Thursday, 27 November 2008

A Christmas Story

I'm stealing this story directly from my friend Matt.

Because I can. :)

Anyway, our Matt was visiting his parents the other weekend and what with it being within four months of Christmas he got asked to write his Christmas list. Matt's a fairly self-sufficient type and doesn't like to make a fuss so just wrote 'Father Ted Box Set'.

"You have to write something more than that," his mother said after looking at it.

So he wrote 'World Peace' underneath.

The next day his parents were going shopping and his father found the piece of paper Matt made his list on.

"Is this Matthew's Christmas List?" he asks, showing top-notch observing skills.

"Yes," says Matt's mother.

Matt's father gets out his reading glasses and peers down at the list for several minutes. He sighs and takes a deep breath before looking up at his wife and asking:

"Are they *both* on DVD?"

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Sobering TV....

It's often said by people in this country that Americans are dumb asses.

This isn't true. For a start, my other half is extremely clever.

However, many Americans are dumb asses - just like many people in every other country.

I was reminded of this fact while watching an extremely interesting programme last night about the astonishingly high level of national debt in America (here for UK based people only). It was made by the person who actually signs off the national accounts (sort of like head of the National Audit Office here) so had some gravitas. It also included contributions from several former Treasury Secretaries as well as Warren Buffet (the richest man on the planet).

The conclusion was that a) we're all fucked, b) the Chinese own our asses and c) we're all fucked.

Anyway, as part of the programme they did a series of vox-pops where they asked several random people three questions. The questions were:

What do you understand by the term 'Trade Deficit'?
What is the national debt?
How much do you save?

Obviously the ones shown were selected for their 'duuuuuuuuh' facial expressions (after all, why make a programme about educating people on the debt if they already know about it), but one girl in particular stood out.

Her answers were:

'Errrr......I dunno'
'Errrr......about three billion???' (only ten trillion out, my dear)

and my favourite,

'What? Like money and stuff?'

Fantastic. Especially 'and stuff' as if somehow the programme makers wanted to know how many nectar points she had. Dumb girl in a turquoise t-shirt, I salute you! :)

Saturday, 22 November 2008

What's the point in being a racehorse, if you never get to go on a racecourse?

Deep words of wisdom there from the band I went to see tonight - the Beatnik Filmstars.

Actually they were really good (cracking version of Champion The Wonder Horse) and I felt all rock'n'roll sitting in a comfy velvet seat drinking a cup of tea.

Let me explain - tea because I'm not drunk any alcohol for 328 days obviously, and a plush velvet seat because I saw them at an artsy place that doubles as a cinema. I was most disappointed not to get a choc-ice between the support acts and the main band.

(As an aside, you cannot get access to the building unless you're a member of the collective. Lifetime membership costs £1. Awesome.)

The first support act were a band called Countryside who helpfully gave away free copies of their CD in the foyer in the hope they'd get a free beer. Somehow I think they'll go on to better things.

The old work-colleague I was with tonight (coincidentally a Beatnik Filmstars member's brother) had stayed in the foyer for an extra drink so we missed the start of the second support act, which the barmaid helpfully described as 'Ruth with her bells'.


We snuck into the side of the auditorium and grabbed the nearest available seat. On stage was a woman playing a bass guitar. To a tape of another bass guitar. After 5 minutes of some serious bass-on-bass action, she put down her guitar - and both basses carried on playing. To say I was non-plussed was an understatement. It appeared we were watching an accomplished bass mime-artist. She then played a theramin.

This was fucking weird.

For her next song it started to make more sense, she'd play one bass line, record it and then play it back on a loop while adding a second bass line, then record that and so on and so on...

So if listening to three bass lines at once, overlayed with alternately a theramin, some bells and a mouth organ is your thing - then google 'Ruth'.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

What I learnt today... that if you have one of those fancy new laptops with fingerprint recognition, don't cut the end off the only finger you've configured for access. This would be considered 'inopportune'.

Anyway, I went to see the new Bond film last night (it's alright really. I don't particularly understand the negative reviews it's got - unbelievable plot? It's a BOND film. Not as much character depth as Sophie's Choice? It's a BOND film, and at least the right people die. In fact my only criticism was the Bond girl*).

Dotted within the 30 minutes of ads and sponsors were numerous utterly baffling moments. Picture the scene (if you will), Person X has paid a not inconsiderable sum to watch a film which - in all probability - Person X has not seen yet. Person X knows that the main character in this film has a 'favourite'** watch, mobile, pen, car, condom etc etc etc. However, is it REALLY necessary to have an advert for his preferred watch that is simply one minute of clips of a film YOU ARE ABOUT TO SIT AND WATCH followed by a picture of a watch. And then again, for his preferred mobile phone. And then again, for the computer game of the film THAT YOU HAVEN'T FUCKING WELL SEEN YET?

