Sunday, 28 September 2008

Having a massage

My 101 list appears to have been neglected a bit lately, but I can assure you that I'm working on a few of my ongoing or larger goals. For example, I'm reading at least one book a month (#1), blogging at least three times a week (#7, but you knew that already), trying new recipes (#87), and trying to find something to be happy and thankful for each day (#48).

Last night, I went to a combined bridal shower and hen's party. I know that sounds like trouble but, believe me, it was a great night and incredibly well behaved. As part of the festivities, the host hired a masseur (not that kind) so that guests could have chair massages (get your mind out of the gutter!). So, in the midst of the party, I got to enjoy 15 minutes of pure luxury in the hands of a genius, who rubbed and kneaded away at my tired and tense back, neck and shoulders.

I absolutely love massage (giving and receiving). Goal #42 was to treat myself by having a massage. I guess I've technically achieved that, but I'm going to put it in italics as a work in progress, as my massage last was really just a teaser, and a taste of what's to come when I have my full, 'real', massage. That's only fair, right? ;-)

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Royal India

We had a group dinner at Royal India in Allen St last night. (Two Indian group dinners in one week? Ah well!) It's always great to together and share a meal with friends.

So, here's my take on our dinner. First up, it seems like lamb is not the best choice here. I tend to order lamb at restaurants, as I seldom cook it myself (it's sooooo expensive here now). Ours was tough, overcooked, and probably not a good cut of meat to begin with. A quick scan through some other reviews shows that others seem to share our opinion. We ordered our curries to be medium-hot; they were very sweet, mild (at best), and largely tasteless. Considering that our dishes were promisingly labelled 'chef's specialty' and 'must try', I'm wondering about the standard of the rest of the menu.

And now the service. It becomes very awkward when waiting staff serve food in a manner which resembles a lolly scramble. For example, a fish dish was announced. We said we'd ordered chicken, to which the waitress said "yes", and handed over what was supposedly fish a few seconds ago. Hmmm. Reasonable prices, though, and a 25% discount with the Entertainment Book voucher helped soften the experience.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Asiana Cooking School

Last week, seven of us went to the Asiana Cooking School. I'd heard about the school from friends who had been with groups over the years and always thought "I must get a group together and do that". It finally happened.

We were lucky enough to have the place to ourselves and to be able to choose which menu we wanted to cook. I chose musaman curry with chili and coconut rice. They also offered vegetarian options, which two of our group appreciated.

Everyone has their own little kitchen setup, with a personal wok, chopping board, and cooking utensils. After a demonstration from the instructor, we were let loose with the menu, with varying degrees of success! It was lots of fun trying to cook a new meal with friends, and we got to enjoy eating it together while someone else did our dishes!

So here is the recipe we tried. It makes one large serving, so adjust quantities accordingly. We've decided to make it for friends when we have a dinner party.

Musaman curry

  • 150g meat (beef or chicken thighs)
  • 1/4 onion
  • 1/2 potato (par boiled)
  • 1 tsp musaman curry paste
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tsp tamarind pulp concentrate
  • 2 cardamon pods
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  1. Finely chop the onion. Cut potato into bite-sized chunks.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok over medium heat. Add in the musaman curry paste. Gently stir until the paste becomes soft and fragrant.
  3. Stir in chicken and onion. Stir for 1-2 minutes. Add potato, bay leaf, and cardamon pods to the wok and cook until lightly browned (about a minute).
  4. Pour in the coconut milk, tamarind pulp, and brown sugar. Bring to a gentle simmer. Cook uncovered until meat is tender and the sauce has thickened.
  5. Serve with steamed rice.

Chili and coconut rice

  • 1/2 cup long-grain rice
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp minced ginger
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp chili flakes (toasted)
  • 1 tsp toasted coconut
  1. In a pot, combine the coconut milk, water, rice, ginger, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, until crater-like holes form on the surface of the rice (about 3-5 minutes).
  2. Cover and continue cooking over a low heat for about 1-2 minutes.
  3. Turn off heat. Do not disturb the rice. Keep the lid on without peeping! (About 10 minutes)
  4. Fluff the rice with a fork. Transfer to a serving plate and sprinkle with toasted coconut and chili flakes.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Surprise shortbread

I haven't been well for a couple of weeks and my appetite is pretty much nil. I surprised myself today by suddenly feeling the urge to bake shortbread. This is most unusual, considering:
  • I've eaten the equivalent of half a meal a day for the past two weeks and still felt bloated and ill;
  • I haven't eaten shortbread in years;
  • I've never baked it in my life. I vaguely recall making some shortbread-type things with fancy cookie cutters as a child, but don't think it was actually shortbread.
A Google search found a quite a few recipes, which varied vastly in terms of ingredients, methods, cooking times, etc. I took a stab and picked this NZ recipe, which conveniently uses a food processor and doesn't require creaming butter. I found the instructions to be quite ambiguous, so here it is in plain English.

