It’s not an NX… It’s a Switch…

It’s late and I’ve finally seen the ‘reveal’ video…

Yes Nintendo, you will be getting my money… (If and only if all my Nintendo Store purchases are fully compatible with this system…)…

No Nintendo… It’s an awful, awful ‘reveal’ video… Awful music… Awful scenarios full of young trendy types… All of which if presented to Sir Alan Sugar would have made him as angry as he was in last week’s episode of The Apprentice…

But yes, you can have my money (terms and conditions apply)

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This is Lucille… And She… Is… Awesome!

To begin, I believe it is best that I start at the end…

“In closing, I would like to state that as the climax to a cliffhanger ending of a such a renowned and loved television programme, it was absolutely hauntingly horrific, but it was also one of the most beautifully realised moments of storytelling in recent television history and for that, I applaud all who were involved, for they truly do deserve to be proud of the wonder they created in those last, absolutely riveting and horrifyingly hypnotic twelve minutes of film.”

…and six words will instantly put the above paragraph into context for you, the reader…

The Walking Dead Season Six Finale…

If you do decide to partake in my pondering below, I do hope you find something of interest and enjoyment within…

And so, to begin again…

The final episode and finale of season six of AMC’s The Walking Dead…

To be fair, I’d like to give you ample warning here as there will be spoilers below; serious spoilers of such a nature that you should not dismiss how incredibly serious they are, so, consider yourself warned…

Seriously…

Yes, I know, I’m very, very late to the party. In fact, yes, I’m well aware that the party I am now attending ended a good few months ago and that I am now simply standing amidst the scraps of what was once a worldwide cacophony of noise, excitement and probably even some small sample of human excretion; tears, urine, blood and maybe even something that is usually a little more controlled. But, with less than a week to go before the premiere episode of season 7 goes to air, it’s as good a time as any to explain why I feel such an incredible compulsion to write about this particular episode of television and to hopefully convince those who are not already watching it, why they should be.

So, let’s start off with a gentle statement…

This episode of television was an absolute work of genius…

There you go, I’ve said it; I’ve bared my soul, pulled it out of the flesh bag-that is my forty-something walking corpse of a body, slapped it on the table with every single possession that I ever have and will ever own, along with all my final hand of cards in an ultimate and unconditional display of unmitigated honesty.

I am one of those people who allows themselves to become fully immersed in the viewing experience, loving the anticipation for the next event that will trigger one of the many emotions or responses possible in the human psyche… and yes, much to the amusement of my friends and family, I do cry during films…even recent examples such as Bridget Jones’s Baby… Okay, maybe not cry as in full blown sobbing with salty waterworks, but I do well-up and sometimes the occasional tear may escape. I am also someone who is definitely not faint of heart, having watched and enjoyed many a horror and psychological thriller, but the very end of this episode really did leave me feeling absolutely and utterly cold and hollow, which I believe is exactly what the creators were aiming for. To be truly honest, it affected me to an extent I thought was no longer possible of the horror genre, having been left disappointed by so many examples on so many occasions, wanting so much more and being left to feel completely and utterly underwhelmed; thankfully this was very, very different.

From the opening sequence of blurred lights accompanied by the strangely haunting, two tone, off key whistle that has become synonymous with impending doom in this season, you knew that this episode would be something special and something intense. If we learned anything from the previous fifteen episodes, it was that we the viewers, very much like the characters we have followed for so many years were about to experience in an extremely unpleasant fashion, were being corralled to an ultimate and inescapable end as a result of the myriad of decisions made by those characters; and this climax is the result of an expertly crafted script and storyline that from the very outset of this season, has continuously delivered an ever increasing, overbearing sense of dread, fear and hopelessness for those characters we have come to know and possibly even love. We the viewer knew it would come to this, that it would all come undone, that consequence would come around to claim its prize, but were we prepared for the brutality of its claim? I, for one, definitely was not.

This episode built up to the aforementioned climax with a measure of style and ingenuity that many Hollywood blockbusters would be sensible to learn from. From the subtle tones of Mr Bear Creamery’s score, sounding very much like a heartbeat, pounding gently in the background as we were returned to the familiar world with the strangely beautiful scene of Malcolm finding a lone horse in the wilderness to the way we were slowly fed the realisation of the scale of the odds against which the group were finding themselves, the score, the timing of events and the dialogue delivered was absolutely exemplary in delivering an episode of television that did not, for one moment, falter in any way.

If anyone needs an example of how to deliver ever increasing tension, then they need look no further than the blockade events that take place within this episode. In desperately trying to find help for Maggie and her unborn baby, the group, headed by Rick in the RV, are confronted with the first blockade at thirteen minutes into the runtime, the second at twenty four minutes, then at twenty eight and again at thirty two. It is a terrific pacing of events that leaves little respite for the viewer to catch their breath and only increases the feelings of hopelessness and desperation being felt by a group of people slowly realising they are being cornered like a hunted animal. Then the pacing changed slightly as the next blockade appeared eight minutes later at forty minutes, with the final moment of capture occurring eight minutes later after that, but with the tension and anxiety and excitement that had been created with those previous ‘bang! bang! bang!’ every four minute events, I doubt anyone even noticed, so beautifully driven was the work on screen.

