Friday, December 30

And the winner is

The biggest shock of the holiday season has to be my father getting into Top Chef.

He's eaten in Tom Colicchio's restaurant, but 9 seasons into the Bravo show, and my mum has failed in all of her previous attempts to get him to watch.

Which 13 episode season has he watched in a week?

The first Canadian version!

No Padma, or Tom, and only a tiny bit of Gail, but with an identical format to the US version.

Tuesday, December 27

Monkey in repeat win shocker


Wow, I only went and won my Fantasy Football League ...

Friday, December 23

Close Your Eyes ...


... and think of all the frozen lakes in Florida where kids grow up playing Ice Hockey.

I took my parents to see the Bruins demolish the Florida Panthers tonight. Wooooo!

After a club singer with false teeth, sung the National Anthem, the action got underway.

The Bruins killed the game in the first period, to the point that mum said, "They should just have a big fight now" to conclude the evening's entertainment.

As usual I forgot to tell my parents to take ID to the game, so we had that awkward moment where the guy behind the bar sells 2 beers to me, but then contemplates not selling one to my dad.

Tonight an old lady won fan of the match, which bagged (in her case) a life's supply of pizza.

Top night all round.

Monday, December 19

Jerry, look who moved in next door

As I flick through the news this morning of Kim Jung Il's sudden death I couldn't help but notice this picture of the North Korean Embassy in London.

It looks like a suburban house from a 70s sit-com. I imagine the theme tune plays every time the front door opens.

Thursday, December 15

Happy Birthday Darling

This is odd. It's Anne's birthday and we're apart.

She flew off to Clevelandia yesterday for an extended Pre-Christmas visit with her family. I'm joining up with them at the end of my work week.

Last time I missed her birthday was 1994. I was going to make some joke about listening to music from that year, but I just realized that 17 years later Take That were and still are the biggest thing in the UK.

As you can see, I bought her a helicopter last year.

This year I got her a bean bag. And she loves it more than the helicopter. Because quite simply she cannot put the helicopter in front of the fireplace and warm her cold feet.

I still don't know if I have a wife that doesn't wear jewelry, or if Anne has a husband who doesn't buy it.

Happy Birthday Fruitster!!

Wednesday, December 14

The Power of Advertising

I had my own mini-version of the Siri vs Anti-Abortion conflict tonight.

I was googling the lyrics to 'My Love Goes Down' by British retro-rapper-slash-Amy-Winhouse-with-a-Dick Plan B.

As I suspected the lyrics are quite literally about him 'going down' (not sure why I used dick quotes there) on his baby. Baby in the female companion sense. Not infant.

But the geniuses at Google with their complicated algorithms determined that I was searching for Plan B, the Morning After Pill. Who knows? Maybe after My Love Goes Down, the aforementioned gentleman will come back up for air and contemplate other sexual avenues that lead to impregnation?

I appear to have turned into a sex education booklet from a bygone age.



Thanks Google. Furthermore I'm sure the word content of this post in isolation will lead to thousands of spam e-mails.

Fuck it, I might as well lure the spammers into my sights. I need a Nigerian Bank transfer, a gold watch and enough viagra to never lose the erection that my Ukrainian mail-order bride demands.

Thursday, December 8

The natives are restless

I did my bit for the community tonight. Sort of.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts bought a single train track from a private freight company last year. The track runs through Cambridge near to where I live.

MassDOT had the awesome idea of providing a commuter train service from the Worcester/Framingham corridor into the North Station of Boston, meaning a fast train would stop traffic in my dense, and let's be honest, wealthy neighborhood 24 times a day.

As a City we have rallied to 'Stop the madness', and tonight at a public meeting the results of the MassDOT analysis were revealed. They are not going to develop the plan. For now.

But one more time. Not. Moving. Forward. With. Plan.



So why do I feel conflicted?

I cannot help feeling a bit NIMBY about this. The plan would have taken cars off the road, and provided transport links for less fortunate neighborhoods into Boston, and the analysis showed that on average my commute would be 19 seconds longer.

What pissed me off was that the rep from MassDOT revealed the findings in the first 2 minutes. Very clearly, he said "We are not building a commuter train route through your City", and yet when it came to 'Any Questions', 20+ concerned residents ranted nonsensically about why the plan was such a terrible idea in the first place.

Hey douchebags. We won. OK? They weren't even being self-satisfied, instead they were just venting because they'd gone to the meeting knowing that they'd get their righteous 15 seconds of microphone time no matter what, so even though their crappy point was no longer relevant we still had to listen.

I left with my opinion reversed. I now want a fast train stopping traffic twice an hour, as disgruntled residents huff and puff (on their lattes) about the Federal Law that makes a train whistle blow compulsory at a level crossing.

However.

What pissed me off the most?

A deficiency of public speaking skills.

Boundless erms, errs, and aahs interrupting pointless repetitive bullshit from elected officials and people with 'communications' on their shiftily designed business cards.

Best fake tweet of the day



Affleck's aquarium goes head to head with Damon's zoo.

Tuesday, December 6

It is not a tumor!

I just ordered the 2nd best thing to come out of Austria.

Hopefully in time for Christmas we will have a Sacher-Torte, freshly delivered from Vienna.

And with my parents visiting for the Holidays we'll also be feasting on Yorkshire Puddings and Gravy, Christmas Pudding and Custard, and maybe some Mince Pies.

Later this week, we're hitting the British Food shop to hopefully save my folks from dragging a suitcase full of Hob-Nobs, Cadbury's Selection Boxes, and Heinz Treacle Tarts through Customs.

Monday, December 5

The Winter of Content

I seldom get the chance to celebrate a whole week of dick-bag free happiness.

I find it quite difficult to write about contentment, in fact these first 2 sentence have taken me 5 minutes to write whereas my rants about retail flow like music from Mozart's pen, or quill, or whatever he wrote with (GarageBand?)

Anne switched jobs a few weeks ago, and she's never been so happy. The weather is not bat-shit crazy yet, but it's still cold enough to put the fire on at night. I've moved a pair of jeans to my "too big for me" closet, and even at my job I'm working on a project that is enjoyable.

'My Favorite Things' is playing in my head. Not the Sound of Music version, but the John Coltrane cut. So that's happy and cool at the same time.

In this period of heightened enlightenment, we've even started playing the lottery ... in 2 countries. We'll probably win some time this month.

Over and out!

Saturday, November 26

Jesus!

While America gives thanks to a bunch of fundamentalist Christians for growing corn from seeds they stole from the natives, everyone else is 'getting their Christmas on'.

So it's time for me to open the top drawer, and pull out a range of zinger lines for this year's Christmas Card messages.

And to think, in about 10 days time, I'll receive a card with a photo of some friend's kids. This is only acceptable if the infant and friends have gone full nativity. That's right, I want donkey's, sheep, myrrh and wise men, not just "Happy Holidays from the lastnames", in Zapf Pissing Chancery.

Sad Day

Anne just decided (26 years too late) that The Cult are not very good.

That's not freaking me out.

What's freaking me out is that I disagreed with her, which given my previous track record of disliking such shoe-gazing goth tosh is quite odd.

This is the equivalent of Nelson Mandela saying, "You know, you were right, I'm better off in prison".

It's just like that.

I'll try to make a Sisters of Mercy/Martin Luther King Jr analogy later.

Thursday, November 17

Thought of the day

I was catching up on the Zooey Deschanel comedy vehicle New Girl last night.

It featured a scene where the characters tried to thaw a turkey in a tumble dryer.

"That's genuinely funny", I exclaimed.

Anne, who never misses an opportunity to put down Deschanel ironically replied, "Quirky and adorkable".

I contended it was just funny, not 'trying too hard' funny.

10 seconds later ... as I digested the idea of using household appliances incorrectly ... I said to Anne,

"What would happen if you pissed into a Brita?

Would it magically filter the piss into drinking water?"


"Probably not", Anne deadpanned.

And with that I continued to enjoy Zooey's comic stylings.

Tuesday, November 15

Ticking all the boxes

I ran across this video short today on the Zara website.

It has so many of my pet peeves that I felt like they made the damn clip just to annoy me.



