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commonpeople1: (Sea)
I've received two phone calls this afternoon from the housing association that runs my tower block: there was some kind of water leak on the roof and the main electrical box has blown/shut down/died.

Looks like it will be an evening spent in darkness, with the company of candles and my iphone (until it runs out of juice.) Not looking forward to climbing the 10+ floors home.

On the plus side, I've got a gas oven (for my M&S moussaka), hot water (I hope) and a bottle of white wine to keep me company.

Might update later if electricity returns!
commonpeople1: (Default)
City of the Dead is a little known horror classic from 1960 that is worth checking out, especially if you like Hitchcock's Psycho. Although it was filmed before Psycho, it was only released afterwards. Similarities in plot twists branded it a plagiarism, but it's now obvious that both films were tapping into some zeitgeist that was just round the corner: the 60s' counterculture explosion.

I'd never even heard of City of the Dead before this last Saturday, when I saw it alongside other horror films at [livejournal.com profile] naturalbornkaos and [livejournal.com profile] moveslikegiallo's awesome Hemel Hellfire Weekender (a back to back horror films marathon plus a quiz, pizza and a raffle of lousy straight-to-DVDs that left everyone a "winner".)

The film revolves around a small village where a witch was burnt in the 1600s - a place now cursed with dry fog and creepy inhabitants. A young university student (a Hitchcock blonde) is encouraged by her university professor to visit the village for two weeks and write her dissertation on the witch persecutions. She arrives and stays at a creepy inn, where all sorts of warnings to run away fail to register in her radar. When she disappears, her uni beau plus her brother decide to investigate.

The film was known in the U.S. as 'Horror Hotel', which lent fire to the critics accusations of plagiarism. Like Hitchcock's Psycho, it has a profusion of stuffed animals hanging on walls, a ballsy blonde that walks straight into danger and a revelation surrounding an old woman's corpse.

I attended a talk at the BFI a week ago on Hitchcock's Women and their magic, delivered by Camille Paglia. It was an amusing talk, in particular because Camille sounded like she'd drunk three cups of coffee beforehand - she was so enthusiastic about her subject. The main thing that stayed with me was her theory that Hitchcock's women were quite independent and unlike the stereotype of the 50s dutiful suburban wife. Impulsive and determined (Rear Window), sexually aggressive (North by Northwest), daredevils (To Catch a Thief), an enigma to men (Vertigo). There were some elements of that in the women of The City of the Dead.

I then started wondering why these two films are so alike. Could it be their writers and directors were somewhat channeling the counterculture movement's birth (on the back of the 50s beat movement?) Psycho with its transsexual killer (upside-down sexual mores) and The City of the Dead with its satanism (overturning of Christianity, the hippies experimentations that led to new cults.) The chills and fears played upon by these films were the anxieties of their audiences? (Including women who are too independent and don't need men.)

Anyway... City of the Dead is worth checking out - perhaps even as a double bill with Psycho.



Oh look... it's available in its entirety on YouTube!
commonpeople1: (Default)
commonpeople1: (Default)
Further to my post about the gig at Brixton Academy last night, I wanted to throw out to you the question: how long until venues provide more restrooms for women than for men? 

I'm guessing that the Brixton Academy has six toilets, three for men and three for women.  At any given point of the night you'd see long lines into all the girls while the boys had no line ups.  It got to the point where girls went into the boys with their boyfriends/mates, bravely putting up with the urinal banter all around them as they waited in line. (But that got quickly nipped in the bud by security when they realised what was happening.)

Girls kept coming up to me and asking if I knew of a toilet out of the way they could use, that none of the other girls knew about.  So I told them that if they snuck past/tricked security standing by the boys, they'd have little waiting to do inside. This enormously excited them.

