Monthly Archives: May 2006

Bath Blood Cow King’s Fleur

Another busy, busy day yesterday.

Strode purposefully through the rain (under an umbrella) to the Bath House at about 1pm for lunch with Lynda and Andy. We were joined by Chris, Melanie and Louise shortly afterwards. The occasion: proper grown-up entertainment.

The Willy Russell musical Blood Brothers was on at the Corn Exchange all week. We had tickets for the Saturday matinee. Theatrical know-nothing that I am, I had only the vaguest notion. Brothers, yeah, musical, yeah, Educating Rita bloke, yeah.

Apparently Linda “Yes, those Nolans” Nolan is one of the stars, but we got the understudy for her role. Good, actually: she was impressive. Belting set of lungs. Not so keen on the narrator, who was a bit too Vic Reeves Club Singer for me.

I enjoyed it a lot, despite occasional spoonfuls of sugar and slices of cheese. I suspect we’ll be mentioning “shoes on the table” and giggling for some time to come. I didn’t join in the standing ovation at the end; it felt a little forced, like feeling obliged to buy a raffle ticket when someone accosts you at the beer festival. But lots of clapping, yes.

Unexpected humour (a): the people in the row in front of us who were jumping in fright for the most unfrightening of things, like lighting changes, musical cues and naughty words.

Unexpected humour (b): a kid sitting not too far away from us, possibly a little young for the show, going “Eurgh!” in a romantic bit. I think he was giggling at the swearing too.

Unexpected humour (c): in a scene set in a classroom, the teacher is supposed to slam a desk lid on a student’s finger. Sadly the desk was the wrong way round in this performance; he tried to quickly rotate it but the game was up. A few cast members smiled at each other (maybe they did it deliberately to liven things up a little?)

Avaragado’s rating: a bag of gobstoppers

We had a post-musical cocktail at The Cow, joined incidentally by some members of the cast. Well, they were on another table. Chris shamefully failed to sing of shoes on the table within their earshot.

Then it was dinner at No. 1 King’s Parade. Yeah, not bad. I don’t remember the last time I was there – possibly a year or more ago – but I reckon the menu was longer. Food seemed about the same quality though.

Surprisingly, by 9:15 we were done and the others headed for taxis home. But.. but.. 9:15? On a Saturday night? Perhaps it was another caffeine kick from yesterday’s Espresso Martini (which kept me up until after 2am) but it seemed wrong to be going home when it was still relatively light.

So I texted RP. Turns out he was just leaving home for the Fleur, so I tagged along. Hadn’t been there for ages. Chatted to a few people with RP, had a few more drinks, then went home at a more sensible hour for a Saturday night.


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The seven-hour lunch

Met Shazzie and Evie just after twelve, and we sauntered into town for a natter and some food. That was the plan, anyhow.

We popped into the Michaelhouse Cafe on Trinity Street for a cup of tea. The idea of this place seems to be: even if they’re going into a church just for tea and gossip, hey, they’re still going into a church – big ups to teh godz! Well, maybe not the last bit. I think cafes should branch out into religion. Oh, hang on, McDonalds. Scrub that.

Shazzie was keen to get some new clothes so the mysterious ladies’ shops were next. Sadly nothing fitted me. (Note that the previous sentence was a joke. In fact I bought a nice new skirt. Oh god, no. That was a joke too.)

We eventually lunched at about 3pm, in Ta Bouche. Evie slept throughout. I rashly plumped for an Espresso Martini to go with my spag pesto, which meant that I certainly wouldn’t be dozing off any time soon.

Unlunching at the scandalous time of about 4:30, more shopping was required. We spent the next hour in Kookai. Madam tried on all of the shop. Young madam scampered about under what could loosely be called my supervision; more than once she barged her way into other occupied changing cubicles. I think I may get myself an “I’m not the father” T-shirt for just such an occasion.

Buggy suitably laden with about a week’s output from a roomful of Vietnamese child labourers, we decided to sit on the grass by Castle Mound for an hour or so to let Evie run about and tire herself out.

I got back home from lunch at about 7:30.

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“It’s the Fibonacci sequence, just out of order”

So, just some numbers then.

Let me say immediately that I have not read The Da Vinci Code, and have no plans to do so. I didn’t exactly plan to see the film either, but I was invited and it got me out of the flat on a breezy, drizzly Saturday afternoon.

Meh. I was going to title this post “The Da Vinci Blowed”, but everyone’s doing that.

In an interview the other day Ian McKellen said it was a “talkie”. He meant not that it used the wondrous new synchronised sound and vision system taking the motion picture world by storm, but that it consisted of lots of scenes with people jabbering away at each other. And so it does. And does and does and continues to do for most of the film.

Endless expository chat. Flashbacks galore, some to the characters’ youths, some to various historical events, and some to what happened earlier in the film. Very well shot, nicely meshed into the scenes flashed back from, but dear lord you quickly become desperate for Bruce Willis to abseil through a stained glass window and uzi everyone into a mangled, bloody pulp.

That’s not to say it’s all bad. Ian McKellen does his best, as does Paul Bettany as the albino self-basting monk. It’s actually quite an interesting story. Fiction, slightly swivel-eyed, but interesting nonetheless. I successfully avoided laughing out loud at something not intended as a joke (nothing specific, I was just expecting to at some point).

I did, however, correctly guess too many plot revelations. This is unusual for me. It suggests that (a) I have suddenly acquired useful new skills, (b) the film went for the obvious at every turn, (c) I had too much time to think rather than watch, and/or (d) it’s some conspiracy related to Opus Dei.

Whatever, the next albino monk I see shuffling in my direction will get a Paddington stare.

