Quote Of The Day

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

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Sporty Blow-job?...

The London Olympics logo - is it just me of does it look like Lisa Simpson administering a sporty blow-job?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Peter Gabriel @ The O2...

On Saturday night Paul, Simon and I went to see Peter Gabriel perform at The O2 Arena in London's glitzy Greenwich peninsula. My word it was a good night. And The Guardian agrees.

The show was the New Blood Tour 2010 promoting his recent Scratch My Back covers album. The first half was this new album with each track back to back and the second half was all the hits and more (the 'more' being a full orchestra.)

The light show was, as you might expect from the master of the visual, rather special too.

The set list was:

First Half
Sledgehammer (orchestra intro)
The Boy In The Bubble
Listening Wind
The Power Of The Heart
My Body Is A Cage
The Book Of Love
I Think It's Going To Rain Today
Apres Moi
Street Spirit (Fade Out)

Second Half
San Jacinto
Digging In The Dirt
Downside Up
Signal To Noise
Mercy Street
The Rhythm Of The Heat
The Drop
Solsbury Hill

In Your Eyes
Don't Give Up
The Nest That Sailed The Sky

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Little Dog Laughed...

Last night Stu, Darren, Duncan and I went to see The Little Dog Laughed at the Garrick Theatre in London's glitzy West End.

The play is a comedy and tells the story of an agent who plans to buy a successful Broadway gay play, make it into a film but betray the scriptwriter and give the piece a happy heterosexual ending. She firmly believes its box office chances will be ruined if the actor she has in mind for the main role reveals that he is indeed gay. But the plans start to go ary when the closeted actor falls for a rent-boy - much to annoyance of the former's agent and latter's girlfriend.

As the play progresses we wonder if we might actually be watching the very film script the agent has always secretly been planning.

Tamsin Greig plays the manipulating agent perfectly. Rupert Friend and Harry Lloyd ensure that the love story ot the play's heart doesn't get too lame, while former Bond girl Gemma Arterton turns in a standout performance as the 'Jilted Joan'.

We really enjoyed it.

They're Justified and They're Ancient and They Like to Roam the Land...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lost Camera...

These are the photos this guy always keeps on his digital camera in case he loses it. That way, whoever finds the camera and looks through the stored photos gets a nice little story with instructions on how to return it to the owner.

Nice idea, huh?


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sometimes I Disgust Even Myself...

I did something so disgusting eight years ago it's only recently I can even bring myself to talk about it. It was so vile, so yucky, so out of character and so outrageous that my then partner Marky almost disowned me on the spot. He was so embarrassed he wouldn't even walk with me on the way home from the incident. I will never, ever, ever be able to go there again. And I'm truly ashamed. I'm blushing even now. OK, I was more than a little drunk. But that's no excuse. No. Really. It isn't.

So what did I do?

Well, we were on our way home from the pub and feeling a bit peckish popped into a kebab house (name withheld) on St Paul's Road for some take-home grub. We got to the front of the queue, placed our order and stepped to one side to let the people behind us get served. So far so good.

Waiting for the food to be ready I rather absent-mindedly wandered over to the mirrored wall opposite the counter. I paused for a moment and then peered more closely studying my face in the mirror. OK, now here's the awful bit... I then reached my hands up to my face and between my thumb tips squeezed a particularly large spot that was all white and ripe for bursting. The entire shop watched as a fountain of white pus spurted all over the mirror in front of me. Seemingly satisfied with this facial fungus evacuation I took one last look in the mirror before turning back round to face the counter. I must has missed the looks of horror on the faces of the other occupants of the shop. A heartbeat later one of the assistants reached down below the counter and withdrew some disinfectant spray and a cloth. He lifted the wooden counter flap, stepped forward and wiped all the mess I'd made off the mirror without saying a word. To my shame I didn't say anything either. I didn't even apologise. I just waited at the counter for our kebabs. By the time we left with our food it was perhaps gradually dawning on me that something might have been up. Yes, Marky had seemed particularly agitated since I'd stepped back from the mirror. And, yes, I think people might have been staring at me. But at the time I didn't fully realise the cause of either Marky's agitation or indeed that those stares were ones of utter disgust and loathing.

Once outside Marky erupted in a fountain of his own. He was livid.

Needless to say, however hungry I've been, I've never had the courage to darken that particular kebab house's door again.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Large Hardon Collider...

Good old telegraph.co.uk

Muscle March...

Category: Action
Players: 1-4
Age rating: 3
Publisher: NAMCO BANDAI Games Europe
Release date: 19/03/2010
Wii Points: 500
Game language: English

Muscle March is the first WiiWare title to offer a polar bear in Speedos.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Charlie Brooker on News Reports...

