Wednesday, January 31, 2007

General stuff that might interest you

I'm currently loving this, at my friend Candy's blog.

Meanwhile, Wife tells me that the British government doesn't want a worldwide abolition of the death penalty. Click to find out why. It involves America, of course.

And I've also put a couple of new film reviews up at Such As They Are, so why not check 'em out if you haven't already?

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Retro Oscars. You heard it here first!

On the subject of the Oscars, which is topic of the moment, I totally agree with those who say Scorsese deserves an Oscar, but I have a suggestion, since I think it's unlikely The Departed deserves one.

Marty S should be the recipient of the first-ever retroactive Oscar. I believe the Academy should fess up and start retracting some of the dumb Oscars they gave in the past and start awarding those films that were overlooked.

So, I say Raging Bull deserves a Retro Oscar for Best Picture.

Forrest Gump? No, I've never seen it, and I never want to. Will that prevent me from having an opinion? Hell no! Retract that motherfucking Oscar and give it to Pulp Fiction.

And so on. Good idea? Yes, I think so. What Oscars would you rescind, and in favour of which movies nominated the same year?

Note: If you need help, go here and enter the year you are interested in and click Search to find out what was nominated and what won in each category.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Are you going to bark all day, little doggie, or are you going to bite?

A recent post at Adam's blog Counting Down The Hours got me to thinking. And I left a comment at his post about my thoughts. But I'm briefly going to mention it all here.


Good films, great films, action-packed films, intelligent-dialogue films, slow films, fast-paced films, high-octane chase films, etc, etc.

Compare Reservoir Dogs (pictured) with Pulp Fiction. Did you catch them both at the cinema when they were released? Sure you did, just as I did, and weren't they great? (In fact, if you live outside of Europe there's a very good chance you didn't see Reservoir Dogs at the cinema at the time of its release, since it did really bad box office in the States.) Anyway, like me, I'm sure you've watched each of those films several times since. And they're still the best of Tarantino's work.

But which do you like best? Which, for you, is the more enjoyable film to sit and watch on a Sunday afternoon, say?

I'll tell you now, for me the clear winner by a country mile is Reservoir Dogs. Yes, yes, I know Pulp Fiction is multilayered, multifaceted, multi-angled, multiracial, and multi-whatever-the-fuck-else, but fuck me it goes on, huh? The theatrical release clocks in at a whopping 154 minutes*, that's more than two and a half hours in proper money. And if you opt for the Special Edition, you can expect to remain seated for 168 minutes -- 12 minutes short of three hours. That's a whole lot of bed sores. Now, don't fucking tell me there's nothing in there that could be cut to make for a tighter movie.

Reservoir Dogs, on the other hand, runs to just 99 minutes. That's an hour and a half plus an extra 540 seconds. No time. Reservoir Dogs is so short, in fact, that you can almost always find time to squeeze it into your day, should you be so inclined. Small. But not only that, it's also perfectly fucking formed. It's tight as a motherfucking drum. There is nothing you can cut from that film to make it better in any way. It's that rare beast in cinema that you almost wish ran longer. And you know what else, it's absorbing for all of that time: you want to know who's double-crossed whom, just as Nice Guy Eddie wants to know. You are taken into this world.

Okay, of that last point you could probably say the same about Pulp... first time around. But the more you watch Pulp, the more you wish it was shorter. The more you wish you could fast-forward through some of those scenes that have become hackneyed. Not so with Dogs.

Of course, all of this is personal opinion, so let me know what you think: compact, bijou, and perfectly formed; or big, rambunctious, and a bit flabby around the waist? When it comes to films, tell me, what's your flavour?

* Of course, for the sake of this post, I'm not considering PAL speed-up for those of us watching on home cinemas that use the PAL system.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

“Dangerous” phone-tapper jailed for four months

Here in the UK, over the course of the past two days, we have been hearing tales of paedophiles and kiddie-porn collectors not receiving jail sentences because of a recent decision by Home Secretary John Reid (see here, here, and here).

Reid has told British judges that the prisons are full to bursting, and so only dangerous criminals should be given jail sentences. This has led, as mentioned above, to the aformentioned "perverts" basically being set free.

And yet there seems to be room in prison for the News of the World's royal editor, who has been given a four-month sentence for hacking into the voicemail messages of royal aides. A private investigator found guilty of the same crime for the same newspaper has received a six-month spell at her majesty's pleasure (see here).

So, the question raised is: Are these two men a greater risk to society at large than one man with a history of sexual abuse on children and one man who downloads kiddie-porn pictures?

