Tag Archives: entertainment

Gordon Ramsey and a kick up the a@*e

4 Nov

I recently had a brief chat with someone about their ultimate dream to go on Gordon Ramsey’s “Hell’s Kitchen” , which sent me off into my own little world on a tangent…as these things usually do.

The person I was chatting to mentioned how Ramsey has such a bad reputation as a nasty person, and how this actually didn’t matter to them one bit. Sure, he seemed like a nasty person, but there was a method behind it which this guy recognised and appreciated.

Seeing him explode like a nuclear bomb full of the english languages worst offenders on tv can give you the wrong impression, and in this day and age where many people flinch at the slightest sign of conflict* it’s understandable how he’s gotten the reputation he has. Look a little deeper into things though and this attitude makes some sense. Hopefully I can explain it well enough for you to agree or at least understand.

* it seems that these days the perception of ‘conflict’ has turned from “an actual situation whereby someone is giving you unwarranted/undeserved abuse” to “a situation where someone is telling you something about yourself you might not like; cry, cry, for the love of god cry about it…your warped sense of self isn’t going to hold up unless you deny any and all criticism!!1!”.

Okay so; cooking is a discipline. Like taking a career in Law enforcement/ the army, learning a martial art, studying dance/music or engaging in any other activity that requires consistent improvement for you to attain a level of comfort within the discipline.

The first method of teaching or leading someone in any of these arts is to give them enough information for them to realise they need to be their own spur and their own worst enemy if they want to improve. This method takes time and tends to weed out the ones who don’t have the heart.

The second method, as used by Gordon Ramsey and the Army, is to well…push them as hard as possible. This also weeds out the ones who don’t have the heart, but in more spectacular fashion.

Neither method is superior, both are just different. One method might be better depending on circumstances (the discipline in question, the person in question, circumstances, etc…) but both have the same aim: to get the student to realise that they need to do this for themselves.

But of course, as I’ve mentioned before ( https://rhinoprayer.wordpress.com/2011/06/11/youre-not-finished-not-at-18-19-21-30-40/) people have a tendency to think they’ve finished learning/improving once they hit a magic mark. Oh of course they’ll spout ridiculous soliloquoys about how they’ve “got passion, determination, a good attitude, etc…” but a lot of the time it’s quite obvious they’ve put more effort into thinking of those words than actually embodying them.

And here’s where Ramsey’s attitude steps in. When he meets someone who is full of talk but then fails to show any substance behind it, he flips out at them because here’s an adult who’s kidding themselves into thinking they’re a fully functional and well rounded person when the truth is they’re having trouble boiling an egg because they’re too busy pumping themselves up by shouting adjectives and motivational slogans at the same time.

“Fortitude! I’m level-headed! chicken stew! WHOLE NINE YARDS!!”

And I can understand it. Both sides. I can easily understand how someone can fool themselves into thinking everythings alright and that they don’t have to put too much effort into consistent improvement – it’s a tough thing to take a long hard look at yourself when your grown up and think “wow…yeah I’m not all I’m cracked up to be…better do something about it”.

And I can understand Ramsey’s attitude too, because very often the “softly softly catch a monkey” approach doesn’t work with people. Try to persuade them softly and they’ll just take it as an opportunity to sit back into their bubble of self delusional to shout a few more slogans at themself. In some cases, and specifically in Ramsey’s case -where he gets people wanting to learn but refusing to take a long hard look at themselves, break it down and build it it back up- people need a good kick up the arse.

Halloween movies & Assault on precinct 13.

1 Nov

(bit of backround music for ya;)

The television lineup for the halloween weekend, bar Ghostbusters 1&2  being shown, was disapointing. Incredibly disapointing. No scream, no chucky, no nightmare on elm street, no carrie, no nothing. And this wasn’t just the Irish channels I get here either; this was cable. All the major channels from the British isles, and there wasn’t a scrap of halloween fever among them.

