Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Britain's Missing Top Model

I'm not the biggest fan of BBC3's "social" output - perhaps it's my age but I do find myself coming over all Daily Mail when I'm faced with "comedies" like Scallywagga that tick the urban ethnic minority box but fail to be funny and, in failing, do a disservice to the ethnic minorities they are trying to reach. However, last night I was enthralled and genuinely moved by the final of Britain's Missing Top Model, the culmination of a nationwide search for a disabled model.

I won't lie and say I don't know the genre and it's trashy charms - America's Next Top Model and it's world-wide sisters are all-pervading for the discerning telly-slut - and I was expecting BMTM to adopt a similar tone. At best I expect the programme to lightly touch on disabled issues and teach me that everyone is beautiful in their differences and move on, disabled box ticked.

Instead, I've witnessed informative, interesting debates about what the nature of disability is and how it affects us - all played out in an intelligent and accessible format.

I'm, of course, aware that a certain amount of caution should be applied regarding the editorial choices made in the presentation of reality TV of this kind but the most telling moment of the whole series came about three episodes in. A judge berated one of the contestants for her "difficult" behavior (which was clearly a result, in part at least, of the circumstances of her degenerative illness) and, after she had left, Wayne Hemmingway, also a judge on the show, turned on him for his "cruelty". The first judge defended his stance saying "she may be disabled but we're not here to take responsibility for her behaiviour, I'm not going to patronise her because you don't want to look bad on television".

Also interesting was watching the in-fighting between the girls, whose disabilities were many and varied. All of them had little understanding of each other's difficulties - a profoundly deaf girl was told on several occasions that her lot was "easier" and another, with a (physically symptomless) degenerative bone decease and chronic fatigue syndrome was clearly felt to be "weak" by the other contestants. On several occasions the audience was forced to think hard about the nature of disability - is one type of disability worse than another? Do we even have a right to evaluate someone's impediments until we inhabit their skin?

Ultimately, I can say that the programme changed my perceptions of disability and the issues that disabled people live with and I only hope that this is the start of other similarly intelligent programming from BBC3.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

How to Neglect a Blog

Courtesy of neglectful blogger par-excellance minifig.

Neglecting your blog is not as easy as it may seem. When one looks across the net, a lot of the most popular blogs have clearly not been neglected in a long time. Here are some useful pointers on how to neglect a blog.

  1. The tools available to you allow you to neglect your blog in a lot more ways than you’ve ever been able to previously. For example, with the ability to post via email, or even just using your phone and the WordPress iPhone app, you are now able to neglect your blog from anywhere where there’s a net connection, or mobile coverage. You can be out and about, see something interesting, and fail to blog it RIGHT THERE AND THEN. This is progress.
  2. A useful, and mildly ironic way you can neglect your blog, is through the process of finding something to blog about. “But how can this be possible?!” I hear you weep, through clenched teeth. Well, my friends, with the power of Google Reader, this is more possible than ever. Using Google Reader, you can now ensure that every time someone bleats on Digg about the fact they don’t like the new design, you hear about it right away. Or, if you’re really using Google Reader properly, you’ll hear about it a week or so later when you’re desperately trying to catch up on all the feeds that you haven’t read and are making you feel guilty. Google Reader also provides you the chance to Star or Share items you have some vague idea that in the future you’d like to blog about. If this blog post ever happens, which it won’t, it will be so long after the fact that they internet has moved on, and you’ll have to start every post with ‘I know I’m late to this, but…’
  3. Once you’ve been blogging for more than a few months you’ll come to realise something very important about yourself. You may think that you’re never going to learn anything important when you’re blogging, but you’re wrong. You’ll learn very shortly that you only really have about 5-7 opinions. You’ll exhaust these in the first few weeks, and as time goes by, you’ll realise that there’s no point in writing that post. You might, for example be holding your head in your hands while blood drips down your face, because every time you hear someone whinge about how they liked the old design more than the new one you feel the need to charge headfirst into the nearest stationary object. But you think, that’s essentially the same post I wrote when everyone was whinging about how they liked the old Digg design, or the old BBC News design. Face it, you really don’t have as many opinions as you thought you did. You may lament humanity’s inability to adapt even the tiniest bit yet more than you did a month ago, but you’ve still used all your ‘funniest’ metaphors.
  4. When you started blogging, you weren’t going to be a stats whore, were you? You were writing your blog for your own benefit, right? And if people enjoyed what you did, then great, but that wasn’t why you started. You didn’t need to be popular. You didn’t need 500 people commenting on all your posts. You never wanted that Boing Boing link anyway. Doctorow’s too busy telling you about how Little Brother has now been translated into Klingon by kittens to notice you. But seven people read that 1000 word essay on how stupid people on are. Seven. And six of them spent less than 10 seconds on the page, and the seventh was searching for ‘idiot blood website whore’ on Google and probably didn’t find quite what he was looking for. I mean, being underground’s great and everything, but really you wanted the counter-cultural form of being underground, rather than the being dead kind.
  5. Sometimes you have a great idea for a list-based blog post, but you just can’t make it into a round number. Four Reasons Why Last.Fm Users are Self-Centred, Stone-Age, Change-Fearing Morons is never going to get you on the front page of Digg is it? Digg users only go to web pages where their insane, westernised complaints about nothing can be made into a numbered list which is divisable by 5 (presumably so they can use their chubby, salt-encrusted fingers to help them count along). 4, 8, 17. These are numbers that will not help you find out how bad your web host is at dealing with insane amounts of traffic for a couple of hours.

