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I'm about to go on holiday! I've taken a week off though I'm not sure if I'm going anywhere. I'm definitely not getting in a plane as my boyfriend really doesn't like them (neither do I, to be honest.)

What I'm sure: I'll be off email, social networks and my mobile phone for the whole time. I want a complete digital break (though I reserve the right to playing a bit of Wii if I get bored of my books and letter writing!)

The last time I went off the grid was during a week in Crete a few years ago with [livejournal.com profile] king_prawn [livejournal.com profile] neenaw and [livejournal.com profile] wink_martindale It was momentarily interrupted when NeeNaw's mom called to announce Wacko Jacko had died.

What to do with my spare time? Day trips outside of London? Horror and sci-fi novels? The local pool? Zombies, Run? Sleep? Creative Writing? Perhaps a few nights in a B&B? Art exhibitions?

Going with the flow.
commonpeople1: (Sea)
The new Veronica Falls album "Waiting For Something To Happen" is lovely.

Veronica Falls - Teenage from Slumberland Records on Vimeo.

commonpeople1: (Sea)
The Song of AchillesThe Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I found this to be a beautiful and touching retelling of the mythological love between Achilles and his faithful companion Patroclus, from their first meeting as boys into their adulthood. Miller, an Ancient Greece scholar, poured into the novel all that is known about their lives and the roles they played in the Trojan War (as told in Homer's Iliad), with a bit of creative imagination thrown into the mix. Her style is very light, full of similes that evoke the period and the gods and entities that walked the land. She tells the story through Patroclus' eyes and by the end, as the Trojan war comes to life, you can't stop reading out of fear for what could happen to these characters you've grown to know and like.

Mary Renault, who also specialised in same-sex love stories (most famously the trilogy about Alexander the Great and Hephaestion's love) would have adored this novel. Maybe Miller is her natural successor? They are both fascinated by a long gone time when a man's love for another wasn't a problem as long as his duties to family and country were attended to. In Miller's novel you also get the added benefit of fantastical figures walking among men as portents of victories or disasters, or sometimes simply because they love too much the mortals they are bound to and can't escape them. This is Ancient Greece after all and tragedy is never too far away.

Teen girls have the fantastical creatures in "Twilight" to keep them up at night. Teen gay boys now have "The Song of Achilles", except that this is a very well written story that should please everyone, of all ages. I dare anyone not to be moved by the final page and I'm already playing cast director in my mind as to who should play these characters in the film version (which, if Zeus is fair, should already be in pre-production.)

View all my reviews
commonpeople1: (Default)


LET



MY



HOLIDAYS



BEGIN!!!!!!


commonpeople1: (Default)
A beautiful song, from a fairly beautiful and mellow album. Thank you [livejournal.com profile] ultraruby for introducing me to them.

Have a good weekend y'all!

commonpeople1: (Default)

While I await a new blog entry from Another Nickel in the Machine (the best blog about London in case you didn't know), I made the happy discovery today through Morrissey Solo that the BFI has quite a few documentaries available for free on its website (maybe films too?), especially early ones about London.

We Are the Lambeth Boys (1959)
Morrissey's “Spring Heeled Jim” features several samples from "We Are the Lambeth Boys", a 1959 British documentary by Karel Reisz about the daily activities of members of the Alford House Youth Club, Kennington in late 1950s London.

The dialogue excerpted in the song is from two different conversations, one about a fight between young men and another about abolishing of the death penalty. In the song the two conversations are spliced together to make it sound like one.
There's also a channel on YouTube - OpenFlix - with old films and documentaries.

This is what the internet was made for.

(This doc might be of interest to you [livejournal.com profile] fj, since it's about your neighbourhood!)
commonpeople1: (Default)
Hello Livejournal,

Welcome back.  I said some bad things about you while you were away... but now that you are here, I'm staring into your eyes, my heart is slightly aflutter and I feel... I feel... I feel sorry for those hurtful words! 

