Saturday, March 30, 2002

Off for the weekend, but before I do, may I suggest you visit Brian's site for a new Saint Etienne mp3? It's lovely and dancey and would fit perfectly on Continental. Quite a long download if you're a 56K-er like me, but worth it, I promise.

Over on troubled diva's site, the latest curio mp3 form his collection is a fine 50s song - really good if you like early Serge Gainsbourg or Brigitte Bardot.

Have a great Easter!

Thursday, March 28, 2002

Just to prove how cutting edge I am: three weeks ago I dragged the bf to an antiques warehouse in Failsworth. The ground floor was a sea of old furniture - most of it not my style. However, I've been dying for an old 50s kitchen cabinet for some time now, ever since some friends of ours had one restored (I also noticed a nice one in Black Books, although it's meant to be horrible!). And I spotted one. Oh, it was in a state - musty, glass slightly broken in one panel, layers of paint peeling - but I could see the potential. For one thing, the enamel pull-out bread board was in mint condition - very rare. All the chrome handles were intact too. Anyhow they sold it to me for £60, we lugged it home and I've started stripping it. It's going to be gorgeous when it's done in red and white gloss.

Then yesterday, someone brought in the Mail on Sunday's "You" magazine. The Insider Home section featured 50s kitchens, and there was my cabinet - yours new and made to order for a mere £3000!! Maybe I should go into the restoration business...

Oh yes, last night: 24 Hour party People launch party. We were the early birds, arriving at 10:30 with hardly a soul there. Oooops. Turns out everyone was late from the screening, which we didn't go to - and it was packed by 11 PM. Mr. Haslam and friends played old school house, good 80s electro and the odd 60s soul number thrown in for good measure. And what a surprise, a free bar! Unfortunately I didn't spot any of the cast (was really hoping to see Simon Pegg, sigh) but we did have Gillian from New Order stood in front of us with her mum all night. And I saw Terry Christian, but the bf said it didn't count. I imagine the ultra VIPs were all tucked away in a room somewhere. Damn.

Anyhow we're off to Harrogate for Easter - some much needed chill out time, dabbling in the country lifestyle...can't wait!

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

I have a new love, and it is Why didn't I start reading it sooner? For a richly razorblade-studded review of the Oscars that will make you laugh out loud, go here.

Tuesday, March 26, 2002

Eeeeps! Meant to write earlier, but t'internet has been down all day. Grumble.

Well, I found out yesterday that another *two* people are leaving my workplace. That makes six since January, and I've lost track of how many since I started here last July. Which is bad for a company of about 35 employees. The strange thing is, people aren't leaving because they're treated badly. The problem is that we're all slowly being bored to death. Everyone is nice, and we work in a nice office looking out over a pretty quay. Anyone who comes here for the first time comments on nice it is to have all this open space and benches on which to bask in the nice sunshine.

But slowly, the negatives creep in. Out of shampoo? Tough luck - the nearest Boots can only be reached by car. Ditto if you need a few groceries. Oh, there's shopping nearby - but it's a soulless, soporific "designer outlet" mall that that doesn't actually sell anything you need. And let's not forget the commuters' nightmare - treacly trams into town - don't get me started! The winter winds are pretty hellish, too.

The bf has little sympathy - his office is even further out of Manchester. But I am an urban girl, damn it all, and having worked for 2 years in the city centre, nine months of this is doing my head in. I'm so very tempted to follow suit...

I didn't watch the Oscars last nights - Halle's nauseating speech on every news bulletin was enough. Instead, because I love talking about food I'll tell you that we ate at La Torre last night, Chorlton's new tapas bar. It's run by *real* Spaniards and they have San Miguel on tap! Not only that, the owner has a strange habit of asking you to deliver dishes for him. If you're ever in the area, check it out.

Monday, March 25, 2002

I haven't written anything much about Manchester for a little while, but here's an article (via lostharbour) about the Smiths tribute night that happens every so often at the Star and Garter pub near Piccadilly Station.

