let me put you in the major key

"Cos your X is equal to my Y but equations pass me by"

So, long time, no blog. It appears that the life of a student was more conducive to obsessively blogging about the state of pop music and upon graduation, life interrupted somewhat. In the intervening time, much has changed and much has remained the same. Inevitably older and wiser and quite a lot geekier (evolutionary biology has become a recent obsession), I am also almost in possession of some postnominals. Yes, dear readers, I have succumbed to the career choice which was so obviously staring me in the face all this time, I am (barring failure of my dissertation), a qualified librarian.

Goodness knows why it took me so long to realise it (after all, I'd only been working in libraries for about four years before I had my epiphany) but once I did, the heavens opened and the angels and St Dewey were gazing down upon me. (As you might be able to tell, I'm not one of those librarians who is actively fighting the stereotype. Belle & Sebastian, tea and cardigans, there are some things that you just cannot fight in my experience.)

I refer to myself as a librarian but let me pose a philosophical question to you: is a librarian really a librarian without a job? This morning I received a letter from The Daily Mail turning me down for a job. The Guardian reader in me is obviously thrilled, despite the fact that The Daily Mail is responsible for my favourite news article of recent times. (Seriously, every line is this article is a JOY to behold. Where to start? The somewhat eccentric capitalisation of "SWEET" in the first sentance? Mr Simpkins' assertion that the lime is the gentleman in the coupling? Or the distress of poor Mrs Simpkins whose frayed nerves could only be soothed by reclining on some car park tarmac?) So, whilst my moral compass and general principles are quite happy not to be swallowed up by the beast of Middle England, my unemployed ego cannot help but be a little bruised from a rejection from The Daily Mail.

It seems that today is turning out to be one of those days in which the past comes drifting up in front of you. My Facebook status regarding MailGate has attracted a raft of comments from people that I've lost touch with or don't know very well. I've dusted off my copy of Ghosts after reading this interview with Siobhan Donaghy. And finally, I find myself here again. And to think that the day isn't over yet, what else could come back to haunt us? We can but hope that this retrograde in my life does not extend to something like Menswe@r reforming.

Things I have learnt this week:

- The new Girls of Allowedness single, the idiosyncratically titled Sexy! No, no, no..., leaked this week and somewhat improbably the Internet is in disarray over the correct punctuation to be used when referring to the latest Girls Aloud opus. There is some discussion on the last.fm listing for it and also on Popjustice. (For the record I am sticking to the exclaimation mark, commas and ellipses and if anyone wants to quibble, talk to the Wikipedia entry because the face ain't listening.) Anyway, despite the citizens of Popjustice having simulateous multiple orgasms over it, I can't quite seem to bring myself to adore it in the same way. I've listened to it ten times now and it does indeed sound like Girls Aloud having a particularly melodious rave in a Black & Decker warehouse, I'm still not convinced. It's a bit like that girl at school that everybody loves and is perfectly nice and sweet but you still just don't like her.*

- I've rediscovered my love for the Harry Potter books (though I still maintain that JK Rowling is in need of a stricter editor). After seeing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix last week (more on which later) I've been in Potter-mode again. Somewhat foolishly, I thought I'd be able to plough my way through the previous six books in a week. I gave up on this foolhardy plan when it got to Wednesday and I was only halfway through the first book, so I just skipped ahead to the penultimate book. However, because I'm a working gal now I only managed to finish Half Blood Prince on Saturday evening in between frantically texting all my friends and commanding them not to tell me anything on punishment of death (or at the very least, a very stern glare). Anyway, I managed to speed read my way through Deathly Hallows in between pottering around with cups of tea (no pun intended) and sporting the Autumn/Winter look for Death Eateresses everywhere:

What could be more useful for those stay-at-home Death Eateresses than a handy headscarf that not only shows your allegiance to the Dark Lord but also keeps your hair out of your eyes while you clean the house and torture Muggles? Available at all reputable evil emporiums.

I found myself somewhat disappointed with the last two books, I felt that they didn't add much in terms of the story arc and characterisation of Harry himself (I became increasingly annoyed with his outbursts of self-righteous anger) and they needed serious editing. Also, I realise that JK Rowling's readership would have grown up quite a bit in the years since the first Harry Potter book was published and that accordingly the books have gotten darker and more adult in tone but the gap in between Philosopher's Stone and Deathly Hallows is more like a chasm. In the same way that I don't regard the His Dark Materials trilogy as children's books but more for the Young Adult readership, the Harry Potter series from Order of the Phoenix onwards is definately not aimed at the 8 year old who might have just started reading the series. Anyway, perhaps it's because I didn't devour this volume in the same way that I did the others that I enjoyed it on first reading much more. (Also, I must admit it's also because I had quite a few smug moments where my theories were confirmed...) Also, you can't beat a bit of Molly Weasley swearing which is quite possibly my favourite moment in the entire series. So in summary, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - yay!

