Thursday, August 31, 2006

Try saying Monica without saying Mmmm

Monica Bellucci

Click the pic to find out why it's here. It's not just gratuitous sexuality... honest.


“It's about time that I came to start the party”

So, those Italian porn comics... These are the three I bought. They were all bundled up into one neat little package and sold for €3.50. The one on the far right was the hidden one in the middle of the pile. I was quite disappointed by its cover when I unwrapped it.

Now, I don't want to go so far as to say Wife twisted my arm into buying these, but she did think they would make good blog fodder, and it's not like I needed that much encouragement. She told me that she wondered whether they really were quite as "porrno" (pronounced in that Italian rolled-r stylee) as she remembered the ones to be that she saw as a kid.

She regaled me with the highlights of one in which a school gym teacher lay naked with a huge erection at the bottom of the gym rope, and as the female students worked their way down they would land on his cock. That's tantamount to paedophilic these days! Maybe they were sixth-formers?!

Anyway, none of the three that I bought is quite so ... interesting.

One tells the tale of a pair of Starsky and Hutch lookalikes investigating the murder of three staff members at a psychiatric clinic. One of the patients there is some famous diva who has been getting drugged and sexually exploited by the three now-dead people, two female nurses and a doctor.

The second tells of a policewoman whose boyfriend is put in a coma after being hit by a car. She then proceeds to fuck her other colleagues senseless, and it turns out that she was in cahoots with one of these guys to kill her boyfriend. Or something.

And the third one I haven't got around to yet, but I dare say it's not winning any prizes for literature. Maybe I'll update this post once I've... umm... read it.

Tuna... yeah, but what’s in it?

Last night, Wife and I cooked tuna steaks and served them on a bed of rocket with mashed potatoes on the side and a good splash of balsamic vinegar. All good and healthy stuff, and very delicious it was, too.

The label on the back of the pack of tuna steaks was funny, though, so I thought I'd share.


So, just be careful next time you buy tuna steaks, especially if you're allergic to fish. Cos, y'know, tuna contains fish.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Bitter, bitter disappointment yet again

I just have to get this off my chest, even though I know many readers will not give a toss.

Once again I have to suffer the bitter, bitter disappointment that comes with being a life-long Adam Ant fan. Never does any new release appear when it is promised, but this new blow takes the cake, I swear.

The DVD Digital Tenderness, a comprehensive collection of Ant videos, has been on the cards for three years. Not only does it contain all the videos, but also videos and performances previously unseen. This is the Holy Grail -- the Ant video collection to end them all. I could not be any more excited.

Last week it popped up for pre-order on Amazon. I dutifully placed my order, awaiting its release, on or around the same day as the Adam Ant autobiography Stand and Deliver. This book has been hotly anticipated by Ant fans for a decade or more.

Today I learn that the DVD has been cancelled. Not postponed; not suspended indefinitely. Cancelled. Fucking fucking fucking fucking cunts to it. This is such a bastard fucking pain in the bollocks that I can't even put it into words that aren't curse words.

It's down to licensing problems, apparently. Umm, hold on... This disc has been in the planning for three years. The covers are printed and the discs are pressed, presumably. It's on Amazon for pre-order; it comes out in two weeks' time. DO YOU THINK YOU SHOULD HAVE SORTED THESE LICENSING PROBLEMS OUT A LITTLE SOONER, YOU PRICKS?!

Furthermore, there's even suspicion that the book may get pulled too, since the serialization due to have commenced in a Sunday paper this past weekend did not show up. People are even asking whether the audio-book version has been recorded.

All of this stuff was due to come out in a crazy flurry of Ant activity on 11 September. And now we Ant fans are sat here holding our cocks waiting to see what the fuck happens next.


Still, I managed to lift my weary depressed ass out of the sofa and go to Sainsbury's to buy some groceries. And on my way there I spied a good sign. A van, presumably some sort of courier, had written on its side something to the effect of "There are no delays with Stand and Deliver". How fucking weird is that?

Well, I'm about done here for now. Later...


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

So many films, so little time

Over the long weekend -- specifically, between 8pm Friday and 6pm Monday -- I watched five movies. That's quite a lot, I think. Needless to say, I'm not going to do a mammoth fucking über-long review for all of them, cos that would be very silly. Instead, here are my brief thoughts on each. You can no doubt find synopses by following the links.

It's hard to go wrong with Spielberg, fair play. Yes, he makes a lot of mainstream Hollywood fare, but at the end of the day he knows what he's doing. Munich contains great performances from everyone except that ugly cunt who's playing the new James Bond, and Eric Bana is just as compelling as ever. This is a fascinating story given the big-screen treatment for people who don't watch documentaries. Certainly not as anti-Israel as the Hollywood Jews would have had you believe on its release, but generally condemning of Meir's decisions of the time. Worth watching at least once. I give this 69 out of 100.

One Deadly Summer
This is a French movie from about 20 years ago, starring Isabelle Adjani (pictured). Unfortunately, like many movies of its age, it has dated a bit, but the story of "boy meets girl, girl wants revenge on men who raped her mother" is of course timeless. A few plot holes and some dodgy hairdos notwithstanding, I give this 48.

I didn't expect much from this one, but we rented it purely to see Venice and cast our minds back to March and our time in that wonderful, unique city. But what an enjoyable romp it was -- huge fun from beginning to end. This really is Hollywood at its kitschest, silliest, laugh-out-loud best. The cast are all good, with Oliver Platt putting in a fucking genius performance. This is right up there: 75 points.

Romance & Cigarettes
Can't say much about this, to be fair. I didn't realize when grabbing it from the shelf, but it's a musical. I don't really do musicals; just not my bag, maaaan. Wife said she'd watch the first 20 minutes with me. She did, then decided to read instead. I couldn't really be arsed either, so I flicked through the chapters to see if anything grabbed me. Of course, Christopher Walken shone in the scene or two I saw with him. Funny how films with an amazing cast list often disappoint. My guess is that this will develop a huge cult following; it's a real love-it-or-hate-it movie. It runs 100 minutes; I watched about 30. On that basis, it seems unfair to judge. I therefore introduce the rating NS -- not scored. That's not a good thing, though...

Minority Report
So I ended the weekend as it began, with Spielberg. I'd not seen this before, so I took the opportunity while Wife (heroically) tackled the bathroom. She's a love, in't she? Good solid stuff from Spielberg, Cruise, and all, but dare I say just a smidgen too long? Two and a quarter hours is a bit much for something based on a short story, no? I reckon he could've cut at least 20 minutes with no difficulty. Still, good story, as you'd expect from the guy behind Blade Runner and Total Recall. I award it 60 points.

Next up: Factotum and Pusher

What’s a bank holiday?

To answer Cynnie's question about what a bank holiday is, it's a day when we have torrential rain in the middle of summer, again...


... Wife decides to clean the bathroom...


... and I watch Minority Report and drink beer.


Not all bad, then. Unless you were intending to switch off the television set and go out and do something less boring instead.

New Model Army at Brixton Academy

NMA logoBack in 1990, I think it was (maybe 1989), I saw New Model Army at Brixton Academy. It was my first time in London. I was driving me and a few friends in my Astra van. We were supposed to be going to a friend's flat in Orpington, Kent, and then going to the Academy with him from there.

