Wednesday, February 24, 2010


So it's out with the old…

(And by 'old' I mean 'skanky, sticky, decrepit')

… and in with the new!

(By which I mean 'shiny, pretty, awesome!')

I was amused to see a list of things not to do with your new oven in the manual, though (and no, of course I haven't actually read it - I skimmed it and looked at the pictures). One 'don't' in particular caught my eye, mainly because it was the only one the manufacturer had deemed sufficiently dangerous to be worthy of an illustration.

*Phew!* I am glad they mentioned that; there's nothing I think about more after getting in from the cold than jumping up on the hob and toasting my buns.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


One unmentioned fact about the oven story I posted previously was that I spent all of Sunday haring around West London in search of a shiny new oven with the nagging sensation that something wasn't quite right with me. The first piece of evidence that directed me to think this was the pounding headache I woke up with; it felt like something was trying to punch its way out of my head, and bearing in mind how much available space there is up there it was entirely conceivable that something had taken up residence and then decided to put in a new door or something to let a breeze through in the summer.

The second piece of evidence was the lumpy sensation in my throat. My initial reaction was something like 'EEK! MUMPS!' which would've been incredibly frustrating because I certainly didn't have time to go make a deposit at the local sperm bank in order to ensure my ability to reproduce at some still to be determined point in the future. Fortunately I then remembered that I'd already had mumps when I was a kid (yay for me), so my virility was safe (yay for future wife and potential for offspring).

I then decided that it was all just a knee-jerk reaction to having to spend loads of money on something I'd not planned to. I hope this doesn't mean I'll resent the shiny new oven.

Anyway, come Monday morning and I wake up with THE MOTHER OF ALL SORE THROATS, which quite frankly I really didn't need because I had to be in work for a BIG AND VERY IMPORTANT MEETING. I know, the idea of me being involved in a BIG AND VERY IMPORTANT MEETING is hilarious, isn't it? I think they just needed me to look pretty. I wore a nice shirt and a fitted jumper, so I fulfilled my end of the bargain.

So I manage to haul myself out of bed and get to work, at which point - and at some point in the future I swear I'll look back at this and laugh - I manage to hurl my beloved iPhone onto the ground. A very concretey piece of ground no less. Obviously there were swears involved, but fortunately upon picking up my iPhone I discovered it had gotten away with just a smattering of scratches on the back. Which I subsequently coloured in with a permanent black pen when I got into the office. You can barely tell now. And anyway, girls love guys with scars. Admittedly mine are on my phone, but still.

Hellooooooo ladeeeez…

For the next four hours I managed to remain remarkably coherent, but literally minutes after the meeting ended I crashed and burned at my desk. Deciding enough was enough, I went home, got into bed at 20 to three in the afternoon, and stayed there until about eight, at which point I submerged myself in the bath.

While in the bath I determined that I get very bored very easily just sitting in the tub, and resolved that at some point before I have my next one (before you say anything about me being filthy let me just establish that I usually, and very regularly, have showers) I need to buy some tubby toys to keep me occupied. Any suggestions? The first person who says something about my penis gets blocked, OK?

Cutting to the chase, I took today off work. I've spent pretty much all of it in bed, which has been delightful because not only do I now feel considerably better, but there's nothing quite like sitting in bed, alternately napping and reading comics and books. It could only have been better if Autumn Reeser had been here to make me soup and mop my brow (that's not a euphemism).

Maybe I should show her my iPhone? Chicks dig scars, don't they?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The oven story

Things I planned to do this weekend:

• Finish watching my Star Trek Remastered Season Two boxset
• Read a lot
• Go to yoga
• Do a run
• Nap

Things I did not plan on doing this weekend:

• Buy a new oven

That is, however, exactly what I did.

I inherited the oven in Sparky Towers from the stupid girl who owned the place before I did, and while it's displayed some rather eccentric tendencies over the last four years (an electronic display that sometimes accelerates through cooking times like it's jumping to warp speed, beeping randomly as if it's trying to communicate with me via Morse code) it's always done what it's supposed to: i.e. cook.

Until Friday, that is.

Having gotten home from meeting Marcosy in town for coffee Friday evening (where I mocked him mercilessly for developing a Milo Ventimiglia-esque wonky mouth as a result of some dental work) I stuck two Sainsbury's jacket potatoes in the oven because I wanted a quick and easy dinner. Twenty-five minutes later I managed to tear myself away from Twitter long enough to check in on them and they were still rock hard with a gentle hint of ice around what was allegedly the 'tasty chedder cheese melt.'

Just going off track for a moment, why is it that supermarket bought jacket potatoes never - and I mean NEVER - taste as good as ones you take the effort to make yourself? Seriously, these looked, felt, and tasted like cheap breast implants.

