VSX, A shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist: Starbuck Powersurge - a young loner on a crusade to champion the cause of Viper Squad Ten, a long-disbanded group of stranded timetravelling troubadours, formed to help finance repairs to their time-machine. Now very much stuck in C21...
All text is copyright the Viper Squad Ten blog team 2003-2006 unless otherwise quoted or credited. If we've not credited you properly, please let me know. Throw us a link if you're desperate enough to use this guff...
Well, its certainly been a rollercoaster few days. Amongst the dips and troughs there have been some exhilerating peaks.
And there were certainly excitement but thankfully not much screaming at yesterday's Main Event, the wedding of our school friend Trish. We all love a bit of wedding photography, so expect a pictorial report sometime soon.
Meanwhile, big changes are on track round at the Powersurge Pleasure Beach, moving so fast that we're lucky the wheels didn't come off (to stretch an analogy beyond breaking point).
WE'RE BUYING A HOUSE!
It would be fair to say we've not been moving too quickly towards this. We'd looked in a few papers over the last few weeks, spent a few Sundays driving round looking at the outside of advertised properties, but we'd not really got into gear.
Luckily Mrs Powersurge decided to arrange a couple of viewing appointments for last Thursday, and we went round them to look. I was feeling a tad despondent to be honest, and being an awkward sod I wasn't much looking forward to the experience as the evening arrived.
But the very first place we saw we fell in love with. We returned with the parents in case it was just the naieve over-enthusiasm of young first-timers, and they fell in love with the place as well.
And two days after we first visited the property - our first ever property - we put in an offer. Two hours later it was ours...
I can't describe how exciting this feels. So I won't try. Especially considering how tired I am. An afternoon of playing Hide & Seek with my nephew has taken it's toll - though it was even more fun than I remembered from my childhood!
Kasabian So Starbuck got Jesu and I got Kasabian by way of reciprocity. I still reckon they?re mediocre baggy copyists, but I can get through it without eating my own tongue. That?s the level of enthusiasm I have for it. I HATE those lyrics about making a "getaway through a punched up mirror" - what's that all about? Get back to the Dungeons and Dragons boys.
Franz Ferdinand Good, up there with the first; more accomplished but sounds a bit less new (in a done-before-new way) than that. Because everyone else copies them now, presumably.
Grandaddy EP A tide-you-over before the next LP proper, and damn fine it is too. They are sounding more and more like themselves as they go on though. Instead of this, I urge everyone to buy "Under a Western Freeway" which is dead old and so bound to be cheap now. The best American lo-fi band ever (after Pavement).
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club My contender for second best album of the year (after Arcade Fire, but you knew that). Completely brilliant. Sounded like a huge change of direction on first listen (country twang, rather than JAMC feedback) but if you listen to one and three back to back (on an ipod or similar device, having not bought number 2, on the way to work - just say) then you can hear that it was there all the time, lurking.
Films I have done an awful lot of cinema recently (by my standards anyhow) so have a lot to report...
Wallace and Gromit Controversially NOT the greatest film ever made, I did NOT howl with laughter throughout and I was NOT so completely bowled over by its wit and charm to make me lose all objective critical faculties. Sorry about that. Still great though, with some ace movie skits throughout.
Bombon (El Perro) Very good, charming, nice, little film. The one with the white dog, as SB has mentioned before. The ads seemed to suggest a "me and my dog" road movie and it isn't really like that at all. Populated by some fairly unsavoury characters that are difficult to have sympathy with, but good nonetheless. Sad and funny.
Innocence A pretty weird and disturbing French film about life in a girl's boarding school. And not disturbing in a good way. I came out feeling rather perturbed, mostly because of voyeuristic style in which the girls were filmed. Really not sure about this one at all. "Creepy" would suffice to describe it.
A History of Violence No messing on this one. Easily the best film of this year. If you haven't seen it DO NOT READ ANYTHING about it ? I read stuff after I saw it that would have ruined it all. Reading reviews is very dangerous (a bit like when I read a review which told me what happens at the end of Don't Look Now - gahhh!!!) Anyway, brilliant performances, quite literally an exploration of violence as an infectious disease, if you will. A strange pace and structure which made it all the better. Intense, brutal, funny and tragic. The final scene alone deserves Oscars all round. Can you tell I liked it? I came out loving cinema, absolutely loving it. That doesn't happen very often.
