Or, Four Go Mad At The Opera. Darlings, you could have spent twice as much money last night, and not had half as much fun. Bear with me whilst I declaim....
Oh, but first Oedipus Rex. My opinions count for nought, white trash that I surely am. But you can read some other dude here. But hey - this is Leith, or at least Leith Walk, and don't some queens not forget it!
It all began in The Village, when I linked up with Gordon. He was a bit pissed (drunk), not to put to fine a point on it. But Gordon's used to the bevvy. I felt sure he could handle himself when overture came to oratorio. Now only because it's apposite to my tale of woes, I'm going to mention each player's orientation. Gordon is heterosexual. And nothing wrong with that. And so is Ron, whom we met in the Theatre Royal bar, adjacent to The Playhouse, the city's largest theatre. Only to give you the fullest possible flavour of this eve of nightmares, I'm going to mention that Ron is quite black also.
And then came Stuart (aka Granny), much travelled in our pages. He'd been up-town with a friend for the afternoon, but from the state of him, I kinda wondered if his friend was also his dealer. Somewhat fizzing, wee Stu. (Quite white, and utterly butterly gay.)
So there we were in the foyer... two queens - one drunk, one sober and two straights, ditto. And Stuart and Gordon had already started squabbling. Things were going just a teeny bit pear-shaped, and it was only twenty-five past seven.
Suddenly it struck me that we were, at that time, standing in the most stylish twenty square metres in the land. Celebs would be in abundance, and we're not talking Kylie or Victoria. But we were talking Kirsty Wark, Newsnight presenter, who was on the bottom step of the Gallery staircase, gazing out over the crowd. "Shut up, you two!" I nagged at my naughty companions. "And look - there's Kirsty Wark right in front of us." She was as close to me as you are now.
Then the most ground-opening and swallow-you-up thing happened. "Hi Kirsty!!" Stuart called to Ms Wark, close enough to touch her. She turned, beamed and looked at him, thinking it must be a friend. But appraised of the awful reality, she quickly looked away in disdain. "Be quiet, Stuart!" I urged, once more, and hustled him up the stairs past this prima diva of the intellectual airwaves.
Not desperately tall, she was wearing a candy-striped blouse and slightly-tousled hair. Her face was a bit more lived-in than it looks on the telly, and she was clutching a mobile prominently. But Stuart wasn't finished yet. Not by a long chalk. "Yer needin a bit conditioner on yer hair, Kirsty hen!" he shouted back to her. "Don't be so rude, Stuart" I hissed, grabbing his arm. "Well, she needs some conditioner," he said to me, a little ruefully.
Now, at this point I must tell you that none of the above really upset me that much. You choose your friends, and you're stuck with their behaviour. For our ticket money last night I got both an opera and a side-show. The next one to get his knickers in a twist was, strangely, me. Read on if you dare...
The lights went down, and the orchestra started to play. The first piece, the warm-up, was Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms, which we emphatically do not recommend. It's a tedious dirge. But Canadian Opera conspired to make it even more tearful, by installing a large projection screen above the singers with the words "In memory of all who have died of Aids," writ large across it.
"I object to that!" I hissed at Stuart. "How fucking dare they! What about the people who've died of breast cancer - or heart attacks!!" It was his turn to shut me up now. And then there was a gap, a wee lacuna in the music. "Stand up now and shout it out!" he encouraged. "I'm with you on that one." But of course I didn't. Just not my style. Plus we would all have been chucked out, and it had hardly started. Discretion is the better part of being really damn annoyed.
A quick word to our overseas visitors: Stick to the singing, guys, and leave the mind games to others. We've got plenty of our own dead to morn, without having to sit captive for twenty minutes while you so, so stylishly project one name after another on a screen until the whole damn thing is filled. Maybe no-one told you that Edinburgh, back in the eighties, was quickly identified as the "Aids capital of Europe." We bought our tickets expecting to be entertained, geddit? That is the usual contract.
A shocking misjudgement, and one which won't end here, I can assure you. I've written to the company already, and Barbara might possibly advise me of the most suitable Toronto newspaper to contact. (We're just so global here at NB, ye ken.)
Anyway, the next player in the limelight was Gordon, lurking quietly on the other side of Stuart. We were, from left to right, Gordon, Stuart, me and Ron - who had cleverly put sensible Peter between himself and the two nutters. (I mean that affectionately, guys.)
Oedipus Rex, the main course, began, and Gordon started to conduct it. "Ye'll need to stop conducting, Gordon!" I told him firmly, reaching across Stuart and grabbing his arms. But he was unstoppable. His arms had taken on a musical life of their own, and for the next ten minutes Stuart had constantly to grab him also.
However, the performance apparently wasn't quite to his liking, so he kept speaking across Stuart to tell me this. "Shh!" we kept saying. "But it's..." "Shhhhh!" The people in front were turning round. Over and over again. Talk about nightmare. It was only the alcohol kept me going. Beside me to the right, Ron was giggling away bigtime. Soon I needed a wee. My God what have I done to deserve all this? I kept thinking. Why not just leave now, get pissed, and at least I'll have seen half of it. Why pay good money to sit in social and physical torture?
Oedipus Rex was mercifully short, which is possibly the best thing you can say about it. Not recommended. Oh, Canadian Opera, once they'd got over their Aids obsession, did a masterful job. But you can't make a silk purse ootie a sow's ear, and the show is simply shite. Lots of choral singing. Lots of mournful solos. But almost no duet, far less trio. Not opera as I enjoy it, although the staging was spectacular. But still, it was Stravinsky not Gilbert and Sullivan. I knew what to expect.
The curtain came down for the last time, and then Stuart began his performance - which was to last the for rest of the evening. Right in front of all the opera-lovers he got tore into poor, hapless Gordon. "You!" he shouted. "You ruined that opera, not just for me, but for all these people in front of you!" Gordon was shocked to silence. He hasn't got a harmful bone in his body, unlike... (but I digress.) The other concert-goers were agreeing with Stuart, who was whipping them up into a middle-class frenzy. Ron and I found a way to escape in the other direction!
Downstairs in the gents he fired up again. Captive audience of pissers. "See you," he shouted to Gordon across four or five gents. "I'm gonna bang your heid right into this fucking wall! Twenty-five quid I spent for that fucking ticket, and you fucking RUINED it!" The men didn't know whether to laugh or flee. Most fled, but one lingered to laugh. I think he was an opera queen. Tallish, bronzed face, and white hair. "Bet you haven't had such an entertaing piss for some time!" I joked with him, safely outside.
And that, dear reader, is just about that. Moral of this tale: who needs opera, when your life is one already? Thanks for hanging in this long!
Mofo of a dream I've just freshly wakened from. But first the context: watching a wonderful overnight programme (where you still can get some decent stuff) about Niagara Falls, and its extremely rapid (up to 3 feet a year, if I recall) erosion upstream towards Lake Erie, where it will eventually disappear. (That should make some feature, btw. The waterfall at the end of the universe.) And who will get the rights to the big collapse? MTV or National Geographic Channel?
That is, until the might of modern man decided it was just fine where it was, at Niagara Falls and Buffalo, and have done astonishing things with dams and canals to keep it there, thank you. (For those who like to know these things, I can reveal that only 50 percent of the flow now goes over the falls during the day, and only 20 percent at night. More would erode. Who would visit a town called Niagara Ex Falls?)
But I digress, although the above is vital if you are going to help me find the correct neuroses out of this one...
At work in the bingo industry, one of my (dream) duties is to run outdoor pursuit challenges for staff training. Last night's theme was water-based, especially canoeing/kayaking. At the completion of what I'd regarded as a particularly successful weekend, B, one of my (real) managers, came up and mentioned that a participant, Yvonne King, had complained that I'd been "a bit rough" with her. (Yvonne King is someone I do know, but she doesn't work at the bingo. I've dreamt about her before, in the context of climbing Mount Everest. How creepy for her. But I'm no stalker, Y.)
