Friday, August 31, 2007

Ten Years On

Today is the tenth anniversary of the death of Princess Diana. I happened to be in Britain on that fateful day, visiting my then girlfriend, D---a, who later became my evil ex-wife, the Black Queen. Ironically, the Black Queen and Princess Di have the same first and last letters in their first names. She yelled up to me, as I was in bed, upstairs, while she was downstairs getting some refreshments for us. "You've missed your chance, dear," she yelled. This was a reference to the fact that I had a crush on the lovely, divorced Princess.
Last night, I watched a news story on TV that reported that some American doctors, reviewing the reports of the French medical personnel who attended the crash, have concluded that Diana might have survived, had she been taken to the hospital sooner. What they failed to mention was that had Diana been a regular reader of my blog, she might not have gotten into that crash in the first place. On a related side note, I can NOT confirm rumors that Princes William and Harry are regular readers of this blog. Diana is still the most popular British royal in recent memory. A moment of tribute to "the people's Princess."

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Big Brother 8 Final Tonight

It's all come down to this. Tonight is the final of "Big Brother" series 8, here in the UK. This has been the longest running series so far, with the most housemates. However, I think producers picked a bad crop of contestants, this year. The last few weeks, ratings have reportedly been down and even I have not been watching as much as I usually do. Let's face it, any series without me in it is an example of the production company not putting their best foot forward. My favorites to win are the twins, Sam and Amanda, who count as one contestant. Typically referred to as "Samanda," they are also the favorites with the betting public. They have set a new record for receiving the most amount of money wagered on them to win. At least report, £5,000,000 has been bet on them to win the competition, tonight. Even I have gotten in on the action. I bet on the twins a couple of weeks ago.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Older Men

Scientific research has now shown that women have more kids if their men are older. A study of 10,000 couples has showed that the number of kids goes up as the age gap widens. Researchers at the University of Austria think there is an evolutionary reason for this. Hopefully, this news will spread far and wide. It can only benefit me, as I get older each year. If Jodie Marsh knew this, maybe she wouldn't have settled for a guy four years younger than her, when she could have had me. Jodie wants to have four children. Anyway, I will brace myself for the rush of offers soon to come.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Nando's Blind Date

Two nights ago, Nando, my racist, Italian housemate, asked me how easy is it to drive to Guildford? "Pretty easy, if you have a car," I replied. If you ask me a question, you have a 90 percent chance of getting a quip, joke, pun, or sarcastic answer. Nando elaborated, saying that he needed to go somewhere near Guildford, but not exactly in Guildford. He then asked if I knew where some place was. With his accent, it sounded like he said, "Cran Lake." It doesn't ring any bells, but I offer to look it up on the internet for him.
Curious, I asked him why he needed to go there. Nando then tells me he has a date and is supposed to meet the woman there. Recently, Nando had been seeing this married woman who works at the golf complex where he's a chef. I asked him if it was that same, married woman he's been seeing. He surprised me by shaking his head, "no." "So, who's this woman you're meeting?" I asked. His reply shocked me. Nando explained that he has registered with a matchmaking agency and they have introduced him to this woman.
This seems totally unlike Nando. I've known Nando for over four years, now. I have known him to date before, but for the past two years, he's seemed to be in a bit of a slump. He usually can't be bothered to go out, or even to move from the sofa he lays on, watching TV each night. The fling with the married woman is the only action he's had, lately. As he met her at work, he didn't have to go out of his way and to hear him tell it, she practically threw herself at him, so not much effort was required. Nando is so cynical, I would have thought he'd say something like, "dating agencies are for loser's," or something like that, if someone suggested he use one. He's been registered with the agency for a month and this is his first date. A little further enquiry revealed that he's never met this woman before. It's a blind date. He's seen a picture of her, but she hasn't seen a picture of him. Personally, I am surprised she's willing to meet him, sight unseen. How desperate can this bird be?
As I was on my way upstairs, I asked Nando the name of the place he's going to, again. This time, he spells it and I realize that he's been saying, "Cranleigh" all along. That does sound familiar and I fully intended to look up directions for him, on the internet. Nando doesn't have a computer of his own. Once I got upstairs, I got totally involved in blogging for you lot and forgot about the directions.

Yesterday, when I arrived home from my commercial shoot, I realized that I had gone to bed with getting Nando the directions to Cranleigh. I knew his date was supposed to be yesterday, but I presumed it was at night. I appologized to Nando and offered to get him the directions immediately. I had come home from the shoot fairly early, so I figured Nando hadn't gone yet, as he was home and casually dressed. "I've already been," he informed me. After I apologized again, for not remembering to get him the directions, he tells me it was no problem. His date had sent him the directions, by text.
Immediately, I wanted to know how things went. Nando told me he was off work yesterday, so they met during the day. He's not very talkative at the best of times, so I keep asking questions as he gives me brief answers. "What's she like?" I asked.
"She's okay," Nando replies, focusing on watching TV.
"Is she good looking?"
"She's okay," he said, again.
Did you two agree to see each other again?"
"Yeah," Nando says, matter-of-factly. I was dying for more detail, but grew tired if the effort it was taking to get tiny bits of information. Nando did tell me that he's getting older and he thinks it's time he got involved with someone of the opposite sex. I am fascinated about the kind of woman who'd be satisfied with Nando's minimalist attitude toward relationships. He comes across as very flat, emotionally, and not as passionate about women as I am. I wonder if I will get to meet this mystery woman, one day?

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

This Takes the Biscuit

Today, I worked on my first commercial. It was a TV advertisement for a magazine. I am excited about it for two reasons. First, it pays better than the film work I have been doing. About three times as much, so today was the best single day's pay I have ever had. Second, I should be seen in this commercial, given that there are only six of us in the scene, and it will be shown repeatedly, thus maximizing my public exposure.
I arrived early, which is good for me. As I was sitting waiting, a gorgeous actress walked in. She had a beautiful, full head of auburn hair, flowing down over her shoulders. Wearing a business suit, she also had a sizzling hot figure. I later learned her name is Carla and she's a TV presenter on Sky Channel 634. She's also a former dancer, which would explain the figure. For my sins, I got to sit next to her for the entire shoot. What's also impressive about Carla is that she's over thirty, but still looks gorgeous. That's one of the nice things about working in TV and films, you get to work with some stunningly beautiful women, sometimes.
The premise of the ad is that Carla and I, plus four others, are sitting around a table in a meeting room. We are all dressed like lawyers. At the head of the table is an empty chair. It's empty because the boss is not there. Instead of being in the meeting, he's off reading this magazine we are promoting. He can't put it down. We're all bored waiting and doing various things to pass the time. One woman is texting on her mobile phone. Another woman is doing a crossword puzzle, while a male colleague sits next to her, trying to chat her up. Carla is doodling on a pad. Originally, I was supposed to be rolling a biscuit (cookie for American readers) back and forth, across the table with a male colleague, opposite. After a couple of rehearsals, the director decided that instead, my colleague would be sleeping with his head on his hands. That left me and the biscuit. He asked me to play with it in some way. I decided to spin it, on edge, like a top, on the table. The director liked that idea and decided to go with it. Thus began the great biscuit challenge.
The director decided he wanted to end our shot on my spinning biscuit. The problem was to work it so the camera finished tracking back just as I spun the biscuit, but have all the action fit within the time allotted for this part of the commercial. We were shooting for a 30 second commercial and our scene was supposed to take 7 seconds. Coordinating the camera tracking, my spinning, and the 7 seconds, became very difficult. We did take after take. I finally lost count when we hit 40 and that's not counting the numerous rehearsals we did. Little bits and pieces of the scene kept being adjusted and re-adjusted. We had a female cinematographer, which was a first for me. The whole crew were great and a joy to work with. They got us water and fed us breakfast. When we finally wrapped, around 1PM, I was being teased about being typecast, forever more, as a biscuit spinner. Given that my spinning biscuit became such a central part of the scene, I feel fairly confident I will be seen in this commercial. I am looking forward to when I finally see it on TV.
Between takes, I spoke with Carla as much as possible. When I asked her where she lived, I thought she said "northward." So I guessed Honslow. To this, she replied, "northward," or so I thought. I tried Harrow, even Luton. Still, every time she would say, "northward," in an ever more exasperated voice. Then I figured out that she wasn't saying "northward," but "Northwood." I found that funny. Carla looked so good, I thought she should be doing bigger time stuff than this. I pictured her as a leading lady in some film. When I asked her if she wanted to do bigger acting projects, in the future, she replied in the negative. "I'm a better TV presenter than I am an actress," she explained. She just does the acting on the side, on her days off from TV presenting. In any case, she made my day. In what other line of work can you spend a day playing with biscuits and chatting to a gorgeous lady, and get paid for it?

