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May 2011
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Lunch At Dinner

The kitchen at Dinner. Not pictured: the guy with the big knife at the right-hand counter who kept staring at us all the time while he chopped things up. We had a lovely time in San Sebastian, thanks for asking. We'll get around to writing about it eventually, I guess. And while we're on the subject of anniversaries, it's now over two months since Will and Kate tied the knot while we were in New York, and that still hasn't been written up yet either. Hopefully, I can get something posted in time for their one-quarter anniversary.

Meanwhile, I'm putting all that on the back burner to tell you about what happened the day after The Belated Birthday Girl and I came back from Spain, when we were invited to lunch at London's hottest new restaurant with no more than 90 minutes notice.

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The Man In Seat 61

Seat 61 revisited. (Actually, it's nothing of the sort. It wasn't until this latest journey on Eurostar that I realised that only the first class carriages have a seat 61. This, however, is what a first class seat on a TGV from Paris to the southern border of France looks like when you get it in an insanely good €40 deal from www.tgv-europe.com.) I racked up an insane number of air miles last month. Through a combination of personal holidays and business travel, I started May 2011 in America and finished it in Australia. People keep telling me what an exciting time I must be having: unfortunately, I'm too much of a drooling jetlagged wreck to be able to pay them much attention.

Long-haul jet transport is one of the marvels of our age, and obviously the travel section of this site would be much thinner without it. But to get a bit Luddite for a second, it's just unnatural, isn't it? Aside from the personal effect on your sleep patterns and your bowel movements (don't tell me it's just me), there's that whole pesky planet-killing aspect to consider. More than once - most notably in 2007 - I've wondered if there's a better way to explore the world.

Then, as now, I've used the wisdom of Mark Smith to guide me through possible alternatives. And if you want to spend the rest of this article imagining the lead singer of the Fall barking 'Get the train-AH! Get the train-AH!' over a fractured guitar backing, be my guest.

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MOSTLY FILM: 32 Short Films About Brian Limond

Choose now!That title's a terribly obscure reference, especially since the original movie was nearly two decades ago. But my view is this: if it was good enough for The Simpsons, then it's good enough for Limmy's Show, the subject of my latest article for Mostly Film.

At this point, some of the regulars may be throwing things at their computer screen and complaining that it's all repeats nowadays. And it's true: I did write about Limmy's Show here about a year ago, in a piece comparing it with its contemporary Scottish sketch show Burnistoun. That was at the end of Limmy's first season, and I reached certain conclusions about how funny he was. This new piece was written following the end of season two - and things have changed. You'll have to read the full article to find out more.

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Simian Substitute Site For June 2011: The Brass Monkey

The Brass MonkeyMONTH END PROCESSING FOR MAY 2011

Music: I still insist that I Just Had Sex is my favourite single of 2011 to date: now The Lonely Island have a new album out, Turtleneck And Chain, that's almost as good. Any album of comedy songs is inevitably going to have its weak spots, but the best material more than makes up for those - the cheery tale of a boxing match with Rocky, the rapid slide into degeneracy of the After Party, and Michael Bolton's delightful ruining of Jack Sparrow. As with their previous effort, Incredibad, there's a bundled DVD with eight of their excellent videos, but once again the songs are strong enough to stand up without visuals. In fact, one of the best numbers (Japan) is funny simply because they can't make a video of it. Or can they?

Telly: I've been a bit sniffy about Sky Atlantic since it started, complaining that it's only ever had two decent shows - Boardwalk Empire and Treme - and both of those are finished now. Granted, some of that sniffiness may be because as a Virgin Media cable subscriber I can't get Sky Atlantic, and have to borrow The BBG's telly if I want to watch any of their programmes. But I'll have to confess that Bored To Death has pushed their number of decent shows up to three (although, as with the other two, it's just finished its first season in the UK). Based on the writings of Jonathan Ames, it's about a struggling writer called, erm, Jonathan Ames (Jason Schwartzman) trying to hold down a second job as an amateur private detective. His friends - comic book artist Ray (Zach Galifianakis) and magazine editor George (Ted Danson) - share his love of marijuana, and there's a gently stoned vibe to their low-key adventures, with some big laughs along the way. It's especially nice that someone's finally found something else Ted Danson can do well. I saw season two on a plane recently, and it keeps up the quality level with the added bonus of some unexpected cameo appearances. Including one from, erm, Jonathan Ames.

Theatre: I couldn't sell it to The Belated Birthday Girl at all. One Man, Two Guvnors (currently playing at the National Theatre in London, then touring) is a farce, which is one of her least favourite theatrical forms ever: and it stars James Corden, whom she was calling a fat fuck years before it became fashionable. But the combination of the two works surprisingly well for me. Richard Bean (who previously wrote England People Very Nice for the same theatre) has taken the 18th century Italian farce The Servant Of Two Masters and transferred it to 1960s Brighton, while keeping the basic plot points intact: a scheming and hungry servant, a blackmail plot involving cross-dressing and murder, and the odd bit of audience participation. The National should just give Bean a panto to write this Christmas, because that's more or less what he turns One Man into. But it's a damn funny one, with lots of terrible jokes performed at high speed by a cast giving it their all. Get to the Lyttleton early for a bit of a bonus.

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