Saturday, March 31, 2007

He Who Hesitates is Lost: the Paula Story Part 2

As my relationship with Paula got under way, I was still missing the Great Michelle. I would compare them in my head and although Paula was very attractive, I kept getting stuck on the fact that Michelle was better looking. Because of that, I took my relationship with Paula a bit slow and easy. Eventually, I realized that Paula's personality made up for any looks advantage Michelle had. I have suspected that if I had proposed to Paula during the first two years, she would have agreed to marry me. Unfortunately, when I eventually did come around to definitely wanting to marry her, the moment was gone and she was unwilling.
We ended up living together in a rented condo, in Long Beach, New York, for a while. Paula always found me very funny and laughed at my jokes and witty comments. However, everything wasn't perfect. I was much more into cuddling than she was. She used to laughingly refer to me as "Mr. Velcro," because of how much I liked to touch and hug. Also, she was a bit of a workaholic and stayed late at her office on many evenings, while I waited home alone. Things got tense between us, at one point, and I moved back home. We continued dating and I helped her apply for a new job, at Princeton University. Although she stated out pessimistic, she got the job and became the Director of Graduate Admissions at the prestigious school. The bad news was that it meant she would be moving to New Jersey, an hour and a half from me.
After her move, I used to spend four days a week at her new apartment and three days at home. I spent my two days off there, but I ended up commuting two and a half hours to work, each way, two days per week. Eventually, I suggested that I move in with her again and she agreed. I changed jobs to a local employer near to Princeton. It was a change I came to regret. I had been working selling cars, originally intending to save up money for my bar exam review course. When I changed to a dealership near Princeton, I ended up in a very unpleasant working environment. I didn't have the support I had at my first dealership and as I was on commission, my earnings suffered. Finally, after a dispute between myself and one of the finance managers, I was fired. During the months I was working at this dealership, Paula was experiencing financial difficulties. With my earnings down, I wasn't able to provide her as much financial assistance as she would have liked. When I told her I had been fired, she broke up with me on the same day. It was just after Christmas, in 1996, and I asked her if I could wait till after New Year to move out. She agreed.
I found Paula so compatible with me that I felt like she was my best friend, as well as my girlfriend. Because of this, she is the only Princess class ex-girlfriend that I truly tried to remain friends with. I succeeded for a year and a half. Towards the end of our romantic relationship, when I used to suggest that we get married, she would say that as I was the only boyfriend that she'd ever had, how did she know if our relationship was as good as it gets? That was a question I couldn't come up with a good answer to. She may have been able to find men better looking, or with more money, but she would never be able to find someone who loves her more than I do.

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Friday, March 30, 2007

Tom's Mum

Tonight, Nando was working late. With M1 moved out, this meant that I was all alone for the evening. While watching a bit of TV, I turned to the telephone to fill the void in my social contact matrix. After calling one person who was unavailable, I called my real Myspace friend, Tom (formerly known as Tom the Injured Cyclist). I used the memory on my new, cordless phone, to retrieve Tom's home number. I pushed the button which causes the device to dial. Hearing the reassuring tones of the automated dialing, I awaited the familiar ringing. As expected, it came...the double tone of the British telephone system. Next, I anticipated Tom's voice answering the phone. Even though his flat is small, sometimes I have to be quite patient. He often finds some way to take ages to get to the phone. Suddenly, a woman's voice answers. It's not the voice of Tom's ex, who I have met. This voice sounds older and very posh. For a moment, I thought I had somehow dialled the wrong number. That can't be, though, as it was automatically dialed. I asked for Tom and the female seemed to recognize the name, although she hesitated suspiciously. She asked who's calling. Who is this?!!! Does Tom have some new girlfriend? She sounded a bit mature for him, though.
I said my name, "it's Joseph." She asked me to repeat it. I do. She seems to struggle. She repeated it back as something different...Jack, John, Jimmy, or something like that. I started to feel frustrated. How hard was it to comprehend "Joseph?" At the end of the day, what difference did it make? She doesn't live there, just put me through to Tom. If I hadn't been sick, I might have thought to just agree with whatever she said, so she'd put me through. Somehow, I managed to get her to put me through. I finally heard Tom's voice and the relief flooded over me like a cascading waterfall. "Who the hell was that?" I asked as soon as I had his ear.
"My maid?" He said, playfully. I pressed him for a serious answer. He caved in rather easily. "It's my Mum," he admitted. Over here, saying "Mum" has the same affect as saying "Mom," in America. In other words, his mother. The human who gave him birth. His DNA genesis. Well, half of it. I guess that whatever frustrations I have with Tom, they are ultimately her fault. I was struck by an eerie thought. Might I have alienated her with the whole name thing, before I even had the chance to meet her?
"What is she doing there?" I asked, with sharp curiosity. More to the point, why was she answering the phone? Sadly, I didn't ask the second question. Tom informed me that Mum was there for a visit. Given how small Tom's flat is, I crinkled my nose at the thought of them sharing such close quarters. Then I remembered that when she had gone to bring Tom to the phone, she had said she would try to "find" him. It shouldn't be hard. Look behind the door, dear. I wish my mother would visit me.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Lemsip and Ginger Cake

The first thing I should tell you is that I caught a cold, or the flu, or something, this week. How do you tell the difference between a cold and the flu? Everyone else always seems to get the flu, while I seem to get colds. I guess I don't feel the need to be overly dramatic about it. It stated with a scratchy throat on Sunday, and now it's full blown. I'm sure I had a fever when I got home from work, today. I had this suspicion that, somewhere, I had some leftover cold and flu medicine. This Saturday will be one year since I moved into this house. I still haven't completely unpacked. Last night, I rooted around amongst some of my not yet unpacked stuff and I managed to find my old bottle of decongestant spray. Some help, but not a panacea. Tonight, I was determined to find the complete cold medicine. Success!
I found a crushed box of Lemsip Max capsules. For those of you not familiar with the UK over-the-counter drug market, Lemsip originated as a powder you make into a hot drink, which relieved cold and flu symptoms. Quite ironically, it is lemon flavored. I used to use it, but boiling the water and mixing the powder with it was so much bother. Then some genius decided to expand the brand and put Lemsip into capsules. No need to boil water and spend time drinking stuff. Just swallow two capsules and away we go. The bad news is that there were only two doses left in the crushed box. I decided to take one dose at 8PM. It's good for four hours. That would cover the evening's TV watching. I kept the second dose in reserve and hope to buy more on the way home from work, tomorrow. Once I started to feel the effects of the Lemsip, I felt so much better. Over the last hour, I have slowly eaten a generous sized piece of ginger cake. Now I feel high on ginger cake and Lemsip. The fever is gone and I actually feel pretty good. Billy Crystal once played a character who said, "it's better to look good than to feel good." I think I disagree with that. I may not look that good, but I feel good and that's great.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Am I Being Type Cast?

Yesterday, my agent called. When I received the voicemail, I felt excited. Oh boy! Work!! Of course, me being me, I waited till I got home to call back. It's cheaper calling from my home phone than from my mobile. At home, I pulled up the number for the agency from the memory on my fancy, new, cordless phone handset. I love technology. The phone rang at their end. A woman answered and told me her name, which was entirely forgettable. I asked for the woman who had left me the message. The answerer asked my name. "Joseph Brennan," I said.
"What was that surname?" she asked again.
"Brennan," I replied.
"Can you spell that?" she asked.
I SHOULD have said...I should have said, "yes, T.H.A.T." Instead, I thought, "oh for fuck's sake," and said, "B.R.E.N.N.A.N." She put me on hold.
She came back off hold and said, "the person who called you was...," giving the exact same name as I had asked for when she answered. Duh! She then said that the woman was busy and could I call back tomorrow. It's nice to know they are so desperate to speak to me. "Hold everything, Mr. Brennan is on the phone."
"What time should I call back?" I asked, for further clarification. I didn't want a repeat of this fiasco.
"In the morning," she said. Gee, how specific. I agreed and hung up. Damn, that would mean using my mobile phone. Why the heck couldn't she just call me back? Maybe the agency owns shares in mobile phone companies. The real way they earn money is by luring desperate actors to call them from mobiles.
I decided to call at 10AM, during my breakfast break. So today, I pulled out my phone during breakfast, in front of my co-workers, and brought up the agency's number from the phone memory. I love technology. When the agency answered, I asked for the same woman I had asked for yesterday. Again, I was asked my name. I gave it, but this time the person who answered managed to understand me on the first go. The woman I needed to speak to came to the phone. Even though I had given my name to the person who answered, I said my name again and that I was returning her call. She sounded like she had no idea who I am. Great. I reminded her that she called me, yesterday, then she seemed to remember. She then asked me if I was available at the end of April and the beginning of May, for a couple of days of filming. "Sure," I said.
She went on to tell me that she wanted to submit me for some show for the Discovery Channel. "They want Americans," I heard her say. Am I being type cast as an American? It seems that most of the work I have gotten, over the past nine months, has been because someone was looking for Americans. At the end of the day, I don't care too much, so long as I get work. She asked me if it was okay for her to submit me for the show. What was I supposed to say? No? So I told her yes, to please submit me.
After I hung up, I turned to the Nepalese I call "Billy," who was seated to my left, and said, "that was my agent." You gotta love the pretentiousness of it.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Spice of Life

