29 April, 2010

Jurassic Park.

I have been out pounding the pavement. Nothing to show from it yet, but I am not deterred. Well, not VERY deterred. As a friend of mine told me right when I quit, the right job will come along. This is all for the best.

As I am unable to run still, I went for a walk the other night around the Serpentine. For those of you not in The Know, the Serpentine is that little lake in the middle of Hyde Park. The lake is normally clogged with people during the day, but at night it is lovely and deserted. Not only are the people gone, the ducks, geese, and swans are much more relaxed. I almost stepped on a couple of ducks napping in the middle of the path. Most of the swans were doing their nightly oil rub-down to keep the water flowing off their feathers and the (normally evil) Grey Geese were standing on one foot dozing. If Birds used to be Dinosaurs, then Grey Geese were Raptors. Cute and fuzzy as babies, but when they are grown they will pluck your eyes out of your skull while honking. 

I am no expert on birds. I don’t eat them anymore, but I have seen a fair bit of them. When I lived in Bethesda, Steve and I would take the canoe out on the Potomac and on a quiet morning, you could get right up to the Herons hunting in the shallows before they would notice you were there. They were always on their own, the herons. Never saw more than two at a time in one area. So you can imagine my surprise after almost stomping on a pair of sleeping ducks to see a heron standing in my way on the path. He scooted to one side, which I thought was nice as he looked like a dinosaur and scared me a little. Then I noticed another, another and another.

Once I waded through the group of them, I turned back to see what in the hell was going on, and counted 35 of them. Vaguely lit by the weak street lamp at the top of the hill, dozens of these grey dino-birds were just chilling out on the hillside. There was a couple there and they must have been doling out bird crack, because I have never seen more than two of these things at a time and here was a herd –flock, I suppose, of them all waiting for something.

They were very polite and very patient. They weren’t queued up, just loosely standing about in one area, but it was pretty creepy. I am used to seeing a flock of Canada Geese clamoring for free bread from tourists. Hell, even the majestic swan lowers itself to scrabble for some free King’smill sliced. Not the heron. They were too dignified, too regal for that sort of behavior. They stood like guests at a black-tie gala, waiting to be served champagne and crab puffs. No squawking, no jostling. Just cool.

I am still a little freaked out by them. It could be the pointy beak and the unblinking eye. Or the Jack Nicholson slicked back haircut they all sport. Either way, they are a little scary, very cool and my new favorite bird. Until one of them attacks me on a nightly walk and stabs that razor beak through my thigh so I can’t run away while the others surround me and peck me to death then eat my innards leaving the rest of me for the ducks to poop on. I knew I should I have stepped on those sleeping ducks while I had the chance…

Author note: I had to go back the next night to try and get pictures. There was a smaller crowd of birds and I went early to get shots as my camera is crap, so it wasn't as dark.  But I did get these two just waiting. 

22 April, 2010


Celebrity Stalking is not something I would say I have engaged in. I mean, sure, who hasn't stood outside of Selma Blair's house with a roll of duct tape, a bundle of zip ties, a kilo of Swedish Fish and a jar of Peanut Butter. But that isn't stalking. That is just something to do on a Wednesday night. I am talking about following a celebrity in the media to the point that the most obscure reference sends you into fits. 

My list of "celebs" that I have met outside of a proper event is pretty small. In fact it is two people long and both happened when I was living in Salt Lake City. 

Ron Eldard: He walked into a shop where I worked. The exchange went like this. 
Me. "You look like that guy that used to be on Men Behaving Badly." 
Him. "I am that guy that used to be on Men Behaving Badly." 
Me. "Cool. The show has gone downhill since you left." 
Him. "Rob is a great guy, I am sure he will do just fine." 
Me. "What are you doing out here in Utah?" 
Him. "Shooting a film." 
Me. "Cool. That will be $9.50. Good luck on the film." 

Keene Curtis: He too walked into a shop where I worked. 
Me. "You look familiar. Where do I know you from?"
Him. "I was on Star Trek and on Cheers." 
Me. "Ah yes, Cheers. You ran the restaurant upstairs." 
Him. "indeed."
Me. "Here are the knit caps you were asking after, let me know if you need anything else." 

Nothing out of control, no one got drooled on or attacked. It was a very civil encounter both times. 

