Sunday, November 23, 2008

Hair Don't

I feel I must share this all with you.

I am a man who has, for as long as I can remember, hated getting haircuts. As child I would wail incessantly and flail like I was having a seizure to avoid the barber even touching my hair. For years as a teenager I decided to cope with this problem by simply not going to the hairdresser. It was only after people started calling me "rat fink" that I decided I needed a certain amount of care in that department. Since then I have regarded haircuts as a necessary evil.

I don't know what it is, but you can't seem to get a decent haircut for a decent price these days. Last year in Nottingham I had to get my hair cut regularly by students for 3 bucks a pop, because all the barbers in the city centre were charging £16 or over, which, quite frankly, I am not willing to pay for just a trim.

In KDY I have always gone to the same place. It used to cost me £4.50 and I was always happy with the service I got. No-frills haircut: never great, but cheap and once I murder it with product no-one would notice anyway. Recently however, this place has been getting a lot worse. The people who used to work there have moved on and been replaced. There are three guys who work there now and none of them are that good.

This time though, they really, really fucked up. I went in and sat down, and told the guy what I wanted. Which is short back and sides, just a trim, and don't get creative. All was going well, until for no apparent reason, he reached up with the clippers and cut a square centimetre chunk out of my hairline at the temple. I wasn't happy but thought I would trust the guy to know what he was doing. Strangely, having done this to one side of my head, he then left the other side untouched, giving me an asymmetrical look, as if I had mange on one side of my head only. I mentioned it to him, but he told me he had "just squared it off a bit". I wasn't happy but bit my tongue.

I went home and looked at myself in the mirror. I thought I looked like I had been shaved ready for surgery. It looked terrible. He had plainly made a mistake and cut off too much hair, and I think he knew that he had done that because he didn't do the other side as well. I also discovered that I had a mole I didn't know about before on the pale, virginal skin of my skull, which has not seen the sun since I first grew hair in the mid-eighties. This should be a good indication that he went too far. So I marched back up to the barbershop to start some shit. At this point I didn't care that I had been going to that barbershop for years, and if I alienated them there would be nobody left to cut my hair.

I went in and told them I wasn't happy with the haircut. I explained that he had cut off too much hair and I was now asymmetrical. He offered to do the other side. I told him I didn't want him to do the other side, I wanted my money back. He kept saying that he had just squared it off, and I had had a full haircut so couldn't have my money back. I think the barber (who shall remain nameless as shall his shop) knew he had done me wrong, but it pained him to admit it. I could see I was close to getting my money back.

One thing you must know about Fife, is that no matter where you are, if you are having an altercation of any sort in a public place, some random tosspot will always pitch in his two cents. In this case it was one of the customers who waiting to be served. He was that sort of guy who always blunders into any discussion and gives you his totally unasked-for opinion. You know the sort of guy I mean. I don't want to put too fine a point on it, but the barbershop is quite close to Smeaton, and the customer to whom I am referring was reading The Sun.

"I've never heard of someone asking for their money back after a haircut" He tutted, like that was a good enough reason for someone not to do it. Well, you have now pal. I explained to the gentleman that while this was none of his business in the first instance, I was not going to pay for a haircut that I was not satisfied with, and that I had been coming to the barbershop for years and had always been happy (lies) with the result. But then they had never shaved a huge chunk out of my head either. At this point I was given my money and I left. I didn't even have to threaten never to come to the barbershop again (although take it as a given that I won't be going back) or even threaten to destroy them, which as a journalist it would be well within my power to do. I have a column coming up, and I could easily use that to bitch about being given a shit haircut.

Anyway, I left, never to return. That is the last time I will ever pay for a haircut. I have had it. I'm buying clippers and I'm just going to do it myself from now on. I'm not going to do it right now because the shaved-out chunk is literally to the skin, and I think it would look weirder if I shaved it shorter all over. In fact the only thing I could do to make it even is to go completely skinhead, which I would only do if I joined the army or if pattern baldness set in. So I'm just going to have to cope with looking like I've escaped from some kind of laboratory. Which sucks because I have to meet with some important people this week. Bollocks.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Hot Damn!

