Saturday, February 28, 2009

Girl Put Your Records On: February

Girl Put Your Records On: February

Maybe this will end up as a monthly feature, maybe I will forget about it by the end of March, I do not know. But for now it seems like a good idea. And what is this idea?

Well, I thought I'd partake in a Monthly Round-Up of the songs I've been blogging/ writing/ dancing in my kitchen to. And why is it a good idea? It is a good idea both because when I look back it'll be lovely for me to see whose words and chords were playing in my mental jukebox and also as, clearly, I think these songs/ bands rock and, therefore, so should you.

Augustana: "Boston" [go here for a surprisingly beautiful official video] - This song has 'Corinne would like to hear this whilst standing in a field with 20,000 other people' written all over it. And there are not enough indie boys who play piano in my humble opinion so this re-addresses the balance.

Dashboard Confessional: "Even Now" (acoustic) [go here]- Just a little bit wonderful. And just a little bit even more wonderful because as a Valentine's Present you can download the song for free from their myspace. What's not to love?

Emmy The Great: "First Love" [go here for a rather quirky video]- I first heard about Emmy a couple of years ago in an issue of Vogue (see, who said it wasn't educational) and it is probably fair to say that she is exactly my type of girl, with her literary-indie-folk sound. And "First Love" as well as being achingly true has the kind of clever intertextuality that makes me leap for joy (tip: it's a treat for all fans of 'Hallelujah' that might help you put the hideous X-Factor version out of your head).

Gaslight Anthem: "Meet Me By The River's Edge" [go here]- Why didn't Gaslight Anthem become super-mega-huge in 2008? Like Ghosts in 2007 and The Holloways in 2006, I do not know. Literate-indie-rock (they have a song entitled 'Great Expectations' which has a line which makes the geeky-English-Lit Grad inside of me whoop) this is the type of band that taps into the part of my brain that is forever in love with Adam Duritz. The line that won me in "Meet me by the River's Edge"? "You wore Audrey Hepburn pearls". Magic.

Matt Nathanson: "Come On Get Higher" [go here for the rather uninspired official video or here for the much more interesting live version]- Let's make one thing clear: this boy is funny. I am, I confess, semi-obsessed with his live footage/ tracks and the more I hear the more it makes me itch for him to cross the Atlantic and, I don't know, play in my living room. And then never leave. His lyrics are pure poetry, filled with the senses and just enough hopeless longing to keep me happy. 'Come On Get Higher' is probably my most played song of the last month for those reasons alone. And, should you be wondering, I would totally lick him if I met him.

Matt Wertz: "519" (acoustic) [go here]- Another American singer-songwriter named Matt (hmm, maybe I'm getting some sort of fetish for them), Wertz is what James Morrison would be if he were American. Which may or may not be a good thing. From what I've heard I think some of his stuff is over-produced (but then I tend to think lots and lots of things are over-produced) but the acoustic version of "519" is one of those songs that, in that odd way which a few words and a few chords can, tells the truth. If anything was going to make me fall in love with it then it was most definitely the line: "We both know that I can think myself dizzy".

Stickboy: "Pirouette"[go here and watch out for the Kazoo] - Probably my absolute favourite discovery of recent months. There's something disarmingly charming about everything he does (and, crikey, does Stickboy have a workrate which makes me feel ashamed). Witty, lyrical and quietly poignant this is exactly the kind of folk-indie that I fall in love with. 'Pirouette' makes me feel joyously-dance-around-the-room happy - and I defy you not to feel the same.

So that is the tip of the February Music Iceberg. If anyone has any suggestions of who I should listen to in March, let me know...

