Quote Of The Day

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

Thursday, February 28, 2002

Star spotting...
Some workmen are doing some building work to the outside of our office that blocks the pavement. To let pedestrians get past they've put up some temporary red and white barriers in the street to allow people to walk step off the pavement without getting run over by the traffic. As I was leaving work yesterday I spotted of all people 80s heart-throb Gary Kemp talking to someone else very earnestly in this temporary road/pavement area. No doubt they were discussing some Spandau Ballet project. I scuttled past trying not to stare too much. As I walked away a thought occurred. If only I'd had enough time to dash across the street and take a snap with my digital camera....

(wait for it, wait for it)

...I'd have him Through the Barricades.
The Grammys 2002...
The Grammys go on for hours and hours and hours so you might be excused for dosing off half way through. But just how disappointing it must be to wake up having just missed the all important "Category 82: Best Album Notes" award? What a bummer.

In case this tragedy happened to you let me fill you in. It was a tie. "Richard Pryor...And It's Deep Too! The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings (1968-1992) by Walter Mosley, album notes writer (Richard Pryor)" and "Arhoolie Records 40th Anniversary Collection: 1960-2000 The Journey Of Chris Strachwitz by Elijah Wald, album notes writer (Various Artists)"
Serious About Shorts...
On Tuesday night prior to Pop Quiz Darren and I went to the Curzon in Shaftsbury Avenue to go and see four short films culled from various Lesbian and Gay Film Festivals around the world. They were all very good. Very funny, touching and well worth seeing.

The first was DOORS CUT DOWN (Antonio Hens, 17 mins, Spain, 2000) "From shopping centre toilets to his parent's home the libido of the 16-year-old in this film is going to get him in trouble one of these days." This was hilarious. This Spanish school kid leaves school everyday and goes down to his local shopping mall and cruises the toilets having sex with strangers and generally living the Life of Riley. He gets kicked out of the mall one day with the local bike mechanic and told not to come back. He starts to have extra English tuition at home and soon seduces his English teacher. Much to his Dad's disgust who walks in on them while they're fucking. One visit to the local psychotherapist later it's his parents that need the therapy not him. He then returns to the mall with his bike mechanic boyfriend and snog in front of the security guards.

Then came 4PM (Sam Backhurst, 13mins, UK, 1999) "A hilarious tale of a one-night stand between two London girls that goes terrifically right...and then horribly wrong!" Sex, politicians, goldfish, guns, lost keys, porno photographs. A very funny lesbian farce.

The weakest of the four was MEETING (Marie-Pierre Huster, 9mins, France, 2001) "A prospective job becomes more intriguing when a woman discovers that last night's tryst was with the new boss's wife" Lots of sexy and moody pouting and stylish close-ups of lipstick lesbians dancing and fucking but short on real plot. More of a male fantasy film I think.

The best of the four was the final EARLY FROST (Pierre Pinaud, 17 mins, France, 1999) "Ten-year-old Caroline leads a normal suburban life until she notices that her beloved pet rabbit, Pitou, has homosexual tendencies." This was SO funny. A black comedy to be sure. A little girl has a rabbit who turns out to be gay. The bigoted parents don't approve and end up suffocating it in a freezer bag and putting it in the freezer. They pretend it's run away but the girl finds out what's happened and goes ape. She throws the now rock solid fraozen rabbit at the mother giving her a black eye. The girl befriends the local gay couple who offer to bury it in their garden. The girl recovers from the trauma. The parents need therapy. Darren and I were screeching with laughter throughout.

Billy Whizz, the unlikely named organizer, is going to try and get us some invites for the LLGFF launch later this year. Can't wait.
George Michael's Freeek! Video...
Did you miss George Michael's full(ish) Freeek! video shown last night at 11:15 on Channel Four? C4 censored a bit of it. Well here's the first 20 seconds for you lucky people.

You can also listen to a bit more of Freeek! here or watch the first 20 seconds of the video in different formats and streams
Windows Media Player
freeek_trailer_w_34.wmv freeek_trailer_w_100.wmv
Real Player
freeek_trailer_r_34.rm freeek_trailer_w_100.wmv

Previously I had only seen the shortened version without the opening "Blade Runner" sequence. Well my first reaction was: WOW! My second reaction was: What a load of self-indulgent twaddle! Sure it looks good but if you gave me $1m and I threw it at the screen I could make it look good too. Apart from Blade Runner there are elements of hundreds of recent sci-fi films, robots, Tron, Madonna, Leigh Bowery and Japanese Anime peppered throughout the video. Reminiscent of a Puff Daddy video everything is over the top. The high tech video effects are dazzling but ultimately unfulfilling. If there's a story to be told or point to be made (about cyber-sex? porn? alienation?) it was lost in the flashiness of it all.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge, huge George Michael fan. But he just looks so silly clad in various rubber suits (red, brown and black) and cod-pieces and stomping about the set. Sometimes with four scantily clad girls on a leash, sometimes by himself. Mostly he's dressed up like a dog's dinner. At one point he's dressed as an alien wearing a huge all-in-one red rubber suit with massive impacted red rubber boots and he lumbers about like the creature at the end of Altered States. In a strange way it reminded me of Elton John in his Pinball Wizard boots.

Are we perhaps seeing George Michael enter his Glam Rock phase as EJ did?

Wednesday, February 27, 2002

As you may be aware David, Dave and I have a fascination with bootlegs. Those mixed-up play-two-records-at-the-same-time tracks. We write about them on our web sites, e-mail each other with new examples we've found and make compilations for friends. Well now that Kylie has jumped on the band wagon with the Can't Get You Out Of My Head / Blue Monday fusion it seems this musical meme is reaching it's maturity. There's even an article about it in today's Guardian. I'm not sure I agree with everything it says but it's an interesting read. It even mentions our new friend, Osymyso, and a web site that has lots of bootleggy stuff www.cartelcommunique.com.

I suppose it begs the question what is a bootleg? Is it crude sampling like M/A/R/R/S and the KLF did back in the 80s? i.e. basically stealing the hook or the bridge from another song. Is it sampling like all the rappers seem to do now? i.e. re-recording a track with permission or even getting the original vocalist to record a fresh version for them. Or is it simply an extreme form of mixing? Just playing two songs at the same time.

