Archive for July, 2008

His Big Mouth

31,July, 2008

My publisher Scott Pack has said some nice things about my novel Shadowmagic.

Have a look at http://meandmybigmouth.typepad.com/scottpack/2008/07/rsi.html

If you are a reader, Scott’s blog is great. Before Scott became a publisher he was the chief buyer for Waterstones book shops –  so he knows his books.  And obviously I think he has great taste.

Jl

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It’s deja vu all over again

26,July, 2008

CSNY/Deja Vu Is a documentary film about Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young touring the US with their Freedom of Speech Tour.

After being such a loud voice in the Vietnam protest movement they took to the road and did it again with the Gulf War.  They sang some of their old songs that spookely were still spot-on topical:

“And I feel like I’ve been here before
Feel like I’ve been here before
And you know it does make me wonder
What’s going on under the ground”

Along with new songs like “Let’s Impeach the President.”   That didn’t go down very well in the south.

I saw it in the Apollo Cinema in London’s West End.  It’s a joy to see  a good documentary on a big screen with great sound.  And in the dark, no one can see you well-up.

John L

1000 Signed Special Edition Hardbacks of Shadowmagic

24,July, 2008

A good writing day for me is 1000 words.   Today I wrote 2000 words – my name 1000 times.

That’s right I signed 1000 pages today and tomorrow they are going back to the printer and will be bound in to my novel Shadowmagic.  I really think this is going to happen.  It should be out by Aug 4.    The run is almost sold out with UK bookshop orders – if you want one I can only recommend Amazon UK.

John L

Spot Your Favorite Blogger

23,July, 2008

The gang at www.Jibjab.com have done it again.  It seems only yesterday they stuck it to Bush and Kerry.  This time you can star in the video with Obama and McCain.  See if you can spot your favorite blogger in this one.

Munch-a-fest Destiny

20,July, 2008

Life is way too bonkers to blog.  Searching my gmail I came across a letter I wrote when I was away from my Australian Refol on Christmas Eve 2006.  I hardly remembered writing this and enjoyed reading it again.  Hope you do to.

***

Christmas Eve 2006

In the 19th century American’s had a doctrine called Manifest Destiny where they believed that it was there God given duty to possess all of North America.  Once our forefathers figured out that Mexico was too hot and Canada had too many French people in it, they settled on the middle bits and ever since have been searching for a new destiny.   In the 50’s and 60’s we worked hard on forcing the commies to stop eating babies and become proper people who acted like us.  In this St. Ronald Reagan succeeded but we have found the 51st state that is now Russia is so dull, that we are letting it revert back to the nasty commie KGB ways – sans the starvation preventing welfare state umbrella.

Now American’s have a new purpose that we didn’t have to put into a doctrine – it just snuck up on us.   God has chosen us to – ‘Consume for the World.’ We used to consume for ourselves.  We had great cotton fields and iron mines, spectacular textile and steel mills and we made great blue jeans and pick up trucks but now we don’t stitch and weld things – that’s boring.   We do the fun stuff – we wear and drive things and we do it. as a service to the world.

I went into the Granite Run to buy a pair of nice trousers for dinner.   Granite Run is a small size mall, especially in comparison to the village-sized King of Prussia Mall but it is still bigger than most shopping places in the UK.   Row after row of clothes are hanging in all conceivable colours and sizes (including XXXXL) and 90% of it was from China.  God, I remember when no westerner was allowed to go to China – now Granite Run Mall is practically a Chinese embassy.  I bet there are more Asian goods in Media Pennsylvania that in the average shop in Beijing.  And they are giving the stuff away.  I bought a pair of Izod corduroy trousers for 19 dollars – that’s less than 11 pounds – and that is before the xmas sales!

The initial knee-jerk reaction is to think that this is a bad thing.   (Actually that’s the second reaction – the initial reaction is to say, “What a fab price.  I’ll take a pair in tan and navy.”) But I once heard an interesting argument about free trade and that was; countries that trade with one another don’t fight with one another. Working for barely living wages in a sweat shop may be hell but is it worse than having teenage insurgents with rifles pillaging your village?  And look at Japan?  Remember when “Made in Japan” meant the product was junk?  Maybe Americans exploiting the labor of the world is a nation’s first stepping stone onto economic and social maturity.   Like a teenager flipping burgers in McDonalds.  I think that the people America is hurting the most with their Munch-a-fest Destiny is themselves.   They are getting fat, lazy and dependent.  Saying that – wait till you see how good I look in my elastic waistband trousers.

