Sunday, December 21, 2003
Odd occurrence number one was a complete Hollywood moment: I was going up the escalator at Kings Cross when I suddenly realised that coming down the opposite escalator was Vicky from college, who I haven’t seen for two years. We even both said “Oh my God!” simultaneously, which may have freaked out the person stood behind me. We exchanged phone numbers, so I may have found someone to go and do all the London things I didn’t get round to doing while I was a student.
Odd occurrence number two is far less salubrious, and proves that I am indeed living in The Big City. On my way to work the other morning I was approached by a prostitute looking for early-morning work. At least, I think that’s what happened (my PSE lessons at school failed to include the module “Bartering With Whores”). She was lurking by the bus stop next to Finsbury Park, and said “You want business?” in an Eastern European accent as I passed. I probably should have corrected her (“No, no, if you’re doing the soliciting then surely you’re the one who wants business”), but, needless to say, I didn’t. Instead I smiled my Slightly Embarrassed Smile and said something like “Er…no thanks”, before heading off to the station.
For those who like to keep track of my Unknown Armies lifestyle (approx. 2% of my readership) I offer these snippets:
1) Who would leave bundles of the South African Times outside Manor House tube every so often, and what do they hope to gain by it?
2) That café-bar on Green Lanes. The one that always seems closed apart from big parties on some nights. Its address? 333 Green Lanes. Draw your own conclusions.
As this is probably going to be my last entry this year, I’d like to wish you all a Happy Christmas and a Most Interesting New Year…
Wednesday, December 10, 2003
I’m also now able to think about siting down and planning my PhD proposal. Something about Mycenaean maritime strength and what it all meant. I could even call it “Stephen O’Brien’s Classic ‘The Decline Of Mycenaean Sea Power’ ”. But I probably won’t.
Thursday, December 04, 2003
On another Blog, I was described as someone’s “Blogging Cohort”. I can’t help but feel that it sounds like an insult. Imagine the scene: the interior of a dodgy East-End pub. All of a sudden someone shouts “Oi, you blogging cohort, those videos you sold me don’t work!”
Tuesday, November 25, 2003
I am, as the title subtly suggests, now a Master of Archaeology, although I don’t have the official mark yet. Cyprian says that I got a high 2:1, which should be enough to do a PhD, but not necessarily at the Institute of Archaeology. I must confess to being a little disappointed, as I was right on the very edge of a Distinction, but I shouldn’t grumble too much. Now, of course, I have to think of a convincing topic to do a PhD on, and apply for funding.
Jobs are throwing themselves at me thick and fast, too. I seem, against all the odds, to have successfully passed the tests at an employment agency, and may be getting five months Data Entry to do as a result. No one was more surprised by this than me, as at one point I considered hari-kiri as a preferable alternative to being told that the score on my Excel test indicated that I was some manner of spoon-faced moron.
In addition to this, the Control Risks Group say that I passed their tests, but the work won’t start until the end of January. I need money before then. From a letter I received this morning, it would appear that my efforts to join the sinister military-industrial complex are going well. The MOD want to interview me.
So, while the future may not be so bright that I have to wear shades, at least it’s stopped being all German Expressionist.
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Saturday, October 25, 2003
Tuesday, October 21, 2003
On Saturday me, Caitlin and Martin went to see David Blane lurking in his perspex box next to Tower Bridge. Very surreal atmosphere down there. When we arrived, he was slumped forwards and not moving. After a bit he sat up and started waving, much to the delight of the hoards of screaming teenage girls that he attracts. If I’d realised when I was 14 that the best way to pull was to take the evolutionarily-risky strategy of locking myself in a box and not eating, I could have saved myself a whole lot of trouble. Mr. Blane is, of course, now out. I’m not convinced that it was all as important as he seems to think.
I am now engaged in the process of signing-on for my Jobseekers Allowance. Thursday will be my third visit to the Jobcentre, and perhaps the last one. I think three meetings to get this done is a bit inefficient, but what do I know? I hopefully won’t be relying on the Allowance for too much longer, as I’m applying for three jobs at the moment, two of which I have a reasonable shot at getting an interview for. I’d tell you what they are, but if I did, and you went and got one of them instead of me, then I’d have to track you down and beat you with a pillow. This way is better for us all.
Jen now has a blog all of her own, "We Eat A Nut and an Insect", which you can get to via the links section to the right. I hope to hear more of Timo’s drug-fuelled rampages in the future.
Thursday, October 16, 2003
By way of a pick-me-up, I went to the first proper Gamesoc meeting of the year. A good time was had by all, and afterwards we retired to the nearest pub. It was at this point that the evening began to become “hilarious”. I should point out that, having drunk two pints only, alcohol played no part in the following events.
