Sunday, 31 January 2010

January movie update

Here are the films that Pete and I have received from Lovefilm.com and watched on TV and DVD over the past month, in reverse order, with my ratings out of ten from my movie list on IMDB.

Moon 8
Great drama with a tiny cast and budget.

Che: Part Two 6
Waaaay too long and not much of a story, compared to part 1 (see below)

The Last King of Scotland 7

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 7
Wizardy hormones gone crazy!

Che: Part One 7
A slow film, but worth seeing. (Parts 1 and 2 could have been edited into one brilliant film)

Easy Virtue 7

Australia 5
So many film making cliches and about 4 hours too long!

Aliens 8

One Hour Photo 8
Robin Williams is such a great serious actor. Impressive, yet simple drama.

Citizen Kane 7
A bit long for me, but you can see why it gets the "classic" status and it's a gripping story. The Simpsons has borrowed so many scenes!

The Incredibles 8
Just great animation, characters and story!

I'm Not There. 1
Self indulgant and embarrassingly awful. Turned off the film after 30 minutes.

Twilight 7
Silly and fine entertainment.


Final note: I thought I would round up the best and worst gay films soon.


Thursday, 28 January 2010

The kitchen list

As you read this, I am on my way to Edinburgh for a couple of days work. So I have pre-posted this entry.

It's been a crappy few days: Crystal Palace have gone into administration and the future is very uncertain. They don't own the stadium, so that puts buyers off and I fear a fire sale of players. The vultures will be sniffing around for a bargain. More on this another day I think. On to other things...

I am guilty of putting things off - I am a professional procrastinator in so many ways. So Pete and I have pinned a list to the kitchen wall of things we have said we would do, but have put off for ages. This daily reminder should hopefully inspire us to get off our arses in 2010 and is in addition to my own New Years resolutions.

The list will be amended over time, but currently has the following entries:

  • Visit the local comedy club
  • Go to the dog track
  • Cycle into London
  • Watch the local non-league football team
  • Visit Pete's Uncle and Aunt in Oakham
  • Go to both local theatres
  • Have more dinner parties
  • Arrange the next poker night
  • Go on a photo treasure hunt in London

Watch this space for updates and additions.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

UK more liberal on homosexuality

Here's something I heard on the news today... The UK Government has issued the results from the latest British Social Attitudes survey. it shows, among many other areas of life, that public attitudes to gay men and women have changed radically since the first survey was carried out in 1983.

Although we are not there yet, attitudes are definitely more liberal, according to a government-backed survey:

It states that 36% thought homosexual acts were "always" or "mostly" wrong, down from 62% in 1983. This has to be good news, but over a third of people still see gay life as wrong, which is still too high. Though it did go up to around 80% in the mid-eighties, I assume due to AIDS panic. It is worth noting one piece of analysis in the results: half of religious people believe that homosexual sex is always or almost always wrong compared with one in five of non-religious people. So the often hypocritical religious few could be the problem!

And this may be the first time I have ever agreed with a statement linked to The Sun, but... former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie said: "The reality is that in my days running the Sun if a pop star was suspected of being as homosexual, that was a story. Now the reverse is true. If he is homosexual it's not a story at all. If you go to weddings of your families and friends you expect to see male partners together. I couldn't care a damn what sexuality [people] are".

He also made the point that, as parents and grandparents have younger members of the family coming out and then seeing that they are not different, their wider acceptance follows.

Remember the day and time when I thought an (ex) editor of The Sun made sense! *shudder*

I wonder what the results from other countries would be?

The survey also suggests that our attitudes towards cannabis and single mothers not working have both hardened and that 45% said it made no difference whether a child's parents were married or just living together - up from 38% in 1998.