Yet, it is in these aforementioned blockade scenes that something else of note must be championed; the use of foreshadowing.

In the previous episode, there were a few choice moments of dialogue that pointed very clearly to the old phrase ‘pride comes before a fall’ and the overbearing, forbidding sense of doom that will eventually consume the group due to the new found overconfidence displayed in the group leader Rick; probably most notably in the simple line of dialogue from Morgan, who calmly states, “It’s all a circle, everything gets a return.”

In the final episode, there are again moments of dialogue that clearly point to the doom that is to befall the group, but, it is only during the final climatic scene of this final episode that the importance of the dialogue in the first exchange between Rick and the so far as yet unnamed character with the moustache at the first blockade, is finally realised in a wonderful piece of foreshadowing. Every line spoken by the unnamed foe is absolutely relevant to what will happen for the duration of the episode and tells very clearly of the inevitability that is to come for the group and especially for one poor character in particular. In fact, the option to end the chase, albeit, in a roundabout twisted form that both parties know will be rejected, is quite casually granted there and then by the moustached foe when Rick offers to make a deal.

“That’s right, we can! Give us all your stuff. We’ll probably have to kill one of you, that’s just the way it is, but then we can start moving forward on business.”

This one section of dialogue tells exactly of what is to come at the very end of this episode and of the fate that hangs over the group in the RV. Even more telling is what could be considered the ‘throw-away’ farewell gesture employed by the moustached foe during this dialogue. When Rick states that he and his people are leaving, the moustached foe casually waves farewell and in stating, “OK friend! Plenty of ways to get where you’re going…” gives both us the audience and Rick and his companions pause for thought as this is not a simple throwaway comment of brazen bravado; this is a line full of menace and knowing which obviously puts Rick on the back-foot, causing him to go on the attack in asking if his moustached enemy wants today to be his last day on earth. This attack is swiftly and beautifully countered by the moustached foe whilst also, in a far more sinister fashion, re-enforcing the warning of the fate that is to befall the group in referencing Rick’s own question and in suggesting he should be ‘extra nice’ to his companions and those he loves as it could indeed be the last day on earth for one of them; a counter that can be literally seen to take the first chink out of Rick’s armour of over confidence, a duel of dialogue and a battle of wits that Rick has unknowingly, already lost.

It is at the end, as the group is kettled into the encampment and find themselves completely encircled by an army of Negan’s men, all blowing a shrill, high pitched, almost unearthly whistle akin to what one could imagine would be the scream of a banshee in it’s last throes of death, that the enormity and scale of the situation they are in, the realisation of their predicament, finally dawns upon Rick and the group and all credit to Mr Andrew Lincoln, his portrayal of a man, a leader, who knows he has lost, who knows he has failed, who knows he has ultimately sacrificed the lives of those he has strived so hard to keep safe and protect, who know with all that makes him human that his predicament is absolutely and utterly devoid of hope, was startling; in one moment, we saw a sure and confident leader become a crumpled, broken husk of his former self and Mr Lincoln played it beautifully. Credit must be given to all the actors of the group knelt before Negan, as the pure fear and bewilderment of their situation twinned with their internal struggle of hoping against all possibility that the fate that is about to be brought upon one of them will somehow, miraculously not occur and if it does, that it will not be them, was almost tangible, but, I do feel that Mr Lincoln really did outdo himself in his portrayal of a devastated, broken soul that has fought against the new world and has been consumed by it.

Negan on the other hand, is broken in a very different way. Here is a character that has not only accepted the new world within which he exists, he has completely embraced it and thrives upon it. The build up to the moment of Negan’s entrance was absolutely immense and the reward of seeing Mr Jeffrey Dean Morgan step out of the trailer was worth every moment of anticipation. I won’t be coy with my words here, so shall state that I personally found Mr Morgan’s portrayal to be a master-class in acting, especially where playing a highly intelligent psychopath is concerned. For me, Mr Jeffrey Dean Morgan, a ruggedly handsome fellow by all accounts, was everything that a character that is as close to the embodiment of pure evil or of Satan himself, could be, in that he played the role with charming, silver tongued, cool, calm, measured, intimidating precision, allied with the tantalising hint of pure rage and hate occasionally making its presence known through a glint in the eyes or a hard edged smile. Every word that was delivered, every step that was taken, every casual swing or point of the bat was loaded with real intimidation and menace, all incredibly heightened by the eerie, ambient soundtrack delivered by Mr Bear McCreary. The whole theatrical delivery of this last scene, with Negan’s entrance from the trailer on queue from another character to the expressly annoyed impatience shown when suddenly interrupted, as may be seen displayed by a stage actor when disturbed by a member of their audience, all shows someone who has a great degree of patience in wanting and creating anticipation twinned with the aforementioned rage that is desperately clawing at the surface to be released, is absolutely revelling in their position in the world and will do everything to relish every single second in re-enforcing that position to all who surround him. The theatrics never came across as ‘hammy’, they were instrumental in giving the very deliberately delivered monologue the power, assertion and confidence that exudes from Negan and kept us absolutely enraptured by the performance.

