Welcome, feel free to sit up straight and listen

This is a blog which aims to finally put everything in its place. For too long have the more trivial and mundane aspects, products and people who infiltrate our lives gone un-critiqued. The same can unfortunately be said for the majestic, awe-inspiring creations and natural wonders of this universe of which we may feel too small and insignificant to pass judgement upon. This is where the uncertainty ends my friends. Henceforth, everything shall be reviewed in the same manner with which everything else is treated.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Test 2

Second test integrating google+. Again, comments on reception duly noted/desired!


This is a test. Edar is coming back. If you receive knowledge of this via google or other means please let me know in the comments below. Thanks.

Friday, 26 October 2012


Hello dear reader. It pains me to break from the norm of this site but I feel a need to address you formally as the loyal, consistent members of 'edardaily' that you have been. You may have noticed a change in this site's policies as of late, one that stems towards everything my original aim directed against. For those of you new to my humble area of the internet, 'Edar' was set up as a way of backlashing against the typical review structure of our modern periodicals, to give credence and substance to the life which is exerted in everything around us, not just the typical forms of media. In that way I thought it best to give to you tongue-in-cheek situational reviews of the most mundane aspects of the World I perceived around me. Recently, these have devolved into my giving over to members of the Horse-Twattersley family members' theatrical reviews which have become nothing more than ridiculously immoral and peverse characterised satirisations of the English upper classes. 

Well, I can't do it anymore. I need to claw this blog back from the dark depths it has been dragged to, these preposterous facsimiles of human subject must be reigned in to regain me some level of resp...hnnnngkkkurrrgh.....skkkrrruuuughhhnkk...Neiighhhhhh..skkkrrruuueeergghh...familiarity with my own, wait....what? What the sh...skkkrruuuggg....Brrrrggghhhh.....Hello reader! Welcome to 'Quills'. A play written about the Marquis De Sade, Produced by Stoke Newington's very own Second Skin Theatre. The owner of this blog doesn't know it yet, but I, Night's Rapture, am pleased to present to you my very own review , one that aims to finally set to rest...noooo, no please, I look ridiculous enough already, please, I can't have a horse doing a review. They don't even make keyboards big enough to accommodate hooves. This is just ridicu...Brrrrgghhhhgh...I think you'll find, Mr Reviewer, that I was personally invited along to give my esteemed opinion on this production, and I shall not be swayed on this. My relationship with Lady Cytherea Horse-Twattersly has been the subject of much conversation these past few months, and I must be allowed my voice. Dearest reader, enjoy!

Night's Rapture, in his glory days.
It's not easy being a horse. Oh my God, that is the singularly worst start to a review ever...Ahem, as I said, it isn't easy being a horse. For all our brute strength, speed and tenacity of spirit, we have allowed you humans to enslave us as tools of your own progression. In the past we towed your farming equipment and conquered the Wild West for your personal gains, now we jump over little hedges, chase down foxes and prance about like little ninnies for your entertainment. We've shaped the modern World as you know it from Mongolia to Montreal and how do you repay us? Bales of hay and the odd sugar-lump here and there. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but that's not entirely fair is it? You refer to dogs as 'Man's best friend', but what have they ever actually done for you? Those yappy little bastards get all the credit for...right, a whole paragraph and you haven't mentioned the play once...I'm getting round to that. Hold your horses mate. Heh heh heh.

So it was with great pleasure that I received my invitation to The White Rabbit's basement production of Second Skin Theatre's 'Quills' on that drizzly October night in Stoke Newington's famous Church Street. I trotted down the steps and settled myself into one of the the cosily positioned pews almost within the stage. This wasn't the first play I had attended, in my mortal life  Lady Cytherea had dragged me along to various Women's Institute performances of Anne Yearsley and Adrienne Kennedy productions in spacious yet for the most part empty Church halls. For the first time I realised the ability of Fringe theatre to accommodate the smallest area into a thriving venue, contorting the restrictions of space into an intimate evening wherein the audience feels more a part of the action than ever. Also, the fact that it's been nearly two decades since my death means I possess no earthly body and was able to float ephemerally above the other audience members, causing no actual discomfort to myself or others around me.

As the lights rose the stage was revealed and it has to be said, the limitations of space did nothing to sway the stage design's ability to place the audience within the office of the head of the Chanterem Asylum as he discusses with the Marquis de Sade's wife the suggestion of silencing his blasphemous works to retain her own honour. On a personal level, the actress playing the part of the wife gave one of the most stellar performances I have ever seen, perfectly representing in the most humourus way these ladies of supposed high-class who would so shamelessly use her own husband's wealth to protect their image. Oh, Lady Cytherea, I could almost envisage your own twisted features on that actresses head; utilising your womanly wiles to contort and betray the ugly truth of what lay beneath your own reserved and haughty exterior. But, in the immortal words of her own son and heir, Terrence, I digress.

This totally doesn't even happen in the play
The performances of the entire cast continued in an equally memorable and wonderful fashion, but especially prominent was that of  the actor playing the Marquis de Sade. With all the passion and natural exuberance of a roaring steed he burst onto the stage and so began the play's diatribe to the injustice and torment suffered by the protagonists real life counterpart. But not only was his performance so well devised, due in no small part to the writing and direction of the production, because of its pertinence to the real life story of the Marquis de Sade, but also for the memories it invoked within my ethereal being. Now, reader, I must confess two things to your good selves. Firstly, my life was one of torment almost tantamount to that of this play's hero. My true desires, as to those of the Marquis' with that of the seductress maid played by the fantastic 'Nika Khitrova', were usurped and denied by a bitter, twisted old hag such as the Marquis' wife. Secondly, Lady Cytherea Horse-Twattersley is a lying, deceitful, selfish, murderous whore of a...this had better not be going where I think it's going. Please, my mum reads this stuff...Silence! I will have my say.

