Archive for December, 2005
Today’s will be the last post before Christmas. I’m having a break. Getting on an aeroplane and buggering off somewhere sunny for a while. So, Christmas-lovers, I’m gonna have to trust you not to peek at the 23rd or 24th‘s advent pictures until the tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. Today’s photo is of the annual electricity fest that is Friedrichstrasse’s Christmas lights.
I’ve been thinking about today’s post for a week or so, and it seemed to me like a good idea to have this one as the last one before Christmas. Time for family and all that. So, my grandfather, George Wilfred Robinson.
The next two photos are incredibly cute. First, George as a baby. In his baby get-up. Surrounded by loads of fur. Even then, he was wearing the Robinson family Oh-fuck-what’s-gonna-happen-now? look on his face.
Aaaah, what a handsome young boy. The pretty shoes, the nice lacey collar and cuffs, the haircut, and, wow!, a cane!
Jump forward a few years, and George is at school in Sleaford, Lincs. That’s him top right.
George in the scouts. First row, fifth from left.
And again in the scouts. Middle row, far left. Not entirely sure what he was trying to do there. That’s quite a scowl he’s got goin’ on. Perhaps the lad in front of him broke wind, perhaps he was just trying to look tough.
I don’t know what age he was here, but he’s right dapper dressed up, eh?
I love this photo. Although he’s squinting, Grandad is looking very cool at the seaside. A nice shirt, superb trousers, and from what I can tell, splendid socks. I don’t know who the other people are. The guy in the middle has quite an effeminate stance, don’t you think?
The next two aren’t photos of my grandad, just birthday cards that my sister and I gave to him in the mid-eighties. I include them as proof that it was quite obviously our mother who went to the shops to buy the cards, rather than my sister and I searching for them ourselves. But, y’know, power drills and lawn movers do kinda sum up a pensioner’s life, I suppose.
This is getting closer to the Grandad I remember. I’m not 100% sure when this was, but seeing as though there’s still some non-grey hair on his head, it’s probably slightly before I was born or when I was very very young. I adore this photograph. I love the burgeoning “Grandad Pose” he’s bringin’ home. I love the clothes, I love the pipe, and I love how it’s not really clear whether he’s in a field in Norfolk or on safari in Africa. It’s more likely the former, although I’m gonna continue thinking that just off camera are a few elephants and lions.
Aaaah, here’s Grandad. This is the full-on Grandad Pose. A pose he adopted in EVERY photograph of his retirement. It’s a pose I’ve begun to adopt in photographs too. I like to think it’s a tradition that I will, one day, pass on to my son, and he will pass it on to his.
Anyway, that’s yer lot.
If you’re a Christian: Happy Christmas.
If you’re a lapsed Christian but still like toys, turkey and tinselly trees: Happy Christmas.
If you’re Jewish: Happy Hanukkah.
If you’re a Seinfeld fan: Happy Festivus.
If you’re a fan of The O.C.: Happy Chrismukkah.
And for everyone else: Happy Generic Winter Holidays Greeting.
Episode six of Valley Of The Cnuties is online over at Submarine Channel.
You might remember that last time, one of the kids was dragged into the forest by a fella with red eyes.
I wonder what happens…
Your Berlin advent picture: the nice blue lights hanging down outside a hotel near an elevated train track.
One principle that I’ve tried my best to stick to on FFF and here, is to not have a photo of myself. I’ve nearly broken that rule a few times. And I’m going to kinda break it today. Having a new scanner melted my resolve to not put my picture up here like a volcano melts chocolate.
But still, it’s not current day photos. It’s photos of me when I was younger. First up, one for all the paedophiles out there: me, probably three or four years old, in bed with my teddy bear (he was untitled, never had a name) and Wombles poster.
Here I am with my sister in the garden of my grandparents. A common photo style, this. Get my sister and I to stand nearer to each other than we’d ever naturally want to, and watch the frowns appear.
My grandmother and I. She’s helping me get ready to go and slaughter some Native Americans, smoke some Marlboros, and have a gunfight with Lee Van Cleef. You will notice that I’m not just any cowboy, oh no; I’m the sheriff! See, I got a sheriff’s badge. So, y’know, don’t be gettin’ up to no shit, y’all, cos I come a bust a cap in yo ass.
I’m pretty useless at judging the age of children, even myself as a child; so I can’t be sure when each of these photos were taken. But I do know that I was about 11 or 12 in the next couple of photos cos of the yellow-with-red-pinstripes Liverpool FC shirt I’m wearing in both pictures. You’ll also notice that by this time, I’d become a spectacles-wearer.
Playing snooker in the garden with Gran. My Dad laid that patio himself, y’know. Notice that we had no legs for the snooker table, so we used sawhorses instead.
This would’ve been Christmas at my grandparent’s house, probably 1982. That’s me and my dad playing with the pinball game Father Christmas had brought me. It was battery operated. And incredibly loud. Seemingly, the power needed to use it was so much that the machine had engines inside that made playing with it very very irritating for everyone else around. You’ll also notice part of my sister in the photo. Leg warmers, of course. And an early personal stereo. Look at the size of that thing, eh?
So that’s me. Tomorrow, my grandfather.
Nice big Father Christmas there, huh?
Here’s some more stuff from old sketchbooks.
First, a quick drawing of the poles on a London bus from 1996.
Three drawings from 1998 (Artcunt, by the way, was a nickname my then-grilfriend gave a friend of mine who she didn’t like).
And some doodling-in-front-of-the-telly stuff from 2002.
The advent picture above is, I’m guessing, something most Berlin folk know about. In the other eleven months of the year, this flat’s balcony is covered with gnomes. Come December, and it goes all Christmassy. It’s on Hagenauer Strasse, if you’re interested.
Do you remember Once Upon A Time In The Spare Room, the western that Billy and I made? Well, we’ve made another. This time, though, it’s a horror movie. Please be clicking the link: The Hound Of The Spare Room (4.7MB Quicktime .mov).
Can’t think of anything I want to write about today.
(Advent photo is the window display of a second-hand clothes shop on my street, by the way.)
Woke up feeling groggy after having a dream that I’d scratched my glasses really badly when cleaning them on my t-shirt.
