Monday, August 29, 2005

Does your person have a hat AND glasses?

Me and my sister spent most of the early 1980s playing a game called Guess Who, where you had to guess which person your opponent had, by asking a series of questions about their facial features and eliminating those who did not apply. It was fairly simple so we usually played with 3 or 4 people each.

What made the game rather camp was the fact that the faces were somewhat odd - and many were a bit sinister and suggestive.

Alex and Eric - early gay prototypes. Alex is somewhat "theatrical", whereas Eric can be found in the dark room of the local leather bar.

Claire - the local transvestite. She may look like butter wouldn't melt, but meet her gaze for a second too longer and she'll let rip with a stream of foul-mouthed abuse.

Bernard - just a mean old man really.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Pictures from a recent visit to Vancouver

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Anyone for almond cookies?

The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane is one of those quietly self-contained uber-1970s horror/thrillers starring Jodie Foster, as a hyper-intelligent, strong-willed, somewhat butch, old-before-her-years 13 year old who lives alone (her poet father is locked away in his study - or is he?) Jodie wears what appears to be a cross between a wigwam and a Ku Klux Klan costume in most of her scenes. There's something horrible in the cellar, and nasty landlady (played by Alexis Smith) and her paedophile son (played by Martin Sheen) are soon going to find out that you don't mess with Jodie Foster - not ever. I saw this first late one Friday night (my friends and I were kind of obsessed with it for a time) - and it's as good as I remember. Alexis Smith is only in two scenes - but what a bitch! She practically steals the whole film. The dialogue between her and Jodie is great - both of them ignoring each other's questions and getting progressively ruder. And Martin Sheen is genuinely creepy (hamster + cigarette = evil). The music is also good - a mixture of classical and '70s wacca disco. Definitely worth getting (and if you liked that, you should try Wait Until Dark).

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

I am always a little disappointed when a gay friend tells me that he doesn't think that gay people should be allowed to adopt children and then start reiterating the usual arguments - "A child should have a mother and a father", "They'll get bullied at school - they shouldn't have to be part of someone else's social experiment".

I've met very very very few gay men who want to adopt kids. The ones who do, and go through with it will have been subjected to intense scrutiny by adoption agencies and would have had to undergo an awful lot of soul-searching and justification. They'd really have to WANT the kid. And I think that would make up a great deal for the kid not living with a traditional mother AND a father. The amount and quality of love and care that you get is much much more important than who is loving you. If it were up to me, I'd probably exclude about 80% of heterosexuals from having children - so many people don't even seem able to look after themselves properly, and I've grown very tired of seeing selfish parents, out with their kids - who clearly don't want them around, doing their best to ignore them, except to tell them off in a bored, brittle voice.

And since when did all children start living in loving, stable family units that have both opposite-sex parents living together anyway? Many kids are already involved in some sort of "alternative" social experiment involving single parents or step-families - but I never hear anyone complaining about that (although they did in the 1950s - until a few people started saying "fuck you bitches - I'm doing it anyway so get over yourselves." - social change can only happen if someone is prepared to be brave.) Admittedly, it would be hard to see a child bullied for having gay parents - but kids will always find a reason to bully someone if they feel like it. And hopefully, having a gay parent should help make the child more tolerant of diversity. The problem here is the bullying (which needs to be stamped out), not the gay parents.

No, the reason why some of my gay friends don't approve of gay adoption is due to their own internalised homophobia, coupled with disinterest - they either can't see themselves in a relationship or caring for a child in the near future so why make it legal?

Fortunately, a poll on OUTintheUK earlier this year put 85% of gay people in favour of gay adoption. So the naysayers are at least in the minority.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Friday night is fascist night on four.

What's happened to Channel 4? Once the Channel for minorities, which showed worthy programmes like Countdown (word quiz for agoraphobic geeks), Brookside (essentially a party political broadcast on behalf of Arthur Scargill) and OUT on Tuesday (pre-commericalised gay tv featuring politicised gay people who did not look like they'd just fallen out of Chi-Chi La Rue's jacuzzi). It did a very good job at pissing off right-wingers.

