Drinking and bowling don’t mix

I was over in Glasgow today, on Philip’s stag party. After some warm-up drinks at the Hogshead pub, we went bowling. I’m blaming my poor scores on a mixture of alcohol and an over-enthusiastic throw in the first frame, which hurt my thumb. After that, my I couldn’t find a comfortable grip any more. The thumb is still swollen and ouchie.

After bowling we went for dinner at TGI Friday’s, where we ate an obscene amount of food at obscene prices. I came home soon afterwards, before they progressed to the strip club. Noisy Rangers supporters were screaming aggressive sectarian football chants all the way back, and smoking. The lone conductor never stood a chance of subduing them, but kudos to her for trying anyway.

Julius Caesar blog

Here’s something cool and interesting: Bloggus Caesari. It’s a blog supposedly written by Julius Caesar, giving a day-by-day run-down of his exploits and campaigns. It has been running since 2001:

“I’m heading up to Geneva. One of the Gaul tribes is planning on cutting through Roman territory, in an attempt to go and fight some other tribe. I’m the governor of Gaul now, so I have to stop them… I’m caught a little off guard ? there’s only one legion up there, so I’m trying to raise some more at the same time.

“Well, it looks like I might be away more than I’d like, so I decided to set up this blog. My friends in Rome can keep track of what I’m up to amongst the barbarians..”

(13 May 2001)

Caesar talks in a familiar, modern voice, while describing actual historical events from 2000 years ago:

“Suddenly new enemy troop movements are visible. A force about 60,000 strong has concentrated at the most awkward point in our siegeworks: a hill too large to include in our defences, so that the camp there is built at a slight incline. Simultaneously Commius’ cavalry has lined itself up facing the outer wall, while his infantry has left camp in battle order. And now troops once again pour out of Alesia. I’m looking for a position from which I can view all of these developments. This could be the big one.”

(29 May 2003)

I’ll have to get Abi to give me some idea of the “real” time frame of the blog. It looks like the author has gone to some amazing lengths to provide vivid descriptions and thorough details of how Caesar’s campaigns unfolded. What a fantastic idea, and what a wonderful way to learn more about Roman history! (via Brad DeLong)

Constant Craving

You know how most shops play in-store music? Well, in Britain at least, they have to pay a licence fee to the Performing Rights Society to do so. The PRS takes this money and distributes it to the songwriters, performers, and music publishers.

(Mini trivia update: If you remember the Beautiful South’s hit “Song for whoever” from 1989, you may remember the lyric: “I love you because you put me in my rightful place / And I love the PRS cheques that you bring”.)

I don’t know the exact ins and outs of the system, because the PRS doesn’t include a full price list on their web site. You have to contact them personally to get a quote for your specific situation. I can therefore only assume that you can get a much cheaper license if you play music that is performed by unknown artists. What else could explain Scotmid supermarkets playing a non-stop soul-destroying loop of “The Worst Cover Versions In The World–Ever! (Vol 28)”?

I love pop music. Generally, I don’t even mind when someone, usually a manufactured boy band, covers a song whose original I particularly liked. But these…things, these abomominations that Scotmid uses to assault its customers with are truly unforgiveable.

The instruments are all synthesised. Badly.

There is only one female vocalist, and one male vocalist, although it’s sometimes hard to tell their fractured, screeching falsetto voices apart.

The song tempos are subtly wrong. Some are a little too fast, some are a little too slow, but none are just right. Yet the speeds are sufficiently close to the original to make you wonder if it’s your brain running at the wrong speed, and not the song.

And as if that wasn’t enough, the artists are still trying to make their songs sound like the originals. This is the most painfully embarrassing part of it all. In most (commercial) cover versions, the artists attempts to add something “new” to the song, to give it their own unique twist. But these musicians seem to think they sound just like David Bowie or Celine Dion. No-one has told them that actually, no, they’re crap.

In some cruel joke of fate, every time I have been in a Scotmid this month, I have been clubbed over the head by the tattered and bleeding zombie remnants of kd lang’s “Constant Craving”. I used to love that song. It used to remind me of sitting out in the grass of the Cathedral at St. Andrews in springtime, studying for my exams, and listening to Radio 1 on my walkman. It spoke to me of wistful love and beautiful harmonies.

Now it just crashes my brain with images of minced beef and frozen peas.

Busy, busy

It’s been a mad couple of weeks. First, on Tuesday 13th, my back gave out on me. Then Alex got ill–very ill. It started with a fever on Thursday 15th, which just didn’t get any better. We eventually had to take him to Hospital on Sunday 18th. (Sunday was notable for another reason, too, but more of that some other time.)

For a while we thought we were going to have to cancel our holiday to Rome, but by last Wednesday (21st) my back was doing okay, and Alex had recovered just enough that we were willing to take the risk of flying with him. He recovered a lot in Rome, and acquired quite a taste for pizza.

Oh, and on top of all that it’s crunch time on my project at work. Whee!

I wish I could write more, but it’s just going to have to wait for a while…