Monday, February 28, 2005

God it's Cold

Well, Edinburgh's smaller than I remember. And whilst, disappointingly, there is no snow, the temperature here could be safely regarded as bracing.

Ho hum.

I am currently experiencing something of a first. My first ever easyInternetCafe experience. I can't say I'm hugely impressed - I mean, it works, but to be fair it's more than a little grotty. I dread to think what the keyboard is covered with.

But to be fair it is on the same street as Filthy McNasty's and Dirty Dicks so maybe I needn't think too hard.

Still, hotel is odd. I must remember to take some pictures and post them as soon as possible. It would make a great set for some spy series it really would.

Strangely I'm really rather looking forward to getting back home. Business trips really are no fun at all. Stuck in an alien environment (the hotel again) with no-one you know is really rather demoralising.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Righty-ho...

...I'm all packed and raring to go.

I say raring. I rather dislike flying so that's not sometihing I'm looking forward to, but never mind, Edinburgh here I come!

No idea what my internet access will be like over the next few days, so until Friday: have a good week y'all!

I Bring You Pain!

My flat, situated in a conversion of one of a terrace of lovely Victorian Big Fuck Off houses, has only one real problem - the child upstairs.

I've met him. He's tiny even for a four year old, but somehow the sound of him playing upstairs is somewhat akin to having a herd of elephants on roller-skates learning to jive. Crashes, booms and thuds reverberate through the entire house, fixtures and fittings shake and passers by think Armageddon is fast approaching.

And when it happens at ten at night I'm afraid to say it brings out my latent authoritarian streak something rotten: "shouldn't that fucking child be in bed" I've been known to explode, following it up with a hunt through hardware catalogues for nailguns I can fire through the ceiling.

Well he's been pretty bad this morning, but as I was ironing my shirts for the trip to Edinburgh and cursing him under my breath there was suddenly a loud crash and silence for all of about three seconds. Following which he began to cry like a banshee.

I'm afraid I smiled contentedly. The wailing was if anything worse than the normal noises he produces and went on for ages, but somehow knowing he wasn't enjoying himself this time made it seem much more bearable.

Yours,

Burning in hell.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Bye'Dar

As is my usual routine, this morning I booted up Spasm, opened Outlook and downloaded my emails for the morning. It was largely the usual round of junk: "Cialis at low prices" shouted one (prompting me to wonder who'd been talking) and "Slutty housewives looking for affairs" which just goes to show how untargetted these things are.

But I also got a message from Gaydar which took me by surprise. Apparently, in an attempt to try and create a sense of community - yeah right - they seem to be sending out newsletters. It was all pretty "yay, we're cool and funky" (and therefore painfully embarrassing) but somewhere towards the bottom sat a link to a comic strip called the "Gaydar Gang".

And like a fool I clicked on it.

Well, it was well-drawn I'll give it that. But with the best will in the world it was also vacuous, stereotypical and faintly unpleasant. As far as I could tell the moral of the story was: it's great to be on Gaydar - it means you can suck off straight men in an alleyway and go cottaging. (Most of which I'm fairly sure would go on without Gaydar's continued existence.)

So, having read this travesty in comic form I decided that I'm leaving the site.

I've been thinking of leaving for a while anyway since I'm not really the casual sex type. I don't mind one-off's at all, assuming I like the person involved, but going out looking for it isn't really my scene, I prefer something organic to happen really.

I guess partially this is through a deep-seated lack of self-confidence, and an over-abundance of paranoia and laziness, but it's also because I've been there, drank that, and washed the t-shirt. The handful of quick pickups (as I'm sure Big Fun would have sung if they were honest) it has gained me were, with a few exceptions, pretty ghastly episodes all told. So somehow I don't feel the need.

It's also rather worrying having friends suddenly turn round and go "oh I found your Gaydar profile: nice cock!". Now okay, I could remove that pic, but I'm an all or nothing kind of person and its about the only thing going for my profile really. (Although I'm worried that I'm the only person who doesn't look out for their friends' cock pics. Is this something I should be trying to overcome?)

So anyway, leaving was always on the cards, but this comic - for want of a better word - strip has made up my mind. I shall not renew my licence and just kill it off.

Incidentally if you want a decent gay comic strip which is actually funny, cutting *and* has moments of deviancy then head over to Fagz and trawl through that. It's always good for a smile and sometimes utterly inspired.

Suits You Sir

Next week I'm training some clients in Edinburgh, and normally when I'm "client facing" I rely on my black Nehru suit which looks fab - in fact it's very Roger Delgado.

Recently, though, old age has been setting in and the shirts I wear with it (also nehru) have been depleted by the simple fact that I can't do most of them up round the neck any more. Hence I went and bought new shirts, but could only get them with standard collars, which look crap with a nehru jacket.

So, with this in mind, I thought I'll wear my other suit next week. A smart grey single breasted little number which might make a nice change.

Since I haven't worn it for a while, last night I tried it on.

And thus, much to my annoyance, had to go and buy a new suit with a larger waist size just now during lunch. (The annoyance due to the fact that my other suit with the same waist size still fits fine).

My flatmate was very supportive of this change in my circumstances. "It's alright," he said, "I've had that problem with one of my suits. It's because you're going to the gym more and bulking up, and besides, sometimes they just don't dry-clean well." (You see, we make a great team: I'm neurotic, he's manic depressive and we're both totally self-deluding.)

