Sunday, September 26, 2004

Stairway To Heaven

Tonight I went out with a fair few folk (Note to the English teachers - alliteration works!). I went to Slaines with KG and Pete, where we met Fiona and a large group with her, Dawn (Pete's sister) with her mates, Rhona and her man Dave, and Derek (my 1st, 3rd and 4th year flatmate) and his mates. A very large gathering to say the least.

Anyway, a select few of us went on to the Triple Kirks to have a few more drinks, but KG, Pete and I decided (after a bit of arguing) to go on to Moshulu, where we'd originally intended to go (long story - accept that it won't get told!).

So at Moshulu (Aberdeen's slightly poor answer to the Cathouse; Don't get me wrong, it's a great place, just not quite as good), we met Fiona with her assorted buddies, all out to accompany Fiona's cousin Craig who was visiting from Canada. Many people, majoritavely female, in one spot. I was standing beside this meley for a while, talking with KG and Pete, but ocassionally caught the eye of a sweet lass sitting amongst the others.

Cut to 30 minutes later, and I'm sitting next to said sweet lass. We get talking. We get along really well. We talk about all sorts. From my end at least, there's something going on (I think it was mutual, but what do I know?).

About 2 hours later said girl leaves for home, so I catch up with her at the door and exchange numbers. I think all is well, that I have jumped to the next (only slightly higher) stage.

Then on the way home I break the news that I got said number. I am then told by Pete that the girl has a boyfriend. He had gotten her number about a year previously and found out her relationship shortly afterwards.

So I could potentially be climbing a tree already being scaled by another, but no matter - I will still contact this lass, arrange to meet her and see what happens. If she has a boyfriend, then I'll have to accept that in the blink of an eye, and hopefully take her on as a friend, because she seems a really nice girl - someone I would like to know even if I couldn't be with her.

I'll bet there are at least two female readers of this blog who are thinking "about fucking time" or "good on you" - I'll admit it's been a good while since I made any kind of progress with the opposite sex, even if this is pseudo-progress. All I can say is my innate shyness, which may not be obvious among friends, often hinders me, but I am trying.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Pink Ego Box

Just a quick note to the kids from DCS I worked with over summer (and any other DCS kids wanting a chat) - check my website's contact page to find my MSN username, and add me to your contacts list. I'd meant to get everyone's usernames before I left, but I'm forgetful at times!

Thursday, September 23, 2004

The More Things Change...

Yesterday I had my introduction to my new degree, and it went quite well. There were a couple of unusual points brought up:

  • We're expected to take our own laptops in to uni every day, since there were about 35 people in today, plus a lot more on the list, and only 14 machines. Wonder if I could get used to carrying my laptop around all day.

  • The department is closed at 11pm, so even though this course is "harder than fourth year", all nighters are not an option

  • All lectures, seminars and tutorials are held in the same room - our lab

Aside from that, all was well. I ended up in the Bobbin (one of the few pubs near the uni; a place I'd walked by many times but never been in) afterwards with a few of the folk from the course. I'm pretty glad it was quite a relaxed first day - it made it easier to get talking to people. From the people I've met so far, I'm the only one from Aberdeen on the course.

Outside of uni, I've started ripping my CD collection now that I have it in reach, so my iPod should be fit to burst in a couple of days, with many CDs of MP3s waiting for their turn on the white machine.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Show a Little Emotion

Well my time in Glasgow has come to an end for now, and here's how Scotland with Style tried to stop me leaving.

Thursday: I met Julie at the train station and we headed to Nice N Sleazy for some drinks, Julie a little fired up for the impending Rico concert. Had a good wee chat and caught up on each other's lives from the past few weeks.

Cut to 8:30 and we're in King Tut's. We watched the first support act, a duo with some of the worst lyrics ever, then the second, a local band called Bad Dancer, who sounded pretty tight though I personally didn't think the lead singer's voice was anything special.

Anyway, they were basically just filling in the gaps until Rico arrived, and he played a really good set. Almost every song was reworked in some way, which can be hard to pull off but it sounded very polished, like a Nine Inch Nails remix album, only less extreme. Also, you could tell Rico was putting all of himself into the performance: often a band can only exude energy if the crowd is giving off energy, but this gig wasn't overly packed, it was in a small room, and few in the crowd were moshing, yet Rico was still on edge all the time.

