Monday, July 31, 2006

That Didn't Work Out So Well

When I went shopping at Sainsbury's, the other day, I found a lot of vegetables marked down, because they had reached their sell by date. There is a meal I haven't made for a while, because I haven't wanted to buy all the ingredients. It's the vegetables that are costly. Some of the ingredients, like pasta and canned tuna, I have on hand. While in Sainsbury's, I discovered two of the vegetables I needed were marked down to 20 Pence. The recipe usually calls for a third, green peppers, which weren't on sale. I have previously experimented with using red and yellow peppers instead and that worked out. There were some sort of hot peppers marked down to 20 Pence, as well, so I thought I would try using those instead, since I like spicy foods.
This recipe is one of my specialties, the Lucas Memorial Pasta Salad. It was named after Kelly Lucas, my first ex-fiancee, who taught it to me. I have often made this dish on a Sunday, so last night I decided to make it, as I needed to use the vegetables before they went bad. I prepared and cooked things, as required. I sat down to eat it and discovered that whatever these peppers I had used were, they were way too hot for this dish. I ended up needing to drink water and that's saying a lot, as I usually like very hot foods. I usually eat the whole bit I cook in one sitting, but I decided to save half for lunch today. I have eaten it now. I won't be using those peppers again.
Last night, I was in the Iain Lee Forum, when Habiba came into the chat room. She and I had a nice chat, although other people in the room were also trying to talk to her, so she would be distracted, at times. The more I talk with her, the more I like her. This was a nice follow-up to talking to her on Iain's show, last week.

An MP3 of Me!

The conquest of all media continues! Pauly in the Morden, who is a regular reader of my blog, has recorded an MP3 of one of my articles, over a musical background. It's so funny! Check out his dramatic reading at his Myspace page, here:
I just got off the air with James Max, on LBC 97.3, London. (Sky Channel 0177 or internet at: ) James claims I am his favorite caller and I was his first caller, this evening. James was talking about people being late to work and asked what excuses people have used. When I called, I told his producer I am often late and that I wanted to tell James about my best excuse. It was back when I was married and working as a travel agent. I used to regularly volunteer to work Sundays at the agency call centre, because then I got Saturday off. My evil ex-wife, the Black Queen, used to spend all day Sunday at her mother, which was closer to where I worked than it was to where we lived. She would drop me off at work, then spend the day with my evil ex-mother-in-law, then pick me up and take me back to the in-laws for dinner. So, this one Sunday, I was late and the manager on duty, as usual, asked me why I was late. I told him the truth...I was having sex with my wife. The Black Queen was in the mood and I wasn't about to miss out. The manager chuckled and said no more about it. As any married man will tell you, when you are married, the opportunity for sex is something to be cherished.
James' producer seemed to like this story and said he would put me on air immediately. When I got on air, James, as usual, started trying to rush me. He doesn't seem to have a long attention span. I told James my story and he seemed to get so flustered and embarrassed. He dumped out of my call faster than a speeding bullet. That must have been the shortest call I have ever had with James, or any other LBC presenter. Now James had a break right after, for traffic and travel, but he could have held me over while doing the break, so I think he was uncomfortable with what I said. James, do you not listen to the rest of LBC? This morning, Alison Bell made allusions to her pubic hair, for goodness sakes. What I said was not outrageous, compared to the usual content on the station. After James fled my call, he didn't have any other for the next 25 minutes. Oh James, you are so inhibited.

Working in London

Thursday, I had to start filming for the TV episode I was cast in. Originally scheduled for afternoon, I got a call from the production team, on Tuesday, asking me to be on location at 10:30AM. Checking the train times online, I found that, to be safe with a healthy cushion of time, I would need to catch the last train of the morning Rush hour, from Bracknell. This would cost more, as I wouldn't get the off-peak discount, but heck, the production company were supposed to be covering my travel expenses. I set my alarm to wake me at 7AM and aimed to make an 8:34 train.
You would think I would go to bed early, the night before, but I didn't. I am so used to staying up late and listening to talk radio. I also found a game of Asteroids on someone's Myspace profile and got hooked playing it. I didn't manage to go to bed, till 3:30AM. I talked myself into resetting my alarm for 7:30AM. I awoke at 6:30AM, looked at the time on my mobile phone and went back to sleep. Might as well get that last hour. When I awoke at 6:30, I actually felt ok, but figured I should have the hour sleep for later. Big mistake. When my alarm went off, I turned it off and just lay there. I felt so tired. Getting out of bed seemed like raising myself from the dead.
The production assistant who had been in contact with me was indecisive about what I should wear. Originally, casual, then she said wear what I wore for my audition, which was a suit, and to bring several ties, including a joke tie, if I had one. I do have one, a South Park tie, which my evil ex-father-in-law gave me. She also suggested bringing jeans and some different shirts, in case the director wanted something different. This was a low budget project where I had to provide my own wardrobe. Maybe one day, I can have wardrobe provided for me. To carry all this, I would bring one of my suitcases. Now, you would think that I would pack the night before and that was my intention. However, when it came down to it, Asteroids seemed like more fun. Why do today, what you can put off till tomorrow?
After prying myself out of bed, I headed for the shower. I like to take a shower in the morning, before getting dressed in clean clothes. Then shave, a quick hot dog breakfast, with cole slaw and potato salad. Brush teeth, get dressed, pack...can't find my South Park tie!!!! Even though I moved four months ago, I still haven't taken everything out of boxes and cases, from the move. My South Park tie isn't with my other ties. Where is it? Finally, I find it along with some other stuff I hadn't remembered was in a case. Finally I am ready to go, but I have only 8 minutes to get there.
Instead of walking a half hour to the train station, as I did the last two times I took the train into London, I had decided to drive and park on the street, two block from the station, on a side street, where there is free parking. When I get there, all the spaces are filled. Now what? The train is due in two minutes and I haven't got a place to park yet. I realized that the next stop is very close and there is a Tesco there, with loads of free parking. If I head straight there, maybe I can get there before the train does. I still need to buy my ticket. I race over there. The station, there, has free parking for people using the train, but all the spaces are filled. So, I park in Tesco and walk, schleping my suitcase, which hangs from a shoulder strap over my left shoulder. Inside the station, I check the screen that displays the next train, hoping the train was running late. It had been and gone already and the next one was due at 9:05AM. It takes just over an hour to get to London Waterloo Station, then I needed to catch a Tube train to the location, near Kentish Town. This would leave me less than a half hour to get from Waterloo to the location. I was cutting it close, with no time to spare. Why didn't I leave my alarm set to 7AM? Onboard the train, I enjoyed the air conditioning and pulled out my script to study my lines again.
On the Tube, I sat across from a very attractive young woman. She had olive complexion, with a hint of freckles. A very interesting nose, which I couldn't place. Medium brown hair. She never made any eye contact. Oh well. At the Tube stop, I ended up walking up 110 steps to get to the surface. On my way back, I learned I could have taken a lift (elevator, for my American readers). By the time I hit the street, it was 10:35AM. Late! Fortunately, the address was very close to the Tube station. As all the doors were locked, I reached for my mobile and dialed the production person I had been told to contact. Just as I tred to dial him, my phone rang. It was my voice mail. While I was on the Tube, another production company was calling me to do a quick shoot later in the afternoon. I jotted down the number to call them back later and tried again to dial the person I wanted for THIS shoot. He answered and said he would come let me in. You can usually buy a few minutes by claiming you had difficulty finding a place, so long as you haven't been there before. He seemed totally not bothered and led me inside to sit with another actor and an actress there for another segment for the same series. I had paperwork to fill out and there were snacks, and water. Then hurry up and wait. It ended up being over an hour before they were ready to shoot my scene, so the few minutes late I was hadn't mattered at all.
The director ended up not even looking at the other clothes I had brought with me, going with the suit I had on. I offered him my ties to chose from. He didn't like the South Park one, because it had some green in it and we were shooting against a green screen. He ended up picking the exact same one I had selected for my audition. I ended up dressed in exactly the same outfit I had auditioned in except different shoes. I could have left the suitcase home and just brought the ties in my small hold all. The shoot went well. I was asked to ad-lib a bit and the crew seemed to like most of what I came up with, bar one line. They would resolve it all in editing. I was finished by 12:30PM and on my own time. Our next day of filming was tentatively scheduled for mid August.
Out on the street I immediately turned my mobile back on, as I had switched it off while on location. I dialed the number the second production company person had left on my voice mail. When she answered, she seemed pleased to hear from me. In her message, she said my email to them had been overlooked, but they wanted me if I could come down for a brief video taping and still photo shoot. I offered to come right away, which seemed to please her. I got directions and set off. The morning shoot had paid £100 plus travel expenses. This little afternoon gig was only paying £10 for what was supposed to be 20 minutes work. As I had my traveexpensesealreadyyd covered, it cost me nothing to get there and as I am desperate for money, I reasoned I might as well pick up the £10, as I had nothing else to do anyway, that day. £10 is like a week's shopping the way I have been eating. At the next location, there were more snacks...crisps and chocolate bars, plus drinks. I had two packets of Walkers Lite crisps (potato chips for my American readers), threereee chocolate bars. Well, the chocolate bars were tiny, miniature ones, sdidn'tidnt have as much as it sounded. Two Cadbury's Dairy Milks, and a Crunch. They were only paying me £10, so this was my lunch.
After that shoot, I decided to go to the Natural History Museum, to kill time and further utilize my paid for Travelcard. I had liveSouthernuthen England for eight years and never visited the Natural History Museum before. I thought I had applied for another shoot the day before and wanted to give them time to contact me, although I couldn't remember who it was for. I figured if I hung around town till past 6PM and hadn't heard by then, I could head home to Bracknell. Back on the Tube, there were two people sitting across from ,me, one male and one female. The female was gorgeous. She was either Indian or Pakistani, I couldn't tell which and the guy next to her looked like a husband or boyfriend. I wish someone would teach me how to tell the difference between Indian and Pakistani women. If they are wearing traditional clothing, I might be able to, but she wore conventional, Western clothes and wore them well. Light beige trousers, with a matching jacket folded over her arms, that set of her light brown skin. Her face was small and round, with dark eyes, a small, delicate version southwesttwest Asian nose, and long, dark, straight hair, tied back, with no finrge (bangs in Americanese). Usually, I don't like it when women have their hair pulled back tightly from their foreheads, but she had a small forehead, so it worked fine for her. She had a tiny piece of jewelrywlery stuck in the skin covering her left side of her nose and one leg crossed over the other, the upper leg's foot shaking leisurely, from side to side, clad in delicate wsandalsndles. Her feel looked lovely, with painted toenails.
The guy I presumed to be her husband/boyfriend looked slovenly, in comparison. I wondered how he had landed her. He shot me a hostile lPerhapsrhpas he had noticed me looking the woman up and down, from head to toe. I feigned indifference an looked to the right, changing my focus to an ugly, butch looking woman to the left of the gorgeous woman in beige. Then the Tube stopped at a station and slovenly got up and left the train. They weren't together! I made eye contact with the woman in beige and gave her the slightest smile. I might have detected the minimalist softening of her expression in response. Did she havesuspicionscion how beautiful I thought she was? After another couple of stops, the Asian princess got up and exited the train. There was a hint of VPL, so she wasn't wearing a thong. I am not that fond of thongs on women, so this didn't bother me in the slightest. This whole encounter reminded me of that James Blunt song, "You're Beautiful," or whatever it's called. Hey, for all I know, that could have been Habiba. Nah, Habiba rides in a hearse. She wouldn't be on the Tube.

