Filed under: Arts, creativity, family, humour, life | Tags: fct, forth childrens theatre
Instead of doing my work this morning I made this instead. It’s an FCT in- joke but it made me laugh doing it. I hope you enjoy it.
I hope no-one takes offense. None intended.
Filed under: cycling, life, Scotland, sports, stories | Tags: bike riding, Bikes, cycling, Cycling Scotland, Kinross Sportive, Tour de france
Yesterday I took part in the Kinross Sportiv Black run. 88 miles (my clock read 91) and 6561 feet of climbing (1.5 x the height of Ben Nevis).
See those red boxes? They’re the hills and they are very cleverly spaced out so as to just about allow you to recover from one before you hit the next.
Of course some are worse than others. Just like waterboarding is worse than the rack or having fingernails extracted.
But you think the ascents are bad? Well, on three of them, having reached the peak you see this.
And those signs are there for a reason.
I had ho’d and hummed a lot the night before about whether to put the new brake blocks I’d just bought onto my (not very) trusty Willier and eventually decided, after removing them and scraping them, that they’d suffice.
Well, they did. Just. But that was after recording my top speed, so far, on a bike (38mph) on a not dangerous descent.
Going down those bad ones was a test of nerve – and one that I abjectly failed because my arms ached at the bottom of each of them with the sheer effort of clamping those 2cm blocks of rubber to the rims of my wheels. At times I simply had no idea if the brakes would last out. Feathering them was rarely an option as the descents were so brutal, the second you let go the bike would just leap forward at horrendous speed. Clamping was the key. So, the next time you watch a descent on the Tour de France consider the risks these guys are taking.
Towards the end of my six and a bit hours in the saddle (we had three stops for punctures and two for food on top of that) I was in a state of complete exhaustion.
Maybe it was the half pint of Guinness that we had in Dunning that did me in. As the barmaid said “Oh, you’re the first cyclists we’ve had in three years that had a drink!” But it certainly helped us up the 900ft climb, that is Dunning Common, that we faced the second we got back on the bike.
As I sit at my computer at 9.30 the next day I feel fine. Had I done an equivalent feat by running I’d have been in agony for at least three days.
So, vive le cycling.
Filed under: creativity, cycling, life, politics, Rants, science, Scotland, stories | Tags: drug cheats in sport, In pursuit of Lance Armstrong, lance armstrong drug cheat, Lyceum Edinburgh David Walsh, The Lyceum
David Walsh is nothing like the pompous, arrogant Sunday Times sportswriter that you might imagine sportswriters for aggressive newspaper groups in search of the scalp of the world’s greatest sports cheat, Lance Armstrong, might be.
David Walsh is a man whose son died in a cycling accident, coincidentally, aged 12 yet went on to be a great lover of cycling, and sport in general.
Tonight, in Britain’s most beautiful theatre (The Lyceum in Edinburgh) Walsh, acknowledging its humbling beauty, told the story of how he went out to get the lying cheat that is Lance Armstrong. And won.
It was an epic tale presented without a single note and narrated for over an hour.
And it pressed every one of my “Why Lance Armstrong is unforgivable buttons.”
Walsh eloquently argued why Armstrong not only used his cancer as both “a shield and a sword” but that his use of Growth Hormones before his diagnosis probably accelerated its invasiveness.
He made reference to the many, many people that Armstrong inhumanely took out, completely ruthlessly, in pursuit of the self preservation of his entirely false achievements.
He defended Sky and Wiggins as doggedly as he vilified US Postal and Armstrong.
And he did it all calmly, reflectively, convincingly, powerfully.
Please God. Tell me Walshy’s not on EPO.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, humour, liberal, life | Tags: Ben Lewin, catholic guilt, dignity, disability, disability in the movies, disabled sex, Helen Hunt, iron lung, John Hawkes, oscars, polio, quadriplegic, religion, religious barriers, sex before marraige, The Sessions, William H macy
This is a remarkable hidden gem of a movie directed with grace and understatement by Ben Lewin, a 67 year old director whose career has little in the way of highlights or recognition. Until now that is.
His main protagonists, John Hawkes who was Oscar nominated for Winter’s Bone, Helen Hunt (who won one for As Good as it Gets) and William H Macy (Fargo nomination) tell a story as touching as any you will ever see that tries to make sense of whether sex out of wedlock as a (disabled) Catholic can be tolerated by those of great faith.
The good news? It can.
What makes this trio of understated performances so remarkable is that they are all so extreme, yet constrained.
Firstly, John Hawkes (Mark) plays a 38 year old quadriplegic (a consequence of childhood polio), with a fine sense of humour, who lives 21 hours a day in an iron lung and desires nothing more than to have full penetrative sex and yet does not turn the role into a freakshow.
Secondly, Helen Hunt spends much of the movie completely naked (as brave as it gets at 49) teaching Mark how to suck her nipples effectively, perform passable cunnilingus and generally satisfy her and himself – she’s a sex therapist.
And thirdly, William H Macy plays a cool dude Catholic priest that assumes the role of God, granting Mark the dispensation to get his rocks off free from the guilt of mortal sin.
What’s more, the supporting cast all put in excellent and mostly touching shifts that add to the overall quality of the movie.
It’s in places hilarious (although Seth MacFarlane would hardly agree), breathtakingly taboo (without offending anyone – including the four pensioners sat behind us) and moving.
What makes it work so wonderfully is what it doesn’t do or say. Whilst issues surrounding morality must sit full square at the centre of the (based on true) story it’s not hammered home. It makes no judgement and that’s in no small part down to the skill of director Lewin.
Very few people have seen this movie, more’s the pity, and the screening we saw was achingly badly attended. Nonetheless it cost only $1m to make and grossed a modest (but profitable) $5m in the US. I think it’s a sleeper of potentially Sideways proportions that will, over time, make the funders very large returns as its absolute honesty and sincerity wins it advocates like me.