I have a very big craving to have a fried egg sandwich, though. Ooooh, I’ve not had one for ages. Thick white bread, some ketchup, and a gloriously unhealthy fried egg. Maybe some bacon, too. And the bread could be fried as well. Loads of butter. Some mayonaisse. Maybe a layer of sliced-longways sausages. A couple of slices of Cheddar cheese. A generous slap of peanut butter. And some onion rings. Salt and pepper. And a heart attack for pudding.
Anyway, time for my breakfast: some Weetabix.
Thursday was eventful. I know it’s Saturday now and I could’ve wrote about all this yesterday, but, y’know, new scanner equals fun. Anyway…
I had quite a good haircut. Getting a haircut is often traumatic for me. When I was a kid, I used to grow my hair into a huge dome, then every four or five months I’d be dragged to the barber shop, and a smoky man would cut my hair and stab me occasionally stab me in the scalp with his scissors.
Since I’ve been in Berlin, though, haircuts have been a lottery. Even when I’m speaking in English, I tend to be a bit vague about how I want it, “About this this long on top, a bit shorter on the side and back.” In German, my vagueness seems all the more vague. But on Thursday, a lovely chap called Pierre cut my hair. He did a wonderful job. I explained the bit longer/bit shorter top/back and sides thing, and he said, “Aaaah, I do it classic look, yes?” And, if it’s not too vain to say so, my hair looks good after Pierre. I think I love him.
A bit later I was on the bus. A Down’s syndrome child and his father sat behind me. The child had quite a gruff voice, and was talking a lot. And I promise I’m not being cruel here, but he sounded so like Timmy off South Park, just in German, and not repeating the same word over and over again.
He made me smile, I enjoyed hearing him shouting out the words for traffic light, lorry, police car, etc. But then, of course, I began to worry about myself: why do I enjoy that? Then the headspin of conflicting thoughts began. Why do I enjoy that? well, why not? should I be enjoying a child’s disability? well, there’s nothing you can do about it, Craig, so it’s okay, isn’t it? but if it was a non-Down’s child doing that, you’d probably be getting irked and wondering why he wouldn’t shut up.
The conclusion to this is, I have got to the age of thirty five, and I still don’t know how to communicate with people with any sort of disability. I’m even weirdly self-conscious if I talk to someone in a wheelchair, even if it’s just someone with a broken leg. I wish I knew how to talk, I wish I’d learned that when I was younger. It’s a fault of mine that I need to work out, but I don’t come into contact with many people with disabilities.
Or am I just thinking about things too much? I don’t know.
I guess, though, Stan from South Park said it perfectly in the episode Timmy 2000, where Timmy joins a rock band, The Lords of the Underworld.
You see, we learned something today. Yeah, sure, we laughed at Timmy, but what’s wrong with laughter? Just because we laugh at something doesn’t mean we don’t care about it. Timmy made us smile, and playing made Timmy smile, so where was the harm in that? The people that are wrong are the ones that think people like Timmy should be “protected” and kept out of the public’s eye. The cool thing about Timmy being in a band was that he was in your face, and you had to deal with him, whether you laughed or cried, or felt nothing. That’s why Timmy rules!
The last thing that happened on Thursday was something that made me angry. And I had a little chat with a neighbour yesterday, and she was similarly irked. After returning home from the above talked-about bus journey, I noticed that there was some dog poo in the hallway of my building. It was quite clearly there cos someone brought it in on their shoe. But I just knew that someone in the bulding would blame me and Billy. Or the family at the top of the building with the cute new Labrador puppy.
I’d forgotten about it, but then at around 9.30pm, the doorbell rings. It’s the guy who gets money off his rent for washing and cleaning the hallway and stairs. The conversation went something like this:
He: Did you see the dog poo downstairs?
He: I just thought that maybe cos there’s only two dogs in the building…
Me: Why would I leave it there if it was Billy’s poo?
He: So it wasn’t your dog?
Me: No, of course not!
He: Are you sure?
Me: Yes, of course I’m fucking sure.
Then I slammed the door.
Not sure what my point is here, I just wanted to get it off my chest. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….
A few months ago, I mentioned that one day I would put some old drawings and stuff up here for you to see. Well, today is that day, because I finally bought myself a scanner last night. Dunno why it’s taken me so long to get one, I guess I always thought they were more expensive than they actually are.
So I got it all set up and randomly grabbed an old sketchbook. The sketchbook I grabbed is one that I made myself, as it happens. Quite proud of my work I am too. It’s got a cloth-covered card cover, and decent proper-book-style binding.
Plus, when I used this sketchbook, I followed the art student’s golden rule: the thicker the sketchbook, the better the grade. You could be Picasso, but if the front and back covers of your sketchbooks are still parallel when they’re full, you’re buggered. What you need at art school is a good angle, with stuff stuck in there to make it thicker. Basically, anything that looks like it’d be a challenge to cycle up, were it a hill, equals good grades. That’s my art school tip for thee.
Anyway, this sketchbook is from the late 1994/early 1995. A weird time in my life. I’d had six months doing virtually nothing, cos my HND course had finished, but I was due to do a kinda catch-up course from January ’til June so that I could jump onto the final year of a BA course. (Plus, having just had glandular fever, my doctor gave me a sick note for the whole period, allowing me to sponge off the state. Yay!) Anyway, I lasted ’til April on the catch-up course. Things happened… I wasn’t particularly happy with life and I got kicked out for non-attendance. I hope my mum’s not reading this, cos she still thinks that I chose to leave the course. If you are reading this, mother: oops, sorry!
That non-attendance wasn’t slacking off, I’d like to add. I was constantly busy during that time. I took to sketchbooks with a frenzy that was slightly startling. I was obsessed with making little books. Any type of paper would get lashed together with thread and scribbled on. And more than anything, that period was really the beginnings of what became Flip Flop Flyin’. It was the first time my mind wandered of its own accord, rather than using it for school, art school, or university assignments. I was drawing for my enjoyment, not for anyone else’s.
I miss those sketchbook times, really. Much as I love doing FFF, I do it knowing that other people will see it. I’d quite like to go back to keeping sketchbooks that contain stuff for myself, rather than the sketchbooks I keep now, which are just places to work out stories and character drawings and stuff. Maybe one day I’ll scan some of those too…
Anyway (again), here’s some stuff from that sketchbook. First up, Subbuteo Angel. Not sure how this came about. But it’s something I still think about. I’d still like to see Subbuteo figures with wings on them. I was very into Tipp-Ex and Dymo tape at the time, both of which are employed here.
