Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Shock as Penguin learns to use Net

What is the greatest threat facing humankind? Is it global warming? George Bush sparking off World War 3? Global overpopulation? Meteors/aliens from outer space? Bird Flu?
I think I have seen a glimpse of the future. We are so focused on our own actions or interventions from the heavens that we have neglected a possible threat in our own back yard.

Oh they may look cute and cuddly or humorous as they waddle about, but under the facade of the amusing bird, a cunning and evil mind lurks in every penguin. I was tipped off to the potential scale of the Penguin Threat(TM) when I saw this news story. Roxy the Rockhopper penguin has learnt how to use the internet.... This evil genius of a bird has overcome the lack of gripping appendages to set up her own Myspace page in order to find love. If they can learn to do that, what else can penguins learn to do?!

Hack the T'interweb?

Learn to operate firearms?

Sing in barbershop style singing groups? Noooooooooooo!

Just look at these two ill-favoured characters, what evil are they plotting, what cunning dreams lie within their diabolical brains?

The destruction of all that we hold dear in this world, thats what!

Don't say you haven't been warned. You heard about the Penguin Threat(TM) here first.

I have emailed my old mate George Bush about this, expect to see the War on Penguins springing into effect very soon

Movies & Other Stuff:
The Two Towers Extended Edition *****
Troy ***
Eddie Izzard - Glorious *****
Lots of Stargate SG1 ****
Gattaca ****

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Pic 'n' Mix

My half-term is slipping away with disconcerting swiftness and I feel I still haven't properly chilled out yet. Oh well, no rest for the wicked as they say...

This post is a bit of Pic 'n' Mix of random things that have been accumlating in the relevant parts of my brain. There are three things. (Did you know that 3 is the first odd prime number, and the second smallest prime after two? Of course you did, my dear intelligent readers, I would expect nothing less from such wonderful people)

1) Fat Roland has begun an odyssey of picture posts related to the Theatre of Noise podcast. Read the highly amusing and spectacularly random first post here.

2) Lent has sneaked up on me like a room full of ninjas playing Sleeping Pirate. One of my favourite websites Ship of Fools is offering advice on 40 things to do during Lent here. It's a great list, go and look and consider doing a few of them.

3) I introduced my American friend Nat to traditional church services by dragging her to the Ash Wednesday Sung Eucharist at Manchester Cathedral. I think she was slightly bemused by the copious amounts of incense and all the bowing, but she was very polite about the whole thing.

Hot Fuzz (again) ****
Favourite quote: "Whats the situation?" "Two men and a f*** load of cutlery!"
Night Watch *****

Currently Listening to:

Monday, February 19, 2007


This part of February appears to be passing in flurry of Penguins blog action, and this post a few days ago got me thinking about some of my earliest memories.

Valerie & patroclus expressed an interest in knowing more about why I have been chased by monkeys. As this is one of my earliest memories it got me thinking about some of the others, so...

In my early years my Dad was in the army and for reasons that (at least to me) lie buried in the mists of time, he was posted in Hong Kong for two years. I was about 3 when we arrived, blinking furiously in the sun and heat, and the majority of my most vivid early memories come from that time in Hong Kong. So for your delectation, here are the most vivid four (as 4 is my favourite number today) in reverse order:

4: At that time, the main airport in Hong Kong was not outside the city as it is now, so the block of flats where we lived was on the main flight path. Planes would often fly very low over the most densely populated areas of Kowloon City. It was very loud but very spectacular, particularly at night. I remember that we used to sit on the balcony of the flat (I vaguely remember it being near the top of the block) and watch these huge planes roar overhead. We used to play a game where we we would try and guess what airline the plane was before it came close enough to see the livery. This video will show you just how low they used to fly.

3: My favourite drink was apple juice and I vividly remember that the cartons had unfeasibly bright and colourful apples on them.* I remember sitting at the table in the flat with my Mum drinking apple juice and painting with those paint kits that have hard tablets of paint (a bit like this). While I was painting, my Mum would usually chase around the flat after my little brother as he climbed all over everything, periodically breaking things with a little mischievous grin on his face.

2: While living in Hong Kong we went on a holiday to Malaysia. My younger brother was perhaps 1 or 2 years old and at the time of the holiday was rather ill and cried a lot. One morning my Dad took me out very early to escape the caterwauling. We walked down to the beach and sat on a big rock at the end of it and watched the sun rise and the fishing boats making their way back in after a night's fishing.

