Monthly Archives: May 2007

Wagamama POTCAWE

Cambridge has in the last few weeks gained a spanking new Wagamama, hiding above All Bar One. At midday on Monday, it being a wet’n’windy Bank Holiday in the traditional fashion, we were banging on the front door begging to be fed (AKA waiting patiently for a youth to tell us we could come in, and tutting about lack of respect when an old man jumped the queue).

We were on a tight timescale – just an hour to eat and escape for the 1pm showing of Pirates of the Etc #3. A nice young man with a biro and a memory took our order promptly, scribbled it on our placemats and in his head, and wandered off. I ordered number 72 – aubergine/potato lumps in breadcrumbs, with a light curry sauce and some Japanese rice – and expected to receive something else entirely.

Meanwhile Chris told us of his exploits cycling around Ireland (well, Connemara). And Andy explained why he spent quite so much time in lifts while in Rome for work (the closest thing to a Faraday cage, apparently). And we drank a bottle of wine between us (except for Melanie, keeper of the car keys).

Happily, all numbers were correctly delivered to the appropriate placemats. My breaded lumps in curry sauce was acceptably tasty.

Avaragado’s rating: number 73

A short skip and a hop through the rain to the Picturehouse and it was time for the Johnny Depp three-hour, hereinafter called POTCAWE, presented in super-crisp digital HD. I miss cue marks already.

There’s no plot to speak of, just a sequence of set-pieces tied together with an unnervingly accurate CGI version of old rope. Much like POTCDMC in all respects. I was glad to see that Keith Richards had more than a one-line throwaway role, but it wasn’t much more. On balance a good thing; the film is long enough as it is.

I had a suspicion there’d be a post-credits scene, and there is, but we didn’t stay for it – I heard about it afterwards. Ah, I’ll google it.

Overall, my enjoyable-toshometer glows a healthy orange-yellow (contrast with POTCTCOTBP’s brilliant white). The sequeliser, however, remains firmly anchored at 2.

Avaragado’s rating: arrrrrrrrrtichokes

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From the Book of Hexadus


programming-sudoku.jpg
Originally uploaded by avaragado.

And Seesaw said unto Nebuknuth, “How shall we know of the apocalypse? Whence cometh the sign foretelling the End Times?”

And Nebuknuth replied, “Dunno, mate, but books about programming Sudoku would seem a pretty good bet.”

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Waterstone’s comedy


waterstones-slavery.jpg
Originally uploaded by avaragado.

“The Abolition of Slavery at Waterstone’s, Cambridge”

I guess they now pay minimum wage.

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All the rage

Most of the usual mob, minus Andy who’s apparently testing a lift in Rome, went to see 28 Weeks Later on Thursday night. I remember seeing the original in a packed cinema, with our group stuck at the front in row 2 – not the best seats for a fast-paced horror film shot in relatively low-res DV. This time we nabbed the prime locations as we were first in a very short queue (and consequently there was a slight lack of atmosphere, sadly).

I’d seen the trailer and was worried that the plot would revolve around the USA saving Britain from the insurgentsinfected – a thinly veiled allegory combined with yo’ da man star-spangled chest-thumping. I was pleased to discover that my concerns were unwarranted. The plot is a little thin, of course – run away! – but hey, it’s zombies in London.

The shots of the deserted city are surreal and amazing. The POV-shots of the infected, the quick cutting, the gore, all very effective.

The gore, yes. I think it’s fair to say that Heinz had a run on tomato ketchup during filming. There is one sequence – if you’ve seen it you’ll know the one I mean – that is just outstandingly, gloriously gory. You have to laugh, really.

I do have a criticism. Yes, I do. Coincidences. That’s all I’ll say. (I have another criticism but it veers towards spoilishness, so I’ll keep quiet. Oh, I could say “but it doesn’t look like that!” I guess.)

I was reading a thread on t’Internet about the film earlier. Londoners on the thread huffed and puffed that in one sequence some characters took an implausible route through the city. It was as if the thread had suddenly been invaded by taxi drivers: “Oof, via Shaftesbury Avenue? You’re ‘avin a larf, aincha? Talk about rage, I’ll give ’em rage. Nah, I don’t go sarf of the river, mate, full of infected. I ‘ad that Danny Boyle in the back of the cab once.”

There was also much shaking of heads regarding the timeline: some buildings, such as the Gherkin, appear in the new film but weren’t built at the time of the first film. These picky-picky comments were hushed with “it’s a film about zombies“.

I must have enjoyed the film. When I got home I boarded up all my doors and windows, turned off the electric and cooked a tin of hoops over a candle.

Avaragado’s rating: 28 leeks

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Maggie Maggie Maggie

This afternoon in the company of my friend Mark I escaped the dull, drizzly wi-fi-enabled noughties and timewarped to July 1983 through the magic of the cinema. A time when Thatcher (Mrs) ruled with her iron handbag and wonky finger, when Tony Blair had just entered parliament, and when, if memory serves, we must have been packing up to move house. We were leaving leafy, suburban, right-wing Broxbourne for Oundle, a genteel town in the Northamptonshire countryside infested with posh young toffs. (No, I didn’t go to the public school.)

The film This is England opens on the last day of the school term. (Because we were moving away from the area, I remember that day vividly. How odd.) It’s non-uniform day, and the main character of the story – 12-year-old Shaun – is picked on as he’s wearing less-than-trendy flares. His dad was killed in the Falklands. The film shows his life over the next few weeks, and to say any more would spoil it.

It’s funny, disturbing, scary and violent. Thomas Turgoose, the actor playing Shaun, is pretty amazing. The hair stylists, make-up artists and fashion designers in the production team deserve awards for their dedication above and beyond to reproducing the hideous fashions of the day. I pity the actors who suffered for their art and actually had their hair done like that. I will overlook the two shots in which (adopts nerd voice) modern satellite dishes were clearly visible (reverts to normal geek voice).

