Quote Of The Day

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

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Blondie at Kenwood...

Last Saturday night Paul, Simon, Tim, Andy, Stu and I went to watch Blondie perform an open-air concert at the picnic event at Kenwood House.

It was a lovely hot summer's day, the Carluccio's picnics were gorgeous and we had quite a good view from our premiem deckchairs.

The support act was Little Fish. Ok I guess.

Finally Debbie Harry and the boys came on stage - DH with her trademark blonde hair, diamanté studded sunglasses and more than enough attitude to belies her 64 years.

It was great show. They sang, we sang. They danced, we danced. They sang some more.

The set-list - as far as I can remember it - was:

Hanging on the Telephone
The Hardest Part
Love Doesn't Frighten Me At All
Two Times Blue
The End, The End
Fade Away and Radiate
Picure This
What I Heard
Orchid Club
Mother In The Night
The Tide is High
Uprising (a Muse cover)
Call Me
You're Too Hot
Rapture (a rather extended version)
No Exit
One Way Or Another
Break Your Heart (a Taio Cruz cover)
Heart Of Glass
Don't Stop Till You Get Enough (a Michael Jackson cover)

More pix here.

Monday, June 28, 2010


On Friday night Darren and I went to see Bison at the Oval House Theatre. It was excellent. A painfully funny and painfully true exploration of gay life in the noughties.

They was no narrative as such - just a series of character studies and sketches about four gay men. Jason (Matthew Cavan) is a young gayer learning how the gay scene works. Tom (Jonny McMillen-Patterson) is a little bit older than Jason and a little bit wiser too. He is on a journey - quite literally - discovering all that the world has to offer. Simon (Christopher Sutton) is a bit older than Tom. He goes to the max, does everything to the extreme, particularly when it comes to sex (think fisting, blood and barebacking). Finally we have Richard (Miche Doherty) who is just plain old and really rather disillusioned. The four of them are linked only by their sexuality, each one at a different stage in life, and each facing their own worries and problems.

Friday, June 25, 2010


Last night Paul and I went to the London Colosseum in London's glitzy West End to see the English National Opera's production of Pucinni's Tosca.

Set in 1800 and against a backdrop of war the story takes us through an emotional journey of love, jealousy, deceit, lust, betrayal, revenge, murder, execution and suicide.

It was well sung, well acted and brilliantly staged.

Special mention of course goes to our heroine Tosca (Amanda Echalaz), her lover Mario (Julian Gavin) and the villain of the piece - the evil Scarpia (Anthony Michaels-Moore).

We had good seats too - access all arias.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Wolfgang Tillmans...

Wolfgang Tillmans has a new exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery which opens this week.

Here are two of my favourite photographs of his:

Dan (left) and Shiny Shorts (right)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

RIP Mr Tibbles...

Dear Mr Schrödinger,

Please excuse the open letter but we have been trying to contact you for some time. We are both pleased/sorry to inform you that Mr Tibbles is both fine/no longer with us. Please call if/when you get this message and come and observe him. Hopefully you'll be able to collapse him to a definite state.

Yours, Boots the Alchemist (Vet).

Monday, June 21, 2010

Richard Dawkins at TED...

From 2002 Richard Dawkins urges all atheists to openly state their position - and to fight the incursion of the church into politics and science. A fiery, funny, powerful talk.

Friday, June 18, 2010

London Map (By Hand)...

Awesome, hand-drawn, zoomable map of London. Instead of buildings, this guy has put in interesting facts about every neighbourhood and the level of detail is amazing.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hot Chip - 'I Feel Better'...

Peter Serafinowicz's video is good until 0:50. Then it gets amazing. Until 3:07. Then it gets epic. You'll need to click through to watch it on YouTube.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

All In Good Time...

"Working in Llandough Hospital, just outside Cardiff. We had our fair share of Jeremy Kyle rejects, and... they breed. The hero of this story is a Senior Registrar in Obs/Gynae. He had just delivered to this world a new future car thief, when the male provider of half of the DNA says "Oi Doc, when can I 'ave sex wiv 'er again?" Our hero, without dropping a beat, says, "Well, a Gentleman would wait until the placenta is delivered."

