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Film & TV

I’d like to put it out there that in general I have decent taste in TV shows. I like a lot of the popular good quality programming like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad. I am a big fan of those short-lived series that have gained cult status, like Wonderfalls, Freaks & Geeks and Firefly. I enjoy funny shows featuring quirky women like New Girl, Cougar Town and Miranda. I watch decent crime shows, gritty British dramas and clever Danish thrillers. But then there are those guilty pleasures; those shows that you make an awkward joke about when someone catches you watching them. I love Judge Judy. And I love The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.

I don’t know what it is that gets me hooked on these shows. The concept is fairly solid – get together a group of attractive, successful people of similar ages, all making an effort to find someone for a serious committed relationship, give them exciting things to do in stunning locations while famous people play them romantic music, and really there’s no reason why they shouldn’t find love. But then there’s the competitiveness that comes from having just one girl or guy to fight over, the ‘ I’m not here to make friends’ one, the one that’s not there for ‘the right reasons’, the one that shows up in a wedding dress or gets a tattoo after one date… and that’s where the entertainment lies. But, anyway, I have found that watching The Bachelor/Bachelorette as a single person is a bit depressing. Because there are no limos full of eligible bachelors showing up at my front door.

bachelorette-jillian

Except that recently I had a weird revelation. In my efforts to get back in the saddle, I joined an Internet dating site last weekend and have been having so much fun with it. I’ve had a lot of weirdos message me, with the super imaginative saying only “hi”. There was the 60 year old guy, the guy who proposed we go straight to the wedding chapel when we first meet (we won’t meet), and a fair few guys who seem to speak without any punctuation whatsoever. I’m a stickler for good grammar when it comes to online dating prospects. But there have also been a surprising number of normal guys getting in touch. Attractive, suitably aged, funny, interesting guys. I find myself drawn to guys who identify themselves as ‘geeks’ so online dating seems to be a bit of a man gold mine.

Tomorrow I’ll be going on my first real life date for quite some time. I am extremely nervous, but have warned the guy that I tend to tell awkward jokes, and my 96 year-old Granddad told me some good ones lately, mostly featuring old men on buses  The additionally awkward thing is that I am currently messaging and flirting with a few different guys. Which makes me feel like I am in fact The Bachelorette, or else I’m just a heartless harlot. Although it seems complicit with this online dating thing that everyone is just constantly checking out everyone else. So the guy I’m meeting tomorrow is probably messaging other women too. And those women are probably messaging other guys, and so on and so forth until we all become a giant M. C. Escher drawing.

So, in an online world where everyone is semi-dating everyone else, we are all The Bachelorette. That is what I have decided. It’s just about finding everyone’s best fit, out of all the possibilities. And it applies in real life, when we randomly meet someone and start something datey; we are actively choosing them over all the other possibles out there.

This is not a world-changing revelation. It’s so obvious that this is probably not news to everyone else. But it’s changed how I feel about dating. Instead of trying to show my best sides and win over guys I like, it’s become about me picking out the guys I like most. I have adopted a Bachelorette mentality to dating, and hopefully this means that eventually I will end up with my… (searching for a successful couple that’s still together after their season of The Bachelorette aired)… JP? They’re still going, right?!

All Hallow’s Eve has arrived, which means that it’s time for ghosts and ghouls and tales of horror.

To celebrate, I’ve created this series of postcards with a theme of ‘love horror’, pairing classic horror films with beautiful love songs, like a strange blind date that doesn’t quite work.

love horror the birds close to you

love horror jaws somewhere beyond the sea

love horror the shining crazy

love horror carrie lady in red

Anyone interested in printing these as postcards can click on each image to get it in full resolution, or can download as printable postcard pdf, with colour matching stamps and details of the film and song and everything.

Download: The Birds / Jaws / The Shining / Carrie

I’d love to see if any get used anywhere – drop me a note in the comments if so!