But gradually, Channel 4 has forgotten that it was the PC Channel for minorities and has instead become Channel Fascist. It's decided that instead of being PC it's going to be as un-PC as it can. In a decade, it has gone from being incredibly left-wing, to incredibly right-wing - to the point of fascism - glorifying violence, cruelty and humiliation.

I blame the bad influence of its slutty younger sister E4 (where every night is Friday night - and the blipverts feature a teddy bear with its arm falling off and a thickset cartoon bully "hilariously" thumping a little guy, pushing him out of the way and putting him a "affectionate" necklock - he'll be slapping him next and recording it on his mobile). Since the 1990s, Friday nights on channel 4 have always been a bit sick - The Word was car-crash tv writ large. But at least it was occasionally entertaining and embarrassing or gross rather than cruel. But now cruelty reigns on Friday nights on Channel 4. If you thought the Big Brother eviction night (essentially a weekly public lynching) was bad enough, then you ain't seen nothing yet. The new Friday line-up contains a vile cartoon about teenage girls (bullying features heavily), a hidden camera show called Balls of Steel (which features "hilarious" gags such as putting dog shit on pelican crossing control buttons) and a new Asian comedy called Meet the Magoons which had about a dozen homophobic jokes in the first episode. I guess it's supposed to be OK when one minority group are offensive towards another group. You can complain to Ofcom here.

What is happening here (and it's been a trend in the UK for about 5 years now) is that cruelty and hatred are becoming acceptable as long as they're packaged as humour. The "joke" is a very powerful weapon in the arsenal of hatred. Complain about it and you're told "can't you take a joke?", "you have no sense of humour?", "we're just 'avin' a laff!" or even "we're laughing with you not at you". To quote from a line from the film Happiness - I'm not laughing. Fucking fascists.

(Channel 4, incidentally would LOVE this post - with a decreasing market share, any attention is better than no attention, which is of course, why they're doing it - they're so jaded that they probably employ people to complain to Ofcom themselves, hoping it'll generate headlines.)

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Happy Coming Out

I "came out" to my parents in 1990, a few months before I went to University. It wasn't a particularly good time to do so (negative attitudes towards homosexuality increased during the 1980s according to the social surveys I've looked at.) My parents were supportive, although that night there were tears in the Odana household. And it took months, support groups and a number of self-help pamphlets before they really accepted it.

Nowadays, coming out is perhaps a little easier for gay and lesbian teenagers, but I still don't think it's easy. Both Craig and Kemal came out on Big Brother (although their parents must have been blind and deaf with IQs in the negative figures to have not worked it out previously). Both were worried about the reaction of their parents, although seeing video messages reassured them that everything was OK. "We love you no matter what" was the gist of the messages.

While this is certainly better than "I don't want to hear about it!" or "You need therapy", saying "I love you no matter what" is still a rather half-hearted response. Instead, coming out should be turned into a special occasion, a sign of maturity and a cause of celebration. A kid who comes out should receive presents and cards and have a party thrown for him or her (with a delegation of cuties from the local LGB youth group invited). The date should be celebrated annually as the person's "Coming Out Day". (since 2000 National Coming Out Day in the UK is October 7th apparently, and October 11th in the US - which co-incides with most people's first couple of weeks at University, so there's still plenty of time to prepare).

It is a good sign then, that Clinton Cards recently launched a range of gay anniversary and birthday cards (although no coming out card as yet). It would be great if future generations of gay and lesbian people viewed their coming out as a lot of fun, rather than an over-long "very special epsiode of Blossom" as I view mine.

Friday, August 19, 2005

I am watching a repeat of Max and Paddie's Road to Nowhere - the spin-off of "Phoenix Nights", a very north-west England sitcom focussed around an old-fashioned nightclub (1970s decor). Both sitcoms are kind of intentionally cheesy, poking fun at Lancashire local people, but in a very loving way.

