The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Archive for June, 2009

The Pain Never Ends…

Posted by BigWords on June 30, 2009

It continues and continues and continues… I am, of course, talking about the endless stream of sub-par, quasi-retarded ‘reality’ television shows. The worst offender is, by a large margin, Big Brother, whose selection policy for contestants seems to be asking them a handful of rather simple questions:

  1. Do you know your own name?
  2. Can you tie your own shoelaces?
  3. Are you insane?

If they answer ‘yes’ to all three questions they get in. Lord Reith must be doing pirouettes in his fucking grave.

I don’t blame Channel 4. Not in the slightest. I blame the people who keep watching the show, hoping to catch the three minutes of actual entertainment broadcast in any 24 hour period, who gossip about the mundanities of the talentless, underachieving morons who parade their inadequacies to the nation in a series of humiliating and demeaning ‘challenges’. If there was a God, then the house would burn to the ground with all the contestants still inside.

Why do I care?
Well, apart from the fact that these kinds of shows are taking valuable television air-time away from shows which have writers, whose production needs actors, and whose shelf-life is a little longer than a bottle of milk, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with reality television. If the UK can’t create some new series, which have intricately crafted plots, subtle acting and intelligent messages, then the reputation for class and elegance (which we have been fooling the world with) is gonna be screwed.

There’s a thin line between populist broadcasting and whoring, and Channel 4 is pulling up her fishnets and scribbling “£20” on the side of her white stillettos.

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Busy, Busy, Busy

Posted by BigWords on June 29, 2009

There’s Not Enough Time In The Day

Last night (and into the not-so-small hours of the morning) was a battle of wills between myself and the beautiful designs of HTML. I’m a big fan of computer languages as art-form, despite having seen the travesties imposed on simple code by folks who would rather be playing in the murky depths of obscure and complicated math. HTML can be manipulated and twisted to allow for all sorts of formatting options, but it gets to be a bit much when I have been staring at a notepad document filled with it for any number of hours.
…And I’m still not done yet. There are fun blogs I have visited, though not bookmarked. I’ll get around to the ones I have overlooked soon enough.

There have been a lot of new additions to the ‘to do’ list in the last week, and (with the lack of sleep ‘n’ all) I have added more jobs. I need something to do, or else I’ll end up chain-smoking, drinking endless cups of coffee and bemoaning the lack of take-away service at 5am. One of my bright ideas was a blog dedicated to book reviews. It’s been set up, ready to go, but there aren’t any actual reviews on it yet. I’ll post one up on Wednesday or Thursday, after I manage to deal with more pressing matters.

Ah, the other projects… Yeah, they seem to be multiplying.

Tomorrow evening is already set aside for the construction of a base on which to situate the largest shed I have ever laid eyes on. It is massive, and will comfortably hold the excess books, computer games and comics once it is insulated properly. When the shed is filled, which will probably take some time, I’ll gain back two rooms which have been used primarily for storage.

A complete list of my collection, for insurance purposes, has been an on-and-off-again job which desperately need doing. It’s #2 on the list.
The notes I’ve already taken for reference has thrown up some surprising items. I’m was working through boxes of European comics, and came across  Greek (I think) editions of Lucky Luke, French reprints of Marvel Comics material and other weirdness. The Italian reprint of Secret Agent X-9 (in hardback format) and a Disney annual (which translates some duck stories to Italian) I vaguely remember purchasing, but I have no idea where all the others came from.

There are also the external hard drives which I have been meaning to tidy up. Files are kept all over the place, and having all of the material relating to connected subjects stored together makes sense. I’m guessing that the job will take a few weeks, though with new ideas popping up every so often – sometimes just as I have exited the word processing suite – I’m holding off from immediately jumping in to this.

Lack Of Sleep x Things To Do = Time Distortion

What seemed like a few days ago to everyone else, Friday to be exact, is more like a week for me. I figured this out about an hour ago, when the compulsion to call a friend up hit me. He said that he was going to buy a new car (Friday, to be exact, not a month ago, just on Friday), and I was about to call to see if he ever managed to get around to buying one. It’s a shock to realize that it wasn’t a long-gone conversation, and I’m beginning to think that I need to keep better notes on any interactions I have – just so I don’t bring up anything which is still in the process of being handled.

