>Avant-garde on the FM

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LISTENING to sideways, electro-zap popsters Radiohead on an in-car FM transmitter presents some problems, as I discovered this morning. As I whizzed up the motorway and got into the more deserted areas of Denmark, strange local broadcasters started muscling in on the empty frequencies my cheapo Belkin occupies when bouncing an MP3 signal to the car radio.

The occasional hiss and crackle left me wondering, is this a Radiohead song or just interference? At one point, the volume of the track playing sunk so low, the Belkin though the player had been turned off and so duly shut itself down.

Lesson: save your weirdo music for home and interference-free environments.

>Iron Man – he’s a small, family hatchback

>AS I was driving into work the other morning, hurtling behind me on the E55 towards Helsingør, I saw what I first thought to be Iron Man. Closer inspection of my rear view mirror revealed the pursuing object not to be Tony Stark tooled up, but in fact a Toyota Yaris.

Ok, so it’s early Iron Man but I am sure you can see the similarities: the Toyota logo and the uni-beam projector in the middle of both “machines”, those shiny shoulder pads of Marvel’s hero reminded me of the front wings on the Yaris, then add the fact that both are made of, er, metal (I think), and you have something. Or not.

It got me thinking about how so many other cars actually resemble fantasy figures. Just go and look and you’ll see what I mean.

Take my own car, a Colt. It is a dead ringer for feathered do-gooder Hawk from Buck Rogers.

Now I have started thinking of car names that don’t exist, but should. May I present the Toyota Magentis, Volkswagen Jebbe (pronounced Yebber, and I know it’s a bit like the Jetta but I like mine more), Mitsubishi Sline, Hyundai Ritz, BMW Egg series.

That’s enough now.

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>Bookends

>NEARLY two years after landing here in Denmark, the bulk of my possessions followed me. Three hundred DVDs, a bed, a DVD player, a tent, plates, knives, forks, spoons, glasses. And books. A lot of books. Probably around 500, and those were the ones that survived the pre-move cull.

After shoving bolts into shelves, I had a home for my modest library. With the boy off to sleep and the wife off doing something else, I dragged the very large Big Yellow Storage packing boxes around me, sliced them open and looked down at the paperbacks, hardbacks, pamphlets, first editions, the one hypertext I own (Patchwork Girl) and dissertations, then thought how am I going to arrange these? Dewey decimal? ISBC? Alphabetical? I’m no librarian, plus I’d be packing them up again in two or three years time so I opted for, er, random. They’d been packed in the boxes according to their size. I started grabbing fistfuls of paperbacks and bunging them onto the shelves. I grabbed the bigger stuff to use as bookends.

I worked quickly, deliberately not thinking about what I was doing other than filling space. Near the end of this process, I started spine-gazing. Douglas Coupland’s Generation X found itself next to Roger Mellie’s Ad Break. The late Nicholas Schaffner’s Pink Floyd biog Saucerful Of Secrets sat beside Harry Grey’s Once Upon A Time In America (originally published as The Hoods). Emily Bronte side by side with Martin Amis amused me for some reason, while Leo Marks’s Between Silk And Cyanide seems strangely at home paired with a pamphlet on The Humanist Philosophy.

My random grabbings put Alexander McCall Smith’s Tears For The Giraffe appropriately next to the 1939 edition of Faber’s compendium My Best Detective Story. Three interesting books lined together on my top shelf are Pat Barker’s Regeneration trilogy, Roger Lewis’s brief but illuminating Charles Hawtrey biog The Man Who Was Private Widdle, with Iain Sinclair’s splendid psychogeographic exploration of London, Lights Out For The Territory.

Elsewhere, Come Play With Me, The Life And Films Of Mary Millington snuggles beside a first
edition of Paul Auster’s The New York Trilogy.

Where To Find It In The Bible
tries to edge out Bruce Campbell’s memoir If Chins Could Kill, Confessions Of A B-Movie Actor.

Wodehouse and Graham Greene seem in good company with The Inimitable Jeeves and The Confidential Agent exchanging pleasantries from the past next to one another.

The Poe Cinema is next to the Bible – what would God think of that?
Poe is quite a tall book, like many of my film books. Most of these have found themselves together – must have been a packing thing so in the top right area of my shelf space, there is a small degree of order.

The last chance arrangement that seems to have some unspecified resonance for me is David Weddle’s Sam Peckinpah biography (If They Move… Kill’Em!) adjacent to Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch – perhaps intensity?

There’s no shelf space left now. I am reduced to stacking book upon book and two deep on the bigger shelves. Don’t get me started on those.

>ORDNING – the useless dish drainer

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Meet Ordning, the world’s worst dish drainer.

I bought this piece of crap from Ikea, a shop I usually have some time for.

But this junk, well…

It fell apart when nearly fully loaded (yes, I did screw it together properly).
See the drain at the base? Dribbles water over your worktop. Some draining board.
And there’s nowhere for your cutlery.

Bought something like this instead:


>Bluetooth missing from control panel

>Just a squidge on this because it proved to be mighty frustrating.

So you have no Bluetooth icon in your control panel and all your device documentation is saying ‘Open the Bluetooth icon…” etc.

I waded through a ton of help texts, spoke to my IT dept, and generally pulled my hair out. My laptop had Bluetooth but the icon was not there. I could do but nothing.

Then something I read made me wonder. Someone suggested the icon might only appear when you connect a dongle. I had one knocking around, dug it out, and bongi-bongo! I was in business. Going to have a fiddle with the laptop’s built-in Bluetooth now that I am up and running.

Conclusion: dongles might be Bluetooth jump leads.

>Millinery and evil – an unfortunate association

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QUITE when and where it first occurred to me that there is an unfortunate association between hats and evil, I cannot remember.

Today more than ever, it seems, hats or anything else placed over the head seem to have induced a crazed paranoia that the person beneath it is either a) a terrorist, or b) some youthful ne’er do well intent on robbing you and filming the theft on his mobile for the amusement of his delinquent chums.

Now I think about it, I can remember when this began. Three or so years ago, hoodie mania broke out in the UK. Shortly after this story broke, I remember my local bakers, staffed by octogenarians mostly, stuck a crude sign up on their door advising that hoodies were banned from the premises. I always wondered how the aged staff would repell the invading youngsters.

Banks in the UK to this day, I believe, still request customers wearing motorcycle crash helmets to remove them, and fair enough. They have a bit more to lose than a few cream buns and an eccles cake.

But, as usual, I digress. Jesus wore a hat, and it didn’t do him much good:

Jump forward a few years, and evil, silent henchman Oddjob in Goldfinger had a killer hat but alas his pursuit of it for nefarious purposes led to his downfall.

At the risk of causing a religious controversy, I will chicken out and say only that certain types of headwear have caused, shall we say, discussions. Not evil, I know, but again that thing on your bonce, whatever it may be, seems to have an uncanny ability to get people riled:

Let us not forget Mr Hat. Mr Garrison’s right- (or is that left?) hand man/puppet was seized by Satan himself at the climax of the South Park film. Perhaps there lies the answer for evil past, present, and future.