movie, with its immense budget, would replicate to the nearest millimetre, the exact same sets that appeared in a 43 year-old television series. Of course they won't. But what they have clearly done for the interiors is to take inspiration, from the general layout and vibrancy of the old sets, and apply it to a new design - which, quite possibly, is what Matt Jefferies would've created back in the sixties if he'd had the time, budget, and technology that today's production designers have.

As for the exterior of the Enterprise, well, I'll be honest: the first time I saw a shot of the new ship I kinda went "oh wow, that's … uh." And I looked at it some more, turned my head this way and that, then I closed down my web browser and stared at the image of the Enterprise-A that I have as my desktop background. It was not the same, and I didn't like it. Over the course of a couple of days, though, I kept going back to the single image of the new ship, and in that short time I looked at it and I began to think that I really should practice what I preach: were they really going to stick so closely to the old design? No. Does it have the necessary parts? A saucer section, two warp nacelles, an engineering hull? Yes. Are they all in the right place? Yes. And since then it's grown on me quite a lot, which is an impressive feat because I've had to put aside god-knows-how-many-years of love for the original design. Hell, even Shatner's happy with it!

Finally, there's the whole issue of cannon violation. Ooo, there's Romulans in a pre-TOS setting when they actually shouldn't be seen until the episode 'Balance of Terror,' and there's the whole thing about Kirk serving alongside Pike when in 'The Menagerie' he says he's only met him once, and - ooo, ooo - Kirk can't drive in 'A Piece of the Action,' but he's seen in the trailer driving a Corvette! To this last one, I say this: I've been driving for 14 years now, and I'm pretty sure I'd have a bit of difficulty driving a car from the 1920s. And anyway, wasn't that car built by the Sigma Iotians from something described in a book? Who knows what technology was powering it! 

As for the other two points, well, let's not get our knickers in a knot unnecessarily. The film's writers say everything will be explained in the movie, and from everything I've read those guys seem to have done their homework. Obviously I've not seen the new film yet, so I'm quite happy to wait until it's released before moaning about violating this, and violating that. 

(Of course if those issues aren't addressed in the movie we can all jump online and bitch to our heart's content. That is, after all, what the internet was created for)

Oh, and as for Best Mate Jo, she who does not do Star Trek, after two minutes watching that trailer in silence, she handed me back my iPhone and said with utter sincerity "that looks f*cking amazing."

I've got my tingle back, people; May 8th, 2009 really can't come soon enough.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Short cuts

My journey into work at the moment is a bit of a nightmare because they're doing some essential gas works just off Kew Bridge (either that or they're waging a secret war against the massive man-eating spiders). What makes it more ridiculous, though, is the fact that the roadworks are actually on the other side of the road and shouldn't really have any effect on my journey - the queues are basically formed by people slowing down to look in the massive hole in the road. I've never quite understood the whole slowing down to stare in a hole thing. It's just weird.

Anyway, that, believe it or not, is not the worst thing about it. The worst thing about it is that there's a big sign by the massive hole in the road that everyone slows down to look in that says 'DANGER: DEEP EXCAVATION!' And every time I see that, the horrendous East 17 song 'Deep' starts playing in my head and I CAN'T MAKE IT STOP!!!

-----

The chip shop near the office, never known for its stunning grasp of the English language, has a new listing on its menu:

Chicken Nugget

I know there's a credit crunch on and everything, but couldn't they at least stretch to two?

-----

I received an email today from a friend and former colleague (whose name I shall not reveal, although Marcosy, Watch*Paint*Dry, and Willowc will know who it is the moment they read it) that said:

How's things going? I was just thinking about you the other day (not while I was w*nking, honest!).

-----

We were having an interesting discussion in the office the other day about whether prostitution should be legalised. The general consensus was that it would probably make sense because a) it would mean better and safer working conditions for those involved, and b) the government could tax it. This got me thinking about how you would go about establishing and promoting a legitimate prostitution business (I didn't have much work to do that day, clearly).

I always think it's important for businesses to have a good name - something that sounds classy and instills a sense of trust in customers, which led me to devise the following two names for a brothels:

• Whore D'oeuvre (definitely classy, I think you'll agree)
• Starf*cks

I believe the latter has better potential, especially for franchising. Imagine this: a Starf*cks on every corner! If you're in the mood, just pop in and choose from tall or grande, with or without cream, and for a small additional fee you can have an extra shot. Hell, they'll even grind your beans.

-----

I've just been to Westfield, the massive new shopping centre in Shepherds Bush, again, and it's quite clearly festive action stations a-go-go! There're loads of Christmas trees around, and twinkly lights everywhere. In other news, I'm convinced they keep moving the shops around just to confuse me.