I think it's the latter. People have been sampling, mixing and downright stealing other people's musical ideas wholesale for years now. Bootlegging seems to tap into something else though. When done well it almost seems to create something new from two or more existing songs. It highlights the essence of each song used giving birth to a hybrid. And as any gardener will tell you F1 hybrids can be stronger than either of their parents.

Next Thursday 7th March is the next King of the Boots party at Asylum "London's Smallest Venue". I think we'll all be going.
Smile please...
A close friend had a wild weekend. Very wild. His boyfriend (also a close friend) is away. Pictures were taken using his boyfriend's digital camera. He can't delete them now. Boyfriend is back tomorrow. Panic phone call to me for help. What should I do?
You can't can have too many police on the tube...
Recent advice is that the police should use public transport rather than police cars to get about London. It cuts costs and deters crime on the buses and the tubes with a high profile uniformed police presence. All sensible stuff. However on my way into town last night my tube carriage was full with uniformed officers. All the police had had to take their helmets off so they didn't bash on the carriage roof which took up even more space. And as it was still rush hour they were being crammed in like sardines along with the rest of us. Lots more people were trying to push on as we approached the West End which made matters even worse. Quite a funny scene then when some irate commuter shouted at this bobby at Covent Garden, "Shove up! Yes! YOU! There's loads of room further down the carriage!"
Shoot for the moon...
I'm all on my own this coming weekend. Mark is going shooting. So if anybody has any suggestions about how I can get into stay out of trouble I'm all ears.
The Ian Martin Test...
It was fun compiling the Ian Martin Friend Test yesterday pretending to be Ian. I had to try and work out what Ian would have put and at the same time have a bit of fun with some inside knowledge. My double guessing obviously succeeded to a better degree than I had anticipated though. Even hours after taking the test David was convinced Ian had written the quiz himself, and Ian thought that David had written it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2002

The "Me" Test....
It seems I know David better than his boyfriend does. And no David that doesn't mean I'm your new boyfriend. It just means I know you well enough not to be your boyfriend :-) Well how well do you all know me then? Do you know what makes me tick? I also have an online test for you to try: onthe.friendtest.com. Highest possible score: 100
[link from David]
London Traffic Congestion Charges...
The facts
Area: Eight sq mile stretch of central London
Amount: £5 daily charge from 7am - 6.30pm Monday - Friday
How they will check: 130 cameras will scan number plates and you have to pay in a shop, post office or over the internet in the next 24 hours
Fine: £80 fine if you fail to pay
Registration: Vehicles can be registered on internet
Discount: 90% discount for people living in charging zone
Services: 100% discount for disabled and essential services
Start date: 17 Feb 2003

When I was in Singapore a few years ago I saw how their congestion charges worked. All the cars avoided the zone like the plague during the day. This caused severe traffic jams just outside the zone and then a huge 6:30 rush into the zone when the charging period ended. Traffic didn't move any faster, it just moved the problem somewhere else. Does you city have congestion charges? Do they work?
Power cut...
Over the weekend our building had a planned annual power down. All the electricity in the building it turned off for an entire weekend for maintenance. When I say 'annual' I really mean 'frequent', of course. Our building seems to turn the power off every couple of months just for the hell of it. Does your office do this? Are we the only place that has to suffer these ridiculous power cuts?

When the power does get turned off I need to close every system down one by one and make sure it's safe and secure (electrically speaking). This often involves me staying late on a Friday night as there's always some prat who wants to finish off some vitally important memo to his cat or something. Then on Monday morning I have to get up half way through the night to start powering all the systems back again so our office is ready for an 8am start.

It just so happened that one of our systems didn't recover from the shut down last weekend, namely Internet Mail (so apologies if you have sent me any mail to my work address in the last few days), and I've only just managed to get it working again. It was a routing problem.
Universally Challenged...
Ha, ha, ha! Edinburgh lost last night to Imperial College, London in BBC2's University Challenge. By a big margin. The smug Canadian, Mary-Anne Foster (her with the ginger hair, glasses, annoying cackle, studying 'Infomatics') along with her pompous team mates Gregory (trying and failing to look and act like James Bond), Warner (singlehandedly reviving the idea of the Sloaneranger) and Griffith ('don't mind me I'm just along for the ride') put in a disastrous performance. Incorrect answers to early interruptions of questions cost them dearly. I love the show though. The philosophy of hard questions but easy answers is a winning one. It's fun to nurse a bottle of wine and shout out the answers with your b/f to see who can get the most right.

Monday, February 25, 2002

The NME Awards 2002...
It's obviously the season of awards and the reason to have an opinion about awards. So here's mine. Now I like Ash, don't get me wrong. But getting the award of single of the year for Burn Baby Burn is a tad unwarranted. The NME awards had other surprises too; including The Charlatans winning "the outstanding contribution" award. Pull-ease. The awards for Moulin Rouge, Basement Jaxx and Missy Elliot were however as welcome as they were deserved.
Out today (but not that out)...
Pop Idol winner Will Young releases his first single today. Chart experts are predicting the double A Side, Evergreen and Anything is Possible, will become the fastest selling debut single in British history. Advance orders for the record already top 1.2 million, beating the previous record held by the winners of Popstars, Hear'Say. On ITV2 yesterday Will confirmed that his album will have contributions by Cathy Denis and Burt Bacharach. Gosh.

Sunday, February 24, 2002

Baftas 2002...
Just finished watching the Baftas. Stephen Fry is an utterly perfect host for these occasions. The winners were somewhat predictable with Lord Of The Rings sweeping the board and Judi Dench and Russell Crowe winning their own respective best actor awards. Good to see Moulin Rouge got some recognition and picked up three gongs. Shrek had to settle for just the one.
Four seasons in one day...
The weather's been weird recently. Snow, rain, sun and wind all in one day. And for some reason it prompted a session of spring cleaning and DIY. Don't know why. But the leaky toilet's fixed, the candle holders are up in the dining room, the pictures are up in the sitting-room and the spot lights in the bathroom don't flicker anymore. By way of self congratulation I spent the evening last night playing Luigi's Mansion before popped out for dinner with Marky, Nicki and Mikey and then heading to the Artful Dodger's closing night party. The game was frantic, the restaurant buzzing and the club packed. All my basic hungers satisfied. Mind, belly and groin. Now if only the weather would sort itself out.

