Sunday, April 30, 2006

I'm medicated, how are you?

I was planning on writing this huge entry about how crazy insane and insane crazy my week had been, but it's been too much and I don't really want to relive it, even in type. Work has been out the other side of busy and I work with idiots. Also, the NY situation has been on again off again on again off again for the last two weeks and I really just am at the end of my tether with it all.

I did have a wonderful weekend though, which has taken the sting out of it all somewhat. I'll blog about that soon enough.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

On The Other Side

I can't stop listening to this song. I mentioned it earlier in the blog after the Janis ian concert last week and how spooky it was that it was written and recorded in 2000 and how anyone who hears it (including Janis herself if her introduction of it at the concert was anything to go by) can't help but think of 9/11 when they hear it. So I thought I would put the lyrics here so other people could see for themselves. Forgive the caps, but I cut and pasted them from Janis's official website.







Not waving but drowning

Well it's been quite an intense week here at PCB Central. On Good Friday, I discovered I had no money. I was very far into my overdraft. This was a huge surprise to me. I thought I had plenty of cash, plus I'm working and getting paid so surely I'm loaded. Nope. Now, I currently use Smile, the internet branch of the Co-Operative Bank. I used to have a bank account with HSBC. I have a loan and a credit card with them. I decided to log back into my HSBC account and see what was left and apply for a consolidation loan with Smile. And that's where things started to go very very wrong.

See, when I was with HSBC, as well as my current account, I opened a household account. Because I was being paid weekly and my housemate fortnightly, I thought it would be wise to have an account we paid into on each pay day for all the monthly bills. Sensible, no? No. That account has an overdraft limit of £150. When we parted ways in July, I for my NY dream, her for marriage, I left it to her to sort out final bills etc, which she did. And the house account should have been at zero balance. When I look on Friday, the house account is £375 overdrawn. Oops. So I tally up my debt and apply for the loan with Smile. On Tuesday, I am of course turned down flat. I had a backup plan, which was to go back to HSBC. So on Tuesday I called them and that's where things went even further astray. See, for the loan repayment, I opened an account that I paid into weekly and the loan payment went out of it monthly. Makes sense, right? Wrong. When I moved it to Smile, the payments took a few days to clear, and one month, there wasn't quite enough money in the account for the repayment. And that has had a knock on effect and I have now, unknowingly, defaulted on six repayments. And for each default, I've been charged £30. Shit. So I spend an hour on the phone with HSBC and it's no fun and I have to go into my nearest branch on Friday.

So I went. And it turns out, they couldn't really do anything for me. See, with HSBC, every account holder has a "behavior" score out of 99. If that score drops below 24, no in branch decisions can be made regarding your account, it has go to a central department who will contact you by phone. My score is 13. This is about as low as it can get apparently. Fun. But a very sweet man explained everything that would happen and basically, it's all going to be ok. It's going to be a little bit sucky for a little while, but I can dig myself out of that hole fairly easily. It involves them loaning me £5050 but I'm ok with that.

But those of you keeping track might remember that the New York company who are hiring me mentioned they would pay my legal fees and levy it from my salary. Well, with my H-1 visa application starting next week, they told me on Friday they can't cover my fees. And I'll have to cover their fees too. So that means I'll have about $5000 more debt to play with. And I think I have to pay half up front. Woot.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Janis Ian

Now I do love my lady folk singers. Ani DiFranco, Dar Williams, Suzanne Vega, Nerina Pallot and so on and so on. But I just got back from a Janis Ian concert. For some reason I only know four of her songs (At Seventeen, Between The Lines, In The Winter, Society's Child) and I really liked them but I hadn't ever gone out and snapped up her back catalogue. Well more fool me. Her concert was absolutely astonishing. Alone with her guitar for a little over 90 minutes, Janis Ian had the audience in the palm of her hand from the second she appeared on stage. Her voice is incredible, intimate and soaring all at once. Added to that she's funny and personable and you have the perfect folk concert. I was blown away by the final song of the main set, On The Other Side and was even more blown away to discover it was written and recorded over a year before 9/11. So Janis, if your incessant Googling of yourself leads you to this review, just know that I was left in awe of you this evening.

