Monday, 29 December 2008

The Potato Farm's Film's Of 2008.

As usual, making an albums of the year list is proving to be unbearably tricky (Why do I fret so much about it? It's not like anyone but myself actually cares.) so I decided to do one for my films of the year. This was meant to be a good old numerical list, but there are four films that I cannot choose between for favourite. I put it to the rest of the team, but they are all still Christmas boozing. Therefore I have abandoned the idea and decided that The Potato Farm's film of the year is a four-way tie between:

*The Dark Knight
For my money the best comic book adaptation film ever made. A phenomenal film that is really more about the human condition (that sounds REALLY wanky, but I can't think of a better way to say what I want without using about 500 words) than about a superhero story. Also shows that Heath Ledger was a really fucking good actor and it is a real shame he died so young.

*No Country For Old Men
In which the Coen Brothers managed to make a lot of their old tricks seem fresh by doing them in a style they hadn't done before, making a 'serious' film. Showed that they are not one trick ponies and have real broad film-making talent. (before slightly ruining it by returning to type with the very disappointing "Burn After Reading")

*There Will Be Blood
An epic tale of an oilman's greed and the questionable morality that goes hand in hand with it. Wonderfully countered by an extreme of the other side of morality, the fundamentalist Christians and their local church. I do not use the word epic lightly, you really feel like you live through something watching this. See? This film is so good, that I can't talk about it without sounding like a total wanker.

*Waltz With Bashir
Billed as an 'Animated Documentary', it kind of blurs the boundaries between documentary and a based-on-a-true-story film, with the central character trying to remember his own past. The film looks amazing, it sounds amazing and the unfolding of the story and the journey of the main character is strangely involving for a film that feels so distant. A truly awesome film.

There Will Be Blood & Waltz With Bashir would also jointly get the Potato Farm's soundtrack of the year accolade, with superb and emotive scores from Jonny Greenwood & Max Richter respectively.

The next post will be the 250th Potato Farm post.
"Ooooh, what will he do this time? Will he put a photo of his knob up? A video clip of him having a poo? Will he eat a tramps verruca? Will he train geese to use his laptop and write it for him? Will he channel the spirit of a lion and write a rambling incomprehensible mess? Will he perform surgery on an elephant calf? Will he reform the 90's boyband Let Loose, write a pop song and get them to perform it as his 250th blog? I just don't know, the possibilities are endless!"
Well no, they're not really. I don't know what I'll do for it, but I do know one thing. It will probably be pretty boring.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

I Wrote A Post Today...

...and it wasn't that great. I mean, I liked it fine enough but it just didn't seem to fit with this blog. I think I've become a little bit precious of this blog because this is by no means the first time this has happened and it really annoys me whenever it does coz I just delete what I've written and feel a bit down for no reason I can really put my finger on; so today I set up a new blog on Posterous where all these little offcuts will now go. It may end up being total rubbish, but I'm giving it a go and seeing if it works out. If anyone's interested, the address is:
There is a new little link to it at the top of this blog too. I already don't like the address, but it's too late to change it now. Balls. Oh well.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Axl's Weird New Obsession.

In the last few days I have become a little obsessed with the idea that the Queen is going to die soon. I keep clicking 'refresh' on the BBC News website just in case it's been announced in the last 3 minutes or so. I have absolutely no idea why this random obsession has popped into my head, but it won't leave. I find myself wandering into daydreams about what the public reaction will be, what the papers will say, how the tv news will report it. Even now, while writing this, I've had to check BBC News again incase it has happened in the 19 minutes since I last checked.

What the fuck's wrong with me? It's not like I even like the Queen so it's not a fear, but it's not like I want her to die or am looking forward to her dying or anything, and I'm certainly not claiming to be predicting anything, or that I'm getting a premonition or some shit like that. I just don't understand this weird obsession I have gotten about this.

Is this really strange? It feels really strange.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Things I Have Seen Today.

1. The cover of the forthcoming Animal Collective album.

which kind of freaks me out a little. The optical illusion doesn't work quite as well on here, but trust me, look at it and focus for long enough, it'll fry your brain!

But just in case it doesn't, go here: :where for some reason it is bigger and more effective. I don't why mine isn't that big, this is where I got it from after all.

2. This:

which came with the caption "Members of South Korea's ruling party spray fire extinguishers at opposition members as they try to break into a committee room, in a row over new free trade laws with the US."
See, that's the problem with UK politics. It's too stuffy. Too prim and proper. We need more fighting. More rukus. I personally think that the next general election should be held as a special edition of the TV show 'Gladiators'. There'd be no scandals, no allegations of vote rigging or improper campaign practices or any of that shit. Plus NO-ONE would fuck with a Prime Minister who won that.

3. Possibly the greatest music video EVER!!!

Seriously, find one better than that. You can't can you. NO!

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Axl Has Been Unwell Today.

I've said unwell, coz if you put ill with the i as a capital, it kind of just looks like I'm saying I've been 3 today. While I have been feeling poorly, I don't feel that I have reverted to childhood, and certainly not to being a toddler. No, I've just spent all day feeling like a very strong invisible man has been squeezing my head. Good job it was the day after my exam.
Yes, I had an exam yesterday. I worked out that it's my first exam for nine and a half years. I was totally bricking it, but I think it actually went ok. I don't wanna jinx it, but I think I've done well enough to pass. Half of it was analysing one from a selection of pieces that we hadn't seen before, and I have to say it helped that one them was a poem about female masturbation. Think I'm exaggerating or reading too much into it? Go here; ;and tell me it's not about how she thinks sex becomes boring and women should just have a wank instead.
I watched the news today. Oh boy, did they pile it on thick with the fact that that guy who did those bomb attacks at those airports was a doctor. The guy doing the BBC six o'clock news had to say something like "He was trained to care for the sick and needy, but today Bilal Abdullah was found guilty of trying to harm hundreds of people..." about three times. Sorry, when did TV news become presented in the style of The Jeremy Kyle Show?! Look, I'm certainly not saying that what he was trying to do wasn't terrible, and potentially horrific, but seriously, why is the news being presented to us in this way? What is the point? Are they trying to make us fear doctors from a non UK background? Or doctors in general? It seems to be just one step away from actually shouting "NO ONE IS SAFE! WE CAN'T EVEN TRUST OUR DOCTORS ANYMORE!"
But then you see the story on the BBC news website, and there's none of that. There's just a well written, detailed report, with some background and some words from officials and people connected. So why when reporting on the TV does it have to turn into a Fox News/Daily Mail style glorification of fear?! Why can't we have the intelligent journalism on the TV aswell? Is that really too much to ask now? A lot of people knock the BBC, but when it comes to news reporting and journalism, they are pretty much the best at it. Why, why, why are they dumbing down like this? It's not like they have to pander to what advertisers or sponsors want, so why are they being like everyone else? I don't want this sensationalism from the BBC, I just want the fucking NEWS, which is what they above all others are supposed to be able to give us.
I've forgotten what else I wanted to write now. Oh, if any of you think I'm over-exaggerating the sensationalism of BBC news, go here; ;and check out the absolutely hideous new advert they've come up with. I would comment on this advert further, but Blake's already done a pretty good job of it here; ;which was written before it was available on YouTube.


BBC's Sound Of 2009

At HMV's Christmas piss-up, Grundy commissioned me to do a blog - ok, he didn't pay me or anything, he just told me he wanted me to. That's good enough for me, ok? - in which I listen/watch/check out the BBC's Sound Of 2009 Longlist, and give my opinions on the acts selected. He wrote one himself - and wanted to know what mine would be like if I did one. So, now that I'm done with stressful assessment writing and my exam, I feel I can devote enough time to this project, so here goes. The bands are listed in the order I listened to them in. The songs I listened to by them are in brackets.

1. The Big Pink. (Too Young To Love)
How can a meeting of My Bloody Valentine, and classic Chemical Brothers sound this boring? This is really unimaginative stuff.

2. Dan Black. (Yours)
Ok, both songs so far have sounded like they were made in the mid-late nineties. This one is obviously influenced by Big Beat. Like The Big Pink tho, it just sounds like a pale imitation of it's influences, and a bit like something you'd find on a more recent Chemical Brothers album.

3. VV Brown. (Crying Blood)
Ok. Looks like 2009 is actually going to be the revival of the nineties. Another heavily Big Beat influenced song. I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out Norman Cook produced this. Another pretty boring song.

4. Empire Of The Sun. (Walking On A Dream)
That's the guy from Sleepy Jackson!! This might be good.
Oh dear it sounds like MGMT.
I fucking hate MGMT.
Go back to doing Sleepy Jackson please.
And stop looking like Adam Ant's bastard offspring.

