Fractured lands: How the arab world came apart. "This is a story unlike any we have previously published. It is much longer than the typical New York Times Magazine feature story; in print, it occupies an entire issue. The product of some 18 months of reporting, it tells the story of the catastrophe that has fractured the Arab world since the invasion of Iraq 13 years ago, leading to the rise of ISIS and the global refugee crisis."
There's been a media shitstorm this week over The Great British Bake Off (hosted by Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, the standup equivalent of the colour beige) leaving the BBC for Channel 4. I haven't watched "GBBO" before; it's a cloyingly smug confection for the sort of people who cycle to quirky coffee shops, and shop at Waitrose. People who worry about things like house prices, The Best Schools, and what channel "GBBO" is on. It doesn't matter what channel its on. What these people don't realise is that the BBC doesn't exist anymore - it hasn't been the BBC for years. Television Centre is now luxury flats. The bought-in content the BBC transmits might just as well be on Channel 4, or 5, or Netflix, because the BBC doesn't actually make most of its shows. They're made by independent production companies, like the money-grabbing Love Productions, who blighted us with GBBO, and the chatter surrounding it, in the first place.
I've seen the poster for Theo & Hugo on the Tube over the past few of weeks. It's the second time this year I've seen a poster advertising a gay film out there in the mainstream world. The other one was for Departure, another Peccadillo Pictures feature. I saw both films at this year's BFI Flare, and they were hands down the worst of all the films I saw. But whereas Departureis a rich kid's vanity project, filmed at a chum's luxury French chateau, boosted by establishment chums at the BFI, and now regurgitated by well-to-do chums at Peccadillo, Theo & Hugo is merely interminable (despite an extended orgy sequence that's about as sexy as a mud wrestling match between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.)
Jaden and Willow Smith's latest photoshoot is a bit weird, innit? Talk about incestuous. I wouldn't mind if it was Will and Jaden (and let's face it, it's not like they haven't French-kissed in public before). I know, I'm going to hell.
S k o o l A r t i s n o t a t h i n g , i t i s a w a y .
Strip superstars Yemi & Femi are them ones you cuss to your friends, then stalk on Instagram. They're too nice, too peng, too hench, and too much. And their grills, though...
Their graphic novel debut soon come, and you can always catch them on John's official site. Copies of Yemi & Femi's debut - Yemi & Femi's Fun Night Out - are available for free (UK only). Contact John at email@example.com. For orders outside of the UK, please enquire.
It's been a long time since we've had an MP sex scandal as juicy as Keith Vaz and his trio of male hookers. It's hard to justify his behaviour - not the the hiring of young men for sex, per se - hell, if I win the lottery, I'll have one for breakfast, two for lunch, and half a dozen for dinner three times a week - but the awful harm done to his (presumably) unsuspecting wife and children. That aside, Vaz isn't a hypocrite: he has supported gay equality and the decriminalisation of sex work, and spoke up against the ban on poppers, saying "The government recognises that representations have been made to the effect that 'poppers' have a beneficial health and relationship effect in enabling anal sex for some men who have sex with men, amid concern about the impact of the ban on these men."
It was with thirsty anticipation that I fell upon approached the new Titan Men scene scene starring Micah Brandt, with David Benjamin. And then, the spit. Micah - one of the hottest men in gay porn right now - starts it off, gobbing into Benjamin's mouth. It's like when you suddenly see some random toe-sucking in a scene. It's niche, and it's fetish, and only a minority want to see that shit. Gross. Micah (whose Twitter is always entertaining, was one of the KAOS Top 20 Porn Stars if 2013) is rarely teamed up with anyone as remotely sexy as he is. He remains a wasted talent.
The legendary Maxwell (mid-90s neo-soul royalty) has teamed up with Mary J. Blige for a "King + Queen of Hearts World Tour". It's like wearing Primark with Gucci. I don't see it as a match, and not just because I personally dislike the warbling, caterwauling Bilge, (who's probably just desperate for the cash), but I'd sooner have seen him step out on stage with Toni Braxton.
RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars' second season has thus far been oddly lacklustre, more so when Tatianna sashayed away. Everyone wanted to see more of Tatianna (the same can't be said for newly departed Ginger Minj, sent packing by a show-stealing Alyssa Edwards). It's also a shame that Untucked appears to have been folded into the main show, and now takes place in the workroom. I was a big fan of the stripped back, documentary-style incarnation of Untucked from season eight - I hope it hasn't gone for good (the same can't be said for Phi Phi O'Hara, who appears to have lost her Redemption script. But who wants to see a good Phi Phi?)
I've tried with Orange Is The New Black. I started watching a month or so back, galvanised by the hype (and a free trial of Netflix), but it's just not working for me. And I love prison shows. I've watched Oz from start to finish (several times over), and I'm still making my way through cult classic Prisoner (Bea Smith is everything). But OITNB - with its tepid lead Piper (who has the charisma of a limp lettuce leaf), and weird tone (sometimes it's like watching Saved By The Bell) - leaves me bored and confused. There might be some truth there, but the telling is self-indulgent and hamfisted. I'll stick with early '80s Wentworth Detention Centre, and return visits to Oswald State Penitentiary.
Last week I wrote about being won over by streaming. But in this era of peak TV, is it a case of too much of a good thing? All those shows we've been told are the best TV show of the year/decade/ever are instantly available, with hundreds, if not thousands, of episodes. That's another reason I'm bailing on OITNB - why waste time with a show that's only barely lukewarm? Another show I'm struggling with is Wayward Pines, so brilliant in its first season, but whose sophomore effort has turned to shit - despite the presence of Djimon Hounsou (I spelt his name without having to resort to Google!) - and the delicious Christopher Meyer (left). In fact, Wayward Pines' second season, tragically, is a textbook example of flogging a dead horse.
