Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Review - "Doctor Who: Oswin's Big Break"

While the return of Clara Oswin Oswald was beyond obvious in both conceptualisation and execution, this latest episode of Doctor Who provided plenty enough evidence that being obvious isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Moreover, more evidence was provided towards the idea that Steven Moffat is clearly much more comfortable writing The Doctor than he is any of his companions. Amy centric episodes tended to weary in the middle, and Rory centric episodes wore off somewhere around the middle to settle back on Amy, so Christmas specials and their innate focus on The Doctor himself under Moffat makes a welcome change.

The character of Oswin, presented in this episode as the new companion, is worthy of a lot of attention. Practically every companion since Rose Tyler has been particularly loud, balshy and confident in order to fit the modern stereotype of women. None were more so than Amy Pond; a character with precious little purpose than to ask questions loudly and blatantly, to the Doctor’s face, that the audience are undoubtedly curious of.  In the vast majority of ways, Oswin continues to fit the mould of the modern woman, despite being introduced in Victorian Britain. Instantly, there are questions raised over whether or not she fits in that world and rightly so. She doesn’t. She’s a modern female stereotype amongst a world of the downtrodden service centre that was Victorian females.

The evolution of The Doctor as well is not intrinsically logical. Where is River Song will also be a question raised, though I am extremely glad to see exactly none of her personally. Firstly, it’s very different, and very welcome, to see The Doctor with friends who care about him, though I’d have rather not seen Sherlock Holmes compared with a Silurian woman. It just seemed rather pointless and unnecessary. That said, the Silurian, the Sontaran, and the Human are all pleasant characters who enhance the story and add their own personalities to it. The only real question is the reasoning behind the Sontaran’s presence.

A question raised in the story, probably another one raised purely to answer, is to the nature of The Doctor’s renewed apathy, but fans of the series are unlikely to wonder. Even so, it’s answered later on. This is an interesting, if expected part of the story. Unnecessary answers are given to questions only the characters ask, but a Christmas special is a very good opportunity to attract new fans, so it’s vital to the story. What matters most of that The Doctor’s innate character comes out in his sense of curiosity and his methods by which he masks himself. To live on a cloud is nothing short of genius.

The plot itself missed only a proper conclusion. A section at the end seemed rather tacked on, like the Arthur Conan Doyle discussion, to make up for time. It could have ended earlier, or at least had a more sensible victory section, but it was a momentary blip on an otherwise enjoyable performance by all comers. I’m looking forward to seeing more of Oswin, but I think everybody is looking forward to that.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Match Report - "15-12-12 Liverpool vs Aston Villa"

Lambert win the tactical battle on this one through a clear knowledge of Rodgers, Liverpool and, more importantly, Suarez.

The tactics for his defense were simple. When the ball was in Liverpool's half, Benteke and the midfield were very energetic, maintaining high pressure to worry Agger and, particularly, Skrtel. Skrtel did not have a good game against Benteke. Typically Skrtel does act as more of a Sweeper, but this time he was often left entirely exposed by Johnson and Agger.

In the Villa half, the Villa team sat deep in a 5-4-1, denying Gerrard and Suarez space between the lines due to the extra man at the back and forcing the ball wide, where Liverpool's wide men had no choice but to cross towards Suarez. This was tactically astute. Chelsea beat Barcelona in much the same way, knowing that a cross towards a quick, short dribbler is horribly ineffective.

Though unlikely to be tactical, Shelvey seemingly made a point of coming inside, getting into the same positions that Gerrard and Suarez were aiming for, but this hindered rather than helped. While Shelvey is a better header of the ball, it resulted in less space in the middle and Downing then had to cover the entire left flank. This left Skrtel even more exposed against Benteke when the ball broke quickly.

Halfway through the first half, Shelvey and Sterling were swapped over, which seemed a strange move to make for Rodgers. With the ball being played wide, Sterling was on his stronger foot to cross for Shelvey, who could head the ball. The other way around was never going to work, but perhaps this was an attempt to get Glen Johnson more involved in the game.

Defensively, Benteke ran Liverpool ragged, and the poor positional discipline of the Liverpool players resulted in a lot of frustration being added to this. For Benteke's first goal, Suarez had received the ball on the half way line, tried to break free by back hell dribbling, and lost the ball. After that, it broke quickly, Allen lost his man and Benteke put the ball past Reina from range. Reina was either unsighted or his knees buckled, but either way, he should have stopped that ball.

The second goal was remarkably similar. The ball goes in to Benteke, who drifts wide. Skrtel follows, while Agger tries to cut off the pass. At this point Allen is marking Weimann, but sees Downing overlapping Skrtel into the middle and decides to let his man go. Once again, the man Allen loses is the one who scores.

This, quite simply, was a goal conceded through fear from Martin Skrtel. If he had let Downing take over marking Benteke, he could have easily been into position to stop the pass, but he had clearly been instructed, as a tall, physical defender, to stick to the tall, physical striker. It didn't work out. Allen loses his man, and the rest is a very smart finish.

The third goal once again features fear from Martin Skrtel, only this time he was terrified of making a tackle. Benteke got into his head good and proper.

Where did Liverpool go wrong? Well there are many small ways. Johnson was too obvious. Sterling as well. Both tried to go wide and cross to nobody, or jinked inside and passed safe. Downing was much more inventive, and was the best player Liverpool had on the pitch by far. Lucas was never sure whether to get on Benteke or not, and Allen was peripheral in attack and absent in defence. Gerrard, once again, proved a shadow of his former self. The presence of Henderson, a late second half sub for the still recovering Lucas, worked in Liverpool's favour, given that he and Allen then started to hold in tandem, limiting space for Benteke and providing Skrtel with some actual support, but it was far too late.

Liverpool dominated the match, but were forced into taking half chances due to excellent defending and goalkeeper positioning. When the ball went the other way, their midfield abandoned the defence, and Shelvey in particular offered nothing to the Liverpool cause. Overall though, Rodgers made some poor choices, particularly bringing on Joe Cole to offer width when what they needed was speed down the middle to try and catch the Villa defence off guard. Lambert won the tactical match-up this time, and the win, in the end, was well deserved.

Monday, 12 November 2012

OP - "Equality Versus Authority"

It’s funny that, so soon after Cameron declared a nonexistent link between paedophilia and homosexuality, paedophilia is once again at the forefront of the media. The Jimmy Savile investigation, encouraging the examination of just how common abuse of power is from popular media figures, has pointed a spotlight directly on to those that were previously untouchable. However, the witch hunt has clearly begun, with the BBC’s Newsnight getting it very wrong in some of the accusations they have been throwing out.

It’s all blown up in a way that nobody quite predicted. Yet another BBC boss has resigned over their truly inept standards of journalism, there’s a whole building of abuse stories somewhere in Wales and, of course, people seem no closer to a sure answer on just what Jimmy Savile is guilty of, given that new things keep popping up over the course of the investigation.

Could we be on the way to true equality? Will the punishment for your average Joe finally start matching up with that of the figure of authority that is somebody known by a fair chunk of people?

No. Of course not.

Cameron is still permitted to accuse homosexuals of a paedophilic tilt. George Entwistle, former head of the BBC, is still being given £450,000 severance and, without a moment of doubt I can safely say that far more people in popular media are surviving without quaking in their boots at the thought of being caught out for any of the things that they might have done.

Reports are still made about women in the media suffering from all kinds of sexual harassment, and those are the ones who didn’t choose to put out in order to advance in whatever company they’re in. People are still killed for that most grievous of sins: being different. Black? Gay? Democratic?

Equality is a long, long way away. I don’t think I’ll ever see it. But maybe, before I die, women will accept that we pick the seat up, so they should put it down. That’s equality.

Friday, 9 November 2012

OP - "200m That India Didn't Need"

I suspect I'm not the only person in the world who had no idea that the UK was still offering foreign aid to India, accounting for 200m of our budget until 2015. (recently reduced from 280m) This is a substantial figure, and it's admirable that Britain should offer countries in need the necessary funding to stay afloat in times of need.

Like Greece.

And Spain.

And Portugal.

But wait a second; India?