5. Florence And The Machine. (Dog Days Are Over)
Ah, these are the lot that have already been confirmed for a Brit award. New Band Most Likely To Line All Our Wallets or something.
How does it sound?
Oh, I've heard this before.
They sound just like Bat For Lashes.
But shit.

6. FrankMusik. (3 Little Words)
Electro-pop. Very 80's. This is exactly the kind of song that is kind of annoying now but will grow on me after a while and kind of already is. When I started writing that sentence I wasn't liking it, but by the end of it I had a smile on my face. Hang on, I'm gonna listen to it again.
Yeah, I like this one.
Best song so far by miles.

7. Kid Cudi. (Day 'N' Nite)
Not really sure what to say about this one. It's the kind of slightly bland chart oriented urban club tune that'll probably be pretty big. It's not good or bad really, it just exists.

8. La Roux. (Quicksand)
Electro-pop again. This time it is actually just annoying and not very good. In fact it's incredibly annoying.

9. Lady GaGa. (Just Dance)
Looks a bit and sounds a bit like Christina Aguillera. American pop. Awful lyrics. Unimaginative backing track. Another song on this list that is just pretty boring. And it's too long.

10. Little Boots. (Meddle)
She's got a Tenori-On!! Bitch, I want one of those!!
Reminds me of someone, but I can't remember who. I kind of like this one. It's a bit like how Florence And the Machine, from earlier in this list, should sound. Pretty simple piano and beats based song, with a little stylophone too, that's pretty good.

11. Master Shortie. (Dead End)
"I lay low like a futon."
Nice funky backing track. Pretty talented UK MC. This is a good track.

12. Mumford & Sons. (Feel The Tide)
This guys voice is fucking annoying. It's not particularly bad or anything, just annoying. Which is actually a really good account of the song in general.

13. Passion Pit. (Sleepyhead)
This is a cross between MGMT, TV On The Radio, Avalanches, early Lo-Fidelity Allstars, with some Italo synth and some US R&B style let's-sample-a-voice-but-put-the-pitch-up-really-high. It's a fucking mess.

14. The Temper Trap. (Sweet Disposition)
The guitar intro sounds a bit too close to U2's "Where The Streets Have No Name" for my liking. In fact they carry on sounding a bit like U2, but without the grandeur. U2 if covered by TV On The Radio. It sounds pretty bland, which is probably why TV On The Radio have never done a cover of a U2 song.

15. White Lies. (To Lose My Life)
Sounds like a goth Killers. Chorus sounds like a rubbish Editors. It's very easy to see why those are the 2 bands the BBC article compares White Lies to. This is shit.

Well if that's the sound of 2009, then 2009 is going to sound four-fifths BORING. Grundy did a top three at the end of his post about this. I will steal that idea and do the same now:

1. FrankMusik
2. Master Shortie
3. Little Boots

And they are the only three that I actually liked. Everyone else was either a bit boring, or a bit shit. I think Grundy was hoping I would do a more interesting post than this, but the fact is there just isn't a lot to talk about here. I've already forgotten most of the acts, because they're just not very good. Most of them are simply inoffensive and bland. Here's to a pretty dull 2009 then, if this list is to be believed.

If you want to check the list out yourself, it's here:

Sunday, 14 December 2008

More Films.

My time has been taken up with writing my assessment prose piece for my course, so I haven't had a lot of time for blogs and the like. So here's some more films I've seen in the last 2 or 3 months and what I thought of them, for no reason other than I really enjoyed doing it last time.

Burn After Reading - (Warning; I think this review may contain a couple of spoilers.) The latest Coen Brothers film. After the stylistic change of "No Country For Old Men" (which was SO so good), they clearly wanted to make another "Coen Brothers film". Now, I love the Coen Brothers and the trailer had got me a bit excited, as all the Coen Brothers tricks were in there. However, as "In Bruges" proved that a bad trailer does not necessarily mean the film is bad, "Burn After Reading" is proof that a good trailer does not mean the film is good. Now, in trying to make a more recognisable Coen Brothers film, they have thrown every Coen Brothers cliche into this film not seeming to worry about how loosely tied together they all are. So we have yet another Coen Brothers film about someone holding something for ransom, yet another Coen Brothers film about bungled transactions, yet another Coen Brothers film about ordinary people getting out of their depth, and yet another Coen Brothers film with Frances McDormand in it. Yet another with George Clooney in it for that matter. Along the way we are expected to believe that a) a woman would be so desperate for plastic surgery that she is willing to murder someone, and b) that anyone would want to even touch the character played by Tilda Swinton, let alone sleep with her. So yes, it is yet another Coen Brothers film of totally improbable circumstances.
None of which would matter if this was actually good. The problem is that it just comes across as trying so hard to be a "Coen Brothers film", that they've made sure all their classic tricks are in there at the expense of any sort of cohesion or coherence. It's a just a bit messy, and feels like very little actual thought has been put into it, which is an opinion backed up by the total cop-out of an ending they've tagged onto this film because the silliness went too far to properly finish it.
There is one good thing though; Brad Pitt. He is excellent in this film. It is almost watching for him, but once he's not in the film any more, the film really spirals into the realms of the truly ridiculous.
I was disappointed. This is no Big Lebowski. It is however not as bad as Intolerable Cruelty.

Hang on, these are meant to be short snappy reviews. I'll try to do better now;

The Lives Of Others - Won an Academy Award for best foreign language film. Definitely deserves it. It is a superb film about communist East Germany in the eighties. It's a film about rebellion, relationships, infidelity & power corruption. It is extremely good. If you haven't seen it, please do. It is brilliant. I could waffle on for ages about it, but just watch it yourselves.

Kids - I remember the controversy surrounding this film when it came out, but never actually saw it until a couple of weeks ago. It is without doubt one of the worst films I have ever seen. The key scene, the scene that sums the whole film up, is when a group of boys are talking about sex, at the same time that a group of girls are also talking about sex. The scene cuts between the two groups conversations, and it dawns on you that every single person in this film is a total utter prick. There is absolutely nothing to like about any of them. So essentially this is a film showing a day in the life of people there is absolutely no chance of you caring about. Pointlessly unpleasant, with only a thread of a storyline that most of the time doesn't seem to actually matter. I cannot put across how much I hated this film.

A History Of Violence - I've never been a fan of David Cronenberg, but I remember that when this came out, the reviews made me want to see it. I bought it on offer one day, and never got round to watching it. It sat in my bedroom for a good couple of years before I finally got round to watching it.
This film has absolutely no subtlety whatsoever. You don't have to think about anything in this film as it is all so blatantly spelled out to you, that in fact it is kind of off-putting. If you don't know exactly what is going to happen in this film the moment that Ed Harris' character calls Viggo Mortensen's character by another name, then quite frankly you are a total idiot. And if you don't know the kind of thing that's going to happen before that then there is no hope for you. This film is so in your face that you start to feel a little violated with the blatantness of it.
As much as I found wrong with this film, I actually did kind of enjoy it. Viggo Mortensen is very good, and the satisfaction of the moment coming that you've been waiting for for ages actually happening, is strangely satisfying. There is a scene in a school which similarly you can see coming a mile off, but is really satisfying to see happen anyway. In the end, this is an enjoyable, well made but brainless film, no matter how intelligent David Cronenberg would like you to think it is. It is certainly a hell of a lot better than;

Eastern Promises - which is pretty dire. Similar to "Kids", this film has absolutely no-one to care about in it. Similar to "A History Of Violence", it has absolutely no subtlety. This film however doesn't really have the pay-off moments of AHOV. And it isn't fun. Not in a "Babel" not-necessarily-nice-to-watch-but-is-really-fucking-good way, in a oh-God-this-film-is-really-boring way. "Eastern Promises" is dull. If it weren't for Viggo Mortensen, it would be virtually unwatchable. Naomi Watts who is normally very good, is just not given a chance to be anything other than bland, playing a character with no noticeable personality. Which is irritating.
This film for me, backs up what I've always said about David Cronenberg. Which is that he's rubbish. Seriously, I don't care what any of you say, "Videodrome" is fucking lame, and "Crash" is a steaming sack of horseshit. AHOV is enjoyable, but I wouldn't call it good, and "Eastern Promises", zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz............................... apart from the scene where Viggo fights the two blokes in a sauna, which is awesome, but doesn't go on for nearly long enough. Which is odd considering the totally pointless gratuity of certain scenes we see before that.

In other Axl news; I have an exam on Monday. It will be my first exam for about nine and a half years. I'm shitting myself.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Writers Block.

