Watching Kick-Ass is like being trapped in a lift for an hour and a half with the sort of 13-year-old sociopath that dominates YouTube comment threads. “Look at MEEE! Look at what I’m DOING!! Isn’t it just so WRONG?!!! ARE YOU OFFENDED YET??!!!!” Kick-Ass is mildly irritating for about 25% of its running time and boring for most of the rest. Kick-Ass is Watchmen for absolute idiots, which is something of a surprise because up till this point I thought that Zack Snyder’s Watchmen had done a passable job of being Watchmen for absolute idiots. Kick-Ass drips with cynical contempt for its characters and audience, but it’s so patheticly eager to be a bad-boy and so artlessly superficial it can’t evoke any sort of emotional response at all. Kick-Ass really wants to be hated. Instead, the correct reaction is to remember the teachings of Bill, just say it’s rubbish and walk away.

Still, Nic Cage’s Adam West impersonation is quite good fun. RANK: E

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NBA 2K11 (Xbox360)

It appears that sports games with roleplaying elements may be my Kryptonite. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, given that I’ve a long and generally regrettable history of adding roleplaying elements to those sports games in which, strictly speaking, no roleplaying elements existed. In any case, the reason I’ve spent the past few weeks enthralled by a game depicting a sport in which I have little interest and less knowledge can be summed up in three words: “My Player Mode”. It’s strikingly similar to the Be A Pro mode in FIFA 09 which ate so much of my life – you create and control a single player through the course of his professional career, gaining experience points depending on how well you perform which you then use to increase that player’s abilities. And so: DIRK JUSTICE.

YOINK!

Jrue Holiday is momentarily distracted by an imaginary deceased tortoise. JUSTICE! takes full advantage.

The first pick of the second round of the 2011 draft by the New Jersey Nets, at the start of the season he was a tall, quick point guard whose talents included: a) a pretty sweet medium-range jumpshot and b) nothing else. DIRK JUSTICE! spent exactly six games in New Jersey being played out of position, not getting the ball and watching team-mates launch hopeless shots into the first four rows of the crowd before demanding a trade and taking his meagre talents to the Pacific Northwest where he survived as a soldier of fortune. After a few months of development playing as a facilitator and streaky scorer for the Trail Blazers, he has now turned into a tall, quick point guard whose talents include a) an even sweeter medium-range jumpshot b) an awesome Sideshow Bob hairdo / serial killer moustache combo and c) nothing else.

Note the score and game time remaining. This is what is professionally known as "Sticking The Boot In." Or possibly "Suck It, Bryant".

It’s possible that NBA2K11 is a rigorous and authentic recreation of basketball. I haven’t the faintest idea, because I know as much about basketball as Danny Dyer knows about string theory. I just know I love the announcer shouting “HERE’S JUSTICE!!” like an Eighties straight-to-video action movie hero every time I take a jumpshot. I love that different teams and different players play noticably different styles, forcing me to adapt my game to beat them. I love that the game’s a significantly different experience playing as a centre than as a shooting guard. Mostly, I love that enough is out of my control that it emotionally involves me.

That seems a bit counterintuitive, so let me try to explain.

When your player releases a shot in NBA2K11, it has a percentage chance of going in. That chance is based on how far from the basket the shooter is, his skill at that range, whether he’s spotted up or shooting off the dribble, how tight the defence is around him, how well you time the button press to make him release the ball and probably several other factors. No matter how ideal the situation you’ve manufactured to take the shot, no matter how well you time your release you can’t guarantee a basket, only shift the percentages in your favour to a greater or lesser degree. This means every shot gives a small gambler’s thrill when it swishes through the hoop, or a sudden spike of righteous annoyance if it clangs off the rim. Either way, the emotional stakes are increased, either in an “I AM A GOLDEN GOD OF BASKETBALL!” fashion or an “I’LL GET YOU NEXT TIME, GADGET!” sort’ve way. The perfect balance of control to Mongo Only Pawn In Game Of Life is found in My Player mode, where I’m regularly delighted by the play of my AI teammates but even more regularly frustrated with them. Crucially though, I’m usually frustrated by them in fairly predictable ways – Greg Oden’s reluctance to attack the basket or Deron Williams’ monomanaical tendancy to take ridiculous shots, for example. Those tendancies make me mentally assign personalities to algorithms, make me get invested in what I’m doing, make me develop a relationship with the other nine players on court and a relationship with the game itself. This results in the sort of emergent narrative you get playing a game like Championship Manager, where the abstraction and random element both fill in the gaps in the AI, playing into the natural human tendancy to see pattern and design where none actually exist. Essentially, the instinct that makes people turn the shadows cast by curtains flapping in the night breeze into a vengeful ghostly apparition, or made a bunch of frozen Scandinavians decide that lightning hitting trees was thrown by a beardy alcoholic with an enormous hammer is the same instinct that makes me shout at Kevin Love for bricking open but insanely optimistic 3-point attempts. I’d like the game to embrace this even more. When I score or block a shot it makes me feel the overpowering urge to declare my awesomeness / taunt my opposite number. To that end, I wish there were some equivalent of the insanely detailed FIFA goal celebration mechanic in the game – if he sinks a clutch shot it would be nice to have DIRK JUSTICE!!! bounce back up the court doing Sam Cassell’s Testicle Dance, f’rinstance.