Next is a photo masking-taped into the book. This is the kind of thing I was making at university at the time. I was, partly cos of the attractive costs of such things, using a lot of reclaimed materials. Wood I found on the street, metal from junkyards, etc. One day I’ll find the photos of more of this kinda stuff and show you them.
This particular thing was something I made for my then-girlfriend. I stole a loose grate of a drain in the gutter from a street in Derby, built the simple rectangular box, whacked a lightbulb in there and sprayed the plug and cable bright pink. That was something I was into, too: making the least interesting part of a light or piece of furniture the brightest, most eye-catching bit. The best thing about this light was the shadows it flung on the ceiling when in use, like a big geometric spider’s web.
Thirdly, something from that era that eventually evolved into an FFF thing. Specifically, it evolved into a Fun Fun Fun thing.
(An aside: has anyone actually seen the Fun Fun Fun book in a shop? I’ve been told it’s in some shops, I keep being told it’s gonna be on Amazon any day now; yet I’ve not seen it in shops, on Amazon, or heard of anyone who has found it. If you have seen it or bought it anywhere, could you let me know, please? I’m getting a bit frustrated with the people who are supposed to organise these things…)
So, yes: what you will see in a few scrolling-down seconds eventually became this:
Maybe you’ve wondered what the hell it’s about. Well, in the back of the book, I explain everything. But that’s no use to you right now, so I’ll explain here. The idea of a monkey rubbing a grapefruit came from hearing a sound on a record, I can’t remember which record, but that sound is also on the Beastie Boys’ Shake your Rump. It’s this sound, behind the drums, the one that sounds like, well, a monkey rubbing a grapefruit.
Aaaaaanyway, I was asking someone if they knew what the instrument was called, (I’ve since found out that instrument is called a cuíca), and when trying to describe it, those words just popped out of my mouth. I made a note of it, then did this drawing:
It’s drawn with Tipp-Ex correction paper (the precursor to those Tipp-Ex mouse things that disappear from office stationery cupboards quicker than you can say “Bing Crosby”) on a stretched out piece of pink balloon rubber, wrapped tight around, and glued to, cardboard.
That, dear reader, is nearly the end of today’s show-and-tell. So let’s come back to the modern world for the last thing: the Berlin-y advent picture. It’s a photo taken in my local supermarket of some festive toilet paper. The Winterduft (winter fragrance), by the way, smells horrible. It’s kinda like a fake gingerbread-y smell which does very little to disguise the oh-so-real fact that you’re doing a poo.
I don’t often look at FFF’s stats. For a long time I didn’t have them turned on, cos they keep such a large amount of information that it was taking up a shed-load of space on the server. Recently, though, I had them turned back on.
A couple of things were interesting for me. Firstly, Flip Flop Flyin’ (that’s everything, including this Flip Flop Flying blog) gets a heck of a lot less visitors than it used to at its peak. That peak was when Minipops was getting loads of press, got talked about on Chris Moyles’ BBC Radio One show, and that damned quiz was doing the rounds.
It still weirds me out a bit that the quiz had such a big effect on the popularity of Minipops, especially considering that I didn’t put the quiz together, it was done without my permission or my blessing. But mainly I didn’t like it cos it was done quite badly, with lots of spelling mistakes.
The effects of the quiz were massive. It melted my server for a start. I ended up with a huge number of visitors for a week or two, about half a million a day at its peak. That felt odd, cos there I was beavering away on my little hobby which I was putting up there, knowing that some like-minded souls might enjoy it; and suddenly, every office worker with a browser on a bored Thursday afternoon was looking at what I’d done, like, “Those Minipops are cool, but what’s this Pete & Bob stuff all about, dude?”
Visiting figures leveled off for several months at about 7,000 a day. Still none too shabby. So last week – a year or so later – when I had the stats turned back on, my ego was a tiny bit bruised to see that the site now gets less than half as many visitors.
After I’d licked my wounds, it occured to me that this was a good thing. That I’m still getting around 3,000 a day is fantastic, really. The site’s found its natural level. What was most amazing, though, was which pages are getting the most visitors. I’d kinda assumed that this blog was only read by maybe 100 people or so, but apparently, 31.1% of the vistors come to the blog. That’s superb!
All the above waffle, basically, is my way of saying thank you for coming and reading this drivel every day. I appreciate it. It has been a great experience to read the comments, to have some feadback and contact with people who like what I do.
And if you’re one of those people who doesn’t ever comment, and I know from some emails that there are a few people who think the comments are a bit clique-y; well, why not say hello? It’s not meant to be a clique, and I don’t think it is.
So, y’know, say hello if you want to.
Today’s advent picture is nice, huh? It’s a fairy light version of the Brandenburger Tor on Tauentzienstrasse in the fancy shopping area of west Berlin.
Okay, so I’m a little bit obsessed with Bill O’Reilly at the moment. He’s dangerous, he’s got that whiff of evil about him, but, he seems very good at his job: being right wing and convincing his following that there’s a liberal conspiracy out there that wants to make your children gay, abortion-loving, Christmas-haters.
Anyway, to try and heal my obsession, I’ve made a little festive season message from Bill. Roll the tape.
And while I’m on the subject of right wing folks, let’s discuss Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tookie Williams.
Now, I don’t really know much about Williams, but it would seem that he was a bad man in the past, but had tried to do some good in the latter part of his life. And anyway, I, of course, being a wishy washy socialist, am against the death penalty. But one thing has bothered me since he was executed yesterday, like an itch on my back that I just can’t reach: seeing Schwarzenegger deciding on whether a man lives or dies. It just felt wrong. A man who’s spent most of his career pretending to kill people, actually got to make the decision about someone’s life in the real world. It just feels wrong.
Finally, today’s Around Berlin advent picture: a festive hardware store around the corner on Stargarder Strasse (one of the best street names I’ve ever known, incidentally).
How different would pop music be if blatant narcissism were more prevalent?