Twee ukelele, twatish Brit, media wander glasses, ugly/not ugly beardy hipster, over elaborate coffee pot, intellectual yet obscure art books, unexceptional placement of fresh herbs, fruits and flowers, meaningless bollocks about contemporary art, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

And that's just the first 2 minutes, upon which I got bored and hit pause. It appears I'd used up all of my contempt!!

I was on the Zara website because I'm trying to replace a jacket I lost at the gym last week.

Yesterday I left my step counter there.

Stay tuned to see what I lose during my next visit to the gym.

It will not be 2 lbs, I guarantee you that.

Monday, November 14

Back on the Road

I've booked a trip to Alabama for January as part of my all 50 states visited craziness.

I was startled and delighted to chat with a co-worker last week who has visited 49 out of 50, so I figured it was time to get back in the saddle again and pony across the country.

In choosing Northern Alabama I was swayed by 2 awesome prospective visits.

The first one is Muscle Shoals & Florence, home of the famous Sound Studio and the birthplace of W.C Handy.

The second is the chance to visit the home of Helen Keller.

Stay tuned, fans of R&B and blind people.

Sunday, November 13

One Way or Another. Please.

I started watching Mesrine last night, the two part (duology?) set of movies starring Vincent Cassel as the famous French criminal Jacques Mesrine.

I wish my French was good enough to watch without subtitles. Then again, I wish I could watch an Almodóvar movie in Spanish.

Although as a side note I watched a clip this week from Yugoslav director Dušan Makavejev featuring a cat sat on a woman's naked arse and that needed no subtitles.

Back to French movies. Aside from the obvious "they're speaking French", I feel you can usually spot a movie based on the pacing of the audio. There appears to be so much more silence. But maybe that's just the view of someone waiting for the next subtitle to appear. Perhaps you could plonk a little Jean-Pierre in front of a Michael Bay movie and he'd make the same stupid generalization?

Anyway, I started this post because of subtitles.

The first part of Mesrine is excellent, and although it requires concentration to follow subtitles for 90 minutes at the end of the movie I couldn't wait to watch Part 2.

4 descending notes on a tuba please.

The 2nd movie was dubbed. And dubbed by some extra from a British soap opera. How can you dub Vincent Cassel with some Bob Hoskins impersonator?

To make matters worse, the subtitles option is still available, but the words don't match the dub. They turned a modern classic into some 2nd rate version of The Sweeney.

Zut a-fucking-lors.

Saturday, November 12

Well intentioned stupidity

Delicacy required here ...

I was in a suburban town today where to commemorate Veteran's Day the locals have stuck large handwritten signs on every lamp-post. On each sign is a different name of a serviceman/woman killed in action since Memorial Day, along with their rank, company, and home state/country. Someone also added a flag of the state/country.

It's a great idea to remind us all that armed forces personnel are still being killed everyday.

But it also means that every driver in the town is reading a long handwritten sign every 100 yards instead of paying attention to the road.

If people were capable of following a narrative every 100 yards, while safely driving a vehicle then there would be books or magazine articles on every telegraph pole. But there isn't. Because it's stupid and dangerous.

I doubt the self-righteous defense of "I was reading the Veteran's Day signs" will cut it when you plead your case for running over a pedestrian.

I could have wrote little kiddie. But I showed restraint.

Tuesday, November 8

Profiling

I grew up in a predominantly white area. I'd say Christian, but let's be honest, despite the hundreds of old churches, the UK is as secular as it gets.

At about age 6, a group of kids from Pakistan arrived, and they became good friends throughout my schooldays. Consequently I had a passing knowledge of Ramadan, and a little bit of Muslim culture.

There were no Jewish kids where I grew up. And I never learned to spot a Jewish name. For example, I must have been in my twenties before I realized that Steven Spielberg was jewish. I then presumed Bruce Springsteen was Jewish, until I learned to spell his name correctly.

My therapist is Jewish (strange, I know). And when he's not helping me sort out that final 1% of perfection I crave, he will often remind me of people who are Jewish. Last week for no good reason we started to talk about Vidal Sassoon. He's a Jew you know.

At the weekend we attended a party, and sat next to great couple from Marblehead. "She's a lawyer, and I work in PR", said the husband as he introduced themselves as "The Bergensteins" (slightly changed for anonymity)

The next 2 hours were a fun filled time of good stories and, with the benefit of hindsight, verbal, visual, social and behavioral cues to their Jewishness.

I didn't spot one single cue. Finally they mentioned their son's Bar Mitzvah, and it all slipped into place like the end of The Usual Suspects.

Am I the only one?

I was watching some TV last night when Boston's favorite furniture seller/crack head ran one of his commercials.

You know the schtick "I'll beat anyone on price and I'll throw in an extra piece of shit you didn't know you needed."

Anyhow. This thing shows up. A fake fireplace and TV stand combo.

Awful.

Thursday, November 3

"Asses are here to stay, man"

Sir Mix-a-Lot
VH1, November 3, 2011

Saturday, October 29

Rated R for Sexiness and Strong Language

I think we can all universally agree that there's nothing more sexy than a jigsaw puzzle.

They've graced every magazine cover from Vogue to Big Jugs, from The Economist to Jigsaw Monthly.

Being an alpha male, I was unimpressed by my 5 year old niece finishing a 25 piece puzzle, so to demonstrate my might I undertook an epic 2,000 piece journey to The Cinqueterre in Italy.



2 months and 1,998 pieces later I've finished.

Of course I want to blame our Brazilian cleaners and their high suction vacuums. But looking under our coffee table I found tiny pieces of a toy my niece played with in August, so it's hard to imagine the latinas in their undersized clothes were selective in their desire to only fuck up my fun.

Tonight I'll break up my hard work and return our fancy-schmancy designer table back to it's proper use ... as a staging post for a bowl of fake lemons.

For the travel conscious, here's what the village of Manarola looks like without 2 pieces missing.


Thursday, October 27

Not tonight love

I was picking through some Spotify playlists tonight looking for some aural inspiration, when I saw a playlist named "Love Making".

Mmm, I thought, probably a bit of clichéd 70s soul but that's pretty much what I like, so I clicked View to see the playlist.



Kenny Fucking G? I challenge any man to get an erection while that shit is playing. I'd rather take a Silkwood Shower

You could play it at a Viagra testing factory and you'd just get a bunch of non-compliance reports in your in-box.

How could you make Kenny G any worse? Ah yes, add a light dusting of Michael Bolton. Holy crap who's making love to this (other than Michael Bolton ... you know he does).

Of course Kenny's brother Warren is a different story. "Regulate!"

Tuesday, October 25

I've just been overcome by the love of the Lord

Game Show cash available to any willing participant ....

Am dying of cancer in the hospital and the doctor told me i will be dead very soon as it is getting to a bad stage. what shall it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul. so i now decided to divide the part of this wealth,to contribute to the development of churches in Africa, America Asia,and Europe. i prayed over it. i am willing to donate the sum of 300,000usd, to the less privileged. please i want you to note that fund is lying in a bank and upon my instruction,my attorney, who presently is distributing relief materials , will file in an application for the transfer of the money in your name. lastly, i honestly pray that this money when transferred! will be used for the said purpose,because i have come to find out that wealth acquisition without Christ is vanity. may the grace of our lord Jesus the love of God and the fellowship of God be with you and your family. i await urgent reply......


sarah miller.

Monday, October 24

Oh, Mum!

Testing my ability to make a complete post without swearing, here's a photo of me and mum from my recent trip home.



This chronicles the last time I smiled when either one of my wonderful parents managed to master a piece of digital equipment.

I kind of freaked last week when Dad sent an e-mail from (Mum's) iPad saying that they had upgraded to the Cloud, and all seemed well.

Their confidence in electronic wizardry seems to know no bounds, and a few clicks during screen-sharing on iChat seemed to tidy everything up.

I guess I was 10 minutes into explaining Cloud computing to them when I realized that they are actually pretty cool computer users considering how late in life they started. They sync all kinds of stuff in Drop Box, do all their banking on-line, and have fully digitized music, movie and photo libraries.

If only they could retouch my squinting eyes. Maybe I'll get them a Photoshop tutorial for Christmas.

