Tuesday, 12 October 2010

New! Free Horoscopes with Dr Emma


I'm Emma Glynd and I'm excited to tell you I'll be divining your horoscopes here at roomwithaloo.  But first, a little about me! 

When did I first realise I had the gift of extrasensory perception? I didn't! It was my mother, who was amazed when, as a young girl, I felt a strong "knowing" that my cat at the time, Roger, would go missing. 

I have always enjoyed helping people, and so naturally when I became aware of my special abilities I knew I would use them to empower my nurturing instincts. I therefore opened a psychic practice in Brighton called Foresighted. It continues to guide its many clients through life's sometimes choppy waters, removing the clouds that, for many of you, occlude (cover up) the futuretime (time which has not yet come to pass). If you're in the area, do pop in for a detailed personal reading. 

How have I become a respected psychic and a doctor of astrological science? I've had to prove my abilities in a laboratory, and I've also studied the planets' movements and their effects on our spiritselves for many years, in detail. These skills now enable me to share with you your future, identifying opportunities yet to arise and, just as importantly in these difficult times, letting you know about problems which may be waiting around the corner so you can prepare yourself and your loved ones.

Of course it's true that non-personal readings can't be as specific as personal sessions, but nonetheless I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at just how accurate my horoscopes are!


Dr Emma


It is a time of great change, but try not to leave old friends behind as you forge ahead with an exciting opportunity. They are trustworthy and their counsel will be valuable.    


You have poured your heart into organising the office party and it won't go without reward. The music you picked will get everybody bopping! A flood of emails are bound to follow, all attesting that it was the best party they've been to this year. Try to make the most of your good fortune by wearing antiperspirant, because you sweat when you're complimented. 


Your arms will be sheared off in a car crash. 


Mars spins backwards tonight, which means you must be thrifty with expenditure on household items, especially toothpaste. Ensure everyone who uses it squeezes out only a pea's worth, so that the paste covers no more than a quarter of the bristles (confiscate any unusually large-headed toothbrushes). Limit the height of the dab of paste to 5mm, taking care that no extra paste has been squished down between the bristles. If it has, take your measurement from the lowest point of the paste. Punish transgressors by washing off the paste into the sink (having inserted the plug), and returning it to the tube. Require the offender to brush their teeth using just the residue of toothpaste (if any) left on the washed bristles. 


It's a good time to redecorate this week, now that your home zone stars are in the ascendancy. 


A walk through the park on Sunday will be spoiled by a shooting.  


The sun and Mercury sit side by side this week, which means your temperature zone is untrustworthy. Although you already feel warm, you are actually quite cold. Buy at least four thick jumpers and wear them all at the same time from now on. When you begin to feel faint, have a sip of water.


The family dinner will pass without incident until Gran asks why your children have not eaten the rind of their ham, which will cause tension. Your eldest will try to swallow it down, but your youngest will refuse. Your husband will tell off Gran and remark that the children, unlike your own generation, are not war babies. She will fall silent, refuse pudding and insist on driving herself home, but not before remarking that Eve from the bridge club says her son, a colleague of your husband, has been promoted, whereas it appears your husband has not. Your husband will interject that Gran must be careful not to lose control of her car, or pass away in the night.


With Venus in retrograde, old flames will be rekindled. Fend off your uncle with whatever you can find. 


The vegetables are out of control and need to be picked. Give them to your loud neighbour as a peace offering. Mention that you can hear him running his bath late at night, every night, and it is preventing you from sleeping. Keep bringing him vegetables every day until he stops running his baths. Make sure you provide a variety, and point out the different types. If he stops answering the door, throw them over the fence, and slip a note in his letterbox explaining that you tried to ring.


The shadow of Venus is falling across the third quarter of Saturn this month, so you will develop a permanent limp in both legs within the hour, leading to a highly noticeable degree of side-to-side swinging as you walk. This will result in bruising to the sides of your head whenever you attempt to negotiate narrow alleyways.  Also, children will start calling you The Pendulum.


You've been searching for someone who brings grated cheese on a first date. If you change your route home so you cross the canal bridge, your dream man will be inhaling from a plastic bag in the shadowy gloom below. Bring a Pritt Stick and don't agree that you remind him of Elise.

Friday, 8 October 2010

At last! A cure for the common cold that really works!