Heart Stopping Supermarket Checkout

Written 26 July, 2006: On my way home from work, today, I decided to stop at the big Tesco on the other side of town, as I was over that way. Last week, I was a bit more lazy than usual and bought some Sainsbury's Basics Cole Slaw, while shopping at Sainsbury's, rather than make a separate trip to Tesco. As I have written previously, Tesco Value Cole Slaw tastes way better than Sainsbury's Basics Cole Slaw, but costs the same. I later regretted getting the Sainsbury's Basic Slaw. It just tasted so terrible. Today, I acquired some Tesco spaghetti, Tesco Healthy Living pasta sauce, Tesco Select Ready Salted Crisps (potato chips for my American readers) 12 pack, Tesco hot dog buns, Tesco American Long Grain Rice, Tesco Value ramen noodles (curry flavor), Tesco Value stiryfry mixed vegetables, Scottish minced beef, marked down as it was on its sell by date, Tesco Value pork chops, and, as a special treat, a two liter bottle of Tesco Appleade with no sugar added. Oh, and a 500 gram Tesco Value Cole Slaw, of course.
I approached the row of checkout counters, trying to spot a suitable one. I passed counter after counter, as they either had cashiers who were ugly, or had too long a line. If I have to pay supermarket prices, I prefer giving my money to a pretty face. At least I might as well enjoy the checkout experience. It was hard, today, as I was having trouble finding a suitable one that didn't have a long line. Then I spotted a very short line with an oriental looking cashier. Ok, she wasn't gorgeous, but she wasn't ugly. The guy at the end of the line only had one item to purchase! I eagerly started putting my items on the belt. Heavy items first, then lighter items last, so they don't get crushed. I arrange the items on the belt in the order I want to bag them.
When I joined the line, there were only two people in it. The first was a middle-aged housefrau, who was in the process of having her purchases rung up by the cashier, then there was the man with one item. My expectation was that the line would move fast. Housefrau was ready to pay. Oh no! She was paying by cheque. This slowed the whole process down. The cashier decided she needed assistance from a supervisor. The good news is that one was close at hand, although he walked slowly, like he was in no hurry. Maybe he's on an hourly wage. He should consider us customers, who want to get home. He informed the cashier that she should write the woman's cheque guarantee card number on the back of the cheque. It's 2006, why the hell is anyone still paying at supermarkets by cheque? The woman's cheque guarantee card is also a debit card, as is common here, in the UK. Why slow down the line by using a cheque when she could have just paid with the debit card and the money would have come out of her current account (checking account, for American readers) anyway?
Finally, housefrau was away. One item man breezed through, then it was my turn. I was studying the features of the oriental looking cashier, trying to figure out where she might be from. She had browner skin than the Black Queen (my half Chinese, evil ex-wife) does and her face didn't scream Chinese, Japanese, or Korean at me. Tibetan, or Nepalese drifted through my mind, as I considered possibilities. Then I looked at her name tag. Her name was Corazon, which is Spanish for heart. Ah-ha! Filipino, I bet. As a former Spanish colony, the Philippines is filled with people who have Spanish names, but who look oriental. Corazon quickly totaled up my purchases. The whole haul came to only £9 something or other. She swiped my Tesco Club Card, so I could receive loyalty points. I next gave her my debit card, to pay. While she was utilizing that, I asked, "are you from the Philippines?"
"Yes," she answered and gave me a slightly enquiring look. I was ecstatic, as I so love being right.
"I guessed you were, because of your name," I said.
"It's Spanish," she informed me, as if I didn't know. Duh! She asked me to enter my pin. Some people say, "pin number," but since the "n" in "pin" stands for "number," saying, "pin number" is redundant.
"Oh, I have to enter a pin, do I," I said, pretending not to know.
As I keyed in the pin, she continued talking. "Have you ever been to the Philippines?"
"No," I confided, "but I have been to Guam. That's the closest."
"Guam is close," she happily agreed. Guam is just across the Philippine Sea from the Philippines, as I am sure you all know, and is also a former Spanish colony. "Do you know a lot of Filipinos?" Man, this gal seemed to wake up when I guessed where she's from. I quickly scanned her fingers. No rings.
"Not really a lot. I used to work with a guy from the Philippines, back in 1996. I haven't seen him in ten years." Then I remembered, "oh yeah, I worked with a Filipino nurse in a hospital, a couple of months ago, but she moved to California."
"A lot of Filipinos are in America," she replied. No shit.
"You get a lot more Filipinos in America than here in Britain," I said, going along with the flow. She seemed in no hurry to end the conversation, but as I had finished bagging and there were now people waiting in the line for her, I just thanked her, grabbed my shopping, and headed for the car park (parking lot, for America readers). Maybe it would be worth looking for her again. Corazon, the heart of Tesco.

The Man in the Moon

Written 25th July 2006: I was listening to the 3 and 1/2 hour, 3 to 6:30, Iain Lee Afternoon Wireless Show, today, on LBC 97.3 London (Sky Channel 0177 or via the internet : ) and Iain was still receiving calls about the Moon landings. He had been discussing it yesterday, but the controversy continues. A number of people think the Moon landings were faked and that man has never walked upon the moon. My old Italian housemate, Nando is one of those who thinks they didn't happen. Nando finds conspiracy theories interesting, although he thinks most are nonsense. The only two he actually agrees with are that men never landed on the Moon and that the US government deliberately allowed the 9/11 attacks to happen. Today, I am only discussing the former.
Iain Lee is convinced the Moon landings did occur and argues strenuously for that conclusion. My great-grandmother used to say the moon landings were faked. Ironically, she died in 1970, the year after Neil Armstrong supposedly walked on the moon. Could it be that the US government bumped her off, to keep the secret from getting out? Her oldest daughter, my grandmother's sister, worked at the company that built the Lunar Module, or LM as it was known. She worked on building the LM and she seemed convinced the landings actually occurred, at least in front of people. Mysteriouly, she took me on a trip to Washington, D.C., the same year as Apollo 11 landed. During that trip was the first time I flew on an airline, the first time I had lobster, and the first time I stayed in a hotel in my life. The purpose of the trip to the US capital was never explained. While in Washington, she bought me a badge commemorating the Apollo 11 landing. By coincidence, she died exactly ten years after her mother. Was she also killed to keep something she knew secret? Her sister, my grandmother, also worked in the aerospace industry and eventually worked at Grumman Aerospace, the manufacturers of the LM. My grandmother used to say I was a Moon child and that I would act differently when there was a full Moon. She's dead, now, as well. Was she killed to keep her from revealing something that her sister told her? When I was away at boarding school and at university, my pet cat, Misty, used to spend a lot of time with my grandmother's sister. Misty was killed in 1979, exactly 10 years after Apollo 11 supposedly landed on the Moon and one year before my grandmother's sister met her demise. Was he killed to keep him from revealing something she told him?
By now, you are probably wondering which way I lean, regarding the Moon landings. By revealing my conclusions, might I be placing my live in danger? I am fairly sure the Moon landings were not faked. I read an excellent article, a couple of years ago, debunking the claims of the doubters. But there is one thing that I thought of, which I told Nando. If the American government had faked the Moon landings, surely the Soviets would have told the world. This was during the height of the cold war and spilling the beans would have been a public relation coup for the USSR. The Soviets used to engage in electronic intelligence gathering and would have been all over this. They could see the progress of the Apollo spacecraft on radar and would have been able to pick up the radio telemetry from the spacecraft, and the astronauts. So I find it highly improbable that such a secret could be kept. In addition to the Soviets, there would be people on the American side who would know of the deception. There would be enormous financial incentive in leaking the story to the media, or writing a book. A caller, today asked Iain, why doesn't NASA use the Hubble telescope to photograph the stuff the astronauts left behind on the Moon, thus proving they had been there? Surely, some such proof would settle the debate, once and for all. Alternatively, maybe the doubters are just suffering from lunacy.

A Single American on the Iain Lee Show

Written 25th July, 2006: Yesterday afternoon, I was listening to the 3 and 1/2 hour, 3 to 6:30, Iain Lee Afternoon Wireless Show, as usual, on LBC 97.3, London (Sky Channel 0177 or on the net: ) After a number of tries to get on, last week, and being unsuccessful, I started off this week with an appearance. Iain had this guy in America on, Hunter and a woman called in to ask if Hunter was single, because she liked the sound of him. He sounds a bit hillbilly, to me, but just as Americans aren't able to evaluate the various classes of British accents, I suppose many Brits don't know the differences in American accents. Hunter said he was about to get married. I thought this would be an ideal time to remind Iain's female audience of my existence, as I am single.
Thankfully, this time Agent Chris, Iain's producer, did call me back. While on hold to go on air, Iain was talking to Chris in the Crouch End, who was talking soe of the most bizarre stuff I have heard in a long time. Something about there being no crime on other parents and not believing in aliens, and the made my head spin. Iain asked me if I wanted to try reasoning with her. I declined. To his credit, Iain stuck with it for quite some time and it was very funny radio. Ironically, I was just in Crouch End the week before last.
Iain is a tough presenter to call, I find. He can be quick to cut one off and whatever I start out planing to talk about, he almost always ends up sidetracking me, by taking the conversation in an unexpected direction. I told him I wanted to let his female listeners know that I am a single American and I am on this side of the Atlantic. We discussed the differences in quality between British men and American men. I pointed out that American men are more attentive and gentlemanly to women. He seemed to acknowledge that, but claimed it makes us sound desperate. After reminding him that he said he finds my voice "scary," which he re-confirmed, I then informed him that Opal Bonfante has described my voice as "overtly sexual." That slowed Iain down a bit, as he lustfully described Opal as "lovely." Mentioning a pretty woman is always a good way for me to slow Iain down. Several months ago, I had admitted on Iain's show that I fancied Habiba, a regular caller to his show. I reminded Iain of this. On Sunday night, I found out that, as I suspected, Habiba is Indian, so I told Iain I am partial to Indian women. I then asked him if he had noticed that Habiba never calls when I am on Iain's show? He suggested that I should take the hint.
Just then, Habiba was put on with me, for the first time. Now, it's funny, but this exact scenario was discussed in an Iain Lee forum a couple of Sundays ago, where someone suggested I tell Habiba I fancy her. I did just that. Habiba said she had previously been married to a New Yorker, but it didn't work out. Iain jumped on that and said I was off to a bad start. Habiba countered that all New Yorkers are not the same and seemed to soften her voice as she defended me a bit, to Iain. I mentioned that she used to live in Queens. She asked, "how did you know that?" I pointed out that she had said so on Iain's show, before. She then said she had lived in Jamaica. I told her I grew up in Hempstead, which is only seven miles east of Jamaica, Queens, but she wasn't familiar with it. She then started rabbiting on with Iain, so he sent me on my way. Habiba is a female undertaker, with a somewhat husky voice. Iain likes to tease her that she sounds like a man. I think guys are just dying to meet her.

