January 11, 2005

I Heart Huckabees

Went to see this film today at the Warwick Arts Centre. I got in for free on the RaW gravy train.

It's written and directed by David O. Russell, the man behind Three Kings, that one about Gulf War I. This also has that man with the one facial expression, 'Marky' Mark Wahlberg, in. And Jude Law, Dustin Hoffman and Naomi Watts.

It's a comedy based around an environmental activist called Albert (Jason Schwartzman) who has a existential crisis so goes to an existential detective agency, run by Hoffman and his wife. It all gets a bit silly and Albert meets Marky, a fireman – sorry, firefighter – who is in a similar predicament and who rants about petroleum at every given opportunity.

You've also got Brad (Law) – who's a executive with Huckabees, a chain of supermarchés, and is also getting involved with Albert's environmental campaign. He takes over leadership of Albert's project so there's a big rivalry thing going on. Then there's his bird (Watts), who's a model with Huckabees. Very soon they all start questioning reality.

It's funny, in a quirky way. If you liked The Royal Tenenbaums, you'll like this. Probably more laugh-out-loud moments, actually.

As for the philosophical content, I was kinda let down. As a self-respecting intellectual, I'm fairly into my existentialism – have been since before The Matrix, have been since before I even knew what existentialism was. But this didn't really say much to make me think. You had rival existential detectives – Hoffman and his wife vs. this French bird. One reckoned that everything in the universe is connected; the other thought that nothing was. And that's about it. Didn't really like the special effects which came with the philosophising either.

So, on the whole: 7/10


January 08, 2005

Wife Beater

This is what I was referring to in the last one but Jesus! this is about as far away from comedy as you can get! However, the point is it works.

He'll only come home at night
If he hasn't been in a fight
Down at the pub, he's ready for his dinner
Watching and waiting
He's an hour late and his lamb chops won't get much colder

He's fumbling with his key
He doesn't sound very happy
Your husband is drunk, only two quid for a pint of Stella Artois
Something's the matter
Make a run for it now but you ain't gonna get too far

(Oh-oh, here he comes) Watch out girl he'll smack you up
(Oh-oh, here he comes) He's a wife beater
(Oh-oh, here he comes) Watch out girl he'll smack you up
(Oh-oh, here he comes) He's a wife beater

I wouldn't if I were you
You know what he can do
You've got a nasty black eye but he doesn't really care
Now give him his dinner
Sure, tell the police but he'll say that you fell down the stairs

(Oh-oh, here he comes) Watch out girl he'll smack you up
(Oh-oh, here he comes) He's a wife beater
(Oh-oh, here he comes) Watch out girl he'll smack you up
(Oh-oh, here he comes) He's a wife beater

Words: Daniel Wilson Craw. Music: Hall and Oates.


An Open Letter To Mark

Care to explain what the letter to Ally, which you plastered all over campus today, is all about? It's very sweet, I'm sure, but I think I speak for everyone at Warwick when I say we're baffled and are dying to know.

January 05, 2005

Sailor Boi

Another comedy version of a well-known song. This was written two years ago and is not as good as Fat But… but will do for now. If I get particularly bored in the next few weeks, there'll be a brand new one to watch out for.

He was a boy; she was a girl
Can I make it any more obvious?
He went to cadets; she did ballet
What more can I say?
He wanted her but she'd never tell
Secretly she wanted him as well
All of her friends weren't very warm
They had a problem with his uniform

He was a sailor boi she said c u l8r boi
He wasn't butch enough for her
She was quite pretty and her feet were on dry land
She needed to come smell the sea a-a-a-air

Five years from now, she sits at home
Feeding the budgie she's all alone
She turns on TV and guess who she sees
Sailor boi rocking up the navy
She calls up her friends they already know
And they've all enlisted; are set to go
She joins up too and stands in the crowd
Salutes the man that she turned dow-ee-own

He was a sailor boi she said see you later boi
He wasn't butch enough for her
Now he's rear admiral, today he's setting sail
This time you're the one who will get hurt

I'm afraid I didn't have the inspiration to rewrite the middle eight with a naval theme so I've omitted it - told you it wasn't very good

He's just a boi and I am one too
I don't think this is as obvious
We are in love, that's right, two blokes
And we rock each other's boa-oa-oats

I'm with the sailor boi, I said see you later boi
When we get our shore leave
I shall put on my thong then we'll sing the song
By that bint Avril Lavigne

Fin.

