alexsarll: (default)
A month without an update there, when really I should have posted about the blossom and the moon, the Wapping waters, the Salisbury and the Constitution, and actually watching Eurovision again now the Russians have pissed off enough of their client states to ruin the bloc voting. Ah well. There was an end to Her Parents staying together for the kids, and I finally saw the Indelicates do 'Dovahkiin' live, and orchestral, with a half-lit giant heart the perfect backdrop. And sticky though that venue was, it still has nothing on the decrepitude of the Electric Dog Show's cave, where Quimper and the venue remain unsound, in different yet somewhat complementary manners. Gyratory System are more upbeat, less pummeling than usual - like the music from a Soviet animation about a happy factory. And headliners Howlround do cruel things to old tape, like they're trying to send a 1960s supercomputer insane. Not sure I'd listen to it at home, but mesmerising to watch.
And I even went to a biggish gig, the sort I normally avoid on account of the sort of audience they attract. Turns out the Union Chapel must be enough to deter the talkers, because Mick Harvey (aka the talented one from Nick Cave's bands) was received in appropriately stunned silence as he played some of his Serge Gainsbourg reworkings. It wasn't entirely reverential - how could it be, when he turned the end of 'New York USA' into a wonderfully black joke, or played the obligatory 'Je t'Aime' as deliberately half-arsed karaoke? But people were paying enough attention only to laugh or talk back when it was mandated, to remain spellbound and silent for 'Initials BB' or the heartwrenching possessiveness of 'Sex Shop'.

Went to the Boring conference on Saturday which, unlike its predecessor, was at no stage actually boring. Alas, managed through drink to mislay most of the delegate pack (Chewits, puzzle book) and also the programme, so I can't remember the names of half the speakers. The biggest surprise was the perpetrator of Comic Sans, whose entrance I felt I could not applaud, but who turned out to be OK. His original impetus was valid - a cartoon dog does not talk in Times New Roman. It's not his fault that precisely the same mistake which inspired Comic Sans now applies it indiscriminately where it doesn't belong. Still, I wonder if Alan Moore knows Watchmen was one of the font's key inspirations and, if so, whether that's another reason he considers its influence to have been so poisonous?

Films: Behind the Candelabra is exactly the mixture of camp and misery I'd expected, with only Rob Lowe's scene-stealing a surprise. The Wind Rises is as painfully beautiful as Miyazaki's farewell was always going to be. Kill List confirms Ben Wheatley as a properly uncanny talent, its bad men in the edgelands leaving a creeping sensation akin to a British True Detective. This Is The End, conversely, is an American The Trip, albeit with more sodomy. Maybe Coogan and Brydon will head that way next series. Godzilla was my first IMAX experience, and what better film for a format all about the BIG and LOUD, while BBC4's Duchess of Malfi was equally terrifying on the intimate scale.
alexsarll: (default)
A few weeks back, Livejournal stirred into something approaching life, and in the manner of the old days there was A Meme. About what people were up to a year ago, five years, ten. And the nostalgia of it all...well, people sometimes forget that the '-algia' in there is pain. That was an apt precursor to The World's End. Shaun of the Dead was already a film about the pain of growing up, so stack the best part of another decade on top of that, then go see it with some approximation of the old gang, and even a film assembling this much comic talent (and there are plenty of laughs) is going to feel like a twisted knife in places. I can't recall such a bittersweet comedy which is still so successful qua comedy since Withnail. Part of the power is in the way it dodges polemic: yes, refusing to grow up is seen as a sad and sorry way to live, but so is growing up. In so far as there's any kind of answer, it's the knowingly grand and ridiculous grab for another, impossible option which reminds me of the Indelicates' 'Dovahkiin'. It's not just a self-regarding elegy, mind - it also has lots to say about how the new cinema ideal of bromance is no more realistic or healthy than the Hollywood take on romance. Which is obviously no less saddening. I'm going to miss the Cornetto Trilogy, not mollified by their being in part films about missing the films you grew up on.
Also seen at the cinema (on the same day, which I don't believe I've ever done before - it does the trailers no favours): Pacific Rim, in which Guillermo del Toro has giant robots punch monsters, and vice versa, in a delightfully solid way which always feels like a Guillermo del Toro film, until the humans start interacting with each other when his normal sureness of touch deserts him, and even normally dependable actors fall oddly flat (one excellent and un-publicised cameo aside). And not at the cinema, but on the same day as its cinematic release, A Field in England. Which I applaud, even while thinking that a little more forethought about the casting might have made it more instantly convincing as the psychedelic horror it wants to be, rather than the oddball comedy as which it inadvertently opens.

