September 14, 2005

Panic Buying Continues

This week has seen a surge in the use of petrol stations after the Supermarkets ran out of Milk Chocolate Hob-Nobs. This is because there are fears that the supply of Hob-Nobs may be cut off completely if plans for a bloackade of Hobs goes ahead. There are no fears of a shortage of Nobs, as anyone who goes in HMV will tell you there is an abundance of people buying James Blunt CDs. Indeed the amount of Nobs in this country alone would be enough to theoretically last until 2:34pm January 6th 3512 (approx.)

Mass queues have formed outside petrol stations across the country with the media fueling the situation out of all proportion. Queues as long as ten miles, or 160,000 Hob-Nob tubes stacked in a line, have formed as people are worried that they might run out of Hob-Nobs before the end of the week.

The proposed blockade of Hobs is because of spiraling Hob-tax and a general rising trend in the price of Hobs. Over the summer the poor weather and enthralling Ashes Series have resulted in lots of people staying inside and drinking tea and eating Hob-Nobs, resulting in a Hob crisis as suppliers bumped up prices to match the demand. Tautologically students, slackers and fat people are furious that their number one pastime now costs so much and are wanting to "sit around and be lazy."

One worried customer had this to say: "I'm worried because next week it's my turn to host the Wooly Hat Wearing Club Afternoon Tea, without out a good supply of Hob-Nobs I'll be a laughing stock. I know that it's still a week away but you have to be sure." One Hob-Nob buyer claimed to have enough Hob-Nobs to last until the next time England win the Ashes Series.

Consumer groups are angry with the government, claiming the high tax on Hobs is an attempt to force people to be more healthy. The reasoning is that many people may have to resort to eating horrible fruit if they can no longer afford Hob-Nobs.

On a happier note the heroic England cricket team has deservedly been able to sort out a supply of Hob-Nobs for their celebrations over the coming weeks. This month was Kevin Pieterson's turn to get the shopping in and after struggling to find anywhere selling Hob-Nobs he made the most of other shoppers' inability to hold on to Hob-Nob tubes: "There's been a lot of pressure on me, I've copped a bit of stick this week. Fortunately a few catches went down and I took full advantage."

Other Hob-Nob lovers may not be so fortunate but are urged not to buy unecessary supplies as the government is certain a fuel scale crisis can be averted if everyone stays sensible.


September 13, 2005

Evil squirrels (part 2)

Follow-up to Evil Squirrel Bastards from Bloggle

As previously reported in this blog, squirrels are evil. Here is a chart showing the top ten most evil entities ever:

1. Lord Sauron 100% Evil
2. Adolf Hitler 99% Evil
= The Emperor 99% Evil
4. Joseph Stalin 97% Evil
5. Lord Voldemort 96% Evil
6. Squirrels 94% Evil
7. Manchester United Fans 93% Evil
= Bambi 93% Evil
9. Broccoli 92% Evil
10. Stiffler from American Pie 91% Evil

In the previous blog entry I drew attention to squirrels pretending to be rabbits in order to get into people's homes. Now they've taken on grander designs. Here is a picture of the University of Warwick Students Union taken with a normal camera. Try to spot any disguised squirrels. I'll give you a clue, there are four of them.

Gerroff! The gold

Can you see them? Here's some help: this is the same shot, but taken with a special camera that conveniently put's circles around any disguised squirrels.

How many did you manage to get? Not many? Without the special camera it's very difficult indeed, but not impossible. I'll give you some tips.

  1. Look at the fiesta, do you notice how it's parked next to another similar car? This a typical squirrel trick: imitation. If you see two things together that look the same, the chances are that one of them is a squirrel in disguise. The same rule applies to the light bollard.

  2. Squirrels like to disguise as signs. Think about it for a minute. The best place to hide is the last place someone would think to look. People always look at signs in order to see where they are going. So only a fool would hide as a sign because so many people would see it, right? Wrong. Because of this signs are the best things to disguise as. No one expects it. It's a classic case of missing what's right under your nose. This is why in the picture the signs for the Union and Xananananananas are in fact squirrels.

If you bear these in mind then you'll have a much better chance of fighting the squirrels. It's gotten to the point where squirrels could be anywhere, before they only appeared in isolated areas. You have been warned.


September 08, 2005

Formula Blog: Round 15 – Italian Grand Prix

Drivers

10pts Antonio Pizzonia: He hadn’t driven a Formula 1 car in three months, and by the looks of it hadn’t had a hair cut in that time either. Yet he finished in his usual seventh place. I believe the nickname pizzaman is a little out-dated, sure when he had to pop down to Dominoes’ to pick up Montoya’s meat feast in his Williams days it would have been okay, but with “super-fit” (teehee) Mark Webber driving perhaps lentil man would be more appropriate.

8pts Juan Pablo Montoya: His first pole position for McLaren (sort of) and a well driven win. Though the most notable thing about montoya in Italy is that he didn't mess up somewhere. For a whole weekened. Astonishing.

