Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Living In A Box

As the glacial winds pick up their pace, I become more and more reluctant to venture out in search of entertainment. So I’ve been raiding my DVD collection for comfort. Usually, I’ll watch anything that I’ve never seen. I’ve got pretty catholic tastes, and I’ll give anything a punt once.

But I haven’t felt like doing that too much for the last couple of weeks. I’ve been retreating into the old favourites, happily revisiting Galaxy Quest, Reservoir Dogs and True Romance. An old favourite is just as warming as a crafty nip from the bottle on a cold winter’s night, when the rest of the AKA clan are either out or asleep.

Last night, I felt the need to return to the unwatched pile and popped on the remake of Assault on Precinct 13. Short review = Pointless remake that doesn’t touch the John Carpenter original. But I digress…

I was pleasantly surprised to see 80s hardass stalwart Brian Dennehy in a supporting role. And it’s got me spinning off into an 80s revival kick. I used to love the cheesefest of the two F/X movies, centred on the premise of a special effects whiz and his rubber-masked crime-fighting remote-control sleight-of-hand. Any movie that has the massive balls to end with Imagination’s Just an Illusion is pretty good in my book.

Just ordered myself the fantastic Best Seller on DVD. God, I used to geek out to that movie. Brian Dennehy paired with one of the finest slices of James Woods and his Glorious Sneer you will ever see.

But this whole 80s kick could get out of hand…I’m already getting the urge to track down Cherry 2000 and Blow Out and Trancers and Body Double and…

If my hair starts to get fluffier, and my jeans start looking a little stone-washed, you all have my permission to pop a cap in my brain pan.

Scarlet Billows Start to Spread

Inexplicably, I’ve had Bobby Darin’s Mack the Knife throbbing in my head all day. And it’s not bothering me in the slightest, although I might have to kill it with a drink or two before I go to bed tonight.

I’ve got a twitchy, restless mind today. I can’t concentrate on a single bloody thing, and every time I try and grasp for a rogue thought, it oozes out of my fingers and swims away to a darkened corner where I can’t seem to get at it. I’ve got a fistful of writing ideas, which I know for a FACT I will never be able to nail down, because they are too sodding flimsy, and I can’t focus enough to make the fuckers stay still.

Spent hours today embarking on Christmas shopping online, so I don’t have to brave the fetid chav hordes of Oxford Street. Instead, I’ll have to spend the next few weekends going to the Post Office to rescue stray parcels that the postman couldn’t get through the letterbox.

I need a fucking holiday. That’s what I want for Christmas. A week away from the keyboard, away from the phone, away from all the time-sapping bullshit that just muddies the grey mush between my ears. A remote hotel, a raging fire, a fully-stocked bar and a stack of books. That’ll do me just fine.

OK, that’s enough of my bitching. As you were.

Look out, old Macky is back!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Best Laid Plans

Do as I say, don’t do as I do…

Here’s a handy hint to ensure ongoing office harmony. Don’t do what I just did.

I just suggested an office deadpool on George Best’s final few hours. And then I got loads of filthy looks and red faces, and people looking away in muted rage. Obviously, my “colleagues” must have thought it was in horrendous bad taste.

Which is funny, because I don’t. What I think is bad taste is squandering your second liver in less than three years, by slowly committing suicide due to excruciatingly heavy drinking. (And don’t get on my dick about alcoholism being a disease. I know that. But a high-profile case like this will continue to open up a raging debate about whether people deserve liver transplants at all. And if people consequently lose out on a second chance because some has-been football player pissed away his second opportunity, then that shit is in bad taste too).

Describing his own lifestyle, he once said: "I spent a lot of my money on booze, birds and fast cars - the rest I just squandered."


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Annotated AKA

Starved of real-world chicanery to share with the world at the moment, it’s time for another look at what is twisting my melons in the multifarious world of popular culture. Embrace my awesome amphigory thus!

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
“This isn't good cop, bad cop. This is fag and New Yorker.”
I could describe this as a literate deconstruction of genre tropes, but that would almost certainly ensure you wouldn’t want to see it. And that would be a mistake. Because this is the most fun you can have in a dark room with all your clothes on this side of Christmas. Ridiculously talented and underrated writer Shane Black breaks an almost-decade long absence from cinemas, returning to play with the idea of a tough crime movie with whipsmart dialogue and two mismatched buddies in the genre that he reinvented with the likes of Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout and The Long Kiss Goodnight, and he’s joined by a couple of ridiculously talented and underrated actors in the shape of Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer. Fast, mean, funny and hugely entertaining.