Charlie Wolf on the Big L!

Written 24th July, 2006: This morning, Charlie Wolf starts a week doing the Big L morning show. As I have never heard him, I will try to catch him. When I have explained my concept for a radio show to some people, a couple of them have made comparisons to Charlie Wolf. The Big L is 1395Am, London (Sky Channel 0190 or internet ). Earlier, I called Opal Bonfante during her "London Calling" show, also on the Big L. We had a lovely chat and she giggled a few times. I love her giggling laugh. Opal played her trademark game, "Spit or Swallow," where she gargles water and tries to sing a song at the same time. I finally heard someone guess the song correctly. After I heard the answer, I must admit it did sound like that song. I don't care if I don't win, I just love hearing her try to do it. Half the time she ends up in giggles. As usual, Opal asked me to select a song. I fired off four an she had none of them. What kind of music library does the Big L have? For some strange reason, the Big L provides the presenters with a house, with an Austrian maid or au pair, or something, named Gabby. Charlie Wolf has taken up residence for the week, there and Opal had dinner with him. I will have to hear him do radio in order to decide if that was a boon or bane for dear Opal. Gabby made cous-cous and some chicken for the males in the house and just cous-cous for dear Opal. Sadly, she's a vegetarian. I had a nice sirlion steak for dinner, with jacket potato, cole slaw, and sweetcorn. I cooked it all myself...well, all except the cole slaw, which came out of a container. The Black Queen would be amazed.
Prior to that, I called James Max on LBC, 97.3 London. (Sky Channel 0177, internet: ) One of my Myspace friends and loyal readers tuned in to hear me. She sent him a text, but so late in the show that he didn't read it on air. She went on to request him as a friend and he promptly added her. James is eager to have "friends" on Myspace, so please do add him. Let him know that you have added him at my suggestion, so he can see how many "friends" he is getting from this blog. If you enjoy reading my blog, leave a comment and let me know. Also, post a link to it in any forums you are a member of. Recommed it to friends and family. The larger the readership, the more clout we have with the media world. The more clout we get, the better the articles I can produce for you.

The Call I Was Waiting For

Written 22 July, 2006: I started out the day, yesterday, calling James O'Brien, on LBC 97.3, London. This was the third time I had tried to get on James' show this week. Previously, the producers didn't call back. This time, I told enough of my story that the producer decided it would be a good one for broadcast. James was talking about the worst compensations people have received, amongst other things. When I was put through, I told James about the time a flight was delayed many hours, from New York to London. The airline had called me at home, just before I was to leave for the airport. They told me not to come until 2AM. When I did turn up at Newark airport at that "ungodly" hour, I was given a $10 food voucher in compensation. The only problem was that all the restaurants at the airport, where I could redeem it, were closed. I ended up finding a tiny snack counter open, but it had almost no food available. I only managed to get a large coke and some chocolate chip cookies. James found this story amusing, but cut my call before I could tell him the punchline. Those passengers whom the airline didn't reach and who turned up at the original check-in time, were put up, free of charge, at a four star Marriott hotel, at the airport. I would much rather have had that, then have had to drive to the airport in the middle of the night.
In the afternoon, I received the script for the film segment I was cast in, that is due to film next Thursday. My printer cartridge finally ran completely dry, so my first attempt to print it out wasn't successful. This is the original cartridge, which came with the printer, and is over three years old. I have had a replacement on hand for a year and a half. I swapped the cartridges and printed the script out again. I reused the same sheets of paper from the first attempt.
Listening to Iain Lee's 3 and 1/2 hour, 3 to 6:30, Afternoon Wireless Show, on LBC, I heard Iain discussing "Superman Returns," with a caller. Iain had gone to see the film Thursday night, while I was in Brixton, interviewing for a film project. Iain mentioned that there is a reference to Batman in the Superman film, as "Gotham City" is mentioned. Iain or his caller, said a film should be made with Superman and Batman, and possibly Spiderman, together. I decided to call in and ask Iain if he was familiar with the two part episode of the old "Batman" TV series from the 60s, which had Batman and Robin vs the Green Hornet and Kato. What made that show particularly interesting is that Bruce Lee played Kato. I mentioned this topic to Agent Chris, on the phone, who gave his usual statement that he would call me back. I had also, previously, tried to get on Iain's show, this week, without success, so I wondered if I would be as successful as I had been with James O'Brien that morning. Iain likes talking about superheros, although Agent Chris doesn't. I should have guessed...Agent Chris didn't call back. I tried to get through during Triple M, when calls aren't screened, but the line was continuously busy.
I made a vegetarian, Chinese stirfry for dinner, not because I am a vegetarian, but because I didn't have any meat to put in it. I cooked the rice while Watching "Eastenders." Then I stirfried the vegetables, during the beginning of "Big Brother." As is typical on a Friday, it was eviction night. I sat down to eat my stirfry over rice, with some hot chili oil to spice it up, watching the rest of the eviction program. As I expected, Jayne was evicted. The producers I had interviewed with, Thursday night, said they would let me know if I was cast in the film project at around 10PM, Friday night, so as the eviction interview started, I lamented that it looks like I wasn't cast. Suddenly, my mobile rang. It was the male half of the production team. They wanted me for the project, a short film to be shot over the weekend, as an entry into a film competition, in London. I was told where to report on Saturday, as we were filming on location. This is the second role I have been cast in, this week.
I decided to call Bill Buckley, in LBC, after 1AM. Bill always puts me on and he'd be interested to hear I had been cast in another role. While I was on hold, a former "Big Brother" contestant from "Big Brother" series 3 called in. He was stuck in a traffic jam. I hadn't watched that series, so I was not familiar with him. Finally, it was my turn. I gave Bill and example of how I might have wound up fellow "Big Brother" housemates, had I been selected for the show. Later, after I was on, some guy named Mark called Bill and said he didn't like my voice and wasn't interested in what I had to say. I do note that he paid attention to every bit I said, though. Anyway, I thought I had best write this blog before going to sleep, as I am off filming in London later in the day. You can catch James, Bill, and the rest of the LBC gang at:

