RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars season 3 recaps

The shadiest Drag Race recaps on the web. Get ready to death drop, queens!

RuPaul's Drag Race recaps

YASS, HUNTIES! Seasons 6, 7, 8 and a bit of 9 recapped for your reading pleasure. Let's get sickening!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Fear and loathing in Adelaide's violent streets


If you haven't been to New York in the last 20 years, you may be under the impression that it's a dangerous city overrun by muggers, junkies and bandana-wearing gang members of the “that's not a knife, this is a knife” variety.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Incredible Inedibles: Marshmallow Fluff

Roadtesting the iconic American spread, and the famous "Fluffernutter".

Here's a good rule of thumb for living: If the thing you're about to eat can be described as "soft", "sticky" and "white", it probably isn't technically food. (No matter what he says.)

Like toothpaste. Or plaster of Paris. Or the filling of a Twinkie. Or Marshmallow Fluff.



Yes, this actually exists.


I've subjected myself to some truly weird foods for your reading pleasure over the years. But never before have I had to eat something that looked like it came from Bunnings' sealants aisle.

This might explain:

You can get it in a woodgrain stain for an extra $5.

What IS this shit? The label says it's a blend of corn syrup, sugar, "dried egg white" and vanillin, and according to MarshmallowFluff.com, it's "the finest marshmallow creme anywhere!". (Note to Marshmallow Fluff: It's probably the ONLY "marshmallow creme" anywhere. No one else wants this crap, trust me.)

Its best known use is in the iconic American "Fluffernutter", a migraine-inducing sandwich made with Marshmallow Fluff and peanut butter. If that's not revolting enough for you, why not try bunging it in a bowl with some sweet potatoes and canned pineapple for a holiday treat? PRO TIP: Use the giant Marshmallow Fluff tub as a vomit receptacle after the meal!



"YAY IT'S HEALTHY!" - a total moron.


To be fair, Marshmallow Fluff isn't really even PRETENDING to be food. I mean, take the name: "fluff". If a company names a product after something you scrape off the carpet and dig out of your navel, and you still insist on eating it, they really can't be blamed for any negative side effects you experience.

Speaking of which, "negative" pretty much sums up my reaction to eating Marshmallow Fluff. It is blindingly white, like shaving cream is and food should never be, and it's unnervingly goopy and airy at the same time. Stick your finger in and it might pull up long, sticky strands like pizza cheese, or it might bring up a puffy blob resembling melty ice cream.



This has to be good for you, right?


Here's another good rule of thumb: If the thing you're about to eat actually eats your spoon before you get a chance, you probably shouldn't go near it.



This took approximately five minutes. I swear I didn't touch it.


Lucky for you I'm not a scaredy cat who's afraid of some sort of T-1000 sandwich spread. The Fluff may have won the first round, but I had a whole DRAWER full of spoons and I wasn't afraid to use them.

So, the taste. Well, you know sugar? It tastes like that. A LOT OF THAT. It also has a very thick, greasy mouth feel, rather like you're deliberately coating the inside of your mouth with sugar flavoured lard.



On the plus side, my tongue was all ready to swim the Channel after just one Fluffernutter.


But I figured no taste test of Marshmallow Fluff would be complete without trying the world famous Fluffernutter. Unfortunately I didn't have any bread so was forced to use a hamburger bun, but then I realised that made it EVEN MORE American and therefore at least 230 per cent more awesome than a regular Fluffernutter.



Peanut butter on one side, Fluff on the other, as per Fluffernutter Advisory Board (FAB) official instructions.


I wrapped the Stars and Stripes around my head, Axl-Rose-style, put Miley Cyrus' Party in the USA on full blast and yelled "GOD BLESS AMERICA!" as I shoved the yankee sanger in my mouth.




This has got to be one of the saddest images I've ever seen.


Now listen here, America. I know your food is very awesome in lots of ways. Your fruit is delicious and cheap. You make salads like no one else on the planet. And your hamburgers - well, I would commit several illegal things just to bite into one. BUT NO ONE NEEDS A SANDWICH THAT TASTES LIKE A CANDY BAR. The sandwich says "lunch" but the sugar says "dessert". WHICH IS IT?

Basically, a Fluffernutter tastes like what you'd get if a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup mated with a bag of molten sugar, had a baby S'more and then spread its afterbirth all over some bread.

Obviously, it was delicious. In a "goodbye cruel world, there's nothing left to live for so I might as well eat this shitty sugar poison cocktail" kind of way.

