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Chris Gained The Power Of Being Fed Up!

This week I finally got round to watching Scott Pilgrim vs The World, Edgar Wright’s screen adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s fantastically quirky  comic book series. Like the series, its a very funny, geeky gem and features some fantasitcally OTT action sequences that have been ripped almost right off the page.

One of my favourite moments comes towards the end of the flick when Scott “achieves” various emotions/states of being, which allows him to progress a level and also gives him a cool looking sword.

Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera), and one badass blade

In a perfect world, this would happen everytime you got a new emotional response. And in the last week or so I’d have got the weapon of “Being fed up”.

This happened because work has been a major drag of late, the afterglow of good feeling from Sri Lanka has finally dissipated completely and I need a change of scene. In a way its a good thing because like the saying goes:

Contentment is the enemy of invention.

To tell the truth I’ve been fed up for a while, but in the last year or so I’ve at least become slightly more proactive about it. My lack of contentment and frustration with my crappy job have inspired me to try and make some changes in my life,  I’ve got some travelling under my belt and tried some new things (internet dating, actively trying to lose weight) and I plan to continue down this way.

I used to be happy unwinding after work with a movie or a few hours of hardcore internet pornography, but this wasn’t solving the problem, it was just giving me a break from it.

And my first idea was to have another break, going for a weekend away, preferably before Christmas. I drew up a shortlist of possible destinations (Dublin, Barcelona, Moscow, Hamburg, Prague) before a frontrunner emerged, a return to Amsterdam. An entire weekend in a weed-induced haze.

But at the end of the weekend I’d have to come back.

And then I came up with a new plan. Rich and Dan are off in China teaching English and both seem to be enjoying it, so I figure I might also go abroad to teach.

So I’ll do a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course and try and then start looking for jobs somewhere else. I don’t think I’d go for China, I’m not sure I’d fit in a country that strict and while I’d love to visit there someday I don’t fancy living there. So having looked at the website here are the 5 countries I’d most like to go to, in order of preference:

1. Japan
2. Thailand
3. Brazil
4. Argentina
5. Czech Republic

So hopefully this time next year I’ll be thousand of miles away in a foreign country and no longer doing my crappy job.

I have lots of stupid plans and crazy schemes but I will follow through on this, and even if it goes tits up and I end up loathing it, at least it’ll be an experience.

I might still try to fit in a weekend in Amsterdam though.

I Like Old Movies…

A while back BBC Breakfast (which is the only real choice for early morning TV viewing) did a piece on how internet dating is a booming industry and that the public perception of it has changed and its now an acceptable and legitimate way of people connecting with each other.

Yet the other day I was filling in a survey and one of the questions was “Who have you told that you’re using internet dating?” to which I selected “noone” because there was no option for “I’m not telling anyone due to embarrassment but I will then blog about it, thus letting anyone who wants to know I am”.

Now the reason I joined up is that it would be kind of nice to meet someone and due to work and money I’m not hitting Swansea as often as I’d like. Also trying to chat people up while drunk has never exactly gone brilliantly for me, due to the fact I have to stumble along a drunk tightrope- Drunk enough to have the confidence to just go up to a girl but not so drunk I turn into a twat/letch. Its a 3 drink zone, but as my judgement is already compromised due to booze I tend to drink right on through into the twat zone.

While I’d quite like to meet someone I just want to clarify that I’m not going all Bridget Jones and spending my evenings listening to sad songs and crying, picturing myself dying alone.

Bridget Jones- I'm not that sad. Yet.

So, I decided to take a chance. The problem is, I’m not sure I think internet dating is acceptable, I mean eHarmony can point out they’re responsible for 2% of US marriages or whatever, and Match can flood our screens with irritatingly quirky campaigns like the one which gives this post its title, but do those couples tell everyone that’s how they met?

If someone told you they’d met their boy/girlfriend or spouse online you’d pass a silent judgement on them, wouldn’t you? There’s still that idea that internet is for sad bastards like myself, the socially awkward, the ugly and the desperate.

Course, I haven’t mentioned any of this on my profile.

I’ve actually been on some dating sites for a couple of years in a non-paying capacity. The reason for this was a friend had signed up and out of curiosity I decided to sign up and see what she’d said on her profile. I then left the membership go on, occasionally clicking through to the millions of e-mails I recieved when I had time to kill or was in a daydreaming mood, usually after watching You’ve Got Mail and deluding myself I may luck out and snag a Meg Ryan.

You've Got Mail- An underrated rom com.

So why sign up now?

Well, I’m trying to be more proactive in lots of things (travel, work, weightloss) and I figured why not take this approach to dating. It wasn’t a particularly well thought out idea, I just found a site, signed up and joined for a month. I’d give it a whirl for 30 days and then quit. If you don’t ask you don’t get right?

Also, I did kind of think it’d make a good blog post, but that’s not really working out is it?

The site I joined (and no I’m not revealing which one it is) has a related “naughty” site which is geared for more casual dating, i.e. sex. There was an offer so I joined that one too, just to see what happened.

But I’m skipping ahead. I filled in my profile added a photo (more on that later) and got searching.

I did a local search and found a few girls who looked interesting and sent a quick message as well as an icebreaker (which is sent to everyone). I wasn’t overly confident, I figured I might get looked at a few times, they’d make a sarky comment to themselves and move on, but I’d been doing the same, I mean, that’s a large part of dating in general. You see it in bars, guys making comments about girls who’d never give them the time of day anyway and girls thinking they can do better than what’s on offer.

The way we see and think of ourselves is not the way others do. I learnt that from my man Gok.

Gok Wan- I like him, but it does annoy me that a gay guy gets to fondle more boobs than me

I got a few messages and while a few were polite declines, luckily everyone seems polite or at least follows the “if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all” theory, I feared recieving a “Fuck off, fat man!” but so far there have been none.

But I did get a few good responses including from a girl, J, who seems nice enough and while living a fair ways away (curse you laziness for not pushing me on with the driving lessons!) wasn’t completely unfeasible. We chatted, exchanged numbers and I’ll have to see if it goes anywhere.

I’ll update if anything else happens but here are a few of my observations from my first fortnight on the site:

1. There is far too much use of the euphemism “bubbly” which we all know means “fuller figured”. Now I got no beef with that, if I did it’d be extremely hypocritical, and I actually like a girl with some curves, but come on, is bubbly the best you can do? You may as well have used “jolly”. Go for voluptuous, it just sounds sexier.

Mia Tyler. Damn!

2. Funniest thing I’ve seen so far? The profile on the “naughty” site who’s status was: “Sorry to who I’ve been with on here but I have hep C”. Like they used to say on Hill Street Blues– “Be careful out there.”

