you’re talking cream cakes

Last morning in Florida then before flying back to Ann Arbor for a couple of days then back to Britainland on Thursday… berlimey that were quick!

Technology has become a little issue as my phone has bitten the dust with pics from the last few days on it and I forgot to bring the lead to Florida for me little digicam thingy. Doh…

Should be able to get some pics up here in the next couple of days I think. Oh it’s all so tricky!

I’ll leave the stuff about hiring a boat until I get the images to go with it so what else? Yup, yesterday met up with Ken and his missus Yoim and a couple of their friends for a mellow lunch in a bar called Coasters by the intercoastal waterway. Very nice indeed and another ridiculously hot November day. Then back to Nigels condo for an evening of NFL watching. After a bit of explanation I can almost see why that’s exciting as a sport. It don’t ‘alf go on a bit though…

I read the Moose today, Oh Boy…

So here I am in late November sitting in a pair of shorts on a balcony overlooking a small lake. Life still not becoming too tough.

After the stunning success of my Moose safari up in Vermont, I’d been itching to get back on the wildlife trail. The primal human desire to hunt animal flesh in a vegetarian way has been eating away at me (not them) and so when presented with the chance to track down some new wildlife in Florida I jumped at the chance like a rubber spider attached by a short piece of piping with a bulb on the end of it that you squeeze to scare small children.

“Alligators are the new moose” is what they all say down here, so being easily led, I forgot all about my antlered friends and went off in a man-against-nature-way into the wilds with my good friend and host “Crocodile Nigel” in search of Alligatus Manytoothicus. In scenes reminiscent of Deliverance (well, I’m not from round here and I have it on good authority that I sure have a purdy mouth) we headed off alone into the swamp lair of the ancient and venerable beast in our trusty boat guided by a small bird, armed recklessly with only a camera phone and a can of coke…

Actually that wasn’t the boat we went on, and we kind of actually didn’t go quite as alone as I’m making out. This was the boat…

And these were the people we went with…

Anyway, supported by our brave geriatric troop we paid 8 dollars each for… OK it was a pleasure boat ride full of old people ably piloted by a retired biology teacher with a microphone and a love of birds.

So here we go… See if you can spot the alligators in these pictures…

Come on there’s not much time…

Yup, alligators are like moose in many ways, well mostly one way, they are very hard to spot. I do promise that there was a toothy reptile in each of those pictures though. They were just small and far away. Ah well, nearly Christmas…

Off to hire a proper boat today to go out on the intercoastal waterway for a few hours. See you after water danger…

Turkey Lurkey

La Floride, or the Flower as they say in Espagnol allegedly. Have you ever seen so many medical centres? There’s a lot of old people in Sarasota, some would say more so now that I have arrived, and they seem to need a lot of medical attention. Billboards advertising hip replacements are kinda funny though… Florida is the place where middle-management-and-above America retires to. They all wear identical clothes and, I’m guessing, have identical conversations, possibly comparing joint replacement deals.

Florida is also the place where some very nice people live ruled over by Princess Demi Del Monaco and her love of dancing, bubbles and jumping up and down.

These kind people took me in for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving (celebrating the help the Native Americans gave to the European settlers when they were close to starving back in the 1600’s I think) is just too easy a target for me so I’ll leave it alone… no I will… gmmmmph… I’m not saying anything… honest… you should hear the noise in my head now though.

I however give thanks for nice people who made me a vegetariananian version of their biggest meal of the year and provided good company throughout the day. That’s my Thanksgiving. Let’s try to hire a boat today shall we?

Everybody said it was a shame…

Right so where were we up to then? errrr… the last bits of Ann Arbor.

Well after I last spoke to you (how have you been by the way?) I had a bit of an odd day to say the least, which was started by the sound of moaning coming from the next door apartment. Being British, obviously I ignored it at first, in fact, knowing vaguely of the guy who lives next door, I assumed he was lying in a pool of his own vomit trying to work off the last of his hangover. The moaning, however, continued at increasingly high volume until I was forced into action. For action, read, forced to put on some trousers (or pants here) and go knock on his door. I really hope, by the way, that I have not managed to pick up an embarrassingly American accent by this point. It’s very difficult to know. Maybe I’ll record my voice and see if I can discern any difference.