6pts Jarno Trulli: The Jarno Trulli school of racing: qualify well, make a good start, hold everyone up. He looked like he was going to adhere to this, but after dropping back to sixth he actually managed to gain places during the pit stops. Very odd.

5pts Giancarlo Fisichella: On the podium again at last. It was a sign of how desparate things had gotten for Fisichella when he almost got lost on the way to the rostrum. Well, it had been a while.

4pts Jacques Villeneuve: Kimi Raikkonen's "nemisis". Okay, so it was Villeneuve who caused Kimi to lock up at the Nurburgring but I doubt very much that he registers on the Finn's radar much, except for when he's getting lapped. It was a better performance at Monza, even if he still ended up behind Massa.

3pts Fernando Alonso: When he becomes champion he'll make history. That's right, the first Champion to do card tricks.

2pts Takuma Sato: Compared with some of Sato's other performances this season Monza was a big improvement. If only BAR hadn't put enough fuel in his car to get it back to Brackley.

1pt Kimi Raikkonen: Why on earth would he want to go to Ferrari? Supposedly he's signed something, but what exactly? An autograph for Jean Todt on a napkin, which the Ferrari boss had sneakily folded over so Kimi couldn't see the words above saying "I promise to drive for Ferrari"?

-1pt Christijan Albers: If he has a contract for 2006 in his briefcase (do F1 drivers have briefcases? I'd imagine the luggage capacity fo the Minardi is somewhat limited) he'd better sign it quickly before Doornbos starts showing him up.

-2pts Mark Webber: He didn't impress much, his efforts to overtake Coulthard were pretty pathetic. Added to that a "loser" who "couldn't do as well in races [as in testing]" was Williams' star driver in Italy.

-10pts Jenson Button: I'm completely bored of Button-gate II. You want some embellishment on that? I told you. I'm bored of it.

Constructors

10pts Toyota: The most improved team of the year and aren't they getting close to Ferrari? If they beat them then maybe, just maybe, Toyota aren't the absolute most over-funded team in the pit lane.

8pts Williams: Where did that come from? They only came away with seventh place, but throughout the weekend (except unfortunately for qualifying) they were right on the pace. Given that they're using an engine that's fundamentally a year older than everyone elses it's nto bad going.

6pts McLaren: That car is fast. It's only taken three years of development from the MP4_18A to make one that works okay. Now for the reliability.

5pts Renault: If the McLaren wasn't so unreliable Kimi would be leading the championship. That's all well and good but if the Minardi was quicker than the rest then they'd be winning. Let's not get silly with Ifs and Buts, the F1 championship (these days) is for teams to build fast cars to last all weekend, er two weekends, not just for a couple of practise sessions. Renault have done this.

2pts Sauber: They beat their primary competition, which is, er, Red Bull and…

1pt Red Bull: I'm a (the?) fan of Christian Klien, but it's a bit curious that he's been given the nod ahead of Liuzzi for Spa. Only I'm not sure what it tells us: are they trying to beat BAR to sixth in the constructors championship? Are they going to drop Klien but want to be nice and give him a few more drives? (yeah right!) Does Liuzzi not know the way to Belgium? But then Red Bull are the people who brought you such ideas on driver selection as "No Peter don't sign that rubbish Finn who's only driven in Formula Renault, take Enrique Bernoldi on, oh go on!"

-1pt Minardi: A bunch of Russian business men represented by Eddie Irvine want to buy Minardi. Red Bull want to buy part of Minardi. Flavio Briatore used to co-own Minardi, Bernie Ecclestone "invested" in Minardi to save their butts. Wait for the "Schumacher to buy Minardi" rumours next year when the seven times champion announces his retirement next year.

-2pts Jordan: They did at least get the better of the Minardis, but what difference did the new car make? Bugger all by the looks of things. Following reports that Anthony Davidson might be on his way to the team next year Jordan relationship counciller (or whatever) Johnny Herbert made an interesting quote regarding Karthikeyan's and Monteiro's chances of driving next year: "I guess they are in the picture but of course we've got to look at what is out there at the same time." Roughly translated it sounds like they have next to no chance.

-3pts Ferrari: At the rate things are going Rossi might be better off adding stabilisers to his Yamaha and going F1 racing on that rather than signing for Ferrari.

-4pts BAR: For the aformentioned over-fill of Sato's car and generally not being good enough.


September 01, 2005

Leeds Festival 2005

Sunday

At festivals you get plied with freebies – evidently they’ve done a bit of research into the sort of things students like: free things is of course the top answer. Amongst this is lots of condoms – what on earth am I going to use them for? I might be over crediting a condom’s emotive capacity but they must despair once they get handed to me because the chances of them getting used plummets to somewhere between zero and nil. The extent to which this is true is easy to seen in the fact that I now have a sizeable collection of condoms in a draw that have been handed out at festivals and around university by well meaning types trying to protect the well being of festival goers and students, but unwittingly wasting the earth’s rubber supplies.

