Monday, March 28, 2005

Holiday pics - North Wales

Me on Llandudno pier

Me, my sister, her partner and my nephew at Conway

View from Conway Castle
Ladybird, ladybird

When I was 2 my mother asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I said "A Cinderella Book". (That should have probably gave them a little clue about the outcome of my sexuality, but it was a less sophisticated age).

Anyway, I got that book and loved it (2 year olds are so easily pleased). The book in question was part of the Ladybird book series, which featured marvellous books for children. I especially loved the "Keywords" series, which featured two children called Peter and Jane - what were particularly good about them was the artwork, created by Harry Wingfield who painted pictures in a kind of utopian/nostaglia/propaganda super-realist style. I used to look at those pictures for ages, fascinated by them. My favourite book was called The Carnival, and involves the kids having a fun day out at (guess where?) a Carnival. Peter gets to dress as a clown and Jane is a fairy (OK, it was the 60s and gender stereotypes were de rigeur). There are also some older boys in the story (who I found interesting for reasons I didn't understand) who get dressed up as astronauts and design their own float. At the end of the book, it gets dark and a rather nice man in a swimming constume entertains everyone with some spectacular diving (again, I found this very interesting). I can't say that the Ladybird books made me gay, but they certainly provided me with the possibilities...

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Saturday Night got good again

Dr Who - surprisingly good (although someone at the Beeb screwed up and we got to hear bits of the previous programme (a dance extravaganza with Graham Norton) a couple of times). Christopher Ecclestone is a very New Millenium, New Labour Doctor - with his northern accent "Lots of planets have a north", his fascination with Heat magazine ("it'll never last, he's gay and she's an alien") and his minimalist dress sense (very drug dealer meets The Matrix). I liked Rose (Billie Piper) too - certainly not a wilting victim, but not cut in that rather forced riot grrl, let's make a statement mode (remember Sophie Aldred as Ace). I also liked that Rose is an "ordinary" person (With no A levels and a chav compo-seeking mother).The script made lots of references to the mundanity of everyday human life (all we do is eat chips, watch tv etc.) and it is nice that the programme challenges this. And finally, hurrah that the Doctor actually IS a Doctor. It's nice that an intellectual gets to be a hero again after a decade of pop stars and "celebrities" to inspire the young. Meanwhile, over on ITV, Ant and Dec had David Beckham up against the Doctor - Mr Beckham always comes across as a nice person, and he's very pretty - but I'd rather have my kids playing Dr Who than wanting to play for England. Russell T Davies' script worked well - plenty of humour, a couple of those "big speeches" that he likes so much and a great ending. Rose is offered the chance to go with the Doctor. She refuses, saying she needs to stay with her rather hapless boyfriend. The TARDIS vanishes, but then comes back. The Doc pokes his head out and says "By the way, it also travels in time." This makes up Rose's mind. "Thanks" she tells her boyfriend? "For what?" he asks. "Exactly," she replies, before running into the TARDIS - leaving ordinariness behind. I was cheering. The previews for next week look good too.

Also - that Dance programme with Graham Norton - full of gay men. Hurrah.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

In North Wales with no Tivo

I have been on my holidays for a week in Llandudno, a somewhat 1970s holiday resort in North Wales. I was staying in rented accomodation, which meant I had to rely on terrestrial tv only. It was all a bit shocking to see what poor people are forced to watch when deprived of the millions of digital channels that the well-off can take for granted. One programme in particular stayed with me for long after the credits rolled, stupefyingly bad in all aspects - even me, a hardened trash addict feels slightly sick writing about it. This program is called DIY SOS and airs on BBC1. It involves us watching several half-hearted attempts at DIY by random people from social class C2/D. This is achieved by getting these ordinary people to "act" little hilarious tableaux which help us get to know them. For example, one involved a busy, working single mother who wanted to decorate her son's bedroom, but her life was so full that she was too tired to do so. This was demonstrated by filming her pretending to fall asleep on a step ladder. Hilarious. Another involved an obese couple making frantic mobile phone calls to each other. It was scripted in dialogue that made children's programme Balamory (more on kid's tv in a later post) appear high-brow. After this ritual humiliation, the viewing audience votes on the one they "like best" (or hates least), and hurrah, a team of experts descends on them to fix up their disgusting homes in a flash. I don't know what happens to the people who don't win the vote - maybe they are just given a handful of painkillers and a one-way ticket to one of those Scandanavian countries... I learnt NOTHING about DIY while watching this programme, but did learn a lot about the people who present it - basically they all attempt to "lark about" as much as possible with each other, showing how "funny" and "jolly" they can be. It's all rather painful and I was hoping that some of those painkillers were left over by the end.

