Rubbish, piffle, tommyrot, drivel and utter bilge

Friday, February 25, 2011

Viva Madge

So last time I asked: What is Madonna's one and only acting award? And no, it wasn't for her amazing portrayal of Breathless Mahoney in Dick Tracy.  Nor does it have anything to do with Shanghai Surprise.

My name is Antonio. My hair is all tousled and my chest is exposed. I am sexy. You want me.
Our Madge won a Golden Globe, no less, for her role as Eva Peron in the musical Evita,  in which she starred alongside Antonio Banderas. Fun factoid: Banderas was actually considered for the role of the Phantom in The Phantom Of The Opera and spent several years in vocal preparation.

So, next question. Following on the theme of musicals, which movie contains the line: "Led Zeppelin didn't write songs everyone liked.  They left that to the Bee Gees."?

I am Robert Plant. I have very tight jeans and a naked chest. I am very sexy. You want me.

We've just come from the dentist.

We Are The Goon Squad

I recently had occasion to bemoan the fashion habits of today's yoof, particularly in reference to the stupid woolly hat wearers, who join the ranks of the jeans-hanging -halfway -down-the-arse people and the hair-combed-in-every-direction-but-the-natural-one as top of the heap in dumb fashion trends. But there is one trend here in the UK that our American cousins probably know nothing about, and that is the curse of leggings and their scarier progeny, jeggings.

What the blinky o'stinky are jeggings,  I hear from across the water. Sounds like something you'd buy at a hardware store.

Well, before I can explain that, I have to first go over what leggings are. They're kinda like footless tights, only thicker. A marriage of trousers and stockings, usually worn by scarily over-made-up teenage girls and coupled with giant oversized cardigans and/or miniskirts/skorts/shorts, and a blank expression that says, "I spent hours getting myself looking this way, so what the hell are you lookin' at?"

I suppose the idea is to make it look as if you are wearing pants that are sprayed on. Not an attractive look on about 90% of the female population.

So we all know what leggings are, right? So what are jeggings? they're leggings.... that look like jeans. I kid you not.

Glamour jeggings. Ay caramba!
Holy hell.

Someone just needs to tap Rihanna on the shoulder and tell her. Wrong. What you did there was just plain wrong.
Trouble, is, it's the 90% of young women that this style of clothing was not designed for that are the ones that go for it. Kinda like all the Hispanic women in the Wal-Mart that wear clothes three times too small for their little fat bodies to cope with. Ay ay ay.

Next time on Jeff's House O' Sartorial Elegance... the advantages of hair loss and tie-wearing. You don't need a flashlight, and look where they point!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Being Boyled

I assume before I even start this post that everyone in the Western World knows who Susan Boyle is, right? (What? You don't? OK, here goes - Susan Magdalane Boyle (born 1 April 1961) is a Scottish Grammy Award-nominated mezzo-soprano who came to international public attention when she appeared as a contestant on reality TV programme Britain's Got Talent on 11 April 2009, singing "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Misérables. Her first album was released in November 2009 and debuted as the number one best-selling CD on charts around the globe.
Global interest in Boyle was triggered by the contrast between her powerful voice and her plain appearance on stage. The juxtaposition of the audience's first impression of her, with the standing ovation she received during and after her performance, led to an international media and internet response. Within nine days of the audition, videos of Boyle—from the show, various interviews and her 1999 rendition of "Cry Me a River" – had been watched over 100 million times. Her audition video has been viewed on the internet several hundred million times. Despite the sustained media interest she later finished in second place in the final of the show behind dance troupe Diversity.
Boyle's first album, I Dreamed a Dream, was released on 23 November 2009 and became Amazon's best-selling album in pre-sales. According to Billboard, "The arrival of I Dreamed a Dream ... marks the best opening week for a female artist's debut album since SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991." In only six weeks of sales, it became the biggest selling album in the world for 2009, selling 9 million copies.In September 2010, Boyle was officially recognised by Guinness World Records as having had the fastest selling debut album by a female artist in the UK, the most successful first week sales of a debut album in the UK, and was also awarded the record for being the oldest person to reach number one with a debut album in the UK. Phew! Thanks, Wikipedia. Couldn't have done it without you!)

I'll start again. Everyone knows who Susan Boyle is, right? OK, good.

Y'know how you can read something or hear about something, ingest it, understand it, then totally forget it until something else acts as a trigger? That happened to me today.