But I rather value my life, so I stopped after two bites.

Now I have a giant tub of Marshmallow Fluff that I don't know what to do with. Anyone need any cutlery hidden?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Incredible Inedibles: Matzo Ball Soup

Once upon a time I worked in an American restaurant in a rather posh suburb of Adelaide.

There aren't many American restaurants in Adelaide. Or actually, anywhere.

That's because when most Australians think of American food, they think of this:

Except for maybe the sushi, I think that comes from Canada.

Which is fine, of course, but generally not served in the sort of restaurant you want to take a date to (unless maybe you're on a blind date and you've decided you don't like them after all, and you want to try and get rid of them. Then you could take them to "Jake's All You Can Eat Americano Grub Shack" and you'd be sure to never see them again.)

The problem was this restaurant didn't serve hot dogs and fries and burgers, or even Canadian sushi. It served rather nice modern American cuisine like crab cakes and New York strip steak and clam chowder and wanted to be thought of as more like this:

"More American delights, sir?"
Their image was not helped by the fact that they described themselves as an "eatery", which tends to make people think of a room lined with feed troughs, rather than the type of place one feels enthusiastic about spending $70 on a bottle of wine.

Inevitably, the yawning chasm between diners' expectations and the reality of the restaurant was sufficient enough to keep the dining room empty roughly 90 per cent of the time, so I spent most nights doing stocktake (fairly simple when nothing actually gets used) and polishing tables that were already shinier than Alex Perry's head.

Yes, shinier than THIS.
After a while I got bored of being paid to stand around doing nothing on Saturday nights (I was young and stupid - now I'm in my 30s, this is actually my dream job description) so I quit, and the whole thing went down the gurgler not long after. I can't claim the two events were related, but... you know. I WAS a pretty good waitress.

Anyway apart from exceptional table-polishing skills, the eatery did teach me a few things.

Like the difference between Manhattan and Boston clam chowders (Manhattan is tomato based, Boston is cream based); and what "pulled pork" and "jerk chicken" are (hint: they're delicious, and not at all sexual); and how to deal with a drunk, depressed chef (you avoid him, no matter how much his manager wife begs you, a 19 year old, to pull him into line).

And about matzo ball soup. The Eatery served a delicious home-made version of this iconic Jewish dish and I used to eat it there most days before my shift. As far as I know they were the only place serving it in Adelaide, and it died there along with the manager's dreams.

So when I discovered this in my local supermarket (which, as I've previously discussed, is awesome) and discovered all it involved was egg and oil, I began to realise why the eatery's $12 version hadn't been too popular.

I tried to find one with increased sodium, but they were out.
Anyway it stayed in my kitchen cupboard for two whole months while I busied myself with being distracted by New York's incredible array of take-out options and not cooking anything at all, ever. Then today I got a cold, and it was MATZO BALL TO THE RESCUE!


Step one: Beat two eggs and two tablespoons of oil, then add the matzo mix, helpfully described as "packet one" on the box. Except neither of the two packets of powder had any markings, and there were no further instructions anywhere. I looked around for a nearby Jew to ask, but there were none. (And they say there are so many in New York - rubbish!).

I almost broke down from the mental turmoil this situation caused, but eventually guessed the more floury of the two powders was probably the matzo, and ended up with this, which looked right.

Very thick and sticky.
Step two: Put the matzo mix in the fridge for 15 minutes. In the meantime, boil 10 cups of water and add the soup mix (aka "packet two", aka "the packet you didn't use before").

Step three: With wet hands, roll the matzo mix into one-inch balls. Make sure you take the opportunity to make some jokes about small Jewish balls.

Cute little things.
Step four: Drop the balls in the boiling soup. Make a joke about dropping balls (here's one: "Oy vey, my balls just dropped!"). Turn the heat down, put a lid on the pot and simmer for 20 minutes.

Step five: Open the lid and FREAK OUT at how much the balls have grown in size. And yes, make a joke about balls growing.

Don't plotz, they're supposed to look like this.
Step six: Bung in a bowl. Bite into a matzo ball and taste the rich, delicious egginess soaked in chickeny, salty soupness. Let eyes roll back in head. Feel flu symptoms start to subside.

Oy vey.

If you'd like to make matzo balls but can't find matzo meal, apparently you can substitute crushed up unsalted crackers. Then just follow this recipe.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Blind tasting a surreal experience

New York's hottest new restaurant fad transports diners to the dark side.

