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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Spam subject 2: Robbuck 

I have lost count of the number of spam emails that are "personalised" to me in the subject header by way of my email address but, because they are taken from a list of email addresses somewhere and their software seems to be stuck at the top of the list, they erroneously address me as Robbuck.

Who on earth would call themselves Robbuck?

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Harry Potter 

I have just finished The Deathly Hallows. What have I got to say about it?

Obviously, I won't reveal how it ends, who dies and who doesn't die. If you're here, looking for that sort of thing, all I can tell you is to not be so cheap and and go read it yourself.

Before I say anything else, I should tell you that I never intended to get on the Harry Potter bandwagon. I looked pityingly at the grown men and women on the train absorbed in their books and thinking how nice it would be when they managed to read a real book one day.

I saw the first film with friends and wasn't impressed. The story was too disjointed and there were too many children running around acting surprised. I can't think why I saw the second film. I think my friends wanted to see it and I went along with them.

This was a better film. There was actually a plot this time and less concentration on badly acted surprise. I began, at that point, to be interested in reading the books and my boyfriend at the time bought me three of the books in print at the time for my birthday.

He bought me the special editions: hardbacked books, with gold embossed covers and gold edged pages. They are very nice books to hold. Damned heavy to carry on the train to work but nice.

Rowling has a nice easy flowing feel to the way she writes and, for me, at least, she has that very special talent, that budding writers all desire and few have, of grabbing my attention in the first paragraph. Had she done the same with her agent and her publisher, I wonder?

Anyway, that first paragraph had me hooked and I had to follow the story. Then the next book, and the next. And here we with the last word on the last page read.

It wasn't the best thing I have ever read. There were a few holes in the story, a few points where one wonders how some things are known or something was lacking in the explanation. It could be argued, as with many works of fiction, that there was too much in the way of exposition.

But ... I don't care about that. It was fun, it was dark, people died, people grew up.

The book was a fitting end to the series.

There, I wrote all that without letting on about Ron's father's secret affair with Snape.

Oops.

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Golden Jigsaw continued 

There are still people looking here for the location of the 11th piece of the 1000 piece Golden Jigsaw. Admittedly, the numbers have reduced markedly since I first posted about giving up with the thing, but it's still remarkable that people are still looking, nearly a week after the issue of the clue.

Let's think about that for a bit. They've taken nearly seven days to find one piece of a jigsaw that has 999 other pieces to be found.

Do you think they'll be able to complete the puzzle in any reasonable length of time?

No, neither do I.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Eastenders plot suggestion 

Given that poor-old Phil Mitchell has had yet another relationship hit the dirt, surely it's time for him to try something else? I mean, all his failed marriages, what did they have in common?

Women.

I think he should give Minty a try. Wouldn't that boost the ratings?

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Spam subject 1: Become the ultimate pleasure machine 

Become?

Sorry, couldn't resist.

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Spam subject series 

Just for fun, I'll try to remember to record the more inventive of the spam emails I get. Part of the reason for this is that some of them are just funny. Another part is that I would love to answer some of these stupid things but obviously cannot.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Brian May will complete his PhD 

The BBC has reported that Brian May is about to hand in the thesis for the PhD he abandoned in 1971 to form Queen.

I don't know why but I find this a quietly reassuring nugget of news. Amidst reports of floods, wars and teenage antisocial behaviour, we have this nice little story of a man returning to a commitment he made nearly forty years ago and finishing it off.

It is doubtful that this will make the slightest bit of difference to the world as a whole but it's a sort of encouraging to think that it's never too late.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Chapters One, Two and Three 

I believe the three chapters are near enough ready for public consumption. I have printed them for one last proofread and then they hit the Internet.

At bloody last!

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The Last Drowsy Chaperone before the Motorway 

Er, no, I don't know what I meant by that heading either.

I am going to see the Drowsy Chaperone for a third and final time. I am going with two colleagues from work.

Why do I love this show so much? Because it's fun? Because the tunes stick in my head? Because it's one of the funniest and most inventive shows I have seen for a long while.

It's a show that doesn't rely on large showy sets or big show-stopping numbers to entertain. It certainly does not take itself seriously and you can tell that the cast as having as much of a ball as the audience. Or perhaps they are very good actors. Either way, it's good!

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Golden Jigsaw 

Edit: This article does not tell you where the Loquax piece can be found. That breaches the rules of the competition and besides I DON'T KNOW WHERE IT IS! Thanks to all those people who visited my blog looking for help. Sorry I didn't have it. Stick around next time and have a read. Now, what was I saying ... ?


The other day, I saw an article in the Metro about something called the Golden Jigsaw. I thought, at the time, that it sounded like a lot of fun.

