Quote Of The Day

"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Tuesday, April 30, 2002

Memo: All Staff...
Date: 30 April 2002
Time: 16:15
Subject: May Day "Celebrations"
Dear All,
As you are probably aware Mayfair is to be targeted tomorrow.
We have been advised that it is possible that the Police will use Berkeley Square as an area to confine the demonstrators.
We would therefore suggest:
§ Don’t drive to the office
§ Dress down
§ Bring a sandwich
We will monitor the situation with the help of the building management/security and react accordingly.
Billie Ray Martin...
I got a phone call from my friend Darren last night. I like Darren. I really do. He's my friend he is. Why the creeping do you ask? Why is Darren's stock so high? I'll tell you why.

On the weekend of 1st/2nd June Billy Ray Martin is performing at Darren's Electric Cinema. She's doing an acoustic set on the Saturday night (all the hits and more) and on the Sunday night she's doing a live scoring to a film, Repulsion. I love Billy Ray Martin. I love live scoring to films.

Promised songs will include Sparks' "This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both Of Us", two Carpenter's hits and Liza's "Losing My Mind". Can't wait. And the wonderful Darren has got me two tickets reserved (they don't go on sale until tomorrow).

If you're in London and want to go too let me know today and I'll ask Darren if he can get some tickets set aside for you too.
The Truth About Gay Sex…
Each Monday for the past three weeks (last night being the third) there has been a TV program on Channel Four entitled “The Truth About…”.

The first one was called “The Truth About Lesbian Sex” and it was truly fascinating. Strap-ons, cunnilingus, body rubbing, relationships and ‘lesbian bed death’ were all explored. It was mildly titillating, genuinely good humoured and largely interesting.

Last week the show was called “The Truth About Gay Animals” and Scott Capurro was dispatched on a world wide mission to find out about gay animals. Did they exist? Would anyone be prepared to talk about them if they did? The main ‘fact or myth’ to be explored was did male animals only indulge in gay sex when there were no females around. This definition of gay sex in this case seemed to include only penetration. Many ‘experts’ seemed to hold this view and the evidence was certainly there – only our intrepid reporter wasn't happy with this 'straight by default, gay in a crisis' theory and set about to disprove it. He did manage to find some evidence to the contrary but not much. Two male swans shacking up in the West Country and a few gay goats in the States. Sadly the lesbian monkeys failed to perform on cue. Overall there seemed to be little video evidence of any gay behaviour in the animal kingdom (queendom?) and next to no scientific research has been carried out. But then again, why would you? The funniest moment was when, having collected various video clips, Scott Capurro showed the tape to that famous homophobe Baroness Young. She was at a complete loss for words while her ‘people’ hovered in the background suspecting a set-up. They were right. "It's disgusting!", she said. "Why would anyone want to look at that?". I kind of see her point.

Last night we were treated to “The Truth About Gay Sex”. And it seemed all my friends were in it! It was explicit stuff and not a little uncomfortable at times. Various gay sex terms were described and demonstrated in turn. We took a stroll through various gay sex acts: anal intercourse, fisting, rimming etc. The places were people have gay sex: bed, cruising grounds, cottages. And the use of various sex toys: a dildo and a speculum. This was spectacularly demonstrated by Jonathan Wheatley of/at Expectations. He inserted a speculum into a large water melon with a crack in it to represent an arse. Gradually he opened the speculum up to demonstrate it's use. Then, to everyone’s surprise, the water melon smashed in two with a large cracking noise. “Opps!” he said, “that doesn’t normally happen with bottoms. Obviously!”

The latter part of the show largely concerned itself with relationships. A gay couple who had been together for 27 years and seemed as happy as larry, a couple of twats who had just meet and were buying a house together and who somehow thought that they could get "married in Holland just like straight people do” and a couple who met in the cruising area in Finsbury Park and who have sex with other people as a matter of course. Throughout the show various statistics were flashed up on the screen which frankly seemed hard to believe. Things like 73.9% of gay relationships are non-monogamous, 17.3% of straight men had had gay experiences, 43.3% of gay men go cottaging etc. I can only think that there is some fluzey out there who is bucking the averages up!

On the whole the show was a fun to watch. But perhaps it rather overplayed our hand. To reveal exactly where the best cottages are and where the best cruising grounds might be considered a tad risky. Also there was one thing that stuck out (excuse the pun) for me from the whole show. And that was the complete lack of any mention of safer sex, STDs, HIV or AIDS. Quite unbelievable really.

Monday, April 29, 2002

Mayday anti-capitalism protests riots...
The date: Wed 1st May 2002
The slogan: Mayday in Mayfair
Our office's address: Mayfair