As soon as I walked through the door I was gasping for breath, my pulse racing, my hands shaking.

I felt like someone had wrapped a heavy cloak around my whole body and was pushing me down by the shoulders. I closed my eyes and tried to ignore the voices in my head begging me to turn around and walk back to safety.

I was totally freaking out - and I'd only been in the restaurant for 60 seconds.

Yes, a restaurant. I wasn't preparing to bungee jump or dive with sharks or tightrope across Niagara Falls, or anything even vaguely life threatening.

But I was experiencing the most intense darkness I've ever... er... NOT seen, at New York's hottest new fad restaurant “Dans Le Noir”.

Rather ironically located four blocks south of Times Square, the neon light capital of the universe, Dans Le Noir is a restaurant in which patrons pay to “dine in the dark”.

From the moment your waiter – or “guide” as they're referred to at DLN - leads you into the dining room you are in complete darkness. You can't see the other people on your communal table, you can't see your food, you certainly can't admire the décor, if there even is any. You can't even make out vague shapes of things.

You see nothing. At. All.

Rather like this.

Until this week I was able to say with some confidence that I was not afraid of the dark. Now I realise that's only because I never really knew what “the dark” was.

True darkness, of the sort you are forced into at Dans Le Noir, is oppressive and heavy and quite frightening. You feel a bit like you're being smothered, and it's difficult to breathe at first. When you close your eyes, there is no difference.

It's the closest I ever hope to come to being blind – which many of the restaurant's waiters actually are.

But after your brain finally accepts that it is still, in fact, working and that the body in which it resides is not in any mortal danger, you begin to relax and focus on enjoying your invisible food - which is supposedly the whole point of the thing.

Nightvision shot of diners being led to their table at Dans Le Noir, Paris.

In the absence of sight, you are told, your other senses are heightened so you may appreciate your meal in different ways.

With the menu kept secret until the end, you have to rely on your nose and tastebuds to determine what you're eating. And, I'm slightly ashamed to admit, your hands. (Well YOU try using a knife and fork with your eyes closed and see how far you get.)

You soon become aware how much you depend on your sight to determine the most basic things. I was surprised to discover what I thought was roast chicken was roast boar, and the cheese sauce I'd tasted was actually vanilla cream – mistakes I like to think I wouldn't have made if I'd seen the food.

At $79 a head it's a pretty costly undertaking – given you could possibly just eat with your hands in the dark at home for free.

But as our vision impaired guide led us, squinting, back out into the light-filled lobby I realised that as a reminder of how wonderful it is to be able to see, it was priceless.

---

This article was first published in the Adelaide City Messenger on June 27, 2012.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Alternative Emmys - my picks

Forget Best Actor and Best Drama - these Emmy Award category suggestions are way more fun.

Can you hear that distant whooshing sound?

No, it's not a wormhole into a parallel universe opening up in your backyard (although you should probably check anyway, now that I think about it). It's the inhabitants of TV Land taking a collective breath and holding it in anticipation of the Primetime Emmy nominations, set to be announced in Hollywood on July 19.

People say the Emmys are like television's equivalent of the Oscars, but I think they're  more like the Golden Globes in that no one really takes them seriously and no one who actually votes in them seems to know what a comedy is. Also, Mad Men always wins everything.

There aren't likely to be many surprises this year. Tina Fey will get something, Big Bang Theory will probably pop up somewhere, as will Homeland, and everyone will continue pretending Modern Family is still funny.

So I've come up with a list of alternative awards I'd like to see given out instead.

UNLIKELIEST SEX SYMBOL: Peter Dinklage in Game of Thrones

Tall, dark and handsome might be the norm for on-screen hunks, but as acid-tongued dwarf Tyrion Lannister Dinklage has proven short, blonde and a bit rough around the edges works just as well. He may be no taller than a mailbox but women everywhere have fallen for his sharp wit and steamy bedroom antics in this medieval fantasy drama.



ACTOR MOST LIKELY TO INSPIRE CONFLICTING EMOTIONS IN FEMALE VIEWERS: Aaron Paul in Breaking Bad.

As Jesse Pinkman, the beleaguered young assistant to New Mexico drug kingpin Walter White, Paul manages to fall somewhere between being the bad dude you were too afraid to date in your 20s and the broken little boy you wish you could fix.

One minute you're swooning over his handsome, tough exterior, then the next you want to give him a cuddle and a cup of hot Milo and tell him everything will be alright. And then you remember that he's a methamphetamine manufacturer who's murdered people, and you sort of want him to be locked up. Confusing.

