alexsarll: (default)
Just over a week now since I got back from Prague; the now-traditional late anniversary trip which has taken us ever further afield, first Margate, then Bruges, and this year Mitteleuropa. The first time I've flown in getting on for a decade, too, and I still can't abide the ridiculous mixture of security theatre and profiteering which we still have to go through on account of one half-arsed terror scheme all those years ago.
In Berlin, which even more than Paris seems to have made too many concessions to the automobile, we almost wholly failed even to skirt the fringes of the city's famous nightlife. True, it can't have helped that we were there on weeknights in January, but mostly we tired ourselves out sufficiently doing the hits (museums, Wall fragments, the Brandenburg Gate) that evenings in with Lidl fizz were a welcome wind-down. The exception being the black light crazy golf, which was a truly consciousness-expanding experience (not something one often hears said of golf), even given we left the cocktails until after. And then, a train along the Elbe, all castles and crags. Well, I say that; first there were interminable plains which made East Anglia look fascinating, but I try to forget those. But then the romantic riverside, and then Prague itself, one of the very few cities which to me is a thing in itself rather than a monoculture ultimately traceable to a cutting from one London district. This was my third visit, and I hope it won't be my last, for each time there are new riches, or at least new riches to me - the Cubist cafe, the old Jewish cemetery and the Municipal Hall have all been standing since long before my first time there, way back in the nineties. There's a lot more English spoken now, which I put down to the stag parties and the Internet; also a lot more Thai massage places, which I'm pretty sure will just be the stag parties. But it's still Prague, still cheap by any standards other than the past's, still enchanted. And long may it remain so.

Since I returned, I've managed to be busy without being particularly social, in part because I was already booked elsewhere on the night of the month's big people-I-know-gig. Still, worth missing the odd show to see Daniel Kitson, who remains, well, Kitson - more comedic this time than sometimes, more play than storyteller, but still a law unto himself. Ditto Birdman, a film I like despite it being up for awards from the Academy, whose general cluelessness is finally beginning to become more widely apparent now they've snubbed The Lego Movie (I'm not saying they're the world figures most in need of hanging from lamp-posts, but I would like to see them on that list). Even at the Union Chapel, for my first Daylight Music of the season, I managed to miss many of the people I knew on account of it being unusually full of people I didn't. Who could have known that the mainstream draw they needed was Amelia Fletcher singing about chickens, Sarah Cracknell's new sixties-style side-project, and Darren Hayman doing William Morris?

There's still a ton of other stuff I should write up - most of Autumn and Winter is jotted in drafts somewhere - but let's post this now, at a sensible length, rather than strive eternally for something compressed and complete.
alexsarll: (default)
Went to the eerie free-standing church tower in Crouch End last night for an evening of music and ghost stories. They had it done up wonderfully, at once properly uncanny and not too terrifying for such kids as were brought along...and then blew it completely. The first teller seemed to be reading his tale for the first time, and it wasn't like the material was going to save him when it had Mayor Richard Whittington in the 17th century (or, at one point, the 19th) and gargoyles falling where no gargoyle had been. Site-specificity is not a cheap way to add heft, it needs work. We left still disagreeing over whether the subsequent cellist's faux-rap was outright racist, or just really shit. A missed opportunity.

Last weekend, though - that was the first big weekend of the summer. You could even measure it from Wednesday (because normally Thursday is the new Friday, and I had Friday off) when, in a happier use of a normally disregarded space, the funny little community hall on Whittington Park hosted Philip Jeays' comeback show. At first a little uncertain after 18 months away, by the end he looked ten years younger and reminded what a gift he has. The support included two acts who were good if they were character comedy and alarming if they were not, plus - most unusually - a quite good poet, Sophia Blackwell. Don't think I've seen that happen since Murray Lachlan Young.

Then into the long weekend proper, celebrating lovely [ profile] xandratheblue's birthday. First comedy; Josie Long (whom I'd never seen do a full set before) and Thom Tuck. Thom's show this year didn't make me laugh so hard I couldn't breathe, unlike his last one (and unlike John-Luke Roberts, who with Nat Metcalfe had done the first Edinburgh preview show I caught this year - yay local comedy mafia). But it's lingering with me like few comedy shows I've seen. I'd like him to get famous, at least cultishly Kitson-style (because I somehow can't see him doing arenas). Then on Friday, to East London and its already famous (though oddly, not to other cult East London businesses) cat cafe. Which does indeed have a lot of cats, even if only two of them seemed particularly keen to talk to us. I suppose if you wanted guaranteed friendliness, you'd have a dog cafe instead. Up to the Geffrye Museum, one of the dwindling band of London museums I'd never visited (it has good chairs), and pubwards for the evening. Saturday, picnic; no pinata this year, but my first ever go on Cards Against Humanity, which is every bit as excellent as the Daily Mail's hatred of it suggests. Plus, someone brought a dog! See above re: friendliness thereof.

