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Thursday, July 26, 2007

America's Next Top Model Series Eight #7

I'd really appreciate it if, instead of calling me "Jo" this week, that you refer to me only as "Queen Myfanwy The Benevolent". See, that's my Super-Self name. In the real world. Without pixies or anything.

This week is more farce than class (and, now that Diana's gone, only half the arse), as modules assume imaginary identities and screw up their faces to prove it. This is getting ridiculous. I just don't know who I am anymore. Oh wait – yes I do! I'm Queen Myfanwy The Benevolent! And this is the Wholahay Are You? episode of America's Next Top Model.

· Whitney Plus Size Black mourns the departure of Diana Plus Size White, upset that she's now a Lone Wolf Eating in the fight to "beat them skinny bitches". And what, pray, would the modeling world be without skinny bitches? A room full of people, is what.

· Renee, summoning Crazy Jade from Series Six, appears in most non-photographic scenes this week swathed in a flowy head-scarf reminiscent of Joan Crawford or Grace Jones – pinnacles of sanity and quiet reflection all. She settles into her general theme of Hard Faced Bitch by telling us that Jael is loud and intensely annoying, and saying of Sarah "Bitch does not deserve to be here". It's like she's got a degree in Stating The Obvious, with an elective in Duh.

· Our girls are dumped at a restaurant by the Big Pink Hummer, and they sit in front of a giant notepad which has the words "Lesley Hornby" printed on it in production-budget-breaking black texta. Twiggy walks in, and instead of lecturing the girls on How Some Models From The Sixties Now Just Look Like The Tired Old Lady Down The Pet Shop, she launches into some faff about how her nickname made her into a star. She reveals that her real name is, in fact, Lesley Hornby, and then dramatically peels back the first page of the giant notepad to reveal a felt-tip-scrawled "Twiggy" underneath. Amazing. Then, just to underline the huge budget blowout that is this scene, Twiggy drags out another tired old slapper, or as I'm calling her, Melrose From Series Seven. Melrose reminds us that, rather than using her birth-name "Melissa-Rose", she chose to shorten it, cleverly, using algebra and a trowel, to "Melrose". And look where it got her. Amazing.

· Twiggy launches the girls into the World's Most Stupid And Insulting Exercise, explaining that they are to have a think about their own names, which are quite clearly unacceptable, and come up with their "Super-Self" names, and whack them on a name tag whilst there's still some ink left in the Official ANTM Sharpie. I'm categorizing the Super-Self names into three neat groups:
The Egotistical:
Jaslene and Jael keep their own names as is, because their mothers were kind enough to give them names perfectly stupid enough for this exercise.
The Boring:
Brittany, whose thought processes may have been clouded by the feral red road-kill that her weave has become, comes up with the ingenious "Brit".
Natasha decides that she will be "TaTa". I wish she'd decided to be "Boris".
Sarah chooses to use her middle name, "Moe", and I'm momentarily distracted by some architectural asymmetry.
The Completely Fucking Ridiculous
Whitney perhaps decides that "Whitney" doesn't sound black enough, and opts instead for "Whitell". Ironically, I want to take to her with a pen-knife on a porch.
Renee comments that all the nicknames she had growing up were mean ones, including the odd "canoe-feet". So she calls herself "Nayien". See, because it's a couple of consonants with a bunch of vowels in the middle. And sometimes why?
Dionne becomes my new hero for all the wrong reasons, and calls herself… wait… I'm smirking and crying at the same time…. WHOLAHAY. I know. I know. She explains that her mother once watched something on the Discovery Channel about a fourteen-year-old girl with this name who was married off to a 40-year-old man, and that she herself likes older men, so she thought it was suitable. Riiiight. If her mother had been watching documentaries in a different timeslot, she might have called herself "Syphillis", "Guatemala", or "The Rise And Fall Of The Ottoman Empire".

· Challenge time, and the modules are invited to a party full of celebrities, where they're to introduce their Super Selves, make intelligent conversation and generally be fabulous and professional. It's like expecting Salvador Dali to just paint a bowl of fruit, or, for the lowbrow amongst you, like asking Matthew Newton to just give his girlfriend a peck on the cheek. The girls frock up (or, in Sarah's case, get into costume as a cross-dressing Howdy Doody), and arrive at a ritzy rooftop complete with swimming pool.

· Mingling commences with such A-listers as Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, Fifty Cent and I'm-Between-Soap-Operas-Right-Now, and Jael becomes fixated with making Fifty Cent her new best chum, to his intense and immediate terror. Fiddy really should have been more accommodating – when you compare Jael's crackpipe drawl to his normal speech patterns, he comes across as Mr Sheffield to her Nanny Fine. He tells her to go away. She returns. He rolls his eyes and gently pushes her away. She returns. She tells him: "My Mom's black and my Dad's Jewish. I'm Blewish. You can't hang with that". He pushes her into the pool. Natasha, either feeling a sudden rush of sisterhood or thinking this might be Wacky Western Party Custom, jumps in after her. Fabulous. Professional.

· One by one, the modules are summoned into a white room behind the pool to be interviewed, Super-Self style, by a panel consisting of Tyra's manager Benny Medina and various other forgettable industry big-hitters, none of whom could be described as advertisements either for or against cosmetic surgery. The girls are asked to introduce themselves with their new, stupid names and answer questions about their lives, passions, and hair, all three of which can believably be answered with the word "cheap". Also like the modules' hair, this segment has little in the way of highlights (see? see what I did there?), save for Wholahay breaking down in tears when she mentions how much she misses her daughter. In the ghetto. The mighty ghetto. Her baby sleeps tonight. A-Wholahay, A-Wholahay, A-Whola… sorry. Jael and Natasha turn up for their interview dripping wet from the pool, and Benny Medina waves them away with a disgusted flourish like a rich, angry kindergarten teacher. Jael, with her usual amount of intuition and annunciation, tells us that she thinks she did really well. Dionne Wholahay wins the challenge with a deft tears-and-name combo, and wins the prize of a real, live campaign shoot for Keds. Yawn.