You've Got the Part

Written 21 July, 2006: Opal Bonfate has developed quite an appetite for my blog. She sent me a message, earlier, complaining that I hadn't posted another article yet. She didn't respond to my offer to produce her radio show. When I called her, this morning, she complimented me on my choice of songs. After naming some she didn't have, again, I picked Curtis Mayfield's, "Move On Up." You can catch Opal's "London Calling" show on the Big L 1395AM, London (Sky Channel 0190 or via the net at: ) One of the reasons I called Opal was to let her know that I was offered the part I auditioned for, last Friday. A speaking role in a short film segment being produced for a TV series. This is my first part in Britain and my first speaking role anywhere.
Meanwhile, I was invited to an informal interview for a special film project being filmed this weekend. It's a short film being produced for a contest. The whole film must be produced in 48 hours. I was invited to come to Brixton, in London, to interview to be a part of this project. It's unpaid, but I get to network with other actors and get to know the producers, who have other projects in development. Plus, I need the experience. At 6:15PM, I was told to be in Brixton for 9PM. On the radio, the traffic and travel report said that there were problems with Tube trains and delays on all lines. I decided to drive this time. It would be late enough that I wouldn't have to pay the congestion charge, which ends at 6:30PM. For those of you outside of the UK, you now have to pay £8 to drive into central London during the day, weekdays. Screw that!
As I am running low of food, I intended to get ready, then dash out to Sainsbury's and do a quick shop, get some petrol (gasoline), then head off to Brixton. First, a shower. I go into the bathroom to shower and find that my new housemate has left the tub full of water. He'd gone out not too long ago. Why the heck did he leave water in the bathtub? It looks like clean water with some soap in it. Hmmmmm. Well, I can't take a shower with the bathtub full of water, as we have one of those combination bathtub/showers. I went back into my bedroom. Maybe he is coming back shortly to use the bath. I played Cubis Gold online and waited.
Meanwhile, I got the directions to where I was going in Brixton, on the computer. Mapquest said it would take 46 minutes to drive. I had better give myself a cushion of extra time, as Mapquest doesn't allow for traffic. With the Tube problems, traffic might be heavier than normal. By 7:15, new housemate still hasn't returned. I decided to drain the tub and take my shower. The heck with him, he shouldn't be monopolizing the bath/shower when he's not even home. I looked at the water in the tub again. It had a slight bluish tint. Should I use the bath water, instead of wasting it? I ran my fingers in it and smelled my fingers. Hey! This smells like bleach. Sure enough, there's a bleach bottle on the floor of the bathroom. He's left a tub full of water and bleach. Why the fuck would he do that? I pulled the plug and let the water drain. Showered, shaved, brushed hair and teeth. Put on a pair of Ralph Lauren chinos, a short sleeved, button down shirt and trainers (sneakers). After two auditions in suits, I was going casual this time.
By now, it was 7:35PM. Too late to go food shopping. My car has a leak in the cooling system, so I topped up with coolant before setting off. I bought £20 worth of petrol. Bloody Hezbollah and Israel have driven up the price of petrol. Ooooohhhh! Double chocolate chip American style cookies, marked down to 20 Pence on their sell by date! I'll have those. By now, it's a quarter to 8PM and my cushion is slipping away. The radio reported delays on the M25, so I took the M4, rather than the M3, cause it's a straight shot into Central London, thus avoiding the M25, London Orbital. I opened the sunroof, as my air conditioning isn't working. Making my way in, the traffic was light, up until Heathrow. Then it slowed down to bumper to bumper, for a bit. As I hadn't had my dinner, I opened the double chocolate chip cookies and munched a couple. Nice and soft...chocolatey. I hope I don't get chocolate crumbs stuck in my teeth. There's melted chocolate on my right hand. Use my left had to pop open the centre console and fish out a paper napkin. After the M4 becomes the A4, traffic picked up again. Right on Earl's Court Road and down to Chelsea Embankment, then along the river to Vauxhaul Bridge, a nice drive on a warm, July night. Across the Thames on Vauxhaul Bridge to South London. I try to read the signs and my directions. Which way? I go right and end up on the wrong road. Eventually, I realize this isn't right and make a U turn. It's getting near to 9PM and I don't need heading the wrong way! I correct my course and finally end up on Brixton Road. Now I just need to find the address I am looking for. I keep checking...still further, still further..still further...I passed it! It's 9PM now! I need to find a parking space and walk to the address. Turn left on some side street. Finally, there's a parking space. I start walking back. I am late. Oh, I hate being late. That damned wrong turn!
Of course, the number I want is the opposite end of the block. I press the buzzer. I am expecting a woman, so of course, a man opens the door. He greets me by name, so he's expecting me. I am led inside and offered a seat. There's the woman I am expecting. The room has tripods, computerized editing equipment, it looks the part. We have a relaxed conversation, the three of us, discussing the project and my background. They they tell me they will let me know, tomorrow night. Then, there is the sound of the doorbell. Their next appointment is here; time for me to leave. Because of the time I left, I missed "Eastenders." As I walk back to my car, I check the time. It's 9:35PM, no way I can make it home in time for the 10PM rebroadcast on BBC Three. As I drive back, I see signgm advising that the M4 is closed between Junctions 1 and 3, for road work, from 9PM. I was planning on stopping at Tesco in Wokingham, on my way home, to do my shopping, as they are open till midnight. At the Chiswick Roundabout, I head off on the A316 towards the M3. This would avoid the road works, but coming home on the M3, I wouldn't pass near Wokingham. Passing through Richmond, I spot a Sainsbury's. It looks open. Checking the sign, I see it closes at 10PM. I have about 5 minutes to shop. As I am walking down thvegetablele aisle, a voice announces over the public address that the store is closing. So far, I only havpotatoto salad, colslawlw, and stiry frvegetablele mix. I start rushing around. Where are the hot dogs? They're out of hot dog buns, but what about the dogs themselves? I grab a sirloin steak for £1.98. Sainsbury's Crisps twelve pack. Finally I find the hot dogs. Hertas aren't on sale! grabrap a pack of thing Sainsbury's own brand, 10 for £1.49. It's less than ideal, but I am desperate. I continue home.
Walking in the door, I turn on the TV. "Big Brother" is already on, so I listen in, while putting my dinner on. Spaghetti again. By the time "Big Brother's Big Mouth" is on, dinner is ready. Finally, I watch "Sugar Rush." Oh no! I realize that, last week, when I got home so late from visiting Tom, the Injured Cyclist ( ), I missed last week's "Sugar Rush." The things I do for my craft. During "Sugar Rush" commercial breaks, I listen to Opal Bonfante. Once "Sugar Rush" is over, I call in to Opal, which is where we began! After speaking to Opal, I call in to Bill Buckley's show, on LBC 97.3, London (Sky Channel 0177, net at: ). Bill says he has been thinking about me. However, it's not what I think. He is thinking that perhaps he and I shouldn't recap the day's "Big Brother" episodes, anymore. Well, tonight, I only caught a bit of "Big Brother" anyway. I shared my good news about getting the part, with Bill. He's very supportive and offers to read lines with me, over the air. As if! Oh well, it's a nice sentiment anyway.

Spit or Swallow?

Written 20 July, 2006: Last night (I only say last night because it was just before midnight), I called Opal Bonfante on her "London Calling" show, on the Big L 1395AM, London (Sky Channel 0190, internet: Opal was playing a game, "Spit or Swallow," where she sings a song while gargling water and contestants have to guess what song she is singing. Most times she does it, she ends up giggling afterwards in the sweetest way. I had no idea what the song was, but I love the way she sounds giggling. It was great radio, as well...very funny. Opal continues to live up to her description as, "hot and sexy."
Opal told me that she had an email from a listener, asking if I had been on, yet. While I am very pleased that I am developing a following on her show, I was a little disappointed that it was a man who emailed, rather than a woman. Since Opal describes my voice as, "overtly sexual," I would hope that some of the ladies out there would be emailing about me. Opal let slip another interesting tidbit of radio gossip. Radio presenter, Charlie Wolf, fomerly of Talksport, will be doing a week on the Big L's morning show. She was more excited about that than I was. I am still waiting for my Big L goodie bag that I won the first time I called her. As usual, Opal asked me to pick a song. I was prepared with "Hey Mama," by the Black Eyed Peas, in honor of Fergie adding me on Myspace, as a friend. Typically, Opal didn't have it! I then selected "Let's Get It Started," also by BEP, as an alternative, which she did have. Did you know that the song was originally recorded as, "Let's Get Retarded?" It still appears as that version on the album, "Elephunk," but was redone as a single, perhaps in deference to political correctness.


Written 19th July, 2006: As much as I like music, this is not about the late 70s disco group, Heatwave. I do like their music, though. Like so many people, I'm talking about the current heatwave in England. I still haven't gotten that comfortable with the whole Celsius bit. Have you? Do you prefer Celsius or Fahrenheit? Today, the temperature is expected to reach 36C, which is 96.8F, for those of you, like me, who still tend to think in Fahrenheit. It's possible a new record high in London might be reached. As Britain doesn't have much air conditioning, unlike America, people here tend to suffer more, in such hot periods. On talk radio, here, there is an almost endless stream of people moaning about the heat.
I love the hot weather. This is my favorite time of year. I have always loved summer. July is the month I was born and when I was a kid, it was still early in the summer vacation from school, with August yet to go. Back home, in New York, temperatures like this are a normal part of summer. I prefer the warmth to the cold. In the cold, I have to spend money to get warm and my heating bills are higher. In the summer, my utility bill plummets. I don't have aircon, here, which is typical from British homes. I just open the windows on both sides of the house and let the breeze blow through the house. Another cooling tip I learned from my mother is to keep the curtains closed which blocks out the sunlight. The room seems to stay cooler with the sunlight blocked. Yesterday evening, I put my washing out to dry at 8:30PM and it was dry in less than two hours.
As I look out my bedroom window, the sky is completely clear and blue. There is a drought in Southern England, so there has been a ban placed on using garden hoses. The lawns in front of all the homes on my street are yellowed and dry. Considering that I have no money, I am in a fairly happy mood. On a sour note, I had my last hot dog for breakfast, today. When I did my last trip to the supermarkets, Saturday, neither Tesco nor Sainsbury's had hot dogs on sale, so I didn't buy any. I have ended up with one hot dog bun and no more hot dogs. I haven't been getting much work from the agency, lately, so I am eating more at home, rather than having free meals at restaurants I am working at. So, my hot dog consumption is up, while my income is down. Last week, I only had four hours of work all week. I think I will go downstairs and get some cold water to drink.

The GreatShootout: Iain Lee in the Crossfire

Written 17 July, 2006: This afternoon, I was listening to the "3 and 1/2 hour, 3 to 6:30, Iain Lee Afternoon Wireless Show," on LBC 97.3, London as is my habit. (Sky Channel 0177 or on the net at: ) A man had called in and said that he enjoyed hunting animals and shooting them. Subsequently, one of the wackiest women I have heard on air in a long time phoned in. She said she wished that man would die. I was downstairs, listening to Iain on Sky Channel 0177, while I prepared a late lunch. Iain valiantly tried to engage the woman, Val, in rational discussion. She said nothing living should be killed, but didn't see any contradiction between that and wishing a man dead.
I desperately wanted a part of this and wolfed down my ramen noodles and raced back upstairs to try to phone in. Iain went to the news break holding the woman over to continue the discussion after the news. Great! This gave me a chance to call in to Agent Chris, Iain's producer, and wait for his call back. I was so excited, when Chris answered, I couldn't think of his name, for a minute. I said, "Can I talk to Iain and this wacky woman?" He said he would call me back, in his usual pleasant and insincere way. I was a little bit suspicious that he didn't even ask me what I was going to say, but thought, maybe I have called the show enough now that he doesn't think he needs to quiz me first.
I wanted to be on air with Iain and Val, so I could debate her. This was a great radio moment and I wanted to contribute and try and make it even greater. I have a particular dislike for these people who think animal life is more valuable than human life, of course forgetting that humans are animals, too. As I waited for Chris to call back, Iain came out of the news break and continued talking with Val. Other people were put on with them and the original guy, Andy even called back. No call to me. At one point, my phone rang, but when I picked it up and said, "hello," the person on the other end disconnected. Val had stated on air that she wouldn't kill an ant and that everything alive should not be killed. I wanted to ask her if she cleaned at all, because that kills germs, which are alive. Does she not eat, because plants AND animals are alive. Sadly, it was not to be. Chris never called back.
Eventually, Val conceded that she eats meat, but somehow tries to eat her cake and have it to, as Ayn Rand used to say, and ignore the fact that all the meat she eats comes from animals that are killed. We are descended from hunter/gatherers. I would love to transport the Vals of this world to a prehistoric community, where they would have to hunt to survive and see how long they last. To Iain's credit, despite practicing vegetarianism, he spotted the logical flaws in Val's warped reasoning. He wasn't hostile toward Andy, the hunter. Iain even admitted that he thought firing a gun might be exciting. As someone who has owned and fired firearms, let me assure you, Iain, it is. One caller tried to reason with Val that animals attack and kill each other, in the wild, so they aren't following her policy. They do it a lot more cruelly than humans do, too, I might in tooth and claw.
Hunting seems much more highly regarded in America, with its more recent frontier traditions, than it is here, in England, where the tree hugging crowd seems to be running rampant. For those of you in America who might not know, recently, traditional British Fox Hunting was outlawed. Something thought of as quintessentially English, like the fox hunt, has fallen to the Socialist overlords in the House of Commons, and their courting of the fuzzy, tree hugging crowd, and young people who are not educated about where we come from. We are the sons and daughters of hunters and that's not something to be ashamed of.

