Diary of an old cheeser

Hi there! Like other blogs, this is my chance to wax lyrical (some might say talk utter cr*p) about a) what's happening in my life b) all of my pet obsessions in particular music, tv, movies, books and other generally connected things, quite often of the retro, old and "cheesy" variety. Hence the title of my blog. Feel free to leave a comment if the mood takes you. There's nothing like a good chinwag about one's favourite topics and besides I love to meet new people! Cheers, Simon

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Quote of the week

I've decided not to resurrect "Joke of the week". It was becoming a bit hard to constantly come up with side-splitting gags every single week and my repertoire was running short. So time to launch a new regular post, and one which I feel has considerably more mileage - "Quote of the week"! Or maybe even "quotes of the week"!

Yep, every week I'm gonna publish a choice quote/quotes...and I'd like all of YOU to contribute as well. So if you know of any juicy, quotes or one-liners then email them to me. I guess the boundary between quote and gags can get kinda blurred, as I often favour comments or remarks with a humorous, witty or bitchy edge...such as those below. Yes, I'm starting off with some quotes from one of the cattiest and most botox-infused of divas, Joan Rivers...quite a few truths in these I feel. Enjoy!!

"Before we make love, my husband takes a painkiller".

"Diets, like clothes, should be tailored to you."

"Elizabeth Taylor has more chins that the Chinese phone directory".

"I knew I was an unwanted baby when I saw that my bath toys were a toaster and a radio".

"My obstetrician was so dumb that when I gave birth he forgot to cut the cord. For a year that kid followed me everywhere. It was like having a dog on a leash".

"My body is failing so fast, my gynaecologist wears a hard hat".

"The first time I see a jogger smiling, I'll consider it".

"I'm Jewish. I don't work out. If God had wanted us to bend over, he would have put diamonds on the floor".

"Paris Hilton? She's doing a new reality show - I'm a Celebrity, Get Him Out Of Me..."

"I wish I had a twin, so I could know what I look like without plastic surgery".

"I have no boobs whatsoever. On my wedding night my husband said: "Let me help you with those buttons" and I said "I'm completely naked".

"Boy George is all England needs - another queen who can't dress".

"I hate housework. You make the beds, you do the dishes and six months later you have to start all over again".

Video of the Fortnight - Kate Bush - Army Dreamers

Here's another choice vid, boys and girls. And high time that La Bush got a look in.

I wasn't a Kate Bush fan to start with. In her heyday she was regarded as a bit of a weirdo and had the p*ss frequently ripped out of her for a number of reasons. Her "individual" lyrics/songs. Her mad, theatrical dancing style. Her hilariously am-dram videos (well the early ones at any rate). Not to mention her overwhelming middle class feyness, which often manifested itself through her singing: "Heathcliff!!! It's meeee, I'm Kaaaaathy!" "Oh yeeeeah you're aaaamazing!" "Wowwwww!!" Etc, etc.

However paradoxically it's many of these things that actually make Kate Bush so endearing and I won't deny that she grew on me. The power of Kate is that she was SO DIFFERENT to many of her musical peers of the time. She dared to write about topics different to your run of the mill love song. She also composed and produced much of her own material. So she had a head start over many of the more manufactured pop stars. The moment when she really (or should that be weally?) grabbed (gwabbed?) my attention was the release of the 1985 album, "Hounds of Love". An absolute masterpiece and proof of Kate's genius, fusing memorable songs with some highly unusual lyrics. One side of the album "The Ninth Wave" is a concept piece based around the story of a drowning girl and is captivating. The singles "Running Up That Hill" and "Cloudbusting" are two of my all-time faves too.

Anyway I'm running away a bit here...Here is a video from earlier on in Kate's career (1980) , but one in which she's starting to be more experimental and move away from the studio-based, 20p budget ones in which all she does is dance (even though admittedly she does it well). The subject of the song is about a young soldier who goes to war and is killed. I love Kate's army fatigue look - very butch (she still wears eye liner though) and the choreographed movements with the guns. The synchronised blinking with the cocking-of-the-gun noise. And the bit when Corporal Kate sees first the young boy, then the soldier by the tree and runs to him, only for him to vanish. Freaaaaky, man.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Je ne regrette riiiiieeeenn!!

I seem to be film-fixated at the moment, don't I?? Wellll, Blockbuster have a good deal where you can get 3 DVDS for £7 for the whole week, and I couldn't resist, hence my recent viewings of Devil Wears Prada and Transamerica. There's nowt nicer than curling up on the sofa with some choccie, your loved one and a good movie.

However last night I actually went to the cinema!! A rarity these days. This time it was to see "La Vie En Rose", the recently released biopic of French singer/chanteuse Edith Piaf. I'm not really a fan of her music/voice - she has a kind of screechy, caterwauling vocal that sounds like a cat being strangled - sorry, Edith fans. Although I will concede that songs like "La Vie En Rose" and "Je Ne Regrette Rien" have a definite iconic status as well as resonances for gay people. And it can't be denied that Ms Piaf is a legend in her own right with a diva-ish reputation, so for all these reasons I decided to see the movie.

Actually I found the film pretty gruelling to watch. It was very well acted and faithful to the period - early 1900s France through to the early 1960s which covers the (all too brief) span of Edith Piaf's life. Marion Cotillard who plays Edith was amazing and bears an uncanny resemblance to the real star, who was always very unusual-looking with her staring eyes and wildly unconventional looks. I think it's the fact that Edith had such a tragic life that makes the film so difficult to watch! She's brought up on the streets of Paris by her prostitute mother, who then disowns her at an early age; after which she's raised in a brothel; then her acrobat father forces her to accompany him with a travelling circus and soon abandons her too; later on she's forced to sing on the street to earn a living (which does at least lead to a bona fide career as a singer); the great love of her life is killed in a plane crash...and then she gets arthritis and dies (relatively) young! Nice, eh? As I said this all makes for quite depressing viewing, and there aren't many laughs or lighthearted moments. The whole sordidness of the Parisian life that we see early on is particularly hard to bear and overall there's a grim, dour feel about the film.
But on the other hand that's inevitable given the nature of the subject and the movie can at least be applauded for the uncompromising way in which it deals with its topic - there's not much Hollywood-style sugaring of the pill here. And it's not as if they could have realistically made up the facts about Edith's life. So, a decent enough biopic of "The Sparrow" though probably not a film I'd voluntarily sit through again.


