Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Ten things about my tattoos

1. I got my first one in September 1990. It was done in Birmingham by a man who, apparently, is called Hagar. I nearly fainted. If not for hearing the Anthrax cover version of Joe Jackson's "Got the Time" on the radio, I probably would have.

2. My second one was in 1991. It's from a flyer for London S&M club The Torture Garden. I later discovered it was from a work of art by Allen Jones.

3. I had one more tattoo between 1991 and 1997. That one no longer exists. It is the only one so far that I have had covered up. I may have my second one covered at some point. I'm in two minds. I still like it, but it doesn't fit in with my ideas for my right arm.

4. Most of the tattoos that I've had done since 1998 feature Japanese imagery. This koi carp tattoo was my first large undertaking. It took four sittings to complete, between June 1998 and February '99. I have no record, but each sitting would have been at least two hours long; some probably three hours. The temple dog on my lower left arm is my Chinese horoscope sign.

5. I have one Adam Ant-inspired tattoo (my first) and one Manic Street Preachers-inspired tattoo (my fourth).

6. Wife and I had mirror-image tattoos of the same picture to celebrate our engagement.

7. I like words. I have eight words on my body and one word in Chinese characters. It's supposed to say "slave", but it could say chicken chow mein for all I know. (It's not Prince-inspired.)

8. I have a sacred heart on my left ribcage. Instead of a crown of thorns around it, it says Wife's name in graffiti script. The flames rise up through my armpit and almost to my elbow.

9. I have a Twin Towers tribute tattoo. It was done in May 2002, two months after I visited Ground Zero.

10. I didn't keep a record of the costs of my early tattoos. I started doing this only towards the end of 2000. Since then I have spent £1,150 (US$2,150) (not including tips) on getting tattooed. Given that two of my largest tattoos are not included in that figure, a more realistic estimated total is around £2,500+ ($4,700+) in almost 16 years. Although this sounds a lot, bear in mind that I don't smoke. The average price of a pack of 20 cigarettes in the UK seems to be £5 ($9.40). Someone who smokes one pack a day will spend £1,825 ($3,425) on fags in one year.

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Manics T-shirts

So, this is the T-shirt that pre-Wife Wife had struggled to read. Bear in mind that she was a few rows behind me and it was dark-ish, as gigs tend to be.

Maybe this one would have been easier to read.

I still have my collection of Manic Street Preachers T-shirts. I mean, you've got to, haven't you? I've got around 20 different ones. Maybe they'll be worth something one day...

And that film song quote: Welcome to the Dollhouse. No points for you!


Dirty pussy

Oh, good lord, get your minds out of the gutter! Cat has muddy paws, that's all.



You can read more about The Holy Bible in my Six Line Review.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

“Happy anniversay, happy anniversary to you. Happy anniversay, happy anniversary to you.”

Today it's ten years to the day since Wife and I met, in the music department of a London library. Awww. I'd been checking her out and then followed her to the counter. They didn't have the tape (remember those?) that she wanted, so I offered to make her a copy.

Bizarrely, we later discovered that she had seen me two days earlier at a gig and had been trying to work out what was written on the back of my shirt. Fate? Who knows. Nice to think so, though. This was the record that brought us together.

(Bonus points for anyone who can name the film that the song lyric in this post's title comes from!)

Against the wall *

I haven't been wholly impressed with my very limited exposure to Turkish films in the past. To be fair, though, this exposure was pretty much limited to one film: Uzak. Uzak was slow. And dull. And seemingly interminably long. And yet, despite not enjoying it and wishing it would hurry up and end, it has somehow stayed with me. It had something. Ultimately it was never supposed to be an action movie; it's a character piece focusing on the shitty lives of the protagonists. But no fun. In fact, I've also seen another Italo-Turk movie, Hamam: pretty good, that one. Actually, there are another couple of good ones that come to mind now, but I don't wanna bang on about it... I take it back: clearly I've been quite impressed with Turkish films overall!

Even so, it was with bated breath that I approached the Turkish-German co-production Head-On, another of Wife's choices, and the opening couple of minutes filled me with dread. (At this point, I must say that whenever possible I approach movies knowing as little about them as possible.) A Turkish group with a female singer standing on the edge of a river singing some dodgy Turkish song. Don't get me wrong: I'm not getting all racialist and shit. But that terrible music was the soundtrack to my ten years of living in Harringay, north London, and it's not something I care to listen to again.

Fortunately, the song was just a scene-setter, but they crop up three or four times in total, like book-ends, or the chorus in Greek tragedies. Still, once you know they're only short, they are put-up-with-able.

The story is set within the Turkish community and, in brief, tells of a young Turkish girl living in Germany who has tried to kill herself. While in hospital she meets an older (30s) man of Turkish descent (but who barely speaks Turkish) who has also, seemingly, tried to kill himself. She asks him to marry her, so that she can be free of her domineering, traditional parents: a marriage of convenience.

What follows is a tumultuous tale of self-harm, love, jealousy, violence, and murder. It is one of the best films I've seen this year, and I think it will stay with me a long time. It is hard-hitting and fantastically acted by all concerned (insofar as I can tell, not understanding either German or Turkish, the two languages used almost throughout). In many ways, it reminded me of a cross between the French films Irreversible and Dans ma peau (In My Skin); certainly this would make for a really depressing triple-bill on a Sunday afternoon.

If you have already seen and liked any of these three films, try the others. If you've seen none, start with Head-On: it's the least repelling of the three. If you like it, you can then move on to the hard stuff, starting with Dans ma peau and ending with the supremely nightmarish, depressing, but incredible Irreversible. Great movies all three.

As an aside, the lead actress in Head-On was formerly a porn star. I mention this only because you would never have guessed it from the performance she gives. It is as far removed from the supposed "acting" of certain other former porn stars as you can get.

* Note: "Against the wall" is the English translation of the film's original German title: Gegen die Wand


I had quite a Turkish weekend. Saturday night I watched a Turkish movie called Head-On (review [such as it is] above), and Sunday I went out for lunch in a Turkish restaurant, hence the mention of eating lamb just before seeing all those sheep a couple of days ago.

Lamb is really the meat of choice in Turkish restaurants, and I like to make the most of any foreign-food experience. For starters, Wife and I shared four meze: falafel, stuffed vine leaves, calamari, and tarama salata. It was all yummy delicious.

