Thursday, August 30, 2007

Caught with My Hand Down My Pants

Q: What’s worse than renting porn?
A: Your parents thinking you’ve rented porn when in actual fact you haven’t, honestly.

So a couple days ago I came waltzing home through the front door after a delightful dinner date only to be cornered by my mother in the kitchen. She was watching me with one beady eye as I poured myself a glass of cold water. I had just begun to drink when she made the first move.

“The library called today.”

I froze with water swilling around in my mouth. Was something dreadfully overdue? Had I failed to notice a book I had yet to return? Had I lost something and chalked up a substantial fine, as I am often wont to do?

“They said you returned a movie to them. But the DVD case was empty when opened. Apparently you still have the disc somewhere at home.”

“Oh,” I swallowed in relief. QED. I just had to ferret around for said DVD and pop by the next day to rectify the mistake.

“The librarian said,” my mother continued, her eyes narrowing slowly, “the movie was called The Irresistibles.”

“Huh?” I stared at her, uncomprehending.

“That’s right.” She glared at me. “What movie would that happen to be?”

My mind was racing. I’d borrowed Swing Time, About a Boy, Dumb Witness and Under the Tuscan Sun, all excellent choices but none of them especially racy. I’d heard of shit like Free the Willy and King Arthur and Knights on a Round Table but The Irresistibles? That sounded like a bad x-rated version of The Incredibles… you know, where the whole family gets in on the action. “I didn’t borrow any such movie,” I told her truthfully.

“Oh really? Apparently you did. And they have the empty case in your name to prove it.”

“B-but –” I couldn’t for the life of me remember when I’d actually watched such a title. Had someone borrowed it in my name? But why? And how would they have gotten their horny hands on my library card without me noticing? I phoned M who denied having seen such a production but who assured me that Sunset Boulevard was every bit as good as I’d heard.

Puzzling over the idea of some easily excitable lad enjoying some adult fiction at my expense, I squirmed out from under my mother’s increasingly suspicious gaze. “Look, I’ll just go by the library tomorrow, okay? They’ll show me the DVD case.”

The next day, I swung by with the one DVD I had managed to find, About a Boy. The Irresistibles, however, still remained a conundrum. I sought out the person manning the counter and explained my dilemma and presently, the mystery was solved. As expected, he presented me with the empty DVD case for About a Boy.

On a hunch, I flipped it over to read the blurb behind, only to find that Ebert and Roeper had very kindly given the movie two thumbs up and in big, blue letters, proclaimed it “Irresistible!”.


In other very exciting news, (well exciting for me anyway!), I went a bit batty the other day and bought four cds I had been pontificating over for quite some time. I know, I know, piracy is just a few clicks away. But I like having something to put on in the car and besides, I feel some people deserve my money.

Just in case you, like me, are loathe to spend your eighty bucks (or so) or waste your time downloading something that isn’t worth a listen, here’s what I thought of them. Of course, my view is highly inexpert and highly biased and you’re welcome to avoid reading the paragraphs that follow. Whatever it is, I’m just sharing the love, so if you’re not going skip it, then zip it. (I’m just kidding! You know you’re welcome to say whatever you want, as long as it’s nice. Heh heh heh!)

Regina Spektor – Begin to Hope

While the title sounds like some schmaltzy American Idol debut cd with lame ass songs such as Do I Make You Proud, this album is really anything but. It’s cheaper than Spektor’s double album, Soviet Kitsch, while carrying some unique and thought-provoking ditties. Really, I just love Regina’s voice and all the little things she does with it and with the piano, so songs like Fidelity and On The Radio are refreshing changes from the slew of Katherine McPhee and Hilary Duff on MTV these days.

Deeper into the cd, there’s some slightly more atonal, almost avant-garde stuff and even a song in Russian, but it still makes enjoyable listening on a long car ride in the dark. My favourite track at present is Samson, a modern day take on the kind of relationship in which one lover can drain the other and still maintain that hold on them. Just listening to Spektor and the piano on this song can be a quietly moving experience and combined with her slightly Russian accent, it’s a charming moment. My only grouse is that Us was left out – thank goodness for youtube!

