'Dave says NO to war'
This list of banners spotted at the London peace demo has just been circulated at work. I felt it would be mean not to share them with you.

'Make Tea, not War'
'Down with this sort of thing'
'Flutemakers against the war - Vivaldi not Violence'!
'F*ck off Bush You C*nt'
'George Bush Smells Of Poo'
'Whack Your Sack, No War In Iraq - M*sturbate For Peace'
'Oil is thicker than blood, and George Bush is thicker than oil'
'24 hour peaceful people'
'Mancs against Tanks'
Front: pic of Bush's face with caption, 'Nasty Bush'. Back: pic of a lady's front bottom with 'Nice Bush'
'There's a village in Texas missing an idiot'
A women holding a banner up with a merkin (pubic wig) attached and text saying 'The only Bush I trust is my own'
'What the f*ck is going on'
'Dave says NO to war'
'It's amazing what a man will do for Bush'
'Sex Workers of the World Unite against War!'
'Grannies And Grandads Against The War'
'Dykes In Black Against The War'
'Hell Spawn Are In The White House'
'We're not very chuffed about this'
'Don't Be So Silly'
'Drop Knickers Not Bombs'
'Sad G!t Spent Valentine's Day Making This Banner'
'Empty Warhead' (caption superimposed on pic of Bush)
'Blessed are the cheesemakers'
'M*sturbate for Peace! Give Bush the finger'.
'Stick it up your dirty bush'
'Drop Acid, not bombs'
'Dubya, ye fecker' (at Dublin protest)
Bearded guy holding up a 'f*ck men with beards' banner
'George Bush has a small PEN!S'
'Bald Is Beautiful - No Bush'
'Stop this mad cowboy disease'
'WAR? Never. PEACE? Clever. POETRY? Forever!'
'Smoke Bush, not Iraq'
'We shaved our pubic hair: Read our lips: No Bush'
'Fight plaque not Iraq' (on a big toothbrush)
'Clotted cream not ruptured spleen - Cornish ravers against the war'
'Down with this sort of thing' (on picture of plane dropping bombs) - Dublin protest
'Queer pagans against the war'
'Hedgehogs for peace'
'Legalise cannabis. OOPS WRONG DEMO'


Planning a trip? Use this helpful guide for inspiration on what to do and where to visit while you're away. And it's not just for foreign trips - it has just as much use in your home town. :)
Top tips
When using sealant foam to fill wall cavities, avoid getting the stuff on your fingers or other parts of your body as it makes the skin very sticky. It's also almost certainly made from methylethylbadstuff. Can't offer any tips on actually getting the stuff off your fingers if you're careless enough to do so, because neither myself nor anyone else who did actually succeeded in losing it completely. Consequently we'll all have grubby, grey fingertips for several days. I suppose I could always pass it off as frostbite.

I'm in the position to share this knowledge because yesterday was spent helping Robin, Lindsey and Sue move from their flat and office in the East End out to their new work/life combo habitat out in Wapping. Eighty per cent of the area is given over to living quarters, with the remainder acting as the new HQ for Pixelfish.

It's an incredibly cool space in an old Thames-side warehouse, the kind of place that you see in plenty of movies and TV dramas, occupied by smooth detectives or hotshot lawyers. Until now I suspected they were all sets, because nobody in real life ever seems to live in such a place. It's also no more than 50 yards from a public house which serves very drinkable ale. Of course, all this contributed to yesterday's silence here.

Everyone's adapting to the newfound space in their own way: Lindsey's infatuated with being able to skateboard around her flat, Sue's got grand designs on the layout of the furniture, and Bobs is just enjoying the realisation of the unlikely scenario of being even closer to the office than in their last place. And of course all of them are enjoying the absence of the trains and hookers that surrounded the old flat. The only slight worry is the plan to install optics in the kitchen - it could lead to some very interesting Pixelfish board meetings!

Pop round and see them some time... :)


PseudoDictionary NOW!
ingreedyments - (n) The ingredients of any dish that appeals to the voracious appetite of gluttons, gourmands, or trenchermen.

e.g., Tom wolfed down his entire birthday cake, then went straight to the chef to obtain the ingreedyments.
Everything seems to be falling to pieces... including me.

Last night's planned ramble was rudely aborted due to the technical stuff at BT going fubar. Broadband stopped working completely. I smelt a fish when I was downlaoding an episode of ER at a rate of approximately 1kb per second (for those who are DSL:-challenged, I've been able to hit 50kb before now). A quick speed test revealed me to be connected at 42k - or regular modem speed. And then it died altogether. Kaput!

Then this morning, waiting to provide a live stream of Geoff Hoon for the good people of the world, entirely without provocation my nose decided to erupt in a bloody mess. I think it's my first nosebleed in five and a half years.

