Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Natural History Museum

“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” L.P. Hartley

Another holiday weekend rapidly disappears in my rear-view mirror, and I’m back to desk-jockeying for the next four days.

Sunday involved a rare trip to see my Mum, and I always try and salvage a fragment of my past whenever I visit. This time, I managed to dig up a couple of boxes: one box file and an old shoe box, both packed with bits of paper and ticket stubs and letters and school reports and photographs and newspaper clippings and used matchbooks from the last 32 years of my life, tucked away for future reference.

I spent the rest of the weekend sifting through this haul of magical junk looking for traces of the person I used to be. And whilst I was sifting through my accumulated past, I kept remembering the scene in Tim Burton’s Batman when Vicki Vale is wandering through Wayne Manor, and she turns to Bruce Wayne and says:

Vicki Vale: You know, this house and all this stuff really doesn't seem like you at all.
Bruce Wayne: Some of it is very much me. Some of it isn't.


I found a diary from 1982, where my excitable 9-year old self had scrawled: “Doctor Who is on tonight!”. That gave me a good laugh, seeing as I’d just stayed up until the early hours of Sunday morning just so that I could catch a re-run of the latest episode.

I found a book I’d written when I must have been around 10. It was only 14 pages long, but it was pretty dark, considering I was a happy, well-adjusted child. Lots of squalor and poverty and rats and filth. And I found stories that I’d written for school assignments when I must have been in my early teens, full of gangsters and jazz clubs and gallows humour in abundance. And then there were the school reports that all seemed to say the same thing: that AKA was a bright, intelligent, articulate child who was well-liked and charismatic, but he was lazy and seemed disinterested in working hard or applying himself to his studies, and would never amount to much if he didn’t try harder.

And I found letters written from friends arranging to go out for a drink or to go to a movie, back in a world where there was no Internet or text messaging, and a first class stamp was the quickest way to arrange a Saturday night out.

The diaries from the early 90s packed with appointments for movies and concerts and beers, when I never had any money but I always had enough for a night out. And the notebooks from my first job at the Record Shop, full of scrawled lists of albums that I had to re-order to make sure the shelves of the shop were still stocked with torpid, uninspired crap like Michael Bolton and Wet, Wet, Wet.

And then I found shadows of people who have drifted out of my life for all manner of reasons; from the acrimonious implosion of friendships, to girls I had loved and lost, to that most final terminator of relationships, death.

Then there were the shards of people who still loom large in the AKA story – the lifelong friends who will be there forever, with fresher faces and smaller frames, but with the same amount of laughter in their eyes.

And then there was the mountain of cards from the future Mrs. AKA, every one a love letter, full of love and passion, for anniversaries or birthdays or just to put a smile on my face and a bit of moisture in my eyes, a trembling in my heart or a stiffening in my trousers.

It was pretty draining going through it all, and for a while it put me in a weird headspace, but once it was over, I packed it all back up again, tucked it away, then went to hug my daughter and kiss my wife and revelled in the fact that where I’m at right now is pretty damn sweet, even if today ends up as another bunch of scribbled words in a dusty old box.

Friday, May 27, 2005

My Pet Goat

Regular readers will know by now the unnerving frequency with which ticking duncebombs are hurled into my lap by my unbelievably retrograde colleagues. This one’s a doozy.

Before I get started on this, a disclaimer: It may sometimes appear that I artificially heighten my reporting of events for dramatic or comedic effect. But I assure you, this is an almost verbatim conversation I had yesterday. I would recommend holding onto your lower jaw to prevent it from hitting the table…

Tard: “I got given a DVD about September 11th the other day… (followed by an interminable load of babbling twaddle about conspiracy theories. Too dull to reproduce here)…”
AKA: (Half-heartedly saying “yeah” and “hmmm” occasionally)
Tard: “And apparently there was another plane that hit some other building that day too.”
AKA: “You mean the Pentagon.”
Tard: “Yeah. Never heard that one before.”

Yes, I know. In no way, shape or form is the existence of four plane crashes on September 11th a piece of obscure, arcane modern history. Surely everybody knows this?

Apparently not.

To compound this phenomenal fuckwittery, the ‘tard in question spends around £25 a week on celebrity gossip magazines. So, the ‘tard could probably tell me who Paris Hilton was fellating last night, but she has never heard of The Pentagon, let alone the fact that someone flew a plane into it less than four years ago.

