Sunday, February 26, 2006

A funny thing happened on the way to seeing Capote...

Paul: What seats do you have close to the front row?
Box Office: Well I can give you B14 and B15
Adam: Oh dang you sank my battleship

Theatre: Sunday in the Park with George

On Friday evening I finally got to see Sunday in the Park with George. It has been playing at the Menier Chocolate Factory in Southwark sine November and the season there has been completely sold out. It transfers to the West End in May ( but it was nice to see it in the smaller space of the Chocolate Factory (even if the seats are unreserved and not that comfy).

I took M to see it as he is a bit of a musical aficionado; well he has seen Mamma Mia three times so I figured this might be his cup of tea. Prior to the show we grabbed a bite to eat at an Italian restaurant and it was there where I explained the plot of the show to him, the artist George Seurat and the history of pointillism in between bites of lasagne. M commented later during interval this briefing was useful in explaining some aspects of the first half of the show.

I then was able to warn him that in the second half of the show the narrative really does something unexpected and moves forward 100 years. For some reason many people don't like this sort of thing and is the key criticism I always hear about the show. The problem is with audience expectations about what Sunday in the park with George is about. I think the show is about broad themes of art and family and life and the characters in the story are simply there to illustrate this. The show won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1984 so some people out there like it too.

The show has some of the great songs of musical theatre as well including "We do not belong together", "Putting it together" (which Streisand recorded and sort of made famous) and "Move on". I read once that a poll of cabaret artists voted "We do not belong together as one of the most emotional (think torch) songs ever written". I would tend to agree. I would also add that "Move on" would have to be one of the most inspiring songs ever written about life as well. The show may not leave you dancing in the streets, but it does make you think about your life and all its endless possibilities. M and I decided against drinks in Soho afterwards as we were far too much in a reflective meditative mood for all that.

This was a fantastic production of the show. The cast were excellent and provided the right balance of humour and drama to the story. Screen projections (rather than cardboard cut-outs that the original production has used) has really helped with the clarity of the story too. It will be interesting to see how well it does in the West End but it would have to rate on my rather organic and long list of best shows I have seen in London.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Some thoughts on Wanadoo as a broadband provider that I thought I would jot down and write to them about today after speaking to their tech support people (on the telephone no less).

A Letter to Wanadoo

As a new customer I would like to draw the attention of the Board that to the high number of failures provided by your company. I am sure I am not alone in this. I signed up with Wanadoo on 20 January 2006 for a wireless and talk package because it was competitively priced (not cheaper than others but competitive) and provided an easy means to register (online). Unfortunately, this was the only positive experience I have had with your company.

Wanadoo’s failures include:
  1. Failure to provide a basic broadband internet service. A call to a consultant today, 24 February, suggested that this is because your service is trying to connect a faster speed to what is possible on the telephone line. Meanwhile I will be a month without an internet service while you have been charging me for a service that I cannot access.
  2. Inconsistent advice provided by technical support staff. Call centre staff have been unwilling to accept there was a fault on the line and the first few calls I had to redo the same setup procedures as they would not accept that there was a fault.
  3. Misleading information provided by support staff. I phoned the technical call centre on 15 February and was informed that there was a fault on the line but that BT would take five working days to correct this. Calling back on 22 February, I was informed that I needed to call back Friday (that is, today) with no explanation provided as to why this was necessary. Now having very little trust in the advice provided I called back on 23 February and was told that if I rang back today then I should have a resolution of the matter. Today after ringing back I have been informed there will be another two working days before the matter is resolved. It is not clear if in my case a fault has been identified and that it is being addressed. Call centre consultants have said it is “stuck in the system”, it “was to be sent to BT but was stuck” or “it has been sent but has been stuck”. What they are really saying is your underlying company infrastructure cannot support your customers and is a failure.
  4. Failure to provide an email facility for reporting faults or correspondence. For an internet company, I find it unbelievable the only mechanism to contact Wanadoo is via the telephone. Furthermore, upon joining I was promised as per your own service standards to receive email confirmation that I was connected. This has not been forthcoming. I have had to ring up every time at a cost to myself in time and call costs. I have been promised call backs and these have never happened. I have had to put this letter in writing, as you do not have a published email address for handling complaints or enquiries.

