29 March 2011

Dogboarding!


Skateboarding and dog ownership are, independently, pretty awesome things. If your dog can skateboard, well, that's the pinnacle of coolness.

Until dogboarding came along.

Turns out owning a dog that is a skateboard beats owning a dog that can skateboard. Best. Shit. Ever.

Click through to watch dogboarding in action. Then go to the Daniels website and hire them to do stuff.

Dogboarding from DANIELS on Vimeo.


For the record:
"No animals were harmed in the making of this video.
Don't harm animals, dummy."

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28 March 2011

Canadian Election, British Protests

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On March 26th 500,000 people marched through the streets of London against the savage cuts the current coalition government has been undertaking without any mandate whatsoever.

Led by David Cameron and incompetently supported by the once-upon-a-time-political-upstart-now-has-been Nick Clegg the coalition government have been dismantling the public sector and making slight concessions to regular people, whilst 'reshaping the economy in the interests of business'.

Meanwhile, in Canada, former Prime Minister Stephen Harper spent his Saturday asking the Governor General for a writ of election. Because the day before Canadian MPs gave Harper's government a vote of non-confidence.

Between the two, there's the will and the way for change, but independently, I'm not sure much is going to happen.

Here in London the government has already made it clear that half a million people taking to the streets won't affect their plans. David Cameron didn't bother to comment on the demo - because half a million angry citizens isn't really something a leader should concern themselves with.

Or should they?

Meanwhile, in Canada, the polls are already suggesting another - albeit narrow - Tory victory.

Now obviously, the respective situations are different, and the level of cuts here is ridiculously, obscenely and cravenly extreme, but still, being aware of both events, and having a vested interest in the outcome of each, I can't help willing there to be a bit of crossover - a bit more protest and hullaballoo in Canada, and a bit more toppling of a non-representative and generally terrible government ruling without a clear mandate here.

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25 March 2011

Marbles on Vonnegut

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Me and Dave Waller will be doing our Marbles improv comedy business at So it Goes, at Cafe Oto in Dalston. We'll be accompanied by music Marble and fellow Vonnegut enthusiast Rob Grundel.

If you read this blog, you may already be aware that I think quite highly of old Mr.Vonnegut, writing this upon his passing

We're really looking forward to this event, as not only was Kurt Vonnegut and his writings hugely influential on me during my formative years, we'll also be debuting a new form we've been working on, called a Riff.

We'll be riffing that night on quotes from Kurt Vonnegut. Rob has been in touch with Donald Farber, the man responsible for the Vonnegut estate, and a pretty tremendous dude in his own right.

And Donald likes what we're going to do (so I gather), but as the rights of the work lie with various other parties, we're not able to record the show. So you;ll have to come see it, or ask me about it, or best of all, come to the event, and draw a picture in the margins of your notebook during our set, scan it or rip it out and mail it to me.

There's also a whole bunch of other acts presenting "original work inspired by the writing and ideas of the author of Slaughterhouse-Five, Cats Cradle, Player Piano, Welcome To The Monkeyhouse and Timequake, among others."

It promises to be both original and inspired.



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22 March 2011

Double-Gigging for World Water Day

Today is World Water Day, and to celebrate I'm giving two public addresses. One is, as pictured above, a talk on Waterwisdom and water conservation at the National Geographic Store on Regent Street. Leap Anywhere recommends this, and so do I. Especially if you like inspiring, fact-based powerpoint presentations.

After that, I'll be making my way to the Comedy Bin event at The Horatia.

This event will feature at least one bit about water. It's a joke, yes, but not a joke about water conservation, as that is no laughing matter, least of all on World Water Day.

And, if you ask me at either event, I'll be able to give you some genuine tips on reducing your water wastage. Come to both and get double the tips!

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15 March 2011

Surprised by Spitalfields TeaSmithery

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"Experience the exquisite aromas and visuals of exceptional tea leaves at our unique Tea Bar."

This quote is the opposite of exciting. I'm not really into tea. And even though I've been known to indulge in some English Breakfast, rooibos, or even chamomile teas, tea in general, and herbal teas in particular, are for pussies and weaklings.

I've got other drinks that I'm into. Awesome drinks that inspire devotion and crafstmanship. Like whisky, beer and coffee. Drinks that are not served in tiny plastic cups to stuffed animals.

In truth, though I'm not really a tea drinker, neither do I look down at those who do, I just never thought tea drinking to be worthy of the same amount of studied devotion that monks in Belgium can apply to beer, Scottish scientists can apply to whisky, and Canadians to coffee (and donuts).

Tea was just something you drank when your office ran out of coffee.

Then my wife introduced me to the TeaSmith in Spitalfields. I was initially put off by the suggestion that we go somewhere that wasn't a coffeeshop or pub. Seeing how my wife drinks neither booze nor coffee, I figured the tea thing could be a strategic sacrifice.

But soon after we entered the TeaSmith I found my mood picking up and my anti-tea stance softening.

TeaSmith's interior, by Jonathan Clark Architects, is soothing and minimal. The service was knowledgeable and passionate - as were many of the customers. Also importantly: the tea was really good. So were the biscuits. Though my palate is not terribly refined, I loved the vocabulary on the menus, and the fusion of art and science that they use to come up with their blends was fascinating to watch. It's a marvel really.

