31 October, 2005

Halloween is Happy

I have never really bought in to the whole 'Halloween' thing. Where I grew up it just didn't really matter as much. A few years ago, I spent Halloween with a friend in New Jersey and realised how much importance certain cultures place upon it! It was pretty exciting too, but still didn't encourage me to celebrate it in my own environment subsequently.

Something big happened for me last year on Halloween. I dumped my partner. We had been together for nearly two years, and if I'm to be completely honest, that was about 20 months longer than I should have stayed with him. The reasons behind that are complex (and probably not that interesting to anyone but me) so I won't bore you with that now.

After I left him though, many of my suspicions about his behaviour during our relationship were confirmed. The most significant being that he was/is a liar.

Even though I don't think I was ever truly in love with him, betrayal is something I don't deal with as an individual. It has also taken me a while to realise that that I wasn't all sweetness and light during the relationship either. In fact, I think I was pretty awful. As a result, it's taken me about this long to start feeling OK about who I am.

So for me, Halloween this year is a time for celebration.

"Good" not "God" Parent

Some years ago, two very close friends of mine asked me if I would be a "non-God parent" (none of us are religious) when they had children. I said yes unreservedly as I really love this couple and felt honoured to have been asked. None of us, however, were expecting for them to have triplets.

After they were born, my friends decided to leave London (they lived in a 2 bedroom apartment on the top floor of a building in central London with no elevator.... 5 flights of stairs with three babies is an interesting concept...) due mostly to the fact that they couldn't afford to continue living here with five mouths to feed instead of two.

So they moved to Sheffield, where they first met at university. Nearer their parents, a relatively diverse city, etc. It hasn't been a smooth ride, they both miss London and their friends immensely, and often feel that people there don't 'get' them.

My weekends spent with them in Sheffield are always pretty surreal, thought I'd share some images from this one. In case you're wondering... the bed and the dolls are actually in the room I slept in. Let's just say it took me quite a while to get to sleep. And when I woke, I had a facial tic.

28 October, 2005

Can a heart still break after it's stopped beating?

I was quite disappointed with Tim Burton when I went to see "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" a couple of months ago. I thought he would have done much more with the amazing Roald Dahl story and that he missed the mark slightly with the characterisation of Willy Wonka (played by Johnny Depp).

So it was with a certain amount of trepidation that FBF (Flatmate/Best Friend) and I went to see Tim Burton's "Corpse Bride" last night at the cinema. I was also very excited about it, having loved "The Nightmare Before Christmas" so much.

And I'm very pleased to report that I loved the movie. In my opinion, it is exactly what Burton is best at. Gothic, spindly, sombre characters who seem to constantly face some type of twisted moral conundrum or the other.

The animation was beautiful, the characters were superb and the overall feel of the film was stunning. It was a perfect pre-Halloween treat, and I shall be buying it on DVD when it is released to sit neatly next to my copy of "The Nightmare before Christmas".

Oh, and I've decided that Victor Everglot is my boyfriend of the week. Sorry Haruki, you've just been dumped. "Kafka on the Shore" was good, but not the masterpiece I'd hoped for. Anyway, Victor and I look better together. We're both long and spindly.

26 October, 2005

Tuesday night filmfest

Last night I watched two films on DVD, the first was Todd Solondz's "Palindromes".

I love Todd Solondz. His films make me laugh so much that I cry. Perhaps that's the point?

Peter Travers from the Rolling Stone said: "Solondz likes to put the screws to moral hypocrisy. As always, he goes too far. As always, you don't want to look away."

"Palindromes" for me, was no exception. A few of my uncomfortable laughter moments follow:

1. Mother: "Am I terrible mother?"
Aviva: "Everybody makes mistakes."

2. Aviva: "Can you still get pregnant when it goes in there?"

3. Girl at Mama Sunshines': "... I don't remember any of this. But this is what I found out aftermy mother overdosed, choking on her own vomit."

4. Boy at Mama Sunshines' (said in a cheery, exciteable mood): "... I'm Carlito! I'm epileptic!" (others laugh heartily)

5. Mama Sunshines' singers (sung in a pop song stylee): "Nobody else could ever love you this way... Nobody eeeelse but Jesus!"

6. and another by the fabulous singing group (again sung in a Britney Spears stylee): "You gotta fight for the children, you know they would fight for you!"

