Tuesday, 30 September 2008

a geek test...

Take the Geek Test...

Stuff White People Like

Brilliant website...

Spawned this copycat...

Geeks through the ages #7: Carlton Banks

Carlton Banks, (played by Alfonso Ribeiro), born August 4, 1974, is Will's pedantic and preppy cousin. Carlton is a firmly conservative Republican and proves both friend and foe for Will. Although Carlton and Will often trade insults, Carlton obviously cares about Will by referring to him as "the brother I've always wanted." His role model is talk show host Bryant Gumbel, and his favorite singer is Tom Jones. He is obsessed with money with money-makers like Macauley Culkin. He is often the butt of Will Smith's jokes, often about his height and his geeky dilligence towards the right wing and ultra-conservative opinions that seem to contradict his more working-class street-wise and blacker cousin, Will.

One running gag is that Carlton continuously being slapped across the head by various characters, usually due to making comments that are ridiculously self-centered (in second half of the show, for example, he would often make humorous comments about gaining his father's inheritance) or due to portraying ignorance of lives other than his own. Often Will would ask to hold what Carlton is holding and once receiving it he would slap Carlton across the head with the object.

He will always get what he wants. Through whining and general annoyance of everyone around him, resulting in a war of attrition through which he eventually gains his prized entry to Princeton university where, I imagine, he will go on to be the republican Obama. Though by the end of the run of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, he has redeemed himself by owning a Notorious BIG CD. Rap legends aside, Carlton, your shimpy stature and wild abandon when it comes to Tom Jones and other white crooners deservedly makes you this week's Geek Through the Ages.

Although, this is just awesome... Who knew that Alfonso Ribeiro, the actor playing Carlton, had his own instructional video on breaking and popping in the 80s!

Monday, 29 September 2008

comics round-up 25th September 2008

Dardevil #111:
Ed Brubaker certainly likes to run ol Matty Murdoch through the wringer a bit. He's had non-stop traumas for the entire run. From prison to Europe to Mr Fear to crazy wifey to Dakota being shot to more and more. And now there's a new villain on the scene, Lady Bullseye, a copycat of Mr Bullseye, enamoured with his skills, an assassin working for the mysterious Hand. She's going about town setting up a massive fall for ol DD, his mate Immortal Iron Fist and the newly reformed Black Tarantula. Meanwhile, Dakota's getting some fen-chui put back in her bulletholes and Matt is straying a little too close to the ex-model. Excellent first part with a nice morally shocking ending (for such an upstanding citizen as Matt) setting up another genius arc for Marvel's most underrated character from the grittiest guy to ever write him.

Marvel 1985 #5 (of 6):
I think I'm loving everything Mark Millar is doing at the moment (bar Fantastic Four). How work on Wolverine, 1985 and Kick-Ass is all superlative and with Wolverine's Old Man Logan arc and this, he's setting up a big new status quo for Marvel in the coming year. The kid has crossed over into the Marvel universe and is trying to find a hero who'll believe him about villains crossing over. Meanwhile his hometown is being shredded to bits back in the real world. From the Avengers to Fantastic Four, no one will believe him. Until he lucks out on old Spidey, cos he knows the guy's identity. Meanwhile, some purple planet-eating destroyer of worlds has just turned up in the real world. Oh-oh. Spells trouble!

New Avengers #45:
We learn more about how Hank Pym and Jessica Drew managed to stay undetected for so long and how Wanda's extinctifying of mutants during the House of M days actually was good news for them. They didn't have to worry about being defeated by mutants anymore. It's interesting seeing events you know so well, like the assault on Genosha, from different perspectives and now the whole success of the secret invasion is starting to make sense. More relevant than this month's Mighty Avengers.

Secret Invasion: Amazing Spider-man #2 (of 3):
We get to see what Spidey's supporting cast was up to while he was down in the Savage Land pounding Skrull ass. We get to see the woefully inexperienced Jackpot in action and further hints of Menace's true identity. Fingers are starting to point to long dead Harry Osborn. Not essential but good fun especially as the constantly outsmarted Skrull-beast tries and tries to hunt down Spidey while being kicked around the shop by an enimatic redhead in spandex.

X-Force #7:
This is mostly about the fallout from the Angels and Demons arc. Bastion is making moves with his newly revived anti-mutant figureheads. Meanwhile Rahne's programming is still making her want to tear poor Warren Worthington apart. This means more Archangel action and the X-Force is given its new deadly direction. Again, I was thinking of dropping this book after it finished tying up loose ends from Messiah CompleX but it's just as strong as the first arc even with a completely new creative team. Me like a lot.

All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder #10
I've waited 6 months for this issue and wonder why now. Frank Miller, concentrate on what you know and maybe this book can be rescued. After a strong #9, this is plodding, long and too text-heavy without enough forward plotting.

comics round-up 18th September 2008

Sorry this is a bit late...

Amazing Spider-man #572: New Ways to Die Book 5:
I can't tell you how amazingly great this six-parter is. It's chocked full of great content, and visuals and story and just everything and John Romita JR draws Spidey like there's no tomorrow. This week, Bullseye is unleashed and Spidey-s photographic honing device has been used against him. Meanwhile, Anti-Venom is causing all kinds of mayhem, either working for Spidey or accidently against him. We are given more hints as to the big 'who is Menace' reveal and we're set up for a jaw-dropping arc finale with Spidey vs Green Goblin, oh and Mac Gargan's back... wearing his Scorpion suit as Venom. Double trouble. It's painful knowing that the finale is out on 15th October.

Mighty Avengers #18:
Meh... kinda filler. So while the Avengers, new and mighty, are off fighting the Skrulls, we're given back stories to the Secret Invasion and how it has been carefully planned. I keep picking up these books to fill in the back stories around the reveals of the Skrulls, but so far they're hit and miss in terms of relevance and importance. This week, we learn about the stringent training programme Nick Fury is putting his Secret Warriors through and their reactions to it, before, they notice on a monitor that the Skrulls have landed.

Uncanny X-Men #502:
I was getting ready to drop this book because I was spending too much money on books each week but I'm glad I haven't yet. The X-Men close in on the mutant-hating Hellfire Club and learn more about the sinister presence orchestrating everything. Nightcrawler and Karma take their own prisoners. This all leads into a furious San Fran-destroying battle.

Pretty slow this week (even though I'm late- but there you go...)

Chris Morris = genius... be a part of his next project

from this week's Popbitch mailout:

We told you that Chris Morris' terror cell comedy had been rejected by a fearful Channel 4 and BBC. It seems they have a history of this. Muslim comedian Omar Mazouk was to present a mockumentary about misguided suicide bombers for BBC but this was also nixed. He took the idea to a TV network in Denmark instead, where it's getting rave reviews. And putting two fingers up to TV commissioners, Morris is turning his Jihadi sitcom into a film. He's got producers at Warpfilm and a distributor. All he needs now is enough money to make the film. Which is where we come in. Popbitch readers donating between 25 and 100 quid to help get the film made will get the chance to be in it. So get out your cheque book and burkha and email: fundingmentalism@warpfilms.com

Chris would not deny or confirm that recruits who sign up will also get a free al-Qaeda explosives handbook. He also wrote a brilliant article about how Martin Amis is a nob too.

Evidence of his genius:

Sway - The Signature LP (Dcypha/Konvict Music 2008)

Look Sway is awesome ok? You should know that okay? There is barely an MC in this country who can touch him for vision, originality, content, humour, emotion and scathing battle rhymes. He has it all. He has oodles of charisma. He has bundles of passion. He has kilos of respect on road and critically. Why is he not as famous as The Streets? As this promo arrived on my desk, I saw that he has signed with Akon's label and the album had been pushed back to include a collaboration of their's. Unfortunately, going to press, I hadn't heard that version.

Let's get the little things out of the way. I think I gave Sway (Dasafo) his first ever interview back when I had heard him pop up on Caramac's early 12" 'Simple and Plain' and there was buzz around his version of Nas' 'Thief's Theme'. He had just put out a brilliant collection of recordings and freestyles called 'This is my promo' and the buzz was rising. A few years later he won a MOBO and he was still unsigned and yet to release his debut album 'This is my demo'. Impressive stuff for a man so young and so fiercely independent-minded, business-minded and creatively abundant. I've hard him on all types of beats from typical UK hip-hop boom-bap fare to more grimey numbers and he has always set the bar high.