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Bank Holiday and Death of the Box

Today is a holiday in Britain. It's a "bank holiday," which means most businesses are closed. Every year, this long weekend symbolizes the effective end of summer. I have enjoyed an extra day off. Tomorrow, I have a commercial shoot, so I am off from the restaurant. For me, that's like having four days off of work in a row. I went out on Saturday night, but the rest of the long weekend I didn't end up doing much. Just relaxing, catching up on sleep, blogging, and listening to music.
I had planned on going shopping, today. However, after staying up till 3AM, I ended up sleeping till 1PM. By the time I had my breakfast and watched a little TV, it was too late. The downside of it being a bank holiday Monday is that the stores close early. One thing I did accomplish was the death of "the box." It's evil forces seemed to have faded. The weather was lovely all weekend and my agent called me on Friday, with this commercial work for tomorrow. Today, I took a pair of scissors and attacked the box. After cutting open the paper, it was a simple matter to remove the top and get to the contents, inside. As I had suspected, it contained all the items I had left at my close, personal friend's home, during my last visit. Sadly, there was one casualty. She had given me a little figure, which was supposed to honor "the world's greatest actor." The figure's arms broke off during shipping. I suppose that was the box's last, feeble attempt to strike at me. Perhaps this bank holiday can be a celebration of my defeating the evil box. Hey, if the cardboard from the box is recycled, does that mean it's evil influence could return one day?

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Artist of the Week: Basheeba

This week, my Artist of the Week is Basheeba. Based in Belgium, this little known group is one of those gems I occasionally find on Myspace. They are apparently composed of three female vocalists, plus one man who does the music. At some point in the past, there seems to have been a fourth female vocalist. There's not a lot of information about them. You can check them out on Myspace, at: . If you like Britpop and girl groups, you'll like them. The girls look great and the music's catchy. What more needs to be said?


Saturday, August 25, 2007

Fashion Police?

Do some Americans take themselves way too seriously? Well, at least certain "government officials." The latest example? One C. T. Martin, a member of the Atlanta City Council. It seems that Martin is sponsoring a proposed new law that would make it illegal to reveal even a part of one's underwear. The motive behind this legislative nonsense is to stop guys from wearing their trousers low, around their hips, and revealing the tops of their boxer shorts. However, ladies who display a part of their bra, or their thongs, would also be in violation of the proposed law. Martin has described the trend of wearing low slung trousers as an"epidemic" and a "major concern." Why's he spending so much time looking an young men's pants?
I'm the first one to agree that seeing guy's boxers showing is unattractive and I wish they would stop doing it. I also don't like when you can see a woman's thong showing above her belt line. But the solution isn't to pass yet another law. It's a fashion trend and like all others, it will change in the course of time. In a tolerant "society," one needs to not get one's knickers in a twist over other people's fashion choices, even if they are a bit repugnant. If this law is passed, people should avoid Atlanta. Just don't go there. Spend your money somewhere else and see how they like that.
In comparison, consider the attitude of people on this side of the Atlantic. To promote the opening of a new branch of the chain, Joy, a trendy clothing retailer, the company offered a free outfit to the first 25 people to turn up semi-clothed, at the new store, in the Bank area of central London. This past Thursday, passersby were treated to the sight of dozens of men and women standing in line, in their underwear. So many turned up, even though it was raining, that the shop ended up clothing 40 of them. As far as I know, nobody stressed out and no new laws were proposed as a result. The message from the British, for their American cousins? Relax. Chill out. It's only underwear.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Should I Get An MP3 Player?

Life has hit me with one of those hard to resolve dilemmas. Should I get an MP3 player? As this weekend is a holiday weekend, in Britain, there are loads of sales on at the shops. I saw an ad in the paper for an MP3 player for only £9.95. I had considered buying one before, when they were advertised for £19.95. Now I am glad I waited. Okay, it's a basic model and only holds 12 hours of music, but still it's less than a tenner. Even I can afford that.
When I was driving my car, I didn't think I needed one, as I had the stereo in the car. Now that I am on the bus, I spend a lot more time musicless. Should I hold out for a better model? One that has an FM tuner costs £39. I can't quite bring myself to spend forty quid, when I am saving for a car. Technology gets cheap when you don't have to have the latest thing. All this stuff gets so cheap, if you wait. Still, I don't know if I can be bothered walking round with those little earphones in my ears. What do you think?

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Virgin Records Party

Last night, I was on the guest list for Virgin Records Industry Party, at Pangaea, in London. For the last couple of months, I have been trying to do some clubbing, with disastrous results. I stopped doing the club thing back when I was married. My evil ex-wife, the Black Queen, wasn't into clubbing and refused to go with me. As I recall, we only went out to a club once during our marriage and that was for a work night out. Since I have been single again, I have gone a few times, but only to local venues, in or near Bracknell. Sadly, I haven't found any place in the local area that wows me, like big clubs in London, Frankfurt, and New York have, in the past.
Over the past couple of months, I have made several attempts at sticking my toe back into the proverbial club scene water, but each one has been sidetracked, for one reason or another. When I received the invitation to attend the Virgin Records Party, something about it set off a fire in me. A fire of desire. That something was "CD giveaways." I set my mind to the task of going. Trying a few folks to see if anyone would be up for going with me, I had the usual success. Nando couldn't be bothered, despite agreeing, a couple of years ago, that we would go clubbing in London, sometime. Not willing to move his lethargic ass off the sofa for a change, I looked elsewhere. I wasn't surprised that Nando turned me down, but I needed to ask as a matter of politeness. Tom seemed unreachable. I still couldn't confirm if he has gone to France, as planned, or not. Mucky Sarah came the closest to saying yes, but when she heard the party started at 10PM, on a weeknight, she declined. She had to work the next day, but hey, so did I (and I have to be at work a lot earlier than she does!). Finally, I asked TV presenter, Opal Bonfante. It was a long shot, but again, it was a nod to politeness. Opal has never agreed to go anywhere with me, but you never know. It's been so cold in southern England this year, that I thought hell might have finally frozen over.
With Opal's not unexpected decline in hand, I went ahead and RSVPed from myself, alone. Once I set my mind to doing something, I don;t let little bumps in the road stop me. Was the box stopping people from agreeing to go? Who knows, but to hell with the box. For my re-emergence on the London club scene, I decided on my black suit. I matched it up with a white and lavender, striped shirt, but no tie. A couple of squirts of Giorgio Armani's Acqua di Gio (courtesy of a close personal friend) and I was ready to go. Due to the quirks of the local British transport system, I would not be coming home after the party, but taking the first train to Camberley, in the morning, and going direct to work. Because of this, I had to carry my work shoes and shirt in my travel bag. To cut down on bulk, I swapped the black suit trousers for a clean pair of black work trousers. In a dark club, no one would notice that they weren't a perfect match and I would only have to switch shirts, and shoes, for work in the morning.
On my way out the door, I made a side trip to the kitchen and grabbed two slices of pizza for my bag. One would be my dinner, on the bus, while the other was held in reserve, in case I got hungry before I got to work the next day. Opening the front door, I was greeted by a downpour. I had left my favorite, big, black umbrella at work, so I opted for my little, old, beat-up, folding one. It barely protected me and a bit of water was blowing in from the sides, but I would have to do. As I was walking to the bus stop, a route 190 went by. If I had just been five minutes quicker, I could have caught that. The rain and just missing the bus seemed like last ditch attempts by the box to dissuade me, but I was determined. It didn't mater, as there was an inbound 194 due in less than 15 minutes. That would be in plenty of time to get me into Bracknell's town centre to catch the 8:10PM coach to London.
The 8:10 is the last Coach to London on a weeknight. At £4, it's much cheaper than the train. With few passengers, I got my favorite seat, with extra legroom. I tried to get some sleep, as I knew I would be up late, but I was too excited for more than a slight doze. The closer I got to London, the more the funk eminating from the box seemed to lift. Perhaps the box's range was limited. Maybe it could only affect people and events near to its location. Whatever the reason, I felt the best I had felt since the box came into my life. As the coach roared eastbound, along the M4, I snacked on one of my slices of pizza. By the time we were entering the outskirts of London, the rain was abating. Looking north, as we traveled the elevated section of the motorway,just before it ends into the A4, I saw the arch of the new Wembley Stadium, in the distance. Although it wasn't my first time seeing the arch, it was the first time I was able to appreciate it's architectural beauty.
The coach dropped me off at Hyde Park Corner, just before making a turn to the south for it's final destination, Victoria Station. From Hyde Park Corner, it was relatively short work further east, along Piccadilly, into Mayfair. Pangaea is at 85 Piccadilly. I made such good time, I reached number 85 by 9:45. The party didn't start fr another 15 minutes and I didn't want to be the first one there. The club bouncers were just setting up the ropes outside. A little further on, I spotted a Starbucks. I decided to nip into Starbucks for a cold drink and a seat. More misfortune awaited me. Starbucks had let the supply of chilled, sparkling water run out from the refrigerated display. They offered me the choice of a warm bottle (yeah, right!), or a cold bottled of still. I settled for the still, as cold was more important than bubbles. My roving eye spotted a lone, remaining piece of some rich looking, chocolate cake. It was called "Chocolate Decadence," or something like that, and I decided to treat myself. Yum, chocolate! The bloke behind the counter insisted that the last slice of cake is always the best. Armed with cake and water, I plonked myself down at a table and began to enjoy my treat, at leisure. I pulled out a copy of a gossip magazine I had in my bag, to catch up on the latest celebrity gossip. It helped pas the time and slowed my consumption of chocolate. I wanted the pleasure to last as long as possible. Looking to my left, I noticed a group of four girls, dressed for a night out, They were doing the same as I was, killing some time before going to Pangaea.
I managed to use up a half an hour in Starbucks, but they looked like the wanted to close. I left just behind the gang of four and followed them back to Pangaea. There was enough of a gap between us that a girl on her own managed to slip in between us, as we reached the velvet ropes at the door. The bouncers cleared the gang of four, then started speaking to the single girl. She reeked of alcohol already and was having trouble answering a bouncer's questions. While she was fumbling, trying to come up with the name of who's guest list she was on, he decided o have her wait to the side and move on. I guess I looked more coherent. He found my name on the list and then asked if I was on my own. Wincing, I confirmed I was. No need to rub it in, pal. I was admitted immediately. The next step was being frisked by the next bouncer. He also checked my bag but didn't take my last slice of pizza. Once he was satisfied that I didn't pose a risk, I was cleared to proceed. I walked downstairs to the club, proper. It was still early and very few people were there yet. I walked around, looking for the coat check. I wanted to leave my bag there. I spotted the gang of four, then found the check room, on the opposite side of the room from the entrance. That seemed a most unusual place to put the check room. Usually, it's near to the entrance. I paid £2 to check my bag.
Free of my luggage, I started surveying the place. This was my first time at Pangaea, even though I had passed it on several occasions. I was a little disappointed. It was small and had a tiny dance floor. There was an attractive, female DJ, but her choice of music was leaving a lot to be desired. The sound system didn't seem to have enough base. I found a place to sit and waited for more people to arrive. My location, next to the coat check, ended up being advantageous. Every woman who entered ended up coming over to check her coat. I was treated to a show of legs, as it seemed that most of the female guests chose to attire themselves in short dresses. I was really impressed with the beauty of the women that night. I'd say 98 percent of the women in attendance were beautiful. A tall, leggy blond, with a sporty figure and sporty attire to match, walked up to me. As she started to speak, I was a bit surprised. It turned out she was selling massages. I'd heard of this. I remember seeing an ad for people to work giving massages in clubs, last year. She said I could pay whatever amount I thought it was worth, after the massage. I was very tempted, but I figured I'd need to at least give her a fiver. After paying two quid to check my bag, and spending over three quid in Starbucks, I decided I'd better put a stop to the hemorrhaging of my budget. Besides, I'm not into massages. I was just being tempted by the thought of her putting her hands all over me. I declined as sweetly as I could, explaining that I'm not into massages. She took defeat well and told me to let her know if I changed my mind.
As the crowd built up, the music got quite a bit better. The DJ played a number of the current crop of popular dance tracks, although the sound system still sounded a bit flat. Then I thought, "where's the CD give away?" In due course, another attractive woman strolled over, her arms full with a stack of CDs. She offered me one, which I gladly accepted. As she moved on to other patrons, I looked at what I had received. "The Last Trick," by Anja Garbarek. Never heard of it. But then, I suppose that's the point of these events; to introduce lesser known artists and promote stuff. Obviously, the CD was a Virgin Records product. It was a single, so I didn't even manage to get a whole album.
As the night wore on, I had to fight to stay awake. I kept catching myself nodding off. At one point, after 2Am, a bouncer came by and touched me, to see if I was alright. I was fine, up till he touched me. I didn't enjoy that! I much prefer a woman's touch. Although the party was due to last till 3AM, I packed it in at 2:30. The majority of folks had left by then. I caught a night bus to Southbank, then walked to Waterloo Station. I napped while waiting for the 5:05AM train to depart. Once on the train, I changed my shirt and shoes, getting ready to work. Another nap on the train, then again, on the minibus to work, would be all the sleep I would get. It would have been more fun if I had company, but the words of Paul Newman in, "The Color of Money," came to mind: "I'm back!"

