Graspop rocked verily

Tower over the info tent
Tower over the info tent

A delay in posting due to spending three days in a field in north Belgium kicking bells out of fellow rockers, plus a day either side traveling to and from London.

Graspop 2009 was probably the strongest overall lineup I’ve seen at the festival, although the headliners were surprisingly weak. Motley Crue were just dreadful, playing guitar-wankery for ages after just the first song. This was followed by a rather tedious and very poorly-performed solo after the third song. Time to head back to the tent.

Slipknot were much better on Saturday, but somehow didn’t capture the magic they once did. This despite a pretty passable fourth album. Perhaps the problem was with the weather which was ridiculously hot all weekend.

 

Awesome mohawk
Awesome mohawk

Marilyn Manson has gone from “God of Fuck” to “God of Fuck Off You’re Rubbish”. He certainly lived up to the bad press he received from his performance at Download a fortnight back. If memory serves, he was five songs through before he said anything at all to the audience and that was only four words: “So this is Belgium?”. Between songs, the stage just went black with the audience left just wondering what was going on. We gave him until “Sweet Dreams” then wandered off as we quite like that song and didn’t want to hear him murder it.

The remaining bands put together a great bill, though. Across various tents I watched All That Remains, Papa Roach, Anthrax (my top band of the weekend), Sacred Reich, W.A.S.P., Disturbed, Hatebreed, Trivium, Pestilence, Down, Dragonforce, Lamb of God… Plus a load more I wasn’t familiar with.

A shame Killswitch Engage didn’t play, but I gather the lead singer’s grandmother passed away. I’m sure nobody holds it against them for him choosing to go home.

Band of the Weekend
Band of the Weekend

Hot sun, cold beer, great music. A shame the local council has clamped down completely on the locals selling food and beer to the festival-goers. A big thumbs down to the mayor of Dessel. I don’t fancy his chances much at the next election.

I’m off to rest my weary body and dress my wounds (I’ve got some impressive cuts this year – weird) before getting up in about 4 hours to catch my flight to Bangkok. What a life, eh?

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Time Gentlemen, Please!

Clowns teaching Sex-Ed - what more do you need?
Clowns teaching Sex-Ed - what more do you need?

Time Gentlemen, Please! is the sequel to Ben There, Dan That which I railed about some time ago. Both are made by Zombie Cow Studios which seems to be a one-man act as far as I can ascertain.

I loved BTDT – it was one of the best graphic adventures I’d played in some time. If you like your humour quirkly and slightly disgusting then this is definitely for you. Playing right through will take you a couple of hours, even if you know the solution so the asking price of £2.99 is well worth it. After all, a cinema ticket costs twice that.

Pop over to the web site and nab yourself a copy. It’s Windows-only, which is a shame, but I’m sure it’ll keep me busy on the flight to Bangkok next week!

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My eyes!

Sunglasses recommended
Sunglasses recommended

Have you seen the Newcastle United change strip for next season? Frankly, it’s fucking horrible. It’s verging on being a throwback to the evil goalkeepers’ shirts of the 1970’s and 1980’s. Only worse. Remember when you left a crisp packet lyinging in the summer sun for months and it ended up all faded, yet with awful yellow colours? Well, that’s what they’ve gone for.

It is eyeball-searingly dreadful. As if we need any other ways to get noticed for all the wrong reasons at the moment.

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Confession Part 2

Torchwood logo
Torchwood

That may be the name of a song, actually. In this case it’s referring to my ongoing addiction to all things “new gen” Doctor Who. Having finished all four seasons and the specials, I moved onto Torchwood. Anyone else watch the whole series in two days (while also watching Transformers 2)?

The sci-fi’s good, the effects are better than Doctor Who and there are women kissing in it. Mind, I still get uncomfortable watching two blokes paying tonsil hockey.

So what took me so long getting onto the Dr Who bandwagon? Simple – the first two episodes of the relaunch were bloody awful. The story was crap, the acting (Doctor aside) was dreadful, the effects were a joke, and Billie Piper had only just begun to show how mind-bogglingly annoying she was. It really was complete cardboard.

I forced my way through those episodes again and then onto the later stuff. Amazingly, it just got better and better, much as Buffy did between the first half-season and into the second. Story arcs and in-jokes get set up. References appear between spin-off series. Actual character relationships develop, and oh! that “Face of Boh” revelation at the end of season 3!

With luck I can finish season two of Torchwood in the next couple of days around booking flights and packing. Unfortunately, I gather season three – a 5-part, one-week special – will be broadcast while I’m Thailand. Arse. Seeing as I can’t access iPlayer over there (and it works like crap on Linux anyway), and will have expired by the time I get back I’m rather glad we have torrents.

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Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen
Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen

On a scale of “meh” to “wow”, Revenge of the Fallen makes the mercury explode from the top of the thermometer in glorious CG red splashes.

Plot-in-a-nutshell: there’s a plot? Oh, yeah. Some metal thing puts some mumbo-jumbo into the kid from the first film’s head and the bad guys want it. Which means lots of robots beating the crap out of each other.

I was listening to Radio 5 Live on the way back and someone connected with the upcoming feature Moon spent a good few minutes absolutely slating Transformers 2. The basis for his argument was that science fiction is – or at least used to be – about things other than big robots hitting each other. He’s right, you know. The likes of Soylent Green, The Omega Man and 2001 were definitely more high brow than this… but Transformers has big sodding robots from another planet! If that’s not science fiction, I don’t know what is.

Sure, there’s only a basic story – enough to hang a few gazillion computer calculations off – but there are also a fair few laughs and some quite outstanding action sequences. Oh, and there’s Megan Fox for the eye candy. At least I’m assuming she’s stunning – it’s hard to tell when it’s so patently obvious she’s wearing enough makeup for Optimus Prime to cover up his wrinkles.

If I had to pick a stand-out performance, I’d go for John Turturro as the voice of Jetfire. Whoever decided to make him an aging Brit was a genius. Watching a hulking rustbucket on two legs stagger around and say “bollocks” helps take the Transformers out of “object” territory and into “character”.

If I have a complaint about the film it’s that there’s just too much going on at times. The screen is only so big and the effects so complex that I just felt like I couldn’t take it all in. A shame that there isn’t a local IMAX screen as this is most definitely a movie that would benefit from the additional screen real estate. I believe the IMAX version is also a noticable amount longer.

Science fiction comes in many flavours. As do summer blockbusters. Revenge of the Fallen fits well into both categories and they don’t bust blocks much bigger than this.

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