Friday, March 31, 2006

Brighton, we have a problem

Yeah so just when everything starts to come together in my life, something comes along and whips the rug right out from under me.

Those of you keeping up with current events will know that I took a job in Brighton with a view to working freelance for the NY company in my spare time and then going to NY in October and working for them full time. I've been with my Brighton job for two weeks now and I really enjoy the job and my boss is lovely Factoring in it's a tiny team of us (there's 5 of us) dealing with a LOT of work, one person leaving does have a huge effect. And so I dropped the NY people a line earlier in the week as the visa applications open on Monday to see how things were progressing. And that's when they tell me they are opening a London office and would love me to work there full time until October when they'd transfer me to NYC.

Now of course, I'm thrilled. But as well as Brighton, I am also going to be fucking over my friend who has been my savior since I got back to the UK. I can't stay in Brighton when I work full time in London, it's just not feasible, especially when I live a 20 minute walk (up a hill, people) from the train station in Brighton, AND there's a subway journey the other end to get to the office. And the train journey itself is an hour. If it runs on time, though I have frequently taken the train and the journey has taken 75 minutes. My friend currently lives with her emotionally fragile sister and this week I started paying said sister some rent as she is moving out in July to live with her boyfriend. Originally, I was going to take over her room until October and give my friend some more breathing space to find someone else to move in. You know, that's the least I could do after being allowed to live here rent free for 5 months. But now I need to find a way to tell her that this can no longer happen. I don't think I will even try and get out of paying the sister the back rent I owe her though.

Why is nothing in my life ever simple? WHY couldn't my US employers have offered me this in the fucking first place and I could have been back in London by now, temping there and waiting for the office to be set up and everybody's happy? Why do I now have to completely uproot myself, ruin my friend and her sister's plan not to mention piss off my lovely boss? I have already decided I will give her as much notice as possible to replace me AND stay and train the newbie so to make it as smooth and painless as possible for her. Also, this means I can give my friend and her sister the same amount of notice. Hopefully this will soften the blows all round, but I'd much rather not have to deal with this.

Still, I'm keeping my eyes on the prize and I have to remember in the long run I am achieving something I have wanted for years. I could have done with less collateral damage though, I have to admit.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Dream a little dream of me

Have you ever had a dream so effed up that you have realised it's a dream but then you've woken up and can't remember anything about it except it was effed up? Anyone? Since discovering such a thing was possible, I have been having a go at what's called "lucid dreaming". It hasn't been at all successful so far though last night I did get as far as realising it was a dream. Which was something. All I remember is at the end of the dream, I was watching a concert that seemed to be given by Alanis Morrissette and a very very young Eliza Dushku on backing vocals. And the song they were singing was wedged in my head for about an hour after I woke up and then it was forgotten.

Work at AmEx is fun. I'm already really good at the job and the boss loves me so there you are. I think it was helped by the fact that the girl who started the same day as me is as dumb as a box of hair. Within the first few hours, she had asked about working overtime for a different department which of course went down like a lead balloon. Since then, it's been so crazy that there have been two opportunities for overtime and she has not stayed on. Is it me?

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Oh how I wish I was a kid again

I'm troubled. The other day I was listening to Ute Lemper's album Berlin Cabaret Songs most of which were written in response to the rise of Nazism and the end of Weimar Germany and WWII. What was so horribly troubling about these incredible songs was how they are all still relevant to the world today. And their relevance actually increases with each passing day. One song in particular strikes such a chord with what is happening in the USA right now I have decided to transcribe the lyrics here. It's called Munchhausen:


I came across a wondrous tree, as prickly as a porcupine
This cactus tree bore luscious fruit and giant roses red as wine
It rose so high into the sky, its top was far far out of sight
Its leaves recoiled from the day and then they turned to gold at night
And if you bored into its bark, hot coffee poured out rich and dark


Chorus:
Liar liar liar liar liar liar
I'm sick and tired of lies from you
But how I wish your lies were true
Liar liar liar liar liar liar
Truth is hard and tough as nails
That's why we need fairy tales
I'm all through with logical conclusions
Why should I deny myself illusions?