Going back to the point about the soundtrack, I personally feel that Mr McCreary has absolutely excelled himself with his work in this season, in bringing so much scale to so many moments of human emotion, action and simple scene setting. Slow, lingering chords played from a guitar, echoing the emptiness, loneliness and despair of the world into which we are drawn; ending with that strange, ambient soundtrack in this final episode that perfectly echoed the menace and hopelessness of the final scene.

It is with the final sequence of the final scene that I shall begin to draw this post to a close.

I know that I don’t have to describe again the glut of unwelcome emotions and feelings the final scene intended to evoke from us the viewer, but I believe that the final sequence in which the camera angle was suddenly switched to a first person perspective was absolutely inspired and a work of brilliance. During Negan’s “Eeny Meeny Miny Mo” chant, the camera switches briefly twice to a first person view of the bat “Lucille” being tipped towards the camera which is actually a very jarring and unusual change of view point from the camera work already used in the scene and I believe that’s exactly why it resonates so well with the viewer, effectively putting us in the place of those we care for and are so worried for in a way we did not expect. It is only on the final camera shift that we see Negan in the frame, tipping the bat towards the camera and it is at that point that we are completely locked in, expecting the camera angle to change; but it does not change and that, for us the viewer, is rather alarming and what comes next, with the initial impact of Negan’s first strike with the bat is utterly visceral, disarming and harrowing and yet so incredibly executed that you almost literally feel the impact yourself. I really cannot credit the production team enough for their astonishing work, but I must make special mention of this sequence as the camera work and moreover, the sound design, brought us the viewer to a state of shock that one could only imagine would compare with witnessing a murder contained within a snuff film; it was absolutely shocking and an absolutely astounding piece of film work; the blurred, drunken camera sway and the high pitched shell-shock ringing sound all masterfully placed us into the head of that poor soul. The incredible sound work and sound design continues with the next strike of the bat as the screen goes black to leave us with the central sound of the bat breaking its way through the skull and impacting upon the soft flesh beneath, amidst the dull, muffled, phased sound of the heart beat that very suddenly comes to a stop; in effect, we the viewer, had witnessed our own murder by the hands of Negan and the sickening thought that you were conscious to a degree, to still hear the sounds of your own destruction, was absolute horrific. We are then left with a silent black screen, whereupon the credits play, still in silence, brilliantly prolonging the shock and awe of what you had just witnessed.

This episode for me, was real horror; the kind of horror you never, ever wish to experience; the kind of horror that is so unrelentingly, inescapably evil, that even as it chases you through your every possible worst nightmare and every fibre of your being is screaming at you to just keep running and that you absolutely mustn’t try to turn to witness what is in pursuit and causing such terror to course through your veins, you cannot help but give in to the demands of morbid curiosity and turn to look and allow it to enter your very soul and destroy what is left of your mind. We, the viewers, gave in to those demands and we, the viewers, loved every horrific moment.

I apologise if all of this has come across as somewhat gushing, but, I was simply compelled to share these thoughts and feelings with others, as the importance of this piece of television history needs to known and known by those with only a passing or possibly even no interest in The Walking Dead. If you have access to Fox, in the UK, there is a special that is being run at 9pm today and 9pm on Sunday 23rd of October, with the premiere episode of season 7 showing next Monday October 24th at 9pm. I’m not interested in the rumours or theories as to who may have been Negan’s victim, I have deliberately shied away from all details concerning that forthcoming episode and look forward to simply allowing myself to indulge in and watch what is to come with the other millions of fans across the globe.

In closing, I would like to state that as the climax to a cliffhanger ending of a such a renowned and loved television programme, it was absolutely hauntingly horrific, but it was also one of the most beautifully realised moments of storytelling in recent television history and for that, I applaud all who were involved, for they truly do deserve to be proud of the wonder they created in those last, absolutely riveting and horrifyingly hypnotic twelve minutes of film.