3. Also on the “naughty” site kudos to the lady who listed “well endowed” twice in what she was looking for. You’ve just intimidated pretty much every guy reading that.

4. Everyone seems to list their strong characteristics, which is fair enough, I didn’t start mine with “frequent masterbator and comic book reader (occasionally at the same time)” but some go on for so long you just think, if you’re so amazing how are you still single?

5. “Age and looks not important” ah, desperation, the sourest of all aromas.

Profile No-Nos

1. Invisible Women

There’s no excuse for not having a photo on your profile. So you’re self conscious, who isn’t? Noone will reply if you just have a blank square, because they’ll see it and assume the worst, that you look like Sloth from The Goonies.

If I’ve learnt anything from How To Look Good Naked its that lots of women are overly critical of their appearances. So look for the best picture you can and use that, or ask a mate which picture makes you look best. Even a bad picture is better than no picture.

We’re all realistic, guys know we’re not going to find a Megan Fox on a dating site just as you know you won’t find George Clooney. So be honest, it’ll work out better that way.

Megan Fox- Probably not dating online

And if I can put up a picture, noone else has an excuse.

2. The Bully Effect

So you’ve put up lots of pictures, that’s a good thing. But in one of them you seem to be standing next to a goddess, oh its your friend? Well done you’ve just done used the Bully Effect, where you’ve provided your would-be-suitors with a “here’s what you could have won” moment. If you hve to include a friend make sure you do a Stefani and pick someone who makes you look better.

Stefani- Now if she could only find some way to sound better

3. The Kids Aren’t Alright

Looking for a partner? Don’t put your kid in the picture, unless you’re angling for a threeway with Gary Glitter. Seriously, it gives you a chance to say if you have kids, there’s no need to show them in your profile.

4. Shouldn’t You Be Wearing A Hood?

If you specify age that’s fair enough, but saying which race you want to be with? It just seems a tad racist, especially as its always the same as their race. If you opt for anything other than “Its not important” there’s something wrong. I don’t know where this idea of keeping the bloodline pure came from but it seems far too common for the 21st century.

5. OMG u writ LIKE a idIot lolz

Text abbreviations have a place. In texts. At a push in tweets or in an instant messenger situation. If however you use it excessively in your profile you may as well just write “I’m thick” over and over. Same goes for basic spelling mistakes (what are the odds that I’ve missed a few typos in this and made myself look like a duns by bringing it up here).

Online dating, Gok Wan, Bridget Jones, You’ve Got Mail? This may be the girliest I’ve ever written.

Anyone else out there tried internet dating? Tips, stories? You know what to do. LLAP

Sofa Sports: Rugby World Cup 1

“Deserve’s got nothing to do with it”- Will Munny, Unforgiven

I’ve been up since 4:20 so I could watch Wales’ second World Cup match against Samoa, I should probably have gone back to bed but England vs Georgia is about to start so thought I’d watch that one as well, and maybe even go for 3 in a row by watching France take on the Canadians.

God, I love rugby.

Wales started their campaign against the current world champions South Africa last weekend, which is a tough first game to have, but the lads acquitted themselves well in that game, and were unlucky to come away as the losers by a 1 point margin. This strong performance meant that I was confident going into our remaining 3 matches- Samoa, Fiji and Namibia.

This confidence was short lived. Wales started okay, but quickly the cracks started to show, our lineout was riddled with errors and we gave away far too many soft penalties. Also, the Samoans seemed to have an intensity we lacked, every time we got a ball they were on us like white on rice, whereas we gave them far, far too much breathing room.

At half time we trailed 10-6, and things looked like they were only going to get worse as we started the 2nd half with the news that James Hook wasn’t going to be playing in it.

Yet, Priestland proved that while his kicking from hand is awful he managed to land 2 penalties and then Shane Williams ran in a try meaning it was a 17-10 win. So we’d lost when we should’ve won and then won when we probably should’ve lost, at least it all balances in a karma sort of way.

Watching the game was a mixture of fun and frustration, frustration with Wales’ many mistakes and their lack of killer instinct. The fun provided by listening to Zoe’s utter hatred of Andy Powell who seemed to be responsible for almost everything that went wrong, she probably reckons he causes cancer as well.

Zoe's nemesis, Andy Powell.

England vs Georgia

The win over Argentina was an ugly, unconvincing affair but against Georgia, you have to think they’ll cruise to a victory. Wilkinson really struggled to find his groove in their opening match and it’ll be interesting to see if Mr England can get it together today. He probably will. The twat.

Actually, he won’t they’ve benched him. Is this to rest him in what is viewed as an “easy match” or is Johnson starting to lose faith in the golden boy?

Its odd that I hate Jonny so much, as he seems to come across as a fairly decent bloke, I think its more to do with the way the press treats him like the second coming, and the arrogance of certain English rugby fans as well.

England go into this game under a scandal following all the drunken revellry they had during the week, which I think is just ridiculous. As Martin Johnson said about the situation: “Rugby player drinks beer, shocker

Drunken stupidity is as much a part of rugby playing as learning that you can’t pass the ball forwards. From your village teams right the way up to internationals the act of boozing with teammates is part of the odd, homoerotic camaraderie that exists in rugby teams. Also, why can’t they go out on the lash and let off some steam? Millions of people do the same thing every weekend in the UK (although usually without the involvement of midgets).

Urgh, “God Save The Queen” its not a good anthem, is it? I speak as a Brit and had I ever been an Olympic champion I’d have hated that this song would play as I stood on the podium. In fact that’s why I never pursued my sprinting career, much to the relief of Usain Bolt.

Bolt- lucky I hung up my trainers.

Fun fact from ITV commentary- both countries share the same patron saint, big game hunter and cause of species extinction, St George.

The numbers on the back of the England kit are rubbish. You can barely see them on the TV.

Early try for England, far too easy for them, Georgia look way out of their depth as England pass the ball easily and run it in with embarrassing ease.

Spoke to soon, Georgia come straight back, pile on the pressure and run impressively before throwing the ball around well and put the ball down, but video ref shows they’d just gone out of touch. Georgia then have most of the territory and ball for first 15 minutes.

Thought Ben Foden was gonna break for a long run in try for a second. God I hate that guy, mainly because he’s shacked up with Una, the hottest of the Saturdays, yes I am that petty.

Forget Frankie, Una is the hottest Saturday

Hape gets his second try, after a good period of attack from Enland, Georgia defended well but always looked like England were going to get over.

Rest of the first half a bit of a dud, aside from a late Georgia try.