A good deconstruction by Charlie Brooker on how news reports are put together - might temporarily put you off watching the news as you'll just be spotting the format points for a bit.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Power of Understatement...

"It is never very difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine."
[P. G. Wodehouse]

Friday, March 19, 2010


Last night Paul treated me to Satyagraha at the ENO. It was brilliantly hypnotic. Jaw-droppingly wonderful. In has to be in the top ten best things I've seen on stage. Ever.

The opera is in three acts for orchestra, chorus and soloists. It was composed by Philip Glass, with a libretto by Glass and Constance de Jong. It's loosely based on the life of Mohandas Gandhi. The term satyagraha is the philosophy and practice of nonviolent resistance developed by Gandhi himself.

Act I. Tolstoy
On the Kuru Field of Justice
Tolstoy Farm (1910)
The Vow (1906)

Act II. Tagore
Confrontation and Rescue (1896)
Indian Opinion (1906)
Protest (1908)

Act III. King
New Castle March (1913)

Philip Glass's music is simply glorious: those repetitive patternings shifting and shining with ingenious rhythmic and melodic ideas, interlocking, overlapping, yet ever calm. But it was the staging that made the night so wonderful. So enchanting.

The director of the piece was Phelim McDermott (Shockheaded Peter) and Julian Crouch is the assistant director and set designer. Boy, they did an amazing job.

All three acts take place within an arc-like wall of curving corrugated iron. Within the slow waves of music and human movement, an ensemble of acrobats and puppeteers conjure miracle after miracle. Newsprint looms large: there is a ubiquitous whispering of newspaper as sheets are shifted, read (the founding of Indian Opinion was central to Gandhi’s work) — and then, almost imperceptibly, formed into gigantic papier-mâché puppet-figures of gods, beasts and politicians.

High in the iron wall, windows disclose the three iconic figures who watch over the three acts: Tolstoy, Tagore and Martin Luther King.

The beauty of the sung Sanskrit is bewitching: sober sepia projections of key passages replace supertitles; but verbal comprehension isn’t really the point. Although it would be inappropriate to single out individual performances in a work that has so little to do with conventional operatic glory, Alan Oke’s central performance as Gandhi is a masterpiece of compelling clarity and absorption.

As the last act unfolds, the great wall buckles and disintegrates, leaving a miming silhouette of the preaching King high on his plinth, and the diminutive figure of Gandhi below, singing a simple rising scale — no fewer than thirty times.

Stand out moments of the night for me were:
- the amazing floating coat hangers and the equally amazing floating lights lifted up high
- the weaving and crumpling up of a huge web of sellotape to produce at first a barrier, then a giant puppet man then an image of Gandhi himself
- the long newspaper streams across the stage that became first a barrier, then wings for Gandhi and then again sky high banners for projecting words all in one fluid motion.

Image after image is etched indelibly on the memory, in its masterly fusion of the aural and the visual. Go see.

What is hard and seven inches long?...

My pen is.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I Love You Phillip Morris...

Last night Stu and I went to I Love You Phillip Morris. I'd been dying to see this film since I first heard about it and it's trouble in gaining a cinema release.

The film is a comedy-drama film based on the real life events of gay con artist, impostor, and multiple prison escapee Steven Jay Russell and his love for prison cell mate Phillip Morris. And it certainly was an unusual film. An unbelievably twisted story that can only be based on real events. Quite sweet in parts and rather explicit in others.

In fact four people walked out. The frequent blow jobs they were fine with. I don't think they liked Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor kissing each other. To some, a kiss is far more threatening than a blow job.

If you fancy a diverting trip to the cinema give it a whirl!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Whom The Gods Would Destroy...

'Tis a tough day at the grindstone today. Things generally 'work' or can be 'fixed'. People on the other hand 'don't' or 'can't'. People are cunts. Still, firm hand on the tiller today and full steam ahead. I shall come through this with my sanity intact. Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

10 types of people...

There are only 10 types of people in the world. Those who understand ternary, those who don't and those who mistake it for binary.

Monday, March 15, 2010

In Praise of the Sci-fi Corridor...

There's a moment in every geek's life when one goes for the 'communal hug' on a pet-subject and finds oneself unexpectedly out in the cold. The piano player stops playing. The landlord shakes his head as his eyes head heavenward, and he slinks away to rearrange the crisps. The lonely sound of a misdirected dart is all that haunts the otherwise silent pub. And it's definitely time to get your anorak. "You like what...?"

Corridors in science-fiction movies.
This guy loves them.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Put A Donk On It (signed)...

I love the way the BSL signer gamely enters into the spirit of this frankly ludicrous song. "Big fish, little fish, cardboard box" indeed.

Doctor Who...

The first three episodes of the new Doctor Who have been confirmed as:

The Eleventh Hour, written by Steven Moffat
The Beast Below, also by Steven Moffat
Victory of the Daleks by Mark Gatiss

They will be shown from Easter Saturday.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Carol Vorderman - Swearing!...

