Sunday, July 25, 2010

Usher Interview

Each week, I'll be trying to interview a fashion, art, music, or cinema personality. They'll deliver their feelings on the most special day of the week: Sunday. This week, the singer Usher answered my questions via telephone from his penthouse suite in Atlanta.

What do you wear on Sundays?

This morning, I am only wearing a smile! Yes I am completely naked. I like the freedom. Sometimes, I wear pyjamas. Also, trousers & a shirt. Maybe a hat. If I'm going out, I might wear a pair of low slung jeans and an 'Usher' tour shirt.

What do you eat on Sundays?

That’s the day I cook for the entire neighbourhood. I invite my block over to my urban one acre farm/petting zoo. We herd goats into the 'killing zone,' a area fenced off with upturned pallets. Then we spear them to death. We make a type of sausage from the blood, I think you call it black pudding in your country? Then my friend Royston, he's a butcher, cuts and skins the goats. We barbecue them over coals. The hindquarters, the ribs. We throw the heads and tails to our dogs to rip up. It's quite a scene.

Have you ever had any trouble from animal rights activists?

They don't know 'bout it.

What do you watch on TV on Sunday?

Cartoons or the Antiques Roadshow, maybe bit of Last of the Summer Wine. And Heartbeat. Yeah, we get all your UK shows in Atlanta! Or I get my homies in Croydon to burn me copies and send them over.

What do you drink on Sundays?

Hmmmm.. a pint of tea, then some Guinness Extra. When we're barbecuing the goat we usually down a bottle of Buckfast tonic wine and smear the goats blood on our faces. Sunday evenings, things get pretty messy and I'll drink anything. Sometimes, you find me on the corner with a can of Special Brew. I love all that UK culture.

The people you see on Sunday?

Hmm.... I see the people from the neighbourhood. But you know that Derek Hatton, former deputy leader of Liverpool City Council? Expelled from the British Labour party for militant tendencies? Well, he is in Atlanta now. He is my homeboy, we chill together in my crib. And when his mate Arthur Scargill is in town we all hang out, smoke some reefer, kick back to some R & B. We're all working together on some new songs about the plight of the manual labourer and lack of union involvement in the workplace. Uh-uh.

Who do you dream would wake you up on Sunday?

I'd like to be woken by Jane Fonda circa 1970. She could wake me up by licking my frenulum. The frenulum is is an elastic band of tissue under the glans that connects to the prepuce or foreskin to the vernal mucosa, and helps contract the prepuce over the glans.

You mean the banjo string?

If you want to be crude you could call it that.

This interview is terminated.

Thanks Usher, have a great Sunday.

You too. (at this point there is a great crashing sound on the phone line and muffled shouting.)

You still there Usher? Are you OK?

Yeah, it's cool. Derek Hatton just fell over the lead to my vacuum cleaner and bust his head on the wall. It was pretty funny actually.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Movie Review: Inception

****Many Spoilers Alert******

I enjoyed the start and end of this movie.

Old Dog's Mess Leonardo Di Caprio leads a crack team of people who go inside your dreams and mess around with them for a fee.

He needs an extra recruit so he gets the girl out of Juno. Last time she was playing a pregnant sixteen year old. Now she's playing a genius architecture undergraduate who looks about twelve years old, I felt like a paedo every time she came on screen.

Irishman Cillian Murphy is a humourless Aussie in this movie.

Michael Caine has a pointless cameo as Di Caprio's dad. He has maybe five lines. He could have youtubed his performance in, if he happened to live near an airport departure lounge & a lecture theatre, the locations of his two scenes.

I recognized most of the other actors but couldn't name them.

Her out of Juno is recruited to build architecture in dreams. Di Caprio's gang enter people's minds and nick industrial secrets by taking loads of drugs and wiring themselves up to machines.

Only on this mission, they have to enter Cillian Murphy's mind and make him divide up his late fathers business into many small parts, at the behest of a Japanese rival businessman. So the Japanese fella can win at business.

A bit like the boss of Tesco's persuading the boss of Sainsbury's to divide up groceries and clothing and furnishings and stationary into different stores.

(I don't know why they need to enter his dreams to do this, I could have given it a decent shot with a PowerPoint session and a night at a lapdancing club.)

So the gang enters his dreams to persuade him to do so.

The very disappointing thing about all this, is that these subconscious noodlings just involve many sequences of Bruce Willis/007 action happenings. Lots of bang bang, shoot shoot , things crashing into things, things falling off things in industrial landscapes.

