Thursday, 28 January 2010

Look Around You

Right, come on, brain, you know how this works. Take everyday minutiae of day-to-day life, mix in overly wordy writing style, add self-deprecating comments and publish. Work with me here, give me something.

No? OK, then let's see if I can jumpstart this thing. Look around, look around. What's nearby? Plastic bag containing detritus of lunch (mildly unpleasant but strangely filling chicken and bacon pasta, packet of roast ox flavour crisps*, empty Coke bottle). Nope, not much in the way of inspiration there.

OK, what else is in the immediate environs? Two mobile phones** sitting in their little foam sofa-shaped mobile phone holders - the black phone on the white sofa and the silver phone on the black sofa. And not the other way round. That's just the way it is. Don't switch them. If you switch them , I'll just have to...switch them back. You've gotta have a system.

Well, nothing there, really. Keep looking, keep looking... Work colleagues? No, I don't think the world is ready to have the full horror that is my employed cohorts unleashed upon it. Best leave them be, cages unrattled.

Telly? Nah, everyone's got a telly and it's not showing much worth talking about at the moment. The sounds down but it appears to be two men digging a field followed by a selection of vox pops with old dears sporting purple rinses. That'll be the local news then. Someone'll be indignant about something, no doubt some business plan for an area previously untouched by business-style planning. I know, with that level of insight, I could be a journalist.

Well, I guess, yet again, that I don't really have anything to say. Maybe I shouldn't post a blog today...

* I don't eat a lot of roast ox - surprising, I know, given the many similarities between my good self and Henry VIII - and I'm betting that the makers of these crisps are banking on their consumers being unfamiliar enough with the flavour of roast ox to get away with basically renaming beef crisps something a bit more fancy sounding.

** Nope, I'm not so popular that I need to two phones to cope with demand. One of them only rings when people want me to do work-related stuff. It's like a regular phone but less fun.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Review - Zombieland

In a nutshell:- Proving there's life (aha ha) in the zomcom yet...

The Basics:- The zombie apocalypse as arrived and nerdy Columbus meets borderline-psychotic Tallahassee (no names, it's not worth getting attached) to make his way through the deadly landscape. Columbus has only survived due to his strict adherence to The Rules and Tallahassee is a man on a mission - he searching for that elusive Twinkie...

The Good:- Right from the word go, it's funny and stylish with the zombies treated as a serious threat but the humour arising from the characters reactions to the situation. The cast are uniformly good but the real standout is Woody Harrelson who appears to be having the time of his life as Tallahassee. I have to say that I think Harrelson's an underrated comic actor - he's usually good value for money. There are a few belly laughs in there and a couple of nice gross-out moments. Oh, and an appearance that is great and would be spoilt if talked about...

The Bad:- OK, so it feels slightly like it's treading slightly similar ground to the superior Shaun Of The Dead but it's got enough of it's own identity to stop it feeling like a carbon copy. Also, it still features those occasional lapses of logic - you're in a country overrun by zombies; would you really turn on the lights and music at a funfair thus acting as a giant beacon for all the undead in the area? I bloody wouldn't! But these are minor niggles, really - the sort of disbelief you can suspend if you've come this far.

The Verdict:- It's a good, fun film and definitely worth a watch. Apparently, it was originally pitched as a pilot for a TV series (and, thinking about it, it does feel a little bit like the first of many) so apparently we can expect potentially many a sequel. I have to say, I'd be happy to spend another hour and a half in Zombieland...

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Never-ending Search

The quest is eternal and never-ending. Even when not the pressing business of the day, always it is lurking there at the back of the mind. The mind is forever probing and searching, pondering alternates and conjuring up new possibilities from the existing information. There must be a way, there must be a way, there must be a way - the unchanging litany that has echoed across the brain on and on through the years. For man must always consider that question to which he craves the ultimate answer:- how do I shave those extra few minutes of my commute?

I've been a commuter now for more than a third of my life* and am a lifelong user of public transport so, in my mind, there's always a mental tube/train map that's trying to the quickest route across London. Because, by whatever means you choose, by whichever means you travel and however far you're going, getting across London takes a minimum of an hour. It doesn't seem to matter where or how, your minimum travel time is an hour.

It's not just about the quickest route, either. Over time, you begin to develop your own personal set of criteria which the perfect journey must meet. It also has to have the least number of changes. It has to be by these methods of transport in order of preference:- train, tube, bus, DLR (the toy train). Plus a whole heap of other tiny little preferences that are slowly added in to the quest to find that perfect public transport journey.

