Thursday, April 29, 2010

Teesside International Airport (or whatever they call it now)

hey everyone

at the risk of causing yet more emotional distress for my Dad, here's further confirmation that the Harlo gang are no longer in the same hemisphere as us!

nice to see Gran out and about in the background! notice how Christopher is trying to distract everyone from Andrew loading up the car with several items he has removed from Mum & Dad's house!

many thanks to Uncle Trevor for the pic!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

the force is strong with this one

hey everyone

well, some things seem to run in our family. a love of Batman would be one, but Star Wars is kind of the king amongst the younger members. sorry Dad, but you did sleep through most of The Empire Strikes Back at Leicester Square in 1981.

in keeping with this tradition, here's William having a go with a light saber!

he looks most impressive with it. not long after this picture was taken, however, we had to take it off him. why, you ask? clearly you are not well versed in the ways of young children then. we had to take it off because, like everything else in his world, his instinct was to try and eat it!

here's one of James with William, sat watching something after a hard day at school.

yes, that's right - nice new couches and the two of them pile cushions on the floor to sit on. oh well, if it's comfortable what can you do?

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hi Ho, Harlo Holiday.....

hey everyone

nothing lasts forever, as the saying goes, although sometimes some things feel like they do. in the case of the Harlo Invasion (or if you will "holiday"), the people of Iceland and their mystical volcanoes certainly stretched a two week visit out beyond the conventional fourteen days. however, those extra days have now come, sadly, to an end.

to the great delight of some school governing bodies and employers, a delight matched only by the contempt and disdain by the people of Iceland, the Harlo gang have taken to the skies. at long last, my Dad asked me to add in.

now, a tradition to many when ending a holiday would be to "liberate" (or, if you will, steal) any and all items which are not nailed down in the hotel. in the strictest sense of the word Mum & Dad's house isn't a hotel as such, but this did not stop their enthusiasm for engaging in this most noble practice.

the haul they loaded up was most impressive, it has to be said. what exactly they intend to do with a 1981 edition of The Complete Encyclopedia Britannica and several pairs of mismatched socks left by Fred on his last visit is anyone's guess, but there's no faulting the spirit and excitement displayed by them as they whistled away in innocence as they shoved the lot in their cases.

next came the somewhat simple task of checking in for their flight. yes, even in this day and age of high alert security it is still a pretty simple task; the "somewhat" part to it invariably comes in when you ask certain gents to assist you with it. have a look at the picture below and see if you can spot anyone with a penchant for speaking their mind in a most abrupt and direct manner who might have made the check-in process all the more involved and entertaining than it normally would be.

a clue would be that his shirt is closer to blue than it is yellow. never mind, i am sure Colin appreciated the fact that the gent who spoke to him about his checking-in approach put some warmish rubber gloves on before doing a full inspection, so to speak.

i would like to think that the Harlo gang had a wonderful time on holiday here. their reaction on leaving certainly seems to suggest that they have. i mean, look at them, proudly showing off how each and every one of them clearly had a "number one time".

Mum & Dad have had a hard time accepting the fact that they have gone (at last, my Dad asked me to add here), and that they have the house to themselves once again. look at my dear Mum. she is so upset she is smiling through the pain, waving her fist in anger at the aeroplane which has whisked them away.

as for my Dad, he is beside himself with despair and depression at the fact that they have gone. the Harlo family leaving has hit him like one imperial tonne of bricks, really. i know this because we have seen this kind of reaction before.

the above picture is how my Dad looks when he is upset. Richard, Gillian and I know this because this is the same reaction we get from him when we deliver some really bad news that is going to break his heart. examples of this reaction have been at the times we have said "Dad, i am moving into my own place.", or "no Dad, keep your money, we shall buy it ourselves.". we try not to hurt him with phrases like that, but sometimes we must and simply have to leave him to work through the visible pain.

i must say a lot of people are aware of how much my Dad will miss his guests. it's not only the people of Iceland who have tried to keep them here. a number of people, Uncle Trevor in particular, have gone to the length of offering to sell their own blood or "anything, absolutely anything at all" if it means keeping the Harlos here and several thousand miles away from them. a selfless gesture, and one that my Dad has for the most part politely declined, even thoughtfully suggesting that one or two of them avail of a bathroom to relieve themselves as they depart with their idea.