On Sunday, because it was if anything an even lovelier sunny day, I went to sit in a municipal building to listen to a grumpy man. But it was Jonathan Meades, one of our finest grumpy men, so that's OK. The Stoke Newington Literary Festival is somehow even more North London than I'd expected; you even get given a free atheist periodical on the way in.
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 [ profile] catbo (ditto). So well done Colin Hoult for effectively increasing awareness of your work among the key [ profile] barrysarll demographic. Because I was watching Kevin Eldon narrate [ 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: (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)
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 [ 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 [ 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 [ 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: (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 [ 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 [ 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 [ 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 [ 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 [ 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)
So yes, hasn't there been a lot happening since one could last log in to LJ? Though somehow it seemed that Russian spammers could post comments even when I couldn't get in to delete same. Not cool. Also not cool: too many deaths, near, far and famous. Unnecessary. Possibly the best bit of Jerry Sadowitz' set this week (first time I've seen him, unless you count his Channel 5 show back when they were what seemed at times like the only TV home for stand-ups, and what a strange thing that is to remember) was the Norway/Winehouse material, because it was where you could most tell that he was a man howling out his anger at an unfair world the best way he knew how, somehow being funny in the process like Elsinore's gravedigger is, and not just Frankie Boyle or some such twerp.
(Other comedians seen: Nick Doody and Henry Packer, both less famous and less wrong than Sadowitz, though the latter was pretty bloody wrong in places by any normal standards. As is hopefully obvious, this is not a criticism. Also Richard Marsh, although that was more of a comedy/poetry hybrid, or a storytelling show, or just a very strange thing for a man to do if he doesn't especially like Skittles, but v.good nonetheless)

What else? London is empty lately, isn't it, or emptier than usual, outside the tourist areas anyway. Some people say they're all on summer holiday, I suspect heat death. Which would be for the best, I mean, what's with all these people I don't know or like who don't even work in sectors of use to me, daring to clutter the place up? I went to some community art a week or two back in the Andover, more normally known for stabbings than experimental dance, and while obviously it's laudable that the denizens were watching the dance rather than stabbing each other up, their understanding of audience etiquette was sadly lacking. Oh, and courtesy of [ profile] exliontamer's concubine I've been revisiting some classic board games of my youth. Well, first of all I had to visit one that was new to me, Dream Phone, which just felt like a queasy exercise in pre-Internet grooming. But then we got on to the classics. Well, I say classics but it turns out that Ghost Castle is barely better than Snakes and Ladders in gameplay terms - there's precisely one choice in the whole game and nobody ever takes the slower, safer route - and yet it does have a glowing skull tumbling down a chimney causing havoc, and that counts for a lot. But Escape from Atlantis, and Lost Valley of the Dinosaurs - these remain pinnacles of the form. Atlantis in particular is sufficiently spiteful that you wonder if Luke Haines' books somehow omitted a period as a games designer, its mechanisms encouraging needless nastiness and even at times a gleeful suicide drive from any player who knows they can't win. Excellent stuff.

I've also found the first new London venue I like since, what, the Silver Bullet? Namely Native Tongue in Smithfields, where the Soft Close-Ups played on Tuesday. An underground bar in the Buffalo Bar sense, but a little airier, a little more choice at the bar. Definitely to be encouraged. And I've been watching Torchwood, of course, though addiction aside I couldn't necessarily tell you why. The science fiction side of it all is being handled very well, in terms of the ramifications of death just...stopping. So's the horror, with that basic uncanniness and revulsion of a thing that should be dead or even more simply immobile and yet refuses to stop moving. But as drama, it's nonsense - and as evil as I am prepared to consider Pfizer et al, buying their stand-ins as villains for something like this just doesn't gel. So inevitably it's going to be aliens behind it all, but if so, why bother with the false reveal? Why, in general, is it all taking so long?
alexsarll: (Default)
So, yeah, not posted in a while. Been too busy doing STUFF. What sort of stuff? Lots of living room comedy: Michael Legge; Behemoth; Iain Stirling; Matt Crosby; Joel Dommett. They were all at least quite good, mostly fairly cute, and often endearing shambles, and I wish them all well in Edinburgh. Which, like Glastonbury, is a great British cultural institution I am entirely happy never to attend. Reading books, some of which will probably get a post of their own at some unspecified future point. Watched The Green Hornet, which in spite of starring Seth Rogen and the main Nazi from Inglourious Basterds, and being directed by Michel Gondry, was still deeply middling. As was the Kevin Smith comic version, come to think of it. He's a good idea for a character (vigilante poses as criminal), he has a great look, so why have I never encountered a decent story with him in? Oh, and I lost my first eBay auction. The upside to which is that in the process, I made the presumptuous bastard who wanted to buy the same book as me pay more. Well done eBay, you understand human nature well enough to have set up a website where we can take spiteful pleasure even in our defeats. Plus I went to see Orpheus Knoxx, who share a drummer with Bevan 17 and have the first person I met off the Internet (NOT EVEN LAST DECADE BUT THE ONE BEFORE!) on guitar. On one song he#s basically playing a slowed-down version of Bauhaus' 'Dark Entries', but mainly they remind me of pre-Britpop Lush, or Sharkboy if they hadn't always been somewhat disappointing. The only problem is that they're playing on a Friday night in Shoreditch, where even the sausage and mash is pretentious. They will play better gigs in other places, and more people who pay attention should come.