Noticing this, it got me thinking about my favourite scary movies.Personally, I’m not actually that big into horror movies. I watched the first ‘Saw’, got a bit of a giddy thrill out of it but then got bored pretty quickly: “oh no! yet ANOTHER dastardly mindfuck-trap? whatever will happen?!”. I was never a huge fan of the Exorcist or anything either, because that shit’s just wrong. Most movies nowadays put a young girl humming/singing chillingly in a hallway and it’s implied(or, depressingly, presumed) that it’s scary; the exorcist went to fucking town on that shit. it was wrong, and damn scary.

Sure, I don’t necessarily love or watch those films all too often, but it adds to the halloween spirit when I find myself skipping over them on the tv schedule a bit quicker than I need to for fear that letting the remote linger on them too long will awaken something dark from the floorboards…

But anyway, thinking about all of this I remembered my favourite scary film. It’s not really a ‘horror’, but damn it’ll get you in the same mood.

Years and years ago in my early teens; back when tamagotchis were the equivalent of iPhones and Zack Morris was the Johnny Depp of the day, I had the house to myself one weekend night. I stayed up late, slipping out back for a sneaky joint every once in a while and had the kind of enjoyable time to myself you can only have when your that age, feeling like it’s your house, your life and your time to do whatever you want with.

Around 1 in the night I stumbled past the Irish language television channel “TG4”, which has the uncanny ability to pick up the best cult films and tv shows around. As of writing this, it is still the only channel out of all of the ones on cable that has picked up the phenomenal “The Wire” from across the Atlantic…that’s how good it is, and it’s targeted at an Irish speaking population of about two hundred thousand (at most…that’s a high guess).

Anyway, knowing it had this ability -seeing as it had introduced me to the classic “The Warriors” only a few weeks beforehand, I stuck around for a few minutes to see what film it was lining up. Little did I know, it was about to introduce me to one of my all time favourites.

Everything in it, from the cinematography to the drawn out atmosphere of the setting to the broken down city in the backround almost acting as a supporting actor did something to scare the bejeesus out of me. I have yet to find, watch or even hear of a film that creates such a tense atmosphere without resorting to cheap orchestra music or shock value. It’s an incredible movie.

One of the single things that shook me about it though was the feeling or atmosphere that it evoked in the first half hour. In that time the film shows dusk in a city and a sad sense of apathy, isolation and hopelessness that just struck a spark with me. When watching it I could smell that feeling in the air as I have done many times when walking around the city, that dusk time emptying of the streets…it’s quite a feeling. If you’ve felt it you know, if not well..you might be best off haha, it’s some ‘dark night of the soul’ stuff.

I’m not gonna tell you much about it actually. Don’t try to find out about it, just find it and watch it. In this day and age it’s almost required that you look up everything about a film before you watch it because you don’t want to waste your time but believe me, this is worth knowing nothing about. Besides, all you need to know is up on that classic poster (they don’t make ’em like they used to).

Oh: and do not watch the remake. Don’t. Just, …just don’t. It’s horrible.

Doc of the day: Assault in the ring

6 Aug

I saw this a while ago, and must say it’s really something. The basic story covered is one of a fixed fight between two relatively unknown boxers way back in the day, but the bigger picture is an incredible insight into the people involved’s lives, motivations, regrets and -unbelievably in one case- lack of them, and a host of other nuances that probably won’t be seen on first look.

The documentary follows Luis Resto and his journey to understand, deal with and ultimately accept his past and the effect it’s had on his own life and everyone else involved. Even if you know or care nothing about boxing, it’s worth the viewing just to observe the people involved. Personally I love people watching; trying to understand people’s reactions, their behaviour and reasons behind, and this film is complete with a host of interesting characters.

Be warned though; there are some graphic images of violence and unsavoury characters, who may or may not have your blood boiling.

Have a look of you get a chance, it’s an incredible story. First part below. Can’t link the playlist for full viewing in youtube, but search for ‘assault luis resto 1/2/3/etc…’ and you should find it easily enough.