Here is a link to the Government website if you want to read more.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Samstag mit Freunden in London

Yesterday Pete and I ventured into London to meet some friends. But before meeting them, we travelled to Canada Water on the tube and then walked through Rotherhithe to see our old house. There is so much building around Canada Water - it could end up being a cool place to live! We walked from the Hilton hotel (with the best views of Canary Wharf) along the Thames to Tate Modern via Tower Bridge. The route is about 3 miles and there is always lots to see and the various new buildings look impressive. There was a short bus ride, then another walk into the West End.

We met Dominic and his girlfriend Nicole around 5pm and had quite a few drinks and a tapas meal. I used to work with Dominic in my last job (before we were both made redundant) - he's a witty and clever guy and certainly one of my favourite people.

They are both German, but currently live near Vienna with their dog Charlie. Although they are in their late 20's, they are incredibly mature and confident people. They lived in London for a couple of years and would like to come back some day as life in Austria sounds a bit quiet. Not only are they an educated couple, they have a higher standard of English than many English people. They are willing to take try new things (such as moving to different countries and living in Tottenham!) and Dominic especially is very decisive - very unlike me! They have achieved so much and will undoubtedly have successful careers and lives together.

Here we are in a pub in Covent Garden...

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Monochrome Weekly #8

My contribution to this week's Monochrome Weekly was taken on holiday and I have played around with the contrast a bit to hopefully make an interesting image of a sea bird:

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Another coming out success

A couple of weeks back, I commented on the Ben Rakestrow, the serving soldier who came out to his mates - a courageous guy in many ways. And here is another great coming out story...

A few years ago I used to read an excellent blog called Closetcase written by a guy called Stuart. He decided to stop that blog and these days he Twitters, blogging very rarely. His blog was very good and I was sorry it ended as his humour was/is very much like mine.

During the last few months of Closetcase, the blog seemed to feature more about the worries of being gay and in the closet and less about his life. I am really pleased to say that Stuart has just told his parents that he is gay and now has a boyfriend (which he refers to as "the boy" which sounds a bit controlling, but never mind). For those who are coming out, his story will be familiar.

Like many gay guys (including myself), Stuart found every excuse not to come out and even used the line many of us have relied on: "I will come out when...". If you hear a guy making excuses and maybe getting defensive too, you know that coming out could easily wait until they are 40+ years old unless they decide to do the deed or are outed (which has to be far worse). I appreciate that it's not easy and for me it was stressful, but I'm glad I did it.

I agree that each guy needs to come out when he is ready and comfortable with his own sexuality, but one excuse that rarely stands up, is that they will wait until the right time. There will never be a right time... people and situations are unlikely to change in their favour. So guys have to decide when and how they will come out.

Stuart has found that having a boyfriend has focused his mind and forced him into making the decision. I suppose that, unless you are forced to make a decision (like having a boyfriend that you don't want to hide), you need to force yourself. Just like my story, Stuart's coming out to his parents was an anti-climax. He wont remember, but I once wrote a comment on his blog saying that he needed a plan to come out and he replied: "you don't know what you're talking about, my Dad will never understand". Like most coming out stories, the reality was nothing like we could imagine and his Dad was fine with having a gay son!

This was what I said in the previous blog posting and I stick to it:

To all of you that are coming out to friends and family, my advice is to get on with it. I am guilty of making excuses in the past and even recently but, without doubt, coming out makes life easier. If you are finding reasons not to come out or saying "I'll do it before I am 30" etc, you are never going to do it and you will find more reasons not do come out in the future. You need to make a plan and do it OR decide that you will never tell a specific person and just get on with your life. If you hide behind excuses or timelines, you are just going to stress yourself out. I am trying to be honest with people and I fail sometimes, but being out to my friends and family is more important than I ever thought it could be.

Please remember, each of us has had years to get used to being gay, so we can at least give our parents, brothers and friends the time to get used to the fact that the person they thought they knew is actually a bit more interesting!

I wonder of those who are in the closet and reading this, do you think that people don't suspect you are gay? There will be some that are professionally closeted, but for the majority, questions will have been asked by family and friends. If you think you no-one knows, you are likely to be very surprised and wrong - they are probably just waiting for you to confirm their suspicions.

