Monday, January 31, 2005

A wrongness, a wrongness!

I am fascinated by people who want to sell their foreheads for advertising space on ebay. Like the Martian in "Stranger in a Strange" land, I "grok a wrongness" with this act. Who are these people? Who were they? Who do they hope to become? There are dozens of them on ebay, try searching for "forehead advertising" and enter their shocking world - you'll never be the same again.

Case 1 - a man and his dog

This is John, aged 33. He will shave his head, wear a wig, even jump out of a plane "the skies the limit" (except nudity thank goodness). And if that's not enough, meet John's dog Buddy:

Buddy is also willing to be shaved in order to meet all your advertising needs. What I like about Buddy's ebay page is that it's written by John as if in Buddy's own voice "I enjoy moonlit walks and rolling in stinky stuff with my friend Spanky a German shepherd mix." Buddy is willing to have his fur shaved with your logo. I wonder if the RSPCA are interested?

So far, John has one bid (for $1). Buddy is yet to get a bid. Incase you're wondering why Buddy is involved in all this, it's because he needs the money for "an electric training fence and collars", he's been hit on the highway before you see. And if that's not enough to tug at your heart-strings (and I'm practically ready to bid myself), Buddy ends with "Come on take a chance on this old dog you won't regret it!" It's a line I've used myself.

Case 2 - Father frequents local skate park

Meet a nameless 40 year old father from Frement Ohio: "Father frequents local skate park and recreation center." Is it me, or is there something a bit sinister about the word "frequents." And if that doesn't freak you out, then how about this: "best months to advertise on me would be any time after march where as i can be more active and exposed to people ." Again, it's the word "exposed". Advertising a picture of yourself with a child is quite popular, see also here, this guy is a "JANITOR AT A CHARTER SCHOOL" and promises "NOT TO WEAR HATS FOR ONE YEAR."

One "forehead for sale" page I looked at had a list of questions from potential buyers displayed. Most of them were insulting: "This is exactly what is wrong with the word - corporations 1: You 0!" Another bidder promises to spend 8 hours a day at shopping malls and tells us "remember: people like weird". A lot of these pages use CAPSLOCK and display little regard for the arcane laws of the apostrophe. Some of the sellers are rather optimistic - it is not unusual to start the bidding at $15,000.

These forehead adverts induce so many different emotions in me at once - I want to laugh. But I also want to cry. And put my hands to the side of my face and scream. And I often want to correct the grammar. I guess the people who do this should be applauded on their chutzpah and business accumen. In the future, maybe we'll all have the phrase "Coke is it!" inscribed on our faces. But I hope not.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Can I be the second person to rave about the film Viva Las Vegas and particularly Ann Margaret. Vegas movies are one of my favourite trash genres, which I've noted here before. And Viva Las Vegas encapsulates an imaginary 1960s Vegas of fun and wholesomeness (rather unlike any other film about Las Vegas - funny that). Ann Margaret spends most of the film shaking her hips and doing that dance where you pretend to be swimming. The best scene EVER is when she leads a dance at the University of Nevada. Yes, Las Vegas has a real university. I wonder if they have any positions open?

VVL should be shown on a double bill with Rock Opera Tommy (where in one amazing scene Ann Margaret writhes around in gallons of baked beans that have poured out of her television).

I've always thought young Elvis was beautiful, in a kind of Ken Doll sort of way. His face looks like its had too much plastic surgery, even though he hasn't. He kind of looks like 80s porn star Jeff Stryker.

I have woken up this morning with a new hairstyle - it sometimes happens. I've decided to go with it. I've stopped going to my fashionable hairdresser - he had a habit of spiking up my hair into dozens of mini mohicans, which is apparently the fashion of young people these days. As I am 32, I feel something of a fraud.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Classic Trained

My fella is into Philip Glass in a big way. Whenever we use his car (which isn't often because I'm such a control freak that I like to be in the driving seat), we have to listen to Mr Glass. Usually after about ten minutes I beg him to turn it off - "It's like sitting on an aeroplane and have a small child behind you constantly kick the back of your chair" I moan. He usually complies, calling me a philistine. (Phyllis Stine is one of his many nicknames for me) Which I cheerfully admit I am. I am, have you seen what this blog is called?

