Friday, 10 July 2009

A boring long holiday post #3

Thought I'd forgotten about this, hadn't you? Nope, just other stuff got in the way.

So, New York state itself. It's easy to think of the Big Apple when you think of New York, but the state itself is an interesting one, with lots of beautiful countryside and winding roads parallel to the Hudson River, which is strangely beautiful when you look at it with the NYC skyline in the background. After walking around in the city for 2 days, Ivan and I were ready to get in the car and go exploring for a day.

Armed with an excellent guide that highlighted cool stuff to explore, we navigated down some fast, tricky, winding roads, which handily had viewing points located every few miles or so.

That's one of the viewing points we stopped at - see the helicopters? About 5 massive black choppers flew past us and I tried my best to capture them. God knows where they were going. We stopped off at a few mildly interesting places, but the highlight was West Point, and their fascinating museum which was free entry. I wasn't allowed to take my bottle of Fanta in, but I could live with that. I hid it behind a bin, in case you were wondering.

For some weird reason, I didn't take any photos at West Point, I really can't think why not. Anyway, here's some photos that I've nicked from the internet.

That's quite enough of other people's pictures. And yes, that brown bin there is indeed "the bin". The museum, considering it was free, was flipping brilliant, and I recommend it to all, although I fancy blokes might enjoy it a bit more than the ladies.

As we drove back towards our hotel at the end of the day, we passed through this quaint little village:,_New_York I regret to inform we saw no headless horsemen, but you can see why it's called "Sleepy" and it was a bit creepy. We didn't linger for long there!

I feel like I should be telling you more about New York, but if I did these entries would go on forever. So, I'll just wrap up for now by talking about our hotel, which was in New Jersey. We deliberately selected the hotel, as not only was it a billion times cheaper than hotels in the city, but it also had a fantastic little tourist bus service which you hopped on outside the hotel, and then it took you into the city for a few dollars, and then the other way round at the end of the day. That was fantastic, and the hotel was fine, however, New Jersey.....

In his excellent series about America, Stephen Fry described parts of NJ as "hell on earth", as well as their casinos as "vulgar, tasteless and desperately sad". I can't talk about any casino, but the area of New Jersey we were in scared me. Actually, scrap that, it fucking terrified me. The only time we strayed out of the hotel was when we walked about a mile down to the McDonalds to pick up some dinner, and both times we walked quickly there, quickly got our food, and quickly walked back, our heads down, not saying anything to each other.

I swear I'm not joking when I tell you that I watched each car intently, because it was the kind of place where a drive-by shooting would have been met with a shrug and casual acceptance. The delicious irony being that 10 minutes away (by bus) from this poverty stricken, wasteland of an area, was downtown NYC, with Wall Street, Tiffany's, Trump Tower etc. It was something I came to notice most about the New York area - we would drive past areas of abject deprivation, and then literally 2 minutes later you're driving along and you see the Statue of Liberty and the glamour of the Big Apple. It's a queer old place, in that respect.

Thankfully, we weren't shot/stabbed to death in New Jersey, and on our final night there we opened our hotel room door and marvelled in the best thunderstorm you could imagine. Enjoy a good bit of lightning? Try looking out at a night's sky where there's about 15 different lightning bolts crashing around, amongst the most impressive downpour of rain I've ever seen in my life. New York doesn't do things by half, in any respect.

Time to leave this place. Next time, Connecticut!

Thursday, 9 July 2009

An angry live-blogging experience

22:35 I'm pissed off tonight, not sure why. I think it's because I had to go into Wellington earlier, or maybe because we had chilli for dinner, and I fucking hate chilli. Anyway, let's live-blog Question Time! I love Question Time, one of my favourite shows. Tonight, it's...oh no, no, surely not...not Shami. No, please, no. Wait, it is. Shami Chakrabarti, my arch nemesis. And wait, what's this! It's a students special. Oh dear god, this is not good. I would like to apologise right now for my swearing.

22:42 There is a student on the panel, who won the right to appear. Good on her, let's hope she speaks sense.

22:43 "Have the media gone too far?" Yes. Next question. And even though he won't be charged with anything, would just like to point out that, in my opinion, Andy Coulson is a fucking shit.

22:45 David Bumblebee is wearing his spider tie! Highlight of the night so far.

22:48 So far we've had "bankers" and "expenses" mentioned. C'mon "illegal war" to complete the trifecta!

22:54 Stuff about university. BORING! Get crazy, and get crazy quick!

22:55 Sarah Teather looks odd. Weirdly cute, but odd.

22:56 Someone with a lip ring does not deserve an opinion.

22:57 I'll admit, I'm cheating a bit. I'm following an internet forum whilst watching the show, in case they make any good jokes and I can steal them. Someone's just put this about Shami: "Effortlessly tedious, Shami specialises in piety, outrage and moral indignation."