That's it for now, and I've missed the London Film Festival films I have seen as to drone on about those is too much like disappearing up my own behind. ALTHOUGH I am going to see Mirrormask on Sunday, which could be worthy of a write up.
A month after going to see the most terrifying horror film that I have ever seen (and three months after co-editor Stu's original review), I have finally stopped shaking long enough to post my own review of The Descent. It's in the Comments, dontchaknow. Apologies if it reads badly. I was traumatised.
Ross Noble - I saw the hairy Northerner on his current Randomist tour. Absolutely hilarious - he had me gibbering away like a epileptic hyena. No meat hats, but plentiful dwarf action.
The best thing about Ross Noble is his spontaneity - the man feeds off audience interaction. An ongoing repartee with a dentist and his receptionist/wife, a brave front row couple innocently sitting just in front of us, provided endless quick-witted seams of mirth, threaded into his looping flights of fancy, or forming the filament supporting the structure behind those pseudopodic stories that kept pushing out from the rest of the act. Or something. But however wild the tangent, he always kept the whole thing back together.
And the more scripted stuff conjured up some mental scenes I'll never forget. I'm smiling now, thinking about the concept of freaking out 50 Cent by winding up an air-raid siren when he asks audiences to "make some noise". And don't mention the owls.
Starbuck's verdict: "The funniest, most versatile comic I've ever seen". Again. Starbucketta's verdict: "Not as good as Harry Hill". Both involved owls.
Next live comedy date in our diaries: "The League Of Gentlemen Are Behind You". I've been desperately trying to drag poor Mrs P - a former LoG virgin - through five DVD sets-worth of "compulsory background viewing". She keeps on falling asleep mid-episode, so I dread to think what's been slipping into her unconsciousness.
Sigur Rós - Takk. A wonderful, beautiful album that demands to be listened to on headphones (the opposite of Jesu, which can only be listened to in the car...)
I listen to Takk, and I'm no longer within my room - I'm transported into a naturally peaceful pre-historic world, each track shifting me to another place, framed within a different moment of the day/night cycle. Perhaps I should get out more. Get out to Iceland.
I wish I had me a fat pipe, Mrs, so I can get some of the free downloads from their website...
KanYe West - Late Registration - After that last rather poorly-written review, I think I'll just quote what the sticker on the CD box says.
"Enthralling ****" - UNCUT "Every track is glorious ****" - Q "Everything he touches turns to gold" - Observer Music Monthly "The most original force in hip hop" - Sunday Times Culture.
Fantastic - a seamless multilayered hour-long mix of 45 dispirite tracks and remixes - every one a goodie. I can't explain how this works, it just does. And I wet myself with adrenaline every time The Breeders' "Cannonball" & Skee-lo's "Little Bit Taller" get knitted together.
As essential an album as Entroducing. Make sure you get pt. 2, though - there's a lot of unofficial bootleg parts out there.
It's so good, we could've just had this album on repeat at our wedding party. However that would mean that our first dance would segue into "Fuck the pain away"... don't think my Nan
Here's what the box sticker has to say:
"2 Many DJ's redifined the art of compilation making. Superb" - Muzik "If playing this CD doesn't get the party started, then you're at the wrong party" - New York Times "A breathless concoction of 45 tracks that were never supposed to meet" - Evening Standard "A true celebration of the art of DJing" - DJ Magazine "Playful, imaginative and, best of all, never taking itself at all seriously" - Q magazine "An invigorating two fingers to dance snobbery" - Mojo "Compilation of the year in DJ Magazine, Muzik, Time Out, Jockey Slut. New York Times Best Album of the Year. The Face Second Best Album of the Year. Spin Top 40 Albums of the Year."
