Thursday, August 31, 2006

Bada Bing! The Sopranos is back!

The Sopranos returns to British television tonight (as announced in a very funny E4 advert). Emily and I have been desperate to see season six since running through the entire series from season one on DVD.

Some of my friends have already downloaded the entire series in pirate fashion from the web. Being a reformed delinquent shoplifter, I can hardly morally disapprove, but I’m quite glad I didn’t do the same thing. It’s a pleasure to have an event to look forward to, even if it is just a telly programme.

So to mark this momentous TV landmark with all due respect, we’re having some friends over for a Sopranos themed evening. It’s gonna be cold cuts, cannoli and cold Prosecco all the way. But no eggs – we know what happens in the Sopranos when someone cooks eggs.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Consumerism: Good or Evil?

After a weekend devoted to shopping, I’ve been pondering whether consumerism is a good or bad thing. My instinct is that it’s a bad thing. But is this justified? Should I stop worrying and learn to love consumerism?

What do other middle class people think?
The general consensus among the Guardian-reading classes is that it is very bad. The interesting thing is that the Telegraph-reading classes agree.

Of course, their objections are different. The leftish middle classes deride consumerism because they see it as the crass crescendo of modern capitalism, feeding unreasonable materialistic desires that bury the poor in more debt. The rightwing middle classes see it as the garish apotheosis of outré Chav culture, leading the lower classes into crime and getting above their station.

Cameron noise
The noises David Cameron is making probably prove that both left and right worry that rampant consumerism is bad for the environment, as the Earth’s resources are stripped to make a squillion Coke cans a minute, or whatever the latest mind-bending figures are.

By George!
Meanwhile, the lower classes are enjoying the fact that George of ASDA can kit their kids out in a year’s worth of school uniforms for £3.50. They’re not bothered about the third world sweatshop labour that enables prices to get so low.

Fucking hypocrites
And, as they disapprove of consumerism, lefties are off buying eco-friendly furniture carved by Fairtrade indigenous tribes from sustainable wood in Belize. Tories are eyeing up the latest Aga oven.

And EVERYONE is off down IKEA on a Sunday.

What do I think?
I know I’m a fucking hypocrite too. I love shopping, I like the new things that I can buy. I work as a copywriter, finding new ways to sell shit to people. At the same time, I know that capitalism is a bonkers system with which to manage the world’s resources. We are fucking over the planet in order to own more…things.

I also think that the need for material things should be balanced by a yearning for spirituality.

I feel guilty when I shop, because I know that it’s wasteful and pointless. I get pleasure from the things I buy, although it’s often short-lived. But, hang about - what about all the books and music I’ve bought over the years? Some of that will always stay with me and inspire me.

In short, I feel conflicted.

Crusty Heaven
If I’m honest with myself, would I live in yurt in a Welsh valley, do away with my LCD TV, PSP, DS and Powerbook, live off the land, wear hemp? Would I still be allowed to buy books and new music – isn’t that consumerism too? In order to buy my books and music would I sign on for benefits, living off the system I’ve supposedly rejected?

We’re all doomed
I also recognise that there won’t be an international revolution that will bring down capitalism. The system is just too monolithic to dent with protests or even terrorism. Capitalism won’t be pushed and the only way it will fall is when it’s fucked everything over and we’re all living in the ruins of our shopping centres, fighting giant super-intelligent rats for tinned food.

Bugger me, there are no easy solutions are there?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The fitzness blog

I've decided to stick my fitness and fatness issues into a separate blog, primarily to motivate myself to keep going to the bloody gym.

If you want to see whether I'm progressing from Carr to Corrr! visit the new blog!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I Look Like...who?!

Oh dear. I’m rather depressed today. The reason? I’ve had two women on separate occasions say that I remind them of camp comic Alan Carr. I’m alarmed for four reasons:

  1. He’s as camp as a Millets warehouse
  2. He’s got a face that only his mother could love. And even then he was probably spoonfed with a catapult
  3. He’s got a tortured estuary English accent – and I thought I’d shrugged off my Medway roots
  4. He’s – er - rather ‘stocky’

This is possibly even more depressing than a run of being compared with Van Den Puup, the fictional design ponce in IKEA adverts a few years ago. I could at least put that down to my shortlived penchant for flat caps and glasses. Jesus, even Emily got in on the act with that one – using Van Den Puup’s photo when my number came up on her mobile.

The other comparison I get fairly frequently is Jack Black. This happened again last night. It’s usually accompanied by an explanation that it’s not because I share his body-shape – it’s because I’m funny like him. Now I think Jack Black is a charismatic and talented man – but I think I have enough self-knowledge to realise that the comparison is due to the fact we’re both –er – rather ‘stocky’.

Well, my self-esteem can take no more – I’ve resolved to lose weight. Indeed I’m off to the gym! I’ll chart my progress with excruciating honesty on this blog – beginning with a weigh-in and induction tomorrow.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Quote of the Day

"The saddest day of your life isn't when you decide to sell out. The saddest day of your life is when you decide to sell out and nobody wants to buy."

Norman Spinrad, Bug Jack Barron (1969)

By the way
I recently discovered that Spinrad wrote this fucking bizarre book called 'The Iron Dream'. It is purportedly a hack sci-fi novel by Adolf hitler, who becomes a pulp writer in the States instead of dictator of Germany. I've just received the book from eBay - along with a sword.

