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March 2008
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May 2008


The sushi book in the background probably cost more than the MP3 player did...Think about it for a moment, and you'll realise that there's a subtext to my recent announcement regarding The Belated Birthday Girl spending three months in Japan to study the language: the two of us are currently having to spend a couple of months apart from each other. We're getting by, thanks to frequent use of Skype, but at the time of her departure it was a little bit tough on us both. The occasion called for a going-away present, and I knew I'd have to come up with something special.

I managed to do that and still get change from a tenner. That was the price of Asda's cheapest and nastiest 1GB MP3 player (coloured shocking pink, because if you're a female student in Japan you need to have pink things to carry around). But before I passed it on to her, I filled it up with thirty albums worth of Japanese pop music from my collection, so that she'd have another way of immersing herself in the language and culture.

Fancy doing that for yourself?

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Learning Japanese (I Think I'm Learning Japanese, I Really Think So)

Click the clockWhen I first told The Belated Birthday Girl that I was going to do this, she looked at me like I had the word 'twat' tattooed on my forehead. Or, worse still, 'blogger'...

- opening paragraph from Mission Statement: or, Burning The Hole In The Ozone Layer Of The Blogosphere, posted 14/07/2006

And now, nearly two years after that was written, The BBG has become a blogger herself. Oh, how are the sexy fallen.

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Our Friends In The North

'What fettle, bonny lad?' Andrew French (Joseph) and Craig Conway (Geordie) in the Northern Stage production Our Friends In Shit Wigs, we used to call it in the office. But affectionately, you understand. Because Our Friends In The North was one of those TV serials that inspired a great deal of affection when it appeared on BBC2 in 1995. For me, personally, it was thrilling to see a chronicle of British political and social life that almost perfectly spanned the 30-odd years I'd been on the planet. Hugely engaging, with a cast that included one future Doctor Who and one future James Bond, it was television of a scale and ambition few of us had ever seen before: and we were prepared to let a few dodgy bits of ageing makeup go by, simply because the rest of it was so powerful.

It wasn't until the belated release of the DVD a decade or so later that I found out an astonishing thing: it was adapted from a stage play. A play which was just as ambitious in its scope, to the extent that after the initial 1982 Royal Shakespeare Company production, nobody had dared to try and restage it. Until now, that is.

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THEY JUST FUCKED WITH THE WRONG MEXICAN!We've been through this a couple of times before already, but here we go again. Almost exactly a year ago, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez released a three-hour film called Grindhouse, a fake double feature intended to celebrate the good old days of exploitation cinema. Its opening weekend in the US was catastrophically poor, and plans for its international distribution were scrapped almost immediately afterwards. For a while, it looked like the only way you'd be able to see the film in the UK would be via dodgy torrents filmed off the screen during that opening weekend, such as the Dutch-subtitled fuzzball shown here.

Some time later, Grindhouse got a UK release of sorts in extended versions of its two constituent parts: Tarantino's Death Proof and Rodriguez's Planet Terror. And, truth be told, neither of those set the box office on fire either. The chances of seeing the movie in its original, unbifurcated form seemed to me to have vanished to zero.

But I'm now happy to report that I was wrong.

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Simian Substitute Site for April 2008: La Tanière Désagréable De Fessée Le Singe

La Tanière Désagréable De Fessée Le SingeOkay, I'll admit March was a little light in terms of new material. (Mind you, I'm quite pleased with myself about the huge number of video links I managed to cram into the British Animation Awards piece.) April should be a bit more active, anyway. There are at least three things I did just in the last weekend that I'm planning to write about, so look out for updates in the Movies, Theatre and Travel sections accordingly. Plus a heads-up regarding the latest in cult television, and possibly a few other items as well. Most important of all: no reposts.

Except for, er, this one.

Continue reading "Simian Substitute Site for April 2008: La Tanière Désagréable De Fessée Le Singe" »