Tuesday, December 20, 2005

You may wonder if this has been trimmed for effect

This is how Annie Leibowitz got started, you know. Oh yes.

Well, maybe.

Suburban Myths

Many years ago, I bought a video recorder, and somehow this came up in conversation with my then-flatmate's mother.

"What did you do with the box?" She asked.
"Er... I put it in the bin," was my honest reply."With the packaging and all that stuff - kept the instructions and the warranty card, though."

"Did you shred the box?"
"Or tear it up or put it into a bag inside the bin?"
"Well, no - I just put folded it up and put it into the outside bin."
"Ooh, no," she said, "you need to make sure you shred it or tear it up. Otherwise the bin men will see the box, see that you've bought a new video, then they'll go down the pub and tell their friends, who'll break in and steal your new video."

I don't remember what I said to this at the time, though the series of events that she detailed certainly struck me as implausible (about as unlikely as the chain of coincidences in the Bruce Willis storyline in 'Pulp Fiction', if you ask me), and there was something about it that left a rather unpleasant taste in the mouth, though at the time I couldn't exactly say what it was.

Fast-forward many years, to the almost-now; I'm working late, and one of my colleagues who's already left for the night rings from a payphone to ask me to look and see if she's left her mobile on her desk. I go and look, and indeed she has, so I retrieve it and go back to the phone and tell her this.

"Can you lock it in your desk, please?" she asks. "I don't want it to get nicked by the cleaner or something." For the record, I did lock it in my desk, and phone and owner were reunited and all was right with the world, but...

Well, maybe it's because of reading Mr O'Farrell's book (see REVIEW posted earlier today) recently in which he does a very good job of poking fun (and occasionally kicking fun) at the snobbery and class-system-ism that still lingers in the UK, but it's only in recent times that I've come to realise how often these kinds of comments get made; the cleaners are invariably responsible for pilfering things, be they watches from school changing rooms or mobile phones from office desks, and the men who empty my dustbin are only doing so as an excuse to check out the wrappings of my recent purchases. I mean, it's obvious.

It's bad enough that people who do vital jobs get paid ridiculously poorly (teachers, trainee nurses, sewer workers, etc) without white people from comfortable middle-class backgrounds acting as if they're all would-be criminals just waiting for the first hint of a slight chance of an opportunity to barge their way into their safe suburban lifestyles and steal away their not-so-hard-earned material luxuries.

For crying out loud, talk about adding insult to penury.

Baked beans are off

Well, I only just found out that they make this - Spam Lite, with 25% less fat and salt than regular Spam.
I mean, obviously, if you're the kind of person who eats Spam, then you're bound to be rather particular about the nutritional value of your food.

REVIEW: 'May Contain Nuts' by John O'Farrell

I've enjoyed O'Farrell's previous novels and appearances on various TV shows (haven't read any of his non-fiction), and so thought this might be a fun read. And indeed it was.

The book is told from the perspective of Alice, a rather harassed suburban mother who's so concerned to make sure her daughter gets into an ultra-competitive school that she and her husband decide to take the entrance exam for her. Okay, so maybe that's a bit of a dodgy plot premise, but really it's all just a hook for some very astute satire of modern parenting - the general social background and the specifics, such as the unspoken competition between parents.

O'Farrell's writing style is very straightforward and likeable, and the book zips along well. I'm no judge of these things really, but I think he does a pretty good job of writing from a female point of view without any patronising or obvious stuff slipping in. Granted, there are little moments where an idea is expanded upon in the way a stand- up comedian might extrapolate, but as these are frequently funny, this is forgivable.

O'Farrell also does a pretty decent job of making Alice an essentially sympathetic character, which is no mean feat as she's often acting in a frankly unhinged or shameless fashion. In all honesty, as more of my friends have kids and I see them justifying their own neurotic behaviour by pretending it's actually out of concern for their children, I can see how the Alice character rings true (if that observation seems unkind, just ignore it - I'm just jealous, obviously, my biological clock's ticking and all that).

