Friday, December 30, 2005

Don't confuse Broken Arrows with Broken Flowers.
Tiffany Shlain defines herself as a "Bad Jew": check out her new short The Tribe (hoping it gets to London/UK some time soon...)

Thursday, December 29, 2005


Originally uploaded by sashinka-uk.
I finally got to see Ghettoplotz - they played a gig at Limmud on Tuesday night, and even though we'd just arrived, ended up dancing till like 2am (hence driving round Hither Green at 3am, because we were very lost trying to find our hotel).

They were very fab; and I feel very excited about all the cool Jewish stuff happening in the UK (finally).


Originally uploaded by sashinka-uk.
Downtown Nottingham, 3am Tuesday night.
My review of the year is up at Feeling Listless.

But here it is in all it's glory:

2005 was the year that I really discovered photography (among other things - I don't want you to think I'm one dimensional).

I often think of myself as a visual person: I dress in that textured creative way that implies I know the canon of visual imagery. I was Trinny-and-Susanna-ing my friends (without the nastiness, obviously) well before anyone knew from personal shoppers or TV shows. And I go to art galleries, and often notice small interesting details in the universe - visually - and imagine myself framing photos and referring to them later as I build up my records of how the world looks to me.

I am susceptible to my environment. I notice when people's furniture is the wrong size for the room, or their pictures are hung in a way that doesn't work for the space. A very long time ago (when I wasn't quite so good at knowing when to keep my mouth shut) I enabled the speedy and rather tragic ending of lovely relationship with a creative opera-lover-type who lived in Highgate because I rather forcefully insisted that he rehang the pictures in his living room. He subsequently turned out to be gay, and I learned the value of keeping shtum.

Last November, I did the usual phone-upgrade thing with Orange, and I got a Nokia 6710. I didn't want a camera, it just came with it, and for six months, I was annoyed that it was a phone that primarily perceived itself as a camera, and you had to press more buttons to make a call than take a pic.

Two summers ago, I angsted for ages about which digital camera to buy - balancing technical requirements with value for money - because the moment you make the purchase decision on any piece of technology and press the "confirm order" button, that very minute something bigger/better/smaller/cheaper comes on the market and you are already working with tired materials.

The camera gods, however, were having none of it: my new digital camera was nicked by a taxi driver in New York less than a month after I bought it, and before I'd even had a chance to download the photos.

Sometimes, you think someone up there has a message for you.

But in the meantime, I'd got into my phonecam. Camphone. Who knows what you call all the new stuff that keeps arriving.

What I like is the spontaneity. The throwaway-ness. I'm not taking a day of work and saying "today is the day I take pictures." My camera's always in my handbag, because my phone is, and the impermanence of the snaps that I take is what does it for me. The artlessness, and the limitations of the form - closeups are better than vistas, real closeups just get fuzzy - mean that I have to work within restrictions that, bizarrely - seem to engender my creativity, rather than hamper it.

After I'd worked out the geek-stuff of getting my photos off my phone and onto my PC, I got excited. I felt like I'd found a new way to express myself. There's something both calming and life-affirming about recording the world as you see it.

This all came to a head in November, traditionally phone-upgrade month. Usually, I'm hungry for the latest whatever, craving newness above all else, but now I feel my Nokia 6710 is my trusty friend: I couldn't give it up for anything. Also, it looks slightly art deco in a fakely retro way, which makes me feel very Algonquin, which is never a bad thing.

And I never bought another real digital camera - I've thought about it, and delicioused all the research, but there's no hurry. Sure, I'd like to explore new ways of doing clever things with photos, but there's still so much for to discover with what I've got, that there's no real hurry.

No real hurry. That's a new concept for me.

So for a few months, I've had a flickr. Now I've got more than five hundred photos, and sure, lots of them are holiday snaps, but some are really good photos that I really like. And also, sometimes I think my blog looks a bit dull, all text, so I can break it up with pictures.

After all, a picture's worth a thousand words.

Check out my flickr at:


Originally uploaded by sashinka-uk.
Just this minute got back from Limmud - 24 hour flying visit, to be recommended - and of course there's a Chabad menorah there. Happy fourth day (for tomorrow).