It's a hopeless windmill-tilting quest, of course. The idea of a perfect public transport journey is a thing of mythical proportions. I'll still keep searching, though. Like winning the lottery, one day, it could happen...

* That's not a fun stat that makes you feel all fuzzy and cosy. That's a lot of bottled up annoyance and resentment, simmering away on a daily basis...

Friday, 22 January 2010

Review - Inglourious Basterds

Warning - here be spoilers!

In a nutshell:- Tarantino turns to old-fashioned war films for inspiration this time with mixed results.

The Basics:- It's a film that Quentin Tarantino has been threatening to make for about 14 years, every time he's been interviewed about what's coming up next after Pulp Fiction so there's already a weight of expectation there. It's his tribute to the war film and in particular the Italian war films which were shot much in the same as spaghetti westerns (one of which - Inglorious Bastards with the proper spelling - it takes it's name from; supposedly a markedly different plot though). The film a squad of Jewish Allied soldiers fighting their way through Germany and of a plot to assassinate Hitler centred around a French cinema.

The Good:- It has, as you would come to expect, a sense of style about it and moments of the same sort of bleakly violent humour that you'd come to expect from Tarantino. Also, his trademark use of music he has a personal fondness for is still present. The performances are generally good with the standout performance going to Christoph Waltz as Col. Hans Landa, the over-the-top SS Colonel.

The Bad:- It contains at least three major scenes, including the opening scene, which go on for far longer than they need to. I appreciate that he's trying to build dramatic tension in those scenes but he drags them out far past the point of tension and, as such, loses it. He could comfortably trim about 30 minutes out of the film and it would be a much more satisfying experience. Also, it just feels a bit simplistic with the whole concept of a Jewish revenge squad. It becomes apparent, too, by the end of the film that this doesn't bear any relation to history as we know it, making it a sort of alternate reality film and, as that's not how it's presented from the start, it feels a bit odd.

The Verdict:- It may seem from the above that I didn't enjoy it. Not so, I did enjoy it but with the reservations mentioned above. It's slightly too slow for what it is and it's got an ending that feels strange and somehow a little bit like cheating. I'm glad I watched it but I'm not a hundred percent sure if I'd recommend it. And that's about all I can say about it. On the plus side, it was nowhere near as boring as Death Proof, I guess.

Thursday, 21 January 2010


It's been around for some time. It's certainly not a new thing. However, it definitely seems to be gaining more and more popularity and I'm not overly convinced that's necessarily a good thing. The problem? A disease afflicting TV and film which shall be henceforth known as prequelitis.

The disease tends to rear it's ugly head when you have a successful property or franchise that has reached a very definite ending. The problem? Well, how do you make more films / episodes when all the characters have found a happy ending / been hideously slaughtered (delete as applicable)? Simple. You go back and fill in all those little gaps that really didn't actually need filling in the first place.

The most famous example of this is, of course, Mr George Lucas with the Star Wars prequels but they've been discussed often enough so let's just take those as read. He's by no means the only offender. Peter Jackson, now faced with trying to follow up his massively successful Lord Of The Rings trilogy, is now producing a two-film adaptation of Tolkien's earlier work, The Hobbit. Following the stalling of the X-Men franchise with the reasonably awful X-Men: The Last Stand, we've been presented with the clunkily titled X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Exorcist: The Beginning, Cube Zero, Ring Zero - all have gone back to the start to do their bit. In TV terms, Star Trek: Enterprise went where pretty much everyone had gone before and we have Caprica going back to the worlds of Battlestar Galactica before they were destroyed in the opening episode. And soon, back to the big screen, we have upcoming prequels to both The Thing and Alien (supposedly to be directed by Ridley Scott himself) to fill in more of those details that nobody was clamouring for.

And therein lies the problem. Dramatic tension. Who cares? Really, you know ultimately what's going to happen to all of these worlds so why you should really care about these extra, almost superfluous details. I don;t need to know the origin of the alien space pilot from the crashed spaceship in Alien - it's much cooler being a massive mysterious presence. And yet, I know what I'm like. I'll end up watching some of these things and I'll end up with the inevitable sense of disappointment that comes from knowing how it all will ultimately play out.

You're never going to get a surprise ending to a prequel or some sudden unexpected character development because, by definition, the end of a prequel has to fit into the beginning of the original story so you always know where you're going to end up. That's not to say that is no enjoyment to be had in a prequel, it's just that, for me, it's almost always going to be dramatically limited.