Look at the pretty lights!

What's also quite impressive is the fact that Superman's Fortress of Solitude appears to have plonked itself down in the middle of the centre.

Kal-El's house of capes and tights, inc.

So, the burning question of the day is: on this, my third visit to the biggest inner-city shopping centre in Europe, did I finally spend some money?! It was a question I was pondering myself while I bought a chocolate hob-nob milkshake at Shakebout. Good god their shakes are awesome. I'm beginning to think everything tastes better blended up. I wonder if I could blend a roast dinner…

Anyway, did I spend? Damn right I did! And what did I buy? Eight pints of milk, some chunky chips and some sea salt and black pepper chicken. Hmmm. Not exactly an auspicious start to my Westfield shopping history, but a man needs to eat. On the downside, the chicken did look a bit like something you'd feed a dog, but on the plus side it tasted great.

Hopefully next time I'll start buying clothes, books, and other quality shit I don't need.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The three zip challenge

You may recall a few weeks back that I met up with Marcosy in town so that he could be forced to buy a shirt and I could try on a Superdry jacket that I wanted for my birthday to make sure I could demand request the correct size. Well, lo and behold I got the jacket (a Superdry Blacklabel Technical Windcheater, to be precise) for my birthday, and it's every bit as awesome as I thought it would be.

Well, actually, I'm assuming it's every bit as awesome as I thought it would be, because I actually haven't worn it outside yet. Just as when I get a new pair of shoes (ooo, got some boots for my birthday too, very nice) and I wear them around the house like a pair of expensive slippers for a few weeks, the jacket has effectively become a waterproof, windproof smoking jacket (which again makes me think that I should invest in a cravat).  

Marcosy, however thinks there's another reason for me not wearing it out yet: he thinks I've developed some kind of zip-based phobia due to the fact that when I tried on the jacket, as detailed in the aforementioned post, I got stuck in it. I insist that this was actually a result of one of the zips on the one I tried on being busticated, whereas he thinks it's more to do with the fact that the jacket, which has three layers of zips for extra protection from wind (not that kind, dirty), confuses my tiny mind.

And to settle this, he has challenged me!

OK, not a dual with pistols or anything like that (though I'm pretty sure I could totally take him out if that were the case), but rather a challenge to see if I can do the zips up within a set period of time. Marcosy reckons I (and by 'I' he means 'a normal grown-up') should be able to get them all done up within 45 seconds - and ideally within 30 seconds (based on the fact that anyone putting on a coat to go out with friends in a typical social setting shouldn't really keep everyone waiting for minutes on end while they do their jacket up like a speshul).

I, of course, am rising to the challenge (stop being dirty).

Now, here's the rules agreed by me:

• I will not practice the zipping action beforehand. The action in the following video clip is my first and only attempt. If I win: hurrah! If I lose: my head will be hung in shame.

• I will begin the challenge with the jacket on. My ability to put items of clothing on in the correct manner is not in question, else Sparky Ma would've hauled me up for wearing my pants on my head many years ago. Only the zipping action is being tested.

• I shall record the time using the stopwatch function on my iphone, which will be placed in my direct line of sight.

Are you ready? Can you contain your excitement? Let's do it!!

Gladiators… READY!

video

PSYCHE!! I am victorious! I have defended my honour and my masculinity!

I shall now be spending the rest of the evening safely ensconced in my jacket watching today's episode of Gilmore Girls.

Um, and some Battlestar Galactica!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The secrets of the secret party revealed!

As regular readers will know, last Wednesday I was invited to the "launch of a new social networking device." Intrigue abounded as to what it could actually be, with various ideas such as a Facebook rival, a new mobile phone, and a, um, wi-fi-enabled 'lady-toy' being bounced around with friends.

The only clues I had were the innovative invite, and a somewhat cryptic website. And by 'somewhat' I mean 'very.'

Everything was revealed on Thursday evening, however. Having promised Sparky Ma that I'd flee the venue in the event that someone tried to touch me in my bathing suite region, I met-up with my plus-one for the evening, fellow blogger Willowc, and we jumped on a tube bound for Shoreditch in East Londinium. Although technically I didn't really 'jump' so much as 'step gingerly,' seeing as I was wearing devil shoes (formerly known as posh shoes) for the first time since they ripped my feet to bloody shreds.

En route we continued speculating what the event could be for, and Willowc, using a pinch of lateral thinking and a smattering of intelligence that obviously escapes me, suggested that the website name 'driedonpaper' would seem to indicate ink because it … well, it dries on paper, dunnit? Backing up her theory was the whole rubber-stamp invite thingy.