Monday, June 14, 2010


Last Saturday Andy, Kev, Ian, Stu and I went to Shakespeare's Globe on London's glitzy Bankside to see Macbeth.

It was a great production bringing the Scottish play vividly to life. Almost too vividly at times. On the way into the auditorium was a sign, "Please note that this is a gruesome production of a brutal play".

And they certainly got that right. The front part of The Yard had to put their heads up through holes in a black tarpaulin sheeting that stretched out (five metres?) into the audience. This was partly to extend the stage, partly to great a layer under which performers could move about / pop up with dramatic effect and partly to keep the punters clothes dry from all the piss (water), blood (fake) and flying severed body parts (latex) hurled front of house.

The performance itself was good - solidly acted and suitably staged. The famous speeches were all perfectly well delivered, of course, although one issue with the source material is the rather lengthy detailing of the battles.

We really enjoyed it though. And for five quid you can't really go wrong. Mind you, standing up for three hours goes take it's toll on the legs.

Friday, June 11, 2010

City of the Daleks...

Have you ever wanted to take on the Cybermen or Daleks? This is your chance to play as the Doctor for the very first time, but don't worry, Amy's coming too. Travel across time and space in these brand new online adventures - available free in the UK, only on this site. Can you do battle with the Daleks, survive Skaro and save the Earth? The first adventure, City of the Daleks, is ready to download and play now.

The Adventure Games are a series of downloadable games available for free in the UK. Each game will be around 330MB to download. That will take around 10-20 minutes to download depending upon the speed of your internet connection. You'll need about 2GB of space to install the games which will run on Windows PC and Macs.


Google Goooooal!...

If you search for "world cup" in Google you get some tweaked results. Including a new result icon.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Marc Almond @ Jazz Cafe...

Last night Darren, Mark, Paul, Simon, Mark, Patrick and I went to see Marc Almond perform at Camden's glitzy Jazz Cafe as part of the Mojo Honours List gigs.

The show was also partly to promote his recent album Varieté‎ - a largely self-composed collection of cabaret sleaze numbers much like those found on his mid-80s albums.

And what a show it was! Marc was uplifting, exciting and just plain happy to be there. He was full of energy - dancing around, jumping on the piano, singing his heart out and probably enjoying himself as much as we were watching him.

He rattled through a suitably diverse, but all too brief, seventy-five minute set and I just couldn't stop smiling and laughing at each fresh interpretation of each song. Smiling, laughing and dancing.

I think that without doubt it was one of the best Marc shows I have ever seen.

The set list was (as far as I can remember):
Tears Run Rings
Open All Night
Nijinsky Heart
The Exhibitionist
Trials Of Eyeliner
Bread And Circus
Cabaret Clown
Brilliant Creatures
Sleaze / Take a Walk On The Wild Side
Black Kiss
Joey Demento
Tainted Love
Run With The Devil

The last song Run Like The Devil by Kenny Roberts (thanks for the heads up on that Darren) and after he finished perfroming it Marc joked that his next album might be "an album of obscure Northern Soul classics". Let's hope so!

I'm with Peter: "So I'm dead chuffed that I chose to go to this rather than the HMV signing on Monday. The whole show was just very uplifting and exciting."

Roll on Bexhill-On-Sea.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

come, been and gone...

Last night Darren and I went to see Michael Clark's come, been and gone show at the Barbican Theatre.

Primarily using the music of David Bowie come, been and gone also embraces the work of Bowie's key collaborators: Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Brian Eno and touches on some of his influences; The Velvet Underground, Kraftwerk and Nina Simone.

And wow, what show. It was fabulous. Sexy dancers, great staging, great lighting (no really) and an indecipherable plot. Perfect.

The evening started off with Clark's 1986 piece Swamp - which was the best thing of the night by far. Growling, growing and dramatic it swamped the senses with sound, light and rhythm.

The three pieces 'been', 'come' and 'come again' were less successful although nothing less than outstanding - the last section which used David Bowie's Aladdin Sane and The Jean Genie perhaps working the best.