I Shook Myself All Night Long by AC/DC
I Still Believe In Me by The Beach Boys
From Me To Me by The Beatles (also She Loves Me, I Want To Hold My Hand, and Got To Get Me Into My Life)
I Miss Me by Björk
I’m So Great by Blur
I’m Gonna Make You Lonely When I Go by Bob Dylan (also I Want Me, and Mama, I’m On My Mind)
Ain’t I Wealthy, Ain’t I Wise? by Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy
I Am My Sunshine by Brian Wilson
Born To Make Myself Happy by Britney Spears
(They Long To Be) Close To Me by The Carpenters
Loving Me Is Easy by The Charlatans
I’m The Inspiration by Chicago
Dreaming Of Me by The Coral
I Make My Dreams Come True by Daryl Hall & John Oates
Fuck Me by Dr. Dre
My Song by Elton John
I Love It When I Do That by Fluffy Target
I’d Have Me Anytime by George Harrison
A Song For Me by Gram Parsons
Without Me by Harry Nilsson
Happy To Be Stuck With Me by Huey Lewis & The News
I’m So Crazy (‘Bout Me) by K.C. & The Sunshine Band
Can’t Get Me Out Of My Head by Kylie Minogue
Since I’ve Been Loving Me by Led Zeppelin
Crazy For Me by Madonna
All I Want For Christmas Is Me by Mariah Carey
The Waltz I Saved For Me by Merle Haggard
Feed Me With My Kiss by My Bloody Valentine
I Know I’m Right by Nirvana
Hopelessly Devoted To Me by Olivia Newton-John
I’m The One That I Want by Olivia Newton-John & John Travolta
I Love How I Love Me by The Paris Sisters
I Only Tell Me I Love Me When I’m Drunk by Pet Shop Boys
La La Love Me by Pixies
If I Was My Girlfriend by Prince
I’m My Best Friend by Queen
I Wanna Be My Boyfriend by Ramones
I Can Hardly Believe I’m Mine by The Raspberries
Who’s Going To Shoe My Pretty Little Feet by Richard Hawley
(I Love Me) For Sentimental Reasons by The Righteous Brothers
For My Pleasure by Roxy Music
My Phone’s On Vibrate For Me by Rufus Wainwright
When I Walk In The Room by The Searchers
Underneath My Clothes by Shakira
I Won’t Share Me by The Smiths
Lord, Can I Hear Me? by Spacemen 3
Music Sounds Better With Me by Stardust
I Am The Sunshine Of My Life by Stevie Wonder (also Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Mine)
Fit But I Know It by The Streets
I’m The Best Thing by The Style Council
I’m The Cream In My Coffee by Ted Weems
Anything I Want (I Got It) by The Travelling Wilburys
It’s What I Want That Matters by The Wedding Present
I’m The Man Who Loves Me by Wilco
I Love Me by The Zombies
Strange how much more appropriate some of those seem than the original titles, huh? (coughMariahCareycough).
And if you were wondering, yes, that was a quick trawl through my iTunes. And, yes, I do like Shakira.
Finally, today’s advent snap. I saw this on Oderburger Strasse the other evening. Looks like the hausmeister must be a jolly Christmas lover:
The jingle bells-y advent picture above is of a window display at a posh clothes shop. Quite a sumptuous tree, there, huh?
So, today I thought that I’d re-visit some of the topics I’ve written about this year and do some updates.
The beating (2) (3) (4)
Remember when I got beaten up? Well, nothing ever happened about it. No jail time for him, no working on the chain gang. After giving the police his description and address, and there also being a witness who supplied more info about him, the police seem to have chucked it in the bin and ignored it. Is there any wonder people take the law into their own hands sometimes? Is there any wonder crimes go un-reported? Oooh, it makes me angry. Still, even though the attacker fella lives just around the corner, I’ve not seen him since that day. Nor have I been back to the bakery outside of which the attack happened. I do occasionally fantasise about seeing him. It’s quite a simple fantasy: I see him, he recognises me, I whip out a huge fucking piece of metal piping and batter him to within an inch of his life.
My ears (2) (3)
I’ve had problems with my ears all year. It’s getting quite irritating. At first I thought it was because I used cotton buds a lot, but since I’ve knocked them on the head, I’ve still had the problems. Then I blamed Billy. Letting him lick my face must be passing an infection into my ears. But I’ve had problems when Billy’s been away visiting his grandparents. I don’t know what it is and why it comes coming back. All I know is that this time last year I didn’t have low level tinitus constantly ringing in my ears, but I do now. It’s not that bad, but it’s there, and when things are really quiet, I notice it. Ho hum.
A big gripe of mine. Nothing major has happened, just the usual shoddy service; but yesterday, it was kinda busy, and they opened a till next to the one I was queueing for. I was way back in the queue, so it didn’t really bother me to dash to the freshly-opened till, but there was a guy with a trolly full of Xmas shopping (loads of snacks, booze, and a frozen goose) and he literally barged past the guy in front of him who was walking to the new till. If this wasn’t rude enough, the barged-past bloke had three items in his hand. Three! I chuntered to myself, and shook my head, wondering what this world is coming to.
Hurrah! Blogging about this get rid of it.
You can add Clap Your Hands Say Yeah to that list. Never have I heard a more awful name. And their music makes me want to plunge my head into a bucket of bird flu-laced acid, too.
Still not got around to replacing it…
And finally, My Zippo
After having to disembowel my lighter at Tegel airport’s security thingy, I went onto the Zippo website and wrote them an email asking if there was a special way to re-fill the lighter with cotton wool. I got a very pleasant reply from their customer services department with nicely detailed instructions on how to do properly. They even wished me Happy Holidays. Hurrah for Zippo!
You might’ve noticed that the top bit of the blog has changed a couple of times recently. I got a bit bored of the big white on green G thing. Then I tried the blocky scrawly capital letters for a couple of weeks: not keen on that either. So now I’m trying a photo thing. Might not settle on this particular photo, but for the meantime, I quite like it.
And here’s another photo for you:
I find it quite amusing that a brand of cotton buds, something that I use for gouging wax out of my ears, is called Touch of Charm. Of course, it’s not advised to stick these things in your ear canals; something my ear doctor has drilled into me, thus this nearly-full packet sits in my bathroom gathering dust.
Today’s advent picture: the entrance to a local restaurant.
