Viper Squad Ten
We're from the future. And we're stuck....
......VSX......                                                                                                              ......Been a little bit quiet lately......                                                                                                                                                                    

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...

Sometimes guest editors: Mr Stu and DJ Tim.

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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...

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[ Thursday, April 26, 2007 ]

Whereby the author rambles on self-indulgently about music , TV and stuff
Starbuck [17:30] Comments: 0 []
This was sent to me by my co-editor Stu...

The Life of Wylie: Life On Mars - The Answers
Of course the assumption must be that even the writers Life On Mars are wrong when it comes to their understanding of what the denouement actually revealed, as Starbuck Lewis-Smith's incisive analysis can never be faulted...

Also prompted by my co-editor, read this:
Allmusic - Year Zero (Nine Inch Nails) review
As a reader of these words you will no doubt be a person of discernible and indoubtable taste, and as such you will probably already own Year Zero by Nine Inch Nails.

I've listened to the new album pretty much every day since it was released, a treat my tired old heard-it-all-before ears have not been subjected to in a long long time. I don't know if a lack of time leads to a lack of enthusiasm, but the latest Arcade Fire and The Good The Bad & The Queen both having suffered dismally due to lack of effort on my behalf - I've hardly played them at all. But I digress.

Having now read that review-of-sorts, its nice to know what its all about, and what's apparently going on around it. On my occasional historic expeditions into the hinterlands of the web I've noted that Uncle Trent has been playing the multimedia game for a long time now, his specialty during the self-destructive years apparently being broken websites seeded with coded bit-rot clues. Still, this new campaign looks like something else.

Whatever, it's all about the music, maaaan, and to add my tuppeneth, I reckon its probably the least immediate and approachable of all NIN albums, no matter that its not Titan-heavy, but no matter, because on headphones it's crack-addictive. It just doesn't need Trent's trademark perfect-pitch vocal melodies to stand out above the music, but they're still there and as catchy as ever, despite often being almost subliminally buried within the background.

The fact of it being a "concept album" made the whole thing feel not quite right to me at first, and not just because all concept albums are inherently a little bit silly. Every previous NIN album has been so very personal to Reznor, and personal to your correspondent as well, having grown with and taken strength from his music from the very start (you can tell what an old duffer I am when I say that a gig from the Pretty Hate Machine tour was probably the best concert of my life...)

So I found some difficulty connecting when I first listened to the new album and heard various familiar sound motifs being applied to a story of near-future make-believe. (I concede that The Downward Spiral was a concept album as well, but its impossible not to experience it as a personal metaphor.)

But getting used to change is just part of growing up.

And talking of living through change, just thinking about the songs off the previous album With Teeth makes me smile, even the slightly rubbishy ones. It'll always remind me of my first time. It came out not long before I was wed, and I'd resisted partaking until the very first day of my honeymoon. It was quite overwhelming... the excitement of anticipation having held back for so long, mixed deliciously with a wonderful feeling of joy as me and my new wife enjoyed the sunshine poolside halfway up a Bangkok skyscraper on our first proper day of wedded bliss...

... and listening to the album for the first time was pretty good as well. Boom boom!!!

[ Tuesday, April 24, 2007 ]

R: Tape loading error
Starbuck [15:32] Comments: 2 []
The ZX Spectrum was 25 years young yesterday. What better way to celebrate than to rerun that a rerun of Rob Manuel's "Hey Hey 16k" video...

[ Monday, April 23, 2007 ]

Toilet Tips for Men
Starbuck [22:57] Comments: 4 []
Gentlemen! I've made a discovery that will change your life...

You will no doubt have at some point suffered "wet leg" syndrome, when a leakage of urine escapes from your john thomas following its return to your underwear during a trip to the urinals.

Don't be embarrassed, it happens to all of us at some point. No matter how hard you squeeze your urethral smooth muscle, no matter how vigorously you shake your todger post-toilet, sometimes the safety of your tackle's kit-bag releases a smidgeon of unexpected wee.

The solution:

Bend your knees whilst remaining in a bolt upright position before returning your old chap to your trousers.

