Tuesday, June 29, 2004

The one where Ryan discovers he's an idiot

Where to start? Maybe I should start with Saturday. On Saturday I bought a pair of sandals. One of the reasons that I bought them is that my current shoes — like any self-respecting man I only own one pair of shoes — hurts my left foot. My foot hurts because the arch of the shoe is well defined and the arch of my foot is not so well defined, i.e. I'm fairly flat-footed. So, obviously, when I come to buy the sandals I plump for the ones with the most well defined arches... this is reason one why I'm an idiot.

When I came to pay for my delightful sandals, after some indecision, I decided to pay using my shiny newish credit card. The poor girl behind the till had a terribly difficult time. Apparently their computer system was down, so she had to call up and get some authentication code or something. But then she didn't do anything with the code, and she ended up with two receipts At which point I thought "I bet I've been charged twice". I didn't say anything though... this is reason two why I'm an idiot.

Now, if we fast forward. I realised yesterday that I'd forgotten to pay my cable bill this month. Armed with this knowledge, I promptly forgot all about it until lunchtime today... reason three.

Homeward bound for lunch then, picking up a not unpleasant chicken caesar pita bread wrap thingummy along the way. Watch a little bit of tennis. Then just about leave before remembering to pick up my cable bill... very nearly reason four.

Back at work. Log on to my online banking. Try to pay my bill. Discover that the earliest that an electronic transfer to my cable company can be made is the 6th July. That's an entire bloody week. Why isn't it instantaneous? Bloody useless banking bastards.

Instead try to pay my bill on the cable company's website using my credit card. Where is my credit card? What the fuck have I done with it? When did I last use it? I can't believe I've lost the bloody thing! I hope nobody has been robbing me! I've never lost my card before, how did I fuck this all up... reason four.

Log on to my credit card website. Phew. Balance looks to be about right. Except what's that at the bottom? Two payments of $60 to EMS. What the bollocks is EMS? Who are these bastards that have stolen $120 from me? Hang on a minute. $60 seems a very familiar number. But I haven't bought anything recently. When was the 28th? Bollocks, it's the sandals. I must have left my card at Eastern Mountain Sports. Silly bastard... reason five.

A short walk, a flash of ID, a showing of credit card printout and a couple of signatures later, and I'm reunited with my card and one of those $60. Sixty dollars... lot of money for a pair of sandals, what was I thinking... this is reason six why I'm an idiot.

Conclusion: I'm an idiot.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Hair and Moore

I've just about recovered from last Thursday. The only lasting damage was done to my hair — but I'll come that later. France's loss and Holland's victory both helped me on the road to recovery. Particularly France's loss... where is one's French office mate when one needs to mock them?

But enough about the football. And the moronic inhabitants of Thetford, not to mention those of Jersey, Liverpool and Boston.

On Thursday I got a little drunk, as is evidenced by my posts from Thursday evening. After, I think, my tenth beer I decided I needed to get my haircut. Sadly, I didn't resolve to go down to the barber's the following day, instead I decided it would be a good idea to cut it myself. Using a pair of nail scissors. Whilst drunk. Miraculously I still have both of my ears. Unsurprisingly on Friday morning my hair looked like a drunken man with a pair of nail scissors had cut it. It was such a mess that I was too embarrassed to go to the barber and have him do his best to tidy it up. Instead I bought a pair of clippers, a bargain at only $12.95 + tax, and am now sporting an almost military style haircut. At least that's what the front looks like, I'm not to sure about the back. I tried my best to ensure there are no mullet-like aspects of the back, and now I keep on feeling it and wondering if it's longer than the hair at the front... I don't think it is... it better not be.

Today I saw Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 and I have to say it was some what disappointing. The first half of the film drones on about the links between the Bush family and the Saudis, particularly the Bin Laden family. To summarize Moore is stating that one rich oil family in Texas had links to another rich oil family in Saudi Arabia. Fancy that two incredibly rich families working in the same industry having links. Hardly ground breaking stuff. But it does get better. Lots of mocking Bush for his lack of attention to terrorism before September 11th and his reticence to attack al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, and even more mocking of his decision to go to war in Iraq. Liberally sprinkled with dead Iraqi children and dead American soldiers.

