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Succumbing to Big Brother…

Succumbing to Big Brother…

Ever since I had to spend the summer of 2000 avidly watching and writing about Big Brother 1 (the one with Anna the lesbian nun, Nick the evil Brit and Craig the dumb-but-handsome plumber) for work purposes (oh that glamorous summer), I’ve mostly avoided Big Brother. Especially since it stopped becoming a vaguely interesting look at a cross-section of the British population and became a freak show.

However, this year, interest seems to have really peaked all around me. People keep sneaking into the office with the big TV to watch Big Brother 2006 – because there are two Welsh-language-speaking contestants on it. Although the Welsh gossip network has already informed me that Glyn is actually a nice, quiet and shy boy in real life – then again, I’m not too sure flamboyance would do you much good in Blaenau Ffestiniog.

In a hugely controversial move (well, controversial if you’re in Wales – the rest of the UK couldn’t give a monkeys I’d imagine), Big Brother stopped the two of them from speaking in Welsh (their natural language) to each other.

So there was I, quietly shaking my head at people trooping in and out of the big TV-office just because there happened to be two Welshlanguage-speakers on Big Brother. While secretly hating Lea – a former 22-stone woman who’s had multiple plastic surgery, apparently has the biggest boobs in the UK and says she hates fat people.

Then I get home for the weekend, where my sisters gleefully inform me that, of all things, a British-Chinese woman is a Big Brother contestant.

Bloody hell. Now this is progress. I’ve got no idea what she’s like – whether she’s a future Jane Goodey or a future Anna, but by Jove I’ll have to follow her progress, and probably vote for her to stay each time. If I ever find the time. 14 days till I have to move all my worldly belongings into a storage room and a front room!

Me and Tom Cruise…

Me and Tom Cruise…

Sorry if you’ve been slaverishly logging on every day begging for the latest details on me and Tom Cruise. Your prayers have now been answered, and I shall tell the oh-so-glam story.

Strolling past Leicester Square, I noticed all the tell-tale paraphenalia that a London movie premiere in progress. And given all the satellite trucks, crowds and lights, I presumed it was a big one. Then I saw the billboard for Mission: Impossible 3 and snorted at all the attention being given in the hope that Tom Cruise might turn up – when, as far as I knew, he was (or should have been) back at home looking after little Katie/Kate and Suri.

But as I got closer, I got an inkling that all was not normal for a movie premiere. One side of the Odeon cinema was completely blocked off with a temporary wall – in front of which was a huge monitor relaying footage from a camera on a boom – a lot of effort for a premiere where the stars weren’t going to turn up. The other side of the cinema was blocked off by various gawkers, photographers, stern policemen and security cameras.

Then just when I was getting bored at looking at people looking at TV screens waiting for something to happen, there was a huge uproar from the crowd. Tom Cruise had emerged from the cinema to do his walkabout thang.

Seeing as I know Leicester Square remarkably well, I managed to go through some back alleys, evade the police and security guards and ended up just behind the press cordon, and face to face with ol’ Tommo himself. Unfortunately, he was looking at a bunch of interviewers and patiently asking questions.

Whatever else you say about his insane antics, you have to respect the ability of a short man to concentrate on what’s in front of him when everyone is shouting and throwing things at him in a desperate attempt to grab his attention. Not to mention all the flashbulbs going off left, right and centre.

He looked suspiciously hyper and awake for someone who’s a new dad though…

I've just heard the new Pet Shop Boys single !!!

I've just heard the new Pet Shop Boys single !!!

Browsing through the Internet, I’ve just heard the new Pet Shop Boys single – I’m With Stupid …

It’s got a fantastically boombastic orchestra-meets-Gary-Numan opening, then settles down somewhat after that amazing high to be a traditionally good Pet Shop Boys song, with a reasonable bassline, fantastic lyrics. But the drums on it are awesome. Being a Trevor Horn production, it’s very “wall of sound” – they’ve thrown everything at it in between the lyrics, but it does work. If you ask me.