For you must understand, dear reader, that for all the sordid although ultimately reticent deeds I was forced to perform with that old hag, it was my only wish that it was the man of the house, Sergeant Edmund, who showed me such tenderness. Witnessing that actor's fully fronted nakedness brought back such wondrous images of lonely nights, grazing the Twattersly ground's pastures and casting my fleeting glimpses towards the manor windows, where he would be stood at the window of their bedroom, resplendent in all his glory. If you could only understand the pain and longing that pervaded the days at the stables with her, stroking my mane and playing with my fetlocks as I wished her husband would do. The final insult, when I thought my eventual death could finally lead me to rest, was her last unscrupulous deed. She cut off my horsehood and kept it safe in a jar on her own private mantle piece, using it to her own terrible deeds and entrenching me within this infinite hell.

If I put a Jimmy Saville joke in  here it would
be obsolete in a few weeks, so I won't.
Her actions kept my spirit in this World, bound to the jar of formaldehyde that held my prominent prowess, I was forced to watch the lives of the Twattersly's evolve and continue. Oh how I sobbed as I saw her convince that poor man his yearly offerings to her were enough to produce a son as perfect and brilliant as Terrence , how I wept as I saw her conspire to protect her own falsehood as she sent Terrence away to that asylum for witnessing her facetious and blasphemous acts upon my own member. Terrence, my son, how I regret being just a dead horse and not being able to reveal to you your true father, or my love for the one that Lady Cytherea convinced was your own. How I...Right. That's it. Thats enough. I am not having this shit anymore. You are not telling me that a human being can be produced through a woman copulating with a horse. No fucking way. If you want to see the kind of play that invokes these sorts of mental images, do it, it's showing at the White Rabbit bar in Stoke Newington Church Street from now until the 4th of November, shows begin at 19:30. Otherwise watch the fucking X Factor or some bollocks like that.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

4:48 Psychosis (Guest Review)

As is tradition here at edardaily, I've gone and got another guest reviewer for today's new theatre write-up. And who better to explore Crooked Piece's production of 4:48 Psychosis than son and heir to the Twattersly throne, released for one day only from St Andrews Mental Asylum, The Right Honourable Terrence Twattersly. It took a ton of bribery, extortion and hired goons to convince the administration to let him out for this, so you'd better like it. Enjoy!

'Neuron' to a winner with this design guys
Hello. They said I could come out today if I promised to be good. Mum and Dad  asked the wardens if it would be ok for me to come review a play for their friends blog. The wardens didn't like it at first. Warden Graham especially felt I didn't deserve this because of what I done to his testicles two weeks ago. He said I was still too much of a danger to the general public. Their lobbying meant nothing in the end though, the administrative staff said it would be good for me to experience modern culture after all these years of years of solitary incarceration. There was a distinctly tangible note of duress however, one that I couldn't help but feel showed a humanist aspect to their otherwise conservatively by-the-book approach to my personal torture. They locked me up, you see, the FUCKING lot of them, they locked me up because of what I saw. They subjected me to - sorry. The review. We, you, me, I, I must review. 

So the van pulls up after a long journey outside this beautifully decadent pub/theatre in South Kensington. The fading evening sunlight nearly blinded me as the wardens pulled open the van doors and dragged me out. My eyes hadn't been subjected to natural light for longer than I can try to remember, but I could still make out the happy, normal people stood out the front, smoking, drinking and staring worriedly at me, this straight-jacketed, lank haired mental patient surrounded by clinical wardens and doctors ready with coshes and ketamine filled syringes designed to knock me out should I make one false move. I was led through the bar area and taken upstairs to the theatre space, forced into a back row seat so as not to disturb the other press members and manacled to the bars riveted behind me. As was au fait with every other press member in attendance I was offered a free glass of Pimms and lemonade, one which I readily accepted and had Graham pour into my mouth as and when I felt like it, fruit and all. 

The auditorium lights faded and the minimal set was revealed by bare bulbs hanging over a stage decorated with three stacks of boxes and a lady stood on centre stage. Due to the supposed nature of my incarceration every doctor, nurse, warden and administrative staff I had come into contact for the past quarter century had been male and this was my first time seeing a female since not long after my puberty had begun. As she began monologuing several more ladies and one gent burst from the boxes to provide further narration to her internal diatribe. I was reminded of my fourth year of solitary confinement in St Andrews, when the voices started, when the past, present, alternative and future versions of myself began whispering into my ears. Their was a kinship felt at that moment, one which my fading memories of childhood visits to major productions in the West End could never hope to recreate, one that touched me deep within my internal psyche and awoke the Terrance that had once been. Here was a competent array of actors who were able to express the workings of the mind which mainstream theatre dares not to tread. The supposed thoughts and feelings which make us human yet which must be quashed and silenced by your rotting World were laid bare for the tiny closed minds of South Kensington. I knew what knew what must be done, but onwards with the play.

