Quote Of The Day

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

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Reissue: Spelling be...


Is spelling important? I mean in the scheme of things. Is it really important?

The reason why I ask is because a) I hold my hands up and am the first to admit I'm rather bad at spelling myself and, b) certain people delight at pointing out my (and others') errors. They claim it provides essential clarity whereas I suspect it's smug oneupmanship. My evidence is that my bad spelling seems to bother them much more than it bothers me. Just why is that? Should I care more?

It's interesting that over the past few years my spelling has actually got a lot worse than it used to be. Spell-checker aside, I used to be rather good at it but these days I just can't give a toss. I tend to rattle off text at great speed (80 words a minute / 40 of them mistyped!) making many typos which more often than not aren't actual spelling mistakes in themselves. I simply hit a neighbouring key on the keyboard in my hurry to get my thoughts down on the screen and don't bother to watch what appears. I tend to shove my fingers in the general direction of the right key and hope for the best. Mavis Beacon be damned.

Now all this wouldn't matter too much if I actually proofread my work and corrected what I knew to be incorrect. The problem is I don't. If a spell-checker cares to pick it up fine, if not then I certainly can't be bothered to check it manually. Funnily enough I'm actually quite good at proofreading when I can be bothered. I generally know a spelling mistake when I see it - I actually used to do it as part of my job many moons ago. But I just don't think it matters anymore. Spelling just isn't important these days. Discuss.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Marc Almond Signs New Record Deal...


Press Release:

Marc Almond has signed a new 3 album recording deal with Sequel/Sanctuary records under which his new studio album, 'Stardom Road', will be the first release in late May 2007. This album is a collection of cover songs (although there is one original song, too) that embody all the diverse influences that have shaped much of Marc’s musical life. The songs represent many of the styles which Marc has been associated with over the years; from the Torch Song ballad, Chanson, the crooners of the 1950's, the 1960's grand orchestral sounds, the 'over the top' pop glam of the 70's and the electro style of the 80's that made him famous. The album is, above all else, a musical journey through Marc Almond's life as an artist, a personal glimpse into his inspirations, aspirations and conclusions. It is perhaps his most important album being the first release since his near fatal motorcycle crash in 2004, from which he has had to make a public and private recovery. The crash was, as such ordeals are for all victims of traffic accidents, life changing. For Marc, recovery has proven to be frustrating and difficult, in addition his confidence as a performer and ability as a singer severely impaired by his injuries. Recording this album has formed part of
the recovery process and thereby represents a turning point as an artist.

The album has been compiled with the help of Tris Penna, who in turn produced many of the tracks with the acclaimed producer Marius de Vries and arranger Mike Smith. It features guest spots from Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons, Jools Holland, who Marc often tours with and Sarah Cracknell from St Etienne. Marc is thrilled to be a part of Sanctuary and an addition to the many diverse and cutting edge artists who are already a part of the label.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal...


It was a thrilling Carling Cup Final at the Millennium Stadium yesterday. Our young lads (outfield average age 21 by the way) had a cracking first half. Theo Walcott scored his first goal for the first team and Chelsea didn't know which way to turn. Sadly after a lucky break they equalised. In the second half we continued to play strongly but sadly ran out of legs letting in a second goal and what turned out to be the winner. Bizarrely John Terry got knocked out and was stretchered off. And a massive brawl with players and managers involved saw three people sent off and two yellow cards in injury time. Then we had the six and a half hour coach journey back to London to look forward to. Never again!

Below are some snaps. There are more here. Including the Gooners taking over Torchwood.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Moving On...


Stuart is moving house today. Or more accurately, he's moving from sharing with Andy in Bethnal Green to buying a place of his own with Emma and Carolina in Bermondsey. Good luck in your new house, fella.

Carling Cup Final...


On Sunday Paul and I are going to the Carling Cup Final. Arsenal are playing Chelsea. We had to enter a lottery for the tickets as there are at present 43,000 season ticket holders and Arsenal received just 29,000 match tickets for the Final. Luckily we were sucessful. So we're leaving on a 'luxury' coach at 7am Sunday and returning God knows when the traffic jams permit. Should be a giggle though.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Köln Karneval: The Pictures...


Here are some of the pictures from Cologne. There are many more here.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Köln Karneval...


Lordy, lordy, where to begin?