 

Back on the horse

6 Aug

Okay okay okay, stop fucking around and write something…

It being a few weeks since I’ve posted anything, my heightened blogging ego demands that I tell you why, so that I can rest assured that all breaths being held have been exhaled and you are safe and sound in the knowledge that I’m okay…

Meh, it’s good to take a break sometimes. There were reasons, mainly that I was busy, but to be honest it’s always good to take a break.The funny thing about writing stuff, is that with each passing day I didn’t write anything there was more to write about. Soured relationships between family members being gently cleared over a cup of tea. The hacking scandal (I refuse to add the suffix ‘-gate’ to any and all groundbreaking news stories: It’s lazy, stupid, and nonsensical) and the funny but completely overblown sidestory that Rupert Murdochs wife was a stone cold brawler.

The incredible turnaround completed by nearly everyone in the media and public spheres when it was revealed that the Norwegian mass murderer was not, as thought/presumed ignorantly, a rabid muslim but a blue eyed christian was something that had me itching to write. But, I decided against writing a four page discourse on the use of language in the influencing of public perception for fear it would flag me up with it’s excessive use of danger words, intelligence and mockery. So, instead of a riveting commentary, you’ll have to do with a simple question:

Did you notice the complete absence of the label ‘terrorist’ when it came out that the killer was not a muslim? Gone was talk of ‘hate’, ‘jihad’ and all discussion of ‘why do Muslims hate Norway?!’, in came talk of ‘lunacy’ and sombre examinations of what could push such a person to do carry out such horrible actions…I have not witnessed such an amazing turnaround since Debbie did Dallas.

hmm….methinks those words will get me flagged anyway. SO, to persuade any g-man/scanning software snooping my page for evidence of violent tendencies that I didn’t mean the words written above to be taken as agreement with awful, horrific beliefs, here’s a pic for you. Hopefully, in the good old ‘short and punchy statement of being’ spirit of the internet (which, let’s be honest here is just fucking unbelievable…here we are with access to the world’s combined knowledge/experience and we’re defined by 140 characters or less and our humble contribution to the Lolcat meme) it will convince you that I did not, I repeat did not, write them cos I’m in any way sympathetic to senseless violence and in fact I’m just a harmless cuddlebunny. Anyway; have a good day G-man, have a good day.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder (Absence, or Absinthe? not sure…more hands-on research needed), in more ways than the saying intends.

Here’s hoping that this post can dispel that terrible nonfeeling you get when you’re struggling to put words to thoughts. Although the fact that I half wrote this last night, then rambled away to watch Mad Max 2 with a nice cup of tea doesn’t bode well. We’ll see. I’ve got a damn good cup of coffee, so there might be a flurry coming. Either way I apologise for the nonsense contained herein; you deserve better.

Zombie apocalypse: Are you ready? You probably aren’t…

30 Jun

Although I’d love to think I’m ahead on the circle of these things, I’m probably way behind the times with this subject. Still, it’s an interesting one to me.

After shouting a drunken argument for the futility of Zombie survival lists across a crowded table at someone that I barely know, I thought I’d get those thoughts together on page. It was a huge trend at the time, taking over most parts of the mainstream culture. Zombies: what will you do when they come?

I’m not against preparing for the inevitable, no way. The part of this trend that got me thinking was the sheer stubbornness of it all. You had people making lists of their favourite weapons, escape plans, vehicles, places they’d settle and how many buxom blondes they’d save on the dash away from the city regardless of the reality of it all. It all got a little bit delusional to be honest.

I did find it uplifting to see that people weren’t averse to creating plans to save their family and friends in case something horrific happened, but the superficial level of thought put into it was a little disturbing. You’d use a baseball bat to knock the heads off Zombies? well done, well done…you do know that it takes a lot of strength and awareness of your physical abilities to do that, don’t you?

