Monthly Archives: May 2003

Windmills Pub (JD Wetherspoon), Stansted Airport

They blamed their crapness on the fact they had only just opened. That might work for a one-off pub/restaurant, but for a major chain like J.D. Wetherspoon it doesn’t hold water. Hostile, untrained bar staff didn’t know what dishes the kitchen had run out of, so they took our orders for one thing, and served us something else entirely. Hostile waiting staff didn’t know where the tables were for delivering food to. On our first visit (going to Rome) they had run out of ketchup and napkins; on our second visit (coming back) they had run out of forks. The food itself was appalling, too. Their burgers are limp, flavourless, and clearly straight out of a frozen multi-pack. And as for their BBQ chicken, I’ve had things that tasted just like chicken taste (and look) more like chicken than that did. The only good point was that we got a refund for the incorrect orders. Avoid this place at all costs.

X-Men 2

Longer, with more secondary plot lines than the first film, it felt like a good “superhero film”, but it just didn’t excite me in the same way. I kept waiting for a bigger climax to happen, but eventually it didn’t. There have been a lot of really good superhero films lately. Am I just feeling spoiled by quality, or disappointed that this wasn’t the new Matrix film?

John Gregory Betancourt – Roger Zelazny’s The Dawn of Amber

If you take this for what it is, an add-on novel in a shared universe, rather than an actual new Amber book by Zelazny, then it’s actually quite entertaining. If you’ve played the Amber RPG at all, then it will all seem very familiar: new relatives springing from the woodwork, the world or universe is in danger, intrigue and treachery yada yada. There’s nothing here that hasn’t already been done in dozens of Amber RPG scenarios. But nevertheless, it’s not bad at all. The plot moves along quickly, there are some exciting moments, and the scene is set for further adventure. Think of it as fan fiction done by a professional writer, and you won’t be disappointed.

George P. Pelecanos – Hell To Pay

Derek Strange and Terry Quinn deal with racism, poverty, prostitution, drugs and murder, as well as their own personal relationship and anger management issues. It’s a gritty, downbeat novel that makes many important points about many important issues. It’s also rather slow and dull. The pace doesn’t pick up until the last 50 pages or so, but by then it’s too late to salvage a decent crime story from the overbearing worthiness of the book’s central themes.

The Man Who Wasn’t There

Oddball story about a small-town barber whose chance meeting with a travelling salesman kicks off a domino train of events leading to betrayal and murder. It’s filmed in loving black-and-white, with a brooding, enigmatic performance by Billy-Bob Thornton as the barber, and the Coen brothers’ characteristic attention to detail. The pacing is slow, though, and the simple morality tale the plot hangs on isn’t all that interesting. Not quite up to the standards of Fargo or O Brother.