It took us about four hours to get to London, but we'd gone without a map. I thought once we got to London there'd be signposts to Orpington. How green was I?! We stopped at a petrol station to ask the way; they had no idea. We asked a policeman directing traffic (that was a bit scary, actually, since the van had only two seats and there were three people sat in the unseated back area; I thought we'd get nicked); he had no idea, either. So we headed directly to Brixton instead, having seen it signposted. We parked in the middle of a massive housing estate -- tower blocks, the lot. The trip had taken almost nine hours from leaving home!

As we left the van and walked in the direction of civilization, we passed a similar-looking vehicle. Or rather, the shell of one. It had been completely burnt out. This was all new and shocking to me, coming from a Conservative market town with a population of just 55,000. I feared for my van's safety.

We went to an off-licence to pick up some bits and pieces. The whole counter and all the shop's wares were behind fencing. Nothing could be taken off the shelf by a customer. Payment was made through a tiny hole. "So, not a great area," I thought. "Yay!"

We knew that a bunch of other people we knew were also going to the gig, some of whom wanted to kick my head in. It seems I'd stolen one of that gang's girlfriends. Whatever. I had my peeps with me, and I knew where they lived. Which is more than they could say about me. As it happens, we did see them. But they just muttered a hello. Damp squib. Perhaps thankfully.

The gig was good, although I remember very little about it all this time later, and we met up with some other guys and gals from our hometown while there. We also met up with Nigel, our Orpington buddy. After the gig, he directed us back to his gaff and we stayed the night, only to be awoken at some ungodly hour the next day and asked to move the car because workers needed to dig up the road.

Anyway, all this is leading up to this NMA song, which has been on my mind a lot recently. Wonder why...

Spirit of the Falklands

The natives are restless tonight, sir
Cooped up on estates with no hope in sight
They need some kind of distraction
We can give them that
'Cause they'd kill if they only had something to kill for
They'd die if they only had something to die for
They'd cheer if they only had something to cheer for
We can give them that
So it's off to war we go (I couldn't believe it)
Bring out all the flags (I never believed it)
Fight the good fight

It's working like a dream, sir
Half the nation are hooked on the bait
Waiting for the next victorious instalment
We can give them that
'Cause it's no surprise that young men are heroes
It's no surprise that young men are strong
It's no surprise that young men are foolish
We've known that all along
Exciting pictures on News at Ten (I couldn't believe it)
Read all the crap on all the front pages (I never believed it)
Fight the good fight

Dead men in the South Atlantic
It's meant to warm our hearts
They think that they died for you and me
Oh God, what a farce, what a farce

And now it's the repeats
Plugging the Falklands and the Falklands' spirit
Show the pictures again and again
Till the next war comes around
'Cause we'll kill if we only have something to kill for
We'll die if we only have something to die for
We'll cheer if we only have something to cheer for
That is worthy of the name
Oh yes the next war (I never believed it)
See the propaganda in TV fiction (I never believed it)
Enemies with horns and tails

There are dead men in the South Atlantic
It's meant to warm our hearts
They think that they died for you and me
Oh God, what a farce, what a farce

There's crippled men back home in England
Doesn't it warm your hearts
They think they fought for peace and freedom
Poor boys, what a farce, what a farce

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Monday, August 28, 2006

Come an’ geddit!


This was our Bank Holiday Monday breakfast, home cooked by Red and me. She did the potatoes and bacon; I did the eggs and pancakes. It is based on a breakfast we had most mornings on both our visits to New York.

Both times we have been to NYC we have stayed at the Gershwin Hotel. Just around the corner there was a great little diner, where they served what was described on the menu as a Farmer Boy breakfast. It was so yummy, and a great way to start a day full of walking. In all, we have spent about 10 or 11 days in New York, I guess, and yet we've never once been on the subway. That's how much walking we'd do. So we'd need that morning fuel to keep us going, and the Farmer Boy never let us down.

“I went out walking...”

The ol' Blog About Nowt has been a bit short on home-grown pictures of late, so I thought I'd best remedy that. I took the following photographs while out for a walk on Sunday morning. Beautiful surroundings, great company (even though I wasn't), lovely weather, healthy activity; what more could you want?

This first shot has been cropped to "big up" the dragonfly, which was my reason for the pic in the first place. The others remain as nature intended.






Sunday, August 27, 2006

The worst thing about cats

Yesterday, just after Wife and I had watched Casanova, the cat-flap opened. Wife looked down to greet Cat, as we always do, and then shrieked, "What have you got there?!"

This usually scares the shite out of me, because it is often followed by Cat saying, "Oh, it's just a mouse," and as he does that he drops the cunting thing on the floor and it scuttles away under some piece of furniture or other.

On this occasion, though, it was a bird. He started to go upstairs. I gave him a stern "no", but he ignored me and ran upstairs and under our bed. I lifted the valence, or counterpane, or whatever the fuck it's called, to look under the bed, and there I found the bird. Dead as a dodo. I gently scooped him up into a small box. His neck was broken and he had blood around his beak. His little eyes were closed and his claws were clenched.

It was a beautiful bird, in death just as it had been in life. A life cut tragically short by our cat. I love Cat, and I love cats, but this is the price we have to pay for keeping these great hunters in our homes while allowing them the freedom to enjoy the outside world.


Thank you, Mister Anchovy

Big thanks to Mister Anchovy for entrusting the upkeep of his blog to me and Radmila over the past seven days. I had lots of fun. Thanks to my regular readers for heading over there to check out my guest posts, too. There's one last one there now, something about monkeys and stuff.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Arctic fuckin Monkeys

I'm not a huge Arctic Monkeys fan, though they make some good videos. I particularly like this new one, and the choon ain't bad, neither. The bloke is Paddy Considine, writer and star of the great Brit flick Dead Man's Shoes.

Proper British!

You know the boxes on supermarket shelves that products stand in? I nicked the front off this one last night. Thought I should put it on my blog to remind myself that HP Sauce is proper British, just like me (even if I've become a bit Italianized over the years).


Friday, August 25, 2006

It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world

My latest (and perhaps the last?) guest post is up at Mister Anchovy. Click here to read it. Thanks.

Movie reviews: listen or read

I've been toying with this idea for a wee while, but it's taken me so fucking long to get this done that I may never do another. Fucking tedious it was. Anyways, now I think I've got it sussed, so you never know... If you want to hear my latest reviews, click the little picture of me. Y'know, if you want. If not, you can read it instead, just below.

So, what new films have I seen over the last couple of days? Of course, "new" is a relative term, since almost everything I watch is several years old, it seems.

First up was Mar Adentro (The Sea Inside), and second was The Music of Chance.

I'm not going to spend too much time talking about the former, because Red has done her own lovely review of that. Check it out here. There's nothing more I can add to her synopsis and review, other than my score. I give Mar Adentro a very respectable 75, definitely worth watching and even worth buying at the right price.

And speaking of the right price, I picked up The Music of Chance at Sainsbury's for 99p (that's US$1.87 or C$2.07). Is that a fucking bargain, or what? Okay, it has no extras or subtitles or anything, and the film is framed at 4:3, but maybe it was made for cable TV. Still, at less than a quid, you can't complain too much.

