Thursday, December 30, 2004

The Christmas tree, having overstayed its welcome, was taken down last night. Various friends and relatives have been visiting, which has been nice. The Asia Earthquake on the news is alternatively annoying, upsetting, boring and exciting. I've hated watching the total of dead people rise and rise (it's a bit like watching Blue Peter when they have one of their charity drives - how much money have we made this week? Let's look at the chart.... oh, it's going up.... £100,000. Well done everyone!") I'm also kind of annoyed that the number of dead British people is made such a fuss about, when it's barely in double figures, whereas there are hundreds of thousands of mortalities.

I've been to Sri Lanka in the past, it's one of those countries where it's very easy for wealthy westerners to have guilty luxury holidays as things are so cheap. I do remember travelling along the costal roads on the way from one resort to another and seeing mile after mile of shanty towns, although what struck me was how smilely the people were (and how many of them had brilliant white teeth - I guess that's what a lack of access to western junk food will give you). One thing I'm pretty certain of though, not many of those little makeshift houses are likely to still exist after this week. Rotten luck for communities that weren't particularly lucky in the first place.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Channeling Gene

Having just watched Singing in the Rain on Channel 5, here's a picture of Gene Kelly in a sailor suit (two of my favourite things).

When I was very young I used to dance around my grandparent's lawn re-enacting Singing in the Rain, to the amusement of my family. I think they all should have realised something was up even then...

I had 31 spams in my mailbox today. It seems that the spammers don't stop, even for Christmas. They probably have little automated programs which do the spamming for them, but I like to think of them sitting in their scruffy homes, refusing to leave the spare bedroom/office to eat Christmas Dinner because they still have another 30 million pointless emails to send out.

Friday, December 24, 2004

I haven't been doing very much except watching tv and reading. My new television (see below) is so large and has such good picture quality that you can see all of the minute facial flaws of actors who you previously thought were quite attractive. Now nobody's poor dental hygiene or lack of skincare routine can escape me. I'm not even going to mention the Big Brother Pantomime "experiment", except to say that Kitten looked even more mortified than usual and everyone involved should really be very ashamed of themselves.

I am reading a big sociology textbook (for fun) and am up to the chapter on social class. It is (unintentionaly) hilarious in places and should be turned into a sitcom with a voiceover reading out bits of the book exactly as they are written. Apparently you can tell your social class by the way your sofas are arranged. Also, working-class people "live for the moment", and say things like "what will be will be", which has become something of a constant catch-phrase in Casa Odana over the last few days.

I am also reading Jon Ronson's "Them" - he's one of those young humorous journalists (the ones who write the G2 "tabloid" section of The Guardian), a bit gawky, but kind of endearing with it. His book examines the theory that a small group of powerful people (The Bildeberg Group aka The New World Order) rule the world, meeting once a year in various hotels. They may or may not be giant lizards, depending on who you listen to. I think I might have absent-mindedly filled in a membership form for them (it was at the back of an old copy of GQ magazine). However, I decided not to send it off - controlling the world is a big committment, and I'd rather free up my evenings and weekends for arranging my sofas and living for the moment.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

You can keep Little Britain and its 1970s-esque, safe, predictable comedy. My favourite comedy series of the last couple of years is 3 Non-Blondes, now out on DVD. A "character"-driven sketch show, the girls approach members of the public and start interacting with them, in increasingly bizarre ways. Sometimes they dress as businesswomen and pick fights with each other. My favourite series of sketches involves them dressing as The Queen of Swaziland, her interpreter and a representative from the U.N. The Queen decides she wants to meet a member of the public and then throws a huge tantrum when they accidentally make eye contact with her. The U.N. representative then usually resigns on the spot, leaving the poor member of the public alone with the furious queen who speaks no English.

My favourite non-blonde is Jocelyn Jee Esien, who is able to make me laugh without doing anything. Whenever I'm in touristy bits of London, I always look out for her, hoping she'll try and involve me in one of her sketches by talking bad rap-rhymes to me ("check my lyrics, check my lyrics", saying "vah vah vah vah vah vah vah do you know if there are any vegetarian restaurants round here?" or shining a torch under her face, screaming "AAaaaaahhh! The witching hour approches!" and proclaiming "I LOVE horror films!" I think I would probably propose to her on the spot.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Evil Edna

It was the biggest one in the shop, comes fully prepared for HDTV and looks sleekly evil. I haven't left the sofa all week. Even QVC seems oddly relevant and beautiful when watched on it. I feel like I've turned into one of those futuristic women in 1960s science fiction short stories written by people like Asimov and Bradbury. They had names like Lenina or Jimilla84. They gradually became addicted to the "telescreen" and could no longer tell real life from reality tv etc. Just call me Lenina.

Gaydar have started a new thing, (or maybe it's an old thing that I just noticed) where users can nominate their favourite profiles, which are then presented in monthly top 10s. The winners all look exactly as you would imagine. After thinking about it for 4 seconds, I decided it was time to delete my profile. I've not exactly made any friends on gaydar, maybe having a profile that says "I am in a relationship" isn't going to help, and I never really entered into the spirit of things, as I didn't have any pictures of my private parts. Also, I could never get into the habit of calling other people "m8". However, it's very easy to mock gaydar, too easy. So I'll stop now. Back to the tv...

Monday, December 20, 2004

What's the Matter With Waterstones?

I am fairly lucky, living in a small town which has a large University-based population, so there are several bookshops and even an arts cinema, even if it does show films about 6 months later than everywhere else.

However, I've noticed a change in the local Waterstones bookshop over the last few years. A definite dumbing-down-down-down. My Waterstones is quite small, but in the past there were sections for gay novels, cult novels and "black" writing. All this has now gone. And what's in place? A whole section on cats. Another section on doing things with extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Another section about taking walks in France. All very good if you are a middle-class 48 year old woman called Anne, but not so much fun for anyone else.

In addition, there seem to be more and more books that aren't actually proper books at all, but are more for people who don't really like to read. These "books" tend to be quite small, have lots of pictures in them, and are "funny". I know that this is more of a trend at Christmas, but they do seem to be gaining ground throughout the year. They tend to have titles like "Crap Towns" or "Bad Hairstyles". They take all of 10 minutes to read. I guess they're for people who don't like to commit to having to read a full book, but would rather be seen to have books in their house, without the nasty fuss of reading/thinking.

I always instinctively distrust and hate people who say they never read books. I feel like saying, "OK, how about you give your human DNA back and become a horse instead!" I regularly have about five books on the go at once, and have always read from an early age. I got eye strain as a child because I would never go straight to sleep, but would read under the covers. While I also love television and particularly film, I do think that there's something you get from a book that tv/film can't give you (and vice versa for that matter). Maybe with the likes of Amazon, bookshops have had to go for a lower common denominator in order to survive. But it does make browsing a smallish bookshop into a less enjoyable experience. Now where's the balsamic vinegar?

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Did anyone see Tracy Emin's "Top Spot" last night on BBC3? Having read a fascinating interview in The Guardian with Emin about the film, where she loses her temper with the interviewer who is less than fawning about it("I DON'T NEED THIS CRAP FROM YOU", "When was the last time you went to the cinema?"), I was interested in seeing what all the fuss was about and whether it was as boring as the interviewer had claimed (and whether it deserved the 15 certificate for its teen suicide scene).

So....I liked the music, and as a fan of slightly crap British seaside towns, the scenery was good too. But I wasn't mad on the rest of it. There were a couple of moments where the film captured something about the fragility and resilience of being a teenage girl, but the dialogue could have been better. And maybe there should have been a couple of big explosions, a bit more gratuitous nudity (only kidding).

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Here's to the Ladies Who Race.

The Amazing Race (season 6) is underway in the U.S. and it's proving to be as crazy, high-octane and emotive as previous series. Ostensibly an elimation/race contest, the real fun is in watching the slowly disintegrating relationships between contestants as Time Runs Out for them. Oh, and it's also quite amusing seeing pampered westeners having to deal (often in disgust) with other cultures: "We're in ghetto Africa" said one contestant last week "They just keep breeding!"

Despite the numerous boring aspiring model/actor pairings, there are a few crazies who make the show so watchable. My favourite are Victoria and Jonathan. He has blue hair and is so controlling and Type-A that he occasionally resorts to physical violence in moments of frustration. Poor Victoria just trails along after him, unable to do anything right in his eyes. He also has an amusing high-pitched squawling voice. Having come 2nd three times so far, they are desparate to win - Jonathan ditched his rucksack last week in order to hurry across the finish line. But it was up to Victoria to pick it up (scared someone would steal it) and carry his rucksack and her own to the finish. Wracked with agony, and screaming and wheezing EXACTLY like Heather in the final seconds of The Blair Project, she limped second place again. Jonathan's ensuing rage could only be heard by dogs in a five mile radius. I give their relationship exactly five more minutes. And if they're not exciting enough, there are pro-wrestler couple Lori and Bolo (described by another "kindly" contestant as 5ft and on steroids). When the red mist descends over their relationship (and it's often) expect the fur to fly, in words of one syllable only. They must win (with Jonathan and Victoria coming in second place hopefully).

Monday, December 13, 2004

Spaghetti Western Addict

I'm so happy because I have discovered another thing that I like. I caught the last 10 minutes of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly the other night and was impressed at the camp music, the starkly beautiful vistas, the tense facial close-ups, the cool masculinity and the clever three-way end-game.