Somebody actually died of eating chilli peppers this week. It's true. He engaged in a manful competition to see who could devour most of the scorching peppers with a bowl of Dolmio sauce and then had a heart attack. Apparently he was complaining of itching all over so maybe he also had a stroke or some kind of brain embolism. This scares the bejesus out of me, because frankly, if someone bet me to eat a bowl of chillis with cooling Dolmio sauce I probably would. That dead guy might as well be me.

I'm a sucker for hot food. I come from the school that believes if a food doesn't make you sweat then it's probably not worth eating. I like a food that bites back. Anyone who has sampled my jerk chicken will tell you I have a tendency to overseason things. I like food to be so hot you'll shit your pants just to cool down.

I am also a sucker for extreme marketing, and am known to purchase any condiment that has either of the following things printed on the label:
1) the word "death".
2) a picture of a flaming skull.

This leads me to hope that any autopsy on this bold, bold gentleman will reveal some other cause of death, because although he died chasing the ultimate chilli high, if it turns out that I'm playing Russian roulette every time I eat a meal and chillis actually contain some kind of secret carcinogen, then it's going to take some of the enjoyment out of it for me.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Do Androids Dream of Meryl Streep?
Do Androids Dream of Quantum Leap?
Do Androids Dream of Little Bo Peep?
Do Androids Dream of The Big Sleep?
Do Androids Dream of Ryan Phillipe?
Do Androids Dream of Uriah Heep?
Do Androids Dream While my Guitar Gently Weeps?
Do Androids Dream of Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap?
Do Androids Dream of Creep?
Do Androids Dream of the Battle of Ypres?
Do Androids Dream of owning a jeep?
Do Androids Dream of Gormley Keep?
Do Androids Dream of Haggis and Neeps?
Do Androids Dream of Helm's Deep?
Do Androids Dream of the Wild Eep?
Do Androids Dream of Beep Beep, Richie, Beep Beep?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Snakes on a Plane

Snakes on a Plane
Snakes on Dean Cain
Snakes on Bahrain
Snakes on Robbie Coltrane
Snakes on Singing in the Rain
Snakes on Nathan Lane
Snakes on Max Payne
Snakes on Peter Hain
Snakes on Dara O'Briain
Snakes on Insane in the Membrane
Snakes on He Got Game
Snakes on John McCain
Snakes on Bloodrayne
Snakes on Tom Jane
Snakes on Drury Lane
Snakes on Citizen Caine
Snakes on Purple Rain
Snakes on Kurt Cobain
Snakes on Slaine
Snakes on John Wayne
Snakes on Come Back Shane
Snakes on John McClane
Snakes on David Blaine
Snakes on Big Daddy Kane

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

New job

I start a new job on Monday as a proper journalist. This is good news, and I will write about it in greater detail soon.

Just remember, if you want to dine with the devil, you need a long spoon.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Fact of the Day


The first human fatality due to robots was recorded in 1979. One Robert Williams, a factory worker in a Ford plant in Michigan, was killed when the arm of a robot designed to retrieve parts from storage struck him in the head.

Urada Kenji, a Kawasaki engineer who died in 1981, is often cited as the first person to be killed by robot attack. While performing maintenance on a robot, he was pushed into a grinding machine by the robot's arm. Some idiot had forgot to deactivate it while it was been tinkered with, and it clearly didn't take too kindly to some flesh-bag interfering with it.

Robots are a threat, I tell you. I pray to Metal Jesus that he shows us mercy.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Spin-offs Suck

(pictured: Torchwood - only one of them is all in the way straight, and they all look ridiculous walking in slow motion.)

I've recently been watching BBC 3's Torchwood - which I previously avoided like the plague - due to an intense feeling of having missed something in the series finale of Comrade-General Who the other month. There was so much that I felt I didn't understand full about Russell T. Davies' reconstructed Whoniverse, that I resorted to watching what I knew to be an utterly awful spin-off show to plug the gaps. Let me tell you I have not been disappointed. It is the worst sci-fi show I have ever seen in my life. By far. I have watched most of the first season and every episode has been like pulling teeth.

