Sunday, September 24, 2006
It's sweet. And a dish best served cold.
Like Ice Cream.
It's been the key motivation behind some of fiction's most enduring protagonists. Medea (way to go, bitch ), Hamlet, The Count of Monte Cristo, Captain Ahab and and Khan Noonien Singh.
And Jaws, he had a go at it too. He ate Michael Caine's aeroplane and got impaled on a yacht.
I haven't been up to much of it recently, or at all ever. But I have been eating my way through some sweet payback stories of late.
Point Blank. I love Point Blank. Watching my DVD I'm reminded how odd it plays for a revenge film. He doesn't even want revenge, strictly speaking, though he was betrayed and shot and left for dead by John Vernon. He just wants his share of the money. And that's his only motivation. You get the impression he'd stop right away if he got the cash, nevermind that John Vernon stole his wife and drilled him in the back. Weirder yet is he doesn't kill anyone, either. So how does it figure as a revenge? Well it feels like a revenge story. He would kill for his money, but he never gets the chance, the other characters kill each other - and not in a Licence to Kill/Fistful of Dollars way. He doesn't play them against each other, they're just that treacherous anyway. Some of them just die by accident.
Doesn't stop Lee Marvin stone-colding his way through Los Angeles like a bulldozer in a grey suit. He still sticks guys on nails and pistol whips them - there's a brutal fight as he tries to leave a club he's been cornered in. There's no faking it here. The two guys and Marvin hammer the living shit out of each other. Marvin's coup-de-grace? Plants a haymaker square in a goon's balls and rightfully that character squeals like a girl. Don't fuck with Marvin. Give him his money.
But aside from the nut-busting, gut-punching, shit-kicking Marvin, the film is a cool piece of cinema. It's like a beat poem with revolvers and the stark concrete of Los Angeles and the decrepid Alcatraz as it's bongos. The photography is exquisite, and the editing; cutting edge. Long before Soderbergh played around with continuity, John Boorman was shifting the chronology of his scenes to the point where nothing in the film seems real (except swift hammers to the nuts). It's all a dreamlike juxtaposition of lyrical camerawork and pissed off human timebombs. Marvin's footsteps counting down across scene after scene, hearalding his imminent detonation.
I followed up Point Blank a day later with another superb Region 1 retribution; Bad Day at Black Rock. If you ever feel put upon, and you're looking for a film to sate your sense of impotence and Mad Max II can't be found...go get Bad Day at Black Rock. Short of hunting your persecutors down like dogs, it's the remedy for your malady.
Spencer Tracy plays one-armed war veteran John J. Macreedy who comes to Black Rock looking to do a good deed and instead finding a guilty town run by a handful of bullies. And they try and put him down, take him out. Short of a few snappy come-backs he takes it too, lets them lean on him. He's got a good idea that they've done some secret evil and as much as it disgusts him he wants no beef with them.
But they push him too far.
Lee Marvin turns up in this too, as a no-good sonofabitch cowpoke under the command of another screen-tough guy - Robert Ryan's 'Reno Smith'. And hard as Marvin and Ryan are there's none more Badass at Black Rock than John J. Macreedy. When push comes to shove it's Macreedy planting expertly-timed karate chops all over Ernest Borgnine and sending him flying to the gutter. It's Macreedy fucking you up alright. It's Macreedy, resourceful and tenacious who's showing you how it's done.
Because in the movies you get what's coming to you. If you shoot my buddy Malone to death, then so help me if I don't push you off a courthouse roof. If you kill my wife in a car crash and then years later drown my girlfriend and try and drown me - shit, I've got no choice but to kick you senseless and then crush you under a shipping trailer. Feed Felix Leiter to sharks and kill his bride on their wedding night? Dude, I'm going to have to dismantle your billion dollar drug empire, trick you into murdering your lieutenants and then set you on fire so you explode along with an oil tanker you were using to ship cocaine out of South America. That's how it's got to be.
