March 29, 2006

Of All the Gin Joints ...

Today's interview was for a job that'd land me 6 floors above Larry. Not only could we cycle in together (there will be *NO* tandem bicycles) and/or share the Jubilee line, but we'd be riding the same elavator bank in a Canary Wharf high rise.

It's not for the same company, but still, how messed up would that be?

March 27, 2006

Don't Let the Sun Go Down

7:10 pm and the sky is sunny blue.

Every year the change to Daylight Savings Time (which happens a few weeks earlier this side of the pond) surprises me ... set the clocks ahead by one hour and yes it seems to stay lighter for for almost twice that.

Yay times a jillion.

March 26, 2006

Sunday in the Park with Daddies

I wombled through the Run London Gunnersbury Park 5k this morning.

I finished a little slower than the last one, but I'm still encouraged because I haven't been keeping up with the Edinburgh training as much as I'd planned and this shows I'm still on track (if I just get my ass in gear over the next 11 weeks).

The other lesson to remember is that for as much as I totally didn't want to schlepp out to Zone 3 on this gray, damp, chilly morning, I feel really good for having done it.

After the race, I sat at a picnic table outside the refreshment shack and had a coffee. Who should also be there but Goofus and Gallant, all grown up as dads.

Goofus was telling his plump little daughter (he having grown a bit plump himself) that "No! you cannot have chips, you can have a drink and a pout. In fact, you can just sit there and have a pout."

Gallant was chatting up his kids about why all the people in red shirts (I thought we looked like a motorway of lady bugs) were running through the park. "They're running because it's fun and it's good exercise for your body and your heart."

"And it pumps your blood all through your body, right daddy?" asked one of his three angels.

Daddy agreed. Bobby agreed that daddy had a cute little body which could have stood some pumping.

March 25, 2006

Romance & Cigarettes


I give it two big nicotine-stained thumbs up. Mary-Louise Parker in Alias wigs, Kate Winslett over the top as a filthy red-headed girl from the norf, and Susan Sarandon belting "Piece of My Heart."

It so works.

March 24, 2006

Hot, Wet, Smooth and a bit Slippery

Gypsy sat and stared at me to do with what can only be described as feline incredulity. Her look was like me watching people pay money to sit through a Celine Dion carwreck concert. Or perhaps the rest of the thinking world when America re-elected W into office a couple years ago.

What was I doing that shocked my kitty into disbelief?

I was sitting in a bathtub, soaking away in blissful relaxation with the help of some Lush products. She sat on the carpet just outside the tiled bathroom floor, sitting and staring, with a face saying, “Soak in water?!? I’d rather go back to Meowschwitz and be forced to watch dog porn.”

I haven’t enjoyed a proper bath in months. In fact, I’ve not had one in this flat since we moved in. There’s a nice shower in the master bedroom, so I don’t use the second bath that often, and when I do, I’ve showered. Turns out it’s a great bathtub. The water pressure’s a bit dodgy (takes 20 minutes to fill the tub), but it’s worth the wait.

I don’t know if it was the cardamom in my Elixir, or just being extra relaxed after this afternoon’s “give me back my center” yoga class, but I swear that somebody fed me a couple valium. I haven’t felt so relaxed in ages.

Turns out that I had the old version of Elixir ... the one with the heroin blue glitter. So now it looks like a Smurf melted in my tub, but oh well. I will gladly continue to sacrifice a Smurf to enjoy this feeling.

March 23, 2006

Happy Accident

I was buttering a slice of toast and accidentally knocked over the sugar bowl. Damn.

Immediately cleaning up my mess (because we all know how tidy I am), I noticed some sugar on my toast. Yuck. My mid-morning snack was ruined.

But wait ... didn't mom used to make cinnamon toast? Yes, we had a white Tupperware shaker filled with just the right blend of sugar and cinnamon, and we'd sprinkle it on hot buttered toast (probably white bread at the time). When did I forget about this taste treat?

Hmmm. I have cinnamon. I clearly have sugar (and not just what's on the counter and floor). I have bread (not white, thanksverymuch). I have a toaster, and butter. There’s no Tupperware shaker, but there is that empty ramekin sitting in the cupboard.

There's still sugar on the floor, but I've had three slices of cinnamon toast and Tesco’s scheduled to deliver more bread soon.