Tuesday, October 18

The shit people do to their cars

Everyday I walk past this car in the parking lot.

She (just a guess) appears to have taken the dog from a giant Monopoly set, spray painted it gold, and glued it to the hood of her shitty car.

I suspect there is a doggie day-care center in the building next door. My guess is based on seeing poodle haired women with poodles walking into the building.

From my days of living in London I recall African guys who put tissue boxes that look like gold crowns in their rear windows. They almost exclusively would drive a Mercedes.

Meanwhile last week I borrowed Anne's brand new VW. She appears to have filled it with cat hair.

Of course my Audi is a museum to candy wrappers.

Monday, October 17

Be to the Lux

A week late but ... 2 days in Benelux, but I'm only visiting Be and Lux. No time for Ne.

A sleepy journey from London was brought into focus when the train stopped at the entrance of the Channel Tunnel because of a power failure. No worries I thought, time to bring out the iPhone and burn up some $Dollars on my International 3G usage.

And there it was. Steve Jobs had died. Tragic that I discovered this news using one of his greatest devices. I've used Macintosh computers since 1987, so the guy had a pretty big impact on my life.

Belgium may be the Manchester of mainland Europe - it's always raining here. I headed to the Pantone Hotel. Once more they have excelled themselves. I'm in a room with this for toilet roll.

On Friday I headed for Luxembourg. Because why not? Brussels has fast trains to everywhere, except it's neighbor to the south. It's quicker to drive, but instead I picked up a big bag of Maltesers cranked up the tunes and sat back for 3 hours of rolling Wallonia countryside.

I've come to realize that much of my geographical knowledge of Europe is based on knowing the football teams of each country. I reached Namur, a nice looking town overlooking a wide river, and I had to research that their lower division team is Union Royale Namur.

Next I passed a Rochefort, which has nothing to do with the smelly cheese. Excitement over, I entered Luxembourg.

What an awesome place. The old city of Luxembourg is perched high atop precipitous cliffs that drop into the narrow valleys of the Alzette and Pétrusse rivers. In the valleys stand a picturesque old town. On the other side of the narrow valley is the modern day town and the banking and Euro parliament buildings.

If you have a hard time visualizing this, here's a cock shaped drawing to help.



I took a bus tour and walked the streets and had a swell old time communicating in my perfect French.

On the ride home the train filled up with kids traveling home after school. It seemed to me that some of them took 50 mile journeys. Sat across from me was a guy who did not have an iPod. Instead he pulled out his cumbersome 10 year old laptop. Then he hooked up a hard drive of equal size (presumably containing his music files), and finally plugged in a big old pair of headphones. He took up the whole table. But he was a bit rough looking so I didn't kick up a fuss. International relations are an ongoing specialty ...

Monday, October 10

Why I love Björk

The Guardian have been asking for questions all week from readers for Björk in view of the release of her new record Biophilia.

Lots of good questions about her music, inspiration and of course Iceland. Björk is always down to earth and answers all the questions with good humor and insight.

But this was the best exchange

perfidy22 asks
My 2003 Saab 9-3 pulls to the right under heavy braking. I've had the tyres, tracking and steering checked and they look fine ... but it still happens. What do you suggest?

Björk replies
Bicycle ...


Friday, October 7

Get a load of this guy

Flicking through channels in the Belgian hotel last night I hit a music channel. For anyone under 20 ... a music channel is a channel that plays music, not a channel that shows reality TV about twats.

It appeared to be Slow Jamz hour, with a nice mix of older R&B, but presumably because this was a Belgian channel there was also some French tat thrown in.

This video caught my attention in the first 10 seconds.



The gallic Robert Wagner is Alain Delon. And he must turn the ladies to a quivering mess. A quick browse on Wikipedia reveals he nows lives in Switzerland and counts Phil Collins as one of his jet-set friends.

And (paraphrasing a Ramones funeral) as Anne said upon hearing Steve Jobs had died, "Why couldn't it have been Phil Collins?"

Also, while we are in What's going on? mode. A few songs later this came on. Bar de l'hôtel by Raphael appears to feature a woman being abducted by male models dressed as hi-tech welders.

Tuesday, October 4

An odd couple

Wakefield is the birthplace of 2 of the most influential sculptors of the last 100 years. Yet bizarrely during the few years I studied Design here, Sir Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth were never mentioned.

Today I visited my hometown's minimalist museum featuring Hepworth's work. The space is incredible. It reminded me of the Bauhaus museum in Berlin, but with fewer chain-smoking, wire-framed glasses wearing tosspots.

The galleries were filled with schoolkids with sketch-books, seniors with puzzled faces, and pseuds with stroked chins. As is the norm in these situations the Gift Shop is filled with fantastically buyable yet ultimately futile items. I bought several of them.

Well done Wakefield. Classy museum.



I couldn't help but notice one of the schoolteachers taking a class around was dressed pretty sexily considering her vocation. As I moved closer (purely for observational reasons) I realised she'd been dusted with douchiness.

"I'm not in the habit of repeating myself .." she started a twatty call to action for the kids.

Sadly, 20 seconds later she started another phrase with "I'm not in the habit of repeating myself ..". Moot.

Monday, October 3

Units

I met up with old friends Sally and Paul on Sunday.

We met at 1pm and I told my dad I'd give him a call in a few hours to arrange pick up from the local train station.

Just before midnight I called home to say I'd be crashing at Sally's house.

Finally went to bed at 2.30am, only for my alarm to start off before 7am.

I just had a hot bumpy train ride home with a hungover head and fizzing stomach. Sally and Paul both had a day at work. I had a sleep.

Estimated units of alcohol. 27.



On my last 3 trips home I've met up with old friends, and I don't think I've left Park Row in Leeds on any of them.

Friday, September 30

Travellin' with the blues

I set off for London today with a bit of a sniffy nose. Not to worry I thought as I hit the Hudson News in the airport lounge, I'll get some tissues. They had no tissues.They did have a box of 50 envelopes.

I detest Hudson News, they sell niche magazines for Boston florists, living in Miami guides and African-American tattoo fans, but they cannot stock a title about movies, or The Economist. Douchebags.

Waiting for the plane a group of 20-somethings sat behind me, extolling the virtues of their various electronic devices and giving out handy yet 100% incorrect tips for traveling through security. "I take out my Digital Camera. They always want to see that".

Then they moved on to the the beauty of Groupon, "You can like, save 100s of, like dollars, by using this thing. I click on the links on Facebook. It's, like, awesome"

Next up, they discussed their friend who it appears is getting married in India next month. "She wears these, like, sari things, which are awesome. Like in that Slumdog Billionaire (sic) movie".

Elsewhere, Yanks with fanny-packs and gleaming white sneakers, mingled with balding middle-aged Brits in their distressed SuperDry shirts and Boxfresh jeans. Neither realising what twattish targets they look in other countries.

The middle-aged woman next to me looked nutty. And when she pulled out her book by televangelist Joel Osteen I felt suitably vindicated for my assessment.

Once on the plane, life settled. I realised I was watching the same move on my iPad that was playing on the in-flight screens.

At passport control I had a few choice words with an American woman behind me who seemed to think it was her job to control the line. 'Neurotic logic' was my best phrase in that conversation.

Finally I hit my £29 a night Travelodge room. You can imagine how good that was ...

Thursday, September 29

Nutty nutjobs

Our new office is in a big flashy glass building in a business park of the future. It's also next to a medical facility for people with seriously shitty health issues.

The other day I saw a grizzled 50 something woman with a cigarette hanging from her mouth, rushing her 80 something mother into the facility. The mum looked like she had mobility and mental health problems. Her compassionate daughter dealt with the problem with this bon mot "For fuck's sake mom, hurry up I need to piss".

Last night I went to see a movie, and as I walked to the theater, a guy with his trunk open said, "Hey could you help me". Being a well-rounded individual I immediately presumed this was a con where I end up in said trunk as a prelude to being gang-raped and chopped into bite size pieces.

Turns out I was wrong.

The guy had an electronic mobility cart that he needed help breaking down into pieces and loading into his car. I moved onto my next neurosis ... I get some kind of mechanical dyslexia when faced with machinery.

Turns out I was wrong. Again. I broke that baby down like a pro. What an adult I've become.