Colin, Angela, Andrew and Christopher - it has been a sheer delight having you come and stay with us. we all look forward to seeing you again real soon!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

broadcast news

hey everyone

on the off chance that the people of Iceland have another go at their version of the Hadron Collider thing, i.e. set off that volcano that has a name that no one outside of Iceland can say properly, Andrew has been having a look at what career opportunities exist for him here.

whereas he quickly dismissed his Uncle Bob's grand ideas of a life as a sailor or possibly an interior decorator, my Dad did have one or two good ideas for him. one of them involved a dynamic life of selling and wagering large amounts of money on horses, the other would be a career as a television broadcaster.

well, there you have it Andrew. if the volcanoes start again, it's a life of glitz and glamour, living the celebrity lifestyle and being hounded by the press. should these (possibly imaginary) volcanic ash clouds dissipate and you fly home, it's exams and Teesside. it sounds like a win-win situation to me!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

scenes from a mid-life crisis

hey everyone

well, a visit to my Mum and Dad at the weekend means yet more exposure to my Dad's increasing range of bizarre idiosyncrasies and ever more curious way of going about doing things. this weekend was no exception; in fact i would argue he was on top form. only a canal ride and a chance meeting with some lovely lads who live on a barge together could have made it any more perfect.

warning signs were there from the start, really. when we arrived it seems that he had decided the moment that we sent word we were on our way that cementing a piece of wood to the front door as a "draft excluder" was a particularly good idea. we arrived, then, to find our way into the house prevented as no one was allowed to walk near the cementing project. i have no pictures of this, alas, but bear it in mind for the stunning conclusion.

a little while after the festival of timber and cement it was mid-way through watching some sort of horses being sold that Dad just got up and walked out the house without a word. sensing something was up, i grabbed my camera and ran after him.

as it turns out, he was off to his newly installed and most impressive shed. as you can see below, he went there to fetch a gas-based heater.

nothing unusual in that, as such, as it was a particularly cold day. the fact that he went and fetched it, positioned it in the house and then didn't quite get around to putting it on or igniting it, however, gives you a clue to the day's proceedings.

a crowning glory for many, if you will, was when Richard returned from the shops. it transpired that he had invested in a "beanie" style hat, one bearing the flag of England. Dad asked where his was, which took Richard by surprise as there was no prior solicitation or conversation about him getting one for Dad. after a bit of a "i want it, i want it, i want it" performance, Richard opted for the quieter, simpler life and just gave Dad his. the result was a very happy Dad!

after a reasonably (by his standards) normal dinner and berating for everyone who did not get quiz questions from the newspaper correct to his exacting standards, it was just about time for us to head home. it was, needless to say, as soon as we got William and James ready to go that Dad decided his concrete based wooden draft excluder was not going to work, and thus he should "drill the bugger".

he wouldn't block off the door with a power tool and impressive tool box just as we were trying to leave, would he? oh yes, he would.

just to make sure that we knew he was going to make it as tricky to get out of the house as he did for us to get it he encouraged Colin to join in the blockade by the door!

well, there you have it. yes, i fully expect to arrive one day and find a Harley sat in the drive, or even possibly him proudly showing off a tattoo or some sort of piercing, quite frankly.

if the question is would we have him behave any other way, then the answer is no, not really, not at all. we love him just the way he is, just ask James!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

if you never say goodbye......

hey everyone

well, despite some extraordinary claims that this whole volcanic ash cloud which grounded flights did not and does not exist, getting on an aeroplane is not as easy as it once was. oh for the days of just having your shoes x-rayed, i guess. i tend to have a healthy level of skepticism on most things reported in the news, but not for one moment did i suspect that they grounded all flights around Europe for 6 or so days.

anyway, it means that the Harlo Invasion Holiday continues unabated at the moment. we have had two or three goes at saying goodbye to them but, alas, thus far they haven't made a move. this is no bad thing, really, as it has been excellent spending some extra time with them.

