Sunday, May 29, 2005

Revenge Of The Saarrfff

I have extremely depressing news to relate today. Southend United (correct pronunciation: Saarrfffend), the representatives of a town so extraordinarily unattractive that even a county with the almost infinitely relaxed moral standards of Essex (which disturbingly continues to allow both Basildon and Wickford to exist) has repeatedly attempted to reject it, have 'won' promotion to League One, enjoying an increasingly maddening, infuriating and implausible amount of luck throughout. Southend United, of course, once 'won' a two-legged LDV tie with Colchester by taking the aggregate lead in the second game with a goal which incorporated the following sequence of play:

a) A monstrously huge Southend striker/donkey given the role of shattering defender's ankles and elbowing anyone in the face who dared to challenge for any of the gigantic hoofs from the Southend goalkeeper follows his designated gameplan to the letter - namely by elbowing one of our players in the face, leaving him in agonising pain on the floor.

b) The ball, which was possibly in the vague area of the striker/donkey at the time but most probably nowhere near, is returned to a Southend defender, who of course employs the well-honed and refined tactic of hoofing it straight back upfield.

c) The other Southend striker/donkey, realising in a moment of uncomfortable self-awareness that he does not possess the ability or the intelligence to control the ball, elbows one of our remaining defenders in the face and temporarily employs basketball rules, stretching out an arm and tapping the ball to the floor with his hand.

d) Donkey/Striker B, temporarily discovering a modicum of basic human intelligence, passes the ball to Donkey/Striker A, who is nearly but not quite played onside by the original prostate defender. By this point, therefore, an offside, a handball, two fouls and a head injury have been ignored by the blissfully unaware/awe-inspiringly stupid/generously bribed referee.

e) Faced with an open goal but naturally lacking any kind of composure or finishing ability, the striker somehow endeavours to hit the Colchester United goalkeeper from four yards, the ball spinning over the unfortunate custodian and extraordinarily ending up, via the medium of a post for maximum ludicrousness and sheer, brutal unfairness, in the Colchester United net.

Somehow, in an admittedly impressive victory of determination, never-say-die-spirit, unity, uselessness, violence and cheating, Southend United have managed to maintain the application of this hoofball and hacking maxim throughout the whole season without inducing the ire of referees and, even more astonishingly, while winning the vast majority of their games. Inexplicable. Presumably the complacency and hilariously misplaced sense of superiority (based entirely on being in the old Division One once and, er, possessing a stadium which is superior to Colchester's in that it is not actually four poorly constructed cow sheds overlooking a large pile of manure with painted white markings and two goals but simply four poorly constructed sheds overlooking a large pile of manure with painted white markings and two goals) which inevitably, if mysteriously, always afflicts Southend at the slightest sign of success, will lead to their immediate and deserved relegation next season. And of course the two meetings (laughably titled 'Essex Derbies' by Southend fans desperately deluding themselves that these games will be remotely competitive) with Colchester should enable them to be firmly disciplined for their extraordinary cheek. This kind of behaviour is simply unacceptable.

Secondly today, I intend to present my thoughts on George Lucas's latest installment of everyone's favourite corporate bastard cash cow mega-franchise, Star Wars MCXVIII: The New Hope, Return, Attack And Strike Back Of The Jedi Empire And Revenge Of The Phantom Sith Menace Clones

Oh, he hasn't quite reached that number yet? I apologise.

STAR WARS III: RETURN OF THE SITH

An immediately noticeable aspect of the new film is that Hayden Christensen has improved his acting one-hundred fold for this installment. By that I mean that he can now connote evil by wearing a hood at a socially unacceptable angle in the manner of a thinking man's chav with a vague sense of individuality and scowling moodily like a small child denied his sweets. A massive improvement, I'm sure you'll all agree, from his distressing inability to distinguish himself from the resident irritating droids, C3-PO and R2D2, in the preceding film. Natalie Portman, of course, is absolutely gorgeous, so no-one cares if she can act or not.

