Quote Of The Day

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

Friday, June 30, 2006

Moby Dick! The Musical...

Last night Michael organised tickets for us to go and see Moby Dick! The Musical at the Pleasance Theatre in North London. Lovely lighting.

The staging was rather am dram to be honest with awful sound but a spirited performance by the 25 strong cast: think X Factor auditions, think Girls Aloud wannabes, think "I wanna be on the stage, Momma!" And for some bizarre reason everything was performed with an Amercian twang.

The plot, such as it was... In order to save their bankrupt and dilapidated school, the girls of St Godley's Academy for Young Ladies decide to put on a musical version of Herman Melville's classic novel of Captain Ahab's search for the great white whale, Moby Dick. A highly comic, satirical romp through this age-old mariner's tale ensues, full of witty double entendres and a wonderful variety of musical styles such as 80's pop, 50's doo-wop, gospel, Gilbert & Sullivan, sea shanty and opera.

Great to see everyone though and we did have a giggle.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Euroshame 2006...

Despite not really enjoying it last year (too hot, too dark, too empty) I think I'll give Duckie Gayshame Euroshame another whirl this year. I quite like the Pink Pound idea from a couple of years back so hopefully the Pink Euros will work just as well. So if you fancy coming along, here are the details... 
The Coronet / Saturday 1 July / 8pm - 4am On Gay P**de night Duckie present a Eurodisco were everything is for sale. Punters collect their wad of pink euros on the door and SPEND SPEND SPEND at the common market. The Annual Festival of Homosexual Misery presents 25 international artists in 25 installations as the new europeans turn the Coronet into a post-gay (F)unfair. It’s a nightclub. It’s a market. It’s a rip-off. Now in it’s 11th GREAT year Duckie’s Gay Shame is designed by Robin Whitmore, hostessed by Amy Lamé and soundtracked by the Readers Wifes. Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated? Austria Belgium Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Finland France Germany Greece Hungary Ireland Italy Latvia Lithuania Luxembourg Malta Poland Portugal Slovakia Slovenia Spain Sweden The Netherlands United Kingdom The Coronet 28 New Kent Road, SE1 Elephant & Castle tube 1 minute Tickets priced £15 (about 22 euros) in advance in person from The Retro Bar or on the door on the night (if any are left).

Pet Shop Boys At The Tower...

Last night David took Pano, Stuart and I to see Pet Shop Boys at the Tower of London. Well, not exactly 'at' the Tower, more like in an open air concert in the moat. In was all part of the Tower of London Music Festival. The support act was Lorraine - a half-decent Norwegian electro-trio who wore black. With a black background. And had gangly arms and legs. But enough of them. It was a fab show.

There was real party atmosphere to the evening as we star spotted (Janet Street-Porter and David Walliams) and danced and sang along to Pet Shop Boys hits old and new; Left To My Own Devices, Rent, I'm With Stupid, Opportunities (Let's Make Lots Of Money) and a fantastic mix of Minimal into Shopping to name but a few.

The staging was magnificent too as huge light boxes a la Celebrity Squares were wheeled about into different configurations as were giant cut-outs of the boys and the odd giant cowboy hat. Very Pet Shop Boys and very amusing. Actually.

A great show. A great band. A great night. Thank you, David.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Did Something In Bed...

I did something in bed last night that I've not done in a very long time. I read. I do like 'curling up with a good Jilly Cooper' (or in this case a good Marina Lewycka). And I find the bedroom a perfect place to read a few chapters and unwind at the end of the day. It helps me sleep too so my brain isn't buzzing with the things of the day.

And there was another thing I did too. Or rather I didn't do. I didn't drink. For the first (thirst?) time in a very long time alcohol did not touch my lips at all yesterday evening. And I felt so much better for it. In fact I slept like a baby right through.

So note to self: more books + less booze = more snooze.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Womb environment 'makes men gay'...

So it's true... my mother made me gay. But not in the way you might think. Looks like this study "...adds further weight to the argument that lesbian and gay people should be treated equally in society and not discriminated against for something that's just as inherent as skin colour."

Shave Everywhere...

