Monday, March 26

Two weeks to go

That's right folks, it's only two weeks until the must-own title for the XBox 360 (in my humble opinion anyway) hits the stores: "Guitar Hero II". Thanks to birthday vouchers, I have this on pre-order from amazon.

The waiting is made even more difficult thanks to this glowing review that is one of the first to hit the internet. To summerise the review briefly, it states: "I will simply say that Guitar Hero II is a game that everyone needs to own. Now, if you want further proof of this then please continue to read. Otherwise do whatever you can in order to get this game as soon as you possibly can. It really is that good."

I cannot wait..
I cannot wait to play some of the great tracks in this game either, particularly "The Trooper" by Iron Maiden. To get me in the mood, I'll be tuning into More4 this week as their "Live from Abbey Road"" show on Friday features the (admittedly aging) metallers blasting out a few old faves..

Yes, folks, metal is back - this time in HD

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Sunday, March 25

Time Marches..

So the clocks went forward last night.
Lord know's why we still do this, but we do and now the kids are cranky because they're body clocks are telling them that we're putting them to bed an hour early.

Just who the hell decided that the clocks should go forward at one in the morning?
I have an alternate proposition. If they do indeed have to go forward, the clocks should go forward at say midday on a Friday, thus trimming an hour off the crappy Friday afternoon at work and bringing on the weekend sixty minutes sooner. The clocks could go back at about 10pm on a Saturday meaning Saturday lasts an extra hour (brilliant if you're out and about and even if you're at home cos the weekend would last longer).

Who's with me?

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Wednesday, March 21

You can stick your fucking Mozart up your arse (five ways)

People used to smile and nod at me when I would tell them that Kirstyn loved the music on the Kerrang! channel. They used to inwardly, I'm sure, think "poor child" when I used to say that my daughter was always happier when listening to the Foo Fighters, or Guns N Roses or Metallica.

But, now thanks to Sky News, it seems that her love of metal from an early age will aid her in being a super genius, and therefore have the ability to financially look after her poor old dad long into his retirement.

You see, Sky Report that:
"Many parents may regard it as a deafening din, but liking heavy metal may be a sign of intelligence in youngsters.

New research suggests clever teenagers listen to it as a way of coping with the pressures of being talented.

A study of 1000 of the country's brightest adolescents revealed "metalheads" are often extremely bright.

"There is a perception of gifted and talented students as being into classical music and spending a lot of time reading," Stuart Cadwallader, from Warwick University, said.

"There is literature that links heavy metal to poor academic performance and delinquency, but we found a group that contradicts that.

"We are looking at a group with lower than average self-esteem that does not feel quite so well adjusted.

"They feel more stressed out and turn to heavy metal as a way of relieving that stress."

The study revealed those who enjoyed heavy metal often had more difficuilties in their relationships with family and friends.

One of those questioned in the survey said: "It's the general thrashiness of it.

"You can't really jump your anger into the floor and listen to your music at the same time with other types of music."

Being brainy is not limited to the music's fans though.

Iron Maiden's lead singer, Bruce Dickinson, is a history graduate as well as being a novelist and qualified commercial pilot.

The survey involved 1,057 members of the National Academy for Gifted and talented Youth."

* -thanks to Sean for the tip off!

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The Tax Man Cometh

So the race is on..

I have to get my car tax sorted before the fat bastard who lives next to Tony Blair announces his budget this afternoon. And I find myself having to make a mad dash to the post office to get this all sorted. Have I got a valid new-style MOT certificate? Yup. Have I got current insurance? Check. Hang on don't the DVLA offer the chance to purchase the tax disc online? Yes, yes they do. Indeed havn't you used the online service before, in the past? That's right, I have.

However for some reason, probably only known to the DVLA themselves, the online service will not process my appliacation (and I have tried this two days running now). No matter how many times I submit the reference number provided to me, and step through the stages on the website, can I get a tax disc? Can I fuck. The bastards. So I am forced to storm to the nearest post office and queue with the pensioners and the dole scum before fatty Brown puts the prices up. What a massive faff. If the online service wasn't available, this wouldn't bother me. If I'd not used the online service in the past then I doubt I'd be arsed. However it completely fucks me off when stuff just doesn't work when it should.


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Tuesday, March 20

A tough case to crack

From BBC News:

£70,000 Cadbury eggs lorry stolen

"A lorry containing Cadbury chocolate eggs worth an estimated £70,000 has been stolen in Staffordshire.
Three thieves tricked the driver, who had stopped in a lay-by on the A38 near Lichfield, by telling him the van was shedding its load.

