Tuesday, 29 June 2010

G is for Gaga and Grandparents

Went on a Shire road trip to visit Grandpa Bowlface today. He's 92, lives in an unwittingly amazing house decked out in enough kitsch and vintage furnishing and wallpaper to stock most overpriced Shoreditch interior design stores for several decades, and takes me out to lunch to places where they paint 'CONGRATULATIONS' and flowers on a plate with free fudge for 'graduating' (which I haven't officially done yet, but what kind of weirdo turns down free fudge?) We drank Earl Grey, ate a load of cake and talked a lot about birds and converting to Judaism. It was the best.

As if my day off couldn't improve much, I come home to find THIS little bloggy nugget on twitter.

Yes gents, contrary to model rumour, this is Telephone-head Lady Gaga herself rocking the androgynous look. Two of my favourite things coming together in a beautiful slightly-Prince-esque way. For, nearly exactly a year after that ridiculous hermaphrodite Glastonbury motorbike scan(man)dal, Gaga has now shown exactly what her lady (gaga) bits look like in the Telephone video and demonstrated that so girly is she that she can even be a man. I've always backed the 'Gaga's a Man!'-dle, in that, hell, if she was a bloke, she was doing a bloody good job of being a lady. 

This piece of styling genius is down to Nicola Formichetti, internationally renowned stylist who I can pathetically name-drop after working the desk at Dazed and Confused during an internship. It took me at least two hours to work out how to put through calls from important types from the likes of Prada and Giles, always asking for 'Nicola' on strict first name terms. Shouty, continental fashion types are scary at the best of times, let alone when they keep being accidentally hung up on. 

Moving on, needless to say I am seriously considering getting a subscription to Vogue Hommes Japan now. Granted, I won't understand much of the text, and I'm not a Japanese man, but who knows which celeb may come under the androgyny treatment next?   

Saturday, 26 June 2010

For non-pet people, animals really love our house.

Unfortunately, due to the success of Justin (shitmydadsays) 's once-pathetic living at home existence which happily coincided with an elderly parent, this post isn't going to have quite the same pizzazz nor book-writing novelty. However, as my parents are not (yet) elderly and it has taken me three years of living away from them to realise the pure unadulterated and often worrying gold that leaves their mouths, I can be given this one as an epiphany.

For, in a mere two weeks, my parents could have aided numerous wannabe BBC 3 comedy writers with their bizarre and unwittingly amusing utterings. Arguably, that could be construed as not so many, but it's definitely something I've never really noticed before. Sure, there were always the classics; like when my mum dubbed a social networking site as 'myface', or referred to Radiohead circa '99 as 'that moany band your brother likes'. But it's reached a whole new level now. Particular favourites include:
- My Dad on hearing that yesterday was the anniversary of Micheal Jackson's death: 'that was all rather unfortunate, really'.
- and in general regard to the news: 'What are they doing wheeling that old dinosaur on?'
- My Mum on Australians: 'well, they're all descended from convicts anyway'.
- and on my graduation outfit: 'you better try that on again in case you've put on weight and you can't fit into it'
My favourite responses include: 'stop taking the piss out of the deaf presenter man, Mum'.

Therefore, when the aforementioned childhood-friends-come-of-age-village-parent-lunch-party was described as a 'champagne avalanche' at 11am today, I knew it was time to get involved. I was, however, mildly distracted by a small maternal shriek, which was immediately followed with 'THERE'S A SPARROW IN THE KITCHEN!' Even in the dual context of 'shire' and 'parental outbursts', this really was the stuff of fiction.

Whilst Mummy Bowlface has an irrational fear of cute newly-fledged sparrows under an all-encompassing feather fear, Daddy Bowlface has an entirely rational love and fascination of fowl. Especially buzzards. When driving. But I think that's just a Dad thing. Anyway, I walked in to the kitchen to find Mr. MiniSparrow (or Spuggy, as Kirsty Golightly so adorably calls him) perched happily on top of the antiquated toasting-grill above the aga, inside an inglenook. Add some alpine foliage and it could have been a Christmas card. I tried to take a photo of him, however, like most creatures I aim my early 80s SLR at, he swiftly flew off, settling for the microwave. After a bit of bemusement with a Jamie Oliver sugar jar, he found a bottle of vitamins as the next appropriate perch, before finally settling on his rightful place on Daddy Bowlface's shoulder. Never before has the Shire produced such a cutcopy of a Snow White and Zipedeedoodah video hybrid.

