Thursday, 27 January 2011

The Radiant Face of American Conservatism

Big shout out to my friend Courtney Pannell, who's posted a new video as part of a Yale student-led initiative trying to get Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana to run as the Republican candidate in the US Presidential elections, 2012. The jilted ex in Coco's video is President Obama. 

I should point out that I'm not necessarily endorsing any candidate here. I'm just saying my friend is wonderful.

The video will be shown in Iowa, Indiana and New Hampshire next week.

Read more at Yale Daily News.

Co-authors include Max Eden, Michael Knowles and production was by Caleb Smith.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Diets and Dior

So, yesterday was the birthday of one of my best friends from school, Sarah, and unfortunately we couldn't celebrate with her in the style of days gone-by, because she's currently living in Manchester. Anyway, during our lengthy phone-call y'day we started taking a stroll down memory lane and Sarah reminded me of how ... well, "unwise" she used to be with money. This is a girl who, when she received the first instalment of her student loan, run up and down the corridors of her college halls, clapping her hands and squealing "Free money!" Although admittedly it's nothing compared to the time Kerry spent 10 minutes sheltering inside the Swarovski store from a storm and felt so bad for not buying anything that she emerged with a pink heart-shaped necklace. 

The high point of Sarah's early expenditure related disasters - which she once tried to pass off to her family as being an administrative error by the bank - came at the end of her first time at university, when she purchased a £600 pair of Christian Dior sunglasses. In the middle of December. She only bought them because the girl in the shop told her they were limited edition and the very last pair anywhere on the island of Ireland. Not just in Northern Ireland, but the entire geographical chunk. Sarah immediately panicked, took this as a sign from God and handed over the £600. (Next week, four more pairs were in that same shop.) To date, Sarah has worn these sunglasses twice. And announced on the second occasion that the pink lenses were too delightful to actually keep the sun out of her eyes. Not long after Diorgate, she spent £500 on a high quality handbag, which she told us was an investment because of the excellent craftmanship on the leather, before announcing two weeks later that it was too heavy to carry and was now purely for decoration. 

Good times.

Also, less Dior-related: something that has seriously annoyed me on Facebook/Twitter recently. Anyone who has read Popular will know that I am never going to be getting an award for being Mr. Politically Correct 2k11. I think mean humour is the height of hilarity, but there's a line between bitchy and bullying. I don't know at what stage people started finding things funny just because they use some low-end slur. It really irritates me when people think it's appropriate to post statuses with the word "faggot," "paki," "fenian," "hun" or anything else like that. What you laugh about in private is totally your own business, but what you put on a public social networking site is mine and everybody else's who you're friends with. It's extremely unlikely that your 700+ friends will all have the same sense of humour. And - newsflash, most people aren't very funny and if you use words like that, you belong with the cast of Deliverance not in clogging up my feed on FB or Twitter. 

Worst of all, last night when I read one of these oh-so-witty FB verbal spasms, I got to thinking about some poor 15 year-old kid struggling with an identity crisis who sees the word "faggot" and all the "likes" and the thumbs up for it on FB and therefore reaches the conclusion that there's nothing worse in this life than being gay. Don't be a good person, don't be smart, don't be ambitious, don't be an upstanding citizen - just don't be gay and you're doing fine! I think it's awful that this sends out a message that being gay automatically makes you somehow less than a full human being and your entire life is going to be lived as a punchline for some moron's sense of intellectually-underdeveloped humour. I mean, is it really worth making someone feel that way just for the sake of your stupid status? I don't think so, moron. And at what point should anyone have to feel that their religion or race makes them a target of public mockery? Never. It's just rude and unprofessional to post things that might be taken as legitimately offensive on Facebook, Myspace, Bebo or Twitter, unless you have a tiny pool of friends who all share your sense of, let's call it, humour. I don't know what happened to being witty and clever; when did this kind of nonsense becoming "ironic","cool" and funny? 


Anyway, rant over and I'm back to the gym to try and undo some of the damage done by Christmas. My sister Ashleigh and I got each other as Secret Santas this year and both pooled resources to give each other the world's largest collection of Jesus/Santa-themed chocolates. We wrapped them up in one giant parcel and put it under the tree with a note saying, "To Ashleigh & Gareth, We love your work. Happy Christmas from your Number 1 fans - Gareth & Ashleigh xx." We have a healthy relationship with narcissism in my family.

