Music:Gary Glitter - "Another Rock and Roll Christmas"
I originally meant to post these remaining bullet points this time last week. Hey ho. As a consequence, it's no longer marysiak's birthday and it is now sbisson's. Simon also lives one of the most fascinating lives on my Friends list, but in a completely different way.
Some people get tunes running through their head which they try to release through singing; I get a pattern which I must trace with my pointer on the screen and with my finger on my leg. Let me see if I can release this pattern through a GIP. I call it "the wobbly beaker"; time to give the cuboctahedron a rest.
Coolest thing to happen for a while, which I regret not plugging sooner, is wwwwwwwwwwwwwww, with fantastic obscure-game-related articles excerpted from The Economist. The most recent one mentions mahabis, alternatively transliterated as Mhebiss, the local Iraqi version of Up Jenkins. Hugely nifty; many thanks to the anonymous but easily-guessable perpetrator.
dr4b points to Five Geek Social Fallacies. I'm not sure whether I either agree or disagree with them yet, but I find the piece very well-argued, not least by the way it defends the fallacious behaviours and seeks very modest changes to improve geek behaviour.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is set to come out in an Imax edition, hurrah! There has been much talk of a Yorkshire HP fanmeet which has never come to fruition; I formally call one now for the first showing of the movie on the Imax screen at the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television in Bradford. Date: hopefully not too many weeks after the small big-screen launch on June 4th.
I wonder if there's a useful similarity to be drawn between the fact that one of the NCAA championship game participants, Oklahoma, didn't win their conference and the fact that the top European club football trophy winners, AC Milan, didn't win their national league? I throw my hands up in the air; NCAA football is caught up in its own hypertraditionalist pants as it is.
Aren't weblogs rubbish? People start them with the highest of intentions but all but abandon them quickly. Well, if top British science/computers/internet producer/presenter Gareth Jones can only manage 9 entries in 12 months, it must be true. (Unfair, I admit; we still like busy Gaz Top.)
You are likely to get between 22 and 33 minutes of enjoyment out of Fleep (via groovymother, I think), a 44-episode mono strip cartoon. Each strip has six panels and stands alone with a joke or a cliffhanger. The story does just enough to make the ending work really well.
If the next Comic Relief sees a one-night revival of The Goodies with their classic three-seat tandem, teaming up with the Two Ronnies and Cannon and Ball, then they would all ride one of these (via deepfun) to get to their comic misadventures.
His blog 2 (whoo-hoo!) has a cute countdown to Christmas, though not quite like the one Roland Rat did 17 years ago. Will he really go all Xmas 2003 without hearing "I Believe In Father Christmas"? Nevertheless, there are a couple of important Christmas rituals he omitted.
Last Saturday's "Sports Review of the Year", as it is traditionally formally titled, is a fixture in the calendar as one of the highest-profile, best-organised review shows of the year. This edition jammed in a fiftieth-edition meta-retrospective, interesting as much for who didn't turn up (no Daley Thompson! No Steve Ovett!) as who did and consequently only had time for quite a small number of sports, with only the most tangential of mentions for the traditional minority interests. Admittedly Neil Hodgson the motorcyclist and Pippa Furnell the horse-rider bought their sports some time by making the top five phone-poll, but that was really about it. As happens every year, the whole show overran; this time, the overrun lottery pays out for 14 minutes. They didn't use one of their traditional tunes, either - the one that was used for that TV show from 1995-ish about people joining the SAS. I may have to dum-diddle-um it in a PhonePost.
The next annual ritual is The Christmas Radio Times - the big double-issue with two weeks' TV listings. Now forthcoming TV and radio listings used to be very jealously guarded proprietary information, leading to the BBC and the ITV network each having their own magazines, national monopolies with seven-digit circulations (almost seven million in 1960 - almost nine million in '55). The Christmas specials sell about twice the regular circulation these days, so the Christmas Radio Times used to be quite a major national event. This year it's now more a BBC puff promotion piece than ever and TV listings are everywhere. (All things considered, an improvement.) The TV schedules this year look broadly rubbish, except that (a) Red Dwarf IV is being repeated every night on BBC 2 (episode 5 0050, episode 6 0110 on Tuesday 23rd!) and I'm finally going to get to see Galaxy Quest on Boxing Day. Hurrah!