I am slightly ashamed to say it, but I think Patrick McGuinness, who plays Paddie, is a bit of a hottie. Paddie is a very well-observed character, a likeable lad, but a bit dim. He's the only bit of male tottie in the programme (and regularly appears in cut-off tops or underwear). Here's a picture of Patrick without his Paddie drag.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Anyone fancy a game of Gay Monopoly. This early 80s variant was created by the Parker Sisters (who were sued for copyright infringement by the Parker Brothers). Player tokens include leather cap, high heels and teddy bear. Instead of Chance cards are Camp cards - "Say faaabulous in 6 different ways". And instead of houses and hotels, players build bars and bath-houses. Not stereotyping at all then.
Don't hate the houseguests, hate the game

Janelle is up and in the kitchen with Howie, Beau and Maggie saying how much fun it is to hate everyone in the house. April comes in and says how drunk Janelle is and Janelle “No, I am not, thank you very much!” Then Janelle says “I lied to you when I told you that you are a buxom blonde.” She laughs. April says “At least I don’t have to suck cock to get by in life!” Janelle says “Sure you do, you suck off your husband!!” Then April called Howie a pedophile for lying about his age to get 18-year-olds to sleep with him.

Janelle goes outside now to Jen “So Jen, how many reality shows have you tried to get on 100? 200? You tried out for this for all 5 seasons? I think it’s disgusting that you came on this show to make it big.” Jen says “I don’t care what you think, you look like a clown.” Janelle is calling Beau a gold digging whore over and over again. He is shouting things back at her too.

So Big Brother America has got nasty nasty nasty. After the lying and back-stabbing that took place this week, relations between the housemates have degenerated into drunken abuse and name-calling. It might not be shown on Thursday's programme, but JokersUpdates has it all.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Another first inkling

Back in the early 1980s, you could "rent" a video recorder from the Redifusion electricity shop in Peterlee town centre where I had the joint fortune and misfortune to grow up. You could also go into the back room in the shop to pursue a tiny selection of videos that could also be rented overnight - they came in huge bulky cases. Some of these included Scanners, The Smurfs and the Magic Flute, Hands of the Ripper and Convoy. The one I was most fascinated with (and never got to see as my parents mainly got to choose the films) was this one.

This was the first time that I had ever seen two men in the same bed together with no clothes on, and being 8 years old, this was a revelation to me. Never mind that it was Elliott Gould who, with his hairy back, helmet hair and slightly equine features is about as sexy as British Airways strike action. I still wanted to see this film. There's something very simple and symmetrical about the title. And that front cover does hold a lot of promise.

Anyway, decades later, I finally got it on DVD and watched it the other night. How disappointing. Basically everyone talks a lot and very little sex happens. They do get into bed at the end and start (heterosexual) kissing, but it all goes a bit wrong and they end up wandering around the streets while Burt Bacharach's "What the World Needs Now Is Love Sweet Love" plays in the background. The idea of some films is sometimes better than the film itself.

I normally hate remakes, but in this case a bolder remake should be undertaken, preferably one called Bob and Harold and Ted and Alistair.
Chess Geek

Is there anyone left who plays chess? My Dad taught me when I was very young, and like many things that I enjoy, I was rubbish at it and still am. I recently downloaded a computer chess program and have been playing it (badly). The computer opponent (who I will call "Marla") is a right bitch and always surprises me with these devastatingly sophisticated moves, while my plans are so transparent I can almost hear Marla's mocking laughter. My queen generally gets taken after 5 minutes.

However, I have recently discovered Wikipedia and have been reading all about the different chess tactics that exist. They all sound like utensils you'd use during a barbeque. Apparently there's forks, pins, skewers, but also some strange sounding ones - Zugzwang is my favourite - it sounds like a bad German 80s pop group. Having never used any of these tactics before I can now see why I always get beaten! Apparently there have also been chess fashions over the years - so a few hundred years ago the "done thing" was to take control of the middle of the board, then all the good players got bored with that and invented something called "hypermodernism" which means leaving the middle open but controlling it from afar. I think.