Words: Daniel Wilson Craw and Avril Lavigne's songwriters. Music: Avril Lavigne's songwriters


January 04, 2005

Dan Returns to Leamington

The weirdo who sat next to me on the train journey this time was not only weird-looking, but wore an eyepatch. He only put the patch on after settling into his seat, allowing me time to have a look at his face. He had a lazy eye which I assume the piratey paraphernalia was there to correct. Shame: he looked like he would've made a good bo'sun.

My extended family failed to make it a Christmas and New Year double whammy: despite being with the British Antarctic Survey team, my cousin Katherine failed to get interviewed for the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures on the telly. Shucks.

And finally, the Start of Term List of Ailments:
– severe lethargy induced by three days of hibernation, mostly watching Family Guy
– a burnt tongue, cause unknown
– a UDI on my finger
– a mouth ulcer
– melancholy caused by muchos reading and Student PI recordage to do


January 02, 2005

T4

If any of you were fortunate enough to see the above Channel 4 meta-programme today, you would have seen my cousin, Rod 'The Piper' Deans, teaching young Vernon Kaye how to play the bagpipes.

Yay my family.


January 01, 2005

Happy New Year

I blame the exceptionally strong White Russian.

No, I haven't had any run-ins with burly Eastern Europeans, of any colour; I'm talking about the cocktail of which I made a couple of pints to take to Max's house party last night. Drank it all by 2005. And was rather trolleyed. This New Year's was a change from last time, when I earned £100-odd waiting at the Marriott Hotel, so I suppose last night I was cashing in the capacity for Hogmanay booze I'd saved up.

It was all good – not especially legendary but saw people I hadn't seen for a while and other sentimental bollocks. Finally had an excuse to smoke the cigar I spent my last €2 on in Amsterdam Schipol five months ago. That probably explains the soreness of my throat this afternoon. There is nothing to explain the cut on my finger though.

I realised how drunk I was on the walk home at roughly 3am, when I was doing up my parka and said something to Jonny, letting the bottle of Budvar I'd been holding in my teeth fall and shatter on the pavement.

New Year is always an occasion for bit of boundary-breaking and this one was no exception. This year's boundary: no matter how paralytic I've been, I've always remembered to take out my contact lenses. So what did I do when I got in? I was very tired so I thought I'd have a bit of a lie down first – before I went to bed proper…I woke up at 9 with the light still on and, yes, my contact lenses still in. Fully clothed as well, though I've done that before. Of course I was still drunk, but went back to sleep for another 3 hours, sobering up and hanging over. Waking up drunk is one of nature's miracles, never to be turned down. Unfortunately I don't even feel an Anti-Hangover coming on. I do, however, have the Saturday Guardian to brighten the rest of my day.

Do I have any resolutions? Um, Get Fit I suppose, boring and clichéd as it is. As in healthy and doing exercise, of course – I'm fit enough already in other ways.


