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Oct. 12th, 2007

I'm not here


I'm over here now. This one will still be here (for archival reasons, such as the fact that I can transfer the entries from LiveJournal to WordPress but the comments don't go with them), but from now on I'll only be updating the new one.

Reset your links and bookmarks…NOW!


Oct. 9th, 2007

Four naked men in a room

The room is small and dimly lit. The men sit in plastic chairs. A young woman, who is not naked, enters and explains to them how to smear the four different coloured muds on various parts of their (own) bodies. She leaves the room. The lights dim, leaving the room illuminated only by myriad tiny points of light in the domed ceiling, simulating a night sky. The room slowly fills with steam, until the men, sat facing each other across a distance of a couple of meters, can no longer see each other's faces. They absorb the cream and steam for twenty minutes. The steam evaporates. Then it starts to rain. Sprinklers hidden in the ceiling discharge warm water which the men use to wash off the cream. Then they rub oil into their (own) bodies. They leave the room, feeling soft, smooth, hydrated, and more than a little amused.


One of the four treatments I received during a weekend at Mondorf. For the record I hate saunas (you sit in a room and sweat – why?), and massages do nothing for me. But this little package was wacky fun.



Oct. 5th, 2007

A is for Apple

Me, on the phone to a customer service agent, reading out a product code on a faulty item I'd bought: 

"B as in Belgium, D as in…Denmark, K as in…uh…Kazakhstan?"


I need to learn the NATO phonetic alphabet.


Oct. 1st, 2007

Mud balls

I have nothing to say about this other than "ohmygodthat'ssocool!". 

Sep. 27th, 2007

Slow news day

One of the advantages of living in Brussels is that the cable TV suppliers provide you with a range of channels from all across Europe (and beyond). This can be especially revealing when it comes to news and current affairs, as you can see the same major stories covered (or not) in different ways by different national broadcasters.


One channel in particular sticks out in my mind, however, and that is Italy's RAI Uno. Now I'm sure that there are other Italian channels which provide a decent, intelligent news service (I've heard good things about RAI Tre and La 7), but over here we only see RAI Uno, and it's not good. What annoys me more than anything is not so much their coverage of  the real news, as the way they include so many non-stories into the programme. Is it "news" that an ageing singer-songwriter has a new album out? Is it "news" that RAI Uno has just signed a big star to present their new variety show which, incidentally is showing right after this programme, so don't touch that dial?


And then there are the public service announcement "news" items. For example, every summer the news feels the need to tell Italians that, hey! It's summer! And you know what happens in summer? It gets hot! So, you know, maybe you should put on some suntan lotion, stay in the shade and drink lots of water. Then every autumn, the news has to notify us that, ooh! It's getting a bit chilly, isn't it? Maybe you should wrap up warm. And if you get a cold, you should probably go to your local pharmacist and maybe think about getting a 'flu jab.

Thanks, RAI! Whatever would we do without you?


Plus, at Easter and Christmas they feel the need to tell us that it's Easter/Christmas again, and broadcast interminable vox pops wherein the Italian in the street admits that, yes, they spend too much on food and gifts, and yes, they've bought a chocolate egg for their child. Just like they did last year. And the year before that.


Add to this the fact that the actual news items are an unvarying mix of crimes of passion and political wranglings of byzantine complexity, and you could safely say that if you've seen one Italian news broadcast, you've seen them all.

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Sep. 26th, 2007

Reading time

I remember reading an interview with Jeremy Irons a while ago discussing his role in the film Kafka (claim to fame – I know (and worked with) the camera assistant who worked on the shoot in Prague). When asked whether or not he'd read much of Kafka's oeuvre, he said no, and that he didn't read much at all because whenever he was reading he felt like he should be doing something else instead.(Ironic, then, that he's since recorded several audio books).


This struck me because I feel almost exactly the opposite: I'm always trying to find time to read, and plan to use the odd moments here and there during the day to catch up on books and magazines. One of the things I miss about taking the metro to work, as opposed to driving, is the twenty minutes each way where I could sit down and read a chapter/article or two. On the two lunchtimes a week when I don't have a language class, life drawing group or badminton, I read while I eat. I read in the gents. I try to read while eating breakfast, although that's not very practical as I usually have to supervise one or more of our daughters as they eat theirs.

And yet it's still not enough. The magazines and books pile up.


Short of quitting my job in order to have the day free for reading, I don't have many options other than resigning myself to that fact that I can't read everything I want to, and trying to make sure that I don't waste precious reading time on rubbish.


Sep. 25th, 2007


Tomorrow, as I'm sure you all know, is European Day of Languages. In order to raise awareness, the management of our office building has put up these posters in the elevators (you might want to click through to the bigger version on flickr in order to be able to read it).

A few thoughts:

  • Estonia, Malta and Holland - get your own damn word!
  • Latvia and Lithuania – nice try, but you're fooling no-one.
  • Sweden – is that the noise your lift doors make when they open?
  • Finland - if a Finn sufers a panic attack in a lift, is it a "hissi fit"?

Sep. 24th, 2007

It's never too early to start thinking about Christmas

Fine art photography at bargain prices. 

Sep. 20th, 2007

And another thing...

 A small selection of blogs about the little things in life which rub us (well, me anyway) up the wrong way:

Passive Aggressive Notes

Unnecessary Quotation Marks

Apostrophe Abuse


Sep. 18th, 2007

Home Movies

What's it like to see your hometown on the cinema screen? It would be weird for me, as Exeter has never, as far as I know, been seen in any major modern film or TV series. It's historic quay area was used for some sequences in the TV series The Onedin Line, but I've never really seen a place with which I'm intimately familiar on the big screen. This applies to pretty much everywhere I've lived - Exeter, Norwich, London, Dublin, Genova and Brussels. Even though some of those are capital cities, London is the only one you ever see with any regularity (and even then it's just a token shot of the Houses of Parliament or the London Eye before they cut to a studio interior). It has to be said that this is partly because the local authorities make it so much more difficult for film crews over here than they do on the other side of the Atlantic

But for some people this must be normal. How does it feel if you live in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington D. C.? Does it make the movie feel closer to you, like it's part of your world, or does it make you feel like your world is part of a movie set, filled with recognisable views, streets, buildings?

Michael Winterbottom is currently shooting a film called "Genova", and, as far as I know, this is the first time such a high profile (it stars Colin Firth! Swoon!) international production has been made (and set) there. It'll be interesting to see it when it comes out next year, but I worry that it'll take me out of the story a little. When I watch a film and they go somewhere I know, it breaks the spell, like they've stepped out of "movieland" and into the "real world", à la Last Action Hero.

There are advantages to your town never being in a famous film. New Zealanders must by now be sick of hordes of Tolkein fans trampling over their landscape saying "Look! The Fields of Pelennor!"


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