Monday, April 30, 2007

Aw Shucks...

...I got this from my nephews. *gulp*

Friday, April 27, 2007

Something For The Weekend 16

Hey Dave, if you only read one book this year… then you’re doing about as well as me. Honestly, I’ve started that Steve Martin novel you gave me about three times but – as they say in all the best Guardian reviews – it’s absolute tosh. And not in a good way. Which is a bit surprising really because his other book of essays and columns was excellent, as is most of the stuff you can find here at his website.

However, I’ve just finished reading this autobiography by Police guitarist Andy Summers and it’s excellent. Class A drugs, hard liquor, loose women, cool guitars, private jets, highway diners, endless parties and rock ‘n roll are obviously better uses of your time than reading stupid books Dave. But if you want some fascinating stories about these things and more then you’ll find them all here.

Obviously – as the World’s Biggest Police Geek™ – I’m a bit biased but the early stories from the 60s when he jammed with Jimi Hendrix and sold his guitar to Eric Clapton are even more interesting than the 80s stuff. And that bit at the end when he and his ex-wife “find” each other again… *gulp* … I think I experienced that same irritating piece of dust in my eye as I had at the end of Rocky Balboa.

Alas Dave, there are no pop-up pictures in the book to compensate for your short attention span but you’ll be glad to know the book is beautifully written and isn’t full of big long words like Sting’s book was so no need to reach for your thesaurus. Incidentally, what’s another word for thesaurus? Oh, and much as I’d like to take the credit, I didn’t write the foreword.

Have a great weekend. Cheers, Neil.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

And A Crumpet Too While You're At It

Last week I opened a new bag of Tetley tea bags and, much to my excitement, discovered a free sample of a new product inside the packaging. It took me a few minutes to fully absorb all the features and benefits of the new brand – “refreshing and revitalising taste” indeed! – but I soon cracked a smile thinking about how much fun the X-Files geek in the Marketing Department must have had coming up with the name.

Now my only worry is finding the right words when my Mum & Dad next visit…

“Can I interest you in a…?”

“Would you like a lovely steaming mug of…?”

Any and all suggestions gratefully received.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Taking The Long Way

On Saturday morning I had to drive to Glasgow but as soon as I’d caressed Dana (long story) out of my drive, I got stuck behind a stupid-looking yellow car with loud speakers on the roof. The car was owned by the Scottish National Party and blasting out of the P.A. system was a longwinded speech from their smug leader explaining why we should vote for him in the upcoming election to find a successor to Forrest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland.

For three or four miles I had to follow this idiot as he annoyed pedestrians and shoppers with whatever raucous rhetoric they could discern in the two seconds it took to drive by them (I mean seriously, what’s the point?) so by the time we got to a set of traffic lights in the busy town centre I’d had enough.

Figuring I had to silence this windbag and give the good townspeople something else to listen to whilst they grabbed their pitchforks and lit their torches, I quickly rolled down all the windows, turned the CD player up to 11 and slipped on the Dixie Chicks singing ‘Not Ready To Make Nice’.

“THAT, my friends, is democracy. And independence,” I announced heartily as I sped out of town displaying a friendly two-fingered gesture.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Something For The Weekend 15

Last week, my young friend Dave informed me that he’s heading off to New York tomorrow with his “significant other” so I promised him I’d trawl my travelling memories for some top tips on the Big Apple; the main one being, of course, “pack lots of custard.” Ha, ha, ha. You know… apples… pies… custard… aw never mind.

But when I got round to thinking about it, I realised that there’s really not a great deal to do in New York unless you’re a fan of tall buildings and people who shout a lot. And besides Dave, since I’ve written a little bit about the city before, I went out and discovered something else to tell you about this week that I think you’ll enjoy more.