Having turned down a final drink (Here my troubles did begin. The lesson is, never stop drinking), I headed back to my sister’s flat, having earlier given her back the keys because I knew I’d be out late. I got back at midnight and rang the bell. Failing to get any response, I rang the bell on and off for about ten minutes. Eventually, the intercom came to life. Unfortunately, it was the bloke from the downstairs flat, complaining about the noise and demanding that I stop it and clear off (To this man I direct the following statement: “Fuck you, you motherfucking goat-fister. If the noise of a doorbell ringing in someone else’s flat is enough to annoy you, then you deserve to be annoyed. By as many people as possible”). I stopped ringing the bell. Being unable to raise my sister on the phone, I considered my options.
a) Spend eight hours in the front yard on what was rather a cold night.
b) Think of something else.
All the trains and busses had stopped, so my (b) was to get a Taxi to Harringay in the hope that Alan would let me sleep on his floor. Veritable Saint that he is, he provided me with a spare bed at 1:30 this morning. And he had to be up at some ungodly hour.
I made it into this flat again at about midday today, in sore need of a cup of coffee and a shower. With any luck, I should be in my own flat come Sunday or Monday, hopefully reducing the chances for a repeat of such hilarity.
Monday, October 06, 2003
On Friday I helped out with the Gamesoc stand at ULU Fresher's Fayre. The three main reactions were mockery, genuine interest, or completely ignoring us. Most amusing was the Eastern European girl who seemed to believe that we were the Rock & Metal Society for some reason.
As I've said before, I'll try and visit Nottingham when I'm straightened out here. However, I may have to visit Brighton too, so don't count on it! I should be able to attend the usual New Year's mayhem, though.
That's it for now...
Sunday, September 28, 2003
I won’t have Internet access in the new flat, so expect my posts here and e-mails to get a lot less frequent. Phone calls and letters from people who know me will be gratefully received.
The job search goes on. I’ve registered with several employment agencies, and will look at some of the part-time jobs available from the Uni careers service. There was also a job in the paper that might be worth going for.
See you in the future.
Friday, September 19, 2003
On a brighter note, yesterday I bought my celebratory things. The Memento DVD (so I can watch it forwards and clear up any confusion from the first time I saw it), and the British Sea Power album, 'cos I need a band to get into now that Pulp are gone. I can't resist a band that calls its first album "The Decline of British Sea Power". Maybe I'll go and see them at ULU next month.
Wednesday, September 17, 2003
Afterwards I walked around UCL. The international undergraduates had arrived. It was weird for one of last year’s ghosts to see campus come back to life just as he was leaving.
In the bar I talked with people whose names I should have known, but had somehow forgotten. Ned spoke with someone I couldn’t see, and then vanished. I was informed that while the fat at the front of my torso is too firm to be enjoyable, the fat at the sides of my torso is of the finest quality.
Only one question remains: “What now?”
Sunday, September 14, 2003
Last night we had a barbecue for Jen’s birthday. I enjoyed myself, at one point being so drunk that I mistook the illuminated window of one of the neighbouring houses for the moon. We managed to leave some beer in the freezer so long that it, er, froze. I look forward to finding out how reconstituted beer tastes.
If anyone wants to know what an interesting Blog entry looks like, check out the most recent entry at “Mind On The Run”. Piracy, minor celebrities, and spoon-faced morons. One day my Blog will be that good.
Monday, September 08, 2003
In the paper yesterday there was an ad for a job at a “Cartoon Gallery” in SW1. Could this be my way to get a more humorous job than Tom The Elizabethan Sailor?
Today’s fiddly job was going through the bibliography and making sure that everything was referenced according to the UCL standards, and in alphabetical order. This time next week, my work on the dissertation will be no more. This is a good thing.
Apparently my sister ran 10k in 65 minutes, which sounds pretty good.
Sunday, September 07, 2003
Last night I got drunk and had a kebab with Ned while watching the football. Good God but the Macedonia Vs England game was dull. I mean, I know it’s the result that counts and everything, but really, this was bad. Contrast it with the Wales game, which, despite going badly wrong for the Welsh, was at least exciting.
My sister ran the 10k race in Richmond, today. I wait to find out how it went.
Wednesday, September 03, 2003
Friday, August 29, 2003
Wednesday, August 27, 2003
“Dark Water” takes us clearly into the same territory as such seminal works as “The Shining” and “Don’t Look Now”. It therefore presents a particular challenge to the reviewer: how to discuss the film while not giving away so much that seeing the film itself becomes pointless. For this reason, there won’t be much discussion of plot or events here, more an attempt to convey how effective a film it is.
