Thursday, 30 October 2008

Guest Blog #1 - Peter says Grace

This is the first in a regular series of guest bloggers. The inaugural entry is by Peter - my partner of 9 (count 'em) years. Pete has decided on a rather abstract blog entry...

Amazing Grace

Grace Jones is back and the world is a better place for it
Grace is infectious
Grace loves what she does
Grace has an amazing voice
Grace appears a little scary but fun
Grace and I have been on the same stage
Grace is a better singer than me
Grace has eyeballed me
Grace should be prescribed on the NHS to cheer up the world
Grace and Daniel Craig have shared a sofa
Grace Jones forever
There will be another guest blog soon. If you are new to my blog due to Pete's blog entry - please subscribe.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Insults towards the gay community?... or when a comment became a post

I was having a look at a few blogs and noticed a blog entry about a recent TV show in Australia where veteran US entertainer Jerry Lewis recently used the word "fag" as a descriptive word to show what he thought of cricket. He obviously doesn't like the game we English choose to lose at so often because, after making the remark, he mimed swinging a cricket bat effeminately. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the Australian Coalition for Equality have called for an apology - which I think is a little strong. However, the blogger couldn't quite understand why anyone should be offended. So I posted this comment:

I thought it was obvious why people have complained - he used the word "fag" as a descriptive insult towards cricket, as if "fag" was a suitable word to describe something that he saw as garbage, stupid and worthless.

Therefore, is it OK to use the word "fag" in this way and does it not then suggest that gay people are garbage, stupid and worthless? Or that is it that cricket, in his opinion, is only worthy for a "lower class" of people?

In the UK, a lot of young (possibly) straight guys say something is "gay" when it's not to their liking. It's immature and winds me up. One day soon, someone will lose their job from using language like that at their place of work.

However, saying all this, it's been blown out of proportion by the press (as they like to do) - he's an 82 year old man who comes from an age when being gay was something to hide. So, I don't really blame him.

I am a pretty laid back person and I would like to think that Jerry Lewis was merely trying to get a laugh and misjudged his words. Though from the number of entries on the web about him putting his foot in his mouth, I'm not so sure! The word "fag" does have negative and insulting overtones in my opinion, so should not be used so freely.

Your comments are welcome...

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Snippits for a rainy Sunday

Here are a few entertainment related snippits...

The best album title of the year, so far, has to go to
Seasick Steve which is called I Started Out With Nothin and I Still Got Most of it Left.

I find the Sarah Palin really funny in the US election. So much of what she says make no sense! She appears to start a sentence and then forgets her point and just waffles with soundbites. And can you imagine a politician in the UK wanting the teaching of creationism in schools? I am sure she has many good points, but so far the opposition is highlighting her flaws very well.

Films watched in the last month or so from and my ratings: The Chumscrubber (7/10), The Edukators (7.5/10), In Bruges (8/10), My Brother Is an Only Child (6/10), The Lives Of Others (8/10), 21 (6/10), Juno (7/10), Eternal Summer (7/10).

The latest series of Heroes (series/season 3) isn't very good.

Best TV programme in the past few weeks, in my humble opinion, was Britain's Got the Pop Factor... and Possibly a New Celebrity Jesus Christ Soapstar Superstar Strictly on Ice - a great sendup by Peter Kay of the crap reality TV programmes aimed at the masses. And the Winners Song by tranvestite Geraldine is sarcastic fun and very catchy.

An unusual looking guitar that I want to buy sometime is a "gypsy" jazz acoustic that has a distinctive tone and volume. A band that Pete and I saw play using similar guitars is called Les Doigts de l'homme - we saw them at the Brussels Jazz Festival earlier this year. Pete bought one of their CDs and it's excellent. You can see a clip of them on YouTube.

And finally... I have found 2 new great bands - Deathcab for Cutie and Noir Desir. The best thing about finding established acts is that you can buy tons of back material if you like them - I did the same for Fleetwood Mac back in 1987ish and Barenaked Ladies in 1998ish.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

It's only words...