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Box

Last Saturday, the postman tried to deliver a box to me. He didn't try had enough and left a card for me to collect it from the main post depot, in Bracknell. Since I have been riding the bus, it's very hard to make it back to Bracknell early enough to get to this post depot before it closes, at 5:30PM. The only way to do it is by leaving work fifteen minutes early. On Sunday, the post office is closed. Monday was no good, as I needed to go to London, for the Kanye West concert. Yesterday, I worked half of my lunch break, so I could leave early, and I managed to get to the depot in time.
I have been waiting for a package from my mother, for about two weeks. As that is the only package I was expecting, I was very excited that it had finally arrived. When the man working the counter brought me the box, it was the right shape and size to be the box I am expecting from my mother. Waves of joy wash over me as I walk with my box, back to the bus stop. I have about ten minutes to wait till the next bus arrives. Sitting on the bench in the bus shelter, I look over the box in my hands. The brown wrapping paper looks like a type I only ever see in Britain, rather than the kind commonly used in America. I start turning the box over in my hands, looking for a return address. At first, I don't see any. Then, I spot a small bit of writing. It's a post code. A British post code. It wasn't sent by my mother.
I am devastated. The post code looked familiar. It occurs to me that this box was sent by my close, personal friend, in the Midlands. The last time I visited her, I left a jacket and a shirt there, as well as a gift she got me. I said I would get them the next time we saw each other, when I couldn't fit them in my luggage. I was limited by traveling by bus, as to what I could carry. A few weeks had gone by and she'd sent the stuff to me, by post. There was no way the sender would have known that I happened to be expecting a package from my mother, nor that receiving another package, now, would cause me to feel so badly. Although I don't blame her, I still feel very down. It's amazing how suddenly a mood can change. One moment I am thrilled, because I think my mother's package has arrived. The next moment, it feels like my world has come crashing down.
It was a gray day, rainy and cold, as I sat in the bus shelter. It feels more like November, than it does August. I had to clutch this disappointing box, all the way home. How could a box cause so much bad feeling? The first thing is that if this box isn't from my mother, then where is the one she should have sent me? I began to worry that my mother's health had taken a turn for the worse. While that was the most significant concern, there is the further disappointment that I don't have the item that I asked my mother to send me. Add to this the significance of the box I did get. If my close, personal friend is sending me my things via post, it means she doesn't expect to see me again. I had called her about ten days after my last visit. After leaving a couple of messages which weren't returned, I received an email from her, saying she was having some "me time." My next planned visit, was cancelled. Now she's sent me my things.
When I get home, I put the box in my room. I was in no hurry to open it. After all, I know what's inside. Nothing new. I spend several hours downstairs, watching TV with Nando and having my dinner. My mood remains gray. Later, when I returned upstairs, I make an attempt to open the box. The paper has been taped so well, along the seams, that my fingers can't get any purchase. No matter what I try, I can't get the paper open. In frustration, I put the box aside. It seems to gloat at me, like some evil, demented, possessed thing. I manage to go to sleep, leaving the box for another day.
At work, today, I notice that several of the staff seem in a foul mood. The old, Italian chef, Pino, snapped at me, which is unheard of. Chef Anthony and Jum started bickering. What was wrong with everyone? Could it be the box? That box! It's like a singularity of evil, drawing everyone's good feelings into itself, like some emotional, black hole. The weather was foul, again. When I got home, I found an email in my inbox, saying that I didn't get this job I had recently applied for. I seem to have nothing but bad news, since the box came into my life. I still haven't been able to bring myself to open it. It's sitting there now, staring at me. Gloating. Will we ever be free of it's evil effects?

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Many people say that good (or bad) things come in threes. Of course, I'm a skeptic. I think people just look for these sets of three. They seem completely flexible about the amount of time it takes for the third event. So, now that I have had two good events, winning my bet on football and winning the concert tickets, where's the third one? I have always scorned superstitions. If I ever get another cat, I want a black one. 13 is my favorite number. I always break chain letters. Anyway, I must be off, as I need to find a mirror to break.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Kanye West Concert

I saw Kanye West perform, in London, at a special, invitation only, concert, tonight. If you are a fan of Kanye, I'm sure you would have loved it. I'm not a fan. I am very mild about Kanye. This concert did nothing to win me over to him. If anything, it had the opposite effect.
First, was the wait. It took waiting in queue for an hour beyond when the production team said they would be letting us in, before the audience was finally admitted to the building. Once inside, we had to wait almost two hours more. The wait was longer than the show ended up being. When he did finally take the stage, he was backed up by an all-female orchestra. While that was a nice touch, some idiot decided to dress the orchestra in these hideous dresses, in neon colors. To make matters worse, as if the neon dresses weren't enough, it was decided to put silver face make-up on the girls in the orchestra, so that they all look like they are wearing masks. They ended up looking like clowns. The girls also wore matching, awful hairstyles.
Putting aside the visuals, let's talk about the music. After all, the music is the main reason for attending a concert, right? The lyrics were virtually unintelligible. Kanye seemed to be ovemodulating. I'm not sure whether it was his overmodulating, or the fact that the three women to my left were screaming in my ear, but I couldn't make out the lyrics. What's the point of rap if you can't hear the lyrics? Then, he doesn't even play the one song of his which I like. He paused a couple of times, during the show, to re-shoot this or that. He redid the opening number. It sounded no better the second time. During one such pause, he chastized audience members sitting in the balconies, for not making these ridiculous "diamond" shapes with their hands. He complained that it wouldn't look good on TV, if some sections of the audience weren't doing it. Kanye criticized all the audience for this, except the section where I was standing. He cited us as the ideal. That's because so many of the goofballs around me enthusiastically waved these diamond shapes, even before Kanye had asked for them. They must be fans. Especially one of the women to my left, who screamed out, "marry me!" I don't think we are in any danger of nuptials between them, as she was more endowed with enthusiasm, than beauty. Another thing about the fans which felt annoying, was that so many of them held up mobile camera-phones, to record Kanye performing. They kept waving their cameras back and forth, tracking his movements on stage. What's the point in coming to a live show, then spending the whole show watching the images on your tiny, mobile phone's video display? When I was young, people held lit cigarette lighters aloft, during concerts. Now, these seem to have been replaced by the mobile phone. This sea of waving phones just made it harder to see. I ended up liking the music played while the equipment was being set up, better than the music in the show.
Maybe it's rappers. Maybe rap music is such that it's better to hear it on studio recordings, than to listen to it "live." And yet, I remember playing with an MC, when I was a DJ, and him being great at it. Then, we didn't overmodulate. In any case, when it comes to Kanye, the bulk of his songs ended up sounding like a hash of noise. Also, this was the first concert I can remember where there was no encore. Fans of Kanye will probably accuse me of being too harsh, but I think that was the worst concert I can remember ever witnessing. You can make up your own minds, as Channel 4 will be airing the recording of the show, on 2 September, at 2PM. Looking on the bright side, you might spot me.

