Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Indiana Jones and the Deus Ex Machina

DISCLAIMER: THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS

I say this knowing that I may get a fair amount of flak for it, but Indiana Jones is the single most useless movie hero in cinematic history. I love the movies, but really, what does he do? He always seems to merely lead to bad guys to the artifacts they so desperately seek, whereupon they discover that, OH MAN, the ancient object was too powerful for them, dudes, and dissolve (or something). In the new one it's no different; basically Cate Blanchett just follows Indy to the place where she can use the plastic (sorry, crystal) skull, then there's an alien, and it thinks at her too much and she incinerates as a result of "too much knowledge" (probably in this case Derrida's Of Grammatology, or potentially Middlemarch). Nothing to do with Indiana Jones. He didn't actually do anything, he just didn't try to put a stop to it when the villain was getting her comeuppance.

But that being said, the movie was still pretty entertaining. And I can't fault Indy for being useless, I'd do the same if that kind of thing always happened: "You want the skull? Fine, go ahead ... don't say I didn't warn you!"

Also, I have no idea if this pattern was followed for Temple of Doom, because I've blocked it out of my memory. My babysitter showed it to me when I was 7, and because of that heart scene I haven't been able to hear the words Kali, or Kali-Ma, or even the name Carly pronounced in an English accent, without cringing in fear ever since.

Monday, 19 May 2008

too emotional to get involved...

I wanted to comment on Gareth McLean's blog on the Guardian Comment is Free site today, entitled Admit it: The Simpsons is the best sitcom ever made and just shout out how utterly, eternally write he is, and hug him, and then twirl with him through a flower-draped field while laughing at the memory of that episode where Homer gets all the spiders on his face...

But then I looked at the comments and realized I was far too emotionally involved to comment. So here is my two cents - The Simpsons is not only the greatest sitcom ever made, it is the greatest television show ever made, and one of the most greatest collaborative pieces of art ever created. There, I said it. It never "jumped the shark tayears ago," as "hansofoundation" says, nor has it been "shit for a decade," as "gingerjon" says. It is a ridiculously strong television program, and I say this as a FUCKING AUTHORITY. I have watched at least one episode of the Simpsons every single day for the last 14 years. You just have to look at it like all television shows - sometimes you may encounter one episode you do not like. But out of over 400 episodes, that's a pretty good track record.

In one particularly misguided comment, "RexZeppelin," writes:

"But sadly they carried on for too long and now the shows frequrntly end in mad, zany out-there situations that are just loud and obnoxious. Homer has become very hard to like in recent seasons, an annoying oaf who never undersnds what he's done wrong - unlike previous seasons where he learns to accept Lisa's differences, or Marge's POV or whatever. A good example is the PBS one where Homer becomes a missionary and the episodes ends with him about to fall in to lava only for a 'PBS' pop up that demands money. The End. Or where Bart and Homer fake leprosy and spend all their time on a tropical paradise except when they have injections that cause them to scream. Endlessly."

Well, you tool, those examples are from Season ELEVEN, EIGHT YEARS AGO! Have you watched every episode since? No? Well, I have.

Case closed. Anyone who disagrees with me is an uneducated tool. I have LOADS of university degrees to back it up.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Dead Fox

There was a dead fox outside my house today. Well, across the street, but practically in front of my house. It was quite a shock. There I was, out for a morning run (I make it sound as if I do it all the time, but really it was just an excuse to get out in the fresh air and sunshine), and there he was, poor dead fox.

I didn't get too close - I have a horror of death, which comes from having seen too many horror films, and I was afraid if I got too close it would come back to life and bite me, and I'd become some kind of fox/zombie, wandering my nights trying to break into chicken coops, which isn't really how imagined I'd spend my life. But it was quite clear to me that this wasn't roadkill, it had just died. It wasn't on the road, it was on the pavement. It was in pretty good shape, not squished, just laying peacefully on its side. Like it was asleep.

