2008 — 16 July: Wednesday

Another placeholder. It was a long day, and I need to prepare for a walk later today. Tonight's picture shows Christa on another of our early morning strolls in June 1974:

Christa in June 1974

G'night at 00:12 or so.

Marching orders received... dept.

I'm off to the vicinity of Exton and Warnford noting, with some trepidation, a lot of close-packed contour lines at one point.


The two "Ways", by the way, are South Downs and White, one way or another... Brekkie is being loaded (it's 09:23), lunch has been packed, and I need to swing past a foody shop on the way home. Then, and only then, can I set about re-inserting the video scaler into the stack and regaining access to a TV picture. At least I got a recent lesson last night in how to set it up ab initio which is something I hadn't done for the two years since I bought it, updated its little brainware, and plumbed it in. That's the trouble with complex tasks that are only infrequently necessary. Bit like marriage, I suppose!

By the way, Christa, you'd be interested to hear that the Co-op is now bidding for Somerfield. I was slightly more interested to read this piece since it touched on a favourite film critic of mine:

Kael, whose critical reputation was in its early stages, used Bonnie and Clyde as the opening shot in what turned out to be a war against middlebrow, middle-class, middle-of-the-road taste. Her New Yorker piece began: "How do you make a good movie in this country without being jumped on? Bonnie and Clyde is the most excitingly American American movie since The Manchurian Candidate. The audience is alive to it."

Robert Fulford, in The National Post

Many years ago I had a mug made for Christa, enlivened by the phrase "Kiss, kiss, bang, bang" which Kael had spotted on an Italian film poster and used as the title of one of her books of film criticism. I bought that book in April 1971. The mug came along about five years later:

Kiss, kiss, bang, bang mug

Right! Better get dressed I suppose. Nearly time to hit the road.

Lose some, winsome... dept.

Road has been hit. Contour lines have been manfully mastered — us retired old folk know how to have a good time, trust me. Foody shop has been raided, though I forgot the ham; perils of shopping listlessly, as it were.

Today's small pile of snail mail tells me that I was over-charged for my driving test, and I'm due a refund. (As is everyone who booked a Saturday test since 1st November 2005.) Mind you, they've now changed the law to (again) allow themselves to charge more for Saturday tests but, to be strictly kosher, and because they broke the law as it stood at the time, they tell me "we would like to put it right as quickly as possible". And one of my credit card companies has belatedly realised I haven't been using their card and tells me if I don't use it over the next few months they will be unable to re-issue me with a new one when it expires. Plus a couple of ERNIEs that were for Christa. So I know where I'm off to sometime tomorrow, I guess.

Good God! If you're earning less than £60,000 per year in the UK, you can join the new "rent-to-buy" scam scheme. What a guvmint! My IBM salary (which IBM kept telling me was above market rate and therefore too high to give me any more) never got to £60,000 — but then I worked at IBM Hursley Park which (of course) is an anagram for "risk humbler pay". Meanwhile the chaps who keep an eye on my online data presence glibly assert that my post code is full of professionals and higher management types on £75,000 to £100,000 and that the average house price here is £260,000. Crikey, nearly time for my dry crust and re-used tea-bag. (It's 17:41.)

US CEO to worker pay ratios

To think I used to lose sleep at nights worrying about how little money Sam Palmisano gets! The rich are indeed different from us. (Thanks for the links to one of my spies...)

Somebody needs to explain to me how it can possibly be nearly 34 years since the original release of "Veedon Fleece" (in October 1974).

The next happy pair... dept.

Yelling "Buy me, David!" cyberspatially:

National Lampoon

National Lampoon magazine kept the flame of satire flickering in America in the 1970s and 1980s (though only to a lesser extent in the 90s). Doug Kenney was one of the comic geniuses who kicked it off. (And my cartooning heroine Shary Flenniken was one of the artists who regularly added extra lustre with her long-running Trots & Bonnie strip.) So this is a well-nigh irresistible DVD and book combo for me, at least.

I remember keeping Christa and Peter waiting patiently for me in a couple of Manhattan comics stores in the early autumn of 1996 while I sifted — usually on my hands and knees — through small sets of back-issues in dusty back-rooms. (Crazy Englishman!) Now here's every single issue on one DVD-ROM. Magic! Both these covers refer back to the classic cover of the January 1973 issue, by the way. Researching that is left as an exercise for the reader.

My final set of recent acquisitions were all musical items:

CDs etc

Being able to buy the two Respighi CDs for £1-99 struck me as a bit of a bargain. I wanted to get hold of the music used on Joe Kane's DVD Video Essentials test disc to accompany the shots of the Shuttle launch, and was annoyed how long it took me to identify the music. I blame Christa's absence, as it's exactly the sort of thing she would have known — all the Beckers were very musically talented... The Alan Parsons contains the original version of the first album — I was never such a fan of the remixed version that first appeared on CD in 1987. (Parsons, of course, was the engineer on Dark Side of the Moon which has to be one of the albums of the last century.) "Now hear this!" is the latest CD on The Word magazine, and the "Holy Cow!" is a story in that magazine about a live performance of Atom Heart Mother a month ago. Would have been nice to go and hear Ron Geesin live, and Dave Gilmour took part, too. As for the Zombies and the Colin Blunstone... my interest has been re-sparked having heard Colin and Rod Argent interviewed recently on the BBC.

Now I really must go and put back together the jigsaw that is my A/V system otherwise I'll have to forego the next episode of "Still Game" tomorrow evening. Plus I need a cuppa.