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Go West Young Man

Over the weekend, I won two tickets to a special, invitation only, concert by Kanye West. The concert was tonight, in London. The only problem with all this was finding someone to use the other ticket. There were difficulties with the usual suspects. A close, personal friend isn't currently interacting with me, so no invite for that person. Hey, if you don't return my calls, how can I invite you anywhere? Besides, that individual doesn't like rap music. Tom was unenthusiastic. He's not particularly fond of rap, either. Plus, he was due to leave for France today. Nando wasn't interested. Jan remains out of the country, in Italy. Tina, is away, visiting her family. Mucky Sarah is getting over being ill. Finally, I tried calling Chef Anthony, Sunday evening. He didn't answer his mobile, but I left a message. He loves Kanye West.
Not having heard back from Anthony, I put the call out, further afield. I posted a notice on Facebook saying I was looking for someone to go. I sent a bulletin on Myspace, to all of my 3,071 "friends." I even set up a chatroom, on the internet, inviting anyone to use the other free ticket. Okay, I probably set up the chatroom too late. I wish I had thought of that earlier. How could it be, in 2007, that I could have a free ticket for a private Kanye West gig and not be able to find anyone to use it?
When I arrived at work, this morning, I went looking for Anthony. It took me moments to run into him. He said he'd seen that he had a missed call from me. I asked him if he'd listened to the message. "No," he said.
"Why didn't you listen to it?" I asked, full of frustration.
"I thought it was you calling to tell me you were on TV, or something," he replied. "I looked on the TV, but I didn't see you."
"Anthony," I said in exasperation, "I won two free tickets to see Kanye West, tonight, in London. I was calling to ask you if you want to go."
"What?" Anthony hadn't seen that coming. "Kanye West? Hell yeah, I want to go." So, it seemed that the problem was solved. Or was it? Chef Anthony has a history of saying he'll do things, sounding very enthusiastic, but later backing out. Sure enough, as the day wore on, he stated coming up with objections. "I left my wallet at home," was his first one.
"Can't you have someone bring it here, to work?" I suggested. I used to be a car salesman, so overcoming objections is my forte. He agreed that would be a solution, but as hours passed, he seemed unable to make that happen. "Why don't you borrow some money from Russell," I said, offering yet another possible solution. "You can pay him back, tomorrow."
"That's not a bad idea," Anthony replied. But when I checked with him, several times, during the remainder of the workday, he hadn't done it. He left work forty-five minutes before me. I told him that if he wants to come, to meet me at Farnborough Main train station before the 4:58 train for London Waterloo leaves. When the train pulled away from the station, there was no sign of him. No one else bothered to call me and take advantage of the other ticket. I walked into the venue, tonight, alone. The concert was recorded for television. I love being in front of cameras. When opportunity knocks, you need to grab hold of it.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

I Won Some Money!

Today, I won a bet on the Manchester City versus Manchester United football match. My racist, Italian housemate, Nando, is quite a football enthusiast. So, I asked him to review the week's games and recommend a good bet. Nando's first choice was Manchester City versus Manchester United. United won the Premiership last season and was favored to beat Manchester City. The odds I received from the bookie were 3 to 1. For every Pound I bet on City, I would get three back, if Man City won. Nando reasoned that with two of Man U's star players unavailable for today's game, and given that City have a new coach, plus the match was at home for City, that, "if they are ever going to beat Man U, this would be the time."
Nando had to work today, so I watched the match alone. It is much more exciting to watch sports when you have money riding on the outcome. At first, Man U was dominating the game. The commentators all seemed to assume that City had little chance and I began to worry. Suddenly, towards the latter part of the first half, City scored. They went on to hold onto their slim lead, winning 1-0. As I bet £5, I ended up winning £15, as well as getting my original £5 back. This is one of the few things that is done better in the UK, than in the US. Gambling is legal and winnings are tax free, here. Okay, it's not a lot of money, but it represents a 300% return on investment, tax free. Nando got another pick, yesterday, right, but as the odds were more favorable on the Man City match and I didn't have much money I could afford to lose, he recommended that I concentrate on this one bet. Money won is twice as sweet as money earned.

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Artist of the Week: Kate Nash

This week, I am pleased to select Kate Nash as my Artist of the Week. For those of you who haven't heard yet (which is probably all of you in America), Kate is a singer and songwriter from London, who's a new star in the UK music scene. Her second single, "Foundations," which I have chosen for my profile song for the week, shot to number 2 in the singles chart, even though many commercial stations ignored the song when it was released. I first heard it in my car, on the radio, back in June. I was immediately hooked. Since then, I regularly watch the video on the music channels. Because of the unexpected, meteoric success of "Foundations," Kate's record company, Fiction Records, brought forward the release date of her debut album, "Made of Bricks," to August 6th. Since release, her album has reached number one on the UK albums chart.
"Foundations" gives the impressions of a young woman stuck in a bad relationship. I think the lyrics are such that any woman can relate to them. I find her distinctive London accent endearing, although some British women who are not Londoners have complained about it. I think it suits her and makes her songs sound more genuine. Guys, the lyrics of "Foundations" give you a clear blueprint of how NOT to act with women. Learn from them. You can check out Kate on Myspace, at: . Those of you in America, check this girl out and get your radio stations to play her. I am expecting more good stuff from her in the future.


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Why Do Girls Like Pink?

While on my way home today, as I sat waiting for a connecting bus at the Bracknell bus station, I noticed a young woman sitting to my right. She had on these "Timberland" style boots, which most people seem to get in beige or black. Her's were pink! To top that off, she had a pink belt on, as well. Why the heck do girls like pink so much?
In the winter of 2005-06, I was working on a long-term temporary assignment at a bistro, located within a health and racquet club. One of the regulars to eat at the restaurant was an Australian aerobics instructor. I made up a nickname for her. I used to call her "Australia Girl." She was into pink, too. She even had a pink mobile phone. A female friend of mine drives a pink car. Traditionally, girl babies are dressed in pink, while boy babies are dressed in blue. Pink has long been associated wit the feminine. Although it has become fashionable for heterosexual men to wear pink shirts, some refuse to. I think I own one pink shirt and one pink tie. Nando refuses to wear pink, saying its gay. On "Big Brother" this year, the twins are into pink. As they are girls, it seems no big deal.
So ladies, please explain. What is it with girls and pink? Why do so many females seem almost obsessed with pink? I can picture Beyonce wearing pink, but not Bruce Willis. As the Pink Panther used to say, "think pink!"