I have totally hit a wall with my assessment piece, so here are some short reviews of some films I have seen recently, new and old:

Waltz With Bashir - ACE! Looks phenomenal, and I found it refreshing and very interesting. I find it hard to write about things that I love as much as I loved this film (The fact that it was about 2 or 3 weeks ago that I saw it probably doesn't help either). It did that thing to my brain where any analytical parts are switched off and I was just engrossed in it. This and Dark Knight are my favourite films of the year. (Yes, I thought it was even better than The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, which the regular among you may remember me gushing over a few months back)

Rome: Open City - Subtitled back in a time when it was seemingly deemed only necessary to translate the dialogue that's essential to the story, which is disconcerting at first, but once you get used to that it's an interesting account of how Italy was during the second world war, and shows that actually Italians weren't necessarily particularly happy about living in a fascist regime.

Double Indemnity - Micaela made a point when we watched this that it could be seen as more of a comedy than a thriller. Either way, film noir or black comedy, it's a quite good film. Enjoyable but not, for me, particularly memorable. Apart from the fact that the main guy in it looks pretty damn cool lighting matches with his fingernail, and is almost constantly smoking. How times have changed, eh? Oh, and the main woman in it who is supposed to be so attractive that a man is willing to murder for her, isn't actually very attractive at all.

Gommorah - Gom-BORE-ah.

Brazil - Yes, the Terry Gilliam film. Yes, I hadn't seen it until last week. Now, there may well be a backlash against this opinion, but I was disappointed by this film. I love Terry Gilliam's imagination and absolutely loved Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas, Twelve Monkeys and work with Monty Python. However, I found Brazil kind of boring. And it was too long. There were some very funny bits and I can't fault the look of the film at all, it looks incredible, but the content of the film is just so overstretched, and I don't think it's anywhere near as profound and meaningful as it thinks it is. If I had a marking system for these films, this would get 3 out of 5. It's alright. If Terry Gilliam didn't have such an incredible eye though, it would have been painful viewing.

In Bruges - Proof that a dreadful trailer does not mean the film is dreadful. Seriously, did you see the trailer to this film? Awful. The film itself though is not only pretty well made but is absolutely hilarious. I honestly can't remember the last film that made me laugh this much. (Actually it might have been Dodgeball. Or Talladega Nights. Not sure though. Has there been something since then?) Colin Farrell is really good in a comic role, and Brendon Gleeson is superb. (I knew I'd seen him in things before, but couldn't remember what. A quick glance at IMDB tells me it's 28 Days Later, an excellent film, and Braveheart, a total sack of shit film.) Really worth watching, and the pretty shots of beautiful looking Bruges are very nice too thanks.

Wanted - Should be really terrible but is FAR TOO MUCH FUN!!

Can't think of any more right now. This was fun though. I will definitely do this again. Whether you like it or not.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Board Game Idea.

I've come up with a great idea for a board game. It's based on the film "Babel". 2-4 people can play. Each player can choose to be one of four characters; Cheiko - a deaf mute Japanese girl, Richard - an American in Morocco, Amelia - a mexican housemaid, or Anwar (I may have got that name wrong) - a Moroccan boy. In a similar vein to Ludo, each characte has their own corner of the board, unlike Ludo the characters pretty much only stay in their corner, save the occasional "Twist Cards" that come into play, e.g Anwar briefly goes into Richard's corner of the board (or vice-versa), when Anwar shoots Richard's wife. Each character has their own "Character Development Cards" that will come into play when certain squares are landed on. These will say things like "While dancing to music you can't hear (but can get a sense of rhythm to due to the physical movement of the sound in the air and the bass in the floor, as well as from seeing the movements of those around you), you see your best friend copping off with the guy you really fancy. Run away and miss a turn.", or "You have just helped your possibly-bleeding-to-death wife have a piss in a bowl. You suddenly become really inexplicably turned on and passionately kiss her in a way you probably haven't done for years. This simple act has not only reinforced your renewed feelings of love towards her, but has also rekindled your desire for her in a way you don't quite understand. Roll again." The winner is the first character who plays out their plotline to the end first.

Now, what's the first thing you notice about this idea? Yes, that's right. It's not a great idea at all. In fact it's a really really shit idea. It would be like making a film about Snakes & Ladders. Or Ludo. Or Mouse Trap. Or Monopoly.


Firstly, how?!?! How the hell are you gonna get a film out of Monopoly?! I can't wait for the chase sequence after someone parks on Go To Jail Corner without authorisation. Or the incredible dialogue;
"Goddammit! I only just got paid and now I've been hit with a tax bill so it's all gotta go back, and I'm probably gonna end up having to pay to stay at one of my Grandma's houses on the next leg of my journey!"
"Yup. I been there man. My aunt just got a fancy new hotel on Fleet Street. Still charges me full rates whenever I gotta stay there. And just after that ridiculous lottery system of payin' the water bill. I tells ya, if I hadn't come second in that beauty contest the other day, I'd be penniless."
"Yeah, the water and electric billing sucks. What do you do for a living anyway?"
"Me? Oh, I just walk around. I'm a walker. I just go round certain parts of London, stayin' in places. Then, everytime I get past Mayfair on my way back round to Old Kent Road, I get paid. Simple as that."
"You don't say! Hey, I'm a walker too!"
"No way! HA! What are the chances, eh?"


Think I'm making this up?

Oh, and if that doesn't convince you;

I wanted to write more in this post, but I'm gonna have to cut it there for the mo. I want to write more, but I'll probably forget.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Last Night.

I had a dream last night that there was a scandal because they had made Spiderman 4 but had dubbed over Kirsten Dunst's dialogue with Salma Hayek's voice.

I'm pretty sure this means I was abused as a child.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

More Schoolwork.

With a lack of anything new to say, and forgetting everything I had thought of to write on here over the last few days (I really do need to start writing these down as I think of them), I'm putting up my latest piece of schoolwork. We had to take a nursery rhyme or children's story and write an alternate view of it. A more adult version. Darker maybe. Anyway, here's what I came up with. See what you think.

Nicolas by Paul Askew

I am Old Man Nicolas,
this is my life.
A year of near solitude,
just for one night.
A year of near back-breaking
labour and trial,
to give out some joy
to every child.

The night that my wife died
I cherished her hand,
and the longest of winters
fell over Lapland.
I distanced myself from
the workers, and here
I now spend all my time in
the company of Deer.
A year of near lonliness
drives a man wild
and it’s hard just to live off
the words of a child.

So now the sleigh’s loaded
It’s off and away,
time to give everyone
their Christmas Day.
Old bones in the cold
start to put up a fight.
How many more times
shall I see this night?
The sacks, they get heavier
every year,
my eyes barely open,
so tired, so weary.
I just about make it
and finish my rounds,
before I give in and
my eyes settle down.

I feel myself slump
to the left and then fall,
then feel myself weightless
as nothing at all.
I feel my head suddenly
clear of all clouds,
I feel my limbs dangling
above me somehow.
I feel myself calm,
so pastoral, so mild,
I feel my goodbyes
said to every child.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

The Secret.

This is a piece I wrote for my course. Feedback/opinions welcome.

