Quote Of The Day

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

Thursday, June 28, 2007

When Smokey Sings...
Last night Stu and I went to see Motown legend Smokey Robinson perform at the Royal Albert Hall.

Smokey Robinson has had a long and impressive career in music; in at the ground floor when Motown started and it's vice-president for 27 years until 1988.

Smokey wrote many of the Motown hits including; Mary Wells "My Guy", The Temptations' "The Way You Do the Things You Do", "My Girl", "Since I Lost My Baby", and "Get Ready". He also wrote for the Four Tops, The Marvelettes, Brenda Holloway, Marvin Gaye, and The Contours.

So it was with some trepidation that we went to see him. Had he still got it at the age of 67? Was his voice still up to a big show? Could we even remember more than a few of his own hits?(!)

Well, I have to say we were a little disappointed. His voice was as light as ever. Lighter even. At times he was barely audible. And he had had a hell of a lot of work done so his face barely moved. As Stu said 'David Gest meets Tom Jones'. And some of his choice of songs was perhaps a little poor (did we really need a twenty minute crowd participation version of Cruisin' as an encore?)

But having said all of that it was good to see him. He did many of his classics ("Tears of a Clown" and "Tracks of My Tears" to rapturous applause) and a few nice jazz covers from his new album such as "Night and Day". But I think we'll have to file this particular performer as 'good he's still going... but past his prime'.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Pop Quiz...

Davie, David, Ian and I went to the Retro Bar Pop Quiz last night. It was six years since we had all been there before as a team and we actually did rather well. Questions below (and answers later). 

 This weeks pop quiz all started with the letter P. Well, most of it did. 

 Peter Round 01. 
A. Which Peter covered Bowie's "Oh You Pretty Things"? 
B. Which Peter sang "Homosapien"? 
C. Which Peter sang "Where do you go to my lovely"? 

1970s Round 
02. Which P sang "Because The Night"? 
03. Which P sang "Public Image"? 
04. Which P sang "Ca Plane Pour Moi"? 
05. What was the year that the previous three tracks were released in the UK? 

Prince Round 
06. Name these three Prince tracks: "_ Go _", "_ Off" & "Pop _" 

1980s Round 
07. Which P had a hit with "Automatic"? 
08. Which P had a hit with "Love Is A Battlefield"? 
09. Which P had a hit with "Dr Mabuse (Das Last Testament)"? 
10. What was the year that the previous three tracks were released in the UK? 

Pulp Round 
11. Name these three Pulp tracks: "_abies", "_ _ _ _ first time" & "_ Changed"? 

1990s Round 
12. Which P had a hit with Nancy Boy? 
13. Which P had a hit with Debaser? 
14. Which P had a hit with "History Repeating"? 
15. What was the year that the previous three tracks were released in the UK? 

What happened next Round 
16. What are the next 10 words in the lyric of Downtown by Petula Clark after "The lights are much brighter there;..."? Noughties Round 
17. Which P had a hit with "Let's Get This Party Started"? 
18. Which P had a hit with "Miss Lucifer"? 
19. Which P had a hit with "Get It Off"? 
20. What was the year that the previous three tracks were released in the UK? 

 We came 2nd BTW with 18 points. The winners got 19 and won the £29 prize.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Family Gathering...

Last Saturday 70 or so of my family got together for a family gathering. It was so nice to see everyone - some of whom I'd not seen in 20 years or more.

My cousin Jane had organised it all in the Chipperfield Church Hall (where my parents had got married 50 years previously). We were all to chip in a fiver for the booze and bring a plate of food. It turned out brilliantly and we all had a great laugh. Here's to the next one!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Drink to me only with thine eyes...
It was an fairly liquid weekend for Stu and me. My family get together on Saturday afternoon started at about noon and we finally quit Bar Code Vauxhall at about 4am the next morning. Taking in Duckie en route. Drinking all the way.

And then Sunday we had a lovely lunch at Judith and Gavin's new pad before heading down to Horse Meat Disco. And naturally the alcohol flowed freely throughout the day.