Having now obtained and watched the whole film (all three hours of it), I have now fallen in love with the whole genre. And Clint Eastwood. Clint Eastwood stroking a kitten! Clint Eastwood offering a cigarette to a dying Brad Pitt lookalike! Clint Eastwood striding around in a poncho! It's one of the most homoerotic films I've ever seen. (Off-side, Clint reminds me a lot of cowboy Colby from Survivor 2, who is rumoured to be in his own homoerotic relationship with host Jeff Probst. I wish I could believe it).

My Dad also likes Spaghetti Westerns, although probably for quite different reasons. Still, at least this gives us something extra to talk about over Christmas.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

New Word for the Day

When tv shows go bad, it's called "Jumping the Shark" (after the episode of Happy Days when the Fonz did just that. As far as I'm concerned, Happy Days jumped the shark in the first scene of the first episode, but that's beside the point.) Over at lots of co, there is a discussion about how to refer to tv shows that suddenly get good. The consensus seems to be locklearing - after Heather Locklear who did wonders for Melrose Place towards the end of Season 1.

Here are some of my favourite locklearing moments:

Coronation Street - when Jason Grimshaw kissed Nicky. The soap hasn't looked back since.

Big Brother4 (US) - when Jack said Dana had the sex appeal of a buzzard's crotch

Will & Grace - when Karen and Jack touched stomachs in episode 2.

Surivor series 1 - when the tribes merged and Gretchen got shockingly voted off.

EastEnders - when Michelle learnt she was pregnant (this is going back to the mid 1980s now, it's since jumped the shark many many times).

Footballer's Wives - The first time Gary Lucy's bare arse appeared in a shower-room sequence.

Bad Girls - The arrival of glamorous con-artistes Stephanie Beecham and Amanda Barrie as the "Costa Cons".

Blakes Seven - When Servalan said "Maximum Power!"

Flame on!

So Gerald Allan, Republican representative in Alabama (looks like a creepy closet case to me) wants to ban literature or other materials that "promote homosexuality". I think I'm having a flashback to 1988 and Margaret Thatcher's abominable Clause 28. You know that you're dealing with someone who's not exactly playing with a full deck of cards when they advocate book banning - don't they realise that they've become reduced to playing a two-dimensional character in the Ray Bradbury book Farenheit 451.

Still, as I remember, that had a happy ending - a small group of people saved literature by memorising the entire contents of books.

So just incase, I'd like to volunteer to memorise Gore Vidal's The City and The Pillar. Allan may eventually get round to burning books, but he can't burn memories. Anyone care to take Maupin, Wilde or Hollinghurst?

Monday, December 06, 2004

Sunday, December 05, 2004

A boozer, a user and a loser.

My own experience of mature students is that they're generally good, if a bit neurotic. Totally unlike Jerri Blank, star of American sitcom Strangers With Candy, which never made it across to the UK, but is awfully good. Jerri is a 43 year old high school freshman, still trying to get through school, having spent the last 25 years with her "donkey act" in South America, when she wasn't in in prison. Based on a real-life documentary called The Way Back, all three series of Strangers With Candy are now out on DVD. The pictures above are from the great cartoonesque title sequence, showing all the key points in Jerri's life. Love it.

Monday, November 29, 2004

I watched Mr Gay UK 2004 last night (or rather, I fastforwarded through it on Tivo). It reminded me of sneaking out of bed in the 1970s to watch Miss World on television. Commentators are always saying that gay culture is ahead of straight culture. I think in the case of beauty contests, we're still rather behind the mainstream.

It goes without saying that a lot of the contestants were orange, hairless and in the 20s or teens. I wouldn't abolish a beauty contest entirely, but I don't like that it's the only contest for British gay men. I would like another contest which places less emphasis on looks and more on actual achievements (political or otherwise) by gay men. Previous winners would be people like Will Young and George Michael (who reacted to being "outed" with grace, style and humour), Peter Tatchell (who campaigns tirelessly for gay rights across the world and puts up with a lot of abuse for it), Lord Alli (who as the only openly gay man in the House of Lords is often the voice of reason in the madhouse) and Duncan Lustig-Prean, a naval commander who was sacked for being gay and challenged the UK's laws on letting gay people serve in the military.

Daran Little, who has written excellent storylines handling coming out on Coronation Street (and is probably responsible for changing attitudes at a grassroots level than anyone else) is my nomination for this year's Mr Gay UK. This are people who are inspiring because they are making a difference - their legacy will be around long after the latest gym-queen du jour has been forgotten.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

And who thought this was a good idea? I hope the poor Maplins drone got an early Christmas bonus.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Mr Gay UK 2004, on tomorrow on Living TV. Officially, I'm against the whole silly thing. But unofficially, I am rooting for Mr Lawrence Oglivie of Newcastle.

Allow me to introduce you to my new hobby - looking at houses for sale on the internet and then making fun of the tastes of the people who've decorate them. Here are some of my most recent favourites.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Groc, who is perhaps the only blogger who is more of a grumpy old man than me, notes that Dixons are stopping selling VCR recorders, which is going to annoy people with a lot of VCR tapes, when their hardware eventually gives out (thanks to that marvel of advanced capitalism - inbuilt obsolescence).

I found the arrival of DVD to be annoying at first - and I'm ashamed to say that I've spent (wasted!) money buying DVDs of the same things I had on VCR, just so the quality will be better (to be honest, it's also about saving space on my shelves). If you want to know why all the charity shops in Lancaster are full of little-known cult movies from the 1970s, then I'm to blame. However, I don't think that DVD will last very long either. Already, High Definition TV has resulted in an even better picture quality, meaning that all the stuff I have on DVD will get re-released as HDTV-DVD and I will need to buy it again. Then it will probably get released as real cinema quality, allowing to it to projected huge onto a wall, with no loss of image. And then there'll probably be a 3D version made, or a holographic version, or a version which beams into your brain and lets you interact in it. So I'm kind of resigned to buying all the films I love, over and over again for the rest of my life.

On the other hand, I won't be updating my mobile phone any time soon (unless it breaks). It has a naff ring tone, no picture or video facility and looks cruddy as most of the surface casing has worn away due to it living in my pocket with my keys. But no amount of "ashamed of your mobile?" adverts will make me change.

Last night, ITV showed a tv programme called Chubby Chasers, which was about the FA (Fat Admirer) Community. There are plenty of websites devoted to this, both of the porn and non-porn variety. The programme focussed on issues of self-confidence and pride that fat women can feel, knowing that there are men who find them attractive. It ignored the fact that it's not necessarily men liking fat women, but there are other combinations such as men liking fat men etc. It also glossed over the more controversial health issues - one of the women had had to have a trachectomy, resulting in there being a white pipe sticking out of her neck. There's also the issue of "feeders", people who want their partner to gain more and more weight. And in a world where so many people are starving etc, aiming to be 25 stone or whatever, could be interpreted as a bit of a global fuck-you! At the same time, Fat Admirers are still viewed as fetishists - being against the norm, and who wants to be someone's fetish? I once had someone email me who had seen my photo on the internet and said I had a big Adam's Apple that turned him on and did I have any more such photos. I'm afraid that email went in my "crazy" archive. Still, I guess it's nice that there's someone for everyone.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Bruce LaBruce's new film Raspberry Reich is out on DVD. Unfortunately it isn't very good. He hit a relative high point with Hustler White. The only good line in the film is when one of the characters is at a shooting gallery, she turns to the camera and shouts (almost all of the dialogue is shouted) "The REVOLUTION is my BOYFRIEND!" A lot has been made of the fact that the film contains hardcore sex. Fortunately, a lot of this is covered over by little images of Tony Blair and George Bush which effectively censor erect penises. It probably sounded like a good idea at the time, but in reality it's just silly. The actors aren't particularly attractive either, so you kind of wish they'd just kept their clothes on (or spent longer in the gym).

On a happier note, I have obtained a copy of a fabulous book called "Reach for The Big Time". It's a book of publicity pictures of wannabe stars from the 1970s and 1980s. They have names like Reggie Mental and Annie Bright, and are so outrageously bad they're good. Apparently, one of the people featured in the book, Eddie Cantor (whose gimmick was that he had huge glasses) complained regarding copyright issues and the book has had to be pulped. Here are some of my favourite lines from the publicity posters:

Jean (Grannie) Cope. Has been playing grannies (sad and funny) for forty years. Has bicycle, will travel.

Gay Duo. Sophisticated Cabaret: songs mostly about the gay way of life. From Goblin Man to My Guy's Gone straight.

Tony James: Tony is a very clean-cut comedian with clean material. The climax being the removal of his hairpiece, which is quite hair-raising.

Disco Kid: Not so much a disco as a happening.

The Sweet Illusion Dance Band: Can create sounds from middle-of-the-road to pop.

I can see myself becoming obsessed with some of these acts and carrying out evenings of google searches in order to find out "Whatever Happened To Lori Wells and The Brothers" etc. It's so much classier to stalk someone who has probably never been stalked before. I'll keep you informed of my discoveries.

Friday, November 19, 2004

I choose you!

It is very common for gay men of a certain age (over 30) to become addicted to certain actresses or pop divas. In fact, you can tell a lot about a gay man through his choice of diva. A love of Judy Garland means you're probably quite damaged and have addiction issues. Bette Davis - you're a bitch. Joan Crawford - you're also a bitch, except you're good at hiding it. If you choose Madonna then I'm afraid you're lacking in imagination. However, my Diva of Choice is Shelly Winters. And to celebrate I've been engaging in a Shellython, watching all my favourite Shelly films again. Shelly is great because the films she chose did not cast her in glamorous roles. Instead she tended to play annoying, whiny victims or bullies. And she usually came to a sticky end (the exception being Alfie, where she ends up with a much younger man in her bed). Here are my favourite Shelly denouements (don't read if you hate spoilers):

1. The Poseidon Adventure - she drowns while trying to save the other members of the cast. It's actually her most heroic death.

