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Friday, September 26

I had a good night just now. A pleasant jaunt to Leeds to perform some comedy and I think it went well though I've yet to review the tape. I even got home at what I consider to be a relatively reasonable time.

I really should go back to Leeds at some point. Perhaps I'll go within the next 17 hours or so. Yes, I think I'll do that.

Tuesday, September 23

I blame my lack of sleep, or perhaps my being preoccupied with a variety of other things, or the fact that I was running late... perhaps it was that I hadn't opened the curtains and the light is not all that good... okay, I made a mistake, but I sorted it out. I realised my error when I needed to go to the loo at work. I had accidentally installed my gentleman's foundation wear in reverse - by that I mean with its access channels at the rear. In other words, I had my pants on backwards. How embarrassing! If at all possible, try not to do that. It requires significant undressing to rectify and I banged my knee on the toilet-roll dispenser in a cubicle in the toilet while I sorted it out.

Monday, September 22

I'll nominate Jekyll & Hyde by Bricusse and Wildhorn as today's Musical of the day. I've heard this soundtrack once and it sounds nice and familiar on second listening. There are some repeated tunes within the score, which probably helped. I could not sing anything to you from the show yet, but it's a well crafted piece. I remember recognising some well-thought out lyrics from my first listening.

I'm worried that I may have to go and see Scrooge next month in order to see if Bricusse is as good a composer as he is a lyricist.

Great news. I spotted a number plate with 60 on it as I drove into work today. So, my CNPS score has finally moved. It's taken nearly a month. I've seen a lot of 61's, so hopefully, one will spring up now that I need it.

I've been a bit trigger happy and I bought some books from WHS online today. These books will be delivered to my neighbouring store and will be on average 20% cheaper than if I went to the store to buy them. Hang on... I'm going to the store to buy them... where are WHS benefitting? They have increased costs from selling this book to me. It makes no sense.

Ah well. Discounts rule!

Sunday, September 21

Well... it's been an interesting weekend. I've been doing various music-related activities. I tried my hand at scoring (musically, that is - I've not become a smack-addict) and it's pretty intensive (perhaps drugs would be easier to do). I've been doing a bit of writing and editing (some lyrics have been really bugging me), and I've also auditioned for a musical.

The musical was Camelot and I've found out that I got the part I was hoping for. I'm a knight of the round table. Huzzah! Just call me Sir Lionel.

If I'd been the auditioning panel, I would have refused me the part. I gave a shocking performance! The singing was particularly poor. It all seemed to last about 6 nanoseconds too. Still, I'll work hard at rehearsal to make my stage performance better than that. There were 4 parts on offer and 4 of us auditioning... so the competition was not particularly fierce. However, I'm still happy with the result, even though the route there was a bit sub-optimal.

I have a plan now.

Friday, September 19

Does someone's personality come out in their writing?
This is something I've been wondering for a while. If you look at the question of what a personality actually is, it seems a remarkably complex thing. Surely it would be difficult to identify someone's personality uniquely through something as limited as the words of a few sentences? or perhaps a few musical phrases? or a few brush strokes?

However, I think that you can spot the hallmarks of someone's personality in their writing. People who read the drivel I write tend to notice my turn of phrase and, when I'm writing informally, the timing and cadences of how I speak. I overuse ellipsis and hyphens in my informal writing in order to create the impression of my timing (or maybe they're a sign of the disorder in my mind).

Likewise, I'm convinced I can spot the hand of certain favourite composers in their writing. In my case, I'm talking about the composers of musicals, since I've gone musicals mad. I suppose, I'm spotting tunes that seem to share similar small phrases with other tunes from the same composer. Andrew Lloyd Webber is a good example. Indeed, I can recognise individual orchestra chords from the man as being typical of his touch.

So, if you read this blog and form a judgement of the man behind the words, you're probably judging some aspects of the real me. Be gentle with me.

Thursday, September 18

I can see! I'm not sure I like it, but I can clearly focus at distance. These new specs do seem to do the job. I suspect I'll have a headache from the wealth of detail that's suddenly become drawn into my field of vision. Plus, I'm not sure of how to judge distance, now that distant objects seem clearer than I remember them being.

