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News 2005

This is the news page from 2005. Current news can be found here.

To be the first to know about my latest goings on you can join the mailing list here

If you'd like to see some photos of rocks and pebbles I've balanced, try here. If you'd like to see some photos I've taken of other things, try here instead.


December 28th 2005

I'm having a relaxing time doing not very much over the festive season which is making for a very nice change compared to the frantic way I spent the last few months. I'm sure that any regular reader of this page will be delighted to know that I have done a bit of UK based rock balancing. Oh yes.

After an intense few months of work I'm in no rush to race back into things so I'm trying to be a bit picky about agreeing to any work commitments so it's just going to be a mix of old favourites I enjoy doing or new things that I'm confident will be more fun than anything else.

A good example of the latter is a new Radio 4 show; Banter. It's hosted by Andrew Collins and features Richard Herring as a regular panellist all of which leads me to believe it should be fun. It involves a studio audience so if you're interested in being there (it's in London) on January 15th, take a lookee in here.

From January 30th to February 3rd I'll be having a few early mornings and returning to Channel 5's The Wright Stuff. They also have a studio audience so if early morning topical discussion floats your boat you can call 020 7284 7710/7715.

I hope you have a happy new year.

December 19th 2005 [9 pics]

Once upon a time, before I was wearing a beard, I was at a do and Noddy Holder came up to me and said, "I like your sideburns." This made me very happy because no-one knows sideburns better than Noddy Holder. This week I was at a do and Sir Peter Blake approached me, saying, "you look like a painter." It gave me a very similar thrill. He was a lovely gent.

It's been two years since I've been to a Christmas party. That's odd.

As Christmas approaches and the end of the year hoves into view the temptation to look back on 2005 and reflect grows ever stronger. It's been another strange year... when I started performing my Googlewhack Adventure back in early 2003 I certainly didn't imagine that I'd still be touring it nearly 3 years later. But then I don't think I could ever have imagined it having quite the international appeal it seems to have had and it's that that has kept it on tour for so long. Now, 367 shows, a book and 2 book tours later I suspect that it's finally over. I have been offered some further dates in the States but I've decided to say no and to stay put for a while. It's time for a new challenge. I don't know what yet... but I'm enjoying not knowing what.

At the start of the year I wrote something about the novelty glasses that had appeared on New Year's Eve. It seemed to me - and it still does - that these glasses are very specific to our age. The ten years from 2000 to 2009 are the first that have had the double 0 in the middle in the age of mass production and so these must be the first years in which such items have been widely available. And from the year 2010 they will disappear once more, not to return for many years. I think this means they should be celebrated while it is still possible to do so and while I saw many pairs on New Year's Eve last year I'm sad to say that I haven't see many during the year itself.

It's as if people have treated them as nothing but a one-day novelty when actually, more than any other item, they are clearly valid for the whole year. I've certainly treated my two pairs as such. They came with me to LA back in March. They came with me to Niagara Falls in April, too. I had them with me in San Francisco, Cleveland and Aurora too. They came with me to The Grand Canyon, they revisited LA and they were still with me when the tour ended in Seattle. I'm wearing them right now as I type this. But I'll discard them when the year is out... when they've served their full 365 day term and not before.

I hope you have a great Christmas/Hanukah/Kwanzaa/whatever. I wish you well for 2006, too. I don't know what the year will bring, but hopefully it will involve something I'll want to tell you about one way or another. Pip pip.

December 17th 2005

As my tour is over, I've obviously stopped writing On Tour With Dave Gorman for the Guardian. The final piece is in today. I enjoyed writing them - it felt like I was sending a postcard to thousands of people each week and it was nice to stay in touch with Blighty. While I'm not very keen on further travels right now, I hope I'll be able to do more of this kind of thing in the future.

December 14th 2005

Now that I'm back I've updated my International Fridge Magnet Collection.

December 13th 2005

When I read something and I know the voice of the person who wrote it (like this for instance) then that's the voice I hear in my head as I'm reading. If you're the same and you're imagining my dulcet tones right now then for the sake of accuracy I ought to tell you that you'll need to imagine it a little croakier than normal and with the odd - ack - wince of pain too.

I wrote recently about my annoyance at discovering that the American producers had sold two shows a day to several of the venues on the US tour. It was particularly annoying because when they were promoting the show in New York they were very aware of the problems associated with doing that but several months later, perhaps with their thoughts elsewhere, they seemed to forget all about it. Well, on the final day of the tour it finally proved to be a real problem.

On Saturday there was a 5 o'clock show and a 9 o'clock show. Part way through the first show I felt something crack at the back of my throat and was then in pain for the final 40 or 50 minutes. When I came off stage I wanted to see a doctor because I was naturally concerned about doing any permanent damage. It was hastily arranged and a mad dash across town took me to a surgery in Ballard for an examination.

It turned out that the overuse of my throat has given me a nodule. I was a bit panicked when I heard this. "Nodule" wasn't a word I wanted to hear because I was pretty sure that years ago Elton John's career had been threatened by the presence of nodules on his throat. The doctor explained that it's basically equivalent to a callus and that it had cracked during the last show which accounted for the pain. He reassured me that while it would hurt to perform the show again it wouldn't do any permanent damage and he gave me something to help ease the pain a little. The show went ahead. The crowd were one of the best of the run which is lucky because the show was, understandably, not one of the best I'd done - hey, I had an open wound on my throat - but they had enough energy to make up for my slight wobbles.

All in all it made for a strange and dramatic end to the rollercoaster ride that was my Googlewhack Adventure. I spent Sunday morning in Fremont (pictures) which was fantastic. They have a Sunday Market there that reminded me of Spitalfields - a regular Sunday morning haunt for me in London - and I felt like I was already home. I could happily live in Fremont.

I had an uneventful flight home. Do you remember when BA were cancelling flights because their caterers were on strike? That feels like a long time ago. That was what was happening when I flew out to the States. When they served a meal on the flight home I suddenly realised how long I'd been away. I'm home now. I'm resting my voice. I'm resting everything.

December 10th 2005 [2 pics]

The final day and the final two shows. When I started performing this show back in March 2003 I had no idea it was going to so dominate my life. In the last 2 and three quarter years I've performed the show 365 times not to mention writing the book and doing two book tours. By the end of tonight it will be 367 shows.

Seattle has provided me with some lovely treats for the final week. I've written before about how much I enjoy it when one of the people involved in the show gets to see it (most recently here) and it's happened for the last two nights.

Lisa and Tom, also known as Hippoc@mpi Wallp@per came along on Thursday night and it was great to be able to spend some time with them afterwards. The other Seattle based googlewhack, Optic@lly Scriveners, belonged to John and Chris who did get along to see the show in New York back in January but came along again last night with a large group of friends. Here we are with a small number of their posse.

Right. Now I have to pack.

December 8th 2005

Just three more days and four more shows and the googlewhack adventure will finally come to rest. How strange to have been saying those words over and over again for so long and to so many people. Odd. The Seattle run is proving to be a fine send off for the show. While the size of the audience can vary greatly they always seem to be up for it and the show is really rattling along which is great because I'd hate for it to end on a damp squib.

There's a very nice review in The Stranger today. It'll make you proud to be British. If indeed you are British. If you're not, it'll make you wish you were. It's here.

December 1st 2005

I'm really enjoying Seattle. The second show was probably one of the best so far on this tour and really seemed to rattle along. There's a good review of the first show in the Seattle Times this morning too so it feels like we've hit the ground running.

I always like it when reviewers understand that it isn't really a show about computers and this reviewer definitely gets that. I know that the poster-quote they'll use will be, "a brilliant, humanistic tale of procrastinating, enabling, and side-splitting storytelling", but the most exciting part for me was the news that "Gorman is not inherently geeky". You see; I'm not a geek. It's official; it's in the Seattle Times. So there.

The whole review is on the reviews page.

This is quite possibly the most fascinating book I've read all year. Using the analytical eye of an economist to look at the world it constantly challenges you to look beyond your gut reaction and to see things as they actually are. If drug dealers are all making easy money, why do so many of them live with their Mom? You'll definitely find yourself liberally quoting facts from it over dinner. Unless you eat alone. In which case you'll be thinking about it.

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

cover

Back to the top of the news page. See all the books I've recommended so far here.

November 30th 2005

I was very happy with the first show here in Seattle. When I performed in Green Bay following a short break I was disappointed by myself for allowing the show to get a bit too loose and unfocussed so I was determined not to make the same mistake here and spent a good part of yesterday - when I wasn't doing press - trying to ensure that I was thinking about the show and not taking it for granted. It was time well spent and although I went slightly awry when discussing creationism the show was soon back on track and everything else was as tight as it should be. A nice crowd and a good show.

November 27th 2005 [pic]

I used to detest Los Angeles... it seemed like a soulless place; shiny on the outside but with nothing much to offer but every time I come here I find I like it more than the last and it's just occurred to me that I think I actually like it. I can't think why.

Still, I'll be glad to be heading to Seattle tomorrow, as much as anything because this is supposed to be a tour and it doesn't feel like one when I'm basically sitting on my thumbs, taking photographs, balancing rocks and taking photographs of rocks I've balanced. (Not all at the same time you understand; you can't do the others if you're sitting on your thumbs.)

This will be the final two weeks of the tour and - in all probability - the final two weeks of this show, not just for now, but for good. It's been the dominant part of my working life for a goodly while now and it's strange seeing the end of the rollercoaster ride in sight.

November 24th 2005

Happy Thanksgiving - if you're that way inclined. This is my third Thanksgiving and it's always an odd experience. The final episode of Genius went out this evening. That's been odd too; being overseas while the series has been broadcast... although I don't know why it seems odd... it's not as though, if I'd been in the UK, I'd have cycled over to the BBC each Thursday to press the play button on the tape recorder. (Yes, I'm sure that's what they use.)

November 15th 2005

The run in Green Bay was all too short. I was expecting it to be freezing cold and inhospitable and - because I know about the Green Bay Packers being a huge NFL team I was expecting it to be a big city too. Instead we had unseasonably pleasant weather and it was a nice small friendly town that manages to sell out a 70,000 seat stadium every game even though the population is only just over 100,000.

The theatre was an amazingly attractive building and everything about the organisation from the management to the technical staff were really good at their jobs. Which meant I was particularly disappointed with myself for giving a bad performance on the opening night. It's the first time in a long time that I've been unhappy with myself onstage and I really didn't think I did the job well enough.

The next two shows were great though and in spite of my concerns the first show received a good review in the Green Bay Press Gazette so I shouldn't complain.

I've now flown to LA and like everyone in LA, I'm here to "take some meetings." Really. It sounds much more impressive than it is.

November 10th 2005

I had a very early start yesterday as I was promoting the Green Bay shows on a breakfast TV show at 5.30am. After that I had a bunch of radio shows to visit and another TV show to do. I especially enjoyed the last one (WAPL?) as I was sitting in with the hosts for a whole hour instead of the usual in-and-out 5 minutes.

Setting up the technical side of the show went smoothly and the theatre is probably the most beautiful I've worked in for some time.

November 8th 2005

Thanks to everyone who e-mailed me offering me copies of Genius but I've managed to make my computer work properly with the BBC player and so I've now heard the second episode. Richard Madeley was every bit as funny as I remember him.

I've been in Chicago for quite a while now which is fine because Chicago is a grand place to be but odd because it wasn't a scheduled stop on the tour and I haven't been doing any work so it feels rather like the brakes have been applied. But today we fly to Green Bay to resume the tour - if only for a few days. I've bought some woolly gloves.