Can someone give me abs, please?

Old habits die hard. It's my day off from 'style advising' in high end retail hell and blogging has already been interrupted by 'style advising' Mummy Bowlface's lunch party outfit whilst simultaneously explaining my life plan. This wasn't even the old habit I was referring to dying hard. Because, friends, I've returned to the early weekend 'bed blog' - a means of psyching myself up for a run which has, naturally, resulted in me sacking it off. The sun's come out now - a couple hours ago it was still cloudy and under my duvet vague thoughts of dashing through fields seemed a bit like a Witch Hazel advert, from which I would return with rock-hard abs.

Alas and welaway, I shall remain podgy and maybe attempt a few crunches during Friends. Oh hai, being sixteen. Without distractions from the outside cultured world, such as The Creators Project, I find myself using sad bits of trivia and comments from the middle-aged ladies I serve as a root of autodidacticism. Or blog fodder, at the very least. Yesterday I repeated this feeble joke in both verbal and text form to at least four people:

'what's the best cheese to hide a horse?'

I got that gem off Radio One, which, Bowlfans, you may remember me shunning in light of Radio Four's erudite leanings. However, I just like 'chart and chat' of a morning when it's spent inside a car, driving to a place which insists on repeating the same Hits of The 80s CDs for eight hours a day. Yesterday it took my colleague about 4.9 minutes to comment on my 'neck beard' - a bit of tufty fluff which, contrary to the urban dictionary definition, was once my hair until an unfortunate sunny afternoon and a friend with scissors resulted in a feeble undercut attempt - before announcing that the septuagenarian she just served smelt like me. Upon entering the fitting room this lady had been occupying, I couldn't smell a thing, which proved her point. Apparently, it smells like 'dairy', more specifically milk - I'm hoping she's trying to describe the smell of cocoa butter because otherwise this is a whole new symptom of Shire Syndrome.

Later the influence of Gok Wan that all broadsheet weekend colour supplements like to comment on at least quarterly was realised as the following conversation occurred between two customers:
'oh, if you try that dress on you have to wear a belt with it'
'because Gok puts a belt with everything, so it must be good'.
It's sad but true that the man who adorns high street items with hideous haberdashery really is transforming lives.

Add a couple of Italians who I overheard saying 'Mamma Mia' and the fact that the campest hairdresser in the village down the road isn't free to deal with the neck beard until THE 8TH OF JULY and I had a thoroughly gob smacking day. Lunch party later: cue scenes from The Graduate. I'm contemplating printing handouts with bullet points justifying my graduate existence to save repetitive and awkward conversations.

Thursday, 24 June 2010


Good god, it is HOT. Not that seductive, slightly perspiring holiday kind of hot but the too-muggy-to-wear sweatpants (ironic, given the name), doing chicken-dance to fan armpit kind of hot. Especially when I'm blogging on the ancient parental PC which is radiating heat as it struggles to open more than four tabs on any one browser.

What's both cooling me down slightly and encouraging me to stay on this retro noughties beast of an electronic engine is the latest offering from The Creators Project, involving Bowlface favourite Spike Jonze. Even before we get to the vagueries of this man having been the inspiration behind Yeah Yeah Yeahs' indie ballad of dreams Maps, he's also responsible for cult film classics such as Being John Malcovitch, Adaption, and all the best music videos. I spent most of my Contemporary American Fiction seminars arguing with my tutor about why his adaption of Where The Wild Things Are is actually incredibly great and not ludicrously tedious and seeing as I am, of yesterday, officially First Class at English Literature (had to sneak that in somewhere), it's got to stand for something, as The Creators Project now recognises. Excellent.

