January 31, 2007

Choices Were Made


I met my new hero last night. Her name is Diane and she's the creation of Julie White, Douglas Carter Beene and Scott Ellis. She is brilliant — fast-talking, faster-thinking, demonically driven and, perhaps a little manaical. I love her.

Were it not for a certain 81-year old goddess of the theater returning to the stage later this spring, I would lay down the bank on Julie White being a Manolo-in for the Tohy.

I've seen two shows in the past couple nights, and both have shared a remarkable quality. Each show has a character (Moritz in Spring Awakening and Diane in The Little Dog Laughed) who is *this* close to being over the top, and in the hands of less capable actors could come off as less-than-sympathetic cartoons.

John Gallagher, Jr. and Julie White are both just amazing. I'm so lucky to have been able to see them both during my short side trip to the city.

Speaking of, it's going really well. I'm now the proud owner of some new jeans (thanks Godmother), some new swag pants (thanks CB), and a UK visa (thanks Home Office) that's good for the next 2.5 years. Go Bob Go.

Ooops,the boys just called. They're down the street at The Gym, so I have to quit typing and have my happy hour workout.

January 30, 2007

Tuesday 200 - #30

It was a private comfort he kept coming back to.

Drawing himself was how he checked in. Some people wrote journals or meditated. Some never bothered and others flirted in bars, fishing for compliments.

Self portraits were a habit he’d picked up in college. He thought it’d be an easy elective and a chance to nail art students who were much hotter prospects than the business majors he usually saw. He was no Rembrandt, but each time he drew, he found a fresh perspective — either in the way he looked or the way he felt about himself.

He shaded the contours below his left eye, shiny mottled skin where a ruggedly smooth cheek once glowed. The nerves on that side of his face were gone. The remaining flesh, now healed, stretched over his cheek and jaw like a mask of thick latex, dappled pink and yellow. He stippled in three days of black whiskers on his right cheek and neck.

He wondered if someone, anyone, else would feel that contrast his charcoal recreated — taught, rubbery flesh on one side, a gentle scruff on the other.

Decades later, he still felt the fire’s heat, and burned for a lover’s warm touch.

:: :: ::

What's a Tuesday 200?

Last week's Tuesday 200.

There's A Moment You Know

Sometimes you listen to a show, and hear things about it, and then when you finally get the chance to sit down and watch it things don't quite live up to your expectations.

That most certainly did not happen at tonight's performance of Spring Awakening.

Amazing. I laughed, I cried, and I longed to be 20 years old and have a singing voice.

Memo to self: Buy a chair to hang on wall in B2 for Melchior to sit on. Sigh.

It's good to be back in New York.

January 29, 2007

A Sad Breakfast Tale

It was a cold, dark, dreary morning in a sleepy little suburb of eastern Cincinnati.

The slave child has been awoken put to work, frying up some Bob Evans ("down o the farm") sausage for her vittles before she's forced to walk 10 miles in the freezing wind to school. When asked what she'll learn today, she yawns and says, "I dunno. And I don't care." Fourth grade is hell, apparently.

She longs for the salad days of kindergarten, when there was "less school and more fun."

No one knows how hard it is to be her ... a poor, mistreated, malnourished, dejected and otherwise put upon 9-year old waif, wrapped in a Pocahontas blanket for dramatic effect to keep warm. If she could only play Wii and drink Coca Cola, her morning might be passable, but apparently there are house rules.

"Poor Margaret," her uncle asks, interrupting the cooking. "What's the hardest thing about being you?"

"Everything," she sighs.

January 28, 2007

Bunnie's Bash

We survived the dog show at Grandma's birthday party. The kids (well, the ones aged 12 and under) loved the scary clowns and dancing dogs.

My friend Laura was able to get out of Bat Boy's cave and came along, not only for the fun of it all but also to be our designated driver. She wasn't there ten minutes, watching the calvacade of cousins arrive (and be greeted by the scary clown), when she came up to me with cocktail in hand and said, "I'm relinquishing my driver duties." Yes, drinking was in order.

The few of us grandkids that "got away" were all back, and it didn't take long for us to realize we'd made the right decisions (both by getting out and coming back once every couple years to check in and confirm our choices).

It was the best of family reunions, all in a basement conference room of a Quality Inn in Norwood, Ohio. We immediately made friends with the wait staff, especially Shirley the bartender. She was fabulous.

Bottom line is that Grandma had a blast. She's survived much worse in the past 90 years than a show that couldn't make money in Branson, and while she may have been allergic to Bonzer, she sat in the front row, shed a few tears, and just glowed the whole night. Good on Grandma.

And a very happy 90th birthday.

January 27, 2007

Open Up My Eager Eyes

And this is why I'm not the parent ...

The kids are are loaded up in the car, ready to be dropped off at various overnight parties so that their mom and I can go out to get loaded.

I'm playing iPod DJ, and put on "Mr. Brightside."

"I love The Killers," the 9-year old Miss Margaret shouts, and we all start singing along. She knows all the words.

Now they're going to bed
And my stomach is sick
And it's all in my head
But she's touching his-chest
Now, he takes off her dress

"Why does he want her dress?" Miss Margaret asks.

What do you tell a 4th grader? That our neurotically jealous narrator's ex-girlfreind is to do the nasty?

That she's dating a cross-dresser?

Sister (having been through mommy training) had the quick, if not perhaps too simple response ... "Well, 'cause it's pretty, honey."

That seemed to be all the answer that needed.

January 26, 2007

Comfort and Joy

The last time I saw community theater was close to 20 years ago, when I was in Prescription: Murder at some suburban playhouse here in Cincinnati.

Last night I ventured into that cold, dark cave again. One of my dearest friends from high school days is in the Edge of the Creek's (that's Beavercreek*, for those of you keeping score at home) production of Bat Boy. I drove up last night for a visit and to sit in on a rehearsal.

Christopher Guest could not have put together a better evening's entertainment.

The cast is a fine collection of talent, and they're having fun and giving it their all for nothing but their own enjoyment. Brilliant. There are some amazing voices working under excellent musical direction. And if you get thrown by the lack of actual direction and occasional lapses of pacing/acting ability, there's always Michael, the 19-year old musical theater major with the ripped body of a twink pornstar who keeps losing his clothes.

My world is a better place for driving to Dayton.

In other news ... I'm now a Wii wizard, although my shoulders are a little sore this morning from tennis, golf and boxing. Totally getting one when I get home.

No, really ... the city is called Beavercreek. And there's a strip mall with a bowling alley called, I swear, Beaver Vu Bowl. I think it's where Britney goes.

January 25, 2007

Update from Cincinnati

Skyline ... check!

Goetta ... check!

Wii ... OMG. I totally need one. I'd write more, but I need to work on my tennis game before the kids get home from school and kick Uncle Bobby's ass.

January 24, 2007

Snow. Not. Funny.

It's 3:30 in the morning, and I'm getting ready to pack up and go to bed (why get a good night's sleep when you can doze on the cross-Atlantic flight?).

I looked out the window and saw that it's snowing. It's barely been winter here, and now it decides to snow? 7 hours before my plane leaves?

If I get stuck here because of weather, I'll be ... well, stuck.

January 23, 2007

Tuesday 200 - #29

“I didn’t know you knit,” Mabel said, pointing to the yarn and needles near the sofa.