November 3rd 2005 [pic]

I'm still in Chicago where I'm struggling to make the BBC's listen again feature work on my computer because, oddly enough, I want to listen to episode two of Genius. I know that might sound odd because obviously I was there so I should know what happened but Richard Madeley was an inspired guest and it ended up being one of the longest recordings as a result... with a lot of the time being taken up by me giggling. I don't know how I would have gone about trying to cut it down to a fluid 30 minutes and thankfully I didn't have to do that job, but someone did and I'm very curious to discover how it came out.

 

Oscar Wilde meets Ian Fleming. It's a camp, witty, dark and amoral tale about an Edwardian-era James Bond but more importantly it's a real ripping yarn. I was about to say that I hope Mark Gatiss isn't too busy being one of the League of Gentlemen to send Lucifer Box off on further adventures, when I discovered that he already has

The Vesuvius Club; A Lucifer Box Novel

If you're that way inclined, it's also available as a graphic novel.

cover

Back to the top of the news page. See all the books I've recommended so far here.

October 31st 2005 [pic]

I made my first ever jack o'lantern. I'm very happy with it. Happy Halloween.

October 25th 2005

I sometimes wonder if anyone reads this page or whether I bother typing in this nonsense and adding the pictures for no reason. And then I post something that sparks a number of e-mails and I realise that there are a few people out there reading this. My last entry was one of those.

It prompted three types of e-mail. The first came from angry residents of Fort Lauderdale and Miami, telling me that the hurricane wasn't going to strike until after the shows and accusing me of using the hurricane as an excuse to cancel shows because I had a sore throat. Believe me, if I was sneaky enough to do that, I also think I'd be clever enough to not mention the sore throat in the first place. It's like saying the dog ate my homework... which incidentally, I hadn't done.

The decision to cancel the shows was made on Wednesday before I'd done the final two shows in Gainesville - so I was in full voice at the time - and the decision wasn't taken by me. On Wednesday the media were predicting that Wilma would be in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday or Sunday. The venue and the show's producers couldn't really send us there knowing that a hurricane was predicted because they would have to be responsible for us being safely evacuated had it been necessary so they decided not to send us in there.

The second type of response also came from people in that area asking me if the shows were going to be rescheduled. The answer is that I don't know... but I doubt it. If it was in the UK - I'm sure it would be, because I live there, can work there whenever and can travel to wherever in a matter of hours. My time in the US is limited, my work-visa is limited and the costs of coming back to Florida just to stage three or four shows is probably prohibitive. If it can be rearranged while I'm here then I'd love it to be... Fort Lauderdale sounds like a great place and I'm sorry not to be spending some time there.

The third type of response I got was from people telling me about the naming of hurricanes and answering my question about what happened between Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. Thanks for that.

As it happened the hurricane slowed down and lost a lot of strength - alhough it still did a lot of damage. It didn't hit the Fort Lauderdale area until Sunday night/Monday morning so the shows would have been unaffected but our travel out of the area would have been and I don't know how many people would have wanted to come and see the show when they had a weather channel to watch on the TV and then outside their window. Heigh ho.

In the meantime the tour is now on Plan B (or maybe it's C or D) and we've been put up in Chicago for a while. It's a great city but having spent the last chunk of time in Arizona and briefly Florida, the cold is definitely a shock to the system.

Meanwhile, Genius, the Radio 4 show that I recorded earlier this year, starts its run on Thursday... the guest in episode one is Paul Daniels. It feels a bit weird being out of the country while it happens although I'm not sure why. Anyway... I hope you can listen to it and I hope you enjoy it.

October 20th 2005 [pic]

In the UK it would be impossible for one of my shows to be arranged between a venue and a producer without me knowing about it and agreeing to it. You'd think that would be obvious wouldn't you ... after all, it's me that actually has to do it. Unfortunately that lesson has taken my American producers some time to learn.

Before this tour started I discovered that they had sold 8 shows a week to venues. It's nice to know that the demand was there but it's also not possible for me to perform this particular show that often. If you haven't seen it, it probably sounds like I'm moaning because, surely, it's just talking right? But it isn't really. It's a really physical show, it feels like going to the gym every night, and there are several sustained rants of blood, guts and fury that tear my throat apart each night.

I spend a lot of time between shows taking medicines to help my voice recover from the damage the last show did before then repeating, and worsening, the damage that night. For this reason I've never relished doing the show twice in one day and would want to avoid it whenever possible. Sadly my American producers had sold two-show-days several times to venues without bothering to ask me if it was okay. It must be tempting as a salesman to sell as much as you can to people... especially if you're not the person who's actually going to have to do it.

Most of these situations were resolved before the tour started but there were a few places where that wasn't really an option and Gainesville was one of those. Most of the venues on this tour are taking the show for a week or two which offers some flexibility... but Gainesville had booked 3 shows in 2 days. I did a 7.30 show on Tuesday while on Wednesday there was a 7.30 and a 10pm show... which gave me a 30 minute break before starting again. Twenty minutes in I was in pain and this morning I can't really talk much. If I had a show tonight I think I'd be forced to cancel it... but I haven't, more on that later.

What makes this all the more frustrating is that I don't think the late show should have gone ahead at all. I looked in the local listings papers and none of them mentioned that the late show even existed. The 7.30 show was there but not the 10pm. If one paper hadn't listed it, it would look like an error on their part but when all three of the local papers haven't listed a show it seems more likely that the venue haven't sent them the correct information. And it was reflected in the ticket sales.

On Tuesday we'd sold 4 tickets for the late show on Wednesday. By Wednesday that had doubled. Woo hoo. By show time it was around 18 people. It's as if a wealthy fool had booked that late show especially for him and his friends and insisted that information about its existence shouldn't leak out into the public domain.

Amazingly, it went well... although not as well as either of the two early shows had gone. But this morning I'm in pain, I can't talk and it hurts when I swallow and I have to wonder whether or not it was worth it. Of course the audience who turned up deserved a show... but shouldn't the venue have some responsibility in this situation also? Why buy a show into your venue and then not try to sell it to the public?

This afternoon I was supposed to be flying to Fort Lauderdale for shows tonight through Sunday but as Hurricane Wilma is also thinking of heading there this weekend, the venue and the producers have decided in their wisdom that it's unwise for us to go there and the shows have been cancelled. I've never had a show cancelled because of a hurricane before. How exciting. I hope it doesn't wreak too much havoc, mind.

Incidentally, if they name these things alphabetically, how did we get so quickly from Katrina, via Rita, to Wilma wihout hearing much about hurricanes L, M, N, O, P, Q, S, T, U and V?

We're staying put in Gainesville for another day while we work out a Plan B. I'll spend today being silent and sampling the various lozenges available in the various pharmacies in the hope that one of them can work magical restorative powers for my voice.

October 17th 2005

Yet again I was surprised by how responsive the audience were for the Sunday matinee show. In most of the cities we visit on this tour the run ends with a Sunday matinee which I expected to be a bit a damp squib but instead it is turning out to be a really enjoyable way to bid farewell to each venue.

Smirnoff make vodka don't they? When I see the Smirnoff brand on a bottle I think it's reasonable to assume that it probably contains vodka. I mean, that's what they do. I'm not much of an alcopop consumer but I was pretty sure that I knew that Smirnoff Ice was some kind of vodka drink because, well, because it has Smirnoff on the label.

Not in America it's not.

A friend had a bottle the other day and on tasting it remarked, "that's odd... it doesn't taste the same as it does in England." They took another swig, pulled a face and took a look at the label where they were surprised to see some small print declaring it to be a 'flavored beer drink.' We were slightly aghast at this... it made no mention of vodka being in there... in fact it didn't appear to contain anything that it should have done. Not even the 'u' in flavour.

If you don't believe me, check out their own F.A.Q. where, amongst the self serving questions, you'll discover that vodka isn't in Smirnoff Ice because it was "created as a beer alternative" ... unless you're buying it in Canada, Brazil, Ireland, South Africa or of course England when yes, it does actually contain vodka.

There's probably some law preventing Smirnoff (and other alcopop makers) from selling them with spirits in here in America but is it reasonable to sell two identical looking - but radically different - products in two different countries. It's like picking up a tube of Pringles and then discovering that, in America, they don't actually contain any potato. Or buying a jar of Marmite and discovering that, heaven forfend, it isn't a yeast extract.

It is better to have no Marmite here at all than it is to have some phoney not-Marmite-in-a-Marmite-jar confusing innocent consumers and it would surely be better to not have this weird non-vodka-Smirnoff drink too.

October 16th 2005

One of the questions I hear regularly from people after the show - especially here in America - is "How many words do you actually say?" or "How can you say so much so fast?" I don't know the answer because there isn't a script - the words aren't on paper anywhere and so there's no way of counting them but I do know that it's a relatively long show and that I get through a lot of words-per-minute.

I mention this because yesterday I wasn't alone onstage as the show was being signed for the hard of hearing also. I should think this is one of the hardest shows going to sign for. Not only are there a lot of words happening very quickly but there are also several words for which there isn't a specific sign. There isn't really time for the signer to spell coelacanth and while a synonym might do for bamboozled, say, a synonym isn't quite right because it is the arcane nature of the words involved that made them googlewhacks.

The signer - a really nice woman called Patti - was great and we spoke before the show about the best way of doing it as she'd been to see the show the day before. Fortunately there's a lot of visual information in the show as well, so in the brief interludes when the pace of the show really gets going the best way of Patti following the show was to just indicate towards the screen and let it speak for itself.

I'll be sorry to leave Scottsdale. It's been the most enjoyable stop on the tour so far and the audiences have been great - especially this last Friday. It's been like being on holiday with much more to occuppy a traveller than in our previous stops.

One more show to go and then a horrible overnight flight to Florida.

October 14th 2005 [2 pics]

I took a drive out to the Grand Canyon on Wednesday. It was a 500 mile round trip but it was definitely worth it. The show has, in one way or another, now taken me to see The Grand Canyon, The Great Wall of China and Niagara Falls which I stupidly thought were all "7 Wonders of the World" © ®

It turns out that I'm completely wrong and my naive assumption that I'd now seen 3/7 of the world's wonders is incorrect. I was wondering what else qualifies as a "Wonder of the World" © ® so I had a quick look around the internet using some search engine or another (I can't remember which) and discovered that there are several different lists. The only seven that seem to enjoy a broad agreement are the seven ancient wonders of the world ... of which only the Great Pyramid of Giza is still standing so when it comes to viewing the "7 Ancient Wonders of the World" © ® it's only possible to see 1/7th of them and I haven't even done that.

Most people seem to have the Grand Canyon on a list of Natural Wonders though I'm surprised that Niagara Falls doesn't makes it on to that list and while The Great Wall of China is obviously not a natural wonder, I'm amazed that it rarely gets a mention on any of the lists because it's definitely one of the most wondrous things I've ever seen.

It seems that the original "7 Wonders of the World" © ® list was compiled by Greeks way back when and they didn't know that the Great Wall of China existed (or Stonehenge for that matter) and so it didn't make it on to the list. But why, as the collective knowledge of the world grew, people didn't promote the Great Wall of China and demote The Lighthouse of Alexandria, say (I don't know, I've never seen it) or why the world didn't decide that there were now 8 Wonders of the World doesn't make much sense to me.

Anyway... as far as Natural Wonders of the World go, I've now seen my first official Wonder © ® and the Canyon is something truly remarkable to behold. I took a light aircraft flight over it and loved every minute of it... even the minutes when I was tightly gripping the seat in front of me because of the turbulence. I'd recommend it to anyone.