Here's the vid. I've got to go and take a cold shower.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Shire Syndrome and possible cures

if more american apparel adverts looked like this my self-esteem wouldn't get such a bashing after Vice popped through my door every month

Some of you may be glad to know that since the pity posting things improved dramatically. I deleted 300 of my facebook friends, booked some flights to Munich and started some fantastical plans to become Jennifer Grey. Clearly leaving the Shire on a 48 hour impromptu dirty stop-out trip to London was highly necessary, otherwise several other cheap European flights would be under my belt and I'd be trying to get euros out of my minus money.

Being a dirty stop-out obviously wasn't my intention when abandoning the beloved Yom-mobile in the most economically friendly of Milton Keynes' station car parks at the peril of bored and potentially neglected local children. Instead, I was headed for a reunion with old school buddies at Camberwell College of Art's end of year show. This chap, in particular, as well as being a completely lovable long-lost friend, was luring us in with shiny invitations. I've been a fan of the comic geek since it was transformed into something Seth Cohen shaped in the O.C. However, Harvey's comic books, including 'Have Love Will Travel' and 'Not News Comix' are super great and funny, and accesible on his site. If Bowlface was the type of blog wise enough to have 'top tips', buying them would be one of them. Another top tip would be to bear in mind that 'Have Love Will Travel' was created in a week and a half with a brush, which makes it the product of such talent that my mind is a little bit blown.

It was, however, the second mega-inspiring exhibition of the day as I stumbled across the Sally Mann exhibition at The Photographers' Gallery whilst trying to avoid wierd hair-model scouting types on Oxford Street. Southern America + freckly kids with attitude + dead people + a load of clever silver screen photography techniques and that makes for one incredible first UK solo show. Especially when Mann's kids bicker with her in a video about touring photos of them as small naked children, which was like a much cooler art version of what happens when my mum thinks it a good idea to dig out the family videos.

Other than trying to smush Harvey's non-smushable face, my girltime companion and I figured we needed to calm down from two cumalative hours of inner-city bus travel with some inventive tea and ludicrously good cake at Soho's Yumchaa. This was just the start of an international gastro feast which partly justified the dirty stop-out-ing, (alongside the knowledge that if I returned to the Shire I would book some flights and maybe start stalking Harvey's native Shire-based home) and continued via a Chicken Sagwala and some Sunday lunch Dim Sum. According to a discussion going around the table at the time, Dim Sum translates roughly to 'little delights' which is simultaneously cute and creepy. I'd say the same description could well apply to Dim Sum itself; such as the fact you eat pudding (egg custard tart equivalent, well lush) before savoury and many dishes apply the term 'cake' in the loosest possible sense. However, it does mean that after last weekend's oyster experience I have made new food virginity loss a second consequetive weekend. If next weekend falls into a similar pattern I can see myself developing a new and scarily addictive kind of church.

Friday, 18 June 2010

pity post

I would promise that this wouldn't be a few hundred words of snivelling, self-deprecating pity post action, except it is. Surely the fact I'm blogging, sober, on a Friday night having chewed through the bottom of a tub of slightly old ice-cream (n.b, verb use of 'chewed') and switched off the TV after seeing that the episodes of My Super Sweet 16 are re-runs is enough to explain the title alone?

This time last week I was nursing foot bruises from awkwardly rocking to Bon Jovi in those shoes at the grad ball, and about to embark on a nine hour pub crawl before losing my oyster-eating virginity (like the first go at most things, it was awkward and a bit gross) on Northumberland street. 

A sneakily-taken photo of my friend sneakily planning my shock oyster eating experience.

Now, however, I am back in the Shire. Hopefully for the last ever time of permanent temporary residence, although those are potentially words that are waiting to come back and pleasantly smack me in the face. Delightful as it is: punnets of raspberries with post-it notes saying 'For Alice's pudding! Enjoy!' in the fridge, near-constant parental love, a cleaner, carpet that doesn't have stuff stuck on it and Joan-replacement, my beloved Yom-mobile; an early noughties Corsa (which apparently smells of dog but is pleasantly homey to me), a lack of young, intelligent people and any kind of society is numbing my brain.

