Monday, 29 July 2013

Just pants.

Aren't bookstores great! They're full of books. Proper books. Books that make you feel like the intellectual you always hoped everyone else would mistake you for. Books that people will see upon walking into your flat and suddenly be overcome with the thought that they like to have sex with people who like books. So, as someone who recently purged a vast array of DVDs specifically to create more space on his bookshelf to fill with said books, I just pointed myself in the direction of the Plaza's glorious Waterstones store to do just that. (The book buying bit, not the casual sex with other bibliophiles bit. This isn't about to turn into some kind of book based dogging. Mr Cameron would never approve of that)

Which is when it happened. The boundless joy of nosing through the shelves in the kind of chaos free oasis that, in central London, only a bookstore can provide came crashing down like a, well fine, I can't think of a good enough metaphor for once, but trust me, it hit the ground hard.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have just witnessed something that should simply never have been allowed to be. Something that was not only terrifying, but that as a man I have literally no frame of reference point over how to deal with.

While happily nosey through a collection of, inevitably alluring, fantasy books, I casually turned my head and saw, well, frankly there's no good way of putting this. In fact it's so far from being right that I'm going to devote an entire paragraph to the sentence to describe it.

Three teenage girls, wearing jeans, with their knickers on over the top of their Jeans!

Seriously fashion, what the actual fuck was that? Normally at this point I'd love to share a photo with you as evidence, but as I'm not a complete moron, I realised pretty much instantaneously that attempting to photograph this monstrosity had somewhere between slim and no chance of not landing me with a lengthly jail term. So you're going to have to take my word for it. But there it was. 3 teenagers going about their, largely unfathomable, lives, wearing some very large pants, over some reasonably baggy Jeans. Just, just stop for a second, and picture that.

I know fashion's had it's fair share of train wrecks over the years. Shell-suits were liable to spontaneously engulf their owner in flames. Emo hair was the equivalent to voluntary cataracts on one side of your face. Skinny Jeans was fashion's least subtle effort to sterilise the male population. And I was once a Goth. But this, this just defies explanation. It's bad enough that many men under the age of 30 have seemingly gotten so bored with getting dressed that they give up half way through pulling their trousers up, but at least they've remembered the basic order in which to apply clothing!

I've literally spent the past 45 minutes trying to comprehend why a person would do this. My best idea was simply that it was a bet. They were all young enough to be on some school trip. So it might have been a joke. Some glorious youthful hijinks that they'll have a good chuckle about later.

Then I came back to the office and saw this on Twitter:

No fashion. No. Even Superman's gotten past this now.

*NB Tweet stolen from the excellent @peachesanscream who you should probably follow.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Film Review: The Worlds End

I'll get this clear from the outset. I bloody love Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. If I were starting life with a brochure of people to pick my mates from, they'd be top of my shopping list. I imagine I love Edgar Wright too, but for some reason I don't tend to make that association between him and the films so there we go.

Equally, I bloody loved Shaun of the Dead, Spaced, Hot Fuzz and Paul (told you I didn't make the Edgar Wright association), in all of their hilarious, often quite mental, glory. So I had high hopes for The Worlds End. How could they possibly get it wrong? It's basically a take on combining the best bits of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, ageing the characters to a sensible degree, and rocking on with the concept.

Which is why it sucked when I discovered that it had all gone a bit wrong really.

The first half of the film is reiterating the same point over and over again, Gary King (Pegg) has never grown up, lives in the past, and desperately wants to reclaim his long lost youth in some desperate final act of rebellion. All of his mates have grown up, become everything that every teenage boy swears they'll never be, are now basically annoyed with him, but decide to come along come along anyway. Now rinse and repeat that concept until we're a few pubs into the crawl that provides the crux of the setting.

The problem is, that while there are some genuinely hilarious moments, you spend the entire first half of the movie constantly expecting it to get going, and it never really does. The tragic life of Gary King is played up over and over again, to the point at which you start to wonder if there was really any point to any of the rest of the cast not called Nick Frost. So by the time the Alien Robots finally show up you're almost longing for a distraction. It does get better at that point, and it REALLY makes an effort to come across all Shaun of the Fuzz, but there's still something that's not quite there. You see, we've seen this film. I know I said at the outset that taking the best bits of Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead could only ever be a good thing, and I stand by that. But what they've turned out at the end of it is really an exercise in taking the good bits, and making them quite, well, mediocre really.