Next, Wife took the vegetarian moussaka (being kind of allergic to lamb, we think), while I opted for the mixed kebab, which included chicken, some sort of spiced lamb, lamb kidney, and lamb's rib. It was served with rice, some salad bits (of which I ate only some of the red cabbage), and a small piece of pitta bread. It was so gorgeous. The only problem: although the meat was so tender that it fell apart in my mouth, the knife was still too blunt to cut it! I'll never understand why decent serrated knives don't come as a matter of course with any meat dish. (As an aside, I have been in restaurants where the back of the knife was actually sharper than the cutting edge! Honestly. How fucked up is that?!) Still, that's a minor gripe and not something I should even concern myself with...

After the main course, I thought, "Fuck it, I'll have some dessert, too." I like desserts. I grew up in a household that rarely had desserts on offer (or pudding, as they call it back home). As a result, I find it difficult to go to a restaurant and not have a dessert. I think it's my duty to catch up on all the missed desserts of my childhood. So I went for the baklava, which I like but rarely have the occasion to eat. It's so sweet and gorgeous: honey, nuts, sugar. Grrggllllllll. Just a minute while a wipe the dribble off my keyboard. Okay... and then Turkish coffee to finish. Delish. If you have a sit-down Turkish restaurant in your neighbourhood (and I don't just mean a few grotty plastic tables in the takeaway) and you've never been, I urge you to go. The food is so much better than the idea of bad doners on a drunken Saturday night. And I love a bad doner on a drunken Saturday night, but it's a horse of a different colour.

Right, long boring post about Turkish food over.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Another character actor gone

Actor Paul Gleason has died from a rare form of lung cancer, aged 67. Those of us of a certain age will remember him most fondly from The Breakfast Club, although he also had great roles in Trading Places and Die Hard. Another memorable appearance was in the classic Seinfeld episode, "The Opposite".

Same ol’, same ol’

Today, while I was washing up after lunch, I had something of a need to listen to Joe Jackson. Not the Look Sharp! album, which I love, but Laughter & Lust.

L&L came out in 1992, it seems, and yet the opening verse of the opening song still holds so much relevance today. And it probably will forever more.

There was a man in the jungle
Trying to make ends meet,
Found himself one day with an axe in his hand,
When a voice said, "Buddy, can you spare that tree?
We gotta save the world, starting with your land."
It was a rock 'n' roll millionaire from the USA
Doing 3 to the gallon in a big white car.
And he sang and he sang 'til he polluted the air,
And he blew a lot of smoke from a Cuban cigar.

Funny thing is, the first thing that came to mind on listening to/
reading these words was our old friends Bono and Chris Martin, and how they bang on about helping those with nothing, while they're swanning around with their millions. Same ol', same ol'.

I’m Ernie!

I rarely do these. And when I do, I tend to keep the results to myself. But I couldn't resist. Thanks to Cynnie for planting the seed.

You Are Ernie

Playful and childlike, you are everyone's favorite friend - even if your goofy antics get annoying at times.

You are usually feeling: Amused - you are very easily entertained.

You are famous for: Always making people smile. From your silly songs to your wild pranks, you keep things fun.

How you live your life: With ease. Life is only difficult when your friends won't play with you!

A quandary

Wife took this picture this morning, thinking: "So where exactly am I supposed to sleep...?"


Sunday, May 28, 2006


Utter bloody bullshit, that's what confronted Wife and me on our little stroll after lunch today.

Look at it. Bullshit here...

... bullshit there...

... bullshit every-fucking-where.

Only all of a sudden we were faced with the reality of the situation: that it wasn't bullshit at all, and that it was shit of a different variety.

We came face to face with sheep, and, like Zulus, there were "faaahsunds uv 'em". Sheep as far as the eye could see, almost.

Sheep are nice. But of course then I felt bad about having eaten lamb for lunch. Oops, my bad. I hope they couldn't smell it on me...

Saturday, May 27, 2006

“Butterhead” – a lyric

Below is a lyric I wrote in 1990 for a band I sang in. The guitarist came up with a tune based on a Motörhead riff. It seemed only appropriate that the name of the song should also borrow from Motörhead; hence "Butterhead". Somehow, everything else just fell into place.

The song was usually played last; we believed it was impossible to follow - by us, or anyone else we were supporting. Modest, huh? One night, though, we did follow it with a cover of "Ace of Spades".

All I ever want to do is go out on the town with you,
But all you ever want to do is take me to your bed.
I thought you had a little sense, but now I know you're really dense;
In fact you make me really sick; I wish that you were dead.
You're always lookin' really cool but in your brain you're just a fool:
D'you think I ever meant the things that I had said?
All the things you try to be, can't you see, you'll never be?
Cos everyone around you knows that you're a butterhead.

When we go out I always moan, "Oh, God, why can't we be alone?"
Cos when I'm bored I only wanna take you to my bed.
When we go out, there's you and me, and your bloody friend makes three,
But did you know when you're not there she always gives me head?
Butterhead, Butterhead, how I wish that you were dead.
You're just a waste of time and space - I love you, Butterhead.
Oh, Butterhead, Butterhead, I wish that you were fuckin' dead.
You're just a waste of time and space - I love you, Butterhead.

Now you're gone, I'm all alone, sat here by my telephone.
The thought of being by myself just fills my heart with dread.
All your stupid little jokes, all your witty anecdotes,
I even miss the silly things I wish you'd never said.
You always talked a load of shit, but I loved you every bit;
Not like that stupid bitch, the one that gave me head.
Cos you and her are not friends ever since she sucked my end,
But I know you'll always be a fuckin' butterhead.

A fuckin' butterhead (x16).

My copyright © 1990

Friday, May 26, 2006

Question of the day

How fucking cool is Christopher Walken?

A few years ago, I was working for a publishing company. We needed a foreword writer for a book. Wife suggested Chris Walken, who was vaguely appropriate. My boss thought that it was worth a stab so she contacted his agent. Walken agreed to do the foreword, and he supplied it typewritten with deletions made in a black marker. His covering note said something to the effect of, "If you can't use it, I understand." Doesn't that seem like a down-to-earth, modest guy?