Summer Movies

Now, it's no secret that summer blockbusters are usually bad. And last summer was one big black hole of suckage. The fact that, if I had to choose a highlight, it would be the craptastic-yet-I-still-liked-it-in-an-"it's shit"-kind-of-way Fantastic Four I think says it all. And yet, that being said, this summer boasts a whole crop of movies that I shouldn't be getting my hopes up about and yet I am. They are:

Mission Impossible III: I know, I know. Tom Cruise has become a punchline. The second movie was horrible. The first movie was incoherent and is also the first movie that decided to put EVERYTHING in the trailer and is therefore to blame for the trend (remember the climactic helicopter chase in the Channel Tunnel? Right there in the trailer. Stupid). So I shouldn't be getting excited about this. But, two key reasons for the suckiness of part II are absent (Thandie Newton and John Woo), JJ Abrams is the man in control and there's the added bonus of Philip Seymour Hoffman on bad guy duties. And as much as I hate to admit it, I don't HATE Tom Cruise as an actor. I don't know why but I don't. So there. I won't be jumping over a couch to proclaim this fact anytime soon, I hasten to add.

The Da Vinci Code: Not overly excited about this one, but I am intrigued to see what such a bland director can do with such a bland leading man in the most overrated overhyped load of claptrap book in decades. I read the book, I enjoyed it for what it was, but it didn't change my life or anything. The excitement lays in the supporting cast here with Audrey Tautou, Ian McKellen, Paul Bettany and Alfred Molina all making this more interesting than it actually is.

X Men: The Last Stand: I shouldn't be excited about this at ALL. The insanity of Fox finally drove Bryan Singer away from the franchise and they replaced him with Brett Fucking Ratner, who gave the world Rush Hour. While this looks like it will be all exciting on the action and spectacle front, the voiceover in the first trailer suggests the script will suck. I wish they'd waited until Singer was available, but it's all a pissing contest to get this film opened before Singer's new film.

Poseidon: Bring. It. On. I absolutely cannot fucking wait. I hope it's three hours long. A cast of people I love (Josh Lucas, Mike Vogel, Richard Dreyfuss and so on) and an astronomical budget remake of my favorite disaster movie? Who could ask for anything more? The trailers and ShoWest reel made me giddy with joy, frankly. All I ask is that Emmy Rossum is given the violent and painful death that was inexplicably denied her in The Day After Tomorrow and this may well end up being my film of the summer.

The Break Up: I love Vince Vaughn. I can't help it. He's so tall and handsome (though he has been looking a little rough around the edges lately) and he's a comic genius to boot. So this will be fabulous even if it DOES also star Jennifer Aniston.

The Omen 666: Again, I know I know. It's a remake of a classic with an odd cast, it's bound to suck. But the trailer that JUST came out looks very promising and I know it's wrong but I do love Julia Stiles.

Superman Returns: Fan boys are getting increasingly upset with publicity stills and trailers for this. Michael Hartney has been discussing it on his blog and will no doubt continue to do so as the release date rolls nearer. I have to admit that, not being a fan boy of the source material but only of the director, I'm excited. I could really do without Kevin Spacey in it but with Parker Posey as his evil sidekick, she should more than compensate.

Miami Vice: Again, I know. I should be hanging my head in shame as I type. But where other tv shows have hit the big screen in a let's all be retro camp bollocks way (yes, Charlie's Angels I mean you), the first trailer for this is all gritty and dark and exciting. Marvellous.

Snakes On A Plane: Who ISN'T looking forward to a film with that title?

Saturday, April 15, 2006

I love Stephen King

And I'm not ashamed to say it. I started reading his books when he published his ultimate masterpiece, It in 1986. So it's just occurred to me that I have been a fan for 20 years. Scary in and of itself. Anyway, I have read about 90% of his output and I would rate several of his books in my all time favorites. It's always irked me when he's dismissed as a schlock writer, because his books always seem deeper than that to me. His books have managed to move and involve as well as terrify me. Not to mention he has a delicious sense of humor that has caused me to laugh out loud countless times. I will never forget reading The Tommyknockers in school during quiet time. We'd all been yelled at and threatened if we made any noise we'd be in detention for the rest of our lives. I then happened to read the part of the novel describing Gard's revenge on his boss by putting laxative in his chocolate milkshake. I spent quiet time holding in the most intense attack of the giggles, hands clasped over my mouth, tears running down my face.