And also, of course: party. We didn't entirely mean to have a party, or at least I didn't. There was less than 48 hours between conception and execution, and two of us forgot until Thursday morning that on Wednesday night we'd agreed to a Friday shindig. Send out a handful of invites, mainly to people who live within 10 minutes' walk, and you expect to end up with maybe a dozen people sat quietly boozing and shooting the breeze in the living room, right? Instead, we get reviews online like "one of the strangest house parties I have been to in Quite A Long Time" and "Everyone is to be congratulated on our awfulness". I won't say we should do that more often, because I suspect trying to recreate whatever spirit was upon us that night would end in either anticlimax, or structural damage. But yeah, after so long steering clear of the idea, turns out I rather enjoy cohabiting with chums. A decade late. Maturity, as ever, being what you make it.

Early bird

Jun. 23rd, 2011 08:07 am
alexsarll: (Default)
Interesting Bright Club for June, on 'Science and the Media'. Not all of the acts had that much to do with the ostensible theme (plenty, including Strawberry and Cream, just went for innuendo-going-on-outright-filth, not that there's anything wrong with that), but those who did, the tech journalists...the self-disgust was palpable. They don't enjoy producing the reports which annoy Ben Goldacre any more than Ben Goldacre enjoys reading them. I doubt the editors and picture editors enjoy demanding them, either. It's just another of those messed-up Wire-style systems which screws everybody without anyone even enjoying the process. Which obviously we should have known in the first place, but the confirmation is welcome nonetheless. My other recent night out raised questions of its own: how can Jonny Cola, who has grown into a pretty good frontman, be so atrocious at karaoke? Why does a performance poet who looks like the poet in question does think that his work will in any way be enhanced by nudity? And why must the St Aloysius close when, based on my three visits there, it is a home to such reliably surreal entertainments?

I've started watching Castle, even though it isn't very good. A bestselling crime writer helps the cops investigate crime? Exactly the sort of 'high'-concept tosh the US networks churn out all the time. But when the writer is played by Nathan Fillion...yes, I'd rather he were still making Firefly. From interviews I've seen, so would he - he says he'd buy the rights if he won the state lottery and fund production himself. But, alas, he is not. So if we want to see him on screen, Castle is what we've got. And the bastard's charming enough that he can make me overlook everything I don't like about the show (which is pretty much everything else, especially the James Patterson cameo as himself) and keep going. Though I may just be saying that because at times Fillion seems to be auditioning for the role of me. Hell, I'd give him the job.
Because man cannot live by imported US crime dramas on Five alone, even though the summer schedulers seem to think otherwise, I also continued with my project of watching all the surviving Who I've not seen. This time: the surprisingly good Enlightenment, probably the most eerily Sapphire & Steel the show has ever been. Though I say that having only watched the special edition, which uses new CGI and cuts about 20 minutes from the running time - and you don't feel you've missed anything in those minutes, because old Who stories can be added to that long list of things which, though great, no one ever wished longer. As for what Eighties special effects made of the haunting central image of sailing ships racing majestically through space, I dread to think.

