Friday, September 29, 2006

I love this music. But don't know what it is. It's a version of Love is Blue and the closest I can get to it is Paul Mauriat. Oh well.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

I have a syndrome

I woke up halfway through my trip to Vancouver with a kind of numb, pins and needles feeling in the two smallest fingers on my left hand. I thought I must have been sleeping on the hand and it would go away on its own. But 3 weeks later and it's still there. According to the internet I probably have something called ulnar tunnel syndrome, most common in old people (I'm 34). The problem stems from the elbow and bending your arm too much. I had probably been overdoing it at the gym - going every day and doing a lot of front crawl swimming. I hadn't even heard of ulnar tunnel before - why don't they warn you about this? I'm seeing a physiotherapist tomorrow for a consulation. In the meantime I am not supposed to bend my arm - I'm even sleeping with a towel wrapped around it - which only stays on for about 20 seconds. In the worst case scenario they have to operate on your arm (fun!), but at the moment I'm taking anti-inflammatories in the hope it will go away on its own. I don't take illness very well and have been a bit tetchy and dramatic (huge understatement) about it. My poor long-suffering fella has taken the brunt.

And this had been such a healthy year for me so far. Still, I can put that down to a) not being a vegetarian any more - sorry Bambi. And b) getting the flu jab last November. It's coming up to that time of year again and I recommend anyone who gets a lot of colds to get it. I've had a year of NO COLDS. And it's been great. A couple of times I've felt like I was about to get a cold, but it only lasted a couple of days and then cleared up by itself. It only cost £17 but I would have paid £1700 to be cold-free for a year. You don't have to have the injection done via your doctors, but quite a few travel places do it now. So book early. And watch your ulnar tunnel - cos you never know when it's going to get messed up.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Who's Afraid of Janice Dickinson's Model Agency?

Over on Living TV (the channel dedicated to gay men and their fag hags), Janice Dickinson's model agency kicks off - a show designed to send teenage girls of all ages and sexes, running to the bathroom to vomit up their dinners, convinced they have an eating disorder. And you'll probably vomit even if the show doesn't give you an eating disorder - it's car-crash tv at its most hypnotic.

Janice is like a plastic-surgery dehanced Susie Essman from Curb Your Enthusiasm, the psychotic harpy shrew-bag whose social skills consist of shrieking insults, "Ya four eyed fuck!" being a particular favourite. Fired from America's Next Top Model, Janice has now started her own model agency. She used to be beautiful. But that was back in the days when Andy Warhol and Studio 54 were going strong. Now she's well into her 50s, and, refusing to age gracefully, has been transformed into a kind of Dr Seuss Bat in The Hat - the skin stretched so completely across her face, then botoxed up and out, that she is almost unable to blink, drink or think. She staggers around, looking like a frail little old lady dressed up as a drag queen - because that's exactly what she is. It's horrible.

But what's most horrific, is the way that Janice and her equally mongolicious team of (fat) experts and (ugly) stylists prod, pull, scribble on (literally), insult, bully and bitch at the fresh-faced youngsters who have been picked from obscurity in order to serve as foils for the most Dead-Eyed of LA. In today's episode, Janice gets them all to strip off, so they can have sad face stickers put on the bits of their bodies that "need work" - the principle seems to be - if you can't see bone jutting out, then it doesn't get a happy face.

I'm no prude, but I wondered how many parents of young children enjoyed seeing Sorin Mihalache strip off and parade his bulb-like bare ass around Janice's offices, while Janice screamed "He is PACKING it!" (The show went out on a Sunday afternoon.)

It isn't very pretty.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Pictures from around Bristol

A couple of my friends were visiting this week. Here's some pictures of me and my oldest school friend (we were on "top table" together when we were 7).

Waving at sailors on Bristol docks.

The standing stones at Avebury. It was raining quite heavily at this point and we had been harrassed by a tour bus full of loud American teenage girls.