London Double Shot

Written 15th July, 2006: After not going into London for months, yesterday, I went into London for the second day in a row! This time, I was going to audition for a part in a short film, which, when completed, is to air on Channel 5, here in the UK. It's also supposed to be shown in Canada and America. My audition was scheduled for 4:30PM. I intended to leave much earlier, so I wouldn't be late, like I was the day before. That's what I intended. As it turned out, didn't leave quite as early as I planned. I got to the Bracknell train station just after the train I wanted to catch had left. The next one was at 2:32PM. This was starting to turn out like Thursday's trip. Because my appointment was for half past instead of a quarter past, I had an extra 15 minutes, as compared with Thursday.
Upon arrival at London's Waterloo Station, I tried to make quicker time to the Northern Line Tube platform. My audition was at a film company located in Kentish Town, again, so I would be taking the exact same route as I did the day before. What is it with Kentish Town and the film production? While I was waiting on the Tube train, I heard an announcement over the station's public address system. "Due to a broken down train..." oh-oh..."all services on the Jublilee Line are..." Relief! It wasn't the Northern Line. Looking at the digital display of the next expected trains, I saw something strange. A train was listed as being due in one minute, but going down the branch of the Northern Line that doesn't service Kentish Town. But there were no trains listed after that one. Determined not to wait 20 minutes, like I did the day before, I decided to take this train. I could get off at Camden Town and perhaps there would be a train along quickly from the other Northern Line route, the one via Bank, going my way. This proved to be a good idea. When I got off at Camden Town, there was another northbound Northern Line, heading toward Kentish Town. I arrived at Kentish Town by 4PM. The directions said the address I was going to was five minutes walk from the Tube Station and I had thirty minutes to get there. Sweet!
I walked slowly in the warm July afternoon sunshine. I tried to drag out my journey, as I didn't want to arrive any earlier than 15 minutes before my appointment. This audition was more involved than the one I had done the day before. There was a script I was supposed to read from, but which I hadn't yet seen. I wondered how I would do. Finally, I was there. The film company was located upstairs and had a sign outside. Already this seemed to be more substantial than the music video production, which seemed like it was being run out of the directors private residence. Walking through the company's office doorway, I saw over a dozen people at desks, working. On the right, there was a board with photographs of people an the names of projects written above groups of these photographs.
A young woman, casually dressed, was seated at the desk by the doorway. She had short hair and looked a "production type." She looked up at me, expectantly. I introduced myself and told her I had an appointment to see the casting director. She said he was currently with someone. Then she handed me a form and a pen, asking me to sit on a settee and fill the form out, while I waited. She offered me some water and I accepted. My mouth tends to get dry, especially when I am nervous. I filled out the form and returned it to the woman at the desk by the door. Re-taking my seat, I picked up a magazine from the coffee table in front of me. It featured an interview with Grace, who had been evicted from the Big Brother house a few weeks ago. I started reading the interview.
Before I could finish reading about Grace, the woman who had called me and set up my appointment came over and introduced herself. She was dressed smart casual, much prettier than the bird by the door. Everyone I could see in the place was dressed fairly casual. As I was auditioning for the role of an office manager, I had dressed in a suit and tie, as befit the role. She brought me a copy of the script and indicated the part I was expected to audition for. She said I could look over the script until they were ready for me. I wasn't expected to memorize it, just be familiar enough with the story to talk about it in character, but in my own words. That was a relief. This was the first time I had gone for a role in a film that involved scripted diaglog. Previously, I had worked as an extra without any lines. I just had to stand where I was told and walk or move the way I was asked to. For the first time, now, I would have to speak on camera and in character. I wondered how I would do, as I didn't really have any formal training for this. I had a small role in a play at university, but that's about it. How much of the story would they expect me to remember? Some of the characters names were a bit awkward, including my characters and the main character's, whom I was scripted to mention. Looking through the script, I saw that the main character's surname was spelled in two different ways. Which one was right?????!!!
Smart casual came back over to see how I was doing. She asked if I had any questions. I showed her the problem with the character's surname being spelled in two different ways, in the script. She said I didn't have to worry about that, just use whichever one I was comfortable with. She asked if I needed more time to prepare. I said, "no, I'm ready." I had read the short script over a dozen times now, mainly my lines, so I didn't see the point in procrastinating any longer. She left me there sitting a while.
In due course, a tall, young looking, blond man came over and introduced himself as the casting director. He was dressed in jeans and a button down shirt. He seemed very friendly and easygoing. He led me into a private office and told me where to sit. There was a small video camera opposite that place. He asked me where I was from and got to know me a bit and also made me feel at ease. Finally, he said that, for the audition, he was going to interview me on camera, as my character, and I should respond in my own words, based on what I remembered of the story from the script. Afterwards, he asked me a little more about myself, then said he would be making his recommendations to the director and my audition tape would be reviewed. He seemed encouraging and said I should hear from them within the next week or two.
Back out on the street, I pondered what to do next. I had another Travelcard, but I didn't want to get home as late as I had the night before. As I was on the north side of London, I decided to head over to Crouch End. One of my oldest friends in London, Pam, used to live in Crouch End. She had attended my wedding, but the Black Queen had discouraged me from visiting Pam often, after I was married. Pam, herself, had gotten remarried, to a Moroccan man, who had give me his mobile number, but over the years, I had lost it. After my divorce, I had turned up at Pam's flat, but no one answered the buzzer. Looking in the window, there were new plants in the window and the bits of decor I could see looked entirely different. Pam had been mentioning something about moving into a house, the last time the Black Queen and I had visited, but I had no idea where. I suspected she had, finally, moved.
Pam was originally from Zimbabwe and, over the years, she had introduced me to a number of Zimbabweans in the Crouch End area, as well as an Indian friend of her's, named Mash Sing something or other, plus a whole assortment of oddball characters who were regulars at this local pub, "The Queens." Pam never seemed to be able to manage having a phone, so in the old days, before I moved to England, when I used to visit here, I would drive my rented car to Crouch End and ring Pam's buzzer. If no one answered, would head down to The Queens and invariably I would see someone who recognized me...someone who Pam had introduced me to. I would leave word with that person to tell Pam I was in the UK and when I would be around again. Then I would drive to Wales and visit people I knew there for a few days. Returning to Crouch End, I would go to Pam's and she would be there, expecting me. After my divorce, I tried this same tactic, but didn't find anyone in The Queens I knew. A lot of yuppies have been moving into Crouch End, over the past few years, and they may be driving out the older, working class residents.
Walking the Crouch End high street, I made my way to the Queens. I peered in the windows of the only other pub Pam ever went to, but she wasn't there. Walking into the Queens, I looked for any familiar face. There were none. I slowly returned back the way I had come, looking into each shop window, in case I should spot her or her kids, either patronizing or working at any of the businesses on the high street. I was hungry, so I nipped into a kebab shop and order some chips. As I waited for a fresh batch of ships to cook, I stared out the shop window at the passers by, in case I should spot Pam. Once my chips were ready, I walked with them, open...eating with the little wooden chip fork, as I made my way back to the bus stop. I headed home, as I wanted to make it in time to see "Big Brother." It was an eviction night, after all.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Anyone Have the Keys to Canada? (My London Trip Part 3)

After trudging back to the Tube Station near Oriental City, yesterday, I waited for the Northern Line train that would take me south, toward Tom, the Injured Cyclist's flat. The day had been a bit cloudy, but as I sat on a bench on the station's platform, the sun broke out. This far out of central London and the underground becomes a surface train, so I was waiting outdoors in the lovely weather. London is really nice in the summer sun. As it was now the evening rush hour, the station was a lot busier than it had been, earlier. The train arrived and I got on board. I found a seat, as I had several stops to ride before I reached the point where I would change lines. As the train made it's way, I noticed several really good looking women in the carriage The evening rush hour had all the female office workers out, on their way home. As it was summer and warm they wore revealing attire. Women are fascinating. Each one looks different. Endless combinations of eyes, hair, lips, noses.
Eventually, I got off at London Bridge Station, where I could change to the Jubilee Line. As I was making the connection, I saw even more beautiful women! Ahead of me, I spotted a woman with long dirty blond hair, wearing a navy blue skirt, with a slit in the back. The skirt accentuated her figure, as she walked in some smart, high heeled pumps. I could get lost following her. Tom had sent me two messages about where he lived. The first mentioned the two closest Tube stops to him. The second gave his address. I had remembered the second, but I forgot the first. What Tube stop had he said, again? Damn it, I couldn't remember. Looking at the underground map, I was pretty sure one he mentioned was "Canada Water." It sounded familiar. Looking at the maps and my A to Z, I figured Canada Water was best. When he said his address, he said what road it was off. Looking in the index of the A to Z(which is a London street atlas, for my American readers), I couldn't find Tom's street listed. It just wasn't there. My A to Z is 18 years old. I got it on my second trip to London. It had never failed me before. London is an old city and the roads don't change that much...usually. Well, I could see the street he said his was off of, so if I just walked along it, then surely I would find him. Canada Water Station wasn't on my 18 year old A to Z, either. Still, judging by the position of the river, I was sure Canada Water had to be right.
When I get to Canada Water and go above ground, I head for an exit that says the name of one of the streets I see in my A to Z. When I get above ground though, there are no street signs and I can't be sure where I am. This is a problem in Britain. They so often have intersections that don't always have street signs. And the roads curve a lot, so it's less straightforward than New York, for example. Imagine, people who have lived here all of their lives need a street atlas to find their way around. I didn't need a street atlas in New York, until I started driving professionally and I wanted to find obscure locations in the outer boroughs. So I am trying to decide if I should go left or right. I opt for right. Surely, eventually, I will find a street sign. When I do, the road is one that's also not in my A to Z. Great! I keep walking, as the road is curving in the general direction I think I need to go. I come across a bus stop. Many bus stops ave local area maps posted on them. Consulting that, I figure out where I am. It's further than I first thought. I use my Travelcard and hop a bus going in the direction I want to go. Why walk, when you can ride?
By this time, its' after 6PM and I still haven't heard from Tom, yet. Surely he must be back by now, shouldn't he? I get off the bus at the intersection with the road Tom said his was off of. I must be getting close. I start walking and looking for Tom's street. I have seen pictures of where he far, I don't; see anything that looks like that. I pass a bus stop. I wonder how much further it is? There is a bus I could be riding, instead of schlepping in these shoes? Eventually, I start seeing an area that looks similar to th photos of where he lives. I know there are boats outside where he lives. At least I am headed in the direction of the river. I saw a place called Canada Quays (pronounced keys), earlier, so this whole area is full of nautical names. I pass one small road after another, with various nautical names. Tom's has a somewhat nautical name, as a stretch. Someone decided to go all themed when they were naming this area. How trendy. These places look a lot more expensive than Bracknell. Tom must be doing much better than me, financially. Well, most people are doing better than me.
Finally, I found it! Still hadn't heard from him. As much as I hate spending money on a cell phone call, I whipped out my phone and called him. He answered! How long had he been home? I said, "I thought you were gonna call me?" He apologized. Tom had gotten back from his physical therapy hours earlier than expected. And I had been taking my time. If he'd called me when he got home, like I suggested, I coul d have been there much earlier. He said he would send Katie out to get me. I headed their way. There were two buildings to choose from and he'd not told me which one. I tried the one on the right. Katie came out of the one on the left. When I first suggested that I come visit Tom, while I am in town, he hadn't mentioned Katie. Eventually, he told me she would be joining us. Maybe he wanted her there to protect him, in case I turned out to be an ax murderer, or something. But who would protect her? She was an ex-girlfriend turned friend, or something, I don't know.
She led me into the building and to Tom's flat. There he was, spralled over the settee. Tom injured himself in a freakish bike accident, in which he severely broke his leg. The cast is off, but he's still recovering. There was another, matching chair, but if I took that, where would the lovely Katie sit? They told me to sit and she went into the kitchen. I teased Tom that when I had heard him on Opal Bonfante's show, the night before, he sounded so young. A litte self-deprecating humor, always a good idea. They gave me a cool beer and we started talking. Well, I did most of the talking. It's been ages since I have socialized with anyone. Weeks. I must be starved of human company.
Katie looks much more beautiful than the pictures of her that I have seen. It turns out she's been to law school, as well. I love educated women. She's from Wales, but has a posh English sounding accent, with a funny undercurrent, that must be the Welsh trying to come out. She makes some bits of bread with cheese and leeks on them. I take one and she gives me a look like she wants me to take three. Hey I had a big lunch. I didn't want to show up hungry and then be begging them for food. Tom and I both talked about how we each called Opal's show, the night before. He mentioned Katie flirting with James Max, who co-hosted that show, with Opal. I warned her that I didn't think James was right for her. Sorry James. She went on about how she was having trouble finding a boyfriend. Tom seemed to look uncomfortable when this was mentioned. Oh, there must be a story there. Why did he let this one get away, eh? Katie kept pushing her bread thingys. Apparently, she likes to cook. A proper little legally educated homemaker, that one. They switched me from beer to sparkling wine. We took some photos, All too soon, it was time for me to start heading home. I had to catch the last train to Bracknell, from Waterloo Station, and it left at 11:30PM. If I missed it, I would be stranded. Katie walked me out and I found the nearest bus stop. I wasn't walking all that way back. Might as well get as many rides as possible from my Travelcard. By the time I walked home from the Bracknell train station, it was just past 1AM. By the way, Happy Bastile Day!
You can read about Tom, the Injured Cyclist in his blog, available at his Myspace page:

