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10:53pm 21/03/2016
  It feels like I have been waiting years to hear a song like this.

 
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Nearly 10 years   
01:03pm 08/03/2013
  I have been on livejournal for nearly 10 years. Not that I update much now, nor indeed for the last few years. In fact it has been over a year since the last entry and it is another year to the one previous to that so I have not been much of an active user. I do still check in on the friends page but that too seems to have gone very quiet - has livejournal finally died and everyone moved on to pastures new?

10 years is an eternity in internet terms...an internity i guess. Actually a decade is a long time offline too and it seems to have flown by when I think back. What saddens me is that I feel I have not taken full advantage of a significant amount of that time nor the opportunities that were presented. I'm not saying the time was wasted more like not fully utilised and it also worries me how quick it went by. I suspect a recurring theme of my journal over the years (at least when i bothered to update it) is the passing of time and the corollary to this is my fear of mortality - not an unusual view at all - but i think i may have it worse than most in that i struggle to think about it at all.

How can i type about it just now then? Well i'm not actually thinking about it as i type - i am instead concentrating on the noise the rain is making on the window - because I know if i let my head drift towards the subject then it leads to a dark place and I will feel a real sense of panic developing which will overwhelm me for a few minutes. As I am aware of what will happen it is thankfully not a regular occurrence because i can usually guard against it (think happy thoughts, think happy thoughts, think happy thoughts ;) ) but all the same it is not a pleasant place to be.

I'm not even sure why i brought this up, i only intended to say hello and that i enjoyed reading about your lives over the last decade even if i rarely use this site now.
 
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Saigon - The Greatest Story Never Told   
09:21pm 12/12/2011
  Favourite album of 2011.

This was a tough one. Partly tough in that I was struggling to come up with more than 10 albums I have listened to that came out this year and partly because of those 10 they are all pretty good but none really stand out above the others.

Anyway i think i'll go with Saigon - The Greatest Story Never Told.

This album has been anticipated for years - the mix tapes that made Saigon an underground hit go back almost a decade, his record deal with Atlantic almost as long. He recorded most of the tracks on the record 6 or 7 years ago - Just Blaze produced and there were guest vocals by hip hop royalty like Kanye West, Faith Evans, Jay Z and Q-Tip. Saigon even appeared as himself on HBOs Entourage for a few episodes. About 4 years ago the hype was going into over drive, he had underground credibility but also the big names guest and high crossover appeal...but the record remained in limbo. He had arguments with the label and took them to court, quit the record business, came back, fell out with his producer, became friends again. This carried on for years. Sort of like all the circus around Chinese Democracy by Guns n Roses, the only difference being Guns n Roses had once been a world famous band who sold millions of records, not some guy from Brooklyn who learned to rap and rhyme while in jail and who had never released anything more than a mix tape. Eventually Atlantic relented and releaed him from his contract and the album was picked up by a Suburban Noize Records (a small indie label) and released at the start of 2011. It did well for an independent release with total sales of about 20'000 over the course of the year, but just a drop in the ocean compared to what everyone thought 5 years.

So was it a bad record that didn't live up to expectations? Not at all. It is a long album, at about 80 minutes long. With a more ruthless selection of songs then there could have been a real classic album, as good as something like Illmatic by Nas or It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. But there is just a little bit of filler, a couple of songs that go on a bit long and a skit that could be done without.

But then that is a common fault that classic hip hop albums suffer from too. Even the greatest of all, It Takes a Nation of Millions, has its moments it could do without - do we really need Dave Pearce telling the Hammersmith Odeon to make some noise? The air raid siren and "London England, consider yourself warned" does just fine on its own.

If I bust a gun in the hood I get Attica or the Cat
I bang a gat in Iraq I get a pat on the back
Best believe I know better than that
This a lesson for all my listeners this shit ain’t just regular rap
It’s the greatest story that ever been spat


OK it may not quite be the greatest ever but it is still good and a bit of a throwback to the golden age of hip hop before all the misogyny and materialism got out of control.
 
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Drive   
12:00am 08/12/2011
  I need to get in the habit of updating. I've been saying this for the best part of 3 years now but never quite got round to doing it. So to end 2011, I'm going to try and do a few entries about particular things I enjoyed this year.