>>> This is post 31 of the 31 I’ll be writing for Blogtoberfest 2012 and therefore marks the very end of this month of blogging festivities! Congratulations everyone who took part! <<<

Cabin in the Woods

Cabin in the Woods came out on DVD in the UK recently, and for me, a person who jumps and gasps and screams at even the most obvious of scares, this has been the first real opportunity to watch it. There was absolutely no way I was watching that in public. I remember judo kicking the back of someone’s chair out of fright when watching Jurassic Park at the cinema many moons ago, and it seems to have got worse from there. In the last year James and I have got through an entire Hitchcock season, The Thing, Alien and Aliens at the lovely independent Filmhouse in Edinburgh, but not without me having to clutch his leg/hand/entire body throughout all the scary bits.

SO, Cabin in the Woods. Ordinarily, this kind of film wouldn’t really interest me. From the trailer, it looks like your stereotypical horror movie – five unknowing teens, full of life and booze, find themselves the victim of an axe-wielding psycopath, a mutilated, one-armed demon, or in this case, a family of redneck torture zombies. I’ve watched many of these films with groups of friends or out on dates, and they give me a little excitement at the time, and a lot of nightmares later. The Grudge had me scared of bathrooms for over a year, I will never travel through the Texan countryside by myself or at night, and I’ve had nightmares about The Ring based on the trailer alone. But I’d heard interesting things about this film that suggested it was not what you might expect, and as a fan of producer and co-writer Joss Whedon, I decided to suck it up and give it a go. And I’m seriously glad I did.

Warning: may contain spoilers… Read More

Often when clearing out a cupboard you’ll find mementos and treasures that you’d given up for lost, or forgotten about entirely. At least that’s definitely the case with my disorganised storage system!

The same seems to be true of emails. In addition to the lovely conversations and inside jokes captured by Gmail over the years, I also recently stumbled across a series of bizarre ideas and old messages emailed to myself, when I clearly had some excess imagination with no outlet. Amongst them was a list of movie mashups created by combining two film titles together – likely Videogum inspired but I have no idea what the intended purpose was.

SO, what happens if a group of friends who drink and swear attend a series of nuptials while being overseen by an eccentric millionaire and some small orange creatures who love to sing and dance? Four Weddings and a Chocolate Factory. What to you call the tale of a sheepherding pig who travels to the big city to protect the human race from the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants? Babe: The Last Stand. And what’s the best title for a film about a young widow who discovers a series of messages from her late husband, all about his solitary life in New York City desperately searching for a cure to the mysterious plague? P.S. I am Legend.

These films don’t exist, but they should do.

O Brother Wheres My Car film poster

Look Whos Dracula film poster

Four Weddings and a Chocolate Factory film poster

Bend It Like Benjamin Button film poster

Its a Frost Nixon Thing film poster

How to Lose a Guy At The Museum film poster

Crouching Tiger Kangaroo Jack film poster

Bonus titles: 27 Dresses for Seven Brothers, Rosemary’s Hangover, Ocean’s 23, When Harry Met Mr Ripley, Bill and Ted’s Goblet of Fire. Feel free to suggest your own in the comments below!

>>> This is post 6 of the 31 I’ll be writing for Blogtoberfest 2012 <<<

debbiedoesdoodles fictional friends

Yet another 30 Days of Lists inspired post! This time – fictional friends. And while the selection of characters above do seem like a strange assortment, each would bring their own particular qualities to our new special friendship…