The new Dr Who is on in just hours. I am not a big fan or anything (I watched the show most when it was Tom Baker/Peter Davidson but grew tired of its cheesiness, sexism and lack of character development in the mid 1980s), but my fella is an ultra-fan and has a screen saver on his PC which has been counting down the hours. So I guess I'll be watching tonight too, whether I want to or not.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

I heart Jamie4U

I sometimes enjoying writing Jamie4U's blog more than this one. Jamie4U is an unpleasant, no-internal-censor, body-fascist 18 year old who embodies everything that's wrong with gay culture. Despite being fictional, most of the events that happen to Jamie4U are based in reality, either having happened to my friends, myself or people I've met. Some of them I exaggerate slightly, some (sadly) are told verbatim as they happened - including the awful story about a group of evil drag queens spying and laughing from the window of a crumby flat at Jamie's hapless friend Keith, waiting in vain in a car park. I love writing Jamie4U because it places the reader in a position of being able to infer much more about his life than Jamie would ever be able to. For example, most readers should be able to figure out that Jamie has syphillis and that his karoake performance bombed, despite the fact that Jamie is so deluded that he's unable to work out these simple things himself. I also love writing about his bizarre friendships and break-ups. One of my favourite sequences was when Jamie had a big fight with Miss Thang after she set fire to his hair. He vows never to speak to her again at the end of a post. But right in the next post, they're going shopping together and the fight is never mentioned again. It all fits in with the sense that everything in Jamie's life is completely dramatic and exciting, yet at the same time nothing ever changes, his relationships will always hit the RESET button at the end of each post, like a bad 80s sitcom, and there will be no character development. I find Jamie4U much more fascinating than he would find me (at 32 and with the same waist size he'd dismiss me as a boring grand-dad). However, there are similarities between us - had my mother spent the family allowance on cigarettes rather than books for me, I probably would have ended up just like Jamie. In fact, probably the only difference between us is irony. Jamie4U has no sense of irony whatsoever. Whereas I have too much of it.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Three gay characters on The Amazing Race this time round.

Lynn and Alex (can their names be any more ambiguous sounding?) are your typical queenly couple - they both sound like Big Bird from Sesame Street, they know their show tunes and in last week's episode they threw (a completely justified) hissy fit on some market stall holders in Santiago who were working dodgy scales (it all involved a high octane task where they had to cut so many kgs of fish). "Bitches!" Given to drama and exaggeration "The whole country hates us!", they are kind of annoying, but at the same time I get a bit panicky when I think they're going to come last and be eliminated. They have also made a semi-alliance with "hot" brothers, Brian and Greg (who look like they should be in gay porn). Unfortunately, B+G only have eyes for women with big boobs and blonde hair. Isn't it always the way...

The third gay character also sounds a bit like Big Bird - he's a rather sweet 26 year old, who's taken his sassy mom along for the ride (I bet PFlAGG didn't know what hit it when she joined up).

PS over at Too Much Free Time they've started a section on the host of The Amazing Race's "fashion sense" called Phil's Phashion Corner. Typical comment: "is he classic pear or what? That sweater was cut completely wrong for him... and it stopped at the worst possible place on his hips--it made him look ten times more bottom-heavy than he probably is." Who says the gays aren't bitchy?

If you are gay and British and like nostaglia then you probably have a soft spot for Diana Dors, actress and glamour-puss, who starred in a range of films, some good some bad, some so bad they were good. She died in 1984. For American readers, you may want to imagine a kind of British cross between Mae West, Shelly Winters and Marilyn Monroe.

She was game for anything - particular in her later roles; here's a selection: she appeared in the Adam and the Ants Price Charming video, had her own sitcom called "Queenie's Castle", played the mother of a family of werewolves in a Hammer House of Horror show called "Children of the Full Moon", was the President of a woman-only dictatorship that took over Britain in The Two Ronnies serial "The Worm that Turned" and was a regular on TVAM in the early 1980s with slimming advice for viewers. Two of her most outrageous roles involved playing a sexually frustrated housewife in the film Deep End (who has sex with a 15 year old boy in a public baths), she also played the devil in the film Nurse Will Make it Better (she later claimed that the film was cursed and resulted in her nearly dying from meningitis).

An almost mythological-like noteriety has built up around her - my fella remembers seeing her in an advert for some tabloid newspaper in the 1970s, cooing "I'll tell you ALL my secrets", and that phrase has become something of a constant catch-phrase in the Odana household of late, being uttered at random points throughout the day.