So to Stuart and all of those who have "done the deed" recently, congratulations - it's a tough thing to do and takes a lot of bravery. I am not as "out" as I would like to be (at work for example) and my progress of being an out gay man is ongoing but as I've said it so many times before, coming out takes a huge stress out of your life.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Gone for a Burton

I've been researching my family history for years and have been stuck on the person I most wanted to trace: my Great-Grandfather.

"Sandy" Chapman was my Dad's, Dad's, Dad and I knew he lived in Croydon and I knew he was in the First World War. From his army records I found he was actually called Arthur Charles Chapman... or so I thought.

I was always confused as to why I couldn't find his birth certificate or any record of his birth. Well, after some friendly online help by a stranger on Ancestry.co.uk, I have found him and it's one of those strange family secrets.

The records had showed that he had been born in 1888 (but no location). But it seems he lied about his age to join the army and he was actually born in 1890.

So I now know that his mother was Elizabeth Chapman (unmarried) who was living in a flat in Croydon. In another flat in the same house lived Arthur Burton and together they had a baby: my Great-Grandfather. They didn't get married until 1898, so his birth certificate shows him as Arthur Charles Burton Chapman. In the 1901 and 1911 census, my Great-Grandfather is shown as Arthur Charles Burton which is the main reason I could never find him. I assume that he always knew his "real" surname was Chapman and when he got married and had to produce a birth certificate he reverted to his official birth name again.

I know this is probably dull for you, but it opens up lots more research and potential stories for me.

All this does mean of course that if the Great-Great-Grandparents had bothered to marry before they had children, I would be called Stephen Burton!

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Headlines and news

As heard on The News Quiz on Radio 4 - real headlines and news clippings...


From the Peterborough Evening Telegraph:

MPs call for jobs blow to be reversed


Reuters via The Manchester Evenings News:

Police reveal that a woman arrested for shoplifting had a whole salami in her knickers. When asked why, she said it was because she was missing her Italian boyfriend.


The Times:*

A young girl who was blown out to sea on a set of inflatable teeth was rescued by a man on an inflatable lobster. A coastguard spokesman commented, "this sort of thing is all too common".


Churchtown Parish Magazine:

Would the congregation please note that the bowl at the back of the church labelled 'for the sick' is for monetary donations only.


And in the Basingstoke & Deane borough magazine (and I found the actual publication online):


















* For the benefit of American readers who are misled by the media, there is no such newspaper as "The London Times", it's simply called "The Times" and is 250 years old this year!

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Monochrome Weekly #7

My contribution to this week's Monochrome Weekly is a macro shot that I took a while ago when experimenting with close-up photography. You have to guess what it is!

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Songs you might like #4

This is the fourth post that highlights some rarely heard music - the other entries can be found here. These are songs that you probably won't know but I would like to recommend them. You may love them, you may hate them... the choice is yours, but at least you had the chance to hear them...

"Kandi" by One Eskimo


This is the original single version of a track released on the bands' eponymous album last year. It's a twee track, but incredibly catchy, using a sample from Candi Staton singing a song called "He called my baby
". The singer is Kristian Leontiou, who had a great album out in 2004.

"Strange Overtones" by David Byrne & Brian Eno

I heard this on the NPR programme All songs considered which I listen to on a podcast and liked it immediately. David Byrne is a genius and in this understated song he joined up with producer guru Brian Eno.

"Robots" by Jamie Woon

I originally heard the live acoustic version of this track and that's a brilliant piece of music. I've opted for the studio version here as you really get to hear Jamie's very pure vocal style.

"Going down to Liverpool" by Katrina & The Waves

You may well have heard the Bangles version of this song. The original is far better and was only the b-side to "Walking on Sunshine". I love the drums on this and it was a late entry onto this list after another track would not convert to a different file type to allow me to include into the clips below!

