Friday, 25 May 2007

What's wrong with the UK (part 2)

This isn't going to be in the same vein as the last rant. I'm talking about a different sort of wrong. As Hartigan (Frank Miller's Sin City) says:"There's wrong, and then there's WRONG, and then there's this. "

On Channel 4, after the champions' league final, there was an informative and enlightening programme entitled Celebrity Sex Tapes Unwound!!!. Nothing wrong so far (apart from the multiple exclamation marks in the title). TV, and most of western society when you think about it, survives on smut and celebrity gossip.

The programme consisted of discussing the top 10 celebrity sex tape 'scandals', by showing pixellated excerpts (no, that's not the wrong bit), along with various talking heads discussing the impact on society these tapes had at the time (still fine, even if it's just a poor excuse to show the tape excerpts).

These talking heads were made up of people you might expect: people in the porn industry, gossip journalists, lawyers involved in some of the cases, and Germaine Greer.

Yes. That's the wrong bit.

Gezza, as I think she should be known, was sitting comfortably in her living room, as though she'd just had a nice cup of tea, when what she'd actually had was a nice viewing of porn. And as usual she let her opinions be known. Just imagine it...

Germaine Greer discussing Rob Lowe's romp with two teenage girls at a political convention (long before The West Wing).

Germaine Greer mouthing off about Paris Hilton's prowess (or lack thereof, in Gezza's view) at giving head.

Germaine Greer talking about Tommy Lee Jones', and I use her own words, "magnificent cock".

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

The only thing that could be more wrong, is the sequel 'porn-umentary' where Gezza shows Paris how to do it right...

I apologise dear readers, but a pain shared is a pain lessened.

On the upside, I like the idea that I might get some accidental traffic to the blog from people searching for "Germaine Greer porn" - muahahahhaaahaha.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

It's a shame about rain... I mean, Ray

Koko disco ball
Originally uploaded by patfoz.
Months into my London sojourn, and I still hadn't really enjoyed any of the things it's famous for, such as Monopoly pub crawls (forced absence due to poverty), art galleries and other la-di-da cultural things (I ran through a few during the timeout scavenger hunt), and live music.

Well actually, I had been dragged along to see DJ Yoda at Koko a while back. I had high hopes that he would be mixing songs so as to put the verbs at the end each sentence in the lyrics, but was sadly disappointed. He wasn't even green. The only high point among the evening of deafeningly loud cheese-mixes was one involving the theme music to super mario bros. You know the tune I'm talking about. That had me excited for a while, but again I was let down. He missed the 1 up on the third screen and didn't even make it to level 2...

But I digress. The night out did leave me impressed with the venue - it's an old theatre now converted for gigs, with the biggest damn disco ball that was ever conceived in a Boy George nightmare (the pic above doesn't do it justice) . Ever since that night I kept noticing review of all the other fantastic evenings at Koko that I would have rather been at... Travis had their new tour/comeback gig there that was a sing-along love-in for all involved... Prince played a last minute quasi-secret gig there not long ago... now finally I've been to one.

You'll all remember Evan Dando as the long-haired slacker at the front of the Lemonheads, the band that had a hit with a cover of 'Mrs Robinson' - came out during our childhoods about the same time as Blind Melon had their hit with 'No Rain' with the fat girl in the bumblebee tutu and another long haired slacker as a front man - you know the one I'm talking about. For some reason I always had the two confused. I think it was the hair. Anyway, Blind Melon went nowhere, Kurt Cobain blew his brains out (possibly the greatest publicity stunt ever), and Evan Dando descended into a world of drugs and meaningless sex (I assume), only to come back stronger than ever. With slightly shorter hair. It's still long enough to cover his face so you can't see his features on stage, but it shows he's cleaned up his act. Just a little anyway.

The crowd in attendance was an odd mix: 30 and 40 year olds who must have been fans of the original Lemonheads incarnation, muttering things about knowing them 'before they were big' while queueing at the bar, as well as pathetic bandwagon fans like myself who only got into them 15 years ago. Since then, Dando went solo, went a little acoustic and a little bit country, but when the band came out and ripped through 'confetti', it was clear the band version was back to being a little bit rock and roll. They stormed through the hits from their back catalogue, and I sang along like a complete tosser (my heartfelt apologies to those people who were in earshot). Dando kicked the band off to have his little acoustic/country moment, and I kept singing along like a complete tosser (apologies again). He left the stage, clearly too early for the show to be over, and although we all knew there would be an encore, everyone clapped and chanted for more like they meant it. The full band came back out, played some more great songs and eventually left. But, and this bit is important, without having played 'Mrs. Robinson'!!!

I was sure that there must be another encore planned, despite the fact the house lights were up and the 'get out of the venue now' music was playing on the PA. I was determined to stick it out to the bitter end, with absolute faith that eventually they'd come back out and play for the hardcore few that stayed. Sadly, it wasn't to be. My gig companions wanted to go home, so I left Koko, stumbled out into a rainy London night and onto a crowded tube home.

Ever since, I've been avoiding all street press, for fear that there'll be a review mentioning the amazing second encore played to only a dozen or so spectators, and although I loved every minute of the show I saw, if there was a minute that I didn't get to see, I'll be ever so pissed. The problem with having a great time is knowing that sooner or later, usually sooner, it all has to end.

But it's all ok now. I looked up the line-up for Glastonbury, and the Proclaimers are going to be there. I'm going to start apologising for my singing now (anyone who's seen me at karaoke will know why)... I'm sorry. Truly.


