Sunday, March 30, 2003

My Aunty Ethel (90) loves her video player (which she can't use). Her favourite films tend to be rather brutal horror ones - so perhaps the image of easily shocked pensioners (as described below in the Lancaster Guardian news item) is only one side of the story. Or maybe it's just in my family. I present some of the pensioner fiction that I hope to be reading, when I'm that age anyway:

Ibruprofen Vice!

72-year old Enid wasn't used to the tough ways on the "inside". Abandoned by her grown-up children to "Sunny Heights" a notorious retirement village, Enid had to learn the hard way - that to survive in Sunny Heights you had to sell whatever you had! Enid soon gets caught up in an illegal Ibruprofen smuggling racket, led by Kingpin Jimmy (Dentures) Malone. However, bedsores are going to be the least of Jimmy's problems when Nurse Brady finds their secret stash of anti-imflammatory drugs hidden in a hollow walking cane. Can Enid find love, and legal relief from arthritic pain? Or will she go under?

Rough Crossing!

Overweight twin sisters Hettie and Bella (83) had always shared everything - war rations, recipes and varicose veins. But now here was something they couldn't share - a toy boy who threatened to drive a rift between their sisterly love... forever! Enter Willard Perkins - a 65 year old stud with a spring in his insoles. With his rock 'n' roll music and penchant for driving at 5 miles over the speed limit, the sisters are bowled over. But only one of them can live in "the fast lane" with Willard. However, tragedy ensues in the climatic ending - the three adventurers-in-love end up fighting for their lives during a turbulent ferry crossing to the Isle of Mann - and for one of their number - they won't be needing the return ticket!

The Neighbourhood Watchers

Nobody could put one past octagenarian amateur detective team Bert and Bessy Holgreaves - 45 years as a security guard/porter for Robinson's Jam had made Bert the best in the business, while Bessy's curtain-twitching had ensured she was always the first with street gossip. So when someone started stealing milk bottles from "The Close", everyone expected the intrepid pair to solve the mystery before you could say "dole scroungers from the rough council estate". But what started off as an open-and-shut case soon became something far more sinister... asylum seekers... pictures of kiddies on the internet... a picnic site where homosexual men met for homosexual sex! Before they knew it, they'd got in too deep - and the only way out was down!
Being addicted to trash, I love the thrill of the chase. There's nothing more exciting than finding out about some obscure trash movie and then gradually tracking it down, like a hunter. The more difficult a film is to get, the more enjoyable it is to watch - even the worst film can be redeemed if there's been a struggle to get it into your video-player. (The same principal can be applied to sex.) Valley of the Dolls, Todd Haynes Superstar, Who Killed Teddy Bear, Privilege, Wild in the Streets, Lady in a Cage and Angel, Angel Down We Go - they've all held me captivated until I've found them.

But there's one film that no matter how long I look - never seems to show up anywhere. It's probably rubbish, but it's called Love Has Many Faces, stars a trio of camp actresses (Lana Turner, Ruth Roman and Stephanie Powers), and is about rich older women and their younger hustlers who roam the beaches of Acapulco looking for fresh meat. It also has Hugh O'Brien practically painted into one of the tightest pair of swimming trunks ever made. If the description of the film doesn't justify my blood lust to track down this movie, the picture of Hugh should...

Friday, March 28, 2003


"Hello, did you know you look like that guy off Queer as folk and Coronation Street?" someone wrote to me today, after seeing my photo on the web. I think he was talking about Lee Warburton. In the past I have been compared to Suggs from Madness, Tom Cruise, Philip Schofield, Jason Donavon and Zach Braff from Scrubs. I've also been told that I have a prominent Adam's Apple (by an Adam's Apple fetishist) and a middle-class face.

I can only conclude there must be a lot of people who could do with having their eyesight prescriptions updated.

Meanwhile, my fussy local newspaper has the following scandalised story, which made the front page:

Open air pornography shoot outrages picnicking pensioners

Three pensioners on a quiet picnic in the Trough of Bowland found themselves confronted by naked women posing for obscene photos a court heard.

"I couldn't believe my eyes," witness Mrs Joan Ward told Lancaster magistrates on Tuesday. "It ruined a perfectly nice afternoon."

THe trippers were happily munching sandwiches when they saw two women without a stitch of clothing being photographed by an older man near Scorton.

