Monday, October 31, 2016

Sailors, Ships & Stevedores

I caught a glimpse of  Sailors, Ships & Stevedores: The Story of British Docks, a BBC 4 documentary about how Britain's docks in cities like Liverpool, London and Cardiff were not only commercial portals to the world, but also gateways for the arrival of sounds, styles and cultures.

I must catch up with the whole thing on the iPlayer.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Martha & Snoop's Potluck Dinner Party

Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg are teaming up together to throw a dinner party that will be the hottest ticket in town. Each will invite celebrity friends over for a half-baked evening of cocktails, cooking, conversation, and fun where nothing is off limits.
The unlikely pair, who most recently were on ABC's 100,000 Pyramid, have quite a storied history that includes joint appearances on Martha's talk show and the famed Justin Bieber Comedy Central Roast, among others. Martha & Snoop's Potluck Dinner Party marks their first co-starring project.
"At our dinner party, we will exemplify America's fascination with food, entertaining, and celebrity. Martha & Snoop's Potluck Dinner Party will redesign the traditional food competition shows in a new, different and very funny way," said Stewart.
"My homegirl, Martha and I have a special bond that goes back. We're gonna be cooking, drinking and having a good time with our exclusive friends. Can't wait for you to see how we roll together!" said Snoop Dogg.
I don't ask much, but please God can we get this in the UK.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

keep it in the family

In the evening, we saw the Blues lose to the Scarlets, and Dan Fish came off on a stretcher, but at least in the afternoon I got Ben in a room with his Welsh  cousins and grand parents.

Friday, October 28, 2016

a bad grumf

The Bomber and I are taking advantage of half term to go back to Cardiff today and see family as well as the Blues v Scarlets derby.

Dan Fish is on the bench for the Blues though. Why no start? Base ingratitude from Danny Wilson.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Developing Alexa Skills

This six-part educational playlist will dive into building voice user interfaces using the Alexa Skills Kit. The training materials will teach you about the Alexa skill architecture and interface configuration, slots and utterances, sessions and voice user interfaces, persistence, account linking, and certification and testing.

Also, an embedded playlist which is something I need elsewhere.

All gravy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Tonight, for one night only!

It's that time again ... back at the Comedy Pub in Leicester Square, Mark Marlowe and the gang bring you another variety night featuring the best in London Comedy and Music. THE COCKTAIL HOUR. All done in the worst possible taste.
Guests to include:

The Awkward Silence (Award Winning Comedians and Radio personalities)
The Rudy Vees (Comedy Singing Group)
Women Of An Uncertain Age (Comedy Duo)
Lynsey Bonell (Comedy Performer)
Paul Rhodes (Crooner)

The Great Siegfried (Magician)
Hosted by MARK MARLOWE and his JAZZ BAND
Tickets: £7 on door
Seats/Tables can be booked in advance on: 07970662550
We look forward to seeing you there!
Myself: How bad do you think it's gonna be?

Clemenza: Pretty goddam bad. Probably all the other cabarets will line up against us. That's all right. These things gotta happen...... Helps to get rid of the bad blood. Been nearly a year since the last one. You know, you gotta stop them at the beginning. Like they should have stopped Hitler at Munich, they should never let him get away with that, they was just asking for trouble.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Pickles and Pints

From eggs to onions, pickled snacks have long been a mainstay on all good pub’s back bars. Join us on the 18th November to celebrate this pub snack power pair with a four-course supper club using Hop Back beer and something pickled in every course.
  • Summer Lightning & Cheddar Soup with Pickled Apple & Bacon
  • Smoked Mackerel, Pickled Cucumber, GFB Mustard Mayo & Croutons
  • Guest Beer Braised Beef with Smoked Garlic Mash, GFB Mustard & Beet Pickled Onions
  • Chocolate & Beer Mousse with Sweet Pickled Cranberries
I'd have been all over this event around the corner at the Sultan on November 18th if I wasn't travelling down to Wales for the Japan game on the 19th. I'm sure my ace-pickler brother John would have been as well.

Maybe next time.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Sunday, October 23, 2016


My god daughter has got a job with Yahoo in Shaftesbury Avenue, so she is going to stay with me until she finds her feet.