Odd to hear Phil “Leave It White 3” Vickery criticise players for repeatedly conceeding penalties.

IBM are one of the richest companies in the world, couldn’t they have spent a bit more and made their world cup ads not quite so shit?

ITV’s coverage is irritating, the 2 ad breaks at half time mean that there’s very little analysis although given the poor quality of their team means that may not be a bad thing. Please let the Beeb get 2015.

Well, hello, busty England fans!

My hatred of Wilkinson may be no fault of his own, but Delon Armitage and Chris Ashton truly are a pair of arrogant dickheads.

Phil  Vickery now explaining binding in the scrum, proving that those who can do, and those who can’t provide sub-par commentary.

I miss Brian Moore.

Just once I want Ashton to drop the ball as he goes for his stupid dive.

Go on, drop it!

This scoreline flatters England and does a massive disservice to Georgia, but I guess that just makes the quote at the top even truer. England should’ve won but a 26 point margin makes it look like it was easier than the reality.

England have run the ball well at times, and its definitely more impressive than against Argentina but I still reckon they’re going to struggle when they come up against the big guns in the tournament, and you know the Scots won’t make it easy for them either. If they build on this performance and continue to improve though they could make it to the semis.

In the end I think Georgia’s inexperience of top level international rugby that let them down as well as some defensive naivety. It seemed far too easy for England to get through their line in open play and once through none of them had the pace to catch the speedier English backs.

I can see Georgia improving over the years, it’ll be interesting to see if they become like Argentina and a real threat to the bigger, more established rugby playing nations.

Review: Hanna

When The Adjustment Bureau came out some hack wrote “its Inception means Bourne” and this was used in the marketing. It kinda makes sense, they’re too successful, well reviewed flicks but it clearly wasn’t true, the film was nowhere near as complex or interesting as Inception, and it didn’t have the urgency, kinetic energy and engaging qualities of Bourne. It was an average sci-fi thriller carried by Damon’s charisma.

Similarly, Joe Wright’s thriller Hanna has been compared to Leon, primarily because of the fact both films feature young female assassins. But they’re really not that similar, its like comparing Operation Dumbo Drop with Apocalypse Now just because both are set during the Vietnam war.

Leon, was about an innocent adopted by a professional killer, offering him a chance to form a human relationship that had been missing in his life.

Hanna, is a very different beast.

16 year old Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) has been raised by her father Erik (Eric Bana) in the Scandanavian wilderness, where he has trained her to hunt, fight and generally be a killing machine. This is all for the day when Hanna will chose to reveal their presence so she can kill Wiegler (Cate Blanchett) a CIA officer.

Hanna kills Wiegler’s double while in custody and escapes having discovered that Erik is a former CIA agent who has been on the run having betrayed them and has knowledge the agency wants keeping quiet.

Hanna falls in with a middle class travelling family (the parents played by Olivia Williams and Jason Flemying) who decide to help her on her journey to Berlin, having believed the cover story she has been taught by her father and where she is to meet up with Erik.

Wiegler enlists three hitmen, two fellas who look like they’re from the National Front and their leader, a peroxide blonde, whistling and camp killer (Tom Hollander).

Having killed one of the assassins and escaped Hanna heads for Berlin, with Wiegler taking the family into custody and Erik heading to Berlin as well, now aware that Wiegler is still alive.

Hanna becomes aware that her father’s version of her past is not exactly true and that she is part of a government programme to genetically enhance babies into killers.

I won’t tell you what happens in the German capital but you can probably guess that they don’t sit down and sort things out over a cup of tea.

Its all a bit of a departure for Joe Wright, who’s only previous work I’ve seen is the Keira Knightley version of Pride And Prejudice, which was alright but hardly action packed. Yet, he shows a knack for action sequences, with the film possessing an intense kinetic energy with well edited fight scenes, which are filmed with the same quick paced, intense realism made popular by the Bourne films (part of me misses the kind of overly showy, choreographed 90s fight scenes best evidenced in the films of John Woo). There’s a real brutality in the film’s combat scenes, yet Wright doesn’t sensationalise it in any way.

Helping give the film momentum and enhancing the feel is a phenomenal soundtrack by The Chemical Brothers, which is a pulsating, driving musical backing track for the film, and has now been added to my music wish list.

On the wish list

I don’t want to make it sound like some MTV, fast cutting action fest, in between the fights Wright shoots the film beautifully, from the snowbound isolation in the opening chapters to depicting Wiegler’s intense, ordered personal life as well as lyrical scenes that capture Hanna’s wonder at the new, vibrant world she discovers. The different tones and atmospheres are realised completely, yet the changes in gear are smooth, with no jarring between the elements.

Wright is aided by three brilliant central performances. Bana is the least showy roles as Erik, giving the character a quiet intensity and nobility, and Bana looks and moves like someone who knows how to handle himself.

Bana- Intenisty and nobility

He doesn’t get much dialogue but in his few lines he conveys an inner dignity and the impression of a man uncomfortable with emotions yet who still feels compassion and affection for his daughter.

In the title role, Ronan is phenomenal, her large blue eyes give her an almost unnatural look, which fits with the films backstory and perfectly captures Hanna’s hardened, well trained, almost cold blooded approach to life. But there are glimpses of childlike enthusiasm and innocence as she experiences a wealth of new experiences in the wider world.

Unnatural- Ronan in the title role

But the star of the show is Blanchett as the devious Wiegler, who begins the film as a ruthlessly efficent, ordered proffesional character yet as the film progresses her cool exterior begins to crack. Wiegler’s evil side is never overplayed, and Blanchett conveys it through simple mannerisms, including a sharklike smile.

Wonderfully shot and paced thriller, with strong performances and a blinding soundtrack, and really not that much like Leon. 4/5

Tied to the 90s: In defence of Aqua

I grew up in the 90s and so the music from that decade has a special place in my heart, it was my introduction to pop music and the soundtrack to my early teens and childhood.

So when the Huffington Post tweeted that the worst song of the 90s had been decided clicked the link and found an article about a Rolling Stone poll that named Aqua’s “Barbie Girl” as the worst song of the decade.

Aqua- Unfairly dissed

I’m sorry but I have to disagree. In fact, I feel a lot of the list is unfair, as while many of the songs are far from genius they’re the kind of feelgood bubblegum pop that gets people dancing and puts a stupid grin on your face (“Achy Breaky Heart”, “Tubthumping”, “MMMBop”).

And “Barbie Girl” definitely fits with that, sure its a slightly creepy, not brilliantly sang ode to a toy but its hardly an utter travesty of a song, hell its not even the worst Aqua song of the 90s, have another listen to “Doctor Jones”, its awful.

