Posts tagged “Random Hand

RoboCop: 5.0 Stars


RoboCop Trilogy  -  Front DVD Cover (UK)Whilst watching this film, I realised that my life is a lot like Robocop’s.  Like him, I used to be a normal guy with a normal life, job I liked and was good at, friends, relationship, etc.  Then one day stuff happened and I ended up a half-crazed cyborg, owned by my employer, devoid of outside interests, single-mindedly saving the planet, dealing out swift justice to those that dare trash it in any way.  These days I mindlessly follow the instructions I’m given to the letter, fill in lots of forms and databases, drive around in a souped-up Ford, (well okay  I changed the stereo in it), and seek out funding wherever it’s hiding, 24/7.  I’m tormented by fragments of memory from my former life and long for redemption; and call me paranoid, but I think the rest of the environmental sector is out to get me too, because I want to do more than map and count every bug and flower there is, over and over again.  Like Robocop, I also have four Prime Directives:

1)  Serve the membership
2)  Protect the planet
3)  Follow procedures
4)  Make money (as is the case for Robocop, this last one is classified, so don’t tell anyone please)

Okay, so I’m not really a cyborg (although I do wear glasses and contact lenses and have a few fillings); and I also sleep and do other stuff at times as well; and I’m hopeless at doing what I’m told, but really, the parallels are startling.  And if more proof was needed, then about 12 years ago, when I was just starting a new job with my current employer, I had to make a presentation to a number of people, including the Group Director.  There’s a great line in this film from Dick Jones, Senior President of Omni Consumer Products.  He stands up in front of the board of directors, adjacent to a bank of TV screens showing images of the company’s products, to do something quite similar to what I had to do.  He starts off by saying, “Take a close look at the track record of this company” and then goes on to describe how the company has “gambled in markets traditionally regarded as non-profit”.  That’s what charities generally get up to, so I’ve always felt there were a lot of similarities between what I do in my job and what OCP was looking to achieve with Delta City; I’m sure I’d fit right on in there, should it be looking to recruit anytime soon at the C-level.  With my crappy little PowerPoint presentation (which I still have a copy of), I began with a very similar line.  I’m not sure anyone there at the time made the connection, but to me it was awesomely cool!  This movie is awesomely cool too.

1987 – Certificate: 18  –  USA

I love this film.  I’ve watched it loads of times.  It was one of the first DVDs I ever bought.  I imagine it’s required viewing for all the new Police and Crime Commissioners that were voted for this week too.  The whole story feels quite unique, it’s got a number of great characters in it, the acting’s good and it looks good as well, even though some of the special effects are now a little dated.  Its take on corporate greed works for me and even the theme tune is dead-on.  (I’ve no idea why the trailer uses the music from “The Terminator”.)  Be sure to watch the Director’s Cut, to get all the most violent bits.  Since her appearance in “The Philadelphia Experiment” three years before, Nancy Allen has certainly toughened up her act.  I guess all that running around with two guys transported through time does that to you.  And it’s got Miguel Ferrer in it, who was at one time the First Officer on The Excelsior in Star Trek.  Imagining having that on your CV!  The remake (which I think is due out in 2014) will be interesting.

Recommended for awesome people.  I’m sorry, but if you don’t like this film you’re not awesome and I can’t be your friend, as I’m simply too cool and you’re probably a square.

No cats, decapitations or chainsaws.  However, plenty of other body parts do get ‘removed’.

Top badass moment?  The advert for Nuke Em.  A sample of this was used by Random Hand for “The Eyeballs of War”.  As the 5th best band on the planet, this makes it badass.

RoboCop at IMDB (7.5 / 10)

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Tart: 3.0 Stars


Tart  -  Front DVD CoverI went to a gig last Saturday, to see Random Hand, Tyrannosaurus Alan and four other bands.  One of the latter was Tallowah, a great reggae band from Southend-on-Sea which I hadn’t seen before; but now I have I’ll want to see again.  I haven’t been to that many gigs over the past couple of months and oh boy did I feel it; all that ‘dancing’ and stuff people do.  I felt really unfit and my neck is sore now too.  It was like I’d forgotten what to do; weird.  Random Hand was great; it’s pretty well always great.  I’ve no idea why it’s not huge; (but then again, having heard today that the most pirated artist in the UK is Ed Sheeran, that doesn’t really surprise me).  Tyrannosaurus Alan is continuing to get better and better.  Saturday was by far the most moshing I’ve ever seen at one of its gigs.  A highlight was the tallest guy in the room crowd surfing for an entire song without touching the floor; he must have been at least 12 feet tall and as is usual for the tallest person at every gig I’ve ever been to ever, he’d managed to stand in front of me.  On the train journey home I also thoroughly enjoyed the antics of the snogging young couple sitting opposite.  She finally ended up asleep with her head in his lap, (well I think she was sleeping); probably due to a lack of air, poor thing.  I think this all goes to prove what a jolly nice, decent and tolerant person I am.  However…