Orienting Myself (My Trip to London Part 2)

Written 14 July, 2006:

After my brief casting call was over, yesterday, I was left with a few hours to kill. I had planned to visit Tom, the Injured Cyclist while in town, but he had informed me he had a phyiscal therapy session to attend in the afternoon and wouldn't be home any earlier than 5PM. This was fine with me, as I wanted to do some specialist grocery shopping, while in London. I could do that and then make my way to Tom's to arrive after 5PM.
When I was married, my evil ex-mother-in-law found out about an all-you-can-eat buffet of chinese food in Northwest London. Being from Hong Kong, she maintains a connection to a network of fellow Cantonese speakers, who share information about good places to get inexpensive chinese food, amongst other things. After her and her husband tried the place out, they took me and my evil ex-wife there, for dinner one night. The restaurant is Zen Tian Di and is located on the top floor of the Oriental City Shopping Centre, 399 Edgeware Road, London NW9 0JJ. We liked it so much that Zen soon became one of my evil ex-wife's favorite place to go eat.
We soon discovered that Oriental City itself was a wonderous mecca of Oriental shopping. It includes a supermarket which bills itself as the largest Asian supermarket in Europe. Before she locked me out in the cold, my evil ex-wife (also known as "the Black Queen"), taught me how to make chinese style stirfrys. Toward the end of my marriage, I routinely was making these tasty dinners for myself, when I would get home from work. When I set up household on my own, during our separation, these tasty meals formed a convenient staple of my cooking repitoire. However, to make them I require some ingredients that I find I can't get in my local Sainsbury's and Tesco supermarkets. The supermarket in Oriental City has the ingredients and in large, economical sizes, making it a great place to shop. The only drawback, for me, is that it's a bit far from where I live, so I try to go here when I am in London for some other purpose. So, I set off, yesterday to replenish my supply of some chinese cooking ingredients. I also decided I could have lunch at Zen Tian Di, while I was there. Over the years I attended Zen Tian Di with the Black Queen, we learned that lunch is cheaper than dinner. Always one to go for a bargain, the Black Queen opted for us to go there for lunches predominately, rather than dinners.
Now, I had never before gone to Oriental City via public transport. During my marriage and since, I had always driven. But as I had a Travelcard and plenty of time to kill, I reasoned that there must be some way to get there via public transport. Fortunately for me, the same Northern Line that I used to get to my casting call, also goes to the nearest Tube Station to Oriental City. Well, at least the other branch does. I merely had to go one stop back to Camden Town, then switch to the other branch of the Northern Line. I was armed with a business card from Zen Tian Di, from a previous visit, and it had a map on the back. The nearest Tube station is Colindale Station. From there I had to walk a bit.
Now Lunch at Zen Tian Di ends at 3PM. By the time I got there, it was 2:30PM. The charge for lunch was posted as £6.50. All you can eat for £6.50! That seemed even cheaper than remembereded. They make up for it by charging a lot fodrinksls, though. entereded seeking to be seated. The staff cautioned me that they closed in just 30 minutes. I didn't mind. I was on my own and could eat plenty in that time. I reasoned that if I ate enough, I could skip dinner later. I had two lovely platefuls. I was one of the last patrons to leave and it was only 3:15PM by the time I had paid the bill. Tom had cautioned that the earliest he'd be back home would be 5PM. I asked him to phone my mobile when he got back, which he said he would do. Shopping for ingredients would only take brief time, so I decided to sit on a bench in the atrium of Oriental City, where they have a stage and sometimes performances, and read, relaxing after my meal. After relaxing for awhile, I went about my shopping. Then it was time to make my way toward Tom's. I still hadn't heard from him, but I figured I would start making my way there, so when he called, I would be close by.
As I was walking back toward the Tube station, I saw a bus stop. As my Travelcard gave munlimiteded rides on Tubes and busses, I figured I would save my feet and ride the bus the one stop to the Tube station. Several men joined me wating at the bus stop, but they grew impatient waiting aneventuallyly started walking. I had plenty of time. Subsequently, a woman walking the other way informed me that the busses were temporarily not running down that street, because further up, the road was closed due to some sort of excavation work. Great! I returned to slowly walking to the Tube station. You would have thought some rocket scientist would have put a sign up on the bus schedule to inforpeoplele that the busses weren't running. At least it wasn't raining.(To be continued...)

My Lucky Day?

Written 14th July, 2006:

Yesterday, I went to London to attend a casting call for a music video. I figured that as I had spent the money to get into the city, I might as well make use of the Travelcard and make a day of it. Red Ken has finally won a round. Between the increase in the congestion charge to £8 and the high cost of petrol these days, I gave in an took public transportation. As I could travel off peak, I could get the train from Bracknell, plus an all zones Travelcard for only £14. That would certainly be less than the petrol, congestion charge, and parking. Plus, I like denying Red Ken the revenue.
The day started off badly, because I overslept, so I started getting ready about an hour later than I had intended. I trimmed my fingernails, showered, washed my hair, and shaved. I had breakfast and gave my teeth a good brushing. Then I had to get dressed. I had to print out the directions to the casting call. Couldn't find the tie I wanted to wear. Uuuuggghhhh! Settled for an alternative tie. Couldn't find my A to Z for London, Where the heck did I put it? Not in the car. Hadn't it been in my holdall from when I spent a couple of days in Wembley, back in January? The same holdall I was taking with me, now? Not in there now. Where's the stuff I took out of it, earlier? There's my A to Z! I planed to visit Tom, the injured Cyclist, after my audition and shopping. Tom had given me his address, but not any directions beyond which tube station to go to. He then said an A to Z was necessary.
When I finally left the house, I was an hour later than I had intended. How long would it take me to walk into town, to the train station? I have never walked there, before. It's a 3 minute drive. It took me 35 minutes. By then, the next train is the 11:35AM to London Waterloo. It takes a little over an hour to get to Waterloo casting call appointment was for 1:15PM. I needed to take the Northern Line tube train from Waterloo to Kentish Town. Should be enough time.
By the time I got to Waterloo and walked to the Northern Line platform, a train was just leaving the station. Oh well, another one would be along in a couple of minutes. I have just under 45 minutes to get to my appointment on time. There's a problem. The Northern line Branches at Camden Town, the stop before Kentish Town. So only some of the trains go to Kentish Town. The train I just missed went there. The next one doesn't. Most London Underground stations have digital signs that advise how many minutes before the next couple of trains arrive and where they are going to. Looking at the sign, the one after the next one is also not going my way? Why is it so many in a row aren't going the way I need to go? I ended up waiting 25 minutes till one arrived going on the branch I needed! I now had 15 minutes to go 10 stops on the Northern Line. I started worrying. I didn't want to be late for my appointment. It might not go down well with the casting director. Most of the stops seemed close together. If it was only a minute between stops, that would mean 10 minutes, then that would give me 5 minutes to walk to the address I was going to from Kentish Town station. I started feeling stressed. Come on train, goooooooo! Stop by stop we went. Finally, I was at Kentish Town station.
Riding the escalator up to ground level, I checked the time on my mobile. It was 20 past the hour. I was five minutes late, already! I dialed the casting director's mobile. She answerestraightht away. I told her who I was and said, "I am walking from Kentish Town Tube Station toward you, now." She didn't sound bothered. They had only scheduled 15 minutes between each appointment. Maybe the person before me was running over...hopefully. Finally, I was there! The director for the video let me in and introduced himself. He led me upstairs. I apologized for being late, but he said not to worry about it. We had a little chat about hivisionon for the video and what role he had in mind for me. He asked about my background and experience then said he liked my face. Surely, that's a good thing? He didn't seem to like my suit. He asked if I haanythingng posher looking. Not really. He mumbled something about them possibly being able to costume me. He liked my glasses. Oh well, that's something. Then it was time for them to video me. A young woman already cast in the video was there to do a scene with me. The director explained the scene and what he wanted me to do, in general terms. "Action." I started doing my bit. He wasn't happy, he gave me some more instructions...keep rolling. I continued, finally he liked some of what I was doing. Then we were done. They said they had my contact details and would be in touch, They were done with the young woman, as well, so she and I walked out together. On our way out, I saw that the next appointment had arrived, a woman, so she was being considered for a different role. At the main road, the young woman and I were going in opposite directions. We said our goodbyes and she said she hoped I got the part. Me too! 13 is my favorite number, because I don'believeve in luck, bad, or otherwise. So, would my audition on the 13th of July turn out to be successful? Only time will tell.