Friday, February 22, 2002

The Meaning of Life...
I give you, the meaning of life. (2Mb but worth it)
Curling at the edges...
I tried to stay up and watch the curling on TV last night but I got bored and went to bed. But while he stayed up watching, Mark used our digital camera to take a photograph of a flower and superimpose the winning position of the curling stones that won us the gold medal. Clever boy.
I'm a whore...
Marcus has branded me, quite rightly, a games console whore. Sony, Sega, Nintendo - I have them all and I still want more. I just can't stick to just one.
Exhibit A: I have eight (!) Nintendo Gameboys
Exhibit B: I imported a sexy black Nintendo GameCube a few weeks ago a full 14 weeks before it is officially available in the UK
Exhibit C: I'm anxiously drumming my fingers until two weeks next Thursday I get my sparkly new Microsoft X-Box
Well now there is more evidence of my whore-dom.
At work I have to buy backup tapes on a regular basis to keep all our data safe. Guess what came as a free gift with the most recent box of 25 tapes? Looks like I can have one in the sitting room AND the bedroom now. Unless you know of someone else who wants it instead? I may be a whore. But I've got a heart of gold.
Remember Pong?...
Well this isn't the Pong you remember, at least I hope not. No, this is Pong for the 21st century. What starts off as a seemingly innocuous game of electronic tennis quickly turns into an entertaining battle of wits between the two virtual adversaries. Slightly profane, but immensely hilarious. Be sure to catch both parts, preferably in order. Indeed, expect the unexpected.
Pong 2
You may have seen this before. Indeed I think I was sent a link to it by David or someone last year. But it's still worth another look.
[Link from CramSession]

Thursday, February 21, 2002

It's the longest and most boring game ever. But what the hey. We won a Gold Medal so who am I to carp?
The Brits 2002: The TV Show...
We just finished watching The Brits. The early highlight was Kylie in a micro-skirt singing Can't Get You Out Of My Head backed with New Order's Blue Monday. It was simply fantastic. One of those rare moments when you know that pop music is here to save your world. A perfect mix of sex and technology that got our jaws dropping open. Sadly the rest of the two hour show was but a steady anticlimax. Compere Frank Skinner was a complete waste of space. Co-host Zoe Ball is, and always will be, an amateur. Dido (who won two awards) has always been, quite frankly, over-rated. Mild highlights of the show were Anastasia and Jamiraquai duetting to Donna Summer's Bad Girls and Sing stripping off at the finale to show his rather gorgeous upper torso. But at the end of the day it was a record company event, largely voted for by them and attended by them. We even took a time out to watch a new episode of Friends on the other side half way through and still didn't feel we missed much. But that's the nature of award shows I guess. No surprises.
I just got a call from Mark...
M: I saw a mouse!
J: Where?
M: There on the stair!
J: Where on the stair?
M: Right there!
M: A little mouse with no clogs on
J: Well I declare!
M: Going clip-clippety-clop, twitch, twitch, I'm almost dead, just leave me here on the stair
J: Oh yeah!
A fair cop...
Police Commmander Brian Paddick is in the news at the moment. He's the man in charge of the Lambeth Borough police service which covers Brixton - a notorious area in South London for drugs and crime. The reason why he's in the news is that he has a very different approach to criminals than other Police Officers. He treats them with respect.
He's always been open.
He's always been honest.
He's always been liberal.
But now he has commited the worst crime imaginable - he's dared to post something on the Internet. He posts on a bulletin board on urban75 And for this unforgivable crime he is in very hot water indeed. He also happens to be gay and quite cute too.
The biscuit game...
This memorandum came round in our office just now.

It has been brought to my attention that members of staff feel the need to enter the meeting rooms and help themselves to biscuits. Please don't, these are supplied for the visitors and members of staff attending meetings and not for general consumption.
Thank you in anticipation of your cooperation in this matter.

Cost of biscuits: 2p each
The Brits 2002: The Winners...

Best British female solo artist: Dido
Also nominated: Geri Halliwell, PJ Harvey, Sade, Sophie Ellis Bextor

Best British newcomer: Blue
Also nominated: Atomic Kitten, Elbow, Gorillaz, Mis-Teeq, So Solid Crew, Starsailor, Turin Brakes. Zero 7
(Winner chosen by BBC Radio 1 listeners)

Best international male solo artist: Shaggy
Also nominated: Bob Dylan, Dr Dre, Ryan Adams, Wyclef Jean

Best international group: Destiny's Child
Also nominated: Daft Punk, Limp Bizkit, REM, The Strokes

Best pop act: Westlife
Also nominated: Blue, Hear'Say, Kylie Minogue, S Club 7
(Winner voted for by viewers of ITV1 show CD:UK, readers of The Sun and via BT Cellnet text messaging.)

Best international newcomer: The Strokes
Also nominated: Anastacia, The Avalanches, Linkin Park, Nelly Furtado

Best British single: S Club 7: Don't Stop Movin'
Also nominated: Atomic Kitten: Whole Again, Bob the Builder: Mambo No 5, Daniel Bedingfield: Gotta Get Thru This, DJ Pied Piper: Do You Really Like It, Geri Halliwell: It's Raining Men, Gorillaz: Clint Eastwood, Hear'Say: Pure and Simple, Robbie Williams: Eternity/The Road To Mandalay, So Solid Crew: 21 Seconds
(Winner voted for by commercial radio listeners)

Best international female solo artist: Kylie Minogue
Also nominated: Alicia Keys, Anastacia, Bjork, Nelly Furtado

Best British male solo artist: Robbie Williams
Also nominated: Aphex Twin, Craig David, Elton John, Ian Brown

Best British group: Travis
Also nominated: Gorillaz, Jamiroquai, Radiohead, Stereophonics

Best British album: Dido: No Angel
Also nominated: Craig David: Born To Do It, Gorillaz: Gorillaz, Radiohead: Kid A, Travis: The Invisible Band

