alexsarll: (default)
It is, as has been widely observed, Spring. Markedly earlier than last year, albeit marred by the loss of several trees which always made my commute a little less of a chore (lost to developers' cupidity, too, rather than the storms). Though I did also get to see some of the more impressive consequences of the storms when I took a trip down to the margin of the English Riviera to see the Dawlish destruction (and peculiar retail complex Trago Mills, which was a scene of carnage in an existential rather than a weather-damage sense).

Back in London, I've been to a model railway show, which apart from its inherent delights (tiny trains!) was a real corrective to any idea that the crowd at the Geeks Inc Doctor Who and comics pub quizzes could be considered particularly male-heavy or poorly-socialised. I've learned that some pubs think a table booking is for a two-hour stretch (yes, that is 'pub', not 'prestigious restaurant'). I attended a late opening at the Wallace Collection and enjoyed the empty rooms more than the performances, especially when we found the armour you could try on. I've taken pointlessly precarious routes across the junction of the Limehouse Cut and Bow Creek, had the first ice creams of the season, marked Purim and encountered the usual run of new pubs, some to be cherished (the North Pole and its range of oddly appropriate ciders) and others less so.

Not very many gigs lately, and two of the ones there were were at Paper Dress, a thoroughly Hoxton boutique/venue hybrid which is a lot less annoying than that description would have guaranteed a few years back. Both Mikey Georgeson and the Soft Close-Ups did pretty well there, which I suppose indicates that they at least pay proper attention to sound &c, rather than treating the juxtaposition of functions as sufficient gimmick in itself. Would that all venues could say the same. The last time I went to Power Lunches, they were steadily running out of drinks through the evening, in the manner of shambolic venues everywhere. This time, they had a solution to that - don't have anyone serving (upstairs) until the first band takes to the stage (downstairs). And, just to make absolutely sure there's a rude cunt talking at the back of gigs at your venue, why not hire him as the sound engineer? Though even he had the sense to shut up during Quimper. As who wouldn't, because while they're lovely folk offstage, during the performance they seem to channel something altogether alien and unfriendly (this is a good thing, obviously). Next up was Pete Um, of whom I've heard much and by whom I've heard a little, but whom I've never seen live. This turns out to have been a major oversight. Somewhere, in a world where the story of pop begins with and is dominated by John Shuttleworth, punk sounded like this.
Had something of a disagreement with the minicab driver after; fortunately, weaponised posh accents won the day for the cause of justice. See, they're not just for destroying the structure of the nation.
alexsarll: (death bears)
Apparently the 100 Club should be saved - but only through a sponsorship deal and associated renaming. So last night I went for probably the last time before it becomes the Sony Rebellion 100 Club, or the George Osborne Tax Shelter 100 Club...just imagine how those giant zeroes at the back of the stage will look when they're replaced with Rupert Murdoch faces! Still, for one night only, David Devant and his Spirit Wife could make us forget that. After coasting a little of late, they've got new songs! A new spectral roadie! And the magic tricks are back, even some la-la-la-la-la-lead piping! Excellent stuff. Between songs, Vessel reads from My Magic Life, but it's his own running autobiography, not the original Devant's. It is an excellent way to mark a midwinter solstice after which we all hope things will get brighter - even if outside, all that's happened so far is that rain has replaced snow. Remember how, two winters ago, we all got massively excited and rushed off to build snowmen and have snowball fights, because we only had one chance? And now we're back to thinking of snow as a wintertime fixture, like we always imagined it was supposed to be from the Christmas cards.

The last weekend before Christmas seemed to be largely cancelled on account of snow and illness this year, and yet I found myself not minding too much. I just holed up with Powell & Pressburger's first collaboration and Howard 'Misfits'* Overman's underwhelming Dirk Gently adaptation, then moseyed through the snow to Dalston for a pleasantly subdued Sunday. It may have helped that on Friday I got through the following:
- The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.
- Tom Baker being Tom Bakerish at some unsuspecting ancient Celts in the first of a new series of audio adventures, The Relics of Time.
- Volumes 12 and 13 of Robert Kirkman's superhero epic/soap opera Invincible.
- Nuisance, complete with house band playing Britpop covers.
Of each of these things one can fairly say: that was great fun, but also, really, what the fvck?

*Speaking of which, I was slightly underwhelmed by the Christmas special. Yes, any Christmas special which is motivated by a thorough hatred of the church is doing something right, but the religious plotline felt a bit too much like the first season finale, and I wonder whether the resolution might not be a cop-out. Still, I suppose a lot remains to be seen depending on the unseen choices they made.
alexsarll: (crest)
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.
alexsarll: (Default)
The new Tindersticks album has a track called 'Peanuts'. "I know you love peanuts, I don't care that much, but I love you, so I love peanuts too", sings whichever underrated female singer they've got duetting with Stuart now (one downside of Spotify is that it never tells you these things). But when Stuart sings "I still love peanuts" back in that distinctive slur, it really doesn't sound like he's saying 'peanuts'. Any suspicion that this might be mere mischance is squashed on the next track when he's definitely singing "she rode me like a pony". I love that a band so elegantly heartworn can also be so thoroughly puerile.