The resemblance to childhood sweets
is almost uncanny
A common misjudgement within the outside World is that places such as St Andrews operate on a therapeutic, reformative approach to rehabilitating patients as propagated in your major Hollywood films. The actual truth could be nothing further from this, we live in a confinement warehouse fed on a diet of drugs and belittlement. This production of 4:48 Psychosis truly managed to get this unfortunate truth across through not only clever set design which lighted the numerous amount of medicinal bottles surrounding the protagonist at appropriate times but the interaction between doctor and patient. I was reminded again of my own specialists who feed me a regular diet of all sorts of medications washed down with a liquid supplement of natural proteins who couldn't be further away from the actual requirements my disintegrating brain needs. This was mirrored almost perfectly by the therapists portrayed on stage, who seemed more concerned with the female protagonists realignment of character through medicinal intake than getting to the root cause of her mental state, a residual problem within not only my personal experiences of St Andrews but I'm sure throughout the psycho-analytical field.

The interesting and almost unique aspect of a play such as this is that without a clearly defined narrative structure, with no austere antagonist, story arc or even placement of time or causality the audience is given, even required, space to really analyse how the the production reflects on their own experiences. In the absence of what we normally expect from a story, we are left with filling in the gaps with our own interpretations. I cannot begin to express what lurking horrific memories this ignited within me. Believe this, they almost won. They were so close to convincing me I was wrong and the lies they fed me since the original incident were true. I entered 4:48 Psychosis an almost broken man. The years of solitary confinement, the constant mental and physical abuse from the staff, the scattered diet of downers and protein supplements had begun to take their toll and I was ready to accept I was in the wrong, just to be released from this living nightmare. 

It was a clear, autumnal afternoon, back in the old family estate, almost 20 years ago now. I'd returned from prep school early, a fellow student had started a fire in the chemistry lab as a prank with the old bunsen burner sets. The gas had pulled back in unexpectedly and caused an explosion, meaning we were to all be evacuated. With no one else being contactable at home our chauffeur was asked to collect me and take me back home. Havig dropped me off he went to park the old Bentley in the garage, whilst I entered to explain to my mother my mother what had happened. She was in the drawing room, a place me and my father were told to never enter and usually obeyed due to her formidable nature. I walked in because I felt it necessary to explain my early return from school, and witnessed what no child ever wants to see their own mother doing. There was an open jar on her wooden desk filled with some kind of viscous liquid, and she was performing some unspeakable acts to the contents within. Upon noticing myself she turned and viciously screamed for me to leave, shouting that I should never have entered. Nobody, not even my own father believed my story afterwards. She denied it to the last of course. My final memory of that house was being strapped up and taken to St Andrews because of the supposed lies I tried to explain to him, and of my mother's final fleeting glance to me through the barred windows of the van. A mixture of remorse, guilt and relief, as her own son was taken away to hide her disgusting secret.

Terrence Twattersley
If I told you the full story of what happened to me in the years following in that damned asylum you wouldn't believe me, as much as every therapist refused to believe my own story. How pathetic, how weak willed of my own father to pay these people to hide me and the shameful truths I possessed about mother. They told me I was schizophrenic, that I suffered from acute Oedipal fantasies and was an embarrassment to the good name Twattersley. And it had almost worked dear reader, they were so close to breaking me and getting me to confess to my sinful lies I almost believed their lies. Nietzsche's famous line of staring into the abyss and the abyss staring back? True to a point. What he failed to expand on was the horrifying extent to which the abyss stares back at everyone you've ever known, how it's empty void infiltrates their minds as well. It was only having witnessed the female lead's struggle in this play against her own internal doubts and the institutional degradation of the spirit that I was reminded of my past inner strength and was able to formulate my escape.

Once the play had ended and I was being escorted back to the van, I put my plan into action. As Graham turned me round to place me inside I spat the concealed lemon pips from the Pimms I had been given earlier straight into his eye. In the ensuing panic this created I was able to slide the saved cucumber rinds from under my tongue and use them as makeshift lockpicks on my handcuffs, years of rolling on the floor of my padded cell had given my body the extra suppleness to complete this task. They came at me with everything, but I was ready for them. As I tore apart my straightjacket I grabbed  at a handful of promotional flyers one of the other wardens was holding and executed two perfectly timed paper cuts to the faces of the other oncoming nurses. As the flailed back in shock and pain I made good my escape through South Kensington, over the spiked fences of several inner city mansions and off into the vast expanse of London.

Freedom, finally I taste her nourishing flavour. Dear reader, words fail me as to the bounteous beauty of what it means to finally be freed from that terrible torment. I've travelled far now, although I know they search for me. Don't worry, I've found a safe place. It's warm here, nicely furnished. There's an inhabitant, sat in front of their computer, reading a review in the pale glow of their screen. Ignore that flicker in the reflection of your monitor, it's nothing. No, please, don't...turn...around...

Thanks Terrence for that lovely review, we hope to hear from you again soon. If you too would like to awake the twisted repressed memories in your internal psyche, Crooked Pieces production of 4:48 Psychosis is showing at the Drayton Arms Theatre in South Kensington until the 29th September 2012, 8-10pm, tickets £7-10 and available from box office number 0844 8700 887

Saturday, 19 May 2012

I Have No Timeline And I Must Scream

Grr! Zack meet rub.
Facebook. We all have it. If we don't we're living under some clandestine rock as a societal pariah or we're my mum. But we're neither of those; we are the living, breathing, active members of a race that thrives on societal interactions. Every event that happens in our lives is now glorified on our walls, if it isn't it almost seems like it never happened. We have entered a new realm, one that needs to be documented and contrived to present a picture to our friends and family of our relationship status, our job title and our most base desires and preferences revolving around films, television and music. For years we were indoctrinated into presenting ourselves in a certain way to the World, one that felt safe and unintrusive. We could cocoon ourselves within this presentation and never physically speak about our online personas whilst always knowing that those we were closest to had at some point viewed the shared experiences and knowledge we had gained through status updates, video links and profound quotations hastily searched on brainyquote.com.