Her dad is going to bring her up from Cardiff this afternoon.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

It won't last

Wilson’s men had got off to a flier with a super score following the opening line-out of the match. Allen scythed through the Pau midfield after sprinting on to a pass from Shingler and found the slippery Fish for him to put Scully over in the corner.
The Blues beat Pau last night to go top of their group in the European Challenge Cup. As I write the Ospreys and the Dragons top their groups as well.

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Oh, horrible, oh, horrible, most horrible!

We drove through Aberfan before, but on the very day of, the disaster. I am sure I remember being told that; out in the car with Dad, on inspections.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Scarlett Johansson to open gourmet popcorn store in Paris

The actress Scarlett Johansson will be opening her own gourmet popcorn store in Paris later this week. The store, called 'Yummy Pop', will sell treats including popcorn flavoured with Vermont cheddar, truffle, parmesan and sage, to customers.
The popcorn will be cooked and mixed fresh on the premises, using seasonal ingredients, and will be served by Johansson herself at the grand opening.
The store is said to be "a labour of love" between Johansson and her husband, the advertising executive Romain Dauriac.
And to think, that until this story appeared in the Telegraph at 12:55 I was beginning to worry that there might be nothing worth recording for posterity today.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Laying it on the line, time after time after time.

I added an Active Plug to my set up last night.

At first I plugged the multi socket extension that powers the TV, Amazon Fire Stick, Sky Now Box etc. into it with the idea of setting a schedule or program to turn them off when they're not needed.

I had forgotten, however that the Hive hub is is attached to that as well. Every time I turned it off the whole system went offline, which baffled me for a while.

It's working now and seems to be OK.

I can't control it with Alexa though as she (it?) is interpreting "Alexa, Hive turn off my plug" as "Alexa, hi turn off my plug."

It looks like I will have to wait for voice training to be released in the UK, or for the Echo to adapt itself automatically to my dulcet tones, before I can try that out without getting so frustrated I feel like throwing it out the window.

One nice minor touch in it (to end with a whimper) is a manual over-ride switch on the top. So now you know.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


Here's Lewis playing for Ealing Trailfinders Academy in a win over the Army academy earlier this week.

He's just turned 19 and Ben was sixteen at the end of last month which means that, early in 2009,when they came to Kitzbühel with us skiing, Ben was eight and he was 11.

Time flies eh? I bumped into him the other week. What a nice guy he was and remains.

Monday, October 17, 2016

curate's egg

I fancied listening to some Diana Kraal yesterday as I was pottering about in the kitchen only to find myself floundering in a senior moment in which I could remember that she was Elvis Costello's wife but couldn't put my finger on her name.

"Alexa, who is Elvis Costello married to?" I asked my Amazon Echo.

"Diana Kraal is the spouse of Elvis Costello" she replied.

You could have knocked me down with a feather.

Later I tried "Alexa put meet Ollie in the pub in my schedule at four o'clock."

She checked if this was four o'clock in the morning or in the afternoon, and then added an appointment called "Volume king of pop" to my Google diary.

Back to the drawing board.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Read Emily Ratajkowski's essay here

Actually I seem to have misplaced the essay, but if I had it I would post a link to it.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The best time to drink champagne is before lunch.

My brother saw Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart in No Man's Land by Harold Pinter, when it was on tour in Cardiff and before it opened in the West End.

I tried to get tickets at the Wyndhams' Theatre based on his review only to find that it was practically sold out, and the few scattered seats still available were eye-wateringly expensive.

The National Theatre Live has come to the rescue though, as it is being broadcast to cinemas on December 15th.

Herewith the skinny,

I'll probably try and catch it in the HMV Curzon.