Derrick Rose gazes with wistful admiration at the majesty of JUSTICE!!'s hair.

Other nittiest of picks – the commentators aren’t brilliant, there’s way too much repetition and they don’t seem to recognise that season averages will be reduced if you’re not playing full-length games. Hence you hear things like “He’s not a regular scorer, but he’s contributing tonight” when DIRK JUSTICE!!!! is 3rd in the NBA in points per game. Also: in “The Association” mode (the game’s equivalent of a Madden Franchise mode, where you’re in full control of a team, functioning as its GM and coach as well as playing every game) you have the option of reducing the number of games played in a full season from 82 down to 54 or even lower. Bizarrely, that’s not available in My Player mode, you’re forced to grind through a full-length season or nothing. Oh, and why are there no glasses available in the otherwise nicely comprehensive player appearance editor? Amar’e Stoudemire has his excellently stupid goggles present and correct, why can’t DIRK JUSTICE!!!!! have the same? Or even better, Rip Hamilton’s mildly terrifying Phantom Of The Opera facemask?

The hypnotic power of the JUSTICE!!! crotch leads to a simple basket.

These really are trivial complaints. NBA2K11 looks good, feels brilliant and has me shouting at Imaginary Brandon Roy for not JUST TAKING THE BLOODY WIDE-OPEN SHOT THAT I JUST SET HIM UP FOR WHERE ARE YOU GOING? OH MY HUGGING GOD. That’s what I want from a sports game.

RANK: A

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(This is something of an experiment with structure and word-count. Your pardon is pre-emptively begged.)

CRACKDOWN 2 (Xbox 360)

A free-roaming third-person action game, Crackdown 2 casts you as the ultraviolent cyborg enforcer for a fascist police state. Your mission is to keep the citizenry of Pacific City safe by bounding around the streets and rooftops raining ballistic death on the mysterious monstrous “Freaks” who roam the city at night and the malcontents who roam it by day. This is exactly as much fun as it sounds. And a useful insight as to what the country will look like after 5 years of Tory government OMG TEH SATIRE.

Crackdown 2 gives you a big, varied gameworld to fool around in. While the setting lacks the authenticity, nuance and humour of the Grand Theft Auto games which were an obvious influence, Pacific City’s neighbourhoods range from rickety shanty-towns to glittering skyscrapers with each district presenting a different challenge to traverse effectively.  The game has an attractive comic-book aesthetic – all flat colours and thick black outlines – which rather suits its knockabout b-movie storyline and over-the-top action.
 
Sensibly given the multitude of threats it throws at you, Crackdown 2 starts you with superhuman strength, resilience and leaping ability then only makes you stronger as the game goes on. Killing enemies bestows “experience points” which improve whichever method you used to carry out the kill – firearms, explosives, melee or vehicles. Your foot-speed and jumping are primarily increased via collecting “agility orbs” which are scattered on rooftops around the city, the collection of which becomes almost a game in its own right – part free-climbing, part scavenger hunt.  You’re never explicitly directed to carry out a specific mission, rather the game scatters tasks to be performed all over the city and leaves you to pick your own path through them. However, they are all variants on a few basic themes – vehicular checkpoint races, footraces over the rooftops, attacking an enemy base or defending a point from waves of Freak attacks – and even given that moving through the city is fun in and of itself, by about halfway through you have seen everything the game has to offer and the action has begun to feel somewhat samey.

