Monday, February 23, 2004

Comparitive Review: AIM vs AIM

(Evil Organisation)

NEILL says:

AIM (Advanced Idea Mechanics) is a subversive scientific think-tank founded in secret during WWII by the demented Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker to develop cutting-edge technology and weaponry for his terrorist organisation HYDRA. In the years since its inception, A.I.M. has been at the forefront of scientific development, introducing the world to countless inventions that are now commonplace; inventions such as:

  • the Super-Adaptoid, an android capable of duplicating the form and superhuman powers of another being,

  • the Cosmic Cube, an unimaginably powerful object capable of restructuring reality,

...and of course, who could forget:
  • MODOK (Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing), an artificially mutated human being with an enormous head and a stunted body who possesses superhuman intelligence and various psionic abilities.

Despite these impressive achievements, several questions hang over the organisational efficiency and long-term 'product roadmap' that governs A.I.M. For instance, many observers ask why, if these guys can invent laser beams and flying cars and MODOKs, why on Earth don't they patent some of this shit and make with the fat cash, instead of sitting around in their crappy secret lair underneath the Hudson River or wherever waiting until Nick Fury or Captain America turn up to kick their sorry asses. One also has to question the sanity of a Human Resources policy based on the principle of making their top scientific brains run around with guns like some kind of freaky yellow gay stormtroopers. Staff turnover is presumably pretty high due to the twin dangers of employees either being smashed by the Hulk or simply deciding they'd be better off relocating to a lower-risk, better-benefit-plan evil organisation. Like Microsoft! A Ha ha ha! No? Sigh...

In the final analysis, A.I.M. stand as a decidedly second-rate evil organisation; they lack the edgy glamour of a C.O.B.R.A or the sheer glorious acronymical excess of a S.P.E.C.T.R.E. Furthermore, their efforts in the field of downtempo instrumental Hip-hop are decidedly negligible.


(Recording Artist)

NEILL says:

AIM, known to his parents as Andy Turner (or 'Andy', we may suppose) has produced two classic studio albums to date; Cold Water Music and Hinterland, and is probably the single finest Hip-hop producer ever to come out of Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. His music is part of the great British tradition of downtempo instrumental Hip-hop, standing in a direct line with such artists as The Herbaliser and Rae & Christian, but his work shows a vision and a potential that could conceivably yet carry him far beyond such comparisons and into a whole other weight class. Whilst complex and utterly cool, many of his tunes carry an honest emotional charge rare in this kind of electronic music; from the joyful exuberance of the Souls of Mischief collaboration No Restriction to the sleepy melancholy optimism of A Twilight Zone. His collaborations with vocalist Kate Rogers are particularly effective; Sail (on Cold Water Music) being simply one of the more beautiful things you're likely to hear in a good year.

For all that, though, it must be said: he has never invented a Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing (or 'MODOK'), and indeed it seems unlikely that he ever will.


Ginger Beer


JAMES says:

I can honestly say without exaggeration or hyperbole that if it wasn’t for Ginger Beer I would be dead now. Well, maybe a little exaggeration and if I’m pressed an almost embarrassing amount of hyperbole. But, anyway, Ginger Beer has been the sole shining ray of light through many of my darkest hangover moments. When I have to drag my sorry ass to work after too too few hours of sleep, it’s Ginger Beer that gives me the energy and vigour to face up to the many embarrassments of the night before. It’s sort of like the drink Jeeves always prepares for Bertie Wooster after a night on the sauce, only you can get it in newsagents.

As well as its excellent curative powers, it’s also the finest of the soft drinks (or fizzy juice as my brother insists on calling them). Together with a Mars Bar and the Guardian it makes the perfect Saturday morning, and is an ideal accompaniment to a days concerted sofa lying-upon. It’s not as sickly sweet as Coke yet has more flavour than Sprite. If I’m pressed I prefer the Cornish flavours of Idris, but I will quite happily go for the Jamacian Hot. Even Supermarket own brands can sustain me through some painful revision. Hail to thee o Ginger Beer.


Overhearing people have private telephone arguments with their partners at work

(Unsettling phenomena of office life)

NEILL says:

There are many shitty things about working in an office, from well-known classics such as 'Having to spend every day wearing a fucking suit doing work you have no vested personal or creative interest in, surrounded by people you would never freely choose to associate with because they're boring and irritating and probably smell', to more alternative numbers such as 'Feeling oddly self-conscious if not actually guilty every time you have to walk across the office to go to the toilet'. A less recognised but equally shitty thing is 'Overhearing people have private telephone arguments with their partners at work'. There's something incredibly unsettling about sitting there listening to someone you work with hissing bitterly down the phone to their Husband / Girlfriend / Lesbian Life-Partner about whose turn it is to cook dinner, or who failed to get the forms in to the estate agent in time, or whatever exactly it is that married people seem to spend so much of their lives being bitter and angry about. It is the incongruity that is jarring; people who may be the most unfailingly professional and imperturbably faux-affable beings on the planet apparently think nothing of laying bare their true natures to anyone within listening distance when they're making a personal call. The results range from hilarious to genuinely terrifying. I think what I find so uncomfortable about the phenomena is that is a window into the infinite tiny banalities, spites and hurts that make up people's real lives. Now, if there's one thing I can't abide, it's windows into the infinite tiny banalities, spites and hurts that make up people's real lives. That kind of thing just burns my nads. Why the hell do you think I stopped watching Eastenders?