On Thursday October 6 2011, Facebook evolved. It was no longer a tool we humans used to interact with each other. Sentience had begun to formulate itself within the combined consciousness of more than two billion online subscribers. Without warning a new era unfolded amongst the social media generation, one that demanded placement of time, causality and predication. A timeline appeared, splitting the walls of many of these personas apart and breaking them up into well versed topics of activity, friends and utilisation. We were given the illusion of choice; stick within the confinements of our known boundaries or join the new age of Timeline, one that promised a new way of proffering our fleeting glimpses of reality to our nearest and dearest. This new Book gained preference by appeasing to our vanity. We were no longer only able to portray our most treasured photo to the masses, we were allowed to present a cover. This cover was at least six time the size of our previous instalment, it was presented in glorious widescreen Technicolor, it was possible to drag and fix to the utmost specifications of the user and those long forgotten holiday snaps of beaches and temples were finally given a usage. 

Who doesn't sit at their computer naked?
Those that chose to remain luddites of the previous Facebook era were shunned by the purveyors of the glossy new hierarchy of the Timeline feature. The tentacles of Artificial Intelligence had spread across most peoples sinewy jaws and cemented them shut in an attempt to suture Facebook's new law, that everyone and everything should be placed within an implementation of time and space; the Greatest Event ever Told. Those content to thrive in the new Facebook domain of popular culture looked down on the old ones, silent in their physical dominion but omnipresent in their internet sub-culture. And thus was the law of the new Facebook: Divide and Conquer. We remained as long as humanly possible, clinging onto our singular walls and accessible information, defiant in our last stand against the tides of change as palm trees buffeted by the storms of a tropical monsoon. One by one we fell as Facebook's determination strode on, sweeping us up in a torrent of inevitable newspaper articles and pertinent videos that required submission by viewing. 

Gone. Are we truly gone? The wind that passes over our tired husks breathes the hope of a new generation. Those of us that have switched to the new regime have no mirror, no opportunity to return to the solace of our previous virtual lives. Even this reviewer, in a semblance of martyrdom, has switched to the brutal tyranny of Timelime's monotheism to create this piece as a warning to those remaining few. But there is hope in those that have stayed true to the old ways. They that still uphold the values and meaningfulness of the neo-socialist movement of the pre-Timeline era remind of those simpler times. And hey, Maybe Mark Zuckerberg and his army of marketing executive goonies will realise that this time they really fucked up. Or we'll get used to it, like we always do.

Timeline gets a 3 out of 10 because I kind of really like the ability to make Dr. Rowan "Flinty Badman" Williams the Archbishop of Canterbury's face massive now, something which will become very useful in the upcoming months. You have been warned.

Friday, 10 February 2012

La Chunga

Thanks to the huge popularity of Sergeant Edmond Horse-Twattersley's guest review on the Edgar Allen Poe stage play I am delighted to welcome to the pages of this blog his charming and noble wife, Lady Cytherea Horse-Twattersly. She specially requested being allowed to review a play from the same theatre group and I have to admit it was pretty hard to say no. She was, let's say, very forceful in her persuasions. Bon appetite ladies and gentlemen.

Lady Cytherea Horse-Twattersly
It is often stated that the foibles of men are relinquished through the generous and kind-hearted nature of the fairer sex. Utter tosh of course. Having been wedded to my pitiful excuse of a husband for almost thirty years now I have learnt that kindness and generosity have done nothing to quell the tenacity and ferocity of his spirit. Instead, one must learn to treat ones husband as a form of pet, or to a lesser extent, one of the servant class. These simple beings understand only one language, and that is the language of strict discipline. A short, sharp thwack with a cold tablespoon did wonders for my Edmond when he used to get frisky, promiscuous thoughts after watching 'Eurotrash' on a Thursday night.

Men are nothing more than beasts driven only by the desires of their throbbing members. It is our duty to remind them of their places in this World, to utilise their brute forces to create and provide for us a comfortable standard of living. I must say I read my husband's review of the previous production with great amusement. To hear poor, deluded Edmond so worked up and overwrought by a mere stage show, he certainly was the laughing stock of the Thursday night bridge 'n' bitch meeting when I showed it to the other ladies. From the moment he blustered into the house that night in November, red-faced and panting at what he had witnessed, I knew I had to see first hand the troupe who could so easily reduce my husband to a gibbering wreck.

So it came to be I reserved myself a seat for the Wednesday showing of La Chunga at the Phoenix Artists Club in Leicester Square. A squalid little bar cum impromptu theatre space and a well known haunt for the technical oiks of the theatre district, it had all the charm and rustic appeal of a Devonshire Bordello. I ordered myself a vermouth and bitter lemon with extra slice from the bar and was promptly ushered next door into the stage area. Some effort had gone into the design of that room I must say, with it's torn bamboo rugs hanging from the walls and assorted South American decorations it certainly resembled my great-niece's holiday photos of her travels in Central America last Spring, minus the various scenes of topless debauchery, I hasten to add.

This is where a fart joke would go if I was so purile.
Which I'm not.
And thus, seated between some brutish Italians, I settled into my chair and prepared myself for the imminent show by draining the last of my vermouth. The lights dimmed, the music rose and the liquor flooded my brain with it's warming sensuality as I witnessed my first vision of the evening in the shape of the comely actress playing the titular Chunga. As she strode onto the stage masterfully portraying the embittered bar owner, memories of The Buckinghamshire Little Ladies Equestrian Training Acadamy came flooding back. There was something almost tangible about her purposeful stride, that long flowing mane, the husky purr of her voice and that strong, prominent upper jaw which instantly reminded me of my first riding mistress, Ms. Regina Higgenbottom. She, that powerfully handsome woman, first taught me the forbidden pleasures of the love that dare not speak its name.