Friday, April 26, 2002

Swish of the day...
David was planning on doing his walk across London today as it's his birthday on Sunday (go wish him Happy Birthday!). I was wondering how he was getting on so sent him a SMS offering hot soup should he be passing (it's raining hard and very cold outside).
12:15:"Hope you've got your wellies on. Hot soup available if you're passing Mayfair!"
12:16:"I am in IKEA. I must be homosexual after all! The weather and sheer laziness have caused me to scale down my ambitions."
12:22:"So you're walking to IKEA? Want me to blog that for you? :)
12:23:"Go ahead!"
12:31: "And what are your plans for the next three days?"
12:33:"Duckie tomorrow. RVT Sunday"
12:37: "It is the weather for Duckie (groan)"
13:11:"Just been to the hindu temple"
13:20: "Say hi to Vishnu for me."
14:15:"Just got lost in a scary housing estate in brent. Am in willesden, planing on hampstead, but pouring again. Hmmmm"
14:21: "I'm lost in scary Oxford St trying to find you a birthday present!"
14:33:"Try BOND street, darling!"
15:01:"Uh oh. Huge BLACK storm clouds coming!"
15:08: "Swim! Mr Sim"
15:12:"Thunder and lighning very very frightening. Me! Hampstead heath not the best idea in a storm"
15:19: "Hailing here!"
15:52:"I am in a spaniard! Or the Spaniard's Inn. Turnip dick. Or Dick Turpin."
16:15: "Getting swish cottage pie-eyed?"
16:18:"Ha ha. I like the cottage pie joke"
16:28: "Sunshine on a rainy..."
16:30:"Zoe. Four seasons in one day?"
16:35: "Do I lie like a loungeroom lizard Or do I sing like a bird released"
16:37:"Everywhere you go"
16:37:"You always take the leather!"
16:38: "Tall, blonde, dark and lean Rough and tough and strong and mean"
16:39:"Gee, thanks!"
17:01: "Coming into town for a quickie? It is your birthday weekend after all!"
17:28:"God! This is so so SO beautiful. Still on the heath around kenwood. Seem to have done a huge circle but i dont mind. Blue skies, sunshine, spring greens. Ah!"
17:41: "Wait for it... Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder!"
18:25: "At suicide bridge, archway. My journey ends here. No, not in THAT way!"
18:31: "Roger. Over and out. (Bit like how you ended it, no?)"
And I thought I had a lot going on in my life...
Got this today from a chum of mine.
hi jonathan
been up to loads, just got back from Australia
otherwise have not good few months,
my flatmate has been arrested so days have
been filled with police,solictors,prisons and courts.
Have to be character witness on 2nd may,we both
have realised/admitted that we have feelings for each
other so have been bit stressed and not out much.

Sounds like a plot outline for Eastenders. Poor guy.
Never be the same again...
TLC singer Lisa Lopes was killed in car crash earlier today. I simply loved their song "Unpretty". And her rapping on Mel C's "Never Be The Same Again". A great loss. Even if she was a bit loopy sometimes.

Thursday, April 25, 2002

My friend Roger...
My friend Roger is a lovely, lovely man.

Not only is he a lovely man but he also used to be a lovely dinosaur too. A lovely big purple dinosaur. The purple dinosaur in fact. Barney. Or Euro-Barney as we used to call him. Actually he was EMEA Barney. A sort of Euro-Barney, Afro-Barney and Arabi-Barney all rolled into one.

He's been to Barney school and everything. He was professional trained in the art of being Barney. And he was very good at it. He used to work very hard.

I had the pleasure of seeing him perform at Wembley but better than that he's actually met both Tony Blair and Nelson Mandela.

Something I'll never get a chance to do dressed in a purple dinosaur suit or not!.

In his spare time Roger he is also a robot. And a very successful one. Arbie The Robot. As an American robotic performer once put it, "UK based 'Arbie the robot' ...I have the highest respect for him. Simply, he's pure class." Available for weddings, promotions and events.

Unfortunately I've never actually seen Arbie perform live and so imagine my delight when Roger informed me last night that he is performing in New Oxford Street this afternoon (5pm-7pm) at Burton (a sponsor of the England team for the FIFA World Cup 200) to promote their official England Suit.

Needless to say I shall be there and I'm taking my video camera. Come on down and give him a cheer!
Daisy Pulls It Off…
Wednesday night seems to have become theatre night what with Taboo, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Liza. In fact this year I’ve been to theatre more than in the whole of last year. It’s been a conscious decision mind you to act like a town mouse a bit more.

So last night I went with Roger, Kevin and Vicky to go and see Daisy Pulls It Off at the Lyric Theatre, Shaftsbury Avenue. It’s a revival of the jolly hockeysticks 1980 production bringing back David Gilmore (no, not that David Gilmore) as the director.

It’s a simple tale of Daisy Meredeth arriving as the first scholarship pupil at the exclusive Grangewood School for Girls in 1925. With the writer’s (Denise Deegan) tongue set very firmly in her cheek we get to witness Daisy and her chums running around in gym-slips using words like “spiffing”,“rotters”,“beastliness” and “fearful scrapes”.

The plot is a suitably ludicrous tale of high jinxes, sporty endeavours, girly crushes and hidden treasure. Yet funnily enough it is actually all rather touching. The girls seem to go round in twos: a master and an apprentice. Sound familiar?

Both the staging and acting are universally superb and we were in fits of laughter throughout. It’s good old fashion fun. A simple idea very well done.

Roger and I (being the dirty-minded people that we are) couldn’t help but pick up on some of the unintentional (?) double-entendres that seemed to pepper the script. Others claimed to have not heard them but how else can you explain the lines, “She’s such a tight muff” and ”As we were walking along the cliff tops with the storm raging around us the waves were tossing themselves up so much we could taste the salt on our lips”?

Ok, just our dirty minds then.
Pop Quiz is cancelled...
In fact every Pop Quiz in the world is cancelled. There is no point in having a Pop Quiz ever again. From now on every person who enters a Pop Quiz can get 100% of the answers 100% right. There is now no skill involved. Everyone's a winner. The games over. The answers are out there. Bye, bye. Thank you. Good luck. We're outta here. It's over. Le Fin.

Why? Do I hear you ask? Why? I'll tell you why.

Chris Barton, that's why. Chris "bloody" Barton. Chris is a 32-year-old American, the founder and chief executive of Shazam. Shazam is a company that works on a very simple idea. It gets mobile phones to recognize music. Instantly.

You simply dial a number on an ordinary mobile phone, point the phone at any song playing on the radio, in a shop, in a club or, more crucially, at a Pop Quiz and then a few seconds later a computer generated voice on the phone tells you who it is - both artist and song title. A short while later, a text message arrives confirming the artist and title. A simple yet brilliant idea. The calls cost 50p per minute.

