Toxic tag

That master of the lie-in Toxie has tagged me in this little meme, so here we go:

I AM: a bit aerodynamic, though not as much as I was a few years ago
I WANT: a poo
I HATE: not being able to poo
I MISS: Opal Fruits
I FEAR: for the children. Will no-one think of the children?
I HEAR: voices
I WONDER: what the voices are saying – I have a hopeless memory
I REGRET: nothing
I AM NOT: that butch
I DANCE: like an epiliptic in front of a strobe light
I SING: like a corn crake
I SEE: the ruins
I CRY: during Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
I AM NOT ALWAYS: having a poo (honest)
I MAKE WITH MY HANDS: rude gestures
I WRITE: less frequently than I want to
I CONFUSE: everyone
I NEED: more toys
I SHOULD: stop procrastinating, but I can’t be arsed
I START: earlier than Toxie, but then who doesn’t?
I FINISH: my food. Always. Unless I get that one lady at the social club who seems to have an odd sense of proportion.

So, I need to inflict this on three others. Let’s see, well Matt is likely to actually continue the meme, plus I’ll also pick Aine and Greg.

The Cotswolds




St James’ Church

Originally uploaded by rutty.

This past Bank Holiday Weekend had the usual mix of British Weather – clouds, rain, hail and a bit of sun. You can almost guarantee that you’ll need some sort of water-proofing once the extended weekend comes around, and this last weekend was no exception. The umbrella had some extended use.

Thankfully there was also plenty of reason to be cheerful. The sun came out for some nice long periods too, which allowed us to have a barbeque on Saturday evening and to enjoy the gorgeous Cotswold countryside yesterday.

We visited two Chippings – Chipping Campden and Chipping Norton. Both are lovely, small Cotswold towns, the former being more of a village really. The crazy weather meant that we were always in danger of a drowning but also gave me the opportunity to try and take some pictures of the dramatic skies.

Chipping Campden is lovely and it has this lovely “wool” church, St James’. While we were on the way into the church there was an American couple commenting on the “British Clouds” – well, clouds is what we do best of course. No doubt the clouds are bigger in Texas, but ours are more quaint.

Chipping Norton is quite a bit larger and I didn’t really get much of a chance to take many photographs there, but I’m sure that I’ll be able to get back there later in the year and take some more.

It’s a lovely part of the world. It’s worth just driving down there and visiting a few random villages for a cup of tea and walk around.

When the mind wanders

I’m often away with the fairies. This doesn’t mean that I’m busily carrying out some depravity with a series of gay men, but explains my mental processes when I slip into intellectual neutral. For no reason I just start to think about all sorts of inconsequential rubbish rather than the task at hand. I’m often enjoying some instant head-fiction for instance – enacting some story out in my brain.

Such was my concentration this evening when I went out for a run. I was only intending to head out for a quick ten minutes so that I didn’t knacker myself out for the weekend, but my housemate Nicole thought that I should do at least 20 minutes. I foolishly decided that I’d head out on my old three mile excursion which should have taken me about 25 minutes in my current state of fitness.

Unfortunately I was incapable of following the right route. Rather than turning left down Bramcote Avenue at one part of the run I was “elsewhere” mentally, and just carried on down the road into Chillwell. By the time I realised I wasn’t in the right place I’d managed to add another mile, in total, to my run. I ended up running for 45 minutes and nearly arrived in Derbyshire.

Naturally my muscles are complaining about this excersion. I shall be suffering this weekend for sure.

Un long dimanche de fiançailles

I watched A Very Long Engagement over the weekend. It’s a French film with English subtitles. I was a little concerned about it’s Chick Flick title and the fact that it was in French, but I needn’t have been – it was absolutely superb!

The first thing that you notice about this film is that it is so beautifully shot. Every single frame is a work of art. It’s set in the early 1920s after the great war and the director has chosen to use a sepia effect and this gives the film a lovely, old feel, and it all looks so wonderfully done.

The story is set around a young woman, Mathilde, who won’t accept the fact that her fiancé was killed in No-man’s Land during the war. She believes in her heart that she’s just know if he were dead, so she sets off to find out the truth for herself. It’s a love story at it’s heart but contains some truly depressing (and impressive) war footage plus an intricate mystery. It’s very cleverly done.

Audrey Tatou, who plays Mathilde, is great as the polio-afflicted heroine. She gives an under-stated and very stylish performance of a stubborn young woman after only one thing – the truth of her fiancé’s apparent demise.

I’d have hated to see this dubbed. It’s perfect in French with subtitles and I really should see more of director Jean-Pierre Jeunet‘s other work. This is a very arty, powerful, emotionally-charged film and not Chick-flick at all.

Get the DVD.

Things that blokes do

This just arrived in my work email. It’s all true I tell you:

Things that blokes do:-

1. OPENING JARS – She’s struggling. You take it from her hands, open it effortlessly and pretend she loosened it for you. She didn’t. Jars are men’s work.

2. CALLING SOMEONE ‘SON’ – Especially policeman but even saying it to kids makes you the man.

3. DOING A PROPER SLIDE TACKLE – Beckham free kicks – camp. A Stuart Pearce tackle is the pinnacle of the game, simultaneously winning the ball and crippling the man. Magic.

