Thursday, May 24, 2012

London Fundon

The weekend before last, The Bear and I skedaddled off to London for a lovely long weekend. Arising at stupid o'clock on the Friday morning (the Bear kept waking up through the night as he was too excited to sleep properly - aw!) we made our way Londonwards, the first stop on the agenda being the Harry Potter Studio Tour at Leavesden Studios. (Hence all the excitement.)

YOU GUYS. Every Harry Potter fan needs to go here. The tour took us around three and a half hours and you get to wander through at your own pace, which is totally perfect. The only problem was all the fucking PEOPLE, as you accidentally bump into them and get bumped into approximately four million times as you make your way around. But it's a really great setup and even though, as Nicola informed me on Twitter, they don't let you fondle Snape's robes, we had an absolute blast. I'd suggest that anyone who plans on going should try to avoid looking at too many photos of the tour, as the less you know, the more amazing surprises you'll get and the more often you'll exclaim: "Holy crap! It's THIS THING THAT I LOVE! LOOK AT IT!" As such, I'm only putting a handful of pictures up here and they don't really give anything major away, so it's safe to look.

There's a deadly gift shop at the studio too, where you can buy all manner of overpriced Hogwarts paraphernalia, but they don't quite seem to have gotten the hang of sufficiently stocking the shop just yet. I wanted to pick up a few fridge magnets as small presents, but there were none left. So I figured a little keyring might do, but they were completely sold out of Gryffindor keyrings, or indeed anything small and affordable that was Gryffindor related. And I was hardly going to give someone a present of a Hufflepuff keyring, sure I might as well just slap them in the face and be done with it at that rate.

Our lovely friend Brenda was kind enough to put us up for the weekend, although on the first night I woke up at one point to find her cat, the bauld but very cute Ógie standing next to my head and eyeballing me. I may have told him to fuck off. Sorry Ógie.

This was the view from the back of Brenda's place. AMAZO.

Saturday's entertainment came in the form of the British Female Crown performances for the World Burlesque Games, which just HAPPENED to be on while we were over. It was a total coincidence, I SWEAR. There was also much entertainment derived from the fact that the show was taking place in Bush Hall. Heh. Bush.

The show was fantastic fun and each performer did a truly amazing job. My highlights were Chi Chi Revolver, a goofy, tattooed, hula-hooping dynamo that looks not unlike Lady Gaga and definitely deserved a place in the top three. Robbed, she was! Here's a video that shows just over a minute of her act (I don't know why the person filming didn't record it all, because they bloody well should have) :

Billie Rae, a red haired, fire breathing ballerina doll was another of my favourites, you can see her Forgotten Ballerina routine here:

The winner of the competition was Eliza Delite, a dead ringer for Lynda Carter who blew everyone away with a beautiful Virgin Mary routine.

While it sounds deliciously sacrelicious to combine Holy Mary and burlesque, it was actually just gorgeous and the crowd went fucking nuts for it. The glittery sacred heart was a nice touch too.

On our last morning, I plotted our route back to the airport via Holborn. For I had previously found a Krispy Kreme donut shop along High Holborn a few years ago and you may recall how obsessed I am with these particular roundy Original Glazed hoops of happiness. After traipsing up the busy street with our suitcases in tow, I was getting worried. There was no sign nor smell of a doughnut to be found. It turned out we were at the wrong end of street, for as soon as we ventured to the other end, LO! There it was! The Bear had walked straight past it, but my doughnut senses were on the ball and I spotted it in time.

We bought twenty four doughnuts that morning and after a quick spot of suitcase Tetris at the airport, we managed to make enough room to stuff the two boxes into the Bear's suitcase. It was a GOOD DAY.

Also, I noticed that the lifts in the airport were made by a company called Schindler.


I'm here all week. Try the veal.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Sweet Valley High Revisited - All Night Long

Due to popular demand (and the fact that people keep telling me to hurry the feck up with these SVH posts) here I am, finally getting around to ripping the piss out of the next Sweet Valley High book in the Revisited series, book the fifth...

Sweet Valley High #5: All Night Long

This book cover promises so much, between the sexually loaded title, the fact that it's apparently all about sexually loaded Jessica and the STATE of the sexually loaded Freddie Mercury porn star dude on the cover. Unfortunately, and much like Jessica, this book is essentially a great big cock tease.

It starts off reasonably exciting, Jessica has been invited to a party at the lake by college boy Scott Daniels. Scott drives a red Firebird and has a MOUSTACHE so he's totally older and sophisticated and manly as fuck and all that. Mammy Wakefield has said she's not allowed to go because...y'know...LOOK AT HIM, but it being Jessica, she fabricates a cover story and goes anyway. Elizabeth does her usual bit of nagging, this time she's worried because the twins have a test the next morning which Jessica hasn't studied for yet and they have to pass it to become Sweet Valley tour guides. LAME.

