Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Last Blockbuster.


Bend, Oregon, houses the last remaining Blockbuster, defeated foe of Amazon and Netflix.

I can see this store becoming a sort of movie Mecca of the future, nostalgia in the present. And there should be just one of them, perhaps the only reason to ever visit Oregon. When Blockbuster ‘died’ I confess I wasn’t bothered. It’s only a few years down the line that you come to lament the absence of such treats.

Blockbuster was ‘da bomb’ back in the day, the Friday night Shangri-La – purveyor of movies and nibbles after a week of school tedium. Granted, there was an annoying element to proceedings, this the desk clerk who, when he didn’t believe he was Auld Reekie’s version of Quentin Tarantino, went into full SS Guard-mode if you didn’t rewind a VHS rental of Rush Hour (1998). It was for the most part a haven, though, and coupled with Edinburgh’s car boot sales a perfect introduction to film.

The internet is of course sublime (you don’t even have to leave the house and speak to anyone) but Blockbuster was where geeks congregated, our own wee social and cinema club. My old beloved Blockbuster in Gorgie has tragically metamorphosed into a Costa Coffee frequented by polo-necked creatures. Gentrification and all that.


Gorgie Road’s Blockbuster, now a hipster hangout.

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MH370 – five years on.


MH370 is the 2010s very own version of Amelia Earhart, and we may never definitively know what happened; even if the black box somehow washes up on a Tom-Hanks-and-Wilson island, it’ll be beyond repair given the more than five years of aimless swimming.

Its disappearance has irrevocably changed aviation, though.

The FAA has mandated that by 2020 all commercial aircraft are to be equipped with transponders having ADS-B out capability, meaning the plane’s location can be detected in real time.


The Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System (GADSS) will from January 2021 ensure that airlines report all of their planes positions every 15 minutes. In addition, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) mandated that on aircraft built from 2022, those flights in distress will have to report their position to air traffic control every minute, and that all underwater locator beacons last 90 days instead of 30.

A further change initiated by the ICAO is the requirement that planes made from 2021 include 25-hour voice recorders so there will be a record not only of the flight but the cockpit preparations.

What one can’t account for is human error and, though a very infrequent event, the mental instability and criminal intent of the pilots. That’s the elephant on the plane; some folk are just nutters undetected by background and periodic checks (if any). In the wake of the Germanwings Flight 9525 crash in 2015, someone suggested to me there should be a system in place for a team of controllers on the ground to remotely override the pilot’s commands were he to go loco. It’s something to think about, however outlandish.

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House of Soviets in Kaliningrad.


What is it about the Evil Empire and their ugly-as-fuck brutalist buildings? A legacy imbued with obsessions of ‘social realism’ shows scant regard for anything ‘real’ about its constructs; concrete eyesores sticking out like sore thumbs, their centrepiece buildings merely highlight the lunacy of the ideology running the system.


In the Kaliningrad enclave, we have this anomaly plonked there, a robot geezer built beside the rubble of Königsberg Castle. It speaks to the USSR’s fixation with technology and its precedence over the human element. A central administration building, its interior was never finished and the project ran out of cash. It did, however, receive a paint job in 2005.


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Conceptual art is an abomination.


Conceptual art is where the talentless can hide yet prosper, a contradiction laced with mountains of cash. You get these cretins taking shites on Pot Noodle cups or showing the world their unkempt sleeping quarters in an exhibition, equating the display as representative of the decline and all-round decadence of Western Civilisation. It’s poppycock. You look at a Rembrandt or a Caravaggio and think, “Fuck me, I wish I could paint that.” You view conceptual works and cringe that ivory tower society could ever even write copy about such meaningless garbage.

Here is my modern art masterpiece. It’s about the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Enjoy. I expect to have this displayed in MOMA next year.


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Aldi was drama-free today.


Where are the tracksuits?

No chavs, no nutters, no shoplifters, no screaming kids, and not a single person this evening decided to whistle at the top of their lungs (vile behaviour which should be a private avocation).

What a rare day of serenity in Aldi.

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The Das Boot reboot is awesome.


What an experience this spin-off was.

I first saw the Wolfgang Peterson stunner (1981) in April 2000, purchasing the VHS tape with The Phantom Menace (1999) in HMV, Princes Street. I had no idea what it was about but the movie was £4.99 and Empire magazine called it scintillating in a retrospective. The writer wasn’t wrong, unlike their four-star review of the Jar Jar Binks fiasco.

The movie works within the most claustrophobic milieu of pre-Nuclear warfare. It was apolitical, much like the Kriegsmarine’s attempts to portray themselves after the conflict, this despite them nonchalantly torpedoing ship after ship.

This reboot more expansively amplifies upon the rampant extremism of the submariners, their appropriation of ideology as an alternative to the Allies’ eventual superior resources and sound tactics. There are also thriller elements, La Rochelle, home of the U-boat pens, the backdrop to French Resistance efforts to disrupt the German occupation. This place also has a special meaning for me: on a French exchange trip the police chased us around the town centre because one of our party set off a firework in a gift shop. Ah, the memories.

