Tales from the Cultural Wilderness - Journal

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2002-05-13 Entry: "Weekend Snippets"

Saturday brought what was supposed to be the last major shopping trip before I go - it may not be, but it was a vague attempt.

First job saw me renewing car insurance - apparently you can't get insurance for just a month. Instead, I had to get a years insurance and then cancel it after a month - this to me seems particularly stupid. It may just be the broker I went to, as it is presumably possible to get insured for short periods of time (like a day, a week, until the next full moon or whatever). I mean, people must do it, mustn't they? Anyway, everything was sorted out fairly easily as the broker was able to handle the cancellation - I don't have to do another thing and the policy gets cancelled after a month.

Then, dashing out to Reading, I found my usual free car park had big "This car park is for customers of this retail park only. Anyone who isn't a customer is liable to a 30 pound fine." signs. Now, I'm not sure how they could possibly check whether you're in the retail park or not, but to be safe I went into Comet and perused the shelves for something I might actually want. I ended up going for a Civ 3 strategy guide and a copy of Partition Magic 7 which didn't have a pricetag on it. After twenty minutes of standing at the counter waiting for the sales staff to work out where they stored the software that was supposed to be in the box, I gave up and just took the strategy guide - so removing the software to prevent theft also apparently prevents sales.

With my Comet purchase making me feel that I had a good case against the evil sign people, I set off into the heart of Reading to look for birthday presents for the parents. After checking HMV and snagging the first of the obscure CDs I'd been tasked with (and a sidetrip into Blackwells to buy more books that I don't have time to read), I proceeded towards Maplin, stopping in all DVD selling stores on the way. When I finally reached my goal, I perused the catalogue in the hope it'd be easy to spot, and then asked a sales guy. He proved completely clueless and set out to open a box and look at some connectors. Now, all I was after was a PC power supply that'd work on both 110 and 240 Volt power supplies (so I wouldn't have to find one in the USofA when my shipped goods arrived), but apparently, a cursory glance of a single power supply in a box meant I got a negative response to my enquiry. Presuming that the sales staff were trained monkeys, I abandoned my quest and left the store.

This left me with a few more hours to kill looking for presents. Finally going wild in the other HMV saw me well stocked and ready for mindless filmage. However, the Warners weren't being accomodating, and I had an hour and a half to kill. Having exhausted the shopping opportunities available to me, I trekked out of the center and into the Hogshead, where over a couple of pints of weak Canadian lager (Labatts I think), I tucked into the latest Pratchett paperback, "Thief of Time." It didn't start well, with very little actual humourous moments in the early pages (it has since picked up, and is proving to be one of the better ones).

Filling my allotted 90 minutes, I trundled back to the cinema, where I indulged in a hotdog and forgot that a large drink in the Warners is actually twice the size of a large drink at the Showcase, meaning I had more Coke than any three people could comfortably drink.

Settling into the film, I was filled with foreboding, as the bunch of people behind me were determined to shout things at each other along the row during the adverts, and then during the trailers. Luckily they just about shut up during the actual film so it wasn't all bad. I couldn't tell you what the trailers were - as usual I'd forgotten them by the time the film ended (no Star Wars, no Spiderman - there was a brief Men In Black 2 trailer, but I'd seen it before, and it's not as if they have to sell that film to me).

Anyway, the film was "Dog Soldiers" and much fun it was too. Basically it's a werewolf film; and it's a little bit like one of the living dead films, possibly "Return of the Living Dead" - the one where they're trapped in the farm house anyway, the one remade with Tony Todd and that telepath out of Babylon 5. Anyway, a bunch of soldiers are trapped in a deserted farm house, with the werewolves outside. They manage to keep the werewolves in shadow most of the time, so they don't come across as totally ridiculous or cheap (as this is a fairly low budget film). There are a couple of really cheesy moments (the transformation scene straight out of a Dr Jeckyl and Mr Hyde movie, or a Bugs Bunny cartoon of the same story), and the plot twists aren't really all that complex (or particularly hard to spot), but otherwise it's a good film.

Saturday evening's attempt at television was an IQ test - which I'm sure had people up and down the country on the edge of their seats! Families must have been arguing about the answer to question 17 or whether Carpenter was a singer or a painter. Or they could just have decided it was terminally dull and turned off.

Sunday started with me catching up on the lackluster grand prix qualifying performance from the day before. Then, with sister in tow, I visited the remaining grandparent (two were seen during the last month's blackout period). We skipped the race (as I was taping it and would have missed the start), but put the football on during dinner. As father and brother were at the match we vainly tried to pick them out of the mass of spectators but failed dismally. The first ninety minutes were quite a close match. Then, right at the start of extra time, Norwich scored. They then decided they didn't have to play anymore, which is why Birmingham equalised twelve minutes later and then outplayed them right up until the end. It went to penalties, but Norwich had already thrown it away, so missing attempts two and three just hammered the final nails in.

This, obviously, would be a bad thing, if it weren't for the fact that brother and father are both away from today, so hopefully the next time we see them they'll have recovered from the defeat and won't be rehashing / replaying it all the time. Well, my father won't. My brother will probably still be replaying it at the start of next season!

Finally getting home, I managed to squeeze in the Grand Prix before the West Wing started. I sat there incredulous as Barichello moved out of the way to let the sister Ferarri through just before the line. I still haven't managed to come up with a suitable punishment for the farce the team made of the result (and I'm guessing the boos of the crowd will have sent a stiff message). The FIA have decided to investigate the matter, but the hearing isn't until the 26th of June or July, which is frankly ages away, and this should be sorted out a.s.a.p. The best solution I could come up with was to let the result stand, but have Ferarri forfeit all constructors points they got from the race. I'm not sure you could punish the drivers for a team decision (although Michael should really have disobeyed and not overtaken - not that he ever would have, and not that I really believe his statement that it was a team decision and he had nothing to do with it).

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