Back in April I wrote about how it was impossible to capture Niagara Falls in a photograph but impossible not to try over and over again to do so. It was the same with the Grand Canyon - I took hundreds of photos but none of them convey the magnitude of it properly.

Here's one attempt and here's a picture of me dangling my feet over the edge of the most impressive hole I've ever dangled my feet over the edge of.

October 12th 2005

I'm continuing to enjoy my time in Scottsdale. This really is a beautiful part of the world and the most relaxed I've been on the tour. To make things even better I've had the good fortune to be joined by a couple of friends from the UK who brought a jar of Marmite. Gorgeous sunshine and the yeast extract of my dreams... what more could a man ask for? It's the best of both worlds.

Quite a backlog of e-mails had built up in the last week. As I made my way through it I learned that the episode of the retro-panel-game What's My Line? that I took part in back in August was broadcast a few days ago and, more surprisingly, that I was recently the answer to a question on The Weakest Link. How odd.

October 7th 2005 [2 pics]

I'm enjoying Scottsdale much more than I enjoyed Aurora... but then that isn't difficult. This is a truly beautiful part of the world and I took the opportunity on Monday to drive out to a town called Sedona and to visit Slide Rock Creek. I've seen this landscape before, but only in a Roadrunner cartoon. It really is spectacular. And the 150 mile drive was better than a day of mini-golf.

The city of Scottsdale also offers plenty to see and do... and here's some love from me to you.

The shows are going well here also with a great venue that really fits the show and two great audiences so far. People had warned me about discussing Creationism here as it's perceived by others as being a place where Creationism is likely to be rife. But so far, that part of the show has gone over really well and without the awkwardness that I sometimes perceived in Cleveland, say.

Maybe I've subtly adjusted how I deliver this show over the last few weeks to account for the potential to offend or maybe the people of Scottsdale are just more comfortable with the subject being discussed. Maybe they're aware that other parts of America think they're more likely to be Creationists and so enjoy the opportunity to demonstrate with a chuckle that they're not. Or maybe tonight the audience will storm out in protest and I've just been lucky so far.

I had a surprise waiting for me after the show last night in the shape of yet another Dave Gorman. He's the 109th namesake that I've now met. It seems so odd to me that so many years after I stopped looking for them they continue to come and find me. I was originally trying to find 54 (one for every card in the deck, including the jokers) and once I'd achieved that, naturally, I stopped looking. I completed a second deck's worth back in April in Toronto, and now, I guess a third deck has been started. It was a pleasure to meet him and here we are.

October 3rd 2005

Relations between me and the venue turned a little sour on the final day - not that they were ever wonderful. The contract we have with the venue stipulates that publicity for the show will be posted in front of the theatre which I would have thought was an unnecessary stipulation until I visited Aurora where the fact that they were a theatre wasn't even on the front of the building.

This led to a situation where we decided to threaten to cancel the show unless they put up signs telling people that the show existed and finally, on the last day, they relented. While every other show had seen 20 paying customers fail to appear with the magic addition of signs to help people that number was cut down to one. As if by magic! Tadaaa! Oh no... it's not magic is it... it's common sense. What followed was a really enjoyable show too.

I was really sceptical about the Sunday matinees being on the schedule before the tour started but they've been consistently good shows so far so, while I don't understand why someone would want to spend their Sunday afternoon in a theatre, it seems that those who do have been great audiences.

It's a shame that things had to get so unpleasant between the venue and us - especially as the technical crew and the ushers and front of house staff were so friendly and easy to work with.

Heigh ho. We're in Scottsdale, Arizona now. It's 1am. It's hot out.

October 2nd 2005 [1 pic]

Last night I did the best and worst shows of my time in Aurora back to back. There was a 7 o'clock show that had a good number of people in, a nice atmosphere and went really smoothly. Probably the best show I've done so far this tour. That was followed by a really small house and a slightly late-night drunken atmosphere and a lot of kind smiles from people who were tired. Very frustrating.

What makes it all the more frustrating is that for three nights running there have been around 20 people missing from each audience. These are people who've bought tickets and then failed to turn up. There are always likely to be a few no-shows for one reason or another but when it's a significant number and it's a regular occurence it's obvious that something isn't right. Every night after the show when I chat to the audience there are always a few stories from people who tell me that they struggled to find the theatre and nearly gave up so that seems as good an explanation as any as to why there are so many people failing to show.

This really shouldn't be possible because theatres are normally, by their nature, showy places. They like to advertise that they exist and they like to advertise the shows they are currently presenting. That doesn't seem to be the case here in Aurora where the front of the venue looks like this. It looks more like a building you'd have to visit to pay a parking fine than a theatre. There isn't one sign on the building to tell people what it is let alone anything advertising the show.

Trying to explain to the venue that people are telling me they can hardly find the place and that some kind of signage might help seems to be met with blank stares and when some of the ticket-buying public fail to turn up they scratch their heads and seem confused by it all. Oh well. The technicians here have been really friendly and easy to work with, the audiences have by and large been great, the reviews have been good... but unfortunately I can't pretend that I'll be unhappy to leave Aurora tonight.

October 1st 2005

There's a good review in the Chicago Tribune today which makes the theatre's unhelpful attitude all the more frustrating.

He says, "If there's a funnier, smarter piece of comedy about the Internet - then I haven't seen it" which is very nice of him, although to be fair I'm not sure that "Comedy About The Internet" is really a big genre. Then again, I don't really think the show is about the internet. However, he does add other kind words and the show is, apparently, "uproariously funny" which seems to me to be one of the best ways one's funny can be described.

I'm constantly amused, amazed and flattered by the people reviewers compare me to with this show. I know it's an attempt to explain things to an audience that doesn't know of me... but one day I'll have to compile a list because I think it makes for odd reading. This time I get "a cross of Michael Palin, Eddie Izzard, Dave Eggers and Steve Jobs", yesterday I was compared to Bill Cosby and the New York Times review way back when namechecked David Sedaris, Steve Martin, Salvador Dali and Mussolini! As usual, I've added this latest review to the reviews page.

This is Simon Napier Bell's scurrilous, gossipy memoir of swinging 60s London and beyond. But he was definitely there. Surely anyone who's been rescued from a brothel by Keith Moon is worth hearing from.

You Don't Have To Say You Love Me

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September 30th 2005

The first show in Aurora went really well... with a small but really great audience who were into it from the start. The second show was a much more mysterious affair. A group of twenty people failed to show up - presumably because they were wandering around Aurora trying to find the theatre, unaware that the unassuming red-brick building with no signs and no show-advertising was what they were looking for. For the first half hour there was almost no response at all but ever so slowly they started to thaw and by the end of things they were behaving as an audience. Maybe it took them time to adjust to my rhythm or my accent or maybe I started the show in an overly earnest manner or... or who knows. It came good in the end.

I stayed to chat with a few of the audience and a few of them commented on how little promotion they'd seen locally so at least I'm not imagining things. There is however a great review in today's Aurora Beacon News which should help. I'm incredibly flattered by any comparison to Bill Cosby and surely it's a rare thing for a reviewer to tell the readers that he's going to go and see a show again and that he actually intends to pay for a ticket! I've added the full review to the reviews page.

I think I must have gone on a bit too much about the rock and pebble balancing that I've been up to... a Canadian chap who's obviously been reading this page has sent a parcel to the theatre here in Aurora containing some pebbles.

September 28th 2005

Well I know one more thing about Aurora and that's that it is home to a hotel that stinks of sweat and other bodily fluids. I'd never walked into a hotel room and been quite so knocked back by a stench before. Hmmm. Curious that someone might recently have died in my room I visited the room of my Slovenian Tour Manager (he's Slovenian, not the tour) and discovered the same aroma was there also. First purchase: air fresheners. Lovely.

Cleveland ended on a nice note with a great final show on Sunday afternoon to a small but really enthusiastic audience. They even had the good grace to applaud as I entered, unlike one of the Saturday audiences.

I then had a day off on Monday in Aurora. I don't know what you'd do with a day off in Aurora but I went on a bit of a mini-golf marathon, playing a friend on three courses. (2-1 to me yesterday although I'm 3-2 down over all time, since you ask.)

The marketing here in Aurora isn't filling me with much hope. I haven't seen any. The first thing I saw when I arrived at the smelly hotel was a poster for a show in the Copely Theatre after me. I can't help thinking that a poster for my show wouldn't be a good idea. I haven't seen a poster yet and there's nothing outside the theatre to announce that it exists or that the show is on. Hmmm.

I went in to Chicago yesterday to do some press for the show, appearing on a radio show hosted by Mancow (presumably he's so named because he speaks a lot of bull) and on another, friendlier show hosted by Steve Cochrane. The Mancow was an amazing experience. He has a bunch of sidekicks, including one called Turd. Mancow (I don't know his real name) would fade the microphones, say something offensive, then fade them back up again and point at Turd who'd then repeat the comment as though it was his own idea.

While discussing the horrible news story about the US soldier, Lynndie England being sentenced to gaol for abusing Iraqi prisoners (Mancow thinks she should be released because she's "retarded" and after all, "who really cares about the Iraqis?") he faded the mic and said, "I love retarded girls... they're easy... they always say 'yes.'" Then he faded the mics back up and pointed at Turd who repeated the comment so that Mancow could then respond to it. It was all pretty repulsive. I don't think Turd offered one comment of his own during the time I was in the studio. What kind of job is that? Sitting in a studio saying offensive things that someone else has told you to say?

While I can't imagine many Chicagoans are keen on travelling out to visit a city like Aurora (I believe there's quite a lot to do in Chicago as it is) the best press I've seen so far has been in Time Out Chicago. I haven't seen last week's issue but I'm told there was a big feature on the show while this week it gives me the red-star of recommendation and there are a few nice words... in fact it explicitly states that it's "worth the trip to the burbs." How many people will make that trip remains to be seen.

All in all, I doesn't feel as though the venue is trying to sell it to the people of Aurora... in which case I'm sure it would have been easier to take the show to Chicago. Odd.

September 25th 2005

It's been a relatively eventful few days in Cleveland. The theatre has a seemingly endless supply of pensioner-ushers all of whom seem to be very jolly and good at their job. A few days ago however one of them apparently lost it when watching the show as I was discussing Creationism. He started to rant and rave at the barman about how far out of left-field I was (yes, with my irrational belief in mainstream science and distaste for liars) and was eventually asked to leave the building. Odd.

While the show has gone down well in general yesterday saw one of the hardest shows I've ever had to do. The matinee performance seemed to be ill-starred from the beginning. We had a different House Manager on duty and somehow he seemed not to know what his responsibilities entailed. The audience were left sitting in silence for a minute waiting for him to make an announcement and the show was started with people still at the bar and with the back of the theatre all lit up.

Each of these things is trivial in its way but there's a reason that things are done one way and not the other and it doesn't help the atmosphere to do it badly and if the theatre doesn't behave professionally it tells the audience that the show they're about to see isn't professional either.

The cues at the top of the show were then a little late and somehow all of this led to me walking on stage to no applause... which is odd not because I think I deserve some kind of huge ovation, but theatrical convention would normally see a performer welcomed on to the stage.

The atmosphere didn't improve much from there. It's very strange when you're saying words that have made tens of thousands of people laugh before, in the order in which you normally say them and with the passion and feeling intact and get blank stares back from people who can't imagine how on earth these words could ever be deemed amusing.

There was an evening show a short while later which proved that the story hadn't suddenly been rendered unfunny so how is it that one audience can be so radically different to the others? Was something missing in my performance? Is the House Manager's announcement really so vital that it throws every other part of the show out of whack or is there some weird chemistry that will undo one show every 300 performances? Odd again.

