Stylus Singles Jukebox: Fingerpaint the Entire Classroom

This blog on a Monday is getting a little predictable, nicht wahr? Post Of The Week results, followed by a link to the new singles reviews on Stylus… well, maybe I could use a little predictability from time to time.

In this week’s column, I turn the sharp glare of my critical eye upon new releases from Tokio Hotel (German teen metallers), Chris Brown (drippy, lisping R&B), Elena Paparizou (her what won last year’s Eurovision), West End Girls (Swedish Pet Shop Boys covers act), and The Go! Team (still flogging that 2004 album).

These blurbs are mercifully shorter and snappier than last week’s rather over-laboured bunch (and in the case of Tokio Hotel, which has been edited to remove factual duplication, even shorter and snapper than was originally intended).

Nottingham blogs: who’s out there?

Just under a year ago, I compiled a small list of Nottingham-based blogs of note. For reasons which may or may not become apparent, I’d like to conduct the same exercise again. So if you either write or know of a decent local blog which should be included in this list, then please let me know in the comments box.

Post of the Week: Week 9 results, Week 10 nominations.

OH MY GOD THERE ARE WINDOW CLEANERS OUTSIDE SITTING ON PRECARIOUS LITTLE HARNESSES AND WE ARE 11 FLOORS UP AND THEY WILL SURELY DIE AND MY PALMS ARE SWEATING AND MY BOLLOCKS ARE TURNING TO WATER JUST THINKING ABOUT IT.

Oh, are we on-air? Right then. Not much time, so let’s crack on with this week’s results.

Some weeks, there’s a clear consensus amongst the judges; other weeks, votes go flying all over the place. This week was firmly in the latter category; so much so, that – for the first time ever – only one post picked up votes from all three of us (myself, Ms Boob Pencil and Ms Stressqueen). Happily, this post also scored the most points numerically. And the name of that post is…

forksplit: F**k You, Barbie.

“Engaging”, said one judge. “A tale many of us can identify with; it is
delightfully written and contains a sting in the tail”, said another. Quite so, quite so.

Please place your nominations for Week 10 in the comments box below. This week’s judges areMartin R and Looby.

1. Open Book: Stories.
(nominated by Sarsparilla)

They held each other tight, seeking, one from the other, refuge from the storm. And in their tangled limbs, their slowing breaths, their resting hearts beating in rhythmic sync, they took, one from the other, shelter, comfort, and peace.

2. little.red.boat.: Stupidity hurts
(nominated by Rob and asta)

Pootle about, wash, make-up, some vague form of breakfast, some vague form of tidying, check everything is in bag, check again, check again, run around in circles, leave the house.

3. Blogadoon: Say what you like about Simon Hughes…
(nominated by asta)

Say what you like about Simon Hughes’ dramatic retraction of his claims to heterosexuality, but it’s certainly kept the homophobes in column inches.

4. Stephanie Sparer: “I’m spreading my eggs too thin.”
(nominated by Looby)

And then the real reason we were actually there with full face make up and styled hair at 10:30 AM on the dot walked in. Our professor. Names aren’t important. Played by George Clooney.

5. this too: Pop.
(nominated by Zinnia Cyclamen)

After thirty years in London, they still seemed country people, he and my plump rosy Gran, as short as him but twice as wide, her eternal respectable hats firmly anchored with a huge pin. Over their broad voices lay a soft measured primness quite unlike their city neighbours, learned, I suppose, from the land-owning family with whom they’d been ‘in service’.

6. Bonanza Jellybean: Boys Will Be Boys.
(nominated by Hana)

Men like to look at naked women. A lot. Asses, boobs, legs, all parts combined, you name it. They like it. IT MEANS NOTHING. And yet their women freak the f**k out about it. All the time.

7. GUYANA: the enemy.
(nominated by Zinnia Cyclamen)

I hear a crick crack snapping sound…and the rope bruk in two…and the second half o’ the rope turn into a snake, a two foot snake with a small, small face and thin, thin tail. Was a pale snake, sort o’ light grey-brown, pale, pale with really light markings. The snake wriggle past me and disappear under the old house.

8. diamond geezer: I’m up for a Bloggie!!!
(nominated by martin)

But it’s not the prizes which matter, it’s the acclaim of being voted for by thousands of random Americans who’ve never read my page before. Hello Wyoming!!!