More nostalgia: the Buffy-themed bash at the GNRT. Even more so, back to the Woodbine for the first time in a while, and the last time was itself the first time in a while too. As if to emphasise how long it is since that was a regular haunt, there's foliage growing into the Gents' and a wine called Tempus. Subtle symbolism there, Life. Still, there have been times of living too. Celebrating the Solstice atop Primrose Hill, and walking back from Mr B and the Mystery Fax Machine Orchestra along the dusky Parkland Walk, eternal moments when the level of drunk and the setting are exactly as they should be and one feels no longer apart from the world but in contact with the infinite and suffused with joy and peace. Took [ profile] xandratheblue to Devon and, in the five years or so my parents have been there, this was the first time I swam in the sea, as against paddling, because for once I'd timed it right weatherwise. And we found a dragon skull on the beach. Then to lovely little Sherborne, and up Dancing Hill, which is in fact rather steep for dancing but I guess satyrs are nimble. Back in London, we were greeted by St Paul's and it's blue trees as a reminder that, lovely as holidays can be, this is the place to be. Though we did then go see Eddie Argos in an Edinburgh show about holidays, which might have made more sense before rather than after our own. Still lovely, mind.
(Other Edinburgh previews seen: Henry Paker, being powerfully bald, and Jeff Goldblum and his prawn (aka Ben Partridge). Not seen near so many this year as the last couple)

Wrapping up, since who knows when I'll get round to posting again: having chance to dance to Pink for the first time since Don't Stop Moving stopped moving, and 'Elephant Elephant' for the first time full stop, was a delight; I like the view from Telegraph Hill, though not the walk there in the sun (and it should have kept the old name, Plowed Garlic Hill); and I love how in a European city the Holy Thorn Reliquary would be in the cathedral, what with having part of Jesus' crown of thorns inside, but in London we just stick it in a back room of the museum, because we basically have the warehouse from the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark but let tourists wander around it 'cos we're cool like that.

*I've seen the Indelicates and Keith Totp (&c) twice since I last posted, and the Indelicates don't even play London that often anymore. Even seen the very seldom-sighted Quimper, who are coming into their own with the new live set-up, all disturbing projections and shadowed lurking. Also Desperate Journalist, who already had a good soundscape going, but are a lot more compelling now [ profile] exliontamer has started really going for it on stage. And Mikey Georgeson aka Vessel aka Mr Solo, formerly a frequent fixture (and I think probably still the performer I've seen live the most times) for the first time in a year or so. He was, of course, excellent - the new tracks as good as ever, in particular 'I See What You Did There' and the waltz which sounds like imperial phase Bowie working with Tom Waits.
alexsarll: (Default)
I am in a church social club where one of my favourite bands are launching their concept album about David Koresh. I want to go to the loo, but it is marked 'DANCERS ONLY'. Two of my favourite singers are waiting for their guest spots as ATF agents, and insist that I should do a dance to make sure I am able to use the loo. Not a dream, not a hoax, not an imaginary story. And from there the weekend went pretty much like the last days of the Roman Empire, except I don't think the Romans had cider. [ profile] charleston's birthday gig was at the Silver Bullet, which I may have mentioned before is one of my favourite venues what with the whole being-at-the-end-of-my-road thing, but the cider on tap there is Addlestones, which while very tasty is maybe not the best idea for prolonged sessions with dancing, so apologies to anyone caught by what I'm told was some impressive flailing.

A poor Doctor Who this weekend from Matthew 'Fear Her' Graham, supplying the opening to the dull, plot-holed two-parter which each new series season seems inexplicably obliged to offer. It was not entirely without merit - the setting was excellently atmospheric and Fang Rock, the lack of any aliens was a welcome escape from the formula of recent years* and Matt Smith was as excellent as ever - but boy, was it boring. Run through every cliche in the clone/replicant book, and just for good measure, add in a few moronic errors - "only living things grow" was a particular corker, but I think I may have winced even more at "cars don't fly themselves", simply because it thought it was so science-fictional and clever, while failing to notice that automation of driving is progressing a damn sight faster than getting cars airborne. Got the bad taste out of my mouth on Sunday with Planet of Fire, where Peter Davison goes to an alien planet which looks authentically alien because it was filmed on Lanzarote - although they do rather undermine that by then having a few scenes on Lanzarote too. But still, Turlough being a devious little sh1t! Peter Wyngarde as an evil high priest! And tiny Master in a box! That, Graham, is how you write a cliffhanger.

