American Psycho the Musical and this trip to London

American Psycho the musical

Related videos including an interview with Duncan Sheik and director Rupert Goold and the cast in rehearsals.

Went on a trip to London to see American Psycho the Musical at the Almeida. We booked these tickets in May of last year before Matt Smith was announced as the lead which led it to sell out completely. Picked the date based on when there was a talkback.

This was near as painless an experience as it could be dragging someone who hates London with me. He was willing to admit he would have graded it a great trip if it took place somewhere else.

Pleasant Grand Central train ride to London from Hartlepool with a nice amount of legroom. Booked the nearby Euston Premier Inn an easy walk from the station. The room was in a quiet wing and really was impressively quiet. It was also easy walking distance to and to everywhere we were going, the Almeida Theatre, The British Museum and The Cartoon Museum.

Duncan Sheik and meSome tips if you are going to the Almeida Theatre. It is small so book early if it is something you are desperate to see. The seats are not all separate from each other – this was cosy and comfy sitting next to someone I’m close with. May lead to some awkwardness next to someone you don’t know. (The studio theatre at Theatre Royal in Newcastle is similar with long benches instead of individual seats.)

There is an Ottolenghi across the street so if you’re a fan pre-book. Was gutted I didn’t notice until after eating dinner in the theatre, since I just got an Ottolenghi cookbook for Christmas/Hanukkah. The cafe/bistro inside the theatre was perfectly serviceable and delicious and we only had an hour to eat so I am not too bitter about the Ottolenghi thing and it just means I will have to go back.

I continue to be a Duncan Sheik fangirl, thoroughly enjoyed the show.  Was a bit distracted to begin with as Matt Smith comes out in his y-fronts and a mask to sing. The story is set in NY of the 80s and though the cast did a great job but for the first few minutes I was distracted by the accents – Matt Smith sounded like he was imitating Kev’s American accent/John Wayne impression which was making me want to giggle.

The 80s music and the new stuff by Duncan Sheik worked really well together. The well known parts of the book/film feature here. Set design was great.

So glad we went!!

Book recommendation: Warren Ellis – Crooked Little Vein

The first two paragraphs are so vivid and the evil rat made me gol – giggle out loud. Kev bought the book for himself and I read it super quickly. When we were just on holiday he started reading it on the train and I read it over his shoulder and remembered how much I enjoyed it.

Fun, seedy adventure exploring obscure fetishes across the USA not for the squeamish. Readers of BME modblog will be fine. For fans of noir, Elmore Leonard, Kinky Friedman and link surfing online.

First two paragraphs reprinted here with permission of the author. You can read the whole first chapter from his website.
Just order it now you won’t regret it.

I opened my eyes to see the rat taking a piss in my
coffee mug. It was a huge brown bastard; had a body like a
turd with legs and beady black eyes full of secret rat
knowledge. Making a smug huffing sound, it threw itself
from the table to the floor, and scuttled back into the
hole in the wall where it had spent the last three months
planning new ways to screw me around. I’d tried nailing
wood over the gap in the wainscot, but it gnawed through it
and spat the wet pieces into my shoes. After that, I spiked
bait with warfarin, but the poison seemed to somehow cause
it to evolve and become a super-rat. I nailed it across the
eyes once with a lucky shot with the butt of my gun, but it
got up again and shat in my telephone.

I dragged myself all the way awake, lurching forward
in my office chair. The stink of rat urine steaming and
festering in my mug stabbed me into unwelcome wakefulness,
but I’d rather have had coffee. I unstuck my backside from
the sweaty leatherette of the chair, fought my way upright,
and padded stiff-legged to the bathroom adjacent to my
office. I knew that one of these days someone was going to
burst into the office unannounced to find a naked private
investigator taking a piss with the bathroom door open.
There was a time where I cared about that sort of thing.
Some time before I started living in my own office, I
think.

Food Friday 2014 – Google food hacks to learn from

Loved this article about how Google influences employees painlessly to make healthier choices.

Top tips:

  • Put unhealthy snacks in opaque bins or boxes instead of in plain sight.
  • What is the first thing you see when grazing for food – it will be what you eat most of.
  • People with bigger dishes tend to eat more.
  • Be conscious of what you put at eye-level in the fridge, e.g water v. soda.