Not that you needed to know about it, but it did remind me of the first time I saw Reservoir Dogs. To cut a long story short, the friends I went to the cinema with had a truly interactive experience. About half way through the movie, with Tim Roth writhing in a pool of oxyhaemoglobin, my own blood decided to come out in sympathy. I missed about 20 minutes of the film coping with the unwelcome exsanguination, which narked me no end at the time. (FYI this was also the day that heralded the beginning of The Infatuation).

Recollecting it now, though, I'm sure Quentin Tarantino would be pleased to see his art and audience in such harmony.


I'm back. Dog tired, but back. Wise to the ways of the union, dog tired, and back.

More later, when I'm capable of thought. You seem able to cope in my absence.:)


It's all gone quiet over there...
As people seemed to lost the art of conversation around these parts, it's perhaps serendipitous that I've got to go to Grantham for a couple of days. (Home of the Thatch - the things I do for this job). I'm off to get knowledged up for the union, so probably won't be able to post anything for a couple of days.

Let's see what 48 hours of Ben-flavoured cold turkey does to your tongues. ;)

(Already wishing I hadn't typed that last sentence.)
Reasons I love the Net no.342:
Inspired... :)

Write Your Own Jerry Springer Script
If you're a woman click here. Men use this link.


Thought emerging from an e-mail conversation with Jen about the nature of compliments:

How many single-edged swords have been invented and just how much use would one actually be anyway? Give me two edges any day.

Currently playing 24/7:
Hard to Handle - Otis Redding
For What It's Worth - The Cardigans
Round Round - Sugababes
California Soul - Undisputed Truth
Days Go By - Dirty Vegas
Automatic - Sarah Whatmore (this just has to be a Janet Jackson track)
Lava - Silversun
Experience Hendrix: The best of Jimi Hendrix
Dirty cash
You'd have thought that with the amount of eulogising that goes on about the great American dollar that it would be something the money men of the US wanted to cosset and cherish. After all, the US, with its constantly changing landscape and culture, has very little else to actually hold on to. But apparently the need for change that oozes from America's soul is felt even within the mighty Fed.

The US Treasury's introduction of the NexGen dollar involves significant redesigns of the various denominations of dollar bill. Essentially an effort to increase the security of the currency and counter counterfeiting, the Treasury is taking advantage of the process to increase differences between notes of different value. One of the measures to be used will be the introduction of subtle background colours across the range of bills, which they say will also help ease confusion over notes of different value.

All this makes me deeply unhappy. Despite the fact that it embodies all that is evil in the corporate world, I'm actually very fond of the dollar. You could almost say I loved it. Not so much its status as its physical form: the size, the texture, the colour, and the smell. Ah yes, especially the smell. Although I'm not a great worshipper of mammon, I can't deny a little buzz of excitement every time I get a whiff of a greenback. And the masochist in me actually enjoys having to pay attention to which notes I'm handing over, lest I pony up something far wide of the mark.

Maybe it's just because it's different from the boring old pound that does it for me, but I can't think of another currency that makes me feel the same way. I've no French fancy for the Euro, no desire to crown the Krona. Cold, hard cash doesn't tend to float my boat.

Much more likely are the good times in the States that the dollar brings back to me, and surely I'll always have those, no matter what the look and feel of the currency.

But I still can't help feeling that if they change the notes too much, they'll ruin all this for me, and many other who value it far higher than I ever could.

Or is that the point? Is Wall Street's respect for the country's cultural heritage so scant that it's even willing to forsake the icon upon which it was built? I hope not.

Big old chardonnay socialist that I am, I still can't help but love the dollar.

Please, boys, don't fuck with the buck.
Where do most people stand on flatmates who make a racket when they stumble in half-cut at four in the morning, knowing full well that someone else in the house has to wake up at 5 in order to go to work, and that they might actually want the extra hour's sleep they've just been deprived of due to loud conversations in the sitting room and general clanky preparation of food in the kitchen? Answers and opinions in e-mail form to duirwyn at yahoo dot co dot uk.


Middle East tyrant giving you the Blues?

Those brainy guys at Microsoft have the answer.


The price of nice
Before I managed to drag myself out of the flat this afternoon, I idly switched on the television to see if anything presented a good enough case for me not venturing into the outside world. As it was the middle of the afternoon, and with Diagnosis Murder taking a break at the moment, perhaps unsurprisingly there wasn't

However, what did catch my eye was a new show on ITV called "The Intervention". My skin crawled at the title alone. It's so, so, so... interventionist! So anti-libertarian, apart from anything else. But how could I not just give it five minutes of my time?

Big mistake.

