alexsarll: (bernard)
First weekend of June was very much the first big weekend of the summer. Started early by playing to stereotypical associations of 'Japan', packing out [livejournal.com profile] xandratheblue's local sushi place and all being a bit disturbing. Saturday was her official birthday, in Highgate Woods, with a pinata who died too easy. I the interests of keeping the jovial violence going, wrestling ensued, as a result of which I am still nursing a slightly stiff ankle I SAID ANKLE. In between - Nuisance with JOHNNY RUDDY DEAN FROM MENSWEAR fronting the house band for a set of Bowie covers - and, inevitably, an encore of his own material. All of it excellent, except perhaps the rather idiosyncratic choice of 'Crash' among the latter. The final track was a version of 'All the Young Dudes', which also featured Jaime from Marion and the word 'YOLO'. A perfect fusion of seventies, nineties and 2010s, right?
On the Sunday, my Cthulhuson was most impressed by all the diggers and forklifts clearing up after the Stone Roses clusterfucked Finsbury Park. I can't say I was quite so fascinated, but it was certainly more appealing that watching a tuneless homophobe and three hypocrites massacre songs that used to be quite good.

The week after that had little to report here - certainly not our ignominious placing in the Doctor Who pub quiz, which wasn't even the only Whocentric socialising that week, not that I am a geek or anything. Then a quieter weekend, off to deepest Middlesex to see where [livejournal.com profile] wardytron lives now he's allegedly a grown-up. Say what you like about the suburbs, and I do, but I will always be likely to approve of any party with a friendly dog. Then home via another party, with me refusing vodka on the train - not because I hold to the laws on that, or had suddenly turned abstemious, but simply because it tasted like Malibu. Ick.

Made my first visit to Finsbury Park's new theatre last night. They've had various exciting new dramatists' stuff already, so obviously I went for the classic - School for Scandal. I've never seen any Sheridan before, and I'm still not entirely convinced that watching Sheridan is as good as reading Cabell's chapter about Sheridan as epitome of the "glorious mountebank" in Beyond Life, but the sheer wit and deviousness and moral vacancy of the whole affair was a delight. Could perhaps have done with spending more time on choreographing the key farce scene, though, and less on the musical interludes they'd added.
alexsarll: (default)
Feels like life has been fairly quiet of late, (except when it hasn't, of course - Hyde Park picnics, Leyton pubs that are at least decently apologetic about hating my people, SE14's answer to the Shaftesbury). But in early summer, especially this year as it's still picking up from the tardy spring, I don't mind that. The evenings are still simply beautiful, without that complex melancholy they acquire later on - though it would help if I had the park for them, when instead it's being turned into some sort of prison camp for Madchester arseholes (sorry, tautology, I know). Still, I've had my chances to go a-roaming - up trees, over banks, through hedges and across a Heath resplendent with buttercups like I've never seen. Even got to share a tree with a jay at one point - a much better companion than parakeets, who may be beautiful, but in prolonged proximity are no better than the sort of person who wears Beats By Dre headspeakers. Guessed a stranger's dog's name, too - though given my guess was Slobberchops, based on obvious physical features, I don't think that's much proof of psychic potential.

Been watching a lot of adventure series lately - The Avengers, Brisco County Jr, Adventure Time - and hardly any films. One exception: Night of the Eagle, which as the name suggests is close kin to the MR James adaptation Night of the Demon. Peter Wyngarde - excellent value as ever - plays a sixties Richard Dawkins who discovers his wife's a closet witch and makes her burn her "protections", after which their lives go about as smoothly as you'd expect. There are loose plot threads all over the place and it doesn't even seem quite sure whether magic works or not in its world, but it's thoroughly eerie nonetheless. Spartacus ended for good, and Doctor Who for now; the former was the downer it was always going to be, the latter much better than I'd dared expect, though it may have helped that I had the contrast of having just finished the rambling Reign of Terror, the first full Hartnell I've attempted in a decade or more.

And then after 'The Name of the Doctor' there was Eurovision, in which as ever the worthy victor was robbed - this time it was Romania (or rather Romoania) with the gay dubstep vampire. We left after that and Bonnie Tyler to see The French Electric live down the road, sounding like the National before they went boring, covering songs from Dare! and getting away with it. They were followed by a tragic act who could have sounded like Mazzy Star or Lana del Rey if only the drums had been turned down (or preferably off), which was my cue to depart. Thee Faction and Joanne Joanne at the Buffalo Bar were excellent, same as last time they played there together, and once again I drank entirely too much. Possibly because I'd realised that, if they're a genderswapped Duran Duran and Keith and I had been hanging with them in the pub earlier, that made us genderswapped 'Girls on Film' video babes. I should possibly be seeing them again tonight, but outside was calling, and I'm still in a certain amount of gig-shock after seeing the Art Brut birthday gig on what they weren't allowed to call the Glass Ceiling Tour. Ten years! They've learned a lot in that time, though. And the Scala...I'd forgotten how much I liked that venue. I'd forgotten how much I like the rare big gig - and it turns out they do still exist - where the crowd Get It. And the support slot from Keith et al wasn't bad either - I think the best show I've seen them do since the Devant support with the spiralling, near-infinite 'One Thing After Another'. They're a big band, a big stage suits them.

Anyway, my dears, I think I need another cup of decaf tea before Justified. It's a rock'n'roll life and no mistake.
alexsarll: (default)
Had a couple of weddings last month, out of London to varying degrees - one in a home counties barn, the other in Compton Verney, which is not the most accessible location but does mean you can have a reception surrounded by Cranachs, Holbeins and a coral nativity diorama which some enterprising Neapolitan crafted centuries back, and climb atop a bloody big rock if you need a break from the band. I'd decided to go straight from there to Devon the next day, simply because going back into and then out of London again appalled my sense of progress. This might have been a false time-economy, but the resulting vaguely diagonal journey did take me in a reasonably straight line across large swathes of the country I don't often see - a real 'How fares England? sort of journey. And despite what one might fear, every train involved was punctual bar one which was deeply apologetic over being a minute behind schedule. Inevitably, by the time I got to the seaside the warm spell had passed, so it was all sea mist and chopping up telegraph poles and being disappointed when local country acts didn't emphasise the side of their oeuvre which most appealed to me (the unspeakable bastards).

Other exotic locales I've visited include Walthamstow Village, where I attempted to convince people even less conversant with the area than myself that model butterflies were simply the giant fauna of Zone 3, and Peckham Rye, which seems to have a higher concentration of brilliant dogs than anywhere else in London (also a boy trapped in a tent, which is always good entertainment). And, as the year has made its stuttering advance into Spring, the Edinburgh previews have begun: I've already seen Thom Tuck (excellent as ever, even in the very early stages), Nish Kumar, Sara Pascoe and, as a late sub for Ben Target, Matthew Highton - who looks like Frank Quitely drew him and tells stories (perhaps not wholly true) of a life Peter Milligan could easily have conceived.