Somewhere in the house I still have that original typewritten foreword; my boss gave it to me at the end of the project, knowing I was a fan and that otherwise she probably would have binned it.

How cool is Christopher Walken?

Badder than the average Santa

Sorry if this review (such as it is) seems untimely. The movie came out a whole year later here in the UK than it did in the US, but even that can't excuse either my tardiness or lack of seasonality. Anyway, last night I watched Bad Santa. Technically, I think I watched Badder Santa, the extended, unrated version, but here in the UK, since that seems to have been the only version released, it's just Bad Santa.

To be honest, I wasn't sure that it was going to be my cup of tea. And Wife had decided from the off that it wasn't hers, so off she trotted to beddy-byes while I loaded up the DVD.

It didn't start well. The first five minutes went by and I wasn't impressed. Then another five. "Oh bollocks," I thought. "I've picked another fucking dud." But this film had seemed so promising. Billy Bob Thornton in the lead, John Ritter's final movie, that dwarfy black bloke from Rescue Me and Me, Myself & Irene, even Bernie Mac. And there's this girl in it who I've seen playing poker on Hollywood Home Game or whatever it's called. I mean... how could it fail?

Then another five minutes, and now I'm smiling. "Okay, now we're getting somewhere."

From that point on things were decidedly better. There are some great moments. It's crass at times, and some people might consider it offensive. Indeed, if the very premise of a drunken Santa and a dwarfy black elf who are con men ripping off department stores and saying "fuck" a lot is not already making you smile, then this movie's probably not for you.

It's not gross in the way that people think Farrelly Brothers films are gross. And for my money it's better than their films anyway. I laughed a lot more than I do for most films. Although it must be said that I laugh at anything, simple bugger that I am.

Again, not a long film: about 95 minutes or so, so no great investment of time is needed. Go on, give it a go.

Save the Internet

Moby reports that Internet freedom is under attack. This sounds very scary.

Click here to find out more and watch a short video download, or click the logo below to go direct to

It's a US-based organization, but "foreigners" can sign the petition, too. (At least that seems to be the case, although I've not been able to do so....) Americans can call their congressperson. Get the word out, folks. Otherwise all this could be gone.

Once again: be afraid. Be very afraid.

Save the Internet: Click here

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Great websites #1

This is the first of an occasional series in which I intend to highlight great websites. Now my definition of a great website may differ from that of some of my visitors. I can't help that, and I shall make no attempt to pander. (Well I might, at the right price.)

The logic behind this series will be: I would get the Internet if I didn't have it purely because this site is so fucking good.

So, number one.

The first site to win this money-can't-buy-it award is Elliott Smith: B-Sides & Other Songs.

I like Elliott Smith (pictured below, in a great "Bust A Move" T-shirt). I think he's one of the finest songwriters of the past 20 years, and then some. I'm not an über-fan, and it's not my intention to convert anyone. Wife is an über-fan. When I mentioned that I wanted to name this site on my blog, she kind of groaned in that way you do when people suddenly discover an artist you've loved for years. (Yes, I know that's snobbery, but we've all done it!)

Smith, in case you didn't know, is no longer with us. He died of several supposedly self-inflicted knife wounds to the chest. Yah, right. And what happens when an artist dies tragically young is that fans want to get their hands on as much of the unreleased material as possible. For Smith fans, this site is the Holy Grail.

And if this was the only site on the Internet, the Internet would still be worth getting.

But even if you don't like Elliott Smith, you should still love this site for what it stands for: free downloads of unreleased material by a great artist.

Elliott Smith: B-Sides & Other Songs: for services to music, the Web, and the world, A Blog About Nowt salutes you.

Update: On Monday 14 May 2007, I visited this site again, as I do every once in a while. Sadly, I was greeted with a note dated 1 April 2007 that read: "We're honestly surprised that it took this long, but the RIAA finally came knocking. Most importantly, this site is not dead. We won't be able to share any songs that were recorded during the Dreamworks era, but many of the demos will remain. We need some time to update the site, but hope to return next week." Well, clearly they didn't "return next week". Who knows when they will. Let's hope it's soon.

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I know: I’m a blasphemer

Apparently, today is Ascension Day in the UK. Ascension Day is the day on which Jesus was taken up to Heaven, from where he is yet to return but apparently will one day.

This passage from Wikipedia describes the Ascension:

"The third account of the Ascension is in the Acts of the Apostles (1:9-12). For forty days after the Resurrection, Jesus continued to preach the Gospel. Jesus and the eleven [disciples] were gathered near Mt Olivet, to the northeast of Bethany. Jesus tells his disciples that they will receive the power of the Holy Spirit and that they will spread his message the world over. Jesus is taken up and received by a cloud. Two men clothed in white appear and tell the disciples that Jesus will return in the same manner as he was taken."

Let's look again at those last two sentences: "Jesus is taken up and received by a cloud. Two men clothed in white appear and tell the disciples that Jesus will return in the same manner as he was taken."

Umm, surely these people were all on drugs. I mean, it's things like this that make it difficult for me to buy into Christianity. I know that believers will say this is not literal and that it's symbolic of what happened, or some such. And that's okay.

But some fervent - might I say, militant? - Christians use the Bible as the last word on a wide range of subjects, including homosexuality and tattooing. So, is it okay to pick and choose the bits you want to believe? Surely it either is The Truth, or it isn't?

The Wicker Man: great tunes

Yesterday evening, I don't know why, but when I went downstairs to start cooking dinner, I knew exactly what I needed to listen to: the soundtrack to The Wicker Man. Now I'm sure all of you reading this know only too well that The Wicker Man is, bar none, the greatest British film ever made. Some might argue that it's only the best British horror movie ever made, but to that I say: "Bollocks. It's the Best Brit movie ever."

Some of my American blogmates might think, "Well, that's cos you Brits don't know how to make films, so there's not much to choose from." Well of course that's silly. There are many many great British movies. Most, sadly, are from days long gone. But we did pretty well in the late 60s and early 70s, so there.

Anyway, this post isn't about the film; it's about the soundtrack, which if you don't have, you should buy NOW.

The music is so gently emotional. Folksy, and with darkly sexy pagan lyrics. Hypnotic. Evocative. Haunting. The CD packaging describes it as "ballads of seduction, fertility, and ritual slaughter". How can you go wrong?