It feels like a couple of days since I added anything to the blog, if that makes any sense.

The Milk Doesn’t Go In The Cupboard

Maybe the sleep-deprivation is having more of an effect than I would normally admit. I was making coffee earlier, and I discovered I had put the jar in the fridge and the carton of milk in the cupboard. It wouldn’t be the first time my brain has completely left my body while doing automated actions, and I know that I’ve left the oven on for too long as well. My grasp on the minor activities is one reason why the aforementioned insurance policy has to have accurate information.

Be thankful I don’t have a driving license.

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Don’t Fuck With Trekkies

Posted by BigWords on June 28, 2009

The bile and hatred for blockbusters didn’t lay into Star Trek as heavily as I might have done. The idiotic pieces of rubber stapled to actors forheads, the annoying technobabble and the fat captain may be enough to draw my attention, but I really don’t care enough to expend energy on ignoring it. There are other problems with poking trekkies with sharp sticks… Mainly the fact that folks who are willing to change their apartments to look like the interior of a spaceship aren’t the most stable of individuals in the first place. I would hesitate to insult them much further than that, because they might set their phasers to “drone endlessly about Kirk”.

What drives seemingly ordinary people to try and emulate a shaky SF / fantasy series made fifty years ago? It isn’t exactly Shakespeare, and even if it was the best written television series (which it wasn’t) I still don’t understand the obsession. Maybe the hardcore fans have tainted the well for normal folks who like the show, but the smell of “geek” hangs around the franchise like a week-old halibut hidden behind a radiator.

In a pathetic attempt to ease the backlash which I fully expect to receive, I’ll point you in the direction of a few Trekkish places:

A Star Trek history site. Lots of informative fun to be had there.

There are short stories here, here and here, all free to read…

For those of you who like Star Trek art, you might want to pay this site a visit.

See… I can do nice things for Trekkies as well as insult them

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I Hate Everything

Posted by BigWords on June 28, 2009

Apparently…
Having managed to piss off a fair proportion of folks with a sledgehammer approach to critical analysis of the Blockbuster film experience, I figured I would expand on what constitutes a shit film. In the process I will serve up some sacred cows as juicy steaks, so be warned that there will be a fair amount of pain and anguish. Just because you might think something is out of bounds doesn’t mean I’m gonna play nice. My slice ‘n’ dice of the first decade of  the “Blockbuster” (as summer ‘event’ films seem to be regarded) follows thus:

1977

Star Wars has a shitty script. Yeah, the first film. Sure, I’m talking about the one which inspired a religion. Yes, I know it is a cultural milestone. Doesn’t change the fact that there are plot holes so large that I could fly the Millennium Falcon through them. Blindfolded. With one hand tied behind my back. It doesn’t mean the film itself is worthless – it is brilliant in several regards, foremost of which is the appropriation of Lensman’s light-based weaponry. George Lucas ain’t no writer, as he has proven with the 1990s trilogy. It was also the 1990s films which showed up the fact that he ain’t much of a director either, but that is neither here nor there.

1978

Superman. Do you need me to explain why a musical interlude in the middle of a superhero film is a bad idea? The rest of the film is fine, but Margot Kidder singing? I would rather listen to Danny Boyle explain (for the millionth time) how Slumdog Millionaire is meant to be a ‘feelgood’ film.

Jaws 2. Two words: shit floats.

1979

The year that gave us Monty Python’s Life Of Brian and Alien also puked up Star Trek: The Motion Picture, in which nothing much happened. The film is so slow that I felt my fingernails grow as I was watching. I wouldn’t have minded so much, but the hideous costumes, abysmal acting (“The Shat” really earned his nickname with this film) and pornographic indulgence of the special effects were too much to bear.