Well, before you can say Rapid Eye Movement, the four managers (I take a lot of managing) had convened, heard the evidence, and found me guilty of attempted murder. For this the only sentence was death. We were in the USA, you see, and the method of execution was to be dropped into the Niagara River.
Now, probably like yourself, in my dreams I'm usually very powerful. I often fly, not with wings, but by a simple harnessing of anti-gravity. Much less tiring. I've really lost count of how many stately ceilings I've hovered around, looking at the frescos and chandeliers, then staring down on the less-gifted people.
So - when they hoisted me high in the execution crane (all watching, btw. I couldn't discern their emotional states.) and then released, I was able to fall at just the speed I chose, into the boiling and bubbling US water. But Canada was only a hundred yards away, under a red bridge. No waterfall was to be seen! I just had to survive the water until I was past that damn bridge, and then Canada and safety!
Oh I got tossed about and buffeted. But I missed the jagged rocks, keeping midstream as much as possible. "Hey - you're still alive!" I kept telling myself, until magically I was under the bridge and climbing up a very easy rock into Canada.
Canada was quite a posh hotel, with many rich, middle-aged ladies. "And what do you do?" they would ask. "Well, technically I'm dead," I would reply. "I was sentenced to death, and legally executed, so really that's it."
The hotel was not entirely in Canada, however. It straddled the border. One woman was sitting rather strangely in her cinema-type seat till I realised she was keeping one foot in each country. Soon I bumped into my bingo managers again, particularly B. "Can I work in the bingo again?" I asked him, knowing how short-staffed they always are. He paused for a moment. "Well, I guess you've had your punishment," he said. "Yes, you can come back - but we'll have to get you a new name and a new uniform..."
And then I woke and realised etc. Creepy or what?
How bizarre to segue from a dream to a title like that! And how even more weird when I tell you that that is the Stravinsky opera we're going to tonight, performed by Canadian Opera. And no - I'm NOT making it up!
It's the second of only two operas this festival (that I'm attending), the first being The Marriage of Figaro. Tonight's is a Festival production, rather than Fringe, so will (hopefully) benefit from lots of nice funding. Figaro was sung well, but limited in impact by the small size of the orchestra.
Oedipus is being sung in Latin, which is just fine, as you can never make the words out anyway. This hasn't stopped Gordon, one of my opera companions, from spouting odd Latin phrases during the week!
Not sure what to wear, as my opera cloak is rather stupidly at the cleaners. Are a rugby shirt and (cream) jeans acceptable these days? (Picture above.) If they're ironed, even? (I would do that, as an exception. I iron my work clothes, after all.) Or maybe a shirt and tie. Suit will just be too hot, plus all three of them would benefit from a little dry-cleaning, or the risk of offence would ever be there.
Yesterday afternoon in the Malt and Hops with Steve and Sharon I was introduced to a young man called Andy, (really), who had just done the entire stained glass for Saint Mary's Episcopal Cathedral. I asked him if he had a web site. He said no. I suggested Tony my IT manager. Sharon said she'd introduce. Amazing what you pick up on Naked Blog!
OUT AND ABOUT IN NOTTINGHAM, EDINBURGH AND VIETNAM
First blog event of the week is the return of Mike. Clearly suffering from abloggia (a word I've just invented - means lack of blogging), he's hit the keyboard with a vengeance, producing more lists than a supermarket. Latest is Top 50 Britblogs, in which we don't even appear. Shows how sensible that one is, then.
(It's based on numbers of links. We never linkwhore. Our list remains tiny but powerful.) Bit like my *beep* really. [Oh do shut up. Ed]
Ed is right. But should I join in this 100 things about me lark? I can only think of three...
1. I'm really not very interesting.
2. That's it.
3. That didn't take long, did it?
And the second is Embra Nights which I just discovered from my referrer logs. It's the adventures of a guy called Martin. Sounds interesting. Wonder if he's ever in The Village?
Think I'll put him on the sidebar for a trial. See how it comes on.
In which a particularly disturbing Search Request reduces me to despair. For those in other countries (and why not?) the gentleman searched for is a c*hild k*iller. That is he k*illed a c*hild when he was a c*hild. (Now a teen.) Don't think you have any monopoly on horror where you are.
But things are easier now. Like my blog-colleagues, I've learned not to name those likely to be searched for in a disturbing context.
I shouldn't be sitting here, writing to you like this. It's ten o' clock and the sky is pretty dark. Well, not quite so dark, as thick cloud has come in, hiding the majesty of the cosmos from the pathos of the yellow street lights. You'll know them well. They're where you are too.
Andy wan't in very good shape in the Port this afternoon. Sitting, rocking, clutching his very arms for comfort, he resembled nothing so much as my late mother when she was implanted - like an animal - with modecate anti-depressant pellets, then suffered the convulsions from hell.
Doctors make you worse. If dying is your style, then die you must do. The tablets never help for long.
Suicide Nick was in little better form. "How are you darling?" he asked, eyes darting immediately to my belly. "Oh, fine Nick" I retorted, estimating just how poisonous he was planning on being this time. Me, I always make allowances. Let them stick the knife in first. It's great to be gay, and have so many dying friends.
"Avoid horizontal stripes, dear," he counselled, insincerely. "Do nothing for you." How much I love such fashion advice!
"You'll have heard that Ian and I have finished..." he went on. "No, darling," I replied, with not the slightest idea, far less interest, as to who Ian was. There was some vague idea of such a name in the recent background who'd topped himself - but round here these things are commonplace.You really can't get involved, far less concerned. Life's too short, ye ken.
Then Alistair and I got a bit pissed (drunk). Stuart was meant to be doing tarot readings in the Baroque Bar, but no punters turned up. Life's a bitch when you're not quite psychic enough.
On the way home, down Leith Walk, I had chips and curry sauce.
The start of a few days' ruminations on the power and misapplication of the Google engine. By now we're all too sickeningly familiar with the way it selects random words from a page, and conflates them into almost any expression some sicko goes searching for. But then, a year ago, things were just beginning to shape up, both in my mind and in my logs. I supply an actual example, which - ironically - I can't quote for you here without sparking the whole thing off again.
"Mind you, giving my Blog the title it's got hasn't helped. And neither does having a friend named Granny. You just have NO idea how many people are into N*ked Gr*nny s*x!!"
Poor Granny. He was the one waiting in vain for punters for his tarot readings. It can't be easy having me as a friend.
Hi! How are you? It's just after nine here, and the sky is a deep cloudless azure, after an equally brilliant day. Two months ago it wouldn't be this dark till almost midnight, but the seasons progress, as they are bound to do.
Some peace today, some light-heartedness after the emotional wringer of the last two days. Mangle, I almost said, in place of wringer, but mangle you won't understand. It was a pair of rubber rollers, pressed hard together, that you fed your wet washing through and it squeezed some water out. Hard work, elbow grease, arm power. A man's job on washday - which was always a Monday. No other day would do... tongues would wag... what's she been up to not to get her washing hung out on the proper day? And ironed on Tuesday. Or else.
Much tutting and tsking also on the media front. It now seems that a man and a woman accused of m*urder might not even be tried, such has been the comment, and the printed presumption of guilt. Not since the death of Diana have so many flowers been put in one place, as busloads of ghouls turn up to gawk at the village and all its distress.
Not since Pan Am/Lockerbie has such a tiny place become the scouring-ground for so many media vultures, their very jobs hanging on this interview, or that sighting, or "I am the third cousin of one of the dead girls' classmates." Ghoul is too good a word. Forgive me, I destest those who profit from tragedy - from the News of The World up to the BBC itself.
From the corridors of televised power come the so-frequent cries of "dumbing-down" once again, this time in response to some top suit's lecture in Edinburgh. Charlie has the details and offers some commentary. I joined in a little there also, but it seems not good to profess to enjoying Dad's Army. Mea culpa.
So tonight I wallowed in The Good Life with just that little extra relish. Always the rebel, me. And then there was a retrospective of forty years of University Challenge. Nice programme that. Someone on my sidebar was actually on it - UC, not tonight's discussion - but that's for me to know, and you to find out. Not just any tat we keep on this sidebar, you see.