The last - and best - annual ritual from my childhood is the Annual Special Milk Order. Our neck of the woods still has a milkman making six-days-per-week deliveries; despite the profession's adulterous reputation, our milkman is a fine, upstanding chap who does an honest job under all weather conditions and works for a dairy who supplies excellent backup. However, he takes December 25th, December 26th and January 1st off, or time in lieu, and every year delivers a note inviting us to order extra deliveries on December 24th and 31st respectively. This is the third great other Christmas ritual, because the notes advertise all the other wonderful things that the milkman can deliver but never habitually does. Cream! Soft drinks! Butter! Yoghurt! Bread! In some years, potatoes, even!
What is interesting about this is the way that the document used to describe this has changed over the years. Originally it was a simple sheet of black ink on white - stock in trade for a printer. Later years saw the evolution of this into a beautifully colourful matrix; we were invited to order these extras every day of the Christmas fortnight, with the thirty or forty possibilities sorted and grouped by colour. Technically these were probably always available all along, but the very concept of ordering something non-milk from the milkman always had the "Christmas treat" feel about it.
These days, though. the milkman is on the wane; it's cheaper to buy milk from a supermarket, the milk lasts longer, has been stored in a freezer cabinet (rather than out in the occasional sun) and, whisper it, plain tastes better in the first place. Every couple of months we inadvertently get a bottle which has clearly been sitting in the dairy for a day already and is delivered pre-soured for our convenience, too. Now I am happy to pay a premium for the convenience of delivery to the doorstep and am happy to see the milkman tradition continue, but delivering bad milk from time to time isn't good for business. Returning to the Christmas milk ritual, this year's order sheet is just a roughly-torn half sheet of A4, a mere two columns (one for the 24th, one for the 31st) and possibly 15 items listed compared to a peak of more than twice that. John the milkman probably produced it by himself.
So goes the wonder, joy and prestige of the Annual Special Milk Order. So goes the single greatest magazine of the year every year, the Christmas Radio Times. What's next? Can it be conceivable that the days of the Sports Review of the Year are numbered?
Unusual house numbers are inherently cool. In the UK, triple-digit numbers are uncommon and four-digit ones rare; in the US, the one-digit and two-digit ones outlie. However, a Friends seriously quoted an address of 112 1/2 (Street Name) - yes, as in 112.5, as in 112½. If it really works then that's the coolest factual street address I've yet seen.
One of these years, I will learn that writing my Christmas cards is a reasonably big job which takes many hours. Sadly, this was not the year I learned that lesson. I have been reminded that much as I dislike working under time pressure, it's really the only way I ever get anything done.
Not a million miles behind Google in the "best thing ever in the history of things" competition, as far as regular LiveJournalists are concerned, is Joule, the "who's beFriended you?" grapher. It's not perfect (I would be very impressed if it could spot when defriending/friending pairs are caused by people renaming their journal and so providing continuity) but it does its job tremendously well. I'd like to see a similar list kept track of my outgoing Friendships over time, too, at least as much as a measure of my own attitude to my LiveJournal as anything else. Ideally I would hope that LiveJournal would eventually track such data itself rather than relying upon Marnanel's resources.
I keep a record of who I send cards to each year - don't we all? - more as a reflection of who I know and care about at any particular time than anything else. Now friendships can neither be defined by Friendships nor cardswapships, but it would seem a shame to waste good data. It would be a fascinating but laborious exercise to produce a similar sort of far-longer-term cardships (by analogy to Friendships) over time graph - as good a way of mapping the "who knows whom" / "who cares about whom" relationship space in the real world as any. Very interesting post within the static_zombie syndie feed about the extent to which a sent card is an effective reaffirmation of friendship or not; I guess there is as much difference in the way that people treat the significance of card-sending as there is in the way that people treat the significance of their journal and journal-inspired Friendships.
Being a great big dork and loving it, this year I sent a card to LiveJournal. I addressed it to all the staff by name (plus David the intern as mentioned in lj_dev) and also all the clusters as well. This latter decision was mostly so that it was addressed to both Jesus and Santa and I could comment on how wrong that was. Very dorky joke indeed, but someone had to do it...