I watched "Transamerica" on DVD the other night. It wasn't a masterpiece but still good all the same. It stars Felicity Huffman (better known as Lynette from "Desperate Housewives") playing a pre-op transsexual who discovers she also has a teenage son who has just been released from jail!

Felicity Huffman was pretty convincing as "Bree", the TS. I wasn't sure if they'd given her make-up / prosthetics or not to make her look more masculine - she definitely wasn't as (conventionally) attractive as in Desperate Housewives but then she was meant to be playing a "he" in the process of becoming a "she". I did find her a little bit mannered at times but it was generally a well-observed performance and a brave decision for Felicity H to go for such a radically different character to Lynette!

The scenes with Bree's son and family were well done too. And Kevin Zeggers (as Bree's son Toby) is definitely an actor to watch for. As well as a rather cute one (with a very nice bottom which you glimpse in a few scenes...mmm).

A low key affair overall, but still worth seeing if you get the chance.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Hairy Snotter and The Dirty Marrows





Tracey Turnblad's hair's got roaches!

Inspired by a recent post by my fellow blogger Salty Sailor...I'd been meaning to say a few things about this myself. Yep, yet another re-make is about to be unleashed upon us, this time an "update" of the classic John Waters movie, "Hairspray". With an all star cast, including John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer and Christopher Walken. It's also meant to be more "musical" than the original and is based on the recent Broadway production.

Like my pal Salty, I'm not sure of the point of this. I can't really see why they're making a new version of a film which didn't come out that long ago. Actually it was 20 years ago which I suppose technically IS rather a long time, so I take that back slightly. But it doesn't SEEM long to me. The original John Waters movie was slyly subversive and as a director he had a great twisted slant on things (even if "Hairspray" was considerably more "respectable" than some of Waters' earlier experimental movies which were positively outrageous e.g. one early film had a character eating dog poo).

I'm just worried that the new version will be diluted down into your average teenagers-in-lurve type rom com that we've seen so many times before. Maybe not entirely - after all, having John Travolta in drag as Edna Turnblad is an interesting enough proposition - see above for proof - although no-one can beat the late, great Divine in my opinion. As I was just saying about "The Devil Wears Prada", Hollywood does have a habit of "sugaring the pill" and I'm concerned that all the bite of the original will be lost.

Ah well. Will probably get my butt down the cinema this coming weekend and see for myself. After I've sprayed my hair and put on my dancing shoes, of course.

Monday, July 23, 2007

That's all.

After a fun and karaoke-infused weekend we rounded off our Sunday watching the movie of “The Devil Wears Prada”. Perfect for slouching in front of the TV. I’d been wanting to see “Devil” for some time, although had reservations that it wouldn’t be as good as the book. Well, I was mostly wrong and I enjoyed it a lot! Whilst the film does take a few (small) liberties with the original story it was still entertaining and well done. Anne Hathaway was good as Andy (Andrea), managing to successfully portray the difficulties facing someone wanting to get ahead in the world of journalism/fashion whilst retaining her sense of self, but gradually selling out in the process and f*cking over her family, mates and boyfriend at the same time (even if unknowingly).

Even better was Meryl Streep as arch-bitch editor of Runway magazine, Miranda Priestly. A totally excellent performance from Ms Streep. I used to find old Mezzer kind of irritating and neurotic in some of her other roles, but ironically these qualities are a virtue in this film and make Miranda such a compellingly horrid character. The supercilious, totally impersonal and cold way in which she treats all of her staff. The constant round of chores and menial tasks that she makes Andy carry out. Her bitchy putdowns about Andy’s dress sense. And her signal that all conversation is now over: “That’s all”. (I loved the way she delivered this line – totally f*cking cold and dismissive). One of my gripes about the book was that we didn’t get any ultimate insight into why Miranda was made the way she was, not even at the conclusion. By contrast, the film does try to redress this – there’s a very good scene toward the end, when Miranda and Andy are both in Paris for an all-important fashion show. Miranda tells Andy that her husband, due to attend, now won’t be coming as they’re getting divorced. She looks tired and haggard, without make-up - a symbolic mask? - and confesses that she’s lost husbands before. For one minute her guard is down and she seems lost and vulnerable – actually quite moving stuff! Then the mask snaps back into place and Miranda is in work mode once again. The successful career woman can’t stay weak for long.

The ending was slightly different to the book too – SPOILERS AHEAD! In the film version, Andy quits her job by throwing her personal organizer/phone into a fountain, when Miranda brings her to the realization that she’s royally screwed her workmate Emily, in order to attend the esteemed fashion show in Paris (it was Emily’s dream to go and originally she had first refusal). In the book, Andy says “F*ck you” to Miranda after having to bow to one too many of her demands and finally snaps, walking out of her job and flying back to the US. I’m not sure which conclusion I prefer. I personally reckon that a combination of both might have been more effective. There was also a wee bit too much of the phantom “Hollywood sugaring the pill” syndrome at the end when we find out that Miranda actually told Andy’s prospective new employer that he would be “an idiot” not to hire her. Would such an uncaring monster of a former employer REALLY have done that? There then follows a scene where Andy and Miranda see each other across the street – Miranda stands there glaring at her in typical icy fashion before getting into her chauffeured car, whilst Andy nods, waves and smiles and then walks on. Then, inside her car we actually see Miranda crack a smile! Ye Gods!! The collective message being that even the most seemingly inhuman person has their emotional chinks and moments of sensitivity and kindness. And that on some level, Miranda actually respects Andy! Mmm. Reassuring I guess but also a bit of a cop-out? As I said, Hollywood always wants to sweeten the bitter pill.

I also thought that some of the fashions and clothes worn by the cast looked totally fabulous! Meryl Streep has about 50 coats (which all get simultaneously chucked on poor Andy’s desk) of various shapes and styles. And although Andy’s transformation into a designer label wearing lackey isn’t meant to sit entirely comfortably, some of her outfits really do look great. Maybe I shouldn’t say it, but decent clothes really can make a difference.

