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post 2 on Saturday 20th January 2007 at 13:49

Do You Beat Your Wife?

My deadlines at University are so close. I can't believe I have left it this late. If I fail this year I will now know how NOT to do it for ANOTHER year. So I'm trying so hard to work diligently.

But not too hard. I went to the football last week for the first time ever. I was so surprised by the serenity of the place. I was expecting bottle smashed faces and cattle crushes but no, only a poster; quite obviously nestled amongst its target audience, posing the question everybody wants to answer "do you beat your wife". Dear me. What a world of stereotypes. You have to laugh.

tags: [ advertising ] [ career ] [ culture ] [ university of teesside ]
post 5 on Thursday 15th February 2007 at 09:38

A Tale Of Stolen Bins

I can hardly believe I've yet to write about the saga of the wheelie bins! A story, which in summation, involves what can only be described as a *shit load* of wheelie bins (belonging to thirteen oak street) being cruelly stolen from the alley.

People take my wheelie bins for what purposes I'm unsure but Iím guessing theft, debauchery, rat storage, police hikes, "oh shit, it's the TV licence van", etc would probably all be accurate if not speculative possibilities.

Just some background: I live in a row of Victorian terrace houses in one of the most run-down and socially deprived areas of Middlesbrough. We share an alley which runs parallel to the length of the houses and, I state this with authority, we ALL should have a wheelie bin - as provided free of charge by Redcar & Cleveland council. The bin men come every other Tuesday (we're supposed to recycle) and apart from myself and Mr. Norman are the only people with access to the alley gates.

Now the bins and their travels have become somewhat of a comedy in this house. Questions such as where do they go? What do they see? What mysterious contents do they harbour on these mystical journeys? etc, all remain unanswered. Just to provoke the tale further (and make my plight seem all the more pitiful) it actually took me three months to get a wheelie bin, after which time two were dispatched by the stupid council; one serving as the alley bin, and the other becoming a very useful "cache" bin.

The first bin to go was an unmarked bin which naked and green was sent to the alley like a lamb to the slaughter. I didn't draw on this bin and that was my first mistake - the bin was taken but the incident was kinda dismissed as a one-off. In fact, due to the cache bin it was almost forgotten about! But then when the cache was stolen it was like WTF? What am I going to do now! So I called the council was given a case number. Can you believe that? A case number! So fully authenticated we trotted down to yon tip in Redcar to get a new wheelie bin.

Enter bin number three - trundling into the alley like the car outta Grease, rising up from the mist of its own excellency and fully inscribed with more identifying marks than a police line-up. BUT IT WAS STILL STOLEN!

After a four week sabbatical, during which time the rubbish was just flowing from the back door, the bin returned as is nothing had happened. The only clue was a dead rat lay at its wheels ... make of that what you will. Where from here? Well, I'm considering RFID and GPS technology. But Iím leaving this post open for more news. Iím sure thereíll be some. As Dad would say ďyou couldnít make it upĒ.

tags: [ 13 oak street ] [ culture ] [ rants ] [ south bank ]
post 21 on Thursday 19th April 2007 at 14:56

Wagamama v. Etsuko

So close, yet so far apartEver since local Japanese noodle bar Etsuko opened some years back Iíve been an avid supporter and oft-times regular customer. Having also been a distant appreciator of international noodle bar Wagamama, you'd expect Iíd be the sort of girl to notice a rip off where Japan and noodles are concerned right? Well I didnít notice; not until I finally got to visit Wagamama in Leeds this weekend.

It would seem that Etsuko has ported the entire Wagamama ethos to the (as yet) Wagamama-less North East. The minimalist-styled menus look identical - even down the choice of font. Presentation, choice on the menu, speed; everything identically perfect for both. But in a wild twist of honesty, I claim that the chain-free, no-added-corporate-darling Etsuko is the better choice for the noodle connoisseur and for the kids who just love to go local. The food tastes fresher and the spring onions donít carry that two-days-ago-chopped taste. The noodles are squishier too (howís that for a gastro-review?) So how does Etsuko get away with it? And why didnít anyone spot this belligerent imitation before? Maybe Etsuko is Wagamama, and in a North Eastern dialect Wagamama translates roughly into "I'm going to make love to your mam, like", and so the hunt for a suitable name was somewhat influenced by the need to choose something distinctly oriental in order to appeal to a different clientele: "Etsuko" seems to be a Japanese person name and means absolutely nothing in any language making it as good a non-descript yet incontrovertibly-oriental noodle bar name as you're gonna get. Its strange newness to the North East was reflected in how bare the place was when it first opened its doors. Iím sure the layout had something to do with it - too much like a school canteen - "youíre saying I have to sit next to a stranger?!" And maybe the bleak amount of traffic was testament to an overzealous vegetable-to-meat ratio, not to mention the proximity of the restaurant to three of the nationís favourite cop-out restaurants; Nandoís, Pizza Hut and McDonaldsís. But still, Etsuko seems to go from strength to strength, and with the opening of the most excellent mima at the start of the year (and thus beckoning an influx of avant-gardettes who'll cross through this prime Middlesbroughian location) no doubt Etsuko will continue to flourish. And I do hope so because not only is it the definitive place to get fed a decent meal out around here but the staff are a total dream! One server actually remembered the mushroom allergy Iíd explained to him during an earlier visit! So thumbs up to Etsuko, regardless of their blatant corporate plagiarism.