India can afford their own space program. Their economic wealth is well on the way to eclipsing ours. Why were we still giving them money? Sure, I can understand the concept when it first started, when India was suffering under lack of export capability and a lack of interest in their national heritage, but things have moved on now. Pranab Mukherjee, current Indian President, referred to the money as "peanuts" for god's sake. It means nothing to them.

I can't be the only person glad to hear that it's ending. Our country doesn't seem to put any focus on self-preservation, and we're suffering massively on being too nice for our own good. Want to survive for free? Come to the UK. We are the proverbial nice guy that finishes last, or so it seems to me.

It's time we learned to look after ourselves a little better. This is a perfect example of a balance attempting to restore itself. Where's my space program? I want to go to Jupiter.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

OP - "Cameron On Gays And Children"

This morning, on 'This Morning', British Prime Minister David Cameron had a bit of a horror moment. To be fair, I should say that he added another horror moment to what is already something of a fierce list of personal and political faux pas'. Cameron's time as Prime Minister has been far from cheerful; however, this particular point takes the piss.

Due in part to the open and somewhat aggressive stance that British Journalism has always thankfully taken towards politics, the Prime Minister was put on the spot when offered an internet compiled list of people in the major political parties suspected of being paedophiles - past or present - in power or shadow. This list, due to some terrible television production quality, was briefly revealed on air, but this isn't really about that.

Cameron's first response was admirable. He refused to be drawn into the argument. After all, the people on those lists are people first and foremost, and a person can be destroyed by an accusation that they are a paedophile, whether they are or not. With no evidence, and the people in question accused by people who have not revealed their names, it is a massive risk to start accusing people.

The problem, shortly afterwards, was Cameron's insistence of why he wasn't being drawn into the argument. Avoiding a witch hunt is right. Nobody has the right to accuse another of something so serious without evidence, especially when you consider the nature of mob rule. Nevertheless, claiming that homosexual party members would be at greater risk than other party members was one of the most singularly stupid things anybody can do. This is the guy in charge of our country.

There's no gentle way to put the inference. Cameron is politely stating that homosexuals are more likely to be paedophiles. Whether this is backed up by statistics are not is unimportant. It's like blaming jews for the Holocaust because they were so easy to hate; stupid to say, diseasing to think and entirely missing the point.

I am yet to come up with any possible reasons that he might have come up with something so unnecessary. Does Cameron think that young boys obviously want it? Did he see the list and recognise people who were gay, trapping the word on his tongue? Will he do the decent thing and apologise to the gay community for implying that paedophilia is part of their being?

Whatever the reason, the last thing anybody should be doing, regardless of intent or political position, is saying something intensely derogatory without clear backing in fact, especially when there is absolutely no reason to say it. Sexual orientation was not part of the conversation. It was not subtly woven into the question, or on the mind of everybody in the audience.

Paedophilia doesn't always involve penis Mr. Cameron. Think before you foot in mouth.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Review - "First Review Of Muse's The 2nd Law"

The 2nd Law, Muse's latest attempt at a musical masterpiece to wet the appetite of anybody who seems to enjoy their perspective on life, is difficult to put into words, and even harder to define. If pushed, I would say that it resembles being asked to apply toppings to a pizza, and being given 12,000 plastic robot soldiers to do it with.

What the hell am I supposed to do with this? I am lost beyond words right now.

The name comes from the second law of thermodynamics. Particularly, the classical variation based on the Shannon entropy. It's a complex metaphor to choose, but it's one that Muse seem to largely ignore until the later tracks on the surface of things.

Broken down into simple terms though, the metaphor is this. Too much of the same thing is not helpful in the long term. Change is necessary.

The opening track, Supremacy, speaks of older Muse. The bass line is heavy and strong, Bellamy's lyrics speak of competing - taking down the big guns in a way that echoes The Resistance. It is a strong, militant track, bearing such challenging lyrics as "the time it has come to destroy your Supremacy." To open with such a blatantly defiant track speaks volumes about the way Muse want this album to be perceived.

It also ends with a western echo, similar to Knights Of Cydonia, presenting quite a nice throwback to old Muse.

And then, abruptly, that all changes, and we are presenting with the aptly named Madness. This is not rock and roll, but is a Queen-esque little love song. The repetitive drone in the background starts out quite annoying, and some are bound to find it so the whole way through, but the layers of the track are such that it soon fades into the background. The beat is obvious, making this quite a nice, calm song to do a bit of a dance to.

This is also the first track to really show how deeply this album appeals to the robot. I could do the robot to most of these tracks, and so could you, I'm sure.

The solo displays the Queen influence again, but it is in the final section that Bellamy seeks to make the Muse mark on it.

The third song is called Panic Station. Again, the beat comes in strong from the off, and the lyrical echo, which becomes a feature of this album, begins. This song actually belies the title completely. It's about taking ownership of yourself and your choices by choosing to act in your own way. It's about doing things that might seem chaotic or strange to the people around you. It's about being you, and how other people seem to panic when people are real.

It's at this point that a bit of an underlying message begins to emerge. Muse are talking about doing what they want to do, and how other people can have a negative take on this. I actually really like this track, and have already danced a bit of salsa to it. Oh, and the robot, of course.

Seriously, this whole album begs for the robot.

Now, Prelude is a strange one. It works similarly to the interval in Absolution. It's a little taster of what might come in the future; Unsustainable in particular. The music is quite beautiful - relaxed but with a building tension, and then it vanishes much like it came.

We're left then with Survival, a track within which are layers upon layers of vocals, acting as instruments to suit the piano, drums and bass. The main lyrics themselves also build in the same way. The lyrics are once again about competing; refusing to be beaten by anything, even with no other target in sight.

Old Muse make a cameo in the chorus, a strong, guitar driven blast in which Bellamy really lets go with both his vocals and his guitar work. This is a driving, ambitious track that is difficult to take seriously upon first hearing, but soon takes hold of you as the beat of a war march.

A special shout out has to go to the brutal competing sections at the end of the track, in which the instruments literally do battle to the death. It's the sort of thing Death Metal guitarists would be blissfully proud of, and it's in a Muse song.

The promised change in style, and input from many different genres was very obviously not a myth. Muse are extremely different in each and every track, making this album appealing to many different people in some parts and unappealing to those same people in others. There aren't many artists out there who dare to do such a project, and Muse's attempts to rejuvenate, alluded to in Panic Station, Supremacy and Survival, are clear in the music.

Follow Me starts with an odd sound, sampled from the heartbeat of Matt Bellamy's son before he was born. It's an obvious tribute to fatherhood, and something that Bellamy will be able to play for his son in later years. It's about protecting those you love, guiding them, and inspiring them to do as you did in life.

Bellamy must be fairly happy nowadays. New Born and tracks of that ilk were violent, angry pieces of music, whereas this album is full of optimistic, major scale works. Follow Me could be played in any dance club, and perhaps that's the intention. It's a dance track, with another loud, sustained beat driving it.

That said, it plays out quite confusingly after talking about change, revolt and evolution that he would suggest that anybody follow anybody else, as this is the exact opposite of everything that Muse have always been about. It's interesting when you think about how Matt Bellamy might react when his son does begin his natural teenage rebellious phase and does exactly what Bellamy has always tried to do himself.

Or maybe that's what should be followed. This one's actually a little deeper than it seems on the surface.

We move on then to Animals. Capturing human nature is difficult to do in song, especially in something that starts off beat heavy and distinctly soft-rock. Muse use this song to compare the modern society-inspired man to the animalistic neanderthal of bygone ages. The comparison is actually quite a strong one, but the song is a bit too obviously structured and basis to truly echo the lyrics.

Once again, old Muse make a slight cameo with the later sections of this song. After returning to the theme about competition with lines such as "kill the competition" - a truly basic human instinct - their is a build, and then that collapses all too easily, before going right back to where it started.

And then it really builds up, and we hear the sounds of angry voices. Could this one be inspired by the riots? Could it be something about just how advanced people thing they have gotten, but in truth, nothing really changes?

There are lots of ideas, but it's a lovely blatant track, with not much hidden from plain view. I like that.

Explorers is almost like a lullaby; soothing and relaxing, and yet truly bipolar. While being calmed, you are told not to give in, and also told that "there's nothing left, for you or for me". Explorers certainly suggests that more can be found by those that truly look for it, and yet asks repeatedly to be freed from a mistake made.