The system works by the software analysing the song very quickly and producing a unique structure that identifies the song. It then checks it against Shazam's database of songs. It can distinguish artist, title, date and song version. So far it has just 300,000 songs on the system, but by the autumn it will have over 1,600,000. The key algorithm was designed by a graduate from Stanford University who has four degrees no less. It is going to be big.

So now anyone can know the answers. Anyone can cheat. Pop Quiz is cancelled. For good.

(OK, OK, so not all PQ questions are based around recognizing songs but it's certainly going to a be a real body blow if people turn on phones under tables and in pockets and then read the SMS answers from their screens)

[Thanks to Marky and the Guardian for the heads-up]

Wednesday, April 24, 2002

Diary dates for the Football World Cup 1st Round...

England vs. Sweden, 10:30, Sunday 2 June
Which is fine because it's a Sunday and not too early! Is Marcus a football fan I wonder? We shall soon see. It's The Golden Jubilee that weekend though and Purple in the Park too the night before so we may be feeling a bit delicate that Sunday morning. Nothing 'hair of the dog' won't cure though!

England vs. Argentina, 12:30, Friday 7 June
Means that we can work in the morning and either have the rest of the day off or have a long lunch break. No doubt this will be a bit of a grudge match for reasons to numerous to mention here.

England vs. Nigeria, 07:30, Wed 12 June
Can we watch the match before going to work (should be over 9:15)? Of course we can! Later that evening it's Sports and Shorts and both Kit's and Gordon's birthdays so we mustn't get too bladdered too early! Fat chance!

So actually the first round matches are on the whole pretty convenient. Hurrah!

[Thanks to Marky for the heads up and most of the comments]
Christopher Price...
We love watching Liquid News on BBC Choice, the nightly BBC entertainment show. And the main reason why we watch it is for Christopher Price, the presenter. Outrageously funny, acerbic but never cruel, unpatronising and frankly informative CP is a truely great presenter. Or rather was a truely great presenter. He died on Monday, in his flat, alone. There was a tribute to him on TV last night which was quite moving. His friends, colleagues and interviewees were lining up to say good things about him. And rightly so. He was a star. He was also "fat, bald and homosexual" as he put it. We'll miss him.

Tuesday, April 23, 2002

Star Wars: Episode I & II...
Talking about Episode I Lucas admits Star Wars 'let down'. The people I've spoken to who have seen Episode II already say that it is great though. A big improvement. Funny, moving and lots of action. Maybe I will go and see it after all then.
Delia’s way vs. the real cook’s way...

Delia’s way: Don't throw out all that leftover wine. Freeze into ice cubes for future use in casseroles and sauces.
The real cook’s way: Leftover wine?

Delia’s way: To keep potatoes from budding, place an apple in the bag with the potatoes.
The real cook’s way: Buy Smash and keep it in the cupboard for up to a year.

Delia’s way: When a cake recipe calls for flouring the tin, use a bit of the dry cake mix instead and there won't be any white mess on the outside of the cake.
The real cook’s way: Go to the bakers. They'll even decorate it for you.

Delia’s way: If you accidentally over salt a dish while it's still cooking, drop in a peeled potato and it will absorb the excess salt for an instant "fix me up".
The real cook’s way: If you over salt a dish while you're cooking, that's tough. Please recite with me The Real Women's motto: "I made it and you will eat it and I don't care how bad it tastes."

Delia’s way: Wrap celery in foil when putting in the fridge and it will keep for weeks.
The real cook’s way: Celery? Never heard of the stuff.

Delia’s way: Brush some beaten egg white over pie crust before baking to yield a beautiful glossy finish.
The real cook’s way: The Fray Bentos pie directions do not include brushing egg whites
over the crust and so I don't do it.

Delia’s way: If you have a problem opening jars: Try using rubber gloves. They give a non-slip grip that makes opening jars easy.
The real cook’s way: Go ask the very gorgeous neighbour to do it.

Delia’s way: Stuff a miniature marshmallow in the bottom of a wafer cone to prevent ice cream drips.
The real cook’s way: Just suck the ice cream out of the bottom of the cone, for Gods Sake.....

Delia’s way: When catering for an evening buffet, calculate food portions and timings a week in advance, so that you're not rushing on the night.
The real cook’s way: Nip into Marks & Sparks on the way home that evening, and buy everything in portioned packets.

Delia’s way: When you have finished the preparation for your buffet, wash up and treat yourself to a glass of wine.
The real cook’s way: Hide the packets and drain the last of that "pre dinner" wine bottle.....

Monday, April 22, 2002

Shockheaded Peter...
Last Friday David, Marcus, Marky and I went to go see Shockheaded Peter at The Albery Theatre. Peter is a surreal mix of fairy story, urban myth, Roald Dahl, Terry Gilliam and Rocky Horror. And a very sucessful mix it is too.

Dr. Heinrich Hoffmann, a Frankfurt 'medical man of the lunatic asylum', wrote and illustrated The Struwwelpeter (ShockHeaded Peter) more than 150 years ago because he couldn't find anything on the shelves to fire the imagination of (and terrify) his children. And he did a pretty good job he did too.

The Tiger Lillies' Martyn Jacques wrote all the songs and starred in the original production that has picked up a clutch of awards. This revival however stars David Thomas (ex of Pere Ubu) as a chubby, rosy-cheeked singer relating the grisly tales of infant death. The scissors snip and the thumbs fall.

The show is stolen though by Julian Bleach's MC. This self-proclaimed "greatest actor who has ever existed" still ranks as the funniest performance on the London stage. He sneers, preens, tap-dances and plays the spoons; his wig drops off and he exposes his fake penis. It's a real winner!