Once again, I find myself sitting in front of my computer, wondering what to write about. Some days things just come to me. Other days, I struggle to think of a theme for an article. I promised myself that I was going to bed early, for a change, but here I am again, up late. I saw an item in the gossip column of my favorite newspaper. It was Mel C of the Spice Girls, saying she didn't want the group to get back together. I am sick of this roller coaster of a ride my emotions are taking over the on again, off again Spice Girls reunion rumors. I want the Spice Girls to get back together more than I want anything else in the world. Doesn't everyone?
Okay, maybe that was a slight exaggeration. I would certainly rather live forever, be rich and famous, and find the love of my life (again) than have the Spice Girls get back together. But I do want the Spice Girls to get back together very much. Recently, the British group, Take That, have gotten back together, minus Robbie Williams. I couldn't care less, but if they could do it, why not the lovely Spice Girls? What better thing does Mel C have to do with her time, these days? What do any of them have to do? Mel B has just been dumped by Eddie Murphy. Victoria is traipsing around in David Beckham's shadow. Geri Halliwell has, what? Has she finally gotten so thin she's disappeared? The one who had the best solo career, recently, Emma Bunton, seems to be falling on hard times. Her latest album seems to have fallen flatter than it's CD cover. Why do celebrities get it into their heads to quit something that's making money, in the first place? I say ride that gravy train as far as it goes. Look at the Rolling Stones? They're still going, after all these years. Someone, out there, try that cosmic ordering thing on the Spice Girls. If we all order it, surely it will happen, won't it?

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Monday, March 26, 2007


In the early hours of Sunday morning, the clocks were supposed to be put forward one hour, here in Britain. It's taken me almost two days to notice and change every clock in my life. To be honest, I didn't change two of them. One was my computer's clock, because it changes itself. The other is the clock on my VCR, as I never put it back in the autumn, so it's still on summer time from last year. A growing number of people are questioning the wisdom of changing the clocks twice, every year. I was questioning it before it was fashionable to do so. This has got to be one of the most pointless of pointless exercises. Moving the clocks about doesn't save any daylight. It just shifts the indicated time when such daylight as there is occurs. This is almost as bad as recycling.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Artist of the Week: Melany Moloney

I have noticed the growing impact of Hispanic musical artists on the Anglo-American music market. Shakira, from Columbia, and Christina Aguilera, who's father is from Ecuador, are just a couple of examples that come immediately to mind. This week, I have selected a lesser known singer, who I recently discovered, Melany Moloney. The 22-year-old beauty describes herself as a "Colombian-Australian" artist. She writes and sings in both English and Spanish. Her work has achieved success in international song contests, like the Canary Islands International Song Contest and a first place finish in the prestigious John Lennon Contest, Latin Category, for 2006. Melany describes her music as Euro-Latin, with a touch of Colombian folklore. She has a lovely, clean voice, that appealed to me the first time I heard it. You can check her out on Myspace, at: .


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Wooing Paula

I guess I have taken a long enough break since last writing about the heart breakers. Next, after the Great Michelle, was Paula. About two weeks after I received the letter from Michelle breaking things off with me, I flew to Los Angeles to attend a law school recruitment fair. I had already missed the one in New York, so I decided to catch the LA one. This was in November of 1989 and it was held in one of the big hotels near LAX airport. While walking through the ballroom where all the exhibitors' tables were, I happened upon the one for the New York Law School. The representative from the school was the Assistant Director of Admissions at the time, Miss Paula Bryan.
Standing behind a table piled with recruitment brochures, Paula was tall and slim, with chocolate brown skin. She had a small, delicate face, with dark brown eyes that twinkled. Her eyes were framed with long, soft eyelashes and she had a smile that a friend of mine later described as "lighting up the room." Instantly charmed by her dark, warm beauty, I turned up my natural charm and humor to maximum overdrive. I ended up spending two and a half hours talking with her. She gave me her business card and urged me to call her when I got back to New York. The question in my mind was, was she interested in me on a personal level, or was she just trying to recruit me?
I did call her back in New York, but still things were ambiguous between us. After I didn't receive an offer from my first choice schools, Paula sent me an offer of a full scholarship to attend the New York Law School. I accepted, starting in the fall semester of 1990. I kept running into Paula, once I began attending the school. I kept flirting with her and talking to her at every opportunity, but she seemed to be playing things very reserved. I saw one of my classmates talking to her and I felt jealous. I figured women would think he was better looking than me, but he came across as a bit sleazy and insincere. I hoped she wasn't falling for his bullshit. I eventually managed to arrange to have lunch with Paula at a restaurant within walking distance of the school, but still she acted like we were just friends.
After a year and a half of this inconclusive banter, I decided to make a play so blatant that she couldn't be confused about my intentions any longer. In the late spring of 1991, I asked Paula to go to see Penn and Teller on Broadway, on a Saturday night. Happily, she accepted. I arranged this to be the date of all dates. I picked her up at her Brooklyn home, where she lived with her mother, in a stretch limousine. As I walked up to her door, carrying a dozen roses for her, people all over the block stopped to stare. One of her older sisters had come over to see her off, as well. Once under way in the limo, I opened a bottle of champagne. Paula only had one glass and I was left to finish the bottle on my own.
The limo dropped us off at the door of the Marriott Marquis Hotel, on Times Square. We had a reservation for dinner at the revolving, rooftop restaurant, the View. I was a little tipsy from all the champagne and ended up banging my head on the edge of the limo door. Happily, Paula didn't notice. After dinner, we walked a couple of blocks to the theatre where we were seeing Penn and Teller, the illusionists. If you ever get a chance to see them, they put on a great show. When the show was over, another stretch limo was waiting for us outside. It whisked us to my favorite dance club in New York, the Palladium. We spent a couple of hours dancing and drinking cocktails. Finally, the limo took us home. We dropped her off first, of course. I walked her to the door, but there was no kiss goodnight. I rode the rest of the way to my home on cloud nine. Whatever happened now, at least my intentions were clear.
After a day or two, Paula called me to thank me for the date. She agreed to see me again. Finally, we were dating. Our second date was a complete contrast to the first. I went to her house and we walked to a local ice cream parlor. We bought ice cream and walked back. It was so old fashioned and laid back, I was totally bewitched with her. I don't remember whether it was our third, or our fourth date, but I remember the first time we kissed. It was standing on the walkway of the Brooklyn Bridge, overlooking South Street Seaport and the East River. I later learned that our first date was the first date Paula ever had. As amazing as it seemed, this 26-year-old beauty had never had a date before, nor a boyfriend. She was virginal in every way. I was glad I made her first date ever a night to remember.

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Little Scotland Annie

Yesterday was Annie's birthday. Who's Annie? She's this woman who works where I work. She mans one of the two coffee bars that our restaurant provides, out in the office complex. I have no idea how old Annie is, although, judging by the wrinkles, I would guess she's over 60. She is so pretty, I always tell her how pretty she looks. She says it brightens her day. She has short, blond hair and sparkling eyes, sitting behind delicate, rimless eyeglasses. She's so thin, I might even say too thin. While she may not have voluptuous curves, her delightful, pixie face is so lovely, I don't usually notice her boyish frame.
Not only does Annie look lovely, she's got such an innocent, gentle way about her. I have never seen her angry, or even heard her utter a cross word. She also has a gentle, Scottish accent, probably because she's from Scotland. It's not one of these harsh Scottish accents that some people have, but caresses the ear, like a gentle sea breeze on a summer day. Why is it that people from Scotland talk so funny? You'd think they'd notice that they speak differently from the rest of the people in Britain. It can be endearing on certain people, like Scotty, from "Star Trek," or on Annie herself. On others, not so, particularly on the men. I notice that I keep coming across older Scottish women who look very beautiful. What is it about Scottish women that they can look so good in their later years, while many other British women look like they are coming apart at the seams? Annie's husband is fortunate to have a wife who's still such a delight.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Cat Nap

I have fallen into a new pattern. I keep falling asleep while watching TV, then waking up in the middle of the night. I thought one cause of this was not taking my traditional nap when I get home from work. Since Nando came back from Italy, I have been sitting with him and watching TV, when I get home, rather than napping. Here in England, many people say "kip," instead of nap. I wonder where that came from? They have lots of odd little ways of saying things, here. That's one of the things that makes Britain a fun place to visit if you are American. They sort of speak English, but it's different enough to feel foreign. Anyway, today I did have a kip, but still I fell asleep early, then woke up again. Oh dear, what ever is happening with my sleeping pattern?
Sometimes I think it would be great not to have to sleep. I know I feel sleepy just because there is a chemical released in my body to make me feel that way. If I didn't have to sleep, there would be more time to get stuff done. I wouldn't feel pressured to rush out a blog article and end up writing about almost nothing. On the other hand, I enjoy sleeping so much. Have you ever noticed how cats sleep a lot? That must be the life. The biggest decisions a cat has to make, on any given day, are, "do I sleep now, or latter?" and "should I sleep here, or there?" Oh no, the birds have started chirping. Maybe that's why cats chase birds, so they will stop making that bloody racket and ruining an opportunity to sleep. Oh well, I am off to bed.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