Friday, October 14, 2016

On Bob Dylan's Nobel Prize

Noting how popular "Visions of Johanna" remains among "hardcore Dylanophiles", Andy Gill suggests it is the enigmatic quality of the song that is responsible for its popularity—"forever teetering on the brink of lucidity, yet remaining impervious to strict decipherment". Gill writes the song begins by contrasting two lovers, the carnal Louise, and "the more spiritual but unattainable" Johanna. Ultimately, for Gill, the song seeks to convey how the artist is compelled to keep striving to pursue some elusive vision of perfection.
Myself: But it contains the ludicrous Hear the one with the mustache say, “Jeeze I can’t find my knees”.
Clinton Heylin has described what he construes as the strange circumstances surrounding the song. Written around the time of Dylan's marriage to Sara Lownds, Heylin describes it as "one of the oddest songs ever written by a man who has just tied the knot and is enjoying a brief honeymoon in the city". Noting that the song is an elegy for a past lover, Heylin speculates that "it is awfully tempting to see Johanna as his muse" who, in the song, is "not here". For Heylin, the triumph of the song lies in "the way Dylan manages to write about the most inchoate feelings in such a vivid, immediate way"
Myself: But it contains the ludicrous Hear the one with the mustache say, “Jeeze I can’t find my knees”.
Dylan critic Michael Gray also praises the subtlety of the song. Gray acknowledges that it is difficult to say what this song is "about", since it is at once indefinable and precise. For Gray, its principal achievement lies in the way it confuses categories, using language to be simultaneously serious and flippant, delicate and coarse, and mixing up "abstract neo-philosophy and figurative phraseology".
Myself: But it contains the ludicrous Hear the one with the mustache say, “Jeeze I can’t find my knees”.
Robert Shelton called "Visions of Johanna" one of Dylan's major works. He writes that Dylan's technique of throwing out "skittering images" evokes "a mind floating downstream"; these "non-sequential visions" are the record of a fractured consciousness. Shelton argues that the song explores a hopeless quest to reach an ideal, the visions of Johanna, and yet without this quest life becomes meaningless. He suggests that the same paradox is explored by Keats in his "Ode on a Grecian Urn".
Keats: When old age shall this generation waste,| Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe| Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou sayst,| "Beauty is truth, truth beauty," – that is all| Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

Bob: Jeeze I can’t find my knees

Thursday, October 13, 2016


I ran up some falafel mix last night. It is in the fridge to be furnished forth this evening.  Can I conjure vegan mayo to go with it? Watch this space.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

As president, will you sing or veto legislation?

The President of the United States has numerous power ballads, including those explicitly granted by Article II of the United States Constitution, implied power ballads, power ballads granted by Acts of Congress, and the influence and soft power ballads that come from being President of the United States of America.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

football is a cruel mistress

Andy H has very kindly offered to take me along, on one of their season tickets, to go and see Swansea visit Arsenal at the Emirates on Saturday.

As I write Cardiff City are in the relegation zone (second to bottom) in the Championship, and AFC Wimbledon are tenth in league one; very respectable just after promotion.

If things stay as they are I can return his favour by taking him to Wimbledon v Cardiff at Kingsmeadow next season. I imagine he will be thrilled. "Quid pro quo, Clarisse."

Monday, October 10, 2016

Fashion trends you need to know this Autumn

There are no fashion trends you need to know this autumn, but the immanence of human finitude — the fact that we’re dying right now and not in some distant future — should create the impetus for philosophical reflection.

On balance, I wish there were autumn fashion trends we needed to know instead.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Wittgenstein is invoked

Pro12: Ospreys 46-24 Cardiff Blues
Clinical Ospreys hammered Cardiff Blues in the first Welsh derby of the season.
Blues started well and led 10-3 after Kristian Dacey's try, but shipped 19 points after full-back Dan Fish was yellow carded for a professional foul.
"Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent." („Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen.")

Saturday, October 08, 2016

The thrill of it all

This morning I reattached a cupboard door hinge and changed light bulbs

Friday, October 07, 2016

Any Fish you wish

In tonight's derby, for the Blues "the astute Dan Fish is preferred to the maverick talent of Matthew Morgan at full-back" while the Ospreys have "opted for Sam Davies, with Wales fly-half Dan Biggar restricted to a spot on the bench."

I am driving back to Cardiff this afternoon. I think dinner is likely to be taken on the lap in front of BBC2 Wales on the telly in the lounge rather than - more formal like - in the dining room.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