Curiouser and curiouser…

We jumped stepped carefully off the tube at Liverpool Street station, at which point we looked around liked bewildered tourists while trying to get our bearings in relation to the map I'd printed out. Despite holding the map in front of us and trying to visualize ourselves within it, I eventually decided that a better way of working out where to go was to hit-up the Google Maps feature on my iPhone. If I haven't said it enough times before: God, I love you, iPhone. We were soon on our way in the right direction, me holding my iPhone out in front of me like a tricorder, while Willowc complained that the rain would make her furry coat look like a damp dog.

After walking for a while, by which time Willowc was wondering if I was leading us totally astray, we came across a sign. Not from God, but a sign that we were on the right track.

Not so secret anymore, eh?

And the sign had the 3 logo on. 3, as the Brits among you may know, but the Johnny Foreigners may not, is a mobile phone network - meaning I was pretty damn close with my aforementioned guess of a mobile phone, and, thankfully, way-off with my fear of uninvited and inappropriate touching.

From there we could see another sign, and another sign, and another sign - I think you get the idea. Anyway, they all had arrows on so we followed them. Like the sheep we are. Eventually we found ourselves approaching a small passageway guarded by two ladies holding umbrellas, who pointed us to a doorway a little bit further along where we met another two ladies, one of whom had a clipboard.

"Are you a blogger or a journalist?" she asked.

"A blogger," I replied. She then looked for my name, ticked us off, and issued us with red wristbands.
 
Red band = blogger

Then we hit-up the par-taaaaaaaay.

The venue was pretty darn nice. It was kind of like an old arches workshop under a railway bridge, but transformed for a splendid shindig. The first room was full of big tellies, artwork, retro phones, globes, and small replicas of the Eiffel Tower. From they you passed under an archway, grabbed a free bevvy off one of two ladies, and then moved on into what I'm going to call the disco room, where some DJs were playing out some bangin' tunes. There were a few sofas scattered around here (one of which was made of cardboard, which I totally wanted because I figured it would be handy if loads of people came round, but could be flattened when it wasn't needed) so you could chill out or bust some moves with out having to stand up.

The DJs in the disco room pump out some bangin' tunes.

Another view of the disco room.

After hanging about in the d-i-s-c-o room for a while we headed back to the first room to admire the art and the retro phones, and, quite frankly, to find out exactly what the hell the whole thing was about. There were a few people in jumpers with INQ (INQ - ink, dried on paper, geddit?) written on them walking around holding pretty slick little mobiles. It turns out that 3 are launching a new phone called the INQ which, without going into too much detail because we all know I get confused pretty easily, is permanently linked to Facebook, includes Skype VOIP, and instant messenger. And to top it all off, both the handset and the monthly fee are both pretty-damn reasonably priced. OK, it ain't going to tear me away from my iPhone (which, I don't know if I've told you this, I love), but for some people, especially the teenage market I'd guess, the INQ could be a very enticing prospect.

Having worked all that out we turned our attention to seven interesting posters on the wall, which had apparently been specially created as something to do with the INQ launch. I couldn't quite work out what, exactly, but on the whole they were very nice. I particularly liked the ones by Sara Varon and Wayne Snooze.

This is the poster I liked (by Wayne Snooze)

…And this is the one Willowc liked (and the one we got free in our gift-tubes)

It was after admiring the art that I may have made something of a faux pas. Having knocked back a glass of coke I began looking for somewhere to plonk down the empty glass. Everyone else seemed to be putting them wherever the hell they felt like it, so I put mine on a bookcase. Within seconds some official looking woman swooped in, scooped it up, gave me a dirty look, and stepped back, which left me wondering if what I'd put it down on was actually another piece of art…

So, what else was there? Well, despite Willowc's protests that she didn't want to appear in any mobile phone propaganda, a photographer dude persuaded us to let him take a couple of pictures of us. We also got chatting to one of the guys who helped set up the driedonpaper website, who was a top chap and told us that they invited blogger folk because they wanted to involve their "type of people" rather than just the press who turn up to these sort of things bored off their tits and looking to get utterly wasted on free booze. Good times.

And do you know what else was good? There was a massive stack of cardboard tubes positioned by the door, and on the way out you got to take one. Within was a t-shirt (in a size and colour of your choice, which makes a nice change to the "no, it only comes in large puce" that you usually get with a free t-shirt), a USB memory stick, and a poster of one of the artworks which, luckily for Willowc, was exactly the same one that she pointed out as her favourite.

All in all, then, an evening very well spent. That being the case, if anyone else would like to invite me to any secret free events, please don't hesitate to drop me an email.

My gift-tube!

My free t-shirt and USB stick!