I saw this article on the BBC website and it's language related, following on from a recent post. The article has gathered favourite words along with their meaning. A few of them made me laugh and all made me ask the question how and why did these words come about?!

Defenestrate - To throw something out of a window.
Omphaloskepsis - is self-absorbed, naval-gazing.
Mallemaroking - the carousing of seamen in icebound ships [how many jokes could I make about this one?]
Tmesis - To break one word with another. For example: dis-bloomin-graceful, un-flippin-believable.
Ischial callosities - refers to the leather-like pads on a monkey's bum.
Petrichor - the sweet smell of rain on dry earth.
Tintinnabulation - describes a sound made by the ringing of a bell.
Borborygmus - the rumbling sound that comes from an empty stomach.
Slubberdegullion - means a worthless person. [you could imagine Mr Burns in the Simpsons using this and, in fact, when looking this up on the net, he did use it!]

Friday, 24 October 2008

South African MP's chair mishap

A quickie post on a dark and rainy morning in Hitchin - with something that is simply funny.

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Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Nice was nice but Cannes was not so nice

Well what an eventful few days it's been. Pete had to go to a sales conference in Cannes for the first 3 days of this week, so we used it as an excuse for a long weekend away... like we ever need an excuse.

Saturday 4.30am:
We got up very early and went to Luton Airport for the flight to Nice. We flew Easyjet as it was dirt cheap (less than £50 return) and arrived in a very warm Nice mid-morning. Using Priority Club points accumulated from our previous jobs, we enjoyed free 2 nights at the Holiday Inn (free upgrade too!). Although tired, we got a bus to Cap Ferrat and walked for a few hours looking at the multi-million Euro homes. We then returned to Nice, looked around the shops and had the odd beer, followed by a fine 3 course meal.

We got the train to Menton and had breakfast sitting in the sunshine, then walked around the town. There was a Triathlon event, so we watched the fit guys in Lycra for a while. After a beer (and Pete had tiramisu), we got the bus to Monaco. There was a major karting competition next to the main harbour - fast or what?! We had a good look around the Principality again and then got the train to Villefranche-sur-Mer which is a beautiful little town just down the coast where we had dinner - including more tiramisu for Pete. That night, I felt a twinge in my back top right teeth and within half an hour, pain had kicked in. I spent most of the night with my head against the marble bathroom wall as it was cool and soothing. I slept for around 3 hours and to my frustration, the various painkillers were not working!

The toothache was now a dull pain and we got the train to Cannes. We were staying (courtesy of Pete's employer) at the extremely impressive 5 star Majestic Hotel on La Croisette. Pete was working from lunchtime - ha ha - so I got a train to Grasse, way up in the mountains. I had a good walk around this medieval town and realised the toothache was getting worse and worse. I bought more painkillers, some teething gel and some Ibuprofen gel. None made much difference. The only way to reduce the pain was to hold cold water, or sometimes beer, in my mouth. Had a pizza in the evening between Pete's obligations. I overdosed on painkillers and managed to sleep.

I was flying at 5.50pm (Pete is coming back 24 hours later), so I had the day free. I'd intended to get a train to Les Arc, but the pain in my mouth was causing me concern now so I walked around Cannes, including up to the castle and the old town. At midday I had to go back to the hotel as the pain was too much. I was unsure whether to see a dentist then and there, but cold water was still keeping the throbbing pain at bay. I decided to fly home and see the dentist next day - the only problem was that I could not take water through customs and couldn't last 30 seconds without it. I was ****ed.

At 3pm, despite having to leave for the airport within the hour, I was sitting on the bathroom floor almost crying, so I called the Concierge and said "find me an English speaking dentist please!". Within 2 minutes, he called and said "come now, I have a map, they are waiting for you". I took my bag and ran to the dentists. 2 injections later, he found that a nerve that was touching a filling - no wonder the painkillers didn't work. The work hurt, but the injections were very welcome. At the end, the dentist shook my hand and said "why do you live in England where it rains so much and people work so hard? The sun will be shining here tomorrow - this is the place to live". He could be right.

