Zero Charisma [2013]

zero charisma poster

Ha! Nerds, eh? They’re just like puppies with bad skin who collect stuff, and they also talk and say amusingly inappropriate things, like ‘Is this one of those social conventions I’ve been told about?’ Awww, they’re a right old lol, nerds are. I wish I could keep one in a box and wheel them out for parties. They’d stand in the middle of the room, probably wearing thick-rimmed glasses, and keep nervously flicking their lank hair out their eyes. And we, because I’m obviously in that alpha set, would be all ‘You just want to hug them, don’t you? Oh, look, the nerd’s reading their ‘Pathfinder’ rules expansion set. Wait, no it’s not. Is that… homemade ‘Rise of the Runelords’ fanfiction? WITH ANIME-STYLE STEAMPUNK ILLUSTRATIONS? It is! It is! I just want to smother them with love!’

Such a contrast with the jock or rugby boy. Those people are simply monsters. Crude, rude and delightedly anti-social, they barge in with their kegs or eight-packs, fresh from their frat house or off licence, being a great big bunch of bastards, so insensitive to others’ needs. And the way they regard women is just frightful. As ‘Revenge of the Nerds’ showed us, if a nerd only gets the chance to perform oral on the popular hot girl because he’s disguised as her boyfriend while he’s doing it, the loveable little scamp will win the day and find love once he takes that mask off. What more of a heartwarming story of underdog success do you need?

d20 lads

But outside the land of film & television, this archetype demarcation or nice nerds and horrid bigger boys falls down dead. It’s not uncommon to find social awkwards who fail to rouse much sympathy for their marginalisation. Maybe they’re not carrying out any directly physical mistreatment of others themselves, but they’ve got alternative, more conversationally based ways to be unpleasant company. In recent years, much #realtalk has been directed against The Nice Guy™, and it’s among less savoury nerdist circles they can often be found.

And then there’s Scott, the lead of ‘Zero Charisma’, as recognisably petulant and hateable as any loud-talking rules-corrector who ever walked into a ‘Magic: The Gathering’ tournament. And it’s this quality that makes the film lovely, unafraid to shape itself around someone whose few closest friends don’t even like that much.

Set pieces lifted from any ten-minute-plus visit to Games Workshop turn up to great uncomfortable delight, including a stats-filled argument on the comparative speeds of movie franchise starships, and many shouted-out dressings down of those who lack the immediate knowledge of appropriate spells needed to dispense fire golems.

There’s a plot. Here, look at the trailer. It tells you loads without me having to.

Will this film play well to those not familiar with the types of people it portrays? And will it play well to those who are these people? Probably not. Never mind, though.

I don’t know how to file a patent application

So this will have to do for now, as I know stuff gets a timestamp on it, and everything what happens on wordpress is legally binding forever and ever. Take that, prosecution lawyer.

Discussing with K and L the annoying children who live next door, I suggested a way of getting revenge for their non-crime of being a bunch of noisy dicks would be to send them professional-looking rejection letters from Hogwarts. What sprightly young thing of the right demographic wouldn’t have their world crushed by a personalised pre-emptive dumping from their favourite elitist institution?

Our creative juices flowing like people in advertising imagine theirs do ever, the idea extended to sending out these embossed ‘fuck no, not you’ dismissals to every child on our road, so we could stand in the driveway and hear the howls of disappointment as we ate our morning toast. And further, why not dress up in fancy clothes, posing as Hogwarts admissions staff, and do door-to-door visits?

‘Is Timmy in? … Oh, hello Timmy. We’re from Hogwarts. Yes, that’s right. Well, we’ve heard about you, and we just wanted to say you’re the most unmagical, talentless little prick in the whole world. There is no chance of you ever being a wizard. Fuck you, Timmy’. And then we’d break their wand.

pro bono work

avril lavigne endorses this product at its upcoming press conference release. thanks, avril.

Noah [2014]

noah poster

I

‘hey, russell crowe’, said emma watson, appearing at his shoulder once again, a persistent cricket.

‘what is it?’ russell crowe gruffly replied, gruffly.

‘do you want to hear a song?’ emma watson asked, hands nonchalantly in her dress pockets as she rocked on her heel.

‘not really’, said russell crowe. but he had learned what he desired was never in emma watson’s thoughts.

‘noah noah noah noah noah noah noah noah noah noah noah noah there’s noah limit’, chanted emma watson, to russell crowe’s annoyance as well as confusion, for he did not get the ‘90s europop reference.

hey rc

II

‘hi, russell crowe’, emma watson perkily spoke up, causing him to tighten his grip on the hatchet.

‘can I help you, emma watson?’ said russell crowe, heavy in his heart and in his mind.

‘we’ve been on set a while, right?’ feedlined emma watson, idly playing with a piece of rigging. ‘we’re close, don’t you think?’

‘what are you trying to say, emma watson?’ asked russell crowe.

