A few questions about 2010

20 December 2010

1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?
Bought a flat, got engaged, appeared in court in Brooklyn, New York…

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I try my best not to make them. It’s always a disappointment when I don’t keep them. But I remember last year’s:
· Love a little more;
· Worry a little less;
· Be more honest;
· Be a little smarter;
· Pause a little more;
· Keep up the exercise;
· Say what’s on my mind, but not so much that it’s destructive;
· Work a little harder, but not drive myself into the ground;
· Be a little more me.
And I believe I have kept every one.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes, my sister. And I am now a very very proud Uncle for the first time.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
I don’t think anybody who was very close to me died this year.

5. What countries/cities did you visit?
Oh my! USA (New York) Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Scotland, Italy (Venice, Naples and Sorrento). That can’t be it surely?

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?

More luck, more money, more job security.

7. What date from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
8th March, a special birthday, and a special proposal. And the party a few days later.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Getting a new job just weeks before people from my old one were made redundant.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I tend to block failure from my mind.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Yes, norovirus, and numerous colds and strange muscle/stomach things. No broken bones this year.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
My new Digital SLR. My flat.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Anyone who’s coped with me.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
I tend not to be appalled and depressed, just disappointed.

14. Where did most of your money go?
On the new flat probably! Rent, mortgage, fees and furniture. And travel.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Moving flat, getting engaged, and going on holiday!

16. What song will always remind you of 2010?
I’m not sure there’s a particular song, but an album: The ArchAndroid by Janelle Monae. There’s also Empire State of Mind.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you…
i. happier or sadder?
Happier, my happiness increases annually.

ii. thinner or fatter?
About the same.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
I wish I’d had the time and willpower to do more exercise. And reading, I certainly wish I had read more.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
More of nothing – literally. You know those days. They’re rare, but they happen.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
In Canada with my partner and family I hope. If my rescheduled flight leaves, after I was thrown off one on 18th December after 5 hours on the tarmac.

21. How will you be spending New Years?
In the midlands with my own family for “second Christmas”

22. Did you fall in love in 2009?
Yes. All over again.

23. How many one night stands?
None.

24. What was your favourite TV programme?
Hmmm. This year has been coloured by Family Guy, the Winter Olympics, Ugly Betty and Glee.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I don’t think I hate anyone.

26. What was the best book you read?
Peter Mandelson’s autobiography.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Janelle Monae!

28. What did you want and get?
I want for very little.

29. What did you want and not get?
Probably job security.

30. What was your favourite film of this year?
The Ghost – about a ghost writer. Incredible movie.

31. What did you do on your birthday?
Went for dinner, got engaged, and had a special birthday party a few days later.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
More holiday in the sun.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
Very “me”.

34. What kept you sane?
Friends.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Hmmm. Good question, and one I am not sure I can answer.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
I’m not going to answer this but people who know me know what my general political views are. There have been many many issues that have stirred me this year.

37. Who did you miss?
My Gran.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
Hmmm. They’re not new people – I have known them since before this year. But only met them properly this year: David E and Chris M. But they’re both out-shone by the best new person I have ever met: my baby Niece, Imogen.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010.
Life is what you make it.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Our love will sail in this ark
The world could end outside our window
Let’s find forever
And write our name in fire on each other’s hearts

41. Was 2010 a good year for you?
It was, yes.

42. What were your favourite moments of the year?
I’m having three: my birthday, lying on the Barcelonetta, getting the keys to my flat

43. What was your least favourite moment of the year?
Being sat on a plane for five hours in a snowstorm, going nowhere – and the subsequent cancellation and inability to get through to Air France. Oh and getting a summons in New York together with the subsequent court appearance.

44. What was your favourite month of 2010?
Can I have three? February, March and July

45. What was your favourite song from 2010?
I’m sticking to Janelle Monae’s whole album here…

46. What was your favourite record from 2010?
See above

47. How many concerts did you see in 2010?
Three?

48. Did you have a favourite concert in 2010?
Scissor Sisters. And Goldfrapp.

49. Did you do anything you are ashamed of this year?
I tend not to get ashamed of things I do.

50. What was the worst lie someone told you in 2010?
I can’t think of a lie I told.

51. Did you treat somebody badly in 2010?
I don’t think I did.

52. Did somebody treat you badly in 2010?
I don’t believe so.

53. How much money did you spend in 2010?
Too much!

54. What was your proudest moment of 2010?
Becoming an uncle.

55. If you could go back in time to any moment of 2010 and change something, what would it be?
There’s nothing I’d ever change.