This is another one suggestive of the evolution of the band, and how it should be taken as an exploration of what they might become in the future, while also perhaps challenging the flippancy of modern society. To dispose of technology, food and friends is fairly commonplace in the digital age.

Explorers never really picks it. It remains calming throughout and the idea of being released from some bondage is repeatedly constantly.

Likely the most rock song on the album after Supremacy is Big Freeze, which, though sticking with the themes set out in the album, leans back an album in much the same way that Starlight was more suggestive of Absolution. That said, it is once again contradictory with the rest of the album. It speaks of being beaten: "I lost before I started". Ultimately, the theme most obvious is that, once again, of being rescued by another person.

The idea of the big freeze is, at its most basic, to keep things as they were, and that's rather blatantly where the lyrics go.

The lyrical echo returns in strength, and the guitar work is more reminiscent of artists such as All-American Rejects. It once again kicks in in the chorus, bringing in layered vocals and a strange sort of intimacy. Intimate is likely a good word to describe this one.

Chris Wolstenholme, primarily the bassist for Muse, has two tracks, one after the other, on this album. Save Me is the first, and once again continues the theme of being rescued, and two word sentences ending in 'me'. It's another somewhat laid back song, as if the artist in question had low expectations, but in the same way it's suggestive of a cry of desperation, or somebody who has given up already. Largely led by melodic guitar, Save Me offers little new, but helps to clarify the themes already presented. Wolstenholme's vocal contribution is, far from being just acceptable, perfectly suitable for the song, and a large part of the affect is that Bellamy isn't singing it.

It helps to create a unity, and knit the album together. It's another lullaby; the calm before the storm, as it were. It's almost unobtrusive; asking for as little as possible.

The second of these tracks is the distinctly old Muse Liquid State; featuring a driving bass line, energy vocals about getting rather brutally tortured by the rigours of life and the people within it. The sad thing is that it doesn't really go anywhere. Neither Save Me or Liquid State really evolve towards anything, but rather make a statement and then abandon it. It's yet another song requesting a rescue.

It definitely makes me wonder why there's so much defiance, followed by so much defeatism on this album. Starting on such a high, The 2nd Law openly descends into darker matters as things go on, accepting that it is the purpose of life to challenge and, depending on where you are in the album, lose or win.

And this is where old Muse dies. For track 12, we are treating to a tense orchestral opening, reminiscent of the old symphonies; startling in both simplicity and beauty. A female voice confirms the details of The 2nd Law of thermodynamics for those that don't know, but does so in a stutter, constantly stopping and starting and repeating herself in order to keep time. It's distracting, and quite upsetting.

And then it goes into orchestral techno. Unsustainable is a look at how the world, the global economy and life in itself can not exist within change and evolution. This is actually a good way to say this, with so complete a change demonstrating that Muse are extremely different now from how they used to be.

This is an ideal track for a dance or trance club, something that you could never say about Muse before. If this is the direction that Muse will be taking in the future, a lot of people will be switching off, but a lot of the themes suddenly make sense. The challenge has been put out there. They've considered both sides of victory and defeat and you are invited to make your choice and choose the next step.

Their argument is equal parts compelling and divisive.

Isolated System, a reference once again to The 2nd Law, closes things out. This is a mention of that system which, within, things do not change. I reserve a special shout for a line that sounded suspiciously like "beef o'clock" and make me think I was about to hear a musical documentary on kebabs.

Isolated System presents a mirror to the world. It drives the eye towards our own society and our own collapsing economy. It's a slow paced, rarely variant song filled with debates and voices.

And it ends as it began, closing out an album that started with a bang by offering only a slow whimper. The idea, surely, is to make you think about it.

What to make of the album overall is difficult. Muse have certainly evolved, changing almost entirely from the rock outfit that made them one of the most popular bands in the world. Perhaps, in gaining age, they have simply mellowed. There are many potential reasons. The biggest question will be the reaction of the fans, and judging by many of the themes in this album, that's a question that Muse have chosen to raise themselves.

So what do you think? Personally, I find it hit and miss. Panic Station will go with me wherever I go, but I will be skipping both of the final tracks and the rest will depend on mood.

In the same way that Dethklok once made an album for fish, Muse have put together a piece of art for all the robots out there. In an increasingly AI driven world, where the built-in brains of a computer game are smarter than any human, that's quite a clever move if you ask me.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Review - "Doctor Who: The Asylum Of The Daleks"

So overall, I'm quite the fan of the latest episode of Doctor Who. That said, there were a few things that impressed more than others and a few things were a little disappointing. So let's delve in.

Going through the episode, I've got to say that we've reached a point of being the literal opposite of the original Doctor Who. The production quality has now gone so high that we're pretty much looking at a high class film version of Doctor Who, with multiple explosions, particularly placed shadows and loud and overpowering music. It lined upself up nicely, arranging a fairly obvious trap, walking you into a big plot point that's already been revealed and is pretty in a sort of big action movie sort of way. There were a couple of small areas that could have done with a rethink. For example, Amy was bathed in a light before being kidnapped. Where was that light coming from exactly? The Dalek's eye is blue.

There are some odd quirks as well, mostly concerning the Daleks. For one think, they have a parliament and a Prime Minister. Now, that would be fine if the Doctor had labelled them as such, but the Prime Minister is referred to by one of his items as such. Why exactly are the Daleks English? The new Daleks from Victory Of The Daleks, that had previously destroyed the older models due to them being outdated, now lived with them in harmony, and were in the Asylum, despite being created afterwards.

Running with the big screen theme is the use of particular colours. For example, the black man in a white coat on a back drop of snow being the one blip on an otherwise blanket landscape. In the same way, Rory's watch was the only colour when he first encountered the Daleks. I did raise the question of why a craft called the Alaska has crashed in a place that looked like Alaska, but was undoubtedly actually a quarry in Wales. Of course, neither Amy nor The Doctor seemed cold at all, which is odd, isn't it?

And keeping to Rory, 'what colour?' is a damned good question, as the whites are Supreme, the reds are Drone, et cetera.

There are a couple of moments where The Doctor and The Daleks seem to forget their history. This could be something of a foreshadowing though, given. The 'Oncoming Storm' tag vanished, for a brand new 'Predator' line, then returned at the end. He referred to holding on to scared because Daleks weren't scared, but they evidently were, and he took no pleasure in this ideal. He actually needed his screwdriver to tell if rotting corpses were dead, but then again, said rotting corpses were somehow able to stand up and walk around, even though their muscles wouldn't be even nearly capable of such.

The Amy and Rory arc, I must admit, was kind of tacked on. Amy seemed to relive her time transforming into an angel rather than have anything unique to experience, and the new companion was similar to the original Amy Pond in her style and character, as well as dress sense, shoes in particular. It continues to raise the point that Rory alone is not enough for Amy, as once again she needed The Doctor in order to make her happy. Rory had an action moment, sliding under a door that was opening on a floor where nobody could possibly slide. Otherwise, they were kind of filling time. Everybody already knows that they're leaving, and maybe they should accept that.

Coming to the final plot twist, it was coming, and some could likely spot it, but I found it wonderful that they not only connected said genius, but placed it in the most padded of cells. All of the other Daleks were mad, and for some reason The Daleks, with their love of destroying anything faulty or defective let them live, but this particular one was entirely mental. The ones outside the door had been named, like the Cult of Skaro, but had their guns removed as punishment. To see The Doctor but be unable to kill him, harsh.

But one thing remained overall, and this is something that needed to be rectified. The Doctor was placed back into the main scene as the star of the show. His companion of sorts, Oswin, was his second, and effectively stole the show from everybody but him. This is how Doctor Who should be. The Doctor first, his companion second, River Song somewhere behind them instead of above them all.

I'm actually looking forward to more, and pretty much fine with the due to be disappearance of Amy and Rory.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Blog - "Three Shoes"

As strange a start as I can think of to a dream is one that starts at the end, then rolls backwards to the beginning. It's odd.

To go from the beginning, or chapter two as I've come to think of it, we begin with me following a friend of mine - I won't name names but she does have red hair - through what seemed to be an open air tunnel or some sort of concrete trench. There were search lights out, but they weren't looking for her; they were looking for me. I was following her somewhere safe. Why I was being looked for, I'll never know.

