Friday, February 24, 2006

Cartoons for atheists

Last night's event at Oxford Brookes Uni was a lot of fun. Super Sandra, Dianne Dingo and Marina Messerschmidt all put in an appearance shortly before I took a dip in the chocolate fountain. After the show I got chatting to one of the punters who had helped me out reading out one of my intros while I was frantically getting changed (for those who've never seen me performing an extended multi-character set this will make no sense!). Anyway his name is Clive Goddard and he's a very witty cartoonist so here's a link to his site, head over for a bit of a Friday luagh.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Upcoming gigs

Here's your chance to see me over the next few weeks...
(Key: KS=regular set as myself, C=compering, SS=as Super Sandra, DD=as Dianne Dingo, the number shows how many minutes I'm doing. Obviously when compering it's as many as I need or want to, usually 20-25 over the whole night).

Sunday 19th February 99 Club Soho, Red Lion Pub, Great Windmill Street (KS10, £3-£6, 8pm)
Monday 20th February Anda De Bridge, Shoreditch High Street (SS10, free I think, 8:30pm)
Tuesday 21st February Bath University, Student Union (KS20, £3, NUS only, 9pm)
Thursday 23rd February Oxford Brookes University (private function)
Sunday 26th February King's Head, Crouch End (KS10, £7/5, 7.45pm)
Wednesday 1st March 99 Club Angel, Camden Head Pub, Camden Passage, Angel (KS10, £3-6, 8.30pm)
Thursday 2nd March Cheese 'n' Crackers talent show, Battersea Barge (DD5-7, £8, 8pm)
Monday 6th March Comedy Scramble, Red Lion Pub, Great Windmill Street (C, free, 8:30pm)
Tuesday 7th March as-yet-unnamed sketch show, The Enterprise, details tbc, sketches though rather than stand-up.
Wednesday 8th March Speed-dating event in central London somewhere...
Thursday 9th March as guest customer at Leonard's comedy hairdressers, The Enterprise Chalk Farm Station. It's like a comedy and chat-show, he cuts hair and interviews people as he does it.
Friday 10th March Amused Moose LaughOff '06, The Enterprise, Chalk Farm Station (DD5-6, £5 if you say you know me, 8.15pm)
Monday 13th March Pleasance Islington, details tbc

...then off on holiday! When I get back I'll be starting preview for my Edinburgh show, which will feature all of me, Super Sandra and Dianne Dingo and other characters too.

Work work work

This frightening report out of the US says that by the year 2050 life expectancy will have risen so much that the retirement age should be moved to 85. All very well but if we have the technology to make people live to 120 or whatever, then I figure we should also have the technology to allow people to retire after about four years of work and have futuristic robots in all the manual-labour-intensive jobs, while we sit around watching the holographic smell-o-vision entertainment provided on our luxury moon-base. No?

Local Papers

I'm really enjoying keeping up with news from my childhood home town Bury St Edmunds over on Ruby's lovely blog (link in the panel, right). This week I had a particular belly laugh over this post listing some of the classified adverts from the town's local paper. If anyone would like to pledge money towards getting me the "Medieval wench costume" let me know!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Restaurant anti-recommendation

Last night on my way from the gym (5k, 22m51s, which I was quite pleased with) to compering at the Scabby Tabby (Gareth Berliner particularly on fire, Yianni, Phil Klein and Lloyd Langford, generally a great night) I dropped in to grab some food at a revolving sushi place called Gili Gulu. Now I can be a bit fussy about Japanese food, having lived there four years. But this place really is taking the mick!

Firstly the food isn't Japanese (as it claims to be). Half the dishes on the belt were spare ribs and Chinese things. They had Edamame (soya beans) served IN sushi rolls. They brought me very poor Miso soup (eventually) in a Chinese soup bowl with a spoon in (it's supposed to be drunk from the bowl, which is a lot easier if you have a Japanese-style bowl).

Secondly the food is awful. I asked for six plates and couldn't even eat them. The tiny shred of salmon was so flavourless in my roll I actually stopped to peek and see if it wasn't limp carrot or something. Very little fish was coming round on the belt at all, mostly just crab sticks and cheapo stuff. They do a 75-minute buffet option during which time you'd probably see about half a dozen pieces of fish come past if you were lucky.