First gig of the decade last night (unless you count that noisy mob everyone fled after the speakers at Bright Club, which I'd prefer not to). And it was David Devant & his Spirit Wife, which should have been a good kick-off but...well, it was good. It just wasn't great. But then nobody can be as good as them at their best every show, can they? Special mention to Foz? for an excellent jacket.

Went to [ profile] jamesward's Stationery Club beforehand - or should I say, 'Hashtag Stationery Club'. The way Twitterers retain the @ in conversation feels oddly formal, like something from a couple of hundred years ago when you would always use the 'Miss' or 'Mr' before a name. And I felt strangely old-fashioned being introduced as someone from the real world, just because Twitter is about the only piece of online tomfoolery where I don't have a presence. The pen selected as Stationery Club's first topic was not entirely to my taste, but the advantage over a book club is that you can turn up and find this out with a minute's loan of someone else's, whereas with a book you usually have to invest at least an hour to convincingly justify the suspicion that it's not for you.

Last year, the Guardian ran an article asking why so few novels deal with work. I thought at the time it was asinine (just to pick one, possibly obscure example - Bridget Jones' Diary?) but having now read Matthew de Abaitua's 2007 The Red Men, it seems doubly so. Of course, it doesn't matter that de Abaitua can write better than any average Booker shortlist could if they all networked their brains and collaborated, because he excludes himself from 'literary' consideration by using science fiction elements (and not doing it in a dumb, 'this is not SF' way, which you can get away with). Plus a dose of Gnosticism, and elements of the techno-thriller. But how else are you meant to address the issue? If you just try to realistically address the office, you get The Office, a dull reflection, even more boring than the original and no more illuminating. When so many people don't even realise how work is taking over their lives, distorting their personalities, how do you address that without making the issue strange and thus noticeable again? So de Abaitua externalises the element of the personality which falls for all the corporate lines - the driven side with no time for family - as the 'red men' of the title, uploaded simulations of employees which turn on their originals if they feel the original is slacking by wanting to do things like kick back and enjoy the fruits of success. Which can hijack any electrical equipment to bug their lazy partners, because some people don't think it's crazily dystopian enough that they're being bugged with official business on the Blackberry, computer and 'phone when they're not in office hours. And so forth. It's not a perfect book - the resolution is so pat it could almost be Jay MacInerney - but as a vision of a very near future London (or rather, the London of a couple of years ago given a couple of twists - the North London Line hasn't even become the Overground yet), it's not bad. And as a novel of work, it's hard to beat.
alexsarll: (seal)
Watching a passable Nabokov travelogue/documentary yesterday, mention was made of the (twice) near-burning of Lolita at the back of Vladimir's house on Seneca Street. And that Wire book I'm reading had made mention of how hard a time David Simon had convincing HBO to make the show, and even then, its survival beyond the third season was by no means certain. And I started thinking, that's what I'd do with a gate between alternate worlds. Not save or conquer parallels that had gone awry, just take people through the stuff that never got made, or never survived. There's plenty we're missing, too - the full runs of Aztek and Big Numbers, more than half of The Canterbury Tales. It would be a productive cultural exchange, and you could make a fortune in the process. Win/win.
(Of course, there'd be a 'Library of Babel' problem where once you started looking you'd find an infinite number of slightly different versions of each lost classic - and indeed, of each extant one. And you'd go mad trying to find the best of them all. This is my problem, even in my daydreams I'm overwhelmed by the endless ramifications of everything)

