Thursday, January 26, 2006

Healthy snack: baked olives

Am really into baking olives at the moment. Anyone do this? Just get a jar of pitted green olives, get a ceramic oven dish/tray, put loads on and put it on for about 20 or 30 minutes (check them while cooking) at approx 180 degrees.

They go crispy and the flavour is really salty-intense. Extremely low fat snack to go with yer Lite Beer or to just snarf in front of the TV. Weightwatchers state that 10 olives are only half a weightwatchers point. Nothing! You could eat a whole jar load per session.

Go on, I know you want to try it.


Waiting for bread machine to finish making bread in order that I can eat my soup with it. New Covent Garden Co soup, I think it's tomato and orange or some variation on that theme. Fave Covent soup is Thai Chicken, though. De-licious.

still trying to lose that weight I put on at Christmas. OK, still trying to lose it whilst also going out to Ask for pizza and beer last night. Oddly I lost 2lbs though. Never understand weight, mass and mmetabolism ... though I do know you shouldn't weigh yourself every day as I do because it's confusing, deceiving, involves water retention, subcutaneous fat and other stuff that happens across days not hours.

Was discussing this at lunchtime with Laura, former assistant producer on Ouch, who dropped in. Sounds like she's getting extremely healthy and finds herself down the gym due to not having anything else to do where she lives now. A-mazing! What self control. If I had nothing else to do, I'd put the telly on.

Always on the lookout for new foodstuffs and tastes, she recommended something to me. She says I should try Alovira Tea. I think it's in the Clipper flavoured green teas range. I didn't even realise people ate alovira, I thought you rubbed it into your skin.

"What does it taste like," I asked.

She paused for a few seconds, thinking hard: "a bit like cucumber would taste if it were more interesting."

Just received a text through the post that we'll be reading in the second novel writing class on Monday. Lecturer is great, she has sent it to me ahead of time so I can scan it and have it there with me either in electronic or hard copy Braille. Or hell, both maybe. Classes will be weekly from now on.

Why the fuck do I write this blog? Oh yeah, it was to stop me from getting writers block again. Mind it's hardly surprising I got writer's block after 120 columns on Ouch. You need a break innit.

Wozza and Sara are coming over tomorrow night for a game of Trivial Pursuit. Ought to get some food in really.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Cloud Atlas

Clearly am only reading Cloud Atlas cos Richard and Judy said to do so. Was reading more of it last night in bed.

I'm struggling with it. Struggling to see the point.

I've got the audio version. I haven't read the cover blurb because I can't read covers - so basically I don't really know what it's about anyway. So far I glean that it is several short stories from past present and future, strung together with some linking factors: birthmarks mainly.

I tell you though, this had better have some kind of decent payoff. I didn't like the book when it flipped into the future but, after reading it for a while, I started to get quite intrigued by the language and the author's view of the futureworld. In Japanese style, he mixes words together to create new concepts. Looking at how our language has changed over the past 20 years, you can imagine that in a couple of hundred years people may easily have condensed and reformed the language in the way the author has written. And it's not heavily signposted either, you have to guess what's going on by the context.

Keen to move on to The Accidental.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Podcasts and radio and media?

I woke early to listen to Christian O'Connell's breakfast show on his new home, Virgin Radio.

I think he needs a bit more time to bed in. I used to be a big fan of his XFM breakfast show that he finished back in October. In reality, it's probably his sidekick Chris Smith (newsreader) who is the real star of the show. But, no, it's the whole package, the whole team. And I can't wait to hear Chris Smith's Lloyd Grossman impressions again - tragic but hilarious. Oh and his Mustapha Smith character tops that, even. "sharpeny knife" ... seriously tragic. You had to be there. Christian, hmm, well it was his first day. I think when he settles in it'll be very much like his old show. It feels a weeny bit over-produced though, not by much, but part of the joy of the XFM show was that it was a low budget. This morning he offered: breakfast show hats, slippers, shirts, and a whole bunch of other merchandise. On his XFM show it went more like: "if you want to be associated with our shirts, Chris Smith has designed it and we're looking for a company to sponsor it. Give us a call if you want to help us."

Have you noticed how podcasts are seriously exploding this year? There are so many around. Christian has a podcast with some material you won't hear on air apparently. The Ricky Gervais podcast is the most downloaded podcast on both sides of the Atlantic if I'm not mistaken. 2 million downloads to date. And the BBC reports that they had 2 million downloads in the month of December, Chris Moyles is the most popular with the Today programme interview the second most popular with 400,000 downloads last month - read more here.

It's incredible really. we're seeing The Telegraph newspaper with its own daily news podcast now too. Jon Snow has a weekly podcast based on his Snowmail brand and last week brought out a documentary/debate on cannabis psychosis (see Saturday's post, 21 Jan, for a link). Have I said before that I may actually be in love with Jon Snow? Have you read his book ShoShooting History, it's fabulous.

Anyway, am keeping my eye on podcasting. Real potential here.

For the record, I'm currently reading that Cloud Atlas book everyone banged on about last year and have just taken delivery of The Accidental by Ali Smith which I am very much looking forward to.

Power out

Massive power outage at the BBC in West London today. Everyone was sent home after a couple of hours of no light, no heating, no aircon, no computers, etc.

"Go home and listen to Radio Kent to see when the haeting is back on," they said. Oh no hang on, that's what they said at my primary school when it started snowing.

Anyway, we're all waiting with baited breath to see if the power will be back tomorrow or whether we can carry on having snowball fights at home. Wait, getting confused again, may have to work from home tomorrow (12 foot drifts they're saying).