So, to his second album then.

The first thing to say is that lyrically, he has not changed. He's able to fast-rap (Fit for a King), slow-rap (Walk Away), funny rap (F UR X), sad rap (Pray 4 Kaya). The themes on the album range from spiralling arguments between lovers due to Ex-Texts, lazy wastemen, loved ones- some here, some gone, how people are still much to his annoyance downloading his tunes, and good ol hip-hop bravado, which he is fully entitled to as he has the talent for it. My only issue with the album is the beats sometimes stray a little poppy for my tastes, but that's a taste thing. Sway has definitely made this for mass appeal and will gain the fans he deserves from this. However, when Lemar crops up on 'Saturday Night Hustle', a good by the numbers pop tune, it's not for me. Lyrically and rhythmically he's still the best around and still at his most playful. Beats-wise, there are occasions when I would like to hear him on a Blufoot or a Caramac and a Last Skeptik beat rather than quite commercial-sounding synthy rap. But that's a taste thing, completely my own. I still think the guy's supremely talented and will go far, mostly because he deserves to. This is lyrically a tour de force of an album. Absolutely flawless in terms of charismatic vocals from Sway.

I'm still proud to have been one of the first guys to interview him! (oooh name drop!)

Official website

Video to F UR Ex (featuring Stush) from The Signature LP:

One of my favourite Sway tunes, Little Derek from This is my Demo LP:

Sway and beatboxer Faith SFX freestyle:

Marc Collin - Hollywood, Mon Amour (PIAS 2008)

Nouvelle Vague's Marc Collin brings us more ironic sweet acoustic cafe-jazz cover versions, but this time, the conceit is the oh so fashionable 80s, and in particular, big 80s themes like 'Eye of the Tiger' and 'View to a Kill', both reinvented as female torch-singer beauties. It's easy to sometimes miss the pastiche as the songs are remixed without irony and with a genuine love and dedication to the source material, so while the young dumb full of cum 80s is the du jour big fashion statement, it's high time to showcase how good the songs actually were, without the synths and rain-jingle-jangles. With an array of singers and a wide pallette of source material, this is a varied album full of sombre tones and hushed whispered breathy sexy almost French vocals. Blondie, Simple Minds, The Human league, Duran Duran and their godfather, David Bowie all receive the treatment, the remixing away till the melody and lyrics remain and a good song emerges, slightly more timeless than its zeitgeisty orginal. Singers include Skye, Juliette Lewis, Cibelle, Yael Naim, Dea Li, Katrine Ottosen, Nadeah, Leelou, Nancy Danino and Bianca Calandra.

Best of all is the cover of Prince's 'When Doves Cry' which manages to make it even more emotive than the impassioned original. Good kitschy stuff, perfect for dinner parties and a great conversation starter, 'Ooooh, I know this... what is it?' 'I believe it's Simple Minds... Hi, I'm Mike.' 'Hi, I'm Tina...' etc etc.

Hollywood Mon Amour sur le web

How exactly it will work:

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Little Brother - ...and justus for all (Hall of Justus 2007/8)

This is the first of five projects coming out by Little Brother's Phonte and Big Pooh. Rumours persist that there may never be another proper Little Brother album again so we will have to make-do with this effort. And Justus For All is the official newly mastered version of their mixtape with Mick Boogie, now billed as a full length album it also features 5 brand new and exclusive tracks. While the success for Get Back was very high, reviews and reactions were generally mixed, and hopefully the new, DJ-free version of Justus will put the group back on the right track with longtime fans and the mainstream fans that haven't caught on yet.

While 9th Wonder's contributions are minimal, the eclectic production meshes perfectly as Phonte and Big Pooh spit over top-notch smooth, funky, jazzy and soulful beats from Nottz, RJD2, DJ Babu, Oddisee, Khrysis, and DJ Spinna. To top it off, an all-star cast of underground MCs (Kardinal Offishall, Cormega, Skillz, Chaundon, Oh No) are on hand to spit guest verses. Every track boasts banging beats and passionate intricate wordplay. And Justus For All is another seemingly effortless classic from Little Brother, proof positive that the North Carolina duo remains one of hip-hop's most capable acts.

While the future of the group remains unclear, they have talent in abundance. It's a shame that they are victims of a lack of record sales. While The Minstrel Show and Get Back were both critical successes and underground classics, the mainstream success seemed to elude the band much to their and their record company's frustration. Whether the seeming implosion in the band's ranks is due to this is down to debate. Which is a shame as the Justus League is sitting on a hotbed of talent, and with Big Pooh and Phonte as the torchbearers of independent spirit, it would be a shame for them to hang up their Little Brother membership cards just yet. The US underground has practically disappeared so the Justus League is needed more than ever. And when you've got songs like the urgent, relevant 'Do it to Death' and the sombre passionate 'The Pressure' why would you hang up the spandex? Justus League forever. Little Brother forever. They are one of the most talented bands around, so if you like them, buy their albums, for their sake, so they know they're appreciated and keep on making those sweet sweet tunes.

There's no justice. Just us.

Little Brother perform 'Life of the Party' at Jazz Cafe (I was there!) - a remix of which appears on this new release:

Little Brother web

Playdoe - It's That Beat (Try Harder 2008)

Playdoe brings us juddering eletro and one-drop beat schematics while MC Spoek discusses all manner of filth and fuckery. Sibot/DJ Fuck provides a plethora of booty-shaking basslines and synth shudders for a mix of 80s and futuristic rap breakdowns. This occupies the same landscape as other hipster rap like Spankrock and Cool Kids, however, their crunk and B-More influenced music is of South African origin. It began in Africa, according to Afrika Bambaataa and the Chemical Brothers, and now it seems they're content to copy what's hot over here and the states. It's good dancefloor breaking stuff and the MC is charistmatically playful with his lyrics and rhythms. The influence of kwaito, hip-hop, dancehall, ghetto-tech and clubland grime all play in the mix here. Cross-over beatsmith du jour, dan le sac crops up on a remix of the sleazy title track, It's That Beat, with a 7 minute odyssey of synths and insanity.

'It's That Beat' and 'Fish gut' keep the party started before the grimy stop-start 'Gravy Yard' arrives, somewhat over the top with its synth disscordance. Highlight is 'Metro Waste Line' which seems to bring in Afrobeat chords and rhythms into the forefront, allowing Spoek to calm down and be more experimental and melodic with his vocals, singing the hook and adopting a more sombre texture while the synths and rumbling bassline jam around him. Also, dan le sac's weighty housey groovesome remix is worth a look in.

In fact, check it here:


Friday, 26 September 2008

True Blood season 1 episode 1

The new drama from Alan Ball, creator of 6 Feet Under and American Beauty deals with, yep, you guessed it, DEATH. But this time, it's all about life after death because it's about vampires. It's about socialised vampires. You see, right now, in an alternate present, vampires have developed a synthesised blood substitute and so they've entered society and claimed a truce with humans. There's still a little bit of fear but ultimately, they walk among us, and drink bottles of Tru Blood, the aforementioned blood substitute. Also, there is a craze of draining the blood from the vampire. The blood is known to enhance the healing process in humans and give a bit of a sex boost, as well as some disturbing vamp-porn surfacing.

This is all set in a small town near New Orleans. The main protagonist is Sookie, played by Oscar child weirdo Anna Paquin, who plays a clairvoyant everyone assumes is a retard. She's actually smarter than the average hick, and with a heart of gold to boost. Then sexy mysterious Vampire Bill enters and she swoons and suddenly, we're introduced to the main relationship of people from opposite worlds who are going to try and get together and do the kissy kissy.

It's an interesting premise, the twofold set-up of smalltown dealing with socialised vampires, and the other concept of can vampires be socialised. The action in this first episode is slow that and there is barely enough of a plot strand to keep it together. Hopefully, it'll be a slow-burner. Unfortunately, you can't help but compare this to his older work, and while American Beauty was a saccharin one-man show, 6 Feet Under was a televisual character study treat. This however is initially lacking in charismatic or troubled characters to keep the viewer coming back for me.

I'd give this episode an 0 negative but will be giving it a few more to see how it develops.


Geeks through the ages #6: Randal Graves

Randal Graves is a fictional character in director Kevin Smith's View Askewniverse, portrayed by Jeff Anderson. He was introduced in Smith's debut film Clerks. He also appeared in comic books, an animated series and a sequel to the original film. Just his presence in multiple media platforms is enough to render him a geek. His surly superiority, filthy mind and intricate knowledge of film flaws is what singles him out as this week's Geek through the ages.