Friday: During the week I'd been trying to arrange for a small group of friends from my year to meet on Friday night. A few were lined up to join the regulars, but one by one they fell victim to illness and tiredness through work.

So by the start of the night only the regulars (minus Rachel who had to work late) survived the cull and made it to Curlers. Not a whole lot went on here, except the loss from the pack soon after leaving the pub of Matt, for reasons known only to himself. Sorry i couldn't say goodbye to you, Dude.

Around 7pm we were all back at Lauren's flat with a bit of bevvy. What ensued was conversations about army training, mens romm ettiquete and the Britney Spears outfit , not to mention some guitar showmanship from Stevie, Chris and Stewart, Colin doing his best to break one of Lauren's lights, and Stevie running out of loo roll when dropping the kids off at the pool.

To explain, the bog roll in Lauren's WC had run out before tonight, and with no more in the flat, she'd put a box of tissues on the cistern. Stevie had gone to show Mr Whippy how things were done, but made the biggest mistake you can on a toilet visit: not checking the bog roll supply. He didn't want to use the tissues because he felt they were not meant for the purpose at hand, so instead started shouting (and whistling) for assistance!

We were putting off leaving for the shack for a while, but when it came time to go (with our number reduced by Stewart and Colin's earlier departures), Lauren was too tired to come out. Quite a shame since she'd gone to the trouble of getting ready for a night out, but perhaps for the best as will soon be revealed.

So the plan now: head round to Rachel's (which was not "just round the corner", despite what Stephen might tell you) and get a taxi from there to the Shack (not my choice of venue, but I was happy enough to go there rather than splinter off somewhere else and not spend the night with the peeps). Stevie and David left en route, and Iain had stayed behind with Lauren at her flat, so we were reduced to Stephen and Chris.

Speed round: Say hello to Rachel; try to book a taxi: 40 minute wait (sod that for a game of soldiers); try to flag on on a) Argyle Street, b) Sauchiehall Street, c) all of the above, but failed; Decide to retire to Rachel's flat.

Out of place prologue: Way back near the start of my summer placement, Rachel and I were in Starbucks and had a conversation I will now paraphrase to save time:

Steven: I'm staying in my sister's old room. The wardrobe is almost full of her old clothes.
Rachel: Can we expect you to turn up to work in girlie tops?
Steven: It's mostly skirts
Rachel: So you'll be wearing skirts?
Steven: (Reaching for funny excuses) I don't have the legs for that
Rachel: OK, we'll have to get you some tights.

Rachel threatened to buy the tights for quite some time, and finally produced a set of stockings in the lab earlier this Friday. This was all fun and games, but now we were back at her flat, and she was demanding to see them on me! Many drinks and Stephen telling me he'd have done it sent me towards Rachel's room, emerging shortly after wearing the stockings and a wee skirt Rach had found that would fit me. I have no doubt that the photos will be online very shortly, if they aren't already (I have yet to check other blogs), but I was not alone: Stephen also wore the stockings, but this time with a long coat and very little else. He deserved that after "forcing" me into cross-dressing.

Around 6am we said our goodbyes (mine holding a bit more weight than others since I was leaving the city) and headed home.

Since this is where my contact with the kids from the lab is temporarily broken, I'll take a minute to say thanks to them all: Chris, Colin, David, Iain, Lauren, Lotr, Matt, Rachel, Stephen, Stevie and Stewart. Thanks for making the summer work easier to take, and I'll see you all soon.

Intermission: Will this week ever end? Please take 5 minutes to blink, make a brew, or wipe that tear from your eye.

Saturday: To help you follow the story, my sister is called Christine, and I've always called her Chris, but we already have one Chris here, so it's Christine for you!

Christine and I met up with wee Graham and his girlfriend Donna at Barfly for Ginger's acoustic gig. We thought that it could be a quiet night since it had only been announced a couple of weeks before, but it seemed packed to the gunnels once the second support act were underway.