If you like your films gritty, realistic and tattooed, you’ll like this one. It’s superb. (Expats: apparently it has a limited release in the US in July.)

Avaragado’s rating: twiglets

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You’ve been at the computer too long when…

Your dreams feature instant message popups.

Twice last night.

The first was relatively normal: in the dream I was sitting at my PC talking to Chef on the phone. My screen popped up a Skype IM box (yes, it was that detailed) with a bizarre one-line message from Sarah. (It was something like ‘perspective bananas’ – I certainly registered it as odd in the dream.)

The second was more surreal: I was nowhere near a computer, and suddenly a bunch of Trillian-style IM notifications blatted into my field of view at lower right in the traditional way, complete with the appropriate noises. These were from my friend Dan, saying he’d talk to me later. I think reaching for a keyboard to reply, and realising that I was nowhere near a computer, caused a segfault in that particular dream process and my brain dropped me back into what passes for the real world (I guess that’s a Terminal).

I suppose I should be grateful it wasn’t spim.

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Walthamstow, Kentish Town, Denmark

One afternoon last week I sat in the sunshine for an hour sizzling gently; no such luck during the bank holiday weekend just gone, although it was supposedly above average for the time of year. (Does the average include measurements from the ice age? I have no idea. I sometimes imagine that there’s a man with a moustache in a basement – er, a man in a basement with a moustache – er, a moustachioed man in a clean-shaven basement – who daily adds a new row of temperature readings to a stupidly large spreadsheet and distributes updated averages to Her Majesty’s Dominions, where urchins in flat caps scurry between miserable grey concrete carbuncles retying calculation-aiding knots in civil servants’ beards, enabling localised variants of Michael Fish to tell us that it’s a bit parky for the time of year. I also sometimes imagine that I imagine too much.)

This bank holiday weekend brought a trip to London. The magic combination of ‘weekend’ and ‘bank holiday’ ensured that the Cambridge/King’s Cross train transmogrified into a bus near Stevenage and the Northern Line (Bank branch) was running a restricted service (no trains at all). So, since I was seeing a friend in Walthamstow (which sounds like a euphemism but isn’t), I trained to Tottenham Hale instead and tubed to Walthamstow Central for about 1.45. I’m far too embarrassed to mention the off-by-one error I made when touching in my Oyster (another non-euphemism); look, I’m left-handed, OK?

Adam, my chum, met me at the station. We had a cup of tea in an olde Englishe coffee shop (paninis, overpriced modern art for sale and traditional East European immigrant staff) and then wandered through Walthamstow market (“Pahnd a bowl! Evryfin a pahnd!”) and a generic shopping centre (Grafton + hijab). Adam was busy packing to move across Walthamstow (not a euphemism) so I was soon bundled back on the tube to Kentish Town via Euston (not a euphemism), the venue for the main event of the weekend: Chef’s flat-warming.

Chef has bought a compact ground-floor apartment in an estate a few minutes from the tube. The previous owners were apparently two gentlemen intimately familiar with the insides of an Ikea showroom (euphemism). To give it that homely feel Chef has hung an LCD TV on the wall (he doesn’t know much about art but he knows what he likes).

Chef and I were soon joined by Chris, Melanie and Louise (who drove down) and Andy (who trained it a few hours behind me). We absorbed as many of the sun’s feeble bank holiday rays as we could before adjourning to the living room where Chef and Chris provided a Director’s Half-Cut commentary to this week’s Doctor Who episode. Then Cormac, Steph and Keith arrived and the evening dissolved into games, pizzas, alcohol and series two of Extras. (Chris’s photos.)

I think we climbed into assorted sleeping bags at about 3.30, scattered across various rooms. Approximately five hours later Chef rose a toute vitesse and found the bathroom occupied, so he opened the front door and performed a traditional Bulimian opera on his doorstep instead. In several movements.

Chris, Melanie and Louise went home shortly afterwards, once Chef had washed away his vomitary moat and they could leave without performing the long jump. I went back to sleep; I suspect they were home before I woke up again.

Andy and I left at about 10.30. The journey home was smooth until Seven Sisters, when the driver announced that all services between Cambridge and Tottenham Hale were going to Seven Sisters instead, for a laugh probably. Sadly the announcement was a bit garbled and was made about a second before the doors shut, leaving us no time to comprehend it and escape. At Tottenham Hale the truth emerged, we reversed our journey, waited an age for the next tube back to Seven Sisters, and then stood on the platform there for half an hour waiting for the next Cambridge train.

While we were waiting a gabble of about thirty schoolgirls turned up; the dawn chorus but with added ringtones. They flocked around the platform then perched on the next train, which was for Hertford West. A few minutes after peace had once more descended some stragglers turned up; we could tell they were supposed to be with the schoolgirl party as they yah-ok’d in a similar patois and, well, we’d earwigged on a phone conversation a bit earlier when they’d said they were lost. Platform 2, they’d been told, and so here they were. They asked a fellow traveller when “the next train to Liverpool” was. After checking that they meant Liverpool Street and not yer actual Liverpool, they were directed to Platform 1. Turns out that all those schoolgirls were now heading in entirely the wrong direction.

I laughed in vicious, cynical amusement and ranted at Andy about kids today, not one brain cell between them all, etc. Then I remembered that Andy once took the wrong half of the King’s Cross/King’s Lynn splitter train and ended up deep in the fens while actually trying to get to Liverpool. I felt vaguely guilty for a moment and then decided it made it even funnier.

The Cambridge train we eventually boarded was full, so we stood for an hour as various Danes, who appeared to make up most of the carriage, clogged the aisles, drank beer and skåld each other (not a euphemism).

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