However, I digress. Next onto the stage came the four men who played the gambling reprobates of Chunga's bar. Typical of men, their conversation revolved around bawdy subjects shouted at each other over a table of alcohol and dice. It put me in mind of the time I accompanied Edmond to The Bullingdon Club for one of his Oxford graduate reunions. Much like walking a dog on Hampstead Heath, one has to let one's man off the lead every now and then to allow him some sense of empowerment, so that he is even more malleable and willing to obey when one calls him back. I watched with some amusement as these men talked themselves up in front of each other, only to be crushed by Chunga's icily sardonic reproaches. 

It was then that they began singing a rousing chorus with the attempt to glorify their stations and the second vision began. No sooner had the first line been uttered, "We are the Superstuds, we don't wanna work..." that I closed my eyes and allowed sweet nostalgia to again permeate my senses. With that one word, 'Superstuds' echoing around my mind I was transported back to the rolling hills of my formative years. It was Autumn, on a mist-laden field in the Cotswalds where Ms. Higgenbottom had insisted I came accompanied by my beloved stud-colt 'Night's Rapture'. It was her that first taught me how to fully appreciate the magnificent strength of this wonderful beast. The feel of his locks between my hands, the gentle buck of his haunches as we cleared fence after fence together and the sweet scent of straw as we would lay together in the stables for hours on end all returned in a maelstrom of synaethsesia as I remembered the nickname I had given him, my own 'Superstud'.

Horse-Twattersly by name, Horse-Twattersly
by nature. Wait...what?
Again, I digress. Following a short interval where I ordered several more vermouths, it was time for act two. Returning to my seat I resolved to put those torrid thoughts away from my mind and try and concentrate on the play. I was able to hold back those desires which my own father had spent many years exorcising from my soul for a short while as the fantastical imagined scenes of what became of the beautiful Meche unfolded, until one of the men alluded to cutting the genitals off another. Oh glorious Rapture, taken from me too young because daddy found out about our sinful trysts, buried and left to rot in the family cemetery. How glad I was father never knew about the night before his burial, where I happened upon a large jar of formaldehyde from the local chemists and snuck down in the middle of the night, armed with the kitchen maid's bacon scissors to relieve the poor beast of his most precious endowment.

That crowning glory holds a special place in my private quarters, amongst my other most precious jewels and trinkets, where not even my personal maid-servant may enter. Though the rest of them have gathered an exorbitant amount of dust over the decades, that particular jar has remained as clean as a whistle. I would like to extend my thanks and gratitude to the entire Second Skin Theatre crew for showing me that my natural love for such wild and untamed beasts is not as sacrilegious as the rest of the family would have me believe. At least, that's what I took from it anyway.

Thank you Lady Cytherea, we look forward to hearing more theatre reviews from you and your family soon. If you would like to see La Chunga for yourself, it's playing at the Phoenix Artist Club, 1 Phoenix Street off Charing Cross Road, near Leicester Square. January 24th to February 19th, 2012. Tuesday to Thursday evenings at 7:30pm and Sunday matinees at 3pm. Tickets £12.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Poe: Macabre Resurrections in 3D

Quoth the raven, "Get me a better resolution image"
It's not very often often I go to the cinema these days. The thought of spending so much money to drag myself from my comfort zone and sit in the same room as those I spend my life avoiding seems contentious at best, and is one I often allow to rest somewhere between my opinion on the latest football results and whether or not brussels sprouts actually come from Brussels. Although I would never willingly admit to downloading or streaming pirated copies of films on the internet, suffice to say between the possibility of such an occurrence and the existence of Kermode and Mayo's Friday film review (which everybody should listen to, if not just to casually eavesdrop on two married men flirting outrageously with each other) I find myself happy to peruse the latest films from the comfort of my home computer. However, there comes a point when one feels they should at least give the arts a sporting chance on their home territory, especially if one is offered a free ticket to such an event. Well, it would be rude not to wouldn't it?

And so it was I found myself venturing out of my house last Friday to St Mary's Church in Stoke Newington and let me tell you, deep into the darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing; "Jesus Christ it's freezing out here, I hope they've got some fucking heaters in there." Now I don't know about you lot, but last time I went to a cinema it was a nice, warm, welcoming building. There was neon lights out the front with big letters reminding me what I was going in to see and the smell of hot buttery popcorn floated from the inside charioted by the winged angels of overpriced hotdogs. For those of you expecting the same treatment, I can only say, don't bother. In a bizarre twist of seasonal brodcasting this screening is only being shown in a rundown old church in the middle of November. Luckily, they have a bar inside where esteemed reviewers such as myself are handed out stomach-warming glasses of plonk and ale for free, although I do believe the plebs are expected to pay a cursory amount.

3D makes everything better
First impressions on entering the church ranged from mild discomfort at the prospect of sitting on a wooden pew for the entirety of the showing to confused bewilderment at the lack of a screen on which I  have come to expect films to be projected onto. How surprised I was then when the show started to actually see a man characterising a priest beginning the show. Of course, I realised, this must be that new-fangled 3D technology I have heard so much about, although I was sure one required special glasses for the effect to work. How times must have changed! It was almost as if the actor were physically there on stage, so real did he seem. The screen must have been some specially woven poly-fibres undetectable by the human eye covering the entirety of the space I was sat in, for I almost believed this same man walked right down the aisle past me on more than one occasion.