Best British video: So Solid Crew: 21 Seconds
Also nominated: Basement Jaxx: Where's Your Head At, Coldplay: Trouble, Dido: Thank You, Elton John: I Want Love, Fatboy Slim: Weapon of Choice, Gorillaz: Clint Eastwood, Robbie Williams and Kylie Minogue: Kids, Robbie Williams: Supreme, Travis: Sing
(Winner voted for by Smash Hits readers and viewers)

Best British dance act: Basement Jaxx
Also nominated: Craig David, Faithless, Fatboy Slim, Gorillaz

Best international album: Kylie Minogue: Fever
Also nominated: Alicia Keys: Songs In A Minor, Daft Punk: Discovery, Destiny's Child: Survivor, The Strokes: Is This It

Outstanding contribution: Sting

Wednesday, February 20, 2002

Web rage...
Suffering from web rage? Then why not go to Moments of Simplicity for a soothing and relaxing experience. You can enjoy urban therapy, colour therapy or nature therapy. Ahhhhhhh. Lovely.
The Brits 2002...
Tonight it's The Brits. Can't make it? Tuxedo at the dry cleaners? Well, why not have a listen to some of the artists who have been nominated and make your own mind up who should win.
Hear a clip from Can't Get You Out of My Head - Kylie Minogue
Hear a clip from Handbags and Gladrags - Stereophonics
Hear a clip from Little L - Jamiroquai
Hear a clip from 21 Seconds - So Solid Crew
Hear a clip from Roxanne - Sting
Hear a clip from Side - Travis
Hear a clip from Pyramid Song - Radiohead
Hear a clip from 19/2000 - Gorillaz
Hear a clip from Let Love Be Your Energy - Robbie Williams
Hear a clip from New York City Cops - The Strokes
Reasons for not going to the gym...
It requires effort and commitment to keep going back
It's boring
It takes time
You ache afterwards
It costs money
I'm a lazy git

Reasons for going to the gym...
I'm incredibly unfit. I can't walk up stairs without getting short of breath
I'm paying for the membership already (heavily subsidised by the company I might add)
It's in the basement of the building where I work so I can get the lift door-to-door
I can go there on company time not my own
The endophin rush is nice
I'll feel better about myself when I go
Cute men go there
At 2 minutes past 8 o'clock this evening, the time, date and year will be a palindrome, viz: 2002 2002 2002. Why does this sort of thing interest me? Don't answer that!
Not even close...
Our regular team of David, Ian and I were up to full strength at last night's Retro Bar Pop Quiz with Darren joining us again. We were all squeezed into a corner at the end of the bar and felt optimistic as the question setters were known for their heavy reliance on 70s/80s pop. We were sadly mistaken though. Mistaken to be optimistic that is. We got a measly 13½ out of a possible 20 points. Here are the questions.

01. Name two artists that had hits with the title The Look of Love.
02. Name two artists that had hits with the title Money.
03. Name two artists that had hits with the title Things Can Only Get Better.
04. Name two artists that had hits with the title Why?
05. Who had a top ten hit with Painter Man in 1979?
06. Spot the connection: Dollar's Mirror, Mirror, Talk Talk's Today and The Jam's News of the World.
07. Which famous musician has done a recent cover of The Lion Sleeps Tonight?
08. B-52s: were they siblings or a couple?
09. The Mamas and The Papas: were they siblings or a couple?
10. Talking Heads: were they siblings or a couple?
11. Who has recently covered David Essex's Rock On?
12. Who has recently covered The Human League's Being Boiled?
13. Who has recently covered Christie's Yellow River?
14. Who had a top ten hit in 1990 with a cover of The Rolling Stones' I'm Free?
15. Spot the connection: Blondie's Heart of Glass, The Associates' Club Country, The Beatles' Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and Motorhead's The Ace of Spades.
16. What was the A-side of the Pet Shop Boy's B-side A Man Could Get Arrested?
17. What was the A-side of the Eurhythmics' B-side I Could Give You (A Mirror)?
18. What was the A-side of M's B-side M factor?
19. Who had a top ten hit with Hole In My Shoe?
20. What year were these all hits: 10cc The Things We Do For Love, ELO Living Thing and The Sex Pistols Anarchy In The UK?

The winners got 17½ but didn't win the cash so that rolls over to next week.
Pollock - The Movie...
Ed Harris should have won the Oscar. He turns in an award-winning performance. The editor could have shaved thirty minutes off the 122 minutes we had to sit through though but it was a fantastic film. Big ups to Darren for arranging the tickets.

Tuesday, February 19, 2002

Darren and I are going to see Pollock before Pop Quiz tonight. I know very little about Jackson Pollock the artist but somewhat more about Pollock the film. Ed Harris and Marcia Gay Harden were both nominated for Oscars last year. Marcia won, Ed lost out to Russell Crowe (for Gladiator). It gets released in the UK next month.
The Millennium Bridge, which was closed for swaying, will reopen this Friday. The £18.2m bridge, central London's first new river crossing for more than a century, was opened on in June 2000 but was shut three days later. Engineers who decided to close the bridge after it began swaying alarmingly blamed the "synchronized footfall" effect of hundreds of people stepping in unison. Anyone want to come and make it sway again this weekend? Bring your heaviest boots :-)
Kim Smith (my only claim to fame)...
My Mum and Dad knew the Smiths quite well. They lived just round the corner from us when we were growing up. Their Dad, Reg, used to be a teen idol in the Fifties but he wasn't much cop anymore. He used to go by the name of Marty Wilde ("'cos I'm wild, geddit?!"). I think they used to live in West London somewhere (Chiswick?) before they moved near us. Their daughter Kim (who was a year older than me) came to my birthday party once. She had long black hair and went to school in Ware. She then went on to college in St Albans I think to do some arty course and dyed her hair blonde (the way you do). I'd love to say that we're still in touch and she sends me Christmas cards every year but that just isn't the case. We lost touch altogether after she left college. The next thing I heard she was going to take on her father's stage name of Wilde and her Dad and brother, Ricki, had written a song for her called 'Kids in America'. The rest, I guess, is history.