  • Doctor Who – for all the laughs, the insane ‘take it all in his stride’ attitude, his devotion to his pals and the added benefit of travelling in time and space together.
  • Arya Stark – she could teach me a thing or two about attitude, strength, cunning, swordfighting and dire-wolf training.
  • Jessica Day – life with Jess would be full of entertainment, insane songs and Kermit voices. And being friends with her would also involve an apartment full of hilarious men-folk too!
  • All the Ewoks – you think they’re cute, and then they turn out to be fierce little warriors – I would want an ewok with me at all times if I could.
  • Jules Kiki Cobb – Cougar Town‘s Jules Cobb and the cul-de-sac crew combine the insanity of the New Girl gang with lots and lots of red wine. Which sounds excellent to me.
  • Superman – Who wouldn’t want to be friends with the big guy? Any potential dangers of being used as bait by baddies would be totally outweighed by the flying trips to space, free lifts around the planet, and the authentic takeaway food. Presuming he wasn’t too busy saving the world.
  • Dr John Watson – Not only is Watson an actual practising doctor, he is also a crack shot and knows how to be a patient friend to unusual characters.
  • Kara “Starbuck” Thrace – As Kara’s friend you’d spend a lot of time getting her out of trouble, but she’d be a great drinking buddy, Triad partner, and she’d always have your back against any potential cylon outbreaks.
  • Arrietty Clock – I would put teeny-tiny Arrietty in my pocket and carry her with me everywhere. She’s super smart and would love the adventure. Some days I’d let her ride on the Ewok.
  • Lion-O – The Lord of the Thundercats has the coolest weapons with the best names ever – hello Sword of Omens! He isn’t scared to take on the genuinely terrifying Mummra but doesn’t have the greatest success with the ladies. In real life I think Lion-O would make a great personal trainer; he’s slightly terrifying, super fit, and wears a man-leotard like a pro.

Thirty Days of Lists is a challenge to journal something every day to create a snapshot of your life over the course of a month. Click here to see all my posts on the subject and please leave a comment if you have any thoughts, suggestions, or tips for UK craft stockists. You can also keep up with my 30 Days of Lists activities via Flickr, Instagram or Pinterest.

debbiedoesdoodles Fictional Places to live

Two Thirty Days of Lists posts in a row shows that this idea of list prompts is really good for inspiration! Yesterday’s list was ‘fictional places I’d like to live’ and there almost seemed too many to choose from. So, in no particular order, the shortlist is:

1. Metropolis

Definitely the DC Comics version, rather than the Fritz Lang imagining. As I child I was totally obsessed with Superman, and proudly wore the outfit (meant to be worn by little boys and not pigtail having girls like me) anywhere I was allowed. As a teenager I kissed posters of Dean Cain from The New Adventures. And as an adult I still have Superman nick nacks and feel a sense of attachment to the Man of Steel. So, naturally, if I lived in Superman’s world, I would live near the big guy himself, just in the hope of catching a glimpse.

Similar place I would not like to live: Although apparently within driving distance of each other, I would not like to live in Gotham. Way, way darker. Way more violent.

2. The Magic Faraway Tree

The Faraway Tree books by Enid Blyton are probably one of my favourite series of children’s books ever written. As if the everyday lives of Moon-Face and Silky the fairy, with their ridiculous neighbours Saucepan Man, Dame Washalot, Mr. Watzisname and the Angry Pixie, wasn’t enough, adding to the excitement is the prospect of magical lands that arrive at the top of the tree. I could fill this whole list with lands I’d like to live in: the Land of Do-as-you-please; the Land of Tea Parties; the Land of Goodies; the Land of Marvels… the list goes on.

Similar places I would not like to live: The Land of Topsy Turvy; the Land of Tempers; the Land of Dame Slap

3. Dorne, Westeros

Dorne is the most southerly kingdom that makes up the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, the land of the Song of Ice and Fire books and Game of Thrones series. As a large peninsula to the south of King’s Landing, a mountain range and a rebellious attitude meant that Dorne was the only kingdom not to fall to Aegon the Conqueror in the Targaryen grab for power, but was incorporated into the kingdom later through marriage. Thanks to the Rhoynish traditions prevalent amongst the Dornish, they practise equal primogeniture, which means the eldest child inherits the title even if she’s female. Which would be nice.