Partly it's the script, which is beyond lousy, and the characterisation, which makes no sense at all, and seems to actually change from episode to episode. Is it the acting? Maybe. John Barrowman is reasonably good in Doctor Who as a comedy sidekick with a penchant for armaments and buggery, but as a brooding hero type? It doesn't really figure. And it's not because he's gay, it's just because there's a rotten script to go along with the concept of having a gay hero, because apart from his sexuality the character is so poorly drawn, and because at the end of the day Barrowman just isn't that watchable as an actor.

The other characters are unfeasibly dull as well. Eve Myles' character bores me to tears. Her dilemma about her affair with Owen (Burn Gorman)is an utterly unnecessary attempt to sex up the show and leaves the viewer - frankly - not giving a shit whether she chooses a boring chud or an obnoxious wee nyaff. Elsewhere the characterisation makes no sense. Throughout the first season they try to build up this impression that Ianto (Gareth David-Lloyd) harbours all this utter despair and a burning hatred for Jack, who whacked his cyber-lady G-friend in the fourth episode. Surprisingly, within a few episodes, he seems to get over it, then boffs Jack, the murderer of his girlfriend, instead. Whatever, Russell T. Davies.

I was actually going to watch Torchwood tonight, but I was so put off by the idea of sitting through another episode that I actually decided to write this blog saying how crap it is instead. What I don't understand whenever they try to bring in a more adult tone to TV shows, they do it by inserting pointless sex scenes and the word "fuck" every now and then to remind we're watching a show for grown-ups. TV's Angel, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer spin-off went a similar way some times. The second episodes of both Torchwood and Angel are in fact exactly the same - an alien/demon transfers itself from person to person by having sex with them, and then gets killed by someone in a long coat. Truly rubbish, although Angel did have its moments.

Other miscellaneous things I hate about Torchwood: 1)Way too much walking in slow motion and trying to look cool. When will people learn that walking in slow motion to a pumping bass-heavy soundtrack just makes you look like a knob. That goes double if you are wearing a long coat. 2)I cannot take anyone speaking in a Welsh accent seriously, especially if you are trying to be scary, talking dirty or speaking in technobabble. It's hard enough if they're English for Christ's sake.

Why are we even talking about this? I should go and read a book or something.

I will not be coming to live in London after all.

As many of you may know, I was recently down in our nation's capital for a job interview with a fairly prominent media organisation. Of course, being the Bond-like individual I am, I aced the interview, but I had a few misgivings about it being a fixed term contract. I was also thinking that I couldn't afford the exorbitant rates in London town. We need to be saving money for the wedding - and eventually for a house at the moment - and I have a feeling we wouldn't be able to do that there. So when they called me up on Monday to tell me I'd got the job I said I was sorry but it just wasn't enough security for me at this point. The next day they rang me up and offered me a permanent position, which I said I had to think about. After a lot of humming and hawing I was eventually decided that although it was a tremendous opportunity, and that I may well have a huge difficulty in finding a job in media in Edinburgh, it's just too risky at the moment financially. I have a feeling it would have screwed us indefinitely. So I once again turned the very generous offer down.

It's rubbish really, because I have been looking for a job like this for ages and when one finally comes around I'm not in a position to take it. It was an incredibly difficult decision to make. I sort of wished I had a magic telescope with which I could look into my possible futures. I think if I had taken the job I would have ended up a jaded, power mad media executive, like Bill Murray in Scrooged.

Oh well, what's done is done. No point in regretting it now. I have no doubt we could have made it but it would have meant a long time of financial hardship, and probably me having to turn some tricks on the old main drag. And I don't want to do that again.

I'm still waiting to hear about a reporting job in Fife, and that might still pan out for me. And if it doesn't, I will break in somehow. And if it doesn't, I will rob a bank. I will become the new John Dillinger.

Spaghetti Cat Redux

The second chapter in the Spaghetti Cat legend.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Spaghetti Cat is Lord of us All

If you haven't already seen this, check it out.

I like the idea of Spaghetti Cat appearing at random in an unexplained context. The story was much funnier before I found out the somewhat prosaic explanation for his presence, so I won't go into it here.

