Monday, 29 June 2009

A Message For Blake


Happy birthday buddy!



With lots of love from the 184.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Iran



Lately I have been thinking a lot about the situation in Iran.

This morning on the news it informed us that 8 Iranian staff of the British Embassy in Tehran have been arrested for 'provoking unrest' after the elections.

Of course, Ayatollah Khomeini thinks that Britain is the most 'evil' of the 'hungry wolves' circling Iran.

Access to websites, television and newspapers has all been restricted - more so than usual.

17 protesters have been killed. So they could vote in a fair and free election.

The last time I could vote, I didn't even bother to do so. For the first time since turning 18, I decided I wouldn't vote because I was so disillusioned with British politics and all the expense fiddling going on.

And the BNP got in.

The BNP, for those not in the know, are the most racist, disgusting political party in Britain. And they now have a seat in the European parliament where they will represent me.

Situations like the one in Iran always make me appreciate the fact that I live in a stable democracy - admittedly one which has been involved in or caused most of the messes currently going on in the world - Israel, Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq and Zimbabwe to name a few.

I am going to wear green this week, I think, to show my solidarity with Iran. It won't change the world, people probably won't even notice and the more I think about it the more ridiculous it seems.

But I'm gonna do it anyway. So nerr.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

I Am Wearing A Single White Glove


Michael Jackson is dead.
Let's not blame it on the boogie.

Let us celebrate his life and legacy by watching some ridiculous, vaguely relevant YouTube footage.

That is the most British reaction you will ever see in your life.
Act as if nothing is happening, followed by polite applause.

Or we could organise a flashmob outside Liverpool Street Station. Why not?

Everyone loves a singalong to Billie Jean innit?

The best thing about that video, as always, is the reaction of the police. Just stood there totally impassive. Let loose officer!

And my all time favourite is from Britain's Got Talent. Because nothing says Michael Jackson like a chubby man wearing a turban.

When we heard the news, on the way home from Macbeth, we had a very moving singalong to Earth Song when it came on the radio in the car.

Not to the verses because we didn't know any of the words, but there was some wonderfully out of tune chorus singing going on.

I am going to listen to some upbeat Jacko this weekend - The Way You Make Me Feel or Black & White perchance - and dance around whilst avoiding all news coverage, tribute programmes and newspaper speculation because it is all a bit tedious.

And how unlucky for Farrah Fawcett. It's like Princess Di and Mother Teresa.

Or not.


Thursday, 25 June 2009

Freedom Road: Just You And I Defying Gravity ...


*Reading Crusade update: day 3 and I am on page 50. Not so good. In my defence, on Monday I went out after work and, erm, bought another book. And then yesterday I went to Asda at 7pm. So obviously, I was exhausted after that and could only watch TV. And then today, I feel like I have been punched in the arm because I went after work to get injected with typhoid, hep A, polio, tetanus and diphtheria. And then I went to Asda again to get stuff to make spinach, mushroom and pesto lasagna and to buy a totally necessary dress and cardigan. I also bought a hat for Africa which, according to CBM, 'looks a bit colonial'. Oops. Tomorrow I am watching Macbeth The Scottish Play at a glorious country house, so that will take all evening. So that leaves Friday, Saturday and Sunday to get the book done. And obviously I'll have some binge drinking to fit in too. Sigh.*




Day Eleven: Chicago


We had a bit of a lie in today. Whilst we were in a room not insulated by straw.
We were meeting C & M at Shedd Aquarium. I have a genuine phobia of fish. I feel like I am going to velch [vomit-belch, fact fans!] when I see one. For some reason, I really don't like it when the tank the fish are in has no lid on. I think this may have something to do with the fact that, in my overactive imagination, the fish could conceivably jump out and touch me on the face. I wouldn't like that. The fish phobia stems from me falling into my grandad's fish pond as a child. Twice.

But I quite like aquariums. I cannot explain this. I just do.

To get to the aquarium we had to get the bus. Mary on reception at the hotel was the best receptionist ever. She was so cheerful and she loved our accents and she gave us the most specific bus advice ever. And then we ruined it by walking out of the hotel in entirely the wrong direction. It was pretty much a miracle that we had made it as far as Illinois. Especially with me behind the wheel.

On the bus, two women were having a conversation about a body they had walked past in the street. Then another woman on the bus joined in and told them that the body had been covered up by the time she had walked past a few minutes later. I love hearing conversations like this - they should probably make me worried or something but instead they amuse me.

