Quote Of The Day

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

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Thing To Wear (or The Illusion of Choice)...

When David Sim and I came to the States in 2001 it was easy to buy clothes. There was really only one urban outfitters to go to - Abercrombie & Fitch (AF). It was the cool thing to wear back then. Only available in the US and all the gays were wearing it. We bought fifteen bags full sir.
The only other 'choice' was Gap. But Gap was for grannies.
In the intervening years new outfitters on the block have shown up and AF has lost it's street cred. It's become so common place as to almost be naff. So we came to New York to canvas opinions on what we should be buying. What was The Thing To Wear?
What we found is that urban outfitters in the US these days seem to be mighty brand machines occupying vast central city locations but selling just five basic items of clothing in their cavernous interiors. Each item of clothing will come in 200-odd colours but all based on the same theme and variation. The brand will be brazened across the front of each item so there can be no doubt which store you bought it from. But apart from this branding the clothes in each different store are all the same though. Same colours, same basic styles, same five basic clothes; hooded sweat-shirts, t-shirts, jeans, coats & underwear. It's Hobson's Choice. The illusion of choice if you will.
So we asked some of the A-gays in some New York bars how do they differentiate between the different brands and what was The Thing To Wear for 2010/2011.
And this is what they came up with:
Urban Outfitters List (ranked coolest to naffest)
1. Aeropostale (AP)
2. American Eagle (AE)
3. Hollister (actually owned by AF)
4. Abercrombie & Fitch (AF)
5. Gap
And this did seem to born out by what people were wearing out on the street and in the cool bars too. The sexiest men seemed to be wearing Aeropostale (AP). The fat straight people were wearing Abercrombie & Fitch (AF). And the grannies were still wearing Gap.
So we chose and shopped accordingly. AP it was. All fifteen bags of it. But secretly we knew that this was really just the illusion of choice. One t-shirt is pretty much like another, right?
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Monday, November 29, 2010

And We Ain't In Kansas, Neither...

The good thing about flying east is the jet-lag. No really. It works in your favour. Sure, you may feel a bit tired in the evenings but that's nothing a few shots of coffee or rounds of beer won't fix. And you wake up really early in the mornings so it's easy to get an early start.
So up we got... at the crack of noon.
Yesterday was to be a mystery day. We were booked in for The Accomplice: Village - a similar thing that we did in London a month or so ago run by the same people. It's a sort of treasue hunt on the streets.
We headed down to Greenwich just a little bit before kick-off to get some brunch. As it happened we happened upon a gay diner called Out Of The Kitchen. It set us up nicely for our two and a half hour amble through the Village ahead.
Drunks, drugs, apples, dog biscuits, brooms, crystal balls, mysteries, keys, clues, coffees, emails, phones, laptops, disks, paintings, donuts and hairspray. Confusion reigned despite as our guides Tim, Leo and Crawley best efforts.
It was slightly different from the London version in both style and content but no less enjoyable. Highly recommended with a nice twist in the tale.
On the way back to the Crowne Plaza we got a message from Bryn who was in town with her friend Cora on a business trip. We made plans.
After a barbecue at Virgil's just off Times Sq (a la Bodeans) we headed over to Lexongton to meet the girls in the cocktail bar of the W Hotel.
It was so nice and so unexpected to see Bryn and we had a lot of catching up to do. We laughed and laughed as we knocked back all the cocktails they threw at us.
Not wanting the night to end we headed across the road to the very grand Waldorf-Astoria for more (stronger still) cocktails. I think it would be fair to say we made a strong impression in there. Turns out "Randi Finger's a girl!" I'm surprised we weren't asked to leave!
We finished off the night by running all over the hotel lobby having our photographs taken under various fabulous Christmas trees. Great fun and so nice to spend some quality time with Bryn. Love that gal.
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Sunday, November 28, 2010

If You Can't Get It In Here...