- I've been Miss Freebies lately because I've been stalking Martin Lewis's forums lately. There was a time where I managed to get free preview screening tickets almost every week but Heat magazine seemed to stop running these screenings. Anyway, I managed to make up for lost time and I procured free tickets for Sherrybaby, Hairspray, Transformers and Knocked Up. I'd heard a lot about Sherrybaby at the beginning of the year during the awards season and my interest was piqued because there was talk about Maggie Gyllenhaal's Oscar-worthy performance (and also because I have a girl-crush on Maggie). Anyway, the film wasn't what I expected, I was thinking more along the lines of a triumph-over-adversity, scene-chewing type of thing (see Will Smith in The Pursuit of Happyness) but it was something far more nuanced and complex than that. In the hands of a far less capable and intelligent actress than Maggie, Sherry would have been a far more straightforward and sympathetic character but instead we get this girl who bounces from being closed and tightly-wound agression borne of incarceration, self-assured seductress and overbearing euphoria of a mother being reunited with her daughter. I'm not sure that saying I enjoyed the film would be entirely accurate. The ever-present thunudering skies and rain in London failed to diminish my usual sunny optimism but Sherrybaby succeeded where British weather failed.

Speaking of failures and damp squibs, where Spider-Man 3, Shrek the Third and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End bombed spectacularly (in terms of the summer box office season that is), I'm hoping Hairspray will emerge as the plucky all-singing, all-dancing underdog. I shall level with you dear readers, I wasn't convinced that John Travolta in a fat suit would constitute what one would usually term as an evening's entertainment but I haven't seen a film that fizzes and sparks on the screen this way since Hot Fuzz earlier this year. I knew that loving Hairspray couldn't be wrong when about twenty minutes in, Allison Janney appeared onscreen and we all know that it's impossible to dislike anything that Allison Janney's in and therefore everything that Allison Janney is in is AMAZING. We are, after all, talking about a woman who has portrayed Ms. Perky in 10 Things I Hate About You, Peach the Starfish in Finding Nemo and of course, Claudia Jean Cregg in the West Wing. I must admit, I've never seen the John Waters original after being severly put off his ouvre when I was required to watch Pink Flamingos (final scene included) for a film class at university but Stuart reassures me that anything after the 1980s is safe from Divine masticating dog excrement so I'm adding Hairspray, Cry Baby and Pecker to my Amazon rental list. (Though I am still ploughing my way through DI Sam Tyler's adventures with the scary TV test card girl and her clown so it'll be a while before I can test Stuart's theory.)

It's fair to say that it's taken me quite a while to separate my favourite novels from their celluloid twins but I think I've finally learnt to let go and enjoy the Harry Potter films. It does help that Chris Columbus is no longer turning the franchise into two hour long wades through treacle. It also helps that Order of the Phoenix isn't one of my favourites of the series and in being trimmed down for the screen, it's also lost a lot of the narrative fat that I thought was unnecessary in the first place. It's as enjoyable as all the other Harry Potter films, the CGI excellent, the production design detailed and sumptuous as ever and with the franchise's reputation of seemingly cast every British actor ever born in it, you can guarantee great performances (perhaps less so in Daniel Radcliffe's case but moving swiftly on...) However, we're getting to the stage where the films are getting a bit predictable and they're just trundling along and despite changing directors more frequently than Paris Hilton does her paramors, the franchise needs to get a more interesting and slightly more avant garde creative team in. Terry Gilliam's name has been bandied about and an excellent choice he would be too but I just think that Tim Burton or Guillermo del Toro would be a perfect fit, especially for the last few films.

- More on the living moral parable of our times that is Shayne Ward. It appears that the karmic retribution for tossing a dwarf into a swimming pool is great indeed.

- Our favourite goth moron, Victoria Newton, has created an even more idio moniker for a genre than nu-rave - the 'whatevah!' set. Nope, me neither.

- Look! My other favourite Alyson on TV is a brunette now!

OK, bedtime now. I've two more episodes to watch before I finish the sixth season of the West Wing, hurrah!

* This being the Girls of Allowedness and me being me, I will probably have changed my mind in an hour when I will have a popiphany (yes, really) and realise that it's the best thing I've heard since the opening guitar line of Love Machine.