Because it's the subconscious some basic laws of physics are mildly affected - things happen more slowly and there's the odd fight in midair. Didn't we see that in 'The Matrix'?

But the filmmakers had the entire weight of Holywood CGI to create a dreamworld.

Where's the melting clocks?

Where's the slicing up eyeballs, uh uh ho ho?

In short, the dreamworld is just endless gun battles. Where's the fantasy element? No-one's dreams are endless gun battles, not even Jean Claude Van Damme's. Where's the surreality?

Old Juno-bake may be called Ariadne, but there's nothing here to compete with the terrifying genius fables the Greeks created 3,000 years ago, with their beautiful seductive white bulls and half-man, half-creatures and the nine-yearly sacrifice of virgins.

Just lots of explosions. Like, storming the fortress of someone's subconscious involves storming an actual fortress. It's a very literal dreamworld.

The denouement is better, where Di Caprio and Juno go into a collapsing dreamy city in the manner of Douglas Coupland's Girlfriend in a Coma to get to heart of the former's marital problems.

But overall, it's an opportunity missed.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Strange Sights

Walking into Bangor along Groomsport Road, a taxi pulled into Ballyholme beach car park. Nothing strange about that, except the taxi had a southern registration - "An MhĂ­," or Meath I believe it is in English. This was confirmed by the sign on top which said "Meath Cabs."

It pulled up by the beachside. A man got out of the driver's side door. He was a tall, slightly rotund, bearded man, with a crown of long, curly greying hair. A bit like a tubbier Billy Connolly. Two small young dark boys got out as well. I heard them refer to the big fella as 'Daddy.'

'Lets go Daddy!' they said. And then they all stripped down to their underwear. It was a showery day, and it had just started to rain heavily.

As he was removing his trousers, the man looked at me. I looked at him. And then he said, "Sorry, did you say something?" in what I took to be a broad Meath accent.

I replied "No, I didn't say anything." Because I hadn't. I was thinking a number of things, but I hadn't said anything. Then I did say something. "Long old drive from Meath, that's some fare those young fellas have totted up!" I remarked in what I hoped was a humorous fashion.

In response, he turned his back on me and waved a dismissive hand, as if being stripped to his underpants in a car park in north County Down, far from home, on a damp afternoon, was the most natural thing in the world.

The rain got heavier. As if in response, he and his two sons ran into the sea. I walked on. As I went out of sight, I looked back to see them wading about in the sea up to their chests in the soaking rain. They looked as if they were having a good time. They had the beach to themselves.

I'd like to know the story behind this. Did the gentleman get up in the morning and say to his sons, "Stuff the taxiing today lads, pile in, we're going north!" I do hope so.


I went into Bangor and did my messages. The weather improved and it became warm and sunny. On the way home I saw the second strange thing of the day. In Ballyholme Park, there were a bunch of Italians. I know they were Italians, as I have a smattering of their tongue.

On a small hillock was a stern faced, grey haired gentleman. He had a little digital video camera set up on a tripod. Below were a bunch of teenagers, about ten in number, male and female.

The elderly gentleman barked some orders in his native language and the teens took up what seemed like prearranged positions below. Then they began to dance in set moves. The tune they were dancing to was the theme from 'Fame' - you know, 'Fame, I'm gonna live forever.' But they didn't have any sort of sound system, they were singing the tune in English as they danced.

Soon, the teens collapsed in a huge fit of giggles. The stern faced gentleman didn't laugh. He seemed aggrieved at this. He barked out some more orders, which I took to mean 'Lets take it again from the top,' as the kids all resumed their original positions. After he gave them another order, they recommenced the dance as before.

What was going on?

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Taliban House

Yesterday, I went to Poundland and bought two powerful magnifying glasses.

Then I bought some varnish. From Price Attack, because Poundland didn't have any. I also bought some superglue and the strong adhesive known as liquid nails.

In my garage, I have a number of planks of wood. I'm going to cut these down to maybe one foot long, half a foot across.

On these pieces of wood I'm going to write some fictional addresses in felt-tip pen, in my best signwriter's hand:



Then, on a hot sunny day, I'm going to burn over the writing with the magnifying glass by focusing the solar rays on the writing on the wood surface. All careful, like.

Next, I shall varnish over my signs and leave them to dry.

In the middle of the night, I'm going to go around various government buildings in town and stick these signs next to their doorways. Buildings like the Bru (that's the dole office to non-native speakers,) the Housing Executive, the rates office, and maybe the old telephone exchange.