The nice thing about flying east is that jet-lag works on your favour. You wake up early in the mornings raring to go and if you flag a little in the evenings then a cup of coffee or couple of beers keeps you going.
So awake early it was. And we would have been up early too but forced ourselves to stay in bed to acclimatise to EST- hard life, huh?
Once we did venture forth we took the red 1 subway train down to 18th St and hopped across to our favourite diner on 8th Ave - The Dish - for some breakfast. Big welcome, big portions.
There's a little clothing store right on that block too that Stu likes called Brooklyn Industries so we stopped off to pick up some t/shirts and trousers for him as we were in the area. Like you do.
We then jumped back on the downtown train to the end of the line South Ferry so we could walk through Battery Park and take some pictures across the river to the Statue Of Liberty.
We then made our way up past Wall St. to Ground Zero. To be honest things don't seem to have changed much at the World Trade Center in the four years since we last peered over the site. But I guess it's all going on underground. There were some very moving tributes near the site and there'll no doubt be an appropriate visitor's centre once it's all completed.
Overlooking WTC Plaza is our favourite discount department store Century 21. Let the shopping commence. Stu was mainly looking for underwear. I was after t/shirts. The shop wasn't quite as busy as I'd have thought it would have been - what with it being a Saturday and the craziness of the Christmad season was kicking off. Still, we were pleased to be out of there.
Bags in hand we took the train back up to Times Sq. to do a drop off before heading out for some lunch. $10 burger + beer at Charley O's. does ever eatery in New York have a flat screen showing sports?
Then on the next block down we popped into American Eagle to do some more serious pounding of the credit cards. Rather like A&F the music was way too loud and the staff way too perky but we coped. Just. Shirts, hoodies, pants, hats, gloves...
Back in oir room we had a much needed post purchasing lie-down later in the afternoon and readied ourselves for the night ahead. Disco naps are the new rock and roll.
We ate in Hell's Kitchen at the Chelsea Grill - Plymouth Gin cocktails to start, a half rack of ribs, inch thick pork chops and all washed down with Brooklyn Pilsner. Yum.
We then bar hopped - Barrage (youngish crowd, all on smart phones), Rawhide (older crowd, a go-go 'boy' stalking the bar top a la Ugly Coyote looking for money to be stuffed in his skimpy shorts), Barracuda (cute crowd, packed to the gills) and finally The Eagle (three floors of darkened industrial fun - muscles, leather, sweat and tattoos). Heavens.
We eventually fell into a cab and made it home in one piece. I do love New York.
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Saturday, November 27, 2010

New York, New York.,.

So we've arrived in the Big Apple. Just. Blimey that was a bumpy flight. Sure, the Valium and alcohol helped take the edge off but it was a rollercoaster ride as we approached the eastern seaboard. I had to hold on to my drink - and my lunch! Naturally Stu slept through it all.
The queue for immigration wasn't too bad at JFK. We had to give your finger prints though. We felt like proper criminals. Cool.
The big yellow taxi to Manhattan was fast and fixed price $45 + $5.07 (for toll + city tax). So not too bad.
The Crowne Plaza Times Square was great. Our Deluxe room was way up on the ear-popping fortieth floor with a great view of the Hudson river. Nice.
We dropped off our bags in out room and headed out the door straight into the madness of Times Square on shopping's maddest day of the year, Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving).
After grabbing some pizza on 8th and 42nd we took the subway down to Christopher Street for a beer or three. We initially headed for The Dugout which rather than the bear bar we were expecting in fact had turned into a rock bar. A gay rock bar? Who knew? We had just one beer there and then headed up the street to the Hangar bar. This was much better - it was way busier, had better music and the predominately black clientele were much more friendly. To polish the evening off we popped across the road to Ty's for a night cap. They had The Wizard Of Oz on the big screen so we watched that to the witch melting end before heading off into the cold night air.
Once back in Times Sq we dropped into Walgreens pharmacy to pick up some essentials - weird tasting toothpaste and weirder tasting mouth-wash. Strange that pharmacies here sell cigarettes.
We slept like babies.
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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cable Box Art...

This bit of graffiti art is just round the corner from us on a Cable TV distribution box.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

My Weekend In A Nutshell...

Friday: Loved Harry Potter 7a. Just like the book; dark, moody and threatening. Body count pleasingly high. Intense in tents. One for the fans.

Friday: Loved Eastenders + Coronation Street = East Street on Children In Need. Great idea of half the cast swapping soaps for the day.

Saturday: Had posh brekkie of champagne and pate before the Arsenal game with Paul. I like to get the celebrations in early #arsenal #spurs #emiratesstadium (Oh. I spoke too soon 2-0 up at HT and we fucked it up losing 2-3 to Spurs)

Sunday morning: Not too early is it? (hic) — at Vinopolis with Stuart (using Darren and Mark's birthday gift of wine tour for two)

Oh, and here is the Doctor Who Christmas Special trailer:

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Friday, November 19, 2010

God Hates Figs...