Café Chick's surprise shortbread

  • 150g chilled butter, cubed
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup cornflour
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar to sprinkle later
  1. Place all ingredients into a food processor bowl. Process gently until it resembles fine breadcrumbs, then continue processing until crumbs hold together. (Approximately 10 minutes)
  2. Using a 20cm spring form tin (round), line base with baking paper. Tip dough into tin and press evenly onto base.
  3. Remove outside ring before placing on oven tray. Using a sharp knife, mark dough into 12 wedges without cutting through. Prick at regular intervals with a fork.
  4. Sprinkle over extra sugar.
  5. Bake at 150 degrees Celsius for 50-60 minutes. Check to see if the shortbread is browning too quickly and lower temperature, if necessary.
  6. While still warm, slide onto a board (removing base and baking paper) and finish cutting into wedges. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Store in an airtight container.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Outrageous Fortune

I love the West family. I knew they were around for a couple of years, but didn't meet them properly until this year. Let me explain ... I had heard about how good Outrageous Fortune was, but wanted to see the series right from the start and thought a DVD marathon was the way to go. However, I got thrown into the deep end this year and started watching series 3 with my sweetie, and now I'm well and truly hooked.

This is not your typical kiwi drama (thankfully). The script is incredibly clever and witty. The characters are genuinely funny and three-dimensional; not the caricatures we so often see overacted on kiwi tv. It's no surprise that show cleaned up at the Qantas Film and Television Awards the other week.

Not being much of a tv person, and with Desperate Housewives finished for the season, it's now the only programme I make sure I watch every week. Without fail.

Each Tuesday, I get an hour to drool over the gorgeous Antony Starr, listen and absorb the philosophising of the adorable Munter, and roll my eyes over Pascalle's latest ditsy take on life. Check out Loretta's blog - it's hilarious.

Now, all I have to do is wait patiently for my next fix at 9:30pm. And I still want to do the DVD marathon of series 1 and 2 some day.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Getting there on the big day

I came across this article today about a bride who was using public transport to get to her wedding in Christchurch. I guess it's kind of a novelty, as most brides tend to go all out for their big day and few would choose to travel in such style.

One of the most memorable weddings I have ever been to started out this way. The groom said he'd organise for himself, his two brothers and their partners, and a couple of close friends to travel from his home in Christchurch to the wedding venue in Diamond Harbour. We packed overnight bags, as we were staying in an historic villa, and were told to hurry up because the bus was coming soon.

We didn't realise that "the bus" was actually a public bus that left from the end of his street. It was going to take us to the bus depot in town, where we'd catch another one to Lyttelton, then the ferry across to Diamond Harbour before walking up a hill to the wedding venue, all dressed in our glad rags!

The look on the driver's face as we hopped aboard the first bus was nothing less than sceptical, as the groom bid him good morning and said, "how much to get my family to my wedding?". I think he finally believed us once the guitar came out and we started a singalong in the back few rows of the bus. Other passengers joined in the party, too. We repeated this process as we picked up more people on another bus and a ferry, in 31 degree Celsius heat, and made our merry way to the wedding.

An experience I've never repeated.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Farewelling a kiwi icon

There's a general election coming up in New Zealand in November, but there seems to be an incredible apathy about the start of the political campaigns, which so far predominantly consist of personal mudslinging and very little to do with policy or substance at all.

One issue has got the country up and agitated though. Yesterday, it was announced that Cadbury Schweppes would stop producing Pascall Snifters, Tangy Fruits, and Sparkles due to falling demand. The shocked reaction from outraged New Zealanders at the removal of a piece of their collective childhoods was immediate. How will going to movies ever be the same without the clink of tangy fruits in their plastic containers, or the rustle of snifters bags. I didn't realise that sparkles were still available, but remember the rectangular tubes of square boiled lollies in red, orange, yellow, and green from when I was a child. Whatever next - no more jaffas??

Of the three, I have fond memories of sparkles, and was only very rarely allowed to buy tangy fruits (usually to share with my brother at the movies), but will always have a soft spot for snifters.