That’s something of a wider theme. Crackdown 2 lives by the motto “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” to an even greater extent than most sequels. This is both its greatest strength and greatest weakness. Crackdown was an awesome game, and everything that made it fun – orb hunting, stronghold assaults, bouncing from spire to billboard to tower like a cybernetic fascist super-kangaroo – has been transferred to Crackdown 2 with a bit of extra polish and some rough edges taken off. I would have no hesitation whatsoever to recommend it to a newcomer to the series. However, anyone who played the original will likely find that the relatively minor additions and innovations aren’t enough to dispel the nagging feeling that you’ve been here and done this before. Personally, it’s been three years since Crackdown and I was ready for another one. Of it. Your milage may vary.

RANK: B

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You know the best thing about being English? It’s that our patron saint is a bloke who was canonised for fighting a flipping DRAGON. It’s a rare and beautiful thing for a country’s saint to so perfectly capture the national character.

Specifically, the character of a self-aggrandising, hopelessly transparant bulldunger.

Because that’s England’s role in the twenty-first century. If the global community were a bar, England would be the beery loudmouth sat in a corner pummelling anyone unfortunate enough to wander into range with shaggy-dog stories of the outrageous and fantastic things he did when he was younger, painfully unaware of how needy and pathetic he sounds. We’re the fatuous git with the bloodshot eyes and gin blossom who so routinely inflates the tales of his past glories that he’s come to believe them himself. We’re the sort of person who pines openly and obnoxiously for The Good Old Days when he was Somebody and young people had respect and you could say what you liked about the birds and the darkies and the fairies without the PC Brigade turning up to cart you away.

England is the Pub Bore Of The World.

This is part of what makes the World Cup so special. Seeing every third house and car decked out with the flag of St. George, to see the country so fervently celebrating the non-existant acheivements of a lying git is a sweet, sweet thing. It’s a nice little reminder that even while the American fundamentalist right wing continues to preach hate in the name of the Prince of Peace, England’s still got a thing or two to teach the world about doltish, unthinking irony. And if that truth’s not worth a bit of chest-thumping tribalism I don’t know what is.

So, you know. If the England football team could see their way clear to extending my state of weary ambivalence by squeaking past Slovenia tomorrow, I wouldn’t object overmuch.

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Unlike many other nerds, I never waste any time wondering what I’ll do when the world is overtaken by zombie apocalypse. This is because I’m a large, slow-moving target with no practical or combat skills and a picky appetite. In the event of things going all Romero my assigned role isn’t as one of the plucky, desperate last remnants of humanity but rather as one of the shambling mindless horde. To be honest, I’ve got Boomer written all over me.

Not that these are zombie movies, of course. The difference between zombies and the “infected” from 28 Days / 28 Weeks Later is both semantic and profound. Zombies symbolise our mortality – they might be slow but they pursue us tirelessly and relentlessly. We can stave them off for a while but in the end there’s no escape, whether through bad choices or bad luck eventually they’re going to get us. There’s also an element of zombies representing our society and specifically our worst impulses – our fears, our hate and/or our greed. Single zombies are easily avoided and almost laughable, it’s only when gathered en masse they become incredibly destructive and dangerous.

You know. Like Leeds fans.

The infected don’t have quite the same flavour. They’re much more of a direct individual threat and especially in the first movie we rarely see them in large groups. And, of course, they run. Key sequences in the opening of both films feature characters fleeing with the infected in hot pursuit.  It’s a threat that feels more personal, more aggressive than that which their forebears present, an impression that’s further heightened by the speed with which victims join their ranks. Unfortunates bitten by zombies generally take hours if not days to die and rise again, but the Rage virus is passed on in seconds. We live in a world where advertising and the media bombards us with the message that we’re all special, that we’re all clever nonconformists, that our opinions matter. These films give us the monsters we deserve, zombies suitable for attention spans eroded by the millions of different ways Western society presents to distract ourselves while the planet falls to ruin.  The infected are suppliers of bespoke carnage for the Me Me Me Now Now Now Generation. Because we’re worth it.

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The problem with protest songs? Too much flippin’ protest. It’s all very well telling the poor to take courage and the rich to take care, but that rings a bit hollow after you’ve just spent the last six verses pointing out how very bloody badly standing up to The Powers That Be generally works out for The Little People.

This election hasn’t left me angry, it’s left me with the exact same feeling that comes with England’s inevitable quarter-final tournament exit. You know the one. I knew the odds were against the right result, I knew that defeat was more-or-less completely inevitable but the big prize was so close and there were just enough positive signs that I’d allowed the first glimmerings of optimism to overcome the wisdom of experience.

