Sunday, 31 January 2010
Does your PlayStation3 still play Blu-ray discs – but with an 85% probability it will freeze mid-film?
Does your car stereo happily play CDs – but refuses to allow you to skip tracks, adjust the volume, or piss around with the bass function thingamajig?
Would you be interested in solving such infuriating niggles without any real effort, skill or expenditure?
If you answered "YES!" to any of the above questions, then fear not weary technophobe; help is at hand - quite literally!
All you will need is:
- A mildly malfunctioning – but generally still reasonably okay to use; this won't work if you dropped your iPod in a pint of Ribena, for instance – piece of electrical equipment*
- A finger, preferably an index, but any will do. Or a thumb. Maybe even a toe, if you're ultra-flexible/majorly bored
- An ingrained tightness and unwillingness to pay for something which is broken, despite having zero technical ability to fix it yourself
- A lazy yet stubborn attitude
- Patience (not the Take That single – although if it is your stereo that is malfunctioning, you could use it as a test CD. That way, if following our Money Saving Tip of the Month ™ doesn't actually work at all – highly plausible – and the CD gets stuck/scratched/snaps in the machine, you haven't lost any music of real value. Oooo, bitchy)
Then simply follow these 3 easy-to-follow steps:
1. Upon realising that your brilliant and wonderful piece of electrical equipment that you simply couldn't live without is, alas, no longer brilliant, wonderful or life-affirming, but is, in fact, comparable to a hiccuping work colleague who still just about manages to go about their office duties but irritates the hell out of the rest of the staff every 5 seconds and makes you want to squirt Tip-Ex up their nose, simply jab the buttons of said machine a few times in the hope that the problem is temporary and can easily be fixed by random prodding.
2. When the random prodding fails to solve the mechanical mishap DO NOT phone a helpline/take it back to the manufacturer/attempt to have a play about with the wiring yourself, but give up for the day & hope that administering the finger jab tomorrow will yield better results.
3. Repeat #1 and #2 daily for 3 months (this is where the patience comes in handy) but under no circumstance consider replacing the equipment with a new model. If you find the jabbing action hard to master, please consult our helpful diagram (right). If one particular finger starts to hurt, move on to the next one along, or rotate hands. Maybe draw up a schedule? One day (results may vary), after persistent jabbing of the buttons, your piece of malfunctioning electrical equipment will yield to your human superiority and expertise and decide to work again, as if nothing was ever wrong with the blighter in the first place.
HUZZAH: SUCCESS! You have saved yourself effort and money, and all you had to do was live in mild irritation for a quarter of a year – a small price to play for the smugness now overtaking your body. As the meerkats would say: “Simples!”
COMING NEXT MONTH: How to unblock a toilet using your friend's hand and a plastic bag – with not a plumber or plunger in sight!
* crabhoward.blogspot.com takes no responsibility for injuries sustained by bloggers foolish enough to follow this clearly ludicrous advice.
Wednesday, 27 January 2010
Saturday, 23 January 2010
It is fair to say she is rather hard to classify, mixing electro loops, blips and bleeps with more traditional instruments (her beloved piano), samples of everyday sounds (chatter, cars, a roaring fire, to name but three) and airy vocals. She also isn’t afraid to take risks, such as with her 2005 single "Hide and Seek", which comprises entirely of vocoded vocals and nothing else. It paid off: this is her biggest hit to date. Let’s just classify her as brilliant, yeah?
It came as a pleasant surprise to me last week to learn that her 2007 iTunes Festival concert was finally available for download. This was a piano-only celebration of her 1998 solo debut album iMegaphone (the title of which, fact fans, is an anagram of her name), which saw Immi perform the album in its entirety, alongside a host of B-sides and rarities at the ICA in London .
Exciting. And just look at that stunning artwork from Ryan Obermeyer.
It pains me to say this (especially in a blog so heaped with praise), but I was disappointed. This is strictly for the die-hard fans only. This is the evening raw and unabridged, with crowd interaction, pre- and post-track anecdotes from Immi herself, and every mistake and flaw left in too. True, this adds to the live concert atmosphere, but when it forms part of the track, you’re forced to sit through 6 and a half minutes of what is a 3 minute song, as she laughs off a mistake by enforcing how long it’s been since she last played these songs. Had it been edited so the natter was included but on separate tracks, you could choose to either listen to the marathon session or edit down the musical meat into a CD-length compilation.