My trainer Allan has suggested I keep a food diary now that I'm serious about like getting back on track with the gym. Unfortunately, I haven't read anything more depressing than this food diary since The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. Honestly, it's like reading the schedule for feeding time at the zoo! Seriously. I eat like a rugby player and exercise like a debutante. This is where it all went wrong. 

Still, "good" to see it all written down and I actually do feel so much better about myself when I'm regularly gymming. New year's resolution was not to become a better person (practically perfect to be honest, as it is), but just to keep up gym schedule. Seems better to be realistic, rather than say something stupid like be nice or give up drinking. 

Anyone else have any new year's resolutions they've managed to keep by the end of January?

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Great new musician

OK, so I say new. New to me anyway and thanks to my sister Jenny for introducing me to this guy's music. 

Tyler Ward is a really cool American musician with a great voice and I was actually listening to some of his music last night as I finished off the manuscript for Popular's first sequel. (Big thank you, by the way, to Kerry Rogan, Eric Spies and Coco Pannell for the texts, BBMs, banter and encouragement last night.  And in Coco's case, prayers - I am fairly confident God could refuse her nothing.) 

Anyway, Tyler Ward's cover of California Gurls and Love the way you lie are awesome and I'm pretty sure that in Popular, Mark Kingston, Blake Hartman and Catherine would love his music. 

You can follow Tyler on Twitter here and on Facebook here.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Happy birthday, Lover

Today is the birthday of one of my favourite friends and partners in crime, the radiant Scarlett Diamond. Despite living in the same city, Scarlett and I did not meet until we were introduced by Alex "Squire" Jeffery in Oxford two years ago. It began as it meant to go on. Laughing at somebody's misfortune (Sorry, Derek! ... We are in no way sorry) one night and drinking for seven straight hours on the second. In fact, it was in the dubious confines of Po Na Na's, Oxford, after said seven hours that we crab-danced our way onto the dancefloor and decided to tell each other how delightful it was that we had found each other. Alex meanwhile was locked in a furious battle of wits with what later turned out to be his own reflection. (Note: floor length mirrors are VERY tricky after 7+ hours of Lady Liquor's dark embrace.)

It's hard to say where the nickname "Lover" came from or why it stuck, but we now very seldom seem to refer to each other by our actual names. One friend of mine hypothesised that the reason for our closeness is because neither Lover nor I judge each other, but that is untrue. In fact, we do judge each other. Favourably. All the time. Once when I smashed a glass in her flat, by accident, she applauded my "excellent smashing skills." Lover, here is a run down of some our favourite moments in honour of your birthday - the ones we could announce on a public forum, anyway. I wanted to stick to twenty-one to be age appropriate. But I did not. In no way did I feel like limiting myself.

1. ‘I informed my mother that we had calculated that, due to my volunteering, we could freely sabotage several random others’ lives in the grand scheme of things and feel totally guilt-free about this. She was very much in favour of this and thought that our logic was exactly right.’ - Scarlett, shortly after completing work for the Diabetes campaign

2. We both insisted that we could not make it downstairs to Hugo’s birthday party, because we were too ill from the night before. Four hours later, we were leading the charge to the nightclub, taking time off to allow a cardigan wearing Hugo to tactically whitey in some poor soul's garden in Maryville so he could keep drinking at the club.

3. ‘Lover, this Belvedere vodka really does go down like water. You practically don’t even need a mixer.’- Scarlett, four hours after we started drinking

4. The time I tumbled down a flight of stairs at a club, falling like a rag doll, smacking into the wall below, but somehow still managing to keep my drink entirely un-spilled. You congratulated me on my superiorly radiant way of falling. Better.

5. SCARLETT: Lover, you have inspired me to join the Facebook group against using live dogs as shark bait. Spiritual, much?
ME: I know, lover, it’s awful.
SCARLETT: It really is.
ME: They should be using fuglies instead.
SCARLETT: Well said, lover. Let's call Ruth and ask her if she'd like to volunteer.
6. ME: Mark says he doesn’t like Meredith because he just doesn’t approve of people who ruin other peoples’ lives for fun.
SCARLETT: …. Interesting.

7. 'Lover, wouldn't it be a delightful idea to install an infinity pool in our chez together that overlooks a ravine. Then carve enormous versions of our faces in the rocks below, so when we push our frenemies to their deaths, the last sights they see are our faces cackling up at them?'