Here are the words of probably my favourite track on the album, "Gently Johnny":

I put my hand on her knee
And she says, Do you want to see?

I put my hand on her breast
And she says, Do you want a kiss?

I put my hand on her thigh
And she says, Do you want to try?

I put my hand on her belly
And she says, Do you want to fill me?

The song "Corn Rigs" is also great. I think a snippet can be found here, along with "Willow's Song". Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Yesterday’s lunch

So I suppose that diet's out of the window...? Yep.

More s-tag-gering facts

Well, I've been tagged again already - this time by A.C.T., returning the "favour", no doubt. And I, in turn, tag... Ranting Dullard, FourDinners, and The Wanted Man. (You don't have to do the "plus side" bits; I just threw them in to make each one look longer. Nowt wrong with a bit of extra length, I always say.)

Ten things that annoy me about my workplace/colleagues. Difficult this one, but here goes.

1. I work from home, so if there's work to be done, it's hard to ignore it. This can lead to late nights and early mornings. (Plus side: When it's quiet I can just do nothing!)

2. I work with Wife, so far too often we have off-the-clock conversations about work. (Plus side: We get to spend all day together most of the time. Awww.)

3. Some of my clients are totally unrealistic in their expectations, be it regarding schedules or fees. (Plus side: Some are not.)

4. Working at a computer all day can be hard on the eyes. (Plus side: Working at a computer all day means you are never too far away from blogging time.)

5. Some of the work I do bores me to tears. (Plus side: Most of it doesn't.)

6. Several clients are very very very slow payers. We are still waiting for payment for some work that we did more than three months ago. (Plus side: Some are very good and pay within just three weeks or so.)

7. Most of the time I feel undervalued by my clients. (Plus side: Occasionally I don't.)

8. Sometimes either Wife or I have to go and work "in-house" at an office. This necessitates the use of public transport and all the germs in the air coming from sneezy, sniffy, sickly English folk. (Plus side: Mostly we don't have to leave the house. Howard Hughes here I come...!)

9. We don't like to turn down work, money-hungry whores that we are. (By the way, we're not actual whores.) This can add to stress levels and the likelihood of long days. (Plus side: Mo' money.)

10. We almost never get time off to go on holiday. We look back fondly on those days when we were employees and the two-week holidays that that afforded us. In fact, no: we look back fondly on those holidays, not so much the working days that led to them. (Plus side: Look at all the money you save by not having a holiday! Yeah, I know, not much of a plus side, since holidays fucking rule.)

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A mammoth occasion: post #200

The BBC reports that fishermen in Siberia have discovered a complete mammoth skeleton. The find is described as very rare. Indeed, "Alexander Kerzhayev, deputy director of the museum in the small town of Novoselovo, says it is the most significant find he can remember [but] his museum has neither the equipment nor the money to dig out the mammoth." Kerzhayev says it would be a pity just to leave the mammoth where it is, on the shore of a reservoir, but that "no one seems to care".

"Some experts are now suggesting that climate change is leading to discoveries which might otherwise have remained hidden in frozen ground," says the BBC.

And this is my 200th post.

Madonna’s cross, but not as cross as the Church

The controversy of Madonna's "crucifixion" (magari*) in her new stage show is making the front pages of some British papers this morning. Interesting that the godless tabloids are so offended. Hypocritical cunts. But we knew that anyway.

* Italian lesson of the day: in this context, magari translates as "if only" or "I wish".


How to win friends and influence people

So this time the movie of choice was Overnight, the story of a Boston bartender who gets his big break when he sells a script to Miramax.

Great, I love a feel-good, every-(under)dog-has-his-day film. But wait: this movie of his, The Boondock Saints - I've never heard of it... Clearly his break didn't last long.

Well, that's right dear readers. Because Troy Duffy (that's his name) is a total arsewipe. Troy Duffy is the antithesis of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, with whom on some level he can be compared. We all know the latter two, and what we know about them is that they are enthusiastic, kinda geeky, movie fanboys.

What I have learned from reading very many articles and books on both Tarantino and Rodriguez is this: Hollywood bigwigs love being revered. They want you to tell them their movies are great. They want you to know who they are. They want you to be humbled by their power, even if they aren't necessarily "creative" people. All of these things are things that QT and RR knew well; and, like most normal people, they didn't have to read books and articles to know it. It's just how business works. And film-making is a business.

Troy Duffy, however, clearly didn't know how business works. He deserved his big break. He is the greatest writer of the greatest script, and he's going to make THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER. And these Hollywood types: well, they can all kiss his hairy motherfucking ass, those cocksuckers. Who the fuck are they anyway? Indeed, Troy Duffy can't even remember their names half of the time when he's on the phone to them or talking to their colleagues about them.

Sure enough, it's not very long before Hollywood (read Harvey Weinstein) tires of boring Troy's boorish ways. And the speed of his rise is nothing compared to speed of his fall. Soon, no one in Hollywood wants to be associated with him.

I won't spoil the whole damn movie, but I will say this: I spent a good chunk of its 80 minutes cringing and holding my head in my hands.

Compelling. But if you want to know how to make a movie and be a success, read Rodriguez's Rebel Without A Crew instead. Better still, read the book then watch this film to see where Duffy went wrong.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Are they fucking kidding us?!

I have come to the conclusion that we in the UK are being brainwashed. Now, maybe my brain is addled and I'm seeing conspiracy theories everywhere since watching that 9/11 movie yesterday, but...

Every morning I am being told by the weather boys and girls on TV that we are experiencing a huge drought. There's been talk of hose-pipe bans and lots of messages reminding us to use water wisely, turn off taps while brushing our teeth, etc, etc.

And yet it seems to be pissing with rain every single fucking day. What is with that? This morning, Helen Willetts (who didn't make it on to my weather-people list - sorry Helen) was doing an outside broadcast telling us about the drought and then said, "Hold on, I've just got to put my umbrella up." I shit you not. You couldn't make this stuff up!

I said to Wife this morning, in years to come I bet they'll talk about 2006 as the year of the Great Drought, much as 1976 is the year of the Long Hot Summer. And people will believe it. Well, herewith I am doing my bit to set the record straight. These pictures were taken from my window this morning...