Anyway, back to Moany. I knocked and “No Answer” came the stern reply. I knocked again and was rewarded with another most blood curdling moan so throwing caution to the wind I took a run up and barged open the door with my shoulder, shouting, “everyone down on the floor with your hands where I can see ’em, this is a raid.” Actually, no I didn’t. I called 911 (which is not a joke in Ann Arbor) and a few mins later some of the local “Bears” (as they called them in the song Convoy the sound of which reminds me of the first time I ate peanut butter as a kid while playing with me train set) arrived and took a run up and barged open the door with their shoulders, shouting, “everyone down on the floor with your hands where I can see ’em, this is a raid.” Actually, no they didn’t. They opened his window and went in to find him in a diabetic coma, so they called an Ambulance.

Call me old fashioned but I’m thinking the ambulance should have arrived before the cops, but what do I know? Well I do know that shortly afterwards, a big fire engine arrived too, packed with big, burly, US firemen (steady ladies) who presumably were there to cover him in water should the poor guy accidentally catch fire while being injected with adrenaline. They had a good look and seemed to think that he was not a fire risk so left shortly afterwards, but it’s best to be safe right?

Actually, I think this is possibly symptomatic of something that’s been bugging me during my time in Ann Arbor. You see, Ann Arbor thinks it’s a city. It’s not. It’s 1 main street and a few roads that branch off it. But I’m guessing that when anyone calls 911 in the lovely TOWN that is Ann Arbor, the emergency services feel duty bound to come over like they were dealing with a major incident on the streets of Manhattan, possibly one that has taken out three or four blocks and poses a threat to thousands of innocent civilian lives. In their minds eye I’m thinking they see “Godzilla trampling buildings” and are most upset to find “Bloke Moaning”. Anyway, that’s Ann Arbor, lovely town, NOT A CITY. Grrrr… rant… grumble…

Where was I? Ah yes. Bloke Moaning. So anyway, after a lot of injections of insulin and adrenaline and a fair bit of shouting as he came out of his coma, Bloke Moaning, became Bloke recovering and the cops, bears, ver filth, whatever you prefer, came by and thanked me very much for calling them and told me that the ambulance woman had said I’d saved his life. So that was nice.

That got me thinking about all that cause and effect business and consequences and stuff and how if I hadn’t ditched my job and then rented out my house and come to America and in the meantime met someone random online by accident that I ended up staying in Ann Arbor with, then Jason, for that is Moany’s name, would quite possibly be deaded by now. Then obviously, because it’s me, I worked way backwards via my parents meeting, their parents meeting, the pilgrims going to the US, The first humans evolving, the spark of life starting in the primordial soup (does that come with croutons?) on an infant earth, the forming of the solar system from the dust cloud that became our galaxy after the initial big bang where everything that makes up anything that ever was including you and me, existed in the form of an infinitely small dot, and how we are now part of a universe that is experiencing itself subjectively (thanks Bill) and then that there’s that really good poem about this stuff called In the Beginning by Primo Levi the Italian, Chemist, Partisan, Poet and Work Camp survivor, and how I always think that the title of that poem is The Black Stars, but it isn’t because that’s another poem by him that is much, much more depressing but also very good.

So are we all clear?

Anyway, Jason came round later and thanked me for saving his life and I mumbled “That’s fine” in an embarrassed way because, well, because it’s embarrassing to have someone thank you for saving his life. You try it. I suppose that we are now blood brothers in some way or is it that now having saved his life, I am now responsible for what he does with it? I can’t remember, but sod it all, I’m in Atlanta now anyway so he can’t hold me to it.

