Quote Of The Day

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

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

New Year's Eve...
We just got an invite from Charlie to spend New Year's Eve with him in his swanking Oxo Tower apartment which happens to be just along from the London Eye.

By some strange coincidence which in no way biased out decision... "London is gearing up for the biggest New Year's Eve party since Millennium night. The focal point will be the London Eye, which will stage a £1 million fireworks display."


Yippee!


And as midnight approaches I shall be visiting this site to bring in the new year....


A Happy New Year to all my readers!
Happiness...
Colin bought us the DVD of Happiness for Christmas. I'd not seen it before so Marky and I watched it last night. And what a great / disturbing / funny / thought provoking it is. Makes we want to see more of Todd Solondz's films.
Brainteasers...
1) What is filled in the morning and emptied at night, except for one night of the year when it is filled at night and emptied in the morning?

2) What is impossible to hold for half an hour, yet weighs virtually nothing?

3) What demands an answer, but asks no question?

4) I've little strength, but mighty powers;
I guard small hovels and great towers.
But if per chance my master leaves,
He must ensure he safeguards me.
What am I?

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

The Beagle has landed...
Mars calling Earth... Mars calling Earth... Read reports back from Beagle 2 on it's own blog. Clever. And funny.

"One of the reasons I'm here is to look for "life". Whatever that's supposed to be. At the moment the problem is that even if this 10 metre high Alien appeared in front of me - who could I tell. "Eh - hello ESA, I think I've found life". Ha ha. I mean they're not even picking up my simple beep. Ironic - no? Guess what, I am currently looking at about 5 pink aliens who are slowly approaching, armed with what seem like instr..............

I'm joking. It's as boring as hell here ... really. And red."

Although the star of the Beagle2 On Mars blog for me is Barney the Boulder - Beagle 2's new friend. Sweet. And my site of the moment.

Monday, December 29, 2003

Priestly celibacy rule 'is ignored'...
"Priestly celibacy in the Roman Catholic church has largely broken down in many parts of the world, Father Timothy Radcliffe, former master general of the Dominican Order, which has 200,000 members worldwide, said last night on BBC Radio Four Analysis programme - as reported in today's Guardian.

The Vatican and the Pope have rejected any question of altering the 1,200 year-old celibacy rule, but there is growing alarm in the church that the number of men coming forward to train for the priesthood in Europe and the US is declining, and that a high proportion of those in training are thought to be gay (gasp!)

Eamon Duffy, professor of the history of Christianity at Cambridge, told Analysis: "There is a real danger in the western Catholic church that the clergy will become a profession for homosexuals... many are first class, marvellous priests but I think everybody sees that it would be undesirable to have the clergy predominantly homosexual."
How tired was I this morning?...
How tired was I this morning? Let me tell you... I've put on odd shoes! One of Mark's and one of mine. And I'll only just noticed a full two hours after putting them on. Odd socks? Maybe. But odd shoes?!! How embarrassing!

But most embarrassing of all was the fact that I've been in the MD's office already today and he mentioned something about my shoes and I didn't twig. I just smiled and thought - "strange man!"!

My only excuse is that I was tired and it was dark! Today I'll just sit in my office with my feet well under my desk and pray no one asks me to do anything that involves moving!

Here is a picture as humbling evidence:

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Christmas puzzle...
What to do if you have the following to hand:

1. ....time

2. ....a knife

3. .... a cat

4. ....a camera

And the answer is....



[Thanks Sarah]

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Happy Christmas!...
The most fantastic Christmas card ever! Happy Christmas to all my readers.

What women want...
Stuck for a last minute Christmas present? Here are some tips for what women what. Click for bigger versions.


[Thanks to Rog for the images]

Monday, December 22, 2003

When a favour is a pleasure...
On Saturday I got a text message from Dave, the perfectly formed Minkered one, in Oz asking if I was going to the Vauxhall on Sunday. A good friend of Dave's, Pete, was in town and wanted someone to show him the ropes. I was going to have to cancel some plans but as it turned out they were cancelled for me anyway and so at 2pm Sunday afternoon I found myself waiting at the top of Vauxhall tube station escalators for an Australian that I'd never met. All I knew about him was that he a friend of Dave's, he had a thorough knowledge of Kath and Kim and probably had a beard.

Looking at each person straight in the eye as they emerged at the top of the escalator to see if they are the one you are meeting can be a strange business. Straight men (well the ones that aren't psychopathic) don't give you a second glance. The gay ones though more often than not get a reflex cruising reaction when you catch their eye. Within the space of ten minutes I had perhaps given 'the wrong signals' to seven or eight of the emerging poofs. One of which came over and spoke to me - but who patently wasn't Pete. An uneasy smile from me. "Sorry, I'm waiting for someone else", was the only thing I could think to say. Seemed a bit lame but it was true! "Another time?" he said. Another uneasy smile. Maybe not.

Eventually this perfectly cute and obviously Australian (tanned, cropped hair, relaxed attitude, deep blue eyes) appeared at the top of the escalator and I knew I had my man. "Jonathan?", he asked. "Pete" I declared. "I thought you might be wearing the Kath and Kim fun wig?", he said. "No kiss no coach?" I replied. We laughed.

Waiting for the Vauxhall to open on a freezing cold winter's afternoon is no fun. We eventually found a bench on a windy overground train platform and huddled round lousy tea and coffees trying to keep warm. There Pete told all about his work as a P.E. teacher and his various teaching jobs in Oz, the States and the UK. We caught up with Dave's news too (that which I couldn't glean from his blog anyway). Utterly frozen we finally joined the queue that was forming outside the venue. A further half hour later the doors finally opened. In that time I'd discovered that Pete lives with the lovely Rich and Russ! Oh my God! Small world!

Once inside we got beers (and more beers. And more beers) and chatted to Grant and Jason and did all the usual things people do waiting for the act to come on. D.E was in good form and good voice. Coincidentally performing mainly songs by Australian divas ONJ and Kylie. Pete seemed to love the show and soon afterwards we were dancing like lunatics to Andy Almighty's hi-nrg oeuvre. I was even persuaded to take my shirt off. Yikes! Must have been something in the beer!