And we're back. My first thought was that I'd done that stupid thing I've *occasionally* done of putting something in the oven but then not actually remembering to turn the oven on. But no; the oven was on, the dial was turned round to 180º, and the fan was spinning. I know this because my hair fluttered in the breeze when I opened the door. I even went so far as to tentatively rest my hand on the grill; there was no searing of flesh. It was stone cold. Maybe this was karma getting me back for mocking Marcosy's wonky mouth?

Luckily, the jacket potatoes had the option of being cooked in the microwave, so I bunged them in there then threw a bit of a strop, which only got worse when I ate them and remembered how gross they were.

So to cut a long story a smidgeon shorter, I decided I'd buy a new one (oven that is, not jacket potato). I suppose I could probably have the old one fixed, but really I have no idea how old it actually is, and visually it's a bit shabby. Not only that, but regardless of the number of times I've tried to clean it the damn thing is always sticky. Seriously, pressing the buttons feels a bit like you're pushing your finger (or any other body part I should imagine) into a tub of margarine.

And so today I trawled around a number of electrical shops before going back to the first one I set foot in and popped some money down on a silver affair that will apparently do everything I want it to (i.e. heat up oven chips and anything with Captain Birdseye on the packet). While I did object to having to splash out so much cash when I'd not actually planned to, I came around to the idea that an oven is kind of an essential household item and I really should have one that works. That and the fact that the idea of feasting on Rustlers microwave burgers for the next couple of weeks drove absolute fear into every fibre of my being.

Fun was nevertheless to be had, though, when the reasonably delightful young lady who was serving me was pushed aside by a rather pushy salesman intent on having me take out a five-year guarantee. Now, I *never* take out extended guarantees because Sparky Pa drummed it into me at a very young age that they're just a bit of a con, and his words were echoing around the empty cavern that is my skull as I listened to this guy trying to sell me on the benefits of paying an extra £80 on the off-chance that something might go wrong with my shiny new oven. I was very tempted to tell him that I would barely use the thing at the best of times, and it was really just there to fill a gap in my kitchen, but he was rabbiting on so much that I couldn't get a word in edgewise.

Eventually I managed to tell him that I wasn't interested. And then he started writing figures down on a piece of paper in a rather conspiratorial fashion, and promising to knock a rather epic £14 off the price of the oven if I took out the guarantee. This had all been a bit of a lark for a while, but now five minutes into his spiel I just wanted to pay for the bloody thing and go home and watch the telly.

"NOT. INTERESTED." I said in a rather firm voice.

I expected his reaction to be something like "oh well, that's your decision Sir" or something along those lines, but what I got was … well, he threw the pen down on the counter and turned his back to me like a stroppy toddler.

RUDE, I think you'll agree.

Anyway, so the upshot of all this is that I'm getting a new oven on Wednesday, and then I might just write a sternly worded letter of complaint to Curry's head office about the way their staff behaves in front of customers spending rather a lot of money on a Sunday afternoon. I doubt I'll get anything out of it, but I really do like nothing more than to stir things up every now and then.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Of whales and tweets

So last night I went to my first gig 0f 2010 - Freelance Whales at the Borderline in Charing Cross Road. I went into it a little bit blind - not literally - because I'd actually only heard three of their songs (two of which are available for free download HERE), but I'd nevertheless fallen utterly head over heels in love with them on that basis alone (that and the fact the tickets were less than a tenner - BONUS). Think of them as the melodic offspring of a theoretical union between Sufjan Stevens and Arcade Fire, with perhaps a dash of The Polyphonic Spree thrown in for good measure and you wouldn't be going too far wrong.

I don't own their album yet because it doesn't come out here until next month, but I think they played it in (almost) its entirety.

Needless to say, it was an awesome gig. Yazzle Dazzle and I were right up close to the stage, and I just spent the entire time they were playing looking at them a bit dreamily because I couldn't believe quite how incredible they were. Although that said I was 100% sold from the word GO when they whipped out a banjo (I do love the musical twangings of a banjo) and what Lauren Laverne described on the radio today as "a keyboard with lungs" (apparently it's actually called a harmonium, but I prefer a keyboard with lungs).

Also, there was some top-quality xylophone action going on which was a marvel to behold, let me tell you.

Aside from that, I also liked the striped jumper worn by one of the band, so if anyone can tell me where I can get one just like it that would be much appreciated.

Stripy jumper front and centre: me likey, me wanty.


Bizarre end to the evening: upon leaving the Borderline en route for the tube, we passed a bookshop, and there, nestled in the window alongside '25 Quick and Easy Meals' and a number of other cookery books, was this:

A quick search tells me that it's available with a fiver off from Amazon if anyone fancies it. Er, the book, I mean, not a, um - OH YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN!