And so the outrage was instant. The Twitterers were tweeting. Facebook groups such as Save the Tangy Fruits, Snifters and Sparkles Group, Safe the Snifters and Bring Back Snifters popped up instantly. Polls appeared. Will they have any effect? Only time will tell.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

How fast are you?

A colleague blogged about Speedtest, where you get to try one of those old-fashioned speed typing tests. I learned to type at school, even though my school actively discouraged "academic" students to learn such menial skills. Along with music, I was asked at the end of my fifth form year (Year 11), "haven't you taken this quite far enough?". Apparently not. ;-)

Typing has been incredibly useful skill in my career and has also given me a headstart with design issues. It's been years since I tried a speed typing test (20, I'm guessing). I used to average 80-ish words on an electric typewriter (those were the days!). In those days, 5 characters constituted a word. I'm not sure how it works on this site.

Of course, curiosity got the better of me here, and I had to see if I could beat my colleague's score of 79 words a minute.

97 words

Speed test


Wednesday, 17 September 2008

A quick catchup

It has been a bleurgh couple of weeks for me. I've been unwell and am really getting tired of feeling this way. So here's a quick update on what's been going on.
  • I started reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I hope to have lots more reading time to achieve goal #67.
  • I missed out on getting tickets to the 2009 rugby sevens in Wellington. There were only 8500 tickets up for grabs and they sold out in ten minutes. :-(
  • A group of us are going to the Asiana Cooking School tomorrow night. We are making musaman curry with coconut and chili rice. I'm looking forward to it. :-)
  • I caught up with a friend earlier in the week. She and her partner were staying at their holiday home last weekend and caught burglars trying to break in while they were sleeping! Scary.
  • I haven't warmed to the new Facebook, but it's here to stay now. And I'm still mourning Scrabulous.
  • The days are getting longer and it's now light in the morning and evening. I can't wait for daylight savings to start in a week or so. It has been extended by three weeks every year now. Summer's coming! :-)
  • Work is really busy (again). Lots of long days and late nights. Glad to be working from home when I'm also sick.
  • That's it! (I think ...)
So, what have you been up to? What's news for you?

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Life is so good

I was at a friend's place for lunch on a stormy winter's day a few months ago and couldn't help browsing through her bookshelf. We discovered a shared love of biographies, and I borrowed the Iris trilogy off her. We got to talking about biographies which have made a lasting impression well after we've finished reading them and swapped titles to go away and seek out.

One biography she mentioned, and which I quickly found on TradeMe, was Life is So Good, by George Dawson and Richard Glaubman. Very Forrest Gump-ish in outlook, it's the story of 101-year-old George Dawson, the grandson of coloured slaves, born in 1898 in Marshall, Texas. He learned to read when he was 98 when he enrolled in an adult literacy programme. His outlook on life is so refreshing: "Every morning I get up and I wonder what I might learn that day. You just never know." The book's title sums it up perfectly: "Life is so good. I do believe it's getting better."

Growing up in the south during 20th century, in the midst of separatism after the abolishment of slavery in the US, George's life is simple, yet remarkable. He worked hard for more than seven decades, only retiring officially at the age of 65 because that's when the government declared him too old to work. That didn't slow him down, though. "People worry too much" is an underlying philosphy for George, who believes that common sense and a simple life will make people a lot more contented than the complicated life we lead these days. There's a lot of sense in that logic.

It's my friend's birthday next week. Guess what she's going to get from me?

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Duffy - Rockferry

I finally bought this album, after promising myself I would for several weeks. Rockferry, by Welsh singer/songwriter Duffy (aka Aimee Anne Duffy) was first released in March 2008.

Duffy's story is an interesting one. She had aspects of the obligatory traumatic childhood, spurred on by her parents' divorce and an alcoholic stepfather's ex-wife. (Still following me here?) I am intrigued that she dropped her first names personally professionally from the age of 19 and simply goes by her surname now. She also has a twin sister, Katy. Hmm, what would happen if Katy also dropped her first names? Or doesn't she have that option now that her twin has bagged their surname as her own?

There was something about "Mercy", the first track I heard on the radio, that immediately caught my attention. This song was new and fresh, and in a style reminiscent of yester-year. The rest of the album is fresh pop by nature, not particularly outstanding, but very pleasant and has struck a chord with listeners the world over. It's very enjoyable and currently doing overtime in my car stereo. I look forward to hearing what Duffy comes up with next.