Saturday night: finally a purpose to the existence of The X Factor manifests, as it delays the start of Soul Mole, meaning I can after all go see the Indelicates. Briefly I wonder whether this is such a good idea - they were so very perfect the last couple of times I saw them, surely this can only disappoint? See parenthesis above; I think too hard sometimes. They are bassless, and have a questionable backing track for 'Savages', so in that sense they are imperfect. But, somehow it still works, feels different not worse. When you're operating within the field of greatness, there's a lot of variation possible without diminution. Support is Keith TOTP, who is very loud and covers 'Lonely This Christmas' while wearing a black Santa hat emblazoned with 'Bah Humbug'. Good stuff.
Then on to Soul Mole for the usual dance-'til-feet-hurt-then-keep-dancing fun. I think it may now be the club I've been attending longest? If so, it richly deserves that.
On my Sunday trip to [ profile] beingjdc's annual festive bash, the first bendy bus has a bit of a spasm and the back doors won't shut. The driver tries to fix the bus by...turning it off and on again. It doesn't work. Their end cannot come too soon. The two I got yesterday behaved rather better, admittedly, as I made a late visit to the bafflingly-redesigned 12 Bar to see that rare beast, a Soft Close-Ups show. The promised elephants are absent, but as well as their own songs (and while 'Ditch The Theory' remains my favourite, 'Fireworks' is rapidly closing on it) we get a rather beautiful cover of 'Life on the Crescent'. As a Devant song, I know a lot of people love it, but I never quite felt it fit the band. Here, it belongs.
alexsarll: (manny)
Up to Kilburn for the first Vichy Government show since the US election. New songs abound, a particular highlight being the typically cheerful 'Siberia' - it may be their take on politics and society which first slaps you in the face with Vichy, but sometimes I think it's the ones which apply the same despair in the personal sphere which I love most. Andrew, ever encouraging, identifies it as 'Winter Forever Part 2'. This isn't entirely unfair, but nor is it any bad thing.
Beforehand, having spent a while reading in Kilburn's oddly congenial little park, I meet the troops at the Black Lion, which soon gets bonus points for giving us free samples of a new Smirnoff vodka - also what I initially take for shots in tubes, a bit like those Eerie Pub cocktails. Fortunately, before I can drink any I am informed that they are actually glowsticks. Everyone else has already gone the bracelet route, so I make mine into a glowing collar like I've been enlisted in the Nu-Rave Penal Battalion. I am already wearing my MAGNETO WAS RIGHT t-shirt* and red Converse; Johnny helpfully informs me that I "look like even more of a dick than usual".
On Saturday, the meet-up is held at the Highbury Corner Wetherspoon's, who have introduced something new and strange: alcoholic ginger beer. It is yummy and, if not quite Ginger And Free as would be appropriate pre-David Devant, it is at a promotional price. I approve. Wetherspoon's may have its flaws, but compared to meeting at the dismal Famous Cock it's the bloody Ritz. I do briefly set foot in the Cock later, to tell Aug not to have a swift pint because Devant are on in five. He suggests halves instead, I acquiesce. Except they don't have any Strongbow. For once, because I have no reason to remain in this shambles any longer, I am in a perfect position to do as I always wish in this circumstance - shout "Well why isn't there an upturned glass on the pump, then? Fvck's sake, it's not exactly complicated!", and exit.
Keith TOTP is on first, and as ever his UK Minor Indie Celebrity All-Star Backing Band has something new to offer. A sober member! A bassoon (an instrument I have always loved on account of its looking like a rocket launcher)! And a version of Devant's 'One Thing After Another' which really shouldn't have worked but was in fact astonishing.
Then Dream Themes, who cover TV themes, rather well. Although hearing a version of The A-Team theme in a club does give me major Spaced flashbacks.
Finally, David Devant, who I think I've seen live more than any other band, but who even when they're just playing the classics, thrill me every time. Lovely.

Yesterday I saw a butterfly die. It fluttered down on to a leaf, and as I moved over to take a closer look (I'd not seen one sat still in a while), it folded both wings over to one side. I blew, to wake it up, and instead it just fell off the leaf and lay still. I felt guilty about disturbing its final rest, so I feel the least I can do in recompense is memorialise it here.

Any song called 'Tesla's Future War' needs to be a great deal better than the extant example of the form.

*Selected for the Vichy show because it's probably the most confrontational garmen I own, though I always tend to forget that on this parallel it's not really all that controversial, because here Magneto is a fictional character. As I am walking to the station, musing on this, a guy comes the other way with the exact same problem: he's wearing the logo of the Sinestro Corps. We do our best not to acknowledge each other.
alexsarll: (bernard)
Boris scrapped his first bendy buses today. His reign has now justified itself, and anything else is just a bonus.

If you ever find yourself having a terrible moment of clarity about the gigging scene, wondering whether it isn't just a terrible parade of narcissists and special needs cases taking the name of art in vain - seriously, go see an open mic poetry night and your worries will vanish in an instant.
The band-based elements of the evening worked rather better (OK, shambolically - but entertainingly so, particularly the version of 'Unity Mitford' which, courtesy of a clown's guitar, ended up somewhere between Slash and 'My Lovely Horse'), and one of the Indelicates-affiliated poets (plays god in The Book of Job - The Musical, apparently) had his moments. And afterwards, after one of my occasional forays into roadieing (roadying?), we met some very generous but totally lost fruit thieves. But the open mic stuff...OK, if you do take the advice in the first paragraph, be aware that you do so at your own risk.

There's an art exhibition underway in the 'phone boxes behind the Royal Academy - because apparently that's where rejected pictures for the Summer Exhibition get left. It's pseudonymous, perhaps for legal reasons, but...well, some of the booths are quite shiney on the inside, shall we say. I like the postcard reading 'email mum' in among the tart cards, but possibly the most powerful contribution is the way that one of the booths has an overwhelming smell of stale urine - undoubtedly a comment on the degree to which Marcel Duchamp's urinal has at once defined and limited so much modern art. Right?