Did I forget to mention that they have a Maneki Neko with a wagging paw at the beautifully decorated counter? Not that I'm swayed...

tags: [ culture ] [ vegetarian ]
post 30 on Thursday 17th May 2007 at 09:50

Rise Of The Mumnet

Sisters are logging on for themselvesI have just read on the BBC that young women now outnumber their male counterparts online. Theyíll be spending an estimated $22.1bn on the interweb in 2007 - no doubt on utter tat (for evidence of this please see below). Women also now account for 38% of online gamers.

But this doesnít reflect a seismic shift in women becoming more capable or tech-savvy, nor even does it have anything to do with women, men or gender. Itís to do with the web becoming more accessible, more advertised, more promoted; and is part of rise of the culture of the web. Every body with a face has a web site and women are still only into babies and handbags. I bet the games women play online help them grow, suckle and rear cyber babies.

But the difference between women and men, in real life and online, is that women are more comfortable with social networking. We gossip over coffee. We idle away hours wondering what everyone else is up to. And now we add unknowns to our "friend list" with the hope of idle chit-chat. And with the rise of Web 2.0 applications, such as Facebook, this is easily done online. Meanwhile, the men are frantically searching for women with which to engage themselves in cyber sex.

Iím starting to realise the web world is not much different to the real world. And while it used to be the domain of the technically adept, itís fast becoming a corporate breeding ground in which greedy ethics naturally entice a full societal spectrum. And so now the masses have been admitted. The women want babies, the men want sex. As above, so below. Everybody's happy.

Top Sites For Women Age 18-34 (BBC)

tags: [ culture ] [ domestics ] [ feminist rants ] [ online ]
post 35 on Friday 8th June 2007 at 11:31

How The Boro Got Its Mayor

How the Boro got its MayorFurther to a perhaps obsessive interest in Ray Mallon, Mayor of Middlesbrough; and partly triggered by a speech I received from Ray in my first year at Uni, I have created this short animation, which offers an alternative scenario to Middlesbroughís first manís arrival in this world. I was given a very loose brief for a 30 second web-based animation from my lecturer. Perhaps dangerously loose.

May I also take this opportunity to thank my kind boys who supplied support, voices, tea and audio editing - cheers sweeties! You are AMAZING!

tags: [ animation ] [ boro ] [ culture ] [ jokes ] [ online ] [ ray mallon ] [ university of teesside ]
post 40 on Sunday 1st July 2007 at 21:31

Choose Life, Choose Tabs

Some men, enjoying a tab, in the fiftiesI don't know about you, but I have one of those personalities that will try to oppose any rule put before me when that rule is something that my own logic and freewill are capable of making an informed decision on. We all like to have choices donít we?

Well, Mr. Government, whoever you are, I hope youíre listening, because some of us didnít like smoking in public places anyway, and chose not to. Many of us didn't appreciate a lungful of second-hand smoke to go with our mouthful of soup-du-jour at the restaurant, so naturally curbed our desire to smoke: both for the benefit of the immediate environment, and the heightening of our own senses.

Imagine my delight at learning I can no longer have a cigarette in a public place. Now I shall revel in not doing what I never did, and knowing it was my choice and nothing to do with some stupid law.

Over the last week Iíve been chatting to fellow smokers and been horrified to discover that nearly all of them now intend to give up smoking for good because of the smoking ban. Shocking! Yes, I know it is for the best, but surely this choice is best taken for oneís own benefit?