I was at work, waiting for customers to arrive at my little shop, looking out the door across the street where lies our local branch of W.H. Smith (Or is it WHSmith? the sign on the front doesn't seem to contain any spaces or punctuation), anyway the point is, I was looking at their window display. It has a large ad for Susan Boyle's book The Woman I Was Born To Be  and I suddenly remembered that I read a day or two ago that a movie is currently being cast that will depict the singer's life story, from her poverty-stricken days when she was just living along with her cat to her phenomenal global success. OK, fine. Make a movie about her, but just don't expect me to watch it.

Little side note here... Hollywood, just once will you come up with a different name for this type of film than "biopic"? And surely someone like Boyle hasn't yet attained the status that I, for one, would deem sufficient to entail making a 'biopic' about? Surely you have to have been famous for a long time, and usually dead, to achieve this? Ray Charles and Johnny Cash spring to mind, as does Paganini. (Come on, keep up, people. The Magic Bow? Stewart Granger?) Anyway every time I read the word 'biopic' I keep thinking it's an eye complaint. "Sir, I hate to be the one to have to tell you, but you're biopic."

But the fact that they are making a movie about SuBo is not the weirdest tit bit in this little tale. Apparently the person who has signed on to play the frumpy Scottish warbler is esteemed actress Glenn Close.  Yes! She of the bunny-boiling and the Cruella De Vil and the Vice President in Air Force One!  And the SNL Orgasm Guy skit with Rob Schneider and Kev-on Neal-on! (Look it up.) That Glenn Close!

Not a Scottish actress. Not someone even remotely from the UK. I love Glenn Close, but SuBo? Really?

The next question to pop into my warped little head was this....? Who are they gonna cast as Simon Cowell? Who can convey that arrogant smarmy obsequious bastard-ness that we have all grown to know and love on Idol and such? I started thinking about all the other possibilities. So here, then, is my list of possible actors to complete the cast of The SuBo Story or whatever it will be called (I'll lay you even odds it'll be called I Dreamed A Dream).

Bear in mind that the judges on Series 3 of BGT were Simon, Amanda Holden and Piers Morgan.


either Frankie Boyle

or Ricky Gervais

or Jon Culshaw.

Hmmm, Botox much?

either Dawn French

or Catherine Tate

or Miranda Hart.

 Any of those ought to be a vast improvement.


 I'd go with Stephen Fry

or Hugh Laurie

or Mark Williams.

and the hosts, ANT & DEC....

 I'd have to pick Noel Fielding

Bill Bailey

Omid Djalili

and Eddie Izzard

to play them all at once.

I think that would be a brilliant film. And my pick to play SuBo, should Ms. Close bow out of the whole debacle?

Why, Clarissa Theresa Philomena Aileen Mary Josephine Agnes Elsie Trilby Louise Esmerelda "They don't call me Krakatoa for nothing" Dickson Wright, of course!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


It's funny the things that occur to you on a slow Tuesday in the shop. Random thoughts about Sheila E., cheek-biting and misheard cheesy '70s lyrics.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Fogeydom Beckons

I often despair of young people. The (ahem) 'music' they are fond of
assailing us old'uns ears with, mainly. Usually accompanied by the
rallying cry of CHOOOONE!! Which is apparently the correct way to
show appreciation. But I also find their fashion sense a little odd.
Okay, I admit I'm not really the one to talk, having no actual 'dress
sense', at least not in the traditional way. I also freely fess up to
the fact that I thought the 80s were a great time for fashion. But
these woolly hats...
I've never been keen on woolly hats, tending to think of them in
a purely functional sense. Head warming properties only. It seems now
that it is appropriate to wear them in all weathers. But the woolly
hats that are long and hang down in the back like a droopy elf hat
without the bobbly bit on the end...
Sometimes the street looks like a garden gnomes' convention. I keep
wanting to ask them where their fishing rods are.
Oy. Kids today....

Friday, February 18, 2011

Drivin' N' Cryin'

I think I've mentioned a few times before what my opinions are on driving and cars. I have never much liked either. I mean, OK, I can appreciate a fine vehicle, a classic car, a great piece of engineering, a true example of high quality workmanship. I can get romantically nostalgic when I see an original Mini or an Austin Healey Sprite, or even a Morris Minor convertible, with visions of the open road, summer holidays, picnics and such like. But the reality is that cars and driving are seldom, if ever, like that. They are an expensive yet somehow necessary evil. The way society is designed these days means that a person more or less needs a car right off the bat. Having a car gives you flexibility, options. It means you can travel further afield which widens the scope of your job possibilities. Never mind the fact that cars pollute the atmosphere, need constant upkeep and fuel, and have turned us all into lazy fat bastards that never exercise.

