Archive for July, 2007

Young At Heart / Big Brother 8

July 30, 2007

Fred 

Crying at something I’ve seen on the TV? Am I going soft? Probably. But I challenge anyone to watch Young at Heart, the documentary on More4 about a group of pensioners by the same name, and not be moved.

When I recorded this I was expecting a few laughs, if I’m honest, at the expense of some geriatrics attempting to remember the words to a Hendrix number. To an outsider, the premise looks amusing, first and foremost. A choir of OAPs singing contemporary numbers and a few classic rock tunes. What I wasn’t expecting was to be moved to tears by the poignancy of their performances and the dignity they bought to the music. When Dora Morrow and Stan Goldman sang James Brown’s ‘I Feel Good’, it’s impossible not to smile and also feel a tad ashamed of one’s own cynicism. Dora is in her 80s.

Fred Knittle can’t breathe unaccompanied, and despite the breathing apparatus that hangs around his neck and the audible sound of his sucking oxigen through a machine, his rendition of Coldplay’s (originally leaden) Fix You turns a workmanlike ballad into something of incredible emotional power. The lyrics are given added meaning when you consider it was due to be a duet, but his singing partner Joseph Benoit had died just days earlier. It’s a right royal tear-jerker, even for a bitter and cynical blogger like this one. Take a look at the youtube clip of the chorus singing Sonic Youth’s Schizophrenia at the bottom of this article. It’s better than the original.

The fact that these septua and octogenarians are fighting to perform and do something good with the remaining years of thier life lifts your spirit and makes you hope that maybe you will have that strength of spirit when you reach the twilight years.

Then you switch over to Channel 4 and Big Brother is on, and you realise that we’re all doomed, as the generation is made up of the most vacuous examples of humanity you could ever pray you wouldn’t run into. Young adults who can’t name more than one American President. An Englishman who doesn’t know who William Shakespeare is. A woman so self absorbed she completely loses track of what she’s saying every time she starts roaring orders at people, distracted by her own reflection. A graduate who, in matters of love, resembles an 8 year old only child. A vain ex-boyband failure who speaksin cliches. A ‘raver’ (in her 30s, no less) who has a limited capacity for conversation given that she only speaks in long-past-its-sell-by-date 80s Ravey Davey slang. And some other arseholes.

They can’t do anything. They have zero talent, and yet they assume they have something to offer the world, and the world continues to pay them attention.

It’s fascinating for all the wrong reasons.

When you hear the Young at Heart chorus singing ‘Forever Young’ to prisoners in an American penitentiary, your heart skips a beat. The advice in the song is perfectly apt for those with chequered pasts. It enables them a chance to take stock and start thinking about righting some wrongs. You can’t help but wish the inhabitants of the BB house were forced to have a similar moment of clarity and consider that the reason for their existence might be something other than self-promotion and meaningless celebrity.

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Heroes

July 26, 2007

Heroes 

Despite watching this stone cold sober I found it baffling and uninspired. For those with better things to do, the synopsis is thus: ordinary people that have superhuman powers.

The thing about ‘super’ power is that before you’ve even begun one is expected to suspend belief in the rational, but we have a fucking problem when the producers are desperately trying to convey how ordinary they are. If one has ‘super’ human powers one isn’t ordinary are they? (and the word ‘super’ annoys the shit out of me; it’s so bland and unspecific. I mean if you could fly, to say it’s ‘super’ is a bit of an understatement).

We start off in India where a Professor in genetics by the name of Mohinder finds out his father has been killed. He took the news very well I hasten to add – bloody awful acting… Turns out Pops had a controversial theory on human evolution so he goes to New York to find out what happened to him.

We then start to learn more about the individual ‘Heroes’ that presumably Mohinder’s dad knew of, and obviously explains his death, which means that others know of these Heroes too. One of the main characters, Mr. Bennet, the only character without a forename, suspiciously, seems to be ‘on’ to our gifted friends, even if they don’t fully realise their abilities yet…

We then continue to follow the day-to-day lives of a handful of characters in the USA, conveniently, as they realise they are ‘super’. I can’t be fucked to list them all, so if you really care go here and check them out. The only other foreign chap, a Japanese fellow called Hiro (hero – geddit?), is able to bend the fabric of the space/time continuum. Surely this character negates the whole fucking concept of the plot because anything bad/good to come/go can be reversed/pre-empted. He arrives in New York at the end of the first episode, by using his special powers. Ooer.