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The times have changed, and now so have I

Well, eventually I went and done it. Finally, today, this twenty-sixth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand and seven, the Blogger Machines allowed me to switch to New Blogger.

Is it better? Is it worse? Time will tell, but I too have been blighted by the alteration of commenters' names to simply "anonymous" in many places. Will this ever be fixed? Will it not? Time will tell.

Oh Blogger Machines, why don't you get things right before making people shift over? Isn't that what Beta testing is all about? The swines.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Open letter to Tony Blair

You know that bit about separation of Church and State? Suck it up, you washed-up, Bush-bitch, pussy-footing, barefaced-lying, election-promise-breaking, compromise-seeking cunt.

You can't renege on gay rights to adopt just because the Church doesn't want to give babies to what they clearly see as inferior, subversive members of the population. The Church is wrong and is acting in a divisive manner, not in the unifying way that we should be seeking in Britain and the rest of the world at large. Do you not get it, you stupid, hypocritical prick?

When the fuck will you just fuck off and leave us all in peace?

Kind regards,

* (asterisk)
with a tip of the hat to Lee for the letter thing.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Oscar nominations: my twopenn’orth

Yesterday afternoon, Salma Hayek came into my living room to tell me the Oscar nominations for this year. It was nice to see her, but Salma dear, what was with that godawful dress? You looked pregnant and ready to drop. (Don't even ask what's going on in this picture either, cos I sure as hell don't know!)

I'm not going to rehash the list in full, because that would be silly when you only need head over to to find everything you need. But I will say something about it all. Well, you knew I would.

Best Actor:
Fuck off, DiCaprio, you freaky cunting man-child. Sure, you once showed promise. Now all you think you need to do is put in a fuck-awful accent and Bob's your fucking uncle. Like I say: fuck off.

Fuck off, Peter O'Toole, you old no-good-acting motherfucker. That shit you pulled in Troy? You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

Fuck off, Will Smith. Even though your Happyness movie was directed by a cool Italian director with some real promise, you bore the bollocks off me.

So I guess that leaves Forest Whitaker and Ryan Gosling. I hope Forest gets it. I've liked him ever since Smoke. Gosling boy: You were good in The Notebook, but I'm not sure it's your time yet, old son.

Best Actress:
Oh, has anyone mentioned that the Brits are coming? Fuck off.

Helen Mirren as QE2. Do I give a fuck? Well, other than the film's director being (apparently) the uncle of an author I worked with a few times, no, I don't much care. I guess that makes me three degrees away from Daniel Day Lewis, for those who like that sort of thing.

Winslet: Stop boring me, boring me, boring me.

Streep: Like, whatever.

Dench, I used to hate you. Sorry, but I really used to despise you when I was an angry young man. Now I figure you're okay.

But I really want Penélope Cruz to win, if only to see how fucking excited Salma Hayek gets then. She could barely contain her joy simply at La Cruz's nomination.

Best Supporting Actor:
This is a tough category, and as usual, it's the most interesting one. Thank the maker that that hammy old cunt Jack Nicholson ain't there; in his stead we get Marky Mark. Fuck off.

I'm hoping for Alan Arkin or that Hounsou chap from Blood Diamond.

Best Supporting Actress:
Sorry ladies, I have no opinion here, although it would cool to see Jennifer Hudson get it for Dreamgirls. I liked her in American Idol a couple of years back, and the fact that she's being recognized and that dull cunt Beyoncé isn't is music to my ears.

Best Director:
No David Lynch this year, unfortunately. Still, there's that Iñárritu bloke who directed Amores perros back in the day and 21 Grams. I hope he gets it. But against industry stalwarts Eastwood and Scorsese it might be a tough job. I'd also like to see Paul Greengrass get it for United 93. Well, you know, the Brits are coming. Stephen Frears probably has no chance.

Best Picture:
Having not seen any of these but hoping to see them all in the next month, I currently would like Little Miss Sunshine to get the gong, though I'm sure Letters From Iwo Jima must be great.

Word on this side of the Atlantic is that US fave Babel is a load of old bollocks masquerading as worthy cinema.

And you know I don't like remakes and think that Marty has lost the plot, so I shan't be rooting for The Departed either.

So, that's what I think. Thank you, and good night.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007


parrots of the caribbean
Parrots just fly around freely in certain parts of Seville. How fucking mad is that?! And how cool?

Columbus column
They were flying around near this column, a memorial to Christopher Columbus. I guess it sort of seems appropriate.