The most moving and most scary parts of the film came from Moore's favourite location, his home town of Flint, Michigan. I was truly shocked to see a couple of US Marines, at least I think they were Marines, driving around the shopping malls and run down areas, walking up to people and trying to recruit them. It's one thing to go to a career fair, or have a stall in shopping centre or other passive methods. But walking up to people and almost press ganging them is something else... and I thought the religious crazies who try to convert me when I'm out and about were bad enough. Then there were the scenes with a woman in Flint whose son had died in Iraq, and how she was blaming Bush for sending all these poor American soldiers over to die in an unnecessary war. Even a heartless bastard such as myself felt for her.

At the end of lots of people, not including myself, clapped. I suspect they were all people who were going to vote Democrat, come November, before the film. Really what Moore has tried to make is a piece of anti-Bush propaganda as opposed to a documentary. I wonder if it will work. It certainly didn't effect me enough that I would change the way I'd vote, if of course I had a vote... which I don't. But maybe it didn't effect me because I'm not the target audience, after all I'm not American.

Still it was probably worth seeing. The scenes of Bush doing or saying something unintentionally funny (ha ha, not strange) are always amusing. But, for me at least, it didn't reach the heights of Bowling for Columbine.

In other news. Two films I've seen recently that I did think were very good are City of God and The Station Agent. The first is a film about drug dealers and gangsters and murders in the slums of Rio de Janeiro; the second a film about a dwarf train spotter (that is a train spotter who happens to be not very tall, and not someone looking for very small trains) living in an old train depot in Newfoundland, New Jersey. Both are excellent, although very different. I was thoroughly amazed at how little of the Portuguese I understood in City of God, not that I speak Portuguese. But I know some Spanish and French so I'd expected to understand a few of the words. I didn't.

Friday, June 25, 2004


Can you believe that in Thetford in Suffolk [ETA: or Norfolk even, as I should now having twice walked the Thetford Chase 24 mile walk], some scum fuck cunts who pretend to be supporters of the English football team are threatening the local Portuguese nationals who are holed up in a pub. I feel embarrassed and humiliated that some people, very near to near the town that I grew up in, cause violence and trouble over the football.

Repeat after me: Scum Fuck Cunts.

Very distressing.

I mean Thetford. It's a hick town in a hick county in the middle of fucking nowhere. Why cause problems?

Thursday, June 24, 2004

No laughing this time

I sit here in my England shirt wondering where it all went wrong. (I should probably point out at this point that I'm on my 7th beer so logic and reason may well have ran fleeing from my mind). I also wonder why I care. I mean 11, okay 14 — or 23, blokes I don't know have just lost a game of football. How does this effect me? Or to rephrase why does this effect me?

Before the game I really thought that this was England's turn. It seems I was wrong. They played poorly. (You notice how it's they played poorly and yet it's normally we played well). Yet still they should have won it in the 89th minute, or more correctly they did win it and the referee raped them. What can you do though? Excuses are excuses. We didn't play well enough and we lost.





Where is Mark Bright on Radio Five Live? I think that he like me can't fucking believe how it ended. He's probably wiping the tears from his face in the BBC toilets. Although I must say I am totally in love with the girl who was standing in for him... how I miss sexy English girls and their sexy English accents.


It's time for my eighth beer. It's time for me to work out why it hurts so much. It's time for a lot of things. In fact it's overdue.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Laughed? I nearly shat myself

After Spain and Italy, now Germany crash out of Euro 2004. As my old friend Michael used to say "Laughed? I nearly shat myself.".

Um... that's it really. I have nothing further to add. 'Twas très fucking funny though. Of course now we're just going to go and lose to Portugal or Holland or the Czech Republic or someone-or-other. But I suppose you never know. Which is why at 2:45 tomorrow afternoon I'll be sat at home nervously anticipating the kickoff, with my testicles almost fully retracted inside my body.