It's the same problem in every gig venue, club and what not in this city. It's as if these places are designed by men who don't think at all about the women that might use them.
commonpeople1: (Default)
houseofglass by yyellowbird
houseofglass, a photo by yyellowbird on Flickr.
She was one of the carnies, a young woman with long black hair that worked in one of the amusement park's booths. When the fireworks accidentally exploded inside the booth, she had been wearing a white dress. But it was somebody else who stepped outside of the booth that night, took her boyfriend's hand and walked towards the other rides. Nobody could tell the difference but me. I looked at her and knew it wasn't the same person.

Her booth stood abandoned, empty after the fireworks accident. When I went to investigate it I heard a soft whisper: "I'm here... I'm here." Invisible, trapped - she couldn't be seen by human eyes or leave the booth until the body snatcher returned.

I threw a blanket in the booth and it covered her form. She was crouching on the earth. But the only way to get her back inside her body was to recreate the fireworks accident with the body thief present.
commonpeople1: (Jehovah's Witness)
Sarah Lund and her sweater

Tonight's episode of The Killing is going to be epic. I hope nothing happens to Sarah's sweater!

I tried to say the show's name in its original Danish to a Swede last night.  You can imagine how misguided that was.

Sarah's sweater explained.  I don't have much trust on the upcoming American version but I'll probably watch it anyway... after I've finished the BBC Pride and Prejudice DVD that just arrived (weeeeeee!)



I'm going back on my promise to never again talk about the show...

Oh Shush

Sep. 24th, 2010 12:04 am
commonpeople1: (Jehovah's Witness)
I noticed a beautiful girl on the escalator at Angel tube station. She had that poise that good looking people sometimes have - as if she was somewhere else while we all looked in. Long, shiny brown hair. Dark eyes and smooth skin. Except... she had two large soot smudges on her cheek. I think she got it from the escalator's handrail. It completely disarmed her poise and made her interesting. I wondered how long it would take before she figured it out.

I met old co-workers at the King's Head for Neil LaBute's play "This Is How It Goes". It was a misogynist's homage to Alfred Hitchcock and race hate. In an introductory note, he said the play was inspired by Aimee Mann's songs. I've been meaning to check out her solo work. I listen to "Voices Carry" from her 80s band Til' Tuesday quite often.

Juicy Blood

Sep. 8th, 2010 11:08 am
commonpeople1: (Motorbike)

In Cold Blood
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
In the No. 8 bus this morning, a fidgety girl sat next to me. She wore tight faded blue jeans, red All Stars and black-rimmed glasses. She kept pinching her legs and stretching them as if she had bed bugs crawling all over the place. She was reading Capote's In Cold Blood, her body leaning against mine the whole way to Holborn. I was briefly worried the bed bugs would jump on me. There's a world-wide infestation on the rise, apparently.

I have a job interview tomorrow at 2pm. I already Facestalked the woman that called me yesterday and she looks really friendly.
commonpeople1: (Bekki)
I'm loving the new, creepy direction the Sugababes have taken:



I particularly like the bit in the video where they are chained to each other, with light coming out of their eyes - surely the best visual representation of what it means to be a Sugababe?! Up your game and match them, Girls Aloud (and do it soon cause the X Factor is about to start and I want to see you on that stage terrifying Middle England).
commonpeople1: (Jarlath)
The Woman in Black last night made me crave winter, fireplaces, Christmas, long black coats and ghost stories. Maybe it's because the play has a little bit of all those things, coated with a good dose of fondue cheese.

To the two 13-year-old girls sitting to my right who panted like ashmatic cocker spaniels and squealed like slaughtered pigglets until I was deaf in one ear, I hope Michael Jackson comes to your bedroom very soon and grabs your ankles just as you are about to fall asleep.

Is this Michael Jackson's ghost?

If you enjoy ghost stories and horror, in particular the ones of The Innocents school of scare, you might want to check out The Woman in Black (tickets in the stalls are only £20 in celebration of its 10 year West End anniversary). It's not Shakespeare, but it's also not some boring pretentious play that you can't engage with or muster interest. It has a neat story-within-a-story trick and some guaranteed jumps-out-of-your-seat and red herrings.