Do you / did you know anybody famous?

Monday, February 18, 2002

Kim Wilde...
My friend Kim has a new single out call "Loved". It's very much like Madonna's 'Nothing Really Matters'/'Ray Of Light' - but that's a good thing (!) You can download "Loved" here (when you see the directory listing, right-click and select "save as").

"Loved" has also been remixed by Pulsedriver. This remix will be released in Germany as a CD on February 22nd. The remix is called the Pulsedriver vs. Beam remix and has been available to club DJ's for a few weeks already on 12". There are also promotional CD-singles containing the full length and single versions of this remix. Pulsedriver has had some success last year in Germany with a cover version of Kim's 'Cambodia'. There are a few indications that the remix will become commercially available in Germany and/or the UK. Boo hoo.

Right now, a promotional CD-single is circulating in the UK and in Europe. This three track disc contains "Loved" and the full length "Kids in America (D-Bops Bright Lights Mix)" and "View From A Bridge (RAW Remix)". There's also a 12" promo doing the rounds. I think they play this at the Vauxhall on Sundays.

Sunday, February 17, 2002

What a lovely day. Sunny outside and we're off bowling. Hurray!
Update: I haven't played for almost 5 years but I got a score of 137. Woo-hoo!

Saturday, February 16, 2002

Pet Shop Boys links...
The Pet Shop Boys started there tour with a very well received gig in Bristol. Even The Times liked it.

The new PSB single Home and Dry is out on the 18th March - the same date as George Michael's Freeek and that Gareth from Pop Idol's Unchained Melody. You can watch the PSB video here low bandwidth or high bandwidth.

Home and Dry is backed with a number of new cool tracks: Always and Sexy Northerner.
Oil's well...
Chris Geary likes wrestling. In oil.

Friday, February 15, 2002

Are you a man or a mouse...?
Can you kill? Would you kill? OK, put it this way, would you or could you cause someone to die through your action or inaction? Could you pull a trigger and shoot someone dead? What if they had a gun and were going to shoot you? Would you defend yourself or your loved ones? What about your country? Would you ever enlist? What if we were at war? Could you cause death remotely? Push a button and fire a rocket or drop a bomb? Would you feel bad about killing someone? Can you kill? Can you?

Would you stop a fight if you saw it in the street? How about a man hitting a woman? Even if it was domestic fight? What if there was blood? What if someone was on the ground being kicked? How about three men fighting, or more? Would you break up a riot? Would you defend the small guy being picked on by the gang? Would you fight or stand and watch? Would you fight? Would you?

How would you stop someone being bullied? How do you defend the weakling? How about fighting in place of someone else? Would you take on someone bigger than you? Would you walk away from a fight? From abuse? What if you were being taunted? In front of your friends or family? What if you brother or sister was being bullied? Or you mother or father were being harassed? Would you fight someone? Hit them? Scare them off? Could you stop a bully? Could you?

Do you like cheese? Do you like running up drainpipes and hiding under floorboards? Do you twitch your nose and scratch your ears? Do you defecate continually leaving a trail across the floor? Are you scared of cats? Do you like cheese, do you? Do you? Are you a mouse? Are you? A mouse?
Century 21...
My favourite New York store is about to reopen. At 22 Cortlandt Street, Century 21 was always chocker with discounted designer clothes. It was always my first stop whenever I visited the Big Apple to pick up some Calvins. After a $10m refit following the WTC towers almost falling on it last September it will be a welcome friendly face in downtown Manhattan.
We shall always have Venice...
Ian e-mailed (and texted) me yesterday asking whether I'd join him for a drink (read: bar crawl) in Soho as he was meeting his ex (Geoff) and he might be in need of a little moral / mental / physical support. He wanted to show Geoff 'a good time' last night. I think it's only natural. Amongst the whole flood of emotions that wash over you when you meet an ex for a drink you can doggedly hang on to the single fact that you want them to have 'a good time' when they're out with you.

I know from experience that it can be a bit of trial meeting up with an ex too. It's that pleasure/pain principle. That love/hate thing. That oxymoron. They can remind you of the good times you had together; "Remember when we...?", "That time you...", "When we went to..." Delightfully tasting together the sweet meats of nostalgia. And yet you kind of hate them for surviving without you. For getting on with their lives quite so well. It's almost a sibling rivalry. You want them to do well and be happy - but not THAT well and THAT happy. At the root you know that somehow, something didn't work between you both. And now they are moving on without you. You wish them well. You care about them a lot. But the question always hangs in the air, "Why couldn't we make it work?"

So it was last night with Ian and Geoff. Geoff is a perfectly affable chap. Living in Kuala Lumpur designing interiors as far afield as Beijing (where he is soon to rent a loft apartment as a base). He was interesting, interested and a fine drinking companion for the evening. Marky joined us too (in much need of a drink or three after his controversial bare-backing conference). Ian directed us to various drinking establishments but it was only when we were on number three or four that he seemed to relax. "Let's not get into all that 'old boyfriend' thing", says Ian. And minutes later they do. Sweet, really sweet, to watch.

G: Remember Napoleon's? Off Oxford Street?
I: Not off Oxford Street!
G: It was.
I: Oh, yes. So it was.
(you can feel them slipping back into boyfriend-chat mode)

G: Remember that brown donkey jacket?
I: Yes.
G: I still wear it. This is yours too (points to leather jacket he's wearing).

G: Remember our trip to Venice?
I: Beautiful colours. Very romantic. The pinks and blues at sunset.
G: Yes.
I: Beautiful (wistfully).
G: Yes (even more wistfully).

Ian and Geoff were together for nine years and with that much history they are a part of your life forever. It was an honour to be invited along really. Geoff's off to Paris tomorrow for the weekend. Then back to Kuala Lumpur to join his current boyfriend. Ian no doubt will be continuing his own search for Mister Right. Well, at least Mr Right Now.

We finished the evening off by going to Bar Code for a night cap. We met up with Elliott (sexy beast), Will (a fellow Philip Pullman fan) and Saunders (the sly old fox). And what delightful people they all are too. An evening of happy singles and happy couples. Just as it should be on Valentine's Night.

