Wednesday, 19 January 2011

The Kings Speech

Allow me to start by unabashedly admitting that I am not a fan of period dramas, nor have I ever been. As intrigued by history as I am when the mood strikes me, it's a genre that simply doesn't appeal to me. I didn't even like Atonement *shock horror!*

More than that, I have always previously maintained a guarded dislike for poor Colin Firth, who has in recent months proven himself as a wonderful and talented actor whom I have clearly been neglecting for all these years. I believe the issue for me was that I associated him with the likes of Mr Darcy and a sense of 'Englishness' which I've always detested. I dislike Hugh Grant too, but I shall never be dissuaded from this dislike. Shamefully I first discovered that he was not the embodiment of this straight-up, foppish Brit thanks to his role in Mama Mia. Don't you judge me, I was made to go see it.

But he surpassed all expectations I ever had when he appeared in Tom Ford's beautiful A Single Man, a film in which he is more stylish than I could ever hope to be and I firmly believed until today that he would be unable to surpass this role.

But his performance in The Kings Speech is such that I am torn. Going into the screen I was aware that there was a solid chance I wouldn't enjoy the film, simply because it's not my usual cup of tea, but within a few minutes I was completely encapsulated. My eyes remained glued to the screen throughout the film, I was transfixed, but it wasn't just because it was a well cast, fantastically acted film; it is because the script was incredibly entertaining as well. The performances from both Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush complimented this.

I'm also incredibly pleased to see Geoffrey Rush in something other than Pirates of the Caribbean. I know he's done other films before and since, including an especially interesting role in The Warriors Way, but for me, every time I see him, I see Captain Barbossa and I am glad that now, each time I see his in his pirate garb, I'll be thinking of him encouraging Colin Firth to shout the F word at the top of his lungs.

Overall the film was a massive hit, and working in the cinema I can safely assure you that it's our biggest selling film right now, and quite rightly too. Firth and Rush have secured themselves a place in history for this film, and I don't mean to neglect the rest of the talented cast - Bonham-Carter was wonderful, as was Timothy Spall - but it's the Firth-Rush relationship that makes the film so compelling.

You don't want to see this film, you need to.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Time to Vote

Back in December I found myself standing in Guildford's Boileroom with a pint of snakebite in my hand (in my eyes the only way you can ever truly enjoy a gig). I had no real idea what I was in for, having no idea who Midgar were, all I knew was that Collapse the Control were playing, and it was the first chance I'd had to see a friends band in action.

As I patiently waited for their set, the guy sat next to me* turned and asked if I'd ever seen them before. Having not seen them before I asked what they were like. A smile crept across his face as he considered his answer. "You know how some people just don't have stage presence...well these guys, they DO".

I instinctively started towards the front of the crowd as they looked set to take the stage but stopped on seeing no-one else move. The consensus; front of the stage is like the splash zone at SeaWorld, except instead of risking a wet shirt you're risking a busted nose. Usually this wouldn't bother me in the slightest (Billy Talent left me concussed and happy as a pig in shit), but I'd just had a five hour tattoo finished on my left leg and I was in no mood to have it kicked/bumped/touched in any way, so I hung back.

I can safely tell you now that I was not disappointed with the show. They triggered a reaction from that small crowd that I haven't seen some of the more 'experienced' bands produce. If I'd have had a camera I would show you the pit they started, I've seen less committed rockers at a Skindred gig - which is a pity because Skindred have produced a few of the best gigs I've ever been to. You could see people thinking it was funny to jump in, as if it were a joke to those hardcore fuckers in the middle. Then you'd see the mild terror in their eyes as they realise that if they stay in there much longer, they'll be leaving with a black eye. Luckily for them there were plenty of escape routes since most of the action was at the front.

Which brings me to the point of all this, Collapse the Control are currently in the running to get a place in Red Bull Bedroom Jam 2011 and they need your votes. So check 'em out here, they're worth a listen.

And even if you don't like the whole screaming, rock thing, why not vote anyway, as a favour to me? Cause I for one would like to see them up there.

Also, you can come see them for yourself at the Boileroom again on Friday 28th Jan. I'll be there, you should be too.

