Election Flu

A kind soul at the BBC decided to display on the TV screen that there’s 40 days left until the election… is it just me or is the coverage already boring, depressing and altogether too full of barely-distinguishable white dudes?

I’m tempted to do a mini-series – well, a series – where I blog about the election, maybe like The Six O’Clock News. I’ve been meaning to get info about the candidates in my constituency, to take the piss if nothing else. So far there’s been no door-to-door lark except for a Green Party leaflet. How am I supposed to decide how to cast my vote if the only constituent I’ve any understanding of is Mr Green Party?

(For the record, I live in Essex and there’s a higher chance of the Lib Dems taking the seat than there is of a Green winner. I am 80% sure it’s going to go UKIP and that makes me want to move.)

Anyway, I will sleep on it and decide whether it’s worthwhile doing genuine work about these fuckers. I mean, with the best will in the world they’ll all still be fuckers by May, and the people who don’t care now probably won’t care then either. But it is quite tempting to embark on a 40-day piss-take, like a grumpy atheist Noah. God, what a thought.

Dogs and ’90s Hairstyles

I was going to start this with ‘happy Wednesday’… happy Tuesday. I’m going to make a coffee after this.

Thank you to everyone for the love for the MCR post! I’ve been blasting May Death Never Stop You for three days and there’s a definite correlation between the amount I listen to good music and the depth of my desire to colour my hair again. I must say, though, because I’ve been fortunate enough to have a few blogs that garner a lot of attention from people who aren’t regular readers, that I’m always nervous about the post that comes after. What if those one-off readers decide to stick around and expect more mind-altering and wonderful prose? You ain’t gonna get it today, ’cause I have two pieces of freelance work to finish, vacuum cleaning to do and I’m seeing a friend tomorrow so I’ve got to do whatever I might have done tomorrow today instead.

I haven’t got as far as planning tomorrow. Let’s pretend I was planning to hash together a blog!

We took Donnie to the specialist vet yesterday (good news: he’s not going to die of leishmania yet) and while we were in the waiting room we made the acquaintance of an Afghan hound. Until yesterday I had neither met nor seen pictures of Afghan hounds, and the only association I had with them was from a childhood book called The Great Big Glorious Book for Girls. I now realise the inherent and unnecessary sexism of the title, as it was essentially a compendium of fun facts and activities: it taught me how to stop a nosebleed, for example, and contained excellent Halloween ideas. It also had a section on famous hairstyles, and described Jennifer Aniston’s ‘Rachel’ do as making the wearer ‘look not unlike an Afghan hound’.

from hairstylesidea.us
from hairstylesidea.us
from Art.com
from Art.com                                                     

Sexist as fuck maybe, but not entirely wrong.

Graffiti on Graves

I don’t know if you guys share my morbid fascination with dates, but if you do then this is the post for you! It’s also the post for you if you like My Chemical Romance because it’s been two entire years since that day. There’s been some things I’ve wanted to talk about for a while, and now is as good a time as any. I’m going to use the five stages of grief because it was like getting dumped over the Internet the experiences of ending a relationship, bereavement and having your favourite band end are weirdly similar, and I think I can finally talk about My Chem (relatively) objectively, without wanting to cry or throw things.

Denial

After reading the announcement on the computer (the first hint I got was a lot of activity on my phone notifications) I think I wanted to puke for a couple of days, either from denial or shock. Then I read Gerard’s letter, cried a bit and I think I accepted it as reality. I am very aware that a lot of people on the Internet are still in denial – there was a spate of rumours last week, because the MCR website moved hosts and somehow streamed information about a Bruno Mars show. Then it was put on Tumblr and hey, MCR was back together! It made sense because it was near the second anniversary, and Gerard’s letter was very cryptic and they’ve attended each other’s shows recently and the breakup didn’t make sense and-

You get the drift. If anyone reading this is still at that stage, maybe because you didn’t get to attend a show or only got into them recently: I am very sorry that you missed out, but that doesn’t make you any less of a fan. It doesn’t invalidate your love of the music. It’s totally okay that you’re only getting into MCR now. I’m late to the Monty Python party by about 30 years. It doesn’t mean I’m any less into the parrot sketch.