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Ending Up in Slough

Today, I decided to be a little more motivated and go shopping. I wanted to visit the Tesco on the other side of town. It's possible to do so by bus and I have this weekly bus pass, so I might as well use it. First, I took my usual bus, the 194, to the Bracknell town centre bus station. So far so good. Then I consulted a map on the wall of one of the bus shelters at the station. This confusing, mish-mash of multi-colored lines was a map of local bus routes. From the map, it seemed that several bus routes stopped at Tesco. Some of them run infrequently, especially on Saturdays. The trick was in finding the next available bus.
From the map, it seemed like the 191 to Slough makes a stop at Tesco on the way. Of the several buses I was considering, the first to show up was a 191 to Slough. As it was a cold and rainy day, I was anxious to get going. I strode aboard, flashing my weekly ticket. For a moment, the thought occurred to me to ask the driver if he stopped at Tesco, just to confirm it, but I'm a guy and guys don't ask directions. The bus was a double-decker, so I just climbed the stairs to the upper level and took a seat in the front row.
After a few minutes of loading, the bus pulled off. These buses usually take tortuously indirect routes, traveling down some minor roads. It headed towards Ascot, which is tangental to the direction of Tesco. I kept waiting for it to turn left, towards Tesco, but it didn't. As the bus approached Ascot, I started thinking it didn't go to Tesco after all. Little did I know, the bus was just playing with me. It doubled back on itself, making a stop on the edge of Ascot before heading back towards Bracknell. At the first traffic light, it turned right, toward Tesco. I figured I had been worrying for nothing.
The bus proceeded down some roads I have never been on. It turned left and right again. Soon, I was disoriented. I tried to follow our progress by noting the road signs. It was hard to tell if we were making progress towards Tesco, or not. Finally, we reached a T intersection. Turning left would take us toward Tesco. A right turn would take us toward Windsor and Slough, beyond. Such a decisive nexus would be accompanied by music, if this were a film. Sadly, it was real music. The bus turned right. There would be no stop at Tesco.
I started reviewing my options. There is a big Tesco next to the Slough bus station. Maybe I could get want I wanted there. I sat back to enjoy the ride. As we drove into the outskirts of Windsor, we passed the street where my evil ex-in-laws live. This stirred uncomfortable memories. Maybe one of them has died. Perhaps, one day, I should take the bus here and get off. Imagine their surprise if I should knock on the door, one day. This brought to mind Jack Nicholson's performance in "The Shinning." I could stick my face in the doorway and say, "here's Johnny!" Maybe it would be a better idea to go there on Halloween. Then, I could dress up in a costume, which would disguise my identity. "Trick or treat, motherfucker!"
You and I know I won't do any of these things. No getting off the bus. Instead, I stayed on all the way to the last stop, beautiful, downtown Slough. Slough has a bit of a reputation in this part of England. In 1937, John Betjeman published a poem about Slough. To give you an idea of how he felt about the town, here's the beginning of the poem: "Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough! It isn't fit for humans now..." You get the idea. More recently, Slough was the setting for the original, British version of the TV series, "The Office." Nowadays, the town is known for being full of immigrants, especially those from India and Pakistan. Recently, my racist housemate, Nando, and I watched a documentary on immigration, which featured Slough. The Indian and Pakistani former immigrants are complaining about recent arrivals from Poland, Romania, and Somalia. I am always amazed that long resident immigrants and the sons, and daughters of immigrants, so often complain about subsequent waves of immigration.
When I got off the bus and went into Tesco, I felt like I had stepped through a teleportation device. It was as if I had been transported to Southwest Asia. The supermarket was awash in women dressed in colorful outfits, of the style worn in Pakistan, or India. I have trouble telling the two apart. The fact is, India and Pakistan used to be one, but were partitioned in 1947, sixty years ago. There were numerous families of Asians and the odd English one, a minority in their own country. Unfortunately, this Tesco didn't have what I was looking for, so I decided to visit the Queensmere shopping mall, across the road.
No need to get wet in the rain, I crossed the road on a skybridge, covered walkway, a couple of stories above the roadway. In Queensmere, I was again confronted by a sea of Asian faces. Both the customers and the shop workers seemed to be mostly Asians. Looking in a mobile phone shop, I found a phone I like, which was marked down. Apparently it's a discontinued model now. I was very tempted to buy it, but decided to hold out. Continuing my stroll through the mall, I came across a shop that was having a clearance sale on men's clothes. In I plunged for a little retail therapy. They had suits for as little as £39. It was hard to find much in my size, though. I did discover a tuxedo for only £50. I could use a tux, but not bad enough to part with £50, this month. I looked through shirts, but didn't find any my size which I liked. Looking through the jackets, again I couldn't find one exactly right. Eventually, I tired of the shop and left.
I wandered around the entire mall, looking here and there, but didn't buy anything. After spending over an hour there, I decided it was best to head for home. By the time I walked through my door, it was just past 6:30. Nando was home, watching TV. The first thing I said to him was, "I went out and ended up in Slough." With an incredulous look on his face, he asked how I managed to do that. "Don't ask," I replied. I had managed to spend an entire afternoon without actually accomplishing much of anything. Fortunately, I didn't spend anything other than time. Suddenly, it occurred to me that I had forgotten to buy a big, Cadbury's chocolate, Fruit and Nut bar. Oh well, there's always tomorrow.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

The Bourne Ultimatum

Today, "The Bourne Ultimatum," the third film in the Bourne series, opened into general release, here in the UK. I felt a very strong desire to see the film immediately. Why? Because I worked on the film, as an extra, and I wanted to see if I could be seen in any of the scenes I was involved with. Additionally, I liked the previous two films in the series and I haven't been to the cinema in over a month. When I got home from work, I checked the show times at the local cinema, here in Bracknell. There was a show starting in twenty-five minutes. The one after that was at 8PM. I preferred the earlier time, but it would be a close thing if I could make it, without a car.
Although I wanted to have a shower and change clothes, I quickly decided that I didn't have the time. Putting my work shirt back on, I changed shoes and socks, grabbed my wallet, and jacket, then raced out the door. It felt exciting. I was a man with a mission, just like Jason Bourne, in the film. Checking the bus schedule at my local bus stop, I discovered there was only one before the film started. It was due at 6:06PM. The film was due to start at 6:15. It would be close. Suppose the bus was late? On the other hand, the cinemas in Britain show about ten minutes of advertisements, then several minutes of trailers, before the feature, so that would give me a cushion of time. I decided to walk to the next stop, which is on the main road into Bracknell. Two more bus routes use that stop, so I would increase my chances of catching one earlier.
Cutting across the sports centre field, I thought about all the things I had in common with the character, Jason Bourne, played by Matt Damon. I was alone, in a foreign land, using public transportation. I even have the same initials! The coincidences are too much to contemplate. "The Bourne Ultimatum" is a significant film for me. I worked on it for eight days, the longest stint I have done on any film, so far. I played three different people in as many different scenes, so the odds of being seen were the highest for any big budget feature I have worked on, to date. For me, being seen is one of the rewards of doing extra work. The work is dull and you don't get a credit, so being seen is an added bonus. One scene I did on "Ultimatum," I walked down a corridor, passing Joan Allen, one of the principals in the film. Joan plays Pamela Landry. As it's just me and Joan in that corridor, I figured the odds of me being recognizable on screen were good. IF they used the shot.
Waiting at the next stop, I hoped someone I know would see me, as he or she drove into town. Maybe I would be offered a ride. At one point, a car drove by and honked, but it passed so quickly, I didn't recognize any of the people in it. The car pulled into the petrol station, further up the road. Should I go there and see who it is? If I did, I would risk missing the bus. I decided to play it safe and wait for the bus. The reviews of "Ultimatum," which I have read, so far, are very positive. I am tempted to say, "glowing." The Bourne films have been described as "intelligent thriller" and are thought to have raised the bar for the whole genre of espionage thrillers. Many see that influence on the latest Bond film, "Casion Royale," which seemed to be trying to imitate the Bourne style. Larushka Ivan-Zadeh (boy, I hate hyphenated names), in today's Metro newspaper, gives "Ultimatum" four out of five stars, indicating a "very good."
Thankfully, the bus was not late. I reached the last stop, in Bracknell town centre, with six minutes till show time. I walked, purposefully, toward the Odeon Cinema, taking advantage of a pedestrian short-cut. Approaching the cinema complex, I walked fast in order to get ahead of a slow moving group of young women. I managed to beat them to the escalator. Riding the escalator up to the box office, I wondered if there would be a long queue. Two minutes till show time. I hoped that the start time was early enough that a lot of people won't have managed to get home from work and get themselves together for an evening out, yet. As I reached the top of the escalator, looking ahead, I saw there was no one in the queue for the box office. Yes! Now, just let the show not be sold out.
Some UK cinemas still offer reserved seating. Tonight, the Odeon was in reserve seat mode. For Americans, it's a strange experience, as in America, all cinemas are open seating. As a former cinema manager, I think it's daft. Reserve seating makes buying a ticket a longer process, as the customer has to choose where he wants to sit. Also, you need an usher or two, at the auditorium, to seat people. I thought most cinemas, here, had abandoned it. I haven't run across reserved seating for a few years. The cashier, sadly a male, asked me if I wanted to purchase Premium Seating. I have never heard of that before. The Bracknell cinema used to be part of the UCI chain and never offered "Premium Seating." "What, exactly, is Premium seating?" I asked. Did I have time for this? As soon as he mentioned that the premium seats are at the back of the auditorium, I cut him off. "No thanks." I prefer sitting in front. I won't pay extra to sit in the back. Realizing that the screening was reserve seating, I told him I wanted to sit in front, adding, "as far front as you can get me," to make sure he understood. He was surprised, because, for some strange reason, most people seem to shun sitting in the front row. So much so that Odeon management have chosen to start selling seats in the back, for a premium. I have always preferred sitting in front. I get unlimited leg room and I can lose myself into the film. No distractions of people's heads in front. As everyone else is behind, I don't hear them talking as much. To me, it seems strange that people pay extra to sit in the front row at a concert, or at a play, but avoid it at the cinema. People, are strange.
Inside, a cute, female usher was taking the tickets. She smiled sweetly at me and I said, "gee, you seem happy," as I walked up to her. I don't remember her response. I didn't have time to flirt with her, I needed to get in to see my film. All that mattered to me was that she said, "screen five," and indicated the direction I should go. I rushed past the concession counter. No over-priced treats for me. I could do with saving the calories and the money. At the door to the auditorium, there was a sign posted, reading, "please wait to be seated." Oh for Pete's sake! It was the reserve seating again. No one was visible. I waited impatiently for the usher. Finally, he strolled into view. He walked me to my seat while the adverts were playing. I am perfectly capable of walking myself to my seat, thank you. The room was only about a quarter full. As I guessed, it was a bit early. I suspect the next showing, at 8PM, was much busier. I was seated all on my own, in the front row, dead center. That suited me fine. I made myself comfortable. At least I didn't miss the trailers. I like to see what's coming to the cinemas. I saw a trailer for "The Kingdom," which looks good, but mostly I was impatient for the feature to start. I wanted gratification and I wanted it right away.
The good news is that "The Bourne Ultimatum" is good. If I have any complaints, it's that the story is simple and there could have been more fight and chase sequences. At 115 minutes, the film bucks the trend of going over two hours. All of the character development is centered on Jason Bourne. Although some of the peripheral characters seem interesting, we don't get to know much about them. Scott Glenn, who plays Ezra Kramer, Director of the CIA, is shown so little, we hardly see him. I had heard a rumor that one of the scenes I did, with Scott Glenn, was dropped from the film and that's true. Julia Stiles is back, reprising her role as Nicky Parsons and thee is a hint of a "history" between her and Bourne, but that's all we get, a hint. Also, director Paul Greengrass, might have overused his trademark, handheld, jumbly camera shots. The most involved hand to hand fight sequence in the film is hard to follow, because the image jumps around on the screen so much. The same is true of the police car chase sequence. Greengrass also directed the previous Bourne film, "The Bourne Supremacy," (as well as "United 93") but I don't remember the camera jumping around so much in that one. It would be interesting to watch them both again and compare.
The bad news is that you can't see me in any of the film. As I mentioned above, gone is the scene I did with Scott Glenn. The Waterloo station scenes are so crowded and between the jumpy, hand-held camera, and the flashing editing, I can't find myself. Finally, my big scene with Joan Allen, which comes towards the end of the film, was cut so that it starts on screen after I have passed her. After all the rushing, I felt defeated. Still, I earned more money on that film than any other show business project I have worked on. It also got me filming at Shepperton and Pinewood studios, for the first time. While other reviewers have rated it the best Bourne film so far, I think I still prefer the first one (sorry Paul). In any case, it's a good thriller and worth seeing. I think it's better than "Casino Royale."