A great way to deal with a crisis is to be slightly ill when it happens. Then you couldn't give a damn if you just die. While everyone else gets on their heads and spins round in a panic, you sit, and watch, rheumy-eyed and unimpressed. The screams are muffled. The implications of the broken jar of Ebola and imminent nuclear strike fail to penetrate your cotton-wool brain. "Do I care that I'm bankrupt, my house has burnt down and I've accidentally uploaded footage of myself treating a carpet of hamsters like bubble wrap? Yes, but only because now I don't have a couch and all I want to do is lie down. I've got a completely blocked nose."

For its duration, illness makes you aware of your body. You only know you have a throat when every gulp is blocked by a boiling pebble. Eyes. I didn't know I had eyes until they started bulging out of their holes and watering constantly. And drugs are a paltry treatment. Are they really the best we can do? Even our tiny-brained, brow-heavy forebears ate stuff to make themselves feel better. Witch Hazel, that sounds about right. And bear nuts, two an hour, no more than 10 in a 12 hour period.  But we're ages later than them. We're advanced. And we're still just swallowing stuff to make ourselves feel better? Rubbish. I want the young and foolish, now, to offer me their throat and eyes. Their healthy, young throat and eyes. We will simply exchange them until mine are well again. Then we will swap them back. All for a very reasonable fee, enough, say, for them to buy some paracetamol, with a little extra on top for a Hotwheels or a Bratz.

And think of those under-worked, struck-off surgeons, desperate for a little bit of pro rata slicing to keep them in bibs and wetwipes. Well now they have a chance. You simply locate and buzz the nearest donor on your FrankenMine App, go to the Medibooth on the corner and voila, one general anesthetic later you have a brilliant, healthy new hand, leaving a pecuniarily-enhanced needy person with a sprained wrist to work off. It's only for passing illnesses, though, like a common cold. You can't take a child's heart for keeps, just because yours is a pressed leaf in two litres of stiff chip fat. We're not dropping death bombs into the open wounds of the poor here. It's ethical, this, it's not black market.

Of course we'd all end up looking like big Mary Shelley fans, and have to undergo what in reality would be major operations for minor, temporary ailments, but do I care? No. I have a slight cough.

For you!

For me!
For us!
For you.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

The House that Ben Built, and the Other Houses he Built, forming a Town, called The Town (a review of The Town)

Ben Affleck
If Oscar Wilde were alive today, he would be very, very old. And if he were young, he'd probably be lassoing twinks with one hand and tweeting delicious bon mots with the other.

But if he wasn't doing that, he might throw together a reimagining of The Picture of Dorian Gray, called The Moving Pictures of Benjamin Affleck. In it, Benjamin Affleck is an affable, self-deprecating interviewee and a man who generally conducts himself in a thoroughly likeable manner both professionally and personally.

Ben Affleck
But, Oscar would write, he has a terrible secret. For in his movies, the dark parts of Benjamin Affleck's soul are exposed to all those who dare gaze upon them. Despite being a pleasant chap in real life, on film he appears incredibly smug and huge-faced. As time passes, so these distortions grow. Each successive attempt to play a hero is met with more and more audience members screaming in fury at his huge, smug face. It grows larger and smugger with every release. Soon crowds are scrambling to pluck out their own eyes to lob at the screen, right in the chin dimple of his smug, huge face. Until one day the rotten head wobbles away so hugely, so smugly, that cinema-goers poo out their skeletons during the opening scene. In a rage, Benjamin vaults the jellied corpses of his audience and chins his image, ripping through it. The police arrive. For the first time a bearable, modest Benjamin acts away on screen. But on the auditorium floor lies his corpse, sporting a grossly distended head and a smug, huge grin. The cops vom in horror.

Ben Affl├ęck
It was with this expectation that I sat down for The Town. Opening credits. Fade up. Here he is. Oh goodness. So huge-faced, so - but what's this? I waited for the hatred to flood my system but, like meeting my real parents, to my surprise I felt nothing. No desire to break all my bones in under one minute to ease their passage through my rectum. I put down the ball-peen hammer. Yes, the face was still pretty massive and seemed to wobble away just above the audience in some kind of unauthorized 3D and yes, Ben Affleck appeared to throb with the effort of acting humble. But he pulls it off. He has to play the most miserable man in Borwahston to achieve it, but he pulls it off.

I haven't seen Gone Baby Gone, but The Town is better because it has fewer missing kids and more rubber nun masks. The plot? It's one last job complicated by old loyalties and a loose cannon. It's Heat-lite. Where Heat has a narrative that draws you deep into the lives of both the cops and the robbers, this is a breezier, simpler story, and one that whole-heartedly follows the crims.

