Sunday, 28 February 2010

TV Gushings: Pineapple Studios - The World's Greatest Spoofumentary, or I'll Eat My Purple Lycra Crop Top

"I'm going in now darling, and when I come out, I'm going to look ten!" Louis exclaims to an innocent passer-by outside the cosmetic surgery clinic, where he and his mother are waiting for their appointments. "No, foetal!" He is very excited.

Most documentaries about the everyday goings on in a real-life business are usually one of two things; either extremely boring, or cringeworthy to a skeleton shattering extreme. Pineapple Dance Studios is neither of these, and so much more. It is silly in a self-effacing way. It's camp in a pink neon cowboy hat on top of a greased up bemuscled construction worker way. It is hilarious, like watching a rotund man take a trip down some stairs to a tuba soundtrack. Most of all though, it is embarrassing to a brand new degree, way past an eating-your-own-fist anguish mark, previously unbeknown to science. It's got everything.



If you haven't already seen Pineapple (or as I will call it from now on P*D*S - it needs the stars to represents the oozing fabulousness), you may need a short introduction to its main characters. Here is my whirlwind meet-and-greet.

Andrew - A blonde Kavanah for the 21st century. Thinks he's going to "make it" but could easily be in his late thirties. Constantly worried he'll be upstaged by his dimpled and disinterested bandmate Rosalie.

Debbie - The owner and proprietor of P*D*S. The big boss lady, the head honcho, the ringleader and the one you've got to respect if you want to continue your dancing career. Pops in occasionally, whizzes about in limousines and generally seems to be doing various un-named Important Things.

Louis - Glorious pastiche of a man, Louis is either a brilliant actor or the most energetic camp man in the whole of London. The programme would not work without him. I love him so much I am making a screen printed t-shirt with his face on. With diamonds for eyes.

Tricia Walsh-Smith - Youtube "sensation" who divorced her husband on camera, or something. She's written a musical called Arm Candy, and is currently touring the gay scene to build up her fanbase. Another reason for the flatline-voiced narrator to come through with devastating irony.

As far as the characters go, they are perfect. I say characters, because P*D*S is just so funny and mortifying in such perfect distribution that it has to be completely scripted. It's Summer Heights High if Mr G was allowed free reign to an entire show. I refuse to believe that it is a real life working environment. It's not that I mind, I mean, as far as the programme is concerned it's an hour's worth of solid entertainment. Who cares if it's real or not? The best part is that there are tiny fantastical bits that pop up without much warning, and so you might be watching Debbie talk to the builders about the construction of the new offices, and then the next there will be a fully choreographed dance routine excecuted by P*D*S students in full fancy dress. It creates a hazy sort of reality, where everybody smiles and has perfect hair, and has just the right amount of filling for lycra bodysuits, and springs into a leaping split whenever Louis is out of earshot.

I have heard people dissing this show. I will have none of it. The TV equivalent of a pink discoball spinning in a room decorated in sparkly birthday present paper with the soundtrack to Little Shop of Horrors is nothing to scoff at. I love it, love it, love it, but if it isn't all a dupe I'll be very surprised. I'll also feel very bad for Andrew, because if he is real, a lot of people are going to laugh at him. Possibly throw eggs. Possibly hound him until his premature accidental death in a bathtub-keyboard-stupidity incident. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Dorset Cereals Competition - The Winner!

So, the competition has ended, and I've finally had the time and inclination to pick a lucky recipient of a goody bag of health.

To help me pick, I enlisted Jeremy, a ghost light, to help me. Take it away, Jeremy.





So the winner is Bethany! Well done you! Email me your deets and we'll get your prize sent right out to you.

Monday, 22 February 2010

So, you're hipster?

If I'm the last person to jump on this, that just about sums up my life, but I wanted/needed people to see this.

Hipster puppy has given me a new favourite thing - and that is super hip dogs acting all like they know more about Kafka in your house and drinking all your Makers Mark. Screw that. These pricks need to be brought down a peg or two in some blog somewhere.



(Thanks to Plik for showing me the way)

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Friday, 19 February 2010

Special K and Miow Mix

I have never been a fan of the stupid names people have for recreational drugs. I have always believed it makes a person sound like a child at school trying to buy cigarettes and calling them "cancer sticks" because they heard their big brother call it that. Basically, it makes people sound noobish. There's a new drug on the block now, however, (if you believe everything you read - it's actually been around on a grand scale for over a year now) and in order to inform adults and parents about this new danger to society, publications have been listing the names by which people call it.