Last Thursday night Stuart & I headed off to Cologne Carnival (Köln Karneval) for five nights and six days of fancy dress parties, parades and street drinking. Hence the lack of blogging. Apologies.

Our lovely, lovely hosts were Marc & Bernd - two of the nicest people you could hope to meet - who we had actually met in Ibiza in summer 2005 and again in 2006. They had very kindly invited over to stay in their apartment in Cologne and that Karneval was something really not to be missed. And boy were they right.

The first night we arrived we went more or less straight to the Iron bar - and immediately felt completely out of place because we were the only two NOT in fancy dress. A few dozen beers later we soon relaxed into it though. By the next night we were both in fun wigs and silly costumes. Karneval is like that. You get sucked in.

Not that we spent every waking moment in a bar. On Friday we met up with the gorgeous Hanko and he showed us round town.

Saturday was the grand costume ball. The theme was fairytale and we had king & knight costumes ready to go. We spent a lovely day getting ready at Axel's place watching in wonder as the Brother's Grimm stories were recreated before our eyes by Marc & Bernd's crowd of friends; Axel, Rene, Manfred, Thomas, Klaus, Stefan, and many others...

The party proper was no less special with 1500 or gayers dressed to the nines as the most incredible array of fairytale characters imaginable. One minute we were talking to the Three Little Pigs, the next to the Big Bad Wolf. It goes without saying buckets of beer were consumed as we danced the night away. Bravely we caught a tram home.

Sunday we had a sort of day off. Phew! A sauna and a movie and an early night.

Monday was the main parade through Cologne centre. We dressed as cowboys. Everybody else dressed as gorillas, clowns, rabbits, frogs, prisoners, sailors, farmers, pirates, gnomes and traditional dress. It was a right knees up with plenty of beer to be had and entertainment such as sweet throwing and the ubiquitous Karneval music. At one point Stu & I found ourselves in Chains surrounded by crowds of leather queens and clowns. I'm not sure which was scarier. We rounded the night off with a bit of a heart to heart, being chased around by a geologist (no, really) and a bop and a boogie at Iron again. Great fun.

Tuesday, after fond farewells, we headed home to the UK. Not least to give our livers a well earned rest.

What a great holiday. Thanks to all who made it so.

Pics to follow...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Little Shop Of Horrors...


Last night Stu and I went to see Little Shop Of Horrors at the Chocolate Factory in Southwark Street. And what a fun show it was.

I've always loved the Little Shop Of Horrors musical and Frank Oz's 1986 cult classic film version was sublime. Little Shop actually has it's origins in the late 50's as a sci-fi B-movie starring new-comer Jack Nicholson. Rather like Rocky Horror Show and Return To Forbidden Planet before it it provided an ideal bit of campery to set to music. Done so rather wonderfully by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken. Their songs are indeed both memorable and loveable. In fact when Paul and I went to go and see Ellen Greene in concert she confided that the songs Suddenly Semour and Somewhere That's Green as being two of her best friends.

The show last night captured all the fun of the original staging, much of the quirkiness of the musical film and stubbonly resisted to tack on the happy Hollywood ending. Hurrah. Lead player Paul Keating was energetic, bouncy and pitched the nerdy but easily tempted Semour just right. (I've always had him down as John Barrowman Junior). The very talented Sheridan Smith as Audrey was just the right mix of vunerable, dizzy and sexy. And Mike McShane's voicing of the plant was also suitably menacing.

That said, Audrey II was of course the star of the show. Growing and growing with each bloody bite the movements were spot on and we were all happily suspending our disbelief beyond the finale.

So with a night of great acting, great singing, great dancing, plenty of laughs and a production which was beautifully designed and perfectly executed there was little to fault. The transfer to the West End is bound to be a smash. And deservedly so.

Bolton 1-3 Arsenal (aet)...


Bang goes the Bolton bogey.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Microsoft Xbox 360 HD DVD player...


Yesterday I got myself a Xbox 360 HD DVD player. It's a little add-on drive that comes with a remote control and a free HD DVD of King Kong. It just plugs in and away it goes. The content looks great and at £130 is an absolute bargain.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Arsenal 2-1 Wigan...


