Archive for December, 2011

Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), the only survivor of the space freighter Nostromo, is rescued and revived after drifting for fifty-seven years in stasis.  This is the rather eerie opening to 1986’s blockbuster ‘Aliens’.  It begins so serenely that you might be mistaken in thinking that the sequel was going to emulate it’s 1979 predecessor ‘Alien’, but you would be dead wrong.

At an interview before a panel of executives from her employer, the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, Ellen’s testimony regarding the Alien species is met with extreme skepticism as no physical evidence of the creature survived the destruction of the Nostromo spaceship from the previous film. Ripley loses her space flight license as a result of her “questionable judgment” and learns that LV-426, the planet where her crew first encountered the Alien eggs, is now home to a human colony.

The Weyland-Yutani corporation, only hinted at in the previous movie as “The Company” is the embodiment of corporate evil and greed and a very welcome addition to the Alien franchise.  The “Company” doesn’t let ethics, morals or even human life get in the way of it’s end game.

Ripley is visited by a Weyland-Yutani representative Carter Burke & a Lieutenant from the military.  They inform her that contact has been lost with the colony on LV-426. The company decides to dispatch Burke and a unit of marines to investigate, and offers to restore Ripley’s flight status and pick up her contract if she will accompany them as a consultant. Traumatized by her previous encounter with the Alien, Ripley initially refuses to join… But after company boy Burke tells her they’re only going to kill the Aliens (this is a lie), she agrees.

The group of Marines she goes with are a class act:  Sergeant Apone (he’s a douche), Corp Hicks (he’s a hero), Vasquez (She’s a scary ass supper tough female soldier), Hudson (bit of a joker, good with technology though) and rounding off the marines is an android called Bishop.  Ripley doesn’t like him much, given that the Android on the ship in Alien 1979 went a wee bit mental and tried to kill several people (I’d be suspicious of androids after that too).

This is where Aliens becomes so fucking amazing.  Gone are the genuinely scarey moments, an alien stalking the crew in the shadowy and claustrophobic atmosphere that the first film nailed so precisely.  All of that is replaced by a gung-ho set of marines, with big ass guns and a fairly bad attitude going in to blow the shit out of the Aliens.  And do you know what?  It is a fucking hoot!

So, the tooled up marines, and Ripley, head down to the human colony/alien planet, via this really cool spaceship, that prompts one of Hicks’ best lines in the movie (not spoiling it here, you’ll have to watch and see).  When they arrive, they find the colony abandoned (seemingly), but upon stumbling into the medical lab, they find two small Alien facehuggers stored in containment tanks (uh-oh, this can’t be good).  After a little pissing about, the marines work out where the colonists are.  Wouldn’t you know, they’ve been ‘captured’ by the Aliens and are being held by the nuclear reactor in the core. Shit!  That means they marines can’t use their big ass weapons, or there will be a melt down!

The Aliens attack, killing most of the Marines.  Ripley, who has been observing from outside, can see what is happening, and commandeers an attack vehicle and thunders into the complex and manages to save some of the marines.

Ripley discovers that it was Burke who ordered the colonists to investigate the derelict spaceship where the Nostromo crew first encountered the Alien eggs, and that he hopes to return Alien specimens to the company laboratories where he can profit from their use as biological weapons. She threatens to expose him, but Bishop soon informs the group of a greater threat: the damaged processing station has become unstable and will soon detonate with the force of a big nuke!   The android offers to save them, having to climb about a mile through a pipe (not a nice job)

Ripley and Newt fall asleep in the medical laboratory, awakening to find themselves locked in the room with the two facehuggers, which have been released from their tanks. Ripley is able to alert the marines, who rescue them and kill the creatures. Ripley accuses Burke of attempting to smuggle implanted Alien embryos past Earth’s quarantine inside her and Newt, and of planning to kill the rest of the marines in hypersleep during the return trip. The electricity is suddenly cut off and numerous Aliens attack through the ceiling. Hudson, Burke, Gorman, and Vasquez are killed while Newt is captured by the Aliens.

Ripley and Hicks get to the android, and are going to leave, but newt has been taken by an Alien.  So ripley tools up with a flame thrower and a pulse riffle and heads down to get her.  Killing a fair few Aliens on route she actually does! So, it’s back to the ship, and off into space to head home, phew… Hold on! Doh! One last Alien made it onto the spaceship! Shit!  Queue an epic battle involving something called a cargo loader in which Ripley spars toe to toe with the Alien queen, eventually getting the best of her and throwing her into space through an airlock

Ripley clambers to safety and she, Newt, Hicks and the still-functioning Bishop enter hypersleep for the return to Earth…

Something tells me they don’t make it home (that something is Alien 3).

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Glass of thunderbird anyone?