Mabel chaired the Altar Guild. She’d come to enlist.

Doris nodded. She believed your knitting, like your spirituality, was best kept to yourself.

She didn’t knit in public. Not on a bus or plane, certainly not in someone else’s house. Same went for her spirituality. Like knitting, it was a private comfort you could come back to anytime. If it unraveled, it could be stitched back up with a little patience.

Knitting, and your beliefs, created results that kept you warm. True spirituality, unlike Mabel’s religion and machine-made sweaters, couldn’t be found on a rack.

“So what are you making?” Mabel asked, grabbing a donut.

“A shroud,” Doris said.

“For … a corpse?”

“No, for my niggling little demons that never leave. I’ve learned to live with them. Once they’ve been acknowledged, they tend to quiet down and rest under their blanket.”

Mabel chewed on this, and her cruller, for a bit. “Can’t you just put them in a bag and toss ‘em in the river?”

“Well, I could, but then their families come looking for them, causing bigger problems than when you’ve started.”

:: :: ::

What's a Tuesday 200?

Last week's Tuesday 200.

My Fine is $805.60

Thanks to Tuna Girl for an expensive jaunt down memory lane. I guess I didn't used to be so boring.

I might be able to add $100 to that, depending on how you define "having sex for money."

(Hmmm, does that mean he got paid to sleep with someone or does that mean, I bet you $500 you wouldn't do that person?"

Sidebar ...

When we first started going out, I asked Larry if he'd ever paid for sex. His perhaps-too-speedy reply ... "one way or another, everybody pays for sex."

January 22, 2007

No, There Is Not a WKRP

Only two more sleeps and our hero climbs into the giant metal dragon and flies back to the mystical kingdom that's round on the ends and tall in the middle.

I'm strangely excited to return to the land where I was both born and bored. That's bored as in filled with repetitious ennui, not bored as in repetitiously filled with Henrí ... although there was that swarthy French waiter back in '89. No, wait, that was Jean Luc ... an entirely different coffee commercial story.

And oh, what acorns of fun I'll soon be sampling from the giant tree of Buckeyedom ...

* Skyline. Two cheese coneys with onions and a 5-way, please.

* People saying "please" when they want you to repeat something.

* My introduction to Wii. I will rock at bowling, and will do my best to not appear humiliated when the 8-year old beats me.

* Homemade goetta. Lots of it. Fried (maybe in bacon grease) nice and crisp and then salted to perfection.

* A chanteuse clown and her performing pooches. I defecate you not.

* A potential sneak preview of the mid-Ohio Bat Boy premiere.

* A ridiculous night of poker with my cousins. Grandma is not allowed to play. I don't care if it is her 90th birthday. She cheats.

* A get-me-out-of-here flight to New York one week from today.

I'm looking forward to 7 of the 8. Actually, I'm looking forward to it all. It will be fun to see if the Bonzer thing can be as cheesy as I've imagined. Just in case, I've been assured there will be plenty of vodka and tequila at the party's (cash) bar.

Maybe I'll even have a Little Kings.

January 21, 2007

Mob Scene

"Where are you from?"

It's a question we all get. Sometimes I tell people the whole truth. I'm from Ohio, but I grew up in Southern California (before the O.C. was cool), finished up high school back in Cincinnati, then lived in Springfield (no, not with the Simpsons), Yellowstone National Park, New Orleans, back to Cincy, back to New Orleans for a 4-year-long weekend, Houston (via Cincinnati), Chicago, New York and now London.

"Gosh, so many places," is the usual reply. "Was your family in the military?"

"No," I tell them. "But, witness relocation has been very good to me."

Every now and again, people believe me. "Were you in the mafia?" one guy asked me a couple weeks ago, and he looked around to see if anybody heard. He seemed more than a little excited by the prospect. I didn't want to let him down, nor did I want to lie ... so I just shrugged my shoulders, tapped my nose, and pulled out the picture of a horse’s decapitated head that I keep in my wallet.

Truth be told, I do have mafia connections.

The Denim Mafia.

I've known the Godmother for more than 20-mumble mumble years now. We met when I lived in New Orleans, long before she was "made." She was this fantastically cool, hip New Yorker (when I only dreamed of being able to live there) and we had mutual friends. She is truly one of the hands-down funniest people I know. She called this morning to tell me that these here little blog snippets make her laugh, and she reads them every day.

Imagine that. I make the funny lady laugh.

It's always good to catch up with old friends. Friends who are woven into the fabric of your lives. You know the ones ... you don't always see or talk to them, but when you reconnect, you can retrace that particular thread and find so many memories.

Tiny tupperware containers holding pink crystals on a French Quarter balcony. My first trip to Southampton, long before Lizzie Grubman knew how to wreck drive an SUV. Tales of trannie Asian hookers and blood-lettings in an Indian hotel bed. Nipple piercings ... both of us at different times. Imminent water breakage on the dance floor at my 40th birthday. Cute boyfriends, cuter husbands. Crazy families, some by blood, some by choice. Break-ups and hook ups and dead friends and new beginnings. Cancer scares and A-MAZ-ING recoveries. Getting hooked up for a Fire Island share, and finding out that would-be housemates (her BFF's boyfriend and my boyfriend) had dallied with each other years before (we're all connected, I tell you). Kandinsky kindergartners. So many stories. So much laughter.

She's worked for all the names in denim, and now she's the CEO of her own company.

We've going to have some lunch when I'm in New York next week. Yay. It's not every day you get to have lunch with somebody that high up in the mafia. Maybe I'll get made, and come home wearing (33x34) 5ep.

Thanks for the call, sweetie. See you soon.

So. Very. Beautiful.


Just finished it. I want to hug Markus Zusak. And maybe cry just a little bit.

January 20, 2007

Whole Man

What graphics design genius came up with this logo?

Do Pussies Get Jet Lag?

Geez, and Gypsy and Cab thought Meowschwitz was bad.

Poor little Pumpkin.

Usually the meows on United come from the flight attendants ... hi Jimmy ;-).

(via Santiago Dreaming)

January 19, 2007

Prove Your Love

I got totally stressed out yesterday. The kind of stress where your head spins and your stomach's in knots and you just want to throw everything in the air and say, “fuck it.”

Have you ever been in a situation where you know you have to get something done and you're convinced you're lack the materials/resources to do it? And something very very bad will happen if it doesn't work out. It’s all so pleasant.

I was trying to pull papers together for the Home Office. Due to a reworking of their rules, I can't renew the HSMP visa I'm currently on. That leaves me having to change my status to a dependent of of L's work permit.

I don't like the word "dependent." Makes me feel like a failure, that I can't do it on my own. And, truth be told, in this instance, I can't and I guess I just have to get over that. I'm lucky to be in the situation I'm in. Why is it so hard to switch from feeling inadequate to grateful?

For me to get a new visa, we have to prove that we've been partnered for at least the last 2 years. Seems simple enough, since we've been together 15 years come June.

Seems is the key word.

We're not married. We don't share finances and we pay our own bills, so there are no joint bank accounts. We don't share ownership of the properties in NY or Provincetown, so there are no dual-named mortgages.

Sworn statements from friends and family aren't acceptable.

