Architecture London's smallest new house? Sometimes great things come in tiny packages:
"We drew a horizontal line from the top of the hill to illustrate how the structure would not be out of scale within the area," Pawson says. "We explained what we were doing and the reasons behind it. We did not have to make any substantial changes." Since its completion, the uncompromising house has become a local celebrity, evoking positive reactions from most passers-by."
The structure of the building is only fifteen feet across. I hope the new owners aren't think of keeping cats. [Mefi]
News Oddly enough, Edwina Currie didn't turn up for her usual gig on Radio Five Live tonight, perhaps because under normal circumstances, her's would be the topic of conversation. Just in case you haven't heard, she and John Major had an affair during the late Eighties. If that image isn't messy enough, the funny thing is no one knew. James Ingram the Number Ten press secretary of the time has only just found out himself. Norma Major knew and has forgiven him but suddenly a whole era of British politics is in a new light.
Competition Still no takers. The questions are here. The prize is a CD. The questions aren't that hard. The CD is shiny. The address to send the answers to is
Abroad III I’ve always found the prospect of a hotel room a disappointing experience, especially in hotel chains. For me a place has to have a sense of presence, an impression of all that has gone before. To truly be a place to feel comfortable it has to be familiar. The only similarity I found at the Comfort Hotel in Paris was that it looked like every other room I’ve ever stayed in. This was probably the worst place I’ve stayed in. Some questions:

Why is the bathroom filled out completely with tiles including the floor, so that any water which flies there stays there. Why isn’t there a shower curtain, so that when I do want to have a shower I spend the entire time against the wall trying not to flood the rest of the bathroom. Why is the holder for the showerhead vertical to the wall so that I can’t actually stand underneath like I can at home? Why does the bath itself look like it was designed to accommodate dwarfs only?

Whose big idea was it to make the bed that way? So you fold the sheet so it covers the full length of the bed, under the pillows, and trap it under a woolen throw, covered again by another sheet. How am I supposed to get into this without wrecking the equilibrium of my sleep patterns? And when I do get in, why should I then spend the whole night trying to keep all but the bottom sheet on the bed? Further, does the maid have a really small head? I can assume this is the only reason there are two wafer thin pillows, which together only amount to half a real pillow, and require that I use all of my possessions to support my cranium for two nights?

Why is the restaurant located in a room which resembles a doctor’s surgery? Why are the hotel’s cleaning staff in here out numbering the guests, shouting a smoking? Why is that cigarette butt lying in an empty jam sachet? Why does the coffee actually taste alright? Why does the cornflakes have the consistency of old rice paper and with the skimmed milk taste like real cornflakes do with water after many pints of cider? Why are people eating them? How old are these croissants and pan du chocolate? Why did make me want to leave as quickly as possible? Why did I have breakfast in the Louvre the following day?

