Monday List: RuPaul Parodies That Should Be Done

In honour of the Season 10 final four (#TeamAsia), enjoy these five suggestions for the future seasons. Got better ones? Leave a comment below!

1. Murder on the Whore-ient Express

I mean, how has thus not been done already?! Melodramatic, riddled with stereotypes and full of great costume opportunities, Agatha Christie (Hag-atha Christie? Agatha Bitchy?) is easy pickings for RuPaul and his posse. Imagine the exaggerated death scenes. So much potential for bitch slaps here.

2. PRIDE ūüŹ≥ÔłŹ‚ÄćūüĆą and Prejudice/Jane Whore-sten

Okay, so I can’t quite think of the puns, but hear me out. Again, pretty costumes. They literally have balls in these books. There is a house called “NETHERfield”. There are a wealth of ott female characters. Bendelacreme’s Snatch Game Maggie Smith shares a lot of similarities with Lady Catherine de Bourgh. The Colin Firth-lake scene? I’m sure the Pit Crew would be more than happy to oblige…

3. Wuthering Tights/Jane Hair

Catherine Earnshaw is so extra, she might as well have been a drag queen. If Kate Bush is ever a guest judge (please Drag Gods make this happen), there is no question what should be the main challenge – or the lip sync song for that matter. Pit the Brontes against each other with this team challenge. Nick some inspiration for Jane’s Red Room from Christian Grey’s infamous version, and we’ll be off to a good start.

4. Great British Cake Off

Like The Bitchelor in All Stars 3, reality shows are always good fun, with a big variety of characters allowing different queens to play to their strengths and improv a bit. This one has the added bonus of being British, so we can all enjoy some terrible terrible accent attempts, and perhaps a Mary/Prue/resident older woman impression or two. And think of all the fun that could be had with the baked goods Р#DragFoodFight.

5. Fahrenheit 69 #DragDystopia

Just for the title alone…

With thanks to Sam (@SamButtler) for the punny names. 

Monday List: 5 Great Shakespeare Adaptations

I tend to think Shakespeare is best live and in a theatre – but with no shortage of screen adaptations, there are plenty of gems in there amidst the dullness of others. In honour of tonight’s broadcast of¬†King Lear¬†on¬†BBC Two¬†(9:30pm), enjoy this list of other fab adaptations of Shakespeare’s work.

  1. Shakespeare Re-Told: Much Ado About Nothing
    Re-telling Shakespeare in modern-day English, this series saw¬†James McAvoy¬†as a murderous Michelin-starred Macbeth,¬†Shirley Henderson¬†and¬†Rufus Sewell¬†as warring politicians in¬†The Taming of the Shrew, and¬†A Midsummer Night’s Dream¬†set in a caravan park. But none of those was as good as the joyous rewrite of Shakespeare’s best romcom (no arguments please) by¬†David Nicholls.¬†Sarah Parrish¬†and¬†Damien Lewis¬†are Beatrice and Benedick as broadcasters, whose bickering is too much to take for their colleagues. It’s light-hearted and funny, just as this play should be.
  2. The Hollow Crown: Richard II
    All of The Hollow Crown is fantastic; faithful to the text, beautifully shot and acted. This, the first of them, is still my favourite, partly because I love Ben Whishaw and Rory Kinnear, who star as Richard and Bolingbroke respectively. You can find my review from way back in 2012, when this was first aired here.
  3. A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Russell T Davies)
    If you’re looking for a more irreverent take on a classic than The Hollow Crown will give you, Russell T Davies’ version of¬†A Midsummer Night’s Dream should be right up your alley. However well you think you know this story of fairies and donkey heads and lovers, the last ten minutes will definitely surprise you. It’s also as star-studded as tonight’s¬†King Lear, with¬†Maxine Peake, Matt Lucas, John Hannah, Elaine Paige,¬†and a handful of excellent young RSC/Globe actors as Puck and the lovers.
  4. Shakespeare Live! From the RSC
    Not strictly a full adaptation, but this deserves a place on this list for the many joyous excerpts from Shakespeare scenes, starring many British national treasures. The¬†Rory Kinnear/Anne Marie Duff¬†Macbeth¬†scene is so gripping, it makes the recent¬†National Theatre¬†production feel like even more of a let-down. And who can forget the hilarious ‘To Be or Not To Be?’ sketch,¬†starring none other than Prince Charles.
  5. Romeo + Juliet (Baz Luhrmann, 1996)
    The absolute classic. I was planning to just focus on TV adaptations, but I couldn’t leave this out. Flashy and over-the-top and melodramatic, this is a perfectly teenagery, stylistic version of Shakespeare’s fatal romance, filled with lustful longing. Also Leonardo DiCaprio deserves to be on every list in existence.