It’s not the despair. I can take the despair. It’s the hope I can’t stand.

Shouting and screaming and stamping my little feet feels wildly inappropriate. I’m more in the mood for embracing the powerlessness that my face has just been rubbed in, and sulkily pointing out that I didn’t break this country – it was this way when I found it.

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A few years ago, I read a biography of the late Bill Hicks. Despite knowing from the off what the ending was likely to be (I mean, it’s hinted at pretty strongly by that “the late” part) the last chapter left me inconsolable. The impossibly cruel timing of his impossibly premature death, just as his career was starting to take off after years of toil in relative anonymity, hit me like a kick to the stomach.

See also: Control.

I really, really have to be in the right mood before I’ll sit down in front of a movie I know is going to be a bit of a tough watch. That’s the reason why American History X was on the shelf for the better part of two years before even getting its shrinkwrap removed, it’s the reason why I’ve seen Magnolia a grand total of three times despite it being one of my five favourite movies and it’s the reason why I hadn’t watched Control even though a chum had leant me the DVD an embarassing number of months ago, well before before I conceived the notion of the grand folly for which there really must be a better name than The Great DVD Project.

Suggestions on a postcard to the usual address.

I’d already hung on to the film for a shamefully long time so slotting it in down the order in its “correct” place (between Constantine and Coraline, as it goes) wasn’t really an option. So before I could start grinding away precious hours of my brief mortal span in earnest I had to clear the decks, and that meant manning up, sitting down and watching a film that I really wanted to see about a band that I absolutely love.

I’m pathetic, honestly.

To my complete non-surprise, Control is a terrific piece of work.  The quote on the box reads “The coolest British movie of 2007″, and it’s hard to imagine a review that could be more misleading whilst remaining more-or-less factually accurate. “Love, laughs and lessons in life set to a foot-tapping eighties soundtrack”, maybe. The phrase “a cool British film” makes me think of brashness and glamour and excitement, of beautiful people and sharp clothes and snappy dialogue. It makes me think of Velvet Goldmine or The Italian Job, basically.

Control is pretty much the opposite of The Italian Job.

Watching it is like listening to I Remember Nothing – it’s fragile and beautiful but relentlessly oppressive, a slow shuffle to breaking point punctuated by moments of frustrated anguish and rage.

I can apppreciate why that might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

In a film filled with strong performances Sam Riley’s central turn as Ian Curtis stands out as something special, awkward and delicate and haunted and deeply, deeply sad. It’s a portrayal of an obviously troubled young man that’s carefully understated yet completely magnetic. Every time he was on-screen I genuinely had a hard time looking anywhere else.  As the film goes on the sense of Curtis being ground down by the pressures of the world and by his own failings and frailties grows and grows until tragedy is unavoidable.

Joy Division’s music greatly aids the depiction of its singer’s mental and social disintegration of course, but the reverse is also true. Love Will Tear Us Apart is now so overplayed it’s become a cliché but when it’s used here, when it’s placed against context of Ian and Debbie Curtis’ marriage falling to pieces the song suddenly regains all the meaning and emotional impact that familiarity stole from it. The sweetness and heartbreak of it come rushing in all over again.

If you need a better recommendation to see Control than “it’ll make you hear arguably the greatest pop song ever written like it’s the first time”, consult your GP immediately.

Fantastic as Control is, it did cause me a problem – specifically, being wide awake at 1am on Easter Saturday having just been pretty thoroughly bummed out (ooh-er Matron, etc). However, an obvious solution did suggest itself – I was now free to begin my ascent of Mount Pointless Distraction. So what was at the top of the pile? A Better Tomorrow? 300? 28 Days Later?

Nope. 24 Hour Party People, the 2002 biopic of former Factory Records boss Tony Wilson. Or to put it another way, the other film that prominently features a fictionalised account of the rise and fall of Joy Division.

Damn you synchronicity my old nemesis, once again you have defeated me!

Now, on a good day with a following wind my taste in music lags about three years behind the cool kids. On most days it’s closer to ten years behind the weird kids that get sniggered at almost behind their backs. Every single significant musical movement of my teenage years passed by with barely a nod in my direction, and the rise of Madchester was absolutely no exception. While schoolfriends were getting into the Happy Mondays and Stone Roses I was busy developing a mild obsession with absolutely Godawful American perm-rock that’s been more embarassing and difficult to get rid of than a cold sore. A year or so later a mate who worked at the local games shop leant me his record collection for the last weekend before he moved away to Romford and kickstarted a passion for mid-eighties goth that would heroically shepherd me through the shoegaze, grebo, grunge and Britpop eras without the slightest threat of credibility. My parents bought me my first CD player for my 17th birthday in late 1992, giving me the ideal opportunity to restart my music collection and carry out a Stalinist purge of the Roxette albums and dad-rock best-ofs that were my first flirtations with pop in my early teens.

