Thursday, May 31, 2007

Heavy Metal Memories and Pat Mills' Requiem

One of the illicit pleasures of my childhood was buying (or indeed shoplifting) Heavy Metal comic from unwitting newsagents in Leamington Spa. Heavy Metal is the US version of the French comic anthology Metal Hurlant, full of translated European fantasy comic strips, which was cool in itself, but the best thing was that it was also littered with beautifully drawn nude women and sex. Horny 12 year old sci-fi nut nirvana! As it was a comic, the newsagents would stick it next to the Beano and I could legitimately buy it. Hurrah!

As an adult, I haven’t often shelled out for Heavy Metal as it’s generally full of nonsensical beautifully drawn rubbish – and the allure of nude cartoon women isn’t quite as powerful. However, recently I have started reading it again for one comic strip – the utterly deranged ‘Requiem Vampire Knight’.

Requiem is a Franco-Belgian comic written by the British visionary Pat Mills (the bloke who started 2000ad) and drawn by French artist Olivier Ledroit. It’s best summarised a mental vampire goth headfuck set in a bloodsoaked Hell.

Its protagonist is a Nazi soldier reincarnated as a Vampire in a nightmare world where time runs backwards. I can’t really make head nor tail of the plot, but it seems to involve Requiem searching hell for his lost love who was a Jewish woman sent to the camps. Loads of over-the-top bonkers stuff is thrown into the mix – Dracula rules a kingdom in this hellworld, Tomas de Torquemada has been reincarnated as a werewolf and there’s an extreme politically correct feminist tyrant from Venus who’s been brought back as a pirate. There’s also plenty of sado-masochistic sex and gory ultra-violence.

There’s no doubt that Mills has several screws loose and writing for an adult European comics publisher allows him to let those screws scatter all over the shop in a very disturbing fashion. The madness is brought to life by Ledroit’s feverishly detailed psychopathically exuberant art.

Mind you, if Mills is mentally ill, I must have a morbid side to seek this stuff out. It’s funny – I used to look down my nose at Goths as a teenager and now I’m turning into one…

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Charlie Brooker - Allied to C***s

I have been, along with everyone in the ex-AKQA diaspora, dabbling in the world of Facebook for a few weeks now. I usually check in once or twice a day and feel stupidly happy when someone puts a message on my ‘wall’. Coincidentally Charlie Brooker wrote about his social ineptness on Facebook in the Guardian last week. This is a good enough excuse for me to haul out my very own Charlie Brooker anecdote.

Many years ago, when the Internet was young and I was somewhat thinner, I worked at a (now defunct) new media agency named Zinc. Every week the creative dept. would look forward to the latest online TV listings spoof ‘TV Go Home’ written by Brooker. A series in the imaginary listings was ‘Cunt’, which was, ironically enough, about a feckless new media wanker just like us named Nathan Barley. Thankfully he was public school and had a trust fund, so the parallels weren’t too painfully direct.

Then one week the TV Go Home e-newsletter featured a link to the site of a man declaring himself to be the ‘Real Cunt’. He used this ego toss-space to boast about his agency work, film script efforts, gorgeous aristo girlfriend, not to mention the Notting Hill flat funded by Daddy. You get the picture. The idiot foolishly put an email link on his site. This tempted half a dozen of us to write abusive emails to the dolt.

My email was pretty reasonable – just asking him why he was proud of his similarity to a self-obsessed, ignorant, lazy, pretentious, venal Thatcher’s child arsewipe. I got an irate reply and a frank email ‘exchange of views’ ensued. Meanwhile we’d sent his URL to people elsewhere and sending him abuse went viral. He blamed me and it all got a bit silly, with him threatening lawsuits (I still remember the threat of ‘my dad’s a lawyer’).

It all culminated in an anonymous email arriving in his inbox (which eventually turned out to be from my friend John) describing all sorts of sadistic scenarios climaxing with the ‘Real Cunt’ ending up in a full-body cast and being anally raped by hospital porters. He pinned the email on me – again threatening legal action (I could have killed John when I found out he was responsible). He also took down his website, which was sensible really.

This was when Charlie Brooker stepped in and ‘flamed’ me in the TV Go Home newsletter. Here was the supposed enemy of cunts defending one! He even accused me of hypocrisy as the name Tristan sounded suspiciously public school! Oh, the betrayal. Needless to say Brooker lost a bit of cred with me after that. Not that he’d give a shit, the successful bastard.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Bowels Attack!

All too frequently in my life I find that important events are affected adversely by my bowels. In fact, I’m beginning to think that they’re conspiring against me. I don’t know what I’ve done to them to deserve this kind of treatment, but their malevolence knows no bounds. It’s like they’re out for some form of revenge.

Take today. Important client meeting. Wake up with chronic stomach cramps and make two unscheduled prostrate-pitstops before I’ve even made it out of the house. Make the hideous mistake of having a small coffee and spend the entire journey to work fearing that some kind of terrible pebble-dashing accident will occur.