There are also different ways of playing chess (blitz chess - fast, bullet chess - even faster, chessboxing - where you alternate boxing and chess). And there are the "infamous" immortal, evergreen and opera games to read about. I am particularly fascinated by the description of very bad opening moves, which include Grob's Opening (sounds like a Bruce La Bruce film) and also Fool's Mate and Scholar's Mate (games which last about 3 seconds due to the ineptitude of one of the players). Apparently, sometimes very good chess players start off by making one of the bad opening moves, just to show off, as they then go on to beat you - fortunately Marla hasn't had that sort of arrogance programmed into her.

And if Chess ever starts to get boring, there are all the weird variants - Alice (in Wonderland) Chess, which uses two boards, Suicide Chess, Monster Chess and Dark Chess being some of the more intriguing-sounding. And there are various "fairy chess pieces" including the Princess, the Zebra and the Nightrider. Who knew?

Wikipedia is now like my 4th favourite website ever. Or something.

Monday, August 15, 2005

I was reading a book the other day that was theorising that gay men have 4 "ages". There's 1) your real age, based on when you were born. Then there's 2) your "coming out" age, based on how long you've been out as gay. And there's 3) how old you actually look and 4) how much "life experience" you've had. It's an interesting way of understanding age (particularly as gay culture is so obsessed with types 1 and 3.) I'd also say there's 5) how grown-up you are and 6) how old your tastes are. A lot of my tastes in music, fashion, film, literature etc are rather old-fashioned. I do like recent stuff, but nothing interests me like things from the 1930s to the 1970s. I'm not sure why this period fascinates me so much. I think it's exotic because it's gone, and I missed out on it the first time around. I also feel it was somehow classier (as long as you can overlook the more obvious sexism, racism and homophobia etc.)

When I was in my 20s, I was acutely aware of how nice it was - how the whole world (and the gay scene in particular) seemed geared towards the whims of my age group - how my body never ached, how I could eat as much junk food or drink as much alcohol as I wanted without any waistline consequences. Although there were plenty of problems, it felt like a very sun-shiney period - and one that I couldn't ever forsee ending - because all I had known of adult life was that.

Turning 30 for a gay man, is a kind of coming of age. You're slowly edged out of that important demographic. You're second-division and start to experience that disconcerting feeling of invisibility if you go out to the trendier clubs. The pictures of guys in the gay magazines (porn and "lifestyle" (which really means soft porn) all look younger than you. And in better shape.
If you can get past that though, then your 30s are great. I've stopped making any concession to follow fashion. My hairstyle looks like something out of the 1960s. I haven't kept up to date with the Top 40 for years. I listen to naff music and don't feel I have to apologise for it. There's no point in trying to be cool (I never was anyway) so I can just hunker down and enjoy being old. And the money is better too. I'm afraid I was never much good at the 20-something spontaneous inter-railing, hitch-hiking, youth-hostelling thing. I hate back-packs (they're so ugly and bulky)! I much prefer first class travel and swanky hotel suites. In fact, the only time I speak to 20-somethings these days, is when they're bringing me room service!

Over-30s do get a very rough deal on the gay scene and in the gay media, which is a pity, because age comes to everyone who stays alive - and the gay scene does very little to prepare you for it (other than to pressure you to act and look young and punish you if you don't). I stopped buying gay magazines several years ago, because they made me depressed and because there were so few older role models in them. But I wish there was a magazine aimed at older guys, which wasn't full of pictures of 20-something models or so obsessed with the scene and fashion. To me, the whole point of magazines is to get you to feel bad about yourself so you buy stuff, and while younger people don't have much money, they are easier to persuade to part with what they've got. In many ways, the collective age of the mainstream gay scene and media is still very much in its adolescence. As a new generation of gay men finally grows up - hopefully this will begin to change and we'll see that there's more to life than the size of our biceps and the latest DKNY offerings. Let's hope so anyway.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

It's no panto.

