Wednesday, 28 February 2007

"So May I Introduce To You" - Dialated Peoples, 2000

May I take a moment to introduce you to my new brand-spanking-new music blog, called "Auditory Cortex".

The blog is only at the formative stage as of now. For example, I haven't even assembled the links that I eventually want to have available to "Auditory Cortex" readers. But I'm very excited about it. My two favorite subjects to write about are life observations and music. And rather than sprinkle "Lord Celery" with musical musings, I thought it would be fun to do it in a separate place.

One of the goals of the new blog is aimed at my collection of regular readers on both sides of the Atlantic. I hope to introduce my UK friends to North American artists; and hopefully I can broaden the horizons of my US, Canadian, and Mexican readers by exposing them to some of the British artists I'm adding to my list of personal favorites.

Happy reading!


Tuesday, 27 February 2007

"Give A Little Bit" - Supertramp, 1977

It seems that each time I'm getting a step closer to more secure residency in the UK -- and perhaps even eventual dual US/UK citzenship -- somebody comes up with another hurdle.

As I may have written about earlier, last year the requirement for residency time in the UK before applying for "Indefinite Leave to Remain" increased from 4 years to 5...about 8 months before I hit my own 4-year anniversary here. So now I wait for December of this year to be able to apply.

Now Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown (and pretender to the throne once Blair resigns as Prime Minister some time this year), in what appears to be an effort to make sure he's not forgotten by the press, has come up with a suggestion for yet another requirement for "migrants" before they can obtain UK citizenship. He thinks we should have to do some sort of community service first. This isn't a done-deal yet...only a suggestion from Gordon.

Maybe I'm just being a little grumpy this afternoon, but this idea doesn't exactly thrill me. I guess I have this image of myself in bright yellow overalls, spearing litter along the side of the M25...


Listening to: Harry Connick, Jr. - "Oh, My NOLA"

Monday, 26 February 2007

"God Save The Queen" - Sex Pistols, 1977

Well, she did it. Last night, Helen Mirren won the Oscar for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth in "The Queen". And it's the first, biggest, and favorite news item here in the UK today, as my American readers might imagine.

I saw the film on a tiny screen on the way to Singapore a few weeks ago. It was certainly an exceptional performance by one of Britain's best actresses. But I have to wonder how much the vote by "the Academy" might have been influenced by America's love for things royal.

In any event, I wish John and I could have watched the show live. But then if we had been given the opportunity, I'd be even sleepier this afternoon than I already am.

I understand that the Queen has invited Mirren to tea. Wouldn't you just love to be a fly-on-the-wall for that event? I know I would.


Listening to: TV on the Radio, "Return to Cookie Mountain"

Sunday, 25 February 2007

"He Used To Be A Lovely Boy" - Keane, 2006

I've been a little delinquent since returning from Singapore, and I haven't kept up with my posts here on Lord Celery.

I can only think of one observation worth blogging about from this past week. And that's something we heard in the middle of the night, when John and I weren't sleeping very well.

One good thing about sleeplessness in England is that there's usually American programming to watch in the wee hours of the morning. One night last week, we were treated to an NBA game between .... ha ha ha .... I can't even remember which two teams we were watching! Oh dear...must have been the jetlag.

When you watch American sports on the UK's Channel 5, you get a couple of UK-based commentators sitting in a studio which is, presumably, somewhere in London. Sometimes one is American and sometimes not. In the case of 5's NBA coverage, the studio guys are both British. And the other night, one of the commentators said something which would certainly not be heard on a US broadcast of an NBA game.

When TNT's camera panned across the faces of some of those sitting courtside, lo and behold there was Shaquille O'Neal. He was dressed to kill, as you can imagine. And upon seeing him, one of the British studio commentators said, "There he is...Shaq.....all pimped up and lovely."


Dorothy, we sure aren't in Kansas anymore.


Listening to: The Hold Steady - "Boys and Girls in America"

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

"A Quick Look Ahead" - Mayflies USA, 1999

I'm back from Singapore...only slightly worse for the wear. We were late getting back to Heathrow on Friday, for a combination of reasons too dull to write about. But something that happened in Terminal 3 at Heathrow Friday morning, when I returned to UK, is worth writing about.

I used the UK's new "IRIS" system for the first time. "IRIS" stands for Iris Recognition Immigration System, and you can read all about it from this link.

It took only about 10 seconds from the time I walked into the "booth" until the doors opened, letting me into the UK officially. I didn't even show anybody a passport!

I love technology!


Wednesday, 14 February 2007

"Valentine" - Willie Nelson, (????)

After a tiring day of teaching here in Singapore-- and being sad that I'm away from John on Valentine's Day -- I got back to my room here at the Marriott to find something waiting for me on the desk...

John, what a lovely surprise! You've absolutely made my day...and I LOVE YOU!

Happy Valentine's Day, everybody!


Sunday, 11 February 2007

"Your Smiling Face" - James Taylor, 1977

Hello from Singapore, everybody!

I didn't manage a note, before I left snowy Britain, to let all of you know that I was off to Singapore on Friday. I left Heathrow late-morning, arriving 12+ hours later...with an 8-hour time change Singapore's Changi Airport on Saturday morning. I don't think the contrast in weather has ever been so stark when I've traveled for business. I left my house with enough snow outside to make driving hazardous, and I've arrived here to typical Singapore hot and humid tropical weather. Hope my sinuses survive!

