Thursday, November 30, 2006

Hot Stuff

Yet more lesbian snogging in Torchwood last night. This time it was the turn of Toshiko to get her tongue-twisted by a formidably blonde, blue-eyed, bouncy breasted alien who had the gruesome habit of ripping out the hearts of men who annoyed her. Evidently men were a major turn off for this particular intergalactic filly. Even Captain Jack himself didn’t manage to get a bite of her cosmic cherry - the closest he came to it was being told he smelt different (damn flash Americans with their damn flash aftershave) and being allowed to keep his heart in situ.

There’s so much girl-on-girl action in this show that I’m amazed it’s not been snapped up by one of the many adult TV channels and leads me to wonder if the cast were advised that they’d have to snog absolutely anything with a pulse and/or face and/or orifice as part of their normal acting remit.

All of which is effing great as it drags sci-fi out of the cold, boring realm of geek-dom and into the far more exciting arena of risqué sexual practices and futuristic porno. Which is exactly where it belongs in my book.

Ironically the only character in the show not getting any action at the moment is Jack himself.

Jack himself? Hmm. I’m sure there’s a bad joke in there somewhere...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Casino Royale

N.B. Spoiler warning!

007 pictureKaren and I saw the new Bond movie yesterday and were absolutely blown away by it. Daniel Craig is the best bond in years and in my opinion even gives Sean Connery a run for his money. Anybody who saw Craig’s performance in Layer Cake wouldn’t have had any doubts as to his ability to make the Bond role totally his own… frankly I’ve been amazed at the dissenting and doubting voices which, sensibly, have been very much in the minority.

Craig’s Bond is blond, brutal and cold and for the first time since Connery an uncomfortably dangerous animal. Unusually for the modern Bond we see him kill with his own hands, up close and personal, strangling one enemy to death and drowning another in a sink basin. There are no deaths by ridiculous gadgetry in this film. When Bond fights his style is economic and purely functional – and far more believable than the idiotically suave Moore or the choreographed automaton of Brosnan. There’s a coldness about Craig which suits the role perfectly – the coldness of emotional armour not of disinterest and this distinction is important. The latter would displace him too much from the audience’s emotional radar. As it is we connect with Bond and root for him but are pushed away from him in the same way that he keeps the other characters in the film at arm’s length. And of course we react in the same way. The more we are kept at bay by Bond’s emotional armour the more compelled we are to stay close to him and urge him on. Craig’s Bond has something that’s been sadly lacking in most Bond’s since Connery: charisma and true magnetism.

The action sequences are impressive and gritty without resorting to the usual Bond-esque extravaganza of trashing absolutely everything in camera shot and the humour is richly dark and adds to the blackness rather than undercuts it – the scene where Bond is tortured by villain Le Chiffre is a case in point. You will shift uncomfortably in your seat as you watch it.

There’s plenty of eye-candy for both sexes – Craig’s blond good looks complimented by the brunette fulsomeness of both Caterina Murino as Solange and Eva Green as Vesper Lynd. Even Dame Judi Dench as M manages to smoulder – not bad for a woman old enough to be drawing a pension!

Although the plot sometimes lacks truly unexpected twists the direction is good enough to make every second of the film satisfying nonetheless. Even though we know that ultimately Vesper Lynd is going to die her death scene is still shockingly disturbing and horrific – we watch her drown with an intensity that is somehow very intimate and affecting. We know that Bond’s revenge is going to be suitably unforgiving and magnificent and this sets us up rather nicely for the next instalment…

And I for one hope that it won’t be too long before it reaches our cinema screens.

Welcome back Mr Bond.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Taking It On The Chin

Marian in scarfOk. I’ll admit it. The BBC’s Robin Hood is slowly growing on me (like lichen on tree bark). I still have issues with the show’s propensity for extravagant anachronisms but slowly decent plots are beginning to shape up and the characters are being given room to develop and drive the show forward.

Last night was a case in point. Having discovered that Gisbourne had tried to kill the King in the Holy Hand (highly dubious, I know) in an assassination attempt that left Robin seriously wounded (cue several bouts of post traumatic stress disorder… i.e. bad dreams) Robin set about making Gisbourne pay and gave him a right royal kicking in the forest. Robin actually got – dare I say it – quite nasty.

And was all the better for it. I hate to say it but making Robin a politically correct moralist – though an admirable quality in itself – has totally hamstrung his heroic capabilities. In real life pacifism is good sense, sanity and commendable reason. In action-drama it is pointless, fruitless and a complete disaster. Pacifism and action-drama do not mix!

