Hey, Barbecutie

Archive for the ‘nonsense’ Category

Because I’m nothing if not a monumental messer, I’ve taken a break from the movie writing nonsense to focus on something much more meaningful – a countdown of the best outfits of the year.  For a couple of reasons:

  1. I love lists.
  2. I love clothes.
  3. Sometimes people wear capes and I think we need to acknowledge that.

Here are some highlights:

The only resolution for 2011 that I managed to keep (and how) was to catalogue every film I watched throughout the year. I watch a lot of films. Some pretentious and in foreign speak, some pointless and centred around bodily fluids. And a couple of them were pretty good. I think I probably expected some kind of grand epiphany. More likely, it was a symptom of a nervous breakdown. Nonetheless, it was the one area of my life I had any control over.

In 2011, I watched 159 films, which is around 13 a month or 3 a week. This says that I either watch too many or not enough films, depending on your point of view. My most cineaste month was January, implying that my enthusiasm for the project crumbled fairly earlier on. My least filmy month was November, implying that I was incredibly socially popular that month, and also that my laptop broke so I was unable to watch any dvds.

My most watched film was Bridesmaids, which I saw 3 times, which I suppose kind of follows, given that it’s a phenomenon, what with women turning out to be funny and also being able to wear dresses in magazines and all that. It is a very good film, so I’m okay with how it turned out. My least watched film is all the films that didn’t make my list, because I didn’t watch them.

I can’t say I disliked any film this year. I tend to be fairly open minded, and if I suspect I won’t like a film, I won’t watch it, as I’m a big fan of autonomy. There are plenty I wouldn’t watch again, but that’s more to do with how I will at some point die and would rather spend my remaining days watching new films and rewatching films I like a lot. I think that’s reasonable.

Amongst my favourite films of the year (new, not re-watches) were True Grit (2010), Bridesmaids, Drive, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Martha Marcy May Marlene, but my favourite was Submarine. Submarine I saw twice, after starting to read the novel and losing interest very early on, but the combination of Richard Ayoade and some of my favourite actors got me extremely interested. On the first watch, I was disappointed. Something about it left me cold, a bit upset, really. Not that I was expecting banana skins, but it was so melancholy. But it stuck with me. After a few months, and the dampening of my own mood, I felt a weird, intense yearning to see it again. Then, I saw its wry humour, the admirably self-involved protagonist, the delicate sketching of relationship dynamics, self-destruction, wrapped up in a visually beautiful and creative shell.

I can’t resign the exercise without saying one last thing: this was really difficult. It took some of the pleasure out of the film-watching experience. I found myself assessing the quality of each film before I watched it, knowing that at some point I wanted to put the final list online. Could I live with myself knowing that my friends and respected peers knowing I spent an evening watching The Devil Wears Prada? So I switched over halfway through. (Perhaps what was more harrowing was the realisation of my own snobbery.) Of course there’s plenty of crap that did make it onto the list. But this kind of regimented examination sucked the joy from one of the most valuable elements of the process – the freedom. Cinema is meant, at its heart, to take you away. They tell fantastical stories, introduce characters that intrigue us, show us a familiar world in a new way. It’s hard to take a voyage through the medium with the albatross of self-image around your neck. This year, I will be watching whatever I damn well please whenever I want.

Below the cut is the complete list of every film I watched in 2011:
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A winter chill whipped through the castle. Bing, tired of the day, tired of the unstoppable march of time and how festive revelry reminded him of it, resolved to head to the nest in the cellar where he made his bed. The ornate decorations made him feel ill, garish colours mocking him. As he entered the hallway, the doorbell rang. Bing paused as he contemplated ignoring the disturbance, but curiosity provoked him. He opened the door to a waif, sickly in pallor, inadequately dressed against the harsh winds.

‘Hello. You the new butler?’ the stranger asked, stepping inside, his arms tightly crossed to preserve heat. He glanced quickly at the surroundings, all old money and tacky artefacts. Bing stood out awkwardly amongst it, a different type of antique. More at home at the golf course, the stranger thought.

Bing laughed politely, unnerved by the sudden intrusion. ‘Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve been the new anything.’

The stranger tore off his scarf, his body suddenly molten now that he was indoors. Old people’s houses were always so warm. ‘What happened to Hudson?’ he asked, testing Bing’s mettle. He was eager to prolong his stay.

‘I guess he’s changing,’ Bing replied, trying to sound confident.