Anne Hathaway is unbettable for Best Supporting actress at this year’s big hooley and she is by a distance the best thing about Les Miserables, but it’s a cameo role. This, on the other hand, is a career defining moment for Hunt who would win every day in my book. And I may indeed have a small wager on her at 25/1.
Filed under: life, sports, stories | Tags: Garrett McNamara, surfing Nazare, surfing portugal, Surfing world record
…this looks impressive.
Garrett McNamara in Nazare, Portugal breaks world record for surfing a 100ft wave. Yikes.
Filed under: advertising, Arts, business, creativity, life | Tags: cannes, Chipotle TV ad, entertainment, expedia, Expedia lesbian TV ad, gaming, http www youtube, The Guardian 3 little Pigs, video
I’m looking at a lot of interesting advertising at the moment because I’m teaching a module at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s BA Digital Film and TV degree course.It’s required me to look for examples of old classics and new.
I’ve been struck by what’s winning the gongs these days.
Nothing, but nothing is short.
And a lot of it frankly isn’t really that good.
The most awarded ad in the world last year was this one for Canal +.
It’s OK. And it’s only 60″ (that’s short)
This is good mind. The Guardian’s 3 Little Pigs (120″)
This is great. It’s for Chipotle (and their sustainable/organic farming approach to sourcing – if you believe it) and takes a Coldplay song and covers it by Willie Nelson. It’s 2 minutes 20″ long.
Metro Trains from Melbourne have made this 3 minute monster. And it’s garnered 38million YouTube hits so far.
But this is the one. This is the absolute king of the pack. It’s for Expedia and it brought a tear to my sorry old eyes. It too is a beast weighing in at 3 minutes 20″
What though, happened to 30″ spots?
Filed under: food, life | Tags: calories to lose a pound, diets that work, dorset cereals, effective weight loss, food, health, Ian marber, lose 4lbs a week, losing weight, monkey nuts, the food doctor everyday diet, weight loss
I’ve been asked a fair bit about my diet and how it works so effectively.
Here’s what I wrote earlier today. I hope it helps because it most certainly works for me.
OK. It’s really simple. And involves calories.
You consume as many as you burn and you don’t lose weight. Simple.
So, start from your normal daily burn which for men my size is about 2,500 calories. Cut that by 1,000 and do 1,000 cals of exercise (an hour vigorous workout) and you are at a net 2,000 calorie debt per day. It’s 3,500 calories to lose a pound so I reckon this equates to half a pound a day or 3.5 – 4 lbs a week.
Now, to what to eat. You need to go for slow release foods on so few calories (but you can have lots of them). Alcohol is a total no no.
No simple carbs like bread, cereal, pastry, chocolate, biscuits, crisps, potatoes, fruit juice, white rice and pasta – absolutely none at all
Instead swap those, if you must, for complex carbohydrates like brown rice and wholemeal pasta (in moderation).
Eat lots of pulses (beans and lentils) and protein (lean meat and eggs preferably).
DO NOT go on an Atkins style Protein diet. THEY DO NOT WORK.
Eat breakfast. An absolute MUST. I have 50g of high fruit and nut muesli (my preference is for Dorset Cereals – the dark green box) supplemented with a lot of fresh fruit in it like melon, blueberries and strawberries and skimmed milk (400 cals approx).
Do not go to Starbucks. Or if you do, only have an Americano with skimmed milk.
For lunch I have soup and fruit (2 apples usually) – no bread with the soup – or, if at home, a two or 3 egg omelette, no fat in the cooking (just that spray stuff). (300 cals approx)
For dinner I usually have things like stir fries with chicken or prawns or fillet steak. Loads and loads of veg and only a handful of brown rice or 70g of wholemeal pasta. If I’m hungry later on I have those roasted monkey nuts you get in shells at Tesco or another apple. (700 cals approx).
If I cycle in and out of Edinburgh and walk the bridge I’ll burn 4,500 calories and will have lost a pound in a day.
The theory is called food combining (and it’s about managing your blood sugar levels effectively). The book above is magnificent. I swear by it. The Food Doctor Everyday diet by Ian Marber.
Forget the recipes, just read the theory over and over till it sticks.
Do not get in a rut eating the same things every day.
I promise you, you won’t be hungry on this ‘diet’ – although it’s more than a diet, it’s a regime.
The worst bit is the no booze rule but an important principle in the diet is what Marber calls the 80:20 rule in which 20% of the time you relax the regime (for me that means you can have a bev!)
(For the record I lost 64lbs in 138 days last year. I’ve started it again this year and have lost 11lbs in the first 16 days). I lost 6 inches round my stomach and 8 from my chest. My trousers went from size 40/42 to 34 and heading towards a 32 if I keep it up for another month.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, football, humour, life, Scotland, sports, stories, Uncategorized | Tags: arthur seat, celtic fc, Chips'n'cheese, easter Road stadium, Edinburgh, Edinburgh View, Edinburgh's Greatest Football Team, Hibees, Hibernian FC, Ian McAteer, Leith, Sunshine on Leith, The Bhouys, the hoops, the union
Advertising supremo, Iain McAteer, of The Union was climbing Arthur Seat on a chill but not Arctic New Year’s day.
The hike was an attempt to wash the bitter taste of the defeat (and too much red wine) of his beloved Chips’n'cheese-eating, potato picking, football team to the (ex) purveyors of the beautiful game, the mighty Hibernian FC from his mouth.
