Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Ballad of the Sad Café

With my days of indentured servitude here at the Big Bad Bullshit Business rapidly coming to a close, and with it my opportunities to go hog-wild in my favourite corner of the globe on a daily basis, I thought it was time to grab one last blow-out meal at the New Piccadilly on Denman Street.

The New Piccadilly will soon be going the way of deeley-boppers, videocassettes and Vanilla Ice. Apart from the fact that, y’know, the New Piccadilly is actually good and will be missed. The owner is hanging up his spatula, retiring and selling up.

It’s not just the quality of the food, the reasonably priced menu, the slightly-camp uniforms the waiters wear, the comfort in knowing that you can ALWAYS get a table, or the fact that both formica and cholesterol are in plentiful supply. All fine reasons for going there, but that’s not it. It’s the sad realisation that another part of My London is being shunted out of the real world and into the sepia-coloured contours of my memory.

My grandparents used to have a place like that. When they first came over from Cyprus, they had a greasy spoon on the Parkway in Camden. The floor was sheer geometric perfection, with black and white tiles from the front door to the kitchen. Then they had a place in Willesden in the late seventies / early eighties that I vividly remember. The ketchup dispensers shaped like big, red plastic tomatoes. My grandfather behind the counter cooking up the food, his beaming smile always visible through the fugue of greasy smoke, and my grandmother bussing tables with nothing but a stubby pencil, crumpled notepad and her ever-present hairnet keeping the thick, black strands of Mediterranean hair out of her face. I don’t think I ever saw her without that hairnet on.

I wish I valued the place whilst it was still there. To me it was just the place where my grandparents used to make me food. I remember that my brother and I always used to complain that we didn’t want to eat there. We wanted MacDonald’s…

That place was worth a million Big Macs.

For the record, I had a Mixed Grill (bacon, sausage, egg, chips, peas and steak), bread and butter, two large Cokes and a slice of apple pie with cream. I had a mad sugar jag and a bloated gut for the rest of the afternoon, but it was worth it.  

Friday, July 23, 2004

Countdown Conundrum

Another one of those useless questionnaire things I found whilst aimlessly surfing. No doubt it will satisfy your AKA trivia lust. Kept me pleasantly distracted for a while anyway.

10 Things About You – Physically

1. I am 6 foot 3
2. I have a luxuriously thick head of jet-black hair. Think Travolta circa Saturday Night Fever. Oh yes.
3. Calf muscles as hard as cinder blocks.
4. People seem to think I look a lot younger than I actually am.
5. I only shave about once a weak, hence a dirty-looking perpetual five o’clock shadow. Well, I like it anyway.
6. I could stand to lose a few pounds. And my bitch tits. Think Travolta circa Pulp Fiction.
7. I got sideburns you would kill for. I ain’t bullshitting ya neither.
8. Naturally tan skin
9. Unnaturally tan teeth
10. Size 13 feet. If any one knows somewhere that actually sells shoes in my size…

9 songs

1. Isaac Hayes “Theme from Shaft" (and we can dig it)
2. The Temptations “Psychedelic Shack”
3. Outkast “So Fresh, So Clean"
4. The Time “Jungle Love”
5. Cameo “Word Up”
6. D.O.C. “The Grand Finale "
7. Stevie Wonder “Superstition”
8. Camp-Lo “Luchini”
9. Prince "Head "

8 Favourite Foods / Drinks

1. Jack Daniel’s – neat or on the rocks. Or straight out the bottle and down my throat
2. Beer (ice-cold only)
3. Thai Green Chicken Curry and rice
4. Pepperoni Pizza with jalapenos
5. A big-ass cheesburger with all the trimmings, and fries. And I mean a REAL burger, not that golden arches crap
6. Chorizo and asparagus penne pasta, with a spicy sauce made with my own two hands
7. Fresh, strong, black coffee
8. Anything created by the culinary alchemy of Mrs. AKA’s School of Magic

7 Things You Wear Daily

1. Black shirt
2. Black jeans / trousers
3. Black jacket (denim or leather – depending on the weather)
4. Black shoes
5. Black socks
6. My wedding ring
7. A permanent “Don’t even think of talking to me” expression on my face

