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Gen 19 2008, 13:40

I've resumed reading the Michael Palin book I bought in October, having put it aside for a while to read Life on Air, the memoirs of David Attenborough - another one of my great heroes. Interestingly, albeit unsurprisingly, Palin's diaries reveal a somewhat amusing connection between these two British TV legends: apparently Attenborough, as BBC's Director of Programmes, was one of the obstacles the Pythons had to overcome in their struggle to get better broadcast times for Monty Python's Flying Circus back in the early days of the show.

Palin's book also contains some rather interesting references to 1970s popular music. For instance, a number of prominent artists invested money in the production of the Pythons' Holy Grail movie; the names of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Andrew Lloyd Webber are mentioned. George Harrison turns up several times, seemingly becoming quite a close friend to Palin and attending the recording and mixing of the single version of Lumberjack Song, among other things. In 1975 Palin went to see Bruce Springsteen's first concert outside the United States, which he reports having enjoyed but, in the words of radio producer John Walters, "we came expecting the Messiah, and got Billy Graham instead".

My Christmas vacation ended last week, and just like last year, my first week at work involved going on a cruise. This time it was a different company that ferried us to Stockholm and back, but that hardly amounted to more than a cosmetic difference: again we ate, drank, danced, shopped and wasted money on the slot machines. Oh yeah, and there was that seminar too. In the ship's karaoke bar I and my singing partner from the previous cruise repeated our Kemiaa duet, this time with vocal harmonies, and we also took a shot at We Are the Champions. We even agreed to do a third one, Hotel California, but sadly there was no time left for that. Oh well, there's always next year...

After the cruise I decided to steer clear of liquor for a while, the closest thing to a new year's resolution I've had in... oh, I don't know, twenty years or so? Anyway, I plan to keep this up for a month, with a conference in Innsbruck serving as a natural finish line. I'm taking this opportunity to explore the variety of dealcoholised beverages available here. So far I've found that there are some nonalcoholic lagers that are pretty decent, but I've yet to find a nonalcoholic wine that actually tastes like wine. Do you have any pointers for me?

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