Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween legs

The infamous purple tights, of Prince concert and work Summer Social fame. I knew I would use them again, and what better occassion than a Halloween fancy dress night down at my local?

Friday, October 26, 2007

I am not convinced I want to ride my bicycle, actually

So, I recently got myself a bike. It was an offer I couldn't refuse - ie. just ride away quietly and don't ask any questions, nosy. It has spent the last few weeks sitting in the entrance hall of my flat. A big, hulking, beaten-up mountain bike in our otherwise very girly flat.

OK, I thought. I have to buy a helmet (safety first!) and a lock. The bare minimum in the way of bike accessories. So I did that a few weeks ago.

Then I took it for the inaugral ride last weekend, to London Bridge and back, as a test run for the trip to work.

It did take me a couple of hours to get there, but that was because I had to keep stopping at every corner and checking the map. And it hurt to sit down for the next week. But gliding through the mostly deserted city, swooping past the empty Farringdon market and over Southwark bridge, I felt exhilarated to be outside and on two wheels.

OK, thought. I really can't do without some lights and a flourescent top, considering I will be riding home in the dark after work. So I went back to the bike shop and bought them.

A few days later, it occured to me that if I am really going to do this, I am going to need a big ass girly saddle. So I went back to the bike shop and bought a wide-ass saddle with strategic cut-outs.

Now all of this gear is sitting at home, waiting for me to attach it to the bike and make good on those (internal) promises, remonstrating me for being such a darn chicken. I tell myself it is fear holding me back - of being crushed under a bus or run down by cars driven by cyclist-hating rednecks - but in truth, it is at least 20% laziness and 10% inertia.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Embracing my inner nerd: part 2

Another nugget which confirms my geekhood: I used to be obsessed with the X-Files, as were most of my family. I can still remember my brother's face, locked in an expression of hilarious concentration as he whistled along to the theme tune. It took me a while to get hooked - the first few episodes seemed to be entirely composed of Dana Scully wandering around the woods at night, shining her torch around wildly and calling out "Mulder? Mulder?!" in an increasingly frustrated/worried tone - but slowly Fox Mulder's good looks and gravelly monotone got to me.

So imagine my delight when I discover that Mr. Duchovny is appearing in a new show, Californication, in which he plays some kind of writer/sex fiend cutting loose in LA after the breakdown of his marriage.

There were a few things about the pilot which disturbed me, however. One was that David Duchovny didn't quite convince me as Hank Moody, the bad boy writer gone off the rails. Then there was the completely unsexy sex scenes. And then this charming encounter where Hank taunts his blind date after she asks him to tell her about herself, using his creative intuition (seeing as he's a writer and all):

“I think you were born in the valley. Nice part, though. Your father was middle-management, white collar executive. Stay-at-home mom. You didn’t want to stray too far to go to college so you went to USC. You had a serious boyfriend in college, you broke up right after, he married the next one. You got a low maintainence gig in a human resources industry, you had a string of bad relationships, you put on some weight. You looked around, you saw all your friends starting to pair up and get married so you decided you should lose the weight, you joined a gym, maybe you did a little running.

You say you want to work - maybe start your own party planning business, you fancy yourself kind of a poor gal’s Martha Stewart - but what you really wanna do is sit at home, on the couch, with some poor sap, watching reality TV while he watches you get fat again.”

Pretty bitchy, huh?

Afterwards, I stayed up and watched the pilot episode of 30 Rock, a new show I knew nothing about. Here's Jack Donaghy (played by Alex Baldwin) sizing up his new employee Liz Lemon in the first episode:

“Sure...I gotcha. New York, third-wave feminist, college-educated, single and pretending to be happy about it, over-scheduled, undersexed, you buy any magazine that says 'healthy body image' on the cover, and every two years you take up knitting ... for a week.”

When did men get so damn catty?! I mean, I know these characters aren’t real (hyuk - I ain’t stupid), but this dialogue was written by men... wasn’t it?