We got off the bus at Shedd Aquarium and waited for C&M. And waited. And waited. Turns out, there's more than one entrance to the aquarium! Why didn't we think of that? And thanks to the retarded bastards at Verizon, we didn't have a phone to tell them. Hence the Warrington based coincidence near the Nordstrom payphone.

Flotsam or Jetsam? Gratuitous Little Mermaid reference.

We eventually found C&M and wandered around the fish tanks. There was a random exhibit with a little fluffy monkey in it [in the Brazilian rainforest section]. I really wanted to steal this monkey and just hug it to death. It was adorable.

In the Caribbean Reef, they had a diver in the tank with the fish. The diver was about 65 years old. You go, girl!


We then met up with N, whom none of us knew. He was Random McRandom. And may have been the most Cockney person I have ever met. We went for some deep dish pizza. When in Chicago ... And something notable happened - I drank some beer. Quite quickly too. I pretty much hate beer. I just can't drink it. I have tried really hard but I just can't do it. I have even forced a pint of Guinness down because it was free - and then made the mistake of trying an oyster almost immediately afterwards. That is what happens if you are in the Guinness factory in Dublin on Paddy's Day.


Proof! I drank some beer! A whole pint!



We then wandered down to Navy Pier. Which was, erm, a pier. We sat at the end of the pier and looked out at the lake for a while. It was strange that we knew we were looking at a lake, but we couldn't see the other side or any shoreline at all. Your brain thought it was looking at the sea. Or mine did, anyway.


If Jo were a dwarf, this is what she'd look like.

We had kind of a lazy day in Chicago. It felt like we just wandered round and drank it all in. The whole day was building up to the watching of Wicked at the Oriental Theatre later that evening. I heart Wicked so hard. Ever since we saw it in NYC it has been my second favourite musical [after West Side Story].


Tell Dr Dillamond that I'm going to get him struck off.

Me and Jo were probably the only heterosexual people in the theatre. For serious. I think I was a tiny bit gayer by the time we headed back to the hotel. But that's alright, we love the gays. I am pretty much a gay man [in the laziest, most sterotypical way] trapped in a vaguely female body. I love musical theatre, I love spangly things and most of all, I find men attractive.

I reaaaaaaaaaallllly wish they would let me edit Wicked. I would cut Dr Dillamond in his entirety. I would get rid of his entire talking animal subplot. I would also pretty much get rid of The Wizard. I realise that these 2 characters are pretty pivotal - either as plot devices or to fit in with The Wizard of Oz - but bloody hell, they are boring.

Dr Dillamond in particular is a douche. Yeah, yeah goatman. It is a blessed relief when you stop talking. The Chicago version had exactly the same Galinda as the Broadway version. Both times, I thought she played Galinda perfectly. She plays her as a ditzy blonde - which is exactly what she is. Chicago Elphaba was not as good as Broadway Elphaba. But that was probably to be expected.

My top 5 Wicked songs:

1. Defying Gravity
2. The Wizard & I
3. As Long As Your Mine
4. What Is This Feeling?
5. For Good

Though these rotate quite often. And occassionally Dancing Through Life gets a look in.

Incidentally, my brother went to see Wicked and fell asleep after 20 minutes. He is a heretic.

We finally bought some Wicked merch too. We had been umming and aahing the last time we saw it, so we bit the bullet and just did it. I rarely took my bright green shirt off for the rest of the holiday. Bargain. We are such hardcore nerds.

Ohio, ahoy!

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

New Balls Please!


Oh, Timothy Henman. How I miss every year being 'your' year. Before watching you violently fail in the quarter finals by losing to the 22377th seed who only had one arm and was never heard of again.

It is that time of year. The only time most people watch tennis. It is Wimbledon fortnight.

I should hate everything about Wimbledon. It is posh, elitist and ridiculously traditional.

But I fucking love it.

I love the fact that for a few hours you will be rooting for some Eastern European you've never heard of [and who inevitably crashes and burns in the next round] to beat one of the big names.

Oh, and look at the BBC studio! All the big names are there. There's National Treasure John McEnroe, Tiger Tim Henman, Boris Becker is in the broom cupboard and Pete Sampras is swinging on his tyre. All the gang ...

What Wimbledon actually means, is a viable excuse for perving at Marat Safin. Something me and my mum do on an annual basis.

Marat Safin = HoTttTTtttT11!!!11!!!1!!!

And insane.

"This tournament is a joke. Grass is for cows. I'm never coming back here."