Monday List: Three Worst ‘Classic’ Books

  1. On The Road Jack Kerouac
    An ultimate classic in the worst sense of the word. One of those books celebrated for its ‘authenticity’ and ‘rawness’, whilst sticking to all the cliches of the American male-crisis novel. Although there’s no denying that the rhythm, the juvenile longing of Kerouac’s prose is sometimes exciting, and even electrifying, the flatness of the female characters cannot but make it as a whole feel two-dimensional (see Alice Walsh’s great article on this, as well as The New Yorker’s opinion piece on Kerouac’s popularity). The plot centres around men wildly thrashing out against a female domestic sphere they perceive as closing in around them, choosing escape over security for the sake, they tell themselves, of their ‘souls’. Only when this domesticity is drawn authentically does this idea become interesting; and here it is not. If you want a better book about a desperate desire for something more, then read¬†Zora Neale Hurston‘s amazing novel,¬†Their Eyes Were Watching God. Same dissatisfaction, same passion, more tenderness, thought, and feeling.
  2. Heart of Darkness Joseph ConradCover Issues: Hesperus Books | Lulu's Bookshelf
    Talking of meaningless talk about ‘souls’, step up Joseph Conrad. Reading a few of¬†Chinua Achebe‘s essays and speeches, makes this choice feel particularly righteous. This is one of those books that leaves a bitter taste in the mouth, a faint feeling of disgust or frustration.¬†In 2003, Botswanan scholar Peter Mwikisa concluded the book was “the great lost opportunity to depict dialogue between Africa and Europe; I’m tempted to agree. The depiction of Congo as a place peopled with savages, with “rudimentary souls” is dangerous mythologism. But, to judge aside from the possible/probably racism, the book itself is also just a heavy, dark, intense read that, like both the others on this list, seems self-indulgent and ambiguous to the point of confusion. On the plus side… it’s short?!
  3. Wuthering Heights¬†Emily Bront√ęcovers for books: Wuthering Heights - The Mill on the ...
    You are either a Bront√ę or an Austen fan. It’s like Marmite: you can’t be both. I sit firmly on the side of Lizzie Bennett, of Emma Woodhouse, of headstrong heroines with high standards and witty narration.¬†Wuthering Heights¬†is the total opposite of this.¬†If Catherine Earnshaw lived today, she’d be the vampire friend; the one who always finishes a night out weeping at you in a corner, deliberately grinding on strangers to make her possessive partner jealous, or who just leaves you because she’s spotted some much cooler/fitter people.Image result for needy friend meme¬†The extreme emotions are too much for me (in particular love that borders on necrophilia – looking at you here Heathcliff). It’s the categorisation of this as one of literature’s greatest love stories that makes this a disappointment, as with its sister book¬†Jane Eyre. As a critique on Victorian class systems: great. As a romance: awful.

Monday List: Top Five Eurovision Moments 2018

Having spent Saturday night in Stockholm, complete with a trip to the (excellent) ABBA Museum, I am convinced that Eurovision embodies everything that Cultured AF represents; talented people mixed with undeniable trashiness. Here are our top five moments.

1. SuRie Gets Kanye West-ed

After Brexit, how to make the UK vaguely more likeable to the Europeans? Interrupt their performance with a protester storming onstage to shout about the “Nazis of the UK media”. Surely sympathy vote secured, right?*
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*well, no, we still came third from bottom. But still not last.

2. The Man With The Pipe

This guy has not got enough attention. In a turn reminiscent of the Russian grannies, or the Polish butter churner, Serbia brought on an old man with a Serbian flute to accompany their song ‘Nova Deca’. Looking like the crazy professor from¬†Back to the Future, he piped away with aplomb, adding some much needed interest to an otherwise kinda bland performance. Legend.

eurovision-2018-finale-serbia

3. The Whole of the Czech Performance

Pure 100% Dairy-Lea Babybel Cheese. Czech Olly Murs. Bum-wiggling. The lyrics. All of it was classic Eurovision. Genius.

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4. All of the Awkward Points-givers

I both love and hate this part. It takes f**king ages wow, but also seeing loads of awkward, over-dressed people in front of green screens, trying to grab every inch of screen-time given them is monotonously joyous.

There was the random attempt to make a Kanye West joke, the¬†La La Land¬†joke that belongs in 2017, the Swedish guy who started facing the wrong way for unknown reasons, the Norwegian dude in a blue LED mask…

Check out Graham Norton’s comments on this mess here.

5.¬†When Finland’s Singer was flipped upside down.