2. Cleopatra Jones - playing racist, lesbian drug-baron Mommie - destroyed in a car wrecking yard.

3. Lolita. As the overbearing mother, she practically eats Humbert Humbert alive, and then is killed in a car accident after realising that he's only after her daughter. One two, cha, cha, cha!

4. The Diary of Anne Frank. And we all know how THAT turned out.

5. Night of the Hunter. Note to Shelly: Don't choose a serial killer as your husband.

6. Who Slew Auntie Roo. Burnt to death by plucky orphans. Well, if she does insist on recreating a 1970s version of Hansel and Gretal.

7. Bloody Mama - after a "spree" of robbery, murder and kidnapping, it's only a matter of time before she goes down in a blaze of glory.

8. A Place in the Sun. Murdered in a boating "accident" by Montgomery Clift. The only puzzle is that he kills her to get into Elizabeth Taylor's knickers, not Rock Hudson's!

9. What's the Matter With Helen? I can't remember exactly how this ends, but she does go mad and start killing innocent bunny rabbits.

10. Wild in the Streets. Her tour de force. Sentenced to an LSD "prison camp" along with everyone else over the age of 35 when her son becomes president of the USA. Last heard screaming "Where are my feathers?"

Saturday, November 13, 2004

One of my favourite places in the world is Llandudno, an old-fashioned seaside town on the North Wales coast, where I took my fella for his 40th birthday this week. I think the average age of people who live there is 65, and clearly time has stood still - there are still shops which sell things like gollywogs (I always scream and point at them in horror when I see them). We always stay in the Imperial Hotel on the seafront (it has creaking floors and out of date decor but it's about the best place there is). This time we even paid a visit to "Mint Condition", the hotel gym, although there were so many rules and regulations - guests weren't allowed to use the changing rooms for some reason so you are expected to get changed in your room and parade downstairs in a white terry-towelling dressing-gown, that it hardly seemed worth it).

The trip was enhanced considerably by the fact that there are so many mad people in Llandudno, who don't seem capable of self-censorship. We heard so many bizarre conversations from weirdos ("she married her childhood sweetheart!", "they didn't order MANGO TEA!", "and he looked the spit of David Dickinson") that it was like walking into an episode of Little Britain or The League of Gentleman. And I love it when ordinary people start talking in Welsh in front of me, because I like to think they are talking about me. Even though it was raining, freezing cold and windy most of the time, it is still a wonderful, magical place.

I have been getting lots of emails (OK, 3) about playing gay waterpolo. I have been four times now, and scored a goal (I think that's what they're called ) on Tuesday. I have never scored a goal before in anything, so it felt like quite an achievement. My swimming is also improving a lot - the instructor didn't shout at me at all last week.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

A friend was visiting at the weekend and wanted to see what Lancaster's gay scene was like so I took him to the only gay pub. As they go it's pretty typical - I certainly don't intend to slag it off as being any worse than any other place. However, that Jean Brodie phrase "for people who like that sort of thing, that is the sort of thing that they like" kept running through my head. As it was Saturday night, it was very full, people everywhere. The music was too loud to have a proper conversation, other than a few screamed inanities, most of which I misheard, so I ended up doing what I normally do and just nodded and smiled like I got it. And you know what, if there's anything I don't get - it's nightclubs, pubs, bars etc. Do people really want to stand up all night, getting jostled around, breathing in cigarette smoke, binge drinking, getting tinitus because of the noise? Is that really what constitutes a good time in our society? Is that the best we can come up with? Are we really so undemanding?

I think I will open up my own nightclub. It actually won't be a club, but will occur in a muddy field (and only when raining). I will serve meths laced with sugar and botulism at £3.50 a shot. People will also have bright lights shone into their eyes to give them permanent damage and be attacked at random intervals for no reason. There will also be a drag queen DJ who insults everyone. The "music" will be the sound of seals being culled, over a heavy bass drum beat played at 1000 decibels. You will have to pay a £5 entrance fee for this. I will call it something like "Probe" or "Juice" and advertise it heavily with colourful pretty flyers showing cartoons of muscle-bound Hungarian porn stars. All the cool kids are going to be there. Any takers?

Friday, November 05, 2004

The L Word (Living TV) just gets better and better. This week's episode involved a love triangle between a bisexual woman who looks like a cat, a heterosexual man and a male-identified lesbian who calls himself Lisa. Now you can't say that's been done before! There was also a storyline involving an attack by Christians on a modern art gallery where Jennifer Beals' character was showcasing some art involving Jesus fucking a woman from behind. It all characterised oh so well what Simon Schama in today's Guardian is calling the DSA (Divided States of America).

Speaking of The Guardian, did it really cause the election to go to Bush? A couple of weeks before the election they mounted a campaign asking its readers to write "oh do go on and vote Democrat" letters to voters in Clark County, one of the swingiest parts of Ohio. The responses to some of these well-meaning missives were quite funny, with enraged Americans referring to the British as "stupid, yellow-toothed pansies" with "pansy-ass, tea-sipping opinions". I think the keyword here is pansy. Although I like The Guardian, with hindsight, their "campaign" was one of the dumbest things they ever did.

I have been continuing playing waterpolo every week. Apparently my choice of swim-wear has caused considerable comment among the other members of the group. "You are invited to a bonfire party. You don't have to wear your sexy white trunks - though that would be a bonus!" went one email I got today. I've also been told that they're very revealing, particularly when wet. Have I unwittingly been bringing shame on the street?

The National Lottery is ten years old this week. I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when it started (an awful night out in Widnes). I've never bought a lottery ticket or a scratch card. Although I'm atheist, my mother was brought up Methodist and I think she may have transferred some of the values to me accidentally.

It is also Bonfire Night tonight. Fireworks are going off continually outside. Is it just me, or are fireworks really boring and crap? Every year, the entire population of Lancaster (minus me) troop up to the Castle to ooh and aah over a firework display. It's usually really cold, the ground underfoot gets muddy and the badly controlled crowd management means that it takes ages to leave. Maybe you can only see so many firework displays before "the magic" stops working and you just feel a sense of deja vu, remembering all the other firework displays you've seen. In any case, I'll be staying in.

Also, in a shameless attempt to garner more readers for Trash Addict, here is a picture of Victor Racek and "friend" from the book A Taste of Italy by Lucas Kazan. To quote Linda Barker, "I like it, I hope you will too."

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Oh Christ!

Fuck the Republicans. Fuck the bigots and their greedy, world-polluting, so-called Christian morals.

It is very hard not to be angry at how stupid and selfish the majority of people in America are right now. However, I keep reminding myself that it was a close vote and that there are plenty of unselfish and intelligent Americans. Also, there are plenty of thick greedy people in the rest of the world, including where I live (which is only marginally Labour).

As I've written here before, I don't believe in God. And normally I laugh at the potty mental illness thought processes that go with religious beliefs (in Simon Hoggart's "The Cat Who Could Open the Fridge" he cites one Christian who explains what God was doing on September 11th, 2001 - he was apparently arranging traffic jams to stop people from getting to the Twin Towers. Hmmm, makes you wonder why he didn't just cut to the chase and turn the planes into butterflies or something). So the increase and mobilisation of Christians to create a hegemonic right-wing America is somewhat worrying. I blame it on those pyschic tv hotlines - you start people off on softcore non-reality based belief systems and then once their worldview is totally skewed you hook them onto the hardcore God stuff. So think on Brits when you're making fun of Evette Fielding running around an 18th century manor in "Most Haunted" - you're being dragged away from empirical, rational thought in order to become a non-reality based goon.

However, live and let live. If people want to believe in something that doesn't exist, and attribute all sorts of weird things to it, then fine. We're all a little crazy. I wouldn't even mind if every election was decided on by Christians - so long as they actually behaved in a way that was Christian - you know, be nice to people, look after the planet - rather than behaving like the total cunts that they are.

Anyway, thank "god" for trash culture - my refuge from reality.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Rant, rant, rant.

The clocks go back, and apart from "an extra hour in bed", what have we got to look forward to. Darkness before 5pm until February. Who the "eff" (my favourite new word) came up with the idea of putting the clocks back in the UK? It's like, OK, the days are getting shorter and shorter anyway, so let's hurry along the process and rob everyone of another precious hour of daylight in the evenings. If anything, we should be putting the clocks forward! Scottish farmers have been blamed - if that's the case, why can't THEY just change their schedules? There can't be that many of them relative to the population of the UK - it's not like their pigs and crops are going to care.