If only those two teenagers, though, had been dragged on stage and locked up forever in Eel Marsh House...
commonpeople1: (Jellybean)
I walk up and down Regent's Canal every week day because it's the easiest way for me to get to work. I wonder if a day will come when the canal is as clean as a fresh river again and London's eastend residents can enjoy it like an open-ended lido. I once saw a large carp in it, and the swans and coots don't seem to mind the floating plastic bags, but it still looks damn dirty and uninviting to me.

Yesterday, on my way home from work, I saw a student from the Bridge Academy in the water, holding on to his instructor's canoe while his classmates splashed him with their paddle. This morning, a girl tangled her cloth bag with her bike's front wheel, spun in the air and landed at my feet, griddled by her bike's spokes. I helped her up and asked if she was OK, then tried to make a joke that at least she hadn't fallen into the canal. "That would have been terrible," she said. She was deeply embarassed and cycled past me all hunched up, as if I might not notice her anymore.

Up ahead, I came across a note tied to the canal's railings. It said something like this: "to the girl who crashed into me yesterday (01/07/09), I never got a chance to get your number. Drop me an e-mail. ______@gmail.com" I wondered if it might be the same girl who fell off the bike - each day a different boy at the receiving end of her disastrous biking skills.

In the afternoon, I heard laughter and cries from my office window. I looked into the canal and the canoeing students were at it again: this time, at least three of them were in the water, trying to get back on their canoes while the others splashed them and fought like gladiators.

I'd be in heaven if I could go for dips in the canal on my lunch break.
commonpeople1: (Tom)
Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy

Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, 1985
I wish I could open McCarthy's chest and pour a little light into his heart. No matter how beautiful his writing may be, the lack of hope in there is a soul crushing thing to behold. There's also the question of Hell and the images McCarthy so easily conjures in his books; scenes as depraved, horrifying and poetic as a Hieronymus Bosch painting come alive. As a sinner, I now get an idea where I'll be going to when I die.

McCarthy is, hands down, the great master of the western genre alive today - but a western doused with horror - sublime and nauseating, unlike anything you'd find in actual horror sections of bookshops. Set in the 1840s, Blood Meridian is an epic quest across America's wild west by a group of degenerate, murderous scalp hunters after Apaches (or anyone, really, that gets in their way.) Scalps mean money, whores and whiskey. Scalps are in high demand in a world where "injins" are a constant terror threat. Like the horsemen of the apocalypse, these riders bring with them death and destruction to every corner of the wilderness they pass through, indiscriminately so. Their quest is a senseless, orgiastic descent into extreme violence and terror.

There's a mysterious and unknowable force at the centre of the story in the shape of Judge Holden, a large albino with alopecia who knows various languages, studies the sciences of the time, talks philosophy, and yet is the most cruel and insane man of the lot. Standing against him is a fourteen-year-old boy (The Kid), who shows a tiny fraction of clemency in his heart and is, therefore, a betrayer of God in the judge's eyes.

This is the first book I ever read which I wanted to re-read as soon as I was finished. Most of the sentences in it are so evocative they hint at entire separate stories/novels by themselves. And there's so much beauty between the cruelty that, perhaps, there lies the secret on how to find light in McCarthy.

Discussion at Wyler Nation.
commonpeople1: (Kisho)
The first person to leave a comment on this post gets to decide which song I should sing on my next Livejournal Phone Post.
commonpeople1: (Tom)
Squirrel Park


I took the elevator this evening with a nice old lady who lives on the 15th floor. I smiled at her and she asked me if I was the man she had talked to recently, the one who was moving out.

Oh dear... someone just confused me with [livejournal.com profile] iejw! I can't decide if I should take that as a compliment or an insult. ;-)

And I'm convinced Iejw and I will never meet in real life. It just seems like Fate wants it that way. He'll move out at the end of this month to some fancy gated community and I'm sure he'll stir clear of the tower block for the rest of his life. I also understand that this old lady wasn't the only one accosted by him on the elevator and told of his imminent escape from the tower block. The other day Kevin asked me if my "LJ friend" lived on the 10th floor; he'd taken the elevator with a guy who told him he had lived two years in the tower block and was now so very glad to be moving out.