Because why not? It’s Eurovision! Singing on its own is not enough. SPIN YOURSELF ON A GIANT WHEEL WHILST SINGING.¬†That¬†is the level of commitment required.

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P.s. Why is RuPaul not a judge of Eurovision? Or Michelle Visage? Get on it for next year Israel.

Costume Ideas: My Dad Wrote a Porno

In honour of my upcoming trip to My Dad Wrote A Porno (Live) and based off of my mad panic today to brainstorm a costume at the last minute, I have compiled a list of ideas for all you Belinkers out there.

  • Alfie, the Smallish Man Dressed in Black.
    Simple. Be small. Dressed entirely in black. Looking vaguely like a tech guy probably helpful – you could hold some wires?
  • The Glee Team
    aka Belinda herself (think business but also wearing as little as humanly possible), plus Giselle (with half her hair ripped out) and who could forget the one and only Bella. Slash Donna. Just wear the sluttiest clothing you can think of, and if you’re Bella act incredibly dumb. Or if you want more of an obvious theme…
  • ¬†The Glee Team on Giselle’s Hen Do
    See above, but add penis memorabilia, sashes, badges, and all that jazz.
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  • The Duchess
    Wear riding kit – riding boots, jodhpurs, mole-hair jacket, helmet, and of course a riding crop.
    giphy (1).gif
  • The Chocolate Fountain/Lake
    Cover yourself in melted chocolate/brown paint and look like you’ve just stepped out of the Chocolat‚ĄĘ Chocolate Fountain. Or even dress as a Chocolat‚ĄĘ Chocolate Bar.¬†giphy (2).gif
  • Pomegranate(s)
    The infamous hanging pomegranates. Who can forget them?
    If you have the time and energy to put effort in, this is an amazing how-to video

    If you can’t be bothered, you could simply bring along a few pomegranates, or make a T-Shirt with two of this image on it (you know where)
    Half_Peeled_Pomegranate_BNC.jpg

  • A Bottle of Chilean Chardonnay
    Another iconic image. Dress in green or white, make a cork with a cone hat of brown paper, and stick a big fancy wine label on your shirt.
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  • The Regional Managers
    Go as one or all of Dave Wilcox, Ken Doonesbury, Des Martin or Patrick O’Hamlin. Dress in suits and look slightly insecure whenever a woman with boobs comes near you. Be as stereotypically Irish/Northern etc. as possible.
  • Helga
    Everything woolen. EVERYTHING.
  • A non-stick tin wok.
    Enough said. 

Monday List: Top Five Noughties RomComs

Recently watching the adorable Love, Simon made me remember how much I love a good romcom. But as cute as Love, Simon was, the ones you really love are the ones from teenage cinema trips or sleepover binge-watching – the ones that you bought on DVD because they had great special features. These are the best of those iconic noughties romcoms (also Bridget Jones’s Diary should be on here but I was deprived of this until last year so for me it: not noughties)

Don’t @ me.

  • A Cinderella Story

A retelling of the classic fairytale but with Hilary Duff, Chad Michael Murray, Regina King and Jennifer Coolidge. Don’t let anyone tell you different, this is the king (or princess?) of the noughties high school romcom. So many iconic moments. The roller skating salmon-serving diner. The stepsisters synchronised swimming. The car wash scene. Coolidge is hilarious throughout and the ending is perfect. Also some great lines: “Because waiting for you is like waiting for rain in this drought. Useless and disappointing.”

  • Love Actually

Lots of funny and cute love stories in (mostly) London at Christmas. Yes, no one can deny this film is problematic. But also it deserves a place up here just for the end montage scene alone. ‘God Only Knows’ was a good song before, but combo it with loads of clips of people greeting their loved ones at Heathrow airport = genius. How anyone can listen to the soundtrack of this film without getting emotional is beyond me. Also shout out to the deleted scenes which are almost more emotional than Emma Thompson’s crying scene (almost).

  • 27 Dresses

A perennial bridesmaid meets a wedding hater and they fall in love while arguing over whether weddings are good. Deserves to be on this list simply for making James Marsden the romantic lead. Also because the costume team on this were insane; if you are planning a wedding, watch this for tips on how not to dress your bridesmaids. Like very good romcom, this has a stellar song number in the middle – this time it’s ‘Benny and the Jets’ sung in a bar after our protagonists (Marsden and Katherine Heigl) end up drunk smashing a car in a thunderstorm. The ultimate guilty pleasure movie.