Outrunning Reality

I know… It’s been a while… Which means I’ve annoyingly broken my promise to myself to keep this blog regularly updated… Grrr… Damn it! (I’m sure I’ll find a way to punish myself in an appropriate manner later, probably by using some for of technology to the point of frustration, (trying to beat my lap times from the 90s on Ridge Racer on the PS1), as opposed to the old ways of simply lashing yourself with whips and chains… Oh… that’s still done is it? Oh, it’s progressed to er… oh, I see…) Anyway, I’m really sorry, but you’re going to have to indulge me. This post is going to be a real generational thing; some of whom will understand and appreciate the sentiment, a sentiment that others will dismiss in confusion and even possibly despair due to my ravings of nostalgia, but I am someone who although lives very much in the now and embraces most things of the new and of the near future, still very much lives in the past and relishes the beautiful simplicity of times now abandoned to history, who thrives on those sudden surprising pangs of nostalgia brought on by any of the five, (possibly six?), senses that allow us to experience this realm of reality in a profound plethora of possible ways… So, allow me to explain…

We all know that the human brain is a wonderful and incredible example of nature’s organic technology, apparently capable of limitless processes and functions that still mystify those trying desperately to unravel its secrets today. But one of those functions is one that seemingly, only rarely, makes an appearance that takes you by surprise at the most random moment, thankfully in a nice way, such as putting on a coat or pair of jeans and finding notes of money in the pockets, not the nasty way such as putting on a coat or pair of jeans to find something in the pockets that feels like an old lint covered Snickers (Marathon!) bar that turns out on closer inspection to be decomposing corpse of a small furry mammal that had decided to partake in the ultimate hibernation within the comfy confines of your aforementioned clothes…

I’m talking about the act of nostalgic recollection…

Did I just hear someone ask “what the hell is that?” No, that’s just me putting down in writing what the random, pretend, blog reader in my mind just called out, obviously… You can’t hear written words… Silly…

So, yes, nostalgic recollection. I have no idea if this is a genuine, well known term or just something I’ve cobbled together within my mind, or to put it simply, just made up. Whatever the case, the simple fact is that this is an amazing function of our minds that we will all experience a number of times throughout our existence.

Hitting you with even more of an impact than Déjà vu, which, let’s be honest, can prove to be an insanely surreal experience,  nostalgic recollection is a moment in time when your mind, your senses and your emotional psyche are completely taken over and transported to a point in the time-line of your own personal history that until that instant, had been completely forgotten, lost within the myriad of thoughts, feelings, dreams and memories locked forever within that squidgy, yet quite firm, organ of grey matter that sits within your skull. It can be triggered by any one of the senses and within that capsule of time to which you are instantly transported, other senses can be triggered to completely envelope you in an experience that can sometimes far exceed the perceptions of any waking or sleeping dream state. Allow me to explain further and also finally(!) get to the point of why I am writing this, what will be considered by many to simply be, verbose nonsense.

I enjoy driving. I still enjoy driving my daily commute on the many roads and motorways of this small island, which leaves many confused, as I was always told by those many drivers before me that I would get bored within a few months and that it would just become another daily chore to add to all the other daily chores of my little existence. Yet, thankfully for me, that has not yet happened. I still enjoy getting in that car and still enjoy the whole experience of driving, even if I am driving the equivalent of something that could probably drop out of a Harrods Christmas Cracker for a prize. But, even I must admit that driving on a motorway is not the most exciting of vehicular based ways to spend your time. So, this week, it was an alarmingly, pleasant surprise to have my entire mindset and mood completely uplifted by one moment of nostalgic recollection triggered by one particular element that is always present within my car during my commute home… music.

There is always music playing in my car; my chunky, Chinese MP3 player randomly throwing tracks at me from a library of over twenty thousand songs and other pieces of audio indulgence. So, whilst driving home one night last week, it was with a really strong, strange mix of happiness and sadness that for a while, I was transported to a forgotten moment of my past by three pieces of digital music, or rather, Chip Tunes, from a rather famous arcade game from the 1980s, the experience of which completely transformed my drive home. Those pieces of music will be instantly recognisable from their titles to people of a particular gaming generation without even mentioning the name of the game for which they provided the soundtrack. Those three tracks were, (in a possible particular order), Splash Wave, Magical Sound Shower and Passing Breeze…

Yes, the three original pieces of music that would accompany you on your journey through the beautiful, sprite scaled rendered world of Sega’s ground breaking racer OutRun. Within a split second, I was completely removed from my car and thrown into an arcade on the Isle of Man that had become a regular, daily haunt for myself and my friend Richard, with whom along with his parents, I was sharing a short break on the famous Isle of TT Racing. My nose, or rather, my sense of smell was immediately confronted with that long forgotten common mix of scents drifting throughout arcades of the 80’s and 90’s… Stale body odour; cigarette smoke; cigarette ends gently burning their way through cheap carpet tiles; soft drink spillages surrounding the immediate vicinity of the many cabinets that once trodden in, would cause you to walk around the arcade with the familiar “Shtik! Shtik! Shtik!” sound of a now seemingly permanently sticky sole; the sickly sweet aroma of artificially flavoured Hubba Bubba suddenly wafting towards your olfactory nerves due to your displacement of said gum by unfortunately standing in a large, recently displaced piece that has not yet had time to become a permanent fixture of the fibrous floor but has had the chance to possibly find a final resting place on the cold concrete outside by affixing itself to the bottom of your Nike, though more likely Dunlop, branded trainers… All of which combined to create an acrid stench so thick in the air you could sometimes taste it on your tongue, a nasal tang that was very quickly accustomed to, but which also created a sense of familiarity and comfort whenever you stepped within its invisible lingering body. It was amazing… I was partaking in a combination of smells that I had not experienced in nearly 20 years, having not cause to set foot in an arcade since somewhere around the late 90’s.