The basic premise is that this oleaginous, interfering, shit-talking, and most likely disingenuous Irish counsellor (who subsequent research shows to be a Harley Street practitioner called Beechy Colcough, and whose nationality is included only to give you a full picture of the demon we're dealing with) - who's obviously meant to be something of a celebrity among those with "issues" - spends half an hour telling someone what's wrong with them, whether they want to hear it or not. He pokes his nose in for the good of the patient, without caring how they might feel about this uninvited impromptu counselling session. Beechy also manages to conduct himself in quite the most condescending manner I've ever seen on TV.

(I'm aware of the many parallels there are between what I've just written about Beechy and Tony Blair's government, but that's a separate issue.)

Today's victim, sorry, client was Rik Waller, the very fat contestant from Pop Idol, who was being told by the therapist and his own family why he had to lose weight in order to love himself and stop seeking approval and fulfilment in other people's opinions of him.

I won't deny that Rik is probably in great need of this kind of therapy (nor that I probably relate to one or two of the issues), but does it have to be on national television? If anything I'd have thought that would make the poor boy feel worse. He's already tried confronting his tubby turmoil on telly once before (in the endearingly-titled 'Fat Club') and that, if anything, appeared to set him back.

What rubbed me up the worst, though, was Beechy's constant repetition of the phrase that he felt best embodied Rik's poor state of health and how it was caused by his search for self-worth in other people. "that's the price of nice, Rik. The price of nice."

What? What's the price? Being fat? Feeling shit? How exactly has that moved anyone on? That, and a couple of good connections, were the most Beechy was able to offer Rik. Therapy in a soundbite. Kounsel-U-Kwik - mental massage while you wait. A half-hour of drivel that probably hasn't helped anyone save Beechy's bank balance and, hopefully, the therapee.

My point? I don't think there is one, other than the fact I had to share the rage. And maybe that's enough. Thomas always says I get angry about the small things so I don't have to confront the big issues - maybe that's true. In the meantime, one of the functions of this blog, and you people who read it, are my therapy. I'm not feeling down, I just wanted to say thank you for putting up with me. Please just don't ever call yourselves Beechy.
PseudoDictionary NOW!

A much-awaited warm welcome back for this old favourite in its new guise. To celebrate the return of the PseudoDic to Mutterings, here's a very special entry. Well special to me as it's my own. Feel free to use it at your leisure. :)

arachnectomy - (n) Intricate, humane operation to remove a spider from the bath or shower as it is acting as an unwelcome barrier to personal hygiene. Best accomplished with toilet paper or, for those brave enough, by hand.

e.g., "Sorry I'm late. I had to perform an emergency arachnectomy before I could shower."


Reasons to be cheerful
1. Quality television is back on our screens. With The West Wing underway, a new day for 24 starting within hours, and new series of ER and Six Feet Under just around the corner, the barren days of winter TV are over once again. There may be several months to wait for fresh Buffy, but I can get by until then on the very best America has to offer.

2. There's a new Cardigans album out in March. Yay!

3. On Saturday, for the first time in many years, the nation spoke with a powerful voice. Between one and two million people converged on London to tell the government that they did not want to go to war against Iraq. Never during peacetime has the country seen such a strong expression of opinion. Although I could not be there, I tried to do my part by giving another mass media outlet to many of the speakers at the Hyde Park rally.

We all realise that Saddam may be a tyrant and a torturer with a deeply disturbed psyche, but war is not the answer. With every speech he makes stressing the need to act against Iraq Tony Blair takes another step towards a political precipice. By aligning himself so closely to George Bush on an issue that so many are so strongly opposed to he is gambling with his position as leader of the country.

It is not enough for the country to have protested on this one day. Each day between now and the night Bush launches his military campaign in the name of profit and personal vendetta cloaked in self-righteous propaganda we must remind the government how the country feels, whether by word or by deed.

And when war does come, as it surely and tragically will, it will be up to us to hold Blair accountable for his actions. We cannot be complacent and let him get away with committing this country to an unjust conflict, especially without the backing of the international community. We must make him pay for his cowardice in the shadow of a belligerent and illegitimate American administration.

But Saturday was a good day. Let's make it count for something while we can.


Tonight I bought a pint of beer for a better paid man who'd promised me a drink, but received nothing in return. It sums up my day and how I'm feeling now.

For some people out there - many people in fact - 14th February holds a deeply important meaning. Even someone reading this might feel that it's their own special day. One just has to look at the blogs of people like Jen to see that they're sharing their life with someone special - and I couldn't be happier for them or wish them a better day. Mum and Dad, on the other hand, had their plans for this evening ruined because our kid was an hour late getting into London, and the disappointment in mum's voice was almost tangible. That snafu, in turn, probably ruined the plans Thomsk and Jane had. Still, one out of three ain't bad.

