Monday, October 30, 2006

Some incontrovertible truths about me

I’m right handed.
I’m losing my hair on my head but have an astonishing amount of it on my tummy.
I cry at odd things on telly. The end of ‘King Kong’ makes me bawl but ‘Philadelphia’ left me cold.
I drink way too much tea.
I think I’m nice.
I always smile at dogs and babies.
I don’t believe in God but I do think that if he does exist, he’ll understand.
I grin like an idiot and sometimes chuckle to myself with happiness when I think of Beth.
All my boxers are black.
I only wear brightly coloured, stripey socks.
I name stuff. (Our car is Mabel, we have plants called Megan, Dave & Tony and the hoover is known as Steve.)
Whenever I’m feeling blue I whistle the ‘Terry & June’ theme tune and that picks me up.
I look good in pink.
I’ve owned four identical pairs of the same yellow trainers.
I love Doctor Who. (The show, not the man.)
Hearing Al Green’s ‘Let’s Stay Together’ always makes me happy.
My first crush came whilst listening Debbie Harry singing ‘Heart of Glass’ on my Dad’s record player.
I’m not fussed about football.
I love skiing and the noise of fresh snow crunching under my feet.
I’m a designer but I’d rather be a writer.
I quite like the Queen and I think Tony Blair has done what he thought best.
I prefer Jamie Oliver to Gordon Ramsay.
I think that anything with either a giant monkey or a midget in it is worth watching.
If I could choose my own family I’d have William Shatner as my Dad, Judi Dench as my Mum (my Mum actually reminds me of Judi), Hugh Laurie as my uncle, Kathy Burke as my auntie and Ant & Dec and Miranda Richardson as my younger twin brothers and older sister respectively.
I’m a bit of an environmentalist.
I don’t get the interest in ‘Arctic Monkeys’.
I like vodka but am developing a taste for whiskey.
I prefer white wine to red and French to ‘New World’.
I think cake is amazing.
When I enter my building I often try to leg it up the two sets of stairs to my door before the front door shuts.
I can’t wait for Christmas.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Food that hurts

By rights this should be a misnomer but unfortunately there seems to be a surprising amount of foodstuffs on the market that are designed to injure, maim and, in some cases, even kill you. We’ve all experienced these at some point or another and I’m sure, like me, anyone that has now harbours a bizarre mix of deep seeded fear and frustration towards these products.
Before I go further I should point out that I’m not referring to the obvious culprits here, sure an apple full of strychnine coated razor blades will hurt if you try to eat it and a prawn and chicken kebab that’s been kept warm over a candle flame for a fortnight and sold from the back of a kitchen/bike in Old Street is sure to give you gip, but these things are clearly dodgy and anyone that eats them is, in truth, a massive idiot, or drunk. Possibly both. What I’m referring to here are the more innocuous culprits, food that looks, and indeed is, quite nice yet harbours a grudge against us.
The chief culprit of all this is the ticking time-bomb that lurks in pretty much everyone’s larder. I speak, (in hushed, frightened tones) of course, about Coleman’s English Mustard and this little fucker is a killer, believe me. But how can it be? It’s a condiment Ben. I hear you children. A condiment is a good, nae wonderful thing. It’s Heinz Tomato Ketchup, it’s Daddies Brown Sauce. It’s that funny pot of something smingey in an Indian restaurant that looks odd but is actually delicious when you slap it on your poppadoms. (Insert fruity, Babs Windsor-esque snigger here.) But no, English mustard is not one of these cheery food enhancers. It’s evil. Only us English, with our sense of apathetic sense of injustice and hatred of anything that becomes too popular, would invent a condiment that (though delicious and an absolute must on a sausage sarnie) makes your nose bleed when you eat it. If you make the slightest miscalculation in the amount when you’re applying it your eyes water, your throat closes, your nose starts to gush torrents of blood and your ears ring as tinnitus kicks in. Using it in a sandwich is the food equivalent of measuring out some kind of virus for use in a dirty bomb. I love the stuff, can’t get enough but man does it hurt.

One of the most dangerous foods out there folks, is a proper ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ masquerading itself as it does in that most beautiful, joyous and friendly form, chocolate. Now I was always under the impression that the Swiss were a peace-loving race. They remained peaceful throughout WW2 and they’re internationally known for their neutrality in both their political and financial stances. In fact their most aggressive creation so far has to be the Swiss Army Knife, or is it? Well, frankly no, it isn’t. The Swiss clearly have some kind of self-flagellation style need to punish themselves and larger issues with the rest of the World, hence the creation of the Toblerone. Never in all my life has something so pleasurable as a chocolate bar caused so much pain and unnecessary suffering. I mean Christ. How do you eat the bloody thing without literally becoming a bloody thing. You need teeth of steel to bit off one of those huge, pointy, rock hard triangles and even then the fact that it’s shaped like some kind of barbaric 15th century stabbing weapon means you’ll probably end up gauging your palette whilst simultaneously stripping the enamel off your teeth and shattering your central incisors. Come on Switzerland, you make such beautiful things. Your watches are hand-crafted creations of staggering beauty, your knives are revered for their simplicity and used the World over and your banking system has a spotless reputation for superior service and security. What did we do to you? What have we done to make you so angry you must unleash on us, this punishment.

