Monthly archives: April 2007

60 things worth shortening your life for

I’ve started to do number 60.


A year ago, my twelve-year-old daughter, Chloe, was acting in my film RV. After a long day, I said, “You know, Chloe, you’re painfully opinionated and you boss everyone around. You should be a director.”

“No offense, Dad, but I’ll stick to being a movie star,” she said. “Directing looks too stressful.”

On the first movie I directed, The Addams Family, I ended up fainting when, after a sleepless night, I thought I could maintain some sense of awareness the next day by drinking nine straight espressos. When the head of Paramount Studios said that it was unreleasable, I spent the night weeping on Sweetie’s (the wife’s) lap. During Men in Black II, I was raced to the hospital with what I thought was a heart attack. After spending the night in the emergency room next to a woman whining, “I need quinine,” I was given an echocardiogram and told that I was simply suffering from stress and that I should get into a program of meditation. (I didn’t tell the doctor that I was meditating when the chest pain started.) On Wild Wild West, I broke my hand in five places when I punched Will Smith’s arm.

So why direct? It’s the closest a guy like me will ever come to being a general. I have a thought, and suddenly manly men are building gigantic sets. Plus, being forced to make thousands of decisions a week on topics that you didn’t know you were ever going to need to have an opinion about (Lara Flynn Boyle’s girdle comes to mind) is exhilarating. I also get to send back cappuccinos because the foam looks too much like a latte and work with people smarter than me, who make me look good. If every couple of years I have a psychological breakdown, well, at least I’ve got a thick head of foam on my cappuccino.

— Barry Sonnenfeld

Full list.

via BoingBoing

I need it to rain…..

That shouldn’t be too much to ask for in Manchester. It’s overcast, after all.

I’ve sowed grass seed, raked it in, watered it and raked it in again, but what I really need is a good shower to really wett the ground and set the seeds off. (Oh, and more grass seed, I only got half the area covered. I may have been heavy handed.)

The Garden

The Garden
Originally uploaded by spinneyhead.
I’ve turned all the earth and removed a lot of the weed roots and some of the stones, but it’s still a long way from being finished. I think I’ll sow grass tomorrow, whatever, but I’ll have to spend an hour or two picking rocks out of it first.

I’ve also sowed some wild meadow flowers at the far end, beyond the compost bins. I’m not sure how successful they’ll be. Even if they are, the flowers won’t bloom until next year.

There’s a new compost bin now, as well. It’s huge. I’ll bed it in tomorrow, probably.

I leave my body to medical science, if medical science will have me, but my heart belongs to BNFL

Aside from all the arguments about the rights and wrongs of nuclear power, I have a few personal reasons to dislike BNFL. One of them is the arrogance of a company that believed it was protected for various reasons. The news that the company took body parts from dead former workers without informing their families is just another example of that arrogance.


(Written about our excursion to ARA in February.)

When I was a youngster I’d attend discos in the local church hall. The pews were moved to create a dancefloor. There was a tinny mobile disco and crisps and soft drinks provided. Most of us were too self conscious to dance and the cool kids were all round the back drinking cider.

My first visit to ARA reminded me of those days. It takes place in a church and it had the table of snacks and pop and a sound system less powerful than regular clubbers are used to. But I can’t imagine horror films being projected onto the wall of Kirkland Mission or the playlist being so dark.

There is no publicity for ARA. You have to find out about events in Sacred Trinity church on the fourth Friday of every month for yourself. I discovered it on someone else’s blog and vowed to attend. It took me three months to get around to it.

The church isn’t licenced, so the night is bring a bottle. With beer and Guinness in a clinking back pack we set out, meeting the rest of our gang at Sinclair’s Oyster Bar. Sacred Trinity is over the Irwell, just inside Salford. Crossing the bridge and heading downhill I got that familiar sinking feeling. What if I’d read the map wrong? We rounded a corner and there it was- arched windows flashing and music audible from across the road.

On the door we were told the rules. It’s not the cool kids, but the cancerous smokers who have to hang around behind the building. Services are still held every Sunday, so respect the structure and fittings and tidy up after yourself. Enjoy yourself but don’t spoil it for anyone else. The toilets and a trust driven cloakroom are down a side corridor off the main dancefloor.

There are two dancefloors at ARA, though the second, The Belfry, is more of a dance corridor. Situated behind soundproof glass on the viewing gallery it allows you to look down on the main dancefloor. The music in this lair was too obscure, so we went downstairs, where the playlist is request driven and eclectic. Goth staples like the Cure mixed easily with the Pet Shop Boys and stuff I’d never heard before. At one point I was informed we were listening to very early Faith No More. “Back when they were still called Faith.” I offered, getting a black look in return. As the requests became increasingly niche, and we ran out of beer, we left at one in the morning.