Robin stood there, hands behind his back as always, waiting for Andrew. Andrew had told him to have the car ready for nine, but Robin was not at all surprised to be still standing there at half past. He checked his watch again. Nine thirty-seven. He heard the door and quickly put his arm behind his back. “Good morning, Mr Other!”
“Morning Robin! Sorry to keep you waiting there chap, you know how it is sometimes. It’s like a bloody chimp’s tea party in there. Now, Leeds today, isn’t it?”
“Yes Mr Other, sir.”
“Good Christ Robin, you’ve been my driver for five years now, can’t you dispense with the formalities?”
“Sorry sir.” Robin opened the back door of the car.
“Sir. Sir. I’m not your bloody schoolmaster Robin. Oh, I can see this will take some work.”
Andrew got in. Robin closed the door and then got into the driving seat.
“What is it today sir?” Ignition.
“Oh, some charity lunch thing. Orphans I think. Something to do with kids anyway. I’m only going because old Bollocks is going.” End of the driveway.
“Bollocks, sir?” Onto the road.
“Rupert Baxter. You know? Made a fortune with those microwave meals. Bloody good bloke, old Bollocks. Not like most of the nouveau.”
“No sir?”
“Sir. Sir. Sir. I do wish you would stop calling me that. Makes me feel like a total arse. If I had one wish, it would be that you would call me Andrew for once.”
“Sorry sir.”
Andrew growled. “Force of habit I suppose.”
Andrew thought to himself for a moment, then broke the pause; “You know Robin, I just realised that I don’t know anything about you. I mean, I know you’re not married and you have the world’s best kept moustache, but I don’t know anything else. Maybe that’s why you don’t call me Andrew.”
“Because we’re not friends, man. This is a one sided thing here. Well, it’s time to change that. We’ve got a couple of hours drive ahead of us, so let’s get started.”
“Tell me something about yourself man!”
“What would you like to know sir?”
“Oh I don’t know, anything! Use your imagination.”
Robin said nothing.
“Why aren’t you married?”
“I was once sir.”
“Really? What happened?”
“I’d rather not say sir.”
“Fair enough. Delicate business. Bit much to start on. Erm..... well what about school? Where did you go to school?”
“I went to school in Oxford sir.”
“Oxford, eh? I know Oxford well. Bollocks is an Oxford man, you know. Sends his kids to the Magdalen Boys, know it?”
“Magdalen Boys is where I went sir.”
“Really? Well there’s a coincidence. Enjoy it did you?”
“Very much sir.”
Andrew suddenly remembered Robin’s age.
“You’d have been there during that scandal, wouldn’t you?”
“If you mean the Mrs Lindstrom incident, then yes I was sir.”
“The teacher who got pregnant by a pupil.”
“Yes sir.”
“That wasn’t you was it Robin? Eh? Eh?”
“No sir. It wasn’t.”
“I bet you knew the scallywag who did it though, eh? Ah ha ha ha ha! I bet you did!”
“Yes actually, he was a good friend of mine at the time. Simon Greenidge. Truth be told sir, all of us were rather jealous of Simon.”
“Bit of a fox was she, this Mrs Lindstrom?”
“She certainly was sir. Body to die for.”
“HA HA HA! That’s more LIKE it Robin! You’re loosening up a bit! Now if you fancied her at that age.....”
“They were like heaven in a shirt sir.”
“HA! A buttoned up heaven! Brilliant! Ah, to open up the pearly gates, eh? Bet she let you know it too. Wear tight shirts did she?”
“Yes she did sir, white shirts. Usually with a black or red bra underneath.”
“One way to get you buggers to pay attention, eh?”
“Oh yes it was sir. We were always very attentive for Mrs Lindstrom, sir.”
“HA HA HA!! I bet! Excellent! Excellent! Oh, why has it taken so long for us to talk like this? This is gold. Pure gold, Robin. Right, we’re on a roll. Now, did you go to university?”
“I actually got into Oxford, so I stayed in that same city sir.”
“Really?! Bloody hell, what are you doing driving me around then?!”
“Well I...”
“What did you study?”
“Good Lord, what happened? How are you here now?”
“I actually never completed my degree sir.”
Whyever not Robin?”
“Oh you know. Reasons.”
“Reasons? What reasons?”
“Too hard was it? Weren’t up to the work?”
“No sir, it wasn’t that.”
“Money, was it?”
“No, I had a trust fund. Look sir, I’d really rather drop this.”
“Get kicked out did you?”
“Please sir.”
“Drugs, was it?”
“Look, I..”
“Beat up a lecturer or something?”
“Sir, I’d really rather not..”
“Played a prank that went too far?”
“Sir, please..”
“Vandalise the place did you?”
“Sir please, I..”
“Oh come on man, what was it?”
“Well I would really rather not..”
“Little scandal of your own, was there?”

There was a long pause.

“Well, I don’t know if I should be furious or celebrating?! Blimey! For the first time you call me Andrew, but blow me down if you didn’t just speak to me in the most appalling...”
“I’m sorry sir. Andrew. I’m sorry Andrew.”
Another pause.
“Well, I suppose I was pushing it a bit, eh? Ah, no harm done. Although I am awfully intrigued...”
“Please drop it Andrew.”
“HA! He calls me Andrew now. Brilliant. Oh, Bollocks will be tickled when I tell him.
Robin stifled a laugh.
“What’s wrong with you man?”
“Oh, nothing sir.”

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

This Has Actually Made Me The Happiest Man Ever.

I now believe in God. No more will I ever have to hear that piercing din from that talentless little gobshite. My prayers have been answered. This plague on Oxford ears has been cured.
Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou.

Monday, 17 November 2008


Can't work out whether someone was saying this as a joke or if I was actually being threatened.

Guy: "Have you got a light mate?"
Me: "No, sorry, I don't smoke."
Guy: "You should do. You'd smoke if I set fire to you."

It was on Rectory Road and he had a mental look on his face. Like he was either on drugs or about to bite the heads of some squirrels that he probably has in a bag in his cupboard or basement. You know the look. There was a character in Father Ted, I can't remember his name now, the one who drove a sewage truck in one episode, robbed a post office in another, and wanted to kill a bunch of rabbits by putting their heads in a vice and chopping off their bodies with a samurai sword in another. This guy looked like him.

On a lighter note, I saw the Razorlight video again the other day, the one where they're all lighting matches. God, that is a fucking funny video. If you haven't seen it yet, please do. It is so sincere and done without even a hint of irony. It is the most laughable music video I can think of right now apart from the video to "Smack My Bitch Up" by The Prodigy, which wasn't as ego-stroking and wasn't anywhere near as unintentionally funny as the Razorlight vid, but is right up there because it is just so so so utterly pathetic, making it just as ridiculous and laughable, if not more so. And there aren't a lot of things that you can put Razorlight above The Prodigy on.

I've lost my point now. Anyway, watch the Razorlight video. You'll laugh your arse off.

Oh, and watch a German film called "The Wave" too. It's really good. A really interesting look into the system of Autocracy becomes a fascinating insight into the world of gang culture, drawing alarming similarities between the two. It's an ace piece of film-making, and I wanted to make sure I wrote that before "Waltz With Bashir" comes out and I get too excited to write about any other film. I cannot fucking wait for "Waltz With Bashir".

Okay, bye now.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Watch This.

My mate Tat put a link to this clip on Facebook.

If that doesn't work, or if YouTube is being as slow on your computer when you try to look at it as mine is now, then go here; which is where Tat found it. There's also a transcript of his monologue there too.

Monday, 10 November 2008

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

My course seems to be eating up all my time and inspiration at the moment. Sorry.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

The World Is Fucked.

At the moment in the news, there are some pretty big and important things happening right now:
There's absolute chaos going on in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Tens of thousands of people are fleeing their homes, as infighting has escalated due to a rebel uprising. It's being called a "humanitarian crisis".
There's been an earthquake in Pakistan, killing 215 people and leaving tens of thousands homeless (up to 50,000 is the latest estimate). They are still trying to sift through wreckage to find people who are trapped.
Bombs have gone off in Assam, in India, killing 64 people. Apparently there were 18 separate explosions. Many more were injured (300 est.). There's been another suicide bomber in Afghanistan, they killed 4 people other than themselves and injured 23 others. Also a car bomb went off in Spain.
The whole world is suffering from this 'credit crunch', this recession. Economies are in danger, banks are going under and having to be bailed out, values of homes are falling, stocks plunging, etc etc etc.
There are "freak" weather conditions causing floods in Devon. There is a trial going on to determine what should happen about the shooting of an innocent man (Jean Charles de Menezes) on a tube train.
Oh, and in America there a little thing called the Presidential Election going on. It's a landmark election which will either see the first Black US president, or the first Female US vice-president. Either way, that's a pretty big step for the American Government. Whoever wins the election will be in charge of the country at a very difficult time. And as we all know, the decision of the American public impacts upon the whole world (and if McCain somehow manages to get himself voted into The White House, the whole rest of the world will either laugh of sigh with total disbelief, as we all say a collective "Oh for fuck's sake, not again").
I could go on, but most of you will be bored by now.

I would however be surprised if anyone in the United Kingdom knew about all of the things I've listed. Why? Because apparently, more important than this, is the fact that 2 people said some naughty things to someone on their radio show, a show which was on after the watershed. OH MY FUCKING GOD, HOW DARE THEY!! HOW CAN THIS TRAVESTY STAND?!
Seriously, this whole thing is fucking ridiculous. This is a non-story. This is nothing.
Yes, Russell Brand & Jonathan Ross said some tasteless things to Andrew Sachs. Yes they should've apologised for it, and they did. But this virtual lynching of them for the last 4 or 5 days is utterly ludicrous. The Sun today gave 5 whole pages to it. It took up about half of this evenings news at 10. It's on the front page of far too many newspapers. Andrew Sachs' granddaughter has been sucked into the tabloid media machine and is spouting basically whatever they want her to say.
Russell Brand has been practically forced into resigning and Jonathan Ross has been suspended for the rest of the year, EVEN THOUGH Andrew Sachs himself said that he was not after revenge, would not be taking this matter any further after getting his apologies and says he appreciates that they know they did something stupid and probably do feel very bad for it. He also said they will probably learn from this mistake and become better for it.
Which begs the question, if Andrew Sachs is happy with just getting sincere apologies from the pair, why this fucking witchhunt?! The BBC has not been disgraced, no matter how many tabloid journalists say it has. I personally find it a bit rich that newspapers that objectify women, continuously hound celebrities and have done things like the famous Mirror episode where they faked those military photos, which Piers Morgan, the editor of the Mirror at the time, got fired for (and then somehow bafflingly became a TV personality, in spite of the fact that he is a total cunt), can pull out the family values card whenever the mood takes them. Hypocritical much?