Every single scene had a moment in it when you thought 'aha! This is the bit where he jumps on the motorbike' (or whatever) because the pre-film adverts had shown it to you. Damned odd behaviour if you ask me.

Next time I'm turning up late and hoping to just catch the film! :)

*If Bond could do Diana Rigg then would he really let Olga Whatsernameko get away with just a snog? I think not.
**And a 'favourite' amount of money they deposit in the producer's bank account.

Monday, 17 November 2008


It's not often I'm lost for words really. In fact those that know me in real life probably wish I was dumbstruck more often. Like I was this lunchtime.

Y'see I'd gone to the Post Office to send some Obama t-shirts to certain members on my family who'd asked me to pick them up last week. I'd reasoned that we were still far enough away from Christmas that I wouldn't be caught in the parcel queue, but was dismayed to find that the nearest Post Office is nigh on a mile from where I work (and I work a stone's throw from one of the busiest train stations in the country). So a queue was inevitable. Ah well.

15 minutes later I am in a queue of ten people being served by two counter staff. Result! Should be in and out in a few minutes, I thought. Or not, as it turned out.

The first few people whizzed through, doing normal things like sending a letter to Australia or wanting lots of stamps for Christmas cards. Even the poor Jordanian student sending a package to his parents and (probably justifiably) paranoid that the police would open it didn't take long (in all likelihood the parcel would only get blown up if it was going to Brazil...)

And then the lady three people in front of me reached the counter. She produced a shoebox from a bag and announced to all and sundry that she'd just sold this pair of shoes on ebay and didn't know how to post it.

The twenty or so people in the queue glanced briefly at the clock, then at each other, then returned to watch the fun. The cashier looked bemused. "What do you mean, how do you post it?", he asked.

"Well," she said, "I want to sent it recorded delivery but don't know if you're supposed to wrap it or I'm supposed to."

"You are," said the cashier with a facial expression of confused vacancy that Ben Affleck would've killed for.

"Oh," said the lady - whom I'd have guessed at late 20's/early 30's - "do you have any paper then? And be quick, I'm in a hurry to get back to work."

My jaw, along with those of the now 25 people stuck behind this woman, dropped.

By the time I'd reached the other cashier, and was weighing my parcel, the lady had (without leaving the queue) taken an A4 manila envelope from the neighbouring shelf and tried TO FIT A SHOEBOX IN IT, surprisingly failed, borrowed some sellotape and scissors from the cashier and had then taped the envelope to the top of the box.

She then rather brilliantly asked if she had to fill in the address or whether the cashier would?

Because clearly she was in the fucking psychic queue.

However, the best was to come - by now over 30 people were grinding their teeth at being held up for over 20 minutes of their lunch break behind this gurning simpleton, and the cashier could sense that the mood was turning ugly. As I walked out past her the cashier politely asked her to continue wrapping her parcel to one side and then rejoin the queue to post it.

She turned slowly and looked at the length of glowering people before replying, "oh no, I'm not joining that queue. I have to be back at work in 5 minutes."

And with 1.8million people unemployed, someone gave this woman a job. The mind boggles.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Thursday, 13 November 2008

So good they named it twice

New York then....

I like the place (in the main). I love how each block is a kind of city-state in itself, how you can pass a block in which every person is clearly desperately poor, then one where they're well off, then back to poor etc. There's less 'areas' than a UK city, and the split in New York is equally along racial lines as it is along class lines - a Russian block becomes a Turkish block, becomes an Azerbaijani block, becomes an Armenian block, becomes a Russian block again, and so on.

Maybe it's the dull and predictable street layout* that produces such a mindset.

Anyway, this time we stayed in an area called Sheepshead Bay which is the south-eastern tip of Brooklyn and (apart from things like boats and water) was quite pretty. It certainly made a pleasant change from the warzone I accidentally booked us into last time.

I wasn't there long enough for us to do much beyond hang out and have a good time, watch some films, order a vast amount of food and check out a few local restaurants - of which the majority were sushi bars (and Mrs. Red Squirrel no likee fishee).

We did walk past one more 'american'** bar that didn't appear to serve food but still decided to take up a quarter of it's window space with a poster proclaiming 'NO SUSHI'. Either it was a bar frequented by fanatical animal rights protesters or a thinly veiled request to keep those pesky orientals out. The other window held the following gem of a poster (picture courtesy of my dear girlfriend ;-) ):

(I'm especially impressed by a) the sawn-off shotgun bit (normal shotguns not wanted) and b) the maximum payment as if someone might 'accidentally' find 12 assault rifles in the spare room.)