I left the gorgeous Pete at about 10:30pm as I had a school day but making sure Pete knew where the courtesy bus left for the LA3. A top night with a top bloke.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Amercian Family Association...
The American Family Association, an anti-gay organization, is doing a poll on gay marriage and civil unions. They are going to present the results to Congress in the US, hoping to gain support for the federal constitutional amendment to define "marriage" as solely a heterosexual union.

However, anyone can take their poll, so please pass this URL far and wide. (I doubt they expect anyone but their own, anti-gay members to answer it.)

Click here to vote in their Marriage Poll. Come on. Let's screw up their figures - which by the look of it so far it's working!

Friday, December 19, 2003

Have I Got News For You...
Tonight when asking about Ken Livingston's re-entry into the Labour party host Charles Brandreth asked: "Who has withdrawn to ease Ken's passage?" Missus.
Ouch!...
My head hurts. And my tummy's upset. And I feel lousy. And tired. Is it a cold? No. Is it the 'flu? No. It's a hangover. For last night was our company Christmas party. Much eating and drinking and laughing and dodgems (yes, dodgems!) I'm paying for it today though.
Christmas Time...
Richard sent me this rather fun electronic Christmas Card. It appeals to my sense of humour. Thanks, Rich.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Crap Album Covers...

[Click for bigger version]
[Thanks to Rog (amongst others)]
Tesco - Dean Street - Soho
You may have read that a branch of Tesco is opening up in Dean Street in Soho - right in the middle of Boystown. You may have even seen the advertising campaign (tube posters, internet ads, magazine ads) which are all based on one rather pink tinged section of the market. Stereotypical images of gay men as the Village People, Drag Queens and in bondage gear.

Last night Guy sent me this link of an internet ad. Other bloggers have pictures of the tube poster ads.

Personally I think the ads are amusing. Others don't agree. Some peope are offended. But, hey, that's their choice. I'm with Oscar Wilde: "there is no such thing as bad taste, it's either funny or it's not".

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Sure Is...
This store is actually called Treasure Island but the accidentally cropped photo below says it all. Amercia's most European supermarket. Sure Is. And I love those little pictures of Europe - France Italy England and Greece. One American was asked where he thought Greece was. The reply: "South America?"

Monday, December 15, 2003

Saint Etienne...
Last night Paul and Simon took Marky and I to The London Palladium to see Saint Etienne as a birthday present for Marky. David and Jason were there as was Michael and a bunch of other Duckie regulars. Actually the whole crowd was fairly fruity. And when we arrived we got given a free three track Saint Etienne CD of Christmas songs. A good start.

The night was billed as, "their big show of 2003... a greatest hits set and Christmas extravaganza featuring some very special guests who have appeared on Saint Etienne tracks down the years."

The show was indeed a lot of fun with the audience on their feet after just a couple of tunes. All the old favourites were there bringing back memories of the early the 90's and beyond.

Special guests were promised and in fact they turned out to be the wonderful Etienne Daho and (more bizarrely) Edwin Collins. Jason said, "who the fuck is he?". Quite. More on him later however.
Edwin Collins spat at me...
My only previous encounter with Mr Edwin Collins was when he spat at me. He was still fronting his former outfit of Orange Juice at the time and was playing at my first May Ball at college. He obviously took a dislike to me for some reason. Perhaps I seemed to be having too much fun dancing to his, then, only big hit, "Rip It Up". I'd like to say I spat back at him gleefully but I didn't. I wiped it off and kept dancing to his song. But for the last time. I've never danced to it since. I've just developed a pure hatred for the man that has barely abated over 21 years later.
It's as if I'd never been away...
Five minutes after getting back to the office it's as if I'd never been away. Ho hum. Rumour has it it's Christmas next week though so that'll be nice... (thinks) Oh shit! That means I've got to start Christmas shopping PDQ.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Back in the saddle...
Landed at 8am this morning and straight from the flight to get my hair cut, then a wine tasting this afternoon, soon going to JP's party in the Oxo Tower and then a the Royal Vauxhall Tavern to see New York drag act extraordinaire, Kiki and Herb. Back in the saddle - did I say saddle? I mean harness.

UPDATE: Kiki and Herb weren't on (boo, hoo!) but Gary Le Strange was (hurrah!)

Friday, December 12, 2003

Americans? Bashful? Hard to believe...
Homeward bound...
Flying back to London today. Our flight takes off in 11 hours time. My palms are sweating already.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Anti Spam Laws...
Spam is the bane of my life. I get a lot. 2000 since I've been away travelling. So I welcome the news that according to the BBC: "New European laws banning the sending of unwanted e-mails - spam - come into force on Thursday. The laws make it a criminal offence to send e-mails or text messages unless the recipient has agreed in advance to accept them."

But wait. Does that mean I need to ask permission from someone before I send them an e-mail? Any e-mail? To anyone? And a text message? Will I have to phone someone before I sent them a text message and offer them an opt-out option?

So I have a question. What is spam exactly? Is it *any* unsolicited or unwanted message? My credit card statement (that now comes by e-mail)? A holiday text message without agreeing with the recipient in advance? The passing on of e-mail jokes or web links to friends? One man's spam is another mans food (if that makes sense!)

I need to think about this some more. I guess time, and the courts, will tell though.
The Wind-Chilly City...
Chicago is called The Windy City. Well they should call it The Wind-Chilly City. It's fucking freezing!
And if proof were needed, the temperature today is...
Currently: -6º C [Hi: -1º C / Lo: -8º C]
Wind Chill: -13º C
Vegas Recedes...
We left Las Vegas yesterday returning to Chicago. The Boeing 757 flight was as bumpy as hell. We were in row 18 by the wing which isn't my favourite seat on a plane I can tell you. I had tears streaming down my face as I was hit by a severe panic attack in the turbulence just before landing. And the song I had playing on my MP3 player at ear-splitting volume to try and steady my nerves? ELO's Don't Bring Me Down. On reflection maybe the choice of song wasn't a particularly wise one.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Vegas Rocks...
Saturday
Shopping at the Fashion Show mall Part 1
Venitian Hotel meal with Carl, Peter, Marcus, Nikki, Mark & me
Shopping at the Fashion Show mall Part 2
Bar tour: The Buffalo/Gipsy with Carl & Peter