Go see.

Friday, April 19, 2002

I disgust myself...
I did something so disgusting on Wednesday night that I can't bring myself to tell you about it. It was so vile, so yucky, so out of character and so outrageous that Marky almost had a fit from laughing. He was embarrassed too and he wouldn't even walk with me on the way home. I will never, ever, ever be able to go there again. And I'm truly ashamed. I'm blushing even now. Ok I was a little drunk. But that's no excuse.

What do you think I did?

Thursday, April 18, 2002

Doctor, Doctor...
I just got the bill for my 45 minute neurologist consultantion last week. £210. Ouch! Let's hope that £45 billion gets spent soon.
The budget...
NI up 1% (on all earnings) puts me personally about £1 a day worse off from next year. The NHS should be £40 billion better off. Sounds fair enough to me.
Xbox price drop...
The Microsoft Xbox is flopping everywhere but in the States so they are going to drop the price by £100 to £199 to try and pick up sales. Needless to say I am going to complain strongly to both HMV and Microsoft immediately and try and get £100 back from them as I paid the full £299 just a few weeks ago.

Nintendo did the same thing with the Nintendo64 - dropping the price from £250 to £150 shortly after launch and gave refunds to anyone who complained.

UPDATE: Microsoft are going to give us two free games and a free controller by way of compensation. Or to put it in Microsoft speak: "As a big "THANK YOU" to everyone who bought an Xbox before 26th April we are offering, until July 1st 2002, the chance for you to get 2 games and an Xbox Controller for FREE!"
What does the panel think?...

Should I keep the new beard? Leave a 'yes' or a 'no' in the comments.

Wednesday, April 17, 2002

Call me M...
I called ticketmaster yesterday to find out where my tickets are for Up For Grabs. The guy at the other end of the phone said, "oh, haven't your heard? Madonna has cancelled all matinees, she having the stage raised by three feet to stop anyone jumping on the stage from the auditorium and has insisted on two bodyguards in the wings. She's arguing with the director too so we're not sending out tickets yet in case she cancels the whole thing." Refreshingly frank I thought - if a little worrying for us waiting for tickets.

In related news, this is probably just the PR machine working overtime but it makes for good copy I suppose.
The Webmonkeys ft Davo…
It was Dave’s last night at The Retro Bar Popteasers Quiz last night. Dave is doing Europe over the next couple of months. By doing it I mean he is bussing to a zillion cities but only spending 5 minutes in each one. He's passing back through London in June.

The gang was out in force to see him off. Naturally the lovely and gorgeous Dave was there himself as was the ever knowledgeable yet paradoxically shy David, the deliciously young and nubile Marcus, the Greek Chorus that we know and love as Ian, the looking rather forlorn but still managed a smile David and the ever perky and surprising prudish (!) Iain. Oh, and me.

The quiz was set by the man we know as stalker but better known to his friends and family as James. Quizzes set by guest DJs can be a bit queer but James managed to sprinkle the obscure questions with a few easy ones too. Not that we did very well mind, a measly 14½ out of 20. The winners got 18½ but only won the booby prize of the Pop Idol LP. Ha!

01. Who had a hit with I Walk The Earth?
02. Which Tom Watkins band had a hit with Call It Now?
03. What one hit wonder was recorded by White Town in 1997?
04. Which electronic duo has covered Blondie’s Heart Of Glass?
05. Which Goth band has covered Depeche Mode’s World In My Eyes?
06. Which duo has covered Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time?
07. Which Pet Shops Boys' track was remixed to have a full orchestral intro and put on the B-side of a subsequent single?
08. Which Roxette hit was remixed to have a country and western intro?
09. Who remixed their track Good Tradition to a swing beat?
10. (a) What number is in a Pulp hit? (b) Which band had a hit with Disco Down? (c) What was a jungle hit by Technicolour?
11. What is the value left when you take the answer to 10 (a) apply (10 b) and then apply 10 (c)?
12. In Kirsty McColl’s In These Shoes how was the man dressed?
13. In Kirsty McColl’s In These Shoes what did the man have outside?
14. In Kirsty McColl’s In These Shoes what was the nationality of the man she granted a request to?
15. Who originally recorded No More I Love Yous?
16. Who originally recorded Baby Now That You Found Me?
17. Who is the group playing on Bjork’s Play Dead?
18. Who is the group playing on Shirley Bassey’s The Rhythm Divine?
19. Put these Shirley Bassey songs in the correct order of release (a) Goldfinger (b) Moonraker (c) Hey Big Spender (d) Diamonds Are Forever
20. Who and with what song ends with the lyrics, “You used to know but now you've forgotten The submarine got stuck to the bottom These are the days so wake up cos this is the time And you know I'm right”?

After the quiz was over we said our goodbyes to Dave and then David, Ian and I went to Bar Code to chew the fat. Strangely enough there was a man there with lighted candles on his head. Bizarre.
The Queen Mother's Board of Remembrance...