The film follows the inexplicable descent of Anakin Skywalker from smug, annoying and impetuous Jedi to brutal child-slaughterer Sith Lord Darth Vader, attempting to wring sympathy for the hero's plight by the fact that his temptation to indulge in the dark side is provoked by the Emperor Palpatine's insistence that only by indulging in these arts can Anakin save Padme from an otherwise inevitable death from childbirth. This is an idea which appears particularly ludicrous when we see possibly the most absurdly sanitised film birth ever, Luke and Leia arriving so easily and bloodlessly that they could conceivably have been dispensed by a Jedi drinks vending machine. However, infuriating as this admission is for the sake of my usual sardonic witticisms, I actually found myself becoming emotionally involved with the plight of both Anakin and Padme and having to accept that the film had wrestled back the initiative that the previous two useless installments had lost, rediscovering the connection with the audience that the original trilogy was so successful in creating. Ian McDiarmid, who petrified me as a seven year old in episodes V and VI, is outstanding when reprising his role as the Emperor. Similarly, the fight sequences are the most impressive of any Star Wars film thus far, galling as it is to watch the tedious inevitability of the enduringly annoying and smug Ewan MacGregor beating any opponent (including those blessed with four windmill arms, each with an individual lightsabre) instead of receiving his just deserts of being brutally shredded into millions of far less smug and far more thoughtful and humble Ewan MacGregor pieces.

However, despite its clear superiority to the two preceding modern day Star Wars productions and its recommendation from me, Star Wars III has the problematic caveat, possibly as a consequence of being so emotionally involving, of also being astonishingly depressing. It is far easier to appreciate than enjoy the closing sequences of doom, death and misery. But unless you incomprehensibly watch nothing but those soul-churningly happy-clappy and spectacularly unfunny romantic comedies with about as much depth as an S Club Juniors lyric that only the most infuriatingly girly of females could possibly like, you will want to see this.

YODA: To see this you want will. Annoying pointless green glorified puppet son of annoying pointless unmarried green puppet parents am I not? Yes.

Ed's Rating: 8/10

Ed's Mood: Sarcastic

Ed's Incessant Auto-Repeat Musical Tip: Adam Kay and Suman Biswas - Paracetamoxyfrusebendroneomycin

Monday, May 02, 2005

The Anti-Kilroy Vanity Project

As I write, the Conservatives could still be successful in the forthcoming election. This objectively unbelievable, objectively monstrous, objectively despicable, objectively abominable, objectively revolting, objectively disgusting, objectively sickening, objectively nauseating and objectively vomit-inducing possibility must be immediately eradicated by all right (or rather left, har har, bloody hell, that's even worse than a rejected Jo Brand joke...) thinking people. In order to promote the movement I am presenting for your perusal Ed's Entirely Objective Party Guide to the General Election:

THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY: Disadvantaged by possibly the most yawn-inducingly mundane and pathetically uninspiring name ever, this collection of assorted extreme right-wing misfits cunningly masquerading as assorted centre right-wing misfits have a single policy - the compulsory death by firing squad, er, that is, relocation of all 'fake' asylum seekers ('fake' meaning 'unlikely to be brutally murdered by raging terrorists within the next five seconds').

THE LABOUR PARTY: Also disadvantaged by a phenomenally uninteresting name (great, you advocate working, that's fantastic), this centre-centre-centre-centre-left-wing party remains in government by the simple virtue of being ever so slightly less horrendously appalling an option than all but one of their challengers.

THE BRITISH NATIONAL PARTY: Paramilitary wing of the Conservative party.

VERITAS (The Robert Kilroy-Silk Anti-Arab League Vanity Project): Policies - the compulsory everlasting love, admiration and worship of that nice white middle-class man Robert Kilroy-Silk, his nice white middle-class family, his nice white middle-class education and his nice white middle-class bread. Policies slightly damaged by the fact that Robert Kilroy-Silk is not white but orange.

UNITED KINGDOM INDEPENDENCE PARTY: Outmoded white supremacist clowns who believe that 'Europe' is a clever and hallucinatory scam created by wishy-washy liberals. Advocate the restoration of 'proper' national borders and the ignoring of European affairs, brilliantly forgetting that most national borders are entirely arbitrary constructions created by psychotic warlords several thousand years ago to guard themselves from other psychotic warlords and that the term 'British national culture' has about as much depth and meaning as a tissue with the Beckhams' marriage vows written on it.

Vote Liberal Democrats, in other words.