It’s all well and good to proudly declare you’d be knocking them off left, right and centre, but what happens when your first feeble attempt at heroics results in the bat gently bouncing off the zombies head because you either just don’t have the strength to hit any harder or don’t know how to apply bodyweight behind your swing?

As for using a sword, that mainstay of well seasoned zombie hunters, well…I always giggle at the thought of someone bravely running into a group of ferocious brain hungry zombies, ready to do some damage with a glint in their eye, before realising that they can’t get the blade out of the first head they chopped into because they just haven’t got a clue how to handle a weapon like that.

Then comes the hard question, the really hard one. The one that probably didn’t cross anyone’s mind when making these lists and grand schemes of heroics. But before that, there’s a slightly easier one to ask:

What if you won’t be the hero? What if, instead of rampaging through hordes of zombies in an effort to save a doomed stranger, you’d be the one running amok on innocent groups of women and children, doing your best to look out for yourself and yourself only? What if, rather than bravely standing out as a beacon of hope in an otherwise ruined world, you’d be the one bastard raping and pillaging your way through the last remnants of civilisation?!

What if, when faced with the complete destruction of civilised social structures and boundaries, you realise that you’re not as good a person you thought you were?

And the hardest question of them all? the one that none of us could probably contemplate without ending up a gibbering wreck huddled in a corner?


…don’t go huddling into the corner now, please, do as hobbs sez..

…What if you’re just not good enough to survive in the first place? We all like to think of ourselves as the one-in-a-thousand who miraculously survives the zombie apocalypse, but what if we’d end up dead in the first few minutes; foiled by a late night stoner haze that made us think that zombie creeping along the ground was nothing more than a pile of laundry. Or else, even though you’d stocked up on twenty different guns and cases of ammo, you’d be undone within seconds of a zombie getting close to you because, tragically, you were too focused on using a gun to adapt to a changing situation?

I’m being too hard, I know. People made zombie survival lists because it was a fun thing to do, nothing more. Aside from a few, rare, people constructing safehouses and going to bed every night with a survival kit ready beside their bed (I swear; i didn’t keep a kit…okay I kept my shoes close, but that’s just common sense, isn’t it?) no one gave the phenomenon more than a passing glance in the grand scheme of philosophical, moral and ethical debate. They’re just zombies, right? there wasn’t much point in connecting the dots.

But it still got me wondering, because it’s a good basis to jump off from. You’d save your family? cool, what are you gonna do if you’re injured? cool, what would you do if it was a disabling injury, like you can’t walk or run? etc…

These are good questions to ask, to begin with, but the basic ones are the most important. Forget about which grenade attachment you’d put on your rifle, where you’d settle in isolation, what car you’d drive and which bland backup party-member you’d seduce first. Start with the basics: Would I survive in the first place? and then, would I survive as the same person I am? and if you’re really serious about those questions, and the zombie apocalypse, ask yourself how you can make sure of these things.

I’m sure you’ll find It’s not with fancy lists; just a good, old fashioned-back to basics- look at yourself.

Green lantern and complex shapes; willpower is a muscle

20 Jun

Well then, I saw the Green Lantern movie. No, this isn’t going to be a review (there’s enough of those out there), but there was one thing about the movie, and premise, that got me thinking. So, although there might be some things about the movie in this post (*Cough* Kilowogs voice was ridiculously wrong *C-Cough*) I’ll only be using it to relate to my point.

The basic premise, if you don’t know it, is that the Green Lanterns get their power and strength from willpower. Simple enough. The more willpower a Lantern has, the better equipped they are to become a good one. The ring holds the power, and the reserve of energy, but it’s the wearers willpower that really makes the difference and makes it possible for the energy to be used (just in case you saw the film, heard an innocent enough line and were thinking “If the energy is a collection of all the willpower in the universe, why doesn’t it just give the wearer incredible power regardless of their character?! I CALL SHENANIGANS!!”).