Homeward bound

Tomorrow, I'm heading back to England for the first time in almost a year.

Looking forward to seeing my family, drinking a few good beers, and catching up with 2 former co-workers.

Then, I'm off on another pointless jaunt to Europe. This time I'm heading to Luxembourg. Because I've never been before!

Let the annoying observations begin.

Thursday, September 22

Manly Pursuits

I swapped vehicles with my colleague Todd last night. He got to drive my fast German automobile, while I got to ride his pick-up truck.

I almost failed to get in the damn thing. Essentially I threw my ass up in the air to reach the elevated seat and almost missed.

Once in, I forgot to fasten my seatbelt for the whole ride home. Grrrrrrr. But I rolled the window down, stuck my arm out, and put some Springsteen on my iPod for the drive home. I'm so blue collar.



Maintaining the blue-collar theme this morning I dressed in J. Crew. Because when hauling furniture into the back of a truck nothing is as manly as J. Crew.

The iPod receiver wasn't working so I listened to Sports Radio. People, actually men, were complaining about the Red Sox.

Thankfully I'm back in my air-conditioned private office surrounded by my executive toys, because sadly, most CEOs are men too. I'm in the mood for some white-collar crime (thanks to the dry cleaners who wash, iron and starch my white shirts).

Tuesday, September 20

Dialysis expert?

Cambridge Hospitals appear to be taking the piss.

And also shitting me.

In fact they're grabbing a big tumbler and with the aid of a rusty funnel, and a crazy-straw they are force feeding me a mouth full of bodily secretions.

As I enter my 14th month of pain in the country with the World's Greatest Healthcare™ I allowed myself to get excited when last week my new doctor found a neuromuscular specialist to look at my forearm problem.

A week later (don't get me started) the referral manager called me today to let me know when my appointment is.

November 23 at 4pm.

In more than 2 fucking months time?

Worse still it's the day before Thanksgiving so I'm sure she'll want to bunk off to go pick up her frozen turkey.

Sunday, September 18

Worst job in show business

So each Sunday during the football season, Anne and I plonk ourselves down in front of the telly and watch something called Red Zone.

Red Zone runs from 1pm to 7.30pm, and zips between the 14 live games played on a Sunday afternoon. Unusually for American TV it has no commercial breaks, and in essence is 6 and a half hours of unadulterated action.

The show is presented by Scott Hanson, who links between the games, sets up the action and during the few moments when there is nothing happening, recaps some of the fantasy football figures for the day.

My reason for mentioning all of this? I don't think he has time to go for a piss for the duration of the show. Anne agrees with me, and thinks he has a big bucket under his desk. When the moment is right, he whips his chap out and empties into the bucket, while seamlessly recounting stats about the Bucs secondary unit.

Consequently, someone must be the piss-bucket emptier. And that cannot be fun.

For all I know he might have been whizzing while this photo was being snapped.

Friday, September 16

Secrets of my trade

I'm no branding expert. Oh wait, I am.

There's nothing Anne likes more than walking around a supermarket with me as I pose rhetorical questions such as, "Darling, I know what you're thinking, is this a hexachrome carton? Or did they use combination screening to split the process from the spot color?"

She loves it. Just ask her. Go on. Ask her. Our anniversary dinner when I explained ink density variables in gravure printing was a captivating tour de force. And romantic.

Well the other day she went to the store without me, and she managed to buy a somewhat pretentious beer without her pretentious husband AND select the greatest branding EVER.

And YES, I've started using CAPS for impact. Much better than !!!, or emoticons, or shit like OMG.

I fancy this might be our flighty local liquor store rather than the branding geniuses at Grolsch Towers, but really I love what they've done here.

A recycled non-virgin-board with a matt varnish finish, and a simple script in black to create background and foreground contrast. The primary communication just pops off the page and yet the title has room to breathe without bombarding the consumer with secondary messaging.



They pay me for this shit?

Moving Day

It's time to move my business to a new location today. Boy has this been a 4 month pain in the ass to plan.

Proving I can pretty much complain about anything, when we signed the lease the new space was ideal. Then what happens? We only go and virtually double the size of our business. Ugh.

So today with the help of a shoehorn we move our stuff, staff, samples, trinkets, and NERF guns into the new office.

It also marks the last day of sharing space with the company that we split from. They're a good bunch of people, and they are moving too. This week they took down the black plastic letters of their company name.

And the whole office went anagram crazy!

Most were fairly vanilla, until 'in the ass' appeared yesterday.

By day end we had this one.



Needless to say the office is filled with middle-aged men who still have the brain of a teenager ... myself included.

Thursday, September 8

Monkey meet Expert

Tonight it all kicks off again.

Football baby!!!!

For my third year of Fantasy Football I no longer consider myself a monkey, and will therefore probably second and third guess myself into mid-table mediocrity.

Oh for those fearless days of not knowing the difference between Bernard Manning and Peyton Manning, and thinking there was only one black guy in the NFL with a last name of Johnson.

This year I have 3 Fantasy teams, and in one league I'm up against the Mrs, and her quick fingered trades. But mostly I want to beat any team that is owned by a douche who starts his (always a he) team with Da. Da Browns, Da Bears, Da Patriots et al.

Let the battle commence. And Go Clay!

Wednesday, September 7

Good vs Evil



CVS have stopped selling Liquorice Allsorts. They were the last retailer in my area to sell them.

In one way this is good. It stops be buying a 1lb bag and stuffing them all down my gob into my fat belly.

Then again, can't an ex-pat have one guilty pleasure in life? It's not like there's a Scotch Egg and Cornish Pasty shop on the corner of every street in Boston. Instead there's a fucking Dunkin' Donuts and I hate donuts.

Tuesday, September 6

Wonderful World of Retail

I've been doing too much shopping recently.

Overheard in CVS
And the lucky thing was I saw my friend Wolf there, so I got to see him in the jousting competition.

Staples
Shelf Stacker "Are you looking for something in particular?"
Me "My wife"

Overheard in Container Store
Lindsay come here and look at these tiny coat hooks
I think they're for keys?

Overheard in Ikea
Stace, we need hangers for fuck's sake. We need to hang stuff.
and later
We don't need bowls. I don't eat anything in a bowl.

Club Monaco
Snooty sales guy "Are you looking for something special?"
Me "No, that's why I'm in your store"

Overheard in Target
Do you guys carry the Equate brand?

IHOP
Today there was a fatal AK-47 shooting spree in Nevada at an International House of Pancakes. I just turned the TV on for background noise and there's been an ad for IHOP during each commercial break.

Walgreens
Finally, I was in the pharmacy today, and I asked where I could find First Aid Kits.
Walgreens associate "We don't sell them".

Saturday, September 3

That's a crock, monsieur

I had a bit of a senior moment yesterday.

I'd driven down to Chestnut Hill to walk through the Container Store, because I have shit that needs containing.

Post-purchase I trundled my stuff to the car, filled the trunk and as the back went down I realized that I had left my keys in there.

Anne came to the rescue, but not at emergency speed, so I found myself with 2 hours to fill. Incredibly there is a cinema next to the store, but they only had the Smurf movie, and The Help. I love black and blue people, but not enough to watch a dreary movie about either, so I went and found a place to eat instead.

I spotted a French restaurant. It was technically in a strip mall, but at least it's a Chestnut Hill strip mall. A quick once over the menu and I spotted croque monsieur so I went in.

Why doesn't everyone sell croque monsieurs (or madames for that matter)? They're not healthy, easy to make and delicious, in other words right in the middle of the American dining sweet spot.

Once inside, I realized I'd made my 2nd mistake. The CM was on the lunch menu. Zut alors!

So I ate badly cooked French food alone on a Friday night, as I read an old copy of Newsweek.

Tuesday, August 30

Morning, welcome to 7-11 TV

For reasons best left unexplained I found myself grabbing coffee in the 7-11 today.

The whole transaction probably took a few minutes. You have to select a cup size, then a flavor of coffee, then you realize they have no skimmed milk, then you go searching for the blue fake sugar, a stirry thing, then a lid.

During this multiple choice escapade, the TV above my head repeated the title of post ... every 3 seconds.

