December 30, 2005

Look Ma'am, An Invitation

We're having people over New Year's Eve ... several of the invitations have been lost in the mail, so just let me know if you need directions to the new place.

It'll be very informal. Some drinks, a few nibbles, skantily clad go-go dancers, and perhaps a game of Celebrity. Drop in for a drink or the evening. And bring a friend .. and go-go boots.

We may even allow our guests to participate in the time-honored tradition of taking down the Christmas tree. Yes, it's a beautiful and moving experience. Each guest gets to take an ornament off the tree, carefully wrap it in tissue and reflect on the year that's ending and the one to come.

Whoever gets the last ornament gets to chuck the tree over the balcony onto the curb. Won't be as much fun as when we lived on the 26th floor, but one must make do in one's new environs.

December 28, 2005

Santa Forgot One Thing

Christmas and Boxing Day have come and gone, and everything was really lovely. Lots of good food, thoughtful (and fun) gifts, a crackin' new Doctor Who, great company, and a touch of snow.

But no matter how wonderful everything is, there's always one little thing that could have made things just a skosh more perfect, isn't there?

Here's what I've just realized was missing from this year's festivity ...


I bet Craig got one.

December 23, 2005

Skating Away

Last night's skating at Somerset House was magical.


Such beautiful surroundings, perfect weather, fun people and the music ... well, I don't know if the "Die Motherfucker" rap song was really in the spirit of Christmas (I always though that was more of a crucifixion ditty, eh?) but all-in-all, it was splendid. I even skated backwards (so quickly that the camera couldn't really catch it) for the first time ever, and didn't fall once.


I still don't understand why my alleged friends said I was more Tonya Harding than Michelle Kwon. I guess if I had the winter cold that so many are afflicted with, I would have been Peggy Phlegming.

December 22, 2005

A Nip/Tuck of Holiday Cheer?

I got a cryptic email from Larry this afternoon that said, "Your Christmas 2005 begins at 1pm this Saturday."


Just a few minutes ago, he said that this Christmas is "all about throwing away 2005 and having a fresh start in 2006. It'll be a whole new you next year."

I'm wondering if my 1pm appointment is with a plastic surgeon.

December 21, 2005

She I Had It Comin'

I've noticed a big campaign against mini-cabs here in London. Basically it's a poster campaign telling the world that mini-cab drivers are rapists.

I thought that was kind of unfair. I've ridden in bunches of mini-cabs over the past couple years without incident. Oh sure, I might have flirted with a few of the spicier drivers, and maybe even asked subtly hinted for some action, but nothing ever happens.

Then tonight everything changed, and it's all suddenly very ugly. Fifteen quid from Tottenham Court Road to Marble Arch.

December 20, 2005

The Ghost of Christmas Presents

It happens every year. Christmas is just around the corner and I'm not happy with the gifts I've bought and I have no idea what to get the people I care most about. Well, actually Mom's done, Dad and Lynette are squared away (although a lot of good it'll do if I don't get them in the mail). Karen and the kids had an early xmas by way of Thanksgiving in the UK.

That leaves Mr. Impossible-To-Buy-For. He wants nothing, and historically whatever I give him is yesterday's news within the next couple of months. This year, the only thing that he'd hinted at a couple of times was about a kazillion times outside my budget. £1,200 for a toy dog. Um, yeah, it's cute, but Santa's looking at unemployment next year, so it's not the year for the big splurge.

So anyway, I had some ideas and had already made some purchases, but nothing was really "special" and I want our first Christmas in England to be memorable.

But Bob ... you've been in England more than a year, wasn't last year your first Christmas?

Ah, gentle reader ... how clever of you to recall. But actualy, we spent last Christmas in Quito getting ready to go diving in the Galapagos. So, this is in fact our first Christmas in England. And it could be our last, if my friends at UNO can't find a record of my graduation in the next few weeks. But that's another story.

So I'm wandering through Carnaby Street and the hell-that-is Oxford Street. The familiar dark thoughts come, along with that familiar sick feeling in my stomach. The stress demon whispering in my ear ... it's all too expensive, it's all shite, he'll never use that, it's all pointless anyway.

The internal monologue continues: It's not about gifts, it's about feelings and blah blah. Why doesn't he collect something or have more interests? It's his fault there's nothing worth buying. I'm too materialistic. I'm such a loser. More blah blah.

I find myself in Selfridges, because they do have everything, hoping to be inspired. I'm about ready to call it quits and come home and mediatate ... just go back to the breath, you're taking this all too seriously.

I found myself in department I rarely go to. I had an idea. I hunted around, and I found what I think to be a great gift, completely unplanned and totally unexpected. It suits him nicely, is something he'll definitely use, will have a decent shelf life, and is special enough that we'll always remember it came from England.