‘Yeah, he does that a lot, doesn’t he?’ the stranger said. Just as he suspected. The old man was as much a vagrant as he was. He’d be damned if Bing hadn’t snuck in through some rusting grate round the back. Stepping further into the old house, he introduced himself. ‘I’m David Bowie, I live down the road.’ He allowed himself a secret smile. It was almost true. The old man seemed to believe him at least. ‘Sir Percival lets me use his piano if he’s not around,’ he continued, weaving his web, ‘he’s not around, is he?’

‘I can honestly say I haven’t seen him,’ Bing said, suspicious of his visitor’s claims. Bing himself had lived life hard on the circuit, and knew by the teeth and the nervous stance that this poor bastard was in dire straits. ‘But come on in,’ he insisted, ‘come in!’

Bowie was hesitant, but the home comforts were too alluring. He could easily take the old man if he needed to, he supposed. Together they edged past the crudely decorated Christmas tree, stepping on the tinsel as it dripped to the floor, neither certain of where the piano rested, neither able to admit it.

The silence made Bowie anxious. Perhaps there were other old tramps about the castle, ready to strike. He kept his head down, trying to fill the silence. ‘Are you related to Sir Percival?’ he asked. Bowie hoped that by keeping the pressure on the old man’s story, he would be subdued.

‘Well, distantly,’ Bing said, trying not to be drawn. As time went on, he found it more difficult to keep track of stories. It wouldn’t be safe to be caught in a lie.

Awkwardly the pair leant on the piano, unsure of how to proceed. Bowie’s toes were soggy, defrosting from the snowy streets. He fought to resist his paranoia. He was not there to face some mad old geezer, Bowie told himself, but to escape the weather. ‘You’re not the poor relation from America, right?’ he said, his words jumbled, but hoping the old man would participate in the tale.

Bing had been studying the vase of flowers, trying to think up a believable background. Hearing Bowie’s question, he laughed, relieved to receive a lifeline. ‘Gee, news sure travels fast, doesn’t it? I’m Bing.’

They shook hands, feeling the goodwill of the season.

‘Oh, I’m pleased to meet you,’ Bowie said, almost sincere. Looking back to the piano, he added, ‘You’re the one that sings, right?’

‘Well, right or wrong, I sing either way.’

Bowie smiled. ‘Oh well, I sing too.’

‘Oh good! What kind of singing?’ Bing kept a steady demeanour, but was confused by the conversation’s path.

‘Mostly the contemporary stuff,’ Bowie replied, hoping the old man wasn’t up to date. ‘Do you, uh, do you like modern music?’

Bing inhaled sharply. If he deflected enquiries, he would be safe. ‘Oh, I think it’s marvellous! Some of it really fine. But tell me, you ever listen to any of the older fellows?’

Bowie relaxed, noting the old man’s vagueness. ‘Oh yeah, sure,’ he teased, ‘I like, uh, John Lennon and the other one with uh…Harry Nilsson.’

‘You go back that far, huh?’

‘Yeah, I’m not as young as I look,’ Bowie said, pleased that Bing’s retorts were sharp. It had been a while since he had engaged in conversation not relating to alms or criminality. It made him feel close to human again. Almost alive.

‘None of us is these days,’ Bing said, laughing in that gentle manner once more, belying his sadness.

A pall of melancholy befell the pair. Bowie’s eyes glazed. ‘In fact, I’ve got a six year old son,’ he began, feeling able to confide to this empty old man in this empty old house, ‘and he really gets excited around the Christmas holiday thing.’

‘Do you go in for anything of the traditional things in the Bowie household, Christmas time?’

Bowie walked behind him towards the keyboard, concentrating on the sheet music as he choked down regrets. ‘Oh yeah, most of them really,’ he said, pausing to clear his head. ‘Presents, tree, decorations, agents sliding down the chimney…’

‘What?’ Bing asked.

‘Oh, I was just seeing if you were paying attention.’

Bing laughed again. Smug bastard, he thought.

‘Actually, our family do most of the things that other families do,’ Bowie said, his lies interweaving with his dreams. ‘We sing the same songs.’

‘Do you?’

‘Oh, I even have a go at White Christmas,’ Bowie explained, his fractured memory struggling to find a more traditional carol.

‘You do, eh?’ Bing said, willing to let the young man have his moment.

‘And this one,’ Bowie continued, tapping one of the manuscripts, ‘this is my son’s favourite. Do you know this one?’

Bing smiled. There was something about seeing his own isolation reflected back in Bowie’s strange delusions that made him feel kind, almost fatherly. He had not been so different at Bowie’s age. So many mistakes. ‘Oh, I do indeed, it’s a lovely theme,’ he said.