*I don't want to mislead you, he too is a friend of the band

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

I was flicking through some pics the other day and started thinking about my friends (you people), so I thought I'd drop a little blog of you peeps.
This blog displays some, but not all, of the coolest, most bad-ass mother fuckers I know. Even if I don't get to see some of them enough.

Check 'em - they know who they are...

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Rock the boat (don't rock the boat baby)

So a couple of days ago I went white water rafting on the Shotover River in Queenstown. I'd been rafting before so I had a fairly good idea of what to expect although the highest class rapid I had ever tackled previously was a class 3, and this trip went all the way up to 5. And once again, the trip was brilliant. I whole-heartedly recommend anyone heading to Queenstown to do this trip, whatever the season.

The road to the actual rafting site is probably the most terrifying part of the journey though as you drive up the most dangerous road in New Zealand - not suitable for anything other than four wheel drives, and under no circumstance should you be towing a trailer. You traverse this 'road' of course, in a two wheel drive bus, towing a trailer full of rafts. O'rian, our guide and safety kayaker cheerfully pointed out the various edges of the road as 'seven rollers' - meaning it would take seven rolls to get the bottom of the canyon to the side of us, and 'zero rollers' - meaning it's just a sheer drop to the bottom. My personal favourite part of the journey was 'bus scratch corner' which is where the driver needs to throw the front right wheel of the bus off the road, out over the canyon in order to get the bus and trailer around the corner.

The whole tour was remarkably interesting in terms of a historical factor as it was once a mining area and the Shotover River was actually the second highest gold-yielding river in the world, producing around $50m of gold in its mining period. It's also one of the shortest rivers, which is why the Klondike was able to overtake it. The old mining equipment is still there, littering the edges of the river and there are lumps of metal and wood embedded in the rocks beneath the raft as you head downstream. Some of the equipment is so heavy that it hasn't moved since it was put there, despite horrendous floods tearing up the area in the past.

Our cheerful tour guide Tom kept us safe, and moderately dry for the duration of our trip. Considering we were going up against class 5 rapids this time there were a few more commands for me to learn than when I last went. The rapids were amazing, and despite the water having been snow on the mountains less than ten hours previously (and please do believe me, it was seriously cold), it was just ridiculously fun. The grand finale of the trip is by far the best part however, as you all huddle down in the middle of the boat while you go headlong into a 170m man-made tunnel, headed downwards towards your last, and by far best, rapid - Cascade. Cascade is apparently known for flipping rafts, and as soon as you're all out of the tunnel, you have around two seconds to get back on the side, aim it, and then back down and hold the fuck on. Our raft almost flipped, it went right over onto its side, dunking the Alva, the poor girl sat next to me completely under water. We all thought we were going over, Marty, our front guy said afterwards that he was getting ready to bail rather than flip, but we somehow righted ourselves before either of these things happened.

It was an absolutely fantastic trip and if you head to Queenstown at any stage, ever, then make sure you do this because I promise you won't regret it. The only negative factor for me was my own social awkwardness. I was in a boat filled incrediby nice, friendly, interesting people, and yet again my brain managed to employ its usual social function and shut down entirely. It's my most major annoyance that I'm such a social tard. What I should have done was exchange emails at the end of the trip or something like that, and I didn't, because for some reason I am incapable of attempting to make new friends. But on the bright side, that was my last straw. This is now a problem that has hindered me for too long, and it is one that will be getting dealt with.

The only other negative thing I'll say is that I've also got some kind of itchy rash where one of the wet suits touched me - that too is annoying.

If you don't believe me about the raft almost going over at the end by the way, I'll post the pictures and video up as soon as I can, unfortunately the disc they produce is not Mac-compatible. So it'll have to wait a few more days until i"m back in the UK.

Oh gash, I just realised I've pretty much only got today and tomorrow left. Shit.

Someone take me back to Queenstown please, I'm not ready to come home yet.

Taupo would be nice too.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Aquaman innit

Aquaman is friends to all the creatures of the sea. Right? Or was it just fish? I’ve never really read it to be honest and I think the only things I actually know about it are based on the film that was made in Entourage…anyway, I spent some of my day yesterday hanging out on some rocks with some New Zealand Fur Seals. They didn’t seem to mind much.