Anyway, this act in itself is something of a milestone. It's the first suit I have personally purchased myself; all my other ones have been bought by aunts, uncles and fathers with a view toward creating good impressions at job interviews and court appearances.

And to celebrate I also bought some casual clothes in a fit of pure shopping bravado.

I shouldn't be allowed a Barclaycard, I really shouldn't. Especially not one with such an enticingly high credit limit.

The Wedding Planner

As someone who has been buffeted through a particularly acrimonious and long-winded parental breakup and divorce, you might expect that my view of marriage as a whole is somewhat bleak.

And you'd be right. I'm not a fan.

But I've been vaguely amused by an outbreak of wedding-arrangement stresses that seem to be cropping up in advice columns quite a lot of late. For one thing it's interesting to see how many people are now employing wedding planners to avoid the involvement of their prospective mothers-in-law (thus setting that relationship off on the wrong foot from the start).

But the really amusing thing is that it seems that people are no longer willing to settle for a stodgy fruit cake at their reception. The accepted options are now many and varied (although still obviously cakey in form) and disgareements over what sort of cake to have seem to bring out the worst in all those concerned.

I dunno: if they can't even get a simple cake sorted, it's obviously going to end in tiers.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Pop! Goes the Weasel

So it's finally happened (happened happened) Pop! have been dropped by their record company. No longer will the luscious Glenn and Jamie hoof around on our screens with two yelping bimbos in tow, and now there's no chance of their storming remake of Xanadu getting the release it so richly deserved.

Which is a shame in some respects.

In others though it's not exactly unexpected. The first single, "Heaven and Earth" had a chorus that sounded like a group of cats being strangled and justly under-performed. The second "Can't Say Goodbye" I rather liked - especially the WIP mixes which did make it sound exactly like a Steps track - but the last one, "Serious" bored me. It was one of those stabs at a more mature sound which unfortunately lacked any form of life and zest.

In a world with Xenomania and Richard X producing fresh, tightly constructed pop music with verve and imagination I'm really surprised that Pete felt that the Steps formula (however much I liked it) should be revisited only a couple of years after they stopped.

Plus there's also the Xerox effect: try to duplicate anything and it always loses a certain amount of sharpness in the process.

RIP Pop!, but too little, too soon I think.

Que?

Passed a sign for these guys whilst travelling in this morning.

http://www.hotblackdesiato.co.uk

I could scarcely believe my eyes.

Soon we'll have restaurants out in Zone 6 called "The End of the Universe".

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Mmm. Saturnine.

I've noticed that since growing (and finally giving up on) goatee, the stubble round my mouth is much coarser and darker than it used to be.

I seem to have finally provoked my growth into a five-o-clock shadow - yay!

That with a (relatively) blond strip goatee, though, is creating an interesting effect. I'm sticking with this one a bit longer I think.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Oh Sod It

See, I took the day off because I was anticipating an enormous hangover.

And then I didn't drink last night.

So all I've really done today is a few blog entries, a bit of washing up, some hoovering and been tricked into a Quorn curry (which, don't tell the flatmate, was rather nice).

Any minute now I can see myself succumbing to the pressure of being home and in a state of reasonable fitness and heading to the gym.

And that would never do.

Right, Listen Up Bitches

Sweden are officially doing better pop than any other country (again).

For proof see Pay TV who are just brilliant.

The Refrain Refrain single is apparently even now waiting despatch from Sweden. Trendy Discotheque arrived yesterday (along with my equally wonderful Bodies Without Organs singles) just in time for my set.

I'm loving CDon.

Winter Wonderland

There were times last night when a veritable blizzard was happening really. But sadly this morning it hasn't taken as much as I'd like.

Oh well.

I can't decide if last night was a complete disaster or not as bad as it could have been. A bit of both I guess. Windpops seems to operate (certainly on the times I've been there) on an alternate "busy" and "dead" crowd. Last night, undoubtedly not helped by the weather (heck I wouldn't have been out if I hadn't promised) it was pretty dead.

My continued problems with the CD decks... um... continued. Damn thing eventually had problems reading loads of CDs (even ones it had no problems reading earlier) and sound pops and clicks so I'd have to whack in a lens cleaner and try again. One DVD wouldn't play either so I had to resort to Loony Tunes and the Avengers (which kept popping up with subtitles, so in a fit of pique I made them French).

We eventually closed early, myself vaguely demoralised, at which point I had trouble persuading people to fuck off. I threatened them with Sonia but they called my bluff and carried on dancing (in fact they danced more) until finally it was suggested that just shutting everything down may help. That didn't deter some people, though, who stayed at their table until forcibly ejected.

I also didn't enjoy doing it so much this time. The suggestion that we'd be closing early meant that a lot of my set I cut for time reasons, and thus the more rockier aspects I ended up ditching - which in retrospect was a mistake. Nothing but pop and electro was okay, but it just wasn't as interesting for me without the Korns, Feeders, Roxettes and Good Charlottes thrown in for good measure. (Mind you, all the stuff I cut is now on a separate spreadsheet for next time, so 25 minutes of grungier stuff is now sorted.)