All about me (well, not really, but it’s something)

I got tagged by Camie, so here's the stuff. For my part, since I got tagged by a girl, I tag three girls: A.C.T., Candy Minx, and Red. (Sorry if "girls" sounds patronizing. It seemed better than women, females, ladies, or anything else I could come up with in my simple XY brain.)

I AM: A man with a plan.
I WANT: A long and happy life.
I HATE: Noisy neighbours.
I MISS: Fewer times than I hit.
I FEAR: Losing loved ones.
I HEAR: My noisy neighbours' kid.
I WONDER: Why some people have to be so fucking noisy.
I REGRET: Some things, but they have all helped make me who I am.
I AM NOT: A bad chap.
I DANCE: Infrequently.
I SING: Often, and not badly.
I SEE: That the sun is starting to come out.
I CRY: Not often, but I'm not afraid to.
I AM NOT ALWAYS: As chilled out as I'd like to be.
I MAKE WITH MY HANDS: The pages of books and magazines, kind of.
I WRITE: More business e-mails than I care to. Also often on my blog.
I CONFUSE: My wife, at times.
I NEED: To not get stressed quite so easily.
I SHOULD: Lose about 5 kilos (10 lb).
I START: As I mean to go on.
I FINISH: Most things that I start.

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

911 Loose Change

Seriously, if you have even a passing interest in 9/11 and/or conspiracy theories, you simply MUST see this documentary movie. It is available as a download (free, I think), or you can watch it streaming online (it's about 80 minutes or so). Wife and I watched it this morning. It's quite incredible and totally terrifying... If even half of the facts and figures presented are for real - and I don't doubt they are - then some really serious questions need to be asked of the US administration.

Check it out here.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Eurovision madness: “it’s all good”, as the kidz say

It all started well: Lara Flynn Boyle* did a lovely song.

I was rooting for Finland and Spain. But the latter nation's group, Las Ketchup, did not live up to the promise of their single "Asereje" of a few years ago, and Finland had yet to play. Suddenly a new contender... On seeing Macedonia, I shifted allegiance. As the girl sang "I'll open up your fantasies", this randy dancer looks like he was trying to open up something else entirely...

Here goes the high kick. And... is that brain I see there?

Enter Lordi. Check out this show-stopping "opening up my wings" bit. Don't those lyrics just get you right there, in the heart?

"Come an' 'ave a go if you think yer 'ard enough, Europe." Lordi man gives it the old triumphant stance at the end of the performance. And they did indeed go on to win. Rightly so. To the victor go the spoils.

* Of course, it wasn't really Lara Flynn Boyle.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

A rocking good time

I enjoyed The School of Rock with Jack Black - thought it was fun.

I tuned in to watch Gene Simmons bring his own version to UK schools in both series of Rock School, too. The first series was a posh school; the second was a comprehensive. Both shows were compelling.

So it was inevitable that I would watch the US documentary film that is also, somewhat confusingly, called Rock School. I suppose there are only so many variations of names for a show or film about a school that teaches rock.

This latest effort is rather interesting. Where Black was a fun faux teacher, and Simmons was a No More Mr Nice Guy cut-the-shit type, Paul Green, the tutor and founder of the rock school in the documentary, is a bit of a psycho. And not a particularly likable psycho, either.

He's not supposed to be wholly likable, of course. He kind of tries to keep in with the kids by swearing and shit like that, but he comes across as a bit of a nerdy paedo type. And he basically forces the kids to listen to the music he likes: Zappa. I'm not familiar with Zappa, although I was pleasantly surprised by what I heard.

The kids are really cool, though: they definitely make the movie worth a look. It's quite amazing how talented some of them are; and watching 8-year-olds doing Ozzy impressions has got to be worth the video hire price!

Overall, a good movie. It's only 85 minutes, too, so you can squeeze it in before Prison Break on a Monday evening or something.

If I was a rock-school teacher, though, I'd have the kids learning something a bit more contemporary. This is my current pick (with help from Wife) of what "da kidz" should be listening to and learning to play. Here you go, Camie: you kind of asked for this.

This list is based on bands that still exist today, so the kids can relate. Of course, if we're talking the annals of history, that's a whole 'nother kettle of fish...

Alkaline TrioFall Out BoyFranz Ferdinand
Funeral For A FriendGreen Day Interpol
My Chemical Romance Panic! At The Disco Razorlight
System Of A DownTrivium Weezer

Today I'm listening to: From Under the Cork Tree, by Fall Out Boy


Friday, May 19, 2006

Faith and hope and charity...

The comment from FatFiz in my "Thank Christ, he's not gay" post below has inspired this. I began by writing a reply comment but soon realized it was getting out of hand... Before I go any further, I should apologize to my few regular readers (and any possible newcomers) for the length of this post, but I hope you'll read it, and I'd be really interested in reading your thoughts and comments.

I have been a non-believer in God and all that goes with him/her/it since I was about ten years old. I fail to understand why people do believe in this stuff. To me, it's completely unfathomable. And not just Christians; Muslims, Hindus, etc, too.

That said, I kind of envy them their faith. It must be really great to have something to believe in. It must be wonderful to know that when you die you will be reunited with all the friends and family who have gone before you. I can't buy into this, but I really hope it's true. I hope it's true for all those who have died for their faith. I hope it's true for all those who kept their faith in the most trying of times. And I hope it's true for me. Because, despite being a non-believer, I like to think that if there is anything "up there", I'll still be eligible since I'm a pretty good guy. I even give to charity. Mostly animal ones, but I also gave to the tsunami relief fund.

The truth is, I find religion quite an emotional subject. I'm a sucker for things like that old Michael Landon show Highway to Heaven. Lump-in-the-throat stuff, that. And I don't know why I should find it so. As I said, I made my peace with no religion some two and a half decades ago. So why is this? Have I, in reality, not made my peace with this?

My mum once told me that when I was very young, I was so into the bible that she thought I would become a vicar or something. And I remember drawing pictures of Jesus on the cross. Not gory pictures; just pictures copied from the pages of my bible. Isn't that strange?