And the fact that it is Wimbledon means that it will pour with rain for 2 weeks.

Wimbledon really is the best of British. It is eating strawberries and cream in the drizzle whilst wearing a waterproof jacket and beige pants and participating in the world's most socially awkward Mexican wave.

So put on your monogrammed Roger Federer blazer, put your hands in the air, sing along with Cliff Richard and YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS!

"No, I am not flagrantly homosexual. How very dare you!"

Game, set and match.

*At work yesterday, I spoke to a Mr Manhood. And laughed down the phone at him. Oops. I couldn't help myself. And the unthinkable nearly happened. I almost went into a bookshop and failed to buy something. Normal service was resumed though. I started my read-one-book-a-week crusade today. I am easing myself in with a Nicholas Sparks schmalzfest War And Peace. I will let you know how it goes and how badly I will fail*

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Father's Day


Today is Father's Day. I went round to see my dad at 11.37am. By 11.50am we were no longer speaking to each other. Such is our level of familial disfunction.

I am more like my dad than I would care to admit. He has made me the emotional cripple that you know and love today.

Some fun facts about my dad:

1. He is known to myself, my mum and my brother as Dickhead John. This is because he is a) a dickhead and b) called John.

2. In 1989 he ran the London Marathon. As a reward for this magnificent achievement, he got to come into Good Work Assembly at school and hand out the badges to the good kids. How embarrassing.

3. When in Swaziland, he once got drunk, got in a canoe with a torch and went hunting for a crocodile in a lake.

4. He hates the French with a fiery passion. He even takes this as far as to stockpile French bottled water in the hope that France will experience a drought he has actively contributed to.

5. He lived in a caravan in a field in Kent for a whole year. As part of some geology thing.

6. I have hugged my dad up to 3 times in the past 10 years.

7. The most significant conversation I have ever had with him occurred in a restaurant in Toronto when he asked me when I was going to 'stop tooling around and do something with my life'. 4 years later, I'm still tooling. Jerk.

8. My dad was in South Africa on the day the country first got TV. In 1976.

9. Because of my dad, I have been forced to read Catch 22, Animal Farm and a lot of stuff about World War 2. I also know every Beatles, Cat Stevens, Carole King, The Who and Fleetwood Mac song ever. I have watched every John Wayne and Monty Python film, seen Zulu more times than I care to remember and have watched Blazing Saddles more times than is actually legal.

10. I am able to abuse a referee/umpire with complete confidence in football, rugby league, rugby union, cricket and tennis due to the many, many hours spent watching sport on TV with him.

11. Last year my dad was in Carcassonne, France [hypocrisy!] and got so drunk he was sick on a public bus. At 57 years old. My brother was with him and was mortified.

12. As a child, I was not allowed to watch ITV because he said it was 'for poor people'.

13. When we would play backyard cricket, he would bowl the ball at us at full speed and when he was batting he would fully thrash the ball . He never let us get him out so the game essentially consisted of us trying to get him out for hours and hours or until my mum would come out and have a go at him.

14. He has a joke which he only tells in Olympic years. Why do the Russians win so many Olympic gold medals? Because they are always Russian around. Rushin'? Geddit? Yeah, it's really unfunny.

15. When we would play Monopoly as children, if my mum bent the rules for us or slipped us kids some extra cash, he would have a tantrum and storm out of the room and say that he 'wasn't playing anymore' and that he wouldn't play with cheaters.

16. He has met The Rolling Stones.

17. Throughout my childhood he was obsessed with the immersion heater. We were only allowed to put the heater on if we were having a bath and he would need written confirmation of this 10 days in advance. We were only allowed the gas fire on in exceptional circumstances and, even then, only one bar. He also wouldn't allow the big light on until it was almost pitch black in the living room.

18. When filling in forms, he often rings me to ask me what my date of birth is.

19. He uses a teabag 3 times before throwing it out.

20. My dad was responsible for my near death by drowning. Whilst we were on holiday he wanted to take me down a water slide but I couldn't go down it with armbands on, so he took them off. We went down the water slide together, at the end he lets go of me, throws his arms in the air and starts going 'Wooooo! That was great!' etc etc. He gets out of the pool and walks over to my mum sitting by the side. My mum asks him where Jessica is. My dad says that he doesn't know. Jessica is on the bottom of the pool, being rescued by a lifeguard.

Father of the year.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

DrinkingGameBlog


Old School is in the DVD player.