Oh, and devil shoes? Didn't hurt me one bit - good times!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Utter nutter

OK, this is just a quick one (tee-hee) because I'm dog-tired and I've got that party tomorrow night so I want to have a reasonably early night tonight.

I had a dream last night. No, not like Martin Luther King, but rather one that was so utterly amazing that I woke up completely startled, desperately wanting to pull the duvet over my head and try to go back to sleep so I could find out what happened next.

The gist of it was this: it was night, and the Cylons from Battlestar Galactica were attacking Earth. There were fires everywhere, and Cylon Raiders kept swooping out of the sky and blowing people up. Except for me and Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, because we were hiding in a sweet shop. Of course. Anyway, after a couple of minutes hiding behind the counter, a Cylon Raider managed to shoot the sweet shop, and we were all, like, uh-oh, the roof's gonna cave in and we're all gonna die. Fortunately, that's when the Summer Glau lady Terminator from The Sarah Conner Chronicles turned up and saved us.

It was as we were scurrying away with our heavily-armed Terminator saviour that I woke up.

Now, I can see that a dream analyst might look at this and suggest that the Cylon Raiders represent my fear of the future, that Lorelai and Rory represent a love for family, and that lady Terminator represents my love of sassy young woman who can handle a pump-action shotgun need to feel safe and protected, but what I really think it comes down to is the fact that I watch far too much tellybox, or that yoghurt I had last night was seriously out of date.

Either way, I'm off to chow down on a lump of chedder in the hopes that the cliffhanger ending is resolved tonight.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

DIY invite

As I revealed in my last post, I've been invited to a secret squirrel party later this week to mark the launch of a new 'device,' and on Saturday I received a mystery box containing the components required to fashion my own invite. Which I've just done. And seeing as this is officially, without any shadow of a doubt, the coolest invite I've ever received (EVAH) I thought I'd record it in the form of those newfangled photomagraphs, and share it with you … lot.

Bear witness to the construction of my invite!

Stage 1: The box! Concealed within are unfathomable mysteries beyond compare!

Stage 2: And by 'unfathomable mysteries' I mean 'party invite components.'

Stage 3: The elements arrayed for your viewing pleasure!

Stage 4: Inking up the stamp. Push down firmly, but not so firmly that you fear your breakfast bar might collapse.

Stage 5: Push down firmly on the yellow card! Again, not so firmly that you risk destroying a vital element in the kitchen/living room divide.

Stage 6: Ta-daaaa! Well, 'ta-daaaa the second,' actually, because it seems I didn't press down hard enough the first time so I had to do it again on the back of the card.

Anyway, as I think you'll agree the whole 'make-your-own-invite' thing is a pretty cool idea, and certainly a very novel way of piquing my interest (consider it, without a doubt, piqued). And I doubt it was terribly cheap to send a load of these out to people (unless I'm the only person going), which makes me think there's a lot of expense going into this thing. This is turn intrigues me even more … Only two days until I find out what it's all about!

The big question is - what on Earth shall I wear? Casual? Smart casual? Top hat 'n tails?

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For reasons that escape me, there's an unwritten rule at work that you have to buy doughnuts/cakes/biscuits for everyone on your birthday. Don't ask me why; quite frankly I think it's ridiculous, but I dutifully popped out over the weekend to buy enough biscuits and chocolate nibbles to knock a herd of elephants into a sugar-frenzy from which they'd never recover. Come Monday morning, however, I was shocked to discover that one of the tubs of sweet treats I bought - Marks and Spencer's coconut bites no less - was … well, somewhat lacking in content. And by that I mean, after unsealing the tub and taking the lid off, I discovered it was less than half full (or more than half empty, depending on your point of view), and instead of around 25 coconut bites there were just eight. 

Yes, you read that correctly: Eight. Coconut. Bites.

This tub is most definitely NOT half full.

A little bit disgusted and feeling a tad ripped off, I decided to take them back, and prepared myself for a battle with a customer services representative who would no doubt be under the impression that I was some sort of tramp who'd downed half the tub and was simply trying to wangle another one for free. 

Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to find the nice customer services lady treating me like I'd been massively wronged, telling me to get a replacement (they'd run out of coconut bites so I went for mini Belgium chocolate meringues instead), letting me keep the tub of eight sad little coconut bites, and inexplicably giving me a random handful of small change. Slightly bewildered I took everything she offered and fled before she changed her mind.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

And so it begins

As some of you might be aware, it's my *shhhhh* birthday next week. After the last couple of years where I've had big exciting parties that have ended with people getting their cars locked in trading estates and little drunken Spanish women moonwalking on buses, I've decided this year to let it go by a little more quietly - a bit like a farmer letting his fields lie fallow for a year - and am just having a quiet family do on the actual day.