I saw a film the other day that really varied from the norm
There were no soldiers on parade and no-one marched in uniform
Its heroes were not supermen and no-one even shot a gun
The audience still loved the film though not a single war was won
But I was really shocked to see this film was made in Germany


Chorus

I saw a court of law where all the justices were just again
Where all the lawyers worked for free and all of them were honest men
You could be rich, you could be poor, you could be Christian or a Jew
Your politics did not have sway on how a judge would rule on you
Their hearts were young, their minds were free, they judged all man equally

I saw a woman trying hard to feed her family of ten
She was poor and destitute and worse was pregnant once again
She knew what they would say in church, she sought a doctor out instead
Who told her if she had the child, she herself might well end dead
Then in the calm and gentle voice he said "the law says it's your choice"


Chorus

I saw a brave republic where one banner flew for all to see
Its stripes of red and black and gold proclaim a new democracy
All banners from the past were banned, the empire's black and white and red
Yes now the black and red and gold was flying everywhere instead
And nowhere will you see those flags which sport the thing that zigs and zags


Chorus

I saw a land that hated war and melted all its weapons down
to build a boat of love for kids who planned to sail from town to town
declaring peace for all the world, let killing now come to an end
Embrace your enemies instead, your former foe is now your friend
Every conflict now will cease and all of us will live in peace


Chorus


While I was trying to find the lyrics on a website to save myself having to type them out I came across some reviews for the cabaret show Lemper did last year called Blood & Feathers where she performed this song and all of them mention the continuing relevance of the song. But there also many others on the same CD that could have been written last year rather than 60 odd years ago, The Lavender Song, Chuck Out The Men!, Oh How We Wish That We Were Kids Again all sent chills down my spine as I listened to them. I would love someone other than Lemper to re-interpret these songs and bring them back into the public eye, use them to make a statement, someone like oh I don't know Megan Mullally maybe. She has proven with a couple of tracks that she has the right sound and style to tackle songs from Weill and Brecht, she could if she so desired extend that repertoire. I would love to see it done. Alas, it's all a pipe dream.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Three What Of Who Now?

It's been a few days since I last blogged. I haven't really been feeling it. I wanted to write and entry about The Hills Have Eyes but it was even worse than I feared it would be and I really couldn't bring myself to talk about it. Saw some other films but even though I enjoyed these a whole lot more (The Proposition, Syriana), I again couldn't be bothered to blog about them. Plus I fell asleep for 10 minutes half way through Syriana and consequently had no freaking clue what was happening for the rest of the damn film.

Today I went to an early(ish) press screening of The Three Burials Of Melquiades Estrada which is utterly tremendous. While Tommy Lee Jones still mumbles like a son of a bitch and I still hate him for winning the Oscar for his long distance phone call of a performance in The Fugitive over Leonardo DiCaprio in What's Eating Gilbert Grape, there's no denying he's a very fine director. And it's nice that Barry Pepper can still get work after Battlefield Earth.

Also over the weekend, I went to see V For Vendetta. Its five month delay didn't fill me with a great deal of hope I must admit, especially as the reason for the delay was a load of shit (the London bombings were cited, yet the film was scheduled to open in November, the bombings occurred in July and furthermore, the original "remember remember" campaign for the original release date didn't start until AFTER the bombings). Also, it has the taint of the Wachowski brothers involvement, who will never be forgiven for the Matrix sequels. Ever. So I was truly surprised when it was extremely entertaining and, for a first time director, very confidently put together. Natalie Portman was astonishing as Evey, nailing the accent (not without the occasional slip, but hey) and delivering a very nuanced performance. There were unexpected delights in the shape of Stephen Fry and Rupert Graves as well as a level of intelligence and ideas not commonly associated with films like these. The imagery at the end of the film was very powerful indeed.

In other news, tomorrow I enter back into the world of full time employment. I have been out of work now since July 9th 2005 and I am so ready to have a job again I can't even tell you. It's with American Express, so hopefully there will be some fun benefits to the job. We'll see. I start at 10am, then it's Mon-Fri 9-5. I haven't had a schedule like that in 6 years, so it should be fun.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Bree Season

Yeah, I know I know, the title is a pun, not a typo. This season of Desperate Housewives without a doubt belongs to Bree Van Der Kamp and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Marcia Cross do a clean sweep of the award shows next year. Over here in the UK we are only up to the death of scary George after Bree discovers he offed her husband, so it's all to play for but already she's had so many incredible moments and has nailed every single one of them. Last year the awards initially went to Teri Hatcher, presumably to celebrate the fact she wasn't starving in a gutter somewhere, before finally they realised that the first season in fact belonged to Felicity Huffman. Hopefully the fact that this season has been decidedly weak so far won't deny Marcia Cross from her rightful moment of glory.

And speaking of characters named Bree, I saw a press screening of Transamerica this morning. There's been much hoo ha over Felicity Huffman winning a huge amount of awards and missing out on the Oscar for her performance. And it is an incredible performance, subtle, measured, pretty much pitch perfect. Unfortunately, the formulaic script and direction undermine her incredible characterisation. The rest of the film is full of stereotypes rather than characters and nothing is really resolved in a satisfactory manner. I was just left thinking that while the film deserved a lot of praise for a lack of sentimentality and mawkishness and the sensitive handling of the subject matter, it could have been better. Kevin Zegers was distractingly beautiful and very talented as her wayward teenage son, but even he was nothing but a collection of clich├ęs and the big moment of discovery with Bree's identity is horribly forced. So it's a case of nearly but not quite. Ah well.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Keep repeating "It's only a movie, it's only a movie...."