LEAST NECESSARY REALITY SHOW: Snooki and JWoww.

A hotly contested category – Bristol Palin: Life's a Tripp came a close second – but this Jersey Shore spin off was doomed as soon as Snooki announced she was pregnant. With partying, boozing and random hookups off the menu, just what are viewers supposed to tune in for? The sparkling repartee?





MOST AWKWARD SEX SCENE: Louis C.K in Louie

It's difficult to go past actress/writer/director Lena Dunham, whose portrayal of 20-something intimacy in HBO series Girls has to be watched through slotted fingers. But her fumbling pales in comparison to comedian C.K's hilariously cringe-making attempt at seduction in his own sitcom, Louie. In episode two, when his bedroom role-playing causes his lover to cry about her father, it's nothing short of disturbing.

THE HIS 'N' HERS AWARD FOR SERVICES TO INTIMATE RELATIONS: True Blood

Abs. Boobs. Bums. Legs. Pashing. Neck sucking. And, er... well, you get the drift. This sexy vampire horror-comedy has enough flesh in enough permutations to get virtually anyone's blood pumping.











THE GOOGLE AWARD FOR WEIRDEST SEARCH ENGINE PHRASE INSPIRED BY A SHOW: Mad Men 

Three words: “zous bisous bisous”. Or is that “zoobie zoobie zoo”? Or “zu bizu bizu”...?





What award categories would you like to see at this year's Emmys?

---

This article was first published in the Adelaide Sunday Mail's TV Guide on June 30, 2012.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Beverly Hills 90210 GIF recap: S1 E1

We open on a lone surfer riding the waves in slow motion to the strains of The Beach Boys' Surf City, which, for all you younger readers, was a totally hip summer track all the kids were listening to in the early '90s.

Then suddenly, for no reason, we cut to Brandon who appears to be doing some breathing exercises inside a tent he's constructed using an inside-out Slip 'n' Slide and a couple of garden sprinklers.

"MUM, TURN THE HOSE DOWN!"

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Beverly Hills 90210 GIF recap: S1 Pilot P2

We last left our friends from West Beverly in a bit of a cliffhanger, with Brenda stuck alone inside the Blue Iguana nightclub after being the only one to convince the bouncer that Minnesota drivers' licenses are issued in pencil.

Even though it's only 9pm, the club is pumping - although that might be because it appears to be hosting someone's wedding reception.


What? In Beverly Hills EVERYONE wears tuxedos to nightclubs.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

How to look awesome walking into a room

The musical superpower that increases your awesomeness by at least 178 per cent.

If you get drunk and stay past your welcome at enough house parties, eventually you will find yourself sitting around with a bunch of equally drunk strangers throwing around questions like "Who would play you in the movie of your life?" and "Would you rather eat a kilo of butter or a drink a litre of honey?".

"Wait, what? No, I already had both of those. Now I'm having this burger."

And invariably, usually at around 3.30am, someone will ask: "If you had a superpower, what would it be?"

While other people usually give predictable answers like "invisibility" or "flying" or "a packet of Tim Tams that never runs out" (not a superpower, by the way), I have a different opinion.

Firstly, everyone knows invisibility is better than flying because a) flying would be FUCKING FREEZING, and where do you put your bags, and b) invisible people can sneak onto aeroplanes and fly wherever they want first class for free anyway.

That aside, my answer to the superpower question is this: I would like a badass soundtrack and a slow motion effect every time I enter a room.

Imagine if every time you stepped out of the elevator at work everyone got a solid gold burst of "Eye of the Tiger" or something. They'd all know you were totally boss. Even your boss would know you were boss.

And so just in case I discover a genie in an antique lamp and he offers me this superpower, I have chosen a list of songs for my personal soundtrack playlist.

To demonstrate their effectiveness I present the below "walking in slow motion down the hallway" scene of Emma Stone from Easy A (because in my dream, when I have this superpower, I will also look like this).

Watch the GIF, click the songs. Be impressed.


"Simon Says" - Pharaohe Monch

Simon Says by Pharoahe Monch on Grooveshark Ideally, the first 10 seconds would be played as I walked UP to the door/crowd, with the rest playing as I walked IN to the room/hallway full of adoring students.


"Blue Blood Blues" - The Dead Weather

Blue Blood Blues by The Dead Weather on Grooveshark A sexier "walk down the hall" song you couldn't hope to find. I practically want to copulate with the stereo every time I hear it.


