Saturday, February 19, 2011

Life's wisdom. Vacuum cleaners, bagless

Moving through life, you pick up pieces of wisdom and experience. And my current life-lesson, learned quite recently, is that it's a bad idea to buy a bagless vacuum cleaner.

There are attractions, of course. When you're about to buy a new vacuum cleaner, and you're looking through the Argos catalogue for instance, and you see the adverts for vacuum cleaners without bags, you think, 'Well that seems like a good idea.' Because the bags are quite annoying. When it gets full you have to change it, which means buying a new one, and that can be awkward. They don't sell these bags in that many shops. And when you find them, they all have complicated numbers, like '30005 XJB' And you look at the bag, and think - 'Will that fit my vacuum model 30005 XJA, or do I need a different one?' And then you probably arrive home with the wrong bags and it's just very frustrating.

So, given all that provocation by the bags, it's sort of natural to think 'To hell with it, I'm going to buy a bagless vacuum cleaner.' Which brings me back to looking through the Argos catalogue, and thinking - 'That looks fairly cheap, and it doesn't have a bag. I'll buy that one.'

But this, I now advance as a general theory, is a mistake. The bagless vacuum cleaner is fine at the start. Sucks up the dirt, and no bag to replace. The problem is when you try to empty it. Which is probably when it gets so full it just won't work anymore. And then you find out something they don't tell you in the catalogue - emptying a bagless vacuum cleaner is really disgusting. You open it up and instead of just whipping out one full bag and putting in another empty one, you actually have to clean out all this filth you've sucked up for the past six months. And it doesn't all come out easily. Some of it is all squashed up and compacted and you have to kind of scrape it out and it's really disgusting. I hate cleaning out this bagless vacuum cleaner. It's appalling. I regard the whole thing as a terrible mistake.

Note - none of this blog is applicable to fancy Dyson cleaners and other high-end devices. They may be completely different. All my experience of household appliances comes from the cheap end of the Argos catalogue.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Price Increase Scandal

I like this painting by Picasso, sold last week at auction for £25 million. It depicts Marie-Therese Walter, with whom Picasso had a long affair. Picasso met her at a tube station in Paris in 1927. She was 17 at the time and he approached her with the line 'I am Picasso. You and I are going to do great things together.' I couldn't help but be impressed with Picasso for this. What a rogue. Am now eager to try it out. There isn't a tube station nearby but there is a large bus station so I'm off to give it a try. What could go wrong? I can definitely see this working out well.

It's Valentine's day. This generally reminds me of the tragic scene in Buffy when Xander gives Cordelia a necklace as a Valentines present. She immediately breaks up with him, thereby crushing Xander's spirit. Cordelia was a wonderful character in Buffy. I was sorry when she left the show, and she was never so good in Angel.

But in the main scandal of the day, my local Sainsbury's supermarket is now charging £1 for a packet of hobnobs! My favourite biscuits - or cookies - have rocketed in price. I was staggered when I noticed this. No doubt using the recession as an excuse, Sainsbury's have whacked up the price. It's scandalous. Only a few weeks ago they were 85 pence, and in fact quite recently they were on sale for the reduced price of 45 pence. Now it's a pound for a packet! I'm completely outraged. Hobnobs are a large part of my staple diet. I depend on them. £1 for a packet of Hobnobs. It's just not right. May stage protest outside the shop, with an angry placard.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Recent Cultural Activities

It's been a big few days of culture here. Meaning culture I can do without moving from the couch, obviously. It's not like I'm going to make the effort to go to the opera or anything.

First I finished a large batch of Buffy comics. I'd fallen behind with the series. These comics counted as Buffy Season 8, a continuation of the TV show, and were overseen by Joss Whedon. I'm not really sure what to say about them. I don't love these comics, but I love Buffy and it's good to have more.

Next I watched Star Trek. This was fairly recent film, with new actors playing the young Spock and the young Captain Kirk. I've never been a huge Star Trek fan - apart from Voyager, which I liked purely because of the awesome beauty of 7 of 9 - but I quite enjoyed this film. The plot wasn't great but it all looked entertaining. And there was a green-skinned woman in a bikini. I liked her. Possibly my critical standards suffer when confronted by attractive alien women in bikinis. But I'm sure I'm not alone in that.