Not a great deal of clubbing lately - though Poptimism did offer a chance to dance to 'Only Losers Take The Bus', so what more does one need? - and my pub quizzing, if successful, has been sparse. But there have, as ever, been gigs. The Bull and Gate is no more, because apparently Kentish Town needs another damn gastropub, so Keith TotP et al played a send-off - the first time in a while that I've seen the Minor UK Indie Celebrity All-Star Backing Band on a stage large enough to contain them. In support, Dom Green's latest band, with a very apt set formed by pulling together songs from all the bands he'd been in before that had played there - and yet ending with a new one which may be the best thing he's ever written (but then, I was always a sucker for epics about London). Rebekah Delgado, supporting a bunch of steampunk tits at a rock pub, then off to Shenanigans. The Indelicates, still the best band of the moment, ever more romantic and ever more doomed. But I think my favourite overall event was the Soft Close-Ups show which was the only reason [livejournal.com profile] augstone was allowed back over to visit us. They've always been a fairly melancholy band, but with the immigration-based reminder of how fleeting things can be, and a Housman poem set to music, this outing was especially mis. And yet, gorgeous. [livejournal.com profile] icecoldinalex supported and, for a note of bathos, the venue was decorated in vintage soft p0rn. The sort of inexplicable afternoon which comes along too seldom.

The current series of Who has for the most part continued on its profoundly underwhelming course, with a revival of hopes occasioned by 'Hide', 'Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS' and Gatiss' campathon undermined by last night's inexplicably middling Gaiman effort, but between Bluestone 42, It's Kevin and Parks and Rec's second season, there has at least been plenty of good comedy on the box, and these are surely times in which we need cheering up, so thank heavens for that. I've barely seen any films of late: Iron Man 3 at the cinema, which was a joy; Skyfall and Terror by Night on DVD, which were a little less so. I just can't quite buy Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes, he's far too socially adroit - even clubbable.

When this goes up, I'll still have more than a year's worth of posts on one page, where once a page would have not been sufficient for some months. And yet, we persevere, in some limping fashion.
alexsarll: (crest)
Last time I posted here, I wasn't really aware of the comedian and Being Human star Colin Hoult. Since then, I've beaten him at a comics-themed pub quiz, where he was teamed with Stewart Lee (of whom I am very much aware), and seen him play the romantic lead in a musical also featuring Thom Tuck, Kevin Eldon and [livejournal.com profile] catbo (ditto). So well done Colin Hoult for effectively increasing awareness of your work among the key [livejournal.com profile] barrysarll demographic. Because I was watching Kevin Eldon narrate [livejournal.com profile] martylog's adaptation of ETA Hoffman's "last and worst" book, I had to iPlayer the first episode of his deeply uneven sketch show, and then further wonder why it was scheduled against another BBC show clearly appealing to much the same audience, the excellent zombie rehab drama In the Flesh, which has been by some distance the best thing on TV recently. And Bluestone 42's not bad either - between the two of them, they're in danger of giving BBC3 a good reputation. Doctor Who, on the other hand...well, I went in to the mid-season whatever you call 'The Bells of St John' with low expectations after Moffat's last two episodes, and it was at least better than I expected, but I still can't decide whether it was actually any good.

In less grand gig news, not taking place in hidden Hoxton music halls, I've caught up with Bevan 17 successor entity Desperate Journalist, who have a very Banshees sound, and otherwise mainly seen former members of Luxembourg. 60% of them were playing 'Mishandled' and 'The 2 of Us' at a Suede tribute night in the Boogaloo, which was spine-tingling, and another 20% was taking pictures. I asked if he'd fancied joining in, but he insisted that it would only dent the chances of a big money reunion a few years down the line. And then the final 20%, Jonny Cola, was playing his first gig in a while, but given he's now down two of his old kidneys and up one of his fiancee's, maybe it was more like 19%? It's like a glam rock Ship of Theseus. Anyway, they were all better than hearing an oompah band covering Coldplay in a venue devoted to the consumption of beer and wurst, followed by a trip to Covent Garden's Roadhouse, a club where I suspect rohypnol and Red Bull is the house cocktail. A shame, as that day had previously been going pretty well, if you count loud discussions of dogging and Ulysses in a riverside pub as a good afternoon, which clearly I do.

Other than that? Photo exhibition launches, book launches, the general whirl of media scumbaggery. Waiting for the Spring to finally arrive, like everyone. Watching Yahoo Serious' Mr Accident (it's no Young Einstein). Being astonished that an unremarkable Earl's Court pub can charge £4.55 for a pint. Hoping that the Leisure Hive does well, because clubs like that make me feel a little less old. Writing this at a gallop because if I dither now it'll take another fortnight.
alexsarll: (default)
So, since last posting, I've been to new places. Kensal Green, land of the golden Nando's, whose great graveyard is home to many grand figures whose resting places we didn't find, and one murderous quack of whom I might still be ignorant were his epitaph not so passive-aggressive. More exciting still, a lovely long weekend in Margate! Which in places is a sort of North-London-on-sea, as against Brighton, which is of course East-London-on-sea. [livejournal.com profile] xandratheblue chose well when she booked us into the Walpole Bay Hotel, which is essentially the sort of place Poirot stays, but festooned with Tracey Emin napkin art, alarming mannequins, a room full of hats and so forth. If Sir John Soane were a hotelier, the result would be along these lines. A similar spirit of eccentricity pervades the town; there's the old world stuff, like the hotel, the Shell Grotto, the Mad Hatter's tearoom and the decrepit lido; but there's also the huge array of wind turbines out at sea who can be dimly seen on the less cloudy days, standing sentinel, and the surprising number of rockabillies for a fairly small town. It is, in sum, Unusual, mostly in lovely ways. And especially so last weekend, because we'd unwittingly turned up at the same time as GEEK, a computer-game-centred thing which enabled Alex to talk knowledgeably about computer games while I pouted at the lack of the advertised strawberry cider. In your gender-defined face, gender roles. The other result of this was that whenever we attempted to just go look at some art, we kept on getting lured into INTERACTING. Fine when it was the squishy stuff in Turner Contemporary, less so when we were sent on a somewhat confused melon-themed treasure hunt/RPG around town, or found that what we'd thought was a small gallery with a show of automata was in fact a couple's basement workshop. Still, at least the latter meant we got tea. It wasn't that I didn't enjoy all the community art, you understand, so much as I wasn't expecting it. And being ambushed by art does start to make one a little nervous after a while.

Margate also has one of two very fine pubs to which I've been introduced recently, the Lifeboat, which doesn't quite have a sea view but otherwise - casks of local cider, lots of wood, a roaring fire - is pretty much how I picture the ideal seaside pub, just as the Earl of Essex is exactly the pub I always hope to find in quiet London backstreets. Both are let down only by some of their food; take your own ketchup to the Lifeboat (outragrously, there's none on the premises!), and avoid the risotto at the Earl.