But back to the first support: Deckard's lead singer doing a solo set, including a few tracks from his time in Baby Chaos, and a cover of STP's Interstate Love Song. All very good.

Next up were Plan A, fronted by Jeff, formerly of The Wildhearts. Playing their songs acoustically did little to hinder how good they sounded, so I bought one of their EPs, as well as the Gigner acoustic CD on sale at the gig. During and after the Plan A set, Hot Steve, Random Jon Poole and Ginger all walked past us through the crowd, indicating just how small the venue was.

On to their set, which was just phenomenal. It pissed from a great height on the Edinburgh show last year, which Ginger admitted was a "pretend" show. They played many tracks for the first time to my ears, including their first dip into the Endless Nameless album since The Wildhearts split about a year after making it. There were medleys of covers, medleys of their own songs, and in general much more of a show than you'd expect given the small number of shows and the size of each show on the tour.

After the show, Christine and I hung around with her friend Graham (not the wee one, another one), who had heard that the band would sign stuff if you waited long enough. Sure enough, 15 minutes later we were in the dressing room getting our CDs signed. In hindsight, we should've asked Ginger if The Wildhearts were supporting The Darkness on their UK tour (it's not been confirmed or denied at the mo), but instead could think of nothing to say. Ach well!

Epilogue: So that's how my last week living in Glasgow tailed out. I'm now back in Aberdeen, with just 2 days before I have to show up at Uni #2. Here's hoping the kids here are even half as much fun as Glasgow's.

My name is Steven, and I belong to Aberdeen once more.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The End Is Nigh

I'm getting close to the end of my summer job - just 2 days, and half an hour, left. I can't say I won't be glad to leave the job, but I will miss the kids in the department over summer.

My workload has decreased since my last work-rant. It turns out that a lot of what I was being asked to do didn't need to be done because I'd already done it when I worked for the uni last year. So I'm a bit more relaxed now.

My work time has mainly been taken up with evaluations on VideoSqueak (by the way, if you catch this post before Friday night you can access the site at the URL I gave a while back to see it for yourself). It's really annoying going through the logs and noting everything down. My own fault for not thinking before stealing someone else's logger.

My evaluation participants included one character referred to by many as Scary Man. He was forced into participating by my supervisor (something I was totally against - it effectively cancels the idea of "volunteering" for the experiment). Anyway, he just questioned everything about my system. "Why use your method when there are other methods out there?" Some really contradictory and stupid ideas in amongst all he spouted. Nice guy!

And as a wee follow up to a previous post, my boss does want to do the Miami presentation instead of me. Grr!

Played on the Big Screen: I went to The Village last week, which was surprisingly good - I'd heard mixed reviews on it, but at the same time thought it couldn't falter much as a Shyamalan film.

It was really refreshing to see a film that barely reflected its trailer. A prime example that I think will be different to this is AVP - the trailer for that film needed very little. Perhaps a shot of Predator, a shot of 1+ aliens, Alien and Predator on screen at the same time, and maybe a bit of witty banter from the human cast. 20 seconds at most. No need to give too much away, because the combined audiences of these film legacies is enough to build a substantial beach head (or initial consumer group for those not from a DEMMS/commercial background), then word of mouth would do the rest (I'm assuming they haven't botched up the film. I mean, how could they?).

And tonight it's off to The Terminal with Rachel, one lass it will be hard to say goodbye to this weekend. Do not fear Rach, I will visit!

I know I had more today, but it's gone.

Monday, September 13, 2004

RSS'ing About

I've just altered my home page slightly, by replacing the HTML parsing with RSS parsing (thanks to Matt for the suggestion). This seems to run faster, but only a couple of the blogs I link use RSS (I now realise this doesn't - perhaps another reason to switch to WordPress like all those before me).

Short and sweet today - that chicken isn't going to cook itself (though I'd be well impressed if it did).

Smells Like Yer Maw

Friday night last week involved the normal plan - go to Curlers for some scran, then on to the QM for a night-long drinking session.