At the same time, Christmas Day is has been moved forward this year to November 15th - or at least that's what it feels like when looking at the shops which are already full of Christmas Crap. It won't be long before every shop will be playing that old 70s Slade "hit", "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day". At this time of year, you kind of get the feeling that it IS Christmas every day and Slade's wish has finally come true. Anyway, I'm starting a campaign to get Christmas renamed as "Winter Shopping Festival". And to break all the clocks so they can't be put back.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

I am not going to write about America's stupid "election" because frankly my dears, it's all rather depressing and dreary and let's face it, Fox News will just cheat and declare Bush the "winner" again. Instead, I am going to write about a book I'm reading called "The Cat That Could Open The Fridge" by Simon Hoggart, writer for The Guardian newspaper. People have been sending Hoggart copies of those awful "round-robin" letters that families send each other every Christmas, and he has compiled all of the most boastful, tedious and depressing excerpts from these letters into an exceptionally funny book. It makes you realise how absolutely dreadful the middle classes are as a social group. They offer every little detail of their holidays (including progress on doing a jigsaw), name-drop shamelessly, complain about things in minute detail (particularly going into too much information about their health) and brag about the achievements of their awful children "Chloe got a merit for grade 5 clarinet etc". A lot of these people write about their caravans - something of a bete noir for me. I don't like people with caravans - they hog up the roads and they're cheap. I am going to buy several copies of the book and send it to members of my family, with a version of my own "round robin" attached to the front.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Alan Ayckbourn's "The Norman Conquests" is out on DVD. Ayckbourn writes plays about British life and they are all very wry and well-observed etc. But what makes The Norman Conquests clever is that it is actually three plays, each lasting about 100 minutes, which follow the same events that happen during a weekend, but in three different rooms of the same house. So when a character walks out of one room in the play, they're actually walking right into another room and another play. It makes you realise that the things you infer can actually turn out to be quite different when you actually get to see them first hand. There are only six characters - and Norman (Tom COnti) is romancing most of them.

It is a very British, very 1970s cast. It's hard not to love Penelope Keith - she's kind of the doyenne of middle-class manners. Shockingly tall, with perfect non-movable hair and an aristocratic nose, she's prim and bossy, with an undercurrent of vulnerable sexuality. There's another Penelope, Penelope Wilton in the play - she always ends up playing put-upon, sympathetic roles. Perhaps not so co-incidentally, both Penelopes have played alongside Richard Briers in different sitcoms (The Good Life and Ever Decreasing Circles), and Richard Briers also appears in The Norman Conquests. Somehow this makes the circularity of The Norman Conquests all the more perfect.

My favourite scene is where Richard Brier's character is trying to explain the rules of some board game he's spent ages making. His wife, played by Penelope Keith is utterly bored at the whole idea, but ends up participating grudingly. However, she keeps interrupting to express her annoyance at how unrealistic and ridiculous the rules are. With that, and other disturbances, the rules are never fully explained and the game never gets played. I love it

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Sporty Spice

I was always last one picked in school sports teams and used to spend most of the gaming dishing my fellow pupils on the sidelines with an equally nelly friend. For the last few years of school life I ducked out of sports altogether by pretending I had singing lessons. Then I'd simply go to my grandmother's home and watch tv. So it has been a while since I played any team sports.

But that changed last Tuesday when I played gay waterpolo for the first time. How is gay waterpolo different from "normal" waterpolo you may ask? Well, for one thing it's OK to shriek and run away from the ball if it comes near you. Secondly, it's OK (even obligatory) to cruise the other players. And thirdly - everyone's doing the dishing of the other team members, not just the crap players who don't do anything. My team won incidentally, although I was still pretty rubbish (my leg cramped three times but I only dropped the ball once at least).

Playing a team sport did make me think about a number of things - first about performing in public - something I don't like doing. Second, about being part of a team - not having total control over a situation, having to work together, rooting for other people and celebrating in their victory - things which are anathema to a rampant individualist like me. The locker-room was also... interesting. I found myself much more shy aabout undressing in public than had it been a "normal" locker-room - being under the impression that there was a lot more checking-out, comparing and judging than usual. But at least people were friendly towards me. I may even go back.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Another reactionary old bitch bites the dust

I know it's not nice to celebrate when people die, even horrible people. But I couldn't restrain a victorious air-punch and "woohoo!" when it was announced on the news that Linda Lee Potter, Daily Mail column writer had died yesterday. Take it away Linda...

February 4, 2000 "Anybody who opposes the repeal of Section 28 is being presented as homophobic, which is emotional blackmail and dishonest. Unfortunately, the lobby against common sense is powerful and persuasive."

August 13, 2003 "I'm thankful to hear IVF is going to become available on the National Health. I trust wisdom will prevail and that it will not be available to lesbian couples or single women."

March 12, 2003 "RON DAVIES had sex with a stranger in a notorious homosexual haunt just two weeks after his second daughter Gwenllian was born."

August 1, 2001 Writing on Big Brother "It's already been suggested that a homosexual affair is a distinct possibility. Increasingly people demean, humiliate and degrade themselves as they lose all sense of propriety, modesty or sense. The boundaries of what is permissible will be stretched still further in the interest of viewing figures as a satiated public demands more titillation."

July 2, 2003 "Medical students sell their sperm and it's legal. Lesbians can buy it through the internet and rear a child who only has a mummy and a mummy, and it's legal. Homosexuals can hire a surrogate mother to bear a child and it's legal. The time to condemn this vile practice and introduce legislation in this country to ensure it never happens is now."

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Excuse me!

I was sitting in the Chaplaincy Centre cafe having lunch today when the silence of the room was broken by a very angry sounding woman who barked "Excuse me!" at another woman. Everybody looked round, expecting to see a fight erupt. But the woman continued "Is anyone using these chairs?" She spat it out like an insult, crossing that fine line between assertiveness and aggressiveness for NO REASON AT ALL. As nobody was using the chairs, she jubilantly took them and then she and her friends went off to get some food. I looked over at their table. There was a huge pile of books all with the word "Sociology" in the titles. Enough Said.

I love it when people who should know better actually turn out to be inappropriately loud, rude or thoughtless. There's another cafe I go to in Manchester about twice a month which is run by Buddhists. It's all very vegan and environmental and non-GM food. They even have a prayer wheel and a "poetry corner". It's about as PC as you can get. The people who eat there tend to be from Manchester's liberal elite which translates as they are the rudest bunch of people I've ever met. There aren't many tables and as a result you always have to stand there with your tray, waiting for people to get up and leave - many of whom finished their meal ages ago and are just chatting about yoga or whatever, oblivious to the fact that others are waiting to sit down (I wonder how Ms Excuse Me would cope in such an environment - it would probably result in a body count).

Last week I had to share a table in there with two "New-Men" types - all sensitive sideburns and trendy spectacles. I was forced to overhear their boring coversation, boring that is until one of them mentioned that their mutual friend, Trevor had a male partner, which clearly came as a great shock to the other one. "Well, I'm not going to judge Trevor!" he said, which roughly translates as "Well, I'm too cowardly to come out and say it, but by using the word "judge" I've clearly made my position clear." I get the impression that for some, liberalism is just an excuse whereby people can feel morally justifed in acting like cunts.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Look at my muffins!

One of the best things about super-soap Melrose Place was Marcia Cross who played poor nutty Kimberley - a kind of walking casebook of every mental illness going - if she wasn't coming back from the dead in a thunderstorm and pulling off a wig to reveal extreme brain surgery, she was seeing a serial killer in a mirror and blowing up buildings, or best of all, having multiple personality disorder moments and morphing into Betsy - a 1950s housewife with an addiction to tupperware.

And you know what, Marica's been gone too long from tv. Until now. She's back - with an absurdly camp vehicle which picks up almost exactly where Melrose Place left off. Imagine that the wind changed when she was Betsy -and she was stuck like that forever - and the writers built a whole tv show around it. "Desperate Housewives" is formed on the premise that a group of women who live in an affluent suburban neighbourhood all have thoroughly miserable lives and dark secrets. Marcia plays Bree, the perfect (Stepford) Wife. Her hair never moves, she's always got a spatula in one hand and it's always "cuisine" every night for dinner. She's a plastic fantastic woman and I love her.

Add to this, Doug Savant, another Melrose alumni, and a host of fucked up ladies (one is an embittered career woman who gave it up to have too many children, another is living out a Lady Chatterly-gardener fantasy and the fourth is a divorcee on a man-hunt) - it's like all the women in Sex in City got married, and the cameras continued rolling, not to record happy endings, but crappy endings... I love it!

Thursday, October 14, 2004

My favourite scene from Valley of the Dolls

It starts off innocently enough. Wide-eyed Neely O'Hara gets her big break singing in a tv charity telethon. But oh for goodness sake, watch those beads!

Oh Neely, did you really think that freaking out on television with some dangerously unchoreographed dance moves would be a good career move? Did you? Well you were wrong!

Et Voila! Perhaps the first actress in a low budget film to suffer the embarassment caused by a 'pearl necklance'. But not the last. Obviously.
Work it

If I pay £168 pounds a month extra into my pension plan I can retire at 55 rather than 65. I feel like I'm one of those episodes of Star Trek Voyager where they get 10 years closer to home. Home being here... what? Not having to go in to work? Doing what instead? While work can be annoying and all-consuming at times - at least it's not that boring, there are plenty of people to talk to and I feel like I have a purpose. Still, I probably will end up paying the extra money to retire early - I guess I just need to think of what I'd do with the extra 10 years of not working.

I am reading a PhD thesis at the moment which is about sexist language. I've always found the Mrs/Miss distinction to be unfair - you're either a sensible "taken" "Mrs" or a flightly "Miss". The term "Ms", which was supposed to sort it all out, has its own prickly connotations. I think I might go radical and address everyone as "M."

This week one of my students told me that The Guardian is a right-wing newspaper. I asked how many of them actually read any newspapers and got a paltry show of hands. You know when you are finally old when you start complaining about how uninformed people younger than you are.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

See ya, don't wanna be ya.