A few days ago, I mentioned that there were plenty of lil’ topics that I’ve accumulated that I’ve not bothered to write about yet, things that are just scraps. I got distracted by fresh stuff during the week, so here’s more of them today.
Topic 6. What’s going on in house music these days? I have absolutely no idea. Does house music still exist? Do people still listen to it? What’s the good stuff? What are the latest sub-genres called? I have a mate called James who used to know everything. He was like a GPS satellite navigation thing when it came to house. You could give him a white label 12″ and within the first few bars he’ll have located the exact sub genre of the sub genre that the track is a part of.
Topic 7. On the subject of house, that House TV show is good, isn’t it? It’s good to see Hugh Laurie doing something like this. And he’s really grown into his face. Whereas he used to look a tad dorky, now he looks quite handsome, I think. But still there’s moments when I expect him to suddenly be doing some silly comedy thing when he’s talking about tumours.
Topic 8. Still about houses. We Brits tend to be obsessed with owning our own house. Not so in Berlin where most people seem to rent. But I still have that desire for my own piece of the world where I can do what I want. When I was younger, I wanted everything that my parents didn’t have, ie. an über-modern house with glass bricks everywhere. your basic Miami Vice location. now, as I’ve lived in several flats in Berlin which have been white boxes with wooden floors, oh how I’d love some nice patterned wallpaper, some carpet, and a lot of nice old creaky furniture. Does this happen to everyone? Their tastes eventually settle down? Or is it an internal realisation that modern houses like that are really expensive, or is it just a desire to be a bit more comfy?
Topic 9. This makes me angry. Not that I’ve ever read any of his books, but, really, how dumb is it that an authors wishes are so blatantly ignored just to make some money? I’m off to my hut and potatoes again.
Topic 10. Last week I was doing some Christmas shopping (all done done, hurrah!). Usually when walking around Berlin’s central Mitte district, I’ll hear a few peope talking English, but the first I heard any English that day was like I was back in Lincoln or something. Two girls – Vicky Pollard is a cruel comparison, but not too far off – looking at perfumes when one shouts to the other, “Oi! Look, David Beckham’s got a new one!”
Topic 11. Things that make me smile: Hearing Stevie Wonder’s harmonica playing, opening a jar of Marmite and inhaling it’s deliciousness, “J’en Marre” by Alizée, watching Billy’s big hairy paws beg for a treat, and being inside when it’s chucking it down outside.
Topic 12. The American version of The Office is great, if you’ve not seen it.
Topic 13. Before I go on, I must stress that I mean no disrespect to anyone with this. And I still have doubts about what it is I am going to say. But I’ll just say it: I think we have too many one-minute’s-silences. There’s seems to be one at the start of every other football game these days. Fair enough when a legend like George Best dies, I guess. But there seems to be silence for everything. Doesn’t it diminish the concept when there’s so many silences?
Topic 14. Recently, a fellow left-handed friend and I were talking. We both automatically zone in on other left-handed people. It’s something we both instinctively notice. Every time there’s a lefty on telly or in a film, we both notice. Is this a general lefty thing? Do you all do it? Any right-handed people out there who notice lefties straight away?
Anyway, Billy did a poo in the hall last night and I stepped in it on my way to the bathroom when I got up. Squishy through my toes. Great. And now the flat has that slightly sickly sweet smell of spaniel shit.
The advent picture today is another from the Christmas markt at Alexanderplatz. A hastily drawn sign for glühwein. I like the stuff above the cup. Not sure what that’s meant to represent… Heat? alcohol?
So, it’s the weekend, the that traditionally only a few people read this page. That’s a good thing really, you should have better stuff to do at the weekend than reading my shit. But I might use this opportunity to wonder what might happen in the World Cup next summer. I’m sure the world over there are geeks like me pouring over the fixtures and possible routes that their teams and other teams could have to the Final. The good thing is, if I write it here I’ll be able to look back and see how good or bad my predicitions were. (You too can do this with the help of the BBC’s nice little World Cup Predictor thingy.)
Group A: Germany, Costa Rica, Poland, Ecuador.
Although you’d imagine Germany would win this group with relative ease, dunno who’ll be second. Could be Poland or Ecuador. Considering they’ve recently beat Brasil and Argentina, I’m going for Ecuador.
Group B: England, Paraguay, Trinidad & Tobago, Sweden.
Fingers crossed, a team of England’s quality should win this. But, y’know, we’re not that good at making easy work of things. Sweden again, who could quite easily win the group, but I’m gonna be patriotic and go for England first, Sweden second.
Group C: Argentina, Côte d’Ivoire, Serbia & Montenegro, Netherlands.
The really interesting group. Four good teams. One bad result for the big boys and Côte d’Ivoire could get through. Still, Argentina and Netherlands are two of the best teams in the world, aren’t they? They should make it.
Group D: México, Iran, Angola, Portugal.
I don’t know enough about Iran and Angola, so ignorance says Portugal and México will go through.
Group E: Italy, Ghana, USA, Czech Republic.
No easy games for anyone here, really. Czech Republic, I reckon, will win the group. And I have a sneaky feeling that USA might edge out Italy. Would be fun to see some blue-shirted tears at the end of this group if that happens.
Group F: Brasil, Croatia, Australia, Japan.
Oooh, this’ll be a beauty. Brasil should win it, of course. I’m going for Japan to be runners-up.
Group G: France, Switzerland, Korea Republic, Togo.
France first, Switzerland second.
Group H: Spain, Ukraine, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia.
I want Spain to do well, what with their handful of Liverpool players. Shevchenko should see that Ukraine get through, too, maybe even in first place.
The Second Round
Game One: Winner A (Germany) v Runner-up B (Sweden)
If this World Cup wasn’t in Germany, I’d be betting on Sweden. As it is, I reckon Germany’ll sneak through.
Game Two: Winner C (Argentina) v Runner-up D (México)
Class should show through here. Argentina to go through fairly easily.
Game Three: Winner B (England) v Runner-up A (Ecuador)
C’mon! What do you think I’m gonna say here?
Game Four: Winner D (Portugal) v Runner-up C (Netherlands)
The Netherlands win. If this match happens, it should be good, eh?
Game Five: Winner E (Czech Republic) v Runner-up F (Japan)
I wonder if this one could be a shock result… I wonder, but I don’t predict one. Czech Republic to the quarters.