Though at first I kinda sniggered at the ceremony, I quickly came to appreciate that it wasn't just for show, they were really making a damn fine cup of tea.

My visit to the TeaSmith was surprisingly enjoyable; turns out tea can be awesome.

Although I'm a little upset they've complicated my relationship with coffee.

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14 March 2011

Kid Koala et al. at Koko

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KOKO in Camden is an impressive venue, stacked like a wedding cake, with the biggest disco ball I've ever clapped eyes on hanging from the distant galaxy of the ceiling. It's easy to imagine the turn of the century elegance and glamour when admiring the ornate carved frieze above the stage; it's made a little more challenging whilst nursing a mid-grade cocktail in plastic cup.
I spent Saturday night there enjoying a Soundcrash gig featuring The Impellers, DJ Vadim's The Electric Project, Polar Bear, and Mr Thing. Headlined by Kid Koala. So yeah, basically a party. I haven't been out to a club to get down like that in a while, so it was

The Impellers are a big ol' funk and soul band with all kinds of horns and guitars and an absolute belter of a lead singer. They won me over - especially with their tune "Knock Knock!" That's a chorus and a great set up for many many zinger punchlines.

DJ Vadim and Polar Bear should probably have gone in reverse order, as Polar Bear's deep and sweaty funked-out jazz, while undeniably awesome, isn't the most accessible of musics. Neither was it made more party-rocking by an MC who seemed ill-suited to the job of rallying the crowd and being the face of the inscrutable jazz-fiends.

DJ Vadim, on the other hand, playing just before Polar Bear, had four vocalists - all of whom seemed to want nothing more than have fun and make sure everyone in the packed house was doing likewise. Although the first half of their set was pretty generic, they brought their good-timey vibe to a storming second half that got the crowd well up for further party time. Hence maybe they should've gone reversies with Polar Bear. Except I guess it kept the bear-themed names close to each other on the bill.

And the bear-suited Kid Koala came on post midnight and, as his place on the bill suggests, he was the real highlight. While there was less of the clever samples scratched into beats (i.e. raw turntable comedy) that I remember, there was plenty of turntablism and charm to get the packed crowd roaring their approval. He revealed which song is the favourite of his two-year old, and that the bear suit was the result of a lost bet - this was show number 23 of the 100 he'll play in the outfit.

The goofy sense of showmanship is allied with his mastery of the decks - and wrapped up in his self-described 'cute and cuddly' package. Hopelessly endearing and endlessly inventive. Though my attention wavered a couple of times, his set was fantastic. Beat juggles, scratches and refereeing a one-armed pillow fight - it was everything one could want in a DJ show.

Afterwards, I sent him a tweet to thank him for the show, to which he not only replied - he also answered my question about the bear suit bet. It involves an unrealistic self-confidence about jumprope skills. What's not to love?


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10 March 2011

A Matter of Habit: All Dressed Up

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As a rule, I'm not that well dressed. This is a plus, in that I'm not overly obsessed with fashion details and latest trends and other time-consuming stuff like that. It's bad because I sometimes look like I got dressed in the dark. Or, more commonly, like I only own jeans, sneakers, and casual or second-hand shirts.

Now that I'm part of the working world, it's an opportunity to get serious: I'm trying to regularly rock a dressed-down version of 'business casual' in a way that makes it look like a conscious choice, and not just because I only own one suit.

So I recently went, with my keen-eyed and stylish wife as my personal shopper, into the heaving centre of London and emerged with some new clothes.

Chunky sweater? Check.
Khakis? Check.

I also got a couple of other items, so I'm on my way to being well-dressed in a way that is more than "my best jeans and finest sweatshirt!"

It may take some time and effort, but when you look good you feel good, right?

Dress for the job you want, not the one you have. Right?

So I'm reading up - looking at some classic tips, and some looks that might be a little more fashion-forward. And, if I get this all going, I might start rocking a something with a little touch of class.

Or I may not, but I do have a couple nice new sweaters.

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07 March 2011

Trying to Travel on Easter

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Thanks to Jesus' late-April resurrection and Kate and Wills' impending nuptials, late April is a glorious logjam of bank holidays.

The significance of the propinquity of these crucial events can only mean one (or two) things: either the divine right of kings is somehow related to the chocolate bunny myth via an arisen Zombie Jesus, or it's coincidence. But I doubt it's a coincidence: these things just fit too well together.

Regardless of the theories, this magnetic throngy crush of visitors and vacation days means that it's really expensive to travel at the end of April. Prohibitively so.

I think if Jesus and the Royals (good band name?) were really keen on giving something to the fair citizenry they would have somehow conspired to make it a little bit cheaper for me to go back to the west coast of Canada this April. I'd happily make room here in this crowded town for a tea towel-toting church-and-stater.

As it is, a trip to Vancouver and Victoria BC Canada (where I'm long overdue and acutely keen for a visit) has been thwarted by grossly exaggerated airline ticket prices.

I can't help but think these benevolent leaders really missed the boat by not making my holiday planning easier and more economically feasible.

So I'll just have to eat extra chocolate eggs and cream teas on my souvenir cup and saucer set in a vain attempt to fill this void and sate this wanderlust.

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