Posts from 16th December 2003

16
Dec 03

Just in case

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Just in case you’re interested in the result of the hearing I was standing near this morning, the result is a postponement until early in the New Year. First we have to go through the legal case about our being forced to repay ‘football creditors’ in full, then they’ll reconsider the deduction. This seems sensible to me (if a little frustrating).

Apologies for posting this involved stuff but I wouldn’t want to leave you all biting your nails?

I should swiftly make clear…

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I should swiftly make clear though that I am under no circumstances going to start watching Sylvester McCoy stories.

Today I went on a demonstration

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Today I went on a demonstration.

There are many bad things in this world fit to be demonstrated against, so which did I choose this morning? Why, the proposed deduction of 12 points from Exeter City by the Nationwide Conference, of course.

I have to confess that initially I felt a little sheepish standing there because I don’t disagree in principle with the concept of punishing teams for entering debt-cutting arrangements. Still, I wanted to show my support for the folks now running the club and I figured that since I lived in London it was the least I could do to stand in the cold for an hour.

As it turned out, I had a terrific time. I grudgingly spoke to a nice lady from Radio 4 then politely demurred when asked to provide some vox pop soundbites for South West TV. We chatted to members of our Board and to Steve Perryman (Exeter’s Director of Football) who seemed like a tremendous fellow. A fair number of passers-by took a passing interest in what we were up to. Apparently someone reported our little group to the Police, who turned up and agreed with us that we were doing nothing whatsoever wrong.

Most weeks the Non-League Paper prints someone or other saying we should shut up and take our medicine. I have a certain amount of sympathy with that view, but still I feel like Exeter are being harshly treated. We appear to be taking blow after blow and it seems that everyone knows that the 12-point deduction won’t be in place past the end of the season.

If the points-deduction rule is to stop clubs from ‘doing a Leicester’ (i.e. running up huge debts and then using administration to walk away from their creditors while retaining their assets) then it has to be applied with sensitivity to the particulars of each individual case, and our case is certainly very different to Leicester’s. It seems wrongheaded to punish a club like ours when we’re doing everything in our power to set right what has gone wrong under the previous regime(s), and to run ourselves for the benefit of our community.

WHOSE CIDER ARE YOU ON?

The Pumpkin Publog Advent Calendar of Alcohol: 15-16% – Creme De Cassis

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When I was a kid ‘ continuing our accidental theme of children and booze ‘ there were certain drinks I thought would be sophisticated and adult. Usually I thought this because my parents drank them. In many ways my parents were sophisticated but I think they were fairly typical 70s social drinkers, and that meant my associating adulthood with things like Dubonnet.

But there was one drink whose sophistication I had worked out for myself, since my first ever holiday in France. That drink was Cassis. I think it was one of my aunts who was drinking it ‘ I asked what it was, and was told it was like Ribena, only it was a liqueur. I decided then and there that just as Ribena was my favourite drink, so Cassis would be my favourite when I grew up.

Even now I have drunk Cassis as an adult something of its allure remains ‘ a rich liqueur with a French name made with blackcurrants; winner, surely! Unfortunately what my aunt did not mention was that Cassis actually tastes like undiluted Ribena with a dash of Tixylix. Even in cocktails it tends to be overpowering ‘ it’s best used in the naff but very tasty Kir Royale. But still I am rarely without a bottle in the home ‘ it’s a magical reminder for me of when the drinks cabinet was a scary, exciting, baffling world which I would one day enter. Sophisticated, though? My arse it is.

Few of my televisual opinions have been as set in stone as this one

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Few of my televisual opinions have been as set in stone as this one: Colin Baker was rubbish on Doctor Who. I remember being horrified by him when I was 13 and have remained so ever since – a supercilious, unpleasant, shock-headed bumbler in laughable clothes prancing through feeble fan-baiting storylines.

I was not exactly surprised, then, to discover that ‘proper’ Dr Who fans on the interweb all seem to love Colin and indeed that Doctor Who Monthly, a mag I had adored as a child, had voted him the best ever Doctor. Mass contrarianism in the face of the ‘sheep-like’ public is hardly a rare phenomenon online, after all.

The only problem is – they might have a point.

Okay, he’s not the best ever Doctor Who. But when Isabel and I watched Vengeance On Varos the other day we had to concede that it – and he – wasn’t so bad. In fact, it was pretty much terrific.

80s Doctor Who is much like 80s superhero comics in that there were obvious attempts made to make things ‘darker’ and ‘more adult’ – “grim’n’gritty” was the comics term for it and like all fads the backlash against it was merciless. With Doctor Who the frontlash was pretty harsh too – viewing figures declined sharply when Colin B took over and never recovered. Varos is by some distance the grimmest and grittiest story of the era – black comedy sci-fi set on a mining planet whose population are kept entertained by live torture and executions beamed from the ‘Punishment Dome’.

Generally it’s effective stuff – the budget for once doesn’t overreach itself, the villain (a sadistic business-slug) is very well realised and pretty much all the performances are good. It’s violent – too violent for the tastes of some fans – but hardly excessive: the bleak tone, clever script and moments of genuine creepiness are what mark it out as ‘adult’, not the gore.

And Colin Baker is recognisably Doctor Who – a little peevish and a little vain, yes, but those are constants of the character. He gets his bearings, gets involved, has moments of heroism, takes charge and sorts things out with a little help from a typical deus ex machina. Watching it now it’s hard to see exactly why he is so hated – hard even to remember why I hated him so much.