1980

If anyone has the balls to defend Xanadu I’ll be amazed. Popeye was a mistake writ large, while The Empire Strikes Back didn’t so much end, as abruptly stop with the main characters looking out of a window. I thought there would have been a final scene filmed for Empire, but nobody else seems to notice the lack of emotional closure for the characters. Too busy imagining what a better director would have done with the material maybe…

1981

Superman II introduces arbritary powers for the main villains, ups the comedy and lowers the tone of the franchise – sowing the seeds for Quest For Peace, while The Cannonball Run manages to squander the talents of a host of brilliant actors.

1982

Rocky III signals the beginning of loud, obnoxious films which have no significant point to them, other than giving the viewer a headache and nausia. Star Trek II continues to plunder the Star Trek corpse, as Poltergeist shows that horror films don’t need to be scary… Wait. Uh… Yeah, that’s the whole point of horror movies. Add Poltergeist to the shit list as well.

1983

Not exactly a stellar year for good movies – Blue Thunder, Psycho 2, Superman III and Trading Places… The third Star Wars film seemed to be a good bet for entertaining space opera, but the best Return Of The Jedi could muster were fucking annoying Ewoks running around a jungle, Princess Leia reduced to a sexualised stereotypical damsel in distress (after a stronger presence in the second film) and poor comedy moments. It would have been better ending the franchise after the Holiday Specials. At the least, it would have been more merciful.

1984

Star Trek III. Proving that even overweight men get to captain starships isn’t adding realism to SF. Seriously. Fat Kirk? Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom manages to waste time on a romantic subplot which feels tacked-on, because – obviously – Harrison Ford doesn’t need questions raised about Indy’s friendship with a little boy. 1984 also gave us the wonder that is Police Academy, the longest running comedy movie series in which you will find no comedic elements whatsoever. The gags which did work (and were honestly funny) were better when they were filmed years earlier – in films which earned the label ‘comedy’.

1985

The producers of Rambo: First Blood Part II probably thought they were going to get some brains with their brawn, but Stallone (and the funniest accent since Kenneth Williams) is as monotone as he has ever played a character. The Rocky saga reached it’s fourth entry (incredibly, it was worse than Rambo), and had little in the way of deep insight. Raging Bull (released five years earlier) played on the same tropes as Rocky, yet managed to provide the audience with a complex main character rather than a cartoon figure masquerading as a human being. 1985 was also the year in which Cocoon served up stereotypes and character traits instead of real characters.

1986

Just a list: Top Gun, Crocodile Dundee, Raw Deal, The Delta Force, Highlander, Howard The Duck, Maximum Overdrive, Three Amigos… If you can still savour films after sitting through that lot, then you have a better constitution than I. “Wait,” you cry, “What is Highlander doing on the list?” Apart from the accents, the needless pyrotechnics, the cheesy lines, the jarring tonal shifts, the clumsy plot, the poor FX and the historical innacuracies, it is actually quite a good film.

1987

The Untouchables rewrites history, badly, and gives special appearances by the camera operators in-frame… Spaceballs. I don’t need to qualify that with any explanation. Even the Nightmare On Elm Street series had given up anything remotely resembling plot, character or setting in order to make the villain (a fucking child molestor!) into a comedy routine. If Lethal Weapon can be considered a film, then it also goes on the list, but I prefer to think of it as cruel and unusual punishment. Show that shit at Gitmo, and every motherfucker in the joint will be claiming they are Osama bin Laden, just to end the pain…

There you have it. Ten years of film distilled in one easy blog. If I can bear the memories of another ten years of awful films I may continue…

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You Don’t Have To Be Miserable, But It Helps

Posted by BigWords on June 27, 2009

There’s a thread running through the media at the moment which goes some way to explaining the way in which deeply flawed human beings can produce great works of art. I’ve read all this before, and so (I’m sure) has everyone else. The basic theory runs thus: Happy, contented folks are most likely to do diddly-squat in the realms of greatness, while others – who are addicted to drugs, have long and painful illnesses, have no luck at relationships and are quite horribly fucked up – go on to soar in their chosen field.

Riiiiiighhhhht. So that’s why I’ve not written the Greatest Novel Ever Written, I’m too happy.