Ok, I was going to stay out of talking about the Oscars and the fact that Brokeback Mountain didn't win Best Picture because I didn't care. I disagreed so strongly with so many of the nominations and some people who were overlooked that the second they were announced, I stopped caring. Consequently when Crash (a film I really enjoyed) pulled of that upset, I was pleased for the film but I wasn't bothered. I wasn't surprised either. Race is something the Academy have been relentlessly bashed about for years and years and years and it's something that they have addressed in the past few years with the "historic" year of Halle Berry and Denzel Washington winning being the starting point. Morgan Freeman has won, Don Cheadle and Sophie Okenedo have been nominated and so on. So is it surprising that a film set in present day Los Angeles and dealing with just how widespread racism really is and the effects it can have scoops Best Picture? Not to me. This way they can finally say they're not racist. And they did it with a good and worthwhile, if occasionally forced and heavy handed, movie. But of course, not everyone sees it that way. There has been such an insane amount of uproar since the Oscars that I have become increasingly embarrassed for people who are getting themselves in such a tizzy over what is, at the end of the day, an awards show. For movies.

The Academy has been accused of homophobia. But that just doesn't wash. The entertainment industry is the gayest one there is and if major Hollywood stars have sham marriages, it isn't because Hollywood is homophobic, but because Hollywood thinks the world is. They've happily doled out Oscars to gay performances (Tom Hanks in Philadelphia, William Hurt in Kiss Of The Spiderwoman, hell they even awarded Linda Hunt Best Supporting Actress for playing a man in The Year Of Living Dangerously) and nominated them all over the shop too (The Crying Game got a truckload of nominations and only won a couple, I don't recall this kind of furore happening then). In 1970, Midnight Cowboy and its openly gay director John Schlesinger were awarded Best Picture and Director. The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert rightly won Best Costume Design and Tim Chappel accepted the award in a dress. So it's not like they've NEVER awarded edgy gay material or people before ever. Ok, it's not like they do it very often, but if Hollywood could come to understand that the world isn't as homophobic as it thinks, and all the closeted talent came out, we'd find they've awarded a whole lot more gay people than we realise.

So why am I blogging about it now. What was the straw that broke the camel's back? (did you see what I did there?) Well, dear readers, it was this. Click it and read it if you feel like wading through 240 pages of ridiculousness. In short, DaveCullen.com and all the people who frequent the message boards there were so upset that Jack & Ennis's love was killed by the Academy (that's a direct quote from them) that they decided to raise money to place an ad in Variety proclaiming that Brokeback was the best picture of the year and listing all the other awards the film has won. The cost? In excess of EIGHTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS. Could they think of nothing better to spend the money on? Is anyone who voted for Crash picking up Variety this morning and going "oh well this makes all the difference! What was I thinking? Rescind the award!"? Of course they aren't. More likely, they're dismissing the ad out of hand. And who, frankly, could blame them? Let's not lose sight of the fact that it's a film. An important film, but still a film. And it's a film, I would wager, whose importance isn't diminished by losing the Oscar. But if anyone associated with the film opened Variety today and thought anything other than "Dear God, is this for real?", I'd be hugely surprised.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Getting to know me

So I was emailed one of those question things that everyone loves to send so much. Rather than email it to people, I decided to fill it in and put it on my blog, just for the fun of it. So here it is.



1.. What time did you get up this morning?

Ugh, woke up at some ungodly hour of 8:30am but then refused to get out of bed until 10:15am


2.. Diamonds or pearls?

Diamonds. Oh, and pearls.


3.. What was the last film that you saw at the cinema?

The New World and for the fourth time ever in my life, I walked out of a film. It was so very painfully slow and incoherent and when, at the 90 minute mark, a red headed English maid popped up with a "cor blimey lawd luv a duck" accent, I was like "ok, I have had enough" and made a run for it.

4.. What is your favorite TV show?

Do I have to pick just one? Ok then, Six Feet Under

5.. What did you have for breakfast?

Toasted cheese sandwich. Health health health.


6.. What is your middle name?

William.

7.. What is your favorite cuisine?

Chinese!


8.. What foods do you dislike?

Brussel sprouts with a passion. I was forced to eat cold undercooked sprouts on a school trip so as not to upset the chef and have never to this day eaten another.

9.. What is your favorite potato chip?

Baked Doritos.


10.. What is your favorite CD at the moment?

I'm VERY fond of the "Official Bootlegs" that Tori Amos put out, I have to say.


11.. What kind of car do you drive?

First of all, I can't afford to own a car. Second of all, if I could afford it, I still wouldn't. I wasn't the safest of drivers, so I think for everyone's sanity, it's best I don't drive.