He turned to take in the glorious view and was rewarded with this stunning vision.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, humour, life | Tags: gay music, kate McGarrigal, Krystle warren, pop, rufus wainwright, teddy thomson, Usher Hall edinburgh
Jeana and I saw Rufus Wainwright at the Usher Hall last night and he was very good in parts. His piano based torch singing always hit the mark but the sound for his full band numbers was sometimes mixed a little to murkily losing the power of his vocals. Anyway the highlight of the evening was the performance of two Kate McGarrigal numbers by members of Wainwright’s backing band as a tribute to his departed mother.
One by the uniquely voiced Krystle Warren.
The other by the imperious Teddy Thomson (son of Richard and Linda).
The night ended in a Bacchanalian gay orgy involving members of the audience angels, death, Wainwright in a togo all lubed up and a singing sandwich. You had to be there. Terrific fun. For me this number was the highlight of Rufus’s set.
Filed under: creativity, humour, life | Tags: fear of clowns, fear of santa
As demonstrated vividly by my pal Jackie’s son Tom.
(He’s 18 now)
His Mum (the seemingly lovely Jackie in her public persona) apparently brings the photo out every year and the whole family piss themselves laughing. It certainly made my night when I saw it for the first time.
I, frankly, empathise with the Gregory Peck’s
Filed under: creativity, cycling, humour, life | Tags: 801 dalmeny, arse, bad ass, cycling, cycling awards, good ass, rear of the year, rear of the year 801 dalmeny
I am, after only 6 weeks or so as a rider with 801 Dalmeny, the proud recipient of an award that surely made Felicity Kendall’s career back in the 70′s. Perhaps this marks the beginning of a lucrative modelling career to add to my list of occupational dalliances.
Filed under: business, conservative, creativity, liberal, life, politics, Rants, Uncategorized | Tags: Barack Obama, democrats, ethnic vote, mitt romney, politics, republicans, The 2012 US presidential election
When Barack Obama rode into power in November 2008 on a wave of optimism, change, belief, creativity and downright sexiness the world gasped. American politics had not been so riveting since the 1960′s and certainly not as glamorous. This online ad encapsulated it all for me.
And then reality kicked. The mother of all recessions and hostile antipathy towards what’s now known as Obamacare.
One of Mitt Romney’s central strategies was, in creating 12million new jobs (really?), he would revoke Obamacare and return America to the most obviously polarised class structure in the Western world.
Obama meanwhile was criticised for continuing the Afghan war and for appearing remote; too much a thinker, not enough a baby-hugger.
He was doomed.
Five things saved him I believe. Catching, and killing, Bin Laden (in a brave and high risk operation), Hurricane Sandy, Clinton’s speech, his wife and a brilliantly single-minded and principled political agenda that reached out Liberally to the WHOLE of America.
While Romney seduced the white vote with constant appeals to their pockets “it’s the economy stupid.” Obama consistently ploughed his furrow of social justice.
The Democrats are painted as Socialists (albeit dressed in Blue) but they strike me, under Obama, as the world’s great Liberals, balancing vote winning (in the underpriveleged) social issues with strong foreign affairs and a balanced view on the economy; it’s not the economy at ALL costs.
This chart said it all when I saw it last week. It demonstrated what a danger Romney would be given the keys to the White House (we all saw his ineptitude abroad earlier this year in the UK)
The statistics are overwhelming and, guess what, the only country favouring Romney was Pakistan; default home of Al Quaeda. World, we got a close call here but escaped unharmed.
Obama’s return to power was anything but certain. He had to rely on a strong ethnic vote (and his ethnicity unquestionably helped there – were a white candidate standing against Romney the result would probably have been very different. Should Hilary Clinton choose to stand in 2016 her support amongst female voters may have a similiar effect). He had to scrap on the streets of the swing states for his life. He only performed moderately in the TV debates. He was saved in the end by his sticking to principles but his negative campaigning was far removed from the elegance of the Obey campaign.
This TV ad from last month though was a masterclass in Liberal balanced communication and I hope it made its mark. There were so many that one will never know and it seems it was the doorstep canvassing that really made the difference. Obama’s strategy in micro-marketing being better and more energetic.
A note on the TV coverage. I watched it here, in the UK, flipping between the BBC, Sky, CNBC and CNN. By a country mile the most interesting, insightful and challenging coverage came from CNN.
The BBC was plodding and boring.
So, America has made a brave, some might say, and reasoned, others might say, judgement call. At the end of an administration that has see the economy hit by its very own Hurricane Sandy and against a presentable and domestically credible conservative voice offering the promise of a return to “The American Dream” Obama has held on, scraped back into power and given the opportunity to carry on his work, Not only that but The Senate surprisingly remained in the hands of the Democrats.
One major blot on the horizon; the Republicans still hold power in the house and so the opportunity to quash social change policies remains real and present.
One word sums it up again though.
I’m Mark Gorman and I approved this message.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, life, movies | Tags: Arts, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, entertainment, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Looper, Looper timeline, sci fi, transportation
Let’s get this straight. Looper is not, as many say, “the Matrix of the 21st Century” it’s “Sliding Doors with Guns.”.
It’s a clever attempt to play with the concept of ‘what might have been’ on a very grand scale (although, interestingly, not, as I was expecting , on a mind boggling scale).
It’s a big movie but it’s not one that, had it failed would bring the studio to its knees and I kind of liked that. Clocking in at $30,000 ain’t really that big a deal.
It’s set in 2047 in a now ragged USA with China having taken ascendancy in the world. I liked the fact that director and writer Rian Johnson (Brick) doesn’t turn it into Blade Runner but adds a few neat sci-fi tricks (like flying motorbikes). Loopers are “disposal men” of their future selves who are sent back from 2077 for, well disposal,. They are called Loopers because the film is all about time loops. 2044′s Loopers are disposed of 30 years hence (and they know it) by themselves hence “Closing the Loop”, but occasionally it goes wrong such as here where Joe (our Hero played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has to close the loop on himself (Old Joe played by Bruce Willis). But it all goes Pete Tong and so we now have two Joe’s on the go.