But that's not to say that others are going to let it go by so quietly.

• The wonderful Watch*Paint*Dry mistakenly wished me happy birthday three days early, and is now wishing me a happy birthday every day until the actual day. It's like the lead-up to Christmas, just without the crap films on telly.

• The lascivious Inexplicable Device and the SubCs sent me two cards, one of which featured a semi-naked man in pants and a mask and a request (that will go unfulfilled, I'm afraid) that I replicate the look.

• The incredible iPandah sent me an awesome card with a built-in Space Invaders-stylee computer game that I just spent 20-odd minutes playing, to the point that my cup of tea went cold.

And then there's Best Mate Jo who was so utterly disgusted at the prospect of me not having a party (possibly because she was looking forward to her annual meet-up with Glittering Lee who she utterly fell in love with after he complemented her on her … um, lady bumps, a few years back) that she invited me over to her place with the promise of presents, fajitas (magic word!), and a chocolate brownie pudding (serves six!) that looked so awesome I almost bypassed the chicken and wrapped that in a fajita instead.

So, I rocked up at Jo's just after seven last night to find that she'd strewn birthday balloons around the living room, fajitas were a-cooking in the kitchen, and There. Were. Presents, um, present - including one that looked like a bazooka with a bow and ribbon on it. Intriguing…!

Jo actually told me that I could open them if I wanted, but seeing as I'm a good boy who doesn't open his presents early I feigned an aghast expression, and tucked into the fajitas (which were many, many times awesome), while continuing to steal glances at the bazooka-esque package.

Fajitas done, we decided to watch a movie. Earlier in the day I'd watched an episode of Gilmore Girls where Luke and Lorelai were talking about Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, and had subsequently gotten an urge to watch the film myself - an urge that Jo agreed with. Sadly, Jo doesn't own a copy, and I'd not thought far enough ahead to bring mine with me. That being the case, I raided Jo's DVD cupboard for a suitable alternative. After several minutes of pondering I whittled my choice down to four movies:

  1. Alpha Dog. Based on a true story of a teenage kid killed by a gang over some money his brother owes. Stars Anton Yelchin, the dude who will be Chekov in the new Star Trek movie.
  2. Enchanted. Don't judge me, this is supposed to be a great movie. I nixed it on the basis that it strikes me as particularly Christmassy film, and we should probably watch it nearer Christmas.
  3. Just My Luck. Again, don't judge me. Yes I know it's got Fire crotch in it, but it also stars Chris Pine, the new Captain Kirk, and I do feel like I should be at least a little familiar with the guy's oeuvre before Star Trek opens next year.
  4. The Lost Boys. Criminal, I know, but I have never seen this movie all the way through.
After several minutes of pondering, I decided to go for Alpha Dog because I've wanted to see this film for a while, and unlike The Lost Boys I knew it wouldn't have bad eighties haircuts, appalling fashions, or Corey Haim. And it was actually a pretty good movie. New Chekov was good, as was, surprisingly, Justin Timberlake who co-stars. There were lots of occasions of people calling other people "bitch" and "dog," and the like, and the ending was incredibly tense. Everyone had lots of tattoos in it, with our particular favourite being some guy who had 'boo' written on his arm. If you were going to have a random word tattood on your body, what would it be and where would you have it? On the downside, a scene towards the end of the film featured Sharon Stone in the most unrealistic fat suit I have ever seen, which spoilt it a little bit because it was supposed to be a very emotional scene and we both started laughing. She looked like Vicky Pollard. Anyway, if you haven't seen it, bitches, I do recommend you give it a whirl. Dog.

After that we watched some telly for a while, before I headed off just after midnight with a bag containing at least enough chocolate brownie pudding to feed two, a present, and my bazooka-shaped mystery gift. Oh, and about six balloons that Jo made me take, tied together with ribbon. So certain was she that I would ditch the balloons after she closed her front door that - I kid you not - she watched me via her security cam as I did the inflatable walk of balloon-based shame past all the other houses to my car (which reminds me - the balloons are still in the boot).

Anyway, when I got home I just couldn't take my eyes off the big tube-shaped present. What could it be? A giant crayon? Had Jo genuinely bought me a bazooka? I had to know. 

I started tearing the wrapper open.

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An aside:

My dear Nan on my Dad's side was, as we delighted in calling her, a cheeky bugger. She was a tiny, feisty little ball of energy, and she could not keep an unopened present in her house to save her life. Say we dropped her presents in a week or so before her birthday or Christmas. Sparky Ma would tell Sparky Pa on the way over that we should tell her not to open them before the special day. He would, and she would smile sweetly and put them safely in the front room. And then, as we left and the front door closed behind us, if you cupped a hand to your ear and listened very closely, you could hear the sound of wrapping paper being torn apart.