"When Diana died I swore I would never smile again, but eventually I did. Now the Queen Mum has gone I cannot imagine that I will ever smile for the rest of my life, but I will probably break that one too".
A.Christie, Hendon.
"She was one of the old school, all the remaining royals are shit"
J.Clement. Grantham.
"I thought she would never die, she has let us all down very badly"
D.Holmes, Somerset.
"She was a trooper and she never gave up. I remember one time she was visiting a school and I asked her if she would like to make a visit to the cloakroom before she left. 'No' she replied, 'I didn't give in to the Nazis and I won't give in to the bladder'. That's how she was, a fighter, who refused to be beaten by anything. She pissed herself later though, it was sickening".
B. Forrester, North Yorkshire.
"She was a marvelous woman, and a wonderful lover".
L. J.Worthington, Penrith.
"I am absolutely devastated, at least we could have got the day off".
S.Wilson, Bristol.
"I think that the Queen Mum and Princess Diana are our very own Twin Trade Towers. At last we can look the people of New York in the face".
L.Ward, Mansfield.
"How refreshing to be able to mourn the death of a member of the Royal family without being accused of being homosexual".
J. Fletcher, High Wycombe.
"Her death should act as a warning to others who think it is cool to experiment with drugs".
E. Franks, Cheshire.
"On behalf of all blacks, I send the sincerest condolences".
T.Watson, Ilford.
"Perhaps if we automated her old golf buggy it could still drive around The Mall on its own and bring pleasure to the tourists".
Y. Howell, Slough.
"Once again the Queen is not upset enough for my liking, the woman should have a bit more compassion, how would she feel if it was her mother?"
W.Waugh, Richmond.
"It is such a loss, God has shat on our heads".
K. O'Neil, Inverness.
"I am sure the Queen Mum will not let this setback put an end to her public duties".
N. Wallace, Swansea.
"I hold Princess Margaret in no small way responsible for this terrible event"
E. Thompson, West Lothian.
"Bomb Iraq for us Tony, its the only thing that will make us feel better"
P.McGregor, Southampton.
"We must do all we can, send blankets, food parcels, jumpers, anything to help these brave souls who are queuing up to walk past her coffin".
R. Thompson, Bath.
"I have been unable to masturbate for five days, and will not do so again until her majesty is buried"
E. Gorman, Derbyshire.
"Good God, who is next, Geri Halliwell?".
R. Combes, Romford.
"No matter how she felt, no matter the situation, she always wore a smile. Just like a retard"
G. Hollins, East Sussex.
"I remember she came to visit us in the East End one time. She was so kind, so generous and so sweet. She whispered softly in my ear, 'you know its not true' she said, 'you don't smell of shit'. She was a wondrous
E.Collier, London.
"Whichever way you look at it, it just is not as exciting as Diana".
G.Williams, West Midlands.
"She was one of us, and by that I don't mean she perpetrated insurance fraud or lied about expense claims. She was like us in a good way. God bless you ma'am".
L. Weller, Harlow.
"If only I could get my hands on that fish bone right now, you heartless bastard!"
J. Hedges, Cowdenbeath.
"She had such a difficult life, always battling against adversity and misfortune. Let us hope that if there is a next time round she is given a life of privilege and comfort"
T.D.Wainwright, Hastings .

Tuesday, April 16, 2002

He’s Leaving…
This is Dave’s last day in London (sniff). He’s off to Scotland and then half way round the world back to New Zealand. It’s been fun getting to know him over the past few months and he shall be missed - not least as an erstwhile pop quiz team mate.

By small way of a celebration last Friday Dave had a bit of a do upstairs at the Retro Bar and invited heaps of friends along to packing the place out. All the usual suspects were there and luckily I managed capture some of them on camera (and film too).

Click on any image for a larger version.

I'm really chuffed you all came Dave gets ready to bugger off before the drinks bill arrives
Our backs take the strain Jesus! Lose some weight, Dave!
She’s Leaving…
On Saturday night I tootled along to The Marlborough Head in North Audley Street (a gothic/punk theme pub if you could imagine such a thing) to wish Bryn a fond farewell. She was returning to San Francisco after a three week stay in London. It was sad to see her go but we certainly had fun sending her off. I think Bryn had enjoyed her stay and was still hoping to come back to London to live.

The only two people I knew when I first arrived were Ben and Chris. But it was very nice to meet Andrea, Denise, Peter and Katia too. In fact it turned into a bit of a Marc Almond fan club meeting in the end. Hanko’s name kept cropping up too (Hi Hanko!) as did Dave’s (Hi Dave!).

Katia, who lives in St Petersburg was lovely. And very glamorous. She said that she reads this site all the time (Hi Katia!) which was nice. I hope I’ll get a chance to meet her again in Amsterdam or Brussels.

Drew turned up later on and he and I headed off into Soho to Bar Code and then on to Central Station to play pool. The less said about what happen after that the better. I had to spend all of Sunday in bed!
Having to swallow it all in one go...
It's that time of year when I need to buy my annual zones 1 & 2 Travel Card. A massive £772.
- I know in the back of my mind that it saves me money over weekly or monthly tickets in the long run (though I've never actually sat down to do the maths).
- I know it gives me unlimited travel on tubes and buses 24/7 so it's a good thing
- I know it is only up just £16 from last year: an inflation friendly 2% so I shouldn't really complain.
But, it's just such a lot of money to stump up all in one go.

Thank God then for the interest free travel loan that my company provides (hurray!). Now if I could only find the wretched form to make it all happen. Pah!

Friday, April 12, 2002

Currently listening to...
I've been listening to a bunch of new stuff on my CD player today. So he's my trusted "Review In One Sentence" ® in a diagonal of hits. (BTW PSB and Cornershop are on Later With Jools Holland tonight)

Marianne Faithful - Kissin' Time : A great return to form from the croaky voiced one with loads of featured artists (Beck, Blur, Billy Corgan and Jarvis Cocker).

Cornershop - Handcream For A Generation : Upbeat and great for a sunny afternoon it reminds me of early Talking Heads.

Anastacia - Freak Of Nature : The Diva with the sense of humour belts them out in a surprisingly listenable and catchy clutch of songs.

Roland Gift - Roland Gift : These eleven self-penned songs by the ex-Fine Young Cannibal will probably fail to set the world alight - which is a shame as his voice is as wonderful as ever.