I was driving along the coast when my parents spotted a load of seals on the rocks so we pulled in at the next available area, to find that it was about a mile down from where we’d seen them. This doesn’t stop me. I walked all along the stones until I reached a stream about 6ft wide and deep enough to go just over my knees. After careful consideration of the fact that I am a fat bastard and in no way an athlete, it was decided that I could not jump it. Just as I was about to turn around and leave, a large female hauled herself out of the water and headed up the beach. Well I didn’t have my camera with me, but I was determined to see her close-up. So I rolled my jeans as far as they would go, left my nice new shoes and socks on the gravel and waded across. It was fantastic, absolutely amazing to be so close. I stumbled back across the beach all pleased with myself, not noticing that somewhere along the way I had cracked my big toe on a rock as well as cutting it under the nail, causing myself untold pain.

I would actually be fine with this, were it not for the fact that I drove us another 2km down the road to spot another load of seals all chilling on the rocks right by an actual pull-in. So we stopped and I spent an afternoon hopping about rocks with a bunch of seals who didn’t seem to mind. One of them actually seemed to like me, and spent quite a lot of time posing for the camera.

So yeah...I'm like Aquaman, friends to the creatures of the sea! Now if only I could fix my toe…

Saturday, 16 October 2010

I declare war on those hiding onions

Right. That’s it. This is fucking war.

I have had enough of vile restaurateurs trying to poison me now. What have I done to deserve it? I have now officially taken umbrage at the food almost everywhere. They are clearly all devious, lying little bastards.

I don’t understand why any restaurant deems it necessary to list every ingredient involved in a dish, as well as what it is garnished with, yet they somehow omit onions every…single…time. Why? I can’t stand onions, they make me physically sick, so each time I get a menu I look for the vegetarian options, then I look to see what has onion in it. If it’s not listed I automatically get excited and order that dish.

Except every time I do there is always hidden onion. Tonight was the last straw – the dish I ordered listed everything involved from the types of tomatoes, to the bed of cress which would be served on top. It was such an extensive list of ingredients that I decided I was safe. But once again I get tongue-raped by them.

Let me make this clear to all of you, and anyone owning a restaurant take note: onions ARE an ingredient. Just because you put them in a lot of dishes does not make them a herb or a spice. They are a vegetable, and they should be treated like one. There are millions of people who won’t eat onion, so if your dish has onion in, fucking include that on the menu.

I find it both baffling and infuriating that I am now going to have to spend every day of my life asking someone “does this have onions in?” before ordering. So the next dish that I find hidden onions in, will be the onion dish to end all onion dishes. Because I will use it to batter the staff to death.

Hey onions, fuck you.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

I don't like my culture anymore

I want to be a Maori.

Seriously, why wasn’t I born into such an amazing culture?

Everything about it is so fantastic, it makes me feel that for everything England has (and I only admit that it has anything worthwhile very begrudgingly), we have no beauty in our culture.

The Maori performance I witnessed and the information I learned today astounded me. There is such a rich history, and as per usual, it was us that fucked things up. Up until the Europeans arrived, battles were fought in close combat with vicious weaponry, but when we came along, we brought guns and when Maori tribes got hold of them, things changed.

That aside, I was lucky enough to speak to some of them about various things afterwards including the crafting of canoes, and tattoos. The main guy I spoke to had a large tattoo on his back and he explained that the left side was for his fathers tribe, the right side was for his mothers, and they met in the middle with the bottom set aside for his siblings. He explained how he had the bulk of it done traditionally, which is incredibly painful – if you don’t know what a traditional Maori tattooing process looks like, I suggest you look back to last years blog on the London Tattoo Convention to see some pictures. He said that he had to get the rest filled in with a needle to save time, and it was much less painful. He said he was going to start the tattoos of his own life story on his arm soon.

In fact, most of the Maori’s I spoke to had tattoos for their families, the utmost in respect which is something else I think we lack, and I include myself in that most days. Everything about the culture is so rich and involving, I’m jealous.

I want some rich history attached to me. I wish I was a Maori. I’ll have to settle for just meeting them for now. Which was pretty damn good.