· Nicole Richie causes some trouble between Renee and Jael by bitching to each one in turn about the other, and the two continue the feud back at the Module Mansion. Strong words are used, eyes are narrowed, hands are flailed in the air, and Renee's headscarf nearly dislodges itself, such is her enraged roiling. Seriously, though, if I wanted to see bitchy arseholes scratching and hissing at each other, I'd just throw a Chanel Organiser into a Double Bay cafĂ©. Next.

· A Tyra-Mail announces this week's photo-shoot, and Mr Jay greets the girls at a studio with his usual distressed coiffure, seemingly made from the pelt of a ferret who wandered accidentally into a vat of peroxide. Photographs this week are apparently inspired by pictures from Tyra's "beauty book" (this week's product plug of choice), showing that Tyra is capable of having her fingers in both a lot of different pies and a twelve-piece bucket all at the same time. Each module is to write down four characteristics they believe they have, and then direct their own hair and make-up before epitomizing each characteristic in front of the camera. Let's have a summary, shall we?
o Dionne shows "sensitive", "evil", "friendly" and "hood", and utters the best ghetto "Whatever" I've ever heard for her "hood" shot.
o Jaslene is "drag queen", "cha cha diva", "modelesque", and "sentimental", and looks exactly the same in each shot. You know – like a drag queen. But fierce.
o Natasha is "saxy", "surprised", "happy", and "sad", and does bloody well, despite Jay commenting that her "sexy" looked like "smelling dog pooh". I thought it was the spit of Angelina Jolie. I don't know who's gayer, Jay or me.
o Whitney Plus Size Black is "seductress", "thinker", "peaceful", and "comedian", or "Fat", "Fat", "Fat", and "Put That Freakishly Long Tongue Back In Your Mouth Before I Cut It Off".
o Jael is "sexy beast", "anarchist", "dominator" and "revolutionary/peacemaker", putting any last doubts that she's not constructed from seventy percent amphetamine to bed. She also rocks the photo-shoots arse.
o Sarah is "innocent", "angry", "sad", and "happy", and she's criticized heavily for posing too much. In front of a camera. As a model. Posing too much. Whatever. I still hate you.
o Brittany is "innocent", "spacey", "goofy" and "devilish", and I can't look away from her truly, truly fucked-up hair. It's like rusty steel wool, but better at scraping egg off a frying pan.
o Renee shows "dark side", "sexy", "motherly", and "sorrow", and I have to admit that for the first time, I think she could be a model. If she wasn't such a crazed psycho-bitch from hell, obviously.

· It's time for something that happens every series – Aunty Ty-Ty's Fireside Chat, in which Tyra visits the Module Mansion and gathers the girls for a chinwag under the pretence of caring and sharing, with scarcely-disguised undertones of Shake Yo' Bitchy Out, Dawg. Brittany moans, with complete justification, about how her cheap-ass weave is ripping her scalp apart, and Tyra apologises and promises her a new one. Jael says she's still recovering from the recent demise of her best friend, and Tyra offers the empathetic "death happens". None of the other girls have much to say aside from making it patently clear that they all think Renee's an arsehole. Tyra asks Renee for her input, and she claims that she's misunderstood, that she can't trust anyone, and that everyone she's ever loved has abandoned her. Tyra homes in on the possibility of Television Gold like it was a chicken carcass at a Banks family barbecue and says "You know what I think would be best? I think the best thing when you're feeling attacked and everybody is against you is for everybody to go and say how you've hurt them". You know – like the best thing for a scraped knee is to jam a pencil into the scab and wiggle it around. Slaughter commences. Mmmmm. Satisfying.

· I must mention that Tyra's false eyelashes in this episode deserve their own paragraph. And perhaps their own can of Mortein.

· Elimination time, and the modules front up to the Elimination Gymnasium where they're greeted by Tyra the Spider-Eyed Pirate, six-ruffled Miss Jay, dowdy Twiggy, guest judge Benny Medina and Spunky Nigel Barker, who I'm buying shares in baby-oil for. Prizes are droned through, which I think include a pair of tennis socks and a dental dam, and the modules are asked to deliver their Super Self names before having their photos picked to bits. I find it hard to concentrate at this point due to the fact that Brittany's Ginger Head-Ferret is now sticking out at a right angle to her neck. Dionne's "Wholahay" name is not received well, and Tyra suggests the name "Brown" as an alternative. Brown. Yes. Nothing ignites the imagination quite like a super-model named "Brown". I… it's… there's so much wrong with it I can't breathe.

· The judges deliberate, and Tyra hands out photos to the victors until only Whitney Plus Size Black and Sarah No-Chin are left. Sarah is told that she poses too much for pictures (I… wha?), and Whitney is told that she's pretty, but not a model. Eight parsecs pass, and Sarah is ousted. Bye, Sarah! Don't – y'know – SUCK on your way out.

Next week, more bitchiness, our mail-order bride misses her baby, and there's some kind of Top Model reunion. Clashes. Natashas. Re-hashes.

Monday, July 23, 2007

You Had Me At "Tooheys" #3, or This Week's Pick-up Line

It's not that all the good men are either married or gay. Some of them are just… out of their freakin' gourds.

Without a moment's hesitation, I pass the Bizzaro Bachelor award to: Friday Night Guy.

Me (walking from the toiletary facilities back to join my companion in the courtyard): "Tra la la la…."

Friday Night Guy (grabbing my hand and squeezing each of my fingers in turn): "Hey! Guess what?"

Me (with one raised eyebrow, which happens whether I want it to or not): "What?"

FNG (still squeezing): "I'm a dragon!"

Me: "You're a drag queen?"

FNG: "I'm a DRAGON! Look at me breathing fire! CCCCCHHHHHHHAAAAAA!"