There's one more show to do this afternoon and then we fly to Chicago and then drive on to Aurora. The only thing I know about Aurora is that it's where Wayne lived in Wayne's World.

September 22nd 2005 [2 pics]

There are another couple of reviews of the Cleveland shows. The Free Times summarises the show, almost forgets to say whether he likes it or not, reviews the seating in the theatre (he's right though, the cabaret style seating is a huge annoyance and completely inappropriate to my show) but finally adds that the show is good enough that you will forget that you're in a strange and uncomfortably arranged seat. Scene is a bit more quotable describing it as a "sides splitting journey" and a "cracking good time". Both have been added to the reviews page.

My recent rock and pebble balancing has inspired me to try more. The pebble balancing is much harder. When you pick up a rock you have much more sense of its gravity and weight but the pebbles are so slight and it needs a far steadier hand.

I went to a park with a friend and between us we built a veritable stone-henge of miniature structures. I was quite happy with this stack although there's no way of knowing that it is built out of tiny pebbles - in the photo it could be six feet tall rather than under two inches.

However, a caterpillar lends some nice perspective to this one... unless of course you think there are giant caterpillars roaming around the parks in Cleveland in which case, yes, that stack could also be huge. I was going to call this photo Pillar but my pebble-stacking friend suggested I call it Graduation instead which is much better.

September 20th 2005 [3 pics]

I've been very happy with the way the show has gone down in Cleveland so far. I seemed to do 4 or 5 interviews a day all through the first week and the reviews of the show have been great and it's gone down really well most nights with 2 or 3 standing ovations along the way but, even with all that on its side, we haven't exactly set the box office alight.

It seems I'm being stalked by vicars. The last two shows both had men of the cloth sitting on the front row - which seems like an unlikely incidence. I asked them both about their views on Creationism, one declined to really answer but the other told me in no uncertain terms that he was Creationist.

I'm not used to meeting this opinion... I've spoken to several men who share their profession in the UK, both during and after the show (and outside the confines of the theatre as well) and never found any of them to be of the Creationist persuasion. It's such a minority point of view at home that it is very difficult to take seriously.

All through the last show, my paranoid mind was thinking that that day's vicar had been sent especially to check the show out because word of the show's anti-creationist material was out. (In actual fact, I'm very careful in the show to point out that it is the lie I believe I was told and the failure to whack his Google that actually earned my ire, not the belief in Creationism. One of the other people I met in the journey was also a Creationist... he's read the book and seen the show and we remain friends, so I'm confident that I've made this point clear in the show. But paranoia can always get you when you're on stage. I'll start an official vicar-watch and let you know if any more turn up.

I tried to maximise my time off, so when the Sunday show was over I jumped in a car and headed out of the city for a bit of a break in Port Clinton about 70 miles west of Cleveland. It was good to get out of the city and into some fresh country air. Being by Lake Erie it provided me with another opportunity for rock-balancing. (see September 8th and September 10th)

I managed this stack which was okay but I don't think my heart was in it and the result is somehow a little unsatisfactory.

On the way home, I stopped in a small and pretty town called Vermilion and visited the beach. I decided to try balancing some pebbles instead (maybe, I can market this as Pocket-Rock-Balancing!) and achieved a Zen-like calm in building this inch-tall stack.

With my new sense of calm I then tried again with bigger stones and was very happy with this triptych. The middle of these was particularly satisfying as the top stone would move constantly in the breeze but seemed like it would stay in place for ever. It was certainly still there when I left the area a couple of hours later and returned to Cleveland for tonight's show.

September 16th 2005

I'm going to be writing a short weekly article about touring the States for the Guardian. Initially I refused to do this until they agreed to change the size and design of their paper but I'm told they have finally complied with my demands and so I've written my first piece. I think the articles will run on Saturdays and I think the first one will be in this week.

There's another good review - this time from the Akron Beacon Journal. I've added it to the reviews page. While it's a positive review it ends with something a little odd:

My only concern is this: Once the press started writing about Gorman and friends' googlewhacks, references to those particular word combinations started showing up on numerous Web sites, making their unique googlewhack status null and void. So as Gorman tells his story in his current show, how does he show the googlewhacks as single Google results on his laptop?

He may be taking creative license with his PowerPoint graphics. Or, maybe he captured the Web pages of single Google results years ago, after he and his pals found the unique word combinations and before the rest of the world knew about them.

What an odd concern to have. Surely it's obvious that the last sentence explains the situation perfectly ... in fact it's the only rational way it could have happened. The rest of the world (well, not all of them) only knew about the googlewhacks because of the show... so obviously the show existed first and that included the images. Her concern only seems to make sense if there is a way in which my story could be known by the world without me being the one who's telling it. How odd? It's hardly a chicken-and-egg style mystery is it?

September 15th 2005

The second show here in Cleveland seemed to go over well but I was frustrated because I felt let down by many technical things and I know that had they gone right the audience would have had a better time.

Another event had taken place in the theatre that afternoon and it seems that some settings on the projector and on the desk had been reset. This meant the images didn't have the quality they should for a professional show and the sound effects that accompany the pictures were incredibly quiet too. There were a few times where I couldn't hear the sound effect so didn't know if the image had changed or not and had to have a sneaky look behind me to check rather than just rattling along with the show.

If the images don't arrive with snap and clarity in a show like this it's like a stand-up comedian mumbling his punchlines... the audience still have all the information to find the humour but it just isn't as funny. Very frustrating.

15 minutes before the end of the show the sound failed completely so I was off mic for a while. It's a show that's already quite damaging to my voice so I was worried about the damage I might do to myself trying to fill the room without amplification but when you're in full flow there's not a lot of choice and you just have to carry on.

It made for a rather odd ending. When the show ends, the lights come up and some music plays and people take their cue and leave. Of course with no sound there was no music and even though the show was clearly over and the house lights were up some of the audience found themselves sitting watching an empty stage for a while. I'm not sure what they thought was about to happen. Hmmm.

There is a good review in Cleveland's main paper, The Plain Dealer this morning though... the full thing is on the reviews page but here's the pull quote the pr people will want to use:

"I can urge you to get out of the house and away from your computer (as far away as possible, if you know what's good for you) and to get to the theater to bear witness to one of the most whimsical, profane and marvellous evenings"

September 13th 2005

Cleveland is a much bigger city than Napa and with much more media available it means I have a much heavier schedule of interviews - and hopefully - bigger crowds as a result. This morning I did a series of interviews on a bunch of radio stations that you'd only really find in America.

Starting at just after 7am I was on WMMS (Rock) then WGAR (Country) then WTAM (Talk) and WMVX (Mix) - all within a space of 90 minutes before travelling to WKYC - the local NBC affiliate for a TV show called Good Company. And I hope I was. Even if I was looking like a scruffy tourist.

The show did get off to a good start on the first night. There was a nicely fullish house and generally there was a great reaction. There was definitely some discomfort in the room when I was discussing Creationism although I can't quite work out the nature of it. But it didn't seem to do the overall reaction any harm and there was something of a standing ovation at the end.

September 11th 2005 [pic]

I wrote yesterday about the rare pleasure of a home-cooked meal while on tour so you can imagine my delight on arriving at my Cleveland hotel this evening to discover a kitchen! It's not the best kitchen in the world but at least it means that some simple food can be rustled up now and again. And that a 3am sandwich is available. And toast. This is exciting.

As there's a kitchen there are also some basics - such as salt and pepper - provided. Now, if you were trying to give weary travellers the feel of home, would you choose to give them salt and pepper pots or would you make do with those tiny sachets of individual servings? It's a difficult choice isn't it? Perhaps this is the ideal solution. The mind boggles.

September 10th 2005 [2 pics]

My break in San Francisco is almost at an end - I fly to Cleveland tomorrow where the tour continues. I'd almost forgotten that there was a reason I was in the US.

On August 28th I wrote about the show being visited by one of the googlewhacks that I met in the adventure. The reason that David and Danielle (aka Unicyclist Periscopes) were able to get out to the show in Napa is that they no longer live in Washington D.C. having moved to Palo Alto which is not far from San Francisco.

This also meant I got to spend some more time with them during my break. We visited a baseball game (v. exciting) and I also headed out to Palo Alto for my first home-cooked meal of the tour (even more exciting) and a trip to the cinema to see the wildly funny and liberatingly rude Aristocrats.

This won't mean a great deal to you unless you've seen the show or read the book but I was really delighted when Danielle presented me with a second Teeny Google. Picture.

She seems to have an uncanny knack for spotting these things in unlikely places (this one was alone in a stationery store where the owner had no recollection of having ordered it) or maybe the world has an uncanny knack of placing these in her path shortly before we meet.

Today as I walked along the coast I found myself at the spot of my first rock-balancing and decided to have another go. I doubt I'll ever be able to balance things with the beauty that Bill Dan manages but I was still quite impressed with this stack - the second from the top was really quite small and difficult to place.

Maybe I'll give everything up and start a new life as a rock-balancer. Or maybe I won't.

September 8th 2005 [3 pics]

I'm enjoying my break in San Francisco. I cycled over the Golden Gate Bridge into Sausalito the other day where I saw a man called Bill Dan balancing rocks on the shoreline. It's really beautiful. The next day I felt compelled to have a go at some rock-balancing myself. I managed this stack of five which isn't anywhere near as beautiful but was very satisfying all the same.

Simon Singh has an amazing knack for writing about complex scientific ideas in elegantly simple ways. It's his ability to find the human stories behind the science that makes this so readable and you find yourself picking up an understanding of things at the same time as you're turning the pages to find out what happens next.

Big Bang: The Most Important Scientific Discovery of All Time and Why You Need to Know About It

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August 28th 2005 [pic]

Well that's the first venue on the US tour done with and what an enjoyable two weeks it's been. The venue was terrific and we were made very welcome. It wasn't always the fullest of theatres but the audience reaction has been very rewarding and there's been some good press. More importantly the size of the houses was steadily increasing through the two weeks which is certainly better than the other way round. It seems from the conversations I had after the show that people were mostly coming because of friend's recommendation.

I was rather skeptical about doing a Sunday matinee because 2pm on Sunday doesn't feel like a particularly funny part of the day but today's audience were really up for it and it was a lot of fun.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of touring the show in the States is that it gives so many of the people involved in the story the chance to see the show live for the first time and, of course, we get the chance to catch up. Several of the Googlewhacks came to see the show in New York, more came in LA and I'm delighted to say that today I was visited by Unicyclist Periscopes... otherwise known as David and Danielle. It's always a little odd telling the story when one of the participants is there in person but in a nice way. Things seem to take on an extra resonance when the audience don't just have to take my word for it but can confirm for themselves that the person I'm showing them on the screen is sitting amongst them nodding away. It was great to see them again. Picture.

I now have a short break before the tour resumes in Cleveland on September 13th.

August 22nd 2005 [pic]

My day off was spent visiting wineries and, of course, tasting wine. The Nicholson Ranch, Peju and Francis Ford Coppola's winery Niebaum-Coppola were all fascinating and showed us great hospitality. Picture.

August 21st 2005

I went for a wine class at the Goosecross Winery yesterday which was great. On Monday I'll be spending my day off visiting several wineries and I'm glad I did this first as I'll know a little more about what to look for.

The show has gone up a couple of gears. I was concerned about the ending losing some of its power but I think I've solved it by adding a few images at the end that seem to make the facts clearer and now everyone seems to get the information at the same time instead of in dribs and drabs. It's odd that if an audience find something funny but they each do so in their own moment it loses any punch. But if the whole audience come to the realisation at the same time it feels really funny. But how do they know that everyone else is getting it? How does this atmosphere make itself known? Hmmm.