Granted, it'll make you look like a 1950s British policeman, and a little bit peculiar with it, but that's a small price to pay for dryness.

Talk about Dickson of Dock Green. Evenin' all!

[ Thursday, April 19, 2007 ]

Frank Carson - It's A Cracker
Starbuck [12:37] Comments: 0 []
Frank Carson - It's A Cracker album

Oooh, I so want this, it hurts.

I used to own this glorious booze-soaked album on vinyl, featuring everyone's favourite Irish comic getting audibly more and more drunk as he makes his way through "30 non-stop Irish party songs", interspersed with some very poor jokes (some, such as the "fresh fish sold here" gag being utterly unfathomable).

Alas the album is no longer in my possession, however I am still regularly treated to snippets of song and laughter on my ever-reliable internal jukebox.

And since I'm too scared of eBay to make a purchase there, I'd like to ask one of you, the general public, to kindly purchase it for me. Think of it as a late Birthday present.

Tracklisting here:
Side one:

Seven Drunken Nights
Old Doreen
All For Me Grog
You're A Cracker
Whiskey, You're The Devil
Finnegan's Wake
Whiskey In The Jar
It's A Long Way To Tipperary
Little Arrows
Seth Davey
Black Velvet Band
The Red Rose Cafe
The Old Rustic Bridge
A Mothers Love's A Blessing

Side Two:

Lovely Balbriggan
A Pub With No Beer
When Irish Eyes Are Smiling
The Unicorn
Three Bells
Forty Shades Of Green
Rose Of Tralee
Molly Malone
How Can You Buy Killarney
Bottle Of Wine
It's A Sin To Tell A Lie
Leaving Liverpool
There Is Nothing Like A Dame

[ Monday, April 16, 2007 ]

Enter Shikari verses The Klaxons
Starbuck [19:50] Comments: 0 []

Both great albums, but Take to the Skies beats Myths of the Near Future hands down in my most humble of onions.

I know that critics tend to hit Enter Shikari with the shiney stick of juvenility, saying that the popularity of their music is incomprehensible to anyone over the age of 14. Well I'm significantly older than that, and I think they're flipping marvellous.

Its just the sort of music that I desperately wanted to exist when I was aged 14 - several shades of heavy metal mixed up with bleeping great dance music!

I'd have rated the Klaxons album higher, would it only have had their punk cover of The Bouncer by Kicks Like A Mule ("Your name's not down you're not coming in"). Shame on them!

[ Thursday, April 12, 2007 ]

Starbuck [18:20] Comments: 3 []
How depressingly predictable.

According to the heavily weighted interpretation of their latest survey, 99% of readers of that bastion of journalistic reason and veracity are demanding the nationwide rollout of "Sarah's Law" 'to protect children from sex beasts'.

I'm not one of those intellectual snobs who subscribes to the belief that all Sun readers are stupid, suggestible, reactionary idiots, however you just need to look at the Sun's messageboards on this topic to see some very wrongheaded views being thrown about. It's the paediatricians that I feel sorry for.

Vigilantism isn't the same as vigilance. Notwithstanding the agreement amongst child protection agencies that this would be harmful to children in that it would drive sex offenders into hiding.

Facts and sense won't stand in the way of the Sun and the Mail's unhealthy "populist" obsession with this. It's as if they're quoting chapter and verse from the BrassEye Paedophilia Special... "Why is it that we can no longer think of the British Isles, without the word paedoph in front of them? The British Paedoph-isles". Utter scaremongering nonse-sense.

I was gobsmacked when I first heard that the government were planing on running the pilot scheme a few days earlier than seeing the Sun piece.

I mean, for fucks sake, why the hell would you want to know as a parent how many offenders there are in your area? What are you going to do with the knowledge except worry? The gnawing anxiety would eat into every waking hour. Not good. "Well, you don't have to find out" you might say. But lets face it, you're not going to be able to stop those in your neighbourhood making sure that everyone knows it - expect maps in your local papers displaying local "perv densities". And from there you'll get some neanderthal thug feeling "let down by the government" will take the law into his own hands and start burning down houses of those they suspect don't "fit in".