And then there's comics. Oh, comics. I love you, but you're getting me down. I bought three new comics yesterday, and bear in mind these were not just random, flailing picks, but carefully chosen on the basis of the writers' past work. Well, two of them were. The one I pretty much suspected was going to be dreadful was Brightest Day Aftermath: The Search for Swamp Thing. The title's a hint, isn't it? But it features the return of John Constantine to the mainstream DC universe, where he originated but from which he has spent many years separated by editorial fiat. And that's the problem here - it's not a comic which seems driven by a story the writer needed to tell, but by editorial - or maybe, worse, branding. Even since the preview DC had in almost all of their comics last month, details have changed, dialogue and art been altered to bring in different characters, and that is very seldom a good sign. And the writer charged with handling this exercise, Jonathan Vankin, comes in with this weird Ray Winstone-meets-Dick van Dyke speech style for Constantine. It is, in short, hideous, and does not bode well for DC's forthcoming universe-wide relaunch, which again looks to be an editorial decision at best. And in the wake of which all the other DC titles are winding down with stories which feel all the more pointless for looking likely to be erased from continuity in three months. Though Paul Cornell's current Superman tale felt pretty bloody pointless even without that looming. You may know Paul Cornell from his many fine Doctor Who stories, or 'Father's Day', but he's also done some very good comics. Having spent a year handling Action Comics (the original Superman comic) without Superman, he'd told an excellent little epic in which Lex Luthor wandered the DC world, meeting its other great villains, in pursuit of the power with which to rival Superman. Except then Superman came back in for the conclusion in issue 900, and everything fell apart, and now we've got a story in which Superman and his brand extensions are fighting the boring nineties villain Doomsday (back then he killed Superman - guess what, it didn't stick) and *his* new brand-extension clones. This is the sort of comic which makes people give up on comics.
And then, away from DC, there's Ultimate Spider-Man, which Brian Michael Bendis has been writing for 160 issues (plus various little spin-offs). And aside from occasional blips, he's kept it interesting that whole time. His alternate take on Peter Parker is still in his teens and, fundamentally, is less of a slappable schmuck than the classic take. Bad things happen to him, he makes bad decisions like teenagers do, but he never seems quite the self-sabotaging arse that the classic and film versions of the character usually do. But now...Can you spoiler a story called The Death of Spider-Man? )
alexsarll: (crest)
Yesterday was the first Who this season that I didn't see live, because I was off having a lovely pub crawl country walk in Kent. Not the bleak Kent, or the bits that are basically London's dregs, but the Garden of England bit which inspired HE Bates (whose cottage we went past). And it was lovely. London is the place for me, now and for years yet, but one day I shall have a cottage somewhere with an old graveyard and cricketers on the green, where nothing of importance ever changes. Speaking of which, 'The Curse of the Black Spot' was thoroughly predictable, wasn't it? Every plot beat could be foretold at least a minute before it happened, in part because the set-up was the classic Who base-under-siege, and the resolution was a tribute to early Moffat. But I find something oddly comforting in these middling, everyday episodes, and Amy looked great as a pirate (even if her differences with the siren could surely have been resolved more sexily), and it made no sense but somehow I even forgave the virus/bacteria line, because if Who was always as full-on and smart as those first two episodes, and as I suspect next week's Gaiman story will be, then it would just get a bit too much.

Last weekend's big news stories left me mostly unmoved; our mediocre future monarch was wed to a passably symmetrical young woman, and we eventually killed a bastard who had it coming, but who was only ever first among equals. But then the last combat veteran of the First World War died and...that's huge. A moment, an era, could last week be described as 'in living memory', and now it can't. And then on top of that, the AV vote, in which 85% of my countrymen made clear that in spite of the last 30 years, they're quite content with how politics is done here, thank you very much. Which disgusts me. But at least, of the 11 areas nationwide which voted otherwise, Finsbury Park is at the intersection of three - and next to a fourth. The others include Oxford, Cambridge and Edinburgh. The smart places, basically. It's only a crumb of hope, but it's something.

The Dodgem Logic jamboree on Wednesday has been well-covered elsewhere (and there's even a photo of my back at that link, just to prove my presence). Savage Pencil's loud, unhelpful contributions aside, it was a brilliant evening - but then when you have Alan Moore, Stewart Lee and Robin Ince on the same bill, that's inevitable, isn't it? Kevin O'Neill, Melinda Gebbie and Steve Aylett also turn out to be just as interesting off the page as on. For a moment I even thought I might be able to get a poster of O'Neill's 'four seasons' image from the last issue (so far), but no, it was just one promo piece. Which he talked about, saying that it was inspired by the idea of a perfect England for which the English, even as far back as Chaucer, had always been nostalgic. And then Alan Moore was talking about how Dodgem Logic had been inspired by the old underground mags but, rereading them and seeing how they actually were rather than how he remembered them, he had in fact, if he said so himself, made something better. Which reminded me of someone characterising the new Doctor Who - and this was even before Moffat took over - as the programme which actually was as good as Doctor Who fans remember Doctor Who being. People can be dismissive of nostalgia but, in the right hands, it's a profoundly creative urge.
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Went back to Bright Club last week for the first time since talking there; you do start regarding the talks with something of a professional's eye, but I think I would have laughed at the bioengineer and disdained the sociolinguist just the same without my experience. Josie Long, meanwhile, made the ideal compere. Well, joint-ideal with Ince, maybe. Then on Wednesday the patchily amusing Your Highness - possibly the first time I've ever seen a film marketed around its comic character actor lead stolen by the straight man. I can see why James Franco winds people up, he does seem to be infuriatingly good at everything to which he sets his mind.

And then - the long weekend. Ridiculously sunny throughout, barring that rather wonderful little storm circa Doctor Who, just as people want bank holiday weekends to be - though for me it was maybe a bit much. Started off by going to see The Vichy Government (alongside various other bands who don't deserve even the meagre publicity of a mention here) in storming form upstairs at the Garage, and coming away with a hurled Marguerite Yourcenar which some philistine had abandoned but dammit, it was meant for me anyway. Then picnicking, the last London Stay Beautiful (band and bar queue awful, otherwise a fitting send-off), a local pub crawl for local people, and more picnicking, complete with William Tell rocketry. And on the fourth day, I rested. Before heading out again last night to see Bevan 17 and Pan, the latter in particular playing to far too few people - I've never seen the Old Blue Last so empty. Presumably the usual clientele are either partied out or overseas to dodge the wedding which, by the by, is driving me closer to republicanism than I've ever danced before. Then home via Shoreditch High Street, which for a new overground station feels oddly like a grand old-fashioned airport.