Which reminds me I have to go and get some beer, as I'm all out of it in the fridge at the moment.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Random nonsense about football

I'm not sure that I have mentioned, recently, my love of Mediawatch on Football365. When the media back home does something stupid, normally in relation to football, they are on hand to point and laugh. Take for instance the front cover of today's Daily Mail. Where, for those to lazy to follow the link, the geniuses (or genii) thought it would be a good idea to put a picture of England's latest hero, Wayne Rooney, next to the headline "THE BABIES WHO LIVED AFTER BOTCHED ABORTIONS". But then again most of the headlines in the Daily Mail are unintentionally funny anyhow.

Now for Ryan's quick capsule review of his watching experience yesterday. I should probably start with the dream I was having on Monday morning. It was one of those huge epic dreams where lots of things happen and you're never quite sure what's going on. There was some running around an underground bunker, a good few minutes spent beating up my laptop when it wouldn't work, a pretty girlie and some swimming in icy cold water to retrieve little fluffy penguin toys. If anybody out there is of oneirocritical nature (my
Ask Oxford word of the day), then maybe they could explain to me what this dream meant. All it meant to me was that I woke up having strained my lower back.

Having sat around all morning at work listening to Five Live's Wimbledon coverage and match build up, I was somewhat excited by the time the TV coverage started 15 minutes before the match. I couldn't sit still and was pacing back and forth across my flat — although this was partially due to the fact that my back hurt while I was sat down and didn't while I was standing up. As far as the TV coverage goes, the BBC coverage was just about a thousand times better than the abortion that ITV offered up.

Then the match started. Croatia scored. And I was sad.

Eventually England equalized. I jumped up in celebration. Then I landed. And my back was in bloody agony.

Then little Rooney had a few moments of magic. The Croatian goalkeeper was described as Mary Ellen with chocolate wrists. England still couldn't defend set pieces. And we won 4-2. I was very happy. Although I still struggled to sit down, as my back still hurt.

Same again against Portugal please. Minus the excessive back pain.

And finally, my childish giggle of day. It came during the pre-match build-up from the mouth of the excellent Alan Green, describing Michael Owen's current dip in form: "... I don't think he has been pulling off defenders as well as he might have been..." followed seconds later by "... when he's got a defender up his backside he's got a big problem...". So you heard it hear first Michael, well second I suppose, make sure you pull of their defenders before they get up your backside. Sage advice I think.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Stating the bleeding obvious

I opened my browser this morning and the top story on Yahoo! was ENGLAND FANS DRINK BEER. Tomorrow I'm looking forward to ENGLAND FOOTBALLERS KICK BALL.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Dead dove love

Now it's not very often that I actually laugh out loud whilst reading , but this article made me... well chuckle at least.

I love the imagery of the Sri Lankan public security minister throwing a dead dove in to the air. I can just imagine all the dignitaries standing in a line holding their tired doves and then they throw them in to the air and one of the plummets to the ground. Dead. It sounds like something from a Monty Python sketch.

It makes you wonder why the minister didn't realise that his dove was dead. Or maybe he did realise but by then everyone was lined up and ready to go, so he just thought maybe if I throw it really hard nobody will notice.

Ryan's t-shirt's day out in Washington

I forget to mention in my last post that my t-shirt also had a fun day out in Washington on Saturday. I wore my, correctly spelled, "You're sh*t and you know you are" (you can see me wearing the misspelled t-shirt over here — by the way, why does misspelled look like it's spelled incorrectly? I even looked it up in the OED, no hyphen or nothin'), as usual, it got a fairly mixed response from the people and tourists of Washington.

There were the positive responses — "Mom, look at his t-shirt", "That's great I've got to get one of those" and "I was just reading your t-shirt, it's cool". There were the indifferent responses — from the foreigners who no speaker the good english, to the Americans who no speaker the good english, to the majority of people who don't read what's written on t-shirts and finally to those who read it and didn't care. Then there were the negative reactions — the disapproving looks of some of the pensioners at the memorials and the somewhat horrified look of some of the parents with little kiddies. Then there were the look of people as I walked past United States Holocaust Memorial Museum — I swear I could not have had more horror filled looks if I had walked past wearing a necklace of dead babies and a swastika t-shirt.