The Clash - The Singles : A welcome remastering and reissue of the punk rockers opus got a few people in our office singing along to Should I Stay Or Should I Go.

AnotherLateNight - Zero 7 : Zzzzzzzz (grab the duvet and snuggle as you float off with this fourth remix collect from the ALN albums).
Hee, hee...
Q: What have David Beckham and Des O'Connor got in common?
A: They're both fucking awful singers.
[Thanks to Popbitch]
Life's A Game...
With the launch of the Nintendo GameCube fast approaching the adverts have started appearing on TV. And very impressive they are too. Watch them here High Bandwidth or Low Bandwidth.

I've not found any compelling games to get apart from Luigi's Mansion and WaveRace so I have some reservation in recommending it whole-heartedly. When Mario Sunshine and Zelda appears however things will change I'm sure.

Thursday, April 11, 2002

I'll live...
I had my consultation with a Harley Street neurologist yesterday to try and find out why I'm getting these cramps in my legs that wake me up at night. He suggested more blood tests (calcium, potassium and sodium levels I think). And a drug prescription to take marzipan every night. Sweet. Well it sounded like marzipan but he probably said tamazipan or diazipam or something similar. All sounds horribly addictive.

If the new blood tests don't show up much and I don't find the drugs helping I'm to contact him again. He'll do an EMG (?) which basically means he's going to stick lots of needles and probes in my leg muscles and send electric pulses to test my nervous system and my muscle responses. I have to say I'm not keen. Sounds a bit like Frankenstein. Sounds a bit like aversion therapy.

"So Mr Green. Do you want to take nice drugs that will make you high or do you want knitting needles stuck in your legs and to be electrocuted so you twitch like a laboratory rabbit?"
"Er, I'll take the drugs please"

Tuesday, April 09, 2002

Rest In Peace, Ma'am...
Doing lunch - by the book...
Roger and I just spent a lovely lunch time in The British Library. I'd not been in there before and there are much to entertain. The place has a nice vibe to it. The food is good and the architecture interesting. Cruisy loos too.
UROTSUKI DOJI : Legend Of The Overfiend…
Last Friday I bunked off work a little early to try and get some returns for a film showing at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the South Bank with a live band doing the score. The film was UROTSUKI DOJI : Legend Of The Overfiend and when Sarah found out I was going she was keen to join me as she was a fan of the film. With a stroke of luck I managed to get two tickets right near the front. Perhaps ‘luck’ isn’t quite the right word judging by what we experienced.

We took our seats early and saw that the band was set up ready to play in front of the screen (but not obscuring our line of sight). Perhaps the number of speakers on the stage should have warned us what was to come.

Then the film started. And so did the noise.

Acid Mother Temple are a five piece Tokyo thrash rock band and when they started playing we were literally pinned to our seats by the noise. It was ferocious. Loud? Loud doesn’t begin to describe the volume of the sounds that were vibrating our whole bodies. It was so disorientating that we could neither speak nor think. It was bit like taking acid – you could almost see the sound. Strangely enough this assault on the senses was to compliment the film perfectly.

Now this is not the easiest film to review. UROTSUKI DOJI was notorious in anime fandom as ultra-porn, and before release here the film was investigated by the Obscene Publications squad, trimmed by its UK licencees, and censored by the BBFC.

For fans of explicit horror, the movie offers plenty of gore and sexual titillation. The monsters are amazing, and look far more convincing than anything you've ever seen in live action horror. The action is fast-paced and brutal, and the dubbed dialogue has been peppered with four letter words.

The human characters are sufficiently interesting to attract our sympathy. The heroine, a university student, suffers much humiliation at the hands of the more demonic characters. In the opening scene a lesbian teacher who attempts to seduce her ends up turning into a demon with tens of penises that brutally rape her. This is first of many such rape scenes. Each as shocking.

Blood and semen play a large part in the film. The hero/antihero gets attacked by a gay bully early on who then licks the blood off his face. Later another male character licks the same hero/antiheroes semen from a girl’s face to try and gain some of his powers. All very Freudian I'm sure.

Sadly interest flags in the latter part of the movie where the human characters feature less, and the 'ending' of the story is rather weak.

If this was just another nasty film, it would not have attracted so much attention. Perhaps surprisingly, UROTSUKI DOJI is good enough to merit some serious attention. This is a gripping and well-made piece of animation. Though unpleasant, the film is astonishing, disturbing and well enough scripted to engender a certain suspension of disbelief and an unnerving descent into nightmare and darkly beautiful visions. For the more thoughtful viewer, viewing this is not necessarily a particularly enjoyable experience, but, like a visit to a war zone, it's not necessarily an experience one would wish to forego. The experience of shock can be profound. Made with disregard for any restriction on what may be shown in a piece of art, the film exploits its theme of largely sexual violence to the full and will challenge many viewers in terms of what he or she feels comfortable watching. The line artwork is particularly fine, with figures and faces drawn with greater realism than is customary in anime, and the visual effects amaze.

When it was first released UROTSUKI DOJI evoked mixed responses, even among anime fans. Some people found it unwatchable, but it did quite well in the shops at the beginning of 1993 and, evidently favoured by fans of horror and gross-out, it sold 10,000 in the first two weeks and got into the video Top 10.

Some, like Time Out, think it's "the kind of Japanese import we can do without". The release, though very successful, was in one sense regrettable as UROTSUKI DOJI is not typical of most anime. Japanese culture is not the same as ours, and this movie lifts the lid on a Japanese sub-culture of violent and sexual material that very few Westerners are equipped to understand. Hence we unavoidably judge this alien art through Western eyes. An unsettling film then, which balances art with extremes we can hardly dare imagine.