Oh and Emily Blunt who plays Emily, Andy’s fellow co-worker and general office sour-puss, is also a bit of a revelation - a great performance - and has an assortment of fab clothes. I loved her blue eye shadow and matching blue attire in one scene.

And that's all.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Din dins and drag queens

It's been a bit of a karaoke weekend actually. The last few days I've had more than one opportunity to vent my inner diva via the mike and as I'm sure I said before, I do have a penchant for getting up and singing my favourite toons. Not that I'm the world's greatest singer or anything. No sirree. And it usually takes a few bevvies and a supportive crowd of mates to get my courage up. But I think I pull it off with a certain panache. If one knows the song and words one can blag it quite successfully.

On Friday night I went out for an ex workmate's birthday bash in Farringdon/Clerkenwell - a fun bar called Murphis with a karaoke bar in the basement. It's one of those places you walk past without actually releasing what it's like inside - a hidden "treasure" I suppose. I just love the naff background projections they come up with on the karaoke screens - picturesque mountains, shots of the countryside and lakes etc - that bear no relevance whatsoever to the song. Anyway I did my best rendition of "Material Girl" by Madonna (actually pretty brave seeing as most of the clientele were straight) and "Copacabana" by Big Nose Manilow. Music and fashion were ALWAYS the passion.

Then last night we were out again for a mate's birthday in Gipsy Hill near Crystal Palace. We went to a lovely tapas restaurant called Los Toreros which is a favourite of my friend's and a great choice - really nice, relaxed atmosphere, not to mention great food with a delicious assortment of dishes to choose from (I sound like an advertisement). We all ordered various dishes and then stuck all our plates together so we could sample each other's bits (I'm talking about the food). It was totally yummy.

And afterwards, well the night was still relatively young and because we were in the vicinity we decided to head over to the local gay nightspot, Ego. Yay!! I've been there before and my previous experience was "interesting" to say the least. A "premiere" club it ain't. It's provincial in the real sense of the word. The decor inside is cheap, tacky and totally weird. The front bar looks like a working man's club and really does need a lick of paint (or lick of something), it's so dingy and tawdry-looking. The dance area at the back resembles Prisoner Cell Block H - brick walls and a very "industrial" feel - not exactly intimate. There's also a "lovely" garden area at the back with shrubbery and stone benches, that I ventured out into at various points (along with the now banished smokers). The Blue Peter garden can't hold a candle (or shrub) to it. As for the clientele - a mixture of stately homos, dykes with 80s mullets and teenage queens. And that's just the bar staff. God I'm being cruel. If any regular Ego customers read this they'll probably shop me.

However, returning to the opening topic of this post, there was karaoke to keep everyone amused and again I seized my chance and jumped up on the stage for a couple of renditions. Yehaa! Fun fun fun. After which we all attempted to go "out the back" for a dance - but were then told we couldn't, because a cabaret act was due to come on in the front bar, and because there weren't enough people in the dance area, we had to stay out front and wait for it to finish before we were permitted to come back. Have you ever heard anything so ridiculous? Of course it might have something to do with the fact that there was only about 30-40 people in the entire club (I kid you not) hence not enough people to fill the dance floor. Hilarious!! So we had to troop back into the main bar and endure a drag queen double act for the next hour or so. Yikes. And in the honoured provincial gay bar tradition they were pretty gruesome. Two flamboyant "gals" with OTT outfits, hair and make-up who actually had quite good singing voices, but bloody awful material - songs about farting and finding sh*t in Victoria Beckham's fanny - you get the picture. About as progressive and funny as Margaret Thatcher getting up on stage and flashing her M&S knickers to the audience whilst reciting Clause 28 to a disco beat (actually that might just have comic mileage if done in an ironic way so maybe it's not the best comparison). I haven't posted any photos of the aforementioned drag queens as they might sue me for libel. Still I guess anyone clever enough would be able to work out who I'm talking about.

When the trannie travesty was over (actually I've been told by a mate that transvestites and drag queens are totally different things and risk causing offence by suggesting they're the same!) we at last were released onto the dancefloor and were finally able to strut our funky stuff. In spite of the fact that the place is severely underpopulated (how does the club make a profit?) the plus side is there's plenty of room to dance, unlike most crowded West End clubs. The DJ was actually playing some good old skool 1990s stuff that took me back - "Free" by Ultra Nate, "Let Love Lives" - Alison Limerick - and lots of other banging toons. It was only when it turned into trance music later that it got crap. Anyway at approximately 3.30am we decided to call it a night and cleared off. Ego is good fun on an occasional basis. Not somewhere I'd want to visit every weekend though! There's only so much provincial gayness I can deal with. Even a tacky old Cheeser like me. Suprising, eh?

Harry Snotter

Unlike millions of other Brits, I have never succumbed to the hype of Harry Potter. I'm just not a fan. Well, with my all-encompassing devotion to a certain sci-fi programme I guess it would be kind of hard to fit Harry Snotter in as well. I did read the very first novel, "The Philosopher's Stone", when it came out, just because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. The mixture of jolly hockysticks public school characters, yah-yah kids with names like Hermoine and general middle class Famous-Fiveness of the whole thing just didn't appeal to me. Maybe I'm being a bit unfair as apparently the subsequent novels got better and were much more serious and "dark". I'm also being a major hypocrite, as I devoured (metaphorically rather than literally) all the Famous Five books when I was a youngster and had all of them on my bookshelf. But that kind of says it all really - when you're a nipper your reading tastes are rather different to your adult ones. Well, in some respects. And if I'd read Harry P as a kiddie I probably would have loved it.

And the advent of Harry P has definitely been a godsend for kids. One of my fellow bloggers,
Karen, made the valid point that the books have got children interested in reading again and that can only be a good thing. In this technology-obsessed age, we can at least thank J K Rowling for re-igniting kids' interest in the old fashioned pursuit of actually picking up a book and reading it. Back in the (distant) days when I was a Secondary teacher, I distinctly remember virtually all of my Year 7 kids taking out Harry P novels from the library...which helped to keep them under control. A good thing again.