And this Star Trek film reminded me of an old record, from 1979 I think, Where's Captain Kirk by Spizzeneregi, which was a big post-punk favourite. You used to hear that at gigs and clubs all the time.

So I went and listened to it on YouTube, and when I was on YouTube, just browsing around, I happened across something by Eno, and I thought 'I haven't listened to Here Come the Warm Jets for a really long time.' So I listened to it and thought, as I have thought before, this is one of the greatest albums ever. It was Eno's first solo record after he left Roxy Music and it is brilliant.

I've always believed the title - Here Come the Warm Jets - was a reference to urination, and probably something to do with Eno's large collection of pornography, though Wikipedia suggests otherwise. But anyway it reminded me of a book I hadn't thought about for a long time, Story of the Eye, written by Georges Bataille in 1928. Which, as far as I remember, does contain a lot of sex with people pissing on each other. Although it is a very long time since I read this. (I seem to say that a lot these days.) I remember reading it when I was at school, right after I read The Story of O. I liked The Story of O much better than Story of the Eye. But my blog is now lurching off course into something like 'Fetish books I read furtively at school instead of concentrating in geography class,' so, getting back to my cultural achievements in the past few days, I also read The Diary of Lady Murasaki by Murasaki Shikibu in Japan around 1008. Its a diary of her time at the Imperial Palace. Murasaki also wrote The Tale of Genji, which is a Japanese classic. I've never read it, but I will have to read it now because her diary about her life at court was so interesting.

The Japanese court was really civilised around the year 1000. Much more civilised than court life in Britain, I'm sure. The King of England at the time was Ethelred the Unready, one of England's best-named Kings. The King of Scotland was Cináed mac Duib, or Kenneth III. His grand-daughter Gruoch was Lady Macbeth, as written about by Shakespeare.

Am now worn out with culture and will return to watching SpongeBob SquarePants for the rest of the week.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Romantic Comedy

I just watched a film called Suburban Girl because I thought it was going to be a romantic comedy. But it turned out not to be a comedy at all, just a romance. I persevered with it because it starred Sarah Michelle Gellar, who was of course Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I'm willing to give Buffy a chance in any film, even though I was fairly unimpressed by her career choice of Scooby-Doo movies.

I enjoyed Suburban Girl but once again felt thwarted in my efforts to find a good romantic comedy. I am starting to suspect that the genre may have peaked with When Harry Met Sally. Maybe there will never be another one as good as that again. Or one that reaches the heights of Annie Hall. Or even Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Actually, I sort of lost the inspiration to look for good romantic comedies around 2003 when I went to see The Sweetest Thing at the cinema. This was meant to be a romantic comedy but it was such a bad film I walked out half way through. At some point in the film, the main characters - one of whom was Cameron Diaz, who might have known better - were all sitting in a restaurant when for no apparent reason they all broke into a 'raunchy' song and dance. The film wasn't actually a musical, but despite this the director apparantly thought it would help things along if the women started singing something called 'the penis song.' This was so bad, and so inappropriate, that I was staggered when it happened. I still regard it as one of the worst scenes I've ever seen in any film.

I was so fed up I left the cinema. When I was walking out I grunted in the direction of the women at the cashier's office, saying something like "This is the worst film ever made." And this woman, who turned out to be the manageress, said "Well perhaps it's not your sort of film…"

I understood why she said that. Before venturing out to the cinema I'd probably been sitting round writing for four or five days and had forgotten to get shaved, or changed, and possibly did not look like the sort of person who enjoyed a good romantic comedy. In fact I may have looked like a tramp who wandered in off the street.

So I said to her that I was a fan of romantic comedies but this one had just been really terrible, and was a disgrace to the genre. And then the manageress smiled in a friendly manner and gave me a voucher to come back to the cinema for free, because I'd hated the film so much. I thought that was good customer service from the Streatham Odeon. I liked that they gave me a free voucher. But the whole incident did make me lose heart about finding romantic comedies I enjoyed.