When he got out of his cab to investigate, some of the thieves jumped in and made off with the eggs.

The lorry had been taking the eggs north after collecting them from the factory in Bournville, Birmingham.

The rest of the gang made off in a grey Subaru Impreza following the theft on Monday.

Police said one of the suspects is white, aged between 25 and 30, about 5ft 10ins tall and with short hair."

..and presumably no teeth and slightly saggy round the mid-section

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Well I finally managed to unlock one of the tougher achievements in the excellent XBox 360 game, "Dead Rising" last night. Yup, managed to get the Zombie Genocider which means that I despatched 53,594 of the shuffling, brain dead motherfuckers whilst still managing to complete the game in 72-hour mode, which is no mean feat let me tell you.

This does, however, mean that I am coming to the end of what I can do in this game which is a bit of a pity as it has definitely been one of the best titles I have ever played on any format. The game has certainly proven to have a really long shelf life, and certainly I feel as if I've got my money's worth out of the title.

There's still a few things I think I can realistically do but it cannot be long before, unfortunately, the game will be traded (most likely for the up and coming Forza Motorsport 2, which looks awesome). However it does continue to show how Next Gen gaming has certainly managed to hold my interest.

No doubt, with the release of the Playstation 3 this week, the spotlight will be back on NextGen consoles, with much debate about which one is the best, etc but I can certainly say that I am in no way disapppointed with my purchase decision. So let the debate rage on, I care not a jot, as long as there are a few more zombies left to despatch.

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Saturday, March 17

Tour "De Force"

So after much refreshing at two minutes to the hour, and after spending a king's ransom on tickets, I am finally going to see The Police live. The opportunity to do so looked all dead and buried a mere seven days ago when tickets for the first date in Manchester sold out before I could get my grubby mits on them, but this week I was prepared, determined and ready. So on Tuesday 16th October, me and my wife will be enjoying an evening with the recently reformed Police.

And you know, I'm really looking forward to it. Until today, I hadn't listened to albums like "Regatta De Blanc" and "Zenyetta Mondatta" (the latter always being my favourite album the band recorded, a view I still hold today) for years, mainly due to the fact that I have nothing to play my vinyl on anymore, and partially due to the fact that I never "got around" to buying a "Greatest Hits" compilation (mental, I know).

Aside from the obvious singles ("Walking on the Moon", "Message In A Bottle", "Don't Stand Too Close To Me"), album tracks like "On Any Other Day", "The Bed's Too Big Without You", "Driven to Tears" and "Voices Inside My Head" are just phenomenal. And whilst I don't hold out too much hope of hearing these live, it was good to revisit my youth (I was five or six when these albums were released) and also realise that these songs still sound fucking incredible thirty years on.

Roll on October, I cannot wait

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Thursday, March 15

Luck of the Draw

Every time you go to, or sit down to watch, a football match you'd like your team to win. As the legend that is Bill Shankly once said, “If you are first you are first. If you are second you are nothing.”. Nuff said. However I think that news today that the Football League board is to consider a proposal to scrap draws and decide matches by penalty shoot-outs (and not, just in finals you understand, in every game) can only be proposed by someone who completely missing the point of the game.

Yes, we have all seem some dull score and no-score draws. It's horrible when a team comes to your ground to play for a point (this strategy being preferred by some of the smaller teams, e.g. Everton). However there have been some phenomenal draws, real end to end stuff with both teams absolutely going for it and both keepers pulling out some fantastic saves.

This sort of proposal must be tabled by people who look at the results, not the match itself, and seeing 0 - 0 or a 1 - 1 must think "Blimey, what a boring game".

There are, apparently, two proposals that will be considered - a traditional penalty shoot-out or where a player would have eight seconds to try and score after receiving the ball on the half-way line.

Seriously, are they on smack?

If you're going to go down this route, then why don't we dispense with the whole ninety minutes of normal time altogether? You could get to the ground, find your seat, sit down and applaud politely as you watch both teams file onto the pitch. The two captains could then be taken to the centre circle and proceed to flip a coin. Best of three wins the game, and takes the three points. If you wanted to introduce some element of skill into it, I guess you could have the two captain's engage in a thrilling "winner-takes-all" spectacle of rock-paper-scissors. Then players of both teams can then shake hands politely, admit it was a tough fixture before scurrying back to the changing rooms for ten past three to do interviews before still having time to take the WAGs shopping before Harvey Nicks shuts.