We got to where we were going, which, to my surprise, was my flat. During this point, she kind of turned on me, saying that this guy she was sleeping with wanted to talk to me, and was coming to me as we spoke to ensure that I didn't escape. Usually, this would mean nothing to me, as I'm not particularly enamoured of this girl, and have no fear of anyone she might decide to put out with. Somehow though, I ended up terrified, ended up shoving on my shoes the wrong way around, sticking an extra shoe, the right way, on my left room, and trying to flee from the room.

This is where said dream gets utterly stupid. Right outside my door was Kenny Dalglish, Liverpool F.C. Manager, and one of his players, Lucas Leiva. They showed their disappointment in me, for some reason.

At this point we skip forward, because the dream did, to my escape, months later. I don't know how I escaped, but I know that I blamed the man on the floor below me for not bothering to help. As he put it "I didn't know they could do torture like that with machines". Lovely. I run out into the street to get some distance between myself and the building, stopping to lay down in the dark two streets away and finally, after months, change my shoes.

As I was laying there, I was passed by my original female oppressor, with two more women coming with her. For some reason, I raised my arm as if lifting something, and became invisible to them. As they passed, I became aware that it was all my Mother's fault.

I also dreamt that an episode of The Office was being filmed in my office. Not sure which is weirder.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Blog - "Brainstorming Outside The Bubble"

With the Graphic Designer I want being ever elusive, the reality of the amount of work ahead of me is beginning to close in, and the whole money thing is starting to pop up. This is problematic. I've always called money The Universal Motivator due to it being the only thing in the world that can make anybody do something for you. I don't mean have sex with your french baguette or anything stupid like that either; I mean actually do what they call their career for yourself.

Thing is, I'm doing all these for some money myself. I don't have all that much.

With the completion of Dejá Vu just two weeks away, I've been stepping up the game for my ad campaign recently. I've done a lot of work towards it, as has my associate, a Mr. Richard Norfolk, local to me and greatly experienced in the area. We have a lot of ideas, some clever tricks and plans, and yes, I've had to part with some cash. I really wouldn't want to have to lose something close to £400 for one A4 bloody poster, especially when I'll be intentionally advertising said poster, and thus their work, to every single person I possibly can.

This thing is proving to be more trouble than it's worth so far. I'm nervous about it all, and I'm nowhere near close enough to feel near done.

Thankfully, help is at hand in the marketing arena. Mr. Norfolk and I have already started to design what we hope will be a unique and interesting advertising experience for all involved. It's taken a lot of brainstorming, and a lot of paper has been carelessly discarded in the name of work. Brainstorming has never been so fun, and involved fewer bubbles. I've never been a fan of the whole brainstorm around a bubble thing. I don't want a million options; I want one concerted plan.

Now I've got something of a plan formed, I'm suddenly feeling much better about everything. Life doesn't seem so scary, and finishing the book becomes much easier.

Though there's still going to be plenty of money changing hands. A shame, but hopefully, for £1 a novel, people are still going to do that buying thing.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Short - "Lost In Translation"

There have been many odd days for the world of global news, but today just about takes the biscuit.

With the word of war constantly being mentioned on both sides over the Falkland Islands, the British government is said to have taken an envoy of peace to new Argentinian Minister Carlos Savella. Savella, new to the world of Politics, and with very little English to his understanding, issued a statement shortly afterwards. Argentina declared: "Give us the Falkland Islands or we will launch a massive nuclear attack on your tiny country and bum your women."

Greatly concerned by this news, the United Kingdom called on allies in America, India, Russia and China in order to gather the necessary numbers to deter any potential nuclear strike. Aware that any action on their part would result in millions of lives lost from their own people, Argentina put out an immediate response: "I don't care, Hippos," they are reported as saying in a press release aimed at Downing Street. "Hump some cheese."

Uganda, in a surprise comment, chose to join the fray with: "Argentina, you so gay. Terrorism start at home."

With the world on the brink of nuclear war, resistance fighters in Argentina have reported to the world authorities that they have bombed the home of Carlos Savella, and greatly apologise for any issues raised. Unfortunately, this was action taken too late, as a dozen 12kt nuclear warheads had already been launched.

In other, unrelated news, popular Interpreter Ulrik Mastev Regent, formerly in the employment of the governments of both Argentina and Uganda, was arrested today.

"Suck my Cow, space monkeys!" he instructed as he was being handcuffed. "Donkey wallets."

Rumours suggest that the world has finally gone mad. The Pope was unavailable for comment.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Blog - "Villainous Scourge"

I finally got around to reading that Neil Gaiman book I was given: Neverwhere, and I was struck by a very simple realisation. While reading, I found myself much more interested in the activities of the bad guys, compared to the activities of the heroes. I do love a good heel.

There are two main villains in the piece, who I will refer to as Mr. C. and Mr. V. Being as big a fan of the bad guy as I am, I likely analysed them more than I would typically analyse. This is usual practice for any writer reading a book. Every phrase or interaction potentially holds a lesson of large import. With the bad guys, this is essential because a poor connection between villains is something that can bring a good tale to an abrupt end.

You see, heroes usually have their connection with their friends as their particular strength that puts them above the bad guys. By comparison, your evil, vile henchman or genius is either on their own or working for someone who is intentionally on their own. It's all very obvious and formulaic. A good bad guy has to be unique in the way in which they threaten. Intelligence, such as Smith from The Matrix, connections, such as Blofeld from the Bond films, or wealth and fame, such as Gideon of Scott Pilgrim, can keep things interesting.

The job for any writer is just to keep things interesting, and to thus try and be unique. In this, Gaiman does even better than expected, though his secondary heroes suffer slightly for it. Mr. C. and Mr. V. are masterful. Of these, I would love to read so much more.

I've spent a lot of time developing my villains, trying to make them unique and engaging. To be honest, I've worked harder on them than I have my good guys. I can only hope that Victor, Robin Harris or Charles Crowe can be the same.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Blog - "The Wembley Dream"

Last night, to my surprise, I dreamt of Wembley. This, for me, is rather strange.

It began with four friends pledging their determination to meet each other there, at the very home of football, and turned into a massive advanture. We only had tickets for the Carling Cup, which has been and gone, but somehow, we were going to find a way to the FA Cup final, to watch Liverpool.

I should point out that I'm nowhere near as football mad as this suggests, but there you have it.

My adventure started with a lift into London with Steven Gerrard; always a good start when you're off to watch the club he Captains, but there was an accident on the road in, damaging his chances of playing, and leaving me stranded and lost in London.

I arrived in an arcade and was met by two people. Ricky, my best friend in real life - who can't stand football - and a cute teenage lesbian, who actually turned out to be twenty-four, and smoked.

Together, we had to slip through the back of a Chinese restaurant, which resulted in me being chased by knife wielding maniacs.

At this point I woke up, realised I didn't need to, and promptly went back to sleep, where the dream had moved on without me.

The three of us encountered two more friends of mine next: two youth workers named Brian and Jim. They were at a hotel nearby for reasons unknown, and convinced me to take up an awesome little suite for myself and my friends. It was an incredible place, rising in layers to the beds at the top.

Before my journey continued I encountered a girl I met one time at a music festival, famed for wearing custom made shorts so short you could see she wasn't wearing anything underneath. You could see everything underneath. She somehow found my hotel room, attempted to seduce me and was rebuffed.

This made me ask questions of my lesbian friend. She had apparently turned lesbian after poor relationships and men in her teens constantly demanding that she give it up, when she didn't want to. In fact, she'd never engaged in lesbianism, but used it as a cover. There was some pleasant enough kissing to follow, though she had a bit of a dry mouth.

That night would be the last at the hotel, and I watched as Miss Short Shorts went for Jim using exactly the same method as she went for me. He decided to go for it, so I slipped him a condom and went on to do my former lesbian in the bed upstairs, but still in that room.

The next day, leaving them all behind to come back to later, I walked to Wembley and, when there, let out a big cheer that caught the attention of first two, and then the third friend I had promised to meet. Curiously enough, we were all wearing Manchester City shirts.

The dream ended there, without any football taking place whatsoever.

Maybe I am football crazy.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Blog - "Going Digital"

For a while now, I've been working with a friend of mine from UG called Andrew Apanov. Some of you may have spotted a link to his website on my Facebook page. Now, having left UG, he's decided to move on with some of his own projects and continue his development with his own blog and music marketing website: Dotted Music.