Why did I pay £48 per night for this?
History And finally, just because, 'Reader's Digest' interviews Rudy Giuliani.
Toy That will get you everywhere ...
TV Finally a positive review for Joss Weidon's non-Buffy show 'Firefly'. The original filmed pilot got a right drubbing in SFX magazine this month, but like the afformentioned vmpire sayer show, Joss got another crack at it and has apparently turning out another classic. 'Farscape' fans take heart, methadone is on the way.
Film Along the same lines, Sidekick magazine lists directors who should be more famous than they are (and the writer seems to be on first name terms with all of them ...) There isn't anyone here whose work I don't cherish, but I think to say that Soderbergh isn’t well known is stretching it – and the Coen brothers? Good, clean writing all the same and I would like to add Wes Anderson, Ang Lee, Stephen Friers and Lawrence Kasden to the list …
Film The original screenplay for 'Apocalypse Now' was the work of Conan director John Milius. A much more overtly gung-ho effort, it was closer to the vision of Joseph Conran's 'Hearts of Darkness'. But as this fascinating article from Creative Screenwriting points out, although he is hardly mentioned in conjunction with the film, and the making of film implies that Copolla wrote the thing on location, many of the classic scenes originated in Milius' first draft:
"(He) extends the introduction of the boat crew, but once Willard joins the boat, Milius's script resembles the film. The film's most famous sequence, the Air Cavalry invasion of the river head village, remains faithful to Milius's screenplay. This scene is Milius's best, violent, dark, absurd, and impossible to not watch. Surfing, Wagner, and a cavalry leader in a plumed hat constitute elements of the Milius pastiche. There is no other scene like it in Coppola films. Milius's most memorable dialogue makes it to the film—"Charlie don't surf!" and the "I love the smell of napalm in the morning" speech—but one line, which deserves attention, did not. As Lance and Colonel Kharnage watch two surfers attempt a ride during the attack, Lance says to himself, "The tragedy of this war is a dead surfer."
Watching Milius in the documentary 'Hearts of Darkness' I can always see a slight disappointment that he wasn't the general out in the reeds directing the action.
Commerce are having a DVD sale. Two for 12.99. 'nuff said.
Education Looking at The Dossier in pdf format why do I discover someone's degree dissertation? I was actually waiting for compelling evidence, and whilst this makes sober reading, I'm still on the fence. The reason being that unlike a dissertation there isn't a section detailing sources (a good 30% of the final mark). Listening to commentators on the day was published we found plenty of supposition but nothing to pin point how all of this was gathered. Also, the word 'conclusion' occurs only once. There are plenty of statements like:
"Subsequently, intelligence has become available from reliable sources which complements and adds to previous intelligence and confirms the JIC assessment that Iraq has chemical and biological weapons. The intelligence also shows that the Iraqi leadership has been discussing a number of issues related to these weapons. This intelligence covers:

Confirmation that chemical and biological weapons play an important role in Iraqi military thinking: intelligence shows that Saddam attaches great importance to the possession of chemical and biological weapons which he regards as being the basis for Iraqi regional power. He believes that respect for Iraq rests on its possession of these weapons and the missiles capable of delivering them.
It would be nice to know who the reliable sources are and what makes them reliable. We are told what the intelligence covers, but we aren't given specific instances. Let me put it this way. In film going terms what we have here is the equivalent of a friend telling you that the new Vin Diesel movie is a classic and you should go and see it but not actually telling you why. That's OK because it's just a film. It's £3.50 (or £7.50 in Paris). Here we are talking about going into war. Lives and governments are at stake. For that kind of thing there has to be some accountability and trust that when given the full truth the general public will be able to make a constructive choice. If we’re going to de-stabalise a whole area of the world I want to really know we're doing the right thing. I want to know that whoever's telling us to do this knows what they're talking about ... [Abode pdf reader here]
Abroad II Anyone who’s been reading for sometime will know that in most things I’m quite confident. I’ll head at it like a bull and usually work my way through somehow. So there I was standing a in Charles de Gaulle airport (not pretty) and realizing I have absolutely no idea what to do. I know I have to ring home to tell everyone I’ve arrived, but when I approach the phone it doesn’t look like anything I’ve ever seen before, with it’s slot and nothing else. Nowhere to put money. Nowhere to do anything. I put in my credit card. Nothing happens. Then the plane announcer says something I don’t understand and for the first time it dawned on me that I was in a different country.

A sign with a logo on it in the shape of a train was pointing in no particular direction so I decided to follow it. A crowd was heading that direction so I was more following them (hoping that they had the same idea as I did). I had instructions on how to get to the hotel so I decided that rather than deliberately getting lost I’d head there. The walk to the station was about ten minutes through some deep uninspiring concrete. Liverpool ‘John Lennon’ Airport (‘Above us only sky …’) at least has Speke Hall to look at. Here there’s a Prince Charles nightmare of a hotel and a motorway.