Of course the arrival of the final novel in the series, "The Deathly Hallows", has been greatly anticipated by the general public, with people camping overnight outside bookshops to get hold of their much-wanted copy, queues around the block on the day of release and an all-round media frenzy. (And incidentally, what's with the "adult" and "children's" versions of the current novel? What's the difference? Does Ron kiss Hermione in the children's version and kiss her AND get out his magic wand in the adult one? I can but guess...) But the biggest amount of hype and speculation surrounding the final Potter publication concerns the fact that two major characters die by the end of the novel. Yes, I'm not hot-for-Harry, but I'm still DYING to know who they are. Hypocritical old moi MUST know!! So if any of you lovely readers out there have already finished off "Deathly Hallows" and can give me the lowdown, drop me an email NOW!! Please satisfy my insatiable curiosity.

Get into the groove

Desperately Seeking Susan is showing on Channel Five this afternoon. And by a strange coincidence it's about to make a comeback in the form of a West End musical. I'm actually quite excited by this news, in spite of the fact that I don't find the original movie much cop. The 1985 film seems pretty dated and flat now, despite the presence of Madonna (in one of her better screen performances - probably cos she's basically just playing herself), the delightfully kooky Rosanna Arquette (where has she disappeared to?) and the handsome, hunky Aiden Quinn (whose bare bum we even get an enticing glimpse of in one scene - shame there wasn't more where that came from).

The premise of the film is a good one - a bored suburban housewife becomes obsessed with a woman called Susan she only knows through reading messages to and from her in the personal ads section of a paper. Aforementioned houswife then gets hit on the head and starts thinking that she really IS Susan. Cue lot of confusion, mistaken identity and various other farcical elements. I think the film wants to be off-the-wall and like, craaazy and zany, but for some reason it doesn't quite come off. Well, it was over 20 years ago and production values have kind of changed since then. I do remember reading the novel version and rather enjoying it (even film adaptations can be more illuminating than the original film - they're good at getting inside the psychology of a character in a way a film can't always do. My, don't I sound intellectual and pretentious?).

Anyway I'm still interested in seeing what the new stage version will be like. A definite bonus is the fact that the musical will feature the songs of Blondie, plus a new song written by Debbie Harry and Chris Stein, especially for the show. Hopefully it'll get all of us into the groove.

Monday, July 16, 2007

More filling than Walker's Crisps...

If you sneak onboard a mothership, be sure of a big surprise...
If you sneak onboard a mothership, you'll never believe your eyes...
For every creature that ever there was,
Is stashed in cages and waiting because...

...Today's the day the Visitors have their picnic!!

(Well in the last 40 seconds or so of this clip, anyway...)

Am I bothered? Actually I am...

Okay I am very late with this as my fellow bloggers have long since posted their thoughts on this topic, but here goes...

As the whole cosmos probably now knows, Mistress Catherine Tate is set to return in the next series of Dr Who.

No, no, NO!!! In a nutshell, I'm not very pleased. But I suppose there might just be some consolations.

In actual fact I admire Ms Tate immensely as a comedienne, loved her show and find her a versatile and clever actress.

As for her appearance in "The Runaway Bride", last year's Dr Who special, I thought she was generally alright. The character of Donna Noble, was at times annoying, shrewish and shrill and clearly in there as a comedy element. Once she quietened down a bit she became more bearable and was much better in her more reflective moments. She also had a sardonic quality to her character that could be reasonably entertaining. Overall as a one-off, "novelty" appearance I could cope with her. However I'm really not convinced that bringing back Donna for the entire duration of the Fourth Series of Dr Who has been well thought-out. I just don't feel that the character has the longevity, scope and/or emotional depth to be a regular character.

Okay, on the plus it's true that Ms Noble doesn't have the "mooning over the Dr" characteristics that so marred Rose and Martha's characters (thank God). She's older than them, more experienced and cynical and so that at least will be a refreshing change.

But I still think it's a backward step resurrecting a character who's already been in the programme and was never that brilliant in the first place. Have the writers run out of ideas already??! Surely not!! And yet ANOTHER female Earth companion - give me strength!! The producers really do need to break the mould and cast an alien companion or a non-terrestrial person at any rate; this is all getting way too samey. With all the wealth of talent onboard for DW - Stephen Moffatt, Paul Cornell etc - I find it hard to credit that they couldn't have envisaged a new character. Or is RTD the ultimate fascist who has the final say-so? If that's the case I think his (rumoured) departure at the end of next season is timely.

Chantho from "Utopia" would have been a great choice for new companion I reckon - she was positively delightful and had great potential. Although there's the slight problem of her being dead. Then again they managed to bring back Freema A back with the excuse that she was Adeola's cousin so stranger things have happened.

Another gripe of mine re: the return of La Tate is that as an actress she is too well known, with too many associations. I'm deeply concerned that RTD is turning into a new JNT (John Nathan-Turner, FYI - Doctor W ho producer in the 1980s, who started off bringing a fresh and radical approach to the show and by the end of his tenure had totally slaughtered the programme). I can't help thinking that they want to cast a famous/celebrity actress in the show in order to up the viewing figures (just as JNT cast so many famous people in the show during his tenure which turned out to be rather counter productive move - although I will concede Catherine T is a slightly classier actress than say, Ken Dodd). Casting a famous person in a role does not guarantee a good character - it's the quality of the writing and characterisation that do that - but RTD seems to have other ideas. I just think he's pandering to commercial pressures. We deserve some new blood /fresh talent in the show instead!

BUT! In spite of the mega-rant which I have just subjected you to, I do (believe it or not) have an open mind and am willing to give Ms T a try. Just about. If they can come up with some decent scripts that see Donna develop and grow as a character it might just be worthwhile .... we'll see. But I'm not 100% sold on RTD's writing, so not holding out too much hope ...