‘noah me, noah you’, whispered emma watson, leaning in, before adding like a soft but teasing caress as she pulled back, ‘a-ha’.

russell crowe leant his femur heavily on the hatchet blade, wishing himself back to the lands of his childhood.

please leave me alone

III

‘well, hello there, russell crowe’, emma watson merrily intruded as he bit into a ginsters pasty at the catering truck.

‘i rue the day we ever met, child’, intoned russell crowe at length. ‘when will you give me peace?’

emma watson looked up into the beam of sunlight cast onto her shoulder, sharp eyes following the dust motes above.

‘you may be right, russell crowe’, she exhaled, suddenly snapping her gaze back on his. ‘there is noah scaping here’.

russell crowe roared in pain, cursing emma watson from fore to aft of the great vessel, cursing her and all her words, all she would ever do or say. impishly ducking under a cgi wildebeest, emma watson scampered off, undaunted and unbowed. it was her way, and she could not be stopped.

Vegan brownies

There comes a point when one has to realise they’ve stolen enough food off their work colleagues, and it’s time to put the fucking oven on. 1. fuck the fascists You’re going to need 100g of plain flour, and also 100g of self-raising flour. Definitely sift all that into a bowl through a sieve, or it will be totally dicks. Also important is you select plain flour that’s proud of its heritage, in a way that’s appealing to environmentalists concerned about food air miles, and also appealing to patriots concerned about continuing to be fuckends. For your self-raising flour, that’s not as important, but it should still be sneakily reminding you it’s not some of that foreign shit, and also suggesting a brave new British dawn is on its way. Fuck you, nationalism, if you weren’t so carblicious and tasty. 2. white flour problems Be careful to bollocks it up when you open the self-raising flour, otherwise it might not go everywhere when you pour it out. 3. beneath the misty mountains This next bit is going to require some measuring implements, but a quick look into the junk shop wizard’s dwellings of the Other and Misc. draw should be enough to make you give up hope of finding anything accurate, and you’re just going to have to guess everything again. 4. maybe it's in lancashire or somewhere Actually, fuck that for a minute, because there should be caster sugar in there. We’re not making some fucking loaf of bread here. Anything which doesn’t have sugar as the heaviest ingredient is basically fennel, so dump 200g of it in. Again, unnecessarily exclusivist and fascistic ingredients are the best.

But wait and what the fuck, they can actually grow sugar in Britain? Since when did that happen? Why haven’t I snuck out to a sugar farm in camouflage gear and tried to ram a whole field into my face?

Never mind that for now, though. Gather together 3 tbsp. of cocoa powder, and get that in there as well. Of course they’re fucking heaped spoons. What the fuck, mate? I usually put it through the sieve, because it’s more fun. I wouldn’t bother doing that with the sugar, and if the sugar you’ve got does need sifting, someone’s probably gone and done a wank in it or something, and you need to get different housemates. 5. salt A pinch of salt probably means about this much. I love salt so much that I think of food as the garnish and salt as the real reason I’ve sat down for the evening. But look at my hand. Just look at it. Where have the years gone? They used to be so smooth and pliant. It can’t be too long to go now. Not long until the final journey. For the first time last week, I saw I had a grey chest hair. I’d always been fine with grey going on on my head, but I never thought about it below the neck line. I stood there for a while, looking in the mirror, imagining my springy, peat-brown pubes all lank and ashen. A sobering moment, looking down from the apex of the hill into the lowlands of the hereafter.6. almost done Give that a stir for no real reason, and it will probably look like this. It’s all pretty much good to go now, but there’s a few more stages to follow through with if any brownie traditionalists are going to avoid taking issue with the free snacks you’ve just dished out to them. 7. down it Fold in 270ml of sweetened soya milk, 2 tsp. of vanilla extract, and also 6 tbsp. of sunflower oil. If you’re looking for them to be more gooey, do this with an unsteady hand and have more stuff fall into the bowl when you’re pretending to measure it out. No one’s ever said ‘Hey buddy, these brownies are too moist! Why don’t you go fuck yourself?!’ 8. for texture for taste Let’s get serious now. Fold in 100g of dark chocolate chips, checking it’s not dark chocolate which has milk listed in the ingredients, because that’s milk chocolate and you’ve been sold a lie by some right nobber. There’s quite a few brands out there which only sell in 150g bags, so either you chuck the whole lot in anyway, or inexpertly judge what two-thirds of it is, and then eat the remainder out the bag while you’re standing there. You win either way.

The recipe I’m working from also lists 1 tbsp. of nuts, but if you’re going to put nuts in something, either do it properly or don’t bother. Do enough of them to visually match the amount of chocolate chips. Unless your audience has a nut allergy, in which case probably no nuts is a better amount. 9. who fucking knows Fucking hell, I should have put this on ages ago. Get the oven to 200c, but if you’ve got dials which look like these, where that might be is anyone’s fucking guess. 10. cheffing This next bit’s sometimes easy to forget in all the excitement, but that’s a really bad idea, so don’t. Grease up a baking dish or a couple of sandwich tins or whatever you’ve got. Back when my hands were youthful and my scrotum covered in a luxurious forest, I’d spent half an hour walking up and down a bakery aisle looking for grease, only to later be told you just had to smear the tray with butter. That’s pretend butter, vegans. Nothing that’s touched a farm animal, understand?