The Home Office wants "original documents, not copies" of utility bills, bank statements, insurance policies, etc. showing that we've been at the same address. That's great, but most of our statements are now electronically delivered. Sometimes reducing your carbon footprint doesn’t pay off, eh? The solicitors tell me the Home Office doesn't like laser printouts. Something about people being clever with Photoshop.

Maybe we're out of the norm, but we don't save old gas/electric/phone bills. Do you? (I do however have Playbills from shows I saw years ago, and business cards from people I don’t remember.)

I don't think it would be any easier had we gotten a civil partnership. Nor would the old "just marry one of the British women you know" chestnut work out. They'd still want evidence of cohabitation and interdependency for a minimum of the last 2 years.

The thing that bugs me is that for the last 14 years of living with Larry, it’s not been about the money or the real estate or the gas bill. It’s been about sharing a life and having a laugh and seeing each other through our own ups and downs. About being there when his mom and grandma died. It’s about continually rediscovering that that we hail from the same proverbial trailer park. It’s been about learning to dive together, about walking across the Sydney Bridge, and standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon. It’s about spending boring Saturdays alone in the flat, perfectly content to do nothing in each other’s company. It’s about going our own ways and finding each other at the end of the day. It’s about having a proper relationship.

But that’s not important for immigration. That’s not what constitutes a partnership. Nope. What’s important is a joint bank account and a shared tenancy agreement and whether or not we have enough money.

I think that, after several hours of going through files (and a few daymares about having to move back to America before I'm ready), and more than a few deep cleansing breaths, I have everything I need for a successful application. We won't know for certain until I get to New York in a couple weeks and submit it all to the Embassy. So that's two weeks of agida that I'm going to try not to have (but will be swirling around in my gut despite my "don't worry about what you can't control" meditations).

I know, I know ... history proves I've survived this process twice before. Once for my work permit and again for the HSMP. My nerves were twisted for both of those as well, and all worked out fine. There's no reason to think that this won't be just as successful.

But that's me, Bob the Virgo. I think (some say obsess) too much. And I worry. Often for naught.

January 18, 2007

The Dwarfy Chaperone

Whaaaaaaaat? Elaine Page will stumble along into the title role of last year's best Broadway musical when it debuts in the West End later this year.

While I'm not sure she's the perfect choice to replace Ms Leavel, she will sell tickets. And we do get the honour of seeing Bob Martin reprise his role as The Man in the Chair. Yay, yay, triple yay.

I'd be more excited, but I'm seeing Spring Awakening in 11 days.

Thank you for the news.

Big Brother's Watching Big Brother

You'd think there are more important things going on the world.

But no ... all eyes (including 2 countries' governments, the Hertfordshire police, and Ofcom) are on Shilpa Shetty and Jade Goody and the alleged racist bullying happening in the Celebrity Big Brother house.

From what I've seen, it looks more like a clash of the Queen Bees than anything worthy of governmenet intervention. You've got a Bollywood princess who come into the house, unknown to UK viewers, saying she's used to being waited on and having an entourage. Let's face it, she's there to raise her UK profile ... and now she's on the cover of most of today's (and yesterday's) newspapers. Job done.

And then you've got Jade, who's a dictionary definition of class and erudite education. She's big and loud and brash and makes a living being the (allegedly) lovable dolt who's become rich beyond her dreams saying stupid things on the back of her non-win on non-celebrity Big Brother.

These two women would probably not get along in the best of conditions. And now it's becoming a diplomatic interest. Ridiculous.

It's a television program about a house full of none-too-bright D-list celebrites, people. Get over it.

And good for Endemol ... 24 hours ago, according to a BBC correspondnet in India, no one in the country had no idea what Big Brother was. That's all changed now.

There are other more important issues going on, aren't there? Just look at today's stories on BBC News 24 ... TV licensing fees to rise! There's gusty wind and all over Great Britain!

UPDATE: Carphone Warehouse has just suspended their sponsorship of CBB. That's a pretty big financial decsion. They're walking away from the row, whether or not there's actually any racisim or not. I imagine, like most of the other phone companies, they've got a large Asian client base (not to mention staff), and don't feel the risk of losing revenue/goodwill is worth the risk of advertising on the house of mad zedlisters.

UPDATE 2: The CEO of Channel 4 spins says racsim exists in the world and CBB has done a service to society by triggering a wider debate about that. They can't with certainty say if remarks were racially motivated or just part of class differences. Channel 4 has intervened with Jade, "and you can watch that on tonight's program." Genius!

He also says they've talked with Shilpa and she doesn't believe it's racially motivated. "You'll see that on tontight's show."

He also said since Jade and Shilpa are up for eviction this week, the British public will get a chance to speak up for who they believe is correct, at 50p per call. Again, genius! "You decide, we'll make money."

Maybe they just need to bring in the cast of Avenue Q to remind us that "everyone's a little bit greedy racist."

January 17, 2007

In Training

Today on the tube platform, I realized I'm in training for more than just the 2007 London Flora Marathon (have you sponsored me yet? ... thanks if you have).

I pulled my current tome out of my bag, and thought ... "Key-rist, why am I hauling this thing around?"

The Book Thief
is a sometimes happy, sometimes harrowing novel that has sailed its way across the pond after a 38-week long ride riding atop the New York Times bestseller list (children's chapter books).

It's a 580-page epic about a pre-teen book-stealing orphan in 1940s Nazi Germany, narrated by Death himself. A real pick-me-up that's rather difficult to put down. Is this really what 7th-graders are reading?

I carry it with me because I want to know what happens next to Liesel and her foster parents Hans and Rosa. I want to see if her friend Rudy will ever get the kiss he keeps asking for. I'm nervous to discover what's in store for Max, the seemingly ill-fated fist fighter who hides in the basement of Liesel's bleak haus. It's all going to be devastating. I mean I'm not naive ... it's narrated by Death, remember?

And so, by lugging this would-be children's book of doorstop around, just what is it I've realized I'm training for?

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
, of course.

Sully's from Surrey?

For reasons unbeknownst to me, I've heard Andrew Sullivan speak for the first time in my life. Twice in the past few days.

What's with his accent?


Also, on the same program (Blogwars: Storyville target="_blank" ), I was introduced to Michelle Malkin. Anybody know her? I'm thinking me no likey. At. All.

January 16, 2007

Monkey on a Pedestal

On the cover this week's OK! magazine (which I have next to The Economist, Runner's World, and, well, Heat ... don't judge) les Beckhams say, "In America you're on a pedestal — they don't put you down."

Bless. Nope, Americans won't put you down, Dave. Until you go on Oprah and jump on sofas. Talk to your new BFF.

But wait. Apparently that's just a pull quote on the cover. Looking inside (no airbrushing here, just the facts), we find what David actually said was Americans ...

... put sportsmen up on a pedestal. They don't try to knock them down. And that's the great thing — to be respected by the whole country. It's so patriotic.

I'm confused. Does David think will Americans be patriotic by respecting him, or will he feel patriotic to the US by being respected? Did he feel patriotic to Spain while playing for Real Madrid?

I guess what with all the Hollywood schmoozing and Thetan pre-clearing, he hasn't had time to chat up Mark McGwire about not being knocked down.

