Friday, June 30, 2006

Ooo-weee another Record Bag night at Ye Olde Retro. After trying valiantly to get together a snappily-titled "5 FROM THE 50s" which sadly didn't fly this time out (but will continue to be worked on) I cobbled together a set list using the tried and tested formula of them being songs I wanted to hear played loud!

Madonna "I Love New York" (film remix)
Pet Shop Boys "West End Girls"
TLC "Creep"
Alexander O'Neal "Hearsay"
Gnarls Barkley "The Last Time"

I love the M remix, PSB and TLC sounded good back to back on iPey one day and Alexander O'Neal and Gnarls B were tracks I've wanted to play for a while. As usual I enjoyed myself bigly but we must start nabbing tables towards the dj booth - it would be nice to see my compadres when I am spinnin' em up. Owen made it there, the first time out properly since his back problems and after today's jour de enfer he deserved a cheer-up.

As usual I was visited by a resident fixture of the night *just* as I was relaxing into the set and proceeded to mumble away about sod all for what seemed like ages. He even accused me of wearing a knocked-off Keith Haring t-shirt. Happily he was suitably chasened when I showed him the Pop Shop label. Clown.

Rob asked me when I was playing TLC did I like 'lady groups' from the period 'cos when cleaning out the Retro kitchen he had found loads of cds and I could have any I wanted. "Sure" says I, so when I finished the set he came over and dumped them all on the table. After about a minute the penny dropped... they were all mine! I had left them there after the Sunday Retro Car Boot Sales almost three years ago. I roared.... amazingly most of them I would have sworn blind I had sold on eBay! I happily dumped them back with Rob who left them on a table for punters to take what they wanted. It's that Giver thing again you dig?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Um.. I just HATE drawing attention to myself but I thought you might like to know I've added a page to my website about the trip to Mexico which has some PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED pictures. Oh and Dawn... there's a new Tiger cat one!

I have also started a page of dvd reviews... dunno how long I'll keep that up for but as I've said before... it's lucky for you I'm a giver.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Eeeek - my tickets for the first of Madonna's London dates arrived today!
Last Saturday I received the dvd/cd combo of I'M GONNA TELL YOU A SECRET so have been on a Madonna tip all week.

Official: I am getting excited.

38 days to go......

Friday, June 23, 2006

Last night I re-aquainted myself with James Marsh's disturbing docu-drama WISCONSIN DEATH TRIP on dvd. Originally shown under the Arena banner on BBC2 the film was later given an art-house release in the US (which was news to me).

It's based on a 1973 book by Michael Lesy who had discovered a large archive of images by Charles van Shaik, the town photographer in Black River Falls, Wisconsin. The photographs dated from 1890-1900 and Lesy linked the pictures of the town's inhabitants with extracts from the local newspaper about odd incidents that occured there during the late 19th Century. It took Marsh 5 years to make his
film owing to the difficulty in getting funding due to the bizarre subject matter. It's bizarre alright... a David Lynch film made reality.

Black River Falls had been in existance for 30-odd years when the film starts, it's population primarily drawn from Norwegian, Swedish and German immigrants seeking a better life in the US. The depression that gripped the midwest in 1893 did the town no favours. Widespread unemployment, the town bank's closure, as well as a particularly savage winter, saw suicides among the farming community and an increase in admissions to the local insane asylum at Mendota. The film breaks down into seasonal segments chronicling further strange news stories: a diptheria epidemic kills a large percentage of children, unexplained suicides, ghost-sightings, paranoia, arson, murders... There are also two women who reappear several times:
opera singer Pauline L'Allemand who appeared in the original production of LAKME somehow wound up in Black River Falls thinking it would be a cultural mecca but ended up in a small rundown shack eating animal feed and Mary Sweeney, a one-time school-mistress who after an accident which involved a thump to the head became addicted to cocaine and travelled around the state smashing in windows. The police would arrest her, release her and she moved on to another town to continue her window smashing. Needless to say both opera singer and possible proto-feminist anarchist ended up in the insane asylum.