I don't mind some classical music though, in its place. And although it's not really classical, when I was 14 I discovered the music of George Gershwin, and particularly Rhapsody in Blue which I thought was absolutely fantastic. I had it on a tape on my walkman and would listen to it, particularly when playing truant from school to avoid Sports, which I did for 2 years (is this a record - can I have a medal for ingenious excuses?) Some of Rhapsody in Blue is bloody difficult to play on the piano and I always end up giving up about halfway through. It's also one of those things that gets labelled as "middle-brow", probably because quite a lot of it sounds like it wouldn't be out of place in a Tom and Jerry cartoon. Some of it is very pompous and silly. Some of it is cloyingly sentimental, and some of it is just downright slutty!

But I still love it. And the opening credits of the Woody Allan film Manhattan continue to send goose-bumps down my spine and make me wish that I lived in New York, New York.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

I watched Kalifornia the other night - which I remembered for Juliette Lewis's trashy, child-woman character Adele. She plays with her yoyo, talks to and names various cacti, shows her breast to Brad Pitt, gets a bad hair-cut and ends up dead. Michelle Forbes (Ensign Ro) and David Duchovony are the black-wearing intellectuals who are writing a book about murders. Yet, they acknowledge that their middle-class existence isn't really giving them the authenticity that they desire - fortunately they make friends with a real serial killer, and it becomes the ultimate ethnographic study. How lucky for them!

Watched The Boys in The Band also again last night. The first time I saw it was 10 years ago and all the characters seemed so old and played out. Now, when Harold says "I am a 32 year old, pock-marked, Jew, fairy..." I casually note that we are the same age. Don't you hate when the characters on the screen in a much-loved film stay the same - like Dorian Grey's picture, but you keep getting older so every time you see them, they look different (and younger).

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Some advice. If you ever buy a large and expensive item from a shop like Currys or Comet, then do not just go into the shop and buy it. Once you get the item home and out of the box you can't get a refund if you decide you don't want it for some reason. Instead... go into the shop, decide what you want, then go home and buy it from their website. You will then have a week to decide if you want to return it (keep the box it came in). And also, you won't get the goons who work in the shop trying to sell you extended warranty (which is almost always an expensive waste of your money). I'm speaking from expensively purchased experience here...

Last night I went to the local monthly student LGBTQXYZetc night at the Student Union (I am 32 incidentally). The last time I went there was 1996. It hadn't changed much: there was a non-smoking area, which seemed like a nice idea, but nobody was paying much attention to it. The drinks were all shockingly cheap, and I noticed several girls who were barely able to stand up they were so pissed (never a good look to have) - it seems that what the newspapers are saying about binge drinking is true. I also bumped into one of my students and said "come and see me about your dissertation". My other (equally old) friends complained about how young everyone looked, but I didn't care. I may be almost twice their age, but you can do a lot with laser eye surgery, good dentistry and a personal trainer these days. I didn't recognise any of the music that was played (anything after 1990 is a blank to me), but I still enjoyed myself on the dance floor. Still, I don't think it'll be a regular thing.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Congratulations to Desperate Housewives for winning 2 Golden Globes. I am resisting the desire to make vaguely lascivious comments about male star Jesse Metcalfe's "golden globes". Oops, I just failed. That's the second Jesse this week!