University Challenge started in 1962, but a year ago here I took you much further back than that, with a post which is still heavily Googled to this day. In the piece I focus on just how very upper-middle class the BBC (for that's all there was) appeared in the early fifties, and how many of the programmes, such as What's My Line, were really just to "watch the middle-classes at play". You might enjoy it.
But now the emphasis has changed to "watch the arseholes at play" on shows like Ibiza Nites, or the execrable Big Brother.
Dad's Army? Weak, certainly, but then so is almost all Britcom. One episode of 24 or SFU has more quality and content than all of 'Allo 'Allo, Are You Being Served, Hi-de-Hi, and even Steptoe and Son put together. Tat they might all be. But they're my tat.
LATER, CATHODE RAYS
Six Feet Under Oh dear. It's not every Monday that your weekend's posts turn up in unexpected fiction. You'll have seen it, so nothing need be said here. Enough has been written already. More than enough.
Be young, have fun, don't listen to the old fogey. Too many albatrosses round his neck.
"Too much learning is not a good thing.
Do not tinkle like jade,
Or clatter like stone chimes." Tao te Ching
This tagboard is turning into quite a feature. Recent highlights include dave and alan advising Darren on how to be gay. You have to scroll back several screens to get the best stuff, and the navigation system is a big odd. You'll cope, if you wish to. The topics range from saunas to solitude.
Gay men are unusual in the amount they refer to their partners in their blogs. It's almost daily. Whereas the straight men I read do no such thing. Odd.
At one point dave says, "It's great to be gay... I haven't been lonely since I stepped into [gay bar] in 1985." Interesting, but a classic non sequitur. The reason dave hasn't been lonely is not that he's gay, but that he's probably attractive. The two are not synonymous.
Me, I don't think it's great to be gay at all. I see it as a handicap and a stigma to be borne as best you can. To be got on with, as a person in a wheelchair does. But not as severe as that.
There are times when I am very lonely. I get lonely when I realise almost all the gay men of my age that I grew up with here are dead or dying. I get lonely when I realise that had I been other than gay I would have relations to visit and laugh with. I feel financially poor when I think how my career might have progressed had I not been gay, and I feel humiliated when it becomes clear that the only role for the older gay man is as comic and clown. I despise that and will not collude - although I can.
It's easier for the younger folk, as I can tell from the intimacy of their blogs. And this is good. I wish you well.
Apologies no Naked Blog in some areas yesterday. This was due to distribution problems outside the control of nakedblog.com. Oh - it was nothing of the sort. I couldn't think of anything. Nor did I try very hard! So there.
BREAST IS BEST
While browsing Guardian Unlimited over another matter, I chanced upon this one which might amuse.
A woman has been warned by a court in Urbana, Illinois to stop breastfeeding her eight-year-old son... She insists the practice is natural, but does not know if she still produces milk... "
ZILLA V ZILLA (Contd.)
Well, Toho v Linabury hits the Guardian yesterday in a tiny article...
Dave [Linabury] has, in their eyes, committed two crimes: he has appended their "zilla" to his name, and he has a little, gaunt-looking dragon as his blog logo. Cue lawyers' letters and uproar in Blogistan as a popular citizen prepares his defence. Which includes the fact that dictionary.com includes two definitions for "zilla".
Note also that this is the first use of Blogistan we've met. Nice, if a bit third world.
Talking of which - what about that damn movie I was at on Wednesday with Big Straight Al the sexy plumber? Naked verdict: fun in parts, with a hilarious climax, but best wait till it's on the telly. Two-second Naked review: Jimi Mistry plays a handsome Bollywood actor who journeys to Hollywood to make it big. His adventures and misadventures. Lots of dancing, both Indian and Grease. (That's Grease - You're The One That I Want...) Oh - and look out for Christine Baranski. Despite being a miracle of preservation these days, she still outacts the lot.
However, the evening was almost derailed before it started by the near-criminal charging of UCI Cinemas for their hot-dogs and nachos. More than thirteen quid for two small hotdogs, two nachos, and one medium Coca Cola. There are only two appropriate words. Daylight Robbery.
I have to report that Al drives his plumbing van like the big man he is, almost causing a small car to crash into us on a roundabout. Toot toot! Parp parp! "Fuck off, yer wee cunt!" Way to go, sunshine!!
The title of Irvine Welsh's latest book. Tune in to Newsnight Review tonight at 11 on BBC2 and see one of our watering holes, the Port o Leith Bar. You can apparently also see a Sex Shop and a Sauna/Massage Parlour. Jeanette Winterson and the Bishop of Edinburgh provide the commentary. Talk about living.
I've just learned, via Metafilter, that today is National Slacker Day. So now you know why you're so laid-back and snoozy. Chill out, put those feet up on your desk for the afternoon, and tell your boss it's for the company's ultimate good. You know it makes sense. Can't wait to tell them at the bingo this afternoon.
I simply can't keep up. It just isn't possible to be in enough places at once. There I was yesterday in The Village, with Barbara, Scotland's answer to Delia Smith, and Gordon, ditto Isaac Asimov, as emotionally we prepared for that spider-movie.
But unbeknowns to us, at that very time, even as we stood, the BBC - no less - were filming in my other local, the Port o Leith Bar. It seems Irvine Welsh's new book is either about the bar, or in the bar, or refers to the bar, or something. Well, we always said someone should write a book about the place - and when that's said often enough, it usually is the truth.
"He calls it Port Sunshine," said Gordon, as he swilled his cheap red wine around the even cheaper glass. "But Welsh is finished. He was a one-pony race." Always lovely to hear one writer chatting about another.
Well, because here at Naked Blog we do the research for you, I've just spent 25 of my valuable minutes browsing this official Welsh site, (quite ghastly - enormous writing on a Hibee green background) and this unofficial one, to no avail. No mention at all of Port Sunshine, Port o Leith, or anything. What I did learn is that I W is speaking at the Book Festival on August 24, and that his latest book is called Porno. It's a sequel to Trainspotting. I also learned that The Guardian refers to his writing as schemie demotic.
Has schemie caught on in England the way that minger has?
And oh - Gary, the Port o Leith barman, said the film was to be shown on Friday evening around 11. What's the betting it'll be on Newsnight review. Had I made different choices yesterday afternoon, you might well have been watching your hero slugging it out with Germaine over a glass of Jacob's. But I'll bet you a fiver to a brick shithouse that Rex has wangled his way into it...
Tonight I'm going to the cinema (yes, again), but this time with the sexiest man in Scotland. It's true. And this is how it came about...
Barbara had to leave Gordon and me and pick up her kid, so we strolled from the Port back to the Village, planning our Project X collaboration on the way. (Sorry G - I haven't come up with the title yet. Last night I dreamt of Eminem instead.)
Well, who should approach us at the Village bar but Big Straight Al, the plumber. More than six feet of prime lean meat, heavily-inked arms, and dyed-blonde hair to die for. Whole ensemble set off by his dirty work-clothes.
"My God, you're looking gorgeous tonight!" I gasped, with no attempt to hide my adoration. "Wanna go to the pictures tomorrow?" he replied, ignoring the compliment as the right it surely is. "I've got two tickets for The Guru."
Mop my brow with a sweaty rag.
"Yes, of course I'd fucking love to go," I said to him. "But you do realise it'll be written about on the website, and so will you." Alcoholic confidence. He grinned then, quixotically. Everybody loves to be in things. Even this. He's driving me to the cinema in his plumber's van. If I had hormones left to flood...
Verdict on the spider movie? See it. As drunk and/or stoned as you wish. There truly is no plot at all.
One of my rules about running a website like this, which observes real people's words and deeds, is that 1-2-1 chats are out of bounds. Off the menu. Never even took place. Otherwise no damn body would talk to me. Geddit?
But let me just say this. When a woman tells a gay man that she likes it up the bottom, then there's nothing abstract about which "it" she's wanting. It's his. And hell hath no fury like etc. Phew!! That was a narrow escape. Pass them smelling salts quick.
What queer ideas some folk do have.