The book's currently out in hardback (once again, I say hurrah for my local library), but I'd imagine that it'll be out in paperback in a few months. Certainly worth a look if you want to read some light modern fiction, but want more of a satirical edge to it.

Monday, December 12, 2005

LIST : Everything I know about relationships I learned from R&B, rap and hip-hop videos

• All women are either honeys or skanky ho bitches. There is no middle ground.

• Similarly, all men are playaz or losers. No exceptions.

• When arguing with your partner, ensure you make wild arm gestures and look disbelieving. This is particularly important if they're singing at you while you're disagreeing. For full effect the argument should take place in a public place. If arguing at home, be sure to smash mirrors and throw items made of glass, as they will smash in slow motion. Items holding liquids, such as glasses of water, are particularly effective, as they will soar slowly through the air, leaving the liquid in the air behind them like a 'plane's trail. For true emphasis, however, you should side-swipe a photograph of the two of you off a shelf or table - when it falls to the floor and the glass shatters, you will stare at the broken symbol of your love and share a rueful look as the chorus kicks in.

• Men: nothing woos a woman like getting your friends to stand behind you with their arms crossed, nodding while you sing a ballad explaining how you want to get freaky with her like no other girl you ever seen before.

• Women: you don't need to do anything to woo a man, except perhaps line up some of your friends and sing a song about how unworthy the man is to engage in carnal activity with you. This chasteness is best emphasised by dressing in a thong and standing with your pelvis tilted forwards

• At a club, the DJ knows what song to play merely by you nodding at him or making a specific hand gesture. Do this at any time, and he will play your chosen record.

• If you're a man and see a woman you find attractive, you should stare at her - look her up and down slowly and lick your lips. Women love that.

• On a date, move through large bodies of people slowly, nodding and waving occasionally. The people around know who you are, and the crowd will part accordingly.

• If you’re a gentleman of more sizable build, hide this fact by wearing a lot of gold jewellery and a loose-fitting baseball shirt. Women will flock to you, and dance up against you slowly.

• The battle of the sexes is best resolved through a danceoff. In the street. Ideally near a broken fire hydrant which is spraying water.

• At a club or party, make sure to avoid the object of your affection for as long as possible, stealing occasional glances across the room, or looking at them meaningfully over the rim of your glass of Cristal. Only approach and smile knowingly at each other as the song starts to fade.

• It's perfectly acceptable to attract a woman's interest by shouting as you drive past in a convertible filled with your friends. Since you're only driving at about two miles an hour, if she's taken with your method of approach, she can walk over to your car and lean in and talk to you, sticking out her bottom. After less than ten words exchanged, and only one uncertain look, she will agree to get into the car with you and come back to your crib.

• When walking down the street, entering a bar or club or any other location with your friends, always, ALWAYS make sure you walk abreast. Ideally in slow motion.

• Date clothing: men should be aware that anything bearing the name or logo of an international sportswear manufacturer is acceptable, preferably that of a firm reputed to employ child labour. For women, a bikini top, tight shorts and high heels will be suitable, no matter what the occasion. Don't worry, it never rains.

• There's no need to queue to get into clubs. The doorman will unclip the velvet rope to let you and your partner in, to the envious glances of the people left outside.

• Etiquette tip: real gentlemen ensure that, at all times, one hand is on their crotch.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Two Stray Thoughts in a week / Bet you think that's pretty clever, don't you?

1. Unless I misheard the radio report on it, I gather that the USA delegates were so offended by remarks from the Canadian PM at a conference on the environment, that they're threatening not to reach an agreement on the issue of global warming. But if they're offended, wouldn't it suggest they feel that the remarks are without basis in fact ? In which case, shouldn't they sign ? Or do they want to prove right the person they're saying is wrong?

I hope I misheard.

