VSX, A shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist: Starbuck Powersurge - a young loner on a crusade to champion the cause of Viper Squad Ten, a long-disbanded group of stranded timetravelling troubadours, formed to help finance repairs to their time-machine. Now very much stuck in C21...
All text is copyright the Viper Squad Ten blog team 2003-2006 unless otherwise quoted or credited. If we've not credited you properly, please let me know. Throw us a link if you're desperate enough to use this guff...
Lor lummy, as me ole mucker Jamie Oliver might put it, its been a right old painful two days in the bread department for an old skinflint such as I. So today I shall not spend a penny. Indeed, I have even gone over to my parents house so as to use their electricity to write this.
My painfully-made purchases have been this:
2 x vegetable spring roll (£1.19)
1 x bottle of wine plus 4 cans of cheap-brand lager (just under a tenner)
1 x Brasseye DVD (£10)
3 x pints of San Miguel and 3 x small glasses of red wine (£15.60)
15 x white Longiflorum Lilies, boxed & delivered from John Lewis (£25)
1 x dinner for two at Pizza Express by way of engagement anniversary celebration (shared price of £47); incidentally, a blog CAN be a valuable resource - I printed off THESETWO entries that had recorded the whole engagement thang and read them out in the restaurant - how romantic!
1 x 256MB Sony Memory Stick Pro (£40something)
1 x honeymoon (£1100)
Luckily Tesco had sold out of the new Chemical Brothers album - that might have pushed me over the edge...
Flipping marvellous stuff! Mr Greengrass sir, you made my wracked old frame chuckle into my pile of receipts... the spacehopper was an especially nice touch! So ladies and gentlemen, behold the most clutterfull desk in Stratford...
Think that your working environment is even more shameful? Email me your detritus at the usual address.
Clutterbuck Computer Clutter Challenge round 2
 I am pleased to announce the first (and only) entry in the (probably shortlived) Clutterbuck cluttered computer desk challenge. Many thanks to the mighty Astolath of Cyber-Satan fame for his workstation photograph, reproduced for your delectation over there to the right. I felt it was an especially nice touch him having the image of my workstation on his screen.
However, despite the spaghetti-nature of the wiring beneath his desk and the tower of random "stuff" perched precariously to the right of the table, as the unbiased and impartial referee of the competition I must say that the level of tat still does not reach the heady heights of my own disgraceful desk...
Keep your entries trickling in! Gmail me at Starbuck.Powersurge if you think you're hard enough...
The wedding gift list - commercialistic crack for shopophobes
There are some of us who don't like shopping. And there are others who utterly detest shopping. I am one of the latter. Its not that I don't enjoy foraging for goods - I like a good rummage for store-based niceties as much as the next (wo)man, its just the guilt of purchasement that prevents any commercial fulfillment. Even a trip to FOPP, the greatest record shop known to Man (well, this man), is tainted with the stain of stingeyness.
So it was with feelings of sheer unexpurgated joy that I ran round John Lewis this weekend with a "zapper", scanning in items for our wedding gift list, because "although we would not expect to receive a gift, and the presence of our friends and family at our wedding would be a present in itself, should anyone wish to give a little something then blah blah blah".
Guilt-free extravagant over-shopping with no negative consequences (or even the guarantee of receiving the item in the first place)... marvellous!
Team America: World Police
After South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, I really wanted this to be the best comedy out of America since, dare I say it, Airplane.
Unfortunately, the potential goodness of my review has been stained by the last 90 minutes post-pub-net-searching for screen grabs of my favourite scene, whereby evil nemesis Kim Jong Il released his panthers (couragously played on screen by cute ickle pussy cats) rips out the neck of those treacherous liberal actors, so you're left with a pic of my second favourite scene - an easy Mos Eisley Star Wars scene. Despite a hopeful 121 photos in German.