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Originally uploaded by sashinka-uk.
This morning, 10am, I'm waiting at (my) the bus stop, and it's snowing, in a rather artistic way, and then I see a woman from the next door house come out. She's in pajamas and flipflops, jacket informally slung on, with a video camera. Because, clearly, wherever she comes from (south east asia, I'm guessing) they don't have snow.

Monday, December 26, 2005


Originally uploaded by sashinka-uk.
Happy Boxing Day, Happy Chanukah (day two) - forget Festivus and Winterval, we're all anything-goes nowadays. We're just an open-source, mulitcultural mishmash, dontyaknow.

This is a beautiful menorah that my sister bought me in Israel for my thirtieth and I absolutely love using. Also, it doesn't shed pine needles.
Did you hear Start The Week this morning? (you might have to go and listen quickly, because they change it quickly, you can only ever hear the last one) - it's in the first five minutes, btw, so you don't ahve to listen to the whole thing, if you don't want to.

Excellent panel of Professor Jonathan Bate, Professor Mary Kaldor, Chris Patten, Professor Nancy Rothwell and Will Self, and Will gives a mind-blowingly creative riff - must be all the drugs - on what we should call the "naughties/noughties" - he concludes it should be the Nitties, as as we all know, headlice are rife in UK schools. I woke up laughing.

Friday, December 23, 2005

It's Christmas Eve-Eve, and all around me are shopping and stressing, and I feel strangely: calm.

Most of my clients have said "poor you, you don't do christmas", sort of implying I don't have any friends at all.

But really, what I know now is that christmas is a yomtov, and if you're not jewish, it's the only yomtov, because hardly anyone keeps easter, as far as I can tell (apart from the church across the road from the gym). So while I don't totally agree with the mass consumerizm, I like the idea of people spending time with family and friends, eating too much, arguing too much and generally having a fun time.

I don't feel left out. I have a vast amount of times and things to celebrate during the year (and chanukah starts sunday night), so I'm not short of a party or a reason to be cheerful. I'm kinda looking forward to a relax weekend; hanging out, going to shul, lots of writing, seeing friends, some walking maybe. I'm off to Limmud for one day (on a mini-break with B: it's so Bridget Jones), and I'm resisting the temptation to make new year's resolutions because I already did it back in October (rosh hashanah) and I've not done so well on those yet.

So season's greetings, whatever the season. And I'm still here, for a while.
Turns out London won the olympic bid by mistake.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

This make-a-video-and-post-it-to-the-internet-shtick is getting silly. Check out The Chronic of Narnia Rap.
I don't usually notice news about China, but I know there's a strange chinese custom of spelling chinese cities in a radically different way (dialects, or something?), so I don't know if Shaoguan is the same as Hangzhou. Might be, and Mike's there. But he would have said, if there was like no water.
More video-goodness from you (this time from YouTube). This one's in Yiddish, and sadly my yiddish isn't good enough to get the whole thing. Apparently there's a chanuka theme. ALthough it evades me.

If you didn't know better, judging by what's posted online, all jewish people can single in tune and dance extremely well. Yeah, right.

In other news, my interpid north London reporter J tells me the Chevra (remember them?) had to eject one their members because he took of his t-shirt in a gig in somewhere like Watford and it wasn't snius (modest).

I just watched it again. My yiddish is limited to punchlines to family jokes, 76 different words for an argument and short phrases. Learn, I must (sound like ET, realise I).

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

It's December 21st - where do you think I've been?

I've been to my first civil partnership ceremony (apparently, there were seven in Barnet today). Given that my friends had a Jewish commitment ceremony earlier in the year (and I've told them I've got their wedding on a repeat appointment in outlook every six months), it was slightly more low key, but fun, nevertheless.

They both wore their wedding dresses (improves the cost-per-wear maths), and interestingly, although the ceremony is not religious, and their registrar told them in the preparations that they couldn't have any bible readings, she did let them read from the book of Ruth. Go figure. Probably, the registrar didn't go to Sunday school.

A ceroc lesson, a great buffet where we all brought our best dish (it was better than any caterer, I tell you) and more dancing than I've done in a while. I even did the twist.