I've just used my newly focused eyes to view a rather nice marketing website - Host Universal - I'm not convinced about the need to double click on their links to view the subsections, but I do like the constellation approach to an interactive site map/exploration metaphor.

Well... I'm a quitter. I only got half-way through Cabaret last night before losing my concentration. I'll have to have another go at chapters 19 onwards tonight. I'll reserve judgement until I've seen it through. I can't help but subconsciously draw comparisons between it and Chicago (same writing team).

It must have been the rigours of the time between work and getting home that reduced my energy levels below those required to concentrate on a Liza Minnelli film. I helped a friend a car transportation situation. I towed him around 12 miles from Blyth to his home in Newcastle. This car was a slightly unroadworth vehicle he plans to work on in his spare time at home. As such, its brakes were not really up to much. Towing is a black art, and one which he first inducted me into a few weeks ago when I had to tow his more roadworthy vehicle when it broke down. The tricky part is that the front car is not supposed to brake, since it will cause an immediate rear-ender from the rear car. So the rear car does the braking for two, while the front does the accelerating for two. The aim is to keep the tow rope taut.

Travelling on A roads at 40 miles an hour in tandem with a car with poor braking is the ultimate test of:
  • Concentration
  • Trust in your co-pilot
  • Endurance
  • Nerve
  • Other road users
There were a couple of hairy moments en route. One was pulling onto a roundabout which people were tearing round - even though I left it until I saw the roundabout as completely empty, we only really had a few seconds to get going. I'm glad I didn't have to be the car on tow in that situation - he had to trust my judgement completely and hope that I could get us going quickly enough. The other hairy moment involved turning right through some fast moving thick traffic. A gap was long in appearing. A bus behind us decided not to wait and so turned before us, into the oncoming traffic lane of the street we were wanting to turn into. There was a car in the oncoming traffic lane, waiting to come out, so the bus went to its right - phenomenal to watch!

The mission was accomplished with a minimum of fear and loss of skin. Result!

Wednesday, September 17

I'll nominate Miss Saigon for today's Musical of the day. It's probably a better work than Les Miserables in a number of ways, though that doesn't mean I definitely prefer the one over the other. To the uninitiated, these two musicals are by the same authors - Boublil and Schonberg.

I suspect I'll have a night out this evening, but if I don't, I may sit down and watch Cabaret which arrived on DVD this morning. Having watched the entire first series of Black Books, which is, suprisingly, not a musical, last night, I may have had my quota of TV watching for the week - it's hard to say.

Perhaps I'll delay the watching of any TV until I take delivery of my new glasses. Yes. The git glasses I presently have are not long of this world. I allowed a nice lady optician and an even nicer lady Optical Dispenser to talk me out of a significant quantity of money in return for some glasses which will, hopefully, work out to have been a good investment when I review my eyewear in 10 years. I can't believe it, but I've been in need of spectacles for almost exactly 8 years to the day - my first choice of frames, back in 1995, was really poor. Hopefully, the expense of these new frames and lenses will make me cherish them and wear them more.

Tuesday, September 16

Another musical of the day
Okay, I'll declare another musical of the day. I'm not sure I can be bothered to do this very often, but if I'm listening to a musical, or some musicals, that I consider to be noteworthy, then I shall nominate them as my musicals of the day. Today's is:

Whistle Down The Wind

This is a show which made me cringe slightly with some of its lyrics. Jim Steinman can do better than some of the humdinger nasties in this libretto. However, they're not that bad, just not so good in the context of this show and considering who wrote them. I'll forgive Mr Steinman his words, since I've heard a hell of a lot worse lyrics and worse rhymes over the last few months - some of which I've probably written myself.

Hopefully, I'll get a second chance to see this show. I saw it in June or July of last year, I think. I may have had a display of emotion watching it if it hadn't have been for one of the child stars singing sharp at a critical moment. Thank heavens for my critical nature!