That doesn't mean that there isn't the odd success story. J.J Abrams' prequel / sequel / reboot of Star Trek was a real winner but these are few and far between and definitely the exception to the (increasing) norm.
For the most part, give us something new. If a story's done, move on to a new one.

Mind you, we're also overly fond of trilogies these days but that's another topic...

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Written Warning

Dear Brain,

We've had some happy times together, you and I. Oh, how the days have just flown past - thinking about stuff, maybe imagining things or even just using the visual and even auditory cortex to process the constant stream of information. Breathing, eating, going to the gentleman's room - all good fun. OK, I could probably live with processing sensory input in the form of pains and aches but, you know, you've got to take the rogue with the smooth in any relationship.

Unfortunately, my dear little grey matter, I'm having to write this missive to you. There was a time when you used to fire away those little neurons with topics of interest to captivate my attention and provide me with blogtacular ammunition. Of late, however, you have been letting me down and leaving me sadly underperforming in the blog department. And no ones likes an underperforming blog.

I like you, brain, I really do. You enable me to understand concepts such as "like" and "brain" and "cheese" * but unless you pick up your game really soon, you and me are going to have quite the falling out. Consider this your written warning.

All the best,

* And where would we be without cheese? Nowhere, that's where.

Monday, 18 January 2010

And A-One And A-Two And A-One, Two, Three...

You see, it's always the way. You set your mind to doing something and the brain steadfastly refuses to co-operate. "I see what you're trying to do," says the brain, "but I'm not particularly interested in going along with it."

"Come on, brain," say I, "you're beginning to make me, and therefore by extension yourself, look foolish."

"Well, you do all the hard work, then, see how you like it for a change", reply the little grey cells.

"Fine, I will," rejoinder I, immediately gasping for breath as my autonomic system is switched off and I wonder how you make your lungs do that whole breathing thing...

Which is yet another roundabout way of saying that I have nowt to bang on about yet again. Maybe I could tell you something about the splendour that is me that you may not already now. Let's see, lets' see. I have a beard? Nope, covered. Quite like films? May well have mentioned that once or twice. Slightly thin up top in the hair department? Well, not a lot more to note on that.

Have I talked about my musicality? What musicality, I hear you ask. Well, precisely. I'm about as musical as a large lump of mature cheddar. But once, I had an inkling that I may be of a musical nature...

As with many children, I was offered the opportunity at school to take up an instrument. I could have chosen anything really - piano, trumpet, a nice quiet drum kit. For some reason lost in the mists of time, these were not the instruments that appealed. No, for some unfathomable reason, the musical instrument which I decided was the one for me to learn was.... the clarinet.

I will say that I did succeed in making it produce noise. Where I failed was in making it produce noise that anyone or anything with ears would want to listen to. The succession of reed-splitting squeaks, squawks and squeals which issued from the business end of said device wold give the word "cacophony" a bad name.

Maybe I should have picked something easier. Maybe the clarinet just wasn't the instrument I was suited to. Or maybe music and I should remain respectful of each others boundaries and agree to admire each other from afar. I suspect it's the latter...

There you go, brain, I didn't need you after all. Thbpbpbpt.*

* That's the sound of a small raspberry being blown, in case you were wondering.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Review - The Fantastic Mr Fox

In A Nutshell:- Fun and lively update of the classic Roald Dahl tale.

The Basics:- Based on the 1970 Roald Dahl classic and brought to the screen by writer/ director Wes Anderson (of Royal Tennenbaums / The Life Aquatic fame), this stop-motion animation tells the tale of Mr Fox, who is tempted out of a life of straight living, and his war against the three meanest farmers around, Boggis, Bunce and Bean.

The Good:- Unusually, by keeping only some of the very basics of the story (Mr Fox vs. the farmers, tail blown off, digging to escape) and spinning it out into a more involved tale, the film really succeeds - always a risky gamble with an adaptation of a beloved book. The animation is great. I'm a sucker for stop-motion animation anyway but there's a really charming to whole film that's extremely appealing. It's still very much a trademark Wes Anderson film dealing with a dysfunctional family as do his other films but is none the worse off for it. As Mr Fox himself, George Clooney provides an extremely likable performance and is ably supported by an equally fine supporting cast, including Wes Anderson regulars such as Bill Murray, Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman.

The Bad:- If you're not overly a fan of Anderson's work then there's a possibility you may it not to your tastes but really I can't think of much bad to say about it as I enjoyed it from start to finish. The only thing that seemed slightly jarring was the use of the word "cuss" to replace what were obviously meant to some pretty strong swearwords - it seemed a little out of place for a children's film.