I think I'm going to start leaving pictures of Spaghetti Cat in seemingly arbitrary locations, just to see what happens. I hope I am able to start a cult.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Rant about the TV Licence

I like to pick my battles carefully. I am what could be described as a tactical coward, engaging in conflict only when I am absolutely sure that I will win. This strategy has served me well for years, but as you all know, I occasionally have moments in which bloody-minded rage overcomes my powerful sense of reason and I lose it completely. It usually involves money in some capacity. Those of you who are aware of my long standing legal dispute with Royal Bank of Scotland Plc (or thieving, godless swine as they are known) will know exactly what I mean. Perhaps I will be on the phone, talking to some low-level customer service serf, arguing that I shouldn't have to pay a £12 late fee, since they persist in sending my statements to the wrong address, even though I have phoned to inform them of this several times already, meaning I don't actually get the statement until long past due date. Then a change will occur in me. My normally placid and spiritual demeanour will be shaken and I will start to swear and tremble with barely contained rage. The vein on my head will bulge. I will beat the phone receiver off the wall and scream ruefully.

RBS is not the source of my troubles today, however. Today I have totally different enemy. It is the TV Licensing Authority (or penny-grubbing, shafting bastards as they are known). The TV Licensing Authority, for the benefit of our transatlantic cousins, is the organisation from whom you buy a TV Licence. This is what subsidises the BBC and even if you don't watch the BBC you can't have a TV in the UK and not pay it. They will send the heavy mob to break down your door. It's not like in Japan where you could just grin and pretend not to speak Japanese when the NHK man came around. You can end up with a rather hefty £1000 fine, or even imprisonment.

My gripe with the Licensing Authority began earlier this month when I received a letter telling me it was time to renew my licence at the end of August. I was initially confused because I had paid for the licence up front for a year at the end of September last year. My supposedly logical brain saw it like this: 1 year = 12 months. Apparently, according to the TV Licensing Authority, this is not the case. No, it seems that without realising it I had paid retrospectively for the month of September, a month for which the most part of I didn't even own a TV. I bought my licence on the 26th of September 2007, foolishly expecting it to run until the 26th of September 2008. Now, perhaps I should have known that, but this is the first time I have actually ever paid for a TV licence, and they don't make it very clear at all on the literature. This is because they want to scam you out of as much money as possible, because they are the devil.

So I phoned up to try and get the thing sorted. All I wanted, I told them, was to have my TV Licence for a year like I was I was getting when I signed up. After two conversations with slow, reptile-minded urban youths I was able to get on the phone with a manager who said he couldn't do anything, but if I wrote to customer services they would be able to change it for me.

That lying fuck.

So, nearly a month on and nothing has changed at all. I'm still in the same position. So I rang up today and offered to pay one month's worth of TV licence just so I'm covered up until we leave the flat on the 20th. Guess what? "We can't do short term contracts." Thanks a lot, you fucking drone. Apparently you have to pay an entire other year, then cancel the contract and arrange to claim the money back from the Authority. Oh, and I forgot to mention, you can only claim nine months worth of money back, meaning as well as my extra month they would be confiscating two extra months worth of dough for me for absolutely fuck all. Well, fuck you, TV Licensing Authority. I am not paying you a shitting cent.

My mistake was trying to play by rules. What I should have done when I bought the TV was just use it illegally for a week until the start of October, then got the licence. Then I would be covered until October 31st instead of August 31st. I should have known and tried to fuck them, because they would sure as hell try to fuck me if they got the chance. This is really just reinforcing my opinion that there are no rewards in this life for doing the right thing. It pisses me off that I have to give virtually everything I earn to some poisonous London turd born with a silver spoon up his arse and my licence fee/late payment fee/tax paying his six figure salary so he can twat about eating croissants and drinking bottled water that costs more than my suit. One day I'm going to defenestrate those motherfuckers. I am going to beat every last one of them senseless with nine iron. I am going to chop off their heads and stump-fuck them.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Live every week like it's Shark Week

I was looking back at a post Gen wrote about the bit in Jaws II when Jaws leaps out of the water to eat a helicopter. It made me think about sharks, and how awesome they are. Sharks are the fuckest uppest. FACT OF THE DAY: Sharks have only one natural predator. Can you guess what it is? You can find the answer here in this very rare bit of documentary footage shot for Animal Planet. The late Steve Irwin just out of shot. Or maybe he isn't out of shot at all...