12.. Favorite sandwich?

Mozzerella, ham and cheese on toasted ciabatta.


13.. What characteristics do you despise?

Well, people who know me who are reading this know the answer to this one. Passive aggressive behavior drives me absolutely up the fucking wall.


14.. What are your favorite clothes?

I'm really not much of a clothes horse. T shirt and jeans does me fine.


15.. If you could go anywhere on vacation, where
WOULDN'T you go?

Anywhere that requires a pre trip vaccination.


16.. What is your eye color?

Blue/green.


17.. Favorite brand of clothing?

Well, when I can afford and fit into them, I plan to shop at Guess? a whole hell of a lot.


18.. Where would you like to retire?

Hell, when I get to NY, I am never leaving.


19.. Favorite time of day?

Twilight, whatever time it happens to be.


20.. Where were you born?

RAF Hospital in Ely, I do believe.


21.. Favorite sport to watch?

I have a few. Ice skating, gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics and diving.


22.. Coke or Pepsi?

This is a tough one. I do love diet coke. And I love vanilla diet coke with a passion, but it's slowly disappearing. But I also adore diet wild cherry pepsi and the new pepsi max coffee flavor is divine.


23.. Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Very much a night owl. Mornings should be outlawed.


24.. What did you want to be when you were little?

Famous. Not for anything in particular, just famous.


25.. What is your best childhood memory?

My parents had some wonderful friends, and two of them were very rich. So rich, that they had a poolhouse built in their yard. When it was completed and the pool was filled and such, they threw a MASSIVE party to christen it, inviting all their friends and their kids. It was a very long day of swimming, eating, drinking, it was so much fun.


26.. What are the different jobs you have had in your
life.

Lord, let me think. Well, my parents owned a supermarket so I worked for them throughout school. Then at university, I got a weekend job in a bookshop. Moved to London, got a job as a runner in a film company. After 18 months, jacked that in and went to the Prince Edward Theatre box office. After 6 years of that, I went to NY to pursue my dream of living and working there, and that's still panning out.

27.. Nicknames?

I'm sure I have some I don't know about, but on the whole I really don't like nicknames.

28.. Ever been to Africa?

Nope.

29.. Ever been toilet papering?

Oh hell no

30.. Ever been in a car accident?

Yes. Remember earlier I said I wasn't the best driver. Well, I had a lucky escape when I turned my car over when the tires blew out after I took a corner too fast. I was unharmed and two weeks later a guy in the same village as me did the exact same thing and was killed.

31.. Favorite day of the week?

Well I haven't worked since July so it's all much of a muchness. But Sunday.


32.. Favorite Restaurant?

The Renaissance Diner :-)


33.. Favorite flower?

Oh come on. I'm gay but I'm not THAT gay.


34.. Favorite ice cream?

Coldstone's cake batter!


35.. Favorite fast food?

Mexican


36.. How many times did you fail your driving test?

Just once. Surprisingly.

37.. Which store would you choose to max out your
credit card?

Barnes & Noble.

38.. Bedtime?

Right now, it's been anywhere between 1 and 3am.


39.. Last person you went to dinner with?

My friend Josie. We went for Sunday lunch and it was lovely.

40.. What are you listening to right now?

Nothing! Pure silence


41.. What is your favorite color?

Blue. Sometimes red.

42.. How many tattoos do you have?

One I guess. It's a collection of runic symbols that you can see in my main profile pic. It's one phrase, but it's 13 symbols. So I have one tattoo, but it's made of 13 tattoos.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

One more thing

Alright I don't want to spend the next month on my blog going "and a year ago today" but, it occurred to me when I read over the list of shows that I missed one out. HurlyBurly. There's a story to it too.

See, it was a bitterly BITTERLY cold Wednesday and I decided to try my luck at the Dirty Rotten Scoundrels lottery. $25 for front row seats. It was the day before their opening night so I figured I was guaranteed the full cast and they'd be on top form. I was the first name pulled out for the lottery so I got front row center aisle. Go me. As soon as the show let out, I headed over to Theatre Row for HurlyBurly. I should explain at this point that it was (at that time) a limited run in a tiny theatre. And because they'd cast Ethan Hawke, Bobby Cannavale and Parker Posey, the whole run was sold out. So I was taking a chance with any tickets being returned. I got to the box office at 5pm and they said I could wait but it was unlikely to happen. Well, I figured it was freezing outside and I was first in the returns line and I could wait inside in the warm, so what the hell. At ten minutes to eight, a girl who was part of a group had an extra ticket and sold it to me for ten bucks off. So the theatre gods really were smiling on me that day. Bobby Cannavale and Parker Posey's performances were both utterly incredible. Well worth sitting through a deeply unpleasant and L O N G play for.