We have a new manager at the restaurant. He's working alongside the old manager, who's training him. In a couple of weeks, the old manager moves to his new position. In the meantime, there's two of them. The new guy seems like an easy going sort of fellow, which suits me fine. So long as he doesn't make my life difficult, I'm happy. Anyway, I was walking by the manager's office, on my way into the locker room to get my things and go home, when I spied a box containing several bottles of wine. Being the kind of guy that I am, stuck my head in the office and said, "is that wine for me?" Of course, I was totally kidding.
To my shock and awe, the manager said, "you can have two bottles," while the new manager looked on.
"Really?" I asked, suspecting that my leg was being pulled. He confirmed that the offer was genuine. Now I felt bad. I'd only been teasing, but he was going to actually part with wine. It had been used for some special wine tasting thing during lunch. He reassured me that it was okay to take some, saying that he'd already given some away. The bottles were opened and partially used. If I didn't take it, it was just going to waste. He offered the new manager some, as well. Good, train the guy to give me free stuff. Not being one to turn down an opportunity for free stuff, I looked through the bottles there, reading the labels on each one.
"I said you could take two," the manager commented, "I didn't say you could pick."
I looked up, innocently, and replied, "as there are six bottles present and you said I could take two, I figure some selection is required." He yielded at my impeccable logic and I went back to making my selection. As I usually seem to end up with white wine, I picked a bottle of Merlot. Nando prefers white to red, so I selected a bottle of Chardonnay, as my second pick. Armed with my windfall prizes, I got my coat form my locker. Then I went to my work area to collect the food I was bringing home, today. I had a bucket of rice, a bucket of lettuce, and a bucket of frozen chicken from a box the chefs were throwing away. Together with the wine, it was a cool haul. I shall raise a glass in honor of free stuff.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Cake Versus Liqueur

I spent the evening watching TV with Nando. Ever since he got back from Italy, I have been offering him cake. Up till now, he's been declining. When I got home today, I informed him that I had brought some chocolate cake home with me. While Nando has been turning down ginger cake, for the past few days, I know he has a soft spot for chocolate. After watching some "Friends" re-runs and some "Simpsons," Nando asked for a piece of cake. I asked him if he wanted the ginger cake, as I have loads of that. No, he wanted the chocolate. I gave him a piece and let him eat it on his own. I hadn't had my dinner yet, so I didn't want to spoil my appetite for dinner by eating cake ahead of time.
After watching "Eastenders," Nando decided to watch "Two For the Money," a film I had watched on Saturday night, starring Al Pacino. Pacino is one of Nando's favorite actors. According to Nando, Pacino can make even a crap film seem good. Nando sees Pacino as "Italian." All of a sudden, Nando went upstairs. When he came back down, after a couple of minutes, he had a bottle in his hand. He called out to me from the kitchen, asking if I wanted some liqueur. My Italian housemate said it was home made and whole nut flavored. I accepted. After all, the price was right. I tried a sip and it tasted flavorful, although with a slight after taste of paint remover. I saved the rest for after my dinner, when I would also have some chocolate cake. When I was finally ready to finish it, I tried to entice Nando to give me some more, asking him if he was going to have some more. It didn't work. He was saving the rest for another night.
This is one of the things I like about Nando. We give each other stuff. I give him cake, while he gives me liqueur. Sort of one hand washes the other. You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. Quid pro quo. Gee, there are so many cliches for it. Also, like me, Nando doesn't like to drink alone. With the boy gone, life was good in the house, again.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Passing Two Lorries

I was driving home, Friday, after stopping at the supermarket, when I noticed a fairly new Porsche 911 in my rear view mirror. The road to Bracknell, from Sandhurst, alternates between four lanes and two, in several places. When I first noticed the Porsche, we were on the four lane section along side the Meadows shopping centre, in Sandhurst, from whence I had just departed. After a traffic light, the road narrows to just two lanes, one in either direction. I usually try to pass as many cars as possible before it narrows to two lanes and that day was no exception. I tried to be quick about it, as a courtesy to the Porsche driver, as he seemed to be trying to do the same. I wasn't quite able to overtake a French car, driven by some woman, before the road narrowed. I felt a bit frustrated at this, because while she wasn't driving excessively slowly, she wouldn't go as quickly as I would. I noticed the Porsche drop into line a couple of cars behind me. He hadn't been as aggressive as I expected, given what he was driving.
I impatiently followed the dame in the French car, a Renault or Peugeot, or something like that, waiting for the road to widen again, just before the next light. Jockeying for position, approaching the light, I was ever mindful of the Porsche behind me. While I was driving my trusty BMW 730i, with 200 horsepower, the 911, in the hands of any descent driver, could eat me alive. Just for fun, I was trying to see how long I could stay ahead of the 911. This particular traffic light is invariably red, so the key is lane selection. After the light, there is only a short distance till the road narrows again and the two lanes of traffic have to merge into one. Sometimes, there is the opportunity to pass some of the slower cars before it narrows. It's frustrating to get stuck behind a slow car there, because it's a long stretch before the opportunity to pass again. Waiting for the light to turn green, I flipped through the radio stations on my car stereo, looking for a descent song. Friday evening rush hour traffic was on the heavy side. This is the last traffic light before Bracknell.
The light turned green and the waiting cars began to move. I'd opted for the right lane again, as is usually best at this intersection. American readers should remember that we drive on the wrong side of the road, here in Britain, so the right lane is the passing lane, here. I managed to pass a couple of the slower cars on the left, but still ended up stuck behind the woman in the French car. The French may do lovely things with snails and champagne, but I am underwhelmed with their autos. This broad was holding up some serious German iron and she wasn't even that good looking. The 911 didn't fare much better and he was still a couple of cars behind me. This guy driving it seemed to lack the killer instinct. Although his car was faster than mine, he didn't seem to have the cojones to press that advantage. We followed along, single file, as the road gently curved on the way out of Sandhurst. I abandoned the radio and switched to my Girls Aloud CD, selecting a fast track, "Something Kinda Ooooh." It's appropriate music to drive fast to.
The road passes through a final roundabout (traffic circle for you Americans) at the bottom of a hill, then heads uphill through Bracknell Forest, toward Bracknell Town. Just as it starts uphill, it widens again to two lanes, allowing the passing of slower moving vehicles. Ahead, I could see a long line of cars behind a lorry moving up the hill. Acceleration is made more difficult, because you are going uphill at this point. I urged as much power as I could from 12 year old Beemer, slingshoting into the right lane coming out of the roundabout. In my rear view mirror, I could see the Porsche do the same. Finally, the dame in the French car fell by the wayside. Still, I accelerated. The Porsche had finally caught up with me and was hugging my rear bumper. Just past the crest of this hill, the road narrows again, so there is a limited time in which to pass as much of the slower traffic as possible. I could see myself closing on the lorry, but I was quickly running out of room. The angled arrows appeared, indicating that it was time to merge. I was running out of roadway. I pressed on, running across the chevrons on my right side as the lane narrowed, but just managed to slip ahead of a minivan. I had ended up right behind the lorry. Even though I cleared the minivan with plenty of room to spare, the driver was one of these chimps who can't stand to be passed by anyone else. He flashed his lights at me, which is what drivers do here, rather than blowing their horns, to signal disapproval. Screw him and his petulant, luminant outburst, I was looking for a way to get around this lorry ahead of me (for my American readers, a lorry is a truck). The Porsche hadn't had the stones I did, so he merged in even further behind me than he was before. That was the last I saw of him.
The road dips down into a small valley, before rising again, up another hill, with evergreen pine forest on either side. Opportunities to pass are rare, especially if there is any degree of oncoming traffic. At the top of the final hill, the road passes through a roundabout where the turn off for Crowthorne is. It opens into two lanes briefly, just going into the roundabout. The roundabout is narrow, but with the right timing,it's possible to stay right, as if you are making a U turn, then merge back left and pass a slow vehicle on the roundabout. The lorry was long, being a tractor trailer combination, but that was my plan. It would only work if none of the vehicles on the oncoming side were turning left at the roundabout. As the lorry began to slow and stay to the left, as expected, I scanned ahead. I could see no left turn signals flashing. I maintained speed and began passing the lorry to my left. Entering the roundabout fast, I slingshoted around it and out the other side, completing the pass without causing the lorry driver to have to brake. Ah, the adrenaline rush of success.
Ahead, the road widens to two lanes again, as the road from Crowthorne merges in from the left. It stays two lanes for about a quarter of a mile, where it enters another roundabout. Coming out of that roundabout, the road becomes single lane again. Up ahead, I saw yet another lorry! This one was from Waitrose supermarket, which is a common sight in and out of Bracknell, as there is a big Waitrose depot in Bracknell's southern industrial area. I roared ahead without hesitation, Girls Aloud egging me on. I needed to catch that Waitrose lorry by the next roundabout, or I would be stuck behind him the rest of the way into town. I stayed in the right lane, accelerating all the way. The roundabout ahead was the intersection with Nine Mile Ride (isn't that a cool name for a road?) and the right lane in the roundabout is supposed to be used for turning right. There was no one ahead of me. Traffic entering the roundabout from Nine Mile Ride, to the right, or anyone on the oncoming side, turning left, would screw things up for me, as one must yield to traffic from the right at roundabouts. However, oncoming traffic continuing straight would cause the Nine Mile Ride traffic to have to yield to them, so that would help me. It was going to be close. As I approached the roundabout, I scanned the traffic on the right, prepared to hard brake if a vehicle was coming to intersect my path. It looked clear. The green and white Waitrose tractor trailer slowed to enter the roundabout. I maintained speed, hugging the right lane in the roundabout, passed the green cab of the lorry, eased up off the throttle and flicked the wheel to the left. Girls aloud sang away, "Something kinda ooooh...makes my heart go boom-boom..." I made it, with room to spare. Ping Pang! Two lorries passed in two roundabouts. The Porsche left far behind. Oh, it's great to be alive and driving a well built, German car.

