Wednesday, June 25, 2008

It's too bad they don't have any oil

The USA has responded to the absolutely horrific situation in Zimbabwe. They are ignoring it. Well done, USA! That'll show Robert Mugabe who's boss. Sweet everloving Christ.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Shrieking Of The Gulls

I know I have blogged about them before, but this year the nest of seagulls atop the building next door are absolutely excelling themselves. It has gone from being an irritating and unlovely sound that occasionally pierces my deep sleep to a blood curdling cacophony. Imagine an ambulance siren raping a cat before butchering some children and you're part of the way there. It's just insane and they are starting as early as 3am at the moment, which means I am one tired out homo right now. And in a bid to try and make my work life more tolerable, I've been put in charge of a couple of projects, presumably to make me feel important or something. Whatever, it's shit timing as I can barely drag myself through the day with 15 cups of coffee and matchsticks holding my eyes open. Fun.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The gays: Officially different

A new report has found that the brain chemistry of gays and lesbians resemble those of straight people of the opposite sex. To every gay man and lesbian reading this, it is not news. It's validation. The more studies like this, the more we move towards people no longer calling gayness a lifestyle choice.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

PCB's Television Round-Up 2008. Part 3


Now that is what I call a comeback. When it debuted in 2004, Lost was the shit. After its amazing first season it then spent a season and a half pissing on the audience's goodwill and losing itself that all important definite article. Midway through season 3, things began to change and the show picked up a momentum it had been sorely lacking, before delivering the best season finale of last year.

And now, the shows fourth season. Minimally affected by the strike that felled so many shows this year, Lost only lost three episodes from its season order. Starting as it meant to go on, within moments of the opening episode, we were told that only six people make it off the island. As well as being 90% flash forwards this season, which finally started to fill in the gaps that even the Lost devotees had begun to wonder whether the writers just didn't know how to fill them, it also didn't pull its punches this year either (raise your hand if you thought they wouldn't shoot Ben's daughter. Yeah, me neither). It was a thrilling and gripping season, must see television in a way it hasn't been since it rode the zeitgeist into our brains back in 2004. The double episode season finale may have suffered slightly from the fact it didn't really tell us anything we hadn't already been able to work out, but it did set up a clear arc for the show's final two seasons and answered the "who's funeral?" question from last year into the bargain. February has never seemed so far away.


Yes yes, I know season 4 is about to start in the US and season 3 did actually finish here some weeks ago, but I somehow neglected to blog about it. While the show was airing in the US, a few friends who watched it were telling me how the first half of the season was just flat out terrible but it picked up towards the end. I don't agree. I thought the show's third season was fantastic from start to finish. Fantastic writing, stupendous performances, flawless direction and the best theme song ever, who could ask for anything more? Ok so some of the subplots were a little rushed (Andy's foray into porn for example) and some supporting characters weren't really given room to breathe properly (Maulik Pancholy) but these are fairly minor quibbles in the grand scheme of things. Now the show is moving out of Agrestic, it will be interesting to see where the 4th season goes and who it takes with it.

Pushing Daisies

I have already blogged about my discontent of ITV and their insane decision to excise an episode from the premiere showing of this show. Apparently it wasn't annoying enough that this was already strike shortened down to just 9 episodes. Whatever. Undeniably the most original show to come along in many a year, this quirky show could have gone very badly wrong. Instead it went very right indeed, striking the right balance of humour and drama, with just one problem: that fucking voiceover. I don't mind a narrator, but I don't need said narrator to ham fistedly point out the emotional subtlety going on, when the actors are doing a perfectly good job of telling it themselves. If the show's second season cuts that back and also brings focus back around to Charlotte's story, then I won't have any complaints at all.


Another new show that has a premise which could have gone terribly, dreadfully wrong. And the very first few episodes were so uncertain in their tone that there was every possibility the show could spin of its axis into crapdom. Luckily for all concerned, the writers found their groove, the cast all settled in to their roles and everything worked out marvellously. Ray Wise as the Devil is utter genius in casting. Anyone who saw him as Leland Palmer has always been a little terrified of him anyway (or is that just me?) and so it was great to see him clearly having so much fun with this role. And any show that brings on two gay characters and has the three main straight male lead characters love hanging out with them and not have their sexuality be an issue is absolutely fine by me. Of course, they were also demons but they were good demons. Anyway, this was one show that was risking cancellation but has mercifully been renewed as a mid season replacement for 13 episodes. Here's hoping that season pulls it out of the hat and ups its viewing figures.

The Big Bang Theory

This show should not be funny. At best it should be mildly amusing, another take on a tired scenario (a guy has a crush on a girl miles out of his league). At worst this should have been flat out embarrassing to watch. Instead, it was the funniest sitcom I have seen in a long time. Jim Parsons can take an awful lot of that credit, his performance as Sheldon Cooper is comedy gold. The writing is so sharp and well observed but crucially it's never mean to the geeky quartet at its core. You're never really laughing AT them, you know? The high point of the show's debut season though simply has to be Laurie Metcalfe's appearance as Sheldon's no-nonsense mother. That episode alone provided me with more mirror quotes than most other shows can muster in a season. Bring on season 2.