And the tracklisting in full:
| kylie minogue - can't get you out of my head (soulwax elektronic mix) | emerson lake & palmer - peter gunn (live) | basement jaxx - where's your head at (head-a-pella) | peaches - fuck the pain away | sly & the family stone - dance to the music | ready for the world - oh sheila (a capella) | dakar & grinser - i wanna be your dog | ural 13 diktators - disko kings | bobby orlando - the "o" medley | felix da housecat - silverscreen shower scene | the stooges - no fun | salt 'n pepa - push it | hanayo with jürgen paape - joe le taxi | the jets - cruch on you (a capella) | funkacise gang - funkacise | soul grabber - motocross madness | lil louis and the world - french kiss | zongamin - serious trouble | garbage - androgyny (thee glitz mix by felix da housecat) | frank delour - disc jockey's delight vol.2 | the residents - kaw-liga (prairie mix) | carlos morgan - shake your body(the jacksons) | alphawezen - into the stars (firebirds remix) | interstellar - concepts | nena - 99 luftballons | destiny's child - independent women part 1 | 10cc - dreadlock holiday | dolly parton - 9 to 5 | royksopp - eple | arbeid adelt - death disco | jeans team - keine melodien feat. mj lan | skee-lo - i wish (a cappella) | maurice fulton presents stress - my gigolo | the breeders - cannonball | the cramps - human fly | the wildbunch - danger!high voltage | op:l bastards - don't bring me down | adult - hand to phone | vitalic - la rock 01 | queen of japan - i was made for loving you | new order - the beach | detroit grand pubahs - sandwishes (a capella) | lords of acid - i sit on acid (soulwax remix) | streamer feat private thoughts in public places - start button |
As the H5N1 bird flu strain spreads into Europe, inching ever-closer to my home country , I find myself at lunchtime succumbing to the irrationality of fear.
Most working days I share my lunch with a gaggle of Canada Geese, a gang of Mallard ducks, and the odd moorhen. As with most of our feathered friends, they tend to get a bit messy (fecescious?) when over-excited, and there's such a riot of them that the air can sometimes be thick with the powder of pulverised faesces, the vector of their infection.
Now I know that there's presently nothing for me to worry about in the UK, I know that worry about anything does more harm than good, and that anyway our good friend the Canada Goose isn't too fond of migrating beyond these pleasant isles.
But still, today I found myself HISSING at the geese and ducks - hungry for my shami kebab - to keep them at bay. (But then again I was pretty ravenous as well...)
Sometimes you just need to take half an hour out to do nothing more than to stare at a candle...
... tonight watching its smeared, blurred reflection in the black frame of the skylight window... the hydrous impact explosions looking like a symphony of fireworks in the flickering light...
Cutting through the haze of Tesco Spanish Brandy De Jerez Solera Reserva, Cuvée Prestige Vin De Pays De L'Hérault, Ernest & Jullio Sierra Valley, Glenfiddich Special Reserve, oh, and Guinness. It's the TV Quick section.
For the first (and hopefully last) time, I recorded Oz soap lesstroadinaire Neighbours this last Tuesday gone. It was the "special" Neighbours 20th year anniversary, where a bunch of annoying characters that you'd successfully wiped from your memory were reinforced into your mind, destined to stay forevermore. I've now got the shit-eating grins of Doug Willis and Philip Martin painfully phosphened across my consciousness-tray. A disappointing lack of wavy-armed Benito Alessi, however.
Torchwood - the Dr Who spin-off. Fantastic idea. If I was bisexual, gay, or female I'd be in love with Captain Jack (except he'd be a bit too "loose" for me...) But I was overjoyed to hear of the anagramatical Dr Who spinoff, an "adult dark, clever, wild, sexy, British crime/sci-fi paranoid thriller cop show with a sense of humour" according to Russel; T Davies, not mincing his words. Also the potential punchline of piss-poor jokes about Solihull shopping centres.
Human Remains - I've been catching up on the DVD (which I insist that any HR-virgin reading these words should now buy from Amazon, I'd say the highlight of both Rob Brydon & Julia Davis' incredibly illustrious careers. And that includes the Toilet Duck advert. Each one 30 minutes of self-enclosed docudramedy perfection, whatever that means. Flipping marvellous.