March 22, 2006

Your Tax Pounds (not) at Work

You know that live-action version of the Simpson's opening? It was cute ... when you could look at it on YouTube at your leisure. It's not so cute when Sky runs it during every commercial break.

:: :: ::

I'm a little flummoxed by the lack of professionalism I've encountered in the past couple days here in the UK.

Case the first

My Inland Revenue tax return was made out and sent to BrandThis! instead of me, due to a clerical error by the accounting firm they hired to "take care of me." Everyone involved was aware, and the deal was they'd forward the refund check to me when they got it.

In the meantime, BrandThis! decided that they didn't withhold enough tax before I left (after the tax cycle for which the refund was issued). So, without notifying me or discussing it in any way, they decided to deduct their own error from my refund before cutting me a new check.

The thing is, the accounting firm reissued my tax return (after I'd submitted it to Inland Revenue) so that the refund would come directly to me. I didn't submit the revised return 'cause I thought it'd be easier to deal with work than the government. If the check had come directly to me, then the BT! accountant would have never been able to take the money that they screwed up on by not notifying me before they showed me the door.

Unbelievable. It will all work out in the next tax cycle, but still .. I firmly believe they had no right to take money back from me without asking (or at least advising). And they have not responded to my more-than-polite request for an explanation.

Who needs 4 grand anyway? Fuckers.

Case the second

A friend of mine, who we'll call Lucio Spinoza, has recently applied for some new immigration papers. A couple days ago, he recieved a package from the Home Office. In said package was a letter awarding him residence in the UK, his new residence card, and his orignal documentation (including bank statements, pay stubs, residence permit for another EU country, Inland Revenue card, and National Insurance card).


One problem. My friend didn't apply for residency. He applied for Leave to Remain (an extension of his current visa). Seems there's another Lucio Spinoza in the UK who was applying for a change to his immigration status at the same time. The Home Office totally got the two files mixed up and sent the 2nd LS's documents to my friend LS.

So the 2nd LS is sitting at home, waiting to hear if he gets his residency or not, and his documents that he entrusted to the government are now sitting with someone else. Nice.

I'm completely accepting of human error. But that's just human stupidity. The government is so worried about identification and immigration (not to mention terrorism) and yet they apparently have no standards to guarantee that the legal identification documents they send via Royal Mail are delivered to the intended recipient.

Oh yeah ... my passport is currently at the Home Office because I too have applied for a change in my Leave to Remain. I'm hoping it doesn't get to sent to some unknown namesake in Norwich.

March 21, 2006

M&M's ... Plain or Penis?

Here's one of my favorite M&M's commercials adverts ... one you probably won't be seeing in the States.


Melts in your mouth.

March 20, 2006

In Which We Realize there are Choices

First Monday with no houseguests on the horizon. Time to get back into a quasi-productive schedule.

I'm beginning to think that a part of me doesn't want to go back to the corporate world.

What if I refocused and turned myself into a meditating, yoga-taking (teaching?), massage junkie (masseur?), scuba diving (teaching?), life coaching, reader (writer?) of books. Can that be a career? Or at least a way of life?

March 18, 2006

V is for Vitriol

My friend Mark just phoned his lovely bride Megan.

Mark: We just got back from the movies. Bob says it could in fact have been the worst film he's ever seen.

Megan: Did you go see V is for Vendetta?

She is a wise, wise woman.

I cannot even begin to fathom what was going through the minds of the people behind the reels of cinematic crap that I just subjected myself to. The only good thing that can be said for it is that it makes Fair Game look like thoughtful film making.


Yesterday's adventures were brought to us by the letter "T".

Tate Modern -- The fifth floor is closed for rehanging and so much of the good stuff isn't on display. The best part of the day was stalking a group of schoolkids (about 8-10 years old) and listening to their teacher prompt them to discuss Embankment and The Snail. He was brilliant and they were adorable.

Tower of London -- The ravens are gone. I was really disappointed, especially because I'd been telling the first-timers that they were the best part of the show. Legend has it that if the ravens leave the Tower, the Tower and London itself will crumble into some swirling abyss of a Dr. Who black hole. Our beefeater assured us that this won't be the case. The birds are safely quarrantined, awaiting avian flu vaccinations.

Thermal Fleece -- It was freezing out.

March 16, 2006

FastR Pussycat: Kill Kill Kill (time)

I think this month's full moon has made me a little more restless and ADD-ish than usual.