It's shot and acted solidly and rips along to a satisfying denouement in which (spoiler alert) the gang nick the score to Heat's climactic bank heist. And a bit from another film. Which you'll spot. Unless you don't. In which case, steal and then watch the movies from which the stills of Ben Affleck in this post are pulled. For one of them holds the answer. If you're caught, simply explain that whenever a man does a thoroughly stupid thing, it is always from the noblest motives. That's what Oscar said and he only got 4 years, for sodomy.
Ben Affleck

Monday, 27 September 2010

Solomon Caine, blowing the medieval bloody doors off

Abel Iscariot.
Eve Jezebel.
Jesus Moses.
Goliath Sodom.

Ok, so the last two don't work so well, but generally speaking, if you slap a couple of biblical proper nouns together you begat a pretty tasty name for a moody hero. Enter Solomon Kane, galloping out of the dead mind of Conan-creator Robert E Howard, off a short theatrical run, and finally to rest perchance to dream at £3.00 a pop on dvd.

Solomon begins the film as a hirsute bad man, a medieval soldier-cum-treasure hunter looking to fillet some heathens in a foreign land and steal their filthy lucre. He doesn't give a crap about you, and will happily let his men get skewered and burnt and assaulted by goblins so long as he gets his gold. That is, until he gets a scare from Satan's bogeyman. Having mightily shat his pantaloons Solomon vows to be nice From Now On, because if he isn't, apparently he shows up on the devil's radar and hell goons will stuff him into a tennis ball and bounce him at Cerberus for all eternity.

Duly chastened, Solomon tries to lay low in a monastery back in wintry England, where he presumably indulges in monkish activities like writing out bibles, tending cabbages and the untrammelled abuse of the young. Unfortunately his colourful past and hairy ways cause disquiet amongst the bald brethren and he is sent packing. Here begineth the film.

Solomon is played by James Purefoy and he is good. Sometimes the lead actor in this type of low-to-mid budget film is no good, so they set the dial to cheesy, in which case you get vommed on with brie for 2 hours. Or they're too good, and you can see them retching out their lines, consumed with self-disgust as they soil their muse for that claw-foot bath with the free hoes, and you feel used, with no hope of scrubbing away the memories in hot soapy water, surrounded by period detail and whores. Mr Purefoy doesn't annoy, and appears to be taking the gig seriously. Or does a good enough job that you can't tell.

And it's a serious business, because all is not mud and frost in England. Soon after hooking up with Pete Postlethwaite (looking marvellously like a tramp carved by Easter Islanders) and his missionary family for a cross-country pilgrimage, a whole shower of evil supernatural poop hits the fan, drenching Solomon and all those about him. Will Solomon swallow the beatings, murdering of innocents and humiliating name-calling without breaking his code of peace? Or will he risk damnation and spit it out for truth, justice and the puritan way? The latter.

The production designer coats everything in either rags or manure, then adds snow, an extra shot of manure, and sprinkles on some bristles. The director then shoots it through a filter made of soil, so we are in no doubt of the grim poverty through which Solomon and his co-peasants toil.

Yea, and this is also good. Too many film worlds are unrealistically clean and pretty. I just wish Solomon had remained more heavily bearded, and that the love interest had been lame and scarred, with eyes smeared in mud, and no shoes.

There are two things that are lacking in the film:

1. A gloss of inventiveness to the story to raise it above sub-Lord of the Rings fare.

2. A hex on the cgi baddy at the end. A Balrog rendered on an Amiga and coated in LavaEffect does not a climax make. Someone clone sfx guru Rob Bottin 6th Day-style, so he pops out lightly skinned and power-mad, insisting on doing special effects on every film and arranging for "accidents" to befall the cretinous studio executives and servile pc-jockeys who commission and churn out this cg junk. With the practical effects of yore the evil things were tangible. They came lathered in grease and saliva. The computers suck the body and menace out of the screen. I can't suspend disbelief for pixels, they intrude too obviously, especially in this olde worlde setting which makes a point of verisimilitudinous grime. We need real monsters, not Mario waving a chain.

Then it endeth. Not as good as The Book of Eli or Constantine, but better than Prophecy 2 and organised religion.