Yesterday I saw Blood Brothers with Steve. By that I mean I saw it while sitting next to Steve, not that he was in it. Linda Nolan was in it, along with a talented cast, who gave life to the characters in a way which guaranteed audience empathy. There were some truly entertaining moments in the script, which impressed me both in terms of how effortlessly they had been written and how well executed they were by the cast. A laugh is a good thing to create with a script and performance, a long-lasting laugh is a hard thing to get with a one-liner. Willy Russell can paint characters which give you genuine joy to watch.

Sadly, Blood Brothers is a show with some big flaws. Perhaps these are flaws that are only obvious to people who dare to analyse a show while watching it. I think that I might have blithely enjoyed the show if I didn't have a mind that seeks to analyse and is particularly attuned to the construction of musicals. As such, I spotted a lot of obvious setups and I also spotted the paucity of ideas in the musical numbers. A lot of the songs were the same tune and variations on the same lyrics. There were a few motifs that were simply overused and got irritating towards the end.

Looking at it another way, I went home with three tunes kicking around in my head. However, I felt more like I'd been cudgelled with them, rather than enticed into loving them. You can't help having a song in your head if it's been repeated countless times over a show and doesn't have too much variation within it. Mr Russell's lyrics are, for the most part, ok. However, there were some relatively dodgy quarter rhymes "cracked" with "pass" sort of thing.

I didn't agree with the standing ovation that the show got. However, I did join it, since I felt that the performances deserved the praise, where the show had failings, the cast had given their all and made it work.

There is an interesting rule of musicals I can derive from this experience and a couple of other things I've seen recently. If you create a character and make the audience care about them - essentially, the audience sees them doing good things, or sees them growing up, or being endearing, or entertaining... or cares about hating them because they are evil... if you do that, then your ending can work really well when you make their story end happily or badly. Either will work.

At the end of Guys and Dolls, two couples get married - we know their stories well enough to be pleased for them. At the end of Blood Brothers, the two brothers, who we saw grow up and who made us laugh, die unnecessarily. Their mother, who we've also see 20 odd years of development of, straightens their clothes and joins their hands so that, in death, they're friends. You can't help but feel that.

If Russell write to a formula, he'll know this. I suspect he doesn't use a book of formulae. Unfortunately, he didn't structure his show in a way which gave me many surprises, which suggests that he could have been more inventive.

Monday, September 15

Here is either a regular feature waiting to happen, or a badly named one-off feature:

Musicals of the day : 15th September 2003

Today's musicals of the day are Little Shop of Horrors and A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum.

See you next time for more musicals of the day!

Saturday, September 13

I have three interests, so it would seem. In no particular order, these are comedy, music and computers. In each category, I get involved as deeply as I can and try to acquire as much background knowledge as I can without getting bored. I like to know how things work. I like to know who is who, what connects to what... it's the sheer quantity of detail that you can get to know which I find incredibly inspiring, while astoundingly individually trivial.

I have no idea if I am talented in any of the fields I involve myself with. I fear that the only thing I have any natural talent for is computing, and the fact that I do that for a living, and write freelance on the subject, means that my enthusiasm for the subject is replaced by more of a work ethic. At the moment, work ethics come second to hobby ethics. That means that the work gets done, but gets forgotten when I'm not doing it. So, computing, even if it is the only thing I'm really any good at, is still taking more of a back seat in my life.

My passion for comedy is soon to be demonstrated when I embark on my next 10 comedy gigs, these will be performed in a 5 week period - not bad considering the fact that I managed only 10 gigs in a 3 week period during the Edinburgh festival, and everything was within 30 minutes' walk, rather than 3 hours' driving. I love conceiving and performing comedy routines - I'm actually quite enjoying the few comedy songs that I can conjure up too. Indeed, my act is going more musical.

This whole "let's do it as a musical" approach is also hardly a surprise. My life has revolved around musicals for the last year. I am sitting in a room with approximately 90 CD recordings of various musicals' soundtracks. A year ago, I was only just into double figures. So I can buy CD's... big deal. Yes, but in the last year I've co-written a show. I've also conceived another 4 musicals of which two I'm in the process of writing in some form or other. I've appeared in 2 musicals (a total of 8 months' rehearsal time involved). I'm rehearsing a 3rd. I've worked backstage on two others. I've been to see maybe a dozen professional productions of musicals and several amateur productions (largely during the festival). I've read books, looked at websites and become strangely infatuated with the whole artform.

