Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween


Monday, October 30, 2006

Movie time!

It's been a loooooong time since I did any film reviews (such as they are), so I need to rectify that here. I'll keep it brief, though, because... well, because I don't have much time, to be honest. What little "spare" time (if you can call it that) I had today has already been spent shopping and eating burgers. Mmmm... burgers.

So, dear reader, what have I seen recently? I'll tell you, shall I?

I gotta say, I like director Todd Solondz. This is the fourth film of his that I've seen, and ooh yes I detect a theme. Paedophilia, child abuse, sexual abuse, incest. Indeed, all of the above. Solondz frequently dwells on all of these subjects at length, in the process making incredible, touching pieces of cinema that dare to confront subjects that make people feel uncomfortable. Palindromes takes Solondz's normally realist style into a new direction, though. The lead character is played by several different girls, despite most of the action taking place within a time frame of just a few months. These girls go from black to white and skinny to fat. To be honest, the end effect is nowhere near as frustrating/irritating/whatever as you might imagine. And in many ways it works beautifully, suggesting that this is one girl under discussion, but it could be anyone. Solondz either is your thing or he ain't. He's definitely mine, and I think this is one of his strongest works. I give this a massive 71.

Bombón El Perro
Already reviewed by my dear wife, this film will indeed warm the cockles of your heart -- once it's over. You know what? I found it just a little stressful to watch. You so rarely see films that are this nice and rewarding and optimistic; so when you do, you get the terrible feeling that it's all going to go horribly wrong at every turn! It didn't. Beautiful, both to look at and as a story. 74 points.

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
Getting our Halloween viewing off to an early start, we sat down to watch this over the weekend. I really knew nothing about this film, so it was all fresh to me. And I've got to say, I was gripped. What performances! What a tale! What (melo)drama! I love good old movies, and I'm amazed that this one has passed me by for so long. Catch it on TCM or pay to rent the DVD. It's well worth it. Number 73 for this one.

Next: Caché (Hidden) and whatever else we dig up for All Hallow's Eve. Mwuhahahahahahahaha!

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Sunday, October 29, 2006

More copyright chaos

According to the BBC News website, a report is being published today urging the government not to succumb to pressure from the music industry to extend copyright in music.

In part, some of the recommended changes are to protect the consumer's right to copy music that they have already purchased for use on their computer, mp3 player, etc, but clearly there is a feeling that the laws are out of date, and the music biz wants copyright terms extended, rather than reduced or staying the same.

The copyright currently stands at 50 years in the UK. Now, you can call me cynical if you like, but do you think it's any coincidence that we are fast approaching 50 years from the time of landmark recordings being made? Additionally, some copyright terms expire 50 years after an artist's death (in the US, for example), meaning we are fast approaching the end of copyright on some of rock 'n' roll's early casualties, such as Buddy Holly. Heaven forbid that the music industry should start losing some of their cash cows.

Indeed, in the case of Buddy Holly, it will be Paul McCartney who stands to gain from an extension in terms, since he owns Holly's catalogue of songs. Yeah, he really needs the money, doesn't he?! This is as good a reason as any NOT to extend the length of copyright: the last thing we want is money from Buddy Holly's music going to Macca's bullshitting one-legged ex-wife.


Sunday Morning

This was taken at 6:57am. I chose it because of the multicoloured sky and the two birds and the aeroplane trail, in part, though I also really liked the sun itself in this shot.

... And these are all the other options, all taken between 6:12 and 6:58am. There is something like 30 seconds between the last one where the sun is invisible and the first one where it pops out.

If you played, either at sundown or sun-up, let me know, and I'll put a link to you in this post.

Sunsets: Shep; Ems; Diana; Pickled Olives
Sunrises: Shep; Ems; Cappy (actually from Friday); Milla (from Monday)
Combined sunset/sunrise posts: Candy Minx; Tanya

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Saturday Night...

This was taken a few minutes before sunset, at 5:36pm, and despite the electricity lines and the horrendous cloud cover, I felt it was the most evocative of the approximately 30 pictures I took within that 10-minute period between 5:35 and 5:45.

Saturday Night/Sunday Morning:
a blogland photo gallery

An idea was hatched in recent history to take a sunrise picture on the first morning that clocks revert to GMT. That's this Sunday, folks. The brief has now been broadened to include sunset shots of the evening before as well or instead. Click here for details of how to play, wherever you are. Go on, there's really no excuse not to ... unless you don't have a blog. Or you don't have a camera.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Don’t dream it, be it

Rocky Horror lips

Isn't that a great image? Surely, even without seeing the title
of the CD, everyone knows what those lips represent, piercings notwithstanding.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show had a huge impact on me as an adolescent sex-obsessed virgin boy. It was a perfect accompaniment to my burgeoning porn collection, the sexual content of Prince records, and the S&M imagery of early Adam & The Ants songs.

Although bisexuality was never my thing (I just find the average male form too unappealing, frankly), it fit so perfectly with Frank N Furter's alien perspective and sex as recreation, regardless of gender and conventional barriers, just as the lyrics of those aforementioned artists challenged the vanilla flavour of sexual norms.