BG is naff and daft, but that’s the appeal. Pop music needs to hold on to the bands who have a sense of humour, otherwise its just all people trying to be cool and pouting. People don’t realise that the Aquas, Billy Rays, MC Hammers and Hansons are just as much a part of what makes pop music great. This obsession with cool is not what music is about, music is about provoking emotional reactions, sometimes this is with sad songs, or rage filled calls to arms for the disaffected, and sometimes its just a dopey song about a plastic lady that makes you smile and have a dance.

I defy anyone to listen to it and not smile a little bit.

Anyway, this whole thing got me thinking about the 90s and so here are my personal top 10 worst songs of that decade, in no particular order (all gleaned from Wikipedia’s list of 90s number ones, yes these were all number ones):

1. Chocolate Salty Balls- Chef from South Park

A weak joke that got old real quick. Isaac Hayes, how the mighty fell.

2. Because We Want To- Billie

Before she became Billie Piper, average actress she was Billie, below average singer. Her debut hit was this irritating effort clearly meant to capture youthful rebellion albeit in a smiley, innocent way.

3. My Heart Will Go On- Celine Dion

The reason for my cousin’s middle name (I’m not joking, my mum’s side are a little chavvy) and the soundtrack to one of the worst films of the decade, this hung around the charts like a bad smell. My big sis had the Titanic album, and I should have a medal for not killing her with it.

4. Any of Robson and Jerome’s Three (yes, three) number one singles.

The most persuasive argument in the “Simon Cowell is evil and a cultural vandal” theory, he convinced the favourites of the nations mothers to release an album. Bland covers of iconic tracks followed, and its only Robson Green’s bizarre likability that stops me from hating them completely.

Okay, I might have a minor man crush on Robson Green after his swimming show

5. C’est La Vie- B*Witched

The 70% denim girlband burst onto the scene with this infuriating, nonsensical single. They embraced they’re Irishness by doing some awful riverdancing and inexplicably went on to have 3 more number one singles, and if you can name more than 1 of those, kill yourself now.

Far too much denim in one photo

6. ????- Westlife

Pick your least favourite, which is a tough choice, its like picking which type of cancer you’d least want to have.

7. Candle In The Wind 1997- Elton John

I like the original, its a touching song about a guy discovering Marilyn Monroe through cinema and lamenting the hard times she went through. But Elton John ruined it by gracelessly tweaking the lyrics to commemorate the life of Diana Spencer (and cash in on the ridiculous, disgusting public grief). Urgh.

8. Tragedy- Steps

Take a quality Bee Gees track, give it to 5 Redcoats with ideas above their station, add a stupid dance routine, repeat ad nauseum, destroying the original’s appeal and giving idiots something to dance to at weddings and school discos.

Now I like cheesy pop, but I loathe Steps. Unlike S Club 7 there was no sense of fun, because looking into H and Co.’s eyes you could just see a vaccuum of despair.

9. Blue- Eiffel 65

Do I need to explain why this song is awful?

10. Millenium Prayer- Cliff Richard

Ah, Cliff Richard is as much a part of Christmas as the rise in domestic violence. This was probably his worst effort as he crowbarred the words of the Lord’s Prayer to the tune of Auld Lang Syne. Truly remarkable in the depths of shite it plumbs. Can we bring back feeding Christians to lions for one last performance?

Now I don’t want to end negative so here are my top 10 best 90s songs! Again, they’re in no order.

1. Torn- Natalie Imbruglia

My Neighbours crush could never hope to match this simple, beautiful ballad which has probably become one of the classic pop songs for the ages.

2. Parklife- Blur

Britpop was brilliant, the rewriters of history may poke fun at it now but it was part of an early 90s optimism and confidence. Of the big 2, I’ve always been slightly more in the Blur camp and this witty tale of everyday life is one of their best efforts and for me is the sound of the 90s.

3. Its Like That- Run DMC vs Jason Nevins

Just a great dance track.

4. Gangsta’s Paradise- Coolio feat. L.V.

Coolio never got anywhere near matching the quality of this effort, and no matter how many stupid reality TV appearances he does this will be his legacy. Its a brilliant, atmospheric rap track that helped bring the genre into the mainstream and is one of the genre’s all time classics.

5. I’d Do Anything For Love (But I won’t do that)- Meat Loaf

Its Loaf at his overblown, campy best with a power ballad of truly epic proportions.

6. Jump Around- House Of Pain

Still makes a party go off. A plethora of cultural references make it very much of its time and its probably one of my favourite all time songs.

7. Don’t Speak- No Doubt

No matter how rubbish Gwen Stefani’s solo output got you kept hoping she’d strike the form No Doubt had. This heartfelt, melancholic ballad about a relationship falling apart is wonderfully crafted and still sounds great.

8. Baby One More Time- Britney Spears

Britney’s debut song is still among her best and for purely selfish reasons it reminds me of my second major popstar crush (after Louise) and of my teenage years. Its also taken from the first album I ever bought, and it was on cassette. Christ, I’m old.

The first album I ever bought

9 and 10. The Kids Aren’t Alright by The Offspring and What’s My Age Again? by Blink 182

The 90s were the heyday of punk pop and for about 6 months, all I listened to were Offspring’s Americana and Enema of the State by Blink 182, they soundtracked pretty much all my teens and these are my two favourite tracks from those albums. Its before Blink 182 went all serious and when The Offspring were probably at their best at amalgamating punk and pop.

Enema Of The State- My family probably got really sick of this album being played over and over again

Any thoughts? 90s songs you love/hate? You know what to do. LLAP.

Review: Captain America: The First Avenger

I saw this film a while ago but only got around to writing the review today, hope you enjoy, sorry if it loses its way towards the end.

* * * * *

I was apprehensive going to see this flick.

I love Captain America. If you’ve ever read Marvel comics you’ll know he’s a character of real gravitas, inside the fictional world he’s an inspirational figurehead and to the readers he’s one of the consistently likable characters, possessing all the characteristics of the best heroes. The Ultimates reimagination of him was one of the series’ best moves, with him retaining his old fashioned heroism but refusing to shy away from the fact that you don’t make it through a war without being tough as nails and occasionally a bastard.

Is this the best comic book cover ever?

But you get the character wrong by a little and you have an overly patriotic nightmare on your hands. If a Cap movie had been put out 8 years ago it would’ve been some awful, jingoistic affair. Remember that cheesy scene in Spider-Man where the New Yorkers throw stuff at the Green Goblin “you attack one of us, you attack all of us!” imagine that for an hour and a half.