Colin has in particular enjoyed his extra time here, as it has meant that he has been able to interfere in the affairs of Mum & Dad's kitchen for a few days more. i have no idea why he isn't allowed to mess about in the kitchen at home; i assume that he is banned from doing so and thus is making the most of it whilst here such is his enthusiasm. anyway, here he is in action (and indeed in a pair of shorts that Richard took quite a shine to), keeping an eye on the window for any wandering clouds of volcanic ash which may very well not exist.

William is still a little bit young to grasp this whole hello and goodbye thing, really, but even he is getting somewhat perplexed by the Harlo travel itinerary. he seems to be rather curious about seeing them and saying goodbye every weekend....

meanwhile, Andrew and Christopher were delighted when their school sent some work for them to do whilst stranded here. whereas Christopher has diligently been doing the work sent to him (a number of times, i believe, as the "save" button is something that he disapproves of), Andrew has taken an interesting but nonetheless commendable approach to revision...

as for Angela, well, i have been told to put here that she celebrated her 28th birthday at the weekend. if i say no more of it you can draw your own conclusions, but in the mean time here's an ace picture of her with James and William!

well, as and when the Harlo gang do decide to cease their invasion and head home (or if the apparently imaginary volcanic ash vanishes, whichever happens first) we shall no doubt miss them a very great deal!! i will endeavour to report on any departure as and when it happens, assuming that we are all still using this "internet" thing by that time!!!!!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, April 23, 2010

putting on some clothes i made my way to school.....

hey everyone

well, as excited as you all get about what sort of flags i have on my desk at verk and as thrilled as you are about my musings on 26 year old soundtrack albums, i am sure every now and then a James and William update isn't too much interference for you!

William, as i mentioned earlier, was a bit ill last week, but i am delighted to say he is now back to his usual self. James remains very much James - he had an exciting, first ever school trip out during the week to an aviary and loved every minute!

anyway, as they were getting ready to go to school / daycare / whatever name you care to give it this morning they looked very much like they would make a perfect picture. i thus grabbed the camera as quickly as i could and here's the result!

yes, i know, very much an "aaaaaaah" moment! i am glad that i thought to grab the camera!!

they are dressed warm as we are on the verge of winter here, and indeed it looks like it could be a cold and wet weekend. maybe not, it could be a wet and cold one. i don't know. wherever you are, or whenever you are since i am led to believe one or two time travellers visit here, do have a great weekend!!!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

classic album : 1984 (for the love of big brother)

well, this one could just about fall into the category of "forgotten albums" as easily as it could classic. for a variety of reasons, the soundtrack for the magnificent 1984 film version of 1984 recorded by the Eurythmics hasn't been released or re-issued for some 15 years now.

note i say recorded by and for - as director Michael Radford wasn't really taken with the band, he re-edited the film to exclude most of the music they had made for it. this is hardly the first strange run-in with Orwell's masterpiece a musician has faced. Bowie planned a musical based on 1984 only to have the Orwell Estate refuse him permission to release it as an adaptation. he quickly knocked it into the form of the Diamond Dogs album and, showing that he was perhaps a bit cleverer with words than the Orwell Estate gave him credit, soon embarked on the cheekily named 1980 Floor Show.

as for the Eurythmics' attempt at capturing a musical experience of the book for the film adaptation, the "hard luck" they ran in to was that Virgin commissioned them to compose and record without gaining approval from the director. as said above, Michael Radford was unhappy with what they did, and after the initial run of the film soon re-edited it, replacing much of what they had recorded with some orchestral pieces.

irrespective of this, the soundtrack album was issued - in part, presumably, to generate some commercial interest and success for the film, but mostly, you would hope, because it is one of the greatest works of music from the decade.

the nine tracks take the titles from the more indelible parts of the book - doubleplusgood, Greetings From a Dead Man, Room 101 and so forth. the music itself manages a rather interesting trick. for those well versed with the book it strikes one as haunting and perfect in capturing the mood of the part the music relates to. in addition to this, though, it's surprisingly and indeed startlingly catchy music that you can dance to.