A lot of people have suggested - I hope in jest - that unemployment would see me getting into daytime TV. Even before the age of the DVD box set, I had quite enough reading and wandering to catch up on that this was never going to happen, but I was looking forward to some classic "films so sad they're only shown when the country's at work", and until this week I'd been disappointed. Sure, there were some Powell & Pressburgers, but I already have those on DVD (having got into them, if memory serves, through a screening of A Matter of Life and Death last time I was dole scum, a decade back), some Miyazaki I've already seen on Film4, but this week there was finally something new (well, old, obviously, but new to me). First, Jimmy Cagney in Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye. My policy of attempting any film which has given the Flaming Stars a title doesn't always work out - I think the only real great I ever found that way was The Day the Earth Caught Fire, and plenty were abandoned in short order - but this is a nice, nasty little gangster flick of the old school, all greed and brutality and innocence led astray in a world where, Production Code or no, it's clear there was no other choice. And then on Thursday, Frank Capra's Lost Horizon, the original Shangri-La story, which influenced everything from Iron Fist to Neal Stephenson's Anathem but has a tragic, terribly real escapism all its own, Ronald Colman the great diplomat who finds an earthly paradise away from all the struggle of the outside world - but can he bear to stay there, and if he does, what will it cost him? So seductive, and so much more topical than whichever catchpenny nonsense is being shown in primetime about the State of Things, with the inhabitants of the happy valley perplexed by the pointless avarice of the outside world: "Look at the world today. Is there anything more pitiful? What madness there is! What blindness! What unintelligent leadership! A scurrying mass of bewildered humanity, crashing headlong against each other, propelled by an orgy of greed and brutality."


Jan. 23rd, 2009 05:41 pm
alexsarll: (magnus)
I'm surprised more hasn't been made of Mick Harvey leaving the Bad Seeds. Mick's been working with Nick since The Boys Next Door, and I've always wondered how much of what we think of as Cave is in fact Harvey, particularly when listening to Harvey's other projects. I suppose now we get to find out.

Final Crisis: Superman Beyond's second issue confirms that this is the comic Final Crisis should have been. Yes, Grant Morrison is reusing his old tropes again - breaking the fourth wall, Limbo, the self-evolving hyperstory, creators trapped in creation - but here there's a manic, fizzing joy and ingenuity I'm not getting from the parent Rock of Ages reprise. Some great 3D sequences, too - though should you happen, as I did, to look out of the window with your glasses still on, it brings a real moment of Crisis terror - RED SKIES!
Elsewhere in comics, Bendis' Dark Avengers may not have any lines to equal the best of Warren Ellis' Thunderbolts run, but in so far as it's taking that series' concept - Marvel's biggest bastards given the keys to the kingdom - to the next level, I'm very much interested. Thunderbolts, meanwhile, has gone deeper and darker under Andy Diggle, and this issue includes a considerably more substantial Barack Obama appearance than that meaningless fluff-piece of a Spider-Man back-up strip, albeit to considerably less fanfare.

Have been left with a nagging sensation that I've not used my leisure to best advantage this week, to the extent that I started getting quite angry with myself/the world and had to go wander the British Museum for a while to calm down. Silly, really - even aside from the nebulous business of Seeing Nice People, I've watched another Losey/Pinter/Bogarde masterpiece, Accident; seen the Soft Close-Ups and Mr Solo; and made a reasonably good start on Ulysses, so it's not as if I'm flicking myself off to Trisha just yet.

I know list articles are intrinsically pointless, and I know they're designed to provoke quibbling, so I'm not going to get up in arms about the omissions from the Guardian's Novels You Must Read, or the times where they've chosen a book which isn't the author's best. And I should be glad, I suppose, that one of the seven sections was science fiction and fantasy. But since when was Kavalier & Clay, The Man Who Was Thursday or The Wasp Factory science fiction or fantasy? They may not be dull enough to be literary fiction, but none of them takes place in a world that is not the consensus version of this one - except in so far as they are not true. If we say that the fictional comics in Chabon's book make it an alternate world, then so does the fictional MP in The Line of Beauty, and down that line every book bar the most tiresomely domestic becomes SF. Which would amuse me at least a little, it's true, but is patently nonsense.
alexsarll: (crest)
David Devant have new material! And Brontosaurus Chorus do too, but that doesn't come as quite such a surprise, them not having been however many years now without any. Still, let joy be unconfined! Anyway, it's that time of year, isn't it? The NME have printed their predictably predictable list, so I might as well tell you what were really the Albums of the Year, 2008 )

As for singles - or I suppose we should just say 'tracks' wasn't a bad year, but there was no Song Of The Year, was there? By which I mean something both brilliant and ubiquitous, an 'Umbrella' or 'Get Ur Freak On' or 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head'. 'Wearing My Rolex' felt like it could be that song, but it was too early and didn't hang around like it ought to have done, ditto 'Ready For The Floor' (in spite of that brilliant proto-Dark Knight video) and Hercules & Love Affair's 'Blind'. MGMT's 'Time To Pretend' and Black Kids' 'I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You'...too hipster to win over the world, perhaps? Both wonderful, though. I think the song which'll probably take me right back to 2008 in years to come is 'I.W.I.S.H.I.W.A.S.Gay'; alas, if it does conquer the rest of the world, it's not going to be 'til next year now.

Best book title I've seen recently: Building Confidence - For Dummies.
alexsarll: (menswear)
Can anyone find a definitive story on which version of Battlestar Galactica the lorry driver was watching at the wheel? Obviously there's no excuse for inattentive driving, but if he's hooked on the new version I can at least sympathise - whereas if he was watching the original, as some reports claim, then add bad taste to dangerous driving and throw away the key.

