Tuesday, June 05, 2012

2012 - 37

The Inanity Continues...

You'd think I'd have something better to do, wouldn't you? After yesterday's offering, you'd think I'd care more about quality than quantity. I have to do something and if it means filling up pages of blog entries with pointless drivel, then all you have to do is go somewhere else!

There's going to be a lot of repetition; like for instance, me whinging about my cold. To all the people who believe in God, let me just say that if there was such a thing (and there invariably isn't) then he fucking hates me. The worst thing about this repeating virus - which if anything is incentive to get a new job that is - is when you feel shit, you feel shit; when it stops making you feel shit, it leaves a legacy that makes you feel shit in different ways. My top lip is as sore as a whore's wares on a busy day - it's from constantly blowing my nose. My chest is sore because it's laden with unspeakable gunk, which is reluctant to move, regardless of how much I cough and said coughing has given me a headache; and subsequently I've put my back out because of all the coughing (although to be fair, I've had twinges of sciatica for the last week, so it might just be a coincidence) and the thing that ironically makes it much worse is that I don't actually feel bad. If it wasn't for the phlegm, I'd actually be feeling pretty good...

Chest Bursting

Okay, let's throw a Jones into the pigeons. I watched Aliens last night and a) can't believe how dated it looks and feels - even more so than Alien. b) there are at least four really bad plot holes.

For starters, quite simply, where did all the aliens come from? There were 158 colonists of which there was one survivor. That means a total of 157 aliens; there could not possibly be any more as there was nothing for them to gestate in.
Where did the queen come from?
Also, Ripley knew that the crashed spaceship had hundreds of those face-hugger eggs in it, so how come she ponders as to where all the eggs may have come from?
How come Michael Biehn's character knew Newt had the tracking device on that he made a big deal about giving to Ripley?
In Alien, the underlying thing about the monster was that it adapted and was clever; it knew the ship was going to self-destruct, so it sought refuge in the shuttle. At the colony, the entire base is going thermonuclear, yet the queen and all her aliens seem totally unaware that they're going to be blasted into oblivion.
The retro introduction of Ripley's daughter, makes zero sense to the first film and is a plot vehicle only to bring about the change from scared woman to superhero - it was far too heavy-handed. There's a truly awful line about promising to be home for her 11th birthday, yet considering how long astronauts spend in cryogenics, presumably she told her daughter this on said daughter's 5th birthday. Bad continuity.
The girl playing Newt can't act.
Bill Paxton has become really annoying.
John Reiser looked like he'd walked off the set of Mannequin.
In many ways it highlights the failings of both directors - Ridley Scott and James Cameron. Alien was Scott's 2nd film and it basically established him as an A list director. Aliens was Cameron's 4th film as director (the first two being B movie SF/horror, before Terminator, which made him an A list director) Scott made some passable movies after, but as one of my mates said, most were bogged down by his influence and demands. Cameron's oeuvre is in many ways more spectacular and yet most of his films, while technically brilliant, are massive piles of shit - Titanic, T2, Avatar, the Abysssssss.
I don't think Aliens is much above any of Cameron's subsequent stuff - it's all style and the substance has been tweaked to fit around what he wanted to do, rather than continue an already established story. He can be accused of doing exactly what Ridley Scott has been accused of.
Most of you fans probably feel Aliens is the best film of the four; I never did, but thought it a great addition, but it's been over a decade since I last watched it and now I have to re-evaluate my thoughts. Alien is still a much better film; it is a simple story, well told which resonates years later. Aliens will probably be best known for 'Game Over, Maaaan', dodgy perms and oblique vagina references - it's a good action adventure, but not a very good film!

Crunchy Gusset's Finale

I have to say that Game of Thrones is entertaining TV, even if at times I'm left wondering what the hell is going on. There are so many stories going on at the same time that you, as I've said countless times before, need a scorecard to keep up with it.

The season finale, which was rather eclipsed by the series penultimate episode, offered more strands than a frayed jumper and proved to be a great mix of expectation and anticlimax. The series seems to be turning into a mixture of West Wing, The Walking Dead and Merlin.

[Here be spoilers]
Daenarys' story in Qarth seemed to end rather quickly, almost brutally, after much build-up. It has been like they've only had the Targaryan in it because she's obviously going to play a huge part in the future; but all the preamble ended up being a squib of the damp kind.
The aftermath of the battle of King's Landing left a few unanswered questions (fortunately cleared up by the message boards); such as how come Stannis Barathian was back in his castle with the red witch, when he apparently was captured by Lannister guards at the end of episode 9. Plus, something that will explained in season 3 or maybe even 4, was how Winterfell was burned to the ground and all inhabitants killed, when Theon Greyjoy and his army of motley rebels had already departed to face the music from the king of the Iron Islands.
The acceptance of Jon Snow (now a rebel rather than a news reader) into the Northmen, seemed a little convenient; almost staged (which indeed it was, but not in a good way) and while Ned Stark's offspring are the leading characters in this series; it's only really the youngest daughter's adventures that hold any real interest for me (and I can't even remember her name - see, you need a scorecard!)
The cliffhanger ending was, like series 1, the first real glimpse of interesting special effects; I was amazed that episode 9 had so much action in it, considering that the previous 18 episodes seemed to sweep over the battles and action in favour of Shakespearean soliloquies and long arduous speeches; so the final scenes of the season 2 finale will do one of two things for the casual viewer - get them moderately excited or have them considering finding something else to occupy their time. Let's just say that Ice Zombies appear to be on the march (confusing me even more, because there hasn't been enough explanation of what goes on oop north beyond the wall, anyhow).