I went to my 384th yoga class at 6:30 this morning

I believe the best way for us to grow as human beings is to free ourselves from the anxieties and attachments of daily life. If we pursue practices and rituals that lead toward a oneness with existence, if we devote ourselves to mindfulness and meditation, then the cultivation of harmony is available to us all. However, if it is true spiritual enlightenment that you seek, you’re gonna have to get past me first.
For those with the patience and the commitment, a path to nirvana awaits, and I—His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet—am standing right in the middle of it, ready to throw down.
The only way you’ll ever come to experience the metaphysical unity of mind and soul is by tangoing with yours truly, capiche?
It will be a difficult journey, one upon which you must elevate yourself from excess and learn to derive pleasure from simplicity. There will be many obstacles to overcome, and often it will seem as though your greatest adversary lies within yourself. But in fact, your most determined foe is stronger, fiercer, and coming straight out of Dharamsala packing 600 years of reincarnated spiritual wisdom and a blazing left hook. And you’re gonna have to build up some serious inner strength before you take me on, because I bring the pain, and I don’t back down.
Is it the knowledge of the universe you seek? Do you wish to attain a realization of the interconnectedness of all things? Then you must possess kindness, perseverance, compassion, tolerance, and an iron jaw. Because the only way you’ll ever come to experience the metaphysical unity of mind and soul is by tangoing with yours truly, capiche?
You will find there is much to gain from leading a more mindful existence, one that allows you to center your thoughts and channel all your energy into coming at me with everything you’ve got. And you’re gonna need it, because once you step into the ring with me, you definitely won’t want to shift your attention away from the now.
You will know that life is suffering after I’m done with you.
A serene existence free of worry and strife awaits you if you can take down this lean, mean incarnation of the high bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara. So come on. Let’s do this thing. You’ll become acquainted with the universal impermanence of being real quick.
I got nowhere else to be, compadre, and I’m ready to impart on you some serious teachings, if you get my drift. Perhaps you wish to learn release from feelings of longing. Then you must abandon your attachment to all material things, except, of course, your first-aid kit. Do you have what it takes to relinquish worldly desires? To abandon the idea of self? To surrender to that which you cannot control? To reach a state of utter tranquility? Okay, then. Nut up and take a swing.
It requires careful discipline to live a mindful life, but you will find there are great rewards in separating yourself from the physical experience of what I’m about to do to you. It’s you and me, buddy. If you want your enlightenment, come and get it. But I’m warning you, if you seek a state of pure transcendence, then the last thing you’re going to see is a flash of crimson robe as you hit the deck. And when you’re gripping your throbbing head trying to figure out what just happened, you can meditate on this: When your ass gets knocked to the ground and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
How do you like them apples?

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

What happens when two talking devices are alone in a house?

Myself: Alexa, how can a people who do not mean to understand death hope to understand love, and who will sound the alarm?

Alexa: I’m sorry, I don’t understand the question you asked.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

only train on days ending in a Y

Ben quit judo for rugby in 2011, but I remember asking him if there was any crossover in skills.

"Judo helps you to be stubborn in mauls," he said. I thought that was quite pithy.

Eddie Jones agrees it seems.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Monday Morning Feeling

Report: Feeling Bad Right Now Most Reliable Predictor Of Feeling Bad Forever
STANFORD, CA—Saying their findings were consistent across all ages and demographic groups, psychologists at Stanford University released a groundbreaking report this week confirming that feeling bad right now is an extremely accurate predictor of feeling bad forever.
The report, which draws its conclusions from a longitudinal study of 500 participants conducted over the course of 30 years, found a nearly perfect correlation between experiencing sadness, anger, loneliness, and despair at the current moment and then continuing to experience those exact same emotions for the rest of one’s life no matter what.
“Based on our findings, we can state with a high level of certainty that anyone who feels miserable at the present time will, from this moment onward, always feel miserable,” said the report’s co-author Danielle Bowman, adding that researchers observed zero cases in which a subject’s feelings of sorrow or hopelessness ever went away in the short or long term. “For example, if, at the moment, you are desperately lonely and depressed, the evidence overwhelmingly suggests you will still feel that way when you wake up tomorrow, the day after that, a month from now, in five years, and indeed, every single waking second until you die.”
“There were, however, several instances in which people’s emotional states did eventually change,” Bowman continued. “In roughly 31 percent of cases, people began to feel much worse over the years.”
You might feel that there is nothing you can do to help, but how difficult is it to bawl "cheer up darlin' it might never happen" at a subdued stranger who is alone on the street?

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Ice cold in Alexa

I went to see Peter Frankopan talk about The Silk Roads: A New History of the World at the Wimbledon BookFest yesterday, and great stuff it was.

I had bought all 24 hours of it on Audible as an unabridged book a while back so I could bone up simply by saying "Alexa, read The Silk Roads" to my new Amazon Echo and have it played back as I was noodling about in the kitchen.

Alexa is also in control of my central heating now, but we had our first row this morning when I asked her to boost it only for her to announce that it was warm and turn the boiler off.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Feed the Fish

Please vote for Dan Fish's try against Munster above. He is back from the injury he sustained scoring it today, though starting on the bench.