Game Six: Winner G (France) v Runner-up H (Spain)
Your guess is as good as mine… But seeing as though, one of these days, Spain have gotta do well, I’ll pick them.
Game Seven: Winner F (Brasil) v Runner-up E (USA)
Brasil, of course.
Game Eight: Winner H (Ukraine) v Runner-up G (Switzerland)
The Quarter Finals
Quarter Final One: Winner 1 (Germany) v Winner 2 (Argentina)
If all goes to plan, and my American mate is out of the country when this game happens in Berlin, I’ll be there in Berlin’s Olympiastadion watching this. How juicy could that be? Alternatively, if England were to come second in their group and beat Germany in the the Second Round, it could be England v Argentina. Even juicier! Anyway, I’m predicting Argentina to end the hopes of the home nation.
Quarter Final Two: Winner 5 (Czech Republic) v Winner 6 (Spain)
The Czechs are the better team, but I’m sticking my neck out: Spain to win.
Quarter Final Three: Winner 3 (England) v Winner 4 (Netherlands)
Oh God… Heart vs head. If England play as well as they can do, then of course it’s possible. But I doubt it. I’m going for the Netherlands to win this one.
Quarter Final Four: Winner 7 (Brasil) v Winner 8 (Ukraine)
Brasil should simply be too good for Ukraine here.
The Semi Finals
Semi Final One: Winner QF1 (Argentina) v Winner QF2 (Spain)
Despite those lovely Liverpool players in Spain’s squad, it should be Argentina.
Semi Final Two: Winner QF3 (Netherlands) v Winner QF4 (Brasil)
I’m bored of seeing Brasil in the final, so fuck it: the Netherlands to win.
Argentina v Netherlands
Your guess is as good as mine, really. I’d rather see the Netherlands win it, though.
So, that’s next summer: I can’t wait!
If you too have spent time since last night wondering what might be, and fancy sharing: the comments area is your place…
It’s 20:46 Central European Time, it’s Friday night, I’m sat in front of the telly, so why not blog at the same time?
So, I’m watching the show. I missed the beginning as I’d just got out of the bath, and listening to Sepp Blater bang on about stuff wasn’t worth hurrying up for. Right now there’s some old German fella called Horst Something kicking a ball… and ooh, it was just a ploy to link to a black and white film of previous World Cup stuff.
Right, while this is on, I’m gonna get some socks…
Now we’ve got Heidi Klum talking in English about Franz bloody Beckenbauer… good player and all that, but there’s something about him that rubs me up the wrong way. Maybe it’s that he’s one of those too-well-turned-out old fellas. I like my old fellas with a bit of scruffiness about them. Ear hair, dandruff, trousers that don’t fit properly…
Wolfgang Becker, director of Goodbye Lenin, made a film… Oooh, it’s nice. A bit. There’s Ravel’s Bolero playing. Water sprinklers, kid kicking ball against a shed, woman knitting a football scarf, more kicking against walls, a fireman getting a ball out of a tree, girls kicking balls, dudes playing keepy-up on top of shipping containers, monks playing, mothers hanging out school team kits, cows, urinals, bloke cleaning seats in a stadium, football outside the Reichstag, old men swapping stickers, bloke on scaffolding playing football with himself (the ball’s on elastic), oh there’s Franz again, playing in an empty swimming pool… you get the idea.
Now, I’m gonna stick the kettle on for a cup of tea.
Now we’ve got Franz with the actual ball he played with in 1970, apparently. He’s kicking it up to link with film just like Horst did. Aaah 1974, the glorious Dutch. Such a shame they didn’t win… Oooh, now the Italians winning in ’82, best goal celebration EVER… Now Maradona beating England in ’86.
Oh God, there’s a magician now.
Woman in a box that was empty a moment ago, yes well done. He’s locked in a box now with some dominatrix assistant waving a big black flag. Oooh, he’s out the box, she’s in it. A. Maze. Ing.
Now he’s ripping up a newspaper. Guess what happens… Yep, you’re right. Too much Jonathan Creek has jaded me when it comes to this type of magic. It’s all boxes. Appearing and disappearing, with drastic pseudo metal soundtracking the tricks.
Oh no, there’s the World Cup mascot. That doppy lion. Mascots are rubbish, aren’t they?
It gets worse. the lion is holding a talking football. It’s like ventriloquism with a remote-controlled football face thing. And without seeing the mouth of a mascot move, it’s not very impressive.
Now one of those all-inclusive songs with whistling, a bit of a dancey beat, some bloke trying a Bob Marley impression, and a brazillion kids with flags.
Just spent the last five minutes searching for my cigarettes. Where the hell are they? Eventually found them sat on top of the telly. We’ve got another round-up of previous World Cups now… 2002, go on Ronaldo!
Oh, and that ball that they kept kicking up, well it came down and Michael Ballack caught it on his foot and did some showing off. Well done. His tie is a nice lime green, though. They’re talking about the new World Cup ball design. It’s horrible. That nasty modern fluid style of design.
Some singer live in the studio. He might be Italian, I think. Heidi Klum’s dancing anyway.
Oh, he was Columbian.
Oooh, it’s actually gonna begin in a moment.
Some talking to men in suits…
There’s 8 big half-ball-shaped things which the teams’ll be in. Personally, I want England to not have Holland, Czech Republic or USA. I hope we get Australia so we can give them a good spanking.
Here we go…
Well, not until after a long intro of each of the wall picking chaps. All ex-players, including Pelé.
Group A: Germany, Costa Rica, Poland, Ecuador.
Group B: England, Paraguay, Trinidad & Tobago, Sweden.
Group C: Argentina, Côte d’Ivoire, Serbia & Montenegro, Netherlands.
Group D: México, Iran, Angola, Portugal.
Group E: Italy, Ghana, USA, Czech Republic.
Group F: Brasil, Croatia, Australia, Japan.
Group G: France, Switzerland, Korea Republic, Togo.
Group H: Spain, Ukraine, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia.
So there we go. Next summer sorted.
Germany get an easy group yet again. England’s group shouldn’t prove too tough, but Sweden again!? Argentina v Holland looks like the highlight of all the group games. My American mate sounded a bit disheartened when he heard the other teams in USA’s group. And Brasil, Croatia, Japan and Australia looks like a cracking group.
