Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Early adopter

I succumbed to the advertising yesterday and bought one of those fancy Iphones things (I have affectionately called it Muhammad - see how on-topic I am today!) I may not be able to recognise a Babyshambles or Amy Winehouse song (although I've noticed that the ratty beehive is making a comeback among young women - hurrah), but at least I am up to speed with the latest technological developments.

I am impressed so far - infact, I'm not sure I'll be using my Ipod again. The Iphone has a big enough memory for the songs I listen to, and is also a phone, camera, map of the UK, web browser, emailer, does youtube and can tell me all about stocks and shares. The only thing that seems to be missing is a penknife attachment. I suspect version 2 will have a laser button that will cut through metal or vaporise people.

Going back to a proper keyboard again is nice - I never really got the hang of using the numerical keypad for letters. However, the keyboard on the Iphone is a bit too small for my man hands - so I usually end up pressing the wrong button. Still, I'm faster at it than with the old system. And I do hope that this spells the death-knell for txtspeak and all that writing 2 instead of to. I also wonder whether text messages and emails will sort of merge into each other now - as I can use the Iphone to do either. Let's have a return to properly punctuated, grammatically correct, orthographically sound messages (for some of us, they never went away).

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Hello My Name is Barbara

I am about the only person left at work who doesn't have a cleaner, because I insist on doing it all myself in order to "keep me grounded". However, lately I've been working quite a lot in the evenings and weekends, and now I'm living in a bigger place I'm finding all this housework a bit dreary. And besides, I'm not very good at it. My fella doesn't do housework at all - so it often becomes a source of bitter carping "Here I am, up to my knees in your unwashed socks and what are you doing? Playing Fall of Man on the PS3 that's what!"

A sympathetic colleague told me about her Polish cleaner, so I asked if her cleaner would be interested in becoming my cleaner as well. It turned out that she would, and so on Monday morning, the bell rang and I heard a woman say "Hello, my name is Barbara." And with those words I became a capitalist, white slaver and general oppressor.

Can you tell I have liberal guilt?

Barbara does not have much English yet but she is very hardworking. As well as doing lots of cleaning, she also works in a chicken factory. She puts all us British people to shame - now that we're all too lazy and obese to fill the millions of job places that are going free - instead we claim we're suffering from "stress" or our breasts aren't big enough so we have low self esteem and need an op on the NHS before we can go outside again, or we can't walk anymore because our legs stopped working due to lack of use and all we can do is sit on the sofa, eating Kingsize Mars Bars and watching Loose Women. Barbara on the other hand refused my offer to make her tea (liberal guilt) and just went at the bathroom like a woman possessed. I had to throw her out eventually as I needed to go in to work. She looked very displeased "Is not good!" she kept saying, pointing at a floor that she had only half cleaned. I have employed her services fortnightly and gave her a big tip (liberal guilt).

When I went upstairs, the bathroom was sparkling clean, like in an advert. Or a Disney film. Just like the dirt and dust, all my liberal guilt instantly vanished...

Forget all this crap about "immigrants" taking "our" jobs that I keep reading on the BBC news "have your say" columns. I think we should deport all the lazy British people - I'm not sure Poland would have them though.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

"Shut the doors! Shut the doors! Something in the MIST!"

When I was 13 I joined one of those Book of the Month Clubs. The first book I received through the post was Stephen King's enormous book of short stories "Skeleton Crew", which also contained a full length novel called The Mist. It was about a group of customers in a supermarket in small-town America who see a mysterious mist come over the horizon and cover everything. It might be something to do with the strange experiments that the military have been conducting on a nearby base... Anyone who leaves the supermarket vanishes, never to return, two soldiers from the army base have committed suicide in the back of the store (clearly they know something has gone very wrong), and there are weird HP Lovecraftian creatures floating around and banging on the windows. Oh, and inside, there's a religious nut called Mrs Carmody who starts calling for human sacrifices.

It scared me to bits and for the next five years or so I devoured all the Stephen King I could find.

Now I'm a "grown-up" I don't read Stephen King any more. In my early 20s I started to find his books a bit formulaic (all those male writers as heroes), often sentimental and a bit too easy-to-read. Also, the novels where he tries to include the thoughts and actions of every single member of a small town are a bit long-winded for my busy 24/7 lifestyle. But there are a few stories that I still like, and I sometimes think that some of King's older novels are even more relevant today than when he initially wrote them. The Long Walk - for example, is about a televised walking contest where anyone who drops out is gunned down by ultra-conservative police. And Mrs Carmody is probably a much better example of the religious right now than she was when the novel was first written.

I'd often hoped that someone would make a film of The Mist. And guess what, they have. It comes out on general release in the US on the 21st of November. Initial reviews at the IMDB look positive. I'm really hoping it's a good film (even though I've heard rumours that they messed with the ending). Let this be Misery or Carrier rather than The Lawnmower man.

The trailer looks pretty good anyway. I love it when Mrs Carmody starts going on about the "end of days"... Dessie (and other horror fans), what do you think?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Being a misery guts in Istanbul

I am in Istanbul for a few days - purely for a holiday. On the flight here, I was sitting in a row with a couple of pensioners and their grown up daughter and her husband. They were all drinking beer and reading tabloids and had little sandwiches they'd made themselves that were wrapped in tin foil. The daughter kept shouting "Are you alright Dad?" every 5 minutes. Dad had comedy false teeth and applauded when the pilot landed the plane. I joined in, just to be polite.