Mark 11:12-14 (King James Version)
12 And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry:
13 And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet.
14 And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Don Giovanni @ London Colesium...

Last night Stu and I went to see Don Giovanni as performed by the English National Opera at the London Coliseum.
It was a new production of Mozart's work directed by Rufus Norris (Afore Night Came, Cabaret, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Festen) with the set designed by Ian MacNeil (Festen, Ariodante, Billy Elliot: The Musical).
Don Giovanni (part Don Juan, part Casanova), a young, arrogant, sexually prolific nobleman, abuses and outrages everyone else in the cast, until he finally encounters something he cannot kill, beat up, dodge, or outwit - a guest who he has greatly wronged. This new interpretation of a classic tale takes our anti-hero from some nasty sexual violence through three hours of thoroughly rotten bad behaviour to a very sticky end. The cast were good. The music good too. The set was something else though. The elements raced and twirled and span like dodgem cars - the cast seemed to have to leap out of it's way. Still, we both enjoyed it and it never flagged. The English translation was a hoot too - very contemporary. Recommended.
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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Or You Could Kiss Me...

Last night Stu and I went to see Or You Could Kiss Me, a new play by Neil Bartlett and Handspring Puppet Company, at the National Theatre.
From the people who bought us War Horse and using a bare stage, a handful of domestic props and the astonishing puppetry that is Handspring’s trademark, Or You Could Kiss Me was an intimate history of two very private lives, lived in extraordinary times. The story was one of a gay relationship told through puppetry and narration. The two near life-size wooden puppets were operated by seven black-suited figures, including Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones, the show's co-creators.
In the winter of 2036, in a shabby apartment in Port Elizabeth, two old men search for a way to say goodbye after a lifetime spent together. In the perfect summer of 1971, in a very different South Africa, their handsome younger selves search for the courage to fall in love. And poised halfway between these two stories – one imagined, one remembered – their real-life counterparts bear witness to both the beginning and the ending of an incredible journey.
I'd like to say it was a moving tale. But... to be frank it was boring. A real let-down. The only stand-out aspect was Adjoa Andoh who was excellent as the narrator. I guess it was nice to see gay life at all ages so expressively played out on a national stage but to be honest we were really disappointed.
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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

St Leonards-on-Sea...

Last Saturday Paul and I went down to stay with the lovely Charlie in St Leonards. What a great time we had. Lovely man. More pix here.
2010 Nov St Leonards montage

Monday, November 15, 2010

Marc Almond @ De La Warr Pavilion...

Last Saturday Paul and I went down to stay with the lovely Charlie in St Leonard's. He put on a lovely meal before we headed off, along with Charlie's friend Brendan, to see Marc Almond at the glitzy De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-On-Sea.
La Almond put on a great show covering his thirty years in the biz. We sang and danced the night away to favourites such as Tainted Love, Tears Run Rings, Jacky, The Days Of Pearly Spencer, Bedsitter, Say Hello Wave Goodbye, Black Heart, What Makes A Man A Man, My Hand Over My Heart, Memorabilia, A Lover Spurned, Something's Gotta Hold Of My Heart, Adored And Explored, The Idol, Child Star and I Close My Eyes And Count To Ten.
Even more ecstatic was our reaction more rarely performed gems such as Stories Of Johnny, What, Where The Heart Is, Waifs And Strays, Melancholy Rose, A Woman's Story, Entertain Me and You Have.
A show for fans old and new. It was a brilliant, brilliant night.

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Friday, November 12, 2010


Last night Darren, Stu and I went to The HMV Apollo Hammersmith to see the ever wonderful Goldfrapp perform. Gosh, what a show! They sure have come on since we saw Alison shily wave to us at the Union Chapel all those years ago. We were treated to back to back thunderous stadium stompers plundered mainly from Black Cherry, Supernature and .of course, the newy Head First. Lights, sound, action! Loved it.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010


On Sunday after the game I popped down to the RVT to see the show and spend some time with Darren, Jim and Oliver (staying over with Alex for the weekend). A nice time was had by all. More snaps here.

Monday, November 08, 2010

The Triplets...

The Friday before last I went over to Ben and Sarah's for lunch and to spend some time with the triplets. Dylan, Eve and Lola have all shot up since I last saw them and are now almost five years old. We played around, went to the park and got lost in the Crystal Palace maze. Great fun
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Friday, November 05, 2010

White Van Man...