But the damage the Swiss have done whilst we eat is nothing compared to that inflicted upon us by the Swedish and Findus. Findus are the undisputed kings of painful food. Stevie B and I were chatting about this the other day at work when he, quite innocently, reminded me of the horror that is the Findus French-Bread Pizza. This innocuous looking monster has blighted many a young student’s life and, again, its main weapon is it’s subtlety, disguising itself as a pizza, a food that pretty much everyone on the planet loves and Italy’s greatest invention, is a masterstroke of subterfuge. They look okay, sure they’re not really a pizza ‘cos they’re on half a baguette but then that’s quite clearly stated in the name, they’re cheap and quick and can be done in the microwave – a true bonus for the busy student. But STOP! For God’s sake stop young man. When you pop this thing in your mouth you’re leaving yourself wide open for a two-pronged attack. This meal will damage you on two fronts. First the topping, which is (thanks to the power of microwaves) white-hot, will weld itself to the roof of your mouth whilst it rapidly dissolves your palette and eats it’s way into your skull like the acid that spills from the damaged Alien in titular film. Whilst your reeling from the shock of this the crusty French bread base, which has been nicely crisped so that has the same consistency as powdered glass, will shatter on you teeth and send shards of spikey pain lancing through you as the firmly embed themselves between your teeth and gums. All in all it’s not a nice way to die.
But Findus aren’t content with killing us with pizza, oh no. They have another weapon in their arsenal. Whisper its name boys and girls, huddle together in safety for fear that it should be visited upon you. I speak, of course, about the Findus crispy pancake. Its name is synonymous with pain and anguish and yet they are still on sale. Why? Is this the outcome of some sinister plot developed by our government and the Swedish in which the student population of our fair nation are to be the subject of a random cull? These things are a living nightmare and are available with three fillings. Minced beef, three cheeses and chicken, bacon and sweetcorn and all are deadly.
Once cooked the filling reaches temperatures not far off that experienced on the surface of the Sun during a particularly violent solar flare and reach a consistency similar to that of superheated lead in its molten state. Quite what kind of energy source they’ve invented to produce this heat is beyond my imagination but I can’t help but think they could put it to better use. Supplying the World’s electricity needs for example or providing a cheap and eco-friendly alternative to the fuel used to power the space shuttle. I have an image of men in sealed, sterile rooms wearing white all-over body suits with plexi-glass hoods, attached by air tubes to a bank of computer monitors working away with their hands inserted in one of those contaminent-free boxes, carefully pouring an unknown but volatile liquid into a savoury crust parcel. It must be like handling liquid plutonium. I’m sure most of the unexplained explosions and disasters in the World are down to the poor handling of Findus crispy pancakes.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Room 101 (part five)

Hard butter in Restaurants

Why? It's nice to be given a little bread roll or slice of bread when we sit down to a meal but why are we so often presented with a little dish of butter that has all the spreadability of alabaster? I mean why? Is it hard to provide spreadable butter? Is there so little space in the kitchen that you can't spare one tiny corner of the worksurfaces to put the stuff to let it soften? Why do I have to scrape away at the damn stuff as if I'm scratching a particularly awkward label off a present only to have it bugger up the bread and make it to that horrible mashing up thing when I try in vain to make it spread. If this phenomenon were limited to those mid-range but yet slightly shit restaurants I'd understand but it's not. Sure in a Little Chef or a naff pub you expect to get those odd little parcels of a close approximation to butter (even these rubbish places sometimes manage to get these butter-envelopes soft) but at a decent restaurant? No. Shouldn't happen. This is intolerable in a decent place. You're probably gonna pay a lot of money so why should you suffer the indignity of hard butter. It's even more galling when the bread you've been given is all fancy and rustic and delicious looking.
In the past I judged a restaurant's standard of care by whether or not they pestered you by asking if everything was okay, but now I've switched to the butter thing.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Lunch

I've just had a coronation chicken bap (from a nice little sandwich shop on Borough High Street) that was so hot that it's made my ears ring. Or is it my mobile...

It was Bacon!

Dear God I love Wikipedia. For years now (and I do mean years) I've been desperately trying to remember what the original third flavour of Monster Munch was and now I know! It was bacon. For those of you that don't know, Monster Munch are crisps themed on, well... monsters. They're a bit of a British institution in the snack world and I've yet to meet someone who doesn't like at least one of the flavours. Me, I like the roast beef flavour. Beth, she used to go daft for pickled onion but recently she's switched alliegance to flamin' hot. Women are so fickle.
Like a lot of snacks here in the UK they used to be bigger (and no, it's not just 'cos I'm bigger) and there were three different crisp 'designs' in each bag, now there's just a paw shape.
The range has been added to and changed throughout the years, though pickled onion and beef have remained constant. Apparently there was also a vanilla flavour introduced in 2004 which everyone hated. Now why would that be huh?

Monday, October 23, 2006

100

I've just realised that this post is my 100th on this blog so, by way of a little celebration, here's a few facts about the number 100.

