Thursday, February 28, 2002

Oh, the sweet sweet buzz of snapping up a last minute win on eBay! Some of you may have noticed I have a kitchenalia fetish, something that the poor bf has to come to terms with everytime I make him help me lug my finds home from London, spend hours in Bygone Times or stop at every rubbish car boot sale we come across. No Amazon wishlists for me, no sirree. I want an eBay Kitchenalia one!

Anyhow, you may recall that Gosford Park reminded me of how much I like Talaware. Click here if you want to see my new lovely item! She's a little bruised and battered, but she'll fit in well with my "red kitchen" theme I've got going on.

And before you get worried, no, I'm not marrying her!

This woman is married to the Berlin Wall. Or what's left of it!

A girly tip:

If you've never tried a seaweed detox body wrap, I can highly recommend it! First you are dry brushed with cactus bristles, and then a thick layer of lemony-seawood goop goes all over your body. You're then wrapped up in foil, covered with a duvet and the therapist gives you a scalp massage while the algae does its work.

A quick shower to get the goo off and then you're back into the foil to sweat out all those lovely lovely toxins. Luckily you also get a facial and upper body massage to distract you from feeling like a jacket potato. A layer of cellutox oil is applied afterwards and you leave feeling wobbly but distinctly pristine. No alcohol allowed for 12 hours (not that you'd want any - I was so parched I guzzled a litre of water at home.)

The result? I swear I've lost about 2 pounds in water retention. I must also have that "special glow", because everyone is asking me what's different about me this morning!

Hooray, I will be glamourous for the Alpinestars show at John Willie Lees tonight. Because we all know what a classy place *that* is!

Darn, I'm trying to find some images of JWL's for you but failing. But if I say "70s cabaret bar built into the side of the Arndale car park", does that help?

Wednesday, February 27, 2002

So you think you're a nice person, and you're pretty sure Hello Kitty would think so too. But beware of assuming the handbag you found must contain a sewing kit! The kitty knows all.

Tuesday, February 26, 2002

There is a *tree* floating in the quay outside my office. That's how serious the storms were in Manchester last night!

Speaking of storms, what a brouhaha at work today. Yesterday afternoon I got a one-month job offer from a TV company I'd love to work for - if it had been for longer I would have seriously considered handing in my notice. I plucked up the courage to ask my boss if he would consider "loaning" me for the month, seeing as it's quiet here anyhow and it would save them some salary. Cheeky? Maybe. But I had to ask. A year ago, I never would have had the guts, so at least that's something.

Unsurprisingly, the answer was no. I was upset, had a cry in the loo and then composed myself in time to go out for someone's birthday lunch. I guess I bounced back because I feel like it's broken the cycle. A therapist once told me once that 9 times out of 10, just acknowledging that something needs to be sorted made her clients' problems vanish.

Of course booking a holiday this afternoon to Stockholm didn't do any harm either! We thought about going for Eurovision, but I couldn't let down our fellow partymates in Manchester so it's early May instead. Se du siden mig sylt sill!!

Monday, February 25, 2002

Oh jesus.

I hate offices after new year's. All the women join the gym and yap constantly about Weight Watchers. If you offer anyone a biscuit, it's all "Ooooh I shouldn't, that's 5 points!"

This morning was the last straw. I couldn't even fit my lunch into the fridge because it's rammed full of chopped fruit and Slimfast, all of which will *still* be in there by Friday, rotting, because by tomorrow they'll be devouring jam doughnuts or stuffing their faces at Pizza Express.

This sums up how I feel, actually...

I'm not one to normally be fanatically Canadian, but....

WE WHUPPED YOUR BUTTS REAL GOOD, EH?

I don't even particularly like hockey, but when it comes to the Olympics, all of a sudden I turn into an aggressive patriot. Since I'd missed the women's final, I made sure I was around last night for the Men's Final: Canada vs. USA.

I bit all my nails off, scared the cats by screaming at the TV and cackled evilly every time an American got bodychecked into the boards. Final score 5-2 and I have to confess I got a bit misty-eyed when the anthem played. I even forgave Wayne Gretzky for abandoning Canada all those years ago, because he's really stuck his neck out as executive manager of the team.