You know how when Green Wing started, it was generally slated, with people complaining that it was more silly than funny? And how gradually the tide of opinion changed, and people realised that it was just painting a very strange little world, and people were going back and catching up on what they'd missed? And now there's Campus from the same team, it's being generally dismissed in the same terms Green Wing initially was?I'm wondering (albeit not enough to actually go Google-digging) whether it's really the same critics, and they are that incapable of learning from their own mistakes.
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I haven't been up to a huge amount lately; judging by today's sun the time of hibernation may be ending, but there's been a lot more reading and DVDs than antics. Spot of furniture construction for [ profile] xandratheblue (sometimes I wonder if I may have overdone the John Steed-style 'pose as feckless incompetent' bit, people do get very surprised when I'm practical), comedy then pub on Sunday (Michael Legge especially good as the bewildered MC, Steve Hall from Klang talking more about his swimsuit area than I might have wished, but still excellent). I've watched a lot of films, but more on them later in the week, I think. Two series finished and one promising new show started, so let's keep this one televisual.

My hopes for BBC One's new space colonisation drama Outcasts were not high; I'd heard bad things about how the makers didn't like it being considered science fiction, and as a rule that just means someone is making very bad science fiction. Imagine my surprise when it turns out to be the hardest SF I've seen on TV...possibly ever. And that's hard in both senses; the set-up is not that far off Firefly, but this is a lot less jaunty and swashbuckling. This is about the hard slog of the early days, the muttered references to how bad things were on Earth, the realisation that humanity is down to a few thousand people and even they can't live peacefully together. A good cast - Liam Cunningham, Hermione Norris, Keats from Ashes to Ashes and Apollo from BSG - but not all of them make it to the end of the episode. I like it when shows kill off major characters unexpectedly, it helps to maintain the sense of jeopardy.

Primeval used to be good at that too. This series, not so much, even though the protagonists have suddenly developed a quite uncanny ability to go on missions without adequate back-up, then drop their guns. Since ITV attempted to cancel their one good programme - for showing up everything else they produce, I assumed - it has got visibly cheaper, not in terms of the monster CGI (still great) but in terms of what seems a hurriedness to the writing, and a weird emptiness of the sets. They've saved a ton on extras, but ended up with something that feels a bit too much like Bugs, if anyone remembers that. But if nothing else, it's the only TV drama I've spotted which has any interest in demonstrating the evils of PFI.

But for really getting through the main cast, since Oz ended there has been nothing to equal Spartacus: Blood and Sand. I'm not surprised they're following it up with a prequel, because there really aren't many characters left to follow into the future except Spartacus himself, and Andy Whitfield is too ill to resume that role, poor bastard. And of course prequels have their own problems, because you know who's going to make it. So this may turn out to have been essentially a one-off - but what a one-off. Looking back, even in the earlier, sillier episodes the big theme was there, and that theme was the real trickledown effect. Not the happy, fluffy right-wing fantasy where we all get rich off the very rich's spending - the real version, where the moment's whim of someone higher up than you can up-end (or simply end) your whole life. Again and again, person A suffers simply because B has just had a row with C. And especially when B literally owns A, that can be fatal. Even when they don't, a catastrophic cascade can still result - but the indignities and worse, the difficulty of love or friendship, of being unfree are powerfully drawn. And where the corny old film of Spartacus used this haunting horror of slavery to praise the American Dream, to show how much better things are nowadays, the TV show is made in darker, wiser times. It knows that, unless there happen to be a couple of oligarchs watching, the audience are slaves too.
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If you haven't been keeping up with Luke Haines' recent ventures, he's just released 50 albums. Which so far as anyone can work out are 50 versions of the same album, Outsider Music each recorded live in one take, and each costing £75. I don't have it, no. There's various Bill Drummond-style rhetoric about this restoring the sanctity of the physical album &c, but given the old bastard has always made an art out of wilful perversity, I suspect a large part of it is making a few grand quickly while seeing what the fans will put up with. In much the same spirit, last night he played the new material live at the Hoxton Pony, a venue whose name is in a sense honest, but perhaps a little too disguised by the Cockney rhyming slang. The intro tape doesn't seem to be able to stay at the same sound level for a whole song, and two of those songs are by the Doors. And the support is a berk who is apparently from a band called Silvery, and who seems to have been booked just so Haines can remind himself how much he hates Britpop because his stuff sounds like something which [ profile] steve586 would refuse to play at Nuisance. Haines himself is sounding a little odd on account of some missing teeth, and horribly plosive because he's doing stuff with the mic which even I know how not to do. It is, in short, not the ideal setting. On top of which, as Haines says while introducing the song about a friend who met Alan Vega of Suicide, "the new songs were rather like the old songs". One song, more recent even than the Outsider Music stuff, is introduced as part of a forthcoming concept album about seventies wrestling, and concerns the domestic arrangements of Kendo Nagasaki. From anyone else, you'd know that intro was a joke. But from Haines? (Suggested heckle: "Play the one about the seventies!")
Haines is in that spot a lot of artists get to where they've found their territory and, if they do get any new fans, it'll be through a critical rehabilitation rather than a sudden shift in the material. This is not necessarily a bad thing; I was listening to the new Twilight Singers album on the way to the gig, and there's not a surprise on it, but that doesn't stop it from being the third best album of the year so far (not the faint praise it may seem in mid-January, the H Bird and British Sea Power records are excellent). But if these songs really don't get any wider release...well, most of them I won't honestly feel as gaps in my life, the exception being the brilliant 'Enoch Powell'.
And then we get the old songs, and a reminder of why we put up with all this because yes, the man has written several dozen absolute and eternal classics, and here's a selection. Most terrifying is to hear 'Future Generations' in the company of a fan born in the nineties*, proof that Haines was, as usual, right when he first sang "the next generation will get it from the start".

