Archive for the ‘Listeria.’ Category


A. Going to the movies is expensive and time-consuming.

B. I take several long haul trans-Atlantic flights per year.

A:B. Unless it’s on TV, I’ll probably only see it on a plane.

Here’s a list of movies I watched during a recent return trip to San Francisco, accompanied by a definitive one-sentence summary:

Fantastic Mr. Fox, The

Obviously directed by Wes Anderson.

Gentlemen Broncos

Obviously directed by Jared Hess.

I Love You Philip Morris

Sexy man meets amoral conman, legal turmoil ensues.

Informant!, The

Fat Matt Damon steals 11.1 million dollars and no one notices cause he’s so adorable.

Lovely Bones, The

Girl gets murdered, exacts revenge from the comfort of her very own disco heaven.

Men Who Stare at Goats, The

Yes, the Army is a groovy, magical petting zoo.

Serious Man, A

A sixties-era ‘Job’ struggles to maintain righteousness amidst constant and unremitting crap from Hashem.

Sherlock Holmes

Adrenaline-fueled punch-up that has absolutely nothing to do with Sherlock Holmes.

Shutter Island

Long, somewhat predictable movie about a guy coming to terms with his crippling insanity, set to a hilariously overdramatic musical score.

*Comments are not calibrated to compensate for exhaustion, jetlag and several in-flight whiskies.


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Exboyfriends' modes of transport.

Rides of exboyfriends.


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Potential future bridges.

Potential future bridges.

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Fly Right.

Having subjected myself to approximately fifty trans-Atlantic flights in the past ten years, I am totally qualified to present the following set of guidelines.  Before purchasing your ticket, please take some time to consider each of these carefully.

– Do you have children under the age of 10 or do you have exceptionally ill-behaved children over the age of 10?  If so, please reevaluate whether it’s actually necessary to travel with them.  If it is necessary, please ensure they are sedated before boarding or–at latest–immediately after.  That’s why they let you on the plane first.

– Are you are a snorer, compulsive whistler or mouth breather?  Do you have any other annoying habits or ticks?  If so, please undergo appropriate cognitive or hypnotherapy at the earliest possible opportunity.

– Are you fat?  As in, morbidly obese?  In other words, do you have a tendency to spill out of your seat?  If so, please purchase a second.  Or third.  Whatever.

– Do you not wear deodorant?  If not, why?  Seriously…why?  What exactly do you have against it?  Do you simply assume you don’t need it?  Really?  What evil parallel universe do you live in?

– Upon boarding the plane, your immediate perogative is to get into your seat and out of the aisle as quickly as possible.  You have at most 10 seconds to stow possessions in the overhead compartment, remove coats, etc.  If you’re seated in first or business class, your allotted time decreases to 5 secs.  Why?   Because, there’s a massive line of people behind you and the excessive amount of money you’ve forked out for your seat covers exactly that: your seat.

– Unless you’re Dustin Hoffmann in The Graduate, you should not be standing still on a moving walkway.

– Traveling with a loved one?  Please keep all public displays of affection to an absolute minimum.  Holding hands and leaning on each others shoulders is allowed, except when you’re sat diagonally across an aisle.  In that case, why didn’t you just book two adjoining seats you weirdos?

– Don’t laugh out loud at in-flight entertainment.  Consider your circumstances.  There’s nothing funny about being forced into 2 square feet of ugly upholstery breathing the recycled c02 of 300 other jerks.

– It’s either chicken, beef or some kind of vegetable.  That’s it.  Those are the only choices you have.  So, why don’t you just go ahead and make that decision now, as the flight attendant doesn’t really have much additional information to offer.

– When the captain turns off the ‘fasten seat belt sign’, you have at least 5 minutes before the cabin doors open.  This is more than enough time to stand up, stretch, aggregate passports, magazines and other possessions, put your coat on and grab easy to reach stuff out of the overhead compartment.  So, if you just stand there scratching your derriere until it’s your turn to move, don’t be surprised when the guy behind pushes past whilst you fold away your complementary in-flight socks.

– Moving walkways again.  Why?!?!  Limping along on plain old stationery floor gets you to your destination faster than standing still on a moving walkway.  Why would you ever do that?  Do you enjoy spending time in airport corridors?  Am I missing out on some subtle yet life-changing transport experience?  Huh?

– After disembarking, do you enjoy a leisurely stroll towards passport control?  Do you sort of traipse along, admiring the breeze block and international banking advertisements?  If so, please get off the road or be the road.

– Are you frequently victim to gastro-intestinal problems?  Need I say more?

– Are you clinically insane or do you suffer from psychological problems that might cause you to violently freak out mid-flight, necessitating an emergency landing in someplace like, oh, I dunno, Shannon Ireland so three air wardens can remove you and your luggage from the plane, which, due to subsequent refueling problems, is delayed by 6 hours?  If so, can you please return my copy of The God Delusion?

– Are you sitting directly in front of me?  If so, please do not attempt to recline your seat at any time during the flight.  Attempts to do so will be blocked by my knees, which are stiffly braced against either side of my tray table.  Don’t turn around and stare at me–I’m totally immersed in this Air Mall catalogue.