You can watch the official videos for Mercy and Warwick Avenue on YouTube (no embed code available).

Friday, 12 September 2008

Breakfast news

A colleague blogged about this tonight, and it's weird enough for me to steal for myself.

This article from The Register describes a toaster that’s able to burn pretty much anything onto your morning slice, including the news. Called the Scan Toaster, it connects to a PC over USB and downloads everything from local weather conditions and the current time to the morning’s news headlines which it then toasts onto your bread.

Big question coming up: why??

Thursday, 11 September 2008

An iPhone for me?

Exciting news at work this morning. This was emailed to everyone by our IT manager:
"At this stage we have decided to purchase just two iPhones for evaluation purposes ... We will probably take 3 - 6 months to do a full evaluation ... We will then be in a better position to make some decisions on the possibility/viability of any wider use of iPhones within the company."
The excitement grew, along with the flurry of email replies. Who would be evaluating the phone? Is it me? Are you sure it's not? It could be ... are you really really sure? Oh, you are. Don't we need someone from Christchurch/Tauranga/Wellington/Auckland/Dunedin to test one and see what it's like in this region? Apparently the capital city needs more iPhones (according to the few of us staff who live here, and one of them is my project director, so no arguing with her!). No?

I can convince you that I need one - just look at the educational and organisational benefits!

I'll take good care of it and promise never to do this to it:

So, you can imagine my disappointment when we were informed that Winnie the Pooh, from our Christchurch office, was the lucky evaluator. Apparently he was selected because "if a bear of little brain and no fingers can cope with it then we figure it will be safe for wider staff use". Well, fair enough, especially when you use that logic.

Winnie the Pooh, from our Christchurch office
Officially the luckiest bear in the world

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Borat - "Come to Kazakhstan, it's nice!"

The other night, we spent an evening with Borat (2006). Better late than never, I know. I've long been a fan of the wit of Sacha Baron Cohen. Now I know that he's an absolute comic genius.

We loved it! Too many highlights (and embarrassing cringe moments) to single any out. The deleted scenes, including an incredibly tedious exploration of a supermarket shelf from an extremely patient supermarket owner, were really funny. The footage from Borat's publicity tour, especially Conan O'Brien's interview, were also highlights.

I see from my flagcounter that my blog has had three visitors from Kazakhstan. I wonder what they think of this parody of their country? Of course, the parody was largely focused on the US and A, but will this truly come across to all of Borat's viewers?

I really wish we had watched this at our movie night on Saturday, as planned, rather than the awful Deliverance (1972); it started going downhill as soon as the "Duelling Banjos" scene was over (right at the start!). If only everyone had instead listened to Borat when he said "come to Kazakhstan, it's nice!".

Monday, 8 September 2008

Sharing a secret

I came across PostSecret a while back, but have only just added it to my RSS feed today. It is a fascinating site, a voyeur's paradise (not quite).

"PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a postcard."
Updated every Sunday (Monday NZT), it's easy to get lost in the world of someone else's secrets. We may kid ourselves that we're not interested, but there's something to be said for finding out a secret and not getting caught or in trouble for knowing it.

What I love about the secrets posted on this site is that they are not all scandalous; some of them are incredibly touching and and sad. But all of them are blatently honest. This week's selection offers an enticing variety.

I got to wondering about what I could mail anonymously on a postcard, and considered how hard it would be to come up with something interesting enough that others would want to read. Then I really got thinking, and realised I was kidding myself; it probably wouldn't be too hard at all. We've probably all got secrets that fall into this category.

What would I post? Well, the only way you'd ever get to find out is if I went through and did it, and even then it would be anonymous (whew!). In the meantime, I'll read through and pontificate on a few more. Fascinating.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Spring flowers

In Christchurch on Thursday and Friday, I noticed that thousands of daffodils had been planted around the perimeter of Hagley Park in the city, and they were on their way towards blooming. Christchurch is known as the Garden City of New Zealand and there are scores of beautiful gardens in and around the city. It was lovely to see the spring flowers starting to bloom through all the cold and rain.

I went looking for daffodils to buy last Monday on the first day of spring, but couldn't quite find any ready for blooming. Today, back in Wellington, it is a gorgeous spring day and I've just been for a walk in the sun. Along the way, I saw buckets of daffodils for sale, and that meets goal #93 - Buy daffodils/freesias just because it's spring. I'll go hunting for freesias another time.

I also bought a discounted copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows today, in preparation for goal #67, which I am really looking forward to starting.