I hadn't even been planning to go to that show until mid-afternoon; I had other plans, and I'd assumed it was sold out. And by that point I'd already reached my standing goal of doing at least two things per day beyond pootling around on the net or reading a comic or two or other minor stuff; I'd filled in my tax return, and I'd finally watched Videodrome (which is basically just 'Blink - The Queasily Sexy Years', isn't it?). This in spite of having developed a problematic addiction to "I am the man who arranges the blocks" after having heard it at Bright Club the night before, with which I had thought I should re-familiarise myself given I'm performing at the next Wilmington one on February 15th.

*edit: Actually 1989, I am informed, and unlike Wikipedia I trust people to correct their own biographical data. But I feel the point stands.
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I was in a radio version of The Oxford Dons. You can download it here. But change the price to zero before doing so.

So. The last week, what's to report? Let's start with Saturday, because Saturday was awesome. I like Glam Racket but I'm not sure I've ever stayed for a whole one before. This time I did and...Bowie and glitter and kissing, oh my. Plus bonkers songs I'd never heard before ('Pantherman') or had never realised were quite as dodgy as they actually are (Slade's 'Skweeze Me Pleeze Me', there, with the lyric "And I thought you might like to know that when a girl means yes she says no"). Proxy Music were live, showing off their new Eno who definitely looks more the part, but perhaps doesn't quite have the presence to front two solo tracks. Other expansions include a very fetching new female Andy Mackay, a Lene Lovich cover (a bit off-message, but still pretty good) and the encore - 'Mother of Pearl'. I always said their repertoire should include at least the third Roxy Music album, which even Eno (who had just been sacked) knows is their best. And now it does. Bliss. Before that I'd been in the Pembury. I'd heard a lot about the Pembury but never been there before, and it seems to be essentially a family-friendly Ale Meat Cider, without the cider. Well, they had one, and it was OK, but it seemed to take them about half an hour to change the barrel at one point. Why must they persecute my people so? This was an especially severe contrast given Ale Meat Cider had this week had something like seven or eight ciders on, including one called Moonshine which tasted like Christmas.
Friday was [ profile] rhodri's birthday, meaning the entire internet was crammed into the Hope & Anchor, even down to such rarities as [ profile] dafinki and [ profile] strange_powers. The birthday boy's own Gentlemen's Agreement are still way too smooth for the venues I see them in (they should be in an eighties cocktail bar at all times, ideally one with red leather sofas), but headliners Scaramanga Six suited the sweaty rock'n'roll basement perfectly, even if one of their singers does look uncannily like Derren Brown's tougher brother. I especially liked the track which begins with a breakneck spoken word section ending "You should have killed me when you had the chance!"
Then on to No Comment, the first time I've been upstairs at the Garage since it had the refurb and embarrassing rename. I'm nothing like an expert on industrial, meaning I only recognised two tracks and one of those was Empirion's mix of 'Firestarter' which at the time I didn't really approve of. But after all these years, I can admit that it's very good for stomping around in. There is, however, a limit to how much stomping one can do in cowboy boots (my only shoes capable of taking the weekend's torrential rain) so I didn't make it to the end.

I've watched two films this past week: Kevin Smith and Seth Rogen's Zack and Miri make a P0rno, which is a lot better than I'd heard, and Hot Tub Time Machine, which isn't. Both have Craig Robinson, an actor I have never knowingly seen before (though apparently he was in Pineapple Express), in supporting roles. This may be the least noteworthy coincidence ever, yet I am noting it nonetheless, because that's just how I roll.
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The ever-wonderful BBC4 is currently running a series called In Their Own Words, which is essentially footage and tape of authors talking from 1919 to the present day. Some of them are people one can barely conceive of as existing in a recordable era - so we get GK Chesterton (sadly being a bit racist), HG Wells (sadly being a bit of a useful idiot about Russia), and a snippet of Virginia Woolf (paired with the original Alasatian Cousin joke, and this is a programme the young Morrissey would have loved). Admittedly, in many cases people were only filmed past their prime - hence a puffy-faced old Evelyn Waugh eyeing up his interviewer, calling Woolf and Joyce "gibberish" with a hard G, and Christopher Isherwood who may in his youth have been fit to be played by Michael York and Matt Smith, but in later life comes across more like a sketch comedy character. But still, there's Iris Murdoch intense and strangely charming like one of her own characters*, and Anthony Burgess' improbable hair, and I know I've never read it but how come I never realised that The Lord of the Flies is science fiction? The highlight, in spite of stiff competition from Graham Greene refusing to have his face filmed (he's just a smoking hand on a train through the European night - perfectly Greene) is TH White, even if the voiceover does get the number of sequels to The Sword in the Stone wrong. Sat in a sumptuous room in his Channel Island home, White is complaining about how hard up he is after tall his earnings go to the "farewell state". Replies the interviewer - "But you have a swimming pool. And a Temple of Hadrian."

