Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Other American Stuff...

Hmmm… I’m not really finding much amusing stuff to tell you about at the moment am I? And life is too short to write/read about some of the other stuff that’s going on. So why not look at some pictures instead since I’ve finally got round to seeing how many photos I took in the States recently. The answer is ‘not many’, what with all the napping and what not.

These first two show where I stayed when I was in Connecticut; the house of my brother Keith and his lovely wife Kathryn. Check out the cool Lone Star at the front (I bought that!) and the “outside room” round the back. Adds twenty grand to the value of the property apparently.

Here’s me and R2D2 hanging out in some desolate planetary outpost riddled with space bandits and thieves and smugglers… or “Queens”, as it’s known to New Yorkers. We were on our way to see some US Open tennis (that’s the Arthur Ashe stadium in the background) but the wee man’s journey was short lived when he couldn’t get up the stairs to that elevated walkway. Man, I’ve never heard such awful beepin’ language from a droid before.

Here’s the view from our seats in the aforementioned Arthur Ashe stadium, mentioned previously. We saw that Belgian girl – Poirot? – thrash somebody and then saw some eastern European guy with an unpronounceable name thrash some other eastern European guy with an unpronounceable name. I think he made it to the final. Great night.

For many, many reasons I love minor league baseball… Bull Durham, Susan Sarandon, cheap beer… This is the home of the Bridgeport Pirates on a beautiful summer’s evening; a half-filled stadium where it was $1 hot dog night (“I’ll take ten please.”) and after every innings a bunch of free stuff would get thrown into the crowd. Magic.

Here’s my wee brother Keith checking out the ladies tee on the 9th hole of this course because I think he was getting beaten at the time and was looking for an easier tee shot. Ho, ho, ho…

And finally, here’s where The Signals played a secret, one-off gig in advance of our US tour next year.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

For Sale... Awesomeness.. iticity...

Right then… I know I sometimes joke around on this website and have, in the past, been accused of just making stuff up for a cheap comedy interlude – that whole 2005 facade of being 40+, single and desperately on the lookout for a girlfriend / roommate / sudoku puzzle was especially amusing.

Believe it or not, some have even said to me that I must be using humour as some kind of “defence mechanism” so as not to reveal the contents of my “closed book” to a larger world. I think we can agree that if those same people had taken their, frankly, ludicrous accusations and locked them up tight in a box beside their innermost fears, childhood nightmares and crippling self-doubt and then buried it deep, deep down in the darkest reaches of their troubled psyches like I did, we’d all be a whole lot better off.

Anyway, the point of all that was to let you know that I have something serious to say (actually, ‘sell’ would be a more accurate verb) and I didn’t want anyone to poo-poo this plea as a mere whim; something to be smiled at and then wantonly discarded like a cheap suit worn by a fat man with sores on his face who had been punched in the stomach by a hook… eh… never mind.

Remember ages ago when I was going on and on and on and on and then on some more about The Police and the reunion tour and how I have tickets to go and see them play in Manchester, England on Monday October 15th 2007? You don’t? Well you can read about it here and here and here and here and then some more here.

I’m still going to the concert next month along with “a friend” (not YOU Dave) but I have two spare tickets that I was about to sell on eBay tonight until I thought to myself, “Christ, I can’t be arsed with all that form-filling and postage details and what not – I’ll just ask both readers instead.”

So if you’d like to go to this once-in-a-lifetime experience, or you know of anyone who would, please get in touch in the next few days before I return to the eBay option. If you are looking for selling points for associates and/or your own conscience, they are many and varied and include:

1. The seats are less than 20 rows from the front of the stage.
2. You’ll be sitting beside ME!
3. It’ll be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. (Unless you’re me, for whom it’ll be a third-time-in-a-lifetime experience.)
4. My sister saw them in London a couple of weeks ago and told me they were “awesome”. And she only ever uses that adjective for hard liquor… when it’s pronounced “aweshum”.
5. Yes, I paid £85 each for the tickets (but think what you’d pay for an evening with George Michael) but I’m prepared to sell at a slight discount since you’ve managed to read all the way down to here.
6. I promise it’s gonna be great and if you’re really, really lucky, you may get to see me pee my panties. If I remember to wear any.

On Friday evening I’m returning to the hassle of navigating eBay so you have until then to flex your address books and let me know of any interested parties. Go on… I’d much rather sell them to you.

