May 30, 2006

More Walks than a Cross-Eyed Pitcher

A long time ago, a boy named Mark was watching a group of us play Euchre. After about an hour, he said he'd learned the rules: "Whoever throws the last Jack wins."

Apparently the new rules for Big Brother are similar: "Whoever throws their toys out of the pram and walks last wins."

It's rubbish. Addictive, but rubbish.

I think it's time for me to take a walk. Or at least reshuffle my cards.

See you on the other side.

May 29, 2006

Happy Memorial Day

In the last 24 hours I've had about 6 people tell me I haven't blogged for awhile and they're starting to worry. Rest assured, I'm alive and well (according to medical and psychological reports ... but they said that about Shabaz, didn't they?).

Actually, I'm in a secluded encampment in North London, being held by Endemol as a replacement houseguest. I'm going into the Big Brother house this week to slap the shit out of Needy and to knock the alleged sexual terrorist (aka affected nelly bully) down a few pegs. The world needs to see that not all gays are like him, either. He's a rare breed: a Canadian that I don't like (now there are two).

So, long time no post. I've got a few interviews lined up over the nexxt couple weeks. Still trying to decide what I want to do with this next segment of "The Scenic Route" of my little journey. Will probably go back to corporate for a few years, if they'll have me. Would be good to get out of debt so that I can live a life of artistic freedom (aka sitting at home eating Pringles and watching DVDs).

I'm enjoying my creative writing class, but nothing's really post-worthy yet. Having some fun trying to figure out just how precocious a little girl can be and still be realistic. Anyone with experience of 8-12 year old girls that would like to give insight, let me know. She's also trying to process a recently dead mom, so if anybody has insight on that (from an 8-12 years old girl's perspective) drop me an email.

Other updates:

Wooden and boring.

Light, airy and hysterical.

Beautifully staged and way more depressing (and relevant) than I'd remembered.

A little long but lovely.

Reality can be fiction (or vice versa).

Will see this next week.

I'm more than a little nervous.

And I'm off for a bank holiday day trip.


May 19, 2006

It's Bitchin' to be Twitchin'

pete_profile_185_194.jpgAmerican readers, meet Pete

He's got Tourrette's. He's one of the 14 new members of the Big Brother house who'll be waving their freak flag with abandon during the next 13 weeks. Endemol has put together a cast that could cause the most twisted of sketch comedy groups to wonder, "have we gone too far?"

This can't be for real, I thought as I watched the rest of the housemates join him and the slaggy Bonney (pronounced bon-neigh, as in what a horse says) in what's sure to be a summer of train-wreck telly. They just got more vile as the night wore on. Except maybe for Lisa. Does anybody else see an odd connection between the way he acts and a horrible Jim Carrey character?.

Could they be more annoying? Sure ... add Russell Brand to the mix.

May 18, 2006

Perils of Assimilation

Who says British TV is often like watching cable access from Peoria?*

Tonight we have two, count 'em, TWO blockbusters competing against each other: Eurovision semi-finals on BBC and the launch of this season's Big Brother on Channel 4.

As Dame Judy so elegantly puts it in Hay Fever, "What are we to do? What are we to do?"

I guess it'll be watch Davina and her bump and tape our pal Paddy and his snarky remarks. The real show's the final on Saturday night anyway.

* Erm, I guess that would be me.

May 17, 2006

The Yawn of Beauty

Someone tell me it gets better in part 2 or 3.

Y'all in the U.S. can watch too!

:: :: ::

addendum: Oh well, it seemed I lied. Sorry. You can't watch the streams outside of the UK .. unless you find a way to find a clever way to use a UK IP. In the meantime, fear not. The BBC will have this out on DVD in no time. And I'd be surprised BBC America, PBS or or one of the cable networks didn't air it in fairly short order.

And there's always the torrent route, not that I advocate any unscrupulous personal file sharing.

May 16, 2006


I'm reading the first book of the His Dark Materials trilogy (The Golden Compass or Northern Lights, depending where you live) and I've decided I really want need my own dæmon.

Wouldn't that totally freak out Gypsy and Cab?

I think I might be suffering from a Peter Pan complex though (but only insofar as His Dark Materials, right?). In Pullman's world, dæmons can change shape while their human counterparts are children. Once you grow up, your dæmon stays in one particular form.

If I had to grow up, I think a small dragon would be nice, about the size of a cocker spaniel. However, if its form represents a characteristic of my soul, lately it'd be no more than a theatre-going bookworm with a taste for martinis.