Had Mr. Fox said "fuck, the Conservatives are winning, better get out of the game now" and taken an overdose of slug pellets? Had it been some kind of murder/suicide pact? Did he just get really sad one day? It's all rather creepy. Animals generally hide away when they know they're going to die, so a large fox in the middle of the pavement is a queer thing indeed.

Looking out the window as I write this, I see the fox has been taken away. By who, I wonder? All that's left is a dark shadow on the pavement as the undead fox has risen again to haunt the streets of London.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Don't panic.

It's difficult gauging a crowd with regards to political material. I've had a few jokes about the American election kicking around for awhile, which I usually feel like I can trot out as long as I get the vibe that most people in the room know who Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are. There's a greater distance when talking about an election in a foreign country (yet the media also raises it to celebrity status in the UK, which means it's perfect comedy fodder).

Last night I was in Stoke Newington at a brilliant club called The Poodle Club, and it seemed only appropriate to do a few Boris Johnson jokes on election night... I wasn't sure about the crowd, though. They seemed very middle class, average age 30-35, in a very up and coming area (Stokey) right beside an extremely downtrodden area (Dalston) - their politics could lie anywhere. Luckily they laughed at the jokes and it was a great gig. I still don't know who they supported or voted for, but they enjoyed it nonetheless.

Today, I wake up and see the race is neck and neck, with a prediction for the blond douchebag to win. Oh, I had dreams, I had dreamt that perhaps Boris would get a dismal 2% of the vote and the telly would show him weeping, intercut with random Londoners saying "oh, we never supported Boris at all... we were just doing it for a bit of a larf... lookit his face!" But 'tis not to be. Turns out, people are willing to be seduced by a racist dickhead because his hair looks like a drag queen's wig. Oh, the Brits were so superior over America, with George W Bush and Arnold Schwarzeneggar, but look at London now! Voting for someone with zero qualifications because they'd seen him on Have I Got News For You! At least Schwarzeneggar was in Batman and Robin!

You know what? If it's a joke Londonders want, we deserve what we get. It'll be funny, yes, but funny like a practical joke, i.e. physically hurtful and humiliating. We brought this on ourselves. Ashton Kutcher isn't punking us. If seven-o-clock hits and that idiot is mayor, the joke's on us. Enjoy your larf.

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Back to Blogging, Boooo Boris

That's a fair amount of Bs in that title.

I've decided to relaunch this to get writing more, though no more stupid deadlines or Jon Ronson impersonations - if there's anyone I'm going to impersonate surely it should be Thomas Pynchon (works at home, likes postmodernism). Also, as a brief admin thing - I noticed a comment about gigs - I will try to update my sidebar more frequently from now on, but it's a huge pain in the neck, so my current list is always available on www.myspace.com/broderickchow.

But indeed, I have two bugbears this week. One, is obviously this man:

Who we all know may become Mayor of sodding London this Thursday. Millions may well wake up Friday morning and see that this douche rules the city, subsequently spending the remainder of our lives clawing at the bathroom mirror desperately trying to get back through it.

It's ridiculous to thing to that Boris Johnson might be mayor, isn't it? I mean, I know he's "A LEGERRRNNNND!!!!11" and all (thanks Charlie Brooker for the lolspk usage), and yes, "it'd be a bit of a larf," but please, if you're going to vote for Boris as a joke, just don't... Some jokes are funny, but other jokes are offensive to minorities. Boris Johnson is basically like Teddy Ruxpin if he'd become real and starting hurling racist abuse at black children.

And what is the alternative? This man, who's basically like Zippy from Rainbow but with a more felt-like skin: And those are our choices. Mayor Ken, or a giggling Swedish circus clown.

London is doomed.