With the onset of the last day comes a desperation to watch as many bands as possible in order to get your money’s worth. This meant spending a little time watching the Unsigned Bands Stage. We saw The Last People On Earth, or at least they claimed to be. They’re from Hull. Cue the inevitable jokes about how if the last people on earth are from Hull then we’re all screwed. More to the point I wonder how we’d end up with such a scenario. My best guess would be that anyone hell bent on destroying the planet would take one look at the place and reckon somebody else had gotten there first.

We took a quick trip to the Carling Stage where we caught Youth Group, who apparently feature the bassist from the Vines. Any hopes that Youth Group might have more in common with them than a member were short lived as they very nearly put me to sleep.

Another stage and another band as we went to watch The Cribs in the NME tent. I’d seen them play last year and they were brilliantly energetic, so I had high hopes of a repeat performance. And again they managed to put on a good show. Next on the bill was Nine Black Alps – supposedly the new Nirvana. Seeing as how I can’t stand Nirvana I’m not really sure that there was much point in me checking them out. The comparison was fairly accurate, which meant I didn’t enjoy it all. However for fans of depressing, moaning music they’re probably very good.

I chose the moments after Nine Black Alps had finished to demonstrate my incredible abilities of getting lost and separated from my friends. After a ping-pong match of text messages we were reunited and went to the Carling Stage to watch Mystery Jets, I can’t say I was particularly bothered about seeing them play – the main reason for watching them was in order to get into the tent for the Arctic Monkeys who were on after.

The NME in their infinite wisdom had put them in their list of fifty-one reasons to go the Leeds/Reading weekend. Given that Leeds is just up the M1 from Sheffield the impending crush and lack of oxygen that came with the band’s presence on stage hardly came as a shock. My friends moaned that most of the people there were just trying to be part of the scene and that the music isn’t even that good. Which is all very well, except why were we there? It was the second time I’d seen the band play inside a month and I enjoyed it. At least I would have done if I hadn’t had someone’s elbows in my back. And ribs. And stomach. And my own elbows. And pretty much any part of the human anatomy you’d care to mention.

Our trip to the comedy tent for the day was to see Ed Byrne. He raised a few laughs but his whole act seemed to rely upon his: being Irish, being skinny, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. His best moment was:
Ed Byrne: “I was at the Reading Festival yesterday”
Crowd: “Boooo”
Ed Byrne: “You do realise it’s the same festival just in a different place?”
Which is fundamentally true, but Leeds is much better.

It was a short hop from the comedy tent to the Carling Stage after Ed Byrne had finished to watch the end of Yeti’s set. They’re the band fronted by the Libertines bassist. I was told not to expect anything like the Libertines, but I’d dispute that. They did have a similar sound, except – and you’ll find this a bizarre statement – with a bit of a country vibe in there. Whatever it was it worked okay.

I must take a few moments to pay tribute to the great freebie my friend Chris got from the V festival: an inflatable beer holder. You know how it is. You're drinking a can of (warm) beer and you want to pick something else up. You put the beer down on the ground but gravity's having none of it. Before you know it half your beer is on your jeans and everyone's pointing and laughing.

The evening run was kicked off by Arcade Fire in the NME tent. They were most notable for the fact that they seemed to have enough drummers for all the bands at the festival. I counted at least three. Perhaps Oasis ought to get in touch – they get through drummers at a similar rate to most people get through milk cartons. It was an interesting performance largely because it was so different from anything else I saw all weekend.

Due after Arcade Fire was Babyshambles, would they or wouldn't they turn up? Would they be any good? Does anyone really care anymore? As it happens they did manage to make it onto the stage, albeit ten minutes late. You could argue that they were fashionably late, but everyone else managed to get there on time. What's so special about a band who have only managed to release two singles? We didn't stick around for long as we wanted to get in position for the Foo Fighters in good time but what we saw wasn't exactly spectacular.

However the Foo Fighters more than made up for any inadequacies of the other bands. There's something extra special about the last night of a festival especially when it's to see a band as uttely brilliant as the Foo Fighters.

Dave Grohl really knows how to play to the crowd, unfortunately when I've seen them play in the past there's been a little too much chat, when all you want them to do is get on with rocking. On this occasion though he managed to keep the talking to a minimum and stuck to blasting out great song after great song. Up in Arms and The One were particular highlights.

The one criticism would be the sucking up to the crowd. "I gotta tell you guys something," someone stod behind us figured out what was coming and pre-emptively shouted out "bullshit!" Dave Grohl then proceeded to tell us that he loves Reading (crowd boos) but people in the north are more "f*ked up" and that he likes f*ked up. I think it was a compliment though I'm not entirely sure.

For the encore we were treated to Grohl taking up the sticks behind the drums and Taylor Hawkins singing on one the tracks from the acoustic album – I'll be damned if I know which one.