Bowie leant down to the keyboard, pretending to play a few notes as an instrumental chimed from the radio in another room. Bing watched, filled with pity. Bowie moved away, and the radio’s song played on. The two men stood side by side, mimicking each other’s position, resting on the piano with one arm, the other bent at the elbow, so they were almost but not quite touching. The music filled the room, overwhelming the howling winds outside, washing away each man’s loneliness and selfish intent. Separately they were swept up in the melody, lost in reverie, seeing past moments unfurl before them, not observing with regret but with understanding, all but forgetting a stranger stood next to them. Together, they began to sing, not for each other, or for an audience, but for themselves, a song to remind them that unity was possible, that mankind could still extend a kindness to lost men on cold days. A song that said two men alone are at least alone together.

The best part is Beau Brummell at the side there

Good night looters, and commuters,
and watchful nerds on your computers,
soon the embers start to fade
on your rambunctious cavalcade.
The crow bar man with balaclava,
the officer faced with the palaver,
Count you softly each cracked head
as you drift sweetly to your bed.
Think us all what we have proved,
how this has solved each fraying feud.
The sun is forced down by the night
but still this town will stay alight.




You’re welcome.

And now, a look at the week that was:

Bitches be singing along to post-Franco era Spanish pop songs despite not speaking any Spanish.

Bitches be forgetting to buy Father’s Day cards.

Bitches be saying they’ll make you a mix CD and then not getting round to it, but also sometimes getting round to it, so bitches be not all bad.

Bitches be going to work despite being unwell.

Bitches be buying halloumi and not getting round to eating it, despite really really looking forward to eating the halloumi, but bitches have half a stir fry to finish before it goes out of date, and bitches also just made soup that bitches should either freeze or, I don’t know, something.

Bitches be registering for a GP after only 3 years in London, then subsequently making like eight appointments all the while apologising profusely.

Bitches be reading up on the “Paul McCartney died and was replaced” conspiracies until they sort of believe it, so bitches quickly stop and look up tortoise pictures instead.

Bitches be looking into career prospects by googling the phrase “teachng adult literacy” [sic] and then feeling that it may be a dead end.

Bitches be returning items to a shop then immediately going out and buying other items worth double the initial returned items because bitches be bad with their finances.

Bitches be writing verse form love poetry about boys who broke their heart and feeling slightly embarrassed about the fact.

Bitches be crazy…good at making salads.

Most of my Easter break has been spent watching old Norm MacDonald clips, on account of him being The Best. While this clip from the Bob Saget roast is pretty old now, it is also the exact moment that comedy, as an artform, peaked.


this man is for the birds
– Watch more Videos at Vodpod.

(embed is a bit hit-or-miss, but it’s definitely working directly from the site)

I had a voicemail from one of our IT team to fix my computer, and I was not looking forward to calling him back (basically know that he has a goatee). And also I hate phonecalls and answerphones because I’m one of those people. But I did and he was away, so I went begrudgingly left a voicemail. I explained I was returning his call and finished with what was meant to be “give me a call back” or “get back to me when you have a chance” but ended up saying “so, if you could just give me a chance…?”

He’s been very helpful ever since.

Everyone knows Blondie as one of the most iconic acts of the new wave spectrum, famous for a litany of hits, experiments with different musical styles (disco, punk, rap) and a photogenic steely-eyed blonde called Deborah Harry. Their greatest accomplishment is sadly forgotten, however, as the primary inspiration on the later musical career of the actor Joe Pesci.

More famous for playing a series of terrible haircuts in film classics such as Goodfellas, Raging Bull, Casino and JFK (this is not a man who suits hair), Pesci’s showbiz career was originally more music-focused, with the release of the depressingly-titled Little Joe Sure Can Sing in 1968. After this first sweet taste of musical infamy, its follow-up came a mere thirty years later, with an album called, according to its unfortunately designed cover, IMAGE LINK Sings Just For You Vincent LaGuardia Gambini (his character in My Cousin Vinny). It is with this album that the Blondie/Pesci rivalry comes to a head, with its most notorious track, a Rapture-sampling ode to the gangsta way of life called Wise Guy.

(better sound quality here)

Any novice music fan can find many differences between the Blondie classic and young upstart Pesci’s rap track. But is it truly fair to compare creative expression? How dare we judge them on anything other than individual virtue? And yet, by his specific choice of musical backdrop, Pesci himself seems to challenge us to draw a comparison between these two musical giants. Did not Vanilla Ice release Ice Ice Baby with the sole purpose of laying claim to his own place on the pantheon alongside Queen and David Bowie? Well, perhaps not.

