Sunday, 6 December 2009

Baking Friday (On A Sunday)

This photo I took makes my buns look like they're just floating in space, doesn't it? Admittedly, these little cakes are nothing special and were the result of panicking after a batch of flapjacks had gone seriously wrong (I over-buttered the tin, and my mixture was too sticky and watery to solidify). Still, this isn't too bad of a result for panic-baking - it felt like an episode of Ready Steady Cook with the annoying music and the audience doing the countdown from ten to one. I don't think it's bad, considering I can't bake to save my life.

Even though I'm blogging about this on a Sunday, it will actually be a Friday feature (er, I finished these at an awkward time on Friday night and didn't upload the photo until yesterday, so let me off the hook!). I was going to post the recipe, but I'm sure most people can bake a very simple cake mixture.... I hope. The real reason is that I've forgotten the exact amounts of S.R. flour, sugar and butter needed, even though they're written down and I improvised the technique without a recipe book.

When I get the recipe properly, I'll edit the post so you know.

Next week, Orange Biscuits. Hopefully.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Falafels: The Nation's Favourite!

Get me a towel! I love falafels and this little bit of falafel-on-pitta action is very tempting. It's too bad that falafels are hard to come by as it has been well documented that kebabs (donner kebabs) are the nation's favourite when it comes to takeaways after a night out.

Currently, the only place where I can get my hands on a few slices of the slightly dry, vegetably, bhaji-esque treat is in Pret-a-Manger where they do a lovely wrap with sun-dried tomatoes and feta cheese. The red onions aren't that great though.

But this might all be about to change! A recent report says that falafels are increasing in popularity after the increase in the number of Middle-Eastern restaurants and takeaways in the country. Hopefully this will mean that I will have easy access to falafels in the near future - it is my belief that they have to be better for you than a kebab which contains a mass of connective tissue.

I still love a kebab though. I don't care about the contents.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Waking Up To The Smell

Soon David Mitchell and Robert Webb will release their book, inventively titled "This Mitchell and Webb Book". I suppose the lack of thought put into the title suggests a quiet humour and the fact that they don't want to gloss over any of their thoughts about various subjects in order to please certain people - nicely refreshing.
Anyways, I've read some of the extracts from the book, including Mitchell's view on coffee. Surprisingly, I found myself agreeing with much of what he says. I'm surprised because I never thought I'd ever have much in common with the slightly odd, chipmunk-like comedian but apparently we share very similar views on one of the world's favourite hot beverages.
British people are very partial to a nice cup of tea (or a brew as I now like to call it in a tongue-in-cheek attempt to make myself seem more common than I really am) - in the past year I have moved slowly and steadily from loving a nice cup of fairly strong coffee to wanting nothing more than a fairly strong mug of tea. Not decaffeinated, as I used to drink my coffee though. Maybe it is the presence of this caffeine that makes me, like Mitchell, think that a coffee is highly unsatisfying. Maybe it's the way that coffee is made in cafes that makes it seem like tea's pretentious and snooty second-cousin. Does anyone else think that adding even the tiniest bit of extra milk to coffee gives it a slightly silt-like texture that sticks to the sides of your mouth?
Now, I still like a cappuccino when I'm out and about but I've never been into lattes or mochas or any of those syrup toppings you can get. I've had a frappuccino out of curiosity - from Starbucks no less, something that I feel highly guilty about to this day. It was disappointing to say the least - ice with cold coffee on the top and although it was refreshing on a warm day during the walk back to work, it was hardly worth the money I paid for it. I have also tried a mocha before but I found that it was the slightly insipid and tedious version of a voluptuous hot chocolate - that's hot chocolate made with water; if I compared the mocha to a full-fat milk hot choc then the mocha would be the resume who is put straight in the bin when applying for a top job. Yes, I found it that terrible.
I don't understand the concept of being coffee-literate either. In this way I would never make a good PA. People who require a PA tend to like complicated coffees, something along the lines of a double triple decaf-caff mocha semi-skim latte with 1/3 cream and almond syrup, whipped on top and a dash of chocolate sprinkles. I know people adjust to the needs of their boss but I couldn't do it - I would spend half an hour writing it down and another half hour ordering it while trying to fend off the questions about what else I would like. By which time I would be fired. And thrown out of the premises.
Yes, like Mitchell I would just like a nice brew. It's simple, satisfying and unpretentious. I don't want to smell the coffee.
PS. Sorry for all of the problems with the spacing on blogger lately - there's nothing I can do but wait for a reply from the Blogger people and hope for the best since I've tried everything else! Hope this doesn't affect your ability to read the articles - I know how annoying it is reading unspaced text!