"99 Problems" - Jay Z

99 Problems by Jay-Z on Grooveshark Picture yourself slamming open some double doors and loping into a party, taking someone's beer from their hand on the way, as everyone turns and stares at you in awe. PICTURE IT.


"No Sex For Ben" - The Rapture

No Sex For Ben by The Rapture on Grooveshark For those days you need to walk down a hallway full of people who are all lusting after you, and you're all like "Ew, as IF." I have those days ALL the time.


"Watch Out" - Atmosphere

Watch Out by Atmosphere on Grooveshark You know you're awesome. You're awesome walking down a hallway.

So, what about you? What's your awesome slow-mo superpower hallway song?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Beverly Hills 90210 GIF recap: S1 Pilot P1

It's morning in Beverly Hills. Sunshine is glinting off expensive automobiles, birds are chirping from nests made out of $100 bills and inside a large house a wig is sleeping.

No wait, it's our protagonist Brandon Walsh, who isn't a wig but a 21-year-old man with a perfectly sculpted 1950s ducktail hairdo pretending to be 16. Brandon and his family have just moved to Beverly Hills from Minneapolis, and he's just about to burst into the opening refrain of "When You're A Jet" when he remembers he has to explain the plot instead.

"First day of school, strange city, new house, no friends - I'm psyched," he announces to the empty room, in exactly the same way a normal person wouldn't.


Psyched (adj.)ˈ/saɪk/: '90s term to describe enthusiasm.
Ie: "I'm so psyched about being a Jet."

SHUT UP, you're at the movies!

New Yorkers love to talk - all the way through movies.

Last week I went to see The Avengers, a superhero movie in which lots of things explode and lots of other things go crash and everyone yells for about two and a half hours.

With the exception of the baby I recently saw at the post office that was doing an uncannily accurate impression of a fire engine, The Avengers is possibly the loudest thing I've ever witnessed.

So it's a testament to the vocal abilities of New Yorkers that I could barely hear any of it over the top of the audience's chattering.

While Iron Man, Captain America and Thor were noisily destroying New York City brick by brick, girlfriends loudly discussed who was the best looking superhero while mates whooped and hollered at every special effect and screaming children ran free in the aisles.

The man next to me even took a phone call (which, surprisingly enough, began with “Hey, I'm at the movies...”).

"Can you speak up? Everyone around me is making this annoying shushing noise."

Sadly, just like Thor's magical hammer after he fell to earth, my shushing had no effect on any of them. They were The Unshushables. 

The thing is, this wasn't an unusual audience. It wasn't, say, comprised of members of the National Society of Complete Tools on their annual get-together, or anything like that. It was just a group of typical New Yorkers, doing what typical New Yorkers do at the movies: talk.

Unless you go to indie cinemas (good luck seeing The Avengers there) or matinee screenings (and what am I, 60?) you will encounter this, and worse, behaviour in this city.

Incessant talking is bad enough, but you won't know true cinematic pain until you've settled in for a  screening of The Hunger Games behind someone with a tenuous grasp of irony stuffing their face with nachos, or a pizza, or hot dogs - WHICH THEY SELL AT THE CONCESSION STAND. Yes, you are actually encouraged to eat a stinky, steamy meal at the movies.

And try sitting back and enjoying Prometheus while the person next to you plays Angry Birds on their mobile phone the entire time – WITH THE SOUND ON.

When I saw The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (which could hardly be accused of being a dull film) the guy in front of me spent the duration checking his text messages and darting out the door. I was convinced he was dealing drugs, which frankly would have been the only sane explanation for why he'd spent $20 on a film he wasn't going to watch.

Back in Adelaide, I'd avoid going to the cinema for much slighter reasons. Not being able to park right out the front, for example, or having to sit next to someone who breathed a bit too heavily.

But after nine months and at least six films either wholly or partially ruined by New Yorkers, I now see that Adelaide cinemas are a veritable paradise of serenity and good manners.

So next time you're at the movies and the person behind you starts crinkling their choc-top wrapper and rattling their Kool Fruits just relax, and remember: they could be crunching nachos.

---

This article was first published in Messenger News on June 7, 2012.

White Stripes 'Conquest' backwards is badass

YouTube proves Jack White is even more awesome in reverse.

As all-encompassing as my  love  for  Jack  White  is, even I have my occasional limits (no, really). One of those limits is The White Stripes' cover of Conquest, off 2007 album Icky Thump.

