Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Summer (sort of)

So the weather is, for a little while at least, approaching something approximating what one might call "summery". To that end I would like to talk to summer, and the opposite sex, and I am well aware that some of this might sound a bit creepy. If that happens I apologise, I am not the word-smith I should be after 16 years of formal education.

So first of all, I have always thought of myself as a "winter person". I don't like heat. If you are uncomfortably cold you can put on more clothes. It won't look that odd. If you are uncomfortably hot you take more clothes off - which may result in nakedness. It is not recommended on a day-to-day basis. I love the way snow can transform a familiar scene into a twinkling, blanketed fairytale paradise. Snow is fantasy. Sun is sweating and burnt skin.

Despite this I do still enjoy Summer. I have been re-assessing my status as a winter person because now I am not so sure. Winter fashions are usually way cooler (no pun intended - even if it was it wasn't a good pun). But as I say: Summer has its upsides. The upside of summer is that attractive young women up and down the land, when trying to decide what to wear, will pull a flowery dress out of the wardrobe and think "why not?" The downside is that fat, middle aged men up and down the land, when trying to decide what shirt to wear, will look at their flabby, naked torso in the mirror and think "why not?" So you get two halves. Manic pixie dream girls gliding gaily across the pavement, and guys walking down the road half naked and with their neck chain tangled up in their chest hair.

You can see why it is easier to call myself a winter person. Well that and the depression.

Another thing I have been thinking about is how for someone (sort of) young, contemporary and modern, I still think of myself as old-fashioned. I don't "do" make-up, expensive clothes or jewellery. Why does a man need these things? I really don't understand fake tanning for men and women but that's probably another topic. There are other things too, how I sometimes will see members of my own generation and regard them as "whippersnappers". I think that there are certain things that at the absolute very least have to be considered polite to the opposite sex. Not looking at a girl's arse once she has walked past you (ignoring the chauvinism) is simply the polite thing to do. I have never been so curious to find out what a particular woman's arse looks like to try the "look-over-the-shoulder" manoeuvre. I hope I never will be. I also think it is impolite to watch a woman eating a banana. I shouldn't have to explain that one, really, it just makes sense.

But other things have happened! Events, dear boy, events. I watched Schindler's List. What can you say really? Fantastic performances all round. Do I even need to bother writing more about it, when so much has already been said? There was Robin Hood, too. First (just to get it out of the way), Russel Crowe's accent is a mess. I have no idea where he is supposed to be from, it seems to change from scene to scene. It was decent multiplex-fodder, but don't expect much more. Some (unintentional) highlights were Robin Hood and Maid Marion's "funny banter", Robin coming roaring out of the water and Robin's "OMGHAX!!!11" trickshot-headshot. I also watched The Road, which is a pretty decent post-apocalyptic thriller about a father and son's travels across a ravaged America.

I bought Some Cities, by Doves. I have this thing about having three albums by the same band that I love (not like, love). So far only The Bees had managed it. Doves have also managed it. I also bought LCD Soundsystem's new album. Welcome to the "Three-Album-Love-Club", Mr. Murphy. I'm not making too much headway with my "Albums I Need To Buy" list but then again there are so many albums to get. Animal Collective's back catalogue. The other two Walkmen albums. The rest of The Smiths back catalogue. Death Cab for Cutie. Blur's back catalogue. The other Decemberists albums. The new Errors album. So much music, so little time.

But on the bright side I have Foals' new album. Ah. May. Zing. I am loving the hippity-hop influenced "Miami" but the whole album's a gem. I'm not sure what albums I'll be getting next, or the next films I'll be watching. Not that I have a super-hectic schedule but long films can be a problem when you get home from work at 7:00 and albums aren't best listened to on a noisy Tube train. Especially when your good, noise cancelling ear phones are broken. AAAH! Anyway.

I am going to Wembley on Sunday. Not to play, of course. Me and my dad are going to see Dagenham and Redbridge play Rotherham in the League 2 Play-Off Final. And our post man is going too, because I just found out today he is The Dagger's mascot (or rather the man in the suit), Digger the Dog. Apparently. Laytaz.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

More Ramblings

So I probably should have mentioned I went to see Doves play at Troxy. Were they amazing? Yes they were. The crowd weren't great, they didn't really sing along and some people in the crowd kept chanting "gooners" at them. Also they didn't seem interested in any crowd participation. Still the band were good. Also after the set an image was beamed onto the stage declaring our need to "save BBC 6 Music". And quite right too. During a few of Doves' songs they played videos behind them, which was pretty cool. Also Cherry Ghost were opening for them and they were pretty good as well.

So now to some of the other stuff I need to say. Yesterday I played CS:S for probably the first time in what seems like a year. I was never particularly good at video games anyway (despite the fact me and some mates were in a Call of Duty clan and then a Counter Strike: Source clan) so I was pretty crap. Still, it was good to have some fun with a couple of mates, even if it was in a virtual world.