Teatime today a gang of cinema-lovers are off to see Eight Legged Freaks, a film which conveniently disposes of the hyphen in the title. I'm told it all but totally disposes of plot too, so maybe this addled old brain can keep up. Me, I just wanna get scared shitless, but then the tale just above was pretty damn scary too.
The buzz around the patent offices, from Tel Aviv to Talahassee, is that Toho, owners of all things Godzilla, stand no chance at all with their infringement action against David Linabury (Davezilla). Me, I think they've just hired a web-savvy lawyer who's spotted the immense advertising potential of the blogosphere.
Put simply, (in case you're feeling hungover), that single email to Mr Linabury has generated more FREE Godzilla-publicity than Wall Street could ever orgasm over. They've struck gold. They should bring out a movie. Next week, before everybody starts doing it.
The word is two-fold. One is my own, above. The other is that having failed in their actions against the mighty AOL Time Warner, owners of the Mozilla mark, they've turned instead on the small guy, Davezilla. It's what we in Britain call the "silly season".
"Well, if Davezilla is a person, then what's this Mozilla thing?" I hear you asking. It's a browser software. The name derives from Mosaic, an earlier version, and of course that Japanese dragon. It was owned by Netscape, which was bought by AOL, so technically now belongs to AOL Time Warner. Or summat. Remember, Naked Blog is free - for true facts you should look elsewhere.
A collection of zilla-news is on Ericzilla. The best of the ones I read was CNET. So why is Naked Blog taking part in this? Because it's fun, and because of the traffic, some of whom might stick around. Like you, I do understand the blogosphere.
A really good article on blogging is in MSN Newsweek, in which the writer introduces the idea of Zack, who gets 28 hits a day, as being part of the "dark matter" of blog-universe. Well written, informative and entertaining. The type of article I would write myself, if not kept busy doing this for you every day.
Oh - and spot the NB reference! Not named, but there nevertheless. It's not just any old tat I keep on my sidebar!
It's zilla week, kids. Remember exactly one week ago today, when I was introducing you to the delights of bobzilla?
"Bobzilla. I like it for various reasons, none of which I need stuff down your throat. You decide. (Not to be confused with Davezilla, a founding A-lister, and first usurper of the suffix. (After God.)"
Now, I know some of you are not the shiniest apple in the barrel, and might well have wondered what the hell I meant by "After God". Well, now I can reveal - for it matters to this tale - that I was referring of course to that Japanese wonder-dragon Godzilla.
However, after reading my little juxtaposition, it seems that Toho, who own the Godzilla mark, decided that enough was enough, and wrote a stiff(ish) letter to Dave Linabury (for that is Davezilla's real name), demanding he remove etc. and desist from etc. etc.
But that's not all!! Terreus makes the obvious comment that zillas are everywhere these days. Mozilla. Go!zilla. It's even rumoured that Ms C Black, entertainer, is starting one up called Cillazilla !!
Incidentally, Mr Linabury (for we may not call him Zilla), received no less than 213 comments on this grave(ish) situation. One can only wonder how many Cilla Black would have garnered, were any of her viewers able to operate the www.
There appears to have been a ghastly double murder in England. The bodies of two girls have been found, and a man and a woman are being held on suspicion of their killing. If they are found guilty, then they will join that very small club at present comprising Fred and Rose West, and Ian Brady and Myra Hindley. About this horrible matter we have nothing to say here.
Except this. A feature of this enquiry was the girls' fondness for online chatting, and so their computers were taken away for forensic examination. Many trees died to bring you the full shocking facts about internet chat rooms. So imagine my surprise when yesterday I chanced upon this little offering from AOL - the third wing of Time Warner AOL.
Do you need ESP with your ISP?
AOL helps to keep your family safe, is easy to use, and has exclusive features.
Coincidence? I think we should be told. Talk about cashing in.
Last Thursday one of the UK's premier stores opened its doors to the discerning gentle-folk of Edinburgh. Harvey Nichols - that bastion of conspicuous consumption, and recipient of so much free advertising on Absolutely Fabulous. (Or maybe not free.)
But not all the burghers of this town feel it is quite the store for them. John Martin, a Big Issue (homelessness magazine) vendor, was selling copies of his magazine outside the store when the doorman asked him to move on. And Big Issue in Scotland are not amused. "This is Absolutely NOT Fabulous," said Kate Caskie, director.
One suggestion is that Harvey Nicks were displeased because Mr Martin was requiring their customers to pay in cash, a concept with which many of them will have little familiarity. Edinburgh Evening News
You know, that must be one of the most bandied-about sayings ever said - and even after all these decades, I still haven't a dinkies what it means. No mind.
One medium which is quite definitely not the message right now is Tagboard, which yesterday dumped - for ever - an enormous chunk of readers' postings. Here we lost three days' worth. Elsewhere things were better or worse.
So I logged onto the site, hoping for an explanation (it was 9.30 ish last night) and the shit was just hitting the fan on their own tagboard. Appears they'd had a disk-crash, with the most recent backup three days earlier. They promised it wouldn't happen again. Hmmm.
But your author, ever fascinated by human conduct, hung around long after the bad news was declared, to study the behaviour of the frustrated taggers. I would say that out of possibly thirty individuals who came on-line, maybe three wrote in English something like this. The rest used some bizarre mix of SMS, High School homie, and downright shocking spelling and grammar.
You see, the words had no interest for them. With not the slightest interest in form or style, they wished simply to click on each others' sites and then declare how cool they were. Friendships were even being made, as I sat there watching in de-tag wonder. Me, I didn't browse at all, knowing fine what awaited - the beauty of the very Sistine Chapel itself... set off by the prose of a six-year-old. Take a look now, if you will, and see the chaotic written frenzy of probably the most web-literate youngsters on the planet.
What are we raising? And does it matter? The sole use of the population is to earn money to spend on advertised goods. The sole aim of our Masters is to expose us to as much advertising as possible. And who needs to spell or write these days, in order to earn and spend?
All this, just when the Tagboard was getting busier! I hope this setback won't set anyone back.
And now, the end is near - oh, do shut up! Waxing melodramatic. What I'm saying is that my three-day (working) week starts at one today, after yet another hedonistic four days off. Four days in which rather than do anything useful or improving to my life (and God knows it needs it!), we swanned around instead - going to Opera, having long, lazy lunches, chatting to all and sundry, making plans for the rest of the Festival, and generally chilling out. So chilled I didn't even do my damn laundry. But give it no mind. I have back-up shirts, behind a glass plate saying Break In An Emergency.
Yesterday I booked our seats for Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex, performed by Canadian Opera. Going are Gordon the Club manager, Stuart the Reiki healer, Ron the bass guitarist and me the token oldboy. It'll be very cultural. We will win every tedious Festival chit-chat simply by mentioning that one. But it's not all haute-culture.
Oh no. Next Tuesday we're off to the flicks to see that latest spider-thingy. Eight Legged Freaks, or summat. I'm hoping my elderly cognition can cope with that one better than I managed with Minority Report. Plus I'm like totally arachnophobic, so am hoping to be scared shitless. There are spider nightmares already, to go with the seagull and body-bag ones earlier.
Last night my house was full of giant spiders, but we'd all decided to get on with each other. In fact, once the spiders had stung me, I started developing super-powers, like Jeff Goldblum in The Fly. Oh - I knew there'd be a backlash later in the script (isn't there always?), but nevertheless was thoroughly enjoying the enhanced virility, improved appearance and so on that the spider venom had given me.
A gang of us from The Village are going. It was Barbara's original suggestion. "Are you on the rag?" Stuart said to her yesterday, after a delicious lunch of falafels and Thai chicken. (Barbara's falafels are to die for, btw.) "That's what he said last week," Barbara retorted, pointing to me. (I had no mind of it. But that doesn't mean I didn't say it. Barb's memory is pretty damn good :)
"No," she said, lowering her eyes modestly and blushing. "I'm ovulating."