On occasion, Wife and I have family and friends visit, and they want to see some of the sites local to us. One of the places we take them is Canterbury cathedral. And you can spend hours in there. It's a really cool place. At this point I'll take a sentence or two to say that I love churches. They are such enormous monuments to faith that, again, it seems incredible in this day and age that so much money, effort, love and devotion to God was poured into them. Today such undertakings would be absolutely out of the question. The monetary value of the artworks and relics and icons and whatever else, quite aside from the building itself, is astonishing.

So, Canterbury. In Canterbury cathedral - indeed, perhaps in many churches and cathedrals - there is a place where visitors can leave little prayers to be read out at the following morning's service. And this is an amazingly moving place for me. Again, it comes back to this utter envy that people can believe so strongly that they'll leave a prayer out in the open for any passing stranger to read, and perhaps judge them on.

The last time we were there, there were several prayers from one family. I think they were praying for a safe trip to Heaven for Granddad. But the ones from the kids get me the most. Maybe it's their innocence. Maybe it's the levity they bring to the sad reality. The kids in this family had added prayers for God to look after their guinea pig and how they hoped there was lots of grass in Guinea Pig Heaven. How can you not be moved by that?

And when our 11-year-old Italian niece was here, she wrote, in English: "Dear God, please stop war in Iraq and the world." I think I was barely aware of wars in the world when I was 11. Perhaps I had a sheltered upbringing, or perhaps I was too busy playing football and riding my bike, but I find it incredible not only that these things prey on the mind of an 11-year-old girl, but that she knows how to express her exasperation at the fact in another language.

Well, I've gone on even longer than I'd anticipated, so I guess I'll wrap it up. But it's a funny old thing, religion. And I can't believe how many religious blogs there are out there. And probably many of their authors would be horrified by sites such as this. But, why is that? I'm not peddling my anti-religious ways as strongly as they are peddling their faith. I'm just having some fun, hopefully entertaining occasionally, and maybe, just maybe, causing someone to think once in a while, even if that someone is me.

Thank Christ, he’s not gay

There's a lot of talk right now about The Da Vinci Code, and on the back of the publicity garnered by the movie, sales of the book have skyrocketed. Funny, I thought everyone (except Wife) had read it by now, but obviously not.

I read the book last year and thoroughly enjoyed it, even though many literary critics are slamming how it is badly written. It's a trashy pulp novel - what do you expect? And frankly, if literary greatness is something along the lines of The English Patient, then give me trash any day of the week.

Anyway, the latest and greatest comment on the Da Vinci Code controversy must be the one from the great (and famously gay) actor Sir Ian McKellen, who plays Leigh Teabing in The Da Vinci Code and was fantastic as Frankenstein director James Whale in Gods and Monsters a few years back. (I think he's also in those dodgy Lord of the Rings films.)

According to Sir Ian, Christians should be happy with the book. As reported by IMDb, McKellen said: "I'm very happy to believe that Jesus was married. And I know the Catholic church has problems with gay people and so this would be absolute proof that Jesus was not gay."

Of course, Sir Ian should know that being married and having kids is not necessarily proof of heterosexuality, but I shan't let that stand in the way of a good story.


Thursday, May 18, 2006


I have a lovely pair of slippers. So lovely, in fact, that I felt compelled to review them in six lines for Cooper King's Six Line Reviews. The review can be found by clicking here or by selecting it from the drop-down menu towards the top of my sidebar.

God forbid!

You may be forgiven for thinking this is the new Alexander O'Neal, or Luther Vandross, or some other similar smooth-talkin', soul-singin', sugar-lovin' crooner. But no, this is the lead singer with heavy rock band God Forbid.

I must say I'm not very familiar with the band's oeuvre, but their single "To the Fallen Hero" is quite a catchy little ditty. This pic comes from the video for the track, which can be found here. The only reason I'm posting about a band that I don't know very well is that I find this chap's incongruity quite interesting. That's all.

Call that an ad campaign?

Am I the only cunt utterly appalled by the arrival of Digit Al (pictured right)? This patronizing, piece-of-shit robot animation thing is the way we in the UK are being informed/
educated/call it what you will of the impending need to change over from analogue to digital TV. And the bastard thing is voiced by Matt Lucas, as though we're not all sick to the back teeth of that fucker.

And apparently we are going to be seeing a helluva lot of Digit Al. (Doesn't the name alone piss you right off?) The big analogue switch-off is coming, you see. Yeah, I see. This has been "news" for fucking years. I'm sure they were banging on about this a decade ago. I also heard way back when that any TV user who hasn't changed to a digital system by 2012 will have their upgrade paid for by the government. Don't quote me on that, but that was the rumour. No wonder they're so keen to get the message out. And to people with the attention span of a fucking orange, by the looks of it.

But this is just the latest in a long line of horrific ad campaigns foisted upon us poor unsuspecting Brits. Horrific not only in their patronizing ways, but also in their ugliness. Those ads for getting literate, with the camouflage guy who hides in the classroom. And another one like that, with the wrinkled-up, green, pointy-nosed hag who mocks the woman who can't read. And even the Sprite ads. Whatever happened to the art of ad making, when robots were Martians and they advertised instant mashed potato.

Nostalgia? It ain't what it used to be.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Where’s Joseph McCarthy? Where’s Arthur Miller?

Why am I wondering about the whereabouts of these two folks, you ask. Well, there's a witch-hunt a-coming.

I just tried to "ping" my blog and was told I am blacklisted because my site includes "objectionable content". To quote Withnail and I, "What fucker said that?"

Isn’t renting films fun?

Our local video shop is a fucking joke. The other night we queued for literally 10 minutes even though there were only three customers in front of us. I don't know what the fuck each of their transactions were, but they took a shitload of time. And of course there was only one counter staff there, and not the sharpest of tools in the box. Is it mean of me to say that? Probably, but what the fuck?! I'm standing here waiting to take a couple of movies out of your shower-of-shit shop, which has turned into more of a games emporium than a video rental, and you can't get a fucking move on.

Anyway, we'd taken about quarter of an hour, Wife and I, to choose our two fillums: 9/11 TV movie Flight 93 and John Singleton-directed Marky Mark Wahlberg vehicle Four Brothers. We'd ummed and aahed, iffed and affed, and to'd and fro'd, but these were our chosen flicks. Trouble is, when you spend almost as much time in the queue as you do choosing your cinematic treats, you begin to doubt yourself.