Mika – Life in Cartoon Motion

I dithered so long about buying this cd that when I finally did, I felt a little sorry, but not for long. It is a FANTASTIC pick me up at the beginning of every day. I dare you to listen to Lollipop or Big Girl and keep your feet still. Like everything Mika, this album can be pretty flamboyant, but he surprises with introspective moments on Any Other World and Relax.

Billy Brown is one of the funniest songs I’ve heard in recent times, and if you’re looking for more radio-friendly stuff, there’s My Interpretation and of course, Grace Kelly. The best thing about Mika instead of saying what he wants, he beeps, wails, howls and cries it out to the world… it’s a nice way to wake yourself up and tap into your inner drag queen. The hidden track at the end of the tenth song is a nice, soothing touch, too. Mika is freakin’ my age… if he carries making music the way he has been doing, those Freddie Mercury comparisons may just end up being justified.

Sean Lennon – Friendly Fire

This album is based on the fact that Sean’s love-of-his-life girlfriend, Bijou Philips, ended up cheating on him with his best friend, Max Leroy. Before Sean and Max could work things out after the relationship ended, Max was killed in an accident, resulting a cathartic album that is full of anger, guilt and unresolved sadness. Such weirdness could only happen to Ono-Lennon spawn! It seems like the whole album could be one big whinge, but luckily it isn’t. Sean’s inherited his Dad’s song-writing ability along with his Mom’s taste for the bizarre – I fell in love with Dead Meat the first time I heard it, but what a name for a song!

Unlike Mika and Regina Spektor, his music is much more toned down and easy to listen to, the tunes are actually really really pretty and the lyrics are intelligent and incisive. Parachutes is a lovely tribute to someone you love but who drags you down and Spectacle is a song about having a girlfriend who flirts with everyone else and is an exhibitionist – not very elegantly put by me, but you get the idea, we’ve all known one of those girls at some point. Tomorrow and On Again, Off Again are wonderful songs that evoke that depressed, lovesick vibe and Wait for Me even has a distinct Beatle-y flavour about it.

I’d like to say that I listen to Sean because of his father, but I’ve honestly come to love him as a musician in his own right. At the end of the day, people should stop kvetching about his parents and see that his pretty darned good all on his own.

Rufus Wainwright – Release the Stars

As usual, my darling Rufus is working it like it’s tomorrow and the rent was due yesterday. This whole album is one giant overdub extravaganza with all the operatic overtones of Want One and Want Two, with his glorious nasal vibrato soaring over the whole caboodle. I admit, it can be a bit daunting to listen to when you consider the sheer amount of sound that is layered into the music (as in Do I Disappoint You), but it doesn’t change the fact that he writes some of the best lyrics I’ve ever had the pleasure to read (E.g. Do I disappoint you/ In being only human/ Not one of the elements that you can light your cigar on/ Why does it always have to be fire/ Why does it always have to be brimstone. Desire).

I don’t know any other songwriter who would dare to write a song comparing Bush’s America to Nazi Berlin, saying that one city has already been messed around while the other is in the process of getting screwed over. Rufus remains patently frustrated with love and life, but not without his trademark wit – Between My Legs is like a requiem to Want Two’s Gay Messiah. Also, I recently saw pictures of him prancing around at a recent concert in drag – a top hat and tight fitting tuxedo dress that showed off his killer legs; they beat mine, well, legs down.

If by any chance you’re interested in trying out Wainwright’s music, this album would be a bad starter, it can be too much too soon. Rather, start with Poses (that album will change your life, I swear) and work your way up as I did, it can be a really kitschy, exciting, surprising and rewarding experience!

Okay, that was me screwing around on my bourgeois, music-reviewing high horse, I’m done for now. Basically, I just mean to say that if you’re in the mood to try something new, any (or all!) of these four albums can make really good listens, depending on your taste.