A dragon. This is the guy that talks to me in a bar. A dragon.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

America's Next Top Model Series Eight #6

Okay. Let's get one thing straight from the get-go. I have a staunch and unblemished record as a heterosexual female person. So my hesitant, reluctant question is this: What does it mean if I find a woman in man-drag attractive?

I think it means I watch too much of this goddamn show. That, or I need to be exposed to some dense body-hair and a substantial array of male genitalia, STAT. I'm confused.

Adjust yourselves. It's the I'm Forever Growing Stubble episode of America's Next Top Model.

· I don't know how I've lived for so long without Natasha in my life. She owned this week's episode for so, so many reasons, the first being her phone-sex sesh with her 32-years-her-senior husband. It starts with her purring "You miss me? You remember me? … Everything?" and finishes with her actually purring. And meowing. And clawing the couch cushion next to her. She growls "I need you, Stuart. Would you be gentle with me?" and smirks and squints with the appropriate amount of telephonic passion. Really, out of all the mail-order, Russian/American, cradle-snatching, modeling, baby-producing couples I know, these two are just the cutest.

· We see Sarah, briefly, sans make-up, wrapped in a towel, straight from the shower. She's the ugliest 14-year old male ginger chess champion I've ever seen.

· A Tyra Mail and a Big Pink Hummer takes the girls to meet Elite Models director Cathy Gould, and Elite Model Claudia Mason in a.. er… room that has a sewing machine in it. They ask the girls to dress in some outfits that have been chosen for them, and then tell the room what they like about their outfits. Natasha likes her slutty pants and slutty top, enjoying how they show off "her bardy", and Jaslene thinks she could wear checked pants and braces to a casual night out or to lunch, or perhaps to a Steve Urkel look-alike contest. Cathy and Claudia then smirkingly explain that the outfits were specifically chosen as examples of how the girls shouldn't dress, which is like the Fashion Executive's way of saying "Psych!". Dionne, obviously voicing what we're all thinking, says "Snap! We all jacked up and busted". Word. A rapid montage follows in which the modules follow barked instructions, swapping clothes and accessories in a confused frenzy. Now, although I know that a bunch of rapidly-edited images showing badly-dressed girls hurriedly changing in and out of outfits should be interesting (especially considering my aforementioned Sapphic hiccup), I'm momentarily distracted by a bowl of cold peas.

· Back at the house, Renee aggressively questions Whitney regarding the likelihood of a plus-size model ever appearing on the cover of Vogue, and both Plus-Size Black and Plus-Size White take offence. Pot successfully stirred, Renee retreats to dream of someday making the cover of Teenage Bi-Polar Bitch Monthly.

· Our girls are Hummed to a Sears warehouse, and gather in front of a display of male mannequins. Only they're not really male mannequins. They're real men! Psych! And it was only the breathing, movement, blinking and realistic skin tones that gave them away! The "mannequins" turn out to be Lawrence and Gregory Zarian, identical twins, ex-models, and screeching nancy-boys. They introduce this week's challenge – the modules, in groups of three, are to choose complementary outfits and props from racks provided and set themselves up as mannequins in a retail display on pre-prepared platforms, including naming their display and painting the name on a sign, all within twenty minutes. For fuck's sake.

· Dionne has a background in retail, so she takes charge of picking the outfits for her group, whilst Renee and Sarah help out with props and decorations. I know – an aspiring model who works in a shop – who'd've thought? That's like Hans Zimmer supplementing his income writing jingles or, for the lowbrow amongst you, like a PHD student selling her eggs on eBay. Natasha, Whitney and Jael name their display "Aphrodity's Box", and as Natasha points out, "When you name somesink, you can spall it as wrong or as right as you want". Brittany, Diana and Jaslene throw on some butterflies and pearls and kind of sit around. Seriously, now. This is fucking stupid. The Nancy Twins assess the displays, and somehow manage to distinguish between the three Exercises In Beige. After disqualifying Whitney's group for not all being on the platform (despite Natasha's urgent "Whitany on the podiarm!" urgings), they name Sarah, Renee and Dionne as the winners, with Sarah taking out the individual prize. Renee and Dionne seethe with skinny, bitchy, wide-shouldered rage as Sarah takes the credit for an outfit essentially selected by somebody else. Her prize is the opportunity to do this week's photo-shoot twice. That's a prize.

· While we're talking about Sarah, my housemate pointed out last night how irritating her Excited Jump And Head-Wiggle is, and I gotta tell ya – she's right. Whenever Sarah's given a compliment, she flicks her head around, hops up and down a bit, sticks her tongue out, and pulls a stupid face. Stupider than usual, even. If you imagine pulling the head off a Richie Cunningham doll, jamming it onto the end of a long spring, dressing the spring in an outfit from the K-Mart Anaemic Collection, and putting it in a pot of rapidly boiling water, you're just about there. Got the mental image? Good. Now, imagine setting fire to the doll's head, soldering the spring to a rabid dog and throwing the dog out of a helicopter. Much better, isn't it?

· Natasha overhears some of the other girls whispering about her, expressing their suspicion at the fact that Mrs Mail-Order doesn't wear a wedding ring and implying that there's something dodgy about her marriage. You think? Natasha calls her husband in tears, saying "If averybody would pick on you everyday, you wouldn't be tarff". I adore this girl. I wonder if, when you pull her in half at the waist, there's lots of other little Natasha dolls inside?

· Now, gentlemen and gentlemen, it's time for the Best Cross-Dressing Photo-Shoot Ever. After a quick and irrelevant clothes-changing farce, Jay tells the girls that they'll need some accessories for today's shoot, and in walks a bunch (a gaggle? A whisker?) of pre-make-up drag queens. This week, the girls will be dressed as men, and they'll be photographed with men-dressed-as-women, posing as couples with different themes. Renee summarises adeptly in the make-up room: "Like, I look over there, and I see this dude, but it's Natasha. And then I look over there, and I see this woman, but it's actually a dude". This concept has no base in reality, yet it's carved itself a permanent place in my heart, appropriately just near my cockles.

