Monday, June 27, 2005

Jet-lag caught up with me once I left Vancouver, so I've spent a few nights awake, watching the Big Brother live feed on Channel 4 and old movies, including Mr Skeffington which I've finally got on DVD. Big Brother is as dreadful as ever this year. The introduction of three new "secret" housemates on Friday was classic bad tv. Kinga (the Minga's) first words on entering the house were something like "oh my minge" and within minutes she was threatening to stuff a cucumber up there. There is an issue about whether someone sprinkled bits of their scab into someone else's food, but I'm getting too tired of it all to care. I can't bear the sight of most of the housemates by this point. I have Big Brother Fatigue.

Fortunately, Mr Skeffington is a much better way of passing the time. This is one of those long long Bette Davis films that has witty dialogue and is a sophisticated anti-love story: Bette basically marries some oldish guy she doesn't love, because her no-good brother's being stealing money from him. It takes a World War, diptheria and blindness to sort it all out. The soundtrack is great too, with the music punctuating every Bette eye-bulge, witticism or word pronounced in italics. They just don't make films like this any more. And it's such a shame.

Finally, it is a dirty shame, but I have become slightly addicted to the new numbers puzzle that's apparently sweeping the world: Sudoko. This means I am now officially middle-aged. I started doing newspaper puzzles recently (they're supposed to stave off Alzeihmers Disease apparently). And now I enjoy them! I know. Just bring my a pipe, slippers and a "tot" of whiskey.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Simply shocking!

Readers, I am in shock. The American Family Association have published an article drawing our attention to the fact that Kraft are sponsering the Gay Games (!) in Chicago, and have refused to cancel their sponsership, despite the fact that the games are, well, gay.

Sorry, I just fainted there in shock. Fortunately, the AFF have "acquired photos taken at the last gay games" and have published them on their website with the warning "These photos are very offensive and are provided only as proof of what we are saying."

I'm republishing the pictures below. Warning. You may actually die of shock when viewing them, they are so outrageous. So steel yourselves. Sit down. Have the smelling salts at hand. Or a stiff cup of tea.


Here we go.

Turn back now if you are easily offended.

This is your last warning.

Oh my days! I don't know what I'm most outraged at. The sight of men's bottoms. Or the fact one of those gays has his arm around the other. Now I have an unwanted erection. And it's all the fault of Kraft and the Gay Games. I think.

I can't see what's wrong with this. At least the older lady in the cheerful frock is trying to hide the shame of that young he-jezabel. But wait. Is that her real hair? Is she (no!!!!) a drag queen? Someone, dial 999. I'm having an attack.

Mary, Jesus and Joseph! Horny boy? What does it mean? And looking closely with my magnifying glass, I'm sure I can see the ouline of a penis. Disgusting.

Well, you were warned. If you just died, it's your own fault. If you didn't die, well, over at the AFF there's a little form email you can fill in, supporting their cause. Of course, if you wanted to delete their nonsensical suggested wording and replace it with something a bit more sane, then be my guest.
Can't Stop the Music is the "penultimate disco film" according to the DVD sleeve notes. Although the word "gay" is never uttered in it, there is a definite "sensibility" to the whole thing, particular with songs like "Liberation" and "YMCA".

The plot, which is so peripheral it may as well not be there, concerns the story of how the Village People got together. The VP themselves are very much backgrounded, almost appearing as cameos in their own movie. Instead other characters get most of the dialogue and story - Steve Guttenberg (who went on to make those awful Police Academy films which summarised everything about the 1980s that you ever really need to know) plays a frustrated song writer (on rollerskates) who quits his boring job for a chance at the big time. Gutterberg is allegedly ashamed of the film (a shame if true). Olympic winner, Bruce Jenner plays a square lawyer who...quits his job to manage the Village People. His transformation 3/4 through the film is amazing. He goes from boring suits to cut-off shorty shorts and midriff revealing go-go dancer slut top (see picture below - and yes, he does have big thighs doesn't he).

There's also a blonde lady who's a model (and looks like one of the Nolan sisters) and various rich old ladies who play the mothers of various characters and get to say all the camp and outrageous lines that really should have gone to the Village People. The comedy is all rather endearing, like a school play put on by the kids in the "bottom form" e.g. someone loses a contact lens in a lasagne with hilarious results. Each musical number is more lavish than the one before, and there's plenty of innuendo. I can't listen to the song about milk for example as I'm sure it's about sex, although I'm not sure how.

The film's set piece is the YMCA song, which I've reproduced several shots below. In Busby Berkley style, this is where the film totally loses its grip on reality, using a montage of what look like 200 1970s gay porn stars to maximum effect. Mae West tried to repeat this sequence in her later dud "Sextette" (which if I'm in the mood, I'll be covering later on). Anyway, enjoy the pictures.

Innocent wrestling?

Y-fronts at the Y.

Esther Williams should probably have sued.

Suspicious looks in the locker-room.

The money shot. I'm sure that's supposed to be shaving foam.

Friday, June 17, 2005

I am in Vancouver and pleased because despite the 8 hour time difference, I have no jetlag (normally even a 1 hour time zone change knocks me out). I've never been to Canada before, which is nothing in itself to be embarrased about, but I am quite well-travelled and go to the States about twice a year, so I feel ashamed that I never looked further north, especially as it is really nice here. I have been up in the moutains (hiking), down on the nude beach (I'm afraid that unlike my friend, I kept my tightie whities on) and done the usual shop/museum/restaurant tourist things.