I mentioned mirror quotes up there. My crazy roommate was given crayons that write on anything and wipe clean with no fuss no mess for her birthday a couple of years ago. We use them to write quotes from tv shows on the bathroom mirror that we find particularly amusing for one reason or another. Currently, the mirror quote is "A black girlfriend trumps a Nazi father" from Dirt's second season. Everything that was wrong about the show's first season was put to rights here. The ridiculous schizophrenia was dropped from Ian Hart's character for one thing. Unfortunately, the second season ran to just 7 episodes thanks to the fucking strike. Even more annoyingly, it would seem I am in a minority in thinking the second season was leaps and bounds better than the first. Viewers switched off in droves and FX have pulled the plug on it so there will be no season 3. Frustrating.

Dirty Sexy Money

Another brand new show whose debut season was halved by the writers strike. Peter Krause's first show since the end of Six Feet Under, and it's a corker. Full of characters you should hate but don't (or do hate but in the way you're narratively supposed to), this show also pushed the envelope with the transsexual storyline they included. It seems they may have lost their bottle with it though as said transsexual has been "disappeared" but who knows what season 2 will bring. I did find it confusing that both Elle Fanning and Brooke Smith were replaced by different actresses when their characters reappeared though.

Sweet CHRIST I watch a lot of television. There are at least three shows still running too.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Flavors of Brilliance

I think at this point in her career, it's fair to say that Jagged Little Pill has more fans than Alanis Morissette does. The 1995 "debut" (it was actually her third album) was a world dominating bazillion seller that her subsequent releases have not matched. Of her remaining fan base, the vast majority of them are patiently awaiting a new album that outclasses Pill. I say vast majority because, for me, her 1998 sophomore album is an absolute masterpiece. It left a lot of Pill lovers cold and I don't know if it is because when it was released I was battling with depression and trying to fend off some sort of mental breakdown (I eventually failed. I'm better now.) and so the album's darker themes connected with me on a more fundamental level, but I genuinely think that Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie is a towering achievement. So it's pleasing that, almost a full ten years later, she has delivered something that is every bit as good. Not only that, but it also sees her branching out from her musical comfort zone every now and again with a new and different sound. A sound that, to quote her directly "will make you want to dance your face off."

"Citizen Of The Planet"

The opening track is also the album's most uncertain. It's old Alanis, with ethnic influences and a prominent guitar but it's also a little unfocused lyrically.


The lead single and also the first nod to the newer, dancier direction Morissette has decided to explore. You've heard it already and if you like it then you're gonna love the album.


Starting off in an old Alanis style, with her asking over a loud guitar who you're addressing "with such fucking disrespect", this proceeds to be New Alanis and be a superb upbeat number that makes me want to dance every time I hear it, gloriously at odds with its more serious lyrics.

"Versions Of Violence"

Old Alanis is back with a loud brash rock song which seems to be about how people can be so horrific to each other in the most subtle of ways.

"Not As We"

The first ballad (just Alanis and a piano) and also the first song on the album to address her break up with Ryan Reynolds. It's absolutely beautiful and more than a little heartbreaking when it gets to the chorus and she sings about faking the fact she's making it while starting over but "I as I and not as we".

"In Praise Of The Vulnerable Man"

There's something oddly summery about the sound of this bouncy little song. Lyrically it does exactly what the title suggests.


More New Alanis. This is another song exploring the dance side of things that again melds brilliantly with Old Alanis lyrics. Another Ryan Reynolds inspired one as Morissette declares a break from anything and everything to do with relationships. It's also the song that the album title is culled from. Brilliant.


Another Ryan ballad. I wonder how he feels having so many songs written about him? Anyway, this is the flip side to "Bees Of My Knees" as Alanis details all the things she misses about her ex and how she never envisaged it ending the way it has.

"Giggling Again For No Reason"

New Alanis at her most successful, this is a fucking brilliant track that will make you smile when you hear it and if you can keep your feet still while it's on, then it might be because you're dead.


Old Alanis is back with a song about having a tape loop of crazy thoughts playing in her head, over which she has no control. I can relate to that.


Old Alanis sticks around lyrically but New Alanis is back with her poppy upbeat music for this track that focuses on the fact that no matter how fab everything in her life might be, there's always the nagging suspicion that there's something missing.


Disc 2 sees much more Old Alanis. This song does have a vaguely dancey beat but not overly so and the lyrics are very self reflective about how she's perceived and treated versus who she really is. Which is not to say I don't like it because of course I totally do.

"The Guy Who Leaves"

This has a much more forceful and darker presence yet somehow manages to be a dance influenced track too. Possibly another Ryan Reynolds inspired one, discussing how until she's truly happy, she's going to drive people who love her away from her with incessant neediness.


A beautiful track. Another possible Ryan one as it details how he brought a madness in her, one that stuck around after he left and how that allowed her to see herself from outside herself and view all her faults. Harsh.

"Limbo No More"

Another reflective song about how she's never really given anything in her personal life her all, and so she's always felt like she's in limbo but now she's really ready for that feeling to be over.

"On The Tequila"

In case you're thinking she's a right dreary bitch, this is a happy smiley pop song about getting smashed with your girlfriends on the titular beverage. Fun, frothy, fabulous.

"It's A Bitch To Grow Up" (iTunes bonus track)

It's easy to forget that Morissette is only 34 as she's been massively famous for a full 13 years now. Here's a little ditty about feeling "raked over coals" and having enough of it all. Is there ANYONE who's enjoyed the aging process?

And there you have it. 17 tracks, some more outstanding than others, but all of them fantastically accomplished. If you're already a fan, this will be on repeat for months. And if you aren't a fan, well, I hope this new CD doesn't inspire you to the murderous rages her previous ones have.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Naked Farmer for June

I'm a little late with this one as June sort of snuck up on me. But yeah, I got nothing.