What about poor posh Victoria (who will "miss puking up M&S food")? She's not a sportsman. She's not even Sporty Spice. Where is her pedestal? Fortunately, she's skinny enough to not need a very large one — maybe just the tiniest of Malibu Barbie ottomans. Oh, wait, she'll be really busy taking care of her kids. Not too worry.

Tuesday 200 - #28

Grandma settled into the pew and pulled out her knitting.

Pastor Sullivan cleared his throat, looked her way, and, unacknowledged, began. “We’re here today to celebrate the life of Louis Shafer …”

Click, click, click. The blue yarn wrapped around her fingers matched the veins of her surprisingly nimble hands. She didn’t look up, or drop a stitch, for the entire service.

“You okay?” I whispered.

“Of course, dear. I spent the last 57 years with him, and the last way I want to remember Grandpa is lying in that godforsaken box. You’ll be minding Winston?” She never cared for Winston.

Sometimes it’s just easier to preoccupy yourself.

A month later, and I'm still not sleeping. How will they find me? Curled up in my favorite chair, remote in my hand like they found Lou? Alone in a hospital bed, tubes snaking from every orifice, the beep beep beep of machines keeping slow cadence with my gradual demise? Perhaps beneath a cross-town bus I didn’t see because something shiny caught my eye.

I lie there wondering, still as a corpse lest I disturb Winston, who’s blissfully snoring atop my legs, chasing the occasional rabbit.

Tomorrow I’m buying Knitting for Dummies.

:: :: ::

What's a Tuesday 200?

Last week's Tuesday 200.

And So it Begins

Tonight's the first Life Clubs workshop at B2. Looks like I'll have a pretty good turnout, but there's always room for more. My goal is to have 10-12 people every week.

It's from 7-8:30 (email me for the address, bob AT bobzyeruncle.com) and most everything you need to know is here or here.

And the new year officially begins. Yay.

January 15, 2007

Shrinky Dinking the Brand Name

Looks like Citigroup (fka Citibank) is going to be the next in a series of companies to shorten its brand name. It very well may soon be known as just Citi.

Apple Computers, Inc. is becoming Apple, Inc. Federal Express is now simply FedEx.

As we aproach the four-year anniversary (I know!) of Bob's Yer Uncle, maybe it's time to rebrand. How about Bobz?

Or would that confuse potential new readers with Bratz?

January 14, 2007

Bloghuh? 7

Don't know the drill? Click here and you will.

:: :: ::

He’s my final befuddler of the series.

Why do people isolate themselves?

When I lived in New Orleans, I knew people who hadn’t left the French Quarter for over 4 years. For those of you not familiar, the Quarter spans a relatively small 78 (13x6) square-block area. These are not big (ie cross-town in Manhattan) blocks. There are (well, were) plenty of lovely neighborhoods nearby: the Garden District, City Park, the Lakefront. "I have everything I need, right here in the Quarter," my friend would say. I can see staying in your own area, especially for a couple of weeks at a time .. but to not leave for over 4 years?

People were like that in New York as well. “I never go above 14th Street,” friends would boast (or 23rd, or 42nd, or pick your own number based on work/home/friends). So many amazing neighborhoods with so much to see and do, and yet people won’t leave their hood.

It's not just about cities and neighborhoods. I'm amazed by the fact that so many people in the US have never been to New York City. Or Los Angeles. Or to the Grand Canyon.

I'm shocked that in 2005, only 21% of Americans had passports. That was a record high.

As most of you know, we now live in Central London. We hung out in Soho for the first few months and started getting bored. Same crowds, same music, same blah blah. “Who wants to come to Vauxhall with us?’ we'd ask. So many were quick to say “Oh no, that’s south of the river” or “Gosh, I’ve never been there, what’s it like?” These are people who call themselves Londoners and have lived here for most of their lives. I understand there’s a certain security in going to same place over and over … you know what to expect, and you know who you’ll see. It becomes your local. And, sure, sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name.

But Norm and Cliff were really kind of sad, weren’t they?

I'm sure people feel safe in what they know, and it’s hard leave our comfort zones. But I get antsy. Maybe I just have terminal wanderlust, or geographical ADD, or just easily submit to my neurotic nagging whims of “I’m probably missing something somewhere else.”

Don’t get me wrong, I can happily stay inside my flat for a couple of days. I love the security of knowing my surroundings. There are eateries I could frequent once a week for months to come and be perfectly content. I love hanging out with the usual suspects at the usual places. But there’s so much more.

I like getting on a bus or a train and finding a new neighborhood. I’ve enjoyed finding Fowey and Frome. I’m eager to get to Lake country, to wander through western Scotland, and to see more of the Cornwall coast. And while I don’t particularly want to live in Elephant & Castle, there’s at least interesting restaurant there.

Exploring is good, and if nothing else, it gives you perspective on the places you're either a) bored of or b) so enamored with that you think you never need to leave.

:: :: ::

Special thanks to Blue Witchy for conjuring up this week of mystification. It’s been good to find some new bloggers … to wander out of my own cyber-neighborhood, as it were. I hope you new bobzyeruncle readers will stick around.

Read more about things that mystify other participating Bloghuh? bloggers this week:

Alley Kat
Blue Witch
bob's yer uncle
Changing Places
In the Aquarium
Kitchen Witch
La Que Sabe
London Daily Photo
Pewari's Prattle
Purple Pen
Quixotic Evil
Santiago Dreaming
Tabula Rasa
Tiger Feet
Who Knows Where Thoughts Come From?

Who Wants a Brown Wedgie?

I've just returned from a game of Trivial Pursuit at the Chitty Street Geriatric Centre. I was assured this was "regular" Trivial Pursuit (which I'm dreadful at anyway), as opposed to one of those newfangled specialty "Doctor Who", "Coronation Street", or "MPs and Rentboys" versions.

It was in fact the most recent general knowledge version. Of a sort. We played the new England (and I don't mean Massachusetts) version. I did not fare well at all. I'm not sure if the questions were more difficult, or just more trivial.

In my quest for never-ending assimilation, I must now venture to Hamley's and purchase my own game, for study nightly play at home.

I do, however, now know what retromingent means, and it has nothing little to do with Geri Halliwell in the 80s.

Speaking of board games .... bonus points for anyone who can tell me if the original Monopoly's highest-valued property was Mayfair or Boardwalk. I could look it up, but tonight's game has left my brain addled.

January 13, 2007

Bloghuh? 6

Don't know the drill? Click here and you will.

:: :: ::

It confounds me when people take charge of something, ask for input from trusted, experienced, professional advisors, and then just do whatever the hell they wanted to do in the first place.

Whether it be 20,000 more troops or a troupe of dancing dogs.

If you don't want help, then don't ask for it. And make certain you take ownership of your impending catastrophe.

:: :: ::

Read more about things that mystify other participating Bloghuh? bloggers this week:

Alley Kat
Blue Witch
bob's yer uncle
Changing Places
In the Aquarium
Kitchen Witch
La Que Sabe
London Daily Photo
Pewari's Prattle
Purple Pen
Quixotic Evil
Santiago Dreaming
Tabula Rasa
Tiger Feet
Who Knows Where Thoughts Come From?

Deal Me In

I've just learned that Grandma's 90th birthday will have a playing card theme. (Bunny loves her Pinnochle, Bridge, Canasta, and Euchre).

