All entries for April 2006

April 29, 2006

Ducks (And Other Fowl) Of Doom

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4887268.stm

Bearing in mind how little bird flu has been in the press recently (kept out by the usual pandemics of government ministers being naughty and Pete Doherty) I think now would be a good moment to remind everyone that it's here, it's real and it will probably arrive at some stage with indeterminate effects/kill us all/lower house prices and cause the arrival of immigrants (depending on whether you read the Times/Sun/Mail).

To help in this, the BBC kindly published a page which identifies the Ducks Of Doom who will bring the illness into the country and bring about the apocalyse. This page does not tell the whole story. Hollyzone has gotten exclusive information which suggests that we might be in for more dangerous times than have previously been suggested.

Tufted Duck

Look at this bird.

It's hard to deny that it looks like pure, unmitigated evil in bird form. I mean look at it. How the hell could that not want to infect you all? It's got beady little psycho eyes and a very very bad mid–1990s gelled back haircut.

But these ducks are merely decoys. They're not so bad. They just look stupid. Partly because they are, their dark, gothic/gellhead appearance is being used by the real enemy to distract us. Read on to find out.

Bewick's Swan

This one is bad. Looking at this picture you might not see the problem. There it is, just like any other swan. But if we were to remove it from the white room then you will see this bird's fearsome power.

On a yellow background we can see that it is not ordinary swan, it is in fact a pair of feet and a beak! The feet are to take it to its victims and the beak is to cough bird flu all over them. Sounds freaky? Well the worst bit is that these bastards hunt at night when even the obvious dark feet and beak are invisible.

No human is that attentive that they can see that thing coming in the dark. By the time you know it's there it will have already coughed on you and then you will die. These things are dangerous, concealed evil. But they are not the worst. Even these evil swans quake before the…

Pochard

This one is so evil it doesn't even need to use bord flu to kill at will. Look at its little eyes. They are not the cute eyes of a dumb animal. They are Laser Eyes Of Death and will be used indiscruiminately against places like the London Assembly:

and random other buildings which displease it:

This creature has no mercy and will laser anyone, from jockeys to members of popular Scouse indie–pop group The Coral. You fools have been afraid of coughing ducks and sinister swans whilst the real enemy grows ready to strike.

Soon we shall all bow down and call the pochard overlords "master".

Disclaimer: I might have essay fever. Essay fever and Photoshop.


April 27, 2006

The State Of English Football

Dear all those people who are moaning about the England manager's job going to a foreigner,

You might be upset at the chance of Big Phil Scolari getting the job. I think it would be a good thing, but that's not the point. The point is you tend to moan, then list the English managers who would be better for England in a patriotic sense (the fact that no English candidate is as good Big Phil is irrelevant) and the list is usually the same

Alan Curbishly

Sam Allardyce

Stuart Pearce

Martin O'Neill

Citizens, I hate to be the bringer of bad news but there's something you need to know about Martin O'Neill

NOT ENGLISH!!!
NORTHERN IRISH!!!
NOT ENGLISH!!!
COMES FROM A DIFFERENT COUNTRY!!!
NOT ENGLISH!!!

Now stop using him to justify curious notions of English patriotism. I'd rather win the World Cup than have a crap but English manager…

Yours,
Hollyzone's football department.

PS This has nothing to do with Manchester United fans wanting O'Neill as our next manager. Honest.


April 22, 2006

Windows Movie Maker

Funny how the amount I blog is directly related to how much work I should be doing. I promise I will do some after this entry…

Computer types!

Is it possible to convert Window Movie Maker files into files which are slightly better, i.e. mpegs or avis, ones which regular media players can read? Currently I can only run my movies on WMM itself which is a bit of a hassle, and I don't want to have to burn them to DVD and rip it.

Cheers.


Dreams… Can Come True?

I don't normally blog any dreams I have (because they're alsways stupid) but I had to report the one I had this morning.

Basically in it myself, Helen, Dan, and, best of all in context, Andy were in the Union, in the Marketplace, at the very very front by the stage for a concert by…

Yes, in my head Iron Maiden played the Union.

Most strange.


April 20, 2006

Finland's Eurovision Entry

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4926020.stm

Sometimes I write long winded articles on this blog.

Sometimes it is completely unnecessary to do any more than just link and quote.

Finland's controversial entry for this year's Eurovision Song Contest – a heavy metal band called Lordi (The Lord) – has upset many Finns. The band members wear scary masks, which they refuse to take off, and the lead singer wields a chain-saw.

[T]he rockers have stressed their tongue-in-cheek attitude to entertainment. As if to prove the point, they had a hit in Finland with a song called The Devil Is A Loser.