The work I've been doing has been directly relative for him. While he's been builting his marketing website, different to his blog, he's been asking me to develop the copy for it, despite having a decent run of writers working directly with him to create new and imaginative content for the blog. You see, there's only so much you can say about marketing. When you add in the limitation of marketing for the music business, is swiftly becomes very difficult to write anything for a prolonged period of time. I did one series and then happily called it quits, but he keeps enticing me.

The copy in question was, in my mind, some of the best I've done. It's simple. It's enticing without being overly self-flattering. I just thought I'd lay some out, since it is my work, and I gladly don't take any credit for it on the website, much like the copy for the Widgets on the main page of UG.

"Websites & Design

Having a centralised hub where your fans and the big names can connect may facilitate development as an artist, but attracting people in their droves is a greater challenge. Dotted Music creates a genuine experience for each fan every time they log on. Yet we're not here to tell you what to do; we're here to enhance your image while respecting your own unique identity. It's still your show; we're here to make it even better."

"Digital Marketing

At Dotted Music, we provide the platform, the launch pad from which you can spring. Our time-honed repertoire of services includes D2F, Press Releases, Websites, and Social Media . We have the connections and expertise needed to put your name right into the public eye, and the creativity to do so in a truly unique matter each and every time. We're living in the Digital Age, and we want to help you digitize."

"Online Management

Hosting for your website, server maintenance, streaming, ensuring your profile is a regular fix on social networking tools, and encoding your media to keep it safe while maintaining its availability for broadcast are just some of the wide-ranging services Dotted Music offers. With a focus on swift management techniques, we carefully balance your short and long term goals. We provide the platform, you achieve results."

And, of course, my personal favourite, pertaining directly to my job:

"Website Copywriting

A catchy line, a neat piece of prose, or something just a little personal can make the world of difference. When you’re Googled, it’s vital that you’re presented professionally but realistically – often a difficult fence to straddle. Introductions, biographies, news posts, and reviews are just some of the services we include in this package. Our copywriting approach blends poignant prose with an objective eye, ensuring you strike a strong first impression."

I love taking the piss.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Blog - "Neil Gaiman"

One of the perils of being a writer is that you lose pretty much all interest in being the kind of avid reader you used to be. In fact, working with words so often, you start to despise them more than anything in the world. Even now, doing it the lazy way in a Notepad file on my laptop, I can feel the bile rising in the back of my throat. While this isn't necessarily a bad thing, it does present you with something of a major disappointment as time goes by. I recently re-purchased a Robin Hobb trilogy after my original copies vanished to Mexico with girlie one, and I simply haven't gotten around to picking them up yet.

One writer for which I'm attempting to reverse this lamentable situation is Neil Gaiman, under the prompting of numerous brain cells; some of which are my own.

Neil (why bother with formalities) first came to my attention as a person of interest within the realms of Doctor Who, where his episode, featuring the TARDIS essence being transferred into a living being, made mockery of Moffat's entire series, and did so with an almost casual fatalistic streak. The episode was impressive, though it could certainly have been acted better in whatever vocal coaching was given to the Doctor's nemesis during some of the scenes. As I was already interested, I decided to be slightly more interested, and thus dug a little deeper.

The Doctor Who Confidential episode provided me with what I wanted. In this, Neil read his own work, exploring the set and, like the storyteller he evidently wished to display himself as, we were treated to his own vision of the episode. I well recall reviewing the episode at the time and giving it a thoroughly glowing report, even before I knew anything of the artist himself.

I made a point of watching the film 'Stardust' recently, with no idea that it was based on a Neil Gaiman novel. Admittedly, the recurrent 'inanimate object into person' theme raised a suspicion, but only the one. I found it thoroughly enjoyable, except, of course, the sections wherein Ricky Gervais opened his mouth. Consuming the special features, as I like to do, I then started to pick up on mentions of the writer. I enjoyed most hearing about the differences he didn't approve of.

I've been given a Neil Gaiman book called Neverwhere to indulge in. Here, of course, we encounter the problem. When I have time to read, reading is never in the forefront of my mind. With a film, I'm sitting down after work, I can write while I'm doing it, and often do so. With a book - yes, I'm doing research, but my hands get bored just holding said book open.

The other thing I admire about Neil is that he still connects with the fans. That's important. He recently earned me, simply by virtue of being fellow writer, a free dinner on February 29th, in which I could actually be a writer for once by drifting off, telling tall tales, and pulling out a notepad every now and then to jot something down. Neil Gaiman feeds the poor. What's not to love?

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Blog - "Vaginal Customisation"

Well, this is something that I never intended to write about, though hopefully I've come up with a unique twist that will keep things interesting for people. Whether you've heard of it or not, I think the explanation will tell you why I've been trying to avoid writing about it, then decided why it might be worth it to do so. Basically, I'm going to design my own (well, not mine) Vajazzle.

Now, a Vajazzle is a word popularised by an English television series called The Only Way Is Essex. The whole Essex county has recently come to my attention because this is where my new girlfriend is from, which made me think of this, and decide to add a design. The meaning of the word is quite simple: to ensure, using whatever means necessary, that your vagina is dazzling.

Personally, I'd like to see doorknobs. You know, on the lips that you can use to pull them apart, like entering a new room. I'd like to see more lightning bolt pubic hair died luminous blue, and I've always been a fan of a vagina that you can use to open a beer bottle.

I don't get the whole ping pong ball launcher thing. The less said about that the better, so I thought I'd say something about it, just because.

There's not actually all that much you can do with a vagina. An LED in place of the clit, that lights up when a girl is bleeding, could be handy for the less informed or able. You could paint underwear on, like painting eyes on closed eyelids, but that would be rather difficult to mask the fact that there's still a vagina there. Also, if said female shaves, or lets their pubic hair grow, you end up with a very difficult design of thatch.

It's an amazingly gripping part of the body. You can hold a baseball bat in there, I'm confident. A vaginal lava lamp would be interesting, I'm sure.

Obviously, I'm not cruel enough to actually do this to anybody. It would be rather a strange day. Thing is though, I'd always be more of a fan of any of this than piercing the head of my penis with a shiny diamond bar that makes my cock shine like Edward Cullen.

Fuck you Pejazzle. Fuck you.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Blog - "Fat Friends"

Since I was a kid, and by kid I mean about eight years old, I've always had a problem with my weight. I don't mean to say that I've always had trouble fitting in the new slimline doors at McDonald's, or that I used to spend weeks throwing my fingers down my throat. I'm not one of those people, but I've still had immense trouble getting past about a hundred pounds, ever since before I was even a teenager.

This announcement is generally met in very certain ways. Either people accuse me of that whole being sick thing, or they say that I don't eat. More often than not, people would say something along the lines of "I'll fatten you up". This never happened. I've heard it from almost twenty people over the years.

The truth is, sometimes changing your weight is difficult. It's a lot to do with habits. I am always doing something. When watching a film, I'll be writing something, or twirling a pen. I'm only idle when I'm asleep, and even then, I turn a lot before I actually fall asleep. For people who weigh a lot, chances are that they don't move all that much, either because they work in jobs that aren't altogether active, or they just enjoy being still by habit. Of course, some people are like that. Neither way is considered a bad thing.

Now, as regular readers will know, I've been making a lot of changes over the last few months. I got a new place, I lost the long hair, et cetera. Soon, of course, I'm getting published, which is a rather large change, but one caused generally by all of the changes that have already occurred. Amongst these, I've started to gain some weight. In the last four months, I've gained eighteen pounds. Add that to the general increase that'd been going on lately, and I've actually managed to get all the way up to 126 pounds, a personal best and record high for me.

I'm still hearing a lot about Anorexia, and "well, you must have never eaten anything". I'm wondering if people with weight loss issues, i.e. those that weigh more than the healthy amount, encounter the same problems. If people come up to them and shout "well, just stop eating and you'll be fine", while any time in a gym is dangerous because the amount of work they do puts enough strain on an already weakened heart to potentially kill them.

For me, gaining weight is a big plus. I feel better in myself, more confident in my shape and I'm actually starting to be much stronger. I'm much happier, but it's taken me almost a decade for this to start happening. What then about the other side?

