Saturday, August 28, 2010

Metalocalypse - An introduction to brutality, Hanna-Barbera Style.

Originally published by

I’ve never been the worlds hugest death metal fan, in fact I’ve always thought it was all a bit silly, all that face paint and posturing seems a bit pantomime to me;

CROWD – “He’s behind you,”
LAD IN LEATHER AND SPIKES – “Oh no he isn’t,”
CROWD – “Oh yes he is,”
LAD IN LEATHER AND SPIKES – “So he is, and he’s soaked in the blood of a virgin, which is why his matches are damp and he can’t get a decent flame going on the corner of that Carpathian Church.”

So when a friend was idly skipping through their two million cable channels and stumbled across an episode of Metalocalypse I was filled with literally micrograms of excitement.

I’ve never had anything against death metal - in fact some of my best friends have been in black metal bands – but have always reviewed the black metal albums I’ve been sent as being part of a great joke nobody has let me in on. Well thanks to Metalocalypse now I get the joke. Apart from the truly deranged disciples of death metal (who actually take it seriously) I’m now of the firm belief that all fans adore the grunting vocals and obscenely fast guitar solos in a slightly ironic way. Metalocalypse has captured this perfectly.

Metalocalypse is an animated show vaguely in the visual style of Hanna-Barbera; imagine Captain Caveman but with a death metal soundtrack and surprisingly graphic and with bloody cartoon violence. The show centres around a band called ‘Dethklok’ who just happen to be the biggest band in the world, by an unfathomably wide margin. Dethklok aren’t just big enough to fill arenas, they’re so huge they play entire Islands, own a fleet of space helicopters and record albums in giant submarines a mile under the surface of the ocean! The band have an army of black hooded roadies as big as, well, as big as an army. In fact Dethklok are so super massive they rank as the seventh largest economy on earth.

Wherever Dethklok play legions of their fans die, whole swathes of their roadie army are wiped out (it’s okay, they have many spares) and an alarming amount of apocalyptic devastation ensues. Of course you might assume that as this is a cartoon we’re talking about there are no consequences to deal with. Were you to make such an assumption you’d be totally wrong. In one episode bassist ‘William Murderface’ nearly kills a fan by head butting him for interrupting his penis bass solo, and that victim of dark death metal brutality turns out to be a prince, and returns with his royal family to demand Murderface signs his plaster-cast. Now how’s that for cause and effect, totally lifelike I’d say.

None of the members of Dethklok (William Murderface, Skwisgaar Skwigelf, Nathan Explosion, Pickles, and Toki Wartooth) are particularly likable - although the childlike Scandinavian guitarists certainly have their endearing moments – but just like when passing a motorway accident one cannot look away.

One of the aspects of Metalocalypse that surprised me the most was the music – rather than being a tired necessity to augment proceedings it’s actually pretty damned good. Most of the lyrics are unintelligible to me, but the few that shine through stick in my head with all the staying power of a kebab stain. After watching one episode (much to the delight of those who dwell around me) I spent the next few days mimicking Floridian Nathan Explosion’s gruff vocals from a coffee advert Dethklok perform;

"Do you folks like coffee?
Real coffee, from the hills of Columbia?

The Duncan Hills will wake you
From a thousand depths
A cup of blackened blood
Die, die
You're dying for a cup."

So does Metalocalypse offer insightful comment on this crazy modern world we live in? Does it offer up cruel (but right on) satire in the vein of South Park? Nah, to paraphrase Homer Simpson ‘it’s just about a bunch of stuff that happens.’

I’m still unsure as to whether Metalocalypse has mass appeal in the same way as the Simpsons, but it certainly steps beyond the necessity to needlessly shock in a Family Guy style, but much like ‘This is Spinal Tap’ it does depend on a certain level of existing knowledge on the theme.

I couldn’t possibly condone the use of Bit Torrents or anything illegal like that, but if you were a naughty sort who uses such badness I would recommend finding the episode ‘Murderface’s Birthday,’ it’s a great starting point for your black adventure.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Malcolm’s rest

Malcolm's Eye

Cliché dictates that ‘life is tough’, but Malcolm doesn’t agree, it’s all a matter of perspective.  Malcolm has spent most of his life as a wandering soul, never content and always restless.  His tattered ears and blinded eye betray the nature of most of Malcolm’s adventures, although he’ll never be able to tell us how any of these marks of distinction were earned, and if truth be told he probably can’t remember too well himself.

When your life is a swirl of transience, new families and ever changing homes some of the details that trouble others fade away – Malcolm gives no thought to how old he is, or how tired he feels.

Were he a person Malcolm would be embarrassed if you made a fuss of his longevity and probed him for the exciting ins and outs of his many hosts, he’s content to lay, to dream and to graciously accept the occasional bit of coaxing.