The plot: A blood-spattered James Spader is picked up by passing motorist Mandy Patinkin. Spader explains he was beaten by poker players who believed he'd ripped them off. He goes on to tell Patinkin that he has a big game coming up tomorrow that he is bound to win but now he has no money. Patinkin offers to fund him. But the game they arrive at the following day is a game of cat and mouse just as much as it is one of poker.

The review: I expected very little of this movie, despite it being based on a novel by Paul Auster. To be honest, I'd tried watching it once years ago but got bored very early on. This time, I was more ready for it. It's a slow burner, and the story is thin, frankly, but the acting by the four or five main players is superb. Mandy Patinkin is so young (and so well toned) in this film it's quite astonishing. And he even gets to sing the wonderful Jerusalem in his incredibly distinctive voice. It's almost worth watching just for that. The ending was a little disappointing, but I guess it couldn't go anywhere else, really.

The score: I give this film 62 points out of 100.

Next up: Pusher, Munich, Casanova, Romance and Cigarettes, and One Deadly Summer, although I'm not sure I can do a full review of all of these. I've got other things to write about, too!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

WTF?! And Bollywood, too!

Please feel free to go and check out my latest guest post at Mister Anchovy.

You can check out my movie there, too. Thanks.

It’s coming home

Next up on the review chopping block is The Football Factory. This is a look at a gang of football hooligans, ostensibly Chelsea supporters. If you have an interest in this kind of soccer/gangs/violence thing, you've probably already seen both The Firm and ID. This offers more of the same, although on a bigger budget.

The film: Danny Dyer plays a young man, just about to turn 30, who's clearly having something of a crisis regarding the way his life is going. This is hardly surprising. His Saturdays consist of meeting up with about 30 fellow Chelsea fans and fighting with the rival "firm" of whichever team they're playing that week. Inevitably people get bottled, bashed with bricks, pummelled, and all sorts. Lots of faces end up looking a bit like minced beef. Fun for some, I suppose. And he wonders why he doesn't have a girlfriend...

The review: Even though this weekend pursuit is not my cup of tea, I find the subject quite fascinating, if a little terrifying. Good, strong performances all round, and I was proper chuffed to see veteran '60s Brit actor Dudley Sutton in a good supporting role as the kid's granddad, about to emigrate to Australia. There's an all-pervading sense of foreboding for the whole of the movie's running time. As an aside, this film has probably taken the crown for "Most Uses of the Word 'Cunt' in a Movie" from Trainspotting. I laughed often, grimaced several times, and thanked my lucky stars that I've never cared that much for footie.

The points: Entertaining little piece, this. I'll give it 64 out of 100.

HP Sauce factory to close

The sad news in the UK yesterday was that the HP Sauce factory in Aston, Birmingham, was to close its doors for the last time. Production of Worcestershire Sauce will move back to Worcester, while HP Sauce will be produced in the Netherlands.

(For my non-English friends, here is a pronunciation guide to the words Worcester and Worcestershire, delivered especially for you in my own voice.)

It's been a wee while since I bought HP Sauce, I must confess, although before hearing this news I had fancied some on my fried-egg sandwich that I had for lunch yesterday, and there wasn't any in the house. I don't know if it still does, but it used to say "By appointment to HM The Queen" on the neck label. Guess that'll go when the factory goes.

Also, HP stood for Houses of Parliament originally, and this building was also depicted on the label. What will HP stand for now? Holland Produced, that's what.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Israel accused of war crimes

According to the BBC News website, Amnesty International is accusing Israel of war crimes in Lebanon, for "deliberately targeting civilian infrastructure" during the recent conflict.

In at least three southern Lebanon villages, 50 per cent of buildings have been destroyed, and in the village of Bint Jbeil every building has been destroyed. It has been estimated by Amnesty International that ten Lebanese buildings have been destroyed for every one building destroyed in Israel.

Spookily, that is the exact same ratio as the figure I estimated on this very blog four weeks ago with regards to loss of human life, too.

Of course, Israeli spokespeople maintain that the IDF never deliberately targeted any civilian dwellings. The words "cunts" and "lying" spring to mind, and not necessarily in that order.

Don’t mess with the best, cos the best don’t mess

Damn, I feel like I've been saying that I'm going to review Sympathy for Mr Vengeance forever, and now that I've actually come to do it, I don't know where to start. All I can think is I'm watching too many films to keep up with these reviews (such as they are). Still, never one to give up, I shall carry on regardless.

This 2002 film is the first part of the Vengeance Trilogy by South Korean director Park Chan-wook, the subsequent parts being Oldboy and Lady Vengeance. That said, to the best of my knowledge they are a trilogy in the theme of vengeance only and are not linked by story.

The synopsis: At this point I must come clean and say I've lifted this from elsewhere on the Web. The reason I've done this is that I fell asleep a couple of times in the first half of the movie. "A deaf mute worker saves all his money for his sister who requires a kidney transplant. He has the wrong blood type to be able to donate one of his kidneys, so he arranges a trade with a group of organ dealers: one of his kidneys, and 10 million Won, in return for their finding a kidney for his sister. They renege, but a legitimate kidney becomes available for transplant. Unfortunately, he no longer has the 10 million Won required for the hospital to perform the operation. He and his girlfriend, a terrorist seeking to change how the poor are treated in Korea, kidnap his former boss's daughter. But events spiral quickly out of control..."

The review: Now, let me say this: I don't often fall asleep in movies. And when I do it's often indicative of my tiredness rather than the quality of the film. I did manage to kick myself back into shape for the second half, and I did go back later to see what I'd missed, so I'm pretty sure I've now seen it all, albeit not necessarily in the right order! That means I still feel perfectly justified in having an opinion.

This film was not, ultimately, as interesting as Oldboy, especially in the early scenes. Where Oldboy went straight for action from the get-go, Sympathy for Mr Vengeance first set up an elaborate plot. It's not a confusing plot, just perhaps a tad unnecessarily long in the telling. There are some great scenes, though, even in this first half, especially the point where you know it's all going to go tits-up. Then, once the action kicks in, it's pretty much mayhem all the way, and no one is safe. As you might expect, it's pretty grisly and violent in places, but there is also a good amount of dark humour spattered throughout. It was certainly entertaining.

The numbers: Pending a second viewing, and given that it didn't prevent me from falling asleep in the first half, I'm going to give this 58. (As a point of reference, I would probably rate Oldboy at around low to mid-70s.)

Coming up next: The Football Factory and The Sea Inside.

Education? What education?

I've done another guest post over at Mister Anchovy's blog, so please feel free to check it out.

20 Comments Wednesday

Don't know what it's all about yet? Click the button below to find out...


Hopefully I will get to 20 this week. I've already done better than last week, so far leaving my mark at:

1. Stuplicated
2. The Anti Crapitalist
3. Bawbags
4. Dilligaf
5. Goddess in the City
6. Non-workingmonkey
7. Rants from the Dull
8. she always made a new mistake instead...
9. Start Wearing Purple
10. Café Bleu
11. mister anchovy
12. Catablog of Disasters
13. Spangly Princess
14. The Gnostic World of Candy Minx

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A milestone

One thousand profile views. Cool! See how easily pleased I am?!