So what does this mean to me in day to day life? Well, it means that my mind is frequently drifting around in the world of performing arts. I will often end an evening out having found myself in deep conversation with someone on the subject of their favourite musical. I need to recognise this fact and do something about it. So I have. Today I have spoken to a hell of a lot of people on the subject of musicals. Indeed, I spent approximately 6 hours talking to approximately 100 different people on the subject. Why? Well, I'm setting up a society at the student union for the very purpose of creating and understanding works of musical theatre. Perhaps I've found a niche? Or at least I've found a forum why my own fetish for musicals seems appropriate. From the people I've spoken to today, I could form an orchestra, or chorus, or perhaps a small dance troupe. Quite whether I'd get that far is another matter.

Tonight I watched Guys and Dolls (a musical of course). This is a show whose music I knew, but whose plot I didn't. I saw the movie version - it's been kicking around my place for a few months, but I finally sat myself down to view it. I'm glad I bought it. It was absolutely fantastic. Jean Simmons, as the Salvation Army-style leader, looked familiar and I've just looked her up on IMDB and realised why. I last looked her up after watching Spartacus. At that time I don't think I scrolled down to discover that she was also in Guys and Dolls. Indeed, I don't recall Stanley Kubrick as bring the director of Spartacus when I watched it. It's amazing how these things suddenly seem interesting - Mr Kubrick was, of course, the director of the film I watched the other day - Dr Strangelove - a film I was greatly enamoured of - the precision of its construction was amazing and a lesson in writing and filmmaking. And the final link in the chain of musicals, directors, actresses and my obsession for pointless trivia. Well, I just bought a CD online - Jeff Wayne's musical version of Spartacus. So it all links back to musicals...

I'd just like to point out that these are actually meaningless and tenuous links. If I were a bit of a mentalist, I might start to conceive conspiracy theories around the subject of how it's all linked in a suspicious way and is part of some mind control thing, making me buy CDs and DVDs. In fact it's clear why it's all linked up - the world of performance is, quite necessarily, incestuous, and it's often the case that the talent rises to the position of most prominence. Perhaps my ability to ride the crests of the waves of hollywood talent in my choice viewing is an indication of how discerning I am, or maybe how broad a church my tastes have become.

Interestingly (to me that is), I considered Spartacus a very rich source of material for a musical when I watched it. I hope that the version of Spartacus by Jeff Wayne (who also did a musical of War of the Worlds - hey, wait, that's an H.G. Wells, novel - I know someone else who wrote a musical based on an H.G. Wells novel [me and Chris] - sorry, still no conspiracy there) is as inspiring as his previous work.

Right. I'd better go. I'm starting to sound dangerous.

I have had a good day, though, which makes a change this week.

Thursday, September 11

A new morning and a brighter outlook. Sadly, we're still working really hard to get nowhere.

Indeed, looking back on this day, it was a particularly low ebb in my working month. Attempting to flesh out the ill-considered ideas was a potentially positive process, but it soon ground to a halt. Reaching the end of the day, I was in a noticeably irritable and downtrodden mood. Driving out of Newcastle to my rehearsal was a great release. At the rehearsal, I brightened up considerably and took myself to a point of nearly getting giggly as the musical director "da da" and "dee dee"ed his way through some of the songs to demonstrate their tempi. "These aren't the original lyrics", I quipped and then nearly found myself losing my composure at my own poor joke.

I don't suffer fools gladly. I know that. I also know that I'm quick to judge people as fools. Especially, if they give me evidence to that effect. I am quite good at keeping an open mind, though. People do get second, third, even fourth chances with me. However, I have no desire to aim for foolishness in my own work. I will not join a group of people marching over a cliff.