Went to that big Concrete and Glass festival last night. Well, sort of - I went to one venue right on the periphery where the only three bands who interested me* were very thoughtfully all playing not only in the same venue, but the same room.
[ profile] augstone and I attempted to take advantage of this by smuggling chairs into that room, but others, jealous of our seating, stood spitefully in front of us. Not a bad little venue, either - called the Brady Arts Centre. You could tell it didn't get used for many gigs, though; when I first walked in the lights were blinding, and you could smell the scorch as the dust burned off them, like the first time a radiator goes on in Autumn. They'd also had to bring in a bar - and not just cans, draught, but you could see the workings giving it a splendid mad scientist's lab feel - "You call me mad? I, who have created pints?" And they were using the bottom drawer of a fridge for the cashbox. A sign on the door to the garden said children shouldn't play unsupervised, because there was an open pond; I went out looking for it, didn't find it and was briefly locked out.
Weird being in Whitechapel a day after playing binge catch-up on Warren Ellis' Freakangels.

I've been reading two biographies of peculiar writers, AJA Symons' The Quest for Corvo and Steve Aylett's Lint. Though written 70 years apart, they have a lot in common. Both writers, like so many, struggled to find success during their lifetime - something one cannot in all honestly be completely surprised at given the work. Lint's novels included I Blame Ferns, Nose Furnace and Sadly Disappointed (about a child who is not possessed by the devil); he was also the writer of the short-lived TV show Catty and the Major and the seventies comic The Caterer. Corvo wrote historical romances, translations from languages in which he was not fluent and a history of the Borgias in which he refused to use the word 'poison' and which he eventually disowned in an argument over grammar, but is best known for Hadrian the Seventh, a book in which his Mary Sue becomes Pope and saves the world, the efforts of thinly-disguised versions of his enemies notwithstanding. On which note, both had a knack for making enemies. Lint favoured the principle of 'effortless incitement', by which he was able to provoke violence even in casual passers-by, but was the subject of particular loathing from the critic and dullard Cameo Herzog (author of the Empty Trumpet books); Corvo had a spectacular feud with the Aberdeen Free Press, but beyond that was convinced that all the forces of the Catholick Church were arrayed against him (he had failed in two early bids for the priesthood, in spite of a liking for young boys). Of course, upon their deaths such enemies as had outlived them were quick to change their tune and hail their genius - something which threw several of Lint's enemies given the persistent 'Lint is dead' rumours during his lifetime. Both cut odd figures - "Lint filled the room like a buffalo, with a haircut like a Rolodex and a greying beard like a surf explosion", while Corvo described himself as a "haggard shabby shy priestly-visaged individual". Corvo claimed to have invented colour photography; from childhood Lint was obsessed with the search for new and unnamed colours. Both have been survived by their work (and in Corvo's case by his handwriting), leading to small sodalities of devotees - Stephen Fry is among Corvo's fans, while Alan Moore gives a rave review of Lint on the back of Aylett's book. Lint, described by Gore Vidal as "entering the world of letters like a fat man jumping into a swimming pool", died while writing his thankfully incomplete attempt at autobiography, The Man Who Gave Birth To His Arse; Corvo left the scandalous The Desire And Pursuit Of The Whole, having earlier declared "I am now simply engaged in dying as slowly and as publicly and as annoyingly to all of you professing and non-practising friends of mine as possible", attempted to commit suicide by gondola and then threatened to publish an edition of pornography in the names of his enemies (their crime, for the most part, that they declined to 'lend' him further money once it became clear that they were never going to get the last lot back).
Neither of these men is quite plausible, but one of them is real.

"Oddly inspiring and supremely pointless" - Andrew from Swimmer One interviews Bill Drummond.

Bran Mak Morn - the movie. With a Solomon Kane film also in the works, could it be that one day not that far away, Robert E Howard will no longer just be known as 'the Conan guy'?
(The director's past work does not enthuse me, it's true, but he does mention that he's also a fan of Slaine)

*Flipron, (The Real) Tuesday Weld and Mr Solo, whose band now contains more people than David Devant. All very good, obv.


Jun. 20th, 2008 10:59 am
alexsarll: (pangolin)
There have been some really good clouds this week, haven't there?

I only had a three day work week, and over the last two nights I've seen two of my very favourite bands, The Indelicates, and David Devant & his Spirit Wife. I have rambled ecstatically about both of them on numerous occasions before, so let us just say that this makes me very happy.
Before the Indelicates, we had Lily Rae (who reminded me at different points of Kirsty MacColl, Ute Lemper and PJ Harvey, but more than anything reminded me of the experience of listening to Amy Winehouse's first album and knowing that there's something remarkable there, but it hasn't quite hatched yet. Definitely someone on whom I intend to keep an eye.
Also, Keith TOTP And His Minor UK Indie Celebrity AllStar Backing Band, who possibly bit off more than they could chew by playing 'Anyone Fancy A Chocolate Digestive?' when less than half the band had heard it before, much less played it. At one point I did fear they might be stuck playing it forever if [ profile] thedavidx didn't work out a way to tell them when to end it.