Seriously, when a non-issue like this gets blown out of all proportion to such a ridiculous degree, you know the world is fucked. The whole thing is absolutely pathetic.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Off To See Holy Fuck Tonight.

They're playing at the Zodiac. Holy Fuck are in Oxford!! I am very excited. That's not why I'm writing this tho.
See, while I'll be upstairs watching Holy Fuck, who's playing in the downstairs room? Why it's only Delirious?, everyones favourite devout christian rock band.
Is it only me that finds that hilarious? Someone must've done that as a joke. In the same building as a band of worship rockers playing to a religious crowd, a band called Holy Fuck. Imagine the backstage banter:

"Hi there. Are you guys playing tonight too?"
"Yeah, yeah."
"Cool. We're Delirious?"
"Oh yeah? Haven't heard of you. What kind of thing do you play?"
" You might not have, we have quite a specific following. You know, we've got a lot of fans, but because we play rock music with a primary message of faith, we really only appeal to a Christian fanbase. So a lot of people still haven't heard of us, even though we are quite big."
"Oh right, yeah, we probably wouldn't have heard of you guys then."
"That's cool, no worries." Slight pause. "What do you guys do anyway?"
" We're kind of an electronic rock band. We wanted to play electronic music, but we wanted to do it all live without loops and laptops and all that stuff. So yeah, we're kind of a rock band I guess, but you can dance to us too."
"Sounds pretty cool. I might have to check you guys out sometime. What's your band name?"
"Holy Fuck."
After a long pause. "Ooooooooooooooookaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyy. Well listen, you guys have a good gig and maybe we'll catch you later, yeah. Okay, good luck. God bless you." Scurries off quickly and uncomfortably.

What genius came up with this idea? Putting these two bands on the same day, in the same building? If this were America or Mexico, I can imagine there would be abuse, threats and fighting between fans. I mean, in Mexico you get punk fans fighting each other for being crust of straight edge. (Don't ask me, what "Crust" punks means, I don't know. I think "Straight-edge might even mean something different. I don't know.) This would cause a veritable civil war!

In other Axl news, I have too much homework. I can't seem to find the time to do it all, however I did just finish a bitch of an essay, so am on a well earned break. I tried doing some text analysis, but it was all just a blur. It meant I also had to cancel a trip to visit my chums Blake & Staz, who probably hate me now. Right. I need food. Food (while watching deleted scenes from Summer Heights High I reckon), more homework, Holy Fuck. Then maybe a bit of booze. That's my evening right there.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Free Writing.

We did this thing at college today where in groups of 3, we had lists of words and made sentences using a couple of them. Then we took a sentence someone else came up with and used it as the opening for a piece of 'Free Writing', which is what it sounds like. You write whatever comes into your head. We did this for 20 minutes. The other 2 people in my group really liked what I wrote, so I decided to put it up on here. The first sentence was written by a guy called Patrick, the rest is mine. It doesn't have a title.

Peering into the mirror, he was shocked to see his elderly mother looking out, he was morphing into her.
Jesus Christ, when did this start happening? Was it when he followed her into the family business? But he got out of that years ago. Did that start a chain of events? He couldn't deny the similarities of their lives; both married in their early twenties, both divorced at 28, both re-married in their early thirties, he was born on his mother's birthday ("My most wonderful little present." she still would call him.), both had 2 children, both had suffered the loss of one of them, both had an obsession with hats, both had six toes on one foot, the list goes on. Looking at his mothers face in the mirror, watching her touch her face in the same ways and places that he touched his, he cried, as she did, at the fact that his life was not his own. It was hers. His rage grew. He was overcome with anger and lashed out at her, and watched as her face shattered and fell to the floor.
This woke Alison with a start. "Jesus Geoff, what the fuck?!"
Geoff looked at the pieces of the mirror and wept. Alison noticed his hand was bleeding. She led him into the bathroom to wash his hand. He stopped dead as he saw his mothers face again above the sink. "Geoff come on, don't just stand there, we've got to get that clean."
But Geoff just stood in the doorway, staring into his mothers eyes. Alison took his hand and tried to pull him into the room. "Come ON Geoff." He turned his eyes to her and saw his mother again. She was in the room now. He screamed, punched her in the face and ran. He ran down the stairs and out the front door. He ran into the road and into the path of a car.

Oi, Women...

...stop thinking yer unattractive without make-up. Seriously. It's stoopid.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

This Is Fucking Awesome.

They are Foot Village and they rule.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

You've Bored Me So Long.

In between my lesson which made me feel like a stupid dunce and my tutorial which made me feel like an inferior child, I had 3 hours to kill and so went to the Phoenix to see 'I've Loved You So Long'.

'I've Loved You So Long' is a French film that stars Kristin Scott Thomas and some actors I don't recognise, directed by Phillipe Claudel. I also hadn't heard of him, but a trip to IMDB tells me that this is his first film.

This film has had rave reviews, and with such a convenient time to be showing just down the road from where I was with 3 hours to kill, why the fuck not, eh? The film centers around Juliette(KST), a woman who's returned to France to live with her sister after being released from prison in the U.K. (I can't remember now if this is actually said or merely implied.) It's about her path to regaining her life, and the impact this has on her & the family she is staying with.

I can see why this film has had good reviews. Kristin Scott Thomas is excellent in the lead role, and the rest of the cast are very good too. It deals with the issues of social stigma and rehabilitation in quite a frank and honest manner. And it all looks very nice (and for most of the film Kristin Scott Thomas looks pretty hot).

But there's just something about the film that makes it pretty boring. The whole "Ooooh, I wonder what she's done?" aspect feels like it's drawn out too long considering it's pretty obvious quite early on what she was imprisoned for. The whole "But why did she do it?" angle feels like it's been written in purely because this film for the most part doesn't ever seem to be going anywhere, certainly not towards anything like a natural conclusion, and they needed some sort of payoff. It's as if the film writer/makers really wanted to study the main themes of the film, but had no idea how to actually do it. What this has resulted in is a film that for the most part either says the same thing over & over again in slightly different ways, or seems to say nothing at all.

But hey, it's French right? That means that the critics will cream themselves over the overlong scenes, the downbeat tone, the amusing asides and the whole damn Frenchness of it regardless of it's actual content, or lack of.

For me this film was a big let down. There is a REALLY good idea here, but for my money (£4.50! Being a member of the Phoenix rules! When was the last time you paid under a fiver to go to the cinema?!) it's handled pretty badly.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Sun 5th October 2008. Friendly Fires at the Zodiac.

Going to a trendy gig at this time of year gives you a unique opportunity to check out what the freshers are like this year. So how are they? Young. They look like children who've sneaked out of boarding school. And they don't seem to know how to dance. While Friendly Fires were playing, they seemed content to merely sway along out of time for the most part. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The support was a duo called Jape. These 2 guys play guitars and occasional synth over a backing track of drums and synth. If that sounds interesting, for the most part it wasn't. It was pretty pedestrian. It actually sounded a bit like someone was playing the Friendly Fires album too slowly. And the guy can't write lyrics for shit. I swear at one point the guy sang a lyric about "a brick made of mist" and how while it wasn't physically possible, it was still something you could imagine, in your mind... Yeah, well done mate. I can imagine juggling 5 dragons while whipping up a cake with my bare feet in my mind... Doesn't mean jack shit tho, you poncey little tosser. I mean, I'm all for quirky lyrics, don't get me wrong, but there is a big difference between a genuinely imaginative turn of phrase, and some lame 'wacky' non-observation. All the songs sounded the same, all the songs were played at the same pace of a bit slow and all the songs had the same sound of a bit 'baggy'. All apart from one. As the third from last song they played segued into their penultimate song, they put down their guitars and hunched over their synths. Then they suddenly out of nowhere started playing this full on, out and out electro house track, which was TOTALLY FUCKING AWESOME!! WHERE THE FUCK DID THAT COME FROM?! ALL IS FORGIVEN!! Then after this 4 or 5 minutes of fleeting genius, they made the stupid mistake of picking up their guitars again. NO!!! YOU BLOODY BASTARDS!! How DARE you go back to peddling that pedestrian indie crap on us when you have shown your true power! Stop trying to pick up chicks with your pussy rock and BRING BACK THE DANCE!! Seriously, if Jape hung up their guitars for good, and pursued the house route, they could be so fucking good. Please Jape, we need another dance act to get passionate about. Orbital split, Underworld are a bit too happy living on the outside of everything and the Chemical Brothers went shit YEARS ago. We NEED another great dance band! Please Jape, please be that band. Pleeeeeease?