Of course, what I didn't think about is: how the fuck do I get the sword home? I can't take it on the tube, if there's a police bag-search at Leytonstone, I'll probably be shot. And the package is too long to transport on my scooter. Maybe I should keep it at work for client meetings?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Big O

Is no one else I know excited by the golden age of fantasy art in the 1970s? Yes, I realise it’s all a bit prog-rock, but I’ve taken a tube journey on the Nostalgia Line today, man - stopping off at Big O posters.

As a kid in the 70s, there was always a poster shop that would sell you a massive poster visualising some kind of twisted, fantasy subject in air-brushed detail. Even in a backwater like Royal Leamington Spa. I seem to remember the biggest artists were Roger Dean (who did all those Yes album covers) and the slightly more deranged Rodney Matthews.

I’ll always remember that I had two Rodney Matthews posters on the walls of my bedroom. There was a massive one called ‘Corum Escapes’, which, unbeknownst to me, featured a Michael Moorcock character. He was an armoured warrior with an eye-patch and pointy helmet (steady missus), standing at a door, bludgeoning some weird bird-men.

The other poster was entitled ‘Another time, another place’ and featured some minstrels in a bizarre alien forest. Again, I didn’t realise at the time that the blokes were the Rolling Stones, I just liked the picture. It stirred my imagination, enabled me to float away from the mundane realities of life.

Anyway – the reason for my burst of nostalgia is that I was idling looking for Rodney Matthews on Google and found the Rolling Stones poster for sale on his site. It was even an original Big O edition from 1978. Now, the price of satisfying my yearning for the past was £50, which is possibly not good value for money, and I know that Emily going to HATE it. But – but – there’s something so satisfying about having a piece of my childhood on the wall. Just get me started on the framing costs…

By the way…
I ended up finding Michael Moorcock books after picking up ‘The Mad God’s Amulet’ in the library. For a ten year old boy, the novel was a real trip. It was packed with wild, surreal possibilities; full of imagination, energy and pace. The same spirit had obviously appealed to me in the poster. Once I connected the two, I liked the picture all the more, of course. Even more than my giant Darth Vader poster, in fact. And, as far as I was concerned, Darth Vader was the coolest thing ever.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

One Month Old Today

I'm been working at home today, looking after Stan while Emily goes for a medical appointment. Editing case studies while seeing to the boy's needs has worked out well. He feeds every two hours, so as long as the bottles are sterilised and Stan's nappies are regularly changed, I've got plenty of time in between for writing.

It's been a pleasure to look after Stan on his one month birthday. He's certainly changed a lot in a month - far more aware and active! Still got terribly grumbly guts though, poor lad!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Regime Change in the Kingdom of Stan

Complete and utter chaos. That’s the only way to describe the state of our house at the moment. I suppose it’s a part of baby-rearing that I’d forgotten – when there’s a newborn to be fed, changed, bathed and coddled, it’s hard to stay on top of everything else. Things are harder now that I’m back at work, as I’m too knackered to pick up on this stuff in the evening. It’s telling that the tidiest room in the house is Mila and Frankie’s!

As I pick my way past random piles of clothes, bowls, newspapers, remote controls and baby paraphernalia, I try to remember what it was like to walk through the living room without the risk of injury. I think it’s my fault – as the semi-independent creature in the kingdom of Stan, I have the freedom to clean. Whereas, as primary food production unit, his mother is physically enslaved by the tyrant baby. We’re beginning to wonder whether feeding on demand and picking Stan up as soon as he utters a squawk is producing this tyranny. However, the advice of child experts such as Gina Ford (basically, leave babies to cry so they know who’s boss) seems too harsh.

I have a feeling that we’ll be warming to the hardline parenting doctrine before long though. Hopefully this will lead to peaceful regime change, but I bloody doubt it.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Is it normal?

I’m back at work now, trying to balance sleep deprivation with thinking. It isn’t easy. However, I think I’ve got it easier than Emily, who’s now at home on her own with Stan. I generally receive a number of phone calls as the day progresses beginning with the words “Is it normal?”

Here are some examples:

It is normal for him to…

  • Go cross-eyed when he poos?
  • Sleep for more than two hours?
  • Sleep so little?
  • Make a funny wheezing noise when he breathes?
  • Wee so often?
  • Poo so often?
  • Vomit so often?
  • Have a flaky scalp?
  • Have those little spots?
  • Cry so much?
  • Have that funny look on his face?
  • Go so red?

Now, don’t get the idea that I’m the definitive authority that Emily trusts to answer these questions. My reply (which can generally be summarised as “Yes, it’s fine”) is then verified by Emily’s mum, my mum, her dad, her friends who are also mothers, Dr. Miriam Stoppard, Google and most probably the World Health Organisation. Once all these sources agree that it is indeed normal, she can get on with inventing a new “it is normal?” query.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Jarvis Cocker's Running the World

I've just downloaded a song called 'Running the World' by Mr. Jarvis Cocker (ah, the halcyon days of Britpop). The key line in the song is 'cunts are still running the world' and it's hard to disagree with that sentiment. I bought the song from iTunes, but it seems to be available free from Jarvis's MySpace site. Get it, listen to it and pray that Ray Mears becomes our wise monarch soon (in an ideal world we'd have no leaders, but I've given up on the idea of anarchism).

By the way, who is Red Car Man (see various comments)? I never trust anyone who refers to themselves in the third person - is he a paedophile?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Joys of Consumerism: Part 1

Buying cool trainers for your baby.

That's a result for capitalism then, although I suppose it would be FAR more satisfying to weave him some shoes from hemp or something...