How time flies. It seems like the last one was just a few months ago, and here I am forgetting to promote this one properly. Every year, in June, the National Media Museum holds a festival of SF/fantasy/horror themed films, TV shows, talks, etc. 9th Fantastic Films Weekend sacrifice and horror films festival UK

Jennie first dragged me up for the 2007 weekend, soon after we'd met, and I've been to each one since. I normally find the whole thing utterly exhausting, so this year will be cutting back attendance a bit. And probably baking more cakes in the time I'm back here. OTOH, I might just take the netbook and sit in the cafe when too exhausted to watch.

The IMAX'll be showing Avatar, Alice in Wonderland and Prince of PErsia, none of which I've seen yet. The free FFW2010 TV Heaven looks interesting (Captain Scarlet!) and they've got a great archive of other stuff to watch as well, last time I went I watched an episode of Mr Benn, that was cool.

Oh, they're also doing a double bill of 28 Days/Weeks later, showing David Bowie's first screen role, showing Psycho and a big pile of other films I haven't seen yet (What's On).

It's just up the road from us by bus, there're local B&Bs, and there's a possibility of floor space still, but we might be overbooked on that one. If you're on my access list, my 'how to get here' from two years agos is still current: Come visit! Watch films! Drink!

So, late notice, but, y'know, elections; anyone else planning to attend?

ETA: How did I miss Robocop on the programme? Sun, 6 Jun 18:45, surely worth coming just to see that on the big screen, right?
So, today, we had a few problems. We ran out of petrol on the way from school to Tesco's (not the best start), but while in Tesco, I made a cardinal error. Perhaps not as daft as going up against a Sicilian when death is on the line, but nearly.

Y'see, I need to buy some more toys for the school playground, so I thought I'd get some prices. So me, [personal profile] miss_s_b and [personal profile] amazing_holly, having finished our shop, took a quick detour into the toy aisle. Their rangeof die-cast toys is both varied and cheap, which is what I needed to know. Unfortunately, on the way out, my eye was taken by some Transformers toys on offer. Now, when I was a kid, Transformers were my favourite toys EVER (I even had a complete run of the UK print of the comic).

So, naturally, I had a quick glance. And Miss Holly saw a Bumblebee, and fell in love. Jennie saw one she wanted, and despite me pointing out we're a bit skint, she decided we should buy some "for Holly". I got an Optimus Prime (never had one as a kid, too expensive).

"I want my Megatron"

So, in the checkout queue, I had two problems. One was that the girl was rather pretty, so someone couldn't resist flirting with her and telling her how nice her hair was. The bigger problem, of course, was someone else complaining and saying I want my Megatron in a bit of a strop.

So, out of the 6 year old and the 31 year old (who's been seriously proposed for a peerage), which one do you think was flirting outrageously, and which was having a strop over being able to play with the toy we hadn't paid for yet.

What do you think?
Why is it, when you've got loads of stuff to do, there's loads of interest in the news and on t'telly, that your body throws a stinking headcold at you that doesn't affect your physical abilities at all but completely messes up your brain's ability to think?

I'm trying to put the finishing touches to a blog redesign for a friend who's actually going to pay me good, solid money. Can I concentrate on it for long enough to actually, y'know, type a line of code?

Can I buggery.

The Prime Minister has finally gone and called the General Election, so it's 4 weeks and 2 days until we all get to go to the polls (or not, according to preference), and after that the really interesting stuff starts. Can I get my head into the right space to write about it? Dinnae be daft.

I'm the election agent for three local council candidates as well as having my own campaign to run in the 4th local seat. Spent the best part of yesterday out delivering, have a new leaflet to write and send to the organiser. Except my brain won't concentrate for long enough. On top of that I have loads of volunteers to help organise (seriously, we've got more local volunteers than the Tories have, how cool is that?), but I can't even type their email addresses properly.

Still, at least I've managed to write a post for t'blog. There's a reasonable chance that this may continue. There's also a good chance I'll keep using Twitter a lot over the next few weeks; I've got a new phone with a decent internet access y'see.

So, anyone want to come to Yorkshire and help me get my brain working?
Apparently, if I stop posting here, people will start ringing me to check I'm ok, or wondering what I'm up to, or other similar things. This is especially true if I just, y'know, stop writing stuff and stop commenting elsewhere.

Well, I did. It started as a weekend break from t'internet in which I didn't even look at my email, then it turned into a few months where I simply scanned my email for important stuff, occasionally checked into Twitter, but otherwise didn't read any of my reading, friends or feed pages and simply turned off. Honestly? It's been good.