100 (the Roman numeral is C for centum) is the natural number following 99 and preceding 101.

In mathematics one hundred is the square of 10 (in scientific notation it is written as 102).
The standard SI prefix for a hundred is "hecto-".
It is the sum of the first nine prime numbers, as well as the sum of two prime numbers (47 + 53), and the sum of the cubes of the first four integers (100 = 13 + 23 + 33 + 43). Also, 26 + 62 = 100, thus 100 is a Leyland number.
But perhaps this number is most important as the basis of percentages (literally "per hundred"), with 100% being a full amount.
One hundred is also an 18-gonal number. It is divisible by the number of primes below it, 25 in this case. But it can not be expressed as the difference between any integer and the total of coprimes below it, making it a noncototient.
100 is a Harshad number in base 10, and also in base 4, and in that base it is a self-descriptive number.

In science 100 is the atomic number of fermium, an actinide and 100 degrees Celsius is the boiling temperature of pure water at sea level

One hundred is also the number of years in a century
A 100 year old person is known as a centenarian
The number of pounds in an American short hundredweight
The number of subunits into which many of the world's currencies are divided; for example, one euro is one hundred cents and one Pound Sterling is one hundred pence
The number of verses in the pop song 99 Bottles of Beer
The denomination of the U.S. hundred-dollar bill with Benjamin Franklin's portrait; the "Benjamin" is the largest U.S. bill in print
The denomination of American savings bonds with Thomas Jefferson's portrait
The denomination of American treasury bonds with Andrew Jackson's portrait
The number of the first folder of photos in the DCIM folder created by a brand-new digital camera (or after a change of memory card if the camera is set to auto-reset numbering)
The number of tiles in a standard Scrabble set
In Greece, India and Israel, 100 is the police telephone number.
In United Kingdom, 100 is the operator telephone number
Hundred Days, aka the Waterloo Campaign
"The First Hundred Days" is an arbitrary benchmark of a President of the United States' performance at the beginning of his term
The number of poems in the Japanese poetry anthology Hyakunin Isshu
The record number of points scored in one NBA game, set by Wilt Chamberlain on March 2, 1962
100 metres, a racing distance
Historical years: AD 100 or 100 BC.

100 is the debut album of the Hong Kong band Dear Jane.

Source: Wikipedia

Friday, October 20, 2006

The evilest of ALL evil robots are...



THE DALEKS

Yep, there's no denying it. When it comes to being down right evil these guys not only take first prize but they laser the other contestants, melt down the awards, burn the village hall to the ground, kill everyone nearby, and their families, and their friends, and their friends' families and then take off and nuke the entire village from orbit. They're bad. REALLY VERY BAD. They're also exceedingly awesome. They always scared the beeJesus out of me as a child and yet I was utterly mesmerised by them. What were they? What was inside them? Why were they so evil?



Genetically engineered to be free of any emotions except hate and obedience by Davros, chief scientist of the Kaled race, a Dalek is essentially a slimy, tentacled blob that's placed inside and symbiotically bonded to a powerful one-blobbed tank where they live out their psychopathic existence. It was back to this original idea that new Doctor Who executive producer Russel T. Davis & writer Robert Shearman looked when bringing the monsters back onto our television screens in 2005. There had been a long-running and very public battle between the BBC & the estate of Terry Nation (Terry had wisely set this up so that he could protect his beloved Daleks from becoming over-used and out of his control). Thankfully the BBC convinced the estate that they'd treat the Daleks with respect and Russel & Robert took the very brave decision not to change the Dalek's appearance and make him more modern but to rely on the essence of the thing and the story to make them terrifying again. And boy did they succeed. The episode's lone Dalek, when deprived of any contact with, or instructions from, other Daleks went on one hell of a major-league killing spree before committing suicide (in a surprisingly poignant scene) when faced with it's own loneliness.



You see that's what always made the Daleks so scary to me, it wasn't the design, that was always pretty basic and old-school, it was the their total disgust and contempt for anything that wasn't Dalek, anything that was different had to be destroyed. In the words of the 9th Doctor, Christopher Ecclestone, "They're the ultimate in racial cleansing."
Never was this better portrayed than in the series' finale when a squad of Daleks breaks off from the main body attacking the space station 'Satellite 5' to travel down to floor zero simply to massacre the assembled un-armed humans cowering there. They posed no threat and neither were they important but they were different and therefore had to die. Brutal.

These nightmarish wheelie-bins, with their death-ray, single eye stork, incongruous sink plunger and maniacal high-pitched, voice sent children the length and breadth of the country diving behind the sofa whenever they trundled out screaming and shouting for us to obey them or they'd exterminate us. And this was one of the things that make the Daleks so striking. Like the program that spawned them (and don't forget this show was aimed at kids) the Daleks are all about death. They shouted, schemed and killed. And they killed this a lot. One episode, Resurrection of the Daleks, (aired during Peter Davison's tenure as the doctor) has a higher body count than The Terminator with 7 people killed in the first minute of the first episode and a total of 60-76 dead by the close of the story. That's higher than all 5 Friday the 13th films combined! What made matters worse (or better - depending on your point of view) was that they were apparently indestructible. Just when it looked like the Doc had done away with them for good, up they'd pop again just as crazed and angry as before.


