Thursday, 30 September 2010

One swallow

Pete and I rarely watch ITV. It's dumb-down television and there is little worth watching it seems. However, Pete suggested that we watch a drama called Downton Abbey a few nights ago.

Despite being written by a great writer and actor Julian Fellowes, the story was rather obvious and laboured to me.  It's yet another drama based on the times when the 'big houses' had layers of servants and the upper class acted like they were far superior to those that cleaned for them.

So we were wondering why we were watching the programme when out of nowhere came a gay scene. A cute servant, played by the cute Rob James-Collier and the Duke played by sweet Charlie Cox (from the excellent Stardust) kissed passionately.  What a pleasant surprise!

The best part was when the Duke was trying to say that the time they spent together was just a fling, with the line "one swallow doesn’t make a summer".  Very tongue in cheek I think. 

But in true ITV fashion, the scene moved on too fast and within a minute there was blackmail and the two hated each other!  I will keep an eye out to see whether there is some more boy on boy action in future episodes.

By the way, Pete and I saw Charlie Cox in a Pinter play a while back - he's a great actor.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

George Carlin

As I have said before, the older I get, the less faith I have in faith and am constantly angered by religious people who pick and choose from the Bible to suit themselves.  I no longer believe and a description of religion I heard the other day sums up my view perfectly... "religion is nothing more than superstition".  

I like the late George Carlin - he speaks a lot of truth and is also funny.  I recommend that you watch the whole video, but before you view it, ask yourself a related religious question:  does anyone really think that the world is 10,000 years old?


And I like it so much, here is a link to a transcript - the first paragraph is brilliant.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Blue and green

Something from our meeting last Thursday that I forgot to mention...

My manager held a blue stress ball in his hand, ready to throw to someone in the room, forcing them to answer a question, before throwing it to someone else...  he stood there and said "it's been a while since I had blue balls".

We laughed like teenage boys, especially as he didn't have a clue why we were giggling.

And something else that made me laugh - did these guys not realise how revealing these outfits were?

Saturday, 25 September 2010


A quick summary of the past week...

On Tuesday evening, Pete and I went to the local theatre to watch a performance of Neil Simons "California Suite" which features 4 stories in the same suit in a Los Angeles hotel.  Given that our local actors are amateurs, it was an excellent performance.  The first act fell a little flat, but the others were laugh-out loud.  In places it's more like a British farce than a US play.

On Wednesday I flew to Edinburgh for work and had a lovely meal in the evening.  The full day of presentations on Thursday was followed by a delay to the flight home.  I have taken this Easyjet flight a few times now and every time I have been delayed.

Let me also comment on Luton Airport.  It seems to me that cost cutting and poor management lead the way at Luton.  The traffic management is amazingly bad and the wait to get from the car park to the airport gets longer and longer.  They charge you to drop people off, they charge for trolleys and they charge for a faster route through customs.  And to top that, the normal customs check area was packed with people and only one x-ray machine working.

Despite being knackered, early on Friday I got a train to London for a product launch by my employer.  It should have been the whole day, but the afternoon topics were not relevant, so a few of us ducked out after lunch.  The location was one of the impressive old trade halls in The City.  The area is littered by these very old buildings that I assume rely on old money to keep them going.

And to ensure that you have something nice to look at while reading my diary, here's a yummy guy that sort of jumped out at me on another site.  What a body...

Thursday, 23 September 2010


I have made it to 400 blog entries!

Who would have thought that it would last this long?

Sometimes I wonder why reader numbers don't alter much, whether anyone is actually looking at my blog and why comments don't flood it.  But then I figure that I do this as much for myself as for other people.  So thanks to my regular visitors for deciding to return time and again to read these rantings of a madman.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Top tracks - Barenaked Ladies

Like most people, I first heard about Barenaked Ladies when One Week was a hit in 1998 and I bought the album the track came from called Stunt. To my surprise, the album had nothing similar in style but had well crafted songs with an acoustic feel.

Over the next few months I purchased their 3 other albums and discovered some wonderful music including Brian Wilson and The Old Apartment.  I have immediately bought the subsequent releases on the day that they are released.

The band is Canadian and built up a strong following in their homeland before international success and genuinely seem to enjoy what they do.  Last year, singer-songwriter Steven Page left the band after 20 years, but they regrouped and recently released All In Good Time.  I was sceptical that they could maintain the quality without Steven Page, but the album is pretty good.