The Verdict:- A children's film that has just as much appeal for adults, it's definitely one that is destined to be regarded as a classic. It's also that rarest of beasts - an adaptation that diverges from the source material and is all the better for it. If you haven't already, give it a watch. Highly recommended.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

English Peanuts

Yep, it's the weekend and there's no bugger around on a Saturday so here are the opening titles to The Perishers (featuring the voice of Leonard Rossiter at the end there...), a kind of UK version of Charlie Brown...

Friday, 15 January 2010


*scratch, scratch, scratch*

As contemplation begins, the customary stroking of the hairy growth around the chin area that men are wont to call a beard begins. Inspiratory technique is begun. The eyes roam around the surroundings, in search of a suitable target. No target acquired. The fingers cease their chinny caress.

*huuuuuuuummmmmmmm, whhhhiiiiinnnnnneee*

The sound of beard scratching is gone and all that remains is the noise of a gently idling computer, undisturbed by writerly motions and notions.

*clunk, clunk, rustle, clunk, squeak, squeak*

The guinea pigs are on the move. Their regular abode abandoned during the wintery weather, they begin their nocturnal ramblings in the indoor sanctum.

*rattleclatter, clink, clink*

It's programme complete, somewhere in the kitcheny region, the dishwasher is divulging it's culinary-catching and creating paraphernalia. Their surfaces shiny and rinsed, they are being returned once more to their cupboard-based depths to lurk in darkness until hunger calls.


A metaphorical noise. Inspiration strikes. Also metaphorically otherwise it would have shortly been accompanied by the sound "ow". The fingers flex and poise. They are ready. The dance begins...

*click clack click clack click clack click clack click clack....*

Thursday, 14 January 2010


I have nothing but admiration for people who can write creatively to a deadline for a living. It takes a certain kind of mindset to be able to come up with something entertaining, moving, funny or touching when the clock is ticking. For the fourth day in a row, I find myself with not really a lot to say for myself and feeling very much like I've exhausted the brain reservoir.

I could talk about my second driving lesson (which was postponed due to the large amount of cold, snowy, iciness which lay deep and crisp and even round these here parts) but there's not really a lot of import or interest to impart. I drove around a bit, stalled it twice and didn't get flustered when people were (probably rather impatiently) waiting behind me. Hey, I'm the one learning. They can wait for me to get it right. They had to learn once...

I could talk about my day at work but I don't really talk about the job on here. Personally, I don't think it's overly professional to discuss the ins-and-outs of your working life in a public forum. Oh sure, if my actual paid work involved something I created and personally profited from than you can absolutely be assured that I would pimp the blinking flip out of it at every possible opportunity (everyone bought a copy of my film yet?).

I could talk about my upcoming day off but Driving Lesson No.3 And The Assisting Of The Gorgeous Girlfriend With Her Tax Return is somehow not convincing me that it would be the stuff of bloggy legend.

So why am I bothering to post something if I don't have anything to post? Because I'm a stubborn little so-and-so and I've decided to get back to daily posting. Even if that means you get absolutely flip all in the way of any actual content. Which also means that you've read all the way down to the bottom of the post here and it doesn't even have a proper ending. It just stops. Here.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Who-ku? I-ku...

The page, like the snow,
Lies all blank and crisp and white.
Is this just cheating?

Tuesday, 12 January 2010


Truly, it was a thing of beauty. Fully formed, it sat there, resplendent in it's fullyformitude. Coherent and lucid, being possessed of the holy trinity of a beginning, a middle and an end, it was that wondrous thing - the complete idea for the day's blog post. Oh sure, it wasn't 100% complete. It was up for a little bit of mulling and possibly even pondering as I commuted from business-like London Bridge to snowy, downtown Hither Green but it was there and it certainly had the feeling of...well, not necessarily a corker but most definitely heading into doozy territory.

And then, like the melting snow on the station platform*, it was gone, floating away into the ether because I had been stupid enough to not pin it down via the medium of words and the nib of a pen to the pages of my notebook. I mean, I always carry a notebook with me and what's the point in that if you're not going to write in it, eh? (No, no, don't answer, it was rhetorical and I can't hear you anyway so you might look a little foolish just talking to some words on a screen.) In fact, I actually carry two notebooks and yet singularly failed to put anything into either. And now I don't even have a hint of a glimmer of glimpse as to what the blinking flip it was all about. Nothing. Not a sausage.

Moral of today's story? Write it down, Nick, you insufferable nincompoop.