I think Red missed the point when I said a wanted a little head one evening...

the Mezquita
The Mezquita, formerly a mosque but with a Catholic church built inside it, is a truly breathtaking building in the town of Córdoba. The interior is filled with these amazing columns and striped arches. There are some 850 of them.

hotel room
This is me pointing up at our hotel room in Granada, where we stayed for one night to visit the Alhambra. Lovely hotel; big keyring (see Red's post, if you haven't already).

We went to see some damn cool flamenco, too.

the AsteRed beast
Us two, on our last day in Seville, still smiling, despite knowing we had work to come home to.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Spain and Oscars and stuff

Last night, Wife asked me, "Are you done blogging about Spain?" The simple answer was no, there are still a few things I will post, including both pictures and words, but I had wanted to get my Chuck post done, and I'd wanted to do a movie review off my growing list of movies to review. So there will be more Spain stuff. I have some nice photos to share, and I need to do it before Wife nabs some of my choices!

But in the meantime, I also have to pay tribute to the Oscars and the Razzies. The Razzies are, of course, the anti-Oscars, honouring those films that are the worst of the year's crop, and they were announced today. The Oscars will be announced at 1:30pm GMT tomorrow -- that's 8:30am New York time.

Apparently, the hot ticket (if you can call it that) at the Razzies is Basic Instinct 2. I mean, did anyone even watch that? The trailer looked so fucking awful, I wouldn't have touched it with a bargepole. Seven Razzie nods is the legacy thus far for this picture, so let's see how it does at the ceremony, to be held on 24 February. The Wayans Brothers' comedy Little Man has equalled this number of nominations.

Other films in the Worst Picture category, accompanying the two above, are M Night Shyamalan's Lady In The Water, dodgy and wholly fucking unnecessary US remake The Wicker Man, and BloodRayne, which stars that bird out of Terminator 3.

So, what's going to be nominated for the Oscars tomorrow? To my great shame, I'm a bit out of touch with new releases, it must be said. Still I'd expect to see nominations for both of Clint's big war movies, a few tips of the hat for Dreamgirls, and Apocalypto is sure to figure somewhere. I'd like to see David Lynch appear somewhere for Inland Empire, and that Borat movie making an appearance would be fun. Despite so many people raving about Scorsese's HK remake The Departed, I'd love to see it totally snubbed. Scorsese is all washed up, and he needs to stop working with that freaky man-child DiCaprio.

So, what are your thoughts -- if you give a fuck, that is?

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Late Christmassy film review

I've put a new review up at Such As They Are: A Christmas Story. Feel free to check it out.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

That package from Chuck

Just as we were putting Cat in the car to go to the cattery on the morning of 8 January, I espied our postman walking down the terrace. (Cat will have plenty to post about about his spa retreat, too, so keep your eyes peeled for that.)

"Hi there," I said, in my usual cheery way. "Anything I can take off your hands?" He replied in the affirmative, dug deep into his sack (tee hee, I said "sack"!), and pulled out a white box measuring 21 x 14.5 x 8 cm (8.25 x 5.75 x 3 inches).

It was addressed with a large address label to me, and it had a blue Airmail sticker on it. A quick glance at the sender's address revealed it to be from someone named simply "Palahniuk" c/o his agent's New York address.

I was so excited, but I knew I had to contain myself until after the trip to the cattery. Wife was amazed at how cool I was about it, but I had to stay focused on the job at hand! The opening of the box would have to be done methodically, taking the time to appreciate its contents to the full. According to the customs label on the side, the box contained CDs and toys, to a total value of $10 (£5). The label was also signed by Chuck himself on 30 December. Wow, he was even working on this letter-answering task right through the Christmas holidays.

What follows here is some pictures of the contents of the box. Note that the pics were not taken at the time of the initial opening (I didn't have my brain in gear enough to document that), so the craziness of all the purple glitter that flew everywhere with each slight movement is a little lost. In fact, the glitter got so everywhere, that we even found some on the carpet of our hotel room in Seville. I guess it got stuck to something
-- clothes, shoes, whatever -- and travelled there with us. Or it may have been stuck to the small box of the chocolates we took with us from the box, and that Chuck had said I should give to Wife, "as part of her birthday gifts".

customs label
The signed customs label...

The top of the letter...

Power Cow
My power cow!...

A peek at the package...

And another peek...

And another...

CD inserts
And here are the CDs. I've removed my name, natch.

letter sign-off
Look: he even asked after my holiday. What a guy!