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Away From Desk

Er, this blogging desk anyway, at least for the next couple of weeks while I get some stuff sorted out. It's been a bit of a madhouse and yesterday I was feeling guilty that I hadn't written anything on either one of my blogs for a good couple of weeks at least. But I promise that this summer I will be blogging a lot more frequently.

Yes that's a promise. And I won't go back on it. xx

Monday, 11 May 2009

It Could've Worked On Me!

Ah, Pot Noodles! Admittedly, I haven't had one in so many years and probably with good reason - the rice curry ones are a bit vile really and the only flavour I like is the beef ones. Oh, the sweet chili or sweet and sour ones are nice too but my stomach has shrunk dramatically over the years (completely natural! It just sort of happened as time went on and my eyes shrunk simultaneously) and I was no longer able to eat a full pot. So that's why I don't eat them any more.

At least, until now. Okay, this isn't really going to make me buy a Pot Noodle but hey, it's so hilarious that I would buy a sympathy pot, put it in the cupboard and think of the odd parodies every time I stared at it.

Curious yet? Well, peeps living in the UK might not have seen this advert either. There's actually two of them but they never get shown - while watching the third X-Men on Film4 the other week it was never off but since then (and since I've said to everyone "Have you seen that Pot Noodle advert?!") it hasn't been shown! Okay just the once on LFC TV but it's not exactly overwhelmingly commercial is it?

Well now I'm going to subject you all to the kebab advert! It's very Flight Of The Conchords:

On the subject of the Conchords, they're back tomorrow on Beeb 4! The songs have supposedly gone off the boil but from the clips, I'm not so sure! Here's a clip from their first series, their Pet Shop Boys parody "Inner City Pressure":

I do love a good late-night post. They always end up being the best!

Thursday, 7 May 2009

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

I think I'm a fan of the X-Men series and I don't know why. Normally I dislike action films and wouldn't dare watch one but I own the first on DVD and I have been watching the others curiously, thinking to myself "I know I don't like films like this, so why do I like this series?"
Well, maybe it's because there's some sort of moral or ethical question lying underneath there somewhere. So when I went to see the latest installment - er, well, prequel - I was looking forward to it. And I wasn't that disappointed.
I say this almost half-heartedly, because the storyline was nicely put together and explained some things about why Logan acts in the way he does in the original X-Men trilogy. No, the narrative was fine. Except I don't like sentimentality. It gets a little overly sentimental at times, which I suppose is needed for the story to make sense but, you know, it puts you off the action.
Here's why I'm half-hearted: well, there's actually two reasons. Firstly, Hugh Jackman. What the heck happened to the wise-cracking, cigar-smoking, almost playful Wolverine that we saw in the original series? I read another review of this on the NME blog and the guy who writes on the Movie Projector was dead on - in this film, Jackman only acts with the scowly face and the constipated face. Sorry Hugh, but some variation in your mood might have been nice. After all, you're supposed to be a happy lumberjack in the first half hour of so! Couldn't you have least have looked like you were leading a normal life? At some points it's hard to imagine how the Wolverine we all loved from the trilogy was born from this raging beast...
Secondly, and there could be a good reason for this, the CGI. It was flawless, and I mean flawless, in the trilogy, but here it's laboured and so fake that it looks like someone banged it together in a back room in a spare half hour. The best CGI is saved for Victor's claws - his claws, yes. Now if they paid so much attention to detail here how come Wolverine's adamantine claws look so fake? In the scene in the farmer's bathroom where he's coming to terms with his transformation, the metal doesn't blend with his skin at all - it looks like the claws have been stuck on. The terrible blue colour is also highly off-putting.
Then in the scene where our hero explodes the helicopter, the fire and carnage is so blindingly, obviously placed on to a green screen that you wonder if the setting is even real. And then the final sequence should have been flawless. And yes, Weapon Eleven does look pretty real (I'll give them that) but the effects on the powers and again, the setting, is so tacked on that it's cringe-worthy. Wolverine and his enemy are standing there and the sky is.... not there. Because they're standing in front of a green screen!!! Argh!!
Maybe I'm not being fair. After all, it's possible to say that because of the massive leak that happened with the movie that they had to put everything together quickly before the film lost its Box Office weight. Can't spend millions on a movie without expecting to get millions back, can you? Perhaps the leak hasn't done anyone a favour.
To pick on some of the positives, some of the acting aside from Hugh Jackman is solid and somewhat engaging if a little dry. Perhaps the introduction of fan's favourite Gambit was a good move. But we needed more Gambit. He was the friendliest character by far: likeable, cheeky and with some pretty cool powers (using a staff - lovely stuff to an RPG nut like me). We probably needed a bit more from Cyclops as well. He's on the poster and yet only appears for the best part of, oh, seven minutes? And never once does he wear those special specs. That's false advertising!
This film would have benefited from a less clunky script, a better lead performance and some more time spent on integrating the CGI. The storyline was good and, presuming you'd seen the trilogy beforehand, left no plotholes. But despite some good action sequences I was left slightly flat because of all the technical difficulties. Get your claws into it if you want, but it's a real disappointment in comparison to the first three films.
Sorry about the bunchy-up writing again. I've tried everything to get rid of it!