· There's a photo-shoot summary in my pocket, and dude, am I glad to see you:
o Jaslene and partner are themed 'nautical', and she's dressed in a fishing cap and sou-wester. I'm still really, really struggling with this, but she looks hot. She is Hot Skinny Latino Fisherman, and I need a beer and a quick listen to Back In Black just to set things right again. She kicks arse in the shoot, getting so much into her character that she even announces "I gotta fart".
o Brittany and partner are apparently an "outdoorsy" couple, meaning that Brittany is dressed as a gay lumberjack. She sets her jaw, droops her lids and poses like a man. Mr Jay giggles like a girl.
o Renee and partner are "glam rock couple", and she works her shiny jacket and artificial stubble like a diva. Or perhaps a divo. Whatever. Bitch works it.
o Jael and partner are the "bohemian hippy" couple, and Jael, in floppy beret, patched flares and glasses, is a puppet-maker's version of what a girl dressed as a stereotype should look like. It's not female. It's not male. It's just… odd.
o Dionne and partner are "power couple" in His & Hers suits. Dude still looks like a lady.
o Sarah is a "rocker", and apparently nowadays "rockers" wear skivvies and don't have chins. Even with her double-photo-shoot prize and advice from Mr Jay, she's still told she looks too much like a girl. Hello? She wouldn't even look like a girl dressed in pink frills with her tits out. Open your eyes.
o Whitney and partner are the "collegiate" couple, and no amount of eyebrow-thickening, fake stubble, scarves or cardigans can draw people's attention away from two extremely obvious giveaways – Whitney's left boob, and Whitney's right boob.
o Diana and partner are "red carpet couple", and we see her ample frame wrapped in a tux after, disturbingly, seeing her in full man-make-up and a very revealing singlet. Her shoot is underwhelming, but one of my favourite moments occurs off-camera. Upset about her performance and still sporting stubble and chin-dimple, she sobs uncontrollably, exactly like a girl does. Poor fat, sad man.
o Natasha and partner are "hip-hop couple", and Natasha is dressed as K-Fed, only hotter and with talent. She has stubble, a cap, bling, sportswear and fur, and even improvises her own dental grille-action with a piece of foil from a packet of chewing gum. She asks Dionne to help her out with some appropriate stances and phrases, and causes a riot when she repeats "What it do, shorty" in Rasputin's mother tongue. I cannot, no matter how hard I try, adequately explain how gob-smackingly brilliant she is in the photo shoot. She's not only hip-hop personified, she's convincing enough as a man to make me want to jump in the back of her lo-rider. Damn.

· A Tyra-Mail summons the girls to the Elimination Stadium, and Tyra finally seems to have sorted out her weave-issues and is dressed demurely as Kentucky Fried Audrey Hepburn in a skivvy, pinafore, and side-parted Alice-band. She strums through the prizes, which I think include a safety razor and a packet of Maggi noodles, and then introduces the judges, including Spunky Nigel, who I'm leaving the light on for. Twiggy is dressed as Grandma In Red Velvet, Miss Jay is sporting five symbolic ruffles, and guest judge is Cathy Gould from Elite. Photos are flicked through, and in this week's Postmodern moment, the modules are assessed on their ability to look like they're sporting an adam's apple and a penis.

· The judges deliberate, and Tyra drones through photos and names until only Plus-Size White Diana and Plus-Size Black Whitney are left, or as I'm calling them, Fat and Fatter. Tyra pulls platitudes out of her considerable arse, gushing: "I have wanted to have two full-figured models a part of this competition for cycles and cycles. And we found two very, very strong girls and my dream came true." Really, Tyra – trying to convince us that you dream about anything except eating chicken skin and owning your own media empire is all just so much fluff. She tells Diana that she's beautiful but passion-free, and Whitney is told that she's beautiful, but can't transfer her beauty into photographs. Eighteen years pass, and Diana is pushed off the coil. Bye, Diana! Don't forget to lick the bowl on your way out, honey.

Next week, the girls confront Renee and put her in her place, and we're off to a glamorous evening soiree with Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, and Fiddy Cent. Affray. Partay. Drink Bacardi like it's your birthday.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Emails I May Never Send #17

Dear Mrs Beckham,

Thank you for your recent application, however there are some issues which need to be raised with you before it can be processed:

- Our policy does not allow for nicknames to be used on application forms, hence your request to be registered as either "Posh Spice" or "Paris Hilton" has been denied.
- In the space next to "Sex", we can only accept one of two responses – either "Male" or "Female". Unfortunately we cannot accept "Innit".
- We require you to submit your measurements as they were pre-surgery, and preferably in numerical form. "Perfick" is unsuitable.
- In the "Comments" section, the board would like to thank you for your kind invitation, however we'll all be watching Foreign Correspondent instead. One of our members specifically requested that we relay his comment, that he would "rather watch It Takes Two than this day-old carpet-vomit" directly to you.

We invite you to re-submit your application before the deadline of five PM today (big hand on the twelve, little hand on the five).


Thursday, July 12, 2007

America's Next Top Model Series Eight #5

Sometimes, when we're drunk, we pretend that we're sober.
Sometimes, when we're stupid, we pretend that we're smart.
Sometimes, when we're modules, we pretend that our organs have been stolen by other modules, and we've been pushed down the stairs.

The life of a model is dangerous. If the traffic cop and the lasers don't get you, the photo-shoot will. Dearly beloved, it's the Pretend That We're Dead episode of America's Next Top Model.

· For the time-poor or work heavy – The Nutshell Version: We're catburglars. Now we're dead. Now we're Dancing With Somebody. Now one of us is sent home.