Before Devant, though...that was something else. Met [ profile] augstone in Dray Walk, which is clearly the epicentre of Earth's hipness. I could feel it pressing in on me, like the atmosphere of Jupiter but with haircuts. Then returned to Vessel's art exhibition for the closing show, with performances by Mr Solo and [ profile] martylog. After which...a procession. I like processions, it's just a shame they're normally associated with causes. I suppose this one was too, a bit, but the signs were stuff like THIS IS HEAVY, and DOWN WITH SIGNS, and CLAP. Initially Aug had the CLAP, but then he left me with it, which I wasn't that happy about. Until, as we made our way along Portobello Road, some people did clap. And then outside a restaurant, Foz? (who was dressed as an orang utan) serenaded some diners with his pink ukelele, and I held the CLAP sign above him, and people clapped. This may be the proudest moment of my life to date.

Why did Day Watch get such bad reviews? It doesn't have the shocking novelty of Night Watch, obviously, but otherwise it seemed a worthy successor in every way. Possibly it even had more of an emotional core, without that feeling as tacked on as it can in genre adventure films. Plus, some great bodyswap comedy. I love bodyswap comedy, so long as I don't have to watch a whole film of it.
alexsarll: (Default)
I still don't know quite what to say after the H Bird show. Obviously I knew it was going to be a night of top pop entertainment, and as bittersweet as a farewell show's always going to be, but I honestly wasn't expecting to get a song dedicated to me just for hectoring them all into playing a gig, much less a cover of my favourite Lifestyle song. Thank you, H Bird. You will be missed.
(There's always the possibility of a reunion show, of course. This was one, in a sense, but it felt like more of one; watching them on stage, they no longer seemed quite so in-the-same-band as they used to, and suddenly I had fully formed in my head the pop star biographies of what they've been up to in the meantime, biographies which were blithely heedless of my knowing mere facts to the contrary. [ profile] augstone has seen a million faces and rocked them all, possibly in a stadium version of Rock Stone; [ profile] ksta's soundtrack work led to her marrying a big Hollywood mogul type, I think a director; and [ profile] hospitalsoup became a sort of Laurie Anderson experimental music figure)
Also a surprise: Mr Solo's support slot was not in fact solo, he performed as a double act with Eddie Argos! Which meant mixing a bit of Glam Chops material in there too, plus Art Brut's 'Moving to LA' for [ profile] ksta. This made me very glad; since they cancelled their cancellation for tomorrow's SB, I was upset to be missing them on account of White Mischief (which reminds me - who else is going?). On top of which we got a Bowie/Ronson moment with a pink toy guitar, and a further guest on drums - John Moore (whose Bo Diddley tribute, incidentally, is the best one I've seen). Which I guess made them Glam Chops Recorder.

What else have I been up to lately? A pub quiz, with mixed results, after which I accidentally intimidated a hoodie. At Clockwork I was impressed by one comedian's Seal of Rassilon tattoo* and another's Harold Shipman impression. On the screen, I was unimpressed by the original Deneuve Belle de Jour and vampire superhero sequel Blade: Trinity. Which may seem like very different films, but have strangely similar flaws - a lead who's restrained to the point of near absence, and hideous editing. It could also be noted that I liked both of the Daywalker's previous films; similarly, I liked the writing of Belle's namesake.

After a promising start, Marvel's Secret Invasion seems to be getting very bogged down; this week's issue had one lovely scene on the helicarrier, but was otherwise far too obvious for an event which initially seemed to be all about cutting the ground from under our feet. Ultimate Origins, on the other's clearly the original creators of the Ultimate U showing all the clever stuff they had hidden before Jeph Loeb comes in and craps all over the place with Ultimatum, but none the worse for that. A little too decompressed, perhaps, but that was the fashion at the time. Covering surprisingly similar ground, the new issue of Garth Ennis' The Boys is one of the strongest since the DC issues; he seems to have got the pee po belly bum drawers bit out of his system and got back to the really nasty stuff: business.
Single best comic of the week, though: the final part of Drew Goddard's Buffy story. Just like the best episodes of the TV show, there's not a page allowed past without doing something either hilarious, awesome or heartbreaking. Sometimes more than one of the above.

Anyone else been getting Scientologist spam lately? Way to win people over, cretins.

*The one tat there was ever any remote chance of me getting; having been beaten to it reduces the chance from slim to none.
alexsarll: (howl)
Isn't today meant to bring the worst storm in 20 years? I'm looking out the window and seeing gently waving branches, non-storm-clouds and patches of blue sky. Meteorology: it's like astrology except that you get taken seriously by people who don't read the red-tops.

Last night I saw The Vessel, Eddie Argos and company go glam. Well, I say that - it was actually one of the more subdued outfits I've seen Vessel wear, but Eddie's jumpsuit was quite something. Paranoid Dog Bark: top fun.

