Tuesday, November 25, 2003

The First Pint after Work on a Friday


JAMES says:

Oh, I’ve been looking forward to this for some time, so cold, so chilled. It slips down nicely. I tell you, it’s almost worth going to work for this. Mmmm… Oh, it’s gone. Better get another.


The Eighth Pint after Work on a Friday



What? Hmm… No, she shouldn’t have said that. Are they talking about me? Hang on, my phones going… No, no love, no I’m still in the pub, no you’d better just eat alone, no I know what I said but I’ve just got a round in so I can’t leave now. Aw, Guns’n’Roses, I love this song. Ohhhh, Sweet Child of Myyyynnnee.. Who’s for shooters next?


Xander off Buffy

(Fictional Character)

NEILL says:

"The aim of art", said Camus, "the aim of a life can only be to increase the sum of freedom and responsibility to be found in every man and in the world. It cannot, under any circumstances, be to reduce or suppress that freedom, even temporarily. No great work has ever been based on hatred and contempt. On the contrary, there is not a single true work of art that has not in the end added to the inner freedom of each person who has known and loved it." Albert Camus died in 1960, so it seems contingently unlikely that he was familiar with popular US TV import 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer', which any way you look at it is a tremendous shame. Buffy, taken as a work, espouses an ethic of personal responsibility, moral freedom and fraternal loyalty that is thoroughly commendable and not a million miles away from the ideas which drive Camus' own The Plague. What's more, there are kung-fu vampires. At the heart of Buffy (the show) is the character of Xander Harris. In a chaotic sea of supernatural evil, demonic warfare and lesbian empowerment, he is a point of viewer identification par excellence; the everyman's everyman. We laugh as he makes obscure Jimmy Olsen jokes. We sympathise as he gets beaten up by every monster-of-the-week for seven straight years. And, most importantly, we cheer as he notches up intimate relations with (to name but a few, to date) Alyson Hannigan, Emma Caulfield and Eliza Dukshu; this is a show that understands audience wish-fulfilment alarmingly well.

Surrounded by his more colourful and dramatically interesting castmates, the hapless, geeky Xander rarely gets a chance to truly shine. He hangs out with witches, warriors and werewolves, yet his own powers stretch only so far as the well-timed sarcastic quip (to wit: "mix in a little rectal surgery and its my best day ever", "just because you're better than us doesn`t mean you can be all superior", and the classic "I laugh in the face of danger, then I hide till it goes away"). However, when get he does get a show to himself, it's a goody and then some. The one time Buffy has run with a wholly and unreservedly Xander-centric episode, Season 3's formally experimental zombiefest 'The Zeppo', is renowned amongst true connoisseurs of the arts the world over as, well, pretty much the Best Thing Ever. Seriously - it's a total cultural barometer. Try applying this simple rule yourself, on meeting a new person: do they dig 'The Zeppo'? If yes: this is a person it is worth getting to know better. If not... well, I leave it to your own judgement, but I'd imagine a lot would depend on breasts.

The downside to viewer identification this strong is that it cuts both ways, and later seasons of Buffy became increasingly uncomfortable to watch due to Nicholas Brendon's ever-puffier jowels and intangible but accumulating air of 'angry bitter failure'. One has to feel some slight concern for the actor's future, as well - once upon a time he was a fresh-faced young man with a nice line in teen-Chandler-Bing schtick, and was even hotly tipped for the role of Peter Parker in the then-proposed cinematic version of Spider-Man. That was a long time ago. But, hey, screw it. I wish him nothing but the best. Xander, we salute you. Through you we have had seven years of absorbing good-hearted escapist entertainment, which I dare say has probably added something to the inner freedom of at least some of those who have known and loved it.



I dig 'the Zeppo'! Although I always identified more strongly with Buffy.


Finance Leases

(Fiscal arrangement)

JAMES says:

A finance lease is a form of raising capital for an expensive asset. Rather than paying rent to simply use the asset (an operating lease), the company takes on the risks, such as maintenance, and rewards of the item, and the payments made are treated as the servicing of finance. This can often be cheaper than using a bank loan or other type of finance to buy the equipment, though the company cannot then raise further finance using the asset as collateral. Finance leases obviously aren’t appropriate in all circumstances, but if the asset is needed in the long-term they are certainly worth keeping in mind.