At the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Don't jump!

The Royal Crescent at Bath. We both grew up on a rough council estate in the deprived northeast and so the sight of all this opulent housing brought out our "CLASS WAR" fury.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Jodie: Rehabilitated?

Regular readers will know about my fascination with Jodie Marsh. As celebrity blogs go, hers is something special - it's a no-holds barred verbal diatribe where nothing gets censored. At times it's like reading a rejected Alan Bennett monlogue. Despite the fact that everyone seems to hate Jodie (or perhaps because of that), I quite like her. I won't get into the whole post-feminist argument here, but she's made a name for herself by being famous for nothing but wearing next to nothing and surrounding herself with drama. Jodie represents everything anyone needs to know about modern Britain - she's a Becky Sharpe for the early 21st century. I love the sense of moral outrage that she invokes. When she was on Celebrity Big Brother earlier this year, she was the first person voted off, clashing with most of the other housemates - notably Pete Burns, George Galloway and Michael Barrymore (whom she rightfully described as "being screamed at by three ugly old men"). She cried, of course, during her post-eviction interview with Davina. And I was the only person in the country who felt sorry for her. Because I'm a softie. And you're all nasty cynics. It's just as well I'm not straight - I'm a sucker for women crying, fake or not.

Recently, I've been reading a parody blog, which rather cruelly yet hilariously, takes Jodie's real blogs and reads through the lines, putting a heartless spin on her life, while making fun of every hypocritical, self-centred, trashy thing she's ever written. She's an easy target, but as people are rarely consistent in their opinions - especially those who write from the heart and don't bother to go back and edit.

So it was with amusement that I noticed that Jodie WON a reality tv phone-in vote celebrity contest on Saturday. Granted, it was Channel 5. And granted, among her competitors were Peter Duncan, Andy Scott-Lee and Ron Atkinson. But she danced her way to glory. And for a whole 24 hours, she was the happiest girl alive.

But now she's gorged on the love of the public, it's all downhill. That's a kind of validation that can't last, and Jodie wants more, more, more. Just like little Neely O'Hara in Valley of the Dolls, Jodie needs "mass love". And Cold Turkey is a bitch: "it's just that I suppose I want to win the All Star Talent Show every day! Ha ha. I want to feel that good ALL the time." Note that little self-conscious "ha ha" at the end. It's one of Jodie's many verbal tics. She also writes "Comedy!" and "Carnage!" a lot after telling ancedotes about her life, sometimes they're used ironically or even in bitterness. But most of the time they're not.

Worst of all, Jodie's very publicly admitted on her blog, that she's got a massive crush on Ben, the dancer she was paired with for her big dance on All Star Talent Show. Ben's 19. And has a girlfriend. Now it's all gone a bit sour and Jodie's posted a big apology in her latest blog entry: "I am a total messed-up bitch." Where will it all end? I have no idea, but I suspect it will involve someone having their hair set on fire and being pushed down a staircase... I just wish Jodie would register herself immediately for a PhD in Women's Studies. It'd be like Legally Blonde, but even better.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Must try harder

I came across some old school photos today. Here are a few of my old PE teachers. Sexy no? Believe me, by the standards of the late 70s/early 80s, these guys were hot hot hot, representing the ultimate in masculinity.

I was never very sporty at school (C for attainment C for attitude was my usual mark). Me and my exceedingly camp friend would always be picked last for teams and then hover on the sidelines of the football pitch, bitching about everyone else (a pattern that was to become deeply ingrained behaviour in almost every aspect of my life from that point on). In the last few years, I played truant from sports altogether - it was simpler than devising complicated illnesses every week. I used to walk out of the school building and go to my grandmother's house where I'd pretend the school was on strike (again). Then I'd sit with her and drink cups of tea while her home help visited. For some reason I never got caught, although I'm sure it must have been obvious to everyone what I was doing. I think they just knew I was a lost cause.