I cannot believe this is even being discussed, and I'm hoping that the Football League board will simply laugh this suggestion out of the meeting.

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Wednesday, March 14

We Want Information, Information, Information*

And these days we get that information too.. and I wonder if sometimes that's taken all of the fun out of it all.

For example, this afternoon we were sat around discussing the sweets and drinks of our youth. I know what you're thinking: you fuckers discuss the weirdest shit during the working day and, you know what, yes we do! Anyway, I suddenly remembered that I used to really enjoy a drink called "Quatro". Now all we could recall from memory was that it had four fruit flavours in it, had a huge fucking Q on the label and had a really cool advert where all of these fruits were put into this machine that was labouring and steaming away (honestly, in my mind this machine was so fucking cool it could have been off the set of "Blade Runner", but if I could see it now I'd probably realise it was just lame), and then this can of Quatro shot out and this cyber-punk looking kid caught it. So we reminisced about this, and other drinks.

But we don't need to dredge these memories up anymore, not with the internet at our fingertips, no we simply type "Quatro" into Wikipedia and all our memories are confirmed and our questions are answered. I wonder if "Wiki"-ing or "Google"-ing (for they must surely both become verbs one day. Fuck it, if architect can any noun or brand name surely can apply for verb status) will one day completely replace recalling things from memory? Will we soon forget how to reminisce? And will all of our memories, currently softened and somehow given a rose tint by the years that have passed one day just be replaced with the ultra-sharp, Hi-Def results from the favourite search engine of the day.. Who knows?

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Classic Comedy..

We were recalling a very funny Harry Enfield sketch, this morning.. and, wouldn't you know it, it turned out that we could view it on YouTube!

Thought I'd share as it made me titter!

Women, Know Your Limits


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People keep on citing increased car ownership as a reason for heavier congestion on Britain's roads on motorways, however I think that this only goes partway to explain why we get three lanes of slow-moving traffic most days. In truth, I think a lot of motorists need to look at their own driving habits when it comes to congestion, particularly with regard to motorway driving. In short, they need to learn how to overtake.

All too often, people driving on motorways just seem to "pick a lane" and stick to it, regardless of what speed they seem to be travelling at and what the traffic is flowing like around them. And they sit in that lane, blissfully ignorant of the fact that you are only supposed to move one carriageway to the right when overtaking. Of course they never see the queue of traffic building up behind them, as they never, ever would consider looking in the mirrors as they're too busy operating their mobile phones or singing along to the "greatest hits of Westlife" or something. The bastards. This problem is brought home when you travel abroad. When I drove across France, you saw that French drivers will only stay in the overtaking lane for the exact amount of time that it takes to overtake the slower moving vehicle in front of them. As a result no-one get's irate as they're stuck behind some fuckwit who's speed matching the cars in the two lanes next to him. I'll admit that this requires the French driver to actually pay some attention to the road, to use his mirrors, to judge the speed of the cars in front and behind him, etc.. But wasn't everyone taught to do this when they learnt to drive a fucking car in the first place?

It seems that British drivers cannot be arsed with all that effort, I mean they already have to turn the wheely thing attached to the dashboard, press a pedal and locate the CD auto changer button - surely they're working hard enough as it it? No you're fucking not pal, get the fuck back into the inside carriageway where you can sing along to your boy band CD whilst barely doing the fucking speed limit out of my way, you inconsiderate twat.

Ahh well, I guess they're doing me a favour in the long run anyway, why I'm in such a hurry to get to work is beyond me. Especially as I seem to be stuck on the career motorway as it is, with the 16-wheeler truck of incompetant management in front of me blocking any real progress I might attempt to make, slowing my journey and generally frustrating me. Isn't it amazing how I'm blocked and frustrated in all aspects of working life (the journey and the destination). Maybe I should just slip on the CD, start singing along and ignore the queue behind me..


I'm sure this isn't what I signed up for..

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Tuesday, March 13

Brain Drain

Ugh! Cannot believe allergy season has begun this morning.. A sneezing fit in the outside lane of the motorway is not my idea of fun...