It’s a website you can access at work and is especially suited to you today as you search for ways to wind down before your, no doubt, well deserved holiday. In fact, without much effort, you could easily wile away a good couple of hours of the working day chortling at its contents. I would imagine. Anyhoo, it’s called…

…and is “a satirical news website which exposes the absurdities of modern life to rigorous scrutiny with ‘hilarious results’.” It was created by journalists Neil Rafferty and Paul Stokes both of whom have been columnists with major national newspapers in the past until the day they got THAT call from the editor informing them that “yeah, we really like yer stuff ‘n aw that like… honest… but the… um… paper’s going through some changes so thanks for aw yer hard work like ‘n best ‘o luck in all yer future endeav.. endov.. thingys. And don’t even think aboot stealing the stapler.”

The site was only launched yesterday (finger, pulse or what?) so kick off your shoes Dave, get your honkin’ feet up on the desk and catch up on all the latest news.

From the world of entertainment…
“Brad & Angelina In Bank Charge Refund Victory”

In politics…
“Three Year-Olds To Learn Klingon In Labour Manifesto Pledge”

And from the world of sport…
“Jesus ‘Put Me Off’ At 14th Green Says Woods”

Brilliant stuff. You’ll love it.

Oh, and I suppose if you’re really stuck for things to do in New York, you could do what I did and get a tattoo in Greenwich Village, get an artery-bustin’ dose of the meat sweats at Carnegie’s or Katz’s Deli and every time you come to the end of a block, spin round with joy and throw your funky knitted hat in the air. You’ve really no idea what I’m talking about now, have you?

Two things to watch out for though…

1. Fifth Avenue. That’s where Tiffanys is and nothing good can possibly come from going in there.

2. You might think your Peruvian Peasant Trousers are the bees’ b#llocks, sartorially-speaking, but if you insist on wearing them out to a NY comedy club at night, be prepared to suffer a sh#tload of abuse along the lines of “Ladies ‘n Gennellmen… Dave Lee Roth in da house!”

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Get Down Tonight

Across the street from the office building I worked in last year is an underground car park. After parking your vehicle, you’re supposed to take a set of stairs back up to street level rather than walking up the ramp you’ve just driven down in case a considerate BMW driver is having an off day and mows you down because he’s too busy singing along to the Simply Red CD blaring from the stereo. As a warning not to walk up the ramp, the sign below is posted at the ramp entrance with the appropriate wording “No Pedestrians”.

Last week in my new office building I saw this same sign posted on a door with the warning “Unauthorised persons step away from the area and go about your business - nothing to see here” because this is the door to the vast underground caves where we keep all the money paid in charges and fees by customers who, frankly, are kidding themselves if they think any lame lawsuit to reclaim them is ever going to succeed.

But every time I see this sign I think it can mean only one thing… “No Dancing Like Your Dad”. Seriously, stick a 1970s Tennents Lager can (with the “lovelies” on the side) in one hand and a cocktail stick with cheese and pineapple in the other, and you have a fair idea of the view I used to get peering up through a crack in the floorboards from the basement where I was kept when the folks were hosting their monthly “fondue soiree”. If you lean in and listen real carefully, I swear you can still hear the haunting strains of KC (avec Sunshine Band)… “Do a little dance, make a little love…”

Monday, April 16, 2007

Now iGet It

Since I came home from the States a couple of weeks ago – after successfully completing my gig as The Best Best Man In The World. Ever. – I’ve been constantly coughing and spluttering and expelling all manner of lovely green mucus-type expectorations from my nose and throat. At first I thought this was due to the punishment my system endured through constant exposure to long flights, sun stroke, heavy drinking, red meat, duty free cigarettes, late nights, early tee times and seriously dangerous levels of caffeine.

But now I’m thinking that walking down Main Street in a kilt under the blaze of a hot Texas sun was perhaps not the smartest of ideas especially when this was immediately followed by the sweet merciful relief of discovering a cooling mechanism designed specifically to refresh the parts that other cooling mechanisms just can’t reach.

However, I’m not one of those men who declares “man-flu” at the first hint of a sore eyelash (unless there’s a week-long X-Files marathon on the Sci-Fi Channel) so I’ve been finding ways to keep my spirits up in these trying times. And last Thursday evening I discovered a whole new world of fabulous entertainmentismness when I began playing with my new iPod.