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Premature Regeneration

(pictured: Who MD and Mad Woman - like it or not one or both of them is worm food)

SPOILERS - Do not read this if you did not watch last week's exciting episode of Who MD, starring Dr Donald Who as Himself and Catherine Tate as Mad Woman.

Premature regeneration - no, it's not some kind of humiliating complaint that you have to go and see a sex professional for, it's what happens when ratings-hungry TV execs decide to kill off the latest incarnation of everyone's favourite Time Lord.

While I agree that every incarnation of the Doctor has his time to go, I think that the Doctor (or the BBC at least) is using up his lives too fast. In 2005 we were treated to Christopher Eccleston's Doctor - created of about equal parts stoicism and buffoonery, with perhaps a dash of carmudgeonliness - and following his demise next year we got David Tennant with his silly quiff, weasel face and trainers. But despite my early reservations that Tennant was totally wrong for the role the man has grown on me, and now I find it hard to imagine anybody else playing the Doctor. Tennant's Doctor so balances the qualities that we expect from Planet Britain's top time-travelling physician. He fluctuates between a sort of wounded loneliness and a near-psychotic joye de vivre. So much so that you occasionally wonder if the Doctor is having fun, or just trying really hard to have fun to cope with the utter horror he seems to live with on a daily basis (planet blew up, keeps getting people killed, main squeeze trapped in alternative dimension etc). The moments that work best with Tennant's Doctor are the ones where you see the cracks appearing - when he is forced to confront the human cost of his temporal galavanting, like Peter Davison's Doctor did when he realised that he had inadvertently allowed the death of one of his companions.

In the old days, incarnations of the Doctor lasted for years. Or did it just seem that way? Tom Baker did the job for seven years continuously. But most of the rest only lasted about three years. Either way, I don't think it's time to wax Tennant just yet - he has proven a very popular Doctor. It's possible that a poorly thought out regeneration could shaft the shows popularity (Step forth from the shadows, Colin Baker!) and in any case such a formidable Doctor as Tennant's shouldn't out like a wuss having been zapped by a puny Dalek's death ray. In addition to that, he needs the opportunity for one last quip before he dies: "It's too late, I'm regenerating!" doesn't really cut it.

Doctor Who is essentially a tramp - he never changes his clothes, he hasn't got a job and he lives in a phone box. To top that off he seems to be a pervert as well - flying round the galaxy abducting any fine young fillies he desires (and for some reason gurning Catherine Tate). To play the Doctor well you need to have a somewhat whimsical aspect to you, and I think Tennant has that down to a tee. All the others who have been mentioned in connection with the role of the Eleventh Doctor - Robert Carlyle, John Hannah and James Nesbitt (Begbie, Rebus and Parlabane) - I can't really see any of them doing it properly, apart from maybe Nesbitt. But who knows? I've been wrong in the past. Gah, it's getting late and I have to go to work tomorrow. I am a businessman you see. I have no time to finish this meditation. Just rest assured I will be watching on Saturday with bated breath (or possibly on iplayer later on with bated breath) to see what they come up with. I will have my fingers crossed for a not-dead Tennant.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Old person moan of the week

(Pictured: A first class stamp - worth "fuck all" these days)

Is it just me or is a first class stamp not worth the paper it is printed on these days? Last week I spent nearly all of my free time filling in countless application forms, printing out CVs, covering letters, personal statements, photocopying documents and articles from times gone by, before folding them nicely into several big friendly brown A4 envelopes to be sent to prospective employers. I dropped them in the post box, listening to them hit the mountain of post with a satisfying rustle. "Good job!" I thought and ran around the park in celebration.