There was a moment's hushed reverence for this most human of processes - yet somehow slightly divine. Four queens, one woman and an egg. "Well, you're in no danger of fertilisation from us four," I joked, indicating Stuart, Dean, Brian and moi.
"Don't worry, Darlings!" she declared. "I wouldn't touch you lot if you were straight."
Game, set and match.
Stuart invited me to stay in his caravan at St Andrews for a few days in October, and then we went for a long, lazy river walk to Tesco's - to pick up the fixings for a beef curry. For watching we chose Batman and Robin, the Chris O'Donnell version, as my nose was bothering me over something Darren had said.
Stuart's meal was delicious, and the movie typical tat. But we laughed. And at least I didn't get the urge to walk out.
Out and About in FantasyLand
Browsing about, I came across this site, Blog of the Reverend Dr L Rubber Chicken. It's a satire mag, with articles such as Bush Revives Slavery to Boost Economy, and Eminem's Wife Confirms Premature Ejaculation Stories. Not as funny as NB, but more American. I am getting a bit worried about my N American readers.
It was a very taxing day, as I finally came clean to the Inland Revenue...
"We've chatted often, on the phone, Mr Campbell and I. He seemed gruff and fatherly, with no hint of emotion or humanity. You felt a joke between us would die quicker than a lavatory germ with Harpic Power Foam."
But boy, was I wrong about the fatherly bit...
"A very young man arrived, clutching a wad of papers. My God, they've sent the office boy, I thought. He must be on Work Experience. "Hello," the youth greeted me. "Are you Mr Campbell?" I asked, incredulous."
Money talks, they say. But sometimes it don't tell the truth.
This tagboard might well intimidate readers new to Naked Blog. So let's get one thing clear. It's not exclusive, nor is it a gay joint. You are very welcome to join in. The reason you often don't get an answer is that it's only really busy from 8.30 am to lunch (GMT/BST) on weekdays. Other times things are a bit slack. Like the customers.
Today's topic was Radio Porn. Gay men are as interested in porn as are their straight counterparts. It's a lad thing. But porno's are getting a bit same-y after all these years. Sometimes I think if I see two more bronzed Californian Beach Babes -with expensively-streaked hair-dos - jumping off their surf-boards and into each others' bottoms, then I'll scream and scream and scream until I'm sick.
So this morning, in the Tag-Board café, we devised an alternative... something which would take you back to quieter days of yore, when the Vicar would come round for tea, and the most exciting thing in the village would be a sheet of postage stamps with faulty perforations. The players, as ever, are Alan,Darren,Dave and me - the café-owner. But you can play any time you want! And you can never leave...
We join the chat as dave is describing, possibly from memory, a pitch to a porn-king for a movie...
dave: teen gayboy down the pit gets 'manhandled' by burly miners in the dark. shower scene obligatory. my pitch for a porno. (but not starring me!)
Peter: Not totally dark, or it might as well be on the radio.
Peter: Radio porn! Now there's an idea. (And you heard it here first!)
Darren: Aural sex!
dave: radio porn....now theres an untapped market. we could all 'do' porn if it was on the radio. "i'm 6ft, very hairy, blond hair and beard and i have 10 fat inches with your name on it"....
Peter: I'd want a longer name than mine. Maximillian ?
dave: you like it like that don'tcha, huh? yeah baby.....
New readers should realise that dave is possibly the most - how can I put it - earthy of our customers. It's a north-east thing.
Peter: Aural sex - you're right! Gets rid of that snag when you like what they're doing, but don't fancy them.
dave: aural sex! hahahahahahaha. wish i'd thought of that.
alan: With cybersex, of course, there's no voice - even more disassociated. There may be images, but they're unlikely to relate to anything.
Peter: Darren isn't as daft as he looks! (Oops, did I say that??)
Darren: It was a rogue synapse misfiring. Shan't happen again, I promise
dave: cybersex sounds so old fashioned now. does it not? sort of like one of those music centres with the smoked glass lid.
dave: i've never had phone sex or cyber sex.
Peter: Everybody's got sick of the charade. Reality beckons.
And there our chat moved on to dave's astonishing adventures with his mother's music-centre. You really should be there :)
Big-ups for Richard, who's organised a Scottish Blog Meet for this coming Saturday, August 17. It's in Princes Street Gardens, or the Cafe Royal, depending on the weather. My every good wish, and I'm sure you'll all have a lot of fun.
WHY AYE THE KNA'S
Big-ups also for Sarah, who achieves every (surely?) blogger's dream of having a writing contract pop into her email box. Good on yer, hen. Should be tons more fun than amphibians.
Can we make it quite clear that Naked Blog is most definitely available for similar commissions. No job too big or too small. Delivery can be done yesterday, if required. We're fast as fuck once we get going.
Out and About
So many blogs, so little time. I can't keep up with the list you see to the left, far less explore new ones. But every now and again, maybe once a month, I'll do a little snooping about. From someone else's sidebar, so as not to leave any trail.
Now, those of you who pay attention will have spotted here and there our bleats of, "Omygod, NB was so much better when no-one was reading it." Or summat. This is both ungrateful and untrue. It wasn't better, just different. I could hang up my cursor tomorrow, and within one week, NB would have washed out of your consciousnesses as completely as a penis drawn from memory in the sand. I've seen it happen. Not pretty. Sic transit.
So, imagine my delight when recently I stumbled across jhames, who writes on that matter quite eloquently indeed. You will like it.
A Coward's Tale
(Inspired by dave.) Of Noel Coward I know next to nothing. My friend and literary consultant Rex is always decrying faggots who know no "gay history further back than Quentin Crisp and Boy George." Being one such faggot, I have to respond, usually on the lines of, "Well, what the hell history do straights know about?" Which is partly valid. But so is Rex.
So what of Mr Coward? Was he a bound-breaking, gay rights enabler? Did he go to Canada to avoid conscription? Were his plays any good? Should he be described as a miserable old bastard? Tell me the answers, and save me doing the work. I'm more interested in your opinion than Google-junk, anyway.
Not a lot of point in reviewing a show which is over, in this town at least. But, for the record, Marriage of Figaro performed by Palace Opera and London Concertante Orchestra was an excellent production within its parameters.
The singing was never less than good, with beautifully-tight and precise ensemble. I hope it wouldn't be unkind to say that not all the voices, however skilfully they were employed, were of world-class potential. Who cares? Stars cost a hell of a lot more than twelve quid for nearly three hours. We live far too much in a "star" culture. What's wrong with just getting on with it, and giving good show?
Gordon my companion tried to explain the plot, but we both agreed it was too complicated to bother about, so what the heck. Sit back and enjoy. Everything was certainly there... cross-dressing, un*der-age bonking, in and out of the closet...
But opera, for me and for most people, is not about story or staging or costume - it's about music. And this is where the performance lacked somewhat. I think you'll agree it's just not possible to do justice to an orchestral score with string quartet, wind trio, bass and Roland continuo. However, these young players (every single one was 25), gave it their best shot. This was my first experience of Concertante used in that way, and I'd be interested to hear more.
The day I met Jon Ronson, after quite some years of hero-worship.
"I like Edinburgh," Mr Ronson said.
"Pretentious and piss-elegant," I truthfully replied. "Leith is much more fun - Trainspotting country. And it's just two miles down the road. I'd love to show you round."
Watch this space...
But my friends were not too impressed. Far too occupied with Paul Smith and Prada, they have little time left for actually thinking...
"Back at The Village, the reception was mixed. Ally, Dolly and Stuart, who are not great fans of the written arts, had little to say to my excitement. "Well, I can see you're quite underwhelmed," I announced. "Sorry it wasn't Kylie - or Robbie." That put them in their place. Queens hate being thought shallow."
There follows a drunken threeway with Andy and Bernice which you might find amusing...
It's true! Marriage of Figaro, by young Wolfie. Palace Opera with London Concertante (means "small") Orchestra. Final performance today at 2pm.