Broken Flowers
From the hipster jailbirds of Down by Law and the Memphis-bound Elvis junkies of Mystery Train to urban samurai Ghost Dog and displaced accountant William Blake stranded on the edge of the western frontier in Dead Man, Jim Jarmusch is a master at chronicling the Lives of Loners. To his Valhalla of Loners he can now add Don Johnston (Bill Murray), an impassive Lothario reluctantly sifting through his past loves, without even being quite sure what he is looking for, or even if he wants to find it. As always with Jarmusch, the soundtrack is phenomenal, shifting from Marvin Gaye to the Brian Jonestown Massacre, with Johnston accompanied on his odyssey by the Ethiopian jazz-funk of Mulatu Astatke. Comparisons with Lost in Translation are inevitable, but this is a far richer, more resonant work full of spot-on performances and no easy answers. Brilliant.

The Complete Bod

And now for something completely different. For those who don’t know, Bod was a series of children’s cartoons first aired 30 years ago on British television. Anyone who ever saw it will have the image of the androgynous bald little Bod in his yellow suit seared indelibly into the memories of their inner child. The animation was simplicity itself (a harsher man would call it primitive), and the dulcet tones of John Le Mesurier masterfully narrated the tales of Bod and his friends. Then there was Derek Griffith’s now-legendary infectious music, the game of “Snap!” at the end, and a supporting cartoon in the shape of Alberto Frog and his Amazing Animal Band…

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: “Dude, why the fuck are you talking about some 30-year old cartoon?” Well, I’ll tell you. Despondent over the depressingly shallow and toe-curlingly inept selection of children’s entertainments available for my fourteen-month old daughter, I thought it was time to start weaning her on the classics, and bought the DVD of all 13 episodes. And she loves it! As soon as the mellifluous flute from Bod’s theme tune starts up, she is busting moves like a young James Brown. Buttercup usually only dances that hard when I’m playing her some heavy funk, or when she catches a snatch of some Bhangra at the in-laws. So, I spit in the face of the hollow computer-generated pixelshit squirted in the eyes of pre-schoolers. Flat 2-D animations hitting all the right notes still works every, single time. Want to get a Bod fix? Check out this website, where there is a full episode to tickle your nostalgia buds or to awaken you to the delights of a simpler time.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Aaaagh! My Eyes!!

I’ve just spent the entire morning wading through the Office Spam Filter looking for valid e-mails that have gotten themselves ensnared in its sticky web. I want to stab out my eyes with straightened paper clips now.

On the positive side, I have learned a few things:

I now know more about Viagra, Cialis and Hoodia than anyone on the planet. Fact.

There are a lot of wealthy Nigerians who really need my bank details. There are live girls waiting to talk with me right now! Lots of people want to offer me loans, stock tips, fake Rolexes, pet care, cures for baldness, and “hypoallergenic and dishwasher safe” sex toys.

I have also revelled in the limited joys of the deliberate misspelling, those amateurish tricks designed to fool a Spam Filter. You know the sort of thing I mean: pr0n; brest; secksual disfunktion.

So, 4000 e-mails later, my eyes burn from the fire of a thousand blazing pixels. I need a nap followed by gently massaging coffee grounds and Jack Daniel’s into my tear ducts.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

New Coat of Paint

"Let's put a new coat of paint on this lonesome old town
Set 'em up, we'll be knockin' em down.
You wear a dress, baby, and I'll wear a tie.
We'll laugh at that old bloodshot moon in that burgundy sky"
Tom Waits

Yes, I've changed the template. I got bored of the stagnant inert monochrome of that old one, so I've had the builders in.

Brand new threads, same old napalm attitude. Enjoy.

Monday, November 07, 2005

So this is Planet Houston

General Zod does not take orders. He gives them.

Vote General Zod in 2008!

As the man says: “I win. I always win. Is there no one on this planet to even challenge me?”

Friday, November 04, 2005

With you it's always meme meme meme

The Internet is trying to teach me things. But I’m not entirely convinced that the Internet is an honest and wise Consigliere. These are the things that the Internet is trying to tell me, via the medium of Blogthings, which has just executed my last working hour stone dead. Lies, flattery, misinformation, disinformation, or just cold hard truths? You decide!