I do hope that this post makes you realise that neglecting your blog doesn’t have to be the chore you’re becoming to believe that it is. Using these tips, we can all neglect our blogs with gay abandon, and feel at the core of our beings the guilt and loss of self-worth that this brings.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Now I Like The Wire...

...But goodgodjesus if I read one more article in the Guardian about how it is actually the television manifestation of chocolate-covered oral sex I will scream. One article which did make me smile though -

New Prostate Cancer Drug Not as Good as The Wire

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

An experiment

That basically proves that Johnny doesn't read my blog any more. Knew it.


One of the things I miss about reading for study is the sensation of falling for an author and devouring them - among others, Douglas Coupland shaped my sixth-form existence and my third year of university was made all the more perverted and perverse by Chuck Palahniuk.

Last year I read The Sirens of Titan about two weeks before Kurt Vonnegut's death (completely co-incidentally, honest) and enjoyed it so much that I'm planning a bit of a Vonnegut-fest for this autumn. Anyway, here's a choice quote from Mother Night to give you a measure of the man:

Drawn crudely in the dust of three window-panes were a swastika, a hammer and sickle, and the Stars and Stripes. I had drawn the three symbols weeks before, at the conclusion of an argument about patriotism with Kraft. I had given a hearty cheer for each symbol, demonstrating to Kraft the meaning of patriotism to, respectively, a Nazi, a Communist, and an American. "Hooray, hooray, hooray," I'd said.

Oh and feel free to visit my Amazon Wish List if you'd like to donate to my worthy cause ;)

Designer Wellies

Oh it's wrong, oh it's so so wrong, wronger than personalised number plates or expensive handbags but, oh, I want some Hunter wellies.

Weekend of Books

The weekend in dear, dear Ipswich necessitated the expected amount of train travel which , in turn, necessitated a lot of reading. In the last few years I've fallen into the habit of only reading at bedtime (for no more noble reason than I tend to spend my bus journey to and from work in the world of iPod and my evenings either working or socialising) but this weekend I spent a good 10 hours, all told, immersed in Bit of a Blur - Alex James' dense account of his years as part of Blur - and On Chesil Beach - the Ian McEwan Booker Prize nominated novella.

Bit of a Blur was a fun read - an unexpectedly well written romp through britpop from the inside. I was surprised about at how little nostalgia it stirred in me - although too young and too provincial to have really been a part of britpop, I watched avidly from the sidelines and was there in my own small way. I do remember being furious at not being allowed to go to Mile End but I made several pilgrimages to The Good Mixer, the Camden pub where Graham Coxon famously held court. Essentially, though, as James (who I never met) reminds me, the spirit of louche cleverness of the people involved and their inimitable sense of cool was never going to be mastered by a 13 year old private school girl from Ipswich, no matter how hard she tried.

Anyway, I love Ian McEwan.

I always feel he's at his best with partnerships - the kinship-resentment of long term friendship played out in Amsterdam makes it easily one of my favourite books and On Chesil Beach bests even that. Maybe it owes a little to my joy at rediscovering the pleasure of unencumbered reading but this soaring, tragic love story lifted and broke me in a way I wasn't expecting. If you haven't already (and, admittedly, I'm a good 18 months late on this one), go read.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Thanks a Bunch Cracked...

...For pointing out that this weekend someone, somewhere will pay to see Meet Dave (the new Eddie Murphy movie), that's my Friday joie de vivre ruined.

Working at 4.00am Isn't Really Working

I'm more or less consistently on GMT but bandmoreagain lives in a state of constant flux between Pacific and EDT which causes no end of grumpy exchanges.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Another Reason To Look Forward to The Big Chill

At more or less this exact moment me and bandmoreagain were meeting a lovely lady by the name of Amy Wright who we somehow persuaded to give hugs to a group of people who we somehow persuaded to queue up to receive them.

My Dad's Mick Ronson or Mick Jones or Someone, Right?

Mark Ronson gets his pretty little knickers in a Glastonbury-sized twist.

Now I'm never one to disagree with anyone who calls NME journalists "morons" (in classic house style the offending article's description of Mark Ronson's work as “a bunch of nauseating oily sub-lounge covers” in the offending article isn't that wide of the mark, just 12 obsequious months too late) but maybe Marky really doesn't read the NME - how else would he have missed the fact that popularity in pop, for all but the very few, is fleeting and editorial integrity rare?

Monday, 7 July 2008


This has to be the most Monday-ish Monday I've had in months - grey, dull and chock full of minor irritations.

The only thing worth doing now is sacking off the gym and doing a bit of window shopping.

Friday, 4 July 2008

All I Want Today

Is a plain, knee-length, waistless, silk tunic or kaftan.

Answers on the back of a postcard, please.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Currently Reading 03.07.08

A Home at the End of the World

Is great and won a Pulizer prize but (I've just discovered) was made into a film staring...wait for it...Colin Farrell. Yeuch!
Also, and call me a complete pleb, but I can't help comparing it to Tales From the City (even if I do find it better written, with fleshier characters and a more interesting exploration of their journeying sexuality).

The Kite Runner

Like, a billion years later than everyone else.

101 Simple Appetizers in 20 Minutes or Less

Lazy = Yummy.

Once again lifehacker you've answered my prayers.

Now to become the kind of person who needs to know how to make appetizers....Or even uses the word appetizers..