2. In recent times, people seem strangely keen to use the word 'yourself' instead of the word 'you'. I'm guessing it's almost like a politeness thing, as the use of the second person singular can seem quite accusatory, but it's an odd thing, and I can do without it, really. Maybe yourself disagree.

3.I feel that Jeremy Clarkson and Brian Sewell share certain traits; both of them are men who have extremes of specialist knowledge in a particular field, but who have newspaper columns covering any old subject they fancy, despite the fact that their chosen approaches (Clarkson robust and manly in a teenage knee-jerk kind of way, Sewell artsy-farty in a chin-strokey BBC4 kind of way) don't entirely work when discussing issues such as immigration.

4. One of my favourite jokes:
Two men meet at a party.
First man : I'm writing a novel.
Second man: Really ? Neither am I.

5. Just arguing with myself in my head, and realising that point 3 above might smack of hypocrisy as the existence of my online stuff in itself suggests I see myself (not yourself - see 2, above) as some kind of expert on various matters. Such as the matter of whose opinions should be seen as valid ot not. Which is sort of true, but that's because I don't see why their opinions on subjects outside their area of expertise should be given the exposure they are as opposed to anyone else's. To which the voice in my head says 'ah well, Mr Clever, what's your area of expertise, then?' and to which I am forced to reply, after a pause, that it appears to be that of gainsaying my postulations, questioning my own ideas and motivations, and then admitting as much by writing up the internal dialogues, and what limited conclusions are reached as a result of this process.

And that, my friends, is not as easy as I make it sound.

REVIEW : Flightplan

(Caution: may contain spoilers)

I often feel that Jodie Foster ends up in films which aren't really worthy of her - as if, as for Denzel Washington, there just aren't enough decent scripts being offered as possible projects. And so ho-hum ones end up getting accepted for whatever reason.

Which brings me to Flightplan. A bit of an airborne version of Panic Room (mother and daughter are in peril in an enclosed environment), this really is a curate's egg of a film. The first third is interesting, with civil engineer Kyle Pratt (Foster) and her daughter boarding a flight from Berlin to the USA, with the coffin containing her recently-deceased husband in the hold. This section of the film is quite watchable, as there are various fades in and out as we see Pratt reeling from her husband's death, and there's a quite well-established sense of uncertainty as to exactly what's real.

Onboard the plane, things take a strange twist when the daughter vanishes while her mother's sleeping, and yet no-one on the plane seems to have seen her at all, with the evidence suggesting she was never on board. Pratt's frantic attempts to search the plane are met with increasing disbelief, including a frankly rather odd performance from an onboard therapist who tries to convince Pratt that she's delusional - I say it's odd because it looks like every therapy cliché you could possibly think of; glasses removed thoughtfully, calming voice, that kind of thing.

As you'll probably have guessed, it's all a huge plot (though writing this a day or two later, I forget exactly why they needed to abduct the daughter to go through with it), and the revelation that this is so moves us into the second bit of the film, with a frankly terrible gearchange; almost every scene up until this point has featured or revolved around Pratt, as she acts as our 'viewpoint character', but at this stage one of the other characters walks away from Pratt, the camera follows, and the music takes on a menacing tone. This, you know, is the film's baddie, and the way in which this is revealed is a real mis-step. As is the expository dialogue between the conspirators, which is often on the lines of "You know the plan, we've been through this a thousand times..." and then they tell each other things they already know, purely for the benefit of the audience's understanding.

And the third bit of the film is when Pratt realises what's going on, and starts to fight back; at least this is semi-foreshadowed in her allotted job, as she needs to know where she can run around and hide. This last portion of the film is really at odds with the slow opening sequences, as if the interesting direction has been jetissoned in favour of a more straightforward action film approach. Fine in itself, but it makes the film feel like a patchwork, which means the joins are going to be visible...