"They were laughing and gigling and appeared to be enjoying annoying other peole," she added in a statement. "The girls were completely naked by a tree."

Mrs Pauline Brown, another witness added: "The whole incident upset me terribly."...

Mrs Browmn said she was initially concerned the women might be young girls. "The pictures were definitely obscene," she thought.

Two men she thought were possibly "peeping toms" had also arrived in a Jaguar by this time. "They were watching the women as discreetly as they could."

The whole episode lasted about 20 minutes.

I love it. What sort of newspaper can get away with using the phrase "without a stich of clothing" while keeping absolutely poker-faced? And if the article isn't enough, there's all that delicious conjecture to over-egg the pudding: "they "might be young girls" and the men in the Jaguar are "possibly peeping toms". I'm so proud of my local newspaper. This article shows why I love living in Lancashire so very very much.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Name the stars

A big lump of virtual cheese to whoever can name these three famous faces, playing how shall we say... unusual roles below:

1. Very rough trade

2. You don't want to mess with her, or her baby.

3. The toast of London's in-set.

Monday, March 24, 2003

Watched a documentary on Discovery Health (the channel for neurotics) last night about the recent phenomenon of "Surrendered Wives". The documentary was a bit vague on what they actually were, but in essence, they decide to stop nagging their husbands and let them make all the decisions. We followed three women as they went on a course to learn how to become surrendered wives. The first was a scary woman called Connie (too much black eyeliner) who looked like a prison warder. Her parents had been killed in a plane crash when she was 12. Her new fella was a staunch republican who liked guns. She found this repulsive. Rather than ditching him, she was encouraged to simply accept all of this.

The second wife was married to an overweight man with a strange goatee. As part of their "homework" they went out on a date where he made all the choices - he took her to a boring museum and then ordered all the food she hated. The third woman was simply addicted to support groups, having been on loads of them. On her date, her boyfriend took her to see the film Gladiator which she detested. Despite this, she is now running courses on becoming a surrendered wife herself.

What I got from the documentary was that the surrendered wife phenonenon is a load of crap. I got the impression that there were lots of underlying problems with these people, and that "surrendering" to their husbands wasn't going to solve very much. Surely compromise and communication are better than one partner just "surrendering". Most of these women would have been better off dumping their partners for someone better, or going on a course which tells them how not to get saddled with such losers in the first place.

More information: Link

Also at I posed a question to the owners of the site:

Hi, I am a gay man, living with my partner for 11 years. I have a question. Should I surrender to my partner? Or should he surrender to me? Thanks.

I'll keep you posted if they reply.
Update: they did reply: "Laura writes from the perspective of a woman, so her books are meant specifically for women. Thanks for your interest and your question."


Saturday, March 22, 2003

About 100 years ago, before I got a sensible job and started taking myself too seriously, I was quite the little web presence. I was responsible for the idea that spawned the article "The 5 Stages of Addiction to Crossroads" - now touted by the likes of Popbitch as something worth reading. I even had a gay online comedy soap opera which was enacted with barbie and ken dolls, which some company actually paid me rather a lot of money to do every week (until it went to dot com heaven). I'm still big, it's just the websites that got small.

Tom rather cruelly has been poking fun at Friends recently, which I am not ashamed to say that I still rather enjoy (well, OK, I am slightly ashamed to say it). But only because I think Lisa Kudrow is an under-rated genius and I've had a crush on Matt LeBlanc since he was in TV101 and used to appear on the cover of gay magazines. And that was all like 1000 years ago. Tom suggests a sitcom with hot naked gay men making out every episode.

A closer look at the web reveals a number of such things in existence. Welcome to the world of gay online soaps/sitcoms. Here's my guide to get you through it all. you

What's it about? The show centers around a coffee shop in Cockermouth-cum-down. According to the blurb, it's the funniest thing to come out of Britain since Mrs Slocumb's pussy. Oo er missus. Just a clue then, that innuendo and camp humour ala the very successful Carry on... films will be soup du jour. Characters include Felicia Tinglebottom, Lady Bumsrush and Clitty the Cat. Acted out via sound files.

Gay Daze

What's it all about? A "tacky" gay and lesbian soap opera of "colossal proportions" with a "cute 80s feel" set (where else?) in West Hollywood. All the men have gelled big hair with floppy fringes and there's a token alternative dyke called Fran. Each episode is from the point of view of a different character. Sample line: "Yes, I slayed the vicious homophobic dragon but I also almost lost my husband Drew."