You can skip the next para if you’ve not seen the movie because it’s a spoiler.
Personally, my view is we have three because Cid, the child that young Joe encounters in the second half of the movie is, in my opinion, his younger self. Which makes the sex scene he has with Sara (Emily Blunt – Cid’s Mum) interesting because that means he’s having sex with his own mother.
OK, back to the review.
Young Cid (a remarkable performance by 5 year old Pierce Gagnon) has Telekinetic powers and a temper that makes Linda Blair look merely snippy in The Exorcist.
I could go on but won’t because there’s a lot of detail to consume.
Suffice to say it all pans out cleverly; the various loops are closed in perhaps unexpected ways and we are left with a movie that is clever, well acted, slick and genuinely original.
It’s a definite recommendation. 8/10.
Filed under: bbc, creativity, humour, life | Tags: americanisms, BBC News Magazine, britishisms, etymology, language
I found this amusing piece on Britishisms that have been adopted in North America in the BBC News Magazine website and it got me thinking what Americanisms we have adopted in return. Any suggestions?
I don’t see “sidewalk” coming along anytime soon (although “Anytime soon” has crept in) in place of pavement. But “cab” sits comfortably alongside “taxi”in our daily vernacular.
We’ll always “queue” rather “stand in a line”.
I just can’t see” pants” replacing “trousers”. (“Strides” even.)
But “have a nice day” is increasingly common; “hell yeah” (see what I did there?)
“Bullshit” is now commonplace as is “MF” over here. But from what I can see our love of the C word has not crossed the Atlantic particularly readily.
“Wassup” remains resolutely American despite Budweiser’s best attempts to globalise it.
And if “later” or “laters” does take root in the UK I will have to kill myself.
Anyway. Let’s share our thoughts on this one so that I can create an article as good as the one below…
Autumn, n. The season between summer and winter. “‘Autumn’ is being used a lot more now instead of ‘fall’.” Alan, New York, US
Bloody, adj. and adv. An intensifier: absolute, downright, utter. Sometimes in a negative sense. “There have been several instances where I’ve heard the term ‘bloody’ in regular conversation. I understand the urge to say it in certain situations, but I react with a jolt when I hear it. It just seems so… indecent. The use of ‘bloody’, in my view, is iconically British. When Americans try to use it, I think they’re trying to sound like Michael Caine. I feel it’s a deliberate contrivance to associate themselves with some perceived prestige in sounding British. Some Americans think that by saying ‘bloody’ everybody will assume that they have four more IQ points than everyone else. It’s understandable. And completely true.” Marshall McCorcle, Dallas, Texas, US
Bum, n. The buttocks or posteriors (slang). “I have seen an increasing use of ‘bum’ for a person’s backside here, both from local friends and from Americans on the web. While I am still perfectly fine with sitting on my butt, everyone else is getting all fancy talking about their bums.” Jim Boyd, Des Moines, Iowa, US
Chav, n. Pejorative term to express young person who displays loutish behaviour, sometimes with connotations of low social status. “The word ‘chav’ is starting to catch on in the US, thanks to YouTube videos. I overheard someone say, ‘Nah I’m not buying those sneakers man, they are so chavvy’ at a sports retailer.” Jeff Bagshaw, US
“Chav is becoming rather noticeable as a few Americans understand that not ‘all British people are posh’. Boston/Cambridge is rife with international college students, so it may just be a blip, but I’ve heard it in a suburban grocery store in reference to some hooligans outside the store.” Elaine Ashton, Lexington, Massachusetts, US
Cheeky, adj. Insolent or audacious in address; coolly impudent or presuming. “I have loved using the word cheeky for about 10 years now.” Daniel Greene, Phoenix, Arizona, US
“Sometimes the British expression just says it better. I particularly like ‘cheeky monkey’.” G Griffin, Wethersfield, Connecticut, US
Cheers, sentence substitute. A drinking toast, goodbye, or thanks. “I am hearing people say goodbye to each other with the British ‘cheers’. Since I have always had a fondness for the Brits and things British, I enjoy hearing it instead of the worn out ‘later’ or ‘see ya later’. Like it or not, the Yanks and the Brits are cousins, and that’s that. Cheers!” Paul Phillips, Marblehead, US
“Use of the word ‘cheers’ in place of ‘thank you’ is on the rise, perhaps among young people who have spent time with British people.” Roddy McCalley, Joshua Tree, California, US
Fancy, v. With reference to fondness or liking. “Our US friends really enjoyed fancied, as in ‘she fancied him’, and an item, as in ‘are you two an item?’.” David Fryer, Muscat, Oman
“Fancy, as in I really fancy a pint.” Paul W, New York City, US
Flat, n. An apartment on one floor of a building. “Just as British people are increasingly calling (particularly posh) flats ‘apartments’, my American friends report that property developers are now selling ‘flats’ in order to make them sound grander than they are.” Beth, London
Frock, n. A girl’s or woman’s dress. “Until very recently, ‘frock’ only appeared in North America in British books. I first read it in the Narnia series. No-one ever said it, and no-one ever used it in print. No-one outside of readers of British literature would even have known what it meant. Now I see it in print media about fashion all the time. This just started happening in perhaps the past five years, certainly no more than 10 years.” Lee Boal, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Gap year, n. A year’s break taken by a student between leaving school and starting further education. “We didn’t do gap years much until recently, so we didn’t have our own term for it other than ‘year off’. The point of language is to communicate. If a new word or term fills a – sorry – gap, then it doesn’t matter where it’s from.” Alden O’Brien, Washington DC, US