I have seen them live 5 times (the first time at Glastonbury) and they are one of the best live acts I have seen.  Not only are they great musicians, but they are witty too.  Their adlib songs can be brilliant, though not always.

The 25 songs that I have selected cover their whole career:
  1. Brian Wilson (Gordon)
  2. One Week (Stunt)
  3. Too Little Too Late (Maroon)
  4. The Old Apartment (Born On A Pirate Ship)
  5. Wind It Up (Barenaked Ladies Are Me - Deluxe Edition)
  6. Pinch Me (Maroon)
  7. Straw Hat And Old Dirty Hank (Born On A Pirate Ship)
  8. Alcohol (Stunt)
  9. Easy (Barenaked Ladies Are Me - Deluxe Edition)
  10. Aluminium (Everything To Everyone)
  11. Break Your Heart (Born On A Pirate Ship)
  12. Jane (Maybe You Should Drive)
  13. What A Good Boy (Gordon)
  14. Maybe Not (Barenaked Ladies Are Me - Deluxe Edition)
  15. Every Subway Car (All In Good Time)
  16. Be My Yoko Ono (Gordon)
  17. You Run Away (All In Good Time)
  18. Falling For The First Time (Maroon)
  19. Maybe Katie (Everything To Everyone)
  20. If I Had $1000000 (Gordon)
  21. It's All Been Done (Stunt)
  22. Upside Down (Everything To Everyone)
  23. Baby Seat (Maroon)
  24. Call And Answer (Stunt)
  25. Another Postcard (Everything To Everyone)
Here is a link to the iTunes mix, so you can hear snippets of the tracks (except for the 3 tracks from Barenaked Ladies Are Me that do not appear on iTunes in the UK for some strange reason).

Other 'best of' entries for other artists can be found here.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Pieces of paper

On Sunday, Pete and I spent the day in Cambridge with a series of events linked by bits of paper...

Piece 1 - A postit note featuring the scrawl "Grafham Road" which is a place in Cambridge where you can park free on Sunday that was typed into the Satnav.  Traffic and parking in Cambridge is a nightmare, which is why we usually get the train.  On arrival we went shopping.

Piece 2 - Printout of the cinema tickets we had purchased online.  We went to see Scott Pilgrim vs. the World which is a crazy film.  I think I enjoyed it, but I'm still not sure!  A few funny lines though when Scott is talking to his 17 years old girlfriend...

Knives Chau:  I've never even kissed a guy before.
Scott Pilgrim:  Hey... me neither.

Piece 3 - A Google map showing the walking route from the cinema to Ask restaurant.

Piece 4 - A voucher for Ask that provided us with a three course meal for £12.95 each.  Bargain!

Piece 5 - Printout as proof of purchase to pick up tickets to see Barenaked Ladies at the Cambridge Corn Exchange.

The gig was excellent, as always, and they didn't miss Steven Page who left the group a while back too much.  They played a lot of their rockier songs and a great time was had by all.  The old Corn Exchange is a strange venue that I am sure could suck the atmosphere from lesser groups. 

In the next blog posting, I will continue the series of 'top tracks' with a rundown of my favourite BNL songs.

Saturday, 18 September 2010


In 1970, Woburn Safari Park opened in Bedfordshire. Also in 1970, I was born.  This lucky coincidence meant that I got free entry to the park today by showing my passport!   Pete and his mum came along and we had a great time driving past the wild animals and letting the monkey walk all over the car.

Tomorrow is also an entertainment filled day... more to follow the next time I post a blog entry!

In the meantime, here are some pictures from today.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

September Movie Update

Here are the films that Pete and I have received from and watched on TV and DVD over the past month, in reverse order, with my ratings out of ten from my movie list on IMDB.
  It's been a busy few weeks!

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time   4
Far too much CGI and very strange accents throughout with the characters constantly explaining what was going on to each other.  Bad.

Cloverfield  7*

Brothers  7
Depressing, but a thought provoking story.

The First Day of the Rest of Your Life  8
Great French film focusing on several generations of one family.  Cute actors too!

Edge of Seventeen  7
Gay film with a silly story, but fun to watch anyway.

The Lovers on the Bridge  2
Classic French film?  No!