Big Brother 6 UK is finally over, leaving a very nasty taste behind. The finale was the most predictable ever - the voters (mainly young women) chose an attractive, slightly dim, unthreatening lad as their winner. Upon looking back at previous seasons, I realise that I've never backed a Big Brother winner - all the people I would have preferred to win were either intelligent, sensible and a bit quiet (Anna, Elizabeth, Scott, Dan) or totally mad and over-the-top (Jade, Kinga). Big Brother winners tend to be affable "normal" lads and lasses (Craig, Anthony, Cameron, Kate) or camp icons (Brian, Nadia) - people who traditionally live up to society's expectations of what a gay/heterosexual/transsexual man/woman should be.
Last night was particularly disappointing because of the crowd's booing and chanting while Makosi received a rather cold interview from Davina. Why? Makosi was arrogant. Crime. She claimed she'd had sex in a jacuzzi and was pregnant (when she probably didn't). Crime! And she led people to think she was a mole/actress. Crime! Crime! Crime! The booing, which has been steadily getting worse since Series 4, reached a pinnacle of hatred with jeers of "Liar! Liar! Liar!" and "Off! Off! Off!"
There are plenty of people in Big Brother who I don't like. Derek, the gay Tory who supports fox hunting, thinks gay people shouldn't be allowed to adopt and made Orlaith and Sam miserable - he's a pretty despicable person. "Foul-mouthed Science" (real name Kieran), whose debating skills consisted of shouting and shouting until the other party gave up, exasperated. Lesley, who acted like a schoolyard bully. None of them were particularly pleasant people. But I don't think anyone should be booed upon being voted out of a gameshow after being televised live for weeks.The humiliation of losing a popularity vote and stress of having no privacy is punishment enough.
It is interesting that this year and last, a number of the contestants are not British born (Makosi, Roberto, Ahmed, Nadia). Possibly Endemol have realised that such contestants are probably not as in tune with unspoken British social conventions and are therefore more likely to act in ways which could be perceived as unlikeable or difficult.
Also, interestingly, I think ALL of the female contestants on Big Brother this year received boos when evicted. Davina's whispered "It's a pantomime" is supposed to calm the housemates, but let's face it. Big Brother is NOT a pantomime. It's a reality gameshow. A pantomime lasts 90 minutes and we boo because the actors are playing roles. In Big Brother, the contestants play themselves, for weeks on end. To come out to boos is one of the most strident messages you can receive about the way you are perceived as a person. At the rate the show is going, in a couple of years someone will throw something during the booing and seriously hurt a housemate. Or a housemate will attempt suicide, unable to cope with the amount of hatred they've received.

The only Gays on the Island.

Back from a wedding on the Isle of Skye, which is about as far away from civilisation as you can get. It takes forever to get there because once you get past Glasgow it's all A Roads (and the Highlands seem to attract people who like to "ooh" at the scenery while driving at 10 miles an hour). Anyway, once you've seen one mountain you've seen them all, so I was pretty bored for a week. The tv where we were staying only had 4 channels (and a terrible reception on three of them). The "Metropolis" of Skye is a tiny place called Portree - again, full of "outdoorsy" people who had strapped bikes and canoes to their roof-racks. Although there is loads of space on Skye (you have to drive down about 50 miles of poorly surfaced road in order to buy a tomato or a newspaper), parking spaces in Portree were at a minimum - with the result that just before the wedding, the groom got shouted out by some local Mean Old Man in a White Delivery Van for some parking violation that I've still not really figured out. So much for friendly locals. Then, at the wedding dinner the waitress spilt a jug of water all over the table which set the married couple's 2 year old off crying, so they ended up leaving. Oh, and my fella fell down a slope while photographing a mountain and broke his arm and sprained his ankle. So I've been playing Baby Jane to his Blanche for the last few days. At least the experience has made me re-evaluate my opinion of cities. I'll never complain about Big Issue sellers, prostitutes, discarded packets of cocaine, aggressive advertisting etc etc again. Well, maybe not for a couple of weeks.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Rough Trade

I am watching the muscial "Oliver", which reminds me to write the first in an occasional series of "Men I have had inexplicably had crushes on." There's something nasty about Oliver Reed - he's not a pretty-boy actor, but is thick-set and brutish, but from a very early age, I always liked watching him in films, particularly those from the late 60s and 70s. Despite being a big butch omee, there are so many camp Ollie moments to choose from. Who can forget his fireside naked wrestling scene with Alan Bates in Women in Love for example? Or his seduction of Elke Sommer (either of them might be the murderer) in Agatha Christie's "And then there were none". Or married to Ann Margaret in the glitzy surreal rock-opera Tommy "You didn't see it! You didn't hear it". Or sharing a haunted house with Karen Black AND Bette Davis in Burnt Offerings. And how did he die? Of a heart attack after drinking three bottles of rum and beating five sailors at arm-wrestling. Was there ever a more homoerotic demise?