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Still Time To Nominate

Folks, there's still time to nominate my bog for the Best of Brit Blog Awards 2007, sponsored by Metro newspaper and Remember, you don't have to be a UK resident to nominate. Nominations close on March 22, so hurry, there are only a few days left! The more times I am nominated, the better. It costs you nothing and, after all, you get to read my blog for free, so throw me a bone and let me get a little recognition. I might win a prize, as well. Thanks to all those who have nominated me, so far. The rest of you, come on! I don't usually ask for much, other than to date your friends and for stuff you are going to throw away anyway. To nominate my blog, go to: . Thanks, I love you all.


Another Chance to See Me On TV

For those of you who missed my big "Seconds From Disaster" episode, it's airing again, Wednesday night. It will be on the National Geographic channel at 9PM. National Geographic channel is available on Sky 526, Virgin TV 230, and Tiscali 112. These are available to folks in the UK, Ireland, and some parts of Western Europe. National Geographic Channel in America airs "Seconds From Disaster," as well, but on a different schedule. The order of air dates in America differs to the UK. Check your local listings in America. The episode is "Texas Oil Refinery Explosion." I play Chief Accident Investigator Don Holstrom, for the US Chemical Safety Board, in the reconstruction. I have the biggest part, but mostly appear in the second half of the show. Also, I filmed this without glasses on. If you missed it the last time it aired, be sure to catch it this time. It's a great show, if I do say so myself.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Britney On the Rebound

Gossip has it that Britney Spears has fallen in love with someone she met during rehab. His name is Jason Filyaw, aged 33, and he's a guitarist with a rock band. Gee, a reformed alcoholic rocker with a less than stellar music career. Is that what Britney needs? I think not. Supposedly, she wants to move in with him. This all seems rather quick. Our Britney seems to just bounce from one relationship to another. It's been four years since my divorce was final and I haven't moved in with another woman, yet. If she needs someone to be supportive of her, we all know to whom she should be turning, don't we? So why hasn't someone given her my email address, yet?

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A Real Mother For Ya

Here in the UK, it's Mother's Day, today. My mother lives back in New York. It's not Mother's Day in America until May sometime. This affords me the luxury of watching from the sidelines as the vast majority of the British public run around trying to comply with the social pressure to conform to the commercially driven expectations of "Mother's Day." I didn't have to buy any flowers, nor take anyone out for a meal, today. I relaxed around the house and enjoyed some ribs for breakfast, and some calamari for lunch. Magnifico!
For the first time in my life, I miss my mother. We never got along too well, when I was young. She never told me she loved me and never once hugged me. She used to experience what I would call, for lack of a better word, "episodes." Sheer fits of rage where she would throw stuff and scream things. When I was a child, I learned the best policy was to keep my distance from her. At times she used to threaten to kill herself and me. I figured it was just talk, as she never actually did it. One time, she chased me around the house with a pair of scissors in her hand. I was able to run fast when I was a kid, so I got far enough ahead of her that I was out of sight for a moment. I grabbed a baseball bat and waited in the kitchen for her. When she started to come through the doorway, I swung. Fortunately for her, the bat hit the wall. She seemed to get the message, because she froze, then turned around and left me alone. When I was 16, I was in the back garden, working on my bike. She called to me from my bedroom window to come upstairs for a moment. As I approached my bedroom door, I noticed movement with my peripheral vision. Perched one step up the stairway to the next floor, she was swinging a big old wine bottle, half filled with pennies, towards my head. I caught her arm in my hands and disarmed her. By then I was physically bigger and stronger, so I could fend off her attacks. The thing which annoyed me most was that it was my bottle of pennies she was trying to hit me with.
More recently, decades later, she told me that she hadn't actually intended to really hit me with the bottle of pennies. Maybe she wasn't, or maybe she was. In my twenties, she always seemed to manage to do something which would cause me great difficulty. We went through long periods of time not speaking to each other. In my thirties, not only did she refuse to attend my wedding, she never met my evil ex-wife, the Black Queen (BQ), until after we were married. The BQ found my mother's refusal to meet strange and put pressure on me to get my mother to agree to meet her. All my mother was willing to do was call and speak to her on the phone. When she did, she proceeded to tell the BQ that she shouldn't marry me. Gee, thanks Ma.
For most of my adult life, my mother routinely used to predict nothing but failure for me. One of her favorite things to say was that I would end up homeless. So, when the BQ started divorce proceedings against me, I was reluctant to tell my mother. I figured she'd just say, "I told you so" and I didn't want to hear that. After the BQ locked me out of the house and I spent two months living in my car, I thought, "oh great, she'll say she was right, I've ended up homeless." It wasn't until I was in my second rented accommodation, nine months after my wife started to divorce me, that I broke the news to my mother. To my surprise, she was comforting and supportive. After the betrayal of my evil ex-wife, all my anger towards my mother, which I had carried for years, suddenly left me. I realized that, by and large, my mother never meant me any harm. To me, what the BQ was doing was worse. The BQ betrayed a solemn oath to me and her perjurous statements in our divorce were intended to hurt me, and separate me from money.
After my divorce, my mother and I got on much better. Okay, it wasn't perfect and there were still occasional flareups by her. We haven't spoken for the past nine months, although we have exchanged birthday cards and she sent me a Christmas card, which arrived after Christmas. She kind of freaked out during a phone conversation with me, last year and asked me not to call her anymore. I wish she was on the internet, so I could email her. For the first time in my life I want to take care of my mother and, ironically, I am not in a position to. We are 3,500 miles apart, separated by an ocean and I don't have enough money. For the past four years, one of the biggest motivations I have had, to achieve success, has been so I can take care of my mother. I wish I could start sending her money again, like I used to do when I was first married. With all of your help, I can. Get as many people as you know to read my blog and to add me as friends on Myspace, if they are on it. With a big enough following, media opportunities or a book deal might come within reach. Then I can earn enough to take care of my mother and, of course, I can entertain you lot. Is there a way to have violins playing while people read this blog?

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Artist of the Week: Christina Aguilera

This week, Christina Aguilera has captured the honor of being my Artist of the Week. Pretty much everyone knows who Christina Aguilera is. Her current album, "Back to Basics," was released in August of last year. The first single from the album, "Ain't No Other Man," achieved financial success, but for some reason left me feeling less than inspired. I loved the look she has taken on (a Marilyn Monroe inspired style) and thought she was very hot in the video, but something musically didn't quite gel for me. The second single, "Hurt," I didn't even notice. Recently, I saw the video for her third single from "Back to Basics," entitled "Candyman." The style of the song is based on pop music from the 1940s and 50s. The first thing I thought when I saw it was, "wow!" Always a good looking woman when she lets herself be, I think she looks the best in it that I have ever seen her look. Simply gorgeous. The song reminds me of "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," by the Andrews Sisters, to which it sounds very similar, musically. In the video, she's duplicated, so there is a trio of Christinas, each with different hair color, dressed in navy uniforms, singing. This very closely recreates the imagery of a filmed performance by the Andrews Sisters, which I have seen, years ago. The tune is catchy and I instantly fell for it. It motivated me to select her for the featured slot, this week. You can visit her official Myspace page at: . Well done Christina. You go girl!


Saturday, March 17, 2007

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

Do you want the good news first, or the bad news? The good news is that M1 is moving out. In fact, he's mostly gone already. He spent most of this afternoon ferrying his stuff to his new residence. I am happy to see the back of him. I don't suffer fools gladly. I won't have to listen to his ridiculously loud exhaust system on his car anymore. But...the bad news is, this means I won't see the Exotic Flower anymore. That's right, no more of the exotic beauty, who had more curves than sense. It's not just that I will miss her sizzling hot, sexy body, her girlish ways, baby doll eyes, and sensuous voice. She gave me so much material to write about.
M1 decided to accept an offer from the Flower to move into her parents house. Her father must have more tolerance than I do to agree to a man moving into his 17-year-old daughter's room. As recently as Thursday, M1 was complaining to me about how annoying women (read the Flower) can be. Today, before they'd left the house, they were bickering with each other and I heard him shout at her for the first time since I met them. If he gets that aggravated seeing her part of the time, what's he going to be like living with her? On top of that, he will have mum and dad to contend with. All that just to save a couple of hundred Pounds a month in rent. In the long run, I think it would have been better to try to get more steady work. I predict that it will all end in tears. Darn it, that blows my plans to try to get the Flower to give me free haircuts.