Vote for Mary!

Ever heard of Mary Carey? Chances are, I suspect, that if you are not American you haven't. I have a healthy interest in porn, and I don't think I'd ever heard of her until Wife sent me a link to her website. (Quite how Wife stumbled upon it is uncertain as yet; research for an upcoming post, perhaps...)

Anyway, Mary Carey is a porn star who decided to enter politics, running for Governor of California. Her campaign tagline was "Finally a politician YOU want to be SCREWED by!!!"

Anyway, there's not really much more to say except I thought it was an amusing enough story to warrant a post. Apparently her name Mary Carey comes from her uncanny resemblance to crazy screeching banshee woman Mariah Carey. Yeah, ummm, about that...

Oh yeah, and one of her campaign promises was an exchange programme offering porn for pistols to help get guns off the streets. Now that's actually not a bad idea.

Hellzapoppin’, Cat’s a-bloggin’!

God, I can't leave my desk for even a minute. That dang cat has been at it again. Go on, take a look. It's about home improvements...


A little movie for you

My new blogmate Radmila, who is sharing blogsitting duties with me over at Mister Anchovy's gaff, has created a Bollywood movie all of her own. It runs about 20 seconds, so go check it out.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Is Jared Leto a genius?

Go on over to my latest guest post at Mister Anchovy and make up your own mind. Thanks!

Bear with me

So, I finally got around to watching Sympathy for Mr Vengeance, but not before watching another film, so the review (such as it is) for Mr V will have to wait a day or two. Also, there are some scenes I want to go back to...

So the film that led me, yet again, to bypass Mr V was Grizzly Man, a documentary by legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog.

I have not seen any Herzog films prior to this, but it was the subject that drew me to this one: Timothy Treadwell, a man who lived 24/7 with grizzly bears for 13 years. I seem to recall reading bits of a Vanity Fair article on this chap a few years ago. I learned from that story, just as viewers of this film do within very few minutes, that the man was, indeed, eventually killed in a bear attack, along with his girlfriend Amy Huguenard, who was with him on location.

Synopsis: The film shares with us footage shot by Treadwell over the course of his time with these magnificent animals at an Alaskan reserve. And through the footage we glean that this was a passionate man who cared deeply for animals of all sorts, but especially bears. It also seems that perhaps Treadwell had a not-quite-complete grasp of reality as regards his place in the bear kingdom and the human kingdom. Truthfully he didn't really fit in either place.

Review: This is a touching movie, but it's not a Kleenex-fest. Anyone who feels any empathy towards animals will relate, on some level, to Treadwell. But it's also clear that perhaps he didn't always handle things in the best way. The footage is out of this world, and Treadwell is a funny guy, so there is comedy there, too. The chief problem is probably Herzog, who is simply not a good documentarian (whereas, ironically, Treadwell could have been a great one). On a trivial note, his accent is so heavy that it sounds like Arnold Schwarzenegger is doing the narration at times, and it comes across as too severe for the footage. Some of the set-ups and interviews ring a little false and too staged. But these pale when compared to his final fatal flaw. Audio footage of the killing of Treadwell and Amy exists; Herzog listens to this but does not share with us. Okay, perhaps we don't want to hear it anyway -- after all, it's not going to be fun. BUT, he then proceeds to tell the owner of the tape, Treadwell's ex-girlfriend, that SHE SHOULD DESTROY IT. Mary, mother of God, are these the words of a documentarian?! What sort of ridiculous advice is that? Grrrr.

The score: I really liked this film, despite the director's shortcomings. It's worth watching if you get the chance. I'll give it 72 out of 100.

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper

The Cappuccino Kid requested we post an image that somehow sums up us or our blog or something. I may have lost sight of the original goal. "This is not what I asked for," is perhaps what a teacher would remark in the margin if this was my homework. Still, this pic kind of says something about me, or to me, or something. Or maybe I just like it.

Labels: , ,

He shoots, he scores

To help me (and you) get a better grip of my rating system for my reviews (such as they are), here are the scores for the movies listed as my favourites on my profile, coupled with the scores of films I've rated on this blog. So we all know where I'm coming from, y'know.

Note: This list is updated with every new film I watch.

True Romance, 93
The Godfather Part 2, 92
The Wicker Man, 91
Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me, 90
Boogie Nights, 90
Blue Velvet, 89
Fight Club, 87
Rushmore, 86
Blade Runner, 84
A Better Tomorrow II, 83
Gangster No.1, 82
Capote, 82
Memento, 82
Hidden, 80
Taxi Driver, 80
Shock Corridor, 79
Peeping Tom, 78
Thumbsucker, 75
Mar Adentro, 75
Casanova, 75
Historias Mínimas, 75
Bombón El Perro, 74
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, 73
Pickup on South Street, 72
Grizzly Man, 72
Palindromes, 71
Paradise Now, 70
The Beat That My Heart Skipped, 70
Murder on a Sunday Morning, 70
Munich, 69
Pusher, 68
The Color of Paradise, 67
El Mar, 67
5x2 (Cinq Fois Deux), 66
Death of a President, 66
Dark Water, 66
Man On Fire, 66
Hotel Rwanda, 65
Dresden, 65
Dog Days, 65
Adrift (Open Water 2), 65
Night Watch, 64
The Football Factory, 64
A History of Violence, 62
The Music of Chance, 62
Secret Things, 62
Shooting Dogs, 62
The Omen, 62
Last Party 2000, 62
From Hell, 62
The Ninth Gate, 60
Duma, 60
Dog Soldiers, 60
Minority Report, 60
Sympathy for Mr Vengeance, 58
Factotum, 58
Very Bad Things, 56
Saw II, 54
One Deadly Summer, 48
Two Brothers, 46
Eye of the Beholder, 45
Along Came A Spider, 43
Message in a Bottle, 33
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (remake), 30
The Dark, 28
The Cave, 20
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, 19
Hercules in New York, NS
Romance & Cigarettes, NS

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Who are you?

There's been something of a change of plan regarding my film reviews (such as they are). I have bypassed Sympathy for Mr Vengeance in favour of something that would also appeal to Wife. So, on Thursday evening we watched the critically acclaimed and award-winning
A History of Violence.

maria belloI'd been looking forward to this for quite some time, although oddly enough I only saw my first trailer for it about two weeks ago. The trailer looked different from how I was expecting the film to be. It looked better than I'd hoped.

First up, this is a very short film by the standards of modern feature films, running just 96 mins (92 mins on the UK PAL video system). Having said that, I think American films are getting shorter, probably to match the dwindling attention spans created by too much Coke and McDonald's as kids. As such, I'll try to keep this review short, too.

The synopsis: When his coffee shop and staff come under attack by armed robbers, Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) disarms and kills both offenders. He becomes a local hero. Before long, he is paid a visit by a Philadelphia mobster (Ed Harris) who believes Stall to be someone else -- someone who almost took his eye out years before -- and there's a debt to pay. The film follows the impact of this encounter and plays "is he/isn't he?" with the viewer and Tom's wife (Maria Bello, pictured above).