As today's entry coincides with the pandemonium caused by forthcoming final year essay deadlines, I felt it necessary to compose a second guide - Ed's Entirely Objective Guide to Student Types and their Respective Attitudes to Work:

CATEGORY ONE - THE INFURIATINGLY STUDIOUS BASTARD

The infuriatingly studious bastard is the only known creature that has evolved the ability to literally absorb all energy and life from a room, harnessing it and converting it into excruciatingly dull intellectual seminar monologues that only fellow infuriatingly studious bastards understand or remotely care about. The infuriatingly studious bastard will complete the key readings, recommended readings, extra readings, bonus readings, barely relevant readings, completely unnecessary readings and readings that have as much significance to an English degree as an analysis of Blazin' Squad lyrics:

'Making a living with wit and brain cells, you only get lame girls, Flava gets nothing but them game girls'

'Flava' compensates for his lack of discernible intelligence and inability to spell 'flavour' by pointing out that at least loose women and female pheasants will sleep with him.

'I ride beats, yeah, I kick 'em. If you like then listen. If you hate then envy the chain status, my position, and watch me glisten in magazines and on television'

'Flava' puzzlingly assumes that listeners will envy his 'chain status', i.e. his multiple prison sentences, and enjoy the sound of him committing actual bodily harm and borderline sexual assault against music.

'I just wanna spit, why you stopping me for?'

'Flava' brutally and violently rebels against the establishment as much as a manufactured corporate-puppet-whore-illegitimate-son-of-barely-pubescent-unmarried-chavs is permitted by whining like a small child about the social etiquette rule against spitting.

'K.R.A.Z.Y., wow, that's me'

'Krazy' has a miraculous and endearing moment of self-enlightenment. Note to Krazy: exchanging a 'k' for a 'c' is about as 'crazy' as accusing George Bush of being slightly stupid.

And swiftly moving on from this entirely irrelevant but stress-relieving tangent:

CATEGORY TWO: THE HARDCORE BLAGGER

The hardcore blagger is a curious paradox. Having wasted two and a half years of his or her undergraduate degree in a perpetual alcoholic stupor, attending on average possibly one seminar and two lectures a term, the hardcore blagger is capable of a) learning the entire course half an hour before an exam and passing with flying colours, b) writing a 2:1 standard essay on psychoanalysis operating throughout under the belief that Sigmund Freud was a famous painter with a sideline in incest, c) capable of delivering a ten minute 2:1 standard presentation based on reading three sentences and having been completely unaware he/her was presenting until the tutor asked him/her to stand up and d) managing to write three entire final year dissertations about vastly differing topics based on the one paragraph of reading he/she briefly skimmed over in a bout of conscience on the first day of the first year.

CATEGORY THREE: THE COMPLACENT IDIOT

The complacent idiot is someone who believes that the whole world of academia has entered an intricate and brilliantly ingenious conspiracy directed entirely against him/her and the suppression of their brilliance. This extraordinarily arrogant belief results in them believing that whenever they receive a borderline pass as a consequence of their being useless it is not them to blame but 'jealous tutors', 'poor essay guidelines', 'incompetent marking', 'stupid deadlines' or 'failure to understand the sheer depth and quality of my work'. If a tutor marks them down they will invariably complain to the entire class and accuse the tutor of doing it in order to dissuade them from getting their essays academically published as the jealous tutor's own publications will be completely outdone. They will put absolutely no effort into their final dissertations and be self-righteously and ludicrously stunned when they fail and everyone laughs heartily at them.

CATEGORY FOUR: THE PSEUDO-INTELLECTUAL SEMI-BLAGGER

All other students reside in this final category, combining inate semi-sentient intelligence and a verbal dexterity that enables them to make the earth-shatteringly obvious sound like the profound insights of a demigod philosopher with the ability to apply themselves to work when conscience/deadlines dictate. They will be lauded in their tutor's reports as 'conscientious' and 'hard-working', empty terms simply indicating 'they possess a vague and temporary form of conscience' and 'they will work hard in the last month of the year to compensate for spending the rest of the time asleep'.

According to popular student folklore, there may also be in addition a fifth category of students who both a) work hard throughout the year and b) are not actually offensive to the sensibilities of normal people, but I have never personally encountered this rare species. I can only assume that this is yet another invention of the collective unconscious, just like morality, justice, freedom and Blackadder Series Five.

Ed's Mood: Stressed

Ed's Incessant Auto-Repeat Musical Tip: Ours - Fallen Souls