Anyhoo, my mother has been visiting us over the last few days before she returns to the sunnier shores of Spain. Whilst she has been with us, she has been lamenting the fact that, since retiring, she has been worried about the lack of mental stimulation now that she is no longer in the workplace. To go some way to combat this she shocked us all over the weekend by buying a Nintendo DS. Now, her main reason for getting one of these was to get her hands on the Brain Age game that you can get for the DS. According to the blurb, the game is a "fun, rewarding form of entertainment everyone can enjoy, as it helps players flex their mental muscles. Brain Age is inspired by the research of Dr. Ryuta Kawashima, a prominent Japanese neuroscientist. His studies evaluated the impact of performing certain reading and mathematic exercises to help stimulate the brain".

So, after charging the console, she fires up this game and amuses all of us by initially having a Brain Age (well, according to the game) in her 80's. However by "training" her brain (through mental arithmetic puzzles, memory games, and reading aloud) she has already begun to reduce that.

The shocking thing was when she encouraged me to finally have a go of this game. Now I might not have had my first game under the most ideal of conditions, I had had a mind numbingly crap day at work, it was getting on into the evening and I had consumed at least one glass of wine (and was well on the way to finishing my second). But I was certainly shocked to learn that my initial Brain Age was 58!! After a bit of training, and a lot of mental arithmetic, things were improving but still..

I was shocked!

I think the time has come to try and find a career that doesn't just destroy my neural responses as well as my self esteem, as I don't want to end up a cabbage in my later years. Still, at least Kirstyn still finds me amusing.

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Monday, March 12

Hot Fuzz indeed!

So finally got a babysitter Saturday night, so it was off to see the latest flick from Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright: Hot Fuzz!

For the uninitiated, the film revolves around top London cop, Police Constable Nicholas Angel, who finds himself reassigned to the sleepy West Country village of Sandford. With garden fetes and neighbourhood watch meetings replacing the action of the city, Angel struggles to adapt to his situation and finds himself partnered with Danny Butterman, an oafish but well meaning young Constable. Just as all seems lost, a series of grisly accidents motivates Angel into action. Convinced of foul play, Angel realises that Sandford may not be as idyllic as it seems.

Now, as anyone who knows me knows, Pegg/Wright can do no wrong in my eyes, I thought the two series of Spaced gave us possibly the finest British Sit Com ever. And Shaun of the Dead was one of the best British Comedy movies I have ever seen (and it had zombies, and I do like my zombies - hell I'm still playing Dead Rising), so I was looking forward to this immensely.

So did it disappoint?
No, not really. Whilst I don't think it was quite the laugh riot that "Shaun" was, Hot Fuzz was very funny as a homage to all of the buddy cop movies I've ever watched. If I had any sort of criticism it would be that the film takes slightly too long to get going and could have been about twenty minutes shorter. Saying that the shoot out village square and finale in the model village (complete with the moody shot in the rain (well, in this case, a sprinkler)) couldn't have been any more perfect.

Some genuine laugh out loud moments and still miles ahead of any other British Comedy in the cinema, Hot Fizz was well worth the wait..

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Saturday, March 10

Anything Wii Can Do, They Can Do Better..

So have been thinking about getting a new XBox game as I've practically exhausted "Gears of War" and "Dead Rising", but am not too keen on trading either quite yet as both are getting new content soon which will extend their shelf life somewhat.
However I did have some outstanding Amazon vouchers..

But I didn't just want another shooter, or another action adventure game..

I wanted something different..

Then I saw Guitar Hero II was coming to the XBox 360.. Featuring classic tracks like "The Trooper" by Iron Maiden, "Heart Shaped Box" by Nirvana and "Madhouse" by Anthrax and all played on a really cool looking guitar controller (stick that up yer arse, Nintendo!).

It might look a little daft, but I reckon it will be wicked, and it will Rock!

Ordered. Roll on the March 30th release date

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Wednesday, March 7

Dead Rising to get Co-Op Add-On?

I do hope this is true. I was considering trading this game (great as it is, I have finished it once, but somehow never seem to tire of smashing zombies), but this might change my mind.

"The latest edition of Electronic Gaming Monthly has suggested that Capcom will soon be releasing a co-op mode for it's mega-hit Dead Rising. If there's one thing that Dead Rising players collectively believe is missing from the game, it's the chance to smash zombies over the head with baseball bats, while your buddy let's rip with an SMG.

EGM says the new co-op mode will be available in two ways. First up is in the platinum edition of the game (presumably an Xbox 360 "Classics" title) and also by way of a download from the Xbox Live Marketplace.