Thursday, February 14, 2002

Will Young wins gay poll for Valentine's Day...
Pop Idol winner Will Young has been voted the number one fantasy gay date for Valentine's Day. He obtained 22% of votes in an online poll. Gareth Gates was second with 20%, while actor Ben Affleck was in third place. Robbie Williams and David Beckham tied for fourth place in the poll on Gay.com UK. Sir Elton John only managed to poll 2% of the votes. [From Ananova]

The lovely Will has also launched his own web site to plug his debut AA single which you can listen to here: 'Anything is Possible / Evergreen' and which is out on 25th Feb.

My friend XXXX who works for a highly respected charity has had sex with Will.
XXXX is, of course, a man.
Valentine's Day rhymes...

Kisses blown are kisses wasted,
Kisses are not kisses unless they are tasted,
Kisses spread germs and germs are hated,
So kiss me baby, I'm vaccinated!

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Please can we meet,
So I can kiss you!

My love is like a rose divided into two,
The leaves I give to others,
But the rose I give to you.

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Fancy a snog?
I’ll meet you in the loo!

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
You’re like a window,
I see right through you.

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
I was born beautiful,
But what happened to you?

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
The dog next door,
Reminds me of you!

Send any of these messages anonymously from Valentine's United.
The Dark Materials Trilogy...
Drew bought me Northern Lights (aka The Golden Compass) for a Christmas present last year and I'd not got round to reading it until recently. I had noticed however that's it's author Philip Pullman recently won the £30,000 Whitbread Book Of The Year Award for The Amber Spyglass - book three in a Dark Materials trilogy of which Northern Lights was the first book. This was the first time a children's book had won the main Whitbread award. Coupled with the fact that two weeks ago in the pub everyone was talking about daemons (and essential feature of Northern Lights) and Ian is lending another Philip Pullman book (The Ruby in the Smoke - book one of a completely different trilogy featuring a character called Sally Lockhart) to Drew to read I thought I'd give him a whirl. Well to put in mildly I'm hooked. I've read three of his books in the last week alone. Starting with The Ruby in the Smoke I moved on to the Dark Materials Trilogy (Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass).

Pullman is basically a children's fantasy writer akin to J K Rowling but his books deal with far more serious themes such as opium addiction, theology, science, murder, puberty, death, child abuse, mental illness and even castration (!) His hero/heroine are often aged 11 or 12, are all gutsy fighters from broken homes and often end up killing someone within the first few pages. The books are an easy read and have that page-turning quality that makes any book hard to put down.

The Dark Materials trilogy will now be made into a film by the production company behind The Lord of the Rings. New Line Cinema has bought up the rights following the success of its first Tolkien film, according to industry site Variety.
Our fine four fendered friend...

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang previews from 19th March at the London Palladium. And I'm taking Marky as a Valentine's present. The cast of this 'magical' musical, based on the film, has been confirmed as Michael Ball as 'Caractacus Potts’, Emma Williams (who?) as ‘Truly Scrumptious’, Anton Rodgers will star as ‘Grandpa Potts’, Brian Blessed as ‘The Baron’, Nichola McAuliffe as ‘The Baroness’ and Richard O’Brien as ‘The Child Catcher’ - an inspired choice.
Love and Money...
We decided to celebrate VD early last night and went out for a meal in Upper Street. Lucky we did really as it seemed everywhere is booked up solid for tonight. Our local bistro will be doing a set menu at £25 a head. What a rip-off. Apparently lots of restaurants are doing the same. Contrary to reports I don't think that romance is dead as such. It just costs a bit more every year.
Happy Valentine's Day...
To all those I love. Especially my darling, Mark.

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

So far so good...
Things are going OK so far. One or two hardware hitches but that's to be expected. We should be out of here by 4pm. (I currently blogging this at lunch table)
I'm in Soton all day. And possibly all night too. It's going to be a long job reconfiguring a network and getting the routing tables right. People are going to be standing around watching me work. The pressure will be on. I've had to preconfigure a lot of stuff blind so it's fingers crossed. The funny thing is, I don't think I'll get much thanks for it if it all works. Oh well, I guess I'll have to file it under the 'pride in my work' category.

Tuesday, February 12, 2002

Busy, busy...
I was only out of the office for three days but the workload has certainly piled up. That's a good thing by the way. It's nice to be busy sometimes. Helps the day go faster. Tomorrow I'm off to Southampton for the whole day installing some new kit in our office down there. I'm also setting up a VPN over the Net to our head office via ADSL which should be a giggle - especially as there is no SLA yet from BT. The words 'flying by' and 'seat of your pants' spring to mind. But I like a challenge I guess.
Nintendo GameCube...
Straight from the airport I rushed to my brother's place out in deepest Hertfordshire. Why? Well he'd just got back from New York and bought me a little present. A little 5" cube aka a Nintendo GameCube! Whoopee! He also got me an extra controller, a memory pack and two games: Luigi's Mansion and Wave Race. So Marky and I were up to the small hours playing with my new diminuative toy. The graphics are fantastic - better than I'd seen before. Still maintaining the cutesy Nintendo game style that I love and yet somehow everything was even more gorgeous and hyperreal than the N64. Interestingly the games seemed to play faster than I'd seen before too. This I think is because the US versions of game consols run at the US's 60Hz AC rather than the UK's 50Hz AC. I used a power stepper to transform the frequency and also to down the voltage from 240v to 110v. Crashing through Wave Race was quite an experience I can tell you. The new controllers have rumble packs built in which all adds to the fun. I can see me spending some late nights on this little baby.