And if you kidnap a friend's son, use him to bait me, capture me, brainwash me and send me out to attack The Fantastic Four, The X-Men and Daredevil so that you can steal a super-weapon and bait Elektra into the same trap I fell for, before killing the boy and attacking SHIELD with a suicide squad of similarly brainwashed super-humans, you'd better make sure you don't let me fall into the hands of SHIELD so that they can reverse the brainwashing, and fix me back to normal. Because once I realise you've turned me on my friends, made me kill hundreds of my colleagues, dishonoured me and the father of that boy, then I might suit up and ask this question:
"How many people are in HYDRA and The Hand?"
"Uh, last estimate I saw was eighteen hundred people in The Hand and foty-nine thousand HYDRA agents."
"What about this mutant cult? These Dawn of The White Light creeps the Gorgon put together?"
"Uh, I don't know...five hundred. Six hundred at the most."
"So that's fifty-two thousand tops, right?"
"Yeah, about that. So what? What are you going to do, Wolverine? Head out there and kill them all single-handedly?"
Mark Millar might tell the same story over and over, be it The Ultimates, The Authority or Civil War, but it's my favourite comic book story. The good guy gets taken out, discredited and left for dead. Ruined. And then he/she/they come back and brutally, brutally make sure the bad guys never get to do it again. It's Daredevil: Born Again, essentially, mapped onto any other title. He'd probably write the same story if he worked on American Splendor or Duck Tales. Scrooge McDuck would get his ass-kicked, replaced by a Scrooge McDuck analogue. He'd be locked in a cell and tortured, and then he'd find that Gyroduck suit, and go knock seven-shades of shit out of whoever ruined him. The End.
Wolverine: Enemy of the State and Agent of SHIELD is available in a single TPB and I recommend you go get it. It's got John Romita jr. on pencils (it's his 30th year at Marvel. The man is unsurpassed.) and Wolverine fighting a hundred thousand ninjas.
You know the Black Dog has come back. Come back in a strange way. He came back hidden in something so good I can't begin to cope without it.
I've finished The Wire season 3. And it's so good, so very fucking good, I don't know how I'm supposed to go back to enjoying the things that aren't as good as it.
It's the best thing that ever got put on television. Don't you fucking start trying to tell me The Sopranos is the best show on TV. It's past it now and even in it's prime, it wasn't The Wire. Shit, ER? A fucking great show. Really, an undisputed classic of TV. But it's not The Wire.
I wish I'd had more bad stuff to say about other things, so that you'll believe me when I try and tell you how good it is. It's the fucking Macbeth of crime shows. It transcends 'crime show' even. It shouldn't be called crime show, or police drama. It shouldn't even be called 'drama'. It's better than that.
You. You who hasn't watched it yet. You're thinking right now you couldn't want to watch and even sympathise with street level drug dealers.
You're thinking; 'I wouldn't like and want to see more of a toothless crack-addict who steals scrap metal of the street.'
David Simon and Ed Burns who were the minds behind Homicide: Life on the Streets, ( which was based on Simon's book 'Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets' - which you should fucking Amazon right now and get to reading ), came to The Wire with a wealth of real-life inspiration and the mandate that the show wouldn't be about 'Good and Evil' that there would be no such definition, and in doing so have created the most complex, compelling and fucking realistic piece of TV you'll ever see.
And then you won't see it's kind again. I'm so depressed right now because nothing else, and probably not even itself, will top how impressive these first three seasons have been. I've got to wait a year or more while my friends Herc and Carver, Bunk, Bunny, Jimmy, Bubbles and Bodie all float in limbo.
God damn it.
You know I should write more on The Wire, but the only justice anyone can do for it is to watch it and stick with it and then you'll see what I mean.
Monday, September 18, 2006
Aye, I know. To go in for such a thing is to admit I have failed at the very basics of social interaction. I know, dear reader, I know.
So for now I only contemplate it. But to be fair, sometimes 'tis better to admit defeat than soldier on regardless.
But honestly, if you're the kind of guy who goes in for online dating, then you're only a few screw ups from being that guy in The Assassination of Richard Nixon, right?
Not really. I don't think so. He was upset because of his place in the scheme of things, his sense of inadequacy. I don't think it stemmed from him not getting laid.
Well, anyway. If you've lost track of what I'm saying, catch up, quick, I haven't time for this.
Dating Agencies. You have to be fairly fucked from birth to need one of those. That's how I felt.