Randal is a clerk at RST Video, located next door to the Quick Stop convenience store in Leonardo, New Jersey. In the first film and the cartoon, Randal is a prime example of the typical slacker: He works in a dead-end job, has no respect for customers, and arrives at work late every day. He periodically closes the store (during work hours) to chat with his best friend Dante Hicks, a Quick Stop clerk. Whereas Dante believes that title dictates behavior, Randal does whatever he pleases. He has been known to order porn movies for RST Video in front of customers, spit water in customers' faces, and intrude on private conversations about sex.

His life centers on movies, video games and pornography. He often quotes dialogue and discusses films, goes to other video stores to rent porn, and is often depicted in Clerks: The Animated Series with a porn magazine. His love life is nonexistent (at least in a romantic sense). The few relationships he had never lasted because of his nonchalant attitude; his ex-girlfriends were subsequently so fed up with men that they became lesbians. In contrast, it is implied he has a budding sex life, despite his overall pathetic existence; he has girls over when his mother isn't home and when she is, he brings them over to the Quick Stop.

An inability to relate to humans, an unhealthy disregard for everyone else's intelligence, a passionate affinity for Star Wars over everything else, and an unhealthy sideline in scat porn, Randal, you are truly a Geek Through the Ages.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

The truth is out there... innit.

You know when Indian call centres call you up and they give you fake names likes James Smith or Rosie o'Donnell or Conan O'Brien? Well, today I was phoned up by someone from the UK National Accident survey, claiming to be Chris Carter. He had a thick Indian accent. The name Chris Carter immediately conjures up the surfer dude who created the X Files. This is where we join the scene.

CARTER: This is Chris Carter calling from the UK National Accident Survey. Have you had an accident there in the last 2 years.

ME: No I haven't. Please take me off your list. Thank you.

CARTER: Sir! I believe you will find this is not a promotional call. This is a governmental matter.

ME: Are you from the FBI?

CARTER: Sir! I do not understand.

ME: Never mind. Your name is the same as the guy who created the X Files.

CARTER: People are always telling me this. Now, where were you on 14th May 2006?

ME: I don't know.

CARTER: I believe the truth is you were having a road accident. Is this correct?

ME: Not me. I've never been in a road accident.

CARTER: Not according to these records. Are you claiming they are falsified.

ME: Are you sure you mean me?

CARTER: You are MR SHUKLA YES? Then you had the accident.

ME: I didn't have an accident.

CARTER (reading me my address like I'm thick):....

ME: You know, I didn't live at this address in 2006.

CARTER: Yes you did... you had a road accident then. It is in our records.

ME: WHat are you talking about? I didn't.

CARTER: Sir, telling me a lie now will damage your compensation claim.

ME: But I didn't have an accident!


ME: I didn't live here in 2006.


ME: Maybe it was the previous tenant.

CARTER: Oh! Sorry. This is a mystery...

ME: Well, the truth is out there...

CARTER: I will solve this unexplained mystery. Thank you and sorry.


We're All Going To... err Live?

Yes that's right, the "scientists" screw up again and we're not going to die after all. At least until next spring. Man! They can't even destroy the universe properly.

Seriously though, yesterday news was released that one of the many magnets used at the LHC to steer and accelerate the particle stream sprung a coolant leak and the collider will stay off line until next spring.

“We are not going to be done with this before the winter shutdown, so there will be no more beam in the LHC this year,” [spokesman James] Gillies told The Associated Press. “The winter shutdown will go according to schedule, which means that we start up the accelerator complex in the spring months.”

Full story [msn.com]

Sir, are you absolutely sure? It does mean changing the bulb.

Red Dwarf turned 20 this year and, in an interview for UKTV, Robert Llewellyn announced that to celebrate its 21st next year 4 special shows will be aired [www.reddwarf.co.uk].

Only 2 of the 4 shows will sadly be new episodes (in actual fact a 2 part special). The other two will be a making of and a clip show. The hope is that, if taken well, we could well see some more of our favourite curry eating, beer swilling cosmic adventurers in the future.

Here's a couple of my favourite clips to keep you going:

It does mean changing the bulb.

He will never need a Zimmer:

TV On the Radio - Dear Science (4AD 2008)

All eyes on TV on the Radio for this their third album. You see, NME reckons their producer and drummer Dave Sitek is the most important man in music cos he's worked for Hollywood (mmmm Scarlet) and has afternoon tea with David Bowie every Thursday. But what of the rest of the band? They're just as talented as he and their previous efforts have been nothing less than mesmorising. From the difficult and admirable 'Desperate Youth Bloodthirsty Babes' to the pumped and uplifting 'Return to Cookie Mountain' they have prided themselves on fuzz-drenched guitar sustain, synths and pounding drums and rumbling basslines. All overseen by tunde Adebimpo's awkward soulful vocal finding notes and melodies in the cosmos and lifting his voice like an antenna to the sky. Still they were arty and difficult and not likely to cross over.

Here is their chance, with an NME approved producer and new canons in their armery they are ready. And while this album is brilliant in places and visionary in others, it outlives its welcome after a while and each song is slightly too long. But who cares, ultimately, because wjhen they are good they are awesome. They've added to their artrock experimental garage band sound with new awkward drums, and funk guitars and hip-hop stylings. Tunde now sounds like a mesmeric James Brown occupying multiple frequencies, losing himself in a hypnotic dance in places, like Aesop Rock doing an impression of Michael Stipe in others (this is a good thing). Amongst the tales of love and alienation, there is a political consciousness, 'Angry young mannequin, American apparently' and a flirty dirty funkiness, 'I'm gonna shake you, I'm gonna make you come'. The free jazz wall of sound is now Spector-ish in places and Numan-esque in others. Then 'Family Tree' comes on with its haunting harmonies and slow-paced tenderness and there's a TV on the Radio lovesong for the ages bewitching your ears. DLZ sounds like Saul Williams doing Primal Scream songs, which is what Saul Williams is currently doing. There must be a mutual love affair between Saul and Tunde, two deeply poet vocalists able to ride different frequencies.

This isn't quite the commercial entity that the band will expect it to be, but it's still pretty brilliant and visionary. Dave Sitek may be the NME's most important person in rock, but he's certainly not the most important person in the band. These are 5 musicians at the top of everyone's game. Just imagine if they did decide to make a pop record.

Official site
obligatory Myspace
My favourite of their songs (from 'Return to Cookie Mountain'):

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Entourage season 5 premiere *spoilers*

So we're 3 episodes into season 5 of Entourage and all is not right with Vince's world. Eric is signing clients and making a mark for himself as an emerging player; Drama is a star in his own right now having made 54 episodes of Five Towns; Ari's playing agency games with former underling Adam Davies; and Medellin is picking up stinky reviews before going straight to DVD. It's down to Turtle to transport him down to paradise for some r&r, some girls, fruit, tequila and debaucherous Entourage fun. This is where Entourage's strength lies. The gnag mentality of the boys vs the world, lapping up the ridiculousness of their surroundings and living the lives we wish we had. Much as most dramas/comedies need adversity, with characters this colourful in Entourage, does Vince need it too?

It seems that Entourage, now it has season-long arcs, is trying to grow the boys up and tell some proper drama instead of giving us the peek into the masculine bonding rituals in Hollywood that we're used to.

That's not to say that Season 5 of Entourage is weak. It's just not as fresh as it was. It's still fresher than most, with an ace soundtrack, brilliant visuals and gorgeous gorgeous girls draped over the funniest coolest guys we wish we knew. So far in Season 5, Vince has been convinced to return from paradise to face up to his career decisions and find he hasn't got a career, much as Ari still loves him. He's in career jail. He has to sell himself and charm everyone in the biz and play the game a bit. It's almost reminiscent of post-Gigli Affleck, although Affleck has gone on to do more interesting stuff than get back on the studio train. Maybe we'll see a new side to Vince. Maybe we'll see him at the top, shagging everyone in sight and getting into scrapes only Entourage could show. Either way, this season is good but not great. I'm looking forward to seeing how it develops over the coming weeks.

