Posts from 28th September 2003

28
Sep 03

Spizzazz

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Spizzazz: While we’re on about the sidebar regulars, Spizzazz is back to full posting strength with a new design (won’t load on my slow connection) and at least one new member. I’m really glad, Spizzazz is and remains terrific. Postings there had slowed down and I was concerned that they might have given up the good fight in the face of public indifference, apparently not though. The blog attracts praise and criticism for its fresh-faced style but I don’t think it gets enough credit for unearthing and talking about new tracks very early. In fact I know it doesn’t because a Spizzazz associate told me it doesn’t in the pub and I thought, blimey, he’s right.

The Church Of Me

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The Church Of Me comes to a gratifyingly happy end this week. I’ve not always agreed with it – let’s face it, I’ve not always felt like reading it – but it’s held down a place in my favourite links firstly for the times I have, secondly for being pretty much unique in its range and weight, and thirdly for sticking to the principle that listening to music reflects the inner life of the listener, and so criticism should too. Listed building status (and a book, apparently) awaits. Congratulations, Marcello.

I DON’T KNOW BUT I BEEN TOLD ESKIMO PUSSY IS MIGHTY COLD

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I DON’T KNOW BUT I BEEN TOLD ESKIMO PUSSY IS MIGHTY COLD

No, not an attempt to bring the vast audience of Inuit Porn seekers to a new cultural awareness of things literary – but instead Garth Ennis’ Vietnam-era Punisher series, BORN, which came to an end this week.

BORN‘s strong and violent Ennis meat, well worth reading and should be earmarked for trade soon enough, but it’s also a bit strange in a lot of ways. I’m not really sure why it’s there – well, it’s there because Garth Ennis wanted to write it and Darick Robertson wanted to draw it and they both did a bang-up job. But it doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know, either about the working of Marvel’s fictional universe or, unsurprisingly, about Vietnam – there’s a kind of “I remember it vividly, I saw the movie” hyperreality to Ennis’ Nam, essentially because the Punisher is there and it’s a matter of historical fact that he was nowhere to be found. The overall effect is that you’re drawn in by seemingly real human beings that you can care about and then booted out again by the scowling face of the crime-despising serial killer you love to hate to love. It’s tempting to compare this to Ennis’ frankly better WAR STORY issues for Vertigo, but there’s no point because WAR STORY was all about thoroughly-researched character studies showing the effects of war on human beings. We don’t get any human beings here. We get the murderous Mr P.

So if this is his show and his origin, what do we get? Blood in extraordinary quantities, obviously, but we like that. We get the fact that he clearly enjoys killing people, which we also know and like from his regular series. Ennis is allegedly dropping some of the more outrageous black-humour elements from the book and restyling it as a more sombre sweary title, so we get a preview of the future, and it looks fairly intense in a good way. We get more than enough – this wasn’t sold to me as WAR STORY. It’s a PUNISHER comic and considering 99.9% of all such things before Ennis were terrible, terrible shit, it’s up to the usual high standards we’ve recently come to expect, with added Charlie-in-the-wire-dammit Veetnam hi-jinks, as seen on TV.

Except. It is suggested – and I’ll keep spoliers to an absolute minimum here – that Frank Castle (for it is he) managed to be a Special Forces captain on a third tour of Vietnam and also not a day over 35 in 2003, not with Grecian 2000 and facelifts as you might expect, but with some supernatural help. I have been here before. And it sucked. If this character does have any appeal, it’s very much reliant on him being an ordinary insane man who has no powers or gimmicks aside from being an obvious psychopath. Once you subvert that, even if it’s by calling attention to the fact that if he was in Vietnam he should be a bit older, you’re on a hiding to some terrible sub-Moore ‘my life was a lieeeeeeee’ reworking. And considering that The Punisher’s had two of those already and his current sick-humour leanings could be said to be the last drop of juice being expertly wrung from a damp rag by a master juice-extractor, it’s a risky strategy at best. If anyone could kill this monstrous cash-cow before he destroys himself, it’d be Ennis, but the signs are that he’s not done playing yet. We shall see.

DICKIE VALENTINE – “Finger Of Suspicion”

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#27, 7th January 1955

Dickie is backed up here by The Stargazers, who redeem themselves for “I See The Moon” by doing a slick job on a flimsy but enjoyable crooner. The song is really little more than an extended chat-up line – “Someone broke into my heart and stole a beat or two / The finger of suspicion points at you” – but it’s smartly done, nobody overdoes things, at least until a nasty organ honk in the closing seconds. Valentine seems on this showing a fairly indifferent singer, but the slight strain and rasp in his voice makes for a winning performance of a song that might easily tip into unctiousness. 5

WINIFRED ATWELL – “Let’s Have Another Party”

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#26, 3rd December 1954

This is also a knees-up party record but of a whole different order. It’s a medley – nay, a megamix – of music-hall hits instrumentalised, mashed together and played sped-up on a piano. I imagine Grandma out of Giles cackling away as she thumps the ivories at some family bash. Winifred Atwell recorded about 800 of these. They all sound the same – think a one-woman 50s Scooter – and it was a devil to track the right one down. They’re pretty good though: you can tell why she had the Christmas party scene in a headlock this year. The version I found goes straight into its B-Side which has, rather wonderfully, a guitar overdub halfway through that took me absolutely by surprise. It’s there for no reason at all, it just plays along with a few notes then drops out again. I love it: it’s one of the first sightings of something great in British pop, the joy in a new noise for its own sake.

Write it down! If (y)our stomach NEEDS FOOD NOW, then the next recipe…

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Write it down! If (y)our stomach NEEDS FOOD NOW, then the next recipe delivers that in about 15 minutes.

Cook 2 chicken fil(l)ets in ten minutes.
Heat can of creamy mushroom soup.
Add one (two, three,…) spoon of curry powder.
Cut up chicken in bite-size pieces.
Add cooked chicken to the mushroom soup.
Just before serving add about 200 ml of cream.
Pour over steamed rice.

Presto!

Oatmeal porridge made with milk

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Oatmeal porridge made with milk is already deadly rich and creamy, but it seems to invite you to put MORE cream on it (and probably butter and creamcheese and chickenfat and…): oatmeal porridge made with water has a glassier texture and taste, which I always forget that I prefer. I like it with salt not sugar or jam, because that’s how I was brought up: there’s a kind of comforting presbyterian austerity to it which says WINTER IS HERE YOUNG MAN! As I’m not really that young a man and my central heating boiler needs fixing, I actually already knew this.