11. when it's wetThis is how it is before it goes in the oven. There’ll be remnants left over in the bowl, so eat those now. You might need to get a teaspoon out, so you can scrape bits of the mixture off the wooden spoon, and then use the wooden spoon on the teaspoon, and then the teaspoon on the wooden spoon again, and keep on doing that until you’re eating quarks.

12. when it's dry

18-20 minutes later, depending on how wet you want it, here it is. It should spring back when gently pressed down, but I’m used to the middle of the tray being a bit slick. Put it on a wire rack to cool down, but because you’ve never even been in a kitchen that had a wire rack in it, just leave it on the hob. And make sure none of the rings are on, otherwise oh shit.

13. when it's gone

After you’ve left it in the office a few minutes, it should look like this. Soon after, you’ll just be left with a tray.

As you’re getting up the next morning, receive a text from L which you very briefly get offended about, until you realise you’ve misread it and she’s saying the brownies were incredible, not inedible. As if that would fucking happen anyway.


Dedicated to K, who first made these for me and then passed the recipe on, even though she thought adding a lake of maple syrup and Hundreds & Thousands on top of it was just too much. It isn’t too much. It makes it even funner.

Also, it’s definitely a good idea to double all of the amounts listed above, and have yourself a real party.

The Past [2013]

le passe poster

Starting on the negative, the plot developments which turn up late on, with all their lies that you told, no I wasn’t lying, I was lying I was lying, why don’t you tell me the truth, yeah, well, why don’t you tell me the truth, what do you say about that then, mean that ‘The Past’ actually sheds some of the emotional weight successfully established up from its very beginning. As these intrigues and uncovering of the past – ohhhhh shit, son! – lead to a small but noticeable speeding up in the pacing, the more powerfully measured outlaying of detail and character seen in the first hour is slightly diminished.

But even so, the final scene brutally slams everything together, and what’s left over is still a fuckingly good drama, with everyone performing their bums right off. The central trio of adults – woman, woman’s ex man, woman’s current man – are all quietly amazing in what they’re doing, but possibly even better are the three kids – woman’s teenage daughter from a different ex, woman’s young daughter from a different ex, woman’s current man’s young son from another woman who’s in a coma following attempted suicide. Within this grouping, woman’s teenage daughter from a different ex impressively bears the constantly deadened, haunted shark-eyes of a depressive, shoulder-slumping her way into massive sympathy. And woman’s current man’s young son from another woman who’s in a coma following attempted suicide struggles to deal with his own confusion and sadness, alternating between lashing out with impotent rage and sullenly avoiding eye contact with everyone. So much emotion. So much. Maybe even all of it.

troubled

Under the Skin [2013]

under the skin poster

‘Entirely alien being comes to Earth’ is pretty much the same premise as ‘Scarlett Johansson comes to Govan’, so there’s some kind of nice symmetry there. ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ goes all a bit weirdy at the end when Dave jumps through the stargate, but everyone was happy to indulge those funny lights and sounds because they’d been put in a good mood by having seen some cute little apes twat each other with shin bones just beforehand. This, though, goes for the bold move of starting right off the bat with prog rock album cover art visuals and unsettling noises. No one speaks for minutes at a time, basically nothing is explained, many of the things which happen happen several times over without resolving anything, and there’s a few bits which are really quite nasty. What a great fucking film.

doonae gae in laddie

Her [2013]

My phone had way too many features. Like it allowed me to contact people through speech rather than text. And there were no buttons. Just these insultingly friendly symbols that slid around everywhere. So I needed to downgrade. I’d only got the one I got because they said it had a good camera on it. But it didn’t. It had a shit camera. So what I did was, I bought an alright camera.

Less than a couple of years later, I got it together to get rid of the phone that had a shit camera on it. And that only happened because I took F to the shop with me. She had instructions not to let me leave until I’d signed up to something inferior. That way, I’d have an alright phone without a shit camera, and elsewhere I’d also have an alright camera. These would weigh more, but I’d been going to the gym, and the time was right. They had to excavate my new handset out from far under the counter. I’m still sad the screen has a colour display.

Despite this lack of interest in what is new and electrical and digital and related, one of the cutest things about ‘Her’ was its projections of technology. It’s clearly in the future, but it’s not that in the future. It’s not flying cars, bastardly cyborgs and shipping out to the offworld colonies because the sun’s left forever. It’s just a bit cleaner, a bit compacter and a bit minimaler. And you can have a romantically loving relationship with it.

Admittedly, with the right level of grim-faced determination and the correct USB adapter, that’s true today. And there’s always the joy of using your genitals to type out ‘Happy birthday’ messages on facebook to people what you fancy. So we’ll make do for now. But if there’s some kind of kickstarter fund going round for this sort of thing, link me up.

i’d also like to renew my apology to g for accidentally watching an amy adams film without them. i had no idea. it won’t happen again.