All the TV I've watched lately has been going for an overall mood of 'unsettling'. Black Mirror, still not quite perfect, but better to have Charlie Brooker not quite being Rod Serling on C4 than degenerating into Harry Hill on the BBC. Utopia, which managed that rare feat of genuinely shocking violence (as much in how it was shot as in who was shot, stabbed, and so forth) in a conspiracy thriller which didn't feel as played-out as the rest of the recent glut of conspiracy thrillers - maybe because spoilers ). Breaking Bad, where the second series had fewer moments of 'Go Walter!' than the first, and a lot more wincing. Even the Honor Blackman episodes of The Avengers all seemed to be predicated on Steed's uncertain loyalties, and beyond that to be odd in so far as they still didn't quite feel like The Avengers yet, and predicated their plots on such TV-friendly themes as the Companies Act 1928, and the evasion of inheritance tax. Whereas the few films I've watched have been thoroughly straightforward good vs evil stuff, with square-jawed heroes - Bruce Campbell in Army of Darkness, Christopher Reeve in Superman, which is every bit as charming and *right* as I remember from childhood, not to mention much smarter than I ever picked up on.
alexsarll: (bernard)
Snow again, and I've not posted since the last bout, in which I got to cross St James' Park by twilight. It's not my favourite London park, but that little chalet by the lake does look ludicrously idyllic when the weather's this Alpine. I was there in between my inaugural visits to the museums Petrie (dry) and Grant (terrifying), and Parliament, where I was headed mainly to see Paddy Ashdown talk. And good heavens, he's still full of fire. I miss him.

So I went to see a Tarantino film in the cinema, which I've never done before (and it was Dalston Rio, where I've never been before, but which is rather nice, isn't it?). Django Unchained is neither as thorough an explanation of the monstrousness of slavery, nor as gloriously OTT an exploitation romp, as Spartacus: Blood and Sand and its successor series. But it is pretty fine nonetheless, and oh, those landscapes looked magnificent on the big screen. Some - including Charlie Brooker, whom you would have hoped might know better - have complained that this isn't historically accurate, simply because it's not a tediously worthy slog, but the only time I found myself unconvinced by it was when they were discussing business at the table, with a lady present. Really? Beyond that, I think this is the most plausible South I've ever seen on screen. Interesting, too, to see Christoph Waltz, the link to Quentin's previous not-quite-history film, and wonder if his part as the Good German here was by way of an apology; certainly his last line was ventriloquising Tarantino.
Less seriously: Will Ferrell and the weird guy from The Hangover in The Campaign, a very silly film which, like Django, is far better on a serious issue (here the dirtiness of US politics) than an entire awards ceremony's worth of more desperately serious films on the same topic. It even has the alarming stuff liable to upset some viewers (warning: contains scenes of pug distress). Plus, it is clearly a love letter to Trading Places.

Comedy: Ben Van Der Velde was a bit too Mission for me (Dave Gorman, so much to answer for - that structure really is the bane of Edinburgh shows), but James W Smith did very well considering his planned show about whether he was ready for kids was derailed by the fact that yes, he's now expecting one ready or not! And admitting that to strangers 12 weeks into the pregnancy = very brave. Given which, you could forgive the show being rather unformed - much like the baby at this stage, I guess.

Gigs: I've seen a fair few acts I've seen before and they were still jolly good, but the news is the venues. Like: the Water Rats is returned to us! And still has one of the same bar staff. Like: there's a half-decent venue just across Finsbury Park from me, and how come nobody I know has played there before? Or clubwise, the basement of Aces and Eights, which is just like all those basement venues we used to go to which I thought had all been tidied up and sold off. Pubwise, the Catford Bridge Tavern - a proper old pub, and I am much more likely to forgive the pint of cider I ordered being off if it is one of five draught ciders rather than the only bloody one.

Also, we completely owned the Monarch's Doctor Who quiz, even in the face of a BBC Worldwide team and other pro geeks. Result.
alexsarll: (default)
So, it is January. Which means cold, and little on, and even when snowy not really quorate for a proper snow day given all the departures from parts Finsburatic. And hence, films. From rewatching Powell & Pressburger's strange and timeless Canterbury Tale (I remembered its profoundly English mood, and even a little of its plot, but had never registered before that it had a character from the Seven Sisters Road and a minor role for Charles Hawtrey), to what I'm fairly sure will be the only viewing I ever afford The Watch (Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn are on complete autopilot, but in places Richard Ayoade *almost* salvages it).

Tintin and the Blue Oranges is at once an incredibly faithful live action addition to the boy reporter's canon, and quite stupendously gay; the short films of Jan Svankmajer are even more rum and uncanny than I recalled, especially when live animals meet stop-motion. In comparison, Steve Aylett's ridiculous Lint: the Movie almost makes sense. But only in comparison.

The Dark Knight Rises, as I noted on Facebook, seems to have been inspired less by any of Bane's comics appearances than Disney's Princess and the Frog, whose plot it strips of charm, drenches in portentousness, and then serves up as Serious Cinema. Also from the House of Mouse: Scotcom Brave, which does a very good job of finally providing a Disney princess you wouldn't be utterly depressed to find a friend's daughter idolising*. And which, like so many Pixar films, is *almost* eclipsed by its delightful accompanying short, in this case 'La Luna'.

At the grittier end of proceedings: Shame, which is good, but not as good as a film featuring Magneto and Sally Sparrow naked ought to be. And, in more of a rush than it really deserved, the first season of Treme. Sometimes I love it when a bold artist realises they've had a big enough hit to get a captive audience, and goes for broke. This was one of the other times. Truism though this has undoubtedly become, David Simon created something astonishing in The Wire. Many of the same components are here, but the problem is, now I can see the working. Political points felt like they emerged naturally in his Baltimore tragedy; too often the commentary on post-apocalyptic New Orleans is preachy. And there's a lot of jazz. Not even the good sort of jazz. Nonetheless, I burned through ten episodes in a week; despite himself, he can't help but create intriguing characters (mostly: some of them are just planks, and worse, this time out, unlike with eg Ziggy, the show doesn't always seem aware of that). Simon also contributes, incidentally, to Storyville: The House I Live In, a painfully well-argued documentary about America's 'War on Drugs'. One of those remarkable pieces which you assume will be preaching to the choir, but leaves you realising you were nowhere near anti-enough something you already thought utterly asinine.