Alongside this incredible assailing of my sense of smell, I couldn’t help but shudder as my body was suddenly filled with the nervous excitement and fear that coursed through my veins as I stood and watched others steering their way through the speeding sprite filled world that glared from the huge, high colour, high contrast CRT monitor fixed within the violently writhing, red plastic and black metal clad alien machine that was being fed coin after coin after coin by people hoping to beat its challenge. Yes, indeed, I was living an impossibly vivid memory of myself standing amidst the crowd of onlookers, watching this incredible construction within which people sat to be violently thrown left and right whilst blasted with any one of the aforementioned trio of tracks of music, (which, incredibly for the time, you had the option to choose from to serenade you during your virtual race across a visually splendorous world), from the rather large and rather loud stereo speakers that seemed to be at just the right angle to directly distort your fragile ear drums, all the while trying to dismiss my fear, apprehension and self consciousness to take a deep breath, take hold of my nerve and step forward to take on the challenge in full view and as the full focal point of the large group of baying strangers that stood, surrounding the full size, sit down, Deluxe OutRun cabinet.

This all made for an amazing few minutes in time in which I was living at a high point in my past; a high point where arcade games were still an absolute wonder, displaying images, airing sounds and delivering gaming sensations that were simply impossible to recreate on home computer and console systems of the time due to their limitations in comparison to the custom boards and custom chips that drove these monsters for hour and hours, day to day, that happily and without question took so much money from so many people willing to happily pay, without question, to partake of a sensory overload impossible to experience anywhere outside of these noisy, smelly, sweltering, temporary homes of electrically and financially fuelled cabinets of creative, gaming joy.

I remembered and relived exactly how I felt taking the plunge to swallow my fear and pride and step in line to be the next to enjoy what this new and intimidating hulk of a game had to offer. I remembered and relived the fear of climbing into the seat of this beast of a machine, hoping I wouldn’t embarrass myself on the way in or out or worse still, embarrass myself to an even greater degree by proving to be awful at the game and putting in a pitiful performance. I remembered and relived the incredible rush as the audio kicked in as I dropped my coins into its ever hungry slots and chose my accompanying piece of music. I then remembered and relived the unbelievable feeling as all my focus was instantly drawn into this beautifully detailed world and the real world that surrounded me was pushed into nothingness at the fringes of my tautly focused sense of this new, exciting, loud, brash and colourful reality. Finally, I remembered climbing out of the machine as my game had ended, just short of stage three, my fears of humiliation and ridicule being swept aside, my faith in humanity in some small way reaffirmed, as nobody berated me or insulted me on my performance as I had expected and had built up in my mind during that time of convincing myself to just take the chance to play the game and it was then that the happiness and sadness hit me…

My feelings of happiness were due to simply having this long buried memory resurrected and brought to the forefront of my mind for a time and due to remembering that time when games in the arcade could still deliver experiences that you had never encountered before, when the wonders of creativity were borne from the technological restrictions that existed at the time, unlike now where the majority of games are just another experience previously delivered but in a more polished and graphically superior form. But, the same thoughts and feelings also made me feel sad, as I know it will be highly unlikely that I will ever feel these emotions again due to playing a game, that leap in technology at the time being an astounding jump whereas the change now is merely a very slight evolutionary step.

Mostly though, the mixed emotions came from reliving a part of my past I had forgotten, remembering friends long since lost, of realising how old I actually am and of how damn scary that realisation is, of having to again say goodbye to a time that was simpler, less frantic, less rushed, less personally technologically involved, when we had time for each other and our friends and when to enjoy a multiplayer game, you went to an arcade or sat around a home computer, fingers crammed around the keyboard, or sat around a games console, simple controllers in hand, revelling in the challenge and the banter that comes only with the indulgence of multiplayer gaming when physically in the same room as the other player or players… these were good, good times.

Nostalgic recollection; a truly wondrous experience, but one that can absolutely tear you to pieces in so many ways… Yet, I would go through it over and over again than never have the wonder of physically, emotionally and mentally experiencing moments of the past and experiencing such an overwhelming multitude of emotions in such an acute moment in time, no matter how old the brief event may make me feel… though, saying that, I probably won’t be saying that in another twenty years, when instead I’ll just be a grumpy old git, wishing I was actually back in my past.