Funnily enough we're going to see the author, Dave Haslam, dj at the 24 Hour Party People launch party at the Paradise Factory on Wednesday. Anyhow, despite a couple of inaccuracies (i.e. there was never a Belle & Sebastian tribute night there, it was simply the venue for the aftershow party when they played at the Town Hall a few years back), it paints a grimly accurate picture of what a dump the Star & Garter is. I hate that pub. I have certain standards I guess - like heating in winter, some form of toilet paper and a loo door. And who likes to go somewhere you can only trust the bottled drinks?

However the bf has a strange fondness for the place - because he knew it when a night called Smile was in its heyday. When 200 people are having a blast, I guess the venue doesn't matter.

Well, I know these Jesus Images have been blogged to death, but I just had to put this one in, seeing as I hate going to the dentist more than anything in the world. If anything's going to put the fear of god into me, this is it.

Some points for today.

1. Monday mornings have been made slightly more bearable by the phwoar Justin Theroux Gap poster at my tram station.

2. The new Pet Shop Boys single "Home and Dry" *is* brilliant, in a sort of grow-on-you-Fleetwood-Mac kind of way - and the b-side "Sexy Northerner" is hilarious (and according to the press release, a hard-edged portrait of regionality and lust!). "Says he wants a job/Something interesting/Like a graphic designer/Sexy northerner..." I'm so glad I've got tickets for their tour now.

3. It's the bf's birthday today, and I wish I could get tickets for the Strokes tonight so we could see the opening act, one of our favourite bands - Stereo Total - but I'm afraid the gods aren't smiling on us. Sigh. Happy birthday anyway, pumpkin, and enjoy your book of Russian Avant Garde film posters.

4. A 1997 Australian Grenache is a delicious wine, but maybe Croatian plum brandy chasers aren't a good idea.

Friday, March 22, 2002

Because I trust troubled diva's taste implicitly, I have just bought tickets for the Pet Shop Boys' tour in July without having heard their new single. It doesn't seem to be in heavy rotation on any of the MTV channels, which is the only way I hear things as I don't listen to the radio.

I'm sure it'll be a fun show though - I went to see them on the Nightlife tour and it was great, despite the poor turnout. Neil Tennant is such a gentleman! And when they did "What have I done to deserve this?" with a video of Dusty singing behind them, without any sentimental treacle, I cried all the way through. (I guess it was my wake for her!) So, chances are it'll be just as good if not better.

I opted for Sheffield City Hall instead of the Manchester Apollo, a) because I got better seats for the same price and b) I hate the Apollo and the fascist car park across the road, and try to avoid going there where ever possible. Anyhow I haven't been to Sheffield yet, so it'll be an adventure.

Does it feel like spring yet to you? Even though it's not that warm yet, I can feel the air lifting. That and my Japanese cherry blossom tree is about to bloom. Come on patio weather!

Thursday, March 21, 2002

Maybe I'm imagining things, but it seems like people are obsessed with becoming priests via internet ordination. All because of bloody Robbie Williams in the Sun yesterday. Ugh. Just typing his name makes the bile rise in my throat. Now today, the Guardian run a similar story. What is *up*??

Wednesday, March 20, 2002

God, it's been mental at work. I'm training "up" to be a production manager, which has left me equally buzzing on being the practical problem solver that everyone loves and in tears when I don't know what the hell I'm doing. Ack!

This morning, we received a reply from a well-known imprisoned terrorist whom we've approached about doing a show. He's well up for it, which is good - but I feel strange having a letter from someone who has caused the misery and death of so many sitting on my desk. The last paragraph of his letter made me laugh for some reason:
My solidarious greeting to all struggling women on International Women's Day, which I celebrate as a family tradition; my mother assisted to the World's Women Congress in Peking. Yours in Revolution, ********

I didn't even know International Women's Day was happening!

Monday, March 18, 2002

Ugh, still feeling cruddy today. I think I have "sick-of-my-job-itis". Sigh.