Saw the latest John Waters film A Dirty Shame last night - a bit disappointing, despite the presence of Chris Isaak who I've had a slight crush on forever. So many John Waters films basically boil down to the same idea of two groups of freakish people with extreme oppositional views locked in ideological war, with the eventual triumph of those he approves of most. While there's nothing wrong with this, I don't think he's topped Hairspray yet, although all of his films are amusing to watch, and generally you learn some new words for sex.

I don't think the UK got the Pamela Anderson detective series VIP, although a Canadian channel here is showing a lot of it, and it's one of those shows that's so bad it's gone to good and then all the way back to bad again. At first I thought it was the pilot show Fox Force Five which Uma Thurman talks about in Pulp Fiction.

Tom Cruise announces engagement to an actress who's name I can't yet remember. I'm sure it's simply a co-incidence that she's starring in just-released Batman, while he's got War of the Worlds opening as well. His couch-jumping declaration of love performance on a talk show was over-egging the pudding somewhat. I'm not sure who advises him but they could take a few tips in subtlety. A rather more cynical observer might note that it all looks a little too obviously-scheduled and the romantic linkings to an up-and-coming actress (at least the third one now) rather smack of a transparent publicity machine trying to mask some sort of secret. Tom Cruise is a heterosexual incidentally.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

I caught the most contagious cold in the world in Bristol (probably due to all that walking around in the rain), and now everyone I know has it. So I have stayed at home all week reading Enid Blyton books (it's for work! I promise).

Me and my sister were raised on Enid (a children's author who wrote hundreds of books). I always maintain that you can tell people who read Enid B as a child because as adults they have better manners, a more grounded sense of morality and slightly unfashionable hair. Poor old Enid has come under a lot of criticism in the last couple of decades, with her books being seen as racist, sexist, classist and the like. For example, the Famous Five books were about four boisterous middle-class children who solved adventures (usually involving gruff foreign smugglers or working-class villains). Here's an excerpt from Five Get into Trouble: “Good old Anne. Look she’s got all the food ready. Proper little housewife aren’t you Anne?” You are silly Dick” said Anne. “You ought to be glad I like messing about with food and getting it ready for you.” The other girl character, Georgina - was a budding lesbian and insisted that she was "as good as any boy" and should be called Georgina.

My favourite books though, were the St Clares and Malory Towers girl's school stories - another unacknowledged clue that little Lubin was going to grow up gay. Set in a boarding school (again for posh girls), and with a large cast of characters (firey French teachers, spoilt brats, brave heroines) and plot-lines (midnight feasts, pranks, people getting lost at sea, whodunnits involving catty anonymous notes, Head of Form power struggles) etc, they always managed to be thrilling - like a little mini-soap opera (and no flying broomsticks in sight). My favourite character was Gwendoline Mary - a pampered, bratty only child who whines and schemes her way through six books. She still has her Nurse living at home, and her mother and father are completely under her thumb. But in the last book, in a chapter called "A Dark Day for Gwen", her father falls seriously ill, the family loses all its money and Gwen has to leave the school in order to get a menial job and support the family. Of course, nobody gloats openly about it, but this sort of moral come-uppance was always on the cards. No wonder Blyton fans are so well-behaved as adults. We know that if we misbehave, there's always the chance of a karmic fuck-up round the corner, even if it takes 6 books in coming!

Although Blyton's books are viewed as somewhat simplistic and unorginal, I do remember the school stories as having rather complex, almost tragic characters. The heroine of the Malory Towers stories is a very capable upstanding young lass called Darrell Rivers. However, her "flaw" is a terrible bad temper. And when faced with a act of treachery from some bitchy girl, rather than turning the other cheek, she usually responds with a huge slap! Darrell is always struggling against her temper and its consequences - in the fourth book in the series, it's one of these slaps that means she has to step down as Head Girl (and there's no greater disgrace to my mind). Darrell has a more "level-headed" best friend Sally. However, Sally's flaw is that she's a passive-aggressive cow who goes cold and silent rather than talking about her problems. Even the nasty characters are shown to be multi-faceted (apart from Gwen) and usually redeem themselves by scoring the winning goal at the Lacrosse match or rescuing some mousey character who's fallen off a cliff.

I haven't read any of the Malory Towers books in about 20 years, but it goes to show what an impact they've had. I can practically recall every detail, plot and character in them!

Sunday, June 05, 2005

My fella recently got a new job (he is a director of something or other) so it looks like we will be moving to Bristol where his offices will be. I've lived in Lancaster for 13 years and despite it being a bit boring at times, it's at least familiar and the part where I live is pretty stunning. Bristol is a bigger city (apparently the 8th largest in the UK), with slightly better weather. We spent the weekend apartment hunting which is interesting (if you like commenting on other people's tastes and inability to tidy up after themselves) but also a bit wearing - we walked everywhere and at one point got lost in the rain in some parkland.

We looked at 10 places and didn't like any of them. Your money doesn't seem to stretch as far in the south (a dingy flat in a basement smelling of damp and near a massage parlour called Va Va Voom goes for circa £300,000). The area where we're looking is full of posh people (graffiti in the toilets of a coffee shop said "You are all middle class wankers!"). It is also very over-crowded - cars line every available street and everyone seems adept at parallel-parking with an inch of space free either side of their car. I have never mastered parallel-parking and avoid it as much as possible (whenever I try to do it, some old man starts watching me with scornful interest). So an (easy) parking space is going to be a necessity.