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Heels! Heels!

I was recently bought a pair of purple wedges with a platform and a straw-like heel. I'm told that having just the one colour on a shoe is not up-to-date, as a venture in my favourite shoe shops tell me.
So no, unfortunately they aren't these lovely structural Dior catwalk beauties but I could never walk in these anyway - phantom wedge or not. But does anyone else have a problem that heels are too difficult to walk in? Some fit snugly when you try them on and so you think that you'll be walking gracefully down the street in a pair of beauties.
But then you realise that the cobbled street outside probably isn't going to help your balance and you don't want to be falling over constantly like some klutz so you mournfully put the shoes back. I possess only two pairs of true heels and one of them might not count. Firstly, a tenner's worth of black patent Primark (yeah, yeah) courts with four inches of heel and the second are a reduced-price pair of Office black suede ankle boots with a funky round-the-foot zip and a three-inch heel, no platform on either.
The ankle boots have been recently worn but that was the first time since going to see Neon Neon in November where I danced so much that my feet swelled up and looked rather abnormal. I can't even remember the last time I wore the courts.
I think my point is that wedges are the way to go - I can walk in mine comfortably (but without pop-socks, they make my ankles too slippery!) and without the fuss of heels. Heels are now renamed hells. And I don't care what people say about wedges making your legs and ankles look fat - at least I won't be injuring myself 24/7.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Japan: Still Hidden

Oh God, how disappointed am I? I've been pretty seriously ill over the last few weeks and the one of the only things that has kept me mildly sane is the "Hidden Japan" season on Beeb 4. Now, when they said "season" did they mean a good few weeks jam-packed with programming? Like bells they did!
What we actually got was three hour-long documentaries and a couple of films shown late at night. That was it. Seriously. "In Search of Wabi-Sabi" featured the brother of Louis Theroux making slightly embarrassed faces in maid cafes and struggling to keep up with the intensive rituals of monks. Next was "Fish! A Japanese Obsession" which was a little more interesting (oddly, as I have no real interest in fish besides eating a bit of salmon now and again). This examined everything from the eating of fish to the breeding of Koi Carp and fishing for points (hey, now I know where they got the idea for Zelda fishing from!). Finally there was the illuminating "Japan: A Story of Love and Hate" which followed the life of 50-something Naoki and his 20-something girlfriend Yoshie as they battled against poverty - as he puts it "this isn't special poor, this is normal poor in Japan." I guess you just had to see it to believe it - I knew that Japanese houses and apartments were small but this one really took the mickey.
These 3 shows coupled with a Japanese word of the day that seemed to poke a little fun at the Japanese terms for phrases we had here was all I got. I've had a lifetime fascination with Japan and this is all the Beeb are giving me? I thought that they might explore manga and anime, look deeper into the weird idiosyncratic shops and rituals that they have, even explore the language of Japanese.... anything more than we got!!
Ah well, I guess I'll just have to wait until the next time they show anything mildly interesting about the country.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Gastronomic: Part Two