I'm finding myself conducting life bitterly through the Internet. Just another symptom of my regression to a teenage state. Despite having stripped my bedroom walls of life size posters of general idol and all-round indie heartthrob Karen O and other geeky 'I'm into my music' teen paraphernalia, I'm still reading Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, becoming introverted at work because of my jumble sale handbags and moaning because we've run out of Shreddies (arguably, this still happens in my 'grown-up' life, except, as the person who buys them, I've only myself to blame). This Friday evening the closest I've got to social activity is the handing out of my parents' mobile numbers to old college friends so they can gatecrash their weekend activities in Lincolnshire. I wasn't even invited. I think the only difference between my teenage self and my current state is that I've not hit the gin supplies. Not because drinking alone is a level of loser I've not yet reached, but because my parents have probably locked the cupboard. On the plus side, I've just found Ferris Bueller's Day Off on Film4.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

deja vu deja vu

Despite being occupied with new activities daily, namely, dealing with the ever threatening prospect of leaving my beloved Newcastle, the deja vu blog post theme continues. Indeed, the theme is one of such recurring frequency that perhaps I am having deja vu about deja vu in a never-ending cycle... Enough of the metaphysics. This deja vu issues from one Jesmond takeaway pizzeria and yet another comparison to a bizarre early 90s film character. Sounds familiar, non?

Sociology Flatmate and I have developed a tradition over the last three years in which we call each other during our journeys back to the house for various reasons:
a) establishing if the other is in the house
b) discussing the purchasing of food
c) providing necessary chat during walking.
Thus, I should not have been surprised to find myself sitting alone in Mistletoe Pizzeria a good four hours before they expect any of the usual drunken clientele (approx. 18.30 hours) as a phone call of the aforementioned description revealed Sociology Flatmate's pitifully desperate need for pizza. I couldn't go home to such a sad, cheese and dough-deprived, face.

This is Mistletoe Pizzeria's quaint letterbox. I wish it would say 'pizza' instead.

Just as I was dealing with a cocktail of emotions - love for Sociology Flatmate; shame from sitting in Mistletoe Pizzeria at 6.30pm and, mostly, a strange absence of drunk Lancastrian men sporting mullets - the pizza proprietor switched on the sound system as a means of customer recognition. With it came a near-spiritual moment. Granted, it's probably got something to do with my current heightened emotional state, but music seems to be, wait for it, 'speaking' to me. I know, but carry on reading.

For example, a woeful departure from dear friends was accompanied by my i-Pod's shuffle choice of Neil Young's 'Don't Cry', only to be followed by Simon and Garfunkel's 'Only Living Boy In New York', my location as of September. Most than anything it probably shows I need to stop raiding my parents' record collection, but I was a tad spooked.

Add to the mix the following announcement from the pizza sound system: 'Welcome. Welcome to the end. Do not be afraid. The world is changing.' Weird, in many a way, but not in the least when this bizarre 'welcoming' broke into Black Eyed Peas' smash dance hit 'Boom Boom Pow'. Sociology Flatmate's adorable Dutch surname has resulted in our calling of her 'Boom' - the pizza sound system, therefore, was serenading her pizza with her own name.

As for the likeness comparison, the deja vu fails a little in that it emerged not from the Mistletoe Pizzeria, but from Jesmond Tesco's Latest Resident Big Issue Seller. In the past he has tried to persuade me to part with my hard-loaned cash with crude statements and catcalls. However, this time L.R.B.I.S posed a question of sorts so I couldn't just leave it at a withering glance.

Caught off guard, probably trying to buy essential Shreddies milk in so as to expose my homewear for as short a time as possible, I was told that I reminded L.R.B.I.S of someone famous, although he couldn't remember who. I did not suggest 'Superman's Girlfriend'. Necessary dairy products purchased, he cornered me on my way out with the opener 'you know Wayne's World'....

