Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Award in your ear

It's glitzier than the Oscars, more pointless than the Brits and bitchier than the, um, TV Quick Awards. Yes, it's my Orange's Alternative Celebrity Awards 2008! See who won...

Saturday, December 27, 2008

He got Game (of Life)

Christmas: it's all about the boardgames. After a whizz through the Brewster's Millions-alike Go For Broke on Christmas eve, we tackled its money-making nemesis, The Game of Life, on Boxing Day. Despite the stickers peeling off the bridges, and one of the flags being broken, unbelievably, the spinner actually span repeatedly without flying off into orbit.

The Game of Life

After I'd reached Millionaire's Mansion and my less ambitious opponents had settled down at Retirement Home, we totted up our money. Alas, Dad had so much cash, he couldn't be bothered to carry on counting once he'd reached £950,000. Then again, he was raking in the game's top salary - journalist, whose £20,000 wage tops those of teacher, physicist, doctor, lawyer and businessman. Mostly, I love this boardgame for its realism.

The Game of Life

Friday, December 26, 2008

Caught bread-handed

Big bastard bread

Translates from the French as "truly irresistible big bastard". Said my Mum: "It's a bit big really, but I had to buy it with a name like that."

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Films of 2008

I came, I saw, I went home again. My 10 favourites of 2008 (and didn't philmz have quite a year?):

  • Man on Wire
  • There Will Be Blood
  • Cloverfield
  • Waltz With Bashir
  • 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days
  • The Orphanage
  • Juno
  • The Dark Knight
  • Gonzo
  • No Country For Old Men

Films of 2007

And 2006...

Peter Serafinowicz: yes I have spelt that correctly

He scares me and makes me laugh at the same time. It's weird.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Top 20 albums of 2008

The music boys at work got us compiling our 20 favourite albums of the year a few weeks back – the result, which I think is actually a rather good list, can be read here. Meanwhile, here's my score of LPs, subsequently tweaked, tweaked and tweaked again to account for newbies, pangs of regret, self doubt and so on.

1. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
2. Santogold – Santogold
3. Music Hole – Camille
4. Flight of the Conchords – Flight of the Conchords
5. Stainless Style – Neon Neon
6. Glasvegas – Glasvegas
7. The Seldom Seen Kid – Elbow
8. Who Killed Amanda Palmer? – Amanda Palmer
9. Oracular Spectacular – MGMT
10. Twenty-One – Mystery Jets
11. Viva La Vida – Coldplay
12. O – Tilly and the Wall
13. Alas I Cannot Swim – Laura Marling
14. Nights Out – Metronomy
15. This Gift – Sons and Daughters
16. Distortion – Magnetic Fields
17. My DNA – Manda Rin
18. For Emma, Forever Ago – Bon Iver
19. We Are the Physics Are OK At Music – We Are the Physics
20. Jim Noir – Jim Noir

Bubbling under: Foals, Oasis, Calexico, Conor Oberst, The Wave Pictures, Los Campesinos!, These New Puritans. Oh dear, I feel bad now.

No prizes for Portishead's Third, which was a bit like being tortured. Or Kings of Leon's horribly mature Only By The Night, which I didn't understand at all and actually prompted me to say, "I prefer their early stuff" out loud. Fleet Foxes are overrated, all atmosphere no tunes. No one was more disappointed than me when the CSS sophomore album turned out to be a bit crud. And the Klaxons, good as they are, have engendered an awful lot of tripe – lookin' at you, Crystal Castles, Friendly Fires, Late of the Pier. By the way, I may take this back later when I realise around mid-April that all the bands I've just dissed are all actually the best thing since the last best thing.

My top ten albums of 2007

My top ten albums of 2006

My top ten albums of 2005 (good grief...)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Last night on Channel 4: Country House Rescue

Essentially Changing Rooms for toffs, Country House Rescue sees entrepreneur Ruth Watson spraying on lipstick and mascara with a face stencil and visiting a series of impressive but flawed country homes to transform them into viable money-making ventures. Thankfully, this doesn't involve turning Britain's historic treasures into Burger Kings filled with blackjack tables... Read more...

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Playlist #7: December 2008

Hi! Here are the songs that have been preoccupying me of late. Highlights? Well, Simon Clayton's delivery of the line "without the light of dawn" in The Indelicates' 'Fun is For the Feeble-Minded' - not on their album, for some reason, possibly because it sounds like a mid-'90s Therapy? song; that isolated and amazing harmony on the Vampire Weekend track ("... to see the dawn"), a riff that nags but gets away with it - possibly album of the year, this, but it's still tussling with Santogold and Camille in my head; the Mama Cass tune, which never fails to remind me of the opening of series two of Lost; The Killers' 'You Read My Mind', with that gorgeous B flat passing note on the "you" of "you don't shine" in the chorus (dare I suggest Sam's Town is a better album than Hot Fuss? Dare I?); the wonderfulness of anything the Hidden Cameras do - ah, even if they only have one song, it's still a great song... And so on and so on: i luvs you mewsick!

SeeqPod - Playable Search

Oh, if Seeqpod's being a bitch, try listening in Internet Explorer. It's temperamental. What can I say, I didn't build the thing.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Tonight on Channel 4: The Fun Police

"It's a lovely autumn afternoon to spend a couple of hours in the garden," says retired health and safety consultant Ed Friend. "But don’t forget that an anagram of 'garden' is 'danger'." 

Is this health and safety gone mad? This lot don't think so. Although we see several H&S inspectors at work here – Frank, who patronises his quarry with a smile and Pauline, whose visits to the local nail salons to check they're using the right glue turn into epic battles of thick-skinned reasonableness – it's Ed who's the star of the show.

In scenes that bring to mind Gareth Keenan's health and safety tutorial in The Office, we see Ed telling a group of sniggering workers not to lift things that are too heavy to lift, demonstrating how he arranges his cutlery drawer at home to prevent accidentally cutting himself, or showing the camera a range of H&S leaflets, one called Fatal Traction. In this humourless world, it's hard to know whether that's a joke or not.

It becomes a bit less funny when we start to peer into the inspectors' motivations behind their work. Ed's wife (yes, he is married) hints at preventable workplace fatalities that have affected him deeply, and we also hear about serious burns suffered by his father as a foundry worker. And it's quite a jolt to see his distress at a disgustingly hyperbolic Richard Littlejohn column calling H&S inspectors "the very people who would have been loading the cattle trucks to the concentration camps".

In the hated professions stakes, these guys must surely be ranked alongside, if not above, traffic wardens, serial killers and journalists. But while The Fun Police does its bit to reinforce the stereotypes of geeky, obsessive killjoys, it's also a reminder that whatever Littlejohn would have you think, it's actually not much fun having your hands sawn off by a piece of shoddy machinery.

by Will Parkhouse, Wednesday 3 December 2008

Originally published on