I'm glad you are back (however long that may be - we must all realise nothing lasts forever.)  I've been busy and neglectful but I promise that things will be better after this weekend, when I get my life back.

xoxo
commonpeople1: (Default)


Lady Gaga, Born This Way, 2011
I've been wondering for a while when the first Big Summer Album of 2011 was going to land.  Well, this is it.  It's going to be hard to find a better pop album this year.  It's exhilarating as watching Flash Dance for the first time; or seeing Cher live during her "If I Could Turn Back Time" period.  Sometimes you hear Madonna in the background, screaming for help from the Berlin sex club Gaga keeps her prisoner, but it doesn't last long - Lady Gaga thumps her shut with vocals that Madge could only dream of hitting.  Plus, she has infinitely more self-deprecation and humor than good ol' Madge, though she's just as obsessed with Catholic imagery. ("Bloody Mary", "Black Jesus", "Electric Chapel", H.I.M...)  On Twitter, there's this absurd rivalry between her fans and Britney's, which is silly because dead-behind-the-eyes Britney is now completely out of her league: everything about Gaga in this album screams hard work.

My favourite tracks: "Born This Way" (which I still maintain is nothing like "Express Yourself" - just listen to them side-by-side), "Marry The Night", "Highway Unicorn (Road to Love)" and "Heavy Metal Lover".  I detested "Judas" when I first heard it but it's one of those annoyingly catchy songs that just grow and grow in your head.

My neighbours are going to hate me in no time.
commonpeople1: (Default)
Hong Kong Panoramic by betta design
Hong Kong Panoramic, a photo by betta design on Flickr.
I discovered all the music I love in the early 90s through this music channel in Hong Kong called Channel V. They had a show in the early evening called Alternative Nation which re-introduced[1] me to Morrissey, Sinead O'Connor, Siouxsie and The Cure as well as helped me discover The Lemonheads, Suede, Cocteau Twins and Blur. I'd record my favourite videos on VHS tapes then play them late at night after smoking joints on my balcony.

Galaxie 500 got played too, but only their video "Blue Thunder". Over and over. I remember liking the photo negative feel of the video and the footage of burning cars. I never tried though to discover the rest of their music; they fell behind with so much other music around me that time. (Juliana *cough* Hatfield *cough*)

Until last week, that is. [livejournal.com profile] king_prawn  invited me to see Damon and Naomi (2/3 of Galaxie 500) play their material at Café Oto, which is just a bus ride away from me. There were a lot of Japanese fans there, thanks to their current collaboration with Japanese guitarist Michio Kurihara. We sat at a table right by the stage and I got drunk after three pints. King Prawn had said it was unlikely they'd play anything from Galaxie 500 because they were promoting new material, but then the encore came with "Blue Thunder" and King Prawn mouthed "Oh My God" to me.

To be honest, it was better than the original version. The lyrics were brought forward, plus Damon and Naomi are better singers than Dean (the lead in G500). You know one of those days that are filled with stress and you just need to unwind and take your mind somewhere else? It was like that, hands down my fave gig so far this year.

In two weeks, I'm seeing Low play the Barbican, this time with [livejournal.com profile] wink_martindale  as well as King Prawn. Now that I've (re)discovered Galaxie 500 and I'm listening to them obsessively (thanks alot King Prawn!) I can see how much they influenced Low and other musicians since then.

Damon and Naomi's material is also good and worth checking out. I was surprised and happy to find out that they also have a publishing company, Exact Change, that specialises in re-issues of Surrealist and Dada books that are out of print. How cool is that?! Now you know what to get me for my birthday.

[1] I say re-introduce because this music was around me on Top 40 radio in Brasil. I think brasilians didn't know what the lyrics meant but they liked the melodies, so they pushed singles to the top that didn't fare so well back in the UK. Propaganda's "Duel", for example, was a staple on adult contemporary radios!
commonpeople1: (George O'Brien)
Brighton RockBrighton Rock by Graham Greene

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

No wonder Morrissey loves this novel and quotes from it in many songs: it's pure English misery from cover to cover, with no redemption or ray of light. Brighton is the setting and just like the doomed seaside town in "Everyday Is Like Sunday"; the young teenage couple at its centre are like the loved and lost in "Unhappy Birthday"; and the gang of small time crooks - Dallow, Spicer, Pinky and Cubitt - are the rain-coated puny brothers in "Now My Heart is Full".