A modicum of attention must be made to the Texan cheerleader who is indestructible; so far we’ve seen her leap from great heights only to un-crunch her broken body, catch on fire without injury, blend her hand and have her neck broken only for it to crack back into place… really, if you could actually do any of this stuff, keeping it secret would be last thing on your mind. Channel 4 would pay a fucking fortune for that sort of shit and The Sun would be your pension.

Anyway, already some of the characters know each other, I presume this isn’t a coincidence that they’re, in some way, all connected… though having said that I wouldn’t be surprised if it isn’t, such is the dire lack of imagination that has gone into the initial stages of the ‘plot’.

Essentially this is yet more over hyped shit from the USA and it’s duller than dishwater.

Amen.

BBC News – The Great Flood

July 25, 2007

Floods 

The BBC news comes from Gloucester, up to its neck in water. Look! There’s George Aligiah in his welly-boots, being all grim-faced as he informs the public of this disaster. Hey! There’s not one, not two, but three outside broadcasts from flood-damaged parts of the country.

Hold up! Another report from Richard ‘Voice Goes Down At The End’ Bilton, valiantly battling against the tides in his tractor as he surveys what has become of proud Oxfordshire? Another one? And who’s this? Why! ‘Tis Hew Edwards, the BBC’s top news gun anchorman, up to his nuts presenting a BBC special report – nationwide – braving the elements to bring us up-to-date coverage of the deluge that threatens the Thames valley. Move over Supervets … storm’s a-coming on the portside bow and we have a duty to tell the nation – prime time, BBC1.

Oh thank fuck! It’s Feargal Keane, the BBC’s suitably sombre-sounding war correspondent, home at last to tell all about the mess the river Severn’s gawn ‘n’ left behind … ‘specially in Tewkesbury, poor, beleagured Tewkesbury.

Now, is my memory failing me, or did the self-same thing happen two weeks ago in Hull, Sheffield, and Rotherham – to name but a few? And wasn’t the coverage of this equally destructive event mainly broadcast on Look North by Olympics Ice Dancing commentator Harry Graition and the orange Christa Ackroyd? Did they cancel Supervets? Did the north get it’s own nationwide special? Or five different reports on the same day on the main evening news bulletin?

Is there (surely not?) a double-standard going on here? Is this coverage we’re getting nationwide happening, perchance, because the South has taken one on the chin? I wouldn’t want you to think there’s a conspiracy born of the fact that the television you see is made by people who live in a city in the south-east corner of this island … but it’s odd isn’t it? It’s odd that I now know a pointless little town like Tewkesbury has a Toby Carvery, but can’t for the life of me remember seeing any footage of what the city of Hull endured (until the good people of Hull started complaining that no-one had pointed out their city had been washed away, that is). Isn’t this all very strange?

Funny old world, eh?

Katie & Peter: The Baby Diaries

July 24, 2007

Sick and wrong 

Ok, before I get started I want to make it quite clear that even upon writing this article, I haven’t put myself through a whole episode of this series of self-indulgent hyper-cack, but then why would I? Just noticing that it exists is enough of an excuse to vent my spleen. And let’s face it, who needs to watch it? The content is irrelevant, if not self explanatory; It’s that fat-nosed, pregnant attention-whore Jordan lolling pointlessly about with her gargling elf of a husband poncing excitedly by her side like a neutered and bloated spaniel wagging his little trouser tail.

I confess however, that I watched a whole mind-shafting 15 minutes before coming to my senses and doing myself the favour of tuning out. In that I time I witnessed Katie Andre Jordan Price wobbling about to some music like a slaggish bouncy castle with her unborn child being ragged about inside. To complete this horror sequence, the outlandishly squat creature known as ‘Peter’ was frantically frotting himself against her baby-bearing frame like a randy adolescent at a school disco. No wonder her other fuck-trophy Harvey was born with his optic nerves detached after spending the best part of a year being rattled about like a galstone in a pig’s bladder.

Next, David Gest’s stupid apocalyptic fizzog appeared on screen to add an eerie supernatural effect to an already bizarre programme. I’m not sure quite what service he was offering, as I wasn’t paying the required attention. All I noticed was that his darkly robed body was looking like a priest’s fevered nightmare.