Food Friday 2014 – Slide at the free buffet and a good book

Still having trouble with temptation. Offers of chocolate from coworkers and this week, a krispy kreme, a nice buffet spread at a workshop I attended followed by an ice cream….

The work temptations are also pick-me-ups when staying inside. Need to make sure to walk outside during the day. Then saying no to things I am tempted by rarely (fresh krispy kremes) or free food….It is not as though I’m hungry and need  the food…

Been reading a really good book (so far) called The Flat Tummy Club Diet (should I have left the typo in as Fat Tummy Club Diet??).

The chapter on getting ready to make changes in your life talks about the Stages of Change model which has been around for a while in various forms.

1. Pre-contemplation
2. Contemplation
3. Preparation
4. Action
5. Maintenance
6. Relapse

damn but you can get to relapse quickly.

The trick with these relapses is to not let it lead to more, but rather to go straight back to contemplation, pass quickly through preparation, action and back into maintenance, or ‘happy balance’ mode. – Kate Adams, Flat Tummy Club Diet, p. 25

Thought on Ariel Sharon’s death

Ariel Sharon, the 11th prime minister of Israel was a participant in the majority of Israel’s wars. He was considered a great military strategist. I would need to read a lot more about wars to be more specific than that.

As housing minister, he encouraged Jewish settlement in such a way
Hamitnahalim Geder Bitahonas to make the Green line blurred through his Seven Stars housing plan. Many supported him for religious or nationalist reasons, others thought it would help with security while others took part in settlements for economic betterment through subsidized housing.

I am sympathetic to those who took/take part in this activity out of a genuine if misguided belief it would help keep Israel safe. The sticker above at right is translated as “The settlers are the true security fence”

It’s a shame that Ariel Sharon fell into a coma just as his hawkish ways were turning toward Peace with quotes like “You can not like the word, but what is happening is an occupation — to hold 3.5 million Palestinians under occupation. I believe that is a terrible thing for Israel and for the Palestinians. ” Source

I remember left wing protesters at the time holding up placards with the words of Ariel Sharon, which was quite a switch from this parody of a playful children’s song sung at protests against wars in Lebanon.
Red Eleynu protest songThe lyrics of the song are

Come down to us Aviron (airplane) – רד אלינו אוירון

Take us to Lebanon – קח אותנו ללבנון

We’ll fight for Sharon – נלחם בשביל שרון

And return in an Aron (coffin) – ונחזור בתוך ארון

The original lyrics were Come down to us plane, Taking us to the sky to play above the trees to be like the birds.

My perception is that Israel trusts its old men. State builders and hawks who turn into doves have greater credibility in the eyes of the general public. Whether they transform in light of newfound knowledge and maturity obtained in later life, due to the practicality of the two state solution in terms of population numbers or a self-centered eye toward their historical legacy I don’t know.

I wonder if Benjamin Netanyahu will one day turn toward Peace and whether he will be in a position to effect change. It will be sad if Peace waits for him or those that come after as that would mean the founders of the state of Israel do not get a chance to see Peace in their lifetimes, similar to Moses being unable to enter the land of Israel as the biblical story goes.

It is easy to forget that these politicians are also people. There was an exhibition in 2008 “Moments of Home – רגעים של בית” featuring photographs by David Rubinger and Ziv Koren of Israeli politicians/public figures in their homes to serve as a reminder. This exhibition was part of Israel’s  60th birthday celebrations. It took place in Shuk Hapishpishim in Yafo –  June 25, 2008 – July 2, 2008. There were postcards of some of the images. Below are two photographs of the ones of Ariel Sharon.

Lily and Ariel Sharon in their home, Havat Hashikmim – Sycamore Ranch, 1989

Photo by David Rubinger – דוד רובינגר

1989 ,לילי ואריאל שרון בביתם, חוות השיקמים

Lily and Ariel Sharon in their home, Havat Hashikmim – Sycamore Ranch, 1989 Photo by David Rubinger

Ariel Sharon in his home Havat Hashikmim – Sycamore Ranch, 2001

Photo by Ziv Koren – זיו קורן

2001 ,אריאל שרון בביתו, חוות השיקמים

Ariel Sharon in his home Havat Hashikmim – Sycamore Ranch, 2001 Photo by Ziv Koren

Another pair of Ariel Sharon photos can be found in Ziv Koren’s book Milestones. Screenshot below in case the site goes down. At left is an opponent of Disengagement from Settlements reading a biography of Ariel Sharon, at right Ariel Sharon is at a Picasso exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

pair of Ariel Sharon photos in Ziv Koren’s book Milestones

And then there was also this randomness in 2003.