The performances are perfectly adequate - Foster does what she can with some thin material, and Sean Bean as the captain is pretty decent, though I'm increasingly thinking he and Sean Pertwee are one and the same person - but after the attention-holding opening section, the premise needs to be explained and resolved, and it all feels like an inevitable slide towards the end titles, with some chasing and explosions on the way, and one or two horribly cheesey lines en route. And I've mentioned the therapist bit, which really is misjudged.

Flightplan's the kind of film you could rent and think 'that was okay', or you might even catch it on TV, in which case you'll probably be drawn in by the opening third or so, and then stick around to see how it pays off as you've watched that far.But I can't really suggest you bother with a trip to the cinema to see it. I paid half price for my ticket, but I still felt vaguely ripped off, which probably gives you an idea of how lukewarm my reaction is.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

If you're happy and you know it, think Stray Thoughts

1. I'm pleased to see that despite even the most recent of the material being over ten years old, the Bill Hicks book 'Love All The People' is shelved in the News and Current Affairs section of WHSmith in Victoria train station. I think it's what he would have wanted.

2. Despite the fanfare that accompanied its return to TV, no-one I know is watching Little Britain any more. Almost a shame, as I think the leads are very gifted comedy actors, but the scripts have become lazy and repetitive now to the extent that you can watch one episode and it's as if you've watched the whole series. Which is, of course, the danger with 'catchphrase comedy' or 'comedy characters'. As a non-watcher of the Catherine Tate show for just that reason, I wonder how long it'll be before the audience starts losing interest in the same way.

3. Since I seem to be discussing things entertainmental at the mo, I recommend Rebekka Bakken's CD 'Is that you?'. No of course you haven't heard of it, I'm a culture magpie whose eclecticity supply is never in danger of being cut off. Which is to say, she's not well-known, but if you want some late-night jazz-style music, it's spot on - for my money, the best track is 'Didn't I'.

4. The Conservative Party have elected David Cameron as their new leader. I think the degree of non-interest I have in this event is possibly the most interesting thing about it. It's like Teflon to my mind, no matter what angle I try to find to make my attention or concern adhere, it just slides right off.

5. Stephen Hawking has re-issued his bestselling book ' A Brief History of Time' in a new edition, supposedly easier to read (but no, I don't suppose we can get our money back if we bought the first edition). I didn't rate the book very highly in terms of readability, though I may be in a smallish percentage of people in that I've actually read it to the end. As presumptuous as it may be for li'l ol' me to disagree with the current holder of the Newton Chair at Cambridge, there was one bit which I thought Hawking was very wrong indeed about, and that related to the idea of the 'big crunch'.

Effectively this would be the opposite of the big bang, with everything in existence foldng back down to the single superdense point of time and space and matter that it came from (if you accept the big bang theory) - like a balloon deflating after being inflated. However, Hawking then does on to argue that if space effectively runs in reverse like this, then time will as well, with events happening in reverse, and the law of cause and effect as we understand it ceasing to work - you'd know the result of a horse race, he suggests, and then be able to bet on it.

Which sounds plausible, but for the fact that if the universe is running backwards and everything is undoing itself, this would also refer to the means by which we accumulate information - that is, the synapses and neural pathways of the brain creating the connections between subjects and events. So if everything is running backwards, your brain's connections would effectively be unravelling, and the information which Hawking's saying you could act on would be erased like a message wiped from a chalkboard.

I'd be interested to know if he's changed his stance on this side of things in recent times, but I don't intend on re-reading his book in its revised form, I have to say. If you read it, do feel free to let me know.

6. Whenever they refer to the ex-Prime Minister as 'Lady Thatcher' it makes me think of a depilatory product.

7. If Kurt Cobain hadn't killed himself, would the Foo Fighters exist ?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

REVIEW: Kyro - Half Moon, Putney, 6 Dec 2005

Yes, that's right, I was out seeing live music last night - a school night, no less - while you were just sitting around at home. Envy me? Of course you do.

Anyway, full disclosure up front: Ian, the lead singer of Kyro, is a friend of mine, and an all-round good sort, but thankfully he - and the rest of the band - are very good indeed, so this review doesn't need to be overshadowed by that personal connection.