Like Solomon, Ed opposed his brother. Unlike Solomon, Ed is a character from Big Train's staring contest.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Dear diary

Randy. Went to Tesco. Bought carton of orange juice. Check-out guy asked if I needed a bag! Of course I did. Got home. Bag barely went up to calf. Too small. And my foot went through it. Had some orange juice. Tasty.

Dear diary

Went to Homebase. Browsed. Found attractive rubble sack. Sturdy. Also bought adjustable spanner. Check out girl asked if I needed a bag, for my bag. Why not! Got home. Far too big. Absurd. Not sexy. Homebase carrier bag: also insufficient. Like Tesco all over again. Returned spanner. Rash purchase. Must stay calm.

Dear diary

Woke up dejected. Went out for orange juice. Passed hiking shop. Looked in window. Northface holdall. Went in. V arousing. Too expensive. Must save up.

NB remember key.


The cast of The Expendables
, clockwise from top left:
Johnny Depp, Yul Brynner , Taye Diggs, Madeline Stowe, Jack Palance, Kevin Spacey

There's no getting away from it. Sylvester Stallone's head looks like a water balloon gripped in a fist.

In fact, a lot of the purportedly hard-bitten team of mercenaries sent to blow up an island of South Americans look like they're wearing each other's faces and suffering adverse reactions to the grafts. It's hard to grasp why the normal-looking ones hang around and even follow into battle a zombie Elvis gone mad with plastic surgery (Sly), a blue bruise with a pipe and a wig (Mickey Rourke) and a chipped block of wood in a burnt plastic bag (Dolph Lundgren, the one good performance). Sly doesn't look hard, he looks taut. I waited for a baddy to scratch his high-pressure forehead, triggering a yawning tear and a humiliating retreat, his face billowing out behind him like a trendy scarf. Didn't happen.

Being a macho team of gay-bashers you can only dream of joining, you pussy, they exchange merciless put-downs as a form of bonding. But it doesn't ring true, because no-one goes for the jugular. No-one mentions how ridiculous anyone else looks. If a hunchback's giving me lip I don't call him four-eyes. At least make a dig about Stallone's dyed hair, it looks like a drowned otter the colour of black holes. Ask Bruce Willis why he's been drawn on an egg. It must be a pact. Don't call me hairplug and I won't call you veinhead.

None of them can speak clearly because of cheek botox or strong accents, and, most disastrously, the dialogue just doesn't make sense a lot of the time. One person says something, and the other person responds as if he's in a completely different conversation. So you sit there frowning, trying to follow a bunch of steroidal pensioners with coin-slot mouths missing each other's points. A lot of the problem is that the script aims so hard for macho that it goes too far and lands in closeted. At one point, following a break-up with his girlfriend and seeking counsel, Jason Statham asks best buddy Sly, "Have you ever been rejected by a woman?" Sly replies, "I don't think I want our relationship to go there!" and Jason accepts he's crossed the line with a grimace and a smile. Haha! Zing! Hang on, what? That's not a funny answer. It might be if Jason had asked him to pop a rose in his meatus, but this is pretty standard territory for chums. Sly's disconcerted reaction makes him look one hug away from a wailing, Statham-fondling breakdown.

Everyone enjoys a crack gang of old men slaying foreigners in cold blood, but the (interminable) scenes of their awkward downtime reveal they're just as distant and disconnected sharing a beer as they are attacking a militia. They start to seem vague in the head, which is a shame, because it's not so enjoyable watching a man stab a part-time cocoa farmer through the spine and the eye simultaneously when you suspect that he thinks he's doing the laundry. 40 minutes in I realised I felt sorry for them, when I should want to be alongside them, laughing and brutally killing.

Sly gives himself some big stunts to prove he's still got it, but unfortunately it comes across as a man being taken advantage of by people who should know better, goading the poor man on.

"Oh no Sly (or Meat Bender or Steve Skull or whatever your character's name is), we have to take off now, you're going to have to sprint to catch up to the sea plane. Yes, run! Jump! Haha, great! Now hang on to the door while I fly away. Yes, that's it! Yes, I know, you are still the man!"

He looks like an old dog running after a ball, blissfully unaware that Jason Statham is laughing at his body dysmorphia.