N x

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I have escaped from Pizza Rehab.
I have managed to return home.
I have quit smoking.
I have a new internet service “provider”.
I have Indian-based “help” line numbers on speed dial.
I rebuilt my computer to enable my new internet service “provider” to “provide” me with internet… service.
I have lost all my “favourites”.
I have taken up smoking again.
I have forgotten how to use paragraphs.
I have other things to tell you about America but I can’t remember what they are.
I defrosted a fridge freezer at the weekend for the time in… um… ever.
I went to the movies to see ‘Atonement’ and didn’t fall asleep.
I am reading a fantastic sports book called ‘Friday Night Lights’.
I am going to my bed…

Friday, September 07, 2007

The Cable Guy... What A F###### W#####!

For reasons too frustrating to explain lest I climb on the roof of a tall building with a high-powered rifle and a box of doughnuts, I have no “high speed” internet at home. In fact I have no f###### internet at home, full stop.

Not that I could climb/rifle/doughnut of course, because I’m still in Pizza Rehab in the States and have only managed to relay this message to my house-sitter when she came to visit today by means of Morse Code Eye Blinking due to the ongoing and intensive straightjacket-plus-ball-gag treatment programme.

But fear not… I’m a Goddamn marvel of modern science and the Chief’s gonna break us both out of here at the weekend.


Saturday, September 01, 2007

Mystic Pizza

There's only so much holiday time you can spend golfing and smoking and napping and drinking – I think my current record is two years – before you get a notion to go and do something else… like walk four miles to the nearest Starbucks, which I once did in Texas. However, with a sporty little car at my disposal here in Connecticut, I thought it would be an idea to visit one of the neighbouring States by taking a leisurely drive along the coast. And by "leisurely drive along the coast" I mean, of course, "white-knuckle, pants-filling game of Interstate Death Race 2007." I'll save my growing list of "quaint US driving practices" for another time but let's just say I was glad I wasn't wearing my "stress-revealing" khaki shorts when the big 18-wheelers roared up my rear-end at an approximate distance of six inches.

Despite the towns and malls and interstate concrete, one thing you notice pretty quickly about driving through New England is just how many trees there are everywhere – I think the official National Geographic quantification is "a sh#tload". If I was in charge of tourism up here I'd be promoting this feature endlessly because I bet they look spectacular when they change colour later in the year.

Having visited 29 US States in the past, my original plan was to head north via Massachusetts and add Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine to the list. But even though they're some of the smallest States around, they're still hundreds of miles away (Kell – this was the point where I decided Omaha was too much of "a ways away") so a day trip to Newport, Rhode Island seemed much more agreeable.

The Rhode Island border is only 100 miles or so from where I'm staying and as usual when I cross a State line in this country, I was left a little disappointed. Just once I'd like to see a State trooper poised menacingly behind a billboard, ready to check whether I'm carrying any homemade moonshine to a thirst-ravaged, prohibition county, something that many years of keenly observing Daisy Duke's skimpy denim shorts on tv seems to have implanted in me.

Finally emerging from all the trees, I crossed the spectacular Claiborne Pell bridge (longer than the Golden Gate) to reach Newport and parked downtown. Despite the 95 degree heat, I tied a wooly Tommy Hilfiger v-neck jauntily around my neck (it's the law in New England!) and spent a few hours exploring this lovely seaside town. As you'd expect of a place with close associations to the "America's" Cup (current holders Switzerland!), it's full of boats, tackle stores, salty old dogs (don't ask me how I know), seafood restaurants, ice cream parlours and antique shoppes and it reminded me a lot of Freemantle, home of the Australian winners of the "America's" Cup. Despite all the numerous culinary temptations on offer, I refrained from eating any of "ye olde fish & chippes" because I had much more exciting dinner plans.. eh.. planned for the way home.

Back across the border in Connecticut is the quaint little town of Mystic which has a historic seaport, seafaring museums, tall ships, an aquarium and blah, blah, blah… I'm here for one thing only; the pizza featured in 1998 movie "Mystic Pizza" starring Julia Roberts, Lili Taylor and lovely Annabeth Gish who grew up to be even lovelier Agent Monica Reyes in "The X-Files". Man, those producers knew how to cast a show!

It's late afternoon so the restaurant is nice and quiet before the evening rush and it's with no small degree of excitement that I order the "Meatza Pizza", not a big favourite with vegetarians. But get this… I only ordered the 'small' (the 10") and even more alarming, I couldn't finish it. In case you missed that or have just keeled over in shock, I'll say it again – I COULDN'T FINISH a 10" pizza. As you'd expect, I've already made an emergency appointment at the local medical centre to discover how grave the problem is and, if the tests go poorly, I'm fully expecting to be prescribed the digestive equivalent of Cialis. Candlit vigils are being observed at most local churches this weekend and we're all hoping for the best possible outcome so please whisper a quiet word of prayer and come back soon to find out if I've been allowed to retain full Man Card-carrying privileges.