dvd I've just received a final email from ScreenSelect regarding the fire ...
"We are writing regarding the fire that we suffered in our DVD rental warehouse on 1 September, which has caused some delays in turning around your DVDs over the last few days. We want to give you an update and some good news.

We now know that the fire started in another unit on our business park, and spread through five other units - reaching our warehouse last. The emergency services' response was fantastic, and they managed to prevent the fire from spreading to much of our facility. Nobody was hurt, but there was water damage and fire damage.

This had the following impact on our service last week:
We did not lose any days of processing returned DVDs and new DVDs.
We lost 2 days of dispatching DVDs - Friday 2nd and Monday 5th September.
We resumed dispatching DVDs on Tuesday 6th September, 3 working days after the fire.
We are now operating at normal weekly volumes. As usual, the majority of our dispatches are members' top choices. We believe this service level remains the best available in the UK.
Our website and customer data is stored securely in another location and was completely unaffected.

We are very sorry for the few days of disruption. We will credit your account with one week's FREE service as compensation. This compensation will be applied no later than Friday September 16th provided your account remains active. It will take effect on your next billing date.
I have to say -- they've been very good since the incident and kept visitors to the site up to date. A week free is decent enough compensation and if they passed this on to everyone is a big dent in their finances. Hopefully they were insured ....
[Updated: I mean they could have shut up shop for two weeks to get their house in order then got back to work. But under the circumstances they've continued working to put the customer first. Many gold stars for that.]

The Road To Beijing: Abi Oyepitan

The Road To Beijing Here is the selection for the 2006 Commonwealth Games (already?) according to someone posting at the BBC Radio Five Live website. Abi Oyepitan is listed to appear in the 200m which is good choice as this is her best event. But looking at the rest of that thread I'm not sure if this is an official listing or the writer's opinion.[about]

But it's not all ...

Quote "That's what blogging is about for me, the rush. Yes I have been lucky to gather some readers and that bloody Bloggie and whatnot, but very selfishly I just did it because writing gives me the horn. I love being mid-entry, when there's just bunches of random sentences all over the page and I have to figure out how to string them all together. Sometimes it's all formed perfectly in my head and I'm purely transcribing; sometimes I wrestle with it for days, even weeks. Either way, once I hit publish and the little blob of text appears, I just grin to myself and go hee hee hee hee and feel like I've smoked something really good." -- Shauna, What's New Pussycat?

Life Props: The Mug

Life Props: The Mug

I can't remember when I bought The Mug. It was in the Oxfam charity shop on Aigburth Road in Liverpool. It stood out against the usual glass juicers and umpteen thimbles. I do know I was having a grim day and it made me laugh, especially since I had a copy of The Guardian in my bag. I think I paid fifty pence. I've treasured it ever since.

Was it some sort of freebie, either given to a relative by someone who works for the paper or in a goody bag at an event sponsored by The Guardian? Were they stuffed into the hands of students at a freshers fair, perhaps in The Bag, along with The Dish, The Plate, The Hat, The T-Shirt even The Towel?

It's the opposite of Magritte's painting, which wasn't a pipe. This is a mug. It says so. It's informative, much like the paper. I like objects which actually have their function written on them - I have a set of pasta dishes with 'Fusilli Pasta Ravioli' around the edge. But that's mostly decorative, whereas this is a statement of intent.

As of Monday, The Mug will be out of date, old news. As well as changing size, The Guardian newspaper is re-designing and one of saddest aspects to go is the title logo. As the editor Alan Rusbridger describes in today's preview copy:
"The title piece - a radical piece of eighties design genius with its then startling juxtaposition of italic Garamond and chunky Helvetica - will have been replaced by a more contemporary one using a new font designed especially for the Guardian."
The new logo looks a bit bland to me - it lacks a distinctiveness, despite the colour. I'll get used to it. And at least I'll have a reminder of how the paper used to look every time I make a cup of tea.

Not me

Life I was looking at this page for a full three minutes trying to work out what Hitachi Data Systems were doing in this very residential area were I live. It turns out there is also a Sefton Park in Buckinghamshire.

Walls come tumbling down

Journalism The Guardian has a mini-site up to publicise its change in direction/size/whatever. I'm hoping it will be a more accessible paper, with a clearer font. I like that it's going to be full colour and G2 is going to have staples and that the sports section is going to have its own section which can be more easily binned. We'll see how many of these developments stick or develop. As changing shape it's having a complete make-over rather than the rush job perpetrated by some of the other broadsheets. I love that this is happening on the same day that I'm starting university, new newspaper, new life.