Yesterday was also the day I finally watched Where The Wild Things Are. You probably don't need me to say this, but it was a really good film. Yes it was weird. But it was also a fun ride, and you can take away from the film whatever you like. The special effects were well done, too - I don't usually mention that kind of thing for a film but they were particularly good. Apparently the wild things were just men in costumes, with the faces CGI'd on later to give them mouth movements and so on. It gives a better sense of immersion because it doesn't seem like there are just some big CGI monsters running around.

I suspect I may watch some more films today, and I am going to see Robin Hood tomorrow so expect some more sort of pointless reviews soon.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Prahd Tah Be Bri'ish

Recently I have been thinking about what it is to be British. I personally think our notions of "Britishness" are completely out of whack and not really relevant to my generation, and the generations to come. Think British and there are images of the past - or of the plain bizarre. World War Two, Winston Churchill, The Queen. I can understand those, in a way. But bulldogs? Anyway I have recently been thinking about what needs to change. Phrases like "proud to be British" make me uneasy. It makes me think of nationalism and xenophobia. But it really shouldn't do.

You could argue that England is the bigger problem. Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland have quite distinct cultures and traditions. England is not treated in the same way. The St George's Cross has for some reason become synonymous with xenophobia, racism, football violence. But let's just take on the problem of Britain before we move on to the component countries, shall we?

We need to somehow make a new Britishness, that doesn't rely on irrelevant past experiences. The flag is a good start. Hang one in your living room. Go on, it doesn't make you a racist. It's the first step. Now the tricky bit. For me Britain is about a sense of fair play, equality, trust, inclusion, politeness and a sense of humour with a belief that nobody is above ridicule. There are other qualities, of course, but I want ones that don't rely on past endeavours. For some reason I think of The Libertines as being the poster boys of the new British. They seem proud to be British, but not in a lairy, "you what, mate?" kind of way. We need new imagery, throw in some Olympic heroism or something like that. Something to give a sense of never giving in, despite the odds, that doesn't rely on Dunkirk.

This might seem like a load of old rubbish but I sincerely believe that we need to bring Britishness bang up to date and relevant for people. It's important, you see. It gives people a sense of community and belonging beyond their own, closed group - be it friends, regions, religions, ethnicity. That's why I'm going to buy a Union flag (off eBay probably, I have a strange hankering for a really tatty, old one) of reasonable size and see if I can hang it somewhere that won't look inappropriate. Then I'll buy my Union Jack suit. Okay that's a lie but the flag thing I am serious about.

I am on eBay now, looking for vintage Union flags. Not many about.

Also I have bought Frightened Rabbit's album 'Winter of Mixed Drinks' and it is very good indeed. The lyrics are quite brilliant, for the most part they are melancholy but I quite like that really. You need sadness to remind you how good happiness is. More later. Toodles.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Update on Stuff

So here are some things that I have done recently.

I went to see a few films. 'ark at me. I also watched some films via the magic of the Intarwebs. I also watched some of DVD, gratefully borrowed. Here's a smattering of each.

One of my "Films I Need To Watch". Probably because it gets referenced every so often. I wasn't sure what to expect from this film really. Wacky comedy? Tense thriller? To be honest I don't think it was that brilliant of a comedy. And there wasn't that much else to draw your interest. Some good performances, though. This is by no means a bad film, I just didn't think it was a brilliant one either.

Just okay, I suppose. I don't think I should dedicate more characters than that to it. Apart from maybe "why the hell was Ben Affleck in this? I thought he was a sort of credible, Hollywood actor?"

A pretty good film, some good performances all round and an inspiring story. I don't think it would ever make anybody's "best ever films" list but it was a very solid film.

Kick Ass
Everyone seems to be splitting their sides over this one. I thought it was pretty good as comedies go, even though it was apparently independently financed by the film maker it still has a very Hollywood sheen, which does tend to put me off, especially with comedies. Yes there is a lot of swearing but that sort of distracts from the point that it has some decent laughs in there.

Four Lions
Just got back from a paid preview screening of this film at Curzon Soho. Curzon Soho might be one of the nicest cinemas I have ever been to. A good selection of really good films, a bar outside the screens and a cafe upstairs. They clearly know their film, it does seem a tad pretentious but it is still a great place. I'm not sure it is strictly speaking an independent cinema - Curzon appears to be a chain - but still a good mix of independent and art house films. Anyway. Four Lions. From the maker of Brass Eye and The Day Today, Chris Morris. Absolutely fantastic. It was hilarious, the funniest film I have seen in ages about an obviously controversial topic, Islamic terrorism in Britain. There are some melancholy scenes towards the end, to make you reflect on what you have just seen but otherwise it is a absolute comic genius from start to finish. I might need to calm down with a decent sleep in order to give a credible review because I expected much, and it delivered more.

At some point I will add the albums I have bought, in summary they are Frightened Rabbit - The Winter of Mixed Drinks, Bombay Bicycle Club - I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose & The Maccabees - Wall of Arms. I'll give a review when I have listened to them enough.