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


The Times reports today that sales of alcohol went up by 10% in a year. We are not as bad (yet) as the Czech Republic and Ireland, but worse than Australia and the US (who are both almost puritanical when it comes to drinking). The figures are not surprising, and probably explain the growing sense of dislocation from British society I've had for the last five years or so. In 1997 I started getting pains in my lower back (kidney region) whenever I drank alcohol. Sometimes it got so bad I had to be hospitalised. I had loads of tests, paid to go private when the NHS couldn't figure out what was wrong, and the doctors still can't explain the symptoms. As a result, I don't drink at all, which is contrast to everyone else, who seem to be spending more time being drunk. I don't really miss it that much - I never liked making a bleary-eyed idiot of myself or the subsequent hangovers. The most annoying things about not drinking though are a) having to "out" myself as a non-drinker to every new person I meet (I sometimes tell people I'm a recovering alcoholic - it gets more interesting reactions), and b) not participating in the many alcohol-related conversations that seem to happen around me. People seem to love talking about their favourite drink, their favourite brand of their favourite drink, how much drinks cost and where they can be found cheaply, how much they had to drink, the hilarious consequences of being drunk and how awful they felt the next day. Not drinking also means that there's often very little point in going to pubs and clubs - through the eyes of sobriety, such places often seem much more grim than usual (most British town centres become sick buckets and fighting arenas on Friday and Saturday nights anyway.)

For some people, alcohol appears to be a form of escapism from the mundanity of everyday life or a way of allowing themselves to relax in company (with our anti-social/unsocialised nature that's no surprise). Talking about alcohol also provides an easy topic of conversation while getting drunk. I often wonder how we would socialise if everyone developed a similar condition to mine overnight. Finally, alcohol consumption acts as an indicator of masculinity (increasingly a popular commodity for men AND women) - showing how much you can knock back being a sign of toughness and also how "up for it" and "mad" you are. Alcohoic Patsy from Ab Fab is seen as more fun and a better role model for the British than dull little Saffy who sips herbal tea. Teetotalers, or people who drink in moderation, on the other hand are boring, no fun, puritans, kill-joys etc.

As with most things that are currently popular, money is at the bottom of it all - breweries and advertisers being the real winners here. As we develop a collective higher tolerance for alochol, it can only end in one way - with the entire country eventually standing up and saying "My name is Great Britain and I am an alcoholic."

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Alphas, Betas and Omegas...

My parents would never allow me to watch video nasties when I was a child, so when I hit 16 I used my new relative freedom to get my hands on every single banned thing I could in an act of "negative obedience". Most of them were absolute rubbish, but I always had a soft spot for those films about serial killers stalking sororities. For British people the concept of sororities and fraternities is alien and difficult to understand - all those Greek letters, the rushing, hazing, pledging, Hell Week etc. What does it all mean? To make a sweeping generalisation, British people are either unsociable (we don't like other people) and/or unsocialised (we have poor social skills) so we don't do the whole "joining in" thing very well. I'm sure I have mentioned this elsewhere before, but social skills seem to be inbuilt into the American education system in a way that they are just not in the UK. For example, while Americans have Show & Tell (designed to hone presentation skills from an early age), Prom Queens (obstensibly a popularity contest) and Year Books (an exercise in friend-counting), we have nothing! No wonder all the Americans I know are so confident, making me feel extra-bumbling and incoherent when thrust into their company.

