Tuesday, December 20, 2011
What is it about a man swearing that is so hot? I have no fucking idea, just as I have no idea why exactly it is I fancy the hell out of Malcolm Tucker, the sweary, craggy-faced Scotsman who gets all the best lines in the brilliant TV series The Thick Of It but could not enthusiastically be deemed "conventionally attractive" by any known measure.
Probably this crush of mine hints at something disturbing, like a secret desire to be shouted at and knocked into the kitchen cabinets. Maybe I should be seeing a therapist.
Monday, December 19, 2011
I KNOW THIS TIME OF YEAR IS REALLY BUSY AND CRAZY FOR EVERYONE BUT SERIOUSLY IF I HAVE TO LISTEN TO YOU DISCUSS THE PROGRESS OF YOUR CHRISTMAS SHOPPING FOR ANOTHER 5 FUCKING SECONDS I AM GOING TO EXPLODE. OR IMPLODE. DEFINITELY ONE OF THE TWO AND EITHER WAY IT'S GOING TO BE MESSY. I'M NOT TRYING TO BE A BITCH BUT SERIOUSLY HOW IS IT THAT I KNOW WHAT YOU ARE BUYING EACH OF YOUR NEPHEWS? THAT'S INSANE: I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT I'M BUYING MY OWN NEPHEWS AND, FRANKLY, A) THE PERSONAL DEODERANT PREFERENCES OF YOUR VARIOUS RELATIVES IS INFORMATION I COULD REALLY REALLY DO WITHOUT AND B) A LYNX MULTI-PACK IS KIND OF A BULLSHIT GIFT TO BEGIN WITH.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
You can’t go home again. But that doesn’t stop us trying.
Earlier this year bookstores across the world took delivery of a slim novel called Sweet Valley Confidential — a title that may mean little to many but means a great deal to women of a certain age and disposition who had the date March 29 circled on their calendars for months beforehand.
The novel in question was the long-awaited (uh, by someone I assume) follow-up to the insanely successful Sweet Valley High series of books that shaped the teenage lives of millions growing up in the 1980s and 1990s.
The series should never have worked, focused as it was on the lives of nauseatingly beautiful and irritatingly popular twin sisters growing up in California. With one twin a boring goody two-shoes (Elizabeth) and the other a thrill-seeking tramp (Jessica) many of the books culminated in preachy conclusions that had readers believing girls who rode motorbikes were doomed to wind up — at best — in a coma and — at worst — suffer an identity crisis that would have them believing they were their own twin sister. Seriously, that actually happened.
But the series was hugely successful, running to more than 150 books, spawning a TV series (god that was bad), a slew of spin-off books and leaving in its wake a generation of fans whose formative teenage years would be forever entwined with that of the Wakefield Twins.
So perhaps we should be thoroughly unsurprised that publishers wanted to cash in on the nostalgia of those fans with the release of SVC, which picks up ten years from the end of the series.
The assumption at the heart of that decision — that the girls who once gasped over Jessica’s selfishness or swooned over Elizabeth’s weirdly sexless relationship with her beige boyfriend Todd will want to know what happened next — was probably not entirely correct. But even if the book does make squillions (and, er, the jury's still out on that one) there's something a little bit gross about dipping so thoroughly into the nostalgia well.
Nostalgia itself is a positive thing — even science says so.
After a brief stint in the 17th and 18th century where nostalgia — the term comes from the Greek words for return (‘nostos’) and pain (‘algos’) — was viewed as a serious illness modern science has gone in the other direction and decided that it’s good for us. Studies have shown that reminiscing about happy times past can give us a sense of belonging, increase self esteem and boost our happiness. According to a recent study daydreaming about happy past memories can even help us deal with fears about our own mortality, imbuing our empty, pointless lives with something resembling meaning.
But — and it is a big but — there is a difference between indulging in nostalgia and trying to recreate the success of a past phenomenon whose time has come and gone.
Even the most devoted fan of the original SVH series would have to concede that the material has not aged well. Attempting to drag the Sweet Valley universe into modern times is only going to expose all the flaws that fans failed to notice as innocent teenagers: that the Wakefields were vapid brats, that Jessica might have been a sociopath and that having one sip of alcohol in the front seat of your boyfriend’s convertible will not necessarily turn you into a drunk slut who is throwing her life away.
Though it shames me to admit it, last night I finished reading SVC and it was... one of the weirder books I've ever read. I genuinely couldn't work out whether it was deadly serious (Liz cries after she orgasms? Really?) or taking the piss (I'll admit it, I laughed when the Wakefield's insufferable mother, Alice, screamed at her husband to "bring out the fucking cake, Ned" after her mother's 80th birthday party goes off the rails).
So the book didn't make me want to kill myself. But neither did it fill me with a warm glow of love for the original material. Instead it made me faintly embarassed to have SVC sitting in my bookcase alongside the likes of War and Peace. Doubly so as I've never, er, got around to reading War and Peace.
If we have learnt nothing from the travesty that was the last three Star Wars movies it is that some things are better left alone.
We need to preserve our happy memories where they belong — in the past — and where we can enjoy them through rose-tinted glasses, not try to cash in on those memories, fail, and ruin them for good.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
I know what you're thinking: I'm surprised it's taken me this long too.
How is it that I've not yet tapped Ryan Gosling as a token smokin' hottie, given the extreme depth of my crush? I blame the fact that I'm quite a slow developer, having only stumbled onto Gosling in 2006 in the movie Half Nelson, a couple of years after everyone else had already fallen in love with him for his turn in the guiltiest of pleasures that was The Notebook.
Since then my crush, initially simmering on the back burner over a medium flame, has exploded into some kind of, uh, fireball? I'm going to say fireball. The reason for this is simple: suddenly Gosling is motherfucking EVERYWHERE.
He's schmoozing it up as an insanely well-dressed charmer in Crazy, Stupid, Love - the romantic comedy I loved to pieces until the last half hour. He's cruising behind the wheel in Drive, definitely one of my favourite movies of the year and the turning point at which my Gosling Love morphed into Gosling Mania. He's even storming down the halls, West Wing-style, in The Ides of March, the film I finally got around to seeing tonight and thoroughly enjoyed, not least because it poured Gosling into a delightful black winter coat I can't stop thinking about.
The thing is, in some respects Gosling is not spectacular looking: he's got nice facial symmetry, yes, and a cute smile (definitely my achilles heel when it comes to the boys) but if you look at a still photo of him you can start to see that there's nothing so spectacular about his looks. His jaw could definitely be stronger. His eyes tend towards the squinty. He even, although it pains me to say it, looks pretty fucking creepy with a goatee. Then again, doesn't everyone?
What makes Gosling work is that he has charm, oodles of it, so much charm it probably drips into his bed sheets at night and he wakes up in a puddle of it, so much charm he can afford to put it all up there on the screen and still walk away with charm to spare, so much charm that he manages to make George Clooney - George Clooney - look unappealing just by virtue of that fact that Gosling is standing next to him onscreen.
That right there is quite an achievement, in itself making him easily one of the most worthy holders of the TSH crown.
UPDATE: As Bec points out in the comments, I totally should have pointed to this.