What would your dæmon be?

May 15, 2006

It's a Small, Naked World

I have an acquaintance, Michael, who runs a fairly successful artists' retreat in the Italian countryside. We used to work together when I first moved to New York a dozen or so years ago.

The other day, I was on one the gayer blogs and clicked through to an ad for gay nude travel. As you do.

There was a members page (so to speak), where travelers can upload photos of themselves in their naturist glory. One such member was my old friend ... outside of work, outside of his Italian retreat, and outside of his clothes.

May 13, 2006

Hello In There

The other day, I was feeling a little deflated that the London Smile Clinic wants about £8,000 to gussy up my grin. And that’s just the top teeth. I want to replace a bonding gone bad and fill up the hole that I got a few months ago. So why not go to the most expensive cosmetic dentist in the city and see what they have to say? For the price of a used car, I could have a better smile. I’m going to pass on this one.

Even people with average smiles need to eat, and it was an amazing spring day (so much for all that rain) so I sat myself down for some lunch at a sidewalk café. An elderly woman came over and sat at my table. I’d seen her about 15 minutes before, walking out of the restaurant. She’d reminded me of Larry’s Grandma Rose. Same old woman features. There was nothing fine about those lines and creases, and her cheeks and neck were freckled with age spots. And she wore them as proudly as she did her matching gold necklace and bracelet. She had a full head of thinning white hair, no doubt styled through a night of curlers and toilet paper.

She didn’t say a word. Not that she was obligated, but usually someone will say “may I join you?” or “would you mind?” I had no objection, I’d finished my lunch and was just reading. If she didn’t mind the remnants of my soup and salad on a tray, who was I to care?

She pulled a bottle of water out of her bag, opened it up and had a swig. She fluffed the back of her hair with her left hand, making sure the curls were holding and giving them a little lift. I wondered if octogenarians set up blind dates on the Internet. “Saw ur profile. Ur hot in a Barbara Bush kinda way. Meet me at the EAT on Regent Street.”

I acknowledged her with a half-smile and a nod (which may well have been interpreted as a palsied twitch) and went back to Augusten’s potential assassination of turd-taking opossum.

I looked up at her again, and wondered if I shouldn’t offer her a coffee. I’ve been all about synchronicity lately, and maybe I’m meant to know this old woman. Surely there’s a story in there somewhere, and I was ready for a post-luncheon coffee to get me on my way. The only thing I miss about working right now is talking to people in the course of the day. But then again, I don’t want to become one of those mid-westerners who feels compelled to have a conversation with every stranger they meet.

I shrugged off the impulse and went back to reading.

She pulled a letter out from her bag. I made out the letterhead of a local bank. I tried to nonchalantly catch a further look. Had her dead husband’s trust cleared probate? Was she being foreclosed on? Why did she need to read that letter while sitting next to me? Oh Bob, mind your own business and go back to your book. I finished the essay (the opossum lives) and saw the title of the next story … “Cunnilingusville.”

Maybe that’s where my silent lunch date was hoping to go when her dated from (omg, that’s a real link … who knew?) showed up.

And with that, it was time to go. I ended up in Regent’s Park, which was picture perfect.

IMG_2807.jpg IMG_2809.jpg

If I have any regret about that day at all, it wouldn’t be that I don’t have $15,000 for a new winning smile. It would be I didn’t say hi to the charming old lady who sat down next to me. I really hope she got laid.

May 10, 2006

Uncle Bob Meets Auntie Histamine

After Sunday’s running disaster, I waited until this evening to get back on the trail. Hyde Park was really beautiful tonight, especially once I got into Kensington Gardens and the sun was shining through the trees, the light all dappled on the grass – picnicers enjoying wine and hoping that they didn’t get run over by the lithe footballers.

It was so fragrant ... the smell of all the flowers mixed with blowing grass and blooming trees and oh my stars maybe I really don’t have emphysema, maybe it is only hay fever.

:: :: ::

I tend to think in extremes. I imagine worst-case scenarios and then play them out as a given end result. It's probably not healthy, but at least I'm used to it.

The past month or so I’ve noticed a heaviness in my chest. The only way I can describe it is it’s the soreness I used to get when I was a kid in Southern California and had spent several hours on my bike despite the smog warning. I ‘d come home and it’d hurt to breathe. Lately I’ve been feeling a lesser version of that. And despite not having had a cigarette for months, I still have this annoying morning cough and the slightest remnants of lung batter. I'm also sneezing a lot more than normal.