Capcom have yet to comment on the rumours. "

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Tuesday, March 6


I see from BBC News (who, incidentally, must have loved writing this article), that ITV Play went off the air last night following a string of problems with the broadcaster's "interactive TV" services (i.e. where you phone in to vote for the outcome of a tv show, or participate in a quiz, etc).

Indeed, ITV has suspended all premium-rate phone-ins, interactive competitions and votes while independent auditors conduct a review of its programmes. Apparantly the problems have lead to X-Factor viewers who phoned to vote being overcharged £200,000 (although I personally see this as a perfectly acceptable "fuckwit tax" for watching that drivel in the first place).

ITV said its interactive services would return on a programme-by-programme basis, with each production facing scrutiny in the investigation. However, the ongoing investigation means that this weekend's semi-final of skating show "Dancing Om Ice" may not be shown if the phone-in procedures have not shown to be sound (mind you, this can only be a good thing and can only help to raise the IQ of the viewers who would otherwise sit comatose and dribbling in front of this televisiual excrement).

I want to know why they only pulled ITV play off the television? Apart from the occasional Champion's League match, ITV has to be the most intellectually devoid broadcaster who make programmes for the lowest common demoninator of viewer. Even viewers of five now look down on it (especially after they broadcast the excellent drama "Kitchen" starring Eddie Izzard last week).

So please (after tonight's Barca match) let's pull the plug on ITV. They waste several channels on my EPG that would be more interesting if they broadcast a test card 24/7.

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Monday, March 5

Ranting at call centres

After a day and a half trying to get through to their cancellation department finally allowed me to cancel my Virgin Media Broadband on Friday (formerly known, of course, as NTL and this is still evident from the unbelievably shoddy customer service), I thought I'd dealt with Virgin Media for the last time.

There was no need for further contact, we had parted company and I was more than happy getting my telly from Sky and my phone and broadband from PlusNet.

So imagine my delight when I got home to find a bill from the fuckers.
"Was it for the last month of broadband?" I hear you ask.

No, it wasn't for the final month of broadband.
That would be an expected and fair bill, which I would reasonably expect to get and would happily pay.

No.. this is was a telephone bill
For a line they never installed, and a number we've never used.

The bastards!

This all comes about from the utterly bodged installation attempt the installation simian from Virgin tried to do last month (I've included the link as I'm tired of explaining the whole debacle to various idiot call centre staff over the last month). In short, they were trying to bill me for a telephone line from a cancelled installation that had never had a phone attached to it and yet had somehow magically generated over £6 of call charges.

I'm afraid that after the bodged installation performed by the drunken monkey, the ruined account which wouldn't let me cancel despite not being installed, the non-existent call back to re-order V+ (glad I didn't seeing as they've gone and blummin' lost Sky One since then), and the 72 hours trying to cancel their broadband, I lost it and had a blummin' good rant at the bunch of incompetent nonces. A month of being on the end of shoddy customer support just spilled out in a one-sided tirade of telephone call centre bile.

In short, I finally, after speaking to a monkey manager got the account sorted and the money refunded..

However please listen when I say, friends and gentle readers,

Avoid Virgin Media like the fucking plague.
They wouldn't know customer service if it squatted above their heads, and proceeded to prolapse all over them

Right, rant over...

I thank you

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Sunny day

Blue skies and sun.
It almost made me want to get up and go to work!!

It's amazing though, what the weather can do to affect your initial mood on any given day. I mean if you peek out the curtains first thing and see the weather bucketing it down, the sky grey and heavily laden with thick clouds and the roads awash with rain water, it cetainly puts a dampner (no pun intended) on things before you've even left the house. However, this morning, I left the front door with a definite spring in my step (which had a little something to do with a new pair of trainers, I'll admit, but mostly it was all down to the weather).

And only a four day week too? Lovely..

Anyway, new week, new horizons, I feel uncommonly smiley.. watch somebody to proceed to bugger it all up now!!



Saturday, March 3

I don't want to talk about it

But we were mugged 87 minutes in today..


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Thursday, March 1


Boy did I pick a bad day to try and cancel my Virgin/NTL/Whatever broadband..

You see I'm now satisfied with my PlusNet Broadband (by jesus, it's quick.. and you can get through to Customer Service in like five minutes and the call centre is in the UK, and they seem to know what they're talking about) so I wanted to end my association with Virgin/NTL/Whatever.

However today is a very bad day to try and get through to the cancellation department at Virgin Media.


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