Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Born lucky

Ana Ivanović is out of Wimbledon, retiring during her fourth-round tie with Venus Williams due to a micro-tear in her left thigh muscle.

When singers or actors happen to be both pretty and successful, our natural reaction is "of course they;re good looking. Probably only HIRED BECAUSE OF THEIR LOOKS ANYWAY."

And this is of course true. But the WTA rankings calculator doesn't apportion much value to 'hotness'. Which means that someone who gets to be best in the world at a major sport (admittedly last summer) AND look like this is just plain lucky.

Or at least, lucky except for susceptibility to particularly painful injuries that force you out of grand slams. No-one's THAT lucky.

Friday, June 26, 2009


Presley, the Beatles, Sinatra, Michael Jackson. It is no exaggeration to say that Michael Jackson was one of the most spectacular and popular entertainers of all time. Last night, he moonwalked off this mortal coil and left his millions of fans in a state of shock, grief and bewilderment.

It feels like music's JFK or Diana. People will remember where they were when they heard the news. At 23.20 CET I logged onto Twitter (now ablaze with MJ posts) and saw the below.

Half-suspecting a rumour or hoax, I turned to my girlfriend with a puzzled look on my face and muttered "I think Michael Jackson might be dead..."

We turned the TV to CNN and frantically searched online news sources. TMZ seemed to be the only outlet claiming he had died - then Reuters supposedly confirmed it, and CNN stated he was in a coma. An hour or so later the LA Times and CBS confirmed his death, followed by the BBC and finally, another 45 minutes on, CNN. Incredulous and saddened, we went to bed.

And that was that. The media will be filled with obituaries, 'Life In Pictures' and TV specials, and no doubt there'll be pubic displays of grief too. I'm going back to London tonight (for the Killers, a wedding, DMB and Springsteen) but will sadly miss the mass moonwalk at Liverpool St (18.00 BST). Short of Glastonbury or Hyde Park, that must rank as one of the prime events in the UK to go and pay your respects to the King of Pop. C'mon.

RIP Michael Jackson.


Newsflash: New BBC Comedy Not Worst Thing Ever

Maybe I'm coming at this from the wrong angle, but I was faintly impressed with Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire (last night, BBC2). I think I imagined a grim cross between My Family, Maid Marian and pantomime desperately trying to be Blackadder, so the realisation that it was actually a moderately watchable comedy was a pleasant surprise.

Sean Maguire, who I'd previously only seen in Eastenders and Grange Hill proves to be a strong lead and excellent comic actor, in the vein of a less wacky Ben Stiller. India de Beaufort proved to be very very attractive and, despite some obvious jokes and fairly heavy handed innuendo, the script seemed to be in reasonable shape too. I know, me neither! But I saw it with my own eyes. Incredible.

So well done BBC for making a BBC1 prime time comedy series that is not absolutely appalling. And they say standards have dropped!

P.S. While Kröd Mändoon may not be achingly bad, it certainly isn't good. We're not talking Arrested Development here. Nor, in terms of entertainment value, are we talking The Apprentice. Just to be clear.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Anyone for tennis?

It was an exciting day for ball girls on Wimbledon's No. 1 Court yesterday - one clattered by a racing 6'3" Frenchman, and one knocking up with the 24th seed in front of 12,000 people.

While tearing across court to return a drop shot, Michael Llodra careered into the umpire’s chair and collided with Erin Lorencin, 15. Llodra hauled the embarrassed ballgirl to her feet, gave her a hug and brushed himself off, but shortly afterwards was forced to concede the match as he hobbled off for treatment.

His opponent, Tommy Haas, clearly felt he hadn't yet had his money's worth so decided to play on with ball girl Chloe Chambers, also 15. Haas's stand-in opponent, a pupil at a local school and a tennis devotee, acquitted herself so well that the German pro even began to receive cries of encouragement from spectators. Chambers displayed a solid array of racquet skills but finally blew it, it has to be said, with an overly ambitious lob. Something to work on for next year.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Elegant Wagging

Apparently, two months ago Carla Bruni met Princess Letizia of Spain and MET HER FASHION MATCH.

I missed all this at the time, but am now pleased to present below a photo snapped by some enterprising pap that is of their bottoms while they walk up some steps outside a building.

I am told that France's first lady is in cobalt blue Christian Dior and Princess Letizia is in plum by Spanish designer Felipe Varela. And while I am loathe to sink to a tabloid level and reduce these two sentient beings to mere Bum Objects (bobjects?), I think we can agree that while the left bum strikes a more flattering pose, the right bum wears a more flattering fabric. It's too close to call. All very good bums. (Grazia, eat your heart out.)

