Monthly Archives: July 2008

Lots Of Little Delights (And A Few Big Ones)

It’s summer in London, it’s too damn HOT and I’m miserable… but life is still good.

For starters, I’m working on DVD & Blu-ray Review for the next month and their offices are air-conditioned, unlike my sweltering flat. Plus there’s always somebody to go to lunch with; indeed, there seems to be a never-ending stream of staff members or fellow freelancers to chat with over coffee.

I’m also lucky enough to work on the same floor as my pal Vanessa, and on the floor above my other pal-in-crime Gillen, and it’s so nice going into work each morning knowing you can mess about with your mates when you get a few minutes of downtime. (Particularly if one of them has just come back from the San Diego Comic-Con with lots of interesting tales. Hmm. I may have to go myself next year…)

I’ve been getting lots of work too – which I’m very thankful for – and will be sub-editing on both DVD & Blu-ray Review and The Times until the last day of September. (Good news for my bank loan repayments!) Of course, being me, I’ve also booked a two-day trip to Venice for my birthday on 1 October. (Bad news for my bank loan repayments…) It’ll be worth it, though; sitting with a cup of coffee in St Mark’s Square on the day I turn 37 seems like a good trade-off for all the hard work I’ve been doing.

And hell, I’ll be 37. I’ll need something to cheer me up.

There are other little ways in which life is good, too:

1. The steaming hot hell of a London Underground train being offset by the cool breeze blasting through the door at the end of the carriage, particularly if you know exactly where to stand to get the full effect (which you tend to learn after four years of commuting).

2. The comedic joy of hearing Missy Elliott’s bolshy and disturbing ‘Get Ur Freak On’ on your iPod being followed by ‘Knights Of The Round Table’ from Monty Python And The Holy Grail. Sometimes iPod Shuffle has a terrific sense of humour.

3. The fact that the song used in the Watchmen trailer, the Smashing Pumpkins’ ‘The Beginning Is The End Is The Beginning’, has apparently moved into the top 40 songs being downloaded from iTunes (and, yes, I contributed to its rise through the charts).

4. The sight of grown men wearing t-shirts featuring stormtroopers, AT-ATs or Muppets, or slogans such as “I’m what Willis was talkin’ about”, and nobody looking at them twice. How wonderful it is to live in a society in which popular culture is so… well, popular. Imagine someone in the 1940s wearing a t-shirt with a cartoon character on it! Bet you can’t…

5. While I’m working at Future Publishing I’m using a freelance desk next to a lovely girl named Louise, who is possibly the nicest person I’ve ever met. Yesterday I looked up and she was holding something over the partition separating our desks – a little WALL-E figure with a sign she’d made saying, “Hello!” It was so unexpected and so funny that I’ve now made it my mission to bring in a toy every day and do the same back to her. Today she looked up and I was waving a mouse at her wearing a sign that said, “Boo!” There was much giggling.

6. Um, yeah. I’ll be 37 in October. I’m acting my age.

7. Which explains why I had a huge and serious conversation last week on the topic of which Sesame Street character would destroy New York if it had the chance. The answer?

Don’t say you never learn anything on this blog. Bet you thought it would be Oscar the Grouch, huh?

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1,001 Delights!

According to WordPress, I now have a grand total of 1,001 comments on this blog!

Thank you to everybody who’s posted since I started blogging – and here’s (hopefully) to many more!

Also, as a brief addendum to the post I made earlier today about Barack Obama:

As I was watching the Senator give his little press conference outside Number 10, I was also texting SFX‘s Steve O’Brien about how great Obama is. Steve is a big follower of politics and loves Obama too, so he was a natural choice for a discussion about the events unfolding on our TVs.

“Are you watching the press conference?” I texted, after we’d spent a few minutes praising Obama to the rafters.

“I’ll watch it later,” he replied. “I’m watching the commentary on Doctor Who‘s ‘The Brain of Morbius’ right now.”

Sometimes politics just have to take a back seat, eh?

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And A Hearty British Welcome To President, Er, Senator Obama…

I feel cheated by Barack Obama.

Two days ago the Senator for Illinois visited Berlin and appeared before 200,000 rapturous Germans to give a thoroughly Presidential speech which, as I’m sure he intended, strongly echoed John F Kennedy’s iconic “Ich bin ein Berliner” declaration of 1963. True, Obama didn’t say much that was memorable, but then again he didn’t need to. One camera sweep taking in his smooth, calm, confident pose and those thousands of adoring faces said it all. This man needs to be the next President of the United States. The Germans have already decided he is.