I’ve been doing some research and it turns out that Santa Claus wasn’t born in 250 AD in Patara (modern day Turkey).  No, as my shocking report reveals, he is actually a council worker from Inverness called Barry Mangball.  Mr Mangball was born in 1981 in Inverness to Parents Marina Mangball and Jonny Mangball.

I know what you are all thinking; how can he be Santa if he was born in 1981?  The answer Barry told me (over a couple of pints at the  “Lovely Goose Bar and Grill” in Downtown Inverness) is time travel.  “Time Travel”, I said, “Fuck me! Was it scary?” Santa said it wasn’t.

I don’t have all the details, but Barry said that after a heavy night on the sauce with his pal Wendy Lovelybum, he was walking home when a massive time machine fell out of the sky.  In his confusion he got inside and was accidentally thrown back in time to the year 159 ad.  Once he’d sobered up and realised where he was, he decided the only natural thing he could do was become Santa Claus.

Just how did he deliver presents to all those children in one night?

The answer is simple really, back in 159 AD, there we actually only 309 children* on the whole of the earth, and a lot of them stayed on the same street.

Ok, how did he did he do it in later years?

Again, really simple.  Barry said after 159 AD, he went forward in time by a period of 100 years and gave gifts out, and the repeated this until he got back to present day times.  He had to stop in 1859 though, because by this point there were over 709 people** he had to deliver presents to, and this time they stayed on over 4 streets!  An amazing feat indeed, but Santa new his time was up.  By the time he got back to present day, he would have had to have delivered to thousands*** of children, and that’s just not possible. Even with a time machine.

Origins of a name:

Barry Mangball comes from the old English Bizantium Mangballus, which in turn comes from the old Scottish ByDougal McMangball, which in turn comes from the Latin Bisicuit-is Mis-em-Mangball-dium, which is derived from the old Greek for:  Santa Claus.

So, there you have it.  My shocking expose has shown that lowly council worker (he works in benefits claims) Barry Mangball is in fact the real Santa.

Merry Christmas.

*309 is an estimate, may not be based on historical fact

**709 is an estimate, may not be based on historical fact

***Thousands is correct, I checked the math

Ok, so let’s take this from my perspective. I’m 29 at present.  I have been spending money on alcohol since I was 18, so that is 11 years.

18-21 years old:

Let’s say that during this hedonistic period that I went out 2-3 times at week.  During said nights out, you could easily spend £50 (drinks, taxi’s, chips & cheese etc etc).  So if we average that out, it is £150 per week.  Multiply that by 4 and it is £600 per month.  Multiply that by 12 and it’s £7,200.  Lastly, multiply that by 3, and during the period from 18 to 21 years old the average spend on booze/associated night out costs = £21.600!

21-29 years old:

Ah, the more responsible years of my life.  Lets say that in this period I went out even just once a week.  Again, that’s £50, x by 4 = £200 a month, x by 12 = £2400 per year.  Lastly, x that by 8 years and it comes to a whopping = £19,200!

So that’s a total average spend of £40,800!

Findings:

I could have literally bought this boat:

That's a nice boat.

And still have enough money left for a round the world cruise in it!

The Future:

I’m spending less money on alcohol. You can’t argue with the maths here.

Ok, so I’m on a bit of music theme right now.  I’ve been listening to lots of amazing tunes recently and I thought I’d share a compilation (or a mix tape as the world knows it) I did from back in the day.  I made what seemed like hundreds of these, this one I’m about to list, might not even be the best.

My friends and I used to make these tapes. Some just for ourselves whilst others were to share, it was a great way of hearing new tunes.  It was also a bit of an art, because recording onto a cassette is no easy job I can tell you.  All part of the fun though.

Anyway, here is my own mix tape, from circa December 1998, enjoy…  or not, whatever:

Track 1:

Artist: Placebo                                                   Track: Every Me and Every You

Track 2:

Artist: The Mighty Mighty Bosstones          Track: The Impression that I get

Track 3:

Artist: Radiohead                                                         Track: Creep

Track 4:

Artist: Republica                                                  Track: Drop Dead Gorgeous

Track 5:

Artist: Sonic Youth                                                    Track: Sunday

Track 6:

Artist: Ben Folds Five                                                Track: Song for the dumped

Track 7:

Artist: Deftones                                                          Track: Be quiet and drive

Track 8:

Artist: The Dandy Warhols                                     Track: Not if you were the last junkie on earth

Track 9:

Artist: REM                                                                 Track: Leave

Track 10:

Artist: Rage Against the Machine                        Track: Bulls on Parade

Track 11:

Artist: Ash                                                                  Track: Lose Control

Track 12:

Artist: Faithless                                                        Track: Insomnia

Track 13:

Artist: Bjork                                                               Track: Hyperballad

Bonus Track:

Artist: Unknown                                                      Track: You’ll just have to work it out

Well, there you have it.  One compilation tape out of hundreds.  They were fun.  Music’s easy now and that’s cool, but I do miss all this kind of stuff.