Ah, what a difference a week makes! No sooner had I watched in awe at "Heston's Victorian Feast" that I find out that Mr. Blumenthal's restaurant had been closed down because 400 customers complained of feeling ill!
So cue the jokes in the second of the series - a Medieval Feast. At some point during the initial history part, the Black Death was mentioned and suddenly from the corner I heard "Is that what you're gonna be serving in your restaurant then?"
It was funny, if in slightly bad taste (but then again I laugh at the strangest of things). But alas, no Black Death was served. Instead for appetisers there was Meat Fruit. Yep, meat disguised cleverly and convincingly like fruit. The plums were the least appetising (made out of an ingredient you're likely to see on something like I'm A Celebrity... 'nuff said). But the parma ham grapes sounded nice, I would've eaten that.
Oh, but the starter was vile! Blood sucking lamprey! Urgh! Even the guests couldn't stomach it - the raw head and tail were put either side of a griddled middle piece with the spinal cords of the little monsters fried and served as a garnish. Blech. Blood sauce as well. Double blech.
The main course looked at sounded nice. Pigeon pie baked the Medieval way. I.e. inedible crust but everything else about it seemed quite nice. At least until I realised how it was going to be presented. There is a showpiece for every one of these installments, and this week it was four and twenty blackbirds baked live in a pie. Only Heston replaced them with pigeons since blackbirds are now endangered. So, crust baked using some industrial equipment (steamrollers, cement mixers etc - it was one heck of a big pie!) he started putting the pigeons under the crust. When it came out and the lid was removed the birds flew everywhere.... and the dinner was taken out from the big pie. I don't know about anyone else but I wouldn't want to be eating a pie that's been near any sort of bird, let alone a pigeon (what if it hadn't emptied its bowels in a little while - actually one of the birds did on one of the guests' heads).
Dessert was clever but incredibly messy. Edible tablewear served with pork pie. Yeah, pork pie. Not real pork you'll understand but faux-mincemeat made from rasberry sorbet and vanilla ice-cream, strained through a grid and solidified with liquid nitrogen. Aha, really. Still, I wouldn't want to eat the crust which appeared to be a real pork-pie crust instead of a sweet treat.
Ooh, I can't wait for the exploding cockatrice next week!

Thursday, 5 March 2009


This is an image of some normal food - to me this looks like a little bit of steak with some mash potato or pastry placed on the top with a tomato and cream sauce (ooh, getting hungry!)

Now imagine this - absinthe and strawberry jelly, turned luminescent green and wobbling backwards and forwards thanks to the help of... four stripped down vibrators. Yes, really. But then, what would you really expect from pioneering yet insanely strange gastronome Heston Blumenthal?

The jelly was just the dessert in his show, Heston's Victorian Feast, based on the Mad Hatter's Tea Party and other elements from Alice In Wonderland. The appetiser was based on the Drink-Me Potion that turned Alice small. So he managed to find some way to separate six pink fluids, flavoured like pineapple, burnt toast, turkey (and I shockingly can't remember the others), and keep them separate in a strange shaped glass so that it wasn't a taste disaster. But still, surely creating mock turtle soup that is made like a cup of tea is going a bit far? Well, apparently not: for the main course there came an entirely edible garden. Everything from the soil to the pebbles was designed to be eaten. And that included a variety of insects such as worms, locusts and wasps filled with a tomato paste using a syringe.

Perhaps the most interesting part of this show though was the fact that he mixed the production and eating of the food with little interjections about the history of the different foods, showing where his inspiration had come from. It was quite fascinating seeing what the Victorians ate, who ate it and what it believed it would do to them and society. For instance, in the hard economic times of the Victorian age, insects were suggested as food because they were in vast supply in the country! Wonderful bites of trivia!

Oh, everyone who is able MUST tune in next Thursday to watch his Medieval Feast - it promises to be the same mix of OTT gastronomy and informative nuggets!