And thus the show began. What a shock I received when from the dark pulpit emerged a bald vulture like figure interrupting the priest's speech to recite one of my favourite of Poe's works, The Raven, perfectly represented in the true Edgar Allen Poe style. This, unfortunately, was the high point of the evenings proceedings. From there, it descended into a modern reworking of the Cask of Amontillado, where I was actually expected to rise from my seat and follow the screen around to the entrance. Now, I may be regarded as an old fuddy duddy by some of you younger readers, but I believe that if I am expected to pay to enter a premises to watch a film (which, incidentally, I didn't) I should not have to suffer the indignity of having to get off my arse and actively partake in the viewing. Although the more 'hip' individuals with which I was having to find myself in close proximity to seemed to find this a novel and exciting interactive experience I most certainly did not. I didn't share the damp and cold trenches of Versailles fighting off those damn Krauts to be shepherded around like common cattle in a place of entertainment 60 years later.

Sergeant Edmund Horse-Twattersly
The final blow for me was the 're-imagining' of The Pit And The Pendulum. The bare-faced cheek of that young upstart of a director to allow some young ruffian to destroy Poe's masterpiece was more than I could take, and by golly did I let my feelings be known. I stormed past the audience and loudly muttered "I didn't come here to watch some filthy Arab ruin my hero's work", at the top of my lungs, which admittedly was no more than a hoarse mutter after years of shouting my overblown opinions at the crass commercialised rubbish that passes for television these days. Hah! Modern masterpiece my left foot. Let me tell you I stormed straight home and wrote a strongly worded letter of reproach to the Daily Mail.

Editors Note: The feelings and words expressed above are not those of mine. They are of the right honourable local Tory councillor Sergeant Edmund Horse-Twattersly who heard of my blog and asked me if I would allow him to write a piece on it. I was at the exact same show he was and had a great time; superb acting all round, brilliant writing and incredibly innovative uses of space came together to provide a perfect night of entertainment. 
If you want to see the show for yourself, tickets are available at www.churchstreettheatre.com and showings are Tuesdays - Sundays, 8pm till later, St. Mary's Old Church, Church St. Stoke Newington N16 9ES

Friday, 11 February 2011

Davina Fit

"Will pose as teapot for money"
Hey fatty. Is it becoming a struggle to lift yourself off the sofa? Are children starting to point and laugh at you in the street? Has your gym membership got lost in the rolls of your belly flab? It's OK, I don't blame you because I understand it's not entirely your fault. Modern living has made you lazy; your television keeps you entertained whilst you force factory bred chicken wings down your bloated throat with podgy, grease-smeared fingers that you don't even have to leave the house for because someone gets paid less than minimum wage to deliver it straight to your door. You have everything you need right where you are, technological advancements at affordable prices have made it possible for anyone and everyone to enjoy the sedentary lifestyle which was once the sole luxury of the Royalty. Luckily for you, someone out there cares. Not just one person either, a veritable army of celebrities have rallied up in droves, abandoning their jungle camps and glittery ice skating tournaments to help you; Fatty McFattson, sort your life out via the visual medium of Celebrity Fitness Workout DVDs. It's time to dust off those jogging bottoms, crack out the rice cakes and warm ourselves up for an in-depth analysis of THE Super Celebrity Fitness Workout DVD of 2010: Davina Fit.

The box art is fairly self explanatory; there's Davina McCall, the ex-Big Brother presenter and inexplicably popular loudmouthed British household name, dressed in sporty gear and leaning against what appears to be some white structure, probably the pyramid of cocaine she bought from her last DVD sales. She's got the kind of body that you only get from having a personal trainer, following a strict dietary routine and access to all sorts of fancy gym equipment, but don't let that put you off buying the DVD, because it's Davina, the voice of the people and if she deserves to look that good then so do you girlfriend. Let's pop this sucker in and see what all the fuss is about.

She's in yellow, in case you forget who the queen bee is
Yeah! Title menu's! I always judge a good DVD by it's ability to have title menu's. And where is it more important to have title menu's than on a Super Celebrity Heavyweight Fitness Workout DVD?  OK, let's start with 'Introduction'. There's Davina, looking nice and toned and the camera's zooming towards here and she's saying stuff but I can't concentrate because it's all happening so fast and now she's gurning and what was that I don't even but it's OK because that's over now and we're moving onto the next topic and she's predictably fluffed her lines but she's carrying on because she's a professional and where the hell is the fitness this is just like some presenter trying out her half-assed comedy routine but no she's clapping her hands so it must be business time oh yeah quick transition of fitness montages and straight back to Davina for more gurning and predictable line fluffing and now it's over but wait did I learn anything it's not important because Davina McCall spoke personally to me. Well, I imagined 'Introduction' would be a basic rundown of some warm-ups and stretching exercises, but instead it's a rather bizarre story from Davina about how much she loves exercising. Now Davina, I have no problem with people being passionate about their work, but that's twenty minutes you just spent talking about it, by which time your audience have sat down and started stuffing themselves stupid with the nearest fatty food they can lay their hands on to quell the maddening disappointment at never  being able to be as enthusiastic about loving their own children as you are about keeping fit.