I might actually have to watch this year…

Picture from BBC website.


General Cultural And "Are You Awake?" Studies Practise Exam Paper

General Culture And "Are You Awake?" Studies

Time allowed: 3 hours, plus 15 minutes reading time during which notes may be made (on no more than three sides of the paper unless you occupy more than four interspatial dimensions in which case consult with your youngest cousin before proceeding) but NO ANSWERS MAY BE BEGUN UNLESS YOU'VE BEEN GOOD

Answer one question from section A, two from B and as many as you can be arsed from C.

Read carefully the instructions on the answer book and make sure that the particulars required are entered on each answer book. Failure to do so will result in instant death.

Do not substantially repeat material from assessed essays and yes we do check. Or do we? You gonna risk it?

Section A

1. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes have just given birth to Suri. Holly Cruise grew up in Holmes Chapel after moving from London which borders Surrey. Write some long winded bollocks about how irritated Holly must feel by all the attention she is currently getting as a result of Tom (no relation).

2. Why is Channel 4 not working properly when the only programme on TV these days that I watch is on Channel 4? Remember to include reference to how ace Green Wing is in your answer.

3. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. But who else? And why?

4. Discuss the moral economy of trying to get as many song lyrics into exam answers as possible. (Marks will be deducted for any uncredited song lyrics.)

5. Why didn't you revise more modules? You said you were going to but you just had to go to Top B and find out who's playing the Final Fling, even though it won't matter as you're a finalist and you'll go anyway because you've been to enough Scores where there have been shitty 1990s no-mark groups which you hated the first time but you still attended anyway because a) you were drunk and that's what drunk people do and b) on you first day you joined a sports team and haven't actually managed to say no to them once in the last two and three-quarter years. (You may use a dictionary for this one)

Section B

ANSWER TWO OF THESE GOBBETS

1. ""Swing it, shake it, move it, make it/Who do you think you are?"

2. "You're only meant to blow the bleeding doors off"

3. "Man makes his own history but he does not do so in circumstances of his own choosing"

4. "HC1 Claim for help with health costs"

5. Dogger, Fisher, Tyne"

6. "You have reached the O2 answering service"

7. "Store in a cool, dry place"

8. "Collected
The Best of Massive Attack
On Sale 27th March"

Section C

Write about something nice.


April 16, 2006

Dear Life

I know, Life, that you find it convenient and amusing to have things happen at once. It saves time and energy. Sometimes you accidentlly create amazing things like chips and coleslaw or Steve Bruce and Gary Pallister.

However, based on today, I can tell you that stomach bugs and wisdom tooth ache do not make a top notch combination.

Seriously, is there some conspiracy to stop me eating?


April 12, 2006

Chavs And The Working Class

Writing about web page http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,1751172,00.html

Ah, I knew it would happen eventually, and I knew it would happen in the Gruaniad. And sure enough John Harris has leapt forth with a long article about how the rise of media coverage of "chavs" is a manifestation of a new snobbery. Finally the middle and upper classes have the stick with which they can beat the lower classes anew. From Vicky Pollard to the front page of all tabloids, the working class are again mocked and denigrated.

Except the working class don't really see it that way.

Harris's article makes some interesting points. It also makes some claims which I personally find to be a little overblown. But the main point of contention is that I don't see things his way, I do not believe that the chavs are the new working class, do not think, as he seems to, that to be working class is to own a Burberry cap and some white tracksuit bottoms to go with their Crazy Frog ringtone. The article says that 66% of people consider themselves to be working class. If this is so then I can honestly say that 66% of the people I see everyday are not chavs. And I live in south Leam so get to see two of the three areas of the Leam, the poorer south and the slightly better off centre and north west. Only the rich area remains a mystery to me.

So what are chavs in my experience. They are a tribe. Tribes transcend class boundaries. One of the biggest chavs I knew was screamingly middle class, offspring of a company owner, and set up for life in a job in the family firm. Just not all working class are chavs, so not all chavs are working class. When I was growing up the Crewe to Manchester train line ran through my town. Each stop was either a "scally" (north western chav) or "mosher" town. The kids in these tribes were no better or worse off than each other, they were just as working class as each other (with a few middle class locals mixed in). The difference was that the goths and moshers were more likely to end up leaving school with A levels and going to university. Even the middle class cahvs were heading off at 16 to lounge around on their family fortune.