Confessions Of A Shopaholic/ He's Just Not That Into You

Hmm, so against every moral film bone in my body I have seen both "Confessions of a Shopaholic" and "He's Just Not That Into You" in the past couple of weeks. And I am afraid to say that I actually enjoyed "Confessions"! Shock horror!
So here's the reason why... okay, I don't have a reason why - Rebecca is a silly clothes-obsessed woman that is daft and in massively in debt. Hmmm, nice portrayal of women there Miss Kinsella... Still, it's light and frothy and since I was feeling so awful that day Isla Fisher's performance actually put a smile on my face. And I deny anyone to say that the Miami dancing scene isn't hilarious - the woman sitting next to me (not my friend, a person I didn't know) was in so much of a kink that she nearly keeled over on the floor. It's quite sweet as well - she does sell all of her clothes collection to pay off her debts and prove to the man that she loves that he means more to her tan Prada and Gucci (although they were an odd match... he wasn't anything like her at all!)
So then on to "He's Just Not That Into You", which is not nearly as insightful as it believes it is - after all, doesn't nearly every girl realise that boys hitting you really means that they hate you rather than like you? Well, this is the "revealing" segment that the film begins on. The stories with Jennifer Aniston and Jennifer Connoly in them are quite tedious and predictable, but Gigi's story is quite funny (I liked her, she was a little bit like me), and Drew Barrymore is very likeable. Actually, she probably didn't get enough screen time. All of the stories were linked, so you had to work out who was seeing who and manipulating who etc.
The best part, actually, was after the little titles introducing the various segments of the storyline (when he's not calling you, when he's not sleeping with you etc.) Here, semi-known celebs such as that woman who plays Angela Petrelli in Heroes (know what I mean about semi-known now?) reveal some little stories that link to the title of that particular segment. This was the most inventive part of the filming. This was the only part that felt more independent movie-maker rather than big-bucks Hollywood rom-com.
Still, both films are enjoyable as part of a night out - best enjoyed chilled with friends on a gloomy day (rain, depression, whatever) and preferrably with a bag of popcorn to chow down on!

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Lazy Post... But I Think You'll Laugh

Why is this post going to be really lazy but funny? Well, this little bold bit is the only piece that I'M actually writing, and the rest, including the pic, has been nicked from the Empire Blog - I sent this to my mum and she agreed. Hopefully you'll laugh and nod at the same time too!
I am, I think it’s fair to say, what you could describe as a cinema fascist. For me a trip to the local multiplex isn’t so much a night of enjoyment but an endless litany of irritations, injustices and insults perpetrated against my person by the general public. I suppose it’s an inevitable side effect of spending the better part of a decade being coddled by private studio screenings where we’re presented with nibbles, wine and the occasional Pret sandwich tray.
Such screenings, where you're often one of only a handful present, have become the norm in my mind, so you can imagine the horror when I’m occasionally dropped headfirst into the howling, sticky sea of degradation and depravity that is your average fleapit performance. Frankly, it makes me want to have a shower. And then kill everyone in the room. And then have another one to wash the gore off my hands. An overreaction? Possibly, but why, I ask you, do people go to the cinema when they clearly have no interest in actually watching the movie?