I've been thinking I need a new project to get me into flow. Apparently the job search (or rejection ... but more on that later), creative writing, interview preparation, marathon training (haven't run for 2 weeks ... too cold), and playing tourist/tour guide has left me a little unfulfilled.

All that changed this during the past hour or so as I found myself addicted to a new time waster creative challenge.

Fastr. Seems like I'm good at it as well. I just lost an hour, but won each round that I played. What does that tell me?

1. I'm easily amused?
2. I'm adroit at finding the words that connect photographic images?
3. I have too much time on my hands?

And, bonus, each game only lasts a fraction of the time it takes to play online Scrabble.

Okay, off to the steamroom gym.

March 10, 2006

Oh Good Lourdes

You've probably seen my neighbor's recent exchange with her daughter when asked if she was a lesbian ...

"I kissed Britney Spears. I am the mommy pop star and she is the baby pop star. And I am kissing her to pass my energy on to her."

What you've yet to see is the rest of the conversation ...

L: Ok. What about when you used to hang out with Sandra Bernhard?

M: You've been on the Internet again, haven't you, Lola? Sandra was a friend of Mommy's back in the day, and only played a lesbian on tv. She has a baby now.

L: Mum, please ... she's at least bisexual. Does that mean you are too?

M: Guy! Come talk with your daughter.

L: But he's not realy my father, is he?

M: He is a very good father to you.

L: Then why are you running around so much with Uncle Stuart?

M: Guuu-uu-yyy! Get down here and read Lola a story. I've got a waxing appointment in 10 minutes.

L: Um, mum ... one more thing. When you kiss Aunt Rosie, that's just friends, right?

M: Of course it is dear. Mummy would never be anything more than friends with someone that big. Auntie Kel on the other hand ...

L: But they're real lesbians, right? Not fake ones like you and Britney.

M: Yes dear, they're big old dykes. And haven't we talked about not using the words "fake ones" and Britney in the same sentence? Go have a biscuit and find your father.

L: Okay. But I still think you're a little gay. And why is Uncle Stuart doing your waxes now? What happened to the nice Brazilian lady who used to come over?


March 9, 2006

Fun for Your Toes

I want a room with a sand floor. It doesn't have to be a big room, just large enough that I can walk around a bit and perhaps throw down a beach towel and have a rest.

The only other requirement would be a door to keep the cats out. They'd probably mistake "relaxation" for "defication". Those "ation" words are tricky for the felines.

Gee, Bob, this new design inspiration seems rather random, no?

Perhaps, but not if you head to the Barbican's Tropicália exhibit and spend some time in Eden. Shoes and socks come off, and you wander through a sandy maze of tents and cabanas with textured floors. Rocks, water, cushions and other tactile treats provide a playful pedicure.

Surely there are worse ways to spend a rainy afternoon.

March 7, 2006

Almost Legal

First things first ... Happy Birthday Dad!

:: :: ::

Matt's gone, which makes me sad. But with every dark cloud, the universe sends a little recompense.

My HSMP application has been approved. That's a big yay. Now I have to apply for a change to my remain to leave, which means the Home Office is gonna hold on to my passport for 3 weeks while they process the next application. Bummer, what if I want to go on a quickie holiday before my new job starts?

"What new job?" you ask.

Well, don't really have one, but a couple possibilities are shaping up.

Had my second interview at Potential Job A (PJ-A) today. Actually, it was a 2nd and 3rd interview. I'd met with the hiring manager last week and today met with one of her senior people and the man who used to have her role and now heads up an adjacent department. I was told he'd be a tough one ... a nice guy but tends to "throw fast balls during interviews."

I loved his fastballs, which included "what's the last piece of art you bought?" and "what did you think of the last theater you saw?" He's a strong believer that even the most staunch of corporate firms need more creativity on the branding/marketing front and he says he's amazed that more people don't feel that way. I love it when a "tough" interview turns into a bonding session over color and light.

And both of the people I talked to this afternoon are SCUBA divers, which is cool as well.

Fingers crossed. This would be a very challenging, but incredible opportunity. I really want it.

I have a second interview at PJ-B next week, which would also be an amazing opportunity. In my gut, I feel more connected to PJ-A, but I've only met the HR, excuse me, "recruitment" guy at PJ-B, so it'll be interesting to meet the US-based gentleman I'd be working for.