Your Logical Intelligence is Below Average
Your Verbal Intelligence is Genius
Your Mathematical Intelligence is Average
Your General Knowledge is Exceptional

You are elegant, withdrawn, and brilliant.
Your mind is a weapon, able to solve any puzzle.
You are also great at poking holes in arguments and common beliefs.
For you, comfort and calm are very important.
You tend to thrive on your own and shrug off most affection.
You prefer to protect your emotions and stay strong.

You May Be a Bit Schizotypal ...

A bit odd and socially isolated.
You couldn't care less of what others think.
And some of your beliefs are a little weird.

Your Personality Type

The Idealist

You are creative with a great imagination, living in your own inner world.
Open minded and accepting, you strive for harmony in your important relationships.
It takes a long time for people to get to know you. You are hesitant to let people get close.
But once you care for someone, you do everything you can to help them grow and develop.

You would make an excellent writer, psychologist, or artist.

Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence

You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well.
An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly.
You are also good at remembering information and convincing someone of your point of view.
A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.

You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator.

Your World View
You are a happy, well-balanced person who likes people and is liked by others.
You question whether many conventional views on morality are valid under all circumstances.
You are essentially a content person.
Sometimes, you consider yourself a little superior.
You are moral by your own standards.
You believe that morality is what best suits the occasion.

You Are 80% Weird
You're more than quirky, you're downright strange.
But you're also strangely compelling, like a cult leader.

You Are Scary

You even scare scary people sometimes!

Your Inner Child Is Surprised

You see many things through the eyes of a child.
Meaning, you're rarely cynical or jaded.
You cherish all of the details in life.
Easily fascinated, you enjoy experiencing new things.

How You Live Your Life

You seem to be straight forward, but you keep a lot inside.
You're laid back and chill, but sometimes you care too much about what others think.
You tend to have one best friend you hang with, as opposed to many acquaintances.
Some of your past dreams have disappointed you, but you don't let it get you down.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Invisible People

Running late to work today (which is becoming an increasingly frequent occurrence, but that’s a whole ‘nother story), so I had to take a bus from Wembley Stadium to finish off my journey to the office.

There was a man sitting at the bus stop drinking from a can of strong cider. At nine in the morning. He had his dog on a leash, and he didn’t look like he was waiting for a bus. He just felt like sitting at a bus stop at nine in the morning drinking strong cider.

And then he started talking to me. Usually, I would recoil from having a chat with a strange early morning boozer at a bus stop, but I was feeling pretty good this morning, so we got chatting. And we talked about his job and his dog and Diwali and traffic and politics, whilst cars churned past slowly in the background and the leaves of autumn coated the pavement at our feet like a second skin.

It was the best conversation I’ve had with anyone all week. There were no pretences, no-one working an angle, no-one was trying to get something out of someone. No bullshit of any kind. It was just refreshingly open and engaging and honest and, well, it was great.

And if I had thought about it for even a second before talking to the man, I probably wouldn’t have even got involved. I would have just retreated into the cocoon of my iPod, shutting out the man and his words.

I should know better, really. People who don’t know me always tend to find me intimidating and give me a wide berth. I dress predominantly in black, I’m 6 foot 3, I tend to shave only once a week, I give off very strong “fuck off” vibes, and I don’t talk for the sake of talking. I only talk if I’ve got something to say, which often makes people think I’m aloof and arrogant. I don’t think I’m either. I’m just not one of those people who witter on endlessly for the sake of filling the air with noise.

Eventually the bus arrived, and I bid the stranger goodbye. Seconds later, I was back in my bubble, my headphones sealing me off from the crowds of people, some old-school Digital Underground piped directly into my brainpan.

And now I’ll sit in almost complete silence until 5.30 tonight when the sky will be black again, as my colleagues avoid the surly, arrogant, scary dude in the corner.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Dark Water

Directly outside my office flows a section of the Grand Union Canal. This rank, polluted body of water stretches for 135 miles, linking London and Birmingham. This impressive passage has existed in its current form since 1 January 1929…

And if people don’t quit fucking with me, their bloated corpses will be floating in that goddamn canal tonight, with nothing but Diwali fireworks illuminating their misshapen faces and black little dead eyes. I am having the worst fucking working day I can remember since about, oh, I don’t know, some time in 2003.

I can see homicide in my future...