Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Probably the worst playlist in the world... ever

Unplayable. Ever. Anywhere.

With the exception of Torn, which is a great song and will probably never recover from being put on that playlist, and a handful of guilty pleasures, that is torture. Oh my poor music. Poor genius having to match them. Poor server having to admit to them.

I'm not admitting to them:
The acquiring of all one week's top 40 albums was a unexpected windfall. Not getting rid of most of them was an epic fail.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

What I done readed

This list of books...

It's not going down. It is getting longer. It should be almost infinitely long because there are so many books I have to read.

Oh. And the ones I own. Hunners of them. Most of my books were in storage until last month, and that there list of books for me to read consists of the ones I had in my possession at the time of writing. So that includes one shelf of books I thought I would want to read in the time I naively thought it would take to sell the house-I-will-live-in-for-the-next-forty-years, plus the ones I have bought or borrowed since January 2008.

And then the others returned. Hunners of them. Which is about a third of the books I owned before the storage preparation;I threw out (or transferred to boxes at me ma's because I cannot bring myself throw out a book and haven't yet given very many to charity as planned) a large proportion of my precious books. But still, hunners left. And very impressive many of them are. I may be very badly read, but I own some damned impressive books. Admittedly a lot of the books I have read that aren't pure fluff are popular science, which aren't popular enough to make it onto Lists, but there's a lot of classics and really good books, ones that make the should-have-read category. Ones that people refer to. Ones that crop up in other fiction and conversation and general bookishness. I own good books. I just haven't read them. I was reading earlier about projected readership and how more than one person is expected to read any one copy of a publication. It does seem to be assumed that when a book is purchased that it is read by at least one person. Umm.

Oh poor, unopened books! You are not unloved, I just haven't got to you yet. It may have been ten years, but I will get to you some day. Probably. And just because I gave up after a chapter or eight, doesn't mean a thing. I am currently reading a Terry Pratchett which is marvellous and I can never manage more than a page at a time (although I am in a state of permanent sedation and discomfort at present, I am relatively excused) so there's little hope for the less-than-marvellous. I haven't read some of the marvellous, Mr Fforde and Ms McDermid have unread tomes on those shelves. Andrew Collins' books: I only managed about a third of the first one before I got utterly depressed at the cheerful normalness of it. I don't know why I stopped reading 'Bye Bye Balham' by Richard Herring, it was really good. I think I had a moment of "must have escapism, don't want REAL, god, real life sucks" and accidentally bought my first Terry Pratchett. Which is unfair on any book. Ditto Patricia Wood's 'Lottery' - very good, very thought provoking... oh that was it. Made me think about things that made me sad. Which is quite probably the point, I'm a wimp.

I am also getting repetitive as I have typed most of that before. Yawn. Sorry. Sedated and senile.

So, for the ones I have read, a summary:

Mort, by Terry Pratchett: one of the best books I have read, as already detailed.

Shakespeare, by Bill Bryson: this was wonderful. Bryson writes magnificently, he uses words brilliantly and the whole book was fascinating. Being Scottish, English history is kept somewhat of a mystery. And there was more to Elizabeth I than murdering our Queen. Who'd have thunk it? Compelling, fascinating, brilliant. I learned about 40 new words reading this, huzzah for being able to instantly define words.

- aside, I have Stanza, an ebook reader for my phone, and it does this (word lookup) by simply clicking on the word. Just like that! Amazing! What was I talking about...? books? Oh yes.

A Perfect Match by Jane Moore: This was a good book, well written, good story. But nothing remarkable, nothing to make it remarkable. (Remarks she). Story is of a couple who have a sickly child, whose only cure is by a designer baby chosen to match his DNA. First child: not the father's, so the mother has to have another child by the man she had a one night stand with - a top politician. As you do. So, much scope for moral dilemma, which is presumably why this was chosen for Tesco Book Club. But as I say, didn't leave a mark.

Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison: Oh dear. I am a bit ashamed of this. I read this book because of a comment that piqued my curiosity. And then I proceeded to read the entire rest of the series. Yes, I did. It's aimed at teenagers. My 11 year old niece is also reading them just now. They are undoubtedly amusing and a nice diversion for a couple of hours, but they're not aimed at me, I don't know what I'm doing reading them. It is the diary of a 14 year old spoilt brat of a girl who talks about the boys she fancies and not a lot else. As did I at 14 (I now restrict that to 75% of my conversation). I'm not 14 any more. Oh, so what? Fun diversion. I'm not ashamed. I'm proud to embrace my inner teenager.