Get to work, go twice more. Stagger into meeting. It lasts for two hours. I spend most of that time agonised by stomach cramps, worrying that the bomb-bay doors are about to open. The entire meeting is literally buttock-clenching.

I rush away after saying goodbye to the clients, desperate to ‘go’. Of course, because the gods like toying with me, the toilets on my floor are out of order. I dash downstairs and have to use the disabled toilet to let nature take its course. Jesus, I’ve never known relief like it.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Tribe is Over

I emerged from the Saatchi & Saatchi ‘tribe’ yesterday, exhausted but still on a bit of a high. The very word ‘tribe’ makes you think of pretentious adland wankery, but the session was genuinely the best time I’ve had at work for ages. And this isn’t simply down to the free bacon sarnies laid on every day for breakfast.

Considering the number of creative team participating from across Europe, there was a surprising lack of ego about using each other’s ideas and seeing where we could take them. I say surprising because I’ve worked at some agencies where having ideas was a competitive process and the biggest, loudest ego in the room usually won out, even if their idea was shit.

Another interesting thing was how different countries have different styles of idea. For instance, the Italian team’s ideas were always poetic and surreal, while the Spanish ideas were based on very simple, direct insights. The Brit ideas were more about humour and a classic ATL lateral way of thinking that I really want to learn.

So, over all, no cynicism or bile from me. I was happy to be part of the tribe.

Monday, May 21, 2007


Not a lot of blog, as I’m in a ‘tribe’ all day. If like me (until I had it explained to me last week), you’d never heard of such a thing, here’s a quick explanation. It’s a kind of Saatchi & Saatchi super-brainstorm in which creatives from all over the world get together to have ideas in one big session lasting three whole days. The thought of being in one of these inspires both fear and excitement. After all, if we Saatchi Interactive people have shit ideas or no ideas, I’ll be gutted. However, it’ll be a fascinating process in which to participate.

I’ll check back in to give my impressions…

No, not the BBC series Tribe with Bruce Parry...

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Hi - if you've made it across from my old URL, welcome to my new one! Here's a nice picture I took of a clown.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Underworld: Evolution Pigshit Debacle

I have low-brow tastes.

I tried to read Proust’s ‘Remembrance of Things Past’, got two chapters into it and ended up devouring a crime novel by Andrew Vachss instead. I buy the occasional classical piece and get bored with it after one listen. I get arthouse DVDs with subtitles and find myself watching ‘Goodfellas’ again. So, in short, I’ve pretended that I’m intellectual in the past, but I just can’t be arsed any more. I’m happy to wallow in the cultural midden.

However, sometimes the pigshit I roll around in is too fetid even for me. A case in point is ‘Underworld: Evolution’, which I purchased as part of one of those ‘5 for £30’ deals. I’ll admit I rather enjoyed the first film. However, the sequel is worse than I could ever imagine. What an unintelligible car-crash of goth art direction, mangled plot, bad acting and pointless ultra-violence. I don’t expect anything better from Kate Beckinsale, but Derek Jacobi should be ashamed of himself for being greedy enough to take the money and run.

On the plus side, at least ‘Underworld: Evolution’ demonstrates that there limits to the rubbish my brain can tolerate. Now, back to that zombie comic I was reading…

OK, I'm in the frockcoat. Now, where's my cheque?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Office Music Stereotypes

As a creative, I take it for granted that I’m going to work in an environment where people have speakers and are going to play music. Nobody did this at my last agency and I found the atmosphere to be duller and less relaxed as a result. It was, to be frank, like working in a fucking monastery. Even if you absolutely HATE what someone’s playing, at least shouting abuse at them provokes a bit of banter. And if almost everyone digs the music, the room gets a lift. So, in general, I see music in the office as a GOOD THING.

As with anything where a group dynamic is involved, you can observe certain common personality types emerge. Here are a few I’ve noticed…

The one playlist queen

I’m not being sexist here – it usually is a woman, simply because men are far more anal and likely to put new playlists together. She plays a single playlist repeatedly all day, generally featuring pop-bilge like Simply Red and Jamiroquai. The first time you hear the playlist, it puts your teeth on edge. By the time you’ve heard it continuously for 8 hours, your teeth are ground down to the roots and bleeding. In the end you wait until she’s away from her desk and cut the speaker wires.

The headphonist

Generally a programmer or an introvert creative. Silent and possibly psychopathic, they buy a new set of outlandishly huge ‘bins’ once a week, ‘cos they “DJ at the weekends, yeah?” They never play anything on their speakers because they want you to think that they’re listening to the latest Hoxton Twot-tronica, when in actual fact they’re getting down to the Cheeky Girls.