If I had one major criticism of the series it's just what I said in brackets - there isn't enough explanation as to who the characters are or what their motives are. It seemed for weeks that you were just being constantly introduced to new people, almost because it was easier to muddy the waters than make it clear for all to see. A minor criticism is that it is more like a 18 rated soap opera rather than a series of arced stories: two seasons in and there has been little resolved, apart from the dead characters.

A for is Effort?

I'm risking something here. I'm risking ruining a good relationship, but I feel it's a necessity...

Getting on for five years ago, the Squonk quiz team was left with trying to find a new pub quiz, when their regular fortnightly Sunday night test of knowledge was abandoned. We ventured to the White Elephant and found that quiz a bit populist and aimed at a generation much younger than ours. We won it a few times, but generally it felt like a stop gap (and the beer wasn't up to much either).

We heard that the Vic on Poole Street had a popular Tuesday night general knowledge quiz and a Wednesday night music quiz - fancying ourselves as musical masterminds, we went to the Wednesday night a few times, but would never ever win it because our knowledge of lyrics was as vague as our knowledge of quantum mechanics; so we opted to do the GN quiz instead and we have established ourselves as possibly the most consistent team at the pub.

Early doors at the Vic saw the place being run by a guy called Gary, who seemed as dodgy as fuck and appeared to run a fencing operation for local criminals rather than a community pub and in the last months of Gary's reign there was a shortage of essentials you would expect any pub to carry. It all came to a shuddering halt one Tuesday when the pub was closed and all seemed lost.

But the following week saw the arrival of a young ambitious man called Al. Suddenly the Vic was fully stocked; had as good a selection of beer as it had ever had and Al had thousands of bright ideas. These were a return to halcyon days for this little pub on the corner of a cul-de-sac; it was on a par with the legendary days when Brian Clarke ran it. For almost two years, the Vic established itself as a great real ale pub with lots of variety; even if you had to believe that Al never stuck with one theme for very long. The joke started that he'd try anything to make money. The success of the Vic led him to buy the tenancy of the Bantam Cock; a pub with a chequered past that hadn't been a popular pub since the 1970s. He bit off more than he could chew and the place was cold, bleak and unwelcoming and while he poured his energies into that the Vic started to suffer.

Over the next year, at least two barmaids attempted to drag the pub back up to its peak, yet were forever stymied by what some classed as Al's growing flakiness. Instead of giving these two barmaids carte blanche to do with the Vic as they saw fit; he pissed them off; didn't pay them; argued over hours and effort and eventually lost them and, hot on their heels, was the Bantam - not even a heroic failure. Efforts were concentrated back onto the Vic; Al probably thought he'd neglected the place, so changes were made; all of which, like earlier experiments, failed. About 18 months ago, cracks began to appear - almost literally. The pub that boasted 8 real ales, rarely had more than two on at any time. It ran out of essentials like gin, vodka and rum; or it ran out of mixers, cider and even ice. The female members of our team started to feel slightly uncomfortable about the general grubbiness of the place and going to the toilet was an adventure in unhygienic circumstances. Things stopped working; the TV no longer was used (rumours abounded that Al couldn't afford the licence fee), the fans stopped working; the place began to look like a storage cupboard for Al's other half-arsed ventures and they began to run out of drink much faster.

I heard it on good authority that the landlord blames the brewery for not supporting him; but that begs the question of whether or not he blames the brewery for not cleaning the pub or the toilets; or fixing the pumps - he now uses two beer pumps and one of them produces beer that is lifeless and he steadfastly refuses to sparkle it up. As a son of a former landlord and friends with a few good cellarmen, I can only presume that Al rarely cleans his pipes (although, looking at the amount of women he hangs onto, they're his only pipes that don't get cleaned) and both Roger and I have got dodgy hangovers from three pints, where we'd struggle for one from four pints at any of the pubs in the town that knows how to look after beer. Our regular quizmaster, himself a cellarman, is in a precarious situation. He's never said this, but I reckon he'd love to say something, but the pub pays him for two nights of entertainment a week and in this current austere world, he can't afford to be seen as a dissenting voice.

The pub isn't recovering. It seems that Al has sublet the accommodation and I wouldn't be surprised if he had lost a lot of interest in this project. There can be no other explanation as to why there is a piss poor selection of beers, wines and spirits; why the place looks like it could do with someone taking a can of Pledge to it and why he offers nothing but feeble excuses for the declining standards and makes no effort to improve them.

  • Today I have been listening to George Gershwin.
  • I cannot get over how chilly it is.
  • Read a very good article by George Monbiot in today's Guardian - just another example of how the aristocracy is becoming a major player in the country again thanks to Cameron and his posh twat friends.
  • I have been enjoying a lovely coconut cake cooked by my lovely wife. Not keen on her coffee and walnut cake though.
  • Will 50 gallons suffice, sir?

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