Dorne is hot and water is scarce, but trading with the Summer Isles makes Dorne the least dependent on the unreliable and war ravaged economy of Westeros. And being hot might not be a bad thing, since we all know that Winter is coming.

Similar place I would not like to live: The Wall. Luckily as a female I wouldn’t be allowed to take the black, but even as someone who lives in Scotland, the Wall is just too cold for me. I think I could handle Winterfell, but in times of strife in Westeros, I’d rather hide somewhere inconspicuous.

4. Do As You’re Told

Parental instructions lost their edge once they became associated with the bizarrely adorable creatures living in the land of Do As You’re Told, home of animated series Stoppit and Tidyup. The eponymous characters were the most unlikely of friends – the excitable Stoppit lived in what looked like a landfill site, while more serene and house proud Tidyup loved to tend his garden of giant gherkins. I loved the two bees, Beehave and Beequiet, the overconfident Clean Your Teeth, the messy Comb Your Hair and mischievous Eat Your Greens. Go and Play with his giant white shorts was always a little creepy, and the villain of the series, the big bad I Said NO and his pet Not Now were quite alarming as a small child, but watching them again as an adult, as I have been known to do, is brilliantly entertaining thanks to Terry Wogan’s hilarious narration and the complete absurdity of the storylines. I could definitely live with these strange neighbours in the land of Do As You’re Told, perhaps in the Valley of the Sit Downs, although the language of calls and squeaks would take some time to master.

Similar place I would not like to live: The ancient castle of Trapdoor, the claymation series made by the same producers of Stoppit and Tidyup, was the home of many a monster of varying ferocities.  I’ll take the advice of the theme song and “Stay away from that trapdoor, ‘Cos there’s something down there….”

5. Hogsmeade

Butter beer, Honeydukes, a joke shop… I think Hogsmeade satisfies every requirement for a wizarding way of life. And as the weekend destination of choice for wizards all around britain, not only is there good food and drink, but everyone there is in the best of moods!

Similar place I would not like to live: Hogwarts sounds exciting, with the grand hall and banquets and moving staircases and Quidditch and Hagrid and all, but if I haven’t made it clear above, I’m really not one for danger. And [spoiler alert] if Dumbledore can die, no pupil is safe.

6. Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory

Rivers of chocolate! Ooompa-Loompas! Singing, magic, mayhem and treats! While it’s true that many of the children who visited Willy Wonka’s factory suffered not so nice fates, they were the naughty children. Only the naughty children break the rules or steal or sneak. I would naturally be a very good girl and live a contented life amongst the Oompa-Loompas in the sweetie trees.

Similar place I would not like to live: The Giant Peach. I don’t like confined spaces, I don’t like insects.

7. Galactica

Space travel was never so dramatic as when aboard the Battlestar Galactica. Not only is the ship and civilian fleet travelling with it running for their lives from the warring cylons, they are also desperately searching for a new home which is possibly their old home, unknowing of the enemy embedded within their ranks. As the centre of the action and excitement Galactica is a dangerous place to be, but it’s also got the best defences, most interesting people, and most importantly a bar. And yes, Cloud 9 would be so much more luxurious, but [spoiler alert] it’s also got too many explosions by nuclear warheads for my liking (which is one, because one is all it takes).

Similar place I would not like to live: The Pegasus. I would rather live forever on New Caprica, or   to have been wiped out by the cylons on one of the twelve Colonies.

8. Wonderland

So much nonsense and lots of tea parties while wearing funny hats. Sounds lovely.

Similar place I would not like to live: Narnia. Love the talking animals, but the risk of permanent winter doesn’t appeal. Even factoring in the Turkish Delight.

Other fictional places I would not like to live: District 12 of The Hunger Games (not enough food, too much dictatorship), anywhere in Middle Earth (too much Sauron, not enough japes – perhaps with the exception of The Shire, which does seem pretty fun), District 9 of District 9 (too many catfood craving aliens), The Island (what is a smoke monster anyway?), Arrakis from Dune (too much sand, too many sandworms), the American Arctic research station (too much Thing) and Fantasia from The Neverending Story (too much Nothing).

