Well Done Joga.com

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I'd like to thank the lovely people at joga.com for their not-entirely-spot-on match alert firefox extension.
They made returning to my computer after the penalty shootout between Argentina and Germany that much more confusing.

Lots Going On

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So the play I'm currently rehearsing my rear end off for made the New York Times (a tiny bit - scroll down to 'Free Summer Parks Shows') today, and the book Krissa and I are in comes out on Friday. There's still time to pre-order the book and get free shipping. If you're living on Tuvalu in the South Pacific (and I know at least one of you does) the cost of the shipping could dwarf the cost of the book. So put that canoe paddle down and get your arse in gear, laddie.

In terms of England's chances for Saturday, I'm holding out little hope beyond this stage, although normally I'd feel pretty confident that England could beat Portugal. My confidence in England decreases with increasing altitude up the tournament diagram.

And after reading this, I will happily be your man on the inside.

If the US can invade Iraq and Afghanistan to remove the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, feel free to invade the US to depose Frank Cannon and Richard Lessner at The Weekly Standard.

via Adrian.

So Much For Neutrality

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I didn't watch the game, but if the entire Swiss team's 54th minute deserved a yellow card, I'm looking forward to the highlights.

And in the next round, with most of the team on two yellow cards, Switzerland are set to bring in the squad coach driver and the manager's secretary on the wings.

Birds and Bands

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Last week on the elevated section of my train home, a tiny bird flew through the open doors and into my carriage. The doors closed behind it and as people noticed and began to react by shooing it away with clumsy swinging palms or trying to grab it, it flew into walls and scrabbled for footing on metal handholds before fluttering, harum scarum, into my lap. I was holding a book, so for a moment or two it had a safe haven in the crook of my arm, nestling in the folds of my shirt. He stopped there. He preened a bit and looked around him. Everyone in the carriage was staring at me. I didn't move. I wanted him to stay there until the doors opened again. His toes were so incredibly thin and his eyes were black, specular and bright. He was one of those little finch-like birds with red and thin black stripes and yellow and white all mixed in together. The conductor for the train came out of her booth and someone got her attention.
"Oh, okay! I'll hold the doors at the next station. No problem. They don't normally do that!"
The bird hopped up onto my arm, emboldened. I willed him back, but he took off, fluttering and banging into windows and trying to grip the handhold bars. After a few seconds of panic he found another haven somewhere along the carriage, and I stood up to see - he was crouched, shaking, in the space between a slouching, sleeping commuter's back and the back of the seat. A movement from the chinese woman who was asleep would have squashed him, so I stepped forward and gently scooped him out. He took off again and after the conductor held the doors for a minute or more a man in a black suit reached out as the bird fluttered determinedly against the window and grabbed it in his hand. Walking to the doors, he stepped out and threw the bird straight up in the air. I couldn't see, but judging from the way people's heads moved after he did so makes me think the little guy flew off without any ill-effects.

Last night Krissa and I went to see Gomez at Webster Hall. Gomez have been one of my favourite bands since I started university, and I love all their electronic-rock-offbeat goodness dearly. But in all that time, I never saw them live. Last night was absolutely epic. There have been a few times in my life, all music-created, when I have been so full of a type of joy that I laugh. It was so great to hear the opening bars of 'Bring It On' that I couldn't help it. After all that time, loving the music, there they are, and here it is. It's a childish gratification, I suppose.
Krissa and I had a spot on the balcony directly above the band. I've not been the sort of music fan that looks up band members' favourite foods for many years, so much so that I don't even know the names of the members of Gomez. Before the concert my impressions of what they looked like came entirely from the video for 'Whippin' Piccadilly', which I only bought on iTunes a few months ago. Prior to that I went entirely on my imagination. What I wasn't expecting, and I was happily surprised by, was that they looked like the sort of people you normally see setting up the equipment for bands.
They belted out nearly two hours of songs from all their albums, including a roof-raising 'Devil Will Ride' with the vocal fades from the studio version replaced with soaring, surging guitar crescendos that countermanded every expectation of the traditional rock'n'roll surge-surge-fade of energy in instrumental bridges- it was relentless, every time different, every time riffing on the audience's expectations. 'Free To Run' was never one of my favourite songs, but it was mindblowing live, so much so that I listened to it a couple of times today to see what I'd missed listening to the CD version. Even some of the electronica-heavy stuff from 'In Our Gun' they pulled off, with a twenty-five strong complement of pedals, three keyboards, two drumkits (one traditional, the other composed of an array of cymbals and bongos, with tambourine and maracas on the side). 'Ruff Stuff' was brilliant, 'The Sound of Sounds' was rousingly haunting and 'Shot Shot' pounded out as the rhythm of an impromptu mosh pit, with huge crowd-teasing gaps where the song has beat-breaks on the CD. At the end of a four-song encore, they played out with 'Whippin' Piccadilly.

It was bloody brilliant.
My camera died after one shot, but Krissa went on taking photos through the night - they'll be on her Flickr shortly, I expect.

Update: And NOT ONLY THAT. The show was broadcast live on WFUV, Fordham University's radio station, and their archived recording of the entire show can be found here (pops, and I think you need Windows Media Player).
Fucking excellent. I'll listen to it again now.