“Atlanta?” you say. “Isn’t that in Georgia in the South Of the US?”. “Why, yes it is” I reply and I’m here for but 2 hours on a stop over on the way to Florida. When I got on the plane this morning at Detroit airport, initially, not many people got on with me and I thought “Oh good, I can stretch out across the seats and have a nice relaxed flight, possibly watching a movie on my laptop or snoozing.” Oh dear no. The reason that the plane was near empty turned out to be that they had to get contractors in to widen the tunnel that gets you on the plane because the family, friends and doppelgangers of Augustus Gloop from Charlie and The Chocolate Factory had chartered the plane.

Now when they say, “Plane seats 80 passengers” in the manual that comes with it, I’m guessing that they are not assuming that 1 of those passengers is a skinny little bugger like me while the other 79 of them are Sumo wrestlers who frankly have let themselves go a bit, crowbarred into elastic wasted casual clothing. Jeez, the plane ended up taking off held together with bungee cords and sellotape. But it made it here, just, although I’m not convinced that they managed to get all the wheels off the ground for the journey… It were bumpy enough.

So Atlanta’s Jackson airport. What’s that about then? Well it’s full of Guys and Girls in full Desert Storm regalia or is it Operation Freedom nowadays? I forget, and don’t even get me started on those 21st century euphemistic mission names for going out on killing sprees… The fast food shops sell Polk Salad (Annie, gators got your granny – Great song) and Pork and Greens, and Mess Of Greens and all those other crazy deep south sounding food stuffs that they have in old blues songs. Bet you could get squirrel too if you asked nicely. I had a grilled cheese sandwich (no tomatoes) and a Sprite and sat down for a bit of a read. Damn, flying makes me want to smoke. Did I mention I’d given up? Well I have. So there. Stopped the Saturday before Chicago (back down there in the mists of the internet) and apart from a when I was sitting in the hot dog bar where I cracked a bit, nary a puff has passed my lips since. That’s 11 days today I’ll have you know. Methinks I may crack again in Florida, but hey, waddya do?

Hang on, got to get on a plane…

OK back from that tangent, Jackson airport, surrounded by infantry in desert fatigues, some bloke playing I Just Called To Say I Love You in the style of Richard Clayderman on the piano in the lounge, I sat down for a read of Carrie Fisher’s Delusions of Grandma, (very very good so far, possibly a bit camp for your average GI but full of excellent short observations as only Carrie can pull off), found a copy Soldier Of Fortune so started reading that instead. If you’ve never seen it, in theory it’s a magazine for military mercenaries (soldiers of fortune as they prosaically put it, hired killers as might make more sense.) In reality, it’s a mag who’s readership mostly consists of geeky computer programmer types who are looking for a cheap testosterone/ adrenaline thrill. Full of ads for big guns and articles comparing and road testing tanks rather than cars. Might get a subscription.

I had a point when I started writing that but lost it somewhere along the line in a mess of very very rocky turbulence. My laptop just floated in front of my eyes for a second or so and then landed softly onn thr tray in front ogr mre, (authentic turbulence typing!) and I left my stomach somewhere a few thousand feet up and my heart in Ann Arbor. Some people got nasty bumps on the head from flying luggage too. How dramatic. All seems nice now though and after having taken off in fog, and then ascended into cloud filled with concrete lumps and big bungee jumps, the plane has come out into clear air and a beautiful multicoloured sunset and I can see the sea below me which I assume is the Gulf Of Mexico. On the little TV on the plane it showed that Jackson was nearish to Memphis Tennessee which is nice in an Elvis-y way. I like Elvis. Even the bits where he got fat and played sad ballads at the end of his life. So sue me, as they say here. Soft Shoe me as I prefer. Now I’m on the plane, 20 minutes from Sarasota, several thousand feet up in the air, a bit like my life.

In closing, I’d just like to say, I really hope that John Stewart’s Daily Show is on TV every day when I get back to the UK as the man is a genius and could do more to make Europeans realise that Americans are not bad people than most people ever could and has helped me mantain my sanity here. He is also very funny.