(Back to dignified young lady self)

Thursday, February 21, 2002

I am SO glad I went to see Dot Allison last night after all. The set was short, but incredible. Her new sound is fairly hard electro, so it was right up my alley. Unfortunately you'll have to wait until May for the album.

The icing on the cake was running into a few friends and chatting afterwards. C is an extrovert friend of the bf's from way back, and his partner P is just the loveliest person ever. We had a brilliant chat about karaoke and decided to set up a party for when they get back from Ireland (they live there on and off throughout the year). Dot wandered over later, as she knows P since they've been recording in the same studios. I have to admit I was rendered speechless - she's like a little china doll ice queen, and completely stunning.

The Peroni, the happy atmosphere and talking about singing also made me realise how acutely I miss making music. We talked about how hard it is to make any creative ventures when you're trapped in the 9-5 routine. P was really sweet and firmly told me to go for it. Cheesy as that sounds, I know that if I sort myself out and get back into it - even if it's just for me - it would make me so happy. Studio in the home office and maxing out credit card it is then!

Wednesday, February 20, 2002

Are you one of those people who has slipped into that "not on a weeknight" way of living? Where your social life is defined by how early you have to wake up in the morning?

Well, every so often I try and claw back to my old (preferred) way. As in last night.

It was meant to be the pop quiz at Tribeca, but we didn't know that they've switched to Mondays since the new year. What was on offer instead? Karaoke.

Karaoke is one of my great and passionate loves, ever since we rented a room at Karaoke Village in NYC a couple of years ago. Since then I've been hooked, even buying a DVD with karaoke function. But that said, I am not a great fan of karaoke in public (and which is also what turns most people off, I think...) unless it's a really cozy bar. The downstairs bar at Tribeca, B.E.D, is just the place. You know it's going to be a good night when the compere is dressed in his pyjamas, the stage is actually a huge bed and the songlist book is longer than the bible.

So: too many pints of Stella later, I sang twice. "Alone" by Heart and "I can't wait" by Nu Shooz. It was a bit disconcerting to sing in front of people lolling around on cushions at first, but in the end it was great. One of the regulars even came over and complimented me, which of course absolutely fucking made my night! I am a sucker for compliments. :-) My third song, "Magic" by Olivia N-J had to be aborted as I was about to turn into a pumpkin.

But this morning, there was a b-o-r-i-n-g powerpoint presentation to be faced at an ungodly hour, and I am hiding behind headphones to soothe my hangover. It's not a terrible one, more of the lack-of-sleep-and-mild-tremors variety.

Will I make it to Dot Allison tonight?

Tuesday, February 19, 2002

Y'know, despite the template overhaul and a few new features coming soon, I feel like the blogging side is getting a little...stale. I'm the kind of person who likes to have lots of things on the go (a Saggitarian trait I think - unfortunately the downside that we never excel at anything as a result!)

So without further ado, may I announce my new project:

A-Z of "Where Are They Now" - an alphabetical selection of obscure names chosed from the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles, and what became of them. Rules as follow:

1. The artist or band chosen will be selected based on unusuality of the name, especially those with only one hit.

2. I will do my best not to choose a well-known band or artist (i.e. people dragged out on Never Mind the Buzzcocks)

3. Once a name is chosen, I will do research on the internet and disclose my findings here, with pictures if possible.

4. Should my research prove fruitless, I will post a brief entry describing what sort of information came up (related or unrelated) and of course, if anyone has anything to add, comments are welcome!

Let's see how I get on...I'll start in the next couple of days.

I know we're all sick of P'idol, but the news headlines are still coming through from Ananova. Today, we learn that Fran Healy thinks P'idol is just a money making exercise, and was upset that his girlfriend voted for Will one hundred times, claiming that the whole competition was a "celebration of the mediocre". Now let's have a little comparison, shall we?

Will: Insipid, boring singer, often defended with "But he seems really sweet."
Travis: anodyne, dull band, often defended with "But they seem like really nice guys."

Will: not much stage presence
Travis: limp noodles holding guitars

Will: shit lyrics
Travis: shit lyrics

Bet you anything Travis will do an "ironic" cover of Evergreen at some festival this summer.