JL

RobC – at least give them a one day head start.

15,July, 2008

Ok here is my last Where am I? for a while.  Since RobC has won every one up till now and even guessed the last one 22 days before I posted it.  I’m asking him to give you guys until Saturday until he tells me where I am.

Where am I?

14,July, 2008

It’s that time again.  Figure out where I was today and get another chance to win a pair of sock that I never get around to send.  I made this one particularly difficult. 

John L

Already I miss her.

11,July, 2008

I’m off on another cruise ship and already I miss her. Her firm figure, her flawless smile, her infinite patience and her effortless tuition. I’m talking, of course, about the virtual trainer on my Nintendo Wii Fit.

I’ve been a member of the same gym for over a decade. Earlier this year it was taken over by Virgin. The first thing they did was replace the small sweat towels in the gym with paper towels. In a press release they claimed it was for environmental reasons. When I asked them for the data showing that disposable paper was more environmentally friendly than washing towels they didn’t have any – it was a crock. A classic example of big business falsely improving their image, while in reality only cutting costs. I started a petition in the gym and Virgin Active got real shirty about it – refusing to accept the petition and ultimately threatening to kick me out if I didn’t stop. Ever since then I hated going to the place. So when I saw that Nintendo had a virtual fitness program for the Wii that cost about the same as a month’s membership – I booted Virgin Active and decided to buy a Wii Fit.

Apparently I wasn’t the only one. Buying a Wii fit was just marginally easier than getting a kilo of black-market weapon’s grade plutonium. Through dull persistence I finally spotted one in John Lewis and after elbowing an old lady and trampling two small children – I got one.

I can’t tell you how hooked I am. Like sex and dancing, exercising is something that I have always felt shouldn’t be done in public. I’ve never been comfortable with people watching me sit and push up, torso twist, leg lift and especially sweat. Now I can do all of that and even wear a sleeveless wife beater shirt if I want to. (I don’t.) It’s just me and my virtual trainer – and she would never tell.

At the heart of the Wii Fit is the Wii board that senses when you step on it and registers fluctuations in your balance. During many of the exercises, a dot representing your balance appears on the screen and it’s your job to keep it inside a defined area. It is very effective in making you focus on the exercise and is an ingenious way for the program to keep track of your progress. The sensor also makes the Wii Fit a set of scales. Every day your trainer weighs you and keeps track of your weight gain, or loss, on a graph. If your set goal is to lose weight then on morning were your mass increases the Wii asks you why you think you gained weight. In other words, it asks you to grass on yourself. I’ve lost five pounds in a week and I’m certain that it is because I live in terror of disappointing my Wii trainer.

But now I’m going to be away from her for a week, surrounded by luxury cruise ship food. The question is – will I pig out? I doubt it – I’m too scared of her.

Tony, Ladies and Gentleman.

7,July, 2008

The other day I mentioned that I never punched an audience member but I did knock one unconscious.

It wasn’t my fault. If I had to blame anybody I’d have to blame the mouthy woman who, while I was compering the Jongleurs comedy club in Battersea, stood up, raised her hand and walked to the edge of the stage.

“Excuse me!” she said. There was no ignoring this woman. She was literally a show stopper. I had a feeling that if I pretended not to hear her she would have tugged on my trouser leg.

“You know that guy you just wished happy birthday to?”

I had just wished happy birthday to a lot of people. It was the painful duty of every Jonglares MC to call out the names of the birthday boys and girls in the audience while cakes were paraded to their tables. A little bit of TGI Friday naffness in an otherwise really good club.

“Which one?” I asked.

“Tony,” she said. “He’s a really funny guy and he wants to come on stage and tell a joke.”

I pointed out to her that very high on my list of rules was to never let guys named Tony come on stage and tell jokes. It was right up there with my rule of not letting groups of more than three people see me without trousers.

