Monday, June 18, 2012


Ages since I felt the urge to do a cartoon. Been too busy sinking my creative brain juices into writing short stories with varying amounts of success. 'Success' here being defined as me:
  • a. finishing the story and 
  • b. not rereading it two days after I do and deleting it because 'it's crap'. (There's been a lot of that.) 

Holly lays claim to have come up with this joke; she may well be right.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

My attempts to avoid the Olympics got off to a flying start on Saturday when the Coca-Cola © Olympic Coca-Cola © Torch Coca-Cola © Product of Hope was paraded past Glencoe.

While it was in Glencoe - which is dangerously near my house, I was half way across the country buying the usual boxes of tatty old  paperbacks and dubious Italian Eurosleeze DVDs from second-hand shops.  My day off.  So successful was my day off being that in the afternoon I ventured as far as the Big City.  Inverness! (pop. 58,963 - round here that's like Metropolis, Gotham City, and Greater LA combined.)  More tatty old  paperbacks!  More DVDs!  (I had a sandwich too!)  Eventually I got fed up with the mad giddy whirl of city life and headed for home. I decided to go by the shortest route.  A route which, if I had had the forethought to think about it for a few seconds, I would have eschewed it for a longer one*.  For on the way south, at Drumnadrochit to be precise (pop. 813 - told you), I encountered the the Official Coca-Cola © Olympic Coca-Cola © Torch Coca-Cola © Product of Hope Round Britain-athon coming the other way.  Buses, vans, thudding twat music shouted over by some halfwit local radio wannabee holding his microphone too close to his platitude dribbling gob (so all you heard was this shouty unintelligible babble) surrounded by the entire Northern Constabulary.  I have never seen so many policemen in one place.  I didn't know we had so many police vehicles in the Highlands.  It was incredible.  The first load I encountered were on motorbikes.  There was a whole display-team'sworth of the buggers, all flashing blue lights with their riders wildly gesticulating for oncoming vehicles like me to pull over and let the circus behind them get past.

Luckily I was right next to the bus stop.  (Or it might have been the other bus stop, I mean Drum' is a pretty big place. 813 people, wow!)  Anyway I pulled over, switched off the engine, and waited.  Got fed up with waiting, pulled out one of the staggering amount of tatty old paperbacks in the car and read for a bit till it was time to go.  I missed the Olympics by that much.  I was ordered to avoid it by a policeman.  That's my excuse.

Driving south I really felt sorry for the people trapped in the three mile tailback this farce was causing and got fed up with being amazed at the number of police vehicles parked in lay-bys. There were dozens of them.  Why?  What was going to happen?  This is the Highlands of Scotland.  Nothing ever happens here.  Even when something does happen nobody notices! How much is this police overtime costing?  Who is paying for all this?  Bet you it's not fucking Coca-Cola ©.

* I love the word 'eschewed',  it's almost as good as 'erstwhile'.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

May's Movie Milestones
  1. Dans Paris (2006) - "Luminous, enlightening and often hilarious..." says the Time Out quote on the front of the case. I have long avoided buying books with the word 'hilarious' anywhere on the cover, because they never are; they are mildly amusing at best, downright baffling, miserablist shite at worst. I now think I am going to have to do the same for films. I'm sure Dans Paris' 89 minutes (was that all??) must have been stuffed full of knowing-critic, Nouvelle Vague homaging yockfest moments but to us mere mortals it looked like the same old French cinéaste tripe-twaddle warmed over. The only real thought I had during the whole show was: why are French film-makers obsessed with small breasts? Two actresses get their kits off during the show and, sad, middle-aged bloke that I am, I have larger boobs than the both of them put together! I think there's some sort of secret annual prize at the Cannes Festival for the smallest breasts in a French film. 'Le nipple d'or'. (Any films with Charlotte Gainsbourg in them are, obviously, not allowed to compete.) Googleing the exact phrase "French actresses with large breasts" gets zero results. (Apart from, now, this one.) In the interests of fairness I should point out there is an equal quantity of male nudity too.

