Thursday, March 29, 2007

Why I downloaded the Doors' 'L.A. Woman' this afternoon

(Eric Johnson, your challenge is to explain this blog entry's title)

My favourite lesser-known Greek philosopher is Zeno, who believed that nothing ever moved. I remember this much about him because in my teenage years I was prescribed an antidepressant called "zenophylline," the main side-effect being that I had little desire to do anything more than stare at the wall. I suspect that the link to his name was inadvertent, but you never know. One of my best friends is doing a bio-chemical-related PhD and he has the sort of dry sense of humour that I'm sure could result in his naming things after obscure philosophers. In a perfect world, Paul will one day invent something really amazing and ridiculously necessary and he'll work into its name an in-joke between himself and Eric and me.

I can't now remember how Zeno explained our perception of movement, but I think it was similar to the Hindu concept of Shiva. Shiva is a god who creates and destroys our world at such a rapid rate that it appears things are moving. Life, then is basically a filmstrip -- a rapid series of static frames. Our soul/memory/consciousness is the intangible story that runs through each frame.

If Zeno and the Hindus are right, it means one never really ages. We are simply one age and then another age, like different versions of software. So, it being nine days after my birthday, I am presently version 31.009 in age. As Shiva creates and destroys the world in what my soul knows as "today" I remain version 31.009. Tomorrow, I will be version 31.010; Saturday I will be version 31.011; and on and on.

One assumes that all outdated versions are discarded, but imagine if some sort of universe software glitch caused previous versions of you to accidentally pop up in other time and space. If this were to happen, it would explain why I saw Danielle Hallmark circa 1991 walking across campus today.

There she was, my first proper girlfriend*, striding in front of me down Park Lane, looking exactly as she had 16 years ago -- complete with blue-jean dungarees (FTYPAAH: "overalls"). Indeed, it was her clothing that first drew my attention.

"How quintessentially 'Dexys Midnight Runners,'" I thought. "Who wears those anymore? Outside of Fargo, the last time I saw someone sporting dungarees was... Oh, Sweet Baby Jesus, it's her."

I followed her for a good quarter mile, trying to kick my notoriously worthless memory into producing a usable image of her to compare with the girl in front of me, but 16 years is 15.360 versions more than I am realistically capable of recovering. Unable to work up the courage (or "adequately loose grasp on reality," take your pick) to shout, "Hey, Dani," at her, I decided to head off and have a cup of tea -- probably never to see 1991 Danielle Hallmark again.

I wonder if there are any versions of me out there right now. And if so, what are they doing? Probably getting arrested for stalking people who have a passing resemblance to people I once knew.

*Hmm, I think Tami Hill would take issue with that statement.

Monday, March 26, 2007

It's called 'Yakety Sax,' bitches

Every once in a while I get a huge page view hit from people seaching the phrase "Benny Hill Show polka." I'm assuming these people are searching for the chase-sequence theme tune to Benny Hill; why my blog shows up near the top of such a search, I have no idea.

If people really are searching for the Benny Hill theme tune:
1) It's called "Yakety Sax," by Boots Randolph.
2) It's not a polka.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Fluffy Clouds Will Save The Western World

My latest column is out. It's a bit fruity, to be honest, but contains a line that made me giggle for five minutes when I thought of it. See if you can guess which one it is.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Still not president of Cuba

When Fidel Castro celebrated his 31st birthday he was living in the mountains and fighting against Batista (the Cuban dictator, not the wrestler).

On my 31st birthday, I am living in a comfortable two-bedroom home in the Cardiff suburbs, fighting my urge to eat too many cherry bakewells.

I always feel a sense of melancholy on my birthday -- a feeling that I'm not quite living up to my potential. But then, I've killed far fewer people than Castro. I suppose that counts for something. Happy birthday to me.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Continuing the Chris-is-too-lazy-to-post-anything-other-than-YouTube-videos theme, but with the twist of it being a video that I actually produced, I give you this. It's a video I made for my Spanish conversation course on how I use the Internet. If you don't speak Spanish, don't worry -- neither do I. It's potentially worth watching, though, just for the part when I shout "¡guapisimo!"

My apologies for the sound quality. Some day I will buy a cool microphone and all my videos will have really slick voiceovers.

For people like Beth, who can actually speak Spanish, I would be interested to know how close I've come to being understandable here.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Already known as the cultural capital of the Midwest

University work is kicking me in the face and then making fun of me at the moment, so I continue to involuntarily abstain from blogging. All I am capable of is posting links to videos that you can and probably already have found for yourself.

I know that the bread and butter of* blogging is simply linking to other things, or, ideally, linking to someone else's linking of other things, but it seems a bit 2004, doesn't it? I feel this need to produce original content.

Despite that, the whole point of this post is to link to this video. I don't know why, but I really think that Jenny and Chris will enjoy this video the most.

My dad sent me the link**. It's 4:30 of joy over the wonderful land that is the Twin Cities Metro Area. What I love about it are the random conditional facts, like, "Valley Fair is the largest amusement park in the Upper Midwest." That style of making something sound impressive by reducing its perimeters is a popular tactic in tourism -- "Pen y Fan is the highest peak in south Wales." "Arriva Trains service is the most reliable amongst train services that begin and end in Cardiff." "I am the strongest man in my house."

My favourite conditional fact comes at 3:30.