Gobsmacked, adj. flabbergasted: struck dumb with awe or amazement. “I left the UK for the US more than 40 years ago. I first heard the word ‘gobsmacked’ about 10 years ago while visiting the UK. Perhaps because of the popularity of the programme Top Gear in the US, I now hear this used in the US.” Duncan Connall, Rhode Island, US
“I heard President Obama use the word ‘gobsmacked’. How’s that for a Britishism?” Stuart Hamilton, North Vancouver, Canada
Holiday, n. A period in which a break is taken from work or studies for rest, travel, or recreation. “As a child I read Enid Blyton, and as an adult I was pleased to notice, at least in advertising, the use of the word ‘holiday’ to replace the less preferable, in my opinion, ‘vacation’.” Vicki Siska, Fort Collins, Colorado, US
Innit, adv. A contraction of isn’t it? Used to invite agreement with a statement. “I can’t stop saying ‘innit’ – it’s the perfect sort of (‘sort of’ in this usage is also a popular Britishism) ending to an informal declarative statement.” Carolyn, Las Vegas, US
Kit, n. A collection of personal effects or necessities. “I’ve noticed the adoption of the British term ‘kit’ for what athletes wear, in the place of what we Americans would generally call a ‘uniform’ or ‘gear’. I notice it among those who follow tennis closely. People will refer to a player’s ‘kit’, which often changes several times a year depending on the surface.” Ana Mitric, Richmond, Virginia, US
Knickers, n. An undergarment for women covering the lower trunk and sometimes the thighs and having separate legs or leg-holes. “My American friend just recently said ‘I got my knickers in quite a twist’. I was amazed she didn’t say ‘panties’.” Nadine, Seattle, Washington, US
Loo, n. An informal word for lavatory. “Many of my friends now call the restroom ‘the loo’, although they haven’t converted to saying ‘loo-roll’ – it’s still toilet paper. Funny, since most of us won’t say ‘toilet’ for the American ‘bathroom’.” Heather Revanna, Colorado, US
Mate, n. A friend, usually of the same sex: often used between males in direct address. “It seems that Yanks enjoy English swear words but I don’t believe British people are using typical Americanisms. I’ve never heard a Englishman say ‘dude’ but I am hearing Americans say ‘mate’. I also don’t believe British people are so overtly conscious of foreign influence as much as Americans care to be, especially in the Midwest.” Paul Knight-Kirby, Rockford, Illinois, US
Mobile, n. Short for mobile phone; a portable telephone that works by means of a cellular radio system (‘cellphone’ or ‘cell’ in standard American English). “I think the use of ‘mobile’ is a consequence of more international travel and wanting to be understood. I use mobile while elsewhere and it is creeping into my US-based language as well.” Stuart Friedman, Middlesex, Vermont, US
Muppet, n. A stupid person; from the name for the puppets used in the TV programme The Muppet Show. “I am a Brit living in Idaho. One of the biggest Britishisms I see, and have helped perpetuate, is the term ‘muppets’ to refer to brainless individuals. I love this term as it conjures images of the loveable Muppets but in reference to a person it definitely conveys a lack of intelligence or substandard education. In this state there are plenty of ‘muppets’.” George Hemmings, Idaho, US
Numpty, n. A stupid person. “I have heard ‘numpty’ many times in the last few years. I get the impression that our American interpretation is more good-natured than it might be in the UK. It’s used when calling a friend a numpty when he does or says something silly. Perhaps this is because there is a ‘cuteness’ to the pronunciation of the word.” Jeffrey Timmons, Mayville, Wisconsin, US
Pop over, v. Come by for a visit. “Recently, I’ve heard the phrase ‘pop over’ used by several different people. (‘Why don’t I just pop over and pick them up?’).” Susan Moore, Indio, California, US
Proper, adj. Appropriate or suited for some purpose. “I picked up the British use of ‘proper’ (as in ‘a proper breakfast’) while completing graduate work at Oxford in the mid-2000s. I hadn’t realised just how prevalent it was in my own speech until a coworker asked me this year if it was a North Dakota thing, as that is the state where I grew up. It’s definitely not a North Dakota thing.” Jacquelyn Bengfort, Washington, DC, US
Queue, n. and v. A line of people, vehicles, etc, waiting for something. “In the ‘queue’. More online forms and automated voice responses to banking transactions say ‘queue’ instead of ‘line’. I’m guessing that it makes more sense to use it because people aren’t actually standing in a line if they’re on the phone.” Guy Hait, Chesterfield, Michigan, US
“When I was in New York and waiting with an American friend to get into a bar, I called it a queue. She told me that in the US it was called a line. However, she commented that ‘queue’ was becoming more common because of the use of the term ‘printer queue’ in computing.” David, Worcester
Roundabout, n. A road junction in which traffic streams circulate around a central island. “‘Roundabout’ is the official word used to describe the traffic circle that was recently completed in our rather small city. Many feel that this sounds pretentious. I am originally from California where we used the term ‘traffic circle’.” Beth, Bartlesville, Oklahoma, US
Row, n. and v. A noisy or violent argument, a quarrel with someone. “My husband and I often use the word ‘row’, most likely because we’ve heard it so often on public television. We think of it as a very common word among the Brits (like ‘bloody’) and we both assumed that most other people would recognise both the word and its meaning. Recently, my husband (who is very Southern and not bookish at all) used ‘row’ in a conversation with a buddy, only to learn that the friend had never even heard the word. We were astonished.” Catherine Graves, Georgia, US
Shag, v. To copulate with. “You guys missed the best one. ‘Shag’ is such a brilliant word and Brits cringe because of the vulgarity of it, while Americans don’t realise exactly how rude it is and run around saying it like a toddler repeating Daddy’s accidental swear word slip. I love it when you guys cringe over us picking up your words.” Leona, Oxford