Dyke Street

What's it all about? The loves and lives of the residents of Dyke Street. It looks a bit minimalist and has characters called Bev and Mandy, and they hang out at a bar that has a pool table and drink pints and play on fruit machines so if you're middle-class you'll probably be horrified at how common everyone seems. Sample line: Are the newcomers dykes? Will Julie cope with Bev's jealousy? Will the squatters return? Are there any straights living in Dyke Street?

Gays of Our Lives

What's it all about: "the story of a group of queers and one flatulent dog who live in a small city somewhere in the northeast United States." Apparently, the site is undergoing a transformation at the moment and I couldn't find any episodes.

I don't think the market's been saturated quite yet.. Any takers?

Friday, March 21, 2003

If only children ruled the world

You know you're getting old when you find yourself using the dreaded phrase "Young people today..." And let's face it, tinijers, as my family calls them, are rather easy to make fun of. They're so easily manipulated by the media and peer pressure, in search of an identity that will simultaneously allow them to "fit in" and "stand out", they're a mess of zits and hormones, bad poetry and feeling that they're the only people in the world who've ever "felt this way". Bless them!

And for the last decade, we've complained that young people today are apolitical, pop-obsessed, shallow, hedonistic victims of an affluent society - who can afford luxuries like a "gap year", while sucking their alcopops through a straw, engaging in text message sex and living off Big Macs.

But suddenly, the war comes along, and they're waving banners and going on marches and sitting down in the middle of roads and whathaveyou. On the news last night a tinijer loudly complained that 16 year olds don't have the vote. I was suddenly remembered of one of my favourite rare musical films Wild in The Streets - where the voting age is lowered to 15, and subsequently young people take over the world, packing off everyone over 30 (me, just) to "Peace Camps" where they're force-fed LSD (even the unsinkable Shelly Winters*, see below). Maybe it's all about to come true after all? Maybe kids today are a political force to be reckoned with?

Or maybe not? As Charlie notes, what a wonderful chance for mayhem the recent protests have been. And because of that, how seriously can we take them? For every Body-Shop buying, vegetarian, politically-conscious Jemma, won't there be five Tracys who have decided to go on the march "for a laugh" and the chance to get themselves on the news and hopefully kick-start their career as a "television presenter" or "pop idol".

To be honest, if I was at school again, I'd very happily go on an anti-war demo, or an anti-anything demo, if it meant that I didn't have to go to double PE. I'd be much more impressed if this recent spate of demos had happened out of school time, as the earlier February 15th march did. And I'd also be more impressed if children showed how committed to peace they were by doing something as revolutionary as going into their school - and doing their homework, rather than acting like, well, typical truanting teenagers hanging round a bus-shelter with nothing better to do. The anti-war protests have simply validated naughty behaviour and have somewhat spoilt the work of the earlier campaigns.

And while we're on it - I'm not sure how sitting in the road is going to stop the war - other than delaying the journeys of hundreds of people who may also be against the war. And the time the police spend on these protests could be better utilised on other things. Really well-thought out kids!

I'm not saying this because I'm particularly anti- or pro- war. Fox News scares me, and I don't like the way certain Americans (see below) are removing all references to France from their language, just because they don't agree with them. As I've mentioned earlier, I've taken so many people's points of view into account that I can't make a commmitted stance either way, and I'm just grateful it's not me having to make the decisions. Perhaps things are more black and white to other people.

I am glad I live in a country where people can demonstrate. But I wish they could be a bit more classy about it. Truanting and being noisy is so very, for want of a better word, childish. Still, I can't blame them. There isn't much good pop music around at the moment.

*In keeping with the Trash theme of this web log, I can manage to bring any subject around to Shelly Winters, given long enough...

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Erik Estrada played a macho, thick-haired, beefy motorcycle cop in the 1970s tv series Chips. Over the last few months, I've noticed pictures on the internet of him, smiling and pointing into the camera, with the words "you're a fag/homo/etc" underneath. But where did they come from and why?

One possible explanation is at whereas another one is at

And at We also find that in 1999, in the film King Cobra, Estrada had a three minute cameo where he played an "over-the-top" homosexual. And according to Estrada has got back together with co-star Larry Wilcox to make gay porn.