· Jael is still upset about her dead friend. At least, I think she is. It's very, very hard to understand a word this girl says – it's like her lips work at half-speed and her tongue's drunk, making everything she says sound like "Merner Makah Mer Mana". Hugs and words of comfort from the other modules don't seem to help much, so Felicia takes the only obvious course of action and teaches Jael a dance to make her feel better. One can only assume that a hula-hoop was not readily available.

· Renee wakes up refreshed and shakes the bitch out of her system, resolving to turn over a new leaf and be nice to people. She says "I've been getting into it with all the girls, and I'm not going to win this thing by being a bitch. I've gotta stop being mean". To prove her point, she draws a picture of Jael and hands it to her meekly, explaining the outfit depicted in the drawing: "Like, it's a straightjacket, but it's not tied". She's saying "Like, I think you're insane, but I don't think you're dangerous", like, through art. It's kind of beautiful. And kind of fucked up. Jael thanks her, saying "That's some badass".

· On the way to a Mystery Activity, the Big Pink Hummer is stopped by a "traffic cop". Given that the same traffic cop did some vogueing and mincing for the camera right before pulling the car over, it's not surprising that none of the girls are amazed when he says "I'm not actually a traffic cop". It's like Rene Magritte announcing "This is not a pipe" or, for the lowbrow amongst you, like Anthony Callea coming out of the closet. The cop turns out to be Benny Ninja, famous Vogueing Coach, and he explains that, starting in 1970s Harlem, "posing battles" were the knife-fights of the club-ensconced fashion-obsessed, and a way of asserting one's staus and turf in a non-violent fashion. Think Kelly's dance-off in Breakdance 2: Electric Boogaloo, but with less lycra and no vaginas.

· Benny gets the girls to battle each other in a vogue-off, and organizes them into pairs with a theme each, like "Face!", "Handbag!" and "Elegant Model On The Floor!". I know that watching girls facing off in various exaggerated poses in a park led by a bendy sissy in a traffic cop's hat should be interesting, but I'm momentarily distracted by a hangnail. I do notice that Natasha is incapable of doing anything without her mouth being open, which goes some way to explaining how she jumped the queue at the Mail Order Brides office.

· Renee is still on her Fission-Fixing Mission, and shows how giving and girly she is by plaiting Brittany's hair, making it look less like a mange-tinged ginger dog, and more like a plaited mange-tinged ginger dog. Sense prevails as Renee hides the whole thing under a scarf. Diana is suspicious of Renee's motives, because she lined up twice for brains. Unfortunately, she got an all-day ticket for arse.

· Jael has the shortest hair in the house. Jael shows us a burn on her cheek, claiming to have singed herself on a hot curling iron. Personally, I think that perhaps Jael was just standing next to the hot curling iron when the 'phone rang. Jael chastises herself by saying "Merner Makah Mer Mana".

· The girls are whisked off to a warehouse, where they're again met by bendy Benny, who's dressed in a skin-tight lycra bodysuit that will be featuring in my mind's eye whenever I want to avoid thinking about sex for a couple of days. He dangles a carrot in front of the girls (an unfortunate effect of the lycra) in the form of a forty-thousand dollar diamond bracelet, the prize for this week's challenge. But, Benny adds, he's "gon' make you work for it". Our modules have to slink through a crazy maze of lasers a-la Catherine Zeta Jones in Entrapment, also dressed in lycra and showing "cat-like" skills whilst striking a pose at every mid-laser opportunity, all within two minutes. Easy peasy, except for like, the lycra, the lasers, the posing and the time-limit. Renee grits her determined teeth, saying "I've GOT to win this one – my husband and I are really broke", showing that she's into pawn, but just for the money.

· Most of the girls do pretty well, even Diana Plus-Size White and Whitney Plus-Size Black, proving that even the largest arse and the roundest rack can be steered effectively through a laser-maze. Alas and alack, psychotic bitterness cannot, as the weight of the chip on Renee's shoulder causes her to over-balance, and she's the only girl who doesn't make it through within the time limit. Natasha manages the entire maze with her mouth open, Jaslene is the most aggressive vogueing cat-burglar ever, and Felicia Eyebrows shows her dance background by Jazzercising the whole thing and coming up trumps. Eventually Whitney is declared the winner, and she tearfully accepts the winner's bling, gushing "I owe my father nine thousand dollars for my education… but I'm keeping the bracelet, because it has a lot of sentimental value". You've owned it for a minute and a half, sweetie. Diamonds, you mean. It has a lot of diamonds.

· Renee abandons her Atonement Agenda and returns to the welcoming, spiky arms of her old friend Malevolent Beeyarch, claiming that her "spirit's been broken since being here". She calls her husband, wailing "You wanna come and pick me up? I don't wanna be here with these stupid girls". He calms her down, and you can almost hear the trucker cap over the phone. She smokes a forlorn cigarette alone, her miserable solitude emphasized by some crafty camera angles. Scene.

· Photo-shoot time, and the girls are Hummed off to the Alexandria Hotel in LA, built in 1906 and rumoured to be haunted by ghosts of Hollywood past. Today, however, it's merely haunted by the distant memory of non-ridiculous photo-shoot ideas, as Mr Jay tells the modules they're going to be posing today as crime scene victims. He explains that they'll all be dead, presumed murdered by each other in different ways, and that they have to look dead, but show some life. I couldn't possibly summarise this more eloquently than Felicia: "He's sayin' you have to be dead, but alive in the face. It's sort of like a oxymoron". I'm sure I want Felicia always by my side, to help explain life. I can imagine: "The book's sayin' this shit looks random, but like ironically, there a sweet order to it. It's sort of like Chaos Theory, dawg", or "It's like an enigma, right? But it's totally wrapped in a riddle".

