Thursday, June 30, 2005

"Excuse me Little Hombre,
Take my number, call me,
I can get Squeaky so,
You can come and oil me

Definitely my favourite track at the moment and, as promised, the album is on the shelf and the tracks on my iPod.

"But if you follow me, I will follow you into the unknown,
Like Apollo, like Apollo we'll fly to the moon,
Yes if you follow me, I will follow you into the unknown,
Like Apollo, like Apollo 13 we'll explode."

The most noticeable thing here is not Bernard's guitar playing which is, at best, as good as you should expect, but Brett's lyrics. There is not one song here which uses a repeated lyric, no 'Down', no 'Picnic by the Motorway' with it's "I'm so sorry", "everything will flow". I don't know how Suede/The Tears work on tracks but the clear message you get from Brett on this is "fuck, I've got to raise my game here". These are the best lyrics we've had since that tricky Bern/Dick crossover point between Dog Man Star and Coming Up. And though a number of preoccupations are similar, 'you and me against the world', they've been expanded, we've gone beyond Europe being our playground to an acceptance that America and Asia aren't bad either, and even in the penultimate song, to the moon! This allows us to postulate that, should Brett and Bern split up again, the next, or Type Three, band that Anderson would form would do songs about slipping away with his passive girlfriend for a quiet weekend on Venus, or monolith-spotting on Europa. We could take this a stage further by asking, what would a Type ? Anderson band sound like?

In other news I've been stuck for literal days at 99% on my download for the Global Frequency. There was even something about it in the Metro paper this morning (the show, not my download). Now there's something that deserves the time and money of the Save Enterprise people much more than their wretched show. If it was a show like DS9 or Voyager then trying to save that I could understand, but Enterprise? Almost four series in and Mayweather has had precisely one and a half stories about him, Sato has had only two or three. Lieutennant Reed has similarly few although he does get to play with guns a lot. That's some seventy episodes and you can't be bothered to look at half the cast so why should we be bothered to be interested in you? Any other show that was so cavalier wouldn't even make it to the end of the first season.

Phew, just escaped being bloody Anakin Skywalker...

You scored as C-3PO.



Anakin Skywalker


Clone Trooper


Darth Vader


Mace Windu


Emperor Palpatine


Padme Amidala


General Grievous








Obi Wan Kenobi


Which Revenge of the Sith Character are you?
created with

Now Spain legalises gay marriage.

I can't see the whole article because I can't be bothered to join but I enjoyed what I was able to read. It seems that lovely Fred Phelps has moved on from not just picketing the funerals of dead queer people to picketing the funerals of straight soldiers from Iraq in Masachusetts because it's a state that has legalised same-sex unions.

On the corner of a narrow street lined with Colonial-era buildings, the Kansas contingent tried shouting its anti-homosexual message at mourners who overflowed from the church. But every time demonstrators spoke out, the 14-man Boston Police Department bagpipe band broke into thunderous sound.

Go bagpipers!

I've watched and enjoyed The Power of Nightmares when it was on British TV but here's an interesting review that critiques parts of it. However, full all that some like to point out the flaws that the review finds in the show, it does find a lot to praise in the arguments as well.

Tom Cruise now takes on anesthesia as 'dangerous and unnecessary'.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

So, much to no-one's surprise, the ID Card Bill goes through the Commons. I don't know about anyone else but I'm getting sick of hearing newspapers and reporters using phrases like 'biggest ever rebellion against the Government yet' as though they're desperate to find a bright side in a total failure. The last time there was a real bright side to bad news was probably when Nelson was killed (topical, eh?).

Charles Clarke proves he has a bright future in stand-up comedy with his joke about how ID Cards stop rather than herald the Big Brother society. Mark 'nice but dull' Oaten was right about how the Government just circle through a number of excuses for cards and as each one is disporved they just shuffle it to the back of the pack and start again. Which is probably why the Home Office wheeled out one of their more offensive minions to claim that the Government has never ever said that ID Cards 'solve' any of the problems of the country. Unfortunately life is too short for me to go searching back through several years worth of various ministers 'big up'ping ID Cards to see whether this was true or not. I'm especially disinclined because, when challenged on where the money for this is going to pay for this enormous white elephant that won't help us, he instead started insulting David Davis. Now I must admit I tend to the same sort of reaction whenever I see David Davis as well but sadly he wasn't pressed on this.

So, as someone with ill-defined left-of-centre opinions, I find I'm having to rely on the Conservatives and the unelected House of Lords to save the country. Someone is definitely taking the rizz. Still, as long as you don't mention sodomy the Lords seem quite a reasonable bunch of reactionary old loons. They probably can't stop ID Cards on their own, but they might be able to delay them long enough for the popular desire in the Commons to dissipate. Another aspect is time. ID Cards were considered vital almost two years ago. We still don't have them yet we haven't found any terrorists in this country. So shuffle 'anti-terrorism' to the back of the deck and keep it there please.

The Sun have decided to turn on ID Cards too, though their position is that it's money wasted that could be used to persecute minorities and illegal immigrants. Their fear seems to be that immigrants get hold of fake cards and officials go "but you have an ID Card, so you must be entitled to stay here! Please, you can stay in Buckingham Palace, here's the taps with obligatory hot and cold running milk and honey, and have a huge wodge of cash too" Truly, Government idiocy makes strange bedfellows of us all.

Canada okays gay marriage.