Back at the tents and the campsite nazis, or security as they call themselves, were out in force stamping out fires. We saw one instance of a festival goer being brutally thrown to the floor and handcuffed, all because of a fire. Cue us stamping frantically upon our own, though thankfully much smaller fire. I got the impression that the person in question had given the security guards a bit of lip but the response was slightly over the top.

The only trouble with festivals – except for the massive crowds trying to get everywhere at once, the over priced food, the idiots parping klaxons at 4am, the litter created by over a hundred thousand people, all the bands you don't want to see hogging the bill, occasionally poor sound quality on the main stage, mud, getting there, not showering, getting back and, of course, the terrible smell from the toilets – is the people running them.

Traditionally you're allowed to take in empty bottles as you can fill them up at taps inside. On the first day I was stopped trying to take an such a bottle in to the arena. The pea brain at the gates stops me and tells me that:
"You can't take in opened drinks."
"What?" I failed to see the point he was trying to make.
"You can't take in opened drinks."
"It's empty" (At this point I took the top off and turned the bottle upside down – just to display the moron what empty meant)
"Is it open?" (How else would it be empty?)
"Well technically, yes."
"You. Can't. Take. In. Opened. Drinks."
I really had no idea if he was saying this for information or whether he wanted me to bin the bottle. Okay, okay, you can't take in opened drinks, but I didn't have an open drink. I had an opened bottle, it ceased to become a drink when the last remaining drops of liquid were poured out.
"So you want me to bin it?"
"YES!"
There's very little you can do to argue in these kinds of situations so resignedly I chucked the "opened drink" into the bins. I wonder which asylum they get their staff from.

Monday

We left early in the morning, around half seven, in order to beat the traffic queues on the way out. It worked and we were soon blasting down the M1. The first thing I did upon getting home was to take a shower, if only you could accumulate cleanliness from consecutive showers. I'd take five or six before for good measure. After that there's only one thing you want to do. Sleep.


August 31, 2005

Leeds for your needs: Leeds Festival 2005

Saturday

This was the best day for the main stage with Queens of the Stone Age and the Killers on in the evening. However there was plenty of time to kill until then. Half an hour of this was dealt with by having to queue to get into the main arena at the start of the day. Or rather having to shuffle along at approximately zero miles per hour. It would be quite impossible to go so slowly if there wasn’t a wall of people also going at approximately zero miles an hour directly in front of you. Naturally there are always a few bright sparks who have figured out what would help, yelling “Get a f**king move on!” expecting it to improve their position by a few metres just because they’ve got a big gob. Genius. I don’t know why more people haven’t got that one sussed; I thought we were all stood around just to piss everyone off.

The upshot of this merriment meant we missed about ninety percent of Goldie Lookin’ Chain. As it happens we’d seen them when they played last year so it wasn’t such a big disappointment as it would have been. We did manage to catch a new song with the lyrics “If you leave me now can I f**k your sister?” As ever GLC hit the nail on its lyrical head, pity we didn’t see more of the set.

Next was another trip to the comedy tent to see Hugh Lennon and Hypno-dog. Before anyone gets carried away I’ll bring down your expectations of Hypno-dog. I was really excited about the prospect of a hypnotic dog but all that happened was the hypnotist, that is the man hypnotist not the canine one, hypnotised the people on stage to sleep when they looked in the dog’s eyes – I did warn you that you shouldn’t get carried away. The show was mildly interesting featuring some excellent ballet dancing and people thinking they were the Spice Girls, but I find hypnosis seriously creepy – I’d never want for someone to be able control me to their will. Now if you’ll excuse me I’ll have to read the NME to remind me of which bands I enjoyed at the festival.

There was a bit of gap until the Subways were on in the NME tent so I (my friends weren’t interested in the Subways) wandered to the main stage and saw a very small portion of Graham Coxon: his left arm. No I jest! I mean I only caught a few songs. As an Oasis fan I’m not allowed to say anything nice about Blur or anyone who’s been in Blur so he was really terrible.

The people we were camped with decided to nickname me Coxon on account of “looking like him”, rather more accurately it was because I wear glasses and have dark hair. I’ve had this all my life, being compared to David Baddiel and even Adrian Mole – a character from a non-picture book.

The Subways were worth watching, not least because the bassist is really fit. Musically they’re fairly competent and blasted through their big songs Oh Yeah and Rock n Roll Queen. The singer even showed off his climbing skills by clambering to the top of the speakers and playing a guitar solo. I thought all that movement was a little over the top for a mid-afternoon slot. Now if they’d put a pole on stage for bassist Charlotte to dance around, that I could have understood.

The typical festivalgoer, students, was reflected in the number of university hoodies on show. Every other person seemed to be wearing one emblazoned with “Sheffield Hallam”. I may have noticed them more because that’s where I’ll be next year doing a PGCE but I’m convinced there were more there than you would have expected, or maybe I kept seeing the same person over and over.