(Oh, the funniest part was before the film started: two ladies were escorted from their seats by a member of staff, the rightful ticketholders having arrived to find their seats occupied. Turns out the ladies were there a day early. I think they were relocated rather than booted out.)

Avaragado’s rating: A rancid old ovine

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Champagne and chips

Last night we went to Bruno’s Brasserie on Mill Road to celebrate Louise’s birthday. None of us had been there before, but we’d heard contradictory reviews. It was time to make our own minds up.

Shazzie joined us, having obtained a note from her daughter allowing her out. Consequently there was the drinking of the champagne. It seems to be her new tipple of choice. Expensive tastes, these rawists.

Strange courgette-based starter. I suspect several lemons died during the preparation thereof. It met with my approval.

I had a very tasty mushroom risotto for my main course. Shazzie had one of the specials, a “superfood salad” it was labelled, but minus feta and plus chips. You can take the girl out of Hull…

I shocked all present by having a dessert – cheesecake. All ingredients present and correct, you can’t really go wrong. Well, I could, but they couldn’t.

Since Chef was custodian of the wine list we ended up at £50 a head. And me, dolescum.

Avaragado’s rating: some watercress

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All-new but no different

Now that I have a few more hours in the day to devote to random stuff, I’ve reinstalled my server. I’ve switched from Red Hat 9 to Gentoo 2006.0, which is quite a change.

It’s been an interesting, but moderately tedious, exercise. Given the hardware involved (my old desktop PC at Tarantella, a Dell PIII 500, liberated when we got the chop) the tedium is entirely down to the long build times – Gentoo packages are almost all source-based. I naturally considered the hand-me-down approach – buy new fast PC, turn current PC into server, eject old server onto street – but given my top-secret plan to buy a Mac Mini I don’t think I should spend even more money right now. (I’d also have to reinstall all my PC apps, a special kind of hell I’m happy to avoid.)

The Gentoo Portage system is pretty amazing. I might rethink that opinion when I start hitting bugs, but today it’s working fine. Any program you want seems to be sitting there ready to be downloaded, configured, built and installed with one command (along with all its dependencies). But it’s not for newbies, and comes complete with rope and copious noose-tying instructions.

The trick now is to keep the whole thing relatively up-to-date. It’s easy to do: one command syncs your cache of the package definitions with the master list, and another command updates everything that needs updating. But it’s not something I particularly want to blindly automate. For one thing, certain config files are “protected” so the portage system doesn’t clobber your changes with its own (post-install, you run a command to merge the affected files in a semi-automated you-do-grok-diff-don’t-you kind of a way).

Anyway, enough nerdliness.

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I’m from the International Monetary Fund and I’m here to help

When Ethan Hunt says he works for the IMF, I think nternational onetary und, not mpossible ission orce. But anyway. I imagine it’s just me.

I am slightly ashamed to say that I enjoyed MI3. Tosh, naturally, and the scientoloon’s career high is still Risky Business in my humble opinion. But with flavour-of-the-moment JJ Abrams as a writer and director, and ditto Philip Seymour Hoffman as chief villain, it’s turned out a cut above the normal dross. Maybe a paper cut rather than a full-on blood-letting, but it beat my expectations and that can only be a good thing.

Oh, Simon Pegg’s in it, and very good he is too. Also present are various bits of Rome that we recognised from our visit last year.

Avaragado’s rating: one grain of rice

Good news, everyone: Chef’s got a Flickr account.

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Wherein Avaragado relearns just how dumb Adobe can be

I’ve got about 6000 photos squirrelled away — previously in Adobe Photoshop Album 1.0, now in Photoshop Elements 4.0 (well, the trial version anyhow).

My problem: I want to be able to do a simple thing. I want a subset of the gazillion tags I’ve added to those 6000 photos to appear automatically when I upload to Flickr. Please god, don’t make me re-tag.

The solution: well, there’s yer EXIF/IPTC/XMP nonsense, isn’t there. Flickr speaks some or all of those. So All I Need To Do™ is to ensure that the tags I want Flickring are all IPTC’d in the photos I upload.


Elements has a “Write Tags to File” command. Which is a true description: any tags on the image at that time are written to the file in both IPTC and XMP formats. But Adobe in its infinite wisdom made the oh-so-brain-dead decision to leave existing tags in the file alone, “just in case”.

What does that mean? It means that if I add a tag, write the tags to the file, then remove the tag, and write the tags to the file again, then the tag I clearly don’t want in the file appears in the file. It is not possible to remove that tag from the file in Elements. See how ranty I am by the inclusion of both bold and italic!

OK, I think. I can work around this. Never use that menu option, clearly, as it clobbers the file for all eternity. Instead there’s an Export option that makes a copy of the file and writes the tags in the copy, not the original. Great, I’ll use that. Slightly more pain, but it’ll do.

Except… at certain not-very-well-understood-by-me times, Elements decides to write the tags to the file anyway. This seems to be when you do something outrageous like, you know, edit the image in Elements itself.

So woe betide you if you edit an image post-tagging, as you’re lumbered with those tags (or a superset) until the sun goes pop or, less likely, Adobe discovers a clue.

Where does this leave me? I downloaded a free tool called PixVue that adds some Windows shell extensions to allow you to add/edit/remove the whole EXIF/IPTC/XMP smorgasbord, on one file or many at once. I can at the very least now strip unwanted tags from the files that Elements has clobbered, assuming I can find them.

I suspect I’ll continue to use Elements, as most of the time it works pretty well. But, sigh, I’ll prop it up using PixVue. Dumb, dumb, dumb.


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