V is for...Very Silly Ending

What’s happened to our Summer? What’s happened to the bloody weather? Is it global warming? We’ve had rain and sun (admittedly the latter has only been in small measures) all in one day for the last few weeks and it’s not pleasant. Perhaps the heavens are about to burst open and a huge torrent of Toclafane will stream forth. And the weather was totally weeeeird at the weekend. It was warm and muggy most of the time, then on Sunday afternoon there was the most incredibly dramatic, killer downpour of rain. Fortunately I was indoors, observing. I love those times when you’re safe inside whilst the weather plays merry hell outside – makes you feel all cosy and nice.

Gustavo’s cousin is staying with us again and we had a fun, relaxed and rather boozy weekend. Went to our local pub for the first time ever in spite of the fact we’ve actually lived a few minutes walk away from the establishment, for almost two years. Funny how you can have places right on your own doorstep that you never set foot in. It’s not a bad pub but a bit of a rockers’ paradise (which is perhaps one of the reasons why I’ve never visited previously). There also seemed to be some kind of party going on with some interesting looking guests – at one point a woman and her two sons walked in with the biggest, curliest, most ginger-coloured riah I’d ever set eyes upon. At first I thought they were all wearing wigs and it was some kind of fancy dress get-up but no, close inspection revealed that the barnets were genuine. Relatives of Mick Hucknell perhaps? Anyway after polishing off a bottle of wine, we went back home and proceeded to get through about three more bottles between us which was good going. Then I teleported out of the flat and was replaced by a glamorous model-like replacement (see last post for evidence).

I also finished watching “V” with Gustavo. It has to be said, the last episode of “The Final Battle” gets silly and in terms of conclusions, is a bit of a let-down. To start with, the incredibly silly lizard baby that Robin gives birth to. Obviously a glove puppet, it makes one of the Gremlins or Muppets look terrifying by comparison. Fortunately the lizard kiddie carks it pretty early on - but guess what!! - the death of the rubbery sprog actually reaps dividends for the resistance as they realise that they’ve found a weakness in the Visitor’s biological make-up. From this result they’re able to manufacture a deadly “red dust” that will kill the Visitors world wide! Wooohooo!! Very convenient. The dust is then released into Earth’s atmosphere via…drum roll…balloons! Okaay…a bit kooky perhaps. Surely it would take millions of balloons to do this? Although we’re told that once the dust makes contact with the food chain the virus will multiply and spread. Nevertheless it doesn’t take much for the Visitors to sh*t themselves and clear off, deserting the planet.

But! That nasty lizard lady Diana, being a sore loser, decides to turn the LA mothership into a giant atomic bomb and blow up the Earth. Will Mike Donovan and co be able to disarm the detonation device before the whole planet gets nuked? No! But wait! Here comes Elizabeth, the other alien/human child borne by Robin (remember)? Oh I forgot to mention, she’s also aged about 6-7 years in just a few days, and has amazing superpowers! Suddenly Elizabeth grabs hold of the detonation device, there’s heavenly choral music as she’s consumed by a glowing, glittery type effect…and the detonation device switches off just in time! A very corny deux au machina. Which just leaves Diana to escape (cueing her return in the sequel) and Mike and Julie to passionately snog with lots of naff “uplifting” music as the mothership flies back to Earth. Well I really enjoyed watching “V” on the whole even if it does suffer from the curse of Hollywood toward the end. Diana in particular is a fabulous character. I think I may just have to purchase the follow up series – tackier, cheaper and trashier than the original, but still with an endearing quality of its own. Not to mention the return of Diana. I just love cheesy sci-fi. Quite easy to please really aren't I?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

WHO is this diva??!?

...Any guesses, guys, gals and trannies?

Isn't she gorgeous? (Apart from the slightly hairy chest....and the "Bet Lynch" leopardskin top...perhaps...)

OC xxxx

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Video of the Fortnight - Alex Gaudio feat Crystal Waters - Destination Calabria

It's back, back, BACK!! Yes, after a temporary hiatus, Video of the Fortnight returns.

This time I've chosen a current number called "Destination Calabria". Actually I don't know why it's called that cos the hook in the song refers to "Destination Unknown". Mmm. It features the vocals of Crystal Waters, whom I'm sure many of you will remember from that song of old "Gypsy Woman". "La da dee, la dee da..." Remember? Not, erm, the most eloquent of lyrics. Actually I'm not that keen on Ms Waters - her voice has a kind of jaded, clapped-out quality to it and I don't rate her very highly on the singing scale. But "Destination"
is still a really sassy, sexy tune (last weekend it was playing at G.A.Y. and really got me and my pals moving on the dancefloor! Yay!)

As for the video...well, a bit of a perv's paradise really. Especially if you're a straight man. The girls' skirts are skimpy to say the least and they're obviously into more than just playing their instruments. But I love the cheeky, naughty quality of the whole thing. A bangin' song and video!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

V is for Victory

The other night I introduced my husband to “V” via DVD. Well, telly hasn’t been that gripping of late and there has to be something worth watching other than a constant round of “Big Brother”. I ordered the DVDs off Amazon – bit of a bargain and a treat to myself for finishing my recent spate of work!

If you’re about the same age as me – okay, maybe even a bit younger – you’ll probably remember “V”. It was a US science fiction series produced in the early-mid 1980s, about a race of aliens known as the Visitors, who come to Earth supposedly in the name of peace. Apparently benevolent and physically very similar to homo sapiens, the Visitors claim to be seeking Earth’s assistance as their own planet is lacking in vital resources, in return for which they will offer mankind the fruits of their knowledge. But then scientists start mysteriously disappearing, followed by literally thousands of other humans. The Visitors’ true, hostile intentions soon come to light, when it turns out they’ve been stealing our water as their own planet doesn’t have any and – worse – they are carnivores who have been stashing away us humans for food! And as if that wasn’t bad enough, it also transpires that the Visitors are actually a race of lizards and their human appearance is a mere disguise! A state of martial law is soon announced and before Earth knows it, the Visitors have gained ultimate power. However a group of humans form a resistance unit and the dramatic crux of the show stems from their fight against the Visitors to win back the Earth.

I loved “V” when it first came out. Although made nearly 25 years ago and possessing some now admittedly dated and dodgy elements, it still holds up pretty well. I clearly remember its UK showing in 1984 on ITV – it was billed as a blockbuster type mini-series and was ITV's attempt to steal away ratings from the BBC, who were showing the Olympic Games at the same time. Well, the ruse worked for me. (But then, I’ve always totally loathed most sport, so it didn’t take much persuasion).