When I got back, I learned that apparently, there are now special stamps for letters over 240 x165 mm and anything over 100g in weight. I was flabbergasted. By the time I realised my error the postie had been, and there was no chance of getting my letters back. All of my work was undone. I might as well have flushed them down the bog. I called Ma Blackwood in the hope of an explanation.

"What's the deal with this?" I demanded.
"Didn't you get the leaflet?" She said, before casting the phone to the ground to brutally discipline one of my many siblings.

No, I did not get the leaflet. After a quick investigation I discovered that the system had been changed while I was in Japan on Her Majesty's secret service. I wailed in affront.

I remember the days when a single first class stamp would allow you to send even a large parcel containing generous amounts of pornography, a pound of raw sausage meat, Gentleman's Relish and a brick anywhere in the UK and it would be there the next day. Guaranteed.

Not so today. It more or less defies the point of even having ordinary first class stamps if you can't even send most birthday cards with them. As for the 100g rule, who has a set of scales just sitting around to weigh an envelope? Women, probably, but not I. I have to rely on guesstimation.

Even worse is the dawning realisation that Royal Mail may have delivered my letters anyway and charged the editors of ten regional newspapers that I want to work for a surcharge of £1.60 plus the postage to read my CV. This will probably not get me a job anywhere.

I know this is a bit of an old person style moan, and you might think that at 25 I've turned a corner into carmudgeonhood, but come on - Big long stamps? Rubbish!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


(Picture: me, Kaki and Uncle Chuck share a couple of laffs)

You know I'd just love to write a big steaming blog for you all to read but sadly things aren't shaping up that way for old Blackwood. I've got so much crap on at the moment it actually hurts. The NCTJ only have a few more flaming hoops for me to jump through before I can get round to actually being employed (properly) as a journalist. I aim to start soliciting myself for a desk sometime this week - I only hope finding a job in journalism isn't as impossible as everybody I have ever talked to says it is.

I've also been busy writing a novel. It's looking more and more like it might eventually get done. I have finally hit two completed chapters which means that it is no longer a short story and it is time to get someone more qualified than myself to look over it and tell me how to make it readable. I will post more on this when there is more to say.

I hit a quarter-century old last week. So much for all you haters who thought I'd have choked to death in a horrific pie-eating accident by now or even been suffocated by my own beard (which I have now shaved off to due cleanliness issues, and the fact it interfered with various mouth related tasks, such as eating and breathing).

No more right now.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hard Bastard of the Week

You got stabbed? Seeking medical treatment? No, just have a sausage and a bit of a kip and everything will be just dandy.


Thursday, April 03, 2008


It has been a while since I have updated, indeed some time since I have done anything not related to my course. In the first week of so-called "Holidays" I was up in Newcastle enjoying the hospitality of Amy Hunt and Fergus Mackinnon while working as a hired goon for a certain daily in the area. As usual got a lot done, had a few laughs, voxpopped a few unintelligible Geordies, got some primo ideas and advice and left with a slightly better idea of what I'm meant to be doing than before. This is good and it should be encouraged.

In addition to that I have found myself gainfully employed again. I am now a bar. man at a respected club/venue in Nottingham's centre. I like this because they pay me money to sling drinks to metallers, although it does suck that I can't drink any myself. Tantalus, one sympathises. The sheer amount of stuff vis a vis weird customers and characters that hang about would take ages to summarise, so I'll just say that I will get to that some other time.

The big news this month, however, is that Kaki and I are engaged. Apologies to my vast legion of female fans and admirers, but I'm off the market for good. I'd be lying like a mofo if I said it went down exactly the way I'd planned it, but she graciously accepted my offer and now we're betrothed. Next thing is planning how we're going to cope with the immense logistical difficulties of importing either her family from Canada to the UK for the wedding or visa versa. Perhaps we'll have it on some neutral spot in the middle of the Atlantic so nobody can complain. I hear Reykjavik is nice this time of year. We're just going to enjoy being engaged for a time though, before the nerve-spackering stress of planning takes hold.