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Some Commentary

I feel like I have been a bit remiss over the past couple of weeks. I haven't commented on quite a few things that have been going on in the world outside my personal life. There is too much for me to catch up writing a blog article about each item, so I have decided to post some brief comments on some of the things that have caught my attention, here.
Fines for being caught using a mobile (cell) phone handset while driving have doubled, here in the UK. For the first time, penalty points will accrue to licenses, if you are caught. What a load of crap. Are people in Britain somehow less capable of driving a car than people in other places? While the totalitarian State of New York has joined the nanny state band wagon and also banned handset use while driving, some places in America don't seem to have. I see people driving and using handsets in American TV shows all the time. As most American TV shows are filmed in California, it leads me to suspect that California hasn't succumbed to the lure of banning handset use yet. I hope one of my California readers will comment and confirm whether that is so, or not. Newsflash doesn't take having two hands constantly on the wheel to drive safely. Mobile phones were originally intended to be used while driving. Studies show that talking with a hands-free kit is just as distracting as using a mobile without a hands-free kit. What's next? Banning conversation in cars?
Not to be less than thorough, the terrocrats here are prosecuting people caught eating while driving and drinking non-alcoholic beverages while driving. If you weren't meant to drink while driving, they wouldn't have invented cup holders. When you are stuck in bumper to bumper London traffic, during the morning commute, you might as well have an egg McMuffin.
The man who would be Emperor (i.e. Prime Minister), Gordon Brown, continues to come out with daft suggestions. Recently, Gordo has suggested that immigrants should be required to do community service before becoming British Citizens. As an immigrant, let me say the following. Sod you, Gordo. Most of us immigrants work hard at jobs that native Brits turn their noeses up at and for less pay. If you don't require community service from native born, why should you from us? Why don't you get your own, power hungry ass out there and do community service? Actually, just disappear as that would be the best service you could do anyone in this country.
Not to be outdone, Prince Charles called for McDonald's to be banned to promote a healthier lifestyle. Maybe princes should be banned, to promote a saner lifestyle.
Scotland Yard confessed that police are hunting more than 4,000 suspects who have jumped bail over the last two years. Maybe if they weren't so busy trying to stop motorists from eating some crisps while driving, they'd have time to attend to the bail jumpers.
That's enough for now. I'm hungry.

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Nando's Dad

I was awakened, this morning, by the sound of Nando entering the house. By the time I threw something on, he'd gone into his room. I debated with myself whether to knock on his door, but decided not to. After a quick visit to the loo, I was brushing my teeth, when I heard him go downstairs and into the kitchen. I quickly followed, intending to welcome him home. I also wanted to find out how his father was. Nando's trip had been prompted by his father suffering a sudden heart attack. As I entered the kitchen, Nando was putting food away. Whenever he goes to Italy, his Mama always sends food back with him. I immediately asked him what happened. In response, he twirled his finger in the air, exactly like the international aviation hand signal for "start engine." Confused by this, I said, "what?" Nando then verbally informed me that his father had died. I expressed my condolences and asked when he'd died. Nando told me that his father had died a week ago. I was disappointed about this outcome. Not only because I hadn't gotten to meet Nando Papa yet, but because I don't do death well. I never feel like I have anything worthwhile to say when someone I know loses someone to death. Nando gave me the details. I think he will be okay, as after we got off the death topic, he managed to make a joke and smile. Okay, enough about this now, as I don't like to get too heavy on my blog. As you raise a glass for St. Patrick's Day, perhaps you could raise one round to Nando's dad.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

A Redeeming Supermarket Visit

I've been bringing so much free food home from work that I haven't been to a supermarket in two weeks. I decided to stop at Tesco on the way home from work, today, because I needed squash and ketchup. I'd received my Tesco Clubcard vouchers in the post, so I wanted to redeem them. I had a voucher for £2 off my shopping bill. They also sent me several offers, as they tend to do. I think they monitor my purchases and send me vouchers aimed at the things I tend to buy. I was able to use half of them. They gave me a voucher for a free Tesco "bag for life." No, it's not some magic bag that you can use to save your life if you get sick or injured. That would be handy, wouldn't it? It's another of these greenish ideas. It's a reusable bag for your shopping, with handles. so you don't need their disposable carrier bags. Normally, they sell them for ten Pence. I guess they've figured that I am never going to pay ten Pence for a shopping bag, so long as they give me free disposable carrier bags. If they can lure me to use the "bag for life," I suppose it will save Tesco money on free carrier bags.
Another voucher was for a chance to win a bunch of Clubcard points. 1,000, or 10,000, or 100,000, I don't remember which. I always redeem that, not that I ever win, but it costs nothing and you never know. Then there was this voucher for half off a box of Orville Reddenbacher's microwave popcorn. I can always use popcorn. Walking the aisles of the store, I soon realized I would have trouble having enough in purchases to equal the £2 off I was trying to redeem. I needed cole slaw, so I got a container of that. I bought four bottles of apple and blackcurrant squash. Most folks in America aren't going to know what squash is. In America, when someone says "squash," we tend to think of a vegetable (in reality it's a fruit), a member of the gourd family and related to pumpkins. Here in the UK, squash is a drink concentrate. It's fruit flavored and you add water to it to make a drink.
As I was wandering around in the store, I saw a woman going in the opposite direction. She wasn't bad looking, so my attention was drawn. Close behind her followed a shopping trolley (a kart, in America) and pushing the trolley was a little boy dressed in a superman costume. I wonder if the boy was a relation of hers, or did she hire him? I contemplated buying some microwaveable rice. They are a good back-up for when I don't feel like waiting for rice to cook. I remembered that I had used a couple packets from my reserve, at home. I could do with replacing them, but when I looked over the prices, I didn't like what I saw. The cheapest on display would have cost me a minimum of two quid and that would put me quite a bit over my target spend. There was no sense buying stuff just for the sake of buying it. Besides, I have seen rice like that cheaper, before. I decided to buy four packets of ramen noodles, instead. At eight Pence each, they would help make sure I was over the £2 without pushing me way over and I was sure I was low on my supply of them at home. I almost forgot to get ketchup and I really needed that.
Once I had acquired a bottle of the cheapest ketchup, I looked for a checkout counter. They all looked busy and most had several people waiting in line. What was going on? It was before 5PM, so why was it so crowded? On Sunday, it's Mother's day, here in Britain, so maybe that was the reason. Strolling down the lane by the checkouts, moving in the direction towards where my car was parked, I passed a little boy wearing a Power Rangers costume. Another boy in a costume? What the heck? It wasn't Halloween, was it? No, Halloween is at the end of October, this is mid March. I later learned that as it's "Red Nose Day," many schools let kids wear costumes to school for the day. Maybe they should have the kids dress like that all the time. How sad do you have to be as a kid to want to walk around in public, dressed as Superman or a Power Ranger, when it's not even Halloween? Surely I was never that much of a dork when I was a kid, was I? Red Nose Day, St. Patrick's Day tomorrow, and Mother's Day on Sunday...what a mad weekend!
I settled on a checkout line that looked relatively short. As I watched an older woman and a child slowly putting goods on the belt in front of me, I spotted a shorter line at the next counter. Quickly, I moved over one lane to take advantage, before some prowling old age pensioner got there first. It always seems to end up that the lane I pick moves slowest. There were two people ahead of me, but the woman at the front insisted on dividing her purchases into four piles and paying for each of them separately. Because of that, I wound up getting to the front no sooner than I would have if I had stayed where I was, originally. The cashier should have a button to eject muppets like her. When it was my turn, I handed the cashier all my vouchers. I took my free "bag for life" and packed it so all my purchases fit in the one bag. After my vouchers were deducted, my total bill came to...drum roll please...70 Pence. That's the equivalent of about $1.40. The first shop I had done in two weeks and I only spent 70 Pence. That must be a new record for me. I set off for home with a smug look of satisfaction on my face.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Big Issue With the Flower