Sunday
5 relaxing hours at the Mandalay Bay Hotel spa
Circus Circus Hotel for champagne lunch
Cujo joins the holiday
The Buffalo for pool and darts with yet another Army guy. Is everyone in the US Army gay? (We didn't ask. He didn't tell)

Monday
Hightail shopping for SD Wi-Fi cards
Everyone else: Half-day Grand canyon trip by helicopter
Me: Half-day in Apollo spa for KGB massage
Tumblers extraordinaire at Aladdin Hotel
Hawaian (of course) cheeseburgers
Internet access on TV in room

Tuesday
Rat-pack Algiers Hotel
Into the blue up the Stratosphere
Cartoon at 1200ft
Rattled at Raffles
Gambling (poker (video (with a system (plus free drinks (except for the obligatory one dollar a drink tipping (which is endemic here))))))

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Vegas Rolls...
Friday
The meal for Marky's birthday was sensational. We were in Swan Court at the Mandalay Bay Hotel. We were half expecting Vegas swans i.e. ones that sang, danced and did high kicks round the restaurant before offering to sell you sex or a Keno ticket - but sadly they were real swans that just swam about and looked nonchalant.

The food was nouveau cuisine. Eleven courses - yes, count them, eleven! - and well worth the yankee bucks we paid.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Vegas (Still) Rules...
The frenetic pace of life here has not let up. If we're still standing we'll be back in Chicago on Wednesday.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Vegas Rules…
Since arriving in Las Vegas on Tuesday it's been pretty non-stop. Here is a brief list of the main things we've done in the last few days:

Tuesday
Arrived late afternoon and did a bit of haggling at the Mandalay Bay Hotel until we got a room with a king-size bed over looking The Strip
Met up with Nikki and browsed the Forum Shops and ate dinner at Bertolli's
Went to the Treasure Island Hotel to see the Sirens of TI show
Had a look round the Excalibur Hotel and Luxor Hotel
Bit of gambling and early night

Wednesday
Breakfast in New York, New York Hotel
Gambled a bit and watched the acrobatic show AirPlay at the Tropicana Hotel
Mark and Nikki went on the roller coaster ride at New York, New York Hotel - I held the coats
Lunch at Red, White and Blue in Mandalay Bay Hotel
Mandalay Bay Hotel Shark Reef to see their new hammerhead shark called Princess
MGM Grand Hotel for drinks and live music
Rita Rudner show at New York, New York Hotel
Back to the MGM Grand Hotel to see the lions and for more drinks

Thursday
Breakfast at Belagio Hotel
Had a look round Monte Carlo Hotel
Had a look round the Aladdin Hotel and the adjoining Desert Passage Shops and got impromptu back massages
In afternoon went to see Matrix Revolutions at the Luxor Hotel IMAX
Met with Carl at the Liberace Museum for the turning on of the Christmas lights and meeting Wes Winters: pianist to the stars
Popped our heads round the door of gay bar Goodtimes and then drove to gay bar The Buffalo for a beer or two and to play pool
Chinese meal in China Town
Drove into the mountains to see Las Vegas from afar
Drove back to Las Vegas and back to The Buffalo bar to play some more pool and for more beer
Back to Mandalay Bay Hotel to watch some live music, some more gambling and more beer (hic).

Friday
Met Marcus and Nikki and had breakfast next to the Desert Rain Storm in the Desert Passage Shops
Had a look round Paris Las Vegas Hotel and went to the top of the Eiffel Tower (500 feet too high of the ground for me)
Lunch at Mon Ami Gapi bistro
Watched the water show in front of the Belagio Hotel
Back for disco nap and to write this blog entry
In an hour we've got people round drinks i.e. the champagne that Ben and Sarah kindly sent Marky for his birthday prior to a five course dinner for Marky's birthday at uber-posh Swan Court (part of the Aureole restaurant at the Mandalay Bay Hotel)

Phew! We are definitely playing by Vegas rules. You stop either because you run out of money or you collapse from exhaustion.

Friday, December 05, 2003

The Birthday Boy...
Below are some long hidden glamour shots that he'd probably rather you didn't see. You go, girl! [Click for larger versions]
Happy 40th Birthday, Marky...
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday, dear Marky
Happy Birthday to youuuuuuuuu!

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Lazy Days...
Monday was another lazy day. A spot of light shopping in Water Tower Place, lunch on the 95th floor of the Hancock Building (as you do) and then a health spa. Feeling suitable invigorated, it was back up the Hancock Building in the evening - this time to the 96th floor - for cocktails and the tremendous view of the city at night.

Carl, Marky and I then headed home to watch the new season two of Kath and Kim on DVD that had just arrived on Carl's doorstep.

In a few hours we're off to Las Vegas for the second leg of our trip.
Pictures from Sunday...
We started off in Roscoe's and then to Emma's for dinner.
[Click for bigger versions]

Monday, December 01, 2003

Just Sunday at home really...
Yesterday we meet up with Emma and Gina, an 18 year old Native American girl, for midday Sunday breakfast at Melrose diner. Blimey, the amount of food you get in these places is incredible! Gina was a really interesting person - studying biology and chemistry to go to Med School and then join the Army to travel the world. She's the sole daughter in her clan and as such is the most important off-spring - her tribe being a matrilineal one.

Our very chatty waitress sat down with us; "God, I just love your British accent! Say 'banana' for me" I did. She was in fits. "Say it again!" I did. "Again!" I did. More fits of giggles. "Banana, banana, banana" She was almost on the floor with laughter. She picked herself up, cleared our table and just as she was walking away I shouted after her "You know what my favourite band is, don't you?... BANANARAMA!". She all but tossed her tray in the air with hysterical laughter. Some people are so easy to please!

Anyway after leaving them at about 1pm we went to the local pub and played pool for 5 hours - well you would, wouldn't you? And then staggered and swaggered along with Flint, Carl and TJ our way to Emma's for dinner and to meet Gina's brother Aubrey. Aubrey is a Native American who works in construction and a thoroughly nice chap to boot. He told me some fascination things about Native American culture that were both illuminating and amazing.