Now that Jade's mum is out of Celebrity Big Brother, I'm hoping she can go with me. She'd be aces ... who needs one-eyed Jacks when you have a one-armed Jackiey.

There are deckfulls of other surprises in store for the night, but I'm sworn to keep a poker face and play my hand close to my chest. No doubt, however that it'll trump anything Blackpool can deal out.

At least I know what to wear. I'm whipping up a cocktail-length version of this, all in red (Grandma's favorite color) Bicycle cards, with poker chip earrings and matching necklace.


I'm flush with excitement.

(Notice how I didn't make any ante jokes? What with Clare only being gone a few weeks, I thought I'd pass on that.)

Damien? Party of One?

Ah, there's nothing more pleasant than the dulcit tones of an argumentative toddler having a tantrum outside your flat. Breaks up the monotony of an otherwise blissfully quiet Saturday afternoon of reading and writing.

I'm sure a car alarm will go off shortly.

January 12, 2007

Bloghuh? 5

Don't know the drill? Click here and you will.

:: :: ::

To quote the immortal word of Nancy Kerrigan, "Whyyyyyyyyyyyyy?"

a literary masterpiece

People actually bought, and presumably read, this. I assume it's less painful than a lead pipe to the shins, but one can't be too sure.

:: :: ::

Read more about things that mystify other participating Bloghuh? bloggers this week:

Alley Kat
Blue Witch
bob's yer uncle
Changing Places
In the Aquarium
Kitchen Witch
La Que Sabe
London Daily Photo
Pewari's Prattle
Purple Pen
Quixotic Evil
Santiago Dreaming
Tabula Rasa
Tiger Feet
Who Knows Where Thoughts Come From?

January 11, 2007

Back on the Chain Gang

I'm forever leaving the door unlocked. I used to do it in NY, 'cause we had a doorman. I never lock up when I'm in Ptown — it's Ptown for goodness sake. Here in B2, I often don't take a key with me, since the front door's on a code. I only have one key these days (two if you count my bike lock, which I only carry prn). Being keyless is being free.

Two nights ago, on my way to a big empty bed (Larry's in NY on very important MD business) I walked past the front door. Not only did I check to see if it was locked, but I put the chain guard on.

I never put the chain on. What was that about?

About an hour later, lying in bed, I remembered being 7 or 8 years old, and KNOWING there was a burglar in the house. When I was little, I was forever being scared to death that there was a burglar in the house. Sometimes he was under my bed. Sometimes in the hallway outside my bedroom. Sometimes he was in my closet, waiting for me to go to sleep. He didn’t to hurt me, as long as I didn't see him. But if he saw me moving, or thought I was awake, then I might be able to identify him. That would be problematic … if that happened, he’d need to “get” me.

So I'd lie there, trying to go to sleep. Pretending to be asleep. I’d start seeing things move in the dark, or hearing rustling, and would end up fighting back panicky tears until I gave in and yelled for one of my folks.

Mom would eventually come and tell me nothing was wrong. One night, I was so convinced there was someone in our house that she took me, sobbing and nauseous with fear, on a tour and made me look under every piece of furniture in the entire house. It was torture. So silly thinking back on it, I mean what kind of burglar could fit under a sofa? Well, actually ... quite a good and scary one if we ponder it. On the other hand, maybe not so scary, if they were more Borrowers than Burglars. But I was 7. What did I know? I probably hadn't even read The Borrowers yet.

There was one night, not wanting to bother my parents again, that I called the neighbor to tell her there was someone in our house. Her husband was a California Highway Patrolman (Officer Rude ... no lie, that was his name). I guess we're lucky we didn't end up with flashing patrol cars outside the house. I would have been paranoid *and* grounded. Mrs. Rude came over to the house, waking up my folks and I was sent back to bed, assured that we were intruder-free.

Anyway, I was lying in bed the other night and, while fairly convinced that no one was in the house, still had that odd feeling of 'what if' as the hours passed by and sleep didn't come. I mean, there are stabbers out there, aren't there?

So last night, I chained the door again.

After watching W's speech, I was lying in the bed, and remembered a recurring dream I used to have back in the early 70s, when I wasn't worried about burglars. It was a nightmare about being in war. I was petrified that I'd have to go to Viet Nam and crawl around in a muddy jungle and get shot at. They’d make me be in the army. Should 8-year olds be dreaming about such things?

Half asleep in a post-Bushian fog, I had to remind myself that I'm not going to get drafted. I won't have to go to Iraq. And that the door is chained and there are no burglars in the house.

And tonight? Well, I chained the door before I sat down to write this. It's way too quiet in here, except for my tinnitus and the footsteps I hear every now and again. I'd blame those on the cats, but they're each sleeping in the chairs to my right and left. Maybe there are ghosts in the flat. Wouldn't that be cool? Well yeah, if they were nice ghosts.

Surely I'm not the only one to have had irrational childhood fears. And surely I'm not the only one who occasionally revisits them.

What are yours?

Bloghuh? 4

Don't know the drill? Click here and you will.

:: :: ::

It mystifies me that on November 2, 2004, just over half of the country where I was born re-elected that buffoon to be their leader.

Don't you just hate it when non-political people mouth off about politics. Well, here I go ...

Couldn't sleep last night (again), and turned on the tv. W's speech was lined up in about 20 minutes, so I thought I'd watch. Surely that's as good as an Ambien or two.

I was wrong. It didn't make me sleepy. It made me angry and scared.

It wasn't so much of a speech as very stiff, somewhat grim (perhaps he seemed a little frightened?) "here's my next not-so-brilliant idea" reading off a teleprompter. The sad thing is, you *know* he's had to of had media coaching and tons of rehearsal. And that was the best he could do? They moved him from his desk in the Oval Office to a more informal podium in the Library. One of the commentators said this was because he felt more natural there (with books?) and would better connect to the American people in a more casual setting.

Did any of you that watched have feelings of trust, faith or emotional connection? Did any of you sit back in your chair and feel safe and proud that here, on the world's television screens, was the man with the plan?

He's just not a good speaker. That said, he did seem to know almost all the words. But come on, this isn't your 7-year old's school play where you give them a standing ovation just for trying. This isn't even high school debate club (where I'm guessing he'd lose 9 out of 10 times). This is, some would say, the leader of the alleged free world.

He's not listening the voters. He's not listening to his advisors. He's sending in 20,000 new kids to get shot up, when his newly appointed general's plan said they'd need at least 10 times that many to secure Baghdad. He's making a last-ditch crap shoot and placing the responsibility on Maliki's government, which has proven itself to be not up to the task.

There's no easy solution, to be sure, but this seems like a half-assed "give me one more chance" effort. If it fails, he'll be able to blame Iraq's Prime Minister. And if it succeeds ... well, he never said what success would be did he? He just said "victory will not look like the ones our fathers and grandfathers achieved."

I wonder if Mr. Bush has any idea what victory would look like?

:: :: ::

Read more about things that mystify other participating Bloghuh? bloggers this week:

Blue Witch
bob's yer uncle
Changing Places
In the Aquarium
Kitchen Witch
La Que Sabe
London Daily Photo
Purple Pen
Quixotic Evil
Santiago Dreaming
Tabula Rasa
Who Knows Where Thoughts Come From?

