Time off

29th August 2008 at 01:00


The Block, New Kids on the Block

New Kids on the Block are back. What's that, you cry? Oh you didn't say anything, you were just clearing your throat. In fact, you'd love to stop and chat but you've got to empty the tumble dryer. Well maybe some other time? No? You're unblocking the drain? For the next five days?

OK, so not everyone's going to be that excited at the reformation of an Eighties boy band who, even at their peak, were little more than bouffants attached to shrivelled, hairless bodies, squeaking rap songs like a West Side Tom and Jerry.

But among certain sections of the population - those in sheltered accommodation for example - New Kids on the Block enjoyed the sort of popularity that leaves a man soaked with drool and blinded by knickers. And this year, they're back.

It all starts with an album of brand new material, The Block, released this week. The first single, "Summertime" - a cheesy number whose video features a sultry-looking Donnie Wahlberg, looking not unlike Chandler from Friends in his chubby phase, cavorting on a beach with a semi-naked brunette - has already reached the US top 50.

Other tunes (including "Sexify my love" and, er, "Stare at you") promise similar levels of oh-don't-but-go-on-then cheesiness. Their tour starts in September. Sadly they've no plans to grace the UK - yet.


Gut Feelings, Gerd Gigerenzer

In The X Files, Agent Fox Mulder's gut feelings drive him to uncover shocking signs of extraterrestrial life, potentially redefining reality as we know it. For most of us, our gut feelings will lead to us doing nothing more spectacular than throwing away a greenish bit of bacon at the back of the fridge. But they shouldn't be discounted, at least according to Gerd Gigerenzer, psychologist and director of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin. His research reveals that ballpark guesses are often much more effective than expert calculations.

Gut Feelings, out in paperback this week, is an entertaining explanation of his ideas, a fusion of research and anecdote that will have you following your instincts to the bookshop.

His research on the stock market is a case in point. In the Nineties, Gigerenzer asked 360 pedestrians to pick a list of the most recognisable stocks. He then bought stakes in investment funds, managed by Wall Street's finest, as well as a portfolio of shares based on their recommendations. Surprise surprise, within six months, the "Joe Bloggs" portfolio had on average outperformed not just the investment funds but the Dow Jones and DAX stock markets. "Each time, the intuitive wisdom of the semi-ignorant outperformed the calculations of the experts."

If only they were in charge of the economy.


Pimm's Summerfest

It's Pimm's o' clock! Get it? I'm making a joke. Oh, I see. You've heard it before.

Nevermind. The Pimm's adverts might be to comedy what spades are to brain surgery, but the makers of everyone's favourite gin-based drink have secured a sterling line-up for their first London comedy festival, starting this week.

The Pimm's Summerfest (August 27-31) features turns from Jo Brand, Reginald D. Hunter, the cheeky Russell Howard, sparkling Chris Addison and the ever-so-delectable Jenny Eclair.

The whole thing takes place in the Holland Park Theatre, an opera venue with a cloth top and open sides, much like many of the bulky maidens that have graced its stage.

It's billing itself as the "Glyndebourne of comedy" - which presumably means cucumber sandwiches and heckling in Italian only please. Tickets from pound;22.50 from online ticket services.

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