On a happy note, I found the most amazing kitchen cabinet in Failsworth yesterday. Cheers to my pal E for the tip, although the poor bf was not so cheerful when he realised we'd have to tie the car boot down because it was so big. Ever suffering! It's from the 1940s I think, and in need of some TLC - paint stripping, glass repair. My very first restoration project...

Please, please do see The Royal Tenenbaums - it opened this weekend in the UK. I'll preface by saying it wasn't *quite* as brilliant as Rushmore, but nearly. I even forgot I was enjoying a movie that stars Ben Stiller - a miracle in itself! I won't review it as so many already have - let's talk about what made us laugh the most instead. And that was the paintings in Eli Cash's apartment (played by Owen Wilson) - 80s looking oil painting depicting natives on motorcycles. None of us could stop giggling!

Anyhow, I was curious to find out more about the painter, Miguel Calderon. Did you know Wes Anderson bought one of his paintings and wrote it into the script? I love stuff like that. Here's a virtual tour of the pieces they used.

I also discovered that Alvin Hall (happy American who advises Brits on how to get out of debt etc.) owns several of his paintings. How bizarre!

Friday, March 15, 2002

Me again. Hooray! I decided to finish the Bent interview this afternoon instead of taking a walk. Cos I'm good like that. So get reading!

Well, I'm at home on a sickie today. The stress of this week and other factors left me with a mo-fo of all headaches. But that doesn't stop me from blogging, oh no.

I am absolutely delighted with my Degrassi Junior High videos. I watched two eps this morning - perfect viewing for a sickie day actually! In the second one, Stephanie drinks port, kahlua and vodka nicked from Lucy's parents' booze collection before going to the school dance where she promptly yaks, leaving Wheels' hopes of romance dashed on the gymnasium floor along with the contents of Steph's stomach. Brilliant! (OK, I lied. Steph yakked in the toilets, not the gym. But I couldn't pass on writing such a great line! Will you forgive me?)

One of the best things about the videos is that they come with mini posters, bios and fan club info. Here's a rather sultry pic of the tart with a heart, Stephanie Kaye:

By the way, I *am* actually working on the Bent interview etc. - that one is nearly done in fact, but the rest will take slightly longer as I want to take lots of great pictures. I might take a bit of a walk this morning to snap a few and also to try and clear my head...

By the way, hope you all watched Clocking Off last night. It was completely absorbing. I don't know how they do it - it's some of the best character-driven TV scripting I've come across in ages. No matter what subject they tackle (child porn, dodgy exes, rape) they rarely run adrift into cliches, and always manage to throw in some humour. I'd love to work for them (Red Productions) - hint hint! :-)

Thursday, March 14, 2002

Yesterday sucked. Bad day at work, Blog*Spot down all day. But today, oooh, I'm a happy bunny today.

One. Remember the marmalade that was out of bounds? I now have two boxes - enough for a year at least!

Two. I had a facial last night, so I'm no longer a dry crumpled stress lizard.

Three. I made a rash purchase on eBay, which I told no one about until now - and they arrived today. The complete series of Degrassi Junior High on PAL VHS - real ones too, not the dubious dubs you usually see up for auction. (yeah, I know it's out on NTSC at last now - but this was still a cheaper alternative)

I feel justified, seeing as it was a big part of my formative years. It was kind of like a parallel universe because the characters were exactly the same age as me. School dances at 4 PM, drab Toronto school hallways, running for school president with dorky campaigns, Joey selling vitamin C tablets as "drugs", the bad sweaters and frosted lipstick - it was scarily accurate.

I was never quite as fond of Degrassi High, although I adored the somewhat outrageous and depressing School's Out! film-style finale where the word "fuck" made its first appearance ever in Canadian teen TV. As in "You were fucking Tessa Campinelli?" (insert Caitlin screechiness here)

Some other fun Degrassi sites:

Degrassi Update, a site devoted to cast spottings around Toronto. I.e. Snake was recently spotted moving house. Run by a girl I used to know back in my scenester days there - and she's still maintaining it years on!

Pat Mastroianni's own page - he who was Joey Jeremiah! Laugh at his B-list credits.