I rest me case yer ‘onour and throw this extended edition of gobbledegook on the mercy of an unsuspecting public. Back to monosyllables and pictures next time I promise. Now get me that Orange Juice. Alvie says “Hello Florida… woof”

Hot dog! We’re gonna have a ball tonight….

Who put the Chic in Chicago? Who put the Ram in the Ramalamadingdong?

Well I went there anyway. (Chicago that is, not the fictitious land of Ramalamadingdong). People I was with had tickets to see The Pixies there so I tagged along. Apparently The Pixies sucked so that was good. I on the other hand when faced with an evening of staring at a TV in a hotel room (and not a witty and erudite one like the one I had in New York) decided to do something I NEVER do and go and sit in a bar on my own and see what happened.

I went to this bar…

Now looking at it you might wonder what exactly about it out of the the several dozen bars I could have chosen attracted me to this godforsaken looking place? (And deep breath. That was a hell of a sentence. Well done for getting through it.) Well the sad but true reason is that when I walked past it the first time, there was a bartender and one customer in it and that customer had black clothes and a Velvet Underground circa 1969 type haircut. The idea of going into a trendy looking bar full of jolly young people listening to modern music (it’s all bang bang bang and you can easily tell the boys from the girls, not my sort of thing at all) filled me with dread so after a brisk walk in the wind and rain to the hotel to get me ID, into the Hot Dog Bar I went. First there was a stilted conversation about American Football, they tried, I failed. Then we moved on to what we did for a living, again my answer tends to annoy people more than anything. Finally we got on to a safe subject, music. The bartender was a drummer in a band he’d started and liked much the same dodgy music that I did, Allelujah! 3 hours passed in the blink of 6 beers and 5 shots of Makers Mark bourbon. Remember what happens when I drink bourbon?

Yeah well it happened again. It was a great night though. Patrick the ace bartender, poured many beers and gave many free shots and tried to charge me a paltry amount at the end of the night (like about £4.50 seriously). We chatted and laughed, agreed about most things musical, set the world to rights politically, and exchanged email addresses in order to hear each others musical efforts.

Now some might laugh at my going into a bar attached to a hot dog shop and spending all night drinking with the bartender in an empty bar but those people would be mistaken and evil. They can laugh at this instead…

Well you need shades with a hangover the size I had…

While in Chicago, I also bought one of these…

Dunno why but they are another thing that I am inordinately obsessed with from my childhood along with Sea Monkeys, X-Ray Specs and Charles Atlas body building courses for 9 stone weaklings like myself who get sand kicked in their faces by tough guys. Perhaps all those old imported Marvel and DC Comics I got given as a kid warped my mind in some way?

There’s a very good St Etienne song called Zipcode which deals with my childhood in a bizarre parallel way. I did have the wrist radio, and if you replace apes with pigs then pretty much the whole song happened to me. So there.

Hmmm what else now I’m in a posting kind of mood? Well there’s other pictures like these…

Food with a Greek what? (first spotted by N)

Are you sure that’s safe?


And finally in other news… What would you say is going on here? Please use the comments bit to post your picture caption if you can be bothered…

It’s a true story, it just hasn’t happened yet

So after another night of crap sleep, this time involving a dream of living in a world covered under a layer of the liquid that Ed Harris uses to breathe in The Abyss, I wake to find that the heating has been up full all night. Doh! Well that explains the difficulty I was having breathing under water then… Neill, you were having your engagement party under the goop too but the money we bought you got all wet and it was difficult to dance.

Oh what a night (der dup der dup dup) as Frankie Valli might once have said… fortunately the people at the SciFi channel have saved the day by putting the best damn trilogy ever on all morning. Wassat you say? “What’s The Godfather doing on the SciFi channel?”. Don’t be daft! It’s Planet Of The Apes innit. Not that new stupid version, the old Roddy McDowell/Kim Hunter versions. Pure class. Currently on Escape From The Planet Of The Apes which is a little lighter than the first 2 with much advanced-chimps-dressing-in-70’s-clothes hilarity, before the more tragic end followed by the more hopeful epilogue. “mama… mama…”. Ooh it’s so twisty and turny and Ricardo Montalban is in it…

It’s got a bit colder here in Ann Arbor since last posting, very much hats and gloves weather, so I’m glad I bought a hat and gloves in the last post. Well this is just gold dust isn’t it. Glad you started reading? Bet you are!