But I’m getting off track. Having been scarred by years of public cinemagoing as a civilian before finally finding solace at the bosom of Empire, i think it's time that something was done to improve the cinemagoing experience. I propose that we all unite to draw up a list of cinemagoing commandments (enforceable by some kind of nasty biblical torture), to which anyone viewing a film in a public place must adhere. It should go something like this:
1. Thou shalt not have stupid trendy hair that sticketh up and obscureth my view
All cinema patrons should be required, on pain of buzz cut, to sport a sensible haircut whereby the hair itself stays flat upon the scalp. Regardless of how much you think you look like that muppet from McFly, I do not need to spend half the film trying to peer past congealing spires of hair gel thank you so very much. The same goes for headwear – caps off when you sit down. And no, I don’t care if it’s street or cool or you’ve left the tags on to make it look like you stole it.While not a commandment in its own right, a sub-directive of this should be something along the lines of thou shalt not sit bolt upright unlest thou sufferest from some kind of chiropractic condition. Headwear or no, cinema seat backs are high for a reason: you’re meant to slouch. This is in part so you can enjoy the slobbish act of watching movies to the full but also so half the movie isn’t projected onto the back of your bloody head. Heed. Doon.
2. Thou shalt not shout encouragement to yonder protagonists
What’s wrong with you? It’s a movie. It’s an entirely one-directional experience and Matt Damon neither needs nor is in any way able to hear your vocal support. If you’re American then you recieve a grudging free pass on this as it seems to be an evolutionary trait caused by generations of watching Jerry Springer, which you're all now powerless to resist. The rest of you keep it zipped, okay?
3. Thou shalt not use sugar-coated chocolates as rudimentary weapons of war
A year ago I was forced to sit through a public performance of Spider-Man 3 (which was unpleasant enough to begin with) only to be struck squarely in the head by some kind of heat-seeking M&M. All I can say is down with this sort of thing! Perhaps I’m still scarred by an incident at the Harrow Granada in the late 80s when some muscled gorilla called Len came up and accused the 11-year-old me of doing something similar. I hadn’t, but that didn’t stop him from using my head as a knuckle warmer. The fact that his girlfriend later dragged him over to apologise did not make me feel a great deal better.
4. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's cupholder
Your bag of Minstrels does not outrank mine and you will not use the cupholders on both sides of your seat no matter how many snack food items you’re juggling. If you go both ways then some poor bugger is going to end up with a beverage perched precariously on his lap and that’s just an accident waiting to happen. Cup goes in holder, sweets go in lap, it’s the natural order of things and woe betide any who seek to challenge it.
5. Thou shalt not skulk around the back of the screen wearing night vision goggles
Are you in Splinter Cell? No? Then what on Earth are you doing? You look like a tit. Yes, I’m aware that the threat of movie piracy hangs above society like a headsman’s axe and if Harry Potter 7 ends up on the Internet before it's released in the cinema than the whole of reality will implode on itself, but do we really need the bloody SAS glaring at us throughout the feature? What are they going to do if they catch someone anyway? Drag them outside and put two in the back of their head? I’ve got a word for you, it’s called OVERKILL.
6. Thou shalt not use the lavatory whilst the feature is in progress
No, I don’t care if you’ve got a weak bladder, a nervous stomach or you’re on bloody dialysis, there is no excuse for getting up in the middle of the film and thereby forcing your entire row to do the same while you shuffle off to the loo. Just sit there, hold it in and next time don’t drink that four gallon bucket of Coke you indulgent fool.
7. Thou shalt not accept calls from thine drug dealer during the film
Admittedly this one’s a tad specific but it’s nevertheless something I witnessed during a Sunday matinee screening of Fallen (don’t ask) in 1998. Glossing over the imprudence of such an act given that the whole of special branch could have been downing popcorn in the back row, it’s also extremely annoying! That goes for any kind of phone conversation. If it rings you grab frantically at the offending pocket and fumble apologetically until you manage switch the thing off then sit really still for the next minute while hoping no one is staring at you. You do NOT even THINK about answering the accursed thing and ‘catching up’.
8. Thou shalt not purchase individually wrapped sweets on pain of torture
Anything that rustles is enough to provoke a sound beating but to intentionally purchase confectionary that requires crunching, crackling paper before every single mouthful is tantamount to a war crime. Do it at your peril and I’ll see you in The Hague.
9. Thou shalt not talk amongst thyselves no matter how boring thou findest the movie
Just don’t, okay? If you’re not enjoying it then just leave – quietly. I once sat behind two people who nattered all the way through Schindler’s List. It’s about genocide for god’s sake, have some bloody respect. If I told Ian Freer you’d talked through one of Steven’s movies he’d have branded something I can't print on this website across both your bloody foreheads.Also, while we're on the subject of noise, I'd like to add another sub-clause: though shalt not bray like a donkey. f it’s a comedy then by all means feel free to laugh – it’s actually encouraged. Do not, though, howl like some kind of lovesick baboon, thus eclipsing all other sound that’s not currently broadcasting above 20 decibels. This is especially infuriating when what you’re laughing at isn’t actually supposed to be funny, or at least not funny enough to warrant Fanta dribbling from your nostrils.

10. Thou shalt not sit thyself next to or in front of me if the cinema is half empty
This is absolutely non-negotiable. I am not your mother and thus will at no point hold your hand during the movie if you get scared. Bearing this in mind you will not attempt to sit next to me, a complete stranger, when there are plenty of non-adjacent seats elsewhere. You will instead adhere to a minimum three seat buffer around my person at all times unless the cinema is sufficiently crowded that this proves impossible. Likewise you will not place your presumably non-translucent self directly between me and the screen unless all seats outside the direct field of my vision are currently occupied. Should you neglect to follow this directive then I reserve the right to place hard metal objects in any space around me that I see fit, regardless of whether said space is occupied by a part of your anatomy.

