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Friday, April 28, 2006

Sometimes Things Work Out Perfectly

Following a pretty busy week at work, which concluded with meeting a deadline which a couple of months back looked pretty unrealistic, I decided to check what was on at the cinema this weekend.

I checked the Guardian film reviews and, with amazement, realised that one of them was for "Overcoming", a Danish film about the Tour de France which I've been keen to see ever since it went into development.

The Guardian often reviews obscure little films that are only on in one cinema in the whole country - often in Cambridge. So I tried not to get my hopes up too high when I clicked on "Is this film on near me?"

Sure enough, only one cinema was showing it. The Ritzy Cinema, London. The cinema that is closest to me. A cinema that is just a half hour walk away from my front door (or a mere fifteen minutes on the bus.)

Sometimes, just sometimes, stuff works out perfectly.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Google: Font Of All Knowledge

I couldn't live without Google. It answers more or less any questions I have (aside from the Great Yahoo Mail Spring Tableau Mystery - which Fire Blanket of course maintains is solved; I am in the process of evaluating his new evidence). In fact, Google is my first port of call on questions to such an extent that, when I recently thought to myself: "Where did I put the cable which connects my digital camera to my computer?" my first thought is "I'll Google it!"

This is proof that Google cannot in fact know everything. Further proof comes in a question I posed today: how does one go about pronouncing Tsotsi? This year's Best Foreign Film Oscar winner is out this weekend, and I want to go and see it.

But buying a ticket is going to prove difficult - because I don't know how to say "Tsotsi". And, being obsessive compulsive, I'm concerned that the person in the ticket office will wind up being an Afrikaans speaker, and thus fully aware of my shameful ignorance.

Google offers several different verdicts:

"Tsotsi," pronounced sot-si...
www.boxoffice.com/scripts/fiw. dll?GetReview?&where=ID&terms=8550

..."Tsotsi" (pronounced SOT-see)
www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/ c/a/2006/03/05/PKG56HDK7I1.DTL&type=movies

Tsotsi (pronounced Sawt-see)...
www.tsotsi.com/english/index.php?m1=reviews& m2=reviews&review=hollywoodelsewhere

South African film Tsotsi (pronounced 'sote-see')...

"Tsotsi" means gangster or thug in this slang - and is pronounced TOT-si...

Tsotsi (pronounced "TOW-see")...

“Tsotsi” (pronounced “tots” by the characters in the film) is an Afrikaans word meaning “thug”...

"Tsotsi" (pronounced sote-see)...

"Tsotsi" (pronounced with a hard "s")...
www.townonline.com/natick/ localRegional/view.bg?articleid=447914

Tsotsi (pronounced SOE-TSEE)...

"Tsotsi" [pronounced TOT-si]...
www.christiansciencemonitor.com/ 2006/0302/p06s02-wogn.html

"Tsotsi" (pronounced "soht-see")...
www.tuftsdaily.com/news/2006/03/02/ Weekender/Weekender.Interview.Gavin.Hood-1650509.shtml

Tsotsi (pronunciation: the “ts” sound is like in “tsunami,” the “o” is long, and the “i” pronounced as a long “e”)...
www.playbackstl.com/index.php?option=com_ content&task=view&id=1712&Itemid=57

And that's just the first few hits...

In short, I'm none the wiser. I think I'll go with "sot-see", as this seems to be the most frequent suggestion. I tell you, I haven't had this many worries over pronouncing the name of a film since I went to see The Aristocrats. (Should one go with the American pronunciation since it's a US film, or the British since one's seeing it in the UK? Eventually I went with the former. I still don't know whether it was the right call)

Invariably, when I put this much pressure on myself when it comes to a film title, I wind up screwing up whatever pronunciation I had in mind in any case. So, if you work at the Ritzy Cinema and experience McReadie asking you for a ticket for "tits-go-see", or something similarly embarrassing, cut me some slack. I tried.

So Sick of Ne-Yo

Capital, it has to be said, play many songs incessantly (even more so, it seems, since they started promising listeners that they wouldn't play the same song repeatedly). Currently in heavy rotation is Ne-Yo's appropriately entitled "So Sick".

Coping with an annoying song being played over and over again is difficult. Here at Nuggets, we aim to ease the pain of day to day annoyances such as these. We suggest that anyone suffering from Ne-Yo exhaustion reads the following, alternative lyrics, and sings them any time the song is played. I have thus far only used the chorus, but found it highly effective.