In the end I was quite disappointed with TA. It had some good, nay wonderful, moments. Some bits which, on reflection several days down the line I'm really enjoying. However, at the time, it really felt like Stone & Parker (who, appropriately, was a member of Thunderbirds) were casting their target sights too widely; either they were taking the punk fuck everyone approach, or the money from both sides of the political spectrum proved too tempting. That, or perhaps more wisely than any of us of any decided political bent, they realise the whole ridiculousness of taking up a stand when the whole thing nowadays has strayed too far into pantomine and posturing.
One thing very much in its favour, as with the sublime South Park, is the lip sync'ing. No matter how basic the medium - paper-thin cartoon characters or marionettes, as long as the lip movement perfectly matches the speech you will breach that gulf of unreality.
All in all, some very funny moments, but maybe too scattershot and unfocussed for sensitive leftie bastids like me to call satire. A bit like watching Jim Davidson in the company of Bernard Manning and Stan Boardman, or Benny Hill with the entire cast of the Carry On series sitting on your shoulders.
Still, as I say, the post-filmmemory is growing, "Encore" style. But then, I'm drunk. Ignore me. Don't go and see it, unless you're already tempted, and then if you do, make up your own bleeding mind. How's that for an honest review.
When you have insomnia, you're never really asleep, and you're never really awake.
Ed Norton, Fight Club (movie version)
I sometimes have sleep problems. I don't have trouble sleeping, jut getting to the initial state of being asleep. I will put out the light and lie there looking up through the skylight, looking into infinity for what feels like an eternity. I will turn onto my side, wrap my head in my pillow, shut my eyes, and stay awake. I will then grumble something to the sleeping beauty to my side, and head down to the kitchen for whisky, Horlicks and/or a sit-down toilet. I am likely to then head back to bed and selfishly wake up my girlfriend to tell her that I'm awake and that I need to talk. In short, I make a right kerfuffle. Thankfully the angel that I'm marrying puts up with my stupid and stubborn resistance to sleep with incredible grace and understanding.
It feels like a self-inflicted wound, slashed across my sleep patterns. I know I can sleep. Its just that I won't. It's not even something that continues too late - I never go without sleep, I always get a few hours in. Its not a problem as such - don't get me wrong. But it doesn't stop me hating myself for it at the time.
I know I'm in for a troubled night if my body is feeling "wrong". I lie there, stand there, stretching my muscles, straining my sinews and clicking my joints. I saw a program on the telly a few years back about people suffering from "restless leg syndrome". The poor sods - they find it hard getting in a situation where they can sleep, feeling the constant need to stretch and move at night (click HERE for more info on RLS.) I know I'm not a sufferer myself. But I know from what I experience that it must be terrible.
No, my trouble must stem from my development. I was a proficient sprinter in my youth, and I must've built up a powerhouse of fast-twitch muscles in my legs. Then a few years back I spent a year or two doing stupid amounts of long-distance running. I've probably got more leg muscle-action going on than Jake The Peg. More recently, however, vigorous exercise just hasn't featured within my life-o-scope.
Last night, however, myself and Ms Powersurge went swimming after work. Some years back I forced myself to into a regime of water-torture at Bristol North Pool. Sometimes several times a week, occasionally several times a month, sometimes once a quarter. Still, at least I tried. Admittedly I always had to be talked into it by my friend Butlerfeatures with the promise of pretty minnows in the pool, a post-swim Miss Millies chicken-in-a-bun, and a few crafty pints in the Bristol Flyer with DJ Tim afterwards (DJ Tim's like a good-natured mogwai - he hates water with a passion). Despite this, sitting behind batty old women in the slow-lane probably did me a lot of good in the Unhealthy Years. And then it stopped. Because, let's face it, swimming is rubbish apart from the the effect it has on the rate of alcohol absorption into the bloodstream.
Until yesterday. We went, it felt wonderful (that is, our fitness is probably poor enough for 26 lengths to still feel wonderful), beer absorption was still rapid, and come the time I had to sleep I had nothing to fear. I lay there, unable to keep my eyes open. Sleep washing against the shores of my consciousness as if the the shingle was made of barbiturates. I can't remember when I last felt so peaceful at the end of the day, so ready to embrace sleep. I guess my body still craves exertion.