whereas you cannot get the tune of doubleplusgood out of your head for many hours after hearing it, the above is best exemplified by the single taken from the album, sexcrime (nineteen eight-four).

now, the mind boggles as to what people unfamiliar with the book or film made of that title exactly, but trust me, it fits in perfectly. it's a great dance tune - notable in particular by the exceptional 12" mix of it - and at the time not all that many Top Ten singles featured lines like "how i wish i'd been unborn / wish i wasn't living here".

i can, to a certain degree, understand Michael Radford's rejection of the soundtrack presented to him by the Eurythmics. whereas it doesn't feel particularly dated today, it does sound very much like it was recorded in 1984, and not for the 1984 envisioned in the book. the somewhat frenetic paced beats of some of the tracks would certainly not have fit all that well as the background to certain key scenes.

understanding why Radford dropped the Eurythmics soundtrack, however, does not in any way mean approval or appreciation of the way he handled it. he for some reason went very public with his disapproval, including a rather harsh denouncement of the soundtrack and the band at a televised awards ceremony.

it's not like Mr Michael Radford is known for his good sense and ability to spot all things good, of course. lest we forget he was bitterly opposed to Richard Burton being cast in the part of O'Brien. the film turned out to be Burton's last, but his performance in it - as troubled as it was with well documented cases of his ill-health being problematic when filming - stands as one of his greatest ever.

if you are a fan of the Eurythmics and for some reason don't have this in your collection then it's time to add it. for everyone else, this is far from a plain film soundtrack and is well worth a listen. with no CD issued of it in the last 15 years, rather buy a copy now before it disappears all together.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Flag For My) Far Flung Sister

hey everyone

well, first off, sorry for the delay in updates of late. William has had a bit of the sniffles and a temperature, so time has been consumed looking after him rather than indulging you with my musings. as William is considerably better, however, let us recommence my nonsense!

apologies also to Gillian, who will have no doubt noticed i have made a reference to her by somewhat altering the words, but not the structure, of a classic song title by The Stone Roses. i think the remainder of this post will, however, appease her somewhat!

with us being a mere 50 days away from a certain, well organized and problem-free event, we at verk are celebrating by beautifying our office with the flags of the 31 visitors on their way. and then some, really, as for some bizarre reason my good chum Zama has flags of non-qualifying, notably right-wing nations around his desk, but that's a story for another time. whereas for the most part the important thing was getting all the flags up in a way that looked rather good, we did get some say in which flags went where.

and thus it came to pass that i selected for my desk area the flag of the fine nation of New Zealand, or if you will Aotearoa, where some of our beloved family currently reside...

i hope you are all suitably impressed, Farnworth gang! i have had to spend a considerable part of the day explaining that it is not in fact the Australian one, and indeed give a rundown on the Southern Cross.

my desk of course does feature the flag of the nation of my birth too - hope they do well in this "certain event", but performances in the last few suggest don't get too excited! here i am, looking as ever like the consummate professional at my desk...

for some peculiar reason at verk no one seemed all that excited about having the flag of the glorious Democratic People's Republic of Korea in their area, but i jumped at the chance.

i have no idea why there is a lack of support for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea amongst my chums. they are one of the few, if only, nations that own up to being pretty much a dictatorship, so you have to give them credit for their honesty. they are also the only country who would consider a more thermo-nuclear response to any decisions that they considered dubious; the only other nation who would do such a thing are not coming, alas.

as happy as i am with my flags, Michelle at verk that is known as other Michelle took a different approach, and decided - in a rare moment when i was not sat at my desk - to beautify my verking space with a celebration of her own nation.

thanks for that, Michelle who is known as other Michelle. the only way i can express my gratitude to perfection is to publish here two quotes from your fine self today. the first one would be the rather interesting "sim, naturalmente engolo", which you followed up with the rather self-explanatory and very helpful nugget of knowledge that is "ajudo estaca para cima a indústria de
desinfectante bucal
". many thanks for sharing....

many thanks once again to my official photographer, Trigger, who of course took all of these pictures on my behalf.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Prolonged Harlo Invasion.....