Then, after a brief stop-off in Paris (during which President Sarkozy made a wonderfully sly, tongue-in-cheek nod towards America’s famous opinion of his countrymen as “cheese-eating surrender monkeys”… Sarkozy, we love you too), Senator Obama arrived in London this morning to have breakfast with Tony Blair, a meeting with Gordon Brown at Downing Street and lunch with David Cameron at the Houses of Parliament.

And then he flew home.

What, no rally in Trafalgar Square? No public speeches? No chance for us British Obama fans to gather in our thousands and cheer and grin and register our support for him like the people of Berlin?

Cheated! We were cheated!

Okay, so I’m not really annoyed, and I understand his reasons for putting on a big show in Germany and not here in the UK, where we’re already regarded as fans of the USA. I’m just miffed because I want to see the guy in the flesh: the man who should be the next President of the United States, the man who needs all the support he can get because such a large proportion of American voters are looking at McCain and thinking, “He’ll do,” when they should have learned ten times over by now that they shouldn’t settle for someone who’ll do, they should fight for someone who will.

A lot of people look at McCain and see a white man. They look at Obama and see a black man. When I look at them, I see a man who is 71 next to a man who is 46. The average life expectancy for an American male is 77. Stress is one of the biggest killers in the world, and there is no job in the world more stressful than sitting in the big chair behind that big desk at the White House. Which means that a vote for McCain is, potentially, a vote for whoever he chooses as his Vice President. We don’t even know yet who that will be. Hardly reassuring, is it?

And just look at this man:

Okay, so he’s with the Dalai Lama – that’s good publicity. But who the hell is holding up who, though? They look like two pensioners out for a stroll on the seafront at Eastbourne!

Compare it to this:

Now that’s strength – it’s radiating off him. The body language, the poise, the assurance. He’s a young, powerful, intelligent man in the prime of life. I have a lot of respect for McCain’s experience, but none at all for his future. In Barack Obama, I see a man who’ll grow to become one of the greatest world leaders of all time – if the American voters let him.

If they do, I’ll be first in line to hear him talk in Trafalgar Square.

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Probably The Greatest Music Video In The History Of The World… Ever!

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It’s Good To Be A Geek…

This week has been the best week to be a geek since God invented Geekdom.

First off there was the new trailer for Watchmen, which is so amazing that I can’t even watch it a second time in case my head explodes with glee. I would post the link here but WordPress seems to have lost the ability to let me paste one on this page (and there was me thinking that WordPress would be more reliable than Blogger…), so if you want to see it, cut and paste this into your browser: http://www.watchmenmovie.co.uk/intl/uk/.

It looks so perfect I could cry: The Comedian and Rorschach are incredible, Dr Manhattan is spot-on and oh, how beautiful is that palace on Mars? It’s going to be a long, long wait until March…

Then, on a different note (or two), there was Joss Whedon’s wonderful Dr Horrible’s Singalong Blog, which unfortunately has been and gone (unless you’re in the USA and you can download it from iTunes, which we can’t seem to do from little old Blighty). Starring Neil Patrick Harris, Felicia Day and Nathan Fillion, it was a daft superhero musical which made me howl with laughter several times (particularly at the words “Balls”, “Penis” and “Poo”, which says a lot about my psyche, I fear). If you missed it and you can figure out how to download it legally (because if you download it illegally Joss Whedon loses money, so please don’t do that or he’ll hate you forever), watch it. It’s great!

Next came the first character poster for the new Star Trek movie:

I don’t know what you think, but I’m loving Zachary Quinto’s Spock, though I’m sad that Kirk isn’t wearing his yellow shirt (nice that they coloured them all in the correct colours, though). This and Watchmen are my two most looked-forward to films of 2009; I’ll be having palpitations in the cinema come March with Watchmen and who knows if I’ll survive until May for Star Trek? I’ll be a wreck. Mark my words.

And finally in my rota of geek delights… The Dark Knight.

I’m not sure that ‘love’ is a strong enough word to describe what I thought of it. I adored every minute – and there are a lot of them, as it’s very long – and felt it tried its damnedest to be a mainstream movie; kind of like a crime thriller which just so happens to have superheroes in it. Although they’re not really superheroes, to be honest – just f**ked up men having a f**ked up time.

Bale was great, allowing his supporting cast to steal the film away from him while his gadgets did all the work. Heath Ledger is as good as everybody says he is, although if the poor chap hadn’t died nobody would be even mentioning the ‘O’ word because, as we all know, the Academy don’t give a damn about performances in fantasy movies. There was a glimmer of hope a few years ago when Johnny Depp was nominated for Jack Sparrow, but I fear that’s all we’re getting for this century. Which is a shame because Ledger is very, VERY good. Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent is every inch as good, too; his is a genuinely heartbreaking character arc that took me totally by surprise.

