Sunday, 30 April 2006

And I'm Gone...

By the time many of you read this, Mark and I will be on our way on The Big Adventure.

Wish us luck.

We're catching a train to Bangor early in the morning and will start our walk to our first show, in Capel Curig, with a very heavy rucksack and an intrepid spirit. Mark and I did a dress rehearsal tonight for a select audience, it went very well indeed so it seems the show is the least of our worries.

I must confess that I am very nervous, as well as excited, it is a tough and quite amazing journey we have ahead of us and please take time to spare a thought for two ramblers with a show as their only currency and a good tale to tell.

Saying goodbye to Marie this morning was very hard, I managed not to cry but if I linger too long on the thought of her beautiful face and how she feels in my arms I may start to buckle. As we parted she said that I reminded her of a tortoise or a snail, I think that in terms of speed if not look she is, as always, spot on. I love you Marie, you are my muse and my reason and I am forever yours.

We went out together last night, a bit of a last date before the tour, for a marvelous burger and milkshake and then an utterly wonderful show at the Royal Court called Motortown, which I can't recommend enough, it was utterly spellbinding.

Right, time for bed, I'll see you all on the other side...

Saturday, 29 April 2006

Me On The Radio

The publicity around The Big Adventure is starting to build up nicely, with the radio interviews rolling in as well as interest from national television, with hopefully the BBC's culture show on board.

The interview with my home town's radio station is available for you to listen to here, along with an article on the show itself, so have a read and listen to my dulcet tones...although be warned, Mark does a lot of the talking and if you don't know, I'm the one with the very deadpan voice who is witty as hell.

I can't believe this is all about to start so very soon.

Friday, 28 April 2006

Blogger Censorship

I got an email this morning, from Blogger and it said:


We'd like to inform you that we've received a complaint that your blog contains confidential information. Please note that our Terms of Service prohibit posting confidential items on your blog. Accordingly, we have had to remove the content in question. Please refer to our Terms of Service for more details:

Thank you for your understanding.


Blogger Support

I then checked my blog and discovered that my post of the 24th April, A Strange Distraction, had been removed (you can see a cache of the post in question here). I can only presume that it was the inclusion of an email address that led Blogger to take such action.

I have returned the post in question, minus the offending information, to its rightful place and we'll see what happens next...

Well, what happened next was the post that you are now reading was deleted (as I linked to the email address of the person in question, this has now been removed) and I was threatened with the closure of my Blogger account. So I have had to prostrate myself before the faceless Blogger lords and hope that linking to cached web pages is not an offence.

Rehearsals are going well by the way.

Thursday, 27 April 2006

Sleeping Bag & 65 Litre Rucksack Crisis!

On the 18th April 2006, I placed an order for two crucial parts of kit in preparation for The Big Adventure: this rucksack and this sleeping bag. As of this morning they had yet to arrive, cue a series of phone calls to Millets customer service department to see if I could get them in time for the beginning of (what I have been referring to as) the expedition.

After a stressful few hours the problem was resolved and I'll be picking up my precious goods tomorrow morning.

You'll all be glad to know that an ex-Fox News anchor has been named as Bush's press secretary and if I hear anyone say that Fox News is a mouthpiece for the GOP I'll get you in a headlock and as I strangle you slowly I'll tell you that Iran has no right to develop nuclear power because I SAY SO!

Speaking of Iran, (this is brilliant...but in a bad way and thanks to Cheeks for the heads up) if I were to tell you that despite signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, a country is opening a uranium-enrichment centre capable of developing the raw fuel for nuclear weapons, you'd be thinking: GODDAMN IT! LET'S GO KICK SOME ASS! And if I told you that although this nation claims that it can not and never will use its nuclear programme for non-peaceful activities, it is still keeping key elements of its enrichment facility hidden from international inspectors, you'd be thinking why aren't Bush and his pals wading in until they are neck deep in dead children?

Well, I'll tell you why, it's because the country in question is called Brazil.

Anyone want to shoot up on hypocrisy with me?