I HATE CARS. More to the point, I hate driving. If I could design a perfect car, it would be one that runs on landfill waste and emits nothing but real ale, drives itself and never crashes, but just to be on the safe side is made of rubber, too.

So here I find myself on the horns of a dilemma. Because as I think you can probably tell, if I could go the rest of my life without having to get behind the wheel, I would. But the reality is that since nobody else in my house drives, I am pretty much going to have to. It'd be nice to be able to drive somewhere from time to time without having to look at bus schedules or to cadge a lift off someone. So I am resigned to it.

I drove in the States, of course, but that didn't mean I enjoyed it. I probably would have enjoyed it if it hadn't been for all those factors I mentioned above, plus the other added annoyances like other road users, and the cops, who seemed to swarm onto previously empty roads as soon as I pulled out. Talk about feeling paranoid.

My American licence expired a short while before I moved here to the UK. If it had still been current, I probably would have been able to get a British licence without having to do very much. However, I am going to have to take the entire test... theory and all. Gah.

So it was that I found myself behind the wheel of a driving instructor's Peugeot the other night, remembering just what it was that really pissed me off about driving.

Manual transmission.

I learned on a stick. I know how to change gears, but I would just as soon not do it, thank you. I drove automatics for the last ten or eleven years, and got used to it, and quite frankly, I don't even know why car manufacturers decided to keep making manuals as soon as they invented an automatic. What exactly is so appealing about having to move your left foot up and down on a pedal and wiggle a metal stick with a knob on the end of it, might I ask?

It seems there are a large proportion of people (guys, mostly, but some women too) that are fiercely pro-manual, anti-auto. I had a woman say to me the other day that she preferred her manual tranny car for going round little back roads. I am sorry, but I've driven automatic transmissions on several cars, ranging from a Corolla to a RAV4 to a fucking great bastard Suburban and a Chrysler minivan and I've driven them on all kinds of terrain, from freeways and back roads to four-lane highways and dirt tracks, in all kinds of traffic, from stop-and-go traffic to bombing along the freeway, and never once thought to myself, "Man... I sure wish I was changing gear right now." Surely the whole idea behind a car that changes gear automatically is so the driver does not have to? Or am I way off base here? Surely having the ability to keep both hands on the wheel at all times makes the car safer?

While driving the other night, I found that while changing gear is something that I fell right back into, I was told by the instructor that I used the clutch too much, that I should only step on it when I absolutely needed to, and not to coast, because apparently the UK's Driving Standards Authority, the guys that do the testing, say that when you've got the foot on the clutch, that means the car is not in control. Even if you have both hands on the wheel, even if you are braking, if your foot is on the clutch, you are out of control. So I said "That's why I like automatics!"

All I really want to do is to be able to drive safely on the road, but I have no intention of driving a manual car after I pass my test. I'd far rather drive around for a few hours in an automatic just to get the feel of driving on the wrong side of the road than relearn driving a manual tranny. Apparently if I took my test in an automatic and passed, that would mean I could only ever drive automatics. To that I say - what's the problem? Just put it in Drive and go, buddy, go.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Games Lab Techs Play

It was just the other day that I introduced my girlfriend to the delights of a game that I hadn't played in a while, one that a group of us nerdly types invented while working at LensCrafters a few years back.

In the year 2000, not long after The Mall of Georgia had opened its doors, with a brand new state-of-the-art (right! All the equipment in the lab was refurbished Coburns, the generator was an archaic 113 - oh, there I go being nerdly again) LC in it, I, being an LMIT, a Lab-Manager-In-Training, was sent from my cosy little store in podunk Gainesville to the bright lights and big city of Buford, where the South's biggest Mall was, and still is, located. The idea, of course, was that I was going to be trained further there and eventually run the place. In those early days before a lot of people knew that the mall was actually there we were quite slow from time to time and had a lot of down-time, during which we lab types and frame stylists and opticians would play word games and such with each other in order to keep our brains from turning to mush. Now, of course, if Tim Ladina or Jorge Zarragoitia is reading this - this never happened! We worked constantly! If ya got time to lean, ya got time to clean! etc. (Tim and Jorge were my boss and his boss respectively.)

