London Bloggers Secret Santa

December 9th, 2009

Update 2: Signup is now closed and everybody has been emailed the person they have to get a present for.

Update: I’ve opened it up now to the whole of UK. And changed the deadline of signup to tomorrow.

A while back I blogged about participating in two Secret Santa’s for the book blogging community, and since then I’ve had the idea that it would be great to do something similar for the London bloggers. I’m not sure how many people will be interested in participating, but I thought I should at least try to set something up; I think it could be so much fun!


So here’s the plan (for those of you who don’t know what Secret Santa is): all of the participants will be randomly assigned another blogger to send a gift to, and these assignments are kept secret until the gift has been delivered. So no one knows who their gift is coming from! The idea is to get inspired by your assigned person’s blog/twitter/whatever presence that person has online and get them a suitable gift.

Here are the “rules”:

1. Sign up and fill in all your details in this form (signup is now closed) before Friday 11th 18:00 Saturday 12th 20:00. Only sign up if you really plan to do this; I’d hate someone not ending up with a gift.

2. You should be a London UK blogger or at least an avid Twitterer. There should be enough “info” about you online for your secret santa to get you a present.

3. Gifts should be kept under £15 including shipping costs.

4. You’ll get an email sometime during the weekend (before Monday 14th) with the details of your assigned blogger.

5. Make sure your gift(s) are sent out before Christmas. They don’t necessarily have to arrive before Christmas, just sometime during the Christmas holidays (before 1st January).

6. Blog about the cool gifts you receive! Email me ( a link to your blog post, so I can make a nice overview of what everybody has gotten. Also if you haven’t received anything by the 1st of January, email me and I’ll try to sort something out.

7. After your person has received and blogged about their presents, feel free to reveal your identity. You don’t have to, if you don’t want to, but it would make it so much more fun if you get to connect with this person!

8. If you have any questions, email me at

That’s it! Feel free to blog, Tweet, spread the word about this; it would be great to have as many people as possible participating.

I’ll also be joining in on the fun of this. We’ve got a piece of software that should sort out the assignments automatically and send everybody the right emails. Plus I’ve got a Christmas Elf on hand to help out with the background details and check if everything runs smoothly; I won’t see who’s paired up with who or who has gotten me. I won’t actually be in London during Christmas (from the 22nd till the 5th), but I will be online and reachable via email to answer any questions.

Have fun!

I’m not exactly clued in on what people are listening to nowadays (as I’ve said before, I think like 80% of the music I listen to comes from movie or TV show soundtracks). So when the whole Kanye West debacle happened a couple of weeks ago, I’ve got to admit I hadn’t seen either of the two videos.

I finally watched Taylor Swift’s one though, and while it is cheesy as hell (and aimed for 13 year old high school girls), I can’t get this song out of my head:

Yeah, I know this might be one of the more geekier choices for my ‘Listening To’ series. I fell in love with this song though the first time I heard the opening credits from Civilization IV, and it never feels to somehow cheer me up whenever I’m in a bad mood.

I thought I’d introduce yet another recurring series of posts, this time highlighting the music I’m listening to. To start it off, here’s one of my favourite pieces from Ennio Morricone, the theme song from The Untouchables. I still get goosebumps every time I hear this:

Btw, does anybody have any tips what the best website is to find these type of embeds? YouTube doesn’t really feel right, seeing as it’s only audio.

70 Years Over The Rainbow

August 25th, 2009

Bit of a late blog post, but I just found out that The Wizard of Oz (1939) turns 70 today. And I just had to share that with you, my dear readers. So to celebrate, here’s Miss Garland herself with Over The Rainbow:

[Watch on MissGeeky]

I still want to blog about the fun I had at this year’s Hide & Seek Festival. As usual there was lot’s of running around (lots and lots), puzzle solving and random silliness. I hope to blog about it in more length some time this week, but for now here’s a short video about it:

This is part of this week’s Pocket TV episode, a new music based show hosted by Holy Moly’s Matt Edmondson. Every week, you’ll be able to watch a new episode in full or broken down into 5 segments so it’s a bit like jumping to a scene on a DVD. Simple and easy.

I like the idea of the show, but I’m not that much into current music myself. It’s not that I don’t listen to music (I do, a lot), but seriously 90% of my music library consists of movie soundtracks, TV show soundtracks and West End musicals; I’m not exactly up to date with the “hottest” music out there. However, if you are into music, Pocket TV seems pretty fun.

Check out the Pocket TV channel on YouTube.

Tags: Games, Music

Episode 121: “Watch the adds and it’s almost like paying”

This newest parody from CollegeHumor of West Side Story is just pure brilliance. Twitter, Facebook, Pandora and eVite all get a mention, but it’s the way they weave it into the West Side Story songs that’s so great:

[Watch the video on]

I don’t think I’ll be able to listen to any of these songs anymore without thinking of this (“Pandora, I just found a site called Pandora.”)

