Friday, March 31, 2006

V for Vendetta is very vexatious

I went along to see ‘V for Vendetta’ last night with my friend Fritz. This is in keeping with my sad sci-fi fanboy side discussed yesterday. I read Alan Moore’s comic strip when it originally ran in black and white in ‘Warrior’ magazine, way back in the mid-eighties. I was bereft when ‘Warrior’ died and the story was left hanging unresolved. When it was picked up by DC and ran to its conclusion, I was hooked. So you can imagine that I was unnaturally keen to see the film.

I wish I hadn’t bothered.

Fritz and I were left almost open-mouthed with the shock of how truly dreadful this cinematic experience was. I think the most generous thing either of us could say was that there was a good movie hidden in there somewhere, but it was wearing extremely good camouflage.

The weird thing was that it was so bad with the amount of elements that did come straight from the cartoon strip, including Valerie’s letter almost verbatim. The best bits were when the film did stick to the cartoon strip’s script.

But these bits were in too short a supply. Evey is no longer a woman driven by hunger to work as a prostitute. She's on her way to a date with a lovely cuddly later-revealed-to-be-gay man (played by Stephen Fry). The ideology of anarchy espoused by V in the graphic novel is removed, as are numerous other elements.

I suppose the idea of a terrorist in a wig and Guy Fawkes mask always ran the risk of being preposterous on celluloid. But it wasn’t the premise that had people in the cinema giggling. It was the often clunky dialogue and the plot holes. Not to mention the heavy-handed cross-cutting.

An example of this was the point where Evey is ‘reborn’ in the rain. This is cross-cut with V emerging from his cell at Larkhill amid flames – roaring like a muscle-bound Frankenstein’s monster. The edit was obviously necessary in case we missed the point.

Another irritation was product placement. The JVC plasma screens everywhere were a bit at odds with the British white supremacist regime. Mind you, I suppose Hitler allied himself with the Japanese, so why not this future fascist government?

Having loved the comic, I suppose I am open to the charge of comparing it with the film unfairly. But I think, if anything, I’d have enjoyed it less if I didn’t have the bits of Moore’s writing to hang onto. It’s just a crock of shit. Or, as V may say, a vertiginous vat of venal vapidity.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

On the stand for being sad

I am a very sad man. This fact became incontrovertible last night. If I were up before the beak in the high court of uncoolness, the prosecutor would have a field day. In fact I can picture it now…

Prosecutor (gimlet-eyed in his horsehair wig and gown): Tell me, Mr Fitzgerald – where were you on the evening of 29th March 2006?

Me: I was out with some friends in a bar named Vic Naylor’s.

Prosecutor: You are referring to the Vic Naylor’s on St. John Street, EC1 I believe?

Me: I am indeed.

Prosecutor: And what did you do in this well-known hostelry?

Me: I had a number of glasses of wine – Pinot Grigio – and a nice chat with my friend Hayley and some other ex-colleagues of mine.

Prosecutor: All these ex-colleagues were young attractive females?

Me: Yes, indeed. Although I don’t see how that has a bearing on the situation.

Prosecutor: We’ll get to that, I can assure you. Your girlfriend was away on business, was she not?

Me: She was indeed.

Prosecutor: So you intended to make the most of her absence. Is that not true, Mr Fitzgerald?

Me: Pardon?!

Prosecutor: When you leave your friends at the bar?

Me: I seem to remember I left at 9pm.

Prosecutor: You left alone and went straight home?

Me: I certainly did, your honour.

Prosecutor: And why were you so keen to leave? So eager to get home and leave these friends of yours?

Me: Er…em…

Judge: Please answer the question, Mr Fitzgerald – however embarrassed you may be.

Me: Well…

Prosecutor: I believe your hesitation speaks for itself. You left early to watch the final two episodes of the new series of [disgusted tone] BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, didn’t you? The last two episodes on a DVD boxset you had actually especially imported from the United States.

Me: Oh god, it’s all true!

Prosecutor: So you had a free pass for the night and the company of several attractive women – but what you were really excited about was the fact you could go home and watch a contemporary ‘re-imagining’ of a crap old sci-fi series.

Judge: I’ve heard enough! Guilty as charged! Take him to the cells!

It’s a fair cop, guv! And I’m not entirely convinced society’s to blame…

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Stonehenge on eBay

Having been away for a short while and then returning with a pointless diatribe, I thought I ought to write something about my life. Like moving house, the new job and Emily’s pregnancy. Handling all three is proving to be a ‘challenge’, to use the modern business euphemism for a complete fucking nightmare.

Monoliths in the back garden
The move was exhausting, but our mood was lifted by the thoughtful extras left by the previous tenants, who were approximately thirty thousand South African builders fitted into one three bedroom house (you can imagine the amount of junk mail that still comes flooding through the letterbox).