“Thanks to Austin Powers, many Americans are familiar with the word ‘shag’, but don’t seem to realise how truly coarse it is. It’s used in polite society, and used to shock me, but now I accept the fact that usage differs in UK/US.” Linda Michelini, Port Orange, Florida, US
Skint, adj. Penniless, broke. “To hear terms like ‘skint’ for being broke, ‘agony aunt’ for opinion columnists, or ‘yobbo’ for upstart children has surprised me. Such words would never have been heard in this part of the world until only two or three years ago. There are only minor UK and Irish ex-pat communities over here, so to have this sudden and growing use of Britishisms is a linguist’s delight.” Anthony Hughes, Omaha, US
Sussed, v. To work or figure out; to investigate, to discover the truth about (a person or thing). “My favourite Britishism has to be ‘sussed’ – ‘I finally sussed out what he was talking about’, ‘leave them alone, they’ll suss it out on their own’. I use it a lot and I always seem to have to explain it to people, then a few days on, I’ll hear them using it and explaining it. It’s a word/phrase that gets used often in my close circle of friends now.” Bonnie Lee, Portland, Oregon, US
Twit, n. A fool; a stupid or ineffectual person. “It seems to me the word ‘twit’ – a Britishism heard on Monty Python – is being used more frequently here in the US.” Rachel Newstead, Appleton, Wisconsin, US
Wonky, adj. Shaky or unsteady. “Some Britishisms that I have used include ‘wonky’, ‘bung’, and ‘snarky’. They’re fun, innit? It’s hard for me to notice hearing these words in the US, because I talk to so many Brits online, so they sound normal now.” Anne E, Pittsburgh, US
Filed under: cycling, life, Rants, sports, stories | Tags: DR Pedro Celaya, Lance Armstrong, lance armstrong foundation, livestrong, US postal, USADA
Nimes 2003. Mid July. 35 degrees in the shade.
As I stood in the baking sun for more than five hours at the finishing line of a mid-race stage of the Tour de France waiting to catch a glimpse of my all time hero, Lance Armstrong, I’m blown away when an attractive young lady approaches me selling , for one Euro, the single most desirable, and certainly the coolest, thing I’ve ever seen.
A yellow rubber wristband bearing the Nike branded name of Lance’s new charitable venture – Livestrong.
I buy 10. And I wear a succession of these bands for a number of years.
I’ve already devoured “It’s not about the bike” (sublime) and ‘Every second counts” (something of a shabby follow up) but who cares, the proceeds are going to the Lance Armstrong Foundation (trustees of LIvestrong).
I buy Livestrong T Shirts. I am Lance Armstrong’s greatest evangelist.
Then news comes of the USADA’s alleged”victimisation” of Armstrong. They suspect wrongdoing and they go after him like a dog after a bone. What’s the point I wonder. After all I’ve read the books in which, page after page, he denies wrongdoing; “Why would I take drugs and risk ruining my body having just survived life threatening cancer. I would be the biggest fool on the planet.” I paraphrase, but that’s the sentiment and it runs through the books like a stick of rock.
Why would anyone lie, and lie again and again, this publicly, so convincingly? It’s not possible that it’s a lie.
Yesterday, the USADA issued a 1,000 page report using sworn testimony from 26 people including 15 members of Armstrong’s team at the time of his superhuman successes, US postal.
In it they say; “Together these different categories of eyewitness, documentary, first-hand, scientific, direct and circumstantial evidence reveal conclusive and undeniable proof that brings to the light of day for the first time this systemic, sustained and highly professionalized team-run doping conspiracy.”
Team Doctor, Pedro Celaya, was the mastermind of the hideous cheat but he contests the claims as does Armstrong, but the evidence is no longer refutable.
One question. Why?
Why would a team, comprising of dozens of people no doubt, conspire to cheat so willfully and cover their tracks so assiduously for so many years? what is actually the point of that? In the words of the Horlicks advertising team “How do they sleep at night?”
So, I am the fool. A naive dreamer that like a child simply believed what St Lance said. saint by night, sinner by day that is. You can’t take away what Armstrong did for many suffering people,, you can’t ignore the benefits of the LAF and Livestrong. But now it’s a legacy shrouded in guilt, bad taste and conscience salving.
Oh Lance. You make me so sad now.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, humour, life, music | Tags: glasto, glasto line, glastonbury, glastonbury line up announced
Credit to @TechnicallyRon on Twitter
Filed under: creativity, life, movies, music | Tags: aimee mann, Golden lin, Magnolia, pt anderson, venice film festival, Venice Film Festival Golden Lion, Wise up
…from one of the best films ever made (Magnolia) by the greatest living American Director (Paul Thomas Anderson) and featuring one of America’s greatest pop singers (Aimee Mann) who is 52 today.
Happy Birthday Aimee.
Oh, and here’s to PT winning the Golden Lion tonight at the Venice Film Festival.
I was out with a pal for a meeting in South Queensferry one evening last week.
We had a couple of beers (Belhaven Black to be precise – a new Stout from Scotland and very nice it is too).
Keir, my daughter Ria’s boyfriend, was behind the bar but one of the barmaids served us our second drink.
This is the chitty she (Chloe) gave Keir to place our order.
Filed under: humour, life, movies, Scotland, swearing | Tags: comedy, John Henshaw, Ken Loach, Kes, paul lavety, The Angels' share
Wow, Ken Loach’s 21st movie (might be more) further deepens his fondness for documentary style movie making in Scotland. As a child I was supremely moved by Kes. My Uncle took me to see it as a 7 year old and it scared me. The anger and bitterness of a Northern life of poverty, dominated by a glowering Brian Glover as the bullying PE teacher and the innocence of the lead character played by David Bradley left me all aquiver. Since then I’ve followed Loach almost universally. Riff Raff, Raining Stones, My Name is Joe, Carla’s Song, Looking for Eric. All brilliant. All gritty, all uncompromising.