Seeing as this was the only window displaying this poster, I'm guessing 'NO SUSHI' wasn't a food critique.....

*57th Street and Y Avenue. Boring.
**By this I mean stereotypically redneck

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Not a morning person....

My favourite way to wake up

Slowly drifting awake about 10am on a weekend with sun filtering through the curtains (but not actually on the bed to make it too hot) with the soft relaxing feeling that comes from knowing that you have nothing at all to do today and can go back to sleep for a few hours. This is even improved with your love curled up next to you, provided that she is not snoring.

My least favourite way to wake up

In a hotel in Tokyo in a blind panic because the ambulance outside your window has the exact same siren as the UK Civil Defense warning that meant a nuclear bomb was on the way. This may even make you nakedly run to your hotel window and frantically look out like some kind of flashing mime artiste.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

I got back from New York this morning and am going to bed in a minute. I guess not eating and running about like a maniac for an hour in extremely cold weather has contributed to me feeling utterly zonked.

So please excuse me if I skip posting about what I got up to (without going into too much detail *ahem*) for now. Maybe tomorrow ;-)

I will say that the flight back was terrible. Not only did a glitch in British Airways' self-service check-in system mean that every single person had to queue for the 'Fast Bag Drop' line - this kind of negates the concept of a 'Fast Bag Drop' line really - but the pilot nearly stuffed the landing up, leaving us weaving down the runway on 2 wheels with all the grace of a drunken duck landing on a frozen pond.

Add to this that the aforementioned glitch meant I was seated in the middle of a row. On my left was a middle-aged woman who repeatedly requested The Daily Mail to read from the cabin crew (sample headline: 'How Europe wastes YOUR money teaching Finns to dance'). The Daily Heil. Jesus wept.

On my right was a plastic barbie Jewish Princess type who spent the entire flight alternately reading a fashion magazine or sleeping with her mouth open while snoring like a trooper. I was SO tempted to add a bit of drool using my teaspoon but didn't want to get in any trouble. She also handily brought her own cashmere pillow and blanket (matching of course) and refused any food because it wasn't 'kosher enough.' I would've had some sympathy too, if the ultra-orthodox Hasidim mother and daughter chubfest behind me hadn't wolfed theirs down in seconds. When it's kosher enough to be eaten by them (and the rabbi on the flight) then I'm guessing it's kosher enough for anyone.

The duo behind me also spent the entire flight talking loudly to one another in Yiddish. 'Ear-splitting volume' sort of loudly. Yiddish is actually fairly close to German so I was able to follow some of it, and nasty spiteful bile it was about each and everyone.

All in all it was the middle-class flight from Hell.

Now excuse me, one needs to sleep!

Wednesday, 5 November 2008


I've finally finished working stupid hours so spent last weekend relaxing.

By relaxing, I mean I drove to London on Saturday to watch The Mighty Spurs absolutely *thrash* lowly Liverpool (and coincidentally win some money off of weenie :) ) and then popped into a Halloween party and then got home at 2am.

But I took it easy on Sunday.

By taking it easy, I mean I watched Lewis Hamilton win the F1 world championship, England humbled in the 20/20 Cricket Porn, and some documentary about penguins until the early hours.

But I've chilled out this week.

By chilled out I mean I've been out every night doing stuff and am flying off to New York on Friday to see ze girlfriend - which should be fun :)

Actually, watching the Grand Prix live on Sunday afternoon did make my week. If you haven't seen it, the Brazilian guy in a Ferrari won the race (and at that point the World Championship) and his team in the pits were jumping up and down and hugging his family. Tears were shed. Sadly, 20 seconds later Lewis Hamilton overtook someone on the final bend to finish 5th and then he'd won the World Championship instead.

Cue frankly hilarious scenes as the Ferrari pit crew were still celebrating, the TV cut to the McLaren pit who were then celebrating, then back to the Ferrari pit as someone ran over and said 'sorry old beans, t'other chap pipped him at the end'. The look on their faces was worth every penny of the intense frustration of having to put up with adverts in the middle of the races for the last 12 years! :-D

It even inspired a picture:

Sunday, 2 November 2008


That's me, so rather than write something I thought I'd direct you all to my new favourite website - The Daily Mash

In fact this story is something I couldn't agree with more :)

A group of us doing A-Levels used to write something similar that was considered mildly amusing by those that read it. Wish we'd had the internet back in the day....

I promise to write something properish tomorrow.