This is a very funny advert promoting the Philips Norelco bodygroomer. After the guy tells you about the Norelco bodygroomer, click on "MAIN MENU" and "MUSIC VIDEO".
[Thanks Bryn]

Monday, June 26, 2006

Soft Cell Sex Banned Dwarf Video...

Hey, look at this! The legendary banned Soft Cell Sex Dwarf video!
[Thanks Hanko!]

England Through to the Quarter-finals...

David Beckham's goal puts England through to the quarter-finals of the World Cup beating Ecuador 1-0. We'll now be meeting Portugal on Saturday.

Goggle Earth...

Goggle Earth version 4 has recently come out in beta. It claims to offer "greater coverage and higher resolution". Looks good. Download it here.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Cats That Look Like Hitler...

I spat my tea out when I saw this: cats that look like Hitler.

ASA to probe Big Brother golden ticket fix claims...

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) will investigate complaints from TV viewers and newspapers that the Big Brother golden ticket draw was fixed, The Guardian reports. One hundred golden tickets were hidden in special edition KitKat bars distributed around the UK. One lucky ticket holder would eventually secure a guest spot in the Big Brother house, which provoked a bit of light eBaying at prices up to £3k. The eventual winner was 43-year-old stripper Suzie Verrico, who allegedly already "knew she was going to enter the house before she was selected, supposedly at random". The UK's tabloid press has had a field day on the growing scandal. The Daily Star claims Verrico declared to drinkers in a London pub: "Watch out for me, I'm going into the Big Brother house," - before she'd won the competition. The Sun, meanwhile, has dubbed the affair "Goldengate", and recently reported that Big Brother housemates apparently rumbled the scam when the draw was made by machine in the house's garden. Specifically, one of them claimed that the winning number randomly selected was not that corresponding to Verrico's ticket. Other reports suggested that every ball in the machine carried Verrico's number 14, although Channel 4 later showed close-up footage of the machine which seemingly disproved this theory. After her arrival at the human zoo, Verrico was recognised by several fellow contestants as having previously auditioned for the show on a number of occasions. An ASA spokeswoman declared: "It has been alleged that the draw was fixed and that the winner Susie was preselected. We are investigating whether the draw was made in accordance with the laws of chance and with an independent observer as the CAP Code requires." Big Brother big cheese Phil Edgar-Jones has already insisted: "There is absolutely no truth in any of the rumours that the golden ticket draw was a fix."

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Down On One Knee...

A journalist interviews Sir Paul McCartney: "So, Sir Paul, do you think that you will ever go down on one knee again?"

Sir Paul: "I'd prefer it if you called her Heather".

Duckie Christmas Show: The Class Club...

Duckie are doing a Christmas Show at the Barbican: The Pit Theatre again this year called The Class Club. Sounds a hoot. If memory serves me correctly it was something that Ursula Martinez was involved with a few years back. The Christmas "Dinner-tainment" from Barbican regular Duckie, features an entire social structure. Three classes of audience member – remember to dress appropriately – are offered three different meals and appropriate entertainment. Lower class: Corporate turkey roast with trimmings, accompanied by Lambrusco and lager. Middle class: Bio-dynamic, GI-rated contemporary vegetarian cuisine, fair trade crackers and new world wines. Upper class: Silver service, champagne and canapés, ancient rare breed estate game and bespoke puddings. Please call the Barbican Box Office with any dietary requirements. Prices: Lower class: £14.99, Middle class: £25, Upper class: £40 Opening night: 16 December 2006. Closing: 7 January 2007 Times: Mon-Sat & 7 Jan 19:30 (No perfs 25, 26 Dec, 1 Jan), Mats 30 Dec, 6, 7 Jan 15:00

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Grumpy Old Women Live...

Last night Guy treated me to a trip to the theatre - we went to see Grumpy Old Women Live at the Lyric Theatre starring Jenny Eclair, Dillie Keane and Linda Robson. It was very funny, the humour being as sharp as it was board. Basically it did what it said on the poster: "a funny celebration of the pre, peri and post menopausal female condition". Sort of theatre to "tut" along with. And of course it helped to have a few pints both before, during and after.