If you like contemporary dance - this is the show for you.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Hampstead Heath Pool Picnic...

The Footage They Tried To Ban...

The footage the BBC tried to ban: "These have been dramatic and turbulent weeks for the Conservative Party and their dedication to making people's lives absolutely fucking shit."

Monday, June 07, 2010

Star Trek Communicators…

star trek communicatorsBack in the 1960s these were considered the things of science fiction. I guess we have them now.

I wonder whether the iPhone 4 will look like this when it's launched later today?

Friday, June 04, 2010

Man 2 Man Meets Man Parrish - Male Stripper...

Hi NRG...

I love Hi-NRG music and these are some of my favourite songs:

Hit And Run Lover - Carol Jiani
So Many Men, So Little Time - Miquel Brown
Where Is My Man? - Eartha Kitt
Male Stripper - Man 2 Man meets Man Parrish
High Energy - Evelyn Thomas
Searching (I Got to Find a Man) - Hazell Dean
I like Plastic - Marsha Raven
I Love Men - Eartha Kitt
If You Could Read My Mind - Viola Wills
Love's Gone Mad - Seventh Avenue
I Like You - Phyllis Nelson
Two of Hearts [European Mix] - Stacey Q
One Night Only - Scherrie Payne
Whisper to a Scream - Bobby Orlando (Bobby O)
Savin' Myself - Eria Fachin
Born to Be Alive - Patrick Hernandez
Can't Take My Eyes off of You - Boys Town Gang
Unexpected Lovers - Lime
Voyage, Voyage - Desireless
Voyage - East To West
I'm Living My Own Life - Earlene Bentley
Masquerade - Evelyn Thomas
Love's Gone Mad - Seventh Avenue

Oh and let's not forget...
Love Eviction - Quartzlock
Weekend - Class Action
Break 4 Love - Raze

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Kim Peek...

Kim Peek, who died on 19th December 2009 aged 58, was the model for the autistic character Raymond Babbitt in the 1988 film Rain Man, starring Dustin Hoffman.

Hoffman's portrayal of a middle-aged savant's complex interaction with the world through astonishing mental facilities and childlike emotions earned him an Oscar for best actor. But it was Peek, who suffered from Agenesis of Corpus Callosum (a condition similar to autism), whom Hoffman and Barry Morrow – Rain Man's writer, who also won an Oscar – acknowledged as the inspiration behind the performance.

When Hoffman thanked Peek in his Oscar acceptance speech, media interest in Peek's highly unusual abilities was immediate. This prompted Kim and his father, Fran, an advertising executive, to embark on a series of speaking tours throughout America, spreading awareness and acceptance of the "different" and the disabled. The public exposure, in turn, led to pioneering scientific research.

Kim Peek was born on 11th November 1951 in Salt Lake City, Utah – both his parents were Mormons. Despite his mother's uneventful pregnancy, Kim's head was 30 per cent larger than normal at birth. He was a sluggish baby who cried frequently, and doctors soon discovered that he had a blister inside his skull that had damaged the left hemisphere of his brain, which controls language and motor skills. By the time he was nine months old he was expected to be mentally impaired for life. His parents were advised to place him in an institution, but they dismissed the idea, deciding to bring him up normally alongside their other son and daughter.

They were soon astounded by his progress. At the age of 16 months Kim taught himself to read children's books. When he was three he consulted a dictionary to clarify the meaning of the word "confidential"; it was then that his parents realised that he could also read newspapers. Yet for all his brilliance, his oversized head required physical support because of its weight; and, unusually, he was unable to walk until he was four.
When Kim was six, a visit to Utah by the renowned brain surgeon Peter Lindstrom resulted in his being offered a lobotomy. His parents declined, and Kim went on to memorise the entire Bible before his seventh birthday. At this point he was sent to a local school, but was expelled on his first day for being disruptive. The lack of provision in America in the 1950s for special needs children meant that his father had to have him tutored at home by a series of retired teachers. By the time he was 14, Kim had completed the high school curriculum, though the local authorities would not recognise the achievement and refused to award him a certificate.