But as a colleague of mine observed this evening, as she was missing out on romance with her life partner, Valentine's Day just seems to be there to make those who are single or unhappy (or possibly both) feel even more insignificant than they usually do. The fact that this same colleague is one of three women at work I'd quite happily make great sacrifices for just gave the comment extra emotional weight.

For just once in my life I want one of the people I want to want me too. Apart from the aforementioned colleague (hereafter known as The Fencer), there's also The Elf, and The Woman. The Elf is interesting in that, when it comes down to it, she's probably the one I feel most comfortable with and fancy the most. But even though I don't think she's with anyone, she's got to be way out of my league.

The Woman, on the other hand, is much more complex. While less like my "type" than either of the other two, there's an electricity between us. I'm assured by friends that it's not just my imagination, that they see a connection there much stronger than she has with her boyfriend. Certainly the way she acts towards me in the office does nothing to persuade me otherwise.

But there's that B word. Of course it's a barrier. So long as he's there I can't be the one to make the first move. And that's an obstacle I just can't get over.

Of course, not having asked a woman out since the beginning of The Infatuation doesn't exactly help my technique, let alone confidence. Not only am I not in the game, I don't even understand the sport. Jim joked in one of his comments that he didn't want to cast me as nice. Too late, I replied, women have had me down as the anti-bastard dependable friend for years. I'm the wrong kind of animal to go and contest the spoils when faced with an alpha male - or even an omega one, if they rank them that low.

And here's where that pint of beer comes into play. I worked an extra two hours tonight, just to make sure that a piece of media for the site would be the best it possibly could. Someone else could probably have done the work (necessitated by a very late change of mind by the powers that be) on top of their other duties, but the Assistant Editor on duty asked me as I already had my head round the project whether I'd mind polishing the job off. Of course, I said I'd do it.

Towards the end of the extra hours, while he was swanning off to the bar with other colleagues who'd actually been in the office seven hours fewer than me anyway, he popped his head round the door of our technical area and said he felt duty bound to get me a drink. I said thanks, that I'd be down as soon as I'd finished, which should be no more than 15 minutes off.

Fifteen became 45 (partly due to the slight family drama that was borne out of Joshua's late arrival in town), but I eventually made it to the Club to find the Fencer had already bought me a drink. This first quickly despatched, it was time for the Promised Pint. Scrabbling in his pockets, the man could only sheepishly muster two pounds. He pushed the coin towards me, asking me to take it in lieu. Then the Fencer asked him whether he was staying for another. Yup, of course. And it seemed that with one of the three at the table already having bought drinks, and the other scratching round for coppers, it was down to me. So what had been the offer of a reward for extra hard work and dedication to the cause became an extra six quid out of my pocket.

It's not the money I mind, though. It's the fact that I submitted to a more powerful male at the first hint of a contentious social situation. I can take them on in office politics and matters of journalistic import, so why am I unwilling to fight for a much higher prize? Until I can answer that question, no one will want to share their life with me in the way I need to share it with another.

On the tube on the way home, a man wrapped in blankets was pleading with the other passengers. "Please. Help me, I'm homeless. I've got Aids so I can't work. I just want a cup of tea. It's so cold. I'm HIV positive. I've only got a couple of years left. I just want a cup of tea. Please."

Of course in this cold, hardened city he got no response, just the steely rejection of people too wrapped up in their own worlds to care for those apparently less fortunate than themselves. And for one of very few times in my life, I was one of those people. I felt no sympathy for this man, writing him off as a conman just out to make a quick buck out of gullible commuters. I felt nothing but contempt and resentment that he'd invaded my private self-pity with his far more basic problems. It's not a feeling I enjoyed, and one I'm going to try to fight, but it spoke volumes about this most disillusioning of days.

Although it's almost over, Happy Valentine's everyone. I mean it. Ben.x.
Dolly the sheep - the first animal to be cloned from an adult cell - has died. The decision was taken to euthanise the six-year-old sheep after she was diagnosed with a progressive lung disease. A minute's silence please...
Word fans rejoice
There's a new look to an old favourite on the blog!!

Due to the popularity of PseudoDictionary Word of the Day strand we're rebranding and relaunching it, changing it from its old daily slot to become more of a movable feast, scheduled strategically for maximum enjoyment. All this work, no expenses spared, just for your benefit!!!

The staff here at Mutterings are very excited about this new way forward, and hope you continue to enjoy the feature.

So prepare for the first exciting edition of PseudoDictionary Now!, coming to your browser later today.

(NB.Any allegations that this change is due to the high maintenance required by a daily feature are completely unfounded.)