I took Ben to the Emirates Stadium yesterday for a thrilling match. Dodgy ref decisions throughout, a confetti of yellow cards and a slew of missed chances - but it all came together in the last 10 minutes for the Gunners. Fab.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Medical Corner: Why Is It Impossible To Sneeze With Your Eyes Open?...


The medical term for a sneeze is the “sternutatory reflex”. Almost all animals sneeze. A sneeze helps clear the nose and sinus regions while injecting oxygen into the cells of the body. A sniff does much the same thing. Nevertheless, a sneeze is a very complicated body action. Technically, a sneeze is produced when an irritant contacts the nasal mucosa, which in turn stimulates the trigeminal nerve, which in turn stimulates the pons and medullai of the brain, which in turn sets off additional nerve reactions, and so on. During a sneeze, tremendous stress is placed on the body. Considerable air pressure is place upon the eyes. This pressure is not enough to pop your eyes out of your head or even make them bulge out, but enough to make your eyes feel uncomfortable from the added pressure. We close our eyes when we sneeze in order to keep the eyes from “extruding”.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Medical Corner: Why Do We Open Our Mouths To Yawn Properly?...


The involuntary act of yawning usually includes opening the mouth very wide while slowly taking in a deep breath. This contortion of the mouth puts pressure on the salivary glands causing the eyes to sometimes tear-up, causes the throat to better open, and tightens the muscles around the mouth making sure the yawn is better accomplished.

Brain Teaser Answers...


1. 21:00

2. Not in your right mind.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Brain Teasers...


1. If it were two hours later, it would be half as long until midnight as it would be if it were an hour later. What time is it?

2. What is represented by these letters?
MIND MINOTND

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Mika...


The lovely Chig came to stay last night. He kindly invited me to go see Mika's showcase / Life In Cartoon Motion album launch in a marquee in Berkeley Square. It was a mad circus. With free booze.

We were greeted by a giant green apparition on stilts. And a giant pink fuchsia too. There were bearded ladies, acrobats, magicians and musicians. Pop corn, candy floss and toffee apples. Great fun.



We were standing next to The Feeling. Oh and that guy from The Feeling's girlfriend... Sophie Ellis-Bextor. It was Murder on the Dance Floor, I can tell you.

As for Mika himself, if you like the Scissor Sisters then you're pretty much guaranteed to like this boy and his impressive vocal range. He's tall, good looking, sports colourful trousers, has big hair and seems to be channelling the voice of Freddie Mercury.

Naturally his number one Grace Kelly went down a storm. His other songs are about fat girls, gay affairs, and lollipops. In fact his encore was called Lollipop - which wouldn't seem out of place if sung by Gwen Stefani.

His songs are absurdly catchy though - perhaps unsurprisingly he wrote the Orbit chewing gum jingle. For 45 quid.

Chig took loads of photos but you can see my measly collection here.

Afterwards we popped into Bar Code for one. Or two. The way you do.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Dreamgirls...


Stu took me to see Dreamgirls on Friday night. We'd been looking forward to seeing it for some time - what with Stu really being into his girl groups, soul singers and Motown. So we had high expectations. Despite the rather tepid reviews.

I'd bought Stu the deluxe version of the soundtrack from the States a few weeks back so we knew exactly what to expect from the songs. The film itself however was just 'OK'. The acting wasn't brilliant (except perhaps Jennifer Hudson). The production values were a tad inconsistent. It looked good most of the time: well, the hair, make-up and costumes looked good atg the time but much of the scenery was drab and uninspiring. The musical numbers were staged well but we'd expect more than 'well', wouldn't we?... we'd expect 'exceptional'.

Musicals can only really work if you believe that the actors are so bubbling full of emotion that the only way they can express themselves is to sing. Sadly neither Beyonce Knowles nor Jamie Foxx seemed to possess such inner theatre. Eddie Murphy did at times. But it was only Jennifer Hudson who you really believed. She could equally well dance, act and belt out a show stopper putting all the others to shame.

No doubt we'll get the DVD when it comes out to get some insight as to what was really going on set.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Billy Elliot...


Stu and I went to see Billy Elliot The Musical last night at the Victoria Palace Palace in London's glitzy West End.

Hugely enjoyable. Funny and uplifting. It was basically... fab! Go see, go see, go see.

Arsenal 3-1 Tottenham (agg 5-3)...


Yay! Cardiff here we come!