Even at the end of the 20th Century letters were of course already a quaintly dated if not actually dead format. Email had seen to that. Now, two decades later, after the two-horsed apocalypse of social MEdia and smartphones, email is no longer immediately gratifying enough and anyway involves far too much commitment. While snail mail seems like an artefact of a vanished civilisation. Which it is.
You can currently download these old fossils for $2.99/£2.99.
“Something of a masterpiece…. One of the most congenial, winning, intelligent and original ‘gay’ publications for many years.”
“The best gay book of the year.”
Time Out New York
“Simpson and Zeeland resurrect the lost art of letter writing with this engaging collection of correspondence….Compelling, moving and frequently hilarious. 5/5 Stars”
“So appealing… highbrow porn combined with a thoughtful critique of masculinity and the urban gay lifestyle, scattered with witty epigrams that are pure entertainment.”
“Marvellous, witty, dry… Quite why a pair of cynical armchair philosophers writing about military men’s bottoms and cats should make an enjoyable read is a mystery, but it does.”
“Clear and sharp… the wit of a broken champagne bottle pressed against your neck.”
“Some books rock our world, so pull up a barcalounger, turn on that good reading light – since it turned up in our postbox The Queen is Dead. Zeeland and Simpson’s correspondence is maximum juicy.”
San Francisco Bay Area Reporter
“Profound and hilarious… Simpson and Zeeland analyse love, loss, cats, killers, and the joys of military trade through a three-year long, transatlantic correspondence… Simpson playing the detached, amused Voltaire to Zeeland’s Rousseau…. A wealth of insight, wit and warmth”
I’m not a footie fan – you’ll probably not be shocked to hear. But I don’t really mind the World Cup – which is good of me, I know.
I watched some of the just-finished Russia 2018 matches on telly, as non-football fans tend to do during World Cups. Partly because you can’t escape it, especially when ‘our team’ is playing, and not watching becomes too self-consciously misanthropic, even for me.
And partly because I think: maybe this time I’ll finally understand the appeal of this dull kickabout game and rejoin the male race.
But watching this year’s World Cup in Russia I rapidly came to the same conclusion I do every time there’s a World Cup on: they should dispense with the game and extra time and go straight to the penalty shoot out. Saving everyone the bother of all that running hither and thither to little or no avail for two hours.
Even more urgently, they should do something about those criminally baggy and ludicrously long ‘shorts’.
Yes, thanks very much for the tight tops, but they just made the shorts look EVEN FLAPPIER – like opaque net curtains, forever twitching but never drawing. Or leg lampshades.
Footie shorts or ‘leg lampshades’?
Footballers may be gym bunnies these days but their best ass-ets are exactly that. And a knee-length veil was drawn over them by the jealous old men of FIFA. Barely a sliver of flesh was allowed peek out between those passion-killer stocking socks and high 90s homo-panic style basketball shorts pretending to be footie shorts.
No wonder Ronaldo, the leading sporno soccer star, decided to stage a pitch protest – hitching up his puritan pantaloons and bringing his swole quads out of the shadows.
“MY QUADS YEARN TO BE FREE!”
Which reminds me, the climax of the entire World Cup as far as I’m concerned came during the England-Croatia semi-final. Play had to be stopped while 27-year-old England striker Kieran Trippier’s thighs, suffocating under all that excess nylon, were given emergency resuscitation by a pair of para thigh-fluffers.
Trippier’s thighs aside, the undoubted star of WC 2018 was Neymar de Silva, the pretty 26-year-old hot-shot Brazilian striker. Not so much for the goals he scored as all the attention he garnered, first for his ‘terrible’ ‘spaghetti head’ haircut (which I quite liked) and then for his ‘diving’ and ‘rolling’ – allegedly spending 14 minutes on the ground during the tournament.
Neymar puts everything into his performance
Neymar, being such a prodigiously talented and thus feared striker, was the target of some sustained serial-fouling. But serious football chaps were furious with Neymar: “I’ve seen people get shot that take it better than this clown”, complained a British MP. “Fucking fairy!” thundered a thousand footie blokes on Twitter.
For all the indignant denunciations – and violent anger in some cases – wasn’t Neymar just doing what most professional footballers do, almost as a contractual requirement? Just more enthusiastically and energetically? And with less shame? Or in fact, none?
One of the problems with professional football, in my non-fan eyes, is not that it involves a lot of acting, or even that it’s very bad acting – after all, I enjoy reality TV and porn, which are all about bad acting. No, it’s that the acting is not for us, the people actually watching the game.