Tonight, I fell asleep while watching "A Town Called Eureka." That's not a reflection on the show, but on the fact that I was up till three in the morning and didn't have my afternoon nap. The sound of M1's key in the front door lock woke me up. As the door opened, in walked M1 and the Exotic Flower. Instantly, I snapped awake. It wouldn't do for the un-dynamic duo to catch me asleep in front of the TV. M1 would use that as an excuse to try to get the channel changed. It was the first time I have seen the Flower in almost a week. I watched a lot of music videos, yesterday, and had several I wanted to discuss with the five feet, two inch, brown skinned beauty.
I offered the Flower a piece of cake, as she has demonstrated a sweet tooth on previous visits. I get the cake free, from work, so it's easy for me to be generous. She declined, citing a recently consumed Indian meal as the reason. I changed the channel to +1, so I could catch the end of the episode I had fallen asleep on. We chatted during advertising breaks, while M1 sat on the opposite side of her from me, doing his best imitation of a vegetable. After "A Town Called Eureka" finished on +1, I changed to "Skins" on E4 +1, in response to a request from the Flower. She and that guy...what's his name? Oh yeah, M1. She and M1 like watching it, and I like it, too. During this particular episode of "Skins," the main character, Tony, is talking to a guy he knows who sells "The Big Issue." "The Big Issue" is this newspaper that homeless people sell as an alternative to begging. I am sure there used to be a similar idea in New York City, called "Street News." I like "Street News" as a title, better than, "The Big Issue," as it sounds less pretentious. I wonder if they still sell "Street News" in New York? Do they still have homeless people in New York, or did Giuliani have them all killed? I asked the Flower, "Do you ever buy 'The Big Issue?' "
She shook her head, with a bemused look on her face, as if the idea were completely preposterous, and added, "no," just to make sure I didn't get the wrong idea.
"Why the fuck would anyone want to buy 'The Big Issue,' " I asked, "when you can get a "Metro" for free?" The Flower laughed in response. It was a contagious laughter and we both ended up laughing. It was nice to share such a genuine moment of laughter with her.
I pondered one of life's eternal questions. Which is more annoying, someone begging, or someone touting "the Big Issue?" The British can be a soft touch when it comes to people who appear to be "needy." It's almost like they share a collective guilt for the former glories of the British Empire. One surefire way to atone for it is to buy a useless newspaper from someone who looks down on his luck. I fondly remembered another phenomenon from the days when I used to commute into Manhattan, back in America. That was the South Americans I used to see in the subway stations, quietly selling chewing gum and mints. When there was a strike of newspaper delivery truck drivers, they even sold the newspaper. Not some made up newspaper that no one would want to read, but a major daily that was affected by the strike. I liked these South Americans for a couple of reasons. First they were quiet. That's probably because they didn't speak English well, yet, but it made them so unobtrusive. They just stood there, displaying their wares. If you wanted some, you bought. There was no touting. The second thing was that they provided a useful service. They didn't approach the whole undertaking like a charity case, but like budding entrepreneurs. I wonder if they are still there, or did Giuliani have them killed off, as well? Perhaps they were erased from the New York Subway System in wake of 9/11, another casualty of the new security consciousness as western nations march ever onward on the road to a totalitarian police state.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Holy Shamrock, It's Almost St. Patrick's Day

I just had a thought. It's almost St. Patrick's Day and I haven't made any plans for celebrating it. The ideal thing would be to travel to Ireland for it, but I can't afford to do that, now. So, what shall I do? I don't know any Irish pubs around here. There were plenty of them, back in New York. In New York, there was always a St. Patrick's Day Parade. I even marched in it a couple of times. There's nothing like that around here. When I was a kid, myself and my fellow children were encouraged to wear something green on St. Patrick's Day. Who the heck came up with that? I don't really own a lot of green, these days. I have decided to indulge in a long held desire to learn to play Bridge. I have been invited to play in my first Bridge game, this Saturday. I probably won't get the others to play with green cards. Maybe I can put on a fake Irish accent during the game. What do you think? Will that work?

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Key Note

When I arrived home from work today, M1's car was parked in front of the house. I usually get home before he does, but I was a bit late coming home, so I didn't think too much of it. I entered the house and it was quiet. After going upstairs, I noticed a dirty footprint on the carpet, outside M1's door. I figured he must have worked today and was resting. When he's been to work, h sometimes leaves dirty footprints. He works as a laborer and often brings a bit of his work home with him. I like to have a nap when I get home from work, myself, so I shut myself in my room, set my alarm to wake me in time for "Eastenders," and went to sleep.
My alarm was set for 7:55PM, as "Eastenders" was starting at 8PM, tonight. At around 7PM, the doorbell rang. I figured it was someone soliciting for donations. A woman had come to the door last week, around that time, asking for a donation. I sent her away, of course. I don't have money to be giving away, at the moment. Whoever it was this time, he or she went away and I turned over and tried to go back to sleep. A little while later, the doorbell rang again. This time, the person kept ringing it. I wondered why M1 didn't answer it, as it was probably for him? No one just turns up at the door for me or Nando. The ringing continued. Then there was tapping. Why doesn't this person just give up and go away? I usually sleep with no clothes on, so getting up to answer the door would involve getting dressed. I didn't want to bother, so I just tried to ignore it. I could hear a voice or voices outside. Probably some of M1's friends. Why don't they just go away? Then someone started throwing pebbles against my window. I was worried that the window would end up getting broken. I went to the window and yelled, "what the hell's the matter with you?"
It was M1. He gestured for me to open the door. "Where's your key?" I asked.
"Inside," was his disappointing reply. I angrily got dressed and then went down to let him in. He told me he'd been locked out since this morning. If he'd been locked out since this morning, why didn't he call the landlord to come open the door? Not long after he moved in, he locked himself out of his room. You would have thought he'd have learned his lesson, then. This boy and locks don't seem to get along. Another thing, if he was locked out all day, why wasn't he sitting on the doorstep when I came home from work? Where was he then? He knows what time I usually get home, why did he wait until two hours later, when I am usually asleep, and come knocking then? I went back into my room and got back in bed. M1 fooled around in the house for about ten minutes, then I heard his car start and he drove off. Nando is due back in three days. I can hardly wait.

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Monday, March 12, 2007


A new series started airing on UK TV, four weeks ago. That series is "Heroes," an American show, which is already a hit on the other side of the Atlantic. While in America, "Heroes" airs on a major terrestrial network, NBC, here it is being shown on a slightly more obscure channel, Sci Fi. Billed as "the new 'Lost,' " "Heroes" combines elements of "Lost" with a taste of the miniseries, "The Lost Room." The show tells the story of an assortment of people, each of whom have a special power. There is a cheerleader who's body heals from any injury, a cop who can hear other people's thoughts, an artist who's paintings foretell the future, and a young man from Japan who can bend space-time, amongst others. Their lives gradually intertwine and they seem to be coming together to prevent New York City from being destroyed by a nuclear explosion.
Nando likes "Lost," so I have been trying to get him into "Heroes." He's watched the first three episodes, but is not entirely enthusiastic about the show. Admittedly, "Heroes" doesn't have the same dramatic intensity that "Lost" has. Its production style gives it a slightly more surreal look. The main thing which puts Nando off is that the show is on Sci Fi. Nando has convinced himself that he doesn't like science fiction. Because "Lost" originally aired here on a major terrestrial channel, Channel 4, then moved to Sky One, Nando can watch it while ignoring the science fiction elements to the show. Had "Heros" appeared on one of those channels, I suspect Nando would have embraced it wholeheartedly. Still, I am hopeful that Nando will get over his sensitivity to the Sci Fi label and warm to "Heroes." It remains to be seen if the rest of the British viewing public will also find and embrace "Heroes."


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Artist of the Week: Kaiser Chiefs

This week, my Artist of the Week is the Kaiser Chiefs. This new wave/alternative rock band, from Leeds, England, was originally formed in 1997. They hit the big time last year, when they won three Brit awards: Best Group, Best British Rock Act, and Best Live Act. All the acclaim that came their way, last year, put me off a little. I found their music okay, but I didn't think that the amount of fuss that was being made over them was warranted. Their current single, "Ruby," which hit number one in the UK charts two weeks ago, has caught my interest and motivated me to take a second look at them. This is their most successful single to date and is my current profile song. "Ruby" was the motivation for awarding them my Artist of the Week honor. You can check them out on Myspace, at: .


Saturday, March 10, 2007


lYesterday, Pino, the Italian chef, was walking around work with a jar of black olives. Whenever he walks by my work area, he usually makes some comment. He's taken to calling me "Jesse." I have no idea why, but I can't really complain as I make up names for people, myself. For my part, I put on a faux Italian accent and utter a load of Italian sounding sounds. Pino is the oldest chef at the restaurant. His hair has gone all white. He's from Napoli, the same as Nando. They are ever from the same district. Noticing the jar of olives in his hands, I said, "I don't like olives, but I like olive oil. What's that all about?" Pino had no useful insight to offer on the subject. What is that all about?

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Less Waiting For James Max

This Sunday, London radio presenter, James Max will be starting his Sunday evening show at a new time. The show, which airs on LBC 97.3, London (available on Sky Channel 0177 or via the net at: [so even those of you outside Britain can listen] ) moves to its new time of 5PM, UK time, which is two hours earlier than it used to start. That means you have less of a wait till you can hear James, this Sunday, than you did this time last week. Isn't that exciting? It's still the same duration of two hours, so now it will finish at 7PM. I like the new time, because it doesn't clash with prime time TV on Sunday nights. You can get to know the real James Max via his Myspace profile ( ). For those of you who don't yet know, James was a contestant on the hit UK TV reality show, "The Apprentice." Add him as a friend and send him a message. He likes receiving messages and comments and will respond. He also loves getting new friends. He does an entertaining show of light talk. No matter what the issue, he never gets too heavy, so you aren't put off work on Monday. Listen Sunday and you never know, I might call in.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

I Itch

Gosh, I itch. On my face. It's because I haven't shaved for days. I keep getting up late in the morning and I have to rush to get to work, so I end up skipping shaving. Once the hairs on my face get a certain length, they start making my face itch. I so hope I am up early enough in the morning to shave. I keep staying up late at night, blogging. Then I don't want to get out of bed in the morning. Speaking of shaving, I've found that the old fashioned single blade disposable razors last much longer than the fancy multi-bladed ones. And they cost less to buy and all. Sometimes simple solutions work best.