22:59 Amusingly, that forum has just crashed.

23:01 "Was Nick Clegg justified in saying soldiers lifes are being thrown away in Afghanistan?" No, he wasn't. Next?

23:05 I've just realised that Sarah Teather was on the panel when I went to watch Question Time being filmed. No, really, I did. I sat there in a supressed rage. Thankfully the calming presense of Will Self stopped me shouting.

23:08 Oh my god, a ginger person has gone mad. He is talking utter shit. The worst thing is, he's sitting next to a pretty girl. How did that happen? He's ginger, for God's sake. And he has literally no clue.

23:12 Sorry, this isn't a good live-blog tonight. I'm just so blinded by fury, mainly because I've never seen such a clusterfuck of socialists and liberals like I have in this audience.

23:13 A bloke with a lip ring certainly does not deserve an opinion. On anything.

23:14 Nerd student on the panel is tee-total. Didn't see that one coming. /sarcasm

23:16 "The reason youths like us drink is because there is nothing else to do". Someone has seriously just said that. I give up. And then she clapped herself!

23:17 Haha, that girl just got massively pwned - "There are other things you can do, like pick up a book!" Highlight of the night.

23:20 This is all so boring. I can tell I'm getting more Conservative as I get older - if I want to binge drink, that is my choice as an adult, and I do not wish for the Government to recommend/advise me in any way. The less Government intervention in my life, the better. Things like "20p a pint night" or supermarkets flogging alcohol really cheaply isn't helping, I agree. But when you are at the legal age to drink alcohol, you are an adult. You should be responsible for your own life. Make your own decision about how much you drink.

23:25 Oh God, some question about freedom, or liberties, or something. Shami is going to be like a pig in shit here. Dull, dull, dull.

23:31 Dull, dull, dull.

23:35 It's over. My god, that was awful. I'm now actually angrier than I was an hour ago. Just before I go to bed, let's have a quick look at the papers, see if there's anything to cheer me up!

Fuck off, all of you.

Female of the Species

I'm about to go into Wellington, to buy a few things from WH Smiths. No doubt I'll come back with those items, and swine flu, but it's worth the risk. Just before I do pop out though, some thoughts on female jealously.

What is that all about?! Seriously. I thought it was just my mother, but I see more and more evidence of it the older I get. Is it because women are somehow threatened by attractive women? That may be the case with women that are around their husbands/partners, but is there any need for it when it comes to celebrities? Maybe it's caused by women's magazines (the literature of hell, btw) which intimidate and brainwash women into looking as slim as possible. I just think it's pathetic - know any blokes who hate George Clooney, or Brad Pitt, or Johnny Depp because they're good-looking? It's clearly a female thing only, but it doesn't make much sense to me. But then again, neither do women in general.

I'm prompted to blog about this after reading a blog that rounded up some thoughts from media people about a Serbian tennis player. Let's look at the evidence:

Jon from - "Nice to see Ana Ivanovic get back to winning. Nothing earth-shattering but a 2nd week in a Slam is a step forward."

Matt from - "Ivanovic appears more determined to start putting up huge results again..."

Stephanie from The Gazette - "But she's in trouble...It's totally mental...Ivanovic has already dumped her new coach...The Serb is panicking...And her body, not a very athletic one...

Full excerpts are in that link. Sheee-esh, Stephanie from The Gazette! Jealous much? So, just to clarify, a professional tennis player (who was World No.1) and was recently voted the 11th sexiest woman in the world, does not have an athletic body. Right.

Ladies, some women are attractive. Deal with it. And now I'm off to town, braving the germs! (And that's just the people in the market)

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Seriously, I don't like cricket...

I can't sleep. Not because I'm too hot, but because I'm excited.

Excited about something I can't even watch - the best I can do is follow video scorecards online and the splendid Test Match Special. Yes, folks, later on today The Ashes 2009 gets underway. The last time the contest was staged over here, well, it wasn't too shabby:

So many incredible memories come flooding back watching that video. The catch by Strauss. Freddie's magical over. The ending to "the greatest Test". Harmy's slow ball to Clarke. Ponting being run out by sub-fielder Gary Pratt. That picture of Freddie and Brett Lee. Warne "dropping the Ashes" at the Oval.

But my main memory from that series isn't in that video, and I can't find it elsewhere either. The great Richie Benaud had already announced that the 5th and final test at The Oval would be his last commentating stint in England, and as his final session of the day came to a close, he began his last goodbyes. I remember sitting on my sofa and turning up the TV volume, knowing I was watching/listening to a small bit of sporting history. And then just as Richie had effectively said his farewell, Glenn McGrath clean bowled Kevin Pietersen. With a score of 158, KP had taken the game well and truly away from the Aussies, and The Ashes were sealed. It was such a poetic moment - here was a great broadcaster leaving us for the final time, and the man who had guided us to the victory was leaving the field and the series at exactly the same moment. A memorable and awesome moment, to highlight a memorable and awesome sporting contest.