Thirdly the staff were rude and unhelpful. At one point my waitress grabbed a dish (which I had taken off the belt myself) out from in front of me and wandered off with it, I have no idea why. Now I'm pretty used to staff in Japanese restaurants not speaking Japanese, but these guys didn't speak English. I had to go and ask twice for my soup before it arrived.

I had a look at other reviews on the web and looks like I'm not the only one who had a bad day there. Here are some of my favourite comments from London-Eating (link above on restaurant name): "The buffet, for what it was, wasn’t cheap- the food wasn’t fresh & the choice small.","Poor food that didn't taste fresh and the worst service I've experienced in London, ranging from curt to downright rude.", and my personal favourite... "The bathroom are just unacceptable, worth than Caffe Nero and McDonalds put together! It made a member of staff laugh when I did ask for soap!!"

If you want a reasonably-priced Japanese meal in the Soho area, with an all-you-can-eat option try Hi Sushi on Frith Street. Went there last week and it's great, although the dishes they bring are very generous, be careful not to over-order!

And who says Americans don't understand irony?

Dick Cheney has described the day he accidentally shot his friend Harry Whittington in the heart as "The worst day of his life". And the days when he willingly and deliberately murdered thousands of Iraqi civilians and simultaneously sent hundreds of American and allied soldiers to their deaths or to serious injury and a lifetime of trauma...? They were good days I guess.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Small change

Compulsory reading from Joseph E. Stiglitz on the cost (financial) of the war in Iraq. He puts the figure at anything up to $2 trillion and concludes "One cannot help but wonder: were there alternative ways of spending a fraction of the war's $1-2 trillion in costs that would have better strengthened security, boosted prosperity, and promoted democracy?". Of course while the rest of the economy and the US (and UK) population suffer the consequences of the over-spend, where has the money been spent? And which group of investors are most heavily involved in the "winners" from the big war spend? Defence? The Carlyle Group? Halliburton?

Monday, February 13, 2006

Radio days

Well Saturday night went very well. I really enjoyed it. Some guy rang in (Graham, thanks Graham!) and agreed at length that with a 1 in 500 risk of dying from surgery it really wasn't worth it. Sadly I was not in the same studio as the pro-surgery woman, who's apparently had £12,000 of surgery herself before which she claims "she was sometimes mistaken for a man*", so I can't comment on what she looked like. Listen again is available as usual here.

And this morning I'm up bright and early to get started on Radio Jackie. Won't be doing anything more exciting than travel news. Should be doing more and more over the next few weeks though. In south west London and north Surrey it's 107.8 Fm or anywhere in the world you can listen on the web here.

*So what? I have been told more than once that I resemble a young and glamourous Boy George, and it's never bothered me...

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Cru-blog on BBC Radio Five Live

...again, tonight. The Stephen Nolan show, 10pm London time. Talking about plastic surgery, mmm, one of my favourite topics. Apparently the other guests have been warned that I am quite "feisty"! Too right I am...

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Headline stuff

This made me laugh. BBC article titled "Tories gay stance was wrong". I just can't help thinking they should have had their left hands a little more pertly on their hips and their heads thrown back a little more indignantly, etc. Make your own Tory gay stance gag here... Of course the Lib Dems would be the ones to advise!

Really sickening

Latest reports out of Guantanamo Bay from the BBC. They are using what they euphamistically refer to as "a restraint system to aid detainee feeding", i.e. strapped to a chair with a tube down their throat. They're also restrained after feeding to stop them vomitting and held in solitary confinement for extended periods.

Now you've got to ask really if conditions are as humane as the US insists they are, why up to 100 guantanamo inmates at a time have been on hunger strike for the last 9 months. You've also got to ask when they're going to start trials. We were originally told that they were just being held there while they got the evidence together to try them. And since that hasn't happened it begs the question: what about the innocent ones? Interestingly the report estimates that 55% of inmates are basically innocent. If they had the data available to figure that out, then surely they can use the same info to try the other 45% and then sentence them. Not that that would necessarily help much, since the military trials they are supposedly being prepared for fall way short of international standards.

Add to that the fact that these guys have been in there for four years. They can't let them out in case one of them writes an autobiography... The interviews which Moazzam Begg gave after he came out were damning enough. Amnesty has suggested they should close the whole thing down, but they do appear to be cornered in terms of public opinion. As soon as they do anything it attracts attention so it's easier to just do nothing. Of course what's needed is public outcry against the status quo.

It's a real shame we've seen all this fuss about a couple of irrelevant cartoons published by non-Muslims for the benefit of non-Muslims. There are much more important things to be angry about.