Lesbian Kiss on Big Brother and Opal Bonfante

Written 11th July, 2006:

I haven't said much about "Big Brother," lately. There are a couple of reasons for that. I haven't been watching it much, lately. Bill Buckley has been on holiday (vacation, for my American readers), so I haven't been talking about it on air. I sort of fell into being an unofficial "Big Brother" correspondent on Bill Buckley's radio show, which airs on LBC 97.3, London. Outside of London, LBC can be heard on Sky Channel 0177, or via their website, at: Finally, I have not been spending much time on the Big Brother forums, in the Channel 4 Community, where I post under the name, "Joe Black."
So, I feel like I have been letting "Big Brother" fans down, a bit. My top 24 Myspace "friends" is currently dominated by "Big Brother" related "friends." I intend to keep it that way until the series finishes. Last year, I watched series 6 almost constantly. This year, I have found the housemates less interesting. That's not just because I auditioned this year and didn't make the final selection. Pete is a great guy, but now that the novelty of his tourretts has worn off, I am finding him less compelling to watch. The word, "dull" comes to mind, but I don't WANT to say that, because I like him so much. While I don't know if I could stand living with Nikki on a day to day basis, I find her hilarious to watch. Glyn can be amusing, but also a bit dull. Suzie I think of as "Snoozie."
Last night, I was watching the daily summary show, while eating my dinner, when things got interesting. The housemates were playing "Truth or Dare." I have never played this and it may be a British game. When I was a kid, in America, there was a game called, "Truth, Dare, Consequences, Promise, or Repeat." How's that for a title? I am not sure if these are the same. I didn't play that one either. This Truth or Dare game on "Big Brother" seemed to involve dares of kissing various persons. At one point, Aisleyne ends up snogging Nikki. For my American readers, "snogging" is a very intimate kissing, with tongues and everything. Wow, this was sexy! Last year, in Series 6, the sexiest moment, for me, was when Sam (a very pretty female) snogged Makosi ( a slightly less pretty female, but still quite good looking). Nando, my former Italian housemate, who watched "Big Bother" with me, last year, also loved seeing beautiful women snogging each other. A lot of men like this sort of thing. Sometimes people refer to this as lesbianism, but men really don't like lesbianism, because that would leave us out completely. I guess we like bisexuality in women. Men like to see pretty, girlie women kissing, for example, not butch looking women.
Speaking of lesbianism, I called Opal Bonfante, last night, to make up for not calling her Sunday night. Opal's Myspace profile lists her as a lesbian. I have mentioned this to her before and she seemed to imply that wasn't true. I think it says her age is 98, as well, and that certainly isn't true. Opal was doing her usual, Monday through Thursday night, 10PM to 2AM shift, on the Big L, 1395AM, London. (Sky Channel 0190 or on the net: ) We had a lovely chat. She seemed very complimentary and kept singing. I wondered if she had been drinking. She complemented my voice again, repeating her claim that it's "overtly sexual." She surely lives up to her description as hot and funny. I requested she play one of Dannii Minogue's new songs. While she was checking to see which ones she had, she dropped me in it and told me to fill the link while she looked, because she was away from the mic. Gee, no warning or preparation and I am left to fill air on my own! I tried to rise to the occasion, initially babbling on about Dannii Minogue's CD, "Hits and More," then going on about whatever else came to mind. After Opal came back to the mic we ended the call and she went with "So Under Pressure." Opal followed this up with one of Dannii's older songs, playing two Dannii songs back to back! How cool would it be to see Dannii snogging Opal?


Written 8th July, 2006:

Those of you who have been reading my blog from the beginning will remember the problems I encountered, a couple of weeks ago, getting hot dog buns. If you haven't been reading me long, you can find back issues in the archives. Since then, things have seemed to settle down in the hot dog bun market and I have been able to keep myself supplied.
Yesterday, as I was on that side of town anyway, I decided to do my pre-weekend shop at the bigger Tesco, on the other side of town. I was running low on many crucial supplies...only two buns left, almost finished my next to the last package of Herta Jumbo hot dogs, into my crisp (potato chip) reserve, only half a package of spaghetti left, only one Cadbury's Fruit and Nut bar left, almost no meat left at all, and completely out of Tesco Value cole slaw. I was also getting low on Tesco frozen "sweetcorn." Here in England, they insist on saying, "sweetcorn," all the time. Back home, in America, people used to just say "corn." It's not like Tesco sells sourcorn, for Pete's sake!
I wound my way through the aisles, working my way down the store, as I usually do. 500 gram size of Tesco Value cole slaw, check. Picked up some Tesco Value stir fry mix. Hot dog buns, maked down because they reached their sell-by date, saving 22 Pence! Herta Jumbo hot dogs, still on sale, buy one get one free, and in stock (during my last shop at my local Tesco, the Hertas were out of stock on the shelves). Tesco spaghetti 1 kilogram, check. Tesco Select crisps, in a twelve pack, check. Things were going swimmingly. I decided to treat myself to a Tesco Appleade, with no sugar added, as I was almost out at home. And the crowning jewel, Tesco frozen sweetcorn...none! Bloody hell! I like to buy Tesco frozen sweetcorn, as it's cheaper than Sainsbury's frozen sweetcorn. It was a Friday and before 6PM. How could they have no sweetcorn in the freezer? Even the ridiculously over-priced Tesco Canadian Sweetcorn, which is always next to the regular, was completely empty. It's their own brand, for Pete's sake, why can't they keep it properly stocked? I wonder what my old friend, market speculator, Victor Niederhoffer, would make of that? I shall have to fall back on my emergency can reserve!

Happy Day After?

Written July 5th, 2006:

When I was a kid, there was a woman who lived in a house on the dead end road (here in England they say, 'cul de sac' -- how French sounding!) behind my house. I was friends with her two sons. She used to say, "Happy Day After!" with so much enthusiasm, I used to have a similar reaction as I would to seeing a six-headed, purple cat. I would just look at her and not really know what to think. To this day, she remains the only person I ever heard say that. She used to say it after holidays and I am not sure if she did after birthdays, too. It was many years ago and I can't remember everything.
A little over an hour ago, it became the 5th of July, here in England, the day after. In America, it's still the 4th of July. Independence Day...a national holiday. Coming the day after my birthday, it always seemed connected to my birthday, for me. It seemed to symbolize summer. The summer holiday. Barbecues and fireworks. In England, they do fireworks in November, for Guy Fawkes Day, and at the stroke of midnight, when New Years Eve turns into New Years Day. So here, fireworks are associated with winter, while back home, in America, they are associated with summer. This 4th of July saw the Space Shuttle launch again, like a giant firework rocket...and, thankfully, it didn't explode like one. Holidays seem to be the time I miss being home the most. The last time I was in New York was two years ago, from the 1st of July to the 5th. Summer has always been my favorite season as well as my favorite time to be in New York. The 4th of July is a strange holiday to spend in Britain, as it symbolizes America's successful rebellion against British rule. There doesn't seem to be any hard feelings about that now, over here. For an American expat living abroad, it always seems a time to reflect on home. For those of you in America, still celebrating...Happy 4th of July. Over here, it was just another Tuesday. For me, it passed like my birthday the day before...quietly.

Happy Birthday to Me.

Written July 3, 2006:

Today is my 47th birthday. I still remember being young enough that I looked forward to getting a year older. When you are a kid, getting older means less restrictions. But I have reached the stage where one doesn't really desire higher numbers. No wonder many women begin lying about their age. Sadly, it never seems like something men do. I still feel the same inside. I am the same person I was when I was little, just with a lot more experience. Some TV shows I wanted to apply for I have been excluded from, because I am older than the arbitrary line they set. Life doesn't stop at 35. I can pass for under 40...that's why they call it acting. Oh, and there's the horrible experience of fancying an attractive woman, just to have her say, "you're old as my father," or worse, "you're older than my father."
So, in some people's opinion, I am too old for some things, but still too young to get a Senior Citizen's discount. At least I didn't have to work today. I am doing nothing special for my birthday. I have received one card, from my mother. I am grateful for all the "happy birthday" wishes posted to me on Myspace. I have not received a single present. There will be no birthday cake and no party. No one is even taking me out for a drink. I can't afford to treat myself to anything. Maybe I will open a bottle of wine, tonight. Really, it's just another Monday. In America, Fourth of July celebrations are underway. Here in England, tomorrow is just another Tuesday. The Earth keeps spinning, 1000 miles per hour. So what else is new?

Calling Opal

Written July 1st, 2006:

I have called into another radio station. I was talking to radio DJ, Opal Bonfante, via Myspace, when she suggested I call in to her show. She can be heard on BigL 1395AM, Sky 0190, and supposedly via the net at:
She's very hot and funny, which is a great combination. I had told her Iain Lee had said I have a scary voice. She was kind of, like, "Iain who?" She lured me to come on her show, daring me to call in and let her hear my "scary" voice. I have trouble resisting dares. When I called the station's number, her producer answered...another guy. I said I wanted to talk to Opal. He said, "what about?"
She does a music show. This is not talk radio. I was bluntly honest. "She has been talking to me on the internet and she said I should call her show, so here I am, calling." He asked me who in was and I told him, "Joseph in Bracknell." Does he not know who I am? He put me on hold and, subsequently, Opal picked up the phone. She seemed genuinely pleased to hear from me. Perhaps she is a good actress.
I agreed to come on air. Of course I would, I love airtime. I had managed to listen to about 10 minutes of her show on Sky, while eating breakfast, so I was a little inhibited, as I wasn;t that familiar with their format, yet. She was playing old soul music, then "Another One Bites the Dust," by Queen. I worried that she would ask me for a request and I couldn't think of anything I wanted t hear that fit her format. James Brown popped into mind. "Doin it to Death," which is my favorite James Brown song, but they probably won't have that one. She was looking for the "saddest" listener to win a prize. Did I want to claim that prize? Well, maybe I could skip that. Before she put me on, she asked if I would be funny for her. Oh, put me on the spot, will you? I hardly know you! The things I get myself into for a pretty woman.
We started chatting on air. She said my voice is a little funny. Oh no! Not again! She brought up the saddest listener thing. Oh, I can't avoid it. I told her how I spent over an hour and forty minutes trying to get the live stream of the BigL just to hear her show. How sad is that? She seemed to think that qualified. She decided to give me the prize for "saddest listener," What an honor. Opal told me I had won a BigL goody bag. Wow, I could sleep at night now. Well, I do like free stuff. I had trouble sounding enthusiastic enough. I think she noticed. I let her know I had the reputation for sounding "laid back." Then she asked me if I wanted to request a song. Exactly what I was afraid of. Oh, I do know radio formats. I threw out "James Brown." She suggested one track by the hardest working man in show business. I said, "fine." Opal accused me of not caring. Well, she's insightful, I didn't. She suggested another one. Fine Opal, just do one of them! I mentioned that "Doin' It to Death" is my favorite JB song. As I suspected, they didn't have that one. She'd never heard of it and suggested I had made that up. It's real, I own a copy!
Opal also stated that I was a new listener and asked me what station they had lured me from. "LBC 97.3," I answered. She then chastised me for publicizing them! Well, Opal, you asked. Finally she said goodbye. I thought I would be put on hold, so her producer could take my details to send me my prize. Click! The line went dead. Oh well.
Opal then sent me a message via the internet, to call back in and give her producer my details for my prize. Apparently, the phone system at the station has a problem where it cuts people off when she tries to put them on hold from the studio. She continued talking to me via internet messages until her show finished at 2PM. Given that BigL's transmitter is down, I started wondering if she was so keen to select me as the winner because I was the only one listening. Then she said, on air, that she thought my voice was overtly sexual, rather than scary. Now that is a prize worth having!
Opal is on from 10AM to 2PM, Saturday. Tonight, she is covering another shift starting at 10PM. She also does London Calling from 10PM to 5AM, Mondays through Thursdays, on the same station. All times are UK time. If you live outside the UK, you do the math! Give her a try, she truly is hot and funny.