The Truth About Melody Browne by Lisa Jewell: I like Lisa Jewell, I've read all of her books and I have enjoyed them all. I enjoyed this. The story of this is about a girl who gets hypnotised and starts to regain her lost memories, she had previously remembered nothing prior to being 9. And she had quite a traumatic life, it's pretty interesting and Melody herself is pretty likeable. Quite moving, but I am afraid to say I finished it and put it straight onto the "try to sell if possible" pile.

Queen of Babble gets Hitched by Meg Cabot: Another one to display my maturity and literary achievement. Meg Cabot wrote the Princess Diaries and various other children's books. She has written a number of frothy and enjoyable books for adults and this is the third in the series about a girl who talks herself into trouble. I've read the other two and so I had to read this. Another quick, easy read with an immensely likeable heroine (a lot like Sophie Kinsella's shopaholic; she gets into strife by being impetuous and a bit dopey on occasion, but comes good in the end by being generally a good sort. Nothing like life, but smile inducing). Enjoyed.

Brain currently unstretched at all, braincells are dying off from lack of use as I type...

Secrets by Freya North: This is pink, girlie and undemanding, and I DON'T CARE!!! I love Freya North. I do. I've read all of her books, in order, as they came out, and I've loved them all. Some more than others, but I like all of her heroines (Fen's my favourite) and I am completely in love with each the men that capture her heroines' hearts. Her novels are set amongst settings close to the author's heart, and as such, the reader loves it too by the end. Cat's love for the Tour de France gave me an insight and interest into a sport I'd never looked at before. Fen's world of art history, Chloe's Cornwall, and the Saltburn of this book all stand out and become real. Reviews for her books say that she has matured, and she has, but that's not to say the early ones are immature. They're just different. Frothier. This latest book is intriguing, it is about a young single mother who arrives to housesit for a fascinating bridge builder. Their stories are slowly revealed as the young mum finds a life for herself in a northern seaside town. It's a really, really good read. This is my least favourite heroine, she's a bit perfect, but she's still interesting and likeable and has had the decency to have made a few mistakes along the way. There is an interview and all manner of notes at the back by the author which is fabulous to read while experiencing the momentary loss of the characters of the book, an emptiness on realising there is no more story to come. All fiction should leave you feeling like that.

My brain has still not been stretched.

The Life and Soul of the Party: This is chick lit by a bloke. It's nothing major, it's well written and the author is very good at characterisation, but it's just a book. It's a year in the life of 6 friends. It's mostly sad, it doesn't end well, but it's a good enough read.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi: This is fabulous. I was given this by a friend and I am very glad. It's the story of a girl growing up in Iran, about the revolution and the war, written entirely in cartoon format. Fascinating, thought provoking and clever... and I've lost it. I think I've subconsciously hidden it because I had to use my brain. Sigh.

All You Need is Love by Carole Matthews: I hated this. I have no idea why I finished it. It's diabolically bad. I've read Carole Matthews' books before and enjoyed them, I'm sure, but this is awful. The protaginist is prissy, goodly, annoying and unlikeable. Flawless, a perfect citizen, never done anything wrong, yada, yada. She has a son of ten, born when she was 17, (but that was an dodgy condom, naturally, she would never have intentionally taken such a risk) and she's a model mother. In a sink estate in Liverpool, which is reiterated every paragraph or so. She has a handsome, kind, funny, generally brilliant ex boyfriend who she has dumped for being unambitious, but because she's so damned perfect, he remains in love with her and is around being generally supportive and great all the time. She meets Mr Rich, Perfect and Jawdroppingly Handsome and, obviously, he falls madly in love with her. She is uneasy about it, because even though she's perfect, she struggles to fit in with his lifestyle, being from the afore-oft-mentioned sink estate. Meantime she gets the council to give her some massive grant to help tidy up the estate and her sheer perfection and general greatness mean that people from the council turn up to join in the work, because they thought they might like help, and the hoodies discover that they love gardening and they don't need to vandalise things any more. Just in case things weren't splendid enough for everyone, Superwoman (she does actually refer to herself as that)'s son steals the ex-boyfriend's paintings and gives them to the Tate Liverpool, who adore them, buy them, and secure a massive commission for the ex boyfriend. Superwoman meantime turns down Mr RPJ-H's marriage proposal because she doesn't want to leave her beloved estate. No, to be fair, she doesn't think it's right for her son. He's better on the estate where he's loved than with lots of money and a stepfather than doesn't relate well to a child he doesn't know. Or something.
There must be a humour to this, it must be something that I'm completely missing. There must be, it must just be my decaying brain, it must be an Ben Elton-esque parody on these type of book... or this is the one of the worst books ever written.