December 31, 2004

The Rubbishest Christmas Ever

Follow-up to México from Esprit de l'escalier

I should qualify the title of this blog by saying that the day in question was the rubbishest Christmas I have ever experienced, which isn't saying much, considering my family are a wholesome, loving and stable, albeit slightly eccentric bunch. For all you poor souls out there who didn't get the chance to go to Mexico and soak up the sun and Tequila and had much worse Christmas than I am about to describe, then all I can say is: 'bless'. All the same, please read on…

We spent Christmas in Merida, the capital of the state of Yucatan (sorry, pedants: I can't be arsed to use the accents today). Not your typical traditional British Christmas with the relatives, the drinks cabinet and the Great Escape, of which I am deeply fond. Rather, we were holed up in a crappy hotel way inland (so no beach to while the day away upon), with few presents to open and no Christmas meal to start preparing. On top of that, I had developed some kind of lockjaw ailment. Obviously, having not been bitten recently by anything bigger than a skeeter, it wasn't, but this did not make eating any less painful. Jake was also ill.

We were bored. Not even the weather was a winner. If it had been sunny, a dip in the hotel pool would have been something to do. But oh no. It went and bloody rained. In the middle of the dry season. All day. It wasn't even warm rain. It was cool. Possibly not as cool as you had it here, but it wasn't fun. If it had been as sweltering as was before, my Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now-style fit of existential ansgt while lying on my bed would have been pretty sweet. What a waste of a good mirror.

Luckily I had bought my Dad the Private Eye 2004 Annual, which gave me something to read. That and the closing chapters of Crime And Punishment. Festive! The telly offered little better than a dubbed Titanic and regular adverts. Despite early enthusiasm, the family procrastinated all day – quite typically, in fact – so that we missed Mass, which was quite hard to do in Merida seeing as there was one every hour.

My desire for turkey had peaked, as it usually does, at 3pm; when we got to one of the few restaurants that were serving it (out of the few restaurants which were actually open) it was nearer 9. I suppose the saving grace of this Christmas meal was that it was a darn sight more memorable than other ones. It was a coffee bar, with a tiny restaurant upstairs. The other group of people there were roughly my age, clearly having escaped their respective families to socialise. Music of the 1980s (Spandau Ballet, Queen and Phil Collins – my, do the Mexicans love The Collins?!) was drowning out what was left of our Christmas cheer. And the icing on the cake: for some reason they brought us our starters at the same time as the turkey, so after I finished my beautiful Sopa de Lima (look forward to lashings of it next term, mis housemates!), I ate cold turkey. Brilliant.

So that was my Christmas. How was yours?


December 30, 2004

México

I tried not to be too self-indulgent but prepare yourselves, my friends, for a long read…

So I returned from the wonderful country that is México. Pronounced, of course, 'MEH-hee-coh', unlike most other 'x'es in the Spanish language, which are pronounced 'ks'. Of course, don't get the Spanish 'x' confused with the Mayan 'x' which is pronounced 'sh'. I thought I'd better get all the confusion out the way first. That's about it for confusion actually, everything else was pretty straightforward, possibly too much so. To be fair, it was a family holiday so it was bound to be somewhat conservative in tone.

We were on the Yucatán Peninsula, taking in a bit of Cancún, Tulum, Chichén Itzá and Mérida over ten days. The place is utterly flat, and covered in jungle. I'd describe it glibly as an Americanised Cuba – a mixture of colonial styles and tourist development. Plus the whole Mayan thing, which I'll come on to later. It was fairly hot and 'muggy', which was a nice change.

We drank a lot of Corona Extra (other Mexican beers are available) and Margaritas (no other Mexican cocktails are available) and ate some quality food (try the green stuff they bring you with the tortilla crisps. My advice: heap as much of it as you can onto the crisp and eat in one go). We stayed near a beach for the first half of the holiday, which was very nice. I could sit back, pretend to read Crime and Punishment while ogling the nipples of the surprisingly nubile nudists. It took a while for my body clock to adjust to the new time so I felt sleepy most of the time. Hey, I was supposed to be relaxing anyway…

With me in México were my folks, and Wilson Craw the Younger: Jake. As I inferred above, the country didn't have many foibles to amuse me but, atypically for foreign travel, I was with my brother, so our Les Enfants Terribles-style in-jokey banter saved the day. Unfortunately for you, this humour does not transfer well to blog form. Anyway, we raised seven circles of Hell in México, in Tequila-fuelled rampages throughout town. We didn't leave a good impression on the locals, let me tell you. Not least with a particular group of ne'er-do-wells, whose prize-winning mongrel our adopted stray, Pepé, savagely beat good and proper in an illegal backstreet dogfight. Not only did they refuse to pay up fair and square, they rode us out of town on their numberplate-less Chevy pick-up truck.