It’s fair to say that in the past I’ve been largely ambivalent (and sometimes downright disparaging; although I was mad at everyone that week) about the iPod phenomenon and I’ve never had the urge to jump in and find out what all the fuss is about. But as a ‘thank you’ for my sterling work as The Best Best Man Ever, my brother Keith and his new bride Kathryn generously presented me with a gift of a cute little green iPod Shuffle to help me “take my first baby steps” in this new technological frontier.

And I have to say I’m fairly smitten with the whole experience. Even the small, clear plastic packaging with its rounded corners and seductive font is gorgeous to look at and lovely to fondle. Not to mention the intimate, on-line encounter that is downloading iTunes. I’ve rarely felt more loved and appreciated by the internet as every pop-up instruction box in the download process seemed to be delivered by a velvet-tongued Geisha, desperate to see to my every need.

“Would you like me to autofill your device with a randomly selected collection of favourite tunes?” she asked breathlessly at one point. “And while I’m at it, perhaps I could bathe you in a heavenly blend of sandalwood and ginseng and ‘refresh’ the parts that other on-line pop-up boxes can’t reach?”

I declined politely since I’ve been dating a pop-box on a different site for several months now, but if that doesn’t work out then I’m definitely coming back for more. In fact, I’m toying with the idea of filling up the iPod with 240 songs from 240 different artists, not only to maximise the excellent shuffle mode, but also because I can be guaranteed another 240 pop-up proposals.

Meantime, I’m content in the knowledge that if my recent fashion choice of denim jacket and dog tags wasn’t alluring enough, the addition of my iPod has rendered the Dangerous Rock God look complete. Man, just wait till the chicks at Sudoku Club get an eyeful of this next week. Rock ‘n roll baby.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Something For The Weekend 14

Hey Dave. Remember how you told me in confidence recently that you were thinking of “popping the question” and making an honest “woman” out of your “significant other”, who I’ve never met but who you assure me really does exist? Well, as the undoubted leading contender in the race to be your Best Man, let me offer some words of wisdom on how to keep your guests happy on the big day.

Back in the 80s – when you were just a teeny tiny little sperm who your parents hoped would one day blossom into a beautiful daughter – I attended a few weddings of school friends (some more ‘hastily arranged’ than others!) and they always included a strange ritual that I’ve never understood to this day.

At some point during the evening festivities – usually around the time when I was up at the buffet table for my fifth visit – the bride and her bridesmaids would wander round the tables dispensing little gifts, or ‘favours’, to the female guests as thanks for something that was never made clear. Probably something to do with shoe shopping. Or communal outings to the bathroom. Or hoovering.

Anyway, the point is that the gift or favour being offered was, without fail, a little net bag containing some type of almond-based confectionery so tough and jaw-breaking that major oil companies used to use them as back-up for the diamonds on the end of their drills when they needed to bore deep into the earth’s core at the bottom of the North Sea.

I mean… seriously… whit was THAT aw aboot? And don’t even try and get me started on that other pointless wedding ritual from days of yore… The Show Of Presents. Nightmare.

So, there are really only two things (three if you include an open bar) that you and your “bride” need to organise on your big day to ensure your guests remain happy throughout.

1. An evening buffet so large and sumptuous that it induces a serious case of the meat sweats. And…

2. A keepsake so cool and memorable that your guests will be talking about it until their dying day, or the twelfth of never, whichever is longest. And here it is. The Wedding Beer Koozie, personalised to your own personal taste and guaranteed to keep your adult beverage cold during this extended era of global warming. Since you’re just a minor – and I didn’t have any of your favourite Sunny D in the house – the koozies in this example contain a couple of stand-in Dr Peppers, the most misunderstood of all sodas. Cheers.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

THAT'S What I'm Talkin' About

Monday, April 09, 2007

If I Had A Million Dollars...

There’s only one thing that would ever stop me from watching live television coverage of the final day of the Masters… okay, two, if you count Gillian Anderson turning up at my door… and I suppose that if I was trapped down a well (again) or under something heavy – like kryptonite – then that would be three. Or four.