Always the Narrator, never the Narrated

You know how in novels and films and things there's usually someone a bit dull who narrates the story - but they write about all the mad things that the other people get up to - like Fanny in "Love in A Cold Climate". Well that's me. And I'm so goddamm sick of being "the narrator" of the crazy, exciting, fragile lives of the others around me. Nobody really wants to hear about what happens after "Happy Ever After" came - and for me, I settled into coupledom at 20 and have been there ever since.
In the past, when I have been in a group of similar friends (gay men of around the same age) I have always considered myself to be the boring stable one in the relationship who "hears" everyone's problems or acts as the appreciative audience to the off-beat humour of others. I tend to make friends with somewhat damaged or eccentric people who have very large personalities, and as a result I often end up feeling overwhelmed by them. And eventually quite resentful. I'm usually the person who breaks off friendships. And that's usually the reason.

Unfortunately, living in a small place means that you can't always be rid of former friendships, especially as they all seem to go to the same gym. I renewed an old acquaintance last night - we hadn't spoken properly for years, although there was a time about 7 years ago when we lived a few doors down the landing from each other and were in and out of each other's homes like sitcom neighbours. Then he got into a relationship with someone I didn't like (it didn't last - although there was no pleasure in watching him slowly get screwed over), and I realised that I was contributing to about 20% of our conversations, while the rest of it had become a 1-man monologue of All About Him. Added to that, we had little in common apart from being gay and when you live in a small place, that is often enough to keep a friendship going. We didn't part company on unpleasant terms - although I made it clear I didn't want to be his friend any more.

So last night we bumped into each other at the gym and awkward hellos turned into "so what have you been up to" and I got the details of the last 4 years or so, and ended up going back to his new house for a cup of Earl Gay tea. It was nice to catch up on gossip - like tuning into a soap that you haven't seen in a while and realising that nothing much has changed. We did the post mortem thing and I said I was ashamed at how I had ended the friendship and explained why, and he gave me his phone number and said it would be nice to talk again. I didn't give mine back, because, although it was nice to talk, sometimes it's too easy to slip back into old friendships and let them take over your life again. And sometimes, you have to remember why you ended the friendship in the first place and not repeat the same mistakes all over again. It turns out I'm still the narrator.

Monday, January 17, 2005

After coming back from Paris I find I am in The Guardian today (bottom of page 15). Lest you think my life is glamorous, I can assure you - it isn't. Most of today was spent marking an enormous pile of essays and dealing with students who wanted extensions. And when I got it all down to a manageable size, another enormous pile of essays was added. Just call me Sisyphus.

I hate psychic stuff, but three times recently I've dreamt or thought of someone who I've haven't heard from in months (or in two cases years), and then later that day they've emailed or phoned. If that's my psychic "gift" then I think I'd like to exchange it for being able to travel in time, becoming invisible or teleportation.

Mental note to self - you can eat too much houmous.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

I have spent the weekend in Paris, which is always nice. Paris is one of my favourite places in the world. Here are some of the things I noticed about it:

  • Unfashionable hair. People in Paris have yet to discover the crypto-mullet, spiked, over-stylised hairstyle, and many of them have boring hair consisting of sensible side partings etc. This made a nice change, as my hair was fashionable for once. A small minority of women had very scary, frizzy, bright red Halloween hair.

  • Smoking. Everyone seems to smoke 80% of the time. Restaurants/cafes etc only make the most mealy-mouthed attempt to have no smoking areas, which are often not enforced. This is worrying.

  • Graffiti in the toilets of the Pompidou Centre read "Bush is evil" and "Bush: Start Thinking!" I can imagine George Bush visiting the Pompidou Center toilets and having that graffiti rock his world.

  • Queueing. Not something that some French people were very good at. I saw three occasions of blatant queue-jumping, and my fella got into a fight (in French) with a woman over this at one point in the Virgin Megastore by the Louvre. I was everso proud of him, especially as he won.

  • Vegetarian food. Still a no-no. The sandwich au fromage, the salade verte and du frites are the only available vegetarian options. Ham, on the other hand, is everywhere.