I really felt for my smoker comrades on learning of the ban: personally, I favour a no-smoking environment and only smoke in public where my roll-up won't make much difference. But people smoke publicly and unashamedly in most parts of the North East and will surely miss having a good tab; although anybody with any sense gave up years ago. And those of us with an emotional attachment to smoking ... well ...

Why is it that the interfering government have to try to control everything we do by slapping a ban on it instead of looking at the broader picture? Maybe a ban has been necessary with the case of smoking Ė itís the only way. But we should have the right to choose what is right or wrong for us, and whether or not to affect other people in this choosing. Or Labour thinks everybody in this country needs forcing and not educating. I suspect their education is lacking: the shocking but highly entertaining "donít smoke" adverts didnít take us any further to realising the error of our ways then? Or was that merely a pre-emptive measure - a forewarning?

I know it's one solution, and I am somewhat on my high horse, but it makes me angry to have choice taken away.

So go on, blacken your lungs and have a tab today, in the comfort of your own home, before theyíre outlawed totally. At least we still have that option.

tags: [ culture ] [ rants ] [ tobac ]
post 43 on Friday 17th August 2007 at 12:44

baby@home

Not the real Baby @Frustrated with a limited range of surnames, a Chinese couple have turned to the internet @ symbol to name their child.

Charmingly, it turns out that our English word "at" sounds just like the Chinese phrase "love him": the father is cited on Washington Post web site, "the whole world uses it to write e-mails and translated into Chinese it means 'love him'".

Wonder what it would mean if the child were a girl? Oh if only I could be bothered to look that up. This might have been doubly interesting a post.

Anyway, the parents of baby "@" are not alone; with only 129 unique surnames distributed through 87% of all surnames; this last year alone, Chinese officials examined 60 million Chinese names containing unfamiliar characters.

So it would seem Chinese people are getting bored and giving their kids a first name to remember them by. Maybe we should send our own answers on a postcard to the Chinese authorities?

If itís modern and original they want:
ASCII Ė because Americans have standards too.
Beta Ė a great name for your second born child.
Popfly Ė donít know why, but it sounds cute.

Got your own great idea? Email it!

tags: [ culture ] [ online ]
post 49 on Thursday 10th January 2008 at 19:24

The South Bank Glossary pt1

This place actually existsGutterance
The mumbled yet scathing articulations of a drunkard South Bankian returning home from Fat Katz night-spot.

Doorstep Challenged
Subhuman species that flock into the foulest of streets to engage in some bizarre social ritual of littering the place up. Usually involves SCOOOOTER!

Land of the Undead
The square in South Bank, where old gits stagger out of Greys with the evening's entertainment/company wrapped loosely in a carrier bag under their arm; soon to be joined by numerable lifeless creatures in the form of the "dawn chorus": urban choristers who instigate the weekly braying down of taxis which drive along Normanby road, and the subsequent outbreaks of violence.

Skip Rat
A gentleman, who makes a living from salvaging "unwanted" items from refuse and waste receptacles, namely skips. Can also be found scavenging public bins when times are lean. The most infamous of South Bank skip rats is known as Bob, who can be sighted regularly around the town being followed by his pet mongrel.

Not Inhabited
Delivery men never knock since the windows got boarded up.

Power Rangers
Want-wit and impoverished neighbours who, after determining they cannot afford the luxury of electricity, attempt to wire their pre-paid meter through yours, thereby stealing the credit on your electricity supply meter. To rub salt into the wounds, the Power Rangers use your power to fuel SCOOOOTER!

Dawn Chorus
At the 4th hour of the morning, the Dawn Choristers begin their pilgrimage to Land of the Undead.

tags: [ class divide ] [ crime ] [ culture ] [ glossary ] [ rants ] [ south bank ]
post 50 on Sunday 20th January 2008 at 13:17

I Can Has Cheeseburger? If You Can Stomach It

In a strange juxtapose to the content of one of my usual posts, I thought I'd appease the meat eaters by highlighting just how amazing I think the World's Biggest Cheeseburger really is. It's great, look at it!

Grown from real cows, this feat of mass production (mass in the sense of bulk, you understand) was created by Bob's BBQ & Grill of Pattaya, Thailand.

Behold its glory, and the gluttonous "omfg I'm about to eat more than a person ever ate before" look on the face of the (assumed) American man in the red shirt.

yum

Do you think he knew his picture was being taken? The man below needed a crash helmet and 7 hours to eat this mammoth.

yum

All this and more on cheese-burger.net.

tags: [ cheeseburger ] [ culture ] [ not vegetarian ]