Wife discovered the existence of The Rocky Horror Punk Rock Show CD -- full of Rocky Horror cover versions -- while investigating the back catalogue of one of her current fave acts, Alkaline Trio. When
she gave it me as a gift yesterday (two gifts in one week; who's a lucky guy?!), she prefaced it with: "You might think this is a bit of a bowling-ball present." Don't you just love a woman who references The Simpsons in general conversation?

Anyway, I didn't think of it that way, and I am psyched to hear these new renditions of songs that I have loved for some 20 years. And it's another album to add to my various versions of the Rocky Horror songs -- my third, in fact, behind the film soundtrack and the original Roxy cast recording.

If you like Rocky Horror, I urge you to try to track down The Rocky Horror Punk Rock Show. I've not listened to it all yet, but what I've heard is great fun -- just as you'd expect.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Talk To Frank, and other misguided bollocks

Every few months the British government comes up with an advertising campaign to change some aspect of our society for the better. These ads are almost exclusively to do with alcohol abuse, drug abuse, or sexual awareness.

All well and good, you might say. And I would agree with you.

Rightly, too, these ads are supposed to be hard-hitting, no punches pulled, because that's the only way to get the message through to people. Again, I concur.

The reality, though, is that these campaigns are fucking shit. Remember back in the '80s we had the big AIDS campaign. Anyone in the UK of about my age (mid-30s) and older will remember these ads. While they weren't hard-hitting as such, they were foreboding. They looked like some time and thought had gone into scaring people into safe sex. And I'm certain they worked. For a time. I recently saw some startling figures that revealed HIV/AIDS cases among teenagers and 20-somethings are on the increase again, as a result of less public information. This is a really terrible state of affairs.

But maybe they'll do a "hard-hitting" ad like this one, from the Talk To Frank campaign:

or this one, which warns against overdoing it on the alcohol:

Come on, do me a fucking favour. Who are we kidding with this shit? Are people really stupid enough to believe this stuff is hard-hitting? Kids of 12 years old are getting pregnant in this country. Children are stabbing and kicking their schoolmates to death. This is a nation growing up seeing news stories about toddlers getting taken from their own bathroom and being raped before being dumped in an alley.

Wake up, you dumb governmental cunts, and smell the coffee -- and not that decaff shit you're obviously drinking. Some bint dancing around in a playground does not a hard-hitting ad make. Fuck's sake.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I’m Asterisk, buy me.

Remember the great artwork Asterisk's Brew, made by Candy Minx? You can now own this unique and wonderful piece by clicking here and buying it at eBay. Believe me, oh faithful reader, she and I debated the logistics of shipping it to the UK, but it just ain't gonna fly... umm, literally.

So, if you are based in the US, why not buy it for your wall? It's a great piece, I will be eternally jealous, it'd be great to know it's in the hands of a blogmate, AND you'll be supporting an artist who does it cos she loves it. And isn't that the best type of artist?


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I have a list, part 1

Like the header says, I have a list. On that list are things that I write down as possible subjects for blog posts. Most of what is on this list has been there for a while. That's not to say they are useless topics; more that they either need more research on my part or I'm not quite sure what to say.

Take the first item on the list, for example. It says "Scotland by bus". I simply don't think I can make a whole post out of this. My mum went to Scotland. By bus. It took 18 hours. The reason I thought this might be a good idea for a post is the following question that it brought to my mind: Why the hell would someone go to Scotland by bus, when it's going to take 18 bloody hours?

That was about as interesting as I thought the subject was ever going to get. But then my mum went somewhere else by bus, too. Spain. It took nearly two days, with a sleepover at Dijon, France. She said: "It was a very nice hotel, but if we go again, I think we'll fly."

Monday, October 23, 2006

Cat’s feeling cranky


Welcome to the Black Motherfuckin’ Parade

I got a gift from Wife today: the new My Chemical Romance album The Black Parade.

I've listened to it just the once so far, but it sounds really good. Different to the previous two albums. Darker, more restrained and deliberate-sounding, as would befit its title. I'm looking forward to hearing it several more times in the coming days. Thanks missus!



Austrian men love the cockroach

The latest film I've seen is Hundstage, or Dog Days -- an Austrian film in the style of Short Cuts, Magnolia, Code Unknown, etc: a peek into the lives of various characters whose lives interact with one another's on some insanely hot summer days.

Generally speaking, I like this movie device, simply because it really is one of the most realistic ways of looking at our lives outside of a documentary format. Sure, the stories can be somewhat contrived (I thought Crash was very disappointing, for example), but in essence we all know people who know people that we don't know, so on that level these films succeed.

Some of the key characters in Dog Days include a young retarded woman who is constantly looking to hitch a ride, almost always managing to do so; a security-systems salesman; an old widower and his helper; a separated husband and wife who still live together following the death of their son; and a mature unmarried couple.

In many ways, this is a brutal, ugly film. It focuses almost exclusively on the nasty side of people and the dirty secrets that most would probably want to keep hidden. But you are drawn to these characters, really wanting to know what is going to happen to them next, even though you suspect it can't be anything good. And mostly your suspicions are right.

The two standout scenes are those in which people are forced to sing "La Cucaracha". These have at least as much tension to them as most latter-day horror movies.

If you like the films of Michael Haneke, you will probably like this. It's no fun, and its underlying theme seems to be that Austrian men are mostly really horrible, but it's well made, gripping, and challenging.
I give it 65 out of 100.

Next: Palindromes

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Guess it was just a matter of time. Now sit back and wait for the knock at your door.