The audiences have been smallish so far but the reaction has been great. There was a review in the local paper - The Napa Valley Register - which I've added to the reviews page which was nice enough although they largely told the reader what the show is about and neglected to say much about whether or not they liked it and why.

Perhaps the best review came, not from the paper's critic but from a local B&B owner, who wrote to the local paper. I won't add this to the review page because... well because while it was in the paper it wasn't a review... but if you removed the words "Dear editor" it would be a doozy:

I wish Jim Beazley was the Napa Valley Register theater critic and Sasha Paulsen ran a B&B.

August 18th 2005

I had an early start yesterday morning in order to do an interview in San Fransisco on KFOG. Luckily it was fun to do.

The second show went better than the first, smoother and more consistently performed... although I am going to spend today looking at the ending. It's always been one of the most powerful parts of the show and twice here it seems to have lacked something although I can't quite put my finger on what.

Time makes me forget quite how physically demanding the show is. My throat is already raw so I'm having to do all the usual things to look after it. I have to cut out coffee (difficult), dairy (okay) and have almost no alcohol (in Napa!)

August 17th 2005

I haven't performed the show for nearly 4 months now so while the story still feels like it happened to me yesterday, the intricacies of how I normally tell it have faded dangerously far from my memory. There's no script as such - I've never written anything down on paper for any of the shows - so it's a process of looking through the powerpoint presentation and listening to a recording that helps to lodge it back in my head.

With that in mind I'm delighted with the way the first night went in Napa. I was a beat or two off on things on a few occasions - I was probably having to concentrate too much on knowing it to be fully in the moment for performing it - but all in all it was a good solid start.

When I performed the show in New York it took a few shows to find its feet and for me to get the tone right. When it started to go really well there, there were people who'd say, "Of course it goes well here, we're New Yorkers, we're smart..."

When I then took the show to LA I had a few people say, "You won't find it as easy in LA. They won't concentrate as well and follow a story... they're not as much a theatre crowd as New York" which proved to be nonsense. If anything the LA audience were by and large more effusive than the average NYC crowd.

Before the show opened in Napa I had a few people offering words of advice along the lines of, "You'll have to remember that this is a small town. This isn't New York or LA... the crowds here are more conservative and you might find it harder to get them to go with you" and again it seems to me to be nonsense.

I only have the evidence of one show so far so I won't be complacent and I'm sure in a tour of this scale I'll have a few hard nights along the way, but the idea that people here just aren't as equipped as others to get something seems a bit patronising. It's also a dangerous idea to plant in a performer's mind.

If I take to the stage in Napa thinking that I have to dumb the show down, sanitise it or change it in anyway to account for some mythical small town sensibility then I won't end up giving the best performance. I'm convinced that these things can become self-fulfilling prophecies.

August 14th 2005

When the papers are full of stories of chaos and abandoned travellers and you turn up at the airport to find a tented village of passengers trying to outdo each other with their stoicism it saps the spirit a little bit. But it seems I'm one of the lucky ones. My flight was one of the estimated 40% that took off as normal yesterday and all was fine. In fact, not having to eat airline food on the trip can probably be regarded as something of a bonus. Napa is sunny. So am I.

August 12th 2005

My US tour starts on Tuesday in Napa, California and so I'm supposed to be flying to San Fransisco tomorrow. From Heathrow. On British Airways. The news is full of stories of cancelled flights and chaos at the airport so that should be a fun way to start the tour.

August 11th 2005

I thoroughly enjoyed the retro-recordings on Tuesday night... I think a dinner suit rather suits me. The other panellists were Amanda Platell, Amy Lamé and the other-wordly Brian Sewell while proceedings were charmingly chaired by the charming Hugh Dennis.

As a panel we weren't exactly brilliant at playing the game - it really made you appreciate how good at it the likes of Gilbert Harding were as they'd get down to the nub of the issue in as few questions as possible compared with our flappy approach.

So now I'm concentrating on packing for the US tour. For someone who's travelled on the fly so much I'm terrible when I actually have some kind of plan to stick to. If I was going to Napa tomorrow and I didn't know how long I was going to be away or where I was going next I would be at the airport in the blink of an eye (or a cab ride) and on my cheerful way but because I know of my other destinations and that Seattle will be cold come December it forces me into thinking and it's always dangerous when I have to do that. And of course I have a job to do when I get there... how does the show go again?

August 9th 2005

I'm taking part in a recording for BBC4 this evening which celebrates some shows from the past by reviving What's My Line? and the lesser known The Name's The Same (the internet only seems to be aware of the US version of this show but the BBC did make it in the 50s.)

I really like these shows - they feel similar to Call My Bluff which I adore - and they come from the days when testosterone wasn't assumed to be a vital ingredient of panel games.

August 6th 2005

Well I didn't win anything playing poker. I played in the charity tournament on the 3rd and only had two hands that were even remotely playable so my stack of chips was just gently eroded by the blinds. Still, I lasted longer than John McRirrick and was still playing when the three tables were broken down to two. The next day saw the start of the tournament proper.

Your seat is drawn at random so I was a little perturbed to find myself sitting at a table with 7 big name pros and a PE teacher called Rob. I got some good hands early on and was briefly the chip leader - is there another sport where a rank amateur can take on world champions and spend 20 minutes ahead? They were playing for 90 minute sessions with 10 minute breaks and at the end of the first session I had turned my $20,000 stake into $26,000 and was feeling pretty good about myself. But then I had been gifted some amazing cards having been dealt AA once and KK twice. There's something ridiculously satisfying about taking a pot from Gus Hanson or Scott Fischman.

In the second session I lost around $15,000 and then in the third, with my stack dwindling it was getting too easy to bully me out of a pot. In the end with a 10J suited I flopped top pair (10s) stayed in the hand and then was given two pairs when a Jack came down on the river card and decided that it was time to go all in. If I won the hand I'd be back with enough chips to compete properly and if I didn't I'd be out but I hadn't had many opportunities and if I folded I was pretty sure that I was just delaying the inevitable and committing myself to a slower and more painful demise. I lost. Heigh ho.

A lot of players had bought their way into the tournament and I'd been given a free-roll so I had nothing to lose and enjoyed myself hugely. If only it was possible to cash-out part way through a tournament. As with the charity tournament at least I lasted longer than McRirrick. J. which means nothing but as randomly assigned benchmarks go it's good enough for me.

August 3rd 2005

I'll be spending the next few days playing poker at the London Open 2005... I'm not sure how I came to be invited to play in this... there are far better players of far greater celebrity status than myself but I enjoy the game and it looks set to be a fun event. The other UK "celebrity" listed on their site is John McRirrick and I don't think our names have shared a list since some sideburns-wearer-of-the-year award failed to gather momentum some time last century. Hmmm.

August 1st 2005

I was a guest on Big Brother's Little Brother this afternoon... largely arguing the case for Eugene. I'm surprised by how much I've been following Big Brother this series but somehow it's got to me and I really do hope that Eugene wins.

I only discovered this book when John Fortune agreed to be a guest on Genius and I was finding out more about his background. He co-wrote it with John Wells over 3 weeks in 1971 and it's remarkable. At the recording I used it as an example of his genius and with good reason. It concerns a man who... well, who knows trees in the Biblical sense. Odd. Funny. A classic.

A Melon for Ecstasy

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July 15th 2005

I couldn't be happier with the way the Genius recordings have gone so far. It really doesn't feel like work but instead each one has been an enjoyable night out in a theatre. Everyone involved - the people who pitch their ideas, the guests and the audience - seem to enter into spirit of things straight away and hopefully the fun we're all having with it will come across in the recordings. Three more to go.

July 9th 2005

I normally only write about things that directly relate to my work here but sometimes events take over and it would seem a little odd if I just added a work-continues-to-go-well-with-Genius type entry without acknowledging events in the wider world. You can't live in London and pretend to be completely unaffected by it.

I'm struck by how many phone calls, texts and e-mails I've received from people checking that I'm okay and when I've spoken to other Londoners they've said pretty much the same thing. It seems to me that every message sent asking the recipient to confirm they are well contains a small packet of love and that millions of these have been pinging in and out of London in the last few days.

Your heart obviously goes out to the victims and their friends and family and anger is understandable... but I'm hugely impressed by how little anger and hatred I've witnessed while instead an abundance of love is in evidence.

July 2nd 2005

Vorderman's Sudoku Live was surprisingly jolly all told. I've no idea what it looked like on the box but it seemed to flow properly on the day. My fears about what the format involved ("You've got control of the grid Dave" "Is it a 9 Carol?") turned out to be unfounded.

Oddly I was supposed to be the captain of a team representing the city of Belfast which seemed like a rather abstract decision but when I saw that Italian chef Aldo Zilli was representing Cardiff and Bradford born (and with the vowels to prove it) Linda Barker was representing Birmingham it became clear that there wasn't meant to be any logical geographical context to it anyway.

There were 9 teams all with 9 people and everyone was supposed to be trying to complete the puzzle individually. Viewers at home were also playing along and there were prizes available for one viewer, the fastest individual in the studio, the fastest team and the fastest team captain.

The fact that I've been doing several sudokus on the way to 6Music this last week proved to be good training and I ended up being the fastest of the team captains and with the fastest team too. All the team captains had agreed in advance that their prize would be donated to one of Richard Whiteley's charities so while it doesn't really matter which of us won, it does feel good knowing that the money went to the British Heart Foundation.

Most importantly it was a jolly night out with C.Vorderman, K.Adams, H.Lederer, R.Rivron, L.Barker, A.Zilli, J.Brambles, D.Stephenson and R. "Say his name baby he's da man" Blackwood.

It's rare to enjoy a novel if I don't find myself liking the central character... but somehow this pulls it off. Originally in French - but very well translated - it's extremely violent and endlessly cynical but written with sufficient flair to get away with it.
"Do you know the difference between the rich and the poor? The poor sell drugs so that they can buy Nikes whereas the rich sell Nikes so that they can buy drugs."

6.99

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June 30th 2005

This has been a very busy and exhausting few days. Last Tuesday I went to Las Vegas. Two days later I came home again. British Airways lost my suitcase. That was fun. Then this week I returned to working on Genius as well as another stint on 6Music covering for Tom Robinson. I go to work at the BBC at 10am and then at 6pm I walk upstairs and start preparing for the 6Music show that starts at 7. It's all fun - having Iain Archer and David Devant playing live on Monday and Wednesday respectively were real highlights for me, and for the second time, I managed to get an exclusive first play of a new Helen Love single - but it does make for a long day.

This will be my last night on 6Music though as Tom Robinson's Evening Sequence runs Mondays-Thursdays but tomorrow will be equally busy. I'm going to be taking part in Carol Vorderman's Sudoku Live on Sky One on Friday. I'm not sure what form it will take ... but yes, it's a game show, it's about sudokus and it's live. That's entertainment.

A few weeks ago I was contacted by the News Of The World. They were asking if I would mind a photographer turning up with a sudoku puzzle. He'd take a few snaps and time me completing the puzzle. They were going to ask a few people and the quickest would win 1000 for the charity of their choice. They never ran the feature so I don't know if I was the quickest when they finished, but when the photographer left mine I was the quickest thus far. I filled it in in two and a half minutes which was quicker than Cheeky Girl 1, Cheeky Girl 2 and Raj Persaud and at least one of those three is probably very clever.