Looking For Eric raised his box office bar by ingeniously casting Cantona and described as a comedy it had the odd laugh, but was no comedy. And this in some way compares.
This man is a national treasure.
And, so, to a movie billed as a proper comedy.
Well, it is very, very funny. Paul Lavety has made sure of that with a brittle acerbic, cynical script that bowls along spewing expletives faster than you can say “see you next Tuesday”. The plot itself is a little fantastical but you can forgive that because the performances are extraordinary, not least by British TV stalwart John Henshaw in a career defining role. In some ways it’s Henshaw’s movie and the denouement, which features him, is extremely moving.
I said it was a bit fantastical but the overall effect is fantastic. At one moment gut wrenchingly violent. The completely believable East end of Glasgow Gang culture that it’s set amidst is quite shocking at times, and at others it’s laugh out loud especially with its liberal use of top notch gratuitous swearing.
Don’t take your mother (although my mother had been the week before me and loved it!).
This is a great movie. A certainty for award victories and a life affirming way to spend an afternoon or evening in the cinema.
8.5 out of 10.
Filed under: cycling, life, sports, stories | Tags: andy murray, fct, glasgow to edinburgh bike ride, pedal for scotland, south queensferry, travel
So, as I may have mentioned already I’ve been asked to blog on behalf of http://ow.ly/c1Ssg the Pedal For Scotland bike ride which runs from Edinburgh to Glasgow on the morning of September 9th.
To be honest six months ago the very thought of it would have filled me with dread but being four and a bit stone lighter, partly thanks to my beautiful bike I am actually relishing the challenge. Nevertheless, I need to build the mileage up and get the “miles in my legs” if I’m going to make a decent fist of it.
It’s 47 miles which should be achievable in just over three hours at my rate of riding (I average 16 miles an hour typically).
So, yesterday amidst the rain and before the Andy Murray defeat I got on my bike and thrashed out 17 miles in about an hour. For a change I wore my heart rate monitor to see how I coped. From a start where my heart rate was about 60 I quickly settled into a rate in the mid 130′s (good solid exercise) but at the end I had to tackle the dreaded Hawes Brae in South Queensferry. A real beast of a hill about half a mile long and really steep. It climbed and climbed as I forced my way to the top, peaking at 168. For those of you who know for a 50 year old that ‘s 220 – 50 (170) only 2bpm short of it.
My objective is to get 100 miles a week into my legs but that’s a big ask. Also I’ve got two holidays planned so that isn’t going to help either plus FCT has a show on in the Festival called Once on This Island which will also preoccupy me for the best part of a fortnight.
But anyway. Here goes.
Filed under: family, food, life, Scotland | Tags: 50 for 50, Diet, weight loss
Well, it’s been a tough but exciting two months.
I’ve cycled 400 miles and walked 240.
I’ve been on a (roughly speaking) about 1500 calorie a day regime but it’s been worth t as I put on a suit yesterday that I “earned” from Smiths Menswear in 1995.
Most pleasing of all my BMI moved from obese to overweight this morning. That’s a really big thing for me as it completely re-categorises me in my own mind (mind you that’s on the halls md scale (an American model that challenges the usual dodgy findings of the existing BMI standards that take no account of muscle percentage, merely weight. NOT THAT I AM SAYING I AM MUSCULAR.
So, I have a good half stone to go on the regular measure to make that claim but in my mind I am no longer obese.
I’ve lost 13.5% of my body weight so far and am 70% towards my target of 50lbs lost by 50. (Mid May.)
I know I will get there now; it’s only a question of when?
Thanks everyone for your support so far and especially Pete and Jeana.
If you want to pledge your support for the charities that we are raising money for please sign up here.
Me? I’m off for some scran.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, golf, life, photography, sports, videos | Tags: JP Auclair, LCD soundsystem, Ski video
OK, so I don’t DO ski.
But one can’t help but admire excellence in other fields.
Check out this video then by JP Auclair. It won a bunch of prizes at ski film awards for his LCD Soundsystem video.
The bit I love most is the sparks flying as the skis hit gravel.
Reminds me of driving on the golf course at dusk when the titanium sole plate of the driver catches grit on the Tee.
Filed under: family, food, life, science, Scotland, stories | Tags: 50 for 50, campbells meat, complex carbohydrates, Cube Hyde, food combining, food combining diet, low carb diet, mark gorman, mark gorman think hard, nike, Nike Plus, Pete and mark.wordpress.com, pete the meat, peter Flockhart, rachel Apppolinari Fund, steve appolinari, think hard
My friends on facebook will be aware of the challenge my next door neighbour, Pete Flockhart (aka Pete the Meat) and myself set ourselves in the depressing dog days of 2011. Both of us had piled on the weight in the last couple of years as a result of lack of exercise, overeating (or eating the wrong stuff to be more precise) and over drinking.
We’re both 50 in May, ten days apart in fact and the prospect of our local GP carrying out rectal examinations whilst lecturing us about our obesity was too much to contemplate.
So we decided to set ourselves a challenge.
We’d both lose 50 lbs by our 50th birthdays.
Our good pal Doug Cook offered to design us a campaign logo. This is it…
And we set up a blog to follow the journey.
We’ve dramatically reduced our alcohol intake (bar a few binges).
We’ve put ourselves on really good diets. Pete’s a bit heavy on the rabbit food but I’ve been following a food combining approach which consists of Muesli and fresh fruit for breakfast, salad with lots of protein for lunch and a good mix of protein and complex carbs for dinner.
No pies, no crisps, no sweets, very few, virtually none in fact, simple carbs (white rice, white bread, white pasta, potatoes – in fact none of any of them in a month), no butter, reduced fat (the one cal spray you can buy is excellent), no chocolate, no biscuits, no visits to Greggs AT ALL.