Conclusion: England will win the World Cup! (Joke.)
Now there’s an orchestra of kids playing some Beethoven, Mozart and Strauss stuff. My cue to turn off the telly.
This is lovely, huh? It’s huge plant pots outside the entrance to a fancy hotel in Mitte (Robbie Williams stayed there once, so I guess it’s gonna be one of the top hotels in town) filled with massive baubles.
And here’s a rhetorical question that ever dog owner will ask: isn’t my dog the cutest? (Quicktime .mov, 1.5MB)
As I was walking Billy yesterday afternoon, trying to stop him from eating the remains of a discarded döner kebab he found next to some bushes, I got to thinking. And it was a thought that became a train of thought. A train with quite a few carriages.
Is it an interesting train? Well, I dunno; it was for me. I’m also interested in how this process works, and maybe if I write it all down here, I can work it out. Actually, I don’t think it’s that difficult, the brain just connects things that are close together and keeps on truckin’. I should point out that this is in no way a pre-prepared thing, I just happened to have my camera with me, so turned on the audio recording bit just so I could remember all the various tangents when I got home. Anyway, this is how my mind wandered from Celcius to the idea of Europe as a community to Diwali and to the state we’ve got ourselves into. I’m gonna write it in the present tense as that’s how it came out at the time.
Blimey, it’s actually really cold today. Maybe I should put my gloves on, and re-wrap my scarf around me neck. I wondered if it’s below zero. Must check when I get home. It must be. Huh, funny that; how I always refer to cold temperatures in Celsius, but hot temeratures in Fahrenheit. I guess other British people do that too… I reckon newspapers do as well when it’s a scorcher or when there’s a cold snap. Minus 6°C sounds way colder than 21°F. And when it’s hot, 96°F sounds a lot hotter than 35°C. I wonder which I should use on an averagely pleasant day…
I quite like that, though; that there’s these differences. I like miles and kilometres in different countries; I like that some countries drive on the left, some on the right; makes the world a tiny bit more interesting I suppose. That thought still doesn’t apply to the American abbreviated month/day/year date format, though. That’s just confusing when the format looks the same as the non-US day/month/year style.
I like different currencies, too. I like having a load of strange jangle in my pocket, having to work through it slowly to find enough kronas or pesos to buy some chewing gum. And the old Dutch money was so pretty before the Euro came in… I guess the Euro’s easier, though, when you travel around the EU countries. But, really, how difficult was it to do a bit of maths on your holidays? The Euro’s not for us, anyway, is it? It’s for big businesses. Note how the European Community became a European Union, sneakily rubbing out the idea of community.
It’s a shame that, really. I like the idea of a European community. I like our shared history, I like our differences, I like how we all say we hate the French yet still love so many French things and actually being in France. It certainly is a shame that a lot of people, certainly in the UK, seem down on the EU. I guess that’s cos the press have hijacked the concept of Europe and turned it into a Keep Our Beef British type of issue. Lower the portcullis, men! And prepare to fire the flaming arrows from the crenellated parapets at Fritz and Pierre!
There’s so many cool things about Europe that we’d all enjoy. We all go on holiday to other European countries and have a great time, why is it that suddenly when we’re back home with a copy of The Daily Mail or The Snu (sic. I just can’t bear to even write their name correctly) in front of us, we’re all anti-Europe?
(Here, have an advent calendar picture break. Consider it like a chocolate digestive biscuit treat for getting this far.
It’s the decorations outside a big shop that sells books and CDs and stuff. Nice decorations, I think. Shame the staff are quite often surly and downright rude.)
Okay, where was I? Oh yes…
I guess it’s so much easier for the right wing people in any situation to get attention for their cause… Since when was a nice, liberal idea like, “Hey, everyone’s kinda cool, let them do what they want” used to get people ready to fight for the cause? Especially when you can have psychotic, hate-filled loonies like Bill O’Reilly barking at you, reminding you that everything is the fault of some gay men who happen to want to get married to each other. That makes it easy, huh? Blame the other person. They are the ones who make your life shit, nothing to do with your own shortcomings, oh no.
And all this harping on about protecting Christmas from the liberal nutters… Yeh, like Christmas is under threat in any way whatsoever. Fucking idiots. How about this: you stop fretting about the non-existent threat to Christmas and just enjoy it. And maybe investigate the joys of the festivals of other religions. Every seen Diwali, Bill? It’s magnificent. (When I was studying, I lived in a part of Derby that had a large Hindu population.) Why would you not want that happening on a public scale? It’s no threat to you. Why try and demand that we all pay due deference to Christmas and Christmas only? Let’s all admire each other’s special festive seasons. Why is that hard to get a grip of? I know exactly why you don’t want to get it: cos you know if normal folks actually spent some time watching other cultures having fun, they’d stop wanting to blame them for all the ills, and where would their gaze turn? To you and your cronies, skimming as much off the top as you can get away with. (I guess the good thing about this, Bill, is that, as a Christian, you’ll get the the pearly gates, and yer man’ll whip his book out, look for your name, let out a chuckle, and then whisper, “You backed the wrong horse, Bill!” And just as the smile on your face is replaced by a look of horror, you’ll plummet down and down into the bowels of Hell.)
And, oh, doesn’t my heart sink a little bit every time I walk past the Indian restaurant on my street with all the Christmas decorations. I wonder if they really want to have those up there, or do they just feel like they should have them up? And if I’m thinking about something like that, is it any wonder that there are people who see the West as nations involved in some sort of – oh no, can’t believe I’m actually using this word, but here goes – crusade?
And what’s the upshot of that? Well, the more hardcore of those people might just wanna do something about it.
Which makes me quite sad.
And you know what? What also makes me sad is that I can’t just go for a walk with Billy and enjoy watching him running around with an Afghan hound, having the time of his life. I wish I didn’t have all this stuff in my head, I wish I could just stand them and watch him desperately chasing the Afghan and think to myself, I love my little Billy.
Post script: I cleaned up the text this morning, spelling, grammar, etc. But after writing the bulk of it last night, the first thing I did was go to the BBC site and check the Champions League results. All my doom and gloom disappeared as soon as I saw that Manchester United had lost and were bottom of their group. Bwah ha ha!