Wednesday, September 10

Well, it's been a pretty poor day. It did have one point in its favour. I received my copy of the 20th Anniversary Double CD of the Evita original concept album. I've only listened to the first act so far, but it's pretty special. Sure, there are faults in it - it's a classic version one (as in flawed and in need of revision) - but it's amazing how much has survived as far as the movie version with which I'm most familiar. Indeed, it's a tribute to the excellent writing and original performances that so much of what was created in concept in the studio has been worth keeping for the last 27 years! It's worth remembering that orchestrations and lyrics are not all that makes a musical - the phrasing and accents used by the performers are part of the deal too.

But, it has been a poor day. I've felt remarkably alone. I start the day alone - sleeping is a very solo process, and I sleep exceedingly deeply and always just that bit longer than I want to, somehow the solitude is addictive to me. Amazingly, I was able to rise yesterday at 3.45, but unable to get out of bed this morning at a more sensible 7.45 or even 8.45! However, I managed to arrive at work in time for my meeting. Yes, I went to the meeting on time and they'd started without me! Not quite a good start to the day. Then after a variety of solo tasks, it was time for a meeting in which I felt that I was the only person who understood a central problem we were facing. Alternatively, I was the only person who didn't understand the central problem we were facing. Either way, I was on my own. As such, there's not much I can do. If you're on your own but people are looking to you for guidance, then you are in a position to communicate with them, and they want to hear what you have to say. If you are on your own and people think you've lost the plot, then there's not much you can actually do, except rant and rave, which gets you nowhere, or bite your tongue and bide your time. I can't hold my silence when I feel strongly. I'd be shit at poker.

So, I walked home after work on a bit of a downer. I had two things in my hand. One was my new Evita CD and the other was a cheap DVD, which I received in the post this morning - my first DVD with Chinese writing on the front. It was cheap because it was the Chinese release of a western film that I'd rather not pay an extra £5 for. The benefit of a multi-region DVD is being able to buy the cheapest release of the film you want. Hooray for digital data!

So, without realising it, I was about to embark on what shall be termed as my first "theme night" at home, alone. In fact it was "Chicago Night". Since about 7pm, when the evening's entertainment started, I've been in rapture, watching movies. I only managed to watch two, but they were two movies worth watching. First off, the new DVD. Possibly my quickest time from receiving a new DVD to watching it through - it only took 9 hours before it was off and rolling. The movie, why it was "Chicago" of course.

Chicago is a musical which I saw at the theatre with Steve a few months back and thought was pretty amazing. I had heard that the movie was done differently and it certainly was. I knew the movie versions of the songs, since I have a copy of its soundtrack. I had intended to see it at the cinema, but never had time when it was on general release. As a movie, this musical needed something clever to turn its stage devices into screen-friendly scenes. They found someone clever and it was directed very well, performed excellently and it flowed like a dream! The only disadvantage to the screen version is the absence of the song "Class", which appears on the CD (albeit marked as a bonus track). However, the fact that the movie runs to a succint 90 minutes or so is probably a good trade-off for the missing song. Watching "Dr Strangelove" the other day, I remarked how well a shorter film seems to work, compared with the 3 hour epics that modern producers seem intent on foisting upon us! Anyway, "Chicago" is a masterpiece, well deserving of its Oscars and I enjoyed it thoroughly. The music of Kander and Ebb is proof positive that modern Broadway musicals can be written well (a standard that I found lacking in some of the shows I saw at Edinburgh). The performances from Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger and Richard Gere were stunning. It was interesting to see that the credits billed "Singing and dancing for Richard Gere - Richard Gere" and so on for the others. As if they needed proof that it wasn't all special effects.

"Chicago Night" continued with another DVD. This is a movie I've loved for years and have not seen for around 9 or 10 years. "The Blues Brothers" is a classic film and the version on my DVD showed it at its best. The film is set in Chicago - I don't know if I realised that when I chose to watch it, or if it was even a subconscious link in my mind. I'm not sure if the DVD had extra scenes or whether I just noticed a few new things in the mix. I was certainly kept entertained for the duration of the movie, though. I'd never considered it a musical before, but I suppose it is. The fact that some songs sort of just happen, and the choreography applies to people outside of the band and the fact that the scenes are prone to flights of fancy - where people start behaving in a way that is irrational in the real world, but appropriate musically - well, it all adds up to the symptoms of a musical. In this case, of course it's the sort of musical where you have dry comic scenes, huge car chases and a surreal part of the city where John Lee Hooker is a street performer, Aretha Franklin runs a restaurant, Ray Charles runs a secondhand music shop and James Brown is a priest... in a world where Princess Leia from Star Wars is a jilted bride/stalker. It's delightfully silly! I had never realised that Steven Spielberg had a cameo role in the film until today (when I read the credits).