So its good they waited, and the fact that this follows the brilliant Iron Man flicks and Thor and precedes the Avengers means that this would be a more well thought out effort to click in with a growing on-screen Marvel universe, sitting somewhere between the Ultimates and the original universe.

You can't tell much from a poster can you?

Anyway, enough background, let’s get to the flick.

Its World War 2, and Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), a small, weak guy is eager to enlist and serve his country in the fight against the Nazis. Using fake names he’s attempted to join up repeatedly, being turned down each time. His enthusiasm, decency and refusal to quit catches the attention of Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci), a scientist working for a special unit seeking a canditate for a super-soldier serum.

During the training regime Rogers fails to impress the unit’s leader Col. Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) but his ingenuity in overcoming his physicial deficincies and strength of character impresses Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) another officer involved in the programme and after proving his bravery, Phillips agrees to select him.

Meanwhile, in Europe, a Gestapo officer Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving) has sought out a mythical Asgardian weapon and with his cultish followers in an organisation called Hydra uses it to create an arsenal of superior weapons that will ensure victory for them, as they pull away from the rest of the Nazis.

Talking with Rogers, Erskine reveals that an imperfect version of the serum was used on an insistant Schmidt but the side effects had a negative effect on the already unhinged man and transformed into a monsterous psychopath called the Red Skull.

Rogers undergoes Erskine and Howard Stark’s (Dominic Cooper) super-soldier serum and emerges as a heavily-muscled superman. A Hydra agent attacks and steals some of the serum, killing Erskine in the process.

Rogers uses his new abilities to chase down the agent and capture him, but he kills himself and the serum is lost.

Unwilling to spend the war as a test subject in a lab, Rogers agrees to work for the government, touring the country raising money for war bonds as the colourful Captain America, putting on shows and performing stunts and feats of strength.

While performing for American troops in Italy he recieves a hostile reception, as the soldiers feel he is merely a performer and they are risking their lives for real. Hearing that his friend and former protector, Bucky (Sebastian Stan) has been captured and aided by Peggy and Stark, Rogers goes behind the lines. He succeeds in rescuing Bucky and the rest of the men, and meets the Skull for the first time, who escapes.

After returning to the American camp Rogers becomes Captain America for real and puts together a unit comprising of Bucky and several of the men he rescued and they procede to start striking at the Skull’s bases and factories.

I won’t give you any more of the plot, and get to my thoughts on the movie.

I really enjoyed it, like Thor and especially the Iron Man films it manages to get the tone just right. It’s an enjoyable, action-filled romp which never loses sight of the characters. Evans is on fine form as Rogers, and through some fantastic visual effects is convincingly puny at the start.

Convincingly puny

But its the essence of the character that is the winner, Evans shows Cap as a frustrated character, a guy who hates bullies and is frustrated and guilty that he is unable to go over and fight against evil while other men go and die in this endeavour. Decency shines through in every scene, but stays on the right side of cheesy, and he never becomes an unrealistic ideal of heroism, remaining touchingly human in his nervousness and eagerness.

The supporting cast does well, Atwell is a likable and sassy love interest and the scenes between Peggy and Rogers are touching. Bucky and the rest of Cap’s unit are a ragtag bunch who while not having that much screen time are engaging enough. The ethnic mix might be a PC construct but the group gel well together and I’d happily watch a Howling Commandos spin off.

The Howling Commandos

Tucci and TLJ are both on fine form. Tucci bringing humour and warmth to Erskine, while still hinting that the man feels guilt over his previous work for the Germans. TLJ does his usual gruff, badass thing but if it ain’t broke…He gets one of the film’s best moments and his deadpan delivery provides the film with humour as well as bringing gravitas to the role of Phillips.

And as the villainous Red Skull, Hugo Weaving excels, a character filled with unhinged fanatacism. He’s a truly menacing character and Weaving brings a tightly wound intensity to the role.

If there’s one weakness its the fact that the move of including Hydra seems a bit of overkill, as though the writer’s decided that the Nazis weren’t quite evil enough for the film.

But this is a minor niggle in an otherwise brilliantly realised comic book adaptation.

They manage to avoid patriotism, in fact other than one minor reference the film is less about American glory than Rogers’ personal heroism and the universal theme of standing up to the forces of evil.

There are a few cheesier moments but on the whole it keeps the balance well, and unlike a lots of blockbusters even manages to connect with the audience on an emotional level.

There are great connections to the other Marvel movies, the Asgardian weapon that the Skull gets ties in to Thor and Iron Man‘s dad, Howard Stark turns up, and in a brilliant scene his entrance at a fair is a 1940s version of Tony Stark’s appearance the expo in Iron Man 2.  Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury gets a cameo in the film which tees up The Avengers film, for which is set up in a fantastic teaser in the end credits. It looks as though the interaction between the various heroes will capture the spirit of the comics and the “Some Assembly Required” tagline prompted a massive nerdgasm.

A great, fun adventure with great effects and a fantastic central performance from Chris Evans. 4/5

Sri Lanka 11 Last Leg

Part One- Arugam Bay to Negombo

After a broken night’s sleep and a hasty last minute pack, I dosed myself with Imodium and clambered aboard our minibus. This is a summary of the journey-

I passed the start of the journey dozing, and most of the rest listening to my iPod.

We were provided with our last sighting of an elephant, as we passed a couple who lumbered out of the fields to graze on the trees along the road.

I listened to Ian Bell’s stupidity in the test, where he wandered off and India’s sportsmanship in withdrawing their appeal so he could continue playing after walking off before the session was over. I almost cheered when Tuffers put down an attempted Boycott interruption.

In a tiny, nameless town I saw a sweet and evidently universal scene. A pretty and nervous Sri Lankan girl chatted to a boy, the two chatting slightly awkwardly but exchanging frequent smiles, while her friends hovered nearby, whispering amongst themselves. Awkward teenage flirting is clearly the same all around the world.

As crowded buses whipped by I saw their dozing or staring passengers squashed against the window and decided, despite my regrets, that I had made the right decision in not travelling when ill.

Our lunch stop was at a roadside cafe, where we stretched our legs and I drank sweet tea and ate cakes. Our two drivers, dodgy looking cats who would have made great low level hoods on Colombo Vice, sat down and fell upon rice and curry. Our bill arrived but before I could pay there was some fussing and the bill was taken, our waitress chatted to the drivers and then returned, our bill was higher. They’d put their food onto our bill. It was a trifling amount, but it really pissed me off. They could have mentioned something, or asked whether we’d pay for it, but they just assumed that we’d foot the bill. I refused to, and would feel guilty about Laurence having to reach into his pocket, but like I said, it was a trifling amount, and my principles and anger wouldn’t let me contribute to it.