That’s when this woman did a most remarkable thing. She turned back to her table and screamed. “TONY, ARE YOU GOING TO GET UP HERE OR ARE YOU GOING TO MAKE ME STAND HERE AND LOOK LIKE AN IDIOT?!”

There were over three hundred people in this club and they all, as one, pushed their chairs back to make more room between them and this mad female. I had never seen a woman so scary and because of that I broke my rule.

“I’m sorry Tony,” I said. “I didn’t realise how difficult your life must be with this woman – please come up on stage and tell us your joke.”

Tony stood and staggered to the stage. The closer he got the more I noticed two things. Firstly he was big. He wasn’t fat – he was big. About 6’2″ and built like a professional wrestler. If I had been a high school guidance councilor and he walked into my office I would have said, “Have you ever thought of a career in nightclub security?” Secondly, he was very drunk. I can’t imagine how much alcohol it must have taken to get that much flesh staggering and slurring but he had done it. He stepped up on stage and I pointed him to the microphone. He grabbed the mike stand, like it was the one that was swaying, and said, “Uuum” and stared for a while. Then this poor guy turned to me and said, “Do I have to do this?”

I grabbed the microphone and said, “As a matter of fact Tony you don’t and good luck with your love life.” I pointed him off the stage and as he left I said in my best MC voice, “Ladies and gentlemen – Tony!” When Big Tony heard his name he looked back and that’s when his foot slipped off the edge of the stage.

Sitting in the front row was an older couple in their late 50’s. They were there with their daughter who had been to the club the previous week and convinced her parents that they would love it. They were practically the only people in the club over thirty. Tony lost his balance and fell directly on the dad. He landed on the old guys back and slammed his head onto the tabletop. He pancaked him. Tony stood up oblivious of what had just happened, said, “Ooops,” and walked away. While the Dad slid underneath the table like a ragdoll. It only took one glance at the unconscious dad to see that he was out cold. His eyes actually had the x’s that you see on the faces of cartoon characters when they are knocked out.

I looked up and said, “Is there doctor in the house?” This got a big laugh – I had to say it three times proceeded by, “No really,” before the audience would take me seriously.

A month earlier in the same club, an audience member had some sort of seizure and when the compere asked if there was a doctor in the house, there was six. The night I decided to body-slam the oldest member of the audience with a 300 pound gorilla, the place was woefully devoid of medical personnel. A strange young man did walk up to the huddle that had formed around the still motionless middle aged man. He came up to the edge of the circle and said, “I’m a doctor. Hmm, yes this is definitely a concussion.” He seemed like he was auditioning for a part in a soap opera. The most suspicious thing, other than his very young age, was that he wasn’t trying to get close to his patient. I turned to him and said, “Piss off. You’re not a doctor.” He just looked at me, shrugged, said, “Fair enough,” and walked away.

We got the guy onto a chair but he was still out cold. Finally he was carried out through the packed club unconscious on his chair that often had to be held high making him look like a Jewish groom who had become overcome with the excitement of the day.

I was back on stage as they were carrying him out. Every comedian/MC has a database in the back of his or her head where they store funny quips for every occasion. I accessed my database and searched under, ‘carrying an unconscious middle age man out of a club on a chair,’ and not surprisingly, the file was empty – I was on my own. I know now that I should have said something concerning the welfare of this poor man. The audience would have warmed to me if I had said something like, “Let’s all hope he is OK,” or even if I said something smarmy like, “He was having such a great time tonight, I’m sure he would have wanted us to continue with the comedy.” I didn’t do either of those things. Instead I said something that made the audience hate me for the rest of the night. I gestured to this poor man, indecorously being carried off on a chair, with his head lolling on his chest and I said, “Another satisfied Jongleurs customer, ladies and gentlemen.” The rest of the night was very long.

Me a tease?

6,July, 2008

Andy acused me of being a tease yesterday. If you thought that was bad , have a look at this:

The other day I mentioned that I never punched an audience member but I did knock one unconscious. It wasn’t my fault. If I had to blame anybody I’d have to blame the mouthy woman who…

More tomorrow.

JL