Quote Of The Day

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

Monday, April 30, 2012

Toft Hall..,

We had a fantastic weekend away at a country pile called Toft Hall - halfway between Stoke-on-Trent and Macclesfield.

There were nineteen of us - me, Stu, Andy, Tim, Michael, Andrew, Richard, Andre, Jeremy, Jonny, Andy, Kev, Gary, Nau, Darren, Mark, Dean, Nick and David.

The excuse, if any were needed, was Andy Cook's 50th and Timmy's 38th birthdays.

The hall was lovely, the company sublime and the weather shit. Still, we had a roaring time eating, drinking, dressing up, chatting and playing games.

It is a testament to the boys in that there friends are so nice and everyone got on so well as a group.
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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Philip Glass Disney Opera The Perfect American UK premiere at ENO...

Philip Glass's opera about Walt Disney is to get its UK premiere at the English National Opera (ENO) next year according to the BBC.

The opera, called The Perfect American, imagining the final months of the life of Walt Disney as told by a fictional Austrian cartoonist who worked for Disney in the 1940s-50s, will have its world première at Madrid's Teatro Real on 22nd Jan 2013.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Lego Puzzle...

The answers are below here... (written in white on white so select with mouse to show them)

  • The Simpsons (Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello)
  • Southpark (Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny) 
  • The Smurfs 
  • Asterix and Obelix 
  • Bert & Ernie 
  • Donald, Huey, Dewey, and Louie Duck i.e. Ducktales
  • Lucky Luke and The Daltons

Thursday, April 19, 2012

100 Days To Go To the Olympics...

The great irony of course, is that if all those who have said they will disappear for the Olympic fortnight actually did so, it would spare the rest of us the chaos they so fear. But inevitably, they won’t. So when it does all go wrong, blame the moaners.

It's frustrating not getting tickets for what you want to see. As a footie fan I'm used to not getting tickets to watch my team play. Sure I get frustrated. But doesn't mean I think football should be not played! Yes, they could have allocated Olympics tickets better - given more to different people rather than a straight ballot but I guess the real problem was that they were oversubscribed by a factor of 10:1! Although more tickets on sale in a week or two I think. 1.5m football ones but 1m other ones too apparently. If you didn't get any in the first rounds - have another go!

And if you're not successful don't stay in watching telly - come down to Trafalgar Square with me!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Big and Small (Gross und Klein)...

Last Friday night Stu and I went to see Big and Small (Gross und Klein) at the Barbican Theatre in London's glitzy Barbican Centre.

Botho Strauss's play (with Martin Crimp sparkling translation) sees Cate Blanchett play a chattering woman, Lotte, who is desperate to belong. As the ten scenes play out we follow Lotte on her slightly surreal search for meaning and friendship.

Her travels take her to Morocco where she becomes alienated from the rest of the tour party, Essen where she becomes alienated from her husband and Saarbrücken where, well you've guessed it, things don't go well meeting up with her childhood friend. Even her brother doesn't seem to want to know.

But this particular Chatty Cathy is an eternal optimist and slightly too good for this world. She is the outsider always looking in - sometimes literally - as she does through a pane of frosted glass.

Ultimately we sympathise with Lotte and want her to find a human connection with someone. To the author's credit this never realised, the open-ending mirroring the ambiguity that happiness be achieved by anyone inhabiting our grossly materialist society.

Cate Blanchett puts on a dazzlingly uninhibited performance here and the standing ovation was well deserved. A triumph.

Friday, April 06, 2012

The Tax System Explained In Beer...

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to £100… If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this…

  • The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
  • The fifth would pay £1.
  • The sixth would pay £3.
  • The seventh would pay £7..
  • The eighth would pay £12.
  • The ninth would pay £18.
  • The tenth man (the richest) would pay £59.

So, that’s what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve ball.

“Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by £20″. Drinks for the ten men would now cost just £80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. So the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free; but what about the other six men? - the paying customers.

How could they divide the £20 windfall so that everyone would get his fair share?

They realised that £20 divided by six is £3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer.

So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by a higher percentage the poorer he was, to follow the principle of the tax system they had been using, and he proceeded to work out the amounts he suggested that each should now pay . . . and so the fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% saving)

  • The sixth now paid £2 instead of £3 (33% saving)
  • The seventh now paid £5 instead of £7 (28% saving)
  • The eighth now paid £9 instead of £12 (25% saving)
  • The ninth now paid £14 instead of £18 (22% saving)
  • The tenth now paid £49 instead of £59 (16% saving)

Each of the six was better off than before and the first four continued to drink for free. But, once outside the bar, the men began to compare their savings.