Wednesday, 26 April 2006

The Big Adventure Promo Shots

It does exactly what it says on the tin, The Big Adventure is nearly upon us. I'm the one with the beard and the Arab Scarf...

Monday, 24 April 2006

A Strange Distraction


I got an email on the 20th April 2006 from someone calling themselves Regan Brunetti (although the actual email address is CENSORED), it read thus:


Could you do me a favor? You posted a comment on blogger on my 3rd grade sons little story telling him he was basically a joke. He started this blog in attempts to work on his writing. And your comment really crushed him. He was excited about writing and people encouraging him. Unfortunately, I forgot how cruel and thoughtless people could be. I don't know if you're a true jerk or just thought you were messing with some retard, but whatever. Could you just delete it?



Mother of the 9 year old you had to laugh at

My reply:


Regan threw back this classic:


And that's where it stands. I'm still not convinced this is not some spoof but the chain of events goes thus: I visit the brilliant Col.Dr and read this post, where Regan's 9 year old son has typed the lovely, touching sentiment that:

"you suck and iraq sucks so go fuck the both of ya!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Why ma must be proud...So I visit Zmeeink's blog and read one of his posts and in response type the reposte that:

"You are funny but in a bad way."

And thus his mother is provoked into emailing my ass with her righteous indignation. I really hope this is a hoax otherwise there are some serious family issues here.

I'll keep you posted...

Saturday, 22 April 2006

My New Arab Scarf

In preparation for The Big Adventure I decided to invest in a versatile but attractive scarf and I was browsing my local Army surplus when I decided to plump for a Keffiyeh; very much like the one sported by the gentlemen above.

For those of you that don't know, the Keffiyeh (كوفية) is a traditional Arab headdress but one I'll mostly be sporting as a device to keep my neck warm and little did I realise that it is a heavily politicised garment. Don't get me wrong, I'm not naive enough to assume that it doesn't carry certain connotations but when browsing the selection in the Army Surplus store I wished I'd known that the garment has just had something of a revival as an icon of the Palestinian struggle against Zionist oppression.

For example, the black-and-white one is associated with the PLO and Fateh, while the Green one is associated with Islamism, (and also with Islamic Jihad) while the colour I opted for, Red, is often associated with socialism (that I can handle) and also the colour often worn by civilian supporters of Hamas.

It has already drawn some interesting responses, whether it be from some Jewish pupils I teach (which in turn led to a fruitful discussion on Middle Eastern politics), or at the airport on the way to Brussels where it was presumed by staff that I was waiting for a flight to Lebanon, or an elderly chap who asked me whose side I was on in the current Gulf War, or some youths who shouted racist abuse at me (it was a bizarre feeling to be called a "Paki") and another set of England's future who thought it meant I was a Muslim and proceeded to make jokes about Allah.

This got me thinking about what if I actually was Arabian and actually was a Muslim and what kind of abuse I'd get?

Like I said some time ago: We Got Ourselves a New Nigger.

Wednesday, 19 April 2006

Walk On

Intensive rehearsals are beckoning me as I type this; tomorrow I go on the train to join Mark in Nottingham and what I hope will be a creative haemorrhage. No blood and guts, just good art.

Not only are we devising the piece on the hoof but also rehearsing as we go along, luckily the extra days we crammed in means we have a framework and some scenes fleshed out already. Can't wait to get cracking!

Yesterday I got very excited (has it really come to this?) as I purchased my rucksack and sleeping bag; I have also invested in a large volume of paracetamol, ibuprofen and knee supports. If I make it out of this alive you all get to buy me a beer.

Today is my dad’s birthday and also the 5 year 11 month anniversary of Marie and me, which means it is a good day.

I like good days.

Tuesday, 18 April 2006

Spazbastion, Bistro Vapour, Turning 30 and the Brilliance of Brussels

Yesterday was my 30th birthday, the earth did not stop turning and I look much the same as I did when I was 29, my arse has not fell off and my chin has not sunk to my knees…not yet anyway. I do however have man boobs…
That was a joke.