9. The Religious Policeman: A Memo.
(nominated by mike, via Gert)

From: Royal Press Secretary
To: His Majesty
Date: 1st February 2006

Subject: Cartoons

As Your Majesty requested recently, in order to divert public attention from the regrettable demise of a small number of pilgrims in Makkah during the last Hajj, Saudi newspapers were instructed to revive the four-month-old story of cartoons about the Prophet (PBUH) in a Danish newspaper, and turn it into an attack on Denmark, together with a “spontaneous demand by the people” for a boycott of Danish goods.

10. Latigo Flint, Quickest Quickdraw in the World: Alternative Energy Sources
(nominated by Rob)

Benefits: Makes millions of hippies giddy with joy.
Downside: Sure, today it’s corn oil, but tomorrow it’ll be baby oil (the oil of smushed up babies) and soon it’ll be the oil from the eyeballs of endangered birds–we all know how these things go.

11. Rachel from north London: Clean skins.
(nominated by mike)

The change looks innocuous enough. Wives, parents, friends may even be pleased that the young man seems to be getting so deeply interested in matters of faith and spirituality. What can be more harmless and praiseworthy? Thus the fact that the young man is becoming interested in an extremist, violent ideaology slips under the radar. ‘At least he is not taking drugs, getting into trouble’.

That “four things” meme, then. (Sheesh, I was beginning to think that no-one would ever ask…)

Isn’t it great that Meg (*) has started blogging again more frequently? Quite like old times.
Yay, Spirit of 2001! (See also next post down.)

Anyhoo, in keeping with the Spirit of 2001 theme, Meg has tagged me with a meme. Mark my words, we’ll be doing “Which work of art are you?” quizzes next. (Remember that one? That one was massive.)

Four jobs I’ve had:

  • Demonstrating “Magic Plastic” balloon kits to gullible tourists, on the ground floor of Hamleys in Regent Street. (Evil stuff. Takes the polish off wooden furniture.)
  • Loading crates of electrical wholesale equipment into the back of trucks, in a warehouse in Doncaster. Only got the job because my dad knew the boss, and so was roundly despised by all my co-workers. “Character building”, allegedly.
  • Computer programmer for “Europe’s largest manufacturer of nightie cases“, as the people at the software house proudly told me at the time. Oh yes, all the big names: Poochie, Teddy Beddy Bear, My Little Pony (with free grooming brush), you name it. Management got free samples at Christmas. Jealous doesn’t begin to cover it.
  • Club DJ, in the days before anyone gave a stuff about seamless beat-mixing. Biggest Choons: The Only Way Is Up (Yazz), Theme From S-Express (S-Express), Big Fun (Inner City), Can You Party (Royal House), Alphabet Street (Prince), Sympathy For The Devil (Laibach).

Four movies I can watch over and over:

  • Actually, I never do this. But, um, boring answer: Withnail And I, which K has watched over and over.
  • Groundhog Day: it goes deep.
  • Breakfast At Tiffany’s: sentimental reasons.
  • There’s this Falcon Studios one from about ten years ago, where they’re all farm hands… oh come on, do you think I know the titles of these things?

Four places I’ve lived:

  • Doncaster (I only go back for funerals).
  • West Berlin (not been back since The Wall came down).
  • Loughton, Essex (99% certain I’ll never go back there again).
  • Cambridge (stayed away for years, until my mother moved there).

Four TV shows I love:

  • Six Feet Under: currently working my way through Series 4 on DVD – but I can only watch it when K isn’t around, because all that DEATH freaks him out.
  • Shameless: now into its third series, and still right up there with the greats.
  • Posh Nosh: we haven’t been so comprehensively nailed since…
  • Frasier: I even liked it when the quality occasionally dipped, which is always a good sign (though Niles and Daphne should NEVER, etc etc).

Four places I’ve been to on holiday:

  • Vietnam, which I wrote about at some length.
  • The Azores: one of the planet’s best kept secrets.
  • Gran Chuffing Canaria, with its fabulous Yumbo Centre. Crapshagtastic!
  • Lowestoft Harbour. Storm-bound, in a cabin cruiser, for four miserable days, with my perpetually warring seven-strong family/step-family. We got given 50p a day for the amusement arcades, and had to get into a dinghy and row across the yacht basin, every time we wanted to step ashore. Total and utter f**king misery from start to finish, which I attempted to alleviate by listening to the John Peel show, sitting on the chemical toilet, with a mono earpiece in one ear. Yes, I was that desperate.