For some reason we all found ourselves later on in Sidetracks - a very noisy and crowded video bar. We didn't stay long.
Happy Birthday, big brother...
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday, dear Simon
Happy Birthday to youuuuuuuuu!

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Day of rest...
We did very little yesterday. Ate, light shopping and sleep. All much needed. Chicago can sure take it out of a gal.

Today is a bit more action packed. But started by following the Arsenal-Fulham game on the Beeb's sport web site. The BBC News web site is really good when you're traveling. Being a bit of a news hound I like to stay in touch with what's happening in the world.

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Putting the 'Chic' back in Chicago...
We met up with Emma last night. Emma is a really good friend from the UK who lives in Chicago now. We did some bar/club hopping and here are some photos we took early on in the night before we got too messy. The other guy in the photos is called Flint, our handsome Chicago bar tour guide.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Naked French Rugby Team Calendar...
Some enterprising young buck has scanned in all the naked pictures on the French World Cup Rugby team's calender. Not only do you get pictures like those below but lots more besides. Go take a look.

Click on the images below for a bigger version

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Thanksgiving...
Thanksgiving is in full swing here in the US. The turkey is in the oven, vegetables are chopped and stuffing has been stuffed. Ten friends are on there way over bringing sweet potatoes and pecan pie. The plan for the day will be to simply eat a big meal and sit around chat.

Thanksgiving is a strangely / uniquely Amercian thing - so big here it's hard to think it hasn't transferred other the Atlantic. It's like Christmas but without the need to buy presents. It's a good introduction to Amercia I guess.
Chicago - first impressions...
This is a great place a bit like New York but not quite as manic. We're staying at Carl's fantastic appartment in Boystown where there is loads of gay shopping and eating and drinking to be had. But as we were fairly knackered after our flight yesterday we had a quite night in - because today the big day - Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Fear of flying...
I'm sitting in Terminal 3 of Heathrow Airport shit scared. I hate flying and I've got a long flight ahead. Suddenly a Bloody Mary at the bar sounds very appealing. Who cares if it's 9:20 in the morning? I suppose I could just close my eyes for the entire flight and think of England, but no. Not practical really. I think I better just face up to it. I might die today.

And so apologies in advance to anyone sitting in seats 40A or 40C on the 10:25 United flight to Chicago today. I'm a big old nelly who hates flying and am likely to be sweating like a fat girl on a hot day.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

European Champions League: Arsenal vs Inter Milan...
Tonight ITV1 showed the Arsenal vs Inter Milan match. And what a corker it was.

1945: Six games kick-off around Europe with Arsenal in need of victory to prevent them from being knocked out.

1950: Inter are awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position but Vieri makes a total mess of the set piece and sends his shot well wide of the target.

2005: Arsenal lift their pace and Kanu shoots narrowly wide from 20 yards.

2010: GOAL Inter Milan 0-1 Arsenal
Arsenal gain a crucial advantage as Thierry Henry sweeps the ball home in emphatic style from just inside the box.

2017: GOAL Inter Milan 1-1 Arsenal
Arsenal's joy is shortlived as Christian Vieri's shot deflects off Kolo Toure and loops over keeper Jens Lehmann.

2048: GOAL Inter Milan 1-2 Arsenal
Freddie Ljungberg puts Arsenal back in front from close range after good work by Henry on the left.

2101: Inter are inches away from leveling when Andy van der Meyde hits a 22-yard free-kick which whistles just over.

2108: Arsenal are pushing for a third goal in the San Siro and Henry tries his luck with a speculative free-kick from 30 yards which is easily saved by Francesco Toldo.

2124: GOAL Inter Milan 1-3 Arsenal
Arsenal seal a brilliant victory in Italy as Thierry Henry races away to score an impressive solo goal to leave the Gunners requiring victory in their final game to qualify for round two.

2127: GOAL Inter Milan 1-4 Arsenal
Arsenal are on the rampage as Edu slides home their fourth goal, much to the delight of the 3,000 traveling fans.

2129: GOAL Inter Milan 1-5 Arsenal
Inter Milan totally collapse as Arsenal break away one again and Robert Pires slots home the fifth to complete a memorable victory.

2130: Full time. In Highbury we go crazy!
Up, up and away...
Apologies if postings are a bit sporadic over the next few weeks. The reason is that tomorrow Marky and I are off to America for two and half weeks. We're planning on causing a trail of retail and partying havoc starting in Chicago, Illinois leading us down to Las Vegas, Nevada and then back to Chicago, Illinois to mop up any survivors we may have left along the way. The reason for the trip is that it's Marky's 40th birthday on the Friday 5th December and he really wanted to spend his big one in Las Vegas.

I'm excited about the trip partly because we're going to Chicago, a place I've never been before despite having some close friends who live there, and partly because we're going to a place I just love. Las Vegas. On top of that I've had a really tough time at work recently (a couple of 16 hour days last week) and I so need a break. But I guess the real reason I'm so excited is that I love it when Marky and I go away together. It's become a bit of a regular thing with us to go away in November as our 'summer holiday' and we always have a great time. So wish us bon voyage and see y'all in a few weeks.

And me being me, a nervous flyer, I've checked out all the sizes of all the planes we're getting on. And of course the movies there and back.

Monday, November 24, 2003

What shall we do with the drunken sailor?...
On Friday night Paul, Charlie, JP and I joined the other old salty sea dogs on HMS President for Duckie's 8th (9th?) birthday party. The venue was unusual i.e. a boat moored on the Thames, the party crowd fairly eclectic (as ever) and the music even more eclectic than usual. All in all a great night out. There were two cabaret acts on. First a pair of beer gulping, wine guzzling, fitness videoing dancing, head spinning and projectile vomiting women. Then a neo-New Romantic comedy singer Gary Le Strange. The sound was a bit crap for Mr Le Strange but, hey, that's what the Duckie experience is all about. David, Jason and Jonny were all there too which made the evening complete. Why later on that weekend David insisted on apologising for his misdeeds of that night demonstrates more what a lovely man he is rather than how foul the mischief he got up to. ("No, David, it was fine, honestly. I hope the ankle is better and yes that was my silver ball on your kitchen table the following morning")

After the rugby Saturday was a day of rest for me and one of work for Marky (he has a dissertation to do). Sunday was more of the same for Marky (poor lamb) while I paid a visit to S.L.A.G.S. / Chill-Out at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern (first time in many months). By some bizarre Duckie/Chill-Out cross-over coincidence David, Jason and Jonny (also joined by Marcus) were there too. Much hilarity followed and Andy Almighty did us proud.