So I'm looking forward to a nice quiet sober week ahead. As if.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Spice Girls Reunite...
Thierry Henry Signs to Barcelona...
Airplane crashed into the Empire State Building...
Did you know an airplane flew into the Empire State Building? Something we learnt do our trip there last week was that back in July 28 1945 in dense fog an Army Air Corps B-25 crashed into the Building at the 79th floor level. Fourteen people died. Damage to the Building cost $1 million to repair but the structural integrity of the building wasn't affected. Great picture here and more details here.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Real-time Flickr...

If you fancy seeing a world map with every photo popping up as it's uploaded to Flickr try FlickrVision. Quite mesmerising.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Long Weekend...

It's been a fun few days. People to stay, things to celebrate and stuff to do. On Thursday Marc and Bernd our friends from Cologne came to stay for weekend and it was great to host them. That evening we went out to celebrate my job promotion up and down the strip and got completely wasted. Hurrah!

Friday was a quiet day for me (spent descaling the washing machine and dishwasher if you must know) but by the evening we were ready for more fun so we all went out for drinks and supper in Soho. By Saturday afternoon we had recovered enough to make it to drinks at the OXO tower to celebrate Rod and Frank's commitment ceremony. A very lavish do and lots of fun. In the evening we went to Duckie with the boys to see the The Cholmondeleys & The Featherstonehaughs with music from Yum Yum Band. Weird, funny and compelling. Great fun. By Sunday we were beginning to flag but girding our loins we headed off on an East End escapade - Columbia Road flower market, Brick Lane, brief tour of the environs and then down to Southwark Park to the Cuban festival before heading back to the river for beers. All great fun. But by the evening we were pooped. Not that that stopped us doing cheap drinks last night mind you.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Dr Who at Gay Pride...

Concerns that this month's Gay Pride festival on Saturday 30th June might lose out because it clashes with the season finale of Doctor Who have led organisers to show the sci-fi favourite on giant screens in Trafalgar Square. Fun starts at 3pm. Dr Who starts at 7:10pm.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Microsoft's New Incredible Graphics Apps...

Back in March Microsoft ran a demo of their new digital photo app called Seadragon and coupled with Photosynth it is really quite amazing. You can dynamically browse gigabyte after gigabyte of online photos with the flick of a wrist. A one point during the demo the guy loads every page of Dickens's Bleak House onto his display, then zooms in on a single chapter. And a single paragraph. And a single word. He also creates a 3D image of Trafalgar Square from simple photos. Amazing.
Brain teaser answer...

Distance = speed x time

Average speed over = s1 = 696
Average speed back = s2 = 145

So if time over is t1 and time back is t2 then distance = s1 x t1 = s2 x t2

Total average speed = (2 x distance)/(t1 +t2) = (2 x s2 x t2)/(t1 + t2) = (2 x s2)/(t1/t2 + 1) = (2 x s2)/(s2 / s1 + 1) = (2 x s2 x s1)/(s2 + s1) = (2 x 145 x 696)/(145 + 696) = 240

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Brain teaser...
A plane maintains an average speed of 696mph from London to New York. It then returns from New York to London at an average speed of 145mph. What is the average speed for the entire journey?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Back in the Saddle...

Good to be back in the saddle. Did I say saddle? I meant harness - 1758 unread emails. Yikes!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Notes from New York...
Smooth flight / US Customs easy / Big Yellow Taxi / Stu's first view of Manhattan skyline / Chelsea Hotel eccentric / Barracuda packed / been awake 24 hours

The Dish / 8th avenue walk / Christopher St / Pier 45 / Washington Square / Open air jazz / Rawhide / jetlag / 6pm bed

The Dish / Queens' Gay Pride parade / Jackson Heights / Ugly Betty come alive / still lagged / 7:30pm bed

Raining so shopping / Century 21 / Macy's / Times Square / Virgin Megastore / FAO Schwartz / Abercrombie & Fitch (given resale warning!) / Woof! @ The View

The Dish / Uptown bus tour (Kiki) / Harlem / Downtown bus tour (Stanley) / Hairspray on Broadway (fab) / Rawhide

The Dish / Brooklyn bus tour (Stanley again) / Abercrombie & Fitch (so much for their warning!) / Brooklyn Bridge walk / DUMBO & bar