· Ridiculous or not, this photo-shoot kicks arse. Aside from the obvious joy of seeing these girls post-mortem, the setting is dark and spooky, photographer Mike Rosenthal is a creative master (and reasonably sweet eye-candy), and the make-up artists are gory geniuses, giving the girls gashes where they've never had gashes before. In short:
o Renee has been poisoned, and she slumps, pale and bitchy, over an ornate table. She says "I did AWESOME, but I don't want to tell the girls, because they hate me already". Luckily, Jay immediately tells the girls.
o Jaslene has been pushed off the roof, and has painted-on hand-prints on her chest and teased hair. Jay announces how much he loves that her leg looks broken.
o Brittany has been electrocuted in the bath, and hangs over the side onto the filthy tiles below. Jay is pleased, and shouts "Get this girl a towel and a tetanus shot!"
o Diana, brilliantly, has had her organs stolen, and lies crumpled in a corridor scattered with medical equipment, sporting some extremely realistic body gore, and some even more convincing gut-fat.
o Sarah, after quickly mentioning that she's also a photographer, has been pushed down the stairs. Meh.
o Jael has been strangled, and lies on a bed with a bruised neck. For the first time ever, she has trouble looking half-dead, and everyone suddenly realizes how mean it is to make a girl who's still in mourning for a dead friend impersonate a corpse. Jay, empathetic giver that he is, says "I'm not sure if thinking about your friend was the way to go. Try to focus on the shoot". Nice. Will you be making mini-quiches for the wake, too? Jael says "Merner Makah Mer Mana".
o Felicia has been decapitated, possibly because somebody couldn't stand looking at her stupid eyebrows anymore. She works her bloody, bruised neck like a diva, but Jay complains that she looks a bit too dead. If Felicia could, I'm sure she'd raise one confused eyebrow.
o Whitney has been stabbed, and looks like a bloodied plus-size underwear model taking a break on the couch.
o Natasha has been drowned, and has icy water poured all over her. She squeals "Is like needles goink through my body from my skin!". Jay says "It's not as cold as Russia". True, but the borscht here sucks.
o Dionne has been shot, and needs a lot of direction from Jay and the photographer. She's not discouraged, though, claiming excitedly that "I looked like a dead-ass rich woman for real". Word.

· A Tyra-Mail sends the girls to Elimination Roller-Rink, and Tyra has forsaken "pirate" for "Whitney Houston Wants To Dance With Somebody". She waffles through the prizes, which I think include a set of steak-knives and some nipple-covers, and then introduces the judges, including Spunky Nigel, who I'm doing Downward Dog for. Twiggy is dressed as Alice In Wonderland: The Cataract Years, Miss Jay is wearing four ruffles, and guest judge Mike Rosenthal will do until Spunky Nigel divorces his bitch wife. The excellent photographs are looked through, with truly wonderful judge comments like "You look beautiful in death" and "Death becomes you". Hello, reality? Take the day off, honey.

· Elimination time rolls around, and Tyra calls names one by one. Natasha is delighted to be safe for another week, and thanks Tyra in Russian. Tyra, worldly xenophobe that she is, giggles and says "Da-da-da-da-da – whatever you just said". Eventually it's just down to Dionne The Gorgeous and Felicia The Eyebrows. Wha? The two prettiest girls are facing elimination, while the Battersea Dogs Home in the corner observes. Dionne is told that the way she dresses is uninspiring, and Felicia is told that she's going downhill and might be falling apart. Three years pass, and Felicia is ousted. Bye, Felicia! Pick up your eyebrows from the front desk on your way out! She's cheerful and cute in defeat, saying "If these bitches don't cry, I'm gon' be pissed". The bitches cry.

Next week, the modules are creeped out when Natasha meows down the telephone to her older husband, Renee further separates herself from the non-psychotic people, and Whitney is insulted when Renee tells her that plus-size models don't win. Porn. Scorn. Forlorn.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

You Had Me At "Tooheys" #2, or: This Week's Pick-Up Line

Okay, first – the above heading is misleading, and possibly a little optimistic.
I don't hear a pick-up line every week, and the lines I do hear aren't always pick-up lines in the classic sense.
When guys approach me, they are often a) drunk, and b) recently rejected by the blonde with big tits on the other side of the room.
Suffice to say, I hear some corkers.
On Saturday night, whilst standing near the bar holding two drinks, waiting for my friend Simon to come back from the ATM, I was the bemused recipient of this one:

Drunk guy, conspirationally in my ear: "Excuse me – are you a security guard?"

Me: "Er… no. Why do you ask?"

Drunk guy: "You look really tough".

Right. Thanks. I think.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Friday, July 06, 2007

America's Next Top Model Series Eight #4

A good haircut can change your life.
A good haircut gives you confidence, renewed sass, and a fresh bit of winsome arse-wiggle when you walk.
A good haircut leaves your hair looking shiny, bouncy, healthy and devastatingly contemporary.


Now, everybody who's ever even glanced in my direction knows that I adore a Makeover Episode. I wait for it. I crave it. I sit by the telephone, willing it to call.
And here it is.
And if I was one of these models, given one of these haircuts, I would sue. Sue and maim. Sue and maim and kill.
It's not pretty. It's the I'm A De-Weaver episode of America's Next Top Model.

· The Nutshell Version: Everybody gets a crap haircut. Everybody gets smeared with ice cream and sugar. Tyra's still a pirate. Somebody goes home.

· Diana and Whitney have a chat about being plus-sized models in a negative-sized model world, in a scene straight from the indie film Fat Girls Talking. They discuss how hard it is to take a good photo without any "rolls" showing. Now, I know it's good, in real life, to have all body shapes and sizes represented, hence not giving our pre-teen impressionables body-dysmorphic disorder later in life. But come on. If a plus-sized model ever wins a series of ANTM, I'll eat my ninety-seven-percent fat-free hat. Fat models are for "before" photos. Am I right?

· Cassandra is revealed as our live-in god-botherer, spreading the Gospel to all in need. "Dear God," she says. "Why did you give me such a big nose?"