For the benefit of all of my readers (two I think, when I last checked), more holiday photos have been added and, between them, they cover most of the salient points.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

According to this article the BBC now has 150 employees blogging you'd think the BBC might want to put up a page somewhere of those employees and their blogs. But noooooo...

When librarians go bad...

Monday, June 27, 2005

Yes, I'm comfortable pointing out a short that take the rizz out of stupid girls and Star Wars. Why shouldn't I be?

Government insist Your personal data is not for sale. "You can trust us, right? What twitch? Oh, this twitch? Erm, I'm just doing my impression of Peter Sellers in Doctor Strangelove..."

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Bah, I've looked at the entire internet and am now bored. My back-up plan for this situation is to go kill Richard Whiteley.


You bastards! You just won't let me have any fun will you> Only kidding Rick. Consonant, vowel, consonant please Carol.

And it's such a nice day outside... Bunch of Tories in unsurprising 'let's be fuckheads!' non-shock.

Co-op tell Christian Voice to find another bank because they're bastards. Or charmless bigots. Of course, Christian Voice has called foul, saying that the Co-op is discriminating against Christians. That's right, all of them. You might have thought that CV was just a handful of nuts, but apparently they're every woman Christian. It's a shame that the Co-Op website does nothing to highlight the kick up the arse they've given to those that hate their fellow men and women.

UNISON come out against ID Cards plans.

Just because you think that the British Government couldn't get any more evil doesn't mean they should go out of their way to prove they can.

Personal details of all 44 million adults living in Britain could be sold to private companies as part of government attempts to arrest spiralling costs for the new national identity card scheme, set to get the go-ahead this week.

What? Wait! The fuck? The Government is desperately casting about to find a reason, any reason, to continue with legislation they've given a commitment to proceed with but which they have no rationale to continue. I know that succesive Governments have so enfeebled the unions that they have to turn in on their own members because they can't do much but ask the Government politely to stop being quite so nasty, but I didn't think the Government had lost so much of it's power to private companies that it was reduced to some sort of information sweet-shop at the train-station of business (hey, you spend a week dreaming of missing trains to get back from holiday then let's see you make a metaphor clever girl/guy).

The opening of commercial talks contradicts a promise made when the Home Office launched a public consultation on ID cards in April last year, when officials pledged that "unlike electoral registers, the National Identity Register will not be open for any general access or inspection."

See, I save time in the morning by not bothering to pretend surprise that the Government lies.

How does GlaxoShellOptimaxOdeoNewsInternationaLadyshave knowing details of my medical history/bank details/career progression help us fight the War on Terror again?

A report by the London School of Economics is to show that the card's cost to individuals will be around £200. In addition, firms could be charged up to £750 for technology that would allow them instantly to verify customers' identity through iris scanning or finger-printing, according to official documents. Whitehall insiders, who have already been passed a copy of the LSE report, say it also includes a warning by a former Nato security chief that the cards could be a "security disaster", are "too risky" to introduce, and could lead to a national meltdown in the event of a security breach of the central database.

(The LSE report gets released tomorrow)

Well, the Government could save time by giving the contract for the database to Capita because then we can start the disaster planning straight away.

The really scary things is that when Blunkett was in charge of the Home Office and could be dragged away from sucking American Conservatives toes, he seemed to have a genuine concern over data privacy. Admittedly it was an attitude akin to Smaug's opinion on dwarf gold in The Hobbit, that no-one should have it but him, but he hadn't gone as far as suggesting they sell the private information on before he quit his job. If the Government is truly thinking about this (and hey, the IoS might be wrong) they are now taking a more extreme position than Blunkett.

Told you it was scary.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Watching Alanis Morrisette's You Oughta Know on music telly. Such a top song and then she immediately went all Radio 2 like it had just been some fluke or weird sunspot-influenced activity or something.

The new Garbage song would appear to be a load of arse, as has almost everything they've done since their debut, but Shirley looks great in the video, though only as a redhead, not when she appears to be trying to do an impression of Stella McCartney...

VH1 seem to be advertising a new 'Pop Idol'-type show where the winner gets to be the lead singer of... INXS! I'm looking forward to the episode where the judges mark their technique in an illicit sexual practice... "Well Terry came up short on the bukkake but got it back with some excellent dogging"

Hurrah! New Order! True Faith! With the rotating punching bag lady doing the sign language version! And the two guys slapping one another!

Hmmm, Smells Like Teen Spirit. I can't hear this now without automatically thinking of that boot where's it's crossed with Destiny's Child.

You can tell I'm struggling to get over the end of Doctor Who can't you?

Take the MIT Weblog Survey... All over the floor.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Er, waiter? Where's the side-order of panic and terror at the concept of going on holiday out of the country? Aah, here it comes...


That's much better. Actually, I'm only at the lightly terrified stage of things, it's sort of the negative version of the anticipation you get as a child on the day before Christmas Eve, when at around 2:00 in the afternoon you think to yourself 'but tomorrow's not even Christmas Day! That's years away!'. There had been a plan at some point for me to come down to my parents yesterday and I'm glad I didn't, much as I love them dearly I needed to be in my flat until the last reasonable moment in order to avoid The Fear as long as possible.

So today I trained, bused, then trained again down to my parents (doncha just love weekend train track maintenance?). We leave at midday tomorrow to go by Taxi to Ashford to join the Eurostar. We then go somewhere, change trains, go somewhere else, stay the night, then get the train down to somewhere in Austria.

Oh sod off, I'll explain it better in retrospect when I'm back.