Blogspot blog 101 Great Goals has been ordered to remove all footage of Premiership goals from its pages, since their inclusion contravenes copyright laws.

Most clips were actually hosted on YouTube, and 101 Great Goals merely linked to them. The clips are having to be removed from YouTube too. This comes hot on the heels of almost 30,000 clips being removed from YouTube after "the Japan Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers found 29,549 music video, movie and TV clips had been posted without permission". [Source: BBC News]

The anti-blogging backlash begins here, I guess. Suddenly, now that YouTube is owned by a big concern, it is worth taking notice of it.

I may be wrong, but I dare say there are very few blogs out there that don't contain some copyrighted material. Everyone, surely, has uploaded an album cover pic or a movie poster or a photo of their favourite author, actor, singer, whatever. Get ready to receive your
e-mail from the powers that be.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Who’s a loser?

Yes, Wife and I were playing silly IM games again, when we both sent the same "loser" emoticon to each other at the exact same time. So exact, in fact, that their little hands moved perfectly in sync with other. Oh, how we ROFLOAO.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

My Chemical Romance

You ever get one of those moments when...?

Okay, a couple of weeks back, this comment was made about me by someone who doesn't know me:

I think youre one of those guys that likes the original no matter what, so people will think youre "old school" or something along those lines. You liked it before it was famous. I bet you'll stop listening to music if a lot of people like it dont you?

My own response was that most art is better before the artist becomes too successful, and so, yes, I do tend to go off artists once they get big, saying something about how they were better before they were big (which isn't necessarily the same as selling out).

I came to the My Chemical Romance party a little late in the day myself. Wife and I saw the video for "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)" at about the time it was released, and she quickly bought the album, which was the band's second one. I listened to it more than she did, though, and so she gifted me the debut album a few months later, which at that time was not easy to find, because I guess it had been pressed in fairly limited numbers.

Since that time -- probably the best part of a couple of years ago now -- MCR have become pretty bloody huge. So huge, in fact, and this may surprise some US readers, that their current single "Welcome to the Black Parade" is at No.1 in the UK singles chart. Click the header to check out the promo vid over at Wife's blog.

Last week I spoke to my brother. My brother likes some really bad music. He likes Jason Mraz, for fuck's sake, and KT Tunstall (Cuntie Ton o' Stool, as I like to call her), and Sting, and probably James Blunt and all that faux singer/songwriter shit produced by fakers for the masses. He told me how much he liked the new My Chemical Romance track. I could have died. I could have burned my CDs right there and then. But I rose above, clinging on to the hope that he will forget all about them in a few weeks. Let's hope.

But this sort of thing always reminds me of that line in the Adam & The Ants track "Don't Be Square (Be There)": You may not like us now, but you will.

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Knock knock. Who’s there? Chuck. Chuck who? Chuck me ball back, it’s landed in yer garden.

Well, I sent my letter off to Chuck Palahniuk yesterday. It ran to just over four pages of A4 once printed at a decent legible point size, and I put a lot of stuff in there, including the sort of things I wouldn't even put on my blog. And it got me thinking...

It's funny that, after a few months of blogging, you build up cyber friendships, and before you know it, you're kind of self-censoring. I don't mean that in a heavy censorship kind of way, but there are certain things that I wouldn't say to my close friends, just as now I wouldn't say to my close blogmates.

I'm not the type to regale people with tales of my sexual prowess, for example. And that's not because I'm not great in the sack (although "great" might be stretching it a bit); it's more that I suspect some of my readers would go, "Ewww, too much information, * (asterisk) dude." Because that is not what my blog is. Other people do that stuff and do it well: Alex and Suze obviously spring to mind. But you go to their blog, and you know that there is a good chance you will read something about them having sex. Does that make any sense?

Anyway, lest you're concerned, I didn't tell Chuck anything about my sex life either. I'm sure he, too, will be breathing a sigh of relief about that! I did go into more detail about certain family situations than I have ever done here, though. But that was kind of subconscious, and before I knew it I'd written way more than I'd intended on the subject.

I don't know where I'm going with this really. But... a question: Have you found that there are certain things you don't want to put in your blog entries? Maybe you're having an affair, but you can't mention it because your other half reads your blog. Or you have an ailment that you'd rather not reveal because you don't want people's sympathy vote. I'm not asking you all to do anonymous comments again, but just in a general sense, do you know where I'm coming from?


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Recent searches

I've been keeping a closer eye on what brings people to me over the past three weeks or so, checking almost every day and keeping a list (although I missed a few days here and there, I'm sure). The old faves are there -- Helen Willetts, pregnant or otherwise; variants on my name or my blog name; cat humping; and several of the Italian football team and their tattoos -- so I've done a bit of an edit, and here are my favourites of the recent new search terms that found your friendly neighbourhood weblogger. As always, misspellings are the searchers' own; bracketed notes are from me.