So this is how it happened: I bought the ring some time ago with the assistance of co-conspirator Salma Conway who agreed to take me to Birmingham's jewellery quarter to make my purchase. I sort of expected the jewellery quarter to look like a Warsaw ghetto in about 1879, but actual it looked a lot like Glenrothes. Nevertheless, we got down to business and after a little while found the perfect one. It was a classy little platinum number with a slim, tapering band ideal for a lass with skinny fingers. In the centre was a gleaming diamond sitting there like the most expensive carbon allotrope you've ever seen. I got a sort of jittery feeling like being tasered by a mall security guard but being too drunk to really feel it - so I bought it and left.

All was well. I hid the ring in a secret place where Kaki would never find it. Occasionally when she was out of the house I would get the ring out and fondle it like a domesticated Gollum. Unfortunately, when you love someone you have to do this thing called "sharing". And sharing also means that you have to tell your other half things, for instance when you buy an expensive engagement ring and then cock up budgeting for it so you run out of money four days before you were supposed to go to Rome, ironically enough where you had planned to present said ring.

I am, by all accounts, a fabulous liar and deceiver, but Kaki has this way of getting through my fibs like some Orwellian interrogator. Anyway, she succeeded in catching me in a lie about my financial situation (much better now since I got paid btw) and went about tearing me apart with a combination of awkward questioning, ranting obscenities and feminine doublespeak. Kaki does have a bit of a temper, and I confess I pushed one of her major buttons by lying to her, but I can honestly say I had never seen her that angry. No - not angry - crazy. Shithouse rat, Grace Jones crazy. She was knocking plates around in the kitchen with a wild-eyed expression and cussing me out when I realised I couldn't put up with the deception any more, went through to the other room, removed my precious from its hiding place and prepared to hand it over. I walked back through to the kitchen and said I could explain everything.

So I whipped it out in our crappy little kitchen, got on one knee and asked her to marry me. Ten minutes of crying later, she agreed. Talk about an emotional rollercoaster. Anyway, everything got resolved in the end, I was vindicated and it was established that I would only lie to Kaki in special situations where it was in her own interest. Like this one.

So there it is, the arse-backwards, clod-like and awkward way I proposed to my soon-to-be wife. It's not the least smooth thing I've ever done but it comes close. Still, she's happy and that's what matters. The way we did it was a lot more real than if I'd performed some big showpiece proposal in Rome anyway. I'm pretty sure she'd have figured it out when I put my good shirt on in any case.

Monday, February 04, 2008


Don't read this and then bitch to me about spoilers.

This weekend I went to see Cloverfield at the big cinema in town. I was pretty pumped up about finding out what Cloverfield was after the viral marketing campaign and teaser trailers. I was a little disappointed that Cloverfield didn't turn out to be quite as iconic a monster as the likes of Godzilla or Mecha-Bingo but it was still a gripping and well-made film. Essentially what they did was turn the monster movie concept on its head - rather than focussing on the scientists, politicians and soldiers who normally are tasked with eliminating the beast it concentrates on the monster-bait civilians whose lot it usually is to be stomped, chomped or incinerated with atom breath. This means that the sudden appearance of a Cloverfield in the middle of New York goes more or less unexplained. Plot elements such as the inevitable nuking of Manhattan by the desperate military (of course anything called "Operation Hammer Down" is going to be a nuclear strike. If anyone told me they were going to initiate "Operation Hammer Down" I'd get the fuck hence) are told through either peripheral characters or through the news coverage of the events that the characters occasionally stop to gawk at.

Contrary to what a lot of reviewers have said, I actually liked the characterisation and thought it worked pretty well. Dedicating the first half hour of a film about a giant monster levelling a large metropolitan centre to watching a bunch twenty-somethings knobbing around at a party was a risky move on behalf of 'Ol JJ and his directer Matt Reeves but it honestly paid off, because throughout the film you do actually find yourself caring about certain characters. Granted, you hate them to a certain extent for not doing the smart thing and bugging out when they get several opportunities to do so, but you do genuinely hope they make it out OK and there are a couple of extremely shocking moments when characters that have been prominent throughout the first portion of the film get unexpectedly ground into a fine paste by the monster's blood-lust.