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Blog - "The Future"

Dear readers.

So a big day has come when it comes to the career of Tom Colohue - something at once amazing and incredibly intimidating. After several failed attempts to convince, and no agent with even the slightest interest in sight, after a fair chunk of nudging from the current ladyfriend, I have decided to follow the route of self-publishing.

On April 31st, the novel will be finished. The novel in question is named Deja Vu, and is a much improved, revised and added to version of a former twenty-three piece story on Ultimate-Guitar named Dirk Fletcher. It is much evolved, corrected, and expanded.

The novel will be released using Amazon.co.uk onto the Kindle and Kindle app markey. The launch will be July 31st, and in the 3 months in between, I'm planning to create a truly massive advertising campaign over all means available.

I'm currently in the process of getting in contact with everybody involved in any sort of business with the potential of advertising my work in any way, large or small, in order to ensure that it is a success. I'm hoping that this advertising campaign will literally be the size of Jupiter eclipsing the Sun, just because I would really love to be incredibly and wildly successful in my lifetime, and that requires me to actually release something to the world.

The final novel will be roughly seventy thousand words in length, and I'll be charging as close to one pound per release as I can get, after a hundred free copies, just because.

Here's hoping everything goes to plan. I'm nervous, I'm scared, and I am so very, very excited.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Review - "The Woman In Black"

 Just posted on Rotten Tomatoes:

"To say that 'The Woman In Black' captures the spirit of either the book or the stage show that came before it would be both incorrect and secondary to the fact that this film encapsulates the Hammer Horror style. The Gothic, carefully structured set design and cinematography speak of the old haunted houses of the 1930s. While the constant leaps and jumps created by the shock horror and quick reactions are of typical Hammer brand, they maintain a certain detachment from the film, even in the cinema environment. You will not be as engrossed as you would be with either the book or the stage show, but the film is most certainly still worth a watch.

From the opening scene, where three children go from playing with their toys to walking out of a window in slightly comedic fashion, the film sets a system of having almost every element correct, but never quite. The initial theme is introduced, a brilliantly subtle piece reprised throughout the film, and we are shown only the back of the Woman in Black's head. Unfortunately, it is too much too soon to be shown such power. The audience haven't been shown enough to believe the titular character capable of this, and so it becomes a slightly ludicrous scene.

Daniel Radcliffe takes on the main role of Arthur Kipps; a difficult role to take due to the fact that this is largely a one man show. Each member of the supporting cast feels written for purpose, which works wonderfully in the stage show because it suggests that this is the case. In the film however, while every character has their differences, they are subtle, and undermined by the fact that each person there seems to be of the same opinion, go through the same situations and encounter the same problems. Ciarán Hinds, portraying what could be consider the main supporting role of Mr. Daily, is the only one who seems to be evasive of this, but his character development leaves him rather directly to it.

The immediate problem facing Daniel Radcliffe is that of Harry Potter's shadow. While traipsing through the Gothic mansion that holds host to the Woman in Black herself, the audience will come in with the pre-conceived memories of the recently concluded Potter series.

With that in mind, reviews of Radcliffe's performance can only be positive. His age is apt, his sense of self-defeat as clear as that of Brad Pitt in Interview With The Vampire and his reactions strike a near perfect resonance with those of the audience. Certain moments, sometimes in cinematography - for example, with a door opening behind young Kipps while he reads some papers - and sometimes in Special Effects - for example, his face changing in the window to a screaming woman - stand out from the rest as truly terrifying moments. Sadly, the entire film seems unsure as to whether to be subtle in creating fear, or blatant in creating a shock.

Throughout the experience though, there always seems to be something missing. Perhaps this is in the atmosphere, or perhaps the titular character simply does not inspire fear by lingering in dark corners and looking through windows. The sad thing is that all of the necessary elements seem to be correct, but, for once, perhaps Hammer Horror have made a film that's ever so slightly patronising to their audience.

Perhaps we've evolved past cheap thrills and shocks, and the cerebral nature of both the book and the stage show is sadly lacking. In getting everything right for film, The Woman In Black has, unfortunately, gotten it ever so slightly wrong."

Friday, 17 February 2012

Blog - "Missing A Beat"

One of my idols growing up, and certainly to this day, was Gomez Addams. Even though I'd only seen the role portrayed by Raul Julia, the charm, inverse wit and determination to see his family succeed at any and all things proved inspirational, and I learned all I could.

While this was certainly a character I associated with, the more I look back, the more I recognise that the standout performance did not come from Raul Julia, regardless of his immense ability. Instead, the greatest acting result has to have come from Christina Ricci - playing Wednesday Thursday Addams.

You've got to hand it to her; she was barely a child amongst much more experienced actors, and her deadpan deliveries could rival Alan Rickman. I mean, child actors generally play very cheerful roles, but this girl made a simple smile look both wrong and obscenely sinister. 

She's been in a few things since, and her talent only seems to increase with age. I saw her in a double episode of Gray's Anatomy most recently, playing an overwhelmed paramedic, and I was shocked by how young she still is. Admittedly, said episodes were filmed a little while ago, but not so long ago that she's been growing wrinkles and cobwebs since. This woman has barely started. She has so much more to give.

Hollywood: take note. Use Christina Ricca. I certainly would.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Blog - "Resistance"

Something interesting came up a while ago at work, and I thought it might be something that people might be interested in, so I think putting a question forward might be an idea of merit.

The question is a fairly simple one. Would you, during World War Two in particular, join the French Resistance?

I expect an answer has leapt to mind rather quickly, which is typical of an occasion on which something with intense moral implications is asked, but let me throw some additional doubt into the world of choice.

First off, you would have to actually be French, being that it's their resistance, not yours. This means that you'd have to be constantly surrounded by French people. Picture it. You'd have to eat snails, try it on with any and all women, whether attractive, hideous, smelly or bloated. During the Second World War, Hitler literally marched into France, camped in and took over.

Even now, the French would surrender to a muddy footprint. Their resistance is infamous not just because it worked hard in extreme conditions, but also because it stands out against a backdrop of the complete surrender of the rest of their country.

Consider, if you will, the means at your disposal if you decide to enlist. There's no food beyond what can be either scrounged or stolen. You're constantly under threat of death, betrayel and simply leading a God awful life. The mortality rate was incredible. Your chances of success are positively French.

The option is always there of not resisting. You could roll over like the rest of the people of France, and greatly increase your chances of survival. The generally rule would be that, despite being French, you'd be largely safe unless you were Jewish, Gay or not German. Honestly, unless you fall under one of those three, you'd be absolutely fine.

So those are the options, and the situation you find yourself in. How many friends could you make and lose? How many people would you have to kill in the name of putting up a fight? Does anybody on either side truly deserve to die?

Would you, during World War Two in particular, join the French Resistance?

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Blog - "Secondary Heroes"

Our subject today: Lando Calrissian. Our topic: secondary heroes.

Now, the concept of a secondary hero is one you see everywhere, in almost every piece of work. Even the infamous 'Lone Ranger' had an assistant with his adventures, which isn't exactly lone, is it? Bruce Lee, in the film 'The Big Boss' had a cousin who was a decent fighter, but wasn't quite good enough not to die.

That, there, is the recurring theme. Secondary heroes are generally considered to be good, but not as good as whoever the main hero is. The Companion in Doctor Who serves the purpose of being an every day character, who knows practically nothing, but somehow manages to help out on sheer humanity.

My main example here though, is Lando Calrissian, who shows, pretty much perfectly, how secondary heroes are the least realistic of the hero brand, not because of their own limitations, but because of the lack thereof that is applied to them.

There are clear and obvious heroes and villains in Star Wars (referring at this point to Star Wars as episodes 4, 5 and 6, as 1, 2 and 3 blurs the lines from obvious into confusing), which are Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa and Han Solo.

Your original secondary heroes; Obi-Wan Kenobi, C-3P0, R2-D2 and Chewbacca, serve clear purposes. The droids are there for exposition. C-3P0 serves to explain the story when concerned that the viewer might not be able to keep up. R2-D2 is there to take away obstacles that allow for certain situations to occur. For example, the issues with the Millenium Falcon allow a rescue for Luke in the Cloud City, as well as giving Vader a last chance to communicate with him, then R2-D2 takes them away. Obi-Wan is a teacher, and dies in order to display the talents of Darth Vader, thus making him more intimidating, and Chewbacca is a second pilot, showing that Han Solo can't really be that callous and selfish, because he travels the Universe with a friend and companion.