Anyway, setlist for those interested was as follows:

  • The Parade - Terrorise the Dancefloor
  • Belvedere Kane - Never Felt As Good
  • Fuzzbox - International Rescue (Orgasmatron Mix)
  • Human League - Shameless (Audicity Mix)
  • Bodies Without Organs - Sixteen Tons of Hardware (Johan S Mix)
  • The Killers - All These Things I've Done
  • Betty Boo - I'm On My Way
  • Depeche Mode - Enjoy the Silence (Richard X Mix)
  • Alcazar - I Go Shopping
  • Divinyls - I Touch Myself
  • The Nolans - I'm in the Mood for Dancing (PWL Mix)
  • Gonnabees - Queen Of Pop
  • Henry Mancini - Pink Panther Theme (Fischerspooner Mix)
  • Donna Summer - This Time I Know It's For Real
  • Pet Shop Boys - Always On My Mind (PWL Remix)
  • Ladytron - Playgirl
  • Charlotte Nilsen - Take Me To Your Heaven
  • Nicki French - Don't Play That Song Again
  • Pay TV - Trendy Discotheque
  • Jason Donovan - RSVP
  • Baccara - Sorry I'm A Lady
  • Garbage - I Think I'm Paranoid
  • Victoria Beckham - Let Your Head Go
  • Sinitta - Shame Shame Shame (Extended Club Mix)
  • Pete Burns - Jack and Jill Party
  • Betty Boo - Doin' The Do
  • Sam Fox - I Only Wanna Be With You (Extended)
  • Sinitta - Toy Boy
  • Girls Aloud - Wake Me Up (Tony Lemezma's Love Affair)
  • Rachel Stevens - Negotiate With Love (Tom Neville Club Edit)
  • Client - Pornography (Radio Edit)
  • Paula Abdul - Opposites Attract
  • Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Get Over You
  • Bodies Without Organs - Conquering America (Johan S Extended Mix)
  • Pet Shop Boys - Flamboyant (Tomcraft Extended Mix)
  • They Might Be Giants - Birdhouse In Your Soul
  • Sonia - You'll Never Stop Me Loving You
  • Marius De Vries - The Avengers Theme
See? Just not as good as last week's. Maybe in retrospect it's not too bad, but I felt somehow off during the whole thing. I'll doubtless get over it.

I must say the Avengers theme went down surprisingly well (considering no-one there is old enough to remember it).

I also seem to have been given a lemon. Randomness continues to pursue me doggedly.

Monday, February 21, 2005

But But But But...

How am I supposed to buy the new Girls Aloud single if the useless crappy tiny Virgin megastore in Liverpool Street has already run out of copies?

Haven't they heard that, unlike the preceding single, this one's good? It was bound to sell out damn you!

Pleasure in Digital Form

And no, I'm not talking about finger-fucking.

I am in fact referring to two tracks I - ahem - obtained this weekend which have been making me giddily ecstatic and craving a mirrorball.

The first is the Parade's "Terrorise the Dancefloor" which one of my Windypops acquaintances sent me with a view that I might like it.

Like it? I love it. It's just the sort of upbeat dancey pop song that I love. Frankly it knocks Alcazar's recent efforts (including their eurovision submission which shows a distinct lack of imagination) into a hatted cock.

The other is a remix of one of my favourite songs ever. The remixers are an unsigned electro act called Audacity who are apparently working on their album at the moment and I will definitely be keeping an eye open for in the future.

The song in question is by the Human League (of course - it's been a while since they got a mention) and the track is "Shameless", possibly the best song they've ever done and easily the highlight of the 2001 album "Secrets". That track is a twiddly, bouncy, yet cold and bleak piece of pop perfection with a nicely euphoric chorus (I say chorus - almost all HL choruses are in fact repetitive chants).

Needless to say it should have been a single - and indeed was due to be had the record company not folded - and many of us fans have been lamenting the fact ever since.

However, the Audacity mix, available here, is genius. It takes the original, pumps it up with a thumping techno backing track, and it's been on repeat all weekend. I love it.

It's also even more remarkable given that The Audacity didn't have master tapes to go on. They had to painstakingly deconstruct the track to get at all the bits.

Absolutely incredible.

All Change

I don't know how it is people survive with "the last minute" as their preferred time for doing things.

Smess, bless his heart, messaged me on Saturday night to check I was still okay with doing tonight's Windypops! and having the late shift - p.s. did I know anyone who might do the early?

During yesterday I broached the subject with Chris - the flatmate - who, whilst muttering things about short notice, finally agreed to fill in the hour between 10:30 (when the only person Smess could find had to finish) and 11:30 (when I was due to start).

A part of my brain at this point went "bulk up your set, you may need it".

Last night, it all went tits up. First guy found he couldn't be there until 9:30 anyway - half an hour after opening time - so Chris is now going first and I seem to somehow be doing 10:30 until 2:00.

It still isn't bulked up enough for this length of time, you know. I can see three or four of my current setlist being swapped with their extended versions to give me getting drinks time (and, naturally enough, emptying myself of said drinks time).

This could be an interesting night.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Just Wondered...

... if that guy who stands at Oxford Circus with a megaphone urging passers-by to join the army of God and give up such sinful offences as homosexuality and so forth knows that his favourite slogan "be a winner not a sinner" very neatly paraphrases a song by Baccara?

I mean, "Sorry I'm a Lady" does feature a very similar line aftar all.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Logolatry

...was yesterday's word on my Forgotten English calendar, meaning:

"Worship of words; unreasonable regard for words or for verbal truth... Hence logomaniac, one who is insanely interested in words."
Hmm. Nice to know my condition has a proper term.

It's better than pedant, anyway.