There are some things a boy has to do to preserve his rep. Throughout the Festival, all and sundry will come up and ask, "What are you doing in the Festival?" And, being known as something of a philosopher and aesthete in these parts, I have to come up with the goods. Now, as my main and overriding passion is talking, (and listening, of course), packaged entertainment usually takes second place. The pub will always win out, not because one is alcofrolic, but rather because it's easy, it's there, and you don't have to book.
But this year, for the first time, I find myself comfortably semi-retired, with no fewer than four disposable days a week. Not to do some Festival would be stupid. So, Mozart it is. With Gordon from The Village. Then later in the month, Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex with Gordon and also Ian, who loves Stravinsky.
Why opera, then? Because it shuts people up, bigtime. Over and again, they will sit there and say, "Oh, I'm going to see "X" (insert tedious, camp, North London "comedian") tonight at the "Y". (Insert latest, "sylish", rip-off venue.) "And what about you?" (Accusingly.)
"Oh - Mozart right now, some superb Stravinsky a little later, and I've still got plenty of options. I hear the Los Angeles Philharmonic are tipped for a great Festival debut." (End of topic.)
"Poser," said Barbarella the chef. But this is the way Edinburgh "works". It's an odd city - but you've just got to read Miss Jean Brodie and Trainspotting to suss that out. And Naked Blog, of course - except this one takes longer.
We have many young readers here at NB, attracted to our drivel for reasons only they will know. And why not? More fun than Smash Hits!!
Sometimes you chat on the tagboard, and this is fine. Tagboard is great for light-hearted, inconsequential chit-chat. But not for the sad and the serious - its winking, blinking, accurate coldness is not the medium for such news. Those talks need physical presence, some warmth, perhaps a glass of wine, a look and a touch. Electronics can book opera tickets, no problem. But some things still elude it. My love and best wishes, nevertheless.
Lightening up! I'm sure Josh will forgive me for this extract...
Peter: Well, it's true. My God you've been working hard at spelling and big words...
Peter: spelling is OK, but don't let it get in the way of your writing
josh: yea, well i wont always be the juvenile niave writer that gets away with spelling and misused words..
josh: oh. lets count the mistakes in that sentence.
Peter: won't always, but you will for a while yet! anyway, this naive (not) young (not) writer has to head for bed. btw, we've got a 1000 pound weblog contest in Britain right now. Exciting.
It's Monday, and things seem to have cheered up considerably. Monday always has been my favourite day.
"At nine on a Monday am you have not only the day ahead of you, but the week also. Five days in which to achieve things, make things happen, and accentuate the positive. (OK - I can tell you don't believe me, but at least I'm trying.)"
And then we list out our to-do's for the week, ranging from meeting Jon Ronson to cleaning the toilet with Harpic Power Foam, a product I still have yet to acquire...
"Of course, I could put it all off and go to the pub. Makes yer think. Do you enjoy reading my tittle-tattle, btw? I don't have exotic holidays or fractious partners to talk about, I'm afraid. With no family, and friends you can count on one finger, (if that), there's not an awful lot to blog about, except the obvious. Banal self-absorption, Paul (Baker) once called it, but he might have meant someone else. Other people are a mistake, Quentin once called it, and I know he didn't mean anyone else."
Morning fans, from down-town (slightly-) sunny Leith, with nothing earth-shattering to report today. SNAFU, they used to call it in the war.
Oh, it did filter through this veil of worldly indifference that some President or other is planning on bombing some far-off country or three. And that my own Prime Minister (is it still Mr Blair?) is having to practically slice himself in two to keep the various continents contented. But these are the topics of the defeated. Real people go about their business, and just thank the local deity that they're not on the current hitlist. NB philosophy is now, and always has been, that there's no point in getting yourself into a state over things you can do nothing about. That just creates another victim. What little we can do, we do here these days.
Had a quite awful dream last night. Body-bags. Readers who pay attention (and there are one or two), will remember a true-life story about a big, black plastic bag, which might or might not have contained a human body, floating down the Water of Leith. A seagull rode atop, pecking at the bag's contents, and pulling out strips of white stuff. I thought of phoning the police, but didn't want to be a nuisance over nothing. Yet this was precisely one day before they sent divers into the river, in search of someone recently murdered. You saw it here first. No news too big or too small.
Last night was similar, sans river. Across from my fourth-floor flat is a college. On its roof was a body-sized plastic bin-bag, securely wrapped. Thinking back to the river scenario, I thought of calling the cops, but held off because I knew they would want to see the view from my house, and (as you all know by now), it's in too disgusting a state to entertain visitors.
But at first light this am, I took another peek, and to my horror the bag was now surrounded by seagulls. A dozen and a half, dining al fresco. Closer and closer I zoomed in, to see what could have been a human face in the debris. Then, at the other end, there were unmistakeable severed arms. Quite a few, in fact. Probably more than two, but I was too distraught to count the clearly-visible hands and fingers. Munch, munch, screech, squawk. Ashes to ashes.
So I called the cops, confident that I wouldn't be wasting their time. And then, mercy be, I awoke. Scary or what?
I can feel a proverb coming on, but it isn't quite perfect yet...
OUT AND ABOUT IN MONOCHROME
Bobzilla. I like it for various reasons, none of which I need stuff down your throat. You decide. (Not to be confused with Davezilla, a founding A-lister, and first usurper of the suffix. (After God.) Oh - and you can even read our own little comment in his chunkiest box.
Talking of which, some of those A-list folk are pretty damn clever. RMS. XML. OHMS. RIP. Take a wee peep at Interconnected, on the sidebar. Confused? You will be, but on a much more elevated plane.
Seems we were a bit down in the dumps. Awful, in fact. I don't normally read this work as the diary it set out to be, but this new feature might force the act.
Modern life is the antithesis of intimacy. Chatting was once all the vogue - now you watch other people faking it on the telly. Music too was a huge social occasion - concerts, vaudeville, opera - wherever your tastes took you. Now you put on a CD. And of course computing power - this very thing - has gobbled up what little might be left. Alone again, naturally. Ah well, there's always the Microsoft Bridge Zone. Let's all be sad lonely fuckers together. "Two hearts!" Or shoot up your school. That way they'll notice you.
What is to become of us all? On Tuesday I'm invited to meet Jon Ronson at the Edinburgh Book Festival. It would be fascinating, but I'll be too shy to go. All I'm good at is insincerity.
But today I can say that the past year has been pretty damn good.
Today is the last day in Leith of my good friend Sandra. I'll miss her loads. Accepting, non-judgemental and loving, she's been a great friend over this last year or so. But other fields beckon - greener fields if cooler. And Leith with its harshness of spirit and bleakness of outlook is no place for a soon-to-be teen daughter. I wish her, and Alligator Johnny, and L her daughter every happiness for the future elsewhere, and can offer no greater tribute than yesterday's tagboard discussion...
Peter: Sandra is leaving me.
Darren: What??????? Noooooo!
Peter: She and her family are going to Caithness. It's almost in the Arctic.
alan: How? Why? What?
Peter: They're fed up of the city. Back to nature. Recording studio and greenhouse.
alan: Who will manage you now?
Peter: Probably postman and sam.
Peter: Except they'll constantly be dragging me up.
alan: Hmmm... that's not your best look by the sounds of it.
Peter: You're right.
alan: I'd offer to manage you, except I couldn't manage my way out of a paper bag.
Peter: Me neither. Of course it's the house which is the main problem. Sam has already offered to muck it out, wearing a blindfold if necessary.
And there our chat moved on. Like Sandra. Missin' yer, hen.
Every fagblog in the land will be "doing" la Divine'spiece today, so why add more fuel to the rubbish-dump? Because I can. And because you want to know what I think.
Fag-hags. Although you can, and many do, disagree with Miss Julie's opinions from week to week, it's rare indeed to conclude that her premise is one hundred and eighty degrees wrong. Quite startlingly so, as we shall see.
My first fag-hag (although the term wasn't used then) I met in 1965. The Countess, she was called, (quelle surprise!) and she drank in The Boltons in Earls Court. I was nineteen or so, and quite smitten by a dark-haired, green-eyed Irishman of about my own age. One evening he invited me along for an after-pub drink at the Countess's flat, and - for no reason other than the most pressing one - I obediently trotted along.