As well as the exam, Elizabeth is freaking out about Jessica going out with a college student because Enid told her about how her cousin went to a college dorm party that got out of hand and was like "a grown up pyjama party, with everyone wearing nightshirts and nightgowns and the floor strewn with mattresses for them to sit on." OH MY GOD THOSE LUNATICS. I was at a party in college where we kicked a giant hole through a wall and spent the rest of the night drunkenly jumping through it and surprising people. Beat that, Enid. It was fine, the house was supposed to be demolished at the end of the year so the hole didn't matter. Until it turned out that it wasn't going to be demolished after all and the guys living there had to get it fixed. But back to Sweet Valley!

Jessica is out in the sunshine with the college kids, who are drinking beer and passing a joint around, so Jessica realises that "she'd gotten into the fast lane now" and to prove that she's not a baby and is just as sophisticated as the other girls, she throws mud at Scott. Right. Totally mature, Jess. Also, the book keeps mentioning Scott's moustache, just to remind us how grown-up he is. And there's this amazing sentence when he comes out of the lake: "Droplets of water clung to his moustache and his hair stood out in dark, wet ringlets." Holy shit, TAKE ME NOW, SCOTT.

Anyway, after the mud-flinging, he chases her around the beach and even though just two pages ago she thought to herself that "he wouldn't be so easy to fend off if they were alone" and his embrace is described as "disturbing" she agrees to go off to an isolated boathouse in the woods with him. Don't do what Jessie Don't does, kids.

Scott slips his hand down the back of her bikini bottoms (SAUCY!) and loosens the strings of her top (SUPER SAUCY!) but by now Jessica has realised she's in over her head and not in control of the situation. She tries to fight him off, but it all gets a little rapey and when he eventually stops pawing at her, the book wanders into victim blaming territory, where he sneers at her for coming with him to the boathouse in the first place and says no one will believe that she didn't want to get all sexed on. When she demands that he takes her home, he laughs and tells her the party's an all-nighter, then ditches her in the woods, but not before saying "just be glad it wasn't worse". TOTAL. GENTLEMAN. Jessica is left stumbling through the woods alone in her bikini and decides that it's all Elizabeth's fault. Because she's Jessica and she's CRAZY, remember? She eventually finds the college kids in a nearby cabin, but Scott is shitfaced and everyone else is off riding each other. There's no phone there so she can't call anyone to rescue her and Scott falls asleep while she's shouting at him for being a horrible jerk. I have no idea why she doesn't steal his car keys and get herself out of there, but she ends up sleeping miserably on the bare floor of the cabin, presumably still in her red string bikini.

Seriously, was this even a good look in the Eighties? What's got a creepy moustache and a rapey demeanour? THAT GUY.

From here the book takes something of a nosedive, as all the potentially interesting Jessica-being-a-psycho stuff is over and now it's all about Elizabeth covering for Jessica and we know what BAGS OF FUN she can be. For example, she wakes up the next morning from a dream where she's kissing her boyfriend (BORING) and makes a mental note to write "I rose from the warmth of my dreams to the chill dawn of reality" into her journal. Don't bother, Liz. Also, "chill dawn"? Really? Life must be SUCH a struggle when you're a ridiculously beautiful and popular sixteen year old living in a split level house in a California town where it never rains. Anyway, Elizabeth realises that Jessica still hasn't come home and figures she'll be in as much trouble as Jessica if their parents find out, so she goes downstairs and has breakfast as herself, then sneaks back upstairs and comes down again as Jessica. Alice Wakefield can't tell her daughters apart after sixteen years. MOTHER OF THE YEAR.

So Elizabeth spends the day at school switching between being herself and Jessica, depending on who she's with. She takes the tour guide test, which is on in the school for some reason, but when Jessica still hasn't turned up when her allotted time for taking the test arrives, Elizabeth decides to bail her out by taking it again as her. BUT right before it she has a big row with Todd, because he calls her out on being such a fucking doormat when it comes to her twin and tells her it's cheating if she takes Jessica's test. They break up during the argument and a distressed Elizabeth takes the test as Jessica but makes a balls of it due to all the emotional DRAMA.

Afterwards she bumps into Olivia Davidson, who I'm only mentioning because of the description of her: "Olivia was big on things like anti-nuke rallies and organic food. [...] Her lunches invariably consisted of things like wholegrain bread, meatless spreads and alfalfa sprouts." Such completely unnecessary detail! WHY, FRANCINE? Or ghostwriter, as the case most certainly is.