But then a good friend of mine tells me she went on a couple of dates set up through an agency and it turns my perception around. A bit. Sort of. There's nothing wrong with this girl. There's just about everything right with this girl. Why the name of Sam Hill is she using an agency?
I mean it.
She was a pedestal girl of mine once. First girl I asked out at Uni, and first girl to tell me no. I realise years later, in fact right as I'm writing this, like, this very second it comes to me, that asking a girl is a bit, like, old fashioned. Charlie Brown works up the courage to ask out the cute little Red-Haired girl. I'm sure Matthew McConaughey just fucking hangs out with girls, and it goes somewhere from there.
Except now he lives with Lance Armstrong and it's likely he's gay. Bad example.
Bad fucking tangent. Stick to the point.
This girl is the works. I've given you so much hyperbole about how good some trivial shit like a James Bond soundtrack or Richard Burton's voice is, you're going to read me say she's beautiful and has a great personality and I've never hung out with her and it not been fun and go "Fuck, man. Is there anything this guy just thinks is 'ok'? Doesn't he ever just go 'Meh. That was not bad.'?" Well yes, I did. That Val Kilmer movie, dickhead.
So how comes she needs a dating agency? Why? Am I suddenly vindicated? Is meeting people, romantically meeting people, out there in the world, a whole lot more difficult than McConaughey wants me to believe?
If there can be Holy Grails like her online, then maybe there's a mug of root beer for me.
Cup-based comparison. You know, the Holy Grail's a really special thing you might find in a cup. Root Beer is a less impressive, but more likely, good-thing-in-a-cup.
Wait. Sir Ian Mckellan wants to tell me something.
A spelling mistake?
Uh, ok. Well, I don't believe in it anyway, but ok. Uh. If there can be, uh, direct descendents of Jesus in there, then there might be some guy who's related to Robert Downey Jr for me. In a cup. There.
The only worrying element is one of the guys she dated later told her he might be sick, mid-coitus and then went on to call her big nose. But he was doing good up until that point. And he's shown the way. I won't make those mistakes. If I feel sick, I won't mention it til after. In fact I might discretely be sick and not say anything at all. Just brush my teeth.
At my work I've had to create a couple of dating profiles to check some important stuff that's important to my job.
I make up one guy. His screen name is STOMACH CRAMP. His little ident reads...
"They call me the cashew. Find out why."
His profile is as follows -
"I have a tape player and three tapes. Two of them are the same tape. A Bros tape. I bought two because I thought they were different. The other tape is a recording of Bros on the radio, because it was the song I wanted. It goes 'When will I have famous? I can't not be famous, because I had my hair done especially for being a famous person' I love this song. If you meet me I will do the dance I do for this song."
This guy gets messages. People have tried to flirt with him. Fair enough, I made him under 30, he's tall, he lives in London. He'll get some attention, granted.
If I make a guy who's 65, is called JEFF OF BEEF. Is under five foot five, overweight, divorced, a heavy smoker. His caption reads 'I had toast for breakfast. I have toast every breakfast. It's all they let me eat.' His profile - 'I have all my own beard.'
Dude gets messaged. Dude could get some action if he wanted. If they let him out.
But what does that mean? I could pick and chose the mental and the needy like I'm at a harem of retards. That's not a good thing.
Why not stick to the tried and tested, dude?
Which is what? Honestly. What is it?
When I was younger I was at a Lemonheads gig with a few buddies. Matthew Crosby was one, and said before the show had even started that he was going to get with a girl there. He was going to smile at a girl, and if she smiled at him, he would smile again. Then he'd go over and get her number and at some point later, go out with her. And he did all of that, just like he said.
I don't see so well in the dark. It might be the spectacles, but any gig or club or bar that's dim, but with spotlights and gels and the rest, I can't see for shit. I see blobs and blurs, and the narrow dark strips in between are people and if I can get them to face me in such away then I might know what their face looks like. No doubt they've seen me squinting and staring like Susan Sarandon trying to signal she's been paralysed from the nose down, and would rather go get another drink.
As for my hearing. I've got a miniature Bletchley Park in my head. A tiny Station X working on cracking the enigma machine that is anything anyone ever says to me ever.