Giving Robin and Guy an extra reason to loathe and hate each other can only be a good thing. It ups the ante. Makes the conflict more personal, bitter and brutal. This can only be a bonus for future plot and character development.

Making them rivals for Marian’s affections only adds petrol to the blaze. Good show! Some emotional action at last!

I may even end up a fan.

Incidentally my mate Tris has cast vicious aspersions that Marian’s hormonal make-up may have exceeded the testosterone levels of most normal women, identifying her impressively large chin as evidence… now that would be one hell of a plot-twist: Marian more of a guy than Guy! And Guy’s predilection for bad leather apparel would suggest that maybe Guy is gay… So if Marian is guy and Guy is gay who the hell is taking care of Little John?

Merry men indeed.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Uncle Bulgaria 5 – 1 Odds On

Just been flicking through the current issue of Viz Magazine (as is my wont) and happened across what I think is one of the funniest composite pictures of all time. Grotesque horse racing pundit John McCririck restyled as Uncle Bulgaria from The Wombles...

John McCririck as Uncle Bulgaria

Uncannily accurate.

Incidentally, Karen and I have a theory that John McCririck is covered by a coarse fur of matted red hair and has a belly button like a ginger tom’s arsehole.

Just thought I’d share that with you.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Another 15 Minutes Of Fame

Gosh. I’m doing well in terms of getting my name into The Courier this year.

Poring through today’s edition I see I managed to achieve a “highly commended” runner-up position in their recent haiku competition – the subject being “fireworks”.

Here for your edification (and my self-aggrandizement) is the poem:

As a month’s wages
rocket skywards in blue smoke
all the kids explode...

Aerial Suicide

TV Aerial pictureThe UK campaign to upgrade every household in the country to digital TV reception produced its first casualty this morning.

At approximately 3.0 am our – already damaged as the result of a past illicit pigeon-shagging incident – decided that it would rather jump than wait to be pushed. We awoke to the eerie sound of stressed metal screaming as it threw itself off the chimney stack and into the gutter.

Or rather into the guttering.

I guess the fact that we’ve already been watching cable for the last 3 years so have no need to upgrade was little comfort. It knew its days of snowstorm TV reception were numbered. Better by far to descend earthwards in a last self-actualizing bid for glory.

When the rag-and-bone man comes next week the sound of his rusty hunting horn will be a fitting tribute to past services rendered.

Goodbye old friend. We salute you.

Now what’s on Sky One tonight?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I’m Never Gonna Dance Again

Bunions pictureIt’s official. I have abnormal feet.

Persistent pain in the foot I injured a few weeks ago - plus since Sunday new pain inexplicably in my other foot (making the original injury seem like light relief) - forced a return to the doctor’s this morning in an attempt to get to the root of the problem. I mean I’m hobbling about like an old man and am in constant pain. It’s getting ridiculous.

Anyway a brand new surgery meant a brand new doctor (I won’t bore you with the mundane details just accept that I’ve changed my doctor for utterly no controversial reasons at all) and this brand new doctor was certainly on the ball.

Of my foot, in fact.

It seems I’m suffering from hallux valgus resulting in metatarsalgia.

Basically my feet are foobarred.

To paraphrase my doc: the bio-mechanics of my feet are not right resulting in incorrect and ineffective load bearing capacity, bunions, calluses, a lot of pain and worst of all toes that are being pushed outwards and upwards causing cross-overs and yet another obstacle to walking correctly and without pain.

No chance of a quick fix then?

Nope. None at all. I have to see an Orthopaedic specialist at the local hospital (which could take up to 4 months to arrange), buy "orthaheel" insoles and ultimately will have to face surgery if I "still want to be active in 10 year’s time..." In the same breath my doc also warned me that foot operations are not to be entered into lightly as they are invariably very painful and the recovery time is both painful and long. However that option could be years away as yet.

Oh great. At least it won’t spoil Christmas then.

Sigh.

It seems my dancing days are over.

And my chances of winning the London marathon are much reduced...

And for those of you that bothered to follow the links above and read the resulting information: NO I DO NOT WEAR HIGH HEELS!

I've always preferred granny slippers...

Monday, November 20, 2006

Death Wish

What’s in a letter?

Picture the scene if you will... it’s Friday afternoon, it’s 30 minutes before knocking-off time, you’re tired, you’re bored and you’re desperate to finish off the last of your work and head home for the weekend...

All you have to do is email your department manager with some info he has requested - in this case an inventory of building equipment - and then you’re almost in the home stretch and can practically taste the free air of the weekend.