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Death and Taxes

The old saying that the only sure things are death and taxes has been taken to a new level. Apparently, Ipswich Council are planning to start charging relatives of the dead a levy of £50, on top of the cost of cremation. Money raised in this manner is supposed to pay for a new incinerator, which will give off less mercury when the dead are burned. Supposedly, about 17% of the mercury emitted in Britain comes from cremations. I've heard that people in Ipswich are just dying to pay this tax. It seems that, once again, the most popular new excuse for "governments" to steal more of your money is in the name of protecting the environment. I would stubbornly stay alive, just to deny the silly buggers the money. Taxation is theft!

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Marital Bliss

Mike Moore, a Nevada Sheriff's Deputy, stopped his wife, Charlotte, who is also a Sheriff's Deputy, for driving under the influence of alcohol. Mrs. Moore then fled, so hubby called for "back-up." Charlotte was eventually arrested. The first thing I thought when I heard this story was, "I wonder what the dinner table conversation is like at their house?" There must be something odd going on in this relationship. Somehow, I suspect Mike won't be getting any from his Mrs. anytime soon. Ladies, this just goes to show you that you should never marry a cop.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Rescued By Jodie Marsh

Going to see Jordan Marsh perform, this past Saturday, took a bit of effort. His gig was at the Bull pub, in Brentwood, Essex, while I live in Bracknell, Berkshire. Going from here to there, using public transportation, took four hours. I took two buses, two Tube trains, two overland trains, and a taxi to get there. Unfortunately, Jordan had already started playing when I arrived, but he hadn't been on for long. Making my way to the bar, I bought a pint of larger, then took a place on the edge of the crowd, facing the stage from the side.
About a third of the way through Jordan's first set, I suddenly spotted his sister, Jodie, on the opposite side of the pub. I hadn't seen her earlier. I know she's only 5' 2" tall, but she was with Matt again and he's well over six feet tall. I hadn't seen him either. Maybe they had been in a different position before. When Jordan finished his first set, he left the stage and headed in my direction. Where I was standing was along the path to the toilets. I expected him to pass by me, without pause. To my surprise, Jordan came right up to me and spoke. He recognized me! Well, I didn't expect that. He'd only met me once before, for about fifteen minutes or so, when I was auditioning for his sister's reality show, and that was over two months ago. Then he said, "Jodie's over there," gesturing in the direction where I'd spotted his sister, earlier. I acknowledged his observation. He added that he wasn't sure she'd spotted me, but he had noticed me as soon as I walked in.
After a brief, but cordial conversation, Jordan excused himself in order to continue his way to the loo. I was now faced with a dilemma. Originally, I hadn't intended on speaking to Jodie. I didn't want to intrude while she was out with Matt. Not realizing I had been spotted, I was going to just listen to the music, then go. However, now that Jordan had spoken to me, it might seem strange if I didn't go over and speak to Jodie. Meanwhile, Jordan had begun his second set. The music wasn't too loud, but it was loud enough that I wouldn't be able to engage in conversation with Jodie, in the area she was standing in. I decided to wait till the show ended, then go over and say hello.
It got later and later, with no sign that the music would stop. I began to worry that I wouldn't make it to the last train back to London. After an encore, the show finally ended. I walked purposefully across the floor. As I approached Jodie, I saw the spark of recognition in her eyes. She greeted me and offered her right cheek for a kind of show businessy kiss, as is her habit. I told her that her brother had told me she was there. Jodie responded by informing me that Matt had spotted me, when I walked in. What? This caught me by surprise, as I had never met Matt before. So, how on Earth did he recognize me? I told Jodie that I had come to hear her brother's music. She suggested that I come to more of his shows. Then, after a brief pause in the conversation, I excused myself, saying that I needed to catch the last train to London. She offered me the cheek, again, for a goodbye kiss.
Walking outside the pub where I could hear, I called the cab company on my phone. They informed me that I would have to wait twenty minutes. Surely, that would cause me to miss my train. "Forget it," I said and disconnected the call. I set off into the night, in the direction I thought the train station was in. I was walking along for about 5 minutes, when a vehicle slowed to a stop next to me. All of the sudden, I heard a voice ask, "need a ride?" Looking up in shock, I was confronted by Matt and Jodie's father! They informed me that I had been heading in the wrong direction. I accepted the ride and got in the back.
Matt then told me that Jodie had spotted me leaving and noticed that I was heading off the wrong way. She sent Matt and her dad to rescue me. In a few minutes, they got me to the station. I was in time to catch the last train for London. Thanking them for the ride, I asked them to pass along my thanks to Jodie. If they hadn't come along when they did, I might have been stuck in the Essex countryside, all night. All's well that ends well. Hey Jodie...thanks.


Monday, August 13, 2007

The Other Marsh

This past Saturday, I went to Essex to see Jordan Marsh perform, live. Jordan is Jodie Marsh's brother and I originally met him while auditioning for Jodie's reality TV show. When I read Jodie's autobiography, "Keeping It Real," I discovered that her brother is a musician. After our initial meeting, I added him as a "friend" on Myspace. It was on Myspace that I first got to sample his musical talents and, although I wasn't expecting much, I was impressed. Here in England, everybody's heard of Jodie Marsh, but her brother is not so well known yet. It turns out he's the hidden gem in the Marsh family.
All of sister Jodie's talent in looks and the wearing of scintillating, sexy outfits, Jordon equals in musical ability. He sings and plays keyboards. Soul, rockabilly, R & B, and funk are the styles of music Mr. Marsh enjoys and he does them justice. As good as his recordings sound on Myspace, he was ten times better in person. Jordan played the Bull pub, in Brentwood, a regular venue for him. Over the years I have lived in England, I have seen a number of pub bands, but few put on as musically competent a show as I enjoyed on Saturday. The crowd were entertained by a repertoire of covers on famous songs by the likes of Stevie Wonder, Average White Band, Curtis Mayfield, Elvis Presley, and Little Richard, amongst others. All of this and the admission price was absolutely free.
Sadly, Jordan's regular band mates weren't available, so he played with a stand-in drummer. He also had a sax contribution by the drummer's wife. There's something cool about female sax players. It was also unfortunate that we didn't get to hear any of Jordan's original material. A promised CD is on the way. Jordan has a number of gigs lined up, primarily in Essex, for the rest of the year. There is at least one gig in London, as well. If you get the chance to see him perform, I recommend you grab it. Jordan Marsh gives you real music, with real instruments, not the artificial sound of synthesized percussion that plagues a number of pop acts these days. You can check him out on Myspace, at: . I predict that he will shine as a star in his own right, rather than remain in the shadows of his sister. I expect that she is very proud of him.


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Artist of the Week: Manic Street Preachers

This week, my Artist of the Week is: Manic Street Preachers. I saw them perform live during my recent attendance at the taping of "The Friday Night Project" (see, "The Friday Night Project," 17 July, 2007). They performed their second single, "Autumn Song," from their latest album, "Send Away the Tigers." I like the song, so here they are. The delay was due to the time it took to acquire them as "friends" on Myspace. I first got into the Manics back in 1998, when they had their first number one single, "If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next." The band are from Wales, which is nice. I have a soft spot for Wales, as my second fiancee was from there and I have spent a lot of time visiting Wales. Sadly, the Manics are socialists, advocates of a misinformed economic policy. Ironically, they are enjoying the success of capitalism. So long as they keep making good music, I suppose we can ignore their political views. You can check them out at their Myspace page: .