I particularly like it because my dad for years has been using the term "acute case of logorrhoea" in regards to people who never stop talking, which presumably comes from the same root.

I really must use these terms more often in conversation.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Scumbags and Bigots Inc.

For those elsewhere in the world, who may not be aware of this, there's been a bit of a kerfuffle around about here of late about the comments made by Mayor of London Ken Livingstone as he left a recent party. The furore is, needless to say, led by the baying hounds of his fiercest and long-standing critic, London's Evening Standard newspaper.

Which as an aside, comes out at lunchtime, not evening at all. Never understood that.

Anyway, approached by a reporter from the Evening Standard (London's newspaper) for a comment on the party he turned on the reporter accusing him of being just like a Nazi concentration camp guard. The comparison (at least in Ken's mind) being based on the fact that they too justified atrocious behaviour and bigotry because they were "just doing their job".

Now this would a slightly unfortunate comparison at the best of times but was even more so when the reporter, Oliver Finegold, pointed out that he was Jewish and that he found that more than a little offensive. Livingstone - a man known for his temper when drinking - brushed this off as of little importance the comparison still stood and repeated it.

On tape.

The Standard's glee was palpable to say the least. They have had to back down from calling it a racist comment - since several national broadsheets have pointed out that is technically isn't' - but are still banging on about it days later demanding an apology for his being so offensive.

Several holocaust survivor groups and so on have also sought an apology on the matter, which, before we go any further, I believe he should give.

But there is another side to the affair which I find rather distasteful: the Standard's coverage of it. They have capitalised on this mercilessly and tried their darndest to look whiter than white and outraged moral guardian, which frankly really takes some believing. This is probably because Ken also slagged off the Standard (unsurprisingly given the hounding they so often give him) and its sister paper the... wait for it... Daily Mail, calling its staff "scumbags and bigots".

At first glance this is just the raving of a man who's been got at one too many times - except I can't help but sympathise on this score. In my opinion he's totally right.

The Mail has run an editorial on the matter in which they innocently claim that the two papers have totally different political policies so the comparison is puzzling. The fact that they both peddle rancid right of center middle-Englander bigotry and snobbery seems to have completely escaped them. (To be fair to the Mail, though, the Standard's is worse because it's less obvious, but you don't have to work too hard to realise it's there.)

The Standard in its turn has also played a wonderful injured party act in which they've whinged along the lines of: "how can he say that? We may have critisised him a lot, but we supported his re-election as Mayor" whilst blithely ignoring that beyond Ken there really was no alternative - the other Candidates were complete jokes from start to finish - and one moment of clarity doesn't make up for about 20 years of rabid unpleasantness.

The reporter himself also chipped in the other day with a "why me?" piece that was a perfect picture of playground "but I only said this Miss" whining and blubbery. I almost threw the paper away in disgust at that point - the whole thing was really going too far.

Frankly next time their writers do an opinion piece which offends me as a gay man as much as one of Amanda Platell's (for example) did then I'm going to get a protest group of pooves and demand an apology from them in the same way.

But of course, reporters and opinion(ated) columnists never have to live by the same codes that they expect of others do they? Especially opinion writers - because it's a personal opinion and not supposed to be taken as fact, they can hide behind the (somewhat laughable) notion of "free speech".

Oh dear. My disgust and dismay at the various organs spewed out of the bile filled factories of Associated Press increases apace.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

I Don't Normally Do These Things

But in the interests of showing willing (and because my brain hurt too much to actually do something constructive) I did actually fill out one of those "getting to know your friends" things yesterday.

Actually I'm lying - the main reason I did it was to spite the person who nominated me as "least likely to send it back".

Anyway, for future reference the following answers were given:

1. What time did you get up this morning?
9.40. (Very very hungover due to a late night drinking and DJing)

2. Diamonds or pearls?
Depends. If it's not a pearl necklace then I'll have diamonds please.

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
Yikes - I think it was Van Helsing. (It clearly put me off the whole cinema thing.)

4. What is your favourite TV show?
Changes. I suppose the long-standing obvious one is Doctor Who. But the Avengers is a close second.

5. What did you have for breakfast?
Very strong coffee. And I think I may be on course for another.

6. What is your middle name?
I have two: Michael John. It's a long story (well actually it isn't - I just can't be fagged to tell it).

7. What is your favourite cuisine?
Meaty casseroles.

8. What foods do you dislike?
Rice and Sprouts. Rice because it's so blinking dull, and sprouts because I loathe the taste.

9. What kind of car do you drive?
It would have to be a stolen one (I don't drive).

10. Favourite sandwich?
Ham and Mustard at the moment.

11. What characteristic do you despise?
Self-loathing (and I hate myself for it).

12. Favourite item of clothing?
I suppose my leather jacket. But I can't say I feel that strongly about it.

13. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation where would you go?
At the moment Prague.

14. What colour is your bathroom?
The colour of Wob's bathroom is Gween. (Joke for three people.)

15. Favourite brand of clothing?
Not interested in brands.

16. Where would you retire to?
I doubt I'll be able to afford to. So I plan to drop dead on the job and cause annoyance to my employers.

17. Favourite time of the day?
Afternoon.

18. What was your most memorable birthday?
One in Canterbury. I was blindfolded and led on a weaving path through the streets to a pub after being forcefed vodka-jelly. It was an odd experience but kinda cool.