I asked the guy at checkout if it annoyed him. "No, I tune it out" was his reply.

Your customers don't.

Monday, August 29

Ker-ching

We dropped my sister and niece off at the airport tonight. The expected tears rolled. As I got home, a feisty large woman of color was knocking on our door. She had come to interview me for a survey. It was just the tonic!

I got to run through 100 cards featuring magazine titles. I picked out over 50 that I had read in the last 6 months. Scarlett had to ask me about each one.

After a 90 minute interview she gave me a 110 page booklet outlining all of the consumer choices we make each month. I'm filling it in. I've already sharpened my pencil twice.

I love this shit. And they're paying me.

Sweet.

Sunday, August 28

Hurricane Nonsense

It's bad enough that my mum has to share a name with this latest storm front. At least in 2005 Hurricane Katrina assigned Katrina and the Waves to the pop-music dump-bin.

The Weather Channel continue to be the pornographers of bad weather. The tangible glee with which they have built up this storm is in poor taste. As the category number goes down, they back shift to pedal floods and power outages for their viewers' vicarious titillation. And it is vicarious, because if you are watching the Weather Channel then you have both electricity and basic cable ... necessities in these troubled times.

The guy at Radio Shack yesterday was pushing flashlights like a dope dealer on the Haight. Meanwhile I have a summer cold, so I'm coughing and spluttering as the rain comes down.

In other news I got to play with a kitten yesterday. Which was very nice!

Thursday, August 25

Holidays must end as you know

Breakfast in P-Town!! A grilled muffin and hot chocolate for Grace while the rest of us ate healthy unhealthy food. The toast might be multi-grain, but it's still scooping up an omelet.

Back at the cottage I made an executive decision. Let's go home. I missed my bed, and I think we were all 'beached out'.

But first we needed to cross a few things off of our 'to do' list.

Buy sentimental tat. Check.
Pay $4.50 for 10 mins on a trampoline. Check.
Play mini-golf. Check. Richard to win? Uncheck!

After a fucking crazy lunch in a new-age Jewish sandwich shop with no windows we headed for a Go-carting place just off of the Cape.

10 mins later we were done. Pifffff.

Back home we threw Grace in a shopping cart at Shaw's, bought (and ate) ice cream.

Wednesday, August 24

Arrrgghhh Kelly

What's a pirate's favorite singer?

The following conversation has never happened

Parent "What occupation do you hope to follow?"
Teenager "A children's entertainer"

Thus my skepticism of anyone who gets paid to make children laugh is formed. And you can double down when they wear make up and a silly wig.

Today we headed for Hyannis so that Grace could aboard a pirate's shp. But first we stopped in Chatham to buy Taffy and observe how the rich and snooty live.

In the afternoon while Grace was being sold a plastic sword for $4, Anne and I slipped off for a quick adult beverage. Entering the bar we saw but one guy with ponytail and silk shirt propping up one end. We sat at the other end. He was chatty ....

I ended up loving this guy. He had that smarmy confidence that money, power, and whisky brings, and he looked like the bad guy from Kindergarten Cop ... 20 years on, with a bit of modern day Mickey Rourke thrown in.

He asked a few choice facts about the 2 of us, and after initially calling me Jim, settled on calling me 'English'. Anne was tagged with the name 'Red', after the guy ran his hand through her not red hair.

Chatting about the crumbier parts of Cleveland he said, "I knew a broa ... lady from that part of town once".

God knows how he got his property in Manhattan, and the largest and prettiest lot of land on the Cape, but he has 6 kids that he admits to, and had taken to giving sage advice to the young and busty bartender who wobbled between eye-rolling and charmed.

I think Grace had a Hot Dog tonight.

Tuesday, August 23

Chewsday

Today began with Auntie Anne and Uncle Richard exposing Grace to the LGBT wonderland of P-Town. Being a cool kid she took it in her stride, in fact in a coffee shop of Adonisi (which I'm making up as the plural of Adonis), she didn't worry about the guys making out beside us. Instead she noticed they were wearing their caps back to front and promptly spun hers around too.

We also bought a joke book, so all morning was "Knock Knock" this, and "Why did the [blank] cross the road", that.

This afternoon all of the ladies in our party headed for the ocean and a swim. I stayed by the house in my water wings and snorkel, during which time I felt the earthquake that terrified the East Coast.



For dinner we went south so that Grace could have her 14th (and as it turned out 15th) Hot Dog of the trip.

Every time she says Hot Dog, she recites a line from a Disney show "Hot Dog, Hot Dog, Hot Diggity Dog". Tonight Hot Dog 14 rolled out of the bun and onto the floor. As mum went for #15, I suggested Grace say "That's a bummer" on mum's return. "No, that'll make her angry", was Grace's terse reply. Smart kid.

Monday, August 22

Burn Baby Burn

After the usual breakfast of 'whatever snacks I find in the kitchen', we headed for a great big pond.

A pedal boat for Lorraine and Grace, and a kayak for Anne and I. Halfway thru' we did a switch and Grace joined me in the kayak. At the far side of the lake, with the wind against, my arms sort of gave out, around the same time the knees of my missus and sister gave out too.

We headed for Wellfleet for lunch, and among the plethora of shitty pottery shops and artisan hollows we found a good lunch and some more ice cream. Attached to the ice cream place was a chocolate shop with a small side business in passive aggressive signs. The c behind the counter, yes c, was a prissy little fuck who caught the ire of Anne, when Anne asked if there were any public toilets in the area. Being grown up and accompanying a child I offered to go fart in the store upon our return.

We then hit another beach. I built a kick ass sandcastle only for Grace to delicately 'fucking destroy it' with her shovel. We headed back to our towels for a game of catch only to find the beach ball had blown away. Kind of like the Wilson moment in Cast Away but without a scruffy Tom Hanks but with much more gravitas. We switched to frisbee. The wind blew the disc into the gut of a small child playing nearby, so we stopped with that too.

I went for a walk and watched as my sis and niece climbed the great big sand dune that led back up to the parking lot. This thing must have been a 100ft high. Talk about cardio.

It had been hours since we bought anything, so we went T-Shirt, ball and deck-chair shopping, before heading back to the cottage for more catch. Our neighbors on the left appear to have spawned 4 teenage girls. They are smoking. Cigarettes.

Our neighbors to the right comprise of a skinny-ish woman with a mis-matched schlubby husband and 2 well behaved kids, and the next one along is a couple with a kid who appears to have a learning disability. He is the one I've spoken to the most so far this holiday.

Tonight we watched old comedies again, and I appear to have made it until 9.30 before hitting the bed. Rock and Roll.

Oh, and I burned myself to a crisp today.

Sunday, August 21

Someone didn't have ice cream today

Well I didn't have ice cream yet.

We saw a dead ray this morning! Freaked me out a bit, but Grace took it in her stride

Today we went to the beach, but first we bought a kite and some taffy. We needed neither for the beach, but it's important to plan ahead.

The beach was awesome. Sandcastles, wave jumping and playing catch. I burnt my feet, but I built a pretty splendid sandcastle.

For lunch - grilled sandwiches and fries. Afterwards everyone but me had ice cream, because I'm a model of restraint.

Back at the cottage I had a nap ... like an old man in a nursing home. Then I showed Grace how to fly a kite. Goddamn if she wasn't better than me at it. She's also beating me 10-1 at Guess Who.

Because I saved space in my stomach, I was able to eat a cupcake, some taffy, some fruit gummy shit that Grace eats, plus dinner.

Dinner was BBQ'd hot dogs and hamburgers. Being calorie conscious and an idiot, I paper-toweled off all of the fat on the burgers. Everyone will thank me next week when they hit the scale but for now we had to eat shoe leather.

We also took Grace to the liquor store. Start them young I say.

Tonight we went shell hunting again, and now it's Ice Age on the TV until the kid falls asleep (unless we nod off first).

Another great day!

Saturday, August 20

Are we there yet?

Today's the day that Auntie Anne joins the party. We're off to the Cape for an old-fashioned beach holiday.

Sandcastles, kites, ice cream and shell collecting are on the agenda. We packed Anne's brand new car to the roof with all kinds of stuff and off to North Truro we go.