Well, actually, this particular episode of 30 Rock was written by a woman - the woman who plays the "over-scheduled, undersexed" Liz. You are letting down the sisterhood, Liz. I'm disappointed in you. And in you, Mr. Duchovny, object of my teenhood affections and Executive Producer of a show which seems to divide women into two groups: potential sex partner or object of derision.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Words AND pictures - what could be better?

It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I am a bit of a nerd. All I wanted in High School, and Uni, was to be cool. It seemed to me (at the time) that being cool was somehow related to "not giving a shit" and being extremely laidback about, like, everything. To display enthusiasm towards anything was to reveal yourself as deeply uncool. I think this must have been the time I learnt to hide my enthusiasm away, because now I have trouble getting enthusiastic about anything. Except chocolate, of course. But I digress.

The geekiest thing about me? I read comic books. Witness the progression of my life through the funny papers:

1. I start out on Asterix and Obelix, borrowed from the local library.

2. Move on to Peanuts, then Garfield throughout primary school.

3. Read MAD magazine feverishly through high school.

4. I discover Calvin and Hobbes through a friend at Uni.

Of course, in the meantime, the Simpsons were exploding all over TV, South Park came out and all of a sudden cartoons were not Just For Kids anymore.

5. My Dad introduces me to Krazy Kat, the sweetest and most lyrical love story between a cat and a mouse that you will ever read.

6. Somewhere along the line, I come across Robert Crumb and his whacked-out hippy comics from the 70's.

7. A friend gives me a copy of Ghost World for my birthday, which I enjoy on a visual level, but which leaves me with an uncomfortable, desolate feeling (maybe that was the point).

8. Since being in the UK, I discover the razor-sharp Life in Hell, by Matt Groening - as well as:

9. the Persepolis series, by Marjane Satrapi. That is a proper grown-up, educational read, my friends. You no longer need feel ashamed that you are reading a picture-book.

Then came:

10. Maus by Art Speigelman. Words cannot do justice to this incredible book. It won a Pulitzer prize. That should shut those cool kids up.

Anyway, back where it all began.

Yesterday I walked past one of those shonky "temporary" book sales, and I couldn't resist buying a set of 10 Asterix comics for the bargain price of £22.

I inherited my love of Asterix (and subsequently my love of all story-based comics) from my Dad, who could frequently be found sitting up in bed of an evening, cup of tea on the bedside table, giggling quietly over the antics of that indomitable Gaulish village, holding out against the Roman invaders...

Thanks, Dad. I shudder to imagine how different my life would have been if you had been heavily into competitive sports or something.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Amster-damn good

Nothing like a last minute trip to blow your budget right out of the water!

Amsterdam was lovely. After getting over the initial shock of wandering into the red light district (by accident - alarmingly easy to do), I was smitten. The pretty canals are lined with trees and narrow brick houses leaning into each other (and out over the street - something to do with hoisting stuff up to the top floor). The trees were still mostly green, but starting to turn shades of bright yellow and orange, making the city glow with autumnal colours. I spent half my time there daydreaming about living on a cute little houseboat and cycling to work.

This city is built for bike riding. The locals ride their bikes everywhere, some with wheel-barrow-like contraptions at the front for the kids. There is no question that in the street traffic pecking order, cyclists are at the top; followed by tram drivers, then buses, then pedestrians, and finally cars. Negotiating their way slowly between everyone else. As it should be. Cars must die.

I did a bike tour in the rain, and words cannot describe how lovely it was to be back in the saddle once more. I haven't had a bike for 4 and a half years now, and damn I miss it. I felt like a true Amsterdammer in my poncho, cycling from windmill to dairy farm in the wet (not that Amsterdammers spend their spare time cycling to see windmills and other tourist traps, but y'know).

Here's me hangin' in the Post CS building, temporary home of the Stedelijk Modern Art Museum and a very cool bar called 11.

And here's me doing starjumps on guess which floor?

And in case you were wondering, no I didn't partake of the wacky baccy...

* Photos once again curtesy of the lovely Emma, thanks to my missing download cable.
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