"gym rope" erection
"you fat cunt" (I'm carrying a couple of extra pounds, but come on...)
Alvin Stardust
wicker man "gently johnny"
lyrics chinaski slow day
quadrophenia remake (Was this Cappy?)
peter bowles fan sites
dangerous lockjaw dogs
"fucking diet" (Now there's a diet I could live with...)
ichthyosaur for sale
friday the 13th good luck for italians
nigga blog from LA (Umm, not so much)
bush assassination TV
"death of a president" (Five times, the day after the film aired)
factotum slow-day blog
"hammered aluminum plates" value (Why to me?)
lyrics "you better stop, before you go and break my heart
online music sheets ten little niggers
hnt shaved
myspace picture for back ground kurt cobain nirvana grunge (?!?)
what does the Lebanonflag like? (I think the word "look" is missing...)
"morally diminished" blog (Why, thank you)
helen willetts movies (This is novel... Why?)
legless woman (There were a couple of these...)
keanu reeeves snaps
"wife's belly button"
Conan Obrien's Saint Patrick's Day Episode 2006
bruce forsyth KKK (I don't think I want to know)
free porncovers
"man in the iron mask" bragg (This inspired me to put the lyrics up today, since it's one of my fave songs)

“The Man in the Iron Mask” – Billy Bragg

When he drops you off, I will not say,
"Who was that, who so quickly drove away?"
The things you've done
And the places you've been:
When I open the door for you
I will not let them in.

As long as you come back to me
I will never ask.
For you I will be
The man in the iron mask.

You said you loved me and it broke my heart;
I was always your prisoner right from the start.
The nights you spend without me,
This house is like a dungeon.
And you only return to torture me more.

You must have your reasons;
I will not ask.
For you I will be
The man in the iron mask.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Four Weddings overdub shock

So, here it is: the celeb exclusive you've been waiting for. It's at times like this that I most love working in the media, when people slip you the odd bit of gossip. I've been allowed to run this today only because it's going to hit the papers tomorrow.

First of all, for those of you who don't know, actress Andie McDowell was overdubbed in her first film role in Greystoke -- y'know, the Tarzan flick with Christopher Lambert. This was because Andie was a model, and I guess they figured her voice wasn't quite right or something. Could be that her Southern accent was too strong. Indeed, seasoned star Glenn Close did McDowell's voice work for that film.

What is less well known is that she was also dubbed for Four Weddings and a Funeral. I have received a leaked piece of audio from the original takes, and these really show why she needed to be dubbed. It's odd, though, because there are plenty of films in between where her voice was seemingly fine, and she does those ads these days and everything, but what do I know?

As Conan O'Brien says, you couldn't make this stuff up. Why would you? That would be stupid. To hear Andie's original take of her famous line at the end of the film, click here. You may need to turn the volume up, since the sound quality is not great.

A sleepless night, cat humping, Helen Willetts, and other stuff

It's 3:39 a.m. as I start typing this post. I can't sleep. This often happens if I go to bed too early, and last night I hit the sack at around 10:30. I woke first at about 1, then again a couple of hours later. I'm sure the bit that proper woke me up, though, was Cat deciding to hump my arm, as he does now and again. Which is why so many people come to this blog when searching for "cat humping" in Google.

While he was doing the do, all I could think about was that godawful song "My Humps", and I blame this chap for that, specifically this post. Thanks Steve. Oh, I mean not thanks, the other thing. What's the opposite of thanks? Steve is the latest addition to my daily reads, thanks to Lee. And this time I really do mean thanks.

Another search term that brings people here revolves around the possibility of weather girl Helen Willetts being pregnant. Now I have not got the slightest idea why people would care whether or not Helen was up the duff, with child, has a bun in the oven, whatever. But I can, here and now, non-exclusively reveal that she is indeed pregnant. I saw her on TV last night, and there is absolutely no doubt. Helen, I do not know you, but good luck.

On the subject of celebrity rumours and the like, I have some incredible and exclusive news regarding a pretty big star. I can't say too much right now, but I will be posting later today on that subject. You seriously will not want to miss that, so pop back again in a few hours.

I'm going to flip a coin now to decide whether it's best to read for a while (I started another Dennis Lehane book) or do some work. Ooh, tough decision.

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Finished watching Jane Eyre...

Reader, she married him.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

News for Palahniuk fans

Separated at birth? Jeff Probst and Chuck Palahniuk

Two cool things to know if you're a Chuck Palahniuk fan.

1. Here is Chuck's personal description of his forthcoming novel, Rant.

"For 'Rant' I borrowed the form of an oral biography, wherein dozens of people are interviewed about the same person, then those interviews are cut together. Like a 'talking head' type of documentary film. The only person not present is the subject: Rant Casey, an updated Huckleberry Finn in a messy, crowded near-future. Cars, traffic, and accidents all play parts, with chunks of the through-line action presented as radio traffic reports. Of course there's a romance. And of course it's confronting and occasionally violent. And sickening or sexy. The glory of the 'oral biography' form is how it allows the story to cut instantly from one plot thread to another, or from the 'camera' perspective of one character to another, while both describe the same event. This let me boil each statement down to the minimal plot point so that the action moves blam, blam, blam through the entire twisted life and death of Rant."

2. Chuck Palahniuk is accepting fanmail right now. He is taking six months or so out of his schedule to reply to each and every letter sent to him with an October postmark. There are rules, though, guys -- and he won't even read ones from stalker types or written in blood. I've got mine almost ready to mail. If you want to join in the fun, check out this page. And to hear him talk about it, go here.


Friday, October 13, 2006

Too much work...

Regular readers and visitors may have noticed a reduction in my output of late. Back in the day -- and I'm talking ... ooh, several weeks ago -- it was not uncommon for me to post four times during my working hours. Sometimes you might have got six posts, sometimes three. And I never missed a day.