It was not funny but what is funny is when you stop blogging regularly how many things happen in the wider world that you wish you had time to blog about. For example, the recent bombing in Tel Aviv has re-opened an already ragged debate on the future of the Middle East and the ability of Hamas to govern Palestine; it comes at a time when Israel has a leader looking to partially withdraw many of the settlements and some kind of resolution could be achieved in the short term. Add to this the political masterstroke of Iran (and Qatar) in funding the Palestinian nation now that Israel has withdrawn funds (I can’t decide whether President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a master of neo-con style brinksmanship or determined to get invaded and test the mettle of the US armed forces) and you have an increasingly foggy situation.

Speaking of Iran, a fascinating diplomatic event is set to take place soon, the US government is going to sit down and talk to the Iranian government but not about nuclear capabilities, it is still refusing to meet face to face and discuss this beef. Rather it wants to discuss Iraq and Iranian interference, I wonder if an Iranian representative will try and take the conversation off topic onto alternative energy sources? Oh to be a fly on the wall.

And then there is Rumsfeld, of whom President Nixon said: ”He’s a ruthless little bastard. You can be sure of that.” and the attack upon his abilities by a cabal of generals who have decided to tell us what we already knew: that Iraq Mark II could have been planned better. Why that’s just his fault alone I’ve no idea (I personally think Rumsfeld is being ‘punished’ for his immense arrogance and his attempted restructuring of the US military), why these generals expect us to fall over in shock at their disclosures when the dead Iraqi civilians pile up, along with the dead US/UK troops and the Iraqi government still refuses to meet some 6 months after its formation…WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT COULD HAVE BEEN DONE BETTER!!! THAT’S CRAZY TALK! I THOUGHT WE’D WON THE WAR ALREADY! MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, I SAW IT ON FOX NEWS!

Brussels was an absolute treat: the world’s best beer, great food and a smattering of sights; a much needed holiday with Marie before my time is stolen away by rehearsals and walking across Britain. Last night Marie and I were joined for birthday beers by our good friend Nick, who from this point on shall be known as either Spazbastion or Bistro Vapours, I wish I could remember why but we got drunk…at the time though it was very, very funny; so much so that beer may have shot out of my nostrils but don’t quote me on that.

Wednesday, 12 April 2006

Blog Takes a Back Seat

My blog is personified in the pictured collection of young nubiles, it is getting into the backseat and having some fun, while I go and get very busy indeed.

Time is limited, this week marked the start of rehearsals for The Big Adventure, although when I say rehearsals I mean devising; creating the show and thrashing out its parameters, as well as researching the best options regarding footwear. We already have an exciting framework for the show and some of the scenes in a decent state of improvised affairs but much work is still to be done with the first night being the 2nd May. It is both exciting and terrifying.

Today has brought a new snazzy haircut and tonight Marie and I are off to a pub quiz with some people I've only ever met on the internet. It'll either be brilliant or utterly wrong.

It's also my birthday soon (17th April) and I'm turning 30 so Marie has treated me to a long weekend in Brussels, we're off on holiday on the 14th April and return the 17th. It's all go, so do bear with me when it comes to blogging, I'll do my best to keep you abreast of events during rehearsal and beyond.

Until the next time...

Saturday, 8 April 2006

I Keep Walking, Keep Moving...

"Wherever my compass says North, that's where my soul goes. The more doubts and torments fall away from me, the more I know where I am, the more everything spreads and shines and dawns on me."

In preparation for The Big Adventure (I am getting more and more excited/ nervous as each day passes) I am doing some serious walking to toughen myself up and get fit. Today was a particularly lovely two hour stroll, covering 8 miles, through Epping Forest to Chingford via Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge and then back round to Buckhurst Hill.

I saw two rabbits, loads of squirrels, a cow and some tired children who could no longer peddle their bikes up the hill and had resorted to dragging them behind them. The smallest one in the group was getting left behind like a baby duck, I felt quite sorry for him. I did however manage to figure out an introduction to the play, which is nice.