The news, as ever, is mostly too dismal for comment, but I find the whole Strauss-Kahn business especially grim. The IMF has its uses, but on the whole it has tended to take advantage of circumstances to screw low-status workers from poor countries, and not give a fig for their objections. And then suddenly the managing director is headline news because he tried to do that to one low-status worker, instead of a nation's worth? Just goes to prove what Stalin said about how one death is a tragedy but a million is a mere statistic...

*If the Flesh turns out to come from space, I will not be impressed. I suspected my hopes for a return to pure, alien-free historicals were not going to be met, but in their absence, strictly Earth-born near-future threats in the vein of WOTAN, Salamander and BOSS at least move us a step away from invasion-of-the-week.
alexsarll: (bernard)
Been a while since I woke up in the afternoon! Testament to the majesty of Soul Mole, I would say.

You ever read one of those print-on-demand books? I can see the appeal of the idea, certainly - there are books where it doesn't make economic sense to have a warehouse full of ready stock, but where the long tail means you can make money by having one ready to roll when someone flashes the cash. I was glad to see some when I realised Westminster libraries, presumably on the same jag that led them recently to acquire what looks suspiciously like the complete works of Edgar Rice Burroughs, had bought in a couple of POD editions of stories by the great Arthur Machen (acquaintance of Wilde, inspiration to Lovecraft, and inadvertent originator of the legend of the Angels of Mons). One of them I hadn't read; 'The Terror'. Which (in with the mixture of essential conservatism, structural imbalance, genuinely queasy horror and strange, pagan poetry one expects from Machen) manages, with its references to Huvelius' De Facinore Humano, to anticipate Ken MacLeod's conception of the True Knowledge - a philosophy founded on the most pessimistic cynicism about human nature which breeds utopian results. But, typically, I digress. The edition was not the one I had on my Facebook bookshelf, but one from and blow me, it was a disaster. I don't mean the cheapo production or binding, I expected that from POD. I mean the text. Words change spelling within a sentence, even the word which gives the story its title sometimes becoming 'tenor'. Paragraphs break
at random points in sentences. or punctuation appears where it is not wanted,, or already placed. It is, as best I can tell, the same text available free online here - though in an appropriately Machenical turn of events, such errors are, for no reason on which one can put one's finger, somehow less of an affront on screen.
Still, enough - the publishers distracted me from the text once, I should not let them so totally distract my account from it too. Over to Machen for the close, as he explains why conventional ideas of detection tend to let us down when confronted with the unprecedented:
"You can't believe what you don't see: rather, you can't see what you don't believe...mere facts, without the correlating idea, are nothing and lead to no conclusion."

Who could have guessed that "one of the world's most wanted men" would be a nasty piece of work called James Bulger? Makes me wonder whether Jon Venables and Robert Thompson really were just children-gone-wrong; I'm thinking in terms of a story about a time traveller's embarrassment at going back to the early twentieth century and bumping off a perfectly innocent baby who happened to share the name Adolf Hitler.
(In other dead child news, the McCanns' latest attempt to point the finger at anyone but themselves would seem to implicate cult superhero and Rorschach inspiration The Question. Who did always come across as a bit strange, but this really doesn't strike me as his style)

Anyone looking for a smallish, scuzzy but workable venue in North London - I can make a recommendation (if not an unreserved one) of Bar Monsta in Camden. I was there to see the Indelicates on Wednesday and while the sound wasn't perfect for the live bands (a bit of mic trouble, mainly), I've seen much worse in venues with better reps. The band themselves were charming as ever, opening with what I gradually realised were the lyrics to 'Breakin' The Law' over the intro of their own 'Fun Is For The Feeble-Minded'. Later I feared they were about to sell out by doing an encore, but having hushed the crowd's applause, Julia whistled briefly, then went back to putting her keyboard away. Heroine.
alexsarll: (Default)
So I'm on the 29 bus home from the Indelicates; it's been intermittently chucking down, and I am trying my level best to read, stay vertical, and not let my umbrella drip on anyone. Suddenly, I am distracted from Three Men In A Boat by outraged shrieking. A Concerned Mother is yelling at an apparently blameless chap sat on the back seat "YOU TOUCH MY DAUGHTER! DON'T YOU TOUCH MY DAUGHTER! SHE FOURTEEN YEARS OLD! I CALL POLICE!"
She then proceeds to start hitting him with her bag. Aforementioned daughter is, as any teenager would be, mortified by the display and attempts to move further from a) her mother and b) the alleged assailant, whom she was nowhere near from at latest the point where my attention was drawn to the situation.
The bus lurches. The daughter slams bodily into your innocently reading narrator.
I wonder briefly whether the mother's English is good enough to grasp the concept 'own goal', but am mainly profoundly glad that that was the lurch of the bus slowing for my stop.
(And for the record, you dirty-minded sods - no, not with someone else's)