Monday, February 11, 2002

Tip for the modern air traveller #23...
Wear clean socks. They make you take your shoes off at security now in case you have explosive heels on.
Nach Hause...
We are homeward bound now. Stuck at Tefel with little to do. Berlin is OK as a holiday destination but I wouldn't rush back here. Amsterdam has much more to offer. It's been good spending time with Roger though. As ever. :-)

Sunday, February 10, 2002

Nice city. But it'll be nicer when it's finished....
It seems everywhere is a building site in Berlin. Redevelopment is in full swing. I found this a little bit surprising as unification was way back in 1990 but I guess these things take time.
Last night we went to East Berlin to have dinner and to tramp around some of the bars. We ended up in a bar called Greif - full of young skins. We didn't leave until gone 5am. Not that I misbehaved you understand - I was playing Addams Family pinball most of the night! We got up fairly early today to visit the glass dome on top of the Reichtstag. Norman Foster's marvel of glass, steel and mirrors. Really very impressive - if not quite worth the 75min wait in the freezing cold. To warm ouselves up we settled down in Steam sauna for a few hours and then had a bite to eat. Being too exhausted to go to the club GMF tonight I've now retired early. We've got to checkout by 10am tomorrow and I need by beauty sleep.
Internet phones...l
This may be my most expensive blog entry to date as it has taken me 15 minutes to get it working properly and I am using my credit card. The German keyboard is critically, but not significantly, different from the UK one. Which makes life even more fun.

Saturday, February 09, 2002

Checkpoint Charlie...
Last time I was here at Checkpoint Charlie was 26 years ago. I was on a school exchange trip and the family I was staying with had relatives in East Berlin. It presented a golden opportunity to show me the hassle it was to cross the border and what it's like to have guns trained on you as you cross from West to East - somthing I've never forgotten. Today's experience is very different though. The barriers are all gone. Checkpoint Charlie is just an excuse to sell T-shirts, hats and postcards. Even the museum near the site is lack-lustre. What a pity that the stories of the very real hardship of a city torn in two is translated so badly. The site deserves a proper memorial. Maybe it'll happen. Maybe it's all too soon since the wall was still there. Just Nov 1989.

Friday, February 08, 2002

Berlin - the tourism bit...
Got up early and visited the Bauhaus, Checkpouint Charlie, Berliner Dom, Unter den Linden, Brandenburg Gate, Charlottenburger palace and ended up having a meal at KaDeWe the big department store. Then had a haircut and took a breather before having a coffee in a skinhead cafe (yes they do exist) before doing a bit of shopping for nick-nacks.

Tonight we are going to plan to disco-nap earlier to make sure we are up for going some bars. Tom's is high on the list. First impressions: Berliners are a friendly crowd - but they don't smile much!
Berlin - the beginning...
We arrived yesterday to a grey miserable day. The hotel was pleasant enough - roomy, warm and welcoming. We spent the afternoon wandering around the district and getting to know the area. Found a friendly bar just across the street and generally made ourselves at home. 5 minutes later we were bored. Let's do something. So we went to the cinema.

And a very odd place it was too. There were very few seats and most of those were in booths. The films kept being changed to different film so just as you were getting interested in watching something it changed. Very strange. Not only that but people kept moving around and you wondered at times whether they were interested in what was being screened at all! In the end I simply resigned myself to the fact that I'd not be able to follow the plot of any of it and let myself go with the flow. Besides after two hours of trying to keep up with what was going on I decided to head home.

Rog and I decided to skip our disco nap and head straight out for food. Big mistake. After returning for a little sleep before going out later we where both out like lights. So we went to bed at 9:30 and never made it out of the hotel again until the next morning.

Thursday, February 07, 2002

I've been busted by the Webmaster at Aegean.net (George Michael's we site). I got a 'please remove all references to Freeek' and 'all MP3s of Freeek'. Legal jargon was mentioned. Naturally I did as requested as I'm a good boy. Please don't e-mail me asking for the files as I couldn't possibly send them to you. I really couldn't.

Wednesday, February 06, 2002

Ich bin ein Berliner...
Tomorrow I'm off to Berlin with Roger for five days for a bit of R&R. We have a few things lined up but are open to any suggestions as to things to do and places to go. Are there any 'must see' things that we just have to do? Are there any German phrases that we should really learn before we go? Any places where we really should eat and/or drink? Monuments that we just gotta see? Let me know ASAP and we'll try and fit it all in.

My blogging may be less frequent as a result of this trip. Or not. Depending on what we get up to!
Mini Gay Blog Meet...
Last night's Pop Quiz at the Retro Bar was made especially special as we had a mini gay blog meet first. Michael was down from Nottingham to join in the Tuesday night fun and frolics. He'd taken Wednesday morning off work and was staying with friends in Brixton. It was great to meet him and we wondered at his casual encyclopedic pop knowledge. Sadly we didn't win (pipped by half a point). Full details this afternoon here.

Left to right: Ian, David, Dave, me, Michael, Marcus. [Thanks to Marky for taking the picture]

Tuesday, February 05, 2002

George Michael's new single (again)...
Are you a George Michael fan? Are you? ARE YOU? Well Jonce here has got a little present for you: the full 4 minute 20 second version of George Michael's Freeek for you to listen to. You lucky, lucky people.

I have also now made the track available for download in either WMA or MP3 format. Simply right-hand mouse click on the format you want and select "Save Target As..."

The track is obviously 'inspired' by internet sex sites as the samples of modems and heavy breathing at the end are a bit of a give away.
Glued to the set...
Having downloaded it from Morpheus, we finally got round to watching a recent(ish) Star Trek: Enterprise episode called Dear Doctor last night. It was really quite good. Thought provoking. I think the series is improving as it progresses.

I have also found myself in possession of a Video CD of Lord Of The Rings. A very good copy too. It'll be fun to watch it again at my leisure and maybe reassess that I think about it. Mark hasn't seen it yet (he didn't fancy watching it at the cinema) so we'll probably watch it while I'm packing on Wednesday night.
George Michael's new single...
George Michael's new single Freeek! is out on 18th March 2002 in the UK. I heard it on Radio One's Breakfast Show this morning and it sounds brilliant. Big beats with those inevitable GM vocal stylings. Rumour has it that it's co-produced by Daft Punk. You can hear a audio 30sec clip here. He has an album out later this year. Word on the street is that the album will be very "up". Can't wait.
In 1999 I bought Mark a DVD player. To be exact an Hitachi DVD DV-P250. It has worked perfectly since then - but with one slight problem. It would only play region 2 DVDs. So we couldn't watch DVDs that we had bought or been given from the States or the Far East. Well last night this annoyance got the better of me so I started trawling around on the Interwebnet to try and find a solution. And I did. I downloaded two disk images that contained a ROM eraser and a cracked updated ROM. I burnt them on to two CD-RWs and armed with a short list of instructions set about hacking the Hitachi's region 2 ROM. Two minutes later I had a fully working 6 region DVD player! Fantastic. I love the Internet.