I was going to say it's a draw, but then in the evening Princess Letizia got to whack on a tiara - surely game over? Isn't that the elegance equivalent of turning up to a kickabout in the park with Ronaldo, Kaka and Messi in tow?

Of course, the real story behind these bobjects is that they're both Very Bad For Feminism, with each WAG only featuring in the news (despite one being a supermodel and the other a former newsreader) for the men they're attached to. But then again, what better way is there of becoming famous? Even now, I don't really know what Courtney Love does.

With Michelle Obama getting all the First Lady fashion headlines at the moment, I think it's only right that I do my bit for the EU and tempt the lens back over here. Because if you're talking about belles femmes, you're going to struggle to find any chous out there more petit than those from this side of the pond.

Voilà tout.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sparks Fly at Awards Show; Artist Safe

Popular drag act 'Lady GaGa' set himself on fire at the Much Music awards in Canada recently.

MTV reported that as part of a costume that unusually and inadvertently generated publicity, Lady GaGa "was sporting a conical gadget over his boobs loaded with pyrotechnics. The outlandish singer was singing his hit 'Poker Face' when his chest lit up like a firework."

Early reports are that Mr. GaGa is in perfect health following the incident and that his underwear on this occasion was in fact chosen for its candescence. However, the singer stated: "I am surprised to learn that my exploding bra may have detracted from the musical focus of my performance. Left to my own devices, I would gladly wear a sensible pair of trousers and a nice old jumper, but you know how these PR people are."

Indeed, the subtle and enigmatic artist normally has an impeccable sense of propriety, but through devilishly manipulative questioning has recently been tricked into revealing many personal secrets, such as his musings on love:

       Interviewer: What do you look for in a partner?
       Mr. GaGa: A big dick.
       Interviewer: And what else?
       Mr. GaGa: That's it.

Lady GaGa also recently explained that he was glad not to have been born in the 1970s, because he would probably have spent all his time consuming hallucinogenic drugs instead of focusing on his music (something for which the 21st century music scene is very thankful). As substance abuse has often been seen as the tortured corollary to artistic genius, cultural and literary authorities around the globe are in agreement that such a statement is clear proof of Mr. GaGa's genuine artistic credentials.

While those with lower capacities for artistic appreciation view the recent event at the Much Music awards as a non-incident best summed up by the phrase 'Dead-Eyed Man Has Sparkling Tits, Hopes For Sales', it has generated hundreds of articles from more musically educated news sources, rightfully driving other less important stories off the front page.

Long may it continue, for as the Daily Star respectfully noted following the Much Music awards, "Lord only knows how he’ll top those BANGERS at Glastonbury this weekend!"

The world holds its breath.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Time to Cull

A friend of mine recently declared that if the vast majority of her friends on Facebook called her up and asked her out for a drink,* she'd drop the phone screaming, leap in a taxi to the airport and change her name to Babylon Nunchucks.

Now, while I'm quite attached to 'Mr Christopher' and, in the event of flight, would steer towards a less 'blaxploitation' moniker anyway, I do know where she's coming from. Sick of status updates from someone I met once in a pub three years ago, wall-to-walls about what "gr8 banter" Thailand was and endless albums of 'Random Photos!!!', I can't help but think that streamlining my friends list might not be such a bad idea.

So it was with this notion in mind that I set out this afternoon firmly determined to cull my roster by at least a third. Cup of tea by my side, hands ominously poised over the keyboard, I twinkle my fingers and begin.

My eyes race down the register and swiftly I come to Borderline Buddy No. 1. A former classmate who despised me at school, and then a few years ago presumably thought "Hey, that Mr Christopher! Must get in touch with him and satisfy myself that he's HAVING A LOATHSOME TIME."

How the tables have turned, Borderline Buddy No. 1! Let's have a look at your profile picture. There you are, grinning away - no doubt recalling the chemistry lesson in which you 'accidentally' called me Pisstopher (very funny, WHOREDERLINE BLUBBY NO. 1). Wall crammed with posts from old classmates, photos of 'Random Nites Out!!!' in the same old pubs, job info stopping squarely at Tesco, 1999-present.

You seem nice enough, but why on earth are we friends, Borderline Buddy No. 1? We have nothing in common. I'll never need you for a favour. You offer me nothing. REMOVE FROM LIST.

Hold on a minute. What the hell is happening? For how long has my chief criterion for friendship how useful a person might be? When did this happen?! OH MY GOD, AM I W*NKER?!

Undelete, undelete, add as friend, add as friend.

