Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Stop this madness

Dramatic developments in Secret Santa-gate. There's been a lot of chatter on the networks and some frantic shuttle diplomacy at a very high level (seriously; senior members of staff meeting in dark corners throughout Friday trying to find a resolution, apparently).

A decision has been taken to allow people to opt into Secret Santa and to allow those on a temporary contract to take part... but they're still banned from the Christmas party. A major climbdown, according to one.

Many agents died bringing you this information.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Santa clauses

Here we go again, it's Secret Santa time at work. I don't know the official rules of Secret Santa, but I do understand its principles.

There's a bit about not spending too much. A few years ago the limit was set at a stellar £30 - the reasoning being that rather than buy 6 people £5 presents you spend £30 on one person.

Then there's the bit about generating a sense of gentle Christmas jollity. A couple of years ago we had wish lists because someone got really upset with the benign fun throwaway novelty I bought them the year before.

There's the community spirit. This year it's being centrally organised. We've had an email circular about The Rules; everyone is automatically opted in, so everyone goes into the hat. Then a draw will be made, but you're not under any obligation to buy the person you draw a present.

Brilliant. So when the draw happens, people who have willingly participated will give a present, and there's every chance the recipient will be someone who has chosen not to be involved. The generous will miss out, whilst the tight arses gain. This'll get everyone in the Christmas spirit.

Everyone? well, not everyone, because only permanently contracted staff are allowed to be involved. Those on temporary contracts, even those who have been working for us for months, no matter how willing they are to be involved, are banned.

I feel a revolution coming on.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Character building

There’s this horrible concept of ‘being deep’. People in reality TV shows claim to be ‘deep’ or that they ‘like to get deep’ sometimes. This is assumed to mean that they like to get a little conceptual and think about what things truly mean.

I’m coming to the conclusion that people are built in layers. When babies are born the hospital people do an APGAR test; it’s actually done twice, the first time most babies score at least 8 out of 10, and for the second test they’re expected to get a cracking 10 out of 10. It’s basically an assessment of skin colour, number of legs, heads etc. It’s the only thing you can truly assess, it’s the only layer they have.

This is pretty much all there is to a baby. They feed on liquid and liquid comes out the other end. It’s a simply little ecosystem. Then a cold might come along; they sneeze and snot comes out; this is laid on top of the liquid-in-liquid-out concept. Then they become more aware of their surroundings and react to things around them. Then they recognise people they know, or will make different noises to indicate tiredness over nappy or feeding. This evolves until speech eventually comes along. When they start feeding on solids, carrot goes in; orange things come out, but the viscosity changes depending on their milk intake, or there may be variations resulting from sickness. It gets harder to isolate why things are happening.

Millie has started teething and she has a cold and a bit of conjunctivitis; because she’s at that age, its winter, she’s at nursery and in contact with other babies. She can wake up, but we don’t know for sure why, it could be nappy, cold, food, conjunctivitis, teeth. So she now has Medicied to help her sleep, eye drops for the conjunctivitis, CalGel for her teeth, Sudacreme for her nappy, and albus oil for her cold. It’s another layer on top of everything else she’s developed over the last six months.

As things progress, more layers will be added – biological, sociological, economic, psychological, physiological and so forth. Which all leads to the conclusion that TV reality contestants do have the capability of being ‘deep’; going back through the layers that they’ve built over the years. The ultimate conclusion of this soul-mining of course, is to find that they’re a bag of bones which is full of shit.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Ashes to the ashes

The Ashes start this week. Ah, the Summer of 05, who could forget it? Flintoff, the captain, y'know the one with the pointy nose, the slightly tubby blonde chap, the bloke with the shaven head who did that reverse swing thing. Was Monty Panasar in the Ashes team?... yeah, probably. I was totally there with The Boys.

Inevitably, there's been a lot of hype surrounding the series, which has sparked a degree of interest deep inside me. Thing is, I've been told that Australia is a long way away, meaning they're a day ahead of us and have to play at night just to keep going.

You can follow the action on SKY throughout the night. But there can be few people who can reverse their lives to be on Australian time without actually being in Australia. Most people, like me, will probably watch the first over at about 11.30pm then go to bed upon realising that every advert break will be promoting a lateral thigh trainer. The actual TV watching nation will predominantly be men with a penchant for staying up all night who don't spend their time texting Babestation asking the models to do things that are strictly prohibited by OfCom. Only for the dedicated, then.

You could at least follow the action from the warmth of your bed on Radio Five Live and Radio 4 longwave. I'm not sure why both are covering it. Perhaps Radio Five do it in a regional accent. Failing that, you could request a text of the score from the BBC at a time convenient to you.

Or, you could watch the highlights the next evening on Sky or the BBC, but you'd have to wait a full twelve hours after the close of play. This is better than reading it in the papers who will be reporting the first day's play just as the second day's play is finishing.

It'll be an Ashes for the dedicated, those of us on the margins will be following from some considerable distance. Which, given that it's likely to end in pretty humiliating defeat, will allow us to claim that we never really cared about it in the first place.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Reclaim The Streets

Working at home today meant I was unfortunate enough to stumble upon the GMTV magazine show LK Today, which is complicit in a fraud that engulfs all the creative industries.