The Indelicates had, of course, been excellent as ever, although given some of the banter I feel the need to act as peacemaker in the needless beef apparently developing with [ profile] kgillen over the lyrics to 'Heroin'. Kieron - it's meant to be a pastiche of bad indie lyrics. Indelicates - he likes lots of your other songs. Let's all stay calm here, eh?
They were supporting, inexplicably, another 'new Lily Allen' - this one anointed not only by being a female singer-songwriter with a London accent, but by famous parentage. Alas, while I respect Bill Oddie greatly, his daughter hath not the pop skillz of Keith Allen's.

And if I'm trying to keep this semi-linked, the Indelicates' masterful dedication of anti-protest song 'Julia, We Don't Live In The Sixties' to "the million people who marched through London to protest against the removal of a fascist government" brings us nicely to the depressingly predictable outrage over Sir Salman Rushdie's knighthood. My sentiments on this moronic, self-contradictory posturing and anyone spineless enough to sympathise with it for a moment do not need any lenghthy elucidation, but they do make me a little sad that I have almost finished my current bag book, Christopher Hitchens' excellent God Is Not Great; at times like this, it's nice to have an excuse to register on every public transport trip one's utter contempt for monotheism's claims to 'respect' simply by the title of one's reading matter. If you'd rather have a less hectoring Dawkins who learned a little more about prose from Wodehouse and a little less from the zealots he condemns, then this is the heretical grimoire for you. I resist the temptation to quote from it as extensively as it deserves, but shall content myself with noting that I'm still giggling at his description of one particularly witless creationist screed as "unlikely even to rate a footnote in the history of piffle".

Elsewhere in the realm of baffling ideologies: "30 masked anarchists armed with CS gas, iron bars and baseball bats stormed the stadium at approximately 11:20 pm while the Beastie Boys were performing." Are the Beasties agents of The Man now, then? I appreciate that they've gone off the boil a bit lately, but this still seems excessive as a critique of their recent work.
alexsarll: (bill)
For the first time this year, I could walk to the Beautiful & Damned along the Parkland Walk, but my reverie was soon interrupted by posters warning that Haringey Council and TFL want to lay a ten foot wide cycle path. Not that the Green Man seems the sort to allow anything of the sort, but anybody wishing to lend him a hand - the meeting to say them NAY! is at Coleridge School, Crouch End Hill, 7.30pm on May 3rd. Though if the campaign does have a web leg, I can't find it.
The mysterious 'special guests' were a band called The Procession, whose album I eventually realised I'd listened to once and then discarded because it was OK but I'd never listen to it again. Better live, in a Ben Folds sort of way, but still not really appropriate to B&D. Later, we got one Frank Sinazi (who rather polarised opinion, shall we say - personally I thought he should have just done his 'That's Life' reworking 'Third Reich' and then stopped) and a rebel song from Shane MacGowan, which was more the thing.
After a brief stopover in exactly the sort of flat one hopes to find in Highgate, I decided that with the Walk in danger I should maybe make the most of it, so I walked it in the dark for the first time, Equipped myself with the first stout stick I found just in case, then upgraded it to what was essentially a log, but saw no sign of human life. Which in retrospect is possibly because I was a large, angry-looking man in a dinner jacket with a cudgel.

With the freebox finally back in operation after its mystifying sabbatical (maybe its comic needed a circulation spike?), I watched a BBC4 drama, albeit one I taped ages back - Reichenbach Falls. I don't really know the work of Ian Rankin, who came up with the original idea, but it makes perfect sense that the director should have worked on Life on Mars; in so far as one could make something like that programme without ripping it off outright, this is it. Which is to say, it's a cop show intertwined with a genre show, but here the detective's dilemma is that he may be in some sense fictional. Well, obviously he is, but he may be even within his own fictional world. A fine drama, and I'd be saying that even if it didn't have lovely, lovely Nina Sosanya as the detective's new partner.

Even after learning from Neil Gaiman's journal that the son of a writer I like mildly was among the victims, I find myself with little to say regarding the unfortunate events at Virginia Tech. Which is probably for the best, because most commentary on it can be summarised thus.

Popjustice-endorsed pop mag "has bombed in a way nobody connected with it could ever have envisaged", closes after one issue. In happier music news, this Rufus Wainwright interview has all the scandal and secrets one could want, and as such leaves one wondering which is the most dangerous influence: the Wainwright family, or crystal meth?

And finally, is anybody going to see the Indelicates at Nambucca tomorrow?

January 2016



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