Hershey's Best Brownies

We were at a party last weekend and tasted the most divine chocolate brownies imaginable. The host said she was happy to share the recipe, but warned that it was "in American" and we would have to "translate it into kiwi". No problemo, I assured her! Google found me the original recipe for Hershey's best brownies, and I took it from there.

Hershey's best brownies (translated into kiwi)

  • 1 cup of butter (I used about 200g)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 4 eggs
  • ¾ cup cocoa
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
  • ½ cup chocolate chips (optional)
  1. Heat oven to 180°C.
  2. Grease baking pan approx 33cm x 29cm x 5cm.
  3. Place butter in microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted. Stir in sugar and vanilla essence.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well with spoon after each addition.
  5. Add cocoa. Beat until well blended.
  6. Add flour, baking powder and salt. Beat well. Stir in nuts or chocolate chips, if desired.
  7. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 30 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan.
  8. Cool completely. Cut into bars. Makes about 36 brownies.
We had a movie night last night and I'd promised to make dessert. We endured the ridiculous movie, Deliverance (1972) - "Duelling Banjos" is the highlight, believe me. But dessert was great. :-)

It's Father's Day today in New Zealand and, once again, I have promised to bake, so this will be my second practice at this recipe and another step towards goal #87 - Try 10 new recipes.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Travel tales

Travel stories. Everyone has got one (or several). It's not always obvious who has a travel tale and when they might share it, but there is something about airports that brings them to the surface.

I guess it's fair to assume that most people in airports are usually on their way somewhere or on their way back from somewhere. It's absolutely guaranteed that people on planes are heading somewhere. We can assume this because surely they wouldn't be on a plane if they weren't intending to travel? (Let's not think maniacal thoughts here.)

So why is it that, almost every time I check in for a flight, I'm allocated a seat next to a 'talker', ie someone who thinks I need to hear their travel (life) story/ies? Do the computers see my name scan in and think "ahh, I have the perfect seat buddy for you"? Don't get me wrong ... sometimes I don't mind at all. It's just something about it being implied that, because I am in a plane, I must be wanting to know why the person next to me is, too. It's ok - you don't need my permission or have to justify why you're there; I don't mind at all!

Think about it this way ... I regularly go to the supermarket; most of us do. We go there for food, because we either need to cook it or eat it. But, do we feel the urge to tell the person next to us in the fruit and vege section why we are selecting carrots or mushrooms, share with others what we will have for dinner tonight as we peruse the frozen food selection, or confess that we haven't actually cooked since 2006 and are a bit nervous about being in a supermarket after all this time and therefore can't wait to get out of there? ;-)

As I commute between Wellington and Christchurch every now and then (like today), I feel a mixture of intrigue and jealousy when bumping into former colleagues who inform me they are en route to Italy for five weeks instead of work for two days. (I wish her a great trip; really I do.) I can be moderately interested what rural folk who are leaving their farms for the first time in 12 years to fly to the big smoke and attend a farming convention have to say about city life. I try to sum up my job for those who are insistent enough that they do want me to explain what I do, even though they only asked in the first place to be polite, and when the reality is that even my poor mother has no idea what to tell people. (Doesn't that sound dodgy?) Heck, sometimes I can even provide reassuring comfort for nervous flyers.

BTW, I like the generic understanding which exists between early morning commuters, ie if the person next to you looks even remotely blurry-eyed, leave them in peace. I just wish cab drivers would pick up these vibes sometimes.

Ah well. We'll see who I end up sitting next to when I go home tomorrow night. Flying stories always different on Friday nights; they're told by people who are either really excited to be going out of town for a weekend, or those who are looking forward to going home after their working weeks. I'm usually one of them.

So, what are your travel stories?

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

My kiwi music favourites

While I was searching YouTube for a version of Gutter Black by Hello Sailor for yesterday's post, I came across some other kiwi songs. I got to thinking about which New Zealand songs made it to the top of my 'favourite' playlist on my iPod. Here's a selection, and a trip down the New Zealand music charts of yesteryear.

Tears - Jenny Morris
I love the bass, piano, and endless key changes in this 1990 remake of Jenny's band's original version (by The Crocodiles, from Wellington).

Victoria - The Exponents
Takes forever to build up and simply prolongs the perfection.

Sitting Inside My Head - Supergroove
Saw them live last year on their reunion tour. Whooooaaahhhhhh - HOT!