Checking out the week's TV schedules, there are only two things I want to see on terrestrial - and they both start at 9pm on Thursday. Nice work there, BBC. OK, most of the other stuff turns up on terrestrial within a week of its Freeview airing, but others never will; I'm not even sure I want to watch Tin Sandwich, Anyone? - A History Of The Harmonica, but bless BBC4 for making and showing it. I definitely do want to watch the final part of their Worlds of Fantasy, though I had definite issues with the second episode, about Tolkien and Mervyn Peake. The timeline the programme suggested, particularly coming after the previous episode about the child hero, has Tolkien applying his academic mind and singlehandedly crafting the fairytales and children's stories into modern fantasy. I overemphasise slightly - but still, where was the acknowledgment of Lord Dunsany or James Brance Cabell, cultish figures now but pretty big back in the (pre-Tolkien) day? What about the pulp authors? Sure, Clark Ashton Smith is all too easy a figure to overlook, but everybody's heard of Conan so some brief nod to Robert E Howard, please. Perhaps most important of all - isn't it worth mentioning that Tolkien was a key figure in making fantasy a genre, and that before him someone like Hope Mirrlees or Sylvia Townsend Warner could write the odd book we would now class that way in a career we wouldn't? What frustrates me is not even leaving these writers out of history; I'm used to that. It's that even if you do know about them, Tolkien still achieved something unique and remarkable, and I'd have loved to see the opinions of some of these talking heads - China Mieville, say, or Dianna Wynne Jones (Toyah Wilcox less so) on what exactly that something was. The closest I can come is to say that there's a solidity to Middle Earth, as against the more fabulist fantasy of Tolkien's predecessors and peers. It's not a fairyland; its rules are not so very different from our world's.
And that brings us to the real elephant in the room - Tolkien's influence. The talking heads were all happy to claim a Gormenghast influence, but Tolkien was discussed more as shaping the whole form than as a personal guiding light. Understandably, because Tolkien's a bit like The Doors: great, but anything taking him as a direct influence, sucks. Good fantasy draws on that earlier tradition, or Peake's phantasmagoria; the crappy sagas clogging up the shelves owe Tolkien. The only way anything good ever comes from that road is in opposition, turning on the debased tropes of Fantasyland with the wit of a Terry Pratchett or the savagery of George RR Martin. the solidity of Tolkien's subcreation inspired mere stolidity; he was a genius whose great work unwittingly turned a whole field into mush for decades.

Great Grant Morrison news: Seaguy 2: Slaves of Mickey Eye is go! The interview (containing links to previous parts) also contains indications of a possible reconciliation with Millar, and news that there's still no progress on reprinting my favourite comic ever, Flex Mentallo. Remember that next time you wait for the trade.
In other comics news, I just tried to read the first issue of Pax Romana. The set-up sounded good (Vatican vs islam Time Wars), the art style's interesting, and I think the script's probably OK - but I couldn't get in to it through the lettering. I've never held with the idea that the letterer's doing his job if you don't notice the lettering - not noticing Todd Klein or Dave Sim's lettering would be a terrible waste - but I think this is the first time lettering has killed my interest in a book. Though maybe it doesn't help that I've just finished the best papal comic going, Kirkman's Battle Pope.
alexsarll: (bernard)
I wasn't so much surprised to find myself in a Hoxton jazz bar after the restaurant threw us out on Friday, as I was surprised that Howard Moon wasn't there. Later, having perhaps inadvisably carried on drinking even after the jazz bar, I found myself making my way home through a night so bitterly cold that I genuinely felt I had to check I was still wearing my clothes. I was.
Rather than resting after this trying experience with a flannel soothing my brow, I instead headed down to Dulwich with [ profile] augstone to see [ profile] martylog play through heavy distortion in a working men's club. You know at gigs, that area (usually a semicircle) in front of the stage where none of the audience want to stand too far forward? Here there was a legitimate reason: it was full of children hitting each other with the wreckage of a colouring-in book. Martin was followed by Simon Breed; I know six Simon Breed songs, and one of the things I remember about them is the creative use of obscenity. Bit of a problem when you're playing to toddlers, so I can only applaud his talent for adaptation, though I was somewhat distracted from his set by being used as cover in a child skirmish. Resolving to steal some of the kids' dance moves for Black Plastic, we departed, pausing only for dinner and an unnecessarily long Julian Cope song.
Black Plastic remains a delightful hybrid of Stay Beautiful back when it was packed with people I knew, and Love Your Enemies if the control panel had featured anything but self-destruct buttons. It reminds me why I like going out, especially when I see people dancing to something that's quite emphatically Their Song - be that [ profile] kitty_collar to 'Dance Magic Dance', or [ profile] chris_damage to 'Der Mussolini', or the Pink Grease boys gradually giving up the attempt to stay cool and getting down to 'The Pink G.R.Ease'.
On Sunday I should really, definitely have stopped drinking. But I had another birthday, and this one was in a pub with especially yummy cider (Thatcher Gold? Something like that). And then, well, The Black Arts ft. Mister Solo weren't playing where we thought they were, but Dirty Fingernails and Brontosaurus Chorus were, so it would be rude not to really, wouldn't it?
Tonight, therefore, I rest.