Me go back to monkeys… they understand me…

…and geese…

What has transpired during this day then?

First up, if you haven’t already, send me your email address using this link HERE. All my email addresses disappeared in a computer cock up.

Well hey, where have I been? Can you tell me? In Ann Arbor basically is the answer.

Went for a huge walk the other day in Bird Hills which is a huge woodland park. The walk wasn’t supposed to be quite so long but there was an element of getting lost thrown in and some directions were needed from a grumpy cyclist who was loading his bike into his car. Apparently the concept of giving us a lift was a bit beyond him so we carried on our forced march for a good 3 hours before getting back to the car. It was all fun though and much laughing was done.

Here’s a nice thing about a dog food brand… This stuff is important!

Election fever is over and the news has gone back to it’s normal self. The thing you notice here (or I do anyway) is that news is only shown if it has a direct link to the US. Foreign news there is very little of (Fallujah and Israel/Palestine only) so I am even more addicted to the BBC news website than ever just to remind me that there is a “rest of the world” out there. That said, I did just read on the CNN news ticker that Leo Sayer is moving to the colony of Australia. Very odd. I wonder what he’s being transported for? Why the hell is that news?

I had a very bad nights sleep last night for some reason so feel most out of sorts today. You know those nights when you wake up very anxious for no apparent reason? And whatever you think about, your mind puts the worse possible spin on it? Had to get up and watch TV in the end to make it all go away. Doh! Watched the film Secretary which was good until the end when it all went a bit whack. In other TV news, there’s a good show I saw one episode of called Desperate Housewives, and another that I’m addicted to called Family Bonds on HBO. It’s ace and Alun and Ann-Marie, you’ll love it when it comes on if it’s not already playing in Britainland.

It’s very cold here now and I have invested in a nice black wooly hat and a pair of black leather gloves so I look just like a burglar. Once when I was drumming for a band I was coming back from a rehearsal dressed much the same way on a snowy night when I was stopped by 2 representatives of the local constabulary who were investigating some local house thievery. They asked me what I’d been up to and I told them I had been drumming. They asked me to open my bag and when confronted by the contents (some drumsticks and a towel) one of them said “Oh yeah? So what’s all this stuff for then son?” as though he had just collared an old lag in an episode of the Sweeney. Still tickles me.

Tried a couple of times to find a restaurant in Ann Arbor which serves a good vegetarian option with very little success. Supposed to be a bit of a hippy town so you’d expect better. Ended up going to Seva which actually is a vegetarian restaurant, which may make you wonder why I didn’t just go there in the first place… cos I’m pig headed, that’s why. Talking of which, did they have to make this stuff so anatomically accurate? And as for “Eats like chicken”, well, what language would that be then?

Pay attention… this is serious…

My email program got screwed (I blame the Republicans).

That means I’ve lost everyone’s email address which some of you may think is a good thing.

If you ever want to hear from me again, send me an email by clicking HERE so I can get your address back…

If you know anyone else who checks this please pass the message on to them.

Ta muchly.



Oh Bugger

Well it looks like the Americans have managed to do it again… Ohio is looking like it’s going the way of the pear, Bush seems to have increased his share of the popular vote by 4 million so he actually has a majority this time. America is a conservative country. The majority of the people in America think that bombing brown people in other countries will make them safer. It’s not a huge majority, in fact it’s very slim, which is ironic given the amount of corn syrup sloshing around, but it’s a majority. Unfortunately the brown people with bombs raining around them don’t get a say. Apparently this election is likely to have been won for Bush on “values”. That means that along with their natural fear of swarthy people in Eastern countries throwing rocks of mass destruction, people have voted on the issues of gay marriage and stem cell research.

I jus’ don’ geddit.