These news items - written by the English-born editor of the local newspaper - are
dryly read by Ian Holm's amused and conspiratorial off-screen narrator over the wonderfully crisp b/w cinematography of Eigil Bryld who deservedly won a BAFTA award. Taking his lead from van Shaik's 1890's photographs his cinematography conjures up monotone still lifes of... well... real people's monotone still lives. Using local actors and townspeople as his cast director Marsh and Bryld come up with haunting images that stay with you: a brother is reflected in a pool of his sister's blood after he has shot her, the slow camera pan which looks up into the branches of trees to reveal the bare feet of a suicide, a 14 year old bride is posed next to her husband aged 64, and a mother sits serenly staring out at the lake where she has just drowned her three children, one of whose body lies a few yards away.

A genuinely creepy
American Gothic original which I found hard to shake off - especially as I finished watching it in the dark small hours. My only complaint is the usual problem with documentary makers cutting cloth to suit length - the original timeline of 10 years used by Lesy in his book is reduced dramatically to all the events seemingly happening in the space of one year which strains the credibility somewhat, you end up thinking 'why did people stay in this possessed town?'. However the hypnotic imagery and disturbing content keep you gripped throughout and makes you appreciate the irony in starting and ending the film with the newspaper editor's words "It is safe to assume that nowhere in the length and breadth of this great continent of ours can be found a more desirable residence than Black River Falls”.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

That's Beverley Knight MBE actually.

Congratulations Bev!!

Friday, June 16, 2006

It's been nearly a month since I posted about Big Brother 7, let's see how they have shaped up from my initial thoughts...

Pete {indecipherable chinny twat, turn the gas on now!} became the front-runner among the housemates alarmingly quickly. I find his willingness to be used as the cuddly toy for the women profoundly annoying tho'.

Lea {the love-child of Jodie Marsh & Pete Burns or Jayne Mansfield after the car crash} is fast becoming paranoid about former mate Richard for no apparant reason other than he pulled her up on something. Her unnatural mothering of Pete is frightening and her constant mantra of "I don't back-stab" is becoming to look as threadbare as her bikini top.

Imogen {a Welsh bar hostess. Just dwell on that. This year's Saskia?} Well I got that right... her pairing up with the obnoxious Sezer echoed the Saskia/Maxwell assumption that they would naturally win. Will probably survive until the last week. Sadly.

Mikey {vile sexist clown, vile hair. Will be found dead in the pool} Regretfully that has yet come to pass. Has done nothing so far but slurp the vile Grace and be unintelligable and by staying so anonymous, like Imogen, will probably be in the last week. Sadly.

Glyn {indecipherable Welsh lifeguard, Byker Grove meets Baywatch} Still indecipherable but has provided a few amazed laughs - like his admission to learning "life skills" such as making toast.

Richard {Canadian mary. A sexual terrorist - or waiter} Not the outrageous character I think he was expected to be. Indeed his striving for fairness and balance in the household has seen him become a figure of hatred by most!

Lisa {Oriental Su Pollard - says she's 27, looks 73} Has done nothing to endear herself by her unrelenting bitching about others - even her swearing is boring. Now she appears to be coming adrift from Pete it can't be long before she's 86'd. Hopefully.

Nikki {Chantelle played by Sophie Thompson, couldn't stop a pig in a passage} A genuine BB original. Reminds me of the Arabella Weir FAST SHOW character who becomes a simpering ickle gurl whenever a big man walks in the woom and demands cuddles fwom vem. Then two seconds later becomes a spitting screaming garden gnome Vanessa Feltz-lookalike. As watchable as her schizo ravings are I could happily see her smothered.

Aisleyne My heart sank when she appeared as a new housemate - another vapid blonde Chantelle-a-like. However the nastiness shown to her by Sezer, Imogen, Grace and Lisa made her quite sympathetic and I must admit to kinda liking her. How she will act now she can get her claws into the vile Mikey as Grace is no more might change this however.

Susie Has not really made much impact on me since her winning a place in the house - a typically delightful double-edged sword as BB has done everything it can to make the housemates hate her. The immediate sniping at her by Grace, Imogen and Lisa has of course made me view her in a favourable light.