Davros in his travelling commode

Brainchild of Terry Nation, one of the writers of BBC's Doctor Who, the Daleks first appeared on our screens in 1963 to pit their wits against the first Doctor William Hartnell. They were an immediate success and consequently appeared again and again battling every incarnation of the Doctor (except Paul McGann's eighth) rapidly becoming his number one nemesis in the eyes of the nation. So much so, in fact, that Doctor Who without the Daleks became unimaginable. It'd be like fish without chips, C-3PO without R2-D2, Ant without Dec or Richard but not Judy. Such has been their impact on us here in the UK that they've managed something truly unique and moved beyond the television show and into popular culture to become recognisable even to those who have never seen Doctor Who. The name 'Dalek' entered the Oxford English dictionary and the Collins Dictionary defines it rather broadly as "any of a set of fictional robot-like creations that are aggressive, mobile, and produce rasping staccato speech". The name is also used in a metaphorical sense to describe people, usually figures in authority, who act like robots unable to break their programming. John Birt, the Director-General of the BBC from 1992 to 2000, was called a "croak-voiced Dalek" by playwright Dennis Potter in August 1993. They've been the subject of countless fan-films, have made appearances in adverts, starred in video games and even have many books and audio plays written about them. They even made it to the big screen. Twice.

So there you have it. The Daleks. The evilest robot of all.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I love pork scratchings

I really do. I think they're great. Sure they're not very fashionable in the crisp fraternity and they're kind of frowned upon by anyone with a health-concious streak but at least they're honest. Crisps nowadays are desperately trying to convince you that they're not as unhealthy as you think. They're all 'Now only 2% fat', 'Made with polyunsaturates', 'baked not fried' and 'Look at me I'm a potato, a vegetable. You need me to live'. Whereas old porky is just there. He's not a fake and he tries to convince you of nothing. He's bad for you and he knows you know it. The pack I'm eating now has the weight (42g), the brand (B.N.) and the legend 'Finest Pork Scratchings'. Can you argue with any of that? No. Is any of it false or controversial? No. It also says 'Seasoned Pork Rinds'... which they are.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Todays evil robot is...



MEGATRON

YEAAAAAAAH! Now we're talking. This guy is just brilliant in every way. Leader of the evil Decepticons he was ruthless, dangerous, violent and, in a departure from the usual cartoon villains that populated our televisions at that time, he wasn't a cowardly custard. No hiding at the back for this guy whilst he sent his troops in, no siree Bob. Cavalier with the lives of his men he may have been but he too got right on in there and gave the Autobots a damn good slapping. With his signature massive gun attached to his arm, sneering glare, massive height and cool raspy voice, Megatron was a sight to behold to a small kid.

For those of you who don't know (and where in the Hell have you been - in a parallel world you freakazoids!) the Transformers were a robot race who could change their appearance and transform into something completely different. Normally this was some kind of vehicle such as a car or a plane, but occasionally, as was the case with Megatron here, it was something totally unrelated like a gun. The Decepticons had been engaged in a civil war on their home planet of Cybertron with the heroic Autobots (who were a kind of resistance movement) which had raged for years and somehow or other they'd crashed here on a pre-historic Earth in their space-vessel the Ark. There they lay in a dormant volcano until an eruption kick-started the ships computer which set about waking up it's inhabitants and altering them so that they could transform into Earth vehicles as a disguise. From this point on their war raged on our planet as both factions tried to rid themselves of the other, the Decepticons looking for a fuel source called Energon with which to destroy the Autobots and re-take Cybertron, the Autobots trying to protect us and vanquish the Decepticons. Brilliant.

The Transformers burst into my young, sugar-crazed, daydream-soaked life every Saturday morning as a brilliant piece of marketing disguised as a cartoon and marked the beginning of the whole merchandising thing that's everywhere now. It certainly worked and all over the country kids would save up their pennies and pester the living daylights out of their parents to buy them Optimus Prime, Starscream or some other fantastic robot that transformed into a vehicle. Later it became a comic both here and in the U.S. (though ours was better). It was this format that introduced me to the wonder of comics and I have deep, halcyon memories of a wee dark haired, fresh faced kid called Benji sitting on the bottom step staring at the letterbox willing with all my soul for the postman to deliver the latest edition of the comic into my day. I even had a drawing published in it once and won a Bumblebee mini-Autbot toy. I still have it and every time I see it, it helps me step back onto the bottom of our stairs to sit next to that happy little kid.

I, like everyone I knew, was far from immune to all this rampant marketing and couldn't wait to get my grubby little, chocolate-stained, mud-encrusted mitts on a new Transformer. They were always pretty much the only thing on my Birthday & Christmas lists. Consequently I built up quite a collection of the toys but ironically (given how much I revered him) Megatron was never amongst them.