I hate the premise of the cod-psychology being trotted around at the moment for a few reasons. I would hate to think that Roy Orbison could only have recorded songs of such power and intensity because of his personal life. The opposite (that those songs were recorded despite his circumstances) is much more appealing, and gives a glimpse into the man’s willpower and intelligence. I’m not using Michael Jackson as an example, because every other outlet of opinion, information and hackery is beating the subject to death, so I’m sticking with past examples. If you’re missing you’re daily fix of salacious gossip, feel free to pretend we’re talking about MJ.

Some examples of crazy+ miserable = genius are so abstract in their implementation that it becomes painful to read the words. One particular subject for this brand of historical pop-shrinkage is Vincent Van Gogh, whose paintings “are obviously the work of a genius” and who was “miserable”. Okay, I’m willing to play this game… Explain how the two are connected? C’mon…

It’s all bullshit. The press needs to feed people a line, and the public are dumb enough to take the bait. If the corrolation between misery and genius was to be proven, then the poor saps who are routinely trotted out on stage in reality television would be producing novels, albums, television series and paintings whose sublime beauty and overwhelming strength would carry the ability to drive people to tears. They aren’t doing this, of course – they are too busy bitching about the trailer park they live in, or complaining that their twelve year old daughter is pregnant (again), or wondering how to open a carton of milk without pouring the contents down their front…

Am I being too harsh?

No. People, on the whole, are dumb.

You know genius when you see it. Certain folks are destined for greatness due to their inherent abilities, and nothing life throws at them will stop them. If Roy Orbison had a happy and contented life, he wouldn’t have been a lounge singer – he would still have been a great recording artist. Don’t pay any attention to the newspapers or television reports in the next couple of days, because the crap will be flying thick and fast as people try to get their two cents on the air. Wait a while, then go back to the albums and books which are considered the work of greatness.

I’m now ignoring CNN’s blathering completely. Ditto to the BBC (the Bullshit Broadcasting Corporation) and Sky. I don’t need the headache which accompanies their “news”, and I’ll just get irritated if I try to untangle their mangling of the English language…

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Everybody’s Dead

Posted by BigWords on June 26, 2009

“Yes, it’s breaking news… All life, everywhere, is now dead. There isn’t anything or anyone left… We’re just waiting on confirmation from CNN.”

If you’re reading that wondering what the fuck I’m talking about, then you really haven’t been paying much attention. In the wake of Farrah Fawcett’s untimely death, then Michael Jackson passing on, it seems that the internet has developed a taste for the macabre and salacious gossip of other celebrities dying. There are rumours spreading of the deaths of multiple celebrities in disease-related deaths, accidents, murders and other unconfirmed means. It doesn’t matter if they are dead or not – gossip-mongering fuckwits are rubbing their hands at the thought of breaking the “news”.

So you might be wondering who these internet ghouls are targeting, right? Pretty much every Hollywood star is fair game. “Haven’t seen his face around town in the last twenty minutes… Yeah, he must be dead.” The list of ‘alleged’ deaths is running so high that (if the perfect storm of bullshit were to be believed) the chiefs of the big production companies must be hitting the coke and vikes pretty hard right about now. C’mon, how would you feel if every single actor on the planet died in the space of twenty-four hours?

It’s a bunch of spotty, overweight shits, sitting at their computers and making up ever more elaborate and perverted means for their heroes to meet their maker…

“Hey, did you hear about Jeff Goldblum? He fell on the set of his new film and died…”

“That’s nothing. Richard Gere’s corpse was found naked in a hotel room, and there were hamsters running all around the body.”

“I heard that Colin Farrell died in a plane crash. There were loads of nuns and sick children aboard it. It exploded in mid-air…”

“So-fucking-what… Elvis came back from the dead, did a concert in Memphis, then blew his brains out with a shotgun.”

