Happy Xmas to you, happy Xmas to you …

Comments Off on Happy Xmas to you, happy Xmas to you …

Here’s a little Xmas story I wrote for my writing group, for your reading pleasure. It’s called Bah Humbug. Happy Xmas and New Year, Headless Hollow readers. Time is precious—thanks for spending a little of yours here.

Usually, the first indication that another bloody Christmas is about to hit comes when I’m walking around my local shopping centre, happily minding my own business, and I suddenly realise with mounting horror that Christmas Carols are playing over the sound system. And not just any Christmas Carols these days, oh no. The people who make these decisions have decided to blend two of the worst forms of auditory torture known to mankind—a combination which I hereby christen “Carols and Carey”. The songs are the same tired old favourites that get trotted out year after year, but now they are sung by the most atrocious, screeching harridans that the American music industry can produce. This produces the kind of irritating and prolonged cacophony that one might hear should your dear Aunt Agatha, who fancies herself a bit of an Opera buff, accidently stumble backwards into the stove and put her hand on a hot plate with her full weight behind it. A relatively peaceful shopping expedition becomes akin to a trip through that special Circle of Hell reserved for people who use leaf blowers on a Sunday morning.

Read more …

Happy Xmas to us, happy Xmas to us …


We’ve exchanged contracts. Whew. Our own home at last.

Film review: King Kong

1 comment

King Kong

Peter Jackson must feel if he has to tell the story of how the 1933 King Kong inspired him to be a filmmaker one more time, he’ll explode. But there’s no denying it’s wonderful to hear about someone actually realising their fondest childhood dream—and let’s face it, out of all those fledgling flimmakers who played with plasticine and Super8 cameras as kids, how many of them go on to make a $200 million version of their favourite film?

It’s perhaps because of Jackson’s close emotional attachment to the original that King Kong isn’t a complete and utter success; it feels as if he’s been playing with these ideas all his life and isn’t willing to give up any of his toys. Yes, it is too long, at just over three hours. Let’s get that out of the way. I have nothing against long films, but in this case Jackson obviously ran out of time to finish and fine-tune the film. There are places where the compositing work is embarassingly rough, and I imagined how unforgiving the audiences of twenty years hence (hell, the audiences now) will be of those scenes—in much the same way the original’s effects now look naive. Since there’s a good twenty minutes of stuff in the film that could have been left on the cutting room floor, hard decisions should have been made about losing some scenes and allotting more time to others. It’s much like the Director’s Cut of Return of the King: that Paths of the Dead ‘skull avalanche’ sequence should have been trodden underfoot and never seen again. And talking about The Lord of the Rings, here there’s some of the same uncomfortably choppy editing we saw in that trilogy, especially in the film’s first third. In fact I felt things only started to hit a real rhythm at the appearance of the Skull Island natives, twenty minutes in.

There’s a lot of great stuff here, and almost of the great stuff has Kong in it. There’s no question Andy Serkis and the Weta animators have done an incredible job bringing him to life: so much so that he outshines the human actors in the depth of his character and acting. And here, it seems to me, is another lost opportunity. The other characters remain 1930s cardboard cutouts—especially Jack Black as Carl Denham (out of his depth here) and Adrien Brody as Jack Driscoll, who struggle with flat material. When the script tries to flesh out character it feels tacked on: especially when the Venture’s first mate starts quoting slabs of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. It’s a huge credit to Naomi Watts that she manages to bring so much character to Ann Darrow. It can’t be easy getting all that emotion across when you’re in a green studio staring at a guy in an ape suit and fake fangs with motion control dots all over him. But there is a real repoire between Kong and Ann that gives us the only real emotional depth in the film; in contrast the touched-on love story between Ann and Jack is paper-thin.

Still, the action sequences are astounding, though perhaps a tad drawn out (and there’s one sequence that I found uncomfortably—and a bit too voyeuristically—violent), with Jackson repeatedly raising the bar on the action until you find yourself laughing in delight. Most of King Kong is an amazing ride.

It’s a great film, but with more disciplined editing, and more time, it could have been a classic. But then again it already was a classic. What we all want to see now is Jackson turn his talents, and that of his team, to something completely original. There’s a Blade Runner in him yet. Come on Mr Jackson, we know you can do it.

Four casually discarded blondes out of five.