Looking into Malcolm’s eyes won’t tell us how many people have adopted him over the years, nor how many times the adoption was the other way round.  We’ll never know how many excited toddlers have pulled at his fur or trailed string across the floor for his entertainment; it’s perhaps a relief that we’ll also never know how many feet have kicked Malcolm and how often he suffered unearned unkindness.  We’re saved details of who shot Malcolm with an air-rifle and gave him his characteristic limp; we only know Malcolm carried on regardless with a sigh and another move to another home.

What we do know is that this was Malcolm’s final home, his place of warmth and security, the home where he could take his final rest.  We’ll leave him in peace now, comforting himself with his cracked and gurgling purr.  Rest in peace Malcolm, you dear old man.

Malcolm's had a tough life

More photos of Malcolm... 

The Cat's protection league...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Football and machismo turned to my advantage, finally!

Our new allotment friend

There are two things in life that I’ve never understood, and until a couple of weeks ago they were football and machismo.  I’ve travelled the world, I had a successful career with the bank, I’ve loved, lost and seen the sun rise and set on three continents, but I’ve never understood why blokes derive such pleasure from kicking a ball about.  I guess the fact I don’t have a very sporting outlook on life contributes.   As for machismo (and manliness in general) I guess it’s more the case that male bravado has managed to evade me all my long life; I’ve chased it, but it has always remained just out of my grasp.

Ah, but you’ll have noticed the caveat, that bit at the start where I said ‘until a couple of weeks ago’, I know you will only have read that a few seconds ago but I just don’t trust short term memory any more:  my own has somewhat atrophied since I retired and I’ve never been too sure of yours.

Anyway I digress, where was I?  Oh yes, I was talking about water wasn’t I?  No, football and manliness wasn’t it? Ah yes!  Actually the three are linked, and that’s what I wanted to tell you – last night (just for a few moments) I found a way to enjoy football, and quite remarkably it’s precisely because of the machismo and not in spite of it!

I have recently followed the current downsizing trend by moving from that nice place I had in Monewden to a bungalow in Woodbridge.  My new ‘castle’ is in a cul-de-sac about one hundred yards from The Seal (handy for lunch I can tell you) and if I tell you my garden backs onto the football ground then you should have a clear idea of where I now live.  There’s a public footpath that runs down the side of my house, and that’s where what was a problem became quite the entertaining boon for me.

A few months after I moved in I noticed that a patch of dahlias along my border was looking a bit sickly; the petals looked a trifle rain battered and the stems were turning a horrid brown.  The plants that I rather tastefully companion planted either side (I won’t trouble you with details) were still thriving; I’m pleased to report that years of working in an office hasn’t diminished my green fingers.  Oh, and another thing, these poor dahlias stunk!  Not much else to do these days, so I went through every RHS manual I could lay my hands on and even took a cutting down to the garden centre (Notcutts) but this blight looked like it was going to remain a mystery.

About six weeks ago I was feeling a little under the weather so took myself to bed early.  Now this is where things get a little complicated – despite the fact I live in a bungalow the bedroom is in fact upstairs in the loft space, something to do with planning permission when the place was built is my guess.  Anyway, it was a Wednesday night which means that there was a football match on at the club behind my garden, and they have awful floodlights so I was at the window drawing the curtains when I spotted something that damn near took the biscuit:  Each time there’s a football match a feckless horde of lager swilling morons spew out of the The Seal and use the public footpath beside my property as a short cut to the football club.  Now naturally I have no objection to the public using this presumably ancient right of way to reach their destination, but what I do object to is any of the great unwashed using my hedge as a latrine.

I decided to bide my time and make observations from my window each night there was a football match for the next few weeks.  Much to my surprise the same horrid little oik was urinating through my hedge every damned night Woodbridge FC played!  Can the lager they’re serving at The Seal be so rank that this fellow can’t make it from pint to pitch without emptying his excess on my dahlias?

As curious as I was about the medical peculiarities of this chap’s peanut size bladder I decided to forgo any investigative interview and proceeded directly toward a plan to save my garden border.  In preparation for the exodus that would invariably pass my garden before last night’s match I stuck a fork into the edge of the lawn and jury-rigged a well aimed hosepipe to the handle.  I sat in one of the cushioned garden chairs by the tap and waited for my prey. 

Regular as Swiss time I heard the rambunctious rabble of the crowd of football fans passing on the footpath, and then as expected I saw one of their number fall back slightly and approach my hedge.  I strained my ears and the very second I heard him unleash his stream I turned on the tap, but just for a second or two.  As I hoped my aim on the hose was straight and true, and the time I spent in careful preparation was rewarded with a desperate yelp from the other side of the hedge.  A zip went zip and two feet stepped hastily away.