So, what have I been doing instead? Well, making money definitely wasn't one of them. Ah well, that'll have to start changing. What I have been doing is enjoying life in many respects.

Learnt how to bake and cook

I've learnt, not just how to bake (which is quite easy), but also how to actually, y'know, properly cook. I am no longer scared by a recipe that requires I chop an onion. I know what a vichyssoise is (but not how to spell it), and have even made one. My carrot, cream and orange soup, adapted from Mary Berry's recipe, is quite simply gorgeous, and I successfully made baguettes yesterday.

I've been helping [personal profile] miss_s_b in the garden, in which we have potatoes, beetroot, oregano and even scented geraniums growing well. The newly planted garlic is already sprouting, so that'll be nice for next year.

Biggest bestest cake in the world

I've been spending time with [personal profile] amazing_holly, reading, playing games, cooking and having fun. I managed to get her to teach herself the basics of multiplication and division while baking a cake. I even, as a reward for her for sticking with learning to be good enough at Speed Racer to actually beat Mummy in a championship cooked, with her, the biggest bestest cake that Mister Mat has ever made! which has, somehow, now become the biggest bestest cake in the world. Well, she is 6. It was fun making it though, even if it was so big it had gone dry before we finished it.

But also? I've been playing games. A lot of games. For this you can mostly blame [personal profile] liadnan. Y'see, awhileback I had a catastrophic OS failure involving a critical Fx vulnerability and a dodgy porn site, and we gave up on fixing Windows and switched to Ubuntu for the main desktop. I had some problems getting a few things to work, and he pointed me at the wonder that is the world of Linux repositories. So I installed some, to see what I could find.

Open source, extendable games

Mostly, I found games. Open Source, extendable, games. Based on some wonderful classics like Elite, Civilisation, Sin City and similar. I will, I hope, write up the ones I enjoyed, just so I can have a record of them. I may even write up the ones I hated, to remind me not to install them again. In the meantime, I'm back. I've been reading, and even commenting on, most of my reading pages, and plan to completely reorganise them to keep my sanity in place.

In the meantime, enough about me, what've you guys been up to, have I missed much?
So, today was the 2nd annual visit of the parents. They do a lot of weekends away, spent last weekend in Cheshire at an event and have an event next weekend in North Yorkshire, so they come to visit us today and tomorrow.

So we have an attack of planned vs actual.

So, about that late afternoon arrival time... )

My Mum orders a 'snack' lunch for us... )

A damn fine evening meal, only slightly spoiled by not having enough space left in our bellies... )

Tomorrow? We might go to Holmfirth. We might go to Wakefield for the National Sculpture Park (if only just to annoy Germaine "call me Professor" Greer). Don't know yet. I do know it requires us meeting my parents and the ungodly early hour of 10am. Wish us luck.
Spent the last weekend at the spring Liberal Democrat conference just up the road in Harrogate. It's one of those events that holds a soft spot for me—my first one was 2 years ago, just 2 weeks after I'd met [livejournal.com profile] theyorkshergob, so I spent both evenings with her in Leeds—we both think we'd have ended up together regardless, but the ability to meet up in Yorkshire really did speed things up. Anyway, it was a damn good weekend.
Met Howard Dean )
Official Voting Member—the POWER )
Faith Schools—they're WRONG, damnit! )
If, like me, you want to see the end of faith schools, take heart from this policy, it's a damn fine step in the right direction, and much better than what any party had before. If you think they're a good idea? I refer you to the words of the Accord chair, Rabbi Jonathan Romain:
I want my children to go to a school when they can sit next to a Christian, play football in the break with a Muslim, do homework with a Hindu and walk back with an atheist - interacting with them and them getting to know what a Jewish child is like. Schools should build bridges, not erect barriers
Amen to that.

G'night all. Gotta take the Shrub to school in the morning, and Jennie's getting an 8am train back.
On Monday evening. [livejournal.com profile] miss_s_b did, with a fair bit of help from Shrub and me, bake cupcakes. A sign that I'm getting naturalised is I'm now in the habit of calling them buns (mostly, admittedly, because Shrub gets confused otherwise). SB was in charge on Monday, because I'd not baked cakes for years (and years and years), and simply lack confidence in the kitchen.

It's not that I can't cook (granddad was a chef, I grew up around farms), more that, generally, I couldn't be arsed. But, y'know, I do enjoy cooking, so I'm trying to build my confidence up.