And now I am ignoring all the books I own and am reading Sourcery by Terry Pratchett. One page per sitting...

Monday, 25 May 2009


I may have mentioned previously that I got an iPhone and I'm rather fond of it.

The one bugbear I HAD with it was iTunes. It's a bit temperamental, it loses songs occasionally, which may be the fault of the server they live on, it may be a Windows thing. I know not. I shout at it relatively often. It takes forever and a day to get all the music nicely imported and matched up with album art and the gapless playback thing done (I never listen to albums in order: why can't I turn it off?). It has moments of being rather slow. I don't like to think about what they can know about me. It worries me. The final straw came when I realised the suicide of my computer meant I had completely lost some purchased music.

So I sent an email, expecting some corportate regurgitation of the rules regarding downloads and how it was my own stupid fault for not backing up.


Almost immediately, I receive an email from John at Customer Services. Very polite, very apologetic, offering me credits to rebuy the songs in question, plus an extra credit. Niggly problem I'd moaned about, fixed. And the following day - I still don't get on the PC much - a follow up email to see if all was ok. It is indeed ok. I have just been wished a nice evening from John after a number of "thank you", "no, thank YOU" emails. How very nice. How very unusual.

iTunes: I love you. Even if you only have an acoustic version of Live it Up.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Stuck on a ponder

What I would talk about if I had more time:

1) the definition of normal and why people assume that to label one thing "the norm" is labelling those that do not adhere to the norm "abnormal", and that by doing so it is belittling and cruel. I Justify Fullmay expand on this later.

I can't go into detail about this or I wouldn't have time to go back to:

2) Religion (Christianity, to be precise, for no reason other than that's the one I've been assigned to by birth, baptism and education) and what it's all about. I'm on a quest. Not to find faith, but to try to understand how people who are clearly not stupid can take something that is prescriptive and exact and say "so that clearly isn't so, nor is that, but I believe in the basis behind it all". I can't comprehend that, not because I wish to force my non-belief on the religious, nor assert my superior questioning skills, but because it doesn't make sense to me. How can people "just believe"? I'm also curious how people that believe they are following God's path can reconcile tragedy.

My quest, incidentally, makes no sense to anyone. Tne religious take offence, they assume I am mocking; the fundamental atheists reiterate that "it's all rubbish, there is nothing to find out, some (stupid) people "just believe"". And everyone in between wonders why I don't just accept that some people do and some people don't.

I admire Richard Dawkins greatly for his ability to state his point, The Selfish Gene is a wonderful book. However his assertions are cruel on the subject of religion, he shows a lack of compassion for those who have presumably thought a great deal about why they do what they do, and it aims to take away something that forms a structure for people's lives. Really, it doesn't matter if people want to believe in God, it doesn't actually harm them or anyone else (as long as they don't force it on people - as they shouldn't have their belief forced away from them).

I have changed my tune on this, I was firmly in the Dawkins camp at one stage until I realised how offensive it was, how insensitive I was being.

So, some reading matter:
Richard Dawkins - the atheist.
(Not joined by Christopher Hitchens because he does seem to take it too far. Dawkins does argue beautifully).
John Humphreys - the confused.
I have been promising to read both of these, quite possibly for this very purpose, and more than likely here.
The bible, if I can stomach it. It's on my phone. I'm on Genesis 4.3 after a month.
And a book I found in the library entitled "The Dawkins Delusion".

I'll see where I go after that. Nowhere fast probably. I'll ponder on.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Ashes to Ashes

I love Ashes to Ashes. I accept that it isn't as good or as clever as Life on Mars (which was tarnished by the ending anyway) but I love it. Being the age I was, I thought everything grown ups did was marvellous and Alex Drake is exactly how I wanted to grow up. I have a massive girlcrush on Alex Drake.