"Good love is on the way" by The John Mayer Trio

I am a big fan of John Mayer and own all his albums. A few years ago he made a live album with 2 other musicians called "Try" under the name of the John Mayer Trio. It's a heavier blues collection of which a couple of tracks were re-recorded in the studio for his album "Heavier things" - I'm surprised that he didn't pick this song however.


Here are some short clips of the tracks...

video

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Everybody needs good gaybours

On Saturday night, Pete and I went next door to our twentysomething neighbours for a meal. They cooked some really great food and the alcohol was flowing and flowing. We left at around 2.30am and Pete was completely plastered, I was drunk but not as much. The conversation was varied and they mentioned that a friend had asked about the people they live near to. Pete and I were obviously discussed and their friend said "oh, you have gaybours too". Yes, a new word is introduced into language - you have to laugh!

Since Pete was "poorly" on Sunday, we did very little. I mucked about on the 'net and watched some TV. I cooked roast lamb, which was fantastic - as Pete was struggling with solid food, I had his share.

Monday morning at 7.30am and the doorbell rang and it was a nice man delivering me a BMW. What a great way to start the week! I had expected him at midday, so I was a little shocked. Anyway, the Volvo has now gone and so has much of the tax I was paying. The new car drives really well (it had 2 miles on the clock when I first got into it), but the radio is not as powerful as the Volvo and rear wheel drive is very very scary on our currently icy road. I had better do some work to justify my company spending all this money... but first...

Via my friend Andrew, I found this great software called Tweetdeck which allows me to post the same status updates to Facebook and Twitter and sometimes to Linkedin as well. You can follow me on Twitter (look for sfchapman) and if you are clever, you can find me on Facebook and Linkedin if you look hard enough!

I have a select list of blogs shown on this page, but I do follow many more. If you would like to be included on the list, just add a comment to this entry.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Oh Romeo

Now you know how I feel about sexy footballers... well Jesus Datolo (who sadly isn't actually that sexy) is in trouble with his club Naples for posing in an Italian gay magazine Romeo Mag. He failed to ask permission from his club, who I suppose rightly have some argument against his actions as they pay his wages. They were not too keen on him wearing the Naples strip in some pictures and the club President said that "the image of Napoli rights have been violated”. That seems a little over the top as the pictures were only underwear ones anyway, however successfully he fits them.

I think Jesus deserves some credit for doing the photoshoot considering the way that football distances itself from all things gay and the homophobic views of some in football. Juventus director Luciano Moggi was quoted as saying that "there are no gays in football, I don’t know if players are against having them in their team but I definitely am... A homosexual cannot do the job of a footballer. The football world is not designed for them, it’s a special atmosphere, one in which you stand naked under the showers". Now what's the word I am searching for...? I know, it's bigot!

Depending on which site you look at, it appears that being gay in Italy is frowned upon everywhere except the cities and even then, local politicians regularly get away with anti-gay slurs. I suppose that's a common thing across the world.

I do believe that Fernando Torres and other footballers should follow Mr Datolo's fine example. There are plenty of men who should consider modelling - take a look at this blog entry by Roomlovely for proof!

Anyway, here's a link to the Advocate article about the forward thinking Jesus Datolo.

Something else I saw online that made me laugh... A Canadian professor wanted to carry out some research into pornography and needed to find men in their 20's that had never "utilised" porn - but surprise surprise, he struggled to complete his work. Professor Lajeunesse said:

"The objective of my work is to observe the impact of pornography on the sexuality of men, and how it shapes their perception of men and women. We started our research seeking men in their twenties who had never consumed pornography but we couldn't find any."

All he found out was that single men spent about 40 minutes viewing porn three times a week while men in committed relationships averaged 20 minute porn viewing sessions 1.7 times a week. Such shocking statistics! Who'd have guessed it?!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Snow day

So global warming is throwing out the English weather and we've had lots more snow. The country is at a standstill and the appointment I had today has been postponed by the client. It's such a shame! So I am stuck at home in the warm and "working" a bit whilst preparing a photobook which will contain the best photographs from various events and holidays in 2009. I have used Blurb to produce the photobook for a couple of years, the images always come out a little dark - but I still think that they are the best of the bunch.