I'm sure there are more but it's traditional to stop at ten so I'll leave any further additions up to you. Go forth and preach the gospel! Let us spread the word among the heathens and turn the multiplexes back into the hallowed cathedrals of entertainment they were meant to be. And yes, feel free to burn any heretics who seek to defy you. Amen.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Axed. Again

Argh - why do the network executives always axe my favourite shows? It must be to annoy me - they know I'm watching and think it'll be funny to get rid of the programme and watch my reaction.

But, in all honesty, I'm not too surprised that Pushing Daisies has been chopped after two series. Actually, I'm very surprised that it got this far! It's a technicolour, strange, hyperactively upbeat show about death and detectives with weird twists, an over-eager narrator and characters so weird you really couldn't have made it up. Still, I like it. I like it because of these elements, all baked into a blueberry pie!

Well, it's just so uplifting really. I like the fact that for once I'm not watching a show that's dark and filled with realism. Pushing Daisies is away with the fairies fun - and it should remain that way to put a smile on peoples' faces for a while to come. But then I accept that not everyone is like me, and not everyone enjoys strange fun like this. In fact, I can't think of many in my company at least.

Ratings... I hate that word!

Coming Through

The Observer Woman Magazine has finally come through for me. Today, to my slight surprise, was an article about the new generation of women who are desperate to have children - addicted, and have a fetish for it - heck, you only have to look at the case of the woman who had the octuplets to see that. And it was written from the perspective of women who cannot fathom this idea.

I am one such woman. So, as you can imagine, I read this article and agreed with the vast majority of things that were said (apart from the whole going to a dinner party and having to listen to a mother blather on about their experience part, that was lost on me). But then Polly Vernon wrote a quite funny piece on her thoughts on the idea of having children - it was me! She said that she'd made her mind up quite early, same with me, and that she hates the idea of buggies ruling over everyone else walking on pavements - I've been run over too any times to suggest that this is not the case. Buggies hurt.

But there was a more serious, underlying message here. To me it was about how we seem to have regressed from independence to wanting to shackle ourselves to 2.4 kids again like the 50s. I know my friends think I'm crazy, that when I look at a picture of a kid in a book I don't think it's cute or that I feel I want some of my own... well, no! Some of my friends are young, in their teens. And they're planning the day they want to get married and the day they want to have kids. One girl I know even has the names of "her two boys" planned out. The only advantage of this is that we discerned how we both dislike the name David, mostly because of its macho abbreviation Dave. Huh, what? Am I hearing things?

So I think they know that I won't change my mind for love nor money - but I want to live my own life. Do they realise that the work they're putting in now will be eradicated the minute they fall pregnant? On average, women who have had children earn 20% less than those who haven't, divorced women often blame their children for the collapse in their marriage, couples who have children spend more on food for their children than themselves and.... well, they're just unhappy in comparison to childless couples. Or as you may say in America, child-free. I like that term. It's not as discriminatory!

It's a culture thing. And the way you've been brought up, methinks. People look down on childless women, particularly since the whole hype around IVF and hormonal treatments is blown out of the water. Want a kid but are pretty much infertile? Adopt! There's plenty of children out there who need a loving home - plus, you could skip that whole annoying baby stage where they do nothing so that's an added bonus!

Tell me - am I being silly? Am I really a bit of a freak of nature or am I being sensible and looking at the hard facts before rushing into something I know nothing about? This post wasn't meant to condemn mothers - it was meant to highlight the fact that young - very young - women in particular are planning kids and forcing themselves into a strange, ball-and-chain situation by the age of 23. I just don't want that.

Monday, 12 January 2009

And On That Note... 2

I also read the Agyness Deyn article. Not much to say because there was so little said. A lot about Katie Grand*, her other friends and about Rochdale. And modelling, duh...

And er, not much else. Actually, Deyn didn't get on my nerves half as much as Peaches but it was more the comment at the end of the article that made my rage barometer go off the scales.