That is so fucking wrong on so many levels.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Pucker Up

Today, the company that I resigned from last year is carrying a story on their news site about the events that will lead to me being made redundant from the company that I left them for.

Oh, Sweet Irony, let me suckle on your barbed and bitter teats.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Watermelon Man

“You make sounds like you're a mean little ass-kicker... only I ain't convinced. You keep talking and I'm gonna take your head off.” Charles Bronson in Mr. Majestyk

In a much, much better mood this week, and I can trace my sunnier disposition back to the Charles Bronson double bill of 10 to Midnight and Mr. Majestyk that I caught at the ICA last Friday night. A hard-ass with a face like a scrotum sporting a Mongolian moustache will do that to you every time. Puts a smile on my face, anyway…

Spent the weekend snuggling up with my wife watching movies and eating wrong food, and that weren’t too shabby neither. Yes indeed, life seems sweeter this week.

Friday, May 20, 2005

The Last Laugh

Could this week possibly suck more??

On top of my ongoing work travails comes something far more grave and depressing. Frank Gorshin, the one and ONLY Riddler, has died at the age of 72. But first, a little AKA history lesson.

By all accounts, I was a very placid and peaceful baby. Hardly ever cried, always smiling, never shouting. However, according to my Mum, once a week I would freak out. My younger self, despite having absolutely no concept of time, always, always, always instinctively knew when Batman was coming on TV. (And, I know it goes without saying, but I mean the Adam West / Burt Ward pop classic). Undoubtedly, they must have been reruns by this point. I was far too young to have seen them the first time round

Barely one year old, I would spend the entire morning bouncing around the house going, “Nana nana nana nana, nana nana nana nana, BATMAN!”, driving everyone nuts. And once the show came on, I would sit in complete and utter silence, in an almost trancelike state, gazing at the TV in wonder and awe. The show was a revelation to me. It was my first Favourite Show Ever.

And so, to me, Batman can never be Michael Keaton or Christian Bale. He’s always Adam West. And he’s not a Dark Knight or a vengeful borderline psychotic. He’s Gotham City’s Caped Crusader, living with his young ward Dick Grayson and his unflappable butler Alfred, with that cool red phone patching him directly through to Commissioner Gordon, and that kickass car!

And Jack Nicholson is not the Joker. The phenomenal Cesar Romero holds the undisputed title as the Clown Prince of Crime. And, of course, Jim Carrey is not the Riddler…

Frank Gorshin was amazing. That incredible cackling laugh. That wiry, manic physical presence and boundless energy. A frenzied emerald dervish whirling in a blur of question marks. A voice that could effortlessly slip from playful trickster to chilling menace. It was, and remains, perfection.

Frank’s final screen performance is in Tarantino’s feature-length season finale of CSI airing in the UK in a couple of months. I was looking forward to it anyway, but now it’s become unmissable.

And I’ve just ordered the 1966 feature-length Batman movie on DVD, so I can reclaim that part of me that remembers how to sit in wonder and awe, hypnotised by the blisterlingly bright primary colours of the heroes and villains of Gotham City.

And as for Frank? I can picture him right now: “Hey, St. Peter, riddle me this…”

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Heads I Kill You, Tails You're Dead!

I’ll try and tamp down on the Dark Ravings today whilst I update you all on the latest happenings in my fucked-up little corner of the world.

So…I’m absolutely shattered today as I had one of those nights when the family disappeared for the evening leaving me to my own twisted devices, and I sat watching Amores Perros until 1.30 in the morning. My eyeballs are punishing me for the lost sleep today.

Tomorrow, the company is due to hold their Annual Conference. In real terms, what this means is packing everybody up, taking them to a remote location, forcing them to take part in a variety of “team-building” exercises, then plying them with alcohol for the rest of the night.

Yeah. I know. “Team-Building”. The irony is not lost on me.

I told The Bosses this morning that I would Definitely Not be attending. When quizzed for a reason, this was the answer I gave:

“Well, I can’t in all good conscience justify placing clay pigeon shooting above making sure my wife and daughter don’t starve to death in two month’s time.”

They didn’t really have a good answer to rebut that ironclad argument. So, tomorrow, I’ll be sitting at home burning up the phone lines and making my C.V. gleam as the Great Job Hunt begins in earnest.