Tonight at the Stop & Shop in Provincetown we packed our cart with unhealthy food, mingled with suntanned old queens, fraught vacationers, and pale vaguely angry lesbians.

Back at our beach front cottage we ate ice cream and potato chips before falling asleep to the sound of the ocean 20 feet away.



Tomorrow I promised Grace we'd buy her a kite 'first thing'. I've a feeling this will come back to haunt me.

Friday, August 19

TGI Friday

Today we hit the Museum of Science. Plenty of shrieks of fun and laughter, and some tears.

I think everyone who visits the museum, enjoys the musical stairway. I told Grace that her daddy will build something similar into their stairs at home. Sorry Chas.

This is not Grace, but you get the idea ...



Next we went to the Planetarium to see the 180° dome roofed presentation of planets outside of our solar system. Horrific! Music, fiery gas and volcanos combined to freak the shit out of Grace.

As a side-note I'm impressed how the Museum has updated all of it's exhibits to push Pluto off of the Solar System listings.

Much scarier is the dinosaur movie at the iMax. Guess what? Grace loved it. Lorraine and I had to look away a few times ....

A rainy walk home was made all the happier with a trip to Dunkin' Donuts. Grace has spotted that there are thousands of these damned places spotted all over our State.

Thursday, August 18

Uncle Jeff

Jeff and Aaron came over tonight. We ate 5 pizzas and drank beer.

Grace more than held her own at the dinner table (probably the 3 Rolling Rock she downed?) It was cool beans to watch a five year old from England captivate the table.

Jeff brought a basket of goodies for Grace, so after dinner Jeff and Grace went onto our balcony and had a bubble blowing competition. When I went out to check on them, I discovered Jeff found it easier to adopt a Dick Van Dyke English accent to communicate with Grace. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

Jeff and Aaron have now met all of my family (they met mum and dad in May). The common factor is pizza and booze. Fantastic.

The next morning I asked Grace if she had a good time, and she said she really liked Jeff and Aaron. Cute.

What's a shih tzu?

A zoo with no animals, like the one we visited today. Grace continues to humorously mystify me. She was totally unimpressed by massive black bears literally a sheet of hardened plastic away from her, but she could hang out in a gift shop that sells fudge for hours. Of course as an adult, I know that BOTH are worthy of my attention.

Meerkats, monkeys (not cheeky), otters and cougars (feline variety) were highlights.

A boring owl, a sad and lonely kookaburra, and stinky bats were low-lights. As were grouchy moms with precious kids called Tarquin.

Being a marketing professional, I kept 'teasing' the rest of the day. Grace swung every 15 minutes from excited to terrified at the prospect of kayaking.

After a noisy lunch at the 99 where kids eat for free and parents load up on liquor, we hit the lake.

Kayaking was a hit. Grace and I shared a kayak while my sister donned a life-vest to photo-journal our aquatic excellence.

"Uncle Richard, can we do this for hours?", Grace asked.

"Yes", I replied as my upper arms burned.

20 minutes later I lied to a child and told her we'd been out here for 2 hours. She fell for it. Sucker!

Wednesday, August 17

Fun. Fun. Fun.

Dropped my sis and niece off at the Water Park today. I went into work and 2 hours later Lorraine texted me to say she'd eaten a wasp. Ugh.



On the drive home to make my poor sister happy we stopped at the 'English' shop and bought Curly-Wurlys, Blackjacks, Yorkies and Treacle Toffee. Yum.

Tuesday, August 16

Not what I expected

Children's Museum in Boston.

I was hoping for kids in formaldehyde behind glass. Turns out it's a museum FOR children.

It's $12 to get in whether you're a kid or an adult. My sister pointed out that really adults should pay less, because they don't use the jungle gym, climbing frames or Wizard of Oz displays.

I countered with au contraire. Looks like those French lessons are paying off. A pedophile would get value for money here. I also pondered if an adult would be allowed in on his own?
"One adult for the Children's Museum please"
"What's that? You're a member?"

Anyhoo. They have this massive carpeted chute of tunnels and cargo nets that your kid could get lost in for hours, plus hundreds of other things that children can just jump on. As Grace ran around like a demented chicken with a sugar rush, my sister and I nostalgically remembered our childhood day trips to Withernsea, which I hope has fallen into the North Sea due to coastal erosion.

Monday, August 15

First Day of Summer

My sister last visited me in the Summer of 2000. It rained like a bastard for 2 weeks. Yesterday she arrived during the first day of rain we've had in about 4 weeks.

Not to worry. Because this time she came armed and loaded with my 5 year old niece, Grace.

Today we all got up at silly o-clock, Lorraine and Grace because of jet-lag, and Anne and I, well because we always do.

After Anne left for work the rest of us headed to the supermarket. Our food is just like the UK's. Only by law we stick about 7 different bursts on all of our packaging with health and value claims. Of course it's not as healthy as the food in the UK, but so what? Fuck those minimalist designs, we've got space to fill.

Next stop was Target. We bought Grace a big bouncy ball and one of those 'catch the ball' in the plastic shuttlecock devices.

We had all of this done before 9am. Then we headed for the Aquarium. Penguins, seals, sharks and turtles, and a memorable ham sandwich for Grace. Me and my sis just tried to not get annoyed at pesky Yank kids.

And then home for an afternoon of Pixar movies and cookies, laid out on a blanket with a pile of cushions for support.

Overall a pretty good day. Tomorrow we're off to the Children's Museum!

Wednesday, August 10

Tales of the Expected

My set of Facebook friends are relatively blowhard free, but one has the misfortune of being linked to this guy.

Speaking of the riots in England, The Blowhard writes,

I've always been Proud of My Country, but I'm not Proud Tonight. I'm Embarrassed, What's Going on?. Is it a Money thing? a lack of Education?, Morals?, Discipline?, Do their Parents give a Toss?. I never behaved like these Feral Numptys, because I was raised to know what is Right and Wrong!. So Sad, Great Britain is going down the Toilet!. It worries me what England has to offer my Beautiful Son. If I was under 40 I'd be Off!. Australia maybe?.

I hope the kid grows up with a sense of right and wrong, but I also hope he learns some basic rules of grammar.

-----

Meanwhile, the Libyan foreign ministry spokesman Khalid Ka'im made me smile with this.

Libya calls on world governments to take action over the unrest in the UK. David Cameron has lost legitimacy and 'must go'. Libya demands that the international community not stand with arms folded in the face of this gross aggression against the rights of the British people, who are demanding its right to rule its country.

It's a good take on events isn't it? When civil unrest hits the Middle East, it's the power of youth (and Twitter) demanding the toppling of old-fashioned government, and their police-backed states. When it happens in the UK? Well it's kind of the opposite.

Also nice to see the Libyan spokesman using 'dick quotes'.

Tuesday, August 9

What's that behind you Richard?

Oh, those are my best years.

I've switched desks at work again, as I often do, and I'm sat near our new junior designer. I asked her when she was born. 1989 was her answer.

I started my professional life in this industry on August 9th 1988.

And another small part of me dies ....

Monday, August 8

Crouch End

As London erupts in spontaneous riots I notice that my old neighbourhood of Crouch End is doing OK. I think the most outraged they'd get would be if the price of a latte went up, or if the local Budgens ran out of free-range eggs.

In the words of a comedy Scouser, "Just calm down everybody."

Sunday, August 7

Re-hashing content

Following on from my birthday post of yesterday, I dug out my blog post for the first time we went to Radius back in August of 2007. If anything it proves I was a better writer in my 30s ....

Went to Radius during restaurant week. No clue why, considering dinner for two ended up costing approx. $180 more than it should do during the aforementioned restaurant week.

Love their set up. You walk in and the maitre d is the gatekeeper to the restaurant. If she deems you worthy she opens a gate for you to enter the 'Kingdom of Radius'.

We get in!

Shuffle to our table and a few minutes later our extraordinarily tall dark and handsome waiter shows up ... with a reserve waitress stood behind him.

Knowing nothing about posh restaurant etiquette Anne and I spend the night supposing she is essentially his bitch. He asks what we want and she scurries off and writes it down. Survey says "Ugh Oh". I'm told she was probably in training. Ah well. Much prefer my option. A master waiter and a pimp.