Until it breaks.

But it made me happy to find a something that I know he'll appreciate, and truly won't expect.

Unless he hates it.

December 18, 2005

Stone the Family

Dear SJP,

What were you thinking?

Much love,


December 14, 2005

Jesus Keeps on Weeping

Just got home from Kiki and Herb's Jesus Wept, A Christmas Concert.

About 3/4 through the show I found myself thinking, "this should be edgier."

And then I thought about all the things I'd learned so far that night ...

1. The cow on Herb's piano, Daisy, was at the birth of Christ and ate his (not Herb's) afterbirth, thus becoming eternal.

2. Kiki and Herb, then known as Naomi and Ishkabibel (sp?), were also at the blessed event (where the wise men brought frankincense and moooo-yrr). And after the shepards got to flocking, and Joseph and Mary got to doing what they'd been waiting so long to do, K&H found themselves a bit peckish and milked the cow (before she'd passed her evening meal), and by drinking said milk, also became immortal.

3. That's why, even though they tried to die for us at Carnegie Hall lo those 13 months ago, they are still alive. Kiki and Herb will live forever.

4. Until Kenny and Justin decide otherwise.

5 Justin's had some vocal training (or has cut down on the fags ... only one during the whole show). Really ... just the one. But we've got the Hemel Hamsted smoke everywhere, so who needs to light up?

6. Kenny is still genius.

7. Herb's solo of Little Drummer Boy turning into The Cure's Boy's Don't Cry leading into Kiki singing Kate Bush's This Woman's Work was

8. Planning ahead and buying tickets months ago pays off in very good seats at the Queen Elizabeth Hall.

9. The set consisted of Kiki's "perfect Christmas tree" --- a pyramid of oil barrels, topped by a giant star with a blobby baby Jesus on top. All silver glitter. She says to the audience, "I don't need to explain symbolism to you."\

10. Apparently in the States, there is a "war against Christmas" and it's the end of the world ... so drink up.

Hmm, Baba Jesu's afterbirth eaten by a heretofore unknown immortal bovine ... and I was hoping for edgy. Stupid, stupid Bobby.

Y'all missed a great show. It plays again tomorrow. If you're near London, kill a fatted calf for a ticket. It's bound to come back to life.

Some things just won't die.

December 12, 2005

Cheese and Grapes

We eat a lot of cheese. Which is interesting because as a kid, I wasn't a big fan. I still don't like most of the bleu cheeses (they taste like throw up) and many goat cheeses are too strong for me.

You can buy sliced cheese here in London... the square slices aren't individually wrapped a la Kraft Singles, but they do come in a festive, environmentally unfriendly hard plastic container, with a label to let you know the cheese is #2 on the strength guide -- "sharp and tangy."

As I type this, I'm having a few slices of Red Leicester.

All this because I was standing in front of the refrigerator and thought to myself, "oh look, I'm eating Leicester Square."

:: :: ::

So the big question in all this end-of-work stuff is the work permit thing. Have talked with some folks at a firm which specializes in the elusive documents, and good news could be headed my way. If they are correct, I shant be changing my drag name to Natalie Deportman.

Seems I qualify for the HSMP, which means the Home Office will might allow me stay in the country as a Highly Skilled Migrant.

A migrant worker. New career -- I'm going to be a grape picker. See, that's one of London's big secrets* ... that there are so many grapes needing to be picked.

Migrant. Who knew?

2006 -- The year that Bob lives the life of a Joad.

* All big cities have secrets. New York's is that the people there are actually pretty friendly. Same with Paris ... not.

December 9, 2005

My First Christmas Package

re·dun·dant (adj.) 1. not or no longer needed or useful; superfluous. 2. chiefly Brit. made unemployed because one’s job is superfluous to requirements.

re·venge (noun) 1. retaliation for an injury or wrong. 2. the desire to inflict such retaliation. 3. landing a better job before the package runs out.

net·work·ing (noun) 1. the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions. 2. what needs to begin immediately.

Yup, I have my first new year's resolution for 2006: get a new job.

I pretty much saw it coming, especially after I had to make my entire staff redundant the week of Thanksgiving. But I was sworn up and down to that I was safe, and that there was still a job for me.

Apparently not. And so we move on.

Know any good headhunters in the UK?

December 7, 2005

OCD for $300

IT has set up my Blackberry so that it has a password, which must be entered nearly everytime I use it. Security and all because my emails contain deep dark branding secrets that must be password protected.

Or something.

Anyway, the password is simple enough ... a 7 letter word with no tricky numbers, special characters or capitalization requirements.