'It sounds like "Fire Fighting Tea Service"'
'Confound it. What the devil's he trying to tell us, man? I've got to signal back now.'
NO. I DO NOT HAVE A FIRE FIGHTING TEA SERVICE. OVER.
'He looks confused sir. He's signalling again. Sounds like..."Yes...we done..fire fight. Is there anything?"'
'Damn and blast. We don't know. We surrender.'*
So at any of the expected places to maybe meet someone, I'm already a spaz. And I haven't even tried talking. Or dancing. Oh boy.
I went out to a club the other night. Alone. Like a wolf. Conspicuous in the predatory nature of my solitude. But perhaps telegraphing my purpose would work in my favour.
No. I was rumbled by a close friend happening upon me. (He hadn't planned/didn't want to be there.) and although it was a relief to see him, it disguised my carnivorous intent to everyone but him, and his girlfriend. Who already thinks I'm dressing up like my mother when I get home and sharpening steak knives in front of re-runs of Taggart. So I gave up on my scheme and threw shapes to Korn for two hours. Fun. But I took home no spoils, save for a Black Label Society sample CD and some Iron Maiden stickers.
What about my friends? Well the girls all see me as a sexless goof. And for the most part I like them all as friends and don't want to mess with that. Those that don't see me as a sexless goof, know me as a clinically depressed fuck up who can be no easier to get along with than the Taliban.
Though I'm amazed how that opinion gets divided. If I mouth 'fuck off' at you for a full hour in a club (Collide-a-scope, again. Figures.) and tell you to your face I'm not to be liked, later you might lean your huge, sweating face at me and tell me that you like me and you think I'm funny, that it was nice meeting me. You might say the same thing to a vegetable pakora, as you're fucking wasted. But dammit, why don't you fear me, when the nice girls do?
Hmmm. I thought I'd use this entry as a way to work out if I'm going to try online dating or not. Hasn't helped. My eye is still twitching. It'll probably fall out and my dating days will be over.
I resisted it for a long time. Ben and Jerry's 'Oh my Apple Pie' ice-cream. Ice-Cream.
*'Firefly the TV series.' 'Joss Whedon? Firefly? Serenity?'
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
But he's in Peru for two weeks, so hate it or love it, I'm going to talk about music.
I caught a bit, a tiny bit, of the T.V. coverage of the Reading Festival. The Kooks were on and whined a bit and a hundred thousand Hollyoaks-looking fuckers joined in. I flicked on in search of the new Pink video, because I was told you can sort of see her bum in it. Which you can. Sort of.
I don't like 'Indie' rock. For the last few years I've seen a myriad of NME covers touting the new saviours of a British music scene I no longer care for. I get a glimpse of three or four hairstyles in skinny jeans, beginning with 'The' before I grab my Arena and go (because it has Girls Aloud in it, and you can see their bums, sort of.) And when these same Joe Nobodies turn up on one of the freeview music channels - well, I'm bored. I might mute it, or turn off. They're so identi-kit. I heard a few albums played when I worked in the diamond mines of Pankot Palace; The Coral, The Zutons, The Killers. Bored the crap outta me. I trained my body to take five poos a day so I wouldn't have to listen to them, again and again.
Was a time I thought I liked Indie-rock, but looking back I think it was more a case of me liking a couple of Suede songs and girls with black fringes who went out in Camden. (Although spending my New Year's Eve in a flat with no heating and no food, listening to The Queen is Dead on repeat was shit then and if I had to do it again I'd probably cook dear, sweet Tamara over a stereo-set barbeque and suck the meat off her like a buffalo wing. Helen I liked too much. I wouldn't kill and eat her, or burn her LPs.) Only ever really like Pulp when they did 'This is Hardcore' which was also when everyone else stopped liking them. I saw Kingmaker on Top of the Pops. These Animal Men?
I went back to London club Collide-a-scope last winter for the first time in close to a decade. Hated it. There was a lovely girl who wanted to dance with me and didn't seem to mind her boyfriend knowing, but otherwise it was shit. I wasn't getting what was so exciting about what got played. I failed at enjoying it. I couldn't tell you most of what got played as a lot of these bands I wouldn't know to hear. Both Pete Doherty's musical enterprises are unknown to me, and I'm happy for it to stay that way. I saw him in the street not long ago. He could hardly stand. He walked by tipping himself forwards and toppling, then leaning back a bit to balance. He smelt like baked turd.