I may not have found out the origins of those pictures - but I have found out that the internet can be a pretty weird place if you start typing words into google.
My favourite Dolly song is a little-known tune called "The Bargain Store". It's one of Dolly's fast and plaintive ones, and employs a "love as commodity" metaphor that I find rather disturbing/disarming. In the song, it's clear that Dolly is "damaged goods" - and her life is like the titular bargain store. She's got such a low opinion of herself that she can be sold to the lowest bidder, any bidder - "If you don't mind the fact that all the merchandise is used. But with a little mending it could be as good as new." And best of all, all you need to purchase the entire shop is "love". Hear it here.

I also love songs about poverty-stricken women from the wrong side of the tracks who have to claw their way to the top, but end up regretting the fact that they've lost their morality somewhere along the way. Diana Ross's "I'm Livin' in Shame" set a very high standard with lyrics like "Mama...wore a sloppy dress Oh no matter how she tried she always looked a mess, Out of the pot she ate, never used a fork or a dinner plate." Later on, selfish Di goes to a posh school and tells her friends that Mama died on a weekend trip to Spain. When Mama dies (while making homemade jam) there's a cloying crescendo and cries for forgiveness.

But even better is Bobby Gentry's "Fancy" (recently covered by Megan Mullally). In this tale of "plain white trash", Fancy's mom gets her all tarted up like a hooker and tells her to leave their run down shack and make her fortune. Gentry manages to sing lines: "And I shivered as I watched a roach crawl across The toe of my high heeled shoe." without cracking a smile. Fancy never sees her mother again - and eventually becomes a lady with an elegant New York townhouse flat. However, was it all worth it? Here's Mullally's version, courtesy of Zbornak. I'm addicted to it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

One of my favourite type of books is the slap n tell biography. This genre was popularised by Christina Crawford when she wrote the notorious "Mommy Dearest" - about her mother Joan "Hot stuff coming through" Crawford. The book was subsequently made into a so-bad-it's-good film, which I often force guests to sit through, testing them afterwards on their ability to remember lines such as "I'm not mad at you, I'm mad at the dirt" and "Tina, Bring me the axe!"

However, Christina dosn't have the monopoly on abused children getting revenge on their movie star mothers. "My Mother's Keeper" is by BD Davis, the glamorous, long-suffering daughter of Bette. Lately I've been looking forward to going to bed every evening, so that I can catch up on another chapter of Bette's very special way of child-rearing. Every telephone conversation between mother and daughter ends with Bette spitting out a mouthful of abuse (never "goodbye") followed by the words "Click. Dial tone." Bette was a crazy, jealous alcoholic apparently, who couldn't stand it when BD got married, and devised various failed schemes to try to split them up "He's been having an affair since day one!"

There's something both fascinating and horrific about movie stars, paticularly when they go wrong. One of the things I have to look forward to as I grow older is the inevitable succession of less-than-sugar-sweet biographies about today's cinema elite. I'm already betting on who's into scat, who has a meths habit, and who likes to dress up as Shirley Temple and get spanked by sailors...

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

The first casualty of war: language

My favourite scary news station is Fox News. It could have been invented by Ray Bradbury or George Orwell. The newscasters look like Real Dolls and there's an air of mad dystopic future society-gone-wrong about it. The reporting is somewhat right-wing and fuzzy, and I keep expecting to hear reports about invading ants from Mars (Starship Troopers), or hearing that the president's nose has been kidnapped (Sleeper). Oddly, the last time I watched Fox News, they were showing the weather of the world - but they missed off France altogether. There it was, on the map, but it didn't have any numbers showing its temperature attached to it. Maybe it was a co-incidence, but I got the impression that like a jilted lover, Fox News has decided to cut France out of all its photos.

And today I read that "French fries" have been banned by the cafeterias in the House of Representatives three office buildings by Bob Ney, an Ohio Republican. Instead they will be known as "Freedom fries". French toast will also be now known as "Freedom toast".

I don't even think Bradbury and Orwell could have come up with a more crazy use of language regulation, but there you go.

I've decided to take it further - Debbie Harry - how dare you! I demand you re-record your 1980s hit pop song as "Freedom kissing in the USA!" Prostitutes will now have to advertise their "Freedom polishing" in the shop windows of newsagents.

Of course - the word "cafe" is French anyway - so that needs to go to. Perhaps it could be renamed "Freedometeria". And woebetide anyone caught using the following words: baguette, faux pas, rendezvous, nouveau riche, laissez faire, en masse and cuisine. Their days are numbered.