The first CDs I bought? All About Eve’s first album, Floodland by The Sisters Of Mercy and Slippery When Wet. Cool Britannia really was just something that happened to other people.

I digress. Massively and self-indulgently. Here’s the point – if you’ve slogged through the last couple of paragraphs you’ll have no problem believing that when I first watched 24 Hour Party People I had no idea who Tony Wilson was, beyond being that bloke with the floppy hair and incredibly smug manner who’d appear infrequently on ITV as an all-purpose frontcreature. Finding out that he was the bloke who’d discovered Joy Division was surreal and a bit disorientating – it was like hearing for the first time that teatime TV demigod Bob Holness had been the saxophone player on Baker Street.

Except, you know. True.

24 Hour Party People does two difficult things incredibly well. Firstly, it manages to portray Tony Wilson as one of the single most irritating, difficult,  grandiloquent men in the history of pop music without making him seem unsympathetic. In this respect, casting Steve Coogan was a stroke of genius. After all, he’s made a career out of coaxing reluctant affection from audiences for characters who are deluded, massively monomanaical and generally reprehensible. There’s certainly more than a pinch of Alan Partridge in this version of Wilson, most obviously when he almost pulls out of creating the first Factory night because the club owner’s name is too similar to his own (“There’ll be Tony 1 and Tony 2. Can you not see how that’s a problem? Straight away there’s a hierarchy“). Like Partridge, Wilson’s intial success and inevitable downfall are both rooted in his overweening ambition. Like Partridge, most of the time we’re laughing at him rather than with him. Like Partridge, there’s something about Wilson’s Quixotic tilting at windmills, his repeated refusal to accept his own limitations or the status quo, that makes him oddly but genuinely appealing.

My favourite moment in the film comes when Tony Wilson is at his lowest ebb, just he’s left by his first wife and Ian Curtis has committed suicide. Walking down a Manchester street he’s accosted by a homeless man (played by the ninth Doctor) quoting a 6th century Christian philosopher:

BOETHIUS: It’s my belief that history is a wheel. “Inconsistency is my very essence,” says the wheel. “Rise up on my spokes if you like but don’t complain when you’re cast back down into the depths. Good times pass away, but then so do the bad. Mutability is our tragedy, but it’s also our hope – the worst of times, like the best, are always passing away.”

Coogan’s delivery of the reply – a silent beat then “I know” – is wonderful. It’s both arrogant and vulnerable, both funny and heartbreaking. This is Tony Wilson’s moment of doubt on the cross and in two words you learn everything you need to know about him as a character.

To quote Wilson himself, though, he is a minor character in his own story. 24 Hour Party People is primarily a film about music, about musicians and the about their environment. This is the second difficult thing that it gets right – it makes Manchester circa 1979-1990 seem a genuinely exciting place. The film isn’t really interested in getting the facts right – often, it openly and gleefully deviates from historical events. What it’s interested in is getting the mood right. And it succeeds. From the first Joy Division gig (“The intro doesn’t normally go on this long, I think our singer’s in the toilet”) to the exhilarating, strangely moving last night of the Haçienda there’s a great sense of place and a greater sense of something new and revolutionary being created.

If you had no specific knowledge of either Control or 24 Hour Party People you might expect it to be tedious and /or tough to watch the same tragic story twice in quick succession. You would be completely wrong. The two movies compliment each other brilliantly – they could, in fact, almost be seen as companion pieces. Control is a eulogy. It’s grim and grey and grounded, intently focussed on the characters of Ian and Debbie Curtis. 24 Hour Party People is a celebration. It’s light and arch and vivid and completely, gloriously all over the shop. Both films are utterly fantastic.

Control
RANK: A.

24 Hour Party People
RANK: A.

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So. That was pretty good, wasn’t it?