But back in 2012 (Do you remember 2012? Is it time for the 2012 revival yet? I bloody hope not), I did go to the cinema. A whole twice! Miracle on 34th Street was utterly, tear-jerkingly joyful, and cannot meaningfully be discussed again until December. And then there's that astonishing mess Peter Jackson has made of The Hobbit, a film trying at once to turn a children's story into an epic (just as the Narnia films so spectacularly failed to do) and create a backstory to The Lord of the Rings. The problem being, as so often with retcons, that you violate both your stories in the effort to tie them together with appropriate guest appearances. spoiler ). And as much as the narrator's intro may be much-loved, you can't give those lines to Bilbo if they result in him explaining what a hobbit-hole is like to Frodo! The jeopardy levels are inconsistent with the results, turning one sequence in particular into a show-off's Mario run-through. And yet, for all that, there is not the remotest chance of me not catching the rest of the unnecessary trilogy at the cinema.
(The best piece I've read on the film, which to be honest renders most of my thoughts there superfluous, but having already written them in note form, I was damned if I wasn't going to Speak My Branes)

*Yes, obviously Leia now counts also, but that happened after Brave.
alexsarll: (default)
It hasn't been a vintage year for music, has it? I've tried a fair chunk of the stuff making the more mainstream album-of-the-year lists, and at best found a track or two pleasant enough. Some of my favourite acts released profoundly underwhelming records - Pet Shop Boys have now perpetrated a couple in a row, but I had high hopes for Words and Music by Saint Etienne, only to find too much of it sounding oddly tired. Sproatly Smith, Death Grips, Martin Rossiter and Gallon Drunk all released albums which had glorious moments but felt samey when taken as a whole; Godspeed, Madness and Guillemots (that plan to release four albums this year went well, didn't it?) all seemed to be operating well within their comfort zones. And I think the only hit single I registered with any interest was 'Gangnam Style'. Still, let's attempt to pull together a Top 20 from the wreckage...Read more... )
alexsarll: (bernard)
Last weekend, I got the equivalent of one of those experiences where people who baffle me go into a sauna (bad enough in itself), then run out into the snow. Saturday night: the first big gig I've been too in a year or more, Crystal Castles. Who at least have an audience smaller than those at the last big gig I went to, Magazine - they mostly appeared to be tiny children with brightly-coloured hair or Siouxsie Sioux eye make-up, which makes for an adorable agglomerate. Brixton Academy remains a great venue, despite the management's best efforts, and Crystal Castles continue to be one of the few modern electronic bands who really impress me, on account of having a bit of Digital Hardcore somewhere in their make-up - that old idea of a song at once physically painful and catchy. Plus, all the lightshow one generally only sees at gigs which are supposed to be A Bit Much in films. In short: delicious overstimulation. And then, on Sunday, Boring, a day of talks devoted to the mundane. Obviously the idea is that considered in enough detail, the most superficially tedious things can reveal fascination - or terror, in the case of ASMR, a subculture of which I was happily unaware before [livejournal.com profile] rhodri's talk.
Conclusion: they were both lots of fun. But I still have no intention of rushing out of a sauna into the snow, thanks all the same.

Otherwise: went for a wander with Paynter and found various odd little London delights along our way, all of which were supposed to be closed but, because it was one of those evenings, weren't. Such as a Soho gallery full of clocks become castles, and mutant taxidermy. Or an enormous free tire slide plonked in Leicester Square as promotion for a film where Wolverine plays the Easter Bunny. Finally managed to beat Charlie Higson and David Arnold at the pub quiz - but on a week where they weren't on form, so as to still only make third. Perhaps we shouldn't have named ourselves after a supervillain team, given their success rate? Saw the Pre-Raphaelite and Turner Prize exhibitions, each containing some good stuff alongside a great deal of embarrassing filler, though obviously the dead guys' ratio was a bit better. Went to another gig, at more my usual level, where Joanne Joanne were again delightful (they've started to incorporate songs from the cocaine soul years now), and Shrag played their song very well. Went on a Tubewalk, and discovered that in Lambeth it's easier to find leopard pigs than a bearable pub; the first was playing the sort of jazz that gives jazz a bad name, the second too full and too gastro for words (and had signs urging us to 'follow our banter online'), and the third was set on closing half of its floorspace for no apparent reason. And they wonder why people prefer to drink at home now.

The Guard is a black comedy starring Brendan Gleeson, a man whose face is so expressive that I could happily watch a film of him doing his weekly shop. It somehow comes across as low key in spite of all the swearing and violence - much like In Bruges, which also stars him and whose director is The Guard's director's brother. Also like In Bruges, the rest of the cast is packed with great actors - Liam Cunningham, Mark Strong as a particularly philosophical drug dealer, Don Cheadle as the FBI agent out of water in rural Ireland. Strangely moving, unlike How to Steal a Million, which I'd seen years ago and which is still as gorgeously empty as prime Wodehouse, a beautiful insubstantial rainbow which would evaporate without Peter O'Toole and Audrey Hepburn anchoring it by sheer charm. Both are of course vastly better than Prometheus, two hours of sound and fury signifying nothing but the bleeding obvious. But then, I've already discussed that on Facebook, haven't I? The same place we all now tend to put anything pithy, anything intended to get a mass response. The latest wave of spambots has taken me back to a few old entries on here, just to delete their spoor, and I'm amazed each time by what a busy poster I was. So young, too - there's a spot of anti-RTD hysteria in one of the entries I saw which makes me sound about 12. Even some of the longer, more considered content isn't here anymore - my book reviews are on Goodreads now. And yet, this is kept going, in part simply because it has been kept going, and so it would seem crazy to abandon it now - a very London attitude, beyond which, I never did like lines drawn under the past. And I suppose now, unlike February, June, July and October 2012, I've made it at least one more month with more than a single post. Livejournal Abides.
alexsarll: (pangolin)
Just finished two months with Netflix - a free trial followed by a period paid-but-with-cashback-coming, courtesy of Quidco. The selection of films is patchy, though I did enjoy the Norwegian oddity Troll Hunter and the gleeful retro vigilante pastiche Hobo With A Shotgun, and to some extent Double Indemnity, even if a noir classic is always going to be slightly hobbled if, as here, the obligatory femme fatale resembles Frankenstein's monster in a Little Lord Fauntleroy wig. Where the site really excels, though, is TV. No HBO, alas, what with Murdoch having still not had all his ill-gotten gains prised from his dying grasp - but exactly the sort of thing you want to watch once but not own, and might not get through in a week from the library. The second series of Whedon's Dollhouse, for instance - which, while still sometimes deeply creepy in ways that don't seem wholly intentional, gets away from the generic episodes that clogged too much of the first series, moves the action on while only feeling *slightly* rushed, and - uniquely for a Whedon TV show - feels like it ends at just the right spot. Or Killing Time, the true story of an Australian criminal lawyer who comes to a bad end, starring Faramir. I also got through the first season of Breaking Bad, but that's a different matter, feeling more like the start of a new obsession.
But that's done now. Ditto the final Thick of It, Silv in Lilyhammer and Frodo in Wilfred. Parade's End and the misfiring Doctor Who seasonlet feel like they were ages ago, Misfits has gone off the boil, and I don't feel quite ready to embark on the second series of Blake's 7 just yet. So until I commit to another box set, the extent of my TV commitments would seem to be Friday Night Dinner. Guess I might finally use up some of those library loyalty cards and catch up with all the films I've not seen this year; only one I've borrowed lately was A Fantastic Fear of Everything, which is far better than the artistic output of Crispian Mills has any right to be.