Top of the Pops is no more. I think Mike Read somes it up, "I used to watch it years ago but I don't like the music".

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Sandown Park Races...

Last Saturday Stu and I were invited to the lovely Sheila's birthday bash at Sandown Park. Sheila's hubby Martin had organised the tickets for ten of us or so and it was but a hop, skip and jump from Waterloo down to where the races were being held at Esher. After a quick canter across the racecourse itself to the grandstand enclosure we were soon basking in the sun, downing a few pints, watching the horse racing and having a little flutter. It'd been a long time since I'd been to the races and I have to say it was surprisingly fun. Perhaps less surprising was how wonderful all of Stu's friends were... he obviously chooses his friends very wisely because again they were diamond each and every one. Our good luck held betting-wise as we were a little bit up on the day - mainly thanks to Stu's choice of a 6-1 winner in the final race at 5:45. Stu's Dad Keith was there too with his best mate so it was good to meet him too.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Animator vs. Animation...

There was a spate of funny stick Flash animations a while back - but this is perhaps one of the finest examples. It's by Alan Becker and very funny.
[Thanks Rog]

Pop Quiz Answers...

01. No (22)
02. No (11)
03. No (29)
04. Yes (7)
05. Yes (2)
06. Samantha Fox
07. Hulk Hogan
08. Michelle Gayle
09. Barbara Windsor
10. David Bowie
11. Tina Turner
12. The Smiths
13. The Bangles
14. Radiohead
15. 2003
16. 1980
17. 1982
18. 2004
19. Angela, Pamela, Sandra, Rita, Mary, Monica, Erika, Tina, Jessica
20. 2001

Friday, June 16, 2006

Two Things That Should Never Be Set To Music...

As the great Dan Elfman once said when asked if there was anything he couldn't set to music, "Two things... poetry and rimming."

Aurélia’s Oratorio...

On Rog's recommendation Ian, Guy, Stu and I went to see Aurélia’s Oratorio at the Lyric Hammersmith last night.

And what a dazzling display of stage illusion it was! Mixing magic from music hall, variety and circus, it created an extraordinary theatrical fantasy. Aurélia Thierree is an elegant waif with impossibly flexible limbs and a great line in sleight of hand. And she is the grand-daughter of the legendary Charlie Chaplin no less.

What makes this more than just another magic show is the way it is presented, Aurelia’s huge range of skills both as an actress, illusionist and dancer makes her irresistible to watch and her confident and fearless corde de lisse is quite breath-taking.

I particularly loved the Punch and Judy sketch with its party of comical puppet children.

And those red velvet curtains seemed to have a life of their own.

Catch it if you can.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

X-Men: The Last Stand...

Last night Sarah, Stu and I went to see X-Men: The Last Stand in Leicester Square. Sarah and I had seen films numbers one and two but it didn't take long to get Stu up to speed. The film itself was slightly better than I'd thought it would be (awful reviews had made me fear the very worst) but then I suppose when you have such low expectations you can't fail to be pleasantly surprised. Plot holes aside the film was actually quite watchable. And it was nice to see what counts as state of the art in the special effect world. Maybe wait for the DVD. Oh and wait until after the last credits roll. There's a sting in the tale. "Hello, Moira".

The Triplets June 2006...

Mark and I went over to Ben and Sarah's last Saturday to watch the match and spend some time with the triplets. I stayed the night and on Sunday Ben, Sarah, Dylan, Eve, Lola and I all drove to my parents for lunch out in Welwyn. I was such a lovely weekend and naturally I took a gazillion pictures.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Pop Quiz...

Last night Darren, Mark, Stu and I went to the Retro Bar Popteasers Quiz. It was nice to catch up with the boys. We didn't do amazingly well - just twelve and a half out of twenty whereas the winners got seventeen - but fun to do the quiz again after such a long break. Our team name was Dolly Levi and The Matchmakers. More on that later.

Why not see how well you do?