1: Finally, the most vivid memory of all. In Malaysia, we had a trip to a park where a colony of wild monkeys could be fed by gullible tourists and their stupid children (me). You bought a bag of peanuts and then could fling them at unsuspecting monkeys. I remember feeling a bit nervous about these fuzzy potential killing machines. However, I spied a small cute one at the base of a tree and trundled over to feed it a peanut. What happened next is hazy as it appears to have been blocked out by the gut-wrenching terror. It would appear that the mother of said small cute monkey took exception to me and proceeded to chase me away from her young. Looking back it felt like I was being chased by a pack of slavering bloodthirsty monsters all infinitely more terrifying than King Kong. The reality is probably somewhat more mundane, but these are my memories and I will please myself thank you very much...

I saw an exhibition on Saturday at Urbis marking the 10 year anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China. Its worth checking out. But it reminded of two more things that I remember about Hong Kong.

The Star Ferries and the cable cars:

I'd be interested to hear about other people's earliest memories. Particularly if they involve conflict with animals...

edited for some shocking spelling. I am most ashamed.
* 22/02 - I am reliably informed by my Dad that the juice I was so fond of was in fact Mango juice, not apple. Well, all I can say is that pictures of mangoes and apples look similar to a 3/4 year old. So there.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


In a rather surreal moment at school, my subject mentor showed me this marvellous video of David Armand peforming a mime to Natalie Imbruglia's Torn.

He then performed it at Amnesty International's Secret Policeman's Ball with Natalie Imbruglia who was a real sport and joined in. See that here.

Quizzery Vol. 2

OK, here is the theme round from the last Eyan/Dan/Lee monthly pub quiz. You can see the rest of the quiz here and here.

This great round was Dan's and it is themed around the inconceivably popular board game Scrabble.

1. What percentage of British Households owns a Scrabble set?

2. The Opening Move. The words that will score you the most points in an opening move are SQUEEZY or QUARTZY. What score would you get, bearing in mind the 50-points for using all 7 tiles and the score of the tiles is doubled? a) 124 b) 126 c) 128

3. There are a number of different sources of words. Standards dictionaries will usually suffice but competition players use official word lists. What are the restrictions in place governing the legality of a word in Scrabble. What elements make a word illegal in Scrabble?

4. According to the Association of British Scrabble Players Website a number of documentary films have been made about the game. Which of these is NOT the title a documentary?
a) Scrabylon b) Word Wars c) All Letters Are Not Created Equal

5. In 1986 the standard format of competition Scrabble tiles was changed from traditional wood to plastic. What was the reason for this?

6. High Scoring Words. The basic score for each of these words is 28, but what do they mean?

7. Questions about Scrabble Tournaments. If you had been competing in last weekend’s Scrabble Tournament in Perth and you had taken you own timing device what would you have received in return?
a) Free Biscuits and Coffee
b) £1 off the entrance fee
c) A Comfy Chair

8. If you take part in the Inaugural Wirral Open Scrabble Tournament at Leasowe Castle Hotel and you are found to be sharing a room without paying for it what will happen?
Will you be:
a) beaten with full bags of competition tiles
b) have 50 points deducted from your final score
c) disqualified from the Inaugural Wirral Open Scrabble Tournament… the shame

9. Some of the highest scoring words are those with two Z’s. Not counting enhanced squares, what is the basic score for placing two Z’s on the board?

10. There are a number of different versions of Scrabble for sale in the UK, from Argos and Toys R Us, name as many of them as you can.

Enjoy! I will post the answers sometime next week.
If you use the interweb to get the answers I will know and come round to your house and beat you with a full bag of competition tiles. You have been warned...

* The answers are now in the comments. Enjoy the scrabble related trivia....

Currently Listening to:
Dead Poetic - Vices


I stole this from patroclus who has a cracking blog - do go and read it.

Seven Things I Have Wanted To Be
1. A professional radio DJ
2. More intelligent
3. Able to play the guitar
4. Better at cricket
5. Not afraid of wasps
6. A traveller
7. Thinner

Seven Things I Have Been
1. A youth worker
2. Married
3. Separated
4. Unhappy
5. Content
6. Happy
7. Chased by monkeys

Hot Fuzz ****
I saw Hot Fuzz tonight. I liked it very much. If only for the sight near the end of Tim from Spaced and an ex James Bond fighting amongst the buildings of a model village! It was like a homage to those marvellous Godzilla vs Mothra style B Movies. Go and see it, its really very funny...