The review: All the acting, with the exception of the girl who plays Tom's daughter, is really good, as you would expect from performers of this calibre. The film is also great-looking and well directed. I've never been a huge fan of David Cronenberg's work, although he seems like a cool guy, but this could almost be the movie that swings my opinion. There are a couple of gory shots, proving you can take the boy out of the horror genre but you can't take the horror genre out of the boy. That's fine, though, since the film all hangs together as a beautiful whole... for a while. For my money, it loses its way a bit at the 52-minute mark, a little over halfway through. I don't think Cronenberg can be blamed for this, but it's hard to know, since I'm not familiar with the source material.

And yes, as Wife would tell you, this is yet another film in which someone goes down on Maria Bello. Wife is convinced that Maria Bello only signs up for films in which she gets head. I'm not certain about this, but the evidence seems to speak for itself...

The digits: A slightly disappointing, hit-or-miss affair. Still, I think it's a grower, and it definitely has all the hallmarks of a cult classic. With every Maria Bello pun intended, I give it 69. (Revisiting this review, and taking the cheap gag out of the equation, perhaps a more accurate score would be 62.)

Forthcoming reviews (such as they are): Grizzly Man and Sympathy for Mr Vengeance.

Ceasefire? What ceasefire?

Seems Israel just couldn't help itself. Y'know, just got to get the last shot in. Well, they are the chosen people and all -- it's only fair that they have the last word. They wouldn't let it lie, would they...?

Kofi Annan says the ceasefire is very fragile. No shit, Sherlock.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

“Cat Alarm” – a poem

That blogging cat of mine has been at it again. Check him out.

And here's a poem I like to call "Cat Alarm".

Wake up!
It’s 4:30 a.m. –

Oh, sorry,
seems I had food all along.
Well, stay a while
and watch me eat.

You know what?
Actually, I’m not hungry.
I’m going out instead.
You, go back to bed.

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Finding Neverland: a guest post

Hey there, blogmates. You may or may not be aware that this week I am doing some guest posts at Mister Anchovy while he's away. I was very honoured to be asked.

You can read the first of my posts by clicking here. And while you're there, if you're not familiar with Mister Anchovy's work, have a look around. Thanks.


Some time has passed, so I'm repeating that post here, too.

Last night marked the end of Wife's week-long stint working in London. I miss her when she's away. We celebrated with an Indian takeaway and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot.

We watched the news. Hundreds of Lebanese were buried. Of those, 28 were killed in the Qana attack of July 30. And of those 28 from Qana, 16 were children.

Then I turned over to watch the Big Brother "grand" finale. I'm so glad it's over now. I feel I can get my life back. Although it went shit towards the end, by that time I'd already invested so much time in it that I was compelled to see the outcome.

Tourette's-suffering Pete won. He was virtually a dead cert from the off. My fave, ghetto princess Aisleyne, came third, while Wife's fave, gay Canadian waiter Richard, came fourth.

Johnny_DeppI feel it is beneath me, at 36 years of age, to even dignify the programme makers with my viewing figure.

Besides that, though, it just seems wrong to flick from Lebanese tragedy to puerile "reality-show" farce -- to feel I can finally "get my life back" from the television, while people in Lebanon are burying entire families.

But ours is the generation that never grew up. We left home, yes, and started families of our own, but we still watch crap TV and rent bad movies and buy gadgets and comic books and toys. We've found our own Neverland in which to bury our heads.

Friday, August 18, 2006

A likkle bit of music for ye

I am loving this video right now; the footage in the guitar solos is hysterical (from about 3 mins 22 secs in). It's DragonForce, "Through the Fire and the Flames". And check out the length of these guys' hair!

The song ain't bad either. It's got that Iron Maiden/Trivium vibe going on. The drumming is insane. You can download a free mp3 from their official website. Kudos, guys.

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“Ladies with an attitude / Fellas that were in the mood”

Remember this post of last month, or this abbreviated version?

Well, the moment is upon you, my UK-based friends. Tonight you can watch Secret Things (Choses Secrètes) for free on Film Four.

Don't forget to stop by here afterwards to share your opinions...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Shot by both sides

In World War I, more than 300 British soldiers were shot and killed ... by the British.

Cowardice, desertion, and other military offences are the reasons they were executed. Essentially, they were given the death sentence for not fighting because they were either unwilling or unable.

I can understand why anybody would be unwilling. These were young men sent out to kill their fellow man. Maybe they didn't know what they were fighting for. Maybe they objected on moral grounds. Lord knows they probably didn't have a clue what they were doing.

Don't want to fight? Here's a bullet in the head for you, Private.

Others were unable. They had "shell shock". This is what we know today as PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Some of these guys were physically unable to shoot a gun. They could not even hold a pencil because their hands were shaking so much with PTSD.

Shell shock, my arse. Here's a bullet for you, too.

Anyone would think that there wasn't quite enough lives wasted in war so we'd best start shooting our own. Great job, guys. Very sensible.

Now, 90 years on, these soldiers are finally due to receive an official pardon. And about bloody time, too.

Burn, baby, burn: kidnap inferno

Maybe I'm reviewing too many movies. Back when I started this movie thing, I only reviewed a small amount of the films I watched, but I was watching a shitload at the time. Now I watch fewer, so it's kind of easier to review them all. But I don't want to be the movie-review guy, do I? Okay, maybe I do, just a bit. But I want to be more than that, oh so much more!

Regardless, I found myself watching another bloody film, didn't I? This time it was the Minx-recommended Man On Fire, with Denzel Washington and Christopher Walken, and directed by Tony (True Romance) Scott.

The synopsis: Denzel is assigned his first job as a bodyguard in Mexico City. His charge is a little American girl (played by Dakota Fanning), the daughter of rich parents. Such families are targets for kidnappings because the ransoms can be high. Inevitably, the kid gets nabbed; and while this is happening, Denzel gets more bullets put in him than Tupac on a bad day. And thus, when Denzel recovers from his ass-whupping, we come to the essence of the story: revenge. Indeed, the tagline is "Revenge is a meal best served cold". (Of course, we Seinfeld fans know that the best revenge is living well, but that's a whole other story.) Denz sets out to put in the ground every last one of those involved in the kidnap.

Now..., before sitting down to watch the film, Wife and I made a pact. She really didn't want to watch it. She thinks that Tony Scott is useless, and that 130-odd minutes is way too much time to waste on any film he directed. So we agreed that we'd give it an hour. If she was hating it at that point, we'd turn off and I'd watch the rest alone another day. That first hour built up the rapport between Denzel and Fanning. Indeed, this build-up to the story took us up to about 75 minutes. And it was good stuff, I must say. We continued watching, but after that first 75 minutes I knew Wife was bored. She's not a shoot-em-up kind of gal; she's not mad keen on watching people having their fingers removed one at a time; she's not a fan of the action movie. But she is a woman of her word, so we kept watching.