That score as well, used in both the film and this masterwork. Oaft.

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HS2 is coming.


“HS2 will change things.”

I remember the chat well. This was eight years ago when I was doing soul-destroying manual labour/customer service in Edinburgh Waverley train station. The job was well paid and a laugh – colleagues were cracking banter and all hit the sauce like pros – but the “civilians” who ventured into that station. Fucking hell. Never again. Members of the general public are the dregs of humanity.

Anyway, I heard this HS2 topic daily, a colossal event on the horizon. The railways in Britain are a shambles. No-one knows why and not a soul has a solution. It’s been like this for the past century. No-one knows why. HS2 is meant to be the panacea for the chaos.

HS2 trains, expected to be operating by December 2026, will be 400 metres long, travelling at up to 250 mph – the fastest in Europe, apparently – and able to hold 1,100 seats, the initial line between London and the West Midlands. Following this, ‘Phase 2’ will connect Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds.


The new lines will connect to existing standard-speed lines, with ‘classic compatible’ trains running on both high-speed and classic lines. The idea is that classic lines will benefit from HS2. The London to Edinburgh journey time, for example, will be 3:38 hours instead of 4:23.

Guaranteed they will still cost a fucking fortune, though.

I can get a flight to Dublin for £6 but a train to London King’s Cross is £194. And this for the privilege of being sat on some rickety rocket chock-full of intoxicated bairns.

Trains are torture.

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The Selfie is the new ‘Decisive Moment’.


Many of us have been guilty of the ultimate faux pas when it comes to ‘adulting’ (or one’s departure from it). Yes, the selfie, the pursuit the Snowflake and Y2K lot get up to. The folk who partake in such behaviour are usually the tossers who acquire Gameboy watches or sit in cafes bashing thoughts into a rusty typewriter when they have a perfectly operational laptop at home. “Working hard,” is the caption, the image a flipped shot of a checkered shirt and scruffy beard holding aloft a smug face you want to clobber with a shovel.

The selfie goes way back, though. Way, way back. Some might consider the earlier examples art forms due to their self-reflexive dimensions and knowing playfulness.

Joseph Ducreux, for example. Well, it’s a painting we’re talking about but … ‘life-like’, a self-portrait but premonition to a selfie future. And the bloke became a meme. He also looks like Emperor Palpatine.


Portrait de l’artiste sous les traits d’un moqueur.

Or the inimitable snap from/of Robert Cornelius, a self-portrait from 1839 and quite possibly the world’s first portraiture.


The selfie is the need to be *in* the world and be seen to be so, evidence of ownership and the experience, though there have been stories of folk photoshopping backdrops into their snaps.

I experience a certain sense of shame every time I succumb to the zeitgeist. All the delicate painstaking effort Ansel Adams put into a single snap and here I am posing with a bottle of Coke Zero in a budget airline departure lounge. There’s that classic meme featuring Neil Armstrong and a random lassie in a bathroom. Sums it up, really.


I am forever reminded of Travis Bickle staring in the mirror, the definitive portrait of solipsistic absorption.

I’m off to take a selfie with the cat.

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Gorgie, Edinburgh – The Ghetto.


Ah, Gorgie. They call it ‘God’s Country’. The place is hardly the pearly gates. Lots of aggressive creatures, Chewbaccas on crack and all that jazz. It does look kind of cinematic, though, in a grim and manky way. A new Hovis advert should be made here with a tracksuit-clad junkie on a stolen tricycle.

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Airport security pre 9/11.


Waiting at the gate is an exploit I remember from that Friends episode (“The One with Ross’s New Girlfriend”, 1995) when Rachel – peak Jennifer Aniston with flowers in hand – waits for Ross returning from China, only for him to emerge with a new missus. Much like the whimsical innocence of mid-’90s sitcoms, we’ll never see such things in an airport again.

Looking at pre-9/11 airports is as if being confronted with an alien entity – the lax rules, the laissez-faire atmosphere of the buildings, the … freedom of the places. I flew on about seven flights prior to September 11, and even as a teenager I recall the airport endeavour was a doddle, much like crucifixion in the Python cinematic universe. It explains the success of the hijackers, especially when you consider box cutters and small knives were permitted on certain aircraft at the time.

I don’t think anyone with a modicum of concern for their own or another’s safety is bothered about making the ‘sacrifices’ of conforming to post-9/11 air travel rules. No bottle of Volvic allowed from outside the airport? Diddums. It’s a small price to pay.

The awfulness stems from interaction with passengers who are thick as fuck, and these are voluminous. Airports appear to be a breeding ground for the bottom-rung IQ scale of the general public. I’m talking about fuckers who line up at the conveyor belt oblivious to the omniscient signs on display indicating the liquid prohibitions, clowns who try and smuggle Prosecco on board, the haughty lot who protest at taking their shoes off, the numpties who insist on walking through the metal detector with a pocket full of shrapnel.

They are the real pain in the arse.

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