Take a sad song and make it better
Well, as some people already know last night got a little messy but very entertaining. You can really blame the godforsaken performance by England's starting XI for the most of it. Quite what they were doing, I don't know. England 1, Australia 3? That's not right! Football was the one sport we had left in which the Australians couldn't humiliate us. This is all wrong! :(

I've seen and heard some criticism of Sven's policy of substituting everyone at halftime, but that's really missing the point and putting the blame for the defeat on the youngsters. The new generation showed much more spirit and style than the starters, and I think a few of that first choice line-up took a great step towards the international wilderness, David James, Frank Lampard and James Beattie in particular. James and Lampard should never have been there, while Beattie looks much like another Kevin Phillips. Unfortunately little Mikey Owen is in such poor form at the moment and Kieron Dyer, while in great shape for the Toon, showed once again that he's wasted on the left wing.

What made it worse was the fact that we were watching the whole shower in Little Oz, as the Bayswater area of London has become. The banter between Oz and Pom was very good natured, but now the smug bastards have the whole lot.

So feeling the need to drown our sorrows, we decided to carry on drinking after the end of the match. Devoid of any other ideas, Joe's suggestion of a late-night bar run by one of the local backpackers' hostels was decided on as the venue for the rest of the night.

It's one of the worst places I've ever had to drink.

But we were determined to make the best of it, and Thomsk and his new mate Nathan decided the bar's karaoke machine was the way forward. Nathan's moving rendition of Don't Let the Sun go down on me was the tip of a very unnerving iceberg. The pair of them hogged the mic - and the young travellers just couldn't get enough. Their repertoire over the next couple of hours drew in such diverse influences as Oasis, Gorillaz and Otis Redding, and yours truly doing Stuck in the Middle (albeit the backing track being Louise's inferior version).

Of course every gig needs a rousing finale, an old favourite singalong for the punters, and nothing fits the bill quite like "Hey Jude". Those young things from across the globe never knew what hit them. We pumped them up and rocked their world. Closing time came and went, the karaoke machine was switched off, and still the knapsack of travellers (collective noun) were singing "Na na na nanana naaaaa, nanana naaaaa, Hey Jude", a good ten minutes after we'd finished the song. It was beautiful!

To make things even better, Thomas and Nathan were judged to have won the night's karaoke competition and given the grand prize of... a day trip around the historic sites of the west of England, taking in Bath, Oxford and Stonehenge. There must be several dozen hung over and bitter Antipodean backpackers out there today, cursing the pair of local chancers who wooed their rightful laurels away from them.

Dreadful, overpriced drinks, awful clientele, disgusting decor, and deeply tacky music... I dare say we'll be going there again.
This'll make you chuckle: "Jedi" has been officially recognised as a valid response in the Religion section of the UK's 2001 national census. More details here. Can't beat the headline...


Works notice
I'm about to commence work on getting my archive system in order. As you can see, it's currently top of the left hand column, archived week by week. I hope I'm not alone in observing that pretty soon it's going to be a rather long list.

So, being the good information manager I was trained to be, I've decided to nip it in the bud and set up something much tidier which won't clutter up the front page.

This may well lead to things being ugly and fubar. My apologies for any inconvenience this may cause. Normal service should resume very shortly (with a bit of luck!).
PseudoDictionary word of yesterday: - with apologies!
talkabout - (n) the point in a conversation where the person talking ignores the proper protocol of fair exchange and goes on a seemingly endless verbal journey. From the aboriginal word for journey, "walkabout." (Some of these people end up in politics and some on talk shows.)

e.g., I knew I was doomed to be late when, speaking about her grandchildren, she went on a talkabout.

COMING SOON: A very special Word of the Day


Warning:the following blog entry contains strong language from the beginning
Fucking Oscars! Once again the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has shown itself to be comprised of a stupid bunch of fucking clownshoes. If there was ever any argument that supported the Academy's credibility and independence from the studio system, it's now been completely dashed to smithereens.

By totally stonewalling the wonderful Punch Drunk Love, the Academy has ignored a film which best embodies the institution's title, one of the most genuinely creative cinematic releases of the last 12 months.

Paul Thomas Anderson's movie shines in both the artistic and scientific senses, with a career-redefining central performance from Adam Sandler, magnificent support from the rest of the cast, mesmerising direction and visual style from Anderson and crew, and even a soundtrack to die for. Isn't this the kind of film that should be celebrated by the Academy, the alleged elite of Hollywood?

No. Instead, AMPAS goes for the films that fall within its expectations. Sure, the academy members are happy to do worthy, giving nods to the likes of Roman Polanski's "The Pianist" and Stephen Daldry's "The Hours", and they're perfectly at home with blockbusters that have a certain amount of artistic credibility (Messrs Scorsese and Jackson, take a bow). And of course there's nothing they like more than an old favourite back on form, like Jack Nicholson or Michael Caine.