On the plane I read The Curious Incident of the Dog in The Night-time, which is narrated by a teenage boy with Asperger's Syndrome. It's a good book and I've always found Asperger's Syndrome to be fascinating. People who have it tend to like routines and facts, and usually can't work out other people's emotions. I think Asperger's Syndrome is on a linear scale, which we all have to different degrees. And I often wonder who or what would be at the most opposite end of the scale - someone who is 100% non-Asperger's. I guess they'd be very emotional, social, extroverted, sexual, with no interest in facts or routines. Someone like Tanya from Footballers Wives perhaps?

Friday, January 14, 2005

My favourite piece of research

Research published by Professor Henry Adams in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology in 1996 found that 80% of ‘exclusively heterosexual’ homophobic men got erections when watching videos of gay men having sex.

Does this image excite you?

It's what we knew all along: to quote an episode of Roseanne, "the squeaky gate wants to get greased." The simple thing is that real straight men aren't interested in homosexuality. Their brains are too full of Jordan's tits for any other thoughts to penetrate...

Does this image excite you?

I'd like to suggest a follow-up to Adam's research - my hypothesis is that the fuglier a self-proclaimed "straight" man is, the more likely it is that he'll claim (in a rather Edwardian-Lady-hands-clasping-pearls-in-horror) incorrectly that gay men are always hitting on him. I wonder if EPSRC would give me a grant?

It's still kind of sad that homophobia exists at all in shiny futuristic Brave New 2005. The much maligned "political correctness" movement, which began in the mid-late 1980s has had varying degrees of success - it's thankfully very difficult now for people to get away with racism (barely a day goes by in the news these days where someone is outed as an evil racist witch). However, for some reason PC hasn't really made the same in-roads with homophobia and sexism. Case in point - the appalling John McCirick on Celebrity Big Brother kept up a constant barrage of abusive comments about women, but did not dare say anything about black people - even a prime bigot like him knows that there are lines that no longer can be crossed.

I'm going to BUM you!

We live in a post-PC age now, where we can make ironic, "knowing" jokes about gay people and women and get away with it. Examples include Jonathan Ross's "4 poofs and a piano" (who come across as Aunt Jemimas), much of Bo Selecta - with its Elton John puppet shrieking "I'm going to BUM you!" and annoying camp renditions of Will Young, George Michael and Dale Winton (as well as all the "nob-jockey" comments of the Bear), or the complex evolution and re-re-claimings of the word "gay" to mean "lame". These things get on my nerves and appear retrogressive, but they're hard to combat without coming across as a humourless bitch who "doesn't get the joke". I'm not sure why homophobia and sexism are failing to be taken as seriously as racism - and my own sensitivity of the power of racism to offend makes me a bit wary of even asking the question. Still, 1 out of 3 is better than nothing, and the success of anti-racist discourse shows that change is possible.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

I enjoyed Alexander. Or at least, having sat through Gladiator and Troy, I adjusted my expectations accordingly. Three hours is quite a long commitment. And to be honest, having Alexander's homosexuality made explicit (even if it was just in lingering glances and manly hugs) made a nice change. Angelina Jolie was a revelation of badness and I love her lips. And Colin Farrell wore some lovely wigs. And some that weren't so lovely.

With long films, my mind tends to wander. And I thought about all the people who lived in the past who I am related to and will never know anything about. I wonder if any of them were quick at everything, like me. Or if they hated January, like me. I remember someone once saying to me that everyone alive today is descended from survivors - that somewhere in our ancestory, someone won a fight, or made it to the high ground, or kept starvation and disease at bay long enough to procreate. I wish I could know them, and give them kudos for been clever or determined or brave enough to stick around.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

On a steel horse I ride...

I've never claimed to be particularly fashionable when it comes to music tastes (see the sidebar to the right if you want evidence). In fact, when I meet someone new and they ask me what music I'm "into", I generally blush and try to direct the question back to them. Then I pretend to look interested for ten minutes while they throw names of cool and new groups at me that I've never heard of, in the desperate hope that we can find some common ground. (I wonder how I've ever managed to make any friends sometimes.) I think my music tastes were fashionable for about a week in 1990. Since then it's all been downhill.