19. Where were you born?
Coventry. Most people get sent there - I got sent away.

20. Favourite sport to watch?
None - I can't stand watching sport.

21. Who do you least expect to send this back?
Can't decide. It's either Paul, Lee or Darren.

22. Person you expect to send it back first?
Daniel.

23. What fabric detergent do you use?
Persil Non Bio Capsules. (And the colour of those capsules is, of course, gween.)

24. Pepsi or coke?
Coke.

25. Are you a morning person or night owl?
Morning. Which annoys the hell out of me.

26. What is your shoe size?
12. (Or 11.5 in Next.)

27. Do you have any pets?
Do flatmates count? He's reasonably housetrained (but thank God for the litter tray).

29. What did u want to be when u were little?
An actor. And still do.

30. What are you meant to be doing today?
Work. And being hungover. (Only one of these has happened so far.)
I got a few reponses (including one from Daniel who asserted that most fabric cleaning capsules are gween - which I'm fairly certain may be broadly true, but only broadly and I fully intend to research this further) but I'm glad to say that so far I've been totally accurate on who wouldn't send one back.

But (in case you were wondering), Daniel wasn't the first to respond.

See? I can be wrong occasionally.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

I'm in Pain

I think it was the pint glass of champagne that did it.

Mrs Peel would not approve.

Anyway, a good night last night. I was actually complemented on the mix of tracks I'd contrived so I was happy. Plus I got very very drunk and danced my socks off.

There was a nasty moment when Fraggle Rock distorted so much that I needed to switch CDs only to find neither deck wouldn't respond to any button pressing. After a few (ghastly uncomfortable) seconds though, they finally kicked back in and I was able to slam in the first CD I could grab and play the first track.

Sadly it was Geri Halliwell, but hey ho.

I must remember to take a CD lens cleaner with me next week.

Anyway, there's about half an hour of tracks missing, but this is a rough aproximation of what I played. (Sadly I was so drunk I lost the piece of paper with what I actually played on it!)

  • Pet Shop Boys - So Hard (10" Version)
  • Client - Don't Call Me Baby
  • Ashtar Command - Solve My Problems Today
  • Fuzzbox - Pink Sunshine
  • Transvision Vamp - Baby I Don't Care
  • New Order - Krafty
  • Franz Ferdinand - Take Me Out (Daft Punk Mix)
  • The Killers - Somebody Told Me (Josh Harris Radio Edit)
  • Sigue Sigue Sputnik - Success (Extended)
  • Lonnie Gordon - If I Have To Stand Alone (Full Version)
  • Scooch - For Sure
  • Roxette - Joyride
  • Fischespooner - Happy
  • Gwen Stefani - Danger Zone
  • Bodies Without Organs - Conquering America (Johan's Radio Mix)
  • Rachel Stevens - Knock on Wood
  • Pete Burns - Jack and Jill Party
  • Garbage - I Think I'm Paranoid
  • Beatmasters featuring Betty Boo - Hey DJ
  • Ladytron - Paco!
  • Shakespear's Sister - You Made Me Come To This
  • Sinitta - Shame Shame Shame (Extended Club Mix)
  • Bodies Without Organs - Sixteen Tons of Hardware
  • Geri Halliwell - Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps
  • Baccara - Yummy Yummy Yummy
  • Human League - One Man In My Heart (Nasty Sue Mix)
  • Voice of the Beehive - Scary Kisses
  • Client - Pornography (Radio Edit)
  • Pet Shop Boys - I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind of Thing
  • Girls Aloud - The Show (Tony Lemezma Club Mix)
  • Victoria Beckham - Let Your Head Go
  • Kylie Minogue - I Believe In You (Wayne G vs. Club Junkies Mix)
  • Donna Summer - I Don't Wanna Get Hurt (Album Version)
Ye Gods. I don't know how I got away with any of that.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Weekend Details

Well, I don't know about you, but my weekend was pretty busy really.

Friday night Daniel came over and, in between marathons of Acorn Antiques, critiques of other sitcoms and so on, we managed to hack more of the episode guide for Vitriol and Old Lace into shape.

It keeps looking better, it really does - although I still maintain it's an ambitious project all told.

Saturday I spent burning CDs, cataloguing tracks and fine-tuning the setlist for tonight's set at Windypops! Ben then came over in the evening for pizza, wine and a viewing of the Doctor Who story "Mawdryn Undead" which was vaguely amusing - lots of 35 year old actors pretending to be public schoolboys and so on, plus Peter Davison's Doctor showing the most flowing hair ever.

Sunday I pottered about for a bit, before finally starting a design for some Vitriol and Old Lace business cards (all part of our publicity campaign) and then incorporating the notes we made last week into the script for the first episode. I then realised that most of my day had vanished by this point and determined to waste what remained of it on watching "Ripping Yarns".

I think, however, that my job is depressing me somewhat. I've noticed a tendency of late to sleep very badly on Sunday nights, and what sleep I did get was punctuated with vivid adaptations of the Amityville Horror into scenes of my own life.

This was, to say the least, a disturbing development.

The Mouths of Babes

During my weekly familial phone-call yesterday I was informed by my step-mother (with much relish) that my half-brother Daniel - oft known as "the devious little ratbag" - is of the opinion that I don't drink alcohol.

I mean, bless him. He's clearly completely blanked all those times Dad and I have enjoyed a fine wine over dinner, had a quick sherry beforehand, and a port afterwards.