Anyway, Jessica eventually resurfaces and when she finds out that Elizabeth failed the test she took for her but passed her own, she freaks the fuck out and accuses her of failing on purpose so she could have Scott for herself. Which doesn't even make the tiniest bit of sense, but then again, a bit of Insane Jessica action is always entertaining. Everyone is cross with each other for a bit, but then Todd and Elizabeth make up and Jessica gets to retake the test because the teacher who was supervising could see "how sick" she was and figured that was why she flunked it. It seems the world just conspires against Jessica EVER learning her lesson. Although she does get a dose of poison oak from her wandering around the woods half naked and misses the big surfing competition at the end, the build-up to which barely made for a subplot throughout the book.

Notable outfit:
Dana Larson runs away with the trophy again, this time while rocking the following:

"An oversize t-shirt over a red-striped miniskirt, purple tights and black suede ankle boots. An enormous gold loop dangled from one pierced earlobe, the other sported a tiny silver star."


Things I counted:
Number of pages: 117
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 4
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 3
References to Scott's moustache: 4
Number of times someone bites their lip: 4

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Draw Baby Draw

At the end of April, the Bear and I finally got around to attending a Dr. Sketchy's Anti Art School session, in this case Disco Inferno, which was spurred on by the news that founder and art superhero Molly Crabapple was going to be in town at the time and giving a talk the next day. The Bear kept pronouncing her name as Molly Krabappel all weekend because he just loves winding me up.

The mirrorball-strewn sketching session itself was tremendous fun, upstairs in 4 Dame Lane is a gorgeous venue and with €5 whiskey sours on the go, what more could you want? (Seeing as neither one of us had done life drawing since the Leaving Cert all those years ago, we practiced drawing each other while drawing each other a few days beforehand because we're SO GODDAMN META.) Once I settled into it and stopped panicking because the poses were only lasting a minute to begin with, I really enjoyed it and the three hour striptease (as host Scarlett Nymph referred to it) totally flew by. I used to be reasonably good at life drawing and this has made me want to scrape all the rust off and get much better at it.

Sade O'Sapphic and Sophia Disgrace were the disco diva models.

Some delightful drag king action from Phil T. Gorgeous. Note the dude in the red scarf, because that's Alan Cumming, who was there to film a documentary. ALAN CUMMING! Sebastian from The High Life and/or Nightcrawler! So brilliant.

The idea of Dr. Sketchy's is a brilliant and empowering one and it was fascinating listening to Molly herself explain at her talk the next day how the idea was formed. As a model herself, she was annoyed with how drawing class subjects were faceless and unnamed, with Female Nude Model #1 being the height of the credit they got. Dr. Sketchy's revolves around the models, they're the stars of the show, being whooped and cheered for every saucy pose they strike and deeming which sketches are to be rewarded with cupcakes or tequila shots.

As the poses got longer, my drawing got less frantic and I slowly got somewhat into the swing of things. The last two 20 minute pose sketches are the ones I'm happiest with, so they're the only ones of mine you get to see.

I was always going to love it though, something that can be described as a mix of art, burlesque and whiskey is like pulling my favourite things out of a sparkly top hat at random and having them all work spectacularly well together. The next Dr. Sketchy's session is Miss Havisham themed, which sounds utterly fantastic. It looks like I'm not going to make it to that particular one unfortunately, but you can bet your sexy ass I'll be at the one after that.

All session photos are from the Dr. Sketchy's site and were taken by Cherry Sedition.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Downstairs Cabaret

On a lazy Sunday a few weeks ago, I re-watched Coraline as it was being shown on telly. My favourite characters in this film have got to be the two batty old ladies living downstairs from the blue-haired heroine, former showgirls April Spink and Miriam Forcible. The pair are delightfully dotty, voiced by Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders and own a scatter of little Scottie dogs.

When Coraline goes through the door to the Other World, she meets the Other versions of Spink and Forcible, who put on a spectacular show for her and transform into their former younger and rather sexy selves.

But going back to the old lady versions of them, when they lead Coraline through their apartment, you can see posters on the walls of the saucy shows they performed back in their vaudevillian heyday, posters which I instantly demanded to get a proper look at at. BECAUSE THEY'RE GORGEOUS. And beautifully illustrated. And pun-tastic. And here they are!

Hot stuff, comin' through.

Also, I'm now writing for the very lovely and the nostalgia-laden Where's Grandad? which goes some way to explain the frankly SHAMEFUL neglect of this blog for the last while. I'm sorry! Don't leave me!