Wednesday, November 12, 2003


(Heroic Autobot)

JAMES says:

If the Fonz was a transformer he’s be Sideswipe. He was a bit of a rebel (his motto is ‘I don’t break rules but I bend them a lot), though his rash actions sometimes led to injuries to himself, his headstrong recklessness acted as a useful balance to Optimus Prime’s overly-thought out tactics. Though his firepower rating was only 3, he still had a courage level of 10. He was so much less annoying than his brother Sunstreaker and best of all he turned into a red sports car. Though it was never shown in the cartoon, Sideswipe undoubtedly scored with all the transformer babes (e.g. Arcee). Either that or he was just a bit sad and going through a mid-life crisis. Like all the cool transformers Sidesipe got killed/injured fairly early on in the game to make way for stories about pretendercons and headmasters, but if there was any justice he would’ve got his own spin off series. Where he moves to San Francisco and has comedy adventures with his gay neighbour (played by Kevin ‘Hercules’ Sorbo).


Humble Boy

By Charlotte Jones, Dir: John Caird
Royal National Theatre production – Oxford Playhouse, 29 October

Guest Reviewer of the Week SHEILA CAMERON says:

An ‘award winning play’, - the Daily Telegraph ’cannot recommend this lovely play too highly’. Reviews in the Guardian, Times and Sunday Times produced similarly fulsome word-bites. Even the Financial Times said you should ‘not miss this’.

If ever there was proof that you should not believe the press, this week in Oxford was it. Everyone I spoke to considered leaving at the interval and felt at the end that they took the wrong decision. (I didn’t get to talk to those who actually left.) OK, there were highlights. The set was ‘sumptuously designed’ (Guardian) – a riot of waist high grass dotted with roses. And the ‘Boy’s’ trousers were a joy to behold. Tight on waist and thigh, crotch almost to the knees, and over-long in leg. Overall effect of elephant in cricket whites was classic. But you can only appreciate fat boy in the long grass for so long, and appreciation is shortened if the cast are haranguing each other in voices painfully loud for the size of theatre in pursuit of a plot that totally escaped me. Yes there were jokes, but they were tied on as loosely as the gratuitous soliloquies on superstring theory. Example: Mrs Humble (Hayley Mills, looking younger than her supposed son) is engaged to Mr Pie. (Gerrit? In case not, it was firmly pointed out that they would become the Humble Pies….) And more of this ilk. Not, in my view ‘funny, very, very, funny’ (Sunday Times). Guess their critic likes banana skins too. Overall a night in with a good book would have been preferable. And even in hardback, probably cheaper.


Tuesday, November 11, 2003

The Matrix Revolutions

Dir: Andy & Larry Wachowski

NEILL says:

Because I'm having something of a zen day, and so as not to reveal any explicit plot spoilers for my hapless co-reviewer, who has failed to see it yet, I'd like to review this film in the form of a haiku:

Superman Kung Fu,
Think that's air you're not breathing?
Our Lord, Thou Art Ted.


Kid Koala

Live in Borders, Magdalen St, Nov 11th
(Like, happening, cat)

NEILL says:

Kid Koala is a phenomenally talented Canadian scratch DJ who, amongst many other notable achievements, has supplied a couple of the finest moments on one of the finest albums ever recorded (Nathaniel Merriweather Presents... Lovage: Music To Make Love To Your Old Lady By, in case you're interested), and has also written and illustrated a highly successful graphic novel (Nufonia Must Fall, in case you're interested). Clearly, this guy is just taking the piss. I am starting to suspect his very existence a complicated scheme to piss me off and make me jealous, engineered by my nefarious all-powerful nemesis (Dermot Hill, in case you're interested).

Anyway, the boy Koala done well at his very entertaining if regrettably brief in-store personal appearance come DJ set come slideshow come bingo game, in the coffee shop in Borders this Tuesday. He made us laugh, he dazzled us with a virtuoso scratch-heavy reworking of a Louis Armstrong instrumental, he made 'Moon River' sound like it's never sounded before, and he confused all hell out of the old ladies who were trying to have a quiet chat over a latte. Over far too soon, but still worth skiving night-school for.