A long way from being perfect, obviously – the story was pretty ploddingly predictable, with the only minor suprise being the “going away is good, staying away is better” incident. It lapsed a bit into distinctly RTD-ish technobabble as the story neared an end. The whole interaction between the Doctor and the little girl didn’t quite ring true for me, although it’s entirely possible that’s just because I’ve got no soul. The “Doctor Time” stop-motion thing were we’re shown him sifting through what he’s seeing to find the telling off-key detail was a bit gimmicky, went on too long and has been done before in slightly different form by seemingly every detective drama on US telly. If there’s one thing I don’t want Doctor Who to do, it’s remind me of an episode of flippin’ CSI.

Also: remixing the theme music – good idea, absolutely Godawful execution.

More importantly though it was funny, it had just enough emotional heft (“Why did you say six months?” “Why did you say five minutes?”), Matt Smith and Karen Gillan work brilliantly together and despite being a bit disappointing in “Episodes Written By Stephen Moffat” terms it was by leaps and bounds the best season opener in the NewWho era.

Between the episode itself and the rather spiffy “Coming Soon” montage that followed, my feelings toward the new series have been upgraded from “cautious optimism” to “understated but genuine excitement”. Please adjust your watches accordingly.

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Well, that was a productive use of a couple of hours of my Friday night.

Look upon my works ye socially adequate and despair.

Look upon my works ye socially adequate and despair.

Best guess, that’s the better part of 300 DVDs and 500 or so hours sitting there. We’re only including feature films not TV series, standup sets or music DVDs. There is still some debate as to whether we should be watching every DVD in the house (and subjecting ourselves to Blue Man III’s petrol-station bargain-bucket action/light horror collection, or Ms. Blue Man’s diabolical taste in romcoms) or just the stuff that either Mrs. Blue Man or myself voluntarily bought.

Number Of DVDs Still Shrinkwrapped: 6 (Anvil! The Story Of Anvil, Cruel Intentions, KIll Bill vol. 1, Kill Bill vol. 2, Terminator 2, Velvet Goldmine)

Number Of DVDs That I Know We Own That Have Mysteriously Gone Walkabout: 5 (28 Weeks Later, Almost Famous: Untitled Edition, Batman Begins, Bulletproof Monk, Pirates Of The Caribbean)

Number Of DVDs That I Had No Idea We Owned: 2 (Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End, Underworld: Rise Of The Lychans)

Number Of Films That We Own At Least Two Copies Of: 11 (A Matter Of Life And Death, Blade Runner, The Longest Yard, Mission Impossible 2, Reservoir Dogs, Jackie Brown, True Romance, Goodfellas, Fellowship Of The Ring, The Two Towers, Return Of The King)

DVD That I’m Most Embarassed To Admit Owning: Dead heat between Bring It On and Basic Instinct 2.

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Sorry so long without a post but hey, it’s not like you’re not used to frequent inexplicable losses of signal from this direction, is it?

Here’s a measure of how eventful and thrilling my life’s been in the time I’ve been away: I’m seriously considering trying to re-watch my entire DVD collection. In alphabetical order. The drawbacks I can see to this plan are a) it would would mean watching Alien, Alien 3, Alien Resurrection then Aliens, and b) it would mean watching Batman & Robin.

Anyway, some stuff that’s been great that I’ve discovered in the last three months:

The latest Metric album (especially Gold Guns Girls). The latest Raveonettes album (especially Heart Of Stone). Moon. Mount & Blade. The latest Yeah Yeah Yeahs album (especially Dragon Queen). The Incredible Hercules. Drag Me To Hell. The Sounds (especially No-One Sleeps When I’m Awake). Castle. Lloyd Doyley’s first ever senior goal. Forza Motorsport 3 (especially after finally working out how to use the XBox steering wheel I got for Christmas last year and has been lying shamefully unused since because of my general hamfistedness. Turns out I just needed some patient tutoring. Actually, one sentence of impatient tutoring. Actually, just my wife saying “You’re turning that wheel like you’re driving a hugging clown car”). The second series of Being Human. The second series of Newswipe. Pretty much everything Gail Simone’s written for DC Comics, especially her brilliant brilliant work on Birds Of Prey, Wonder Woman and Secret Six. The Answer Me This podcast. Lego Rock Band. Snow. Oh, and the iPhone.

Some stuff that’s not been great in the last three months:

Champions Online. Work. The Doctor Who Christmas special. The end of the best coverage of any sport on UK telly as Channel Five show (probably) their last Yankee Helmetball game. The Digital Economy bill. All car insurance ads in the history of all things, ever. Flash Forward. The iPhone’s battery life when you’re playing games on it.

So yeah. Alive and reasonably well. Further updates to follow. Eventually.

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