The chavs are a tribe whose defining feature is not their working class status but their anti-intellectualism. They were the school bullies who terrorised the kids who did well in school. The disrespect they show is less about class rebellion than a desire to demonstrate how against "swots" and "spoffs" they are. A lot of people will disagree with this. But go to a lot of universities and I can guarantee you will find people raised in a chav environment who have lost a lot of their chaviness. Yes, part of this is conforming to social environments but even in a place like Warwick those of similar socio-economic class tend to end up nearby (the difference in accommodation rents sees to that) and yet the chavs at university become less like the non-university chavs through being able to express their desire for education rather than having to supress it.

I know people will disagree with this.

The concept of people aspiring to the middle classes is something which Harris mentions in his article. Many people see the chavs as a valiant defence against the menace of middle class mundanity. But there are plenty of vibrant people in the working class who aspire to something better than chav life without being what these writers seem to see as class traitors. There is nothing middle class about having books in the house and a degree. Not anymore, anyway. The influx of immigrants in the last century has done a lot of affect the class structure here as there are many from countries where class matters less and these people are bringing in a new indifference which will hopefully spread and get rid of this moronic attachment to class we have here.

One thing which annoyed me was Harris's use of cultural touchstones to indicate the class war. Now I can sympathise with him when he points to royalty and upper class kids mocking the chavs without considering the subtle difference between them and class. But his attacks on culture were a little more bizarre. By all means criticise Little Britain's Vicky for being a chav stereotype, but remember that the rest of the characters are by no means unanimously chav. The vomiting middle class lady, Florence the cross dresser and even Marjorie Dawes all seem considerably more middle class/aspirational middle class.

Also Harris's claims about Britpop's fuelling of class war were ridiculous. Damon Albarn gets criticised for being sneering of his characters which he sang about in a "mewling" working class accent. But it's worth noting that the characters he sang about included Tracey Jacks (a civil servant), the Charming Man ("educated the expensive way") and the star of Country House (a city slicker and quite rich sounding with it). Albarn was guilty of playing the working class lad when he wasn't, so he could mock the middle classes.

Britpop was a stab against chav culture. True there was the success of chav-blueprints Oasis (whose Noel G isn't half as dumb as is sometimes assumed) but it was also a time when people like Jarvis Cocker were allowed to flaunt themselves and their working class brains. Working class and against everything chavs appear to stand for? That was much of Britpop. After all who gets remembered from that era? The Gallaghers, Blur and Pulp. The middle class Britpoppers like Elastica, Menswear and co got forgotten (probably rightly in all but Elastica's case).

So chavs are still a divisive issue. It'd be nice if the upper classes stopped laughing at the working classes but it would also be nice if bleeding hearted liberals stopped defending them as symbols of the working class. They're not. In fact the only person who is allowed to defend the working class/chav link is Julie Burchill because, even when I massively disagree with her, she's still damn good value to read. Plus I couldn't change her mind if I tried…


April 10, 2006

Thom Hutchinson Is Famous

Writing about web page http://www.thomhutchinson.com/

I am about to die of essay fever but before I do I must inform you all that

Thom Hutchinson is Famous!

And what's more I knew him when he was just an editor on a student newspaper.

Oh yes.


April 08, 2006

It's All Fun And Games On The Right

Writing about web page http://politics.guardian.co.uk/farright/story/0,,1749555,00.html

The front page of the Guardian today reported that the selection of a BNP candidate who wasn't that abstract concept we call "white" has split the party between the opportunistic wolves in sheeps clothing and the outwardly hysterical racists. What a lovely choice that leaves the average Jo(e) with… well there is a third option, vote for a political party which doesn't espouse racism, but we all knew that.

I really haven't got too much to add on this topic bar the fact that I really cannot decide whether to laugh or cry at how hilariously inept that party is. It must be some sort of recent rightist reaction to the leftist domination of head-scratching infighting. The multiple and ridiculous Judean groups in The Life Of Brian were meant as a metaphor for the socialist splits which are still evident today, even in our uni, but recently the right has fought back with:

  • UKIP – people with a mild xenophobia and a copy of the Daily Mail tucked safely under their arms, probably disapprove of foreigners coming here and taking our jobs right up to the point that they cannot get seen by the NHS (which they'd rather have without paying tax) whereupon all those nice immigrant nurses suddenly seem like a brilliant idea.
  • Veritas - like UKIP but sillier. Founded by an ego with a tan who sulked off, this lot have the same policies and mild racism as UKIP but are definitely a different party if you look erally really really hard. Honest.
  • BNP - The French get a rightist who nearly wins power, Russia get racist skinhead murderers and we get some drug dealers* and men with assault convictions** lead by an odious slimebag# who cannot even work out how racist they actually are.

No wonder Cameron is edging to the left with that look on his face which says

Who the hell are these people?

No idea Dave, no idea.

*Fact.

**Fact.

#Not verifaible but most likely true.


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