It's good that I found more entertainment at home, alone, that I did at work, alone. However, I think my days would be rounder if I was entertained all the time. Perhaps I need a troupe of clowns to follow me round and perform their amusing antics when I'm looking a little peaky.

Monday, September 8

Something of a strange day. I quite enjoyed my bus journey into work. I greatly enjoyed my lunchtime trip home, fuelling the borrowed car and getting a home made lunch.

Professionally, I have found that Socrates was a good master - question something until it breaks down.

You know how sometimes it's good to notice changes in someone's figure. The words "You've lost weight, haven't you?" have come from my lips on more than one occasion - I tend to notice these things - and are always received well. However, it doesn't work the other way. Here's what I'd like to say to one of the workers from the next door office, but I always stop myself:

Hey - you're getting progressively fatter aren't you? It's gradual, but it's noticeable isn't it? You're turning into a bit of a chubber really, aren't you? - you looked a lot better when you were thinner. Add to that the fact that you're frequently found smoking outside of the front of the office... well, it can't be good for you. Give up the cigarettes... and the chips!

Pot, kettle, black...

Sunday, September 7

Now I have discovered that Currants are named after the Greek city of Corinthe. That makes sense.

A weekend of attempting to face up to who Ashley Frieze really is. At the moment it's hard to say. I can say the following, though:
  • I've gone through one set of batteries on my new toy - a remote control classic style green mini... and I've been shouting things like "You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off" and "Hang on lads, I've got an idea"
  • I spent nearly as much time making a pointless (but amusing) song as I did grudgingly tending to my garden
  • My freezer management is poor but I have attempted to deal with it... I now have a bunch of tupperware containers with home-cooked goodies in and I have ditched a number of things that should have been consumed many moons ago.
  • I would much rather waste my time on the internet and listening to my silly songs than get a small work-related task completed
  • I have no control over my sleeping habits.
  • I am a haunted man - sometimes my thoughts stray to where they should have no need to stray. I don't mean in a spooky or slightly-mental way. I just mean that I have one or two things that I tend to start chewing over, without realising it... usually during gardening. Which is a good reason never to do any gardening.
  • It can be exciting having things in the freezer that are unlabelled, since you only have an approximate idea of what they are before you defrost them. This excitement is somewhat diminished when you only have a limited number of things in the freezer and they're all the same.
  • I may be becoming freezer obsessed
  • Okay. So, my freezer contains
    • Ice cubes
    • A tub with carrot/swede mash and mashed potato with spring onion
    • 3 portions of Ashley's Bolognese sauce
    • 6 portions of Ashley's Apple and Rhubarb crumble - 1 from the previous batch
    Happy now?
When you read blogs like this on other people's sites, you usually feel that they're dull and pointless individuals who should think of something more interesting to write about than the contents of their freezers. I don't see why you should think any differently of this post. Perhaps it will be interesting one day should I choose to write my memoirs. I can picture it now:

Around September of 2003, I became very interested in freezer contents - it was probably a latent response to an old "The Shamen" song - "Ebeneezer Goode". I remember the lyrics "He's a good, he's a good, he's Ebeneezer Goode". I had lampooned them thusly - "He's a good, he's a good, it's Ashley's Freezer goods". Of course, I wasn't to realise that, some ten years later, my freezer goods would hold such great significance in my life. Perhaps the obsession was also fuelled by the need to put off completing a document that I'd attempted to edit over the course of nearly three hours and had always found an excuse not to start work on. Indeed, the urge to go and defrost the freezer suddenly became a strong one.