hey everyone

well, just what is it with the people of Iceland? i mean, what do they have against the rest of the world, exactly? not content with unleashing rubbish singers on the world who get away with apparently being "cute"(yes, Bjork, you) and seizing financial assets from other countries in a way that not even Nazi Germany would have done, they have now willfully allowed a massive volcano to bring the airline industry to a halt.

whereas this latest incident of the Icelanders clearly have no care for the many thousands they have left stranded at airports, a somewhat unusual happy bonus is that it seems today will not be the last day of the Harlo holiday here after all. it's highly unlikely that their flight will take off as expected over the weekend.

these, then, should have been amongst the last of the pics from their holiday, but as things turn out, there could be yet more from this weekend, and possibly early next week!

first off and here are Christopher, Colin and Andrew in a picture i like to call "the picture of Christopher, Colin and Andrew". i couldn't decide between calling it "the three wise men"" or "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil", so i think my happy compromise will do!

i believe the above picture may very well revolve around a horse which did not win a race, and indeed speculation on how it might have been that they rather nearly did back the champion.

whereas my Dad feels that the ideal holiday for anyone is constant and selfless investment in to the retirement fund of a turf accountant, i am delighted to report that the holidaying Harlos were able to sneak away from such a noble thing every now and then, or at least have been able to thus far. they did, for instance, manage to make it out to the tropical world of Middelburg, where they could see Erika, Lyla and, if they really insisted on it, Richard.

Richard, however, is spending his time at the moment almost exclusively in conversations around Newcastle, in conjunction with the phrase "going up". this being the case, Uncle Colin decided (perhaps wisely) to spend most of his time talking to an absolutely enormous teddy bear instead.

this was something which clearly impressed Grandma and Lyla, at least!

they have also found the time to take in the sights of the stadiums where a certain event will be held this year. as those hosting that event cannot work out how to sell tickets for you to go to it i am reluctant to give them much publicity here, but that doesn't stop the fact that the stadiums for the event look magnificent.

and here's where the final of it will be - let's just hope that the Harlo's are not the only English visitors to it!

there is a school of thought, of course, that says if you can't go an see the new edition of this event due to the organizers' inability to even get half a pint in a brewery, then why not go for lunch with one of the few men who have been there, done that, won it?

as for other other things that the Harlos saw, well, one of them should not have been my Dad doing his trick, as it were, where he attracts sailors. Johannesburg isn't known for its coast, and thus we are for the most part bereft of docks and canals where my Dad could meet them. thankfully.

whereas we may lack traditional sailors, how fortunate for the visiting Harlos (and indeed my Dad) that we should have some "sailors of the skies" here. here's my Dad apparently bonding with some sort of hot air balloon operator....

ha! ground that, Iceland!

now then, since the subject of my Dad has turned up here, that picture of him cooking (yes, that picture) in less clothes than usual appears to have had a profound effect on him. my Dad is determined to get a pic of absolutely everyone cooking in such clothes (or lack thereof); showing a level of determination since Darth Vader's ruthless pursuit of Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back. Unlike Lord Vader my Dad hasn't embraced carbon freezing technology into this yet, but winter is on the way.

anyway, here's Uncle Colin indulging the whims of my Dad's photographic requests, and doing it with some passion too, might i say.

whereas i wouldn't want to grumble, in retrospect if Uncle Colin had dressed like this, or like this without the apron, it's entirely possible that 40% of Frankie Goes To Hollywood would have invited us backstage when he took me to see them. just a thought.....

right then, there may very well be a few more pics of the Harlo Holiday Invasion to come, depending on what Iceland decides to do with all their volcanic dust. in the mean time, it's been lovely to have them all here, and it seems that they've well and truly had a fantastic time!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Day Tripper

hey everyone

well, the Harlo Gang invasion continues, and indeed seems to be gaining some momentum. this weekend they were up at Sun City, no less. it was primarily to see the third best thing to come out of Wales (after Richard Burton and the Manic Street Preachers, not what my brother-in-law thinks the best Welsh thing is, thank you), Mr Sex God himself, Tom "bloody" Jones.