We are drinking every time:

  • 'Here I Go Again' by Whitesnake is playing
  • Someone says 'Blue' or 'You're my boy Blue!'
  • Mitch has to be convinced to do something
  • Any time Darcy [Elisha Cuthbert] is mentioned
  • Any time Speaker City is mentioned
  • Any time the pledges are ordered to do something
  • Any time anyone goes streaking through the quad
  • Any time Jeremy Piven is a douche
  • Whenever Snoop Dogg shows up
  • Whenever anyone says 'earmuffs'
  • Any time anyone takes a drink
  • Any time there is any on screen nudity
  • Any time Mitch is called 'The Godfather'
  • Any time Frank The Tank is mentioned
  • Any time a breadmaker is exchanged as a gift

To shake things up, we are drinking champagne.

'Cos we are posh like that.

Edit #1: My boy blue is killing us. He may be the greatest character in this film though.' Just ring the bell you fucking pansy!'

Edit #2: Just eaten a Belgian chocolate tart from Marks & Spencer. Very chocolatey. Onto wine now - all the champers is gone. Boo. Will Ferrell has just set himself on fire.

Edit #3: Just been reminded of C in New York, New York saying that Jeremy Piven was a total douche in actual real life. Figures.

Zoolander is now in the DVD player. We are drinking whenever:

  • A look is performed - Blue Steel, Le Tigre, Ferrari, Magnum
  • Someone talks about how hot Hansel is
  • The prime minister of Malaysia is mentioned
  • Someone says 'good looking'
  • There is a celebrity cameo
  • Anytime Derek mispronounces a word
  • Someone says 'balls'
  • Someone mentions Derelicte
  • Every time 'Relax' plays
  • Every time Derek turns left
  • Every time the tragic gasoline accident is mentioned
  • Every time someone talks on a ridiculously tiny phone

It's the drinking game for kids who can't read good and do other stuff good too.

It's so hot right now.

Edit #4: Wake Me Up Before You Go Go sing-a-long. I fucking love Wham!

Edit #5: Everyone in the world should go and see The Hangover. I laughed like a drain. Especially at Carrot Top in the credits. What a dick. And Riley from the documentary National Treasure is in it too. Do it.

Edit #6: What is this? A school for ants? How can we teach kids if they can't even fit in the building? The centre needs to be at least ... 3 times bigger than this.

Edit #7: Is Mugatu's dog alive?!

Edit #8: I can dere-lick my own balls. Oh! Bowie is involved! And I have hiccups. Walk off!u

Edit #9: Is it cold out in space Bowie? Do you just have one funky sequined spacesuit or do you have several ch-ch-changes? Conchords reference.

Edit #10: I'm not an ambiturner - I can't turn left. I probably can't walk in a straight line at this point. And John Wilkes Booth is apparently the original model-slash-actor. FYI.

Edit #11: 21 days until Africa. Who's excited?!

Edit #12: Drunken honesty. Some people on Facebook are ridiculous. YouknowwhoImean.

I INVENTED THE PIANO KEY NECKTIE! I INVENTED IT!

I wish Maury Ballsteen were real. So real.

Message for Blake: if you are reading this, set a date for coming over to merry England. Jo told you that she was busy in kilt July, but August is fine. Do it.

138 days until Muse in Liverpool!

I am going to regret this in the morning. Still drinking though - 4 and a half hours later. Bought some of the world's greatest crisps before from M&S - salt and vinegar, hand cooked.

12 days until Warwick Camp 7 - castles, fireworks and Gershwin. Yay. Tony Handwank.


Friday, 19 June 2009

Freedom Road: Fancy Seeing You Here, In Chicago ...


*I have just watched The Pixies at the Isle Of Wight festival on TV. Frank Black looks like someone's dad and Kim Deal looks like your mum's lesbian friend. Debaser is still a hell of a tune though. The coverage was presented by Fearne Cotton, so I am off to go and throw acid into my own eyes as punishment for watching her on TV. And I just had a lengthy conversation with my bro about his holiday in Ibiza where he stood 5 metres away from Jordan at Bora Bora beach and saw Sarah Harding from Girls Aloud in Space. At least he didn't break his ankle this time.*




Day Ten - Wisconsin & Chicago


We woke up on day ten of the odyssey and it was my turn to drive. Hell yeah.
My main worry was finding my way back to the I-90. I was heard asking where it was as I was actually turning onto it. I am not exactly renowned for my powers of observation.

This was also where we really started hitting the toll roads. What the fuck exactly were we paying a toll for? These roads had some of the worst surfaces in the history of the world ever. They were very poorly maintained. Dicks.

