Friday, April 27, 2007

Country Life

Spring has well and truly sprung and it’s one of the pleasures of country life that my morning journey to work involves glimpses of this sceptered isle’s natural fauna. Only this morning I sighted a badger, a fox and a number of squirrels. Sadly, various bits of them had been pulverised into the tarmac by passing vehicles, but they were still recognisable (I had no idea badgers were so huge!)

I also saw another sizeable cuddly creature who unfortunately seemed to have met his maker fairly early in the morning as the movement of traffic had rendered much of him a mangled pulp. The best I can stab at is “quadruped”.

Welcome Back Jimbob

“Nah, it can’t be him! Can it?” we said, watching telly the other night as a familiar face from yesteryear reared his crinkly head in a lead role in hit US ‘dramady’ series Ugly Betty.

After an absence of far too many years than I can be bothered to think about, Alan Dale is back on British screens. As Jim Robinson in Neighbours, he was as nondescript a character as you could wish for, typically sporting a lemon-yellow short-sleeved shirt and a tufty peninsula of hair at the front of his head around which baldness gradually crept, leaving it isolated in a sea of exposed and slightly freckly cranium.

An entirely unremarkable actor, his star was in its descendency even he ungracefully bowed out of the show in the early ‘90s after having an hilarious on-screen heart attack (in which his heart appeared to be located somewhere in his right armpit).

Despite his poor acting (or biological freakishness) however, he appears to have done very well for himself indeed lately. The stone has well and truly rolled away from the tomb of his career and his profile has been resurrected with considerable aplomb. I can only assume He must have either given a blinder of an audition or slept with the producer.

The island of hair has been slicked back and the summer print shirt has been replaced with an Armani suit though the trademark scowl remains the same. Watch out for wobbly-faced Harold turning up in ER, or Madge landing a part in Sex & The City...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Violent Conundrum

Has Ross Kemp’s torso ever sported anything other than a tight black T-Shirt? I can only assume it’s either so tight that he’s unable to remove it or it’s tattooed onto his skin. (He’s actually a much better presenter than he is an actor, (but he’s actually a terrible actor so that makes him only a mediocre presenter).

In Gangs on Sky Three, he travels far and wide to talk to some of the most dangerous collectives of psychotic individuals in the world, including one particularly terrifying example where part of the brutal initiation rites for prospective members involves having to kill another member of the same gang.

I can’t help but think this is just a little short-sighted though, and can only assume this policy wasn’t in place when the gang started, as if it was there would only ever be one member who may, quite understandably, be more than a little reluctant to recruit any more:

“Welcome aboard! Now, there’s just one thing to do before you can join my gang.”
“Righty ho, what’s that then?”
“You have to kill another member.”
“Sounds a bit gruesome and unnecessary, but okay. How many people are there in your gang?”
“Err, it’s just me actually.”

Advertising Cream

The use of bewildering contents in adverts for ladies’ lotions and potions is pretty much a given these days: AHAs, pentapeptides, polyunsaturates etc. One cream actually makes the outrageous claim it can actually repair damaged DNA, which clearly is a load of old kak as if your DNA needed “repairing”, then you would technically be genetically abnormal and probably some sort of mutant.

“I’ve discovered the secret of beauty” claims beauty editor Nadine Baggot who looks genetically abnormal and is probably some sort of mutant. This strange individual both sounds and looks like something straight out of Tolkien, and promotes a product containing something called “pentapeptides” – the implication being that by applying lashings of them on your face, you too can enjoy wrinkle-free looks and eyes that look like they’ve been drawn on your face by a particularly unartistic schoolchild.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Fresh Outlook

Note to self: when using Natural Source Mint and Tea Tree shower gel, take more care than usual not to get any in your eyes.

"[Don’t] Bring me sunshine..."

Being fair-skinned, the imminent arrival of the summer sees myself and my fellow pasty-faced compadres pelting for the nearest shade where we’ll spend the next few months quivering in abject terror. To commemorate this particularly painful time of year, here are my personal sunburn top three:

1. Swimming pool in South Africa, aged eleven – lying face down on 6,000 degree concrete and baring the backs of my shins to a scorching sky for an entire afternoon. The pain for the ensuing week was indescribable and I carry the resulting freckle patches, resembling twin explosions in a baked bean factory, to this day. Me and my mate Gary were unable to walk properly for days.

2. Holibobs in Tenerife, aged 25 – displaying trademark British grit and ignorance, we stripped down to our shorts and headed for the beach, sans sun cream, within an hour of descending the plane’s steps into a Canarian furnace. The administering of factor 30 to a crispy “singing detective” style torso which looked like the surface of a McDonalds apple pie the following day was accompanied with an audible sizzling sound. It was fine unless you wanted to talk. Or smile. Or move.