there are of course many other things to do up there - i am led to believe that Andrew and Christopher have only with the greatest of protest left the majesty of The Valley Of The Waves. another thing to do would be get a visit from us for the day whilst you are there!

well, James loves the place, so we thought we would "pop up" for the day. more on that later, but in the mean time, James just ran wild as soon as we got there. see if you can spot him below!

erm, yeah, Sun City is "just outside Johannesburg" if you are one of those types who drives really, really fast. we are not that way inclined, so ended up driving home late, in the dark and on some very ill-repaired roads. i mention this because a number of people will be heading that way in June & July for a certain event, and the Rustenberg stadium is rather close to Sun City. if you are one of those, like for instance those heading here from England or America, then do yourself a favour and book in at Sun City or one of the more affordable hotels near it - driving back to Johannesburg from there will be a nightmare for you.

righty-ho, tourist advice aside, this was Williams' first trip to Sun City outside of Mummy's tummy, so to speak. as far as we can tell he seemed to like it, but it's difficult to gauge. as long as there is bottle and things for him to try and eat, William pretty much likes anywhere, really. still, i was able to get one or two nice pics of him.

one or two pics is quite a good term to use for all the snaps, really - with us there for only four or so hours, we didn't have time to take many pictures and do absolutely everything that James wanted to do, so we ended up with him playing games and eating ice cream rather than worrying about pictures.

i did manage to sneak one or two of him in the pool with Colin & Angela, though!

our visit to Sun City for the day had clearly taken the maintenance team by surprise, as the pool they normally close down whenever we are there was thankfully open as you can see!

James loved going around the pool with Colin & Angela, and i think Colin managed to succeed where most of us have not thus far in showing James the basics of swimming. nice one!!

well, i doubt we will do a rushed, crammed one day visit to the place again in the near future! we might if they fixed up the roads and put some lights on them, but that's unlikely! never mind, i am sure we will be up there for a week or so in the not too distant future!

in the mean time, dear readers, i give you a last pic of William from his grand day out!

hope your weekend was as fun, if not as full of driving, as ours was!!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, April 09, 2010

today i am reminded of a small Mexican Chihuahua.......

dear me, is it really 20 years ago that the mundane world of television was graced with the presence of what on the greatest shows ever, Twin Peaks? apparently yes!

the show remains as good today as it was then in my mind, really. not much has come along to captivate audiences the way this has.

i fondly remember the fact that, by about episode 3, me and my mate Woodsie would sit down on a Tuesday night to watch this, armed with a Dale Cooper diet of a jam doughnut (jelly, for you Americans) and a cup of coffee!

apparently Kyle Maclachlan has been suggesting he's keen for a return trip to the world of Twin Peaks - let's hope Mr Lynch feels the same way!

the owls are not what they seem.................

Thursday, April 08, 2010

praise be to KFC

if we are honest about it, The Colonel of KFC was generous in gracing us with the greatest food in the history of all foods, namely the bucket of his fine fried chicken. it is the food of choice of The King, Elvis Presley, thus it should be the choice of everyone. There was no need for The Colonel to ever do anything ever again after the invention of the bucket, for this in itself was an accomplishment that few others have ever got anywhere near. genius, however, will not and cannot be restrained, and thus The Colonel through KFC has delivered unto us a masterpiece.

fellow mere mortals, join me and behold the majesty that is the Double Down burger.

yep, you are looking at that right. it is a burger made from fine fried chicken pieces instead of a mere bread roll! what genius!

it looks like a masterpiece, featuring as it does a whole stack of bacon, cheese and mayo in between two of the finest fried pieces of chicken you are ever likely to be lucky enough to get your hands on.

if the triumph of last year was the introduction of the KFC breakfast - and there can be no if about it - then this innovation is surely the one that sees all other lesser food producers fall by the wayside as KFC dominates in a way predicted that one brand would in the visionary film Demolition Man.

there is, alas, one down side to this new and exciting meal. due to KFC branches around the world following a halaal approach to their menu one can only purchase the Double Down in the USA. i suspect that China might have no interest in all things halaal so The King, Elvis Presley will probably get his hands on one sooner rather than later. as for the rest of us, well, i guess it's all the motivation one needs to visit America.

flying to America will mean some 18 - 24 hours without paying homage to Marlboro, but the pricing of the Double Down Meal certainly seems to be sending me a subliminal sign...

at the current exchange rate, this would then cost me R42. that's right, 42. and all you Douglas Adams fanatics will know what that means.......