Wisconsin had the worst drivers yet encountered. People were driving like morons. It was also Monday morning rush hour. I became one of those people I used to hate when getting the train into Manchester every morning and night. The people [and they are invariably old people or young single mothers] who have all bloody day to do whatever the hell they like, but no, they just have to bring their massively slow self or huge amounts of baby paraphernalia onto the rush hour train. Jerks. My diary states simply: "Wisconsin drivers = wankers".

Wisconsin wins the prize for the most cheese based signage. We saw many, many signs for 'Wisconsin Fun'. I have no idea what Wisconsin Fun is, but I hope it is cheese related. Going by the signs, it was a large tree. We saw a sign for the Cheese Museum, which I actually would like to go to. I heart the fromage. That sign is beaten in the category of 'Improbable Museum Signage' by the Idaho Potato Museum. There also was an advertisement for the Cheese & Fireworks Store. Now, I don't know about you, but that sounds like a party to me. The best sign though, may have been the one for the Adult Bakery. I wouldn't want to eat a cake from an adult bakery. You never know what might be in it.

In Madison, I made the Stopover of Shame when I ran into a Borders and bought New Moon and Eclipse. I got a fever and the only cure? More Twilight.

As we got closer to Chicago, so the traffic got worse. And the roadworks. At this point, we realised that we were being tailgated by a massive truck. The truck kept driving, at speed, about an inch from Chad's rear bumper. When we changed lanes, so did he. I thought we were going to be murdered. That's what truckers do right? Murder prostitutes and leave them in shallow bush graves. We aren't prostitutes but you get the picture, right? We lost him somewhere in Illinois.

At one of the many toll booths we were chatting amongst ourselves . I was probably trying to work out which coin was which. I can never remember how much a nickel or a dime is. I am a pleb. The toll booth guy heard our chat and told us that we had nice accents. He then asked us where we were from. We told him to guess. His guess? Czechoslovakia. A country which doesn't even exist. He seemed very surprised to hear we were from England, as though it were more likely that we would be from Mars or something.

We finally made it to Chicago. It felt so good to be somewhere with buildings, shops, restaurants, indoor plumbing. We had a stroll down Michigan Ave. Which was very Magnificent. Then something slightly improbable happened. We were walking into Nordstrom to use the payphones - yes, world, we're the ones still using the damn payphones - when I spotted someone leaving the store who looked a lot like someone we went to high school with. High school in Warrington, 3800 miles away. I thought nothing more of it.

We wandered down to Millennium Park where we looked at the bean and the fountains.

The Bean


Cheesin' it up. Not even in Wisconsin.


Fountain action

We bought Chad a present - a car sticker which said 'On Board With Obama'. He was even Democrat blue. So Swedish, so liberal.

Finally! Food made of food.

Later that evening, we engaged in Tourism 101 and went up the John Hancock tower to see the lights and have cocktails and that. We got into a conversation with a man most accurately described as a walking mid life crisis. He had a ponytail and was wearing what I disparagingly refer to as gap year jewellery [wooden bead type ethnic frippery], jeans and a suit jacket. He told us he was from LA. He meant Louisiana. He told us he was in the 'Net business' and he had some 'massive' clients. He tried to impress us with the fact that he had been to France. Between us we have probably been to France 30 times. I think it's safe to say, we are over France. He then tried to reel us in with the mind blowing: "What do you do that inspires you? Do you write, paint, sculpt, sing?" Erm, we met you 5 minutes ago, let's keep things light and loose matey. What a freak. He then told us about his painting. Like we cared. When it became clear that neither of us was taking the bait, he faked a phone call and left. I didn't know whether to be insulted or relieved.

I then definitely saw the guy we went to high school with. At the top of the John Hancock Tower. In Chicago. In Illinois. In America. What are the odds? Jo ran after him and it was him. Disney was SO right, it's a small world after all.

We then went back to the hotel and went slightly insane, fuelled by peach bellinis.

Jo took this picture. Such was the obsession.

What is the deal with hotels and phones in the bathroom?

This was definitely after cocktails. Chan made it from Vegas to Chicago! If you look closely, you see Jo under the chair. Lolz.

Chicago was totally fantabulous. Even if we were followed by random men on the street twice. I ate some vegetables, drank a cocktail or three and felt like I could stay there forever.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Hollywood Concepts: An Occasional Series


#1 The McConaughey Ratio

The worse a Matthew McConaughey film is, the more time he will spend with his shirt off.