It's quite hard to categorise Kyro's style of music - it's rock with a pop aspect; the melodies are strong and almost feel somehow familiar (in the best way), and that reminded me at first listen of Teenage Fanclub, though the newer songs they played last night (Killer, You Say and Rockstar) had a harder rock edge to them, and put me more in mind of of the Foo Fighters. Which is definitely a good thing. Rockstar, in particular, has a number of really good guitar riffs which build up to a great rock-y climax.

They played about six songs in total, and the rest of the audience seemed to enjoy it as much as I did. Damned fine show.

If there's any justice, Kyro will get a goodly amount of success and recognition, as they're seriously talented and eminently listenable - in fact, you can hear for yourself by logging onto Napster, where tracks from 'The Kyro EP' are available to download. I think there's talk of them being available on iTunes soon (if they're not already) too. They also have a webpage at http://www.kyromusic.com/, where the pictures are of a far higher quality than the one hovering above and left of these words.

Summary: Kyro rock. Good stuff. Go listen.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Stray Thoughts Strike Back

1. For those of you who've forgotten, we're all about to die of Avian Flu. Just like we were all about to die of SARS a year or so ago. And AIDS before that. If the terrorist sleeper cells don't get you, the infected bacteriological ones will, it seems. Welcome to the climate of fear. Welcome. None of this is exaggerated. Good lord, no.

2. Oh, and in case you missed the vote, George Best is now revered as a saint amongst men. Sorry, no, too late for you to cast your vote, he's already joined the pantheon of people who everyone had mixed feelings about until their death. The process is technically referred to as Di-ification.

3. She doesn't like to take off her clothes unless I turn off the bedside lamp, she feels too naked and exposed: the unlightable bareness of being.

4. For those of you who were worrying how the HSBC farrago referred to in my entry of Sunday 27 November has panned out, HSBC have apologised for the inconvenience and offered to give me a £75 compensatory gesture. Which would be nice if there wasn't a debit last week on my account for £75 which I can't account for, followed by two credits of £75 from HSBC Card Services later the same day. It might be me forgetting that I've arranged a debit, but the two payments in from HSBC look rather damning, I'd say. It rather looks as if they made an unauthorised debit of my account instead of compensating me, then paid it back, and then paid me the compensation amount… but, er, wouldn't that be kind of illegal ? Can't wait to see what they say to my letter (posted today) asking just that question. Can anyone recommend a decent bank ? Maybe one that does those offset mortgage thingies I've heard about ? Let me know. No, seriously.

Makes you wonder how the other half whizz

Unlike the plot-device unisex toilets of Ally McBeal, many places have toilet facilities which are divided along gender lines. As a result of this, my legions of female readers may not be aware that, for whatever reason, quite a few men spit whilst peeing into a urinal.

Not me, I hasten to add, and it mystifies me, as they usually lean forwards whilst urinating as if carefully aiming the saliva at the jet of urine. Are they contemptuous of their urine, and want to spit on it in disdain ? Or do they loathe the spit they've been carrying in their mouth up until this point so much they not only want to get it out of their mouth, and to immediately flush it away with urine as a symbol of how much they hate it ? I really don't know.

It's very odd, and it seems to be on the increase. As if standing next to another man urinating isn't fundamentally an odd enough situation, you're now quite likely to suddenly see them lean forward, as if trying to peer at their genitals whilst peeing, and then slowly let a bolus of spit drip from their mouth down into the whirlpool of widdle. Far from fun to be stood next to, and I can't imagine it's enormously enjoyable to do. Colour me puzzled.

And I won't get into the issue of those who, when they're done, are walkers and not washers… except to say that I've observed an inverse correlation between the position of a man in an organisation and the likelihood of him washing his hands after he's finished using the toilet. Which is something to always bear in mind when you're shaking hands with an MD or department head.

LIST: This week, I have mostly been watching...