The first DVD I watched was one that Kit had lent me sometime ago but I'd been unable to watch until last night: a DVD of the original "You'll Believe a Man Can Fly!" movie: Superman

Great film. Still stands up after 24 years believe it or not. The DVD was final released last year and is a treasure trove of trivia and features. The most revealing for me was the the casting documentary and in particular all the actresses who read for the part of Lois Lane before Margot Kidder was finally chosen. These screen tests were recently discovered in London and were edited into a montage for the documentary so almost each shot has a different actress reading a line. Amongst the unsuccessful hopefuls were Stockard Channing, Leslie Ann Warren, Ann Archer... the list goes on and on. Catch it if you can.

Monday, February 04, 2002

Gosford Park...
Yesterday was a film day: Film # 1. What a delightful, remarkable and thoroughly entertaining film this was. Gosford Park is an old fashioned whodunit mixing Upstairs, Downstairs, The Remains Of The Day and Murder On The Orient Express. Robert Altman was produced and directed an amazing ensemble cast of luminary British stars each giving outstanding performances. Head and shoulders above the rest was Constance, Countess of Trentham (Maggie Smith). She had and amazing array of Wildean oneliners and putdowns that reduced the audience to hysterics. Very bitchy, very funny.

I urge you to go and see this film if you haven't already. It's well worth it.
Sexy Beast...
Yesterday was a film day: Film # 2. This was fun, entertaining and the darkest of the films we watched yesterday. Sex Beast centres around a robbery that's being planned in London for which mad-boy Don Logan (Ben Kingsley) tries to persuade retired gangster Gal (Ray Winstone) back out of retriement from the Spanish Costa Del Crime. It treads the line between humour and crime quite carefully. Never being too jokey, Kingsley puts up a performance that must rank him amongst the most evil villains in quite some time. The brutal nature of the film is somewhat lessened by the fact that Teddy Bass (the 'Mr Big' who is organising the heist) is played by none other than Lovejoy's Ian McShane. Still, his steely blue eyes did have a certain menace about them.

Well worth seeing. Even if it's just to watch Kinsley's threatening psycho go 'ape'.
What Dreams May Come...
Yesterday was a film day: Film # 3. This was definitely the least pleasurable of the films we watched yesterday. What Dreams May Come is utter twaddle.

Don't bother. The dog dies, two children die, the dad dies, the mum commits suicide. There you go. I've saved you the bother.

Sunday, February 03, 2002

Say Hello...
I said I was going to do this sometime ago but at last I found time. Here is the full performance of Marc Almond singing Say Hello Wave Goodbye on Jools Holland's New Year's Eve show.
Pop Idol...
Drew and I were in the pub celebrating Matthew's 31st birthday so we didn't watch Pop Idol last night. But it felt like we did. We got all the latest updates texted to us from Marky and David. We even did a bit of last minute canvassing in the pub ourselves for Will. In the end as expected Darius Danesh was kicked out. He sang Toploader's Liza Minnelli's "Dancin' in the Moonlight" and The Walker Brothers' "Make it Easy on Yourself", both songs chosen by the judges. Hosts Ant and Dec revealed the two finalists, William Young and Gareth Gates, had polled 39.8% and 39.3 % of the 5.8 million votes but did not say which had which. So it's closer than we'd thought. You can watch a clip from the boys here: Will and Gareth. But prepare to cringe at Gareth's "I want to help the homeless, the starving and the needy" bit. Will DEFINITELY gets my vote now.

Saturday, February 02, 2002

The Windy City...
The UK is being battered by storms at the moment with 80 mph gusts of wind. When we were going out last we were walking down Upper Street watching the whole city being battered about. The odd tile was being lifted from the rooftops and crashing around us, scaffolding was shaking and wobbling, windows were rattling and litter was tumbling down the street. It was really quite exciting.

Friday, February 01, 2002

Birthday present...
To celebrate the fact that I am one today (and also the fact that I got paid yesterday) I've just a put a deposit down on an X-Box. It gets released here on March 14th and I hope to get one that day. Has anyone else got one and can recommend any games I should get for it?
One year old today...
Happy Birthday to me! So this blog is one year old today. Since starting out the earth has circled the sun just once and in that time blogging has rather taken over my life. I've done it an work, at home, in Boston, in New York, in Amsterdam, in the Middle East, in Vienna, in Madrid, in South Africa, from a speeding car, on the beach, on a train, at the airport, at a railway station, at a friend's house, at my parent's house, while out shopping, in a cafe, in a pub, in a night club, when I get up in the morning and when I get home at night. In times of delight and in times of sorrow. There is nowhere I wouldn't consider blogging from. I guess I'm an addict. Neil McIntosh's article in the Guardian yesterday rather hit it on the head when he said, "It is not often you can say a website has changed the face of the web, and had an impact far beyond the confines of its own domain. But, for many, Blogger is such a site." To a large extent blogging skews my perception of life and what I experience. I often think about how I could put such experiences into words and what I really think about what I'm experiencing. Blogging has enriched my life a great deal and yet made me it's slave. It has reintroduced me to the joys of writing; something I had long forgotten how to do. It has caused me to meet new people, many of whom have gone on to become firm friends; on both sides of the Atlantic (see side panel for the full rogue's gallery). It has forced me to think of thinks to say when perhaps I don't want to or shouldn't. At times it has got me into trouble and at the same time allowed me to get things off my chest that I couldn't in any other way.
So I thank you, dear reader, for your indulgence in what is really only an exercise in 'vanity publishing'. I do hope though that in some small way you might find this site fun or a bit of giggle. If not and if I offend you or bore then please don't think ill of the medium. There are a lot of people out there who do blogging a lot better than me. Tonight I shall be celebrating though. Celebrating my blog's first birthday. Because in many ways my blog has liberated me. Set me free to express myself in a way I've never done before. And that needs to be celebrated. It is just a strange twist that it has also enslaved me. I'm addicted to it. Ironic really.