House Buying


Well, if all goes as it should, tomorrow will be my last day free of major debt*. Because on Monday my girlfriend and I will be signing an agreement which will make us obligated to paying off an obscene amount of money over an unimaginable amount of time (30 years). However, I have several consolations while facing this frightening prospect: a) I think we’ve got a pretty good house at an OK price; b) millions of people take on the same amount of debt every day and manage to survive; c) now that I’m working from home, my mortgage payment is still less than what I used to pay on home rent plus studio rent; d) I’m lucky enough to be entering into this agreement alongside a wonderful girl I love and e) I’m almost 40, how much longer can I put off this mortgage thing anyway?

It’s been a stressful ride, and it ain’t over yet, but it may actually work out. From what my more responsible and have-their-shit-together friends tell me, it gets easy after the first year or two.

I keep joking to my girl that soon she’ll be up on a ladder in white overalls and I’ll put a dab of paint on her nose and then we’ll both laugh. And we’ll spend all our weekends ‘doing things around the house’. And thumbing through Ideal Homes Magazine (quick, be the first to identify that Joe Jackson song!) But on the whole it seems like the right time to be doing this stuff. And what a pleasure it’s going to be to hang a picture without worrying about getting the bond back.

PS Yeah I know I said I wouldn’t talk about real estate. But hey, this is big stuff for me OK?

PPS No, it’s not this place. (Sorry, I never did check it out.)

*Maybe. Maybe the debt starts when we settle in seven weeks—hmmm, I must check that…



As I write this, Nguyen Tuong Van has about eight and a half hours left to live. I’m about to go to bed. Tomorrow I’ll wake up and have a normal day. I might not do anything special at all, but Nguyen would give anything—anything—to have another normal day just like that.

Here’s what I think. I think killing is wrong, and that no one has the right to take the life of another, for any reason. Nguyen was twenty-two when he made the dumbest decision of his life. Twenty-two. How smart were you when you were twenty-two? I’m not saying he didn’t make a stupid mistake, or even that he didn’t realise the consequences of what he was doing. But all of us are entitled to forgiveness, a chance to make amends. A second chance. Even the worst of us. Because even the worst of us can learn, and perhaps even become a better person—even become one of the best of us.

No one has the right to take a human life. No one.

Amnesty International.

Tiny Room in Purgatory


Tiny roomMy girlfriend and I are looking to buy a place of our own at the moment. And while usually I dislike talking or writing about real estate, I had to share with you this little gem she discovered yesterday: ‘Too Good to Be True.’

Let’s look at this paragon of the advertising art for just a moment. Everything about it screams care and attention to detail. Linger on the way it’s all written in capitals, so it feels like the agent is shouting at you. Delight in the spelling: “TO GOOD TO BE TRUE” … “AVAILBALE FOR INSPECTION”. Wonder at the tempting adjectives and the way they work together: “IMPRESSIVE” and “LIVEABLE”. And then, the piece de resistance, the photo … yes, that is the only photo. But don’t despair, you can click on it to get a larger view and revel in the glorious detail of the image!

I don’t know about you, but I’m reaching for my chequebook as we speak …

Film review: Doom



Really, really really bad.

Half a BFG out of five.

Online Adventure Games

Comments Off on Online Adventure Games

Death in Sakkara A challenging online adventure game from the BBC

Dandys at the Gaelic

Comments Off on Dandys at the Gaelic

DandysSaw The Dandy Warhols at the Gaelic Club on Saturday night. A vast improvement over the last time I saw them at the Enmore Theatre, the Gaelic being a small venue as opposed to theatre-sized, so we were only about ten heads from the front. The place was packed, the mix was good and the band was in fine form, and I was pleased they’d brought their trumpet player with them this time, which really added a lot to the sound.

Songs from the new album Odditorium went down well, but the real crowd-pleasers are still Boys Better, Bohemian Like You and Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth.
The Dandys seem far more suited to small venues like this one than concert halls. At the end of the concert Courtney—man that guy can strike a pose!—gave a long and heartfelt thankyou to the crowd (perhaps he was impressed by us all singing Happy Birthday to Peter Holmstrom), and then Zia came on to end the night with an cappella version of Joplin’s Mercedes Benz which of course everyone joined in on after the ‘everybody’! Great night. Next gig I’m really looking forward to? The Shins on Jan 9.

No, no, FrankenSTIEN!



I just watched The Revenge of Frankenstein—Hammer Films, 1958, with the incomparable Peter Cushing as the good Baron. I did find it highly amusing however, that having escaped the guillotine at the start of the film, he proceeds to start a new practice in a good sized city as ‘Dr Stein’.

But wait, his twisted genius doesn’t end there. When he is almost killed by his patients and transplanted into the body of his latest creation at the end of the film, he then sets up shop in another city as ‘Dr Francken’.
Brilliant doctor—not so brilliant con-man.

« Older Entries Newer Entries »