Friday, August 31

Misleading headline of the day

Isaac drove Mississippi backwards

I presumed this was a highlight from a new Isaac Hayes biography, turns out it was a boring story about Hurricane Isaac and the Mississippi River.


I was also distracted last week with Neil Armstrong's death around the same time that his blood-swapping pill-popping cheating namesake, Lance was giving up his innocence claims.

"Armstrong is a douche" vs "Armstrong a noble pioneer" etc.

Very confusing headlines for someone who only gets his news from the 7 word preview in Google News.

Wednesday, August 29

Homeward Bound sometime in the future

We're heading to the UK next April to attend a wedding anniversary party. And if you think that's organized, the couple who are celebrating sent out invites 18 months ago.

While there we're going to visit the South Coast. We just booked a fancy-schmancy hotel near St. Ives, and also a few nights in Padstow which appears to be wholly owned by Rick Stein.

We're also staying in a hotel run by the RNLI ... the guys who rescue idiots in dinghies off the British coast. Kind of cool that a hotel stay is also a charitable donation.

Tuesday, August 28

Cord Cutters ... season 3

Another summer has gone by in which we've not watched cable.

In fact barring the Olympic opening ceremony that NBC butchered I cannot remember a single time we watched an episode of any broadcast TV in the last 6 months.

Of course that all changes as the leaves turn brown. Football of both varieties will once again make my ass square-shaped as I settle into my favorite chair.

But that's not to say we haven't watched the big ol' TV in the corner of the room this summer.

We got seriously into Downton Abbey and a bunch of other British shows, and to balance out the transatlantic bias we are currently balls-deep into a marathon of Homeland.

Anne instinctively dislikes 98% of all well-known actresses, and Claire Danes is on that list, but well done darling for battling through.

I had no qualms about Homeland until my mum revealed the male lead is actually British, and now I'm distracted every time he is on screen to hear undertones of his impressive American accent. It's like a reverse Bridget Jones's Diary with added terrorism ... and jazz.

We've also got into the habit of watching old episodes of Whose Line is it Anyway? It's about 15 years ago but I remember Anne uncontrollably laughing at two skits from the show. One involved the phrase "It's a rickety pier", delivered in a comedy Scottish accent, and the other used a sailor's hat and the line, "All hands on Dick".

Alas neither have popped up yet. The search continues!

Tuesday, August 21

Anne to the rescue

My darling wife rescued a cat tonight!

OK, she's a professional cat-sitter, so she has mad cat skills, but this had little to do with her day to day job.

A guy knocked on our door earlier this evening. He explained his cat had gone missing and wondered if we'd seen her. We hadn't.

As night drew in, the security light in our yard came on. This happens every night, I sometimes think a moth can flick the damn thing on.

But from our kitchen, Anne thought she saw a pair of cat's eyes.

I kept watch while Anne went into the basement and out into our yard. Sure enough it was Hayley the missing cat. Anne got down on her hands and knees and Hayley came on over.

Of course we are the only house in the neighborhood without a cat but with a cat carrier and a supply of wet food.

With the cat rescued we now had to track down the owner. We knew he lived in the 'hood, and a walk around the block led to a flyer posted with the guy's name and number.

10 minutes later the owner and his 2 college buddies arrived to find Hayley purring away on our expensive, but now slightly scratched up rug, with a belly full of wet food.

I'm not sure she totally wanted to leave, but after a few minutes the MIT guys put her in her carrier, and away they went.

Leaving Anne and I with a memory of the 15 minutes we had a cat in our house. We cannot stop smiling about the whole thing, especially the happy way the story ended.

Tuesday, August 14

One of everything!

It's my mum's birthday today.

When I phoned this morning she said she'd got the card I sent.

I haven't bought her a present yet. I figure next month when she visits we can take our usual walk down to the Apple Store, and she can add to her collection of Cupertino electronics.

Apparently she needs a Nano for the gym.

Happy birthday mum!

Monday, August 13

Gill

Eric Gill was an early 20th Century English typographer.

He was responsible for a number of well constructed typefaces including Perpetua, Joanna, and of course his most famous font, Gill Sans which originally began life as a bookshop sign in Bristol.

Chances are you've used Gill Sans, I think it is one of the packaged fonts with Apple's operating system, or maybe the Microsoft Office suite.

It's a classic font, with a nice selection of weights, although I've always had kerning issues with the Monotype version.

I'm currently reading a book of typographic history, which along with my love of jigsaws, marks me out as a man of danger and excitement.

So I was surprised to read that Gill sexually abused his own children, had an incestuous relationship with his sister and performed sexual acts on his dog.

Remember that factoid the next time you want to add a simplistic look of elegance to a church-hall newsletter.

If you're looking for a like for like replacement you can do worse than to choose NewJohnston, which is of course the typeface used on the London Underground map.

Also, it should be noted that Johnny Gill, American R&B singer and proponent of New Jack Swing, is not related to Eric.

Sunday, August 12

Tony Hadley's phone is broken

After 2 weeks of holding my breath waiting for London to NOT fuck up the Olympics (we won 29 golds by the way), my thoughts turned to Spandau Ballet frontman Tony Hadley.

I imagine Tony sat by his phone for 2 whole weeks waiting for some creatively-dead montage creator to call.

"Hi, is your insipid 80s hit Gold available for my cheesy clip collection?"

"Of course it is."

Thankfully it appears this call never happened.