Friday, February 27, 2009

Right To Reply

Right To Reply

Because I am nothing but fair and since Breakfast Club Boy took an inordinately large amount of time to compose a response to the whole tie-dye-shirt-fiasco (possibly not aided by my trying to read over his shoulder/ commenting on his inability to operate a computer/ how long it was taking him to blog) , it is probably only right that it takes its place on DA:
Petunia is a fashion fascist. That is to say she exercises and attempts to enforce rigid restrictions on the sartorial expression (and similar arts) of those around her that are emblematic of a highly conservative, xenophobic view point. A view point indicative of one thing - fear. Petunia (a pleasant fellow in many ways) clearly fears the vivid, the surreal and especially the psychedelic. The harshest of her fascistic restrictions (and attempted punishments through humiliation tactics) are reserved especially for anachronistic items of fashionistic bliss. Well hear this Petunia, I will not be censored - for every rolled eye and sarcastic witticism or riff on colour-blindness (a genuine disability that should not be lampooned) or hippy-dom (refer to previous parenthesis) I will endeavor to up the ante! Long live the paint splattered v-neck!
Breakfast Club Boy, 26th February 2009,
Revelations of a Life Lived in Syntax.


It would appear that the first step in up-ing the ante has consisted of him dyeing his hair a shade of I've-been-in-a-pool-of-chlorine-too-long-green. Needless to say when I walked into the Nice Pub to discover this I temporarily lost the ability to speak. Because - GREEN HAIR. On purpose and not as a result of a freak-dyeing accident. It boggles my mind a little.

At least there was the possibility of burning the tie dye.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Without Mentioning That They Counted To See Who Had The Most Lines

Without Mentioning That They Counted To See Who Had The Most Lines

"Have you blogged yet?" Charming Canadian asks.

We are in the midst of the library and the number one topic of conversation for the last twenty four hours (if we put to one side workloads and general mockery of me which are pretty much standard features of our conversations at any given point) has been blogging. Which may have a little to do with the fact that it has been discovered that not only am I the only person who appears when you google my name but also that I blog.

"No! I've been working!". For I have. Actual reading as opposed to messing around on the internet working. Working because I am writing an essay comparing August: Osage County to every-depressing-dysfunctional-family-American-play ever written. Let me say now: that is a heck of a lot of alcohol and drug problems to negotiate.

"So, the actual blogger amongst us hasn't blogged in the last twenty four hours". There is a kind of smugness to it, somewhat justified after my assertion that the boys' new desire to blog is something that will amount to little more than a one night stand. Especially given that to my zero posts they have managed seven - hear it, seven -posts in the last 24 hours.

It is then, sitting in the midst of the library in front of a shiny Mac as the overbearing strip lighting shines down on me, that I realise what I have done: I have created a monster.

***

"Why aren't I 'Charming Canadian'?"

It is a fair question. "Because" - I consider how to put this - "Charming Canadian is, well... charming".

"And I'm not?"

There is an obvious answer to this, but I refrain. "You could be Non-Charming Canadian".

"Un-Charming Canadian".

"Sounds about right".

***

"I was reading your blog last night and I started to feel bad...you're really nice about us".

This is, I recognise, my one chance to pull the moral highground over Arsenal Fan.

"I know".

"The one about your bruises...I started to feel really guilty".

I smirk.

"So you should".

***

"Maybe we could swap names, confusing everyone".

Breakfast Club Boy seems more keen about this than Charming Canadian. Possibly because Charming Canadian does not exactly look like he has just stepped out of a John Hughes film. He, currently, doesn't have enough hair for starters.

"I wouldn't do that" - this being my blog and all that and me as the author-God - "because they're characters and that would just confuse the audience".

There's a moment as this sinks in. Possibly most of all the fact that I have, without prior permission, pillaged my friends for their blogable bits and turned them into characters to be consumed by an audience.

I wonder if they will ever speak to me again.

Breakfast Club Boy looks at me. "Do I have fans?"

I cannot help it, I laugh.

Friday, February 20, 2009

On Being Nearer To Thirty Than To Twenty

On Being Nearer To Thirty Than To Twenty

"I've given you a proper wine glass, now that the boys have gone" Surfer Girl says, the red wine already in my hand.

It is the evening after the night before and there is now just me, Surfer Girl and the remnants of last night's wine and Indian takeaway.

"Beakers for the boys, wine glass for me". It sounds about right.

"I don't know what that says about them..." Surfer Girl laughs.

"Well, there was the moment when [Breakfast Club Boy] was sitting on the Pilates ball holding his beaker and it made me feel old because all I could think about was how we were going to get the red wine out of the carpet when he spilt it". It is somehow shaming to admit.