January 10, 2007

Bloghuh? 3

Find out more about, or join Blue Witch's group blog project here.

:: :: ::

Today’s raison du flummox is a 2-parter concerning a) pricing disparity and b) catalogue availability at your friendly neighborhood iTunes store.

I’m sure there are complicated reasons behind all this, including legal mumbo jumbo about licensing and entertainment contracts as well as complex currency exchange formulas, but to my oh-so-simple mind these things just seem absurd.

Why is it that the exact same song costs £0.79 in the UK and $0.99 in the US? If we do a little simple math, using xe.com’s current exchange rate of 1 GBP = 1.93740 USD, that makes the UK single worth $1.53, a little over 50% more expensive. Conversely, if a Brit were to buy a song from the US iTunes store (if they could, more on that in a bit), they’d only be paying 51p vs. the 79p that it’s listed for here.

I realize that international markets can’t be priced solely around exchange rates. But really … when was the last time the pound was worth 1.5 dollars*? It just doesn’t seem right. The freshly dropped Apple TV (£199UK ($386) vs. $299US) is another example. And, if I may quickly digress, cinema pricing is ridiculous. If I went to see “Perfume” today in Times Square, it’d cost $11.00 (£5.68). That same film in Leicester Square is £11.75 ($22.74). Btw, if you were to meet me in St. Louis, it'd cost us $8 (£4.13).

Maybe pricing has to do with economies of scale? In terms of projected sales, they are bound to turn over more units (or get more box office proceeds) in the US due to a larger population of consumers. Or maybe the MacCountants know that Apple TV is less relevant in the UK because (and this leads us to my second point), there’s hardly any legal video to watch on your computer (or video iPod), let alone stream to your telly.

Why aren’t videos, films, and tv shows available on UK iTunes? Seems to me people (companies, artists, agents, etc.) are losing good revenue by not letting the UK in on the entertainment bounty.
If someone in the US wants to go to a whole new world and listen to Katie and Peter croak croon Endless Love (and I’m certain such masochists exist) or Leona stealing singing Kelly Clarkson’s “A Moment Like This"), why stop them? If I want to buy the newly remastered Dreamgirls OCR (ooh, and I am telling you I do), or Spring Awakening, then I should be able to do that.

Oh sure, I could go to Amazon. Amazon doesn’t care if I’m buying from the UK or the US. Or I could scour the web for torrents and illegal downloads. Or someone in the States could call a UK friend and have them buy and ship the UK-only contraband like Girls Aloud. (heh heh, Girls Aloud = contra band).

So, in a nutshell, why don’t the folks at Apple create a more universal pricing structure and make a little extra money by opening up their stores to a global market?

All that said, I love living in London, and will (almost) gladly pay the extra price to enjoy my time here, even if it doesn’t make cents.

:: :: ::

Read more about things that mystify other participating Bloghuh? bloggers this week:

Blue Witch
bob's yer uncle
Changing Places
In the Aquarium
Kitchen Witch
La Que Sabe
London Daily Photo
Purple Pen
Quixotic Evil
Santiago Dreaming
Who Knows Where Thoughts Come From?

* I just looked it up and it seems that it's only been about 5 years. Wow.

January 9, 2007

Tuesday 200 - #27

“We didn’t have PoKeMonster or this Ninendonuts," Grandpa said, cracking open a can of PBR. "We had marbles."

"Just play, grandpa." The old guy’s keeping up with me on Mario Kart. Unbelievable.

"Right-oh, Chaddy boy." He tapped out a Winston with one hand, and tapped his console with the other. Shit. He passed me.

“Ha ha! Oh sure, you kids can swing a sword with your thumb, but that can’t beat winning all of that jagged-toothed bully Sal Moonington's cat's eyes. I had the best shooter ... looked just like a glass eye."

“Sure you did,” I rolled my eyes. He just won’t shut up. Totally like mom.

Grandma brought in a couple of Barq's.

"Remember Sal?" he asked Grandma.

"Oh yes, nice smile. I quite liked him."

"You didn't like him so much when he’d lost all his loot, did ya? Nope Chad, girls always like a winner. A winner with a big, full pouch, right Elly?”

"Yes, dear," Grandma said, settling down next to him with her knitting.

"That's why I started dating your grandma, y’know. She could hold a sack of balls like nobody's business."

"Melvin! That’ll be quite enough," Grandma said, smacking him on the head.

:: :: ::

What is this Tuesday 200 thing?

Last week's Tuesday 200.

Press Clippings

A certain new MD called something like Laurent De Noir is in the FT and the Wall Street Journal (but not the European version I bought) today.

He is very excited. He never thought his name would be in the paper without being on an obituary page. Or maybe a police blotter.

Barclays bought a full-page ad and included headshots of their new big wigs. I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

UPDATE: His MD-ness just called, arriving into NY several hours behind schedule, due to delays on the ground and then strong headwinds. Apparently there were "troubles with BA," and he got bumped to first class. Not business, mind you, but first. Hate when that happens ... to other people.

UPDATE 2: Have had a few emails/phone calls about the newspaper mentions. Who knew he had such a fan club? The piece is in an advertisement placed by the umbrella-holding company that never sleeps, so you won't be finding it online. It's on page 27 of the UK FT, and I think on page 9 of the US WSJ. Not sure about placement in other regional editions.

Bloghuh? 2

Find out more about, or join Blue Witch's group blog project here.

:: :: ::

Today’s mystification regards the rebranding of a collection of property management companies I’d interviewed with. They are in the process of changing all of their individual business names from fairly well-known entities to that of the holding company … the name of which means “of the hedgehog family; like, or characteristic of, a hedgehog.”

I asked the head of marketing about the relevance of a hedgehog to a one-stop-shop for property management. Seems she was a bit befuddled as well. “Well that’s’ the question, isn’t it?” she said. Apparently one of the senior exec’s wife thinks hedgehogs are really cute, so that’s what they called the group.

So now, years later, they want their 7,000+ employees, many of which are loyal to the companies which hired them, as well as their tens of thousands of clients, to realign themselves to the image of a small, spiky, nocturnal creature that can roll into a ball. All 'cause the first lady liked the name. How’s that for market testing?

One can see the challenges in making brand associations. However, I think I found one. A hedgehog’s gestation period is 40-58 days. I suggested that if they could turn around a new property acquisition, or roll out a new process in the same time period, that they’d have a logical, marketable fit.

All too mysterious that I didn’t get the job.

:: :: ::

Read more about things that mystify other participating Bloghuh? bloggers this week:

Blue Witch
bob's yer uncle
Changing Places
Kitchen Witch
La Que Sabe
Purple Pen
Quixotic Evil
Santiago Dreaming
Who Knows Where Thoughts Come From?

January 8, 2007

Bridge Club, Book Club, Running Club ... Life Club

As many of you know, I've been attending Life Clubs for several months now, and they've been great.

I've gone through the training, and am psyched to announce that I'll be starting up my own set of workshops on Tuesday nights, from 7:00-8:30pm here at the flat. They begin 16 Jan. If you'd like directions, give a shout.

The least you need to know ...