The novel is full of atmosphere and brilliant writing. You have to read it slowly to appreciate Greene's use of punctuation and the images he conjures in castway sentences. I loved the ray of light landing on a Woolworth's ring, and the Boots store not too far from the empty pier where drunks go at night to feel sentimental. I loved the various dark basements and the characters stuck in them: the mole-like wife of a corrupt lawyer, the blind dressmaker cuckold by his wife and a tenant, the cold stove never lit because breakfast is often beer and a purchased sausage roll.

The small-time gang get embroiled in the murder of a journalist which slowly spirals out of their control, especially when a busty lady called Ida decides to make it her mission to figure out the truth. Ida loves life and won't mind a quick shag with any man before her pint of Guinness while Pinky, the leader of the gang, is all virginal, Catholic guilt (a prototype to Morrissey's asexuality?) Caught in the middle is Rose, a mousy-haired waitress who knows too much about the journalist's death. You just know from the beginning that it's not going to end well.

Published in the late 30s, it captures an England that no longer exists and that is worth visiting. I haven't seen the two films based on it but I hear the one from the 40s is very good.

View all my reviews
commonpeople1: (Cabbie)
If you're ever feeling depressed or sick - life's getting you down - there's one easy and inexpensive thing you can do that will heal you immediately. This antidote costs less than £10 - one payment only - and you own it afterwards for the rest of your life. It is 100% guaranteed to fix you.

The only possible side effect is that you might get addicted to it, but research has shown that the likelihood is minimal and that most users experience only good effects before recovering their health and spiritual wellbeing.

I fully support this product and can vouch that it's healing powers are awesome. I'm currently using it and life finally feels so much better. I'm looking forward to using it on a fairly regular basis from now on.

And I think you should too. )
commonpeople1: (Jump)
Dum Dum Girls

The Dum Dum Girls have a new album, "He Gets Me High", coming out on 1 March. It include's a cover of "There's a Light that Never Goes Out". Fun!

Also excited to hear that Low have a new album, "C'mon", in April. Fun fun times - time to start saving my pennies for upcoming gigs.

I've been seeing posters and news stories everywhere about James Blake.  Watched some of his videos last night; was reminded of Antony and the Johnson's quieter moments.  I get the feeling the full album is one of those that only gives itself up after many listens, and perfect environmental conditions.

What new music is exciting you?  Think about it and let me know when I return from the garden.

P.S. Here's a great song by the Radio Dept. to download for free.
commonpeople1: (Sea)
The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

Barbara Kingsolver, The Lacuna, 2010
Remember the last time you read a novel that gripped you in a way you didn't want it to finish? Its characters alive on the page - their destinies more important to you than your commuter train's next stop? Two novels did that for me these last ten years: The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood and Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. I can now add Barbara Kingsolver's The Lacuna to this very small list and hope it's a sign of more great reads to come.

I was prepared to hate this novel: it's written entirely as the collected diaries, letters, book reviews and other documents by a Harrison Shepherd, and the first hundred pages are his journals as a young boy - writings that are a little too expository for someone that age. (Reminded me of the annoying and completely unsympathetic character in the twee-as-hell Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close). But then - suddenly - Harrison matures, Frida Kahlo shows up and the novel rights itself. Harrison is the cook in her Mexican home, witness to her tempestuous relationship with Diego Rivera and the arrival of Leo Trotsky and his wife. Harrison is also gay and aware that his love for literature may be the only way he can express himself in a world that can't accept him for what he is.  In Kahlo he finds a  friend and confidante who will stick by his side for the rest of his life. (If there was an Oscar for best supporting female character in a novel, I'd give it to her.)

