Tag Archives: plan b

The Foxscars 2013

Never mind the Oscars. This year I’m launching my personal alternative to the Academy Awards – the FOXSCARS.

BEST UNSEEN JOURNEY: Doctor Who Magazine‘s The Watcher recently enthused about the great unseen journeys in Who but Bond and M’s desperate drive from Westminster to Scotland in Skyfall takes the biscuit. “It’s not very comfortable, is it?” says M, settling into the Aston Martin. “Are you going to complain the whole way?” counters Bond. And then the most extraordinary elision.

M Judi Dench Skyfall lodge scotland

Google Maps suggests just over 8 hours for a trip from London to Glencoe. That’s a long trip even if you knock off an hour or two for Bond’s reckless speeding, and M’s a septuagenarian who’s just spent hours cooped up in an inquiry. So this grim, relentless flight for their lives must have had at least one comfort break along the way. I picture M rushing into the service station toilets, cashmere coat tails all a-flap, calling out to James who’s in the queue at the shop “Get me a Twirl, Bond! Or if they haven’t got a Twirl, a Topic!”

BEST IRONIC SURNAME-BASED CASTING: Liz White IS The Woman In Black.

BEST GUYLINER: Lenny Kravitz’s gold lids in The Hunger Games. You would, wouldn’t you.

Kravitz as hot as anything

BEST MOUTH: If you make a film expecting your audience to spend almost the entire running time staring at your heroine’s half-lit face as she stumbles through horrors in the dark, it had better be a good one. And Silent House is a beautiful, beautiful film where extraordinary technical challenges behind the scenes [it is contrived to appear as a single 90-minute shot] are matched by Elizabeth Olsen’s brilliant expressive face. I spent ages scouring the disc to get the best screenshot of her mouth opening up in atavistic terror, and realised afterwards I’d landed on the same still as is used on all the promo materials. Well there you go.

Silent House

BEST LEGO: The telekinetic teenagers in Chronicle hone their skills with some truly awesome Lego action.

BEST BREATHING:  Kristen Stewart is already famous for acting out emotion purely through the medium of languid sighs and gasps, so it was a treat that in her first scene in Snow White And The Huntsman she immediately got to blow a candle out.

BEST MONSTER IN AN OTHERWISE TERRIBLE FILM: The spider-thing made out of mannequin parts in Silent Hill: Revelation

spider mannequin

BEST IMAGINARY MUSICAL VERSION: There’s a moment in the excellent My Brother The Devil when Fady Elsayed says to James Floyd “I’d rather have a brother that’s a bomber than a homo!” Every time I’ve seen it I’ve been willing him to say “bummer” instead of “homo”. Because then it would be the perfect opening lyric to the lead song of the musical version that’s in my head.

My Brother the Devil

BEST 3D: I didn’t think I liked 3D, but Life of Pi changed my mind, so well done everybody.

BEST OPTIMISM IN A POSTER PULL-QUOTE: Quartet

Quartet poster

BEST PUNCTUATION: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2

BEST FINGERS: Not to get all spoilery, but there’s a point in Prometheus where Noomi Rapace has just gone through some of the most intense physical and mental trauma that you can imagine. And how do the ship’s crew wake her up? Five sharp raps to the face with the back of the fingers. In marigolds. Makes me laugh every time.

Prometheus fingers

BEST GRATUITOUS NUDITY: Nick Sagar suddenly being forced to strip naked in the street in Ill Manors had absolutely no plot justification or character relevance at all. Plan B, we salute you.

Nick Sagar, as fit as a butcher's dog

BEST INTER-SPECIES NECROPHILIAC FRENCH KISS: Always a hotly-contested category, but this year Cabin in the Woods just edged it.

kissing in the cabin in the woods

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My albums of 2012: Games & Puzzles special

Can YOU solve Plan B’s logic problem, spot the ball with Frank Ocean or help Usher find his climax? Find out in my Albums of the Year Puzzle Special!