Ne-Lo's "So Sick", Reimagined by McReadie

Gotta change the radio station
Now that this song's on
Cos one listen more
And my mind will be gone
And I know it makes no sense
But I hate this sodding song
And it's the only one I seem to hear forever more

(It's ridiculous)
It's been months
And for some reason I just
(Can't turn it off)
And I'm stronger than this
(Enough is enough)
No more pissing 'round
Ignoring the awful sound
I'm so over the crap tune
Doin' my head in

And I'm so sick of this song
So tired of it
So done with thinking
The rhyming scheme's neat
Said I'm so sick of this song
So crap and slow
Might be time to smash the radio

Gotta fix the fact it's in my head
And has been for a year
But since it's played non-stop
It's so tough to be free
I'm so fed up with my thoughts of it
And my memory
And how every other tune that plays
Is just a lead into it

That's the reason I'm so sick of this song
So tired of it
So done with thinking
The rhyming scheme's neat
Said I'm so sick of this song
So crap and slow
Might be time to smash the radio

(Leave me alone)
Leave me alone
Don't make me think about that line
That I once admired
Let it go
Smashing up the radio

Cos I'm so sick of this song
So tired of it
So done with thinking
The rhyming scheme's neat
Said I'm so sick of this song
So crap and slow
Might be time to smash the radio
(So why can't I smash up the radio?)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

My Anniversary

It's my anniversary next month. At the end of April. Yup, on April 28, it'll be a year since I bid a fond, and somewhat reluctant farewell, to the Centre for Anxiety Disorders and Trauma. It'll be a year since I walked out of that building - that building which had in some ways become my home away from home - and took my first, tentative steps into my post-therapy life, just like a newly born deer trying to figure out how his or her legs work.

(I did not in fact walk home from the Centre after my last session - I got the 68 or 468 bus, but the image of the newborn deer was too good to resist. Plus, with the way some of these bus drivers manoeuvre their vehicles, and the lack of seats, I do spend much of my time on London buses moving around like a newly born animal with little awareness of his or her limbs).

Some choose to mark their anniversaries with flowers. Some say it with jewellry. Others still choose chocolates. The Centre, however, chooses to mark our anniversary with the exchange of questionnaires. Nothing says I love you - not just as a former patient, but as a useful research subject - like two ten page documents asking you about every single aspect of your anxiety.


It reminds me of the old days... So many significant events in our relationship have been marked by questionnaires - the start, the finish, and, er, more or less every therapy session in between.

The questionnaires have made me nostalgic. I have, in the past year, grown capable of standing on my own two feet and facing anxiety alone. But there are times when I'd like nothing more than to be thrown back and forth on a 68 bus as I travel down to the Centre. I'd like to sit in the waiting room, and notice that the "window" is actually a lightbox. I'd like to sink down into a comfortable chair and say and sometimes laugh about what's on my mind - and then figure out how to deal with it.

But time moves on. The questionnaires prove that. They've moved on. Being the Obsessive Compulsive Professional User of Language that I am, I find myself able to spot new questions with ease. So even though there are some of the classics there - "do you believe there are lucky and unlucky numbers?", to which I want to respond "I couldn't tell you today, it's the 13th, but I'll get back to you tomorrow" - there are also some exciting new questions. Case in point: I'm asked if I'm bothered by intrusive nonsense words, or by music. Interestingly, I am. When I go home, I find that I words and sentences which make no sense popping into my head as I lie in bed before falling asleep. And they're always spoken by my family. I'm aware it's not actually my family saying these words, but it's said in their voices.

And most mornings I wake up with a song going round in my head. It's interesting to realise that these symptoms are common enough amongst Obsessive Compulsives to warrant being on a questionnaire. In the past, I would have worried about both the intrusive words, and the songs. When both started popping into my head, though, I must have been fairly well into therapy, because I regarded them as intrusive thoughts and didn't get into a debate about why my mind was getting occupied with nonsense words spoken by my parents.

There's no doubt that every day of my life is made easier because of what I learnt during therapy. The intrusive words and music is only one example. Some things I do now would have been impossible to do before I spent six months travelling over to the Centre every week or so. So I will of course fill in the questionnaires, and send 'em back. Cos nothing says I love you - not just as a former provider of therapy, but as something that gave me skills which make my life better every day - than two ten page questionnaires where the answers to most questions reveal someone who doesn't suffer with anxiety anywhere near as much as she did before she met you, you ol'Centre, you.