So to start...favourite movie of 2011.

Some years this would be a tough choice but not this year - it has to be Drive with Ryan Gosling. If you have watched the trailer and thought it looked like one to miss then I dont blame you - I initially thought it was going to be like the Fast and Furious and was really surprised when Refn won the best director award at the Cannes Film Festival. There might be car chases - two of them - but they dont drag on too long and the first one at the start of the movie is really quite gripping. I should stop pretending otherwise - i was brought up on a diet of the A-Team, Dukes of Hazzard and Knightrider...a good car chase will always have a place in my heart - i'm just avoiding placing too much importance on the inclusion of a car chase or two. ;-)

Anyway it is basically the story of a Hollywood stunt driver who has a side job as getaway driver. He is an enigmatic loner who falls in love with his neighbour then through helping her husband out gets in trouble with some gangsters. It is basically a modern film noir mixed with European art house with some pretty graphic violence in places. The Driver (we never find out his name) might be a psychopath, but godamnit he is one cool psycho and after watching it i walked out the cinema wanting to get a white satin jacket with a scorpion on the back, wear driving gloves, aviator shades and chew on toothpicks.



Gosling plays the part very well (and was also impressive in the Ides of March which was released around the same time)...he is one of the better actors about at the moment. Once the fame, celebrity and acclaim take a grip things tend to change and it is harder to ignore the associated baggage that their celebrity image or past roles bring. Can you remember the last time the likes of Johnny Depp, Jack Nicholson or Robert de Niro played a role that wasn't them playing a variation of themselves? Yet they were all once good actors. But Gosling isn't at that stage yet so it is just nice to see someone hit their stride and still not have the whole "movie star persona" behind the role.

Anyway back to Drive. Not only is the film good, the soundtrack is worth a mention too. I particularly liked the inclusion of Tick of the Clock by the Chromatics in the opening scene (which is a car chase cooler than anything in Bullet which i guess is considered the high water mark of cool car chases...and there i am talking about car chases again) which is then followed by Nightcall by Kavinsky and Lovefoxxx (from CSS) which soundtracks the opening credits is just the most perfect bit of 80s synth pop. The difference being it was made in 2010, and is not shit, which frankly most 80s synth pop is despite the revisionism. The rest of the soundtrack is rather ace too, would be a contender for my album of the year but i'll think of something else instead so I have an entry for another day.
 
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09:34pm 20/06/2011
  Has the layout of the friends page on livejournal changed or am i missing something obvious? Normally if i've not been online for a while i can read through a few pages worth of entries but now i get the first page then click <<previous 25 and i only get about 3 or 4 entries and no option to go back further. Not good...feel like I am missing out on someone predicting the correct lottery number or writing wonderful prose!  
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tan lines and royal wedding   
12:35pm 28/04/2011
  Ribs have just about mended, thankfully before hayfever season really started. Dont feel quite as flexibile as before. Think i'll need to do some exercises and stretches to try and improve that. Will also need to start thinking about diet, i've put on about 6kg due to lack of exercise and poor eating habits.

In just over two weeks time i've got the Etape Caledonia so really pleased I will be able to ride that. Well attempt to ride it as I dont think 2 weeks is enough training time. Perhaps of bigger concern is what the extra 6kg is going to look like in lycra shorts - will my bum look big in this....hell yes! Was out for a couple of rides this week and already started getting the ridiculous cyclist tan lines. Sun tanned arms, white hands (with a brown bit where the velcro fastener on the glove is), white thighs, brown knees and lower legs then white where the socks would be. It will continue to get worse as a couple more sunny rides and you will be able to tell where the sunglasses and helmet would be!

----

It is the royal wedding tomorrow, i have tried to avoid most of the hype but it has been hard, and has become overbearing as the day approaches. As Republicans go i am pretty moderate and gradualist - i dont really have a big problem with the queen remaining in her position as head of state until she dies - purely for the practical reason that it will save a lot of hassle and when she does go it will signal the end of an era that the country can then move on from and join the 21 Century (or indeed the 18th Century). Charles might be a dick but despite this I dont want his head chopped off - the return of land, buildings, assets and art collection to public ownership and the benefit of the nation as a whole will be enough. But seeing all the hype, or more importantly the seeming public enthusiasm, saddens me somewhat as this is never going to happen in my lifetime. Maybe there was a period in the mid 90s when things might have been different, they had lost a alot of the subservient deferrence and had begun to be seen as a sleazy anachronism but somehow they have managed to reinvent the institution / family in tune with current trends in vacuous celebrity culture.