6 Things That Annoy You

1. People who ignore the “Don’t even think of talking to me” expression on my face
2. Bad writers and bad writing
3. The tards who try and accost me in the street with “cheeky” banter to get my credit card details for various charities. If they keep getting up in my face, I might have to make them a beneficiary of one of those charities, knowwhumsaying?
4. People on the Tube on a roasting hot day who smell like they’ve smeared themselves with sour cheese and their own shit. Kill. Them. Now. Or give away deodorant with every season ticket purchased.
5. People who chat shit behind your back but don’t have the balls to say it to your face. All I got is my word and my balls, and I don’t break them for nobody.
6. Gus Van Sant’s Elephant. Piece. Of. Shit. Made me want to go and get all Columbine on his ass.

5 Things You Touch Everyday

1. Myself
2. My hair
3. My laptop
4. Whatever book I currently have on the go
5. Your soul

4 Shows You Watch

1. Quantum Leap
2. The West Wing
3. Monk
4. The Powerpuff Girls

3 "Celebrities" You Have a Crush On

1. Salma Hayek
2. Lucy Liu
3. Johnny Depp

Two People online you have kissed

I reckon this could fall into the “none of your fucking business” category. If you don’t ask, I won’t tell you to go fuck yourself. Deal?

One person you like

It had to finish on a tough one, didn’t it…

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Cheers

Coach: What's new, Norm?
Norm: I need something to hold me over until my second beer.
Coach: How about a first beer?
Norm: That'll work.
 
Lunchtime drinking always seems like a better idea before than it does after. Empty stomach, a five-minute walk over to The Glasshouse Stores on Brewer Street, and the cheapest booze in London. I can conclusively say that my productivity will be severely diminished this afternoon. Fuck it. What are they gonna do? Fire Me? (I love that – it never gets old.)
 
Trying to hide the evidence by shielding my dilated pupils and moving cautiously yet purposefully. Chugging Smints like a pill addict to hide the beery odour. Finally getting around to eating some lunch (something I really should have done beforehand).
 
Need to blast the fog from my mind by the end of the day. I’m going out for a session this evening as well. (Readers of the sublime Don’t Explain Don’t Complain will know this already). And if I remember my history, the potential for messiness is high.
 
Woody: Pour you a beer, Mr. Peterson?
Norm: All right, but stop me at one. Make that one-thirty.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Neo Maxi Zoom Dweebie

So, time for the news that I was teasing yesterday.
 
You know that bit in The Breakfast Club when Paul Gleason turns to Judd Nelson in a clash of iconic Eighties cinema titans, and blasts him with the immortal line: “Don't mess with the bull, young man. You'll get the horns”? Well, without getting sidetracked into one of my pet digressions that this is an almost mythical Western standoff in the centre of the most immaculately crafted teen movie of its era, here is the news. I got a new job. My employers were gored on my sharpened horns, as I slapped down my letter of resignation. Damn, did it feel good!
 
OK. There’s an element of hyperbole there. All of the three people who received my devastating missive took it graciously and politely, and congratulated me on my new job. I was a bit disappointed about that. I wanted some conflict. Some drama. “Pick up the gun!” Some of that shit. They even want to take me out for lunch!
 
The only bum note was hit when my line manager Manuel (not his real name, but it amuses me to call him this) made it sound like HE was doing ME a favour by allowing me to work over and above my one week’s notice. Huh? I’M doing YOU a favour, fuckwad. Don’t want to leave you with your dick in your hands when I rev up my Harley and blow this pop stand. Ya damn ungrateful fool, you lucky I don’t he-bitch man-slap you. 
 
Whoa, the oxygen must be getting thin around here. Time for a lie down.
 