Fortunately, a book called "Pledged" puts paid to the idea that sororities are good things, by being quite critical of them. The book is half-novel, half ethnographic study, following four girls at a "fictional" sorority as they struggle to make it through a shed-load of eating disorders, date rapes, sado-masochistic hazing rituals and complicated power-politicing where hair-sheen and tooth whiteness determines your place in the pecking order. Although the book is not as shocking as it thinks it is (teenage girls get drunk, fight over boys and have sex! who knew!) and it is often difficult keeping track over who has being date-raped by whom, it is still a rollicking read. I have since been inspired to investigate actual real-life sororities and fraternities (or their websites at least) to see if there are any hints of the sorts of things that go on in Pledged. (Click on the pics to see them bigger.)

Here's a picture from the Alpha Kappa Chapter of Delta Lambda Phi (the gay fraternity) at the Southern Methodist University.

I know! Not what I was expecting either. When you think of gay frat action it's normally toned lovelies paddling each other's bottoms in 2Xist underwear. Still, I get the impression that four of the guys in this picture are deeply in (unrequited) love with the other guy. I'll leave you to work it out. (Actually they all look lovely and it makes me wish there were gay fraternities in the UK now - at least I'd never run out of people to do jigsaws and play Scrabble with).

At least the straight boys fit expectations. This is from Kappa Delta Rho at the University of Delaware. Nice red-blooded boys every one of them - Budweiser, inanity. Let's move on...

Finally, here's a sorority picture from Alpha Phi Beta at Illinois.

I think the blonde girl (who I'll call Tiffany) is the real Alpha here. Note that slight exposition of belly button, the perky breasts, the long blonde hair and the perfect smile. The one on the right (Ellen) wants to be in the "in crowd", but by the end of the night she'll have had all of the fatty parts of her body circled in permanent marker ink as a way of motivating "self-improvement" (they actually do this apparently - it's all in the book).

I want to start my own Sorority! Anyone want to join?

Monday, August 01, 2005

Hurrah for Lisa Kudrow. Once Friends got going, it quickly became apparent that as Phoebe she was the funniest yet most under-used member of the cast. With an off-kilter worldview, partially brought on by a) having an evil twin and b) having her mom commit suicide and then living in a dumpster, she still managed to keep smiling, while appearing simultaneously flakey and intelligent (something I wish I could pull off). I always thought that the writers of Friends would hook up Phoebe and Joey by the last episode (there had been enough foreshadowing for goodness sake - and I now realise I've lost all 2 of my cool points by revealing a too-familiar knowledge of Friends plot-history). However, Friends (finally) came to an end, and there was no Phoebe-Joey romance, probably because of the spin-off Joey (which I don't want to dwell on for obvious reasons - even I won't watch it).

But Lisa Kudrow has sashayed over to HBO (the grown-up US tv station that allows swearing, adult "themes" and occasional nudity) where she has her own sitcom, The Comeback. And it's a lot better than Joey. Lisa plays Valerie Cherish, an ageing actress (from a fictional 80s sitcom called "I'm It!"who has now been cast as "Aunt Sassy" (I can't say those two words without laughing for some reason) in a hot new sitcom about four young people sharing an apartment called Room and Bored, which is written by a team of script-writers (it sounds like she is drawing heavily on her Friends experiences). The cameras follow Valerie around ala reality show as she prepares for her "comeback". Unfortunately though, it's all a bit Alan Partridge/David Brent as it quickly transpires that almost everyone associated with the show hates Valerie, especially the writers (who make fun of her mercilessly behind her back). Room and Bored is an asinine show, full of cheap innuendo - for example, in one episode, Aunt Sassy gets to go on a date with "Big Dick Perkins" and worries that she won't look good in her "Beaver" (fur coat). Valerie justifies this by saying that everything on tv's dirty now, and it's classy-dirty, like Benny Hill. At first I found Valerie annoying and pathetic, then I felt sorry for her, but by the end of the episode I watched, I liked her.

It's not a new idea (Cybil Shepherd tried something similar a few years back, and Kirstie Alley's Fat Actress covers related ground) - but Lisa Kudrow makes this her own. The fact that Valerie never stops smiling, never EVER, particularly when she undergoes major snubs, makes her all the more endearing.