Btw did anyone notice the Middleton family launching their own coat of arms last week and the description of the content - "the white lines symbolise the family love of skiing"....Not only did this make the news it was also reported seriously - It was like something out of Brass Eye!
 
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Capitalism in Crisis   
10:33pm 24/03/2011
  If you have a spare 11 minutes then watch this. It is an animated guide to the ongoing Crisis of Capitalism and based on a lecture by Professor David Harvey, so broadly speaking a Marxist economic critique of global economic system and its problems. I've probably not sold that too well for you to consider giving up 11 minutes of your day to watching this but dont let my description put you off, it is very accessible and the animation is really good.

 
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Treme   
10:23pm 23/03/2011
  It may have arrived on British TV a bit late but so far i've really been enjoying Treme. Before starting i'd read some criticism about the pacing and narrative structure, but frankly those critics were idiots! The narrative structure is indeed a bit different from a conventional drama because of the role musical performance play but it works really well. By and large I don't like musicals that much because often it feels like the music, song and dance get in the way of the storyarc - or the story gets in way of the music. Then there is the structure of plot -> the music -> the plot -> the music, i find it to be quite compartmentalised and lacking the sort of natural flow that either good music or good film on their own has. More often than not the plot of musicals is hackneyed nonsense. I guess in some ways the relationship of a musical to music and film is like that of pornography to sex and film. It takes more than nakedness and sex for something to actually be sexy. Of course i'm probably missing the point with that - people who like musicals/porn don't watch for the plot, that is only there as filler in between the songs/sex. With Treme though it is so much more than a musical as the acting, writing and directing are all excellent too. Then when the music happens it just feels natural because it is ingrained in the plot and narrative (and the city of New Orleans itself) so that is all meshes together perfectly.