And today’s delve into the AKA record crate yields De La Soul’s 2001 joint AOI: Bionix. Drips funk like a sumo wrestler’s sweat into his mawashi
 

Monday, July 19, 2004

Go get ‘em, tiger

What else? Saw Spider-Man 2 over the weekend. After my disappointment with the first film in the franchise, the sequel excelled. The CGI has improved, but it still isn’t quite there yet. I still don’t believe that a man is swinging through the valleys and canyons of New York. But, mad props to Sam Raimi - he has a firm grasp of just how important New York City is to the Spider-Man mythology, making it an integral part of the story. Not only that, he is making the most of the best rogue’s gallery and supporting cast in comics. Doctor Octopus, J. Jonah Jameson, Aunt May – it’s all so good. And very funny, too.
 
And make sure you come back tomorrow for some big, exciting news. (Well, exciting for me, anyway. It might mean absolutely nothing to you.)

Who goes? YOU decide!

What is WRONG with you people? After five years, I would have thought the viewing public would have started to understand the premise of Big Brother. Look – it’s very, very simple. You keep the antagonistic, quirky, honest, confrontational characters IN the house. You get the dull, bland, media-wannabe, shiny, happy people OUT of the house. Haven’t you realised that there is a REASON why you all complain that the last few weeks of the show are boring every year? Because you kept all the boring people in there! With Ahmed gone, Victor is the last vestige of drama left in the show. The rest of them are almost universally “don’t-rock-the-boat and we’ll get on the cover of Heat magazine” whores for attention. I guess the viewing public gets the entertainment they deserve…I HATE those remaining housemates (and you are their bodyguards).

Friday, July 16, 2004

It’s a thin line…

You know how those magazines make those arbitrary lists? Like “Cool-o-meter” things? What’s hot and what’s not? Just to fill pages between the ads?

Well, I have no such need to fill this blog with such things. But today I have already pondered things that both fill me with venom and bile, and things that bring a smile to my hard-to-impress face. And I’m all about the sharing. So…

Things I Hate

Vernon Kay – Will someone please shoot this prick? Get him off our screens! He’s a talentless idiot! It’s easy enough for me to avoid terrible crap like T4, but not so easy when he pops up in every other commercial break selling fucking Doritos. KILL HIM NOW! And earn my eternal gratitude.

Too many jalapenos on my pizza – Now, I love spicy food and I love jalapenos. I don’t, however, like shooting hot molten brown magma out of my ass first thing in the morning. I’m still suffering now. I’d like to apologise in advance to the ghost of Johnny Cash. “Burn, burn, burn, like a ring of fire...”

Things I Love

Broadsheet newspapers with a tabloid shape – Inspired! The Independent looks absolutely gorgeous these days, with a nice, uncluttered stylishness that actually makes me want to read it. Now, will The Guardian please, please, please do the same? It will satiate all my current affairs desires.

Ahmed – Yes, I know, Big Brother is rubbish television, and I shouldn’t be watching it. I’m weak! Can’t I have my weaknesses? Can’t I? Ahmed is a comedy genius, and the best thing about this programme ever. “I am not a sandwich!” You ain’t wrong there, dude. AHMED TO WIN!

Ah, shit. That’s enough for now. Feeling delirious in the knowledge that the weekend is mere hours away. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go to the toilet. “Burn, burn, burn..."

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

When Martin sings

I like my ears. Not in a superficial “My, what lovely ears I have! Look at how that cartilage has been moulded by my superlative genetic makeup!” way. I like them solely for their utilitarian attributes. I like the way they allow me to hear all manner of exciting, stimulating, life-enhancing sounds. The laughter of friends, the wisdom of strangers, the reassuring rise and fall of Mrs. AKA’s breath as she sleeps by my side, and, of course, decades of the finest sounds and melodies crafted by generations of earthbound songsmiths and intergalactic funkateers.

Sadly, when I’m not being subjected to the inane prattlings of the wage slaves in my immediate orbit, I am forced to suffer through the creatively bankrupt, musically-challenged record collections being piped through their tinny desktop speakers. I don’t foist my music on them, and I’d appreciate it if they returned the favour. Selfish jizzstains.

Now, I know that accepted wisdom seems to regard the vanilla sounds of Beyoncé Knowles as some new saviour of pop music, but you’ll all be glad to know that I’m here to tell you that is patent bullshit. It’s mediocre toe-tapping pap at best, a soulless and cynical bastardisation of the great Motown and Stax-era vocalists at worst. There’s no soul here, consumers. She sells Pepsi to the obese and tooth-rotted spawn of America, fercryinoutloud!