Somehow I manage to find myself to the information desk at the railway station. I look at the clerk. She looks back at me. Up until this point I’d been telling myself I would get by. I knew a little bit of French. I’d studied at school for three years afterall. As I stood here, the rest of the story fell into place. I’d been set four French. We’d studied almost nothing useful for two years and I hadn’t paid any attention because I had a crush on the teacher. Anything I might say in French would be just embarrassing.

The only part of me that I’m at all confident with – speaking – is suddenly gone. I hadn’t quite comprehended how alien everything would actually be. For thirty seconds, I’m a mute. I tap my forefinger on the counter. By now the clerk obviously thinks I’m a loony. Then I apologise for not being French.

‘I’m sorry, I’m English.’ No shit, she thinks. I don’t know that for sure but somethings you can tell in the eyes. ‘I just got here.’
‘Yes.’ She says.
'You speak English.’
To this moment I’m not sure if she was lying just so she could have some fun. But whatever’s happening I’m sinking. At the back of my mind I’m thinking ‘Three days like this?’
‘I’m here for three days. Do you have a travel pass or something?’ And so I entered the Roast Beef approach to foreign languages SHOUT LOUDER. I was everything I promised myself I wouldn’t be if I ever left my small island.
Without another word the clerk starts to madly rushing about her cubicle. I hear her mumble something about a leaflet. Eventually she actually growls and returns to her chair. She points.
I follow her pointing. The ticket office is right behind me. There are queues.
'Thank you.’ I mumble and draw away. As a turn, the person behind me in is boggling their eyes. I don’t blame them.

At the ticket counter it starts again. I don’t apologise for my nationality this time (I conclude that they’d all be speaking German if it was for us … just one of the irrational rationalities I’d make over the coming hours). I say I’ll be there for three days and before I can say anything else a travel pass is thrown over the counter. I throw back my credit card and thirtysomething Euros are charged. I didn’t care how much cost I just wanted to get away from the station. As I take the escalator to the platform I keep saying saying to myself, out loud, ‘oh hell what do I do now’ … ‘oh hell what do I do now’ …
Paris I had actually gone abroad before. To Germany when I was about eight. I was there for three days and I maintain this was the first time I saw ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ on a video from the local emporium. When I say this to people, they gasp, not actually recognizing that not everyone can afford to go abroad sometimes. I hadn’t even actually been on holiday alone for any kind of extended period. That overnighter to Southend, and three years at University, but I’m sure neither of those count. I’m talking about a-lone. Without a support network. In a completely alien environment. So I thought it was about time.

Two hours after I’d found about my new job (more later) I was in the travel shop booking a three day trip to Paris. I always said that this would be the first place I went to and it seemed logical. As usual it was related to something. I wanted to stand on the Eiffel Tower in the spot were Tom Baker and Lalla Ward recorded that iconic scene in the Doctor Who episode ‘City of Death’ (‘the thing about Paris is … it has a bouquet …’) and to see the Mona Lisa. Once I’d covered those, everything else would be a bonus. There is something liberating about going into a travel agent and saying that I want to go away in three days and just picking a hotel out of a hat. Everyone should try last minute once in a while. Yes it’s bound to be more expensive than if you’d planned ahead, but the look smile on the travel agent’s face when you simply sit there and say yes to everything was a picture.