Honorable Supergroove mentions:
Can't Get Enough
You Gotta Know

I Hope I Never - Split Enz
Brilliant songwriting and piano playing here.

Don't Dream It's Over - Crowded House
Quite simply, a perfect song. Was really disappointed when they screwed around with the organ solo during their concert last year.

Slipping Away - Max Merritt and the Meteors
Some great old-time stuff. I remember this being on a compilation tape(!) my dad made years ago.

The Bridge - Deane Waretini
This is one for pure nostalgia. My grandparents wanted it played at their 60th wedding anniversary, and we hunted high and low for a copy of the song. Sooooo glad we did, as it now reminds all the grandchildren (18 of us) of that special occasion in the years since they both died.

You Oughta Be In Love - Dave Dobbyn
My favourite solo Dave Dobbyn offering.

Magic What She Do - DD Smash
Even though DD Smash wasn't Dave Dobbyn's best-known band, for me this is one of the ultimate 'feel good' songs.

Sensitive To A Smile - Herbs
Ohhh ... for some reason, every musician I've ever played with loves this one, yet doesn't want to tackle playing it with their own bands. Beautiful. A shame it was butchered for a series of TV ads.

So what do you think? Any of your favourites here? Or songs you haven't heard before?

Monday, 1 September 2008

10 quick music questions

A while ago, I unashamedly ripped off a readers' quiz that I found on someone else's blog. I'm going to do it again today, this time with 10 quick music questions.
  1. What was the most recent album you bought? Is it any good?
    I haven't bought much music in the past few months, but added to my jazz collection with a lovely Duke Ellington album called Sophisticated Lady. Yup, it's good. I'm also still meaning to get out and buy Duffy's Rockferry some time soon.
  2. What is the last music bio that you read? And would you recommend it?
    I love biographies, and especially music bios, so thought this one would be easy to answer. However, scrolling through bibliophil, I'm shocked to realise that the last music bio I read was two years ago and it was about Cleo Laine. Sheesh!
  3. You have one song to impress the crowd on Singstar. Assuming you can pick any relatively famous song to wow the audience, what would it be?
    I shudder at the thought of any form of karaoke *big big shudder*. But my answer here is the same as always: I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor. It's the song I played/sang best in my band, helped by the fact that I'm a disco diva.

  4. Name one artist that you heard several people rave about/recommend; you gave it a go and just didn’t get the hype at all?
    Coldplay. WTF?!?
  5. Name one artist that you were very late in discovering – but you really are pleased you gave a go/found out about.
    Ooh, there are lots. I go through phases in the styles of music I check out and subsequently collect. Eg last year I bought most of the Beatles back catalogue (with one or two still to come). I also had a phase of collecting female jazz/blues singers, and the 50s/60s lounge jazz/swing set (I don't really know how to describe it). Prior to that, I enjoyed getting into the Smooth Jazz series. So, no individuals here; just a plethora of styles encompassing several artists.
  6. You can invite five people around for one of those fantasy dinners. They all have to be musicians (dead or alive). Who do you choose?
    Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Freddie Mercury, Michael Jackson, Mozart
  7. What is your favourite TV theme from the past? And your favourite current one?
    This one gets tricky, as so many are enjoyed for nostalgic reasons, rather than true musical merit. I think the best all-time theme musically is still Hill Street Blues although, for me, The Muppet Show will always be up there. ;-) As for current themes, I'm enjoying hearing "Gutter Black" by Hello Sailor at the start of Outrageous Fortune each Tuesday. I know that's technically not a tv theme on its own, but it's the only thing I watch on tv these days, anyway.

  8. What is the one band that has yet to reunite that you would be interested in hearing again?
    Do all the members have to be alive? If not, it's Queen all the way with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble a close second. If alive, hmmm. Let me think about this one. Ok, got it: ABBA. Stop laughing - I'm serious.
  9. You have been given free tickets that you have to use. Only problem (if it is a problem) is you have a choice of seeing Westlife, Celine Dion or Crazy Frog. What do you choose and why?
    This question is truly cruel. What sort of sado-masochist would inflict this kind of misery on a musician? Hmmm. Westlife. OK, I said it really fast. Now just go away and stop scaring me.
  10. If you could make one current musician “disappear” – no questions asked – who would it be?
    Westlife - just before the concert I'm being forced to see. Or Shania Twain and all her wannabes. That would be good.
Now, your turn. Feel free to answer one or ten questions, or just let me know what you think of my choices. I'm still feeling traumatised by the thought of #9.