Miow miow, Bubble, Miow Mix, Drone and Meph. Apparently this is what people are calling MMCAT, the legal drug that everybody's talking about. Again, supposedly. I'm not going to lie, it's been a long time since I went to a party where I wasn't surrounded by people chewing their arrogant little faces off and passing around DVD cases laden with talcum powder (come on, do these idiots think you're really going to get actual Coke in Leeds?) but that isn't my friend's fault. It's a sad fact of life that if you get a soundsystem and good DJs to play at your bi-monthly house party, eventually haircut-laden first years with saucer eyes and stupid trainers are going to turn up and take loads of drugs in your front room. Fucking laaaame. One dared gurn their way over to me and say the immortal words "I haven't seen you around, are you in first year?". The reply was less than civil. After all, I'd been knocking back £3 white wine all night. Do people expect me to be polite after this much antifreeze?

The thing about 4-methylmethcathinone is that it isn't illegal, so it's cheap, and people think they can take loads and loads of it because of this. People are idiots. I have heard of people take 2 grams a night and wonder why they feel like they're going to die. People who take drugs in this quantity are obviously not grown up enough to do anything with any degree of self-moderation. They aren't going to think to themselves "hang on a minute, maybe I should calm down a minute and have a drink of water". They just think "that was great! More more more!" like a baby who just discovered it can get into the biscuit tin. Or a teenager that just discovered the wonders of Southern Comfort. There are plenty of campaign groups calling for Mephedrone to be banned, simply because of a singular case of some 14 year old taking a cocktail of MMCAT and Ketamine. Casualties from the drug have only been sustained if the victim has taken it alongside other substances. And if a person is willing to mix substances in such a reckless and frankly idiotic way, then who's to say they were taking any kind of 'recommended dose'? It's hard to believe that a person who mixes their drinks with shots and downed pints is taking any precautions to watch the amount of alcohol units they are taking into their body. Many people have died from alcohol overdoses. Does that mean we have to make it illegal now?

The most infuriating thing about the coverage of MMCAT is just how under-informed the press at large are about these kinds of drugs. As a total nerd when it comes to alternative-culture, I am deeply interested in the changing face of drug culture too, from the Valium-addled housewives of the 50s to the pilled-up ravers of the 90s. Reading an article in say, the Daily Mail, where mephedrone is billed as a "dangerous new designer drug" it's hard to see the coverage as anything but willful fearmongering. They need to ask themselves - since when has any decision or opinion been made rationally when there has been a strong element of fear involved? It seems to me that the lack of information is there simply to encourage a fear of the unknown, that somehow this secret terror is sweeping through the night towards our poor defenceless children, and the only thing we can do to stop it is press our complaint buzzers and hope it goes away if we harrumph enough about it. How do we stop people from drinking too much? We educate them. How do we get people to stop smoking? We educate them. How do we get people to look at drugs in a more responsible way? We tell them that they will die. Something doesn't add up here.

Until people are able to access unbiased information about substances such as mephedrone in the news, there is going to be a culture of fear surrounding it. There are still parents out there who thing that a "drug" is a singular bad thing, that can be dropped into a drink and can kill their baby instantly. there needs to be more widespread education. There needs to be less handwringing, and certainly, there needs to be a lot les recrimination and retribution for trying to do the right thing regarding them. David Nutt was fired for saying these exact same things. He was essentially told to jog on by the government because he had a skeleton riddled with common sense. The way drugs are handled in this country is with a culture of fear; people are taught to be frightened of the drugs that threaten society, and if they aren't, then there is no helping them. This isn't right, and it isn't fair. It leaves the curious feeling guilty, addicts feeling helpless and ashamed, and the uninformed scared and indignant. For such an important issue, we really are doing a great job at sweeping it under the carpet again and again. Just re class everything to Class A. That'll show everybody that we mean business. Jesus Wept.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

COMPETITION! - Win a Dorset Cereals Goody Bag! Exclamation Mark!

Do you remember when you were a kid and your mum had bought you a new cereal that was so exciting you didn't even mind waking up at 7am for school because you got to eat it? It was on a par with getting a new toothbrush, if I remember correctly. Heady times indeed. Well, who says only kids are allowed to have tasty cereal that makes them happy? NOBODY, that's who.