I'm having a bit of a work overload at the moment, and it's set to get worse, so that's why you occasionally see only one post a day from me right now, and sometimes none -- at the weekend, for example. It's going to be a long month for me, without being able to blog much.

Yessiree, it's a tough life sometimes. Still, it could be worse. Imagine having to do what this guy does 18 hours a day.

Red Sky at Morning, Shepherd’s Warning

Red Sky at Morning, Shepherd's Warning

Taking a leaf out of Shep's book, I couldn't help but photograph the sky at about 6:50 this morning. Happy Friday the 13th to one and all. Take care out there today...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Oh yeah, I see the England squad’s back on form

Back down to being ever shit. There's talk today that the fans want Beckham back. I'd like to see him back in the squad, sure. He's a good player. But if he is approached, I hope he tells 'em to fuck right off.

Rooney. Pig-faced cunt, more like. Never liked him, never will. Useless waste of space, just like Neville.

Hello everyone. I hope you're all having a nice day...


Knight night, and Jennifer Connelly

I watched a bit of A Knight's Tale when it was on TV the other night. Well, I probably saw more than an hour of it -- the second half, I suppose. I'd always thought it looked a bit shite, and within a few minutes I'd suspected I was right. That terrible dance sequence to some dodgy David Bowie song, for example. I don't even remember which song it was now.

I turned to Wife, who was sneering at me for keeping the film on for more than about 17 seconds, and I asked whether Heath Ledger was a real knight or just pretending. "I don't know," she responded, or words to that effect. Basically, she didn't know. "But you've read all this Chaucer stuff," I said. "You've read A Knight's Tale."

"Yes," she responded, "but this isn't that story."

Who the fuck knew? I didn't anyway (but y'all know I don't know my classics). I felt a touch cheated, but I persevered, with both the film and Wife.

"Is Paul Bettany playing Chaucer?" she asked me at one point. It certainly seemed that way. Now I don't know much (um, anything) about Chaucer, but for some reason I had a hunch he wasn't tall, blond, and dashing. Wife confirmed what I already suspected by telling me he was short, stocky (fat even), and she may even had said bearded.

Essentially she was describing how Mark Addy looked in the film. How weird that they've got this actor who looks just like Chaucer, and instead they use someone completely different.

By the way, early in our courtship (isn't that a lovely old word?), Wife and I sat just a couple of tables away from Mark Addy, who was then fresh from his Full Monty fame, in a Pizza Express restaurant. He was eating on his own. Not that there's anything intrinsically wrong with that; just that it seemed kinda sad that a man of certain celeb standing was eating alone in a pizza joint, y'know.

Anyway, I digress.

All I really wanted to say was that I thought A Knight's Tale was actually pretty good. Something of a guilty pleasure, you might say. At the right price I'd even consider buying the DVD so I can watch the first half too.

I'm not going to give this film a rating because maybe the first half is fucking rank, but I will say that I was very pleasantly surprised.

By the way, I think that Wife thinks I'm in love with Paul Bettany. But I hereby go on the record to say that I'm not, even though I do think he's a pretty good actor. And what better excuse to put a lovely pic of Jennifer Connelly here, for she is, in fact, in love with the aforementioned chap.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The cult of the ever-youthful dead pop star

One of my earliest childhood memories -- and certainly my first real brush with popular culture -- is the death of Elvis. Of course, I knew not who he was really, although I do recall telling my mum that her boyfriend was dead. Seems I was wrong, though, and it was Alvin Stardust who she had a thing for.

Regardless, the notion of dead pop star as icon and cult was born, for me, there and then, and I lapped up Elvis's music via my dad's record collection. Sadly, my brother and I probably ruined many highly collectable discs in the process.

Other dead icons preceded Elvis of course: Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix to name but a few. I have nothing much to add. I despise The Doors and Morrison. Joplin, whatever. Hendrix, yeah he's all right...

A couple of years later I discovered Buddy Holly. This one had been in his grave a while longer, of course. But so devoted was I, that I soon acquired everything I could. The great thing about picking up on a dead artist was that the output was finite. (Or so it seemed in those days.)

It wasn't long before I turned to punk and the Sex Pistols. Oh, look, one of them's dead. I'm sensing a disturbing pattern here... Although it goes without saying that, as this list progresses, Sid Vicious will be seen as the odd one out, being as he was an untalented loser and all.

The 1980s passed without a real notable pop-star death for me, with the exception early on in that decade of John Lennon, and so we move on to the '90s.

In 1991, the Manic Street Preachers landed in my lap with a bang. It felt good to get in at ground level with a new band. Good look, good music (although I thought my band was better at first).

And then came Nirvana. And within a couple of years here was my first first-hand taste of rock martyr, suicide, or whatever you want to call it. Here was an artist who had meant something to me while he was alive, only to have him do himself in. I was used to having dead heroes, but this was my first dead hero that I knew when he was alive.

And then, about a year after Cobain's death, Richey Edwards of the Manic Street Preachers disappears. He'd been clinically depressed for ages. Is he dead? We still don't know. Officially, though, he is, as a result of being missing for so long -- 11 years and counting. So he's kind of my own second dead idol.