"Agyness Deyn is more than just a pretty face"
Read this statement. Now read it again. And again. Think about the ways in which Agyness is NOT just a pretty face... erm.... thin body? Sorry love, but apart from a couple of comments about stick-thin models (of which she is not one, as no bones show and her arms are not like twigs to which I will say my only kudos) you've got nothing about you! You flounce around tea-parties! In pink tea dresses! The only reason this one's famous is because of a.) her name (FYI, it's an anagram of "Deny Gayness") and b.) her style, which is slightly ill-informed but then I like a more tailored, smart-casual look, so what do I know?!
Katie Grand - for those who don't know, she's the editor of bi-annual fashion magazine Pop which is influential in certain circles. I would have been interested just to read it just once to be nosy but we're not that cultured up north. Sorry, but you've gotta admit that we're not!


I don't know why I did it, but yesterday I thought I'd read an article and interview about Peaches Geldof - you know, daughter of Bob who ran away to get married in Vegas, at 19, while only knowing her husband for a month previously (half of which was on Facebook or MySpace, so does that really count?)

Anyway, I don't know if anyone else out there has braved reading this article but it's full of contradictions and hypocritical behaviour. For instance, she claims to not respect the media for the way that she's been treated yet she has become a journalist. And then she goes on to say that she would like deep, meaningful articles but openly admitted to asking stupid questions about cheese in some of her articles.

Hmm.... I think the thing that ticked me off the most is when Peaches said that she'd been offered a place to study English Literature at the University of London and yet smugly said that she'd deferred for a year because she wanted to live the high life in New York. Oh god, I think I nearly died. I don't know what anyone else thinks, but is there a distinct.... smell of being a spoiled brat? Is that just me?

A lot of people have to work madly hard and grind themselves into the ground to get to where they are but Peaches seems to have glided through everything with such ease. I think this is like the episode of the Simpsons (yes, yes, I know, but it's a good reference point) when Homer meets Frank Grimes. Now, if I'm Frank and she's Homer, I'll eventually electrocute myself with rage because of the utter frustration that I feel from seeing someone glide through life without any sort of work involved what-so-ever. To quote: "You're what's wrong with America today!!" or maybe "You've got the house, the family and lobsters for dinner and all I have to show for my years of hard work is a briefcase and this haircut!!"

I'm angry, super-angry. I don't like sleb culture* anyway, but it's weird.... In another section of the paper there was an article about people being snobs towards the working classes and getting into Uni (er, college in America, right?) I think maybe Peaches got there because of who she is rather than what she is. And that's the worst thing about sleb culture. If you're not known, no-one wants to know. Argh!!

*Sleb Culture - Well, it sounds better than Celebrity Culture doesn't it? Actually I don't mind some of them because some are more genuine than others... I hate the ones that are only famous because of their parents....

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

30 Rock: Or, Why Sitcoms From the UK Are Rubbish

Over the holidays (hope you had a lovely one guys!) I've been enjoying the re-runs of the first series of 30 Rock. And it's brilliant. At first I turned my nose slightly, but I'm in the habit of giving things a good go before I give up and didn't want to do it an injustice based on the pilot episode.

And guess what? I've fallen in love with its odd, completely weird storylines and quirky humour. Tina Fey, who also created the show, is great as Liz Lemon, the long-suffering head writer and producer of "TGS With Tracy Jordan", a late night comedy programme that is, so I've heard, a stab at Saturday Night Live... But you rarely get to see the show itself unless something goes disastrously wrong (normally involving fireworks - hilarity!) It tends to focus on what goes on behind the scenes, and to be honest there's not much work going on. For instance, Jenna, who used to be the star of the show before Tracy came in and took everything over, is focusing on her film acting debut in the "Rural Juror" or "Rerr Jerr" as it's referred to - no one seems to be able to understand what she's saying. But my favourite line comes from sex-crazed executive (of both this part of NBC and the microwave division) Jack Donoghy, who is trying to think of things to say during a speech. Cue the line: "squeezing the juice from his mind-grapes". Oh lordie, how I laughed!!

The bad thing is it's making me think of how stupidly awful most British comedy is. Okay, there must be trashy shows in the USA too but you never see them. All the American shows I've seen have had something positive going for them while all we can come up with is reality show after reality show, things about dysfunctional families (although I'll admit that Outnumbered is brilliant - catch it if you can) and the rest of the programming seems to be dedicated to sitcoms about people who are old enough to know better. What a bore! My UK viewing is restricted to University Challenge and documentaries, and I'm increasingly not watching TV at all! Please can someone in this country come up with something... you know... good?

Oh, and bring back 30 Rock sharpish!!