Second Update: Sounds totally different to actually being there. That honking noise in the opening 'Bring It On' is one of the band (Tom?) on this little hand-held keyboard that you blow through. We could hardly hear it on the night, despite being ten feet away.

Third Update The guy who keeps yelling 'TOOOOM!' and particularly irritating requests for a song ('ROSALEEETAAAAH!') when people were calling for an encore was standing right behind us. Right. Behind. Us.

My heart's still pounding, my voice is hoarse. And there is a table in a bar in downtown Manhattan that shall forever bear the indents of my fingernails after that mid-air goal-line clearance from Terry in the first half.

The Very Best Weblog Writing Ever By Anyone Anywhere In The Whole Wide World Vol. 1They say there's a first time for everything. For some things, there is a second time, other things a third and a fourth. Some things go on far too long, like this introduction. Some disagree with the high-and-mighty 'they' from the first sentence and say that there are plenty of things that never get to see their first time. This is not one of those things.

Some of the words I typed into this little blogetterie in the past are now being published, along with some words put together into different orders by different people here.

The general release date is the end of the month, but you can pre-order through the Misc. Books and Press site, and what's more, pre-orders pay no shipping! So if you order now you'll annoy the shipping and postal unions, but you'll get a good deal.

I confess to being a little giddy about this. There's a book out. With me in.

And not just me either - Krissa and Wendy and Sarah and Julia and a whole bundle of really rather fabulous people. Which should make my entry rather easy to spot among theirs, what with mine probably being the only one with maths in.

Man, but do I feel like assmonkeys.
Monday was a 'Here comes the COLD!' day in much the same way that ga-ga mothers sing 'Here comes the AEROPLANE!' with a spoon en route to their little dinkum's mouth.
I was fully aware of every encroaching second. I stood up from eating lunch and realized I had a sore throat, an hour later I was full of goo, two hours after that I was getting achey, three hours after that I was running a fever.

Imagine an attentive class of virus cells, green and gloopy, listening as a big teacher virus demonstrates at a small blackboard.
"First go for the throat, after that we have the climb to the nasal cavity, then I want all of you to proliferate wildly and generally cause as much of a nuisance as you can. Any questions? Molesworth."
"Sir sir sir, I want to mutate. Are mutations allowed today sir?"
"Do you have a note?"
"Well no. Mum can't write, sir."

I slept yesterday until 2.30 in the afternoon and spent the rest of the day mooching around reading, dozing, and finding things to do in San Andreas (I completed the story missions last week) and fell asleep after a mini Buffy-marathon with Krissa in the evening.

The auditions on Sunday went very well, I thought. I didn't audition last year, and it turns out that auditions are a lot of fun. At rehearsals your part is set, and you just keep trying to remember your lines, try a new angle, a new tone, a different gesture as the opportunity goes by or whatever, but at rehearsals I got to play all sorts of parts: dukes, lords, lovers, clowns...it was cool.
Also, I got a much bigger part this year than I had last summer. Last summer I was Snout the Tinker in A Midsummer Nights' Dream, which was easy after a fashion as a large part of my role entailed standing still with a fake brick strapped to my head while "pretending" to be a bad actor. And I had about five lines.
This year I have two parts.
As You Like It is split between the forest and the town. In town, a grouchy evil Duke has deposed his elder brother, who lives in the forest in exile. People wrestle, fall in love, cross-dress, and move between the forest and the town in a tight little jig of love, lust, falls from grace and restorations to fortune. There are feisty maidens, witty clowns, and six metric fuckloads of hey nonny nonny.

I play both Dukes...which could be interesting.
I have an almost religious faith in the director, and costume changes can make up for a lot, but I've reread the play looking for my lines and there are two scene changes where I have the last line in one scene as one Duke, and the first line in the next scene as the other Duke.
I'm not sure I can move that fast.

Ale In The Morning

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The window in our office faces the back of a big block of apartments with balconies. It's 9.30 in the morning, and a girl in jeans and a green t-shirt has just walked out onto one of them and lit up a cigarette. And she's holding a bottle. It looks like either a bottle of beer or a bottle of brown sauce. Either way, it's a little early.
She just swigged from it. I'm going to have to come down on the side of beer.

On another note, this afternoon I'm auditioning for summer Shakespeare again. Last year Krissa and I were part of a hugely fun production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, performing in neighbourhood parks across Brooklyn. Krissa's not doing it this year in order to concentrate on her writing, but I thought I'd have a go! I just finished reading 'As You Like It' for the first time ever - I'd never seen it or read it before.
Seeing as the play involves cross-dressing as a pivotal point, I have to wonder, when a girl character dresses up as a boy, and that girl character was, in Shakespeare's time, played by a boy in the first place, how many audience members followed what the hell was going on. I pity the Elizabethan theatre buff who arrived late to the show, sat down with a bag of peanuts and a tankard of ale and whispered 'Sorry I'm late. What's going on?' to his friends.

"Well. That bloke there is actually a girl, right?"
"A girl in the theatre? That's against the law! Is it Gwyneth Paltrow?"
"Prithee, no."
"Holla. So there's a guy dressed up as a girl dressed up as a guy."
"Right on, cuz."
"Isn't he hot in all those costumes? Who's on first?"
"Hoo's on first."
"Nevermind. Give me a peanut."

Um. Anyway. I'm off to buy breakfast for my sleeping beauty. Wish me luck for the audition.


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