It kinda sucks. I mean, it's sort of passable up until about 1.06... then it sucks. Then it gets good again around 2.30... then it goes straight back to Sucktown.



The video isn't much better.

But today I discovered something amazing. Thanks to an enterprising soul on YouTube, I now know that Conquest is 187% improved by playing the song backwards. 



What do you think?

Beverly Hills 90210 GIF recaps

In case you hadn't noticed, the 1990s are back in fashion again. Everyone's wearing high waisted coloured jeans and Converse sneakers and Wayfarer sunnies, worrying about AIDS* and reminiscing about cassette tapes they've never actually used but have heard their mums and dads talking about. (*may not actually be true.)

Sadly it seems the only '90s relic that hasn't yet been resurrected is decent rock music, so we're all stuck listening to Gotye and Lana Del Rey while the Red Hot Chili Peppers try and work out how to stop being shit.

Once all the 20-somethings realise how drastically awful crochet is, how bodysuits really don't flatter everyone and how Doc Martens don't actually go with everything, I'm sure the trend will die out. But in the meantime I figured I might as well jump on the '90s bandwagon and try to discover what the new generation finds so entrancing about this glorious decade of my youth by reliving it - through episodes of Beverly Hills 90210.

Who the hell is that kid on the right?


Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Top 5 web TV series to waste time on

Want edgy comedy and inspiring drama? Switch off your television. 

Remember when Australian free-to-air television was really provocative and daring? When the commercial networks took risks with programming and ran intelligent, thought-provoking drama and edgy comedy that occasionally fell outside “mainstream” interests?

Nah, me neither.

So thank goodness for high speed internet and the wonders of streaming web video, or we'd all be stuck watching two-year-old, already axed American shows and endless repeats of Young Talent Time or whatever other 1980s reject they're reworking this week. (And just quietly, Channel Nine, I've got one word for you: Chances. Just think about it.)

The web has proven fertile ground for innovative and intelligent film makers from around the world, which means there is a plethora of free drama and comedy series at your fingertips just waiting to be discovered.

Bored with TV? Switch on your laptop, whip out your smartphone or fire up your iPad and check out:



BONDI HIPSTERS

Everybody loves poking fun at hipsters – they eat organic tofu, wear 1990s fashion in “ironic” ways and say things like “totes amazeballs”, so laughing at them is inevitable. Even more so in this hilarious weekly web series by Australian YouTube kings Christiaan Van Vuuren (who you may remember from his 2009 “fully sick rapper” viral video) and Nick Boshier (2008 YouTube sensation “Trent from Punchy”). As permanently vagued-out Bondi Beach locals Dom and Adrian, the duo share their insights on fashion, music and picking up chicks.

...

EVENT ZERO

The explosive premiere of this new seven-part Aussie drama, which launched on May 22, hints at a series reminiscent of terrorist thriller 24 crossed with apocalyptic horror flick 28 Days. It begins with emergency workers rushing to a violent train derailment in the centre of Sydney. But as seemingly unharmed victims pulled from the wreckage start dying of unexplained causes it becomes clear something much more sinister and mysterious is unfolding.

...

WEB THERAPY

Lisa Kudrow may have been the least funny Friend (it's OK, we can admit that now) but she's broken new comedic ground with this improvised series in which she plays Fiona Wallace, a therapist with limited patience for people with problems. She keeps her therapy sessions – conducted via internet video chat - to a tight three minutes, leading to some very unhelpful (but very amusing) advice.


...

CULINARY PROPAGANDA

Are you a self-loathing vegan? Do you want to annoy a vegan? Try this offbeat cooking show, in which chef of indeterminate Eastern European origin “Szef Bartek” teaches you a range of recipes and kitchen skills you never knew you wanted, rapidly intercut with retro footage and music. This is probably what 1950s communist propaganda would have looked like if MTV had made it. (Also: the recipes are actually pretty good.)

...

WIGS

Terrible name notwithstanding (it apparently stands for “where it gets interesting”), this YouTube channel was devised by Black Swan producer Jon Avnet and Sideways actress Virginia Madsen to create episodic web dramas featuring quality roles for women. So far the channel has more than 20 videos divided between two storylines starring such names as Jennifer Garner (left) and True Blood actor Stephen Moyer.