And so, to The Ashes 2009. Can England win? Sure. To be honest, I'm finding it very, very difficult to call a winner. England are at home, the Australians are not what they were. They have Brett Lee injured for the first Test. Yet you look at the way England played in the Caribbean...they play like that again, they don't stand a chance. But this is England, this is now, and I'm plumping for The Ashes to return to these shores, once again a scoreline of 2-1.

And now I need to sleep, otherwise I'll miss all of the play tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Der's more to Oireland...dan dis!

Just a quick thing for you all whilst I delete/organise/declutter my bookmarks, internet favourites and just my computer documents in general. Any proofreaders in the Mayo area - you're hired!

Monday, 6 July 2009

The Bruno di Gradi Fanclub

The other night, people of my age were out and about. Socialising, drinking, druging (that one doesn't fit, admittedly), shagging and vomiting. I however was listening to Priscilla Ahn and chatting to Merciless Public about our favourite television shows when we were wee (alliteration!) bairns. Such is life.

"But what were your favourite TV shows when you were a child, Ewar?"

Well, thanks for asking! I think the important thing here is to split my childhood into parts.

The first part is "The Broom Cupboard" era, the pre-school/early days stuff. I'm afraid it's all a bit boring, really : Postman Pat, Thomas the Tank Engine, Rainbow, Mr Benn, Fireman Sam. All the classics. It was about that time that I had my very first stirrings with regard to women, and so I would like to take this moment and thank Philippa Forrester for setting me on my hetrosexual path through life.* Thank God it wasn't Andi Peters presenting that day.

I then went through the Gerry Anderson phase - Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, Joe 90, Fireball XL5, Stingray. After that, I was a bit older, and I began to watch some more classic stuff - Man from UNCLE, Randall and Hopkirk, The Saint, The Avengers. It's a sad state of affairs when a 10 year old lists Illya Kuryakin as one of his idols.

But, if pushed, what are my Top 3** childrens TV programmes? Well, after a bit of thought, here we go:

3) Knightmare Oh yes, what a show this was. In fact, it's a little unlucky to finish in 3rd place. Knightmare was just so ahead of it's time, and pretty much had everything in it that a boy could want in a TV programme. Victory was almost impossible, although sometimes that wasn't so surprising, considering the retards that took part sometimes. In that video, I love the way Treguard just openly laughs at them for being shit. That's one programme that needs to be brought back onto our screens.

2) Kenan and Kel I can't begin to tell you just how funny I found this when I was about 11. Kel's love of orange soda. Chris, the store manager. Kenan's father. Man, I loved that shit. Looking back on it now, it's awful American trash, but it's still strangely endearing. This was my favourite episode back in the day, and I have to admit the joke at 5:05 still makes me smile.

1) Renford Rejects Because it was on Nick, Renford Rejects is incredibly underrated amongst the youth of today. It was, without doubt, my favourite TV show as a young lad, and I still recall it often now - whenever I take part in Fantasy Football/Baseball, I nearly always call my team "Renford Rejects". There is nothing not to love here - a goalkeeper who wears a top with a Cantona quote on it. A striker who always wears a Hull City shirt. An English lad called Barry who pretends to be Italian and called Bruno di Gradi. The token cute girl. Priscilla, the cafe owner who you never see.

You want guest appearances? How about Jim Rosenthal, Bob Wilson, Franco Zola, Martin Keown, Shaka Hislop, Geoff Hurst, Gordon Banks, Harry Redknapp and more. The theme tune was by the Manics. The guy who played Eddie is now Taggart, for fucks sake. The guy who played Stewart was in Band of Brothers. Sure, it was a show about a rubbish football team, with lame jokes and poor acting. But it was also about friendship, about solidarity, about always giving it a go, no matter how bad you are. It was the perfect show for a football obsessive growing up, and if it was ever put onto DVD, I'd honestly buy them all the very next day.

Renford Rejects, I salute you! Now, what was YOUR favourite shows as a youngster?

* I still fancy her nowadays, to be honest.
** I've purposely not included The Simpsons, as it's still one of my favourite shows now, and is aimed at adults just as equally as kids.

A Monday Treat

This is turning into one of my favourite websites at the moment, and thought I would share it with you lot. Admittedly, it might only appeal to those of us who read Garfield as a kid:

Talking of which, a special "childrens TV" blog entry coming up later! ZOMG! Stay tuned!