For the next half-hour the doorbell rang and rang until there were about six young queenlings gathered, the Countess giving everyone cups of tea and Nice biscuits. I, the simple lad from a pit village, was astounded. Until then I'd thought of homosexuality as something quite shocking, and only to be done in the greatest of secret. That was the point, surely, and the law was there to jail you if you got caught. Yet here was a social gathering of young gays, for a reason I didn't at all understand, and a woman of all things.
It will be difficult for many of you in today's social climates to appreciate the impact of that evening.
"Why does she do this?" I asked of my Emerald beau, discreetly. "She just likes queers," he replied. (Gay hadn't caught on then either. You were queer, or you were normal.) "Her husband was killed in the war."
Fag-hag. The Countess most certainly was one. And I've met many more over the years - women who seek out and enjoy the company of gay men. Great for dinner parties - always got a merry quip or two. Every one a mini-Norton in his own little way. Me, a simple lad from a pit village - I once did it with the best of them. But now I don't. Jesters get paid. Chicken in white wine sauce isn't enough.
So these dinner-party-giving women innocently lap it up. And that is where Miss Burchill makes her key mistake.
"Fag hags! Why do they do it? What sort of broad has such a sad, sex-free, insecure existence that every man who crosses her field of vision has to be some sort of sexual possibility?"
Wrong. False. Not so, Julie. The fag-hags I've met are women who want no sex at all. Unable to handle the sexuality of straight men with any comfort, they turn to gays for male company with no come-ons whatever. In a sense they're the schoolgirl boyband-lover who never took that heterosexual step to sweat, hair and sticky, sticky semen.
Sanitised. Sindy and Paul. And why not?
Miss Burchill reveals much more, however. (Or at least pretends to.) When she writes...
"...the other day I realised that, boyfriend aside, every man I spend any amount of time with is in fact gay."
...she surely is screaming to the world her very own fag-haggery. Paradoxical Julie.
This is a confusing start to my Saturday. (Oh, but do clock the Irish reference in her piece - spot on with that one!) What a broad!
STOP PRESS! MORE JULIANA!! Love her or loathe her, you jest cain't ignore her! (Note the pages of comments in the box below.) Charlie's opinion merits elevating to the front page...
"For the absolutely desperate rubbish Julie Burchill has turned out this week to earn her crust from The Guardian, (who really shouldn't stoop to publish such concocted drivel), a better expression would be something like "fag shagger". (Extract from: Encylopaedia Charlieannica.)
Well, all this Burchillania has put us at number seven on Daypop Search. Talk about stalking.
And while browsing around there, I stumbled on this little page which gathers quotes from JB and Tony Parsons about each other. Warning: these are not the stuff of great literature!
So there we were sitting outside The Last Drop, in the Grassmarket. Chairs and tables. Just like in the olden days really, when there were executions (hangings - last drop... geddit?) to watch while you drank. But today there was nothing but tourists, tourists everywhere. Take the family at the next table to us. Mum, Dad, teen daughter, and two younger boys, the more restless of whom was called Darren. They were from England, that green and pleasant land due south of these pairts.
Oh - and who were we? Well, that would be Stuart, Gwen and oneself. Our pints of lager were still pretty full when young Darren decided to crash his chair into our table. Oops! Pints rocking everywhere - but grabbed in the nick of time. I'm sure you know it. "Well captured!" said Darren's dad, sporting a bush hat against the tepid northern sun. "Scots have that knack!" I informed him. "Bah gum, so di thi English!" dad riposted."Ah one tarm seen ah pal ah marn drop t'warn bottle and catch thi bugger b'fore it hit t'grarnd." "Well done!" Gwen agreed, and we laughed.
Then Paul Preston Mills came past, giving out leaflets for Muse, a new play by Eve Stebbing, and about to be performed by him. The world and his wife were handing out flyers for their shows. "There in't wrong business!" Darren's dad went on. "Stead o' tryin to be bloody actors - there should be mekkin leaflets fer a livin!"
Mr Mills was very friendly, quite ignoring Gwen and Stuart, and rather focussing his attentions on moi. This often puts Stuart in a bad mood. "How on earth does he know I'm a famous webwriter?" I pondered, those nagging self-doubts bubbling under again.
Then Darren's chair couped (toppled) completely and this time he practically fell into our half-empty glasses. Again we grabbed them, getting quite good at it now. Again we laughed, but dad moved Darren away from us then, and sat himself in that position. "Don't you topple, now!" I teased him, thinking back to my younger days.
Three women trolled by, singing and handing out leaflets for their show. Stone Crabs - a domestic story of violence, vitriol and victory. One was dressed as a bride, one carried a big placard, and one - a bridesmaid - seemed to be neglecting her crowd duties, preferring to chat on her mobile. Some young English guys outside the next pub started singing back to the dusky bride. "Unchained Melody," they sang, but I think it was probably the G*areth G*ates version.
We strolled down to the Ross Bandstand in Princes Street Gardens. Free concerts. There was a rock band on - didn't catch the name. Above their heads hung a giant screen, so you could - if you wished - ignore the live element completely and pretend it was Top of the Pops. As soon as they'd finished, right enough, a bunch of ads started appearing on the screen. Real life Jim, as nowadays we know it. "Quick! We've gotta go!" I said to Gwen. "You know how allergic I am to adverts.!"
(Long-term readers of NB will know this to be true. I have a policy of never, ever buying anything I see advertised. And I'm sure this worries them not one tiny bit. But if everybody were to do that.... hehe. They'd be done for in a month. Give it a try, but don't say you saw it here. Cement suit was never my style. There's zillions of dollars, right under your control, if only you realised your power.)
The bridal show came past us again, mobile conversation apparently finished, and its place taken by a tambourine. "Have you not got a man yet!?!" I teased the bride. "I get married every night at six thirty!" she declared, before launching into song again.
We've written before about Paul Merton's programme, Room 101. The show was brilliant once with Stephen Fry, but last night, with comedian Johnny Vegas, it was incandescent. Mr Vegas' topic was chat-rooms. We too have written about chat-rooms, in pieces such as Internet Relay Splat, but this man cast us all into the blackest of shade. The moment he'd finished I scribbled down the highlights to bring to you here, but now I'm not so sure. You really had to be there. Suffice to say that Mr Merton said less in that half hour than I've ever seen, realizing the enormity of the talent before him. Catch it on the repeat. Kill, if necessary. Waxing hyperbolic.
OUT AND ABOUT IN JAPAN
Yesterday was Hiroshima day, the anniversary of you know what. The Guardian gave over almost the entire G2 supplement to this event, some of which you would wipe your bottom on in an emergency. But not the piece by Jon Ronson, on how to build your own atomic bomb.
Mr Ronson is, and always has been, one of the principal influences on my writing, and I always scour his work looking for bits I could have done myself. (Not to put to fine a point on it.) And bits I couldn't - and learning from such. There was a marvellous confluence here...
"I log on to Ask Jeeves and type, 'Where can I buy some uranium?' Jeeves responds, 'You can find anything at eBay. eBay has everything you're looking for. Find it all at eBay.'
So I type uranium into the eBay search box, and discover that by happy chance - I guess - there will be a uranium auction in exactly two hours and 46 minutes."
FROM MY COMMENT BOXES
Mick Statham has a beautiful site and daily blog. Be sure to check out his "About me" section while you're there. Mick deserves a lot more readers than he's currently getting. Talent. One of us - but not in that way. Global, remember?
FROM MY TEMPLATE
Many thanks to Martijn ten Napel, Holland's leading blogger, for the sterling work he's done in the last couple of days rationalising my HTML. Although what you see remains my own design, the scaffolding on which it stands has been modernised and reinforced.
Still to do: move that sidebar to the right, for greater accessibility.
Well, the Festival, Fringe and other jollifications are in full swing now, here in Edinburgh. For about a month it's the city to be (seen) in. Rizla have even brought out a tartan-packaged version especially for those of you who roll your own.
