Sunday, October 31, 2004

Duty Now For The Future

This should be my last post before the U.S. Election. See you on the other side...

In ancient Rome there was a poem
about a dog
who found two bones
he picked at one
he licked the other
he went in circles
he dropped dead

freedom of choice is what you got
freedom from choice is what you want

- DEVO, "Freedom Of Choice"

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Do Ye Ken John Peel?

John Peel is dead, aged 65.

This Blog is officially in mourning.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

The Shanghai Gesture

So, Tom informs me that all is going quite well out in China. He even has some photos to prove it, over at his livejournal:

Former Pirate's Journal

Sunday, October 17, 2004

"So you See, Captain, We Are Not all Barbarians..."

Found transcribed on the internet, this is one of my favourite comedy sketches of all time. It's also the only funny thing Smith & jones ever did.

[Setting: a Nazi General's fine office. General Gruber is listening to classical music while being fitted for a new suit by a tailor, with a beautiful blond attending.]

[there is a knock on the door]

Gruber: Enter!

Schtum: [entering] Heil Hitler! [salutes] General Gruber?

Gruber: I am General Gruber. As you can see, I am the Nazi general who is always being fitted for a new uniform. I enjoy the company of beautiful women while listening to classical music with my eyes shut. [he does so]

Schtum: I see.

Gruber: I am also the Nazi general who says "You see captain, we are not all barbarians."

Schtum: I am Schtum, the Nazi general with a mean streak to my character. You will find that I am always removing my gloves. [he does] So. I disapprove of other generals being measured for new uniforms. And I am always the one who is winding up the telephone [he does] and saying "Get me the Führer!"

[a knock on the door]

Gruber: Enter!

von Dunkerl: [entering] Gentlemen, allow me to introduce myself. General von Dunkel. I am the slightly pervy general. And I may also be a little bit GAY. Heil Hitler! [salutes] As you can see I have a twitch. And I am always dabbing my mouth with a handkerchief because I have no lips.

[a knock on the door]

Gruber: Enter!

Kessler: [entering] Good evening gentleman, I am Kessler. I am the easy going general who does not need to salute properly.

All: Heil Hitler!

Kessler: [barely salutes] Ja, ja... You will notice my ludicrous scar, and my obvious limp. I also have spent many happy years in London.

All: [sentimentally] Aaah.

Kessler: The reason for my uniform being a slightly different colour to yours is never explained.

[a knock on the door]

Gruber: Enter!

Matthau: [entering, limping] General. General Matthau. Forgive my late arrival, but as you can see I have a rather obvious-

Kessler: [clearing his throat] No, I am afraid the limp is me, I'm afraid.

Matthau: [stops limping] But of course I am a little bit GAY, and I dab my lips with a -

von Dunkerl: I think you will find that is me, my friend.

Matthau: [throws away handkerchief] In which case I must immediately wind up the telephone and say ...

Schtum: [shouting in the telephone] Get me the Führer!

Matthau: At least I still enjoy the company of beautiful women and listening to the grammophone, classical music [sees Gruber doing so] - ...with your eyes ...*shut*?

Gruber: I'm afraid so.

Matthau: You leave me with no choice! I am the Nazi general who is outwardly calm but subject to sudden and inexplicable *FITS OF TEMPER!!!*

All: Aaaaah!


Thursday, October 14, 2004


In your face, people! I am Berlin-era Bowie!

Which David Bowie are you?

Monday, October 11, 2004

Jacques Derrida Is Dead...

...although, if you applied his theories, you might find that he never actually existed in the first place...

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

All This Useless Beauty

Over the weekend I went to see Hero, the new film from the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon stable, and which gratuitously bears the name of Quentin Tarantino on the posters. The hype about his film indicated that it was one of the most beautiful films ever made, bringing an art-house aesthetic into action cinema.

So, should you ignore the words of Public Enemy and believe the hype? Well, yes and no. First things first: this film looks stunning, its use of colour and special effects are magical, and I kept thinking that this is what the new Star Wars films really, really should have been like.

Normally I’d get to accuse a film that looks this good of being completely hollow. Hero manages to side step this somewhat by shamelessly borrowing a trick from Kurosawa’s Rashomon - the unfolding of the narrative by multiple versions of events, some of which are not true. This also has the effect of making two of the film’s characters much more three-dimensional and effective than would normally be the case. For all that, there’s still something quite sterile about Hero. Maybe it’s the art-house aesthetic. Maybe it's the complete lack of a sense of humour (although the line "You did not come here for the calligraphy" had me in stitches). Maybe it’s the fact that a subtitled film tends to separate the viewer from the emotions being expressed by the actors. Anyway, that’s how I felt.

Now comes the controversial bit. I understand that there’s been a bit off a fuss over Hero in certain quarters, with some critics accusing the film of having a Fascist outlook. That isn’t really true: Fascism exposes the view that a constant state of war is a desirable thing, as it “ennobles” the participants and prevents them from “degenerating”. Hero suggests that war is a step on the path to peace. Rather than being Fascist, Hero is a piece of Chinese nationalist propaganda, with all that that entails. The Fascist tag probably comes from the fact that the director has almost certainly seen, and borrowed from, Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will.

The moral problem of Hero is that it falls back on the old chestnut of fighting for peace. The king who we are in the end supposed to see as a hero is going to slaughter his way to domination over his enemies, creating a strong unified state and therefore peace (the sound you can hear in the background is George W. Bush fans having a collective orgasm). A caption at the end of the film relates that the king achieved this and then built the Great Wall in order to “protect the Chinese people” (the sound you can hear in the background is Ariel Sharon fans having a collective orgasm). China then enjoyed peace, harmony, and complete respect for human rights until the present day. Didn’t it?

So the real question is, should you go and see Hero. The answer is yes, provided you can overlook some fairly dubious politics. Hell, I think you should go and see it just for The Bit With All The Leaves.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

A Proper Student

Well, the University have now registered me, and I get to use the library and computers and everything. This is a good thing. There may even be some employment within the department for me.

The only downside is that I was unable to set my computer username as "Johnny Hellzapopin".

Friday, October 01, 2004

Our Man In Shanghai

Tom informs me that he is now in Shanghai, being a journalist. One can only hope that his stint is every bit as exciting as Tintin's. He also claims to have some photos up on the internet, but this appears to be untrue. Surely he hasn't run afoul of the benevolent People's Police already?

I, of course, am now in Liverpool. On Monday they'll give me my ID card, which will mean that I get to use the library, and everything. My flat consists of me and four Germans (luckily, I have experience of Germans...). They're very nice, but only actually here for six months. This means that stand a good chance of living on my own for six months again. This may be a two-edged sword: living on my own produced "Green Lanes Blues", possibly the best thing I've ever written. As that piece of writing shows, however, it also began to fragment my personality.

This post's gone all gloomy, which isn't really how I'm feeling. I'm really just restless because until they let me in the library, I've nothing to do.