10. Jessie Ware – Devotion

9. Bright Light Bright Light – Make Me Believe In Hope

8. Gossip – A Joyful Noise

Three very thoughtful, quietly euphoric albums to start us off. So let’s have a thoughtful and quietly euphoric teaser:

buffet riddle

You are queueing for the buffet at a music industry awards ceremony with Rod Thomas, Jessie Ware and Beth Ditto. You know that one of them always tells the truth, one of them always lies, and one can either lie or tell the truth as they choose. Rod says “The salmon en croute is nice! Don’t listen to Beth by the way, she always lies.” Jessie says “The profiteroles are lovely. And you can trust Rod, he always tells the truth.” Beth says “I do lie sometimes but I can tell the truth too if I want to! By the way the mushroom vol-au-vents are delicious.”

Which is the only food you can put on your plate with confidence?

7. Usher – Looking 4 Myself

I’m on my own with this one, I think. At least, I haven’t seen anyone else raving about it in end-of-year lists. Too much dance-pop for the R&B crowd? Too R&B for the pop crowd? Too cheesy for everyone else? Actually that last one doesn’t need a question mark. But I like it a lot. The centrepiece is of course Climax, a cleverly named song as Usher never actually reaches one. But can YOU help him get there?

ushers climax

 6. Angel Haze – Reservation

It’s not until you put an album on at work and everyone goes rigid with horror that you notice quite how sweary it is. The words in the puzzle are all taken from Angel’s lyrics. When fitted correctly into the grid, the shaded squares will reveal a special bonus word! What is it?

angel haze cross words

5. Frank Ocean – Channel Orange

franks ballsCan YOU see Frank’s balls in this picture? Mark with a cross where you think they are.

4. Plan B – Ill Manors

It’s a horrible world depicted in the film Ill Manors, with relentlessly awful things happening to everyone in it. The accompanying album is just as revolting and upsetting, but of course it’s all set to brilliant music. Plan B has drafted his plans for the sequel in the form of a logic problem – solve it if you dare!

ill manors

3. Tyson – Die On The Dancefloor

Here was a 2012 surprise – a concept album about morbidity delivered as a series of falsetto Hi-NRG bangers. Bloody great. So here’s a puzzle based on Tyson’s twin obsessions of disco and death.

tyson puzzle

2. Metric – Synthetica

I think Metric’s dark, sugary synth-rock is sounding better than ever, and these songs haunted and inspired me all year. Join the fun by solving the riddle to find a word associated with metric measurements.

metric riddle

1. Cassie – The Unreleased Classics Trilogy

CASSIE MYSTERYWell here’s a puzzle. A singer releases a very good first album and goes on to record stacks of even better material for a second album which six years later shows no sign of ever materialising. No don’t write in, there isn’t an answer to this one. But Cassie’s work since 2006 has now been collated and packaged up as a set of three downloads comprising 66 tracks. That’s right, my album of the year isn’t even a proper album and some of the tracks are years old. But to my tastes, out of this bonanza of material you could get at least two full albums that would wipe the floor with anything else from this year. It’s a collection of cold, sexy, sweet and surprising electro that at its best makes me think of Janet Jackson singing her way through Britney’s Blackout. But don’t take my word for it – it’s free!

If you want solutions to the puzzles, they’re here. And if you want a soundtrack to working them out, my songs of the year are in a playlist in the previous post. Happy New Year x

Favourite tracks of 2012

It’s a Spotify playlist! With a bonus YouTube link for a big favourite that wasn’t on Spotify. These are the tunes that have kept me going all year…

The 2012 Mercury Prize nominees explained through the medium of Fruit & Veg

1. Pickled peaches You WANT to like them. They look really interesting. But they’ve coolly distanced themselves from you with a big thick glass jar. Then you finally try them, and the individual elements are things you like – some old-fashioned, some a bit out of leftfield – but it’s a bit much all together.

2. Frozen parsnips One person’s ‘earthy’ is very much another person’s ‘indigestible’.

3. Tinned mango A bit of exoticism BUT NOT TOO MUCH THANKS, let’s keep it safely packaged in a reassuring tin.

4.  A formal knot garden of germander, marjoram, thyme, southernwood, lemon balm, hyssop, costmary, acanthus, mallow, chamomile, rosemary, Calendulas, Violas and Santolina Easy to admire but hard to love.