I'm gonna say something now, and it might shock some people. Eight times out of ten the movies I choose to watch suck a bit. At least four times out of ten they suck a lot. And more times out of ten than I can count, they put Wife to sleep. Despite these frankly disturbing statistics, she still allows me to pick. We have an agreement, you see: one movie each. And if we only rent one movie, then the next time it's the other person's turn to choose. Same applies with going to the cinema (or "movie theater" for my Stateside readers).

This is a great idea, not least because I get to watch the films I want to watch, which are often shite. I choose films that I even suspect might be shite because for me it's win/win: I almost always like the films that Wife chooses.

Of course, all of this has led to some problems. She has confirmed that she will never accompany me to another David Lynch movie. Mulholland Dr. was the last straw, it seems. So disagreeable did she find it, that she left the screening room, walked out to the foyer, bought some ice cream, and ate it. Wife doesn't eat ice cream. She liked most of the Twin Peaks TV show, though, and The Straight Story.

She says I get drawn into the hype of shitty blockbuster-type films. That I believe the shitty movie magazines, instead of taking my lead from Sight & Sound and the like. And she's right. I can't say otherwise. But as much as I love loads of arthouse, foreign, and indie films, I also can't resist a good, big, fuck-off explosion - like the one at the start of Die Hard with a Vengeance, for example. I may consider my self a film lover - a cinéaste, if you will - but I'm still a guy, 'kay?

And it's not just explosions and guns, although they are very cool. It's also horror movies like Wolf Creek, or silliness such as Bubba Ho-tep. I'm even influenced by the video label releasing the films. Anchor Bay is usually a good bet.

Yada yada yada, Four Brothers is fucking shit. Why? Well, allow me to "share"...


Oh. My. God.

Telling the tale of four adopted brothers whose adopted mother is slain in cold blood, the imaginatively titled Four Brothers quite possibly has the worst screenplay written in living memory. It's one of those scripts that thinks it's really fucking rad, but in fact is full of poorly executed exposition. Furthermore, there are almost no parts of the film where silence is allowed any airing. There's a big, wholly undramatic car chase at one point, and throughout the entire thing there are constant streams of drivel being spouted, along the lines of: "Gimme that gun", "Shoot that motherfucker", "What the fuck?", ad nauseam. I mean constant. It's as though Singleton could not trust the on-screen action to carry the movie for even five minutes.

The constant references to "Mom" and why anyone would shoot her are just ridiculous. Seriously, there must be at least a dozen instances that a line such as this is used: "But why would anyone want to kill Mom?", or "But Mom was the sweetest woman in the world. Why her?" I'm paraphrasing, because the script is so unmemorable, but I'm pretty much on the money there.

The direction is bad. There is no way around it. John Singleton is going to greater and greater lengths to prove to us all that the fantastic Boyz N the Hood was an accident. It's a real shame, but that's the truth of the matter. Comic-book fans will be gutted to see that he's directing the forthcoming Luke Cage flick.

The acting is interesting, too. There are two people who come out of it pretty well and all the others suck ass. Those two upstanding citizens are: Chiwetel Ejiofor (I know, he's from England, but that's not why I name-check him here; he is the best thing about the film and a rising star, methinks) and André Benjamin (aka André 3000 of Outkast fame, putting in a good effort). A whisper of appreciation should also go to Terrence Howard. He was good, too, and he should have had more screen time. The movie's lead actor, Marky Mark, was poor, and I usually quite like him. And yes, the material was shite, but a couple of his partners in crime managed to at least do something with it.

And the plot...? Well, put it this way: the whole reason for the movie, the whole logic behind the killing of Mom in the first scene, is casually thrown into the dialogue at around the 90th minute and is skirted over so quickly that you could almost miss it. Astonishing!

Strangely enough, the movie is so bad that Wife didn't fall asleep. She was so wide-eyed with surprise that someone (a) ever financed this movie and (b) ever agreed to be in it, that she couldn't have shut her peepers even if she'd wanted to.

This is one of those films that it's really difficult to rate. It is so fucking awful that I almost have to urge you to watch it. But equally, I wouldn't wish it on anyone, especially if you have to pay money for it (like we did). Make up your own mind, but just don't say you weren't warned...

Legless woman and twattiest Beatle split up

I was half gonna comment on this, but I can't be arsed to devote any space to such a pair of unlikable cunts. (Furthermore, since I first posted this, Red has done a commendable and thorough job, giving credit to yours truly, so check her out.)

Also, Nicole Kidman has finally confirmed that she is engaged to country-music star Keith Urban. Which reminds me, when we were in Virgin Megastore the other day, Wife turned to me and said, "That Keith Urban has released a lot of records, huh?" And I said, "Has he?" Then she pointed me to the big sign that surely hangs above his releases: "URBAN". Seems she was right, helluva lotta records.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

True Romance rocks!

So sez my Six Line Review, so why not check it out?


Oh I'm so bored with my workload at the moment.

And I'm so bored with this crazy fucking diet I'm supposed to be on. It's been almost two days and I feel like I'm fucking wasting away!

Need chocolate biscuits (that's cookies for my American buddies).

One day I'll write about the "hush puppies" I had in New York. What I wouldn't give for a plate of those right now... (No, not Hush Puppies shoes.)

All we have in the house right now is hummus and pitta. Must eat. Fuck the diet. A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. And wash it down with Coke, aaahhhhh.

The damp patch

No, not that sort of damp patch - the damp patches in my cellar (as mentioned in my post below).

Plumber came round last night, and it turns out that the shitload of rain we had (along with thunder and lightning) on Saturday night is the cause of our problem.

A couple of little fissures betwixt wall and pavement outside, and in pours the motherfucking rain. Shit. Cue me and some exterior mastic, and a whole heap of crossed fingers...

A weekend off

Given that we didn't have to work on Saturday and Sunday, Wife and I decided to take it easy. Well, so much for a relaxing weekend...

How is it that getting out of the house and doing fun stuff can be so bloody tiring?!

On Saturday we decided to do a bit of clothes and music and DVD shopping, as previously mentioned in my Aliens and the World Cup post. Wife was having a bad time of clothes shopping because she seemingly doesn't like this season's colours. And I can't say I blame her. I'm normally quite good at picking up the odd item, too, but nothing took my fancy. It was all just so blah.