"I know!" exclaims Surfer Girl. "I was thinking - salt? White wine?"

"Exactly! And whatever it was, we'd have had to do it then!". I pause. "This is what happens isn't it? We end up talking about how to get red wine out of a carpet..."

"As we sit on a sofa, blankets around us..."

"Watching tv where overweight people get told to eat less..."

"Whilst we eat chocolate".

I look down at myself, realising in the process how content I am to be doing this. I realise that Surfer Girl is doing the same.

We look at each other.

"We're going to have to have a party to get over this, aren't we?"

Thursday, February 19, 2009

And it didn't look better after half a bottle of red wine either

And it didn't look better after half a bottle of red wine either

"I dressed especially for you" Breakfast Club Boy says, his coat still firmly in place as he takes a seat on Surfer Girl's sofa.

A not-so offhand comment of mine which I made a few weeks ago about the dress sense (or lack thereof) of the male contingent of The Writers has spiralled out of control. After what has probably amounted to hours of questioning (and a few lessons on the difference between fashion and style*, and then the difference again as to looking like you've just stepped out of TopShop, coathangers and all) the majority of the boys have accepted that, in their current states, they are not going to persuade me of anything different. Breakfast Club Boy, however, has taken it as a point of contention.

I sense immediately that I am not going to be presented with an outfit out of a Burberry advert.

He opens a couple of buttons and pulls his coat aside.

I blink. Breakfast Club Boy's shirt looks like someone has drunk copious amounts of Ribena and then vomited on him.

"Tie-dye!" He exclaims throwing his coat off in the process.

My hand automatically reaches up to my mouth in case I vomit.

"That..." - There is a pause as I attempt to sum up exactly what is in front of me - "is hideous".

"Oh, that's not all".

There is, I am quite sure, far too much excitement on his face. It is almost indecent.

He lifts up the Ribena Vomit shirt and my retina bursts.

"Tie dye on top of tie dye!"

The second shirt is, if possible, worse. Rather than just Ribena it looks like someone has ingested the entire contents behind the bar at Evil Eye before vomiting on him.

"Where...how..?" The words sort of slip out, unable as I am to process that someone would willingly own, let alone wear, such items. And, worse still, wear them together.

"They were presents". There is a kind of pride to the assertion.

"And you wear them?". I can hear the highness of my voice, I am about to reach the place where only dogs will be able to hear me.

"Oh, yes". He stretches his arms out so the tie-dye spreads out and I wonder if I am to lose my sight. "An ex-girlfriend of mine gave me an ultimatum about them - either her or the tie-dye. And, well, it's the tie-dye that's still here".

I can't help it. "I would be much more subtle than that".

As I speak he is already in the process of taking the first shirt off. I realise that the sleeves to the second shirt are different colours.

"Oh, I know you would".

The tie-dye reflects oddly against his hair. He seems blonder than I have ever considered him to be.

"They might go missing...or an accident...you know how these washing machine incidents happen...". I wonder if, over the course of the evening, I might be able to arrange an accident anyway, lest I have to spend the next twenty four hours with him wearing these clothes and thus go blind.

Breakfast Club Boy looks directly at me and I know I'm busted. "Don't think about it - I'll be keeping my eye on these. Anyway, I know you're just jealous - I'll have you wearing tie-dye".

With that he throws the Ribena Vomit shirt so it lands on my head and, for the first time ever, I have tie-dye next to my skin. I expect I shall get a rash.

*Or what I termed as 'Kate Moss' vs 'Audrey Hepburn'. And Hepburn would win every time.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

From the Princess, To the Boy with Guitar

From the Princess, To the Boy with Guitar

They say that when you begin to speak I smile.

They say your eyes search out mine, a secret communicated between just the two of us.

They say we just sort of look right together (though whether this is simply because we are both the same shade of Dulux Pale I do not know).

They say we have so many in-jokes that they must roll their eyes.

They say they do not tease you about this like they tease me.

They say how well I am doing, how this has not fractured this little group of ours.

They say how exciting it seems, watching from the outside-in.

And they say: that they have it all planned out, this inside-out fairytale of ours.