I think I puzzled my Dad when I explained that as far as my mind is concerned, the only thing that qualifies is when I spend the time alone in my flat, so in that sense my holiday begins when Dad takes me home Friday week. Until then I will be at varying levels of tension. This is very much a working holiday, of a kind, for me.

See you later then, but until then, go to this page from Tranniefesto, go down the page to 'Just for Fun' and enjoy the 'Orbital Versus the Latest Season' Doctor Who workout.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

I'm beginning to think we should rename the ID Card farago as 'the safety tax'. Safety is what the Government promise us we will have with the ID Card, despite admitting it doesn't do anything that would make us safe, it's universally disliked and it's price is ridiculously high. Unfortunately, unlike taxes, you couldn't presumably avoid having one simply by opting out of society and living in a cave.

But whats more, the Government has quietly admitted that they don't know how much it'll cost each UKian to have one, £93 being just the cost of making one.

Home Office minister Tony McNulty has now confirmed that figure is just the unit cost of producing a passport and ID card "based on 2005 to 2006 prices" and that the actual charge to each citizen for carrying one will depend on "future policy decisions".

More hilarious stereotypical librarian reporting.

I'm wondering how random the shuffle feature on an iPod really is. I've got almost 2200 tracks on mine, which includes the first six Blur albums, the first three Manics albums (and the greatest hits) and the last five Pulp albums, fifty tracks in and I've had two Blur tracks, (four if you include two tracks from 'Parkspliced', though that isn't indexed under Blur), two from the Manics and three in quick succession from Pulp, yet nothing from any of the five Brian Eno albums, only one from the Dandy Warhols, nothing from the six Bjork albums, nothing from the three Suede albums... and so on.

Damon Albarn criticises 'Anglo-Saxon' Live 8. Now I come to think of it, wasn't it mostly white faces at the forefront of last Christmass's awful Band Aid single, with black faces mostly harmonising at the back in the choruses? I'm quite happy to let this unsupported insinuation of racism stand rather than bothering to check my facts.

But a spokesman for Live 8 said Albarn should "check his facts" before criticising the event. "Bob Geldof's intention was to get headline-grabbing shows full of people who fill stadiums and arenas." The black artists Snoop Dogg, Ms Dynamite and Youssou N'Dour were playing at London's concert in Hyde Park, although none of these acts were in the original lineup announced on May 31.

Hmm? The Independent report of the same story goes on to quote the organisers as saying: "This is not Womad. We are not doing an arts festival" which is just fantastically snobbish. You're creating a concert in aid of a continent you think lacks any talent worthy of performing. If I remember correctly, and I accept I may not, after initial criticism of the concert line-up, Sir Bob himself tried to explain it by saying that all the black performers were already booked up for summer appearences. But seeing as Live 8 isn't directly about raising money for Africa in the way that Live Aid was, why do the organisers think headliners are only going to be white?

I'm a bit concerned about the debt write-off as it seems to be done with almost no guarentee that it will reach the people. And if it does pay off a country's debt, what's to stop the more corrupt rules from borrowing money from the big banks and putting it directly into their bank accounts and putting their country back where they started?

I've just read Natan Sharansky's The Case For Democracy in which he makes a case that the most useful thing you can do for a country is help the people within it to develop democracy. The book often mistakes autobiography and reportage for argument but I think his argument has a certain merit, although if you kill people to free them I'm not convinced you're doing them any favours. But is campaigning for debt relief the best way to help people? Would it not be better to campaign for our countries to have truly ethical foreign policies, to channel money to support opposition groups in places like Iran and Zimbabwe, to stop supporting the torturers in Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia?

Debt relief has it's part though and Sir Bob is playing a useful role in that, you can tell by the criticism he's had from teachers for telling kids to bunk school, because heaven knows those last few weeks before the summer holidays are the time when the serious teaching gets done, from police from telling people to head to Scotland, because at the moment it's an untouched rural idyll, and from News International and th Daily Mail, who have been priting scare stories about the anarchists who are going to hijack the protest.

As for The Case For Democracy it's an okay read but it's obvious to see why it's popular with Shrubya, written in the 'black and white morality' tone that he purports to follow. The world can be divided into 'free states' and 'fear states' and, as someone who suffered in the former U.S.S.R. Sharansky is in no doubt as to where his homeland and the U.S.A. fit in. Therefore, when a fear state does something that can be considered 'good', they are doing it only because of what they get out of it, if the U.S.S.R. goes along with some international treaty, it's all part of some Machiavelan game plan along their route to world domination. If a free state does something bad, such as torturing a few Arabs in a prison somewhere, then it's a regretable lapse but not that serious, because everyone else is free. Unfortunately Sharansky doesn't clearly define how many freedoms the free state has to give up to become a fear state. He has clearly decided that 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' and that as his enemy was the U.S.S.R. was his enemy, the U.S.A. and Israel must be his friend, so he's quite happy to soft-pedal (though not ignore completely) their faults. He believes what free society governments say, not what they do, so if Shrubya says he wants to free Iraqis from a dictator, that's what the U.S.A. is going in there to do, the fact that they are not welcomed by the Iraqis or the fact they secure the oil ministry and let the rest of the country go tits up or any of the many other little niggles don't really matter to Sharansky.

His thesis is sound. His biography impressive. His arguments for his case less so.

Monday, June 06, 2005

So, good evening, how the devil are you?

Things have calmed down at work, today we actually appeared to be a library, rather than a building made of students. Things got a bit busier in the afternoon but I assume that school exams have really started to get going in a meaningful way. With the exception of the mental blankspot of their mobile phones the university students are sweeties really, they are here to do revision and don't mistake the library for somewhere to go to meet morons of the opposite sex. The last two weeks have been no fun at all.