There you are.  Simply adhere to my prescribed code of conduct and, suddenly, traveling’s a breeze!  Everyone gets along!  So, come fly the friendly skies.  Or…the at best, ambivalent, tetchy and mildly inconvenienced skies.  It’s the glamour of modern travel!

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I’m mulling over a rather weighty intellectual conundrum at the moment.

Jason and the Argonauts or Clash of the Titans?

Both are freaking ridiculously awesome, but which is better?

Like some loose change clinking around the washing machine that is my mind, this question has been driving me to distraction for several weeks now.

The former was a 1960s masterpiece featuring the vanguard stop motion work of Ray Harryhausen.  The latter, filmed 20 years later and also featuring the (now not so) vanguard stop motion work of Ray Harryhausen, was equally brilliant.

Let’s compare and contrast the finer elements of each film, starting with:

Clash of the Titans



Sure, Bubo is just a bumbling R2-D2 knockoff…but check out the bling!

The kraken.

The kraken.

Greek mythology.  More than just a day at the beach.



Calibos doesn’t give a damn about you or your heroic quest.



Ladies, Charon would like you to know that he totally owns a boat.

Medusa's lair.

Medusa's digs.



There’s no way around it — Medusa is a flaming bitch.  She’d just as soon turn you into to stone as look at you, but she’s vaguely interested in your potential as a decorative doorstop.

Now, on to:

Jason and the Argonauts

The harpies.

The harpies.

These crazy ladies mean serious business.   They will steal your cake and eat it too.

Hera mast head.

Hera masthead.

Hera talks to Jason through the masthead of his ship, the Argo.  Creepy.

The hydra.

The hydra.

Six heads.  Zero tolerance for bullshit.

The skeletons.

The skeleton warriors.

Harryhausen filmed the skeleton scene in six months — amazingly, the same amount of time young children are compelled to sleep in their parents’ beds after viewing it.



Oh my god oh my god oh my god.  I’ve pretty much saved the best for last here.  I don’t care how blasé you are about large statues of mythological beings, watch this scene and you’ll never get within 5 feet of one again.  If you happen to work for the British Museum, you’re basically screwed.

There you have it.  As far as I’m concerned, the most realistic CGI can never rival the creepiness of Harryhausen’s stop motion creations.  Their otherworldly clunkiness is almost perverse — today’s computer-generated ghouls pale by comparison.  After all this I’m still hard-pressed to pick a favourite…though Talos is pretty close to the top of my list.  But that’s okay, I’ll live with the indecision and console myself with a bit of fantasy.  A fantasy about all of us someday living together in a Harryhausenian paradise.


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Cry the adopted country.

Several months ago, I wrote a list of things I miss about the US.

Here’s a list of things I’d miss if I ever left the UK:


Electric kettles (why haven’t we embraced these in the US?!?!)



Hummus (it’s just better)

Indian food (again, it’s just better)

Double-decker buses

Christmas pudding (mostly the brandy butter)

Have I Got News for You, Mock the Week, QI and other topical comedy shows of that ilk

Grand Designs, Come Dine With Me, Time Team and other informative and/or slightly hilarious reality tv shows of that ilk

Upstairs Downstairs, Poirot and other outdated drama tv shows of that ilk

Peep Show, Nathan Barley, IT Crowd, Garth Marenghi, Mighty Boosh and other ridiculous sitcoms of that ilk

Inspector Morse, A Touch of Frost, Wycliffe and other crime-fighting shows of that ilk.

Top Gear.  Really, I would.


David Mitchell, Robert Webb and everything they’ve ever done

118 118 (I’ve never actually used it but I like the runner guys)

Steve Coogan

Yorkshire puddings


Pick n’ Mix

Radio 4

– Accents





– Not being allowed to drive.


Heathrow Terminal 5

Welsh rarebit

– The flippant annoyance directed towards royalty.  Why am I paying for you again?

Tube signs.  But not the actual Tube, which I hate.  Except for the abandoned parts.

Bakewell tarts

Sticky toffee pudding

Tesco, Sainsburys, Waitrose, Boots, Superdrug, Argos and all those other British staples.

Fortnum Mason

There now.  That’s a rather complimentary list.

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I’ve just returned from a 2-week trip the US, so now is the perfect time to eulogise all the random stuff I miss about that great nation.  The following is a non-exhaustive list in no particular order.

Rave 4x Mega hairspray

Folgers coffee (or any other robusta, dinerish drip coffee).

Everything bagels with vegetable cream cheese



Old Bay seasoning

Skippy Super Chunk Peanut Butter

Secret Platinum Clear Gel

Diet Sprite, diet 7-Up, diet Black Cherry Vanilla Coke, diet + any beverage you want

Tab Energy drink

Crystal Light (especially pink lemonade)

Revlon Illuminance Creme Shadow in ‘Va-Va Bloom’

Soft pretzels

– Decent hard pretzels

Sugar-free candy of all varieties

Adult Swim

Italian submarine sandwiches


Taylor ham

The Sev, WaWa


Dateline NBC


Root beer, birch beer

Community Coach

Philly cheese steaks

Rita’s Water Ice


Groundhogs, racoons, chipmunks, fireflies

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