I left the dentists 80 Euros poorer and got the bus to the Airport. The traffic was crap! Although I have my ticket, the gate was due to close at 5.20pm. I figured that I might just make it if the bus went to terminal 2 first. At 5.10 we encounter an accident - Police in tight trousers are everywhere, we are going nowhere fast. At 5.25 we get moving and straight to the other terminal!!! I arrive at Terminal 2 at 5.30 and run to departures. Luck was on my side for once today as the gate was right opposite the x-ray machines. I was the last passenger on the flight. STRESS!

Home in England, I manage some food for the first time since Pete stole a brioche for breakfast at the hotel. Slept for 9 hours solid.

All in all, an interesting few days...

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Big gay blog - The ugly ducklings

It's about time I posted another gay blog entry (i.e. an excuse to include some pictures of cute guys) so here's my take on the ugly duckling story. Take a couple of nerds and see how they have grown in such a short time...

Leon Jackson won the UK X-Factor Karaoke competition in 2007 and what a dorky looking guy he was back then!

The X Factor is a programme that I don't watch and I think it's made to appeal to people who don't have brains.

Anyway, his winning song and number 1 hit was an awful piece of dross called When you believe which failed to use his voice well at all. A year later and, to my great surprise, has a great new song and even better new image!

Another TV programme I have never seen is High School Musical starring Zac Efron. 21 year old Zac has also developed well and I think could be a big star if he plays some more mature roles. He's a bit old to be playing a schoolkid now and should show us he can actually act.

He also looks rather good here.

So when and how did these two guys become rather nice?! There could be stylists at work I think.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Scouting for girls - A review

A year ago (ish) a new band appeared on the scene called Scouting for girls. The first single had a little humour in it and was OK. Then I heard the other singles - and I find them a bit annoying. Each song starts the same, has a "witty" theme, which runs out of steam very quickly and a similar arrangement every time! The lyrics for the chorus for She's so lovely are:

She's so lovely She's so lovely
She's so lovely She's so lovely
She's so lovely She's so lovely
She's so lovely She's so lovely

I have nothing against choruses that have repeated words, but Scouting for girls do it far too often and the melodies sound alike. Also in She's so lovely (pronounced lov-eeerrrrlee in a Dick Van Dyke style) we get:

I don't know I don't know I don't know
How we'll make it through this How we'll make it through this How we'll make it through this
I don't know I don't know I don't know
I think that you are lovely (SEVEN TIMES)

The lyrics for the chorus for Elvis isn't dead are:

Elvis isn't dead Elvis isn't dead Elvis isn't dead
cause I heard him on the radio
Elvis isn't dead Elvis isn't dead Elvis isn't dead
and you're coming back to me I know
Elvis isn't dead Elvis isn't dead Elvis isn't dead
yes I heard him on the radio
Elvis isn't dead Elvis isn't dead Elvis isn't dead

Note the repeating lyrics again there! In fact, in the same song we get:

I wish it was me you chose I wish it was me you chose
I wish it was me you chose I wish it was me you chose

Rules for a Scouting for girls song:

- Must include the word heartbeat (pronounced 'haaaaart...biit' by the singer).
- Each of the singles starts with a piano intro that goes something like DUH DUH (pause) DUH DUH (pause) DUH DUH (pause and repeat). Why come up with something for original each song eh?!
- Chorus must repeat phrases over and over again where possible, the same melody.
- There must be a comedic aspect to the song.