Doctor Who: The Bad Wolf. I can give you lots of theories for what it might be, but none that run along with the continuity-lite approach that Russell T. Davies has been taking. He said a month or two in to the whole thing that he'd been sprinkling the Bad Wolf meme through the show but it didn't really mean anything, then there were reports that the writer of the last episode had made changes to tie it all up. Writers have lied before, it could be all a cunning plan of misdirection. If it is, and RTD knew where he was going all along, then I think the Bad Wolf was the Doctor, last Saturday's episode Boomtown was about the collatoral damage the Doctor leaves behind, plus he must have some bad karma to work off for all the deaths he holds himself responsible for in the great Time War. The main problem with this is that he's up against the Daleks, the new improved twice-as-deadly ones and, if they are all souped up and ready to dance, I can't see them as being overly concerned with having a philosophical debate with him. It may turn out to be not much at all.

Had the parents come to visit yesterday. They brought me a new office chair that I can use when I'm on the computer and took me shopping. This time next week I'll be in Central Europe somewhere, stopping overnight en route to Austria. After my freakout in Manchester last August I'm a little bit concerned with how I'll react to going somewhere so far away from home that I can't travel there in one day, the number of days of my life when that's happened amount to less than a month. But at the same time I'm looking forward to it. I'm quite a good traveller, it's just my fellow traveller's that I have a problem with. I think I could probably go anywhere in the world, it's just that when I'm somewhere else it's difficult to find a space to be on my own that feels secure. My safe space is anywhere I can cocoon myself.

But on the other hand: Adventure! Trains! Austria! Wheee!

We experimented yesterday hooking my camera up to Dad's laptop and it works fine. We're taking the laptop so I may commandere it for stretches and right something that I can put in this blog when I get back. Or I might not. I seem to be going through a period of not updating my personal journal at the moment, so doing it twice might not be happening. On the other hand (again), a change of routine might be what I need to get writing again.

The work blog is going well. You'll have to take my word for that. I've had to create a seperate ID for my writing for that, seems my managers weren't too happy at the idea of a member of the public looking at the blog, then making his way to my blog and reading me saying "bollocks!" or some such. Feh. I've set up a couple of my coworkers to keep it going while I'm on leave, I found to my surprise that I'm very protective of it and had to bite back the urge to watch them intently whenever they post something and micromanage every last semicolon.

Mock the Week: First episode last night, wasn't very good. It's Have I Got News For You mixed with Whose Line is it Anyway. Or at least, the bad bit of each format. However, most of it's flaws can be fixed. Firstly, get rid of Rory Bremner. He was easily the best thing about the show, but he's out of place. For some reason Bremner is convinced that people only watch him for impressions, so when he's doing an improvisational show like this or Whose Line..., he does everything through the mask of one of his characters, even when he doesn't need to. This causes a clash when no-one else on the show does good impressions. This makes him stand out.

Secondly, for half the rounds the contestants have to go over to a 'performance area' to our left of where they are seated. Through the magic of television this can be made to take no time at all, but it looks clunky, especially when chairman Dara O'Briain has to 'shout over' with instructions. And then when they've done whatever they went over there to do, they come back. A better design would be to remove their desks and put them on stools, Blind Date-style, and have the 'performance area', if it's really needed (and nothing last night made me think it really was) be in front of them. It just looks nicer.

Those two changes alone would make it a much better show. The other main thing it will need is time. QI started rather poorly and improved very quickly, Mock the Week could do the same. At the moment it lacks something distinctive, it needs it's tub of lard or it's 'Alan Davies getting everything wrong'. When it's found that, it's away.

Branston brand pickled onions in Branston's pickle are fucking disgusting.

So it is, so mote it be. Or something.

Popgasms to get you to work this morning: Colonel Blimp, lovely people putting up their videos for you to gander at, including the most recent one by the Chems (I initially didn't like the song or the video, I'll have to check it again now that I like the track and see whether that changes my impression of the video), Dizzee Rascal's Listen-With-Mother-tastic Happy Talk and Goldie Lookin' Chain, including Gun's Don't Kill People, Rappers Do and Your Mother's Got a Penis, which I really shouldn't like, but I can't stop meself. Officer. I wasn't even aware that there was a video for The Tears' Refugees.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

I keep thinking at some point of starting a bar down the right hand side of my blog called 'Piracy Sells Music' in which I list all the albums I've downloaded, and then tick them off as I buy valid real copies in the shops. Only the fear that as well as the four of you that read me I'll suddenly get that arsehole who works for the BMI (or is the BMJ? BDA? hang on, "Lemming, Lemming, Lemming of the BDA..." okay, scratch the last one) turn up and take me to court stops me. But anyway, if I had such a feature, MIA's Arular and now The Tears' Here Come The Tears would be on it, in the 'I've downloaded this and I'll be buying it sometime in the next month' category.

It took me a few listens to 'get' MIA, to realise I was wrong in what I was categorising as amateurish. And it's like one of those trick-eye pictures, on the first listen all I got was the static, after that I realised it was a carnival disguised as the Radiophonic Workshop.