The Robot vs Human fights scenes are brilliantly shot, but lack the charm of their SotD counterparts (something that can probably be explained by actually having a special effects budget on this one). While the 'all to perfect' town is so perfect that it completely lacks in any of the character that Sandford mustered in Hot Fuzz.

The final scenes get better, and get back to what we know they're capable of producing, but the very end of the film just seemed to me to show how cool a film they could have made, if they'd not wanted to do a very British pub crawl first.

A few people gave up and walked out on this when I was watching, and it's certainly not bad enough for that. Hell, it's worth a watch and I certainly don't regret giving it one. It's just a classic case of the whole not being as good as the sum of its parts.

Monday, 22 July 2013

David Cameron on Porn

Dear David Cameron,

It's a nice idea isn't it; a perfect world where our children are protected from anything that we might consider to be bad for them. I can see it now, little Timmy merrily skipping off to school wrapped in a limitless bubble of joy and naivety. A bubble the stops all of life's little nasties from getting at him. Porn for example. You know Porn, that overly exaggerated past time of having a camera in a room while human beings do things that human beings tend to do when given half a chance, and then showing it to other people. Now, in the name of fighting the good fight you've decided that the Internet should block it by default, lock it away somewhere cold and dark, and help keep little Timmy's bubble of joy that bit stronger.

Fair enough. It's a plan that's about as intelligent as putting a Cat Flap in an Elephant house, but hey, it's a good way of making it look like you're doing something good for a change. Let's face it, there's not a Daily Mail reader in the land who won't weep tears of joy over the concept alone!

Now, I'm not here to argue the morals, and I'm not here to argue the psychological science or otherwise behind viewing such things. Hell, I'm not even here to point out what might happen if you suddenly decide that other things are now bad as well and should be locked away too. And of course, because some book dodging halfwit will inevitably assume it if I don't say so; no, I don't want to expose little Timmy to porn. No, I'm simply here to point out that you're idea is so utterly flawed at a basic level that I'm staggered you even got this far through the thought process to start with. Let me tell you why.

First up, any teenager with half a brain can use a proxy, and happily bounce themselves around anywhere else in the world online instantly bypassing the entire thing. Total effort involved? Less than it took me to write this sentence, and in an instant all your litigation and effort has come to nothing. China can't keep it's people behind their great firewall, Egypt's previous rulers had to cut off the internet entirely for the whole country to keep them quiet (and it STILL didn't work). So what chance exactly do you, a man with FAR less practical power than either of those regimes, have?

Secondly, define Porn. Sure, is probably a pretty good place to start, so that can be on the block list, but what about say, Facebook? Or maybe Twitter? YouTube? Flickr? (I was going to say MySpace as well, but let's not let this become ridiculous) Because what exactly would it be that would stop me uploading something Porn based to one of those sites? Nothing, nothing at all. Now seeing as it doesn't take an awful lot of thought to realise that it's impossible to validate everything ever posted on the internet we can be pretty sure of one thing. It's still going to be distributed just fine.

Sure the Facebooks and Twitters of the world would take it down reasonably quickly (once they've been told about it anyway), but that's the thing about the internet, block something in one place and within 15 minutes the whole thing is back again, hosted in another country and doing exactly the same thing. Total cost to the user: fuck all. Total cost to the Government & various ISPs (or whomever else) to plough through all the legal proceedings: A lot more than fuck all.

Not to mention all the false positives that will come up from this. Sexual health clinics? Countless entirely legitimate sites that happen to discuss things around gender or sexuality? Charities? What about written porn? Slash fiction? The fucking Discovery Channel? We could even bring up that great piece of internet based folk lore and talk about the people working at Pen Island. Or are you going to fix it so we're all provided a list of things that we are allowed to look at, read, learn, watch, and things that we're not? Unlikely if you ever want to be voted for again.

Dave, let's keep it simple here. You don't really know how the internet works do you. It's a nice idea this whole protecting the children thing, and I get where you're coming from, I really do. But it won't work. It'll never work. The ISPs and search engines know it wont work, and that's why they want no part in it unless you force them by law. Now, I don't want to alarm you here Dave, but perhaps if you spent a few more minutes listening to the experts, and few less listening to irrational screaming Daily Mail types, you might just save yourself a hell of a lot of time and effort, and save the rest of the country a hell of a lot of money.

Alternatively, we could always encourage people to do some bloody parenting once in a while?