Needless to say, my t-shirt had an enormously fun day out.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Football, politics, memorials, museums and fleas

Bollocks. Bugger. Bastard.

I'm sitting here still in my England shirt wondering how the English football team managed, to coin a cliché, snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I'm also wondering what I'm going to say to my French colleague at work tomorrow... and I was so looking forward to rubbing her face in the French defeat until, right up to the 89th minute. Still things could be worse. At least we played okay in the first half, and nearly wrapped it all up with Beckham's penalty in the second half. But the French footballing clown and the French footballing genius had other ideas, it would seem.

After the football I had a little lie down and listened to Alan Green's 606 football phone-in. It was the usual mix of doom and gloom merchants saying how England were shit and are going to go straight out the tournament, and then there were the rah rah crowd who think because we managed to lose to France in stoppage time that means we are going to go on and win the whole thing. All very interesting and amusing.

Still at least we won at cricket.

Apparently, there were elections for the European parliament this week. Needless to say, I neither knew nor voted... in fact I'm not sure if I'm eligible to vote. The good news is that in Britain we had record high voter turnout. The bad news is that this record now stands at 38.9% (or at least it does on Sunday night before Northern Ireland have got round to counting their votes). Less than 39% is a record high. You can tell that the UK populous are really engaged by the European parliament.

It's somewhat distressing that over 750,000 people voted for the, largely racist, British National Party. Not really sure what to say about it except that's a lot of people who are feeling marginalized. Reading their website is part hilarious and part terrifying. Lots of claims about electoral fraud and other nonsense. And an article about this story about an underwear ad that upsets some muslims because it was put up next to a mosque. Now obviously it is ridiculous that anyone would not want to see four pretty girlies wearing nothing but G-strings. But this is not the BNP's point. Instead they are upset, that something was done because some muslims were offended. It is somewhere between surreal and ridiculous.

Yesterday I was in Washington, DC. It was a lovely sunny day and Washington looked very good in its post Reagan mourning glory. I got to see several memorials Washington, Korea, Lincoln and Jefferson to name a few. In Lincoln's big white edifice they have engraved two of his speeches. The first is his "Four score and seven years..." Gettysburg address and the second is his second inaugural address in which he waffles on endlessly about God and the civil war. It made be go grrhh. Some of what he says is very good and the rest is so dripping with religion that my spine goes all icy. I'm not a big fan of any connection between church and state.

I also got to look around a few of the Smithsonian museums. The Hirshhorn museum was largely disappointing as modern art museums go, although there were a few good exhibits... particularly one photo exhibit whose creator I don't remember. The air and space museum was also disappointing. Too much of it was rah rah isn't America great. And too much of it was dumbed down. But it had an Eric Idle song and a Bacofoil covered moon lander, so it wasn't all bad. By far the best of the three museums I looked around was the Natural History museum. Lots of interesting stuff about animals and rocks. I never knew that mammals had extra bones in the ears. Or that Monotreme was the name for an egg laying mammal, like the, hilarious, duck-billed platypus. Lots of pretty things and big skeletons and all in a gorgeous old building. I was very impressed, it felt like a museum. On the way to find a restaurant we walked past the Spy Museum, I'd really like to find out what is inside the Spy Museum. It could be very interesting or very shit.

Oh, and on Friday night I stayed at a hostel in Washington. It was a nice big old house, close to the metro, with a porch and a big back garden. And during the night I got bitten something like 70 times by, I guess, fleas. Which put something of a damper on my view of the place, Washington and hostels. By now most of the bites are fading away, but a few are still itching. Bastard little creatures.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004


I'm not really sitting here writing this entry... really what I'm doing is sitting here and reading all about sockets and Being Productive... honest guv'nor.

I'm back in lovely State College, sitting in my little cubicle hunched over my laptop, trying to work out why my right hand is hurting so much (no sniggering at the back). I'd like to blame it on the fact that I've been working so hard... but really? Nevertheless it's hurting, right in the bit between my thumb and index finger. Hopefully, it will stop hurting in a little while.