Dazed & Confused - I actually like this film with it's copious beer chat and it's deconstruction of Gilligan's Island as a homosexual paradise. I don't remember McC being shirtless in it. He did wear very tight pants though.

IMDB rating: 7.5 out of 10

A Time To Kill - I also like this film, even if it is based on a Grisham novel. I don't remember there being any shirtless scene, the closest I think it gets is in the house when they are all sweaty and he is wearing a vest. Also starring: Jack Bauer as a racist.

IMDB rating: 7 out of 10

Amistad - McConaughey keeps his shirt [and wig] firmly attached as he plays *suspends disbelief* a lawyer fighting slavery and other bad stuff. Also starring: that bloke from Gladiator. You know, the one with the name. And Padgate Pete Postlethwaite.

IMDB rating: 7.1 out of 10
[How has that happened? I thought this film was garbage.]

EdTV - This movie has the genius casting of Woody Harrelson as McC's brother. The resemblance is uncanny. One can only imagine exactly how much naked bongo playing went on on set. Up in smoke, indeed. On the IMDB page, I initially mistook Jenna Elfman for Renee Zellweger, back when she actually ate food. This almost certainly featured some topless work - it just seems like that type of film. Also starring: Elizabeth Hurley. Back in the day when she pretended to be an 'actress', labouring under the illusion that she had any talent beyond looking alright in small pieces of clothing.

IMDB rating: 6.1 out of 10

The Wedding Planner - Ah. Yes. The exception that proves the rule. I don't think he gets his top off in this. I watched this film on a plane returning from Malia, Crete when I was 18. The sheer god-awfulness has stuck with me ever since. McConaughey plays some uber eligible bachelor - he wears a lot of v-neck jumpers and beige slacks - marrying the ultimate Bridezilla. J-Lo is the humble wedding planner whom he ends up shacking up with. J-Lo is one of my least favourite things ever. She is vile.

IMDB rating: 4.8 out of 10

How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days. I may, or may not, have seen this at the cinema. I actually find him tolerable in this movie. Kate Hudson plays a moron magazine columnist who purposely tries to get McC to hate her by behaving irrationally and like a daft cow. She ends up really falling for him blah blah blah. I can't remember any shirtlessness, but it may have happened. Either way, it was a peak after the trough of The Wedding Planner.

IMDB rating: 6.2 out of 10

Sahara - this definitely features some shirt off action. I mean it is set in the desert, so it is totally justified and in no way gratuitous. Professional Spaniard Penelope Cruz co-stars and ended up going out with Matty boy and they lived together in a caravan. McC really lives the life.
Also starring: Steve Zahn stealing the show, as per.

IMDB rating: 6 out of 10

Shirts Off On A Plane

Failure To Launch - Matthew plays a toxic bachelor who still lives at home and his parents want rid. So they hire the horsey one from Sex And The City to persuade him to leave. He has a boat, providing the perfect excuse for water based shirtless frolics. How convenient.
Also starring: Riley from the documentary National Treasure

IMDB rating: 5.6 out of 10


Fool's Gold. Oh dear. It might be easier to find a place in this film where McConaughey has a shirt on. From what I can gather, the plot is some kind of treasure hunt around the Gold Coast of Australia. It all looks very tropical and shirtless. Reviews were not good.

IMDB rating: 5.4 out of 10


Surfer, Dude. Could a film title be any more McConaughey? This doesn't appear to have been released in the UK, so I can't say that I have seen it. The fact that IMDB lists some of the characters as Bikini Girl, Reality House Dude, Krazy Party Dancer, Blonde #1,#2,#3, Brunette #1,#2 and Twin #1,#2, suggests that this film is very high brow indeed. Oscar fodder, I'd say. The official plot synopsis describes McConaughey as "stoned, shirtless and barefoot". Oh. Wait. That's his character. My bad. Made $34,000 at the US box office.

IMDB rating: 4.7 out of 10. Ouch.


This picture was taken at the WRAP PARTY. The cameras weren't even rolling! Put a shirt on. For fuck's sake.

Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past. Matthew McC goes high concept. He examines all his past relationships to see why they haven't worked out. This movie also stars Michael Douglas, who hasn't done anything decent since Traffic. So nothing has changed. But! In terms of the McConaughey ratio, no shirtless action = better reviews! One of them on IMDB even going so far as to say the film is 'not that bad'. High praise indeed.