Imogen’s undeniable passion and musical talent still shine through with this pet project (again, just look at that artwork – for a digital only release!), it’s just a shame you have to sift through so much filler to get to the good stuff. It makes for a rollercoaster listening experience, most of which only thrills you on your first listen.
Tuesday, 19 January 2010
For the uninitiated, Antichrist in a paragraph-sized nutshell: Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg play a grieving couple dealing with the death of their young son. They retreat to a cabin in the woods of Eden to overcome their grief, but things take a dark and twisted turn for the horrific in this so-called paradise...
Featuring real – and seemingly unprotected* – sex between the stars (as well as a 'solo' performance by the clearly unashamed – or extremely well paid – Gainsbourg), graphic sexual violence, torture, genital mutilation (you'll be crossing your legs for hours after the credits roll, regardless of your gender), animal cruelty, and the aforementioned death of a toddler (the couple were too busy having sex to stop him falling out of a window), Antichrist is anything but a subtle portrayal of depression and mourning. To call it explicit is an understatement.
And yet, for such a boundary-bandying, taste-testing, decency-defying assault on your eyes, the film's purpose remains hidden away in a fox hole, its meaning overshadowed by an abundance of grotesque, unsettling and bewildering imagery. The film is a metaphorical onion you're too scared to peel the layers off of (yet you're still crying). This wouldn't normally be a problem, except taken at surface level, Antichrist is nothing more than nonsensical torture porn.
Blockbuster are gonna be pissed – it was a rental copy...
* I didn't pause it to investigate. Honest.
Monday, 18 January 2010
Friday, 15 January 2010
Picture the scene: you're at work/the pub/a picnic, nattering away the hours with colleagues/mates/some family whose al fresco luncheon you've just gatecrashed, when conversation inevitably turns to the weeks' TV. Invariably, no matter how clever/entertaining/cool the programme being dissected by this informal focus group is, some arrogant so-and-so will spew forth the hyperbolic claim: "I could write a better show than that". Well, I generally think to myself (when it isn't I who has made said claim), what the 'eck are you doing wasting your days in Morrisons/the Hungry Horse/this fly-infested field in the Lake District, mi laddo? Get back on your laptop and email this hallowed, mould-breaking script to the BBC, post haste!
The reason they are wasting their days in Morrisons/the Hungry Horse/this fly-infested field in the Lake District, 99.9999999999% of the time, is because they HAVEN'T written a hallowed, mould-breaking script at all (in fact, they don't even have a laptop), they were merely bragging to impress the girl in the bakery/the barmaid in the low-cut top/stop the father of the family from calling the police before they've finished their scotch egg. The other 0.00000000001% of the time they were drunk/drunk/drunk.
Tonight I watched the first episode of a new BBC sitcom called The Persuasionists, starring a throng of recognisable comics from recent TV projects (I won't name and shame them, but you can see them in the pic above). I went into the programme with high hopes, not only because of the cast, but because it had been advertised and hyped as one of the big new comedies of the new year. A sure-fire hit, surely?
29 minutes later I switched off the TV, shaking my head and powerless to stop my lips from uttering the cliched phrase: "I could write a better show than that". I wasn't even being immodest, I KNOW I could write a funnier comedy than that. I'd even go as far as to say I HAVE written a funnier comedy than that, but you'll have to take my word for that, for now (it is currently being judged in the Sitcom Mission competition).
The Persuasionists was cluttered with hideous, stereotypical, borderline racist characters who were totally untrue to life, doing stupid, outrageous, unfathomable things just because somebody with a low-brow sense of humour may giggle as a boss throws a bread bin at his failing underling, or a “foreign colleague” uses a giant pencil to seduce random girls by making a lot of poor taste cock jokes. Even the nicest/tamest/most boring character is a lazy no-hoper. How ironic that a comedy based around advertisers attempting to sell absolute tat to gullible saps, made such a fine mess of persuading me to give this shit-com another chance. Clearly some tat stinks worse than a quart of out-of-date cockney cheddar.
My question is this: WHO at the Beeb had the bright idea of not only resurrecting this 2-year-old dud from the annals of TV history (it first piloted in 2007, with Chris “A.J. Rimmer” Barrie on board; he was wise to jump ship), but also thought it worthy of a promotion from digital BBC Three to terrestrial BBC 2*?!! Was it the same genius who turned down the chance to screen a new series of Red Dwarf, but thought Big Top was comedy gold?
To quote the show for the first/last/only time: “Sort it aaaat!!!!!!!!!!” BBC! If I know I can do better than The Persuasionists, then surely YOU know you can do better than The Persuasionists?