Rather famously, King almost died after being hit by a truck in 1999. This was after the publication of the coolly received Bag Of Bones (which I loved). And that was the last book of his I loved for a fair while. His post recovery output is, in my opinion, his worst. Dreamcatcher is just horrible and don't even get me started on the movie, the short story collection Everything's Eventual had a few moments but I grew bored and didn't finish it. From A Buick 8 was a big improvement but it still wasn't great. I haven't read any of his Dark Tower series yet, so I don't know if the completion of that saga lived up to early promise.

Anyway, the good news is King is BACK. His latest novel, Cell, is a triumphant return to form. I absolutely loved it. And if anyone hasn't read it but intends to, please proceed no further. It's clearly inspired by Romero and his Dead movies, but King takes it to the next level. A mysterious Pulse is administered through cell phones, causing those exposed to it to turn in to crazed and murderous zombies. A small band of survivors (including, refreshingly for the unapologetically homophobic King, a homosexualist drawn with sensitivity and almost completely unremarked upon), draw together and try and work out how to survive. It being King, it's not as straightforward as all that, with telepathy, levitation, mass murder, mind control and many other curve balls thrown at the reader. The main hero, Clayton Riddell, is looking for his ex wife and young son and the scenes where he tracks his son in earnest, finding a couple of letters his son left for him, are just heartbreaking. Not as heartbreaking though as the callously efficient way King, after many pages making you really care about her, kills off the 15 year old Alice. She is rescued by Clayton at the start of the book and obviously you think that all the survivor group will make it to the last page. Nope. Alice meets a very nasty end and it's so astonishingly well handled, I got a little tearful, not to mention really angry that a character died such a senseless death. That such strong emotions could be evoked in a book about people driven crazy by their cell phones is really saying something. And the ending? Resolutely ambiguous and utterly maddening. Brilliant. I'm tired of having everything wrapped in a little bow and handed to me. Cell leaves you dangling and for that alone I would love it, but it's really the icing on the cake.

Even more excitingly, at the end of Cell, there is a few pages from the opening of his next book, Lisey's Story and this looks like it's back in the realms of books like Gerald's Game and Rose Madder, where the horror comes out of domesticity, which of course makes it all the more terrifying. For someone who retired a few years ago now, he sure is busy. Well played, Mr King. Well played indeed.

So many places, so little time

As IF I don't have enough to entertain my mind with, I now have a dilemma about where to live when I return to New York. Well, I guess it's a TRIlemma, because I've gone from having nowhere to live to having three possibilities. When I was in NY for the summer, l lived with friends in Astoria and we left it open for my return, but that got fucked up, which is why I had nowhere. Now, while I'm mulling over the two choices that have cropped up since Astoria was a no go, I was talking to my ex-roommate last night and it turns out, as I'm not back until October, I might be able to move back in with them after all. So I have made a little pros and cons list for each of the locations. I'll start with



- I've lived there before, so I know the neighborhood.
- I like the neighborhood.
- You can control the heat in the apartment manually.
- It's a walk up but it's the second floor.
- It's super crazy cheap.
- I like my roommates.
- Laundromat is half a block away.
- I lived there over the summer so I already have some other friends in the neighborhood.


- My relationship with one roommate is volatile, to say the least. Since I came back to the UK, we've been talking a lot and decided to make a clean slate of things when I come back, but I can't help wondering if that clean slate wouldn't be better if it were unsullied by us living together.
- There would be at least 4 of us living in the apartment. I like my privacy and space. A lot. I need alone time. I don't know how much of it I would get working a full time job and living there.
- I need to go back to the gym. Thanks to my UK bank fucking things up, the NYSC two blocks from the apartment has blacklisted me.
- It's not Manhattan.
- The N/W line is the devil.
- I couldn't have a dog.