Monday, February 18, 2002

We went to see Gosford Park last night. I was left feeling slightly unsatisfied as the excess of characters turned it into a big mess by the end - but it had its merits all the same. Strongest by far was the recreation of a servant's world circa 1930, for once developing them beyond lacy aprons and the meek "Yes m'lady" to reveal a dark, bitchy underworld of hard work and having to endure being ordered around for most of your life. Quite depressing, although I did admire the kitchenalia - Talaware and flour bins!

Even Kelly MacDonald was good, despite our urge to mutter "What *is* this remarkable anti-perspirant?" every time she came on screen.

*********************************************************************

Normally Manchester can be a bit dull post-xmas, but for once I am a whirling dervish of social activity in the next few weeks:

Pop Quiz, Tribeca, tomorrow night
Dot Allison, Night & Day, Wednesday night
Mull Historical Society, Roadhouse, next Monday night
Alpinestars, John Willie Lees (*very* dodgy pub that seems to be popular these days with the Twisted Nerve folks etc.), Thursday 28th February
Felix da Housecat, Sankeys Soap, March 2nd (hoooooooray!)

See you there!

Sunday, February 17, 2002

God, I love Saturdays.

They're steeped in tradition - always a late breakfast with coffee and french toast, then wandering into town to visit our friend Martin for lunch at Night & Day (which, incidentally, serves really nice & cheap mexican food!)

The bf will then have to find a record to buy - this week he scored the limited edition new Boards of Canada album early (it's out on Monday) and was grinning like a cheshire cat when I met up with him. Boys!

Then, because I no longer work in the city centre, I always have to trawl round my favourite shops. I've been really good and only window shopping due to post-xmas skintness, but today I couldn't resist a Super Lovers shirt and an adorable Stussy hat that was in the sale.

But the best bit is sometimes coming home, slightly worn out, to relax and admire your purchases. And to sit back with a nice cup of coffee and a bit of chocolate while you read the Guardian and dream about moving to some converted church in West Yorkshire.

By the way...the Boards of Canada cd is fantastic. Not a vast change from the last album, but in a picking up the pace of my favourite tracks and staying on that track kind of way. And if the whispers going round are true, it's possible it may be #1 next Sunday. How strange!

Oh yeah, spotted this in our crap local paper on Valentine's Day:



Genius!

Friday, February 15, 2002

There are currently over 100 boxes of Duerr's marmalade portions sitting in our office, and we're not allowed any. I want toast, and I want it NOW!

Thursday, February 14, 2002

Norm Elder was what you'd call a real Toronto character.

Although he was also a successful equestrian, author and mayoral candidate, I knew him as a well-travelled anthropologist who ran his house as a sort of quasi museum/school for children. When I was eleven, I used to go there on Saturdays (yes, there was a time where I willingly went to an *extra* day of school!) to attend his wildly popular "Exploring the World's Jungles" course. Smaller kids went for a ride on Tony the Tortoise, while the bigger kids played with Peter the Python. There were tarantulas in a glass case above the toilet, and his basement was a recreation of Indiana Jones' Temple of Doom. I have a vivid memory of one sunny day in May or June sitting out in his garden with all his animals while he told us stories about Africa. We hung off his every word, and at the time I thought he was the coolest adult I'd ever known. (that may have been partly because he was also the only person who would put his arm in a huge jar of mosquitoes for an insect repellent advert!)

Here's a quote from an article that gives you a bit more of an idea:
Elder later moved his eclectic collection to Bedford Rd., a posh neighbourhood near Avenue Rd. and Bloor St.

All surfaces of the three-storey brick house are covered with unusual artefacts, including human skulls, shrunken heads, a camel's bladder and a stuffed rooster.

There's a piece of hardened elephant dung on the coffee table. David Cronenberg's Naked Lunch was filmed at the house.

At one time, Elder kept four monkeys, a six-foot boa constrictor and a 200-pound pig named Henry in his basement.

Elder, who has admitted to eating monkey brains and broiled bat, was once quoted as saying: "What bothers me most about going to zoos is that I've tasted most of the animals in there."
Fast forward to last week, when I get a letter from my old friend Kevin. He makes a reference to Norm Elder's conviction...for sexual assault involving teenage boys. I'm in absolute shock. I have to know more.