3. Snowboarding in Andorra, aged 26 – foolishly believing you couldn’t get sunburnt in single figure temperatures (when actually the thin atmosphere, complete lack of cloud cover and reflective glare from the whited-out landscape meant the opposite was abundantly true), I spent a whole day on the slopes with my poorly-thatched cranium being cooked by ultra-violet rays. Over the next week, the resulting scabs which filled my hat resembled a bowl of cornflakes in both appearance and volume. Sleep was only possible if you propped the pillow under your neck and exhibited as much animation as Stephen Hawking with narcolepsy.

It’s going to be a scorcher this year? Oh happy day...

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Brave New Words

Language, of course, is an ever-evolving thing, with words added to the lexicon of life every day. Three such recent examples are below:

“Sharted” is a combination of “shit” and “farted”. While the concept is nothing new and “follow-through” has been around for yonks, it’s a neat way of describing a singular bodily action and is particularly applicable to small babies, of which we currently have one fantastic example. As in, “Oh dear, it sounded she’s sharted again, and her nappy’s only just been changed.”

The Apprentice last night included “Ideation” which, like “sharted” seemed to be a mashing together of two words, in this case “idea” and “creation”. I initially thought this was another highly objectionable example of marketing wankspeak, but a swift look online reveals the word to have been around for about 200 years (where to “ideate” is to undertake the process of forming ideas). Live and learn.

Another, less valid word was on Wedding Stories, where some hapless snaggle-toothed individual was seen tippy-tappying away on Ebay in an effort to obtain cheap and cheerful second-hand items for her forthcoming nuptials, one such search being for “wedding decoratations”. The programme never revealed what the search results were, but the irony is that if one person can mis-spell it, then so can others, so she probably got an abundance of unbidded-for stuff with which to decoratate her reception. Happy days…

My Big fat Greek Water Torture

I’ve seen the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding seven times - it’s not a statistic I’m terribly proud of.

It’s a result of travelling round Australia with my, then future, wonderwife (to clarify, she’s always been wonderful, the ‘wife’ bit wasn’t confirmed at the time), and spending much time aboard Greyhound coaches, each of which was equipped with a telly to amuse passengers as it whipped them thousands of miles across spectacular(ly featureless) countryside.

Traversing the country by making some 70 such journeys in a ten-month period, we watched a stash of on-board, (and I use the term loosely), “entertainment”, and were unfortunate victims of the drivers’ reluctance to change the video tapes. Our hearts would sink when the screen flickered into life and a jaunty Greek bouzouki twanged melodiously, heralding the onset of two hours of contrived gags and cutesy overacting. Being a captive audience though, it was as impossible to ignore as water torture.

That said, when I saw MBFGW was on TV the other night I couldn’t help but feel a warming sense of nostalgia and a peculiar bittersweet feeling as, terrible though the film is, it’s inextricably linked to an exceedingly happy period of my life.

It’s a pleasure/pain thing – probably much like listening to your favourite Beatles song being sung by a particularly untalented busker, or watching Caroline Quentin plunging over a cliff in your brand new car.

Other such cinematic porridge witnessed en route included Special Agent Cody Banks and some crap film with Paul Newman pretending to be a wheelchair-bound cripple. These films were bouzouki-free, though were still exceedingly kak.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Choclit Jesus

“One of the worst assaults on Christian sensibilities ever” screamed Bill Donohue – head of The Catholic League which describes itself as the nation's largest Catholic civil rights organisation (now there’s an oxymoron). Rah, rah rah…

He was talking about an art gallery in New York which was about to exhibit a life-sized effigy of Jesus Christ made entirely from chocolate. In my view, any art is good art and should be seen, though this particular piece has the added bonus of offending Catholics (which in most cases is no bad thing).

Not sure what the official church line is on what Jesus can be made out of, but off the top of my head I’ve seen wood, ceramics, plastic, china, precious metals and a range of others; why not a bar of Dairy Milk or two? Why can’t Bill and his gang take a leaf out of other religions’ books, like Muslims who regularly see Allah’s name in bags of crisps and sliced tomatoes and whatever.

For all his ire, it might even have the opposite effect and even encourage people to return to church congregations, particularly women attending Holy Communion: “Take this, for this is my body. It’s made with a glass and a half of full-cream milk…”

Unexpectedly, it seems the good people of Wiltshire are far more open-minded than New Yorkers as the church of Bradford-on-Avon openly embraced exactly the same thing as part of the Easter celebrations.

Apparently, the New York artist, Cosimo Cavallaro, is famous for using food in his art, and once painted an entire hotel room with mozzarella cheese. That’s my kind of holiday.