Anyway... that was the beginning of a vague sudoku obsession. Since then, I've been finding myself looking at them whether I want to or not. And judging by the way the newspapers have gone to town on them, I'm not the only one. It seems Britain is gripped with Sudoku fever. It's like the tabloid Bingo wars in the 80s... only the broadsheets are obsessed too this time. Anyway, all this proves is that Sky are probably very clever for getting the first Sudoku gameshow on the air this Friday.

June 10th 2005

We're busy working away on the upcoming series of Genius ... which basically involves trawling through thousands of potentially genius ideas but is surprisingly good fun as the vast majority of them definitely seem to have the spark of a workable (or amusingly unworkable) idea. (If you have an idea that you think might be genius and would like to take part in the show then do please e-mail it to genius@bbc.co.uk and include your contact details.)

The dates for the recordings have now been finalised and so tickets are available. We'll be recording five more episodes at The Almeida Theatre, Islington on July 11, 14, 20, 25 & 27. If you'd like tickets, take a look here.

June 3rd 2005

I really enjoyed Charm Offensive. Armando is a wonderfully generous performer which sets a great tone for the show. A lot of shows feel competitive with the guests trying to outdo each other, but this was much more fun and seemed to be four people (the other guests were Phill Jupitus and Lucy Porter) enjoying themselves.

Charlie Brooker gets very angry about TV. I'm glad I'm not as angry as him. But I'm glad he is as this collection of TV reviews is hilarious in its invective.

Screen Burn

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May 30th 2005

I'll be one of the guests taking part in Armando Iannucci's Charm Offensive for Radio 4 this week. The show is recorded tomorrow and broadcast on Wednesday.

May 23rd 2005t

It seems that the powers-that-be enjoyed Genius also as a series has been commissioned. As soon as the recording dates are confirmed and tickets are available I'll make sure the details are on the site and that the mailing list are the first to know.

May 20th 2005

I've enjoyed another week on The Wright Stuff. Every other time I've done a weeklong stint the other regular panellist has been Janet Ellis so I was rather surprised when I turned up on Monday to find I'd been paired up with Ann Widdecombe but the two of us got along just dandy and all was well.

Duncan Goodhew was on the panel on Thursday - we first met as part of my Important Astrology Experiment after an astrologer had said I should befriend someone with the same initials as me - and it was a real pleasure to meet up with him again.

May 17th 2005

Yesterday was strange... in the morning it was The Wright Stuff with Ann Widdecombe and in the evening it was Genius with Paul Daniels... my showbiz dream life is complete. At least it will be when I meet Stephanie Beacham this morning.

The Wright Stuff is as enjoyable as ever and I was really pleased with Genius too... once again, everyone contributing their ideas to the show entered into the spirit of it and some good earnest debate of some completely ridiculous ideas was the result.

May 13th 2005

Work on Genius has been fun again with some enjoyable writing and some very odd ideas to get our heads round. I'm dead chuffed with the guest we've got for the show too.

We record it on Monday which is set to be a busy day as I'll also be starting another weeklong stint as a panellist on The Wright Stuff.

I've recommended books by Dan Rhodes before... and he never seems to disappoint me. The writing in this collection of short stories is elegant, witty, charming and poetic... but never at the expense of the story.

Don't Tell Me The Truth About Love

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April 28th 2005

I've just received some very good news... which is that I've been nominated for a Drama Desk Award in the category of Outstanding Solo Performance. These are prestigious New York theatre awards and I'm thrilled with this, my second, nomination. It gets even more ridiculous when I list the other nominees... James Urbaniak, Tim Miller, Jackie Mason, Barry Humphries and Billy Crystal.

I imagine this is the first and last time that Jackie Mason, Barry Humphries, Billy Crystal and myself will be sharing a sentence.

April 22nd 2005

A date has been set for recording a new pilot of the Radio 4 show Genius. We'll be recording it at The British Library on May 16th. I hope the audience realise that even though it's a library, they are allowed to make some noise. You can book tickets here.

April 20th 2005

I don't think anything about my Toronto trip was destined to go smoothly. My progress through Toronto Airport was made more awkward than normal because of ... another Dave Gorman. I didn't meet him. I don't know where in the world he is. I don't know if he's one of the 108 I've already met. I do know that he was born in December 1972. And I know that at some point in the last week he did something to upset the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and made sure that his, sorry, our, name has been added to a 'no-fly list'! Thanks to him, (or maybe it's one of the hers) travelling to and from North America is going to be just a tad more inconvenient from here on in. Yum.

April 18th 2005

The Toronto run has come to an end and I'll be spending today travelling back to London. The run ended well with two very enjoyable shows on Saturday and Sunday night.

Overall I'm delighted with the way the trip has gone... I think last year's New York run must have helped to fine-tune the show for North American audiences in ways that I'm not even aware of. There's been no difficulty at all in making the show work for audiences in both Toronto and LA.

While I have no complaints about the audiences or the reviews I have plenty to complain about when it comes to the Harbourfront Centre. But it's over now and complaining is boring so I won't. I'm looking forward to getting home.

April 16th 2005

On Thursday night there were so many things screwed up before the show that the first thing I had to do when I walked on stage was apologise to the audience. It's not the best way to start the show. Yesterday things went much smoother and the show was much better as a result. I'm very grateful to the technicians who are basically working hard to stage the show in an inadequate venue... but I remain singularly unimpressed by the complacent (dis)organisation of this festival... I've never had as many problems as I've had here and I've never met such a lack of will to fix the problems either. Hmph.

Two more shows to go... and I have to remind myself that while there are problems with the venue it's not the audience's fault and they deserve the best show we can give them.

Given that the press were in on the first night, I'm amazed that the reviews are really very good. There was one in yesterday's Toronto Star:
'There's a lot of wit, a touch of righteous rage and even a surprisingly touching denouement. The fact that an Internet search engine ties it all together makes it a perfect show for our cybersociety and a sure-fire bet for your entertainment dollar.'
and another in today's Globe & Mail:
'It is Gorman's genius to both acknowledge the absurdity of his alcohol-induced mission and mine it exhaustively for its comic value. Hugely likable, and with total mastery of his material, he recounts his Googlewhacking exploits with infectious enthusiasm, flawless timing and the passion of a man singularly possessed... Although his show would clearly not be possible without the existence of Google and the technology from which it sprang, it is in other ways a very old-fashioned show: one man telling a story to entertain. And he certainly does.'

I've added the full reviews to the reviews page.

April 15th 2005 [2 pics]

If you've read a few of my comments over the last few days, you'll know that I haven't been overly impressed with the venue here in Toronto. It's stuff that I wouldn't normally write up... but then their mistakes are mistakes that wouldn't normally happen also.

While I'm delighted to say that the first show went well - there was even something of a standing ovation - I'm frustrated to add that it seems to be despite the best efforts of the venue to screw things up. I'll stop discussing this now because I think if I'm too specific I'll only create another problem that needs to be solved.

So... here are the good things. The show is the cover story for Now Magazine (this is good because it helps to sell tickets, but weird because wherever I stand in the city I seem to see my own over-excited face staring back at me.) The show went over well. And there were a couple of people in the audience who it was great to meet after.

On April 4th I wrote about how I like the fact that the shows are more than just shows and that they seem to have a life of their own. That was prompted because on the same day I'd met a new Dave Gorman and one of the googlewhacks. Well it happened again last night... sort of.

I did meet a new Dave Gorman taking the total to 108. I stopped looking when I got to 54 because that was the original idea - to meet one for every card in the deck including the jokers. I've now met two deck's worth: 54 by working very hard at it and another 54 without trying at all.

But also there last night was a man called Gary Stock who, inadvertently, is responsible for a whole lot of stuff that I don't know whether to thank him or blame him for. He's the man who invented Googlewhacking. (If you visit googlewhack.com you can find out much more about Googlewhacking and its origins.)

This is a picture of me meeting my 108th Dave Gorman taken by the man who invented Googlewhacking.
This is a picture of me meeting the man who invented Googlewhacking taken by my 108th Dave Gorman.

April 14th 2005 [pic]

Getting the technical side of the show set up properly turned out to be a tricky situation. We were scheduled to be in the venue between 2 and 6pm on Tuesday... but I didn't know that the venue has sky-lights which means that daylight streams in which makes it impossible to focus a projector and lights and so on. The technical crew were excellent though and we finally got it all straightened out by 11pm.

Because we got it all done, it meant that my Wednesday was clear so I boarded a train and headed out to Niagara Falls (picture) It's impossible not to just keep taking photos of it... in part because it's so impressive but also because every photo you take fails to convey the scale and the power of it and you keep trying to see if you can somehow capture it. You can't; it's like watching an ocean fall off the edge of the world.

April 11th 2005 [pic]

My Los Angeles run continued to go well for the last few shows... I'm really delighted with the way it went; we've had full houses and some great press. It seems to have stirred up some more interest and further North American dates might well be on the horizon. I'll let you know when I know for sure.

Obviously there are a few more North American dates pretty much immediately... because on Thursday I start a brief 4 night run in Toronto as part of the World Stage festival which this year focuses on solo performances. Maybe that's because they think there's some exciting work being produced by solo performers right now, and maybe it's just a way of cutting down on the festival's hotel bills.

The last time I came to Toronto I came for a couple of days of book promotion prior to a two week run of the show in Montreal. The journey was hell... involving the plane making an unscheduled landing in Ottawa where we sat on the runway for an hour or more waiting for a thunderstorm to go away. Today's journey was even worse. At LAX I joined the queue to check in for my flight and then, only when I'd got the front of the line 45 minutes later, did they tell me that the flight had been cancelled.

The next 4 hours were spent queueing and the 4 after that were spent flying. And starving. It wasn't a good day to be a vegetarian. In 9 hours I had two crackers and a slither of cheese to sustain me. Oh... and a packet of craisins.

Craisins, as you can see, are sweetened, dried cranberries... sort of raisins, only made out of cranberries. So how come these ones were 'cherry flavored'? Surely they should be cranberry flavo(u)red. And if you want them to taste of cherries, why not just dry and sweeten cherries? The ingredients are listed as follows: Cranberries, Sugar, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors and Elderberry Juice Concentrate.

No cherries. Cranberries and elderberries (or at least the juice in a concentrated form) but no cherries. Unless, of course, the cherries are what's meant by the 'natural flavors' bit... but then it can't be, because you wouldn't use such a vqgue term to describe flavours if they were related to a real fruit in some way.

And if you wanted to add a red colour to something that was made out of cranberries and supposed to taste of cherries, why would you add elderberry juice concentrate? Surely one of the by-products of drying cranberries ought to be... cranberry juice concentrate? I haven't had very much sleep.

April 9th 2005 [pic]

The run in LA is almost at an end and it seems to have gone very well. I was suspicious at the start because the campus at UCLA seemed deserted and I didn't know where an audience was going to come from. It turned out that for the first two weeks of the run it was spring break so I'm amazed that we managed to pull in so many full houses without the student population who normally dominate this part of LA.

But the reviews have been great and word of mouth seems to have kicked in too so while people were worried that audiences might tail off towards the end of the run, it's actually been selling out sooner.

A few days ago I mentioned that one of the googlewhacks had been to see the show and it happened again last night with Kathy - also known as L@ngurs Nasturtium. It's always great to meet up with these people again, after all, if it hadn't been for their kindness there would be no show. Or there'd be a very short show. Or I'd have actually written that novel.

Actually... that's it... damn them... it's their fault I'm not a novelist. Yes that's right; it's got nothing to do with me not writing a novel and everything to do with them being kind enough to make me welcome and enabling me to not write. People say you have to be cruel to be kind... maybe the reverse is true also and their kindness was actually a form of cruelty.