The lacuna is the underwater cave young Harrison loves to swim to by the cliffs, the space left behind in the Soviet Union by Trotsky's exile, the gap in America filled with hate and fear of what is beyond its borders, the place in our hearts we try to fill with words, love and art.  The Lacuna is also a warning to present day America that the Tea Baggers rise is an irrational mood blind to its own twisted morality - not unlike the hysteria whipped up by the anti-communist pursuits of U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s, complete with its potential to destroy the lives of innocent people.
commonpeople1: (March of the Dead)
I found out today that I've been accepted to a horticulture course in Regent's Park. I was at the top of the waiting list and someone luckily gave it up. I've missed four days but the tutor is going to bring me up to speed on Thursday. I start next Tuesday night. It runs for 18 months. Things are looking up.
commonpeople1: (Jump)

Grace Jones
Originally uploaded by virgorama
If a bomb had been dropped on Victoria Park yesterday, it would have wiped out 99.99% of London's lesbians, gays and trannies. Are steroids flamable? Because there was enough there yesterday (covered by fine trimmed hair and tattoos) to set the EastEnd ablaze after the explosion.

I never saw so many gayers in one space. Gaydar and Gaymers banners floated everywhere, drag queens danced and sang on top of a makeshift 1970s New York club (NYC Down Low) while punters with real and fake moustaches lined to get in, Stonewall volunteers paraded with their banners and handed out stickers, and every corner seemed to have a beat going for a happy group of semi-clad hands-in-the-air types. It was all very enjoyable and sunny.

I've got some photos to upload tonight. In the meantime, here's my brief review:

Best Gig
Hercules and Love Affair, hands down. They were fan-tas-tic - like gods from the height of 70s disco coming down to throw a party for us mere mortals. They showcased a lot of new music and it all sounds bri-lli-ant. Possibly better than the first album! I hope they play London again soon, and I hope I can get tickets. Second album is scheduled for a September release, apparently.

Nearly Best Gig
Grace Jones, who changed headware for every song and finished the set by hoola-hooping through a whole track. She was funny, she had legs that went for miles, she wore a thong that showed off her toned butt, and she sounded like Dionne Warwick in the mood for all-night-sex. She closed the festival with a golden key she normally keeps in her 80s dub pop box.

Sadly Missed Gig
Hurts. So very disappointed I missed them! And New Young Pony Club, who we caught towards the end of their set and sounded a-ma-zing and good fun. Must listen to them on Spotify when I get home.

Slightly Disappointing Gig
Cut Copy. Their old material had the crowd jumping in happiness but the three new songs they showcased just didn't do anything for me or most of the crowd. It's a departure from their old material - one of them sounded like Dire Straits - but hopefully it's better on record.

Honourable Mentions
- Amusement park in the middle of festival! Ferris wheel, merry-go-round, slides - all right beside the gig stages. Genius idea.
- Hot lesbians who dirty danced and got everyone in the mood to jump around.
- Gay boys everywhere, in all states of (un)dress. Muscles and fat, smooth and furry, deaf or with just one arm, tall and short, in groups or alone and off their tits. So so so many boys - the lover of people-watching in me was thrilled.
- Lots of great food stalls to choose from. We had Greek wraps and a lot of bottled water.

Dishonourable Mentions
Cigarette smoking. Everywhere. All the time. One after the other. Smoke blown in your face. Over and over. I feel today like I had half a pack of smokes just from all the secondhanding. I had a very dark thought on the way home: if everyone who smoked suddenly dropped dead at the same time, a lot of the world's problems would be solved... the only cranky thought from an otherwise extremely happy, satiated, TIRED mind.
commonpeople1: (Paul Simonon)

Blanche Chew
Originally uploaded by olliefern
Yesterday, after arriving home from work and eating dinner, [livejournal.com profile] wink_martindale and I went over to our landlady's to check on Blanche. I had these terrible images in my head that we'd find her stiff in some corner (like my brother's hamster when we were kids, who was pushed under the bed in a cage and forgotten about for over a week) but when we opened the front door there she was, at the top of the stairs leading down into the kitchen, curious about us.

She didn't know what to do with herself: run ahead of us? Get entangled in our legs? Climb us like Spider Woman? I topped up her water bowl with some milk and refilled her food bowl, as per landlady's instructions, then sat in the living room with some of her toys. She immediately fell in love with my camera's strap and gave my arms and hands demonstrable love scratches. While Wink entertained her, I tried to get the Wii working and discovered that it's way too complicated for me; maybe I should go back to playing Chess.