Otherwise, there was Bonfire Night, for which I did nothing in particular but still saw fireworks because London, and Hallowe'en. I only dressed up on the Saturday before, and yet even with the cape sweeping behind me felt deeply underdressed at the American Hallowe'en bash. How I would have coped the Saturday after next to [livejournal.com profile] xandratheblue as Judge Anderson, I dread to think, so I kept it suited and booted. And in between, on the night itself, there was the terrifying spectacle of Keith Top of the Pops and his ALL WEARING KEITH MASKS Backing Band. Chilling. Though less so than Without Fidel, who featured a glockenspiel and had a singer playing the awkward schoolghoul, and did covers of 'Super Bass' and 'We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together' which made a strong case for outlawing cover versions. Still, Her Parents were great. Hardcore is still not something I'd necessarily listen to at home, but they do a very good show.
alexsarll: (Default)
Once again, I've failed to post anything here in approximately forever. First of all there's not enough for a post, and then there's too much but not enough for two, and so on and let's just bloody write something, eh? So:
I went on a walk around London locations from The Prisoner. Walking down the corridor from the credits was quite an experience, though I can exclusively reveal that the reason he looks so disgusted, and perhaps for the resignation itself, is the overpowering smell of urine. Some of the rest was a bit niche for me, and that was aside from the brief detour into the inevitably schismatic politics of UK Prisoner fandom.
I went on another walk across the Heath, and then down for a pint. And another pint. And a couple more, and half a bottle of wine. But it started with a walk, and thus it was a very healthy day, right?
I found out where Hither Green is (seriously, I hadn't even known compass points a few months back), and that not every 'Something Cottage' in London is bullshitting with the name.
Outnumbered, I was part of a quiz team up against a celebrity all-star line-up of Caitlin Moran, Charlie Higson, David Arnold and friends. And we almost beat them, holding it to the second tie-break. A brave effort, if I do say so myself.
I saw a play about a haunted sock in my normal comedy venue of choice, and a dozen or more acts on one evening's bill elsewhere. In the latter instance, I was there for Rich Hurley, who was as full of hate - and as funny - as I'd have expected from my first meeting with the splenetic bastard, more years ago than I care to put in writing.
I've had some quiet weekends, but also managed some clubbing - Nuisance twice, new boy Some Weird Sin, Black Plastic, [livejournal.com profile] retro_geek's glam night in the implausible Cakey Muto.
I went to an alliterative gig, featuring Mikey aka Mr Solo and the Melting Ice Caps and Alexander's Festival Hall (who don't begin with M, but now sound like the Monochrome Set, so that's OK) at the Monarch, except it was the Madness for the night because it was hosting an album playback.
Best of all, though, Rebekah Delgado's album launch at Bush Hall. Which is the perfect setting for the Drugstore-y, Mazzy Star-like, late-night music she makes, all ballroom grandeur - but better still than the gig was being on the balcony early on and seeing [livejournal.com profile] xandratheblue sweep across in her grand new winter coat and getting one of those moments of yes, this life is a film, and sometimes it's a bloody good one. And rather than just throwing some other friendly acts on the bill there was a guitarist as we filtered in, and an acrobat, and human puppets, and the whole evening felt like a Moment. Even if I did miss much of the main support because I was talking to Art Brut about dogs in the bar, he had something too - a young man, but with an old man's voice and suit, like he'd just regenerated. Name of Tom Hickox, and deserves to go far.
alexsarll: (Default)
Went to 333 last night for the first time since it was still vaguely cool. It's a lot better now it isn't, although there were still residual traces of venue-that-thinks-they're-it cluelessness. The ground floor has become essentially a normal pub called the London Apprentice, to the extent that I was wandering baffled around the frontage looking for where the venue entrance had gone to hide, and had to be assisted by one of the Ethical Debating Society (who are much tighter these days, though seemed surprised to hear it). Then there was another band who had a keytar in their favour but not much else, before The Murder Act who were looking very striking and sounding more so, somewhere between Gallon Drunk and One More Grain. After which we pissed off to drink cans in the street because we are that cool. Q and I, both having recently been touched for funds by our alma mater, got a picture complete with cap in hand, which we may or may not send them by way of explaining our refusal.

Other gigs seen since I last posted about gigs seen:
[livejournal.com profile] augstone in acoustic troubadour mode on Upper Street, on the day when Upper Street was haunted by a most unpleasant smell. No connection, I should add. At least, not so far as I'm aware.
Brontosaurus Chorus Dom's new band, who were a bit loud for the 12 Bar, supporting Rebekah Delgado and her sexy weeping angels.
The Gonzo Dog-Do Bar Band, whose Bonzos tribute bafflingly omitted 'Sport (The Odd Boy)' in spite of the show coming right before the Olympics. Still, they finished with a damn fine 'Mr Apollo', and generally did justice to songs which can easily lose the appropriate strangeness. [livejournal.com profile] martylog's Mystery Fax Machine Orchestra supported, with a very eerie new song about allotments the high-point.
The Thlyds - or rather a tribute - in a show which can be heard here. If The Thlyds did not exist, it would be necessary to invent them - a voice for disaffected young Britain which, crucially, isn't the risible Plan B. 'Let's Have A Riot' at the Olympics fell a little flat, what with us doomsayers having been proven wrong for once - but the rest was brilliantly sneering.
Gyratory System, in the perfect venue of the Social, which is to say a fashionable breeze block. They sounded - or more than sounded, felt - like a burning robot factory - but with a groove.
Thee Faction, incendiary in another sense of the word, and Joanne Joanne, an all-female tribute to...you can work it out. But only the early stuff. More punk than Rhodes, Taylor and le Bon ever sounded on record, but that works.
Keith ToTP and Dream Themes. I've written about them both plenty on here before. Whatever it is they have, they've still got it.
alexsarll: (Default)
Well, if we overlook an astonishing disappointing Dalek effort from the once-great Moffat, that was rather a lovely evening - lounging in a Crouch End gazebo by candlelight, all suitably louche. And at lunchtime I'd finally got round to attending one of the Union Chapel's daytime concerts, with (The Real) Tuesday Weld taking full advantage of the pulpit; the night before I'd walked through Holborn, along the South Bank and then down to the deep South for [livejournal.com profile] my_red_dream's wedding reception, where pretty much all the old faces were together again for the first time in I don't know how long. It has been, in brief, a pretty satisfactory weekend.

At some point I got very behind writing about shows I've seen; Edinburgh is done now, and I've not even caught up with the last of the previews I saw before it kicked off. Impressed to have caught three of the Best Newcomer nominees (including the rather surprising winner) courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] diamond_geyser (all mentioned in previous posts, I think) - but then there were also the very sweet Grainne Maguire (who is not a character act), curly-haired Matt Highton (for whom I became a professional gag-writer), Phil Nichol (a sort of Canadian Al Pacino who was probably great once he'd learned his material), and Nick Doody (wrong and brilliant). And then, at a normal venue, whatever the opposite of a preview is, so now I have *finally* seen Dinosaur Planet in full.

