Monday, October 30, 2006

Dirty? Oh yeah baby!

You see a surprising amount of good theatre in Australia - up to two years before you see it in the UK - because a surprising number of theatre producers live in Australia, and it is a superb test market for the USA and UK. Which is why we saw a Dirty Dancing preview two weeks ago on the recommendation of Universal Mother-In-Law, who visited recently from Brisbane.

Being male, I am a bit cynical about Dirty Dancing. And, in much the same way that Universal Wifey has never seen any of the Star Wars movies, and cares not for The Godfather I, II or III; I never bothered to see the Dirty Dancing when it was a film. Which is why I found myself standing outside the Aldwych theatre with two Dirty Dancing tickets in my hand, waiting for Universal Wifey to arrive directly from her flight from Switzerland.

First the theatre. (Well, you don't want me to ploughing straight in there, do you girls - gratification is better delayed.) The Aldwych theatre has been extensively re-modelled in time for Dirty Dancing so the steats work without squeaking, the bathrooms are functional, the paint un-chipped, the carpet not the slightest bit sticky and the chandeleir cleaned and polished to twinkly gorgeousness - so make sure you walk down the front to buy an icecream or a bottle of water from the vendors in the auditorium so you can stand in line and look up the the building - it really is fabulous.

Now the performance. I would like to trash it as "...soft porn for women..." as the Sunday Times already has, but I think that is short-changing it. Sure it is largely a platform for Josef Brown's rippling V-shaped torso to be paraded atop his thrusting, black-denim-clad groin; sure the singing is of the quality you usually expect from dancers; sure the storyline is a fine gossamer thread tenuously linking opportunities to dance, sing or see Josef Brown's rippling V-shaped torso paraded atop his thrusting, black-denim-clad groin; and sure the audience is 70% daughters of the eighties and their mothers, who become one gagging, gibbering mess by the end of it. But there is enough to keep gentlemen entertained too: first you will be surprised that the story consists of more than boy-meets-girl, they dance, they kiss, they dance, end of holiday; second you get see Georgina Rich writhing around in all her curvy, girl-next-door, innocent-yet-dirty,-teenage-sexbomb, dancing, singing glory; third, if Georgina is too subtle for you, Nadine Coote spends a good part of the performance wearing something black and sprayed on; and if that isn't enough, she dances with Georgina Rich enough for you to delude yourself that it's girl-on-girl action.

So, in sort, it's not soft porn for women. It's soft porn for everyone. It's about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on; it's a sure-thing on a first date and it's going to run for about as long as testosterone and estrogen come packaged in boys and girls.

Dirty Dancing
Aldwych Theatre, London, WC2B 4DF
Phone 020 7279 3367
Tickets £25-£55 from ticketmaster on 0870 400 0805

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I would have helped if I understood all the questions

Having been religiuosly confused for some time - I think of myself as spiritual, rather than pious - I thought I would have a look at Beliefnet's Belief-0-matic.

It's summary of my religious proclivities is:
1. Neo-Pagan (100%)
2. Mahayana Buddhism (84%)
3. New Age (80%)
4. Unitarian Universalism (76%)
5. Reform Judaism (70%)
6. Hinduism (69%)
7. Sikhism (69%)
8. Liberal Quakers (68%)
9. New Thought (68%)
10. Scientology (67%)
11. Theravada Buddhism (65%)
12. Orthodox Judaism (55%)
13. Bah�'� Faith (52%)
14. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (52%)
15. Jainism (52%)
16. Taoism (52%)
17. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (52%)
18. Secular Humanism (45%)
19. Islam (41%)
20. Orthodox Quaker (31%)
21. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (30%)
22. Eastern Orthodox (30%)
23. Roman Catholic (30%)
24. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (28%)
25. Nontheist (28%)
26. Jehovah's Witness (19%)
27. Seventh Day Adventist (12%)

I suspect it would be much simpler if the Belief-o-matic had a setting for Lapsed Catholic.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Fetishes I don't understand

I've always been a little puzzled by foot fetishes, largely because I am not a foot fetishist. Although I can somewhat see the point, because feet are rich in nerve endings and so could provide pleasing sensations of a sensual nature.

I am even metrosexual enough to have an inkling of an understanding of why girls like shoes so much, and I have certainly noticed that the right girl in the right pair of shoes can look damn good.

But this - - puts me so far out of my depth I don't know where to begin.

Is it erotica for cobblers?

Friday, October 06, 2006

Finding a darker narnia

I wasn't exactly complimentary about John Connolly's last book, The Black Angel, and I glanced into The Book of Lost Things before I recognised the author, read a paragraph and was hooked. This is so entirely different to his last book that it could have been written by a different person.

David is twelve, his mum has died and he's a little bit obsessive compulsive. He feels like is the only one grieving his mother's death, and racket from the books is irritating him. Yes, he hears books talk - hillariously at his psychiatrist's office, when they call out, "Charlatan, fraud!" or, "well done old man, good question," depending on his performance; and sadly when the obsolete reference books in his bedroom fight to be heard, knowing deep down that their autority and worth has been stripped from them.

And then it feels like someone has been in his room.

Ultimately David discoveres another world through a crack in the old sunken garden he can see from his window. This is no Narnia though - this is a world of horror, of wolves, worse-than-wolves, and other horrors. Of huntresses who cross children and animals to make better quarry; and of a dying king who is losing control of his kingdom. Every human that has entered the world has bought its fears with it, increasing the population of horrific creatures - some of which are Davids, and must be conquered before he can leave. The book is superb - I had a month to read it and finished it in four days.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

When good people stay silent

I forget who it was, but some wise person said that, "Bad things happen when good people stay silent."

Whistleblowers are the people of integrity who sacrifice their career, their bank balance, sometimes their life and often their marriage on the altar of thier own integrity. They are the good people who see something bad happening and stand up to stop it. You might remember them from school - they were the little person who stood up to the bully - and sometimes got their arse whipped. I know some of this because it happened to my dad. It ended-up being the best thing that ever happened to him - got him out of a dead-end job and into a high-flying executive career. And it destroyed his confidence for a long time, and it made his life difficult; but he avoided any fame and he got on with his life. His two whistleblower colleagues' careers were obliterated.

So I was interested when I found the author of this book in on Petite's comments page. I haven't read it yet - I'll write it up when I do.