And this thought process basically repeats itself all the way down the list. Too frightened of being a self-serving b*stard to remove anyone, I am left with a friends list that remains as flabby and diluted as ever, a dull sense of guilt over The Person That I've Become, and a cold cup of tea that I spilt on some paper about half an hour in.

And the realisation that I've just blogged about Facebook is enough to make me hurl my computer out of the window, leap in a taxi to the airport and befriend a rabble of beach-living technophobes with no networking potential. Because I am NOT THAT GUY. Fellas, meet Huggy Funkenstein.

* Individually I mean, not en masse. That would set anyone's alarm bells ringing.

Friday, June 12, 2009

"Maybe a movie?"

Having just watched all three series from beginning to end again, I have become inordinately excited at the thought of the much-rumoured Arrested Development movie.

Jason Bateman started the rumours of a film back in 2008. One by one, characters signed up, until a few months ago when Michael Cera, perhaps the actor with the most successful post-AD career and reportedly the final holdout, declared himself on board.

And last month, Will Arnett revealed that "there’s no script right now, but it’s something that Mitch [Hurwitz] is actively working and getting ready for, and we’re hoping to start shooting by the end of the year." (Hopefully he means shooting with his Segway in tow. God they're great...)

Sadly I suspect that this rumoured shoot in New York is bollocks, as Ron Howard told MTV recently that Hurwitz's other television projects have been "very successful — good for Mitch — and slowed things up a little bit for Arrested Development fans."

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in two. But people, I have never been more hopeful than I am right now that we will get there.

Save Our Bluths.

Blues News

I am going to be ALL OVER this when I get back to Londres! Charlotte St Blues bar opens tonight and plays live music seven nights a week, and although big names will attract the usual premium cover charge, most nights will be FREE. Move over Ronnie Scotts...

Occupying a beautifully renovated three storey Georgian house in the affluent heart of Fitzrovia, the bar lines up a promising mix of blues, jazz and swing. It's hip, it's new, it's central and it's just that little bit different to your usual musical fare. So check the line up, grab your trilby and jive the night away. Ba dow-dow dah-dum.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Return to sender

This piece of return mail was received recently by New Humanist, a rationalist magazine with a roster of controversial contributors including famous ranty atheist Richard Dawkins.

ZING! Very funny Mr. Former Subscriber! Ten sass points, and an 'A' for effort.

And if the note that the japester scrawled is true, then I bet it was a very proud moment for him, a very rewarding one for Him, and a very bad one for HIM.


Smoothing the way for Mr Christopher's impending repatriation to London at the end of the summer, London is apeing Amsterdam this weekend with an all-day canal party.

Though the location looks slightly less attractive than my current stomping ground, there's decent house, disco and a splash of reggae, along with drinks, a dancefloor and a BBQ.

How bad can it be. Get thee to 'Park Royal'. (No, me neither)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Semantic antics

We are on the cusp of a lexical landmark.

The millionth word in the English language is on the verge of being coined, according to the BBC. Once a word has been used 25,000 times on social networking sites it can be declared a new word, and lexicon on the street is that the millionth word will be recognised at 1022 GMT today.

That gives me about an hour and twenty minutes to get "Oohhaveyoureadedwinsraisinyet" out there. I'm hoping the ensuing press hoopla, brouhaha and ballyhoo will take me from 5 followers to 5,000 by the end of the day, earn me vast sums of money (this part to be worked out) and assure my ascension to the throne of a small nation.

So. Here we go. A journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step! "Oohhaveyoureadedwinsraisinyet."

Watch this space.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

"Yer Hiyud!"

So that's it. No more grizzling, growling and scowling from Suralan, no more eye-rolling and eyebrow-raising from Margaret, and no more irritatingly pensive frowns from Nick (there IS a God). Series five of The Apprentice is over.

Far more surprising than actual result (more on that in a moment) was the revelation that Margaret Mountford is sadly hanging up her stern gaze, twinkley eyes and imperious smirk in order to fully focus on her PhD in papyrology at UCL. Of even more concern is the rumour that BBC rules on conflict of interest may preclude Suralan from both fronting The Apprentice and advising the government, with his recent appointment as Big Business Papa (or something) talking precedence over the opportunity to groom a third finalist in the Michelle Dewberry / Kate Walsh mould (say what you like about him, he certainly has a type).