Will we get our Chinese disability graphic done by Thursday if it keeps not snowing? Tha'ts the big question. Great new column starting from Beijing on Ouch from Thursday, basically. Look out for it if you read the site.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Tesco and more

What's the difference between Tesco Express and Tesco Metro?

I've gone decaf by the way. Did I tell you? I had a hideous migraine thing last week, really not helped by the amount of coffee I drink. So, all of a sudden, I've gone decaf. And on the whole I quite like the move. Am Gonna drink caffeine when I want but largely it'll be ... OK Damon, enough with this. Anyone fool enough to be reading this will have got it by now.

Things to look at though. I'd like to recommend Jon Snow's podcast and also this rather life affirmingly fabulous story from BBC News entitled: Snake befriends 'snack' hamster.

I'm also following the whale story with some sadness. I hear now that they've managed to get it onto a barge. If you're not familiar with this story, not sure if it has reached worldwide tho it seems like perfect 24-hour rolling news fodder to me ... a 15 foot 7 ton whale has swum miles off course and has made it into the River Thames ... that big river wot flows through London.

Londoners are astonished by it. At first it was kind of cute to hear about a whale swimming past the Houses of Parliament squirting water from its blowhole as it went ... but of course, The Thames is not the place for a whale. It' is freshwater, not salt water; it's too narrow and shallow. The whale is now very distressed and vets are worried it may be too ill.

They're taking it back to the Thames Estuary and out into the North Sea again ... but what disturbs me is that animal experts are planning on perhaps 'putting it down' (a killing euphemism) if they feel it is too unwell.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

It's a course, of course

I'm a student again! I have a student badge thing and everything.

I've started an evening class on a Monday at one of the universities here in London. The first session was yesterday.

I keep finding myself a little embarrassed when I tell people what the course is: it's a novel writing course.

I'm very used to writing shorter pieces, structured as a short article should be structured. I want to write soemthing longer, much longer. A novel perhaps. I've said for years that "I don't need no course to help me" but after not having written this so-called novel ever, I thought I should do what my friend Kate said and actually pitch up at one of these things.

The group at last night's session seemed really diverse and interesting ... and the course tutor is great, couldn't be more helpful in terms of my access needs too.

So, now I've got to think about writing. It looks as if the homework is going to get heavier and heavier over the 10 weeks of the course (yes folks, it takes just ten weeks to learn to be a novel writer ... the course doesn't claim that and I'm being ironic obviously). It's got an academic element to it which I like. And, by the very small sample of writing I've seen from other students on the class, it looks as if it could be really interesting as everyone seems quite on the ball.

So here I am. If you remember, I started writing this blog to get me writing! To overcome a bit of a writers block I was having. 'Do your worst' was a note to myself. It meant: just write anything, off the top of your head, don't doublecheck or spellcheck it. Just flipping write.

I've broken the rules a bit in that I have gone back and edited bits ... but not much.

So, here I am, at the start of an interesting new learning curve. I've got to get the writing juices juicing. This blog is my exercise pad (amongst other things). Let me see. How do I feel tonight ...

I feel alive. Like the agar jelly in the bottom of the petri dishes in the biology lab at school. That alive. Also nervous, nervous like Stuey off the Thorn Birds (circa 1983) when the wild boar began to run at him at the scene of the bush fires ... and he couldn't aim with his gun. And I feel a little bit righteous too, a self improvement drive that Gillian off 'you are what you eat' would think good if this was food I was talking about, not words.

Clearly I have the makings of quite a special writer.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Michael Barrymore

Yes, he's in the Celebrity Big Brother house. Yes, he's clearly not quite so sharp as he once was. If you were expecting me to take a disability angle on this (after all, that's what I find myself doing about most things) you'll be disappointed.

The thing on my mind today is ...

Why did they change the name of Michael's show from Strike it lucky to Strike it rich.

I have my own pet theory about this, they surround the fact that it was on the low rent channel ITV and (crucially) that around that time, Michael's sexuality was in the newspapers a lot. I think the marketing bods at ITV felt that Strike it lucky (go out on the town tonight, see if you can't strike it lucky) had sexual connotations. So they decided to warp the well known phrase by adding the word Rich at the end instead of Lucky.

Here ends my pet theory ... I commend it to the world.

2006 Lemon fascination

New year's here and, well, basically I've been putting lemon in my water -- watch me cut to the chase.

Apparently it's good for you. I drink quite a bit of water, sometimes fizzy, sometimes not, sometimtes with apple juice in it ... but now I put lemon in it. I think i tmight do stuff, stuff for kidneys or liver or something. That's the basic handle I've got on it. Vitamin C tho, yar?

On googling for lemon I discovered that Americans have something called Lemon Law. It initially intrigued me but clicking around further I discovered it's actually something to do with car quality.

Yes, as you can see, I've resolved to be mmore fascinating in 2006.

Started thinking about the Elder Lemon, didn't I. He featured in a TV commercial in the early 80s for Lemsip.

Pictture a whole village full of lemons with arms and legs. Quite cute looking, as far as lemons can be cute. One of the junior lemons gets ill, snuffly, parents look over him concerned. So, what happens next?

The mandarins of the lemon village (arf) get together and one of them - known as the Elder Lemon - basically sacrifices himself to save the young lemon.

WE next see the young snuffler being given a drink of hot lemon ... made from the elder lemon. Yes, a junior cannibal if you like. Mildly disturbing to my mind.

The last scene of the ad is back to the village scene with healthy junior lemon in it ... plus a big statue commemorating the sacrifice of the Elder lemon.

No one else seems to remember this commercial. Yes I do live in a bubble. If we're still saying happy new year then, yeah, have one ...