The original version of “V” actually comprised two mini series shown several months apart in the US but broadcast all together in the UK – “V” and “V: The Final Battle”.

"V” was set mainly in modern day California and Los Angeles, although at the start we see a series of montage scenes clearly showing the arrival of the Visitors’ vast mothership spacecraft all over the world. These opening bits work really well in building up a feeling of nervousness and anticipation, especially the scene when mankind makes “first contact” with the aliens. Like the people we see sat in front of their TVs, waiting for the first glimpse of alien life, we’re on the edge of our seats too – what will these “Visitors” look like? Will they be like us? What are their motives for coming to Earth?

One reason for the show’s success is its great cross-section of human characters, representing different walks of life from LA and the various ways in which mankind reacts to the Visitors’ arrival (although there aren’t any gay characters – shocking! – then again this was the early 80s...) There’s hunky cameraman Mike Donovan, the central protagonist of the show, as well as all-purpose action hero (played by Marc Singer of “The Beastmaster” fame. Dr Juliet (Julie) Parrish, a beautiful and intelligent scientist who forms the human resistance movement and secures them a secret hideaway. Ham Tyler, a grizzled and cynical resistance fighter who joins up with Julie’s gang later on. Robert Maxwell, another scientist who is forced to flee his home with his family. Robert’s teenage daughter Robin, who becomes infatuated with a handsome young visitor, Brian, to disastrous effect. Elias Wright, a crook and thief, who witnesses the death of his brother at the hands of the Visitors and changes his ways to join the resistance. Eleanor, Mike’s horribly snobbish mother, who sees the Visitors’ arrival as an opportunity to enhance her prestige and social status. Christine Walsh, a TV journalist and sometime lover of Mike, who ends up as the Visitors’ chief spokesperson and ditches her principles in the process. Stanley and Lynn Bernstein, and Stanley’s father Abraham, who all suffer at the hands of the visitors mainly due to Stanley and Lynn’s slimy son Daniel, who falls under the influence of the Visitors. It’s a shame that Stanley and Lynn only appear in the first part of the mini series as they were pretty good characters and we never see them after that, apart from a very brief cameo later on. Poor old Abraham disappears altogether…All of these characters are believable and well acted.

What about the Visitors themselves? A nasty bunch and no mistake! The public face of the Visitors is their Supreme Commander John, who could give any US President (not to mention certain UK Prime Ministers!) a run for their money with his smooth patter and mannerisms. He’s a real fake (in more ways than one, especially when the resistance publicly unmask him at a medical conference revealing his real scaly features!) Stephen is the smarmy head of Visitor security who romances Mike’s mother, Eleanor. There’s Brian, the young visitor who seduces poor unsuspecting Robin under orders and gets her pregnant – with the first ever human/Visitor hybrid child!! – but he gets his just deserts later on.

But best of the baddies is Diana, chief scientist of the Visitors and all-round scheming, evil bitch who will stop at nothing to see the human race vanquished, not to mention the realisation of her own ambitions to rise in the Visitor ranks. Being a scientist she’s very keen on experimentation and it’s her idea to get Brian to impregnate Robin. She’s also rather attractive in the looks department (although she does sport a variety of rather bizarre hairstyles in the earlier episodes) and a definite piece of alien hot totty. Diana survived to become the chief villainess in the follow up series of “V” and achieved iconic status in the process. And actress Jane Badler who played her is still a fan favourite (apparently she now lives in Australia and has done some jazz singing – a far cry from Diana!) Diana also has some great dialogue and bitchy lines. For example a scene in which Julie is captured by the treacherous Daniel:

(To Daniel) Congratulations... I wish we had more like you.

Julie: Oh yes, congratulations on selling out your people to a bunch of nightcrawlers!

Diana: (Slaps Julie in the face) You need an attitude adjustment, my dear. And it will be my pleasure to give it to you.

Viva Diana!

Oh and we also get a nice cameo in "V: The Final Battle" from sci-fi/fantasy actress Sarah Douglas (remember her as Ursa in the Superman movies?) as Supreme Commander Pamela and Diana's arch rival. There's some great bitching scenes between them, adding to the entertainment.

So were all of the Visitors bad? No! As luck would have it (well, fortuitous in terms of plot) there’s a secret “Fifth column” of Visitors in existence who don’t agree with their leader’s plans and side with the human resistance. One of the chief rebels is Martin who is a nice but rather serious, cautious fella (and with a hairstyle reminiscent of Princess Diana). Nicest of all is the unfortunately named Willy (played by Robert Englund who would later go on to achieve massive notoriety as Freddie Kruger in the “Nightmare on Elm Street” series), who also serves as the comic relief in the show, getting his words all mixed up (he isn’t very good with the English language), Mrs Malaprop style.

As for the plot, it moves along at a fair old pace and there’s lots to hold the attention. As I said, the different plotlines derive from the different reactions of the humans to the Visitors and this is an effective style of storytelling. However there are still some unbelievable bits and instances of not-so-good plotting, for example, some very convenient exposition when Mike Donovan manages to get onboard one of Visitor motherships! Firstly, he hears the Visitors admitting that they are taking Earth’s chemicals for nothing, followed by a very loud conversation between Diana and Stephen, where they reveal the Visitors’ true evil intentions. I was groaning when I watched these bits. Finally Donovan happens upon a Visitor who in his private room, and “takes out” his human “eyes” to reveal they are reptilian “slits” – he then gets into a fight with the Visitor and ends up ripping his face to see his real reptile skin! However the latter scene is a great exercise in horror and for anyone not knowing the Visitors’ true nature, comes as a genuine shock.