What did gall me, however, was that whilst being informed of this incredible self-deception on Daniel's part I could hear my father in the background having a fit of giggles about the whole idea.

Cheers Dad.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Beard-be-gone

Okay, it went.

Finally got fed up with the facial hair last night and attacked it with various trimmers, razors and lubricants.

By golly, it really didn't want to go.

Now I have a slight strip-goatee thing on my chin. Far more subtle, and at least more consistent in terms of colouring.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Negotiate With Love

Record companies these days seem to have more leaks than the Titanic.

I've now heard one of the mixes of Rachel Stevens' next ditty "Negotiate With Love" which whilst not one of the most melodically or vocally interesting of songs(let's face it, Rachel's an accurate performer, but her vocals are never more than servicable) still may actually have a touch of greatness about it.

I still haven't forgiven her for "More More More", however, but she has at least saved a certain amount of face by doing a reasonably good job of "Knock On Wood" for the Discomania album. (Although, again, it's more the arrangement which makes it rather than her vaguely insipid performance.)

Still, I shall be watching her next few releases with interest.

A few more inspired choices and I may even grudgingly admit to liking her.

These Days Everybody's a DJ

And I'm no exception, since Smess has asked me to do a set at the next two Windypops nights this month.

One is on Monday, getting the early stint so I can then get pissed with him to celebrate his birthday and drown my sorrows over valentines.

The other one is on the 21st and is far more of a responsibility: I'm doing the late shift. People are normally there for that one, and it's the one Smess normally does so I'm bricking it a bit. It'll probably be fine, but I'm still working on set lists at every given opportunity to make sure.

The big question now, though, since I am doing this with a certain degree of regularity and increasing ability, is what should my DJ name be?

Atomic Slattern would make sense since it would tie in with one of my email addresses, but on most of the internet I'm known as Lemonfresh. DJ Lemonfresh could work of course, whereas the other idea doesn't really stand having "DJ" prefixed to it. (One other option was DJ Jezebel, which amuses me but may have too many Js in it.)

Of course, any other ideas would be much appreciated. Please feel free to offer opinions here...

Make or Break

I have a feeling that the facial hair may have to suffer an alarming incident with a razor.

Frankly after four weeks I would have hoped for something a little more even than what's currently sprouted. It does appear spectacularly patchy and is still (whilst not actually ginger any more) has failed to achieve any consistency in colouring, retaining as it does blonde, dark brown and a few copper hairs.

Maybe I'll keep a strip, but I opined to my flatmate last night that it may all go any day now.

"Is that because it looks like you've eaten a badger?" he asked?

My reply, I regret to say, is unprintable.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Black Dog Days

Gosh. Monday's post was a tad bleak wasn't it?

I do apologise. I suddenly hit one of those "can't take any more" moments where you find all your verve and zest knocked out of you and, as is always the way with these things, it was the slightest tiniest thing that did it.

See, I'm one of those people can, galleon-like, sail on in a stately fashion come hell or high water before realising that my stern resolve and emotionless facade sprang a leak days previously. I then (in true Warner Bros. style) stop, stare at camera, blink twice and suddenly sink without trace.

The usual result of this is pure fury. More often than not, directed at myself (I'm the king of internalisation so any situation which goes wrong can be made to be about me fucking up in some way).

Mind you, that said, the sudden snap does unnerve those around me who are used to doormat Rob. It's almost worth it for the shock value alone.

But maybe not so good for the skin and liver.

Bizarrerer and Bizarrerer

Henry Mancini's Pink Panther Theme.

Remixed by Fischerspooner.

Strange, but true. And oddly good.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Fetch the Spiritual Brasso!

I've been vaguely amused these past few months by the Daily (Hate) Mail's current advertising campaign.

Unabashed by the fact that this overpriced chip-wrapper is a tatty little wank-rag for reactionary petty narrow minded little-Englanders (and tedious hacks like Max Hastings), they've decided to proudly advertise the Mail's only redeeming feature: that the ink doesn't come off on your hands.

Nor, presumably, your sweet bum-plums when you try to smear your shit over its own.

Fair enough, I suppose; you've gotta play to your strengths after all. I'm surprised, though, that no-one's pointed out the slight problem that even if being prepared to handle any of the skewed garbage they print as journalism doesn't stain your sweaty little paws, its presence in your house irredeemably tarnishes your soul.

There clearly should be a health warning.

Even my Aunt, who politically is slightly to the right of Atilla the Hun has decreed it to be a little too right-wing for her taste. That's gotta say something.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Ah... fuck it

From the lovely people at Despair Inc:

"It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others."

Bugger.

I suppose it is at least a purpose, however. Maybe I should embrace this rather than draining my flatmate's single malt.

But he's on a detox, so sod it.

S.H.O.P.P.I.N.G.

A somewhat lacklustre shopping session this lunchtime, much to my annoyance.

The Acorn Antiques DVD appears to be unavailable anywhere despite its release date being today. As a gay of the highest standing (6'5" to be precise) I feel outraged by this dismal failure to pander to my needs.

This was then further compounded by the complete inability of Boots to stock up on the razor blades I need for my Philishave. It requires three (at vast expense I notice) and last week they only had two, which I nabbed. The HQ6 is still unavailable over a week later, which after my DVD-less trip to Virgin only made me fume all the more - especially since I actually saw somebody stocktaking it only today.