2001  –  Certificate: R  –  USA
Rating Details:  Drug use, language, some sexual content and a scene of violence, all involving teens.

One thing I really hate is when the cover of a DVD has little to do with the content.  Here we have a classic example.  Whoever it is that’s on the cover, she’s not in the film at all.  Not only that, but her knickers are clearly white, whereas any we seen in the film are black; (and her skirt is totally different to the ones worn in the film too).  That’s two DVDs in a row I’ve watched that have suffered from ‘false advertising’ in this way.  Whoever designed and authorised the sleeve used for this DVD should go directly to prison and suffer some embarrassing, undignified and degrading experiences in the toilets, before finally being put up against a wall and shot.  Well okay maybe just life imprisonment then; I did say I was a tolerant person.  Oh, and before I forget, the title of the film is entirely misleading too; there’s no pastry-based food featured in it anywhere, with or without a sweet or savory filling!  So anyway, now I’ve trashed the marketing, what about the film itself?  Well, it basically follows a group of boring, spoilt, rich kids who go to a private school in New York, who spend most of their time taking drugs and trying to be ‘rebellious’.  Of course, someone gets killed, friendships get tested and we all learn a bit more about life and ourselves; well, I’m certainly glad about all that then and I’m sure you are too.  Actually I’m probably making it sound worse than it is; it is entertaining enough in its own way.  Dominique Swain (Cat Storm) looks great in a school uniform (nice legs) and her mother is some sort of saint.  It just somehow doesn’t really seem to get going before it’s all over.  Even the injection of some oh so naughty bestiality and shocking gay sex can’t wake it up.  (I bet you really do want to see it now.)  Actually there’s a brilliant review of it on IMDB, which is so good it sort of put me off even trying to write anything better here.  Go read it.

Recommended for boring, spoilt, rich kids, school uniform ‘enthusiasts’ and fans of the private education system.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  In a film filled with boring, self-centred people, the only contender is Lily Storm.  Faced with an argumentative, selfish daughter and with an equally crappy ex-husband, she remains supportive, caring and understanding.  Being the sort of mother everyone needs/wants is totally badass.

Tart at IMDB (4.3/10)


School of Rock: 3.5 Stars


School of Rock  -  Front DVD CoverI went to two really great gigs this weekend, the New Town Kings at the London Camden Barfly and Random Hand at the London Hackney Trashbar.  Each had really good support bands too.  The Barfly is in an upstairs room over a pub and the Trashbar in three adjoined cellars below an organic food store.  The Barfly is a well established venue, whilst the Trashbar only opened in March.  It took me six trains to get to and from home to the Barfly and four trains and two busses to get to the Trashbar and back; only London can manage to have a traffic jam for busses to get caught up in at midnight!  The Barfly sort of has some sort of air conditioning so it was only hot, the Trashbar has zero anything and a really low ceiling, so it was about 1000 degrees in it; in fact the ceiling is so low that two of the bands’ singers had to stand on the floor in front of the little stage, as they were too tall to stand upright on it.  Well anyway, both gigs were great and I was suitably knackered at the end of  them.  I felt sick on the way back from the NTK one on the Tube (too dehydrated) and (a first for me) felt sick on the way to the Random Hand one, (before realising I’d hardly eaten or drunk anything all day so was again dehydrated and probably suffering some sort of energy crisis as well).  Talking of gigs and music (and it makes a change to actually be able to draw a sensible link between the crap I’ve written in this paragraph and that in the next)….