The bad guys, Darth Vader and Emporer Palpatine, can be difficult. Vader is quite clearly the primary antagonist, despite being secondary in the chain of command. This is likely one of the reasons that the films were so successful, being that it is against the run of play for most films, in that time and overall. You tend to have the big antagonist as the big evil, the most capable and scary, while, instead, Vader is the Emporer's henchman.

Then we reach our additional secondary hero. The one who turns up in the middle of the series, is a bit of an arse, then less of an arse, and generally takes on the role of the token black man for a little while, until Return Of The Jedi, where he actually becomes a believable character. The unbelievable issues are a lot to do with reputation. The man was an Adminstrator, doing paperwork for a place he won at a bet, and made a living through cowardly avoiding pissing off the Empire.

Why exactly would the Rebel Alliance decide to make him a General?

Yes, this pisses me off. For a whole attack on a Death Star containing the Emporer and Darth Vader - the two most terrifying of all the Empire's accrued population - they decide to allow their entire fleet to be led by a man who gave up two of their Captains to said Empire. They allow a military captaincy for a man used to crunching numbers.

And this is the problem with secondary heroes. They're not as heroic as you're typical heroes, but they're generally treated like something far in advance of that. The unexplained back story is extremely exaggerated in order to match their abilities up to those that we already know, but the same back story is spoken of so very rarely that most writers no longer seem to bother.

For example, we know how Luke, Leia, Chewbacca and the two droids get into Jabba's Palace, and we know Han Solo is there already; how does Lando sneak in? Not a clue. He's too secondary to have his scenes shown.

This man has a whole book series dedicated to him, but his role in the films is Paperwork Monkey - Guy Attempting To Over A Guy While Jedi Overpowers All Guys - General Of The Rebel Army.

How? Just...how?

Stupid bloody secondaries.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Blog - "The Humble Pacifier"

First post back in a while, and it's going to be a rant about Pacifiers.

Now, in no way am I referring to that most utterly terrible of films, 'The Pacifier', or any of the million or so films in exactly the same vein. I'm actually talking about the traditional dummy that you stick in a child's mouth to stop it crying.

You see, that's the problem. What you're doing is shutting the child up, regardless of if said child is screaming, crying or just talking animatedly in words it understand, but you do not. Communication is generally valued as one of the few things that separate us from the animals, as it were. We need to encourage children to attempt communication.

If you want to give your child a dummy, let's ask ourselves why. Your child might want the dummy, in which case, congratulations, it's an addict before it's out of nappies. Awesome parenting there. There are other reasons though.

Is the child crying? So you give it a dummy? How stupid is that? It's crying because it needs your help. A child can hardly feed itself, warm itself or prevent itself from sitting in it's own shit. Your parenting duties are necessary. Why are you basically patting said child on the head and saying "shut up you little bastard" in a voice as sweet as Haribo?

Or perhaps worse, is your child trying to talk to you? Children take a while to learn to talk, but when they do it becomes one of their favourite things. Mummy and Daddy talk, now Baby talks, they're a big one, et cetera. Talk to your child back. Help it develop the talent and you might end up with a child just as intelligent as you are, or more so.

My niece has never had a Pacifier. Instead, if she was making a scene, her Mother told her to shut up and punished her as necessary if she did not respond to it. I don't understand how a well disciplined child would refuse to. More often than not, Lydia (said niece) will just chat animatedly to you. She's two years old, and she can already hold a conversation about the weather. That alone makes her capable of talking to every single British person that has ever been born.

"It's cold out."

"Yeah, quite cold."


Pacifiers suck.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Blog - "The Philosophy Of Transformers"

Hello dear readers,

Today has been rather monotonous, and so, when a random current thought struck me as odd, I decided to delve into it. The question is quite simple.

Would you class Transformers as alive?

Consider, if you will, the nature of life, as philosophy states. The concept of "I think therefore I am" is surely an outdated one in the light of such wondrous thinkers as Orwell and Cameron; modern day philosophers who gave us 1984 and The Terminator respectively. People have been arguing it for years: whether life is, in fact, reality or just some strange expression of somebody else's laugh at our expense. The ideas of back and forth dreams are a constant, but, be that aside, surely everybody believes in some form of definition as to what constitutes life.

The Transformers, as I'm sure most if not all of you know by now, are entirely mechanoid in design, with no organic component present in their make-up. Their DNA is Hexidecimal code. Their memories are log files. Does this make their artificial intelligence any less potent than our own? Surely, with their access to a central server hub of shared information (Trans-WiFi, if you will) would grant them far greater knowledge and awareness of their fellow man.

Erm, bot.

So that's the question I've been wrestling with for about four minutes, and making no headway on. 'Are Transformers alive' is, in my mind, a much better question that 'are we alive' since that shit never ends.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Blog - "The Vanishing Act"

A couple of people have noticed my general lack of activity lately, and I'd just like to apologise for that. Thankfully, my time away has only served to make me more opinionated than ever. In no way have I ran out of things to say.

A collapsed fire escape (high five for health and safety right there) resulted in my being told very politely to vacate the premises. My landlord was very apologetic, but fire safety being what it is, his choices were limited and I don't blame him at all.

Now, about a week before this happened, a girl moved on to my floor. I say girl rather than woman for reasons of petulance which will later become apparent. There was some history of sexual and physical abuse, but out of respect I won't delve any deeper into that.

I gave her somewhere to stay and agreed to find a new place with her rather than by myself. Having recognised the symptoms of her condition, I wanted to help.

She and her gigantic German Shepherd, Shadow, have been staying with me in my interim location for over a month now. She decided to add another flatmate. I accepted this as her needing a wider support network. She pressures me for bank statements, then she fails the credit check. She pressures me for references, then can't get a Guarantor to cover herself. She refuses to tell potential landlords that she has a pet, or smokes, or is a student, et cetera. Her casual denial of anything that might risk out future location is incredible. Then, of course, she fucks off for sixteen hours a day and leaves me with the dog without as much as a warning.

The final straw was, and this does make me laugh, paperwork. As I was preparing an Internal Tenancy Agreement to cover things like pets, rent and cleaning, she first refused to sign anything, then refused to believe that it could possibly be made legally binding. When I assured her otherwise, she called me a liar. I did not enjoy that.

Sometimes, when you look for the good in people, it simply isn't there. She's gone now. A week ago, I would have been worried. Now though, I simply feel much, much better.

Inside me, in some dark place, there's a happy person who, after two months of stress and work, is finally starting to wake up.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Blog - "Successful Failures

So, I've decided what my next column series will be based on. I'm going to do 'Successful Failures In Marketing'.

This might sound oxymoronic, and that's the point in a way, but in another way it isn't. While you have some wonderful failures in music that ended up being marketing wonders (anything Axl Rose does tends to make Slash look absolutely fantastic, as an example), it's also very easy to take this consideration away from music. Perhaps the most infamously successful marketing failure would be Paris Hilton and her fabled sex tape, which made a dull, sad, selfish, whiny bitch a minor celebrity that the world could very much do without.

Box office flops often become infamous in their own way. Firefly, a series cancelled for increasingly poor ratings, has become a cult hit. An ancient and inherently flawed programme named 'The Prisoner' was recently re-made with Ian McKellen. In addition, any footballer constantly in the newspapers will earn noteriety. Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard have both features in sex tapes of their own, and Lampard's one of the good ones (comparitively). Wayne Rooney wore shoes that weren't made by his new sponsors, and thus he was plastered all over the front pages, earning a lot of attention for both the old sponsors and the new ones.

Music is admittedly still supposed to be my focus, but I'm not exactly where I was when I started Marketing Methods. I'm having more trouble thinking up musically related concepts for it. I can likely write seven hundred words on The Who, and Jimi Hendrix. I'm also considering conversing over certain rumours that surround Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon. You know the ones. Everybody knows the ones. (If you don't know the ones, please Google the ones, as I think everybody should know the ones)

Then there's the Wii: a stupid name that propelled the console to becoming the single highest selling gaming platform to have ever existed. I mean, come on, it's called the Wii. You know, like wee.