I understand that decontextualised, these quotes are going to make me look like a complete weirdo. Oh well. Never mind.

The second movie I watched was "Spongebob Squarepants: The Movie". Again, pure genius. My very favourite scene was when Patrick Star the starfish was in fishnet tights and hooker boots towards the end.

I love Patrick. "Did I miss something? Did you see my butt?!"

24 October, 2005

Monkey Magic

FBF (Flatmate/Best Friend) and I decided to get out of London on the weekend. Sometimes it just has to be done. We did, however, have a very specific place we wanted to visit... Monkey World.

FBF has been obsessed with this show called "Monkey Business" on TV for some time now, set in a monkey sanctuary in Dorset that rescues monkeys from all over the world and bring them back here to be rehabilitated in to social groups. Many of the apes have been in extremely dire situations - some of them are used as photographers props, or in the case of Spanish 'Beach Chimps' are dressed up in human clothes and made to work in tourist resorts. There large canine teeth have often been crudely removed so they can't harm people and have often been badly abused and beaten by their human owners.

When FBF first started watching this show, I'll admit that I wasn't convinced. Monkeys?! I mean, whatever. But over time, I've grown to become quite attached to various chimps in the sanctuary, and their keepers (who are all so tirelessly dedicated). In fact, I even "adopted" a chimp for FBF's recent birthday so she is now a very proud mother of a young chimp called Seamus. (unfortunately he doesn't really look like FBF... quite a bit more hairy).

When we walked in to Monkey World on Sunday, I can't tell you how excited we were to be seeing these 'stars' in the flesh. We saw FBF's child, Seamus - who was incredibly naughty but looks like he will grow in to quite the alpha male (and wasn't FBF proud); Charlie - who was a photographer's prop in Spain and when he first arrived at Monkey World was a drug addict, had a broken jaw, cataracts, and only four teeth; Mike - one of the keepers who is often featured on the show; and of course... Gordon the Orangutan, who is quite a favourite in our place also.

We were both suitably starstruck and walked around with huge grins on our faces. Both of us have sighted a variety of 'celebrities' during our time in London, but none have incited the same level of excitement as these little critters. People may think we're dorks, but hey. What do I care? For us, it was a supercool day out.

A fantastic added bonus was that where we stayed in Dorset was incredibly near the coast.

Having grown up by the sea, I miss the ocean terribly living in London. Being landlocked creates demons in my brain sometimes I think... It just frees me instantly to look out over the ocean, hear the waves and smell the salt of the sea.

And what a coastline. The coast near where I grew up is long, white sandy beaches... but Dorset was amazing white cliffs, so stark and dramatic - I was awestruck.

19 October, 2005

Fact or Fiction?

JT LeRoy, the author of that brilliant piece of fiction "Sarah" as well as his supposed 'factual' memoirs "The Heart is Deceitful above all Things" is being discussed by the New York Magazine quite a bit at the moment... or more specifically, the idea that JT LeRoy is 'just a character himself'.

I read "Sarah" quite some time ago now, and absolutely loved the book. It was a bizarre, fantastic, almost mythical journey with a collection of wonderful and disturbing characters - all which required a decent suspension of disbelief.

Not long after I read LeRoy's "memoirs" ("Heart is Deceitful...") and was intrigued all over. They were brutal, horrific and exhilirating to read. Subsequently I attended a screening of Asia Argento's film adaptation of these memoirs at the NFT which JT LeRoy attended in person; and did a 'speech' before the screening.

He came out holding Asia Argento's hand, his face barely visible behind a long blonde wig and big black hat; the only distinguishing feature was the bright red lips he mumbled from. Upon being handed the microphone he somehow, painstakingly managed to read out an introduction to the film which we had been handed a typed copy of upon entering the cinema regardless in an almost incoherent, childlike voice. It was evident that the cinema crowd were becoming more and more uncomfortable during the reading.

At the time I remember thinking: 'Is this for real?' I had read these stories which were emotional but seemingly strong; I had a sense of this individual having lived through so much torment (much at the hands of his own mother), yet still here to tell the tale in a rich, evocative way. And here was this mumbling, shy, incoherent mess of a creature standing in disguise at the front of the cinema trying to string a couple of sentences together.