Ironically, now I go to the gym almost every day. I'd like to think that all of the sporty kids at my school are now morbidly obese, flopped out in front of the tv 24/7, wheezing as they crack open another can of Bud, while throwing yet another Big Mac down their throats. I think that if my old PE teachers could see me now, they'd be giving ME an A for an attainment (but definitely an E for attitude).

Friday, September 15, 2006


After reading The Devil Wears Prada on the plane, and flicking through a copy of Details magazine, I came to the conclusion, late last night, that I am not the most fashionable person in the world. Shops like Banana Republic and Next, which I tend to buy most of my clothes at, are viewed as uncool by the Fashion Elite. That speech about the blue sweater could have been written about me.

So I decided today to turn over a new leaf and use all my unspent Canadian dollars to get a new wardrobe. There is a clothes shop near to where I live which I'm scared of. The assistants look like they're too cool for school. Even the mannequins in the window seem to draw away from me when I walk past. Anyway, I braved it. I expected them to ask me to leave immediately (I was wearing a 16 month old jacket from Next, a pair of jeans (also Next) that had been pre-faded in a way that equally dated them as old old old, a top from Topman and a pair of unfashionable old men's brown slip-on shoes - OK, OK, I know! I have problem feet. It's a curse. When I had to take them off to go through security at the airport last week a bunch of Paris Hiltons actually screamed at them.)

The shop assistant took an interest in me though (I was the only person in the shop) and said "Look. Do you want me to pick out some clothes that will make you look good?" This has never happened to me before. So I enthusiastically agreed. For the next hour we played "Dressing up Lubin Odana". She was a harsh mistress. I wasn't able to change clothes quick enough for her and she kept coming up to me saying "Aren't you changed yet? Men! You're all the same!" She deliberated for fifteen minutes over whether I should have the 32 or 34 inch leg jeans (just in - and pre-faded in a way that means I can wear them without shame). "You're actually a 33", she said finally. "But go for the large - women HATE it when men wear jeans that are even a little bit too small. It's awful when you see a man walking from behind and the jeans ride up and show off his socks." Really? I had no idea. I apologise for all the times I've done this and caused great offence to women everywhere.

"This'll look great in you!" she said, handing me a sweater that looked as if it had been pulled to bits by a child with ADD. "The girls will love you in this." I wanted to say "Yes, but will it get the attention of those hunky builders I have to pass every day?" but I only have the strength to confront heteronormative thinking about once in every 5 times it happens (and it's happening with worrying frequency at the moment - even when my friend took me to a gay bar in Vancouver, two people asked him if I was straight. For Chrissakes - I like Bette Davis films, that's about as nelly as you can get!)

So I ended up spending £200 on new clothes (I was given a £50 discount for some reason, I'm not sure why, but it involved having to buy a woman's magazine "I know you men all read women's magazines!" teased the helpful/scary assitant). I bought a t-shirt that I wasn't sure I really wanted - but I'd ended up sweating into it so much (fashion makes you hot) and was too embarrassed to put it back on the rack all wet and smelly. So now I have clothes that I be proud of. That's until I sit down on my sofa and a) they instantly turn ginger from all the cat hairs and b) my cat jumps on my lap and his claws get caught up in them, ruining them - or perhaps making them even more cool - as "distressed" seems to be in at the moment.

And if anyone still thinks I'm straight - I will direct them to this post. Because even the most metrosexual straight man wouldn't stoop to write something so self-debasing and neurotic (or admit to it at least).

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Flying is fun

My flight back to the UK took forever and that was without delays. Vancouver-London is a long flight anyway, but the plane touched down in Calgary to take some more passengers, adding on 2 hours, and then when I got to London, there was a 3 and a half hour coach ride back to Bristol. It was not the most comfortable plane, I am 6 feet 1, and was crammed into a seat where it was literally impossible for me to do the "suggested leg exercises" shown on the tv monitors. Everyone immediately around me gradually encroached on my space further. The man next to me monopolised the arm rest. The woman in front of me pushed back her seat so it was in my face. And when I tried to push back my seat, the woman behind me actually pushed my chair forwards again. This went on for a bit until she demanded that I put my seat upright.