Moral of today's story II? On the plus side, you can get yet another blog out of not having a blog to write. It's kind of stretched beyond a theme now and into the realms of the ridiculous, quite frankly.

* Yeah, I know I whinged yesterday about the constant snow references I'm getting every day - it's obviously taken it's toll and completely ingrained itself into my simile banks. Not that I'm comparing my brain to a computer. At least, if I was, it would be a 1980s Acorn Electron. Cassette drive and everything. And it would be loading the classic Acorn game Monsters in which you dig a hole for the monster, it falls into the hole and you fill it back in again to kill it's monstery behind. However, if you're too slow, the monster gets out and turns into a super-annoyed uber-monster. So, you know, best be quick. Anyway, I digress. Head on back up the page there.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Clump Bump Stumble

I'm a naturally ungainly person. I am one of those people who is unaware of the shape and size of their own body and thus is fairly frequently stumbling, bumping, knocking or dropping - any of the standard actions that may lead to inadvertent injury or breakage. As far as I can recall, I have always been this way - never a creature of infinite grace, always the bumbling oaf.

Such is the way of things. With great size comes great awkwardness and a tendency to knock over your glass. It's a trade off and I'm happy to accept it. I like being tall and broad. I can reach things on high shelves. People can spot me in a crowded room (an effect that is doubled by the shiny reflective surface perched atop the cranium). I'm rarely overlooked. Of course, it doesn't always have its advantages - I'd prefer not to spend flights with my knees round my ears and crowded tube journeys with my head cocked at a forty five degree angle - but I'll take tall and ungainly over short and graceful. No offence to any of you short-arses; just personal preference, really.

Still, I really wish I hadn't dropped my iPod on the train platform. It's got a horrible dent in the corner now...

Speaking of commuting (nice segueway, Nick, thank you, Nick), apparently, over in that there New York on the other side of the big wet oceany thing, it was No Pants Day on the subway. Now, I'm all for people wondering about in their undercrackers as much as the next person but, quite frankly, it's far too cold for those kind of shenanigans. Couldn't it wait til summer? Hmm, actually, on second thought, I don't think I'd particularly want to be on a subway train full of sweaty crotches being gently aired. Think I'll stick to the traditional trouser-on commute, thank you very much.

Also, in the news today, for the twentieth day in the row if you live in the UK, is the top story that it's been snowing and is still a bit cold. I'm beginning to think that we as a nation place too much importance on the weather as a source of news. Too cold, too hot, too wet, too dry - it all gets reported in an utterly overblown manner. Can we get back to some actual news events sometime soon, please? I'm pretty sure there must be more going on than "It's snow"....

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Review - Moon

In a nutshell:- Low budget indie sci-fi with an old-school feel.

The Basics:- Moon is one of those films that it feels like you're spoiling if you talk about it too much so I'll just give the starting premise - Sam (Sam Rockwell) works for Lunar technologies on their helium-3 processing moonbase and is nearing the end of his three year contract. And then he has an accident... It's a low-budget, independent sci-fi film and definitely an antidote to a lot of the big screen slam-bang sci-fi that's out there at the moment.

The Good:- For a first time director, it's an amazingly confident film. It's intelligent and doesn't patronise its audience while at the same time remaining accessible. There's a feel of old school 1970s sci fi about it in the best possible sense from the overall set design to the use of good old fashioned practical model work instead of CGI*. It's also very much a one man show with a great performance from Sam Rockwell who I've not really seen in much before apart from the disappointing Hitch Hikers film but, based on this, I'd be interested to see him in some other roles. There's also a nice turn from Kevin Spacey as the voice of Gerty, the moonbase computer who initially appears to bear some similarities to 2001's HAL... It's a slow-paced affair but that allows the story to unfold at a natural rate and allows the viewer
time to identify with Sam and care about his predicament.

The Bad:- I think if you start to analyse the plot and set-up a little too much, you can begin to find a few holes in it or, if not holes as such, such slightly questionable logic and motivation i.e. why would they use a man with documented emotional problems in such a high pressure environment? But really, these are minor niggles that in now way spoil your enjoyment of the film.

The Verdict:- It feels like a throwback to sci fi filmmaking of old and, in my book, that's no bad thing. With films like this and District 9, it feels like we're getting a bit of a renaissance for high quality, smart and interesting sci fi films and I for one am looking forward to that trend continuing.

* I've always been a fan of model work over CGI. That's not to say there aren't some amazing things that can be done with CGI but bad CGI always seems that much more atrocious and cheaper than slightly wonky model work.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Skip To The End

I think after yesterday's slightly longer post, I'll keep it short and sweet today.