So it was with excitement that I found a shrink-wrapped, second hand copy of her autobiography "For Adults Only", at a market, selling for £1.50. However, it's a disppointment to read - quite a bit of casual homophobia (words like "fairy" etc) I guess it was the late 1970s and that was seen as normal (but Diana - think of your fanbase!) The book is also full of name-dropping (notably of rather unnotable people) and worst of all - she tries to have it both ways - revelling in scandlous anecdotes yet claiming she remained "above it all". So she gives us the details about spying on couples having sex behind one-way-mirrors or what happened at key parties she attended, but is always at pains to say she never did it herself or was forced into it by one of her husbands. The whole thing comes across rather badly but at the same time is oddly compelling and utterly fascinating. Needless to say, Diana published more autobiographies, including "Behind Closed Dors", "Swingin' Dors" and "Diana Dors' A-Z of Men". I can't wait to collect them all.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

My five favourite bits of Reality Bites (1994 well-meaning Zeitgeist-fest) starring Elvish Winona Ryder (who I'd go straight for).

1. Winona Ryder gets addicted to the pyschic hotline and ends up giving relationship advice to the pyschics, running up a $400 phone bill to the disgust of her housemates.

2. The fabulous, acidic Janeane Garofalo angsting over her possible HIV status: "It's like I'm this character in Melrose Place and I'm there to teach the other characters that it's OK to have HIV/AIDS. And when I've done that, then I die. And then everyone turns up to my funeral wearing halter-tops." Winona's response: "Melrose Place is a really good show!"

3. Janeane and Steve Zahn roleplay coming out to his mother in the style of a bad after-school special "Is there a group I can join? Yes! It is called Pflagg!"

4. Winona's outrage when the MTV-esque tv show she's pitched her earnest little documentary to decide to do a bit of creative editing for their target audience who have an attention span of 2 seconds. It ends up looking exactly like any other MTV documentary you're seen - rubbish in other words. The best bit is all of her friend's faces stuck onto little slices of pizaa, spinning round and round and round.

5. John Manhoney (the Dad from Frasier) as a vile Daytime tv chatshow host - "Is't this a great morning!" Winona enacts a revenge, changing his cue cards so that he tells the audience he's into little girls. Reality Bites is a great show!

Friday, March 11, 2005

Psychic 1, Septics 0

The wonderful Shirley Ghostman takes on the skeptics - this is a completely hilarious account of one septic skeptic (who was so unskeptical that she thought he was real) who met him.

More Shirleyisms:

  • I feel your pain, I feel your shame. But you're NOT TO BLAME!

  • Love and light!

  • I am Lady Di. Amazing, tremendous magnifcant Lady Di what died... I've been desperate to come through, to thank you all for the lovely fumeral (sic) what you done on me. Although I must say the journey to Westminster Abbey was a little bit slow. I felt like telling the coachman to put a move on but then I realised that's how I got into this bloody mess to begin with. When Charlie bent over the coffin to pay his last respects I could smell the ripe stench of Camilla's under-carriage on his breath... He must feel like he's in a bloomin' Godfather movie, waking up every morning with a horse's head on the pillow next to him, Mwah-ha!

  • And remember, if you don't believe you'll die a long, lonely and painful death.

  • My house band! I've got Diana, Jimmy, Hitler and Ghandi on drums! Let's rock and roll.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Sometimes it's hard to be a vegetarian

I have been a vegetarian for 14 years. For moral reasons. Although I'm not preachy/judgey about it. I'm not as strict as I could be (I eat cheese which is made with animal rennet, and I wear leather shoes). But mostly I don't consume meat or fish. Most of the time it's OK (except when travelling in certain parts of the world) or encountering older people (who sometimes have trouble with the concept - they seem to think that because I don't eat meat I need to eat MORE food per se, so they'll just pile on the bread and potatoes - not a good idea - it's far too easy for vegetarians to overdoese on starchy carbohydrates in any case).

I go to the gym a couple of times a week, and always push myself. Afterwards, I am usually famished and lately I've had cravings for meat - I know it'd be a quick fix of easy protein, and I sometimes think that the reason I don't have huge muscles is partly due to not getting enough protein in my diet. I take protein shakes, but they probably only take me to the level of what the average meat eater normally gets, at best).

Most people who know me well say that I am quite vain. My fella keeps predicting I'll get plastic surgery when I'm older. I doubt I will - because I think the results often look fake and obvious (see the website awful plastic surgery). Not eating meat is one way in which my morals feel very much pitted against my vanity. The ONLY reason I would eat meat, is to make bigger gains in the gym - and that's so shallow that I'm not prepared to do it. And yet...