You begin to compose the email. You don’t want to appear too informal - he is after all the big boss of your department. Clearly "Hi Dale" is too chatty, too casual for what is after all a very slight but very formal working relationship. "Dear Dale" is much the safer option. Respectful, full of old style reverence and it can’t possibly offend anybody.

Unfortunately you’re so tired and eager to get away from the office that your typing skills are on the skids. An innocent finger slip - unnoticed in your haste to leave the grind of the workplace - substitutes the "r" for a "d"... and suddenly instead of "Dear Dale" your email begins "Dead Dale".

But you don’t notice until... Oh God. It’s been sent. And there’s no way to recall it.

You slope off home hoping that the famed dyslexia of this particular section boss will perhaps render the faux pas unnoticed...

Unfortunately you arrive at work this grey Monday morning to find a print-out of Friday’s email placed in the middle of your desk with the mistyped word highlighted big and large in bright red marker pen with a massive exclamation mark beside it...

What do you do now?

Keep your head down and hope the incident is soon lost amongst the normal flotsam of the day and make a vow never to rely solely on the spellchecker to pick up your typing errors ever again?

Or meet conspicuously with black suited Italian businessmen at lunchtime and make good the veiled threat?

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Borat Pack

Borat pictureKaren and I made the most of a rare day off work together this week by visiting the local cinema to see the new Sacha Baron Cohen movie, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.

It was an interesting experience (the film that is, not going to the cinema with Karen... though of course that IS always interesting... in a totally good way I mean, oh God, moving swiftly onwards...) as the film veered adeptly from uncomfortable scatological slapstick to discomfortingly subtle satire. Despite the shallowness of the Borat persona he was nevertheless an effective vehicle for the film’s many weighty and often poignant themes.

My favourite scene was when Borat was invited to share a meal and experience the niceties of Southern etiquette by attending a small dinner party organized by some of Atlanta’s social elite in the presence of the local preacher. After pointedly excusing himself to visit the toilet facilities Borat, feigning total ignorance of western bathroom protocol, reappeared some minutes later armed with his freshly produced stool daintily contained inside a plastic bag and asked the hostess where he should put it.

Weirdly the reaction of the inanely grinning hostess to this bottom-based faux pas was one of serenity and calmness - one might even say one of motherly indulgence - as she led Borat back upstairs and patiently explained how we in the West go about disposing of our bum-fruit and the various intricacies of the post-poo undercarriage clean-up operation.

Yet as soon as Borat invited a black hooker into the house to be his dinner companion all hell broke loose. The preacher - poker faced to within an inch of being a statue for much of the evening anyway - immediately stormed out leaving his aghast wife behind him and the no longer grinning hostess ordered Borat and his date to leave the premises without further ado and informed him that the police authorities were being called.

Amazing.

It’s important to note that the hooker wasn’t naked or swearing. She wasn’t making any lewd suggestions. There was utterly no soliciting at all and she was better mannered than Borat.

Conclusion:

It seems it’s fine to wave a hardening turd around when attending a dinner party in the deep South but if you bring a woman into the house whose only crime is to dress like a streetwalker - and a black one at that - then you can expect to be chased out of town, arrested and perhaps even lynched - with the local clergy brandishing the biggest pitchforks.

It seems respectability and respect for others (regardless of social class) are mutually exclusive concepts in American polite society...

Hmm.

America, something stinks...

...and it sure as hell ain't my bag...

Pocketropolis.com Is Back

Churchill V For VictoryDone it!

Up yours Web-Warehouse!

Finally after much emailing and document swapping, after numerous faxes and photocopying of "Government issue photographic IDs", after much wrangling with various US based domain name registrars and complaining to www.icann.org... finally www.pocketropolis.com has been fully reactivated and placed totally back under my control.

Full victory has at last been achieved.

I realize this news won’t mean diddly-squat to anybody else but me but I am crowing loudly enough about it this morning to want to share it with the whole world. It is the attainment of the glorious cup of success that I’ve long been thirsting for. And proof positive that perseverance in the face of big anonymous companies can sometimes get you what you are striving for.

On a more sober note I have to say that this experience has taught me how little protection there is for the "little guy" on the World Wide Web... but it’s nice to acknowledge the positive role that www.icann.org played in this particular mini drama. Cheers guys... whatever you did nudged certain somebodies in the right direction and got things moving...

My world is now as it should be.

Sigh.


Fix bayonet. On with business...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Rat Race And Call-Girls

I’ve spent the last two days back at work as my foot, though still twitchy, is much improved. I was quite expecting to be assailed by a huge feeling of depression as I re-entered the rat race after two weeks of relative luxury / torture watching Loose Women on TV (sadly not a fly-on-the-wall expose on UK houses of ill repute) but instead was surprised to find my return to the real world accompanied by a sense of exhilaration and even enjoyment.