Keep it down, people.


Monday, February 16, 2004

Death By Daiquiri

(Murder Mystery Party)

JAMES says:

I wasn’t a murder mystery virgin before ‘Death by Daiquiri’ on Saturday, but neither was I a seasoned pro. The only time I had done such a thing before was a very lame effort. There were too many people so we had to double up characters, my friend and I were both the murderer and were too drunk to hide it, and some guy fell down the stairs and had to go to hospital so most people lost interest in the solution. This was an entirely different affair. Debbie being Debbie a lot of effort was put into costume and setting. It was set on a ship so we had little hand made port holes, which are still up, and being the captain I had a hat, parrot and telescope. And it really did make the difference. I was slightly worried that people might not be prepared to spend a whole evening in character, but it was surprisingly easy. The food was good, the wine flowed freely and I got to be a captain.Not just a captain, THE captain!

The only problem was with the game itself, which was sparse to say the least. It began with a tape which lasted less than a minute, then as captain (The captain!) I had to read a piece out setting the scene, then everyone introduced themselves, and the questioning began. But, no one actually knew anything that everyone else didn’t, so there was no guile, and you were as likely as not to say something that would be flatly contradicted by the next piece of evidence. And the solution was just plain rubbish, made absolutely no sense, and was a let down for all involved. So the evening was a success despite of not because of the package itself.

My esteemed co-reviewer might disagree however, as he was lumbered with being the comic relief whereas I was the captain. THE captain! A word of warning, though, my friends. Once you’ve spent an evening as a captain, it’s hard to go back. Hey, ho, a Sailor’s life for me then I suppose.


NEILL says:

Charming company, excellent food, fine wine, laughter... on the other hand, it involved me dressed up like a twat, which is an instant -5 at least.


Frosted Lucky Charms

(Breakfast Cereal)

JAMES says:

They’re magically delicious. Or at least they were ‘til evil evil Nestle took them away from us. I don’t blame them, though, I blame you all. You had cereal perfection, and you didn’t appreciate it. You’re not good enough for this world.


The Theory of Everything

(Scientific Television Programme)

JAMES says:

I like to think of myself as a man with quite a broad base of knowledge, but before watching this program I didn’t know really much at all about string theory. And now I do, a bit. So, job done. It was actually a very well put together program, despite being annoyingly American. It made things clear though it did rely very heavily on visual analogies to make things clear. It ended up being very flashy, which is quite an achievement seeing as how neither sub-atomic forces nor physicists are the most visually exciting things in the world. But, it didn’t go too quickly and you really did start to understand stuff. However, the offshoot of this understanding is now I have a whole new heap of things to be paranoid and afraid of. For instance, the entire universe might instantaneously cease to exist due to membranes bumping into each other. And how did the first scientists know when firing atoms at each other at high speeds that they weren’t going to explode the Earth? These scientists, crazy guys. Anyway, after sitting through all of this and feeling quite pleased with myself for understanding it, they then turn around and tell you that it’s all unproven and could turn out to be completely wrong. Couldn’t have just told you this at the start, I ask you. Also, there was a distinct lack of giving things a mark out of 10, which I know I appreciate.


Monday, February 09, 2004

Trying to ignore the presence of Unified Review Theory Website whilst at work

(Displacement activity)

Guest Reviewer DEBBIE says:

Have you any idea how difficult this is? Once again, I have a stack of work to do, a stack of reports that I unforgivably demanded someone gave me so I could process them as a matter of urgency and almost immediately after I had taken those reports with that efficient smile that only a really responsible Office Manager can muster, I could feel your website beckoning.

"Come to know you want know you haven't visited me for a know that this precise moment in time is more appropriate than tomorrow's lunch break or a period when you aren't so busy..come on, they might have had time to review that superb Murder Mystery party you threw
last weekend.."

"So what if people need these reports" thought I, "James and Neill's website it much more important. One little peek would be alright, wouldn't it?"

To be honest I was only there for 10 minutes but that was enough. It is now twenty to five and the chances of me doing any more work have now been ruined. I used to be such a disciplined young lady - a thoroughly reliable worker. Now your evil, seductive website has turned me into a URT-junkie.
What are you going to do about this, James and Neill?