You see Megatron was not the best Transformer, he suffered from an inherent flaw that as a kid I had great difficulty with. He turned into a gun. Here was a 50-foot high robot that could apparently transform himself into a weapon that was only 20+ cms long. Even as a kid I could see this was a bit daft. Sentient robots from outer space transforming into jets and cars required a leap of imagination, a willing suspension of disbelief if you like. But robots that could transform AND shrink... no. Unfortunately this terrible niggle also tainted my love of Soundwave (who I did own and thought to be the greatest of all my Transformers). He was an awesome and beautiful robot that turned into a cassette player. Killer robot with big gun and cool monotone voice = loads of fun. Cassette deck with tapes = no fun.
Despite this obvious flaw Megatron still ruled the cartoon and comic roost as far as I was concerned and I was secretly pleased when the manutacturers of the toys, Hasbro, changed the toy's alternate mode (and therefore his characters appearance in the cartoon & comic) from a gun to a tank. Much cooler and more realistic thank you Mr. Japanese Toy Manufacturer.



Galvatron


Now something very strange happened to Megatron back in 1986 with the release of the feature length animated film that was Transformers the Movie. Megatron was 'killed' by the leader of the Autobots Optimus Prime. However, after a run in with Orson Welles in the shape of the giant, planet-devouring Transformer Unicron, Megatron was re-tooled, re-designed, re-voiced and sent back to kick Auto-butt in the shape of Galvatron. Megatron the baddest Transformer had been transformed. Galvatron was good, he looked evil enough, turned into a big ol' laser cannon, and sounded just like Leonard Nimoy but he just wasn't as cool.

In the upcoming 'Transformers' film (not to be confused with the brilliant animated film) Megatron again reprises his role as the Decepticon leader though his appearance has been changed drastically. A recent leaked concept image showed Megatron to be some kind of spiky, alien, cable-robot. Not cool at all. Thankfully, Frank Welker (who voiced Megatron in the original cartoon and is back to provide the voice in the new film) has said that his head has now changed. There's been a lot of fandom-based rumour that this design will be a pre-Earth Megatron and his appearance will change later in the film. I certainly hope so.



Megatron, the coolest, baddest and best evil cartoon robot of all time.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Todays evil robot is...



The Cybermen

These tin-plated, Doctor-worrying, gold-avoiding menaces are one of Doctor Who's most persistent enemies, turning up again and again to meddle with the universe, terrorise people, harass the Doc and generally bugger things up for all and sundry. I love these guys, they're damn near perfect in the evil-robot stakes and, again, as a child I would've swapped my entire Star Wars figure collection (except for Boba Fett, Chewie and that bum-faced one of course) to be one.
The Cybermen are in actuality a cyborg race originating from Earth's twin planet Mondas (left that one of the Guardian's free 'Our Solar System' wall chart didn't they) who were originally humanoid but took to 'upgrading' themselves by adding mechanical parts in a quest to reach perfection. Part of this upgrade was to ditch emotions and become fault-free. They then set about spanning the universe smashing anyone who got in their way, conquering whole worlds and upgrading their inhabitants. They'd march around screaming, "Resistance is futile." (Sound familiar to you Trekkies out there?)



The design of the Cybermen has changed throughout the years from a kind of mummified man with an accordion on his chest through to blokes in silver jump-suits with bit's of hoover attached to the legs, the '80s saw the Cybermen involved in pure bacofoil silliness (but with a cool helmet) but thankfully the recent redesign made them more mechanical, imposing and terrifying than ever before. Throughout all these changes the scariest thing about a Cyberman to me as a kid was always the uniformity. They all looked, sounded and acted the same. Sure the Cyber-leader always stood out in some minor way by having a big, see-through head showing his brain or black tubes on his helmet but they were essentially all equal and they acted like one vast machine army.



During the run of the original show, the Cybermen were pretty much indestructible but for one weakness, gold. Yep, like me, they hated gold. It clogged up their airways you see and they couldn't breathe. This started out all fine and dandy as a quirky Achilles-heel but then the '80s came along and (as always happened in the '80s) everything went a bit shit. Suddenly the Cybermen were being killed off left, right and centre by gold-tipped arrows, guns that fired gold powder and even gold coins. The vicious, evil, mechanical crazy men of the universe were even defeated by a weedy-maths-boffin-child when he scratched his gold medal against one's chest. (He died himself though when the spacecraft he was on crashed so it's not all bad.) It took Russel T. Davies' new Doctor Who to redress the balance and get them back to their arse-kicking glory days. Gone was the silly gold allergy, gone were the hoover based outfits but the robotic, nightmarish, all alike, kill-happy, emotion-free, freaky voiced monsters were back and well and truly kicking bottom. This time they were back to their scary selves, terrifying Earth in a parallel universe and then later in our universe where they even got to square up against the Daleks.
Awesome.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Todays evil robot is...