2003  –  Certificate: PG  –  USA
Rating Details: Mild language and sex references

I can’t decide if I want to really really like this movie or really really  (which makes it a lot more realistic), the kids in it are generally pretty cool and okay it’s quite funny in places too.  Against it are the facts that the music featured in it is shit, (well, mostly anyway, except the Clash and Ramones songs, and I guess Immigrant Song is okay too if you really have to like that sort of thing), the school is also shit and has zero child protection in place, the end is way too “Hollywood” and Jack Black’s character is at times just a little bit too creepy.  I really want to like Jack Black, simply because he doesn’t look like George Clooney or Johnny Depp, but he makes it so, so difficult in his films at times.  (It’s the eyebrows I think, he moves then about way too much for me; they certainly take me outside my comfort zone.) In the end I’ve decided it’s an okay movie.

Recommended for people who like the sort of rock music that punk should really have finished off when it had the chance; you will either like hearing it, or get annoyed at hearing your favourite songs mangled by a load of kids and associated grown-ups; a good thing too if you take it that seriously.

No cats and no decapitations.

Top badass moment?  It has to be Jack Black’s “touch the kids” line.  It’s so way out of the park compared with the rest of the very safe script that you end up thinking, “wtf, did he really just say that”?  The delayed reaction of all the parents present in the scene (who are obviously busy thinking over what he’d just said too) makes it the best badass line in the film.

School of Rock at IMDB (7.1)


A Smorgasbord of Cactus World


Don’t you just hate it when some pretentious person with zero emotional intelligence, wants to appear posher and cleverer than they really are, by using expressions like, “a smorgasbord” of something or other? I do.  It’s stupid isn’t it? Who do they think they’re fooling? I just wanted to say that. Anyway, it’s been a while since I wrote anything here, so as a catch up on life in Cactus World, here’s a potpourri of what I’ve been up to…

Had a big row in the local Ford garage for 15 minutes, as I queried a bill of nearly £700 for work that didn’t solve the problem that the car was in there for in the first place. It’s justification? Well, the work needed doing anyway and they thought it would solve the problem. This was after it failed to ring me to discuss the issue last time I was there and raised the same concern. What’s even more annoying is the fact that when I’d first taken the car in with the problem (several visits previously) I’d told them what I thought it was, which is what it turned out to be in the end; a ten minute repair rather than three visits and a bill for around £1,000. But what do I know, I’m just an ignorant, moronic member of the public who knows nothing about cars? So anyway in the end, they suggested if I wasn’t happy I should write to them. Well done Fucking Ford’s, where customer service is clearly not a speciality; or indeed is a basic understanding of cars either. I will never, ever spend a penny with Ford again. Now officially classed as Spawn of the Devil. An interesting aside to this was that for the first time ever, when my car had been serviced (which is why it was there this time), I was rung up and told a driver would drop it off home for me. I can’t imagine this was for any other reason than they didn’t want me in the showroom again, pointing out their shabby lies.

In an effort to turn myself into the physical Adonis (that I really ought to be) and realising that over the past few months I’ve taken less exercise than I had been previously (and have consequently become a bit of a fat slob), I’ve started to walk into work again. (The horror of realising I’d spent £30 driving to and from home and work the previous month probably also had an impact too, as well as the guilt trip I get for adding to the size of my carbon footprint in this way.) We moved offices last October and the new one is further from where I live. So this fact, being very busy at work and the winter weather, had all colluded to ‘force’ me to drive in. So Monday last week, psyched up for the adventure ahead, I stepped out, alone, onto the streets of Reading. Nearly 50 minutes later a sweating, wheezing, half-dead husk of a man turned up at his office, barely recognisable as the person who had started the journey all those minutes ago. There wasn’t even a big welcome or a brass band waiting for me either, what a swizz. You know that film about that guy who has to cut his hand off to escape being trapped up a mountain, 127 Hours? Well, expect a similar effort about my epic journey, to be released around Summer 2013, entitled of course, 50 Minutes. To make matters worse, three men walked past me on my journey, leaving me to cough and splutter in the dust as they zoomed past me. Needless to say, this humiliation has had a profound effect on my mojo. Actually it wasn’t so bad and I did it again last Thursday too. It’s nearly a five-mile round trip. I went the wrong way coming home both times too; my sense of direction isn’t all that great…

Penny news. Penny is fine. I do have two bits of Penny cuteness to report though. Firstly, in a wilful act of physical vandalism associated with my walking to work, I decided I also ought to go back to doing some sit up and press ups too. In my first attempt for some time to do this, (when even getting on the floor took a great deal of effort), Penny came over and rolled around on the floor next to me. I thought that was very sweet. She was either trying to encourage me or (and this is more likely), thought it was some sort of new and rather incomprehensible cat friendly game that I was playing just for her benefit. Secondly, I was watching Red on DVD recently. (This is a film about a man who has his dog killed by some thugs and the consequences of his search for justice; it’s very good and well worth watching.) Anyway, at one point there’s a cute puppy on the screen. Penny likes to sit on my lap and watch films with me, although her taste in films isn’t apparently quite the same as mine so she generally goes to sleep. In this case however she saw the puppy and jumped onto the floor and started rolling around like a little kitten right in front of the TV. Now if anyone doesn’t think that’s extremely cute, then you are truly a heartless and unfeeling being.