How much longer will we have to wait before the elaborate game of one-upmanship culminates in rumours of the entire cosmos disappearing into a black hole, with every single life form in the universe being made extinct at the same time? It isn’t exactly rocket science, and all a person needs to do to work out if the chit chat is based in fact, or if it is a croc of shit, is to ask the person who is alleged to have died if they are feeling all right. Dammit, if the assholes who are obfuscating matters spent one tenth of the time thinking on important matters, rather than their games of dead celebs, we might have a cure for cancer by the end of the year.

If you’re gonna make shit up, you might as well think big.

Who wants to hear about Australia being obliterated by a massive meteor? I just heard the news from a friend…

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R.I.P. Farrah Fawcett

Posted by BigWords on June 25, 2009

2 / 2 / 1947 – 25 / 6 / 2009

fawcettForever Hot

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Platform X

Posted by BigWords on June 25, 2009

When the concept of a single console to replace the multitude of competing platforms was first brought up, many years ago, I mocked. The idea was so utterly ludicrous that it could never work in practice. Now… Maybe now I’m ready to give it a bit of serious thought. The reason for my turnabout in thinking is due to a Mission: Impossible prop thinking it is a console – the old X-Box made a soft pop, fizzed for a moment, then released a single wisp of white smoke into the air.

Which means I really should get a new one. It isn’t like I don’t have enough consoles, but I have a soft spot for the black brick – it doesn’t sound like a Chinook taking off, it doesn’t scratch discs and it is relatively ergonomic. Do I really need another console? I can play most of the original games on the 360, and the space could be better used. I’m coming around to the idea of a ‘master’ console, but I would have to set some ground rules for anyone thinking of creating one-

  1. Make it future-proof for at least three years. I’m not going to buy a “slightly different but essentially the same” console in twelve months time. I don’t care if the new one has a few gigabytes more memory, plays Chopin on start-up and can recite the Iliad; the minor alterations which come along can be ignored.
  2. No larger than an average console. I’ve seen the home-made attempts at integrating 3 or 4 consoles into a single case, and they always end up being massive, ugly and totally impractical. If anyone can come up with a play-all system that isn’t the size of a small car I would buy it immediately.
  3. I’m not spending more than £450 on it. I’ve already spent more money than I care to think about on games (and this is not counting the PC software I buy / upgrade in an endless attempt to stay ahead of the game), so a reasonable budget is to be expected.
  4. As few essential add-on’s as possible. I bought the HD player for the 360 and used it twice, which makes it one of the most expensive items I have in relation to the enjoyment I have taken from a purchase. The Guitar Hero pack was used non-stop for nearly two months. Value for money means making add-on’s that I’ll actually use.
  5. No easily-breakable components. The PS2 controllers have very short lives in my house, so I’m not going to settle for second best from a next-next-gen console.

Sure, I’d splash out on one if the ability to play Wii, PS3 and 360 releases was incorporated. There was a plan in motion a couple of years ago to utilize a Linux-based OS for a multi-format games console, and I’ve never heard anything more about it. One of these days it’ll pop up again as The Saviour Of Gaming, I’m sure, but until then I’m stuck with the collection of boxes under my television. And on the floor. And in their boxes, piled atop one another…

Life was easier when the choice was Amstrad or Commodore.

Sure, I’d splash out on one if the ability to play Wii, PS3 and 360 releases was incorporated. Now, who wants to get to work on the software?

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Transformers – Perversions In Disguise

Posted by BigWords on June 23, 2009

Hasbro’s metal mickey-takers are in cinemas now, and they appear to be doing well. Considering the origins of the toy line and original cartoon, the film can be looked upon as a really expensive advert for cash-in sorry, life-enhancing collectibles… Gee, y’think anyone is gonna let me write a Transformers story after this?

All of the robot jocks who appear in the cartoons, films, comics ad infinitum are based off a bunch of unrelated Japanese toy lines. They were only assimilated into a single unified universe after they got to US shores and repackaged under the supervision of Hasbro.