The Viceroy / B & H / Rockerfeller Center observation deck / Grand Central Terminal / train to Connecticut (New Cannan) to see Emma / Southwalk marina for sunset / got v drunk / dancing in tapas restaurant / last train home / Stu falls off the train platform injures his leg / we give false name to guard who thinks we might sue

Advil to the rescue / All-day Doctor Who marathon in bed / New York Strip house (best steak ever) / Rawhide

Circle Line boat cruise / Statue of Liberty / Central Park walking / Strawberry Fields / Metropolitan Museum of Art / Observation deck / Armoury / The Ring / The Dish / Bar crawl (Gym, Splash, Gym, Rawhide, The View, Gym)

Coney Island / Check-in / Dinner at The Dish / Gym / Rawhide / Barracuda

Pack / Shopping / Limo to JFK / Four hours on tarmac waiting for storm to pass

Finally landed and (surprise, surprise) Heathrow Express is suspended / Home and catch up with missed Dr Who

Thursday, June 07, 2007

God, I hate the Heathrow Express...
We had left for the airport in plenty of time - what with my nerves at flying - and decided the quickest route was to take the Heathrow Express direct from Paddington to Heathrow. Big mistake.

And it's not like we hadn't been stung by that particular poor excuse for a 'service' before. Last year we'd been caught out by their crappy time-keeping and almost missed our plane.

It's not just the lateness of the Heathrow Express trains I object to ('15 minute journey time'? - really?) it's also the fact that you've been fleeced (59 quid steerage return for us both - ouch!) and the lack of meaningful announcements ("we'll be moving soon, folks" - why not tell us how to get to the ruddy airport quicker? Grrrrr.)

So here we were again - sitting at Paddington Station on an 'express' that was going no where. Just stopped like a chip waiting for vinegar.

And when we did start moving it was slower than walking pace. We may have already checked-in online for our flight but what good was that when we were on a train that crawled a few feet, stopped and crawled some more? A train we couldn't get off I might add.

We got more and more angry as a journey
that should have been taken us a mere quarter of an hour stretched ahead of us like a chasm.

We cursed Heathrow Express as we looked out of the train window realising we had missed the deadline for the last bag-drop for our luggage. So we would have no clothes in New York. Great. But wait, could we stuff what clothes we could into our ruck sacks and throw the rest and our suitcases away? Maybe. Our minds were racing. What could be afford to jettison? That's if we made the flight at all.

This was a nightmare. Not the way we had planned to start our holiday together.

Eventually we arrived. The quarter of an hour journey had turned into an hour and twenty minutes.

We ran from the train to the airport entrance.

Have you ever tried running through an airport? I'd not recommend it. They are big places. And suitcases are heavy things to lug. And when you're in a bnd rush you narrowly miss every lift as the doors close in front of you. And the escalators are all packed. And dazed and confused passengers are trying to find their check-in desks - blocking you at every turn. And security guards hands instinctively reach down to check their guns as they catch you out of the corner of their beady eyes running. No, I'd really not recommend it.

So did we make our flight?

Yes, we did. Thank God for British Airways. "Don't worry, sir, we'll get you on your flight. We'll take your bags to the plane by hand. And here's a Fast Track sticker. Just walk to the front of every queue." So we did. We ran actually. Straight through security. Straight to our gate. And straight onto our plane. Phew!

We were on our way. No thanks to bloody Heathrow Express.

Friday, June 01, 2007

We're Leaving Today...

Our New York flight isn't until 6pm this evening so it's going to be a long day today all told. And of course I've got the whole day to get myself worked up about the flight. Maybe a "small sweet sherry" around lunchtime will calm my nerves.

I wonder what films they'll have on the flight to distract me? Oh blimey, I just checked: Ghost Rider, Shooter, The Number 23, Factory Girl, Music and Lyrics, Miss Potter, The Last Time, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Bridge to Terabithia and National Treasure. Not much of interest there.

But what to pack? We're going for ten nights so maybe if I take enough for say five nights and then that'll force me to do a bit of shopping. Century 21 here we come.

Anyways, as I'm going to be away for a while I may not be blogging (not sure yet) - so if you don't hear from me I hope you're all having fun.