Jake and I became separated and were lost in the middle of the Yucatán jungle. After wandering for hours, fretting about Jake and what the mosquitoes were doing to his tasty gringo skin, I stumbled upon a Mayan village. Yucatán inhabitants are mostly of Mayan origin and tend to be very short. The people I found in this village were no exception but they were so cut off from the rest of the world, it seemed that I was the first Caucasian person they'd ever seen. With my white skin, towering above them at 5'8", they thought I must be some sort of deity. The village was in a pretty bad state and they were clearly in need of some Good Fortune. In their broken Spanish, they pleaded with me to perform a miracle. In my broken Spanish, I said: 'Okay'. So I did the first thing that came to my head, which just so happened to be to walk into the newsagent, reach up to the top shelf and pick up the latest issue of Hustler*. They were so impressed by the titties on display that they asked if I could provide them with more. So I did and before long the entire village was all jazz-magged up, holed up in their palm-leaf huts, masturbating furiously. Needless to say, after performing this miracle, I became their Porn God; they put me up in the penthouse suite, furnished it with a fresh virgin every day (it took a lot of persuading to stop the savages sacrificing them in my name), and let me have all the hallucinogenic smoking leaves I required. The effect of this last gesture was diminished as the leaves in question already littered the jungle floor, but it was the thought that counts.

Hunky dory, you may be thinking at this stage. Not so. The neighbouring village were rather more conservative than the one in which I'd become a god, and took violent exception to my distribution of lewd literature. They captured me and after a pretty unfair trial, I was sentenced to death by fire. Despite the grim circumstances, they made the effort and put on quite a show by erecting a wooden platform and everything. They even allowed me to choose the date and time of my execution. Now this proved to be a rather happy coincidence as I'd read in the Yucatán Times the previous week that a solar eclipse would be happening and even though I'd thrown the paper away, I remembered the precise time at which one could witness this majestic feat of nature. Fortunately - and you'll see why - they had no matches or gas rings so could only start fire by holding a magnifying glass to the sun. What I did was to choose my execution to take place on Thursday at 2 (the time of the eclipse) then just as the head priest was getting out the magnifying glass, knowing how gullible these Mayans were, pretended to be the Sun God and 'commanded' the sun to disappear, which it duly did. Not only did I avoid horribly burning to death, I became this tribe's Sun God. Once again, I was put in the penthouse suite and furnished with daily virgins. Folks, I had it made.

I would have loved to stay but in the end dear old Blighty and Warwick University beckoned. I figured, 'Hey, if this degree business doesn’t work out, I've always got something to fall back on.' At which point I awoke to possibly the Rubbishest Christmas Ever...

*Apologies for going a bit Sofia Coppola on the Mexicans' short-arses, but it's true. Also apologies to Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu and Hergé.


December 29, 2004

Bring Back Foxhunting

Rah rah rah and yah boo sucks to Tony Blair.

The government bans fox hunting, my family and I go away for 10 days and then what happens? A fox creeps into our garden and tucks into our hens. Can't believe it. Where are we to get our eggs from now? Oh. Right. The shop. Well, there were five of them – he/she didn't need to kill 'em all, surely? What's clear is that if we still had a regular agreement with the local aristocrats to ride around with a bugle and a pack of hounds, this sort of thing wouldn't have happened.

Before I become a Tory, I think I'll let the fox off – it's Christmas after all. Spending most of my time in Leamington, I wasn't that close to the hens anyway. I'll miss Honky though – she was the best.


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