I'm getting confused... either way, it was a pleasure to see her again and this time I didn't have to put any corn snakes on my head. Here we are after the show.

April 7th 2005

The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson was really enjoyable...I guess it was the most like a free-flowing conversation and least like an interview... which makes for a good interview. It ran late (late) because they had to film an interview with David Duchovny to drop into another show before our show started. It's weird seeing David Duchovny walking around in the corridor beforehand. Like something out of The X-Files.

I wasn't able to get out of the studios until after 7 which meant that the predicted mad dash across town to the theatre was even more tight. They normally open the doors at 7.30 and they can't do that until the laptop is hooked up to the projector and the presentation is ready to go... so I had to call ahead and talk someone else through the set-up process like air-traffic control coaching a passenger-turned-pilot through a safe landing. Only without the threat to anyone's life and nowhere near the importance. It's only a show after all.

I don't want to write too much that is disparaging about the Toronto venue because I'm hoping to turn up and have a good time and meet nice people and I don't want the venue to get the wrong impression about me in advance. At the same time, they're not doing much to create a good impression of themselves right now. I'm continuing to get the odd e-mail from people who've tried and failed to book tickets.

Of course, I only know about the few people who've been bothered enough to e-mail me about the problems. (Some say that the venue's website doesn't mention the show, others have said that the box office staff have never heard of it!) It's impossible to know how many other people have tried, failed and then given up. Hmmm... frustrating.

The Harbourfront Centre's website is pretty useless for finding information on the show unless you know that it is a part of the World Stage, Flying Solo festival. Even then yesterday they'd listed it with an incorrect title in the wrong venue and with the wrong dates and times. They promise me they've corrected it now. If you click on the "complete listings" link of their site you won't find any of the shows that are a part of the World Stage festival which suggests that the listings are far from complete. If you try the search facility of their site you won't find the show listed either. It doesn't seem very encouraging.

April 5th 2005

I'm a guest on today's edition of CNBC's Dennis Miller - an interview I very much enjoyed doing. It was nice that we didn't get bogged down in the technicalities of googlewhacking which is, after all, kind of incidental to what the show is really about: people.

I've enjoyed both the talk shows I've done so far here in LA so hopefully tomorrow night will be fun too. I'll be a guest on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson... which will involve a mad dash across town to get to the theatre in time.

April 4th 2005

I spent the morning doing a photoshoot for a magazine in Toronto... my next destination. I've had a couple of worrying reports from people in Toronto trying to book tickets who've being told by the venue that they haven't heard of the show. Not a very encouraging sign. After the photo shoot I caught up with Byron - also known as Pomegran@te Filibusters - who'd flown from Texas to LA to see the show. We had lunch together, then went to the show and then hung out for a while after.

I like it when things like that happen ... it means the shows have a life beyond being simply shows. Similarly, even though I stopped trying to meet other Dave Gormans years ago it was a pleasure to meet yet another namesake on Saturday night. I'd had an e-mail correspondence with this particular DG way back when but I'd never met him before. That's 107.

April 1st 2005 [pic]

The run in Los Angeles is going terribly. I've never had less fun with the show.

April fool. I'm having a fabulous time. Like most performers I'm very shallow... I like a town that likes me and as the show is going so well I've decided that I really, really like LA.

My net access is still terrible so I haven't been able to update the site for a while... but there have been great reviews in the LA Times;
'While Gorman's timing is impeccable, he also weaves disparate narrative threads with the seamless assurance of an accomplished raconteur. Supplemented with photos and educational graphics from his laptop computer, his Googlewhack adventure is more than a collection of jokes and amusing anecdotes. It's a richly varied, delightful and at times surprisingly touching human tapestry.'
The Daily News;
'Like master storytellers David Sedaris or the late Spalding Gray, Gorman has perfect timing and cleverly builds his tale incident by incident so that the audience soon feels part of the outrageous madness. (Who among us, after all, hasn't made procrastination an art form?) And, like Sedaris and Gray, there is ample irony in his tale, but less so the dark sort. Gorman's universe is comic, and the laughs come not from jokes but from the quirky coincidences and just plain weirdness. In the end, Gorman's quest is like that of Quixote's - a form of insanity that yields some very funny truths.'
and Backstage West ;
'Possibly the funniest feel-good piece of theater to grace Los Angeles in the last five years... if your schedule only allows you to get out of the house once in the next three weeks, it should be to attend this show. It's that good.

I've added the full length reviews to the reviews page.

Last night I was a guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno ... I knew I was taking part in a big show, it's an American institution, and my inbox this morning seems to confirm it with hundreds of e-mails from people all over the States delighted to tell me they've found googlewhacks.

It was a pleasure to do and given the scale of the show, it's difficult to imagine a host who could be less starry and more personable before and after the show. Mine can be a complicated show to explain but I think we managed to explain enough of it to be intriguing at least.

Here's a picture of me and Jay. Sort of.

This is a quite brilliant book about poker... because it isn't really about poker, it's about the people who play poker and that's an entirely different thing.

The Biggest Game In Town

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March 24th 2005

Internet access isn't proving easy here in Los Angeles so I guess updates will be far and few between... I'll do what I can. It's the second wettest rainfall season in LA history. That wasn't part of the plan. The venue is great and the technical side of putting the show together has been much smoother than normal

Before the show everyone kept telling me not to expect as much from LA audiences as I'm used to with crowds in New York. I was constantly told to expect them to have a shorter attention span, less focus and to be less vocal. Based on the opening night, people are wrong. They were a great crowd. I hope that doesn't turn out to be a one-off because if every show here goes as well as that one, I'm in for a fun three weeks.

I was also expecting to be slightly out of sorts with the show myself... after all, I've had two months off performing it so a little rustiness was to be expected. I surprised myself by knowing it all inside out and backwards once more. I think I was expecting to have to dig in and work harder with a more difficult audience and when they turned out to be so responsive it allowed me to relax and just enjoy myself ... I stopped having to think about things; including the what-comes-next thought process.

My biggest worry with performing the show so many times (I think I'm around the 300 mark now) is that I'll grow bored of it. When I haven't performed it for a while I kind of take the story for granted... it just becomes that thing I sometimes talk about. Then when I'm onstage I'm suddenly reminded that I lived through a really extreme time and that a lot of truly amazing things happened to me. I reconnect with the emotions that I went through at the time and boredom isn't an option.

March 18th 2005

Hosting BBC 6 Music's The Gideon Coe Showfor a week has been a complete pleasure. I've cycled to work each day, done some of that talking-and-playing-records thing and then cycled home. I've been getting up at a reasonable hour and having a healthy, stress-free life... I've not had to spend any nights in any soulless hotels and in the evening I've been around and about, seeing friends, going to gigs and having fun. Basically it's been the opposite of touring. I wish I could just carry on.

Then I remember that on Sunday I get on a plane and fly to Los Angeles to start a three week run of the Googlewhack Adventure stageshow and I realise that that's a very exciting thing to be doing and that really the best thing about the way I make my living is the variety.

Today I was presenting a music show on the wireless and on Wednesday I'll be taking to the stage in LA. Doing one only makes the other more fun.

March 12th 2005

I really enjoyed the last week although with two different weeklong gigs it didn't leave me a lot of time (or energy) for much else. The Wright Stuff was as jolly as it always was... and even though it meant getting up at 6.30 each morning I'd be happy to just keep doing it. It's one of the only shows where the job description 'comedian' doesn't seem to overshadow everything else and I feel like I've been booked to be myself and am allowed to talk about the serious subjects with the other grown-ups.

I had a great time doing the Andrew Collins Show on 6Music too. It's the radio station I listen to most so it's very easy to be enthusiastic about the playlist while at the same time they give me the freedom to bring in some music of my own choosing. I was particularly chuffed that, after I interviewed Jim Bob on 6Music back in September last year on 6Music, I was given the first ever radioplay of his new single 'Dumb & Dumber' this week. Mighty fine it was too.

The final hour of the Friday show is given over to Round Table which involves three guests and several reviews and that was another highlight for me as we had three great guests in the shape of Gideon Coe, Miranda Sawyer and Siobhan Fahey. This talking and playing records lark really is a fun way to make a living.

Which means I'm very much looking forward to next week because I'll be staying at 6Music for some more. This time I'll be doing my second stint as the guest host for the Gideon Coe Show. I stood in for Gideon last year for a week and seemed to get on with his regular listeners so it should be fun.

Meanwhile, a return to my real job is fast approaching and almost as soon as I've unplugged the headphones I'll be jetting off to LA for a run of shows. When that ends I won't be coming straight home as I've just added 4 shows in Toronto to the schedule between April 14 and April 17. Packing a suitcase for sunny LA and freezing Toronto will be interesting. All the details for both the runs are, of course, on the live dates page.

Readers of today's Independent on Saturday will find a rather odd portrait of me in the magazine. It was taken by David Weightman who, according to the Independent, 'asked 12 eminent Britons' to jump up and land on a cable release plunger which then automatically triggered the camera.

It's inspired by the brilliant 1959 Jump Book by Philippe Halsman which has some amazing pictures of some amazing people... well, jumping. It's the sort of project I'd be interested in anyway so it's flattering to be one of the subjects (although it's not necessarily a flattering photo.) Inevitably I find myself scanning the list of other subjects to see how eminent 'we' really are. Sam Taylor-Wood, Colin Pillinger... cool. Boris Johnson... oh.

March 3rd 2005

Thanks to everyone who e-mailed yesterday to wish me well for my birthday. I survived it without disaster and haven't woken up in a foreign country so all seems well.

Towards the end of January I recorded Chapter 1 of the Googlewhack Adventure book for BBC7 and it's now in the schedules. It will be broadcast on Sunday 6th March at 9.30am.

As well as being a fine comedian, Rob Newman is also Robert Newman the author of this great novel. It's passionately written, textured and full of detail but poetic too.

Maybe that's the secret... maybe if I start being David instead of Dave that novel will come.

The Fountain At The Centre Of The World

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February 28th 2005

There haven't been any updates here for a while because I've been having a bit of a break. In fact, this is the longest stretch of free time I've had in ages. I've been thoroughly enjoying it, taking in a lot of music gigs, (highlight, The Chalets supporting Art Brut in Manchester) and generally catching up with friends and family.

But work starts again next week and rather than easing myself back into it, it seems I'm going to be diving in head first. For the week starting March 7th I'll be doing two different jobs. At 9am each day I'll be a panellist on Channel 5's The Wright Stuff (but not on Thursday) while at 4pm each day I'll be standing in as the host of the Andrew Collins Show on 6Music.

For the week starting March 14th I'll be staying at 6Music but this time I'll be doing my second stint as a guest host on the Gideon Coe Show.

And then I'll be off to LA for 3 weeks of live shows.

February 12th 2005

Apparently I made an appearance on Dennis Norden's Laughter File on ITV this evening. I'm assuming that it was an out-take from the DVD recording as I'm unaware of having fallen down in the background of any news reports lately.

February 11th 2005

The last few book readings have been fun but I'm glad to be back home. In Stafford, they held the event in a pub that is often used to house stand-up which gave the reading an unfortunate atmosphere. It was beery, there were a few (good natured) heckles and so on and while it went well I'm slightly peeved to learn that the local paper has written the event up as a stand-up show. It wasn't. I talked about the book. I read a bit from the book and then I did a Q&A... I mean I was standing up for it but really, apart from that I don't understand why anyone would describe it as such. Anyone who thinks it was a stand-up show must be wondering why I didn't tell any jokes.

If I write another book one day and am called upon to do any readings I think I'll have to lay down some rules about where they take place because if you lead a crowd to expect a stand-up show it really ought to be one. When it's in a bookshop, it definitely feels like a reading... but shelves of books can get in the way and most p.a. systems in shops are pretty schonky.