The full list of contents reads like this, and might I point out that I think that's more than $10 worth of stuff, Chuck!

first and foremost, the letter itself
my Power Animal: a cow (although it has horns, so I guess it's a bull)
2 exclusive CDs of Chuck reading short stories, one dedicated, the other signed
self-adhesive "My name is" name badge, à la Fight Club, signed
black-and-white photo of Chuck with chicken, signed
Silly Putty (I used to love this stuff as a kid)
a rubber severed, bloody finger
flick-knife comb (I used to have one as a kid, and I loved it)
box of four chocolates, which Chuck suggested I give to Wife
pen knife (surely that's not legal to send through the mail?!)
glowstick necklace
2 bouncy balls
10 plastic Roman coins
tip of a spear
24 normal birthday candles
8 "relighting" birthday candles
deck of magic cards
12-page pirate colouring book
4 mini crayons
tin of sugar-free mints
rubber spider
mini harmonica
carrot seeds
money-plant seeds
herb seeds
forget-me-not seeds
temporary tattoos
postcard for the book Clown Girl, which has an introduction by Chuck

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

“And the proverb told that the masked man would return, and return he did”

Back from Seville, and what a blast! It is one of those cities, like Venice, that you really know you're going to miss when it comes time to leave.

Just walking around the streets, which are awash with orange trees, is a joy to behold. Oranges are literally falling into the gutters and left to waste -- or to get picked up by tourists. One lunchtime, we even saw an orange fall from a tree and hit an American tourist on the head. It was bizarre! Look at the orange trees in the pic above and see the wonderful blue sky we had. Amazing!

I will definitely be putting some of my favourite pictures up here later in the week, but there are a lot to wade through (we took more than 1,300 photos in eight days; that's like more than 160 a day, on average!). Some are silly, poor quality, and blurry; others are really quite nice, if I do say so myself.

And of course, we ventured to places other than Seville, checking out the Alhambra in Granada, and visiting Córdoba, too.

Another reason for my hesitation in posting immediately is because it was Wife's birthday holiday, so I want to give her first dibs on the stories to tell and pix to share.

AND... I have my own special post to do too: my package arrived from Chuck Palahniuk in response to my fanmail. I will post about that tomorrow.


Sunday, January 07, 2007

The line-ups of popular beat combos with which Wife likes to test me

From time to time a musical act comes along that takes Wife’s fancy for one reason or another. Sometimes they are excellent and sometimes perhaps a little less so.

Of these acts, the ones of particular relevance to this posting are those with at least five band members. These are the ones with which I am to be tested.

The most recent of these acts is the really rather good Avenged Sevenfold (above). I say they're rather good, but my exposure has thus far been limited to just the latest album, which I bought for Wife for Christmas, having seen her drooling over guitarist Synyster Gates (or "Synnie-Poos", as I believe she calls him) for some time.

The game goes something like this:

Red: Name the members of Avenged Sevenfold then?
Me: Uh okay. That Shadows chap who sings. Mmmm, what's his name? Oh yeah, "M". M Shadows. Um, Synyster Gates, obviously... Jesus, something Jesus. Jesus Smythe?
Red: No! Johnny Christ.
Me: Of course! Who else... Jimmy something? Ooh ooh, I know. The Rev.
Red: Yeah, that's the short version, but what's his full name?
Me: Um, the Reverend Thelonius Monk?
Red: No, silly, it's the Reverend Tholomew Plague. I can't believe you keep forgetting that!
Me: Yeah, me neither. So, who am I missing?
Red: It's Ichabod's dad. [Ichabod, dear reader, is a dog, who has his own MySpace page.]
Me: Yes! Ichabod Vengeance, and his dad's name is...
Red: Like your nephew...
Me: Zachy! Zachy Vengeance. Phew!
Red: Well done.

See how much fun that is?

We used to play the same game with the Backstreet Boys (Nick, Kevin, Howie, AJ, and I've forgotten the other), and before them S Club Seven (Jo, Hannah, Tina [?]. How come I remember only the girls? Oh yeah, Paul Catermole, how could I forget him? I can't remember the rest, though).

See, there really is never a dull moment at Casa AsteRed. I'm headed straight to the cellar now to burn all our board games. I mean, who needs 'em?!

As an aside, this'll be my last post for a few days. Back on the 17th. "Be good," as an old colleague used to say. "And if you can't be good, be good at it."

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Big Brother bollocks

Ah, just so few hours after my announcing that Donnie Tourette will offer the best value for money in the Big Brother house, the motherfucker has upped and escaped, saying there is no way he will act as a servant to Jade Goody.