True party.
Of course, I don't really believe in commercialism, but this is a great sale list, courtesy of Urban Junkies.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Japanese smileys - apparently, they call them facemarks.
Technical update (for those who care):
  • I sorted out my printing-out-the-book issue: my expert technical advisor worked out that for some reason it was set to markup (which you can turn off in options in word) - problem solved
  • I still need to merge all my email to one provider; currently slightly divide and rule with my colo and read-deal people
  • Desktop in urgent need of surgery in the new year
  • Recent technical hitches mean my iPod will no longer synchronise

    Er, interesting, isn't it.
  • Monday, December 19, 2005

    So my (desktop) computer may or may not be on its last (harddisk) legs, and Evesham have no technical support people "available" and have given me varying responses for call backs ranging from an hour to a day.

    Meanwhile, I'm going to Manchester for the day (Cheadle Riviera, you know), and have stuff to do.

    They will call me back when I'm on the tube to Euston, and then...

    I have bought my nephews/neice Chanukah gelt (chocolate money) and cool paper aeroplanes.
    Sometimes, I say the word fabulous too much.

    So shoot me.
    Never one to be overly effervescent, I have to tell you that I have just had the most fabulous Jewish-style evening.

    The second outing for the JCC (Jewish Community Centre) for London's JCC Players, at the LJCC (London Jewish Cultural Centre) had me rolling in the aisles.

    Aside: there is a whole separate machlokes (discussion) about acronyms. Tonight was the first "joint venture" between the LJCC and the JCCL, and B asked me what the difference is and I said I think the LJCC is for edgy people with pierced belly buttons, and the JCCL is for gold-slippered people with mittel-European accents wanting to discuss Yiddish cinema of the interwar years. Or maybe it's the other way around. Suffice to say that, apart for machers in the know, there was confusion all round.

    Anyway, tonight was a fabulous celebration of all that's Jewish and Anglo: Dave Schneider hosting (and rounding off with a side-splitting Yiddish-esque rendition of Noo Yawk Noo Yawk), professional-standard improv from Josh Cohen, Mandy Dassa, Saul Jaffe, Jon Cohen, Mark Fleishman, Zeddy Lawrence (and Michelle, whose surname I don't know), and with musical interludes from Laoise Davidson (klezmer) and Kate Short (cello).

    Sometimes I feel that Anglo-Jewish culture is derivative: we like Woody Allen and chicken soup, and think that New York is yiddish for Jewish. There's only (less than) 300,000 Jews, so sure, we don't have the vibrant set up of US-Jewry, with incubators for cool Jewish projects (JDub, Storatelling), but maybe there aren't enough of us for that. But we do have a uniquely Jewish take that's European and slightly middle-of-the-road walking; we're in and we're out, we have a bothness that's other than the brashness of (some) American Jewry (I am currently struggling with capitalisation).

    But tonight I felt like we were truly Anglo: some of us were young and funky, some of us had bullet-proof hair. We weren't in a cool downtown bar, we were in a slightly draughty school hall on the Golders Green side of Hampstead. But the performances were generous and talented; the humour was understated yet hysterical; the vibe was warm and the audience were loving it.

    I've heard tell that there may be dates for next year: be there. This'll be one of those things you'll want to tell your buddies you saw first before it got really huge.

    Saturday, December 17, 2005

    I have lots of people coming for (shabbos) lunch. This is the menu:

  • humous with pine nuts and za'atar (some would say Jerusalem humous)
  • pickles
  • vegetarian cholent (a stew cooked since 2pm yesterday, as you can't cook on shabbat. Nicer than it sounds, really)
  • sweet roasted red peppers with sultanas (kinda Romanian, but modern)
  • cucumber and tomato salad with argan oil (in the Moroccan style)
  • quinoa salad with mandarins, cashew nuts, dill and dried sour cherries
  • rocket salad with avodado and pomegranate (to continue middle eastern theme)
  • Momo's dried fruit salad
  • My friend R's Romanian grandma's baked cheesecake with sultanas (which I had last weekend and is truly delicious, as well as being Romanian, which I am, about 25%)

    Fancy lunch?
  • high moon

    high moon
    Originally uploaded by sashinka-uk.
    On Thursday night (on the way to HIGNFY), the moon was, apparently, higher than it ever is. I've googled "high moon" but can't find anything about it.