Finally, I saw the dozy tit-beast almost reduced to a pant-shitting due to what she descibed as her ‘needle-phobia’ during a visit to her G.P. Maybe having been breached by the Andre-needle once to often has provoked this reaction, or maybe she was afraid that one false move by the spike-weilding quack would have her tits wilting like a tramp’s cheap, flimsy, dirty, stinking, cum-spattered lilo that’s been snagged on a skanky bit of bone in a butcher’s doorway.

Among these sequences there was plenty of equally meaningless footage which was so damaging to the intellect I was afraid my frontal lobe may begin to bleed at any time. I can honestly say that having a big dump leaves me feeling more entertained than viewing the activities of this pair of village idiots.

Their careers seem to consist of fly-on-the-wall type glimpses into the day-to-day workings of their own careers. Careers which incidentally, would not exist without such public attention upon the supposed ‘careers’ in the first place. So really, the careers don’t even actually exist. If it wasn’t so annoyingly ridiculous it would be genius. I cannot begin to grasp the point of the programme from a viewers perspective and struggle to imagine anyone out there actually caring about these substance-free parasites, or what happens to them. What do folk gain from watching shit such as this? I doubt viewers are tuning in because they can’t wait to hear what Peter Andre says next. And if you’re a sad loner watching in the hope of getting an eyeful of some good ol’ jug action then you’ll be disappointed. It’s not even good for a wank unless you’re keen on shuffling one out over a fully-clothed, sprog-hauling, has-been cock-charmer.

Lovebox 2007

July 23, 2007

Lovebox 

Lovebox then. Not sure how I got hoodwinked into this one, but I was, the missus was keen and so we set off on Saturday afternoon in the unwavering sunshine. I’d not been to anything like this since the Phoenix Festival in 1996, and I can barely remember that because ageing hippies kept putting drugs in my face. All I really remember is sitting on the coach home for half a day, covered in mud and feeling thoroughly miserable. Luckily this mini-festival was pretty much on my doorstep and we only had a one-day ticket, so after a 15 minute wander we were at the gate, a bizarre cattle grid wherein guestlist types had a choice of six heavily staffed entrances and the rest of the hoi polloi (ie me and my better ‘alf) had to crowd round a thin strip with no idea what was in store for us.

Turned out a thorough search was in order, I fully expected to be asked to bend over. I had to sump a bottle of wine before going in because I was obviously going to smash people over the head with it rather than drink it. I had a fucking wrench in my bag which they didn’t notice, but still the bottle had to go. Bastards.

The minute we got in, a tropical rainstorm appeared from nowhere and we got fucking soaked. Braving it rather than allowing ourselves to be washed out, we were immediately seized upon by a Christian Aid git. Our spirits weren’t dampened as yet so rather than tell him where to stick his petition regarding carbon emissions, we signed it, chuckled about the torrential downpour as our toes instantly developed trenchfoot and then bid him farewell. Drenched and past caring, the only solution was to follow the obvious plan. Food. Beer. Smokes.

Always well-prepared, the lady had pre-rolled some beauties so all we had to do was grab some noodles with tempura vegetables, deep fried to a mush but just edible and then queue at the bar. Because everyone was hiding on the dodgems I got served almost instantly. Splendid. Two cans of redstripe – I wagered they’d be charging a good £2.50 for it, pub prices for a can – fair enough. £3.20 though. £3 fucking 20p for a can of red stripe. BASTARDS. That’s the price you pay for a pint in the kinds of pubs I avoid, the way I’d avoid syphilis or gonhorrhea – by not fucking entering. Still. It was a necessity so I purchased and consumed. And in the end I’d spent £32 on ten cans of lager like the alcoholic twat I truly and horribly am.

It was still raining so we decided to wander around and absorb out surroundings. There was the dance tent – apparently done up like an interior in Doctor Strangelove. Peeking through the crowds, I can confirm the walls were white. Beyond that there were so many heaving bodies that it really wasn’t worth investigating. Especially seeing as the music sounded like this: WOOOOP WOOOP WOOOP WARGH WARGH WARGH twat twat twat twat twattwattwattwattwattwattwattwat WOOP WOOOOP WARGH WARGH.