Well, I'll tell you what I am going to do; there are only 50 minutes left of my working day, no point in starting anything new, I'm going to write another review.

Bad, bad all bad.



by The Roots

NEILL says:

I tried writing a proper music journo-style introduction to The Roots for those unfamiliar with their ouevre, but I had to erase it as... well, frankly I was boring myself. Screw it! Phrenology is an incredible album; experimental, energetic, ambitious and quite un-fucking-conscionably cool. Everyone should own Phrenology. I mean, Jesus, the hidden tracks alone are better than the stuff most people put out as singles. It opens with the almost unlistenably harsh, abrasive and repetitive Rock You, and closes with a ten-minute long piece of abstract poetry from the point of a scary old tramp ranting about crack addiction and the Devil. (Uh, I think) Sandwiched between these are several examples of the very finest music you are ever going to hear. 'The Seed (2.0)' blends rap with rock, not in a Played Out Fred Durst Shiteating Embarrassment kind of way but in a manner that makes you want to run out into the street and hump the nearest police car out of sheer unbearable joie de vivre. And then there is the simply indescribable 'Thought@Work'. It opens with a break as old as hip-hop itself, and then... Christ, how to explain it? When I first heard this track, I remember thinking, as it opened: "...this better be going somewhere." And then, it did. And I remember thinking:


"...that is ILL."

I used the word 'ill'. Only in my own head, but nonetheless. I think that says it all.


Monday, February 02, 2004



From Guest Reviewers Two Squawking Giggling Girls that I was stuck on the Tube to Brixton with when it stopped for about half an hour for no reason

Squawking Girl One Says:

He’s Lush, he’s definitely the lushest boy in school! 7/10

Squawking Girl Two Says:

Nah, he’s odd looking. His ears make him look odd. 1/10

Being Stuck on the Tube to Brixton for half an hour while two squawking giggling girls give every single boy in their school a mark out of ten then giggle even more loudly

The Horror


Open Your Eyes

Dir: Alejandro AmenĂ¡bar, 1997

NEILL says:

AmenĂ¡bar's 1997 thriller is an interesting thing. It won critical plaudits, international success and a big-budget Hollywood remake for pulling off what seems to me the rather sneaky trick of being a derivative third-rate sci-fi flick that doesn't actually mention the fact that it's a sci-fi flick until you're halfway through the third act. By which point you've already seen Penelope Cruz's breasts and are understandably powerless to change the channel. Now I ask you, is that fair? There you are, innocently watching what seems to be a run-of-the-mill European arthouse film dealing with themes of identity, memory and sexual obsession, when seventy-five minutes in and it suddenly becomes apparent that no, in fact you're watching fucking 'Total Recall'. I don't know about you, but I call that a bit mean. It's a very disconcerting thing for the audience. I mean, imagine you're watching 'Iris', and in the final ten minutes it's suddenly revealed out of nowhere that Judi Dench is in fact an evil android from the future, programmed with false memories and sent back in time on a mission to kill the young Kate Winslet before she can write 'The Waves'. Ask yourself: would that have made 'Iris' a better film? Well, yeah, of course it would. That was a bad example. In fact, the addition of some killer androids is the only thing I can think of that would make 'Iris' even halfway watchable. Fucking piece of shit that it was. Still, you take my point.

Actually, I quite liked 'Open your eyes'. Just felt like a bit of a rant.


Star Magazine


JAMES says:

Abysmal Sub-Hello magazine. Someone left a copy lying around the office, and I was bored enough to read it. I was sickened, sickened! Articles telling you were Kat from Eastenders does her shopping and lives. Photos in which celebrities look less attractive than they usually do. Is Becks losing his hair? And the Icing on the turd, a questionnaire called ‘They’re Just Like You or Me’ in which Johnny Vegas shows that he’s just like you and me. What do these people want? Apart from to stalk Kat from Eastenders obviously. Either you think these people are modern day Olympians and must be told how to worship them, or you regard them as a blight on humanity and you can laugh at their misfortune. You can’t have it both ways. It’s natural to admire someone who does something well, even if it is just looking pretty on TV, but do you really need to know if they’ve had a Brazilian? (Tamzin Oithwaite apparently hasn’t) Here’s an idea, instead of spending all your time wondering about Christina Aguilera’s raunchy new outfit, why don’t you take an interest in friends, family, co-workers? See if there’s any way you could aid them in their lives? They may not be as interesting, but at least it’s actual human contact. Plus, whereas you might only see a celebrity every few months, you see these people everyday! You could make your own magazine about them, filled with where they’ve been spotted and how they really are just like you and me! Best not ask about the Brazilian thing though. Not yet anyway.