Oh bugger. Not quite cut through the haze here. There was something else televisual that has now dropped off my stage. Curse that demon alcohol! As Mr Ozzy Osbourne once sang. (Though Starbuck recommends that readers don't rush out to follow the advice of Amazon, who recommend to those searching for DEMON ALCOHOL OZZY that thy might like "Shaven Angels 2" by Peter Lorenz. Which of course you might, if you're into well-groomed religious icons. Or something.)
Nope. My last TV Quick factoid isn't coming back to me.
Please input your own: It's more personal that way.
I'm happy to report that we've now moved back into our house. After weeks of plumbing procrastination, Mr Blake and his merry crew came to our rescue brandishing a brand new Triton shower.
It's good to be back in our cosy (read as: tiny) home. We've missed our independence, and it's lovely being back in our own (or rather, our landlord's) place.
One thing I've greatly missed is bedtime. Bedtime under the skylight.
Just lieing there after turning off the lights, each night with a different ceiling painted across the sky... whether I'm drifting off amongst the infinity of stars, or whether I'm huddled down below the warm brown glow of cloud-base washed in orange reflected streetlight... the room each night bathed in ambient light unique to that very moment...
Yep, it's nice to be back in our rightful place, complete with fully-functioning shower, especially with winter now drawing in. It's just a shame that one of our storage heaters blew out when we tried switching it on yesterday...
Powersurge Wedding Picture Exclusive (following a disappointing bid from Hello magazine)
 A little over 6 months back I was sitting huddled over my computer keyboard, alone in the house and lonely whilst my fiance was out enjoying her hen night, desperately trying to compose my groom's speech (none too succesfully, as chronicled HERE).
Now, many months later I am alone again, apart from my wife who is out enjoying our friend Trisha's hen night, and I have sat here, desperately trying to archive some images from our wedding whilst I've got a few moments.
There's a limit to the number of photographs that can be uploaded to each section of the wedding website, which means there have been some difficult decisions to make regarding content, but at least that keeps it focussed. And considering I've had to whittle down 500-odd honeymoon photos for the honeymoon section, that's probably a good thing!
Anyhow, there may be some fluidity in the wedding content as and when we receive more photographs of the wedding, and we've been promised a CD of professional photos from a burgeoning wedding protographer friend who used our wedding as practice material; we were promised it 5 months back, but mustn't grumble. Suffice to say he's not getting a free plug until they surface... If I had more time on my hands I'd GIMP up (i.e. photoshop with a small "p") the scans of the proofs of the very nice official snaps that we'd received from Prestige to try to remove crafty watermarks they'd protected them with. But that's not going to happen soon.
WeddingPath is actually a rather spiffy and very well presented little website, and one which I'd wished I'd used prior to our wedding for planning & info-dissemination purposes. And I'm not just saying that 'cos writer & editor Salsky is a friend of mine (you might want to check out HER WeddingPath as well, you big soft shites.) Or because their Best Man game cracks a smile right the way throughout me.
In fact, rather than writing about gimps and websites whatnot, tonight I was going to finally write a rather verbose VSX report on the Powersurge wedding and honeymoon, as I've not really done it justice on these pages. However, its now 1.30 in the morning, my vision is blurring in, and the only thing my slowing brain can manage tonight is to post up some photos.
However I've always been very hesitant of revealing my good looks on Viper Squad Ten, so you'll have to make do with atmosphere pieces and partially-obscured visages that will have by now surrounded these words.
Plumbing the depths
The saga of the stuffed-up shower continues.
Since Tuesday's hilarity, we've had one no-show and two preliminary visits from a gentleman who promised to return at a later date with an electrician. No way José, that's double the chances of a no-show.
So we'll be (ab)using some connections to The Family instead. No-show equates no-respect equals no-health.
Fingers are now crossed for next week. Especially since I managed to break my parents' shower last night...
Like a kick in the plumbs
OK, so I know there's much MUCH worse things going on in the world right now, but still, there's a tiny little bit of strife within my own little hermetically-sealed pleasure dome that I have to get off my chests.
