Thursday, October 28, 2010

It's so lonely on a limb

Well, it would appear that my social network fun is over. Despite having a pseudonym (of sorts), all it took was someone tagging a photo of me for the penny to drop, and my cover was blown.

To be honest, it's surprising that this didn't happen sooner. The irony is, I almost removed myself from the site three weeks ago, having gotten really hacked off with it all of a sudden. I didn't get around to it, so I suppose this is a lesson that I shouldn't procrastinate.

I think I'm going to have to suck it up and add the person. Then remove myself.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

That's entertainment

It's been a while since I posted on the blog while ill. It's been an exceptionally healthy year for me, which is astonishing, considering everything I've been through. However, I suppose there had to come a point when my body would decide to call it quits. So I'm sat sweating in the back bedroom, with aching kidneys, hoping that I can get back to normal soon.

The past few days have been beautifully autumnal. I wish I was out walking through the leaves right now. As it is, I'm so feeble it's as much as I can do to shuffle about the flat. Being up here amongst the trees does wonders, though. As much as I want to feel sorry for myself - and I do, a bit - I keep looking out and remembering how lucky I am.

Anyway. There was something I wished to say about Simon Pegg.

I bought Mr Pegg's book Nerd Do Well last week. I've long been a fan of his work, so thought I would enjoy the book. Well, I don't know what I was expecting exactly, but it came up a little short in my estimation. And the following extract from an early chapter actively pissed me right off. Not a good start.

To set the scene: Pegg is talking about TV reality and talent shows, and how The X Factor isn't so different from New Faces, on which his father appeared in the 1970s.
The X Factor isn't a million miles from Channel 4's nineties car-crash magazine show The Word, hosted by Terry Christian, in which people desperate to appear on television would eat bulls' testicles and lick pensioners' armpits as part if a segment poignantly entitled 'The Hopefuls'. The makers of contemporary talent shows know there will always be a supply of hopefuls, whose need for facile validation far outweighs their fear of public failure as a means of attaining the moment of exposure they feel entitled to. In light of this conveyor belt of catastrophe, Warhol's famous prediction seems overly generous.
As many of you will know, I was one of these desperate for fame individuals that Pegg describes above, having appeared on The Hopefuls as a fresh-faced 21-year old in 1994. So, allow me to pick the above statement apart.

1) I'm not sure that you can compare The X Factor to The Word. One is a money-making machine first, and a TV show second. The other was an utterly shambolic late night TV show, in which anything could (and often did) happen. That's not to say that The Word wasn't flawed - it was, in many ways. So is The X Factor, but I'd rather not get into that here.

2) To some extent, I agree that there will always be a supply of people to populate TV reality/talent shows. However, it's key to remember this: when I was on The Hopefuls, there was absolutely nothing on TV that compared to it. If I was much cleverer than I am, I could sit and argue about how the segment of the show tried to deconstruct the idea of what was acceptable viewing, or what fame in itself actually is. But if I'm being honest, it was silly, and mindless, and that was the fun of it. That's essentially it. I did it for nothing more than the sheer bloody fun of it. I didn't do it because I was desperate for fame or recognition. Come on. How could I ever think that behaving in such a deliberately disgusting way could get me either of those things? I wanted to make my friends, peers, family, teachers, whoever, laugh their arses off. How is this so different to the ambitious Mr Pegg, deciding to become a performance poet to make himself stand out from the crowd while in his first year of University? I didn't go on to make a career out of licking cottage cheese out of a fat man's bellybutton - so how was I desperate for fame, exactly? I clearly wasn't as desperate for it as Mr Pegg was...

3) I wasn't settling for public failure to expose myself, and I didn't feel that I was entitled to fame. Likewise - there are many people who have appeared on reality/talent shows for nothing other than they wanted to have fun. We're back to that concept again - enjoying yourself.

4) I often joked that my appearance on The Word was my "fifteen seconds of fame". Using Warhol to prop this flimsy argument up is a teeny bit obvious. And from where I'm standing, Warhol loved the idea of people having their fifteen minutes, so it doesn't follow that his "prediction" is "overly generous". Seconds or minutes, it's a moot point.

5) "In light of this conveyor belt of catastrophe..." Jesus - how melodramatic is the opening of that sentence?! [Well, actually, compared to his later deconstruction of the Star Wars films, during which I almost yawned myself to death, this is actually quite lively stuff.]

As usual, my meanderings are neither well-reasoned nor coherent (I blame the Lemsip wearing off), but let me finish by saying this. It simply doesn't follow that ordinary people who appear on TV are looking for fame or validation. Some of them are simply doing it for the hell of it. Our lives are pissy and drab and miserable...why the heck shouldn't we entertain ourselves? If other folk can't manage it, why the hell shouldn't we have a try?

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Monday, October 11, 2010

He spilled his guts all over the stage!

Can it be so? Head-On, my favourite music biog ever (and one of my favourite books, full stop), to be made into a film?

If you don't know what I'm talking about, shame on you. Run to your library, take this book out and read it forthwith.


Thursday, October 07, 2010

We are entranced

The restorative power of music strikes again.

Yesterday evening, I went to the Southbank Centre to a concert of electronic classical music, with JJ, Mr and Mrs Johns and DL for company. The definition was vague enough for the programme to contain some genuinely bonkers things, as well as some more mainstream bits and pieces, including film music from Spellbound and The Day the Earth Stood Still. Mucho theremin action, one of which was played by the great-niece of Theremin himself, and the other by the lady who does 99.9% of the other theremin work in the UK, including the theme to Midsomer Murders. One of Jonny Greenwood's recent pieces of modern classical music was played, which I was underwhelmed by.

After the interval, Will Gregory of Goldfrapp debuted five movements from an opera that he's currently writing. And it blew my tiny mind. Essentially, it was six/seven synths and an orchestra, and it sounded immense. It's hard to describe just how moved I was - I suppose it would come down to this. Gregory has an ear for pop, he writes great melodies. There was a sense of construction and progression that was absent from the work by Greenwood. Comparing the two directly, the piece by Greenwood felt avant garde for the sake of it, whereas Gregory's music wasn't trying to be odd, yet was genuinely refreshing and unusual. At one point during the last movement, I found my eyes inexplicably filling with tears, but it wasn't sadness, for a change. Sheer joy, I think.

I am excited about seeing the opera next year. That's something I never thought I'd say in my lifetime.

And Jarvis was compere - he was great.

Last weekend was my first wedding anniversary and thoughts, of course, turned to what we were doing a year ago. It's been a year of extreme highs and lows. It's clear that I need to start having fun if I can, to try to tip the balance a little. If I can continue having evenings out like last night, at interesting events in good company, all shall be well soon enough.


Friday, October 01, 2010

A house is not a home

As far as I can tell, we no longer own my Mum's house, as of about half an hour ago.

The past few days have been stressful and a little sad (I won't go into the leaking radiator that was discovered on Wednesday evening), but on the whole, I am pleased to see the back of this particular plot of land and pile of bricks and mortar.

With luck, we can all begin to move on soon.