To finish, I might make mention of Matt Bellamy and Kate Hudson's (Almost Famous definitely being my favourite film of hers) newborn child: Bing. That's got to be a piece of genius somewhere down the line.

It has to be, right?

Friday, 1 July 2011

Blog - "A Drastic Change"

There is a rather big thing about to happen on Monday; something that I am very nervous about. For the first time in seven years, I am about to have short hair.

Now, for a lot of people, I wouldn't imagine that this is a big deal, but, for me, it is. My long hair has been one of my defining features. Before I had long, black hair, I also didn't have a partner. The hair has done wonders for my popularity and has made me a wonderfully distinct character. At this point though, I'm a little bored of it. Seven years is a long time.

My inspiration for the cut style is a rather generic one. I'm hopefully going to be getting some pictures done then and there as well. I am a little worried, but with all of the additional effort I've been making on my appearance, I do feel that the laziness required to have hair like I do is no longer about. I originally decided to grow my hair purely because I was sick of having short hair. Now, after many years of it being part and parcel Tom Colohue, to the point where it was the first thing in the lead up to the name change, it's time to put it to rest.

That said, I'm still a bit scared it might not go right. More often than not, mirrors are not my friend but, sometimes, I quite like it. What if it goes wrong?

Little scared.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Blog - "There Was A Boy"

Hello good readers,

It's been a busy couple of weeks for me, but now I have a laptop again, and a lot of work to be getting caught up on. I've been working on Disbelief again, which has been a long time coming, and I'm in the revisions section now. Progress is slow, but we are getting there.

A couple of exciting things have been happening in my life recently. One of my interviewees, Alex Hulme, if anybody should remember the name, launched an EP called 'There Was A Boy'. He sent me an e-mail about it, sent me a copy (two copies in fact) and a signature (which is important to me these days). There were several launch parties planned, and I received an invite to the first one at The Pickerings Hotel in Garstang, near Preston.

I expected about a hundred people to be there, in a moderately busy hall. In the end, the number was closer to three hundred, and the place was packed. Upon walking in I thought, "I'm glad I brought company, there's no chance I'll be able to spend time with Alex or his record execs like this." As it turned out, I was wrong. Alex set time aside for me, and even bought me a drink. The old Tommyfest feeling of welcome came back strong, and being surrounded by artists and gifted performers reminded me of my time at The Dukes.

Put simply, I was in my element, exactly where I wanted to be in life.

I'm now writing a review, which will be released as soon as it's ready for the people here, on Ultimate-Guitar, on the Cityscape Records website and as far as they can get it too. I would advise anybody with the opportunity to experience at least one evening of Alex Hulme, before he gets so big that the chance is gone forever.

Believe me, that will happen.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Blog - "Single Season"

You know, it seems sort of like this is the season to be single. I've been single for a while, so I can't claim to have been affected too directly, but people around me just seem to be falling apart.

Obviously, I can't supply particular names, tales or details, but suffice it to say that things are really starting to fuck themselves up for some close friends of mine. It's a typical sort of relationship implosion, but it's suddenly happening everywhere. The inevitable decay of life abruptly, an without warning, steps it up a beat. It's rather disconcerting overall.

Now, don't be too surprised if I choose to remain a pessimist; I've never much been one for sharing, or relying on other people. That said, it makes me hopeful that other people can manage to survive making the compromises and submissions ever apparent in the early months of a new relationship. Just because I can't handle it myself, doesn't mean it's not worthy of a little admiration.

I'm told that, after a certain amount of utterly failed relationships, you're pretty much supposed to lose all faith that there's a future for you, but, for me, I had the pleasure of having that idea proven wrong. I was granted the privilege or watching love flourish before my eyes. Yes, my own relationships have failed, but while other thrive, I have faith.

So please, people around me, find a way past your differences. Stop being selfish; think about me.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Review - "The Mad Man's Box"

So, this weeks episode of Doctor Who was a bit of a nostalgia trip, though in a backwards sort of way, which managed to make a lie out of everything Russell T. Davies wrote about The Doctor being lonely and yet, still, managed to completely eclipse Steven Moffat.

While The Doctor's generally renewed Colin Baker-ness is in full swing, and he lets another creature find its way to death in this episode, the audience were treated to a far more important piece of characterisation: the TARDIS, in human form.

The set, as usual much darker than those in previous series', was a scrapyard this week, containing broken bits of TARDIS and, chameleon circuits in a state of full repair, less recognisable broken bits of TARDIS. The characters of Auntie and Uncle were strangely likeable, despite there being very little time with them.

Amy and Rory, in this episode, largely seemed there as an afterthought. It seems to me as though the writer, Neil Gaiman, was not altogether interested in them, but they did serve to add the right amount of additional peril. When trapped together, their minds being played with, Rory in particular is forgotten because he's not actually targeted by any of House's tricks. He might be in Amy's head, but Rory just keeps running.

The interior of the TARDIS was a perfect throwback to previous generations. This surprised me, considering how Moffat has chosen to re-invent the Doctor as a much more America-friendly character of late. When hearing that we, the audience, were being taken to a previous control room, I was quite excited. However, I'll admit to being a little disappointed with the control room that they chose.

Nephew, the Ood, seemed like a one-trick pony. His job could have quite easily been taken up by a dodgy radio, and he adds little peril to the dying moments in the TARDIS. House himself, though obviously capable of causing great harm, had an entirely monotone voice, which ruined the 'fear me' line for me personally. The Doctor himself had no power in his voice for his rebuttal, and the music barely emphasised the moment.

Now, dialogue, and here, I think, we're onto a winner. We had a bit of a false start. (I don't know why Moffat insists on almost all scripts containing 'basically, run' in them) Thankfully, after our dear TARDIS and Suranne Jones appeared on the picture, that all changed. ("Biting's like kissing, but with a winner," "I stole a Time Lord and ran off" etc.) Not only did her presence encourage The Doctor to become more like The Doctor than he's been since the Big Bang Two, but it also earned similar responses from the other characters. (Amy: "Did you wish really hard?")

I will compliment Suranne Jones most certainly. Everything from her accent, through posture, to her grace made her much more interesting than any role I've seen her in previously. Portraying the TARDIS itself must be increasingly daunting, but she rose to the challenge spectacularly.

That said, this is a woman who is capable of matching the Doctor's wit and intelligence because she's a technological device that's been with him for seven hundred years, and she couldn't last long. She was a character. River Song remains a complete Mary-Sue.

Finally, the 'soap-bubble' theory actually checks out quite well, annoyingly.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Blog - "Monty Python"

Monty Python's Flying Circus is, in fact, a comedy sketch show that has few to no recurring characters at all, and yet it's one of those programmes that draws me in the strongest.

Over the years, many secrets have emerged concerning the lives and lifestyles of the six original members of Monty Python. Some of them come out of the blue, while some of them are no surprise to anybody. Being able to look back on the lives that these people led previously is impossible, but art does have a wonderful way of imitating art.

A perfect example of the truth emerging is a Michael Palin moment, where a mention of The Spanish Inquisition, long after this particular sketch had been played out, confronts him with the giggles.

Another is any number of Palin and Cleese sketches when the two of them were on stage. They did absolutely everything in their power to put each other off and make it as difficult as possible to perform, with Palin often coming up short under the immense comedic presence of John Cleese.

In the films, and the series, tricks come out via preferences. Eric Idle is the one most often called on to impersonate a female because the others believed him the most attractive when donning female dress. This might also be something to do with the fact that the rest of them, when in long dresses and push-up bras, often wore fake moustaches. Idle's own sketches mostly involved either a lot of talking or singing, and singing is the path that he eventually pursued.

Palin and Jones seemed at their best when writing sketches involving outdoor travel, such as the entire episode dedicated to Palin's 'Mr. Pither' travelling on a bike tour. Palin now makes a living travelling around the world.

Graham Chapman, arguably the best actor of the six, is, unfortunately, no longer with us. As everybody in the world is sure he would have wanted, John Cleese ensured that his entire funeral ended up roaring with laughter. How often do you see that?

Nowadays, you'd be hard pressed to get them all in the same room together. However, at the time, these men were inseperable, and it shows in their obvious devotion and respect to and for each other.