The Genius Of Wenger...

Almunia - 2.5mil
Sagna - 6mil
Campbell - free
Vermaelen - 10mil
Clichy - 0.25mil
Song - 1 mil
Diaby - 2mil
Nasri - 12mil
Rosicky - 6.8 mil
Arshavin - 15mil
Bendtner - 0.2mil
Fabianski - 2mil
Eduardo - 7.5mil
Walcott - 9.1mil
Denilson - 3.4mil
Silvestre - 0.75mil
Eboue - 1mil
Traore - 0.25mil
Total cost: £79.75 mil

In the time since we bought these players we have made £140mil in transfers out. Also the average Chelski team (e.g. team fielded against us in November) cost £280mil - check transferleague.co.uk

Wenger is a transfer GENIUS.

Windows 3.1 in JavaScript

Clever reconstruction of Windows 3.1 http://www.michaelv.org.nyud.net/

Monday, March 08, 2010

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Jordan, UK: Day Twelve...

I barely slept our last night in Amman - excitement about going home, a strange door banging most of the night and a more than vague fear for the upcoming fight. The Marriott made up breakfast boxes for us as were leaving early and the transfer to the airport was easy. The flight was relatively calm (clear skies all the way) but I came down with a different kind of bump - on landing I got a call from the head office on my moby. Problems at work. So after dropping my stuff off at home I spent four hours in a freezing cold comms room trying to identify a dodgy cable connection. Not the best end to a lovely holiday to be honest.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Jordan: Day Eleven...

Another early start for us and we were off touring some of thousand year old castles and forts as we made our way up (or should I say down) to the Dead Sea. Four hundred metres below sea level we had finally descended to the lowest place on earth.

Once in the water we tried to swim but just ended up floating. I'd never really quite believed all those pictures of people floating but it's really true. You just bounce up to the surface. We naturally did the newspaper reading too. We even had a mud bath.

Having washed all (most?) of the mud and salt from ourselves we then drove up to Amman where we were to spend our last night before flying back home to the UK.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Jordan: Day Ten...

Up early, we made our way down the valley slopes to the ancient ‘hidden’ city of Petra. Josef dropped us off at the entrance and we engaged a guide, Ali. It was an incredible day with one wow after the other. It started off with us both horse-riding down to the narrow crack in the mountains known as the Siq. This then lead to a deep path winding down through the solid rock for a mile to reveal the truly amazing pink Treasury building carved out of the mountainside. It was crawling with tourists of course but we still managed to get some good photographs. It’s used in the final scene of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and it just gave you a pink glow being anywhere near it.

Further down the valley we saw an entire city carved out of the valley walls – all in brilliantly red sandstone, We saw magnificent Royal Tombs, an amphitheatre, temples and then climbed up 800 steps to the top of a further mountain to see another edifice carved out of the mountainside known as the Monastery. All quite incredible.

If you ever get a chance to come here, do.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Egypt, Israel and Jordan: Day Nine...

We were up at the crack of dawn in our Dahab hotel really and packed for our next adventure. This time it was to be three countries in one day: Egypt to Israel, twenty minutes or so crossing through Eilat and then on to Jordan. At the numerous checkpoints en route we pretended to be Australians – the Egyptian police were still a bit sore after the previous night’s drumming at footie.

The first guide we had for the day was Ahmed. He spend much of his time enlightening us on the virtues (pun intended) of a virgin bride and indeed the benefits of multiple wives.

Our transfer through Israel was efficient and quick. A rather lovely Scottish lady made it all very easy for us. Gosh, there was a lot of paper work to fill in though.

Once in Jordan a nice man called Josef collected us. We stopped off at a bureau de change to swap our Egyptian pounds into Jordan Dinars and at a pharmacy to pick up so antibiotics for Stu (he had picked up a tummy bug in Dahab.)

Then we drove to the rather magnificent mountainous Wadi Rum (a few hours inland) for a Bedouin lunch and a jeep safari into the neighbouring desert. The driver was a Bedouin guy and his son. We stopped off to take some tea with the guy’s extended family and then on to listen to some Bedouin music at a neighbouring tent. All very interesting and it was funny how all the kids gathered round us to point and laugh. They thought Stu and I were brothers at first and seem fascinated by our cropped hair and blue eyes.

The safari over we hopped back in the car and drove for a couple of hours on up to Petra to check into the Marriott hotel.

Egyptian Reggae - Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers...


Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Egypt: Day Eight...

Strange day this one. It didn’t start well. We got up and had a shower. Unfortunately we were both electrocuted in the shower. Ouch! 220 volts doesn’t really set you up well for the day. We think the extractor fan had a loose cable and touching the tap, the back wall or the shower shelf gave us a really vicious belt.