The next title selection is of the four 30 minute workouts; 'Aerobic Fit', 'Top Fit', 'Bottom Fit' and 'Kick Fit' and the bonus 'Yoga Stretch'. I went straight for 'Top Fit' because it sounded the most manly as there was no way I was about to watch the choreographed school disco which was undoubtedly going to be the premise of 'Aerobic Fit'. Finally we get to some actual workout routines. We're introduced to Davina's dopplegangers; ex-marine Mark who looks like a camp Jason Statham and ex-dinner lady Jackie who looks like she still is a dinner lady. Mark is the one who barks the orders for the two woman and yourself to follow,  and from his constantly bitter expression you can tell he's only getting paid a fraction of what Davina gets despite this being his carefully planned routine as her fitness instructor. Tough luck buster because that's the way the fitness world works, you spend hours training up some high-profile celebrity only for them to put their name to your technique and reap the rewards.

Yeah, probably best to leave the old one out for this
So we start with our warm-ups for five minutes and they're actually really good, I can feel my limbs stretching and toning already. I'm finding it a bit hard to try and not disturb the people living below me as much as possible so I lay some cushions on the floor as a noise dampener which works pretty well, (that's a protip for you lard bags living in shared accommodation. Write it down). Then, just as I'm feeling great about the whole thing and planning my next 6 months around doing this routine every day, Mark announces it's time to go and get the weights. I stare dumbfounded as they actually stop the routine to go and get their weights while I think; hang on, I don't have any weights, if I had weights I wouldn't need this stupid Super Celebrity Heavyweight Maximum Fitness Workout DVD. If I had weights Mark I would be doing some curls and dead-lifts right now without your stupid guidance, Davina's constant gurning or that tinny rendition of "I Feel Free" by Belinda Carlisle. I suppose for the 'Bottom Fit' they ask you to get your exercise bike out, and woe betide anyone who failed to buy a James Corden calender as target practice for 'Kick Fit'.

I don't know, I didn't check. I realised after the weight fiasco that I had left the front door on the latch, and my neighbours had more than likely walked past and seen my sliding around in my jogging bottoms on cushions whilst Davina McCall shouted at me to think of how good I would look in a bikini all year round. I don't care how good I was going to look in my bikini, I am not in the habit of making a fool of myself. 4 out of 10, because I at least learnt that gurning counts as exercise now.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Other Blogs: A Descent Into Madness

Before we begin today's review, we're going to try a little experiment. What I want you to do is click that little link at the top of the page which says 'Next Blog' and see where it takes you. Make sure you come back here afterwards and we'll discuss your findings. Go on, I'll wait here, you go and have a little explore, I dare you. You back? Okay, well I'm Sorry. I really didn't want to have to do that, but sometimes we hurt the ones we love in order to teach them valuable life lessons. Think of it as an immunisation, now you've had a little  taste of what lies out there, you'll never be tempted to try it again. So what did you get? Poems about dead cats? Tips and tricks for keeping your 'shakra' in line with your convertible? Recipe's for colour-blind lepers? Most likely you stumbled upon the most common of all, the smug middle class family from America documenting every single day of their lives on-line because their friends, families and local Samaritans have all threatened them with restraining orders.
This is what happens when you use the internet as a
dumping ground for your wasted thoughts

This review takes a close look at one of those in  particular, entitled 'Moose Antics'. Click Here to have a look for yourselves if you want, but you really don't need to because I have intrepidly braved that particular frontier for you, bringing back the choicest samples for your visual delectation. 'Moose Antics' is a blog written by this lady on the right, who calls herself 'The Moose'. I don't know why, she doesn't seem particularly large or ugly, it probably all stems from some traumatic childhood encounter in the Canadian Rockies that the rest of the family try to ignore. She lists her interests as "My family, learning the Bible, SINGING(sic), gardening and dancing like a pathetic white girl." In her 'About Me' she just writes moose noises and them makes a lame joke about chickens crossing roads. Buckle up tight 'cos this is going to be one bumpy ride into a very dark psyche. Let's roll.

Before I begin; this is NOT a personal attack on 'The Moose'. I have never met 'The Moose' and therefore have no opinions based on her or her family. This is a review of her blog, which she has laid bare for criticism on an open source website. She knew what she was doing, so stop feeling sorry for her. She lives somewhere in North America with her husband Jon who is rarely mentioned, and her son William, who is mentioned so many times you start to wonder whether he really exists at all and she isn't just making him up because her husband's impotent and allergic to dogs. Here's one of the more recent posts she has written about her adorable little kin "William and I made 9 huge snowflakes last week and then wrote bible passages on the backsides of each one of them. We hung them up over our kitchen table and at night it warms my heart to see William standing on a chair to look at the backs of them to pick out the passage that he wants to read from his bible before bedtime."

William being forced to work in 'The Mooses'
underground salt mines
Hey Moose, if you're reading this and that scene is true I think you may have misjudged the situation a little there. Here's what I think was really happening that night. What you thought of as being a tender moment between you and your child, William actually saw as his opportunity to escape. See, those weren't just Bible passages written on the back of those snowflakes, they were cleverly coded messages to your husband with whom he is clearly in cahoots. When you walked in on him, he was checking to see what your husband had updated them to, leaving plans for how to reach the escape tunnel he has been burrowing out of your basement. I think they're both getting a little sick and tired of your constant documentation of every facet of their lives via your personal blog.

That isn't a one off case either, once I noticed it the first time, examples started popping up everywhere, like this one written a few months before the first quote, "Almost every day that Jon isn't home with us, William has been known to come flying down the stairs and say, "Where's daddy?" He doesn't like for Jon to be out of his sight for more than 5 minutes at a time." Lady, one day you're going to have to wake up and smell the roses. Have you ever noticed how your families eye's twitch when you ask them to tell you what they want for dinner via the comments section in that day's blog post? Your child does not want to be alone with you and your husband spends as much time away from you as possible. No wonder you spend so much time with your pretend on-line family, at least they don't stop talking when you walk into a room or occasionally break down crying when you gleefully tell them you've spent the life savings hiring a professional photographer to follow you all around every day, so not one precious moment is missed or forgotten.