This all happened a few weeks ago so forgive me if I don't remember the food details. During the time we were ordering, a train nearly hit us. The figurative wreckage ended up on the table next to us.

Saving the best for last I'll start with the guy. Badly cut but vaguely expensive suit (come on, if you're going to wear suits, just buy a few expensive ones and have them tailored to fit), the frames of his glasses looked a little headmistress-like to me, but also said "I like coke". Finished it off with a finely trimmed goatee.

Let's cut to the chase, the chick-ee-dee accompanying him had freakish breasts. Not 2 guys at a bar saying "check those out" breasts, but the kind that even my demur and proper wife said "Holy Jesus Christ those are massive tits". Of course she chose to reign them in with a bra 8 sizes too small and an ill-fitting spaghetti strap bingo* dress

* From the start of an English game of bingo, when the caller says "Eyes down and look in".

The waiter asked the 'lady' what she wanted to drink and the guy chimes in "We'll have Champagne". With few exceptions this is a douche move. He then requested a bottle of red for their main course. After the waiter and his white slave moved away, the guy tells his lady friend that Bordeaux is a place in France famous for its wine. Wow, we're sat next to a sommelier!

We had an amuse bouche, as a welcome from the chef. We felt special until we realized everyone got one.

Before our apps came out, the bread guy rolled into town. Talk about quick on the draw, the food wasn't even at my esophagus and there was another roll on the plate.

I started with rabbit. Inspired by Anne's course at Rendezvous. It was delicious until a day later when I found myself in the Liberty Tree mall pet shop looking at cute bunnies.

Anne began with warm foie gras. Don't know exactly what it is, but she was in a happy place while eating it, so must have been good.

I had filet mignon. Usually I order steak when I can find nothing else on the menu, but I was in the mood. Anne teased me because I ordered the meat on the rare side. I prefer well done, but I think when you are in anything higher than Fuddruckers it is offensive to the chef to order it too well done. That's me ... sensitive to the needs of the chef.

Anne ordered the $30 vegetable plate. I think we were both curious just how much veg you get for 30 big ones. It was cool, lots of varied veggies prepared in an artistic manner.

Meanwhile next door, we discovered that he was some kind of combination doctor/weapons expert, and she was not. They spoke as if it was a first or second date, and once in a while held hands across the table. She periodically giggled at the right spots in his conversation and all was going well until she blathered out how much she wanted kids, and a stoney uncomfortable silence ensued.

Not surprisingly the table on the other side was dysfunctional too. The woman ordered a bottle of wine but added "Although one of us has to drive home". The waiter (when not whipping the shackled wench behind him) suggested they order just a half bottle, at which the woman replied "Yes, and then we can order another half bottle later".

I turned to my darling wife and said "She's just effing stupid". As if to further my elucidate point wino woman spent the next 30 minutes reading the wine list like it was some James Ellroy page turner.

We had dessert. Because why the hell not?

Anne ordered a cookie platter - the menu stated it was 'for one'. After the previously small haute cuisine portions she was suddenly faced with a platter that would not be out of place at an Italian wedding. Six cookies! Hey, six cookies are great at night when you are under a blanket watching the tube with a glass of milk, but shoveling down six cookies in a fancy restaurant is a bit much. So I finished them for her. After my cheese platter was taken away. Note to all: The Greeks makes sub-standard cheese.

Over at the first date table, the guy disappeared for 10 mins. I presumed 'coke run' but apparently his credit card did not work. It got to the stage where I nearly asked the circus freak if she was OK. I thought he had done a runner.

All in all a great night. A full belly and some great people watching.

Saturday, August 6

10 into 4 goes ... pff whatever

I accompanied my gorgeous wife to Radius last night. The event was my birthday, and the plan was to eat rich, well prepared food. We managed to execute our plan.

They have a 7 course tasting menu, but we thought that to be a little gauche, so instead we opted for the 4 course tasting menu.

Here's what I had,

An Amuse Bouche of Crispy Citric Salad (thanks again Top Chef)
An Orange and Mango Soda Shot
• A Water Melon Salad
- Apparently, all of these were just lead ins, to the main event

Ginger Poached Muscovy Duck with spicy coconut caramel, jicama, curried cashews, and grilled scallion compote 

• Pan Seared Cod with soft brandade, favas, wild mushrooms, and a red wine reduction

• Slow Roasted Rib Eye with robuchon potatoes, haricots verts, pearl onions, and a red wine sauce


Blue Cheese interlude (no musical accompaniment, but a thick glass of port)
A Cherry smoothie - which apparently was just a palette cleanser

Pilon de Chocolat; bittersweet chocolate cone filled with ganache, peanuts, fenugreek ice cream, raisins, caramel

• A bijou platter of almond cookies, profiteroles, and cubed jelly fruits. To share ....

Wow. We also had 5 (6 counting the port) wine pairings ... and about 4 pieces of Sourdough Bread.

Not sure what I was more of - full or drunk. Either way, a top night of gastronomical delight!

Along the way I coined my new catchphrase "Ganache is better than Panache", and Anne's bon mot was "There's too much new", I think she was referring to books, but she decided it was relevant to all walks of life and culture.

I married a philosopher.

Friday, August 5

Welcome to America

We're pretty lucky over here in America-land to get movies and groovy i-devices before the rest of the world, but we're bringing up the rear with the music streaming.

We finally got Spotify recently and I just got round to tinkering about with it, and I see what the big deal is. Now I get to share my shitty playlists with people I don't know!

Thursday, August 4

Erm ... thanks?

I received a birthday card from my local councillor. I'm not affiliated to a party, and I've no recollection of whether I voted for him. Infact I don't even know if Leland is a him?

Monday, August 1

Yorkshire Day!!

Today is Yorkshire Day - to promote the historic English county of my birth!

Introduced in 1975, in Beverley, as a protest against Local Government re-organisation. Beverley is the East Yorkshire town that inspired the name of Beverly, Massachusetts, where I work.

The date alludes to the Battle of Minden, when Britain, or more specifically the Yorkshire Light Infantry ... yet again ... defeated the French.

August 1st is also the anniversary of the emancipation of slaves in the British Empire in 1834, for which a Yorkshire MP, William Wilberforce, had campaigned.

Sunday, July 31

Nice to get the day back

This time last year, thanks to the wonderful quirkiness of international travel I did not see July 31.

Of course it existed (unless the whole world is a figment of my own incredible imagination), it's just that I happened to be on an airplane that crossed the Date Line.

Goodbye LA on the evening of July 30, hello Brisbane on the morning of August 1.

This year I'm staying put and plan to spend the whole day in Cambridge, but as a nod to Australia, here is her greatest export, Dame Edna Everage terrorizing Charlton Heston.

Saturday, July 30

Itsy Bitsy

I fucking hate that stupid Yellow Polka Dot Bikini song. I'll come back to this.

The medication my doctor gave me for my back has done the trick of removing the pain.

It also returned me to the upright shape you see in those homo sapien comparison tables where we turn from flying fish to reptile to monkey to man. I'm no scientist so cut me some slack with the transition, I'm also no theologist of course because I think Adam, and for that matter Eve, had perfect posture and no lumbar pain.

So what's the problem? Well for most of the week my vision has had the added bonus of yellow dots everywhere. They go away at night to be replaced by the rankest of dreams. No nightmares, just those shitty dreams where you are constantly working towards some unachievable goal or destination. My get out of bed times for the past 4 days have been 9am, 3am, 9am and 3am.

For fans of 1970's British telly, here's a picture of Itsy and Bitsy.

Sunday, July 24

Well that's nice

I was looking for an on-line Scrabble partner today, when this one popped up.



And a day later an opponent played this.

Monday, July 18

Hospital Design

I visited a hospital today. Not one with wards, but rather a series of out-patient facilities like XRay, MRI, OB-GYN and Pain Management.

I noticed as I entered that the Lifestyle Management center which deals with obesity was right at the front by the cafeteria. Really? These guys couldn't use an extra 100 feet walk away from the lunch buffet and Mini-Danish selection?

Meanwhile, Pain Management, aka people who cannot currently walk, was on the 2nd Floor at the end of a long corridor. Baffoons I tell ya.