What plot I’m willing to discuss is this: Yoshimi Matsubara (Hitomi Kuroki) is in the process of divorcing her husband, and moves into a new apartment building with her five-year-old daughter Ikuko (Rio Kanno). It isn’t long before strange things begin to plague their lives in the building, the culmination of which is both surprising and depressing.
Nakata effectively shows how horror works in the modern world. It no longer exists in the gothic mansion or the stormy night. Now it survives in the building where only you seem to live, where all the floors look the same, and where video surveillance can show you exactly what’s wrong, but can’t do anything to stop it. The washed-out city of “Dark Water” creates an atmosphere of looming dread as a perfect backdrop to a slow-burning horror which leaves shadows in the mind.
For a long time while watching “Dark Water”, I though that this review was going to be a negative one. The shocks are limited in scope for much of the running time, and certain plot points seem obviously telegraphed in advance. This is the skill of the director, using the fact that I have seen horror films before, and my resultant preconceptions, to deceive me with sleight of hand. The real shocks and twists are thus all the more forceful when they arrive.
A few years ago I believed that a new era of horror film-making had dawned, with the “Scream” trilogy finishing off the slasher genre forever, and the likes of “The Blair Witch Project” ushering in a new age of psychological horror. The fact that Hollywood continues to produce slasher films has shown me to be wrong, but films like “Dark Water” give me continued hope. This is a horror film that lacks both monsters and evil, and is all the more horrifying for it.
Saturday, August 23, 2003
Seriously, “Pirates of the Caribbean” isn’t a great film in most ways. For a swashbuckling film, not nearly enough buckle gets swashed, although what there is is good. Plot: pretty much non-existent. Script: Good enough, but generally only where Captain Jack Sparrow is involved.
It also has to be said that “Pirates of the Caribbean” starts, for an action-adventure-swashbuckler, in an exceptionally dull manner. The first three scenes made me wonder whether seeing this had been a mistake, pirates or not.
Then Captain Jack Sparrow entered.
Some background is in order. Captain Jack Sparrow is played by Johnny Depp, who, in real life, is a good friend of Keith Richards. Captain Jack Sparrow, is, in a stroke of genius, Johnny Depp doing his Keith Richards impersonation. This is bloody hilarious, and succeeds in making piracy look really, really cool. From this point on the film became worth watching, but only when Captain Jack Sparrow was involved.
That’s really all there is to say. See this film for Captain Jack Sparrow. Hell, I’ll see any sequels as long as Depp plays him. There are some other highlights to this film. These include: Aztecs, an undead Mackenzie Crook, Jack Davenport once again turning up as a posh English bloke, a big hat, rum, Royal Marines shouting “huzzah!”, and a monkey.
But Captain Jack Sparrow is better.
Thursday, August 21, 2003
I should finally get to see “Pirates of the Caribbean” at some point this week, so expect a review. Arrrrr!
Thursday, August 14, 2003
Tuesday, August 12, 2003
Starchildren: Rock 'n' Roll anarchy, in which even things that should have been simple (like arriving for a gig) were marred by unforeseen events (like a sociopathic roadie starting a fight with a scrapyard owner and his two dogs). The Exiles managed to play a gig, evade a police raid, kill the legendary frontman of a 2060s band, and cause urban legends about the existence of a “League Of One-Armed Men”.
Over The Feng: Tom ran his Feng Shui scenario “The Lost City of An-Makalur”, using the “Over The Edge” rules. Starting in 1850s Shanghai, a party of reasonable adventurers and a vampire travelled to the heart of darkness itself in the hunt for a lost temple. While there was some confusion about what the temple was of (Buddha? Elephants? Was jade involved?), nothing would stand in our way, be it apes, Belgians, soup, or native cannibal tribes. It all ended happily, with a thrilling climax consisting of aerial combat between the vampire and a witchdoctor. If a vampire turns into a cloud of smoke it’s dead, right?
I certainly enjoyed myself, despite the heat and a worrying dripping water/light fitting combo in the “Green Man”.
The dissertation continues. I’m actually getting close to finishing the first draft now, which leaves me about a month to revise it and get it printed up.
Thursday, August 07, 2003
But I still love it here. Because London is great.
Tuesday, August 05, 2003
I am Hastur!
The Unspeakable One is the master of those who seek to unveil the mysteries of death. It is through meditation upon the Yellow Sign that the devotee of Hastur seeks transcendence to the city-realm of dim Carcosa. Through a complex series of visualizations that expand the aspirants void-consciousness, the final age will arise. Ruled by the ominous King in Yellow, a new stage of reality will come to fruition. Of the Olde Ones, Hastur is considered to be one of the most difficult to work with, his teachings being reserved exclusively for the Cthonian Adepts and Lords.
|Which Great Old One are you?|
Sunday, August 03, 2003
Like all of the best crime films, the crime here is fairly irrelevant to the plot. This film is all about mood and characterisation, which is just as it should be. Suffice it to say that the corrupt and incompetent Detective Kang is on the trail of a cold-blooded corporate killer straight out of Bret Easton Ellis. What results is a quirky journey into the darker aspects of Korean life.