Most UK readers will know only too well how wise his words are. Indeed, who among us could stand to wait on that fucking pig-thick cunt of a celebrity? And I use the word celebrity in the loosest possible sense, since her celeb status can all be traced back to... um... Big Brother.

Yes, it's come to this: Big Brother is now creating its own celebrities in order to put them in the Celebrity Big Brother show. I'm yet to figure out whether this is better or worse than last year's gimmick of pretending a non-celebrity was a celebrity for the sake of the show. Oh, the humanity.

Still, even Jade has more reason to be there than her boyfriend (who's, like, nobody) and her freakish mother, whose claim to the coveted celebrity tag is that she's had an extreme makeover to make her the treat on the eyes that she is today.

So what has the picture of Monica Bellucci got to do with all this? Well, maybe Donnie would have felt differently if he'd had to become Bellucci's servant, even if she seems not to be satisfied with flowers.

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Friday, January 05, 2007

BB and blog targets

I'm sure anyone living in the UK already knows that Adam Ant did not enter the Big Brother house, and I'm glad about that, cos he's still a bit too loopy to be putting himself in line for public ridicule, even if ridicule is nothing to be scared of.

We did get Donnie Tourette, though -- frontman of terrible "punk" band Towers of London. I like good punk music, but I find Towers of London to be a bit ridiculous, and their reality show, which you can find occasionally on some channel or other in the dead of night, is simply insane. But Donnie looks like he's going to be good value for money, so I'm looking forward to his progress.

I had set myself a goal for the early part of this year. I was hoping to get my post count up to 730 before 11 March. Since I'm only at about 520 or so right now, that looks incredibly unlikely, especially since all my new movie reviews are now going up at Such As They Are.

Why 730? Why 11 March? Because that will give me a total average of two posts a day for my first year of blogging. I don't think there's any chance that I'll make it. I've got about 60-something days to do 200 posts, so I'd need to be hitting three to four a day every day from this point on. No way, José.

Well, I've got some work to do. Maybe I'll be back later...


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

New Year’s resolution: I really must moan a little less. (Yeah, right.)

It's a new year, and we all have to get used to writing the correct dates on our cheques and bills and stuff.

So far, so good. I've written "2007" about three or four times, and no mistakes yet. See, that takes a special kind of genius, I'm sure you'll agree.

Feeling a bit uninspired in terms of blog posts right now, though. Don't know why. It may be because I'm way behind with my movie reviews (such as they are), and I feel I can't move on with my life until I get up to date with that. I have seven to do.

In other news, leaked mobile-phone video footage of Saddam's execution is causing quite a stir, but only because it has embarrassed the Iraqi government by showing the world what a fucking sham it is, unable even to kill a man properly, without the place being full of Shi'ites heckling the Sunni Saddam. Small wonder, then, that the official video that was released had no audio track.

And dangerous dog kills five-year-old girl somewhere in the Merseyside area of England. Sure, that's right, blame the dog. Owners who are cunts is the bigger problem, of course. How about we start sterilizing some of these motherfuckers with no brain?

What else? Oh yeah, the last episode of season 1 of Torchwood aired here last night.

For those who don't know, Torchwood is the first spin-off series of Doctor Who, starring John Barrowman (with whom Red has danced) as the charismatic Captain Jack Harkness. I'm loathe to include any spoilers here in case any readers have yet to see it, but there's a great ending that should lead us nicely into series 3 of Doctor Who. All good stuff. On the whole, I've quite enjoyed Torchwood, and I hope they commission another series.

The missus and I are heading off for a few days' holiday soon. It's fast approaching, so there's shitloads to do around here in the meantime, which means less time for blogging and fun. But it's a fair sacrifice, don't you think?

Last three things:

1. I've got to head into the West End tomorrow, which I so don't fucking need or have time for.

2. Is Adam Ant going to be in Celebrity Big Brother? He was on the shortlist for a while, so I'll have to watch tonight just to be on the safe side.

3. Lovefilm is really fucking me off right now, not sending stuff out promptly enough. They are cunts, and they do this with increasing regularity. We always keep at least their recommended minimum number of titles on the list, but I'll be buggered if I'm going to boost our choice list with dross, just so they've got something to send us. Wankers.

Nothing much else to add right now, except keep an eye on Such As They Are. The latest review was Spike Lee's When the Levees Broke.

Oh yeah, that thing about not moaning: never gonna happen. You do know that, don't you?


Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

I'm going to be away from my computer all day today, so won't be able to visit you all individually.

Instead, I wish you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR from here. I hope you all have a fantastic 2007!

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