Current Obsessions

UK Celebrity Big Brother

Regular readers will know of my weakness for the televisual delights of Brother who is Big. Currently screening on Channel 4 in the UK is series six of Celebrity Big Brother, but those of us who don’t live in the UK can stay up-to-date with it via the medium of YouTube.

The series only runs for a manageable three weeks, so every day I delight in the everyday goings-on of the house filled with such people as LaToya Jackson, Coolio and Mutya From Sugababes.

I can’t quite explain the appeal of it, but I suspect it’s the fact that what happens to the house of celebrities is exactly the same as what happens to the house of wannabes in the regular version of BB: after a few days everyone get tired and emotional and starts yelling at each other, little groups form and there’s always some guy who tries to hook up with all the women. Of course, it’s just that extra bit entertaining when the sleazy guy is the performer of “Gangsta’s Paradise”.

The Twilight Zone

I acquired the season four DVD of the original Twilight Zone series, from 1963, and after watching that, moved on to series one.

I like the science fiction/fantasy stories, and it’s interesting to see the obvious reaction to World War II and the scary new world of technology. But what interested me the most was the style of television back in those days.

The acting is kind of stiff and very formal and almost feels melodramatic, which I believe is what was considered good acting back then. People spoke with very clipped, precise language. The only contemporary thing I can think of comparing it to is the scripts of David Mamet, but without all the swearing.

There’s a very slow pace to the way stories are told. I’m all for establishing character, letting tension build up, but there just seem to be so many unnecessary shots of people doing nothing that advances the plot. I started to make mental edit notes of how I’d cut things down. (This reminds me of the chapter about television in “Everything Bad Is Good For You, about how plots of modern television programmes are much more sophisticated compared to the TV of old).

Smoking is all over the Twilight Zone, in a way that makes the smoking in Mad Men look positively moderate. Even Rod Serling can sometimes be seen holding a fag, with smoking curling around him as he delivers his end monologue.

And the one thing that’s always stood out for me in both film and television from this era is the kissing: pashing is forbidden! As well as the Hays Code for film, it appears that television also couldn’t show open-mouth kissing. So if a couple need to do a passionate kiss, they sort of violently press their lips together, creating many double chins. It’s entirely unsexy and seems more painful than passionate.

mashpash
Walking down the street

As a sort of New Year’s resolution, I’m vowing to walk more. Previously I’d catch a bus down to the train station every morning, but now I’m making the effort and walking.

But it’s not exactly as if it is an effort. I’ve always liked walking. It might have to do with having grown up in a rural area with no footpaths, there was nowhere to walk. I used to dream of living in a place with footpaths that I could blissfully stroll along in sneakers, not trudging along in gumboots.

In fact, even when I’m not walking to work, I rather like just going for a walk around wherever. I don’t want to evoke the F word, but for me there’s a real pleasure in walking around a city. There’s so much detail and history and humanity that can be experienced just by the simple act of walking down the street.

Two for a dollar

The tile guy came and fixed the leak in the roof. There’s still water in the ceiling that is very slowly dripping away. I suppose it will eventually stop. Or the ceiling will fall down.

I had a dream last night about Michael from NZ Idol. I dreamt I was giving him a ride somewhere and some chick who was a friend of mine, claimed to know him and wanted to come along for the ride. It turned out she didn’t know him and I ended up having to introduce her to him. He was really tired and not in a random fan meeting mood, so things were terse and awkward.

I have ADSL now. It was only $15 a month more than dial-up. More specifically, it’s $39.95 a month and I remember as recently as 1999 when flatrate dial-up was $45. Actually, I was working at Xtra when they introduced a flatrate dial-up plan that was $29.95, compared with Ihug’s $45. Those were exciting times. I had to go in at midnight and upload the webpages.

But I digress. My ADSL connect involved a bit of arsing about and having to call three different helpdesks. One was friendly but unhelpful, one was unfriendly and unhelpful (and he sounded pissed off to have to take my call), and finally one was friendly and helpful and now I have high speed interweb. Actually, I’m mainly getting it so my phone line can be freed up. So far no one has phoned me.

I found a card from a courier saying that a package had arrived for a person who doesn’t lived here. I’d previously had calling cards from the Department of Courts (!) saying that they were looking for this person, and now this mysterious courier package. I’ve been living here for almost a year and a half, and my cousin lived here about a year before I moved in, so something weird is going on. Maybe my address has been randomly given out by some fugitive.