Tonight at 8pm Channel 5 will be showing a program called "White Van Man". No big shakes there I hear you say. Only this particular episode will feature some rather good looking tradesmen: Buff Builders - guys who do DIY topless. "We will sort out your DIY needs. With very little on." "Steve oils me up and away we go" "We get jobs from about 2/3 gay men and 1/3 women". I'll be glued.
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Stonewall Awards 2010 (pix)...

Here are some pix from last night's event.

Stonewall Awards 2010...

Last night the lovely Allegra treated me to a very special evening out. We went to the fifth annual Stonewall Awards ceremony, hosted by Sue Perkins, at the V&A in London's glitzy South Kensington. Without the anticipated demo the evening began at 7pm sharp with a champagne and canapé reception. Then we had the awards proper. After the ceremony the evening continued with further champagne and food. Carriages arrived at 10:30pm. What a great night it was. Rubbing shoulders with the great and good in the gay world as well spending some quality time with Allegra. Bliss. (Pix to follow)
Here was the short lists for the awards and the winners:-
Entertainer of the Year
Simon Amstell
Colin Firth
Jane Lynch
Kele Okereke
John Partridge (winner)
Broadcast of the Year
Coronation Street (ITV) (winner)
Dispatches-Africa’s Last Taboo (Channel 4)
EastEnders (BBC)
Emmerdale (ITV)
The Sex Education Show (Channel 4)
Journalist of the Year, supported by Herbert Smith
John Cross
Caitlin Moran
Martin Popplewell
Patrick Strudwick (winner)
Politician of the Year, supported by hervia.com - luxury fashion retail
Lord Avebury
Rt Hon John Bercow MP (winner)
Baroness Campbell of Surbiton
Councillor Steve Reed
Writer of the Year
Emma Donoghue, Room
Stella Duffy, Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore (joint winner)
Damon Galgut, In a Strange Room
Jackie Kay, Red Dust Road
Rupert Smith, Man’s World (joint winner)
Publication of the Year, supported by Prudential
The Lawyer
Midlands Zone
Radio Times
The Times (winner)
Sports Award of the Year
The Caledonian Thebans
Daniel Kowalski
Martina Navratilova (winner)
Lee Pearson
Cristiano Ronaldo
Hero of the Year, supported by G3
Clare Balding
Kath Gillepsie Sells
Dr Jeffrey John
Joe McElderry
Gareth Thomas (winner)
Bigot of the Year
Frederick Forsyth
A.A. Gill
Chris Grayling (winner)
Rt Rev Arthur Roche
Susanne Wilkinson
Community Group of the Year, supported by Prudential
Over 6,000 Stonewall supporters cast their vote for Community Group of the Year kindly sponsored by Prudential. MindOut was presented with a cheque for £5,000 to help continue and sustain their work.
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Thursday, November 04, 2010

Google Maps...

Now this is fun:- 
1: Go to Google Maps and select "get directions" 
2: Select Japan as the starting location, and China as the end 
3: Scroll down to number 43 on the instructions 
4: LOL
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Wednesday, November 03, 2010


Last Sunday night Stu and I went to the Barbican Hall to see a screening of Alfred Hitchcock's black and white silent film Blackmail (1929). The film was actually made in two versions at the same time - one with sound and one without. Not all cinemas had sound equipment - hence the two versions. The two versions even had a slightly different cast.
Our heroine Alice has stabbed to death a man who tried to rape her. Her boyfriend Frank, a policeman, covers it up; but Tracey, the local petty thief, tries to blackmail the couple. This leads to Tracey’s attempted arrest and a spectacular police chase which ends on the roof of the British Museum.
The new music, performed live by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, was scored by Neil Brand and was a UK premiere.
Great film. Great score. Great performance.
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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The Accomplice: London...

It all started with a call.
The deep, calm voice asked if we're alone. We were, so instructions poured forth on precisely where and when we were to meet our co-conspirators. And so began the game-cum-tour experience which is the Menier Chocolate Factory's Accomplice: London, an exercise in immersive theatre.
It was Stu's birthday treat for me and what a treat it was. Right up my alley. Puzzles, team work, a goose-chase around London's South Bank (with occasional stopped for food and drink). We loved it. Strongly recommended.
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