So, why did I decide to share this with the odd, random person that may stop by this odd, random little blog? To be honest, I have no real idea, though I think I just wanted to explore and revel in those memories some more and make a permanent fixture of them here so that one day in the future, I can possibly re-read this and enjoy those moments again of, “Oh, yes, I remember when…”

I think I also wanted to hopefully introduce a new and possibly unknowing section of people to the wonders of the chip tune, a form of music that has had a bit of a resurgence in a more hi-def fashion thanks to the ongoing rise of the indie retro gaming scene; a form of music that originally was usually left for the musician to fill the last 2 or 3 KB of available memory of all games of the 8Bit gaming scene, if they were lucky! To try and give you some perspective, games that I enjoyed playing during the 80’s would have full visuals, sound effects and music loaded via a tape that could take anywhere from ten to thirty minutes to load into the computer before you could actually even play the thing, if it actually loaded without errors of course, all of which had to accompany less available memory than a blank word document does today.

Also, I think I genuinely wanted to put something “nice” down in writing, amidst the increasingly unpleasantness of our world, something that I hope people will enjoy reading and may even trigger their own nostalgic recollection for them to dive into and enjoy for a time in this brief existence of ours.

If you’re curious and have never experienced the soundtrack of outrun, have a look at the YouTube link below and experience a moment of epic gaming history from almost 30 years ago.

 

 

Disturbance in the Disneyland…

The latest advertising campaign for Disneyland Paris, (which is directed at adults for a change), whilst being absolutely skin crawling, cringingly cheesey, (and just so, so, so, so damn fake!), brought an interesting, yet disturbing question to mind within the first 20 seconds…

The advert starts badly enough with what we are supposed to be believe is just another random Disney punter, (not an actor, no, these are real people doing real things, not actors, no, not at all, but for the purposes of this rant, let’s assume that the majority of the TV viewing public will be taken in by the terrible ruse), talking into his camera and telling us, the viewer, that he is taking his girlfriend away on a surprise “romantic” weekend. Now, I wouldn’t have added the quotation marks around the word romantic, but he did, using that symbolic finger gesture of quotation marks that normally makes me want to slap someone in the face when they do this anywhere within my vicinity. Why…? Why do people feel the need to do this? Irony is very easily hinted at by the intonation of your voice, your body language and facial expressions; I don’t need you thinking you are being clever or dramatic, when in fact you’re being about as clever as you would be if you simply wrote the word ‘irony’ on a large piece of paper in black marker pen and shoved it at the camera. But then, if he is suggesting that this isn’t going to be a romantic weekend, what the hell is he hinting at?! Maybe that question is answered by the disturbing element of this advert…

So, the girlfriend, Jen, (who many will recognise from various things on UK TV), comes home and is asked if she can pack a bag in 20 minutes… Now, don’t get me wrong, but, in reality, that’s not going to happen, especially with no hint or suggestion as to where you will be headed and what kind of climate you will be living in for the next two days… But, still, she delivers a supposedly hesitant “yes” whilst looking at a member of the camera crew which instantly destroys any possible illusion that it is simply the two of them and their camera… Brilliant…

Anyway, I digress… So, the next scene we are treated to is of the boyfriend lifting his hand from Jen’s eyes to reveal the location of their “romantic” weekend. After a dramatic pause and mouth open moment, she asks if they are in Disneyland and walks away exclaiming “Oh, my God!”… I’m guessing we are supposed to believe this is a good thing, but this is where I can’t help but wonder to a sinister element to this which is quite simply this…

How the hell did he get his girlfriend to Disneyland without her being exposed to any form of hint or clue that Disneyland was their ultimate destination? Surely that’s not possible… But then again, maybe it is…

You see, the full advert, (available on YouTube, which runs to 2 and a half minutes!), shows a scene where the boyfriend looks into the camera and says, “I just wanna show you my beautiful girlfriend” which comes across as just a bit creepy anyway, but becomes far more sinister when in the next shot, his girlfriend is slumped in the seat of speeding train, seemingly, I guess we’re supposed to believe, asleep. But, how do we know she’s asleep? Maybe to keep this secret “secret”, he’s drugged her for the rest of the journey or “mistakenly” knocked her out whilst moving his luggage to the space above the seats, or maybe he just simply knocked her out because that’s the kind of loving guy he is… Like Chris Brown…

So, now that we know he’s possibly drugged/beat his girlfriend to keep her unaware on the train, but can somebody please explain to me how he managed to get her from the train station to Disneyland itself without anyone around or even himself mentioning the bloody D word! OK, maybe he’s gone all out and ordered a chauffeur driven car with specific instructions to not speak the “D” word, but to get into the park and not hear one person, one child even, muttering anything Disney related is abso-fucking-lutely ridiculous, so, we can either assume that she is either faking the reaction for her boyfriend, (which judging by the act she puts on is pretty piss poor, even if you forget the fact they’re actors), or once off the train, he’d bundled her into the back of a van, shoved ear plugs shoved into her ears that are constantly emitting white noise at a ridiculous volume to stop her hearing anything and placed a black hood over her head to remove another sensory perception and somehow still managed to get her from the car park and into the grounds of the Disneyland in the same state without one child looking over and saying, “Mummy! Mummy! Look at the man carrying the girl with a bag on her head!” and thus the police being called… Yes, it’s absolute bloody nonsense. Yet strangely, in the shot where she walks away just after being finally allowed to see where she has been brought to possibly die after her ordeal, there is no one else around, no one else waiting to check in, no one else at the gates, the place looks empty. So, have they turned up whilst the place is closed or have the police been called and they’ve evacuated the place while they figure out how to deal with the boyfriend and get the girlfriend to safety?