Rapture became an unlikely pioneer of the rap format, becoming the first rap single to reach number one in the US Billboard charts, thereby proving that anything black people can do as an expression of their marginalisation in a white-dominated society, white people can do with less rhythm and more emphasis on alien invasion. Despite namechecking Fab Five Freddy and Grandmaster Flash, the crux of the song focuses on a tale of aliens coming down to earth, eating people, buildings and a variety of cars, all delivered in Harry’s patented detached, slightly angry delivery.

Pesci, however, chooses to tell a very different story. Some people think that, as an actor, the tough guy schtick is simply a performance, a façade, an Oscar-winning façade, but they would be wrong. Pesci, the star of Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, is that self-same fuck shit up badass motherfucker from off of the films*, as he proudly explains in Wise Guy, it’s a lovely day in the neighbourhood for a driveby. You see, Pesci proclaims, he is a prolific murderer. Over the course of the rap, he claims responsibility for the death of five people (providing the brother being hit by a truck proved fatal), as well as numerous threats, largely aimed at the listener, including a promise to turn up with some men to “take your eyes”.

However, Pesci preserves his most rampant rhymes for those wiley hos. It’s the bitches that’ll gitcha, Pesci imparts repeatedly, making up a term for get you (plural) that no one has used before or since, because that’s how Joe rolls. Pesci, having clearly had a rough time with the ladies in the past, possibly due to the poor calibre and quality of wigs sported in his filmic output (speculation), and this has left him wary of the fairer sex. There are six instances of violent aggression towards ex-girlfriends, rich supermodels, and generic bitches. Fortunately, Naomi Campbell (cast as “brunette chick whose father Pesci heard had stocks and bonds, leading him to fuck ‘em up and leave ‘em floatin’ in a pond” ) seems to take it in good stead, possibly appreciating how Pesci also gives back to the community, as well as murdering and assaulting select members, as demonstrate in the opening moments of the Wise Guy video where he hands out dollar-dollar bills to street urchins on account of them staying in school.

It’s not all egregious acts of violent misogyny and mafia-related murderisation. Pesci’s is also teaching us the ways and means with which to live the High Life. The President, then Bill Clinton, everyone’s favourite cheating, morally-questionable saxophonist, calls him, presumably for some advice on the proper care and management of reeds, causing Pesci to claim that he will call him back, proving that all men are equal in the eyes of Joe. Pesci celebrates the fact that he never gets a ticket, probably on account of his fine driving skills, or the fact that there’s rarely enough space to park a limousine in high traffic areas. He enjoys visiting sporting events and fine millenary, and values intellect and respect, which conveniently rhyme. He assures us he does not do crack, thereby keeping a clear head to commit acts of massive violence.

It is clear that there is a subtle double-meaning to the song’s title, not simply a reference to his characterisation in Scorsese’s ouvre and indeed the stereotypical of the Italian-Americans in the media, and their unfair association with the mob. Indeed Pesci is a Wise Guy, an individual with a unique and compelling world view with much to teach us in the ways of living and rhyming flyyy tunes. I shall leave you with the most charming quadruplet, that sums up Pesci’s whole attitude, the balance of street smarts and sophisticated eloquence, the yin and the yang, that embody the complex, engaging vitality that ensures he remains at the forefront of our cultural and sociological lexicon:

Her mother didn’t like me, I never gave a fuck
Her brother didn’t like me, I hit him with a truck
Her sister was a rip, everybody got a ride
Her father was a rat, so I buried him alive

* It may or may not be worth noting that Joe Pesci does not appear to have a criminal record.

Sunny Warrenpoint

I live in London but sporadically return to Northern Ireland, to the small town where I lived since birth. I once had an idea to write down every internal thought not related to an external event (i.e. one that was actually occurring in reality) over the course of a single day. Then I realised that it would mostly be me thinking about kissing. So I did this instead:

A bad place to get the giggles is when being frisked by airport security. It makes you look more suspicious and with an accent like mine, you can’t get much more suspicious. No, it is not appropriate to tell them that this is the most physical contact you’ve had with another human being in weeks.

Male body hair is inevitable, and mostly inoffensive, unless it takes the form of a hairshirt so intense that it peeks out a good inch above the collar of your t-shirt, and especially when I’m stuck behind you at close proximity in a queue for nearly half an hour. It was an unhappy occasion.

Heathrow crosses itself – the people coming from Ireland and the people going to Ireland cross paths, separated by glass partitions. We don’t look at each other. On one side, sepia pictures of London landmarks welcome the arrivals. Our side get the Irish counterparts, blurry, generic green fields and aged Celtic crosses. A bridge. Nothing so iconic as Nelson or Big Ben. But in a way that makes me even more ready to escape.
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