56. What are your plans for 2011?
Keeping a job, and getting married.


One Night Only

25 August 2010

On Sunday night, after a family weekend, I returned from a family weekend to my latest arrival from Lovefilm. Dreamgrils, a movie from the musical of the same name is a fantastic musical portrait of an era in American social history defined by race, music and culture. “Dreamgirls is a roman à clef of the histories of the Motown record label and one of its acts, The Supremes“. A car salesman who signs a trio of 8-year-olds, the Dreamettes, gets them a job backing an R&B performer, James “Thunder” Early, love triangles and internal politics.

But it’s the music, incredibly all original, that makes this film. One I should definitely own (even Eddie “party all the timeMurphy is a surprise!). My favourite track has to be One Night Only, performed in turn by the downtrodden Jennifer Hudson (whose awesome voice tugged my heartstrings) and in a more upbeat style by Beyoncé:


Moralising at tangents

25 August 2010

I was pointed to an amazing moralising Christian article by a Facebook friend recently. I’m not going to make any judgment on the diary piece in the Newyorker magazine it refers to. But I will copy one incredibly written but fabulously tangental paragraph from it.

“Why do we allow ourselves to be raped repeatededly [SIC] by the homosexual media? Who are they to invade our lives? They lure our teens and 20-somethings off into darkness with nasty promises. They violate the conscience of millions of Californians with activitst judges. They taunt the vulnerable even on our tv sets, adding subversive messages to every child’s show, from Glee to True Blood. And they are not finished yet. Once they grab the young generation from the real world, they are not even close to being finished. Who could describe or truly know what our Malthusian future holds? For now, they destroy our values with each stomp of their damp, musky sneakers on after-hours disco floors, crushing our very souls as harsh lights illuminate their flourescent Charlie Brown t-shirts and cocaine-pale faces and even then they find new frenzies, rubbing harder and harder into each other, aspiring to the perfect veneral opprobrium to all the hopes and dreams that people like Sarah Palin represent”.

I have a number of problems with this. I won’t go in to them all but

  • since when has True Blood been a child’s show?
  • was the Judge in California really activist? Or just implementing the law?
  • what are these hopes and dreams Sarah Palin represents?

It’s a wonderful piece of prose but the implication that the homosexual media lures people is plain wrong. You can’t be told to be gay. And where I lose all respect for the writer is the implication that homosexuals are all disco dancing drug fueled sex-maniacs. By all means – from your point of view – criticise 28, male, Williamsburg, gay [who wrote the Newyorker diary] but sweeping generalisations and aggressive assertions do nothing to sell your point of view to an intelligent reader. More importantly, though – how far off of the original point of view is this? And why say that Williamsburg is “stone’s throw away” from Ground Zero when that stone would have to be thrown over three miles, if not only to exaggerate outrage? This is moralising at tangents.

There’s a lot wrong with the gay scene. Attitude’s issues issue, and the Observer report on it, prove that clearly. But surely it would be far more constructive to seek to change that, to provide alternatives, to help the disproportionately large proportion of gays who suffer problems of mental health.

The fact that “the result of living as a stigmatised minority is that you self-medicate” with drug and sex addictions proves how much damage articles like ChristWire’s do. If that’s your point of view surely it’s better to do something proactive than moralising and making sweeping judgments.


NYC: Next Fall

7 March 2010

Last Tuesday, while I was still in New york, I went to see another Broadway show. The play, Next Fall, has had a magnificent welcome. Starting out last year off-Broadway it progressed and was in previews at on Broadway when I saw it.

It’s a play that deals with relationships between couples, parents, friends, and God. The relationship at the haeart of the play is a gay one. But it could be any one. I tend to connect with plays that have a theme about relationships (how could one be written without such?), but in particular gay oned (I also saw a tremendous piece of gay theatre off-Broadway, The Temprementals, while I was in New York). The play opening formally in March, was written by Geoffrey Nauffts and produced by Elton John and David Furnish.

Next Fall one opens in a hospital waiting room – a place where, no matter where in the world you are (New York, London, Bogota) the same emotions come to the fore: fear, worry, stress, loss, worry, concern… The story is about a gay couple and starts in what is, essentially, the final scene. It progresses with a series of flashbacks to tell the story of Luke, who ens up in a hospital bed, and his partner Adam.

The synopsis:

Luke believes in God. Adam believes in everything else. “Next Fall” portrays the ups and downs of this unlikely couple’s five-year relationship with sharp humor and unflinching honesty. And when an accident changes everything, Adam must turn to Luke’s family and friends for support… and answers.