Now go and enjoy your Scouting for girls CD! :-)

Sunday, 12 October 2008

England 5-1 Kazakhstan

I get so bored watching England games - dull tactics and endless pointly passing. We seem to encourage players to act differently to how they normally play, which results in mistakes. You rarely see Lampard or Cole making silly mistakes, but last night they made a few against Kazakhstan. But, we did win by a good margin even if the score flattered us. I cant recall the last game where 6 goals came in the second half. My player ratings:

James: 6
Brown: 6.5 [I'm not convinced he's good enough yet]
Ferdinand: 7
Upson: 6 [made some schoolboy errors]
A. Cole: 5 [seemed arrogant in his playing style]
Barry: 6 [seemed off colour in that position, but is so good looking, hence the picture]
Lampard: 7
Gerrard: 7.5
Walcott: 7.5 [played very well in patches by was pushed around a little]
Rooney: 7 first half, 9 second half [was out of position in first half]
Heskey: 8

Beckham: 7
Wright-Phillips: 6 [you can't run through people you idiot!]
Defoe: 6.5 [only on for a few

Player ratings from the press here

Friday, 10 October 2008

Radio ga ga

Further to my blog entry about the death of local radio, I had mentioned that Channel 4 had planned to launch a number of new DAB stations, hopefully with the intention of matching the quality of the BBC. That plan has been shelved. Oh well...

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Who the hell is...? - #2 The WAG

What do these footballers have in common?

1. They are all very ugly
2. They are all extrememly wealthy
3. They all have stunningly good looking wives

You can decide whether there is a link between facts 2 and 3 yourself. But to help you out a little, and by paraphrasing Mrs Merton. "So, what first attracted you to the pig ugly multi-millionaire footballer?"

The WAGs* just swan around like they have talent. Some even make money from it! How?! Why?! Who really thinks that these airheads have any talent? Some surveys have shown that young girls actually aspire to be like them! They are "famous" because they happen to have snagged an overpaid spoilt footballer. Celebrity culture annoys me! I am sure some are nice people...but.

Some of these women have been treated badly by their men (not all of them of course), but would you stay with a guy who slept with other women? Would you put up with someone who visited a whore when you were going out? Could you wake up in the morning to any of those faces staring back at you?!

And the point of this blog entry? Well, no great insights from me, it's mainly to show that I dont have much nice to say about the WAGs - nice people or not, it's a celebrity thing. But, this entry does give me the opportunity to post a picture of Mr Perfect to show how ugly those guys really are: Fernando Torres - what a shame he plays for Liverpool.

* wives and girlfriends

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Ich verstehe nur bahnhof

I am not a cunning linguist. I would love to learn another langauge and will get around to it one day - perhaps in a burst of intensive lessons. I am concerned as to whether I have the right kind of brain for languages, but we shall see.

In my last job I worked for a German company called MLP and over the years, with some people where English was not the first language, obviously mainly German. I worked with Dominic in the same office for a couple of years and he had this talent (I can see his head growing as he reads this) of hearing a word in English, understanding it's use and then remembering it - rarely having to ask about it again. What a git! I doubt I will ever pick language up like that.

My German kolleges would sometimes ask "is that the correct way to say...", knowing that they were usually correct anyway! Some times, I had to think carefully about the best English word or phrase. At those times, you really begin to appreciate how complex language is. For example, using one word or another comes naturally, but when you analyse it closely, you realise there is often no clear reason why XXXX is better than YYYY... it just is the right word! Some crazy English:

The bandage was wound around the wound.
The farm was used to produce produce.
The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

During my time working for a German company, I learnt very little of the language and I regret that. But, I did learn a few stock phrases and my favourite is "Ich verstehe nur bahnhof".

This was taught to me by Lutz (an ex- colleague in Wiesloch) and translates as "I understand only station"... which is meaningless of course. But when you consider a tourist who is listening to a train announcement of locations a train may stop at, all he picks up is "bahnhof" i.e. he can only understand the word "station" of the announcement. In other words, the English version would be "I don’t understand anything" or "it's all Greek to me" or "it's all double dutch".