I've exchanged more than a few emails with the holiday company Sandals about its policy to exclude same-sex couples from its resorts. And hurrah - finally they've announced that the gays can finally come on their holidays. I doubt that many gay people will bother - their adverts look utterly naff (but I guess there are naff gay people who deserve to have their bad tastes catered to as well). But still, it's a victory and shows the tide is changing. I suspect though, that the issue is more to do with economics rather than Sandals developing a social conscience. Ken Livingston, Mayor of London had banned their advertising on the London tube and was about to extend the courtesy to taxis. And Sandals regularly received "awards" by gay rights groups as worst-case examples of how NOT to be enlightened and caring. It's odd that market forces, to some extent, has most likely driven along a form of social reform.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

One of my guilty not-so-secrets is bad American reality tv gameshows, which I shamelessly download from the internet and watch on my laptop. A recent trend that I've noticed, however, is the appearance of religious contestants in these shows. Big Brother 5 had loads of them, including a pair of religious twins who heard God's voice telling them who to evict. There's always some lunatic on Survivor, singing "Praiiiisse Him!" at the slightest provocation, and frankly, the end episodes of The Amazing Race were marred by almost all the contestants praying to Jesus/God in order to help them win.

Now I'm about as areligious as you can get. As far as I'm concerned, when you're dead you're dead. No afterlife, no anything. Religion is just organised mental illness, at times a (painfully necessary) tool of social control, at other times a great big crutch for when life gets too fucking miserable. So I don't claim to know much about the way that God is supposed to work. But I do know that if God does exists, a) she's got better things to do than care about who wins a million dollars on some stupid American gameshow and b) the whole point of asking things of God is that it's supposed to be unselfish - what about the parable about the rich man getting to heaven on the back of a camel via the eye of a needle? If these contestants used their tv airtime to ask God to help starving children in war-torn parts of the world, then at least I'd be rooting for them. But no, it's always about them. Want, want, want. I don't have a God. But if I ever decided to go and get one, my God would put their selfish little God in place with a few home truths, and then go and have highlights put in.

Friday, October 08, 2004

I am becoming dangerously obsessed with Kit in "The L Word which is showing on Living TV (also the channel of The Golden Girls, Will & Grace and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy - you'd kind of bet that it'd snap the L Word up). A recovering alcoholic, Kit's life is like a re-enactment of the lyrics to that 1970s wacca-wacca hit "Home is Where the Hatred Is" (kick it! quit it! kick it! quit it!). She's also played by Pam Grier, star of many a blaxplioitation movie and all-round groovy good egg. Kit's family relationships aren't particularly good - Daddy hates her, her estranged son wrote her a letter on a post-it note (something that gets referred to every single week!) and her power-bitch sister is Jennifer Beals.

Actually, I am becoming obsessed with all the characters in the L Word. I really like (but am scared of) butch, fraggle-haired Shane. I identify with "normal", stable, settled Tina, I feel sorry for Dana's gauche attempts at courtship and I am fascinated by Alice's hairstyle and screwed-up relationship with her mother. Maybe I'm becoming a male-identifed lesbian.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

A World of Pure Imagination

I don't really like children's films. But I do like the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory - just like Welcome to the Dollhouse it might have children in it, but a children's film it ain't.

In fact, just as I've argued the same thing about Scooby Doo, I think Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory contains a druggy head-trip subtext. Here's the evidence:

1) The songs. One of them is called "A World of Pure Imagination". Another is called "Cheer Up Charlie" - isn't 'Charlie' slang for cocaine? Another song is called "The Candyman" which is slang for a drug supplier.

2) The boat trip, where frightening images of chicken's heads been cut off and insects crawling across a man's face appear - it's like a bad LSD nightmare.

3) The fates of the naughty children - when you actually write them out they sound like the insane ramblings of someone under the influence - "there's this little girl, right, and she chews this chewing gum and it tastes like soup and a roast dinner and blueberry pie, and then she like, turns into a blueberry and starts rolling round the room." Or "there's this boy and he's like addicted to tv, and he goes up in this machine that turns him into atoms and he then gets shrunk and ends up on the tv!. Like Wow!"

4) The Great Glass Elevator - what a way to go high!

5) The concept of the winning Golden Ticket - surely some sort of slang for the ultimate drugs trip.

6) The Oompa Loompas - they're little orange men who sing and dance. I'm betting they're just hallucinations.

Next... The homoerotic subtext of H R Pufnstuf.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Oh God I have something to share. It's time to come out of the closet and admit that I am a Stephen Sondheim fan. I think that makes you about as gay as you can get. Even if you play football at the weekend, like to spend as much time as possible under the bonnet of your car, and make the sign of the cross every time you see a man with blonde highlights, liking Stephen Sondheim instantly cancels all of these butch points out.

I blame it on the recent film Camp, which is a kind of Sondheim 101. The film is a nice enough little tale of misfit teens who go to summer camp to put on musicals. There's the acne-riddled gay wannabe drag queen, his slightly dowdy fag-hag, a needy hunk with OCD, and the teenage versions of Eve Harrington and Margo Channing and a fat girl with her jaw wired shut. However, amid all of this character development and life-changing experience ("nothing was the same after that summer"), are the actual musical numbers that the kids put on, taken, totally out of context, from a range of Sondheim shows. And they are 100%-approved trashtastic, hardcore wig-out groovy. Coming from shows like Promises, Promises, Follies and Company, these now-forgotten numbers need an instant revival. Here's my guide:

The Ladies Who Lunch (Company). A bitter little number, sung by a woman wearing black and clutching a cocktail glass (that she'll eventually shatter). An ode to female alcoholism, consumerism and the vapid pointless "Hello Magazine" existence that threatens to overwhelm us all, it could have been written as an accompaniment to Karen Walker. With lines like "Everybody dies" and a rousing ending where the audience are compelled to Rise! Rise! Rise! from their seats, this is pure Sondheim. Key line: "When they get depressed it's a bottle of Scotch, plus a little jest."

I'm Still Here (Follies). The plot of Follies is all about ageing stars returning to a theatre that's going to be knocked down to make a parking lot - the beautiful ghosts of their younger selves shadow and mock them. It's all very allegorical and addresses the gay man/diva's fear of ageing so very well. Anyway, "I'm Still Here" is one of those autobiographical songs which sums up a lifetime of strife, laughing in the face of adversity and "seen it all bought the t-shirt" which characterises Sondheim's plucky older actress types. Key line: "First you're another sloe-eyed vamp, then someone's mother, then you're camp."

Another tune from Camp, which isn't Sondheim, but is almost as good, is Turkey-Lurkey Time (Promises, Promises). A late-60s ensemble hoe-down involving the entire cast, and ending with absolutely everyone freaking out, with the requisite girls dancing very quickly on raised plinthes. It's a kind of weird homage to Christmas and the lyrics are so silly that they will stuck in your head forever. It has some of the most complicated, campy, rinky-dink dance movements that you'll ever see. Everything that you ever wanted to know about 1968 is summed up in this song. Key line: "A snowy, blowy christmas, a mistletoey christmas, a turkey lurkey christmas to you!"

Excerpts from most of these can be downloaded from here.

Friday, September 24, 2004

What are you like?

Although I am 32, according to the "what's your real age quiz" I just took (courtesy of Planet Dan), I am 21. This is thanks to my boring, clean-teen lifestyle. However, while it's nice to be classed as so young (I regularly get people thinking I'm in my mid or late 20s, particularly when I pay them to say so), I don't think my "real age" is 21. For one thing, I have no desire to go inter-railing, I don't use text messaging language, I don't find Bo Selecta funny and I haven't been to a nightclub in years. In fact, I dispute my "real age". I'm a 45 year old, trapped in the body of a 21 year old. (Re-reading that sentence, it sounds like some sort of intergenerational porno blurb).

And according to the What Am I Like personality test at the BBC, I am a "peace-keeper", which means I'm spontaneous, ruled by my head, a facts person and an introvert. I feel somewhat stigmatised for being an intro, but I hate extroverts - they're so loud and surfacey, their mouths always wide open with big honking laughs coming out. And all of that jumping out of planes etc that they do - why can't they just get their kicks from a good sunset or particularly apt aphorism? Gah!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

It's over, it's all over my friend

It's been a day of endings. First Russ Meyer has died. He was the creator of two of my favourite ever films, the high-octane morality play set in the desert Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill, and Hollywood freak show lazy Susan Beyond The Valley of the Dolls. I never tire of watching either of these films. They're both packed with inventive, funny dialogue and are filmed like pop videos.

Also, Nixon of Popdizzy has announced he's quitting his blog. Although we never met and I think he found my middle-class consumerist ways rather annoying, he's someone who I admired and respected a great deal, and I often read his posts while thinking "I wish I'd said that". I hope he gets tired of not writing and returns in some form.

And Dan of UltraSparky, who I have met, has given notice in his job. Good luck - I hope you go on to bigger and better things.

Finally - it was the last episode of Big Brother 5 (America) today. When Big Brother's over, you know the summer's over too and all you have to look forward to now are naff Christmas adverts, even lousier weather and it getting dark at 4pm. At least someone pretty won (scarily he has an identical twin). I hate endings.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Who wants to be a sheep?

I watched Woody Allen's Sleeper last night. No matter how often I see this film, it never fails to have me laughing - it's also a film that you appreciate on different levels the older you get. Although it has a lot of silly slapstick in, it also has plenty of political commentary. I particularly love how the camp robot is called Regan "Here's your silly old hydrovac suit!"