Also, there were plays! At the Bridewell Theatre, which is not just a name, for said well half-blocks the entrance to the basement bar. I was there to see [livejournal.com profile] perfectlyvague's Thatcher in Berkoff's Sink the Belgrano - which is treasonous rot, but part of being one of the good guys is being able to enjoy art even when it's wrong. Also on the bill was Man of Destiny, the first George Bernard Shaw I've seen in ages. He really was much better at speeches than drama, wasn't he?
alexsarll: (Default)
Been on jury service this past week, and while obviously I can't say anything about what happens inside, I can say that it chucks out earlier than work, and closer to home, and while this weather has been a little hot, better now than in the rain, right? So I can stop off in a park to read and bump into the Cthulhuchild and family en route to the slides, or wander via Ally Pally to see the inflatable Stonehenge (though I didn't bounce myself - far too many rules for something called Sacrilege). And I have to admit, the Olympics haven't been the bane I thought they would. Transport has been standing up, there's a certain quiet happiness in the air, and even if I still don't care myself who done the best swim or whatever...it's all very nice. Perhaps because everyone is on the same side, as against that nasty tribalist twinge to the footballism? Even the opening ceremony, which I skipped because a) sport and b) it's a decade since Danny Boyle made a decent film - well, by the sound of it modern masques are more his forte than films now. I was rewarded with the emptiest streets I have ever seen in Finsbury Park or Dalston, though.

Other expeditions:
Peckham Rye, a park I've never quite found before, for the first picnic in too long. I think we got out of the habit of organising them, when summer seemed to have turned traitor. They have been missed.
Camden for a quiet afternoon pint, which turned into a pub crawl home. If nothing else, I have now finally been to Kentish Town's Pineapple. It is quite good.
Devon, to see the parents. Did lots of active, rural things, like hefting logs up hills, and clambering around on cliffs just along from where there was that fatal landslide a few days later. Didn't die, obviously, because I'm not a loser. But I did get melancholy over the way the streams, beaches and fields in the distance always seem so unattainably lovely, and when you get there, they're perfectly pleasant but ultimately just a stream, or a beach, or a field. This point has already been made by better writers than me, of course. I think this feeling was accentuated by coming back on a Sunday, which may have been a mistake - instead of returning to London's bright lights and fun, it just feels like the end of the holiday.
alexsarll: (pangolin)
So, the Olympics may not have been quite as disruptive to London as we were warned (if anything it's quieter, most especially during the opening ceremony when the streets were the emptiest I have ever seen, including the not-so-'dead' of night), but the TV schedules are a desolation. Nothing since The Hollow Crown, and even that was disappointing in places, most especially Simon Russell Beale's mopey Falstaff. Yes, there is great pathos in Falstaff but you don't go straight there or it counts for nothing, you show him full of life first!
Hiddleston was great as Hal, though. And before that there was Spartacus: Vengeance, which is clearly aimed at people who felt Blood and Sand didn't have enough ultraviolence. SOLD. But now we have to wait for the final series, and hope they don't lose another Spartacus in the meantime, though I suppose it does all contribute a certain 'No, I'm Spartacus!' quality, doesn't it?

So with nothing new to oblige me when I want to watch moving images, I've been catching up with films. Green Lantern, for instance, the one flop among last year's big superhero films. And deservedly so, because it is a characterless mush. Assuming you know the basics of the mythos, you might as well watch it in Uzbek, because the script does no work at all. It's all placeholder dialogue - 'Difficult father/son conversation', or 'inspirational reminder from love interest', or 'sneering veteran belittles rookie'. Horribly lazy, and it's not like Ryan Reynolds - the world's most generic leading actor - was ever going to be able to enliven it.
Conversely, another supposed flop, John Carter (it didn't do all that badly, in spite of being a victim of studio politics and a spiteful whispering campaign) is not bad at all. Which comes as little surprise - Andrew Stanton's previous film was Wall-E, so we know the man can do films about desolate planets. It doesn't quite know whether it wants to be Flash Gordon, Indiana Jones, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars, but while the tone could perhaps have been a little more solid, that's not to say it ever feels jarring (Hell, they even manage a non-shit cute animal sidekick, and that's not easy), and I'm convinced a second and third film would have built on what was already achieved. I suppose I'll just have to get them from the alternate reality DVD shop one day, along with seasons 2-5 of that other unfairly-treated space/Western hybrid, Firefly.
And then there's Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. The previous Ghost Rider film also starred Nic Cage, so this is a sequel rather than a reboot - and has ever a sequel sharing the same lead so outstripped its predecessor? The first was dull, I think I managed maybe half an hour of it and there was still little sign of anything happening. Whereas after a mere five minutes of this you've already seen Stringer Bell as a drunk biker priest who has a brief argument with Giles, then gets into a gunfight and a car chase. This is what happens when you do the sensible thing with an action franchise and get the men behind the peerless Crank in. Ghost Rider has always been a brilliant concept who is for the most part ill-served by his stories, but Neveldine/Taylor are the sort of men to whom you say 'a biker with a flaming skull for a head' and they give you a film. A damn fine film. A film where the Ghost Rider pisses fire (though in a rare missed opportunity, not on anyone. Because he would be pissing on someone who was on fire, like the figure of speech, but it would in fact be his fault they were on fire! Seriously, it would be poetry). Anyway, it also has Christopher Lambert from Highlander, and Ciaran Hinds as the Devil (there's one deleted scene where he hires a car which works as a short film in itself) and, as you may have gathered, it is bloody brilliant.