The Terminator

Well, her certainly looks the most evil-roboty of all the evil robots so far doesn't he. He was a bit of a sod too when it came to butchering people. The Terminator is essentially a superior killing machine of great strength and durability encased in living flesh so that he can kill better. The resultant cyborg is sent back to the '80s by Skynet (a kind of man-made, computer, uber-intelligence that rules Earth in the future) to kill Sarah Connor who will eventually have a child that will lead the resistance to the machines back in the future. Still with me? Good, well hang on tight 'cos this is where it gets bumpy. Back in the future, John Connor (Sarah's son) learns that Arnie has been sent back to kill his mum before she has him and sends back a bloke to stop the Terminator. Now this bloke (Michael Biehn) is clearly not much of a match for the robot/Arnie death machine and he soon gets the chop but not before he's had a bit of nooky with Sarah Connor thus getting her preggers with the bloke who sends him back to protect her. Still there, well hold on...

Eventually Sarah traps Arnie and the film ends with the future looking rosy because her baby is fine and the Terminator got squashed flat. Or so it would seem...



In Terminator 2. Judgement Day it's revealed that Skynet (remember them) actually came about when the remains of the Terminator were found in the machine room where Sarah rather stupidly left him lying around for any well meaning but misguided, techno-genius to find. It also turns out that Skynet, knowing they'd failed, sent back the even more serious and fiersome T-1000 (who's a liquid metal terminator and can turn his arms into big, fuck-off knives and stuff) to do in John Connor in his bratty, American, teenage, motorcycle riding, parent-annoying years. John Connor in the future knows this however (by virtue of it being an historical fact to him) and sends back a second protector in the form of a captured and reprogrammed Arnie-style terminator. I don't know about you but just typing this load of old nonsense is doing my swede in.

Naturally old iron-balls Arnie wins and they manage to stop the creation of Skynet too which puts a smile on everyone's faces.

But hang on a minute. Who's that foxy, naked chick that's just materialised out of thin air in a ball of lightning and smoke? Why it's Terminator 3!



Now Skynet is clearly not a happpy puppy (computerised puppy) and he's knocked up this new experimental Terminator (the T-X to be precise) who can create proper weapons, like laser guns and flamethrowers, inside of herself and he's despatched her through time (must be choca-bloc in that ol' time macine room by now) to locate and kill John Connor, his future wife (who's now running about with him) and his lieutenants. But Arnie's back again to stop her. To add yet another wriggle to the crazy, melon-twisting plot Arnie has been sent back this time not by John, but by his wife! Arnie reveals this particular nugget of craziness to John Connor and then goes on to tell him that he was reprogrammed by his missus shortly after he himself killed Mr. Connor. It's all going to Hell in a handcart now isn't it.

In a rather melancholy end to the trilogy, John Connor is tricked by his bird's Dad (who's heading up the Skynet project) into trapping himself in a Cold War-era VIP fallout shelter called Crystal Peak, by making them believe that it is where the Skynet mainframe is located. The nukes fly and the trilogy ends with a glimmer of hope as John takes up the mantel of leader that destiny has marked for him.

Now, for anyone not in a coma, here's a little treat. It's the very first terminator as seen in T3. He's called the T1-8 and I kinda like him.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Todays bollux robot is...

He's a Star Wars droid and he's called BOLLUX!

Todays evil robot is...



RoboCop 2

When a deranged, junkie, gang-leader is killed in a shootout with the Police and RoboCop, the nefarious Omni Consumer Products (OCP) have his brain put inside their new prototype robot that they want to use to replace RoboCop. RoboCop2 was bigger, stronger and cooler than RoboCop, he had a huge fuck-off gun, big cutty-spikey hand things, a little grabby claw thing that he broke his bird's neck with, an adiction to drugs and a Jesus complex. This guy was B.A.D. He smashed up a scale model of the city (which must've taken some poor sod ages to build) and then went on a rampage blowing up all and sundry just to get to a canister of jelly (drugs apparently) whilst simultaneously kicking RoboCop six ways from Sunday when he got in the way.
RoboCop still beat him though. And ED-209 still looked cooler.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Todays evil robot is...



The torture droid 8D8 from Star Wars Episode 6: The Return of the Jedi

This guy isn't very nice at all. I mean he tortured that poor little box-robot thing. You know the one, he said 'Kronk'... something or other and was in Star Wars in the Jawa's sand-boat-tank-crawler thing. Well anyway, he tortured him by burning the soles of his feet with what looks like an oven grill after he'd spun him around for a while. You could here him screaming and begging for mercy and everything. I felt so sorry for the wee little robot, the way the hot element came down on his metal feet and... hang on... isn't he a robot?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Todays evil robot is...



The A.B.C Warrior from Judge Dredd the movie

Again technically not an 'evil' robot as he was merely a soldier robot created to serve in the army until Rico Dredd (who's Judge Dredd's evil twin with a slight beer-gut - though how your supposed to know this when he doesn't have the tell-tale goatee beard that all evil twins have I don't know) picks him up in Ian Drury's junk shop and activates him. It's pretty cool the way that the robot's pistons fire-up as he gradually starts to move, steam hissing out of his joints and eyes glowing. It's especially cool the way he asks for his status and then growls "WARRRR". Later in the film he machine guns a load of Judges in a street and tears the arms and legs off that bloke from 'Das Boot', Jurgen Prochnow. He got his cumupence though when the weedy comic-relief character pulled all the wires out of the back of his neck. (Out of the robot's neck, not the weedy comic bloke.) All in all, not a very nice 'bot. Though I love his lopsided jaw... kinda makes him look like he's chewing or maybe he's just had a stroke.