I’ve had a leak in my bathroom. (By which I mean a leak in one of the walls from above, rather than a colloquialism for using the toilet.) Actually this is very boring. Anyway, it’s been fixed and the smell of damp dogs in my flat has slowly receded as it dries out. I await the redecorating being arranged by the building owners…

I’ve loved this hot weather recently. I’m a summer person and a morning person. There doesn’t seem to be a way to extend the mornings, but the recent good weather has been very welcome in Cactus World. I celebrated it by not going out into it over the two, long weekends we’ve had recently. But I can assure you, it looked lovely out of the window!

One of the most important highlights of life in Cactus World, is of course the flowering of a cactus. Last week saw two, huge, pink flowers make an appearance on my window sill. Sadly lacking an extra Bank Holiday to celebrate this momentous occasion, I was at work both days so came home to see just a rather collapsed version of them; (they only really last a day). So no photos I’m afraid, but it was a small, special highlight all the same.

I’m reliably informed by my electricity company that the average electricity bill for a one bedroomed flat is around £20-£25 per month. I work for an environmental charity, have low energy light bulbs everywhere and generally try my best not to consume too many resources. I don’t use the cooker every day, put the immersion heater on perhaps twice a week, don’t leave lights on all over the place and normally take showers rather than baths. I only heat one room in winter and I’m out most days at work. My monthly electricity bill is £63! I’ve just changed my tariff to one of those that comes with all this smart meter monitoring stuff, to see why this is the case. (Of course, I’m secretly hoping to discover that the bills have been wrong and will thus get a huge refund.) News to follow, as I investigate the crimes of the environmental criminal that I have apparently become. Guilty or innocent?

Finally, I’ve have been to a number of brilliant gigs recently. Fishbone and Random Hand at the Camden Underworld; Capdown, Random Hand and Dirty Revolution at the Camden Underworld; the Stranglers at the Hammersmith Apollo; the Undertones at the Islington Garage. Lots more too; it’s actually been a really good run of gigs, most satisfying, despite the many bruises and the partial black eye I managed to suffer. The Undertones at the Garage was probably the best. It’s the best I’ve seen the band since it reformed around ten years ago; the place was packed too. The good news is that it’s playing a gig in a pub called Powers in Kilburn in June; there’s only 100 tickets available. The bad news is that that’s exactly in the middle of the two weeks I’ve booked of annual leave, so I now have to rearrange my holiday to take this gig into account; but it’s worth it.  One small downer about the Fishbone gig was that I managed to lose a credit card, a debit card, my Oyster Card, my Rail Card, my Rail Card Pass, my train ticket home and £45; which left me with about £2 in my pocket.  I wouldn’t normally have all that lot with me either.  By some miracle I managed to find my train ticket on the floor afterwards, so at least I could get home.  That’s the first time I’ve done that at a gig. It was very annoying!

Right now I’m listening to “Let Me Go” by Rancid.


The No Win Scenero


A nightmare has come upon me.  The No Win Scenario is at hand.  My very own Kobayashi Maru, but unlike Captain Kirk I don’t think I’m going to get out of this one.  Therapy? is playing three nights in a row in London in March, for a live CD, with a different set each night.  Unfortunately, on the same three nights Random Hand are playing (on two of them) and the Automatic on the other; I already have tickets for these latter gigs as well.  If this wasn’t bad enough, I’ve also got gig clashes to deal with involving the Primitives vs King Blues, MC Lars vs the Stranglers and Stiff Little Fingers vs Power of Dreams.  This totally sucks*.  You don’t have to like any of these bands (and with my taste in music why on earth would you)?  However, I hope you can appreciate my pain.

*for those over 30 this means pisses me off.

Oh yes, happy 2010.

Right now I’m listening to “Live Young Die Fast” by Alkaline Trio.