Wabbits? Weally?

The mystery of the current Yahoo! Mail Seasonal Tableau continues. Fire Blanket thinks The Three Bundles of Mystery are, in fact, not mysterious at all but are rabbits. Eating. Sideways on. Obviously.

BB however, remains unconvinced by this thesis and, so, I'm sorry to say, do I. I cite in support of my argument, firstly, BB's "no visible wabbit ears" theory. One would expect a depiction of a wabbit, even when sideways on, to feature ears prominently. Instead, I see a head which appears to have a beak. Secondly, I feel that the Bundles of Mystery are too big to be rabbits, especially when viewed alongside those animals in the Tableau that we have positively identified as our fluffy tailed friends. Thirdly, I feel the colouring and body shape is wrong for a wabbit. They seem too big.

As a result, I'm afraid I must declare that the Grand Yahoo! Mail Seasonal Tableau Mystery of 2006 continues. I am willing to accept any alternative explanations, and will reconsider Fire Blanket's Wabbit Theory if further evidence is offered in its support.

I am also looking into ways to contact Yahoo! to solve this mystery. Unfortunately, they have wisely hidden their contact details from public view - perhaps they're worried about having their time wasted by, say, people enquiring about their Seasonal Mail Tableau - and ask for all press enquiries to be directed to an external PR agency. I have decided, to give myself an ego boost, to consider McReadie Nuggets a publication and myself thus a member of the press. My experience of external PR agencies is not positive, but I am willing to go to any lengths to uncover the truth, even if it means conversing with a PR agency full of posh and thick stuck up public school idiots who are back stabbing and thoroughly unpleasant and insincere. Scum.

Five minutes later
OK, in retrospect, I should not have written that past sentence. I was planning to include a link to the blog in any contact with the PR agency, in order to show what a big press outlet they're dealing with here, and to demonstrate that this issue has become the talk of the entire world (well, OK, of London, Bath, and New Zealand). My Spidey senses tell me that they may be less inclined to help me having read my diatribe on PR people.

Fire Blanket - on second thought, mark me down for a copy of "Bang Your Life Into Shape", and send it over to me with urgency.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Do I Need An Eye Test? You Decide.

The answer to the question: "Does McReadie need an eye test?" is, I suspect, "yes". I probably need an eye test pretty much all of the time. I've worn glasses since I was three years old, I'm astigmatic (to which I have found, with some relief, that - despite the name - there is generally no stigma attached), and my eyes seem to have steadily deteriorated, or at least changed, over the years.

But, being the lover of democracy I am, I have decided to let you - you readers of Nuggets - decide whether or not I should be popping down to the optician. You see, something has happened lately which has made me wonder whether my eyes are getting worse, whether I've suddenly become very stupid, or whether I'm both more blind and more stupid of late.

What happened? Yahoo have decided it's Spring.

Let me explain.

I'm a big user of Yahoo mail, and for about the past six months, Yahoo have been accompanying the login page for their mail service with a little seasonal tableau. I loved the one for Autumn - all turning leaves and shades of brown - I tolerated the one for Winter (it seemed to take ages to load) and, yesterday, found that it was now officially Spring.

If you click here, you'll see the way in which Yahoo have chosen to mark Spring. It's quite cute - rainbows, blue skies, fields, and animals. On the right, a cute little rabbit. I love wild wabbits.

However, on the left, there are three twitching things which are making me wonder whether I need an eye test and/or a brain scan. I can only assume the twitching things are animals of some sort. But what the hell are they meant to be? On first glance, I thought they were geese. But what would geese be doing in a Spring meadow with a wabbit? And why were they twitching? And why were there three of them?

So I got closer to my computer screen. I performed a close examination of the animals. I had hoped for resolution. I got confusion.

I'll be honest with you:

I have not the faintest idea what these animals are meant to be. I couldn't even take a wild guess. I am officially flummoxed.

And it's driving me crazy.

So, hey, do me a favour, wouldya?. Wander over to the site. Take a look at the animals. Tell me what you think they are, either in the comments or in the new poll on the right. And then tell me if I need an eye test. Or an intelligence test. Or both.

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