4. SHARPENING A PENCIL WITH A STANLEY KNIFE – Blunt, is it? Hand it here love. No, I don’t need a sharpener, I’ve got a knife thanks!

5. GOING TO THE TIP – A manly act which combines driving, lifting and – as you thrillingly drop your rubbish into another huge pile of other rubbish – noisy destruction.

6. DRINKING UP – Specifically, rising from the table, slinging your coat on and downing two thirds of a pint in one fluid movement. Then nodding towards the door, saying, “Let’s go” and striding out while everyone else struggles to catch up with you. You’re hard.

7. HAVING A THIN BIT OF WOOD – in the shed, solely to stir paint with.

8. HAVING A SCAR – Ideally it’ll be a facial knife wound, but even an iron burn on the wrist is good. “Ooh, did it hurt”. “Nah”.

9. HAVING A HANGOVER AND THICK STUBBLE – When birds have been partying they just whinge. You on the other hand have physical evidence of your hardness, sprouting from your face. “Big night?” Grr, what does it look like?

10. NODDING AT COPPERS – A moment’s eye contact is all it takes for you to share the unspoken bond. “We’ve not seen eye to eye in the past”, it says, “but someone’s got to keep the little scrotes in line”.

11. USING POWER TOOLS – Slightly more powerful than you need or can safely handle. Pneumatic drilling? Superb.

12. KICKING A FOOTY AGAINST A GARAGE DOOR – Clang-g-g-g-g-g-! Stick that Becks, I kick so hard I set off car alarms.

13. ARRIVING IN A PUB LATE – And everyone cheers you. It doesn’t mean you’re popular, it just means your mates are pissed. However, the rest of the pub doesn’t know that.

14. NOT WATCHING YOUR WEIGHT – Fat is a feminist issue, apparently. Brilliant. Pass the pork scratchings.

15. CARVING THE ROAST – And saying “are you a leg or breast man?” to the blokes and “do you want stuffing?” to the women. Congratulations, you are now your dad.

16. WINKING – Turns women to putty. Doesn’t it?

17. TEST SWINGING HAMMERS – Ideally, B&Q would have little changing rooms with mirrors so you could see how rugged you look with any DIY item. Until then, we’ll make do with the aisles.

18. TAKING OUT £200 FROM A CASHPOINT – Okay, so its for paying the plumber later but with that much cash you feel like a mafia don. The only thing better is peeling notes off the roll later.

19. PHONE CALLS THAT LAST LESS THAN A MINUTE – Unlike birds, we get straight to the point. “Alright? Yep. Drink? Red lion? George, it is then. Seven. See ya.”

20. PARALLEL PARKING – Bosh, straight in. First time. Can Schumacher do that? No, because his cars got no reverse gear which, technically, makes you the worlds best driver.

21. HAVING EARNED THAT PINT – Since the dawn of time, men have toiled in the fields in blistering heat. Why? So when it’s over we can stand there in silence, surveying our work with one hand resting on the beer gut while the other nurses a foaming jug of ale. Aaaah.

22. HAVING SOMETHING PROPERLY WRONG WITH YOU – Especially if you didn’t make a fuss. “Why was I off? Nothing much, just a brain haemorrhage”.

23. KNOWING WHICH SCREWDRIVER IS WHICH – “A Phillips? For that? Are you mad, bint?”

24. TAKING A NEWSPAPER INTO THE LOO – A visual code that says “that’s right, I’m going in there for a huge, long man-sized shit”.

Colosseum




Colosseum

Originally uploaded by rutty.

It’s probably become obvious that I’ve recently started to get addicted to photography. I just can’t stop taking photos. Everywhere I walk I see things that I want to snap. I frame the shots in my mind even if I don’t have my camera with me.

This can only end up being expensive in the long-run, but for the time being I’m going to be sticking with my budget digital camera, the Kodak Z740 Zoom. For the price (about £150) it has a 10x optical zoom and 5 megapixels and does have plenty of options that I can play with. I’d prefer to have a nice Digital SLR so that I have more control over my shots but those are way out of my price range at the moment.

The photo shown here was originally taken with my old Olympus IR-300 which some rotten bastard stole from our house. This isn’t the original but a photoshopped version created by some nice person over on Flickr, one niriverson. The original suffered from an over-exposed sky and an under-exposed Colosseum. It still looked nice it could be improved by some post-processing.

Luckily one of the flickr groups, The World Through My Eyes” offered a service whereby they’d open up your photos for touching up by others. I think that niriverson has done an excellent job of making my photo better.

I tried to do it myself initially using the GIMP, but I couldn’t figure out the best method. There are one or two tutorials on how to use the GIMP for certain things and I could make a mask and adjust the two separate bits, but I couldn’t merge them together again afterwards.

I’m sure that I just need to spend a little time working it out or find a decent GIMP tutorial site. As a Linux user this tool is probably the best I have at my disposal, plus it’s free.

So, expect even more photos to appear on here!