We complained – nicely - and were swapped (and upgraded) to a deluxe room. First thing we did was check the shower in the new room for electric shocks.
After breakfast Sami picked us up and took us to the famous diving location the Blue Hole. Here we picked up some masks and flippers and did some snorkelling. The coral shelf was pretty spectacular although not quite as good as that off the coast of Jeddah on the other side of the Red Sea.

Unfortunately it wasn’t my lucky day as I got a rather nasty gash from the coral that didn’t seem to want to stop bleeding. We had a bite to eat at a restaurant just off the beach where an Australian woman noticed by bleeding leg and produced an alcoholic spray, some brown antiseptic and a Band Aid. It rather put Sami’s neat lemon juice remedy to shame – both were much appreciated though.

We wanted to head back to the hotel to chill out after lunch but Sami was getting rather persistent with his suggestions of things to do. We had to be firm and say, “Take us back to the hotel.” He meant well, bless him, but we weren’t really getting through to him that we wanted some time alone.

Once we did get back to the hotel we checked out our new upgraded room, lounged around on oversized sun-loungers and swam in the infinity swimming pool. We even found a Jacuzzi, a sauna and a steam room to help us relax.

We then had a luxurious bath back in our room (we were definitely water babies this day) before changing for a beach side beer, a posh buffet and another early night.

Well, I say ‘early night’ I sneaked out to watch the England vs Egypt football game being shown on the hotel’s terrace bar. 3-1! Get in!

The Friends of Mr. Cairo - Jon and Vangelis...


Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Egypt: Day Seven...

We got up early on our last day in Cairo and met up with Sayed – our transitional rep – for our drive though the Sinai desert to Dahab. Sayed had two drivers for the minibus with him as Health and Safety (Egypt branch) dictated that drivers can only drive for four hours at a stretch and the trip was estimated up to eight hours (yeah, right!)

The trip was actually fairly uneventful taking over an hour to get out of Cairo and then largely involving hundreds of miles of desert roads. It was however quite exciting driving through the tunnel under the Suez canal. Oh yes, and we got a rear flat tyre in the middle of nowhere which wasn’t much fun. For starters the wheel wouldn’t come off the axle as it was too hot so we sat by the side of the road waiting for it to cool down. Thoughts of proceeding on camel crossed our minds but sadly no Bedouins or Lawrence of Arabia types came to our rescue.
Once we got those wing-nuts loosened, the wheel changed and everything tightened up we were on our way again - passing through a total of nine security checkpoints en route. At each one the driver would gesture his thumb back at us and say, “English”. The armed checkpoint guards seemed happy with this simple explanation and we were waved through.

Apparently American tourists are obliged to have a security guard with them at all times. The English are considered harmless and less of a kidnap threat I guess.

After nearly nine hours we were finally in Dahab. At a petrol station the local rep Sami joined the merry throng in the van. Budge up everyone. He seemed a nice enough guy and after Sayed and his drivers had all been suitably tipped, we were dropped off at the rather posh Le Meridien hotel to settle in and shower and change.

Our room seemed pretty fabulous (more of that later) with a sea view and we arranged to meet up with Sami early evening so he could show us around downtown Dahab.

We sussed out the best places to buy beer and settled upon the rather touristy Ali Baba restaurant on the front to eat - surrounded by cats, flashing lights, Bedouin kids begging and our rep playing gooseberry. The food was fine – only fine mind you – but we didn’t hang around too long. We fancied an early night.

Walk Like An Egyptian - The Bangles...


Monday, March 01, 2010

Egypt: Day Six...

Our friendly neighbourhood guide Abdo was there to meet our train at Giza station as we pulled in at 5:30am – the hero – and we were soon transferred and checked into the palatial Marriott Hotel in downtown Cairo. We even managed to get a couple of hours of shut-eye before our arranged meet with our favourite Egyptologist Hamdi at 10am. First on the agenda was Coptic Cairo – specifically The Roman Towers and The Hanging Church (so named as it was built high above the then ground-level upon a gate). Next we ventured uphill to The Citadel district and the impressive Turkish influenced Mosque of Mohammed Ali – complete with twinkling chandeliers and panorama view of the whole city. Finally we headed to the bustling Khan al-Khalili bazaar where thousands of local businesses vie for the tourist pound. All great fun but after all that walking we were ready for some rest.

We got back to the hotel for some nosh and on the way back to our room decided to have a quick hair-cut - a hair-cut that turned into an up-sellers dream of facials, shaving and exfoliation. D'oh! £75 later we felt great but also very poor.

An early night was ahead of us as it was to be another very early start in the morning. We were leaving Cairo and had a seven hour drive across the Sinai to look forward to.

Night Boat To Cairo - Madness...