So by the time the plane touched down, I was not in my usual loving, giving mood and started to feel hatred towards most of the passengers. Like the people who SCREAMED and CLAPPED with raccous laughter at the infantile hidden camera comedy clip show that was on the monitors. It was like someone had said "Whoever laughs loudest and in the most weird an annoying way will get this extra piece of flan!" A woman near me kept saying "that's funny!" in an old-lady/little-girl Edith Massey voice after every lame gag. Her long-suffering husband didn't speak to her once for the whole 10 hour flight. I also hated the buffoons who APPLAUDED THE PILOT on THREE SEPARATE OCCASIONS as the plane began its touch-down. Why clap? He probably can't hear you. And it's mainly done with computers anyway.

I hated the two Paris Hilton-alikes, blonde, spoiled girls in their 20s who got out their COLOURING BOOKS and FELT TIP PENS and started to colour in pictures of UNICORNS and PRINCESSES. Sheesh! And I hated the ultra-confident macho guy who stood next to me at baggage collection and boasted to some secondary friend that he'd picked up these three girls on the plane and was going to take them for drinks "One's hot, one's not so hot - you can have her - you'll have to take one for the team!" Unsurprsingly, he had the biggest luggage you've ever seen. I hate people with enormous suitcases. Seriously - I do. The smaller the person's brain (or body), the larger their suitcase seems to be.

So I realised that the flight had made me somewhat grouchy, and I apologise for all the withering glances I made to people on flight TS320. I'm sure you're all nice people really.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Go Team!

While in Canada, I've become addicted to Two-A-Days, MTV's reality tv show about a High School football team in Alabama. It's full of unintentionally camp drama - episode 1 focussed on the fraught relationship between uber-hunk Alex and dragqueen cheerleader Kirsten. It transpired that Alex may or may not have spent time alone with Keagan, and matters were made only worse when Keagen painted Alex's number on herself during the big game - only Kirsten is allowed to do that! OH MY GOD! In episode 2, Kirsten seeks solace with Goose - though I doubt it'll go anywhere - Goose is at best "friend" material.

As this is the deep south, religion is everywhere and the Coach's inspirational speeches regularly feature references to God and the baby Jesus. All of the boys have exactly the same hairstyle - a kind of weird, swept forward and to the side affair.

It's also damn homoerotic - locker-room scenes regularly feature the boys stripping off to their jockstraps or bathing in a tub of ice. And really, with all this right-wing heteronormativity on display, the only way to cope with this programme is to imagine that they are all characters from nifty | gay male | athletics . If you like them big and dumb, then this is the show for you.
Still learning about this stuff

I love this speech. I want everyone to learn it off by heart and use it at least once a day.

this stuff?
oh. ok. I see. you think this has nothing to do with you
you go to your closet and you select I dont know
that lumpy blue sweater for instance
because youre trying to show the world that you take yourself
too seriously to care about what you put on your back
but what you dont know is that sweater is not just blue
its not turquoise
its not latmus
its actually cerulean
youre also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002
Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns
and then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent wasn't it who showed cerulean military jackets and then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of 8 different designers
and filtered down through the department stores
and then trickled on down into some tragic
causal corner where you no doubt fished it out of some clearance bin
however that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs
and its sort of comical how you think youve made a choice that exempts you
from the fashion industry when in fact youre wearing a sweater that
was chosen for you from the people in this room
from a pile of stuff.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Sleepless in Seattle

No, not the film but a description of me yesterday, all jet-lagged out. I've discovered I can regulate it with coffee, which helps though, and Seattle's the right place for that.