Three weeks had meant that we’d grown accustomed to the Sri Lankan’s crazy driving, there was an odd system behind it all, it worked. But then we were provided something that reminded us that even though the drivers seemed to know what they were doing they were still reckless, and their luck couldn’t hold for ever. A mangled tuk-tuk, the windscreen shattered and the flimsy frame bent out of shape. A crowd huddled around a woman lying on the ground, looking in a bad way, while her acquaintance let out a long, pain-filled wail.

We left the main road, avoiding Colombo and the madness therein. But the back roads were nightmarish, I wanted to grab every whinging Mail reader who complains about potholes in a headlock, drag them out and show them just how lucky we are with the roads in Blighty. It was a rough ride, and not helped by my paranoid fantasiesthat our dodgy drivers were about to jack us.

But, for an 8 hour ride, it passed fairly easily.

Part Two- One more, thing- Our day in Colombo

It may have been end-of-trip nostalgia, or my dread at returning to work. It may have been the warm glow I had from two cocktails and the beer, but whatever the reason. As I crawled onto the rock hard slab they called a mattress I couldn’t help smiling.

It had been a good day.

It’d been a lazy start, a hotel down the road that was distinctly more up-market than ours had an internet connection and sent my mum a message to let her know we’d made it back to Negombo in one piece.

Another minibus took us into Colombo.

The traffic was horrific, real bumper-to-bumper stuff, exacerbated by all the drivers being obsessed with switching lanes so they could get a fraction of a second advantage over the other commuters.

Our driver, who’s English was nonexistent took us to the wrong place. Instead of where he was meant to drop us he took us to where we were meant to get picked up. It took a while but finally we got him to take us to the original destination, the train station.

We’d chosen there so we were in the centre and could have a wander.

A quick stop at the bank and we grabbed dinner at this cool little place, which according to Llyw’s Lonely Planet was used in the filming of the video for the classic “Hungry By The Wolf” by Duran Duran. I can’t say I remember the video, so its clearly not as iconic as the ones for “Wild Boys”, “Rio” or “A View To A Kill”, so I’ll have to YouTube it when I get back to the UK:

It was cheap, and the food nice, although our aged waiter was a miserable sod, although if I’d served Simon Le Bon and the lads I’d be fed up to be carrying rice out to some sweaty and wilting tourists.

That fat guy’s no Simon, he probably thought wistfully, he’s not even wearing sunglasses. And his hair’s not even slightly feathered.

The place also did cakes at ridiculously low prices so we indulged ourselves. I had a rum ball, and the maker had clearly been liberal with the rum, just the way I like it.

From there we wandered down to the market. The shopping district was a mesh of narrow streets, bustling with people and vehicles which beeped as they attempted to wind their way through the crowds.

Shops were tiny things with their wares stacked or hanging around the storefront, the proprietors stood outside calling out to passersby.

But there was no hard sell, after the offer was politely refused they let you be. And the offers were all polite and friendly.

I really dug this, the hustle and bustle, the items on sale ranging from fine fabrics to miscellaneous tat like head massagers.

I bought a cheap wallet and a fruit drink on the street. A literal fruit drink. The guy loped off the top of the fruit, crack a hole in it and give you a straw to drink the sweet, milky contents before ditching the husk. I was warned that I’d regret this purchase, but it was delish, and there was no fallout.

Laurence bought some fabrics so that he could make a suit on his return home. In one textiles shop I admired some bright, patterned cloth that would have made a pretty cool shirt and smiled at the cute shopgirl with big brown eyes, and a shy, warm smile.

We tuk-tuked to the Galle Face Hotel, Laurence and I unable to convince our driver to race the others. At the hotel we walked past a wedding party and took some seats out on the terrace, where we ordered some cocktails to wrap up our holiday.

The mood was relaxed, and we chatted and joked away, the feeling in the group was good. And the cocktails gave me a warm glow.

Long Island Iced Tea- The king of cocktails

Life was good.

The rest of the evening saw us bus back and have food before crawling into bed, happy and content.

Part Three- Up In The Air

We got up early, showered, packed and headed to the airport.

The first flight was okay, I read some of Keith and watched American Pickers, this show about two guys who buy people’s old junk and sell it on. Like Wheeler Dealers, American Hotrod and American Chopper its one of those shows where sod all happens yet manages to be utterly mesmerising. It seems like a cool way to make a living, trawling through old stuff and selling it on, hearing the old stories that go with the stuff and finding lost treasures.

American Pickers- Mesmerising mundanity

The only problem with the show is that the guys are dicks to the quite foxy woman who works with them who’s stuck back at the office while they drive around treasure hunting. Personally I wouldn’t mind having her along.

Danielle- Why would you not want her around?

Doha was just as hot on the way out, although the dry heat was a relief after the omnipresent humidity we’d endured in Sri Lanka.

The second leg, while longer, came with a choice of movies so I sat down to watch Rebel Without A Cause and Fast 5, and I may lose cool points for this, but I definitely preferred the latter. James Dean was no Rock.

We touched down, and it cloudy over Heathrow. I was in mixed emotions about being home. I’d missed the UK and its many charms, but I’d loved Sri Lanka and the relaxed pace of living. And there, I didn’t have a job I hate.

Review: Cowboys And Aliens

Apart from Snakes On A Plane, no film has sold itself as much on its title than Cowboys And Aliens. All you need is the title and you can already kind of picture what the film will be like, and if you have any kind of soul makes you want to see it.

Cowboys and Aliens, does what it says on the tin.

Cowboys, good. Aliens, good. Combining the two should be gold. I thought, ignoring the whole Alien Vs Predator thing.

Luckily, this time it delivered on the promise.

The film follows a fella (Daniel Craig) who wakes up in the desert with no memory and a weird bracelet on his wrist. All he seems to remember is how to talk and kick ass. And mainly the kicking ass part.

He rides into the small mining town of Absolution where he beats up the son of the local BSD, and meets Ella (Olivia Wilde) mysterious girl (just added the “ohh” part from the Andre classic then) who seems to know something about him. The sheriff recognises him from a wanted poster as Lonergan, an outlaw, and nabs him.

The local BSD, Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) arrives in town to get his son out of trouble and realises that Lonergan is the man who robbed his gold. He demands they be handed over, which the Sheriff opposes. Before the matter can be resolved some aliens show up and start blowing stuff up and snatching people, including Dolarhyde’s son, the Sheriff and the wife of the timid barkeeper, Doc (Sam Rockwell).