Monday, March 17, 2003

And Gloria vardad the sparkle, that it was bona.

I was contacted by Sister Martini Bianca of the Manchester branch of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to be told that some of the sisters had created a computer programme which can translate things into the old gay language variety, Polari - something which I have some connection to.

Anyway, the bible is here - and very nice it looks too.

Saturday, March 15, 2003

Perhaps we should all be reading the Guardian's Cricket pages?

I'm sure it's all in the name of charity.

Goodbye Thora Hird - one of Morecambe's finest. She played the role of nice Granny to the UK for the last 30 years. Stannah stairlift ads will never be the same again, nor will Alan Bennet monologues. Or Sunday evenings.

Friday, March 14, 2003

He's the cartoonist with the not-so-hidden message. Welcome to the black and white world of Jack Chick, a Christian who was given his drawing talents by God. Jack Chick draws little parables, from modern-day life, to help spread the message of Our Lord in a let's say, popular way.

But just what is the Lord trying to communicate to us, through Mr Chick's skilled hands?

Well, you Dungeons and Dragons geeks had better slap yourselves back into the real world (yes, the one where angels live in the sky,) because D&D is officially evil and wrong. "Debbie thought playing Dungeons and Dragons was fun...until it destroyed her friend. The intense training through D&D prepared Debbie to accept the invitation to enter a witches coven." You'll be very pleased to know that the cartoon ends in a mass burning of "occult paraphernalia like... rock music, charms an Dungeons and Dragons material."

Meanwhile Bobby and his friends start a rock group but it all ends in tears (vampirism and ODs to be exact). And in the Gay Blade a horrified mother and daughter shake in fear at a gay couple wearing a "gay revolution" t-shirt. "Gay Revolution: To most people it's a big joke... but is it really?"

Ain't religion great!

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Strange days

I am slowly becoming obsessed with Baroness Strange - a name which only Charles Dickens could have created. One of the few hereditary peers who survived the House of Lords cull in 1999, the Baroness, like the other hereditary Lords had to write a 75 word "manifesto" in order to stay on. Here's a sample of what she wrote: "Writes Lords Diary. Brings flowers. Loves House of Lords. Passionate about War Widows, the Services, Scotland, children, animals, defence, foreign affairs, elderly."

Brings flowers?

I'll repeat it. Brings flowers? Should that be a reason for remaining in the House of Lords? It worked anyway. A closer examination of the evidence reveals that Baroness S is mad on flowers. They're her "thing". During a debate on the repeal of homophobic Section 28, the Baroness made an impassioned speech which ran: "Yesterday, when I was kneeling in the snowdrops in the woods at home, picking fresh white blossoms with their sharp, sweet scent, they made me think of the innocence, purity and loveliness of children, of their fresh clear eyes and of their direct way of looking at things. I was lucky enough to have a very happy childhood; so did my children and my grandchildren. I should like all children in the world to keep that childhood happiness and innocence for as long as possible. We all have a long time indeed in which to be grown up."

The Baroness occasionally writes an almost politics-free column for "The House Magazine" - the parliamentary magazine. Read her further fascination with flowers here and here. I love her breezy, cosy descriptions of her day-to-day life. She's a marvel.

Incidentally, I know what my next Halloween costume is going to be.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Celebrities on a Bad Day" Check out Liza Minelli, Monica Lewinsky and Rosie O'Donnell.

Go to Coedine Demons and nominate your very own Fantasy Flat Share.

Mrs Miller's Greatest hits Lovely.

It's hello and goodbye to Tory candidate for (ultra safe Labour seat) Llanelli, 22-year-old John Jenkins, whose recent comments on a website have resulted in him standing down.

"I hold my hands up and admit to being 'homophobic' if you must label me... I cannot convince myself of anything other than homosexuality being a medical mental condition... I would not harm an individual for being gay but just think that they need medical attention rather than their 'fashionable' display of sexual deviancy being pandered to."

The Tories have rushed to distance themselves from these rather unfortunate remarks. Perhaps the BNP will have him? I'm feeling very catty today, so I'll only comment that his facial proportions are somewhat unusual - those lips! That chin. That oily T-zone. And for 22, he looks like he's had a hard paper round. If there was anyone in need of a make-over, it's him.