  • www.lifeclubs.co.uk

  • Weekly workshops that are fun, help you focus, and move you forward towards your ideal life

  • £15 a pop, or buy 4 and get a 5th one on us; cheaper than a film and popcorn in Central London (and probably more entertaining)

  • Each session is different, dynamic and interactive

  • Come to one and have a laugh. If you hate it, I'll buy you a drink and give you your money back

  • They're a great way to start the New Year

  • Please forward this to any friends you might be interested

Also, if you're interested but don't find Marylebone convenient, there are any number of other locations in London and throughout the UK.

That sounds interesting, Bob, but I'd like to know more.

Okay then … the unofficial FAQ after the jump.

Just what is a Life Club?

It's a weekly 90-minute meeting where like-minded people get together, take a snapshot of their life, examine their achievements, and then focus on and create simple goals on that session's topic (eg, De-stressing, Maximizing Your Time, Getting Motivated, Embracing Change). I haven't had a bad one yet, and I usually have a good laugh.

How many sessions are there?

Right now there are 30 topics, with 20 more being created. There's little chance you'll be repeating topics, but even if you do it will be with a different dynamic and perspective. With training and other workshops, I've been through a couple topics 4 times now … each workshop is always a little different.

Who creates the topics?

Nina Grunfeld is the founder of Life Clubs. She is the author of several books, including The Big Book of Me and the hot-off-the-press The Big Book of Us. You may have seen her weekly column in The Daily Telegraph, where's she's been their self-help guru for some time now. She's also been published in several magazines, including "Men's Health", "Cosmopolitan", and "Psychologies."

I met Nina a few months ago after buying The Big Book of Me. I enjoyed the book and was interested in her idea of the workshops. Ireally clicked with her, the material, and the people she's attracted. I'm now working on a business plan for Corporate Life Clubs (if you have corporate contacts who might be interested, call me!) as well as starting my own Tuesday night sessions. It's good stuff.

Do I have to attend every week?

No. Just come when you can. You do get a groovy present (to show the boss and kids) for every 5 you come to. And, of course, the more you come the better you'll feel.

Is this some kind of freakish cult?

No, but the Scientology center is just down the road, if that's what you're looking for. Tell Mr. Cruise I said hey.

Is this some kind of group therapy?

Nope, sorry. As many of you probably know, I've been there, done that – and this isn't like that at all. It's a simple guided check-in with pre-tested topics and questions. Each workshop is geared so that you decided what part of your world you want to work on, so everybody in the group comes away with a their own individual outcomes.

I've worked through about half of the topics, and seen the rest. There's always something where I get a fresh insight. Sometimes profound, sometimes notsomuch … but often it's the little flashes of "ah ha!" that move you in the right direction. At least that's how it's been for me.

Therapy's all about looking backwards and trying to fix things. Life Clubs aren't about being broken … they're about figuring out where you want to be and finding tools to get there.

Do I have to bare embarrassing secrets to the group?

Not at all. 90% of the time, you're working with a partner, and that partner will most likely be someone you don't know. You only talk to the whole group if you choose to and it's not about uncovering "what's wrong" or delving into your dirty little secrets. (see above re: therapy)

Everything's confidential. Unlike the rest of London, there's no CCTV at my place, and what happens at Life Club stays at Life Club.

Nina based the one-on-one concept around her hitchhiking travels in the 70s. I love this. "You'd just get in the car with people you didn't know and tell them things. There's a certain comfort in talking to strangers," she says. I've found this to be very true. Except when I start chatting up strangers on the Tube and they look at me like I'm next in line to be sectioned … but that's a different story.

Bonus – I bet none of you know any of my hitchhiking stories. Come to a club and I'll tell you one afterwards.

Nina sounds like a trip -- hitchhiker turned author turned "Telegraph" guru. Can I meet her?

Of course, she'd love it. Let me know and I'll put you in touch with her, or contact her via www.lifeclubs.co.uk
She's also running my Jan 30 workshop, so come then to see her in action.

What do other people think about them?

Recent comments from Life Club attendees include:

'I was dreading having to confess everything, but it's not like that'

'I didn't know what to expect, but I certainly didn't think it was going to be this much fun'

'It's been great being this honest, getting stuff off my chest and learning about myself'

I still have questions.

Call me or drop me an email (bob@[NOSPAM]lifeclubs.co.uk)

We now return to our regularly scheduled blogging.


This is my first entry in a little group blogging project started by Blue Witch. For more details, or to join in, click here.

:: :: ::

I understand occasional pronunciation differences between the UK and the US. Po-tay-toe, po-tah-toe. Whatever.

What mystifies me is when international brand names have different pronunciations in different markets. The one that always strikes me (ouch!) is Pantene shampoo. Those of you reading this in the UK will have just seen a word that rhymes with hen or zen. Stateside readers will be rhyming said haircare product (which is basically Ivory shampoo with a different dye and perfume and an astronomical markup) with keen or sheen.

It's spelled the same in both countries. It's produced by the same company (Procter & Gamble) and it's packaged fairly similarly. It's geared towards the same target market. And yet, in company-controlled advertising, it's pronounced differently. WHY?

And why does it bother me? I guess with Pantene, it’s because I used to work on the product. Many many moons ago, in my pre-avuncular days, I was still living in Cincinnati and had a long-term contract job at P&G, where I was the Assistant Brand Manager (in packaging) for Pert, Ivory and Pantene shampoos. In fact, just before I followed a boy down to Houston, I was offered a full-time job at P&G. Oy. Imagine if I’d stayed in Ohio and become a Proctoid. Houston wasn’t the best experience I’d ever had in my life, but at least it got me to where I am today.

So anyway, brand names. Adidas is another one. In the States, we’ve always said ah-dee-des (accent on the dee). Over here, I hear ah-dee-dah (accent on the ah).

I would think, having been in the brand business, that companies would promote a preferred pronunciation of their product. I’m flummoxed as to why this hasn’t happened.

:: :: ::

Read more about things that mystify other participating Bloghuh? bloggers this week:

Blue Witch
bob's yer uncle
Kitchen Witch
Purple Pen
Santiago Dreaming
Who Knows Where Thoughts Come From

January 7, 2007

This Little Piggy Went to the Movies

Last night I saw something I've never seen before.

I was at the movies, settling in to watch A Prairie Home Companion. These two guys came into our row, shuffled past us, and made themselves comfortable a few seats down. Maybe a little too comfortable?

The tall one proceeded to take off his jacket, scarf, and jumper. Then he untied his trainers, and took them off. And then came the socks. I thought he might be changing out of something wet, as it had rained at some point in the afternoon. But no, he just plopped his bare feet on top of his shoes and snuggled in next to his date.

The movie started, and there were empty rows in front of us. So barefoot boy and his boyfriend climbed over a row of seats, and then another one, ending up two rows in front of us. Another snuggle, a little snog (ah, cute ... when was the last time I made out at the movies?). And then barefoot boy sits back and plops his naked feet up on the back of the seat in front of him.

England ... it's so civilized.

I really enjoyed the film, especially Meryl and Lily in their backstage scenes. Not the best Robert Altman (RIP) film ever, but a really fun night at the cinema. Bare feet and all.

:: :: ::

Speaking of feet, mine are holding up very well, thanks for asking. A 7-mile run today ended the first week of official training for the London Flora Marathon. I got a charity entry, and I (and hopefully you) will be supporting the Terrence Higgins Trust. I'm committed to raise £1,000. The marathon is April 22, and my goal is to beat 4 hours 30 minutes. That's about 30 minutes off my personal best, which I ran in Chicago a few years back.