Following Bastard Barry's non-appearance (to recap click HERE), and Tossbag Tommy's utter lack of interest in securing himself a plumbing job, we had arranged for Mr Nunn to come out this very night to get a quote for our shower repair/replacement. Nunn-too-reliable more like. Do you see?
I don't want to sound like an utter wanker by ranting about the appalling work ethic that stains this country like a bitch-dog-in-heat stains a lawn, but after our recent experience with plumbers - which has left us sans-douche and out of our home for nearly a month now - I'm beginning to get a little bit frustrated.
In fact, I might have to take up an evening course and enter the plumbing business myself. I'll join the Plumbing Trade Union. I want to make a difference. I want to shake the idle sods up.
Two millenia back, when the Romans were using lead ("plumbum") within their plumbing, I'm sure that Cornelius et al never ended up with some cowboy plumber doing a botch repair job on their piping to the laconicum. Probably because cowboys hadn't been invented back then. No matter, if they had they'd throw Nunn, Barry & Tommy to the lions, make no mistake. And I want no less than that.
Yes, I want to eliminate the slack chancers that are ruining the good name of plumbing. I want to overhaul the whole culture and framework surrounding British plumbers.
A strange thing happened whilst sharing a pint of Abbot Ale with the Missus last night.
Whilst we were deep in conversation sitting alone in a small-town pub, some bloke came over and sat himself down at our table.
He made some very small small-talk about where we came from - I could hardly hear him anyway, and had to keep asking him to repeat himself - and then almost subliminally threw into his chat - "Have you seen Revolver yet?"
Before I had the chance to riposte, offended, "No, its meant to be one of the shitest films of all times", he moved the "conversation" onto something else and then wandered off.
We didn't quite know what had hit us.
And then I wondered whether this was some sort of viral marketing. The give-away was the word "yet". Remembering a character (Magda) in William Gibson's Pattern Recognition who was employed to sow the initial seeds of "cool" about new artistic phenomenon amongst the trend-setters. She would "look sorted, go to clubs and wine bars and chat people up. While I'm at it, I mention a client's product, of course favorably." That way the micro-meme can be spread, good word of mouth amongst the "movers and shakers" being more valuable than anything in marketing. Eventually these people would be claiming to each other to have seen something that was still a marketing dream.
Apart from the Bear & Ragged Staff is not exactly Covent Garden. And this guy was far from being a hip young thing like Magda. The ugly bastard.
Bodger and Bazzer
Just want to fill you in on my current living situation.
Myself and Mrs Powersurge are now several weeks of living with our sets of parents on an alternating basis. It's like being a child again, but not in a less-fun more "adult" way.
A few weeks back our shower unit melted down - a warping dome of burnt-brown melted plastic began bulging across its top surface, accompanied by the sharp stench of vapourised long-chain hydrocarbons.
Against our better judgement our landlords advised to get the plumber who'd fit it in the first place a couple of years again - Barry the Bodger. He came, he saw, he decreed that the previous shower wasn't very a good unit, he gave a quote, he agreed to come back on Sunday to fit a new one.
When our landlady reminded him that it was in fact HE who had fit the previous shower, he was apparently taken aback. So taken aback that he didn't turn up as agreed on Sunday despite us having since spoken to him, and now whenever we call his mobile quickly diverts to voicemail when we get through.
Barry had installed two showers for us before this. The first didn't work (it either didn't turn off or the hot water didn't work, I think we suffered from both at one point). And the second unit? The second one exploded promptly after he put it in. Yes, exploded, with an almight bang and a splatter of soot. It gave Mrs P a shock (emotional rather than electrical, thankfully) as she was using it as the time!
What have I learned from this debacle? You should never entrust your plumbing with a Leamingtonian chap called Barry. (Unless he agrees to bring his brother Paul along. Ho hum.)
So for now we cast off the shackles of adult freedom to relive the petty annoyances of childhood. Sometimes you wonder how they think you cope without them around. For example, round at the in-laws this morning there was a knock at the door and a shout of "Are you up yet?"
Further to t'other day's report from a spanish toilet where Gary Lineker was having photographic demands made of him, I now bring you a VSX exclusive photograph of Mr Lineker.
It may look like he's smiling, but just look at that desperation in his eyes...