Via /Film

After a “holiday” of 10 days in the Netherlands, I’m back in London and ready to get back to my blogging. I haven’t written anything for over a week, just taking a nice time out while I was away. I managed to get everything done what I wanted to do in NL, including a brand new haircut. It’s shorter than anything I’ve done in the past 8 years, and every time I look in the mirror I’m still completely startled by it. It will take some getting used to.

I don’t have a photo yet (I only got my hair done the last day I was there), but to make up for that here’s a photo of my cat:


Isn’t  she cute? (and yes, that’s my bag. You can always tell I’ve been in the Netherlands, cause all my stuff will be covered with cat hair)

Living in London, you can’t help but be exposed to the advertisements of West End musicals; every time you take the tube, you’ll be bombarded by the myriad of posters praising the latest musical sensations. Like many, I had seen the posters of Spring Awakening, but couldn’t really make out of it what the show was about. Plus I had never heard anything about that musical before, so why should I waste my time going?


But then we were the winners of a scavenger hunt, and we got tickets to see Spring Awakening. I wasn’t expecting that much at all, but it turned out to be great: catchy tunes, sing-along-able lyrics, and an interesting tale unraveling on the stage. And now, I’m kind of depressed by the news though that they’re closing early. Due to lack of response, they’ll be shutting down this month, with their last performance on Saturday 30th May.

I can understand why it’s not doing so well though. This isn’t exactly the type of musical you’ll take your grandma or mum to. Spring Awakening is based on the controversial 1891 German play Frühlings Erwachen by Frank Wedekind. Set in the late nineteenth century in Germany, it’s about teenagers discovering their sexuality against a backdrop of religious and parental repression. The original play was banned in Germany due to its portrayal of masturbation, incest and rape (and other things I can’t mention otherwise I’ll spoil the plot) and the West End musical version doesn’t shy away from any of these issues.

Spring Awakening Cast

After seeing Spring Awakening, I left the theatre feeling somewhat disturbed. This is not your usual musical and it goes places most other productions will steer away from. Combining that with the catchy alt-rock music leaves you with a weird juxtaposition of emotions. It’s unsettling to hear a beautiful duet between two girls about how they’re molested by their fathers. It’s not the type of song you can later sing-along to, without being reminded of what it actually is about.

Not all songs are like that though; there are a couple of great numbers, each sung perfectly by the cast. Each of the members of the cast have their shining moments and I was surprised to find out how young they all are (16-24). I just wish there was a recording of the London cast; I’ve got the Broadway version, but I prefer the voices of the London cast. The musical opens with Mama Who Bore Me (90210 viewers might recognize it), first as an enchanting ballad, after which it turns into a upbeat number. Two other favourite of mine were The Bitch of Living and Totally Fucked, both catchy and easy to sing along to. I guess I’m not the only ones who find those three the best numbers, cause during Tony Awards 2 years ago those 3 were performed as a medley:

[Watch the video on]

(Btw, Spring Awakening got 11 nomination that year at the Tony Awards, of which it won 8, including best musical and best score)

The set that you see in the video above is practically 100% the same as the London one. It’s a pretty small stage, but that makes the performances only more prominent. Like with We Will Rock You, you almost have a feeling that you’re at a concert. 

If you want to see Spring Awakening, you only still have two weeks to do so. While the story is disturbing, the production itself is pretty amazing: the songs are catchy, the choreography is cool, and the performances are outstanding. If you’ve got the time, I can’t recommend it more. Catch it while you still can!

Sorry for the quietness around here. Last Saturday, after waiting for a long 5 days of a reference check that in the end wasn’t even completely used, we got to move to our new apartment. Yay!

This new place is much larger than our previous flat. We’ve got our own kitchen and bathroom, and a nice big sitting room with two long leather couches. Finally no more annoying housemates and ugly furniture; we can do anything what we want with this place. For the past three days we’ve been cleaning, organizing and re-arranging everything here. It’s almost done, it still needs a couple of finishing touches, like bookshelves (very important!) and a new mattress for the bed (the one that came with the house is horrible).

The thing though we’re missing the most? Internet.

It’s going to take at least two weeks until we got a proper connection, and I was dreading those upcoming two weeks. Yesterday though we got a pay-as-you-go mobile broadband USB stick from 3, and it’s working great. It was about £97 for a “free” stick plus 12GB data allowance (which has to be used within a year). Once you’ve finished the 12GB, you get the normal pay-as-you-go tariffs: £10 for 1GB, £15 for 3GB and £25 for 7GB (which then has to be used within a month). Pretty good deal, right?

Yesterday the stick was working terribly; almost no speed and a very flaky line. I almost was considering bringing it back to the store and demanding my money back. Today it’s been working great though, so I’m guessing the snow must have interfered a lot with it yesterday. Even if we hadn’t moved house I would have been tempted to get this. Now I can get some work done from a cafe or when I’m on the road.

Anyhow, I’m going to try and blog some more the next couple of days, but I’m not sure how much I’ll be online even with this broadband stick. I haven’t tried uploading any photos so far, so I’ll have to see how it all goes.

So how about a house warming party in two weeks time?