Saturday, September 30, 2006

Dragon's den

I want to post an opinion I have of a TV show called Dragon's Den: it's one of those shows that is easily transferable to any country (similar to The Apprentice) and I'm not quite sure in which country it originated. The format is that people with ideas for products or services (or who have small businesses already and want to enlarge) pitch a business plan to a panel of business experts in order to secure funding from them. The experts apparently are willing to put up a quarter of a million of their own money into these businesses to own a share of the profits.

OK, now you know the basic format. My problem with this show is that the experts are thoroughly unlikeable. They sit watching the pitch, eager to tear the poor victims apart. They are predatory, each circle, trying to find weaknesses in their prey so that they can make a killing. Get a slice of something for nothing. They're greedy and nasty and ugly. It's like licensed bull baiting, except the bull is a sheep in this case (though not literally I might add).

I do find myself watching though, as these thoughts go through my head. I think I watch for the reactions of the victims, it's awful to admit it but I want to see them react badly. Either just disintegrate into vegetables or get angry and hotheaded and storm out under the abuse dished out by the trolls.

It's nasty TV. Watchable. Addictive. Grrrr

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Strange Week

It's been a strange sort of week. I was on the phone to a friend with a PC problem and after I hung up I found that my modem was, well, dead. I couldn't get through to order a replacement, trying up until I went to bed at 20 after midnight. I was up before 6am and got through after a couple of tries. I think the support call centre is based in India and I haven't any idea what the time difference is. The replacement came, today thank God. I forget how reliant me and my wife have become on it - even though it's not been that long ago since we had trouble before.

Now I'm looking forward to catching up on my favourite blogs...


I've been off-air since Monday night, when my modem stopped working. Replacement arrived today! More on this later this evening...

Monday, September 25, 2006

Manic Monday

It's just another Manic Monday...

Funny how a line pops into your head the minute you sit down at the keyboard and start typing isn't it? Well, I'm itching to start editing my face off. I bought a 250GB external HD at the weekend and I have hours of video on miniDV to capture and edit. The eventual goal is to create DVDs of the hours of footage we have shot. To be honest with you, I think a good film editor could probably cut the lot down to half an hour without seeing to lose anything important. But home video is like that I think, there have been times I've left the camera running without realising it was still taping. But fortunately I don't have any embarassing "up the skirt" footage shot that way!

My blog posting average has gone down a bit lately. I think that's due to my wife bringing more work home. Now my daughter is getting into The Sims too. I am beginning to think we need a rota. What we really need is a laptop and wireless internet but I can't see me getting that what with the new electricity bill we've just had. I'm convinced we're running the streetlamps off our meter. How did we use so much juice since June I'd like to know? It's getting ridiculous, I'll have to start putting timer switches on the plugs: "you can only read in bed between 9pm and 10:30pm dear, I'm sorry. Rules is rules." What do we run? We have a fridge, a TV, a PC and the lights. The boiler is gas. The cooker is gas. There's the dryer....ah, the dryer. Don't get me started....

A friend of mine has a PC problem that I'm trying to help him with. He can't boot his computer. It's like this: you have a PC, it runs Windows, at some point it's gonna break. You need to make a few preparations for when that day comes people! Preparation means less perspiration, especially true when having to sit through hour upon hour of Windows progress meters. Backup your important data regularly. Backup your browser favourites, email accounts info, address book, everything you can. Buying a backup hard drive is a good idea, especially now they're cheap. All so when that day comes (and it will come) that you need to reinstall Windows, you can do it without breaking into a cold sweat.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Channel Hopper