I was relating all this to the clerk in a health food shop yesterday (my original intent was to get some glucosamine for my rickety knees) and it turns out she was a nutritionist. She said that pollution has been bad here in London so before I invested in the iron lung, I should try her herbal allegery remedies. I’m all for holistic and natural remedies, but I loaded up on Zyrtec as well. We’ll see.

Feel a little beter about the running today. Made it 45 minutes non-stop with only a few knee twinges. I think if I get through the marathon, I’m going to only worry about 10Ks for a spell.

:: :: ::

Speaking of hay fever, I'm seeing Dame Judy in it on Friday night. I'm hoping I don't sneeze throughout the show.

May 9, 2006

A Small Good Thing

One of my friends works at Scotland Yard and received a commendation today for work that he did in the aftermath of 7/7. This will no doubt be a bookend for a similar commendation he received after 9/11.

I had a quick lunch with him, his soon-to-be husband, and a couple of their friends prior to the ceremony. And even though I was chastised for not having sent off any CVs or annoying letters to headhunters ("get me work or I'll sick Jodie Marsh on you"), I feel that I've had a productive day.

If nothing else, I made these two loaves of banana bread (from scratch, thanks very much ... and yes, I grew my own bananas).

I also spent way too much time at SpecSavers, convincing them that they'd gotten the prescription wrong with my new glasses. You might get two pair for the price of one, but if you really can't see out of either of them ... well, I don't see (geddit?) the value.

Baking bread and seeing things clearly ... there's got to be something commendable in that.

And again, congratulations D.

May 8, 2006

They Might Be Giants

Was wandering around Soho and Leicester Square on Saturday and ran into this lovely creature ...

She wouldn't share her lollipop with me, so I went to Picadilly Circus to find one of my own. Instead, I met a giant elephant, who carried time travelers and half-naked women.

That yellow truck attached to his trunk is filled with bales of hay, which his handlers had to keep replenishing because blowing steam all over gawkers works up an appetite.

They were all part of Royal de Luxe's The Sultan's Elephant. It was fantastic.

May 7, 2006

Eeyore Goes Running

"Running creates a release of endorphins that can cause euphoria (runner's high) or just a general sense of happiness." Duke on the Move

“Running sucks.” Bobzyeruncle.

I was overdue for a long run today. Didn’t do one last Sunday, since I unexpectedly schlepped off to Italy. Depending on the training schedule I look at, I’m supposed to cover either 3 easy hours or 20 miles. I’m way behind on training Schedule 1 , so I try to do a little more than Schedule 2 … I figure as long as I’m somewhere in between the two I’ll be okay come June 11.

I get dressed, and since it’s cool and damp out (and looks like rain), I put on some layers … tights under running shorts, a long-sleeve breathable tee under a hoodie. And I set out, knowing I’m gonna go slowly and just take my time. Long and slow. Take walk breaks when I feel like it. Somehow I slacked all week and haven’t run since Milan’s Monday 4-mile mini-tour, and yet my knees and hips are already tired.

I headed north and ended up in neighborhoods I’d never heard of. The Council of Brent. Finchley Road … hmm, I think I’d heard of that but had no clue where it was. About an hour into it, I was ready for one of the graveyards I’d passed a few blocks back.

I’m too slow. I’m too tired. I’m too bored. I’m way overdressed. Rather than getting the rain I’d planned on, the sun is shining now and I’m being passed left and right by joggers (and a couple of walkers) appropriately attired in shorts and tank tops.

I know that some runs are better than others … just like anything else. You have good days, you have bad days. This must be one of the latter. In spades.

I stopped for a stretch. I found a little supermarket and bought a Lucozade. About 10 minutes later I’m back on pace … which lasted about a mile. I’m now 1’20” into the run, totally over it and not even half way done. I saw signs for West Hampstead (and a very tempting train station). I figured I was somewhere around Hampstead Heath (where I’ve still never been), which I thought would make for a nice place to log some junk miles, or at least lie down under a tree and have a little coma nap. And so I ran. Up hills and down. Really lovely homes on tree-lined hilly streets, with manicured grass and shiny Porsches in the front yards. It’s all much fancier than Brent.

By now I’m more on a walking / limping tour than out for a training run and feeling more than a little panic and desperation about the 26.2 miles I’m supposed to cover in 5 short weeks. My knees hurt. My left hip feels like it needs a pop. You know how when you need your back cracked? That’s how my hip’s been feeling for the past couple weeks. Ugh. Maybe I’ll take up Danny’s offer to be a part of his relay team … 6 miles would be so much more doable.

