Thursday, December 29, 2005
My penchant for low-brow entertainment was given a treat over the past few days. While pre-Christmas browsing on Amazon, I located a double DVD containing both of The Sweeney movies for the bargain price of $14. So I settled down in front of the television with a nice single malt (well several, actually) and transported myself back 30 years to the era of flared trousers, kipper ties and autmotive icons like the Austin Princess (which makes the AMC Pacer look like a Rolls Royce). Now for those of you not resident in the UK or simply too young, The Sweeney was a wonderful TV cop series that really changed the shape of the genre. Its two lead characters "Regan" and "Carter" were played by the late great John Thaw and Dennis Waterman respectively (curious that the these characters' names were of American Presidents but as neither were elected before the start of the series this has to be a coincidence). The hallmark of this wildly popular programme as well as the two spin-out movies was a gritty realism that was carried by a gloriously pithy script by Troy Kennedy-Martin (yes he of the original Italian Job) -all fags, slags, blags and shags. For the time the violence, bad language and sexual content was quite shocking. American offerings of the period such as Starsky and Hutch couldn't come close. Unfortunately political correcteness has ensured that we'll never see the like of this material again. Oh, well...
Postscript. On re-reading this post I thought I'd add a glossary of some English slang words found in The Sweeney to aid comprehension by non-British readers. So from the Mad Dog Dictionary I offer the following definitions:
Fag = Cigarette.
Blag = Armed robbery.
Slag = Low class individual of either sex, likely to be a criminal.
Shag = Oh come on, you've all seen Austin Powers by now!
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Somehow this seems a bit sad but the original Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project ceased to give out work units just before Christmas. This little screen saver had been chugging away on all the computers I owned or had influence over since August 1999 looking for signs of space aliens. It was the first time I has come across distributed computing and back then seemed like a great project for the New Millenium. I don't think I found ET although several IT helpdesk people seemed to find the churning multi-colour graphs visually annoying and technically(from the standpoint of my computer) quite dubious. Personally I liked the graphics and miss the perpetually ongoing calculations. Now I'm not sure what I'm going to do for a screensaver. I'm not going to install the Son-of-SETI, otherwise known as BOINC as it looks very prosaic and appears to be a mish-mash of worthy but dull projects that don't inspire. And in any case I don't feel inclined to help in the rational design of a blockbuster drug without the promise of a share in the royalties!
If anybody has any suggestions for an interesting replacement screensaver (and not that wretched aquarium thing) please let me know...
PS Note the name of my account on the SETI screen shows an email address that ceased to be functional in 2001: please don't write to me there!
Monday, December 26, 2005
Boxing Day is the time to break out the fruit cake (as if I needed any more food). This one I baked myself. I use my Mother's recipe. It's quite foolproof and the cake is invariably delicious although has the density of a black hole -you know, super dense matter collapsed around its own weight. Yum! Tomorrow I'd better get back to the gym...
Sunday, December 25, 2005
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Oh goodness, tis the night before Christmas and I've finally got time to blog. I'm really sorry everbody but the pre-holiday period has been very stressful and work has been relentless so there's been little time for writing. Still deadlines have been met, the house has been decorated, presents have been bought and wrapped and I'm finally in a position to sit down with a glass of wine and relax a bit. Indeed I'm feeling quite festive. Handel's Messiah is being give its annual airing and the house if full of cooking smells. All very pleasant and soothing after a rather bruisng year. Even the cats seem more jolly than usual. So in the true holiday spirit I've hung out my stocking in the hope that Santa might drop something in it. I gather from the best brains in the country (indeed rocket scientists) at NORAD that he's been sighted nearby...
Friday, December 09, 2005
Unfortunately this is another obituary. Britons everywhere are mourning the passing of the iconic doubledecker Routemaster bus which is being superseded by much more practical but quite charmless and decidely foreign-looking articulated things. That's progress I suppose. I'd no idea there were so many bus anoraks, though.
First Round Draw Results
Trinidad & Tobago
Well, no Group of Death here! This must be the easiest first round for decades. Will Sven's boys proceed beyond this? (I hope so but am not very convinced; recent performances seem to be lacking). But things could be much worse and I'm remaining optimistic...