You say the sentence which, unfailingly, will get the biggest laugh.

You say that I am the Princess (and sometimes the pea).

You say that if I get to be Martha Wainwright then you get to be David Bowie.

You say you over-punctuate when nervous and I pretend that I haven't noticed.

You say my name in all its different permutations just because you can.

You say it is a secret that you can tell only me and your excitement is so infectious that it propels me through the week.

You say we have grown closer as I swallow what the cost of this has been.

And you say: awesome, and because it is in your voice I do not mock (much).



I say how much you make me laugh even when I'm determined that you won't.

I say that you're such a boy with your Converses and Pink Floyd hoodie and guitar.

I say that you tick so many of my imaginary boxes that you render me a bit predictable and I should dislike you for this.

I say we can talk about everything, except this.

I say I'm doing just fine, basking in this friendship of ours, even though we all know that for me it is not enough.

I say I need to wait whilst secretly thinking that maybe I can't (and shouldn't).

I say that, regardless, I am still incredibly glad that I met you.

And I say: Happy Valentine's Day, Mr Yellow T-Shirt.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Wherein I Am A Bit Manic

Wherein I Am A Bit Manic

Just sticking my head above the pile of books that surround me to say that if I've been a bit quiet on here it may have something to do with the fact that I have what seems like a million deadlines to navigate. Along with stuff like, I don't know, working the BAFTAs (a metre or two from Brad Pitt, let it be noted. I, predictably, got more excited about the metre from Dominic Cooper bit), doing ten hours worth of classes, three shifts at New Theatre, a meeting about the Youth Theatre Project I'm working on (I have to have a new version of the script ready for next Tuesday), finishing the first draft of my adaptation of Orpheus and Eurydice and making a Secret Valentine card I also have to hand in what is becoming the scrapbook of my ideas for my Final Project next Monday. Final Project. That's flippin' scary.

After hand in on Monday, along with a couple of The Writers, I'm retreating to Surfer Girl's flat in Charlton for a writing lock-in (where I hope to finish the Youth Theatre thing, and maybe even get started on the essay I have to write for dramaturgy exploring August: Osage County in relation to the notion of the American Play). I've also got a meeting about the European New Writing Festival of Rehearsed Readings that I'm co-pitching, another Youth Theatre Meeting, the first reading of After Doroteia (the script I co-dramaturged before Christmas which is having a reading at the Oval House in March), my feedback session for the Final Project Scrapbook, more shifts at New Theatre and - should I think I have time to breathe - an interview which might help me get some tutoring work.

I fly to Berlin on the Sunday and, hopefully, I'll be able to breathe at that point.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

On Not Remembering 1989

On Not Remembering 1989

Walking through Goldsmiths, which is emblazoned with homemade Socialist Student posters, we are talking about the militancy of its students. Of which, as aloof Postgrads, we do not include ourselves. We spend far too much time drinking coffee and contemplating our proverbial navels for that.

"It's not something I've ever encountered, I mean at Oxford they protested but not like this..."

It is true, Goldsmiths is a whole new level.

"What did they protest about at Oxford?". There is just enough incredulity about it to keep me on my toes.

"Well, tuition fees was the big one when I was there".

It was all 'gold ribbon' wearing moments, back in my first term. You can see mine on my Matriculation photos. That and the purple pot on my left arm.

He holds the pause just long enough. "What, they wanted to put them up?"

"Funny. And when I was there there were all the Anti-War protests".

There is a sort of bemused look on his face. "You were at Oxford at that time?"

We turn the corner, more posters emblazoning the walls.

"Yes, 2003 - I was in my second year".

He begins to laugh. "I'm not going to say what I was doing then".

There is a trickling realisation that whilst he may have passed the NKOTB test with flying colours this might have more to do with his nationality than his age. And then I recall that he originally thought I had come to Goldsmiths straight from Oxford, neither of us calculating any of the maths further than the fact that he has begun to mock that I have to tick a different box to him in age categories. But I cannot step away from it.

"Tell me".

I cannot hide my urgency.

"You don't want to know".

"Look, I can work it out".

We have now arrived at the Cafe from Corporate Hell.