The review: I must say I was surprised. I thought the initial build-up scenes would be the dullest bit, while we waited for the real film to start. But in the end, I found they were the most satisfying elements because we really saw some acting and some (a little) depth to the characters. Once the mayhem commenced it all became a little formulaic. That's not to say it was bad, per se, just a little ... old. It was well handled, though, by Scott. The screenplay was by LA Confidential scribe Brian Helgeland, but it was nowhere near up to that previous film's standard. The bit Wife and I were most looking forward to was the line quoted in the Time Out Film Guide, when Walken says of Denzel: "His art is death, and he's about to paint his masterpiece." In fact, I'd spent about 20 minutes before watching the film trying to deliver that line without laughing. It was nigh on impossible!

Scores on the doors: Hmm. Not wholly satisfying, but not bad. How does 66 out of 100 sound?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A day of commemoration

It's 29 years today since Elvis died. Twenty-nine years! Gosh, I still remember finding out early in the morning. I wasn't an Elvis fan at the time, but my dad was -- a big one.

Elvis's death marked the beginning of my interest in him, just as it was for my brother, who remains a huge fan to this day. I diversified perhaps a little more, and within three years (1980, at the age of 10) I was into the Pistols (a little late, I know, since they'd already disbanded long before then), which was the start of a different musical journey.

Still, Elvis holds a special place in my heart, and I still play his music from time to time, but very rarely anything recorded after those first two or three years, 1954 to 1957. Occasionally the '68 Comeback Special -- a return to glory.

Elvis was the catalyst for all that came after in "popular music". And people can bang on all they like about how he simply stole black music. Maybe he did; but very few others were. That is innovation, my friend. And they can talk till they're blue in the face about how he wrote very few of his own songs and that he sold out and whatever else. All true, perhaps. But at the outset, in 1954, when he drove a truck and had long greasy hair and wore mascara, he was as subversive a motherfucker as you were likely to meet.

As Quentin Tarantino put it, in the mouth of True Romance's Clarence Worley: "In Jailhouse Rock he's everything rockabilly's about. I mean, he is rockabilly: mean, surly, nasty, rude. In that movie, he couldn't give a fuck about anything except rockin' and rollin', livin' fast, dyin' young, and leaving a good-looking corpse."

And after all the pretenders and would-be usurpers, when all is said and done, there's still only one king.

Rest in peace, big guy. 'Nuff said.


20 Comments Wednesday

Yet again, I don't think I'm going to be able to participate, but I'll see what I can do. But hey -- don't let that stop you guys!

Don't know what it's all about yet? Click the button below to find out...


Turns out I had even less time than I'd hoped. It's now 7.30 in the evening and I'm going to cook dinner. I probably shan't return today. So I managed a really pathetic TWO BLOGS COMMENTED ON...! They were:

1. Candy Minx
2. A Day in My Moccasins

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

But does the movie suck?

As we sat down on Sunday evening to watch Thumbsucker, Wife said, "I think I'm going to be disappointed." This was another one of her picks, which generally are better than mine, it must be said. However, she had chosen it almost exclusively for the reason that it had an Elliott Smith soundtrack. To be honest, though, that's as good a reason as any, Elliott being quite so great a songwriter as he is.

Entirely gratuitous still of half-naked girls that has
very little to do with the movie's plot

The only things I knew about Thumbsucker in advance of watching it were:
1. The soundtrack thing previously mentioned;
2. That it had in the lead role the young lad who played the lead in Green Day's "Jesus of Suburbia" video (a good reason for Camie to watch it); and
3. That I might feel a connection since I, too, was a thumbsucker up until about the age of 12.

So down we sat. Pressed play. Up come the opening titles. The cast list other than the young laddy (Lou Pucci) previously mentioned surprised us both: Tilda Swinton, Vincent D'Onofrio, Keanu Reeeves, Benjamin Bratt, Vince Vaughan. To some extent, these are all actors who I have some respect for. Yes, even Keanu, who I think is a great comedic talent, even if he ain't all that as an actor actor.

The synopsis: This is a low-key, American, independent movie. It explores the interplay within a family, as well as that family's relationships with other people: girlfriends, school friends, teachers. It's a coming-of-age film of sorts, yes, but also a quirky tale of teenage life. And the story of a normal, not-entirely happy, not-entirely unhappy family. Really, the sort of environment that is familiar to all of us, I'd imagine.

The review: What can I say? Pucci is great in the lead role (even if I have doubts about how convincing he was as a thumbsucker); Keanu is a gem as the kid's idealistic orthodontist; and the supporting cast present some of their finest work, in my humble opinion. The only surprise here is that this is the first feature by the director, who handles the whole thing superbly. Check out Wife's opinion, too, if you like.

The score: This is one of the best films I've seen in quite a while. Well worth 90 minutes of your time. I give it 75 out of 100.


Middle East ceasefire

The ceasefire's up and is holding, seemingly, although shots have been heard in southern Lebanon. Probably celebratory shots, I wouldn't be surprised.

The displaced Lebanese are returning to their homes. Good luck to 'em. I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to move back so soon.

As befits a "they started it" war such as this one, now both sides are claiming they are victorious -- it must something like the end of Spartacus over there at the moment.

Regardless of who started it and who are the victors, this has been a tragic 34 days, with wholly unnecessary loss of civilian life. Let's hope the ceasefire can be maintained and that Lebanon can begin rebuilding itself. It's going to be a long road.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Careful of the water what is dark, now.
You hear me?

I've seen a few films lately that I haven't yet got round to reviewing. The first one was a couple of week ago now, just before going off on my hols.

jenniferconnellyDark Water is the American remake of a Japanese horror movie. Ordinarily I tend to watch the original foreign-language version of a film rather than the Hollywood version. However, I have been underwhelmed, generally speaking, with Japanese horror, and Wife has sworn off it completely (along with swearing off of David Lynch). So if I want to have some movie-watching downtime with the missus, I need to avoid J-horror, as it's apparently now known.

Another reason for watching this version over the Japanese version is that it has Jennifer Connelly in it. (Can I get a "hubba-hubba"?) And, finally, it clearly had some potential over and above the average US mainstream fare by virtue of being directed by Walter Salles, the man behind the quite wonderful Cental Station.

Well, the intention -- partly because it's a while since I saw the movie -- was for this to be a brief review leading into a longer one of the film I watched on Saturday night, but I seem already to have written more than I had expected. Oops. Guess I'll do two separate posts...

Okay, synopsis. Recently separated mother needs to move to affordable housing with daughter. Finds a flat with charming landlord (the inimitable John C Reilly) and creepy doorman/super (the ubiquitous Pete Postlethwaite). Daughter begins having imaginary friend. Mother starts seeing strange shit. Flat floods with water from room above. Supernatural stuff. Yada yada. I could say more, but I'm not keen to give spoilers.

The verdict: Actually pretty good. Somewhat predictable if you've seen as many films as I have over the years. But better than recent US so-called horror classics such as The Sixth Sense. Couple of moments that make you jump in your seat a little. The acting is generally very good. And the direction is good too. Good ending. A word of warning, though: This film co-stars the worst actor in the entire world, the absolutely beyond-appalling, not even so-bad-he's-good Dougray Scott. Fucking hell, he's shit.

The score: I'm still refining my scoring system, but I'm trying to stay true to the scores I've previously given. As such, Dark Water gets 66 out of 100.

Next up for review: Thumbsucker, Man On Fire, and Sympathy For Mr Vengeance.