Cruella on air!

Cru-blog fans in South West London and North Surrey can catch me doing traffic and travel news next week on Radio Jackie every weekday between 10am and noon. The plan is for me to gradually move into doing some chatting and co-presenting with Steve Mowbray, the regular morning show presenter, the following week, if it all goes to plan. If you do tune in please give the station a call (020 8288 1078) and tell us you've heard me! You can also listen live on their website from anywhere in the world. I'll keep you all posted when I'm doing more fun stuff. It's basically music and local news and chat, nothing too shocking!

Monday, February 06, 2006

You do not see...

...atheists killing people over cartoons.

Although to be fair it isn't all that clear whether protestors were killing people or whether heavy-handed police and security forces were popping off protestors. Nasty and pointless business either way.


Jackie Ashley's latest piece in the Guardian paints a grim picture of modern relationships. She claims, without reference to any statistics whatsoever, that "Most divorcing men are treating their wife as they do their car, trading her in for a younger model." Luckily for her the Guardian itself has done the research for her last July when this article highlighted the fact that women are, on average, much happier than men after a divorce, and much happier than they were before the divorce. 7% of divorced men claim to feel "suicidal" (as do 3% of divorced women). I guess that 7% are not running around with Ms Ashley's "younger model". Also 46% of divorced women reported feeling "liberated" (as did 37% of divorced men).

Ms Ashley goes on to explain that this unevidenced behaviour from men has had an impact on women: "Hence the sad desperation of so many women to use the knife, the needle and the hormone tablets in order to stay as young-looking as possible". I'm no expert but I really don't think it's men who are driving women to the operating table. Surely everyone in their right mind is aware that relationships stop being about appearances after about the first fortnight. Meanwhile the media with its barrage of positive-angled stories about surgery, all the reality TV shows focussed on normalising plastic surgery and it's insistance on portraying only women in their twenties with tiny waists and perfect teeth, could only be said to be doing everything it can to encourage women to believe they need or want to undergo dangerous operations. Articles like Ms Ashley's only bolster that message.

Why does a supposedly high-brow paper persist in publishing this sort of nonsense?

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Raynaud's Awareness Month

As a sufferer myself I feel duty-bound to point out that it is Raynaud's Awareness month. More information on the condition is here on the BBC website. Personally I find every cold winter month is Raynaud's Awareness month!

I'm not sure I personally need a whole month though to spread the news about the situation. The website refers to it as a "devastating condition" but I don't have it badly enough to make such a claim. Since I quit smoking and with the amount of exercise I take, it's largely under control for me. I even ski (badly)!

I do take Seredrin for it, which I would recommend to any other sufferers. I did at one time try electronically heated gloves and socks but they were useless - the socks too bulky to wear with insulated boots and the gloves, well only the palms were heated, not the fingers - and I would recommend them to no-one. Just get ski-gloves and proper arctic boots.

I was once advised by a doctor to manage the condition by avoiding contact with vibrating objects...hmm, no comment!

Hit Parade

Also I've put a hit-counter on the blog. It started today so if you've just logged on then don't worry you're not the third person ever to discover the Cru-blog. I'm just curious to see how many people actually do log on. I quite often hear from people that they know the blog despite the fact that they've never posted a comment.

Essex (and Suffolk) Girls

Ms Greer has put together a defence of (not to say eulogy to) Essex Girls here. Makes some great and entertaining points. Personally I was born one side (in Wembley) and grew up the other (in Bury St Edmunds) so can claim no real connection, though I did lose my virginity in Pitsea, Essex, a very long time ago indeed...

Speaking of Bury St Edmunds though (as we weren't really) I've recently been alerted to a blog devoted entirely to Bury St Edmunds, which apart from being deeply witty and well-written gives a crackin' (do your own Anglian accent for this bit) insight into rural town life in the UK. And for those of us who recognise the places and even some of the people featured, it's even more interesting. I might put up a permanent link.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Depressing stuff

A survey detailed on the BBC reveals that only 48% of people in this country believe that evolution is the best explanation for the existance of the universe. I don't know if the Gideons are still sticking bibles in hotel rooms around the country (always handy if there's no loo paper left) but I'm seriously thinking of starting a fund to buy copies of works by everyone from Darwin to Dawkins and put them in hotels, schools, churches, village halls, etc. I find it embarrassing to imagine I live in such an ill-educated country.