Must stop being giddy. Listen to it online (unofficially of course) or pick up the Mp3 via your local friendly Bittorrent application.

The Young Ones … shouldn't be afwaid…

The Young Ones … shouldn't be afwaid…

Ahhh The Young Ones. That “classic” British TV sitcom about four young students which inspired me to create one of my first websites and FAQ back in 1994. 12 years ago. *gulp*

That website got me to where I am today. Lying in the gutter looking at the Star Bar and dreaming of a time when I was namechecked by Microsoft, Yahoo, Future Publishing and it got my foot in the door at the BBC. Amazing how I still, to this day, get the odd £10/US$50 voucher for sending people to amazon to buy the videos. It probably made more money than most of my dotcom employers in the late 90s.

The Young Ones was the Trojan Horse that allowed alternative comedy to sneak into British television sitcom land, and television comedy was never the same again. Indeed, one can argue that The Young Ones started the process by which traditional sitcoms have now apparently been killed off.

Ironic really, that when you watch The Young Ones again 22 years (!) on, it’s *so* horribly dated in a way that even older sitcoms (eg Fawlty Towers) just hasn’t.

Anyway, that short quick trip down memory lane was just an excuse to link to these video clips – one from the show itself:

An advert for the Young Ones computer game from the mid-80s. The graphics are amazing, the voiceover is an astoundingly bad impersonation of “Vyvyan” – and I still have no idea what you do in the game.

UPDATE: You can download the game, although you will still need a handy Commodore 64 emulator to get it to run on your PC. and there’s a walkthrough on how to play the game – although on the C64 version, there’s a bug which means you can’t win as Rik. That’s what you get for voting Tory.

On with the video clips. This is an MTV commercial for the accompanying album Neil’s Heavy Concept Album. A horrible mash-up of oh-so-British nostalgia and heavy American selling techniques.

(Found via screenhead.com)

And finally,

When you know too much about Spaced

When you know too much about Spaced

Back in 2001, amidst the turmoil that was going on in my London life, a rare treat was watching Spaced. The perfect sitcom for UK pop-culture-obsessives, it was cosy, fun, trendy, hip and for a while I could bask in pretending that I knew people like Tim and Daisy, fellow pop-culture-obsessed afficiandos with a huge dose of dry wit, slightly zany adventures and genuinely interesting – if weird – people all around them.

Skip to the end of 2005, and Skarlett (bless her cotton socks) gives me the definitive Spaced: Collectors’ Edition DVD for my birthday. thank you. With the 80-minute documentary all about the making of Spaced. As it says on the box inlay, “particular thanks if you’ve already purchased the existing version (which I did) … and you’re buying it all over again for the new bits. That’s exactly the sort of thing a Spaced fan would do.”

But it’s a little disappointing. Not because of the content or the episodes – which are still hilarious if you are a pop-culture-obsessed film/TV fiend hankering after a fantasy version of twentysomething flat-sharing and bar-hopping instead of sitting along on a Friday night with your ramen noodles.

But because Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson are not Tim and Daisy. I had somehow managed to naively think that because Spaced seemed so real, man, that if I happened to bump into Pegg/Stevenson in the street, we’d have a cool conversation, man. Or (more than likely) end up gibbering into my shoes like Suw would have done.

But I’m watching the documentary, with Simon/Jessica retracing their Spaced shooting footsteps. Simon looks insufferably cool in some Diesel sunglasses, while Jessica is looking radiant with cleavage to match. Cleavage ?! There was no cleavage in Spaced, let me tell you.

Plus, I always thought Spaced was a mega-cool sitcom. The geek sitcom for geeks who wouldn’t countenance silly things like dressing up. But lo and behold, there were apparently Spaced conventions where people dressed up like the characters.