Random things for a Friday afternoon:

I've been meaning to post about the Peckham Pet-Tastic thing I went to a few weeks ago. For those of you not in the know regarding pet fancy-dress picnics in South-East London, it's an art project conceived by Rachael House which is really just an excuse to slap a pair of angel wings on your greyhound. Anyway, nothing like free popcorn and dogs in fancy dress to bring the crowds out on a Saturday afternoon:

Look what I found on my doormat when I returned home this afternoon!

It's nice to see that the Church is branching out into multi-lingual leaflets. I guess they have to compete with those pesky Jehovah's Witnesses with their hard-sell techniques. (Seriously, Sir Alan Sugar needn't look any further than the nearest Jehovah's Witness hall for his next apprentice. I bet a Jehovah's Witness could sell ten times the amount of QVC tat that Simon Ambrose could. Although considering Simon's sales record, that's not really saying much.) Anyway, nice try Christians, I'm not Chinese therefore I win! I am however a little worried that they knew to post the Chinese leaflet into my house.

It's obviously slow news day for Victoria Newton today because she's reporting that the Arctic Monkeys are getting a Soviet makeover. Well, at least Alex Turner is because apparently he's only answering to Aleks Turner now. Her source displays a sort of wonky logic here: “He has set up an email account in the name Aleks and now signs off with it. It’s the sort of quirky and rather puzzling thing that he does. I hope it doesn’t go too far. He’ll start replacing his name with a picture of a monkey next.” Quite.

You know, I thought the Michelle McManus/Discotivity! story was going to be my favourite showbiz story until I read this. Bearing in mind that this is the work of Victoria Newton, I am a little skeptical but surely even La Newton wouldn't stoop to slandering Shayne Ward's good name using dwarf wrestlers? The article features what is quite possibly my favourite opening line of any news article ever: "Shayne Ward almost drowned a midget on the set of his new video." Amazing.

I was going to write a review of Sherrybaby and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (both of which I saw this week) but I've just realised that I'm running late for a televisual date with DI Sam Tyler. More later. Pip pip.

Things I have learnt this month:

- Despite having a leaked copy for a few months now, the Siobhan Donaghy album is marvellous. Even more so when it's accompanied by gorgeous artwork (courtesy of the dark genius of Floria Sigismondi) and the ever elusive lyrics of Ghosts. I cannot lie to you dear readers, I am somewhat disappointed that one of the lyrics is: "Phwoar so spirit smother me in" but really I shouldn't complain when it also includes other lyrical gems such as: "Fuel full fat her glass of milk". But anyway, all this doesn't detract of her status as a Sacred Cow of Pop and judging from the album booklet, even Siobhan herself is aware of her own canonization:

- Despite my ongoing reservations about hairdressers, I decided to get my hair cut again. It was reaching ridiculous Rapunzel-esque proportions and I have a rule about waist length hair being unacceptable on anyone older than 9. Needless to say, I should have trusted my instincts and left well alone because it's been a month since The Cut and only now am I growing to like my hair again. For a long month, on a good day it felt like a wig and on a bad day it felt like a cheap wig of a pre-op male to female transsexual. Spot the difference:

- It's nice to see that Mutya's record label are wise enough to realise that Song 4 Mutya has "Stomper of the Summer" tattooed across it (which considering the Mighty Buena's involvement is probably in a classy place like it's upper thigh or strategically placed above it's heaving bosom. Ahem, I seem to have wandered off track somewhat.) So, like much of the Popjustice readership, I am still wondering why the promo video is so flat:

At least she scrubs up nice in the video. Unlike the alternative version that she's promoting on her website:

A prime example of why popstrels should not be let loose with Microsoft PowerPoint.

Popjustice ran an article today on alternative treatments for the Song 4 Mutya video. The winning entry adheres to one of the Cardinal Rule of Pop Greatness, "Thou shalt have multiple popstrels with the use of fancy CGI" (see also: Kylie "Come Into My World, Rachel Stevens "Negotiate With Love" etc.) To this end, I would like to see a video with multiple Mutyas exacting various revenge scenarios on her ex-boyfriend and his new floozy, one of which could have a shoddy 'festival' setting, thus bringing the whole thing full circle.

- I discovered this page today, thecustard.tv's list of new and upcoming programming for the year. Some of it reads scarily like TV Go Home, selected lowlights include:

- 12 Angry Celebrities ITV1 – Reality show in which celebrities act as the jury in a fictional murder trial.

- Bonekickers BBC1 – Drama about archaeologists written by Ashley Pharoah and Matthew Graham, of Life On Mars fame.