Tudor City


- It's a studio. I would be living alone.
- It's on the 21st floor, there's a lift.
- 24 hour doorman.
- The neighborhood is just GORGEOUS.
- I could walk to work.
- It's owned by a friend, so I would never have issues with my landlord.
- Laundry facilities in the building.


- It is insanely, almost prohibitively expensive.
- I have to sign contracts and show proof of earnings.
- I couldn't have a dog as the building doesn't allow them.
- Heat is controlled by the building.

Lower East Side


- It is living with my dear sweet wonderful friend Christina, who I love and will never tire of.
- It's a wonderful neighborhood.
- It's affordable, not cheap but not insane amounts of money.
- It's 3 seconds away from the subway.
- The F/V line is pretty great.
- The shower pressure is phenomenal (who doesn't love that?)
- The apartment is lovely, very well kept.


- The apartment is lovely, but it's very tiny.
- It's on the fifth floor of a walk up. And I'm lazy.
- Laundry is several blocks away, as is the nearest supermarket.
- Heat is controlled by the building.

So you see, Gentle Reader, I have lots to chew on. But, in typical PCB stylee, I am running before I can walk. I have to actually GET the visa for the job first, then I should worry about where I am going to live.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Squee & The Whale

Last night I went to see The Squid & The Whale which I was initially annoyed about only being 81 minutes in length. By the end credits I was thanking the baby Jesus for its brevity as it was so painfully brilliant and so emotionally wrought that 81 minutes was all I could have stood.

But that's not the reason for this entry. The reason for this entry is that Volkswagen have a new ad campaign for the new Golf GTi. And it has the absolute cutest French Bulldog in it that you ever did see. And I spent the whole ad and about 5 minutes afterwards squeeing with delight about it. Anyone else who, like me, thinks that these dogs are the cutest things on earth should click here and also squee with delight. His name is Roscoe. He is to die for.

Well that didn't take long

I lost my temper with Mr Unable To Multitask today and in a very VERY controlled but clearly very angry way, told him that I thought what he was telling me was absolutely shite and if I responded to the complaint the way he wanted me to, the complainant (is that even a word?) would come back and within seconds to yell about how shabby our response was. He took it rather well, I must say. Did I mention that next week is his week to monitor the Case Management Worklist? I'm anticipating it with glee.

Sunday, April 09, 2006


For security reasons, this post is history

"I want that cunt in jail"

I figured I should headline my review with a sample of the quality of dialogue in this long in coming sequel. So you know what kind of opinion I had of the film up front. I went to see this as I figured that like Showgirls it could be a guilty pleasure, so spectacularly, mindblowingly, incomprehensibly bad that it is in fact wonderful and a huge amount of fun to watch. Alas, save for the occasional moment of unintentional laugh out loud silliness, Basic Instinct 2 is simply so bad it's plain bad.

What's more it's slow and it's boring. Note to the creative team: we have all seen the first movie. We all know Catherine Tramell is a psycho sexual lunatic who ensnares men in her web of murder and deceit. We don't need an hour long "will they won't they" prologue. The second we see her psychiatrist, Michael Glass (David Morrissey who is so much better than this, I really don't know what the hell he was thinking) we know that they'll end up sleeping together and he'll end up obsessed with her and ultimately she's setting him up to take the fall for her. So why make us wait so long for it, to wade through reels of tedium and motivations that beggar belief to get to the plot itself?

Once the plot does kick in properly, assuming the audience haven't gnawed their own arms off to relieve the boredom, the film then tries too hard to muddy the waters and thicken said plot but it's all to no avail. When Tramell visits the defeated Glass, incarcerated in an asylum at the end and hands him a copy of her new book, and puts forth the possibility that Glass is really bonkers and is responsible for the film's body count, it's so pointless I wanted to scream. Why so pointless? I refer you to my previous note to the creative team. Rather than thinking "oh that's neat I wonder if he really could be responsible" the whole audience is thinking "clearly it was you all along, Catherine, now shut up and roll the fucking credits already".