Preview here:

And while we're on the subject of Affleck and Gigli:

Heroes season 3 premiere *spoilers*

So, without giving too much away, let's just say that 'The Second Coming' and 'The Butterfly Effect' kick volume 3: Villains of Heroes off to an emphatic start. There's a time-travelling future Peter wondering about trying to fix fixes of fixes, unleashing a butterfly chain of events across the space/time continuum. We find out who shot Nathan Petrilli and why. We see Sylar bad-ass himself around, chomping scenery, getting back on the power-stealing mission, including visiting one that got away, resulting in one of the most chilling moments so far. I won't say anymore but that person will be forever changed. Meanwhile, who is the fatguy on Level 5 of the company's bunker in Odessa and why does he claim to be Peter Petrilli? And who are the other macabre demons with him, and why does one of them look like Marlo Stanfield from the Wire? We also find out Hiro's latest destiny quest, spurred on by a message from his past and Angela Petrilli's power.

The pacing is nice and fast, a contrast to the slow-boiling unfurling of events in the previous two series. We see the main themes quickly, the butterfly chain of messing with the time-continuum and the innate evilness within us. There is a lot of action quickly, a lot of resolutions from previous seasons and some new questions and mysteries being asked all the time. Even though the previous season was unevenly plotted, there was still plenty of drama and charm to keep you hooked in. This doesn't play on the Lost level of dangling unanswered questions in front of you instead of drama. This actually seeks to clue you in. Although it's slow and deliberate, it demonstrates that those pulling the puppet strings are in the know. Also, as powers and invoked and tested, nurtured and revealed, we follow each character's voyage of discovery around them.

This was a strong opening to what will be a great action-packed volume for the show. There's even a cheeky nod to X-Men, which this seems to be directly ripped from. See if you can spot it. Heroes season 3 debuts on the Beeb in October so not too much longer to wait.

Here's a preview:

Oi Dale Winton!

This is how you properly play human Tetris. Your show has been grossly misadvertised.

Monday, 22 September 2008

The five best graphic novels ever...

This is a list excluding major superheroes like Batman, Spider-man and Dare Devil.

Though they are numbered, they are not in order...

1) The Watchmen - Alan Moore

This is the superlative post-modern superhero tale involving pulp noir, science, hubris, the Cold War, love, lust, craziness and pirates. Told in 12 parts, it's about a disbanded team of superheroes who are being picked off one at a time in mysterious circumstances. The world has banned them, they can't stand each other anymore and yet they have to work out what sinister plot is bringing them all together again. This is absolutely amazing stuff. Check out the pretty faithful film trailer for next year's Zack Synder effort.

2) Ghost World - Daniel Clowes

Daniel Clowes is able to tell brilliant stories of stunted growth and wanted to be a child forever but dealing with the world around you and its grotesque circus of disgusting yet similarly childlike characters. This is an examination of the lives of two recent high school graduates from the advantaged perch of a constant and undetectable eavesdropper, with the shaky detachment of a scientist who has grown fond of the prize microbes in his petri dish.

3) Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth - Chris Ware

Jimmy Corrigan is a lonely man in his mid-30s with an inferiority complex, a debilitating lack of self-confidence and an overbearing mother. The plot--dealing with Jimmy's reunion with his father, who abandoned him as a child--is almost secondary, as Ware tells the tale of previous generations of Corrigan males via flashbacks, demonstrating how their own lives and circumstances culminated in Jimmy's feeling of alienation, abandonment and social awkwardness.

4) Maus - Art Spiegelman

A holocaust survivor's tale told to Art by his dad, lovingly recrafted as a tom and Jerry-esque landscape, taking away none of the pathos and complex emotion and heartache of the original source material. Required GCSE material I think.

5) Persepolis - Marjane Sartrapi

The author's oral history of Iran and her life in Iran and in France trying to retain her Iranian culture but also grow up and become independent. Fiercely funny, methodical (it's all very consistent panelling all the way through) and political. An absorbing narrative in black and white and full of simple family dilemmas and sagas, yet never taking its critical eye off the last 200 years of Iranian society and politics.

Honorable mentions:

Ronin - Frank Miller
David Boring - Daniel Clowes
Pussay - Daniel Clowes
The Dark Knight Returns - Frank Miller
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - Alan Moore
Shortcomings - Adrian Tomine
Sandman - Neil Gaiman
Quimby the Mouse - Chris Ware
Transmetropolitan - Warren Ennic
The Invisibles - Grant Morrison
American Splendor - Harvey Pekar

Also, take a look at some online comics that Jeffrey Lewis has done: http://thejeffreylewissite.com/Comix-Stuff-New.html

The worlds' [sic] greatest Youtube video!

Lingua Franca EP (Breakin Bread 2008)

This hotly anticipated EP couldn't have come any sooner as a taster for what will be an awesome full length album, Things Don't Stay the Same, later on this year.

Lingua Franca is the brainchild of UK hip-hop stalwart and premier beatsmith Ghost and versatile singer Devorah. Their creative collaborations first cropped up on Ghost's debut album, on the funky Northern Soul stomper 'Talk to Me', which had me singing all summer long. This time, they are here for keeps with more material. The EP opens 'Falling Back to Her' a slightly malevolent, almost trip-hoppy Portishead 2008-esque beat that skips and stutters and stops and starts as Devorah croons over the top about unrequited love. The other two songs show the diversity of the forthcoming album with a dirty funk tune and an almost Quantic-esque breaks-heavy finisher. They are so much more than a live funk band and Ghost's production shows no bounds with his limitless ability to stray through different genres and drums while still retaining a funky soulful edge on top. Devorah isn't your average Duffy-esque Northern Soul working man's club funk singer. She can do torch songs, funk drops and soulful ballads as well as stomping big tunes. If Duffy can hit the top 40 with her dreary pub Winehouse numbers, there's no reason why bands like Quantic and Lingua Franca need to remain in the shadows any longer. Buy the EP, then buy the album. You will enjoy it. I promise you.

Lingua Franca on Myspazz

Black Box Revelation - Live at the AB (2008

The Black Box Revelation preempt their album 'Set Your Head on Fire' with a live EP of album tracks, recorded at the AB. They are another blues duo playing punky, spiky blues rawk with just a guitarist and drummer. While they could slip into White-Stripes-generic-copy-syndrome, they manage to salvage some respectability through the spikiness of their live show. How the songs sound recorded are yet to be decided. Through 'Gravity Blues' and the incendiary 'Set Your Head on Fire', they bring a raw power to proceedings, reminiscent of the yelps and squeals of Iggy Pop and Jack White. They jam in perfect melodious harmony as the guitar flays riffs all over the clattering booming John Bonham-esque drums. While they run the risk of sounding studio-fied, the rawness they have elected to showcase here introduces them in a different light. It's a shame the recordings of the live show have been cleaned up so much because there's something to be said for the guttural dirtiness of the MC5's 'Kick Out the Jams' show, which this seeks to pay homage to. All the while though, this is a good solid EP of riffs and drums and yelps and everything you want from a modern punk-blues marriage.


Here is live proof of their abilities:

Francois Virot - Yes or No (Half Machine Records 2008)

Half Machine Recordings are setting themselves up to be an awesome label where even the more obscure stuff is worth checking because it has their seal of approval behind it. This is where Rough Trade and Domino find themselves a ce moment. Oui, j'ai dit quelque chose en Francaise, parce que Francois Virot est un grenouille.

This album is perfectly autumn. I listened to it cycling through Regent's Canal and Stoke Newington yesterday and it was a great soundtrack for the juxtaposition of slowly moving water with shopping trolleys poking out, and for urban decay tangoing with hipsters.

Like Beirut, Francois Pirot uses a lot of sharply strummed instruments and organic percussion to drive his songs about isolation and about togetherness and about everything turning, turning, turning. His brand of freak-folk-psych-folk-nu-folk-conti-folk-al melodies and dreamy dissonance as his voice breathily whispers over the top is like Thurston Moore fronting a Devendra Banhart acoustic album. There are moments of bliss-filled etherea and god-bothering hysteria on this brilliant sweet and alt-real album. With handclaps, percussive rhythms and well-strummed guitars underlying a warbly fuzzy but most definitely European vocal, this is worth checking. Francois Virot should be as big as Devendra Banhart judging by this album, and let's hope he is!


Saturday, 20 September 2008

Arrrr... Facebook be awash with poirates...

Go and change your Facebook language (located at the bottom of your home page) to English (Pirate)...

entire seconds of fun.

Go on, do it, or I'll make ye walk the plank.