Within five minutes of us getting home the phone would ring and her sweet little voice would be on the other end, thanking us for the lovely [insert present of choice], because it was perfect, and just what she wanted.

As such, my actions here are not without genetic precedent.
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What I found within the big cardboard tube was, in fact, another big cardboard tube, and for a minute I thought it was going to be like Russian dolls and Jo had actually just bought me a pencil or something. But no! Upon closer inspection I noticed several thick pieces of rolled-up card. And:

OH.

MY.

GOD.

Quite possibly one of the best presents EVAH.

Jo had somehow managed to get me all eight of the teaser posters for the new Star Trek movie (you can see them HERE and HERE). And they're not piddly little posters either. They are MA-HOO-SIVE. 

At 01:30 this morning I was standing with my hands on my hips trying to work out how many giant clip frames I could get on the walls of Sparky Towers.

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I was rudely awoken at 08:51 this morning by the persistent ringing of my doorbell. Now, I don't really do answering the front door at stupid-o'clock in the morning, but I did briefly consider getting out of bed, getting some clothes on, going downstairs, unlocking the front door (I have many locks), and seeing who it was, but I figured they would've gone away by then, so instead I rolled over and went back to sleep.

Turns out it was the postie, and he'd left a card for me telling me I needed to go and collect something.

Let's re-re-wind Craig David-stylee. Earlier in the week I got an email which I initially dismissed as a piece of junkmail that had somehow managed to wriggle past Google's mighty spam filter. Upon closer inspection, however, I realised that it wasn't - it was, in fact, from a dude who said he'd read my blog and wanted to invite me to the launch of a secret new device next week! Whoa! After two-and-a-bit years this thing's finally started working for me - media-whorage ahoy! 

Anyway, back to today. I eventually rolled out of bed at 10:30, showered, knocked back an Actimal, and headed down to the post office where I was given a neatly-wrapped parcel. It was my invite to next week's event. Well, actually, it was the component parts of my invite to next week's event, because within the box was a rubber stamp, an ink pad, and piece of card. Very exciting, very novel, and very cryptic…

I have no idea what this device is all about, but I'm intrigued, and looking forward to finding out. 

Although if I've not posted anything by next Saturday would someone please file a missing persons report. 

KTHNXBAI!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Christmas shopping: FAIL

Christmas shopping, huh? Yeah, that went well.

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So, I was up stupidly early, wrapping my left foot (not the Academy Award winning Daniel Day Lewis film) in plasters to protect the slowly-healing blisters in anticipation of a day of epic shopping, and over to pick up Sparky Ma so ridiculously early that she was still getting ready. That being the case, I spent 15 minutes chatting to Sparky Pa, thinking that I might try to glean some idea of what he might want for Christmas, but actually ending up talking about books and decorating, so at the moment he's getting either a book or some paint.

We hit Kingston at bang-on 10am, and headed for our traditional pre-shop strategy planning in Starbucks. Based on the fact that Starbucks' Christmas decoration were up from today, and it's red cups all the way from here on in, baby, we were pretty inspired. Our strategy was quite simply 'go in some shops, buy some stuff,' which suited us fine. And so we began.

Well, Sparky Ma did. I goaded her into buying a snowman Christmas tree decoration where you pull a string and it's arms and legs fly-up and down because it made me laugh like a speshul, but that was the limit of my extravagance. Sparky Ma was not happy; she looked at me disapprovingly on several occasions when she thought I might reach for my wallet and I actually didn't.

Fortunately things kicked up a notch when we hit the high street and I told her in no uncertain terms that I was going to Topman to buy the winning t-shirt in the 'vote for Tim's t-shirt not-quite-a-competition-but-fun-nonetheless' thingy. I think we might've high-fived at the prospect of me splashing the cash.

And here's where the 'but' comes in.

At this point, Marcosy is probably expecting me to say "but they didn't have my size." Unfortunately, it didn't even get that far - because they didn't actually have the winning t-shirt. Or the runner up. Or the freakin' loser. About the only t-shirts they did have were a Superman one distressingly similar to the Superman one I already have, and a lame one that makes you look like a massive head on Popeye's body. I "harumphed" and left the store. Suffice to say, there's still time to vote, people; I shall now be making the winning purchase next week when I'm back at work because I know Westfield's Topman has all of them in stock.

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An aside:

Next has an interesting window display for the impending festive season: little girl being simultaneously mauled and dry-humped by polar bears.