IMDB rating: 5.4 out of 10

IMDB lists our man's future projects as 'Hammer Down' where a NASCAR driver gets involved in a heist and the mysterious and intriguingly titled 'Brilliant', another heist thriller, and 'The Grackle' where he plays a barroom fighter. No shirts, no shoes, I imagine.

I think I have dazzled you with enough science now, and we can all agree that the McConaughey Ratio is a recognised scientific concept. It comes to something when you are being out-acted by your own chest.

I leave you with Maaaaaaaaaaaaaat Damon and his magnificent McConaughey impersonation:

Apple sauce, bitch.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Carrots Help You See In The Dark



All that remains of the world's smallest snowman.


Carrot-and-mange-tout-henge

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

J.M.H. = H.O.T.





Most of these pics are stolen from Phina Flo who has a long lens paparazzo style camera - unlike my idiot proof point and shoot which boasts about having a 3x optical zoom. Wow.

On Saturday, it was off to Old Trafford to watch some egg chasing.

And by egg chasing, I mean rugby union


This being June and Manchester, it was raining all day.


The game was significant because of the man wearing number 10 for Argentina.
Juan Martin Hernandez. The boy is some serious eye candy.

He can ruck me any day of the week.
[FYI: ruck is a rugby term. Honest.]


Highlights of the match included:

The words 'meat and potato pie' sounding like Budweiser

The announcer stating that the score was 'Argentina, fifteen. England, thirty. ........ Two.'

The many Mexican waves I enthusiastically participated in

Verbally haranguing Mark Cueto anytime his dickhead self got near the ball

The guy behind us sarcastically shouting 'Kick for posts!' or 'The drop goal's on Andy!' every time Goode got the ball

Blatantly perving at JMH or Mathew Tait - he's training to be a doctor, don't you know

Or the bizarre streaker.


A man ran onto the pitch, took every item of clothing he had on off, saluted all four stands, put all his clothing on and walked off the pitch. All this without any intervention from security of any kind.

Forget football hooliganism.

The real English disease is former public schoolboys getting naked in public and thinking it is a great laugh. It isn't. Tools.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Freedom Road: South Dakota, Turkey & Ham





Day Nine - South Dakota & Minnesota

We got up at the Econolodge and prepared for the mammoth South Dakota drive. We took the Iron Mountain road towards Custer State Park to get a view of Mount Rushmore from afar.



Custer State Park was totally awesome. It had a wildlife loop road which we drove down and saw all kinds of wildlife. And by all kinds of wildlife, I mean deer.

Blatantly not deer.

We saw some donkeys. Which for some reason were referred to as burros. They were very tame and we made the schoolboy error of leaving the window down. The donkeys violated Chad in the worst possible ways. And chewed the driver's side seatbelt.


Poor Chad.

There was a massive herd of buffalo. We got out of the car to take pictures and some guy was right up against the fence goading the buffalo. He then proceeded to tell everyone [and they were stood at least 30 feet behind him] to not got too close to the buffalo because they were dangerous. What a joke.


Joke McJoke

Simples. Oh, wait. That's a meerkat.

We saw some pretty cute little prairie dogs near their hidey holes. We had to stand by the side of the road for about 5 minutes before either of us realised what other people had stopped to see. I didn't have my glasses on. That's my excuse. The park also had the biggest spider webs I have ever seen. Some were the size of a small child. It was ridic.


Chad made it through to Badlands. Who'da thought?

We went from there to Badlands National Park and drove the scenic road. The landscape was strange - it looked like Mordor or some planet in Star Wars. There were lots of canyons, rock stacks, sedimentary rocks, coloured rocks etc. It was strange that this type of scenery occurred amidst the total nothingness of Dakota. And when I say nothingness, I mean nothingness. This was nowhere. And we were in the arse end of it.


If the moon weren't made of cheese, this is what I think it would look like.

By this point, it had become apparent that our attempt to get to Chicago as soon as possible by doing a 13 hour drive and arriving at 3:50am with nowhere to stay, was not going to happen. It had taken us most of the day to get to Badlands because a lot of the roads around Iron Mountain were 20mph.

Drive in a straight line for 600 miles. Welcome to South Dakota.

Driving along my favourite American road, the I-90 East, we passed a bajillion signs for Wall Drug. I have since read in a book that the signs are so numerous that 'every person who drives past them stops to see what the fuss is about'. Well not every person. These two didn't. And you know what? I sleep pretty soundly at night despite not having found out exactly what the fuck Wall Drug is.


Rush hour in SD.

