Saturday, January 05, 2008

Black tongue

I do love black jacks. The aniseed chews, not the playing cards. I haven't had them for ages, but I bought a pack yesterday and now I'm hopelessly addicted to the things. It's no wonder I'm so big and fat, is it?

Anyway, James and James are coming round tomorrow to run through our amazing memory presentation for the unis. What we're doing, and I don't think I've really explained in this blog before, is putting on a performance demonstrating feats of memory, explaining something about techniques, in conjunction with sending out a 'memory manual' to all these eager young students, then organising university memory competitions. It should be a lot of fun, and if you're a student and you're reading this, go and ask your university whether we're coming or whether they didn't reply to us (it was the psychology department who got the emails/letters).

I should point out that it's James Paterson who had the idea and who has done the enormous amount of work on this whole project, ably assisted by James Paterson. I'm basically just tagging along in the hope of impressing some impressionable young minds with my collection of trophies and accolades and thus helping the Jameses recruit new competitors to the exciting world of 'memory sports'.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Neville Neville

One of the central gimmicks of "How To Be Clever" is that it has a piece of useless trivia at the bottom of each page. So I've been scouring the dark recesses of my memory and bookcase for interesting little-known facts, preferably ones that can't be found on the internet (which is increasingly hard these days, but I'd like to be able to claim that my book contains not just information that's actually true, but that can't be found on Wikipedia!)

But then tonight while idly reading up on football I come across the hugely interesting fact that the father of footballers Gary and Phil Neville is called Neville Neville. And this is, naturally enough, extremely well-known to everyone except me. So I can't put it in the book, but it's nice to know that while I'm working on sharing my fascinating obscure knowledge with the world and deriding the internet, the internet is sharing its fascinating knowledge back with me. Heehee, Neville Neville. What a great name.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Ask me what I've been doing all day

What have I been doing all day, you say? Working on "How To Be Clever", of course! I feel all industrious and successful. Even though I've only got as far as getting three chapters and most of a fourth up to absolute-finished-polished-first-draft stage. Heck, at this rate I might even be in a position to let someone look at it some time soon.

I'm currently also playing in an othello tournament on kurnik, and I just had a 31-31 draw. I don't think that's ever happened to me before.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

He's the one who knows the Mysterons' game

Gerry Anderson night on BBC4, and I'm watching the first episode of Captain Scarlet. Featuring those wonderful Spectrum Pursuit Vehicles in which the driver faces backwards and sees the road ahead on a computer screen. I've always been impressed by how sensationally pointless this innovation is.

Anyway, my road to fame and glory continues apace - the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation want to include me in a memory documentary. I had resolved to do more actual memory championships and training and less documentaries, but I figure it'll be okay if I don't actually have people following me around at competitions and pestering me in the couple of months beforehand. And Canada is a place I've always vaguely wanted to go, so this will make the people there like me in case I ever get round to visiting.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Best thing since sliced bread

With my usual impressive grasp of advance planning, I realised this morning that I didn't have any food in the house, and unless some shops were open, I wasn't going to be able to eat anything until tomorrow. Luckily, though, Sainsbury's was open (poor Sainsbury's staff, don't even get New Year's Day off work), so the danger of starving to death was averted. However, they didn't have any sliced bread, unless you count a few loaves of unpleasant-looking, rather dated wholemeal stuff, so I bought an unsliced loaf from the still-warm, fresh-from-the-bakery section.

I disapprove of unsliced bread. What is this, the dark ages? Really, I'm old-fashioned enough just buying sliced bread - the trendy young people these days don't make their own sandwiches, they buy them ready-made from overpriced coffee shops and things. Also, I didn't think to buy a breadknife while I was in the supermarket, so cutting it is going to be fun (haven't tried it yet, but I'll need to for breakfast tomorrow).

Apart from that, I've done stuff today. All related to the first of our university memory demonstrations, which is coming up soon, in Plymouth. Which should be fun, and really merits its own blog entry, not a footnote to a bread-based rant. Maybe tomorrow.

Monday, December 31, 2007

They're gonna put me in the movies

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Woo! This is the first time one of my occasional TV appearances has merited a namecheck in the Radio Times! I really must be famous! Although I don't get to be in the picture at the top of the column. And Kate Moss's documentary is five minutes longer than mine. And I'm not one of the 'choice' selections for the day in RT. I'm offended. I'll complain to my agent and manager and drug dealer. Well, actually, I'll just sit here complaining to my blog and enjoying a sherbet fountain.

Anyway, 2008 beckons! Tomorrow is the dawn of a new productive era of Zoomy! There'll be writing and memorising and achieving and weight loss! Sherbet fountains are low fat, right?