And all of these are good with, if anything, a more serious but less worthy bent than in recent years. Some of the films up for awards I've enjoyed watching very much. And although I've not seen everything, for once I can't see a seriously shoddy film on any of the major shortlists. So what's the gripe?

The thing is that all of the above think inside the box, to use a quaint but popular piece of management speak. None of them does anything that threw the Academy off balance.

The problem Oscar has with films like Punch Drunk Love (and last year The Royal Tenenbaums) is that they don't fall within the Academy's expectations. Much like with Jim Carrey in "The Truman Show" they think that if they reward Adam Sandler for his performance he'll get ideas about being a serious actor, and start stealing parts from bigger names with lesser talents. And that can't be allowed to happen.

Sandler's a golden boy, a cash cow for the studios, pulling in hundreds of millions of lovely dollars in the States with the particular brand of zany, loser-made-good comedy he's made his own. Even though he doesn't have quite the same following overseas, Adam's got to be kept in his box. Otherwise the public might go off him and studio heads would roll.

As for Anderson, he's shown that he doesn't have any respect for Hollywood. What does he think he's doing making a movie that requires people to think, not just feel. I mean, come on, the French loved him, so that proves his weird shit is screwed up.

No, Punch Drunk Love might have pleased the Europeans, but it didn't make money, wasn't a tortured genius biopic, and sure as hell didn't do any execs any favours, so any Oscar would be a waste of gold.

And that, more than anything, just wouldn't be right.

So give your statues out, dear Academy, and revel in your night of self-congratulation. It'll be a celebration of film for certain, doubtless a spectacle like every other year, and some very talented people will be rightly lauded. Just please don't pretend that anyone should take you seriously, or that you yourselves are committed to stretching Hollywood's boundaries, because you're not.

To paraphrase Kevin Smith, "Fuck the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Fuck them up their stupid asses."


PseudoDictionary word of the day:

blivet - (n) ten pounds of crap in a 5-pound bag. Australian military slang. Useless, unnecessary, annoying. A distasteful job. www.blivet.com.

e.g., "That jerk of a boss just dumped another blivet on me."
I'm sure I wanted to rant about something, but four hours' sleep and a 10-hour shift has left me rather bereft of ideas. You'll have to excuse me while I sort my head out. One of these days I'm going to ramble on about The Woman...


PseudoDictionary word of the day:
phipenky - (adj.) - fishy, messed up, weird.

e.g., "You have the same answers as Lauryn on your quiz... something is phipenky here."
Relationship Corner: Couples Counselling by the Single Man
What on earth is it that possesses couples to buy matching outfits? You know the kind I mean. Most commonly, they're to be found in the form of identical shell suits or mountaineering anoraks. All too often you'll see the smitten individuals, young and old, kitted out in congruent cagoules, wearing their lover's colours all too evidently on their sleeves. (The overall effect is usually amplified by the fact that these uniforms are often worn by people who look eerily similar, but that's beside the point.) Why do you think this is?

My guess is that these couples feel insecure about the differences between them. Maybe, they think, maybe if we present a unified front to the world, people will see that we have a strong relationship. The fact we're dressed alike will make us feel closer to each other. And folk will say, "Oh look! There go Brian and May. Their commitment to is obviously so deep that it permeates and moulds the very clothes they wear."

But they don't.

Okay, Phil's coat looks good. It's a nice coat. Indeed I considered buying it myself. But that doesn't mean Margaret should also wear one just like it. Seeing two of the same coat on a couple doesn't make it twice as good - it halves it. Treasure your partner's coat by all means. Even borrow it sometimes. But celebrate your individuality and confidence in the relationship by wearing something different from them. Cos baby - parallel parkas ain't cool. They're for sports teams, not life teams.

Some people have argued that alliteration/assonance or rhyming similarities between partner's names is equally awkward. But it's not. This isn't because I'm sensitive to the feelings of those friends who share initials with their beloved (although of course that's the case). It's because people don't have that much choice in whom they fall in love with.

The same unfortunately can't be said for outerwear. What makes your relationship special is what's inside the coat, not what colour it is.

Remember this, and bliss shall be yours forever.

However, maybe I'm being too harsh. If you decide to reject my teachings and your relationship can survive the resulting ridicule, well... you just might have something to treasure.

Ben's top tip for happiness (or shameless plug): See Punch Drunk Love. Adore it. It's a cinematic work of genius. Tell me I'm right. You know you want to.

To the young couple observed sporting matching macs on Hereford Road this evening: Without you, I'm nothing.


PseudoDictionary word of the day:
friplot - (n) The last piece of toilet paper that is partially glued to the roll, and has no useful purpose.

e.g., "There is nothing worse than finding out that the friplot is all that's left when you're in the restroom."