My favourite character in Sleeper is the Diane Keaton role: Luna. She starts the film as a typical mindlessly shallow member of the futuristic facist America that Woody Allen wakes up in. She is the most high-maintenance person who ever lived, throwing tantrums at the least provocation: "I haven't had a bath for seven hours! I need my orb!" She studied oral sex at a "population centre", holds parties with her silly friends and writes poetry that is not only bad, but factually incorrect. She makes a wonderfully vaccuous speech early in the film about how the world is so full of beautiful things. "We have the orb and the telescreen and the orgasmatron. Why would anyone want to spoil things?" Her initial fear and disgust of Woody Allen is later met with curiosity and eventually she becomes an "enlightened" member of the resistance movement - living on the run for 6 months, "like an animal".

In almost all dystopic (futuristic-society gone wrong) fiction, there is usually a conformist "sheep" character like Luna who is a representative embodiment of everything that is wrong with the society. In Farenheit 451 it is Mildred - who is constantly plugged in to soothing music and inane chatter - she occasionally overdoses, perhaps because she's too thick to remember how many sleeping tablets she's taken, perhaps because on some level she hates herself and her life. Who knows? In Orwell's 1984 the futuristic sheep is Tom Parsons - a rather sweaty man who believes everything that the Party tells him (yet he still ends up being denounced by his own children as a traitor). In Brave New World, the sheep is Lenina - a good little Beta-girl who says things like "a gramme is better than a damn" and "ending is better than mending". She personifies the values of hegemony, hedonism and capitalism that exist under Ford's New World Order.

In many ways, these sheep characters are more interesting than the "rebel" characters who populate these stories and act as the chief protaganist. For one thing, while the rebels are generally a bit brooding and miserable, the sheep are usually quite camp and funny (in a Karen from Will & Grace kind of way). It's also interesting to see if they'll experience the journey towards consciousness and eventually rebel against the society. And our own world is full of sheep who simply echo what they're told. I love hearing people say things like "I love McDonalds - I can't see why anyone would want to protest about it!". Or people who love paying a lot of money to watch organised sports, people who buy lottery tickets, people who like what's in the Top 20 (of anything). The world is so easy for them - you can just walk into HMV, for example, and all of the films and music that you want to buy is right at the front of the shop on the first shelf that you see. Think of the time saved. Imagine turning on the telescreen and not having to change the channel because the programme that's playing is always going to be interesting to you. Being one of the brooding and ineffectual outsiders, I find the "I don't think therefore I'm happy" philosophy of sheep (both in fiction and in real life) fascinating and charming.


Oh the irony. After writing the above, I went to town to buy a copy of Sims 2. It was right at the front of HMV on the "new releases" shelf. Baaa!

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

What do the gaydar stereotypes say about you?

People who log on to gaydar are always greeted by a picture of a couple (or in some cases a lone "gay") who represent some facet of the gay scene. Maybe this is to show how diverse we are as gay men. Or maybe it's to give us suggestions about the sort of people we should be looking for, or trying to be like. Most of them I find quite scary. Here's my analysis, for what it's worth.

Ben and Tom.

They're the archetypal Gap girls of Gaydar. Utterly vanilla, well-adjusted, with their little sitcom Starbucks lives. They go to all the right circuit parties, holiday at Key West and P-town, have a cat and claim to be monogamous. You're supposed to hate them. They don't exist.

Angelo and Damien.

Flamboyant, dramatic and slightly weird - they swoosh around in an alternative universe, never really able to leave any of the 4Cs -
the Castro, Canal, Compton or Christopher Streets. They're big trouble and most people who've been burnt by them cross the road to avoid their nightmarish world of gossip, complicated threesomes and scandal.

Marge and Stella.

Although they've got the obligatory piercings and tattoos, they're actually as camp as Christmas, existing within a small clique of similar men, who've all had sex with each other, all have female names (usually based on some soap opera they all watch) and sometimes do drag.

Kevin and Chris.

Welcome to the world of long trips to Banana Republic and cottaging at the airport between connecting flights. This pair of A-gays may not have the looks, but they've got the cash and the personal trainer. "Professional", "Own Home(s), Own Car". They're shockingly conservative and ever-so snobby. Unfortunately, their chi-chi dinner-parties usually descend into drama and/or orgies.

Biff and Ted.

The construction of masculinity via "expressive artefacts" and "concrete objects" are what this pair are all about. If it's even slightly butch, they'll fetishise it. In a kind of reverse-obedience, they reject the standard notions of gay attractiveness (See Ben and Tom). They may sometimes pair up with Kyle and Travis (see below) for a jolly foursome.

Kyle and Travis (aka Master and Pig).

From the outside it all sounds a bit dark and nihilistic, but in reality the maintenance of complicated master-slave relationships becomes as all-consuming and socially fraught as a Jane Austen novel. Just bring along plenty of wet wipes with you.

Matt and Ricky.

These college boys have just discovered Queer Theory and you'll be so sorry they did. They've only been together for three weeks and have already had a commitment ceremony, experimented with an open relationship, split up, got back together again, moved in, moved out and generally divided and alienated all of their friends. Leave them to sort it out and come back in five years.

Toby and Bobby.

The not-so-secret fantasy of every gaydar user - these chickens are practically jail-bait and are the ones who hold all the real sexual power in every gaydar game (only they won't know that until they're older and don't have it). Their tastes dictate the music we have to listen to, the clothes we wear and the hairstyles we emulate. All-too-often their "Beautiful Thing" phases lasts the better part of a year and they've experienced male pattern baldness, beer belly and dark circles round their eyes as a result of too many late nights. Get them while they're (still) hot!

Mike and Leroy.

The only couple which feature two non-whites, they are a bold statement that you don't have to be a "banana", "curry" or "rice" queen or whatever racist language is used to describe men who have sex with different ethnic groups. They're also the happiest and most natural-looking couple - I'm sure there's a message there somewhere.

What's missing from our line-up are couples featuring guys over the age of 50 - as well as anyone who looks very camp - where's the equivalent of Carson Kressley with floopy (yes floopy) blonde shoulder-length hair? The couples all look disgustingly urban as well (I bet they all stink of cigarettes, even if they don't smoke) - there are no country mice like me, wearing an unfashionably sensible anorak. Still, some representation is better than none. But we still have further to go...

Monday, September 13, 2004

One of the things that got me through the awful, boring mid-1980s (along with The Golden Girls on Friday nights) was Agatha Christie. As a teenager I devoured her books at the rate of about 1 or 2 a week. They were terribly middle-brow, but you don't know that when you're 13. For me they opened up a glamorous world of foreign travel, upper-class sophisticates living in mansions with shingled hair and monocles and dramatically camp murders (usually of people who deserved it). It was a million miles away from the rough council estate I grew up in - but it planted a seed - I now live in a 1930s house which Agatha Christie could have dreamt up.

There are only 2 Agatha Christie books which I still enjoy. One is Death on the Nile, the other is And Then There Were None (formerly Ten Little Indians, formely Ten Little Ni**ers). Politically-incorrectness aside, I still love this book - and re-read it recently on the plane to New York. Along with Valley of the Dolls, 1984, Vanity Fair and the Mapp and Lucia books, it's something I never get tired of reading. It's unlike any other mystery novel in that there is no hero, no love interest and no detective. It's like an early incarnation of the tv shows Big Brother or Survivor, with the cast gradually whittled down and you have no idea who's going to be left. There are some very weighty issues of guilt, justice and ethics going on - all of the characters have been assembled on an island because they have committed and got away with murder - they are to be executed - and it's all going to be literally enacted alongside the nursery rhyme ten little indians. Agatha Christie said it was one of the hardest novels she had to plan and when it came out she was really proud of it because she knew how difficult it had been to write.

It's been filmed about 5 times, although all versions have been heavily criticised as being too low buget, badly acted or corny (which is kind of missing the point). The only version I've seen is the 1974 version which has the bizarre pairing of Elke Sommer and Oliver Reed. The 1965 version has B-hunk Hugh O'Brien and Bond Girl Shirley Eaton in the same roles. Almost all of the film versions (except for the 1989 Russian version) have a sappy happy ending which is missing from the book and therefore kind of destroys the whole premise of the film. It also deletes my favourite scene, right at the end, where almost-heroine Vera Claythorne, the last survivor - and at this point completely insane with guilt from her hand in the death of a child, starts talking to the last statue of one of the 10 indians, that have been mysteriously vanishing as each person dies. "You can come with me. We've won my dear! We've won!" However, this is not Survivor and there is no million dollar prize rating for Vera - only madness and oblivion. That's why I love the book - it transcends the usual cheesy mystery genre and becomes something much darker and more disturbing. I love it.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Dontcha just love Fox News - one of the many forms of media owned by Rupert Murdoch. If you don't love Fox News already (and you should) here are some reasons. Read them, and then tune your brain to a 24 hour newsfeed.

1) SAVE MONEY! You don't have to bother reading George Orwell, Ray Bradbury, Philip K Dick or any other science fiction writer - the dystopian future is already here and live 24/7 on Fox News.


2) SHUT UP! Bill O'Reilly has this as his little catch-phrase. Somewhat interestingly, it's also the catch-phrase of fabulously camp Jack from Will & Grace. But while Jack uses it in that playful "What amazing news!" way, Bill O'Reilly uses "shut up" to mean, well "shut up!" How reassuringly literal. But when does it occur? Just watch out if one of his guests holds a middle-ground or (ohmigod) liberal opinion. First his eyes will start to bulge. Then his neck veins will stand out. "SHUT UP! You SHUT UP!" Watch him demand an ad break while the poor sap is "escorted" out of the building. I'm hoping that one day someone will cause Ms O'Reilly to have a heart attack onscreen by a) making a gay pass at him b) telling him he's a stupid cunt c) slapping him in the face with a big fish d) all of the above.