Wednesday, 16 May 2007

What I read on my holidays

As a literate member of society, I feel it's my duty to inform, nay warn, people about the 'airport bestsellers' I forced myself through during my week off. So, for better or for worse (mostly worse) here's the inaugural Pat's holiday reading review:

William Napier 'Attila: the scourge of god'
Standard swords and sandals fiction that has unfortunately become much more popular but much less good in the wake of 'Gladiator', 'Alexander' et al. The usual mix: historical inaccuracies, sex, stereotypical characters, violence, and more historical inaccuracies. This is the first of a trilogy. You can almost hear Napier or his agent trying to sell it to a third-rate Hollywood producer if you listen carefully.

Ian Rankin 'The Flood'
I'm normally a fan of his Rebus detective books, but this is Rankin's first published novel and in a different genre. It's got all the hallmarks of a first novel from someone coming into their own in a 'young' literature (in this case Scotland). It reminded me a lot of so-called 'Australian literature', only being Scotland the weather and characters are much more depressed. Nevertheless, it's not bad. Has stuff to say, says it via an interesting narrative. Apparently this gets studied at university these days. I doubt this review does it justice. This book serves to remind us that even successful writers write adolescent, trying a little too hard, should have stayed a short story, novels.

Dean Koontz 'The Taking'
This book serves to remind us that even successful writers write absolute drivel.

Saturday, 12 May 2007

Back from...

guess where...
Originally uploaded by patfoz.
Hi all! (if anyone is still reading this, that is)

I'm back in London, back at work, and back feeling poor after a week in Cyprus. Selected as a holiday destination based on the daily average temperature and lack of rain. Staying in London too long can really get you down - the locals comment that all Aussie Londoners need a dose of UV from time to time, having noted the seasonal adjustment disorder like symptoms we get over here... anyway, I wasn't really expecting much from the destination except somewhere to swim and get sunburned. My one week impression of the place: it's the Bali of the Mediterranean.

Staying in Ayia Napa, I quickly became a little homesick - the beaches were just like at home... completely covered in lobster red Brits smoking and nattering away on their mobiles. How it made me yearn for Coogee! The town was made up of traditional eateries and taverns such as "the Queen Vic"... it really gave me a chance to experience another culture.

Actually it wasn't all that bad. We managed to get out of Ayia Napa and visit Nicosia (the split capital shared with the unrecognised North Cyprus, where you might have to go through a UN check point to get dinner), Paphos (with a heritage listed archaeological site by the harbour), and Petros tou Roumiou (the fabled birthplace of Aphrodite), so I managed to get some culture aside from my morning yoghurt. We still went for the cheesier tourism too, spending a day at Waterworld (claims to be Europe's largest waterpark, where you can haggle 2 pounds off the entry fee if you just ask for a discount).

Reading travel diaries is a bit boring, so here's my Cyprus cheat sheet:
  • Cyprus is apparently renowned for its cats. You can buy calendars of them. Not nice cats, but mangy moggie strays that circle you at restaurants hissing at you for food. Not an ideal destination for dog people.
  • If you were to risk your life, pick up one of these cats and swing it, you wouldn't be able to for all the churches. Every one horse town has at least 3 orthodox churches, and is probably building another one as we speak.
  • The beaches are disappointing: most are pebble, some rubble, and a small few are sand. The rare sand beaches are covered with sunbeds, bars and Brits and are much less enjoyable than lounging by the resort pool. And if anyone tries to tell you that there's good diving and snorkeling, don't believe them.
  • Classics buffs will enjoy the ruins and history of the place, but you're probably better off going to Greece or Turkey proper.
  • War buffs might like the idea of being able to see a UN no-go zone, but it's really not that impressive. The locals use it as a rubbish tip.
Despite all this, I loved the week in Cyprus, and on arriving back at Gatwick into a midnight rain, I would have given anything to be back in Ayia Napa sinking a Fosters at the Queen Vic.


Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Deja vu all over again

Long time 'pie readers (and I mean loooooong time readers, back when I was sending a few travel emails* in '04) might find the following a little familiar and/or ominous...

I spent the last weekend in France, visiting the folks in Verneuil.

For those who remember the email about the last time I was in Verneuil with my parents, you'll understand why I was a little apprehensive when they insisted on picking me up from Tours...

On top of that, my parents and I hadn't exactly parted on the best of terms when I left Sydney (the words "I have no son!" weren't actually uttered, but you get the idea), and apart from the occasional email there hasn't been much contact, so I wasn't sure of what sort of reception I should expect...

As if that wasn't enough, this was also the first time my parents and Rach would meet. And my mother has very little time for vegetarians.

You can already see that this weekend has disaster written all over it. I decided to look on the bright side, and was at least looking forward to the opportunity to write about it on the blog and complete the neat ring composition, linking the original email to the new tmafaopie incarnation - after all, you're meant to suffer for your art... so you have no idea how relieved and pained I am to write that the weekend was actually quite nice. Everyone got on. There was no screaming or yelling. We were still on speaking terms by the end. I'm as confused as you are.

Of course, there was a slight incident with the blender and gazpacho soup, but that's only to be expected. Seriously, who serves gazpacho soup? It's just tempting fate...

Anyway, only a brief post since I'm off to Cyprus now.

*if anyone still has the original tmafaopie emails floating around, could you send them to me? I thought I had them archived somewhere... but apparently not.