Arrr. That is all.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Search Engine Rap Battle!

Thursday, 18 September 2008

HGTTG VI OMG (and another thing)

The Guardian yesterday released the news that Eoin Colfer of Artemus Fowl fame is to write the sixth book in Douglas Adams' iconic trilogy The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy; which it to be titled And Another Thing... It's due for completion by October next year.

From TFA:
Colfer, who has been a fan of Hitchhiker since his schooldays, said being given the opportunity to continue the series was "like suddenly being offered the superpower of your choice". "For years I have been finishing this incredible story in my head and now I have the opportunity to do it in the real world," he added. "It is a gift from the gods. So, thank you Thor and Odin."

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

5 more examples of Jeff Lewis' genius

1) Will Oldham Williamsbourg Horror

2) The Complete History of Punk Rock

3) Don't Let the Record Label Take You Out To Lunch

4) Sifting (Nirvana cover)

5) Life

Jeffrey Lewis - If Life Exists


Jeffrey Lewis on The Black Cab Sessions doing another one of his poignant pieces about life and everything that goes with it. Damn near perfect.

I'm off till Monday now. See you then, with some reviews and rants.

Excerpts from the guestbook at the Baha Beach Club #2

Why, oh why is your johnny machine always empty?

Pope Benedict XVI

Don't be economic girlie men!

A Schwarzenegger

[btw. this is an actual quote, I just loved it too much]

For a good time call me on 07700 913750

J Christ

Great bar, the screaming orgasms where wonderful. The cocktails weren't bad either.

N Unendo

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

short story: Terror Steam

I’m not a boob man. I like dumps like a truck, truck truck. I like big butts and I cannot lie. Boobs haunt me, pointy nipples of dextrous anxiety, low-swinging chariots of impractical soft beautiful plump pomp, inviting you to drown in flesh. I was a boob man once. I danced with undulating careening breasts, dizzyingly cushioning me, holding me, caressing me, letting me love them. But then I ruined it all when I went to Morocco.

Marrakech was a mystery of markets, mint tea and mystique, framed by minarets. This much we learned from a BBC holiday programme. We were sold and we booked our tickets that night. So did her parents. On the exact same dates. Like a prescient harbinger wrapped in fuzzy family values.

We flew over to our first jaunt in Africa, excited by uncharted territory, armed with intrepid bumbags, pictorial guidebooks and lots and lots of sun block. We were to spend a week with her parents, trawling round souks and listening to exotically-accented French, which was okay with us, it was only a week and they were lovely. They had booked us a two bedroom flat to stay in and hadn’t asked for any money for the accommodation. We were quids in and ready to blow our saved wads on souks, sex and souvenirs. Holidaying with the in-laws would be relatively painless and cheaper than a regular holiday with hotels and every meal out. Plus, they were old and British and thus likely to need to rest from the demanding sun regularly, leaving us to wander the city by ourselves, and love each other romantically and nauseatingly. We had not factored in her parents’ lust for life, zest for exoticism and hankering for time spent with their youngest child and her significant other.

They could not leave us alone. They would wake every morning and bang about in the kitchen till we woke up and sought tea, at which point they would pounce and demand our itinerary for the day. I being the lazy easy-going artiste was always up for sitting and watching the world go by, spontaneously bursting into wonderings round streets. She being the countryside-dwelling fashionista, was up for walks in hills and walks in souks. Somewhere in the middle was where the parents came in. They joined us everywhere. They would make an itinerary, ask what we were doing and then change their plans to come with us, saying ‘ooh, that sounds nice’ at everything we said we were doing. They would acknowledge that we needed time to ourselves before disregarding everything and tagging along anyway. It made me feel like I was the king of Marrakech; they obviously felt I knew something about the city’s big secrets. It made me feel like it was the 50’s and the unmarried couple had chaperones.

It was fucking annoying. Having two spare tyres filling up your boot killing any idea of romance and consistent metaphor-usage was not my idea of a holiday. We would go clubbing, they would come. We would sit by the pool; they would be in our shadow. We would haggle with marketers, they would order us to pay a reasonable price. It was like being on holiday with my own parents, except I had to maintain decorum at all times, the illusion that I was a nice boy, not screaming and crying inside, stomping about. I couldn’t be rude. I couldn’t be annoyed. I had to be the smiley happy clappy boyfriend at all times. At least if it had been my own parents, I could have reverted to teenage strops, moans and slammed doors. She maintained her decorum too, we did owe them as they were paying for our accommodation. And so the holiday went, until one day, we found something we knew for a fact they had no interest in doing. We booked it instantly.

We planned to go to a hamam, a traditional Moroccan steam bath. There were many scattered over the city, and some catered to Western spa standards, offering a posh heavily-scented service to dust-ridden travellers. Mum and dad had no interest in doing this, so we booked ourselves a special romance package, one that involved a rose bath for two, some champagne, smellies and the promise of nudity. We were sold. They accompanied us to the hamam to book our spot. We walked through an insalubrious neighbourhood. They worried about our safety. They marvelled at their gladness they were doing something else. We arrived at the spa, a heavily ornate carved wooden door led us into luxury. On arrival in the well-to-do reception, the mum sussed that it was in fact a good old-fashioned spa and decided to book her and dad in for a steam themselves. The receptionist asked if we all wanted to be together in a cubicle. The girlfriend said no. Mum said that it would be fun. My heart ached for some alone time with my naked girlfriend. Dad’s heart ached for a cold beer. And that was that, we were booked in together.

That afternoon, I changed into my swimming trunks, wrapped a towel around myself and tried to shield my manhood from my future father-in-law in the changing room. He respectfully did the same. We were tired from a day of haggling and meandering and were in desperate need of a good steam to air out our weary pores. We entered the steaming area and were pointed to our cubicle. Two benches lay either side of a gaping doorway. Steam sifted through the air looking for oxygen. I gulped down my remaining supply and sat on a bench. The dad sat next to me and we made small-talk about a particularly persistent snaggle-toothed salesman from earlier. Eventually the girls entered in their swimsuits, she was in a particularly alluring bikini, her mum in a respectable one piece. We sat down and repeated our snaggle-tooth small-talk. Steam was ushered in through the vents. It was scented and tickled our noses. We all smiled awkwardly at each other. A petite loud woman walked into our room and took one look at the girls and shook her head loudly.

‘No tops…’ she demanded. She pulled at the mum’s one piece swimsuit till it was down around her waist, her breasts flapping out and bounding over the top of the cloth. She was topless. Everyone expressed surprise. The woman stood firm in her insistence of the dress code. I immediately closed my eyes out of respect for future in-law middle-aged breasts. I heard my girlfriend take off her top, in that familiar


sound I was so familiar with. Everyone laughed nervously. I was deathly quiet. This didn’t change matters. I was in a room with my girlfriend’s topless mum. Her boobs were on display.

‘This is a surprise’, the mum exclaimed breaking the thick blanket of silent scented steam as she was scrubbed at with eucalyptus soap. We all agreed. I kept my eyes closed and my mouth shut. Now was definitely not the time to be flippant or embarrassed, each would show that I cared about boobs and I certainly didn’t want to anger the dad or make him think I was a sex-crazed boob perv. He sat a few shuffles away from me. He was in a room with his daughter’s naked boobs and his wife’s naked boobs and a guy he was certain was intimate with her daughter’s naked boobs. It couldn’t have been easy for him. I was in the middle of a new twist on the old Oedipal nightmare. We were all silent. I couldn’t open my eyes. I didn’t dare. I didn’t want anyone to think I was sneaking a peak. That would be embarrassing. I didn’t want dad to say something like, ‘Seen something you like.’

I was scrubbed at violently with eucalyptus soap by the loud petite woman. I was a little scared as I was enjoying it, a little too much. I didn’t want to get aroused by a soap-down in the same room as my girlfriend’s mum’s naked boobs. I pretended to get soap in my eyes so I had an excuse to keep them closed. They stang after a while with a need to see things and would every now and then flicker open and I would catch a blur of leathered flesh dumplings in the corner of my eye. Life didn’t get more hellish than this.