“V” is also quite heavily allegorical – in particular its parallels with World War II, which whilst not particularly subtle, work quite well. At the start, old Jewish grandfather Abraham Bernstein is the main focus for this – having lived through the horror of WWII and the extermination of the Jews he experiences an unsettling feeling of déjà vu when the Visitors arrive and gradually seize control. There’s lots of other similarities to Nazi Germany too – the Visitor stormtroopers with their visor helmets and guns on every street, the Visitor Youth movement recruiting the youngsters to become mini-Visitor-fascists (including that nasty little sh*t Daniel, who starts throwing his weight around and even shops his parents and grandfather to the Visitors). And look at the insignia on the Visitors’ uniforms and spacecraft – remind you of anything??

And the special effects? Well, this was the 1980s so CGI didn’t exist. But the shots of the Visitor shuttlecraft zooming over the landscape look pretty good, if a little bit CSO at times. And there's some nice vistas of the motherships, hovering in the sky, dwarfing everyone and everything beneath (although I think some of the matte paintings look better than the "model spaceship superimposed over photo of landscape" shots used later on which are very obviously fake. And I almost neglected to mention some of the most gruesome effects of all - the Visitors like to snack on some of our smaller species like rats and mice!! (Kind of like a starter before the "human" main course I suppose). In one scene we get to see Diana eating an entire guinea pig! No lie. This is quite cleverly done (when the actors had to swallow the little varmits they were given a sweetie version) and is horrid! (Although the novelty value did get overplayed later on with Visitors scoffing budgies, mice etc in virtually every episode). And a final special mention has to go to Robin's alien baby. Oh dear. Not one of the high points of the series. The pregnant Robin gives birth not only to a human-looking child (which turns out to have lizard skin) but a real baby lizard! Which looks...very silly indeed and seriously reduces the credibility of the scene. I considered uploading a picture here but then decided against it. You might all laugh too much.

As mentioned, “V” went on to return, in a series of one hour episodes, which is where (I think at any rate) the downward slide began. The later series had a lower budget, there was a constant re-use of special effects shots from the original mini-series and a general sense of cheapness which didn’t help matters. Rather than using the overarching plotline of mankind trying to defeat the Visitors that had formed the crux of the mini-series, each episode has its own self-contained story. It often felt like the rebels were never getting any closer to getting properly shot of the nasty reptiles. The dark and serious qualities of the original series were also supplanted by more soap-opera-ish and camper aspects such as Diana’s scenes with fellow Visitor Lydia, with the two continually trying to outdo and outbitch one another. “Dynasty” in space, no less. But paradoxically all of this was what made the show such great fun to watch. I will always have a soft spot for “V” and I wholeheartedly recommend it. As Abraham Bernstein said: "Go tell your friends"...!!

(Mmm. I had rather a lot to say there didn't I? Just for a change...)

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Step back in time?

Wooohooo!! The Beeb have released their first pic of Kylie Minogue from the forthcoming Dr Who Xmas special "Voyage of the Damned"!! Look no further than above...

Apparently Kylie is playing a waitress on the Titanic called Astrid (sounds kind of Scandinavian...will she have a Swedish accent as opposed to an Austraaaaalian one?). Sounds credible. And she's looking pretty good and authentic in suiting with the early 1900s period! Nice outfit and boots (mind you she's rather dwarf-like in real life and David Tennant is tall and lanky so I guess they had to give her some stature, as it were!)

And they've also confirmed some other guest stars for the special - Geoffrey Palmer as the Captain of the Titanic and Clive Swift. The latter actor was last seen in Dr Who in "Revelation of the Daleks" as Mr Jobel as well as playing Hyacinth Bouquet's long suffering husband in "Keeping Up Appearances" (I'm just a mine of trivia). I'm sure he'll be good. Geoffrey Palmer has a wonderfully dry, sardonic quality to him (anyone remember him in "Butterflies"? Well you will if you're as old as me) and I'm sure he'll rise to the challenge of playing the ship's Captain. A plum role!

Of course things do also hinge on the quality of the story and the writing. And my all-time favourite ever Dr Who writer RTD (ha ha ha) is at the helm once more...so let's just hope that "Last of the Time Lords" was a temporary blip and Russell is back on form. I personally would prefer to see someone like Paul Cornell or Stephen Moffatt penning the Xmas tale but RTD did a decent enough job with the previous Crimbo specials. So fingers crossed...

And going back to the subject of Kyles, will she sing "Better The Doctor You Know"? "Give Me Just A Little More Time"? "Tears On My Console"? Or the title of this post? Okaaaaay... And although it might sound corny, I do hope the story gives Kylie/Astrid an opportunity to showcase her singing and dancing abilities. It's what she does so well after all. I can just see her suddenly ripping off her waitress outfit to reveal a spangly bikini and doing some disco moves down the starboard side of the Titanic! Okay slightly anachronistic, but so what. And Kyles should be flanked by lots of handsome sailors dressed in white suits, doing lots of raunchy dancing! Oh and the Dr would be joining in too. Whilst mountains of fireworks erupt behind them and the passengers do synchronised dancing. Mmmm!
A definite image is forming in my mind now. And I'd LOVE to know your thoughts on what Ms Minogue's gonna be like in "Voyage" readers! Post me your suggestions NOW!!

Monday, July 09, 2007

I'm back, back, BACK!!!

Well hello ladies and gents....yes, I'm back, back, BACK!! Not that I've been away for THAT long - the last few weeks have kind of flown by (well for me anyways, as I've been pretty busy...) But now the Cheeser has been freed from the cycle of work, work, work and has more time on his hands (well a little more at least).

I finished my web design course last week (thank the lord) and I have managed to create at least a partial website as a result. I say partial - we are talking about 10% if that. Kind of made me realise that the whole technical process of web design is a time consuming one. It also didn't help that my laptop at home was playing silly beggars and wouldn't let me do certain things like insert images and links. Huh! So I had to go into college to do some of the work.