This club, then. Something would come on and there might be a cheer and this girl would lean over and ask if I liked Arctic Monkeys, and I'd think - is this them? Is that it? What is it that they are saving British music from exactly? Because they don't sound up to much. They don't sound very special at all.
I realise, over the last five or six years that most of the singles I've liked, most of the songs I've found refreshing, inventive have come out of the Urban/Rn'B scene (although Urban is an awful name for a style of music, and to me Rn'B is a bit of a misnomer. In my eyes (ears) Rythmn and Blues means Bo Diddly. Nee-Yo is just a whinging bitch with a few dance moves.).
Where I say single, I'm meaning songs I don't end up knowing as album tracks. Slipknot's Duality is probably the best single of the last three years or whatever, but I'm disregarding it because it's something I know from an album, (though the video is potentially my favourite video ever.) So it goes with The Hand that Feeds, Bat Country, Pull Harder on the Strings of your Martyr etc. So Arctic Monkeys might put together a better album, whole than The Game, but I won't know/don't care because I'm going on singles only.
And don't get me wrong, there's a wealth of shit in Urban/Rn'B. So much shit. The worse ratio of shit to good in any art form. Usher, Akon, Mario Winans, R Kelly have all crapped out some of the least likeable, most poorly conceived excuses for songs ever attempted. 'Let it Burn' sounds like a cat walking on a child's electronic organ, while it's owner dies from a peanut allergy. It's like a demo tape made by a blind albino, taken out of his thirty-year home in an underground cavern and put straight in the studio.
'Yeah, yeah. That keyboard bit, I plan on making it have, y'know, some pattern to it. But for now you get the idea. Same with that bit where I go 'ooooh ohhhh' - I'm going to put some rhymes in there, some lyrics. That bit about 'Umpteen hours' won't stay. All the stuff where I sing over myself, I'll clean that up.'
'No, wait man. Can you dance to it?'
'Shit. I can dance to the theme from Panorama, man. I'm Usher.'
'Fuck it. Let's release it now. Get me Hype Williams on the phone'
But amongst the compost are some real gems. If you want to visualise a shimmering emerald folded into a slush of yellow-brown dog loaf, do so now, as there is no better representation of what I'm trying to say. Unless you go with that silvery-orange dirt dogs do after too much gravy and onions. The kind they have to slide about the grass after laying.
'Lose my Breath', 'Milkshake', 'Hate it or Love it' (go ahead, envy me. I'm rap's MVP.) 'Lose Control' (in case there's a whole library of songs called 'Lose Control', I mean the Missy Elliott, Ciara, Fatman Scoop song.) 'Signs' (Justin and Snoop). These are all some of the songs I'm declaring my admiration for. They're exciting, playful and inventive. They stand up to my other tastes in music (Secret Chiefs 3, Dillinger Escape Plan, Fantomas amongst others) which is impressive for mainstream fare. I don't just think it's good music by MTV standards. I mean it's good music period. It most definitely shows up the current run of Indie bands as flat and uninspired. Ok, some of this new minimalist Rn'B (spearheaded by The Neptunes, it seems) comes off as little more than a ringtone with vocals, but some of that still is surprisingly effective. There's stagnation, sure, but I firmly believe there's still way more development of ideas and sound than Indie. Standard Pop music isn't to be ignored either - Scissor Sisters, Gwen Stefani, Christina Aguilera. I've got yards more admiration for these acts than fucking Razorlight.
In fact, I think I"m at a point where my estimation of much of the NME pantheon is that it's better than House and Garage, and not much else. I would rather listen to The Kooks than Sunblock, or any MoS puke. But 'One Thing' by Amerie crushes whinging shit like 'Naive' like an Incredible Hulk vs. Justin Long cage fight.