In the break between bands, I made the mistake of going to the bar. Yes, the barstaff at this place are just as shit as they always have been. You'ld have thought that what with it being over a year now since Carling redid this place they would have managed to get some people who actually know how to work behind a bar by now, but no. A year on and they still hire brain dead staff. Little dimwits, pottering around like Teletubbies who became disenchanted with the world without ever actually growing up. I mean, I'm pretty certain the old Zodiac was never like this. Maybe I wouldn't be so dismissive of them if a) my JD & Coke hadn't cost £3.50, and b) the escaped post-op lobotomy patient who was working the bar this particular night hadn't served, and I'm not exaggerating this, 6 people who came to the bar after me. It's not like I was in an awkward position or anything, I was directly infront of where she was doing most of her 'work'. She saw me several times. She is clearly just a total imbecile.

Rather novel this, but Friendly Fires might just be the only headline act who I've ever seen actually come on stage to start at the time they're listed as starting. Right on the button of 9.30, they stroll on stage, and treat us to a fucking superb set. Their set basically consisted of the album, in a different order, and their ace cover of the classic Frankie Knuckles track "Your Love", which they played 2nd and made me smile because I thought maybe they didn't play that anymore.
Now, I'm used to seeing Friendly Fires at The Cellar. At an ARF? night. Crammed, cramped and hot & sweaty with people dancing themselves to near exhaustion as FF play their brand of incessant dance rock. This was different. Upstairs at The Zodiac, tall room, air conditioned, stage at least twice the size, playing to an audience who mostly seem to be made up of newly Oxford located freshers, who don't seem very sure of themselves and are trying too hard to impress everyone around them. Which is silly. They should've just let that shit go and fucking danced, coz Friendly Fires were on form. Although having said that, I can't think of a time I've seen them when they haven't been excellent. I was well excited when I found out they had a album coming out. And it didn't disappoint. A short sharp burst of attitude and energy, they got all the critics doing a little bit of dribble. 'Where the hell did these guys come from? They weren't on any of our watchlists!' (apart from NME, who at the beginning of the year held them out as 'Ones to watch', but don't let that put you off.) That's pretty much what you get seeing them live too. The energy they put into their set really comes through. The guitarist almost constantly looks like he's on the verge of totally spazzing out, the singer cannot stand still for one moment, the drummer's too busy playing frantic loops to have anything like a short breather and the bassist/extra percussionist is switching, chopping and changing partly laying the foundations, partly trying to keep up with everything. It's frantic and it's bloody exciting. 'Jump In The Pool' in particular gets the collective pulse racing, and causes a near riot of applause when it finishes. 'Paris' winds everything down with that Field sampling bliss of an outro that seems to bring the set to a natural wound down close, before they announce there's one more. 'Ex Lover', complete with Friendly Fires equivalent of a wig-out at the end. That being an all percussion stage party, but with nothing so cheesy as an audience invasion. All of which brings things to a perfect close, which can only mean one thing. It's time for the tedious 'get the crowd riled up and roaring for an encore'. Sure enough the crowd get a bit rowdy and chanty, wanting more, but then the house lights come up! Music from the stereo plays! There's no encore! YES!

(and I bet you get loads more groupies than Jape. Y'hear that Jape? Give up the guitars. Embrace the dance side! You know it makes sense.)

Thursday, 2 October 2008

The Clash.

Someone stuck The Clash on during my last week of full time work. Cool, I thought. I haven't listened to The Clash in ages. In fact, I bought 'London Calling' years ago and never got round to listening to it. It was dirt cheap and I figured it was one of those albums I'm just supposed to own, so I bought it. I've somehow only ever really heard the odd song here and there. The Clash just seemed to be one of those bands that just passed me by, so this was probably the first time I had ever properly heard them.

Good God, they're dull.

I've heard that they have some sort of cultural importance or something, something to do with being seminal because they're a punk band who used reggae tones and structures creating a cross cultural style of music. Important to their time they may have been, I don't know enough about them to say one way or another. What I do know is that listening to them today, they just sound dull. As tired as the myriad of 'Punk' bands that regularly infuse their music with ska and reggae. Personally, I think The Specials are the only band who have ever managed to pull this off. Maybe it's because they were a genuinely cross cultural band, so that sound came sort of naturally to them as a group.

Dammit! I wrote that lot earlier this afternoon and now I've completely forgotten what the rest of it was meant to be. Altogether now, Ooooooooooooold maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan Aaaaaaaaaaaaxxxxxlllllllllllllllllllllllllll....................

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Musings Of An Aging Man.

Notice I said aging, as in 'I am getting older', not as in 'I am old'. None of this "Oh Axl, yer not old blah de blah" bull crap.

I recently got 'found' on Facebook by my younger half-brother Ben. I just had a look on his profile and virtually every comment on his wall ends with "Lol". Hey, he's 15 so it's allowed okay? It does however add to the list of things that make me feel criminally old.
It's the induction week for my course at Ruskin this week. Ruskin is a college that specialises in teaching people who haven't been in education for a while. Basically this means that for the last 2 days I have been sitting in rooms full of people who are for the most part older than me. You would think this would make me feel young, right? On the contrary, being in an older environment is making me feel old. I'm not young, nubile & sexy enough to hang out with the young people at other colleges/universities, oh no. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to say anything bad about these people. They seem nice enough, and for a learning environment a bunch of mature adults are gonna be a hell of a lot easier to get along with than a load of kids who are just out of school, wet behind the ears, arrogant little wankpots. But it still makes me feel old.
I made the mistake of looking at Bebo earlier too. Somehow Bebo came up in conversation with someone the other day, and I realised I didn't really know what it was. I knew it was a social networking site, but that was it. I went on it just now, and fucking hell. It's like Facebook & MySpace made love, and had a baby, but it was a baby made of vomit. Seriously, looking at a Bebo profile is like looking at every MySpace and Facebook profile you've ever seen all at the same time. It's so cluttered that it hurts yer eyes to look at it. It's the kind of madness that only kids could make head or tail of. Everyone on Bebo seems to be 17, 18 or 19. Everyone's wall or whatever Bebo call walls are covered in smileys and hearts. Everyones photos are the most posed photos you've ever seen in yer life (My favourite of the ones I saw from the 4 profiles I looked at before my eyes started to boil was someone called Craig, or "Mashhead", who found it necessary for his profile photo to be him topless and flexing his muscles.). It has surveys called "Are you straight lez bi or loner?", "What kind of gang member are you?" and "Are you sexy, slutty or ugly?" It has something called "Sofia's Diary" which has the tagline "You think your life sucks? Watch mine...", so I did. Episode 130 to be precise (For someone who seems to hate their life, it seems odd that they have no problem broadcasting 130 episodes of it to the whole world.). What did I see? Sofia, a slightly attractive girl in her late teens mopes around her bedroom for a bit before going to meet her friends, before walking along the South Bank (yes, it's set in London) where she meets a boy she really fancies and goes all snogging on him. Wow. Your life is like soooooo hard. A brief look at Episode 127 reveals to me that she works for a magazine called "Wicked". Go away now Bebo please. Go away, re-brand yerself "ChavSpace" and have done with it.
I can't remember what else makes me feel old now. My memory seems to be getting worse as I get older. Hey, that's another thing that makes me feel old!

Friday, 26 September 2008

End Of An Era.

So, on Monday I am to become a student. I am being inducted into Ruskin adult college on their "Creative Writing & Critical Practice" course. Now I'll obviously have to don some sort of golfing gear, tie myself to a slag and go round pubs SHOUTING REALLY LOUDLY ABOUT HOW I WANT A HALF PINT OF LAGER AND IN 5 MINUTES WE'RE OFF TO THE NEXT PUB, ALRIGHT GUYS?!

This also means that after almost 7 years, I am no longer a full time employee of HMV. Which is fucking awesome. My last full time day was yesterday. I'm still gonna be doing weekends, y'know for the money and that.

What surprises me is how much I'm really not going to miss it at all. Working in a shop for the last 7 years has been like watching the slow deterioration of the human race happen before my very eyes. People actually are getting more stupid and more lazy. And more rude. A HELL of a lot more rude.

Hmmm... this may have to be finished at a later date, as I don't really seem to have a lot to say about the whole thing right now.

In summary then: I only work weekends now and from Monday I will be a student. Go me.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas.

15th September 2008. Mr Axl & Lady 'Caela have decided to go to the cinema, but they can't decide what to see. Nothing at the Odeon really takes their fancy right at this moment in time. Lady 'Caela checks what's on at the Phoenix.

LC: "Do you fancy seeing 'The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas'?
MA: "What's that?"
LC: "It's a film about the Holocaust."
MA: Slightly dubious as he's not really sure he's in the mood for that. "Hmmm.... dunno."