Wednesday, November 05, 2003


by Various, ed: Jason Cobley
(UK indy comcs anthology)

Celebrity Guest Reviewer JOSHUA JACKSON Says:

I haven’t really been into comics since when I used to read the comic book adaptation of The Mighty Ducks, so it was a pleasant surprise when my good friend James gave me a copy of the latest issue of BAM. This comic features something that is missing from most comics not about young ice hockey teams, a sense of fun. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and being a small press comic you can see the love that goes into its production. While not as polished and glossy as some main-stream comics, it’s a bumper pack of stories with great variety, and at only £2 it represents value for money that even a millionaire superstar like me can appreciate. It’s also perfect for busy guys who spend too much time grooming their facial hair to read proper books. And when they make the movie version, if there’s a part going for a wise-cracking, slightly smug best friend, give me a call. Work’s kind of dried up since the Creek finished.


Jamie's Other Kitchen


Review Requested by Laura the Dance School Sandwich Girl

JAMES says:

There’s recently been a second series of Jamie’s Kitchen following wideboy mockney naked chef Jamie Oliver as he sets up a restaurant and fills it with people hired to make himself look intelligent. Well, Jamie had another kitchen. This one doesn’t get its own TV series, isn’t staffed by YTS gimps, and isn’t in London’s fashionable West End. Though Jamie has long since deserted it, I’m still proud to call this my kitchen. James’s Kitchen, if you will.

Yes, it’s true, I live in Jamie Oliver’s old flat. From when he was on a pittance for chopping onions and this was all he could afford. Though he has long since gone, his presence still lingers; Here, in the shelves he put up, there in the prank phone calls asking for pizza. And in the kitchen that he left when he got a whiff of the big time. It’s not the biggest kitchen in the world, being about as wide as a roast chicken, but it makes up for it in length. This can be quite irritating as the microwave is at one end and the oven at the other. If using both this can involve several mad dashes from one end to the other before something explodes, narrowly avoiding the wok that sticks out very inconveniently. If there are two people using the kitchen at the same time then they had best be very intimate, but seeing as it could only possibly be me and my girlfriend this isn’t really a problem.

I think the kitchen has shaped Naked’s distinctive cooking style. Forced to work in such enclosed spaces resulted in his maverick quick-fire method. And you might notice that his recipes never call for the use of both a grill and an oven at the same time, being used to having a combined oven/grill which made such notions impossible.

Even though Jamie dumped the kitchen as he thought it might embarrass him in front of his new media friends, I still respect it. It has seen some fine culinary efforts by both me and Deborah, and apart from the pre-mentioned oven/grill restriction, and a slightly leaky pipe under the sink, it meets all other requirements you could possibly want from a kitchen. Alternatively the people who had the flat before us might’ve been bullshitting and Jamie Oliver might never have lived there. That would make me sleep a lot safer at night.


Rules of Attraction

Dir: Roger Avary

JAMES says:

If you haven’t already seen this film, you’ve probably seen reviews for it. In the Guide, in Empire, even from dear old Steve Preistly. You’ve probably already decided if it’s a film you quite want to see or don’t, so what’s the point of this review? I’ll tell you; Dawson’s big sweaty forehead. No other review I saw warned you that this film contains gratuitous Dawson sweaty forehead shots. Thus I came to this film completely oblivious to its horrific contents. I even, in my naivety, decided to eat my dinner while I watched it. Even the shot of someone throwing up on someone else’s back during sex within the first few minutes couldn’t prepare me for what was to come. And, sure enough, there it was. A POV shot from the perspective of some unfortunate wench being done by James Van Der ‘Dawson’ Beek. It fair near put me off my curry, I can tell you. And it doesn’t only happen once, but a number of times.

So, thanks to this superb review you know not to watch this film. Unless you’re curious to know what it must feel like to have Dawson make sweet love to you. Without these offending scenes, it’s a fair old nothing movie. Sometimes trying to be a bit visually innovative, with a bit of nudity, and a big ol’ scoop of youthful nihilism. Basically this film will take a couple of hours of your life without giving anything in return, other than showing you what various teen movie bit-parters are up to these days