Alongside Mad Men my favourite show on TV at the moment

~~~

Just downloaded firefox 4, currently at the awkward stage of finding my way around an unfamiliar GUI. But seems quite good so far.
 
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Bike crash   
04:35pm 22/03/2011
  Had a big cycling crash a couple of weekends ago. Coming down the Rest and Be Thankful (yes that is the real name, Argyll and Bute has some great place names - although perhaps Hell's Glen would have been a more suitable stretch to crash on). It is a fairly big hill so I was going along fast, until my front wheel slipped on patch of oil on the road...it happened so quick I didnt have time to stick an arm out and I landed with my head and collarbone on the road and my chest on the side of the handlebars...could hear scraping of helmet plastic on the tarmac. After that i lay on my back thinking to myself oh shit this is pretty bad. wWorked out my head felt ok, neck felt ok, collarbone wasn't broken so picked myself up and ouch...my ribs...again! (cracked them a couple of years ago, i'm sure i was doing lots of whining on twitter about it at the time). Lots of road rash down the left side of my body too. Got up and managed to slowly make my way home hoping that the aches would magically disappear. It didn't so ended up going to A+E and my self diagnosis was pretty accurate - cracked ribs, twisted knee and road rash. The cuts being cleaned out was rather nippy. Injured ribs are really not much fun at all. I cant lay down in bed without it hurting, cant breath deeply or twist...and sneezing or coughing. Ouch. Last time it took about 8 weeks for things to get back to normal which means there will be an overlap with the start of hayfever season. Have also got the Etape Caledonia in May so going to be missing out alot of training for that. I'm riding that for charity as part of Team Macmillan so that complicates it a bit, if I was just riding it myself I'd probably pull out.

Can't complain much though could have been worse - when i use a bike for leisure / exercise then i always wear a helmet but for a short journey around town to the shops or down to the train station (so using the bike for transport i guess) then i usually dont bother wearing a helmet because i dont want to carry it about with me. Dont think i'll be doing that again - there is a bit of (heated) debate on whether helmet use is effective at preventing serious injury or not, but all i know is that that my head is the only part of my body that didnt hurt the next day!
 
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06:15pm 31/01/2011
  It goes without saying I don't like Rupert Murdoch and pretty much everything he stands for... However I am really looking forward to the launch of Sky Atlantic tomorrow. All the current shows from HBO plus some from Showtime and AMC as well as the entire HBO back catalogue too.



Only downside (well apart from the News International issue) is that it will have adverts that will need to be fast forwarded through. I thought BBC4 was the ideal location for the likes of Mad Men with no interuptions to ruin the flow.
 
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12:57pm 28/01/2011
  Term time is only a couple of weeks old and i'm sick of it already, i've been covering a class for someone who is on maternity leave at the moment and a couple of others who are on sabbatical but they are in a more economics related field and I am struggling quite badly. I can write about economic theory or critique the application of it, however I can't actually do it. Think a large part of that is because I am so poor at maths and statistics. The class is on a Thursday and from Monday days all I do is try to prepare for the class and hope no-one is going to ask any questions. Feel like a total fraud when i'm standing in front of the students!

---

Have been suffering from alot of 'bsod' errors with my computer recently. Been driving me mad, it is like how I remember PCs before XP came along. For years I virtually never had any problems with xp or vista so this was an unwelcome return. A tech minded friend has looked through lots of crash logs, dumpfiles and ran all sorts of tests and he can't find out what was wrong either. Dell technical support is pretty much useless too. My macbook annoys the hell out of me at times but at least i can take it in the apple shop and book an appointment for someone to look at it and try and replicate the errors with me being present rather than try and communicate over the phone with someone going through a series of stock questions that I already answered the last time i phoned up. They are at least sending someone out on Monday to have a look so hopefully they will be able to sort it.

---

Thoughts out to lapetitepaumee. Just read that the internet has been switched off and the police are starting to crack down. Sort of puts my moans in perspective!
 
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30 and McDonald's   
10:54am 14/05/2010
  I keep meaning to update more regularly and keep not getting round to it. So here I am again intending to update more regularly.

It was my 30th birthday a few days ago. There is no way around it, i'm the age that when i was 10 or 16 or 21 was old. 30 was grown up and adult, it was the age of friends dads when i was at primary school and all that sort of stuff. Practically middle aged. Actually if i lived in the 15th or 16th century then it would be elderly. So more than other birthdays it has caused quite alot of reflection on where my life is heading. Am i where I thought i'd be when i reached this age? No. I had assumed i'd have a career, be married and have a family. None of which is close to happening. As nearly all of my friends are either already married or are engaged im gradually becoming aware that i dont always want to be this way and that the balance between freedom and companionship is shifting more to the latter than the former. I dont mean that to sound like i think those on my friends list who are married are not 'free', i mean solely in terms of myself.