It seems I must on some level enjoy being occupied… even if it is with the usual cavalcade of bureaucratic crapness that infests my job like pubic lice in an East End call-girl’s knickers.

Hey back to loose women again! No wonder the re-adjustment was so smooth.

One question though:

Does this mean I’m the "pimp-daddy" for the local council?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Broken TV Aerial

Obese pigeon pictureLast night Karen and I suffered the singularly peculiar experience of being woken up at 3am by our TV aerial clanging against itself in the wind.

We noticed it was broken a couple of weeks ago when by chance we forewent the usual televisual hogwash on cable and switched to good old terrestrial telly… and found that the reception on all channels resembled Channel 5 on a good night (international readers of this blog won’t have the foggiest what I’m talking about - let’s all savour the smugness of knowing something that they don’t…).

A quick sojourn out to the front garden revealed that our TV aerial was nigh on snapped in half and dangling down like the guest of honour at a bah-mitzvah.

How such a thing can have occurred when every other TV aerial in the street is flying stiff and correct at the horizontal, I don’t know. My only theory is that our aerial was singled out by an amorous pair of immensely obese pigeons who proceeded to go at it hammer and tongues on our "roof-top antenna love-pad" and wrecked the poor thing to within an inch of it falling off the roof in total embarrassment and disgust.

Now on windy nights our street resounds to the forlorn clanging of multi pronged metal bashing itself against its own up-stand…

…and we’re going to have to pay some poor sap a few hundred pounds to go up on a ladder, fix the bloody thing and wipe it free of pigeon spunk.

Marvellous.

A Cardigan Too Far

Lucy Griffith's as MarianGiven that I watch it religiously every week I must find some virtue in the BBC’s new rendition of the Robin Hood legend… even though as regular readers of this blog will know, I’ve been giving it some major stick over the past weeks.

Last night’s episode (the awfully named "The Taxman Cometh") was full of the usual batch of horrendously jarring anachronisms that are fast becoming the show’s motif…

There was a huge sewer system that enabled Robin and Much to escape Nottingham Castle. I mean, come on! They did NOT have sewers in 11th Century England. They had midden heaps, bogs and in the worst case scenario the castle moat. Modern town planning complete with systems of waste removal did not come into being until nigh on 700 years later (correct me if I’m wrong).

Worst of all though (and this is a shame because I think Lucy Griffiths' Marian is the best thing in the show) was Marian’s costume. God knows the costume department are offloading more than a fair share of the clothing inaccuracies onto Lucy’s (broad but shapely) shoulders but this week they just went a step too far.

Marian was gamely sporting a rather fetching looking yellow cardigan that not only was plainly bought "off the shelf", it was also patently, blatantly machine knitted.

Now I know Marian represents the privileged Old Saxon aristocracy in this time period but even so I didn’t realise the old English nobility had full access to Jaeger and Monsoon

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Nexus Of Accountability

I guess it’s reassuring to note that the recent sentencing of Saddam Hussein to death by hanging hasn’t been enough to sway the American voting public to shore up the subsiding Bush administration during the recent US mid-term elections. It seems our American friends have got some sense after all.

I do wonder though if their disapproval of Bush (and, by implication, their disapproval of the US led war in Iraq) isn’t so much down to ethical discomforts (the complete invasion and destruction of a sovereign country by an aggressive foreign power, thousands of Iraqis maimed, dead and dying daily) as the fact that so many US soldiers (and British, don’t forget) are regularly losing their lives upholding a campaign that is to all intents and purposes flailing about uselessly without any of its primary objectives being achieved.

I’m sure most Americans would be joyously backing Bush to the hilt if the campaign had been an all-out success (no matter what the cost in human life - Iraqi as well as American) and Iraq had become a Middle Eastern province of US style democracy.

As it is, I’m sure the average Joe Yank is currently scratching his head in a very confused fashion wondering why – if might is right – they haven’t got the war won? Why given their immense fire power and military resources they are still absurdly waving their pudgy arms about trying to swat a bunch of flies that are still incessantly biting them on the arse…

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Axis Of Guilt

Saddam and GeorgeWith miraculous good timing Saddam Hussein is sentenced to death by hanging a couple of days before the US mid-term elections. What a lucky man George W Bush is. Vindication right when he needs it.

While Saddam Hussein has undoubtedly committed the grossest atrocities against humanity and deserves to be brought to account it’s difficult not to react with some cynicism to the way this trial has been conducted. The whole thing has been a circus at best and a fully choreographed farce at worst.