Anyways I managed to create a very snazzy home page with lots of fun images that function as rollovers/links to other sections of the site. That took enough time to do in itself! Then some information on the background and history of the organisation for whom I was creating the website, but again that was more than just a case of writing a load of blurb. I put some Flash animation in there to make it more interesting e.g. a cartoon image of a fish with speech bubbles coming out of his mouth...which took some doing too! Still I'm quite proud of what I've done (even if I think it could look better stylistically) and at least I'm getting another skill under my belt. Next step is that I have to keep working on improving my abilities and finish off the work for my friend. I've been quite slow to get things done, so hopefully with practice I'll get faster and faster! I also had to write an evaluation for my tutor on my website. As some of you might have gathered, I'm rather fond of writing and got rather carried away in the process - the thing ended up running to 20 odd pages! A very detailed account of the work I did but I tried to shove in (so to speak) as many technical references as I could to show my new found knowledge. I think my tutor was fairly impressed. Anyway we get our result in about four weeks. I just pray I've achieved a Pass. I don't think I'll get a Distinction but if I happened to get a Merit I'd be pretty bloody satisfied indeed.

On top of that I was also doing the extra work for the exam board which was taking up my evenings and weekends! That too is now thankfully over, but it's worth it when I think of the money I'll receive. Just in time for my trip to Braaaazil in September, lots of nice holiday money, which will be muito bem, as they say in Portuguese.

In the meantime the world has carried on its own sweet way. Wimbledon has been and gone and made very little impact on me in spite of the fact that I live in close proximity to the green tennis courts. I just don't find Tennis a very exciting occupation, either to play or watch. And who on earth wants to pay £5 for three strawberries and a smidgen of cream? Not me, Jocasta darling.

The residents of the Big Brother continue to bitch, argue, bicker and snipe. And there's now a generous helping of male specimens inhabiting the human zoo. To be honest I haven't caught much of it the last few weeks but have just about enough awareness of what's been going on. Laura has been the latest personage to depart. Charlie and Chanelle seem to both hate each other's guts. Ziggy continues to be rather arrogant and up himself. My hot favourite to win is Jerry, who has a calm but quirky quality to him which I like, plus I think he's kind of cute. I don't know why everyone's going on about Nicky winning - she's okay but it's true she never smiles and I do find her something of a mardy madam. However I don't know how much BB I'm going to be watching from this point on. The latest batch of housemates haven't really grabbed me and I'm found the whole thing to be a bit of a dead-in-the-water affair, in spite of earlier dramatic incidents like the Emily-racism debacle. Of course I'll probably end up writing daily posts on the bloody thing...

But on an infinitely more exciting note, the latest series of Dr Who reached its climax the weekend before last. Mmm. "Exciting" is a slight misnomer actually, as I have to say I really wasn't altogether impressed with "Last of the Time Lords" and after the fairly gripping "Sound of Drums" I found the concluding episode to be something of a letdown. Russell T Davies really does need picking up and shaking. Or replacing altogether. I do actually think it's time. Anyway, more on that topic later and I will be subjecting you all to a brace of mini reviews of the final episodes from Season Three that I didn't get round to writing about (yes, I can hear you all guffawing when I say "mini"). But I just don't know what I'm going to do with my Saturdays now!! Help!!

Still on the Wonderful World of Who, there's been a number of other major developments within that sphere. Firstly, the announcement that Freema Agyeman will only be in half of the next series and will also be joining the cast of Torchwood for a few episodes. To be honest I'm not too gutted by this news. I started off really liking Freema/Martha when the last series began, then as it progressed I increasingly noticed her limitations as an actress. To anyone who's read my reviews, this will probably come as a bit of a surprise as I've (mostly) sung her praises in just about every episode. Don't get me wrong, Freema has tried very hard in the role and has definitely had her moments. She's a likeable girl. But there's something about the way she delivers some of her lines that doesn't entirely convince. Billie Piper was definitely a stronger actress. However I don't think the blame lies entirely with Ms Agyeman - her characterisation has also been pretty hampered by her "mooning after the Dr" persona. PLEASE don't let the replacement companion plow the same furrow. More on that topic in a mo...

Second, the news that Aussie popstress and one time Ramsey Street resident Kylie Minogue will be starring in the Dr Who Christmas Special, Voyage of the Damned. I can cope with that. I actually think she'll be rather good, and can just see her playing a kind of early 1900s flapper (And yes, I said flapper...mind you the Charleston and all those dances hadn't really taken off at that stage had they? Okay, an early 1900s chorus girl? A waitress? A saucy cabin girl?)

And the final piece of information, and one which I am less than overjoyed about, is the announcement that Catherine Tate will be reprising her role as Donna Noble (from the 2006 Christmas Special) for the entire Fourth series. Noooo!!!! As much as I admire Ms Tate as an actress and comedienne, I just don't think she's going to work as a long term companion in Dr Who, the limitations of her character being the major reason for this. A full and detailed protestation against the reinstatement of La Noble, in the form of a post by moi, will be forthcoming. Meanwhile my fellow bloggers Steve and Time Warden have already waxed lyrical on this subject, here and here.

What else...well, Gustavo and I have just purchased a digital box for the TV!! Hoorah!! I was very excited. They're actually very cheap - this one cost just £30 - and as a result we have loads more channels and infinitely better picture quality. Before we just had a portable aerial that would sometimes lose reception and the picture would be grainy and generally rather sh*t. I don't know why we put up with it for so long. Now the picture is crystal clear (apart from the odd bit of pixellation or frozen images, but that's cos it's connected to the portable aerial...it's still miles better to watch). Having said that the box does seem to get rather hot on the top when in it's been left turned on for a period of time, which is a bit alarming - I hope it doesn't blow up or anything. Still, I can always buy another one. Perhaps a more expensive one would be more of an investment. Anyone know much about digital boxes? Indulge me, please...

Oh and I've succumbed to the hype and just signed up for Facebook. I guess it's a good way of networking with mates and keeping up with all the latest info. It seems to me to be very similar to My Space, which I never got into before. Any other fellow Face-ies out there? No, I said Face-ies...

And that's my mega update out of the way!! Ta ra for now, folks...

The OC xxx

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Normal service...

...will shortly be resumed.

My return, I assure you readers, is imminent.

In the meantime, on a completely unrelated note, here is a totally gratuitous picture of a near-naked and very young looking Rob Lowe.

But a rather nice piccie nevertheless. Just the kind of thing for the Summer and what's needed to plug the gap. So to speak.

And I have to say Mr Lowe is considerably more attractive than Wendy the Weeping Angel. Maybe he should be the new Testcard boy. Sorry Wendy love, you're ditched.