In the Nottingham branch of Waterstones they have the best of both worlds as they have a well fitted out function room within the shop. It can seat a couple of hundred people, nobody has an obstructed view and it's small enough to not need a p.a. Perfect. It was my favourite venue when we were promoting Are You Dave Gorman? a few years ago and it was again this time round.

February 5th 2005

I'm off to Stafford today to spend some time with the folks before the next round of book-readings. There won't be any updates until I return so hopefully I'll see some of you in Stafford, Sheffield, Nottingham or Leeds.

February 4th 2005

I thoroughly enjoyed Celebrity Poker Club on Sunday. In fact I enjoyed it a whole lot more than I think I wanted to. I've always been a little scared of poker ... or is that scared of myself? I know what I'm like and how dangerous it could be if I got seriously into anything that involved gambling so I've often turned down invitations to play poker in the past. But Celebrity Poker Club involved no risk. There's no fee for appearing on the show, but they put up the stake for the tournament and you keep the prize money if you win. It's a no-lose proposition. Isn't that what drug-dealers do; offer you your first hit for free?

I didn't win my heat (I'm sorry if knowing that spoils your viewing pleasure when it airs) but I received enough praise from the professional players involved in the show to whet my appetite. Apparently my pre-flop betting was excellent. Who knew? The final was held yesterday and I really wanted to be there. Instead I was taking part in a non-broadcast pilot of a show about cryptic crosswords.

Ah... cryptic crosswords; a safer addiction that has kept me company for years and caused no harm. (I'm even doing one in the picture at the top of this page.) Perhaps this was a sign, perhaps poker would be loosening its grip on my psyche. Except one of the other people taking part in the crossword show was Grub Smith, journalist, broadcaster and poker aficionado.

I'm getting slightly scared. Maybe this is the beginning of the end. More poker will have to be played.

Thanks to everyone who e-mailed me yesterday to wish my arm a happy birthday. (Don't ask.)

I'm slightly ashamed to admit that a small part of me wants to dislike Nick Hornby. But try as I might, I can't. I want to discover that he writes mainstream, generic pap... but he doesn't. What he does do is write well and with great wit and humour whether it's fiction or not. I loved (and recommended) 31 Songs his collection of essays about, well, songs a while ago but I enjoyed this even more. It's a collection of essays about books... about what he bought each month and what he actually read and it feels like a conversation with a good friend. (In my case, a friend called Matt, but I'm sure you have a friend that you talk about this kind of thing with too.)

Polysyllabic Spree

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January 27th 2005

I enjoyed last night's reading. On the whole they seem to have stood me in good stead for this morning when I was reading the whole of Chapter 1 of the book for a BBC7 (yes, there's a BBC7!) series in which various people read extracts from various books. I'm not sure but I think I might be the only person in the series who's reading from his own book... but then I think I might be the only author involved who's still alive.

Because I almost always read a section of Chapter 1 at the live readings I found myself knowing some of the book without having to look down at the page which surprised me and made for an enjoyably quick recording. I think I probably did the job a bit better than when reading the audiobook. If I ever discover when it's being broadcast I'll let you know.

Now... poker... what am I doing again?

January 26th 2005

Well, I thought I'd recovered from my illness but I was wrong. I spent most of last week being particularly unwell ... still, I did genuinely enjoy the readings. Chelmsford was particularly nice. Mind you, the Watford reading last night was a bit of a damp squib in front of a bunch of people being about as disinterested as people in a bookshop can be... which is very. It felt like I was going into a school and talking to people who didn't really want to be there but preferred it to Double Geography. Can't blame illness for that one as I'm now fine... must have been me. Oh well.

I'll be doing another reading tonight at the Charing Cross Road branch of Borders but before that I'll be filming a short piece for the Channel 4 Political Awards which will be broadcast on February 14th.

But mostly I'm concerning myself with trying to learn poker. Texas Hold'em in particular. On Sunday I take part in a show called Celebrity Poker Club. I've never played poker before and I'm not really a celebrity so there's two reasons why I shouldn't have said yes to it... but they show a lot of poker on TV in the States and I happened to be watching some in New York when the invitation came so it seemed like a good idea at the time. If I can just learn enough to not look like a complete idiot all will be well.

January 19th 2005

Monday was a day of rather intense press. I enjoyed it though and, as I promised Murray on BBC Radio Jersey, I did get to use the phrase: hangs in a different tree to the rest of the monkeys while talking to Des & Mel who were their usual charming and delightful selves.

But it wasn't really wise to take on a day like that where every minute was accounted for between 9am and 9pm with only one half-hour break. It meant that I had to dash off and find something to eat in that one available half-hour and whatever terrible, BBC-microwaved stodge it was came back to haunt me. After the reading on Monday (nice small crowd, Islington) I started to feel a little ill and, without wanting to go into too much detail, I ended up throwing up for most of the night. Actually, that probably is too much detail.

Anyway, when a car arrived at 9 o'clock on Tuesday morning to take me to a warehouse in Colchester to sign books it wasn't the most welcome sight. I spent most of the day sleeping and drinking water but did struggle through the reading in Kingston (very nice big crowd) before finally putting my head down for the night. 24 hours without food seems to have done the trick so you can expect an emaciated me to turn up with a smile on my face at the Liverpool St. Station signing this afternoon and at the Cambridge reading this evening.

January 14th 2005

Well, I've been back in the UK for a couple of days and I haven't had much of a chance to relax yet. And it doesn't seem like I'm going to get much opportunity any time soon. As cliché has it, there's no rest for the wicked. All I did was fail to write a novel. Is that so wicked? Am I fated to spend the rest of my life being this busy because of it?

I've spent the last day opening mail from a huge pile. It stacks up in 3 months. Still, it's nice opening Christmas cards in January. I'm now gearing up for another wave of book promotion to support the new edition of the Googlewhack Adventure which is published about... now. Actually I think it's officially released on the 20th but, unless you're JK Rowling, bookshops seem to ignore that kind of thing, open the box and stick them on the shelves.

I've spent some time updating the site, so the Live Dates page now has all the book readings listed. I'm going to be in Islington, Kingston, Cambridge, Chelmsford, Watford, Charing Cross Road, Stafford, Sheffield, Nottingham and Leeds. As well as the readings the publishers have set up a whole load of informal stock signings where I slip into the back room of a shop and sign a load of books (only the ones I actually wrote, mind) and then slip away again. If my schedule is to be believed it will soon be harder to find an unsigned book than a signed one so if you have an unsigned copy, hold on to it, it might be worth something one day.

The new edition of the book comes in four different coloured covers so I've updated the relevant pages (book, shop) using a nice animated gif to contain all the options in one nice graphic. Thanks to Richard for making that.

As well as the readings, interviews start in earnest this week. I'll be a guest on Radio 5 Live's Worricker this Sunday morning (which is actually presented by a man with the surname Worricker... coincidence?) and then on Monday I have 7 interviews (including a return to Des and Mel (hurrah; they're lovely)), 2 signings and a reading to do. Was failing to write a novel that wicked?

January 10th 2005 [pic]

Well, the New York run finally came to an end last night after nearly three months. I'm hugely proud of what's been achieved on this run and the last week of sold out shows was a great way to finish. I've made a lot of friends and, while I am exhausted, life here has become very much the norm to me and there's lots that I will miss.

On Saturday there was a fantastic double-reunion as I was visited by John and Chris who, having shown me great hospitality when my adventure took me to Seattle, are a part of this show and a Dave Gorman, who I first met when I was performing that show in New York back in 2001. It was lovely to see them all. Picture.

It seems almost inevitable that there isn't much in the way of rest now that this run is over. Later this month, a new edition of the Googlewhack Adventure book is published (same words, smaller pages, cheaper price, choice of covers) and so I'll be out doing a few book readings to support it. There are a few in my diary right now, so they're on the Live Dates page already. I think a few more will be added soon. But not until I get back to the UK and can sit down and work out what can and what can't be done.

January 5th 2005 [pic]

I had a fantastic day off on Monday. Anyone who saw my Important Astrology Experiment - especially if you came to one of the recordings - will know how much I got on with the panel of experts. None more so than the amazing Alvin Hall and it was at Hall Towers (I think that's his address) that I spent my last evening off relaxing with good food, wine and especially good company. Picture.

This week has got off to a good start with a bit more good press in Time Out New York. This time it's the theatre section who've picked the show for their Don't Miss section with a picture and a small blurb: The British comic monologist bushwhacks his way through the Internet jungle in this garrulous and funny trot around the globe.

We seem to be selling quite well in advance this week and there was a decent house for the Tuesday which is normally our quietest night so it all looks to be set for a fun end.

January 3rd 2005

Well, despite my predictions, the house was pretty full for the New Year's Day Show too and the audience didn't even seem particularly groggy and hungover. I was feeling exactly that, but there was sufficient energy in the room to demand and get the energised performance that they came for. It was a really enjoyable show. As was Sunday night which completed a really good week. The last ten days, which I expected to be harder work because of the holidays have actually been our most successful so far and it's looking good for next week too, so we should end the run on a high.

I have, apparently, just won an award. I say 'apparently' because it's an award I've never heard of, but then, not living in New York, I guess I wouldn't know about these things. Anyway, the 2005 Nightlife Awards for Jazz, Comedy and Cabaret performers in New York City ("Oh, that award," I hear you cry) have been announced and I'm delighted to be the recipient of the award for Unique Comedy Performance.

January 1st 2005 [pic]

Happy New Year.

My guess that there would be a smaller audience for the New Year's Eve show turned out to be a little wide of the mark. The theatre wasn't completely full but there was certainly a decent sized crowd and there was a good atmosphere. I thought the show started out being a bit ragged - there was that slightly drunken, party atmosphere in the room and I don't think I was concentrating as fully as I should. But by the end of the show it was going great guns and I ended up really enjoying the show.

After the show there was still time to get out and bring in the new year so the show's New York producers made sure my passport was locked in a safe. After all, I have a show to do tonight as well so they thought it wise to limit my travel possibilities.

It occurs to me that we're in the middle of a golden decade for manufacturers of novelty glasses. Designs like these have only really been viable since 2000 and by the time 2010 rolls round they just won't be the same. Sure, you could put the 1 over the nose that year but the symmetry will be ruined and you know it wouldn't be the same. Even if they do misguidedly try to squeeze another year out of the idea any reasonable person would be forced to admit that by 2011 it really will be over. At least until 2660 - and even then only for people with large foreheads. (Which, I suppose, the human race might all possess by then, it's difficult to know.)

You might think that if the 6s will work then the 9s should too, but I don't remember seeing them in the 1990s and I'm pretty sure the tails of the 9s would dig into your cheeks. The last time it would have been possible was through the 1880s (again for the high foreheaded amongst us) and I very much doubt that the ability to manufacture such things in sufficient quantities and at a sufficiently cheap price existed back then.

No, there's no doubting that it's the two zeros in the middle that really lend themselves so perfectly to the design. If you had a pair of similar novelty glasses yesterday and you've thrown them away I hope that, having read this, you'll at least pause to consider exactly what it is you've so readily discarded.

A novel narrated by a sock monkey. Esoteric. The sock monkey's owner is trying to catch a serial killer. Pulp fiction. It's written by the talkative half of the excellent magical double act Penn & Teller. Weird. It's all of these things. It's a stream of consciousness with philosophy, wit and attitude and a pop culture reference peppering almost every paragraph. It's very knowing, kind of cocky and it's very good.

Sock

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