Prime TV are showing the fourth series of Australian Big Brother. It’s just as cool as it’s ever been. They’ve all been made to move their stuff outside and sleep on camping beds. Everyone thinks that Igor and Aphrodite are secretly married, and Krystal has just revealed that she used to be a stripper. Her nom de titty was Delta, because obviously Krystal is no name for a stripper.

Two of my favourite things, apparently

a) Reality TV is a crutch for people who can’t handle reality.

Cameron is the winner of UK Big Brother. Hooray! Unlike the Australian BB where one housemate was voted out each week until there were only two housemates left, the UK BB ended with five housemates. Oh, but Cameron is so nice. He deserved to win.

I was watching TV earlier and a teaser came on for “Australian Idol”. OMG yes! They’re doing it just like all the other Idols. Two nice judges, one blunt judge, hilarious auditions, and enthusiastic singers who denote emotion by going “woah-oh-oh”. Actually, I’m just guessing the last item, but I bet it’ll be like that.

b) Shitomart.

Today was the big public opening of the Britomart Transport Centre. I’m not sure exactly what was being opened because it’s not even close to being finished. It’s not like when the [entertainment complex that houses Village Queen Street cinemas] opened and they were still glueing down tiles and putting in a few remaining rows of cinema seats. There’s so much work to still be done at Britomart.

All around is blank concrete areas, sheets of wood covering holes, duct tape holding stuff together. The interior of the old post office has a very nice ceiling, and the stained glass dome looks pretty, but it’s just a big empty space with nothing actually built in it. Tomorrow it’ll probably be closed off again to the public until it’s properly finished.

The event was allegedly a festival. In true crap festival spirit, there was a sausage sizzle and face painting for the kids. Tired looking parents navigated bored looking kids around. But rather than it being an exciting new place for children to explore, parents were having to keep their kids away from all the unfinished areas. But I suppose even that can be an educational experience. “Look at the dusty glass slats, Ella!” “Look Josh, see how they’ve disguised the raw concrete with rented pot plants!”

It was hard to get excited about it because it wasn’t like, “Wow, what a great new transport centre!” It was more like walking around a building site where all the builders had been hurried away. I’m not even going to start to get excited until they bloody well finish the place. Until then I will fondly call it Shitomart.

Reality

The grand finale of Big Brother was a little anti-climactical. I mean, Regina was a massive favourite right from the beginning. She was always the most popular housemate on the weekly online polls. The only thing resembling a shock eviction was yesterday when Daniel was evicted ahead of Chrissie. But Regina won, totally breaking the Australian BB trend where the most boring, nicest male wins.

Someone one asked me why I never write about politics. It’s basically because I don’t particularly care about politics. I don’t even know if I’m left wing or right wing. All I know is I’m not bloody centre and parties like United Future make me feel ill with their caring niceness.

But then I was thinking about the times when I am interested in politics and I realised that it’s when there’s an upcoming election. Then I thought about why politics is interesting then and I realised that it’s the same thrill that a reality show like Big Brother or American Idol gives. You’ve got a bunch of people who are competing for a highly sought after position. They have to win the public over with their skills, talents and basic personality. The public then gets to vote for who they want to win.

Watching the live results coming in on election night is as thrilling as watching the final of Big Brother or American Idol. But because the government of this country sees fit to only hold an election once every three years, my yearning for such televisual thrills is filled with reality shows.

Ssssssssss

TV2 are being very cool and showed the second-to-last “American Idol” episode tonight, only hours after it went out live in America, rather than keeping it until the regular Sunday night time slot. The final is screening tomorrow night, but no doubt I will know the winner in advance thanks to the informative inter-web.

Ruben did a lovely version of “Imagine”. Clay sang ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water,” which I was expecting to really kick arse, but just didn’t do anything for me. But the highlight of the show was when Paul Anka came out and sang a rewritten version of “My Way”, which summarised all the laughter ‘n’ tears ‘n’ shit of the previous weeks.

If there is justice in the world, Ruben will win. But I’m prepared for Clay to be the winner because he seems more popular.

“Big Brother” is getting so much more interesting now that the houses have been joined and there’s a pool and a spa. The housemates are getting drunk and getting in the spa and getting naughty. Yes, very good. More, please.