I won’t pretend to be converted to the cult of ARA, but I can see myself going back. It wasn’t as busy as I’d expected, and I couldn’t shake that church disco feeling, but it was different. More groups should try the DIY approach to events and there should be more “alternatives to the alternative”, as the night has been called. Manchester’s already active nightlife could prosper further from the increased diversity.

Urban exploration- wandering along abandoned railway lines

Waiting for the Ghost Train
Originally uploaded by spinneyhead.

Inspired by the Play exhibition at Urbis and because I’ve been meaning to do it for a while, I went for a wander along some abandoned railway lines earlier today. I’d found a gate, just off Lapwing Lane, that would let me into the overgrown cutting I’ve often looked at from the bridge on Burton Road. I closed it behind me and carefully half slid, half walked down the embankment.

I found myself on an old platform, which research tells me was for the Albert Park station on the Manchester South District line. From here I headed west toward Chorlton. I’ve watched too much CSI, so it was quite eerie at first. This sort of slightly naughty wander is always interrupted by the discovery of a body. When none was forthcoming I became more confident and strode toward the Burton Road bridge.

Just before the bridge is a potential future archaeological site. Rubbish, old televisions and unwanted toys have all been thrown over the back fences of the houses on one side. It’s pathetic, really, but fascinating at the same time.

The wander in this direction didn’t get much further. The bottom of the cutting is a pond, from side to side. I got a short way in, but soon discovered that at least one of my boots is no longer waterproof. I headed back the other way.

There are some very large trees down in the cutting. I think the line was abandoned in the ’60s, so they’ve had long enough to grow. A fair few were blown over in the storms earlier this year and had to be clambered over. Close to the bridge under the Lapwing Lane/ Palatine Road junction, the cutting became a pond again. I’ll have to try this again in the summer. If it’s as hot as promised it may be dry down here. Alternatively, I guess I could find some wellingtons.

This part of my wander was a bit disappointing, being quite short, so I followed the alleys alongside the railway toward Chorlton and rejoined it on the far side of Princess Road. This section is open and even has a footpath along it, so wasn’t as much fun. I did discover a small BMX track, possibly abandoned given how overgrown it is, and joined the cycle path near St. Werburgh’s Road.

All in all, quite a pleasant morning out and about. There’s a set of photos up on Flickr.

Volkswagen's 200mpg car

A few years ago, Volkswagen built a concept car that could manage over 200 miles to the gallon. The project was shelved because the price of a complete vehicle was judged to be too high. Now, with advances bringing costs down, and changes in management at the company, the project has been resurrected.

via Jalopnik

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and we don't care about our own faults

if i told you things i did before
told you how i used to be
would you go along with someone like me
if you knew my story word for word
had all of my history
would you go along with someone like me

i did before and had my share
it didn’t lead nowhere
i would go along with someone like you
it doesn’t matter what you do
who you were hanging with
we could stick around and see this night through

and we don’t care about the young folks
talkin’ bout the young style
and we don’t care about the old folks
talkin’ ’bout the old style too
and we don’t care about our own folks
talkin’ ’bout our own stuff
all we care about is talking
talking only me and you

usually when things has gone this far
people tend to disappear
no one would surprise me unless you do

i can tell there’s something goin’ on
hours seem to disappear
everyone is leaving i’m still with you

it doesn’t matter what we do
where we are going to
we can stick around and see this night through

and we don’t care about the young folks
talkin’ bout the young style
and we don’t care about the old folks
talkin’ ’bout the old style too
and we don’t care about our own folks
talkin’ ’bout our own stuff
all we care about is talking
talking only me and you

and we don’t care about the young folks
talkin’ bout the young style
and we don’t care about the old folks
talkin’ ’bout the old style too
and we don’t care about our own faults
talkin’ ’bout our own style
all we care about is talking
talking only me and you
talking only me and you

talking only me and you
talking only me and you

Peter, Bjorn and John – Young Folks

(It’s the whistle-y tune in the ad for Sky Movies.)

Alice in Sunderland

I’ve been waiting for Alice in Sunderland for a while now, and it’s finally been released. The latest work from Bryan Talbot, one of the greats of British comics, is a 328 page book is about the history of his home town, the genesis of Alice in Wonderland and comics themselves. This review, done as a comic strip talking head over panels from the comic and other books, has been inspired by Talbot’s own appearance as narrator in his tale.

Other graphic novels by Bryan Talbot-
The Adventures of Luther Arkwright
Heart of Empire: The Legacy of Luther Arkwright
The Tale of One Bad Rat

Review found via BoingBoing