Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Doll Soup is back

Several years ago I used to write an online soap opera with dolls in it called Doll Soup. The original episodes are lost forever - wiped from my hard-drive by accident, and not even available on those web-crawler archives.

After a long rest - Doll Soup is back.

And we're starting right at the beginning, with ingenue Pam moving into the Doll House and encountering all those nasty city folk. The dolls might be new (the old ones met a horrible fate), but their problems are just the same...

Monday, December 29, 2008

Gladiators... READY!

I spent Christmas in a farmhouse somewhere remote in Cumbria - there was no mobile reception - you couldn't even get a tv ariel signal. However, the owners had kindly installed Sky in several rooms in the house. I gave up on paying extra for satellite channels a few years ago, realising that most of the best stuff was on Freeview anyway (and increasingly on Iplayer), so it was interesting to scroll through hundreds of channels of absolute nonsense. The typical Sky channel seems to consist of a young woman with a "common accent", a below average IQ, blonde hair and large breasts, standing in a poorly decorated tv studio, attempting to sell something, while badly composed text messages and random numbers whizz across the bottom of the screen.

Sky One retains its spot as purveyor of high-quality trash though. My 5 year old nephew was particularly taken with the relaunched Gladiators, which is as silly, addictive and glitzy as I remember it in the mid-1990s. My nephew is just getting to that stage where anything to do with girls is seen as naff, so he was initially unimpressed by the female gladiators. However, as kitsch and shameless as Gladiators might be - there is a (post-)feminist message in there - women can be just as tough (and still have beautiful hair and nails).

In the episode we saw, the original Gladiators had returned to battle it out with the younger, more pert ones. There were rather cruel flashbacks to the old series, as we saw the likes of Wolf, Hunter, Lightening and Panther as they were in their glory days (although with that said - Wolf was always old. Now he looks a bit like Peter Tatchell on steroids.) I was rather concerned about the old Gladiators - while they had a lot of spirit and pluck, they were now in their 40s and 50s, and bodies aren't as bendy as they used to be. One of the poor lady Gladiators ended up on crutches after she went over on her foot.

My favourite new Gladiator (who has taken the mantle of villain from Wolf), is Oblivion. Charlie Brooker has recently said that the new male Gladiators all sound like gay nightclubs (he's right - there's a gay club called Oblivion about 20 miles from my house).

When Oblivion is not being Oblivion, he is Nick Aldis, a wrestler from Docking in Norfolk. And he is 21. Sigh.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The woman who almost became Vice President...

Sarah Palin's 2009 calendar has recently become available. I haven't seen the pictures inside, but the cover picture here made me do a double-take - it looks like a parody - as if someone who really really hated Sarah Palin and everything that she stood for decided to do a little Photoshopping. Either that, or the calendar has fallen through a wormhole from an eerie alternative univerise, where there is a nuclear war and Palin ends up presiding over a post-apocalyptic nightmare world.

However, considering Palin's Thanksgiving video - being interviewed in front of a machine that literally killed turkeys, this picture looks pretty restrained. Can you imagine what she'll do for Easter? I suspect it'll involve some sort of cruxifiction tableaux....

The American flag + Palin daffily smiling while carrying a rifle is liable to cause ideology overload no matter what your political views are. Palin makes George W Bush look subtle. It's no surprise that Tina Fey, Palin's impersonator, has won Entertainer of the Year. However, I think the award should have actually gone to Palin herself. She continues to entertain - and horrify, in equal measures.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Polari magazine launch

Me and gay magazines don't have a very good history. About eight years ago I worked briefly for a magazine in London until I was sacked for having a bad attitude (to be fair, they were right - I do). The main problem was that I wanted to make the magazine all thought-provoking and intelligent, whereas it was supposed to be soft-porn with adverts to be picked up while out clubbing. The two pieces of advice I received were "write as if your reader is drunk" and "write as if your reader stacks shelves in a supermarket".

So I'm pleased to note that the first issue of Polari magazine, an online gay magazine has gone online. The magazine's mission is to provide intelligent, thought-provoking and humorous content for gay men and lesbians, without making everything be about sex or getting you to buy stuff. It's exactly the sort of magazine that I wanted to create eight years ago.

The html version is at There's also a fancy flash version and a forum.

The name Polari comes from a now almost-dead form of gay language use - something which I carried out research on (there's a small article by me in the first issue). I wish them lots of success.