Best joke of the weekend #1: "If you're going to fuck an Aussie - use a Jonny!" [Thanks to Guy]
Best joke of the weekend #2: "Your kids are so ugly when they stayed at Michael Jackson's house they had to sleep in their own bed" [Thanks to 'guest' Security guy at RVT]

Saturday, November 22, 2003

We are the champignons...
Just watched England winning the Rugby World Cup final. Yay our team!

Friday, November 21, 2003

Thursday, November 20, 2003

10 sites I've been to this week...
A new computer with a lot of "flexibility"
How about this setup for Microsoft Flight sim?
Cool animations you've got to see!
What if Harry Potter met Hillary? (for mature audiences)
Turn the tables on information abuse
NASA stellar photography stimulates the human imagination
Are you an Outlook vacation whiz?
The Microsoft Terraserver aerial photography database
Strong Bad videos
Cool browser test page

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

I hate the Carling Islington Academy (and indeed many other similar venues)...
On Saturday night Mark, Paul, Simon and I went to see songbird Martina Topley-Bird at the Carling Islington Academy. A great, great show - fantastic songs and one amazing voice. But there was a problem with the venue. Well, three problems really.

Firstly the people. They did not spot TALKING. Christ! Why pay £12 to see a show and then natter all the way through it. I hate that. It was the same at Goldfrapp the other week at Hammersmith. People just talked and talked and talked. SHUT UP! Grrr!

The second problem was the drinks. And in particular their price. Two pints of lager and two vodkas came in at £21-95. What the...?!! £21-95!! The beer was only £3 so that made each vodka a whopping £8!!! Outrageous! Double-Grrr!!

And the third problem was with the venue itself. Like many other venues is was a flat auditorium - standing only. No banking from the back. So if you were at the back you stood no chance of seeing. Worse still it had a low stage. That meant that anyone under say 5ft 6inches tall didn't stand a chance of seeing the band no matter where they stood. Daft planning. Put a gentle slope in, you idiots! That way everyone can see. It works at most of the old converted cinemas/theatres like the Academy in Brixton and Hammersmith. Why not do it in new venues too? And while I'm on the subject, why is it that a tall couple will always seek you out at a gig and stand right in front of you just when you're got a good eye-line of the lead singer? I swear they do it on purpose. Grrrrrrr!!!!

Apart from that. Topley-Bird. Top gig.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Stress test...
I worked six and a half hours overtime yesterday due to a badly scheduled e-mail upgrade (not by me I hasten to add). And it's all a bit stressful.

There is a picture used as part of a stress test developed by researchers at St. Mary's Hospital in London. It is the final picture of a
series of stress determinators to gauge the amount of stress a patient has built up over a short time.

Don't open the picture just yet but when you do you will see a picture of two dolphins jumping out of the water in tandem.

The research has shown that the more differences you notice in the two dolphins, the more stressed you are. This is attributed to the concentration and recognition influences intensifying when stressed.

The two dolphins are very similar, so if you can tell the difference without looking hard, you should pack up work and go home immediately.

Click here to see picture and test your stress.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Gay or Straight?....
Can you tell if someone is gay or straight just by looking at their photo? Take this photo quiz from B3ta. and find out.
Brainteasers...
1) Unscramble the following letters to form a word.
E N I T R A E S R A B S

2) Write down a mathematical expression, having a value of 24, which uses three equal digits, none of them being 8.

3) As in 2) but now find a different three equal digits.

Friday, November 14, 2003

The Meatrix...
Freerangegraphics.com latest is very funny: The Meatrix. You can see other flash movies with a conscience here.
Raining fire...
On Saturday night Drew and I (Marky had a nasty cold so had to drop out) went to a house warming / birthday / fireworks party at Ben and Sarah's new place in Sydenham. It's a fantastic 1960s town house now full of fantastic 1960s furniture.

The fireworks party was organised by all of Ben and Sarah's neighbours in a small communal garden at the back of the crescent of houses where they live. And it was indeed a small garden. Very small. With lots of trees. The bonfire was huge though and so we all had to stand back against the fence so as not to get burned. We waited for the fireworks to appear. And wondered where on earth they'd be space to let them off.

Actually Sarah, Drew and I are all a little bit nervous of fireworks so we three found a little spot to huddle together as far away as possible from where the action was. Perhaps we'd all seen rather too many graphic videos at school of kids with firework burns to stand too close.

Anyway, one of the local Dads stepped up and took charge. Straight away he started setting up these (rather large looking) fireworks that he had piled high in a wheelbarrow. Those trees did seem a bit nearby, but hey, I'm sure the guy knew what he was doing, right?. And those fireworks did look rather big, buy hey, what could go wrong?

I thought I'd turn on the camera on my XDA II to capture the fun. Glad I did. This is what a happened in the next two minutes (it gets worse right towards the end)... God knows why we were laughing!
ftp://mailgate.overyourhead.co.uk/Visual/fireworks.mov

(It's a 3Mb file and to view the full horror you'll need speakers and QuickTime player)
10 sites I've been to this week...
Play Bot Brigade.
Glowing caffeinated beer for computer fanatics.
The *strangest* computer clock you've EVER seen!
Find anything at the Internet archive.
Polish your writing with the visual thesaurus.
The life and times of the Star Wars Kid.
Cool car "traffic jam" simulator.
Fly over many sites in the world, from your computer.
Free Internet bumper stickers.
MIT's Gallery of Hacks.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Martina Topley-Bird...
Simon is coming over from Spain this weekend and taking us to see Martina Topley-Bird just down the road at the Carling Academy Islington. I know precious little about Ms. Topley-Bird but what I've heard of her music I like.
love actually...
Darren called me up yestedray afternoon to ask me if I fancied seeing the new film love actually - the Prince Charles Cinema was screening an 'exclusive preview' sponsored by AOL Broadband and Nescafe. Of course I jumped at the chance. The premiere isn't until Sunday after all. Mark came too, David was there and so was the oh so lovely Chris Jepson.