The A.B.C. Warriors first appeared in the U.K. comic 2000 A.D. and this particular bad-boy is a dead-ringer for the comic-strips lead character Hammerstein, (though this film version is missing his trademark hammer hand).

Monday, October 09, 2006

Todays evil robot is...



Ash

Ash (played by Ian Holm) was the science officer aboard the Nostromo in Ridley Scott's Alien and was indirectly responsible for the deaths of all the crew except for warrant officer Ellen Ripley. Ash begins the film as a quiet and mild-mannered man though Ripley has her suspicions about his true intentions. Suspicions that turn out to be well founded when it's revealed, in a very graphic and shocking way, that Ash is in fact an android and that he sweats milk.

Up until this point things had been pretty plain-sailing for this happy-go-lucky space misfits bunch. Believing that 'Mother' (the ships computer) had awoken them from their hypersleep to carry out a routine check of an unidentified signal apparently eminating from a vessel on the surface of a nearby planet, they toddle off all smiley and curious to check it out. Then - BAM - it all goes tits up. John Hurt gets a squiggley, clawy moster on his face that lays and egg in him. John bursts whilst at dinner and a penis with teeth pops out of him and scuttles off. Sweet. The titular alien grows bigger and nastier deep in the bowels of the ship until he gets hungry and starts wolfing down the crew in some of the most tense and scariest scenes ever commited to film. I used to have nightmares about being stuck in an airshaft with the damned thing like Dallas.

Whilst all of this is going on Ripley discovers that Weyland-Yutani Corporation (yet another nefarious, evil mega-company that always crop up in this type of film) knew about the possible danger and instructed Ash to bring the creature back to Earth no matter the cost. Special Order 937 instructed Ash that all the crew were expendable, from that point on everything he did he did to protect the alien organism. Now the crew have an alien, a missing cat and a dodgy robot to deal with. It never rains eh...

One of the finest scenes in the film comes when Ripley discovers what Ash is up to and Ash tries to do away with her by giving her a good slapping and then, in a very Freudian gesture, tries to kill her by forcing a rolled up magazine down her throat. Luckily Lambert & Parker (two other members of the crew, not a passing accountancy firm) are on hand to help and Parker knocks Ash's block off revealing that his innards are in fact full of mayonnaise, spaghetti and fishing floats. Human he 'aint.
Ash rolling around the room vomiting white fluid whilst 'spazzing-out' and attacking Ripley, Parker & Lambert is one hell of a gruesome scene and when they switch him back on to question him about the alien's possible weakness, his evilness and lack of consideration for the crew become apparent when he calmly says "I can't lie to you about your chances, but (smirking) you have my sympathies." Brilliant.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Todays evil robot is...



The Replicant Roy Batty from Bladerunner

In the gritty, neon-drenched, dirty, slightly knackered not-too-distant future vision of director Ridley Scott, Roy Batty was the leader of a group of Nexus-6 type replicants that escaped to Earth from the 'off-World colonies' to confront their creator Eldon Tyrell and force him to extend their lifespanbeyond the programmed 4 years. The replicants are artificial beings created to carry out dangerous or degrading work (one of the group is labeled a 'basic pleasure model') and their short lifespan is a failsafe against their developing unstable emotions.
You see replicants are illegal on Earth because of an earlier rebellion and so Bladerunners (part of a specialist Police unit) are used to track them down and 'retire' them. Harrison Ford is the Bladerunner Rick Deckard who's out to see off Roy and his gang. Bladerunner is truly a visually stunning film though it is a little 'weighty' and confused the Hell out of me the first time I saw it.

Rutger Hauer is perfectly cast here as Roy, I mean look at him - he's got the whole scary eye thousand-yard stare thing going on AND he's holding a dove (the symbol of peace) despite having just kicked the living-shit out of Mr. Ford. Despite being a crazy dude his plight is a very human one, he has four years of life and wants more, he has more to see, more to do who wouldn't want to live? His final words were so very moving, "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams, glitter in the dark near Tannhauser Gate. All those... moments will be lost... in time... like tears... in rain. Time... to die."

Bye Roy. I kinda liked you you crazy, cripple-killing, eye-ball playing, Head-squashing, Harrison-kicking madman you.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Todays evil robot is...



K.A.R.R. from Knight Rider.

K.A.R.R, or Knight Automated Roving Robot, was created by Knight Industries and was the prototype for Michael Knight's vehicle K.I.T.T. but when his CPU was installed a progamming error made him nasty and intent only on self-preservation. He appeared in just two Knight Rider shows, though I only remember one particular piece of one show when K.I.T.T. & K.A.R.R. had a game of 'chicken' on a bridge resulting in K.A.R.R. swerving off said bridge and generally knackering himself up so only his CPU voicebox-come-graphic equaliser doodah remained winking away at the end of the show. I seem to remember K.A.R.R. being exactly the same vehicle as K.I.T.T. but slightly shinier. He also had a more funky voice box and a deeper (and therefore 'eviler' voice) than K.I.T.T. which was voiced by the brilliant Peter Cullen who also voiced Optimus Prime.
Here's a sample of his voice.
There was also an evil truck called Goliath in Knight Rider driven by an evil David Hasselhoff (God, can anyone dare imagine such a thing?) but I can't remember if there was anything special or computery about Goliath.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Open the pod bay doors HAL

Just found this brilliant clip of HAL being stubborn and scary.