I'll be here until very late Thursday night. I'm running two courses here in the Marriott, tomorrow through Thursday. And then I'll get back home to England Friday morning.

I've been taking some snapshots this weekend, but I just don't have time tonight to get them ready to post here. Perhaps I can after class tomorrow night. I think Lord Celery's readers might enjoy them.

Meanwhile, though, let me explain the reason for the song I'm using as tonight's subject.

When I was in Singapore last October -- also staying at the Marriott -- I had an exceptional room service waiter who brought my dinner nearly every night. He's one of those people whose smile lights up the room, and I really enjoyed chatting with him at the end of each working day. He made time away from home more bearable.

Well, when I ordered some food delivered last night, guess who brought it? He said he thought my surname rang a bell, and he even hugged me (after he put down the tray)! So tonight, when he brought my fried rice and Sauvignon Blanc, I took his photo. And here he is...and by the way, he has such a complicated Indonesian name that I wouldn't even dare pronounce it, let alone attempt to spell it!

(Click on photo for a full-sized version.)

More photos on the way!


Wednesday, 7 February 2007

"Everybody's Talkin' " - Nilsson, 1968

Completely by accident, I found a great blog called Overheard in New York. I'm going to add it to my links on the right side of my main Lord Celery page. It brings back memories of one of the best things about life in New York City...just walking around, with eyes and ears wide open.

I wish I'd thought of doing a blog like that when I was living in The City. But then, there was no such thing as "blogging" back then. Nor was there an "internet" for use by us mere mortals.

But wasn't there (isn't there?) a "New York Times" column which features heard-on-the-street quotes?


Listening to: "Life in Cartoon Motion" - Mika

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

"(I Wanna) Be Like Mike" - Teknoe, 1991

I'm sure all of you get loads of junk e-mail in your computer inboxes. I'm continuously offered cheap loans (of substantial size, sometimes), prescription drugs, various types of cures for male ailments, and really splendid opportunities for the use of my personal bank account by Nigerians. Recently, I've noticed that I seem to have been targeted by those who think I need to invest in counterfeit timepieces.

I usually just delete these spam-mails as soon as I notice them. However, the subject of one this morning caught my eye...

"Mike Tyson wears Rolex You should TO!"

OK, first you have to ignore the incorrect English. But then I got to thinking, why in heaven's name would anybody want to emulate Mike Tyson, of all people!

I just don't get it. But then I guess I don't understand the target audience for the fake-watch sellers.

I'm also fairly confident that Mike Tyson has never been under consideration as an official Rolex spokesperson.


Listening to: "Best of..." compilations by Captain Sensible and Wreckless Eric...thanks to Gavin!

Monday, 5 February 2007

"Other Side of the Road" - Smokie, 1979

John and I went to Swindon on Saturday for a family gathering. While there, my brother-in-law Paul and I were talking about the differences between driving in the UK and in North America. There are lots of them, as I learned when I finally managed to get my "driving licence" in the UK in 2004.

While surfing a little at lunchtime today, I found a good website with tips for UK drivers planing to drive in North America. The man who put this together has spent a great deal of time doing so. It appears to be a good resource, and I've recommended it to Paul.

What especially caught my eye, though, was the "American English to British English Dictionary - Driving". When I was going through my extensive UK driving lessons, I found that there were a myriad of terms we use the extent that occasionally I didn't even know what my instructor was asking me to do! I thought I'd share this with Lord Celery's readers, if you're interested.

The differences between driving in the UK and in North America are more than just changing sides of the road...and the fact that the steering wheel is inconveniently located on the other side of the car!

By the way, some of you might wonder what-in-the-world that God-awful photo at the top of this entry represents. It's called "The Magic Roundabout", and it's located right there in Swindon. Personally, I think it's evil.


Listening to: "The Crane Wife", The Decemberists

(A big thank-you to both Bob Harris (from his BBC Radio 2 show) and NPR's "All Songs Considered" podcasts for the introduction to this band!)

Thursday, 1 February 2007

"New Sad" - Marc Ribot, 1990

I read some bad news at lunchtime today.

I love Austin, Texas. Sadly, I never got to live there myself, but my brother did. Austin's a great small city. John and I got to spend a few hours there when we were in Texas about a month ago. It was rejuvenating.

I subscribe to a daily e-mail from the "Austin American-Statesman" with links to their major stories. Unfortunately, one of today's headlines is that writer Molly Ivins died yesterday of breast cancer.

Ivins was always a favorite political writer...well, really a favorite all-time writer. I've read her book "Molly Ivins Can't Say That, Can She?" more than once. (And that's a big statement coming from a woman who loves to buy books but somehow never gets them read.) And she supposedly coined the nickname "Shrub" (when he was governor of Texas) for President George W Bush. Her writing was smart and witty..and much to the dismay of many in her native state of Texas, liberal.

I had recently been thinking that one of the disadvantages of living in England is not ever getting to see Ivins on TV any more. I didn't know she had cancer.

Let me provide a couple of links here for those of you that didn't know anything about her...

Wikipedia's article about Molly Ivins

Her final column (about the Bush administration's decision to send additional American troops to Iraq)

Many of my conservative friends won't share my sadness today. But they'll just have to try to continue to love me anyway, despite our political differences.

RIP, Molly.


Listening to: "Post-War" - M Ward