Keeping up the television theme, I was watching “A Cook’s Journey” and Mr Bourdain was in England visiting some women who were making him some Indian food. At one stage they were cooking some stuff in a pressure cooker, and he had to leave the room because he had this fear of pressure cookers. I was really excited because I too have a fear of pressure cookers. I can not stand being around them. I think it stems from the fact that there’s heat and pressure and if something were to go wrong with the release valve, it would explode and that would be really scary.

I also fear microwave ovens. That also comes down to an fear of exploding, which stems from movies like “Gross Pointe Blank” (some explosives were put in a microwave), and just the whole symbolism of the digital clock counting down to an explosion.

Fourteen

I saw “The Life Of David Gale” with Dylz. We bitched about Village Queen Street’s $14 adult admission price. It wasn’t so long ago (less than a year, surely) that it was $12, then it became $13.

The movie was very nicely filmed, and the acting was good, but the story was shit. It would have made a semi decent murder mystery, but instead it was wrought out into this movie with a message about how wrong the death penalty is. Except it actually makes the anti-death penalty people look like a bunch of insane in the membrane fanatics. The ending was so mundane, so melodramatic I felt ripped off. More than $14 worth of ripped off, too.

Sunday is the day when there are no Big Brother shows on TV in New Zealand. But that doesn’t matter because it’s the same night that the eviction takes place in Australia, so I spent some time flipping between Big Brother web sites before I finally discovered who’d been evicted.

It’s also very exciting because soon the houses will be joined! There’s a joint kitchen at the back of each garden and a joint bathroom between the two bedrooms. It would be cool if real like was like that, if you went to sleep and woke up the next morning to discover a pool in your backyard.

Arse

I tell people that I haven’t seen “Lord of the Rings 2: The Electric Boogieloo” (or whatever the sequel thing is called) and they act all surprised. I didn’t really enjoy the first movie, so it didn’t excite me enough to make me want to see the next one.

Realistically, I’d rather see a good romantic comedy. Pass the pink.

I’m also not going to be seeing “The Matrix 2” at 12.01 am on whatever day it opens. I saw the first one a few too many times. It stopped being a mind-blowing futuristic adventure and was a really sappy, melodramatic wuv story.

“Bound” was better. “Memento” was better.

My cars still at the panel-beaters and I miss it. The Shrugs played yesterday with their new line-up and I really wanted to drive down to Hammo to see them. I also keep getting urges to get some DVDs out, but then I keep remembering that walking all the way to Ponsonby and back at 10.30 pm on a rainy night is no fun, honey.

“Big Brother Uncut” was on last night. It was like 25 minutes of sexual innuendo, 5 minutes of nudie showering. There was one good bit where the girls in the round house were talking about bums. Leah was complaining about how fat her arse was (it’s not), then Regina said that she’d absolutely hate having a big bum. There was a superb reaction shot of Chrissie. She’s tall and she’s also really fat. She was just sitting there with this look on her face that was about 5% offence and 5% pity and 90% incredulousness. It reminded me of one time in 5th form geography. One of the girls I sat with, who was recovering from anorexia, and was still painfully thing, had thinning hair and that weird downy hair all over her arms, was complaining about how fat she was. No one told her to shut up and stop being so silly, instead they all talked about how fat they were.

Message to teenage girls and former teenage girls: You’re not as fat as you think you are. Seriously.

Cinco de Mayo

1. Today I took my clothes to the laundry and the lady was like “today I close at two. Ok?” So I went to the supermarket and bought a bottle of milk and came back before 2.00 to pick up my washing.

2. Later I took my car out to the insurance assessment place. There’s almost $900 worth of repairs to be done on such a tiny little corner of the car. Then I dropped the car off at my local panel beaters. I’ll be walking and bussing this week.

3. Then I watched Big Brother. It’s actually more fun checking out all the web sites and forums and figuring out what’s happening right now than waiting for the shows to reach TV in here. The daily recap shows are screening stuff that’s about two days old by the time it reaches New Zealand.

4. Also, TV1 has sudden got really good. I don’t know if it’s the charter thing taking effect, but the first time every I think TV1 is cool and smart and interesting.

5. Happy Cinco de Mayo.

One, two, three and to the four

This morning some workmen started using a pneumatic drill outside my place at 7.30 am. Like it’s not noisy enough here as it is.

I bet the Big Brother housemates don’t have that sort of shit happening. Yeah, I’d much rather wake up to “This is Big Brother. The hot water is now on.” (Robyn slowly regresses into a fantasy state).

I’m still jobless.