Last week I watched Rock Star Supernova and was strangely drawn to watching it - I was actually disappointed to turn it on last night only to find out it was just the last 5 minutes. I don't consider myself above this kind of show, over the years I've watched different series like Pop Idol, X Factor, Fame Academy and at times have watched the American versions too. Simon Cowell usually livens things up with his criticisms, his attitude reminds me of my brother in many ways even though he looks quite different. Anyway, back to Rock Star Supernova I think the reason I liked it was that I like rock music and I like the idea of contestants coming up with their own lyrics and songs. Fame Academy did a similar type of thing (remember Alex Parks anyone?). Lukas won the Rock Star Supernova finale (sorry if thats a spoiler), I'm a little surprised he won but I guess he did have something sparky about him (and a bit annoying if I'm honest).
On TV tonight there's a show hosted by Big Brother's Big Mouth (BBBM) presenter and tabloid celeb Russell Brand. He's always having it off with birds in dirty sleazy kiss and tell stories, if you read the tabloids and you can't always believe what you read can you? He doesn't seem to take himself too seriously, which is an endearing quality. Well, I watched BBBM and thought it was quite funny the first few times but after a while I sort of thought actually it's not as funny as I thought - I think it was Russell just saying stuff to be rude that did it for me. I guess the new show will be just a platform for him to do more of the same, we'll see.
On the music front I heard Graham Coxon's album Love Travels At Illegal Speeds today and thought it was very good, sort of guitar power pop like the best that Blur can play - not surprising since he was a Blur guitarist/songwriter for 7 albums.
I also see that the film Battle Royale is on one of the Freeview channels tonight, FilmFour I think. It's a great film, it's on really late though unfortunately.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Lost Day Ramblings

It was one of those days today. My computer was not working how it should so I had to make alternative working arrangements while waiting for the IT people to call me back. In the end I called them but even then they didn't fix it. I needed my computer today too, so I feel as though I haven't got as stuck into all the work piled up for me as I should have. What can you do?

My weekend was quite good though. We got a dance mat and some Dancing Stage software for the PS2. My wife was telling me about this lady who lost something like 4 stone quite quickly by a combination of diet and exercise on her son's dance mat. I can believe it, it does help you work up a sweat. I was surprised that the software had a workout mode that records your weight and tells you how many calories you burned off during a session. I was so impressed I bought another dance mat so that two of us can compete. Maybe that was excessive - just think how I'd explain it to the paramedic if one of us slipped and fell! But at least my daughter and her friends can play together.

I've been watching a few episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm recently, it's good. I'm not sure why I've never really watched it before.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Spooky: Part 2

This clip is a bit longer, about 10 minutes, but I hope you stick with it as it's worth it. I watched it on TV and it was one of those moments when I thought "this is going too far"! It's actually quite terrifying and you'll look at video games with a fresh eye and it might just give you nightmares.

Part of me is fascinated by this stuff. I can't believe he actually pulled this off. It is all explained in the end and the guy involved is alright afterwards but for a few minutes, believe me, you'll be concerned.


My wife likes to refer to Derren Brown as her second husband! I'm not sure what Derren would think, it's possible he would be flattered. I like Derren, I've actually been to see his stage show and it is truly amazing. I think I can understand my wife's attraction, there is an allure to people who have crafted their skills to such a refined level. I've seen several series by Derren on the TV and some of the stuff he does you think you've seen before - just like he's taken an old trick and changed it a little - but then he takes it into a completely new direction and the performance goes someplace you didn't expect. Sometimes things go out of control and you know that if you were there you would be shaking! I enjoy that kind of terror.

For your entertainment, I've selected two examples of Derren's work to illustrate what I mean. The first of these clips is shorter and is chilling in a spooky way but isn't terrifying. I'll post my other example in the next post.

Monday, September 11, 2006


I was having a quick snack break tonight, a few Ritz crackers and cream cheese. I peeled back the top of the cream cheese and there it was, that little bit of cheese dew that forms a little sour pool of liquid on top. Does that stuff have a name? I'll invent one:


(Hope that's not already used).

Music Update

I've been listening a lot to new music, courtesy of:
  • The Alternative Music Show (podcast)
  • iTunes free download of the week
  • KCRW Today's Top Tune (podcast)
  • NME (occasional free CDs)
  • Q Magazine (occasional free CDs)
We also got a DAB radio a few weeks ago, so I have that next to my bed and I like to wake up to Alice Cooper's morning show - rock is great wake me up music.

I've enjoyed Stars of CCTV by Hard Fi recently, it's a great album.
The new Bob Dylan CD is great, got it last week.
I also enjoyed the Scandinavian metal of In Flames' CD titled Come Clarity.
I've been listening to Shakira's Oral Fixation vol. 2 as well, it's good.
Snow Patrol's Eyes Open album is great for singing along to.

CDs still to hear this week include Editors - Back Room and Cerys Matthews - Never Said Goodbye.


Love, peace and respect to those who were there and those who lost loved ones.

Five years and it still seems utterly unbelievable to me.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


On the train home tonight, someone had left a photo glossy magazine on a seat behind me, Heat I think it was called. I was falling asleep reading my book, so I decided to retrieve it and give it a read through. It's not the kind of magazine I would buy, but I quite like a skim while at the doctors surgery for example.