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! American readers, please have a Double Down for me!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

when online advertising goes wrong....

hey everyone

well, we have all seen those "smart ads" on the interwebnet thingie. you know, those ads that pop up which have text or products related to what you are searching for or are currently viewing on what i am led to believe is called a "web page".

well, here's a real gem from the NME site. the story is about Bob Dylan being refused entry to China, but have a look at the link underneath the headline!

yep, you can buy tickets to a concert that is not going to happen!!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, April 05, 2010

Shutter Island

oh dear!!!!!

this review contains **** BIG, SHINING, GLARING SPOILERS ****, so you are advised not to read this if you haven't seen the film Shutter Island and intend to. everything below the poster is unwise to read if you insist on seeing this film.

there's always reason to be suspicious when a film has a "postponed" release date. why? because when the film is unveiled on the new date, it tends to be a load of rubbish. fears are that Wall Street 2 must be a right mess if it's been pulled from Cannes in May for a release in September after the studio saw it. surely a Scorsese film, of all films, couldn't be all that bad? oh yes, it can, sadly. pulled from an Oscar friendly October to be released in a quiet, attention grabbing February always looked suspicious.

where to start? well, with the trailer for it. you've seen the trailer, yeah? and when you saw the trailer you thought "no, the plot twist can't be as obvious as......", didn't you? sadly, the whole plot and twist really, really is as obvious as the trailer hints at, or rather blatantly suggests.

now, you could argue that it's a good film made into a bad experience by a poorly thought out and designed promotion campaign. sadly, no, this isn't the case. any suspicion you may have about the "great twist" is laid bare in the first five minutes in one particular scene, illustrated below.

much like that other "great mystery" film, The Sixth Sense, if you pay attention for the first ten or fifteen minutes then you get given the whole film. whereas The Sixth Sense was slightly entertaining in getting to the conclusion you know, Shutter Island is distinctly pedestrian and tiresome it has to be said. just in case you weren't paying attention right from the start, the first hour of the film bombards you with scene after scene telling you that yes, the plot twist is really that straightforward.

Martin Scorsese touching on the horror-thriller genre for the first time since Cape Fear should have been an exciting, thrilling work of cinema. instead it's a dull, poorly paced challenge of endurance for the audience.

i can only imagine that the rave reviews the film is getting are based on, oddly, the best performance to date in the career of Leonardo Di Caprio. he is Scorsese's current favourite actor, and after ruining Gangs Of New York and making The Aviator more or less unwatchable, he improves on the decent performance in The Departed to at last show Scorsese fanatics why he keeps getting parts in his films. what a pity he gives his best performance in what will go down, when the excitement fades, as one of Scorsese's all time worst films.

the less said about the remainder of the cast, however, the better. Mark Ruffalo as Di Caprio's "partner" is amateur dramatics at its most average, whereas "Sir" Ben Kingsley and Max Von Sydow apparently felt an urge to have a Scorsese film on their biography page and didn't particularly care about much else.

there was just so much scope for this to be brilliant it really is tragic to see the drivel turned out. off the top of my head, and i remind you of **** SPOILERS **** before you read on, they could have done something as innovative and interesting as have an actual escaped prisoner, or my hope for having it as the inmates had taken over and the real staff were locked up in the mysterious "C Block" to which no one could go. but no, instead we get a plain, simple obvious twist that all and sundry could see upfront.

what should have been the first great film of 2010 could well turn out, 8 months from now, to be the biggest disappointment of the year. instead of something in the league of The Usual Suspects or The Prestige Scorsese has churned out a predictable, by the numbers and dull film that probably wouldn't have gone a cinema release had anyone else directed it.

incredibly poor form from arguably the greatest living director at the moment, i really hope the next effort is better.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!