I’d never flown before. Not because I was actually scared. I didn’t have any fear of it. It’s just another one of those things I’d never gotten around to. And another one I’m happy to say I can cross off the list. I liked the simplicity of ‘EasyJet’. Yes, it was just like traveling by train, but this was an even more pleasant experience. I wasn’t prepared for that rush as the plane roars up the runway and into the air. I we left the ground the only thing I could do was laugh. For moments I felt superhuman. I WAS FLYING! Looking down at the landscape I understood how the first balloonist must have felt when the land spread out before him. Patterns of colour and lines. So familiar, from the ground suddenly made no sense. And before I could and my bearings, the plane burst through another barrier and within moments the phrase ‘blanket of clouds’ finally resonated. I hadn’t realized that in the sky although the place must have been proceeding at some speed to stay in the air, the view of the window would be at almost a standstill. Only the usual baby crying broke the silence. And then quicker than it had begun, the plane voluntarily landed at Charles de Gaulle Airport and …. <>
Sport ‘The Guardian’ Best British Weblog competition crept up on me. I didn’t know it was happening, entered very late and wasn’t even actually posting during the time when the judges were, well judging. That said I am really pleased to see that the winner isn’t one of the usual suspects (they know who they are) and that one of my regular readers and a weblog I visit all of the time, LinkMachineGo won one of the five runners up prizes (hey Darren). Well deserved I’m sure. Good to see BlogJam in there as well. Also moonunits to see that I recognize many of the ‘blogs of note’ they offer as well – because they’ve been past ‘Blog!s’ here. I knew I was one the right track. Oh well, role on next year …
Quiz! In an idle moment at work the other day I threw together this film quiz. I'll set a closing date for the end of the month. The prize is a copy of the 'feeling listless' soundtrack album. I'll pull a name out of the hat if anyone has the same score....

Odd One Out

Erm, which is the odd one out?

(1) "An American President", "Wall Street", "Hot Shots Part Deux"
(2) "Star Trek VI", "Austin Power I", "Superman II"
(3) "Mystic Pizza", "Hook", "Ocean's Eleven"
(4) "The Sixth Sense", "This is Spinal Tap", "The Usual Suspects", "Jerry Maguire"
(5) "She's All That", "Children of the Corn III", "My Stepmother is an Alien", "Can't Hardly Wait"
(6) "Coming to America", "Scream 3", "Out of Sight", "Hannibal"
(7) "Mallrats", "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom", "The Empire Strikes Back"
(8) "Sliding Doors", "Shakespeare in Love", "Seven", "Emma"

All of the following have two answers. A point for each:

(9) "Sixteen Candles", "Pretty in Pink", "The Breakfast Club"
(10) "French Kiss", "The Big Chill", "A Fish Called Wanda", "I Love You To Death"

And to make up the fifteen points ... who said -- "Have Fun. Stay single." I want the actor, his character, the name of the film ...
Moving I moved about two months ago. I live in a flat in a tower block which is part of a housing action trust and after an infusion of government funding everything is being knocked through and re-built. Since this would be a bit noisy and create something of a mess, we’ve all been exiled to another flat in a different block. It took three months to pack everything in my room alone (a pause there while someone reading in Idaho actually takes in the immensity of that job). And then three hours to repack everything on the day we moved when we found out that the removal firm didn’t have equipment to shift on the large boxes which we had been given to put everything in. Most moves have taken them a few hours in the morning. Ours took twelve hours and two vans. Needless to say I haven’t unpacked anything. My computer currently looks like the final shot in ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ although without the spotlight or the cobwebs.

The odd thing about moving was the unconditional resting of your personal positions into the care of a bunch of total strangers who would cross the street to avoid. Whilst they weren't exactly throwing things about my heart missed a beat with every bang and crunch. There are some boxes I still haven't even looked into because I'm scared of what I might find inside. That said, only recorded breakage: the glass plate from the inside of the microwave (we took that out and wrapped it in bubble wrap -- might have been simpler to leave it inside).
Return It’s been so long I’m trying to remember when my home connection went down. Boringly, I think it was when I installed the beta version of WinAmp 3. My computer would dial-up and connect but when the browser appeared it would actually talk to net, as though the whole world had sent it to Coventry. So I took the drastic step of re-installing my hard disk. This didn’t work and my PC finally crashed. It sat there and looked at me and gave me a ‘general protection failure’ on the blue screen of hell. And there it sat for months. Ironically my computer gave up, when I gave up my job so my limited funds mitigated against an upgrade. But then I looked at my savings account, looked at the all but empty space on my desk next to my monitor and put my order in. My silver dream machine (well crème and pastel blue) arrived on Sunday and here we are now. Hello. So how have you all been?