After a quick trip back to the campsite for a beer or two it was back out to watch the Coral. I’m not a huge fan even if this was the third time I’d seen them play, indeed it was the second time in less than two months. I find them the sort of band that’s kind of just there – they won’t blow your socks off but they’re not so offensive as to have you running away from the stage screaming “I can’t take it anymore!”

Next was Queens of the Stone Age, or rather Josh Homme and some nobodies. We went reasonably far forward, though kept a sensible distance to the inevitable carnage at the front. Even if technically they’re not the same band as they were it was still a good show. Josh Homme is a great front man but not the sort of person you’d want to spill beer over, though I guess that’s what makes him such a great front man.

The Killers followed to complete a main stage three-in-a-row. This was one of the main reasons for buying my ticket yet I couldn’t get all that excited about it now they were here. I’d convinced myself that they were going to let me down so didn’t want to get my hopes up. I needn’t have worried as they put on a good performance, unfortunately we’d moved a long way back after Queens of the Stone Age so the sound wasn’t as good as it might have been.

There was no way on earth I was going to stick around and watch the Pixies, even if the NME were making out their slot to be the best reason for going to the festival. The irony is that in avoiding them we went to watch Kasabian in the NME tent. As we expected they were bloody fantastic. We were only at the back but the crowd was crazy for it. They sounded incredible in the tent, added to that there was the sense of sticking two fingers up at the (trying to be) in-crowd watching the Pixies by snubbing the main stage. It was the highlight of the weekend so far.


August 30, 2005

Fest is Best: Leeds 2005

Thursday

Last year we made the grave error of setting off for the Festival after lunch. This resulted in waiting for four hours in traffic queues usually reserved for smartly dressed business people commuting in busy city centres, not scruffy students/miscellaneous misfits sauntering along in what would be quiet city suburbs. Not to be caught out again we were off by 9am. On the approach to the junction off the M1 were braced ourselves for the sight of a long line of traffic, but to our immense relief found none. We continued on the same roads that a year ago had been so full with ease. It was a huge shock to the system and a hushed awe set upon us out of fear of jinxing it. This worked and we were in the car park before midday.

We set off to find base-camp: my friend Chris ringing up our camp-mates to try and find it with no success. However as is often the case in such scenarios we bumped into them purely by chance – it’s amazing how this happens at festivals. It’s as though there’s some sort of psychic connection brought about by the music.

No sooner had we put up the tent than Leeds treated us to extreme weather conditions, Glastonbury may have been all but washed out, but did they have hail? It may have been a festival – such events aren’t subject to the normal weather climate, almost anything goes – but ice falling from the sky during August came as a surprise.

We went for a wander around the festival site to check out the lay of the land. Naturally it looked the same as it had done the previous year. On this wander came an example of utter stupidity: people asking me for directions. I don’t understand why but you could put a hundred people with maps stood next to an information desk and a lost person would still ask me, possibly staring at my feet wondering why one hundred people with maps need to be stood by an information desk, for directions. I must look like the sort of person who knows where they’re going. Members of the University of Warwick Orienteering Club will tell you that this is emphatically not the case. In this case the directions I needed to give were simply “keep going and you’ll find it”, which I always find by far the easiest to give. I do wish people wouldn’t ask me as I always worry I’ve sent them to some frightening place like Baghdad, Mordor, or in this case: the centre of Leeds. I do like to help though – I don’t smoke but I’m sorely tempted to start carrying round a lighter just so when someone goes “Got a light mate?” I can go “Yes!” and make myself useful.

Friday

I woke up typically early and seeing as lie-ins in tents aren't half as much fun as their bed equivalent I got up and went for a walk around the site. As always with festivals there were lots of people about – though it was impossible to tell whether they were up late or up early. I walked past the Samaritans tent and was asked how I was. This is all well and good, you'd hope the samaritans wouldn't tell people passing by the go fuck themselves, but it made me a little paranoid that anyone might think that I'd have a less than acceptable well being. As an aside when i first went to Leeds in 2000 I got dumped during the festival so if anyone had asked me how I was I'd probably have broken down in tears.

Friday was the "rock" day on the main stage, ergo an opportunity to spend some time in the NME and comedy tents. The first bands we saw were The Rakes and Sons and Daughters. Unfortunately both were very poor so halfway through Sons and Daughters we went and plonked ourselves down in the comedy tent. As luck would have it we managed to catch the exceptionally funny Reginald D. Hunter.

Then it was back to the NME tent to watch Maximo Park - a band I'd heard very little of but was impressed by. Well, thank goodness for that. I like comedy (why wouldn't I?) but I didn't want to have to keep plodding into the comedy tent every five minutes because the bands were so bad. Apply Some Pressure naturally was a real highlight, possible because it was one of the few songs I'd heard but was performed nicely.