· A Tyra-Mail arrives, hinting at a makeover, and a rill of excitement wobbles through the collected modelly throng. "They can do whatever they want to me", says Brittany, pretty much cementing her position as Girl-Who-Hates-New-Hair later in the episode. What – like we've never seen a makeover episode before? Saying "I don't care what they do to my hair" is the pre-makeover equivalent of going into a dark room in a horror movie without turning on the light. You're toast.

· The modules rock up to Sessions Studio to face Mr Jay, Miss Jay, and Neeko the Hairdresser, or as I'm calling them, A Big Ol' Row O' Gay. Just as I'm thinking that the scene doesn't have enough Oscar-worthy, dramatic over-acting, in walks Tyra in pyjamas and hair-curlers. Cassandra is not the only person calling Jesus' name at this point. Tyra pretends she doesn't know what's going on, screwing up her face and saying "What is this?" in a sleepy voice. Yes, Tyra. We all believe that you were having a little kip just off-camera. There's no place like home. There's no place like home. She claims that she thought they'd decided not to do makeovers this year, as every season someone cries and carries on, and it's not worth it. The only thing Tyra needs to do to make this scene more of a farce is to scream, wail, and crawl around on her hands and knees. But that would never happen.

· Tyra describes to each module the haircut (read: life-destroying coiff-massacre) they're about to have committed upon their person (read: "We're giving you a weave"). The Big Ol' Row O' Gay then sets upon her, hacking at her hair with hedge trimmers, pretending that there's still an undiscovered tribe in the upper Andes that doesn't know Tyra's hair is a wig. She screams. She wails. She crawls around on her hands and knees. Huh.

o Sarah's hair is cut infinitesimally shorter, and dyed brown, or as Tyra puts it, she has some "dirtiness" added. Admittedly, she looks much better than before – now she's an ugly, old-looking brunette with no chin. Miraculous!

o Dionne's hair is cut boy-short, and she ends up looking like an early-nineties Toni Braxton, only prettier and less whiny and annoying.

o Cassandra, who previously had a wig sewn onto her scalp, has the wig removed and an afro-weave put in. Granted, it looks better than the sewn-in wig, but so would balancing an anaesthetized kelpie on her head.

o Jaslene doesn't get much of a change, just a fuller, slightly shorter cut with more body. The girl could use more body, as every time I see her in a midriff, I imagine Lionel Hampton jamming on her ribcage. She claims that she feels the hairdresser "chopped off all her anger". Anger? Whatever.

o Renee is butchered. She's given a short shag, which is also, I suspect, how she got her son. Girl has to climb a ladder to reach 'trailer trash' status. Girl kinda deserves it.

o Felicia is given "bangs" (that's a "fringe" to you Antipodeans, bless ya), and the only justification I can think of for her haircut is to COVER UP THOSE FUCKING EYEBROWS. No, sir. I will not get over it. They are an affront to beauty, I say.

o Natasha's hair is cut to shoulder length, dyed chocolate-brown, and hacked into a fringe, and she takes a necessary leap away from Afghan Hound all the way to Pinscher. Potentially insulting dog reference accidental. She says, in remarkably articulate English: "I think it proves any look can work for me". Da.

o Brittany is given a longer, wavy red weave. This is how Tyra describes it. Brittany is given a homeless woman's second-hand merkin, weaved into her existing hair with maximum pain and indignity. This is how anyone else would describe it. Brittany complains. Then she complains some more. After a short break, she complains a little. Whitney, articulating what we're all thinking, says "I just wanna slap her and really give her something to cry about".

o Whitney is given a longer, fake-looking weave. Meh.

o Diana is taken a few shades lighter and, in a surprise comparable to opening a packet of Family Assorted and finding crap bikkies inside, is given a weave. This increases the prettiness of her face, but keeps her unfortunate girth the same.

o Jael is put through weave hell and back. Initially, Tyra tells her she's going to give her a long, brunette makeover, but after eight hours of painful hairdressing hell in which Jael wails "Is it gonna bleed?", changes her mind and sends Mr Jay to deliver the bad news – "We thought we'd be taking you to an elevated look, but we think it's bringing you down a little, so we're taking it all out". He mentions Rosemary's Baby, which is supposed to be a reference to Mia Farrow's pixie-cut, but is interpreted, through Jael's copious tears, as being equivalent to the pain associated to giving birth to Satan's demon offspring. Jael says "I can rock any hair. I'm a rocker". We say "Where's the rest of your skull? Why didn't we notice you were a pin-head before?".

· Jael checks her messages from home, and discovers that one of her good friends has died from a drug overdose. It would be inappropriate to make any jokes here, even about the fact that perhaps passive smack abuse is the cause of Jael's incomprehensible drawl. She's very, very upset, and in a rare moment of solidarity, the other modules rally around her to offer support, succour, and any spare consonants they have lying around.

· This week's challenge is sponsored loudly and repeatedly by Cover Girl, and involves the girls running from make-up laden table to make-up laden table in flowery frocks, speedily creating a "Spring Look". Brittany, plagued by "digestive issues", has a quick chunder in the rose bushes in between Foundation and Lip Liner, but still manages to win the prize of a Seventeen Magazine photo spread. Nothing says "Spring" like little bits of carrot.

· Renee is not happy that Brittany keeps winning challenges instead of her, and brings out her usual chestnut of "She can win all the battles, but I'm gonna win the war". Brittany overhears Renee's bitching and confronts her, and Renee, ironically it would seem, tells Brittany that she acts a lot like she's in high school. Brittany, in a quiet, level voice, making me shout "ZING!" at the television, just says "I'm still kicking your arse in this competition". Renee, proving her superior maturity and vocabulary, gives her the finger. Sometimes I can't tell if I'm watching a modeling competition or a documentary about the Athenian Fathers of Philosophy.