Finally, you may have noticed just off to the right there, but I finally caved on Sunday and joined Twitter. Well I had to - two people whose opinions I trust told me I'd be awesome at it, so it would've been rude not to. It's all going remarkably swimmingly so far, although I'm intrigued to see how long the novelty will last. Anyway, if you're a twit, feel free to follow me HERE.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Two stories

Whoops. It took a timely comment from Cyberpete to remind me that it's been nigh on two weeks since I've posted something other than a Youtube video of Captain Kirk making out with, and then slugging, a green-haired Debbie McGee lookalike. He's a talented chap that Kirk; the way things have been going for me recently I'd be quite happy to make out with the real Debbie McGee then let her punch me in the face.

*Mourns the fact that Valentines Day is just two short days away and I'll be spending it running 10k to wear off those surging manly hormones*

Aaaaaaanyway, in my sexy absence, I've gotten up to some mildly interesting awesome shenanigans. What's that Pete?

"We need more info on your Bikram hot nekkid yoga practice and the running."

Funny you should say that, dear boy, because I do have two stories for you, the first of which is a yoga story.

The yoga story
One thing I've learnt at yoga in the last week or so, aside from the fact that I can now lock out my legs in half moon pose (which is good), is that it's really not the wisest course of action to goad one teacher into taking the mickey out of another teacher who is practising in the same class as you, because while it's funny at the time it's not quite as funny when you take part in the other teacher's class a couple of days later and he announces to the entire room that he's going to take the opportunity to rip the living shit out of you for 90 minutes to see how you like it.

The answer: not very much, as it happens.

On the plus side, it did make me work harder in an attempt to give him less to complain about. On the downside, that didn't stop him, and I was subsequently left more of a knackered sweaty heap than I usually am. Often after class I'll stop in reception on my way out and have a quick chat with the teachers; on this occasion I could only summon enough energy to say "fuck you" "nightmare" before wobbling off to Starbucks to get a fruity drink.

My victimisation at the hands of yoga teachers did not end there, however. The Thursday night teacher, a wickedly awesome and funny lady I should add, has been trying to get me to move from my regular place at the back of the class up to the front row for the last couple of weeks. I've responded with a resolute NO and crossed my arms in defiance like a stroppy toddler, because the front row is where the hardcore people go, the people who the other rows look to in order to get the postures right. In contrast, the back row is safe and comfortable, and no one laughs if you fall over mid-eagle pose.

That all changed on Thursday, though. Ten minutes before class began, the teacher entered the studio with a newbie who couldn't find a place. The class was very full, and the only spare mat was - you guessed it - in the front row.

I think we can all guess what happened next, can't we?

"We need someone in the back row to move to the fr-" said wickedly awesome teacher lady, pausing mid-sentence. Then she turned towards me and beckoned me to move up to the front row. I shook my head no and defiantly crossed my arms.

"Pick up your Star Trek towel and move," she said.

Next thing I know I'm in the front row, sandwiched between two ladies. The rose between two thorns, you could say. I smiled at them both and flashed my guns.

So anyway, to cut a long story short, I'm actually rather loving the front row. The reason for this is that you get a clear, uninterrupted view of your sexy physique yourself in the mirrors, which you definitely don't get from the back, especially when it's busy. On the downside: being that close to the mirrors you really do see how genuinely wrecked you get in those 90 minutes. From the back, I look serene, calm, gently moistened with sweat like I've been strolling along a tropical beach. From the front row it's all throbbing forehead veins and quick exchanges of pain-stricken glances with your reflection. A bit like how John Travolta's hair looks perfectly natural from a distance, but up close it's an epic mess.

As I left class, though, I confessed to wickedly awesome teacher lady that one of the factors behind not wanting to go to the front row was that I didn't feel I was good enough to have other people follow me as we went into poses - sort of a confidence thing, if you will. I mean, I have only being doing it for seven months - there are people in that room who have been going years. "Why?" she asked, giving me the sort of look your parents give you when you confess to doing something stupid. "Your yoga is excellent."

Good times.


The Joss story
Regular readers (*prays there's more than one of you*) might remember how I went to an event called True Stories Told Live back in January. Well, it was that time of the month again on Wednesday (not *that* time of the month), so Yazzle Dazzle and I toddled off to the wilds of North London once again to see, well, some true stories told live. An added bonus this time around was the fact that the lovely Marsha, who told me about TSTL in the first place, was herself telling a story.

Unfortunately, Yazzle Dazzle and I got there a smidgeon later than we'd anticipated, so we ended up seated on some rather uncomfortable stools (of the tall seat variety, not the, well, *other kind* of stool), with me in front and Yazzle Dazzle behind. While trying to get comfortable, I nudged the chair in front of me with my knee, causing the woman seated in it to turn around and, with a Catherine Tate-style chav voice that would cause birds to drop dead out of the sky, laughed and said "oi, ya ain't gonna be puttin' yer feet on me chair is ya?"