Basically, the creative industries need to continuously reinvent their products in order to maintain their income stream. The product is so disposable, the industries can't afford to stay still. The thing is, customer expectations move quicker than the changing trends; people expect the New Beatles on a weekly basis. This is why the music industry basically veers from guitar music to electronic music and back again even though the music press will insist that its post-industrial-krautrock-riotgrrl-shoegazing-jazz-funk-trip-hop. I mean, Klaxons are neo-rave, NEO-R? A? V? E?

The fashion industry is slaved to the same cycles; it has to find new ways of representing the same things. LK Today is a platform on which these ideas are presented unquestioned. Even if they did say 'Are you sure this is influenced by early Byzantine masonry tooling because it doesn't half look like a pair of jeans held together with pegs'. The resident expert will give the Pavolvian response '... and if you throw on a pashmina and pair of sling-backs its a great evening look.'

Today they proudly announced that the Chav look was in, which might surprise Chav-wear magnate Dave Whelan who's £200 million JJB sports empire is basically built on selling Ecko hoodies to faux-gangsta teenagers. Along with some awkward in-studio models they proceeded to scan through a series of stills of Caprice with her hood up and Lilly Allen (great examples, apparently).

"Who's this", said Lorraine Kelly, who's mumsy image hides a murky seedy catalogue of sexual depravity. "This", said resident expert, "is [alpha-chavs] Mike Skinner and Lady Sovereign. But they really haven't got the look, they've really overdone it".

Haven't got the look? They are the bleedin' look. They invented the bloody look. Good god, what is the world coming to?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Carry on working

In conversation with a colleague about a woman who we met at a corporate schmooze.

"... she kept showing me pictures of her cat posed doing different things; one of him helping her work, one of him doing the washing up, that sort of thing. His name's Bilbo."

"She's a Lord of the Rings obsessive, her house is called Rivendell"

"She'd definitely been drinking, she was completely Legolas."

Later in the day, during a marketing meeting we were discussing changing trends within the business;

"We seem to be attracting many more women, especially younger women, we're not sure how it's happened."

"Yes, we do seem to be achieving a high degree of young female penetration."

Ooh missus!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Bland values

This charmer has recently been suspended from the Tory party for circulating a racist poem to her Tory mates and, it seems, to one bleeding heart Liberal who dobbed her in. Ellenor Bland is not a racist, she says, although evidently her husband must be, after all it was all his fault, which should make dinner tonight somewhat frosty.

Like most racists, who, in justification for their actions, will also claim they know lots of "the blacks", Bland said that she didn't know why there was a lot of fuss about a bit of humorous name calling, after all, people call her a 'short blonde twit'.

... except of course, the poem was offensive stereotyping and this is an obvious statement of fact.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Phones 4 me

I'm no technological numpty. I embraced digital DJ-ing, iPods and the Internet fairly early. Some technology is, quite frankly, beyond me; mobile phones in particular. Phones are rude, I don't like them, they interrupt what you're doing. I don't consider a mobile phone as a desirable thing to have, it's just a necessary evil.

When my old one packed up I checked out the Orange website where a handful of phones met my criteria - a) I could afford it, b) I could phone people on it. Having ruled out about 3 phones from their range, I needed to narrow it down further; a camera - yep I could use that, 3G, MP3, Java capable, polyphonic ring tones... it all sounds terribly good, but for I all know this could be the equivalent of telling me that one of the features of buying an iron is that it has a plug on it.

So, I handed myself over to the Internet masses; other people know, and care, about phones. Surely I could get some guidance from Google. Sure enough "Sony Ericsson K610i" returns no less than 2,370,000 references.

I found reviews with phrases like:

"Display is made by TFT technology, earlier on it was a TFD-matrix. Diagonal was slightly increased, from now on it is 1.9 inches."
"you will find a Li-Pol battery BST-37 with the capacity of 900 mAh"
"Though these devices made one more step forward – user is able to run two Java-applications at a time and switch between them. This may come in handy, in case you use an ICQ-like mobile client."
If I was to use an ICQ-like mobile client this was the phone for me, so in the end I though fuck it, it looked pretty, so I bought it. So far I have phoned and texted people and taken a few photos, but only as a test. I can vouch that it's been terribly good at all these things, and the Li-Poi battery has used all its 900mAh.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Do you want bits in it

During our time in Harrogate, we went to a curry house that was recommended to us. A recommendations from someone who could only have ever visited one restaurant in the town. It didn't help that the recommendation was given to P, a very beautiful blonde girl who effortlessly attracts slightly plump account managers that will say pretty much anything (including recommending ropey restaurants) to strike up a conversation (including denying the existence of wives or children).

"WADDAYAWANT?" barked the waiter in a thick, barely comprehensible, Indian accent. It took us by surprise and he barked it again. This set us up for a catalogue rudeness and incorrect orders. The only consistency was that we were consistently served by someone different and each one was equally rude and abrupt.

The food was pretty average; the Malayan was a Korma with one chunk of banana in, the Dhansak was a Korma with a chilli in it, the Korma, was a Korma, thankfully.

We'd asked for a jug of water; but it didn't come. P beckoned over the slightly dishevelled table cleaner. "Could we have our water" she asked.

"MEAT OR VEGETABLE?" was the reply.

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