Oct 03


Do You SeePost a comment • 462 views

Shitebox My god, what am I watching? Some kind of virtual Gladiators? Robot Wars with computer game geeks instead of radio-controlled beardies? Most importantly, WHOSE IDEA IS THIS?

Fightbox, showing right now on BBC Three, is absolutely shocking. On paper, this looks like it might be a genre-busting, multi-format winner. In actuality, it reeks. The basic idea: the contestants (effing students, natch) design a warrior (dumb names include “Cyberskin”, “Turpin”) to compete in a number of feeble minigames (“Demolition”, “Panic”, yawn). They pit themselves against “the Sentients”, Fightbox’s “House Robots” – each more rubbish than the last. A crowd looks on cheerlessly.

OK, it’s a bad idea but it might have worked if the execution wasn’t so poor. The graphics belong in a Playstation launch title (a bit Time Commando-ish, no recommendation); well jerky. And the game dynamics are laughable. Move list? Kick, punch, headbutt and repeat. They should have just held a televised Tekken tourney. Now there’s an idea…

Sep 03

Clown jewels

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 1,132 views

Clown jewels “Are you a clown, a fool, a buffoon or just stupid?” If so, put on your red nose, get in your clown car and head off to the Annual Clown Festival in Weston-super-mare, which starts today.

Highlights include a balloon modelling workshop run by Blue “Clown Bluey” Brattle, a clown from New Zealand, and Reg Bolton’s keynote address “Are we born with funny bones?” Be sure not to miss the Clown Parade at the Grand Pier Pavilion on Saturday. The event is run by Clowns International, the oldest established clowns’ organisation in the world.

Sep 03

Flaming hell

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 388 views

Flaming hell Michael Ignatieff, in an interview in the FT a few weekends ago, made some interesting, informed comments about the Iraq situation and the future of the UN. On the strength of this, I picked up a copy of his new novel, Charlie Johnson In The Flames, and was hugely disappointed.

It’s a simple story of a war reporter who witnesses one-too-many horrific events in the Balkans and goes off on a misguided revenge tip. At only 160-odd pages, I could barely believe how superficial and predictable it was. There are few characters, none of whom are drawn with much personality, the story is thin at best and its analysis of violence seemed facile. A similar story of a war criminal being tracked down and confronted in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is far more powerful, and is only one strand of Murakami’s sprawling novel.

Ignatieff clearly knows what he’s talking about and his non-fiction work is highly regarded. However, Charlie Johnson is duff stuff indeed.

Sep 03

Chicken Jalf-lazy

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 484 views

Chicken Jalf-lazy Clearly a quiet evening for the staff at the Mirage Indian restaurant on the Archway Road. Despite its extensive menu and cosy atmos, last night the Mirage was devoid of diners. Myself, I was only there for a takeaway (delicious, as ever).

Presumably because of the zero custom, the two waiting staff seemed less than fully committed to their duties. One was doing his ironing in the corner and the other was playing Freecell on a PC by the till. Shouts of “put the jack on the queen” and “put that four on the five” interspersed “There’s nothing like this” by Omar, playing on the restaurant’s stereo. “If you had a brain, you’d be dangerous,” the ironer mocked the Freeceller.

This was not what I was expecting. Public ironing – surely a no-no. Freecell – fine for the office but it’s not an activity that should intrude on your leisure time. Or on my curry time.