I've teamed up with Dorset Cereals to provide one lucky winner with a whole breakfasty-treat-filled goody bag to make their mornings that little bit more bearable.

Why have I picked cereal? Well, since I began my new diet, their Super High Fibre cereal has become on of the highlights of my day. I kid you not. Either I have a dull, dull life, or that is one godawesome cereal sent straight from unicorn fairyland.

[And for the ingredient conscious among you, they are 100% veggie friendly and contain only natural ingredients]



So, here's what you do -
To start with, you have to follow my blog (sozza, rules is rules!)
Comment here telling me that you'd like to enter.
If you have a blog yourself, please make a little post about this competition - your friends might want in on the action!


And that's it!

I was going to run this for a week, but I'm going to be lovely and let you enter until midnight on Friday the 19th of February. (Next Friday).

Get entering and remember - even cynics need breakfast.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Valentine's Gay - Hah, see what I did there?

Not that there's anything bad about being gay. I was just being childish. Ho hum.

Doodling around on twitter amongst other things (trying to unscramble my head enough to get some essay proposals done, trying to sort out finances, trying not to have panic attacks etc etc) it occurred to me that Valentine's day is not very far away. If you know anything about me, you'll know that I am terrible at remembering dates. I still don't know my own Mum's birthday, and the only reason I remember my anniversary is because it is 3 days after my birthday. So, Valentine's day doesn't really register in my "What's Important" bulletin board at the front of my mind. In fact, it barely registers at all, even on the day. Yes, as a fully paid-up member of a "relationship" (look at me putting quotation marks around it - what kind of a person is so insecurely self-depracational [word? It is now] that they do that type of thing?) I give and receive a card, and yes, it is admittedly nice to go "aww" and think how nicely nice everything is. But then I'm a total happy bastard, and that's what people like us are supposed to do. We go "awww" and look all mushy-eyed and listlessly content simply to annoy passers by. I know that's the only reason I'd ever partake in any public display of affection. It's disgusting, and I hate it when other people do it. There is NO NEED.

So, what right have I got to hate on Valentine's Day? Well, I'll tell you what I'm not going to do. I'm not going to say "it's just a way for greetings card companies to make money" because that it what idiots say. Idiots who wear Che Guevara t-shirts and parade around with hemp shoelaces and second-hand underpants. It may well be, but that's like saying "healthy eating was invented by Tesco so that we buy more fruit and veg". It doesn't matter if they did or not, the point is that it is now an intrinsic part of our society that if you so much as dare look at a Findus Crispy Pancake your kids get taken away from you and you end up on Fat Families (Sky 1, fairly good show actually). It's the same for V-day. Whoever made it up is irrelevant. No matter what your beliefs on the subject, if you forget about it, so help you God your significant other will crush you like a leftover strawberry Quality Street that fell down the side of the couch. If you don't have a significant other, grand, you don't have to worry about it. Unless you've got one of those annoying friend-sort-of well...we-slept-together-once type people who claim to not care if you don't get them a present, but actually they do and they go all cold towards you for ages and ages because of it. (Word of advice - get them some alcohol and call it an "Anti Valentine's present. Everybody wins, plus you can forget and give it to them later. Covers all bases.) You need to vaguely remember it, like an awful night you'd rather forget. It reminds you why you should never drink Sambucca ever again. So to speak.

I don't hate Valentine's day. What I hate more are the growing number of people claiming to hate it. It's like Christmas - people say they hate it because it's trendful (I really hate the word 'trendy'). People have anti-valentine's parties and exclaim "ROMANCE IS FOR GAYS!" (pardon the expression). Shut up. Let the soppy people get on with it. Nobody is flaunting it in your face, you're just super emotional and paranoid. As a girl who actually couldn't give a shit about it either way, I'm saying c-a-l-m d-o-w-n. It's actually just an excuse to get pissed. So go and get pissed.

I am aware that there are a lot of people who dislike Valentine's day simply because it's lame and covered in pink Lenor-smelling hearts. Fair play. If you dislike it, but would still like some post, I am willing to send HAND MADE cards to people, complete with a pessimistic and generally insulting message inside. Want in on the action? Hell yeah you would. Send me your address and I'll get on it. No purchase necessary, preferred people may get better cards than others.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Paris - the City of Snooze

Paris is where all hipster kids in London want to run away to, so they can live in an attic studio and only come out at night to smoke thin cigarettes and drink straight brandy on a bar terrace. It's where all the northern electro leftovers want to skip town to so they can throw angles in a tiny cellar club to filthy Korg beats. Paris hasn't always just been cool, it has been integral to cool ever since smoking was seen as damn sexy and looking aloof on a dancefloor attracted positive attention akin to having a rich and famous daddy.