The articles that come up on Lexis Nexis (clippings subscription service) start in 1997, well before I moved over. I can honestly say I didn't notice them at the time - my only excuse is that at that point in my life I was travelling and/or leading a clubbing hedonistic lifestyle, so reading newspapers beyond the front page wasn't a priority.

In a nutshell, Norm had a habit of either offering a safe haven for young homeless boys, or asking other young men to come to his cottage in Muskoka. By young, we're talking 16. Much like the Gehring case in the press at the moment (Canadian school teacher). The main difference being that as far as the reports go, Norm forced himself on the boys - often while they were asleep. One said he'd wake up clutching $100 bills. Oddly the articles make no reference to his work with children - he is exclusively referred to as an equestrian in the headlines of all except the first few early articles.

After a lengthy court case, Norm was acquitted of some charges but received a two-year sentence for others, which would be upheld in the spring of 1999 after an appeal. In May of the same year eleven men launched a $4 million lawsuit against him.

Towards the bottom of the Nexis Lexis list, countless cheerful - earlier - articles, including one jolly interview with Norm from 1986. He pays tribute to Tony the Tortoise, who died in 1986, aged 80 - not long after my last trip to Norm's house. The contrast depresses me.

Tuesday, February 12, 2002

Ta da! A new look, with little ceremony because I'm too knackered. Suffice to say it took me quite a long time, because I wanted to do lots of nice images and that kind of thing.

Anyhow, also note there are some extra (*gasp*!) pages which you can now look at to find out more about me and other terribly important things. The "coming soon" pages I hope to sort out in the next couple of weeks, and add from there...

Anyhow I hope you all like it, comments very welcome! I'm off to watch Fat Club.

Monday, February 11, 2002

Tidal wave of hype

Saturday was cool. A leisurely lunch and window shopping in the Northern Quarter (Oldham Street to most).

For the evening's engagement, the Hives' gig at the Academy. But we didn't have to queue with the plebs, oh no! Following a gorgeous (if slow to arrive) dinner at Gaia, we whizzed through the guest list with five minutes to spare before their set. Forty-five minutes later, it was over and we retired to the Malmaison bar. Now that's what I call whistle-stop! But more on the Hives.

I wanted to love them, I really did. And it's not to say that they were bad, because in this day and age of dreary Starsailor and Toploader, they did put on a good show. But if you have ever seen the Make Up, there is no comparison in terms of entrancing the audience, original songs and actually having something to say. In fact everyone I spoke to after the show said exactly the same thing...

Taken from their homepage on Southern Records:

Due to the insidious CIA promulgation of Make-Up clone groups on an international scale which pervert and distort the message and trajectory of the 'Gospel Yeh-Yeh' form; the Make Up Organization, in conjunction with the Central Commitee of the Rock N Roll Comintern, has determined that a new phase of its operation must commence; a "total war" against the collective enemy. In the meantime, a tactical retreat into the underground. To our brothers and sisters and all who've supported us, keep up the struggle against bourgeouis mediocrity; and in the words of the murderer imperialist pig Douglas Macarthur: "We shall return".

Now that's them, through and through. And here is an interesting interview with Ian Svenonious from 1998.

So why are the Hives famous when there is better to be had? This kind of thing happens time and time again. It's not looks - there is no one more stylin' than the Make Up. It's not for a lack of touring, or decent press. God, I first heard of Ian at least 14 years ago when he won the "Sassiest Boy in America" contest (only North Americans will understand that one, sorry). And yet world domination eludes them. Maybe they don't want it?

Friday, February 08, 2002

Well, dear readers (all 30-odd of you, bless!) this girl is pooped. Cream-crackered, fried to a crisp, plain frazzled out.

Today, I was busy on-line *and* off. I sniped, and was sniped at in return. In the end I curbed my tongue and called it a day... remind me not to get involved in these daft internet wars. It's too easy when you're bored at work and a fast typist.

And so, tonight will consist of a fabulous turkish takeaway, certainly followed by many cold beers and a hot bath filled with gorgeous Space NK smellies. John Waters on Graham Norton (and you *must* watch that!), Black Books, then bed. Not a computer in sight. Sounds like heaven.

Oh yeah, forgot to say earlier - in P'idol news, according to Ananova Posh is backing Will. In addition to her kiss of death, she had the gall to add:

"And she has warned whoever wins might face problems in the future as Hear'Say have done."