01. Did Garbage's Cherry Lips make it into the UK Top Ten?
02. Did Fuzz Box's International Rescue make it into the UK Top Ten?
03. Did Human League's Heart Like A Wheel make it into the UK Top Ten?
04. Did Pet Shop Boys' Domino Dancing make it into the UK Top Ten?
05. Did Alice Cooper's Poison make it into the UK Top Ten?
06. Which celebrity had a single Touch Me?
07. Which celebrity had a single Hulkster In Heaven?
08. Which celebrity had a single Your Sweetness Is Your Weakness?
09. Which celebrity had a single Grin And Bear It?
10. Who originally had a chart hit with Young Amercians?
11. Who originally had a chart hit with Private Dancer?
12. Who originally had a chart hit with There Is A Light That Never Goes Out?
13. Who originally had a chart hit with Eternal Flame?
14. Who originally had a chart hit with Karma Police?
15. What year was I Believe In A Thing Called Love first a hit single?
16. What year was Ace Of Spades first a hit single?
17. What year was I Love Rock And Roll first a hit single?
18. What year was Comfortably Numb first a hit single?
19. Name the nine girls names in Mambo No. 5
20. What year was Mambo No. 5 originally a hit?

Bad Omen...

On Sunday night Stuart, Dawn and I went to see the 2006 remake of The Omen. Why did we, or indeed they, bother? It was almost word for word, scene for scene the same as the 1976 original. Maybe people were easier to frighten back then but I remember the 1976 Omen as being up there with The Exorcist as one of the scariest movies of all time. Despite the photocopy nature of this remake it failed to capture anything like the fear and dread of the original. Let's hope they don't remake Damien: Omen II or The Final Conflict.

Why when they remake films do they just remake good ones? Why don't the remake the bad ones?!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Cover Versions Revealed...

Want to know who else has covered your favourite song? Try Second Hand Songs. I, for one, didn't know that Tainted Love had been covered 7 times no less. In valuable for the pop quiz setter. Talking of which... We're off to the Retro Bar Pop Teasers Quiz tonight I think. Come and join us why dontcha!
[Thanks for the link, Stuart]

Brain Teaser Answers...

Well done Mark and Luca.

1. 400 miles.


Monday, June 12, 2006

Brain Teasers...

1) Last week I decided to cycle to my uncle's house. On the first day, I cycled half of the distance. On day 2, I cycled one half of the remaining distance. On day 3, I cycled three quarters of the remaining distance. On day 4, I cycled 10 miles. On day 5 I cycled two thirds of the remaining distance and on the final day I cycled the remaining 5 miles. How far is it to my uncle's house?

2) Find a common 12 letter english word containing three P's, two R's, two A's, one O, one E, one D, one T, and one other vowel.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Castles In Spain...

We have an expression building castles in the air used to describe something that is no more than illusory, or a futile flight of fancy. The French have a similar one that translates as building castles in Spain.

So thank you David for this optical illusion of a big Spanish castle.

BPI: "We will not sue you for filling your iPod with music you have bought yourself"...

This from the BPI (British Phonographic Industry):

UK record companies' trade association the BPI this morning (June 6) gave oral evidence to the House of Commons Select Committee for Culture, Media & Sport inquiry into New Media and the Creative Industries. Leading the BPI team was Chairman Peter Jamieson, accompanied by BPI General Counsel Roz Groome and Mark Richardson, Managing Director of BPI independent member Independiente, the label behind Travis and Embrace.

BPI reassures consumers: “We will not sue you for filling your iPod with music you have bought yourself"

BPI Chairman Peter Jamieson was quizzed on the fact that the “all rights reserved” nature of British copyright law means that – without specific authorisation – any UK consumer who rips CDs they have bought in order to fill an iPod or other MP3 player is currently guilty of copyright infringement. “Traditionally the recording industry has turned a blind eye to private copying and has used the strength of the law to pursue commercial pirates,” he said.

“We believe that we now need to make a clear and public distinction between copying for your own use and copying for dissemination to third parties and make it unequivocally clear to the consumer that if they copy their CDs for their own private use in order to move the music from format to format we will not pursue them.”

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Bellini and the East....

Last night David, Ian, Stu and I went to the Bellini and the East exhibition at the National Gallery.