A Handful of Dust  7

The Fluffer  6
Another gay film that couldn't decide whether it was funny or serious.

Amadeus  8

Avatar  8
Far better than I thought it would be.  Pretty good fantasy film.

Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!  5
I like Almodovar, but this was not good at all.

Went the Day Well?  7
Classic war film, surprisingly violent for the time it was made in 1942.

Manhattan  6
I know that I am meant to love this - I thought it was adequate.

Phone Booth  8

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus  7
Terry Gilliam is mad.

The Girl from Paris  7

Private Fears in Public Places  5

Kingdom of Heaven  4
Felt like it went on for several days.  Looked stunning, but I wouldn't recommend.

The Damned United  7
Excellent docu-drama about old big 'ed.

* Viewed before

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Zero tolerance

When I was 14, just 3 days before Christmas day, a drunk driver smashed into my mum's car causing horrendous injuries - she was lucky not to lose a leg.  She had massive scarring, two broken legs, broken ribs, lost a knee cap and still walks with a slight limp two decades later.

It was a horrible time for the first few days, especially Christmas day.  The next year was a struggle for my mum and it took her a long time to get her confidence and vigour back.  The piece of scum that caused the accident got away with a short ban and fine.

I saw the car shortly after and it was a complete wreck (it was probably a mistake seeing it in hindsight) and today I thought back to that day when I heard about George Michael driving while stoned.  I have no sympathy for drunk drivers or those who have taken any type of drug.  They are low selfish people who give no thought to the consequences and should be banned for far longer and imprisoned in some cases.  They are, after all, in charge of a machine that can easily kill.

George has been a fool, but he is not alone, young men think that taking drugs and driving is less serious than drinking.  They are very wrong.

Monday, 13 September 2010

West end and beyond

On Saturday morning at 8.15, Pete and I set off for a day in London.  We hadn't intended going that early, but we were awake and decided to get the 8.30 train.

After a coffee at St Pancras station (worth a visit in its own right), we went to the Magnificent Maps exhibition at the British Library as it is ending soon.  It is a fascinating exhibition with maps from all over the world, some 500 years old.  Once finished there, we looked at the Magna Carta and original lyrics by Lennon and McCartney.  Both worthy inclusions at the British Library I am sure!

I noted a creased poster for Wonderland magazine featuring Zac Efron on the cover.  I swear that he is getting sexier as he gets older.

After that we got a bus to Oxford street for a very quick look in some specific shops then another bus to Sloane Square. We ambled down the King's Road, taking in the new Saatchi Gallery (that must have cost millions to set up).  Pete was particularly impressed by the 'Cher Guevara' image. 

After the trendy shops and Conran restaurant is a cafe called the Mona Lisa.  Pete and I have been there many times, though I haven't been for a while.  It's a clever cafe that transforms itself from 'greasy spoon' to value-for-money restaurant during the day.  Before Chelsea home games, you cant get a table but today just had local posh types and possibly the most camp guy I have ever seen, who Pete found very annoying.

I tried an app on my new iphone that has a stock of old photographs that you can use to compare to the current buildings and street layout using the GPS system.  It sort of worked, but I didn't get a good overlapping image to share with you.

We had a look around the posh charity shops before heading back to the west end via St James's park, Jermyn Street and Fopp in Covent Garden.  We sat in the sunshine with a coffee for quite a while before walking slowly to Kings Cross for a train home.  We arrived back exhausted around 8pm.

Although there were plenty of people around, the areas we visited didn't seem as busy as you would expect and the traffic was also flowing well.  Strange.

One final thing. Some place and road names in London are interesting with their own convoluted history.  One that I have seen a number of times and never considered is the street called Petty France.

I have found out that, during the 15th century a load of French traders would visit London and camp in the fields that are now the streets next to St James's Park.  The area was so packed with French people that it became known as Little France or... Petit France.  A corruption over time has meant that SW1 features a street called Petty France.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Extremely fine art

Many moons ago, an ex-colleague contributed a guest posting to my blog.  His talented wife, Maryam Foroozanfar is an amazing artist who takes months to construct paintings that will surprise and impress you. You can find details on her web site.

Pete and I are pleased to say that we have one of the few prints of a Foroozanfar is our house and has pride of place near the front door.  