This is by no means a perfect film: too much of the action is disjointed and this makes the significance of much of what the viewer sees hard to judge. On the positive side, it succeeds in being both funny and shocking. Additional points go to the film for not featuring any martial arts. As someone who is now heartily sick of martial arts having to appear in everything, it was refreshing that the violence in this film is very much in the “punch-in–the-face-makes-people-fall-over” vein. As a fan of chainsaw-wielding mayhem, it was also nice to see a bit of that.
Overall then, if you like crime films, and aren’t an idiot who doesn’t like reading subtitles, then see this film.
Friday, August 01, 2003
Last night I accompanied Jen and Barbara to “The Salisbury” to see stand up comedy. Some of them were good, some were bloody awful. If anyone reading this is considering stand-up, then I offer this piece of advice: if at any point in your act you find yourself forced to say “Its not funny, I’m just raising it as a debate”, then you should seriously consider your future. Still, the whole evening was made worthwhile by the last comic, a middle-aged blind guy who was absolutely fantastic.
On a more surreal note, I now know someone who works as a deckhand on the "Golden Hinde". Arrrrrr!
Tuesday, July 29, 2003
The party itself went very well. I wasn’t the murderer or the victim, and almost succeeded in all my goals. After the game had finished, this party, like all the others, turned into a drunken epic. Unlike all the others, I actually made it to 5:30 in the morning, and got drunk enough to reveal some of my hidden angst to at least one housemate. Hooray for vast quantities of Becks!
Sunday was spent nursing a hangover and apologising to Ned for going AWOL after promising to join him on some cultural events. We’ll find Karl Marx’s grave some other time.
New housemate Barbara, from Austria, has just arrived. We already like her, ‘cos she brought us Austrian chocolate. I also just found out that Vicky from college will be coming to London soon, which is cool.
Friday, July 25, 2003
I finally managed to get three chapters of my dissertation typed up, just so that I could entrust them to the Greek island postal service. Posting them would have been far easier without my usual level of incompetence. I mean, buying envelopes that are too small? Failing to check the size of the envelopes before sticking the labels on them? Having to arse about in the Post Office with new envelopes and scissors and labels and sellotape? To think they gave me a degree…
On the plus side, Ned has returned from New York, so we were able to get very drunk in the UCL Union for the first time in months. I find that being the drunk guy on the tube means that I don’t have to worry about the drunk guy on the tube.
Progress has also been made on the film front. Me and Emily The Housemate now have a basic skeleton of events for the script. We managed to accomplish this with only one “difference of opinion”, about the contents of a cupboard. She won.
I would be going into London now, but all of my socks are in the washing machine. Y'see what I mean about the lack of competance?
Tuesday, July 22, 2003
Last night I got my face slapped in our local pub. No, its not as interesting as you think.
Where are all the Nottingham people? Since I set this Blog up and told people about it only The Evil Medic has responded. Pete, Andy, Jason: tell me how crap it is.
Saturday, July 19, 2003
The power of the Blog grows! It provoked an e-mail from someone I haven’t seen in two years and haven’t heard from in one year. So I count that as a bit of a result.
So, how about those current events? More importantly, how long before they become the basis for an episode of “Spooks”?
Thursday, July 17, 2003
The upshot of all this is that there is nothing wrong with my eyes. Nada. At least it’s an answer, but why am I having symptoms if there’s no cause? Perhaps I’ll make medical history: “O’Brien’s Syndrome” has a nice ring to it. And has apostrophes in amusing places.
Wednesday, July 16, 2003
Today, work continued apace on my dissertation. Fortunately for my state of mind I’ve now finished the first bit of demography I have to do, and have moved on to the technology of warfare, which is far more exciting and, coincidentally, involves far less maths.
Me and Emily The Housemate may also have finally come up with an idea for a film script we could write. I’ll post more if we actually make any progress.
Sunday, July 13, 2003
I've set up this weblog to let me communicate better with my friends all over the world, and also with random strangers who've arrived here by mistake. It'll be a fairly mundane account of my life, but many people who've taken part in my life seem to have found it quite amusing, so it should work out just fine.
Oh, and don't expect to find every detail of my life here. With any luck I'll be a wealthy and famous person one day, and it'd be a shame if people were able to look at these posts and say "He did what with a spatula?" Those who need to know that sort of detail will get an e-mail about it.
Well, that's about it for now. Don't forget to come back!