"I was...doing my GCSEs".

I stop.

"What?!"

He has the decency to mingle his gloating with just enough sheepishness. "My second year of GCSEs".

"But still your GCSEs. Whilst I was in my second year of University".

There's a pause.

"Yes".

We look at each other and I feel vaguely unclean.

"Let's never speak of this ever again".

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

More Songs For Polar Bears

More Songs For Polar Bears

Another no-school snow day, this one greeted with notably less enjoyment because, hey, I like Tuesdays. In the morning we sit around a table, drink coffee and talk about other people's plays. In the afternoon we sit around a table, drink coffee and talk about our plays. In the evening we sit around a table, drink alcohol and talk about how we are going to take over the world. What's not to like?

But then, because I wasn't the only one starting to be overcome with cabin-fever, it was declared that a trip to Greenwich Park was in order. And I've never been to Greenwich. So, obviously, a day when the London transport system is still messed up is clearly the right time to visit.

And the first thing that struck me about Greenwich - all the space. In London. Fields! It has been too long.

Ski-Run (sort of)

Greenwich in the snow

Greenwich looking beautiful

After the obligatory snowball fight, there had to be a snowman.

Mr Snowman

I think we're all more about the idea than the construction it would seem. But good characterisation I think. And, yes, that is a £5 note in his mouth.

Tomorrow, Uni is open again (helpful given that I have no more contact hours this week) so all the snow-day anarchy must stop, the wellies can go back into the cupboard and everyone in London can go back to not talking to strangers in the street.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

"It's been a few years and I can't deny, the thought of you still makes me crazy"

"It's been a few years and I can't deny, the thought of you still makes me crazy"

We arrive at the newly re-branded HMV Hammersmith Apollo and there is what can only be described as a queue. And - remember - I queued for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I don't bandy the word 'queue' around lightly.

This queue, however, is noticeable for one thing. It is a very female queue. I suspect I could count the number of men on my fingers. Which probably goes with the territory.

You may ask: why?

One reason (or rather four reasons, and then the proverbial and literal 'Danny' of the group*):

NKOTB @ the Apollo

The reactions of people when I said I was going to see NKOTB ranged from outright mockery to the possibly more worrying 'who?'. Obviously I nearly had to end that friendship, given the realisation that the person concerned cannot remember 1989. And though I have grown into a person who gets excited about Shakespeare and is one of the 65 people in Britain who buys poetry for pleasure and who grades her BwG's by the poetry of their lyrics/voices, there is no denying the 10 year old girl who loved a boyband. Damnit, I'm a 26 year old girl who loves a boyband. And whilst the Kids are just at the edge of my musical periphery (it was to be 1992 and the rise of Take That before I had my first full flushed boyband moment) I am an avid student of boyband lore (I am sure there is a PhD thesis in there somewhere). And, if we are to look at the history of the modern boyband then we have to look at NKOTB. Because for every half-baked One True Voice, Blue or Bad Boys Inc which we can lay at their door, then they also spawned Take That and Backstreet Boys and all the permutations thereof [Justin Timberlake, I mean you]. So this is not just music. This is anthropology.

Oh, okay. When I stayed at Cat's I saw pictures of how much Joe NKOTB had grown up and I was pretty much sold. C'mon, he has beautiful eyes, I don't have that much resistance.

So, the queue outside the HMV Hammersmith Apollo. Lots of women. And I can honestly say that it is the first time that I have been in a queue where the woman in front has offered to share her Chicken McNuggets. These NKOTB fans, friendly. This is what civilised boybanding is like.

Once inside it was to the discovery that HMV have done away with the 'pile everything into a plastic bag' approach to the cloakroom last seen at The Fray and have instead started charging £2 AN ITEM. Robbery. They have not, however, ripped up the wonderful rake which makes the Apollo such a fantastic gig venue. Such a good idea is a rake I am almost tempted to start a campaign for it to be rolled out. Short-gig-goers of the world unite! Aherm. If the rake wasn't enough the general politeness of the average NKOTB-er meant that there was not of the pushing and elbowing malarky which usually characterises such gigs and Cat and I simply wandered towards the front. And as a girl who loves to eyeball performers (I want to see the fear) this can only be considered a good thing.