  • Music and Lyrics

This film is criminally underrated. Hugh Grant is a faded pop star (think the Kemps from Spandeau Ballet) who can write music but not lyrics, and just so happens to meet Drew Barrymore, lyric genius, as he’s gets a possible comeback opportunity. Grant shows off the comedy, self-mockery that made him so great in Paddington 2 (what a movie). There’s also an amazing fake Ke$ha kinda pop star in this, who is hilarious. The songs are ūüĎĆūüĎĆūüĎĆ. This is the film to watch when you’re ill; it’s both incredibly predictable and intensely likeable.

  • (500) Days of Summer

Artsy indie film starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as an architect (of course) mildly obsessed with Summer (the ultimate quirky Zooey Deschanel). Mainly great because of the soundtrack – Regina Spektor ftw. Also a young Chloe Grace Moretz is goals as she tells Gordon-Levitt how dumb he’s being throughout. Not a classic romcom, but has that same comforting feel of predictability nonetheless.

Did we miss your favourite? Let us know!

How to spend a bank holiday weekend

 

      1. Throughout the week, keep mentioning to people that it’s a bank holiday weekend in tones of surprise and joya
      2. On Friday exclaim “Excited for the weekend?!” to your colleagues, and give a knowing wink and a chuckle to indicate you know of the existence of the bank holiday.a
      3. Start drinking.a
      4. Lie in. For as long as humanly possible.a
      5. Enjoy the sun by wearing as little as possible and sitting outside rather than inside at the pub. BBQs optional. a.gif
      6. Make a to-do list of all the things you will do with your long weekend.a
      7. Ignore everything on the list. Drink more. Sleep more. Brunch. a
      8. Feel smug all of Monday. a
      9. Realise you have done nothing and it’s work tomorrow.a.gif
      10. Remember there’s another bank holiday at the end of the month.¬†a

 

Monday List: Top Five Podcasts

Welcome to the very first Cultured AF Monday Listicle. Enjoy weekly attempts to imitate Buzzfeed. First up…¬†Top Five Podcasts!

Having just started a job last September with an early wake-up and a far longer solo commute time than I’ve experienced before, podcasts have been my saviour. That being said, there’s a lot of rubbish out there that actually just makes the Piccadilly line feel even longer than it already is… These recommendations come after a lot of tiring and strenuous research. If you need something new to keep the journeys/dog walks/exercise fun, read on:

  1. The Debrief
    (Name change imminent as The Debrief webzine is being discontinued)
    A fun, funny, and intensely relatable podcast aimed at millennial/Gen Z women, hosts Stevie and Tessa chat about how to solve/deal with life’s problems. Episode titles include: ‘How To Survive A Hangover’, ‘How To Talk About Feminism’, ‘How To Deal with Cystitis’, ‘How To Enjoy Your Own Company’, and the excellent ‘How To Deal When Someone Has Dropped Your Heart Down Some Stairs’. Every episode starts with the hosts detailing one ‘adult’ thing they’ve done that week… be that keeping a plant alive, downloading a banking app, or buying some tupperware #relatableAF. This is my absolute go-to.
  2. Saturday Review
    For all you actually cultured people out there, this BBC podcast is your one-stop shop for keeping up to date with TV, film, theatre, music, exhibitions, books, and radio programmes. Hosted by the excellent Tom Sutcliffe, each week he and three guests watch/visit/read/listen to various cultural highlights – and lowlights – and then discuss. If you want recommendations and brutally honest critiques, this is the place to go. It also highlights just how many differently people can react to the same thing; something which is always worth reminding yourself of.
  3. My Dad Wrote A Porno
    On of the OG juggernauts of podcasting. An absolute classic. Genuinely hilarious, you cannot not enjoy Jamie and Alice’s comments and cackling as James reads out his dad’s porno; the infamous¬†Belinda Blinked. It will make you cry with laughter on the tube so hard that it’s embarrassing. Listen to it on your own with headphones for maximum inner hysteria. I’m off to see the Live show for my birthday in a month, so check back here for a report on that…
  4. Soul Music
    Another podcast that is almost guaranteed to make you cry (but for different reasons), this BBC show takes a piece of music each week and simply lets people tell their stories about it. Featuring both people who actually wrote/played the piece, and people for whom the song has played a major part in their lives, this has enough voices and stories interwoven to be constantly interesting, and – also -incredibly moving. The episode on ‘You Are My Sunshine’ gets me every time.
  5. S-Town
    No surprises here, this has got rave reviews from everyone, and with good reason. Even better than its precursor¬†Serial, this is Dickensian in its scope. Starting with a mysterious phonecall inviting the reporter to ‘Shit-Town, Alabama’, a story of characters and of individuality confronted with universal problems unfolds. The twist in the episode two almost made me weep. Also, the theme song is gorgeous.