Ps That last track is fucking awesome! Don’t you agree?

If you like Music, you’ll love Portishead.  They’re described as being everything from “Experimental” to “Trip-hop” to “Ambient” and more besides.  I’m not even sure I know what half of that is.  Doesn’t matter, because they’re simply amazing, and that’s the only thing that matters.

HISTORY LESSON:

Back in 1997, Portishead perfomed a one off show with the New York Philharmonic orchestra at the Roseland Ballroom in New York.  The set featured the best songs from their first two albums, and in the live setting, every song is an improvement of the album version.

WHY IS IT SO GOOD?

Portishead on their albums were absolutely groundbreaking. We all know that.  But the emotion and depth of sound that literally pours out of every song is simply amazing.  Put simply, Portishead, and in particular Portishead when they play live, represent everything that was good about music in the 90’s.

A lot of live sets/recordings are often said to be “almost as good as the album recording” or  “as good as the album”.  That isn’t the case here.  Portishead in this live set, actually make the songs better.  They are 2 times better for the most part and on one or two occasions (Glory box and Roads in particular) they are over 4 times better*.

It’s also one of the only times in history that I’ve seen the lead singer of a band smoking on stage (during songs!).  I know smoking isn’t supposed to be cool.  But let’s be honest, smoking makes you at least 30% cooler. Portishead know that, it’s time you knew that too.

HIGHLIGHTS:

There are several.  But my favourites would have to be “Roads”, “Glory Box” and “Sour Times”.

SUMMARY:

Check this album out. Check it out now. Your life just might depend on it**.

*live recordings may or may not be 4 times better

**Your life will not depend on it.

Mellon Collie is the most epic album you will ever have the pleasure of listening to.  It has 28 tracks, and features an amazingly diverse range of music styles, writing and is just amazing.  Unlike the inferior ‘Siamese Dream’, Corgan and Co decided that they would make Mellon Collie the best possible album they could, no matter what.  For that reason, it doesn’t translate very well when played live (one track in particular has over 47 guitar tracks on it), but who cares, music should be the best it can be, who cares if you can’t play it live.  So, here is a track by track breakdown of this masterpiece and my own little mini review of each one.

Track 1 – “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness”

An instrumental piece, piano led.  Amazing piece of music and just beautiful.

Track 2 – “Tonight, tonight”

What a song.  From it’s sweeping, violin/guitar led melodies, to it’s amazing video (victorian spaceships and what not). My fav on the album.

Track 3 – “Jellybelly”

What a riff!  An absolutely ferocious rock song, with snarling lyrics and even more snarly guitars.

Track 4 – “Zero”

Classic.  Another banging riff, if you don’t want to break something in your house after listening to this, then well… you just didn’t get it I guess.

Track 5 – “Here is no why”

After the 2 previous full on riffs, this is a more contemplative rock song.  Still awesome.

Track 6 – “Bullet with butterfly wings”

Not the best song on the album actually. But even the pumpkins mediocre efforts are 12 times better than most other bands best effort. Classy tune.

Track 7 – “To Forgive”

Now we’re cooking.  A slow, folksy brooding song, showing just how innovative the pumpkins really were

Track 8 – “Fuck You (an ode to no one)

After a contemplative previous song, it’s back to the pumpkins banging best.  Another! Ferocious rock song, that shows a bit of the underated psychedelic-ness that the pumpkins can do so well

Track 9 – “Love”

This is what I mean! This is why they’re so good.  This is an electronic synth number, that practically doesn’t have a discernable guitar in it.  But do you know what?  It’s amazing too!

Track 10 – “Cupid de lock”

Such a pretty riff. Played acoustically (kind of) with a kind of string backing (kind of), just a really pretty song.

Track 11 – “Galapogos”

Wow. Another absolutely stunningly beautiful song.  Just listen to it and try not to be moved.

Track 12 – “Muzzle”

Cool little oldschool rock/riff extravaganza.

Track 13 – “Porcelina of the vast oceans”

Psychedelic – Tick. Big ass riff – Tick. Amazing amazing amazing lyrics – Tick.  This is my 2nd fav song on their disc. Soooooo good.

Track 14 – “Take me down”

A bit boring to be honest. James Iha is “responsible” for this effort. Still, as I’ve said, the pumpkins worst is better than most others best.

Track 15 – “Where boys fear to tread”

1 riff, the entire way through the song practically. If a riff is good enough, why play anything else. Again, truly awesome.