(You know the worst thing about this - the last two weddings ive attended for the dinner i've been sat at the singles table, surrounded by either teenagers or social outcasts. And im obviously not a teenager :D )

I have a shameful secret to admit to - throughout my adult life i've pretty much avoided McDonalds, but here i am sat in one (the excuse is my car is in getting fixed so have to wait somewhere rather than wander about in the rain!) It is not actually all that bad, the furnishings are alot less preschool than i remember, they have free wifi and the egg mcmuffin, hash brown and strawberry milkshake is perfectly edible, and dare i say it enjoyable. I suppose anything loaded up with salt and fat is going to appeal to my inner west of Scotland self.

Takes me back a bit, i remember the first McDonald's opening in Scotland, late 80s/early 90s i guess it was. It is so hard to imagine now but back then it was positively exotic and such a treat to be taken there. There was a huge Tower Records next door and when i was a teenager my friends and i used to go up there late on a friday night, buy some records (and lust after the stuff in their import section that was so expensive), read the American magazines and then go into McDonald's. That felt exciting, like we were doing something just like how the cool kids did it in New York City or LA.
 
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cupcakes, pizza, gluttony   
02:34pm 11/06/2009
  Recently discovered Marks and Spencers do nice cupcakes so have been working my way through the different flavours. (Actually when did fairy cakes start being called cupcakes? Or is a fairy cake and a cupcake different?) Probably not the best idea ever considering I cant exercise at the moment, its always the same though - when I am going to the gym or cycling alot I never feel any desire to eat junk, yet when I cant exercise I start eating all sorts of crap. Which is obviously the worst combination. But i think to myself fuck it, im constantly tired a cupcake won't do any harm. What will do harm is the other stuff. There was a 2 for 1 offer for dominos and while watching the football the other day we had a pizza each OK maybe that doesnt sound bad, but it was one of the large ones. The 'serves 2-4' people sort. And i ate the whole thing over the course of the night. Doing that seemed to make my ribs hurt even more when i stood up afterwards - it was like my stomach was so full it was pushing against my ribcage...i dont even know if that is possible, but it felt like it!

Have got Oasis to see next week, not sure if i'm going to be able to go as its a standing ticket, dont want to get pushed or crushed. If it wasnt for the big group of friends all going i dont think i could be arsed with going even if i was 100%. But Oasis concerts are the only time (other than online) I get to see some old schoolfriends these days.
 
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it's not what's wrong, it's what's right   
10:54pm 18/05/2009
  Journal for Plague Lovers arrived today and on first impression it is really rather good. I've had it stuck on repeat most of the day. I feared it could have been a bit of a disaster, many posthumous albums and the lack of quality control in them often tarnish what went before but this manages to avoid that pitfall.

There are still times it frustrates a bit too. The special edition has the original lyric sheets not the lyrics that are on the final recorded version and there are some disregarded lines or verses which are really good and thus seem a bit wasted being cut out, not for quality reasons but so as to fit the lyrics in with a traditional rock or pop song structure. There are also times when it seems like the production from Steve Albini has been reigned in and given a bit of a gloss. So in some ways it is a bit of a compromise from what the album could have been. But this is all with comparision to the Holy Bible, which was a pretty uncompromising album both lyrically and musically. On its own terms 'Journal' is really good, probably my favourite album of the year so far. Never thought i'd ever say that about a Manics album again!

Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in!
 
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swimming cities   
05:33pm 01/05/2009
  This is a pretty cool art project.

http://www.swimmingcities.org/about/

The Swimming Cities of Serenissima is a fleet of three intricately hand crafted vessels that will navigate the Adriatic Sea from the Litoral region of Slovenia to Venice, Italy in May of 2009. Designed by the visual artist SWOON, the floating sculptures are descendants of the Swimming Cities of Switchback Sea (Hudson River, 2008) and the Miss Rockaway Armada (Mississippi River, 2006 and 2007).

SWOON’s boats are inspired by dense urban cityscapes and thickly intertwined mangrove swamps from her Florida youth. The Swimming Cities of Serenissima are built from salvaged materials, including modified Mercedes car motors with long-tail propellers. The boats’ crew is made up of 30 collaborating artists from the United States.
 
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Some movie stuff - oscars and glasgow film festival   
10:37am 23/02/2009
  Well seeing as the Oscars were last night I suppose I should start with that.

Happy to see Slumdog Millionaire win all its awards. Also glad Sean Penn won best actor for Milk. Partly because he was good in it, but mostly because I've disliked seeing Mickey Rourke become rehabilitated from wife beating outcast back to movie star largely thanks to the Wrestler. Waltz with Bashir should have won something - although in saying that Gomorrah should have had a nomination or two too. And Wall-E should really have had a nomination for best picture. Those robots conveyed more emotional depth to their relationship than that displayed in Benjamin Button and the Reader!