Magicians stars Mitchell & Webb, and is scripted by Bain & Armstrong. As well as some of the rest of the Peep Show cast, it also features half The Thick of It (notably Peter Capaldi as the prestidigitation world's Simon Cowell), Andrea Riseborough, Jessica Stevenson and even Marek Klang getting to do more than be sexually harassed (which is not something one can say for BBC3's new-look Klang Show). And yet, it's really not very good. How do British TV comedy talents so often manage this when they hit the big screen? And, because I increasingly realise there are no two films between which I wouldn't see a connection if I watched them close together, another 2007 film which turns on fake spiritualist activities - There Will Be Blood. As so often with epic American films, it would have been even better if it hadn't been so self-consciously an epic American film - it's trying that little bit too hard to be Citizen Kane or maybe even the mythical director's cut of The Magnificent Ambersons. But, while it could have stood to lose a half hour or so, Daniel Day-Lewis was every bit as good as I'd been given to understand, and I was pleasantly surprised by the happy ending.

An amusingly convoluted tale from the world of Warhol collecting, where the decisions of a shadowy and unaccountable organisation can transform a work's worth overnight from hundreds of thousands to pretty much zero. But since anybody interested in the 'authenticity' of a Warhol work is a moron and/or only in art collecting for the money, their suffering is funny.

*I just finished The Sacred and Profane Love Machine, which reminded me quite how underappreciated she is as a writer of genuine horror - most every book of hers hasone scene which leaves you shuddering for days.
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Finally, someone's talking seriously about getting rid of Tube drivers. Let's start by ditching the people who are paid to get on the DLR, nick the front seat one carefully positioned oneself to grab at Bank, and then pretend to drive just as one was doing oneself before being so rudely interrupted.

Another local comedy preview this week, which I think it would be fair to say was a little less polished than the first, plus two gigs with a Georgeson connection; the Soft Close-Ups, on a stage covered inexplicably but beautifully in confetti, fit a cover of Mr Solo's 'Astrology' into the set, alongside a does-it-count-as-a-cover of Luxembourg's 'About Time'; the rest of their set is as expected, but it's not as if they play often enough for these songs to lose their sparkle. David Devant themselves, on the other hand...maybe it's like Larry Niven's concept of mana as a finite resource, but I find myself wondering if all the belief the World Cup is taking up means less iconic energy to go around elsewhere, because until the encore they are merely 'very good', as against the usual 'magical'. Perhaps part of the problem is that I have seen in the pub beforehand that Foz? has a swanee whistle, a kazoo and a duck call, but none of them make a noticeable show during the gig. It's like having a gun on the wall in the first act and then not firing it by the end of the third. Except quackier.

Spent yesterday in the centre - and without sighting a single elephant, though I did happen upon Postman's Park at last. The goal of the expedition, though, was the Hunterian Museum. Supposedly it's a resource for surgical education, but most of the stuff there can serve no purpose except freaking people out. The disembodied circulatory system of a baby, in particular, will follow me through my nightmares, and there was a syphilitic cock in a jar whose eye follows you around the room. Some of it is simply random - a jar containing a tapir's anus, another with the nipple of a horse - while other relics are celebrity underskin, like Jonathan Wild's skeleton or half of Babbage's brain. Hideous, yet wonderful. Very London.
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A great weekend for sport, with the first UK bonving of the season (or indeed, several seasons). The beauty of bonving is that it's such a ridiculous activity, and takes place so infrequently, as to render talent and skill deeply marginal; few trends develop, and former championship contestants can quite easily find themselves trousered.
Obviously I can't pretend that was the only sport this weekend - there was also some football, taking up a couple of minutes of Doctor Who which I presume Matt Smith very much enjoyed filming, having himself only narrowly been saved from a life of footballism by some injury or other (o felix culpa). 'The Lodger' was a lovely little episode, with the emphasis on 'little'; the tacked-on suggestion that the (unexplained) ship might work its way through the whole population of Earth aside, this was about some disappearances in Colchester, nothing more, and before that, about one man who needs a bit of a nudge to sort his life out. Insufficient Pond, clearly, but a lovely Matt Smith showcase. And next week - Drahvin! Chelonians! Monsieur Moffat, you are spoiling us.