Lately, I realize that whenever I key it in, I say each of the seven letters to myself ... like I'm silently spelling.

i ... d ... i ... o ... t ...

I've tried to trick myself by saying x ... x ... x ... x when I press each letter, to see if I can type in the word without saying the individual letters.

Mind you, I'm not saying the letters out loud, or even moving my lips (at least I don't think I am).

Anybody else do this? When you type, do you mentally say the words you're typing? Do you think of the letters that you're typing, one keystroke at a time? I find myself right now saying the words to myself, like I'm silently dictacting this post and my fingers are just typing the words, but I'm not consciously spelling.

Our new front door has a key pad instead of a lock and key. Again, 7 digits and and I find myself saying the numbers when I press them in. I wonder if I'll get to the point where I just press the numbers in a pattern without thinking of the individual digits. Same with a PIN at the ATM or a passcode for voicemail on my office phone.

What do you do ... patterns or individual numbers?

Do you dictate to yourself when you write?

Are you silently reading these words or are you just recognizing patterns and understanding the code?

Am I just a plain nutcase for thinking about such things?

December 6, 2005

Bah Humbug, No That's Too Strong

Hear ye, hear ye. The season has officially begun. I just heard Christmas Wrapping for the first time of the season.

24 years later ( can that be true?) and those silly saxophones still make want to dance around the house. And maybe stuff a stocking ... or something.

Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, I wouldn't miss this one this year.

We bought ornaments and lights for the tree last weekend (silver and red theme this year, multi-colored lights). This weekend we get our first English Christmas tree. I'm so hoping it comes with a nice Dickensian ghost.

:: :: ::

In other news, Christmas came early for Mr. Starling last night. Maybe he can find a new shed, turn it into a sleigh, rebuild it with a chimney and drop his check inside.

Turns out there are other ways to get big paydays besides "research-driven" art. You can try to kill yourself, and then hope that the ambulance gets there too late to save you, which means you'll have brain damage and can sue for $4.8million.

That's what she did.

:: :: ::

Because you care about my new life as a baker, I can modestly report that my bread turned out fab.u.lous.

my first loaf

Come on over for a fresh, hot, chewy slice. I'll even toast it and melt some butter on it for you.

December 5, 2005

Turnered Back On

What a nightmare ... that I might have woken up from. BT has finally come through and gotten the broadband back up. And, oddly enough, I think the only reason I'm back up on the net tonight is because I woke up and coughed till I puked this morning.

Nice, eh?

Anyway, called blackberried in sick this morning, crawled back into bed and went back to sleep. Around 1pm this afternoon I heard the doorbell ring and it was a BT technician ... no appointment, no call ahead to say that he was on his way, just showed up. And I'm sure if I hadn't been here, things wouldn't have gotten fixed.

Anyway, he got the land line back up and running (I came home Friday night to find it was off again) and after several more hours of work here and at the exchange, got everything back in order. Winston the BT engineer is my new hero. He called back around 6pm to make sure everything was on and working, saying that he'd been told to pass the job over, but he wanted to make sure it was finished correctly (he'd been arguing with other techs on the phone about what was actually wrong -- mis-mapped circuits) and so he reinstalled the routers himself.

And so, after several letters (and thanks to the BT mole who forwarded them up the food chain), I have broadband again. Now we'll see what kind of compensation they give me for my 3 weeks of hassle. I've asked for a case of vodka and 6-9 months of free service. I'm not holding my breath.

:: :: ::

Still don't feel great after this morning's bug, but have work to do, and I was feeling like I wanted to make something, so there's a ball of dough rising on the kitchen table, which will soon be in the oven transforming into a freshly-baked loaf of homemade bread.

I think I'm looking forward to the smell more than anything else.

The Turner Prize
in on Channel Four, and I'm hoping against hope that Gillian Carnegie walks with the check, even if she decided not to be in the documentary that's being aired prior to the announcement

Saw the 4 hopefuls while Karen was here over Thanksgiving and found Carnegie's paintings to be the best of the lot.

Was totally unimpressed with Simon Starling's deconstruction wordworking project (shed --> boat --> shed). "That's not art, that's carpentry," my sister said.

Jim Lambie's pop art sculpture garden on a whacked-out vinyl tape floor was fun, but whatever. Go buy some junk, throw paint on it and call it an exhibit.

Some of the videos in Darren Almond's homage to his grandma's ballroom dancing in Blackpool were touching, but the windmill and the fountain (time passing, water = life) were all so much visual blather.

Carnegie's paintings were amazing though. Especially the all-black and green forests. Hers was the only exhibit of the four that I didn't walk away and wonder if the artist was just taking a piss.

We'll know soon if the judges agreed with me.

Let's go check on the dough and see if it's ready to be baked.