The religion aspect is one which interests me in particular. Growing up ‘different’ and having a faith are things that are not necesarilly easilly reconcilable. They’re something that takes some personal struggle. And this play asked some uncomforable questions as part of the plot. But it also proved that understanding it requires a personal belief.

The play particularly shows how this, combined with family relationships, can cause gay people to remain uncomfortable. In a country where Proposition 8 has recently been introduced, to stop the progress that had recently been made on introducing gay marriage in the US, it’s a situation that remains, and a story that should be told. Ironically, Porposition 8 was voted for the same day as President Obama won the US presidential election – and this juxtaposition brought forward the ideaf for Next Fall.

At times, through the flashbacks, I felt like only part of the story was being told – I felt as though the struggle between faith and sexuality was not being fully explored. But alongside resolving the sixth character’s position the reason for Luke’s understanding of faith and exuality became clearer.

It was brilliantly acted, but – even more so – a fantastic, emotional funny and thought provoking well-written script. I’d gladly see it again, and I’d most likely well-up in the same way. If you get the chance to see this Play in New York, or wherever it is lucky enough to be produced next.

Read more here, see the show’s website here and twitter page here.


NYC: Signs of America

1 March 2010

There are some very amusing signs around New York. Here are just a few.

Receiving King Charles

The Midas Touch?


Boris Magic Touch – Incorporated

Anti-healthy health-food cafe/store


Earthmatters, Organic Foods, Free Delivery, We Are What We Fat

99 Cent Dreams


Red Hook, Brooklyn: “99 Cent Dreant, Everything 99 Cents or More”


Goods are clearly marked-up at 99 Cent Dream, Manhatten: “99 Cent Dreams, Everything $1 and Up”


That explains things a little more… They appear to have blacked-out the neon sign saying “Everything 99 Cents or Less”


NYC: Red Velvet

25 February 2010

Red Velvet cupcakes ARE New York.

Cup Cakes are ‘en-vogue’ in NYC right now. Stores selling them are everywhere, more varieties than you’d ever imagine existed (except for one store in Williamsburg I visited where a lady was selling just five types. She also had the door locked and had to buzz me in to enter. I never realised cupcakes were so precious). Although of course, like everything in America, they’re certainly bigger than their European cup cake cousins.

Red Velvet, I understand, is a favourite. They’re a cup cake based on the Red Velvet cake that became an NYC legend through the Waldorf-Astoria hotel. How they make the chocolate flavor cupcake red I really don’t want to know – never been a food colouring fan. But it is brilliantly done, smooth, choccy, sweet but not too sweet, with a cream cheese topping. Amazing.

Here’s one I ate earlier:

And here’s a recipe should you wish to make them.


NYC: “Valium is my favorite color”

23 February 2010

Next to Normal on Broadway

Next to Normal, a relatively new and award-winning musical on Broadway, was recommended to me by a number of different people. Being in New York, it was on the list of shows we had in mind to see.

Next to Normal is ‘Rent‘ for the desperate housewives generation. Out goes illegal drugs, squats, AIDS and angst-ridden love affairs, in comes prescription drugs, suburbia, depression and angst-ridden family relationships. It’s been described as not a feel-good show but a feel-everything show. I think I’d agree with that. It’s not an emotional rollercoaster like Rent but an emotion provoking ride nonetheless. Perhaps, I’d say, a little too much in a downward direction. It’s a single story, there’s no inter-twining of different story lines, which meant that subject matters of family relationships, grief and mental illness are dealt with with little humour of escapism (the rock star psychologist isn’t quite Rent’s moo-ing cow-belled Maureen). The story lacks the humour and hopefullness which drove the characters in Rent and in Spring Awakening. There’s no message of hope, nothing that is clearly driving the characters forward through the dispair they’re coping with, or not. And perhaps it was a little too close to the bone for the Broadway theatre crowd. Afterall, while they’re unlikely to be living with a rent boy in Alphabet City chances are they could very well be stranded in Diana’s suburban family-constrained mental distress. The story didn’t inspire me to change my own life, as good theatre often does (although perhaps I’m closer-related to the Rent/Spring Awakening characters than I am to these) nor did it provide the escapism I like to get from musical theatre.

However, it’s highly-praised score was performed brilliantly by a tiny cast – just six actors – cemented with amazing stamina by the lead actress Alice Ripley (who won the ‘Best Lead Actress in a Musical’ Tony award for this role in 2009). Her son in particular, played powerfully by Aaron Tveit complemented her extremely well.

Overall, a musical worth seeing, with brilliant performances.


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