5. Asparagus The conoisseur’s choice. A delicate and lasting flavour to be savoured. NO I’M NOT SAYING JESSIE WARE MAKES YOUR PISS STINK I’M SAYING I LIKE HER.

6. Courgette Oh it’s all very nice but would you miss it if it had been left out? Would you?

7. Potato Well you know where you are with it don’t you.

8. Dried apple I like dried apple. It’s very nutritious isn’t it. But sometimes, perversely, knowing something is good for you makes it a hell of a lot less interesting.

9. Pepperoncini (or ‘kebab shop chilli’ to give it its proper name) Salty! A bit hot! A bit caustic! Essential.

10. Snow pea In the words of Harry Hill – ‘Mangetouts, they’re lovely aren’t they. But I couldn’t eat a whole one.’

11. Anyone know what this is? Cheers.

12. No me neither.

Tied up with string: March

A SONG

In case you can’t tell from the last post, I bloody love Plan B’s Ill Manors. A top ten hit that says out loud that calling any of us ‘chavs’ is a rotten, fucked-up thing to do. While being exciting and confrontational instead of worthy. With Shostakovich breakbeats! Here‘s my favourite article about why it’s so good.

A TV EVENT

The sad demise of EastEnders‘ Heather at least meant an excuse to give her a ludicrous send-off. So her hen night saw Hev & Shirl breaking into a brilliant and  unlikely Mel & Kim dance routine..,

…which led Andi to suggest it just needed a slo-mo sepia treatment to turn it into a proper tribute, which of course I couldn’t resist…

It’s what Heather would have wanted. I don’t think Hazell Dean will ever again be mentioned on primetime tv.

ANIMAL OF THE MONTH

I’ll spare you any of the morbid photos I’ve taken, but I’m now in the last month of working somewhere so blighted that my walk from the station regularly leads me to step over dead rats littering the street. Here’s to the lovely rats. Let them run x

Plan B vs Juliet Bravo

It wouldn't happen in Hartley

As older readers may remember, Juliet Bravo was a tv show about a smalltown police inspector who — in a twist — was a woman! And it had one of the best theme tunes of all time. So how would Plan B’s brilliant ill Manors (buy it here) sound if relocated to early 80s Lancashire? LET’S FIND OUT:

The Bert Awards 2011

Hello and welcome to the inaugural Bert Awards, during which I will be making a fist of this year’s Brit Awards highlights.

Best Grooming

Where else on primetime TV do you get to see a man in his thirties leaning into the face of an uncomfortable-looking 16-year old boy to say “You smell amazing! How old are you? No really, how old are you??” But the pheromonal appeal of Justin Bieber reduced James Corden to just such a state. Amazing.

Best Rioting

A difficult one to judge. And unexpected. It seemed that every other act had been down that shop they advertise near my work [pictured] to kit themselves out before the show.

Plan B put a good effort in, with the prison-yard violence and the setting people on fire and everything, but the award has to go to Take That, whose choreographed kettling was particularly joyful.

Best Slurring

I’m not sure what had gotten into Cheryl Cole before she lurched on to present the Best International Female award. Half a box of Nytol, by the sounds of it. Dull, limp and lifeless.

Best Sulking

Has anyone ever turned up to present an award with as thunderous-faced a glare as Will “I’m making a documentary about Coriolanus you know” Young did? Was it because he’d been paired with Avril Lavigne? Was it all beneath him? Bad show.

Best Duetting

All night we were shouting at the telly: ‘When’s the big duet? Who will it be?’ Because even though these unlikely popstar pairings are the best part of the event, one big collaboration per year is the best you can hope for these days.

And what a disappointment. I love Cee Lo, but hate watered-down versions of overplayed songs. Especially one he’s already done with a ‘surprise guest’ a few days ago (at the Grammys, with Gwyneth Paltrow). And who was it who came on to play Mika to his Beth Ditto? Just Paloma “Plan B’s mum” Faith.

If it had been left up to me, the big finish would have been Corinne Bailey Rae collaborating with Rastamouse. She would have sung with all the sadness of every orphan in the Mouseland orphanage, and he would have made a bad ting good. But this is why I am not, yet, in charge of the Brits.