Aside from one of the nights when Cheesy Pop was held in the Food Factory, last week was the first time I'd remained in possession of control over my body by the time we headed down to the cheese, so I actually had to dance. The reason for my unseasonable near-sobriety was that I was wearing my contacts. I had only worn them when drinking once previously, but on that night 4 drinks had been enough to take my sight away. So on Friday I was drinking slower and adding soft drinks to my system now and then.

At midnight, when we went downstairs, my contacts started drying out again, and I was ready to call it a night, but Chris convinced me to just go to the lab and change to my glasses then come back. Not a bad idea really, as it meant I could get my bag and leave it in the QM's cloakroom, avoiding another trip to the lab at 2:30.

So now back in the QM, watching my friends on the floor, I realised I was near sober and couldn't stand against a wall all night. One of my failings would have to be needing plenty of C2H5OH lubrication before I feel comfortable on a dance floor. Something about all the other people in the room seeing you dance like a fool. It's not that my dancing gets better with more drinks, I just care less about the roving eyes.

Anyway, after one of the many Jack and Coke purchases, Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit came on, which I could barely turn down. When you like the music I do, you have to accept some things:

i. Most clubs will only play the old standards like Nirvana, Guns 'N' Roses and Rage.
ii. People will expect you to dance to these tracks.

This second point didn't happen last night, but I do have memories of being dragged up for these tracks on many past ocassions. I do like the songs, but overplay combined with them not being the best to dance to in my opinion (with the exception from the above list of Rage) mean I'm not keen on them in a club setting.

So up I get, as Chris leans across and starts singing in my ear. He's making up lyrics as he goes, which are all about him and "yer maw" enjoying each others company. Absolutely hilarious stuff, which I commented on at the time simply with "How come you aren't on television"?

Anyway, a good night was had by many if not all present, and we should get something quite spectacular going on this Friday.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Dampfentlüftungsöffnung (Steam Vent)

Isn't the German language great for amazingly long words? Like Welsh, without losing your tongue somewhere near your tonsils (just kidding).

Anyway, the purpose of this post is to vent steam, not discuss foreign linguistics. I'm nearing the end of my summer job, and my boss is really pushing me to get a frankly ridiculous amount of work done in a week.

Earlier in my placement I had little to do, as I'd been left with very little and my boss was away for a couple of weeks. It was annoying having to twiddle my thumbs in a wee office on my own, but I was happy to pay back the wasted time with overtime later on.

So now it's later on, and it's quite clear that the mass of overtime I'm putting in is not going to come close to finishing all set before me.

Today my boss phoned me to go over what I'd done so far, and to give me yet more work. I wrote a paper on my 4th year project, and it's been accepted (on the third attempt) to a conference. The conference is in Miami, and the authors are invited to give a presentation of the paper. My boss wants me to prepare something for this.

I'm quite happy to do this, as a trip to Miami would be nice. It would be in the last week of term which would not be very good timing at all, so it would depend on what the workload at that point was like. Chances are I wouldn't be going at all.

But my boss (apologies for this static referrer to him, but I'm not naming names right now!) is currently in America, and chances are he'd like to go to the conference. I build a system. I write a paper, with input from him in the form of comments after each draft. I write a presentation for the conference. He gives the presentation. Everyone thinks he did all the work. Nice!

So I'm a bit annoyed by that, and will definately check if he intends to give the presentation himself or not before I work on it.

Helping the kiddies: Yesterday I was (after a last minute recruitment) roped into helping out at the uni's open day. It was actually quite enjoyable telling these kids what to expect and generally being looked to for help. Just a shame I didn't know the answers to half the questions! I got a free geek-shirt out of it that will make many jealous, I'm sure.

(I realise the irony of complaining about not having enough time to finish my summer job, after taking hours off to help with the open day, but I'd say it was justified)

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

This guy's built a glass guitar with a fish in it!

Last night it was "announced" - someone on The Wildhearts mailing list leaked - that Ginger will be playing an acoustic show at the Barfly next Saturday. In tow will be Random Jon Poole (The Wildhearts' current bassist) and Hot Steve (roadie with the best name ever).

I've seen the same line-up before in Edinburgh at last year's Fringe, but that was a short set due to it being free (and support for Athlete of all monstrosities). This time around it should be a full-length show. What a way to leave Glasgow (it's my last night in town :-( )!