The Tears are much more my usual territory so much quicker to like. One listen this afternoon in fact. It's like travelling back in time, more specifically the album opens with songs that sound like they are from Suede's Coming Up, minus the keyboards of Neil Codling, with the odd dash of Dog Man Star. And for the first time in several albums Brett Anderson is writing decent lyrics again, if this album comes with a lyric sheet hold them up to Head Music and note the difference. His preoccupation with verses where the same words are repeated as though that is some signifier of deepness has been drastically turned down and we're back to the old preoccupations of sex and escape. It's ironic that when Bernard Butler left Suede Dicky Oakes was brought in to try and mimic his sound, on this album Bernard sounds remarkably like him. The south is rising.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Another script taking the piss out of Revenge of the Sith. I'm off to try and find someone who liked RotS...

Who was that anonymous borrower? To avoid the PATRIOT Act, some American librarians are considering keeping no information on their patrons at all. It's an interesting idea. We used to take £30 deposits when new users wanted to take books out straight away and there was a delay of a day or two between them filling out a library card and an account being generated on the system.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Guys, charm that special woman in your life with a light sabre dildo. (This is, fairly obviously, NSFW)

Geoff Hoon, who didn't actually read anything that might have warned him that there were any problems at all about going to kill people in Iraq, demands the nation's respect. The nation titters.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Is this viral marketing gone wrong or are we supposed to think this guy's a smug twat? A smug twat.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Okay, fair warning, this is very long and I do go a bit Comic Book Guy. Sorry. If this doesn't interest you why not read this interesting article about consistency in science-fiction TV and film?

Oh, and heap big spoilers.

Ouch. In the end, all there is, is the suckness of one.

Revenge of the Sith. Could I be talking about anything else? I'm actually now in a dilemma as I try to work out what sucks more, Star Wars or Star Trek. I mean, Enterprise is struggling for that title but I think Wars edges home the leader, though as they both represent the most base and conservative elements in science-fiction today we all end up losing.

If we consider Revenge of the Sith as two films then it becomes more obvious where the problems lie. The half of the film that is a story that you could watch never knowing or caring that there were more parts to follow, starts off at good and goes downhill. The half of the film that is part of the overarching six-part epic of toss, that sets up episode four, is awful and plunges to such depths that you'd be willing to sell your soul to any religion or belief system, even Scientology, if they could just take the memories of this film out of your head, no matter how, and the quicker the better. George Lucas seems to be claiming sole writing credit for this disaster and everyone knows that his scripts are worse even than those of the Vogons*, and God knows I'm wishing for a fleet of them to come along and destroy this planet before Lucas can infect the galaxy.

The opening half-hour is the best as, straight from the end of the Clone Wars cartoon (which we'll ignore as it wasn't that good), Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin 'babykiller' Skywalker rush to save the Emperor 'secretely evil' Palpatine from asthmatic cyborg General Grievous (or Devious or some other bit of truly inspired nomeclature from George 'I'm thinking of changing my name to Bestest Writer Ever Lucas to see if it helps' Lucas) and Count 'a bit shit' Dooku. I will admit, this bit looks amazing, there's a true sense of scale here that you don't often get on screen, similar to the large shots of the armies in Return of the King or that iconic first image from Star Wars itself, of the imperial ship that just keeps going on and on, filling up more of the screen.

This is the best part of the film. This is the only good part of the film. This report says that Hayden Christensen is considering giving up acting. This is quite plainly false, as RotS proves that he never started. But when you've got someone that makes the product of a Canadian logging company look expressive and you stick a Lucas script in front of him, it's like handing a suicidal person a gun with all six chambers loaded and telling him to try and survive a game of Russian roulette. Christensen sucks. Lucas sucks. Together they create... the uber-suck.

With the Chancellor safe things calm down for a while so we can have some character work. Sickbags to the ready.

I watched Attack of the Clones last weekend in preparation for this. There is some sort of neurological or psychological disorder that makes sufferers believe that their close friends and relatives are not who they say they are and are in fact imposters. I get that in the middle of Attack..., right at the point when Senator Amidala (no costume to ridiculous) out of the blue starts fancying Anakin. Ten minutes previously she's reminising about seeing him as a boy and reprimanding him for disagreeing with her, he comes over like an overeager pubescent schoolboy in first crush mode and she swoons. That scene should have been staged with Anakin standing behind a curtain... "Anakin, come out here." "Jesus, not... yet! I'm just polishing my lightsabre!"

So Padme tells Anakin she's up the duff. As one the stomachs of the audience somersault as they collectively imagine Christensen's face above them, at the moment of ejaculation. This film will turn straight women into lesbians and gay men into straights, just so they will never EVER face the extremely unlikely possibility of having sex with Hayden Christensen. Now, on the subject of Padme's pregnancy, she tells the baby murderer of Coruscant that she's pregnant. A short while later she's starting to show. Now, I'll possibly accept that several months pass between Anakin's rescue of the Chancellor and when things start to heat up again, though nothing is shown or said to make us think times has passed. But at the climax of the film Padme boards a ship looking five months pregnant to fly to the planet where Anakin is busy earning his 'killing everything that moves' Scout badge. When she leaves the planet, unconscious, she's suddenly nine months pregnant. Now, she is carrying twins, but they don't grow that fast. There's some wiffle earlier in the film about the Force being able to affect life, extending it and tampering with the very whatnot of creation, but if that's what's happened to her, if boffing the baby-slicer causes an excellerated pregnancy or his attack on her when she arrives at the end causes this, shouldn't someone mention it? Shouldn't Threepio have a line about "goodness me Mistress Padme, you're looking more beachball-like than you were half an hour ago"?