I learnt how not to do it

Anyway. I learnt lots on Monday. Specifically, I learnt how not to do it, and that, if in doubt, use less mix in the bun case, not more, which was SBs preference.

So, with us having eaten them all by this evening, I decided to cook some more up. Theoretically SB was going to be in the room with me making sure I didn't mess up, but that would've meant getting out of bed and that just wasn't going to happen.

I quartered the recipe

Given that we'd a) made far too many and b) they'd all overflowed the cases on Monday, we decided to quarter the recipe to make just 12 (ie one tins worth). So, from memory, I quartered the recipe.

Except that I mixed up the cake recipe and the bread recipe. So when I quartered a 800g of flour and weighed out 200g, I was actually measuring out the exact same amount of flour as we used on Monday.

Ah well. We now have a nice sponge cake as well as 126 cupcakes. I did cook 12, but, y'know, they were fresh and looked tempting. Shrub likes them too.

The sponge cake is still cooling, SB's made some buttercream icing to use as a filler, some of which is already on the buns.

Eat the mistakes

This cooking larks a lot easier than some people make it out to be y'know. As long as, y'know, you're prepared to eat the mistakes.

Nom nom nom.
Last year, Yorkshire was hit by major flooding, and several decent pubs were forced to close. The pub just down the canal from Jennie's was shut for 9 months afterwards.

This year, the town closest to where my parents come from has been flooded. But the people of Kingsbridge didn't let that bother them:
BBC NEWS | UK | Pub regulars drink through floods

Now, there's a reason my parents left that area. There's a reason I left Devon. You're right, they probably had nothing better to do at all. But even so. Devon pubs stay open even when flooded.

Oh yeah, the accents in that video? Sound so very like the bits of my family that still live around there. I may have a Devonshire accent, but it's not that broad.
Before I start wading through loads of links, searches and similar, is there out there somewhere a simple guide on petitioning for a town council referendum? Brighouse is part of Calderdale Metropolitan Borough, but several local towns also have their own town council.

Not my area of expertise (yet) )
Went to the Halifax cabinet meeting, got a result, yay! )
And there'd be a lot of support for something I wanted to campaign for anyway )
Any other stuff people know'd be cool )
Today, I went to Sheffield to attend a conference, knowing that I'd get to interview Nick Clegg while there. Unfortunately, despite arriving at the outskirts of Sheffield approximately an hour before I needed to, I was half an hour late for the actual meeting. Why?

Because Sheffield doesn't know what signposts are for


Here's an example. The conference is at Sheffield Cathedral. Lovely venue BTW, just about the right size, theoretically easy to find, etc. So while driving the outskirts of the city, I get to the ring road and there's a sign that says "for the Cathedral and [other stuff], follow Cathedral District". Simple enough. So I do, and the Cathedral District is well signposted along the ring road. Except for one small omission. No exit sign. At least not one that I saw. Guys, if you're putting up signs aimed at visitors, pointing out important attractions and destinations, it's useful if you make sure they actually tell visitors where they need to turn off.

Another example. One of the exits from the ring road is closed, so I can't follow the route in. There are nice diversion signs up. So I follow them. Unfortunately, at the next exit to the roundabout, the diversion sign is almost impossible to see from the lane you end up in. So this poor, and now late, stressed and frustrated visitor is in the wrong lane (again) and has no clue where to go. Good job I have a reasonable sense of direction and Google Maps installed on the phone.

Sheffield Lib Dems? I know you only took control of the council in May, and I'm told you're aware it's a disgrace, but still, please, for the benefits of your great city, the supposed hub of South Yorkshire, please sort out the directions signs so they actually help visitors. Thanks.

If you need some help, send some fact finders down to Devon. I grew up there, it's only when you leave you realise the lack of the damn things everywhere else. There's no point hoping for an increase in tourism if the tourists just get lost and frustrated...

This rant brought to you by the 'too exhausted to even proofread' section of Mat's Brain. The interview itself will, hopefully, get a write up tomorrow. Because, y'know, dude! I interviewed Nick Clegg. And prompted him to have a dig, on the record, at both Polly Toynbee and Jackie Ashley. Yay!
So, today, we did go to the Library. It was shut for renovations most of the summer so I couldn't register, but it's now reopened. It is a typical small English town library, gifted to the town by the effective founder, and has an attached art gallery. It's gorgeous.

I registered (painless process all on computer), but forgot to ask how many books I'd be allowed. Given that when I grew up in Devon it was 4, Exeter uni was I think 6, and Merton in Wimbledon was similar, while browsing I chose a pile, then put several back on the shelves.