Links for 2005-09-07 [del.icio.us]

Links for 2005-09-07 [del.icio.us]
* BBC4 gets new look
"Each of the six new idents at first glance appears to be a single image, but on closer inspection is in fact made up of four separate frames."

Busy day.

Life Busy day. Had my current account converted into a student account which is yet another item on the imaginary list of things I need to do before I'm entirely convinced this is happening. I mentioned in small talk with the bank clerk that I'll be commuting to Manchester to study and she gave me a look I haven't seen since I was travelling there for work. Also got my hair cut. Not short short, but tidy. If you speak Whovian, it's gone from a McGann to a Tennant. I've tried the Ecclestone before and it looks wrong. Saw the novelisation of Joss Whedon's Serenity in World's Apart. Again I ask -- why would you read that before you've seen the film?

What it is is

Site News Oops. Totally forgot, although Fran's just reminded me. I've taken the link to the guestbook from the blog because it needs re-assessing. Over the past few weeks its become spam central with the sellers entries strangling everything else. Also, Scott contacted me and said he was actively being emailed spammed after signing the book, which is hardly fair.

Links for 2005-09-06 [del.icio.us]

Links for 2005-09-06 [del.icio.us]
* Twitch - Still More Serenity Clips ...
"Another five clips from Joss Whedon's Serenity have turned up online, which is making it remarkably difficult to exercise restraint and avoid spoilers."
* Live 8 concerts get DVD release
"The full line-up from the UK and US Live 8 concerts will be featured, including Madonna and Coldplay, along with excerpts from the other concerts."
* School Buses @ Snopes
"Photograph shows school buses caught in a flooded New Orleans parking lot."

Shiny discs on fire

dvd Press release from Video Island who own ScreenSelect regarding the recent fire. Interesting titbit:
"Our business is fortunate that at any one time nearly 70% of our discs are out with customers, so a large percentage of our library remains intact. Thank you for your help and support at this time. If there is any disruption to the service we will be offering full compensation to our members for loss of service. We will keep you updated on developments as we know more."
I wonder which titles were lost in the fire and if they'd be kind enough to indicate on their website. My luck it'll be everything I've got in my selection. Good to know about the compensation. Won't necessarily be heading off to LoveFilm yet.

Get you Truffaut.

People The late film critic Pauline Kael's personal library is now held in its entirety at Hampshire College in Boston, with all of her magin notes intact:
"Kael's marginalia are very much in the classic Pauline mode. Penciled in a quick, tight cursive, her comments favor the expressively expostulatory: ''gawd," ''oh my," ''huh?," ''poo," ''bull," ''good," ''Jesus!," ''he's right," ''ugh," ''yup," ''oh come on," ''??," and ''!" Peering at her emphatic scrawl, one can almost hear ''her sharp pencil rasping away," as David Thomson once described the auditory experience of sitting next to Kael at a screening."
The collection isn't static and is in heavy use by students.

For the record I quite like Coldplay.

Quote "I am afraid that is simply not possible, according to a recent controversial EU regulation that explicitely makes it illegal to like Coldplay. Directive 2004/45/B specifically. You can still buy their records and go to their shows obviously because banning that would not be possible under the free market, unless, of course, they were a Chinese band. Which they aren't. So there you go." -- Metafilter user Funambulist answers the statement: "If people like Coldplay, let them."

Links for 2005-09-05 [del.icio.us]

Links for 2005-09-05 [del.icio.us]
* Earth Departure Movie From MESSENGER Spacecraft
"The Mercury-bound MESSENGER spacecraft took 358 images during a gravity assist swingby of Earth on Aug. 2, 2005. Those images were sequenced into an MPEG movie showing the view from MESSENGER as it departed Earth."
* BBC Radio 4 Today Programme's Greatest Painting Vote
I think this actually says more about the British public's narrow knowledge of painting than anything else

Mr Darcy!

Life I spent the day in Pride and Prejudice world, watching the Andrew Davies adaptation from ten years ago. I missed the original screening in the mid-nineties; I was at uni discovering cider and art house cinema and not at home much, although I remember one night when I couldn't get any of my housemates to go out because the final episode was being shown. Now I can see why. I can't attest as to how accurate an adaptation of the book this is, but considering the publicity its amazing how Lizzy and Darcy are kept apart for so much of the time, only getting together in those final moments. In some episodes they're barely together for a few seconds and yet this is enough to sustain their story and keep it prominant.