I dunno. All the technology at Boots' disposal and they still rely on some skivvy remembering to go and check the racks to see if an order needs to be made.

Still, it wasn't entirely fruitless: I've just had some dried orange-flavoured cranberries and they really were a revelation.

Sunday Night at the Movies

Quite a lazy day yesterday - mainly because both the flatmate and I had suffered muchly on Saturday and were barely capable of thinking, let alone moving.

However, we did sit down and watch Goodbye Lenin! which I had been lent on DVD following the Berlin trip. Whilst I was momentarily irked to find it was in German with English subtitles (I never normally get on with subtitled films) this has leapfrogged straight up into being one of my favourite films ever.

If you haven't heard, it's basically about 1989-90 in East Germany. Alex Kerner goes on a protest march and is seen by his staunchly socialist mother being clubbed by the police. She instantly has a heart attack from the shock and goes into a coma for eight months (see, it's a barrel of laughs already), during which time the wall falls, Germany ceases to be divided and socialism crumbles under the march of capitalism. When she wakes up, Alex and his sister are told she'll have another heart attack if she gets any more shocks - at which point he realises she can't ever know about the fall of the DDR, so goes to ever increasing lengths to make her think socialism is triumphing over the corrupt ideology of the West.

All I will say is: watch it. It's lovely, touching, funny and chock-a-block full of "oh my God no!" moments. And yes, the guy playing Alex is kind of cute, but that really was a subordinate pleasure.

It's truly one of the best films I've ever seen in my life.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

London Drinking Drawbacks

Daniel and I spent a very pleasant afternoon in town yesterday, commencing with lunch at Pizza express where our extremely healthy choice of Grand Chicken Caesar Salads were completely undermined when we found Banoffee Pies were on the desert menu.

Daniel, in one of those random moments of mischievousness he gets, then proceeded to booby-trap the sugar bowl by ripping the ends off a couple of those long paper sugar portions and inserting them open-end down back into the container. (Evil, I tell you. Naturally I was appalled - when not sniggering.)

So then we headed off to fulfill the stated aim of the afternoon: a revisit of the script for Episode One of Vitriol and Old Lace, and then working on the outline for Episode 5 a bit more. For this we merely required two things: a bottle of wine, and sofas.

It took half an hour to find a bar that was open, and not totally packed, where we could sit in a suitably continental way and achieve this. It's a major failing we decided that so many bars wait until late afternoon / evening to bother opening in the end we settled on The Edge which fulfilled all our requirements until, actually having got a fair number of customers in they decided to turn the lights down so no-one could see each other.

(Why so many places do this I have no idea. Surely a great many unfortunate morning-afters could be avoided if the patrons could see each other.)

Still, the script stands up well. Added a few bits to link in with later episodes, rationalised a few bits and tightened it up, whilst clarifying a few of the lines a bit more. Then we managed to get episode 5 knocked into a state where it flows better in itself. By a lucky stroke this actually meant that my preferred ending got re-instated as the climax of the episode. (The "to be continued" now happens just after a captured mercenary has an intricate arrangement of gorse and heather pulled out of his bottom. Now, not many series can boast that as an episode end, can they?)

I think at this point I should probably have stopped drinking.

Naturally I didn't.

Ouch.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Daft Old Codgers

I've been pleasantly surprised by UK Gold of late. Their programme schedules are starting to make more sense now: 'Allo 'Allo is shown in something approximating the right order, plus they've relied less on the "Saturday Stack" approach where you get hours of the same programme (episodes shown in random order, natch) so it seems a little more vital than it used to be.

Sadly they're still showing "Dad's Army" and "Are You Being Served" - two series which I can't bring myself to watch any more (rather like the Simpsons which I'm now convinced I've caught every episode of at least a dozen times).

What has shocked me though is their tranmission of Waiting For God. I remember finding it amusing when I was too young to know better, but now I come to it and find that actually it is rather funny. There's some very bleak, dark and viscious streaks in it which rather appeal, and it has got a very sharp script - even with a supporting cast of cardboard cutouts.

Probably one of the best things on UK Gold at the mo.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Parallel Universe Rob

Okay, time to come clean: I have developed facial hair.

Last week I barely shaved. Partially this was because I just couldn't be fagged, but also after the ravages of Liverpool's own bizarre weather system I thought my skin could probably benefit from not having shards of sharp metal dragged all over it.

Now... One of the many odd little routines I have is that I don't wet-shave the area around my mouth. If I do then it tends to get very sore and red and get nasty little ingrowing hairs so I wetshave everything else and then Philishave the mouth area.

Only on Friday Morning I decided not to, leaving a goatee-esque expanse of uber-stubble for all to see.

It didn't look totally awful, mind, until Saturday when it went ginger.

It's darkened up again since I'm glad to say, and is more or less developing in a way I like. I've never actually taken one this far before, usually getting fed up with the itching (and the ginger) and ditching it after a few days, but I'm kind of intrigued to see how it pans out now it's more established.

Amusingly on my return to work yesterday several people were at pains not to mention it except the lovely Heno (who coincidentally is a friend of Conrad Westmaas who plays something or other in the Big Finish Doctor Who productions, small world). She did a double take and went "Oh my God! Facial hair" before recovering her composure slightly and saying "actually it suits you" in that tone of voice which implies "and I'm really surprised since nothing ever suits you."

The only other person to mention it was Tim who didn't notice all morning, finally twigged in the afternoon, and I swear almost believed me when I claimed I'd just popped out and had it done at lunchtime.