3) We REPORT! YOU DECIDE! Yes, contrary to what you may have heard, Fox News is an unbiased news channel. Whaaaaat? Are you daring to tut and disagree. How can you when their other slogan is "Fair and balanced".

4) WE WON! Yesssssss you Americans, why bother with the expense, and quite frankly the bordeom of a proper "above board" election, when Fox News can just tell you who wins without anyone having to do any of that funny "counting" of votes. During the last election it was Fox who got to choose who got to play the role of President of the United States by announcing it as a fact (when it wasn't). And this time round, they've already decided, months in advance that George W Bush is going to win again by saying things like "120 days until George W Bush is re-elected as President".

5) SCARY SCARY TERROR! Let's face it, the news is often a bit boring. And having it broadcast all day must mean that you might fall asleep or switch channels to watch something on VH1 with Paris Hilton. However, Fox News recognise this and have decided to "sex up" the news with a constant barrage of WHOOSHING logos and graphics that tell us "NEWS ALERT!!!!!!" and "TERROR ALERT!" Fox News will have you reaching for the emergency rations and torches and then you'll be ever so grateful when you realise it's just some little piece about Jennier Lopez and you don't have to go into the bunker for 30 years after all. Hurrah!

Despite all of this, I have decided that although Fox News is very good, it actually sometimes gets its facts a bit muddled and I even suspect that Bill O'Reilly is a little biased at times. So I have been looking round for a news source which is more unbiased and truthful. And readers! I have found it!! It's called Weekly World News and it is fabulous! Here are some headlines from it - I think you'll agree - it's a more accurate source of news than Fox News: "ISLAND OF TRANSVESTITES FOUND IN SOUTH PACIFIC", "POPE'S NAUGHTY SECRET Guess whose panties he keeps in his pocket!", "NEW DEMON IS WORSE THAN SATAN . . . SECRET VATICAN REPORT WARNS!". Sorry Fox News, but our relationship is over. Make way for Weekly World News.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Currently in London for a conference - I am mightily sick of hotels at the moment and just want to be at home. So I will pretend I am and talk instead about the film Thundercrack (1975) which I saw recently. This is one of those films which gets talked about a lot (usually in hushed tones) but is really difficult to get hold of. I found it in Kim's Videos in St Marks, New York (on the site of what used to be a famous gay bath-house). Thundercrack is a cult horror film, along very similar lines to the Rocky Horror Show. But it's much more experimental and hardcore. In an early scene, the film's star, played by Marion Eaton (the only "serious" actress in the film), bends over a toilet bowl to vomit. Unfortunately her wig falls off while she's in mid-throw-up. Never mind, she just fishes it out and puts it back on. The story involves a group of strangers who take shelter at a spooky old house during a thunderstorm. But once Ms Eaton tells them all to change out of their wet clothes in what used to be her son's bedroom at the far end of the passage - and we see that it's full of porn and sex toys - we realise that this is going to be a bit of an odd fim. Soon there's sex of every kind going on - with close-ups of penetration and ejaculations. Lesbian, gay, hetero, voyeurism, sex-doll, (peeled) cucumber, vaccum pump, dildo and ape are all featured. Someone even unwittingly eats the cucumber at one point. There's also some gothic stuff about Mrs Eaton's suspiciously missing son and husband, as well as a subplot involving a travelling circus. Most bizarre of all, two of the male characters are called Chandler and Bing. Who knew that the writers of Friends were so playfully cinema-literate? See this if you get the chance.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Just back from a holiday in New York. (Nice to see the always entertaining, witty and all-round good guy Mr UltraSparky again) It's all very political over there at the moment with an upcoming election and the Republican Party Convention being held. There were people wearing badges and holding banners everywhere. I got in on the action by saying "fuck you" to two smug Republicans holding "Kerry flipflops" signs. I also joined an anti-Starbucks demo for a few minutes and had my face videoed by the police. However, I think my actions were compromised somewhat by the fact that only minutes earlier I had actually been in a Starbucks having a drink (blame my boyfriend - he is a caffine addict and can't make one hour to the next without a double espresso). Here are some other things I noticed about New York:

1. Republican Wives. While their menfolk were at the convention, these elderly candy-floss haired ladies were let loose on Manhattan. They looked like Halloween drag queens who had spent all night partying and had left the nightclub, blinking and still drugged-out into the street the next morning. I got the feeling many of them had never been to New York before, or had to order food themselves in a cafe, from the way that they ordered complete strangers (ie me) around.

2. Crazies. New York has more crazies than anywhere, and that includes my home town Peterlee (unemployment 854%, illiteracy 299%). You'd be hard pressed to get from A to B without seeing at least 2 people talking (ranting) to themselves in that lovely unself-conscious way. If you did this in Britain you'd be sectioned (at least you would have been before Margaret Thatcher's 'hugely successful' "care in the community" scheme).

3. Cruisy straight men. Attractive or even half-way decent women have it bad in New York - I've never seen so many straight men loudly comment on women walking past or stare at them with their mouths hanging open while grabbing their cocks through their pants. Now I know why Sarah Jessica Parker took 7 years to find a man: her potential breeding pool consisted of animals! Animals!

4. Large portions. I can never finish a meal in New York, much to the disgust of waiters. I always want to say "This could feed a family of 6!" but natural shyness prevents. It's particularly bad in cinemas where the food is now so huge, it now comes on trays.

5. Sexy policeman (see also points 2, 3 and 4). They're everywhere. They hook their fingers through their belts and clutch their batons in a very Tom of Finland way. There are so many of them at the moment Manhattan looks like a facist police state, but who's complaining when they all look like they do gay porn part-time.

6. Scary News. Fox News is bad enough (and I'll be reserving my bile for a special Fox News essay a little later in the week). But even the other news channels get you into panic mode with their "watch our show tonight or YOU WILL DIE!" adverts. Children's toys, escaltors, petrol pumps - everything's a source of agonising death on American news.

7. Too-friendly shop assistants. "Hi, how you doin'?" The act of walking into a clothes shop makes you feel like you're about to enter an episode of Friends. Everyone's so helpful. Too helpful in fact. But you're just prey for assistants who work on commission. I've been dissapproved over for just buying socks "Just socks? Is that all???" I've been advised to buy a tie "to go with that shirt". I've been implored to visit a website and tell "the company how good my service was". I like to be ignored while I'm shopping, not made to brush up on my non-existent small-talk skills.

8. The most humorless immigration/customs staff in the world. And this predates September 11th. But now they're just scary. Something about my name set off alarm bells in their computer system and I was "escorted" to a little room with a two-way mirror where I had to wait an age and then answer a series of questions such as "have you ever been arrested?" Once I was released, I collected my suitcase from the carousel (the last one - everyone else was long gone). Then customs decided I didn't look stressed and harrassed enough so I was dragged off again to another holding area where my bag was searched. For goodness sakes - I'm about as square-looking and clean-cut as you can get.

This all sounds like I hate New York. Actually, I don't - I love it and I'd move there in a shot if they'd give me a green card (and let my family live there too). As that ain't going to happen, I have to find something to complain about, otherwise I'll just go around being depressed.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

My new favourite link - queer music heritage. Follow it for recordings of camp 1960s songs like "I'd rather swish than fight", "rough trade" and "leather jacket lovers". It's all butch-femme stereotypes, trips to Fire Island etc. I should probably find it offensive, but I'm afraid I can't.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

I have bought a piano and am loving it. I had piano lessons as a child, from a rather stern lady called Sylvia - and I had a part-time job as a restaurant pianist many years ago, but A levels and gay sex made me lose interest in my late teens. However, now it's back. I'm hopelessly rusty, but don't care. My love of Debussy and Sate can now resume.

Have you ever read Britain's "best-selling quarterly" This England?. A friend who has travelled to this time period from the early 1930s buys it regularly. It's like pornography for ex-pats. It's full of pictures of green fields, villages, ponds, fetes, people on bicycles, royalty, flower arrangments etc. It does NOT contain any of the following: people smoking outside council houses, Arndale centres, girls wearing hair scrunchies pushing prams, working class people of any kind (unless they are jolly servants with ruddy faces, cheerfully polishing away in the background), motorways, McDonalds or hen parties. It is also shockingly anti-Europe and almost every page contains a not so hidden anti-Europe message. You can order a UK passport cover from it in order to conceal your shameful "EU travel documents" because we were "sold out by political plotters". My friend who buys it has absorbed it all and you can't say "Europe" to him without him falling to the ground, writhing and foaming. My only opinion about Europe is that it's very funny watching anyone express an opinion either for and against it - although the "against" people tend to be the most amusing. I'd thought that the following noises "pshaw", "harrumph" and "tsk" had fallen into disuse, but they are all part of the vocal vocabulary of the This England fan-base.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

I had been wondering whether proportionally, blind people end up not being gay either because of the double stigma, or problems getting on the gay scene and then coping with its shallow "looks-based" culture, or because when visual stimulus is removed then there's less incentive to have a same-sex partner even if that's what you'd like. If blind gay people exist, then is that an argument for "nature" rather than "nurture"?

This essay answers all of my questions (except the last one). It's by a guy called Robert Feinstein who is blind and gay. Some of what he says is depressingly familiar - getting all excited about going to a gay bar for the first time and then being ignored by everyone when he gets there. At the risk of letting my ironic/cynical guard down for a moment, his article really moved me.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

How well do you know your own country? I'm ashamed to say for me, not very well. I know London, Brighton, most of the north, north Wales, bits of Scotland and that's about it. I don't know anything about the "Home Counties", Middle England, the Scottish Highlands or South Wales. So this year I made a vow to visit as many cities in the UK that I have never been to before. So far I've made it to Bournemouth, Bristol, Birmingham and Oxford. I still have to get to Nottingham, Stirling, Cardiff and Coventry. However, my journeys this year have made me realise how rubbish our train system is. Long delays, missed connections, problems with reservations, ovedrcrowded compartments, crap expensive food, locked toilets. Travelling on the train is no fun any more.