Outrage and controversy. The keyboard activists love it. First of all we had infamous bigot Bette Midler's "transphobic" Tweet (it wasn't. It was a Caityawn Jenner-phobic comment. I'm with her, and I don't mean the Rethuglican), and now Coronation Street has been tried and convicted (by social media) of racism. Here's the incriminating evidence: Eva Price, played by Catherine Tyldesley, visits Audrey’s hair salon, where she remarks: “I have more roots than Kunta Kinte. No idea who that is, by the way, just something my mum used to say.” Let's set aside the obvious, that is, that it's not an attack on Kunta Kinte, but a knowing wink at half the audience about the dizzy blonde character, and the other half (I'm being generous) who actually don't know who Kunta Kinte is. You can hear the cry go up from living rooms up and down the land, "What the 'eck's a Coonder Kinder?" "I think he was on The X Factor." I'd like to see some actual casual racism from characters in our soaps, because guess what, that's what happens in real life. Let's see that. Let's be real.
But Bette apologised for her supposed trans-gression, and a Coronation Street spokesperson has said, “We apologise if this dialogue has caused offence.” No apology necessary, guys. Professing outrage doesn't mean they're entitled to an apology. However hard it is, tell them to go f**k themselves. Now, Ellen's Bolt meme... That's another story.
What's the point of ubiquitous gay porn star Johnny Rapid (right)? I get there's a market for everything, and he's kind of cute, in a "walk-on drug dealer in an episode of Law & Order" kind of way, but he hasn't ever seen the inside of a gym, or the rays of the sun. He isn't even a halfway decent performer. And by all accounts, he's a pretty revolting human being, too. Make America great again: get rid.
Do you ever watch The Golden Girls, or its mid-2000s tribute act Noah's Arc, and wish you were Rose/Noah, Blanche/Ricky, Dorothy/Chance, or Sophia/Alex? Not exactly that you were them, as such, but that you had what they had. I have some amazing friends, but they don't knit together like The Golden Girls. I wish they did; I'd love a close gay family, not one that's scattered and disparate. One is in the thrall of a sort of Primark RuPaul. Two others are frenemies, locked in a competition over men (Brandon steals Kris's boyfriends, or vice versa, depending on who's telling the tale). And recently, I arranged a nocturnal adventure with my two nearest and dearest, which ended in a meltdown so epic it stopped traffic. Literally. Another friend won't speak to me when he's in a relationship ("Ray", who you may remember from this post)... As Elaine once said in Seinfeld, "I gotta get some new friends."
Doris Day gives one of her most beloved performances in her favorite motion picture Calamity Jane (1953).
Directed by David Butler and co-starring Howard Keel. Shot in Technicolor, it has a gorgeous score by Ray Heindorf and won Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster an Oscar for Best Song (Secret Love). Day and Keel are funny romantic and simply terrific together. It’s musical extravaganza not to be missed! Steve Hayes
It's unfathomable that the monstrous Stephen Bear has won Celebrity Big Brother. But then the show's viewers - most of whom are women - hate women. The strength of character (in the context of Big Brother) displayed by Aubrey O'Day and Renee Graziano, in the face of un-Bear-able behaviour, means they were classed as "bitches", whilst Bear's behaviour, no matter how vile, was forgiven: he's "just a lad", after all, "just being himself". Women are condemned as bitches if they stand up to bullying men, and whores if they play by their rules. Big Brother's viewership enforce these rules with depressing predictability, making sure to evict every "bitch" or "whore" who steps out of line.
Post-Olympic blues? No need! There were IAAF meets in Lausanne and Paris this weekend. Olympians Pascal Martinot-Lagarde (better known to me as bae), Dimitri Bascou, and gold medalist Omar McLeod all competed in the Men's 110m Hurdles, together with KAOS favourite David Oliver (he of the insane deltoids, and obsessive Arsenal fan) who sadly wasn't present in Rio. Seriously, check out his Twitter - you'd never guess he was a hurdler, such is the volume of posts about Arsenal... Neither Oliver or Martinot-Lagarde did well, and sadly, I didn't see any of my new athletics crush Almaz Ayana, although Natasha Hastings was there (with Rio fever, I've actually started paying attention to the girls. Turns out they're just as good at it as the boys). Berlin hosts the next track and field event on 3rd September.
Over the last few weeks I've finally embraced streaming, and reluctantly accepted the death of DVD. Kind of. I've been watching The Office on Netflix, despite owning it on DVD. It's just easier than fiddling with discs, trying to remember which one you're on (Netflix does that for you) - although I suspect they've mucked about with the aspect ratio... But I won't throw away my physical boxset of The Office, because there's no guarantee it'll always be on Netflix. The trouble with streaming is you sacrifice control for convenience. I don't want a faceless corporation deciding what I can and can't watch.
Over the weekend I finally reached out to a close friend, one from whom I've increasingly become estranged. It had been a while. He can't bear confrontation, and I tend to charge at it. I didn't know what to say, and so for a while I said nothing. I still got it wrong; saying things I shouldn't have done, and regretting it afterwards. But the shadows of a false prophet, a hack poet, and a world of unresolved hurt and injustice still loom large. How do you move past that?
Finally, congratulations to my beloved bestie, vlogger Rogue "Marbie" Scott, who today is celebrating his 8th wedding anniversary. #MarriageEquality
"I would also like to take this opportunity to squash the persistent rumours about mysterious 'disappearances' and emphasize that rural and urban areas are now enjoying a life of harmony and peace. I'm sure you're glad to hear this. And I'm happy you're glad."