Bonnie {"indecipherable fat cow, TK Maxx cover girl"} deserved to be voted out as she was this year's "Watch me stir it up in there" self-promoter only to sit there not saying anything and fiddling with her hair.

Sezer {Entrepreneur ladies man, will probably be turned by Richard} Ah Sezer... a wet rat dunked in a bucket of pubes whose morphing into this year's Maxwell figure was quite jaw-dropping. His pure cockiness and sureness of being loved by the women viewers made his being voted out on a massive 93% of the vote one of the most joyous tv experiences of the year.

Sam Every year the housemates whine about wanting new housemates after a few weeks. Then they get them and do all they can to drive them out. Never fails. Sam was simply too nice and - like Richard - trying to be nice to everyone in this particularly vicious house only lead to accusations of falseness. Sam's genuine distress after being unfairly accused of backbiting was particularly uncomfortable to watch.

Grace {Faux Sloane, will probably get pregnant by Mikey} Well I damn near got that right. Even by Big Brother standards she quickly revealed herself to be a deeply nasty and manipulative cow. Showed her true character when she threw a glass of water over Susie as she left the house. Was described brilliantly on the Popbitch board as "An old head on young shoulders. Literally". Voted out by a massive 87.9% of the vote.

Dawn {possible serial-killer, "Monster" played by Whoopi - I think we have found a heroine} NOT! another one who promised more than she delivered. Anonymous in the house - much more entertaining after she left, threatening to go on hunger strike if Endemol didn't turn over all her footage!

The walkers:
Shabaz {Kemal de jour, came out of the car like an asian Liza Minnelli drag act} an Asian thermo-nuclear meltdown more like. Must have been profoundly difficult to live with but his hounding by the housemates was chilling to watch and did none of them any favours - particularly Richard.

George {"Public school ugbo, hates hyper-gay men"} quit the house as he felt he could not handle the fame when he left. Yeah. Right. Surely not because he couldn't face being nominated?
"The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there"

...according to L.P. Hartley's "The Go-Between". Well L.B. I bought me a ticket there this afternoon! I was poking about in HMV this afternoon and I was gobsmacked to see a cd reissue of Labi Siffre's THE SINGER AND THE SONG.

This was released in 1971 and I got it for my birthday that year as I had recently seen him support The Supremes at Hammersmith Odeon - as it was and always will be!

I played it when I got back to the shop and found myself singing along! I swear I haven't heard it for 30-odd years. Lovely gentle ballads and more uptempo songs like "Thank Your Lucky Star" drifted down through the years.

There are certain albums you never expect to see on cd... this is one of them.

It looks like all his albums have been remastered and released on cd so hopefully it will make this fine gay performer some money. He gave up performing his music in 1999 and now channels his talent into his poetry. Here's his poetry blog - I like the one called "stupid boy".

Channel 4 showed the new video from Madonna for the upcoming release of GET TOGETHER as a single.

*pulls face * I don't like the video. Footage of Herself performing the song at Koko in London last year have been cartoonised and superimposed over some futuristic cityscape with lava-lamp effects.

It looks cheap 'n' tacky.

It's my favourite track off the album too.

I must have a word in August....

Sunday, June 11, 2006

At last Constant Reader... I am back from internet wilderness! On Monday my landline went bang and it took a feckin' week for them to work out the fault was at the exchange.

Now it will come as no surprise that I have been known to go online during work hours. Indeed I can state it's my means of production... if the internet's not on then I can't work. Simple as that. But the fact of being unable to access my broadband connection at home was HORRID.

I have truly become an internet junkie. Don't need a fix 24-7 but I need to know I can access it whenever I damn well want to.