It’s for one person only: a middle-aged man running about with a silver whistle around his neck who points a lot. Footie Daddy – whose word is law, no matter how flawed or fickle, and which frequently decides matches, despite the fact that his view is often much worse than that of the (TV) viewers. ‘LOOK WHAT THE NASTY MAN DID TO ME, DADDY!’
Perhaps in literally throwing himself into his role, and going deliriously ‘over the top’, Neymar’s real crime is not so much the diving as turning it into a proper performance, for everyone, not just the ref. He threatens to make footie camp.
A combination of England’s unexpectedly good performance in the tournament (due in part, whisper it, to the good luck of playing against weak teams until the semi final), and a sustained, record-breaking heatwave, led to some feverishly over-optimistic expectations – and the resurrection of the awful 1990s ‘Four Lions’ dirge.
More than once I was accosted in the street by drunken shirtless grinning young chaps who were very keen to tell me that “IT’S COMING HOME!”, giving me back slaps and hugs.
So I decided that I loved football after all.
One of the most excited football fans was the British actor, TV presenter, professional ‘ard man Ross Kemp (and my better-looking doppelganger). I’ll leave you with his (Triga) video message to ‘the boys’ after qualifying for the semi.
It was announced last month that the little man is finally getting the big screen treatment. The director of the last two Muppet films is making an Action Man action movie.
But it seems that moneysupermarket.com have beaten him to it, producing this blockbuster which has been airing on UK television.
Epic Action Man
In it a regiment of Action Men in various butch outfits and manly accessories break into some very camp dance moves, to the strains of CeCe Peniston’s gay club hit ‘Finally’. For the big finish, some of them strip down to their moulded plastic briefs while the rest of the guys hoof it.
It’s very Village People, darling.
‘Epic Action Man’ represents a continuity with Moneysupermarket’s previous offerings which have ostentatiously fucked about with conventional masculinity -- such as ‘Epic Strut’ in which a man who is apparently a male office worker from the waist up and a big-bootied woman in heels from the waist down (a kind of gender-fuck Centaur -- or a binary non-binary) shakes his be-denimed money-maker around town.
Can we fix it?
The sequel, ‘Epic Squads‘, saw ‘Dave’ up the ante and lead a squad of similarly split-dressed apparently male office workers in a flaming dance-off with a group of builders with some really devastating moves.
And then the ante was upped again last year in ads which starred those famous 80s TV icons of boyish excitement He-Man and Skeletor, perhaps the best one being a parody of Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey famous end-of-movie dance to ‘(I’ve Had) The Time of My life’ from the ultimate 80s chick-flick, ‘Dirty Dancing’. (And yes, Skeletor gives good Grey.)
He-Man and Skeletor Dancing | Money Supermarket Commercial
So, having gayed up He-Man and got him to drop his big sword it was probably inevitable that they would turn Action Man into a club queen.
I’m not sure that Moneysupermarket has any other aim in these ads other than to grab our attention with something a bit shocking and giggly as we inhale our gluten-free ready meal. And it’s easiest and safest nowadays to do that with machismo: the images and iconography are very familiar and because they came from a more ‘innocent’ age, or at least less knowing, much of the work of parodying them has already been done by time. (See also Top Gun.)
Though Action Man like He-Man was of course always more than a little bit camp -- at least seen in the right light, or by the wrong eyes. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, butchness is such a very difficult pose to keep up. Even when you’re made of 12 inches of moulded plastic. (I’m not if I’m honest really looking forwards to the Action Man movie: I prefer to hold on to the movies he starred in inside my head when I was a kid.)
Perhaps though the ‘funniest’ thing about Moneysupermarket’s ‘Epic Action Man’ ad and its swishing is that it is actually a case of dolls imitating real life soldiers. Action Man is here after all just catching up with all those YouTube videos of yer actual live squaddies in some desert locale camping it up to Lady Gaga.
Muller Light’s latest ad continues its heavy-handed theme of debasing the objectified men it uses to sell its aerated dairy products -- perhaps finally reaching a kind of climax.
The new ad (for fat and added sugar free ‘Greek style’ yogurt) deploys the usual buff and topless ‘fat free’ young male as eye-candy, this time handling his ‘pot’ -- but he loses control at the signature ‘FAT FREE!!’ shrieks and ends up glazing himself. Hee-hee!