Track 16 – “Bodies”

For the uneducated, this sounds like a continuation of track 14, but it’s not.  It’s another amazingly pumpkin riff, angsty, firey, just plain fucking angry, and soo sooo soooo good, again!

Track 17 – “Thirty-Three”

Back to something more pretty again. Lovely riff. lovely song

Track 18 – “In the arms of sleep”

Ok tune. Kind of a western type feel (see what I mean, the amount of styles on this album is staggering!).  Good tune.

Track 19 – “1979”

Ok, it’s kind of poppy. But so what, pop means popular, and popular means people like it.  So, get it over it everyone.  1979 is a cracking wee tune.

Track 20 – “Tales of a scorched earth”

The heaviest (rock wise) song on the entire album. Not for the faint hearted. Great tune. If a little shouty.

Track 21 – “Through the eyes of ruby”

What a song! Amazing sweeping guitar riff, backed by an entire orchestra I think.  Ends with the most beautiful piano riff at the end.  3rd best song of the album.

Track 22 – “Stumbeline”

THis is ok, but as I’ve said, the pumpkins worst …

Track 23 – “X.Y.U”

“I am made of shamrocks, I am made of stern stuff, I am made of Shamrocks, I am made of STERN STUFF, MOTHERFUCKER!” What a tune!

Track 24 – “We only come out at night”

Possibly the worst song the smashing pumpkins have ever written. As I’ve said the pumpkins worst…

Track 25 – “Beautiful”

Sample of lyrics again “And I’m sure you know me well, as I’m sure you don’t, but you just can’t tell, who you’ll love and who you won’t”. So pretty, and D’arcy sings on it. She’s pretty too.

Track 26 – “Lily (my one and only)

More beauty.  Again, this is what I mean. This is ambient.  There is rock, ambient, electronic, psychedelic, fusion, funky, everything on this album!!!!!!

Track 27 – “By Starlight”

Electronic and guitary riff and amazing.  Corgan actually screams out the name of a girl he’s in love with half way through the track. So touching.

Track 28 – “Farewell and Goodnight”

Perfect end to the album. One drum (Literally). One guitar.  All four members take turns singing.  Lovely end to the best album in history.

So, there you have it.  The undisputed greatest album of all time. Better than thriller. Better than nevermind. Better than the wall. Better than dark side of the moon. Better than insides. Better than rubber soul. Better than revolver. Better than OK Computer. Better than anything else ever.  Because nothing can compare to the scope, epicness, level of detail, songwriting, album craft, skill, riffs, intensity, lyrics and passion of this record.

I love it.

There might be one or two disparaging remarks from those of you out there who perhaps don’t realise the quality of movie that Arnie (I can call him Arnie,we’re old friends) has produced in his career.

Yes, he’s had a few duds. I would sight Eraser, Terminator 3 and Twins as low points (actually Twins was kind of funny). But, the discerning fan will realise that when he gets it right, you are in for a cinematic treat my friend.
COMMANDO – 1985
What a movie! So many quotable lines. “I’m not gonna shot you between the eyes, I’m gonna shoot you between the balls!
Plot: John Matrix is a retired army officer, trying to live peacefully in the American countryside. That is until a corrupt foreign general, with the aid of a corrupt former colleague, kidnap his daughter in an attempt to blackmail him into assassinating a president of a central american country. Arnie doesn’t take this well to say the least. There is a drinking game that accompanies this film, and basically it’s that you take a drink every time Arnie kills someone (not recommending that game really, as the body count is in the hundreds).
PREDATOR – 1987
Arnie is in it. Jesse “the body” Ventura is in it. Carl (Apollo Creed) Weathers is in it.
Plot: An alien who hunts other species for sport lands on earth. Arnie and his black ops team are dispatched to the jungle to investigate. Cue plenty of carnage and one all mighty show down between Arnie and the big fuck off Predator. Classic movie.
THE RUNNING MAN – 1987
Ah, “The Running Man”. Saving the best for last. Richard Dawson as Damon Killian is an absolute revelation in this film. The scary thing about the running man, is that as absurd a plot as it is, the way reality tv is going, it’s becoming less and less far fetched as the years go by. Tell you something else, I really like the theme tune, I still hum it in my head from time to time.
Plot: Arnie works for the Government during a time of mass poverty and foot shortages. When he disobeys orders to kill food protesters, he’s framed for a crime he didn’t commit and ultimately imprisoned. Arnie escapes (of course) with the help of some new resistance friends… but it’s not long before he’s recaptured, and forced to take part in a brutal game show called “The Running Man”. Basically, it’s like a Gladiatorial contest where he and his fellow contestants have to get through a series of “Zones”. Each zone is guarded by a viscous modern day Gladiator. The trouble is, in this particular game, they play to the death…
So what are you waiting for? Go and watch an Arnie film. Go and do it now!