So, Anakin and Padme have been having good, clean, Republican-approved sex and the inevitable has happened. Anakin has premonitionary dreams that Padme will die in childbirth and does what any sensible husband and father-to-be would do, he turns psychotically evil and starts murdering everyone, including a passel of Jedi babies (yes, this has been sticking in my mind somewhat. Did you notice?). While Obi-Wan goes off to find Wheezius and break his inhaler Palpatine seduces Anakin (not like that! God, that's even more disgusting than the idea of Padme and Anakin doing it!) by making him his envoy to the Jedi council. For some reason the Jedi council is suspicious of Palpatine and don't believe that he'll give up his emergency powers when the war is over. Mace 'who's the black jedi who's a sex machine to all the chicks?' Windu is especially suspicious of both Palpatine and Anakin. This is more of the odd. In the middle of Attack Windu was lukewarm to Anakin, since then they've fought in that war against the Trade Federation, Anakin has been a squad leader in the Clone Wars (which are canon, even if only the more absolute fans would have bothered watching them), graduated as a Jedi and rescued Palpatine and Obi-Wan, killing Dooku** in the process, and Windu still doesn't like Anakin? Maybe Windu is scared that the only brother on the Jedi Council is going to be replaced by Whitey. Maybe he really hates overachievers. Before heading off to spend some time with the Wookies Yoda mutters something about how the prophecy that Anakin brings balance to the Force might have been 'misinterpreted'. Great, a supreme and wise Jedi master and this only occurs to him now?! You can view the film two ways, either the prophecy IS wrong because Anakin kills everyone or it's right because Anakin kills everyone. George Lucas finally finds a way not to lose.

Palpatine takes this moment to reveal to Anakin that he is the big dark Sith Lord they've been worrying about for around fifteen freaking years. Anakin is shocked by this, as am I. No, really. I assumed that George Lucas would be writing the first three films believing that everyone would have seen the second three, so as soon as Palpatine's name is mentioned in Episode 1 everyone would pause momentarily from saying "Isn't this film crap?" to say "Ooh, that's the guy that's the Emperor". I assumed that the reason Darth Sidious wasn't seen clearly in the first two films was because it was going to be a surprise to everyone who'd seen the second three movies too, an evil twin perhaps or a malignant force that posessed the Chancellor. I didn't expect that Darth Sidious would actually turn out to be just Chancellor Palpatine. I didn't think George Lucas would write the story assuming people hadn't seen the second set of movies. Although, in my defense, I don't think the references to the Death Star in Episodes Two and Three would make any sense at all to anyone who didn't know Episodes Three to Six.

Shocked, Anakin goes and tells Windu. Again, this surprised me as by this point I presumed that Lucas had decided that Anakin had gone over to the Dark Side. The whole 'Anakin being seduced by the Dark Side' plot in Episode Three is much like the 'Anakin and Padme fall in love' plot in Episode Two, it has no relationship to how real people interact and is just there because it has to happen. But Anakin squeels to Windu. And despite having been really down on him, Windu believes him and goes off to confront Palpatine, telling Anakin to stay behind.

Windu and Palpatine fight, it's not nearly as exciting as Maul versus Jinn and Kenobi in Episode 1. It ends with Windu holding a lightsabre to Palpatine's head and Palpatine doing the blue-electric bolts of death thing which has the side-effect of making him look like he does in Episodes Five and Six. Therefore with good and evil stalemated we need a tie-breaker... And unsurprisingly Anakin turns up. He agonises over who to side with (or needs the toilet, the facial expressions are much the same) then chops Windu's arm off, allowing Palpatine to bolt him out of the window (though, as in Episode Six, we never see a body, so he might not be dead). With his loyalty thus proved Palpatine renames Anakin Darth Vader and sends him off to destroy the Jedi HQ. This is an advantage of having already made Episodes Four to Six, in that Lucas is unable to use his current method of naming villains, or else Anakin might have ended up as Darth Petulant, or Darth SmallPenis.

In terms of Anakin's motivation for taking up full time evil as a career, Lucas does try to throw everything at us in the hopes something will stick. There's Anakin's complete inability to follow his instructions, the fact that he's convinced everyone hates him despite the fact he's got a hot lady for a wife and is on the Jedi council, which has never happened to someone as young as him before. There's the story Palpatine tells him about the Sith Lord that became so powerful he could cheat death (I read it as implied that Palpatine was this Sith Lord's student but that may be too much), so maybe he's going to the Dark Side in order to save Padme when she goes into childbirth (it seems that in a galaxy and long time away they can build you replacement limbs should you get anything chopped off but should you be going through the miracle of childbirth then you're on your own). Maybe he's doing it because he can't tell the difference between the democratically elected Senate and the undemocratic Empire that the Chancellor replaces it with. Maybe he genuinely doesn't see any difference between being a Jedi and being a Sith (and the babykilling seems to be thrown in there to try and make us think there's a difference, because take away a lot of the ends and there isn't much difference between the Jedi and the Sith). Or maybe he's the body of an early twenty year old with the brain and attitudes of a fourteen year old ("why can't I be a Jedi Master? Ugh, I hate you that's SO unfair!").

The Chancellor makes a few phone calls and suddenly the Clone Army turns on the Jedi that they've been fighting alongside. Cue the end of all the Jedi except Yoda, who manages to escape. Is this something that has been designed into the clones since they were made on that watery planet we saw in Episode Two? Or is it something that the Chancellor installed in his troops since then? Who knows, we certainly don't after watching this film. But to be fair, it's a minor point.