A conspiracy theorist would say its just another controlling tool to up the anxiety ante. I think its just pandering to the lowest common denominator - easy point-scoring, and lazy politics.

[ Wednesday, April 11, 2007 ]

Life On Mars final episode [NO SPOILERS]
Starbuck [18:31] Comments: 5 []
Ha ha! It all makes sense now! Unless you're one of those people for whom it didn't make sense, and for whom the final episode of this hugely entertaining drama will have been a whole lot less satisfying...

Anyway, no spoilers here, not until the Comments box anyway, just a log of some thoughts that drifted through my mind as I watched the episode around midnight last night...
"Hmmm. Tired. Ah, good, the music always wakes me up. Good titles... [ring ring... get to the point Starbuck... you're time there is too short for this mental rambling...]

... ahh, I know what's happening.... He must be in a coma in 2006... they've left a television on in his room and its bleeding into his dreams....

... look, the main villain is Leslie Johns... there must be some news story on the box about John Leslie's latest sordid exploits...

... wait, that bloke being tortured... its Marty from Shameless... they must've changed channels...

... now this is getting silly... Paddy McGuire from Shameless is running around with a shotgun..."

[ Tuesday, April 10, 2007 ]

Alright Sunshine
Starbuck [17:38] Comments: 2 []
I paid a visit to a darkened cinema yesterday to watch Sunshine, the new film from the Danny Boyle, Andrew McDonald & Alex "Brown Trumpet" Garland.

I very much enjoyed it too, which is just as well, still reeling as I was from the travesty that was their adaptation of The Beach [classic archive VSX review HERE]

My opinion: A good science fiction film, cheeringly straight-faced, and with a polished sheen of realism shielding the inate far-fetchedness of the story.

As is normally the case when watching "straight" sf, I can't help but sit there feverishly anticipating detailed explanations of their ship's gravity system (not explained). I guess that's my problem, not theirs.

I felt they could've done without the scary climax too, though I understand that the stereotypical cinemagoer-at-large might be expecting a little additional exterior tension from their sci-fi (like a bloody great alien). Personally I thought the whole situation was more than compelling enough, without any additional hinderance to the crew's mission getting in the way. Still, Garland's a lover of scary psycho climaxes, which all sounds very wrong as I re-read my words back and realise that I'm probably accusing him of enjoying a certain dark timbre of "specialist" film.

And I certainly hadn't been expecting the denouement, with a number of different potential storyline conclusions having been set in motion.

I can't not mention the s(t)unning visual realisations, of our sun, of its incredible energy, and its interplay with the spaceship that has been sent to bomb it back into life. I've never seen so much light bursting out of a cinema screen. The skies outside seemed much darker than it really was when I came blinking out of the cinema.

That'll have been the evening, then.

[ Saturday, April 07, 2007 ]

The Meaning of Life
Starbuck [15:00] Comments: 5 []
This week I experienced I had perhaps the second most wonderful, most amazing life-exchanging experience of my life. And I experienced it twice! Who knows, perhaps it even snuck into first place, ahead of my wedding day, and that was pretty damn special.

More soon.

[ Monday, April 02, 2007 ]

Doctor Who new series - Vote Saxon
Starbuck [16:43] Comments: 1 []
A good start for the start of David Tennant's second series as the Doctor. As with previous "new season openers" I was expecting a slight amount of disappointment, especially now that Primeval has effectively raised the bar on quality "family drama entertainment" (Primeval: slick high quality production values, shamefully naff, ugly and cheap-looking DVD packaging).

I suspect that the "Saxon" character that was alluded to will be the slightly annoying "Bad Wolf" or "Torchwood" teaser for this series.
Here's hoping it refers to the ancient British heavy metal band.

Maybe Captain Jack will end up exploring Biff Byford's "Inner Sanctum". Heh!

Whilst I'm still here, I feel I should just add the following on behalf of Lars Ulrich:

The NWOBHM rules! Death to false metal! Maiden Japan rocks! Etc.

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