Maryam has featured in the National Portrait Gallery in London and has been a finalist in the prestigious BP Portrait Award.  A couple of years ago, all around London were posters for the event featuring one of Maryam's works, a painting of Konjit who we both used to work with.

If you are in London and get a chance to go to the National Portrait Gallery on Trafalgar Square, you wont be disappointed by the BP award rooms (and entry is free!).  You only have a week to go however.  Apart from Maryams entry, my personal favourites are these two by Lyndsey Jameson and Miichal Ozibko.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Sungha Jung

A long while ago I posted about this kid called Sungha Jung who is an amazing guitar player - starting out at the age of 7.

Well, he's growing up and at the ripe old age of 14 is playing original music. He is so talented and has such a wonderful touch and rhythm. Here is a recent movie that he made (lots more on YouTube).

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Him & Her

We watched the new comedy from BBC3 called ‘Him and Her’ the other night (recorded on the Sky Player) and we managed a whole 7 minutes before switching it off.
It had started well but when a comedy resorts to severe toilet ‘humour’ so early to get a laugh, you know it’s going to struggle. Toilet humour appears to be used when the writer doesn’t know where to go. It is lazy writing.
I was disappointed to witness an actress on the toilet, complete with sound effects. I feel sorry that she was expected to do that and cant quite believe that a comedy writer and production team thought that it was acceptable on television, let alone funny.  I like comedy and I like shocking comedy that surprises me. The opening scene of ‘Him & Her’ however, was amateurish and a complete turn off.
I pity Russell Tovey for getting involved as he is a great actor.  BBC comedy can be outstanding, this one wasn't for me.

Let me end by saying that I'm not one of those stupid idiotic moaners that say that "the BBC is wasting my licence fee and I wont pay it blah blah blah".  The BBC excels at producing top end TV and radio and you cant like everything that they do... no-one can.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Pete's life

For the record, living with Pete is never dull.  Last night we went to Prezzo using a 50% "off all food" voucher that was posted to Facebook and he had spoken of little else all day.

With this in mind, here is a graphical representation of Pete's life...

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Five on the fifth #15

Welcome to 5 on the fifth, a monthly posting that benefits from audience participation. You take 5 photographs on the 5th of the month (or the days leading up to the 5th) - post a comment here with your name, location and link to the site containing your photos and I will update the blog entry with your information. Remember to mention my blog on your own blog, so that your visitors get to see the other contributions. You can take 5 random pictures or follow my suggested theme - this month it is: "The Blues".

You can join the 5 on the fifth Facebook page here.

My own pictures are below the links of those who kindly contributed:
My Time, Dublin
New Leaf, Arizona
Daniel, Sweden
Adam, Berlin
Matt, Utah
Pete, UK
WannabeVirginia W, Ontario
Jason, Brighton
Dennis, Southeast England
Mr Urs, Zurich

Howard, Delaware
Michael, Minneapolis
I am witness
Andrew, Bristol

Torchy, England
David, Brighton
Erik, San Diego

For my pictures, I have started with a couple of Blues related images, then moved on to random images including a strange double sun in the sky...

Friday, 3 September 2010

Beautiful guys

Abercrombie and Fitch make some really cool clothes, but they are expensive.  They are especially pricey in the UK compared to the ticket prices in the USA.

The thing I love and hate in equal measures is the use of the beautiful people in their stores.  These guys are great to look at, but you wonder why someone should be employed simply because of their genes.  There have been a few legal challenges to their approach of 'natural selection'; survival of the fit dudes.

I find it offputting and a little embarrassing when I am in one of their stores, despite the nice views.  How shallow are we as human beings to be impressed with a store partially because they employ people who are lucky with their looks?  
Is this a serious post or an excuse for more guy pictures?  You decide.

This was taken at the opening of the London store a couple of years ago...

Here is Pete in San Francisco from earlier this summer...

And finally, a t-shirt that I saw the other day that made me laugh...

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Homer rules

Clearing out some photos I found this image.  Although Bart is seen as the main character in The Simpsons, we all know that it's Homer that is the best character on television.

Classic artwork that was my screensaver for a while...

Don't forget that the next "5 on the fifth" is a few days away. Just take 5 random pictures of something that happens to you on the 5th of September (or the days leading up to it) or perhaps go for my suggested theme. This month, the theme is The Blues.

You can join the 5 on the fifth Facebook page here.