Best of all, The Dark Knight makes Gotham City a real, living, breathing city, far more than Christopher Nolan managed in Batman Begins, in which Gotham was always shrouded in night. This Gotham is all skyscrapers gleaming in the sunlight and car-strewn highways. Hell, it’s CHICAGO! (Aside: in Batman Begins they even mention County General Hospital, which any fan of ER will recognise instantly as Chicago’s most interesting medical centre.) It’s so refreshing to have a superhero movie take place in a city that isn’t set among a New York or Los Angeles skyline, and the fact that Batman actually goes to Hong Kong in this really expands the film’s believability.

It’s amazing. It flabbered my gast. Go see it as soon as you can.

Dear lord, it’s good to be a geek this week.

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Pops Head Round Door, Waves, Then Runs Away Again…

Why hello y’all! Yes, I’m still here, just swamped. I have features to write and reviews to churn out and all sorts of other bits and pieces to do (including the much-postponed ‘putting my bedroom back together after the decorators left’ business) and thus my blog has been neglected. But I’m off for the next two weeks and, once I get a handle on all the work, I shall be back to bore you entertain you as if I never left!

Tomorrow I’m taking a day off to visit the ‘Psycho Buildings’ exhibit at the Hayward Gallery on the South Bank, and then I’m going to rewatch Batman Begins in preparation for seeing The Dark Knight on Friday. I’m also dying to see WALL-E (though I know I’ll cry because he’ll be sooooo damn cute I’ll want to take him home with me) and I am re-reading Watchmen for the THIRD time while I wait for the movie to come out next March (why is it taking so long, dammit?).

However, the fact that I spent Thursday night chatting to artist Dave Gibbons helps make the wait more bearable. What a nice chap. And thankfully, I resisted the urge to throw my arms around him and tell him how his yellow smiley face is, like, the best thing ever.

Phew.

But isn’t it just, like, the best thing ever?

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The Destroyer Of Worlds (and eyeliner)

I’m sure you all just watched the final episode of Doctor Who (and if you didn’t… run along now, nothing to see here except spoilers). I would’ve posted straight after viewing but I was too busy mopping my tears, and then I decided to watch Doctor Who Confidential and goshdarnit if I didn’t have to mop up my tears after that, too, because they showed the final few scenes again. Man, but I’m a wuss.

(It’s funny how I don’t really cry at things in the real world: I only cry when I watch certain TV shows or particular films, or when I listen to beautiful music.* It’s like I get all my emotions out through popular culture so I don’t have to deal with them for real. And you know what? That suits me just fine.)

So nobody had a freakin’ CLUE what was going to happen in Doctor Who tonight… and wasn’t it wonderful? Not a spoiler to be heard anywhere, and Who was the one show everybody was talking about for days. I even heard two British Rail ticket inspectors discussing what they thought was going to happen as they checked for fare dodgers at my local station. Russell T Davies gave an interview to the BBC this week in which he slammed the culture of spoiler-hunting and he had a point. I don’t mind the odd broad spoiler but when I know too much it completely ruins what I’m watching, like reading the final page of a book when you’re still on page 47.

I really don’t get why people want to know – is it for a feeling of power, perhaps? “I know something you don’t know…!” Well, good for you. Now piss off and let me be surprised, just how nature intended.

And thus the Doctor didn’t regenerate, but because nobody had a clue what was going to happen, for an entire week there was the faintest glimmer of doubt cast over his apres-glow persona. Delicious. I didn’t think he WOULD change (but if he did, I was rooting for Colin Salmon, just because he’s ace) and it didn’t take a genius to figure out that his disembodied hand would have something to do with it. However, did anybody spot the whole DoctorDonna thing coming? Or that Rose would get her very own half-Time Lord to take home with her? (Lucky cow.) For sheer inventiveness, I think “Journey’s End” deserves applause with all seven of the Doctor’s hands.

Also, the strangest thought popped into my head while I was watching the valiant little TARDIS bravely towing the Earth back to its home star system: with all of the vibrations the journey caused, the giant gypsum crystals of the Lechuguilla Caves in New Mexico (as seen in glorious, glittery detail in Planet Earth) would have shattered. And that made me sad…

Lechuguilla crystals

Lechuguilla crystals

Which is dumb to the max, because obviously if the Earth ever DID get towed through space by an inter-dimensional spacecraft, the forces on the planet would be so strong there’d be nothing left but a smoking rock by the end.

Oh well. *shrugs*

* When I say ‘beautiful music’, I don’t mean the Iron Maiden concert taking place at Twickenham Stadium as I type this. In stark contrast to last week’s Bon Jovi gig, I’ve shut my windows tonight…

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