I urge any of my UK based readers to attend The Big Adventure if they are near any of our venues and offer us any spare change you have or food, it will be gratefully received! I'm relying on you to spread the word!

Onto other matters..we have a new blog linked and yet another member of the Telford massive called Fulla, who has a nice taste in jumpers, big shoulders and a lot of love to give. I have met him and I like him.

Can I remind you that this DeLay themed caption competition needs some captions so get stuck in!

On a more serious note, it seems that Rice and Cheney have fell out over tactical blunders in the Iraq war, which is a real shame. Was Rice playing the latest polls (with a view to running for President one day) that point to an electorate that no longer sees Republicans as any better than Democrats on defence? Bush is also in the process of hitting a new low, with only 36% of respondents saying he was doing a good job.

I think my raft of posts on the rise of the right in the US and further thoughts on the development of an American Empire will have to wait until I get back from The Big Adventure but they will come, of that you can be sure.

I shall leave you with Napoleans 78th military maxim:

"Gustavus Adolphus, Turenne, and Frederick, as well as Alexander, Hannibal, and Caesar have all acted upon the same principles. These have been: to keep their forces united; to leave no weak part unguarded; to seize with rapidity on important points.

Such as the principles which lead to victory, and which, by inspiring terror at the reputation of your arms, will at once maintain fidelity and secure subjection."

Friday, 7 April 2006

It's Been a Busy Few Days...

I've been auditioning, seeing a show one of my acting students was in (which was jolly good and my student was excellent), engaging hard to help young people, eating curry, hanging out with Marie, trying to get fit for The Big Adventure, editing the Black Flag section of wikipedia and doing the washing.

I'm also preparing a massive volume of posts on why America is right-wing, the rise of the conservatives in America, the Bush dynasty and the chasm that exists between Europe and the United States.

Normal service may be resumed but don't bank on it...

Wednesday, 5 April 2006

Tom DeLay Mugshot

The driving force behind President Clinton's impeachment will at last be hoisted by his own petard, so after the 2005 indictment on criminal charges of conspiracy to violate election laws and then two of his former top aides, Michael Scanlon, former communications director, and Tony Rudy, his former chief of staff, pleading guilty to various charges of corruption relating to the Jack Abramoff scandal; it seems the DeLay show is finally over.

There is a caption competition here with the mugshot and I urge you to put the best words you can to his face, swearing is allowed...

And for those of you interested in such things, here is his arrest warrant:

Tuesday, 4 April 2006

Barbaric Democracy

Oh God.

My defence secretary, the man who is in charge of my nations's military policy, a Mr John Reid, thinks that that the Geneva Convention is a barrier to Western nations and the war against terror and thus, needs to be redrafted or scrapped. Brilliant! My government is really starting to sound like the Bush regime now, who refused to ratify Protocol I because of their belief in the mythical 'unlawful combatant' but more of that later...…

John Reid's argument is that terrorists don't fight fair (he invents something called 'barbaric terrorism', which much be really bad terrorism in comparison to let's say, 'nasty terrorism' or 'naughty terrorism') so we need the powers to also not fight fair and no doubt bring about 'barbaric democracy'.

Laugh or cry? Can I suggest Mr Reid, that if we actually followed the Geneva Conventions when we engaged in war, we'd have less trouble with terrorists as our actions would not breed further resentment? Can I also suggest that the idea that we fight fair in the first place is frankly ludicrous? There is no need to list here all the violations of international law we've been party to but people in glasshouses made from dead Iraqi children shouldn't cast stones.

I must confess though, that I find the whole idea of war having rules to be good in theory but unworkable in practice, it's like asking murderers to behave in a decent manner as they kill. Don't get me wrong, I think the concept is a good one (the whole idea of the Geneva Conventions came from Henri Dunant after witnessing the horrors of the Battle of Solferino) and are clearly aimed at elavating ourselves as a race into the realm of the decent.