Look closely and you'll get a little tease of my new haircut in the reflection.
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After that we browsed round a few more shops, in which Sparky Ma made more purchases, then hit Nandos for a big fat lunch because I was starving and a little dizzy from not having spent any money. Fortunately, like Popeye knocking back some spinach, the Nandos seemed to do the trick. Unfortunately (for everyone else), aside from some wrapping paper, tags, and Christmas cards, my purchases consisted solely of things for me.

Let's inventory:

• Black jumper
• Jeans
• Green jumper
• 2008 Christmas Starbucks mug
• Some soap
• A pen that writes in brown

I'm now going to go a little more in-depth on my purchases:

The black jumper and jeans were in a 'buy two for £30' deal which was an amazing steal (even more so if I'd shoplifted them). Seriously, a pair of jeans for 15 quids? I've got undercrackers that cost more than that. They're very cool - a light blue wash with distressed patches (that's the jeans I'm describing, not my undercrackers). The jumper is your standard black v-neck, but very nice nonetheless. The green jumper was a totally spontaneous buy because the canny people in the shop had whacked a sale rack alongside the till and it was only a tenner; I figured even if I got home and hated it, a tenner for a jumper is a bargain, particularly with all the credit-crunchy nonsense going on. Fortunately, I think it's reasonably awesome. Isn't 'Credit Crunch' a great name for a breakfast cereal?

The mug … well, I've got a bit of a thing for Starbucks seasonal mugs, and this is my third. Plus they gave me a free sample of Christmas blend. Lordy, I do love the Christmas blend.

I perched these on my sofa for more of a coffee shop type ambience.

The soap is pretty self explanatory. I needed some soap so I bought some. I got some Honey I Washed the Kids from Lush because it smells nice and makes my skin look good (which is possibly the most metrosexual thing I've ever said). Interestingly, after I'd paid and as the guy at the till was putting it in a bag, he paused and asked me if the price was alright. I instantly said "yes," because quite frankly if it wasn't I wouldn't have bought it, then thought that I should've said "no" and tried to wangle a discount or something.

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An aside:

The Lush soap I'm finishing up at the moment is interesting to say the least. It's called Porridge and has oats in it. Lots of oats. And it makes my sink filthy. Seriously, if I'd known it was going to be so messy and bitty I probably wouldn't have got it, because it adds at least two minutes to my morning routine as I try to clean the sink and pick the oats out of my ears and nose. I might as well just slam my face in a bowl of real porridge and be done with.
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And finally we come to the pen. I didn't need a new pen, it's just that I don't think I've ever seen a writing pen that writes in brown, and it sufficiently intrigued me enough to warrant a purchase. So now I have a brown pen. It makes it look like an ant with diarrhea ran across the page.

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All in all, then, a successful shopping expedition (for me). And it has given me some ideas of what to get other people for Christmas so I don't feel at all too bad about not actually buying any presents. 

Right, off to watch today's Gilmore Girls now. Apparently it made Willowc cry, so I might take a few minutes to erect* my manly defenses beforehand.


*You at the back - stop laughing. Tut.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Hangin'

So I'm off work this week and so far it's been a very enjoyable couple of days. And hopefully it's only going to get better from here on in.

Let's review, shall we?

Monday
This was the day that I actually sort of dread every year: MOT for my car - eek! OK, technically I'm being a bit of a drama queen here, but I was kind of burnt two years ago when my car went in for its first MOT and I ended up with a bill for 750 quid, which was a tad unexpected to say the least. 

OK, so it wasn't 750 smackers because the engine fell out onto a mechanic or something (which I would've been *really* pissed off about - at least the mechanic would've broken its fall though), but just because anything that could need replacing (i.e. tyres, brake pad, brake discs, that sorta thing) did need replacing. How nice of them to be so coordinated. 

Last year I distinctly recall bracing myself in the upright position for another massive bill, and was pleasantly surprised when it sailed through. But because of that I figured this year might be another expensive one.

So, I dropped my car into the dealer at about 08:20, then spent a good couple of hours talking Minis with the delightful sales lady I know. At one point she walked off to do something, and it's quite possible she came back to find me sitting in a Mini Clubman making "vroom-vroom" noises.

After that I walked to Uxbridge.

Now, the walk to Uxbridge takes a good 40 minutes or so, and this is with me still bearing the manky blisters inflicted on me last week by my posh shoes. I'd hoped they would've healed by now, and that me and posh shoes could be well on our way to reconciliation, but apparently that's not the case. On the plus side, I appear to have cruised through the both the bleeding and brown pus stages, and am now on light green pus; I hope to be at taupe by the end of the week.

