Monday, November 30, 2009

America's Next Top Model cult science fiction occasional character lookalike

Cathy is a fairly keen follower of America's Next Top Model (on right now as I blog this on Living TV).

One of the judges on ANTM is J. Alexander, otherwise known as Miss Jay. He's very amusing and, er, flamboyant, I guess. (Old school types will probably mutter that he's more camp than a row of tents...)

Anyway, this series he has a fairly daft-looking 'bowl cut', which looks like this:

The official pic doesn't really do it justice. But in the show, when he's moving around, he really reminds me of someone... who could it be... oh yeah!

Dwayne Dibbley!

(If you don't believe me, watch ANTM followed by a classic Dibbley episode of Red Dwarf and tell me that's not the same haircut.)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Borders Bookshops have gone into administration, and that makes me sad

Went into town today, mainly to buy a new phone (more on that later), and popped into Borders, having heard they are in serious financial trouble. As I walked in there was evidence everywhere I looked that all was not well.

To the right: completely empty magazine racks. No credit means no new mags.
Straight ahead: Yellow 20% off signs plastered everywhere.
To the left: "Closing down - everything must go" posters indiscreetly stacked up next to the entrace in readiness for the fire sale*.

I like Borders. I like the ambience. I like the fact you can sit and read comic books and no one hassles you (although I can see that my selfish comic book reading won't have helped their profit margins at all). They often have books I don't see anywhere else. They have a Starbucks inside the shop. It was the first home for our Book Group. For geeky bibliophiles, there is always something else to make you go 'ooh'.

Although they shouldn't have tried to sell DVDs. They were very expensive. Maybe they should have only stocked literary ones - book adaptations for example. But even then, DVDs are not money-spinners. They are so cheap now in supermarkets I think the day is coming when they won't be available on the high street at all. So, that was perhaps one mistake they made.

One sad thing is that I have already started talking about Borders in the past tense. (I went back and changed 'was' to 'is' in the last paragraph but one.) I have a nagging fear that they are going to be this year's big name to disappear. A victim of the credit crunch. A mundane tragedy, but tragic none the less. In some ways my visit today was a preliminary requiem.

*They looked exactly like the ones that appeared in Woolworths last year as that shopping chain tanked. Somewhere a signwriter is rubbing his hands with glee.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

7 things that really probably do not exist

The Mongolian Death Worm
The Golden Plates that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon from (sorry, Mormons, I like you, but you have to admit, the provenance is ropey and the claim that the plates had to be returned to a celestial librarian seems a little "convenient")
Glittery vampires
The Force (ooh, controversial)
Altruistic cats
Aliens in flying saucers probing people

What would you add? (Or what of these does exist?)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

If you are thinking of picking a new religion

...then use this handy flowchart.

2 quibbles.
1) Jedi is not an option.
2) Why can't Jews like hummus?

I need to say how much I LOVE the alternative to 'atheism' and the question that gets you there.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Midnight Oil cover charity single - free to download at Amazon

Hey up. I've been a longtime fan of Midnight Oil, so it's cool their classic Beds are Burning is being covered by various people to raise money to comabt climate change.

And you can download it for free at Amazon (for a limited time). There are other tracks too. Phantom Limb are a bit funky and worth a free listen to. The Amazon downloader takes a second or so to install and then feeds the tracks directly into your iTunes or Windows Media Player depending what you got.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"Seriously? I survived leaukemia for this?"

Yeah, this is turning into a blog about X Factor.

Last weekend's show featured the most toe-curlingly vomit-inducing charity single premiere I have ever had the misfortune to watch. First off it was a cover of Michael Jackson's painful attempt at an anthem for caring, 'You are not alone', which I have hated from day 1. Then it was sung by X Factor contestants, who each took a line each.

Given that it was obviously recorded a few weeks ago (else those were seriously fast costume changes for one song, then back into the outfits they'd been in all evening), it was interesting to see who only had a couple of lines, and who got to sing the stirring reprises towards the end. Obviously the key players were in the limelight, like, er, that bloke with the afro who got voted off last week. Oops.

Now it's for a good cause: Great Ormond Street Hospital. And to make sure we knrew it was for a good cause we had to watch a video featuring a little boy who had Survived Leaukemia despite the fact that his parents had been Told That He Would Die. He was very happy to be alive thanks to Gweat Ormond Stweet, as he told us in his charming lithping little boy voice.