I wrote a cheque (or is it actually a check that I wrote, being as it was from my American bank) and signed a lease agreement and, hopefully, I'll be able to move into my apartment sometime at the start of July. Somewhat inevitably I ended up plumping for the place above the bar. Or more correctly, it's actually above a sewing shop which is next to a bar. The bar is a cafe-bar and is pretty good as bars go. It has some sofas, which are always very good things for a bar to have. It also has a very new age-y paint job, lots of swirling colours and that sort of thing. A couple of days before I saw the flat above the sewing shop, I went to the bar with a fairly old Israeli professor who used to go there to play chess. It's not really the kind of place one expects to find an aging physics professor.

Slowly and not entirely surely, I am revising my opinion of Columbus. Maybe it's more of a city than I was giving it credit for. I suppose after a couple of months of living there my opinion will have grown some roots and decided what it wants to be when it grows up into a belief or an assertion. But for now it's just bobbing about in a pool of uncertainty.

Quick update: my hand is still hurting. A lot.

I spent Sunday afternoon being licked by a very cute dog and being barked at by another cute dog. I also ate a veggie burger. It wasn't as bad an experience as I've been led to believe the veggie-burger-eating experience can be. But on the other hand, it wasn't as good an experience as eating a genuine — made with real meat, not mushed up bits of cow unpleasantness — burger. Still a fun time was had. I got drunk, played people the FCC song by Eric Idle, and told them how I have a propensity to write naughty words on things (in particular, how I wrote "a word which was rhymes with a kind of boat you find on the river Cam" on the empty television box that sits beside my sofa-bed... and how I did this just before my mother spent two nights sleeping on the sofa-bed). It's all part of my "get Americans to use more colourful language" program. I'm starting small, but there are now a few pockets of Americans who understand Big girl's blouse. The revolution will continue.

Oh, by the way circumlocution involving the river Cam is just me trying to avoid some of the strange words people are using to find this site. If you search using msn (boo, hiss), it is possible to find this page whilst searching for the word pretty combined with the afore-unmentioned word. In fact this site is the 12th, and first non-pornography link. Not to mention the hordes of people who arrive at my blog after searching for a misspelling (or should I say alternative spelling) of the word meaning: Unnatural connexion with a <meaning: A quadruped, as distinguished from birds, reptiles, fishes, insects, etc., as well as from man.>.

Well, I think I've avoided so well that it is now time for lunch.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Thoughts from a Columbus coffee shop

So, here I am in lovely Columbus. Well, Columbus anyhow. I'm not really sure what I think of the place. I don't think it's really a city, not in the European sense of the word anyway. But it's certainly more of a city than State College. It seems to be the kind of place where it is really rather difficult to live if you do not possess a vehicle, so maybe I'll get myself one when I move here. There are certainly some nice bits and pieces of Columbus but, to my mind at least, they don't really coalesce in to a real city. Then again, it could just be that I have particularly strange idea about what a city is.

Hopefully, by the end of today I will have started the process of renting an apartment. I've had a look at a few places already and I'm going to see another place in about an hour, conveniently located above a bar. Earlier today I had a look around some apartments in a big, old stone building, with solid walls and squeaky wood floors. It reminded me somewhat of the big old Victorian house, well okay I had a pokey flat in the basement, I lived in when I first went to University. Anyhow, one way or I another I'll pick a place and try and sort out the application this afternoon.

Last night I went to see The Day After Tomorrow, it was alright. Nothing amazing, but an okay disaster movie. With some beautiful visuals, and your typical middling plot. What it did have was as much product placement as it could squeeze in to the film. The product, as far as I could tell, was anything that Rupert Murdoch had a grubby finger connected to... it was made by 20th Century Fox, which strangely enough Mr Murdoch (or the company which owns his soul) owns. We had the Los Angeles FOX affiliate, Sky News, Sky Sports, Manchester United (although BSkyB might have flogged their 10% recently) and the Weather Channel (which I'm guessing is a part of the Murdoch empire). And those are just the ones I noticed... and I'm usual fairly unobservant. But nevertheless it was a pretty good way to spend a couple of hours. Plus, of course, it had a pretty girlie... and she was playing a smart, pretty girlie... so even better.