I guess Tupac doesn't really count, since my interest in his music really began with his death in 1996. Going to back to my roots, picking up the pieces after the fact. Despite my voracious appetite for his material, the supply soon outstripped my demand, and I had to stop buying his records once it became clear that substandard work was being released. Shame to do that to his memory.

And then, most recently, Elliott Smith, just a few short years ago, who took his own life with several knife wounds to the chest. Umm, yeah, that sounds feasible. He was more Wife's guy than mine, but we did see him perform live and he was undoubtedly a major talent, desperately underapprecieted in his US homeland.

Invariably these deaths all occurred at a young age, too. Of those cited, Elvis made it to 42 -- hardly a ripe old age; Elliott got to 34. Nobody else even made it to 30. Live fast, die young, leave a good-lookin' corpse.

Where does all that leave us?

Beyond a doubt, I am, on a certain level, a victim of the cult of the dead pop star. A performer's passing makes me want to at least check out their oeuvre and see what all the fuss is about.

But it's also true, as evidenced above, that I am drawn to the music of these lost, suicidal souls way before they go the way of all things.

What does that mean?

Is it inevitable that those artists -- poets, performers, men of the people, who put themsleves out there, stripped bare for all to see -- are ultimately doomed to an early grave? Is too much passion a short cut to the hereafter? And is there any truth in my belief that the first of these tortured storytellers -- indeed, the reason for our obsession with the dead pop star -- was Jesus Christ himself?

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Nice day

Well, it's 8:43 in the morning as I type this, and it's thundering and lightning and pissing with rain. Looks like we're in for a nice day. Have a good one, y'all.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Death of a President

Event television, that's how they describe stuff like Death of a President. And even if "they" don't in this particular case, I would.

I'd heard of this movie for the first time just a few short weeks ago, but I didn't realize it was British-made until yesterday. I also didn't realize that it was going to get a theatrical (cinema) release in the US, while we would get a best-seat-in-the-house TV screening.

As ever in my reviews (such as they are), I don't want to give too much away here. The premise of the movie, though, is a look at the sequence of events following the assassination of George W Bush on 19 October 2007, including the arrest of the prime suspect.

This was a compelling movie. Indeed, it was so well made, generally speaking, that it felt totally real. There are some visual effects used here and there -- placing actors playing Secret Service men into scenes with Bush, for example -- but it's handled with expertise and nothing really jars on that front.

The film holds up well, too, in tone and feel in comparison with similar movies, documentaries, etc that we've all seen on the JFK evidence and conspiracies, meaning that it has good "real" feel to it, even though there are a couple of instances where it was perhaps overacted a tiny bit. Nothing too over the top, but just the odd chink in the armour of naturalism.

What is key, though, is how scary are the prospects of what would happen in such a situation. The erosion of personal liberties in the post-9/11 world fully informs this film, and it takes but the smallest of leaps in imagination to guess what type of shit would be acceptable after the assassination of a president in the third millennium.

Stirring stuff, this. I give it 66 out of 100.

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Asterisk’s Brew – now finished

Asterisk's Brew (complete)

That Candy Minx has done it again. Here's the completed Asterisk's Brew. Click the header to see a detail of the artwork and to leave a comment for Candy!


Monday, October 09, 2006

Twin Peaks, WA

twin peaks signFans of Twin Peaks and David Lynch will surely get a kick out of the Twin Peaks, WA blog.

Click the pic to check it out.

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Bush gets assassinated tonight

I was just reading about Death of a President over at IMDb's Studio Briefing page. The news story says that "several major [American] theater chains [...] will refuse to show the award-winning drama" about the assassination of George W Bush, which is due to open on 27 October.

The film is set in 2010, looking back at the unsolved murder, which takes place in Chicago, IL, in 2007.

Mike Campbell, CEO of Regal Theaters, the largest exhibitor in the US, is quoted as saying: "We feel it is inappropriate to portray the future assassination of a sitting president, regardless of political affiliation."

No matter: we in the UK get the chance to see it for free this evening on TV. I believe it's on More4, though it could be E4. Check your listings.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Dreams of tattooing

Well, one dream of tattooing. Click the header to read it...


Halloween movie: any suggestions?

scary movie

Every Halloween, Wife and I like to get a good horror movie in and find ourselves hiding behind the sofa. Watching horror flicks is not something we do together that often, so if you can't do it on Halloween, when can ya?

Last year we watched Haute Tension (aka High Tension, or Switchblade Romance), which was great. Really bloody (in an extreme Profondo Rosso Argento kind of way) and pretty out there, psychologically speaking. I'd definitely recommend it.

Often we have been known to turn to that old classic The Blair Witch Project. Who knows? On a good night, if we start early enough, we might even throw that into the mix for a double bill...

But what can you guys recommend? A real good scare fest. Come on, bring it on...

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Friday, October 06, 2006

Asterisk’s Brew

Asterisk's Brew (unfinished)

This piece of artwork is called Asterisk's Brew, and it was created by Candy Minx. It is not yet fully finished, but she has given me permission to put a pic of it here.

She named it Asterisk's Brew after I asked whether she ever put upside-down drips on a painting. Although clearly she had done this before, she humoured me and did it on this new one, name-checking me at the same time. How damn cool is that?

Click the heading of this post and you can chart the work's progress from start to not-quite-finish over at Candy's great blog.


eBay fun

That rather lame heading was supposed to be a pun on the phrase "ee bah gum", but I feel it probably fell a bit flat, hence the preamble here.

