Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Licensed to get me through August

For anyone with more than passing interest in the historicity of good taste, I would heartily recommend a refresher course in the irrepressible antics of 007, 1962-present. Early sixties fashions, for example, often look remarkably modern. The seventies, which I thought might travel well, are marred forever by the abomination of the double-breasted suit. By 1979's Moonraker, Bond has preempted the new romantic movement by larking about in an unbuttoned black silk blouse with exceeding generous collars; it rather reminded me of a similarly corseted Anthony Hopkins in Zorro... though the analogy brings me rather too close to the anathema of 87's Welsh Bond, Timothy the Dalton, of which I shall not speak. Fashions come and go, of course, but breasts? De rigueur in the early days, what with Honey Ryder, Plenty O'Toole, Pussy Galore etc, the entire cast of Moonraker - including Dr Goodhead - would be hard pressed to fill C cup between them, although to be fair, Roger Moore has a good go at it.

When I was a nipper, there were two men that for me symbolised the impossible glamour of a world revealed only through an annual televisual event timed to coincide with the year's first batch of turkey sandwiches and semi-regular appearences on top-of-the-pops, usually via the newborn medium of video, or else live via satellite from somewhere beyond London's South Circular, a realm, therefore, essentially beyond my ken. I speak of course of Roger Moore and Simon Le Bon.

Re the latter, a defining moment of my existence was to present itself through an early exercise in surveying and statistical analysis presented by Mr Hazelwood in my last year of Juniors. One of my cohort determined to present our favourite pop-groups in the form of a bar graph. To this day I can clearly see the 29 black blocks that (literally) represented "Madness" alongside my single lonely orange block of "Duran Duran." Read into that what you will.

I've decided that baseball is rather like fishing - absolutely nothing happens for more or less an eternity, then there's an awful lot of excitement all at once, almost certainly when you're looking the other way. In other sporting news, I've been playing in a co-ed (that's mixed) soccer (that's football) league over the summer. I usually play left-back but occassionaly I get moved up to left wing if the powers that be are feeling generous. I am one of the more rubbishy players, but by no means hopeless. I'm not sure whether it's the presence of Americans or ladies that make for an altogether more generous, supportive and less pathologically violent game than I'm use to, but either way I think I prefer it this way.

Meanwhile the CEO of the company is on a bit of a one man crusade to dress us all in company branded polo shirts. Nevertheless I'm currently holding onto my shirt and tie until he agrees to furnish me with the necessary horses, helmet, mallets and extended lunch-hour which I shall require if I am to put the garment to its intended use.

The temperature is just now beginning to cool off a little; with nary a rain cloud in sight (in stark contrast to march-june inclusive) and consistent 80+ temperatures, it certainly seems like July and August are the months to visit for any of you considering an adventure out here some day. Probably best to consider making the trip before I go irreversibly insane.

Other stuff in brief: Since last I wrote about such things, I've attended no less that two beer, one wine and one food festival. Also, if you have yet to see either "Napolean Dynamite" or "I heart huckabees" I strongly suggest you go out and rent them immediately. Go on, be off with you!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Concern and disappointment

Not the British military's version of "shock and awe," but our emotional state these past few days following news from back home. Last Thursday my dad experienced what I suppose might be loosely described as a "funny turn" whilst shopping with my mum in Calais; he collapsed and had to be taken to the hospital. Seeing as this was France, he preceded through the appropriate battery of tests and a consultation with a specialist within hours of arrival (one imagines he'd still be in the waiting room at the Royal Sussex); they couldn't find anything specific wrong with him. He stayed in overnight but has been fine ever since. Everything points to it being a "one-off" - apparently such things aren't uncommon and shouldn't be anything to worry about. On the frustrating side, however, he has been advised not to drive for a year and, in addition, he can't get travel insurance for the same period (that is to say he could, but wouldn't be covered if he had a recurrence) - which means Mum and Dad have had to cancel their trip out to see us in September. It's a real shame because I was really looking forward to showing them what life is like out here... we speak on the phone every week of course, but I'm sure it must seem very abstract until you've actually experienced it. Anyhow, we'll be back at Christmas and fingers crossed for next September instead.

General apologies for the lack of correspondence lately. The usual excuse of too much work has been butressed by fantastic weather (have not seen a cloud for over a month, everyday in the eighties or nineties) and the fact that AMC - the movie channel we get by mistake because Comcast haven't figured out a way to disable it for cheapskates like me who only pay for basic cable - is showing a different Bond film every night at 8 for the whole of August. Just so you know where you fall in the scheme of things...

To all those I owe a long email (Misters Bailey, Frost and Haynes, Ms Fryberger), my apologies, I shall get round to it soon!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Vacation Part Three

It was quite a drive due West from Lassen Volcanic National Park to the giant redwoods, which lie near the Northern California Coast. We stopped overnight in a town called Red Bluff. Down at sea level again it was rather hot - about 85 degrees, I think - so I'm not quite sure how I caught a cold. We also ate some really terrible food at what on the surface looked like a very pleasant restaurant down by the river. The next morning Rachel took the wheel and took us through the front-range. Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of the zig-zag road sign with the words "115 miles" plastered underneath. It turned out not to be an exaggeration. On the far side lay Humbolt State Park and some very impressive flora...

Damn tree-hugger!

What, you've never seen a tree this wide before? It's just a baby compared to a Giant Sequoia, not that we saw any of them. They're all down South at Yosemite.

Impressive roots on the left, and a drive-thru tree on the right.

They seem to go up and up forever. Well 350ft anyway.

Look carefully to spot the little people disappearing into the forest. And Rachel. Sorry - that was uncalled for.

Eureka - I've found it: the world's scuzziest motel pool. In Eureka.

After a a very hard day doing nothing, what better way to celebrate than a gigantic Margarita? And for the ladies, how about a strawberry daquiri?

It's Paul Bunyon, folks. And his cow, Babe. Actual size, allegedly. This giant fella will wave and talk to you, which is a bit disconcerting!

You'll notice that by this point the rains are upon us... how did we cope? Was it tears before bedtime or stiff upper lips all around? Tune in sometime before my next holiday to find out!