Before the release of Rain Man – by which time he was 37 – Peek had an insular existence, knowing only about 20 people. Unable to describe his condition, or to dress himself, cook, shave or brush his teeth without help, he was looked after by his mother, Jeanne, until 1981, when his parents divorced. Thereafter his father provided the supervision he required. At 18 he had been given a job working in the accounts department of a community centre. Spare time was devoted to absorbing literature. He read and immediately memorised thousands of texts, including the complete works of Shakespeare and every story in every volume of the condensed Reader's Digest books.

He used telephone directories for exercises in mental arithmetic, adding each column of seven-digit numbers together in his head until he reached figures in the trillions. On a rare excursion away from home in 1984, he attended the national conference of the Association of Retarded Citizens in Arlington, Texas, and it was there that he was "discovered" by Barry Morrow. After spending four hours with Peek, the screenwriter approached Fran Peek, asking him if he realised that his son knew every postcode, area code, and road number in every state across America. He urged Fran to share his son with the world.

Not wishing Kim to become part of a freak show, Fran ignored the request. Two years later, however, Morrow contacted him to explain that a film studio had just bought a script he had written. The story of a selfish yuppie who discovers that an autistic brother he never knew existed has inherited their father's fortune outright, Rain Man put Dustin Hoffman's acting skills to the test in the lead role. To prepare for it he spent time with three autism sufferers, including six hours in the company of Peek. It was Peek's rapid monotone, rocking motions, ability to count cards and childlike emotions that Hoffman copied for the part. The resemblances between Peek and Raymond Babbitt ended there, however, for Peek was many times more complex and prodigious than his fictional alter ego, despite having the mental reasoning of a child of five. A scene in the film in which Raymond is taken to a casino and beats the house with his astounding skills in mental arithmetic never took place – despite the best efforts of Morrow, who asked Peek to read a book about gambling before taking him to a casino to try the experiment. Peek refused to enter the casino, saying he thought it unethical. The success of the film had some beneficial effects on Peek's life. He made many friends, and was awarded the high school certificate he had been denied more than 20 years earlier.

Neuroscientists who conducted tests discovered that he had no corpus callosum, the membrane that separates the two hemispheres of the brain and filters information. This meant that Peek's brain was effectively the equivalent of a giant databank, giving him his photographic memory. He was also the only savant known to science who could read two pages of a book simultaneously – one with each eye, regardless of whether it was upside down or sideways on. His ability to retain 98 per cent of the information he absorbed led to his designation "mega-savant"'.

After the release of Rain Man Peek and his father embarked on a series of public lecture tours, informing students, prisoners, pensioners and politicians of the need to treat all people equally. "Learning to recognise and to respect differences in others and treating them like you want them to treat you will bring the joy we all hope for", read the card that was handed out at each talk. Fran Peek estimated that his son addressed more than two million people.

Wishing to avoid accusations that he was taking advantage of his son's condition, Fran Peek never accepted money for these engagements. The talks were also a chance for Kim to demonstrate his extraordinary memory, including his faultless knowledge of the calendar stretching back 2,000 years.

The five universities which studied him in his adult life decided that he was a genius in at least 15 subjects, including music, geography, history and mathematics. Most savants reach a similar level in one or two subjects. Even more remarkably, doctors found that his powers increased as he aged. In 2004 a Californian hospital which works closely with Nasa persuaded Peek to undergo brain scans in the hope that a detailed map of his mind might allow them to understand more about many disorders, among them vertigo and motion sickness. By tracking the electrical impulses of Peek's brain, they were hoping to discover how people adapt to forces such as acceleration and gravity.

In 1996 Fran Peek published a book about his son, The Real Rain Man: Kim Peek. Never having any romantic inclinations, Kim Peek did not marry and had no children. His favourite possession was the Oscar which Morrow won for writing the Best Screenplay at the 1989 Oscars. Morrow gave it to Peek, who took it with him whenever he travelled. Kim Peek died of a heart attack. His father survives him.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Canadian Alexandre Despatie...

Canadian Alexandre Despatie performs a dive off of the 10-meter platform at the 2004 Athens Olympics.