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."


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

A Happy New Year to all my readers!
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.
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.
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...
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

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)

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

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...
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:

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

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

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).

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!