My friend Brown Bear had once said that you should look at your girlfriend’s mum to see what your girlfriend will look like when she’s old. It was one of those cheesy things you read on a jokes page of Balls magazine or something. I wondered if this rule extended to mum-boobies. I suppose how many times are people ever in this situation. I wondered if I should have a look. I wondered if the dad/husband would notice. I wondered what was going through his head. I wondered if he was wondering how many times I had seen his daughter’s boobs. I looked at my girlfriend’s boobs quickly, just to remind myself of what I was dealing with, why I was suffering politely in the corner, whether she deserved my polite sufferings, whether this hellish holiday would make or break us. They were a playful size, definitely worth suffering for. I started to get aroused. I hit panic stations. This was hell. I needed the ultimate mood killer. I stole a glance at her mum’s boobs. They were massive, old. I shut my eyes guiltily and quickly and they stung with the wrongness of life’s foibles and faux-pas’s. I felt like a sex-crazed pervert. All the while, she and her mum were making the most inane of giggly small-talk, enjoying our discomfort in an effort to scale beyond their own embarrassment.

‘Alright there?’ her father suddenly asked me. He asked in such a way that basically said, ‘Get a good look did you?’

‘Yeah, fine, just some soap in my eye.’

‘Right,’ he countered.

I burned red under my sweating pores. I felt my cheeks get even flusher. I felt my mouth get even dryer. And the fucking eucalyptus smell was getting right up my fucking nose. Stupid fucking smell. The girls fell silent, whispered, giggled. I could feel them empathising with me. This was a Freudian nightmare, never was a misused cliché so apt.

Later, I showered in silence, feeling dirty, embarrassed and under the microscope. This was surely a test. How did I react in such a situation? Surely, a flying colour pass would issue me good potential son-in-law status.

Later, we ended our spa session, lounging in luxury on beds, with cups of mint tea. We lay in silence, not a word to say to each other. What was there to say? ‘Nice jugs… your missus is more than a handful… you take after your mum…’ Nothing was appropriate. I sipped my tea. The sugar formed an unsavoury syrup texture at the back of my throat.

Later, we returned home, bewildered by how the day had unfolded. I took my girlfriend into our bedroom and we tried to talk through my humiliating psychological breakdown. She could offer me no suggestions for a cure. I would have to live with the scarring forever.

Later, we told them we were going out to eat at an old Moroccan restaurant that served traditional food and had a bizarre chandelier callisthenic belly dance later on in the evening. Would they like to come?

‘No, you guys go. We haven’t left you alone all holiday. Go and be a couple.’

All the while, I wondered if her mum thought I was looking at her breasts.

The bottom line

I am going to die sooner than expected. And when I do, I want to be listening to 'Search and Destroy' by Iggy and the Stooges, not 'Death Take Your Fiddle' by Spiritualized. I want the blaze of glory death, the last shootout with me and Sundance running out into a martyr freezeframe and dissolve to black. Poetic. Beautiful. It's hard to tell anymore if this artist's life is benefiting me, or anyone for that matter. I sit, I write stuff, sometimes on regular job time, I go out, I perform, I give to my agent and yet lives remain exactly the same and I'm expelling the same amount if not more of energy putting in time with this abstract notion of artistry.

And it makes me fucking ill. I don't eat regularly, I lose body heat quickly, I'm ill more than I'm not and I drink more beer than water on gig night. And what of these gigs in venues where the attendance is determined by how many of your friends want to plaster on a fake smile and come down and see you for the teenth time.

I got ideas, ideas for days, here's hoping someone picks something up soon.

In the meantime, pass the echinacea and make me a hot honey and lemon.

Whatever happened to the Bedingfields?

They both showed so much promise, a hint of incest and the threat of ubiquity?

What happened to them then?

Monday, 15 September 2008

Explanations and Comebacks

The Correct wrestling fan term (note - Geek term) for one who is excited at something that happens in wrestling, such as a comeback or debut, is a ''Mark''

To 'Mark Out' at something or to be a 'Mark' is how the Internet Wrestling Community (IWC) term those who are not in the know about wrestling news, rumours, politics and happenings......those who just watch it as light hearted entertainment..... Yeah, they're all virgins!
So...... here's my top 'Mark Out' Moments of debuting, or re-debuting Wrestlers........

The Undertaker - Comeback - WWF Judgement Day May 2000.
Great Comeback, I did see it coming, it was pretty obvious, but when this man turns up and is now 'alive' and dressed like the biggest stereotypical biker, it sort of fell a bit flat.... I only marked out cos I hadnt been watching wrestling for the last 8 years, so it was just good to see him again.

Chris Jericho - Comeback - WWE Raw November 2007

Brilliantly done - WWE had been using Viral marketing for months leading up to this, short video flashes here and there.... had the 'ol IWC in a right tizzy, arguing amongst themselves in regards to who it was for....Chris Jericho, New Hart Foundation..... even better was that Jericho was denying it adamantly in every interview, and seemd absolute that he didn't want to come back....then he did....spectacular! Oh and the IWC said they knew it was him all along - yeah right, Gayers!

Matt Hardy - Comeback -WWE Raw July - August 2005
After a well publicised break up with then girlfriend Lita, due to her cheating on him with Edge (all 3 WWE performers and former friends - real life geek-piers, this is not Kayfabe) Matt Hardy was fired for making the whole debacle public, but then after a few weeks, Matt Hardy was back, attacking Edge in what is still not confirmed as part of the show. Briliant even if it was scripted, but the attack was immense!

Brock Lesner - Debut - WWF Raw 2002

This massive mammoth of a man, with a ridiculous tattoo on his back, came storming down to the ring and demolished 3 other wrestlers in one go.... i didn't even have time to think, I just knew that this man was going to be massive. Unfortunately he fell off the rails a few years back, and is now fighting in UFC - always a good bet when you think you're the shit! Fucking Mental Face!

And Our Comedy Entry -

Chainsaw Charlie - WWF Raw is War - Early 1998

Chainsaw Charlie....Chainsaw Charlie....Chainsaw.... Charlie.... Say that name, does it instill fear into you.... .....

How about now....

No, didn't think so. The one on the right, Chainsaw Charlie. The one with the tights o his mush looking like a retarded Wurzal Gummage......What a Berk!

It should invoke fear, knowing that under that stupid get up is a living hardcore legend. His debut into the WWF (re-debut really, he was around in the 80's) involved him chainsawing his way out of a giant wooden box and attacking people....yeah....great huh!

Snuff - Chuck Palahniuk (Jonathan Cape 2008)

So many people assume Chuck Palahniuk is the author equivalent of a shock-jock, trying to disgust us into reading his books as soon sort of attention-seeking. They seem to miss that a lot of his novels carry the themes of abandonment and his wickedly funny, darkly gallows humour is actually a mask for a series of books about the 21st century family. There are a lot of mummy and daddy issues in all of his books, and all his characters have been abandoned in some way or another, and they're just looking for a family, somewhere to call home.

'Snuff' is the latest in this series, a short quick visceral dissection of the porn industry. Cassie Wright is an ageing porn queen staging a cum-back with the largest gangbang ever, taking 600 men into her vagina. Chuck establishes the difference between this and other 'world-record gangbangs' which have loosely been described as sex acts. The rumours going round are that the 600th man to penetrate Cassic, not only will immortalise her, but kill her too. Are we watching a snuff film?

Similar to most Palahniuk books we follow closely a character's POV of the events. However the difference here and in 'Rant' his last book, we're following a series of POV's, opinions and recollections, creating a nu-oral history of the event. Chuck plays with the fact that we're listening to conjecture, how much actually happened. We watch events unfold in real time from different perspectives. Mr 600 is Cassie's heyday schlong jockey friend, looking to help her to her world record. Mr 77 claims to be her porn baby, one in a series of men convinced she sired them through accidental pop shots inside of her. Mr 127 is an out-of-work TV actor looking to destroy rumours that have dogged his career by starring in this porn film. He is popping Viagra constantly but why? The handler who has put the whole thing together, slowly reveals her macabre plan for doing so with flashback meetings and preps with Cassie. We never hear from Cassie, she is above the action, in and out of sex comas.

We slowly build to the real reasons for the entire event, and the characters' motivations for being there.

Being a fan of Palahniuk, I can take most of what he throws. From his usual device of repeated phrases and stoccatto facts littering the prose, to the way he weaves in comment on the darker fringes of his subjects' obsessions, he is an intelligent, thoughtful and claustrophobic writer, able to change moods and topics with ease. The amount of research he puts into each of his subjects and the fringe scenes they operate out of is admirable. He is flawless in his style and his ability to tell twisted family dramas knows no bounds. This is a great book, easy to read and damning of people and families and mums and dads and informative about the porn industry and its horrific side. Snuff... it's like a drug.