A quick trip back to the tent to cook some, soon to be rather black, sausages on a disposable barbecue was followed by a deliberate and unusually planned outing back to the comedy tent to see Toby Foster – Les from Les Alanos on Phoenix Nights – ripping into the police, southerners and had the audience been different I presume students would have been next on the list. It was fantastic! It's horrible but there's nothing funnier than hearing a good slagging off, especially with such well chosen subjects.

We wandered across to the main stage and caught the end of Marilyn Manson. Unfortunately it was only the end of the set and not of the band itself – it brought back memories of 50 cent from last year, a combination of bemusement and general what-the-hell?

The headliners were Iron Maiden which meant my appeals to watch the Futureheads fell on death ears. Unpertubred I went to see them on my own. It was a great show, much better than Maiden of course. During Hounds of Love they split the crowd down the middle for the "oh, oh-oh" and "oh! oh! oh!" bits at the start. Unfortunately I couldn't actually see the band so had no idea which side I was on, neither it appeared did anyone around me.

After the Futureheads I found myself at something of a loose end. Next up on the NME tent was Bloc Party – a band that I find incredibly dull. On the other hand we were camped near the fairground so perhaps something so completely mind numbing might help compensate for the terrible wailing of mixed up crazy frog gibberish being blasted out and help me get some sleep. On the Carling Stage was Echo and the Bunnymen, of whom my knowledge is limited to knowing that they once did a song with Liam Gallagher on the backing vocals. Though his contribution was only singing “Yeah, yeah, yeah” a few times.

In the end I opted to watch the rest of Iron Maiden on the main stage. Well, it would be foolish to not at least check them out. I proved my rock and roll credentials by standing at the back with a nice warm cup of tea trying my best not to shiver in the kind of cold that can only be found out of the crowd at open air concerts. The band didn’t particularly amaze me though I could appreciate that they were probably quite good if you like that sort of thing. I don’t much go in for gigs with giant devil/monster puppets. As it happens I was once accused of looking like I was an Iron Maiden fan. I can only presume the accuser was blind seeing as a typical Iron Maiden fan is fat with long greasy hair and a menacing miserable expression on their face, compared with my scrawny frame, short well kept hair and permanent slightly nervous grin. I left before the end in order to avoid the dull trudge out of the arena in the huge crowd.


August 24, 2005

Formula Blog: Round 14 – Turkish Grand Prix

10pts Robert Doornbos: He finished ahead of the two Jordans, which for Alonso would be like beating the McLarens. And, there aren't any cars four seconds slower thant he Jordans to push them out of the way.

8pts Jenson Button: A huge mess in qualifying, even if he was in good company. He made up for it in the race by making lots of great overtaking moves which seemed to put him in the company of… pretty much just himself. It was interesting to hear that he'd wanted Barrichello as a team mate, which is a bit of a backhanded compliment as surely it means Button reckons he can trounce him.

6pts Christian Klien: Red Bull might be on to something. Last year Christian Klien did a steady but unspectacular job. But this year with the constant threat of losing his seat he's driven like a man on fire, or at least one stood next to a radiator.

5pts Kimi Raikkonen: Extra credit to Raikkonen for ignorng the press accusations of him having a bit of nudge, nudge, wink, wink with another woman. Who really cares? And quite why he'd want to do that is beyond me anyway. He's married to a former Miss Scandanavia. Without using frightening genetic modifications how exactly is he going to improve on that?

4pts Fernando Alonso: I'm not sure if anyone else noticed it, but Jim Rosenthal refered to him as "World Champion Fernando Alonso", maybe he'd picked up Bernie Ecclestone's clipboard instead of his own by mistake.

3pts David Coulthard: It all looked so simple.

2pts Giancarlo Fisichella: On the front row for the first time since Australia. It took a lot of effort too… from the other drivers; making sure they went off perhaps out of sympathy.

1pt Narain Karthikeyan: Unlike his team mate he managed to last the whole raace without shunting off one of the leaders.

-1pt Juan Pablo Montoya: So close to a McLaren one-two, yet so far.

-2pts Mark Webber: It's all well and good complaining about Schumacher turning in on him but he was a lap down. Anyone would think he did it on purpose to try to get out of having to drive the Williams any further.

-3pts Felipe Massa: "I did the race simulation on my PlayStation and I won! And I did on the difficult level, against all the other championship runners." Er, right, if only life were a computer game eh, Felipe. I nominate Minardi as Spyro the Dragon for Doornbos's brake fire and Ralf Schumacher as Super Mario for the astonishing amount of coins he collects.

-4pts Takuma Sato: Oh no! As if his qualifying lap wasn't bad enough, he even screwed up on his in-lap.

-5pts Ralf Schumacher: I should have known it. I sing his praises after a strong drive in Hungary, then what? It must have been difficult for Ralf to finish quite so low in the order.

-6pts Michael Schumacher: By his own admission the highlight of his weekend was gaining places over retirees for his qualifying slot. You can't really argue with that.