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Mad Dogs and Englishmen

Yesterday, I was reading "Closer" magazine, on the bus, when I came across one of their "burning question" features. The title was, "Is It Cruel to Take Your Dog Clubbing?" This featured in the 28th July-3 August edition of "Closer." It was inspired by a furore that arose after Britney Spears was reported to have taken her Yorkshire Terrier puppy to clubs with her, in LA. Supposedly, "animal lovers" were "up in arms" over Britney's actions.
Arguing the "no" side, that it's not cruel, is Julian Bennett, a TV presenter, here in the UK. He owns a Dachshund, Lulu, and regularly takes her clubbing with him. He reasons, quite cogently, that if a dog is used to something, there is nothing wrong with the dog being in that environment. Bennett has had Lulu for four years and she's grown up in a show business environment. He points out that celebrities usually sit in quieter, VIP areas, in these clubs anyway, so the dog wouldn't have to cope with the noisiest parts. Arguing the "yes" side, that it is cruel, is Shauna Lowry, also a British TV presenter. As I read her words, I found myself horrified that I have to share this planet with such loons.
Shauna Lowry starts off saying, "I'm a Trustee of Battersea dogs home..." Immediately, she's trying the discredited, "argument from authority." Listen honey, anyone with a bit of money can become a trustee of a charity. That doesn't make you an animal expert. You're a TV presenter, for Pete's sake, not a scientist. Then she goes on to assume a lot of things which she has no evidence to conclude. She guesses that Britney's dog would be "shaking from fear" and starts guessing Britney's mental state, accusing her of only taking the dog along as an "attention seeking device." Lowry goes on to brag that "we" (Battersea dog's home) turned down a request to adopt a dog by Robbie Williams, the pop music superstar, because he travels a lot and wouldn't be a "proper owner." Even though she admits that Robbie said he'd have staff around to care for the dog when he is away, she dismisses that as not being " a responsible owner." What? What are people supposed to do who own pets, never go away? Is this woman barking mad?
Britney's dog is a Yorkshire Terrier. It just so happens that my good friend, Mucky Sarah, has a Yorkshire Terrier, too. I happened to call Sarah, last night, to chat. During the conversation, I mentioned this article from "Closer." Sarah told me she was turned down by Battersea Dog's home, as well. As a single, working woman, she would need to leave the dog at home during the day. Sarah was planning to hire a professional dog walker to take her dog out, during the day, while she was at work. The muppets at Battersea dog's home said that wasn't good enough! Sarah also told me that single people, looking to adopt a dog from Battersea, have to undergo a lifestyle assessment, before they can adopt a dog. What? In a dazzling display of flagrant discrimination, families aren't required to go through this rubbish. Sarah echoed my own sentiment, that a dog is better off in a home, with a loving owner prepared to arrange care for it, than locked up in one of Battersea's cages. People adopt children with less screening than this. These are dogs, for Pete's sake!
I don't know where Sarah ended up getting her dog from, but she's so sweet. She has accompanied Sarah and I out, even attending a pub with us. To me, it would be more cruel keeping the dog in Sarah's flat, rather than taking her out. The dog seems to love going out and about. When I was married, we had a lovely dog, a Golden Retriever named, Elsie. My evil ex-wife, the Black Queen, raised Elise from a puppy and she was very well behaved. Elsie was my second favorite pet of all time, behind my own pet cat, Misty. As the Black Queen and I both worked, and my step-children attended school, Elsie would spend days home alone. If we were going away on holiday, we would arrange for my in-laws to have Elsie.
To use a popular, British expression, Shauna Lowry and the people at Battersea dogs home seem to have lost the plot. They truly give me the impression that the inmates are running the asylum. As long as Battersea engage in such absurd policies, I will not be donating a single penny to them. Robbie Williams' dog would lead a better life than I do. The same can be said for Britney's, pictured clutched to Britney's breast. People like Lowry remind me of the old sayings about "mad Englishmen" and that the English love their dogs more than they love people. All the dogs of the world should turn around and bite Shauna Lowry, and the people at Battersea, on the ass.

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Program Alert: The Whistle

The short film I was in last summer, is being shown on TV tomorrow night. "The Whistle" will air at 10:27PM, Saturday, August 11th, on Propeller TV, Sky Channel 195. It's a short film and I only appear during the first few minutes, but I have lines and I get a credit. So, make sure you watch through the credits.

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The Twins Do a Brave Thing

On "Big Brother" this week, the twins, Sam and Amanda, were offered a choice. Ever since they came into the house, people have been wondering if they would be treated as one contestant, or as two separate contestants. For some time, it was supposedly settled that they were two separate contestants on the show. Big Brother reserves the right to change the rules at any time. So, Sam and Amanda were given a choice. They could be treated as one housemate, but then they would both be up for eviction this week. Alternatively, they could be treated as separate housemates, but then they would have to pick one of them to face the public vote, this week.
All along, I have said that the twins should be treated as one housemate. I can't see a reason to favor one over the other, but together they are very entertaining. My wishes have been fulfilled. Saying that they couldn't bare to chose between themselves, Sam and Amanda stared down Big Brother and elected to be treated as one, even though it meant risking the pair being evicted. Also up for eviction were Amy, Kara-Louise, and Jonty. Of course, the twins stayed. Sadly, Amy, the glamour model, was evicted tonight. I would have preferred Jonty to go, as Amy is the sexiest housemate, but the voters, most of whom are women and gay men, chose to chuck out the buxom beauty, instead. At least we have the twins as one. Brave girls, well done. Now, if only they could win the series.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Sold Out

Tonight, I acted on my plan to phone about a few cars I found in the weekly "Ad Trader." Hitler's Nephew has started buying the paper, so I looked at it after he went to bed, last night. It saves me paying for it and, in a way, I get even with him for using my plates. The latest edition came out yesterday, so I was following up as early as I could. I called about the car that was my first choice on the list. A nice sounding, older, woman's voice politely informed me that it was sold already. Drat! I thanked her and hung up. Why did I thank her, she gave me bad news? I dialed my second choice. Some guy answered. "It's sold," he said. Double drat!! Even though I don't know why I am doing it, I thanked him too and hung up.
What's going on? Why is it all the cars I am interested in seem to be sold out before I get a chance at them? I dialed my third choice. This time, the phone just rang and rang, but wasn't answered. Frustrated, I went downstairs and told Nando what happened. He told me the weekly, free paper we get which comes on Thursday had arrived. I looked through the classifieds in it. Not one ad within my budget. Looks like I am still on the bus, for now. At least Nando and I get to share a couple of cold beers. Being foreigners, Nando and I haven't acquired the British taste for room temperature beer. We like ours ice cold. As I knock back a cold Becks, I think about cars. Somewhere out there is a car for me.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Blocked Out

This afternoon, when I boarded the bus home, from Camberley, there was a gaggle of beautiful young women on it, again. However this time, they had occupied my usual seat, in the emergency exit row. I needed to find a different place to sit. I settled for one of the seats near the front, with lots of legroom. These are the ones that have signs above them requesting that one give up the seat for a pregnant, or elderly person. I'm not old enough to be elderly and I can't get pregnant, but I am too tall to fit in most of the rows on the bus. My knees get jammed against the seat in front. These buses must have been designed for elves. Why don't they add, "and for the big tired guy, on his way home from work, who can't fit into any of the other seats" to the signs? Don't I deserve a seat, too? Beauty is wasted on the young.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Pussycats Without the Dolls

While walking home from the bus stop, today, I spotted two cats in front of a couple of the homes, at the other end of my row. These were the same two cats I had seen this morning, on my way to work. They were laying in the same spots. One is white, the other mostly black, with a white underbelly. They seem to spend all their time laying on the driveway in front of the homes at that end of the terraced row. I think the black and white one hangs out in my back garden, from time to time. When there are cars in their favorite spots, they just lay on top of the cars.
What a life! Imagine laying about, doing whatever you want all day. No need to take buses, or work to earn your keep. No wonder cats purr. I have often compared myself to cats, since I was young. The best pet I ever had was my cat, Misty. I can't remember what age I was when I got him, but I know I had him by the time I was eleven. The proof is a Polaroid photo of him, with me, taken with my great aunt, Ann's camera. I am wearing an outfit in that photo that I wore when I was eleven. It would have been the latter half of 1970, or early 1971. I wonder where that photo is now?
Misty was a kitten when he came to live with me. He was silver tabby on the top of his head, on his back, sides and tail. The lower half of his face and body were white, and he had a touch of calico. Most of the time we lived together, he used to come sleep with me. Misty was also good at keeping the mice out of the house, or at least, in hiding so we were never bothered by them. Once in a while, he would kill one. Someday, when I can afford domestic help, I want to get another cat. Comparing myself to cats, I am like a big cat, like a tiger. With me, you can either get the soft fur, or the sharp claws, depending on how you act.
As I walk up to my door, I spot a third cat. This one is long-haired, red tabby with white. He's crouched on the lawn, just past my door. He quietly eyes me as I put my key in the lock. I've seen him in the back garden, as well. So, I have three local cats watching over me. Maybe they are keeping me safe from bad people. My great aunt, Ann used to say, "never trust anyone who doesn't get one well with cats." My evil ex-wife, the Black Queen, didn't like cats. She claimed to be allergic to them. With her, I failed to heed Ann's warning until it was too late. Ann died seventeen years before I met the Black Queen. Misty died eighteen years before I met the Black Queen. So, when I met her, there were no cats to protect me. No aunts either.