· Photo-shoot time, and the Big Pink Hummer drops the girls off to a studio decorated with confectionery-related accoutrements. Mr Jay says that "ice cream is one of Tyra's and my favourite treats", going on to explain that for today's shoot, each girl will go nude, get slathered in candy-coloured make-up, and hold a handful of ice-cream representing different flavours. Whilst watching a handful of pastel-toned naked mall-rats covered in lollies and ice cream should be interesting, I'm momentarily distracted by a stack of white paper. All-too-rare highlights include:
o Brittany, not having filled her complaint quota for the hour, is sure that her parents will be horrified by her impending nudity, and also worries that her "hands aren't going to react well" to holding fistfuls of ice cream. Seriously, soldiers in Afghanistan have it easy compared to these poor waifs.
o Cassandra's new afro-weave is shaped into the form of a jelly-bean. I've done a quick poll, and it's unanimous – this look is very, very bad.
o Diana, painted as a Gummi Bear, is repeatedly ordered by Jay to "suck it in". We're in the middle of a photo-shoot about sweets and ice cream, Jay. I think a bit of Big Fat Gut Action is warranted.
o Renee has tiny bits of confectionery stuck to her face. This is supposed to make her look like she's a candy necklace. This makes her look like she's in the advanced stages of leprosy.

· We're off to the Elimination Stadium, and Tyra is mixing it up this week as half-pirate, half-gypsy. She blahs through the prizes, which I think include a pair of safety scissors and a guinea pig, and then introduces the judges, including Spunky Nigel, who I'm having my hip-joints reconstructed for. Miss Jay is wearing two ruffles around his neck, partly to signify the demise of the two eliminated modules, and partly to signify that he's a Great Big Nancy who's run out of ideas. Photos are slapped up on the big screen, with some notable comments:
o Jael dedicates her photo to her dead friend. I know when I die, I want a picture of a blue-and-pink naked girl dressed as a birthday cake dedicated to me. Beats having "Wind Beneath My Wings" played at my funeral.
o Tyra tells Natasha that although her photos are improving, she has to try not to think so hard. Honestly, Tyra – I really don't think that's going to be a problem.
o Miss Jay, upon seeing Whitney holding a handful of ice-cream in front of her crotch in her photo, says "You got cream in all the right places. Lord have mercy". If it wasn't for the long hair, the make-up, the neck-ruffles, the heels and the effeminate behaviour, you'd almost think he was straight.

· The judges deliberate, and names are called until just Diana Plus-Size and Cassandra Big-Nose are left. Diana is told that she's beautiful, but she doesn't stand out, and Cassandra is told that she has a beautiful personality, but it's not showing in her photos. Six months pass, and Cassandra is shown the door. Bye, Cassandra! Don't forget to say three Hail Marys on the way out!

· Wait - Renee didn't mention her son all episode again. Maybe she died.

Next week, the girls squeeze into skin-tight bodysuits and pretend to be cat-burglars, and Renee cracks with pent-up rage and hatred for all humankind. Sleeves. Thieves. Peeves.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Scrag Lag

It's late.
I have a life, y'know.

Oh, who am I kidding. I had a long, boozy business lunch, and the Simile Fairy doesn't do overtime. It's coming, a'ight?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

..And They Went Two By Two, Into The Snark

Remember how, at high school, there was always a cool bunch of kids who used to hang out near the weather-sheds, smoking, pashing, swearing, and being cutting-edge?

Ever wonder where they are now?

They're in office cubicles, wearing beige, wishing they'd listened in class.

The kids who did listen in class, albeit whilst scrawling irreverent doodles in the margins and planning their next rebellious haircut, are here: Snarkeology.

We're here. We're sneer. Get used to it.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Bum Cha

I had lunch in Chinatown with my mate Milly on the weekend.
I've mentioned my mate Milly before – she and I have shared a road trip, and she's the reason Henry Lawson doesn't return my calls.
Milly and I like words. And food. Words and food. And.. y'know - beer.
We started at Nine Dragons restaurant on Dixon Street, and continued on to the Chinese Cultural Club, which is most definitely a Place You Should Visit. It's just like an RSL or footy club, only with more brunettes and better snacks.

As a result of our Oriental Odyssey, a few new words, phrases and concepts have now been invented, and one conspiracy uncovered. It was a pretty good day's work:

· "Bum Cha" – this is what "Yum Cha" will be called from now on, because we were talking about bottom troubles whilst eating sesame prawn rolls. And because we are Paddlers in the Pond of Puerile. Bum Cha. Ha!

· "Describing A Vase" – this is what "Tai Chi" will be called from now on, because we couldn't decide which of the two a man on the street was doing.

· "Impatient Slap" – after watching a frustrated Chinese man playing the pokies for a while, and noticing that his pokie-button pushing was becoming more and more aggressive and violent, I said (louder than I meant to) "That's an impatient slap". Milly had to point out the horrifyingly ambiguous and racist undertones inherent in my comment. I sincerely apologise to all offended parties.

· "What's Uglier Than Dead?" – An important question, I think. Posed during a discussion about a dog that only won the World's Ugliest Dog competition because the previous, much, much uglier titleholder had died.

· "24-hour Cancer" – a good excuse for getting out of a day's work. Other suitable sickie-chucking ailments include 24-hour AIDS, 24-hour Amputation, and 24-hour Dead. I sincerely apologise to all offended parties.

· I Heart Chinese Jackie Onassis – Milly and I love a lady called Mary, who, dressed like Jackie O (including indoor sunglasses), worked her way slowly through a packet of Peter Jacksons whilst commentating loudly on her and others' poker-machine success. Words cannot express how endearing Mary is, and goddamn, can she drink soup.

· "I Pity The Foo Fighters" – Milly and I stared at each other, open mouthed, when we figured out what Dave Grohl has tried to keep hidden for years – Mr T inspired his band name. It only makes us love you more, Dave.

Milly and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the staff and clientele of the Chines Cultural Club for an entertaining and enlightening afternoon, and we encourage all Sydneysiders and weekend tourists to visit. But remember, as the sign says: "If you have enough please leave the club. You don't need to be told".