The real joy is that it takes time to tell the story, whole scenes simply reflecting a mood or a meeting, any information being revealed simply an impression of a feeling if not necessarily some great gesture to move the plot forward. It takes time, allows characters to simply sit there, looking at each other, for minutes sometimes, wordless conversations with motives withheld from a wider group, glances seen only between lovers or confidents and the audience. Although I love dialogue, so much has been lost lately in films which are filled with useless chatter and extranious exposition. I'd imagine this will be gone in the new movie -- the trailer is a very busy thing, and it'll be worth seeing to compare how much of the story will be lost to take the running time down to two hours.

Take three from the top you will, hmm?

Quote "Well, I was thinking Tom Baker. He'd add a slight edge of madness, but still keep it relatively comfortable. But then I decided Yoda would be a much a bet. He's got a nice teacherly vibe which I think would put people at ease and the fact that English is obviously his second language would make the show feel more accessible to everybody. And it's not like the host ever has to stand up, so they could use the old puppet Yoda and not have to pay for expensive CGI." -- poster at Culture Vulture on who should present Countdown.

A new kind of world is taking over ...

Journalism The Guardian's new Berliner format is launching next Monday the 12th. Full story here.


Film I took Wes Craven's Red Eye with low expectations (thriller set on a plane - what again?) but by the end of the journey I was deeply impressed. Rachel McAdams plays a hotel clerk flying home late to see her dad when she meets a handsome stranger who may not be all he seems. Much of the movie is spent on that plane, in the very small space any of us in the real world inhabit between our seat and loo, jeopardy created through the words and actions of a single aggressor and the information he chooses to reveal. Things are less effective when we leave the confines of the plane to show the wider consequences - a less Hollywood approach would have been to keep the action on board, with the results left to the viewers imagination. What sells the story though are the performances. McAdams gives an impressively layered performance for the material, able to hit comic and tragic beats with equal ability. The film really works because of her chemistry with Cillian Murphy who reminds me of a young Robert Mitchum, the menace being that he's not showing you what he's really capable of.

Look, Shoe people ...

Life At the risk of this turning into one of Carrie Bradshaw's Sex In The City columns, I went shoe shopping today. I don't buy shoes that often. I tend to have a single pair which I wear all of the time until they start to fall apart and let in water. As you can see from the photo, the soles on my old pair (to the left) have finally given up and are randomly gathering odd bits of matter. We've had a busy fourteen months together but it's time to move on to other things. My new pair (to the right) are more boot-like, for the winter, and make me half an inch taller for now. I returned to Sketchers because they're snug, soft and bouncy. Unlike Carrie, I didn't learn anything about relationships, except for the one with my footwear which is pretty monogamous it seems.

French voice

Quote "I learnt how to slaughter animals from the peasants in Châteauroux and I still do it when I go to visit friends who live in the countryside." It may be of little comfort to vegetarians, but at least the animals die with the poetry of that mellifluous French voice in their ears. "Before killing something I always talk to it," he says, sounding like a Gallic Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. "An animal that's been caressed before it's killed dies peacefully and its muscles don't contract with adrenalin. If an animal is slaughtered in a stress-free way it tastes better." -- from Tim Atkin's interview with Gérard Depardieu


Life I spent the day getting my cds out of storage. Since we moved back a couple of years ago, my shiny discs have been in grocery boxes under my bed. The theory went that when I wanted to listen to something I'd pul the box out and help myself. In reality they became relatively inaccessable, so I felt myself chained to my hard disk if I wanted to listen to music. So I've cleared a bookcase that was filled with VHS tapes and sorted them onto there, soundtracks, compilations, female and male vocalists, groups. Inevitably I've found all kinds of albums I've not listened to in ages or, suspiciously I don't even remember having. It's an impressive sight. So my VHS is now hiding under my bed instead, unwatched and unloved.

Links for 2005-09-03 [del.icio.us]

Links for 2005-09-03 [del.icio.us]

* Gas Station Websites
Pokes fun at the websites of garages in the US. Ironically doesn't view very well in Firefox
* DomeBlog
Blogging the evacuees at the Reliant Astrodome
* Flickr fans have Yahoo fear eased
Extraordinarily, the BBC have covered this story.