In this case the cert. 18 really means what it says. This movie is entirely unsuitable for juveniles. If you are not sure of your response to UROTSUKI DOJI, you may be well advised not to watch it. On the other hand, if you are a fan of such material, you're probably on your way to Amazon.com or the video shop already.

When the film finally finished people started to applaud. But to us it sounded like faint, distant clapping so numbed were we to the noise. We didn't hang around for encores by Acid Mother Temple. We stumbled out of the venue with ringing in our ears. Even in the taxi on the way home later we were still shouting at each other. The cabbie even turned off the red light in the back.

An unforgettable experience. Can't wait for the next one in June.

Monday, April 08, 2002

Phantom Menace was 'flat'...
Actor Ewan McGregor has said he was disappointed by the Star Wars prequel The Phantom Menace, which he described as "flat". Yeah, you and 80 million other pepople, Ewan!

Friday, April 05, 2002

Outed In Africa..
"As resignations go, Alum Mpofu's is a corker. The chief executive of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) has been brought low after allegations that he was caught in a sex act with a man in a Harare nightclub. It must be embarrassing for him to have details of the alleged incident made public (a bouncer chained him to a fire hydrant). But given his role as chief propagandist for President Robert Mugabe's campaign against gays, it is humiliating.

This is not the first time an anti-gay campaigner has been accused of being gay, and it is unlikely to be the last."
[more here...]

[Thanks to Colin for the article exploring the "all homophobes are homosexuals" theory, the Guardian for printing it and Marky for the heads up. Colin works with Marky in Health Promotion]
Marc Almond tells Pop Idol losers to f**k off...
Marc Almond thinks the public should not have to put up with the Pop Idol losers releasing records. He believes Will Young should be the only pop star to emerge from the series. The Soft Cell star says the other finalists can get lost.

He said: "It's very easy to be famous nowadays, but it's also a lot easier to disposed of. "Why do we have to put up with the Pop Idol losers and runners-up releasing records? It's all very Saturday night karaoke. There's room for Will Young because he won the competition, but the rest can f**k off.

Soft Cell have a new album scheduled for release in September. Almond thinks the duo's new material will appeal to established fans and the upcoming generation of music lovers.

"I'm nearly 45, so I'm going through a kind of midlife crisis. That will be reflected in the album. But I think we've managed to keep our mystique. At the first set of Soft Cell reunion gigs there were older people mixed in with a lot of teenagers who've just discovered us."

Almond says he hasn't heard Marilyn Manson's cover version of Tainted Love, which is currently in the UK Top Ten. "I like Marilyn Manson and people have asked me about it, but I haven't heard it yet," he said.

"I'm much more interested in completely different versions of songs like David Gray's cover of Say Hello, Wave Goodbye. Of course, we wrote that song so we get royalties from that one - maybe there's a mercenary element to my attitude somewhere."

A Greatest Hits album has just been released, which includes two new Soft Cell compositions.

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Gerry's Lyrics Quiz...
You may have seen Gerry's Lyrics Quiz (60s, 70s, 80s, 90s to present) that's doing the rounds at the moment. Click here to download the quiz if you've not got it. The idea is that you fill in the song title and artist to certain lyrics (and rather unforgiving it is too if you don't spell things the same way as our Gerry).

Sample questions (song title and artist):-
60s "You're everywhere and nowhere baby that’s where your at"
70s "Don't start the talking I could talk all night"
80s "Living on free food tickets water in the milk from a hole in the roof"
90s to present "Oh life is bigger its bigger than you and you are not me"

If you want the answers to these teasers, specific ones in the quiz that you're stuck on or indeed the whole quiz itself (!) let me know.
Matt Groening interview...
The great man himself is over in Bristol at an animation show. See what he had to say.

Thursday, April 04, 2002

Liza’s Back…
I went to go and see Liza Minnelli performing at the Royal Albert Hall last night in her new show ‘Liza’s Back’. Stephen had arranged a box for us so Martin, Matthew, Nikki and I duly took our places perched in (on?) the second tier at 8pm and waited for La Minnelli to appear.

The place wasn’t full by any means. But those that were there were mainly poofs or ‘people of a certain age’ (Nikki was the exception!). Graham Norton came on as the warm up act but strangely rather misjudged the spirit of the evening with jokes about rent boys and how he ignores homeless people. Odd.

When Liza did finally appear though she was a spinning dynamo of sequins, hair and eyelashes. People were on their feet and she basked in our adoration for but a brief moment before launching into the first of many all-singing all-dancing numbers. She performed for over an hour virtually non-stop before a 20 minute break. The second half was no less frantic and at times you felt as out of breath as she obviously was.

Her voice (three octave range?) had suffered a little over the years but had lost none of it’s distinctive charm ("I’ll hit a note, boys. You'll find the key sooner or later") or immense power. She wobbled a little at the start of the set but once warmed up she was belting them out thick and fast. All the classics were there; All That Jazz, Maybe This Time, Say Liza (Liza With A “Z”) and New York, New York along with some surprising covers e.g. Mary J. Blige’s Dance With Me which worked really well.

Disappointingly, rumours of her miming were true. She mimed to three tracks (Mein Herr, Money, Money and the afore mentioned Dance With Me) and sang karaoke to Losing My Mind. Shame really but as she was doing rather athletic dance routines at the time perhaps it’s forgivable. Singing a few lines from Somewhere Over The Rainbow however was not. Methinks I detect the influence of new husband and Judy Garland collector David Gest here.

Her outfits were mainly red or black and utterly dazzling. They should have had a radiation warning. There must be a world wide shortage of sequins.

Sadly her dancers were simply not up to the job of keeping up with La Minnelli - looking painfully under rehearsed.