When checking out, I did ask the question. 20.

You can take out 20 books at once


Plus it's a gorgeous building, in a nice park setting, and it's less'n ten minutes walk. I need to remember to return my books on time and not get banned from this library. Plus, as SB discovered, they seem to have a complete set of Asterix books. Shrub's likely a little young for them. Probably. Anyway...
[Poll #1286302]
I did see it on the shelf, and made her take it out to read. Pretty sure I leant [livejournal.com profile] susannah_banana my copy, else I'd have put it top of her pile already.

Shrub's already read the two books she took out. Which means given it's half term I might have to take her back for more. What a shame. I'll have to force myself.
So, the purchase of the Ka has provoked much discussion here and elsewhere[1] (bunch of petrolheads and weirdoes), and Jennie has decided that she wants to name it[2]. She has a preferred option[3]. I'm not too keen[4]. So I thought I'd enlist some help from you lot[5]. There now follows a poll[6]:
[Poll #1231865]
I mean, seriously, why would you want to give your car a name, let alone a silly pun? Oh, wait, I'm in Yorkshire, it's Jennie. Combine the two and I'm doomed, aren't I?

Oh, the other scary thing? She went to the post office today to pay her wage in, and I met her at Sainsbury's to do some shopping. She'd bought a copy of the Highway Code and some L plates. Be afraid...

[1] A friends locked post at her personal journal.
[2] It's a really stupid idea of a name.
[3] I mean it, really really stupid.
[4] I hate it.
[5] Help me oh friends list, you're my only hope.
[6] As always, non-LJers will need to login with an OpenID or create an LJ account to vote.
Taken yesterday on the camera phone, completely pointless silliness, but it has ducks. You can, sort of, make the out, they start at the bottom of the depth pole.

The dog sensibly ignoring them and wallowing in is Byron, the one haring around all over the place chasing anything that moves is Roxy.

And this is posted just because I can. Embed code that works at the right resolution courtesy of Ryan.
Sobriety is overrated. Especially if you've spent the evening in the company of a beautiful girl serving beer in the best real ale pub in Yorkshire. During their bi-annual beer festival.

Oh, she's also (finally) started work on building the pub website. So it needs some links in so that Google starts to pay attention. Hint.
Just received by email from the organisers of the 7th Fantastic Films Weekend (Friday 13 to Sunday 15 June):
Hot off the press (or whatever the equivalent is on the interweb) here's the full FFW 2008 programme, almost all confirmed...

Cut for length )
Weekend Pass £40 (£35 concs)
Day Pass £20 (£15 concs)
Grindhouse/Dr. Phibes double-bills £10 (£7 concs)
BTW. Passes do NOT include IMAX titles

If you've got any questions let me know. Oh, and I hope to have at least some of the John Carpenter's exclusive intro to The Thing on YouTube for you all in the next week or so, as a nice little teaser.

Cheers,

Your friends at FFW HQ
I've bolded the stuff I'd like to see, but nothing specifc yet—some of the stuff I haven't highlighted (like Phibes) is cool but I've watched it recently as Jennie's got the DVD. It's in Bradford, 20 minutes by bus from us here in Brighouse, anyone wanting advice for accommodation give us a shout, sofa space may still be available.

Facebook event for those interested.
I've mentioned the Fantastic Films Weekend a few times recently, but today the National Media Museum put the new website live so we have some details:
This year the line-up includes the Tarantino/Rodriguez Grindhouse double-bill, the ultimate Cushing/Lee pairing in Dracula, Daughters of Darkness, Eyes without a Face, Blood on Satan’s Claw and John Carpenter’s The Thing in 70mm with an exclusive video introduction from Carpenter himself. Our guests will be cult filmmakers Harry Kümel, Peter Duffell, Piers Haggard and Robert Fuest.
Now, I'm not a massive horror film fan (because most horror films don't involve space ships), but I can appreciate a good flick, and the normal selection they've had has been brilliant, last year included Soylent Green, 300 on the IMAX, a showing of Ghostwatch and Forbidden Planet. So that's some proper SF, some decent horror, some weird FX driven stuff and SPARTA!

It's a really cool venue in Bradford, just a few minutes walk from Bradford Interchange bus and rail station, incredibly easy to get to. Especially from our house, the 363 takes 20 minutes from the end of our street. So that's:

7th Fantastic Films Weekend runs from Friday 13 to Sunday 15 June

Admit it, you're interested. And you want to come. You can even throw in a visit to sunny Brighouse and see where I live and everything.