(I certainly feel like a better person for knowing this one...)
Okeydoke folks. Straw poll time.
How gay are you?
I scored 43%, which means I'm a perfectly well-adjusted hetero man.
Feel free to share your results with the rest of the class... :)
Just try and sneak this under the wire

PseudoDictionaryword of the day
absoludicrous - The peak of ridiculousness. Absolutely ludicrous.

e.g., Chris, your blue hair, with what little there is of it on top, looks absoludicrous with that long ponytail. People can tell you're bald.


Ha! Much better today. It's been a bit of a corker so far. Well, all except for the hangover. :) Thanks for all the hugs! Got to dash off and help Mark feel very old. Full details tomorrow.

Just one thought: what is it, exactly, that cinemas are conceding through the sale of popcorn and nachos?
Oops. Thursday becomes Friday. Many apologies, dear friends (also many apologies for any typos - it's dreadfully difficult to type a sentence when you're half-cut).

I have a very good reason for being a bit plastered tonight. After getting up far too late, I decuded to go and see Gangs of New York. Except the local fleapit wasn't actually showing it on Thursday at 4.30pm, preferring a special preview of Final Destination 2. (As my darling brother Thomsk said, "How can you have a second final destination?") The answer? "They weren't expecting the first one to make that much money")

So having been stymied on my first choice of movie, while determined to see one, I had to kick around a mall for an hour or so, deciding which to grace with my presence. During this time, I came across a few good books (of which more another time) but finally plumped for About Schmidt. While I won't actually review it (leave that to IMDb and AICN) I'll just say that any journalist who describes it as a comedy is either lying or doing too much coke. It's a fantastic exercise in film producton, yes, with a performance from Jack Nicholson that I'd previously thought way beyond his current capability (the man was great).

But I left the cinema feeling more depressed and lonely that I have done in a long time. I always used to think I enjoyed going to the flicks on my own, but this film brought home the fact that I usually leave feeling sad and lonely, no matter how good the film. About Schmidt moved me in a way I'd forgotten was possible. Or rather it had access to an emotion I spend a great deal of my time succeeding in ignoring.

I felt so alone. So alone. I guess it pays homage to the director. I could, if I wanted, spend a great deal of my life feeling lonely. But I don't because it's a horrible, desolate place to be. But after leaving the theatre, I did need the reassurance of those close to me, Thomas, his gf Jane, and my flatmate Joe (remember these names, they'll feature much) and a great deal of alcohol. The people were all wonderful, and drew a couple of issues out of me. And many thanks to Joe for the multiple hugs.

I'm feeling better now, you'll be glad to hear (I hope) but I really have to stop, as it's very difficult to type.

Especially when you have to shut one eye to proof your own work...


PseudoDictionary word of the day (one for the nurses, journos and police out there):
methylethylbadstuff - (n) Used by Orlando Fire Dept. Communications Specialists to describe any type of unknown hazardous material whether solid, liquid, gas or biological in nature.

e.g., "I don't know what kind of methylethylbadstuff that tanker was carrying but it's on fire now...whatever it is!"


President Bush - remastered
Not that this is going to become a Bush-obsessed blog (promise!) but one of my friends pointed me towards this. Enjoy!
Chris Morris works his magic on the State of the Union
UN-eventful afternoon
What a very peculiar day. I didn't manage to get any further from my flat than the local off licence, yet it feels like I've been busy ever since I got up. It'll almost certainly turn out to be an illusion over the next few pars, but it still felt full.

Essentially it's been a Heady Mix (journalist's stock phrase no 2793) of helping Dad and watching the United Nations Security Council (yes, on a day off).

In New York, Colin Powell came good for George and delivered "compelling evidence" to the UN about Iraq's naughtiness. Either the evidence he provided was authentic, in which case Saddam is as bad as we all think, or it was fabricated, which would confirm our worst fears about the Bush administration. Then there's always the possibility it's a combination of truth and lies, which would paint both of them in a bad light. After you with the Kleenex, please...

Colin certainly put forward a good case, with what seemed to put meat on the bones of the allegations levelled at Saddam. And while the French, Russians and Chinese weren't willing to let slip the dogs of war, one couldn't help feel Iraq was painting itself into a corner.

Yet it's sad to see someone as obviously decent and intelligent (at least when compared with his colleagues) as Powell reduced to this. When a man who has done much to try to broker peace deals and who personally knows the horror of war (unlike the alleged deserter Dubya), is asked to put forward the case for war, what hope is there of avoiding one?

Of course, it's something I'm going to have to think about at great length, but even after hearing Powell's presentation I still have to fall back on the general feeling that war is Not A Good Thing, and that the Cowboy's two primary motivations are black gold and the opportunity to settle things with "the man who tried to kill my dad" (Clint Eastwood has nothing on this guy!), not "in the name of peace".