Another complaint a lot of people seem to have with the film is the 9/11 parallels are too obvious and that seven years is frankly too soon for a film about 9/11. They accuse the film of simply glorying in the destruction of New York and not actually saying anything. I can sort of see the point of these critics, but it's worth remembering that Gojira (Godzilla to you), which was a thinly-veiled allegory of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings was released in 1954, only nine years after. Besides, the horror and carnage created by both these cinematic brutes was sort of the point, wasn't it? Gojira was a safe way to pass commentary on the pain Japan still felt about the war without irking it's new "ally" the US. Surely New Yorkers deserve the same catharsis? Transferring all the anxieties of this terrible age into something tangible, rather than just a couple of pointless wars against an inscrutable enemy that doesn't deliver the sense of triumph that it should.

Here's a good point though: How many times has New York been destroyed in movies? Fucking loads! Don't ever go there!

Anyway, I digress. I suggested to Kaki (read 'forced her') that we draw how we thought Cloverfield might manifest itself. So here, without further ado are our artists impressions of Cloverfield:
Well, here is my interpretation of Cloverfield. Predictably, I went for a giant hamster design, of the kind I have been drawing for years. The monsterous hamster stomps through New York and swats a jet plane out of the sky. Observe the plane dropping an H-bomb on the rodent scourge. Like all hamsters, it has giant, square bollocks.

Not quite sure what this is. It seems to be a sort of facially-malformed cat/rat monster with a lizard tail. Note also atom breath. I also like the embryonic Death-Chicken design that has been scribbled out.

So who is closer? I won't tell you because it will spoil the surprise of seeing for yourself.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

You are in for a mental beasting.

Hilarious in a terrible, guilty way.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Slow News Day

(Pictured: Heathrow crash - not quite as bad as we'd have you believe)
I have to admit to feeling slightly underwhelmed by the coverage of the BA 777 crash at Heathrow on Thursday. Fair enough, it could have been disastrous and people could have been killed, only saved by the actions of the skilled air crew (just doing their jobs, surely?), but I can't help thinking that the news media have blown the whole thing a little out of proportion. In an instant after they heard the news on the BBC News they were on the phone to Political Editor Nick Robinson, who happened to be grounded at Heathrow on the Prime Minister's flight to China. For his part, Robinson seemed to be quite annoyed with the whole affair. I suspect they might even have woken him up, or interrupted his reading of a particularly interesting article in the in-flight rag. They asked him what he could tell them about the incident, which happened to be very little, apart from that he told them he could see some fire engines. Soon enough they seem to have got a chopper in the air and took some pictures of the crash, clearly somewhat disappointed at the lack of flames and wounded at what was clearly the aeronautical equivalent of scraping a bollard in the car park at Asda. Long and short of it, I can think of worse plane crashes to be in. Soon the news that everybody had been evacuated safely reached the Beeb and they left it alone after that.

The next day the papers did their level best to make it sound a lot more dramatic than it really was. Metro, the only paper I have time to accommodate into my busy Friday schedule ran with the slightly ill-conceived headline "WE THOUGHT IT WAS JUST A BUMPY LANDING: Air crash passengers oblivious to their brush with death". That does tend to play down the seriousness of the situation. If it had been me I would have focussed on the pilots rather than the passengers, unless they were spacking out in the cabin and foaming at the mouth in pant-shitting terror. The best part about the article was the fact that it described the passengers as "survivors". Of course they were survivors! Nobody died! I mean, technically you could say the were survivors of a plane crash but that does sort of imply that some people didn't survive.

Well, at least it beats reading another article about the Diana inquest.

Journalism: it's a funny old game.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

No to 2008

I know, I know I haven't blogged in a while. I've been horribly negligent. It's because I have a tendency to take on more than I can handle. Take for instance last year's poor career choice of journalism and supermarket shelf stacking at the same time. I walked around for weeks like a 1970's "slow" variety zombie (as opposed to a modern "fast" zombie) and have generally fallen behind with things. It's not good. This isn't even a proper blog either. Just a note to remind everyone that I'm still alive, and as soon as I can think of something witty or incisive to say and find coincidentally that I actually have the energy to write it then you can be assured I will. Quality guaranteed.