While I have been basically in favour of daylight saving time ever since reading this, I do tend to think that doing it in any increment smaller than an hour is a bit fvckwitted. The other note from the outside world: 40% of people consider social harmony more important than press freedom. Better that everyone muddle along together in the dark than doubt their leaders or neighbours, right? Anything for a quiet life! Dear heavens but the human race depresses me sometime. Did I say sometime? I meant most of the time.
alexsarll: (crest)
That line makes more sense now the charts mean nothing much, doesn't it? And David Devant's show on was only an inchoate feeling until someone else put it into words for me, but it had an air of finality. Ten years on from the debut album, which was meant to make them stars, they played it in order. First track of the encore, the track which came as a free 7" with the vinyl version. And then apparently thrashing through every other song that came to mind...they did say that they'd see us in three years for the Shiney on the Inside anniversary show, but I'm not especially expecting to see them before that. I don't know, maybe it was just the hearing-album-in-order thing that got me. I've only seen that done before at launch shows, not commemorations.
As first support, the Mystery Fax Machine Orchestra were as delightful as ever; I especially enjoyed watching their effect on the uninitiated. And Boogaloo Stu was entertaining enough, even if his outfit was a little *too* tight. But The Reality (edit: apparently these were They Came From The Stars I Saw Them, lying)...I can only surmise that they're sponsored by tobacco industry, because they had the non-smokers heading out on their mates' fag breaks, just to get away. The 100 Club itself, it should be noted, *stinks*. Not the gym fug of the Borderline, more the hospital corridor smell of cheap industrial cleaner. David Devant did provide card Fantasy Fags, but they never got round to enacting whatever magic might have empowered them. And on top of the smell...I saw a psster for a George Melly show. And this set me thinking, a little later, all we need now to sum up everything that's made this past week so abysmal is a Fopp poster. Turn around, and there's an ad for an instore right behind me. From that point on I was just surprised by the absence of Catherine Tate.

The Purple Turtle, on the other hand, doesn't smell at all bad; surprising, I know. But the terms of the music and such, I still like Stay Beautiful. I find Client fairly boring, but inoffensive, especially since they seem to have laid off the faux sapphism. But the clientele, my dears! So many very ugly people. And I mean that in terms of behaviour as much as anything, though be assured, many of the faces and outfits definitely qualify too. I'm sure it's not normally like this, but it has really rather shaken me.

Bear in mind, I couldn't (until now) investigate people's objections to the end of Heroes in any depth for fear of spoilers - but I get the impression that it was widely loathed. Whereas I'm just vaguely disappointed in the way I often am at the end of big superhero stories by the decisions taken with too much of an eye on the franchise's value and too little on the story. Some bits, though, just don't make sense. Queries, incorporating spoilers )
As ever, it is Hiro's arc whose development interests me most.
Still, at least The Shield is still on top form. I've meandered enough before about the bleakness of its moral universe, to general disinterest on here, but this week's episode found another marvellous way to play that.

"Speaking in Hull, the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, said..."I'm hoping that the central government will match up to what the council is trying to do. The response should be quick, fast and swift.""
Is there even a word for going past tautology and using *three* synonymous terms? Perhaps we should just file this as further evidence for Hitchens' argument that, where once the finest minds had nowhere to go but the clergy, times are very different now.
alexsarll: (marshal)
The smoking ban. Catherine Tate as the Doctor's companion next season. The death of Fopp. The weather. And just because that's not enough bad news to be getting on with, the Chavez/Ahmadinejad supervillain team-up rolls on. "Today Hugo Chavez is the most talkative, launching a tirade against the "barbarians" he says have invaded Iraq, and comparing them with the barbarians he says destroyed the ancient civilisations of Latin America." Now, by now I would hope anyone reading this journal appreciates that I am not naturally on the side of aggressive Catholic imperialism, but he is talking about civilisations which practised mass human sacrifice. Civilisations whose own subjectt states allied with the invaders because anything had to be better than being a source of blood and beating hearts for the Aztec death gods - and who, in spite of the ensuing conquistador atrocities, were probably right. But no, as far as the Secret Society of Supervillains, sorry, 'Axis of Unity', is concerned, because those death cults were enemies of the West, they must have been the good guys. Next week: because the Jews opposed the sacrifice of children to Moloch, Ahmadinejad decides that even if it does oppose every tenet of islam, reinstituting the worship of Moloch can't be all bad.

Looking for some small candle to hold against this darkness, I find only unconfirmed possibilities; Boris Johnson is apparently 'not ruling out' standing for Mayor of London against the loathsome liche-lord who, in life, was known as Ken Livingstone. And in the new NME Eddie Argos mentions the formation of The English Travelling Wilburys - a supergroup featuring himself, Luke Haines, David Devant (presumably he means the Vessel)...and Frank Sidebottom. One fears these might both be back-of-beermat plans, destined to leave no more trace than the morning fog - but right now they would appear to be the closest things we've got to hope. Hell, even The Thick Of It seems to have lost its pinpoint accuracy; this week's special may still have had some good swearing, but in its failure to anticipate anything like the shape of the Labour leadership handover, it no longer felt like a smuggled report of the truth behind the scenes, and that was always at least as much of a factor in its appeal.

edit: Reading back through the friendslist, Stockholm Syndrome seems to be breeding excuses for the abomination Tate. As a public service, I offer a reminder of potential companions less inevitably dreadful than a reprise of Donna from The Worst Who Episode Ever:
Dalek Sec (having swapped his smart suit for a hoodie, better to appeal to Ver Kidz)
Russell T Davies' sphincter, expelling its contents onto the camera lens every five minutes
A Slitheen in a fez

January 2016



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