So, that’s what I’ve been suffering through for the last half hour. Praise de lawd for earphones. Luckily for me, I’ve started to revisit my own record collection, digging through the shelves for neglected gems. Today, I’m getting off on ABC’s Alphabet City, their fourth album from 1987 and, in my opinion, far superior to their breakthrough set Lexicon of Love. Lush, over-produced, slick 80’s white-boy soul. More importantly, it has balls and it has heart and, yes, it has SOUL. Now THIS is how you pay tribute to your musical past and worship at the shrine of Motor City. Will you be listening to that Naughty Girl shit in seventeen years? Or will Destiny take care of her capricious child? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Brother, Can You Spare a Job?

It’s finally Official. This is the worst job I’ve ever, ever had. I’ve had jobs where I was treated worse in a more direct and vicious manner. I’ve had jobs where I’ve had to work longer and more unreasonable hours. Both these factors were offset by the fact that I got paid more, and there was the possibility of promotion, pay rises or training. My current job qualifies as the most sucky job in existence ‘cos all the insults to my intelligence and dignity occur in an underhand and cowardly way by weak-chinned fools who only look out for their own job security, and fuck everyone else. The most selfish work environment ever. Fact.

In an attempt to get the fuck away from this place, I had a job interview on Friday. Due to the late notice for the interview, I chucked a sickie. This was waiting for me in my Inbox upon my return to work this morning:

Hi AKA
This email serves to confirm that your sick day taken today (09/07/04) will not be paid for by Patronising Overlords plc and will be deducted from your July salary as one day unpaid leave.
In terms of Clause 16.1 of your contract, you have exceeded "...an aggregate of 10 working days in any rolling period of 12 months ..." entitlement to paid sick leave.
Please be aware that any further sick days could quite likely result in a similar course of action being taken until such time as your aggregate of sick days drops to below 10 within any rolling period of 12 months.
If you have any queries regarding this or wish to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Regards
Weak-Chinned Fool


Boy, do I hate it here. I hope I get this job.

One final parting shot: If anyone reading this works for this company, or a company affiliated with it in any way (and I know some of you do), please do not cross-post this or overtly refer to it on another blog. Didn’t we all go through enough shit last week because of stuff like that?

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Fresh for '04, Suckas!

"It's been a long time,
I shouldn't have left you,
Without a strong rhyme to step to,
Think of how many weak shows ya slept through,
Time's Up, Sorry I kept you."


Hi. I'm AKA, you may remember me from the devastating lyrics that I used to spew forth here on a little old blog called Stray Bullets. Nothing was safe from my unerring aim. Not even me. In a fit of tempremental artistic pique, Stray Bullets coughed it's last breath, it's guts shredded, a blood bubble coagulating on its nostril, and it's words drifting away in the wind. The past was mere prologue to the future, and the future is now.

I'm back, motherfuckers, so lock up your daughters, break out the kevlar, and grab yourself a beer and a shot.

Stray Bullets is Dead. Long live Sucker Punch!

"The Love Boat,
Exciting and New,
Come Aboard,
We're waiting for you...."

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

R.I.P.

This was only supposed to be a bit of fun. An outlet. A distraction. Cathartic. Creative callisthenics. You know, fun.

It stopped being fun today.

Stray Bullets was originally only intended for me. If anything you have read here has ever made you laugh, or smile, or forget your troubles, then I am very grateful.

Time for me to get on my horse and ride off into the sunset. Thanks for reading. May the wind be at your backs and the Cameosis in your hearts.

ROLL CREDITS

FADE TO BLACK

To Have and to Hold

So, I’m sitting here trying to wade through a mess of deadly dull work and my phone rings. Now, all my worthwhile calls come through to my mobile. If my landline rings, it is invariably a salesperson trying to hawk me his shoddy wares. This guy was trying to sell me printer toner. Most salespeople take the fucking hint at my monosyllabic answers and curt manner, and go away very quickly. This guy was a pushy prick who would not leave me alone, despite the fact that I’d made it abundantly clear that I was very, very busy. So I’ve just put him on hold. Obviously, I have absolutely no intention of returning to the call. Let’s see who blinks first.