I Feel Like I'm Turning Into My Grandmother

This afternoon, I was putting water into the colling system of my car, when the thought struck me, again. I feel like I'm tuning into my grandmother. There I was, pouring water into the filler opening, from a bottle of Tesco still water, which I keep refilling. Yesterday, I added a quart of oil to the engine. You see, my grandmother was one to keep adding fluid to her car. Another way I have become like her was when I started mending my trousers (see "Trouser Trout," 1 June, 2006). Also, I've stated saving old newspapers and saving old plastic containers, hoping to store left-overs in them. I have picked up the habit of turning off all unnecessary electric lights, to save on electricity. I sometimes fall asleep while watching TV. Grand used to do that. She also snored, which I do. I save old supermarket bags and keep a couple in my locker, at work, so I can have something to carry home leftovers in. She used to bring home packets of ketchup, sugar, and cream, from the cafeteria at her place of employment. I often try to turn down the heating, to save on heating bills, and I have started walking in a similar fashion to the way she did. I find myself thrilled to find a sale on at the supermarket, like she was. One other thing, I eat food that's a bit dated, as did she. It seems we both benefited from a cast iron stomach.
Maybe I'm just getting old. There are ways in which I'm not like her. I have this attraction to women that she never shared. I drive fast and well. She was the worst driver I ever saw. She didn't like talking on the phone a long time, while I do. In that way, I'm more like my mother. I've traveled abroad. She never did. She never owned a mobile phone, nor used the internet. Then there's the smell. I hope I never smell like she did. Hey, in a lot of ways she was sweet, but she did have a body odor issue. Don't worry, she won't read this. She's dead. That's another difference...I'm still alive.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Elizabethtown Isn't Where I Thought It Was

Tonight was another night in, alone. Nando still isn't back and The Others (M1 and the Flower) were out. This gave me the opportunity to watch "Elizabethtown," starring Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst. It's a romantic comedy, so it was good to watch it without Nando, as he hates romantic comedies. I enjoyed this film a lot. Dunst plays a quirky flight attendant, Claire, who latches onto a suicidal Drew, played by Orlando Bloom, while he's going to his father's hometown on the occasion of his father's death. Claire is such a lovable gal, I can't help wondering, are there any Claires like her in real life? Before I saw this film, I thought it was set in Elizabethtown, New Jersey, but it's actually set in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Where ever it is, I'm glad I found it.


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A Heated Kitchen

For the past few days, at work the Head Chef has been away, so the Sous Chef has been in charge. Today, he seemed to be in a foul mood. He'd had me peeling onions this morning. The thing I don't like about peeling onions is that it's time consuming. Whenever I peel onions, I get behind on my other work. Today was no exception, so after our breakfast break, I was very busy trying to get caught up. At about 11:30AM, I was using the pot washing machine to wash the cookware. I was very busy, trying to get caught up before lunch. All of a sudden, Pritam came along, pushing a trolley loaded with shelving from the walk in fridges. He wanted to wash the shelves in the machine. I looked at Pritam and told him that he could have washed the shelving by hand, in place. It's quicker. He doesn't want to wash the shelves by hand , as it's more work. Using the machine is easier, although it takes longer.
The Sous Chef overheard me telling Pritam to wash the shelves by hand and yelled out that they can be put in the machine. The Sous Chef then walked up to where we were standing. I explained to him that if Pritam put the shelves in the machine, I wouldn't be able to use it for the stuff I was cleaning. This would result in me being late finishing and I don't get paid for any extra time, if I don't finish on time. The Sous Chef responded by screaming at me, calling me a lazy (expletive deleted, expletive deleted). As he walked off, I shouted after him, "if you ever speak to me that way again, I'll sue your ass." Pritam just got out of Dodge and took the shelves with him. Actually, Pritam had the best response. He just took the shelves to the plate wash room, which is quiet at that time of day, and washed them in the machine there. I wish I'd thought to suggest that.
About an hour later, the Sous Chef asked Chef Anthony to do something and Anthony complained. He accused the Sous Chef of sitting in the office with his feet up and not helping. Once again, the Sous Chef got angry. He stormed into the walk-in freezer and stats bringing out stuff himself. From the way he slammed the door, I got the sense that he was angry. After a few minutes, Chef Anthony joined him. Anthony started to walk away, again, when a package of frozen chicken is thrown on the floor, behind him. He decided that the Sous Chef had thrown the chicken at him, deliberately. This got Anthony angry and he picked up the frozen chicken and tossed it at the Sous Chef. The Sous Chef complained about that and they begin shouting at each other. Suddenly, Anthony announced that he'd had enough and was going home. He walked out, in the middle of service. The rest of us were a bit shocked. I've never seen a chef walk out before.
For the rest of the day, the Sous Chef was rather quiet. I guess he was brooding to himself. I joke around with Pino, Jum, and Phil, about leaving." The old saying goes, if you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen." It will be interesting to see if Anthony turns up in the morning.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

The Call of the Mild

Isn't it strange how, as kids, we often don't want to go to bed? Then, as "adults," we usually can't wait to get into bed. Bed is on my mind, right now, as I feel very tired and long to go to bed. It also seems like we, as "adults," have a harder time getting out of bed, as well. Have you ever been awake, but tired? It's as if your bed is calling out to you. That's how I feel now. I feel so sleepy, I just want to lay down. Come to think of it, how come it never mentions Jesus sleeping, in the bible?" Sleep feels so good. It's like the most fun you can have, without coming down with a sexually transmitted disease. I'm going to go indulge myself in some sleep, right now.


Sunday, March 04, 2007

I Screwed Up a Bit

I forgot to let you all know that a TV show I did was airing, yesterday. I only found out Friday evening. I meant to write about it, here, but forgot, as I went out for the day, yesterday. I only got home just before the show started and when I remembered I hadn't written about it, it was too late. It was the first episode of "X Forum," on Legal TV, which airs on Sky Channel 215. I don't know if it will be repeated, but don't fret. Legal TV have promised to send me a link by which you can watch it online. I will let you know when I have that.

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The Flower Buys Me a Drink

Late on Friday night, going in to the early hours of Saturday morning, I was continuing the evening of watching TV with the Exotic Flower and M1. The Flower brought out a bottle of peach schnapps. It was an unknown brand, similar to Archer's, but cheaper. Because of M1's irregular employment of late, they have had to make certain sacrifices. The Flower is so into top brand names, it must have really shot holes in her self-image to have to stoop to buying a cheap, unknown brand. I still remember when I asked her and M1 if one of them had been using my store brand shampoo, a few months ago. "We only use band name products," she sneered. Oh how the mighty have fallen.
The Flower asked M1 how to judge how much a shot is, without the benefit of a shot glass. He told her to pour two fingers, but didn't explain how to judge the two fingers on the glass. After watching her tentatively fiddle with the glass, I suggested that the size of the glass used would affect how much is poured to the level of two fingers. The Flower was using a pint glass, which I suspect is too big to use to measure shots. After she poured herself some peach schnapps in an amount substantially more than a single shot, she added soda. As an after thought, she turned to me and asked if I would like a drink. "Sure," I said. This is the first time the Flower has ever bought me a drink. Well, it's not quite buying me a drink, more like sharing with me. Still, it's a first. I wonder if this was motivated by my earlier gift of a piece of cake?
After she poured some schnapps into my pint glass, she asked, "do you want it strong, medium, or weak?"
"Weak," I replied. She proceeded to pour an ample amount of soda into the glass. I took a sip of the resulting concoction and it didn't taste bad, although it was warm. I would have preferred cold soda. The Archer's bottled drinks that are sold in pubs are kept chilled. Brits seem willing to drink warm drinks that Americans would only drink cold.
Having maintained control of the remote from earlier in the evening, I discovered that the animated film, "Heavy Metal," was starting. I put it on and tried to interest the two young 'uns in the film. M1 immediately started asking me to put on "Fear Factor." As "Fear Factor" is due to end shortly and the film hadn't started yet, I obliged. After watching one couple do one of the challenges, I flipped back to the film channel, when "Fear Factor" went into commercial break. M1 started moaning that he wanted me to go back to "Fear Factor." At first, I refused, explaining that it was still in commercial break. The film hadn't started yet, but was due to start any minute. M1 pleaded that he just wanted to see which couple won. After waiting a bit longer, I gave in and returned to "Fear Factor." The show dragged out giving the results so long, when I finally did go back to the film channel, we'd missed the beginning.
Immediately, M1 started complaining that the film is animated. I guess he was ignoring me, earlier, when I explained that "Heavy Metal" is animated. I pointed out that he regularly watches "The Simpsons" and "Futurama." His response was to point out that they look more modern. Admittedly, "Heavy Metal" was released 26 years ago, but does that matter? Surely, one doesn't watch "The Simpsons" for the quality of the animation. "Heavy Metal" features a number of short stores all around a central theme. This proved too much for M1's feeble mind and pretty soon he said he was confused. He and the Flower managed to stick with the film until the last story began, then bailed out and went upstairs. I switched to watching some music videos. I've seen "Heavy Metal" several times before and I usually only like to re-watch films I have seen many times, if there is someone who's never seen it watching with me.
After a short time, I turned off the TV and lamp, then went upstairs myself. I tuned into Bill Buckley on LBC radio, 97.3 FM, London (Sky 0177 or via the net at: ), while surfing the internet. About an hour or so later, I felt hungry. I went downstairs to have a piece of cake, to satisfy my hunger. As I came downstairs, I noticed the light on in the lounge. Thinking that M1 and the Flower had figured out that I had gone upstairs, I poked my head in to see what was on TV. I was quite surprised to find the Flower sitting in the lounge alone. After putting a slice of cake on a plate, I joined her as she was watching the end of "Volcano." She's much better company when M1's not around.