Snow can be very cold. And also a bit slippy.

There you go. Well, how was it for you?

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Shuffle Of Evil

(If you're not sure what all this is about, see this old post called Shuffle for the first example with explanation. Now onwards...)

The main problem with fiendishly complex plots for world domination is their frequent tendency to backfire in potentially life-threatening ways. It was after my latest scheme involving a giant orbiting laser, a hypnotherapist named Steve, a rare Bolivian dancing frog and the world's largest marching band that they finally caught up with me as I hobbled away from the scene of the crime like a One-Legged Dog. Naturally, I was put on trial for my globe-threatening naughtiness and many words were bandied back and forth, including (but not limited to) "Megalomania", "inferiority complex", "part-time cross dresser" and "inveterate bed-wetter". As is my wont, I would neither confirm or deny any of these charges (although, sadly, some of them are very much true).

As part of my farcical sham of a trial, I spent some time with a court-appointed therapist. Dr Peterson had a limited impact upon me, urging me "To Wait For Love" and other such hippy drivel. Although I have to admit that I did find him less bothersome after I had instructed a few minions to disintegrate his closest living relatives.

Eventually, my so-called trial came to it's inevitable conclusion when the judge stated that, for me, "Living In This World was no longer a viable option" and so, I would be placed into a rocket and fired into the heart of the sun. I personally felt that this may have been a little harsh, to be fired into the inky blackness of space with no way Back To The World until I reached the fiery ball of super-heated gas that would burn me to a cinder, but the judge felt that I was irredeemably evil and quite the most Warped individual he'd ever met.

Not wishing to give my tormentors the satisfaction of seeing me break down, I decided to Sing, Sing, Sing my way to my doom, giving them a rousing chorus as I was marched to my space-bound coffin. I saluted the gathering crowd, blowing kisses and Waves until I was unceremoniously clubbed about the head and shackled inside.

I came to, bound and restrained, high above the confines of the planet Earth and facing a blistering demise. I had to fight off the inevitable Space Dementia which is the hazard of any such journey but, fortunately, my indomitable will and ferociously evil intellect are not to be daunted by the mere vastness of space. Or even the looming threat of certain flaming death.

Suffice to say, my keen mind had soon found a way to release me from my shackles (naturally, I'll refrain from boring you with the tedious details as to how) and I soon set about planning my return. It was the merest of child's play to reprogramme my prison and set about returning. The instruments showed that, as the space crow flies, I was only Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa. Soon, my presence would be unleashed upon the world and I would show them my Law (Earthlings On Fire).

But wait, maybe this was a chance to start fresh. A chance to start anew in life. To seize the day all over again, to reacquaint myself with the world, to take Another First Kiss. The world believed me dead and who was I disabuse them of that notion? Could I be someone new, someone different, someone better?

Sadly, no. Shortly after landing, I found myself embroiled in a scheme to use reanimated Ghouls as replacement members of the UN Security Council. Well, I found day to day civilian life really was no cure for the Early Morning Blues. Who wants to be ordinary when you can be all-powerful?

So have I learned anything from the whole experience? Oh, I would definitely say that I have. I think that it's all just proved to me that the most important thing in life is to Be True To Yourself. That and to try and bend the collected peoples of the world to submit to your iron will. You've got to have a vision, really.

The Songs

Here's what the song shuffler threw up at me as the elements for today's little vignette:-

One-Legged Dog - Motel Hero
Megalomania - Muse
To Wait For Love - Tony Orlando
Living In This World - Guru
Back To The World - Curtis Mayfield
Warped - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Sing, Sing, Sing - Louis Prima
Waves - Nouvelle Vague
Space Dementia - Muse
Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa - Gene Pitney
Law (Earthlings On Fire) - David Bowie
Another First Kiss - They Might Be Giants
Ghouls - We Are Scientists
Early Morning Blues - Muddy Waters
Be True To Yourself - Bobby Vee

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Nothing To See Here

In front of him, the blank page lay
"Fill me up with stuff", it seemed to say
But inspiration today was lacking
Even though of late he'd not been slacking
To stick to writing a daily post
But today it seems not even a ghost
Of a hint of a glimpse of a sign
Of a topic that would across his mind
Blaze a shining trail so clear and bright,
To prevent him sitting and staring tonight
At the still blank page, so sadly clear
And tragically bereft of a single idea
So instead you're getting a simple rhyme
And an apology for wasting your time

(I have no idea why my mind resorts to rhyming when it has nothing else to say. Too much Spike Milligan and Lewis Carroll as a youth, I suspect...)