So in my last week here I have Rico on Thursday, the last ever QM night with the lab folks on Friday, then Ginger on Saturday. Glasgow is trying its best to keep me here! I'm certainly starting to appreciate the lack of bands that tour north Glasgow - I'll be down the road every month just to keep up with the faves.

I'm expecting Soulwax to tour soon for their new album. It's good to hear them going in yet another direction. Chris Goss-licked rock to poppy little tunes to dark electronica.

Things to do: I now have to redo two of my blog parsers on my website, after Chris altered his style and Matt moved his blog. Some people have no consideration for others!

As far as the rest of the website goes, it's been quite static recently. Still to do:

Get the style fully tested in multiple browsers
Force the style on this blog
Get XHTML compliant
Clean everything - I want this to be a quality site (I should've started with this, but nuts to that)
Complete the DB and add more features to it

Monday, September 06, 2004

Quite Ugly Last Night

Last night a dramatisation of the Christopher Bookmyre novel Quite Ugly One Morning was shown on ITV. I'd only heard of this earlier in the day, so I didn't have much time to build hopes, but was quite excited by the programme since a) I'm a big Brookmyre fan; b) I always thought his novels would work well as movies; c) I'd half-heartedly tried to right a screenplay for the same book.

I tried to overlook the fact that James Nesbitt was playing the lead: the story is set in Edinburgh, and Nesbitt, and Irishman was playing a Scottish guy. It turned out that he played what was given to him quite well, and even managed a piss-take of a Scottish accent at one point. Anyway, part of the novel's appeal is how steeped in Scottishness it is.

The problem was the word "adaptation". The story on screen wasn't so much adapted as it was a total rewrite. The characters were all still there (in name at least), as was the basic plot, but the most funny, surprising and enjoyable parts had all been replaced with much tamer ideas.

Be warned: If you haven't yet read this book, I'd avoid the rest of this post - I'm about to give some twists away, and it's a really good story that you should get your hands on now.

The Chemistry: Instead of Parlabane chasing Jenny the police officer, being knocked back because she was gay, then hapharzardly falling for Sarah (the ex-wife), he already knew Sarah (in a way never explained) and was all over Jenny. I thought at the time of viewing that the writers had effectively shut out any chance for sequel film works to be made - in subsequent novels by Brookmyre, Parlabane and Sarah are still together, and this relationship is to some extent important. If any of the other Parlabane novels were adapted, a differing girlfriend status would be confusing to the TV-only fans, as well as other features of his character being questionable.

The Gore: Part of the appeal of the novel was the constant barrage of splattermania - people frequently walking into rooms with bodily waste causing carnage everywhere. I know the drama had to be cleaned up to meet a 9pm time slot's tameness requirements, but if they want to make something, they should make it properly. The killer was supposed to enter into a near-final scene with major facial wounds, a missing hand and poor cognition of events. Instead he's buried by the elderly woman, changing her from a wee old dear into a Crimewatch feature.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Form a Band, Learn the Fucker

The Velvet Revolver gig was something to remember and no doubt about it. It started off with Backyard Babies (I heard there was another support band earlier, but getting in early enough for them would've been tough with the queue outside). I knew I recognised their name from somewhere - turns out they were meant to support The Wildhearts on their last tour, but pulled out and were replaced by Therapy?. Not a bad thing at all since Therapy? are so good.

But I can see why they were the original support - they have a similar sound to The Wildhearts, and during their set they played a track called Star War. This is their version of Star War Jr from the Super$hit 666 mini-album. SS666 is a band I got into due to Ginger, The Wildhearts' singer, being their singer as well. But the guitarist from Backyard Babies is also in SS666. Hearing the track live was really good.

Then after a fairly long wait, we got VR. You would never believe the Scott Weiland would be so animated on stage, coming from a grunge band, but he really was. They managed to slot in 2 Stone Temple Pilot songs, 2 Guns 'N' Roses songs and what I think was a Nirvana cover too. I'd been expecting GNR, since they're the more popular band, but getting to hear STP was really good.

This is where you notice why I'm not a music reviewer - I can't get more descriptive than "really good"!