Instead of it showing great photos of celebrities looking their best it contained papparazzi style photos of celebrities looking horrid. Some were of fashion disasters at premiers or parties. Most unpleasant, even photos of ladies underwear showing as they were getting out of cars.

One shot of Julia Roberts was particularly bad, showing her with no make-up and with a bad hair day. It destroyed my illusions.

I like stars. To me they are beyond normal human beings. I'm not saying they can't be nasty people but to an ordinary citizen they are icons of coolness or sexuality. I don't want to see the colour of their knickers as they make an unceremonious exit from a taxi cab. I want them to be beautiful, I want to suspend my disbelief and keep them fresh in my mind - unsullied by normal duties like parking the car or carrying a carrier bag from a grocery store.

So I shall avoid certain magazines in future. And why do they foster this type of naff photo by paying snappers thousands of pounds for photos that show people looking bad. The world is quite sick sometimes.

Stranger Etiquette

I've heard it said that men think about sex every minute of the day. I'm not sure of the research provenance of that claim but its an interesting thought, the implication of the claim is that women think about sex a lot less than that. I wonder whether that is true or not?

As I go about my travels I often look at women. It's at a very superficial level and while I don't fantasize in a sexual way I do often think how would I ever make some connection to this person? What would I say to make her smile? I guess it's some kind of insecurity on my part, a need to be liked. What always happens is that she walks on by and leaves my thoughts. Once, I was on a tube train and opposite sat a lady who I thought had a very pretty face - she was not young and not old, maybe thirty or just a year younger I guess. I left the train and somehow I found I was standing on an escalator with her just behind me. Something came over me, a desire to move out of my comfort zone of not talking to strangers - especially pretty women. I told her she had a very pretty face and she thanked me. I said no more and continued on my way, glad that I had made some sort of brief connection, I hope she dined out for a while on a stranger saying that. Perhaps, she instantly forgot it. I have urges to do similar things and I struggle to control them knowing that probably I'd make a fool of myself and also likely I would offend or a comment would be misconstrued in some way. It's safer not to talk to strangers but is safety always a good thing?

Monday, September 04, 2006

A Little Reading...

Over the last three years I've developed an enjoyment of the novels of Tom Clancy and various spin-off series. I'm not a fast reader so I don't get through nore than about 10 books of a fairly lengthy size a year. I wish I read faster but a combination of slow reading speed and competing amount of leisure time available puts a limit on the volume I can get through. I rarely buy a new book these days, if I do it's usually not fiction but either for work or for personal development or it's a biography. I buy secondhand fiction and try to buy series to start at the beginning (not always possible). I keep a stock of books to read in the future, which I just got down from the loft and to my astonishment there are 40 novels! Cripes, that's 4 years of reading!! The shot below is the collection I have to get through. It's a bit intimidating isn't it?
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I don't hang onto them when I've read them, which my wife is grateful for, as I rarely re-read a book. I don't really see the point of re-reading novels but I do re-watch films so I guess the principle is the same but I just don't do it. Maybe because I'm a fairly slow reader it is always more appealing to read a new book than to re-read an old one.

I've just finished a book and you can read my review of it on my Multiply site here. I'd be interested to hear about your reading habbits and what your reading at the moment. I've just started Rainbow Six by Tom Clancy, which was the first Tom Clancy novel I bought (I wanted to read them in order) - bought following enjoying playing the computer game.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Back From Hols

I've returned from my holiday and have almost recovered! We all had a great time, the stay at the B and B was good and the people there were really friendly and nice to us. We were very lucky with the weather because end of August can be very wet but this time all of the days we were away were nice and sunny, there was some breeze but for the days we were on the beach it was hot, sunny and generally very pleasant. I can only stand so much beach time, so I'm glad everyone was happy to do something different on the last day. My wife doesn't want photos of the kids up on the net so that kind of restricts what I can show of our holiday but here are a few. The wooden frog sculpture was in the middle of a maze in this enormous adventure park calle Moors Valley Park and the beach shots are of Bournemouth beach - I don't know if they convey this but the beaches were fairly empty, clean and very pleasant. I'm happy we went when we did, I think we'd all like to go back and do some other stuff as there is so much to do. We walked several miles each day and my legs are still aching a bit. The nice thing about this holiday is that I feel like I've been away plus I have the added bonus of not having to return to work until Thursday. Yippee!
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