Anakin storms the Jedi Monastary with a load of clones and kills everyone there, though all we see is him going into a room with a load of kids in and then Obi-Wan later going on about how the younglings have been killed. Considering how so much of the Star Wars franchise has been about getting money from impressionable children (and adults who should know better) I'd like to make a point that psychologically, at this point Lucas has taken everything he thinks he can get from the children and Anakin killing them all is a metaphor for Lucas killing the children in all of us with these crap three films. There, piece of piss. Mark Kermode, you am pwned!!1! Next up he has to go kill off those not-Chinese at all Trade Federation guys. This is obviously Palpatine throwing his new student a bone, as they have tried to kill him on two seperate occasions.

Obi-Wan has despatched the frankly crap General Grievous. The fight scene between them is somewhat less than epic. It starts badly with Grievous saying he learnt lightsabre fighting from Count Dooku, which isn't really much of a boast considering as how Count Dooku is dead from two lightsabres to the throat. Even though it wasn't Obi-Wan who killed Dooku it is a bit like fighting someone who said they learnt their battle strategy from General Custer. Then his men turn on him, which irritates him slightly. Obi-Wan escapes the planet and meets up with Yoda and Senator Organa, played by Jimmy Smits. He's also escaped from being killed by clones, though quite why they try to kill him is unclear. He's not a special enemy of Palpatine, in fact he's hanging around with him at the end of Episode Two and the start of Episode Three. And, if memory serves, Palpatine doesn't do away with the Senate until the start of either Episode Four or Five. Is Palpatine getting rid of those people close to him who he cannot trust? Is it a plot hole? Anyway, Senator Orgone Energy escapes. Obi-Wan and Yoda head to Jedi Central where Obi-Wan sees security footage of Anakin pledging his allegiance to Palpatine. Now, the Jedi Council has been suspicious of Palpatine for a while, but if they have his rooms under surveilance, how come they've never seen him talking with Grievous, Dooku or Darth Maul? Earlier they asked Anakin to spy on Palpatine, yet it seems no-one thought to check the tapes.

So Obi-Wan is extremely angry at Anakin, though mainly it seems because he killed the kids, and goes to Padme to try and find out where he's gone. She refuses to give him up but then obligingly flies off to find him, with Obi-Wan hiding on her ship. They arrive on some volcanic planet just after Anakin has killed everyone and it's about now that Padme goes from being five months pregnant to nine. She realises that Anakin is now loony and he realises that she isn't, which means he slaps her around a bit ranting that she's betrayed him. Then Obi-Wan climbs out of the ship and they fight. it's like a big can of fight and we're all invited. On Coruscant Yoda goes to Palpatine's office and they fight too. They take it upstairs to the empty Senate chambers and fight some more, with Palpatine chucking senate pods at Yoda. This doesn't really have any effect with the battle ending when they seem to get too knackered to fight any more, Palpatine senses that Anakin is in trouble and flies off to help him, Yoda senses that he is in trouble and saves his little green arse by running away.

Anakin and Obi-Wan fight in one of those 'to the death' deals. They're fighting on s kind of oil rig structure standing in the middle of what Doctor Evil would call < finger motions > 'mag-ma'. As they fight the platform starts to collapse into the 'mag-ma', and drift towards a waterfall or, more accurately, a 'mag-ma'fall. They continue to fight, not letting imminent scorchy death put them off, until Obi-Wan is on solid ground and Anakin isn't. He tries to jump over Obi-Wan, and doesn't make it. Or rather, pieces of him do, his one remaining arm, his two legs. The bulk of him lands in front of Obi-Wan, by the seashore ('mag-ma'shore). And then he catches on fire too! Excellent! Take that Hayden Christensen for ruining two perfectly good fil- two barely adequate films with your 'forty varieties of forest pine' acting! If only I could do that to the fatbeard that created you and ruined my life by making me think of you having sex! And Anakin, now that there is less of you, do you think you'd finally be able to get over yourself, Darth Doorstop?It's interesting to remember what Obi-Wan says to Luke in Episodes Four and Six, he claims Vader killed Luke's father and that then by joining the Emperor Vader effectively killed his father. This film would tend to suggest that the answer to Luke's question "Who killed my father?" is actually "Obi-Wan, mostly".

On the grounds that Anakin now has no limbs and is highly flammable, Obi-Wan feels rather justified in leaving him to die and hightailing it to a cooler part of the galaxy in Padme's ship. Of course, this is when the Emperor turns up and collects the cripy remains. Despite the fact that the Force is supposed to run through the mitichlorians in the blood and Anakin doesn't have much of it what with having no limbs and being deep fried, it seems the Emperor still wants him. Which is sweet really. Consider, maybe the Emperor IS the student of this Sith Lord that conquered death, or is that Sith Lord himself. Anakin's mother in Episode One said he was an immaculate conception, so hmmm?