Oh, and I've also been attempting to knock off the last few complete Doctor Who stories I've not seen ahead of the new series. The problem being that in some cases - I'm looking at you, Attack of the Cybermen - there are reasons I've not got round to them sooner. Most recent, though, was Claws of Axos, from just the point where the Pertwee years were settling into formula. But it's not quite there yet, meaning you get something more reminiscent in places of a classic stand-alone alien invasion story than of Who, even to the extent of the Doctor calling things completely wrong at times (the foolish, hubristic scientist). He's also a much more ambivalent figure than one expects, to the extent that when he offers the Master an alliance, you're not wholly confident it's a trick, even watching with hindsight.
alexsarll: (bernard)
So. Installed on the new laptop, more or less, and able to update this again. To say what? To say that many Edinburgh previews have been seen and, James Dowdeswell aside, all impressed me. Stephen Carlin (dour), Daniel Simonsen (Norwegian), Tom Goodliffe (temporal), Michael Legge (shouty) and Ben Target (unnerving) were all courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] diamond_geyser, while Richard Marsh & Katie Bonna's Dirty Great Love Story was in - shock! - an actual venue. A venue attached to Shillibeer's, at that, which is somewhere I've not been in a very long time, perhaps because it's in the middle of nowhere, by which I mean off the top of the Cally Road, but now the Cally Road is a TV star that doesn't seem fair. The show in question opening in what used to be the Islington Bar, home for me to the golden age of Stay Beautiful. That wasn't the only club to feel like My Place (I think AFE was the most recent), but lately, I've not had one; I've been to plenty, but always as a visitor. So since the last post, that would include a New Cross goth night where [livejournal.com profile] xandratheblue improved matters massively with a load of pop, and a grunge night where I remembered I don't actually like that much grunge (and most of what I do like is 90 minutes of Nirvana), and even the grunge bands I like, I generally like the bits where they weren't grunge more (Hole, the Afghan Whigs, Smashing Pumpkins) - but again, there was [livejournal.com profile] augstone on hand to play that stuff that wasn't strictly grunge. Hell, even the band's best song was Destiny's Child covered in the style of Tom Waits, so again, not really grunge at any point. And then there's Glam Racket, which has departed, and Debbie, which I think could benefit from a female DJ given they do play specifically female-fronted pop, and, oh I don't know, it's a bit Catchphrase, isn't it? They're all good, but they're not right. Not totally. I think the closest I've felt to that sense of being at home while being out was at [livejournal.com profile] steve586's Wedding II: Electric Boogaloo the London party, as one of the six Doctors (plus Benton) assembled to mark the happy occasion.
alexsarll: (crest)
So. Last night I saw Hugh Grant and Newsnight's Michael Crick at close range. The former does a proper Clark Kent act when not in public, such that you initially think 'That guy would look like Hugh Grant if he didn't have those rubbish glassesOMGIT'SHUGHBLOODYGRANT!' In other words, Lois Lane is still a bit of a dolt for taking so long to catch on. Michael Crick, on the other hand, looks exactly like Michael Crick. And I saw them because I was at the Labour History Group, where floor-crossing MP Shaun Woodward, veteran journalist Peter Kellner, and a man named Neil who confusingly used to mind Neil Kinnock, were talking about the 1992 election, and why John Major surprised everyone by winning it. Turns out the whole idea about Kinnock's unelectability is an after-the-fact myth, certainly not matching with what was believed within the Tories at the time, or the polls then - even if some of the life-long Labour members still thought, with hindsight, that it was at least in part a fair assessment. Instead, it was specific tactical mis-steps which undid Labour, particular moments of luck which boosted the Conservatives. And the feelings towards John Smith were, to put it mildly, not as nostalgic as I'd expected. But apart from the Hugh Hefner-like image of Robin Cook in his dressing gown on a train (because I've suffered it, so now you must all suffer it too), the main thing with which I came away was the general consensus that both Kinnock and Major were fundamentally decent men, who had a good deal of respect for each other. How alien and long-ago does that sound now?
This talk was, of course, by way of a 20th anniversary post-mortem, but was nonetheless handy in its proximity to [livejournal.com profile] perfectlyvague's rather good War of the Waleses, Which was officially summarised as "KDC's modern take on a Shakespearean history", though I would describe it more as a Shakespearean take on modern history. Not least in resisting the temptation to do recent politics as an impressions show* (sorry, Michael Sheen, but it has got tiresome). So 1992-7 is held up to the light and rotated, different facets seen - 'Honest John' Major becomes a tragic hero, Diana (not even blonde, but still perfect) recalls Oedipus at Colonus as she feels her mere humanity falling away, and the press magnate declaims and schemes with the earthy evil one expects of the classic malcontent. Not every character can be reinvented, of course - the horror of Blair is still too fresh for him to be played as anything but the loathsome shill he always was. If I go and see friends in plays, then it's because they're talented friends, yet still I don't expect to come away thinking more than 'that was promising, and scenes X and Y, or character Z, was very good'. But this, this was something properly special.

Otherwise: two front-room Edinburgh previews, Who is Nish Kumar? and Stu Goldsmith: Prick. Both good, but the latter more to my taste, not least because I was the audience target for the section on men's misconceptions about lesbians. The return of Black Plastic, now in a Dalston club which if it only had some dry ice would look like the nightspot from an eighties film, and which would seemingly rather you take in a 9/11 Truther sticker than chewing gum. The Melting Ice Caps back to the solo setting which suits David's songs best, and a new White Stripes-style live line-up for Philip Jeays. Plus shadow puppets from another act I suspect I wouldn't find terribly interesting without the shadow puppets.

*There was a Camilla Parker-Bowles lookalike, but she was only in the audience, so that's OK. Well, except maybe for her.
alexsarll: (default)
Pootling around the Internet and my MP3 library for the first time in more than a week today. It may not be the most 'productive' use of a day off, but heavens it's welcome. I've been racing around doing fun stuff - living room stand-up from Matt Crosby and Joel Dommett; the Indelicates and the New Royal Family playing either side of a band so bad I think they might have been character comedy; a gallery launch in a Berkeley Square mews; a night of all-girl pop; a day of all-male drinking. And it was all thoroughly marvellous, but now, relax. Oh, and I saw Avengers [Assemble], of course. Which did not disappoint. All but one of the films leading to this nailed the characters perfectly; now they finally have the Hulk right too. Characterisation happens through dialogue and action as the story progresses, not through pausing for a tedious scene of Acting. The Helicarrier looks as awe-inspiring as one can sometimes forget it should, and then the thing happens which is crucial in any major Helicarrier appearance. And the mere fact that it exists, that franchises are being crossed in their prime and not as a barrel-scrape like Aliens versus Predator or Freddie versus Jason, and that it's all been *planned*...well, Grant Morrison already observed that the superheroes were jumping off the page and on to the screen like prehistoric life emerging from the ocean on to dry land. But this feels like the heroes have brought the structure of their universe with them.
Other films seen recently, for a given value of the word:
Drive and The Killer Inside Me; both essentially mood pieces. For me, the former is much more successful; its violence also felt far more shocking than that in the much more controversial Killer.
City of Lost Children - which feels more like Tim Burton than a lot of Tim Burton films. An impossible dock-side city, a steampunk science rig which feels much like I imagine Bioshock might. Ron Perlman in Jean-Paul Gaultier, speaking French, which feels like a violation of the basic laws of nature and that just contributes to the queasy yet oddly solid world that has been built here. Haunting.
Jackboots on Whitehall - a misfire. Tries to bring the Team America puppet vibe to a gleefully stupid alternate history of the Second World War, and in doing so demonstrates quite how smart you have to be to make something as successfully stupid as Team America. Also, the DVD is missing a key scene, but at least that means I get a refund on it.
The Lion in Winter - do you ever wonder how the wisecracking couples in screwball comedies might fare in later life? How all that plotting and quipping might start to wear after a decade or three together? Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf feels to me like a bit of an answer, but this is a better one, because here the couple are Peter O'Toole's Henry II, and Katharine Hepburn's Eleanor of Aquitaine, so between them they determine the fate of an empire. Also, Anthony Hopkins is one of their sons, and he's been having an affair with Timothy Dalton. This is as good as films without explosions get (there are some swordfights, but they're not very good).
The Lair of the White Worm: aside from the obligatory scenes of topless nuns, this doesn't even feel like a Ken Russell film, just a fairly bad horror film which happens to feature the young Hugh Grant and an unnervingly fresh-faced Peter Capaldi. Who, being Scottish, has bagpipes with him on an archaeological dig. Obviously.
Pretty Persuasion feels more like Heathers than any other teen film I've seen - that same deviousness, that understanding of just how nasty teenagers can be. The big difference here is that the boys are sidelined - mostly just fulfilling plot roles, rather than characters in themselves. And the adult men...well, like most men, they're really just teenage boys too, only older. Bleak, and I'm unsure about the ending - but then I don't like the ending of Heathers either.
alexsarll: (Default)
I've finally finished watching The Ascent of Man, which is every bit as impressive an achievement as its reputation suggests, tracing human history from before the beginning to 'the present day' (ie, the early seventies), in the process showing up most supposed documentaries as the facile, fragmentary toss they are. Seriously, if Adam Curtis has a copy of this, he watches it on long dark nights, then curls up and weeps. Should we make contact with some actual intelligent life, and have a few days to win them over, then this would be the ideal introduction, a 'Previously...In The Human Race' intro which - the Holocaust episode notwithstanding - makes us look a fair bit cooler than we usually are. It's angry at times, rightly so, but optimistic with it. It is, essentially, a factual counterpart to The Wire in terms of What TV Can Do.
Anyway, perhaps because Olaf Stapledon's future history Last and First Men is one of the very few works to operate on anything like the same scale, I found myself flicking through that - but it wasn't my copy, it was the library's more recent edition, with an introduction by science fiction writer Gregory Benford. An introduction which disses the first few chapters, advising new readers to skip them entirely, because "Stapledon proved to be completely wrong about the near term". Now, granted Stapledon predicted that what we now know as the Second World War would be vastly more destructive than it was - but everyone from Waugh to Wells made the same mistake, something we now tend to forget because it seems obscene that such an awful, epochal conflict was in fact a mild drizzle compared to the final downpour so widely predicted. Beyond that, though, here's Stapledon's near future:
- "With Europe exhausted, America and China eventually become the world's superpowers. Had they learned from the best of each other, this might have foreshadowed a golden age; instead, there was an exchange not of virtues but of vices."
- The emergent global culture falls, for various complex reasons, into a one-dimensional worship of ceaseless, purposeless motion. True, the motion in Stapledon's future is the literal movement of planes in aerobatics, not the abstract dance of finance and 'growth', but I think we can forgive that.
- Inevitably, this foolhardy cult begins to tax Earth's resources, but the high priests blindly insist that the answer is ever more of the same; their god must be placated, so everyday luxury, even health, is sacrificed in order that the ritual functions can continue.