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Monday, August 06, 2007

A Renewal of Faith

Several weeks ago, I was driving to a pub on a Friday night, scanning radio stations for some enjoyable music. Obviously, this was when my car was still running. All of the sudden, I found this great electronic music, at the upper end of the dial. I think it was 107.3 FM. The music was drum 'n base style and perfect for driving fast on the motorway. I stayed tuned in to the station the whole way. The DJ calls herself, Lady Hektik, and she said she would send anyone a free CD of her music, if one would just send a text with one's name and address. A free CD? Now she was really playing my song.
As I was driving, I typed out the text into my mobile phone. It was all ready to go, I just needed the number to send it to. Quickly she rattled through the number, but I only managed to get the first four digits. As I was driving, I couldn't write it down. I arrived at the pub, still waiting for her to repeat the number again. I noticed there were no commercial breaks on the station. Eventually, I figured out why. It was a pirate station. No, not a station that only plays old sea shanties. An unlicensed radio station, operating "illegally." I don't remember ever hearing any pirate stations, back in America. I think the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) clamps down on them rather swiftly, there. Here in Britain, it seems that the "authorities" are much less effective at stamping out such things.
I sat in the pub parking lot, with my mobile poised in my hand, waiting for Lady Hektik to give me the vital, missing numbers. At risk was me missing last call. Finally, she ran through the number again. I sent my text off into the night, then scrambled into the pub. Weeks went by and no CD arrived. I had no reply text, nor any other indication that my request had been received. Eventually, I resigned myself to the conclusion that Lady Hektik was a bit too hectic to come through with my promised, free CD. Shrugging my shoulders, I chalked the whole thing up to experience. I guess pirate radio DJs don't live up to "the code," like pirates do in "Pirates of the Caribbean."
Then one Saturday, I came downstairs in the morning to find an envelope, addressed to me, that had come through the post, sitting on the kitchen table, with the rest of the mail. Hitler's Nephew must have put the mail there before he left the house that morning. I picked up the strange envelope and noticed that "do not bend" was written on the outside. Intrigued, I opened it. I had completely forgotten about my late night text to Lady Hektik. Well shiver me timbers! To my surprise, the envelope contained my long awaited, free CD. Lady Hektik was as good as her word. I popped the CD into my DVD player and immediately began listening to it. The music wasn't quite as good as I remembered, but it was enjoyable. Besides, the price was great. Events like this renew my faith in humanity. Lady Hektik, if you're out there somewhere, respect!

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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Artist of the Week: Amy Winehouse

For a long time, I resisted being swept up in the popular frenzy over Amy Winehouse. The songs I heard by her were okay, but, to me, didn't seem to justify the acclaim she was receiving. Being the individualist that I am, I steadfastly refused to jump on the bandwagon. Finally, I have heard a single by Amy which I really like. That single is, "Tears Dry on Their Own" and it's the reason why this week, my Artist of the Week is Amy Winehouse. Unfortunately, "Tears" isn't available for adding on Amy's Myspace page, so I have selected her most successful UK hit, "Rehab," as my sample for her. You can listen to a sample of "Tears Dry on Their Own" on Amy's Myspace page, at: .
"Tears" is her most recent single from Amy's second album, "Back to Black." Amy won Best British Female Artist at the 2007 BRIT Awards and due to her recent commercial success, it's hard to imagine that any of you don't know who she is. If you haven't particularly enjoyed her work in the past, try listening to "Tears Dry on Their Own." You might find it wins you over.


Saturday, August 04, 2007

A Walk in the Sun

Both Nando and I were off, today. We both spent most of the day vegging out. I spent a lot of time in front of the TV. Hitler's Nephew went out about midday, so it was just me and Nando. Nando got up late and came downstairs about three hours after I did. Eventually, I turned the remote controls over to him and came upstairs to write. Between the bus travel and going away last weekend, I had fallen way behind on blogging, this week. I never got around to posting a new Artist of the Week. That was partially due to the fact that my first choice's Myspace page seemed never to load correctly, so I couldn't add their song. Oh well, the world will survive.
After spending a couple of hours catching up on my blog, I had a shower and dressed to go out. I checked with Nando, to see if he was going out. If he was, I could catch a ride with him, but no, he stayed home all day and night. By the time I got myself together, the local bus service had stopped running. I resigned myself to walking to my local Sainsbury's supermarket. I wanted to buy some lettuce and salad dressing, as I was out of both. I left the house a few minutes past 7 o'clock. At these northern latitudes, it's still daylight at that time, in the summer. As I walked up the street, I noticed how beautiful the day was. Long gone were the rain showers of July. The sky was blue and cloudless. It was almost a shame that Nando was missing it.
During my walk to the store and back, I saw children playing, people walking their dogs, a man and two girls on bicycles. My mobile beeped with a text message. It was from Nando. He wanted me to bring him back some coffee, from the store. Other than that, I was undisturbed. It took me just short of an hour to walk to Sainsbury's, shop, and come back. When I got home, Nando was still on the middle couch, unmoved. Despite my successful trip to the supermarket, I still felt like I didn't do much, today. As a treat, I had bought some big, soft, chocolate chip cookies, at the store. They were marked down to one-fifth their normal price, as they had reached their sell-by date. Nando and I shared half the cookies, as well as a couple of bottles of my free beer stash, while watching TV. All in all, it was a lazy, summer day. Not very productive, but enjoyable all the same.

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Love of Chocolate

The other night, my racist, Italian housemate, Nando, and I were watching TV together, as is our habit. Nando entered one of his occasional, talkative moods. He began telling me how he loves chocolate, but only at night. He's convinced that chocolate consumption is the root cause of his being overweight. I am more skeptical of this, suspecting that the double size dinners he often has have more to do with it. Even when he does limit himself to a single portion, the combinations of high calorie pasta and bread, which he likes, can play havoc with one's waistline. Washing it all down with beer, or heavily sweetened coffee, doesn't help either.
Nando said, "if there's chocolate in the house, I'll eat it." He reminded me how I have often witnessed him coming downstairs in the middle of the night, in order to eat some chocolate in the kitchen. I love chocolate too, but don't feel as compelled by it as Nando does. He told me that when he goes into a petrol station to pay for his petrol, seeing the chocolate bars on display, while he's queuing for the cashier, can lure him into a spontaneous purchase. I pointed out to him that I always resist buying chocolate bars at a petrol station, unless I am very hungry, as I realize the prices there are much higher than I can get in a supermarket. It seems that my desire to save money is even stronger than the lure of chocolate.
While we were having this conversation, all of the sudden a thought occurred to me. Stereotypically, it's women who are supposed to be into chocolate. Nando is a very masculine, man's man, yet here he was fawning over chocolate like some character in a chick flick. I know that the gay radio presenter, Bill Buckley (LBC 97.3 FM, London), is into chocolate. Like me, Bill likes his chocolate refrigerated. Nando is anti-gay enough to probably not appreciate having something in common with a gay man. Nor would Nando like being accused of having a girly fascination with chocolate. All of this makes me wonder, are men into chocolate as much as women are supposed to be? This question can best be considered while chewing on a milk chocolate bar.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007


The other day, on the bus coming home from work, I noticed that I was surrounded by beautiful, young women. Raising my head from trying to sleep, I spotted six beauties around me. I usually sit at the back of the bus, in the emergency exit row. This isn't because I expect to need to escape, but because I like the extra legroom available there. The emergency exit row is wider than all the others. Anyway, to my left, across the aisle, was a tall, leggy, brunette. In front of her were a couple of bouncy blondes. In front of me were a few more ladies, with varying shades of hair color, including a brunette with lovely blue eyes. I was the only man in the midst of all this young, taunt-skinned, femininity.
After a few stops, this tide of totally babalicious bounty began to ebb. In ones and twos, they each left the bus. Them just when I was resigning myself to going back to sleep, a hot blond in an aqua tunic got on, in Crowthorne. She looked to be a nurse or beautician, or something. Maybe a dental technician, as there is a dentist's office near that stop. When I was younger, my dentist was this kindly, old Jewish man, back in America. I'm of two minds about whether I would prefer a hot blond gal working on my mouth. Yeah, she looks great, but the downside is, she gets to see you at your worst. It's impossible to look cool when you are in the dentist's chair. In any case, this girl ignored me as completely as the other six did. I might as well go back to sleep.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

What a Treasure

Last Saturday, I worked on a new film. It was only extra work, but I was grateful for the opportunity to earn some extra money, to put toward my car fund. I was pleased to discover that I was working on "National Treasure 2." The day's filming was at Pinewood Studios, on the back lot. I was playing a cowboy walking along the sidewalk in a town in one of the Dakotas (North, of them). The costume department outfitted me with a black cowboy hat. How cool was that? The scene involved one of the principals, Ed Harris. I walk past as he comes out of a store. At a couple of points during the afternoon, he and I were as close as I am to this computer screen, right here on my desk. We passed each other like two ships in the night, only it was day and ships don't usually pass each other on the sidewalk. All this and we were served steak for lunch. Man, the movie business is great, isn't it?

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