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Верхняя Шестерня

(Top Gear in Russian....)
Just watched tonight's Top Gear on BBC2. Absolute genius...
I laughed so much all the way through it. Highlights included:
  • Jeremy Clarkson driving a Camaro with a huge dead cow strapped to the top of the car.
  • Richard Hammond driving through red-neck central in Alabama in a white pickup with 'Man Love Rules OK' in pink writing down the side.
  • Fat Stig.
  • Jeremy's in car shower cooling system & Hammonds truck mounted BBQ
  • James May calling the other two 'insufferable oafs'. (Great insult...must use it soon)

However, possibly the most disturbing thing was the way the cast and crew were literally run out of the Alabama town of Bagdad by a stone hurling. red-neck mob. (Admittedly, their cars were daubed with vaguely inflammatory slogans like the one recorded above and 'Hillary for President' and 'Country & Western is Rubbish'). But it was still a extreme over-reaction. Surely these people can't be so insecure in their beliefs that the sight of 3 middle aged men in cars with silly slogans on them incites them to such a violent reaction?

But the most memorable footage was the shots of New Orleans one year after Hurricane Katrina. It was rather sobering to see how devastated much of the city still is.

V for Vendetta ****
Kind Hearts & Coronets *****
Music & Lyrics ***

(As I have mentioned elsewhere, this is not normally the type of movie I would see, but I quite enjoyed it. I find it difficult to really dislike Hugh Grant, it would be like kicking a puppy)

Currently listening to:
Starflyer 59 - My Island
Showbread - Age of Reptiles

Friday, February 09, 2007

Quizzery Vol 1

The quiz that Eyan, Dan and I run on a monthly basis rumbled through East Didsbury once again like a cement mixer full of FACT and KNOWLEDGE.

Eyan may post his general knowledge and picture rounds on his blog at some point. I did a sports round this time, and here it is:

1) A Man Utd goalkeeper has not played for England for 22 years. What is the name of the Utd keeper who will change that against Spain on the 7th Feb?

2) What was the scoreline of the England v Scotland rugby union game played on Saturday 3rd Feb?
3) Which former Test Cricket umpire is suing the the ICC & the PCB for racial discrimination following last summer’s ball tampering controversy?

4) What is unusual about Ralphie the buffalo, the live mascot for the Colorado Buffalos? (American football team).

5) When Lennox Lewis retired, he was the first reigning heavyweight champion boxer to retire since Rocky Marciano. When did Lewis retire? June 2003, Feb 2004, July 2005

6) Ronnie O’Sullivan won the Snooker Masters at Wembley Arena in January. Who was his opponent in the final?

7) How many career wins does 2006 F1 champion Fernando Alonso have? 15, 25 or 30

8) "When you are in the rough the most important thing to remember is to make sure you get out. Don't be greedy and attempt to hit the ball too far from heavy rough. You may only manage to shift it a few yards and end up in even worse trouble". What number iron would you use to get out of the rough?

9) In tennis, who won January’s Australian open?

10) Name five Premiership, Football League or Conference teams that begin and end with the same letter.

I will post Dan's Scrabble theme round tomorrow...

*Edit 17th Feb - The answers are now lurking in the comments...

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Two things that make me happy.

Two things have happened that have contributed to me feeling rather cheerful this week.

Firstly, I have started my second PGCE school placement which has been great. It is a very different school to my previous placement, and I have some classes that I'm sure will turn out to be 'interesting'. However, I am just glad to be back in school after a month in university. Teaching makes me happy...


It snowed on my way to school this morning! I love snow. This was taken this morning, unfortunately due to the rubbishness of my camera phone, you can't see how much snow was coming down, but trust me it was lots! I actually got off my bus 2 stops early so I would have further to walk in the snow. I've always liked walking while snow is falling, it makes me feel very very alive.

It was wonderful, all the other people who walked past me must have thought I was mad as they were all hunched up against the snow and wind and I was walking through it with a big silly grin on my face. Snow makes me happy...

Kingdom of Heaven: Director's Cut ****
Come & See *****
The Machinist ****