It was a fascinating exhibition with images from the Muslim and Christian Eastern Mediterranean that were produced by the great Venetian sibling painters Gentile and Giovanni Bellini. Gentile Bellini spent over a year in Istanbul as the guest of Sultan Mehmet II where "it was widely known that they were friends".

It was a small exhibition but included Gentile Bellini's exquisite Seated Scribe.

Post-gallery we went to The Yard for a beer then Satsuma for eats. Ian, Stu and I then got a bit lost but found ourselves in the Kings Arms for a night-cap. The way you do.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Ban On Same-Sex Marriage Blocked...

The US Senate has blocked a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Ha!

Angus's 4th Birthday BBQ...

On Sunday Stuart and I went to my nephew Angus's 4th birthday party. Proud parents Simon and Dawn have a lovely house on the Hertfordshire / Cambridgeshire borders and we spent a lovely afternoon in the garden playing with the horses, the geese, the dogs, the chickens and the kids. Stuart braved it all very well and he actually seemed to enjoy meeting my family almost as much as they enjoyed meeting him. Well, why wouldn't they? He's a lovely guy. A potentially awkward hurdle successfully jumped. Sugar cubes and rosettes all round. 

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Gay = Lame = Rubbish...

BBC homophobia complaint rejected. The governors' programme complaints committee - which operates independently of the BBC - acknowledged Chris Moyles' description of a ringtone he did not like as "gay" could cause offence. But the use of the word "gay" to mean "lame" or "rubbish" was widespread among young people, it said.

Gallery Gang...

On Saturday Andy, Ian, Stu and I went to the Lisson Gallery to see Jane and Louise Wilson's The New Brutalists installation. And very fine is was too - if you like that sort of thing.

To be honest Tony Cragg's sculptures just up the road were a bit more fun.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Luca snd Stuart's Flat-Warming...

On Saturday we went to Stuart and Luca's flat-warming in Vauxhall. And what a lovely new home they have. We had a great time drinking and chatting and meeting new people. Top evening. Well done, boys!

Friday, June 02, 2006

LastMinute.Com Boss Key...

Do you remember the 'Boss Key'. It was a key that you hit while playing a computer game on your PC at work that brought up a pseudo work screen when the boss came round so he would realise you were wasting your time playing games rather than working.

Well, lastminute.com have resurrected the idea. Gawd bless 'em.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Tiger Lillies...

Last night Guy, Stuart and I went to see that veteran avant-garde London vaudeville trio the Tiger Lillies at the Soho Theatre. And what a great show it was.

Stand out of the trio was of course the white-paint faced, bowler hatted and ear-splitting falsetto voiced singer Martyn Jacques. He was a charismatic focus. But equally powerful were the saw twanging and drumming of the two Adrians - Stout and Huge (not their real names, surely).

Indeed it was the trio's consummate musicianship coupled with their own particular style of Brechtian cabaret that meant the night was as entertaining musically as it was shocking for it's content. You see the Tiger Lillies aren't exactly known for their soft choices of subject matter.

Every last damned taboo was tackled in song from paedophilia, cancer, mental illness through to rape, disease and disability. We sat open mouthed and then laughed and laughed and laughed.

We were treated to a rousing little ditty about cancer - called , unsurprisingly Cancer. A song about Aunty Mabel ("You could take her for a spin, leave her money in her disabled tin"). And songs like I’m Just a Whore, Kick a Baby Down the Stairs and the glorious Mummy ("Mummy. My mummy. My mummy’s in a mental home...").

There were moments of genuine emotion too such as My Tin Shack. Though even this was tinged with sadness. It was story about death.

They played for just over an hour but the time seemed to fly by even faster. But we left happy - with the refrain of many a tragic song ringing in our ears: "I’m a lonely schizophrenic, I feel I’ve been abused..." And the crowd displeasing "I killed my mother, I drank her blood. I killed my mother, up above. I raped my mother..." (some people walked out after this one!)

Sadly my favourite TL wasn't included, that Kiki and Herb standard, Banging in the Nails (but you can listen to that particular bit of blasphemy here).