The 80s zombie

There’s always someone in the office whose musical evolution got stuck in 1987, like the Coelacanth of pop. OK, maybe Duran Duran sound better now than they did in the ‘good old days’ but when Stock, Aitken and Waterman’s oeuvre starts getting an airing, it’s time for a violent uprising. Rick Astley was never, ever cool, isn’t cool and will never be cool ever, no matter what kind of post-modern ironic outlook you take.

Desperate to impress Jimmy

This extrovert would-be Jimmy Saville puts together crowd-pleaser playlists for his fellow creative drones. Typically, they’ll combine post-modern retro favourites like ZZ Top with cutting edge New Rave buffoonery. Jimmy imagines everyone dancing around the office in ecstasy, but no one’s as impressed with his party tunes as they should be and he goes home alone to a warm bath and some razor blades.

Anyone got some more office music stereotypes?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

FOPP £3 Rack Hairy Nugget

The £3 rack in Fopp is a terrible thing. Albums are only there because they’re generally considered deeply crap, so there’s a good chance that you’ll either not find anything you’d like despite flipping through the CDs – or, oh horror, find something you do like. The worse of all worlds is that you find something you both liked and bought at full price. This accounts for most of David Bowie’s recent output, in my case! Today’s bargain basement nugget? ZZ Top’s Greatest Hits. Yes, every song sounds more or less the same – and there is a song called ‘Pearl Necklace’ – but those beards rocked the 80s, man. And what adolescent hetero boy, hormones raging, didn't hope that the video for 'Legs' would get played on Top of the Pops?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Quincy M.E. Necrophilia Perversion

I was thinking about the ‘80s autopsy/detective drama series ‘Quincy M.E.’ over the bank holiday weekend. I was particularly thinking about the title sequence, which has three things very wrong with it. Things that reveal the bizarre things that passed as normal in TV drama at the time as effectively as Quincy’s knife revealed the foul play behind the deaths of the stiffs in his refrigerated drawers.
  1. WRONG! There’s an edit threaded into the title sequence where you’re led to believe that Quincy is examining a corpse – but the twist is that it’s really a gorgeous blonde sharing a glass of champagne on the deck of Quincy’s yacht (I’ll get to the yacht). Oh, what larks! The morbid associations this hilarious gag conjures up would keep Freud awake at night (mind you, all that cocaine didn’t help eh, Sigmund?).
  2. WRONG! The fact that the horny old goat is shagging women young enough to be his granddaughter just reflects the male fantasies of the TV executives who produced the series. It’s often suggested that old men chasing young women are emotionally stunted misogynists. However, what really puzzles me is what’s going on in the heads of the women shagging him. How does an old man who makes a living cutting open dead people (and whose social life is limited to hanging out with a bunch of other old men in one pub) attract these babes? Is his charm? Is it the heady aroma of formaldehyde? Is it his yacht? Hang on - yacht?!
  3. WRONG! Yes, Quincy lives on a yacht. On a coroner’s salary. I should fucking coco. I’ve never heard of a bent coroner, but if this wasn’t Hollywood TV lah-lah land you’d swear the old bugger was on the take.
Anyway, take a look at the titles now and see what you think…

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Cyclist Hypocrisy Naughtiness

There’s nothing worse then hypocrisy is there? Whether it’s Lord Browne slagging off his ex-lover’s honesty while lying about how they met or John Major banging on about family values while banging Edwina Curry, it’s never pretty. Well, it’s time for me to join the legions of hypocrisy in relation to cycling.

Fucking nutters

You see, when I was a scooterist, I’d get really pissed off with cyclists blatantly ignoring the rules of the road – jumping red lights, popping out from behind buses without looking and racing along the pavement terrifying pedestrians. The thing that really, really pissed me off was when they would pedal up the middle of the road, getting in the way and slowing me down. “If I was on a bicycle, I wouldn’t ride like that, they’re fucking nutters,” I would think to myself.

Cycling short shit

Well, now I’m cycling myself on my little Dahon folding bike and, of course, I’m riding like a fucking nutter myself. The thing is – the way London roads are built, you’re really not given much choice. It’s so incredibly cyclist-hostile that it would make your average Amsterdammer shit their cycling shorts. You’re forced to put yourself in the way of danger all the time if you want to get anywhere in this city.

Arse bumper

Let’s take jumping the lights as an example. I know it’s bad. However, when I do this I consider it to be defensive rule-breaking. Motorists are revving their engines, desperate to get going and they’re looming threateningly behind you. Jumping the lights is often the best way to get a safe head-start and avoid getting a bumper up your arse.

Suicide junction

It’s the same with riding on the pavement. Sometimes the roads are so badly planned, it’s the only safe option. There’s a bit on the Euston road/Tottenham Court Road junction bikepath where you’re deposited right back into heavy traffic on a steep slope and at a right angle. It’s suicidal to do this, so one is forced to go along the pavement a bit.

That's just two examples of crap road planning, I could go on and on. So, to paraphrase so many criminals before me, I’m going to hold up my hands and say that “it’s a fair cop, guv’nor, but the cival engineers are to blame!”