OK, you're in a wood, I still don't get why it's Moose
Sometimes the posts are open letters to one of the family. Hey Moose, you know every time someone posts a passive-aggressive open letter to someone who has slighted them that day a puppy dies right? You've single handedly killed enough  young dogs to end rabies. Here's one for you; and I personally know the puppy this one will be  killing. Believe me, it's an act of mercy.

Dear Moose,
No one gives a shit about you or your problems.
Fuck Off

Aesthetically I must say the blog is presented fairly tastefully. The colour scheme is a warm dusky orange hue for the background and I quite like the picture at the top for it's the rustic charm, a hastily scrapped together montage of bow-ties and picture of a moose with random font types. It's such a shame about every single other aspect of the blog. The little 'Moose'-isms everywhere, the picture of William titled "My Smoochie", the consistent use of the word 'Bloggity' and the general God-awful smugness of the posts only possible from a rich, American middle aged housewife with more time on her hands than sense. I hope one day when William is much older and 'The Moose' develops some form of mental retardation brought on by the inevitability of old age, he starts his own blog about her 'wacky' exploits. 

Let's face it, to be constantly amazed that your child doesn't quite see the World from the same mature perspective that you do is a bit like getting angry at someone who suffers from Alzheimer's disease for forgetting where they put your keys, both pointless and quite uncomfortable for anyone else involved. For these reasons 'Moose Antics' earns itself 2 out of 10, and that 2 is for the colour scheme, because I really do like that orange.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Slender Man

I would make a stupid joke here, but He won't let me
When I was a young child, I only ever really wanted two things. One was a massive aquarium which could house a colossal squid and a sperm whale because I thought it would be amazing to see the two fight, and the other was to be able to live in the middle of some deep forest far away from the strains and disappointment of grown up life I found myself hurtling closer and closer towards. My affinity with woods started from a very early age, where I grew up they were fairly plentiful and there was nothing I liked more than climbing their trees and exploring as much of them as possible. Their sheltering comfort and collection of woodland creatures symbolised a world just beyond human comprehension, each wood represented a self sufficient organic city where the only rules were those which pertained to the laws of the jungle. 

They were simpler times but undoubtedly good times. Those days are gone now. Now I know of the lurking terror within even the smallest copse, watching and waiting for me to dare to try and live out that childhood dream. What could possibly cause such a drastic upheaval in logically fuzzy yet morally sound ideals? Slender Man, that's what. He's big, he's mean and he wont be happy until everyone is dead. He wears a suit because he means business and has tentacles for arms, all the better to wrap around your throat my dear. Never heard of him? Lucky for you, but I aim to change that. For your own sake of course.

The uncomfortable story behind this sinister figure came into the public eye a relatively short time ago, when the above picture appeared on an internet forum from an anonymous poster. The story which accompanied was that it was taken in 1983 in the American town of Stirling, and shortly afterwards there was a huge fire in the same local school which killed every one of the children inside. The fire was supposedly started by Mary Thomas, the same person who took the photo, who has been missing since the event. Like the snarling beast that it is, the collective consciousness of the internet took the Slender Man mythos to its blackened heart and suddenly supposed sightings were cropping up everywhere, from Japan to Norway and every country in between. Thousands of people had their own Slender Man story to tell, mostly involving a dark suited figure emerging from surrounding forests, with unusually long limbs and no memorable facial features. The 'bogeyman' had been reborn with a terrifyingly new persona, a modern day fairytale for the cynical Nintendo generation.

My, My, Whiskey. How you have grown.
One of the most creative iterations of the Slender Man legend is that of the YouTube channel known as Marble Hornets. If you follow that link, have a few hours to spare and don't mind wasting the precious little time you have on this Earth, you can watch all 33 episodes, back to back, whilst you also slowly watch your sanity slipping away. The videos are a supposed documentation of an American graduate going through a friends forgotten rushes for a film he was supposed to make. As he delves further into the tapes, he realises his friend was being stalked by a mysterious figure dressed in a black suit of indiscernible features, sort of like a burns victim James Bond. The series is brilliantly made, relying mostly on the viewers imagination to fill in most of the gaps as all of the greatest horror stories do and is a work in progress, being updated with new posts sporadically.

Whether you choose to believe in the Slender Man or not is of course up to you, I'm not here to preach the words of any creeping ancient evil just like I wouldn't preach the words of any shining triumphant deity. I'm just laying down the facts as I hear them, and you're free to take from it what you will. Part of the thrill of watching the Marble Hornets videos is the underlying uncertainty as to it's validity, and it's far more fun to suspend your disbelief whilst watching than it is to scorn it for being a poorly produced sequence of films.

We didn't want to go, but its persistent silence and outstretched arms
horrified and comforted us all at once 
I suppose through the willingness of the collective internet to keep him alive and further his presence through  spurious photographic evidence and scant recollections, Slender Man represents a need in society to have an ambiguous mystical ubiquity haunting the general psyche. It's much easier for us to anthropomorphise death as a skeletal Grim Reaper figure or a Yeti or a blurry faced businessman than it is for us to admit death as being the far scarier unknown that it is. Either that, or it's a very clever marketing ploy by the logging companies to make people more willing to the idea of decimating every rainforest on the planet in the hope of ridding ourselves of his omnipresent terror once and for all.

I've decided to give Slender Man a very middle of the road 5 out 10, because my respect for him is perfectly counter balanced by my fear of him. Sleep Well.