***

I've been walking home most evenings after work, when the weather permits. My route takes me through Victoria Park and, as the days get darker earlier and earlier so do the paths in the park grow emptier of people. Two days ago, I found myself walking alone down a narrow path surrounded by trees which I shall call from now on "Squirrel Death Trap Path".

Nothing seemed wrong with this path at first glance. Sure, it was getting dark and there was nobody about, the trees bristled in the cooling breeze as if trying to warn me to stay away, but I was too immersed in my iPod to pay serious attention. I noticed movement from the corner of my eyes and caught two squirrels skipping towards me. They stopped a few feet away, stood on their back legs and rubbed their front paws together while showing me their cute teeth.

Aww, look, I thought to myself, they are hungry; they think I've got some treats for them. Aww, now there's two more hopping this way and also rubbing their front paws. Better get going; don't have anything to give to them and, in any case, don't want to be hanging out in this dark, narrow, path where nobody can see me and, jeez, isn't it getting so late, oh look there's one in the path up ahead, right in the middle of the path, and there are some perched on the foot-high fences bordering the path, and aren't those ones climing down the trees and hopping this way so cute? Better look back and see if anyone else is witnessing this. Oh. There are squirrels following me. There are three of them skipping down the path REALLY FAST towards me.

I may have speed walked undignifiedly out of Victoria Park.
commonpeople1: (Steven Lubin)
Girl Meets boy: The Myth of Iphis

Ali Smith, Girl Meets boy: The Myth of Iphis, 2007
Ali Smith's work is poetic and lyrical even if it is often about the mundane: offices, supermarkets, overpasses, high street stores, people stuck in dead-end lives. She mixes current trends like Facebook with big political issues, like the preference for male babies in certain cultures or the impending global fight for water resources.

This story revolves around two Scottish sisters - Midge and Anthea - and the different ways they end up finding love. Both work for a corporation intent on making a fast buck with bottled water. Anthea, the first sister to realize there's something shady about the corporation, falls in love with an androgynous activist who was in school with Midge, leading Midge to question her own views on gender, masculinity and love.

This novel's mood seems to have been lifted straight out of The Cure's back catalogue: the disappearance of Midge and Anthea's grandparents while sailing the oceans made me think of "Just Like Heaven"; and the sisters nostalgic and romantic yearning for ideal relationships was a sweet combination of the band's greatest hits from the 80s. Too bad the story flows away as soon as the last page is read.

"Girl meets boy" is based on one of Ovid's Metamorphosis, as part of Canongate's Myth Series. Other authors who have taken up the challenge to re-interpret an ancient myth include Margaret Atwood with "The Penelopiad" and Jeanette Winterson with "Weight".
commonpeople1: (Under Water)
I got that job! I received an employment contract through the mail yesterday and I start on the 14th of July. I'm a little nervous from thinking too much about my future co-workers, the organisation and the job itself. I'm tired of moving around; I want to settle with a job that keeps me happy; I hope this is the one. I'm handing in my one-week notice today (one of the perks of being a temp.)

Yesterday evening, Vanessa Redgrave walked past me as I waited for my train at Embankment station. She smiled at the couple with the baby sitting beside me. There's a glow about her, something soothing. Maybe it's the realization in my head that she doesn't think public transport is beneath her, eventhough she's somewhat famous. She was on her way to the National Theatre, I believe, where she's starring in Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking. Would anyone like to go see it with me?

Mile End tube station cracked this morning under the cackle, screams and laughter of a group of teenage girls by the ticket barriers. Their voices kept rising and rising until I couldn't bear it any longer: I grabbed a waterhose from the wall, turned it on and directed the powerful jet at them. The water pressure was so strong that I had to hold my ground. Their clothes got drenched, their slapper faces melted, their bodies were pushed against the soggy posters on the walls. A perfect way to start the day.
commonpeople1: (Log Lady)
Evangelical Christians have their eyes on Camp Crystal Lake


Documentaries like Jesus Camp [trailer] make me feel like never visiting America again. Scary people. Scary Jesus Land. Scary plans they have for their country, for the whole planet. The documentary did, however, give me good ideas for two horror films.