So was love actually actually any good? Short answer: yes actually.

The plot "follows the lives of eight very different couples in dealing with their love lives in various loosely and interrelated tales all set during a frantic week before Christmas in London, England." And the cast reads like a who's who of British acting: Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson (OK, he's Irish), Alan Rickman, Martine McCutcheon, Gregor Fisher, Martin Freeman, Andrew Lincoln, etc etc.

The stories were subtitled:
love rocks on
love is elementary
love american style
love unspoken
love as a second language
love at work / love lasts a lifetime
love is awkward
love and politics

The writing is witty as we've come to expect from Richard Curtis and it all takes place in the same universe as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones Diary and Notting Hill. At all the appropriate times the eyes moisten and the laughter comes but to be honest we don't really care about the characters too much. An ineviatble consequence of having eight plot lines I suppose. They are purely there to elicit emotion from us. And on that level I guess it works. But by the end I think we were all left with a slight unsatisfied feeling about the film. As an examination of love it really only showed us the symptons not the cure.

Still is was very funny, no more so than with the many cameos by the likes of Rowan Atkinson, Ant *or* Dec (sic) and Michael Parkinson.

For me the highlight was seeing Brazilian Rodrigo Santoro strip off. He looked magnificent as Karl, the frustrated but unstanding beau. And any film that has in the credit "Natalie's octopus brother, Keith" can't be all bad.

My verdict: go and see with a lover.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Bartender Refuses To Acknowledge Patron's 'Regular' Status...
I am disappointed to report that the cute Bar Code bartender known to me only as 'the cute Bar Code bartender' once again refused to acknowledge my status as a 'regular'. A regular patron. I've been going to Bar Code for more years than I care to remember, and I don't get so much as a nod of recognition when I'm at the bar. I estimate that I have ordered over 500 pints of Carling from 'the cute Bar Code bartender' and not so much as a smile. Now I don't expect Bar Code to be like the Queen Vic or anything, but I just think that I deserve be treated like a human being. I shall seriously considered not leaving a tip for him the next time I'm in there. Very seriously indeed.
The train now leaving Green Park...
I was so engrossed in my book this morning I did something I've never done before. I missed my tube stop.

I love it when books engross and enthrall you like that. When you get to a page-turning moment that simply cuts out the world around you and transports you into the world created by the author. Do you ever have to reread a section of a book because you enjoyed it so much you think you must have missed something? Have you been unable to put a book down because you just have to know what happens next?

Books are great fun and whoever invented them should give themselves a well deserved pat on the back. Well done, you.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Gay Paree: the pictures...
Last week's 'AGM' in Paris went very well; minutes were minuted, actions were actioned and motions were carried. Whatsmore we had time for some sight-seeing and some photo opportunities.

Click on any picture below for a larger version.

Now where do I plug this in?



Monday, November 10, 2003

Hit me, baby...
I seem to have been getting lots of hits to this web site recently. Can't think why...

02 Nov, Sun: Unique users:114
03 Nov, Mon: Unique users:587
04 Nov, Tue: Unique users:588
05 Nov, Wed: Unique users:860
06 Nov, Thu: Unique users:723
07 Nov, Fri: Unique users:2290
08 Nov, Sat: Unique users:1809
09 Nov, Sun: Unique users:2770

Oh, hang on, is it because Prince Charles has been in a man Oman recently?
Heart on Snow...
I got Marc Almond's Russian album Heart on Snow last week and it's great. Marc has also been interviewed by the BBC as 'Torch singer Almond lights up Russia'. Best quote: "Pop music is the best way to get widespread audiences but the irony is it has the least to say."

Friday, November 07, 2003

Royal-Sex-Scandal-Rumour-Mill continues......
So Prince Charles has denied everything. But what is it he is supposed to be denying?

Following George Smith's rumours about a rape at the Palace there have been similarly scandalous rumours circulating about Prince Charles himself being caught in a compromising situation with a servant. It can't be true. But if it were I can see why Charles might want to keep that under the covers. It'd be hard for him to pull it off though. But what a relief if he could.
Royal Rumour continues: Michael Fawcett...
My favourite part of the BBC article on Michael Fawcett, Prince Charles's trusted aide is: "In 1998, when a number of the Prince's staff complained to the Prince of Fawcett's bullying, Mr Fawcett duly resigned. Within a week, though, he was not only re-instated, but promoted. The complainers have all now left royal service." Trusted aide indeed.

Apparently Michael Fawcett was on over £100,000 a year (a typical valet's gets less than £16,000 a year) and got a payout of over £500,000 when he left Prince Charles's employ earlier this year. Trusted and wealthy.
Nerdywood...
Computing Magazine are running a competition to find the top ten best IT-related films. Here are the 30 nominees.

01 Jurassic Park (1993)
Plot: Mad billionaire recreates dinosaurs from prehistoric mosquito. They repay the favour by eating the IT director
IT theme: If you have a monster business idea, don't share it with the IT guy

02 Minority Report (2002)
Plot: In a database-dominated world, the police prevent crime before it happens. One cop becomes victim of the system and fights for freedom etc etc
IT theme: Accept RFID tags today and you'll spend tomorrow hiding in a cold bath avoiding electronic spiders

03 War Games (1983)
Plot: Teenager accidentally breaks into the Pentagon computer and nearly starts World War III
IT theme: If you have computers that can wipe out humanity, make sure you're password isn't "password"

04 Carry on Loving (1970)
Plot: Seminal arthouse technology movie in which Sid James et al start a computer dating agency with hilarious consequences
IT theme: Computers were made for the double entendre: hard drives, floppy discs (ooh, matron)

05 The Lawnmower Man (1992)
Plot: Scientist experiments with virtual reality and some dodgy Es, turning a dim gardener into megalomaniac egghead
IT theme: Computer game junkies need regular screen breaks

06 The Net (1995)
Plot: Hacker Sandra Bullock stumbles on a plot to take over the world through computers and finds her Blockbuster card has mysteriously been wiped
IT theme: Computer obsessives are really quite beautiful and dynamic. Yeah, right

07 The Italian Job (1969)
Plot: Computer specialist and lover of the larger lady Benny Hill helps a group of patriotic criminals to bring Turin to a halt and steal gold bullion
IT theme: Don't trust traffic systems to a centralised datacentre. Are you listening, Mr Livingstone?