Degrassi, The Next Generation. Coming to your screens sometime this year, and featuring old cast members and their kids (eeeek! kids??)

Pics from a recent Degrassi reunion to launch the new series.

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

Gosh, there are a lot of people wondering what George Michael's Freeek video cost to make. Some of you are also trying to find out the truth about Britney & Justin's break-up. And heavens, aren't there a lot of you who want to see Gareth Gates naked.

Good luck! And welcome to Googlebombing.

There are so many stories of heartbreak and deception related to girl groups. Sure, lots of artists get cheated out of royalties, but to me it always seemed like girl groups or female singers got the worst of the raw deals. Just look at the Shangri Las or poor Florence Ballard of the Supremes.

But once in a while they get their own back, like Ronnie Spector earlier this year. Looks like Connie Francis is doing the same thing. Fingers crossed for her, although I don't remember Jawbreaker being a porn film, whatever you might assume about Rose McGowan...

Monday, March 11, 2002

Sorry for the lack of blogging lately -what with Blogger down on Friday and the fact that I don't really write much on weekends cos I'm a sitemeter whore and blog according to when I know the bulk of you read this thing...

So on Sunday the bf and I jumped into the car, determined to spend the rainy afternoon doing something other than slouching around the house. I love exploring Derbyshire & Yorkshire this way - you never know when you'll stumble upon a great pub or a fantastic antique shop.

Anyhow. I'm not the type to make pilgrimages anymore, but once in a while during our treks we become tourists. Like the time we popped into Portmeirion and it just happened to be the annual The Prisoner conference. (Please don't ask me to tell you about that, I'm still recovering.)

So yesterday, after tootling across the Moors we found ourselves once again swinging through Hadfield, filming location for The League of Gentlemen. On our first visit well over a year ago, there were no signs of the show apart from a newsagent selling crap handmade souvenirs, including a fridge magnet that said "This is a local fridge for local people, there's nothing in here for you!" (sic)

But oh, how things have changed. I can tell you now that Hadfield proudly sports one Royston Cafe ("for local people"), a bakery with a sign in the upstairs flat that reads "naughty treats below" and a motley of shops with handmade "are you local?" signs in their windows. Clearly, Hadfield has embraced the commercial ventures to be had!

Oddly enough, we finished the day with lunch in another filming location, Holmfirth. I don't watch Last of the Summer Wine, thank you very much, but I do like Holmfirth very much. Our dining establishment, The Riverside Cafe, was just what you need on a cold rainy day - puddings and stodgy meals galore, with nary a vegetable in sight. We had an ace, batty waitress who was bogling to T'pau when we stepped inside, and she made me the most enormous, delicious yorkshire pudding I've ever had. Mmmmmm.

Wednesday, March 06, 2002

Work is such a yo-yo at the moment. We'll be buzzing on a Friday, and crashed out and depressed by Monday. Welcome to the cruel world of tv development, where a company's prosperity depends on the mood of a fickle few commissioning editors.

There's been a lot in the press lately about the raw deal indies are getting from British CEs these days, and although I'm relatively new to the game a few things have become painfully obvious. Here are a few pointers for the Powers That Be:

1. Don't make encouraging noises about ideas if you're not serious.

2. Don't ask indie companies to spend considerable time and money on developing proposals, and then make them wait months for a reply only to dismiss the idea with a few sentences that could have easily been said from the word go.

3. Put your money where your mouth is. You say you want star-studded shows that will appeal to the masses - but then bottle out when you get the price tag.

4. Don't be so fucking VAGUE!!! Saying things like "We're looking for an aspirational format in an innovative vehicle for Saturday nights" means ab-so-lute-ly nothing.

5. If I hear the expression "too niche" or "our priority is broad returning formats" one more time, I will punch you. Be honest and admit that you don't want serious ideas and I'll happily write up a treatment of Monkey Tennis. It'll save us both time.

This all reminds me of an episode from the first series of Spaced, where Daisy goes for an interview at a woman's mag called Flaps.
"Thank you for coming, it's been very useful..."