A friend of mine recently asked me what I watch on television, and I ummed and ahhed, trying to think of the programmes I actively go to the effort of taping.

I very rarely just sit and see 'what's on', you see, as I invariably have a stack of films which I've bought but not yet seen. But at this moment in time, the only programmes I'm following are

· Lost (C4) - though it's beginning to lose my interest, as it feels as if the large cast dilutes the focus of the scripts, and there are plotlines which are going unresolved or as good as ignored for episodes on end. I'll probably give it until the end of this first series and then decide.

· Peep Show (C4) - one of the few-ish homegrown comedies on C4, this sitcom has managed to maintain a high standard even into series three

· Arrested Development (BBC2) - shunted round the schedules as much as Buffy or h&p@bbc.co.uk and constantly under threat of cancellation by its originating network in the USA, this is possibly one of the finest sitcoms in recent years; superdense with jokes, its 20-minute episodes just fly past. Great scripts and cast. But series two has just finished on BBC2 (after being dropped from BBC4 mid-series without any explanation:classy), so this probably shouldn't be here.

And … er, that’s pretty much it. If I remember, I'll watch QI (BBC2) The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (More4), or Have I Got News For You (BBC1), but I'm not that fussed.

Two observations on the above:

Firstly, I abhor the idea of the licence fee being abolished and the BBC having to operate in some other fashion. Though I find huge slices of their output to be dross, the BBC does some things very well indeed - documentaries like 'The Power of Nightmares', or my favourite TV drama of all time 'The Singing Detective' are worth the yearly £120 alone - and so I wouldn't see the situation changed. Especially as much of the motivation seems to be political (whichever party's in power invariably hates the BBC) or commercial (the Murdoch press seems to resent the BBC's historical media advantage). And I think if you look at the minimal amount I watch you can easily see that if they did change to a pay-per-view system I'd be at a considerable financial advantage.

Secondly, notice the absence of ITV programmes on the list ? There's a reason for that - ITV's output is almost entirely bilge, and I'd rather re-read the Da Vinci Code than watch any of their endless soaps, humourless sitcoms, tatty gameshows or moronic reality or celebrity programmes (and don't get me started on their celebrity reality schedule-fillers). ITV seem to tailor their programmes to the lowest common denominator, and then make sure that it's patronising even to them. Take a look at the line-up of programmes on ITV on any given night, and see if you can find anything that isn't just an insult to the intelligence.

And if you find it, let me know, because it's painfully clear to me I'm really not watching as much TV as the average person, and I'd hate to be different from everyone else.

Cold, cold water surrounds me now

Given that winter's started to bite, and that my intelligence is notoriously high, I decided to spend last weekend diving near Portsmouth, on the South Coast of England. It was 6 degrees, for those of you who, unlike me, understand the numbers on thermometers. If the technical side of things work, there should be a picture of Horsea Island just next to these words - don't be fooled by the apparently placid look of the water, it was very cold and a lovely pea-green (perhaps that should be pee-green) colour, and you could see about ten feet at best. Lovely.

But the diving itself went pretty well, and the instructors and my fellow pupils were friendly types, perhaps partly because the shared experience of being so very cold so very much of the time brought out the James T Kirk spirit or something. At one point in the conversation, though, one of the divers referred to the Surface Support people (the folks who were staying on land and monitoring how long we'd been under, making sure we had enough remaining air, that kind of thing), saying they envied them. To which one of the Surface Supporters replied with something which sounds like an aphorism, though it was new on me: "Better to be in the water and wishing you were in the boat, than in the boat and wishing you were in the water".
A good point there, I think.

Oh, and I got to roll backwards out of a boat and into the water, like you see in films and TV. Which was, in itself, worth enduring the cold for.

REVIEW: 'Lunar Park' by Bret Easton Ellis

Ellis, author of American Psycho, veers into the metafictional and post-modernist realm, in this purportedly true story of the novelist Bret Easton Ellis finding himself and his family facing a variety of seemingly supernatural and formerly-fictional threats. The writer seems to be aiming for the 'peril in the suburban home' angle here, with interesting touches such as a man who may or may not be the embodiment of various characters from his earlier novels.