Interestingly she has brought a rapper over from New York to spice up one of her songs. I like the idea that she can reinvent herself to some degree. But she fared best on safer, more familiar ground.

The high point of the night was undoubtedly Cabaret. It had lost none of it’s impact even 30 years down the line. Liza finished with a tribute to the Queen Mother.

The encores went on for 20 minutes as you might expect.

Pet Shop Boys' Neil Tennant and Christopher Lowe bounce back in a big way from their inferior 1999 release, Nightlife, with this latest album, Release. Available in four different covers (see above). I bought the black one. Initial releases (excuse the pun) don't have any writing on the front as they come in a sleeve..

Working with guitar legend Johnny Marr (Smiths, Electronic) on eight of the ten tracks, they seem to have regained their ability to write solid pop songs even if they've left a lot of their trademark irony and wit behind. Instead, they ponder love and life on this often melancholy collection. It's their most rock guitar-based record ever. Funny that as they used to take the piss out of U2 so much.

Standouts include the catchy, mid-tempo first single Home And Dry, Here, and You Choose, the singalong-worthy I Get Along and the downright danceable The Samurai In Autumn.

But I suspect the song that will get the most attention is The Night I Fell In Love, with Eminem apparently, judging from the storyline and lyrics.

"He said we could be secret lovers just him and me, then he joked, 'Hey man, your name isn't Stan is it? We should be together,' " Tennant sings. "And he was a passionate, I guess I'd rate him a nine out of 10, by then, I'd fallen in love."

PSB have also penned an interesting new Christmas song, Birthday Boy, whose lyrics go: "Christmas Eve -- a time of joy, if you believe in birthday boy/ This time around, it's all a mistake, is he deluded or just a fake?"
Liza’s Back…
She was good. More later.

Wednesday, April 03, 2002

Liza tonight...
I wonder if she'll mime or not. The reviews are good.
The Very Best Of Soft Cell...
As I mentioned last month this week sees the release of La Almond and Le Ball's greatest hits on Universal. Always good to here those tracks again that you might not play as often as others. In particular Insecure Me and (what is my favourite track) Loving You Hating Me.

There are two new tracks on the LP and two new remixes. The two new tracks have had much exposure on the road. The disco-y Somebody, Somewhere, Sometime and rocky Divided Soul. The remixes are Tainted Love (2XS) remixed by Damien Mendis and Stuart Bradley and Say Hello Wave Goodbye remixed by our very own Andy Almighty.

If you don't have a Soft Cell Greatest Hits already then now's your chance!
What Muppet are you?...

Yuoo ere-a zee Svedeesh Cheff!
Yuoo ere-a a guud cuuk, thuoogh yuoo cun't speek Ingleesh fery vell. Bork Bork Bork!

Sport and Shorts (the evidence)...
Alex, Andy and Andy David, (unknown), Andy and Vince
Here are a couple of snaps from the last Sports and Shorts at the Stag. Click to see bigger versions.
Two Cows...

You have two cows.
You sell one and buy a bull.
Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows.
You sell them and retire on the income.

You have two cows.
You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. You are surprised when the cow drops dead.

You have two cows.
You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows. The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company. The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more. You sell one cow to buy a new president of the United States, leaving you with nine cows. No balance sheet is provided with the release. The public buys your bull.

You have two cows.
You go on strike because you want three cows.

You have two cows.
You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. You then create clever cow cartoon images called Cowkimon and market them World-Wide.

You have two cows.
You reengineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once a month, and milk themselves.

You have two cows.
Both are mad.

You have two cows, but you don't know where they are.
You break for lunch.

You have two cows.
You count them and learn you have five cows.
You count them again and learn you have 42 cows.
You count them again and learn you have 12 cows.
You stop counting cows and open another bottle of vodka.

You have 5000 cows, none of which belong to you.
You charge others for storing them.

You have two cows.
You worship them.

You have two cows.
You have 300 people milking them.
You claim full employment, high bovine productivity, and arrest the newsman who reported the numbers.

So, there are these two Jewish cows, right? They open a milk factory, an ice cream store, and then sell the movie rights. They send their calves to Harvard to become doctors. So, you should complain?

You have two cows.
That one on the left is kinda cute...

[Apologies for any excessive jingoism!]

Tuesday, April 02, 2002

Is there a Doktor in das Haus?...
I'm planning a Grand Tour with my friend Ben in early May trailing after part of the Soft Cell tour. So I've been busily booking planes and trains and hotels and concerts and more trains and more concerts and more hotels (well you get the general idea). Most agencies I've dealt with have been happy to communicate in either their immaculate English or as a last resort my broken French/German/Dutch/Spanish. However the concert in Bremen has just sent me an e-mail which I can't quite figure out. Can you help? Thanks.

Hiermit bestätigen wir die Reservierung für
Datum: 02.05.2002
Veranstaltung: SOFT CELL
Anzahl: 2
Preis je Karte: 28,- Euro (Vorverkaufspreis inkl. Vorverkaufsgebühr)
Einlaß: 19.00 Uhr
Beginn: ca. 20.00 Uhr
Die Karten sind auf Ihren Namen an der Abendkasse zurückgelegt und müssen bis 19.30 Uhr abgeholt werden.

Viel Spaß
Ihr Modernes

Monday, April 01, 2002

I'm feeling very sorry for myself...
I've got laryngitis, a bad chest infection that gives me coughing fits, a fever, a thumping headache and cramps in my legs that keep me awake at night. I'm taking buckets of aspirin, drinking lots of water and getting lots of rest. What a way to spend an Easter break, eh?. I'm determined to be well enough for work tomorrow though so I shall drag my bones in there one way or another. Can't you just smell the burning flesh?