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Sunday, August 13, 2006

It’s more than a job; it’s an occupation

It's now estimated that there are 30,0o0 Israeli troops inside Southern Lebanon. So it seems that the Israelis' history of occupation is continuing apace. And now, despite the ceasefire being scheduled for early Monday morning, they are saying it may take up to two weeks for them to withdraw fully. Pricks.

Clearly all they are doing is trying to push Hezbollah to make a stupid mistake. By staying there after the ceasefire they are deliberately baiting their opponents IN THEIR OPPONENTS' OWN TERRITORY. It would be perfectly understandable if Hezbollah don't take this too well. I hope they stay strong and don't do anything silly. Then they will have the moral high ground, something that the Israelis have never held in this war. But I can't help feeling that Israel will just keep on pushing -- and lying to the world -- until Hezbollah snaps and goes straight back at 'em.

This is a fucked-up situation and no messing. But Israel just keep on bullshitting and breaking their promises. What the fuck are the Hezbollah to do? Their backs are against the wall. And I suspect they are virtually national heroes by now, because they are there on the front lines, defending their country against an occupation by enemy forces.

You know, in the documentary Outfoxed it was revealed that Rupert Murdoch ordered all his news channels to stop referring to those fighters fighting the US Army as "resistance" because it made them sound like heroes. But they, too, were fighting an enemy coming into their own homes; they were resistance fighters. Murdoch said they should be called insurgents, which means "people who revolt against civil authority". That's quite a different spin, isn't it?

Who is right and who is wrong is always a matter of perspective. History is written by the victors. Insert your own cliché here. But just remember, we are here witnessing these wars, and whatever the written history tells us in the years to come, we know, right now, that Israel is out of line here. Way out of line.

“Summer’s not a bummer...”

"...It's a stunner, and it's now!" (Well, actually, it's yesterday, but...)


Yep, another great British summer's morning. Wish you were here...?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

“Well, there’s Technicolor and Cinemascope /
A cast out of Hollywood”, part 3

You can find part 1 of this post here, and part 2 is here.

In this third post, I'm going to talk a little about the pirate and bootleg "industries".

When I was in my mid-teens, so we're talking 1985/86, I loved bootleg audio tapes. I would buy concert and demo tapes of bands I liked (Adam & The Ants, Bauhaus, The Cure, Sex Pistols) and discover songs that were almost legendary among fans but that had never been officially released.

Before long, I found that a similar market existed for film, and I began looking into it. It's funny... I said in a previous post that The Wicker Man being aired on BBC2 in late 1986, I think, was the film that sparked my interest in cinema, but I have just realized, now that I put my mind to it, that I must have already been interested in "video nasties" and the like, since I was still at school when I ordered my bootleg video tape of A Clockwork Orange.

This Kubrick classic was not officially available in the UK, for either cinema or home video, for some 30 years. Kubrick himself withdrew it from circulation shortly after its original release in the early '70s due to bad press blaming it for some street violence of the time. It was not until after his death that the self-imposed "ban" was lifted. So getting a copy on tape was a hugely significant moment in my film collecting. It was probably the most bootlegged movie in the UK at the time, I'd guess.

I paid £12 for this tape out of the classified ads in the back pages of the NME. It would have been a tenner, but for an extra £2 I could have a second film on the four-hour tape, too, so I chose another banned classic: Wes Craven's Last House on the Left. I hadn't seen either movie when I ordered the tape. I watched A Clockwork Orange many times, though, once it arrived. I don't think I watched LHOTL more than once. Bit grim, I thought.

I wish I still had that tape. Not least because the recently released-for-the-first-time-in-the-UK DVD of LHOTL is still missing footage that was probably on my tape version. And those old habits -- of wanting unreleased goodies -- die hard. Even though it's not a film I've returned to since, I still bought it cheap on DVD. Y'know, for the collection.

You see, for years, we in the UK have been treated like babies when it comes to the cinematic arts. Violent films and pornography have long been subject to cuts or outright bans. Ostensibly these bans are to protect the young, into whose hands they might fall. No thought was ever given to the possibility that an adult might not let his or her kids have sight of them. Or that a couple might not have kids, so why shouldn't they be able to watch what they want. No; the kids come first, even at the cost of the rest of the nation's civil liberties. Grrr. (By the way, Melon Farmers is a great source of information regarding cuts made to UK film releases.)

But it's not just "extreme cinema" that suffers. The UK releases of the Indiana Jones and Rambo trilogies are both cut, for example. I never knowingly purchase a cut copy of a film or TV show,* unless it's at a bargain price. As such, websites like Rewind are totally invaluable.

At this point, I'd like to make a distinction between bootlegs and pirates. Some people argue that they are one and the same. Those who are interested in collecting bootlegs feel otherwise. A bootleg offers something to the collector that is not available officially (or legally, if you want), while a pirate is a straight rip-off of an official release.

If something I want is available officially and legally, I will buy it. If it is not, then I resort to bootlegs. Simple as.

So, with that in mind, there is something I just don't understand. Back in the '80s and most of the '90s, we had video tape. It was a bit shit and it wore out before too long, but it was better than nothing, right? The advent, though, of the DVD in the late 90s (via the clunky and inconvenient LaserDisc format), coupled with the Internet's global marketplace, has led to a wealth of films being available to us all in pristine quality.

If I want to buy Ichi The Killer, I don't have to buy the UK version, which is cut by more than 3 minutes; I can import an uncut copy from the US, Australia, or Holland. And yet, with all that is available to us, and with release dates of discs getting closer and closer to the cinema release dates (indeed, we can often buy US discs of films before they hit UK cinemas), why do people still buy pirate copies of films from car-boot sales or Islington street corners?

The quality is shite. Someone I know -- in fact, a couple of different people -- constantly say to me that they have this film or that on DVD and do I want to borrow it. It is always a film that has yet to come out at the cinema, and it is always a pirate copy.

Do these people not realize that the point of DVD is the great picture and sound quality. That is the reason we have switched to DVD from tape. So to get a DVD with a shit picture on it and crappy sound -- not to mention no extra features or subtitles -- and to pay £10 for it is ridiculous! If I wait four months I can pick up a legit copy with fuckloads of extras for the same money.

If we wanted bollocks quality, we'd've stuck to the old ways, you buffoons!

* On the subject of cuts, but of a different kind, the US releases of the second, third, and fourth seasons of Quantum Leap, one of my all-time fave TV shows, have all had their music altered. Y'know, the period music that helped set the scene. It's been replaced with generic music cues. We in the UK were spared this abortion ... up until season four, and now the cunts have done it to us too.

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“Late night, come home / Work sucks, I know”

It's been a wee while since my last Six Line Review, so you can check out my latest one by clicking here.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Wow, that’s a whole lot of sitting down doing nothing

I just left a comment over at Tideliar's place. For the first time ever, I counted up how many tattoo sessions I've had. My 11 clearly distinct tattoos have clocked up a total of 27 sittings since 1990, at least half of which have lasted around 3 hours. Ouch!

This is my latest, done for the Skin project (see my links for details):


To learn more about my tattoos, you can check out this old post. And to read my previous ramblings about the Skin project, click here.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

Reading Italian comics and loving it!