The idea is that they send out clues which are anagrams of websites, you work out the name of the website, visit the website and find the number of jigsaw pieces that have been told to find. Then you download the pieces and slot them on to the board you have downloaded.

Two days and seven pieces in and I am giving up. It is hopeless.

Day one found people looking for pieces on a website that just could not cope with the sudden influx of visitors and became unbearably and painfully slow. The website realised this eventually and moved all the pieces in a place where they could easily and quickly found.

Day two had one piece hidden somewhere on a huge competition portal site called Loquax.co.uk. That's when I saw the competition for what it was and gave up.

This is, of course, solely a means for web-based companies to get themselves noticed. Loquax are hoping people will like what they see and visit it on a more regular basis.

It is a good idea. There are lots of nooks and crannies on the web that need publicity. This, however, has been poorly executed. In order to keep people looking, the pieces need to be easier to find, at least at these early stages. I, for one, don't want to spend hours trying to decipher an anagram or search every page on a website for a piece of a jigsaw.

Sorry, Golden Jigsaw, you lost me.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Bite! 

I mowed the lawn the other night. Wow! I hear you say. The excitement never starts.

It's something I avoid as the lawn slopes quite steeply and is fairly long. This results in the grass getting a little too long to mow, making it hard work which means that I am reluctant to mow it.

The thing was, I wore my shorts and got bitten by the scores of insects that I disturbed with the lawn-mower. I might have to visit a doctor or pharmacist or something. I mowed the lawn Tuesday night but although the bite on my arm has gone down the ones on my legs are as red and angry as they were Wednesday morning.

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Low noon 

It's nearly midday here and the sky looks as grey and dark as if the sun has just set. I love summers in England.

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Gym 

Yesterday, I had an appointment at the gym with the resident physiotherapist. She talked with me for a while, learnt how my knee operates and then devised a fiendishly difficult program for me to follow that should both make my knee better AND help me lose weight.

It's difficult, not because I am making some physical effort (which after nine months is a bit of a strain!) but because I have to concentrate on lots of things all at the same time. I have to make sure my knees don't drift outward when I am walking, cycling or rowing. I have to tighten my stomach (I think I should always have been doing that but never did), tighten my arse, keep my head up and my neck straight.

I'm going against forty two years of bad habits, many of which I should have corrected by continued use of the Alexander Technique.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Millisecond of fame 

The Guardian has today printed a picture of the inside of the Albert Hall taken last Friday on the First Night of the Proms as part of their Eyewitness series. It is a stunning picture and one I would have loved to have taken, given the opportunity and a mastery of heights that I do not possess.

What makes it more special for me is that I can clearly see myself in the picture. I know my bald head anywhere. That I know exactly where I was sitting makes it just that little bit easier to find me. I can even make out the irritating American couple who were sitting in front of me. Honestly, he had his arm around her! Very touching but there just wasn't room.

I can also see the man who sat behind me who clapped like a performing seal inches from the back of my head. I gave him a hard stare but I don't think it did much good.

Unsurprisingly, with those two as neighbours and three empty seats beside me, I changed seats in the interval which is how I know that the picture was taken in the first half.

The second half of the concert was Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, an awe-inspiring choral piece that moves me to tears every time I hear it. Sitting that close to the orchestra and more importantly, two major choirs, just blew my socks off.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

YMCA 

I have rejoined the gym. This has been a long and involved process but following a few trips to my physiotherapist, my Alexander teacher, some acupuncture and cranial sacral therapy, not only is my knee feeling a lot better (not 100% but getting there) but I have a note which I have presented to a lovely lady at the gym who let me rejoin!

I have paid for this month and restarted the direct debits.

Hopefully this will lead to a thinner, fitter and healthier me!

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Drowsy Chaperone 

My favourite musical is closing! No, not We Will Rock You. That has been supplanted in my affections by The Drowsy Chaperone.

It closes on August 4th. David and I plan to see it again before it closes.

Have a look on their website (www.drowsychaperoneuk.com) and you'll be able to see me! There's a section of interviews on video (Show -> Videos -> Public Reaction) and two tiny slices of my post-show interview are shown.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Milestone 

I just hit a milestone. Five minutes ago I realised that I cannot read everything on my screen at work and have had to increase its resolution by a notch. I don't like having big writing for the hard of thinking but at least I can see.

I could, of course, just wear my glasses but I am not used to wearing them during the day. I wear them outside, at the theatre and the cinema but I would get supremely irritated with them and my contact lenses if I had to wear them for work. I'm not sure they would help anyway as they are intended for my nominal shortsightedness and not for reading.