All this snow means that my running plan is ruined - I have a 10k race booked in April and need to put in a lot of time before then. I may have to go into our garage (with a current temperature of 3 degrees) on the cross trainer!

This weeks "5 on the fifth" was well attended and there are same great pictures from the contributors - please visit their sites if you get a chance. I had hoped for 20 people to take part, but considering it's the start of the year and the 5th was on a Tuesday, I have no complaints.

I forgot to mention that when I was in Decathlon last week (see this entry), I was looking for a cheap pair of trainers and saw some Hiking Trainers but they did not fit correctly. I did note on the sign for these "Hiking Trainers", it said "Not suitable for hiking"!

As the England cricket team play in South Africa, I have little interest in the games, other than to watch Stuart Broad...



Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Five on the fifth #7

Welcome to "5 on the fifth", a monthly posting that benefits from audience participation. You take 5 photographs on the 5th of the month (or the days leading up to the 5th) - post a comment here with your name, location and link to the site containing your photos and I will update the blog entry with your information. Remember to mention my blog on your own blog, so that your visitors get to see the other contributions. You can take 5 random pictures or follow my suggested theme, which this month is: Water.

My own pictures are below the links of those who kindly contributed:

Made in Britain
Freda Mans
Vidya
Siddeshwar
Coffeedoff
Peter Ashton
Howard
Dit
Stevie B
Marie
Shilpa
David


Mine:
1. This morning from the bedroom window
2. Running water
3. Icy
4. A reflection of me
5. The frozen pond

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Resolute

Pete and I travelled to my parents in Kent for New Years Eve. It was a quiet event, but I really wasn't too worried about going out and paying through the nose for a cramped night. This could be a new trend - the small town near to where they live has about 6 pubs and 12 restaurants and half of these were shut on New Years eve.

On New Years day, most of the family came round - both my brothers and 3 of their kids. My oldest brother has just bought a Jack Russell puppy and called her Scrabble. At 7 weeks old, she is very cute and has teeth as sharp as razor blades. We all played on the Wii until the early hours and had a really good laugh.

On Saturday we drove home via Decathlon at Lakeside. Decathlon is one of my favourite shops - it's a massive French sports chain and despite not being the most sporty person, it's a great place to walk around. They cover every sport you can think of and their skill is having ranges that are really cheap, right up to high quality and expensive stuff. Pete and I bought our bikes there. I bought a "nice" fluorescent coat for running and Pete got a real bargain of an England rugby coat that was reduced for 10 minutes from £40 to £5.

So here are my official New Year's resolutions and you can remind me about them throughout the year!

- Run at least two 10k races
- Start a new blog on a positive thinking theme
- Produce a podcast for this here blog
- Do the IMC exam (a fun investment exam!)
- Read more
- Take lots of macro pictures and sell 1
- Do the things on the kitchen list (more about this soon)

And so back to work tomorrow. Boooooo! To end with, I took this picture on the way to the pub on New Years day. There must be a story behind it, but we will never know!

Friday, 1 January 2010

Monochrome Weekly #6 and happy new year!

Happy new year to you all!

My latest contribution to the Monochrome Weekly has bad exposure, poor contrast and a bit grainy, but I like this self portrait all the same!


The next "5 on the fifth" is a few days away and you are very welcome to take part. You can either take 5 random pictures of anything that happens to you on the 5th of January (or the days leading up to it) or perhaps go for my suggested theme. This month, the theme is...

Water

I hope that you will be inspired take part. If you are looking for a place to store your images, you can create photo folders on Hotmail or Google (called Picassa) for free.

Don't forget to add a comment to my blog with your name, location and link. Remember to mention my blog on your own blog so that your visitors get to see the other contributions.