Monday, March 04, 2002

Saturday. Felix Da Housecat. Sankey's Soap.

10:30 PM: Arrive at club. Pass first round of three filters of bouncers.

10:35 PM: Queue to be frisked. What do you mean, I can't take chewing gum inside???? What is *up* with that?

10:45 PM: Queue to get in. As we get close to the front bouncer # 3 shouts at us that coat checking is mandatory. Leave queue to queue to check in coat. Start to think "why the fuck am I here?" I should mention this is all takes place outside, so we queue again, shivering with cold.

11:00 PM: Finally get in. We are greeted by a sea of young students and it's not looking pretty. Not what we were expecting at all. Stiff drink to get us through it then - a vodka & red bull is £5.20 and a crappy Budweiser rings in at £2.80. Jesus.

11:30 PM: We discover there is a smaller room upstairs and retreat. Better music, older faces, not so crowded. We run into our friend Danny from Ladytron and his mates, which cheers us up immensely as it's always more fun to have a gang. Spot Felix DHC. Ooooh!

12:00 AM: Felix starts his set downstairs. We descend and I'm immediately overwhelmed by the mass of moving bodies, the lingering mists of sweat and smoke and the loud, pulsing music. He starts with a cracking song off his album and it sounds 100 times better than at home. We settle in near the DJ booth. The insanity of the situation starts to take me over and I literally squeak with delight.

12:15 AM: This is possibly the BEST FUCKING THING EVER. I'm dancing, I'm jumping, everyone who goes by says hello and acts like they're your best friend. I love it I love it!

1:00 AM: The mood changes. Some wanker shoves past me to try and grab Felix's hand. He spills beer all over me and trods on my gorgeous new shoes. We lose Danny and friends. Back to reality with a bump.

1:15 AM: Feeling claustrophobic. Retreat to the toilets upstairs. Suspicious puddles in every stall, filthy. Too many people.

1:30 AM: Any delusions I had about still being up for it have vanished. We're out of here.

2:00 AM: Can't get a cab as usual, so the 86 bus to Chorlton it is. A row erupts between the driver and a gang of lads and the police are called in to chuck them off the bus. Bit scary.

2:30 Am: Toast, kettle, bliss. I'm glad I went, and for about half an hour I was transported somewhere heavenly...but I won't be back unless we can hang out in the VIP area. :-)

Friday, March 01, 2002

John Willie Lees a dump? I take it all back. Club Suicide was ace!

Now, it's been a while since I was a scenester as such, and I tend to avoid anything insular like the plague. The bf and I were talking about how it's actually an advantage to go to these things having no clue who is who - that way you treat everyone the same. But while there was definitely an element of that last night, it was friendly. And the venue was quite a little gem! 70s, yes, but clean and houseproud. The funniest moment was when we saw the portly landlord reading a (crappy, it has to be said) Mum & Dad records fanzine, looking very perplexed.

The DJing was what made our night - similar style to (sadly missed) Minipop, which was a Jockey Slut night in Manchester. It's so nice to sit and drink while you listen to Felix Da Housecat, Christina Milian, Fischerspooner and can I say that the new Sugababes single "R Freaks Electric" is absolutely MINDBLOWING? Thank god our friend Matt has just given us the MP3 or else I don't think I would have survived the weekend.

Alpinestars were a bit of a let down - pleasant enough, but not really moving on from their last album. Vocoder vocals *again*, meandering soundsketches not really grabbing me by the scruff of my neck and saying "Am I not gorgeous?" The competition is fierce in electro land, and you have to be pretty clever to keep ahead of the pack.

We've got tickets to Sankeys Soap tomorrow, to see Felix Da Housecat DJ. So out of everything on the social calendar I set out last week, we've attended them all except for Mull Historical Society. Which was sold out...but we did see them on their previous tour so it's only a minor failure. Take that, day job! Ner ner ner...

Oh yes, don't forget to watch the new series of Black Books tonight at 9:30 PM!