Thirty Days of Lists is a challenge to journal something every day to create a snapshot of your life over the course of a month. Click here to see all my posts on the subject and please leave a comment if you have any thoughts, suggestions, or tips for UK craft stockists. You can also keep up with my 30 Days of Lists activities via Flickr, Instagram or Pinterest.

The Paralympics are coming. This afternoon the four flames from the four capital cities of the UK will be combining in Stoke Mandeville, and beginning the journey into London for the opening of the Paralympic Games tomorrow. I’ll be watching eagerly, and not just because my mum is volunteering as a steward at Stoke Mandeville and I’m hoping to catch her on the telly (isn’t it supposed to be ‘Hello Mum’ and not the other way around?!).

Before the Olympics I had a feeling of reluctant enthusiasm. I felt that I should be more excited about it than I actually was. I think it was partly the uncertainty of whether the UK could pull off such a huge event of worldwide interest. It was almost stage nerves, on the country’s behalf. But then the Opening Ceremony totally got to me. Our athletes showed what great competitors they were, and what a passionate and likeable bunch they turned out to be.

The Paralympics don’t hold the same uncertainty for me. The excitement of the Olympics has carried through. And that excitement has been so well corralled by Channel 4, official broadcasters of the Paralympic Games. Their billboard says it all: thanks for the warm-up.

David Abraham, Channel 4 chief exec, has stated that rather than an opportunity for political correctness, “We saw it is an opportunity to change attitudes and minds about disability.” There’s also been some interesting interviews regarding the commercial reasons – or lack of them – for Channel 4 to broadcast the Paralympics, suggesting that they are expecting a “commercially neutral” end result.

One of the major strengths of the Channel 4 approach to the Games is to focus on the individuals. The UK has some top class athletes competing in these Paralympics, highlighted through the ‘Meet the Paralympians‘ spots and in the brilliantly paced, adrenaline raising TV advert, ‘Meet the Superhumans’. The promo presents the Games as exciting, action-packed and totally brutal, with Public Enemy’s ‘Harder Than You Think’ (with spot-on timing of the line “thank you for lettin’ us be ourself”) the perfect blood-thumping accompaniment. But the whole campaign isn’t just focussing on the athletes, it features the disabilities themselves. By including scenes of a car accident, military action and a pregnant mother receiving news of a complication, the promo speaks to me about both dimensions: these are disabled athletes, and these athletes are disabled.

There’s been some chat about the use of that word ‘disabled’ lately. The President of the International Paralympic Committee Sir Philip Craven has demanded that we should stop using it to describe Paralympians altogether, saying “You know what the word ‘disabled’ means. It means something that doesn’t work, doesn’t function.” I see his problem, but I think it’s a problem of context, rather than vocabulary. I have no personal experience of being disabled, but I do understand the power of words. As a former lexicographer I once considered assessing the meaning behind a word a speciality.

Words come loaded with meaning and connotations. And so for some, describing an athlete or a sport as disabled may seem to diminish its importance. Craven is certainly suggesting that it is in some way demeaning. But is that really the case? My big red Chambers describes disability as “lack of power; lack of legal power or qualification; a disqualification; a difficulty, esp physical”. So, “a difficulty”. Isn’t that fair? Isn’t it fair to say that swimming the 400m freestyle is more difficult for Ellie Simmonds than Becky Adlington? As long as both are recognised as the phenomenal competitors and athletes that they are, is there a problem in recognising a difference? I don’t think so, but I’m looking forward to watching the Paralympics coverage where I’m sure every competitor, commentator and expert will have their own view on it. I’m prepared to have my mind changed. For me, it comes down to respect – for each athlete and for the sport they compete in.