  2. Snow White (2001) - TV movie version with Miranda Richardson having fun as the evil Queen. Not good but but not terrible. The kids liked it. Though the presence of tarmacked roads and raccoons in Generic Euro Fairytale land was a bit odd.

  3. La guerra dei robot (1978 ) - I can't help wonder how or why the translators called one of the characters 'General Gonad' but I'm sure they had their reasons.

    I can recommend La guerra dei robot for many many reasons: the delirious script, "It's crazy! A harvest of human flesh!" the music, which is dead pure early experimental synthcrap; the 'climactic' space battle, which is one of the dullest and most repetitive pieces of film making ever committed to screen - and I do include some of Andy Warhol's early efforts here - but mostly I recommend it because its got Yanti Somer wearing skin tight wet-look leather. And that can't be bad.

  4. Maverick (1994) - Enjoyable nonsense.

  5. Danger: Diabolik (1968 ) - A Trash Masterpiece. One of the best scores Morricone wrote. And the sexy as hell Marisa Mell never looked better. Love it.

  6. Stranger than Fiction (2006) - In which Will Ferrel finds an odd enough script that allows him to go for a career-switch 'serious' role without pissing off his comedy fans (like Jim Carey did with the Truman Show)I was thoroughly enjoying it till it fell to bits and copped out in the last couple of minutes. God damn the Hollywood upbeat fucking 'can't kill the hero' endings. That was the whole point of the film! He had to die!.

  7. Inferno (1980) - Dario Argento's semi-sequel to his Susperia. I've never seen Susperia. I think I may have to go look it out. Inferno wasn't a good film by any means - basically the same old same old Italian horror shtick with endless corridor wandering characters fumbling their way to gruesome deaths - this time accompanied by a thundering bonkers OTT score by a third of thundering bonkers OTT prog-rockers Emerson, Lake and Palmer (the Emerson third). Parts of it were so odd that I just have to see the original.Inferno is another of the, now released uncut, 'Video Nasties' of the 1980s.

  8. The Brain That Wouldn't Die (1962) - a rewatch of a particularly wonderful bad film with some great great lines. I particularly liked our mad doctor's speech to his assistant when we first see the (accidentally) severed head of his fiancée being kept alive by three test tubes, a bubbling beaker of Ingredient X, and a couple of G cramps.  It's delivered with a sincere passion too.  The Mad Scientist's Prayer :
    "What you see is real. What I've done, I've done, and what I've done is right - it is the work of science."

  9. Liar (1997) - interesting.

  10. The Lodger (2009) - the seventh or so screen version of Marie Belloc Lowndes' Jack the Ripper story. Pretty dull despite the ADHD camera work. No style left unturned - including a clumsy and pointless Hitchcock homage far too early in the show to make any sense. Second film in a row with the central American part played by an British actor - the part was central, the character wasn't someone from Belize or Honduras - Tim Roth in Liar and Alfred Molina in this.

  11. Django (1966) Over-long (at 90 minutes it dragged) plotless, rambling Spaghetti Western which only exists to make Sergio Leone's films look like staggering works of genius. (Which in some ways they are.)

  12. The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulhu (2009) - short, very cheap, occasionally vaguely funny, comedy based on the works of H P Lovecraft (and there's a idea you don't see every day).

  13. The Army of the Dead (2008 ) - incredibly tedious, lost in the desert, re-awakening an ancient curse, horror shot on digital (the second unit stuff looks like it was done with a camcorder, as if they had decided to do some found footage but forgot when it came to the edit.)
    After watching it about hour (or rather staring at the screen waiting for something to happen) I flipped up the DVD player's On Screen Display to discover that only about 30 minutes had passed. After that the most fun I had with this was spotting all the usual zero budget, zero wit fuckups; those moments where you saw the tyre tracks of vehicles from the rehearsal or first take in virgin desert - often in fairly tight shots, moments where 30 seconds with a brush would have eliminated them The moments where you see shadows of crew members when there shouldn't be anyone else around; and the really lovely moment where our hero and heroine, holed up in the middle of the night in 'an abandoned radio station' try to ignore the daylight coming through the holes in the blinds because no one had bothered to drape a piece of blackout material the other side of the window (or the other side of the blind for that matter. It's not as if anyone had to leave the room to do this.). Badly written, ploddingly directed and most of the 'actors' involved would have trouble holding down a day job as a walk on part in a daytime soaps. Crap, but, worse than that, boring crap.