Other recent activities: an Oxford Dons read-through (repurposed for radio, it's now longer and wronger); Will Ferrell as George W Bush, hilarious as you'd expect without being as obvious as it could have been; the Bowie Bar, with some frankly scandalous behaviour from one rock star in particular, though I don't think that was what caused one of the DJs to have a meltdown in the Gents; improving my recent ONLY WAR average; seeing Daniel Kitson perform what I hadn't realised was the final ever 66A Church Road show, a very moving and only incidentally comedic meditation on home, and memory, and the evils of the property market, which I had also seen at a very early work-in-progress show, making me feel I've lived with it just like he lived in the eponymous flat, getting me into a strange sort of self-reflexive nostalgia for a show about nostalgia.

Charlie Stross on the perils of near future science fiction; it's hard to outrun the advancing present.
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Sometimes I feel like I'm living at right angles to everyone else's London. Ironically, what brought this home to me was crossing Oxford Circus on the diagonal. How long is it since they relaunched it that way? Months, at least. Yet until yesterday I'd had no cause to see it, much less use it. Even yesterday I was cheating slightly, I needed to cross back across Portland Place further up, but it was too good a chance to miss.

Sobriety, like any altered state of mind, is quite fun as an occasional thing - but feels a bit worrying if you suspect it's becoming a habit. Spent Sunday and Monday lolling around abstemiously, watching Stephen Fry on Wagner and The Kid Stays In The Picture and such. By Tuesday evening, my craving for Pimm's and comedy was strong, which made it damned fortunate that [ profile] diamond_geyser's living room Edinburgh previews have resumed. Unnervingly, her new house appears to be exactly the same as her old house, except with a different man in the basement. Tom Craine and Nat Luurtsema were the acts, neither names which meant anything to me beforehand and both with acts which were very much still works in progress, but entertaining nonetheless and I would recommend them to anyone spending August in the relevant bit of Scotland.
Then out again last night to the George Tavern. A lot of venues which strive to feel rock'n'roll are in fact just grotty and rubbish - the late and unlamented Nambucca being a particularly spectacular example - but somehow the George works it. The sound is not especially subtle, but the feel is right, and it thoroughly suited Bevan 17. The headliners were the Ethical Debating Society, a band I've been vaguely meaning to see for ages, and though they were pleasingly energetic, by the time they came on I was not. A couple of songs, then home.

I don't disagree with the general feeling that the new Gaga video is a bit of a let-down - but only as compared to its predecessors. It's still leagues ahead of something like the new Rihanna, in which she's apparently trying to set the record for Least Convincing Pop Video Sapphism. Not that starlets cavorting suggestively was exactly Gaga's invention, obviously, but the Rihanna effort just looks so tawdrily bandwagonesque. Whereas Kylie's 'All the Lovers' video, for all its literal mountain of writhing flesh, feels distinct. Because it's got its own personality - or rather her own personality, that old bright and sunny Kylie charm, just updated with a little more physicality.
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Watching The Mary Whitehouse Experience again in 2010, it's amazing how well it's aged. Yes, some of the topical jokes were now totally lost on me, let alone younger members of the audience*. Others have been overtaken by events - who knew at the time that John Major really was a secret shagger, albeit with Edwina Currie rather than Marilyn Monroe? But overall...yes, it's still funny that M Khan is bent.

Saw Scarlet's Well for the first time in ages last night. They're a much quieter, less rambunctious band than they used to be, but still with that core of British strangeness which snared me; they've not stopped telling tales of the strange little town of Mousseron, it's just later at night there now. The support were appropriately gentle too - Pocketbooks were twee in the best possible way, while Vatican Cellars, who for some reason I had expected when I heard about them to be spiky and noisy and a bit Paper Chase, are more gently Bathers or Dreamers or someone else on whom I can't quite put my finger. Then home to finish off Carnivale - in so far as one can ever finish a cancelled series. The end of its second season did, though, feel like a natural ending, in a way that the cut-off point of, say, Deadwood did not. Any further seasons would have been a very different show, and given the portentousness and occasional hamminess was already more noticeable in the second series than the first, very possibly a weaker one.

Not that I do festivals myself, but I note that Glade, which I recall some friends rather liking, has been cancelled, in part because of police costs. Topical, given a festival organisation recently stated ""We are anxious about the use of a scoring system for [the cost of policing at] public events that lumps all music festivals together, without any reference to style, size or location. The score informs the level of charge and the guidance sees music festivals given the highest possible score - considerably above that of any football match.". This in spite of the considerably greater risks associated with policing the soccer. See, this is why I hate footbalism. Not the game in itself, a harmless little park pastime in its proper form. The special treatment it receives, the way it's allowed to deform transport networks, TV schedules, police budgets. Still, I have some hopes that with the passing of the New Labour regime, that horrid obsession politicians had with being seen to like footballism may also have ended.

*People can now legally drink who were not born when The Mary Whitehouse Experience first aired. Terrifying.

January 2016



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