Speaking of make-overs, I hate to do this to Sun editor Rebekah Wade, but I'm going to have to start a naming and shaming campaign of my own. That hair-do is a hair-don't. If she's got all that money to pay the police for information, then you'd think she could afford £10 at "Hair Cuttery" to allow a teenage trainee to hack it all off and start again. Fix it please.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Three boos to Iain Duncan Smith after last night's House of Commons debate on the repeal of Clause 28 (the one which attempts to stop local education authorities from "promoting" homosexuality). Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Cotswold) presented a compromise proposal designed to get parents to vote on the sex education children received (it was rejected). He then abstained to preserve his "neutrality".

Edward Leigh, the former rightwing minister, who tabled the pro-section 28 amendment with Ms Widdecombe, said "Most British people are tolerant of homosexual people. However, whether you like it or not many people think that homosexual practice is wrong. That is what tolerance means. It means putting up with something you believe to be wrong. Some say it prevents any discussion of homosexuality in the classroom, that it prevents teachers from tackling bullying, that it is a hate clause. None of these are true. It is about the use of local authority money for the active promotion of homosexuality".

In the end, the Tory attempts to scupper the repeal fail - and now it goes to that exemplar institute of progressive social values - The House of Lords. That's where the fur should really fly. In previous debates on homosexuality, some of the Lords have come out with bizarre statements - Earl of Longford "Of course I have seen people recover from homosexualism." and "A girl is not ruined for life by being seduced. A young fellow is." Lord Quirk "I am concerned only to ensure that girls and boys alike are properly informed of the dangers of anal sex so that they can make informed choices as they can in relation, for example, to tobacco." And best of all, Baroness Young: "I do not believe that there is any human right to commit buggery.", "It is said that this whole issue is one of equality. I do not myself believe that there is a moral equivalence between heterosexual and homosexual relationships." Baroness Young died recently - but I bet, like all Disney villainesses, a drop of blood on her ring, would revive her spirit...

Sunday, March 09, 2003

Last week, while walking down the corrdidor at work I passed a group of students who were looking at some notice about coursework on the noticeboard. "Oh God!" said one, clearly displeased about something. "That is so GAY!"

Just as words like "queer" and "dyke" have been reclaimed as positive concepts, the word "gay" has been reclaimed as a homophobic one. And nobody bothered to tell me. A further investigation reveals that this has been going on for a while and is teenager-speak. "I use it all the time," a female (fag-hag) friend tells me. "I don't mean it to be homophobic. It's different from the other use of gay." Even gay rights advocates seem to be using it. I've recently noticed a poster at my University which says "Homophobia is Gay".

So is it OK to use "gay" to mean something lame or bad? I'd argue every time that it isn't. For example, would it be OK to give "black" a secondary meaning as bad? How are people who are on the verge of coming out going to create an identity for themselves if "gay" has so many associations with lameness? Gay is about the most positive word that we have for ourselves. It's not ideal, but it's taken 30 years to establish it as something we can be proud of - and now a stupid, thoughtless teenage word fad is attempting to wrestle it away from us. Even if people are claiming to use the word in two different ways now, we could well do without the association - particuarly while homophobia still exists.

Friday, March 07, 2003

Today - stupid music that changed my life.

Everybody wants to be a cat - doesn't every child get given a Disney Album for their 5th birthday? Even before I knew what phrases like "everybody digs a swinging cat" meant, I knew there was something sleazy and slightly dangerous about this song, with its Beatnik allusions to late-night jazz/scat sessions. I so wanted to be the little pink kitten who sang along with "oh a-rinky-tinky-tinky!" Still do.

I'm in the mood for dancing - The Nolan Sisters. Their shiny 1970s innocence set the tone for my childhood. They were like Lady Di multiplied by 5. I loved them all - especially when they rhymed the word "dancing" with "romancing".

When a child is born - Johnny Mathis. During 1991 I had a job stacking shelves in Wilcos, the cost-cutting superstore for students, pensioners and people from Social Class C2/D/E. I "priced" and "faced" products - they put me on the easy "home-brew" section to start with, but by Christmas I gradually progressed on to the difficult home furnishings section. And all the while, a tape on a loop played Johnny Mathis singing "And all of this happens because the world is waiting, waiting for one child - black, white, yellow, no-one knows!" Oddly, I never tired of hearing it.