---

This article was first published in the Adelaide Sunday Mail's TV Guide on June 2, 2012.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Latin American TV is mental

You know how The Simpsons always pokes fun at Latin American television with "the bumblebee man" - a guy dressed as a giant bee who frequently falls over, or has eggs thrown at him, or gets hit in the head with a toaster and says "Ay ay ay, no me gusta!"?

Well I can tell you Latin American TV is nothing like that.

Giant bees? No!

Giant dwarves, yes.




Meanwhile, if anyone can tell what is actually going on in this scene, you're doing better than me.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Rock heaven: Jack White and Alabama Shakes at the Roseland, NYC

A sort-of review of Jack White's May 22 gig at NYC's Roseland Ballroom.

Long time readers of Bland Canyon know that I have what could be called "a mild crush" on rock star Jack White.

Actually, to call it "a mild crush" would be rather like describing September 11 as "a bit of a bad day"; I am utterly obsessed with him to the point of embarrassing myself.

Seriously, just looking at this photo makes me need to lie down. I'm not actually joking.

I've written about him a lot on here: About the time I got to see him and Bob Dylan in concert and almost fainted from delight, about how I wanted to do things to him even when he went through that weird Spanish Willy Wonka phase, how he turned me on as a Simpsons character and also is basically God, and a dream I had in which I lied to his band mate about being poisoned by bad prawns. That was a weird one.

So I like to think it was serendipity when one day a few months ago I thought "I wonder if Jack White's doing any shows anywhere?" and discovered tickets to his two New York shows at the Roseland Ballroom were going on sale the very next morning. SNAP! It was meant to be, etc. etc.

So it was that last night Barilski (the man responsible for introducing me to the White Stripes and starting this whole mess) and I trotted off to 52nd Street and walked under this marquee, feeling very smug and superior as sad-eyed people outside murmured "Do you have any spares?"

YEAH, I have a spare ticket to a sold-out show which hundreds of people are willing to sell their internal organs to get into, and I didn't think to scalp it before going inside. YOU'RE SMART.

That last pic is the only one I actually have from last night because the audience was requested not to take photographs during the concert.

"Jack asks that you all put your phones and cameras away and just enjoy the music - there will be professional photos available for you to download from his website," they announced.

My first reaction to this was "WHAT THE F***?", quickly followed by "Actually, that's a great idea." 

Remember the days before mobile phone cameras when people at concerts used to, you know, listen to the music instead of trying to take shitty pictures of everything? Jack White does, and he'd like to go back there thanks. And I'm with him. Because you know what, if Jack White tells you to do something, YOU DO IT, BEEYATCH.

Did I buy merch? YOU BET YOUR SWEET ONE I DID. I bought a T shirt, natch. Meanwhile, here are some Jack White lyrics I would like to have a on a T shirt, none of which was available on any T shirts sold last night:








I actually think the top three would sell quite well.
(I REALLY DO want that first one though.)

Enough about merch - HOW WAS THE SHOW? Pfft. Do you really need to ask?

IT WAS GOD DAMN AMAZING.


The mood was set by the warm up band, blues rockers the Alabama Shakes, whose lead singer/guitarist Brittany Howard was so incendiary the mic almost caught fire. I have decided that if I can't marry Jack White, I would like to marry her, please. She sounded like the love child of a three-way between Amy Winehouse, Nina Simone and Janis Joplin, and sang like her life depended on it - wailing, howling and shaking while absolutely shredding her guitar. 

You've never seen a chick in glasses rock so fucking hard. (Photo source)

As you may have guessed from the title, "warm up bands" are supposed to warm up the crowd, not douse them in kerosene and set them on fire. This was unprecedented. When they left the stage Barilski and I both looked at each other and said "Jack White's going to have to put in some effort to top that." 

Yes, for a moment we both doubted the world's greatest guitar player and king of rock MIGHT not better the Alabama Shakes - THAT'S HOW GOOD THEY WERE.

And then. THEN. The lights dimmed, the hot all-lady band The Peacocks wandered out and then....

OH HAI. (Picture source)
(Side note: I think this was from an earlier concert on this tour, but this is how he looked last night)

With the release of his first solo album Blunderbuss Jack has dropped the traditional red, white and black colour scheme he adopted with the White Stripes and reinvented himself in blue. Dressed in a 1960s-style, slim-fitting blue mod suit and black shirt the six-foot-two guitar god looked... well, I think you can guess how this slick outfit made me feel.




A bit like this.