I think it's going to take a couple more weeks to settle in, but I'm definitely going to see how it goes.

And if it turns out I really hate it then I'll ditch it and go for an eyebrow piercing instead. (Which I suspect will really piss work off, but I want to try it before I hit thirty and I'm really too old for it.)

It's Detox Darling!

I'm taking advantage of a relatively quite week in my social calandar to detox.

Since returning on Monday not a drop of alcohol has passed my lips, and my fruit and veg intake has been extremely high, replacing crisps and bread and so on. Water and herbal teas have complimented my run on fruit smoothies and I'm avoiding stimulants (and cliches) like the plague.

What benefits have I noticed? Um... I suppose a little increased energy. I'm also thinking I look a little less haggard which is a slight plus.

It's obviously also healthier, but since I can't say I ever felt particularly unhealthy then it's hard to count that as an obvious change.

The downsides however are simple: without alcohol my tolerance for television is seriously decreased; the veil is lifted and I can see how utterly shite it all is.

The other downside is that my brain keeps working. This could be regarded as a good thing under normal circumstances, but frankly it's not at night when you're trying to get some sleep. And even when I am asleep my brain keeps coming up with all sorts of odd dreams which wake me up in a kind of "what the fuck" state of mind that really is most disturbing.

Still, I'll stick with it. It's probably just my body adjusting to the new regime.

Or something.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Yumminess in Liquid Form

I just made my first fruit smoothie. So I'm feeling rather proud (of myself).

I've really got into them recently. I've kind of got it into my head that I should up my fruit and veg intake due improve my health and (hopefully) my skin, so I've been having one a day for about a week from Boots.

But I decided this was untenable financially, so bought loads of random stuff from the shop, whacked it blender and pulverised the fuck out of it, topping it up with some freshly squeezed orange and lemon juice.

Quite sharp, I must admit (must add honey next time) but not bad for a first attempt. I could get quite into this.

Das War Seltsam

Well, I'm back... did you miss me?

Berlin was cool. Very cool in fact - positively freezing. The whole place was covered in a thick blanket of snow which only made it seem starker and more imposing.

We were kind of abandoned having arrived in Berlin. Mark and John who'd suggested the whole trip anyway were staying with a friend and got off the U-Bahn early leaving us to fend for ourselves and some vague instructions on how to get to the hotel from our final stop.

They kind of implied that if you turn right out of the station then it was a short walk up the hill. Our first unexpected decision was to decide which of the fifteen exits to take... and then which of the streets (empty at midnight) was the main one. Still we got there. More by luck than by judgement, admittedly, but we got there.

So anyway... shorthand of events:

  • Abusing the breakfast facilities something chronic on a daily basis (I still can't believe we still consider calling a croissant and a cup of coffee a "Continental Breakfast - if you've ever had breakfast on the continent you'll know why).

  • Seeing the Brandenburg Gate and Bundestag in the snow.

  • The German Film Museum - naturally there was a big Metropolis exhibit.

  • Continuing the tradition of buying a small piece of tat in the H&M in every European city I go to.

  • Getting wankered and John and Mark's mate's flat before going out.

  • Clubbing at Schwuz and abandoning the others in the serious dance room in favour of the handbag area which was fab.

  • Discovering that the proportions used in "Ein Whisky und Coke" are approximately fifty/fifty and failing to carry this information through to the logical "better not have too many of those then" conclusion.

  • Currywurst. Lovely.

  • The Judisches Museum - or Jewish Museum for those English out there. Daniel Libskind's building is a bit wierder than I'd hoped for, and the permanent exhibition on Jewish History bored me somewhat (not an area I'm interested in) but the downstairs Axes of Continuity, Exile and Holocaust were powerful - and the holocaust tower was suitably chilling.

  • Art you can walk on. The Jewish Museum had an exhibit called "Fallen Leaves" which you were encouraged to step all over. The leaves themselves were all metal, and when you looked at them you could see that they were all actually screaming faces. Quite disturbing but very cool. And noisy.

  • Checkpoint Charlie. Next to it was an (illegal) memorial of crucifixes with the name of those killed trying to escape the east. Particularly chilling were the descriptions of how they died. Phrases such as "Bought Back to the East" and "Liquidated in the West following escape" were bad enough, but it's terrifying to think that they were still killing people for trying to get over the wall in 1989 - in November of which year the wall finally came down.

  • Having, and this is the big one for me, not one but two snowball fights. One on Saturday night on the way to the club, and one on Sunday in the grounds of the Sancoussi in Potsdam. The latter was the best: it went on for about an hour, and there was something deliciously irreverent about having it in the grounds of a palace in which the Prussian Kings had ruled. Helen, naturally, nearly took out a window.

  • Finding the only restaurant in which the staff's second language wasn't English but Italian - thankfully one of our party spoke it for which the waiter decided to give us all complimentary Amaretto.

  • Being cruised on the way back to the hotel from the restaurant.

  • Helen's comment on the window of the Gucci shop: "God, a thousand euros for a photo frame?" We had to point out that the photo frame was merely containing the list of prices for the one item in the window - a gaudy and unpleasant bag.
If I think of any more I'll let you know!

I'm thinking I may actually settle down and learn German again. I remembered bits from GCSE but not enough, and I think I need another language.

Nice to be back, though. It's warmer for one thing.