If only he had been wrong.
(Somewhere in the back of my mind, some of my more quixotic components have now become fascinated by the idea of a Last and First Men roleplaying game, perhaps utilising the fact that the Last Men, two billion years hence, can travel back telepathically to any period of the human past)

Between this and the stuttering, perhaps-foolhardy progress through Blake's 7. I've not been watching much current TV. Justified, of course, especially now that the rest of the show is almost up to the level of Timothy Olyphant's central performance as the wry, unflappable lawman. But beyond that, it didn't help that everything seemed to have converged on Wednesdays, 10pm. I opted, of course, for Sons of Anarchy - which has been correctly summarised as Hamlet on Harleys, if Lady Macbeth had been swapped for Gertrude. Except...you know how Hamlet is all about delays and dithering? I think Sons may have overtaken it on that point. The fourth series artfully twisted the knots ever tighter, limiting the number of characters and their options, making clear there was only one way this could end. Except - it didn't. Yes, the reason for that was not entirely implausible - I sometimes wonder if the baroque profusion of clashing law enforcement agencies in the US exists solely so that TV shows apparently headed for their Götterdämmerung can then stall everything with an inter-organisational pissing contest. And yet, still, the season ended feeling like the show should have ended. I'm tempted to jump ship here, but I suspect the need to know What Happens Next will lure me just as it has always lured humanity to disappointing sequels.
alexsarll: (Default)
Most of the people I know in bands appear to be off in the Midlands this weekend. So what better time to be nice about them online, when I will feel less like I'm sucking up? Yes, I am totally brilliant at logic, why do you ask? In no particular order:
[livejournal.com profile] steve586's new project aka Ladies & Gentlemen aka Steven Dogs In The Wild, who get points just for knowing certain members of the audience might be 'pedantic about Greek myths' and are influenced principally by Scott Walker when he was good. They are able to overcome even the fact of making their debut in a shamelessly greenwashed venue whose eco-cred seems to consist of predictions about car use in 2010 still collaged to the walls, a chandelier made of 'recycled' (by which they mean full) biros, and flogging Strongbow for £3.50 a can.
Jonny Cola & the A-Grades, playing the much more pleasing (but equally new to me) Black Heart in Camden (which I would definitely recommend next time someone asks me for venue ideas). Somewhere along the way, they appear to have become a proper band. They are also part of a theme where bands have supports who, if not good, are at least on the same wavelength as them. Here it's Thee Orphans, some of whom used to be the glorious These Animal Men, but who now sound like Slade without the songs.
Similarly with the lovely, bruised-but-unbowed slow anthems of Rebekah Delgado at the Lexington. The late-night-whiskey sound of Madam makes for a perfectly matched support, and while the third act is not to my taste (one Regina Spektor is enough for me, thanks), if she is going to find an audience then it will likely be among fans of Delgado and Madam.
The bands playing at Flabby Dagger in Dalston are none of them my thing. In fact, they're all making a bloody racket. And yet, they make complementary rackets, and rackets which do somehow fit with the excellent fare the DJs are mostly playing, everything from 'Ring My Bell' to the Dead Kennedys.
And then, of course, you have the exception, the more common London gigging experience. Quimper are playing a night which is running a week late, thus clashing with the comeback show by the New Royal Family. Apparently this was because the promoter told the headliners the 31st. It's unclear whether this referred to the headliners who don't show up, or the ones who have a Keith TotP-style revolving line-up and lack of rehearsals, and as such could presumably have done the 24th just as well. Fortunately, in spite of the thrown-together situation, Quimper's electronic poems of malice win converts, so the experience wasn't a total fiasco.

Otherwise: I've visited the new look King's Cross, and wished that all temples to consumerism could at least be this pretty. There's a station bookshop called Watermark, part of an American/Australian chain who seem to be aiming higher than those grisly WH Smith outlets which stations normally use. There's the Parcel Yard, which we decided could be London's biggest pub, though its labyrinthine structure makes it difficult to be sure.
I've been on a psychogeographical odyssey (and not, as one friend on whom I cancelled had thought, a pub crawl) in Shooter's Hill, where the palace of the moon goddess rises amidst sunny suburban streets straight out of a Ladybird book, in that strange patchwork land where London flickers out at the edges.
I've danced to girl pop in Stokey, and remembered how much I've missed pop in clubs, and got excited to have a new night about which to get excited for the first time in ages.
Life's pretty good.

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