A film of Chuck Palahniuk's novel, 'Choke' about cruising sex addiction meetings is out this year.

Join Chuck's writing cult here and submit short stories of your own, of which he'll provide the theme: www.chuckpalahniuk.net.

Read his gut-wrenching short-story 'Guts' here: http://chuckpalahniuk.net/features/shorts/guts

In order of favourites here are all his books, all readable:

1) Fight Club
2) Survivor
3) Invisible Monsters
4) Choke
5) Snuff
6) Haunted - read all the short stories and don't bother with the inbetween bits though
7) Rant
8) Lullaby
9) Diary


This Film Is Not Yet Rated (DVD 2006)

Kirby Dick does a documentary on the bizarre American ratings system and how the certifying board operates with immunity and no accountability for its directions.

Dick begins by examining the MPAA's set-up as an anonymous group that is exclusively funded by the major Hollywood studios. Fundamentally established to prevent children's eyes from seeing anything society would consider unsuitable, the MPAA has blossomed into a powerful force, with the difference between an R and an NC-17 rating possibly leading to millions of dollars forfeited at the box office. Actors and directors such as John Waters, Maria Bello, Mary Harron, and Kevin Smith offer their forthright opinions on these decisions, and Dick highlights many of the clips that have fallen foul of the censors. The director also compares and contrasts similar scenes from indie pictures and films produced by major studios, with the latter seemingly allowed far more leniency when it comes to avoiding the dreaded NC-17. In a wonderful twist that adds a strong narrative structure to the film, Dick hires a private detective to hunt down the MPAA's members, thereby lifting the curtain on who these shadowy figures actually are.

But the real cherry on the top of Dick's movie is his submission of THIS FILM HAS NOT YET BEEN RATED to the MPAA, which helps highlight the appeals process, and reveals the involvement of the Catholic Church and major cinema chains across the country. Entertaining and informative, Dick's movie is everything a documentary should be. Revelations come thick and fast throughout, and the director skillfully creates a palpable feeling of injustice that will leave many viewers feeling the MPAA is in urgent need of a drastic overhaul.

The bit I found weirdest though was the death knell that is NC-17... In America, if something is rated NC-17 it is deemed to have bombed at the box office, yet here in the UK, where we are more proscriptive with certificates (15 means 15, 18 means 18)... there is no problem is a film is 18. In fact, the only film where an accompanying adult will take a child is 12. In Kenya, a man took his 8 year child to see Apocalypto and the kid was traumatised in the first few minutes when they slaughter the pig. Seeing the Dark Knight with parents who brought young kids in thinking this would be a popcorn comic flick, you could hear their crying through the darkness. It's a disturbing film. Why American so hellbent on rated R and the illusion of choice it offers. Why is NC-17 so terrible? On the BBFC website, it offers guidance on why exactly films have been given their certificates, and with 12A certificates, this is necessary because it will lay out reasons like 'mild sexual references' or 'peril throughout' which gives the parent the knowledge of what to expect, especially when they are more aware of what their kids can deal with.

All in all, this is a thought-provoking film and as it came out in 2006, I would be interested to see what impact, if any, it had on the MPAA and their lack of accountability, and the murky dark presence of religious lobbyists in the background of art and cinema and culture and creativeness.

Friday, 12 September 2008

your weekend present... six degrees of geekeration...

Our blog is about geeks and nerds...

from the classic film Revenge of the Nerds... which I'm pretty sure Goose from Top Gun is in...

which relates to this...

which starred this guy...

who was trapped in the closet in an episode of South Park with...


comics round-up 11th September 2008

Slow week this week for my pull list...

Amazing Spider-Man #571 'New Ways to Die' book 4: My god, this book is off the fucking chain. John Romita JR is absolutely brilliant. Without any spoilers, this week, it's Anti-Venom vs Spider-man vs Radioactive Man vs Songbird or thereabouts, and Menace vs Norman Osborn with some interesting reveals about the source of Menace's technology. Maybe calling Menace a cheap Goblin knock-off isn't so far from the truth. We end with Bullseye released and ready to track down Spidey. The artwork on this is absolutely incredible, the panelling, the colouring, the drawings of Spidey in action. This is how the Spidey of the 60s should look drawn 40 years later.

Secret Invasion #6: So I started reading this so I knew what the Marvel 'annual big event status quo' would be when it finished. And it's not bad. However, like Civil War, the pacing is really off, with some months loads happening, and others not much- filler. I know they do this to spread out the Skrull reveals, which is the other reason I think I read this. So no major Skrull reveals this week. Mostly, Nick Fury holds the fort down in Manhatten; the Skrull Queen dressed as Spider-woman plots; and the heroes bomb it back from the Savage Land. The best bit of this issue is the last double-page illustration of the Skrull warriors and all the Avengers (Mighty, New, Secret and Young, as well as the Initiative) all going at it.

Deadpool #1: Everyone loves Deadpool cos he's so sarcy and lairy and a bit more post-modern than other heroes as he is aware he's in a comic book. This is a bit of a waste as it's a Secret Invasion tie-in and doesn't really set up an arc I'm excited about following. Hmmm.

Every comic fan should be reading 'New Ways to Die' though.

Dexter season 1 (DVD 2007)

Dexter is the kind of empty amoral sociopath we can all relate to and we all root for and the very embodiment of the morally complex world we seek entertainment from. Gone are the strong silent types, gone are the matinee idols. We root for conflicted killers like The Joker, and Dexter. Dexter works for the Miami Police Department as a blood spatter analyst, visiting crime scenes and helping figure out what happened, using his cold calculating methodical mind, and his uncanny ability to see what killers see. He has a night-time hobby too: during his off hours, he tracks down some very, very bad people who for various reasons have eluded the proper authorities. Seems his adoptive father, a cop himself, taught the kid how to channel his dark side in a 'positive' direction and so, having captured these evil doers (including a child molester-murderer and a recidivist drunk driver with a trail of bodies in his wake), Dex dispatches them with clinical precision, thus making him a serial killer who snuffs serial killers.

High concept stuff indeed.

What could be a one episode trick spins out over a whole season as we watch the empty clinical Dexter maintain the veneer of a normal life, trying to keep his job and not get too excited by the blood he sees; keep a semblance of sibling affection with the only person he would care about if he could feel emotions, his foster sister, Debra, working as a spunky detective in the same department as him. And why is sergeant Doakes on his case so much? And why does he have to put up with schlubs like horn dog Masuka? And how does he carry on a pretend-friendship with Angel. All these issues make for an interesting series. All the while Dexter claims he is emotionless but he is masking a deep childhood trauma. How else would he be able to compartmentalise his feelings so much. His damaged girlfriend Rita, chosen so they don't have to be intimate and her kids who he lavishes such time and attention on are his pretend model family. With them he gets to pretend to be a normal family guy, when underneath, he's more damaged than they will ever know.

Through flashbacks we watch his father instill a moral code in Dexter, forcing him to exact his blood-thirst on those who deserve it.

And then another serial killer arrives, creating macabre works of work with his dead victims' bodies, inspiring and titillating Dexter. This is a man who feels and has an emotional range, he just doesn't understand it yet. Soon Dexter realises this new serial killer knows more about Dexter than he does... but why?

This is absolutely riveting stuff. It's a tough gig for Michael C Hall who has to maintain enough charisma and interest to carry the whole series but the supporting cast more than carry their own. The final reveal actually works and the way it plays out over 12 episodes is tense and dramatic, yet chocked full of gallows humour and emotive drama. Highly recommended.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Geeks through the ages #5: Milhouse van Houten

I'm not a nerd, Bart. Nerds are smart.

Oh Milhouse... at least you end up with Lisa in the end. Milhouse is one of those geeks who doesn't have anything really geeky about him. He's not particularly obsessed by anything or good at anything but it's his social ineptitude and inability to relate to anyone on a basic level and his timid fear of the world that makes him today's Geek through the ages.

Milhouse is of average intelligence and has poor social skills. He is also very gullible, thus he is constantly led into trouble by the mischievous Bart, who is not shy about taking advantage of his naive and trusting friend. Milhouse is one of the few residents in Springfield with eyebrows. Homer is often heard calling him "Bart's weird friend", "that little wiener" or "the sad weird kid".

Not only am I not learning, I'm forgetting stuff I used to know.