    But here's pictorial evidence.

    Friday, December 16, 2005

    Saw Have I Got News For You being recorded last night (who knew there was a wikipedia entry?). Last of the series, slightly christmassy (they served us hot toddy while we waited in the cold, which was thoughtful).

    We ended up sitting right near the stage, so we could see the autocue, and we could see the words JOAN. And we were thinking; Joan Rivers? Joan Bakewell? Joan Armatrading?

    Turned out, the host was Joan Collins, and frankly, she's quite dense, can't read that accurately, and doesn't appear to have a sense of humour. Although she can call everyone daaahling and be luvvy-ish, which is what I suspect her career is based on. It took forever to record because she was really school-marmy about the whole thing, and dragged it out. Paul Merton looked like he wanted to leave, frankly.

    Anyway, I'm sure it'll be good on TV, as there's bound to be 30 minutes of OK stuff. Other guests were Michael Winner (he's kinda like an embarassing Jewish relative who made a lot of money in dodgy property deals and is a little too flash) and some bloke who's got a deep voice. Was he the voice of Darth Vader? ANyway, Joan took a liking to him, and it all got quite sycophantic.

    North London Headline Crisis

    North London Headline Crisis
    Originally uploaded by sashinka-uk.
    It's kinda silly season in NW3/6. Actually, I can't even remember what this was about. Shiver me timbers an' all that.

    Wednesday, December 14, 2005

    I am still shocked that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad states that the holocaust is a "myth". There's nothing new I can add to any debate on the subject, I just wanted to post it as a matter of record. You don't know the half of what's going on in the back channel to my brain.
    If you haven't made plans for tomorrow night, you need to be at Ghettoplotz in Camden. I haven't made a live gig, yet, but I have been totally getting down to their music in my soho (small office home office).

    Originally uploaded by sashinka-uk.
    I saw this purple velvet hot water bottle in Fenwicks (I think). It called to me, as the shopping gurus say, with it's texture and purpleness and matching lavender wheat bag. But then buying yourself Chanukah presents (especially when it should be gelt, rather than presents) seems a little... well, let's just say I already have a hot water bottle, and I've not used it for about four years. But then, I heard it's going to be a cold winter. But then, I have a coat.

    Consumerism: gets us all, in the end.
    Am I the only person to notice that everything at worked fine till they were bought by Yahoo, and now they're broken?
    About four years ago, I went on holiday to Morocco, and came back - as every foodie should - with some Argan oil. It was Moroccan week at Liberty's, and they were heaving with all manner of low-stooled sparkly ephemera, and had taken a special delivery of argan oil.

    Now it turns out, you can buy it online.

    Tuesday, December 13, 2005

    Jewish stuff: I have just discovered (on Sunday) GUILT AND PLEASURE. I think it's like Heeb, but with longer sentences and slightly less hip. Kinda like me, then.
    I have to tell you that, Sunday morning, I woke up to what sounded/felt like an earthquake: bigger than an articualted lorry passing, and way, way louder. Bear in mind that I live at approximately junction 1 of the M1, and Buncefield is around junction 6. It's mayne twenty or thirty miles.

    Anyway, I woke with a start, and had a series of random thoughts: is this the end of the world? where is my survival kit? we should have done terrorism insurance with the house insurance. Those kind of things. I looked at the clock and it was 6.05. I waited a few moments, figured it wasn't the end of the world and went back to sleep.

    Cricklewood Illuminations

    Originally uploaded by sashinka-uk.
    I remember going to see the Blackpool Illuminations as a kid, but the Cricklewood Illuminations have nothing on them. Brings a whole new meaning to housebling.

    I'm thinking of running a tour - come over to my house, have coffee, wrap up warm, and then we can pound the streets of Criklewood and associated environs, checking out the latest in poor style and wastage of the earth's precious resources. Not that I have a view, you understand.