Which is where the problems I have with the names start…

  • Bluestreak – Yeah, ’cause that’s a whole lot better than Porno Prime.
  • Drag Strip – He’s a trans-something alright. And a Decepticon.
  • Hot Spot – Isn’t that a slang phrase for… No. Never mind.
  • Ironhide – Excuse me for asking, but why does his butt have to be so tough? I mean… What the hell is he stuffing up there?
  • Hardhead – Sure, there’s absolutely no sexual connotation here whatsoever.
  • Huffer – Because even junkie robots deserve an appearance in a cartoon.
  • Jazz – A euphamism for a certain type of magazine, coveted by schoolboys across the world. Perfect name for the heroic second-in-command.
  • Misfire – He gets excited really easily… apparently.
  • Mudflap – Along with his brother Skids, and not forgetting Tracks, the scat-lovin’ sub-section of the Transformers fanbase is conveniently covered. Don’t ask in what they are covered though.
  • Old Snake – The Cobra Commander (GI Joe) made an appearance in the animated series, and his name is the only one on the list which doesn’t have a hidden meaning. Oh, wait…
  • Outback – Because Brokeback would have been too obvious.
  • Ramhorn – I swear I’m not making these names up – he was in the animated movie.
  • Seaspray – A robot named after the splash of salty liquid. Don’t get any in your eye – it’ll sting.
  • Skids – see Mudflap.
  • Slag – The only robot in the series who comes from Essex.
  • Tailgate – If I need to explain the reason this name is wrong, then you’re reading the wrong blog.
  • Thrust – Aw hell, It’s getting to the point where I have nothing more disturbing to add than what is already there.
  • Tracks – see Mudflap.
  • Trailbreaker – I’m not going to dignify this one with any explanations. If I did, I would probably get lynched.
  • Wildrider – This one is another Decepticon, and his name is… disturbing. In any number of ways.
  • Windcharger – Again, this one I’m going to leave to your imagination.

They weren’t kidding when they said ‘more than meets the eye’.

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Putting Pen To Paper

Posted by BigWords on June 23, 2009

Writing, and by writing I mean actually writing, is a dying art. Typing words onto a computer is one thing, but sitting down with a pen and paper seems to be an anachronism in the modern world. But why? It was how I wrote mostly everything up until a few years ago (and I scratched out a massive novel on paper), so I’m slightly disturbed to find that so many writers have ditched the tactile sensation of laying down the words by hand.

I like the smell of ink, and the weight of the finished manuscript in my hands, but… Here’s where I go all practical minded and decide to raise the tone of this blog a little – the time and expense of continually refreshing the stock of pens is a bitch. I go through the average pen in a week, sometimes sooner if it is a cheap pen. Typewriters (remember those?) were soon my big obsession, and I thumped away on the keys into the small hours of the night – not entirely to the pleasure of my neighbours. It was a step towards noise pollution fun, but had little else to recommend it.

A person could go insane with the clickety-clackity reverberating through the house at 3am.

Computers, on the other hand, have none of the drawbacks. I don’t have to crank the pages through manually, change the ribbon, go over the sentence I mangled with white-out or any of the hundred other minor inconveniences… But I miss pen and paper. The lure of the handwritten word calls to me like a siren on the rocks, tempting me with the promise of a finer understanding of my ideas. It doesn’t work like that, naturally, though there is something essentially writerly about actually writing.

Today was a revelation of sorts, as I managed to turn a fairly mundane sentence into a paragraph of weirdness through a half hour of rewriting, all on paper. I haven’t written longhand in a fairly long time, and it is surprising how hard it is to take pen in hand again when the computer is so easily in reach.

Must resist… Must resist… Must resist…

Damn. It’s too handy. The laptop is such a beautifully contrived convenience, so simple to cart around and open when needed. The addiction to electronic media is one that I wholly own up to, possessing (as I do ) too many consoles by far, a clutch of televisions and a growing family of cassettes, floppies, cartridges, CDs and DVDs… The space is at a premium these days and I often find myself being the cause of a landslide of items, scattering media across the floor like a stumbling giant in a world of Lilliputians.

I’m too clumsy by half to rely on equipment powered by electricity, and too lazy to do things by hand. I’ll wait on the tech to catch up with me – someone is bound to come up with a brain leech sooner or later.

You know what those mad scientists are like…

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