It was also the Glasgow Film Festival over the last couple of weeks so i've been at the cinema quite alot. Saw some classics that were being re-run too - there was an Audrey Hepburn retrospective so that was good. Here were the best of what i watched;

Johnny Mad Dog - A movie about child soldiers in Liberia. Reminscent in many ways to City of God. Really good and will definitely be checking this out again when it gets its full release.

In the Loop - The film version of the Thick of It (one of my favourite comedy series of recent years.) Doesn't disappoint. Although many of the actors are the same, only Peter Capaldi as Tucker (the best character in the series) plays in the same role. James Gandolfini is added to the cast and it moves out of Whitehall and into American politics at the State Department. I wonder how it will get on - if it had come out a couple of years ago then I think it could have become a cult hit in both Britain and the US but now the times have changed somewhat so the audience might not be out there to the same extent.

Tokyo - three short films by different directors rolled into one. Basically 'Paris J'taime' and 'New York New York' but with Tokyo. Quite good, although a bit mixed. The segments from Michel Gondry and Boon Joon-ho were the best, very quirky as you can expect from them.

MR 73 - Olivier Marchal's last film '36' was billed as the 'French Heat' then I guess this will be billed as the 'French Se7en'. Pretty good. Although as a story of an alcoholic detective struggling for redemption it does cross into cliche at times. Think that it is actually pretty old, it was released in France about a year ago its only getting an international release now.

Let the Right One In - This is a Swedish vampire story about a troubled boy who falls in love with a girl who happens to be, surprise surprise, a vampire. To be honest, I thought this was the weakest film I watched over the last couple of weeks, yet it was the film that got the best audience reaction with everyone standing and applauding at the end! It has also reviewed pretty well and is even in imdb.coms top 250. So i'll give it another go on DVD when it is eventually released and see what im missing.
 
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New year, jobs, twitter and the superbowl   
12:02pm 06/02/2009
  Where the hell have the 00s gone? I can't get over that it is already 2009 never mind into the second month of the new year. Shieeeeeeeet as Senator Clay Davis would say. On reflection the last year or so was a bit...meh. In many ways it never really felt like 2008 ever started properly because it was such a disjointed year. Partly because of the fire (it is now over a year since that happened) but it goes a bit more than that. It feels like I am in a state of stasis and at 28 i'm feeling much worse angst than I ever did as a moody teenager!

Currently applying for jobs / waiting for interviews just as the economy goes into crisis. Although that has not really impacted on me quite yet as so far as i've been applying for jobs in the public sector - there are still jobs to be had just a bit more competition because the city or whatever isn't seen as such an attractive option at the moment. Naturally the only job i feel particularly enthused about is also the one that will be the hardest to get.


Signed up for twitter a couple of weeks ago. Seems to be the new in thing to do online and unlike some of past in things in social networking like myspace, facebook and bebo i quite like it. The idea of it sounds quite banal and boring (and the content can be like this) but at the same time is also quite addictive. Most of the attention it has received in the media so far has been the famous people on it, who rather than getting their PRs to update stuff are doing it themselves - Andy Murray, Stephen Fry, John Cleese, Russell Brand, Jonathan Ross and Lance Armstrong being some of the more well known names. Admittedly most of what the famous people post is bit boring but there is some good stuff too - like Stephen Fry posting updates when stuck in an elevator or MC Hammer posting photos from pitchside at the superbowl. I'm sure he gets hundreds of messages everyday just saying STOP....HAMMERTIME! I had to resist the urge.

I am @ http://www.twitter.com/trequartista if anyone is a member and wants to follow my tweets.

Actually while on the subject of the Superbowl. Every year i stay up to watch it and give it a go to see what all the fuss is about. Every year i end up getting bored after half an hour and falling asleep. Every year I post a message on LJ moaning about it. Not this year though, it was just so exciting - i enjoyed every minute of it and was still wide awake when the game finished around 3am over here. Maybe I finally "get" American Football. Or maybe it was just a great game and a one off. The halftime show with Bruce Springsteen looked good as well.
 
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05:33pm 25/01/2009
  Coldplay as puppets!

 
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Chimp on a Segway   
01:02am 22/10/2008
  I realise this is a bit (a lot) on the cruel side for the poor chimpanzee involved and I should be ashamed for finding it so funny. But...

 
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Pine Barrens   
10:31am 13/09/2008
  Favourite scene from my favourite episode of the Sopranos.




Tony [over the phone]: It's a bad connection so I'm gonna talk fast! The guy you're looking for is an ex-commando! He killed sixteen Chechen rebels single-handed!

Paulie: Get the fuck outta here.

Tony: Yeah. Nice, huh? He was with the Interior Ministry. Guy's like a Russian green beret. This guy can not come back and tell this story. You understand?

Paulie: I hear you.
[hangs up]

Paulie: You're not gonna believe this. He killed sixteen Czechoslovakians. Guy was an interior decorator.

Christopher: His house looked like shit.
 
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