They look at the Odeon board. The only thing Mr Axl wants to see is 'Man On Wire', but Lady 'Caela isn't in the mood for a documentary. Everything else they could see now kind of looks a bit lame.

LC: Deciding to try her luck. "What film magazine do you most trust?"
MA: "Empire. Why?"
LC: "We'll see what they give it."
MA: "Okay." Thinks to himself that if it's anything lower than 4 stars, we're in for a tricky few minutes.

Lady 'Caela looks up the review on her phone internet. There on the screen comes up the Empire header. Below it, 'The Boy With The Striped Pyjamas' has been awarded 4 stars.

MA: "Alright then, let's go."

I've always been a bit of a sucker for Empire. I don't know what it is, but they just seem to be really good. There is no music mag that is as good as Empire is a film mag. Not by a long shot. Which is a real fucking shame.

The last time I can remember seeing a film that I knew virtually nothing about beforehand (not counting random films on tele) was The Matrix. All I knew about that was that Keanu Reeves was in it, and there was fighting. All I knew about this was that it's about the holocaust.

I found out the next day that it's an adaptation of a children's book, which makes sense as it's basically a child's view of a part of the Second World War. Which has a double effect of a) adding an innocent naivety & humour to things, and b) heightening all emotional responses. When something is felt, you feel it that much more. This would be such an easy thing to overdo, but the film is extremely good at simply presenting itself, not trying to make you think one thing or another, and just letting you go along with the events and feelings of the film, leaving you to have a perfectly natural emotional response to what you are seeing. Nothing is forced out of you. Nazi's are not presented as pantomime villains, they are presented as real people, which makes their moments of 'evil' all the more effective.

The basic plot of the film is that a Nazi officer is promoted to oversee a Concentration Camp. His family moves out of Berlin for him to be closer to his work. While out playing, the officer's son finds the Camp which he has seen from his bedroom window. There on the other side of the border fence is another boy. The two become friends. The film centres around not only the two's friendship, but also the effect on the family of the move and the changes in their lives that come from his new job.

This film is incredibly moving. The contrast between how the situation is seen by the children and what we the audience already know in retrospect really affects how you feel towards this film. It's something that I'm sure the film-makers know and have done deliberately, but I'm not sure how. Like I said earlier, they never try to drill anything into you, you just feel what you feel naturally.

I'm not sure if I've made this clear or not, but I think this is a really good film. If it weren't for a certain 'Dark Knight' this would almost certainly be my film of the year so far. I urge you all to go and see it. Make sure you take some tissues tho.

If I were to do a 'Fudge' style rating, it would get 4.5 fudge sundaes out of 5

Monday, 22 September 2008

If You Only Ever Ate Soup...

...would you always have diarrhoea?

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Winkstock '08

13th September saw Port Mahon & The Cellar hosting this year's Winkstock. I can't actually remember if I went to last years. I think I was going to, but missed it. Anyway, this year I went, albeit missing the first 4 acts.
The first band I saw were the superbly titles You're Smiling But We'll All Turn Into Demons, who sound exactly like The Heads. I love The Heads, and ...Demons are a band who do this sound really well too. "This sound" being scuzzy sounding garage psychedelia with a nod to the late 60's and early 70's space rock jams. It would be better if they hadn't broken their bass drum halfway thru their set, which is a shame because although they're still really good, it always sounds like there's a layer missing from then on.
Chops are next, and the headliners of the Port Mahon leg of Winkstock '08. Chops consist of 2 guy's who go a bit mental on synths, vocals, a guitar, a saxophone and strange boxes, backed by a ridiculously talented drummer. You get the impression that the drummer is the glue who holds these guys together, and that if he weren't there, the other 2 would just devolve into a primal mess of pure sound, trying to outdo each other in a noise fight for the position of alpha male and possession of the most attractive female in the vicinity. As it is, this is a joyously structured mess. I'm just not sure how much of the headache it was worth.
On to The Cellar then for the second leg. First up, Elapse-O. I hadn't seen Elaspe-O for a while and was really looking forward to this. Shame they were so shit. YEAH RIGHT! They were fuckin' awesome! The last 2 songs of their set especially were amazing. If these guys don't get singed up to an indie in the next year then there is something seriously wrong. Come on, there's no point pretending anymore that people don't listen to this stuff. A niche market noise music may be, but that still means there's a market for it, and Elapse-O are probably one of the most exciting and original UK acts in this crazy old sub-genre.
Next up, Gentle Friendly, a keyboard & drums duo. I don't know what it was, but I just didn't like them. The whole thing just left me a bit cold and "whatever". And I can't shake the feeling that the drummer seems a lot better than he actually is because he's playing at about 400 beats per minute. The guy who plays bagpipes on Cornmarket Street in Oxford plays really quickly to try and cover up the fact that he's actually not very good and mistakes are less noticeable when they're at breakneck speed. It's probably unfair to level this accusation at the drummer from Gentle Friendly, because I couldn't actually hear any mistakes or slips being made, but then I did stop actively listening after the first couple of songs and went to join 'Caela and some mates off in an alcove for a chat and just let GF become background noise. I've focused on the drummer, because I can't really remember the keyboard player. I'm pretty sure his keyboard was white, and although I wasn't impressed with the sound that was coming from it, I couldn't actually tell you anything about that sound.
And so onto headliners Manatees. Manatees amps were stacked up to the ceiling. Manatees play slow, sludgy, loud metal in the vein of Isis. Manatees are really good. REALLY good. The pace never really picks up, so you get lulled into this hypnotic state, hanging on every decibel of the methodical chugging of atmospheric low-end intensity. These are no doom imitators we're dealing with, these guys have clearly meticulously studied doom, and worked out their place in it. Hence, they sound like Isis, but in no way sound like they're ripping off Isis. Or anyone else.

Why do I always seem to have more things to say about what I don't like than what I do?

Monday, 15 September 2008

2nd September 2008: Faust + Shit & Shine at Cargo

Or: The gig where I was about a foot away from being scalped by a chainsaw.

I hadn't been to Cargo in Shoreditch before. After being given directions by a guy in a pub, I managed to make it there for Shit & Shine, but was told I might not get in. Their drummers had to set up on the floor of the venue and so they were only at half capacity for Shit & Shine's performance. This made my heart sink. I was there literally 5 minutes before they were due on, having run to the venue for fear of missing them. Now I was being told that I may not get in. I stormed my way towards the venue room practically barging my way through people in the vain hope I would make it in due to the fact that although the woman at the desk said "May not", her face did that tilting to one side with a slight squint of the eyes that means "Probably won't" in these situations. I got to the security guards and was pretty much expecting to be turned away, but I'd forgotten that ever so sweet golden rule. Put a bar between the front door and the live room and most people will go to get a drink before going into the live room itself. I got in with plenty of space, and breathed a sigh of relief.

See, I saw Shit & Shine at Audioscope at the Zodiac last year, and it was virtually the greatest single thing I have ever experienced in my whole life. So if I had missed them here, I would've probably cried.

This was a medley by Shit & Shine standards. They're known for pretty much just playing one riff over and over with minimal variation (and a scarcely used bridge/change), over a similarly relentless and repetitive drumloop seemingly played by as many drummers as each venue will physically allow (they recently played a gig in Dresden with 20!!) way beyond the point where it should've become boring, instead managing to form some kind of utterly mesmerising mantra that you NEVER want to end. This time though, they played about 3 riffs! They started out with a quick garage-rock style riff that made me wonder how they would create the same effect with, but excited to see how they would play this out. Masters of their craft they clearly are though coz after about 10 minutes when this riff started to show signs that it may have run it's course, it descended into feedback and the drums slowed down to that familiar Shit & Shine pulse, and then IN came the next riff, and I almost had an orgasm. For about 15-20 minutes this new riff throbbed and pulsated along in the typical S&S way, utterly engrossing and hypnotic it was too. Then, well not so much a riff maybe, as an extended outro winding things down to the unfortunate fact of a conclusion. It was never going to be as good as the first time, but it was still better than pretty much anything else in existence. Shit & Shine are the greatest live band ever.