08 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Plot: God knows. But a computer definitely turns psycho and something significant happens to monkeys
IT theme: Don't give your computer a name or it'll think it owns the place

09 Weird Science (1985)
Plot: Nerdy students program their computer to create a woman
IT theme: Try not to think about what your brother might be doing with the PC in his bedroom

10 The Terminator (1984)
Plot: A computer system with ideas above its workstation sends a cyborg from the future to kill the hero who can save humanity
IT theme: Don't trust technology. Even your LAN is out to get you

11 THX 1138 (1970)
Plot: One man rebels against a dreary computer-controlled world where we've all been reduced to emotionless four-digit numbers on a database IT theme: Show your PIN number who's boss, or you'll end up living in Basingstoke

12 The Matrix (1999)
Plot: A computer hacker learns that life is just a computer-generated sham, created by cyber-creatures. He becomes part of a rebellion
IT theme: We could all be drones tied to our computer screens, performing essentially pointless tasks for unseen bosses. Hang on a minute!

13 The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
Plot: More of the same, but with more explosions and lots of illogical conversation
IT theme: The only way to deal with a computer virus is a sackful of automatic weapons

14 Airplane II: The Sequel (1982)
Plot: In-flight computer keeps crashing the Space Shuttle. Probably funnier before Space Shuttles started crashing for real
IT theme: Ask to speak to the auto-pilot before entering any aircraft

15 AntiTrust (2001)
Plot: IT megacorp takes drastic action to stop whizz-kid getting his open-source software to market
IT theme: Megabucks proprietorial IT is evil - who could they have in mind?

16 Billion Dollar Brain (1967)
Plot: Texas billionaire hatches plan to use a computer to start a rising in the USSR. Michael Caine saves the day
IT theme: Billionaires are mad. IT will give them great power. Not like today, then

17 Dark Star (1974)
Plot: Space ship's computer tries to keep control of a bomb that turns peacenik
IT theme: Interoperability will be a big issue for computing. Thank God they sorted that one out quickly

18 Electric Dreams (1984)
Plot: Computer develops a personality and becomes his user's rival for the affection of the girl next door
IT theme: Your computer may well have more personality and charm than you

19 Logan's Run (1976)
Plot: Unexpected rebel escapes from a computer-run city where everyone gets bumped off at the age of 30
IT theme: You're not over the hill at 30. One for the management

20 Pi (1998)
Plot: Mathematician builds a supercomputer that can discover the secrets to everything, but a variety of bad guys want a piece of the action
IT theme: Proof that there are some things that should never be allowed into the hands of the Inland Revenue

21 Tron (1982)
Plot: Twisted games designer takes revenge on his enemy by forcing them to fight in a computer-designed world
IT theme: Your software is out to get you, and your word processor

22 Sneakers (1992)
Plot: Hacking for the elderly, as Messrs Redford and Poitier get involved with cryptography and deception
IT theme: People are snooping on our lives, and you can too with cheap laptops, a few crocodile clips and a battered old van

23 Enemy of the State (1998)
Plot: One man has the full technological power of the NSA turned on him when he is given a GameBoy containing evidence of a hushed-up murder
IT theme: Anti-crime surveillance is a bad thing, except when it prevents crime

24 Swordfish (2001)
Plot: John Travolta and Halle Berry are criminals robbing banks by computer and buy arms to support US nationalists
IT theme: There are many unexplored ways to get a computer user to work faster

25 Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
Plot: The Terminator comes to save humans when computer system Skynet sends out a new and improved model
IT theme: Upgrades do not automatically add value or efficiency

26 Westworld (1973)
Plot: Theme park robots go on a killing spree when the mainframe crashes
IT theme: Disaster recovery saves lives

27 Hackers (1995)
Plot: Good hackers (nerdy and just in need of a little love) foil the virus plan of bad hackers (evil geniuses bent only on money, ruling the world etc)
IT theme: Teeny hackers. Gotta love 'em

28 S1m0ne (2002)
Plot: Washed-up film producer discovers that he can do without prima donna actors by using a computer-generated star
IT theme: If the boss implements new technology, he is looking to get rid of you

29 D.A.R.Y.L. (1985)
Plot: Robot boy longs to be human and accepted by his adopted parents
IT theme: Computers can be as temperamental as real people

30 You've Got Mail (1998)
Plot: Rival bookstore owners fall in love anonymously by email
IT theme: Some people do well out of online love. Others end up with Meg Ryan

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Freddie Ljungberg...
"Arsenal midfielder Freddie Ljungberg is the new face of Calvin Klein Underwear and will be appearing in a campaign this week to launch Calvin Klein Pro-Stretch. A giant billboard of Freddie in the underwear was unveiled on Monday, November 3 in Charing Cross Road and the Swedish star will be making a personal appearance at Selfridges in London on Thursday, November 6 from 5.30-6.30pm. All 24 windows of the Oxford Street store will feature images of Freddie in the Calvin Klein Pro-Stretch campaign."

So guess where I'm going after work today?
And the pleasant surprise was?...
Back in the saddle...
Having come back from a couple of days away in Paris (a couple of pix later) it's amazing (a) how it all piles up, and (b) how quickly you can get on top of it all again. Whatsmore I had a pleasant surprise waiting for me when I got home - but more of that later.