When I had an eye test a few weeks ago I was told that I'm starting on the path to reading glasses. This is, I suppose, further proof of that.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

You can't make this stuff up 

I just read a story on the BBC website about a woman who was married, left her husband for a woman, entered into a civil partnership before the marriage was annulled, got caught and arrested and then went back to her husband.

The judge, Robin Onions (yes, really), told her off for selling her story to a magazine before she had been sentenced. One can't help thinking that may have been the whole point of the exercise.

It's a good thing that indecisiveness isn't a crime.

Oddly, this is life imitating art. There was a very similar story in Eastenders a few years ago (the great Martin - Sonia - Naomi triangle). There were no magazines or oddly named judges involved there.

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Keepsake 

I have written, printed and read new versions of my first three chapters. This is probably the first time I have read them together since I last printed off the whole thing and circulated it amongst my friends for comments. I usually work on a chapter-by-chapter basis which, as an approach, has the serious flaw that, as I don't always have the opportunity of writing on a daily basis, I can forget what I have put in each chapter. Reading the chapters as a complete whole is vital.

I have discovered that I am reasonably happy with them. They do still need some work but I don't think that will take too long to sort out. The things I want to change are cosmetic rather than structural

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

The bald truth 

I just watched a documentary on baldness (I Hate My Bald Head - part of the BBC Mischief series screened a few weeks ago.

Robert Murray, a 26 year-old from Manchester, had lost most of his hair due to male pattern baldness and wasn't happy with it. The documentary explored this with him and showed us how he felt about it, how other people felt about it and what he could do.

Treatments for baldness didn't work. Quelle surprise!

Wigs can look good if you spend a lot of money on them. That was a surprise. I did think he looked better with the wig than without.

Hair transplants look painful.

Anyhow, that isn't the point of this. I realised as I was watching it that I was becoming quite angry. I was angry with him and with the people he interviewed. He felt that he looked older because of the baldness. Women he interviewed felt the same. He was called Granddad at school where he started losing his hair early.

Why? Why should hair-loss equate with age? Why should that matter in any case?

I very rarely notice if a man is bald or not. In fact I am more likely to notice a man in a positive light if he is balding or completely bald than not. I have always found it a sexy look even before my own hair did its disappearing act.

I do notice when a main tries to cover it up with a poor wig or a comb-over. Mercifully, these are rarer these days.

Some time ago, and I thought I blogged this incident but I can't find it, a group of girls shouted "baldy" to me as I walked home from the bus one night. I remember feeling predominantly puzzled. What was their point? Were they trying to cause offense? They would maybe had better luck making comments on my weight or my beard or even my sexuality. But my baldness? No. It wasn't even as if I had been trying to hide it.

It's not as if it's rare. Many men these days elect to shave their heads anyway. Some shave even if they have a full head of hair, which seems odd but so what.

So, I genuinely didn't understand the shouting girls and I didn't understand the attitudes of the people in the film, particularly Robert himself. He looked good with hair (a wig) and he looked good without. He didn't look good stressing about it.

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Fancy! 

I went to a fancy dress masquerade on Saturday on the theme of a Midsummer Night's Dream. Predictably, lots of people came as fairies, someone came with ass's ears but most gave up and just threw together some exotic costume.

I stuck to Shakespeare and used Pyramus and Thisbe, the play within the play conducted by the rude mechanicals, as inspiration. So I went as the moon and David went as the wall. Have a look at our masks. I'm quite proud of them. A number of people had no idea even when we explained.


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Monday, July 02, 2007

"Time is reversing" 

I don't normally comment on Doctor Who. Other people, notably my friend Paul, do it so much better. However, although I enjoyed it, I did find some elements of the end of season finale on Saturday a little hard to swallow.

Look away now if you haven't seen the episode and you do not want to read a spoiler!

The return of the master - OK, I guessed that was going to happen before the start of season three

The toklafane were the remnants of humanity - didn't really care. Humans always do bad things to other humans. What's new?

Bringing the Doctor back by the whole world saying his name at once - excuse me? I have seen Peter Pan, thank you very much. That scene with Tinkerbell ("you do believe in fairies, don't you?") makes me cringe just as much.

Time reversing when the paradox engine is switched off - Big red reset buttons are just awful. As plot devices they just do not work. I could see that RTD would have to stuff one in though. He'd allowed too much to happen.

Captain Jack is The Face of Boe - I liked this. Nice idea.

The Titanic crashing through the side of the Tardis - not good. A) How? The Tardis has withstood loads worse in its time and besides, the outside does not map to the inside in a direct way B) It's a cliché. As soon as I saw the prow of the ship poking through the wall, I thought "Titanic". I did not need to see the rubber ring. I predict that the Doctor will have to sink the ship in order to save the world.

All of that aside, I did enjoy the episode, just not as much as I wanted to.

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