What’s clear is that there are sensitivities and uncertainties around the description and treatment of the athletes competing in the Paralympics, and the wider community of people with disabilities. And if the Paralympics garners as much public interest as it’s shaping up to do, these issues will be considered and debated on a national scale. #Paralympics is trending. Disabilities are being demystified. Comedian Adam Hills is hosting an evening talk show on Channel 4 to talk about, and even make jokes about, these subjects. There’s a Lexicon Decoder to help viewers understand type and level of impairment within sporting classes. And in a move towards the equal recognition of Paralympians as that of Olympic medallists, the Royal Mail will now be issuing stamps for every gold winning Paralympian.

So it all kicks off this evening! Maybe Team GB’s Paralympians will bring home some golds. Maybe it’ll change the way we talk about disabilities. Maybe my mum will be on telly. Only time will tell…

Laura has left the building. And the country.

The last week has been a whirlwind of fun. I have done the following things, in no particular order:

  • Laughed so hard that I almost peed thanks to Dead Cat Bounce at the Pleasance Courtyard and the comedy ingeniousness of their ludicrous lyrics.
  • Ate late night savoury crepes at the Gilded Balloon garden.
  • Heard a very funny story about a friend’s friend accidentally pooing on their dog.
  • Tried to book cinema tickets by shouting “BATMAN” at Cineworld’s automated phone service.
  • Cut pizza with scissors.
  • Marvelled at Piff the Magic Dragon and his ability to both a) select clueless magician’s assistants and b) do really cool comedy magic.
  • Not won the lottery (despite trying).
  • Drank Jägerbombs in a yurt.
  • Loved The Dark Knight Rises, so so much.
  • Drank ‘sex in a bucket’ out of a bright red sandcastle shaped beach bucket.
  • Loved Joseph Gordon Levitt’s face, so so much.
  • Finally took advantage of our ‘perfect for barbecues’ terrace by actually having a barbecue on our terrace.
  • Reconnected with long-lost friends.
  • Accidentally slept in till 9am on a week day.
  • Enjoyed one of former flatmate Chris’s excellent hangover fry-ups.
  • Watched the second half of Stalker with James without falling asleep.
  • Fell off the Weight Watchers wagon and missed my first meeting.
  • Cleared up a mountain of wrappers after the aforementioned Chris and Laura demolished almost the entirety of our naughty snack drawer, even the Weight Watchers goodies, in one night.
  • Ordered a giant bean bag.
  • Missed the ‘celebrity’ toilets in Cineworld Fountainbridge, I used to love pretending to be Emma Thompson or Julia Roberts while peeing.
  • Drank a lot of rum.
  • Managed to only take four photos on a night out, all of the exact same thing.
  • Worn a Pacman inspired necklace created by Laura
  • Rooted for methylamine train robbers.
  • Felt so happy about rekindling the epic bond between the brilliant friends known as Team Omega, and then sad at the realisation that the Edinburgh reunion was temporary.

So now I’m loving being quiet and relaxing in my flat just James and I, but I’m looking forward to the next Laura visit and the inevitable whirlwind of activity and excitement.

Topical post! Olympics opening ceremony this evening, and considering the hilarious mistakes that have made in the build up to the Olympics, it promises to be entertaining viewing.

BBC comedy mockumentary ‘Twenty Twelve’, following the fictional Olympics Deliverance Commission, has been one of the main highlights of the Olympics to date. It’s also alarming how some of the errors made by the fictional team have been followed by remarkably similar events occurring in real life.

The twitter feed of fictitious Siobhan Sharpe, of PR agency ‘Perfect Curve’ @perfect_siohan is brilliant, reacting to real-life Olympic slip-ups almost as well as the scripted ones. On the  news that the wrong Korean flag had been used for the women’s football, she tweeted, “So there are two Koreas, like who knew? #Holyshet”

You couldn’t make this up.

Well, you probably could, but there’d be more Brazillos in it.