Just imagine the employees' faces next morning! And the worried emails flying between departments, asking who decided to rename their office "QUIMLY HOUSE."

It'll be well worth the conviction for criminal damage/extraordinary rendering I receive when they google this and catch up with me.

Clive Tyldsley and Jim Beglin

At the start of the Holland - Uruguay match, Clive Tyldsley claimed "Uruguay last made the semi-finals in 1970, before these players were even thought of."

How can he know that for sure?

For instance, the oldest player in the squad, Andres Scotti, was born in 1975.

How does Clive know that Mr and Mrs Scotti were not trying fruitlessly to have children for several years before the joyful birth of Andres?

Or perhaps they had decided to see how things went career wise for a few years before starting a family.

Or perhaps Andres has older brothers or sisters and his birth was just a natural progression, maybe based on the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

All I'm saying is, I hope Clive did the necessary research before making such a bold claim. We all remember the scandals involving Blue Peter, Ant & Dec and This Morning. For sure.

Vale Jim Beglin. He wasn't ill. He's dead. He came out for his hotel room late one night and bumped into Kevin Keegan in the corridor. Jim thought he'd seen a ghost and dropped down dead from fright. Marcel Desailly fed him to the lions in a game reserve, not sure why.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Revenge on Neighbour

Often on Sunday mornings, I lie in bed and say 'Oh Lord, I want to die, I want to die.' in a groaning voice.

This is because I've had too much to drink the night before and I get the most amazing hangovers. My head pounds like the Ballymacarret Loyal Defenders are practising their Lambeg skills inside my cranium.

I might also call out 'Oh Lord, I want to die, I want to die' for the additional mental anguish as the terrible and stupid things I did the night before come back and haunt me. Like trying to do sex with other men's' wives. Or stealing a bottle of Rose wine (Blossom Hill) offa large lady at Groomsport festival as I did on Saturday, causing her to angrily bawl me out (I thought she'd gone home, I really did.)

Anyway, one Saturday night a few months ago I was having a rare night off the devil's buttermilk and was lying in bed listening to the shipping forecast on the radio, as you do. I had the window open and heard a bit of noise from next door as my neighbour was having a few friends over for a drink.

I wasn't really listening as they were just being the usual loud and lairy drunk folk. Indeed, I was just about to close the window to block them out, when suddenly I became aware that my neighbour was doing an impression of me!

'Oh Lord, I want to die, I want to die,' he was saying in mock agonised tones and laughingly telling his dreadful mates about my behaviour.

Well, I angrily slammed my window and went to sleep.

In the intervening months, I have exchanged pleasantries with this gentleman. About the weather and our respective gardens and that. But I have never forgotten the remarks he made.

So when I arrived home on Saturday night/Sunday morning in the wee small hours, and found him having another drinking party, I saw my chance for revenge.

In my garden, I have a rose arch. It has a big bushy rose and a honeysuckle growing up around it. Inside is a bust of Julius Caesar. That's not really relevant, I'm just painting you the picture. My neighbour was in his garden behind his hedge with his drunken mates, about ten feet away.

Now I don't really know anything about the bloke, his name or his habits (apart from smoking) or employer or anything. But I do know that he has a bald head.

So I nestled down in the deep foliage beside Caesar and the the rose and the honeysuckle and sang him a song:

"Oh Bald Headed Neighbour

Bullet Headed Man

Smooth Head, Smooth Head,

Billiard-Ball Headed Man

Look at your moon head"

etc etc.

I can't tell you the tune because I made it up. Think mournful Irish air/Japanese national anthem.

After I sang it for a bit, the party fell silent and listened to me. I can't tell you their reaction, because I was still rather drunk and just kept on singing and singing about his bald head.

Then I crept inside and made a sandwich and fell asleep.

When I awoke the next day I had a hangover and began groaning 'Oh Lord, I want to die, I want to die.'

Saturday, July 03, 2010

My dream the other night

I met a bearded Greek guy up near the Flagship Centre.

He was on a bicycle.He asked me if there were any good hotels in the area.

I personally took him round all the hotels in Bangor but they were full. So I told him he could stay at my house. I gave him my spare room.

He was slightly irritating and humourless but this was no excuse for what happened next.

Reader, I murdered him.

I got up in the early dawn and bashed him over the head with a hammer, then smothered him with the pillow.

Seeing no way out of the resulting crime-based dilemma, I went out to the garage and hanged myself with spare boot laces which I knotted together. From the rafters. I was weeping as I died.

As you can imagine, I awoke full of the joys of summer.