From here, it just gets worse. We then are shown a scene of Jen and her boyfriend on a ride, with Jen performing some of the most awful acting I have ever witnessed in her attempt to look scared, which, if it came across as any more fake than it already does, would have instantly landed her a job at the VW emission testing head quarters.

And then there is an awful scene, a truly awful scene where Jen, in an apparent moment of impromptu hilarity, completely bastardises one of the most famous lines from cinema history, announcing to the camera in her best and possibly worst ever Darth Vader impression, “I am you girlfriend!” which for any Star Wars fan, would be such an insult that they would instantly drop their toy light sabre and walk away from their girlfriend, never to be seen again.

And then it becomes even more perverse because, you see, this “romantic” weekend never, ever comes close to what would normally be described as romantic and ends with the boyfriend hurriedly rushing Jen to the balcony of their hotel suite to watch the light and fireworks display set against the Disney castle to…guess what… not propose! Yes, after all the hints of a romantic weekend away and finding the perfect setting and moment to propose to his girlfriend and make her supremely happy, he doesn’t do it, which strikes me as seriously perverse and makes me even more concerned for the full advert on YouTube, you’ll see that it seems that Jen is doing everything she can to make her boyfriend happy, constantly trying to show and give attention and affection whilst he barely responds or looks the other way. There are also other occasions on covering her eyes and also covering her mouth, which again makes me wonder how much of a regular occurrence this is in their relationship! And then it ends with another view of Jen and her boyfriend watching a firework and light display, again for him not to propose, something you can tell she is expecting…

So, what we learn in both the 30 second and 2 minute advert is that Jen’s boyfriend is an evil, twisted, sick, perverse bastard.

And Disneyland Paris adverts are terrible.

Well done Disney, well done for bring more darkness into the world in the only way that you know how, dressed up as light and fluffy, full of sadness and futility…

On a side note, my girlfriend asked after seeing the advert herself, “Why don’t you do things like that for me?”, which makes me really concerned… Does she want me to surprise her and take her to Disneyland and propose and take her somewhere as a surprise and be a complete unfeeling bastard to her for a weekend, leaving her to return to her normal life consumed with depression and despair? Hmmm… I must ponder this some more…

Mac in a Man in a Mac…

MaccyD

On the 6th of May 2015, Buzzfeed asked the below question about the above picture:

Is The New McDonald’s Hamburglar McDreamy?

My response was quite simply:

No… More like McFlasher, McStalker, McPlaygroundWeirdo, McOperationYewtreeCandidate, or Raymond Reddington’s far more camp, long-lost villainous brother…

Here Be Dragons… Again…

On April 19th 2014, I had to write:

I’m genuinely surprised…

During the first advert break of Britain’s Got Talent, a trailer was shown for a sequel to one of the most moving and affecting animated films to come out of any animation studio since Hayao Miyazaki decidede to step down at Studio Ghibli…

The trailer was for the film How To Train Your Dragon 2…

If you haven’t seen the original, you need to…

The original was a beautifully realised world, created with characters that you couldn’t help but genuinely care and worry for, carrying a real warmth and depth of emotion, completely dismissing all the usual Hollywood nonsense and cliches. It was also a showcase for some of the most incredible animated flying sequences ever put to film, even matching the hand drawn wonder of the sequences of Nausicaa and Laptua…

But for me, it is the ONLY film to capture the intense emotion, sheer awe and asbolute joy and wonder of how I felt as a child, reading about dragons and what it would be to come face to face with one…

The sequel is not released in the U.K. until the 4th of July, so for a film to be advertised so early is unusual and hopefully means that since the success of the original, (it did well at the cinema, but came into it’s own once released on DVD and BluRay (the BluRay being one of the most incredible discs I ever had the pleasure of viewing)), they are confident that it will do just as well, if not better…

I’ll be seeing it on it’s opening day…

Modern Life…

On March 13th 2014 I felt the need to write:

So, you come back to your car, find that there is damage to it, see a car parked across the road from yours with paint marks matching the colour of your car, you take the details and when you try to take a photo of the possible offending vehicle, the owner runs to their car and drives off sharpish… You then speak with the company boss where the owner appeared from who says they will speak with the possible offender in the morning. When they do, that person denies all knowledge of being in the area with their car, claiming they arrived there by foot… which is odd, seeing as someone was able to get the reg & make and model of a car that was never there and was able to locate CCTV proving that that particular car was in that road at that time… And so, what can be done…? Nothing, absolutely bugger all… Police can investigate but can’t do anything as there was no witness to the impact and to take the matter further would mean contacting insurers, which will affect premius blah blah blah due to the fact of having a brand new car for only 2 months before it’s first incident… So, who has to pay out? Take a wild guess…

It’s because of incidents like this, that people like me, despise that particular type of person that drives that particular type of car that drives in that particular way… you know the ones:

Those who are so lazy they can’t even be bothered to touch the little plastic stalks that stick out from either side of the steering wheel or the buttons or dials around the dashboard that facilitate the use of lights and indicators because yes, they are important and have a bigger and far more expensive car than you, so fuck you…

Those who stop in the middle of a one way street that’s completely lined either side with parked cars and wave at you with an insipid forced smile as if to say ‘my circumstances are far more important than yours so you’ll just have to wait person of lesser importance, I don’t care’, as they then unlock the doors to their armoured personnel carrier and let the little Timmys out and walk them to the school gate and this is fine because they have children, are more important and have a bigger and far more expensive car than you, so fuck you…

Those that when town driving, believe it to be perfectly fine to keep pace with your car with so little space to spare between the bumpers that if your car were self aware, it would be shaking in fear of being horrifically violated from the rear by a far larger intimidating beast, being driven by either the:

A), Hair flicking, ridiculouly large sunglasses wearing beast, yapping away on a phone seemingly glued to their hand and ear, with absolutely no care for the possibility that anything, at anytime, could go wrong, because yes, they, their conversation and their need to reach their destination which is being hindered by other lesser people on the road in their lesser cars is far more important than you, so fuck you…

or,

B) Ridiculously large sunglasses and forced Phil Mitchell ‘hard man scowl’ wearing beast, sitting so far back and low in their seat that you wonder if you looked under their car would you see their feet frantically peddling in a Fred Flintstone fashion to power the car, one hand dramatically and forcibly clenching the upper part of the steering wheel so tight, (because it’s the largest girth they have ever felt between their fingers and are constantly cursing their parents or god or genetics for their phallus failings and wishing that it weren’t so), you can see the veins popping out of their arms and does this because they are far better, far more important and (they hope or believe themselves to be in possession of) have a far larger penis than you, or simply just have a penis, so fuck you…

Those who see the amber light on traffic lights as being a warning to speed up as much as possible to beat the red light because they are far more important and their car is far better and they are a far better driver than you because they can slam their foot on the pedal really hard and pull a gurning ‘look at me! Look at how cool and angry I am! Grrr!’ face, (which apparently takes great skill), so fuck you…

Those who run red lights because they believe they don’t apply to them or believe they shouldn’t actually be installed at most junctions and are just a hindrance to the journey that is already being hindered by the lesser people in their lesser cars because they are far more important and own a far better car than you, so fuck you…

Those, who at a give way sign or roundabout, do not give way and just charge out as fast as possible without any hesitation or even a glance to where the oncoming traffic is coming from, giving little care to the possible chaos and carnage left in their wake because they are far better, far more important and getting to their destination as quickly as possible is far more important than you, so fuck you…

Those that deliberatly drive in the wrong designated lane to overtake or more usually undertake the traffic that is of no importance to them, then just push in at the smallest possible gap with no indication or care because they know you WILL STOP FOR THEIR CAR, because it is bigger and better than yours, they are more important than you and they are asserting their dominance over you, so fuck you…

Those that at a contraflow, will drive as fast as possible in the lanes that are obviously coming to an abrupt end, so as not to sit like a lesser person in their lesser car in a queue that would impair their aggressive alpha / matriarchal status because they are better and far more important than you, so fuck you..

Yes, I’m talking to you… you, who have been bred to be so paranoid, so self deluded and so self important that you feel you have to drive the biggest possible available car to transport little Timmy five minutes to school in case of:

A sudden breakout of riots of the lesser peoples angry about things that are of no importantance or consequnce to you…

Rabid dogs ruling and running the streets because the lesser people have not looked after them properly and are to busy rioting about things that are of no importance or consequence to you, (unless you are a self deluded, self important, self indulgent quim who believes that ‘getting in’ with the lesser masses will make you far more important and intelligent than those who you surround yourself with)…

Paedophiles, of which there are hundreds upon thousands lurking around every corner of every road, in every park, in every shop, in every place where there be a shadow… or man with a beard…

Poor and homeless people, because, they are just as dangerous as paedophiles and…

Balaclava wearing terrorists eager on causing all kinds of chaos within London by targetting your little Timmy specifically because your little Timmy is the child of someone who has a far bigger car, far bigger bank account and therefore is far more important than you or your children..

You know what…?

Fuck you…

Fuck you all…

C U Next Tuesdays