During the attack, Lonergan’s bracelet switches on and is revealed to be a powerful weapon.

The next day, Lonergan and Dolarhyde’s posse set out, followed by Ella, the local preacher, Doc and the Sheriff’s young grandson.

After a close encounter Dolarhyde’s men scarper, apart from his right-hand man, the Indian Nat (Adam Beach), who idolises Dolarhyde. Dolarhyde continues to be a gruff, tough talking badass, clearly haunted by his time as a Colnel fighting the Indians, which he dislikes talking about.

The group continue, along the way meeting Lonergan’s former gang and Indians. Ella reveals why she knows so much about the aliens and the motley crew attack the ship to rescue their kidnapped family members and friends.

The film is a slice of blockbuster genius, keeping the thrills and spills coming while also giving the characters decent story arcs. After the Iron Man films, we already know that Favreau is a gifted filmmaker at this level, able to balance action, humour and characters in a way that puts him in a league above the likes of Michael Bay.

I was a bit concerned that there might be a dip in quality as with the Iron Man films, Favreau has Robert Downey Jr’s charisma to pick up a lot of the slack, and Daniel Craig is no RDJ. But Craig is a revelation, managing to create a likable character from a minimally written part and utterly convincing as a tough guy.

The rest of the cast does well, in particular Ford, who in Dolarhyde gives his best performance in years, a character with dark edges, but Ford’s inate likability means that you stick with the character and his development over the course of the film.

Wilde is well cast as Ella, seeming comfortable with the gun in her belt and her attractive, if unconventional features, make her stand out and lend her an otherworldly quality that suits the part.

Olivia Wilde, oddly beautiful

The world is realised well and the design of the aliens is interesting.

All in all a fun, well executed summer blockbuster. 4/5.

Trailerwatch

Kicking off the list of forthcoming attractions is the new version of Conan The Barbarian. It looks like it could be quite good fun, although it reamains to be seen whether Jason Momoa can fill Arnie’s shoes. Should be good, daft, sword and sorcery fun.

Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, hear the lamentations of their women.

A bit of an odd proposition is Real Steel, which I’m sure lazy critics will describe as “Rocky meets Rock ’em, sock ’em robots”. Looks like it’ll be a heartwarming tale of a father and son relationship as washed up ex-boxer Hugh Jackman and his son train a robot to fight. I worry that if I go see this film and the robot gets annihalated at the end I may wind up crying.

I can already feel myself welling up

I was going to say that the new Three Musketeers film could go either way, but scratch that, its gonna lick balls. They say in the trailer its “based on Alexandre Dumas’ novel” but they should really add “extremely loosely” in there. Milady is now a kung fu assassin (played by Milla Jovovich) and Buckingham is now a villain who commands flying warships, yes, you read that right. And he’s played by Orlando Bloom, so one of the few appealing factors is seeing how Bloom manages as a bad guy. The other plus point is the presence of Ray Stevenson as Porthos.

The bad signs just keep coming. Aramis, my favourite musketeer is largely absent from the trailer and Mathew Macfayden has never impressed and looks unlikely to do so as Athos.

But worst of all is D’artagnan, played by Logan Lerman (me neither) who in every single appearance in the trailer is immensely slappable. But the major warning sign I discovered on checking the film out on IMDb, as its direted by serial cinema criminal Paul W.S. Anderson, who’s made 2 films that are actually watchable (Death Race and Event Horizon) amongst a sea of dross (Mortal Kombat, Resident Evil, AVP, Soldier). I’ll wait for DVD.

Ethan Hunt returns! I have to say I’m really excited about Mission: Impossible- Ghost Protocol because I’m a massive fan of the franchise, I think the previous 3 installments have all worked because they’ve been different from each other and I look forward to seeing this one. It also helps that it looks like there’ll be more Simon Pegg in this one and it features man of the moment, Jeremy Renner.

If The Three Musketeers looked bad it looks positively genius compared to Johnny English Reborn, which looks terminally unfunny and which I refuse to see on the basis that I can’t be witness to Gillian Anderson sinking this low.

Sri Lanka 10 Okanda

August 2nd, 7:20PM

Today was our last full day in Arugam Bay, tomorrow we leave at 10AM.

I had, unsurprisingly, a lazy day. I read more of Keef’s book and did some crosswords, I know, how rock ‘n’ roll am I?

I’d thought Llyw was off with me, and tried to figure out what I’d done wrong to piss him off. He’s got a pretty long fuse and has put up with my innumerable faults for the 7 months we’ve lived together, so it must have been something bad, but I was damned if I knew what it was.

It turned out I was imagining it, and Llyw was just tired. This was probably due to my paranoia that the rest of the group was pissed off that they were forced to put up with me for 2 extra days, after the solo joint fell through.

Later on our tuk-tuk ride Llyw and I chatted away and he seemed cheery enough. I think his funk was just tiredness coupled with the fact that he has more to miss back home than I do.

We were tuk-tuking to Okanda, a little way down the coast where there’s a beach and a temple. Llyw and I in one tuk tuk, Laurence and Hannah in the other.

Halfway there, Fareek pulled up and offered us the chance to climb this big sacred rock. Were we up for it?

There followed a chorus of “I don’t minds”, the traditional British response when noone wants to make a decision that might inconvenience someone else.

Realising that following this course would probably take some time I decided to take charge and solve this, Harvey Dent style.

All decisions can be made the Two Face way.

Tails.

We didn’t go.

Okanda was, on first impressions a massive disappointment. A dusty little town where the road runs out. A Sri Lankan version of the kind of place the teenager’s van breaks down in horror movies.

We were also arriving just after a big Hindu festival, lending the place a “morning after” vibe. There was litter everywhere amongst the flattened grass, the place must have been bouncing.

We wandered to the temple, a big walled affair with intricate carvings, bright colours, gaudy plastic statues and fairy lights.

I really dug the kind of DIY simplicity of it, there was a feeling that it was much used and loved by the people, who’d really made an effort to decorate and maintain it. Back home a lot of our churches are drab and clearly unchanged for years, they feel like relics from a time since past, as opposed to a vibrant part of community life.

Asking entrance from a toothless local we recieved no reply, which we took as a no. It was one of very few instances of rudeness from a Sri Lankan.

Instead we clmbed up to a smaller temple on the large rock the village is built around.

A simple affair but in a fantastic location, the rock providing a panoramic view of the gorgeous bay.

I snapped a few shots and then descended. My flip flops almost sent me flying so I went barefoot down the rock.

Then we went to the beach.

The beach was lush, the sun shining brightly, the sea of blue, we’d seen it in the movies and now we saw it true.