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Stolen Time

There is an affliction to which I am occasionally prone and it perturbs me somewhat when I am struck by it. It seems to be more common at this time of year than in the months of the spring or the summer but, in reality, it can strike at any time. I am a commuter; this much about me is commonly known (and is commonly shared with many millions of others). I am, however, one of those commuters who, on the occasion that he does manage to snag a seat, can have something of a tendency to fall asleep.

It happens more so at this time as I tend to be wrapped up in warm clothes travelling on a train that has the heating whacked up on full. These things are not conducive to wakefulness and so, with a kind of tedious inevitability, the eyelids begin to droop, the head begins it's inexorable journey down towards the chest and the terrifying rumble of the snore begins to make it's presence from somewhere within the chestal region. All of which is topped off by the embarrassment of making that abbreviated snorting noise accompanied by a wide-eyed stare as you panic yourself awake for the amusement of other passengers.

It irks me so for two main reasons. Firstly, I always end up contorted into some unnatural position which, more and more as time has it's wicked way upon my body, leads to aching of the back and neck when I get off the train. Secondly, and most importantly, it robs me of my reading time.

You see, currently my daily commute affords me around an hour or so of reading time and that's a precious chunk of time transported away to someone else's world. I resent it if that time is stolen away from me by half-hearted sleep that doesn't even give me any dreams in return - just a blank lack of time and a crooked neck.

So, if someone out there could invent some sort of stop-Nick-dozing-off-on-a-warm-train-so-he-can-read-about-spaceships machine, that would be really rather splendid. Chop chop, then, people, get to it.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Pretty Vacant

Sometimes, somehow, the world still manages to surprise with the sheer tactless superficiality that it's capable of producing. Today's example? A dating website called BeautifulPeople. Already the name itself put my back right up. Not because I'm not a beautiful person - I think we can all quite clearly see that I am all things to all mankind. As long as all mankind wants is an overweight speccy bald man (and who doesn't?). And certainly not because I want to join - I've found my beautiful person, ta very much. No, it's the fact that the members of this particular site rate each other for membership eligibility based purely on looks alone. I mean, for starters, here's the blurb on the front page of their website:-

* Do looks matter to you, when it comes to selecting a partner?
* Do you want to guarantee your dates will always be beautiful?
* No more filtering through unattractive people on mainstream sites
* Meet beautiful people locally and from around the world - now
* Attend exclusive events and private parties

Lovely, isn't it? So why has this odious little site come to my attention? Well, it's due to a news article which claims that 5,000 members have been "axed" as they've put on a bit of weight over Christmas. A further damning indictment of our weight and looks-obsessed culture but not the thing that has overly raised my ire. No, the thing that really got to me in the article was this direct quote from founder Robert Hintze (this is a genuine quote; I've not paraphrased in any way):-

"Letting fatties roam the site is a direct threat to our business model and the very concept for which was founded."

It's not just the fact that this is a deeply unpleasant sentiment to be bandying about. No, it's that fact that this is obviously a cynically calculated unpleasant sentiment designed for maximum publicity, making an unpalatable statement that much worse. I remember it being tough enough out there in the dating world without bozos like this further denting everyone's self esteem.

OK, I guess if you look at it from a certain point of view then all this site is doing is herding the vacuous but pretty morons together in order to keep them away from all the normal people. The only downside to this is that it's encouraging them to get together and breed...

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Danger On The Roads

I took my first steps into a strange and terrifying new world yesterday. Although, "steps" is, in fact, entirely the wrong word to use. For, you see, at the tender age of thirty three years old, I took my first driving lesson.

Actually, that's not strictly true. I did take several driving lessons just as I turned seventeen but, for various reasons, I stopped and somehow never got back round to them. Living generally within swift commuting distance of London, there didn't seem to be a huge amount of need for it and I've got by for the last sixteen years without it. Of course, situations change and the time has come to put aside thy pedestrian ways and get thee behind the wheel.

First impressions? Fear, mainly. Having told the instructor that I'd had a few lessons many years back, I was pretty much plunged straight into driving the car, although we swiftly moved to a new location once he realised that the road was very narrow and my steering was atrocious.

So why fear, then? Well, not so much for myself and my own abilities (my steering improved throughout the two hours) but for something which all you drivers probably mostly take for granted - the sheer number of external factors that you need to concentrate on at every single moment. Oncoming traffic, following traffic, mind that bus, look out, pedestrian danger, cyclist, cyclist, etc., etc. All while doing things inside the vehicle to make it go, go faster, slow down or stop.