Anyways, last week I started selling off a bunch of DVDs that Wife and I don't care for anymore. It's quite addictive, though, and so far we've sold ten discs. I have another small handful to put up, but already we're looking to see what else we can sell.

The only problem is that you get a bit screwed from all angles. Everyone takes a skim off the top. You're charged for listing; you're charged a percentage of the sale; you're charged by Paypal for using their service to take credit cards. When all is said and done, I'll be interested to see how much of the total sale price actually comes to the vendor.

But it is kinda fun to see people buying stuff that you no longer want in the house.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Flicks galore

These are the movies I've watched over the past week or so...

I watched this coming-of-age-with-a-cheetah movie several days ago but have fallen behind somewhat ni the posting of my reviews (such as they are). Wife has already posted her own review, and her opinion pretty much echoes mine on this one. Check it out. I give this movie 60 out of 100.

Eye of the Beholder
To be fair, I didn't watch all of this. By the time I switched it on, about 25 minutes had passed. Even so, I think I am in an okay position to judge, despite the fact that I didn't have the faintest idea what the premise was until I looked it up online. I'm not the world's biggest Ewan McGregor fan, although I think he has put in some fine performances in a handful of films. Given the silliness of this movie, I think he did a pretty good job. He starred opposite Ashley Judd (pictured above). I happen to think Judd is an okay actress, but she wasn't required to do much here but smuggle peanuts once in a while. Not that that wasn't appreciated, but it's hardly acting. A rather disappointing 45.

Message in a Bottle
I have a strange, and largely inexplicable, liking of Kevin Costner. Despite the fact that he's hardly been in a single decent movie for more than a decade, I kind of admire him. It may have something to do with how likable he came across on Inside the Actors Studio when it was his turn to chat with James Lipton. Oops, I guess I've just given away how I feel about this picture, haven't I? Booooooring. Slooooooow. Unsatisfying. That said, if you do find yourself watching it through no fault of your own, Paul Newman does put in a great performance. And it's not as bad as the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I give Message in a Bottle a lowly 33 points.

(By the way, if you've seen both the remake and the original of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, feel free to go here and voice your opinions over which is best. It's been getting pretty heated...)

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Like dinosaurs?


When I was a kid I used to love dinosaurs. I suspect many boy-kids do. My 11-year-old nephew does today.

At some point I suppose my interest changed from being active and became something a little more passive, so now, while I rarely go out of my way to read about dinosaurs or watch any of those frankly dodgy Walking With... type shows, I do love stumbling upon a piece of dino news.

So how about this? Norwegian scientists have found what they are describing as a "treasure trove" of fossils from prehistoric sea monsters (you know, the kind of thing that devout Christians would have us believe never existed...)

Of the island where the remains were found, one of the group says: "You can't walk for more than 100 metres [330 ft] without finding a skeleton. That's amazing anywhere in the world." How cool is that?

He added: "Everything we're finding is articulated. It's not single bones here and there, and bits and pieces - these are complete skeletons."

According to the BBC News story, "the researchers even found evidence of an attack on one of the creatures. An ichthyosaur tooth is embedded in a neck vertebra from one plesiosaur belonging to the genus Kimmerosaurus."

I, for one, am looking forward to seeing pictures of this lot.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Dear BBC...

My name's * (asterisk), I'm 36, and I've never really been a fan of period drama. Is that a sin?

Even so, for one reason or another, the new BBC TV adaptation of Jane Eyre quite took my fancy, and I sat down to watch the first episode a couple of Sundays ago, not really expecting much. But, you know what? It was really good.

When Wife woke up at the end, she asked whether I was going to watch the next instalment. Yes, I told her, I am. And I did. But it was what happened after viewing the second instalment that I need to write about here.

As the show finished, Mrs Voice-Over Woman announced that on BBC 3 or something there was a show discussing the romantic novel. The show is called Reader, I Married Him. I know the relevance of this line to some old-fashioned girlie book, and I figured it was probably Jane Eyre, so I flicked over to take a wee peek.

All was going fine and dandy as presenter Daisy chatted about the Brontës and Austens and whoever else whose books I've never read. She asked a bunch of women to describe Darcy and Rochester and other romantic heroes I've heard of only in passing, and I was amazed that all these women actually had a clue about this stuff.

And then -- oh, for fuck's sake, Daisy -- she starts banging on about stuff that's going to happen in the rest of Jane Eyre.

Okay, maybe most people know what happens. Maybe. But I'm a man with hitherto little interest in period dramas; a man who grew up in a house where the music played was rock 'n' roll not classical; a man who didn't go to college or university; a man who doesn't read chick-lit, whether two years old or 200 years old. I mean, how many of my male readers here have read Jane Eyre or know what happens in it?

Well I bloody didn't! I had to sit there with my hands over my ears and closing my eyes. Stupid BBC. Why didn't you show this programme after the whole series of Jane Eyre had finished?

Safari vs Firefox

Safari menusFirefox menus

See the differences in these two screen grabs?

On the left is the way this part of my sidebar appears to me when viewed on my beloved Mac using Mac's Safari browser. Note the lovely rounded drop-down menu buttons and the yellow banner underneath, which is like a ticker tape than runs from right to left with clickable text. All very snazzy, I thought, in my "I'm struggling to get my head around a bit of html every now and again" naivety.