    Actually, I've realised I kinda like xmas. Just not bling.

    Thursday, December 08, 2005

    So I want to print out my novel, but it's long, so I played with the formating, but then it went weird, with huge margins I hadn't asked for. I did the usual C+P to new document trick, but to no avail.

    As it happens, I have a buddy who's a Micro$ft certified wotsit (among other things), so I emailed him, and we talked about VNC and SkyFex and then he invited me to a Microsoft Office Live Meeting (all this via email, of course).

    So I went to the LiveMeeting, and showed him my stuff and then... the phone rang. He was - as they say in the support world - resorting to voice.

    I have emailed him the document in the old-fashioned way, and he's taking a look. He promised not to read it - not because I had to extract a promise, but because he's not interested.

    The wonder of modernity.
    iPod shuffle, not as cheap as I thought (shocker). They have, rather unreasonably, marketed it without showing the +VAT prices , which they do on their regular site. So now it's £83, which is the same as it is everywhere else.

    I probably don't need one, right?

    Wednesday, December 07, 2005

    So, the US has it's own shooting an innocent person by mistake. Every western nation should have one, right?

    Man, do we live in the age of fear-policing.
    Funny, how stuff happens.

    I read something earlier in the week on Reboot about how people in Toronto, LA and New York are starting their own salons.

    Last night, went out with R, and she was telling me about her grandparents salons. And I was thinking, what could be more cool than inviting a bunch of interesting, creative people round to your house for a glass of wine, every so often?

    Then, today, I read a piece in Tikkun about Jewish salonières, and an exhibition I missed earlier in th e year.

    So. This could all be a coincidence. Or it could be that my inner Lois Wiseberg is calling to me. Or it could be a message from the universe, were I to believe in that kind of thing.

    What do you think?
    Is this extravagant?

    I have a wonderful iPod mini (pink, of course) which is probably the best present I've ever received, and it accompanies me on most trips.

    But I've just got back into going to the gym after nearly two years - ankle injury, don't ask - and I really want an iShuffle.
    Is it extravagant? The cheapest I can find for the 1GB in the US is $110, which is about £65, but my bank is - bizarrely - offering them for £75 delivered.

    I really don't believe in having too many belongings, and spend quite a lot of time eBaying my extraneous stuff. Less is truly more. But I have wanted one for some time. And I had a kinda... low key birthday. But then I just turned away a huge piece of work so have less money than I would ideally like. But I want one. Waddya reckon?
    It's like buses: I haven't been to a supper quiz in as long as I can remember, then two in the space of a month.

    S dragged me to a supper quiz in Hackney Town Hall on Sunday night, on the basis it was full of creative writer-types and I would have a fun time.

    I think she mis-sold it (although she's a very good salesperson): it was filled with the same people as the last one, and generic (Jewish) supper quiz food - paper plates, poached salmon, potoato salad and pastries.

    Our host was Alan Coren (he was wearing a lot of black, which made me wonder whether he had "body issues"), but the highpoint of the evening was his comment in response to an accusation of cheating (some lawyers had their Crackberries and mobiles out) - "I know you all want to check Wikpedia."

    Part of me was impressed he knew about Wikis at all, although he is a media-babe of sorts, part of me was unimpressed he couldn't say it right.

    Related: Wikipedia to become, well, less open source. Now, you have to register to write an article. Soon, there'll be job interviews and salaries and everything.

    Tuesday, December 06, 2005

    I've had to be on hold at Virgin Flying Club for quite a long time over the last two weeks (although I have been able to go out, between calls), as I'm going to NY on my airmiles in January.

    But their hold music does not rotate. Every time I've called I've listened to Tainted Love. Now, I like northern soul, Soft Cell and Marc Almond as much as the next person, but it's getting silly.
    I observed something really... odd yesterday.

    On my way to my writing class, I decided to spend an hour in one of my preferred NW3 Costbuxim. Got some stuff written (will speak later why it is easier to write at not-home).