What Is It With Producers?

Written 27th June, 2006:

This past Friday evening, Caroline Faraday didn't do her regular show on LBC 97.3, London. As she was off, sexy celebrity, Abi Titmus, was filling in. For those of you not familiar with Abi, see:
As a regular listener and caller to Caroline, I tuned in especially to check Abi out, since she doesn't usually do talk radio presenting. One of the topics Abi mentioned was asking people to phone in with stories about flying. Oh, I had a good one! A funny thing that happened when I was working as a pilot in America, back in the 1980s. So I called in. Some producer answered. A male. Oy Vey! I usually have more success with female producers. I think the females like my voice. When you call in to LBC, the producer answers and asks what you want to talk about and this one was no exception. The producers can see, on their computers, if you have called in before. As I am a regular LBC caller, he would have been aware of that. I told him I wanted to tell Abi a story about what happened at an airport when I was working as a pilot. He asked for more information. What more do you need to know? I told him, "it's a funny story about what some pilots said over the radio." What an opportunity! How many pilots would they get calling in?
"Okay, I will try to call you back," he said, unenthusiastically. I suspected he wouldn't and I was right. It was if he wanted me to tell him the whole story first. When I called Bill Buckley's show with my earlobe joke, a male producer asked me to tell him the joke, first. I said I preferred to say it over the air. He questioned whether it was dirty and I assured him it was not. He knew I regularly called Bill so he trusted me. Bill liked my joke so much, he rated it as one of the top five that night. To me, calling in to talk radio is like performance art. I want the performance to be fresh. I don't want to do the whole thing, word for word to some producer, then try to recreate the magic on air. I am willing to give a summary of what I am going to say and do and that should be enough, I think.
Yesterday afternoon, I decided to call Iain Lee's show. Lately, Iain has taken to doing a Jack Bauer impression. He usually ends up doing this with other, British callers and they all do such bad American accents. So I thought up a bit where I call in as someone from CTU Los Angeles and speak to Iain as if he's Jack Bauer. As an America, I would sound the part better than anyone else. It would be great! So, I get his current producer, Agent Chris on the line. I say, "hi Chris," and he recognizes me and addresses me by name, as I have been on Iain's show before. I tell Chris, "I want to talk to Iain as Jack Bauer."
"You are going to be Jack Bauer," he asked? Several people have called in doing Jack Bauer impressions.
"No," I clarified, "I want Iain to be Jack Bauer."
"Ok, I will call you back," Chris said. He didn't ask anything else and he sounded positive, so I thought he would call back, as he has before. He didn't. Now one of the reasons I called was that Chris is being exchanged with Clive Bull's producer, Bob, as of Thursday. As Iain is off Today, Tuesday, to do "Big Brother's Little Brother," I couldn't do the bit with him, then. That leaves only Wednesday, then Chris is gone. What is Chris doing? For Pete's sake, Chris and I are even "friends" on Myspace! It would have been perfect today, as not long after I called in, someone else called in and said that Iain should stop doing Jack Bauer calls. Iain argued against this. How perfect radio it would have been to follow that call up with my Jack Bauer bit with Iain! This was an opportunity missed. What poor producing! No wonder Iain wants to get rid of him. Maybe I would have had more success with Bob. We'll find out.
I have just finish speaking on Adrian Allen's show, on LBC. He had a female producer. When I called in, she called me back fairly quickly and put me on. See what I mean? After my appearance on Adrian's show, he received an email from a Trisha who said she heard me on the show and liked how I sounded. She wanted to say, "hello" to me. Hey, nice! Hello to you, too, Trisha!
Of course, there is the great failure of "Big Brother's" producers to select me for the show, this year. Because of all these failures by producers, people are being deprived of my creative genius. No wonder the Queen hasn't knighted me yet.

Hot Dog!

Written 24th June, 2006:

For the past two weeks, I haven't been able to find hot dog buns at any of my local supermarkets. What is it about 21st Century Britain that procuring hot dog buns is so difficult? I primarily shop at Tesco and Sainsbury's. For those of you in America, that's like Pathmark and Walbaums, or Ralphs and Albertsons, or Piggly Wiggly and whatever other brand is popular where Piggly Wiggly is popular. These are big chains, here in Britain. Tesco is the largest supermarket retailer in Britain, while Sainsbury's is the UK's third largest. You would think they could keep hot dog buns in stock, especially now, when it's hot dog/barbecue season!
This all started a couple of weeks ago, when I was visiting my favorite local Tesco, the Martins Heron branch. While not the greatest Tesco branch, I like it because it is the closest to my home and is relatively quiet, so I can find parking close to the entrance, and the lines (queues--why do British people say, "queues?") are short. The only drawbacks to this store are the cashiers are ugly and they don't stock the 12 pack size of Tesco Select crisps, or the 500 gram size of Tesco Value cole slaw. I end up buying two 250 gram ones, which ends up costing me two Pence more than a 500 gram size would. Why the heck doesn't the store stock a full range of their own store brand goods? So anyway, I had this £2.50 Clubcard voucher (translation to American: Clubcard is the store'sloyaltyy points program...a frequent shopper card, so to speak, while a voucher is just a fancy pants British term for a coupon) I wanted to use, so I was trying to do most of my shopping at Tesco, rather than at Sainsbury's, which is my usual. I went down the bakery aisle, where I usually find the hot dog buns. I didn't see any. While I was searching the display for some, I overheard a woman ask a Tesco employee if there were any hot dog buns. This was prime intelligence for my mission, so in typical Jack Bauer style, I easedropped on their conversation. The Tesco employee said something about them not selling hot dog buns anymore, or something. Intelligence gathering isn't an exact science, ok? The woman who asked sounded frustrated and said, "nobody in town has any!" Oh-oh! This sounds serious. I only have a couple of hot dog buns left at home.
My closest friends, over the past three years, will know that, since my divorce, the hot dog has become a favorite stable of mine for breakfast, lunch, or late night snacks. I buy Herta brand, which is a quality make and the closest thing to Oscar Meyer on this side of the Atlantic. They are sold fresh, in plastic packs, like hot dogs back home, in America. Some Brits buy hot dogs in cans (and for some strange reason, call cans, "tins" -- British people sure do talk funny, don't they?), but not me. What I like about the hot dog is the ease of preparation. I just put it in the microwave and in a minute, I have a hot, delicious meal. With some American style, yellow mustard on it and a little Tesco Value cole slaw on the side, an easy breakfast or lunch is provided. Because of budgetary constraints, I only buy the Herta hot dogs when they are on sale, usually buy one get one free, or BOGOF, as the British say. Tesco and Sainsbury's often have a sale on Herta hot dogs, in alternate weeks. Thus Tesco has them on sale one week and Sainsbury's the next. Since the Martins Heron Tesco didn't have any buns, I would stop at the big Sainsbury's store on Bagshot Road, on my way home, as I drive right past it. Surely the woman exaggerated...there must be some hot dog buns somewhere, she probably just hasn't looked everywhere.
So, I stopped in Sainsbury's on Bagshot Road. No hot dog buns. This particular Sainsbury's had a bad track record with having no hot dog buns on the shelves last year, which used to cause me no end of aggravation. What's the good in having hot dogs on sale and no buns? That's it, I went home. I didn't feel like driving across town to the larger Tesco in Warfield. I would try again, next time.
The following Sunday, I tried again. Sainsbury's no, Martin Heron Tesco...closed? Who the heck closes onSundayy? So I schlepped over to Tesco in Warfield, which at least is open AND has the 500 gram Tesco Value cole slaw AND the 12 pack of Tesco Select crisps (crisps are what the British call potato chips, since they call fries chips--see, visiting Britain is's like foreign!). No hot dog buns!!! Then I did something I have never done before. I went to Waitrose. I had heard there was a Waitrose somewhere in Birch Hill. I don't like shopping there, because they have a reputation for being expensive and they don't have a loyalty card, but I was desperate. By now, I had no buns left at home and a couple of dozen hot dogs in the fridge. I managed to get to Waitrose just before they closed. No buns! They did have toilet paper selling at a price lower than Sainsbury's or Tesco, so I grabbed an economy 12 pack. They had some fresh, mini hero rolls selling five for 25 Pence. Maybe I could use those in the meantime. If I cut them half open, a hot dog should, sort of, fit. As I usually pay 63 Pence for six hot dog buns, this even saved me money.
After working at the Golf course last Saturday, I even tried the 24 hour Tesco in Wokingham, which isn't far from the Golf course. No buns! After using three of the mini hero rolls as substitute hot dog buns (not ideal but it worked after a fashion), by Thursday, the remaining two had gone moldy. Another crisis. On the way home from work, yesterday, I did a weekly shop at Sainsbury's Bagshot Road. Apprehensivelyy, I crept into the bakery section. What a dog buns! I happily grabbed a pack and relished the idea of a weekend relaxing, with hot dogs back on the menu.
If anyone can tell me why the supermarkets can't consistently provide hot dog buns, please let me know. Questions? Comments?