Amongst the delightful objets d-arte was a monolithic arrangement of Perspex and steel panels in the back garden. I’d like to think that, having soaked up Britain’s history, these travellers from the former colonies decided to create their own tribute to Stonehenge using materials from a shop they’d demolished.

Since neither Emily nor I can drive, we had no way of getting rid of the monoliths – so thank god for eBay. I put it up for auction and, following the principle that there’s a market for every kind of shit in this world, someone bought it for the princely sum of 99p. They came al lthe way from Poole and collected last weekend. Even they couldn’t explain why the hell they bought it. Perhaps it has some kind of supernatural properties…

Hormonal hell
Despite the fact that the baby is thriving in the womb (I’ve never known such an active baby – he’s always kicking), poor Emily’s having a torrid pregnancy. After hyperemesis, she’s now being emotionally assaulted by her hormones. I don’t want to infringe on her privacy, so I won’t say any more than this: I am definitely having a vasectomy once the boy is born and we know he’s healthy. Neither of us can go through this again.

Rockin’ at Rufus
I’m now installed at Rufus Leonard and learning a lot in my role as Head of Writing. They’re a nice bunch here – there’s a few older veterans of agencies like Wolff Olins who I feel I can learn from. It’s proving to be interesting because I’m taking a more entrepreneurial role in selling copy services to clients. It’s something I’ve never been able to tap into at work before – my only outlet used to be eBay.

This blog isn’t about divorce at all
It’s funny how this blog started being about divorce and then changed into something else (i.e. a ‘braindump’ of my trivia. Oh god, I used the word ‘braindump’ and even inverted commas implying irony won’t save my soul now). Life has been so full of other stuff – like Emily’s pregnancy and a new job – that the fallout of divorce has been entirely irrelevant. Plus, Lucy and I also appear to have declared a ceasefire in the war of words. Isn’t it strange how the things you thought were a problem can suddenly evaporate?

Monday, March 27, 2006

The Metro is evil and must be stopped

Beware all non-residents of our great nation’s capital. It’s a proper old Big Smoke-oriented rant…


(I realise this is starting like one of those Eddie Izzard routines where he goes “moths” or “sandwiches” and launches into a long, surreal, occasionally funny, diatribe on the subject, not failing to include some esoteric meanderings into the issues of bantam hens and Ringo Starr’s jelly mould. But bear with me, dear reader. I do not dress in women’s clothes (Izzard is a pretty fucking rough trannie isn’t he? It’d be OK if he looked like a Thai ladyboy as opposed to a portly scary aunt with a face like a crack-addicted tomcat) and I have a definite point to make.)

Papers. They’re bloody EVERYWHERE. Littering all public transport. Every tube carriage, every bus, flooded with discarded newspapers. They’re like the red weed in War of the Worlds, except the wrong colour and covered in newsprint. And not from Mars.

OK, they’re not like the red weed in War of the Worlds. Bugger.

But they are everywhere. It’s become the new socially permissible form of littering for the otherwise guilt-wracked middle classes. I blame the Metro. For those of you out in the Shires, the Metro is the free morning London newspaper spewed out by Associated Newspapers. Every morning Tube stations are stacked with the things and those too tight or intellectually bereft to read a proper newspaper pick them up to glean some lame rehashing of the news.

And then, because they’re free and have no value beyond that one quick read, the commuters of London abandon them. Tube trains are smothered in them. Generally they’re folded and placed over air vents behind the seats, so we can all die of heat exhaustion and the smell of farts.

This could be interpreted as a form of knowledge-sharing – like those schemes where people finish a book and then leave it somewhere public for someone else to enjoy. Except everyone who wants to read the Metro has already picked up their freebie, so our tube trains become transporters of vast amounts of substandard journalism. You’d hope they now terminate at paper recycling facilities, but know that, in fact, they’re cleared out by unfortunate minimum wage functionaries and added to our nation’s burgeoning landfill.

London Underground has a deal with Associated over the distribution of the Metro on the tube. You’d hope it includes the extra man-hours spent by London Underground workers removing copies of the Metro from ticket barriers and platform seating. Again it’s inevitable this wasn’t ever factored into the agreement. What did they think? That Londoners would take the fucking things home and recycle them? It’s not as if Londoners are the filthiest, least civic-minded, people on Earth is it?

Now, because the Metro opened up the way, all newspapers are discarded in a similar fashion. I don’t think this is as anti-social as the other London littering favourite – leaving your chewed ‘Dixie/Cottage/Alabama’ chicken bone and sinew detritus to rot decorously at the bus shelter – but is it really that far off?