The sentence of course has always been a foregone conclusion. Guilty. And nobody would argue against it.

But if we’re going to start dolling out righteous punishments for those who commit "crimes against humanity" then we need to be more even-handed and wider ranging in terms of where and on whom we set our sights.

When sentence was being delivered there was room in that dock for a few more people…

All of them politicians. Some of them "world leaders".

Saturday, November 04, 2006

My Left Foot

I’ve actually spent the last 5 days at home having been signed off by the doctor due to my pathetic bottom-rung ladder accident as reported here a couple of weeks ago. The doctor’s prognosis was “fore foot sprain” (as opposed to a “four foot sprain” which would have sounded far more impressive) and he prescribed some industrial strength painkillers to dull the agony and sagely recommended that I keep off my feet as much as possible for the next 7 days.

Which I have done as much as I have been able but a return visit yesterday resulted in me being signed off for another week and an appointment for physio made on my behalf via Warwick Hospital. All sounds rather grand and cool, doesn’t it? A workplace based injury. White coated experts fingering every nook and cranny (on my foot that is) and humming to themselves in concerned tones…

If only. The trouble is my injury isn’t cool at all. I stepped awkwardly of the bottom rung of a medium sized ladder for God’s sake! It wasn’t like I fell 150ft into a roiling vat of female pop singers. Worst of all, although the sprain is healing slowly my toes have gone into “spasm”… which means they’ve locked themselves into a position where they’re pointing upwards making me wonder if (pardon the un-PC-ness of this next outburst) “spasm” isn’t short for “spaz mode”. Anyway, the result of all this is that I am unable to walk properly or without pain and because my toes aren’t functioning properly my foot is beginning to turn inwards when I walk. Hence the physio.

I’ve been medically removed from the workplace due to the effects of toe spasm.

I mean really!

No jokes about foot jobs please.

Pocketropolis News

As some of you will have noticed www.pocketropolis.com has been off the air now for the best part of three weeks. My attempts to recover it continue apace. Without going into the nitty-gritty Web Warehouse (the current hosts) have continued to be totally incommunicative leaving me to go it alone in figuring out a solution. Emailing the various US based registrars that Web Warehouse do business with merely resulted in the usual game of informational ping-pong whereby I was pushed from pillar to post and back again until, finally, an email sent to www.icann.org flagging the problem finally produced some concrete results. In response to this a Registrar in America (who I won’t name) then sent me a form to fill in which should - in a week or two - hopefully see www.pocketropolis.com placed completely back under my control.

I will keep you posted.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Trick Or Treat?

Am I the only person in this country who finds Trick Or Treating abhorrent? Please tell me I’m not.

Look I realize I’m fast gaining the reputation of someone whose sole pleasure in life is humbugging the innocent pastimes of other people but personally I feel that the concept and practise of Trick Or Treating is inherently criminal.

It’s begging. With menaces.

Extortion in other words.

Fair play to Warwickshire Police for bringing in an £80 fine for nuisance Trick Or Treaters, I say.

Bah humbug!

Ok. Ok. I admit that Trick Or Treating is mostly just meant to be harmless fun and to be honest the majority of the kids out on the street last night were accompanied by a responsible adult (invariably dressed in a witch’s costume made from old bin liners) but the simple fact is we got hassled 7 times yesterday evening by gangs of kids demanding sweets. 7 times! Karen and I were both shattered yesterday evening and all we wanted to do was kick back, eat and watch TV in the comfort of our own home without having to get up and answer the door every ten minutes. Instead we had the doorbell rang, the door knocked, the letterbox rapped and – most invasive of all – the living room window banged loudly upon by a load of wretched little ghouls with a collective sweet tooth.

Needless to say the front door remained shut and any chocolate that was in the house remained firmly in my possession. I don’t spend a fortune at Sainsbury’s every week to feed other people’s kids a load of gack! I mean what do people expect? Yeah – sure – come in and take the food of my table / the money out of my wallet, etc, I don’t mind.

Why the hell should I feel obliged to slip a Mars bar to some speccy-eyed Playstation-dazed geek from up the street who in ten years time will be coming home from the pub bladdered and taking a slash in my front garden?

The whole concept is thoroughly distasteful and infuriates me.

Mostly though my biggest concern last night was my granddad. 86 and partially sighted he goes into panic mode when anybody knocks at his door during daylight hours - let alone when it’s gangs of kids out on the cadge at night – because he can never see who it is. The thought of him – and every other OAP – being scared to death by sugared-up rowdy gangs of kids in skeleton masks demanding sweets turns my stomach.

Harmless "innocent" fun?

I don't think so.