All quite ripe and interesting ideas, but in all honesty it just didn't gel for me, and I gave up just over halfway through; the 'author' comes over as a pretty hopeless case, popping pills and drinking constantly whilst trying to cheat on his wife, and the sense of mounting danger as Ellis finds elements of his past and his writings stalking him is frankly lacking - often the narrative talks about a sense of dread which I, the reader, simply didn't share. The back cover (well, of the hardback anyway) displays a single statement that it all actually happened, but it rings as true as the similar paragraph at the start of Dan Brown's 'Da Vinci Code' - ie not at all.

If you want to read a story about an author being haunted by his own inventions, you could do much worse than read Stephen King's 'The Dark Half', which does this so much better. In all honesty, and working purely on memory, I think that the film 'Wes Craven's New Nightmare' deals with this idea better as well, and I didn't feel that film really hit all its targets.

On a more positive note, the author's comments about his own previous writings are interesting (even if they might be just as untrue as the rest of the book), and there's some good commentary on suburbia, with all the kids at the local school having various forms of therapy and popping Ritalin tablets as if they're Smarties. At least, I hope this aspect of it is satire, if it's an accurate depiction of life in the USA's suburban areas, that's far more frightening than anything else in the book.

So, I didn't care for it, and gave up on it (moderately rare for me with a book, but I realised I didn't care, and that the idea of reading something else was very appealing). You might well feel differently, but I'm glad this was a library copy.

Christmas Market(ing)

Tis the season for office parties, as one look in clothes shop windows will reveal; they're awash with pictures of elegantly-dressed men and women, holding champagne flutes, and invariably laughing at something.

Maybe I've just led a sheltered life, but that's not my experience of Christmas Parties at all - the work ones tend to be in pubs or restaurants, or in odd places where the environment's more a hindrance than a novelty (case in point: an aquarium where the dancing took place in the foyer, utterly fogging the glass doors with sweat-condensation; ah, how festively romantic), and the ones held by friends (or friends of friends) tend to be more relaxed ones where you can wear anything you want (reindeer sweaters for example), because well, you know, it's a party and it's about having fun and not conforming to a particular dress code.

I don't wanna sound cynical or anything, but is it possible that the clothes shop displays are kind of misleading, and intended to make people feel a need to buy into something which isn't really happening ?

This is my blog, and it's ending one entry at a time

Well, it's been a week, and as someone recently told me they prefer the shorter entries, the non-existent ones were probably even more popular. But I'm back now. Oh yes.

The first time I saw the film Fight Club, I thought "meh" and wasn't too keen (I didn't really care for the 'twist'). Strangely, though, it stuck in my mind for a several weeks thereafter, and since then I've liked it more and more on each re-viewing, until I now think it's a very good, and possibly even an important film - and rather like 'Christie Malry's Own Double Entry' it's one I don't think would be made today.

Anyway, there's a scene in it where Brad Pitt and Edward Norton (using the actor's names for reasons which will be abundantly clear if you've watched the film) are walking down a street at night, using baseball bats to hit the bumpers of parked cars and set off their alarms. However, as they pass one car, Pitt stops Norton hitting it and says 'not this one'. Now, this line doesn't appear in either Chuck Palahniuk's original novel, or the screenplay for the film, and could well be a bit of stuff they came up with at the time… mind you, as we know in the film that Pitt knows which cars are likely to experience dangerous technical breakdowns, and that the cars in question are made by one of the major manufacturers, I can't help but wonder if it's reasonable to conclude that the suggestion is that the car might explode or similar if the bumper was hit with a baseball bat.

Maybe I'm looking for things that aren't there, it wouldn't be the first time… but if anyone can tell me what make of car it is, I'll try to make sure I don't buy one.