Bobby Brown, Whitney Houston and Ariel Sharon in Israel

RIP Ariel Sharon. Obituary in Tablet Magazine here, with a famous photo of Ariel Sharon holding a sheep.

Stargazing at RSPB Saltholme

RSPB Saltholme puts on great activities for families. Just as BBC Stargazing Live returned to our screens they held two live stargazing events on the reserve. Both events were fully booked well in advance so it is worth pre-booking early.

Volunteers from the Cleveland and Darlington Astronomical Society helped out for the evening. They generally meet monthly at the Wynyard Planetarium.

There were 3 activities to keep everyone busy. We took our two nephews and were lucky to have a clear night.

We were at capacity and split into two groups.

Our group went outside first. The volunteers had telescopes set up.  There was a small one pointed at the moon’s craters – well within reach of little ones. There were also step-ladders to reach the eyepieces on larger telescopes.

We could see Jupiter and its rings with four moons, a yellow star near a blue star, and given a historical eye test. The telescopes needed to be readjusted all the time as the stars moved due to the Earth’s constant rotation.

A great tip from the volunteers was that an amateur would do well with a pair of binoculars rather than a telescope as it would have a wider field of vision that wouldn’t have to constantly be readjusted.

It was a bit chilly so we went inside to have a warming cup of delicious vegetable soup and a bun and take part in activity 2 to make planispheres.

It was then time to swap with the other group and go upstairs for activity 3. A star dome, a portable planetarium was set up from Teesside University. You have to crawl into it, it looks like an inflated igloo. There is a moment when the tunnel is pitch black. I was concerned my younger nephew would panic and freak out (flashbacks of his former 5-year-old self at The Forbidden Corner shrieking and crying). Happily he pushed past his initial fear :o) One of the volunteers then showed us different constellations inside the dome, telling stories with drawings overlaid on the stars.

As we left they handed  out the BBC Stargazing calendar for 2014 – available online as a pdf.

A great early evening activity with the boys at “the bird place” who are now looking forward to the Big Garden Birdwatch

More star resources linked to from the BBC website:

60 Second Adventures in Astronomy

Star Party Pack

Stargazing Event Pack

On death by Canon Henry Scott-Holland

Death is nothing at all

I have only slipped away into the next room

I am I and you are you

Whatever we were to each other

That we are still

Call me by my old familiar name

Speak to me in the easy way you always used

Put no difference into your tone

Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow

Laugh as we always laughed

At the little jokes we always enjoyed together

Play, smile, think of me, pray for me

Let my name be ever the household word that it always was

Let it be spoken without effort

Without the ghost of a shadow in it

Life means all that it ever meant

It is the same as it ever was

There is absolute unbroken continuity

What is death but a negligible accident?

Why should I be out of mind

Because I am out of sight?

I am waiting for you for an interval

Somewhere very near

Just around the corner

All is well.

Nothing is past; nothing is lost

One brief moment and all will be as it was before

How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

– Canon Henry Scott-Holland, 1847-1918, Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral

Excerpt from ‘The King of Terrors’, a sermon on death delivered in St Paul’s Cathedral on Whitsunday 1910, while the body of King Edward VII was lying in state at Westminster. The full text of the sermon is available on wikisource.

Beautiful, comforting words upon the death of a loved one.

Axe Cop at Animex

Ethan Nicolle speaking at Teesside University for Animex had a lot of helpful things to say for people beginning their career paths and also was a lot of fun for fans of his work.

I LOVE Axe Cop. Because of the talk I have since picked up copies of Chumble Spuzz (how neat that Doug Tennapel, creator of Earthworm Jim has written the intro) and The Weevil. How much would I love to see a copy of The Drug Busters?

I was a bit fangirlish and asked for a smooch cop here it is:

Smooch Cop