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An aside:

On Facebook I've got a little Nike+ Mini-me thingy that is supposed to track my progress and inspire me to work harder when I go running; apparently it can go from cheering you on to chastising you when you don't run for a while. Obviously I've not done any running since buggering my feet up, and this is what I found him doing today.

Patronising little bastard.
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Anyway, I eventually made it to Uxbridge where I quickly came to the realisation that I've totally been spoilt by my brief trip to the Westfield shopping centre on Friday evening. Uxbridge has two shopping centres: one felt small and full of chavs, the other felt small and full of chavs and pound shops. I spent most of my time lurking in Starbucks regretting that I'd not seen fit to take my writing pad with me, and glancing over at some chavvy girl who was sitting in there drinking a milkshake she'd bought from some other shop down the street and giving evil looks to everyone around her.

My idea to start my Christmas shopping was nixed by the fact that I don't really know what to get people, and that HMV insists on charging outrageously high prices for things you can get online for a quarter of the price (and they wonder why people are deserting the high street?). On the other hand, as I began my walk back to the Mini dealer I did wonder who I could buy a massive tea cup and saucer for.

Two words: massive cups.

I walked incredibly slowly back to the dealers because last year when I did this I ended up sitting in there for another hour and a half or so because my car wasn't ready. To be honest, though, despite the pain in my feet I was actually enjoying the walk, and enjoying listening to some tunes on my iPhone.

When I eventually got back to the dealers I was surprised to see my car sitting outside, all sparkly and clean. This immediately filled me with hope because I'm not aware of any dealership that would valet a car before installing an entire new exhaust/rear subframe/gearbox. And - good times - it had passed its MOT. Doubly good times, in fact, because Yazzle Dazzle's motor - which I'm sure she won't mind me saying, has seen better days - sailed through its MOT and I would've been mortified if mine had failed.

*Phew*

Tuesday
Up early again today for a quick trip to Kingston to get my hair cut. If I'd done some forward thinking I actually could've had this done in Uxbridge because my regular girl is off so I'm not really terribly fussed who does my hair (as long as they're not a one-armed blind chimp with rage issues called 'Stabby'), but I didn't, so tough.

Anyway, I felt a little short-changed at first because the girl shampoo-ing me really skimped on the scalp massage bit, possibly because I anticipated the moment and looked like I was on the verge of having an aneurysm or something. Either way things perked up afterwards because I got into a fascinating conversation about religion with the lady cutting my hair. I know you shouldn't discuss either religion or politics in polite conversation, but when she called Jehovah's Witnesses "right weirdos" I couldn't help but tell her all about my favourite made-up religion, Scientology. I mean, really, if I was going to be religious in any way shape or form I'd totally be into Scientology. Any religion that lets you move things with the power of your mind and includes a fascinating story about an all-mighty alien called Xenu (Warrior Princess?) can't be all bad, right?

So, haircut. Now look, I'm actually a little bit nervous about breaking in a new hairdresser after so long with the same girl, but this one did alright (even if I did think she was going to go all Picasso on my right ear at one point). She actually went a bit shorter than I'd meant, but I've always wanted to try it short short, and it's still reasonably long enough that I can slap some product in it (when did we stop calling it gel/paste/putty/wax/mud) and make it all scruffy. Y'know, for when I'm trying to look all rascally.

After that I headed back to the car park, doing my utmost to avoid the shops (for reasons that will become apparent in just a little while). On the way I took a couple of photos:

This gull was just chilling by the Thames, which, incidentally, was a lovely brown colour today…

Look closely - is that a stealth boat?! Or something sent back from the future?! Whatever it is, it looks cool.

When I got home I faffed about for a while before finally deciding that, yes, I really did need to do some housework, and no, I couldn't put it off AGAIN. So I hoovered, mopped the floor downstairs (an unprecedented action based on the fact that my damp trainers left distinct footprints throughout the house on Saturday evening), and scrubbed the bathroom. To be honest it didn't actually take that long. I really should stop complaining about it.

And anyway, I totally just rewarded myself by sucking tea through three Tim Tams.

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OK, so tomorrow I'm off Christmas shopping with Sparky Ma.



HA! Christmas shopping!?! Get real - *snaps* - we're shopping for ourselves! And if all goes to plan tomorrow I shall be posting about the winning t-shirt in my 'vote for t-shirts!' competition! Not that it was really a competition, more like I'm so indecisive that I asked you lot to decide for me.

I do hope I don't end up having to use the familiar "they didn't have my size" excuse that Marcosy accuses me of using all the time… Anyway, if you haven't voted, vote now! It's every bit as important as that presidential thingy going on in that unimportant faraway land that few people have heard of!!