Anger

There’s only one aspect of the breakup that has really angered me over the past couple of years, and I’m still not sure if I’ve recovered, but I’m not angry at MCR because it wasn’t in any way their fault. A big part of something being over is that it gives you the freedom to talk about it in a way you couldn’t when it was still around. Just as you can discuss aspects of a person’s life after they’re gone that you wouldn’t bring up while they’re still living, the MCR guys can be honest about what being in MCR was like. It was almost harder to hear than the end of MCR.

When I was first getting into the band, there was five years’ worth of interviews, videos and media to pour over, and it was pretty clear that The Black Parade and its touring cycle was bleak. What had been a rock opera about life and death which pushed the boundaries of modern rock became bastardised, twisted by ignorance into something unrecognisable. MCR was ‘the voice of a generation’ but the generation either loved it or beat up kids for being part of it. MCR was a suicide cult, a bastion of rock, an expression of everything right/wrong with the 21st century… everyone was glad when it was over. I kept up with the news from about 2008, and as time went by we learnt that the next record MCR made wasn’t good enough for release so it was shelved, re-imagined and transformed into Danger Days, which was exactly what MCR wanted to be making. It was everything art should be: unapologetic, the opposite from what you’ve just made and incredibly polarizing.

Except it wasn’t.

In the flurry of press that’s accompanied Hesitant Alien, G has talked a lot about how the band did not enjoy the recording nor the touring process, that the concept was very intense and the effort forced. It hurt to hear, partly because it always hurts to hear that someone you love who you thought was having a good time was not having a good time… and it hurt because during Danger Days I had the best time. I went to shows with my friends (and from our side of the stage it was a fucking party), I dressed up in stupid clothes, I absorbed all things Danger Days and decided that artistically, that was how I would work. Now I am an artist (well, I work in the arts) and I try to stick to those values. So learning, years later, that for MCR Danger Days was the opposite of what it taught me to be pissed me off. I don’t love the music any less, but I really, really wish I’d known when I was 15 that everything was not as it was portrayed in Kerrang!.

Can’t think why I’m reluctant to go into journalism.

Seemed pertinent. From  justkeepyourselfalive.tumblr.com
Seemed pertinent. From justkeepyourselfalive.tumblr.com

Bargaining

I do not know if this is something I’ve experienced, but I think other people might have. I’m not interested in offering up my soul, or money, to get the band back together. I don’t want to hear MCR songs played by the guys on solo tours, because that’s not MCR. I do not want to listen to a band that’s trying to be MCR, whether copycat or tribute. MCR only worked because it was those guys on that stage playing those songs. Anyone else, as far as I’m concerned, can fuck off.

Reluctance to get the band back together may in part be to the guys’ willingness to be open and generous with their time – Gerard’s Twitters, Frank’s insistence that he’ll meet everyone at a show, their continued kindness to the MCRmy. The end of MCR was not easy for anybody involved with it and they’ve been generous enough to make it easier. The guys who formed MCR are alive and continuing to make excellent music. The music itself is not going anywhere and I am grateful beyond words that it exists. The MCRmy is the same group of smart, friendly misfits it was when I first found it. I dunno about Tumblr, but I’ll take that over an actual death any day.

Depression

I must say I had a big problem with music magazines for a lot of 2013. I didn’t really go in music shops or watch music channels, and I couldn’t listen to live recordings because the hardest part to come to terms with was that there will never be another show. Then I went to #revenge10 and I don’t know if it was an inadvertent equivalent of a support group, but they had live recordings playing all day and it felt really normal. I suspect that’s because I was hanging out with other MCR fans and reaffirming my belief that we are the nicest group of people on the planet – plus that weekend I read Tom Bryant’s book, and reading MCR’s history from an objective viewpoint helped get some perspective and, I guess, closure.