Later, when I started working in the bookshop, I adapted the same attitude when it came to the famous authors that came in to sign books. They were just working stiffs like me. They got up in the morning and ate Shredded Wheat (or whatever) nothing different than I did. No reason to get your pants in a bunch because they get hounded by the press more than you. 

All that being said, I was walking down the street coming out of Stanford's in Covent Garden when a man in head to toe black walked past me. Black shirt, black jeans, black shoes and Aviators. (If not for the aviators, I might have looked away. But I can't stop looking at them after my last post) He looked familiar to me for some reason, then it dawned on me that it was Kiefer Sutherland. I had heard he was in town. As I am sure everyone else that gets the metro does. The Paps followed him around and took his pics after a long night out. 

C'mon people. Leave him alone. He is just like you and me. He goes out for the same reasons I go out. He is having a good time. He isn't hurting anyone. If I took your pics after a rough night out at the pubs then put them all over the Sun, you would freak out! But he just takes it in stride. How many times have you needed a mates help to get to the bus? Or passed out on the tube and missed your stop. Or stood outside your flat with your keys in hand trying to figure out which one it was that worked the door and how they got so heavy all of sudden. If only you could take a little nap, you could get the key thing sorted out in a couple minutes. Okay, that last one might just be me. I was fine after that nice man from the bar up the street woke me up by ruffling my hair. I just needed a little break.

Anyway. So I saw Kiefer and tweeted that I had seen him in London. (Not the neighborhood. See? That is me being kind.) Maybe 30 minutes later, a stranger tweeted to me asking if I had spoken to him. What? Why would I have spoken to him? I don't know him. I know OF him, but that is all. We aren't on a first name basis. No offense to the nice woman that tweeted me, but I didn't chase him down and ask him for a photo. He might have said yes, but then I would have been the schmuck that bugged him when he was just out looking for a ... I dunno. Lunch? A book? New sunglasses? 

What ever it was Sergeant Roebuck was out looking for, I wasn't about to get in his way. I have shot him in the head on accident so many times, he might have been a little upset at me. You may be the type of person that runs up to celebrities on the street and asks them for autographs and pictures and what not. Hell, you might wear gold Aviators for all I know, I am not that guy. 

P.S. How KICK ASS is that shot of Keene Curtis? The bald head and awesome mustache? The Turtleneck and Leather Coat? RIP, Mr. Curtis.

P.S.S. If you notice, both Ron and Keene were in Men Behaving Badly. That is crafty use of the IMDB folks. Crafty   

14 April, 2010

Ow Ow Ow.

Did I mention that I started running? Not as though someone is chasing me, although I suppose it will come in handy when the situations comes up. Running to get in (better) shape. I am not exactly sure why I chose running. I could have done swimming or rowing or dwarf tossing, but I went with running. I think you need special equipment for dwarf tossing. Namely, a dwarf that is happy to get tossed. Man, that sounds dirty-- I have been doing it for a little while now but with all the free time I have now that I am not working full-time, I have been going (almost) every night. That should mean I get better at it, right? That is what I thought.

My last few runs have gone like this:
  • • 9.4 Kilometers in an hour. Happy. Excited. Tired.
  • • 4 Kilometers in 35 minutes. Dejected. Exhausted. Frustrated.
  • • 6 Kilometers in 40 minutes. Frustrated. In pain.
  • • 9.6 Kilometers in an hour. Elated. Sweaty.
  • • 6 Kilometers in 35 minutes. Serious pain. Very frustrated.
The last run was last night and after zipping through my first 3 K in 15 minutes something went wonky in my leg and I had to limp the last few Kilometers until I just stopped. I am no expert on anatomy, I only know it from the artist’s perspective and knowing how to draw a leg from the knee to the ankle doesn’t really tell you what is going on in there. The part that is hurting me is in the middle bit where there are no joints, no muscle connections (that I know of), just skin and bones. So, what the hell, Mr. Leg? Why are you acting up?

I think I am going to give him the night off and see if a rest sorts him out.

I realize that I am being overly dramatic. Having a wee bit of pain in your leg when you run is nothing like those hardcore footballers that get hurt on the pitch. Although, maybe it is. Perhaps the feeling that Francesco Totti feels when he bumps into Thierry Henry, collapses on the grass and screams like a teen-aged girl at a Twilight premier, is the exact same feeling I had last night. I did walk to the side lines (of the gym), stretched a bit, then walked home. Just like a proper footballer. Minus the screaming and rolling about on the grass trying to convince the ref that I was wronged by the treadmill. Is that why they have running coaches? Do they teach you how to flop on the ground and get a yellow card for the treadmill? I need to get one of those, then.