You gotta feel for this mollycoddled kid whose mum thinks the world of him, that he will one day triumph over adversity and be the name on everyone's lips.

Milhouse is fluent in Italian due to visiting his English-language-hating grandmother Sofia in Tuscany for two weeks every year. Because of his grandmother's beatings, Milhouse learned Italian and started to wet his bed.

Milhouse is allergic to honey, wheat, dairy, non-dairy and even his own tears. He drinks Soy milk and says that real milk can kill him (though when Homer hands him rat's milk, which Milhouse believes to be cow's milk, he drinks it).

He has also demonstrated that he is a skilled Vespa rider, although he is obviously not legally entitled to operate a scooter on public roads. It is also in this episode that Milhouse had come closest to wooing Lisa, as she even kept a picture of Milhouse in her room while practicing Italian. It is implied that she is captivated by his impressive command of the language during a rather romantic outing to the local Italian immigrant establishment. However, he once again reaches a roadblock due to his ongoing fatal flaw when it comes to girls.

But I'm All Milhouse! Plus, my mom says I'm the handsomest guy in school!

Oh Milhouse... we salute you... because no one else is going to...

Your band sucks

How many bands are there in London? In the country? In the world? How many of these think they'll be the next Arctic Monkeys or the next U2? Every gig I do (myself being part of the problem), I wonder this and I wonder, in a city of hundreds of thousands of bands, how do you get noticed? What makes you stand out from the rest? You do endless gigs to audiences of one-two-three of your mates and three of the other bands mates and expect to sell CD's to people who are there to support their mates in their own vanity project, let alone in your own vanity project.

Here are some helpful hints I've picked up along the way:

- Don't play venues that give host to 1000's of bands every year, where they tell you you'll get paid the more people you bring. Your friends are sick of seeing you, they're just being nice about it. These gigs aren't special, no one new notices you and that's what you want, one-two-three strangers to see you and big you up to one-two-three of their friends.
- Play a promoted night. Find a night that actively has a brand and an audience. Ask to play there. A roomful of strangers who you can't preen to cos you sat in maths with them helps you get better.
- Don't soundcheck your entire set in soundcheck. Just get on with it. Soundchecks always run late cos the part-timer bands have all the equipment like drums and they're always the last to arrive cos work let them out late, and they're the ones who are too precious about hearing the entire song soundchecked. Play a chorus and a verse of something where all the instruments are heard, or play a cheeky cover version. If you're running late in your soundcheck, and you will be, there will be paying punters in the room. Do you want to spoil the surprise by letting them hear all your songs now, interspersed with arguments with the soundman.
- Don't have a go at the soundman, especially midset. It's like insulting a waiter while waiting for your food. He will fuck with your sound. He goes through 100s of you a week and doesn't think you're a genius and he has heard it all before and so will know better. Fair enough he's an arrogant cunt by and large, but for the set, he is your harbourmaster leading you safely ashore.
- Don't preen to the mates you were in maths with...
- Don't do banter with the audience they don't understand... 'Yo, Barry... you're here!' I once did a gig and the band before me kept shouting out 'P-I-C' much to the giggles of their mates in the audience. The alienated rest of us didn't have a clue.
- Hustle your CD. Don't disappear to cry in the toilets, or catch up with Barry who you did maths with... get out there and actively try and sell it.
- Watch the other bands. Hey, you might even learn something you fuckers. I hate it when I make the effort to watch the other bands, who are usually shit, and then when I'm on, they disappear. Or they disappear with their mates after begging you to watch them, and then reappear with their mates to do their set. Usually, one band has succeeded in bringing the majority of the crowd, cos it's their mates... it's only fair you share these people with the other fuckers doing their vanity projects on stage.
- If after 4 years, you're still playing venues where it's expected of you to bring the audience cos the only promotion is a big A1 poster with a list of band names on it (which means nothing to anyone considering the volume of bands in London), you're probably not gonna get on Jools Holland. I know this from bitter painful experience.
- Have fun... you're never gonna be the next Alex Turner. You probably won't even be the next Mark Morrison. You're doing this to forget about the ennui of working in sales or recruitment, so enjoy it, don't get arsey, especially with your audience or the soundman, and get out there and have some fun.

I'm not being bitter... I'm being realistic cos my band is as painfully mediocre as yours... If I wasn't, I wouldn't have time to write this blog. I'd be finishing up the festival season like a proper pro.

Mr Lingo's Funktropic Paradise September 2008

Each month, our in-house funk geek, Mr Lingo will be bring you the finest info on the finest funkadelic vinyl to be funking about in your funkbags...

This month, being September, we bring you his September chart:

#1 - Tru Thoughts Presents Black Gold 12"

A jam-packed 12" of funk and killer dancefloor beats. First up Hint gives the inimitable Hot 8 Brass Bands 'Jisten To Me' a working over and produces the kind of tune you cannot wait to unleash! me & you's dance-floor filler 'Last Night' gets yet-another re-work, with Bassnectar on remix duty. TM Juke's new project with The Jack Baker Trio heads off the flip, before Trus Me gives 'Reflection' from Belleruche's 2nd LP a tweak.

#2 - Dr Rubberfunk / Smoove - Fantasy Funk 7"

When the audience to BBC radio´s Funk and Soul Show was asked to vote for their favourite artists, the likes of Nina Simone, James Brown, Bootsy Collins, James Taylor and the JBs came top in their respective fields. The guys down at the Funk and Soul Show then thought it would be a great idea to get some mixes done, as if all these legends were doing their thing in the same recording session as one band. Smoove and Dr. Rubberfunk were amongst other funk masters who rose to the challenge and with no surprise took the number 1 and 2 spots with best mixes fashioned. Awesome!

#3 - Breakestra - Lowdown Stank 12"

Breakestra's latest vinyl treat sees the light of day courtesy of Stones Throw offshoot label, 'Now Again'. Heavy, deep funk all pressed up nice and loud just the way Breakestra sound live. This 12" comes with bonus track Miss Funky Sole. Dope!

#4 - Various - Funky Forty Fives Vol.15 10"

I love this collection of rarities all pressed up on a 10" disk. Vol 15 is no let down, with 'Right On', 'Who's Gonna Take The Weight' and 'Giving Up The Food For Funk' all getting in on the action.

#5 - Speedometer - No Man Worries 7"

Speedometer have been making some awesome funk for ages, and are back with these two gems taken from "Four Flights Up' - their critically acclaimed recent LP. Both 'No Man Worries' and 'The Real Me' have been given the DJ Format attention and live up to his very high standards.

#6 - A Skillz vs Beatvandalz - Insane Bangers Vol IV 12"

As the name suggests these are indeed Insane Bangers... hip-hop/funk mash up masters the Beat Vandallz do the business once more with reworks of 'Beat Don't Stop' and 'Feelin Kinda Insane'

#7 Featurecast - The Artist Series One 12"

Another Featurecast/Goodgroove classic. Quite breakbeaty, but a sure fire dancefloor winner. One side is an update of Afrika Bambaataa's "Just Get Up & Dance" spliced with the Drummatic Twins "Feelin Kinda Strange" and on the other, you get a mash-up of various tracks including Blueboy's "Remember Me".

#8 - Ruckus Roboticus - Here We Go 12"

Roboticus has risen from nowhere to unleash his fury of funk, hip-hop and mischief on the scene. Part turntable, half drum machine, all sex machine; the robotic wonder drops this 12" that will be be highly sought after.

#9 - Bamboos - King Of The Rodeo /Can't Help Myself 7"

I love this 7", but only really for the flip with Ty in rhymesmith mode on 'I Can't Help Myself' this awesome funk-hop jam with The Bamboos. They really should need no introduction; the funkiest of antippodeans have been grabbing more attention than Kylie in hot-pants. This 7" single right here has their awesome funk groove cover of Kings Of Leon's 'King Of The Rodeo' with Megan Washington on vocals to kick it off

#10 - Various - Funky Forty Fives Vol.14 10"

Another solid black 10" of pleasure.... as 'Bullit', 'Ua Ua Rock' and 'The Loner' are all cleaned up and re-released on this collection of rarities and classics.

Mr Lingo is a deck-whore and can be found gracing every imaginable venue in Bristol with his record bag of solid vinyl funking goodness... Find him here...

and remember to check back in October for the skinny on the Autumnal vinyls that need your cold hard cash money...