If there's a sequel it should begin with them all falling on each other, the sweat and tears of relief washing off their henna tattoos while the audience sits gob-smacked, and end with Jason taking a happy Sly to the vet, who puts him down, pounds his plasticated carcass into play-do, and pushes him in a tub, labelled Extendable. Or Ex-expendable. Or Extrabendable. And then Jason presses a detonator in it and lobs it at a mall, convinced he's blowing up a fort in North Africa.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

gym without a view

I went to the gym for the first time in over 3 years last week. The first machine I used was the rowing machine, which was placed rather publically by itself facing all the treadmills. Rowing solo in front of 20 pairs of beady joggers' eyes was an intimidating prospect, and I was worried I'd embarrass myself by putting the difficulty setting too high. The joggers' expressions would remain impassive, but they would all silently enjoy watching me strain ineffectually at setting 10, then 9, then 8, and then give in and skip to 3. But in fact, even the hardest setting offered little resistance. Obviously I was less feeble than I thought and I powered away, shooting back and forth in my little seat. After about 3 minutes of frenetic rowing I noticed there was an exercise bike with no pedals to the left of me. It dawned on me that I was not Olympic-grade, I was sitting in a broken rowing machine. I could feel the joggers' endlessly bobbing heads turn as one to watch me as I strolled into the free weights room. Warm-up complete.

Muscle-wise, I felt under-dressed in the free weights room, but I didn't feel too self-conscious because I don't wear glasses in the gym. This means I can't see anyone until they get very close and for long periods I can pretend I am working out in my private gym. The downside is that I go up to pillars thinking they're machines, and when I see they're not I have to read the poster about gym safety or use the water fountain. Even when I correctly identify an item of gym equipment, I have to get closer still to establish whether it's unoccupied. On my first attempt a blurry headrest suddenly resolved into a nervous face. Usually I would apologise, but being out of practise I moved on without a word.

The tone of gym chat is pointedly casual. Everyone wants to appear calm in a small room filled with sweaty men pumping their muscles. If you're a gym virgin it's easy to miss the subtleties and appear either despearate to nuzzle or like you're trying to conceal that you're desperate to nuzzle. After a punishing set of squats you must be able to compliment the improved tensile strength of your partner's buttocks in a warm but irreproachably heterosexual manner. Over-praising is a mistake, but a stiff silence and a cool stare is equally suggestive.

Working alone means I largely avoid these difficult scenarios, but some interaction is unavoidable. This time a professionally-muscled foreign man asked to "work in with me" on a bench press, and I immediately agreed in hand-wringing supplication, then watched as he changed the bench into a seat and added more weights. It took a few minutes so, a little peeved, I decided to just use a different piece of equipment. I slid into a mechanical L-shaped black mattress on the other side of the room and started happily pushing against it with no effect. Some time later I noticed Olaf was standing next to the bench press pointing at it. In a hurry to speak because he may have been there for some time, I shouted out, "You're fine! I'll just play with this one!" My gym patois was calibrated too gaily. It was time to conclude my work-out and repair for a douche.

The showers had been communal when I was last there, but now there were cubicles, albeit the only one which was unoccupied was doorless and facing the changing room. Well, I was down with that, and I knew that a good display of uncaring public washing would repair my creepy reputation. As I collected my towel after an especially disinterested and thorough clean I noticed there was a door, I had simply failed to spot it. There was a tense atmosphere as I got changed, but I left flushed with the pleasant sense of fatigue that only comes from physical exertion followed by a hell-bent tug in the shower.

The simultaneous benchpress & squat combo offers both efficiency and, when in the crouching position, smothering intimacy.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Butt On Moon

"We're still very much in the k-hole, yes."

When I was looking for a flat, the estate agent took me to one which belonged to the creater of Button Moon. It was filled with cool junk like technicolour mannequins of 50s women, and the walls were covered with vintage movie posters, ancient adverts and pop paraphernalia. But his vast bedroom was completely empty except for a wrought iron double bed and, next to that, a small wooden shed which I was surprised to see housed a loo.

I can only imagine that he left groupies lounging in his bed while he nonchalantly ascended the steps (there were steps) and, swishing his silk dressing gown across his knees to prevent accidental dunking, gazed upon them while he performed. Did he expect them to watch, and did their doting expressions falter when the scent of a particularly atomic delivery came broiling across their nostrils and mouthal areas? And did he smile all the more broadly? I imagine so. One does not expect this from the creater of Button Moon.

This is conjecture, but it would surely be perverse for a man to construct his commode a foot away from his lovers' heads unless he was unusually proud of his ablutions. As Jesus said, the shy man builds his loo shed on the far side of the bedroom or in a different room completely.

I said it was a bit odd and left, but I regret not sitting in it, just briefly, just to feel the power. What pride that man must have had. What pride.