I've a suppressed childhood memory that Gold was the first cassette single my sister ever bought.

I once saw Tony Hadley getting out of a cab behind the National Art Gallery in London. I said to my traveling companion, "That's the bloke out of Spandau Ballet". The guy I was traveling with just did a wanker hand gesture.

And to finish this rather mean spirited piece about the Craig David of the 80s, I was just reading an article in GQ about New Order frontman Bernard Sumner.

Post-Joy Division and Pre-New Order he took 4 singing lessons. Why no 5th? Because his singing teacher used Tony Hadley as an example of a good singer. And that was enough for Bernard to stop learning.

Here it is, you know you want it ...

Saturday, August 11

Boom Boom

Went to see the 3rd Batman flick tonight.

And shuddered when I saw the thick-necked, brutal, hulking sociopathic rape-y villain on screen.

That's right, Ben Roethlisberger had a cameo in the movie.

Talk about breaking down the 4th wall. You're lost in the middle of a great piece of cinema, and then pow, the fucking Steelers are on screen.

Spoiler alert: They die.

Tuesday, August 7

Not even D List

As we walked the pristine pavements of the Upper East Side today, Anne spotted someone.

"You know, the guy out of that movie", she said demonstrating her editorial skills at full flow. She was of course talking about the posh bloke who grew the weed in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

Later on (after macaroons from Ladurée) as we rode in a cab I think I managed to outdo her in terms of pure obscurity when we passed Fran Lebowitz the writer featured in the Martin Scorsese documentary, Public Speaking.


Tonight we saw One Man, Two Guvnors, a particularly English take on a piece of Commedia Del Arte (always the 2nd most pretentious film and theatre style suggested on Whose Line is it Anyway? ... after Brecht).

James Corden was excellent, as was the student kid out of The Office, who had an especially good line separating the first and second syllables of country.

And in a dream like end to the day I had a $10 milkshake at my favorite diner-that-sells-$10-milkshakes.

Monday, August 6

(So Good They Named It Twice)

Not Duran, but New York of course, and that's where we headed for today.

I'm always vaguely amused at the notion of valet parking. You basically hand your car over to a guy in a bellhop uniform who one presumes is working for the hotel.

Anyhow, after handing the keys to my car we were told our room wasn't ready, so Anne and I headed for a dodgy bike rental store, handed over our driving licenses and hit Central Park on 2 wheels.

With exercise out of the way, and latent calories burned, we could focus on the real reason for our visit.

WD-50 is Wily Dufresne's Lower East Side restaurant and probably the best known chef/restaurant for molecular gastronomy.

The 14 (+1) course tasting menu was incredible. There wasn't one single bite I did not relish, even when the bite included foods I supposedly didn't like.

Throw in a rum cocktail mixed with violets, and a surprise deconstructed birthday dessert (it's my birthday today), and this made for the most incredible dining experience of my life.


Saturday, August 4

Wonder if he has a brother called Warwick?

Shocking when parents name their kids with reckless disregard of thought. And more surprising when those kids grow up to be successful business people, who paint their comedy name on a large truck.

I'm sure his employees look forward to a paycheck signed C Hunt every week.



Friday, August 3

Chicago

I had a quick trip to Chicago this week, and on the airplane I sat next to a British guy. He read the same magazines as me, he even looked like me, and in true British public transport fashion we did not speak to each other for 2 hours.

In the cab to my hotel we were involved in a tiny highway collision. Wing mirrors were touched as the guy in the next lane veered into ours. The reason? He was Facetiming as he drove.

This got me thinking. Do Apple save all of our FaceTime calls on their massive servers? Do they have a collection of ugly people having FaceTime phone sex?

Along the way to my hotel I passed a billboard for a strip club called Polekatz.

This checks so many strip club bingo boxes

• Near airport
• Bastardized spelling
• Pole for strippers pole, but also in a Polish neighborhood
• Katz has a slight reference to The Replacements, the most underrated movie ever.

The hotel was in a huge cul-de-sac of chain hotels. I loved the complete lack of imagination it takes for every chain to decide, "Yeah, we'll build there too".

I was in Chicago for work, and that work included eating potato chips all day. Make no mistake I love my work, but in comparison to the staff at the Courtyard Marriott I felt like a suicidal loner at a convention for kids TV presenters. Boy those guys were caffeinated!

Wednesday, August 1

New Car Day René

In the UK, until about 10 years ago, August 1st was new car day.

Each year on this day the next letter in the alphabet would be used at the start (and previously at the end) of the registration plate to denote which year the car purchased.

And it was estimated that 40% of annual car sales were done in August.

Especially on the first week of August we'd scan the road for new cars. Meanwhile the shopkeeper across from where I grew up would always buy a new car in July when prices and demand were at their lowest. Savvy, and not pretentious.

Here's a 'J' reg that came out in 1991.


My glittering career in advertising came to an end because of the vehicle lettering registration plate.

As a teenage copywriter at a shitty agency I came up with the dazzling headline of:
A new G, way better than a good F.

This killer line got me a warning despite my creative director signing off on the idea. 

In total I worked there for 6 weeks. But before I jumped ship for another design studio I also wrote a radio ad starring Gordon Kaye the likable (but never married) actor who played unlikely French wartime lothario René Artois in the BBC comedy 'Allo 'Allo.

Gordon was a true pro delivering my hammy lines to help sell some cheap French car.

Career highlight!