Four of my favorite dishes:

  • The pressed meat terrines at The Druid in Birchover: like angels’ kisses, melting on the tongue.
  • The monkfish at The Bowling Green in Ashbourne: fresh from the Manchester fish market, delicately fragranced in a way that I didn’t know monkfish could be (as when monkfish was trendy during the early 1990s, everyone used to slather it in too much sauce).
  • The caramelised calves’ livers that were personally cooked for us by Marco Pierre White, on the day of our tenth anniversary. The Apotheosis of Posh Nosh.
  • Currently, it’s Tung Pau Yuk, which I’ve enjoyed four times in the past month.

Four sites I visit daily:

Four places I would rather be right now:

  • In the cottage, on the sofa, in front of the fire, with a nice glass of wine.
  • The Banyan Tree, Phuket: standing in our pool and staring into space, with a faraway smile playing across my lips.
  • Hangzhou and/or Shanghai, if only it were possible to “pop across” for the weekend. China got under my skin, in a way I hadn’t expected.
  • London. I wish we got to spend more time there. One day, not so very far in the future, we probably will.

Four bloggers I am tagging:
– with all due apologies if a) they’ve done it before, or b) they hate doing memes:

(*) Anna‘s sister. Gosh it feels weird, having to explain that.

Frozen: a brazen plug.

Everybody should go and see Frozen this weekend: an independent British film, featuring the wonderful Shirley “Moaning Myrtle out of Harry Potter” Henderson in her first leading role, which has finally secured a limited UK release (check here for screening details).

Last night, at a special preview screening, we met Ms. Henderson, who – along with producer Mark Lavender – introduced the film and answered questions about it afterwards. It was a strange experience, meeting someone in the flesh and then seeing them up on screen a couple of minutes later – and for the first couple of scenes, I wondered whether I was going to be able to suspend my disbelief.

It is to Henderson’s immense credit as an actress that, after less than five minutes, I was fully engaged with Kath, the character whom she portrays: a fishery worker from Morecambe Bay in Lancashire, with a missing-presumed-dead sister, who is determined to unravel some of the mysteries surrounding her disappearance.

Imbuing Kath with the sort of quiet, ambiguous, is-she-disturbed-or-just-different singularity of character with which she has come to be associated (I’m a long-time fan), Henderson compensates for Kath’s verbal uncommunicativeness by means of an extraordinarily subtle, intense, multi-layered performance, in which Kath’s facial expressions speak volumes on her behalf: you simply can’t tear your eyes away from her. To have constructed so rich a character from such sparsely and simply worded dialogue is an astonishing achievement, and a process which Shirley was happy to talk about during the Q&A (revealing an unexpected Scottish accent in the process).

It’s a slowly paced film – a mood-piece, beautifully shot on location in Fleetwood – and yet, despite the lack of constant forwards movement in the plot, I found myself riveted. There are mysteries to be solved, not all of which are ever fully explained (although you are given some fairly clear nudges in certain directions), and the film cooks up an intriguing brew of the real and the imaginary, the natural and the supernatural, the logical and the just plain baffling.

(Oh, and that gorgeous man who starred in the BBC adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North And South is in it. Woof woof, readers!)

I might have been on BBC Radio Nottingham today, commenting on the film – but we can’t stream radio at work, so I’ve no way of knowing. (It was a little disconcerting, giving a gushing review of Shirley’s performance while she was standing only a few feet away, in full earshot, but I’m sure she’s used to worse.)

Frozen, ladies and gentlemen. I commend it to the group.

Guest doodles resurfaced.

It’s good to see that Demian is slowly rebuilding Guild Of Ghostwriters: a hand-doodled blog which went AWOL a while ago, before being reborn on Blogspot.

It’s particularly good to see him re-posting the guest doodles which he solicited during the autumn of 2004 – and extra-specially good to see him re-post the three guest doodles which he submitted from me.

But what’s Pete Burns doing in there? (Second doodle, second row.)