  14. Mystery Men (1999) - Umpteenth watching.

  15. Split Second (1992) - Another Rutger Hauer SF movie that I'd never heard of until I found it in a charity shop. Just how many straight to obscurity SF films did this bloke make? This one is set in the not too distant future of four years ago ( 2008 ) and is the usual mismatched buddy cops chasing serial killer crap set in a London ankle deep in water, overrun with rats, and populated by people like Michael J Pollard, Kim Cattrall, and Pete Postlethwaite. Once the film has laboriously set up the usual mismatched buddy cops chasing serial killer crap set in a London ankle deep in water stuff - it then lurches about, crashing helplessly from one undercooked cliché to another and getting progressively more desperate and crapper as it does so - till some sort of critical mass of stupidities is reached, and then someone (probably the cast) suddenly decided they were making a comedy and for the last third it turns into quite a weirdly, OTT, stupidly funny film - till the crappy rubber monster turns up in the last couple of minutes. Then it falls flat on its arse again.

  16. Barbarella ( 1968 ) - again. I like Barberella.

  17. Alien Cargo ( 1999 ) - A made for TV movie that looks like it's going to be yet another deep space OMIGOD! THERE'S SOMETHING ELSE ON-BOARD EATING PEOPLE! piece of SF wallpaper but turns out (after a clunky opening act) to be a not bad piece of 'hard SF' with no huge plasma guns, no self-destruct buttons, no men in rubber suits or any of the other usual Sci-Fi channelly crap. An amazingly unusual downbeat ending too. Not that the ending is amazing but the fact that it is downbeat at all is remarkable - our likeable hero and heroine don't make it. They're not dead at the end of the film but they are well and truly fucked and resigned to their fate, and have just said goodbye to their only hope of rescue. It's a good inevitable ending. I have watched far too many films where some amazingly out of nowhere, pulled out of the scriptwriter's arse, twist ending saves everyone in the last minutes of the film. Sometimes when a film has engaged me, and even when I like the characters in deadly peril, I sometimes just sit there willing the film to end badly. Sometimes I want the film-makers to have the courage to let the story run where it has to and not manufacture a happy ending just to keep the card-filling preview audiences from having to actually think. Five stars to these guys for doing that.

    EDIT: Thinking about it, the ending totally saves this film. Even though I called it a 'not bad piece of 'hard SF'' it still had more than its fair share of "erm, I'm not sure that's right", and "Ooh, isn't that handy for our heroes," moments. Most of them forgiven, in hindsight, because of the ending.

    (No stars to me for splitting that infinitive.).

  18. Encounters in the Deep (1979) - There are some films which are just bafflingly hypnotic in their dullness. Encounters in the Deep is an Italian Spanish co-production set in the Bermuda Triangle in which nothing happens, then it happens again, and then again and then, in case you missed it the first couple of times, the whole cast diligently do nothing again - again, sometimes underwater, and then it just stops, after an extremely boring sequence of nothing happening which may (or may not) be the climax of the film.

  19. Centurion (2010) - Deliverance with Romans.

  20. My Darling Clementine (1946) - Great film. (apart from that producer added shitty studio insert shot right at the end).

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

RIP VHS (again)

The VHS tape is really dead this time.  I had already written its obituary back in 2005 when the local branch of Blockbuster stopped stocking them in their second-hand bins.

Despite my reading the rites the tape clung on though, appearing in vast quantities in charity shops.  Occasionally, beneath the tottering piles and boxes and boxes of series of Friends and Star Trek: Voyager,  I would find a gem; a never before heard of, never to be seen on DVD, piece of low-class dross with chrome effect lettering on the cover.  I found some terrifically dreadful films like that.  Slowly over the years the tapes came down in price.  Eventually they became so cheap that not buying them would have been rude.  Ten tapes for £1 was the cheapest I paid, though there was one shop I knew of which gave the things away in the end.  They had a big box of tapes from which you could just help yourself - if you could find anything worth watching - which I rarely did.