Soon after this, I read a host of discussion boards that focussed on the idea that JT LeRoy was actually an 'invented' character, and not real at all. I remember throwing my two bits in at the time by saying 'who cares?'...

What really interested me was some of the *extreme* reactions of people to the idea that his entire character was invented. Here's just one example:

As readers we've been lied to again. He doesn't exist. He never existed. And those of us who believed in him have been betrayed. Thanks a lot, JT, for making us think someone else felt the way I did instead of using my emotions as a means to pad their pocket and exploit their own need for literary/hipster cool "credibility." You'll pay in hell!

hhhhmmmmm. Say no more.

I personally love 'JT LeRoy's' writing and if he is 'invented' then I like the character that has been invented. Much like Andy Warhol who created a persona which he felt more comfortable presenting to the public - this writer (whoever that may be) has created a persona to write through.

So JT LeRoy, please keep on writing - and I will keep on reading.

17 October, 2005

Trash Time

She could have won the entire competition... if only they'd put her through.

I've looked at my last few posts and realised that it has all been a bit serious, so have decided to write about Saturday evening's trashy excitement: X Factor.

Yes, that's right. My Saturday evening was spent with OBF (Other Best Friend) and his partner, watching Simon Cowell et al on the first live show of the X Factor.

And what a show it was. Louis Walsh proved himself to be even more of a twat than was previously imagined (as difficult as that sounds);

Sharon appeared to have had even MORE botox to go with her new 'youth' look hair style (you've gotta love the woman);

and Simon Cowell (oh let's not go there, I have a soft spot for him for some strange reason. He's one of my "I'll never admit it but I kinda fancy him" people... Oops. Did I just admit that?)

Even more exciting, however, was how each and every act 'mentored' by Louis Walsh already seem to be morphing in to an act he has managed previously. i.e.

Shayne = Ronan Keating/somebody from Boyzone
Phillip = Any member of Westlife
Nicholas = A member of Boyzone/Weslife (how Louis managed that I don't know... he has a talent)
Chenai = Samantha Mumba (remember her??)

Yes, the guy's a fully fledged twat. But by gosh, he just adds to the superb trashiness of the show.

I admit it.

I'm completely obsessed and am now busy for the next 11 Saturday evenings.

14 October, 2005

Anxious Edvard

During my lunch break today I wandered down to the Royal Academy to take a gander at "Edvard Munch By Himself", an exhibition mostly of his self portraits.

Now, I obviously knew a few of his pieces (I mean, who doesn't know "The Scream") and didn't know what to expect above those really.

So it was a really pleasant surprise to be completely and utterly blown away. Most compelling were the pieces around his relationship with various woman (the most significant, in my opinion, being Tulla Larsen - it was so evident he ended up hating her!)

There was much discussion through the course of the exhibition about Munch's madness, but I'm not sure I think he was mad. (what is the definition of mad, anyway?) I think he was just incredibly anxious and lonely - and through the mass of self portraits he painted he was just trying to find out who Edvard Munch was.

Mr Muscle.

So, I was walking to work this morning from the bus stop through Mayfair... and Antony & the Johnsons' "Cripple and the Starfish" starts playing on my Ipod.

I've listened to the song before, yet this time, I listen to the lyrics a little more intently, and start crying. Yes, crying in the middle of Berkeley Square, Mayfair - all thanks to Antony. You can just hear the pain in his voice.

At first, I felt kinda embarrassed, but after a while I just let it all out. I mean, there's no point in not letting yourself go once in a while, is there?

And I can tell you, the Mayfair-ites didn't know where to look. Obviously they don't do tears.

The power of music, hey?

At first listen I wasn't convinced by Antony and the Johnsons' music, but now I'm obsessed. Bloody brilliant.

12 October, 2005

Praying for Charlie

oh... a slight update on 'Charlie, the naughtiest dog in the universe' post:

poor little Charlie has had to go in for an urgent operation to remove a possible cancerous lump from her side. she is now out of surgery and feeling much better. But obviously we are all worried it might be more significant.

so I am urging all to pray/send positive vibes/think about (depending on your stance) my little princess of a neice. please.

otherwise I will cry.

my new husband

It is a dark, cool, quiet place. A basement in your soul. And that place can sometimes be dangerous to the human mind. I can open the door and enter that darkness, but I have to be very careful. I can find my story there. Then I bring that thing to the surface, into the real world.

