Quote Of The Day

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

Friday, May 29, 2009

Why Did PSB's Yes *Not* Reach Number One?...

The Pet Shop Boys recent album Yes reached #4 in the UK album charts on March 29, 2009. This was the Pet Shop Boys' highest placing since their 1996 album Bilingual. All well and good. It's a great album and it deserved a high chart placing.

However early sales figures had predicted that the album would actually enter at #1, but a series of blunders by record label Parlophone rendered a number of sales ineligible for the chart. These included allowing 2,500 copies of the album to be bought digitally online three days before release date, as well as stock level problems with a number of suppliers, which affected sales and chart placement.

To add insult to injury Parlophone screwed up on some of the booklets that shipped with the Yes etc. double CD set - it had pages in the wrong order. EMI have set up a website for people affected by this to claim a new booklet. Which did work for me.

So PSB have been cheated out of a #1 album by their own record label. They should cause a pandemonium.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

It's A Crime...

Do you live in London and ever wondered what crime might be happening in your area? Well he's a map of notified crimes in London listing what type of crime is was, the crime rate and how it compares to the previous month.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sleep...

Here are my top ten tips on how to get a good night's sleep.

1. Bath - have warm bath before bed. It's the drop in body temperature that actually brings on sleep.
2. Bedroom - only use the bedroom for sleep. Go to bed and get up at the same each day.
3. Nap - it you want to and work allows it. But for an hour and between 2pm-5pm only.
4. Snoring - over the counter remedies can help. My preferred one is Breathe Right
5. Coffee / Alcohol - avoid both at least four hours before bedtime. Coffee is a stimulant so will keep you awake and alcohol may help you fall asleep but not to stay asleep.
6. Light - keep curtains drawn at night. A good way to wake up is to use blue light; it reduces melatonine (sleep) levels.
7. Food - simple rule: carbs make you sleepy, protein keep you more alert. Don't eat four hours before bed.
8. Jetlag - starve yourself on the flight so your normally dormant hunger clock dominates your body clock. Then eat at normal time to reset body clock. Job done.
9. Stress - tense and release the body muscles one group at a time helps you relax. It works for me and I can get to sleep within minutes.
10. Herbs - lavendar and valerian may help you relax. Use them in that bath I mentioned earlier.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sister Act...

On Friday night Andy, Kev, Stu and I went to see Sister Act at the Palladium in London's glitzy West End.

When disco diva Deloris Van Cartier witnesses a murder, she is put in protective custody in the one place cops are sure she won't be found - a convent. Disguised as a nun, she finds herself at odds with both the rigid lifestyle and an uptight Mother Superior. Using her unique disco moves and singing talent to inspire the choir, Deloris breathes new life into the church and community, but in doing so blows her cover. Soon the gang are giving chase, only to find themselves up against Deloris and the power of her new found Sister Hood.

Based on the smash-hit movie, Sister Act features a brand new score by eight time Oscar winner Alan Menken whose credits include Little Shop of Horrors, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid and my favourite The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

It was fab, camp as tits and full of glitter - mixing as it did classic styled show tunes with Motown style disco numbers. A winning combination. A real big girls night out. Go see.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Arsenal 4-1 Stoke...

Paul couldn't make it to the last game of the season so I took Sarah along. It was right old party atmosphere; marching, chanting, riot police, police vans, horses charging, high spirited scarf waving. The full works.

The boys did good too. A good game and a well deserved score line.

Roll on next season.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Hunt For Gollum...

You're a big fan of The Lord of the Rings books and films, right?

You have no more than £3000 to spare, right?

You'd think about making your own film, right?

Maybe set it between The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring?

Well, it's just what these guys did with The Hunt For Gollum.

Online only. By fans. For fans. And really pretty good.

London Audio Guide...

A reader writes:

Hi Jonathan,
I very much enjoy reading your blog. I have just launched a new website which I think your readers may be interested in. The site provides audio commentary on lots of London's top landmarks and is free to use - visitors use a map of London to pick sites and listen to tips, interesting facts and history. If you would like to check it out the site is at www.ComeAwayWithMe.co.uk/LondonAudioGuide
Kind regards,
Daniel


And very useful it looks too.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Angels & Demons...

On Sunday night Stu and I went to see Angels & Demons at the Vue in Islington.

There was lots of running around in Rome and pointing at statues. It was amazingly implausible. It was popcorn pap. And do you know what? We both really enjoyed it.

Roll on The Lost Symbol.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Star Trek (again)...

Andy treated Kev, Stu, me, Guy, Cesar, David, Ian et al to a night at the movies on Monday night. We went to see JJ Abrams's prequel Star Trek at the IMAX.