The pic on the right is how the same bit of my sidebar looks when using the current people's darling Firefox, again on my Mac. Gone are the lovely rounded buttons, to be replaced with godawful square things that look like they've come straight off a ZX81. And the ticker tape? Yep, that's gone, too. Instead there is just a thick yellow line.

And there was I thinking we all had the same online experience, and that my splendid buttons looked equally dashing to you guys, too.

So, a teeny survey of my readers: What does it look like when you view it? Like one of these, or different again -- in IE, for example. (When I view my page in IE, all the posts are centred on the page, and the sidebar stuff is all at the bottom of the page, so I don't know what the fuck's going on there?) I look forward to hearing...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Um, what kind of revenge is that?

Turns out, according to the BBC News website, that this prick in PA killed the Amish girls because he was scared he would sexually abuse children, which he previously did 20 years ago.

This was the incident that has haunted him all this time. So it wasn't anything done unto him after all. He was the bad guy then, and he's the bad guy now.

It's great that this guy is no longer a part of this world. It's just a shame he was ever born into it, and that he had to wreak havoc in the lives of so many people, whose only crime was to live a mile away from him.

What can this guy possibly come up with as an excuse that will make us all go, “Ah, well, fair enough then”?

A 32-year-old man armed to the teeth walks into a local one-room Amish school, binds up ten girls aged between six and 13, lines them up against the blackboard, and shoots them at point-blank range. [BBC News story here]

We are told that it was a revenge killing for something that happened to him when he was 12. Something concerning girls, which is why he set free all the boys at the school before his kill rampage began.

At the current count, five girls are dead and five are in a "serious" condition. If first reports are to be believed, the girls were all shot execution-style in the head, so I suspect we will see an end toll of ten for ten.

While we all try to work out exactly what this "loving husband" suffered 20 years ago, our minds might run amok, but in truth, what can this guy possibly come up with as an excuse that will make us all go, “Ah, well, fair enough then”?

Even if he was tied down and butt raped with a baseball bat, that's still no fucking excuse to take it out on (a) girls who weren't involved and (b) a community that wasn't involved. How about going after the people who did you the harm, fuckwit?

Ah, of course, you can't do that now, because like so many of these worthless pieces of shit who go round killing innocent kids you decided to kill yourself too, thereby denying anyone else their own revenge on you. Cunt.


Monday, October 02, 2006

Movie dream team

Making moviesSo, let's say you were making a movie, and let's say money was no object in terms of getting the cast you want for it. Let's also assume that anybody whose work you have seen and admired is available. You've got the pick of the bunch. Whether your thing is low-budget Belgian cinema or overinflated Hollywood stylings, what would be your dream cast?

The only limits I will put on your imagination is that you must choose six actors or actresses. They can be any mix you like, any age, etc, but they must all be alive and you must use them at their current age. So you can't say "a young Robert De Niro", for example.

Here are mine:

Christopher Walken
Johnny Depp
Eamonn Walker
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Giovanna Mezzogiorno
Jennifer Connelly.

(What's great -- and this is totally coincidental -- is that all of these people have previously been mentioned in my writings in blogland. Click the links to refresh your memories if you wish.)

Walken has to play Depp's dad. Giovanna and Jennifer are best friends who met while the latter was travelling in Europe. Not sure what roles to give Walker and Hoffman yet, but they're great at everything, so it really doesn't matter.

Join in the fun... Leave your six in the comments box! I'm looking forward to seeing them.

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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Take AIM ... FIRE!

I like to try to keep up to date, more or less, with what's going on in technology-land, but one thing that has totally passed me by is instant messaging. That is, until yesterday.

Wife and I were visiting some friends, and the female one said that she IMs her sister often, cos sis is pregnant and stuff. And we were like, umm how does it work? So she gave us a demonstartion, with webcam and phone connected and typing and all sorts of shit going on. It was like watching Jean-Michel Jarre in concert or something.

So of course once Wife had fallen asleep, I crept up to my computer and decided to look into this phenomenon a little more closely. And I set up an AIM account.

It's a constant source of wonder to me how little we really do with our computers other than work.

I guess other than surfing the Internet and buying online, we pretty much just use them for sticking songs on the iPod or blogging. But Apple Macs are so fucking versatile that it is a crying shame not to use them for more, really.

This morning, then, Wife and I started AIMing one another via the iChat application. (How ridiculous is that? We're sat about 5ft away from one another.) Then fuck me if I didn't discover we have little built-in microphones too. Who the fuck knew?! So we can literally talk to one another. Well, of course we can anyway, but you know, through the computer! Amazing.

I don't know how all this shit never occurred to me before. I have a good friend in Sydney, Australia, who I rarely speak to because ... well, I guess because we're both cheapskates? Usually we speak no more than twice a year, one of those being New Year. But I guess now we can chat more often, and for free. This is ... Wow. I've entered the third millennium.

But am I right in thinking that AIM people can't message Yahoo! people? Are we back in VHS/Betamax territory again? And if so, which is best? Or are they basically the same? Oh, so many confusing questions to be answered...

The other problem, though, is that I am usually sat at my computer when there is work to do, and I probably don't really need any more distractions than blogging already provides. Oops.

Here's one of our chats just before lunch this afternoon:


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