And I thought Telstra was bad. I have a hunch however that I am not the only person out there dealing with their incompetence... Oh and I wish they would stick their country twang theme song in a place where the sun does not shine!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Where is the blog?

Simple really, I have been waiting for to connect me. It should have taken two weeks but they are taking five weeks and still counting... Great service...

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Scenes from Regent Street Saturday 01:14. Posted by Picasa

Scenes from Picadilly Circus Saturday 01:10 - Catching the night bus home Posted by Picasa

Friday, February 10, 2006

All fun and games

Given all the fun in the last month about politicians and their gay sex romps, a new internet game has been doing the rounds. It is actually fairly tame as the object is to tickle as many rent boys as possible, and in this case the reality was far far more sordid. Still it would be a career-challenging move to open it at your workplace…

Overheard at the Gym on Thursday...

Man #1: How long have you been coming here?
Man #2: Since Christmas…
Man #1: Oh really?
Man #2: Yeah…
Man #1: What'd you do tonight?
Man #2: Pecs

Theatre: Shuman Plan

On Monday night I was unfortunate enough to find myself watching the Schuman Plan at the Hampstead Theatre. For a major theatre with its own artistic director it was a little odd that they were presenting something that seemed like a high school drama class production. It was earnest enough to be one. The only difference I could see was that it lacked youthful energy and acne. Huge slabs of dialogue were taken up with political history and there was at some point a character playing former PM Ted Heath mincing it up with "Land of Hope and Glory" playing loudly in the background. Oh at this point it is probably worth mentioning Schuman was the French Minister who came up with the idea that would become the basis for the European Union.

A was a bit annoyed that we went to see crap theatre. But I thought it had potential as a story but the writer decided to ignore all that and focus on a polemic about Britain in the EU instead. Schuman didn't feature at all. It was just as well I nodded off at various points in the first half as that made it more bearable. I should have taken heed that the writer's previous work was a musical about the Eurovision Song Contest. Maybe he'll have better luck next time. Michael Frayn was in the audience and served an interesting reminder as to what good writers can do with political dramas (see "Democracy" and "Copenhagen").

On the way home we debated how the critics would see it. I anticipated that it would be a unanimous pan. And the Telegraph, and The Financial Times did, but someone from the Independent thought it was entertaining. Maybe they stayed for the canapes afterwards which did go down well…

Scenes from the Barbican Sunday 22:32. A chilly and quiet evening for all...  Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Film: Munich

I caught Munich on Sunday which was an amazing experience. Part of the movie reminded me of those classic movies from the 1970s about conspiracies, paranoia and brutal murders. Actually there was so much testosterone in this flick that at one point I wanted to tell the two annoying people behind me to "stop kicking the back of the fucking seat!" Mindful that after seeing a whole season of "The Sopranos" late last year and then for the next week I couldn't stop saying expletives (such as "I'm going to get some fucking water") I decided to put up with the annoying cinema goers and not create a scene.

Anyway the film was brilliant and no doubt will become a classic in its own right (but maybe not straight away). The acting, storytelling and filmmaking were all incredible. There was enough politics on both sides to give some insight into the motivations of it all. And perhaps there was a modern day morality tale in it that Spielberg sought for all of us to reflect upon…

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Scenes from outside Clapham Common Tube Saturday 16:49. People get really excited about the Clapham high street for some unknown reason. It really is a a tarmac jungle at this part... Outside the tube is also the best spot to be if you want to get your phone nicked by young lads riding on bikes at high speed... Posted by Picasa

Silly Soho bar bitches

American Man: You're from Brooklyn?
Ad: No I'm from Brisbane
American Man: Shouldn't you be wearing a t-shirt that says Brisbane not Brooklyn then?
Ad: What do you mean?
American Man: What's that you are wearing?
Ad: Clothes…

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Scenes from Charing Cross Tube Northern Line Wednesday 21:37. A slight modification to the station artwork involving a badly drawn iPOD. Then again, no Londoner should be without one... Posted by Picasa

Scenes from the Thames Wednesday 21:06. Tourists on the Jubilee Bridge = 2, Temperature = -2 Posted by Picasa

Scenes from the National Gallery Wednesday 16:09. Looking towards Whitehall and Big Ben. Temperature somewhere above freezing. Just... Posted by Picasa