So. Obsessed.

Current theory on ending

Hospitalised person at start of series 2 is patently not Alex Drake, the nurses are talking about her not being found.
I reckon that it's Sam Tyler, his awakening, suicide and what not, as well as the whole Alex Drake story are part of his coma dream. He will awaken at the end of this series.

But, Alex Drake is real, he is hearing all the "we've got her" stuff from medics, the news footage is real, and when he awakens, she is there in the hospital, also awoken from a coma. Confused recognition on both parts in a Sliding Doors moment.

I fear we are meant to think it's Sam Tyler.

Or, it's an old Gene Hunt in the bed and the Tyler/Drake characters could be real from his "future".

Well, episode 3's on in a few minutes, which will undoubtedly blow this theory to smithereens. Ho la.

Saturday, 2 May 2009


Pet peeves of the month:

1) drama series that have the "flashback" episode. There's about ten minutes worth of back story, essentially it's a filler, a non episode, a waste of my watching time

2) smarties: what have they done? I liked the artificial colours and flavours. They taste weird. The purple ones taste purple!!! Which, as everyone knows is poisonous. Green is weird. Pink is weird. Blue is weird. Yellow is lemon, which does not go with chocolate. Orange is orange, fair enough, brown is chocolate.
Ingredients: safflower, radish (radish?????), black carrot (carrots go black when they are off. Silly people), hibiscus, red cabbage (may explain the ugh vile bleg taste of the purple) and lemon. Orange oil is listed seperately. Because it's normal and not freaky weaky.

3) drama series that copy things from classic films, badly.

4) being British. What a purple country to belong to. Climate's good and it's nice to be free and all that, but it's just rubbish. Even if I left, I still have to lug my Britishness with me.

5) having to put a stamp on preprinted envelopes to the Student Loan Company. You only write to them if either:
a) you want to borrow money from them
b) you want to defer payment back to them

Both situations mean you're skint. So why do you have to pay for your own stamp? Grr.

6) parenting advice. If it is wanted, it will be sought. It's rarely wanted. Social Services will pitch in if I get it too wrong, otherwise we'll just muddle on.

Friday, 1 May 2009

And in the world of nothing...

The neck don't work, this is brought to you by the wonder that is iPhone. So, I can only make mistakes in the first window worth or I can't edit it!

I received an email yesterday telling me that Psychologies magazine is moving from April Green into May Wellbeing. Gliding actually, not simply moving. This has been buzzing around my mind annoyingly, it doesn't immediately make sense.

Green is not a state of being
Wellbeing is not a colour.

But what if they were?

What sort of mood would green be? Would green be happy and healthy and successful? It's presumably the opposite of wellbeing, so was April particularly sickly? (yes, how did they know)
Things I associate with green:

Plants. Today, specifically, moss, but I'm guessing that's NOT what they meant.

Um. That's about it.

Maybe they mean a sort of khaki, vomity green? That makes more sense.

So. The other side of it. Wellbeing as a colour. I'm seeing yellow or pink. Sunshine yellow and candy pink, I hasten to add. And the word "wellbeing" conjures up an image of some white toothed Beautiful Person leaping for joy, grinning with sheer joyfulness and innate wellbeingness. You know. The sort that make you want to be a bit sick. If the new magazine's out yet, I've not seen it and I'm getting a bad feeling about the cover. Please no. Please. The only thing more offputting on a cover is Keira Knightley with "that" expression - the punchable one - smirking out at you. Ugh.

Nope. I don't know what they mean. I could read the link. I'll be buying the magazine, maybe all will become clear. Meantime I could just ponder mindlessly, bordering on scathingly. That's always fun.

Maybe wellbeing's always been a colour. No one tells me anything.

The other trembling excitment in my inbox, which held me in suspense for a whole day, was from Boots. They have brought out a better serum! Yes, really! Protect and Perfect Serum, the one that makes you look like Keeley Hawes, is now available in Intense! It works better than a placebo apparently.
Yes, I'm that excited too. I was hoping for a change in packaging, but this! A new variant! It's astounding.

In other news: Dabs are selling cheap stuff, the Motley Fool are giving endless "advice", mostly about which credit card they (probably) get money for recommending, and Firebox are selling weird things. It's edge of the chair stuff.

Disclaimer: I don't get out much.