“I only got a pound out of the £20 saving,” declared the sixth man.

He pointed to the tenth man ”but he got £10!”

“Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man. “I only saved a pound too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more benefit than me!”

“That’s true!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get £10 back, when I got only £2 . . . the wealthy get all the breaks!”

“Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison, “we didn’t get anything at all. This new tax system exploits the poor!”

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had their beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill

And that, boys and girls, journalists and government ministers, is how our tax system works. The people who already pay the highest taxes will naturally get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas, where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

The Wizard of Oz...

Last night Roger, Stuart and I went to see The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium in London's glitzy West End.

We had fairly low expectations to be honest. And they were barely met.

Russell Grant as the wizard was just plain awful. He can't act. He has no personality. OK, he can sing a bit, but there's more to the role than that. We seriously hoped he'd not be the one to make it back to Kansas.

One of the main issues to be tackled with the The Wizard of Oz as a show is whether it's a pantomime or a straightforward musical. Wicked gets it just right - this production plain doesn't. It's neither fish nor fowl. It not only fell between two stools it died when it hit its head on the floor.

At the interval we took the Yellow Brick Road to the bar - but got stung £29-10 for three drinks. Ouch!

Back for the second act things picked up a bit. The Wicked Witch of the West had the best tunes and flying around the auditorium a la Mary Poppins was fun. Talking of flying though the monkey's where menacing enough and there weren't enough of them and took way to long to attach the harness wires to Dorothy.

Oh, and the 'actress' playing Dorothy was so vacuous we couldn't really begin to care about her fate (which is rather central to the plot don't you think?) Rainbows are too good for you, love. Stick to rep.

The ScarecrowTin Woodman and Cowardly Lion gamely did as best they could but no number of "friends of Dorothy" gags could save this magic-free show.


Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Kylie Anti-Tour in pictures...

Kylie Anti-Tour...

I went to see Kylie Minogue perform her Anti Tour last night at the HMV Hammersmith Apollo and it was brilliant. A brilliant show.

Billed as a gig for the uber-fans it was anything but. I knew half the songs really well, recognised another quarter more of them and the rest were a revelation. Surrounded by epic fans, sexy men and good chums (some being all of the above) we sang, danced and sang some more.

I'm guessing the song choices suited her voice better too as there was no squeaking like you ocassionally get in the stadium gigs. And without all that dancing she wasn't out of breath either. She was obviously having a fab time and that was infectious I think. Normally at a gig people are thinking, "Oh hurry up and play your hits". But not last night. Knowing that it was an eclectic choice sort of took the pressue off and everyone enjoyed it more.

A gal at the top of her game she wowed the crowd and had us whipped into a frenzy in a her laid back ripped denim, vintage T-shirt and pearly cap. We counted ourselves very lucky, lucky, lucky to be there.

Big hello and thanks to Stephen, Brendan, Stuart, Marcus, Ben, Nau, Terry et al

Set List

Magnetic Electric
Made in Heaven
Cherry Bomb
Mighty Rivers
I'm Over Dreaming (Over You)
Always Find the Time
You're the One
Paper Dolls
Say Hey
Too Much
Bittersweet Goodbye
Disco Down
I Don't Need Anyone
Give Me Just a Little More Time
It's No Secret
Got to Be Certain
Things Can Only Get Better

Do It Again
Tears on My Pillow
(Little Anthony & The Imperials cover)
One Boy Girl
Enjoy Yourself

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Noises Off...

Last Saturday Stu and I treated my mother and father to an afternoon at the theatre. We went to see Michael Frayn's Noises Off at the the Novello Theatre in London's glitzy West End.

I have to say we loved it. We laughed and laughed. It's basically a farce - which can be hard to pull off anyway - written as a very clever deconstructive piece using the grammar and language of the genre to spoof itself.

The title comes from the theatrical stage direction indicating sounds that are meant to originate offstage. The conceit of a play within a play then hurtles along at breakneck speed following the backstage antics of a touring theatre company as they stumble their way through rehearsals to a shambolic first night and a final disastrous performance.

Celia Imrie's Dotty Otley was brilliant and deserves the Olivier Award for Best Actress.

If you get a chance - go see!

Monday, April 02, 2012