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Artist of the Week: Fergie

This week, my Artist of the Week is enjoying the honor for the second time. It's Fergie. Her second single from her solo album, "The Dutchess," has earned her the place this week. "Fergalicious," which is my profile song, this week, didn't appeal to me the first time I heard it, unlike "London Bridge," which I adored straight off. However, "Fergalicious" grew on me, to the point where I love it, now. During the first week of January, "Fergalicious" set a new record by selling 265,000 digital copies in one week. This resulted in the song reaching number one in Billboard's Top 100 chart. Last month, the video for her third single, "Glamorous," started getting airplay. You can check Fergie out on Myspace: at .


Saturday, March 03, 2007

Let Her Eat Cake

I was enjoying controlling the Sky TV remote, last night, on my own. Nando was in Italy and M1 was out, which is where I prefer him. At 9PM, I decided to watch the Hugh Grant film, "American Dreamz," which was premiering on Sky. About half an hour later, I heard the dreaded sound of M1's key in the front door. I could feel my body tensing in anticipation of the uncultured, lanky young man, hair covered in styling wax, slithering into my environment. Then I heard another voice, through the door. This one female. That would be slither boy's sexy, exotic girlfriend, the Exotic Flower. As usual, she was turning up for another weekend hanging around our house. Originally, she had been the one compensation for putting up with intellectually challenged M1, a generation my junior. Lately, however, things have been frosty between myself and the half Seychellian, half Spanish beauty. So the compensating factor has lost its effect.
The Flower hasn't been speaking to me much, since our argument a couple of weeks ago. She's also vindictively stopped giving me her cast off gossip magazines. I've been happy to not have seen much of her, lately. In they walked and the Flower broke the ice first. "Hello," she said. This time there was no confusion. She wasn't speaking to Nando, because he wasn't here. I responded warmly, greeting her by name. When she came in the lounge, she asked what I was watching. I informed her and she grew as excited as a kid on Christmas morning. A kid that lives in a household that celebrates Christmas, that is. "I've wanted to see that," she said, in that lovely, girlish voice that usually sounds like fairy song to my ears; lovely and sweet. Well, that's how it sounds when I am not cross with her. "How long has it been on?"
I looked at the time display on the VCR, under the television. "Thirty-three minutes," I advised. She asked me what had happened so far. I filled her in. I was pleased that she was excited to watch the film, because she would veto any application by M1 to change the channel. "Have you done anything to your hair?" I asked. Nando hates when I ask her about her hair. He claims it sounds gay. What Nando fails to realize is that women love it when you notice what they do with their hair. Maybe that's why he spends his nights on the settee, with no date. It's become second nature to me to notice a woman's hair. Anyway, Nando's not here.
"It's just been rained on, that's all," she said, modestly.
"Well, it looks lovely," I volunteered.
"When it gets wet, it forms ringlets," she explained, forgetting that she's told me that before.
"A lot of women go to great lengths to get their hair to look like that," I said. "Have you heard about Nando's dad?" She told me that M1 had told her, but that Nando had said nothing to her, so she decided not to say anything to him about it, unless he brought it up. She'll have a long wait, because Nando doesn't like her. Chef Anthony had given me a whole plate of cake to bring home. Half of it was a coffee flavored cake I like, but the other half was some berry flavored version that I don't much care for. I offered the Flower some cake. She declined, saying she had just finished a big meal.
We watched the rest of the film, which is a spoof of reality TV shows, like "American Idol." I didn't enjoy it. I think it is the worst Hugh Grant film I have ever seen. Even the Flower said she was glad she hadn't bought it on DVD, which she'd recently considered doing. With the film over, the Flower started whining to M1 that she was hungry. He wasn't pleased. He's not been working steadily, lately, and struggles to feed himself and her. I reminded her of my cake offer. She asked what kind it was, so I knew she was interested. I did my best selling job and she agreed to try a piece. I grabbed a piece of the coffee flavored cake that I prefer and we both settled back in the lounge with our baked treats.
The crucial question was, "would she like it?" If she did, I might be able to unload much of the cake on her, this weekend. I watched her eating it tentatively. What would be the verdict? She liked it! It seemed that relations were on the mend between me and the Flower. They way to the Flower's heart seems to be through her stomach. Let her eat cake!

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Suddenly, Nando's Gone!

After work, yesterday, I had a conversation with Nando. I hadn't spoken with him on Wednesday, because I went out after work and he went to bed before I got home. Nando received an urgent call from Italy, Wednesday. His father has had a heart attack. Nando Papa was still alive, as of yesterday. He'd undergone a serious operation, angioplasty, or however it's spelled. Nando tried to get a flight to Italy the next day, but as all former travel agents know, last minute airline tickets can be expensive. Nando was unable to afford the airfare for Thursday departures, so he flew out today.
Just like that, he's gone. Nando will be away for two weeks, at least. Meanwhile, I now face a lot of time alone. Nando may be a racist, but he's turned out to be a good friend. As he rarely can be bothered to go out, he's usually home in the evenings, so I have someone to watch TV with. He's not on the internet, so he doesn't try to steal my Myspace friends. He's so much more sensible than my other housemate, M1. The age and educational gap between M1 and myself seems too broad to bridge. Nando and I often refer to the 22-year-old M1 as, "the Boy." Even M1's 17-year-old girlfriend, the Exotic Flower thinks she is more "mature" than M1. I have nothing against young people in general, so long as they aren't idiots. Oh the horror! With Nando gone, there will be no one to insulate me from M1 and the Flower.
Let's all hope that Nando Papa makes a speedy recovery, so Nando can come back soon. Nando is my Consigliore. It would be nice if Nando Papa is still around when I visit Naples, one day. I also need my buffer, between me and Them (M1 and the Flower). It's a strange coincidence, but Pino wasn't at work today and Chef Anthony said he'd gone to Italy. Pino is from Naples, from the same district as Nando is from. Also, another friend of mine flew to Italy on Thursday and is staying not far from Naples. What is going on? Could it be a conspiracy?

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Some People Are Unreliable

The day before yesterday, I asked Chef Anthony if I could borrow his DVD copy of "The Matrix." Strange as it may seem, I have discovered someone who's actually managed not to see "The Matrix," at all, since 1999. I tend to enjoy watching films I have seen, with people who haven't seen them. When Anthony agreed to lend it to me, I suggested that I follow him home after work and get it then. That way he couldn't forget. At first he agreed, but then he said he needed to call someone first. He wasn't certain whether the DVD was at his mother's, or at his place. It ended up that he didn't have me follow him home, but assured me he wouldn't forget to bring it in to work on Wednesday.
Yesterday morning, as I was walking into the building from the car park, Anthony drove up, honking his horn. I waited for him to park, get out of his car, and catch up with me. As he got closer to me, I didn't see him carrying anything. I shouted, "Where's the DVD?"
In response, he kept shouting back, "what?" This was getting very frustrating. When he walked up to me, I repeated my question. He said he forgot. Damn! Exactly as I predicted. Then he reached under his jacket and, for a split second, I thought he was kidding and would pull out the DVD, from under his jacket. Instead, he merely pulled out his electronic work ID card and swiped the door lock to the building. I made it clear how disappointed I was. He said he'd cal his "misses," have her find the DVD and drive it down to work, that very afternoon. Of course, that never happened.
During the day, Chef Phil told me that I could buy the entire "Matrix" box set, for £16.99. "Where, Phil?" I inquired.
"At Virgin Megastore," he answered. I decided to go try to buy the box set, after work. When I was married, I bought "The Matrix" on VHS, but when my evil ex-wife, the Black Queen, divorced me, she kept the film. It's bad enough divorcing a guy, but keeping his video tapes...that's just low. She also kept my James Bond tapes and my Marx Brothers tapes. I don't even think she liked the Marx Brothers. Oh well, screw her! She might have kept my video cassette of "The Matrix," but now I was getting a DVD box set. The box set includes all three "Matrix" films, plus "The Anamatrix," plus hours of "Matrix" documentaries.
Because Phil said it was available at "Virgin," I went to Tesco. I would rather buy it from Tesco, because then I get Clubcard points. It turned out that the Tesco Extra, at Sandhurst, didn't have it. That was a waste of time. I headed into Camberley, where the nearest Virgin Megastore is located. Inside, I quickly found the box set, but it was £19.99, not £16.99. It can so just sour your mood when something you want turns out to be more expensive than you were told it would be. I put it back on the shelf and thought, "maybe it would be cheaper somewhere else?" I walked all around the Camberley shopping district, looking to find it cheaper. I tried success. There wasn't an HMV that I could find. They might be cheaper, but the only one I knew of was in the Bracknell town centre. I didn't feel like driving there and if I did, I would have to pay for parking. I could go through all that trouble and it could turn out to be the same price, or worse, more. I tried W. H. Smith, but with no success. Finally, I circled back to Virgin. I relented and bought the box set there. I hate spending extra money, but when I have my mind set on doing something, I hate giving up on doing it, even more. At the end of the day, I got my box set. When people are unreliable, you often just have to do things yourself.

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