Not to ruin the film too much for you, but there’s a training scene where the hero of the piece gets put through his paces…for a minute or two. Now, if you’ll allow me tostep off course for a minute, I’d just like to say that this was incredible disappointing. If you’re a fan of the comics you’ll know that Kilowog, the trainer of Green Lanterns, has a habit of putting new recruits through their paces like dogs of war.

In the film, Kilowog tussles with Hal for a minute or two,  steps aside for someone else to have a go then drifts off on a cloud to presumably look for the rabbit farm he was told the guardians placed on OA especially for him, like some sort of monstrously disciplined Lenny from ‘of Mice and men’.

But anyway; as disapointing as that scene was, it was a throaway scene just afterwards that got my attention. Hals guide to the world of green genes

“…and here comes your host tonight:TOMAR RE, ladies and gentlemen, tomar re!”  (…sorry, that music just totally goes with him as an intergalactic game show host…)

is showing him how to make shapes with the ring. Standing there looking like a cross between a chicken and a fish (…which, is…actually pretty well done and accurate to the comics as far as I know. I wasn’t trying to be insulting with that description), he’s casually fooling around with a construct ripped from the mind of M.C. Escher himself then twisted by a thousand car wrecks.

Fair enough; this guy has the experience. He can conjur up all manner of shapes and constructions because he’s been at the job for years (and, importantly, he’s got the imagination…that’s a Green Lantern thing I’m not even going to get into), spending countless hours and missions honing his willpower into a finely tuned weapon.

Astonishingly though, he then pushes the hero to do the same. (…Say whatnow?!) He tells Hal jordan to create the exact same shape that he had been just messing around with and, believe it or not, he does it with a completely straight face; like it’s nothing in the world. Does he do it?…like fuck he does. This is my main disappointment with the training sequence (And I do love me a good training sequence); this point is completely passed over. It’s like “Oh, hey; you got a ring?! good times…good times. Now do this. and this. Why can’t you do it?! do it I said!!! FAILURE! you’re a FAILURE! *tsh GOSH this will never work out for you…” *

*(you could argue that Hal has enough willpower already, seeing as he flies military aircraft using the power of steelballs, and should therefore be able to do anything he wants with the ring; but his willpower is only in one, very specific, area…Someone who has the willpower to run ten miles might not have the willpower to stand still for two hours.)

My long winded point about all this, is that Willpower is a muscle. It needs to be exercised, strenghtened and refined. Start with basic shapes, get them down as tight as possible, then you can move onto the three dimensional spiral tornadoes gyrating in alternate directions based on the proximity to and direction of beautiful women.

If you’ve had experience balancing out two opposing things with willpower, you’ll know what I’m talking about. A few years ago I was trying to start a healthy new activity in my life while trying to give something bad up at the same time. It didn’t work out so well. There were times where I would get super pumped about the activity, so much so that I’d push it hard, and then come home only to fall straight back into the bad habit I was trying to drop.

The reason? I had used a hefty chunk of my willpower in pushing myself to do something positive. So much so, that when I returned home tired but happy with myself, I had no willpower left to keep the wolves from the door.

Trying to go the full whack from the start set me back a lot. Time after time I would put too much willpower into either starting the good or ending the bad, and I’d end up tipping the balancing scales too far one way or the other. It took me a long time to be comfortable enough with myself to say “Hold on, just hold on a minute. Keep some in reserve for later; you know you’re gonna need it”.

I’d love to tell you to go hell for leather in everything you do, I really would. But let’s be honest here; in the real world there’s a million and one things vying for your attention. If you focus on using all your willpower on one thing and one thing only, you’re gonna be left running on empty when something else comes around. Start with the basic shapes; refine them, exercise them and strengthen them, but keep some in reserve for when you need it. After that, when you’ve got a good feeling you’re ready; start dishing out the willpower in bigger doses in different directions.

Journey, Heroes, Dilla and the donuts.