The only pleasure I get is listening to tough Scottish mothers argue with ticket inspectors (and always succeed in getting to sit in 1st class when there is no available seating elsewhere). My favourite train journey ever involved being in a compartment with a very elegant male-to-female transexual person who carried a ghetto blaster and filled the whole carriage with old-time music. I also enjoy seeing people lose their tempers on the train. Last week a man, furious at missing his connection, resplendent with bulging neck veins screamed at a BR employee across hundreds of people "You couldn't run a toy train!"

And it is interesting how ticket inspectors and train announcers all suddenly vanish when there is a delay. Or they lie to keep you quiet. "There'll be a delay of about 10 minutes here. You won't miss your connection." Thirty minutes later, the train crawls into the station, you've missed your connection and there's no-one in sight to complain to. I've noticed that certain hotel companies have starting lying as well. I've lost count of the number of times I've tried to check into a hotel (usually one of the big chains), only to be told "Our computer broke down, we've lost all our reservations - I'm sorry but we'll have to give you a smoking room with a view of two tramps having sex." They just overbook rooms, banking on the fact that people sometimes don't show up (so the hotel gets to keep their deposit). But when everyone does show up - they suddenly have a computer crash. Very convenient. Travel is fun - but also quite wearing on your nerves.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

We didn't get the gay reality dating show Boy Meets Boy in the UK, but I have managed to obtain a DVD of the entire series (entirely for sociological reasons I may add). I must admit to watching Joe Millionnaire, The Bachelor (American and British versions) and Average Joe so I am familiar with the slowly evolving dating genre (I can't wait for the one with the dwarves (can't think of a sensitive term)).

"Andra, what should I do?" "Suck your stomach in and hold this pose."

Anyway, I have only watched 2 episodes of Boy Meets Boy, and I am hooked on its badness. This is mainly due to the fact that a) the "leading man" has a big toothy Liberace smile that is so white it's like staring directly at the sun - when I close my eyes I can still see an imprint of it where it's burned into my retinas. b) Dani Behr. On behalf of Britain, I apologise to America for her. c) The fact that I started out thinking I'd be able to spot the straight interlopers and I got them all wrong so far. My gaydar is officially broken. d) the fact that the leading man isn't able to make a decision without discussing it endlessly and then gaining the full approval of his fag hag supportive female friend: the curiously named, multi-striped haired, cries at the drop of a cowboy hat Andra - I'm sure she's dropped a vowel and is really called the less exotic Andrea. Still, I kind of care how it all works out and hope that the budget is a bit bigger for series 2.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

I, for one, am pleased that Nadia won Big Brother. Next year, I'd like to see a prostitute win it please. However, I was pleased when this year's series finished. It's all a bit childish and indulgent really. I much prefer American BB which is a razor-sharp power struggle of gigantic proportions - none of this "Day 56, Dan is called to the Diary Room" crap. Every second of footage matters. Much more my cup of tea.

Speaking of which, my current guilty shame is the awful ITV1 "The Block". My favourite character is Marinella, who is destined to become every Daily Mail reader's Hate Figure because of so many reasons 1) she is an older woman going out with a younger man. 2) She has a vaguely foreign name so her parents were possibly asylum seekers 3) she works, rather than staying at home doing housework 4) she likes to go out "on the razz" a lot 5) she's lazy 6) she's devious 7) she's loud 8) she's whiny 9) she looks like a cross between uber-bitches Tracy Barlow and Karen McDonald from Coronation Street, therefore she MUST be evil.

Peter at Codeine Demons sent me the following link for a gay fizzy drink called Gay Fuel. I still haven't worked out if it's a joke or not.

I am also shocked to discover According to the site, "There's something wildly, almost primally, attractive about a guy with four legs." Hence the term boytaur. It's all part of the morphing porn craze, which is threatening to take over the internet (the moral panic starts here - if this continues then nobody with 2 legs is ever going to get any sex ever again!)

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Do you have a big personality, are aged between 18 and 30 and "up for a laugh"? Well please stop reading this website (there's nothing here for you) and head to the new digitial casting couch where you can be cattle called to appear on a wide variety of new reality tv shows and quizzes. It's my new favourite/worst website. Looking down the full list of programmes in development that require constestants/partipants, it becomes clear what the nation's obsessions and preoccuptions are. Makeovers, holidays, home improvements, families swapping, fat people, plastic surgery, cleanliness, dating, being very posh or very common, marriage - they're all recurring themes. Here are my favourite calls:

1970s Office: We are looking for twelve Advertising Creatives to be part of a new Reality based Entertainment show for Sky 1 called 1970s Office... For two weeks, the team will live and work without any trappings of 21st century technology.

Britain's Fattest Pets Do you have a podgy pooch? A hefty hamster? A beefy bunny? Or is your cat too fat for its cat flap?

Cleaner Than Clean: ITV are looking for a family where mum (or dad) are the cleanest people you have ever met? Are you extremely house proud and just like Monica from 'Friends'?

Gay Health and Fitness experts wanted. Endemol UK Productions are looking for two gay men to front a television series and use their professional skills to mould fat families into shape. If you have the right background and are sharp, witty and perceptive, we would like to hear from you.

What becomes shockingly clear from the list, however, is how simply derivative and imagination-lacking these "ideas" for new shows are. TV clearly isn't particularly ground-breaking or creative. Instead, it seems that if you put a group of tv execs in a Soho restaurant, give them all a little bit too much cocaine and tell them to brainstorm some ideas, all they can come up with are variations on what they saw on last night's telly. I'm sorry, but most of these formats are tired and crap. They're not only scraping the bottom of the barrel, they've gone through it and are now digging into the earth.

How about these "concepts" which I made up:

That's My Paedophile - victims of child abuse confront/stalk/maim the people who abused them years ago. It's all very cathartic. You must be aged between 18-30, attractive, bubbly and "up for it".

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be on the game? We are looking for 6 extroverted lads and lasses (18-25) who want to take part in our game-show "Prostitute" (working title). How much money can you make in 48 hours? The winner gets a camper van.

King of the Sauna: Are you a homophobic man? Would you like to run a gay sauna for 2 weeks and make new discoveries? We are making a documentary and would like to hear from you.

It's only a matter of time...

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Apparently, for my whole life I haven't been getting enough protein and I've been overdosing on simple carbohydrates in the form of chocolate and pastries which cause mood swings and make you put weight on. So my personal trainer has got me eating all sorts of weird food - seaweed, nuts, seeds, goat's milk, rye bread, green tea. Apparently most of the problems of western civilisation are to do with too much wheat and dairy products. It is difficult to avoid normal food though - when you look at what Marks and Spencers sell for example - it's full of ready meals that have had all the nutrients zapped out of them and sugar-filled sweets. It's difficult to go to a restaurant and avoid things like white rice (evil apparently) or cheese (bad). Fortunately I don't mind rye bread or the nuts and seeds (being vegetarian you learn very quickly to get over fussiness - or else you develop rickets). But I draw the line at seaweed. They don't call it weed for nothing. Disgusting.

Saturday, July 31, 2004

The (original) Stepford Wives is one of my favourite films. Of all the films I review at my other website. it's the one that I get the most email about for some reason. So I was interested in the remake starring Nicole Kidman and Matthew Broderick. Even though the reviews were bad, I ignored them - I tend to disagree with other people's reviews anyway.

However, this time they were right. Watching the remake was like listening to someone sing my favourite song really badly in a way to intentionally annoy me. Rather than the feminist message, dark undertones and growing sense of paranoia which made the original so unforgettable and different, the remake ditches all that for campy humour, cartoonish characters and a few cheap one-liners. The last 15 minutes are particularly soul-destroying. I advise viewers to leave at the end of the scene in the supermarket - where the original film ends. Nothing is gained and everything is lost from an absolutely farcical "twist" ending that looks badly tacked on. Spoiler ahead - miss out the next paragraph if you haven't seen the film.

Having Glenn Close as the crazed "mastermind" behind the Stepford Wives - she's going to turn the husbands into robots at some point too, robs the film of so much. It no longer becomes an evil male conspiracy but just the psychotic fantasy of a woman! Having Matthew Broderick do the right thing (doesn't he always!) and not turn his wife into a robot smacks of dumbed down sentimentality. Having the three "heroes" interviewed by Larry King now that they are all famous is just embarrassing, and reveals the mindset that becoming a celebrity is the best "happy ending" we can hope for today.

And as for the camp/butch gay couple - while it's nice to acknowledge that not everyone in the world is heterosexual, I was left confused about what the film was trying to get across about gay identity. Not counting men over 60, I don't really know many gay couples where there's one camp and one butch partner resembling a heterosexual married couple. I couldn't work out whether the film was advocating that being a camp sterotype was better or worse than being a butch one.

I left feeling dejected and robbed. Why aren't intelligent films with unhappy endings allowed to get made any more? Why are "messages" a bad thing now? I've believed that overall the world's population is slowly getting more intelligent and discerning over time. But I may be wrong. I intend to watch the original and best Stepford Wives along with Rosemary's Baby and The Whicker Man in order to detox my brain of that candyfloss crap.