Two fun nights out are to be chronicled... for the first time since God was a child I did the Retro Bar pop quiz with Dawn and Tall Paul - the team being filled out by the ever-smiling charmer Kevin. The subject was Dead Or Alive? in keeping with the date being 06/06/06. 20 Questions and we had to guess whether the singer was dead or alive. We scored 19 outta 20 - it would have been 19.5 had Dawn listened to me when I said Jimmy Ruffin was in the rudest health and not brown bread like his brother David. Oh and it would have been 20 if Kevin really DID know what Joe Cocker's voice sounded like as he kept saying. We also had to put up with the spoiler tactics of one Kim Phaggs go-go dancing for every song and Justin Bond who even went to the extremes of slithering through the open window from the street outside. Don't try this at home kids.

Needless to say we lost as two teams got 20 out of 20 namely Gerald and Stephen's team and DJ whats-his-eek who does the Who's In Your Record Bag? night at the Retro. I voluntered to be adjudicator for the face-off and indeed judged DJ w-h-e to be the winner.

On Friday O and I made it to the Albery Theatre-as-was, the Noel Coward theatre as is - be a cold day in Hell before I call it that - to see one of my favourite shows from last year AVENUE Q I think we were both concerned about the show - it seemed such an American show when we saw it on Broadway that I wondered how it would survive it's trip across the Atlantic but it was greeted with cheers, laughs and a standing ovation. Now I will say that a lot of people seemed to know the score so maybe it was playing to a large selection of people familiar with the cast recording but I'm sure heaps didn't so I am hopeful for a successful run. It was great to see it again - laughs a plenty - and it was great to see Ann Harada recreating her role as Christmas Eve, the Japanese therapist. Among the London cast the standouts had to be Julie Atherton playing 'Kate Monster'/'Lucy The Slut' and Jon Robyns as 'Princeton'/'Rod'. Giles Terera plays 'Gary Coleman' but wasn't as good as the woman we saw do it on Broadway!

However Constant Reader - run to see this show!!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Last night O and I headed off to the wilds of Hammersbush to see a double-bill of ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER (TODO SOBRE MI MADRE) and TRANSAMERICA at the Riverside Studios. I should start going more often - two films for £6.50. I would have to learn to put up with the dispiriting train journey, leaving work early, the low screen and alarming carpet!!!

Let's get one thing straight here... it's a tough call for any film to have my full and undivided after having to follow ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER, one of my favourite films... (pause for Kim Phaggs effect) of all time. I respond to this film like few others, losing myself in its vivid colours and textures, laughing with the characters and crying with them too. So many scenes leave me with tears rolling due to the extraordinary performances and emotional truth of Almodovar's storytelling. I still remember the experience of watching it on a plane - an emotional wreck with an aisle-seat. Like any great work I always find something new - a reference, a hidden connection that makes the film fresh. I really wanted O to see this but it had to be on the big screen - the film has to overwhelm you phystically to get the full effect. Once again I was struck by the thought: does anyone photograph the colour red like Almodovar? Towards the end of the film Marisa Paredes is seen on stage rehearsing the mother's speech from Lorca's "Blood Wedding" describing her son's blood seeping into the earth: likewise this film seeps into my soul.

It was a bit of a struggle to adjust to TRANSAMERICA after that.
No fault of Duncan Tucker's film it just felt like finishing off an excellent meal with an ice-lolly. The central performance of Felicity Huffman as pre-op transexual Bree could not be faulted. In her 3 quarter-length outfits in tasteful pink coral and carefully modulated voice she is all set for her gender-realignment in a week's time when she receives a call from the 17 year old son she never knew he had! After bailing her son out of jail and posing as a Christian church out-worker assigned to his case, Bree sets off to drive her son back to his step-father's home and then to get back to L.A. Bree really should get out more and see more road movies. With predictability running alongside charm and warmth, Bree realises there might have been a reason why Toby ran away in the first place and that when you absolutely need to get to the coast America is a mighty wide continent.

Huffman and Kevin Zegers made for an intriguing and excellently acted partnership - always abrasive but with growing curiosity for the other and it's grudging and wary resolution was welcome. But I second guessed the film all the way down the line and it also reminded me of the 1999 Janet McTeer film TUMBLEWEEDS, a small-budget low-key road movie of an American mother and daughter. Interesting enough both McTeer and Huffman won Best Actresses Golden Globe awards for these performances only to lose out on the later Academy Awards.