Todays evil robot is...



HAL 9000


HAL 9000 needs no introduction really but for those of you who aren't familiar with this little wonder he was the super computer aboard the Discovery One in Stanley Kubrik's masterwork 2001: A Space Odyssey. HAL was embued with human personality traits and a very soothing voice and for the most part was a kind of benign colleague of massive intelligence and friend to the other crewmembers Frank Poole & Dave Bowman. Unfortunately HAL wigs-out and starts bumping people off. What makes HAL's murderous streak so fascinating however is the fact that he's so lifeless in appearance (he's just a big red lens) yet his voice is so calm and soothing. HAL is so practical and methodical in his nastiness it's very disquieting. When he uses an empty EVA Pod to cut the oxygen tube on Frank Poole's spacesuit it's done in total silence and the image of Poole scrabbling around in desperation, trying to fix it before floating lifelessly off into space, has stayed with me ever since I first saw it.
Anyhow, Poole gone HAL now switches off the hibernation pods of the scientists on board and locks Dave Bowman out of the ship when he goes to retrieve Poole's body. Bowman forgot his helmet you see and therefore can't use the emergency airlock to get back in. Silly spaceman. He does get back in however by firing himself like a bullet into the airlock and bouncing around for a bit. After that he goes inside HAL to switch him off. Inside HAL is truly beautiful and one of the most memorable sets I've ever seen. He's all shiny and winkie-lighty inside and ickle Dave Bowman turns back and forth all floaty inside him buggering about with switches in a way that would definitely invalidate the warranty if it were my laptop for example. Apple 'aint gonna be taking HIM back now Dave that's for sure.
It's actually very moving as HAL 'dies' and reverts to his early programming singing Daisy Bell more and more slowly until. Pop. No more HAL. Bye HAL.

But wait a spacesuit popping, scientist killing, children's song singing minute, what's that coming over the horizon? Why it's that bloke from Jaws and Helen Mirren in 2010: Odyssey Two. There here to find out what happened to Dave Bowman & co. so they reboot HAL and it turns out HAL wasn't a naughty, naughty lens just a very confused one. You see his primary programming meant he had to divulge all important knowledge 'bout his mission to the crew but he'd been ordered to keep it quiet. This sent him into a bit of a lather and he'd reasoned (quite logically) that if there were no one to keep the secret from then everything would be alright. So he killed 'em. See, logical.

"I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that."

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Todays evil robot is...



Hector from Saturn 3

Kirk Douglas, Farrah Fawcett (why is she named after some trousers?) on a space-base with a dog. Harvey Keitel in a space suit and helmet straps himself into a chair and opens a big space ceiling thingie and a bloke gets sucked out into space where he explodes(?) upon hitting some bars. Harvey fancies Farrah. Kirk doesn't like Harvey. Harvey builds Hector. Hector is strange and has binoculars for eyes. Hector stamps on dog. Harvey puts his brain in Hector. Hector fancies Farrah. Everyone rushes about a bit. Farrah looks skinny (presumably 'cos of all the running). Kirk tries to destroy robot with his chisel-like chin. Blah, blah blah. Load of ol' rubbish. Good robot though.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Todays evil robot is...



Mark-13

This one is a little out of left-field I grant you as he's from a largely unseen British sci-fi/horror film called Hardware. Earth in the 21st Century is a desolate, pollution-choked, radioactive wasteland (isn't it always?) and a traveller with some kind of robot hand, finds some bits of old droid lying about the desert and take them home to his bird - as you do. (At this point I recall a cameo byLemmy from Motorhead as a river-cab driver, odd huh?) She's a sculptor you see and these bits o' dodgy looking robot (with a very scary head) would make a very nice ornament for the lounge wouldn't you agree? No, not really. They're all pointy and jagged and were clearly made to be up to no good not perching on a mantel piece. Anyhow missey the artist sets about painting the head, has a quickie in the shower with her fella and then pops off to bed while the obviously nasty robot sculpture sets about reconstructing itself utilising various household utensils. Surprise sur-bleedin-surprise.
It all gets nasty and MARK-13, as he's known, goes postal and it's original program activates. You see it's original job wasn't as a piece of crap artwork but a government built population control device designed to kill anything and anyone who gets in it's way. Nice. So, not being one to go against the grain, this is what it does. It chases the girl and butchers her pervy neighbour, then it does in her fella with the robot hand when he comes home. "Hi honey, I'm home. What's for NNNNNNNNNNNNYAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGHHH!" - Buzzzzzzzz, chop, kill, stab. Then it finishes someone off in a lift for good measure. Apart from that I can't really remember how it turned out. I'm pretty certain Jill (the sculptor) manages to escape but I've no recollection of how. All in all an odd film. Oh, and Iggy Pop was in it too apparently.