I figure there’s little more to come this year from the entertainment world, so, let the lists commence…
My Favourite Songs of the Year
1. Hollaback Girl by Gwen Stefani
2. Gone by Kanyé West
3. Push The Button by Sugababes
4. Heard ‘Em Say by Kanyé West
5. Krafty by New Order
Runners-up: Oh by Ciara, Can I Have It Like That by Pharrell Williams, Atomik Lust by Super Furry Animals.
(When I was going through iTunes sorting out which were my favourites and making sure I’d not forgotten any, I was kinda shocked that more guitars weren’t involved. Guitars tend to be all over most of my favourite albums, yet my fave songs this year are quite obviously huge, big, POP songs. Hurrah for pop music.)
My Favourite Albums of the Year
1. Late Registration by Kanyé West
2. Extraordinary Machine by Fiona Apple
3. Transistor Radio by M. Ward
4. The Light At The End Of The Tunnel Is A Train by Whitey
5. Fall Heads Roll by The Fall
Runners-up: Take Fountain by The Wedding Present, I Am A Bird Now by Antony & The Johnsons, Floorshow by Baxter Dury.
(The first two albums on the list are miles ahead of the rest. Kanyé’s album soundtracked the second half of the year, Fiona’s the first half. Oh, and of course, I’m referring, rather nerdily, to the leaked Jon Brion version of the Fiona Apple album, not the official one which is lacking something. And there you have it, Jon Brion’s hands involved in both of them…)
My Favourite Films of the Year
1. Un Long Dimanche De Fiançailles
2. Dear Wendy
4. Team America: World Police
5. Wallace & Gromit – The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit
(The first two films are exceptionally lovely and beautiful. Crash was a film I liked a lot at the time, and just couldn’t stop thinking about for the weeks afterwards. And the last two prove that computer animation still has a long way to go when making a film without human actors.)
My Favourite Books of the Year
1. My Friend Leonard by James Frey
2. To The Baltic With Bob by Griff Rhys Jones
3. Ice Haven by Daniel Clowes
4. Checkpoint by Nicholson Baker
5. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
(If you’ve not read James Frey’s first book, A Million Little Pieces, you should read that before My Friend Leonard cos they relate to each other. For those of you outside the UK, Griff Rhys Jones is mainly known for being mildly funny on British tellies in the eighties and nineties. His book, though, is a wonderful account of sailing in a small boat from England to St. Petersburg. Ice Haven is a comic book, and very very beautiful. Checkpoint is about two men discussing killing George W. Bush. You probably know about the last book so I’ll shut up.)
A couple of links to finish up the lists:
The Lister – A blog that likes lists by Flip Flop Flying regular comments-boy, Dave.
Keef’s Rants – A new strange little blog that I somehow came across last night by a bloke who doesn’t like these end-of-year lists. His writing style is, err, unique, but quite absorbing.
Those who read yesterday’s rant may be interested to know that the Telekom man came about half an hour ago. He was a nice lad, about 12 years old. Oh, and I found something I’ve never used in Microsoft Word before: AutoSummarize. I was trying to click Word Count, but, y’know, butterfingers. Anyway, it highlights the key parts of a text. So I put in yesterday’s post and this is the summary:
Between 8.00pm and 4.00pm. I used to work for British Telecom doing directory enquiries as a summer job. The truly mystifying thing is this: within hours of signing up for this new Internet service, I got an SMS text message on my mobile phone welcoming me and blah-de-blah-blah. Why treat customers with respect when they can treat them like shit? If only they were packets of marshmallow.
So there you go.
Oh, and nearly forgot, here’s today’s advent picture. It’s the big Christmas fair on Unter den Linden.
Tomorrow I will be in my flat between the hours of 8.00am and 4.00pm. Sorry, Billy, no walks or urinating for you. Cos a man from Deutsche Telekom is due to come to install something-or-other that’ll allow me to have a new Internet service provider. He, who is being paid by me to do this, can’t be any more specific than that. Between 8.00pm and 4.00pm.
Right: this has GOT TO STOP!
We, the people, need to do something about this. I don’t know what, but we need to have a cup of tea and a think. It’s only really an inconvenience for me, cos I work at home all day, but for those of you who have to take a whole day off work – a day that you could be using for, oooh, an extra day in Bali or something – it’s gotta be a bitch.
Why can they not be more specific? There is no reason for this. Deutsche Telekom probably have printed sheets which they give to your employees with all their duties of the day printed on them. I don’t imagine they just randomly drive around Berlin in your truck until the boss phones and say, “Yeh, dude, can you go to Craig’s house at some point today… no, it’s not important, finish your lunch… if you can get there before 4pm that’d be great.”
And I also imagine they know how much work these chaps can do in a day. I don’t want to be totally inflexible, cos I realise that some jobs may take a bit longer, there might be bad traffic etc., but is it not possible for them to give us an estimate within, say, a two hour period? If it’s not, then their whole business operation is a shambles.
(An aside. I used to work for British Telecom doing directory enquiries as a summer job. We were told to only spend a specific amount of time dealing with each enquiry. When I asked if helping, say, a confused pensioner find the correct number wasn’t more important than getting that call over with within a specific amount of time, I was told that, no, your average call time is important if you wanna keep your job. My point here is that these companies do have issues with being productive annd punctual with their time. Any chance they could afford that privilege to their customers too?)
The truly mystifying thing is this: within hours of signing up for this new Internet service, I got an SMS text message on my mobile phone welcoming me and blah-de-blah-blah. If this can be done, isn’t it possible that Deutsche Telekom could do the same sort of thing with their installation dudes? A quick push of a button on an electronic something like DHL or UPS fellas have when you sign for a package, and it could send an update automatically to the customer. Something like, “Hey, we estimate we’ll be there around 12.30. Might be 20 minutes or so either side, but y’know, we’ll be there soon.”
Nah, that’s way too much like treating the people who keep their company going with some respect. Why treat customers with respect when they can treat them like shit?
I give up. I’m off to live in a hut and grow my own potatoes…
Oh, the advent photo above is some packets of candy floss at a Christmas market. If only they were packets of marshmallow. That’d be a yummy conical bag of pastel-coloured joy.