Bits and Pieces

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Yeah, I'm Still Here

Sorry for not showing my face around here for a couple of weeks. Real life has occupied a lot of my attention recently. It's incredible how car ownership has affected my life. I'm left in a situation in which I gain two hours a day on a shorter commute, but lose that and more going places I wouldn't if I didn't have the car.

Tonight I spent with friends in a bar. I drank Coke all night and drove home, and am now sitting here at 2:30am watching Stuck On You and listening to the Stones. Apart from a severe caffeine hangover in the morning I'll feel fine. Before driving I'd stay at the bar until a more mobile friend could drive me home. This usually meant mainlining Grolsch and Scotch until 1am, and then losing Sunday in hangover land.

Anyway, life is outstandingly good right now. I hope it's the same for you guys (yeah, both of you). The sun is becoming more confident by the day, I'm earning a couple hundred more each month, women seem to be both more beautiful and more friendly towards me than usual. In short, a golden age.

By the way, I see that a lot of people are interested in Gmail accounts. I have two invites I'm not using, so if you want an account send me an e-mail and you can have one.

OK, I have little else to say right now. It's probably a good time to get some sleep. Night all.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Foul Ball Reagan

I happened on a heartwarming story last night in an old Bill Bryson book. It told of a young Ronald Reagan when he was working as a sportscaster for WHO out of Des Moines, Iowa. The station couldn't afford to send Reagan on the road with the team, so he would broadcast the game 'live' back in Des Moines, making up the action as he went along. Every inning or two he would receive a telegraph to update him on the game.

You can imagine the scene. A young "Dutch" Reagan waxes lyrical about a beautiful balmy Texas evening from a tin shack outside Des Moines. One time, the telegraph didn't come through. Desperate to fill the time and keep up the illusion of a live game, Reagan had the team bat foul balls for over half an hour until the telegraph finally came through.

Whether you agreed with his politics or not, you've got to respect a guy who has such a way with words that he can bluff his way through half an hour of foul balls.

Everyone's coming up with posts about Reagan, so I thought I should probably direct you towards some people who actually remember his presidency and, you know, live in America. Here and here. Take your pick.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

RIP Ronnie

Ronald Reagan has died. Being a young pup, he was a little before my time.

Born in 1911 in Tampico, Illinois, Reagan began his career as a radio sports announcer at the WHO radio station in Des Moines, Iowa. He later moved on to Hollywood, starring in over 50 films in two decades.

Reagan took office a few months before my birth in early 1981, and served two terms. That's about all I know about Ronnie. He seemed like a good guy, and he lasted a good few years longer than most. All that's left to do is raise a glass to the guy. Rest in peace, fella.

Saturday, June 05, 2004


I've been reading about that Michael Gunn character who was thrown out of university for plagiarism. At first, I took his side. They only told him he wouldn't pass at the end of his course, happily taking his money for three years. That's cruel.

But then, after thinking a little (you might have tried that, Michael) I started to get a little pissed off. University is serious business, son. We're not playing around anymore. When I failed the second year of my BSc, it cost me a year of my life and somewhere in the region of £8,000. No kidding. Serious consequences. So what if I'd cheated to up my grades? What if I'd trawled the Internet and passed off someone else's work as my own? Well, for starters I'd go through the rest of my life in the knowledge that I didn't earn my degree. I'd know that I didn't deserve the qualification.

During my four years at university my work was all my own. I didn't lie, cheat or steal to up my grades, and today I'm prouder than I would have been if I'd sailed through. I worked hard, and when that wasn't enough I damn well worked harder.

You got caught. Boohoo.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Are You Guys Still Here?

What a week. I picked up the car on Monday, only to have the timing belt break yesterday. Bugger 1. My brother left today for three months charity work in India, and he has less common sense than me (and that's really saying something). Knowing him he'll have his passport stolen, find himself caught up in a dastardly plot to end the world and contract a life threatening illness from contaminated water. All in the first day. I'm worried sick. Bugger 2.

I went to see The Day After Tomorrow yesterday with the family. It's not at all bad. Sure, it's a bad movie, but it's entertaining all the same. The problem was that we went to one of these sprawling out-of-town multi-screen cinemas, and watched the film in a tiny screening room with a screen the size of a credit card. Now I realise that at the age of 22 I have little grounds to get all nostalgic, but I remember going to the movies as a kid to local one-screen cinemas called the Palace and the Metro, all decked out in dark wood with ornate carvings, the carpets a deep red. There were balconies from which to drop popcorn onto the heads of those poor fools below. There was a smell - not a good smell, exactly, but a cinema smell. There was magic. A visit to the movies was a rare treat, birthdays and Christmas. Nowadays it's just a matter of hopping into a car, driving a few miles out of town, and sitting down in a sterile screening room in a cinema next to a bowling alley, McDonalds and assorted retail outlets. Where's the magic in that?

The cinemas of my youth have both closed in recent years. The first, the Palace, closed in 2002 after 90 years of business. The Metro, I believe, either closed last year or is open only occasionally. We have no choice but to go out-of-town. What a sad state of affairs.
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