After waiting at the Canadian-American border for 90 minutes, finally a friendly immigration officer called Hoag stamped my passport, charged me 6 dollars and let me through. I went up the space needle, which was fun, and wanted to go on the monorail but it was broken. The place looks a bit like it could do with a spruce-up, and the roads are awful. My only frames of reference are coffee, Frasier, Microsoft and that dumb film. Oh well. Speaking of dumb films, I did get to see The Whicker Man remake, with Nicolas Cage. Over at the imdb there are hundreds of reviews giving it 1 star and saying it was the worst film ever seen. I actually quite enjoyed it - I must be very undiscerning. However, I mostly enjoyed it as the same way I like Showgirls - as a campy, unintentionally funny cult hit. It was always going to alienate its audience. "Intellectuals" will complain it isn't as good as the original because they always do and they hate the idea of remakes. Ordinary Joes will hate the unhappy ending and the fact that the main character is ageing Nicolas Cage rather than say, a shirtless Mark Ruffalo. Still, they didn't mess with the original storyline too much, though now the island is off from Seattle (oddly enough) and it's a weird matriarchy with lots of mannish women in it.

My fella phoned me in Tokyo (he is "Lost in Translation") to say that he'd bought us a replacement kettle - one of those fab ones that keep the water constantly at boiling rate so you can have instant hot drinks (and you feel like you're living in the future), we had one before but it broke. And he's also got a tiny video camera thingie. So I will join the ranks of youtube and start doing live blogs etc. Except I probably won't because I'm painfully awkward when you point a camera at me.

Just before I left Bristol, I had a dentist appointment. "Are you OK with your teeth?" asked the dentist. "Because we could fix them with new invisilign, a revolutionary teeth-straightening technology from California!" I had no idea my teeth were that bad (please tidy your "British people have awful teeth" stereotypes away) - even Americans tell me I have nice teeth. But apparently the bottom ones are not exactly in line with the top ones. "Tom Cruise has the same problem" said the dentist. He looked in my mouth and said "It will cost £4200 to fix. But actually, it's going to be very complicated for you. I don't think we can do it anyway." So I guess I'll have to live with a "problem" I didn't know I had.

Speaking of Tom Cruise - their baby looks scary. When I first saw it I thought a) it's had plastic surgery b) it's wearing a bad wig c) it looks like Damian the child of satan from the Omen films. But don't they look like a loving family. I'm convinced. Totally. No, really. I am. (Can you see his wonky teeth?)

Monday, September 04, 2006


Big Brother America Allstars is down to the wire, with 4 contestants left. Allstars reality shows never really live to their hype (e.g. Survivor) and less-than-fantastic ratings have meant that a week has been cropped off the schedules this year. Allstars isn't really like a new show in itself - more like a compilation of all of the other series merged together.The programme has become increasingly self-referential - with characters wearing t-shirts that parody their appearances in earlier series while playing out their personas in an overly self-conscious way. Even the mechanised host, Julie Chen has gotten in on the act, residing over a game called "But First..." - an ironic nod towards the catch-phrase which earned her the name Chenbot.

From where I stand, the endgame looks like a horrific car-crash of David Koresh like proportions. Will and Mike - two fast friends (some would say "heterosexual" life partners) from Season 2 are involved in "showmances" with buxom blonde power-house Janelle from Season 6 and languid pilates instructor Erika from Season 4. Both girls believe that the guys are going to take them to the end. However, Will and Mike only have eyes for each other. The relationship between Erika and Mike is particularly twisted - Erika is in love with him, talking about having his babies etc - and is being completely played for a sucker - Mike boasts in the diary room about how he's going to Hell. Worse still, the Mike/Erika showmance is being engineered by Will - who instructs Mike to "get upstairs and showmance Erika". Will has perfected the strategy of charismatic lying and machiavellian manipulation which ensured he walked off with the top prize 5 years ago. He looks on track to do it again. By losing contests on purpose, he's then sat back and engineered almost every eviction in the house - deflecting the blame elsewhere. There's something eerily cult-like in the way that Erika and Janelle desparately want to believe that they're part of the inner-circle. When Erika gets out of the house, we may be witness to the first reality-tv show murder...