Haruki Murakami. My husband of the week.

10 October, 2005

I'm a little teapot

Sunday I went with a friend to see the Hayward's latest exhibition "Universal Experience - Art, Life and the Tourist's Eye".

I wasn't sure what to expect with this exhibition, and when we first walked in I wasn't convinced I was going to like it that much. The first room seemed a little odd, I've never been a fan of Jeff Koons' work - and his piece 'Bear and Policeman' did nothing to change that view. Maybe I'm just not clever enough.

However, the second room of the exhibition was an amazing installation. The piece was called The Moment (2004) by Doug Aitken and at first was quite disorientating - a darkened room, with only the light of the numerous hanging LCD screens. The piece was around journey and apparently the disorientation of waking in an unfamiliar place and was really beautiful; I spent at least 15 minutes in there and if it wasn't for the fact that there was most of the exhibition left to see, would have spent a lot longer.

There were other highlights obviously, it was a well curated exhibition, but worth mentioning (and the reference in my header of this post) was the piece in the Sculpture Garden - Zhan Wang's Urban Landscape. Basically this artist has recreated the London skyline with stainless steel tableware - so cool! Although my mate and I wanted a 'key' so we could work out what was what... we got as far as Big Ben and the London Eye!

05 October, 2005

Starship Troopers... Version 2

No, unfortunately not the Sarah Brightman song... although that would have been tres exciting.

Last night I went to a pre-screening of 'Serenity' at the Rex Bar, organised by a mate of OBF (Other Best Friend) and his partner.

Now, I'm a bit of a geek who likes the whole Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre - although quite often feel disappointed by the whole Hollywood treatment.

Serenity was very impressive. At least production wise. I mean, the special effects were amazing; the cast were all pretty gorgeous; the whole film had a slickness that the plebby public have come to expect from such a film. But what did amuse me somewhat was the writing.

Remember Paul Verhoeven's 'Starship Troopers'? When I saw that film I was pretty delighted by the fact that somebody had made a parody of the genre. Awful acting, deliberately cheesy, and in fact, the script was both witty and clever.

There was something reminiscent of this in 'Serenity'. The writers are obviously attempting at humour... but somehow it never really seems to work. I mean, don't get me wrong... there are *some* amusing moments - but I don't think they were the moments we were supposed to be laughing at.

Scott Weinberg from EFILMCRITIC.COM said that Serenity was "the cleverest, crankiest, wittiest, wildest, and most character-driven sci-fi adventure in 25 years; it's the best outer-space trip I've been on since the empire struck back."

Perhaps I missed something?

I say bring back Sarah Brightman.

03 October, 2005

Signing of the Breast

I was invited to a private party at the Rex Cinema and Bar on Friday night with some friends - the evening was supposed to include a private screening of 'Paris is Burning', which is one of my all time favourite documentaries... however, it unfortunately never happened ....

Apparently, there was another private screening taking part earlier in the evening, for Gene Simmons' Rock School.

Now, this screening was supposed to be finished by about 9.30pm, so that we could get in to the cinema afterwards and watch our film about drag queen 'balls' in New York City, which went on to inspire Madonna's Vogue.

At around 10.45pm (when we were fairly sure we weren't going to see the film), a gaggle of busty women emerged from the cinema, flanking a bloated, coiffured man - Mr Simmons himself.

Now, don't get me wrong - I was a *huge* KISS fan when I was younger. In fact, such a dedicated fan was I that my mother queued for 16 hours to secure myself and my mate tickets to their live rock concert at the Perth Entertainment Centre. And then humiliated me by making me wear cotton wool in my ears during the concert (I mean, as if it wasn't shameful enough having to go to the concert with my mother?! I was only 7 years old, but still!!)

So I was somewhat excited about seeing Gene in the flesh (and what a lot of flesh there was...). The climactic point of the event, however, was when a random woman from within the bar area walked straight up to Gene Simmons and got out her left boob (nipple and all) for him to autograph. What?!! I mean, the man must be in his fifties; is fat and bloated from years of excess, and has a hairstyle that puts Oprah Winfrey to shame!

I have to say though, there was a fleeting moment when I thought I could have asked him so sign my left buttock....