*FTYPAAH: The British love to describe things as "the bread and butter of" something. For example, failing to live up to expectations is the bread and butter of the England football (FTYPAAH: soccer) team.

**He described it as the "cheesiest voice-over since the death of filmstrips."

Friday, March 16, 2007

Thank you United States, thank you America, thank you dinosaurs

I haven't seen this video until just now. It reminds me of the first time that I heard that one Toby Keith song. Then I found out that Toby Keith wasn't being satirical and I decided it was time to leave the country.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

One time at band camp...

If you are at work, you'll probably be best served by not clicking any of the links provided below. Well, at work in the United States, at least. One of the great things about life in the UK is that the boundary of what is acceptable viewing is a fair distance from that found in the God Blessed United States of America.

When I've got nothing to do on campus, I usually wander over to the graduate centre (the graduate centre because I am old and busted and because they have a cafe area where you can sit and do nothing for several hours) where they have a 9-foot-high projection-screen television that airs music videos most of the time.

It seems that at least once a day I see this video of Alex Gaudino's "Destination Calabria." The really amazing thing about this video is that its makers have somehow taken every thought I had in high school, condensed them to 3 minutes 12 seconds, and put the whole thing to music.

Also on rotation is the much-better-sounding but slightly less catering-to-Chris'-sick-sick-mind video for Fedde Le Grande's "The Creeps" (The girl who bites her finger at 1:10. What's that about? Does it matter?).

De Souza's "Guilty" is also shown seemingly twice an hour, but it just doesn't have the same transfixing quality. You have to give it points, though, for the scenes featuring a bloke off the Village People hitting a prisoner with a phallic pink "nightstick." Nothing says "Sexay!" like police brutality.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Conversation with myself during lunch

Dude. A lima bean. That's rare. Who serves lima beans anymore?

The British I guess. Although, they probably pronounce it lee-ma, like Lima, Peru.
Do lima (lie-ma) beans come from Lima?

I suppose that would make sense. It's unlikely that they are named after some bloke named Lima.

Indeed, walnuts don't get their name from Wall Drug.

I don't think Wall Drug gets its name from anyone named Wall. Its founder was Ted Hustead.

Why do I know that?

It's common knowledge, isn't it?

Almost certainly not. I'll bet I could walk all the way across campus, stopping every person I saw, and only meet a handful of people who know what Wall Drug is.

Nah. Remember, there's that one picture in Wall Drug of a billboard for Wall Drug that's in London somewhere.

One billboard in the whole of London and that makes Wall Drug famous? I'll bet most people don't even know what Mount Rushmore is.

Probably not. Its name makes it sound like it would be a ski resort in Vermont, and not a cheesy tourist attraction that's been legitimized by unquestioning patriotism.

If you want lima beans in Lima, do you simply ask for beans? The way an English muffin is just a muffin here. Here Britain. Which should make it a British muffin, I guess. Welsh muffin sounds strangely sexual.

The muffin thing causes all sort of confusion for me.

Well, muffins as I know them are relatively new things here, I think. Probably brought over by Starbucks. Like snakes brought to Hawaii on cargo ships. Or milfoil. It's perfectly alright to use a different word for a thing as long as the other thing doesn't exist. You could call a couch a "strawberry" as long as there were no strawberries.

Yeah, but what would you do with the word "couch?"

Use it for muffins.

I don't understand the whole Scottish pancakes thing. Do the Scottish simply know them as pancakes? I simply know them as pancakes.

Perhaps that makes me Scottish.

Rock that it would.

It doesn't make sense, though, that people here would call a pancake a Scottish pancake, because they don't just have pancakes.

They do. Crepes.

Yeah, but "crepe" is the name for those kind of pancakes. People use the word "crepe" here, so why foul everything up by additionally allocating "pancake" to the same foodstuff.

Indeed, they could be using that extra word to sort out the muffin confusion.
And biscuits. What's wrong with "cookie?" Why are they so averse to "cookie?"
It sounds like a British word, doesn't it? They have "brecy" and "pressies" and "sweeties," why not "cookie?"

This is a vaguely Beckettsian conversation, isn't it?

Maybe it's not, and I just want it to be.

Or would it be Beckettian?

Or Beckettish. Like "coquettish," but different.

People don't use "coquettish" enough in daily conversation.

They don't. The word "coquettish" always makes me think of when Craig Kilborn used to host "The Daily Show." I think I'll blog about that and award points to anyone who can tell me what the connection is.

Cripes. Does anyone but you remember that Jon Stewart wasn't the original host of "The Daily Show?"

Probably not. There was a long stretch there when I was Comedy Central's only viewer.

Perhaps it's a Beckettesque conversation.

Monday, March 12, 2007

They go good together

I once saw a man on one of those "wacky/amazing people" shows who had written the preamble of the United States Constitution on the back of a postage stamp. He did this, he said, because he suffered from insomnia and could think of nothing else to occupy his time. That kind of productive insanity I admire. My brain is dysfunctional, too, but all it does is fill me with the desire to do nothing but drink Guinness and eat Jaffa Cakes.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Can life get better? I submit that it cannot

I've had a few people ask me about the fact that the blog has gone dead. Have no fear, all is well, I am just overwhelmed with schoolwork. I'll be back as soon as I can.

(The headline is a quote from comic Brian Regan)