My plan didn’t end with a bit of light crotch soaking, oh no.  In fact the final part of the plan was played out by others unknown to me, just the way I hoped it would be.  The reaction of this fellows peers upon seeing him return from a mission (that they were all to aware of the details of ) with a soaked crotch will hopefully be enough to persuade him not to make his usual stop the next time his team plays.

So there you go, football and machismo turned to my advantage, finally!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Compulsory random life obsolescence

By Andrew Culture

Copenhagen_Denmark--_ASL8558_August 16, 2009

Ah coffee! The eyes may be the windows of the soul, but coffee shop frontages are the windows of society. Or should that be windows onto society? I guess nobody will know for sure, not anyone born in the last sixty years anyway, not anyone who was churned through the public schools system after it was privatised.

As soon as the corporations took over education the cutbacks started: Latin was already long gone and it didn’t take long for other severe cuts to follow. By the time I started high school (some forty years after ‘the cuts’) Starbucks owned every good school in my sector, and lessons like home economics were a distant memory. I guess it didn’t make sense to the CEO of my school (all those years ago) to teach kids how to feed themselves; the shareholders would see that as commercially damaging.

Nobody really minded by then anyway – my granddad sometimes goes all misty eyed and mumbles on about how every house in his quadrant used to have a kitchen, and how people used to prepare their own food at home, but it all sounds like a real chore and terribly unhygienic to me. Since all chain food became tax deductable and the taxes on seeds and tools went sky high I don’t see why anyone would be willing to bankrupt themselves just to chow down on some horribly dirt caked wonky vegetables.

The link between brand loyalty and longevity is well established now, it’s the reason I’m sat in Starbucks right now, speaking to you. You’re born a brand, you live branded and you die a brand. It’s how we tell each other apart. Granddad told me that his friends used to joke about the type of people that used shops like Aldi, but since the Stock Exchange brought in brand aware social separation I’m sure everyone is happier. It’s certainly cheaper for society to be separated this way.

The next subject to be dropped by the investment group who owned Starbucks (and most of the other schools ‘investors’) was history. This all happened way before my time, and it’s somewhat ironic that even although history was dropped to stifle the developing minds of children – so they wouldn’t grow into questioning meddling adults – I seem to know so much, well I have a dark secret. I’ve been reading. I know we’re not supposed to read anything outside of our brand demographic but I can’t be the only one who dares to deviate? I’m risking being declared unclean if I’m ever caught. I know being Starbucks decides what literature I read, but I’ve rebelled – I’ve been reading at Waitrose level, and I know a few things about the history of ‘the cuts’ that would chill your blood to the bone implants.

I guess without risking everything by defying my demographic (unlikely, Starbucks FTW) and continuing my research I’ll never know for sure, but I’ve got an inkling that the ‘cut-backs’ were something to do with banks. The legend is that when my Granddad was a boy the banks nearly destroyed the world, and instead of letting them become extinct something called ‘Government’ rescued them, and using non-corporation money they rescued the banks a total of seven times.

The symptoms of the first rescue were subtle; pot plants disappeared from public service offices, a few road sweepers were set free. By the time of the third rescue a not for profit organisation (yeah, weird huh?) that existed purely for putting out fires was closed.

The fifth rescue was when birth control was taken out of the hands of individuals.

It wasn’t until the sixth rescue that C.R.L.O (compulsory random life obsolescence) was introduced. Hell, that was so long ago now that I doubt many people can comprehend a world where everyone was allowed to grow old and die naturally. In fact I can barely comprehend the fact that some people still try and resist it even now. Even as I look out of this Starbucks window I can see a couple of C.R.L.O operatives pulling some old duffer out of a branch of Halifax Pharmaceutical Delicatessen and into one of their cheery bright green vans. There’s a couple of idiot Tesco kids pointing and laughing, I guess they’re too young to know that C.R.L.O comes early for their brand.

Me, well I don’t let these things trouble me – I live life to the full, that’s why I’m going to order another Ultra-Grande and sit back and enjoy the show. I love C.R.L.O’s chaser Tuesdays.

Copenhagen_Denmark--_ASL8413_August 15, 2009

Monday, August 02, 2010

'Now then Gadgie' reviews

Early in 2010 we (meaning Corndog Publishing) published an anthology of one of our favourite zines 'Now then Gadgie'. This anthology has been very well received, and here are some of the reviews.

Click here to buy 'Now then Gadgie' direct from Corndog Publishing...