What better way to start the year than with a little philanthropy? Click here for my fundraising page, and drop a few tax-deductible dollars/pounds my way. Thanks in advance for your generosity.

January 6, 2007

Governor Dearest

In the world of "things going awry" disaster movies, there are certain indicators as to whether or not we should take the scenario seriously.

For instance, Bill Pullman as POTUS in Independence Day? You know you'll need a grain or two of salt.

Tonight Larry's catching up on part two of Pandemic (it's so ahead of its time that IMDB lists it as "in production" – perhaps it's only in previews here?). Who could be more believable as a government official leading her constituency through a crisis?

Faye Dunaway as Governor of California.

I noted that surely it must be camp, but Larry assures me (he watched part one) that it is compelling drama. He’s even staying up past his bedtime to finish it out.

As for compelling camp, Ugly Betty (finally) debuted here last night, and I believe Britain has every right to sue for humor deprivation. Then again, we have Jade and Jackiey (sic) on Celebrity Big Brother. And yes, yes, I know, we have Katie/Jordan and Peter, and Alan Carr as Gay-9 on The Friday Night Project did make me laugh ... so there's plenty of comedy here.

Anyway, I rarely enjoy pilot episodes, but Ugly Betty was spot on, and I'm told it only gets better.

My two favorite lines from last night:

1. "Are you the before?"

2. "Chamomile?"

I fear I may need to watch the whole season online when I go back to the States in a few weeks. Delayed gratification was never one of my strong suits.

January 5, 2007

MIA: Morpheus

Can't sleep.

This is becoming an all-too regular occurrence: go to bed sometime after midnight, toss and turn for a half-hour, come back to the living room, read or watch tv, fall asleep on the sofa around 3 or 4, wake up in the morning and then go to bed, where I dream outrageous dreams until 10 or 11. It's still the RDA of 8ish hours, just not as restful as I'd like. Then I'm tired around 5 or 6, but when midnight rolls around I'm wide awake and my mind is thinking of a million things.

And me without any Ambien. How did that happen?

Here's the worst thing: all I really want is a Diet Coke ... which I know would just keep me up. Haven't had one all day (a rare day indeed), nor have I had any coffee. Only one cup of tea with breakfast. So basically I'm caffeine free (a rarer day indeed), craving cola and worried about not sleeping (since I have to be somewhere in the morning), which makes me all the less prone to fall asleep.

Okay then, kettle's on. Chamomile/lavender tea awaits with a new book, The Dream Thief. Erm, no ¬-- how Freudian was that? My new novel is The Book Thief. No spoilers please.

But isn’t a dream thief a really good idea for a story? Hmmmmmmm …..

January 4, 2007

Slice of Life

The police haven't been here for days now. Things seem so boring.

There was a stabbing in the neighborhood last Friday night. We woke up on Saturday and the square was cordoned off, with CSI Marylebone walking up the street looking for evindence. Later that day, a nice young constable came up to ask us if we'd seen or heard anything. We hadn't.

That's the second stabbing in a month here. We asked if there would be extra police on patrol, but he said no. The one a few weeks ago (3 men stabbed, one died) was "just a one-off, these things happen. But last night's was strange, so forensics is out looking."

Apparently the guy got stabbed down the road (on Edgeware, if you know the hood), and wandered 3-4 blocks to our block, where he found someone and called for help. At about 9:30 pm. Weird that you could walk four blocks with a stab wound and not see anybody or get help before that.

Maybe that's the strange part.

January 2, 2007

That 70s High School

With Max turning 16, I was journaling about what I remember from my 16th year. Trying to remember friends I had, teacher's names, cars I drove, cool things I didn't do, etc. And then, of course, one starts Googling.

I didn't have this teacher. In 1974 (when this photo was taken), there was only one high shcool in our district. She must have stayed at Anderson after the split. I think she's fantastic. She must have taught art, right?


Heather VanDeVenter. You just can't make up names like that.

Let the Sun Shine

Okay, holidays are over ... bring on the sun. I used to think of myself as such a night person, but now once the sun goes down I think it's really late and time for bed.

Fortunately, the days are getting longer ...


Unfortunately, at only a couple minutes a day, it takes awhile until London actually gets an evening of sunshine. It won't be until March 13 that the sun stays up past 6pm.

:: :: ::

And speaking of days being short ... young Maxwell makes 16 today. Just sixteen years ago today my sister was writhing in pain, poor darling. That is until her hero, the anesthesiologist, came in to adminster the epidural.

She was wearing a band around her belly which measured the contractions. She's been suffering quite badly through levels 4 and 5. I stood behind her nurse, squirming, when the meter read 8 and a half. That's gotta hurt. Karen was lying on the bed, talking to her husband, seeming twice as calm with twice the pain.

"Oh my god," I whispered, nudging the nurse.

"Shhh," she said. The contraction ended, according to the machine, and the nurse said, "Sweetie, you just had a little contraction. Did you feel anything?"

Little? It was twice as bad as the one 20 minutes ago when I thought she'd die.

Karen rolled her head over to our side, and in an unusually serene voice said, "I. Didn't. Feel. Dick."

She's classy, my baby sister.

Happy Birthday, Max. Now hurry up and get your driving license!

Tuesday 200 - #26

We’re on the dogleg at Sheesacooquin Greens. Daddy says it’s his lucky hole.

"Seems like your lucky hole is Charmaine," my sister mutters and wipes the drizzle from her forehead.

Remember Charmaine? Wife #3, Preference #9 1/2? Semi-pro bowler? Won Lotto after she'd conned Daddy into marrying her? She’s having a pee behind the trees.

“Be right there,” she squeals. “Go on play.” A monster umbrella appears with Char’s bank’s logo on it.

“Put that down, Char,” Daddy tells her. “Right about here’s where Snuffy snuffed it during the storm of 98.”

"Oh please, lightening never strikes twi …" KER-RACK!

You know in cartoons when things get electrocuted? You see skeletons and hair frizzing out?

That ain’t what happens to Charmaine.

She just sorta flashes and explodes. Ain’t pretty. Then again, she wasn’t much to start with. About 6 feet away from the sizzling heap of Charred Char, there’s this egg-shaped marble.

Daddy picks it up and wipes it on his shirt. "Did ya know Charmaine had a glass eye? Always freaked me out.”

He sticks a tee in the ground and sets the eye on it. “Here's looking at ya,” he says, blasting it into the lake.

:: :: ::

Last week's Tuesday 200.

January 1, 2007

Right Hand Blue

And so we begin again.

The best laid plans for last night ... oh, who are we kidding. Plans were sketchy at best and never really confirmed. They changed about 5pm and then were re-planned at 10pm and again at 11:15.

So where did we end up rining in the New Year? Back at our flat, just four of us, watching fireworks on TV and hearing them in the neighborhood (which the cats were none too pleased about).

Once that wave of excitement passed, someone suggested the dresses come out. And rather than go to Quebec (which we couldn't get into at 11pm because it was sold out ... who'd have thunk it?), we played a couple games of Twister. In heels.

The most fun is that which is not anticipated. Something we should all remember for then next 364 days.

Happy New Year everyone.