Partly inspired by ACT's post of a few weeks ago, and partly uninspired by my choice of reading material for the holidays (Machiavelli's The Prince, which I am reading for a second time, and the Bill Hicks Love All the People book), while in Italy I went mad for Dylan Dog comics (fumetti).


They take me a little while to read because I'm trying to improve my Italian at the same time, focusing on sentence structure and the like, but they are great fun. I bought 13 in total (only 12 in this pic, cos one was sitting ready near my bag for today's train trip to London) at €2.50 each. Wife thought I was insane, I think, spending €32.50 (£22, or US$42) on these things over the course of about four days, but I'm hooked, man! And I was amazed that the beachside newsstands had original first editions (even though some of them were a bit tatty) dating back to 1990!

And while at the newsstand I couldn't resist the urge to buy some Italian porn comics, too. More on those later...


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

One thousand and counting

Do I need to tell you that's how many Lebanese have died at Israeli hands in the past four weeks or so?

While in Italy, I saw a news report on CNN. A Lebanese citizen standing in the rubble of his hometown was saying that he will not move, and that -- get this -- the Israelis, Americans, and British will not make him change his mind.

Makes you proud, doesn't it, to be right up there on the shitlist of a normal workaday man? You Americans for providing bombs and general support to Israel, and we British for allowing US planes to transport bombs to Israel and for not demanding an immediate ceasefire and for not standing up to that prick Bush.

Citizens of Lebanon and of Lebanese heritage, know this: It's not in my name.

Iggy Pop

I daresay everyone's seen this. I saw it a good couple of years ago. But even if you have, it's still worth watching again.


Click the pic to watch Iggy sing!

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“Oh lovely tagland, it’s a wonderful brew / A tag for me, and a tag for you”

Pie at Stuplicated has tagged me, so here goes. Be aware that some of this is likely to be rather similar to the list at Red-Letter Day.

10 Years Ago: August 1996
Red and I were hanging out loads and doing lots of things that resulted in lots of lovebites (tee hee). Watching lots of films, too. It must have been around this time that I first saw Scarface and decided it so hadn't been worth the wait. What a stinking pile of poo. Lots of getting-to-know-you stuff. Good times. (They still are, but those first few weeks are crazy, aren't they?)

5 Years Ago: August 2001
Who knows? Probably on a beach in Italy, which is always great. Maybe if we'd know then what we know now, we would have been in New York...

1 Year Ago: 9 August 2005
Again, I just don't know! What does Red say?

5 songs I know all the words to
I know the words to shitloads of songs. To me the point of a song is that it has words. If you like the song enough you should know a good chunk of the words, no? Anyway, I digress...
"Whip in My Valise", Adam & The Ants
"That Makes It Tough", Buddy Holly
"Anarchy in the UK", Sex Pistols
"The Man in the Iron Mask", Billy Bragg
"I Ain't Mad At Cha", 2Pac

5 snacks
Chocolate Digestives and black coffee
Ciauscolo on crusty bread
Boursin cheese on Ritz crackers
Pitta and hummus

5 things I'd do with $100 million
Buy some wicked property in some great locations
Help out family and friends with their finances
Give to some charities that I respect
Build myself a great little cinema, or buy a lovely Art Deco one
Keep a little for a rainy day

5 places I'd run away to
New York City
Koh Samui
Some of those cool places that feature on Survivor
Anywhere with Wife

5 things I'd never wear
A toupée
A yarmulke
Dr Scholl shoes
A cock piercing
My heart on my sleeve (yeah, right!)

5 fave TV shows
Quantum Leap
The Simpsons

5 greatest joys
Good music
Good films

5 fave toys
HD recorder
DVD player
Wife -- well, not a toy, but she is a doll ;-)

5 peeps to tag
Do it if you want.

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I have a dream

I sometimes have some weird dreams, just like many people do, I suppose, but it's rare that I make any special effort to remember them. And to be honest, I haven't had any worthwhile ones for some time. But the one from this morning was funny. I woke up and wrote it down in detail, because I knew it was fading fast. Here it is.

I'm in a classroom, in which people are singing and performing songs one at a time for their peers. Some guy gets up to do "Peggy Sue Got Married" by Buddy Holly... on the clarinet... singing at the same time. It's an interrupted performance at best, and the lyrics are all wrong, so I say, "Dude, let me help you out," and I go up to sing with him. The classroom contains several people who know me (1), and I hear one guy say, "Can you believe the balls on this guy?" (2), meaning me.

So I get to the front of the class, and I pick up the lyric sheet (even though I know it's wrong), and I say, "Okay, give me the intro." He does, and I start singing, keeping half an eye on his lyric sheet. Fortunately I know the lyrics, so I don't have to rely on his "interpretation". (3)

Before long, I turn the page to continue singing, and there are no longer any song words; instead, there is a comic strip (4) set in a jungle. (5) A bunch of guys with beards are fishing from a boat. They catch some big spiky-toothed fish and cook them over a camp fire.

I say to the guy, "Stop, stop, stop. What's going on here? Firstly, the lyrics aren't right, man." And he (he's Dutch) says, "It doesn't matter what words I sing, as long as it sounds right."

"But, dude," I say, "this is a really really really famous song and the words are really really really badly wrong. People will know. And what's with this comic strip? Who are these people?" I look at their faces again; there's not a bespectacled one among them, so clearly it's nothing to do with Buddy Holly.

He points to one of them and says, "That's Tonky" -- I'm perplexed now -- and he points to another and says, "And that's Beckmann," and I'm like ?!?. We get to the end of the comic strip, and it says in the final panel something like "This is the true story of how 'Jungle River Trip' was written." Now everything falls into place. I turn to the guy and I say, "Dude, this is The Monkees, (6) not Buddy Holly," and he replies, "Oh yeah, The Monkees. That's who I meant."

1. People with whom I've never actually shared a class, though.
2. Clearly this is from my most recent Lebanon post.
3. The only bit of his words that I remember is: "Red red rose that's been in almost all the songs", instead of "You recall a girl that's been in nearly every song".
4. In Italy I've been reading almost nothing but comic books. More on that later...
5. Bizarrely, just after typing this bit, I had an e-mail from eBay, saying, "I'm writing to you from the depths of the jungle." Seriously.
6. I have no idea whether The Monkees ever wrote such a song, or went to the jungle, or counted Tonky and Beckmann among their numbers, but I doubt it.

Monday, August 07, 2006

I’m back!

Well, a lot can happen in a week, I guess. I think I've put on about half a stone (7 lb, or 3 kg) in Italy. I'm not going to stay at my machine long now because I'm shattered, and I'm not going to get all political straightaway, but you know that's coming, right? But also coming is some dumb fun stuff and part 3 of my cinema post.

I'm really looking forward to catching up with what people have been writing in my absence, too (though this is the point when I'm happy that many of my fave blogs don't update as frequently as I do...).

We have taken lots of pics in Italy -- somewhere in the region of 400, I guess -- and I daresay some will make their way here. Many others will probably just go on a Flickr account, so I'll keep you all informed. I'll also go through all the comments you've left and reply to them one and all (well, those that I can find, anyway).

Looking forward to getting back into the saddle.


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