The fairground looked fun, but given the rain we weren’t sure we fancied our chances, slipping off a lubed high speed ferris wheel and landing in a splat of limbs in Walthamstow didn’t seem worth the risk. So what else was there to do? The day was about music, supposedly, so we checked out the other stages. First, the Clash stage was the indiest of the stages, except that these days indie tends to mean electro and middle of the road rock. Looking at the crowd, 16 year olds in trilbys and 39 year old women dressed as Lily the fucking Allen, it wasn’t worth hanging about to see who was on. So over to the main stage we went and en route the sun came out. Hallelujah. In fact, it came out so strongly that we almost went from drowned to burned to a cinder. God bless British Summertime.

En route to the main acts, we noticed the set of a burned out building with a big crowd around the front entrance. Turns out this was some kind of fake New York 70s club, with lots of people in fancy dress having a dance inside. By mid-afternoon the queue for this attraction actually cut the festival site in two. The queue was longer than the one for the female toilets.

Speaking of the female toilets – surely we can develop some new system whereby ladies don’t all need a separate cubicle? it ruins things for everyone. Moody boyfriends waiting for ladies to queue, the bladders of their other halves pushed to breaking point. We either need some kind of technology that can be attached to a wanny discreetly and store their effluents, or they need to stop being prudes and whip out their urethras in a communal manner. I don’t particularly enjoy the urinal experience, but it beats queuing – so come on ladies, grab a slice of the unified urination movement and save us all some time. In the event, the ladies ended up using the boys’ cubicles, which meant after a few beers I found myself pissing into a plastic latrine whilst a hundred women stood around chatting. If I were a damaged man it would have been nothing short of erotic.

And so to the main stage. Groove Armada were running the event and, being easy-listening techno types, they’d selected acts that they felt would rock the field but in a style befitting their tastes. They failed miserably. Despite the beatbox champion who played compere and who was actually really great, the rest was a letdown.

First up, the Junior Boys made me feel I was trapped in an 80s elevator and having my brain fiddled with by a vocoder. Truly awful, po-faced rubbish.

Then followed Patrick Wolf, a young man I’d despised but who turned things around here by actually having decent tunes and making a complete and utter twat of himself. I laughed quite hard.

After this, the Presets arrived to bore the masses. Beyond tedious. It was like being stuck in your car in GTA Vice City with a stuck radio, repeatedly driving into a brick wall. Interminable.

New Young Pony Club in the Clash tent lifted spirits. The tent was packed with the population of Hoxton but all the same this was a good set, we found a spot where you could sneak out to have a slash beside a van and all was well.

Wobbly by now, we made one last jaunt over to the main stage and caught most of Blondie, singing along to Tide Is High as we doddered home. Deborah Harry looked whacked out by the way, poor old cow. Imagine having to jump about on varicose veins in the evening at that age. She should’ve at least been given a comfy chair and a cup of tea.

Not a bad day all in all, but wet and overpopulated by 80s synths – not always a bad thing unless dropped into the hands of the Presets or the Junior Boys.

Highlight of the day, for me, was getting home, drying off and sticking on Lucio Fulci’s House By The Cemetery without a single member of public in sight. I don’t think I’m leaving the house ever again unless absolutely necessary.

The Big Show – Steve Wright On Radio 2

July 19, 2007

Steve Wright 

Steve Wright is an arsehole. Every time, and I do mean every time he plays Come Up And See Me (Make Me Smile) by Steve Harley and the Cockney Rebel he plays something in the middle of the song. At best it’ll be a sound effect – that wibble wibble wibble noise cartoon characters make when their legs are rotoring round in preparation to run off, a claxon, bells, etc.

At worst, he’ll play an entire fucking song. You’ll be sat there, listening away, and the song you’ve been enjoying will segue into ELO’s Hold On Tight or Survivor’s Eye Of The Tiger or something equally naff and inappropriate. And the thing is, by the time the shit Travelling Wilburys song he’s plastered into Steve’s has finished, you’ve completely forgotten he’d been playing a Cockney Rebel record. So it’s like this …

Bryan Adams: OOOOOOO … anything I doooooo … I do it … for yooooooou
You: Well thank fuck that’s ov …
Steve Harley: There aint no more! You’ve taken everything …
You: Whassamafuckamasonofabababaaaaaaaaaaaa …

For those of you not in the know, Morrissey’s Panic is written about Steve Wright after the insensitive ass played a Wham song after a news flash about the Chernobyl disaster. If an utter, complete, 100% arsehole like Morrissey thinks Steve Wright is so much of an arsehole he writes a song demanding he be hanged, there must be something in his arseholeness.