And, honestly? Bradford's actually quite a nice place as well. Honest. Or you could do what some of the British Horror Forum regulars are doing (including [livejournal.com profile] pmoodie?), and stay in the hotel down the road from us because it's dead cheap and really nice. And they probably won't bite. Unless you're into that sort of thing. And I know you lot, some of you are...
There's a dialect meme (what do I call things) doing the rounds that I'm finding quite interesting, I've seen answers in Aussie, New Orleans, Yorksher, London and Real Places (ie Devon). So I thought I'd compile the common answers into a poll (linguistic shifts interest me). As always, if you don't have a Livejournal account you can login and vote with any OpenID, which everyone's got these days. So, without further ado...
[Poll #1169647]Huge bunch of sources for some of those questions (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7), and some of the differences and similarities are strange. Yorkshire is, from what I can tell, more "different" than most of the other places, Londoners and Devonshire folk speak more similarly to USians and Aussies thanthey do to, supposedly, fellow English peeps. Well, God's Own Country and all that. I still cause confusion calling cakes cakes and dinner dinner (seriously, the word for lunch is dinner ? How does that work?). Ah well, have fun voting y'all.

[*] Two different people who I'm sure don't read each other did the same joke for that one, just for different countries.

Off out now, discovering the joys of Bradford nightlife. Wish me luck.
  • 12:03 waking up and getting ready to go to Leeds. Not sure what the plan is after that but Leeds is a good start. #
  • 14:03 scared by the huge crowd in Scarbrough, not queueing for pizza, but Whitelocks had a table, yay! Leeds very busy. #
  • 18:09 wishing Inspector Sands would get his arse to Platform 7 so they turn the bloody message off #
  • 22:49 watching The Mind Robber. Zoe really does have a fine arse. #

Microblogging by SMS, using LoudTwitter and Twitter.
Went to Leeds today, Jennie's off for a hen night in York this evening so split the journey up. Plan had been to have lunch in the excellent Scarbrough Hotel opposite the station, but it was packed full of Leeds fans and all the seating was taken by a hen party, so we went on into town and ended up lucking out with seating at Whitelocks. Considering that it's the oldest pub in Leeds, it's damn impressive. Went there before[2] but not actually had a meal. Um, yeah. Menu made it look a bit pricy. Really, it's not. It's really not. I ordered veggie bangers and mash with a side of onion rings. Plate full. And really really good. Jennie had roast chicken. She got a roast chicken. Seriously. It even looked good to me, and I don't eat meat. If you're in Leeds and looking for good food or good beer, either is worth a try, and Whitelocks is just cool anyway.

We wandered a bit after that, I wanted to get hold of a book. Smiths didn't have it, but they did have a nice pile of DVDs on offer and, well, we couldn't resist, so more classic Who[1] and a few other things, including a boxed set of wooden board games[3]. Waterstone's didn't have it either, but they did have an import of Android's Dream so that's ok. We decided that out of Borders and Waterstone's, Waterstone's wins, could've spent all day there, easily. Instead we just spent money we don't really have. Ah well, books are never bad.

So, given she's off galivanting in York and I'm not in the mood to go back out, it's me, the dogs, a wide screen TV and a glass (or three) of whisky. After a nice long bath that is. What should I watch first then?

[Poll #1162622]
[1] And some 5th Doctor stuff, does that count as "classic"?
[2] our first proper 'date' as it happens
[3] Does anyone actually play backgammon properly? Never actually tried it.
  • 13:27 arriving into Leeds station hoping at least one shop is open... #
  • 17:12 impressed by the Scarbrough, happy with CEX and very scared by the amount Jennie spent in Lush. #

Microblogging by SMS, it's all the rage donchaknow. Using LoudTwitter and Twitter.
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)

British Liberal, house husband, school play leader and stepdad. Campaigner, atheistic feminist, amateur baker. Male.

Known to post items of interest on occasions. More likely to link to interesting stuff. Sometimes talks about stuff he's done. Occasionally posts recipes for good food. Planning to get married, at some point. Enjoying life in Yorkshire.

Likes comments. Especially likes links. Loves to know where people came from and what they were looking for. Mostly posts everything publicly. Sometimes doesn't. Hi.

Mat Bowles

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Stuff and nonsense

I'm the Chair of the Brighouse branch of the Liberal Democrats & the membership secretary for Calderdale Lib Dems and run the web campaign for the local candidates. I have a job, a stepdaughter and a life.

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