The Geneva Convention is an interesting document, it is actually four separate conventions backed up with three protocols and crucially, all signatory states are required to enact sufficient national law to make grave violations of the Geneva Conventions a punishable criminal offense. The first two conventions deal with the treatment of battlefield casualities on land and sea and led to the formation of the Red Cross, the fourth deals with the treatment of civilians in war. The third convention however, deals with the treatment of prisoners of war and came into force in 1950. Key regulations include:

* Prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity
* No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted or exposed to unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind
* Prisoners of war shall be quartered under conditions as favorable as those for the forces of the Detaining Power who are billeted in the same area
* The use of weapons against prisoners of war, especially against those who are escaping or attempting to escape, shall constitute an extreme measure, which shall always be preceded by warnings appropriate to the circumstances
* The Detaining Power shall grant all prisoners of war a monthly advance of pay
* Prisoners of war shall be allowed to receive...books, devotional articles, scientific equipment, examination papers, musical instruments, sports outfits and materials allowing prisoners of war to pursue their studies or their cultural activities
* In no case shall disciplinary punishments be inhuman, brutal or dangerous to the health of prisoners of war

Makes for interesting and inspiring reading doesn't it?

In order to get around the legislation so it could treat suspected terrorists in a subhuman way, the US, under Bush, invented something called the 'unlawful combatant', this is an unfortunate person who is accorded neither the rights a soldier would normally have under the laws of war, nor the civil rights a common criminal would normally have. I wouldn't want to be one of these would you?

Brilliantly, the Geneva Convention pre-empted this sneeky tactic and said that if there was any doubt about a persons status, it would have to be investigated by a competent tribunal and until such time they are to be treated as prisoners of war. If it decided this individual was an 'unlawful combatant' they still retain rights under the Fourth Geneva Convention so that they must be "treated with humanity and, in case of trial, shall not be deprived of the rights of fair and regular trial".

Clearly, the US and UK are in breach of this, so no wonder Reid wants the bounderies re-drawing. Now you may remember me mentioning that the US refused to ratify Protocol I of the Geneva Convention, along with Iraq and Afghanistan (I just love the company America keeps), this protocol concerns giving 'unlawful combatants' lawful status by deeming it unnesscary for a soldier to clearly mark herself/himself as such.

So not only do the US want the terrorists to fight fair they want them to clearly mark themselves out as such.

Saturday, 1 April 2006

Plan B and Renegade Eye Meme

I stab in ya' eye yo
With a fuckin' biro
The same fuckin' biro
Ya' use to sign ya' giro
Ya' fuckin' wino
Don't fuckin' cross my line yo
I hit ya' so hard
Ya arse'll hit the floor in Cairo

On Wednesday night I went to see someone who I believe is going to take UK and US music by storm over the next year, he's called Plan B (real name Ben Drew) and he lays down some of the heaviest rhymes you've ever heard, over acoustic guitar. Serious. So you've got jaw dropping flow over urgent, folk (ish) strumming/finger picking; occasionally being backed up with other instruments. BLUP BLUP BLUP!

People are already struggling to pigeonhole this talent, as is the way with the music press, so the lazy peeps are calling him a hip-hop folk singer, or the new Eminem or a crossover waiting to happen. Whatever, I don't fucking care, all I know is his rhymes have a brutality and honesty that I can relate to and his musical pallet is wider than your average hip-hopper. Seeing him live you can see how much he buys into the words he sings, he cares and wears his heart on his sleeve and you have to respect that.

It really is time for Plan B...

I got tagged by the excellent Renegade Eye some time ago so it's about time I responded but as ya'll know I'm not passing it on, I fucking hate memes.

1) What are your guilty pleasures?
Nasty ass, dirty ho, p0rn with no holes barred.
2) What song is your theme song?
"Damaged II" by Black Flag.
3) You receive $20.00 change in a retail store. The correct change is $1.00. What do you do?
Keep it, fool and wonder what I'm doing in America later...
4) You know your friend's husband has another lover. Tell wifey?Yes, fuck 'em, live by the sword so die by it. Pay the price of your actions.
5) Who do you admire, that would surprise others?
George Bush's chutzpah is amazing.