Not long after we'd taken our positions the lights went down to much raised voices. There was a support act we shall call Rhianna Lite who is, apparently, big in Japan. I cannot vouch for that. But she sang. Her dancers danced. There was something that I think was supposed to be banter. I wasn't really that bothered, other than noting the weird combination of her, Akon and Disney on her forthcoming single. I wasn't aware that Disney were pushing misogyny this season, afterall.

And then - with much buildup of men holding ropes to release the makeshift white curtain - the Kids were on stage. It was at this point that I became pleased that twenty-and-thirty-something screams are a lot less shrill than their pre-teen counterparts. It was also at this point that I realised that put a boyband on stage, flash some lights, stick me in the crowd and I will scream. Because, just metres away from me, that's friggin' NKOTB! I watched them on the Poll Winners Party! I read about them in Smash Hits! And - look - how much Joe NKOTB has grown up!

What followed was well over two hours of pure, slick, energetic boyband joy. Because - and it was not something I remembered - they can actually all sing. Properly without being synthesised or having overly-loud backing vocals. And they can dance! Together, without you ever thinking, hey, aren't they a bit old for this malarky. There was also a perfect fusion between new-and-old, giving all of us a chance to wheel out those 1989 dance moves.

What was maybe so brilliant was that NKOTB have been doing an Arena tour and this was effectively the Arena show but in a 5,000 person venue. So we got them coming up through the floor, the big screen, all the lights, lots of confetti, a wind machine (!), the dances and dancers but also the fact that we could eyeball them. And when I say eyeball, I mean eyeball. And they've all been doing this so long that it comes so naturally - the banter, the jokes, the easy naturalness that pervaded the show. And - in case I should forget - the utter joy. Because you can tell when a performer is simply loving being up on stage, and these guys were loving it as much as the women who were singing the words along with them. And when they came into the audience and we all sang 'Tonight' back at them there was something so utterly magical about the moment that I wished I could bottle it for a rainy day. Because music can be serious and deep and profound, talked about in quiet tones, but that is not the only form of sublime. It can be a joyous, communal, emphatic three minutes of perfection, loudly proclaimed. The ten year old Corinne knew that, and I know it still. And I would not have it any other way.

After the encore, to the obvious horror of their security, the Kids attempted various dives into the willing arms of the audience. For a flash of a moment I quite seriously considered the possibility of plunging further forward to semi-molest Joe NKOTB. Because - what could possibly be better than to touch him? I am, of course, blaming the surge of hormones that such an event must have caused because I am a well brought up girl who knows to keep her hands to herself. Usually.

To say I enjoyed myself as a participant in what was quite possibly a moment of boyband history would be something of an understatement. So - next time you're in town, boys, see you at the Apollo, right?

*Bonus points to any former Smash Hits readers who know about the 'Danny of the Band'.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Songs For Polar Bears

Songs For Polar Bears

When I went to bed last night Forest Hill looked a bit like this:

The night before...

This morning when my alarm went off and I switched my phone on I got a series of texts from The Writers about how/if it would be possible to get into Goldsmiths. Then, just as I'd pulled myself away from my hotwater bottle the text came that Uni was in fact closed for the day. Just like when you were at Primary school and there would be a snow-day! How exciting. Obviously I replied with varying degrees of sarcasm about the South and how a little bit of bad weather stops everything. Because this wouldn't happen in the North. Clearly.

And then, erm, I actually went outside and - heck - that's quite a lot of snow. Now I'm sure that the various Canadians currently in my life would disagree with that assertion but as snow goes it is a long, long time since I think I have seen this much. This is England after all. We get a 1cm and it makes the news. And though it has managed to bugger up my plans for the day...well, doesn't Forest Hill look beautiful:

Narnia (Almost)

Sledging on the hill

Snow...

A bit more snow...

Someone clearly had too much time on their hands...

My only slight worry is that it is continuing to snow. And I have many, many plans for this week, almost all of which actually require me to be more than ten minutes walk from my flat. So, you've had your fun now and if we could go back to normal tomorrow then that would be great. Thanks.