In truth, my music tastes have tended to focus around easy listening/lounge stuff for the past decade or so. But every now and again there is something which gradually creeps under the radar, usually after everyone else has finished with them. It is (shamefully) such with Bon Jovi. I know he's kind of naff now, but that's why I like him. I love how his songs are usually stories as well, his pop videos are like little 3 minute films in themselves, and the songs are so epic and silly, they're kind of like an ultra-butch form of camp. I mean, what can you do with a lyric like "I've seen a million faces and I've rocked them all"? And Mr Bon Jovi himself seems so trapped in the 1980s - an oasis of dark blue denim and bad hair. I just love him. In fact, I feel like going out and getting my navel pierced before riding out of town on a motorbike as a tribute. Do any other bloggers dare confess to less than tasteful musical tastes
Do you believe in love at first sight?

What is it about films about "bad lots" who end up in Las Vegas. Anyway, Vegas movies are one of my favourite movie genres (with Showgirls up at the top). I had been wanting to see Speedway Junky for ages - it's set in Las Vegas and has Jesse Bradford (Swimfan, Bring it On) in an early role, as the star. I kind of like the shape of his lips and mouth.

Anyway, Speedway Junky stars Jesse as a drifter who ends up in Las Vegas, gets ripped off by just about everybody, and is befriended by a male hustler who falls in love with him (naturally). It also has Patsy Kensit (sassy Vegas dame), Daryl Hannah (damaged mumsy figure) and Tiffani Amber Thiessen (trashy army newly-wed) in it. Somehow, he manages to keep his dignity (just) and his underwear on. It's by Gus Van Sant, so imagine My Private Idaho with all of the postmodern stuff and Shakespeare taken out and you get the idea.

The good prostitute, the bad prostitute and the beautiful prostitute (not in that order)

The ending is shamelessly sentimental, and made me cry. I don't care. I've said it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Leather jacket Love Story is a nice title for a film, and it had Mink Stole in it as well, so I thought it might be worth a look. Sadly, it's a bit film school. The premise is of a naive, idealistic twink falling for a jaded, late 20s leather biker (about as "boy meets girl" as you can get without having an actual girl in the proceedings). There are gay film stereotypes aplenty (in fact, I haven't seen so many since The Broken Hearts Club). Let's count them:

  • A Greek chorus of three drag queens, all with different "styles" -
  • Gang of homophobes who get vanquished.
  • A fat drag queen who makes jokes about "head"
  • Someone's wig gets (hilariously) pulled off
  • Flacid cocks in obligatory swimming pool sequence
  • Someone getting spit-roasted in a cage.
  • Hot foreign exchange student who has no speaking role.
  • Overweight queeny poet and his caustic Elton John circa 1974 boyfriend.
  • Bitchy ageist comments from early 20-somethings about men who are 10 years older than them.
  • Everyone in the community pulls together at a split second's notice to help a friend raise bail by organising a charity poetry reading
  • Upbeat happy ending, although you can give the ensuing relationship approximately 5 more minutes before they split up.

It's all a bit "much" really.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Watching John McCirick throw a tantrum because he didn't get his milk and diet coke on Celebrity Big Brother last night must count as the first must-see tv moment of the year. McCirick is a relic - a product of an all-boys boarding school, raised in an era of Very Different Values (he refers to his wife as Booby for goodness sakes!) But what are his crimes? So far he has:
  • Shown disrespect to super-feminist Germaine Greer "Don't trip over the step, woman!" And moved away from her when she tried to show him kindness.
  • Told model Caprice that women who look like her have a cushy life because all they do is prance up and down catwalks.
  • Insulted Brigitte Neilson (a veteran of these programmes - she was on America's The Surreal Life last year - she appears shockingly out of her depth here though) by telling her that her forehead is unattractively lined and that she has a boy's haircut (she has since changed her hairstyle).
  • Told Happy Monday's mascot Bez that he couldn't imagine him parenting children.
  • Referred to little Kenzie, singer in Blazin' Squad as "the weakest person in the group" and screamed at him because he closed a door.
  • Told Hollyoaks heart-throb Jeremy Edwards that he's a "sneak".
  • Picked his nose in public and eaten the contents.