Which immediately put Faust at a disadvantage. Seriously, I don't care who you are, there is no following that. But Faust had a go. I was excited about seeing Faust, don't get me wrong, I've wanted to see this legendary Krautrock band for years, but following Shit & Shine just isn't possible. ESPECIALLY, when yer opening gambit is an overlong combination of limp psychedelic soundscaping and piss-poor beatnik poetry. This would've probably been incredible if you were on acid 40 years ago, but sober and in the 21st century this is godawful. One man beating shells together while a woman goes on about how "10 months from now I'm still lying here" while the rest of the band plod out a lifeless jam in the background. Fuck, this was looking to be the biggest letdown since seeing Shack at Brookes in 2000. Luckily this seemed to be a false start, as Faust went on to provide an excellent set afterwards. They treated us to an oldie, followed by an improvisation that was infinitely superior to the opener, and included the drummer taking an angle grinder to some sheet metal. This was the first Faust trick to come out of the bag. Then they treated us to a new song, which was pleasingly very good. After this their set comprised of the old, the new, and the improv. At one point two of them started arguing on stage during a song, and it took a while for me to work out that this was part of their act. Unfortunately, writing this nearly 2 weeks after the gig itself, a lot of it has blurred and the things that stand out the most are the last 2 songs of the set (before the encore). The penultimate song was when I realised just how good but dangerous my position in the crowd. With 2 drummers pounding out a repetitive beat, the woman came out into the crowd to do a very bad painting of a face, while - I think it was - Jean-Herve Peron came out to raid a collection that was suddenly at the stage left side of the room. Peron pulled out - I think it was - a drill and started trying to kill a metal bin with it. Then out came a chainsaw. He turned it on, revved it up, and started swinging it around with a bit too much reckless abandon, coming about a foot close to scalping those of us closest to him at this point. This industrial show went on for a bit, ending with Peron carving the words "A NOSE" into a canvas, then getting up on stage to recite a poem about a friend of his who had "Such a grand nose!".
The final song was a rendition of probably their best song, "Krautrock", which was so good it caused at least half the audience to collectively orgasm. This was the Faust cum-shot. This is exactly what we had all been waiting for. That driving bassline, those motorik drums, it starting up again when it seemed like they were going to finish it, the addition of an improvising sax player, pure sex in German music form. The only criticism of it was that they should've done a Shit & Shine and kept if going for about 3 times the length, coz you just did not want this to end. But end it did, and the crowd went apeshit. You really couldn't have asked for too much more from them. The crowd however wanted an encore. They did come out for one, but I didn't stay for it for three reasons:
1) After "Krautrock", I personally didn't need anymore and thought that (first song and a dodgy part of another improvisation that centred around tearing paper aside) they had delivered a near-perfectly complete set that didn't really need any more.
2) I had a return train ticket back to Oxford and was worried that I would miss the last train. As it was I ran at least two-thirds of the on-foot parts of the journey back to Paddington and made my train with 1 minute to spare.
3) They had pulled out every classic trick in the Faust book. I was a little worried they might go one further and pull out the lesser known London Garage '98 trick and tear gas the crowd.

This is the best gig I have been to this year so far. Faust were mostly awesome. No-one beats Shit & Shine tho. Incredible. Best live band ever. I cannot stress that enough.

I think that's it for now.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Apple Unveils 'Thinnest iPod Yet'.

Have you seen this? Apple have made an iPod that's about as thin as 3 communion wafers on top of each other and the world is supposed to collectively jizz itself empty with excitement. I don't wanna harp on like some old bastard, but Jesus when did everything have to become as small as possible?! All micro this and lite that, yes, now a product is only truly marketable if it's easy to lose. It's as if all the companies got together to decide that the only way they can get us all to buy all their essential products - coz fucking God knows we need them all, don't we? - is to make them as small as possible so we won't have any problem storing them all. I personally can't wait for the day that Apple come up with "Disposable iTunes". Yes folks, it's the latest of my million pound ideas. "Disposable iTunes" is basically a cross between iTunes and Wrigleys Extra Thin Ice strips. Basically, you buy a song that prints out as an edible minty strip. You place the strip on yr tongue and as it dissolves in yr mouth the song plays. In your head. Inaudible to the rest of the world, you just hear it playing in yr own head. When the song finishes, that's it. And you have fresh breath.
Come on, that's a fucking awesome idea. Can't find or don't have a song when yer out and about on yr iPod? Just go to a "Disposable iTunes" vendor and for about 20p you can get that song on a cool minty strip just like that. People fucking pay a quid to hear a song on a jukebox in a pub, there is no way they wouldn't pay a fifth of that to hear a song that gives them fresh breath. AND you wouldn't have to put up with some twat singing along badly and getting the words wrong.
And don't even TRY and use the argument that people wouldn't buy them coz they'd get too into the song and look like twats coz no-one could hear what they were hearing. That has never stopped people using hands-free on their mobiles.
"Disposable iTunes". Come on, it's a much better idea than yet another smaller iPod. What's the betting the 5th generation Nano will be 2D? Ridiculous, pointless, and it won't do shit all for yr breath.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Axl's Adventures In The Mediterranean: Part 7

Wed 20th: Sea Day #3.

On our way back to Barcelona everyone had one last chance to go into coma mode and lie in the sun. My day consisted mainly of eating food, playing scrabble, packing my stuff, and writing more notes for these blogs in the open air by the pool while a terrible semi-live calypso band were playing. Oh, and I saw another turtle, which Micaela saw and therefore had to believe me about seeing the first one. On this holiday I rediscovered a love of reading and a love of wearing shorts, although the latter of those died a couple of days after I got back to the UK.
I thought on this day just how much I didn't want to come home. This was the best holiday ever and I had no great desire to have it end. Although it would be nice to see the news. And listen to some music, god it had been about 2 weeks without listening to music (I'm not counting having to hear the awful trash that they piped through in certain areas of the ship. I mean actually choosing to listen to something you want to hear). The only news I knew was that Isaac Hayes had died (which prompted an earlier brief post), the president of Pakistan had resigned, and lots of stuff about the Olympics (Including the fact that Usain Bolt had broken Michael Johnson's 200m world record, which quite frankly I couldn't believe. I remember watching MJ's record on tv years ago and thinking it was pretty much the most amazing thing ever. Hey, I was 15.).

Thur 21st: Going home.

No time for a Barcelona reprise. Straight to the airport and then back to merry old England. What a day to see some news too. Boy, I could've handled one more day, or even a few more hours to see that story! That story being the fact that the previous day there was a plane crash in Spain that killed 150 people. That sure helped my fear of flying. I nearly had a panic attack when we had a rough landing at Heathrow, but managed with a tactic of extreme squeezing of armrests to avoid that embarrassment.

And that was it. Holiday over. There's plenty I've forgotten to mention, stuff to do with being on the ship mostly, but I think you've probably all had enough of reading about this cruise by now. Back to business next blog.

Just in case i didn't say it enough, this was the best fucking holiday EVER!!

Axl's Adventures The Mediterranean: Part 6

Tue 19th: Carthage & A Random Tunisian Village.

Dido went to Tunisia and fell in love with a hill apparently. She branded the place where the hill was "Carthage", and claimed it as her own. What a weirdo.
Today's Carthage is a museum town of Roman ruins. Baths, Amphitheatre, the whole bit. Carthage is still an attractive place, Dido was right, but my memory of it would be much better if we hadn't had to stop at a village I can't remember the name of on the way back to the ship.
See, this was one of the 2 times we went on an organised tour (the other being at Herculaneum), and this included a scheduled hour plus stop in this village.We were told that this was the best place to shop in Tunisia. If that's actually true, I never want to go shopping anywhere in Tunisia ever again. Basically the main street consisted of an uphill outdoor market, and the stereotypes of market traders in this part of the world are all true. They are pushy, unpleasant and reluctant to give you any breathing space. I very quickly learned that if you look at anything for longer than about 2 seconds, it is assumed that you want to buy it and negotiations begin. In about 5 different languages, just to make sure they've got yours. If you're not looking at anything, they will bark things at you like "HALF PRICE IF YOU ARE ENGLISH TODAY!!" (Dammit, I was English yesterday! Why oh why did today have to be Belorussian day?!)
We didn't actually have it that bad. A couple of women were literally being chased down the street by a guy trying to sell them a bracelet.
Virtually all of them sell nothing but total crap too, it's such an off puttingly obvious tourist trap. It's a shame coz once you finally negotiate yer way out the other end, it's a really nice pretty place. beautiful views and architecture, shame that in order to get back to the coach we had to run the gauntlet again.
The fact that we were in this place for over an hour when we were taken thru the places of actual interest in Carthage (especially the Roman bath ruins which were simply stunning, although a little scary as they were right next to a Tunisian army camp and soldiers were walking around with huge guns. I had to stop myself taking a couple of photos for fear I may have been shot. Apparently the army folk don't take too kindly to being photographed round here.) relatively quickly was pretty frustrating and very annoying.
That night we tried our hands at Black Jack again and were far less pleased, losing our money almost instantly. Not so fun. At least last time we'd had a decent go at it. Ah, but that's gambling I suppose. Oh, and the underage kid with his fake ID was back too. We saw him later on getting refused entry into one of the bars which was pretty funny, but I can't seem to properly explain why at the moment.