But, slowly though, shop by shop, over the last couple of years, the hand written...

 We No Longer Accept Donations of Video's 

 ...notices would inevitably appear on the shops' doors.  (Complete with misplaced apostrophe.)

Last week the last bastion, the last redoubt, of VHS in Lochaber fell. The final misspelled notice went up on the door of the Disability Action shop in Caol.  There are no longer any charity shops in this area that sell VHSs.  

So, unless a miracle happens, the last Rutger Hauer SF film I have never heard of that I will buy on VHS is Split Second (1992),  a particularly dreadful piece of cinematic poo which I will now be forced to treasure for all the wrong reasons.

---------------- .o0o. --------------- 

The kids got their school reports today:
'Holly reads with great expression and has a good understanding of what she is reading.  She needs to learn to read a bit slower when reading out allowed.'
There really is no point is there?

I missed the Jubilee!  Hurrah! Hurray!  In fact I only found out when it was actually happening - as opposed to vaguely knowing that it was sometime this year - after it was nearly over. Three days of supercilious toadying missed by accident, only one avoided on purpose.  

This bodes well. 

I've been treating missing the whole, four day, Royal Arse-lickathon as a warm up event for the really big piece of avoiding I am going to be doing later in the year. 

The Coca-cola © Olympics.

Last time I managed to miss the whole thing apart from a few radio interviews with gasping Lycra-clad members of  'Team GB' who had managed to crawl to seventh place in some twenty five second event which had taken them four years to prepare for and the BBC two hours to cover.

I used to listen to the radio a lot back then.  I don't now.  I stopped listening to it a couple of years ago in preparation.

There is a potential fly in the offing though*  in that one of the Coca-cola © Official Olympic Torches is being jogged down a local road for a few minutes before being shoved in the back of the Coca-cola © Official Olympic minibus and driven to the next Coca-cola © Official Olympic Torch Jogging Photo Opportunity.  See History in the Making!  'Man Carries Cigarette Lighter Down Street - A Nation Rejoices'! 

I'm going to bed for a couple of weeks with a pile of books about THAT big.  Wake me up when it's over.

*This week's FREE mixed metaphor.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012


I hate Google.  I mean it's really really really useful tool, and I use it all the time - and not just to check my spelling, but sometimes it can be a disheartening and sobering tool.

Today ferinstance I had the blinding and overwhelmingly gigglesome thought that Harper Lee's second book had she ever written one should have been called 'To Mock a Killing Bird'.

Only to find 45 seconds later that the phrase, even when wrapped in quotes, returns 14,700 hits. 

Ah well.   It was funny while it lasted.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Let's Not Talk About That

Rubbish weekend.  Nothing to write about that is of any concern to anyone but those involved - cue movie quote:
"I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world."


Today, going for a walk with the kids - See! I do do Real Dad stuff sometimes.  Nature walks! "Look kids, a tree!"

Walking along the beach we pick up litter - we take a carrier bag specially, (I do very middle-class Real Dad stuff:  "Look kids, a beer can!")

We find this:

Miracle Mil
 - Bargain Bumper Size  
 2/11  2/8

I haven't seen a washing up liquid bottle like this for years, and the pre-decimal price ('2/8' = 'two shillings and eightpence') means that this particular bit of beach rubbish is at least 40 years old.   

Aren't you glad I shared? 

I'm off to throw it in the bin now from whence it will ultimately go into a landfill site and, in some dim and distant future, confuse archaeologists by being an anachronism in an otherwise uninteresting bed of early 21st century garbage.

My gift to the future.

Missing CD? Contact vendor

Free CD
Please take care
in removing from cover.

Copyright (c) 2004-2007 by me, Liam Baldwin. That's real copyright, not any 'creative commons' internet hippy type thing.

(this copyright notice stolen from

eXTReMe Tracker