As desperate for attention as a hyper-active 2 year old, McCirick will do and say ANYTHING to get it. Only Germaine Greer seems to have realised this so far. The others are simply fighting back. Channel 4 is loving it though, and the cameras seem particularly obsessed with McCirick's obese body, which they are showing at every opportunity - it's like nobody who works on Big Brother has ever seen such a thing before ("Look! Look at this! What is it? What can it be?", and they are fascinated with it. They are also fascinated with his underwear (which to be honest, could probably house a small family). I have a feeling that McCirick has already burnt himself out and will be accordingly evicted/ignored ("Bored now!" think the people at Big Brother "Need new thing! Where shiny thing?") We can only hope for a gay snog/sexual awakening between Kenzie and Jeremy Edwards in the newly installed Big Brother sauna.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

My shallow, shameless alter-ego Jamie4U has returned with a new weblog. Eternally 19, Jamie4U lives in a self-absorbed bubble or immaturity with no internal censor. Go and fall in love with him today.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Inbetween making me lemsips, my fella has discovered Adobe Photoshop on his computer and has spent hours fiddling with all the photos he previously took with his digital camera. Previously "disappointing" photos have now had their contrast levels altered, red-eye removed and detail revealed. He is very happy: "I can now remove litter from photographs of things I like," he told me this morning. And more disturbingly... "I can also add litter to photographs of things I don't like." !!!

Saturday, January 01, 2005

At the end of each year, the television channels go into overdrive with their "list" shows, "winners and losers of 2004", "100 tv treats of 2004" etc. I am always amazed when watching these programs at how much I actually managed to miss. Rebecca Loos wanking a pig? Completely passed me by. Actually, I wish I'd never seen it - mental note to self. Don't watch any more end of year list shows.

I have caught a particularly nasty cold somehow (brown phlegm) and as I hadn't slept for 2 nights in a row I went to the doctors to ask for something to help me sleep. He prescribed tamazepan, which sounds a bit like a relative of marzipan. The usual sterotype is of Scottish housewives, sitting in front of Trisha, in a tamazepan stupor. It did help me sleep, and also left me feeling rather peaceful and pleasant as I drifted off. I'm so glad that I look so square that nobody ever offers me drugs. I'm sure this blog would be called Crack Addict, rather than Trash Addict otherwise.

Showgirls is my favourite film, so when I discovered that there was a film called Showboy, which was about a gay man's attempt to become a Vegas dancer, I had to see what it was like. Anyway, I watched it today. Here are my comparisons.

style of filmNo opening credits, difficult to interpret, almost bizarrely circular narrative/denounment, with the end of the film resembling the beginningMockumentary style semi-comedy, with the hero, lying about having lost his job, and pretending to be researching the Showboy world for his next script.
The starNomi Malone - an oddly shaped anti-heroine, completely thick, but with "peasant cunning".Christian Taylor, slightly effete British screen-writer, full of school-smarts but no common-sense at all
Big namesGina Gershon, who talks about eating dog food and calls everyone darlin'Whoopi Goldberg, in a a cameo where she tries to get Christian into a show called Boylesque.
Love interestKyle Maclachlan reveals his bare bottom in a particularly strenous swimming pool sex sceneSexy model/Dancer Adrian performs a hot dance number with Christian, but it turns out he's straight and only interested in furthering his career
Most poignant momentWhen Nomi's friend Molly is raped, the manager of the Stardust Casino says "she can have a dress shop" as a form of compensationChristian gets rejected at yet another audition and considers liposuction. In the end he settles for blonde highlights
ConclusionYou can't make a film about shit without getting covered in shitYou can make an intelligent film about shit, but you probably shouldn't