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I made a video [Apr. 4th, 2010|01:11 am]
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Eduard Khil asked everyone to write lyrics for the "Trololo" song. I did, then K and I filmed it. Here it is:

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I embedded a video as an experiment [Dec. 21st, 2009|11:44 pm]
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Rondel [Aug. 10th, 2009|11:39 pm]
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Nothing rhymes with Ferrari. Or Lambourghini.

Rondel on seeing a customised Lada

You’ll never make a flash Ferrari
From a Lada number 9.
- Though alloy hub caps look just fine
- The booming stereo and very
- Loud exhaust shock the unwary
- And bucket seats support your spine
You’ll never make a flash Ferrari
From a Lada number 9.
- Go-faster stripes – well, why be chary?
- Alloyed wheels and spoiler shine
- But though for prestige you may pine,
- Though you try hard the trick to carry
You’ll never make a flash Ferrari
From a Lada number 9.
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Haiku [Jun. 11th, 2009|12:13 am]
Haiku probably doesn't really work in English. And it also suffers from the problem that there's a very, very fine line between total rubbish and any good at all. It's also very short, so I've made a sort of haiku-cycle about the seasons, seeing as that's what all haikus are supposed to mention.


A thick fog of flakes
Landing wetly on my face:
The snow covers all.

Smooth frozen pavement –
Turns a simple stroll outside
Into ice-dancing.

In slow, single file
We wade through six-inch-deep slush.
Our boots slowly leak.

Only patchy snow
Whilst trees burst into blossom.
Bromidic, I walk.

For a week each year
Moscow treats homesick Britons:
Cool breeze and showers.

I walk in a daze.
Sodden with sweat, I stumble.
The heat kills all thought.

City deserted.
Except for foreign tourists
And their Starbucks cups.

The crowds have returned.
No more shorts and miniskirts:
Summer’s fire is quenched.

A sudden ice wind –
During but a few short weeks
The trees, once more, bared.

Bustling hordes, eyes downcast
Pour underground for shelter:
Winter’s first snow falls.
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Poetry [May. 30th, 2009|03:08 pm]
Having read Stephen Fry's book on poetry, "the Ode Less Travelled", I tried writing a villanelle about a subject very important to me.

Moscow Traffic

“Don’t strap in, don’t give way, don’t look ahead.
There’s no point being cautious where you are.
For come tomorrow you may well be dead.”

That’s what my cheery Russian driver said,
As once again he swerved to miss a car:
“Don’t strap in, don’t give way, don’t look ahead”.

It’s Moscow: here the people all are bred
To plan only today, and not afar,
For come tomorrow, you may well be dead.

So break the limits, pass the lights on red.
Just bribe the cops and they will be no bar.
Don’t strap in, don’t give way, don’t look ahead.

Drive fast and drink too much, don’t go to bed.
Spend all your money, clog your lungs with tar
For come tomorrow, you may well be dead.

Here in the car I hold on, filled with dread
And think, at every jolt and every jar,
Don’t strap in, don’t give way, don’t look ahead
And come tomorrow you may well be dead.
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Mort and Roland are back [Nov. 4th, 2008|10:37 pm]
Three months' work, and a silly joke is turned into an 8-minute cartoon. It has some audio synchronisation issues, which I hope you will be able to overlook :)
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Books wot I hav red. [Jul. 6th, 2008|02:26 pm]
The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they've printed."
1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you really love (and strikethroughthe ones you hate!).
4) Reprint this list in your own LJ so we can try and track down these people who've read 6 and force books upon them ;-)

A few of the children's books were read to me (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Secret Garden, Winnie the Pooh and also a Christmas Carol) but I haven't marked them. So I've read 22 (or 26 if you count those just mentioned).

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling (well, I read the first four, and that was enough)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6. the Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte I really hated this - its only redeeming feature for me was that it wasn't very long..
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 The Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
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Book Review: a Long Way Down - Nick Hornby [Feb. 16th, 2008|01:05 am]

Click for pictureCollapse ) a Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
I really enjoyed High Fidelity and Fever Pitch but have been rather less impressed by a couple of the other Nick Hornby books I've read, including this one. Four diverse people go to a rooftop on New Year's Eve, all intending to commit suicide. When they meet each other, they decide to make a pact to survive the next few months, and hopefully to turn their lives around. The narrative is written by turns from the point of view of each of the characters.

Hornby's characters seem to say a lot of rather banal things. I think this is supposed to anchor them in reality, but often it just comes across as a bit dull. I found the petty arguments between the characters on the one hand believable but, on the other, not particularly interesting to read. Although this was presumably supposed to be a black comedy, it ended up being neither particularly dark nor particularly funny.

Johnny Depp has options to make a film of it, but I can't really imagine how that would work.
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Film Review: the Simpsons Movie [Feb. 10th, 2008|05:11 pm]

Click for pictureCollapse ) the Simpsons Movie
Homer Simpson ignores the omens of his father, and dumps the effluent from his new pet pig in Lake Springfield. This leads to the critical pollution of the lake, and for the government to contain the town of Springfield in a giant glass sphere. The Simpson family escape and go to Alaska to begin a new life.

When a film is made from a TV series, it really needs to do something to justify the longer running time and greater budget. Porridge managed it by staging a prison escape. Perhaps more pertinently, South Park presented musical, full of big production numbers, set against the backdrop of the end of the apocalypse.

Here, I never had the feeling that the Simpsons had broken free of their TV shackles - surely this is the kind of thing that happens all the time in Springfield. The animation was perhaps somewhat better than on TV - the backdrops were mostly based on 3-d models, making the whole thing look a bit like Futurama. The plot held together better than many Simpsons episodes I've watched but, apart from that, it did just feel like a normal episode but a bit longer. Not terrible, but maybe a missed opportunity.
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You're not coming in 'ere, mate [Feb. 10th, 2008|04:19 pm]
Anyone who has ever been to a nightclub in Moscow is likely to have been the victim of Face Control. If the likes of Propaganda are to keep their elite status, they definitely don't want the likes of you or me in there, even though we're not wearing trainers or jeans. It seems that one club, Dyagelev, took this policy to extremes recently, when they didn't like the look of the burly gentlemen in overalls, wearing helmets and carrying an enormous fire hose. So their club burned down.

Read the article at englishrussia, here:

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