I should stress at this point that I don't consider bands like the dreaded Coldplay, Keane or James Blunt to be 'indie' (I'm guessing at this point you know I mean indie in an aesthetic sense, and not literally meaning 'signed to an independant label'), or rock at all. They're a kind of Ikea music, with more in common with Enya than R.E.M. They haven't a hope of making an Automatic for the People, as much as they'd like to. They make the musical equivelent of rich tea biscuits, new potatoes, Primula. Biege and forgettable.
But I wonder how much snobbery, how much of a subjective view I'm guilty of. Is it I don't like the scene because I don't like the music, or I don't like the music because I don't like the scene? The same way Russell Brand is handicapped beyond any talent he might have, because to me he looks and sounds like a cunt on those adverts, and I'd gladly watch him fall and fatally stick him self in the head on a bicycle frame. There's little chance he is funny, given what those shouty adverts show, but even if he was he still wouldn't be to me. I've already made up my mind. Shouty smack-head not funny.
After all, I like Hot Hot Heat. I like The Polyphonic Spree. Are these indie? They aren't British, but maybe it's not a bias I'm feeling against home grown bands. Maybe The Spree and the Heat are making better music. The Bravery suck. Where are they from? Ladytron (some of them at least) and Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster are British and they're excellent. So maybe there are more British acts that could prove me wrong yet.
Am I being unreasonable? No. I don't think so (why would I?). I think because Indie is so popular right now, it doesn't feel like it has to make the effort. That's an over-simplification maybe, I don't imagine The Ordinary Boys and Hard-Fi compare notes and go 'That should do. They'd buy that. Let's stop there.' But I haven't heard Indie give us a 'Crazy in Love', not out of this current wave at least. 'Blue Monday' when it came out was that sort of song. It must have blown everyone away. Indie has done it before and should be able to do it again. (If you think you can use Oasis as an example here you can't. You should leave the room. Maybe find a level crossing and just stand there and think really hard.) Perhaps the last 'Blue Monday' was an evolutionary leap, maybe it's 'Breathe' by The Prodigy. Maybe I just don't know my music anymore.
Fuck. I start out writing these things in earnest, and then I just undermine my opinions. Someone only has to mention in a comment that I like Metal, which again suffers some stagnation, and that Kerrang! has turned into a forum for teenage girls (how in the name of fuck do The Lost Prophets get press in there? They won band of the year or some shit recently. They aren't any more metal than Feeder or The Stereophonics. Or Jamelia, for that matter.) and my musical authority comes unstuck. Well, you might think that. Music's all about subjectivity and how it makes you feel. Metal gets me and I get it, like it's some ancient well I drink from for my strength.
Hard Fi = Shit.
That Bloc Party song = ok.
Pantera = Gods.
Did that whole Best Man thing. Wasn't allowed to make a speech, and the Groom needed no more emotional support than Stonehenge does.
Still, I held them rings damn good.
Got a whole bunch of Beef Jerky, Babe Ruth bars, Almond Joys and Reece's Peanut Butter everythings from the U.S. on Friday. Eaten most of it. Got some Milkduds and some Cookie Dough bits saved for when I watch either Bad Day at Black Rock, or Point Blank, which also came across the water and into my Ice Cream domain. Well done, my secret smuggler of good.
Ice Cream is also a medium rare, 400g Bife De Lomo from The Gaucho Grill Piccadilly. Crisp and smokey on the outside, red as a fire engine inside. Tastes like being a man. I reccomend the corn romero and chicken Longanzia. I found the service there to be excellent, and quite cute.
Had a twitch in my left eye since June. I'm worried it's going to pop and go wall-eyed on me.
Going to go listen to some Sean Paul now.
'The number 12 bus is a sexy bus,
it's a friendly bus,
it's a bendy bus.'
No-one puts Baby in the corner. That's where I sit.
Monday, September 04, 2006
It's the Punisher. I'm guessing the issue itself (#40) won't live up to the promise this cover image sets up. Two little automatics against an attack helicopter? I'm sure bookies don't really lay odds on fictional gunfights in semi-pop culture, but if they did I'd still probably get strange looks.
I'm confident whatever happens, that helicopter has pushed him too far this time.
Speaking of mad, bad sons of bitches, here's one for the ladies.
Dog, yes. But Ice-Cream through and through. Man's best friend and no lie.