I grimaced, said no, and then watched her as she turned around and stretched her legs out into the four feet of free space directly in front of her. I turned to look at Yazzle Dazzle and roll my eyes, but was disturbed as the woman pushed her chair back another couple of inches into my kneecaps.

Marsha was up first, so I tried my best to find a comfortable position on my decidedly uncomfortable perch; my arse was a lost cause thanks to the hard wood of the seat, and within seconds I no longer had any sensation in it. My knees fared a little better, mainly because I did that typical blokey thing of spreading my legs wide, effectively straddling the head of the annoying woman in front, who had by this time pushed her chair back even further, perhaps in the misguided belief that I had the remarkable ability of simply removing my legs and putting them somewhere more out of the way.

With that done, I turned once more to exchange wry looks with Yazzle Dazzle, and-


Is that…?


It can't be…

It can, and it was. No less then two feet away from me, leaning against the bar in mid-conversation with someone, was Joss Whedon, the guy who created Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I dispensed with my anticipated wry look and instead flashed my 'OMG! Look to your left!' look.

"JOSS. WHEDON!" I mouthed.

Even Yazzle Dazzle, who once *extremely* nonchalently nodded 'whassup' at Christian Slater, looked a little bit amazed.

Our looks and gesticulations, which could've been mistaken for some sort of uncanny dual aneurysm, were stopped by the compare taking - I'd like to say 'to the stage,' but there wasn't one - the mic and introducing Marsha.

Stories about death on the whole generally veer towards the more melancholy side of things, but Marsha, bless 'er, told a wonderfully heartwarming and funny tale about how her granny passed away. I laughed and felt rather emotional all at the same time; the way she told it sent shivers down my spine (in a good way) as she relived this intensely personal experience for all of us gathered together in that room.

It was a really rather wonderful and uplifting beginning to the evening.

Unfortunately, the rather vacuous woman in front of me decided that it was OK to talk to her boyfriend throughout the course of both Marsha's story and those told by the other storytellers (or anecdotalists as they're sometimes referred to at TSTL); not loudly, just enough to be noticeable.

I briefly thought about crushing her head with my kneecaps.

At the halfway point Yazzle Dazzle and I stepped outside to stretch our legs.


"I thought I recognised him," she replied, before adding a superfluous "OMG!"

"I have to say something," I said, giddy with nerdgasmic excitement. "I HAVE TO TELL HIM HOW MUCH I LIKED DOLLHOUSE FIREFLY!"


We both turned to see the annoying woman from in front of me, shivering in her strappy top, muffin-topping over her low-cut jeans.

"Time to go inside?" Yazzle Dazzle asked.

"Time to go inside," I concurred.

Curiously, the annoying woman and her boyfriend had not returned by the time the second half began, so I took the opportunity to nudge her chair forward a couple of feet, assume a more comfortable position, and glance over at Joss like a he was God. Unfortunately, annoying woman and her boyfriend, by this time clearly drunker than the resident hobos on Shepherds Bush Green, did return in time for the final storyteller, who she proceeded to heckle before slamming her chair back towards my legs again. I was prepared this time, however, and had wedged one foot against a leg of the chair, and a knee against the opposing corner of the backrest; thus, her actions only caused her to pivot a little so she ended up facing the door.

After the final story, I decided that the time was right to make my move and crush annoying woman's head go say hello to Joss. He was chatting with a couple of people, though, so, not wanting to be a rude, gushing fanboy I decided to hang around and bide my time.

Unfortunately, I had not reckoned on annoying woman. Annoying woman, who I'm pretty sure hadn't understood any of the big words that had been used by any of the storytellers, suddenly lunged forward and grabbed Joss.

"OHMYGAAAWD!" She squawked. "I LUV YORE…"

She was a fangirl!?



Joss is obviously well practised at meeting fans who are, um, let's say *passionate* and thus knows quite well how to slip away from them in a very quick, efficient, and polite fashion. Within seconds he'd eased his scarf out of her hand, popped on his coat and was gone.

I'd missed my chance to tell him how much I loved his shows, but on the basis of annoying woman's interaction with him, probably the most useful thing I could've said to him would've been "RUN JOSS, RUN - SAVE YOURSELF!"

And then staked her through the heart proper Buffy Stylee.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Valentines Day Prep

With Valentines Day just one week away, I expect many of you are busy planning ways to show your significant other just how much you love them. But what to do if you're stumped and that box of mouldy old chocolates and limp petrol station flowers just won't cut it?

Luckily for you, that 23rd century love-guru Captain James T. Kirk is on hand to show you just how you should treat your special lady on the most loved-up of days.

Ah! The ol' 'smooch-smooth-THWACK' - it's a classic!