Hue and Cry - Labour of Love - With a busy, stringy introduction, this Scottish (Coatbridge!) band introduced me and my friend Kathryn to the phrase "psuedo-satisfaction baby!" in 1988. We thought we were so grown up. Oh to get into Pat Kane's cold cold heart.

A Fist Full of Dollars - Hugo Montenegro. It was also in the late 1980s that my father arrived home one night with a box of old albums that were meant for the jumble sale. I picked out one in particular which was music of old spaghetti western movies. After listening to A Fist Full of Dollars something clicked in my head and I realised that I was gay. Mr Montenegro has a lot to answer for.

Calling Occupants (Of interplanetary craft) one of the lesser-known Carpenters hits. This was Karen and Richard's "message" to the aliens who are watching our planet. World Contact Day is about to happen, so please "close your eyes and concentrate". We are your friends. In hind-sight, knowing what happened to Karen - it's all too obvious, that like one of those Ray Bradbury short stories, somehow, she became the aliens. Or we did. Or something.

Thursday, March 06, 2003

So former Welsh Secretary Ron Davies has admitted making trips to a "notorious gay cruising haunt" but only to watch badgers and stretch his legs.

So what?

If it's one thing that mainstream society hates about gay men is the fact that they can get sex relatively quickly and easily, without having to spend an evening buying drinks for someone and being witty and attentive, in the hope that they'll take pity on them.

But is gay cruising actually that different from what straight boys and girls get up to these days? If I watched say Granda Men and Motors, Bravo or Sky One after ten o'clock, I'm likely to see alcohol-damaged heterosexuals making arses of themselves in tacky holiday resorts. Waving their private parts at the camera, keeping a tally of how many people they can have sex with in two weeks and vomitting in the swimming pool - do they have ANY respect for the sancity of monogamy any more? A Sky One gameshow called Temptation Island actually tries to get couples to play away from home.

At least when gay men decide they want sex, it's altogether a quieter experience. What's worse? Discreetly hanging around a local beauty spot after the sun's gone down, and disappearing off into the bushes with someone, or getting rat-arsed in the Ibiza equivalent of Yates Wine Lodge with your mates, before pulling off your bra and shaking your breasts in some stranger's face, in front of all his friends for a "laugh"? The only difference, apart from one of taste, is that if you're remotely famous, the former activity will get you in the tabloids - while the latter won't. All hail the straights, and their silly, stupid hypocritical sex rules.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Am I thick because I saw The Hours and got bored about halfway through? I could see what it was getting at, but I've been spoilt forever by MTV culture. I want to see people smearing their private parts in jam and then walking into a beehive, just like they do on Jackass. I don't want them to talk (slowly) to each other!

Finished reading Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs - the first proper novel I've read outside of a holiday period in years. There's a tenuous link back to The Hours there, as Julianne Moore is slated to play the mother in the film of the book. It's almost impossible to escape Julianne Moore at the moment - everywhere I look, she's been interviewed, touted for an Oscar nomination, talking about being a 1950s housewife and showing her bits and bobs in Short Cuts which was ages ago and not that shocking.

I kind of enjoyed Running With Scissors anyway - although the "look how my version of what's normal is so weird!" theme got a bit wearing by the end. But can America cope with a book that describes a gay relationship with a 13 year old and a 30-something year old - particularly one where the 13 year old is the manipulative bitch?

Watched a DVD of the best of French and Saunders at the weekend. When I was growing up, French and Saunders were my idols - their quirky feminist humour was such a welcome relief from the likes of The Russ Abbott Show or Duncan "chase me" Norvelle. However, after watching the DVD I was disppointed in that I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. Their humour - which was edgy at the time, now seems quite gentle. Maybe it's because the current spate of British humour - Bo Selecta, League of Gentlemen etc is a lot more brutal.

I left some films at my parents' house the other week - half were Hollywood blockbusters for my Dad (Pitch Black, AI etc) the other were obscure arty films for him to give to my sister (Ghost World, 8 1/2, The Canterbury Tales etc). However, he mixed up the two piles and ended up being shocked by Passolini. "You have some very strange tastes in films!" he remarked. Apparently, he had gestured at the pile while they had company round, and said inexplicably "Those films have a hidden meaning!" At least I'm not totally dumbed-down yet.