It was great to see it again, catching many of the nuances I'd missed at first viewing. Although as I said before:

The plot... fresh from Starfleet Academy, James T. Kirk, Spock, and the rest of the Enterprise crew must stop Nero, a Romulan from the future whose quest for vengeance threatens the entire universe.

Set phasers to... post-modern script, very funny (no really), painfully good-looking and deeply sexy cast, 1960s highly-colourised styling

For the fans... in-jokes aplenty, faithful to (but not constricted by) creator Gene Roddenberry's canon.

For the neo-fans... assumes no previous knowledge, looks a bit like Cloverfield meets Starship Troopers meets X-Files meets Batman TV series

Sequel?... two are due. Can't wait.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Is Zachary Quinto aka Sylar aka Spock Gay?...

A couple of years ago there was some spectulation (not least by this very organ) as to whether Zachary Quinto is gay or not.

I can't say one way or the other for definite but...

My mates Luca and Stuart met him in a gay bar in New York. And here's the evidence.

Also a few years back Zachary Quinto starred as Tori Spelling's gay best friend in So NoTORIous - out on DVD or you can download from iTunes.

The episodes that are perhaps of most interst are called Whole and Relaxed. The former is where Zachary Quinto character has a bit of man-on-man action in a sauna. He's a good actor, right?

You can see more pictures here.

Oh yes, apparently Chris Pine got the James T. Kirk gig on the new Star Trek film because he goes to the same gym as ZQ. Or as ZQ put it in a recent interview with a grin, "Chris and I met at the gym".

Monday, May 18, 2009

"Would you like some sweets, Willy?"...

Last Friday night David, Ian, Stu and I went to the Bloomsbury Ballroom to see Saint Etienne perform their 1991 album Foxbase Alpha live.

The Bloomsbury Ballroom is a rather lovely art deco venue which is just a perfect size for bands. Not too big, not too small. Now if only the bar hadn't run out of beer...

Saint Etienne were, as ever, quite brilliant. And Foxbase Alpha is, of course, a sublime debut recording. So we were, as you might imagine, pretty relieved that it was so faithfully reproduced for us on Friday - samples and all.

"Would you like some sweets, Willy? Would you like some sweets, Willy?"

"Come on, auntie, we'll miss the bus!"

Foxbase Alpha has been rereleased this week with some extra tracks and b-sides.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus...

Stuff Terminator Salvation and Star Trek, this is what true sci-fi movie buffs have been waiting for...Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus. Any film which shows a Mega Shark biting an airliner gets my vote. And it's got Debbie Gibson in it! Straight to DVD sadly.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pet Shop Boys - Did You See Me Coming?...

Pet Shop Boys release their new single Did You See Me Coming? on Parlophone Records on June 1st. It's probably my favourite track on the Yes album.

The formats of Did You See Me Coming? feature brand new tracks After The event, The Former Enfant Terrible and Up And Down which do not feature on the album.

There is also a new mix of album track The Way It Used To Be by Richard X. The Brits Medley, produced by Stuart Price, which was originally performed in February when Pet Shop Boys received the award for Outstanding Contribution to Music, is also released in one of the digital bundles due to popular demand.

The album Yes has been a top 5 hit across Europe, and has been released in the USA this week. USA Today in its review of the album says: “Pet Shop Boys ‘Yes’ just affirms their greatness”.

Pet Shop Boys kick off their world tour in Russia on June 10th. They play Manchester Apollo on June 18th and London’s O2 Arena on June 19th (we're deffo going to that one!). Both UK dates are sold out. They will be headlining Latitude festival on July 17th.

Tracklistings:

2-track CD
1."Did you see me coming?"
2."After the event"

Maxi CD
1."Did you see me coming?" (PSB 12" mix)
2."The former enfant terrible"
3."Up and down"

12" Vinyl
1."Did you see me coming?" (PSB 12" mix)
2."Did you see me coming?" (Unicorn Kid mix)
3."The way it used to be" (Richard X mix)

Digital bundle 1
1."Did you see me coming?"
2.Pet Shop Boys Brit Awards medley

Digital bundle 2
1."Did you see me coming?" (Unicorn Kid mix)
2."The way it used to be" (Richard X mix)

Digital bundle 3
1."Did you see me coming?" (PSB 12" mix)
2."The former enfant terrible" (Bring it on mix)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Arsenal 1-4 Chelsea...

Paul and I thought we'd mix things up a bit in the second half at the Emirates Stadium last Sunday (shame Wenger didn't do the same).

We swapped seats with a couple of people in block six - the REDAction über-fan area - to see what it was like. We loved it. Better view. Better atmos. Better tattoos. We'll see if the guys want to make it a permanent arrangement for next season.

In prep we'll be practising the chants.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Les Misérables...

On Saturday night Stu and I went to see the phenomenon that is Les Misérables at the Queen's Theatre in London's glitzy West End. We'd both seen Les Mis many times before but as it was our anniversary night out we thought we'd treat ourselves again.