I hate planes - I am 6' 2 and find it very difficult to sit comfortably in a very small space for more than an hour or so. I always sit behind the person who puts their backrest as far back as it will go for the whole flight and then needs to be told by the air steward to put it back in the upright position because the plane is landing. I tend not to put my own backrest back because I worry it will annoy the people behind me - so this gives me even less space. I was trying to read The Guardian, which didn't help - it's so big, you have to fold the pages into quarters before it becomes manageable. And then it's all moaning and doom about Bush, the environment and everything else. They're not as bad now that Tony Blair has been booted out, but they're a miserable lot on the whole. I banged my head twice on the seat in front of me, didn't get served coffee and as a result had a headache and was in a rotten mood by the time I had arrived. It's at rare times like this that I wish that I was married to a corrupt politician in a South American country, or a corrupt CEO of an American corporation so I could afford to go business class everywhere.

Turkey is a bit like being in the 1970s. In the taxi to the hotel, my seatbelt didn't work and the taxi driver didn't seem to care (he was either drunk or was wearing aftershave with very high alcohol content) and was far to busy using his mobile phone and tooting his horn indiscriminately to notice me struggling. At one point, we were stuck in a queue and about 20 cars started beeping their horns in macho unision. It felt like the end of civilisation. The whole ride I kept thinking about how Princess Di died because she wasn't wearing a seatbelt.

Our hotel is very charming though - we are staying in a room which apparently John Paul Gaultier has stayed in. It is the campest room ever - an enormous chandelier and everything is decked out in gold and brocade. Our room has a private hamam which is rather nice - though I keep imagining John Paul Gaultier in there and it's a bit off-putting. I like Turkish people - they are generally very friendly - although the male heterosexual arm-linking and crotch grabbing sometimes makes me confused. You never know if someone is just expressing their culture at you, or whether they're in love. I think we should let them into the EU. They have some lovely rug shops.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Mr Fussy

I received a letter today from the management company of the apartment buildings I live at, asking if I would like to be one of the directors.

I should have seen it coming - since I moved here two months ago I have been bombarding them with complaints and questions about faulty lighting, litter and badly behaved residents. I have also spent evenings removing bike marks from the walls of the communal areas, I regularly go out and pick up cigarette butts, and I've paid the council to remove large items that other residents have dumped outside the building. I even expressed shock when I smelled cannabis in the stairwell the other week.

Somehow, when I wasn't looking, I've turned into an old fusspot.

I used to love the Mr Men books when I was growing up. I think Mr Fussy was the first ever gay-coded children's character I encountered. Look at that moustache - he's practically a clone. I love how Mr Fussy has his own Wikipedia page - it's only a stub, but someone took the time to make it. And that's love for you.
Trailer Trash

Here's the trashtastic trailer for the Russ Meyer Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill! It's about three twisted gogo dancers who take a trip to the desert in order to cause mayhem and murder. Tura Satana plays the rather satanic-looking leader of the trio, while Haji is her on/off lover and Lori Williams is the over-sexed muscle-loving blonde bimbo who can't help breaking out into wild watusi moves when the mood takes her. With great music throughout, this is one of my favourite campy Bs.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Breaking out of the glass closet

I am ploughing through season 1 of Prison Break, a rather grim series involving a chap who gets himself put in prison so he can help break out his brother who is on death row for a crime he didn't commit. The escape plan is impossibly complicated, rivalling anything that the Hooded Claw would have come up with to do away with Penelope Pitstop. In fact it's so complicated that brother#1 had it tattooed all over his body before he went to prison.

The two brothers have the same military buzzcuts and rarely smile. Brother #2 has the thickest eyebrows I have ever seen. Nobody smiles much in Prison Break. On the other hand, there is a lot of sadistic snarling, especially from sinister prisoners like T-bag (possibly the most evil man on the planet), or some of the more nasty guards. In an early episode Brother #1 has two of his toes cut off (I'm still not sure why). A picture of American prisons is painted that looks horrific - all young offenders in the US should probably be made to watch this (ideally between their second and third "strikes").

Perez Hilton regularly claims that the actor who plays brother #1, Wentworth Miller is in the closet. Miller joins Queen Latifah, Michelle Rodrigeuz, Jodie Foster and Hugh Jackman who are also often "outed" by Perez.

I'm not sure where I stand on the whole outing thing. On the one hand, Perez has a good point - if Jodie is gay and she came out, then she'd be sending a positive message to young gay men and lesbians throughout America - and America could do with more positive gay role models, especially now. But that's the problem - would huge swathes of her fans simply switch off. As Ellen Degeneres found when she came out - the media can be very bitchy.

But somehow - so what? Jodie's got enough money as it is. She has nothing to prove. And if someone is gay - it's likely to all come out when they're dead anyway - so why not take control of your own destiny and smash the "glass closet" to bits. I doubt the publicity would last more than a week anyway - and then we'd be back to Britney or Lindsay's latest drug rehab car crash or something.