Turns out I look like 'Garth's girlfriend', a.k.a Honey Hornee, a.k.a Kim Basinger. She's blond. Despite this, I'm going to relish the retro-film theme to post the best educational/transformation movie montage of all time:

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

on a creative note...

'scribble me pretty' by Aimee Matthew-John

Oh wowzers, just as I was getting over musical inspiration of a morning along comes a combination of my favourite things in: underwear, fashion illustration, and names including the word 'pretty'. Aimee Matthew-John, my ever-present favourite young designer, has been shortlisted in the Triumph Inspiration Award, and my, I want to wear it.

If you feel the same way, you can vote for her here: http://www.triumphinspirationawarduk.com/vote/?v=1

Fathercraft and other creative ventures

Another bleak morning, another Woman's Hour-inspired post title. It was all good - about Victorian and Edwardian fatherhood; which tapped happily into all the notes on Victorian fiction I threw fairly unceremoniously out yesterday afternoon - until yet another episode of the cringe-inspiring drama attempting to portray the domestic life of a gay couple came on. And off with the radio.

Fortunately, there is a video offering from the Creators' Project to fill the gap left by Radio 4 historians. The Creators' Project being pretty much what its name would suggest: a lovely jumbly showcase of envy-inspiring creative types both established and about to conquer the world. It's quite something to be fronted with of a morning. This video shows Mark Ronson being somewhat blase about 'playing in some New York clubs' as a means of starting out and then making some fun beatbox noises about half-way through. From here I'm gunna check out Pheonix, CSS and maybe Nick Zinner as a kind of Goth-Elf desert. Yum.

Whilst I'd like to say that would merely be the start of a thoroughly creative and successful day, I know that all I'm really going to do is sit in an old lady cafe and maybe see some taxidermy. Still, yesterday turned up a few trumps after the somewhat negative morning prediction. For a start, I managed to complete the grudge shoe buying with relative success; after accidentaly throwing the lid of a lipstick somewhere under a pile of croptops in Topshop and getting odd stares from the assistant in Dorothy Perkins when trying to match my acid yellow dress to any of their mainly horrific shoes I got a cracking five inches of heel for £15 in the sale of a department store I'm too ashamed to name.

What I was most greatly cheered by, however, was the re-appearance of a busker on Northumberland St who, in my mind, is called Carlos. This bulky Hispanic chap is wooing the eldery of the North East with his leather jacket, slicked back hair and crooned out versions of ballads of the fifties. It seems I spend most of my life walking up and down Northumberland Street so I've become pretty familiar with the effect he has on his audience, positioned outside M&S. You can always expect to see some slightly goofy smiles, invariably accompanied with a foot-tap. Sometimes they hide their love for him behind a grandchild, who is rocking out to 'Hound Dog' when The Big C decides to step it up a little. These children often act as a medium for Carlos-eldery flirtation when he bends down and sings directly into their eyes. An unnecessary translation, you may think, but bearing in mind the threatening look on Carlos's wife's face when she turned up in a matching leather jacket, I'd say she was all too aware of the amorous grannies' advances. Anyway, yesterday it was taken to a whole new level, in which the Grannies had clearly won out: crooning 'I can't help falling in love with you' directly into her eyes, Carlos was a mere metre away from one lucky blue rinse. I've never walked into M&S with such a facial expression.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

inappropriate family jokes

Blogging Sunday has clearly become Blogging Tuesday. This is because on the Sunday just gone I spent most of the day, albeit situated near the laptop, but otherwise rolling around, moaning, and occasionally lifting my head to eat a pasta bake that should have been thrown out a while ago. See below.

Also, it's because I'm having yet another De ja vu moment from this time last week. Arguably, the weather isn't quite as poor - if anything it's an improvement on the last couple days - but it's still far from the scorching, tightless days of last week, and not in any way encouraging me to leave the house. Unfortunately, like last week, leaving the house and entering the terrifying commercial palace that is Primark is one of my few tasks for the day.