But then, after championing the cause, the poor mite had to sit through the performance of the charity single and looked singularly nonplussed throughout. I can't blame him. Frankly, it left me hoping that a life-threatening disease would curtail my life expectancy to 'just before Christmas' so I don't have to hear that ear-offending drivellous pap played again.

But knowing my luck, that won't happen.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

At least I'm consistent in admitting that I'm inconsistent

So after my rant about the rubbish prioritising of X Factor by some people who should know better, I have to admit tonight's results show was farcical in its unfairness.

(In case you don't know, Lucie Jones got sent home after a "sing off" with Jedward. I say "sing off" but only one act actually sang.)

But rather than getting steamed up, this does kind of prove my point from yesterday. The X Factor is a manipulative distraction. And Simon Cowell knows what he's doing. Given the opportunity to get rid of one of the girls (who probably posed a more serious threat to 'his' acts) and Jedward he opted to put it to the public. Of course he wants Jedward to stay in. The column inches alone are worth thousands of pounds in free advertising for one of the biggest egomaniacs on the planet. All he has to do is slag them off and he's guaranteed to get his mug in the papers.

And if we, as the public, didn't care enough to read that tosh and discuss it in detail over lunch, and be scandalised by manufactured press-industry scandal, then the competition would be a singing competition, not a soap opera.

So, ultimately we're to blame. And we should all be feeling guilty about Lucie leaving because we've created the monster that is Jedward, and Simon Cowell isn't going to slay the beast while it's making money for him.

I say 'we'. I mean 'you'.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Sorry, no, all it shows is that your life is mediocre

I've been a bit surprised by just how seriously people have been taking X Factor this year. I know it's a popular show and all, but I think this year is the first time I've really noticed it because for the first time we've had someone in the house who is obsessed by it.

The front pages of the papers today included a story about a spat between Simon Cowell and a contestant, a hissy fit by Dannii Minogue, and more stuff about those annoying twins.

Apparently lots of people think this kind of reportage is necessary. Our incumbent lodger has decided she's not going to watch the show with certain other of our friends because, and I quote, "they don't treat it with the respect it's due."

Well, no, neither do I. Mainly because it's a bit hard to wipe your arse on the telly.

And then there's the Xtra Factor, possibly the nadir of ramschackle poorly-thought out moronicity designed to keep the gibbering proles happy in their mundane little lives. I had to sit in the same room while that show was on and could feel it sucking the intelligence out of me. I had to leave. Any longer and I would become the kind of meusli-brained human beanbag who thinks this kind of drivel in any way constitutes culture.

I don't mind seeing people sing. I think dragging out the show to two hours is a bit much, but I could just about put up with that. The thing that's really turning me off, though, is, I'm sorry to say, the fans.

It's just not that important, sorry. I enjoy it as entertaining fluff. But to get passionate about it is just daft. The world is full of injustices that should make you so angry you get off your arse and raise hell until something is done.

The mystery of who is voting for Jedward just isn't worth the ranting.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Word of the week: Slactivism

I was at a brilliant conference last Monday run for charity and third sector communications peeps (like me).

One of the seminars I was in talked about 'Slactivism'. This is activism that doesn't take a lot of work on the behalf of the participant. The example he cited was people turning their Twitter avatars green during the kerfuffle over the Iranian election to show their support for the opposition party.

It was an easy thing to do and so people did it. I think Superbadger works much the same way. Just 'sign' the email and press send. Piece of cake.

I wanna see more charities do this. I'm busy and I want to support you, so don't make it hard for me to do so.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Radio killed the theology star

Well, not quite, but I have been doing a bit of radio lately. Back in August UCB aksed me to comment as my alter ego, Jon the freelance theologian, on materialism.

Then on the back of the press release about the Robbie Williams article, I was invited back on UCB, did an interview for Trans World Radio, and was booked to do a live recording on Premier. And this week, UCB got in touch again and asked me to talk about the roots of Hallowe'en, mainly because I'd sent them a press release about my freelance theology article about ghosts.

The Premier interview is due to take place on Tuesday (3 Nov) provided there are no major disasters. I will be live from about 3.20pm. You can listen online if you're at a computer, or may be able to get it on DAB Digital Radio.

Have a listen and let me know what you think!