Acceptance

MCR is done. Completely. I will never go to another show or spend an evening on a YouTube listening party. I’ll never have heart palpitations ordering show tickets again. I don’t think I want to, for two reasons. The first is that if you love someone, you want them to be happy. As hard as relationships are to end, or death is to cope with, if it means you aren’t in a bad relationship or someone you love isn’t in pain, it’s the right thing. Plus now we have solo albums to rock out to alongside MCR albums.

The second reason is that most bands get back together a few years down the line, either to top up their bank account or to assuage the onset of middle age with a trip down memory lane. MCR is not most bands. It has a start date and an end date and during those 12 years it was exactly what the world needed. Time will tell if the music stays relevant and in my incredibly not humble opinion I think it will, because good music is like good wine and there will always be people who need to hear those records and interviews and recordings. They’ll just hear them in the context of their time and circumstances.

Maybe they guys will play together again as friends – I have a daydream they’ll be in a blues and jazz band together in New Jersey when they’re 65 – but My Chemical Romance is finished.

I think I’m okay with that. Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to go rock out to my favourite band and send my friends pictures of us at the shows we went to.

Petitioning D&G?

I’m going to break an unofficial habit of a lifetime and talk fashion.

Haha, not actual fashion, snowflakes, that’d require interest in clothing other than my jeans. Dolce and Gabana, yah.

So if you pay attention to LGBT news, fashion news or the general news, you’ve probably heard that Misters Dolce and Gabbana have got themselves into trouble with Elton John, and anyone who’s ever used IVF or been part of a non-traditional family. Even though Dolce and Gabbana are definitely not traditional. And neither are lots of their clients. And most people.

I think they’re hypocritical, and short-sighted for not having considered the potential backlash, but if they think IVF babies are ‘synthetic’, that’s their prerogative. I’m not that interested in the bitchfest that’s started up either, because it’s not that different from any other bitchfest, and any argument via Instagram makes me feel a bit like this:

Found on Tumblr I think
Found on Tumblr I think

My conundrum is that the other day I got an email from All Out. I love All Out – they’re a LGBT rights group that works almost exclusively through online petitions, which tend to call for political change in regards to LGBT equality. They campaign to stop deportations of LGBT people to countries where they could be imprisoned, for example, and helped ensure the Olympic charter was altered to prohibit discrimination of athletes based on sexuality. I get to help the civil rights movement by doing a small thing that can help a lot of people. Yay!

This week All Out sent an email asking me to sign a petition asking D&G to ‘use your platform to open minds, rather than spreading hate’. They point out that D&G have ‘become part of the problem and not the solution’, which is true. Straight homophobes will almost definitely use their comments as excuses for discrimination… ‘the gays only like traditional families, let’s deny them the right to be one’. It’s gross. Plus they’re undermining all of the LGBT people who are living in fear of their lives or fighting to have their rights recognised.

But if D&G wanted to use their platform to promote LGBT rights, they would. They’ve already backtracked/elaborated on their comments (which were made in a magazine so could’ve been misprinted slightly in the first place?) and apparently they have different views about IVF and family anyway – none of which are really anyone else’s business. On the other hand, do they have a responsibility to be pro-anything-which-supports-LGBT-people, both as LGBT people and major designers? If they do, should I tell them that?

My gut feeling is that they should be allowed to say whatever they want, but also that they should know better. I won’t boycott the brand, mostly because that would involve having the money to buy from it, but I would pause for thought before accepting any D&G castoffs. I’m just not sure if it’s my place, as someone who’s pro-freedom of speech, to tell someone what to say. What do you guys think?

Ghost Stories Volume II!

For a moment this morning when I woke up I was grumpy, because Donnie was barking at some imaginary threat in the garden. But I’m now really grateful to the paranoid little fluffball because it means Ghost Stories II is up before 9am!

I don’t remember the last time I wrote a blog before 9am.

Ghost Stories II Cover

This issue it a bit different to the last, mostly because Comic Sans called to me, and who am I to refuse the temptation of awful fonts? Get it here and have a good Friday 13th!

Oh and if I Tweet weird things later it’s because I’m watching Comic Relief and grappling with the desire to donate my life savings.