As pure, unadulterated evidence that I am a near-complete failure of a girl, I find the prospect of going out and buying party shoes an utter ball-ache. (Even the fact I use ball-ache as an adjective, despite not having testicles, suggests a femininity flaw somewhere). Cruelly enough, I have enough oestrogen to cause me to recognise that my one pair of party shoes just will not go with the dress I've dragged out of the back of my wardrobe for my Graduation Ball on Thursday - I'm spending money and begrudging shopping trips as a sole result of unavoidable recognition of poor taste. Via the dry cleaners.

Tuesday Blogging again, then, has come to the rescue in the form of necessary distraction from the chores of real life. Like packing. Leaving Newcastle in an ever-shortening number of days necessitates that I shove my overly large and pretentious collection of literature and glossy magazines into some kind of vegetable box (said box was nabbed from the Grainger Market yesterday, under both the guidance and inquisition of two equally charming and mean market stall holders). The box remains empty and propped up against the bannister. Maybe, just maybe, I'll do something about it. Both bleak prospects of shoe shopping (especially on a £20 budget) and packing were only a slightly better thing to wake up to after a threatening dream about a Primavera-style festival in Cuba, with bomb-dropping and me threatening to throw a vintage camera into the sea.

Some things have cheered me up, however. Switching on the radio to hear the dulcet tones of NME's first lady Editor Krissi Murison chat about being a girl in the music journalism industry, for example, was a nice treat. Potentially even nicer than the morning play about the private lives of gay men they had on yesterday. Then the suggestion of listening to Owen Paul's My Favourite Waste Of Time, which can't help but raise a smile, really. In fact, I've embedded it here as a reward for reading this diatribe of self-pity. Just to top it off, naturally, a familial inbox treat reminiscing on local old men who used to come and do assemblies before it turned out he was being convicted of paedophilia. Black comedy is the best medicine, apparently.
Also, as promised, is a sneaky review of Major Lazer's set at Primavera on Thiskindofmusic...seemingly I have achieved something in the last week other than a collection of equally bad tan lines.

Oh blogging, you're my favourite waste of time....

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

hey June, hey rain.

Even though I had been part of a collaborative prediction that today would be the worst day of the past two weeks; I hadn't foreseen drizzle. The prediction being based on the fact that I've spent the best part of last week and this weekend at Primavera festival in Barcelona. Primavera being a relatively, but gloriously, unknown event showcasing an impossibly well-curated selection of bands and DJs in a concrete jungle built upon Barcelona's coastline and attended solely by beautiful, civilised and international music geeks. That I didn't fall into this classification, and that we managed to blag a whole weekend ticket with our £15 Pitchfork tickets made my enjoyment even better from the position of festival imposter. There are some live reviews coming up on appropriately niche website This Kind Of Music all in good time...

Anyway, having spent the past couple of days in cold, predominantly wet, Newcastle; surrounded by the overdressed 'festival fashion' tweeny attendees of Evolution Festival, the contrast couldn't be greater. I was, however, still reeling from dancing barefoot to the Pet Shop Boys and their incredible dancers, screaming along to Major Lazer's remix of Say It Ain't So, lying on the beach, invading old man tapas bars and the like. Today I am bitterly aware that Primavera 2011 is a whole 363 days away.

The only thing that can provide solace is a healthy form of autodidacticism or mini-project. The former has become quite a list now, including Daniel Johnston, HTML, David Lynch and Evelyn Waugh. The latter, potentially more exciting, involves one of my favourite underrated British voiceovers: DAVE LAMB. The backstory involving a holiday that could potentially be ruined by a near-fascistic enforcement of Come Dine With Me competition, the challenge being to get a letter from Dave Lamb (Come Dine With Me narrator and general funnyman) to suggest this isn't such a great idea. It's become known, originally, as The Dave Lamb Project, a.k.a DLP.

So far, I've got as far as a twitter account; sadly without the option of direct messaging, and a seriously dodge-looking agency website. I am, however, going to call them. It's the only option for fun on a rainy Tuesday Blues morning.