I see, Miss I-have-to-plug-my singles-at-Woollies-In-at-number-8-and-out-of-the-top-40-following-week-so-desperate-to-chart-this-time-I've-plastered-my-emaciated-corpse-on-the-cover-of-FHM.

Taking the expression jesus shoes very seriously!

Grrrr. Sometimes I really, really hate the BBC. Here follows a transcript of an email I sent to Radio 4 info.

Me:

I am writing from a production company in Manchester. My boss, Mr. X, wishes to contact the production office for the above programme regarding the edition which transmitted on 24th January (re: advertiser funded programmes), as he has a few queries.

Could you please advise as to whom he should speak to? Many thanks.

The Beeb's reply:

Dear Elisabeth

Thank you for your e-mail.

Although we are unable to provide direct contact details for members of staff or production offices at the BBC you can find more information on the programme at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/progs/genre/genre_biz.shtml#business (useless link to brief description of the programme, which I know about already - how else would I have emailed them?)

I hope this is of use to you.

Warm regards

** Mc******

BBC Information


My (wish I could send it) reply:

Dear ** Mc******,

Thank you for your reply. Unfortunately, since it arrived *four* days after I sent my inquiry, I took the liberty of phoning the Radio 4 switchboard myself. Your press office transferred me to the editor of business programmes, Mr. Y. Apparently they don't think it's confidential information. Mr. Y. kindly forwarded me a transcript ahead of payment because we needed it quickly, and I have duly sent him a cheque for £15.

However, thanks for trying to fob me off. I appreciate your concern that I might be axe-wielding maniac whose ulterior motive is to take out the producer of an obscure midday programme that has an average listening audience of 150.

I must thank you for your condescension towards little old pleb me, and for reminding me what a bureaucratic mess of red tape the BBC is.

Warmest, most insincere regards,

EK

Wednesday, February 06, 2002

Stuck for a present for Valentine's day? Nothing says "I love you" like chocolates and some Hevi-Shot ammo, don't you think? Why not throw in an American flag while you're at it? Yeehaw!

Hooray. For the first time ever, it looks like Popbitch is going to use a story I passed on to them. Not telling what it is though - you'll have to guess after tomorrow's edition. :-)

Monday, February 04, 2002

Sorry, a bit quiet these days...I'm still working on a new template with Dreamweaver and it's proving quite tricksy. Maybe I have the wrong idiot's guide, but my book doesn't talk you through a simulated template from start to finish, and there's certainly nothing in there to help you merge with a blog. I can't seem to make my tables behave, but I'll get there!

The most exciting news of the weekend is that we've finally found something to hang on our living room wall. A happy compromise... two film posters! So the bf gets one for Kusturica's Time of the Gypsies and I get a (brilliant, abstract) German poster for Godard's Masculin Feminin. Wahey for eBay!

Just one more thing. It's becoming apparent that the only hits I get off Google tend to be people who are looking for the very things that I'm slagging off. Go away, Footballers' Wives fans!

Friday, February 01, 2002

Want to learn how to speak Canadian? This article is a good start. Pop open the brewskies!

I've really been loving troubled_diva's 40 Years Project (40 stories over 40 days, to celebrate his upcoming 40th birthday), but yesterday's was the best yet. Of course, that's a subjective opinion because I lived in the story's location for four months! It's all about their pilgrimage to "Barnaby Lane" in San Francisco, and will be of great interest to those who love Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City books. Wonder if I should do something similar for my 30th? But that's a few years away yet...

I am in a good mood today as I've just found out that our ex-neighbour won't be moving back into the house next door after all. To make a long story short she moved out, was renting locally and when I bumped into her in the street she told me she was planning to buy it off her ex. The main reason we don't want them there is the children. Three little banshees, who are quite sweet kids, but have been raised to believe that screaming is a form of communication. The mum was a handful sometimes too, having blazing rows with her ex out in the garden at one AM.

Don't get me wrong, they could be very pleasant. Like the time she let me sit in her sitting room when I locked myself out without any shoes and had to wait for the bf to come and rescue me! The problems stemmed from different standards of privacy and acceptable noise levels. And they broke the fence. Does that make me a bitch?

Anyhow, of course I asked who was buying it instead, and she thinks it's a couple with no children. Hooray!