And My Boss has been irritatingly chirpy for the last couple of days. I’m tempted to dig out his eyeballs with a rusty spoon every time I catch a glimpse of his smug face. He’s started getting into the annoying habit of calling up people in the company to berate them for using words like “shit” and “arse” in personal e-mails, now that he has a handy, dandy scanning toy that picks up on swearwords in the corporate e-mail system. Focussing on something so unbelievably petty when people are about to lose their livelihoods is a bafflingly insensitive and wrongheaded approach to take. He’s due a smack in the head any minute now.

You know, as the afternoon progresses, I am feeling increasingly homicidal.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Hate Crimes

Goddammit, I can’t help it, and I’m not sorry either. Either you get the Blog of Hate for the foreseeable future, or you get nothing.

So, Hate it is.

I fucking hate ITV. All gearing up to celebrate their 50th Anniversary. For what? Being the first UK TV station to air commercials? Fuck that. For the bottom-feeding bullshit they vomit into the eyes of viewers night after night after fucking night? For treating each and every viewer with the utmost loathsome contempt with an endless parade of evil shit masquerading as entertainment as it rots your eyeballs straight out of your goddamn head? This year alone they’ve inflicted such foul and disgusting televisual napalm at the minds of the public as Hell’s Kitchen, Celebrity Wrestling and now Celebrity Love Island. Fuck them, and fuck their tenuous grasp of what a “celebrity” actually is. Celebrities are supposed to be actors, or writers, or athletes, or politicians, or people who have actually fucking achieved something in their careers. They aren’t people who have been on Reality TV shows. They aren’t people who have unfurled their rancid tits all over the newspapers. They aren’t people who have fucked genuine celebrities, with the jism of fame curdling in their necrotic wombs. Fuck off, ITV. The only good thing you have ever given me in your entire, pathetic wasted life is Rising Damp. It’s Harold Pinter with better jokes performed by the much-missed Leonard Rossiter. Apart from that, you can crawl into a corner and violate yourself with a Coronation Street DVD until you prolapse and bleed to fucking death.

What else?

I fucking hate the imbecilic cine-illiterate HMV customers who took it upon themselves to vote Bridget Jones’ Diary as their third favourite British Movie of All Time. Fuck. Off. Right. Now. Even taking into account a narrow view of British cinema with no sense of history, the last couple of years have given us such vastly superior fare in the shape of Shaun of the Dead and Layer Cake and Dead Man’s Shoes. Fucking morons with no taste who deserve to have their eyelids stapled to their foreheads whilst Hugh Grant squats over their faces and uncurls a link right into their stupid eye sockets, whilst RenĂ©e Zellweger smashes her head repeatedly into a brick wall.

What else?

Oh yeah. I hate my employers for giving me a letter today that states that it is now almost a 100% certainty that I will be losing my job in exactly one month from today. With nothing but a month’s paid notice to show for it. I hope that, whilst the company directors are rolling around in their millions, masturbating themselves into a gleeful frenzy and laughing at their windfall, their hearts give out and they die in a puddle of their own blood and faeces.

And, no, I don’t feel better for getting all that out.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Six of one, half-dozen of the other

OK. Now the shock of impending unemployment has subsided somewhat, let’s take a mean, sneering look at What Happens Next, and stare at the implications until they flinch:

Good News: I’ll be back in the heart of London again soon.
Bad News: I’ll be back in the heart of London again soon.

If you live and / or work in London, the dichotomy there will need no further explanation.

Good News: I’ll be out of this backwards-looking little parochial burg with its unevolved fuckheaded denizens, and I’ll return to the spiky embrace of the seething metropolis known as the 21st Century. At Last. I’m Coming Home.

Bad News: Less sleep. Longer and more expensive commutes. Less time watching my little girl growing up (which was always one of the main aims of my experiment in working here).

What else? It’s difficult to get into specifics, because at the moment there aren’t any. I don’t know when I’ll find another job. I don’t know what that job will entail. Will it be another I.T. role? Will it be an Editorial position? How much money will I be taking home every month? I’ve got variables seeping out of my ass, so there’s not too much point in playing a speculative “What If?” game. That’s just a bit too frustrating.

I can tell you this much, though. The next six weeks until the axe swings are going to be pretty damn uncomfortable. I’d much rather they take me round the back of the building right now and give me a double-tap to my brainpan, get this shit done quick. As long as there’s a juicy severance package thrown in, of course.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Up for the Down Stroke

This isn’t going to be an easy post to write, but I need to get all this stuff out of my head. This is also going to be a bit joke-light. Sorry about that.