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Cross my palm with golden oldies

A train of thought today led me to think "I'm pretty sure I own a pack of tarot cards, somewhere. Perhaps I should find them and read my fortune for the year ahead, and write about the results in my blog. And even if I don't find them, I'm sure to find something blogworthy while I'm looking through all my old stuff..."

Well, I never realised I own such a lot of rubbish. Really, I need to throw some things away. The most entertaining things I turned up in the box of junk that sits next to my bed were a couple of old music cassettes - Kid Jensen's Favourite Chart Breakers and The California Raisins Sing The Hit Songs. There was a time, when I first got a walkman back in the late eighties, when the California Raisins tape formed the entirety of my music collection. I can't remember where it came from, presumably it was a present since I can't imagine going into a shop and thinking "Wow, I really must buy a California Raisins tape!" But you never know. I was a very strange child.

Kid Jensen's Chart Breakers, on the other hand, definitely came free with a Rubik's Magic puzzle (or possibly the puzzle came free with the tape - the pair of them together cost around 50p, anyway), bought in the Wise Owl drug store (and general junk shop) in Boston, at some point after spring 1987, which is when the eight hits in question were breaking the charts. Since I know you won't be able to live without knowing what Kid Jensen's particular favourites were at this point, here's the running order:

Pepsi & Shirlie - "Heartache" (entered chart Jan. 1987, highest chart position 2)
Johnny Hates Jazz - "Shattered Dreams" (entered chart Apr. 1987, highest chart position 5)
Fine Young Cannibals - "Ever Fallen In Love" (entered chart Mar. 1987, highest chart position 9)
Boy George - "Everything I Own" (entered chart Mar. 1987, highest chart position 1)
Five Star - "The Slightest Touch" (entered chart Apr. 1987, highest chart position 4)
Blow Monkeys - "It Doesn't Have To Be This Way" (entered chart Jan. 1987, highest chart position 5)
Living In A Box - "Living In A Box" (entered chart Mar. 1987, highest chart position 5)
Mel & Kim - "Respectable" (entered chart Feb. 1987, highest chart position 1)

Those descriptions are all you get on the inlay, there's no commentary from the Kid explaining why they're his favourite chart breakers, or anything like that. All eight songs, in fact, are rather good ones. I was thinking I could have a laugh about some song being considered anybody's favourite, but they're all quite nice, you can listen and sing along to them. So I thought I'd look up the singers on the internet and see what they're doing now.

According to this Wham fan site, which is the first one you get when you type 'Pepsi and Shirlie' into Google but hasn't been updated since 2001, Pepsi sings backing vocals for Geri Halliwell, and Shirlie is married to Martin Kemp out of Spandau Ballet and "London's smash soap opera The Eastenders". And apparently Pepsi and Shirlie's dancing was a crucial part of Wham's success. If you say so.

According to this Johnny Hates Jazz site, "there is no current news regarding the groups activities or any solo-projects that I am aware of." Good to know.

This VH1 website says that Fine Young Cannibals Dave Cox and David Steele continue to work together under various names, without adding any more detail, "while Roland Gift's hoped-for film career never quite took off."

Boy George is still vaguely in the public eye, I think - the ultimate homepage dedicated to him says that he'll be in Genoa Italy for the new year's eve. Whether he's performing there or just holidaying isn't clear.

The first result on Google for 'Five Star' is Five Star Professional Ranges, which is far more entertaining to me than knowing what they're doing now. However, I remembered that one of them was called Delroy, looked him up and it seems he's got an IMDb page. All the cool people have them nowadays.

The Blow Monkeys have apparently reformed recently, although a cursory internet search reveals absolutely nothing about them except websites mentioning their couple of singles in the eighties. I'm sorry, people, but if the first page of a google search for your name doesn't give me a fan site with news updates, you're not going to hold my attention. Their lead singer was called Doctor Robert, though, which is a very cool name.

The lead singer of Living In A Box, Richard Darbyshire has his own website that says he's giving one-to-one songwriting lessons in West London "in a bid to help younger artists to reach their goals". How nice of him. Marcus Vere, wonderfully, writes songs for the "Here comes a..." series of children's DVDs. Drummer Anthony Critchlow might be a sculptural lighting designer, or an associate in the litigation department of Bell, Rosenborg & Hughes LLP, or else he hasn't done anything in the last twenty years worthy of a mention on the internet.

Mel & Kim, whose hit "Respectable" was my favourite of Kid Jensen's favourites, I can probably write about without looking them up. One of them died young and I think the other was on Big Brother or something. Let's see... Kim Appleby's clearly still alive, so it must have been her. She has a website that says she's released a new song but doesn't mention Big Brother, so perhaps she wasn't on it after all. I still loved "Respectable", though.

David "Kid" Jensen is still a DJ on some obscure radio station, I think.