But what of the result? It was all a bit much of a muchness in the end: both contestants impeccably competent in their performance of the final task and both fully accepting of the hype that Suralan is the fiercest, most successful businessman the world has ever known. Other than that, Kate seems the more polished professional but Yasmina has that entrepreneurial streak, aligning her with the "oi saahld TVs ahhht the back of moi vaaahn" mentality of Lord Grumpypants (title tbc). Yasmina also delivered the most memorable line of the show, in response to the resurgent Philip's assurance that "people didn't think that Pants Man was a good idea, but they will..." - "That's a shit example, Phil." Ten points to her.

And on that basis alone, I think, she won. Kate will doubtlessly go on to have a moderately successful television career as a Pretty Perky Grinner, while Yasmina, after hearing the immortal words "Yer Hiyud", relishes a future basking in the glamour of Surallun's digital signage department, flogging display boards to doctors' surgeries. Personally, I'd forgo either of those careers for the chance to register as a library assistant at UCL and watch Margaret stalking down the corridors with a bunch of Egyptian scrolls, an icy stare and a contract to front The Apprentice 2010.

Mr Christopher and the Robot

Once in a while you hear a song that grabs you, turns you into a wide-eyed, teeth-grinding obsessive and only lets go once you've demanded to have it played every time you enter a room for the rest of your life. Ladies and gentlemen, thanks to the above, I was that soldier.

The Girl and the Robot is a soaring, theatrical powerhouse from Norwegian electronica duo Röyksopp. Released next week, it's the searing second single from Röyksopp's third album Junior, and has shot to the top of my iPod's playcounts since I first got hold of it in March.

Now despite slyly alluding to being way ahead of the curve with that single, I confess that I've only just heard its predecessor, lead single and album-opener Happy Up Here (released in January). While not quite as determinedly demented as The Girl and the Robot, it too is pumping, winding and absolutely blinding (and has a much better video).

Reviews of the new album are strong, the singles are outstanding and, after second-album syndrome arguably took its toll on The Understanding (follow up to 2001's universally acclaimed debut Melody A.M.), it looks like this could be a return to form for Röyksopp.

ENOUGH. Take me to HMV.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Thank God. Finally, it's here.

You know what I'm talking about. Yeah you do! No, not the long-overdue resignation of the woman with the most annoying face on the planet, former Communities Secretary Hazel Blears. Nor the admission that Sacha Baron Cohen's stunt with Eminem at the MTV Movie Awards was staged.

It is, of course, That Episode of The Apprentice Where They Do The Interviews! I literally cannot wait. Five fledgeling media careers held up to the light in a serious of gruelling interviews by four big-name businessmen. Only they're big-name businessmen who look like they've come to read your gas meter, talk like pantomime baddies and are happy to be complicit in the "Suralan is the best - in fact, perhaps the ONLY - businessman in the world" schtick which is, of course, utter tosh.

And for whichever editor it is that does an excellent job stitching up the boardroom scenes each week, where every pointed put-down from Suralan is met by an open mouth, petrified eyes and, unfailingly, utter silence, it is his f*cking birthday.

There'll be stumblings, strops and serious errors in judgement. It's going to be great. I only wish that this little chap was still with us. Imagine the stories he could tell us about Sandhurst (he kept it quiet, but apparently he was once offered a scholarship there?)...

Girls in the Windows

I've just come across the amazing shot below, set up by Ormond Gigli in a condemned brownstone on East 58th Street in 1960.

Gigli rushed to install these beautifully-dressed women, who include celebrities, the demolition supervisior's wife (third floor, third from left) and the photographer's own wife (second floor, far right) the day before the crumbling building was to be brought down!

The result is beautifully stylised and formal (and right up Emma Louise Layla's street). The full back story is here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

From Russia with Bewilderment

Some truly bizarre goings-on in Russia lately, as profiled on Englishrussia.com.

The below shots are taken from a small but perfectly strange local online community that stages photographs of extreme situations in the name of fun. Below is an example from 'A Cheating Wife', in which players were instructed to "make a photo of a man (a lover) hanging outside the real window. The window should be not lower than the third storey of a multi-stored building. A husband should lean out from another window with a gun, aiming at the lover. From yet another window the cheating wife should look out in despair."

I also like 'The Waiter': " A man dressed like a waiter should crawl out of a refuse chute, right from the disposal opening. He should hold a tray with some servings and a towel in the other hand."

Utterly bizarre. More photos of the above - and situations such as 'The Pickles': "Make a photo of many jars of pickles. Some of them should have pickled cell-phones. Not less than five cell phones in each jar please” - to be found here.

There's also a very interesting article on the Robocop of Perm as well (right). Apparently this little fella cruises the streets of Russian city Perm with police signs on it, speaking to passers-by in a robot-type voice and taking pictures of anything that takes its fancy.

Only in America! (Russia).

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