Mass Movement Zine
Highly amusing collection of anecdotes and autobiographical accounts from self confessed football loving punk and creator of ‘Gadgie’ zine. Chronicling Marv’s formative years in the 80s, touching on all the usual cultural references from that decade (Grange Hill, ZX Spectrums, The ‘punk’ episode of Quincy, The Young Ones, Fred Perry shirts and V neck jumpers and curly perms), through his forays into Europe, dislike of AC/DC, experiencing the worst toilet in the world (next to the harbour in Boston, Lincs in case you are wondering) and of course numerous tales of Footie matches and culture; I found Gadgie’s barbed comments regarding glory chasing premiership fans who support teams totally unconnected with their hometown particularly entertaining and just. If this sounds like an enjoyable read to you then seek professional help. But seriously folks this is an enjoyable stroll down memory lane for anyone over the age of 30 and an entertaining glimpse into the life of Gadgie. Ian Pickens

Suspect Device Zine
“Dear Jim, could you fix it for me to read a book by one of my favourite fanzine writers?”
What we have here is a book by everyone’s favourite PE teacher, Marv Gadgie; I think I’m right in saying that this is a collection of Marv’s written work that have appeared in his own zine, Gadgie, as well as other zines. It’s almost an autobiography in that the book starts with tails of the young Marv’s childhood misdemeanours, and follows him as he grows up to become the respectable member of society he is now, or something like that. As you might expect by now, this is full of funny anecdotes and all written in Marv’s inimitable style; his use of childish, and local slang made me fondly remember the colloquialisms that we used where I grew up, and although I was much less of a tearaway than Marv seems to have been in his early years, some of his experiences are very similar to my own. Even the pieces I remember reading before still thrilled me, and made me laugh out loud; you don’t need to know Marv to enjoy this book, but I do know Marv and I think you get a real sense of who he is from reading this. I guess the mark of a good book, and a good writer is if you get inspired to write yourself, and this made me want to write the way Dan O’Mahony’s books did several years ago. Wonderful stuff.
Oh, and I did get a Jim’ll Fix It badge too!

Broken Pencil Website Now Then Gadgie breaks the zine anthology mould By Luke You
'Gadgie' is a classic UK zine put out by Marv Gadgie from the town of Boston in Lincolnshire, UK. I have been aware of the zine since the turn of the century and the sight of a new issue in my PO Box always brings a smile to my face. The wonderful Andrew Culture and Corndog Publishing/zine distro in the UK have put out a book, a zine anthology dedicated to the wonderful world of 'Gadgie'. The unusual thing about the anthology is that the zine 'Gadgie' is usually 95% dedicated to brutal hardcore, brutal hardcore record reviews, brutal hardcore show reviews, brutal hardcore zine reviews, but the zine anthology is made up only of the other 5% of the zine content. This 5% of the zine takes the form of Marv reminising about growing up in the north of England in the 1980's and the mind blowingly outrageous adventures that the eight year old yet-to-be zine-maker got up to. It is a surprising approach to a zine anthology and one which makes a successful transition from zine to book. You can get a copy of the book from the Corndog website and check out a stack of other fine UK zines while you are there
Buried Alive Website
Long running master of the humorous anecdote, Marv ‘Gadgie’, has finally put together his work into book format. What follows is endless short tales of the trouble Marv has landed himself in over the years, written in such a down to earth, genuine tone, it feels like I’m sat in the pub with him. Well influential in the likes of UK personal zines, Gadgie is the one to start with, with this book being the perfect way to make up for any original issues of the zine you might have missed out on.
Not to mention the free Jim’ll fix it keyring I got with it, can’t go wrong!

Mild Peril Zine
Yep, Gadgie of Gadgie zine fame (strange that) has just released a collection of his best columns all in one lovely book that the superb Corndog has put out. Now Gadgie is well known in zine circles for writing some of the most hilarious tales of his life, the collection here literally made me laugh harder than I have done for a long, long time. You get a total of 150 pages, mainly anecdotes from his childhood, punk rock, travelling and playing in non league football teams. My personal favourite ones were from his childhood though, getting in to mischief and generally doing what boys will do. It’s the way he words things which gets me though, regular Gadgie readers know what I’m on about, those who haven’t read anything Gadgie based before, do so asap.
On t’ Road Zine
It is finally here, the long awaited book from popular zine writer Marv Gadgie. This is essentially an edited compilation of all of Marv’s best work over the years (taken from Gadgie fanzine) covering four decades and spread over 150 pages. It is full of hilarious anecdotes from Marv’s youth and recent times in Boston. Fans and non-fans of
Gadgie should definitely pick this up – go on son, he’s a good writer and it’s ony a fiver. Highly recommended.

Click here to buy 'Now then Gadgie' direct from Corndog Publishing...