Just so you know, people of London, it's ok for you to "have a bit of a larf" with your mayoral candidates, but for us foreigners, who look at London with an objective eye, "comedy" politicians is not a good thing. The Mayor doesn't need to be "a larf," he just needs to be able to run a city. I feel it's a fairly pragmatic job, there's no wars to start or end etc... You just have to be qualified to do it, not gabble on about the shape of the buses all the time. So, on the chance that Boris gets elected, and it goes spectacularly wrong, i.e., it turns out he doesn't even know how to read or something, well, yeah, it'll probably be "a bit of a larf," but we'll have to keep saying to the rest of the world "I guess you had to be there."

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Broderick's Sunday Special #7: Martin Amis - still a twat

Saturday, 24/11/07

The Martin Amis: Racist or just a bigot? debate rages on. Ronan Bennett publishes a column in which he takes Amis to task. Christopher Hitchens retorts. For those of you who are just joining the debate, let me briefly, but rationally, sum up both sides: Martin Amis is a racist.

All hilarity aside, however, this week I did write a letter to The Guardian in response to Hitchens' article "Martin Amis is no racist." Last time I wrote into the Guardian I was expressing my indignity after a well-known British circuit comedian with a G2 column stole several lines verbatim from Margaret Cho's concert DVD I'm The One That I Want. Brazen as you like! I called for her to be taken to criminal court. They didn't respond.

This week I write the following:

Dear Editor,

Re: Martin Amis is no racist - Christopher Hitchens - G2 - 21/11/07 pg 10-11

I am not going to weigh in regarding whether or not Martin Amis is a racist. His views certainly had racist overtones and were distasteful, but in the multitude of shifting contexts it is important that they are aired and debated. However, whether or not he is a racist, Martin Amis will always be the author of Yellow Dog, and for that deserves no less than to be locked in a perspex box filled with fire ants for the rest of his curmudgeonly days. The Eagleton v. Amis dust-up has unfortunately drawn attention away from the real issue: debating whether or not Amis' books have any merit or are simply the literary equivalent of serving up a dog turd on a fancy square plate. I have gotten less pleasure from reading Amis' novels than I have from being puked on by children on long-haul flights.

They don't print the letter.

The only reason I can think for this is that Charlie Brooker somehow got a hold of my letter and saw its comic GENIUS as a threat to his job as writer of Screen Burn, and subsequently had all trace of it destroyed.

Yes. I'm certain that's what happened.

Sunday, 25/11/07

I ride my bike from Cricklewood to Belsize Park. I'm dressed in shirt and sweater vest, woolen blazer and comfy scarf. This is wonderful!, I think, pedaling down Mill Lane. This is exactly how I'd behave on a Sunday if I were a famous writer! Only I'd be carrying my laptop down to the local French cafe and languidly tapping out a second draft of a brilliant, Miranda July-esque short story, not about to start a double shift at a sushi restaurant.

I stop at Starbucks. I'm going to have a Starbucks!, I think, perkily. I go inside and join the extra long queue. Venti-sized queue, if you will. No matter, I shout inside my own head, I have loads of time!

Starbucks is an armageddon of screaming middle class children. A boy is removing the lids of all the travel mugs, spitting inside, and replacing said lid. A barista comes along the line to take our order in advance of us reaching the cashiers, as one might in a queue at immigration, or hospital.

"Can I take the next drink order?" she says to the couple in front of me. They aren't listening. They're talking about whether their front room should be painted "mushroom." What a stupid name for a colour, I think, mushrooms can be anything from black to red. Sometimes blue. "Can I take your drink order," the barista says again. I interrupt them. "Excuse me, I think this lady is asking if you'd like any drinks," I say, politely. The man looks at me as if I'd kicked his grandmother's wheelchair off a cliff. "Two extra shot soy lattes!" he snaps at the barista, affronted by the fact his mushroom tete-a-tete has been interrupted.

Behind me the mother of the kid who's been befouling the travel mugs struggles to keep him in line. She's cutting in front of me as he wails. (He wants a pastry, probably a limited edition Starbucks Christmas Cranberry one). The mother turns to me. "Was I in front of you or behind you? I don't remember."