-8pts Jacques Villeneuve: Dear, oh dear Jacques. When Sauber signed him they must have hoped Felipe Massa would be able to learn from a World Champion team mate, unfortunately as Jacques' qualifying spins shows it must have worked the other way round. Respect to Villeneuve for talking up Massa – at least his record of getting along with colleagues has improved this year – though given how the young Brazilian has shown him the way he'd be a bit stupid to mouth of about him being slow.

-10pts Tiago Monteiro: All the Minardi and Jordan drivers really need to do is to not hit anybody when being lapped. If they can't even manage that then I don't see why the bother.

Standings
39pts Kimi Raikkonen
35pts Nick Heidfeld
34pts Mark Webber
32pts David Coulthard
31pts Fernando Alonso
27pts Christian Klien
23pts Christijan Albers
22pts Giancarlo Fisichella
18pts Jarno Trulli
15pts Michael Schumacher
15pts Jenson Button
14pts Robert Doornbos
10pts Juan Pablo Montoya
10pts Narain Karthikeyan
9pts Felipe Massa
9pts Pedro de la Rosa
6pts Patrick Friesacher
5pts Takuma Sato
2pts Vitantonio Liuzzi
-3pts Rubens Barrichello
-6pts Tiago Monteiro
-7pts Ralf Schumacher
-42pts Jacques Villeneuve

Contructors

10pts McLaren: All credit to Ron Dennis for the diplomacy after the race, refusing to criticise Montoya. Imagine if Montoya had done that at Williams, you'd have heard Patrick Head screaming all the way from Turkey.

8pts Red Bull: Okay so they were out early in qualifying so had a dirty track, blah blah blah. But at least by going out early they managed to avoid the infectious cloud of craziness that fflicted the later runners, avoid a bit of confusion at the start come through and take a few points. Easy.

6pts Minardi: You have to laugh sometimes. There Robert Doornbos is, pulling into the pitlane during qualifying with rear brakes aflame. The marshalls rush out and spray CO~2~ to put them out. And which sponsor do we see adorning the Minardi rear wing? Why, it's www.CO2tv.com !

4pts Renault: They're sneaking towards the world championship so you have to give them some credit.

2pts Toyota: Another decent points finish – they're still too dull though. They don't have the sparkle of Jordan sticking it to the "big four" in the late nineties or Renault challenging Ferrari, McLaren and Williams in 2003 or BAR last year. Anyone would think Toyota made exceedingly bland cars or something, I just don't see how else you'd explain it.

-1pt BAR: Was this the deal that Nick Fry was offering Williams? "I'll only get Sato out of the way if you let us keep Button"

-2pts Sauber: A "typical" Sauber performance in Turkey as I can barely remember what happened to them.

-3pts Ferrari: "Definitely there was no light. It was very dark." So said Jean Todt about the metaphorical light at the end of the Ferrari tunnel that seemed to disappear in Turkey. I don't imagine Vodaphone liked that one much, was the Ferrari principal suggesting that their reception is particularly bad when going under tunnels. Tut tut.

-6pts Jordan: Properly beaten by Minardi at last, that new car can't some soon enough. Trouble is, that's been the situation since about May.

-10pts Williams: It really is a desperate situation when they can't even make wheel rimes that'll take tyres for more than ten laps at a time. And we all thought the rest of the car was bad.

Standings
51pts Red Bull
49pts Minardi
45pts McLaren
43pts Renault
33pts Toyota
19pts Sauber
18pts BAR
-9pts Ferrari
-18pts Williams
-19pts Jordan


August 20, 2005

Bob the Builder – Can We Fix It?

This song means so much to me because it reminds me of a special time in my life. I can really relate to what Bob was singing about; I think we'd get on well if we met.

The song is much deeper than most people realise. I think the building and fixing in the song is actually a metaphor for how we live our lives. Especially the part where Bob sings: "Building and fixing till it's as good as new". To me this means rebuilding ourselves and our lives after things go wrong.

The chorus is so anthemic too. I love the positivity of "Yes we can!" It's the kind of spirit that lifts the soul. When I'm about to do something really important like being a pretentious show off I'll listen to this song before to motivate and inspire myself. I challenge anybody to not be inspired by such lyrical genius as "We can tackle any situation. Look out 'cause here we come".

Another point about this song is the subliminal communist messages: "Working together, they get the job done" is actually a modern take on "workers of the world unite". The bit about the "sun goes down" is about the impending fall of capitalism.

This really was Bob's finest hour, a few months after this came the scandal involving Bob and that servant girl and later his problems with drink. At the time when this was released though, Bob was a true superstar and hero.

Bob the Builder - Can We Fix It?

Take your places
Can we fix it?
Yes we can

Bob the Builder
(Can we fix it?)
Bob the Builder
(Yes we can)

Scoot, muck and Dizzy
And Roly too
Lofty and Wendy
Join the crew
Bob and the gang
have so much fun
Working together
They get the job done

Bob the Builder
(Can we fix it?)
Bob the Builder
(Yes we can)
Bob the Builder
(Can we fix it?)
Bob the Builder
(Yes we can)

Time to get busy
Such a lot to do
Building and fixing
'Til it's good as new
Bob and the gang
They can really be found
Working all day
'Til the sun goes down

Bob the Builder
(Can we fix it?)
Bob the Builder
(Yes we can)
Bob the Builder
(Can we fix it?)
Bob the Builder
(Yes we can)

Wow!