The story has aged well, too – in fact it?s improved with age. In 1986 it was a slightly clunky if well-meaning satire on democracy, big business and mob rule. In 2003 it’s a prescient and sharp piece about Reality TV. The show aimed for one target and hit another, and this means it works much better than a more full-on blunderbuss approach would. You can get the video on eBay for a quid or two: underrated and definitely recommended.

Romana says: not liking silly xmas hats

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Romana says: not liking silly xmas hats? I believe that there Tom EwingSpizzaz chap hates fun!

I saw Gurls Aloud sing their songs Live From Wembley the other day. WHY OH WHY, in some misgiven search for “live music appeal” did somebody turn on their microphones?

Cue happy singing along to telly “aaaaaarrrrr-OIII don’t need yoooore good AdVOICE”… WHAT? Hold on a minute? That is not me singing along! That be MONSTERS! Also it appears that all one of them can say is “Undergraaaahnd” (as in “Sound Of the”, pop pickers) but to the power of NINE GAZILLION.

B-b-but Sarah, nine-gazillion is surely a made-up number and does not exist! YES WELL I wouldn’t have thought one person would have the ability to drown out and silence Wembley Stadium in shock horror unless they were that nasty German man from a while back so it is PERFECTLY APPROPRIATE.

In other, more sad pop news, oh no!! Poor DJ Otzi!! Oh NO!! (Honestly they’re all doing it after Ozzy diddit first).

The shame of the (not-so) secret RI:SE fan

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The shame of the (not-so) secret RI:SE fan 3 days left… Kate Lawler
RI:SE spent much of it’s final incarnation absolutely obsessed with reality TV ‘ which is terrifically ‘meta’ of it, because it was a reality TV show in it’s own right: “What Katie did next”.

Kate, you may remember, won Big Brother and then, to her credit, dropped out of sight quite quickly. Presumably, not wanting to go back to her IT job, she took Telly Presenter Lessons. It would however seem that the Telly Presenter Lessons Teacher, finding the phrase “pig’s ear” coming to mind, decided to cut his/her losses. Kate won BB for being herself ‘ not for being a natural performer.

So RI:SE has been effectively paying her (a lot) to learn on the job. And she’s a slow learner ‘ possibly because her co-presenter has the bigger mouth. Despite this, when given the chance, Kate can cram both her feet into her own mouth. Memorable gaffe’s include her impression of an Irishman (it involves miming firing a machine gun) and her claim that “Margaret Thatcher, Adolf Hitler and Napoleon were all middle children and all great leaders of their time”. Hmm, that’s one way of putting it.

She has finally learned how to hide her pants while wearing a short skirt though.

Music that sounded best when I took a short cut through Burger King at the railway station this morning

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Music that sounded best when I took a short cut through Burger King at the railway station this morning, and it was cold and wet and I was very tired: Heaven is a Place on Earth by Belinda Carlisle. I heard about 5 seconds of it in all, as I was in a hurry to get to the self-service ticket machines, to begin the next stage of my 90 minute pig of a commute to work. But it sounded bloody great, both absolutely earnest and stupidly utopian at the same time, uplifting but without me having to believe even for a second in the sentiments of the song. Like I said, just bloody great. So what’s the problem? Well, none for me, but it’s come to my attention via this enormous thread on ILM that there are still people out there trying to police the boundaries between ‘proper’ and ‘improper’ appreciation etc. of music. i.e. the indie-police will be out to get me. If you don’t ‘respect’ disco; if you dance in a silly fashion when others around you might be taking the music entirely seriously; if you like hip-hop ironically; if you only listen to music in shops or on the radio, but don’t buy albums, follow groups; if you threaten their precious sense of self-worth and even begin to question the distinctions by which they sustain their own priceless superiority over the dumb masses (and even over lesser beings of their own kind, in the form of the hipster): they’ve got your number. Well take this as a warning, you sad-sack twats, you won’t take me down without a fight!

There is a slight problem when thinking of low budget productions

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There is a slight problem when thinking of low budget productions of treating this as a caveat, to ignore the obvious knock on effects and over-praise what there is that is acceptible. This can then confuse the average punter, who goes along to see a raved about film only to see ropey special effects and a cast they would not know from Adam. These days the favoured genre of the low-to-no budget set seems to be horror. As we all know, some things are scarier if we never see them. And never seeing equals never making the complex Stan Winston speciall effect.

This is only true up to a point. Canadian chiller Dead End is a case in point. There is a deceptively deceptively simple set up: family head off for Christmas, take a short cut that goes on for ever. In the meantime there is something in them thar woods and our cast of five soon get whittled away using the power of off screen suggestion and a set of kiddies horror make-up. So what is there to praise here? The unknown cast are interesting to watch precisely because they are unknown. The script mines pretty much every potential family argument out of them and is soapier than the run of Santa Barbera with the voodoo doll. And the set is even more one note than Cube’s was, it is a road to nowhere. So the pleasure in the film is in the simplicity of the telling, the decidedly unsympathetic characters and having guessed the twist in the first five minutes.

When I said it was deceptively deceptive I was not just doing it to raise the ire of wiggly red line in word (I do that ll the time anyway). The twist is foreshadowed in the first minute, and you spend the entire film thinking – surely they are not going to use that hoary old chestnut. There b’ain’t be a film that’s gotten away with that one for years round these parts. And it really does not get away with it (the Usual Suspects-esque hammering it home makes it all the worse). Does it spoil the film? Not really, you enjoy its audacity. But you do walk away feeling party to a con trick. Especially since the one thing about a road that goes on forever is that it is decidedly not a Dead End. Cheap fun.