10 Jun

Seeing as it’s Friday (don’t sing it…for the love of god, please don’t sing it) and I’m feeling extra good from training like a demon this morning, I’m going to go a little bit heavy-handed inspirational on you with this one. Relish it; It’s not gonna be often, hopefully.

I can’t tell you how good the first coffee and smoke after training is. Just beautiful. Anyway…

After hearing the now classic Journey song “Don’t stop believing” The other day I started wondering about it’s interpretation and appreciation. Nearly as soon as it was revived it was taken as a club pounder, used whenever the dancefloor was emptying to entice people back on to the floor. It’s incredible just how much it hooked people, but understandable seeing as every girl who stumbles through a club with a drink in one hand and her shoes in the other likes to consider herself a “small town girl”.

The infamous “Don’t stop believing” chorus, while used by the drunken patrons to reassure their desire to improve upon their jimmy choos and get that pay rise they thought they deserved, is quite an effective anthem. On it’s own it can be a simple inspirational lift, encouraging you to continue pushing for whatever you’re striving for. Taken with the verse lyrics though and, for me, it holds on a completely different aesthetic.

To be honest though; as much as the lyrics are great, they’re not the reason I love the song. The backing section is.

Being an (ex) drummer, I fall in love with beats. Jay Dilla gets me hard (read the second comment on that link; it’s just genius),  Billy Cobham is a legend, and I’ve dreamt about playing with Buddy Rich . I love a good beat. I know that doesn’t mark me out as anything special within the larger population of music heads but I find the slightest tap of a cymbal or an off beat on the hi-hats can send shivers up my spine. Anyone can play drums reasonably well, it takes a master to know which beats to hit and which to not.

The integral break in the song, “on and on and on and on…” is nothing without that drum build, and even less without the fat rhythm that goes straight after. Think of it: would the build up sound as good if the drums and bass straight after didn’t sound like a clutch of volleys shot from a cannon? After that, the extra tap on the ride cymbal and hi hats in the bridge sections at two minutes and during the solo, coupled with that super sweet bass in the ending section just makes me go masmndffemfhurrrrr…..

Yeah…that’s some good bass.

Next time you listen to it, focus on the rhythm section. Solid. Damn solid. The funny thing is; it doesn’t need a dance type remix…that rhythm track is perfectly balanced as it is. ( that is, unless you’ve already appreciated it…I could easily be way off the mark here).

The reason I’m rambling on like a gleek (oh god…it’s   happened…it’s finally happened) is that while many songs have  inspirational leanings (and some downright set out with that aim in mind; something which actually sets the truly inspirational ones apart from the crowd), the writers/performers can’t influence how it’s appreciated too much.

Take David Bowies’ Heroes. About the Berlin Wall, and written a long time before it came down, it’s a darkly uplifting song. I love it, but for a very particular reason.

Yep, I absolutely love it. It’s a great song. There’s one thing that never fails to strike a fire with me though; that “I” sung at 1:15. After the relentless but restrained steam-train run of the song up until then, it shatters the conformity of it and manages to sum up everything about the struggle to define or assert yourself, the desire to connect with someone and could possibly be interpreted as the moment when a person realises themselves. In one letter. One simple letter. Sung incredibly.

So, seeing as there’s a few people reading these blogs now (thank you all;) I’m wondering (and hoping you’ll comment)…

what kicks off your shivers in a song? is it the content? the execution? the rhythm? the subject? or is it that certain, inexplicable moment when an instrument just strikes a note or a chord, and you think “…oh.”

leave a comment or a link if you fancy. Ahem…first person to say Rebecca Black’s friday will be ridiculed (Unless, of course, they can prove the theological importance of “Friday” in influencing the end of the cold war and the resulting cultural change from a libertarian perspective).

Here’s a personal favourite to kick start your weekend. Hope it does you good. The song itself is a goodun, but that piano is simply divine.

Stuff’s stuff

All the best; have a goodun. Don’t stop believing, good people…don’t stop believin’.