25 Feb 2012

No wrinkles on Philippe

Some TV watching...if you've not watched Inside Men and intend to, skip the first bit, for there be spoilers...

Inside Men
Stop tittering at the back...this was not a gay porno movie but actually a rather good crime drama, up to a point. I say up to a point, because there were one or two strange plot holes and the ending was the sort of thing writers come up with after some imbibing some marching powder and thinking they are handing down art when it is frustrating bollocks in actuality.

Our gang of insiders work in a cash clearing house that serves as a hub for moving vast quantities of cash around the country, from supermarkets to cash machines etc. Led by sociopathic warehouse boss John (the convincingly intense Steven Mackintosh) who stoops so low as to have his own wife and child held hostage in order to cover his tracks, one of the number, security guard Chris (Ashley Walters) decides he can't cope and goes to the police, informing them of the intended date of the heist. When, for reasons I won't go into, the planned robbery on that date doesn't happen, instead, as you would expect, the cops shadowing his every move they disappear from the picture entirely! As for the revealed bizarre reason for boss John carrying out the heist in the first place, well let's just say cod psychology doesn't do it justice. Whale psychology might be closer.

The ending is one of those "let's leave everything hanging in the air" things that for this kind of drama that cries out for a solid conclusion, is just pretentious and very annoying. In spite of all that it is rather good, if you don't mind shouting at the TV in frustration at the end.

Inspector Montalbano
B & my foray into Euro drama continues with this Italian cop drama, laced as it is with moments of high farce. A sort of Frost in the sun if you will. This levity combined with the gorgeous sun drenched Sicilian scenery meant it was somewhat of a culture shock after the grim (both in script and scenery) and serious Scandinavian dramas we've grown to love, but BBC 4 has possibly come up trumps again. The jury is out, but the two episodes we have seen so far show promise. Both were made in 2003 although they look older, having the look and feel of something filmed in the 80s. The graphics in particular are out of the Ark.

Inspector Salvo Montalbano is the top dog in a small town police station on Sicily, largely staffed by semi-competent leering 70s throwbacks with the exception of Fazio, Montalbano's overly serious deputy, and the lantern-jawed cretinous station sergeant Catarella who is practically an idiot savant. Master of the malapropism and blessed with a clown-like lack of grace, Catarella surprises all his colleagues by passing a computer course with distinction thereby showing them he does actually have a use apart from nearly falling over every time he opens the door to Montalbano's office. Unlike a lot of dull and formulaic British cop shows, Montalbano is not the dreaded maverick cop with a borderline personality disorder, just an ordinary bloke struggling with the absurdities of life, again a parallel to Frost.

Another great character is Salvo's long time girlfriend Livia with whom our hero has a largely long distance relationship over the phone. Their conversations usually end with Livia losing her dangerously explosive temper much to Salvo's stoical chagrin. When they meet occasionally they spend all their time shagging furiously. The sex is largely implied, although we are afforded glimpses of her fabulous upper register. Marvellous!

And now, briefly, some balls...

A thankfully rarely tried defensive technique from certfied Scouse nutjob Joey Barton, currently resident at QPR...arf arf (thanks Pete)

Finally, may I just say....COME ON YOU BLUEBIRDS!!

18 Feb 2012

Tail chasing

Would you expect an automated phone call from your phone service provider to get you to confirm or reject an engineer's appointment you made in order to correct a "dead" phone line to be made to you on the very number you're having a problem with? Answers on a pigeon pointed at India, please.

Some TV reviews:

Being Human - A series too far. Stop it, now.

Top Gear - An anachronism starring an actually intelligent man pretending to be an idiot, an actual idiot, and a decent bloke who knows which side his bread is buttered on. Stop it, now.

Family Guy - Thanks to Phill. I'm a late convert to this grossly offensive but often hilarious American rubbish. Seth MacFarlane is a comedy genius. The vomit scene is spectacular and rupture-inducingly funny in a really baaad way.

A tough rock
The Great British Countryside - I'm a sucker for this kind of thing, and was relieved to find out that I wouldn't have to put up with that ubiquitous over-hirsute Scot staring significantly into the middle distance from the top of a hill or a cliff for once.

Given that it is broadcast at 8 o'clock in the evening when kids who want to learn something should be watching, Hugh Dennis describing granite extrusions that survive the battering of the sea as "tough rocks", and the 21st C Anneka Rice that is Julia Bradbury describing our hinterland as "very old" is forgivable, just.

However, I'm not too sure about Bradbury asking a surfer what it is that attracts his kind to Newquay as huge breakers crashed on the beach in the near distance though. I might have to watch the next episode with the sound off.

My friend Barry is the only person I've come across who openly admits to disliking National Treasure Stephen Fry, who he finds "condescending" "supercilious" "smug" and a few other choice adjectives. He reckons a few of his friends think the same way. Don't be too hard on him, he is a fan of the dwarf throwing game after all...;)

15 Feb 2012

Cash trousered one way and another

Last night, the mighty Team Squonk won the eight week rollover jackpot at the pub, with little thanks due to my sieve-like brain, rescued at the eleventh hour by Phill recalling a Gallagher & Lyle tune and a chocolate themed tiebreak question. Mucho thanks though were sent my way, as once again I picked out the envelope bearing the legend "The Cashpot", a restaurant-enabling one hundred and forty of your English pounds. This is the second highest amount we have ever trousered, the largest being £220, also picked out by moi. When the jackpot is of a mere trifling amount and it's my turn for the envelope challenge, my record at picking the big envelope is no better than anyone else's, but give me a nice three-figure sum to sniff out and I'm in there as fast as a mate of Andrew Lansley can set up a health consultancy. I can smell the cash, and I'm comin' atcha....!

Unfortunately I have yet to find a way to transfer this Midas touch to the lottery....

Sad as it is for her family and friends no doubt, the death of Whitney Houston sees the passing of a singer, who along with Maria Carey was an early and prime exponent of that godawful syllable stretching warbling that could see a simple word like "you" last for half a bleedin' minute, wildly traversing up and down the scales like a caged songbird on crack.....hmmm, not too sure about that analogy. This sadly all too prevalent and cringe-inducing practice is, as I found out from a mate today, called "melisma", which sounds like either a wasting disease or a popular girl's name in Essex.

I also learned from the redoubtable Shippy, that because of the now inevitable burgeoning sales of the soundtrack to The Bodyguard down to that song, a musical hero from my yoof, one Nick Lowe, ex Brinsley Schwarz, and latterly producer and songwriter par excellence will also be quids in as it includes his marvellous song (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace Love And Understanding, originally written for the Brinsleys waaay back in the mid 70s. The royalties generated will allow Lowe to continue producing his wonderful vignettes of life and love, all thanks to the inexplicable popularity of melisma, bless her.

Bad taste link for today...

Luis Suarez to serenade Patrice Evra

Arf arf..

8 Feb 2012


Whilst perambulating homewards, a Clevor Trevor style chap is walking towards me, head bowed in mobile phone chatterings. I'd say he was in his thirties, head shaven and uncovered. He was wearing tracky bottoms, the crotch fashionably just above knee level, and a sweatshirt, no coat. As you know, it's bloody freezing, but he seemed oblivious.

As he neared me he said this into his mobile "...but they can't do that, it'd make me look stupid". I bit my lip.