One of the games we invented was called the music game. Not the snappiest of titles, I grant you, but it described the game perfectly.The way the game was played was this: One person thinks of the name of a band, artist, singist, chanteuse, whatever, and says it. The next person has to think of another artist whose name begins with the last letter of the name of the artist the first person thought of. They then say it, and the game continues. Believe me, you can make this game last a looong time.

When that game got old, we would play the movie game. Again, we weren't good at making up game names, but the ones we came up with did the job. In the movie game, one thinks of a movie and its cast. If you are the sort of person who doesn't remember the names of actors too well, this is not really the game for you.

So, you've thought of a movie, and two or three cast members. You say the actors' names out loud and everyone else has to guess the movie. Once a person has guessed correctly, they then have to think of another movie that that cast member has been in, and say the cast names of that movie, so the sequence continues.
Believe me, I'm a bit of a film buff, and so I can really dredge 'em up. As you might imagine, that was a good way of killing an hour or two. (Not really Tim - we were working hard the whole time! Sweating bullets! Cranking out that high quality eyewear in about an hour!)

So anyway, I recently introduced my girlfriend to these games. I'm not sure she's really into it, but I'm trying. Boy, we sure know how to have fun, don't we?

I love games like these that are invented and kinda personal. Not only are they fun to play but it helps to keep some good memories alive, and by sharing the game with others it helps to tell a story or two. At my time of life (mid-40's) nostalgia is becoming more and more of a daily issue. I'm sure my peers all understand where I'm coming from on this - well, most of them anyway.

Who's up for a game?

Musical Puzzler Again

OK, I can see we are going to have to make these puzzlers a little easier if they are to be solved by anyone at all. I am thinking maybe I'll broaden the scope of the questions, or make them open-ended teasers with multiple possible answers. In the meantime, here's the answer to the previous brain-tugger:

I asked: Who, when accepting their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame, refused to perform their songs on the grounds that Iggy and The Stooges had not yet been inducted into the Hall O' Fame? Not only that, but they got said Stooges (well, the surviving members anyway), to play instead?

The answer: Madonna. Say what you like about Madge, but this is probably the coolest thing she's ever done. Anyone who is as big a fan of Sir Ig and his Stooge-friends as she clearly is can do no wrong.

Yes, at the Hall Of Fame induction ceremony in 2009, Ms. Ciccone insisted that The Stooges play in her stead, since they had not yet been given the honour of being in the Hall. So what did they play? They played Burning Up and Ray of Light. As Iggy left the stage, he reportedly said to the Material Girl, “You make me feel shiny and new, like a virgin, touched for the very first time.”

Okay, this week's question: We all know Madge has been in a few flicks, but what is her one and only award for acting?

Hint: This ain't it.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Jeff's Rant

Hi folks, and welcome to the first edition of Jeff's Rant, a new feature which, uh, features a vlog of epic proportions. This time, my targets include Hairspray and Micky Dolenz.

Hope you like it. Don't care if you don't.

Puzzlement Ahoy

Okay, so I was disappointed that not even my good friend Marissa ventured a guess at the answer. To remind you, I asked what TV show of the 1990's featured Iggy Pop in a recurring role as Michelle Trachtenberg's character's overly protective father? The answer was The Adventures Of Pete And Pete.

Okay, so next question:

Who refused to perform their own songs at The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame when they were inducted, citing the fact that Iggy and the Stooges had not yet been inducted, and choosing them to play instead?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

100 Records That Shook The World, # 50

Led Zeppelin II (LP)

Led Zeppelin

This Jimmy Page-produced LP, the band's second (duh!) was the first of their LPs to get to Number 1 on both sides of the Atlantic. Led Zeppelin II furthered the lyrical themes established on their debut album, creating a work that became more widely acclaimed and influential than its predecessor. With elements of blues and folk music, it also exhibits the band's evolving musical style of blues-derived material and their guitar and riff-based sound. In 1999 the album became certified 12x platinum, with sales in excess of 12 million.

The album was recorded in various studios around the globe while touring. The band would play a concert, spend some time writing in hotels, book a local studio, and spend a couple of hours recording before playing another show. The resulting sound was one of urgency and spontaneity.

Some of the recording studios used by the band were not the most advanced. One studio in Vancouver, credited as "a hut", had an eight-track set up that did not even have proper headphone facilities. The group's lead singer Robert Plant later discussed the writing and recording process, stating "It was crazy really. We were writing the numbers in hotel rooms and then we'd do a rhythm track in London, add the vocal in New York, overdub the harmonica in Vancouver and then come back to finish mixing at New York."


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