- The Calais Rules 2007 BBC2 – Sitcom featuring badly behaved BBC foreign correspondents, written by journalists Tira Shubart and Sandra Jones with Jon Rolph – producer of French & Saunders. (This has more than a whiff of "The White Van" in "Adrian Mole & The Cappucino Years")

- The Clock Is Ticking BBC1 Saturday night game show fronted by Dick & Dom (Richard McCourt and Dominic Wood) in which contestants sit in a room with no clock. When they emerge, they have to guess how much time is left to win a cash prize.(Just when you thought television quiz shows couldn't get any more heart-palpitatingly, thrillingly suspenseful...they don't.)

- DanceX Saturday 14 July 2007, BBC1 – Saturday evening reality TV show hosted by Ben Shephard to find a new dance troupe like 1980s sensations Hot Gossip. Strictly Come Dancing judges Arlene Phillips, who choreographed Hot Gossip for their appearances on Kenny Everett's ITV shows, and Bruno Tonioli will compete to create the best troupe.

- Delia Smith's Apprentice BBC – In the planning stages, the cookery queen is set to appear in a series in which she picks an apprentice from a group of hopefuls. (We can but hope that Sir Alan's catchphrase, "You're fired" is given a somewhat more literal interpretation in this version.)

- Dickinson's Real Deal 2007, ITV1 – Seventy more editions of David Dickinson's antiques challenge. (Seventy??)

- Dumped 2007, Channel 4 – Reality show in which 10 people go to live on Britain's biggest rubbish dump and learn to live a comfortable life on recycled materials. (Again, we can only hope that this synopsis is not merely badly phrased and the contestants actually have to find a comfortable position on which to sit on a pile of recycled materials for a prolonged amount of time.)

- Food Poker BBC2 – Series combining poker and cookery in which two chefs compete against each other to win ingredients for a dish by playing cards before a member of the studio audience picks the best creation.

Clearly, the void in my life that has been left by Doctor Who and Any Dream Will Do is set to yawn through to next year. Thank goodness I have two seasons of The West Wing that I've not yet viewed to see me through.

The Wolf Chorus

This is quite possibly my favourite thing on the interweb. Ever.

I think that the boy Wolf should abandon his band and just have these boys instead. It would certainly mean no more of those pesky "Patrick Wolf brutalizes drummer shocker!" headlines. (Although I guess it's entirely feasible that there would be "Patrick Wolf brutalizes human beat boxer shocker!" headlines.) Well, if La Wolf doesn't want them, I would like them miniaturized and installed in my car instead.

"They tried to make me sign a pre-nup / I said 'no no no'"

Reportedly Mr. Amy Winehouse's words, not mine. Yes, Dame Amy of Winehouse is now officially Duchess Amy of Civil-Engineering (or something like that).

Anyway, I am off for seven days in the sun (more like a few days as the weather forecast for Gran Canaria is looking suspiciously drizzly) so I wanted to post the answers to my IMDb quiz before I come back addled with sunstroke:

1 // Hit by bus / Mathematics / Suspected lesbian - Mean Girls
2 // 2500s / Kicked in the crotch / Terraforming - Serenity
3 // Frozen river / Audio cassette / Poetry - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
4 // Herpetology / Child bride / Scrabble - Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
5 // Sunglasses / Thick accent / Scale model of city - Hot Fuzz
6 // Language barrier / Title spoken by character / Christmas card - Love Actually
7 // Body waxing / Asthma / Heiress - Hitch
8 // Bathhouse / Identical twins / Environmentalism - Spirited Away (or indeed the Olson's Bette Midler biopic, don't you know?)
9 // Pop music / Misfit / Funeral - High Fidelity
10 // Nazi experiment / Narration from the grave / Rubik's cube - Hellboy

How many did you get right? Right, have to finish packing now, pip pip!

There is a beautiful ramshackle house covered in vines opposide my house. For the past week, I have noticed lighting vans and a winnebago parked outside from very early in the morning to very late at night. Then last night, I spied some men in waterproofs emerging out of the church hall clutching some sandwiches. I've been vaguely wondering (considering my luck with being in close proximity to Doctor Who sets) whether it was anything exciting. Sadly, I've had little (i.e. none) in the way of celebtacular action. Then I happened to mention to a friend in an email today whose interest was piqued and she decided to Google it and imagine my surprise when I hear that it's Madonna filming her directorial debut, Filth and Wisdom. If only it were Girls Aloud, I would rush the set straightaway. As it is, I am going to strategically walk past the house on the way to work tomorrow to try and spy. Yes, I am that pathetic that this may be the highlight of my week. (I reserve judgement as I am going to be in the audience for QI tomorrow and my love for Stephen Fry is seemingly limitless.)

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