Later on, Wink and I laid on the couches and got Blanche tired by making her run back and forth after a toy on a string. When she started panting, we knew our jobs were done. She curled up near my legs and we both took a nap.

I spent today at the community garden and wandering around Bow taking photos. In a while we'll drop by to visit her and play.

Blanche Sleep

// More Blanche

Blanche

Jun. 24th, 2010 07:32 am
commonpeople1: (Glasses)

Fluffy white kitten
Originally uploaded by Winchester SPCA
This weekend, [livejournal.com profile] wink_martindale and I will be babysitting our landlady's tiny fluffy white kitten Blanche. My landlady has to go to Spain for the weekend and asked if we could stay over her place and make sure Blanche doesn't misbehave.

My journal entries during the weekend, therefore, shall be known as The Blanche Diaries.

The landlady's Wii also apparently needs a lot of attention so I grudgingly agreed to make sure it stays happy and out of trouble.
commonpeople1: (Default)
The Magnetic Fields played a mellow and folksy gig last night at the Barbican, very much in spirit with their latest album "Realism". The place was drowned in a sea of bookish gay men and girls looking for tattooed boys from Birkenhead. Everyone wanted to really really open their eyes. There was also a four-month old baby that curiously stared at proceedings until the second half, when it was past its bed time; and there was a teenager who arrived with his parents then watched the show by himself. He didn't look like your typical Magnetic Fields fan.

There were some unusual choices from their back catalogue, some from the new album, one from the Gothic Archies and two from The 6ths. Lovely surprise of the night came in the form of Amelia Fletcher from 80s indie band Heavenly joining them on stage to sing "Looking for Love (In the Hall of Mirrors)" from The 6ths first album. It's about gay bars, apparently - where Stephen Merritt can admittedly be found when seeking inspiration.

Earlier, I popped inside the Curve gallery to see Céleste Boursier-Mougenot's exhibition. There are zebra finches loose in the desert-like space... and musical instruments. I won't tell you more because you need to see it for yourself. Let's just say that it's beautiful, hypnotic, free and will leave you with a smile on your face.
commonpeople1: (Default)

The Haggerston
Originally uploaded by olliefern
I really needed some alcohol yesterday. And I got it, in the form of a delicious pint of Guiness at the Haggerston (previously Sam's Bar) on Kingsland Road, followed by bottled lager in Passing Clouds, where friends joined me for an evening of films and conversation. I needed all the distraction I could get from this data entry temp job I landed in March. It's not the end of the world, but it sure is boring me already.

Do you know what is permaculture? I didn't until last night, and now I'm  glad I attended Naturewise's Permaculture Picture House, where two films were shown on the topic of growing food and forests. One of them is a fairly recent production - The Agro Rebel - focusing on an Austrian farmer and the sustainable farming practice he introduced into his community; and the other was a British-Canadian animation from the 80s about a French man who loved to plant trees and eventually helped create a national park. I thought this last one was based on a true story but, alas, I was wrong.

I love Passing Clouds and was happy that [livejournal.com profile] blu_bear , [livejournal.com profile] denalyia , [livejournal.com profile] woodsrule and her boyfriend T also enjoyed the place. Plans were made for a future weekend excursion, when the ground floor has live music, and [livejournal.com profile] blu_bear and I came to the conclusion that it would be worthwhile following up on one of the courses on offer, and definitely going back for the next Picture House in April.
commonpeople1: (Margaret)
I just got back from the Institut Français, where I was tested and interviewed; they placed me in the intermediaire intensive course that starts in two weeks. That's three hours a day for two weeks, which I'm planning on treating like a full immersion by only reading stuff in french, watching french films, etc, during that period. The Institut is just by South Kensington Tube station and I'd say about half the people that walked past me - even in the Tube ride there - were French. Sacré coeur! I'll get my rusty French off the ground in no time.

I also had an interview today with that temp agency I've been working with off-and-on for the past nine years. It's looking very good.

Tonight, we are watching some Wire with our dinner. Tomorrow, I'm volunteering at a LGBT organisation south of the river who need my help promoting a fund raising event in February. On Thursday we pack our bags, take a train to Plymouth and move in with [livejournal.com profile] sushidog for good!!

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