The guys climbed over a rock to the next bay but after struggling up a few feet I decided to stop. I’ve always found that the things which are hard to get up are painfully easy to come down off.

And anyway, there was a way around.

The other bay was even better, fishing boats waiting to go out and the scruffy mutts you see everywhere here running along the shore.

I had a quick dip and then chilled on the beach.

We wandered back through the fishing village, a collection of simple huts in amongst the trees.

Back at what I suppose you could call the town centre, I wandered into a shop to buy a bottle of pop. An ancient woman sat behind the counter.

“How much?” I asked, holding the bottle.

She replied, at length, in a language I didn’t understand. I tried gesturing with my hands but this didn’t work.

I put down a note.

“Enough?”

Shake of the head. Another note.

“Enough.”

In response? The Sri Lankan head-bob, a combination of nodding and head shaking, which can mean any of numerous things- yes, no, maybe, I don’t know, can you repeat the question?

Another note, smaller this time. This must be enough, I thought.

More head bobbling.

The head-bob looks a bit like this

I turned to my fellow customers.

“How much is this?”

Blank faces.

Luckily at this point Ibrahim entered and sorted it, taking back one of the notes and I left glad I’d avoided getting shafted.

On the way back Laurence and Hannah decided to go up the rock, while Llw and I continued home.

It had been a good last day, I thought, with Eastern Sri Lanka providing some glorious sights and a wonderful, chilled out atmosphere.

But SL wasn’t done and had a couple more wonders for us.

About 5 minutes after the split, Llyw let out an excited “Elephant!” and there he was. At most 150 yards away, idly chewing on a branch was a juvenile bull.

We watched him for a bit, because he magnificent. I don’t think any animal is as oddly beautiful as the elephant. If you were to describe them they sound ridiculous (long, moving snout? Floppy ears? Grey?) but then you see them and they’re just majestic.

Buzzed we drove on. Our next sighting had a different effect entirely.

Crossing the road in front of us was a 4ft weaving black shape.

Cobra.

It was massive.

My attempt at a picture was awful but I was damned if I’d go closer. For once, however, I was the calmer of the two of us, snakes being Llyw’s major heebie-jeebie maker. He’d moved way over my side of the tuk tuk and on passing where the serpent had vanished into the undergrowth he asked Ibrahim to pull to the other side of the road.

Now we were filled with nervous excitement, and I unleashed my inner Steve Irwin (RIP) when I thought I saw was a croc. It was a fish though.

The late, great Steve Irwin.

The drive back I thought about the trip and Sri Lanka. While the list of things I missed about home grew steadily (family, friends, my sofa, cider, Subway, Friends repeats etc.) I’d be sad to leave, and would definitely like to return. I’d love to see the ancient cities and the hill country.

The people were lovely, friendly and polite. The countryside and wildlife is astounding. I love this place.

With the sun setting the drive back was idyllic. Lush green rice fields, kids playing, shrines and temples. Three young lads whipping by sharing the same motorbike, the phrase “riding bitch” and the attatched stigma clearly hasn’t been translated here, and maybe it never should.

Two soldiers at a checkpoint, looking like bored lads at a bus stop, one texting while his buddy lazily smoked. Women strolled at the side of the road dressed in saris, chatting away. Wonderful.

Later that evening Llyw and I blew away Crocodile Dundee/Steve Irwin fantasies we may have harboured out of the water.

Llyw moved a chair, displacing a large cockroach which took flight, prompting a startled yelp from Llyw. It then landed on my notepad and I let out a girlish squeal heard right across the compound.

Yeah, we truly were rugged adventurers.

Sri Lanka 9 Stuck

If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans“- Woody Allen

Part 1- 1st August, 11:21am

Arugam bay, s***, I’m still only in Arugam bay.

I thought my next entry would Batticola, Pollonaruwa or scribbled on a sweaty bus journey.

But I’m not. I’m lying on the balcony of the cabin.

I have been struck down.

It started yesterday afternoon with a slught grumbling in my guts. I ignored it- spicy food and I’d been loose for a while.

But by the evening it was worse and this morning I was forced to abandon my trip North.

I’m really gutted about it! The feeling in the camp has improved after a few minor falling outs last week, but still I was looking forward to lighting out on my own and seeing the ancient cities of Pollonaruwa and Anuradhapura.

It’d give me a chance to see more of the country and break out of this kind of loafing, beach bum existence I have here in Arugam Bay, which while fun is starting to feel like a wasted opportunity.

Also I kind of wanted to get away and having some time to myself.

But feeling this rough I didn’t fancy a long bus ride. So the plan changed today I would recuperate- sleep, lots of water, read some Keith Richards, listen to podcasts and scribble away in the hope that by the evening I’d be feeling better.

And so I am living by one of this trip’s oft-repeated phrases:

Make a plan, change a plan

So tomorrow if the PTB smile upon me I will go to Ella and then Kandy before reuniting with the guys in Colombo.

Hopefully next time I write I’ll be up in the hills.

Part 2- 1st August, 5:35pm

Well, the proposed Ella-Kandy trip has bitten the dust. There’s only one train and it arrives in Kandy at 2:30am.

Hmmmm, I’m out.

So no solo jaunt on this trip.

Okanda with the guys tomorrow and then bussing across on Wednesday.

Hopefully the full day in Colombo will make up for it.

Random Musings

As this is a bit of a short post and I want to get the Sri Lankan ones out of the way, here’s a bunch of random things I scribbled during the trip:

20/7

Who in the hell would by condoms called “rough riders”? Its a truly hideous connotation to apply to them? Seriously, just a stupid name. Although, thinking about it I’ve never seen why they picked Trojan either, as isn’t the entire point of Troy was that the Greeks got in. I just have the image of sperm sawing and hammering a wooden horse together to trick the rubber.

* * *

The Boss’ original of “The Ghost Of Tom Joad” is nothing like the Rage Against The Machine version, but both are brilliant. The Boss’ has a kind of simplistic beauty and captures the desperation, which the RAtM version does as well but adds anger and turns the “I’ll be there” refrain into a battlecry.

* * *

Sign that it’s been too long since I’ve had sex- listening to Gillian Anderson’s Desert Island Discs episode I got a little thrill, that voice!

Gillian Anderson, be still my beating heart.

* * *

George Foreman will now be my hero and inspiration. This is due to hearing about his come back to boxing to be champ at 45.

Foreman becomes World Champion at 45 and gives Sports Illustrated to use an extremely cheesy headline

* * *

A week of no TV and my mind is constantly replaying a scene from The Big Bang Theory that I watched on the flight. Here you go:

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