I'll return to this, I'm sure, but there still has to be an alternative to war.

And as for Mr Bush and his oft-mentioned high value on life, well, I'll come to that another day...

Frankly, I think Kofi and his chums have got a much easier job than attempting to guide my father through the process of getting his new Mac online. If anyone has any experience with trying to set up an account on a Mac running OsX, I'd be grateful for advice.

For now, I'm off to watch Footballers' Wives, in which a talented young actress (and close personal friend) called Jess Brooks is making her debut.

Oh, and I never got that cup of coffee...
PseudoDictionary word of the day:
verbicide - (n) Word destruction. A word ceases to exist or loses meaning due to an inidvidual's actions. For example, some would consider "verbing" to be "verbicidal."

e.g., "Valley girls haved used the word "like" so inappropriately for so long that I would like to charge them with verbicide."
Principles of Blogging (thought upon awakening)
1.Be myself. Resist the pressure to be other people. If I can't feel the pressure, go looking for it and then give it a shunning it won't forget.
2.Bandwidth is probably finite. It's my responsiblity as a reasonably well developed human being to make sure all resources are used as quickly as possible
3.Sub-clauses are our friends. Ignore the newsy nay-sayers who claim not to believe in them. They exist, and we should be proud they want to work with us.
4.This space for rent.
5.Many of history's great artists and writers sought to enhance their creations through use of psychoactive drugs. The same should go for blogging. A cup of coffee would hit the spot right now (Coleridge I ain't).

to be continued...
I really should be in bed. This is what comes of working shifts - a malfunctioning body clock.

Don't want people thinking I've been wasting all this time, though. My svisitors can now weigh in with their own two penn'orth. Just click on the comments field at the end of each blog entry.

Feel free to weigh in. :)
Mr Furious
I've just got home from work an hour late. The reason? Some halfwit bahoozle masquerading as one of the brilliant and talented people who make up my team of dear colleagues deleted a Very Important File from one of the servers we use for broadcasting, albeit probably unwittingly.

In the interests of my career and the reputation of my employer, I'll leave detail to a minimum, but the thing is, the VIF was responsible for a small but nevertheless significant piece of national television. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the system, we didn't discover this until I was about to leave the office, which was exactly when said item needed to be on air.

It took us almost an hour to find and transfer the relevant piece of media so we could return the broadcast to its proper state.

Although the initial bozine act got me angry enough (I take my work seriously:), my mood wasn't improved by my senior co-worker telling me to leave the office. Sure, they were right, my shift had effectively finished at midnight. And I have absolutely no doubt that my colleague was capable of resolving the issue on their own. But they pressed the issue when I wanted to see the job get done.

Am I the only one who feels reluctant to walk away from a Big Hairy Problem just cos the sand's run out on my day's work? Although I kept a cab waiting 55 minutes while we sorted the problem out, am I alone in thinking that clocking off would have been a dereliction of duty?

It's not quite the same level of magnitude, but you don't find surgeons downing tools at shift's end having just discovered their patient's bleeding from somewhere they shouldn't, do you?

I may just be a journalist, but I'm expected to do my job to the highest possible standard, something I strive to achieve every day. For that I think I earn the privilege of being able to leave the office with the comfort of knowing everything's working just as it's meant to.

And if I get any shit about the cab's waiting time, you'll hear it here first...


PseudoDictionary word of the day:
lactomangulate - (v) To mangle the "open here" side of the milk carton so badly that you have to resort to the other side.

e.g., "Dammit, Erle, you sure lactomangulated that one."
George W Bush (someone you'll come to know as a favourite subject of mine)... you've really got to love him, bless the little cotton socks inside his cowboy boots.

I had hoped Dubya wouldn't make his debut on Mutterings until later in its life, but I've just seen images of the President so heartwarming that comment really can't be delayed.

As I type this, the President of the United States of America is delivering a eulogy to the seven astronauts who died so genuinely tragically last weekend as the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated during re-entry. Shortly before Bush took the stand he noticed the child sitting next to him, the son of one of the astronauts, was in floods of tears. George duly took his handkerchief out and handed it to the little lad.

What a compassionate soul he is. Just remember that when he declares war against Iraq.
The Beginning
I can't believe it had never occurred to me to write a blog before. Funny really. I've never been much of a diary person, but the idea of a blog appeals to me.

Maybe it's the fact that it's not private. Or possibly that while it's assumed that the conventional journal-type thing should be structured and informative, the irrelevant and inconsequential nature of blogs has been part of the culture since the beginning, a mindset much closer to my own. Or could it be that all that long hand was just too daunting for me to take on?

Anyway, here it is, thanks to Jen. And it'll allow me to be utterly random and vocal in that way you all know, occasionally love, and very often look puzzled at...