I made it to Regent’s Park, and instead of going around the park a couple times to get to 3 hours, I just walk/jog home.

Total run = 2.5 hours and 11 miles. Totally pathetic. But, on the other hand … we do have bad days, I didn’t have much fuel in my engine (2 cups of coffee and a piece of toast is all I’d had this morning prior to the run), and I hadn’t run since Monday. But still, not so good.

I’m not ready to hang up my trainers just yet, but I’m definitely changing my goal from 4:30 to “just finish the blasted thing.” I’ll be very disappointed if I don’t break 5 hours, but I guess there’s no point killing myself.

Let's see how the week goes.

If Forrest can do it, I guess I can too. Run, Bob, Run.

Cheers, Thanks a Lot


May 4, 2006

Bon Voyage

I’m settling in to my ever-cozy window seat (Alps view for me, please), with my book on my lap and computer on the middle seat, all ready to boot up and so some writing once we’d reached a comfortable cruising altitude.

Looks like I’m going to have company, as into the aisle come a pair of Gentlemen who read Arts & Leisure.

I slide the laptop under the seat in front of me and slip into His Dark Materials.

If there’s one thing I hate, it's people who sit next to you and loudly converse as if you’re not there. You know, the people on planes with cell phones who talk for the whole world to hear how important their next meeting is or that they can’t believe how expensive a bottle of water is from the hotel mini-bar.

You know what's worse? When the guys sitting next to you seem to be having an intelligent conversation but are conducting it in dulcet tones that are barely audible. The only thing more annoying than eavesdropping is having to lean in towards your neighbor to hear what he’s saying.

I avoided my usual M.O. of drowning out the chatter with the iPod, trying instead to figure out where my seatmates were from, where they were going, etc. They looked very American, but not in the overweight, pleated jeans and gym shoes from Wal-Mart way. I found them charming, and the more I listened, the more I could discern noticeable mid-American accents, but no other giveaways. In fairness, they were probably whispering, "don't worry, in a few minutes we can move to a row without a grown man reading kids' books."

Ever resourceful, I ended up finding an “in” to their conversation, making some travel-weary comment about Alitalia never taking off on time.

“So are you staying in London or heading back to the States?” I asked.

Only one night in London then back to America. They’d been on a cruise throughout the Mediteranean (Italy, Spain, France), and were ready to get home.

“Where in the States are you from?”


“What part?”


Ugh, why are people so vague? Probably because nobody ends up knowing where they’re talking about, and how would they know that I grew up in the O.C. So I drill on, “LA or Orange County?”

“Orange County. We live in Laguna Niguel.”

“Oh, that’s quite nice. I led a conference there a few years ago. I actually grew up in Orange County … a town called La Habra.”

My new buddy points to his partner and says, “Ron’s from La Habra.”

Really? We toss about school names (Olita Elementary, Rancho Cañada, Lowell High School). Yup, we both went there. I say I used to live right across the street from Rancho, and turns out he lived across from Olita).

I don’t recognize him at all, but ask when he graduated. 1980. Shut up. That’s when I would have graduated, but we moved back to Ohio in 1977.

He tells me his name and I apologize for bells not ringing. I tell him mine and he smiles, “I remember you.” Needless to say, I didn’t change seats, nor did I learn much about Lyra’s impending adventure to the cold far North.

Turns out we went to 3 schools together, probably had 5th grade together (Mrs. Pearson), and knew a bunch of the same people. Many of whom (“just about the whole class,” according to Ron) turned out to be either Good With Colours or flannel wearing, power tool toting lesbians. He mentioned one thick-ankled blonde girl, about whom I believe in 3rd grade I wrote “I Love Renee” on my desk (and never had we seen Miss Luigs so angry). She became a “big dyke prison guard.” Bless.

I came home from my impromptu Italian interlude and immediately pulled out dusty yearbooks, trying to place all the people whose names and faces have blurred over the past few decades. I’ll say one thing for us all -- there was some really hair back in the late 70s. Really, really, bad hair.

May 2, 2006

Grazie, Ciao

A quick jaunt to Milan has left me mentally refreshed (and missing the perks of business travel) ... but a tad too tired to see if any of the pictures I took are worth posting.

Tried to see The Last Supper this morning ... but apparently it's a hard table to book. No viewings available till June.

Plane ride home turned out to be a big surprise ... but that's a story for another day.