When the show was at The Palace Theatre many years ago it had had a distinctly Gallic feel (hello? it is set in nineteenth century France), a cast of thousands (well, it seemed like it at the time) and rousing anthems sung by the ensemble throughout.

This time around it seemed an altogether smaller production; just twenty-eight in the cast, the accents were slightly more Plaidstow than Paris and the songs seem to have lost some of their shine as the chorus has dwindled. Still, we loved it and I found myself singing along to On My Own, Red and Black and of course the wonderful I Dreamed a Dream. Marvelous.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Tiger Lillies...

Last Friday night Stu and I popped into London's glitzy West End to the New Players Theatre to see the Tiger Lillies perform Songs of Shockheaded Peter and Other Gory Verses.

We'd seen The Tiger Lillies do a guest spot with Justin Bond last year and a full gig three years ago so we knew what to expect; the white-paint faced, bowler hatted and ear-splitting falsetto voiced singer Martyn Jacques with the saw-twanging and drumming of the two Adrians - Stout and Huge (not their real names, surely.)

The trio's consummate musicianship coupled with their own particular style of Brechtian cabaret 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.

Dr. Heinrich Hoffmann, a Frankfurt 'medical man of the lunatic asylum', wrote and illustrated The Struwwelpeter (Shockheaded Peter) more than 150 years ago because he couldn't find anything on the shelves to fire the imagination of (and terrify) his children. And he did a pretty good job too. Martyn Jacques wrote music to this and so was born Shockheaded Peter. It was this that was the core of the material played on Friday night.

A boy who sucked his thumbs had then cut off. A boy who forever gazed skyward fell down a river bank and drowned. A pig who learned to read was slaughtered. A girl of loose morals died of a nasty disease. Call them fables... call them morality tales... they made us laugh and laugh.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Star Trek...

Sparky treated me to a night at the movies last night. And not just any old movie. It was the rebooted, revisited, JJ Abrams's prequel Star Trek at the IMAX.

We both loved it.

The screening... as it was a preview the cinema was packed with geeks (many of them gay) who all duly switched off their iPhones at the last minute (mainly Facebook and Twitter we noticed)

The plot... fresh from Starfleet Academy, James T. Kirk, Spock, and the rest of the Enterprise crew must stop Nero, a Romulan from the future whose quest for vengeance threatens the entire universe.

Set phasers to... post-modern script, very funny (no really), painfully good-looking and deeply sexy cast, 1960s highly-colourised styling

For the fans... in-jokes aplenty, faithful to (but not constricted by) creator Gene Roddenberry's canon.

For the neo-fans... assumes no previous knowledge, looks a bit like Cloverfield meets Starship Troopers meets X-Files meets Batman TV series

Sequel... two are due. Can't wait.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Kenyan Arsenal Fan Hangs Himself...

Blimey. Kenyan Arsenal fan hangs himself.

Arsenal 1-3 Man Utd (agg 1-4)...

Paul and I had high hopes but low expectations as we made our way to the Emirates last night. Every seat had a flag on it that we waved madly. Sadly eleven minutes later it was all over. Still, we enjoyed it - even in defeat. You learn to do that supporting Arsenal. I took some snaps too.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

My First Dictionary...

A child's first dictionary spoof that introduces baby to a world comically full of sadness and woe. My first dictionary. Today's word is 'paste'. Fab.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Bourgeois and Maurice...

On Friday night Stu and I went to see alternative cabaret singer-songwriters Bourgeois and Maurice at the Soho Theatre in London's glitzy West End.

Stu really liked them. I, on the other hand, thought they were laboured and unfunny. The duo are obviously good musicians and they had some good ideas. They just need to be funnier. Their targets were way too broad and their wit, such as it was, utterly misfired. Perhaps they need a skilled director to focus their talents more keenly.

Snooze rating: 8 (I almost dropped off to sleep from boredom surrounded as I was by occasional luke warm applause)

Come back Kiki and Herb.

Friday, May 01, 2009

The Mummers...

Last night Paul treated Simon, Stu and I to a trip to see The Mummers perform at the ICA in London's glitzy West End.

The Mummers whe were there promoting their new, rather fabulous, reissued and reimagined album Tale to Tell. The previous incarnation being Tale to Tell (part one)

The blurb in Time Out says, "Dazzlingly accomplished headline spot from Brighton's orchestral pop outfit The Mummers, whose witty and sophisticated, showtune sounds recall Portishead, Björk, St Etienne, Goldfrapp and Lisa Minnelli and recently earned them a slot on 'Later With Jools Holland'." And I 100% agree. They were brilliant. Think Madonna's Dear Jessie or Prince's Christopher Tracy's Parade.