You Really Can Find God in Unexpected Places

Generally speaking, I am a woman of little faith. I sometimes wish I enjoyed belief in a loving deity, as I think it must be nice to have someone to talk to when I’m feeling alone, and theists often appear to possess a serenity I only achieve after either consumption of a large amount of alcohol or a particularly successful session of Headspace.

Today, though, I definitely rethought the karma thing.

Blurred Lines Verdict bbc.co.uk

Why did none of us think to take these guys to court earlier? Blurred Lines is not only an affront to feminism, decent society, everybody’s sex lives and suits, but it’s also a total rip off. Plus, I don’t have to feel gross for wanting to dance to the catchiest tune since Na Na Na.

If there’s a god I like to think they’re laughing.

International Women’s Day ft. Men

Happy International Women’s Day! I spent ages looking for a GIF of Mary Elizabeth from Perks of Being a Wallflower saying “thanks for the crumb” but I couldn’t find one, so I’ve decided to not be too cynical… apart from to say “thanks for the crumb, we’ll go back to not existing for the next 364 days!”

Wait, I’ve changed my mind. I just glanced through the #HappyWomensDay tag on Twitter and Christ almighty, there are things to say.

This is an MCR reference that's actually relevant (well it had to happen sometime). from sunshinethekatt.tumblr.com
This is an MCR reference that’s actually relevant (well it had to happen sometime). From sunshinethekatt.tumblr.com

I almost wrote a blog yesterday about Selma and MLK’s I Have a Dream speech, but it felt contrived partly because I hadn’t done a lot of research but mostly because I haven’t been on the receiving end of racism to the point where I feel qualified to write about it. And that feels weird, because if, as a women, I read an article by a man which thoughtfully and carefully discussed women’s rights and sexism, I’d be delighted.

I recently stopped calling gay rights ‘LGBT rights’ and started saying ‘civil rights’ instead, because civil rights are people rights, and we are all people… right? At the risk of sounding like Tumblr, we all have something that makes us less-than citizens in the eyes of the law and society – unless we’re incredibly wealthy, straight, white men who have been highly educated. But that doesn’t mean wealthy, straight, white men who are highly educated can’t be just as passionate about civil rights as everyone else. Maybe they have a direct link with a minority group through their family or friends, or maybe they just have the capacity for empathy. Some of my favourite civil rights rants and gestures have been by the MCR guys – remember Frank’s homophobia is gay t-shirt? Or when Gerard did that Q&A and talked about gender fluidity?

I’ll probably end up writing something about MLK or Selma, but not until I’ve got the time to make it a decent piece of work. I’ll still get really nervous, though, that black people are will say “fucking white girl has no idea what she’s on about and just made things worse.” I don’t want to step on toes, I want to show that we are all people who deserve the exact same rights and treatment regardless of the characteristics we can’t control.

I’m going to stop talking before I ramble my way into a hole. Does any of this make sense to you guys? I mean, I’m definitely more eloquent than those people on Twitter, but it wasn’t hard…

Such a Beautiful Game…

I’ve been working on Ghost Stories II and on copywriting a lot lately so my indifferent ignorance radar has been turned to low. Or maybe the thought of analysing Mohammed Emwazi is too depressing to make a reality. Actually, the rest of the news is pretty grim as well, and I feel like it’s way too soon to make jokes about the sex abuse in Oxford or baby deaths in Cumbria.

It may never be a good time for joking about those things.

In fact, the most laughable piece of mainstream news at the moment is the Qatar football fiasco. When the bid was announced, I a) didn’t care and b) thought that they had already decided to host the competition in December. Apparently it’s taken until now for Fifa to make anything official, and people are grumbling about the fact it will upset league competitions.

Shouldn’t Fifa have thought about that before they accepted bribes from the Qataris? I mean, if I was going to take money for something, and if I knew other people were going to know it, I’d take pains to make sure I got a deal so sweet no one cared about the corruption. Or maybe the Fifa people decided they got paid enough not to give a shit about anything else.

Sometimes I am very glad that I’m not invested in team sports. What do you think the odds are that, by the time 2022 rolls around, Fifa will think the same thing?