Only Janelle stands a chance of evicting Will - to look at her, you'd think, ditzy brainless blonde bimbo - but like an Austin Powers fembot, she's a killer in disguise, a competitive power-house - winning more contests than anyone else - no matter that other contestants occasionally get kicked in the face. Her only flaw is believing in Will. Which is likely to make him the better player - because Big Brother isn't just about winning contests - it's about strategy and manipulation.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Lucky bag

Type A-personality not linked to heart disease. As someone who has lots of Type A traits (impatient, competitive, driven, perfectionist, can't relax, normally in fast-forward mode), this is good news. I bet those lazy unproductive Type Bs are laughing on the other side of their faces now. (How's that for a typical Type A response).

Speaking of competitive, I am addicted to Conquest, a very playable computer version of Risk which is free to download here. If you pay $20 you get the full version of the game which lets you play hundreds of weird and different maps (Atlantis, the crab?). I find it difficult to win if you're playing with lots of computer opponents, as everyone tends to stockpile their armies and then if you attack anyone, the others all gang up on you in your weakened state. My strategy - go for Australia and/or South America while ensuring you keep at least one army in North America and Europe. Make sure you get at least one victory each go, as you'll get an extra card which contributes towards more armies, but don't leave terrorities with no armies on them - they'll get taken.

I have discovered a Waitrose near where I live - it's fabulously snobby. You don't have to pay a pound deposit for the shopping trolleys (cos Waitrose customers can be trusted to not run off with them) and you can buy speciality foods like quails eggs. Many of the customers are elderly, independently wealthy women who have "dressed up" to go shopping and have no aisle-awareness, leaving their trolleys in inconvenient places. But, I also suspect that one of the managers must be gay, as it's stocked out with pretty boys in their late teens and early 20s. So it all balances out.

This news story is freaking me out. It's like that Terrance Stamp film, The Collector and it's disturbing on so many levels - the poor girl was unpopular at school, her last contact with her mother was a slap in the face, they were from a poor family and it's argued that this is one of the reasons why the authorities "gave up" on the search. It's also weird how she's gone from being utterly disconnected from society and invisible, to now being famous - everyone wants a piece of her - there'll be media appearances, agents will get involved and she could stand to make a lot of money, along with her family - so much for living a "normal" life - it's going to be from one extreme to the other. And I bet somewhere, someone is already writing the film script of her life. And I hate big media stories like this because it just increases the chance that someone will try and copy it.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

No one's lazy in Lazy Town

My 3 year old nephew has put aside Thomas the Thank Engine for a new tv show - Lazy Town - a surreal, colourful show about a town full of lazy people who need to be motivated to exercise by hyper-active Sportacus and his pink-haired side-kick Stephanie.

My sister says it's the only programme he'll sit down and watch all the way throught, rapt with attention. He walks around eating carrots and apples because Sportacus refers to them as "nature's candy". And he's become so obsessed with it that he's started referring to members of his family and himself as characters from Lazy Town. His Dad is Sportacus. But his mum is Pixel, a little African-American boy with orange hair. I am Trixie - an 8-year old GIRL with bunches in her hair (does he see some inner essence to me or does everyone think I'm like an 8 year old GIRL but are too polite to say?) And their dog is Robbie Rotten - the villain. At least his bizarre characterisations also extend to himself - he calls himself Stephanie (of the pink hair) - it must be lovely to be 3 again and not yet be completely constratined by society's evil gender stereotypes. My sister at first found it cute, but it's now getting annoying, when he's outside at the local park, he keeps shouting "Pixel! Pixel!" to her and all the other parents think they're a crazy family.