The first film is a new version of Friday 13th. The film starts with Camp Crystal Lake being purchased by an evangelical mega church for the purposes of using it to brainwash children and convert homos into good little Christians (the makers of the film could even get evangelical leader Ted Haggard to play the head of the church - I can't imagine he has much work since he got busted doing drugs with a male escort.) A group of teenagers arrive at the camp a few days before all the guests in order to bless and pray over each cottage. There's even a christian heavy metal group amidst them, who want to do a bit of soundchecking and rehearsing before the camp kicks off. It is thanks to the band's sonorous racket that Jason is brought back to life.

At first, the teenagers don't think much of the corpses they find because they think Jesus is striking dead the councellors that were indulging in sin (we can even include a bit of gay sex between two horny closeted christians that gets interruped by Jason.) Slowly, though, the horror dawns on them that Jason is not Jesus. He's the devil himself! They pray, they throw holy water at him, they hold crucifixes, they speak in tongues, but nothing can stop his killing spree. Finally, a councillor who was forced to work at the camp by her devout parents, and who is going through a crisis of faith, ends up being the solve survivor. She battles it out with Jason in Camp Crystal Lake's brand new church and manages to kill him (but not before blowing up the church to smithereens.)

The second horror film I had in mind is a sequel to the Japanese horror series Battle Royale. In this new film, two groups of people - evangelical christians and fundamentalist muslims - find themselves on a strange island in the middle of nowhere with an assortment of weapons (mostly of the medieval kind) at their disposal. A mysterious voice (who calls himself The Atheist) tells them that only one person will be allowed off the island, that they must fight each other to the end. After much bloodshed, one person stumbles alive to the island's escape pod, which from the start of the film both groups know only fits one person - and here I'm tempted to make one of the fundamentalist muslims be the survivor - only to find himself/herself ejected into outer space! The final scene shows The Atheist enjoying a glass of bubbly while staring at a peaceful sea.

I just know, deep in my soul, that I'd break all box office records.
commonpeople1: (Gayer Kiss)
Girls Aloud


You know how sometimes it's Friday, you are getting ready to go out clubbing, the champagne is chilled and the coke is cut on the mirror, you look at your CD collection and you can't find a single uplifting, fun album to play? You want one dance song after another, with no ballads or cheap covers in between; you want songs that will later play in your head, as you and your friends make your way through the city, the hope of a great night still in your heart. Fear no more; Girls Aloud's Tangled Up exists.

The album opens and closes with two of its most mainstream and soft pop songs - current single Call the Shots, and Crocodile Tears. In between, there's a mesh of genres underneath the hooks - from pseudo-jungle to 60s girl rock; 80s house to powerpop. References to long forgotten girl bands are sprinkled along the way. Remember 90s band Shampoo? Black Jacks could have been one of their singles. And even the Spice Girls' influence can be felt, especially in Close to Love (though the Spice Girls should have been so lucky to have this great song under their clown costume belts.)

The album's first single, Sexy! No No No, came out a few months ago and, shock horror!, Girls Aloud actually co-wrote it! Can you escape its brain-drilling power? No, No, No. Can you stop yourself from playing the album on repeat? No, No, No. Do you feel ashamed when your boyfriend comes home and says you have joined the 6-year-old consumer demographic? No, No, No. Does this mean I'll suddenly start buying albums from X Factor contestants? NO, NO, NO. Sometimes, it's OK to enjoy a bit of (organic) bacon even if you are a vegetarian; and sometimes it's OK to indulge in pop that is so supreme and energetic it makes Madonna's best efforts sound like sing-alongs at the local geriatric unit.

Like a kid allergic to everything, I'm stepping into Girls Aloud's pop bubble and letting them protect me from the world... until the next brilliant pop album comes along.

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