So, amongst several things – seemingly – that would stop me watching the final round of the Masters was the thing I did last night – which was to go and see the Best Live Band In The World.

“You mean to say Neil that The Signals have reformed and are playing secret warm up gigs before embarking on an all out assault for world domination once again?” squealed my Mum incredulously when I started to tell her the story at lunchtime today.

“Well.. eh.. yeah,” I replied, “but that’s not till later in the year.”

“So who did you go and see last night?” she enquired, having now refrained from punching the ceiling with excitement.

Barenaked Ladies,” I announced, enjoying the awkward moment and sniggering into my coffee cup.

“I’ll get your father.”

Seriously, I defy anyone to attend a Barenaked Ladies gig and NOT enjoy it. As well as being the tightest and most harmonious outfit I’ve ever seen, they just entertain from start to finish and their huge back catalogue of catchy, melodic tunes contains not one filler.

But that’s not all. Ten minutes after the gig ends you can go to the merchandise stall and pick up an audio copy of the gig you’ve just witnessed on one of these fancy-pie, flash storage media-type thingys. How cool is that? Unfortunately, my rapid ageing seems to require more frequent Aural Wax Eradication treatments because I’ve had this thingy clipped to my ear all day and I’m straining to pick up the merest hint of “One Week” or “It’s All Been Done”. Any and all advice gratefully received. And catch the band whenever they play a town near you. I GUARANTEE you’ll enjoy it.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Something For The Weekend 13

Hey Dave, I’m gonna be here all day today. (That’s me and Marty there in our flat caps.) Question is; why the hell aren’t you? Are you out of town? Picking out curtains? Shopping for rings? Let me know if I have to buy a new hat… eh… I mean, suit. And have a very happy Easter.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Too Tired To Two-Step

Man… I am so, like, totally jetlagged today that I can barely summon up the energy to lift the CDs I bought in Texas and file them properly in alphabetical order. I mean… they’re just LYING there, wantonly scattered round the living room in any old random fashion and could easily be misplaced or stuffed in the washing machine with my golf shirts at the drop of a Stetson. Insane, I know. (In case you’re reading this Donald, I picked up the new Johnny Cougar and Lucinda Williams, amongst others.)

So… Austin was like so totally awesome. Dude. There’re a million stories of great golf, exotic relatives, old friends, Mexican martinis, breakfast tacos, smokin’ barbeque, rockin’ music, quality two-steppin’ and the coolest little wedding y’all ever did see featuring my wee brother Keith and his beautiful bride Kathryn. My ancient little camera doesn’t really do it any justice but here are a couple of photos to give you a flavour.

This first one shows The Sutherlands (Best Man on the far left) gathered in the hotel lobby (Starbucks can be glimpsed in the far background) prior to walking eight blocks up Congress Avenue and LITERALLY stopping traffic on the way. We’re all laughing ‘cause my 85 year-old uncle (out of shot) has just yelled “Say Panties” and this is especially funny because…

a) He yells this every half hour and it’s very quaint, and…
b) At least three people in the photo aren’t wearing any. Place your bets now.

The wedding ceremony took place in a stylish downtown art gallery, the walls of which were adorned with many black and white photographs of various cultural icons. And Elton John. During the ceremony, I noticed that Lenny Kravitz’s Penis appeared to be peering over Kathryn’s shoulder as she said her vows and naturally I was concerned that this was something I should have taken care of as part of my Best Man duties. However, after checking the list of responsibilities that had been assigned to me, I was relieved to discover that “Deal With The Kravitz Vader” was not among the usual suspects of “Don’t Lose Rings Or Else”, “Be Funny Or Else” and “Don’t Mention That Time Keith Passed Out After Funny Cigarette Or Else”.

Luckily, we all saw the funny side – especially after my uncle encouraged Keith to “Say Panties” during his vows – and here you can see the happy couple having a right good laugh at the whole situation, with Kathryn indicating that Lenny is really rather less "feared Dark Lord" and a bit more "ten year-old Anakin".