Unfortunately for the partying masses (yes, I did just use the word "party" as a verb, get over yourselves) rising house prices in the centre of Gay Paree and the denseness of properties in the area mean that people known as "drags" have moved in. People with kids and coffee tables and clean bathrooms. People who chose the colour of their own front door, and who spent a lot of money on a kitchen ensemble. These families are currently describing their hellish existences to eager news reporters, as their six-figure flat perches precariously on top of a bar so trendy it has to re-model it's decor every week so that nobody ever sees it the same way twice, lest they become bored with the tired old party scene. Apparently, it's too noisy to live above Paris' equivalent of the Electric Ballroom, and as a result, bars and clubs all over the city are being closed down due to repeated complaints about vibrating floorboards and general noise pollution.

Thee BBC sent out a nice enough news reporter to go out and film exactly what was happening. Unfortunately, filming closed down hooch houses isn't very visually stimulating, so instead they stuck him in a dingy Music Box-type venue surrounded by Blondie and flailing skeletal limbs, and then balanced the argument by talking to a woman with possibly the world's most boring forehead. See for yourself - it is possible. Why live in an area crowded with noisy Parisian youth-types loudly chatting in the post-smoking ban streets? It's a good question. Living in the centre of the city is highly regarded, and being that Paris is a sprawling huge mass if you work anywhere in there you want to live close. It's not like London, you can't just live in the countryside. It's too far to commute. So instead you raise a family in the middle of a busy, smoggy, overpopulated, tourist-ridden city, in a 19th century apartment right above a late night fashionista hangout. Obv.



[Mmm, strobey light. Pic credits]

But what about those people who come from all over the Paris suburbs to drink and dance and awkwardly chat to objects of their affection? What are they supposed to do when their favourite niche bar closes down? Well, they do what we do, but in a more extreme sense. Instead of going down the street to a different, possibly less interesting club, they're travelling to Berlin, Barcelona and London. Imagine that. They'd rather go to London than Paris. Think about that next time you moan that there's nothing to do. Admittedly this is possibly because french night-dwellers are approximately 300% cooler than any late night drinker in Britain, and travelling to Berlin just to dance to Talking Heads shows just the type of nonchalant reading-on-the-train commitment to strobe lights we'd tend to think was just plain mental. That's the French for you.

So, what do the locals who've lived in central Paris since disco times began think about the pubs closing their doors? According to Le Monde, it's fast becoming the "European capital of boredom" and the people who should be represented as "long suffering" in an article such as this, actually resent the fact that all the nightlife's being sucked out of the area by non-vampire residents. In fact, they hate it so much that they've sent the mayor a petition to stop the bars being closed - 14, 000 of them have written to him, to be precise. So with hardcore locals hating on the newbies, and the newbies hating on the party-goers, what the hell is the mayor supposed to do?

In a sane world, what would happen is that those complaining about the noise would be told to calmly and quietly fuck off. What else has Paris got apart from it's nightlife? If you're buying a house, don't you go and look around it before you buy it? And if there's a well-established nightspot wedged right between you and your foundations, don't you think seriously about whether the sleepless nights and vomming students will seriously cut short the benefits of living closer to work? Putting local businesses out of work because you're rich and used to getting what you want is simply not the way the world should work. When you're a kid, you're told that I want never gets. Stomping along to the council, lying down on your back and screaming that the 15 year old club next door to your maisonette is pumping out solid tunes until 6am and that it simply can't continue shouldn't work. They should say "Did you know it was there when you slammed down your eager deposit? OK, then tough titties. Deal. With. It." I know I would. But then I don't live in my ideal world. If I did, I'd be doling out abuse every day to uppity new money wankers and getting money and respect for it.

What do you think? Should the new residents get peace and quiet due to the extortionate cost of their Paris abode? Or should they shut up and stop killing off a whole city's nightlife and main source of night-time income?
Tell me. I might not care, but it'll be a good way to rant about rich people.
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