The drive across South Dakota was also interesting from a moral point of view. Here there was an absolute abundance of roadside signs proclaiming that 'Abortion is murder', 'Killing babies is evil', 'Women who have abortions are murdering, she-devil, lesbian Communist non-gun owners'. Or words to that effect.

Abortion: The Choice That Kills

We were just driving. We weren't en route to get an abortion. And even if we were, how does that concern whoever has made these signs? What does abortion have to do with the fact that I am driving on the I-90? As far as I am concerned, the two things are mutually exclusive.

And as if a poorly painted roadside sign would seriously change anyone's moral standpoint on such an issue. If it does then they are depriving the rest of us of oxygen.

I was pro choice, but then I saw a sign in South Dakota saying that abortion is responsible for all illegal immigration, paedophilia, the economy ending up on its arse and the music of Elton John. Now I am firmly against abortion.

By now, I think my driving had improved very slightly. Not a lot - but I had definitely improved my percentage of time spent driving on the hard shoulder. I had probably got it down to a 70/30 split. 30% of my time being on the actual road. The one thing South Dakota has going for it, is the 80mph speed limit on the highway. Clearly, people can't wait to get out of SD.

At one point I was driving in the fast lane, and doing probably at least 86mph, when some stupid bint in a wreck of a vehicle started tailgating Chad. I was not impressed. So I did what any driver with 3 days worth of driving experience would do and slammed on the brakes. And then pulled into the slow lane after I had almost caused a pile up and glared at her as she drove past. And I mean glared. Bitch.

My SD driving stint ended in Sioux City. Here we bought some gasolina. The prices were ridiculous - as they had been everywhere. What Americans pay for a gallon of fuel, we pay for a litre. And there are 4.5 litres in a gallon. Yet all we heard from people was how expensive petrol was. People of America, you don't know you're born! Gas is cheap. Believe me.

The gas station was one of those super duper all eating, all drinking, all dancing ones. A guy in the queue in front of us looked like he lived down a coal mine. I have never seen such a grubby looking human being. The gas station had a Subway inside it. Now, this was considered health food in the context of our regular road trip diet. Mainly because you got lettuce on your sub.

The person who worked at the Subway looked, erm, fairly remedial, shall we say. She took my order at the second attempt. Though how cheese can be said so it is not understood, I don't know. Jo then wanted a turkey and ham sub. She said: 'Turkey and ham, please'. The woman said 'Whaaaaat?' Jo then said 'Turkey. And. Ham.' The woman said 'Whaaaaat?' Jo said 't.u.r.k.e.y.a.n.d.h.a.m'.

The woman left the counter and got another colleague from the back who immediately understood the words turkey and ham. I was nearly in tears of laughter by this point and was just waiting for Jo to break out the universal chicken and pig mimes to get the order across. We then sat in the car in the parking lot in hysterical laughter. Though Jo was quite traumatised.

Two other people in the gas station complimented our accents so I think it was just the Subway woman who hated it. And as I was described as 'Northern posh' the other day [you know who you are - stop stalking me!], my accent isn't even that difficult to understand. Imagine if we had been Geordies, Scots or, God forbid, Welsh. The woman's head may well have imploded.

As we drove out of Sioux City, we put the Flight Of The Conchords CD on. There is a track on the album called 'Think About It'. It is my favourite song on the album. Now bear in mind that earlier in the day when I had been driving, Jo had asked me if I had slowed down for 'that police car'. My genuine response was: 'What police car?' The song starts with a siren.

You have never seen such panic in a Volvo. Both of us were frantically looking in the rear view mirror, my head was swivelling around all over the place, I was trying to think back to my legal studies about what proper police procedure was, I was thinking about where the nearest embassy was etc etc. And then we realised it was on the CD. How we laughed. Once the hyperventilating was over and the cardiac arrest had stopped.

We crossed the border into Minnesota and were immediately informed that 'Jesus is Lord'. As you may be aware, my religious knowledge hovers somewhere between none and zilch. This may be a Biblical phrase or words to that effect, or it could just be a hideously worded sign. You decide.

We finally ended up in Winona, Minnesota at midnight in the pouring rain, asking the young child manning the Holiday Inn reception desk if Chicago was under water due to Hurricane Whatever. After South Dakota, we were all kinds of desperate to reach Chicago and civilisation.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Nerds In Paradise



Sun

+


Al fresco waffles + ice cream + wine + Disney trivial pursuit

=

Nerd heaven

[Ignore the disused radiator we have hanging around the yard]