So, on Coruscant the Doctors take one look at Anakin and decide the best medical course of action is to dress him in black and get James Earl Jones to speak for him. Yes, the Darth we know and love is here. And it's ironic to consider that, with Jones voice, Anakin finally sounds like he's gone through puberty. However, watching The Empire Strikes Back it always seemed that Darth Vader's habit of killing anyone that looked at him funny was evidence of malevolence, after the first three films it will always seem to be the act of a teenager who is annoyed because he doesn't get his way. The Emperor tells him that Padme is dead (presumerably to cement Vader's loyalty to him)

Meanwhile, somewhere else, which I assume is Anodyne or whatever the name of that place that Princess Leia is from, Padme is also on her way out. Yes, it seems that there are two things that far away medicine is crap at, childbirth and broken hearts (of the metaphorical kind, I presume if it was an actual broken heart then docs could do something about it in a jiffy). She pops out Luke and Leia, then snuffs it. Obi-Wan, Yoda and Senator Organa meet up to decide what to do. Yoda decides he's had enough and will retire. That leaves the question of the kids. Now, based on what the Emperor and Vader say, we can assume they don't know the kids are alive. We have to take it on faith that for twenty years Vader goes around being nasty for the Emperor and never says "By the way, I had her in the family way, I wonder if the children made it?". But of course Yoda, Obi-Wan and Organa don't know that and have to assume the kids must be hidden. So why on earth do they think the best places to hide them are in the family of a Senator who will be around the Emperor quite a bit and with a family on the planet that Darth Vader comes from and not change Luke's name? Unless Skywalker is the equivelent of Smith a long way ago...

The answer of course, is that this is the state of play at the start of Episode Four, before Lucas had decided that Luke and Leia were related, before he'd created Yoda, before he knew Darth Vader was their Dad. And this is what I meant at the start, that the parts of this film that are just to set up the next three films are rubbish in the somersaults they have to go through to make something that looks similar to our earth logic. So Organics takes Leia, and Artoo and Threepio too, though rather callously he orders Threepio's memory to be wiped. This is because otherwise Threepio should know a lot more about what is going on than he does in the next three films but now suggests that Artoo is keeping a lot of secrets from him as he seems to stay intact.

And then some weirdness. Apropos of absolutely nothing, Yoda suggests that, as Obi-Wan Kenobi is going to be spending the next twenty years living in a cave he's going to need something to do to pass the time. Well, it seems that Yoda has got some messages over the ether from Kenobi's dear departed mentor, Qui-Gonn Liam Neeson. It seems Neeson has defeated death too, and Yoda tells Obi-Wan he'll quickly teach him how to contact him. This is presumably to set up Obi-Wan for his death and future existence as a Ghost of Christmas Past in the second trilogy, which makes no sense as all other Jedi have died in the regular manner. Whether it's deliberately supposed to sound like this Dark Lord who beat death or not I have no idea, but as this is supposedly it for the Star Wars universe I wonder whether Lucas has any idea for where this goes or whether he's just emptying his drawer marked 'ideas' before the film closes. No, can't be that, he ran out of ideas at the end of Return of the Jedi.

The film closes with Darth, the Emperor and someone who does look like a young Peter Cushing looking out at the construction of a Death Star. Which means they took some twenty years to build the first Death Star but then got the second one half-completed in less than two. Presumably the destruction of the first Death Star took with it all the lazy chippies that took so long building that.

So, what else is there to say? Ian McDiarmid owns the film again as the Emperor, though once he becomes openly villainous he becomes forty percent less interesting as a character. Lucas shows once again that he can't write dialogue for shit and that he seems to have no understanding of how human beings work and doesn't trust them. The second and third Matrix films were bad, but at least the Wachowskis gave their heroes chances to be heroic, most of the characters here don't get that. Ewan McGregor tries hard with what he has, but a lot of what he has is as second banana to Anakin. I spent most of the film wanting to pop the spot on his forehead, I hope he gets that seen to before the next film he's in. Natalie portman has even less to do other than stand around looking radiant while her character fails to notice her husband is going mental. It's hard to tell whether Hayden Christensen is a crap actor or just adrift without help from Lucas (a little from box a...) I'm sure viewers aren't supposed to feel like cheering when Anakin gets sliced and diced. Once again Lucas surrounds those annoying flesh and blood things he has to work with with as many special effects as he can, this leads to the climatic duel between Anakin and Obi-Wan seeming extremely anti-climactic because we've been stupefied into submission by overwhelming visual stimuli. We were promised a film as dark as Empire Strikes Back and it is rather bleak, but Empire had characters with arcs and journeys, Revenge of the Sith is like a kid clearing away his toys, when Palpatine tells Anakin to kill Dooku, Dooku looks astonished at him, he could be looking towards Lucas, thinking "We had so much fun playing together last time, now I'm not good enough for you?". To use another analogy, Dooku is Woody and Count Grievous is Buzz Lightyear, but like him is plastic and less hardwearing. He has no presence (genuinely) and by playing him as a robot with a cough he seems weak from the get go.

The middle section with Anakin being seduced to the Dark Side is, amongst other faults, too quick. As I said, we have so many reasons suggested that it makes no sense that he should turn evil, and we've known since before the start that Anakin would turn to the Dark Side. The various lightsabre duels don't seem as interesting here as they have done in the past.

It's interesting that Star Trek has also come unstuck in the prequels business, though such is the way of Wars that even if the promos for it had Lucas giving a precis of the plot and then saying "don't come and see this film, seriously, I made it and I think it's shit" it would still break records. All I can say is, if you haven't seen it yet, there's Bittorent out there now, use that. If you feel you must see it then for god's sake, pirate it. It's really bad.

* Yes, I know they wrote poetry. But if they wrote poetry they almost certainly had a thriving film industry too. They've long been in our political system, look at Cyril Smith and Nigel Lawson.

** And did Christopher Lee look at the script and go "let me get this straight, another franchise where I do a lot in the second film and then am only in the thirs one briefly? You just better not cut me out this time Lucas, it's not me I'm thinking of but those pixels that make up the battle droids are just starting out in the business and need all the help they can get..."

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