So don't let loose your own Tyler Durden. Go pick up some ear infections and verucas, and do yourself some good. And if you've got kids, listen to Rolf when he tells you - "TEACH THEM TO SWIM!"
All gone a bit Darko
Sometimes I worry that I've been reading too many weirdo dimension-crossing books. Sometimes I fear that, yes, I have finally crossed over into one of these putative alternative realities.
Case in point: the night sky. One of the greatest constellations daubed across the vaults of the northern hemisphere is Orion. For as far as I can remember, on a cloudless night it rather resembles this, give or take a bit of imagination.
Over the last few weeks, I've noticed that it looks more like this:
The Great Hunter has fallen.
I know that its probably a seasonal phenomenon, nothing out of the ordinary. However, being something that I've not noticed (or taken notice of) before, whenever I see the glitch in the planetarium ceiling I feel enormously disconcerted.
I'm glad I don't suffer from paranoia. Otherwise I'd be a little too concerned that something amazing is going to happen...
Freedom to disagree - Jerry Springer The Opera
Tonight the BBC are broadcasting Jerry Springer The Opera despite receiving a record number of complaints before broadcast and sparking off public demonstrations. Predictably the hardcore religious element have been whipping up the storm, this time the Christians led by the Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch, Bishop of Manchester, as well as the Evangelical fringe.
We have to stand firm against such bullying - lets face it, book-burning was never that progressive a decision by the Nazis. However, I fear that this is the way things are going in this connected world - a large group of people can easily be mobilised into action by an email or web campaign. Just look at the way things have gone in America - journalists fear to express dissent with Republican ideals, knowing as they do that a torrent of electronic abuse will come their way. And, more recently in this country, it was sections of the Sikh community whose campaign of intimidation and, most seriously, death threats, led to the Birmingham Rep pulling its stage production of Behzti due to perceived insult.
Its fair that the deliberate causing of offence directly to someone is not a good thing - that is abuse, after all. But we can't change the way that we all live our lives just because some groups of people might seek out offence in what other people enjoy, especially when you consider that only 44 % of British people would say that they actually believed in a God - a fair amount considering the sizeable numbers of people populating this secular country's great faiths.
And people of no faith have to face the everyday offence of living in a world where you are dictated to by people you fundamentally disagree with. Perhaps people like us should start jamming the switchboard every time Songs Of Praise is scheduled (although presenter Aled Jones is enough to turn the staunchest of Christians to Satanism!)
Still, a lot of good has came of the protests over the BBC and Jerry Springer The Opera - I wouldn't have known it was even on if they hadn't made such a fuss about it. Cheers then, overly-offendable puritanical types!
Smoke signalled tears of sadness to my blogroll
My life/personal internet interface has been somewhat strained recently - I seem to permanently be as busy as a bee. BJ McKay and his best friend Bear, that is.
So, in the lyrical style of Faithless on Postcard or Mötley Crüe on trash classic Home Sweet Home, I would just like to send out a message of love and goodwill to all those lovely people on my blogroll whose e-thresholds I haven't nearly regularly enough of late.
"I miss your writing, and I miss your lives I miss your joys and I miss your cries I miss being a part of your electronic existence But I hope to be around more over the weeks and months hence"
 Google Suggest (spotted round the Google Labs) - quite an interesting tune-up for the Google search interface. Especially useful for those too drunk to type quickly or accurately, or those too befuddled to put together a half-decent search query.
Whilst booking our honeymoon with our local travel agent, our consultant rang through to a number of organisations in an attempt to get the best deal possible, and each time she was put on hold she would switch the telephone to a hands-free "conference mode".
Despite of course not having given my true name Starbuck Powersurge (that would be madness!), something wonderful happened the very first time she was asked to hold. Not one word of a lie, and may our Lord Captain Apollo strike me down if this not be true, but excitingly the original Battlestar Galactica theme started tinnily blaring out of the speakers.
I felt strangely and stupidly proud, if a little wary that suspicious Van Damme's were testing my cover for cracks. You will be glad to know that any cracks that I might have I try to keep well hidden!