One advantage is that I have had a few lessons way back in the day and the instructor said that some of that knowledge is still locked away in there, ready to leap to the fore again. And he was confident enough in my improvement to let me drive all the way back. Let's just hope I don't forget it all in the intervening week...

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Review - Doctor Who: The End Of Time Pts 1 & 2

I'm going to try and get back into the habit of posting something every day round these here parts so let's kick things off with a bit of a view of the festive telly on offer. And you can't really talk about festive telly without mentioning this one, really...

In a nutshell:- The mantle is passed as not only does Tenth Doctor David Tennant make his departure but showrunner Russell T Davies leaves for pastures new, too.

The Basics:- Well, here in the UK, you would have been hidden under a rock to not know anything about this. David Tennant has appeared on so many other shows to promote it over the last few weeks that it's beginning to look like he's the only person at the BBC left working over Christmas (before his upcoming redundancy sets in, anyway). But for those who've not spotted:- after a year of special episodes, David Tennant returns for one final Christmas Day and New Year's Day two-parter to face the return of an old enemy and the end of time itself. All armed with the knowledge that his time is running out as someone will knock four times before the Doctor dies...

The Good & The Bad:- For once, it's difficult to separate this out so you're getting one whole jumbled-together review style thing. Which is, quite frankly, fitting. For, you see, The End Of Time Parts 1 & 2 summed everything that was good and bad about Russell T Davies' run as the man in charge of Britain's Favourite Family Show (TM). It was epic, it was insane, it was brilliant, it was nonsensical, it was emotional, it was mawkish, it was full of promise and oddly disappointing, it was funny and embarrassing, it was crammed with original ideas and yet strangely repetitive. Overall, it was a fitting epitaph to the man's run as the big brain behind it all and, for all his many flaws,he should be applauded for completely revitalising a dead show and making back into event television with mass appeal and genuine love and affection. I think he's reached a good point to leave as a lot of this finale felt like a greatest hits repackaging of previous finales with the volume dialled up to 11 (the "saying goodbye" to previous companions, the regeneration itself) so I think it's definitely time for some fresh blood behind the scenes. As for David Tennant, he has been brilliant in the role and has to take a chunk of the credit for making it the continued success that it is today. I for one was sad to see him go and felt his final line was fitting and poignant. The new guy, Matt Smith, was left with an unenviable task of trying to stamp an impression in the last minute after a long and drawn out farewell. For me, he didn't really make one, seeming like a pale imitation of David Tennant when he first regenerated but I'll wait for the series proper to give the guy a chance.

The Verdict:- Hats off to Russell T Davies overall for creating a real rollercoaster ride of a show over the last five years and leaving quite an act to follow, even if the conclusion to that ride wasn't quite as satisfying as the ride itself had been. And a fond farewell to David Tennant who will be missed. Let's see what new boss Stephen Moffat and Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith have to offer....

Friday, 1 January 2010

Another Year Over And A New One Just Begun...

Despite having said that I would avoid the whole "end of year/decade" list style thing, I've had a gauntlet thrown in my general direction by fellow blogger cerebus660 to come up with three things which define the past ten years. Well, not being one to ignore a thrown gauntlet, I shall do my best to comply with his wishes. Here goes with the three key things that spring immediately to mind:-

1.) Making a feature film

Yes, I've drivelled on abut this ad infinitum (copies are still available from for a very reasonable £5) but it's a big thing for me and my mate Rich. Ever since we were but mere school children, knocking about in the sixth form common room, we had an urge to get out there and make films. So, with occasional interruptions by the demands of real life, we got out there and made films, having hit upon the realisation that we could sit around and talk about it or get out there and do it. If nothing else, I can look back and say, "We did it our way" In a slightly Frank Sinatra style. If Frank Sinatra was a bald man from South East London, that is.

2.) Living on my own

I'd never done it before up until 2004. I'd always lived with family or flatmates so this was another big deal, really. And I loved it. OK, you could say that I cheated in that, while I did live in a flat by myself, I had one close friend living next door and another living in the flat three floors below. But still, it counts as living by yourself, even if it was more like having flatmates that you didn't have to live with.

And, lastly and most importantly...

3.) Gorgeous Girlfriend

'Nuff said, really. (Yes, nauseating, isn't it?)

Tradition dictates that you tag several someone elses in order to carry this on but I can't really be bothered so you've all had a lucky escape.

Happy New Year to all. Here's to a splendid 2010.