Monday, March 03, 2003

Hurrah for Skip Elsheimer who maintains the A/V Geeks archive, which specialises in bizarre old educational films. My copy of AV Geeks Ride Again arrived this morning - a compilation of some of the weirdest short films ever made. Highlights included VD Attack Plan (made by Disney) - a cartoon about venereal disease, Orange and Blue (a weird film about two balls who bounce around what looks like a disused logging factory - apparently it's an analogy for Nazi Germany), and Pride on Parade - thinly disguised propaganda made by a hotdog company, whereby a hotdog factory is compared to pupils playing musical instruments in a parade. Footage of children marching around is cruelly interspersed with footage of blunt instruments hacking apart meat to make the hotdogs. The hotdog theme continues with Case Study - LSD. A woman relates her weird LSD experience when the hotdog she buys grows a face and starts to scream when she eats it. Crazy stuff.

Telezonia starts off with four children who are too afraid to use the telephone because they don't know how. Suddenly they get sucked inside - in a sequence which looks like they've been taking LSD too. But they haven't - instead they've arrived at Telezonia - where a camp PeeWee Herman type and his off-off-Broadway fag-hag friends (who are dressed as punctuation marks) sing and dance until the poor kids know waaaaay too much about how the telephone works.

They can't be taught, but they CAN be trained!

But finally - and it really is worth the wait, is The ABC of Sex Education for Trainables ('trainables' non-euphemistically referred to as 'the retarded' at one point in this excruciatingly compelling film). You think it can't get any worse, but it does. "They can't be taught - but they CAN be trained." And trained they are, while we all get to watch. Highlights include what to do if one of your trainables can't stop masturbating under the table instead of playing colouring in with all the other trainables. There's another scene where a woman walks in on a teenage boy while he's playing with himself under the sheets. With a fixed grin and a voice that makes her sound like a Stepford Wife she tells him that she's sorry she interrupted him and that she's glad he has the sense to do that sort of thing in private. After she leaves, the camera pulls in for a close-up as the teenager slowly and eerily starts to smile. We see trainables role-playing asking each other out on dates (one who has a broad Brooklyn accent), and then we get to see the dangers of homosexual cottaging when one trainable receives unwanted attention at a public urinal. Another trainable is embarrased to get out of bed because he's had a wet dream, but luckily there's a male counsellor on hand to explain it all. It has to be seen to be believed.

Afterwards, of course, I felt guilty for laughing.

Sunday, March 02, 2003

Drugs of choice:

Mr Pop Dizzy expresses his disappointment at the new gay magazine ReFresh - supposedly for intelligent gay men, but has a higher pectoral quotient than most. Clearly it is for intelligent gay men... who also like to look at pictures of half dressed twinks while spending lots of money on fashion and home furnishings.

Which leads to several questions. Does being intelligent mean that you can't like looking at pictures of twinks? Or is it OK to admit to being shallow? Perhaps the point is that if you're intelligent you realise you're being manipulated by the pretty pictures, usually to make you buy stuff and feel bad about yourself so you'll... duh.. buy more stuff.

Also, is it possible for a gay magazine to exist that is actually intelligent (and would it survive more than three issues without closing down due to its readership being 2 people?) Is magazine publishing really all about economics and the lowest common denominator? Is being gay just about sex and pecs? In my ideal world, a gay magazine would have no articles about fashion, clothes, holidays, cosmetics or other stuff to buy. It would have interviews with older gay men, lots of comic strips, articles about the many ways there are to be gay, and about what to do if you don't like the mainstream gay scene. There would be sex in it, but it would be honest sex with no agenda, featuring ordinary people, not underpaid Hungarian straight boys. And it wouldn't be written in that pseudo-cynical AbFab media drawl either. It wouldn't assume you lived in the city and were in your early 20s.

And only two people would buy it.
Give me a hotel room with a seaview and room service, a laptop, a handful of DVDs and I'm perfectly happy for the weekend. I don't think I'll ever get tired of going to Llandudno - there isn't much to particularly do there, except walk up and down the sea front and visit the rather old fashioned shops (seaside resorts always seem to be about 30 years behind everywhere else), but it's a wonderful way to waste time and get away from the hassles of real life.

Feelings of frustrated paternalism have been coursing through me and partner lately. I think I would make a jolly good father. I'm relatively well-off, good-looking (still have all my own hair and teeth), have a PhD and have authored 2 and a half books. Most people agree that I am sickeningly well-mannered and well-adjusted most of the time. So if there are any women reading this who would like to have a baby but can't be bothered with all the fuss of bringing one up, then please get in touch. I'm only half-joking.