So after traipsing around and battling our way through shops for about three hours we went for a bite to eat. Wife and I love Ed's Diner, where you can get about the closest thing to a real American burger. It's a chain, but a very very small chain. There are little tabletop jukeboxes at most seats and they actually work. Most of the music is 50s and 60s rock 'n' roll. Good American diner fare, in more ways than one. So that was lunch. And because we have decided to go on a diet, I went all out. More meat...

Too much meat, in fact...

I ordered Ed's Rarebit, which is a burger with a lovely Irish beef patty on top of a slice of American cheese, and on top of the patty sits a glorious fried egg, over easy, of course. I also ordered grilled onions and a side of bacon. A real meat feast. Fries and onion rings, too, and a butterscotch shake. What a greedy cunt I am! Hence the need to shed a couple of pounds.

After that we went and bought a couple more home essentials then headed back to the casa.

Not a very relaxing morning. So we went for a nap in the afternoon, but I had to be sure I woke up in time for Doctor Who. Another corking fucking episode! Wife cooked while I reverted to a 10-year-old child.

And so on to Sunday...

Started the day with a 40-minute walk round our local area. Gets the blood going, y'know. Can't be bad for you, can it?

Then Wife wanted to dye her hair. I usually help her out with this. It's a lot easier for me to see the back of her head than for her to. Yeah, diamond geezer, ain't I?

But while we were in the cellar doing it (it's the place where we can do the least amount of damage with the hair dye) I noticed we had what looked like some rising damp in the floor... Which meant that after doing the hair job I had to shunt a load of badly water-damaged boxes around and salvage the mainly paper contents from them. Big fucking drag.

Years ago, in the first flat I had when I moved to London, I lost a shitload of books and magazines through water damage in the cellar. I was fucking gutted, and I don't want to go through it again. So that took a couple of hours to not get very far. And not only was I not enjoying it, but it was also fucking boring. Figured I'd call a plumber on Monday morning.

So I decided to turn my sights towards something else I'd promised myself I'd do on "my weekend off": put up an extra DVD shelf. But not before going out for a nice Sunday roast. Yep, more meat...

... and strawberry cheesecake...

... then back home for the handy-man stuff.Now, I'll tell you this: I'm not cut out for DIY. (Do Americans use that term? Home improvements, then.) I can do stuff. I can change fuses and plugs. I even completely rebuilt an old standard lamp once. And I can put up shelves, curtain poles, blinds, and things like that. But I'm not great at it. "Know your limitations" - that's my motto. (This picture shows a TV aerial socket that I put up. It's wonky, but you can't really tell here.) And our house is more than 150 years old, so many of the walls are not straight or are not as solid as you'd think they might be. I swear half of it has been rebuilt with plasterboard...

Still, the shelf went up, and it does the job.

By this time, I guess it was about 5.30 Sunday evening, and I was about knackered. Where did my weekend go?

Monday, May 15, 2006

Films I’ve seen this year (part 2)

I know I've done reviews (such as they are) of some of these already, but this is a continuation of my constantly updated list of films I've seen this year, along with mini reviews. Click here for the first part of the list.

Bleeder (really good, hard-hitting Danish movie)
The Notebook (moving yarn; great performances and direction)
Tesis (disappointing film about snuff)
13 Conversations About One Thing (expected nothing, got nothing)
Dekalog 4 (okay, kinda; full review here)
Everything Is Illuminated (great first half; less good thereafter)
Red Eye (fast frenetic flying fun by horrormeister Wes Craven)
Flightplan (really not very good; full review here)
Must Love Dogs (John Cusack rom-com...; full review here)
Dekalog 5 (so bloody boring; full review here)
Bullet Boy (not bad, as British films go)
Lord of War (good film; full review here)
The Eye (not bad; full review here)
Flight 93 (don't confuse with United 93; a very good 9/11 TV movie)
Four Brothers (terrible; full review here).

You can also find my (mostly non-film) Six Line Reviews in a drop-down menu in my sidebar.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

“Hello, I’m Tony Blair, the prime minister of the United Kingdom, and I think cutting up animals is a whole lot of fun”

So UK PM Tony Blair - y'know, the guy who said he was gonna get tough on blood sports such as foxhunting if he got elected, way back in the 1990s - has now decided to give his prime ministerial backing to animal testing. What a cunt.

Of course "there are two sides to every story", but the truth is that just because a drug appears to work on animals, there is no guarantee that it'll work on humans. Indeed, a guy from the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection on the news this morning said that 90 per cent of drugs tested successfully on animals turn out NOT to work on humans.

So what the fuck is the point? There must be another way. Y'know, things like stem-cell research. Oh yeah, that's unethical. Not like breeding animals with the sole intention of injecting them full of shit and cutting them up into tiny pieces before throwing them away like so much unwanted trash time after time after time.

Oh yeah, and that "two sides to every story" thing? It doesn't apply to Blair. He's a cunt.

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Aliens and the World Cup

I was going to blog about this anyway, but a comment on my previous post by FourDinners gave me just the segue I needed.

Yesterday, I was out shopping for bargainous CDs and DVDs with Wife. We picked up a good number of them, too, but my most bargainest bargain was the Alien Quadrilogy box set. (Well, I thought it was bargainous until this minute when I've just discovered I could have got it cheaper still at Bugger! Oh well, I was chuffed for about 24 hours. Still, I won't let that spoil a good story, so on we go.)

The Alien Quadrilogy box set contains nine discs, and it features two versions of each of the four Alien movies and a ninth bonus disc of even more extra features on top of the ones on the first eight discs. So it's pretty fucking wicked. I nearly bought it a couple of years ago when it first came out but decided I could think of better ways to spend its then price of £70 ($132), especially considering I had the first three films on tape or disc already. However, on seeing the price tag at HMV yesterday, I couldn't resist.

"But * (asterisk)," I hear you cry, "what has all this got to do with the World Cup?" And a valid question it is, too. Allow me to elaborate, dear readers: I paid £19.66 for this cinematic treat - and therein lies the World Cup reference. Hurrah!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Night view

From my window a couple of nights ago.

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