And of course, the exercise. I have a Nike Plus wristband which acts as a GPS device, pedometer and calorie burn measurer which is calibrated (extremely accurately I have to say) for stride length and distance walked plus weight.
Our regime has been walking 2 out of every three days across the Forth Road Bridge and back. That’s about 5.7miles (9km) and we have a slightly longer route that’s 7 miles (11km). In January I walked 190km ( 118 miles) and Pete was about the same. However I’ve also recently bought an amazing, really really amazing, new bike – a Cube Hyde Pro – that’s carried me 200 miles in and out of town this month.
We’re taking the opportunity to raise funds for two very deserving charities as we go and you can pledge your support here if you’d like to help us. They are the Rachel Appolinari Fund which has been set up on behalf of a young girl, a friend of my family, who died, aged 19, of a brain tumour at Edinburgh neuro-oncology unit at the Western General Hospital. Her Dad and sisters have already raised £50,000 for the hospital in Rachel’s name. The other (Pete’s choice) is the Chest, Heart and Stroke Foundation in Scotland for obvious reasons. I hope you will support us.
The results are encouraging.
In the first month, which ended today, I lost 22lbs and Pete lost 30lbs. That’s 9% of our combined body weight. Our BMI’s have tumbled but there’s a long, long way to go and to be honest 50lbs may have set the bar a little too low.
We realise the easiest bit is over and we really do need to dig in now, but we’ve been saying that since the end of week one in which Pete lost a staggering 16.5 lbs, so maybe we’re striking the right balance.
A big thing about this, to my mind, is the value of attempting a challenge like that with others. Doing it solo is very difficult indeed. So, to Pete the Meat, Slainte! Onwards and upwards. Together we shall prevail!
Anyway, follow our exploits here. You can sign up for updates on the left hand side of the blog and please support us as best you can.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, family, life, movies | Tags: Bobby Sands, carey mulligan, extreme aggression, journey to hell, maze prison, Michael Fassbender, new york, self harm, self indulgence, sex addict, shame, Steve McQueen, suicide
There’s a scene early in Shame where Michael Fassbender languorously wanders, completely naked, through his flat and stands at the toilet before slowly micturating as we watch voyeauristically. It sums the film up. Pish.
Hunger, McQueen’s debut, was my movie of 2008. McQueen and Fassbender pulled off a coup with a brilliantly thought provoking and totally engaging story about Bobby Sands and the dirty protests in the Maze prison in Belfast. It was a horrifying journey to hell and back with a miraculous central peformance by Fassbender.
This movie attempts to do something similiar, performance wise at least, by stripping Fassbender back literally to his skin.
It’s a story about unsaid things. Clearly Fassbender and his sister (Sissy, played by Carey Mulligan) have a past that has severely damaged them emotionally and their onscreen relationship hints, at times, of near incestual closeness but this is kept at bay by extreme aggression to each other.
Sissy is a self harmer, Fassbender a sex addict. Neither evoke any sympathy whatsoever, because McQueen has set out to make a movie that moves glacially and observes the action with a remoteness and aloofness that is chilling and utterly unengaging.
The truth is, this is a self absorbed piece of film making that leaves one cold, in fact, pretty bored actually.
It’s unsympathetic stance towards the central characters actually ends up with you not caring by the end.
A cold, uninvolving self indulgence of a movie that I’d recommend avoiding.
Filed under: creativity, humour, life, Scotland, writing | Tags: english, english pronounciation, english pronunciation, english vocabulary, idiosynchrasy, language, native english speakers, tongue tied, tonguetwister, vocabulary
Thanks to my old mucker, Bruce Haines who was President of the IPA back in the day when I sat on the President’s committee. He now resides in Seoul so I’m sure he could have a lot of fun teaching this to the locals.
It’s an astounding vocal trickery game really that has to be read out loud.
A wonderful celebration of the English language. Enjoy.
If you can pronounce correctly every word in this poem, you will be speaking English better than 90% of the native English speakers in the world.
After trying the verses, a Frenchman said he’d prefer six months of hard labour to reading six lines aloud.
Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.
Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.
Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation’s OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.
Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.
Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Fe0ffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.
Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.
Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.
Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.
Pronunciation (think of Psyche!)
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won’t it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It’s a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.
Finally, which rhymes with enough,
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!
Filed under: Arts, creativity, life | Tags: contemporary scottish art, feral, feral art, kirsty whiten, printmakers studio edinburgh
Kirsty Whiten is one of Scotland’s most respected young contemporary artists.
I commissioned a painting of Tom by her in her artschool days (when she babysat for us) and 1576 bought one of her paintings for our reception.
Her work has become increasingly challenging and this latest exhibition pulls no punches.
It looks amazing though so get along this Saturday 14th January…
Exhibition runs until 10th March. Gallery hours are Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 6pm
Filed under: books, business, creativity, humour, jokes, life, Rants, stories, swearing, work, writing | Tags: apostrophes, death of the apostrophe, lynne truss, proper syntax, waterstones
Some fucking dick in the Waterstone’s marketing department thinks the apostrophe is an inconvenience in the digital age.
Yeah sure it is in a url, but we all know that urls don’t need punctuation and everyone, even Lynne Truss, will live with that.
However, to use that as an excuse to rebrand Waterstone’s as Waterstones is absurd.
It’s a fucking bookshop.
It should be the last bastion of proper syntax for fuck sake.
It is utterly unforgiveable.
It’s like the Driving Standards Agency hiring blind people to take driving tests.
Before you know it we’ll have section’s for biographys, comic’s, childrens book’s, and busine’ss section’s.
Or is that bastards’ or bastards or bastard’s or bas’tards or bas’tard’s or bas’tard’s’
I give up. In apoplexy.