This blog entry is dedicated to Dominic and Marco (the two smiling guys in the picture) and the lovely Kerstin, who together proved all German stereotypes wrong.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Boys to Men... kidults

No, it's not a another gay blog entry. This is something that both Pete and I have noticed in recent years and witnessed on the train yesterday - grown men (mainly in their 30's) dressing and acting like teenagers. I'm not sure whether this is just a UK phenomenon, but it seems that it's widespread. The rules for inclusion in this idiot group are:

  • Wearing clothes that suit someone at least 15 years younger.
  • Hairstyle that also suits someone at least 15 years younger.
  • Getting blind drunk several times a week, including one night out clubbing.
  • Being loud, obnoxious and abusive to friends and even more so to strangers.
  • Treating their children like 'mates', rather than being a role model.
  • Too much chunky gold jewellery.
  • Wearing football shirts to the pub (preferably Manchester United, despite never having been to Manchester or to Old Trafford).
  • Playing crap music at high volume (potentially music they don't really like anyway) from the car and at home.
Other possible actions signifying UK-man-boy are: driving a 4x4, pierced ears, maybe a little vandalism and expensive trainers.

The strange thing is, many of these idiots probably have responsible jobs and should know better. Perhaps it's just another example of Britain having a scummy underclass, this sub-group being the kidults.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Badoo, iphone, but no Britney Spears

This week, I did a little research into search engines and how my blog could show up on searches. It's really complicated!!! I've been exposed to crawlers, bots, sitemaps, atoms, rss and other terms that make no sense to me at all. I am no internet code wizard.

However, in the unlikely event that keywords and tags in this site will get a googlebot interested, I thought I would see what the world was searching for. The latest Google stats are from 2007 and although there are peaks in the year - the World Cup being one, here are the top 10. I had to look some of them up to find out what they were.

1. iphone - I would have been surprised if it wasn't there.
2. badoo - To my surprise I don't know what it is! Well,
badoo is a "multi-lingual social networking website".
3. facebook - Doesn't everyone have an account already on this social networking website?!
4. dailymotion - Not what I first thought it might be... it appears to be a Youtube ripoff.
5. webkinz - Yet another site I'd not heard of. This time
webkinz is a toy that also has it's own virtual web presence. All looks very clever and a marketing dream!
6. youtube - We all know this one.
7. ebuddy - Is new to me and is a web and mobile messenger.
8. second life - It's for sad loners who want to escape to another world isn't it?
9. hi5 - Yet another social networking website and is huge is some countries.
10. club penguin - This is a Disney site that is a virtual world aimed at kids, who will one day become sad loners who want to escape to another world

So it seems that social networking and video are big on the 'net at the moment. In 2005, Britney Spears and 50 Cent were tops on every search engine - how times change. With all these great keywords now in my blog, I'll be a top search on Google right??!?.... errrm no, I don't think I will somehow.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

The great M25 conspiracy

I seem to spend a lot of time on the M25 in my job - during much of that time I appear not to be moving very fast. In fact, during Monday and Tuesday of this week I spent 3 hours on that goddamn road crawling along watching my "instant fuel consumption" readout instantly prove that it's not the most fuel efficient way to travel.

During this weeks fun journeys and the many in recent months, I have noticed that the radio travel reports often omit the M25. The road has to be in a really bad way to warrant a mention.

On one occasion, I wasn't moving for a good 30 minutes - the road was completely gridlocked. Yet, no traffic reports were given. This week it took me an hour and a half to travel the 28 miles on the M25 from the A1M to the M4 junctions. And all they said on the radio was that the M25 was a running a little slow.

So, is there a conspiracy here? Perhaps the longest ring road in the world (and arguably the most important road in the UK) causes the authorities so much embarrassment that they want it's ineffectiveness to be hushed up!

Before you say, "why not take another route?" - well, I do when I can, even with the horrendous delays, it's often quicker than cross country roads. And my final word on this topic - try driving in France and see how much better their roads are.