    So, there's a guy sitting in the Comfy Chairs by the window. To my untrained mind, he's a geek: slightly unshaven, unkempt hair, his Lowe Alpine bag has probably never seen a mountain, and his O'Neill t-shirt is too tight (later, when he gets up to go to the bathroom, I see that the t-shirt is way too short: I can see his belly hanging over his jeans). He's that unclear age: somewhere between 25 and 35, but he's clearly spent a lot of time behind a screen. He looks slightly uncomfortable in his own body. He's playing with some geekery I can't quite see: PSP/mobile/PDA/who knows?

    A guy comes in: similarly geek, with a slightly Hispanic/south American vibe (dark hair, long, slight Cuban-gangster facial hair thang). They greet each other in an awkward way, and the the Cuban guy sits down. They don't get coffee. They sound like two work colleagues meeting for a quick drink.

    Then, the Cuban-style guy gets out a little furry toy: I couldn't see clearly, but it looked like a white rabbit, smaller than the size of your hand. The pure joy washed over the face of the Big Geek guy like a speeded up sunrise.

    Cuban guy hands it over, but not in a gift way, in a game way. He walks it over the bag sitting on his lap, like Big Geek is four and he's got a surprise for him. Big Geek suddenly looks like a four year old trapped in the body of an adult man. He's smiling. (I should say that the way he was reading the paper and waiting, he really didn't look like someone with mental health problems. He looked like a regular guy who liked his tech kit.). The rabbit reaches Big Geek, and he takes it, and starts directing a game of hide-and-seek behind his bag, and making "awww" faces. He looked like a very overgrown baby playing with a new toy, but dressed like a Unix coder.

    So, I dunno. I've heard about furries - people who get off on dressing up as furry animals - but I always (perhaps naively) thought it was not about small furry things.

    The whole interchange was brief, but, well, odd. Then I had to leave.

    But then, what do I know?
    I made a really big mistake.

    Big. Really.

    I bought something from Viking Direct, because it was cheap, and included free delivery. I think it was some paper reams, and possibly thermal binding binders. I'm a sucker for a free gift, and they gave me a free CD player which I don't know what to do with. In fact, I didn't need it. Clearly lots of people feel the same, because there's loads of them on eBay.

    But now, I am caught in this terrible, passive-agressive, controlling relationship with them, which is entirely one-sided. The send me more direct mail than I could paper a room with. One week, half of my recycling box was stuff from them. They send me their catalogue every week. Really. Every week. And they print my name on the front, which I think in direct mail tests means I'm supposed to by 0.35% more from them.

    They email me daily, and it's personalised. Dear Ms Frooz. They want me to buy more. They have exclusive offers for me. I don't need more. How can the offer be exclusive if you send it daily? They overuse the words "selected" "unique" and "special" so much that I feel I have been through a direct mail copy generator. They underline important words.

    They give me a headache.

    I have just called them, and it apparently takes eight weeks to make it all go away.

    Start counting...

    Monday, December 05, 2005

    I can't help thinking that John Plunkett has been more than charitable in his Ricky Gervais podcast.

    But then, he would say that wouldn't he? Because the Guardian's breaking new ground with the format, man, and they're revewing it. It's something of a self-fulfilling prophecy, or at the very least, pop will eat itself.

    Ricky: sorry mate, but it's just not that good.
    Wanna do something Jewish? And cultural? And kinda funky? GhettoPlotz (Klezmer-house dancefloor mashup), Wednesday at SOAS.

    Get yer dancing shoes on.

    Richard Of York Graded Books In Vain

    I didn't take this photo - but it totally reminds me of having to sort my Caran D'ache pencil crayons in colour order as a child. Older, even. Although I no longer have any Caran D'ache crayons.

    Sometimes, there's something very satisfying about putting the world in order.

    As if it was that easy.

    But I do like colours.
    It's day one of the Ricky Gervais show on Guardian Unlimited. It's a podcast.

    So I'm listening to it now. And, OK, it's Ricky Gervais, but it's three blokes in a pub (aka studio) talking bollocks. Except it's 10am, and I'm not drunk, and they're probably not, and it's not: funny.

    Not that it should be funny. It should be: interesting.

    And I do like Ricky. Honest. Once I saw him in a pub.

    Hey, I'm practically a celebrity.

