Monday, 24 September 2007

News just in...

Yet another late, late post. This one comes at the end of an action-packed day that consisted of painting toy soldiers until teatime, watching telly until bedtime, and playing Theoryhammer with Jeff “S
tupid Sexy Jeff” McDeath until way past bedtime. Playing Theoryhammer is essentially the same as playing Warhammer, but without such tedious constraints as tables, scenery, toy soldiers and dice rolling. Kind of like a ”who would win in a fight between…” sort of argument, but with more stats and probabilities thrown in.

And whilst this may definitively prove definitively that we are geeks, we are now pretty certain that a unit of 6 Stone Trolls is damn good, just as long as you keep them close to your Warboss.

In other, only slightly less boring news, almost nothing else has happened this week.

I spent two or three days fine tuning my CERN application – which essentially means I spent two or three days procrastinating, playing solitaire, or otherwise staring blankly at the blinking cursor on the monitor, pausing only briefly to type a few words about how much I love particle physics. For a variety of reasons I seem to find it very difficult to convey my passion for particle physics; and so I find myself hoping that the European Centre for Nuclear Research doesn’t bother to read applications too closely, opting instead for a selection process that involves a lot of bits of paper with names written on them, and a very large hat.

In the meantime, I have been half-heartedly hunting around for a part-time job. Having tried and failed on three occasions to secure some kind of office-based employment, I trotted along to the Christmas jobs fair at the local mall and got a job with my friendly local Big Gay Department Store pretty much instantly.


It’s really not what I want to be doing; I’ve worked in retail for eleven years already, and would quite like my CV to show that I am capable of working in a different environment; and if I am going to be working in retail, I’m not sure I want to be working there. I’ve got another interview lined up with Waterstones, a book shop in the same mall; and whilst they may be less big and posh than The Big Gay Department Store, they also seem a whole lot less uptight. For example, they don’t insist on staff wearing suits or smart trousers with long sleeved shirts (which must be either white, ivory, pale blue or pale grey, plain and sensibly opaque), with ties that must be businesslike in style and design and selected to co-ordinate with the rest of the outfit.

Plus, the store is directly beneath Games Workshop; so I can easily pop in at lunchtime for a few games of Theoryhammer with the staff.

Monday, 17 September 2007

Mazal Tov, y’all

Apparently, I have been grumpy all week; and grumpiness is forbidden.

Sigh. This sort of thing really annoys me. Sure, I’ve been a bit sullen and moody – but it’s not like I’ve been growing to immense size, acquiring a greenish complexion and smashing things indiscriminately. I just get a bit quiet and short of patience.

I guess it started on Monday, when we went to the pub for farewell drinks with Charlie (who is now a former pseudo-housemate, having moved into new digs with other scummy students). By “we”, I mean Charlie, The Boy and myself. Sam was apparently too fat and lazy to walk up the road to join us, and Dozer elected to stay behind at the house so that he could continue to fail utterly to get any action whatsoever with Joss (some chick that is part friend of The Boy, part walking soap opera and part sponging slacker).

The three of us still managed to have a nice time, but I was really disappointed that Sam and Dozer didn’t seem willing to acknowledge the fact that while she was staying with us, Charlie actually pulled her weight. She cooked meals, bought food, and (unlike the two fat men) understood that the dishwasher was not a special kind of cupboard for dirty dishes; nor was it home to dark and terrible beasts, whose thirst for human blood can only be appeased through offerings of soiled plates and cutlery left scattered over various work surfaces in the kitchen.

My mood was not improved the next day when a hefty water bill arrived, and a quick check of the house finances showed that a) Dozer hasn’t paid any rent since June, and b) there won’t be enough money to pay all the bills and the rent at the end of this month. Dozer claims that he is sorting himself out, and in fairness he has secured himself a second job, working behind the bar at the Cat and Wheel; but that doesn’t really alter the fact that because he quit his old job (by headbutting the sales manager) and then sat on the sofa for three months watching TV, we might all have to find new homes before Christmas.

And so I have been grumpy.

Except on Wednesday, when I was invited to my friend (and former employee) Paul’s house to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year and day of judgement. Apparently the year 5768 commenced at sundown on the 12th of September; but don’t take my word for it, click here to calculate it for yourself. I got to eat tasty Jewish nibbles, dared to try the Jewish Surprise (which turned out to be cake and ice cream), and even found time to spill beer all over Paul’s Jewish carpet.