And even if you don’t like them, look on the bright side, you’ll have nice, sparkly new coasters!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Just 'Cause

Lately I’ve been a little out of it. Actually, I’ve been sick. As sick as. Sick like I-can-barely-be-bothered-at-what’s-going-on-around-me-because-I’m-too-busy –bothering-about-this-glazed-eyed-freak-trip-my-head-is-on-sick. I spent a couple of days in bed, groaning around the house to anyone who would listen. I lost my voice and if you know me, you’ll know what a nightmare that is for me… My vocal range morphed into something that straddled Louis Armstrong and Mickey Mouse and I wheezed my way through the last two days.

Today, however, I had one of the most perfect days of my life. I didn’t do anything particularly exceptional or out of the way. I just was.

I woke up to my brother telling me he’d ordered hotcakes and hashbrowns for breakfast and we ate while watching an Agatha Christie movie. I drove him to school and then stopped by at M’s house and on a whim, we bought ingredients to make an authentic Italian tiramisu.

I’m fully aware of all the risks involved with making dessert, there was the time I followed a seemingly easy cake recipe by Jamie “Just bash it in the oven” Oliver and ended up with a chocolate waterbed that had a floury core not even the dog would eat. But today, we followed the recipe half the time, winged it the other half and ended up with something that was close to one-star Michelin fare. The Italian lady’s fingers that we managed to find soaked up the brandy and tasted like feathers tipped with creamy marscapone.

We ate and watched The Nightmare Before Christmas and played the game and just lounged around on the couch until I had to drive home. It was a really great afternoon, and I drove back with the taste of tiramisu on my tongue and weaving in and out with other cars in a dance in the highway. The sun was glinting in on the dashboard and the car smelled faintly of M’s clean shirt, the way it usually does when we go for a ride.

I sang loudly all the way home.

So I’m here, talking about it, not because it was spectacular or anything. Really, it was just a simple day when everything seemed to go right, when I felt loved and safe and happy and I had nothing on my mind but how blue the sky looked and how much fun I’d had with M.

And it occurred to me that instead of bitching all the time and thinking about how unfair and hard life could be sometimes, I should just celebrate the normal everyday wonders that trickle pleasantly by and make a regular day with a wonderful person something spectacular.
Nothing comes from nothing.

But you don’t need a whole lot to make something good.

So here I am, just ‘cause.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Scream with Me, Baby.

So yesterday I was out and about, doing my thing, skipping around town and having lunch with my mother. We went to this great Japanese restaurant in Wheelock Place and I’d bought an album from Borders and everything was going well until we decided to walk to the carpark and park the car down the street to commence an afternoon of shopping.

The Wheelock Place carpark was pretty crowded by the time my mom got there at lunch, so she parked quite near a pillar and this bunch of pipes. As we were walking to the car, I noticed that this manhole in the ground had been left open, right by the pipes near the car. You’re thinking either my mom or I is going to fall in at this point, and were this a conventional day, you’d probably be right. As it was, things got even worse.

We got into the car and there I was, swinging my legs in the passenger’s seat and singing Fat Bottomed Girls when I felt a strange, light tickling on my foot. Now, this is a tickling I’ve felt a few times before in my life and you’ll know what I mean when I said my blood ran cold. Feigning nonchalance, I took a surreptitious peek in the general direction of my sandal-clad toes.

And yes.

There was a big, fat, black cockroach squirming around on my lovely, soft skin.
Turns out the manhole was the access to a sewer that some gook had left open with the half-assed idea that this would be a perfect way to air the carpark (fire the asswipe, Mr Wheelock!). Mr Periplaneta America simply decided to take an afternoon stroll and slid into the well-cushioned comfort of our Hyundai.

Okay. I don’t like cockroaches. And for some reason, the day that I was born, God had it ordained that I would be plagued by this scourge for the rest of my life due to my refusal to worship him whole-heartedly. You think Sodom and Gomorrah were bad? Try being surprised at every turn by what Wikipedia calls “very mobile” and “a capable flier”. I don’t mind looking at one and even sharing a space with one. But cross my personal space line and our relationship is OVER.

When I was in the Philippines, one such Blattidae ran over my ankle, tap-dancing gleefully as it went. When I was four years old and my nanny was giving me an afternoon shower, a cockroach ran out of the sinkhole and nibbled the sole of my foot, prompting my nanny to squeal, “It is kissing you!” delightedly. Imagine that. I lost my first kiss to an arthropod of the lowest order.