Yet, for the citizens of Edinburgh and Leith, the Festival means little or nothing. Oh, they might go to the Tattoo. (Best she's ever seen, this year, said Agnes from the bingo.) They might go to the occasional Sixties revival show. (Loved seeing Gerry and the Pacemakers, said Dot - even though these days it's a different kind of Pacemaker.) And they'll almost certainly enjoy the copious quantities of fireworks which are set off. Just like Baghdad at times, especially the green ones.
But no opera. No symphonic concerts. No experimental (aka crap) drama from hyper-hormonal English university students. They've seen it on the telly. They ken better than to waste their money.
Yet who (substantially) pays for this extravaganza? You guessed it!! It's the rich wot gets the pleasure....
PETER'S FABULOUS BOOKMARK AND KEEP FESTIVAL GUIDE!!
There are many festivals taking place in August...
City Centre pubs are packed, and you can do much celeb-spotting. Grade your reaction from ignoring, through staring, up to poking them on the arm. Remember, if you've seen them on TV, then you've paid some of their wages. No-one made them go on the telly.
That's it folks! And it all ends up in a huge orchestral fireworks display with the Castle as backdrop. The biggest bang in the land.
My advice: Don't visit Edinburgh in August, unless you want to be stressed out of your box, and ripped off everywhere you go. If you take one look and scream, then you can go elsewhere in Scotland starting here.
Apologies to all for our four hours down-time this afternoon. This was due to a combination of me tinkering with my font faces, and being totally misled by a useless f*cking HTML book which showed the cascade without spaces...
I agree it defies logic, but that is definitely the way the book had it printed. I said it all in yesterday's post. These books are published purely to make money, and they have no factual or educational purpose whatsoever. You've got to put in the spaces, apparently. I could have told them that.
Couple that with Blogger going on the blink before I could fix things, and I was stuck with a useless damn site for you.
Gruesome. Apologies. And many thanks once again, especially to Gary and Martijn. Much food for thought. To pull down my menus, or not to pull down? That is the question. Or is it? Maybe the real question is why a coffin-dodger like myself, wanting nothing more from life than a bus-pass and being put into a home, should torture himself like this on a daily basis.
Karma. I must have been very bad indeed in an earlier life. Normal blogging will resume when I become a little more stable. No cigarettes today either, you see. So my lips and gums have all swollen up.
Oh, and sorry no tagboard. It seems to be wrecking the page also. Great day to have entered the Guardian competition, doncha think?!
Only you know where you came from, blogwise. Your blogspirations. Why not list them out (as many as you want), at BlogTree, and let the application build your blog-family for you. It'll tell you your brothers, sisters, and maybe even children of your own, if you've passed blog-puberty.
Breaks the ice at blog-parties! Not half!! It's fun, it's free - but me, I've got no damn family at all. Look!!
Por qua? Because I'm an orphan. Or - strictly speaking, an immaculate conception. Naked Blog was the first one I ever saw - for really quite some time. Every single blog on that sidebar came along well after we'd been scribbling to you here.
"But you must have seen Blogger.com somewhere!" I hear you commenting, and yes, you're right - I saw it in a newspaper article. The Guardian - print champion of all things bloggie.
Family Planning Clinic Update: It now appears I've acquired a couple of sprogs! Thanks kids! D*addy loves you.
SIDE BAR BLUES
My sidebar is getting out of hand. So many archives. So many friends, including Cherry the black part-Labrador. A form is called for - a menu box for the archives. Pull-down, select, click and go.
So I nips along to Sasha, knowing she's got such a drop-down, and I steals all her code. Easy-peasy. In 10 mins I've got my archives lovingly boxed. Except - when you click on them, nowt happens.
So pretty. So useless. Bit like young Mr G*ates.
So then I dives into not one but two HTML/CSS books I now own, and what do they tell me? Sweet F A. Oh - there's loads about forms. More forms than the Inland Revenue. But is there an example of this popular feature? Is there my sweet aunt.
Leading to today's instant wisdom...
HTML and CSS books are produced by people who cannot write and cannot teach. In this way they ensure that not only do you keep buying HTML and CSS books, but that they themselves retain ownership of the knowledge.
If anyone knows how to "animate" a pulldown so that it actively links, please let this sad and confused old man know.
The climate has gone mad. In the olden days, water was underneath, and air was on top. Now the air is full of water as well. Gets everywhere. Good for the complexion, they say.
The last decent summer I can remember was 95, or 96 was it? The summer of Pulp Fiction, and Dusty being number one again. I was so out of it in those days I can recall little more than endless sunshine, DX-50's and DOOM. Burrit was fucking great, man. (I'm lying! I can recall loads! But you don't get that fer nowt! Hehe. I've got my retirement to think about...)
It's just occurred to me that some of you would still have been at school then. Awesome. Welcome to the zany world of grown-ups.
DOES DOROTHY KNOW MY HUSBAND?
Many anxious wives have written after yesterday's little post. Their main concern being not that their husbands could be "seeing" other men, but rather that they might start trying on their (wife's) clothes, and stretch them to buggery. I can assure you darlings, that this is unlikely to happen. Most gay men, when they dress up, do it to look like men. Your boob-tubes and sling-backs are safe. Much more worrying would be a sudden interest in True Action War Comics. Or Wrestling mags. You decide.
However, to set your minds (hopefully) at rest over the whole infihomodelity issue, I'm currently compiling a list of Ten ways to spot if your husband's seeing another man. Should be out soon. Your own suggestions would as always help.
Hiatus for Josh, who looks in to the transient, ephemeral tagboard to say adios after his HTML test at college. It's funny. In my day when you finished a test early, you had to sit and read a book till the end. Now you can "chat" live to an old queen 9000 miles away. Isn't progress fantastic?!
Those of you who follow the various characters will be aware that J. is settling down with a nice girl. Blessings in abundance. But what is the meaning of those moving letters in the hiatus page? Looks a bit suggestive, if you ask me. But then - you didn't :)
Hurry back, anyway. Being in love is OK, so long as it doesn't stop you from blogging. (I have a feeling I already wrote that one - about a week ago. Isn't dementia the biz!)
Yesterday the sun came out - an increasingly rare phenomenon here. So I trotted up town dutifully to bask in the instant pre-Festival ambience. It was very fine... bands playing, performers doing wee previews, others lounging around on steps wearing t-shirts advertising their show... plus anxious orientals photographing and videoing everything that moved.
I always feel sorry for those folk - the camera people. Holidays must be such hard work. Seriously. Me - I trust my pictures to the old brain cells. Granted there's whole holidays I can only recall about 30 seconds of - but maybe that's all they deserve.
"But you're the same!" I hear you accusing. "You can't do a solitary damn thing without writing about it here. Bores us all to tears."
But, but, my chickadees - that is different. I love writing about things I've done. And seen, and heard. Here Burningbird and I differ quite totally, when she says, "I need to walk among forest paths with thoughts other than "I must remember to post this".
Me, I want to walk the forest path. And then - if it's within my range - I want you to walk it with me.
Photography mars the now. Writing is kept for later.
So just to get in the Festival mood uptown, I bought a book on HTML and CSS. Why oh why do I keep doing that? It would be so much simpler to admit defeat, and accept that I have no brain cells of that type left any more. That it now takes me a year to pick up something I could once have done in 15 seconds. That even if I became the best webpage maker in the discovered universe, I still couldn't get a job at it due to anno domini. Washed up. Finished before I even start. Over the hill before I'm even on it.
Yet something keeps me going. Tells me I cannot let webpages kick my butt - even though I could have studied the entire works of Russell, Wittgenstein and Kirkegaard in this time. Who needs dead philosophers, anyway? And how many hits did they ever get??
Thanks for all your comments about alan's new designs (post below). The NB directors will make their final decision at a full board meeting on Monday.
And also concerning my well-being. It got a bit shaky for a day or two, but going back to work today will put the finishing touches to the recovery. It's my old ladies, you see. Getting on with it. For, when you think about it, that's all there is to do. Get on with it.
As a species, we're not nearly so clever as we sometimes like to think :)