Monday, 10 September 2007

Spilled drinks and hearing loss

One of my favourite things about going to gigs is the ‘brain flush’ effect. The music enters my cranium via my ears and forces everything else out, and for the time that the band is playing they are the only thing that matters and nothing else is real.

Of course, this only really works if I’m enjoying the music. But it just so happens that the gig I went to on Tuesday was one of those legendarily awesome billings, the kind where even the opening act is a band that I would gladly pay money to go and see.

The opening act in question was Taint. I’ve seen them a couple of times before, and am constantly impressed by the way that the three of them, with just drums, bass, guitar and throat, are able to create such dense layers of sound without resorting to any kind of technical jiggery-pokery. They’re kind of like an instrumental hard rock outfit… except there’s vocals…

Next up was Russian Circles, an actual instrumental rock outfit. Falling somewhere between the huge tectonic riffs of Pelican and the post-rock nihilism of Red Sparowes, they created music that was intricate and engaging enough that any kind of vocals would have been quite superfluous, and therefore were not missed.

And then headliners High On Fire, a thrashy stoner-doom trio who are nothing like instrumental rock, even though most of their songs are 50% guitar solo. They were very metal, and in the confines of The Cooler (which normally serves as some kind of pretentious little indie club) they were so impossibly loud that at times I felt quite dizzy. As excellent as they were, the devastating volume meant that their set was one to be endured more than enjoyed. Or maybe both.

Rather unsurprisingly, this left me quite deaf for a few days afterwards – which in turn meant that I also became quite mute. It’s not like I’m particularly talkative at the best of times, but there didn’t seem to be any point in trying to converse with others, since to me it just sounded as though they were mumbling. It was all a little bit odd.

Fortunately my hearing returned after two or three days, so I was able to get back into my routine of playing Blood Bowl all day with Jeff “I Was Raised By Hyenas” McDeath, and having loud and animated discussions in the pub with him, Charlie and The Boy. In true nerd-core fashion, these discussions mostly fell under the “Who would win in a fight between…” category; only instead of being fights between comic book characters or daytime TV presenters, they were fights between animals – a kind of King of the Jungle Arena of Death. It started out as lion vs crocodile; then brown bear vs crocodile; and then brown bear vs silverback gorilla, before eventually devolving into “What’s the biggest/most dangerous animal you could take on armed with nothing but a hammer?”.

This is of course a ludicrous debate of no merit whatsoever. And so naturally, the TV show has already been made…

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Sharks don’t look back, because they have no necks

Last Monday was a bank holiday; therefore the bangers were on; therefore we went to watch the bangers. Brave knights of the road did battle with no thought for their own personal gain or safety, first in the usual assortment of gaily-coloured clapped-out motors, then in a glorious figure-of-eight Reliant Robin destruction derby, and finally in bangers towing caravans. It was pretty damn awesome.

Aside from that, it’s been a fairly slow week; I’ve been tweaking (ie. completely re-writing) my CV for this Cern placement application thingy, and have now got it to the point where even I think it makes me sound employable. Sort of. Jeff “Smash Your Foes, See Them Scatter Before You, And Hear The Lamentation Of Their Women” McDeath has been around a fair bit too, so naturally there has been a bit of drinking and Blood Bowl. If it seems as though Jeff spends a lot of time at our house, that’s because he does. Jeff doesn’t have a great time in his own home, mainly because he regards his mother as dominating and unreasoning matriarchal dictator, whilst she regards him as a disorganised, lazy and irresponsible stoner that’s far too content to just bimble through life at his own pace. They are of course both right, which explains why Jeff failed to get onto the teaching course he had planned to do this year; and also why he is now trying to get a job in recruitment consultancy far, far away from his mother, in London. He’s had a few interesting interviews with some very self-important people in expensive suits, who mostly seem interested in how ruthless he can be, and whether or not he possesses the same kind of maniacal greed more commonly found in Bond villains.

Mr Dozer’s got himself a job, working at a friend’s motorbike shop. Here’s what he did at work this week.

That’s not all he did, of course; he also made one for The Boy and one for me, and liberated a pair of all-weather motorcycle boots for himself.

And finally, I went see the Transformers movie. I’ve loved Transformers since I was a kid, and was expecting to be massively disappointed by the film; mainly because most of the characters transform into the wrong things… yes, I’m that kind of geek.

The fact is that it’s really easy to find fault with the film. But do you know what? Giant robots are fucking cool. And theres an awful lot of giant robots smashing stuff up in that film. I give it seven thumbs up.