So what's left? The performances. David Thewlis clearly knew he was on to a loser from the off and so decided to ham it up mercilessly and in a Welsh accent to boot (it is he who delivers the line in the subject heading). Hugh Dancy had the right idea, appearing in 2 scenes before being killed off. Charlotte Rampling is of course glorious, a shining beacon of brilliance in a sea of mediocrity.

And then there's Sharon. Crazy Sharon. She can't act. At all. Not even a little bit. And she never has been able to. She has exactly one good performance to her name, in Total Recall of all things. Her delivery, as she beats up Arnie, of "That's for making me come to Mars. You know how much I hate this fucking planet." is a joy. But everything since then, first Basic Instinct included, has been shabby, to say the least. Her inexplicably lauded turn in Casino is painfully bad, hell even her cameo on Roseanne demonstrated how entirely lacking in comic timing she was. Here, her acting, if you can call it that, is stymied further by the fact she's had so much plastic surgery her face is all but immobile. There have been some absolutely corking reviews, one of which referred to her as having the face of a tightly made bed and another which said that it was like watching someone's overly made up mum doing an impression of Sharon Stone playing Catherine Tramell. Both are right, and if for no other reason, this film should be seen just to take in the true awfulness that is Sharon Stone's performance.

But that's not all that's awful about La Stone. As I mentioned in the above paragraph, she has discovered the delights of plastic surgery. To the max. Her face has been so lifted and Botoxed that ironically she doesn't look good for her age. And she is frighteningly, painfully thin. When she disrobes to reveal ribs you could play the glockenspiel on and horrible horrible horrible fake boobs, it is a truly unpleasant sight. In fact, every time I looked at her in the film, I couldn't shake the feeling that somewhere there was a crypt going unkept. As if to underline just how much surgery she's had and how bad it's made her look, several times throughout, Sharon stands next to Charlotte Rampling. 12 years older than Stone and seemingly untouched by plastic surgeons, Rampling looks absolutely glorious, radiating a natural beauty Stone couldn't match if she tried. And my God does it look like she tried. One more shot of Botox and the only role Stone will be getting is if they make Mannequin 3: On The Outs.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Is it me, or

Is this one of the best posters in years? The film itself may end up being a big sucky mess, but that is one phenomenal poster.

Alcohol and iPods

How funny that Grouchbutt mentioned in his blog about how great it is when your iPod plays the song you love and how dumb it is to think that because you loaded the iPod with the music in the first place. See, on Thursday night I went out and I got very drunk and on the 45 minute walk home, I listened to my iPod. On my iPod there is a playlist simply titled Miscellaneous which contains B sides, album tracks from albums I didn't like enough to load the whole thing on and also CD singles and downloaded stuff. In other words, miscellany. Anyway, it's 81 tracks long and I decided to put it on shuffle on my walk home and it played me the following:

This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both Of Us - Sparks
There Are Worse Things I Could Do - Alison Moyet
Privilege To Pee - Urinetown
...Baby One More Time - Travis
The Queen & The Soldier (Live) - Suzanne Vega
Unforgivable Sinner - Lene Marlin
All The Wasted Time - Parade

ALL of which I haven't heard in ages and all of which made me very happy. But the last song there, from Parade, I was so drunk and the last part of my walk home is through a park that at pushing midnight was devoid of people. And when I get drunk, I could out-lip synch Lypsinka. And I love All The Wasted Time. And I got terribly carried away in my drunken state. It was fun.

And I needed some fun after what has been a very intense week and included a visit to the cinema to see Basic Instinct 2, a review of which will be coming later today, along with a more detailed overview of my week.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Isn't she rich enough already?

Madonna has announced her new tour schedule and prices. For her UK dates, the top price is a whopping £160, with the cheapest ticket still a monstrously unaffordable £80. Now, I run hot and cold with Madonna but the Re-Invention Tour is the greatest gig I have ever seen and the current album is her strongest in a L O N G time. But come on. The woman has more money than she could ever possibly spend. She could charge £10 a ticket and not even notice. It makes me a little ill that she's charging so much, to be honest. I won't be going.