Hang the DJ hang the DJ hang the DJ ….

Big Brother 17.6.07

July 18, 2007

Chalres

John Noel rears his corrupted head once again. It’s to be expected that Big Brother is a mockery of a sham. The Sun reports that Charley is already signed up by Mr Noel’s PR agency, meaning one of three things:

a.) She was signed up before going in. That would mean producers have a vested interest in keeping Charley in as she’s represented from the outset by the same charlatan as Davina and Dermot. And Russell Brand and Jade Goody.

b.) She was signed up at some point during filming – possibly during her fake evicition.

It’s pretty bloody clear that she was coached before she went on the cameras for the phoney kick-out last Friday. She wasn’t in the slightest bit shocked when told she’d be returning to the house. She also (apparently – according to someone who’s more addicted than me) mentioned that she’d give other contestants hell when she got back in, despite the fact she shouldn’t have known she’d be going back in.

The nomination nonsense has been irritating too. In the week Billi left, BB twisted events so that Charley wouldn’t be up for evicition by taking away Billi and Charley’s nomination. The decision was made post nominations meaning the producers had enough time to figure out that this would leave Charley free for another week. Hindsight, as they say, is a wonderful thing. This week, miraculously she’s not up again and it stinks of fish.

The worst thing about this farrago is we’ve got another week of the Charley parade to stomach. At first it was amusing watching the car crash, but once the dust’s settled and the scene starts going rancid, it starts to make your guts turn. The only thing worth watching last night was Brian’s kamikaze haircut. He should win on the strength of that alone.

The naysayers are right, this series, even for those of us who doggedly pursue this dinosaur of a show, has jumped the proverbial shark and landed in a cloud of irrelevance.

I’ll keep watching though, it’s the television equivalent of biting your nails or chewing yourself a fresh mouth ulcer.

Hills Have Eyes 2 / 28 Weeks Later

July 17, 2007

Begbie and loads of infected freaks 

If you’re going to make a genre movie, or a sequel to a remake of a genre movie whilst going out of your way to avoid cliches, you’ve got an uphill struggle ahead of you. If you’re Wes Craven, you don’t need to avoid cliches, as you invented the cliches in the first place. If you’re a little-heard-of Director tasked with following up a zombie movie which itself avoided a few of the usual trappings then what do you do to make your new movie relevant? That’s it, you try and comment (with bloody heavy hands) on today’s political climate.

All the critics seem to disagree with me when it comes to horror films, so balls to them in their Islington and nouveau-Hackney homes, pumping out a word an hour of drivel. With these movies a viewer needs to automatically lower their expectations to the level of their stinking feet, otherwise disappointment will generally smack them headlong in the face.

The fun of a horror film is that it’s the opposite of high art. Very few horror movies can be said to be masterpieces. Maybe The Shining. Maybe Night of the Living Dead. American Werewolf In London, but in that instance we’re veering towards horror/comedy, which is a different kettle of fish. Beyond that, it’s pretty much semi-wooden acting, jumps and  gore, and thank crikey for that, says I.

So the critics savaged Hills Have Eyes 2. Hackneyed scripts they said. Expected shocks. And these things, they reckoned, combined to render it worthless. Only one or two stars. 11% on rottentomatoes.com

Well, bollocks. It’s a no-nonsense stomp through a script that’s only even present to transfer us to the next set piece. And those set pieces include a pair of mutant testicles getting flattened by a sledgehammer, a brain being finger-tweaked and an eyeball being thumbed out – which is all fantastic stuff. This is the point of the genre.  Admittedly the rape element is a bit much, but we forgave the EvilDead for that, so we can forgive this.

If an auteur (like Romero used to be) manages to squeeze in a clever analogy to a horror film, then so much the better – I take my hat off. But when the central premise is the analogy, a la Land of the Dead, the whole things fall apart and we’re left discussing how there were too few zombie maimings.

Speaking of a dearth of zombie maimings, the only memorable zombie death in 28 Weeks Later was the helicopter scene, ruined by the use of rapid editing and CGI.

Add to that the fact that the film was a complete mess, featuring an American army as aggressive as the zombies (apart from the good guys who end up the saviours of the Brits, obviously) and the presence of a ‘lead’ zombie, and you have yourself a disappointing wreck.

If I rent a horror film or spend my hard earned down the local multiplex, I expect rubbish. Please deliver.