Oh dear,
Can you fix it?
Right, left a bit, right a little
Okay, break down
We can tackle any situation
Look out 'cause here we come

Can we dig it? Yes
Can we build it? Yes
Can we fix it? Yes

Bob the Builder
(Can we fix it?)
Bob the Builder
(Yes we can)
Bob the Builder
(Can we fix it?)
Bob the Builder
(Yes we can)

Digging and fixing
Having so much fun
Working together
They get the job done

Can we dig it? Yes
Can we build it? Yes
Can we fix it? Yes
Bob the Builder
Bob the Builder
All together now

Bob the Builder
(Can we fix it?)
Bob!
Fantastic! Yes, Yes, we can
Bob the Builder
(Can we fix it?)
Bob the Builder

Bob the Builder
(Can we fix it?)
Bob the Builder
(Yes we can)

We'd better get some work done


August 18, 2005

Gosh, the moon looks awful big tonight…

Last night I looked out of the window and the moon looked massive on the horizon. Is this because of some kind of "Honey I blew up the kid" mischief or does it like to sneak up on us to remind us that it's there?

You may have guessed that it's neither of these – though the moon does have an elliptic orbit.

Previously a popular held belief was that dense air near the ground refracts the light from the moon acting as a magnifying glass. Scientists since have dismissed this as utter bollocks – in a manner of speaking.

To see that the moon in fact stays the same size wherever in the sky it is measure it. The best way is to roll up a newspaper and stick it against your eye like a telescope. Tighten it so the moon fits just inside and sellotape it in place. Whenever you look at the moon through the paper, it will fit snugly inside.

Okay, so it's an optical illusion of some form, but what's going on? Some of the supposed best explanations on the internet are written by very clever and smug scientists who are intent on making sure everyone who stumbles across their work realises how very clever and smug they are. Unfortunately this has two effects: firstly, it's extremely boring. And secondly, it doesn't make any sense. Unless you yourself happen to be a very clever and smug scientist.

This is the basics though:

The Ponzo Illusion . Viewers of such TV programs as How 2? will be familiar with this sort of trick. There's a school of thought that suggests the moon's size appears larger because of houses and trees acting as the lines. It's a neat explanation but it falls short. People in aeroplanes observe the same trick with the moon and as a rule they don't have many houses or trees to gauge the moon against.

The flattened sky . The thinking here is that we perceive the sky to be dome shaped. So we expect objects on the horizon to be further away – in the case of things in the sky such as birds or planes they actually are. So we expect a moon on the horizon the be (significantly) further away than one in the sky above us. This leads our minds to compensate so we perceive the moon to be bigger. This is neat and tidy, but the big brains prefer a similar but slightly more technical explanation…

Oculomotor Micropsia and Oculomotor Macropsia, which to my immense disappointment are not spells performed by Harry Potter. When we look at a moon in the sky we have no other objects to gauge it's distance. It may aswell be a few metres away, which our silly little human brains believe it is. This is where oculomotor micropsia sets in, making the moon look smaller. When the moon is on the horizon we can tell it's further away by gauging it against trees and houses. Because of this we have oculomotor macropsia and we perceive it to be larger.

Quite a lot of gobbledy gook I'm sure you'll agree, personally I'm quite happy with looking up at the sky and thinking "oo, pretty".


August 14, 2005

Big Bother is over

Follow-up to Big Bother from Bloggle

Big Bother finished on Friday and was won by Sid, a shark from the waters of Australia. His main tactic was eating the other contestants, including: an iguana, a chimpanzee and George – a plumber from Dudley.

"It wasn't a deliberate ploy to eat the other contestants" said Sid before he attacked Dermot O'Leary – leaving him just alive but in great pain – "but you know how it is."

Fascist propaganda paper, the Mail on Sunday, has called for the show to be banned after housemate Edith, a rhinocerous, impaled James the gardener on her horn live on Channel 4. The Big Bother housemates responded personally saying the paper is just jealous, the Mail on Sunday escalated by telling the contestants to go f**k themselves. "We already did" came the reply.

One of the tasks the housemates had to take was a general knowledge quiz. Surprisingly none of the human contestants even featured in the top three, scoring below a squirrel, a tortoise and half a Subway sandwich. In all fairness there were still two meatballs left in the sandwich.

Frustrated by a slump in viewing figures Channel 4 executives announced that next year's series will feature more tits. Rumours that this means another celebrity series have yet to be confirmed.

In other news Sid the shark has been signed up by ITV to present a new show for Saturday nights called "Celebrity Sharks eating your eyes".


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