8. The Doorway of Cackling

9. My panicked grimace when I was unexpectedly surrounded by a swarm of tourist-Others in London.

10. Your revolted grimace anytime an Other tries to use the word "Better" in convo.

11. The time we were already 20 minutes late for a lunch, but instead decided to leisurely experiment with the dozen or so different ways I could wear my new Ermenegildo Zenga scarf before even contemplating leaving.

12. ME: Scarlett, why are my jeans hanging on the curtain rails?
SCARLETT: Lover, last night when we returned from the club, you decided to perform an impromptu striptease for me. Needless to say, I was distinctly aroused.

13. 'G, I have just heard about you falling on the ice. How generous of you to touch the ground with your radiance.'

14. Every time we have ever been to AM:PM. Ever.

15. ‘I say “interesting.” I do not mean it.’

16. When I couldn't understand why the woman at the cinema kept looking at me funny, only to realise when I got to the bathroom that I had popcorn stuck to my sweater from chin to navel.

17. The night we placed at least a dozen phone-calls to people informing them that whilst they could come round to your house for pre-drinks, it was definitely not a house party. Not. A. House. Party. Needless to say, by 10:30 p.m., we were standing in the open doorway of the kitchen with a bottle in each arm chanting, “House Party!”

18. ‘Lover, last night’s “not house party” may have gotten slightly out of hand … Do you have a polyphil gun?’

19. The night at my house when, mid-house party, we decided to dress in 18th century aristocratic period garb, which naturally I just happened to have lying in my wardrobe.

20. The night we opened our sixth bottle of champagne, only to decide that now that it was 5 a.m. it would be a much better idea to save it for our steak and eggs breakfast we were making in the morning. In order to keep the fizz, we decided to stick a lid on it with duct tape. 

21. The night Alex Jeffery left Po Na Na’s forty-five minutes earlier than everybody else and we found him outside in the middle of a thunderstorm next to the Ashmolean Art Museum, soaked, shivering and with the world’s biggest cheeseburger in his hands.

22. When you were due in at college curfew at 11 o’clock and we drunkenly rolled up just after four a.m., in the middle of a torrential downpour, both clearly wreaking of alcohol, with Alex Jeffery swaying immediately post-whitey behind us, you wearing leather trousers, my shirt soaked with whiskey, half your hair still perfectly hairsprayed and the other half now drenched and sticking to your face, your make-up smeared and running all over your eyes and cheeks. And I announce cunningly that I will explain to the porters why you’re late. “It’s my fault,” I say. “We were at a family funeral in London.” You immediately pull a very sad face and stumble in.

23. The night we smuggled your sixteen year-old brother into a club and then he refused to let us dance with him because we were cock-blocking him. A low point, lover.

24. The Age of Pauper, which followed your telephone bill from your time in Thailand.

25. 'Lover, I thought I was nothing but nice to him in school but it turns out that apparently the night I stood outside Parlour, laughing, squealing and giggling as he was manhandled by the bouncers may or may not have made him think I was a bitch ... Paranoid, much?'

26. One morning, when you were still asleep, I asked you where the BlackBerry charger was. You were obviously too drowsy to understand exactly what had been said, so from the depths of your unconscious you quickly tried to pull a phrase which there was a 50% chance would fit whatever conversation we were having. You sighed in your sleep and mumbled, "You're right. She is so clingy, lover."

27. 'Lover, my friend Joel often mocks my stories as being too long.' 
'Interesting, lover, since that is not a description which will apply to his life if he keeps that strategy up. Time for us to get out the Assassination Birkins again.'

28. At Kyle Williamson's birthday pool party, I found you napping in his bath in your bikini. I say, napping ... Anyway, I decided to warm you up by spraying warm water over you from the showerhead, while Fergie hovered nearby, worried that this was the second time she was going to explain a stomach pumping to Ange.

29. 'Lover, the stomach pumping is not the funny bit. The funny bit is the letter of apology written to the parents whilst still drunk, in which their names are spelled incorrectly and no letters actually touch the lines.'

30. Happy birthday, Scarlett - for all the things I couldn't post here and for all the time we've had to hold each other's hair and murmur words of comfort, for the hours of chats and jokes .... Better. ... xx
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