Tomorrow is my Friday off (I've worked hard for it, Gad-dammit!) so if anyone has any suggestions for doing anything during the day let me know.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Blagging Blogger...
I am on my way back to Blighty. And to pass the time I am sitting in the 1st Class lounge of Eurostar in Gare Du Nord trying to work out how to use a French keyboard. 1st Class lounge? Mais qui! We blagged our way in claiming we worked in the travel industry and waving a phoney Bona Ticket we knocked up before we set off. It worked. Free beer, free food, free internet and the satisfaction of seeing the posh people thinking, "how the hell did that riff-raff get in our lounge". A fun end to a fun couple of days. Hee hee.
Happy Birthday Ian...
Happy Birthday to You
Happy Birthday to You
Happy Birthday, Dear Ian
Happy Birthday to You

Monday, November 03, 2003

Gay Paree...
Tomorrow and Wednesday I am in Paris. It's not a business trip as such. Just taking a couple of days off with my friend and erstwhile business partner Marcus. It's a sort of AGM/EGM/piss-up to keep Company House happy. We're going over and back on Eurostar and traveling 1st Class, which is something I've never done. I image we'll be able to swan about and have a posh breakfast on the way out and boozy dinner on the way back. Well that's the plan. While we're in Paris we're staying at the Hôtel du Bourg Tibourg in the Marais quarter. Nearby is the Picasso and Pompidou museums, the Place des Vosges, the Ile Saint-Louis, Notre-Dame and the Centre Beaubourg. Oh, and all the gay bars too.

And did I mention the AGM is being held in a 'health spa'? Well you would, wouldn't you?
The End Of The World...
Who needs History, Ecology or Politics when this is what will happen at The End of The World?
[Thanks to Guy. Who is once again the new 'Guy']

Friday, October 31, 2003

Mardi Gras goes bust...
As had been widely expected Mardi Gras in London has gone into liquidation. Good job too. Below is the press release. The other good news is that there are plans afoot for there to be a free Pride festival next year! Hurray! (Hey, if Brighton can do it...)

”At the annual general meeting of the Mardi Gras shareholders on Thursday night a decision was made to commence proceedings to place the company into creditors voluntary liquidation. "The shareholders have formed a view, after careful analysis of current funds, that the company will be unable to pay debts as and when they fall due" said Chairman John Miskelly.

The Mardi Gras team has produced a massive Pride festival in London for the last five years. The company also organised the annual Pride Parade through the streets of Central London. Mardi Gras was formed as a limited company in early 1999 in reaction to the financial collapse of the previous organisers a year earlier. The first three events were held in north London¹s Finsbury Park before moving to Hackney Marsh in 2002. Organisers had, meanwhile, been negotiating for the right to hold the festival in Hyde Park. This ambition was finally realised this year. However due to some of the worst weather conditions this summer the anticipated sale of on-the-day tickets did not happen leaving the company financially in the red.

London is unique among Prides in that it does not attract grant or fund money. "We were, as shareholders, footing an increasingly unacceptable production deficit each year" said Miskelly. " The one year we did make a profit was far outweighed by the deficit years".

Director Jason Pollock said that already discussions were taking place within the LGBT community as widely as possible and that plans are already in place to stage a major free Pride festival in Central London during summer 2004. These plans also safeguard the future of the Pride parade. More announcements will be made soon.”
I know there's something going on...
Abba star to make comeback - the blond one with the nice bum though not the other one that did that thing with Phil Collins.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Some links I like this week...
Fractal mesh

ASCII art collection

Play Poulaga challenge

Jason's comprehensive browser security tests

Extreme Dremel CD experiments

A Peltier beer cooler

Robot plays table soccer

These sculptures are the "pits"

Over 14,000 quotes and counting

The future of RC fun
Erasure - "Oh L'Amour" - Digital single...
"Erasure released a digital single on Friday 24th October. The first release of its kind by Mute, the single is an exclusive mix of Oh L'Amour by Mark Towns.

"Oh L'Amour (Mark Towns Mix) is available from Erasure's official website, erasureinfo.com and mute.com. The single will cost £1, payable by credit card, debit card, Paypal, Nochex, SMS (UK only) and phone.

"In addition to the track, a colour printable CD booklet and CD label artwork is available (in PDF format), allowing purchasers to burn the track onto CD and print their own packaging. The single can also be transferred onto an iPod/MP3 player, etc..."

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Royal-Sex-Scandal-Male-Rape-Rumour-Mill...
I have it on good authority (OK, it was reported in that esteemed organ the Mail On Sunday last year) that George Smith (a royal servant) alleges that he knows of an anal rape of another royal servant by a top royal or servant in 1989. He then told Prince Charles directly, who did not tell the police.

But then other recent stories traceable to Mr Smith's office were "that the Queen should abdicate, that Prince Harry has been taking drugs, that the Earl and Countess of Wessex are being greedy, that Prince and Princess Michael of Kent should give up their flat in Kensington Palace and that Anne should stop sucking off dogs". And so on. Axe to grind maybe?

Personally I've always been 100% utterly convinced that the person who buggered that royal servant was Prince Edward Prince Philip Prince William Prince Harry one of the corgis the Queen Princess Anne's horse Prince Andrew Prince Charles.

Time will may tell
Goldfrapp...
Paul, Simon, Charlie, Kevin and I went to see Goldfrapp again last night at the newly gutted Hammersmith Apollo. Standing room only now in the stalls. The place was packed. Too packed really. And some people just don't know when to shut up when they're listening to a gig. But anyway. It was a long set (1h 45mins) that included both albums and both their famous cover versions (Physical and Yes Sir, I Can Boogie). A great performance by Alison Goldfrapp with the added bonus feature of a super-sexy stripper on Train and Yes Sir, I Can Boogie who really could make the tassels go in opposite directions at the same time. As ever Strict Machine finished the main set and what a disco stomper it was. Twenty minutes of encores followed, ending with the sublime Black Cherry.

After the show I was dead keen to hear what Kevin had to say. It was Mr Greening's first time and as with most Goldfrapp virgin's he'd thought he might only recognise a couple of the singles. And again like most newbies he had been surprised at how many songs he actually new - from telly adverts, BBC's Holiday programme, dramas - Goldfrapp's music gets used a lot.

As that was the 3rd or 4th time I've seen Goldfrapp this year I've probably had my fill for a while. Roll on the new material, say I.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003