Now, where's that scotch egg I was rudely prevented from finishing?
* I could make a biting joke about scum rising – given that the pilot was originally named The Scum Also Rises – but that would involve be going back over my blog and editing in that titbit of information. Can I be arsed? Does the fact you're reading a post script answer your question?
Wednesday, 13 January 2010
Two years later, she really wanted to name her daughter CR@B Apple, but Chris Martin objected, because he prefers Golden Delicious. The fool.
Halle was so Berry angry in 2002 that she tried to halt the Oscars telecast.Pity she didn't do the same when making Catwoman, hey?
So there you have it, folks. Proof if proof were needed that the stars are utterly mad for CR@B. Stay tuned to crabhoward.blogspot.com for the full rundown of contenders and winners of this years' CR@Bbies, coming soon. Hankies not provided, Halle.
* Probably because they don't exist, but shhhh - let Jack Black keep hunting, at least until he loses the urge to make Be Kind Rewind 2 (*shudder*).
Thursday, 7 January 2010
Sherlock Holmes (2009): The former Mr Madonna reinvents Baker Street's super-sleuth as a boxing, drug-addicted eccentric in a murky and washed-out industrial-era London on the build. Which is the ideal setting for a mystery so meticulously constructed it requires scaffolding (or, at least, slow-motion replays for explanation). Fun and imaginative, if a little mired in cults and black magic (thus nothing is what it seems - cue the slo-mo gimmick), it's just a pity Mark Strong is such a bland and unimposing villian as Lord Blackwood. ***
Wednesday, 6 January 2010
17. DARKNESS: Another absolute gem from the classic that is The Tension And The Spark, with the addition of a familiar drum-beat (I'd better not mention it was from "When Dove's Cry" or Prince will no doubt have my blog shut down... oh crap).
Tuesday, 5 January 2010
14. I WANT YOU: Producer/co-writer/instrumentalist/general all-rounder Mr. Justin Shave (pictured with Darren on the Time Machine Tour) was given a chance to shine - not that he was ever dull in his sparkly t-shirt and funky shades - with a head-mic, key-tar (which decade are we seeing in?! ;-b) and the honour of singing 'robo' backing vox in this "Tears Of Pearls/Violet" Mix. So technically a medley... kinda. Oh, who cares when the musak is this freakin' phunkay?!
Monday, 4 January 2010
6. BREAK ME, SHAKE ME: Darren played (gloveless) homage to his - and my - idol by singing this 1998 Savage Garden track to the music of... "BILLIE JEAN"!! When the bassline started, I couldn't believe my ears! I have always loved Darren's "Bow Down and Break Me" live arrangement (which sounds a lil' Doctor Who-inspired and incorporates Nine Inch Nails' "Head Like A Hole") but this "Billie Jean Mix" is giving it a run for its money!
7. UNLOVABLE: One of Darren's most personal and heartfelt tracks (again from Tension), and one of wismanthree's favourites, "Unlovable" always manages to sound even more raw and emotional when sung live (if that's possible), with the electronic tones echoing hauntingly in the background. A-mazing.
8. CRASH AND BURN: Another popular choice, this uplifting SG song from Affirmation (1999) is always a great live choice and bonding experience.
The next 3 songs were grouped as an "acoustic set", so this seems a fairly logical place to break, for now. Until Part #3...
Sunday, 3 January 2010
Sounds like a monstrously wicked horror, doesn't it? But here lies the root (yep, I used the same word to pun again; leaf me alone!!) of the problem: for all the recent advancements in CGI, Triffids on the move still look like a guy shuffling in a compost suit (and bring to mind a certain intentionally-shoddy Pleasure GELF from Red Dwarf. See picture, laugh), undoing all of the impressive work that went into the opening set-piece and making fools of the characters who are running from their stalk-ers. Scared? No, me neither. Disappointed? You betcha. Tickled? Like a naked guy in a chicken suit.
Don't hold your breath for a review of Part #2. Seriously, I'm no good at CPR.
Saturday, 2 January 2010
Accompanied by my best mate and fellow blogger wisemanthree, we set off for Vauxhall's Club Colosseum in our finest funky threads. It was a bit of a marathon (we set off at 2.30pm and didn't get home until nearly 5am New Years morning), but boy was it worth it. And not just because the first support act, the gorgeous Miss Polly Rae, stripped to a G-string and nipple tassels in her burlesque set!