"You don't remember? That's very weird. Well, I was behind these people," cheeky, horrible woman, I think. Just because she has kids she thinks she can have cuts.

She ducks behind me. "Excuse me," says the man who used to be behind me, "You just cut in front of me!" A full scale row explodes behind me.

Why are people so rude in Britain? my subconscious wails. We're waiting for our drinks now, me and the interior design loving posh twats. "Two extra shot soy lattes!" the drinks-maker says, plunking two paper cups down on the counter.

Watch this, I think, I'll bet he won't even say thank you. His sour-faced wife won't so much as look at people serving her. If I had telekinesis, I'd make their house, their stupid mushroom-coloured house, burn to the ground.

Go on... FLAME ON! I think, furiously.

I look at the man. A panicked look crosses his face. "Thank you very much," he says to the barista.

Puzzled, I collect my drink and leave the store. As I unlock my bicycle I can smell burning wood in the air. It smells like Christmas.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Somerfield; or the miracle of market research


My local supermarket, Somerfield, has recently replaced their ubiquitous plastic basket, that symbol of global standardization, with a new and improved basket, twice as deep, and tapered on the bottom. It’s like shopping with a gardening bucket. I’m sure the tapered design was meant to echo the straw panniers of French markets, allowing loose vegetables to spill gloriously over the edges like Nigella Lawson’s naughty bath fantasies, however, all it does is make it exceedingly difficult for the people of Cricklewood to balance their fish fingers on their chicken kievs. Best, or worst, of all is what I imagine these research and development geniuses consider the coup d’etat: an extendable handle and set of wheels, which allows this new wonder-bucket to be placed on the floor and dragged along like a cosmopolitan Louis Vuitton luggage set, or an old lady shopping trolley.

I’m in Somerfield, doing a weekly shop. I do pride myself on being able to handle change, but I cannot handle this. For one thing, the shopping bucket’s elegant tapered design tapers to a point the size of a mouse’s testicle, meaning that the first part of my shopping ritual is already spoiled. Generally, I go first to the newspaper rack and take a copy of the Guardian. It’s excellent berliner format fit the dimensions of the standard shopping basket precisely, and I would lay the Guardian down on the bottom of the basket, like a bird lining its nest. What am I supposed to do this time? I think. “Well I suppose,” I mumble to myself, and roll the newspaper up. Polly Toynbee’s sensible face will be creased like a drying dish towel now, I think, and something irrevocably dies inside me.

It gets worse. The new shopping buckets are twice as heavy as the old ones, which I imagine is the consequence of R&D geniuses trying to force people to use their slick wheelie trolley design: “lets put these lead weights in strategic and unbalanced places so that not only will old ladies not want to carry the basket in their hands, it’ll break all their bones if they try to! Yayyy!!!!” Tossers.

But I refuse to play their game. I’m a twenty-five year old man, I’m not prepared to wheel around my shopping bucket like I’m acknowledging the unstoppable approach of Senor Death. Fuck that. So I shop, defiantly, basket in hand, vegetables, meats and cheeses stacking upon each other like the world’s worst game of Tetris. But it gets even worse. The extra long size of the bucket, while not actually accommodating extra goods due to its patented mouse-testicle taper, means that the edge of the bucket bashes into your knees with every step you take. As you set off on your weekly shopping adventure, it’s merely frustrating. Later, when the bucket is filled to the brim and rather heavy, it’s agonizing. I must be bruising, I think, I bruise very easily, after all… that’s what people say all the time, isn’t it? Maybe I don’t bruise easily. But I’ll bet I’m bruising now. Maybe I could show my bruise to the checkout lady and get a bit of a discount.

“That’s it!” I suddenly cry. “I’m doing it, I don’t care!” I put the basket on the floor, extend the handle and wheel forward. A thousand angels sing; it’s heaven. This, I think, is the glory of the aged. I feel the years pile on to me and a grin spread on my face as I wheel my basket to the checkout. Good times up ahead, everybody.