The documentary is, however, worth it just for the little coda where they pick up Tim and Daisy as they would be now.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m late for my meeting with my therapist in a vain attempt to get over my fear of zombies so I can watch Shaun of the Dead.

"Dip me in chocolate and throw me to the lesbians"

"Dip me in chocolate and throw me to the lesbians"

I’m sure that phrase has been around since, like, forever, man. Certainly I’ve seen T-shirts with that phrase on various London dodgy stalls for at least five years.

But it turns out that not everyone knows it. Strange Cousin Susan has only just discovered it, and is using it with great gusto in her workplace. Which is in California – a place, I’d have thought, which would have discovered it a long time ago.

The only source I can find for said quote is from Jerry Springer: The Opera but it must have come from someone else before then. Surely? Any ideas?

Aside from anything else, why lesbians? Wouldn’t the phrase work just as well if it was “Dip me in chocolate and throw me to the chocolate nymphomaniacs”? I’m not particularly aware of any chocolate fetish amongst lesbians – at least, no more so than your average woman…

What's the point in learning how to pole dance?

What's the point in learning how to pole dance?

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but you can now sign up for pole dancing lessons. However, I have to ask, why ?!

I’m hardly a bra-burning feminist, but why on earth would women sign up to this? It doesn’t exactly look easy or fun, and women are perfectly capable of dancing and looking remarkably sexy without having to resort to dancing next to a metal pole.

Or am I missing the virtues of pole dancing?

Funny lip-synching Chinese dudes

Funny lip-synching Chinese dudes

Stuck in an airport for six hours? Baggage carousel for 30 minues before realising US Airways never even bothered transporting your suitcase in the first place? Taxi rank for 10 minutes?

Literally minutes and hours of endless amusement were found by me camply lip-synching on our recent trip in New York to Miss R to whatever music was around. Either that or reading aloud theatrically from the SkyMall catalogue. (Not to worry, Miss R got her own revenge by constantly extolling the virtues of her new discovery, a wrap sandwich US-style).

However, what I thought was just a silly thing between me, myself and Miss R has been knocked aside by the realisation that this hilarious video of two Chinese dudes lipsynching to I Want It That Way and other Backstreet Boyz hits shows how, with a little rehearsal and a co-conspirator (and perhaps a thinner chin), I could have been an (Internet for 10 milliseconds) sooperstar. Drat.

Or maybe I just need to find a co-conspirator. Geoff, how’s about it? 😉

Time-travelling Madonna

Time-travelling Madonna

If you’ve got a radio, then by now you’ll have heard Madonna’s new single Hung Up, which contains an interesting sample from Abba’s Gimme Gimme Gimme. By the time the single’s released in November, we’ll all be heartily fed up of it. You mark my words, young man.

The only reason I can think of why Madonna – who’s been around for 25+ years, let’s not forget – would need to sample an ancient Abba disco track would be if she was trying to reference in some way the history of disco from then till now, but didn’t want to resort to obvious cliches like Staying Alive. or Dancing Queen.

The thing is, see, if I was a clever producer who was tasked with finding a sample that would reference the early days of disco, wouldn’t it have been dead clever to actually use a sample from one of Madonna’s early hits, such as Lucky Star?

Then again, this is probably why I’m not a disco music producer.

ADDENDUM: In doing research for this post – ie a Google blog search I’m amazed at how almost every mention of the song has the word “gay” in there somewhere. Call me a gaydar-less idiot, but I still can’t see how a bunch of musical notes, drumbeats and riffs can relate to human sexuality. Then again, my favourite artist is still the Pet Shop Boys.

Of all the things to provoke nostalgia…

Of all the things to provoke nostalgia…

They say nostalgia can attack you in all sorts of ways. But I never thought watching a cheap-but-slightly-cool and clever stop-motion animation video from a college student would make me nostalgic for my times at university. Even if I hardly ever spent any time with a video camera, I *could* have done. and had the time and no brief in order to do something as inanely silly as that…

*sigh*

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