Monday, 22 June 2009

The Pizza Slice: Domino’s Pizza (various toppings).

Slightly impossible to objectively review this. Had spent roughly 8 hours (on and off) helping friends empty out their house. Boxes and furniture shuffled about in the most physical game of Tetris I’ve ever played. 3 or 4 van loads worth of stuff.

Pizza was bought as reward for the volunteering of puny muscles. Tasted like heaven. All in all, I don’t really mind Dominos to be honest. Base is doughy without being too bready, and there’s something pleasing in the unctuousness of the cheese and tomato – it never slips into the greasiness of a Pizza Hutt. Toppings wise, we had a variety – 2 with various meats and 2 with various veg. Generally I don’t like to overcrowd my pizzas, 3 or 4 toppings max (only 2 of which should be meat), but again, in context, it was perfect. And the little pots of sauce, perfect for dipping crusts into. Experimented with some Tobasco at one point as well. Fiery goodness.

Side note: We had some beers with it as well. Refreshing Corona. Hoppy SA Gold. And a new one on me was Tomos Watkins brewery’s Cwrw Braf (rough translation ‘Lovely Beer’). There was a fruity sweetness to it that reminded me of Christmas – particularly a box of Quality Streets. Nice, but not really a 'session ale'.

Score: context/10

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Stolen Blog Concept

I really like THIS feature that Pitchfork are doing at the moment. Basically picking what your favourite music was at 5 year intervals of your life. So I thought I’d nick it.

5 years old – honestly have no idea what I liked at this age. Probably the Postman Pat theme. I loved Postman Pat when I was little. I had matching curtains and duvet-covers. I apparently used to cry when an episode finished.

10 years old – I do remember hearing Nevermind being played in my brother’s room and thinking ‘this sounds amazing’ but what I really liked at this age was Meat Loaf. I think I enjoyed the theatrical over-the-top element. I got loads of his stuff on casette: Bat Out Of Hell, Bat Out Of Hell 2 – Back Into Hell, Hits Out Of Hell. All the Hell ones basically.

15 years old – Deftones! I saw Deftones on my 15th birthday when they were touring Around The Fur. I used to do a paper-round at this time and I’d listen to Around The Fur on my walkman a lot.

20 years old – ‘Funeral’ by Arcade Fire came out around this time I think. It was around this time that I was doing a lot of file-sharing and that so I was hearing lots of good new/old stuff for the first time. Funeral was my favourite. Can’t believe it’s been 5 years since Funeral came out!

25 years old – No Age pretty much summed up everything I wanted music to do last year.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Monday, 1 June 2009

At The Pictures: 2009 so far

June! 6 months into the year! Where did the time go? Here’s a list of every film I’ve seen at the pictures this year (that I can remember) in order of how good they were:

1. Anvil: The Story of Anvil
2. Let The Right One In
3. In The Loop
=. Frost/Nixon

5. The Wrestler
6. Slumdog Millionaire
7. Star Trek
8. Watchmen

9. Synecdoche, New York

Actually it’s only the top 4 that are in any definite order, the others are more general. I’ve not seen any film I didn’t enjoy on some level really, but I’m pretty selective about what I go and see.

I really can’t state how brilliant Anvil was. I went in expecting a slightly amusing small scale Spinal Tap, and the film did start a little like that to be fair, but then it turns into this amazing film about Kindness and Optimism and the Human Spirit and Not Letting Things Get You Down and other Important Things. It really was touching. Generally I tend to think of myself as a fan of fiction over non-fiction, but documentary films always have a much greater emotional impact on me.

Let The Right One In had me thinking about it for days after, couldn’t get it out of my head. I think bits of it were flawed (CGI cats), but I just loved the ambiguity of it. I’ve blogged about In The Loop already, but it is brilliantly funny. Frost/Nixon was just a really classy film. Great performances from everyone involved, helped along by a cracking script.

The Wrestler had great performances/direction and would make an excellent companion piece to Anvil if you were doing a festival or whatever. Slumdog was a vibrant slice of ‘neo-Dickensian fairytale’, and Star Trek was a nice little guilty-pleasure roller coaster of a film in a similar vein to what Iron Man was last year.

Watchmen wasn’t the mess that I’d feared it could be, but I think a better director (Paul Greengrass for instance, who was previously attached to the project) could have taken some of the themes and adapted it into something more interesting. I thought the film had put the original book up on this impossible pedestal and the director was so worried about offending the fans/creators that he just stuck as closely to the page as possible. This method was successful in some places (the Dr Manhattan flashbacks-on-Mars sequence was really good to see on film), but the original was essentially a comic about comics, and so this panel-by-panel adaptation just felt slightly pointless almost, and the directors visual styles ended up undoing some of the comic’s main points – the wire-work and slow-mo made them appear way too super-heroic. Again, Paul Greengrass’ more visceral style would have worked much better. On the plus side, the opening montage sequence was brilliantly realised, and the altered ending was in my opinion better than the book’s. In other words, the bits where the director didn’t slavishly stick to the book were the film’s biggest successes.

I still can’t decide what I really thought about Synecdoche, New York. ‘Frustrating’ I guess. Just a long round-about way of saying not much at all. Which is sort of the point of it. Not as good as Eternal Sunshine/Adaptation/Being John Malkovich basically.

And yes, that’s my ’09 in films so far. Can you tell that I’m bored at work? I didn’t mean to go on so much…

David Simon at the Hay Festival

Another trip up the A470 to Hay-on-Wye. Got stuck behind the obligatory caravan for a good ol’ while. Witnessed lots of people driving stupidly, overtaking on blind corners and the like. Nice one.

Anyway, the reason I was going to Hay this time was to see David Simon, best known as creator of The Wire, but he was there to mainly discus his books ‘Homicide’ and ‘The Corner’. I thought that was pretty obvious, what with Hay being a ‘literary festival’ and all that, but the idiots sat behind me sounded a bit annoyed about it. The books formed the basis for the TV series so it’s not as though there wasn’t really any common ground.

The whole talk was really interesting, Simon held court on topics familiar to fans of The Wire – the collapse of regional newspaper journalism, the failure of the ‘war on drugs’, political corruption etc. He made a pretty powerful point about how the war on drugs has essentially descended into a war on the poor. I would have happily sat and listened to him for hours. I love hearing people who know their stuff talking about things they’re passionate about with clarity and authority, especially when they’re as likeable and down to earth as David Simon appeared to be.

It gave me the appetite to finally start reading The Corner, which has been sat on my shelf/coffee table/next to my side of the bed in various states of not-being-read, and I really need to purchase the DVDs of Generation Kill and The Corner.

Really looking forward to seeing Treme now, which is the new show he’s working on at the moment. Apparently it’s to do with New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina, so there’s plenty of scope for him to be David Simon-y about that!

Downsides: the idiots behind me kept having little chats amongst themselves, and seemed incapable of sitting calmly in a reasonable manner. They were like children. They kept shifting about and knocking the back of my chair. At one point the lady idiot went to get something from her bag and somehow managed to head-but my shoulder.

I was on the verge of Having Words but I didn’t really want to Make A Scene in front of David Simon. I’m sure he would have been on my side though.