Without a word he came straight out the gate with the blistering Sixteen Saltines before busting into Missing Pieces which his drummer kindly fucked up for everyone, forcing Jack to sing weirdly off beat for the whole first verse. Sadly he didn't kick the drums over or smash a guitar over her head or anything rock and roll like that; instead he subtly and very professionally pulled a guitar solo, reset the song and kept going. Nice work, Jack.

"Hello New York! What do you want me to play?" he asked, as everyone screamed.

"Tell me what to play and I'll play it!" 





Play anything you damn well like, my lover. (Photo source)

He threw in plenty of nuggets for the long time fans - the White Stripes' Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground, We're Going to be Friends, a rocking Hardest Button to Button and a sped-up, ultra countrified Hotel Yorba.

He also played a few songs from his other, other band The Raconteurs and an EXTREMELY hot version of Blue Blood Blues by his other, other, other band The Dead Weather, which is in the running for a new award: The Song That Most Makes Me Want To Do Dirty Things As Soon As I Hear It Award. This video (not from last night) should explain why:





As if it couldn't get hotter than that, Jack busted out a fully pumped-up-rock-and-roll-on-steroids version of The White Stripes' Ball and Biscuit to finish in ball-tearing style. Given Ball and Biscuit is already one of the sexiest songs of all time, when you pump it full of dexys and then turn the testosterone level up to 11, you have a song that makes me do this:




This was the sexiest gif I could find. Sorry.


So there I was - the lights back on, Jack and his band gone, and me stuck in the middle of a sweaty crowd licking my lips and thinking sinful thoughts and wondering what I could do with myself that wouldn't get me arrested.

AND THEN, ALL OF A SUDDEN - the lights dropped, the curtains along the SIDE of the auditorium parted, and there was Jack and his other, all-male band, ready to kick a surprise encore on a second stage that had previously been the VIP seating area.

The entire room went spastic. The whole crowd turned to the right and rushed the new, previously hidden stage on which bewildered and formerly seated VIP guests were now being shooed to the sides by security, as Jack fired up his guitar for the most balls-to-the-wall rock set I have ever seen IN MY ENTIRE LIFE.

Ever since I first saw the White Stripes live at the Big Day Out in 2006 I have wanted to see Jack White perform Black Math, from the album Elephant. This is because it is an arse-tearingly good rock song, and one of my all-time favourites that I like to blast on repeat for up to 12 hours at a time.

SO IMAGINE HOW NUTS I WENT WHEN HE KICKED THE ENCORE OFF WITH IT LAST NIGHT.

It was kind of like this.

Could it get any better? Yes, it could. Next was another of my favourite songs, The Dead Weather's I Cut Like A Buffalo, a souped-up rock and hip-hop hybrid of a song drenched in Wurlitzer and crunchy guitar, and then The White Stripes' version of Catch Hell Blues

At this point I was moshing like a freak and covered in so much sweat I swear I was shaking droplets on people next to me. Sorry about that, people.

"IF YOU'RE GETTIN' TRICKY LYIN' TO YOURSELF YOU'RE GONNA CATCH HELL!" he wailed, as I tried not to faint from water loss and rock-god exposure and thought "ARE YOU KIDDING ME, JACK? MARRY ME GOD DAMMIT."

Just as I was wondering if the concert was going to go on forever, a notion I would not have been at all disappointed with, Jack got the room clapping a beat - and like a single, buzzing hive-mind, we all knew what to do.

"NA NA-NA-NA NA-NA, NAAAAAAAA," we chanted, which you of course recognise is the riff from Seven Nation Army

With the entire sold-out room chanting like a soccer crowd at the World Cup, Jack played and sang over the top and, WOW. I thought I was sick of that song but this totally reinvented it, reminded me why we all loved it so much in the first place.

And with a quick "Goodnight and thank you", he was gone.

In a word: Incredible.

In a few more words: One of the best, most energetic, joyful, surprising and generous performances I've ever seen anyone give ever. Jack White is sex AND talent, he clearly respects his fans and he can't be topped.

AND I GET TO SEE HIM AGAIN AT LOLLAPALOOZA

Expect another hysterical post in August...


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POST SCRIPT: This magical unicorn of a concert was almost entirely ruined by two total arseholes next to me who insisted on talking all the way through it, and refused to shut up despite being asked to by THREE people (including me). This douchebaggery, and the ensuing thoughts of violence and murderous rage it inspired in me, will be the subject of a subsequent post. But as a small preview, they looked like this

I typed "douchebag couple" into Google images and this is what I got, and I SWEAR it looks EXACTLY like them.