Ha! Thought so. Not even 4 minutes and he gave up. Pussy!

One last thing: Mind the oranges, Marlon.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Welcome to Jericho

When I started Stray Bullets, roughly 100% of my readers consisted of people I know who, under duress, I will call “friends”. That has started to change.

Due to the magic of Google, and the cyber snooping mastery of Extreme Tracking, people whom I have never met pull up to the bar here at Stray Bullets and drink deep of my nonsense until the head rush sends them out into the night air to be run down by a pack of wild horses. I am consistently amused and cheered by the circuitous journeys that lead them to my door. Here are some of the search terms that people have Googled since Stray Bullets was born:

Fantasy+nuns – You dirty filthmonger
"movie premiere" +"press passes" - Can’t help people with that, m’afraid. All press passes remain the property of AKA
Darth Vader of the Slide Fader – And if you get hooked, baby, it’s nobody else’s fault, so don’t do it!
Leslie Grantham Finger Suck - This search was used TWICE! What is WRONG with you people?
blumpkin+nugget+porn – Wow. Whoever wanted this must have been disappointed.

And, my personal favourite headfuck search, which I am at a loss to explain:

"i hate pigeons" star wars

One last thing. Whilst composing this screed, I’ve had Sympathy for the Devil pumped directly into my ears in an almost futile attempt to drown out someone playing sumshit which I fear is some kind of compilation by Louise (aka The White One who used to be in Eternal). It is a mighty soundclash, but there is no way that Keith’s devastating axe wielding is going to be drowned out by that wailing bint. He can cleave that evil bitch in half with his mighty weapon.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Cooling my heels

After two days of tube strikes and press screenings, I was quite looking forward to getting home early last night. Having a proper meal with Mrs. AKA. A long, lazy soak in a blistering hot bath. Catching up on an ever-increasing pile of neglected paper work.

Yeah, right.

I got to Marylebone Station just fine. Then the tannoy crackled into action, informing London’s disgruntled and exhausted commuters that rail services were suspended due to a “fatality” at Wembley Stadium. No, I don’t know what that means exactly, either. Maybe someone fried themselves on the third rail, maybe William Petersen wannabes were doing forensics on a 187, maybe someone’s innards were coagulating onto the front grille of the last fast train speeding towards London.

Whatever it was, it messed with my plans. Options? Hang around the station indefinitely until services resumed. Kill time in a pub or a Burger King. Wander the Streets of Baker. Try and circumnavigate London’s archaic transport system by taking alternative routes to my destination. Fuck all that.

I did what all self-respecting strandees should do in similar circumstances (try saying that six times really fast). I went to the motherfucking movies! Chamone!

So, the 6.30pm showing of The Cooler at the Screen on Baker Street. It was quite a refreshing experience, seeing as this was the first movie I’d paid to see for quite a while, with all the ancillary pleasures of popcorn and trailers thrown in.

Loved it. Like a modern-day western, with Las Vegas as the town that chews up and vomits out the lives and fortunes of hapless holiday-makers who have forgotten that The House Always Wins, the protagonists are dinosaurs, trying to live in a world that no longer exists, which has repudiated their outmoded ethics, dreams and hopes, despite their doomed attempts to hold on to The Old Ways.

Like an expanded version of his scene-stealing career high in Glengarry Glen Ross, Alec Baldwin proves once again that out of all the Baldwin boys, he is The One That Can Act. William H. Macy plays another pitch-perfect variation on the lovable loser persona that he has refined and redefined over the last decade. Maria Bello wipes the floor with the pair of them, proving that there are well-written roles for women (and vastly underrated actresses) in American cinema. And there is a glorious cameo by the mighty Paul Sorvino as a washed-up lounge lizard trying to channel the spirit of Sinatra.

A great Vegas movie that never rolls a seven and craps out, The Cooler deserves to join the pantheon alongside Swingers and Hard Eight.