    Sunday, December 04, 2005

    Oh. I meant to buy the Mail on Sunday (not that I ever would, usually) because I really wanted the Blondie compilation CD.

    Oh well. I guess I can pretend I have it.

    Friday, December 02, 2005

    Arrgh. If you sent me email, I might not reply for an unspecified amount of time, as my colo appears unwell (again) and I am kicking myself that I am half moved over to the new place, but not half-enough. Enough by half?

    Oh dear. Least it's Friday.
    While I don't necessarily think this is a bad thing (given the current credit/debit crunch) - Big Brother really is watchin you. Credit cards companies are to restrict lending and share, like, everything about you.

    In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen retail financial services companies.
    This hasn't happened to me... forever, that I can remember.

    I can't sleep. I'm up late, and then can't get to sleep, and then mess around, and then eventually get to sleep, and then I'm tired the next day. Like this morning I was yawning all through a meeting.

    Once, I went on holiday with a friend who couldn't sleep and I really understood how debilitating it is on an ongoing basis.

    It's like that song: you don't know what you've got till it's gone. Like, when I slipped my disc a few years ago, I didn't appreciate my independence and mobility till I was stuck at home, begging friends for stuff.
    Everything Is Truly Illuminated

    Once, I met this South American woman (who used to go out with an acquaintance of mine), by running into her with a mutual friend at the London Open House weekend.

    She invited me to a dinner party, and it was very "international" (I was the local yokel). Everyone was over-educated and spoke at least three languages, and English with an exotic accent. Let it not be forgotten that, in the right light, I have a slight northern lilt.

    One of the guys there was quite intellectually arrogant, and anytime someone mentioned a book or a writer, he demanded to know what you'd read. It was most uncomfortable.

    All a long preamble to saying that I never finished Jonathan Safran Foer's much-lauded Everything Is Illuminated, even though it's both Jewish and about the holocaust, so should really float my boat, but the magical realism got to me.

    I have just this minute got home from what I think might be the most incredible piece of theatre I've ever seen: the book has been adapted into a 100(ish) minute play at the Etcetera Theatre in Camden, and it's clever and smart and funny and moving. Although the seats were quite uncomfortable.

    I was itching to go back and finish the book, but R reliably informs me that they've taken the true spirit of the book and turned it into a (my words) truly spiritual piece of work. It's better than the book.

    The audience was raving, they were back on stage three times. Names to watch - Mark Fleischmann (Alex), Joseph Wicks (Jonathan) and Dulcie Lewis (Brod/Lista).

    They've put it together really quickly, and it finishes on Saturday, and it's only a small theatre. Cancel whatever you're doing before then to get a ticket. You won't regret it.

    Etcetera Theatre (above the Oxford Arms in Camden).

    Thursday, December 01, 2005

    In a coffee shop (you can guess which).

    A woman, thirties, no makeup, semi-professional looking, maybe media company, or a startup VC firm. Expensive handbag. She's got her Blackberry in a special case so she can finger-tap while it's lovingly protected, and she does, sipping her coffee, ocassionally.

    Over-communication: the twentieth century plague.

    Sometimes, I think it would be lovely to turn all my kit off and sit outside of the wifi zone and just think and listen and be.

    Guy comes in: thirties, pale. He's male to her female, matching-professional-appropriate dress sense. They smile. Intimate: they've had sex. They smile in that way people in comfortable relationships who may have forgotten how to speak to each other smile. Slightly empty. A take-you-for-granted smile.

    No words.

    Smiling through each other. A smile that says one day I'll get round to telling you what I think and feel. Keep one eye on the clock, the other on your blackberry and your third eye? That's for working out the truth.

    He sits down. Gets out his PDA. Starts doing email.

    Ten minutes. No words.

    They're both sitting there, tap-tap-tapping away with the elephant in the room. They may communicate (out) but they sure don't talk.
    Through the round window: today I'm thinking about... Outsider Art: Josh Slavin, AKA Bruce Hastings on Flickr (what an intro).
    The Gulf Stream is unwell: better get your (warm) coat, then.
    Tech question: it's been a while. Does anyone know, once I've copied a CD in audiograbber, how do I make iTunes recognise it?