And way back when, during the time that I was living in the East Coast on the top floor of an eighteen year-old penthouse, a ginormous brown roach the length of my finger actually dropped from the ceiling onto my neck where we stared at each other in horror before it bungeed to the floor and scuttled for safety.

All this was racing through my mind as I stared at the six legged critter that was frantically pattering around on the floor of the passenger seat. At this point, I stamped my foot in an effort to get it off and instead, it slid into the space between my big toe and my sandal and wedged itself there while struggling in an extremely ungainly fashion.

I could feel its dry, crunchy wings beating in a papery way against my skin and the tiny hairs on its legs clawing at me. I could see the horror in its beady black eyes, a horror that was reflected in my own. And I just about died then and there.

“What are you doing?” My mother asked.

I told her and instantly she gave a shriek and shrank into the side of the cabin with one hand on the steering wheel. My mother supposedly did her thesis on giant grasshoppers in college but watching her face-off with this blighter, you wouldn’t know it to be true. “Stomp it!” She yelled. “Stomp it and kill it!”

“Are you kidding me?” I yelled back as the car swerved dangerously. “I’m not going to dirty my shoe! And it will go CRUNCH. You know it will!”

My mother glared at me as if I had done her some great injustice. “You’re a ninny!” She screamed. “A coward and a ninny! Stomp it NOW!” Someone honked at us in the lane running parallel to this one.

“You stomp it, if you’re going to talk so big.” I huffed.

“I’m driving,” she spat. “Do you want me to crash the car?”

Huh. She might as well have released the steering wheel and killed the cockroach anyway for how badly she was driving. I looked down at my little pillion rider who was lying on his back and throwing the most enormous tantrum by kicking his feet frantically in a revolting manner. “If you don’t kill it,” she continued, “And it gets up and flies around the car, I’m going to kill you.”

Funny how someone can’t stop driving for a minute to kill a roach but can strangle me whilst single-handedly executing a three-point turn.

“All right,” I sighed exasperatedly. “I’ll just drop the street directory over it.”

“Don’t you dare.”

“I will.”

My mother spent a good three seconds tossing used tissues and old receipts at me and begging me to use those in lieu of the street directory instead. Finally, I hit upon the idea of using the Borders bag that my cd was stored in. Operating with the speed and fluency of a secret agent, I whipped the cd from the bag and flicked it into the backseat, dropped the plastic bag on Roachie Mcroacherson and deployed the traffical tome.

As I predicted, there was a crunch. And for the rest of the afternoon, I kept feeling tiny feet on my skin in little staccato leaps. And just in case you aren’t already grossed out enough, imagine the moment when I finally peeled the bag away to reveal a nice Rorschach inkblot pattern of legs and endoskeleton which we gingerly kicked out of the car.

But I must say, I was very cool and James Bond-like, keeping my head and my ingenuity in such a cataclysmic situation. It’s not everyday one gets trampled on by a repugnant insect and I think I handled that one to the best of my ability. So, I know now that I am not what my mother calls a “ninny” and also learnt an important lesson: it is always best to be in the driver’s seat.

Oh, and I’ll never look at a Border’s plastic bag the same way again.

PS You may wonder what the real point of this story is. Well, the cd in question was Black Sabbath’s The Dio Years album. BECAUSE. I have tickets to Black Sabbath’s Heaven and Hell tour, starring Ronnie James Dio!!! And I figure I’d better swot up as best I can. Also, if you’re even vaguely interested, come with me won’t you? We will have an unbelievably moshing good time, I guarantee you. And I’ll bring my street directory just in case.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Two of my favourite things in the world...

... The Beatles and Rufus Wainwright coming together... ahh it's an orgasm for the ears.

I know Sean Lennon isn't his dad and blah and blah but honestly, I give the boy an A for effort. Plus, I secretly have a huge thing for this whole Friendly Fire album.

And Rufus... he's just so gosh darned pretty, I'm jealous! Look at him from 00:42 to 00:45 and listen real carefully: that,I believe, is the sound of panties all across the world hitting the floor.