I don't think it would be a million seller if I did that. I really must get that document finished. Perhaps I'll just surf a bit longer...

Then I read about this guy trying out the all-natural products from his local store. They may not have been intended for human digestion, but he had a go at eating them anyway! Hilarious.

At first glance, this page on adding nipples to bra catalogues would seem to be schoolboy humour. However, read it through. Read the following pages too... it surprised me. Quite funny really!

It has most certainly been an odd day. The aim to devote some time to the garden was scuppered by two factors. Firstly, I couldn't shift my sorry ass out of bed before 11.30, and secondly, when I reviewed the weather at this time, I was glad I'd had the extra sleep, since it would have been highly unpleasant gardening in such conditions - damp and nasty.

I've amused myself by writing a wholly inappropriate song on a work-related topic. Musically it's ok and lyrically it's entertaining... the problem is that it has a maximum target audience of about 10 people. Still, it continues to amuse me. Perhaps I'll rewrite the lyrics for another purpose one day.

The shopping at Asda was expensive, but I have managed to use the remainder of this year's rhubarb harvest - it was most unimpressive - and stock up my freezer with my world-class crumble. In this case, owing to a last-minute miscalculation on the subject of sugar, I managed to cover my apple and rhubarb mixture (there really wasn't much rhubarb - hence it getting second billing) with some sort of bizarre cookie dough. However, it tastes pretty reasonable and it will tide me over the winter months. The non-sequitur of Asda price and cooking is actually not a non-sequitur... I just didn't explain myself. I have not really done much in the way of a weekly big shop for a while, usually buying ingredients for sandwiches, soup and little more. Today I tried to buy everything I had run out of. Of course, I forgot a few essentials, so I feel a bit cheated. Such is the way of the world.

This evening I watched "Dr Strangelove". This has to be one of the most amazingly well-constructed films I've seen. The secret is in keeping it tight and concise. Modern films could learn a lot from this 90 minute masterpiece. I then found the time slipping away when I watched the documentary that was also on the DVD... however, that was more because it was making frequent references to the film I'd just seen and so kept my interest.

Friday, September 5

Limitations at The Hyena

The gig guide, which serves as a memorial to the gigs I've done as well as a schedule of what's coming up, is now updated to show what I'll be up to for the rest of the year. Hopefully, I'll do more than is written. Equally, however, I've decided to be a little bit more careful about travelling huge distances for short spots with no fee. Basically, I can't afford to give myself away (even if I'm only worth giving away) as much as I was before August. It's been a fun few months doing stand-up so far, but it will become a very expensive and unsatisfactory hobby if I continue doing it as before.

The gig at the Hyena tonight showed me my limitations. I can make an audience laugh, but some of my material and some of my delivery runs the risk of losing momentum. I may simply have to learn to be funnier... or bigger. Bizarrely, I think it's down to the size of my stage persona and the size of the laughs I'm trying to raise. Who would have thought I'd want to be bigger?

Post gig groupies are an interesting side to this business... I should point out that I'm only capable of talking, which is probably good, since that's all I'm marked for.

Not a terrible gig tonight. Not a storming roof-raiser either... but perhaps now the dreams can end.

Oh yes, and I must remember to laugh at the bizarre blood-donation session with a funeral occurring next door.

Monday, September 1

Forgot to mention that I saw The Wall this weekend too. What an odd experience that is. I'd like to say that I understood it, but I'm not certain that would be the truth.

Talking of not understanding things - here's the best spam mail I've ever received:

I'm a time traveler stuck here in 2003. Since nobody here seems to be able to get me what I need (safely here to me), I will have to build a simple time travel circuit to get where I need myself. I am going to need an easy to follow picture diagram for a simple time travel circut, which can be built out of (readily available) parts here in 2003. Please email me any schematics you have. I will pay good money for anything you send me I can use. Or if you have the rechargeable AMD dimensional warp generator wrist watch unit available, and are 100% certain you have a (secure) means of delivering it to me please also reply. Send a separate email to me at: Do not reply back directly to this email as it will only be bounced back to you.

Thank You
Brian Appel

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