With any luck, my leg will sort itself out and I can continue my running endeavors. I have boosted my average speed in the last week and with luck, I can get back out there to lend my support to my friend Sarah who is running a half marathon. She is well ahead of me in her training.

As an aside,  Gimp Flipper is a great band name. 

09 April, 2010

A public service announcement.

Lets talk about sunglasses. It is getting warm here in the UK, the sun has decided to burn through the cloud layer and there are distinct moments when I am outside that I think, "Wow, I almost need my sunglasses out here today." Then I look around at the people I am walking near and I see that they all have sunglasses on. I also see a disturbing trend that I can not abide by. Can't do it. I tried, I really really tried. But I just can't get there.

What am I talking about? Aviators. Not the nice men and women that drive our sky-buses around. I am talking about the sunglasses. The ultra mirrored, shiny, metal-framed wonders that are perched on the faces of thousands of people out there. Here is where I come in. I am not sure the people that are out on the streets today know the rules about Aviators. "There are rules", you say? Why yes. Yes, there are. I am so glad you asked. Before I get into the rules of wearing Aviator-style glasses, please allow me a moment to give you my Top Five people that wear this style of glasses. This list is in order of magnitude based on the likelihood of people wearing these things on their face.

Number 5. (people LEAST likely to wear the glasses) Pilots. You would think that people that fly planes for a living would wear the glasses that are named after their profession, but you would be wrong. Pilots, -real pilots, mind you- have to actually see what they are looking at. I am not just guessing. I know a real pilot.

Number 4. Paedophiles. This really isn't funny. But if you are trying to hide what you look like from unsuspecting victims children. A big pair of glasses is the best way to go. Add in a navy blue baseball cap with a NY Yankees logo and you can just get arrested for walking outside. In fact, when I googled "Gary Glitter" (convicted paedo) I got this image back. He might have ruined it for all of you.

Number 3. Ironic Hipsters or Scenesters. You know who I am talking about. But to be fair, I think even the Hipsters have moved on. Thick Plastic Frames seem to be more their thing nowadays. They are only wearing the glasses because their parents don't understand them, or to hide the tears. Why are they crying? Because their skinny, black jeans are too tight. Also, they are only wearing the glasses "Ironically". This means they know the glasses look stupid, but they wear them anyway. Hipsters tread a fine line with the Number 1. They can easily tip over the edge.

Number 2. Highway Patrol Officers. For some reason, they love the things. I think because not being able to see their eyes gives them a sense of authority. Although with the conception of Reno 911, and the lovable Lt. Jim Dangle, I think even they are moving to a different style. I don't know that for certain. It has been awhile since I got pulled over by one. I have left my speeding days behind me in my 20's.

So that leads us to the number one. The people most likely to be seen wearing Aviators. Guesses? Thoughts? Should I just tell you? Okay. Keeping with format.

Number 1. D-bags. Oh, come on. You knew it all along. You looked at the pictures before you read the words. You can see that the example guy is a total D-bag. If not from the striped out Mustang (sorry Tom), then from the personalized plate. "Ya Bro"? I assume that "Brah" must have been taken and he had to settle for his second choice. Should we move on to the overly deep V neck? The greasy hair? The Moccasins? The skinny, black jeans? Over-sized belt buckle? The duck lips or the hand thing --it is almost a finger gun, almost a Jesus blessing. Perhaps he is just reaching out for help. He WANTS us to pull him away from this life of D-Baggery that he has fallen into.

I know I might be going against the whole Free Will thing. People can wear/act/do whatever they like. but they should also know that there are consequences. A life of Baggery can easily get you on a TV program like Tool Academy. Nobody like the D-bag. That is why the word is an insult.

Sorry. I got a little carried away with the listing and forgot to list the rules. They are simple. Wearing Aviators will make you look like one of the above characters. Girls can fall into these categories just as easy as guys.
So here are the rules: Ah, screw the rules. Putting Aviators on will make you look like an arse. There are LOADS of other styles to choose from. Do yourself (and us all) a favor and pick one of them. Or don't, I am happy to make fun of you as you prance about Brompton Road in your over-sized Chrome glasses.