Saturday, March 05, 2005

The Amazing Race is so popular in America that no sooner does one series end then another starts a week later. It will soon be the case that the network won't be able to wait until the end of one season before beginning another, and we'll have several series being shown concurrently.

Season 7, which began this week has (Boston) Rob and Amber the Macbeths of reality tv - possibly the luckiest contestants on a gameshow ever. Not only did they win a million dollars on Survivor All-Stars with their evil alliance, but they got another bash at a million on The Amazing Race. Even though they started off in last place, it looks like the devil looks after his own, because by the end of the first episode they were contenders for first. How? How? How?

Meanwhile, on Coronation Street, trashlette Katy is having a bad week. First she aborts her child, mistakenly thinking her partner is cheating on her. Then she stabs her (admittedly vile) father through the back. "And for my next trick I'll be setting fire to my grandparents..." Coronation Street is turning into a Greek Tragedy and nobody seems to care. I know it was all high-concept and everything, but I couldn't really get past the fact that she appears to have GREEN HAIR. Or maybe the colour settings on my tv are screwed.

I mentioned Shirley Ghostman a few postings ago, and having seen Ep 1, it is good (not as good as I hoped, but still good). If I had my way so-called mediums and psychics would be put in prison camps to protect the gullible. (Actually, I'd probably put the gullible in prison camps as well.) Shirley is a particularly vile medium - her "channelling" of Lady Di was brilliantly iconoclastical: "I walked in on the Queen in the bath sucking on her own tits..." And his rendition of new Roy Orbison song "Lovely lady" (almost identical to "Pretty Woman") was inspired. At first I couldn't work out if Shirley was supposed to be male or female, but it turns out he's male and of the "flamboyant" persuasion. I was disppointed - they should have kept us guessing.

Saw Kinsey today. Very restrained and sensible. I could sympathise with all the pleading for grants etc. Here's a picture of Peter Sarsgaard (a Kinsey 3) on the verge of seducing the great man himself...

Friday, March 04, 2005

Just read the whole back catalogue of Trash Binder. Funniest story is how he fears he is turning into his own grandmother, after shouting at noisy young people in a cinema. We've all been there. I sit in unpopular edge seats now, to avoid other people.
I have been tagged

I have to answer questions about my musical tastes now. Groc (who I thought wasn't even talking to me), thinks I will put down Barry Manilow or Liberace. Here goes...

1. Total amount of music files on your computer?

All the contents of my Ipod. About 50 albums worth.

2 The last CD you bought was

A double album of Spaghetti Western music by Ennio Morricone. I was a bit disappointed because they were all "cover versions" which sounded like they were done in someone's bedroom with a ZX81 computer from 1981. Still, a Fistful of Dollars still brings me out in a hot flush.

3. What was the last song you listened to before reading this message?

I'm currently listening to a soundtrack of the Tarantino film Jackie Brown that I've had in my car for weeks. I keep meaning to change it, but the first track, 110th Street is so good I can't let it go..

4. Write down five songs you often listen to or that mean a lot to you.

Fancy by Megan Mullally - it's the tale of a white-trash girl who's mother puts her in a slutty dress and tells her to go and "be nice" to the rich men in town: "Here's your one chance Fancy, don't let me down..." Fifteen years later, she's got a New York townhouse etc, while all the rest of the family have gone to the dogs. It's very inspirational, about ambition and what people will do to make it to the to. It's also camp as hell.

Why D'ya Do it? by Marianne Faithfull. A furious, feminist rant about a scorned woman, all to a reggae beat. "Every time I see your dick I see her cunt in my bed!" etc. Apparently the male recording artists who worked on this were all rather shocked by the language. Hurrah for Marianne, breaking taboos again.

Chris Isaak - Like the Way she Moves. Basically a song about anonymous sex. Chris at his most whore-like: "half ashamed, half smiling at the things we did." That line conjures up a multitude of images, doesn't it.

Matt Monroe - Secret Agent Man. Unashamedly kitsch. Whenever I hear it I am whisked off into a sunny, glamorous world where everyone looks like a young Sean Connery, people still drink cocktails and there is danger and intrigue in St Tropez...

Sammy Davis Junior - Spinning Wheel. A totally mad rendition that Sammy makes his own. I'm sure this song is about a drug addict "What comes up, must come down..." Sammy screams the last chorus in a way that makes it sound like HE is the addict.

5. What 3 people are you going to pass this baton to and why?

Ultrasparky - because when I visited him he had loads of cds and he is an arbiter of taste.

High Camp Caress Morrell - because his answers might be even more lowbrow than mine.

Mr Gent - because I'm guessing he likes this sort of thing.