The short version first: I am almost certain that I’m about to lose my job. Here’s the long version:

My company currently employs 54 people (I just checked). Around the middle of June, it is highly likely that there are going to be redundancies reducing the number of staff to only 30.

The company is about to sell off around a third of its assets. If the sale goes through, the staff cuts go-ahead. If the sale falls apart, the staff cuts will be scrapped. But let’s work with the worst-case scenario here.

In about six weeks, it looks very, very likely that I will lose my job. Yes, it is possible that they will want to keep me, and it is possible that the sale might collapse. Possible, but not very probable.

The third of the assets up for sale is the shit-end of the company assets. The remaining assets are the good stuff. Which makes the company portfolio attractive to prospective buyers. Which leads me to believe that the rest of the company will be up for sale within the next couple of months anyway. Everyone’s a loser, baby! (Unless you are one of the company directors, in which case you’ve got a hell of a payday coming up.)

I could go into more detail, but at the moment I just can’t be fucking bothered. To say that I am hugely demotivated right now is a massive understatement. Time to polish up the ol’ C.V., get on the phone to bother recruitment agencies, and all that fun shit.

When this has all shaken out and everybody knows where they stand, I’m sure that the future will hold bigger and better things. Right now, though, this is a messy and unpleasant transition stage.

I will return with my regular bouts of nonsense and vitriol shortly, once I have figured out a way to reignite my sense of humour.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Labour Pains

So…Election Day. What can I tell you?

I went to vote this morning and, despite being convinced that I was going to vote Labour, at the last minute I spontaneously decided to go for LibDem. And here’s why…

Labour, in all probability, is going to win. And I think that’s OK. We can live with that. I decided not to vote for them as a Conscientious Objector to what has become known as “The Complete Fucking Mess in Iraq”. Too many people dying for too little reason. So, consider my floating vote a petulant bitchslap for Blair. The other reason that I decided note to vote Labour is Alastair Campbell. What an utter cunt. He’s spent years bullying the media and kicking them around, leading to forced resignations at the BBC and the Mirror over minor factual mistakes, even though the general thrust of what they were saying was, by and large, absolutely true. I vividly remember Alastair Campbell storming onto the set of Channel 4 News unplanned in the summer of 2003 to rant and scream about the media in the face of a powerless Jon Snow. Funny stuff, but you could see the foam-flecked bile flicking onto the camera from his raging, angular face. He really, really does need to go fuck himself.

And the hypocrisy of Campbell is mind-boggling. Blair deliberately mislead the British Public. Fact. So he really is in no position to question the veracity of any news that goes against his party line.

So, I reckon the ideal scenario would be something like this: both Labour and Conservative parties shrink in this election, and LibDem grow slightly. Ultimately, if the LibDems became the party of Opposition, and the Conservatives got shunted to the side as the lame duck third party, the next General Election should be a doozy, with those two parties upping their game somewhat, whilst Howard and the Conservatives can go and crawl into a corner somewhere, rename themselves the Neo-Conservative Party in a rare moment of insightful honesty, and then they can be ripped to shreds by wild dogs in the middle of a fox hunt. Sound good?

I’m also concerned about Voter Apathy, but that’s a whole ‘nother kettle of shit. All I’ll say is this: You know the end of the world is coming when people make more of an effort to vote for contestants in reality TV shows than they do for the Leader of their Nation. And you have to pay to vote for the dipshits on Big Brother too!

One, final politics-related note before I wrap up. Just finished reading Ex Machina: The First Hundred Days by Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris. Imagine The West Wing with the trappings of science-fiction and superhero fiction. Absolutely stunning stuff, and the finest first issue of a series I’ve read in years. And you lot, you lucky people, can read the first issue absolutely free if you follow this link.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Day of the Dense

“Stupidity is replicating itself at an astonishing rate. It breeds easily and is self-financing.” Frank Zappa

I’m too goddamn tired to deal with these fucking morons today. I was up late last night fiddling around with my new iPod, and my eyes are as red and raw as my temper today.

Today’s inane question that I really have absolutely no idea how to answer:

”How come you’re so good at spelling?”

And If I hear one more person say “May the 4th be with you”, I’m going to slap the shit out of them.

Any suggestions on how to deal with the overabundance of fuckwittery I have to battle on a daily basis are greatly appreciated.

This blog entry was brought to you by the letters ASS and HOLE, and the number .357.