I met with a Doc about my ongoing Back, Neck and Forearm problems which still sounds better than 'Spinal issues".

Afterwards he sent me for an X-Ray on my neck and lower back. The technician wasn't the brightest of bulbs. She was bitching to me to stand still for my neck X-ray when I reminded her that I cannot fucking stand at the moment.

When I suggested I sit on a chair her face went from "You shat in my Martini" to "Wow! You're some kind of wizard" in two very deliberate seconds. I'm going to name her, but not to shame her. Her name was Sarah Greene ... I didn't bother asking her about Mike Smith and his helipcopter.

Thursday, July 14

Hey it's a sequel

And as usual it sucks more than the first one.

I've screwed my back up again, and I'm sure I'm going to need surgery.

Right now I'm shaped like a desk lamp.

In the words of Jean-Paul Satre, "That's such a pisser".

Don't feel sorry for me. Feel sorry for Anne. Patience of Angels.

Monday, July 11

Ooh look at me I'm pretty and ugly

Anyone had an assful of guys in their 20's and 30's with scraggy long beards?

Underneath the Grizzly Adams look is a normal guy who probably works in an H&R Block, but not shaving is obviously some meaningful attack on the boring rules of society ... man.

And why do they all live in Somerville? Or Oregon?

Oh they have organic rhubarb at the Farmer's Market!!!
Yeah, me and girlfriend (who uglies her self up with some post-modern 80's glasses) went to see Iron + Wine last night
We only have 2 gaming systems ...
My 2-year old loves yoga

Tosspots!

Wednesday, July 6

Wanderlust

aka First World Problem

I'm craving a big trip somewhere.

Next month we're heading to a beach-front cottage on the Cape with my sister and her youngest daughter Grace. Visions of sandcastles and frisbees, deck-chairs and sunsets, will probably give way to tantrums, mosquitoes and sunburn. But for now every time I go to Target I'm buying fun beach stuff for our week in the sun.

Meanwhile Anne and I cannot decide on our next big adventure. Granted Anne is working every spare hour on her new business, but I think our biggest obstacle is balancing an exotic distant destination with the probability that we'll have to take a tour with strangers. And that seldom works out well.

In the running? South America, China, Yellowstone.

I'd also love to spend an elongated amount of time back in England, exploring parts of my homeland that I never got round to visiting. I'm currently watching Coast, the BBC show that treks around the edges of the UK, highlighting all of the weird and wonderful geography, sea-life and events of Britain's coastline. It's an excellent show blighted by presenters who speak with an over-excitable tone, especially the short tongued historian who cannot pronounce his 'r's, 'v's or 'w's.

Monday, July 4

Apple pastry spiced with cinnamon, covered in icing

Why is Starbucks full of prize winning twats?

To paraphrase the un-great Lionel Ritchie, I know it's easy, but come on ... if the people in there get any further up their own asses they'll become certified colonoscopists.

I know I'm part of the problem, paying silly money for a wanker-chino, and I'm surprised the guy behind the counter managed to suppress his contempt for me, but little did he know I was just the warm-up act.

The fuckhole behind me had the cadence of someone with a good education, but with an undertone of dickishness that will find him bitterly telling people at parties for the next 5-10 years that "My boss is an asshole who just doesn't get me".

He looked at the pastry display like he was working out the big-brain equation in Good Will Hunting.

"What's in the Apple Fritter? Because it doesn't look like I would expect it to".

Here's why I don't work retail. My answer would be "Apple and Fritter, now fuck right off you nerdy c*nt."

Some of my best friends are ...

Oh boy. I just watched a news report about a town in Alabama that is instigating a clampdown on illegal immigrants.

The sheriff without a shred of irony, said, "This isn't about race, some of my best friends are hispanics". He added, "But they're not illegals".

In an attempt to add balance, the report interviewed a grossly obese woman who "Just happened to fall in love", with an illegal Mexican immigrant. "We're trapped inside our house". Really? Do you have one of those automated sushi conveyer belts running through your trailer home? If not, who is feeding you?

Her little boy is frustrated, he keeps asking "Mommy, when can we go to the beach?".

The town is 310 miles from the beach.

Thursday, June 30

Jazz Thumbs

Ready yourselves. I'm about to go all Siskel & Ebert on you.

I re-watched the Poseidon Adventure last night.



Great flick, Shelley Winters and Gene Hackman both 'taking one for the team', so that a pesky set of kids, a dumb non-swimming blonde, and the granddad from the Willy Wonka movie can be picked-up by a rescue crew who just happen to be there at the same time they reach the bottom of the boat ... at which point they bundle them into the 'copter and then just fuck off.

Also, I still find it weird that both the Gene Hackman and Red Buttons characters attract much younger girls in the movie.

Watched Dear Zachary this week. Great documentary, bummer ending.

Last weekend we went to see the latest Woody Allen flick. I loved it, Anne not so much, but then again I'm pretentious. I laughed heartily at references to Spanish Cubist cinema, and the jokes told in French.

The Art-House cinema near our house is a trip ... they don't sell Twizzlers. Instead they sell Odwalla health bars to beardy wanker hipsters not a lot unlike myself, postulating about the upcoming depressathon South African movie where to quote South Park, "Everyone Has AIDS".

Good times.

Tuesday, June 28

Deer Me

Another gem from my trip to Cleveland last week.

My dear Father-in-Law was busy 'at it' with the deer repellant when we arrived from the La Quinta on Saturday morning.

Just as he put the industrial spray bottle back on the shelf of his garage after a healthy 15 minutes of spraying, a massive deer strutted it's way across the back yard.

If deers could speak, I imagine this one was saying, "Fuck all of you." Except it would have come out as "Fwuc call achoo", as the mega-sized Bambi had a mouthful of my Mother-in-Law's geraniums in it's mouth.

Deers, they come across as all bouncy and lovely ... and then they fuck you up!

What's better than Pi?

2 Pi of course!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13906169

Monday, June 27

Choo Choo

So Anne announced to me that she wanted to try a 'white noise' app to help her sleep at night.

Last night we fell asleep to the slow rhythmical noise of a cross-country train.

The last time we fell asleep on a train was with two Italian teenagers and a couple of nuns, which sounds like the set up to a 70s porn movie, but was in fact a sleeper train from Paris to Rome in the 90s.

Anyhow. I slept for 9 hours last night. Anne probably scraped 4 hours.

Back to the drawing board.

Sunday, June 26

By the time I get to Phoenix

On my 5 hour flight to Phoenix Friday, the Japanese guy in the window seat had to go pee 3 times. He was as apologetic as hell each time, but really? 3 times?

On-board, the mustached flight attendant (male fortunately), pushed the food cart down the aisle and instead of the usual "Any food purchases?" line he went with the rather obscure, "Any items from the Air Café?"

Air Café? You're selling 1,300 calorie snack boxes not delightful pastries and Italian beverages.

Phoenix was hot, quelle surprise!

The Advantage car rental guy tried in vain to get me to spend more with a collection of insurances and pre-pays, and finished with a reminder to avoid driving into Mexico. To be fair I look like a cartel guy.

My hotel was one of those "Hotels of America", which means it is old yet cool, invariably haunted and decidedly noisy. I had frat boys on one side and family of four with pesky teenagers to the other. I heard every conversation they had, including the one at 1am when the hotel manager came and told the guys to pipe down and go to sleep. Amen.

I got up at 4am on Saturday and made as much noise as possible. Flushed the toilet repeatedly, sang in the shower and put the Weather Channel on ... apparently it was going to be a hot one in Phoenix (shocking).

The valet guy looked like Quentin Tarantino, and coincidentally, much like QT's movie construction style, the valet's directions to the airport where non-linear. That's fine for Pulp Fiction, but in my experience directions need to be in the correct sequence.

Finally, on the flight home I sat patiently to see who I would be sat next to. As I saw 2 cowboy hatted guys enter the plane I instinctively knew. And sure enough they had middle and window. Upon second glance, as one of them put his saddle in the overhead locker, I realized they were the guys from The Amazing Race.

Here's what I liked about them. 5 hour flight. No books, music, food, drink or talking. And best of all, no peeing.