Either way, things are moving in the right direction.

She's Learned How to Fly

Well I only nailed some of the lyrics, but I still want to have a beer with this one ...


Quelle concert. Okay, so she went low on a couple of the high notes that I was hoping for, but she puts on a great show. His best girl just might end up being a real rock and roller.

But the real show is always the audience. I especially loved the geeky pre-teen girls on the sidelines; singing along, waving their glow sticks, pointing to and laughing at my "DUMP HER" t-shirt, and paying absolutey no attention to their escorts dads (who sadly were much younger than I and didn't seem to know one lyric). I hope they all grow up to be rock stars (or whatever they want to be), just like our Kelly. And good on her for not becoming all skinny for the tour. Some of the queens at the show were calling her Belly Clarkson. Feh.

Grow up Heather, bulimia's so '87.

March 4, 2006

A View from the Ball

We unexpectedly found ourselves on the ninth floor of the giant glass testicle aka City Hall last night, attending a benefit for the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group.

Turns out that my fears were not true. The event was not a clever ruse by the Home Office to gather a bunch of illegal aliens in one place for an easy mass deportation. The party was great fun, despite the benefit auction going on a little long and the open bar switching to cash too soon.

The highlight of the evening, aside from meeting the lovlier-than-one-could-imagine Meghan and Rachel, was the stunning views from the terrace. My nighttime photography skills aren't so good, but hopefully this will give an idea.


I so need to live in the top of that south tower.

March 3, 2006

Hi Barn People ... or are you Barneys?

Oh, and a hearty "cheers, mate" to the makophiles who are visiting. Please have passports and visa ready and say hello below. You'll find it very easy to clear immigration here, and please stay as long as you like.

You'll be pleased to know your favorite barn dweller got a well-deserved (and only partially needed) 12-hour beauty rest, no doubt exhausted by the long flight and George's attack on his delicated Sondheim sensibilities. He's now halfway through his 2nd Bloody Mary. I, on the other hand, am not on holiday and so I've had an invigorating 6-mile run and am enjoying a protein shake.

And that is not a euphemism.

And Parasols ...

I love actors. I love acting. I hate watching actors ACT.

The guy who played George last night was acting so hard I thought that vein across his forehead (happily concealed by a wig in the first act) just might jump off his shiny pate and demand its own rendition of "Color and Light."

He's got great songs and a strong book. He's got a decent supporting cast and brilliant design to support the show. Why not just trust that and not try so hard?

The design was in fact very cool, the set being a multimedia art gallery. But the performances were very uneven. Dot was lovely and nuanced, Marie (same actress) notsomuch. The Marie who sang "Children and Art" was a totally different character than the old woman who'd been on an all-scenery-all-the-time diet just seconds before.

I'd never seen the show before, but I knew a little about it. I really don't see what all the fuss is about with this production. Aside from Jenna Russell (who was wonderful in Guys and Dolls, I don't think there's much reason to see it again when it transfers to the West End.

March 2, 2006

Dot's Entertainment

I think Larry tried to give me his cold, but my regimen of vitamin C and echinacea seems to have thwarted the snot onslought. Or maybe it was maezinha's prescription of hot tea with honey. Or perhaps it's true that laughter is the best medicine and spending the afternoon with my old pals Philip and Gilbert have me giggling the cold away. Either way, I'm ready for the weekend.

Mom has come and gone, and we had a lovely visit. In fact, she was nearly speechless as to how much fun she had, the only words she could utter being cool, unique, awesome and different. I think she's experiencing some sort of Gidget past-life regression. Cool.

MAK's arrived, is happily napped and recovered (not that he was uncovered) and we'll be commencing the calvalcade of celebration tongight with visit to the Menier Chocolate Factory (where astute readers might remember I cracked a tooth some 8 months ago). I'll avoid the cafe's crunchy corn chowder and seek some something more Sondheimish -- perhaps some alphabet soup?

All this festivity has not kept me away from the ever-important job hunt. Had an interview yesterday for a position I'd very much enjoy (it's a versatile role), and the intitial feedback was a call back. Next step is to meet a couple more people, "pass their test" and then perhaps meet some more future colleagues. Keep your fingers crossed ... I'd really like to nab this one.

Off to spend Sunday in the Park with George, then perhaps an encore of Thursday in the Pub with Matt and Nick and Ed. Come join us for pointed discussion.